Integrating the 21st Century Skills into the Business English Classroom


Tatjana Dugošija – Western Serbia Academy of Applied Studies, Valjevo Department, Vuka Karadžića 3a, 14000 Valjevo, Serbia

Business English;
Employability skills;
Higher education


Abstract: In a globalized world, characterized by the interdependence of the world’s economies, cultures and populations and therefore requiring a shared means of communication, English has obtained the status of the lingua fran­ca in both academic and business contexts and it has been extensively used in scientific, economic and political fields. Consequently, English has become essential for the entire workforce whose career prospects on the labor mar­ket are largely dependent on their English language proficiency, the ability to communicate effectively and overcome language and cultural barriers.

Being spoken by over one billion people, English is used in a wide range of settings such as international business, diplomacy, science, technology, ed­ucation, travel and entertainment. The status of English as an international language and its impact on the improvement of career prospects have re­sulted in enormous development of English for Specific Purposes (ESP), an approach primarily focusing on developing learners’ communicative compe­tence in specific professional fields such as business and economics, science, medicine, technology, tourism, social studies, etc. Business English (BE), as a branch of ESP, implies teaching specialized vocabulary and different skills en­abling learners to effectively communicate in a business environment.

However, major technological and scientific advances in the last few decades and the age of the knowledge-based economy in which we now live have caused society and the business environment to be changing rapidly. As a re­sult, employers are looking for skills that go beyond academic qualifications and work experience, and match the requirements of the current age. These skills, variously labeled and frequently referred to as the 21st-century skills, comprise communication, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork, creativity and innovation, decision making, digital literacy, leadership, etc.

The aim of this paper is to explore how the 21st-century skills can be integrat­ed and developed in the Business English classroom at tertiary education level since the traditionally taught skills such as giving opinions, negotiating, par­ticipating in meetings, reporting, making arrangements, telephoning and so­cializing in business contexts, no longer seem to meet the requirements of the current age and the contemporary labor market. Business English courses at the university level can significantly contribute to developing these skills and thus prepare students for their future careers.

7th International Scientific ERAZ Conference – ERAZ 2021 – Conference Proceedings: KNOWLEDGE BASED SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT,  Online/virtual, May 27, 2021

ERAZ Conference Proceedings published by: Association of Economists and Managers of the Balkans – Belgrade, Serbia

ERAZ conference partners: Faculty of Economics and Business, Mediterranean University, Montenegro; University of National and World Economy – Sofia, Bulgaria; Faculty of Commercial and Business Studies – Celje, Slovenia; AMBIS University, Prague – Czech Republic; Faculty of Applied Management, Economics and Finance – Belgrade, Serbia

ERAZ Conference 2021 Conference Proceedings: ISBN 978-86-80194-46-2, ISSN 2683-5568, DOI:

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