English remains the most popular language in the world to learn. One and a half billion people are learning the language. The second highest, by the way, is French – which eighty-two million people are learning.
This is because English is still one of the world’s most important languages for diplomacy, culture, and – importantly here – business, being something of a lingua franca across all of the regions of the planet. So, when you are considering whether or not to learn English, this might be something you’ll want to remember.
Learning Business English?
Whilst the English language is hugely important generally, we’re going to look specifically at the specific niche field within English language learning. That’s what we call ‘business English’. And whilst it in no real sense constitutes a separate language, it does have its own vocabulary, contexts, and manners of speaking.
What is appropriate on the street in England is not necessarily appropriate language in the business context. So, if you are looking to improve your English specifically for business purposes – to find employment in the UK or US, to seek a promotion, or to deal with English businesspeople internationally – it is worth homing in on business language skills when learning.
You’ll be covering the basics of the language here too – as grammar and pronunciation, along with your speaking skills and listening skills, reading skills and writing skills, can all be learned alongside the specific business vocabulary and concerns. So, don’t you worry about not getting a proper linguistic education when learning business English.
Here, we’re going to be looking at all of the things you will need to ensure you get a proper education when learning business English. We’ll share the best places for you to look for English lessons, we’ll share some handy resources, and we’ll give you a guide to the exams for business English too.
What You’ll Learn in Business English
Business English is the particular training English language learners receive if they are preparing for – or hoping to develop – a career in business. There is obviously no specific language as ‘business English’ – although it does have a few quirks that you’ll have to add to your English skills.
Business English courses are intended to have you speak English fluently in the contexts that business requires. You’ll be developing your presentation and negotiation skills. You’ll be preparing to contribute effectively in meetings and other business discussions. And you’ll be getting to grips with the appropriate language to use in business telephone calls and emails.
Alongside this, you’ll have to learn specific English vocabulary that, really, is only used in business contexts: the specific terms in finance, economics, and management – as well as the more casual office slang.
All of this will help you fit in and flourish. And if there is ever a reason to learn something, it is this.
Business English Courses across the UK
Across the UK, there are so many opportunities for learning English as a second language. In every major city in the country there’ll be at least one language school – and probably many many more besides.
However, there are different ways that language courses work. Some are directed towards an exam – such as the IELTS or, as you’ll see below, the BEC – whilst some are purely conversational. Then there are the private English tutors too, who can teach you pretty much anything you like.
Business English Classes London
In London, anyone who wants to learn to speak English is spoiled for choice. With its eight million inhabitants, there is enough stuffed into the great British capital for it to appeal to anyone.
For those who want to develop their business English language skills, try the London School of English – which has been going for over a century – or St George International. Both do very effective business English teaching.
Learn Business English in Scotland
In the most beautiful region of the UK, there is a wealth of opportunity too. Let’s take an example from Edinburgh.
ECS Scotland, which is based in Charlotte Square, is a reputed institution that teaches business English. You’ll be writing emails and answering phone calls – just as exercises obviously – whilst practising your negotiating.
These are intensive courses running weekly.
The Beauty of a Private Tutor
Another option, anywhere in the UK, is to find yourself a private English tutor. If these are native English speakers, you are really onto a winner – as conversations with native speakers are your best way of learning a language.
Whether you want to just use your new language or work to an exam, a tutor can get you learning.
Find out more about business English courses!
Important Vocabulary for Business English
As we said, there are many bits of new vocabulary that you will have to learn in your development of your business English. Whilst business English obviously isn’t a different language, there are many people who complain about the obscure jargon and slang that businesspeople use.
So, good luck! It really isn’t that bad – and you’ll be using these words and phrases happily yourself in no time.
Find out more about them in our article on business English vocabulary!
Basic Business Terms
As you’ll know from glancing at any business newspaper, the business world likes its idioms. This is fair enough, honestly: every discipline or niche in the world develops its own specific words for things.
When you are developing your business English fluency, you’ll need to nail the basics. Do you know what a business plan is, or a forecast? Could you tell a merger from an acquisition?
These are the things that you’ll need to know.
Meanwhile, there are particularly expressions that fly around most office spaces. It’s unclear where people got all these from – however, it’s this really that gets people outside the business world laughing.
In business, you don’t do something; you action it. You don’t so much consider what will happen tomorrow; you consider what you’ll action going forward.
It’s confusing maybe – but you’ll get the hang of it.
Finally, there’s the shorthand that you will need to pick up.
Do you know the difference between HR and PR? The difference between vbw and AOB? The subtleties of ASAP and ETA?
In any language, there are senses to words that you can only pick up through use and practice. Just keep up your speaking and you’ll be there.
Business English Exams You Might Want to Consider
Many students of English are concerned about the examinations and qualifications they will take or pick up during their studies. They are right to be: qualifications open doors – and they give you the learner the sense of achievement and continuing progress. They are good things – if sometimes a little expensive.
The qualifications for business English come in two different shapes. The main ones are provided by two different accreditors. Firstly, there is Cambridge Assessment, who, alongside the British Council, are the big dogs of English language teaching. Then there is Pearson.
The Cambridge Assessment qualifications in business English are known as BECs – Business English Certificates. There are three of these, of progressive difficulty – and they are internationally recognised by businesses and universities across the world.
You can expect each of the examinations to take you over two hours – and they will take place in an accredited testing centre.
Then there are the qualifications from Pearson and the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry. These were developed by businesses themselves – so the content is sure to be super on-point.
There are more of these qualifications. However, luckily enough, the important ones can be sat online.
You can find out more about all of these qualifications in our article on business English exams!
How to Learn Business English? Some Books and Resources
Finally, how are you going to practise your business English at home? How are you going to keep developing your knowledge even when you are not in class? What do you need to make the most out of your study?
The answer really is effective resources – and the internet is actually full of them. We’ll give you a brief run-through of the big ones here – but you can find more information in our article on business English resources.
One website that is helpful is actually called just Business English Resources – and it is heaving with different exercises, word banks, and grammar rules that will keep you going.
Otherwise, explore the British Council’s Learn English website, which is similarly rich in helpful material.
Resources are not just those things specifically designed for your learning, however. Newspapers such as the Financial Times are incredibly helpful in showing you authentic language. And your native English speaking friends too!