The provision of Business English Language courses for students in Israeli higher education institutions : an investigation of the needs of the providers, the students and the business community regarding Business English courses
This study investigates business English courses in Israeli institutions of higher education regarding the needs of the three stakeholders involved in these courses: the teachers (representing the institutions), the students and the business community. Initially, the importance of English in Israel is explored, specifically within the Israeli business community, in order to establish the necessity for studying English in Israeli institutions of higher education. Subsequently, the accountability, responsibility and responsiveness of higher education to its students and the community at large in the provision of relevant courses are examined. This study has both a theoretical and a practical aim. Theoretically, it examines existing concepts of English language teaching suited to present academic and future professional needs of Israeli business administration students; practically, it suggests future directions for the design of business English courses. The main objective of the study is to investigate whether Israeli institutions of higher education are accountable to the Israeli business community and their students regarding the teaching of business English courses. This study includes data, both qualitative (interviews) and quantitative (questionnaires), from the three stakeholders involved in academic business English courses. Critical action research is the methodological tradition employed as this research is a reflective inquiry with the possibility of instituting conscious changes in course design. Results illustrate that, although English is taught in every academic institution, and English for Specific Purposes courses are offered in most institutions, business English courses fail to provide the necessary tools, such as needs analysis and evaluation, for the success of these courses. Many of these courses also fail to provide for the future professional and career needs of students. Moreover, although these courses are geared to students’ present academic needs, students seem to express dissatisfaction with the courses. Findings also show evidence of a lack of communication between the stakeholders involved in business English courses. Hopefully, as a result of this study, Israeli academic institutions will include more stakeholder suggestions in the planning of business English courses, administrators will offer teacher training, and students will be made more aware of academic and professional demands.