So, you want to improve your English language for business purposes? Great! It’s a great way to improve your chances of employment, promotion, and business success in the English-speaking world.
But how do you go about doing it? Whilst it can feel like the right step in life – and whilst it certainly can be – it can also feel like something of an intimidating challenge.
That’s okay. In fact, that’s totally normal. Because it is hard enough to start learning English as a second language – but business English can almost feel like a third! With its specific idioms and new vocabulary, business English is a particular linguistic niche all of its own.
Whilst there are business English courses in the UK – and all over the world – that will prepare you with some language skills for the business world, it is possible to learn it on your own. In fact, you want to really get proficient at business English, you will really train both in English classes and independently.
And how do you do this on your own? Luckily, the world is full of resources to help you learn business English. From those old school things called books to more modern websites, you’ll find plenty of materials around to help you speak English for business fluently.
And we’re here to point you in the right direction. Here are some of the best resources for learning business English around.
The Best Books to Help Your Business English
As you will know if you have read our article on business English examinations, there are a number of different business language courses – and course providers – that you can enrol with.
As is still the norm with these providers, they supply language course material, in the form of books, for test-takers and students to practise with and benefit from.
These make up the majority of books on business English – but not all of them. There are also books that teach business as part of English as a foreign language as self-contained coursebooks – without the need for an exam.
Pick Up a Copy of the DK English for Everyone Course Book
The English for Everyone: Business English coursebooks are part of the latter category. They are self-contained coursebooks through which you can work independently – and they don’t teach to any exam, although they will help for them.
They are aimed at adults learning English as a foreign language and they focus on writing skills, listening skills, speaking skills and writing skills in the context of business. You’ll be talking about finance and learning how to apply for jobs.
Of course, this range of books cover English grammar and English pronunciation too.
Check Out Collins’s Business Speaking Study Guides
Collins have done a similar sort of book, Business Speaking, aimed at English learners who want to learn English for business purposes.
In these books, you’ll cover everything from networking to small talk, from presentations to interviews, whilst dipping into important words and phrases and grammatical issues too.
Like the DK guide, it comes with a CD for you to practise your listening comprehension.
Delve into Pearson’s Business English Series
The respected publisher, Pearson, has teamed up with the Financial Times’s own publishing imprint to provide a series of coursebooks called Business Partner.
These are primarily aimed at teachers of business English, but often precisely these are the best resources: they give you extra insights and exercises to help you make the most out of your learning.
Pearson do their own qualification, by the way, alongside the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry – and these books match well with those.
The Best Websites to Improve Develop Your Business English Skills
If books feel a little passé to you – although they are becoming ever more engaging as learning tools, by the way – there are plenty of websites hosting resources that can boost your fluency and your business English vocabulary.
You’re probably savvy enough to find your own way around the internet. However, we have put together a list of some of the best places online for learning a new language like business English.
Let’s take a little look.
Check Out Business English Resources
Business English Resources are a website that host a formidable array of different materials for students and teachers of business English.
From reading and writing exercises to grammar rules and core business vocabulary, you’ll find heaps of stuff to keep you occupied here.
Luckily enough, it’s also free – so don’t miss out!
Head to the Cambridge Assessment Website for Official Materials for Exam Preparation
Cambridge English – or Cambridge Assessment – are the undisputed masters of English language training in the UK. This applies to business English too.
Given that Cambridge run most of the examinations for English as a foreign language – including the IELTS and the BEC, the Business English Certificate – it’s good that they have a massive selection of learning resources from which you can learn too.
Head to the ‘business English resources’ page on their website and you’ll find them.
Try FluentU for Business English Learning Materials
FluentU is a site and app that provides training materials, exercises, and information on learning pretty much any language you can think of.
Whether you want just standard English or you want to venture into business English – or learn some other language as well – it can help you out.
There is a small fee to pay. However, if you are reluctant, check out their free content – because a lot of it is well worth knowing.
Explore the British Council’s Learn English Site for Business Language Learning
Alongside Cambridge English, the British Council is known around the world for the place to go if you need to sit the IELTS. They operate in over a hundred countries and they have the reputation for providing excellent – if slightly pricey – English language training.
Their website hosts lots of resources for those specifically interested in developing their business English skills. They are mainly video – which can help hugely your comprehension of spoken English.
Try One Stop English for Business Vocabulary, Games, and Tests
One Stop English claims to be the best place on the internet for teachers of English as a second language. We don’t know about that – but they do have an impressive array of business English resources.
You can navigate the resources by topic, by skills, or by language features – which makes for a very usable and informative bank of resources.
Download the IELTS Word Power App
Whilst not directly relevant to business English, the IELTS – the International English Language Testing System – is the gold standard for testing the proficiency level of learners of English as a foreign language.
And the IELTS Word Power app is a great way to learn English for learners of all priorities and desires. It’s primarily geared towards the IELTS test, yet its vocabulary banks are indispensable for all.
Other Places for Business English Inspiration
Learning English doesn’t just happen in those places designed specifically for the purpose. Rather, one of the best ways to learn is through authentic language situations – namely, where native English speakers do their speaking, reading and listening.
Reading widely will help you become comfortable with English in natural contexts, where you are not being tested and won’t have the help that teachers can offer. It will show the contexts in which you will need the language once you are out in the world using it for real.
Follow the Financial Times’s Business News
For business news, there is no better place to go than the Financial Times. Native English speaking businesspeople rely on it – and so you should too.
You’ll find updates on the economy, on finance, and on all the biggest deals and developments. If you really want to read about business where it happens for real, this is your best option.
Read Business Blogs
The trouble with the FT is that you do have to pay. So, if you are not interested in forking out for its quality content, then its best to look elsewhere.
The internet is littered with business news – from insider blogs to magazines. Check out the Business Insider or Forbes.
Keep Speaking to Native Speakers
Native speakers are your secret weapon in your search for fluency. And as you are interested in business English, a native speaker that does business might be your best bet.
Having conversations and continually practising is the most important part of your language learning process. So, an English speaker – or a native tutor – is probably your best resource.