rjcfraser – Business English Colloquium

What is a Business English Colloquium?

There are many methods for teaching English as a foreign language. Perhaps the oldest method for teaching and  learning anything is the Socratic method of question and answer dialogue. This is essentially what a colloquium is. It differs from a lecture, and it shouldn’t be in Greek. A Business English Colloquium is not teacher dominated, but led by students in dialogue with the teacher. Students take an active part in their own learning. The dialogue occurs between the teacher and students and the students with each other. This requires the most active engagement from the students, and a teacher who knows how to facilitate the process.

In Wikipedia we have the following definition

Colloquium can refer to:

An academic seminar usually led by a different lecturer and on a different topic at each meeting or similarly to a tutorial led by students.

The Parliament of Scotland, called a “colloquium” in Latin records

Any musical piece celebrating birth or distribution of good news, a hymn (antonyms: requiem, coronach)

Learning to Swim

Let’s undertake an analysis. These are our levels, B2, C1, C2; they are also our topics for Business English:  Trade Fairs, Business Meetings, etc.

The Five Core Skills

In most English teaching programs listening, speaking, writing, reading and grammar are the five core skills practices in all tests and lessons.

  1. In a Colloquium the five core skills concentrate on the activity in the central lesson, which is discussion and speaking based.
  2. Grammar is not ignored, but focused on at the end of the lesson. A summary of the grammar, or highlights of the specific points of grammar can be provided as the lesson progresses.
  3. Reading tasks can be set before or after the lesson, or during the lesson. The reading should provide a basis for discussion. New vocabulary from the reading should be highlighted or recorded in a notebook.
  4. Listening takes place in a proactive way in the conversation based lesson. The emphasis is on active participation.
  5. Finally, writing tasks can follow up on the content of the lesson. These take the form of ‘What is important’ in relation to the key central theme that has been discussed.

Essentially, the teacher is open to providing exact and spontaneous correction as and when necessary, but this will be integrated in an overall strategic approach to the core content of the lesson.

Doing the Work

A lot of learning success depends on practice and repetition. There’s nothing worse for a good swimmer to see someone with a bad style of swimming. They move slowly through the pool like a sack of potatoes. That’s why you need two things: repetition and guidance. Swimming in lanes is more like the homework that you do on your own. You practice a certain grammatical structure. Or, you note down a list of vocabulary. Maybe you read a text and try to reformulate in a summary. These are the elements of language learning that the teacher manages for the time spent outside the lesson.

From Meditation to Concentration

A good lesson is like going on a journey. The pleasure of swimming is the feeling of slowly becoming one with the water. The more you practice the more you are able to enjoy the feeling.  When you really go into a topic or discussion, it’s interesting what new ideas can come up. Everyone has stories from their lives that help us to see the world differently. A group can and should therefore be inspiring. Every member of the group has a role to play.

rjcfraser – Business English Colloquium

After many years of teaching and learning foreign languages, rjcfraser is the name I wanted to give to the idea of a Business English Colloquium.


5 Replies to “rjcfraser – Business English Colloquium”

  1. Wow I have never heard of a Colloquium before, and I am actually even more interested now!

    This is a very interesting approach that I find would be very beneficial for a lot of younger people. I like the idea of having multiple perspectives and learning from more than just one source.

    I will definitely keep Colloquium in mind so I can continue to read up on it. like I said I haven’t heard of it before. 

    Thank you for sharing this great information!

  2. I have just came across your website Richard and your blog post makes for interesting reading. I’m learning something that I feel I need to know more about, even though I am a native English speaker!

    I didn’t know what the word Colloquium meant, but I do now, I certainly didn’t know the Scottish parliament was called this according to Latin records.

    I like your description regarding the swimmers, they all have a different expression on their face, some are taking note of the tutor and some are not, it’s amazing how the human mind switches on and off and goes elsewhere!

  3. Hello there,

    I found your post very exciting and interesting. As an English teacher in China I found your ideas about English colloquium very fresh. Without even knowing I have used this style in many of my classes.While it always depends on the skill level of students as English improves at a great rate in China this style will be of immense use and will need to be focused on intently.

    Thanks Richard you have given me many new ideas that I will be using at a higher level as my students move forward.

    1. Hi Paul,

      I’m really pleased you liked it and it could be of some use. In my experience higher level language learning has to be a more artistic collaborative approach.

      Best wishes,


  4. The colloquium was a supposedly completely unknown concept for me, but the explanation revealed that it’s actually something that is remotely known for me, although I haven’t really experienced such learning process myself. And I wasn’t aware of the details of how it actually takes place and the core ideas of it. 

    You explained that beautifully though.

    I absolutely loved the unique of a way you wrote the article in. I mean, for me learning about a style of teaching a language isn’t all that compelling, but your article really captured and held my attention.

    Thank you for all the knowledge shared, I truly appreciate it!

    Cheers and have a Great One!


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