Benjamin Guifo Fotso: December 2010

I am Benjamen GUIFO FOTSO, 29 years old, founder and president of the association Lanforal (Languages For All), Editor of the Magazine Langua Mag, member of International association of Teachers of English as a Second Language, I teach Business English in Douala Cameroon since 2003. I currently work with the Higher Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship (IME) based in Douala, and consultant at ODECI, Prime Exchange and other companies and persons in Cameroon and abroad.

When searching the latest BE materials and links on Google, I found the website, it was simple and attractive. I emailed Mister Dave Volek on April 9, 2010 thanking him for his initiative, because I satisfied with the lessons and activities I could get from his website, as I said in my mail his initiative was really helpful especially for us who are “In a country like Cameroon, where English plays a very important role, and where the ESL resources are not always available for Business English Instructors”. After that first contact Dave replied and gave me an opportunity to benefit from free DVBE modules, it was to complete a Survey on Teaching Business English. A few days later, I receive the first Module, STAN"S TENTS.

At that time I was running an intensive English Language Programme in my school, I didn"t try Stan"s Tents, I took time to go through it, and I found it just fascinating and it was the answer I had been looking for.

After reading both the Instructor's and Students' Manuals. I proposed it in our Languages and Communication Department to be studied in Level one and two in our School (the Institute of Management and Entrepreneurship). After its examination by the other colleagues, my proposition was accepted.

I drew up a syllabus including all the chapters of Stan"s Tents, when I sent him my syllabus he wrote: “I think your new ways are going to be very interesting to watch and see how they work. I am impressed with how you are thinking about DVBE. I really like the way you have divided up each day to have some regular ELT training (which the students are used to) with parts of STAN'S TENTS (to challenge both the English and business skills …).” In fact this division was occasion for me to involve my students in the module. At the beginning I was afraid that they would not understand well, but that was under estimating them because when practicing the chapter Product Attributes I realized that I was dealing with students who have some theoretical knowledge in marketing. And they could practice (like professional marketers) with concrete examples.

My students were so interested that they don"t wait to discover a given chapter in class, but they prepare it in advance so that the “D” day we discuss with professional ideas.

I decided to make Stan"s Tents more professional by signing an agreement with a local Hotel (the Denver Plaza Hotel). In fact, with that hotel our students of level two were in charge of redesigning the marketing plan. We are still working on the project but thanks to the DVBE module Stan"s Tents our work is well appreciated.

It worth mentioning1 that Stan"s Tents is of a very importance to my students. It provides them with linguistics skills (grammar, vocabulary…) and also with professional knowledge (Business Simulations).

It also helps me (as the instructor) by facilitating the transmission of the English Language in general and Business English in Particular. Many students used to complain that English classes are dormant or that English is boring, but I think that it depends (partly) on the resource used, and with Stan"s Tent the class looks like a professional meeting. In my opinion, Stan"s Tent is a bridge between theoretical knowledge in marketing and the practice of marketing; everybody is involved.

This is what some students say about Stan"s Tents

Here with some of my Students and Colleagues after a football encounter!

Solange KOUONANG KAMGA , student in Computer Sciences Level two:

This is my second year as a student of Mister GUIFO, he tough me Business English last year, and he made me to fall in love with that language which is just a second language after French and my mother tongue. This year I was happy that he had been sent again in my class as our teacher. The first day he said that we would discover something special called “Stan"s Tents”. He explained what it was all about. Since I intend to be a computer scientist I told him that I don"t see how that book on marketing will be helpful to me. His answer was “Time Will Tell”. When we started studying that particular module, I realized that it was very interesting, and I use to take examples in my field of studies. I have learned a lot thanks to that module, I would really like to thank Mister Dave Volek for this brilliant idea and I don"t know how Mister Guifo managed to have this but I would also like to thank him a lot. And I am sure that all my classmates are fully satisfied with this innovative approach.

