Interview with international Business English trainer Phil Warwick

Interview with international Business English trainer Phil Warwick

Interview with international Business English trainer Phil Warwick
“Doing FTBE totally changed how I think about Business English,” says Tom Barton, an academic consultant with Dinternal Education who has 15 years’ classroom experience.  “There were so many practical ideas and I still keep in touch with the people I met on the course.”  Since our first course in 2016, FTBE (the First Certificate in Teaching Business English) has gathered together more than 70 heads of departments, business owners, directors of studies and teachers from Ukraine and around the world to share expertise, learn from international trainers and gain a valuable qualification for their CVs. 


“It’s a real community,” says Aliona Zarahovich, who organised the first two courses at MIM-Kyiv, and successfully took the FTBE exam herself in 2017.  “Aside from all the knowledge you get, the best thing about the course is the chance to meet so many people from different institutions and learn from their experience too.  I know some graduates have been offered jobs as a direct result of doing FTBE and several of the participants have gone on to become PTE (Pearson Test of English) examiners or to start running their own LCCI English for Business test centres.  One university teacher has since presented at an international conference about FTBE and also started managing a project together with the US Embassy, so it can give a real boost to your career.”



This year’s course took place at the Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine.  “It was a fantastic venue,” says organiser Anna Tymofieva.  “Like MIM, they did everything possible to make the course a success.”  Pearson teacher trainer Phil Warwick returned to do most of the training, while Daniel Broomfield, who participated in the 2016 FTBE course, conducted three workshops on preparing students for Business English exams. 


After the course we spoke to Phil Warwick about his experiences in Business English teaching. 


What’s your background in teaching? 

I got into English language teaching in 1988.  Since then I’ve worked in places like Italy, China, Brazil and the Czech Republic and done everything from teaching prep school students in Britain to teaching scientific writing to Czech scientists.  I’ve worked for a long time as academic manager for a residential summer school with centres in London, Brighton, Oxford, Cambridge and Caterbury and I’ve also been responsible for the academic side of an English project with Ilia State University in Tbilsi, Georgia.   I do a lot of teacher training for Pearson English in different parts of the world but I still love being in a classroom with students, which is why I teach in a language school in Brno as often as time allows.


When did you get into Business English teaching?

In 1990 I started teaching corporate clients in Italy.  I was also a trainer for a Swiss multinational called Roche in Buenos Aires and I’ve developed courses in Britain, China and the Czech Republic as well as delivering FTBE courses in different countries around the world.


This is the third time you’ve run an FTBE course in Kyiv after the previous two at MIM.  Do you have any plans for a fourth one? 

It was very enjoyable to run the courses in Ukraine and I’d definitely like to come back and work with more teachers here.  I still keep in touch with lots of people from the previous courses and it’s great to see how their careers develop.  In past years, people have travelled from Odessa and Kharkiv to take part, but we’ve only done things in Kyiv so I’d be interested in taking the course to other cities too. 


Do you think someone who’s never worked in business can effectively teach Business English?

I’m sure they can provide different experience.  For example, if you had a completely unqualified native speaker he or she would still have lots of things to teach an active student about how we use language.  If you’ve never worked in business but are a professional teacher, you will be able to teach your students a lot about language and skills.  If they know more than you about their specific work environment, then they can talk about their job and duties using the English they have and you can give them the extra language they need.  Things like presentation skills, for instance. 


Soft skills are very important in business.  How do you think Business English teachers can improve their students’ ability to use these?

I think one of the hardest things is that teacher training gives you basic principles to teach groups of students in a classroom with a set syllabus.  In Business English contexts, you have lots of different types of students.  Some could be studying for a short time, others might want something very specific and you often have small groups of students or lessons with individuals. That’s why we need to be flexible, adaptable and understand the different questions we need to ask in each situation.  For me, FTBE is really useful here.   If you’re interested in business but know nothing about teaching, then this course isn’t for you.  However, if you’re interested in business and are a teacher then you’ll learn how to develop things like soft skills in lots of different situations.


What other skills will someone learn from taking FTBE?

Firstly, if you pass the exam at the end of the course you’ll leave with a specialist qualification which will enhance your CV.  More than that, the syllabus covers not just how to teach courses but how to manage the whole process too, which is why it attracts people who are running schools or university departments.  I share a lot of my own experience but what’s great is seeing how the participants interact with and learn from each other as well.  The opportunity to spend four or five days with such dedicated professionals is a big advantage for me.


More articles about course

Diplomatic Academy of Ukraine under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine:

Sargoi International Community:

If you’re interested in finding out more about FTBE or would like to reserve a place on our next course, you can contact Anna Tymofieva on