Generally, students are taught a general variant of English, which is enough to teach you the basics. But once you’ve learnt some English, you may want to move onto learning business English.
Here are 10 ways to improve your English for the workplace.
Build Upon a Firm Foundation of Grammar
How can you speak business English if you don’t know the basics of the language?
Business English usually follows standard English syntax and grammar. You don’t need to use flowery language but you do need to limit the number of grammatical mistakes you make.
Our first tip is that you master the grammar. English grammar is generally quite simple and, excluding the exceptions, you can quite quickly learn most grammatical concepts.
You can find grammar guides:
- In books
The same is true for verb conjugations. There are relatively few tenses and conjugations for you to learn.
Listen to English at Least 20 Minutes a Day
To master the English language, you’ll need to juggle the grammar and the foundations of the language. You can’t just sit at home studying grammar and conjugations, though.
As a language, English has both a written and spoken form. There are a lot of professional situations where your listening skills will be tested:
- Answering calls
- Speaking with others
- Giving presentations
- Manning a stand at a convention
To improve your speaking and listening skills, you must hear examples of the language every day. You need to hear different accents and different uses of the language. To improve, you’ll need to listen to English for at least 20 minutes per day. It can be English-language news, films, TV shows, or even videos online.
Read English Press and Novels
Now that you’ve done your listening, let’s move onto reading! Much like how you can find plenty of different resources for listening, there are even more English language resources for you to read.
For those who like reading, there are plenty of books that you may have read in your language that you can also read in English. You can read every day of the week and you’ll soon start progressing.
The New York Times is a good news source to practise your reading.
Make sure you practise regularly. English journalism and literature can teach you a varied vocabulary and expressions you wouldn't find elsewhere. To improve your vocabulary, reading is the way to do it.
Whenever you watch a film or TV show, make sure that you keep the subtitles in English, especially if you’re also watching it in English. This will allow you to see how the words are pronounced and written at the same time. It’ll work your visual memory and echoic memory.
This won’t make you an expert in English, but it will help with your other studies.
Put Your Devices in English
If you’re looking to learn business English, you’ll probably be looking for jobs where you’ll be using English all the time. In these businesses, you’ll have work in English so it’s a good idea that your equipment and any technology you use is in English.
First and foremost, make sure that your computer is English, especially if you use it a lot. Install programs in English and set your social networks to English. This will also help you to learn specific vocabulary relating to your work and while it might slow you down in the beginning, by the end, it’ll be second nature to you. This will ensure that you can work more quickly on anyone’s computer, too.
Speak with English Natives
No matter where you are, you should be able to find English speakers, especially if you’re working with them. As we explained earlier, you need to have a good understanding of English to speak business English.
Why not practise with English speakers?
You don’t need to travel to the UK or the US to do this as there are plenty of English-speaking students and professionals all over the world so you could practise your English with them.
Have a look for websites that organise language exchanges as there might be English speakers looking to learn your language. Don’t hesitate to organise your own if there aren’t language exchanges taking place near you!
Learn the Formalities
Generally, business English is standard English with some business terminology and certain formalities. While this is a bit of an oversimplification, learning the formalities is a good start. Expressions like “Dear...”, “regards”, “find attached”, “forward”, “ASAP”, etc. are all expressions and formalities that you’ll have to learn.
Take Private Lessons
There are plenty of private English schools and tutors all over the world where you can study business English specifically. Before you choose this option, you can also improve your general level in English.
That said, this can be quite a costly solution but it’s very cost-effective when it comes to learning. Tutors and academies may offer specific lessons and tutorials for business English.
If you want to grasp business English, there are few better ways than working in the UK, US, Ireland, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand. We recommend that you make the most of your studies and spend a year studying or working abroad. This can do wonders for your understanding of the language and your accent in English.
Even if you’re working part-time, you’ll have opportunities to speak with other English speakers. If your degree offers a year abroad in an English-speaking country, you should take it.
Thanks to internships, work placements, or years abroad, you can learn business English and vocabulary appropriate the field you’re working in. You’ll also learn how to behave appropriately in business situations.
Validate Your English with TOEIC
Doing a TOEIC exam is a great option. It’s one of the best tools for proving how good your English is.
Firstly, TOEIC is an exam that’s scored. The higher the score, the better you’ve done, and businesses can use this score to evaluate your English. You’ll need to study a lot, though.
The majority of the TOEIC is focused on business English. It’s more than just qualification, it’s a course that will teach you a lot about English.
Finally, TOEIC is a recognised qualification that tests your grammar, conjugation, comprehension, vocabulary, etc. Recruiters will know that you have the appropriate English language skills that they’re looking for. Your English exams at school won’t hold a candle to the TOEIC qualification.
The Test of English for International Communication exists mainly to prove candidates’ English skills to recruiters and employers in a professional capacity.
You could even go to work in London!
If you want to learn English (or any language, for that matter), consider getting help from a private tutor on Superprof! There are different types of tutorials available, each with their pros and cons.
Don't forget to talk to any potential tutor about your learning goals so they can plan their lessons appropriately!
Face-to-face tutorials are great for learning languages as you get plenty of opportunities to practise speaking your new language with an expert. Your tutor will also plan the lessons with you in mind so they can be tailored to not only business English but the field you work in.
For those on a budget, group tutorials are a great way to share the cost of lessons with friends or colleagues. While you won't get as big a say in the content of the lessons, you'll have plenty of people to practise with, which can be less daunting than speaking with someone whose English is much better than yours, especially if you're a bit nervous!
Finally, if you can't find local tutors with the right skills, you can broaden your search to all over the world. With online tutorials, you can learn English from tutors all over the world, including from native English speakers.
Don't forget that many tutors on Superprof offer the first lesson for free. Use these free lessons to try out several different English tutors before choosing the one that's right for you. After all, you'll learn much more effectively with a tutor you get along well with.