Danielle Vanessia DJOMO NKIEWONKEM, student in Logistics and Transport Level one

Stan"s Tent helped me a lot this year. In fact this is my first year in a professional school; in the past (in secondary schools) we used to have general (basic) English. This year, I have discovered and I appreciated the way Mister Guifo teaches us English, in fact I have the impression that I am not just a student, I am now like a professional, and I"m not afraid to speak English thanks to my Business English Teacher and to his or our partner in Canada the Dave Volek"s Business English and the books that we use.

Brian O"Sullivan: October 2010

My name is Brian O"Sullivan, and I"m an English teacher working in Chile.

My employer here recently asked me to take on a conversation course with no fixed syllabus, meaning I would have no textbook to follow or finish by the end of the course.

My students are working for a foreign-owned hydroelectric company building a dam here in Chile, and this particular group I'm teaching consists of Engineers responsible for Transmission Line Maintenance, Civil Works, Health & Safety, and Document Control. They have the technical knowledge but lacked a certain English fluency in working with numbers.

Having plenty of autonomy and discretion in material and syllabus, I built my work plan on the basis of the needs of the students after asking them to complete a short questionnaire. Themes that repeatedly arose when I was reviewing their forms included ‘my work", ‘my work", ‘transactions", ‘situations involving buying".

Based on this survey, I had to plan a course combining these objectives with supporting material.

Still unsure as to what exactly I would be looking for exactly, I delved into my archives of material, and after some searching,Dave Volek"s Tractor Deal jumped out at me. It had everything….Business English, numbers, simulation of transactional situations, technical specifications and it was related to my students" work (although they would not specifically purchase tractors per se, they are involved in the purchase of construction-related vehicles, machinery etc, which likewise would involve technical specifications).

In all honesty, I balked a little at the amount of technical terminology, but the module came with a glossary which was easy to follow, well-laid out and explained the terms which my students were likely to know anyway, so I reviewed the glossary with a cup of coffee (10-15 minutes max.). The instructor"s manual was pretty straightforward, so I decided to give it a go as it fit the class and their objectives like a glove. I planned to spread the module out over various classes of 90 minutes and begin with the Tractor Deal Online listening section.

I began the activity by modeling the first example myself so the students could see. After each listening, students compared answers and reviewed any language issues as a class with the aid of the transcript so students could see the language in context. During the listening and the review, I left a copy of the Glossary on the table for students to refer to at will, as and when required.

After each conversation had been reviewed and discussed, I put the students in pairs and handed each pair a copy of the Vocabulary worksheet included with the module. I let the students complete the sheet in pairs (two heads are better than one), with the transcript on display for their reference to aid students in deducing the meaning from context before comparing and reviewing their answers and moving on to the next module. After the 3rd conversation, as the students become more familiar with the accent and content, during the review, I had them re-enact the conversation following the script, in anticipation of the simulation to come.

The Listening was excellent preparation for the full-scale simulation still to come, especially with the transcripts which were a great help in post-listening language analysis. What I particularly noticed was how students were fascinated by the North American tendency to begin a business deal with small talk before moving on to business. This was a cultural reference that is often overlooked in Business English textbooks. Likewise students were very interested in the small talk and the more natural and informal language used. The transcripts were vital in presenting the language to the students and conveying the importance of context when discussing lexis and idioms, and how futile word for word translation attempts (the curse of the quintessential Chilean student) are without it. This was highlighted by the vocabulary exercises.

As my students are mostly engineers, they had no problem with any of the technical concepts expressed. They were often already well-familiar with the items and systems explained and often only needed the vocabulary to express it in English, which was provided in the technical glossary. They would find a term in English, ask me for an explanation or consult the technical glossary, before a sudden expression of recognition of the idea would break out on their faces as they nodded contentedly in reassured familiarity. They obviously knew the Spanish terms and were more than familiar with the concept.

The vocabulary exercises were highly successful, especially when completed by competing pairs, and during its completion, the students were deep in concentration, obviously gripped by the challenge. Furthermore, the technical glossary was a life-saver for me (the students were already quite familiar with everything and only really need the translation).

