Pete Sharma’s Six greatest business English books ever

Pete Sharma

Another guest list, everyone! This time we’re joined by Pete Sharma, teacher, teacher trainer and author. Recently known for his work on Blended Learning, Pete has been a business English teacher for many many years. He’s also been in charge of the book reviews for the EL Gazette. Who better placed to dish out his opinion on the greatest business English books ever published! Read on to find six of the best…

1 Business English, by Peter Wilberg and Michael Lewis, LTP

Described by Lewis as ‘a book of blank pages’, this was the book every one-to-one teacher was waiting for. Full of word lobsters, key-word diagrams and ways of recording collocations, it broke all the laws of publishing and was produced as a ring-binder. Moreover, it was printed in faint green to avoid being photocopied, as so preserve the original intention of the creators: as a business English ‘filofax’ for storing and retrieving lexis.  It would be worth going on Desert Island Discs for, just to request this as the book you would take to a desert island, along with the Bible and Shakespeare. As far as I know, no longer available, like a new Beatles record and many of the best things in life.

2 The Business English Teacher’s Resource Book, Sharon Nolan and Bill Reed, Longman

All you need to teach business English is a set of ‘framework materials’. Imitated but never bettered, this spiral-bound book was bigger than A4 size so you could legitimately photocopy it.  Ahh – the S.W.O.T. analysis page! The authors, like Zager and Evans, made history and were never seen again.

3 in company, by Mark Powell, Macmillan

Only one business English course book makes the top six – one out of zillions of business English course books on the market. For most of my own business English career, I studiously avoided course books. On a masters course, I agonised over the pros and cons of using a course book for the module on ELT materials. Then along came “in company”. Powell’s original presentation of it at IATEFL York still brings tears to my eyes – pogo-ing around the room, hands crossed tightly across his genitalia, demonstrating how NOT to wave your arms about in a presentation. Contains the single best page in business English teaching – the ‘Ten-point presentation plan’. How many times have business English teachers copied that page, reducing the full-colour original to mere black and grey? Driven into existence by the great David Riley, the original Intermediate book stands the test of time, the lexical approach made flesh. 

4 The Internet and Business English, by Barney Barrett and Pete Sharma, Summertown Publishing

Does it smack of narcissistic self-adulation to include one’s OWN book in a list of six? Ah yes, but it’s not there because of the undeniably brilliant content. It’s there because only Louis Garnade, the entrepreneurial Dutchman and honorary BESIG life peer would have the audacity to bring out a teacher’s book in COLOUR. Most publishers would faint at the idea and assume he and niche Summertown Publishing had decided to commit commercial suicide. We are left with one of the most beautiful Teacher’s Books ever. Shortlisted for the English-Speaking Union Award, it took its authors to Buckingham palace to see where John Lennon had smoked that joint. Garnade complained bitterly that the authors hadn’t spent enough on lunch, and we were forced to order another round of sushi. But I digress. Marshall Cavendish have hardly any stocks left and they don’t intend to reprint, so get it now or forever live without.

5 The Business English Handbook, Paul Emmerson, Macmillan

Ignore the marketing claims on the cover: “The whole of business English in one book”. Tosh. Ignore the fact that against all logic, you cannot photocopy the mind-map you want. Bizarre. Accept it for what it is: a book full of business English mind-maps, on finance, globalisation, marketing and more…… Accept, and enjoy.

6 Presenting in English, Mark Powell, Thomson

Two books by one author in the same list?  Indeed. Criticised for being derivative of those old courses in ‘rhetoric’, how many presentation skills trainers have not turned to the pages on sound-chunking, tripling and dramatic contrasts? Rumour has it that Barack Obama has a copy under his pillow. I saw it, touched it and bought it. Ask not what this book can do for you, but what it can do for your students.

Published in: on February 4, 2009 at 11:10 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] Thanks to Lindsay Clandfield for including this offering on his blog: six things […]

  2. i’ve long been a fan of “presenting in english”, especially the whole part on chunks and sound sculpting and so forth. great exercises to get students repeating self-generated target language without that robotic repetitive feeling. suppose ill have to check out the other titles on the list as well now…

  3. Hmmm… agree with most of the list (especially no.4) – except er, that er, whole of business in one book.

    Now, I’m usually a Paul Emmerson fan but HOW did that make the list?

    Alright, I know things can be subjective, but have you Pete, Lindsay, tried using it?

    Yeah, gods, aside from the fact that the mindmaps are just plain odd, the exercises range from being way too difficult to way too easy and thus very difficult to use -you don’t know which ss level to pitch it at (and I tried -individuals as well as groups).

    Like I said, normally, love PM’s materials but this is just one of those books that might be like recent John Grisham’s , ya know, published because the author’s famous not because it’s worth it.

    not a fan of #5

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