Is your English holding you back at work? Do you want to improve your business English for more effective communication? It is easier than you think! In this expert guide, we walk you through 25 simple methods that you can use each day to enhance your professional English.
“Business English” is a general term for the formal variety of English used in professional working environments. However, the English you use at work may also fall under the category of “ESP” – or English for Specific Purposes – if it relates to a professional niche with a precise set of terminology. For example, if you are a Financial Analyst, you may be required to use some general business English in your daily communications, but you may also need to be familiar with a highly specific set of jargon related to markets, statistics and other areas of your work. It is often the case that one type of English does not cover all of the bases. Consider the following tips:
If you want to improve your business English and communication skills for work, you need to actively seek out opportunities to gain practice. While some language skills can be acquired in isolation, spoken fluency is not one of them and this is especially the case with business communication as it often requires you to employ a certain etiquette and use words or constructions selectively based on situations. This is further complicated when we consider some examples of intercultural communication issues that arise when doing business internationally. There is no substitute for real-world experience when it comes to using English in a business context, so take every available opportunity!
Reading regularly in English is important because it helps improve your understanding of grammar, while also expanding your active and passive vocabulary. If you read about the same business topics each week, you will soon develop a better knowledge of any associated words, expressions and constructions because they are constantly repeated in the text. If you read a lot in your mother tongue, why not switch to English content at least some of the time? Try the following tips:
Written communication plays a central role in the business world and, although paper-based formats have largely been replaced by electronic equivalents, the importance of correct formal written English remains as strong as ever. Errors in formal correspondence, public presentations and promotional material can often lead to confusion and embarrassment. If you want to do justice to your professional image at work, it is important that you pay close attention to how you write in English.
In order to be a fluent English speaker, you need to develop advanced listening comprehension skills too. This is where video content has an important role to play because it exposes you to the spoken language with images that place it in a clear context. Audio alone offers less information. Learners often say that TV newsreaders speak too quickly to be fully understood all of the time, but that the images on the screen help them to contextualise and fill in the gaps themselves. Switch on and start watching by following these tips:
If you want to improve your communication skills for business, you must seek out and use all of your available opportunities to speak English at work. There is no substitute for regular interaction with native speakers in English so it is important to make this a priority when learning the language. If you live in a non-English speaking country, ensuring frequent conversation practice can be a challenge. Try some of the following tips to improve your English speaking:
Learning business English is like going to the gym. You start going on your own or with a friend, you make good progress to begin with, but then you start missing training sessions. Perhaps you have to stay behind late after work to complete a project or maybe your kids needs to be picked up from school early – your other commitments start to affect your training routine, you see slower progress and your motivation suffers as a result. Eventually, maybe you cancel your gym membership. Sound familiar? With the gym example, having a personal trainer often makes a big difference in terms of motivation and progress. This is also true when studying English.
As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. One of the most important factors when learning a foreign language is consistency. This means taking many small steps over a longer period of time in order to cover a big distance. For 99% of learners, gaining fluency in business English is a “long-ball game”. This means that it takes time. If you understand this and adopt the right approach to your studies, you will maintain your motivation longer and do what is necessary to achieve fluent English. This brings us to our final tip:
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