The main activity itself went quite smoothly, no doubt as a result of the level of preparation the online listening module allows for. I couldn"t help but noticing that the students were definitely more involved in the Tractor Deal than as is usually the case when we are working with role play activities from conventional text books.

I put this down to the Tractor Deal requiring much more problem-solving and thinking on the students" part than other role plays, which require all too often just bland repetition of language previously studied. This definitely gives the Tractor Deal an edge in being more realistic. Also, as the task requires students to consider various options, students have more practice with the phrases they use, as opposed to using in once or twice in a textbook role-play. Finally, as there are many roles and many tractor buying assignments, you can get great mileage out of the speaking simulation, far more than from a regular text book.

In conclusion, I can testify to the students finding the topic very relevant

After all, they have all the technical knowledge, and the module gives them the vocabulary to express it in English. Normally I use a standard business English course with my students here, which covers less specific, more generic catch-all topics such as Marketing or Employment which are less relevant to this particular group of students. The Tractor Deal was a breath of fresh air for the students in that they found the material far closer to their own specific needs, and I noticed a higher level of interest in the topic than usual. One of the group later told me that he often has to deal with similar specifications (albeit for different machinery), and found this activity particularly useful.

Both I and the students greatly appreciated the allowance for the exploration of ‘small talk" and informal language. It was nice to see language used by native speakers at its most natural, in which many course books fall short.

And equally importantly, the students had fun! They thought it was great fun telling each other what parts were ‘optional", and quoting the extra prices, while the buyers had just as much fun dramatically protesting in English. They liked The Tractor Deal so much, they asked me to present again!

As a teacher, The Tractor Deal took me out of my comfort zone, but in doing so, definitely broke the routine of course books. It expanded my own knowledge which greatly helped me as a teacher working with students with specific technical knowledge, leaving me feeling more prepared and confident in teaching these kinds of students.

I wholeheartedly recommend the Tractor Deal Online….it has to be tried to be believed. By trying it out, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain. I look forward to trying out more DVBE material at the next available opportunity.

Brian O'Sullivan
Rancagua, Chile

Buenos Aires Center by Nélida Gómez Vila

Preamble: by Dave Volek

PYBE (Practise Your Business English) was the previous marketing name for DVBE.

PYBE’s Argentinean coordinator, Nélida Gómez Vila, presented the first PYBE seminar in Latin America in January 1999. Eight students spent three days with an American professor going through six of the eight PYBE modules.

Most of modules mentioned in this testimonial are not currently for sale on this website. We believe the four modules currently listed on DVBE are better suited to introduce the DVBE program in 2004. The modules mentioned here will be reintroduced shortly.

Nélida had great plans for PYBE in 1999. Unfortunately, the economy of Argentina took a bad turn, and this kind of training was the first expense many companies cut. Nélida is once again setting up DVBE seminars in Buenos Aries.

The Professor and Susana discussing Stan’s Tents

Susana is an accountant and works for a telecommunications company in Argentina. She wanted to take this seminar because she traveled to Canada last year to take a business course. This was very expensive and she wanted to find a similar course in Argentina to get new training in business without the travel expense.

Marina, the Professor, Mario, and Graciela discussing The Computer Store.

Marina is an interpreter and translator. She was interested in taking a practical business course to expand her activities. Mario works for an airline as administrative chief. He wanted to improve his Business English skills to gain a better position in other Company.

Graciela is an executive secretary in a multinational company. She wanted to improve her Business English.

The Professor engaging the class in business English conversation

Front Row, left to right:
Pablo works in a public office. He wanted to improve his business English because he is studying economics.
Graciela (in second photo)
Susana (in first photo)

Back Row, left to right: Julieta is an accountant and administrative manager in a small graphical arts company. She wanted to know more about International Business because her company is trading with more than 10 countries.
Norma manages a small company with her brothers. She wanted to know practical business English
Clara is an architect. She and her husband (an engineer) have a small construction and engineering company. She manages the administration of the company.
Elisa is an accountant. She is helping to her daughter and her son-in-law with their small company which deals with communications and emerging technology.

Comments from the Students

"This Seminar was very interesting because in Argentina is not very common to learn the Practical side of the Business. I am used to take Courses here and they are always the same: theory and theory and nothing of practice. I would want to take other Courses more advanced with this method, for example: Business Management Control. It would be a great advantage for a lot of people.

"This Seminar was a great newness for me. At first, I thought: I have a good level of English and I have interest in business but really will I be able to understand it? Now, I can say I am very happy: I could practice and better my Business English and understand the American logic to do business"

"I such as Mario thought: What can I get in a seminar like this? And, now I am very happy. I could learn new things. Not only Business English I learned business subjects too, and in my position if I want to follow to maintain it, it is a great advantage"

"I knew some Multinational companies pay expensive courses to Directors and some managers abroad to learn this kind of business English tools, therefore, for me studying Economics it is going to give me some advantages. Apart from that the exercises are very good I could practice my English a lot."

"I needed a Seminar like this. I am working in a company, in which the problems are very similar to those given in the Seminar and I had to confront them without to be very sure. Now, I can do it."

"I had to take a Seminar like this. In my company I had to appeal to other persons to solve and make decisions and sometimes not obtaining the best results, now I will be able to do it by myself.

"I took this Seminar because I needed to know and practice Financial English. I took a lot of Courses in other Institutes but not one like this, I could learn and practice an effective Financial English with PYBE".

"When asked to Nélida about the Seminar, she explained me the subjects to be developed as for example: cash flow, line of credit, rate of return of an investment, etc. and I could not believe that: Could an Institute dare to give an English Course with these topics, here in Argentina?

So, I thought: I have a good command of English, I know the terms of Business English but I do not have the practice and precisely I was looking for it: "to take a course to practice my Business and Legal English" because a lot of Americans were going to our company and sometimes I had true dilemmas to understand them. I decided to take the Seminar and I am very happy. And I would wish to follow taking new courses with new subjects to improve my Practical Business English skills".

"I really liked this seminar. I learned and practiced a lot of Business English"


We presented Three Small Business Problems, Stan's Tents, Company Articles, The Computer Store, The Grocery Store, and The Currency Trader. The total of hours programmed were 24 but I had to add 4 hours (free) in order to discuss more some subjects (legal and negotiation, the financing subjects, for example) .

The Currency Trader was a module a bit confusing for the students at first. Then, they after they got used to it, they managed it very fine.

I took a small evaluation with a “secret ballot” (from 10% to 100 %: 10-30% BAD, 40-60% REGULAR, 70-80% GOOD, 90% VERY GOOD and 100% EXCELLENT ) about their preferences with reference to the modules. The results were:

Three Small Business Problems 100 % (8 votes)
The Computer Store 100 % (8 votes)
The Grocery Store 100 % (8 votes)
Stan's Tents 100 % (6 votes) and 90% (2 votes)
Company Articles 100 % (8 votes)
The Currency Trader 90 % (4 votes) 80 % (4 votes)

Another PYBE Testimonial by Les Thompson

While I was teaching EFL in South Korea in 1995 & '96, I was able to test a couple of Dave Volek’s business English (then known as "Practise Your Business English?PYBE) modules to some of my more business oriented students.

THE GROCERY STORE was a great numbers exercise. My students were really challenged to speak and hear clearly the "_____teen" and "______ty" word structures. If they didn’t realize the need for clear communications with these numbers before this exercise, they sure did after. As well, THE GROCERY STORE had some great informal teaching of some basic accounting vocabulary.

THE COMPUTER STORE was an excellent module for upper intermediate students. It gave them some rigorous practise in number expressions and manipulation. But more importantly, it required them to do some mental shifts in business thinking, to recognize that there was no "right" answer, but many different possibilities with some better than others. I even remember one student remarking after we had completed the module that now he understood exactly why his brother's small business had failed!

THE COMPUTER STORE also provided opportunities for discussion about business related fundamental issues, practice in clear presentation of ideas in English, and the chance to present a final understanding of the problem and one group's resolution of it to the whole class.

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