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3 Workable Ways to Improve Your Business English (C1+)

I have often been asked by students and colleagues alike how they can improve their Business English skills. What are the most useful strategies? Can they do it alone? Are Business English courses worth it?

While there are a plethora (n. a large amount) of strategies that can be used to improve language and communication skills in general, I usually recommend the below three strategies for business professionals because they are effective and workable. These strategies can require (v. need for a purpose) as little as 20 minutes a day, or as much as 2-5 hours per week.

So, what can you do?

1. Immerse yourself in business-related media.

Daily intake of business-related media such as Ted Talks, Podcasts, and TV Shows will provide endless models of speech and useful vocabulary within a real-life business context.

Keep in mind (idiom; you need to remember) that interpersonal skills are equally important in business communication, hence my suggestion of TV shows like "Ballers" and "Suits" which have useful models of language related to office humor and managing interpersonal relationships; both of which are highly significant aspects (n. a part or feature of something )of communicating in today's business world.

Not to mention, the value of being entertained while you learn (helps with motivation)!

Here is what I recommend to get started:

  1. TED Talks: Business-oriented TED Talks can be found here

  2. Podcasts: A list of business-related Podcasts can be found here

  3. TV Shows / Series:

  • Suits (Business Theme: Law & General Business)

  • Ballers ( Business Theme: Sports Management)

  • The Profit (Business Theme: Investments & Finance)

  • Undercover Boss (Business Theme: Business Management)

  • Ugly Betty (Business Theme: Fashion & Marketing)

  • Mad Men (Business Theme: Marketing)

If you are going to use Netflix to watch tv shows, don't forget to use the Language Learning with Netflix (LLN) app extension for Chrome. Learn more about it here.

2. Write down new vocabulary or phrases (Be intentional)

Take note of new vocabulary and phrases. Yes, this is one of the oldest strategies in the book. Why? Because it works! With all of the input you'll get from listening to or watching TED Talks, podcasts, and TV shows, keeping track of the new phrases and vocabulary you hear is a great way to ensure you will use it later.

Otherwise, what's the point (idiom; a sarcastic way of asking what the reason is for doing something)?!

Here's a tip on how to approach this strategy.

  1. Write down at least 3-5 new words or phrases for every TED Talk, Podcast, or TV episode you watch.

  2. Try using them on your own in a sentence.

  3. Don't hesitate to use what you've learned as soon as an opportunity presents itself!

"Writing things down is a proven way of retaining new knowledge."

3. Take a business English course

This is probably the best thing someone can do to actively improve their business English skills in a structured manner. A well-designed course will not only improve your skills but will also provide you with plenty of opportunities to apply what you're learning while also receiving critical feedback; particularly as it relates to productive skills such as writing and speaking. Feedback is key in taking your skills to the next level in the language learning process.

Things to look for in a business English course:

  1. Placement Test Accurate level placement will determine the effectiveness of the course you take. This is a fundamental (adj. basic importance) component and should not be overlooked. You do not want to end up (phrasal verb; to come to a place, or situation that was not planned) on the wrong level course- it will be a waste of your time and money!

  2. Clear Learning Goals A course that has clearly outlined outcomes AND methods for assessing those outcomes has the makings of a quality course. When shopping for a course, ask about these things; they can usually be found in well-organized program documentation.

  3. Personalization Look for a course that has the potential to be tailored (adj. customized) to suit your specific needs. A general business English course is great, but a business English course that focuses on the Oil Industry, for example, is even better if you are the CEO of an Oil and Gas company, right? Just ask the organization offering the business English course what the chances of tailoring the course are, and if their instructors have experience doing so.

  4. Manageability We all know how busy the business world can be so look for a course that suits your needs in terms of time so that the likelihood (n. the state of something being likely) of you continuing remains high. If you can manage a course that meets physically, do it. If you can't, don't be afraid to look at an online course. Online language courses are quickly becoming the norm and with the advancement of educational technology tools, online courses have become just as interactive and engaging as the 'real thing.' As a matter of fact, I would argue that online courses can save you both time and money, and therefore are great alternatives for busy professionals.

"Online courses have become just as interactive and engaging as the 'real thing.'

In short, there are self-study strategies and guided strategies that can be employed when trying to improve your business English skills. Whichever strategy you choose, the global status of the English language would suggest that your efforts (and success) will be well worth it!

So, what are you waiting for?!

Questions about online courses that are a good fit (idiom; good match, or good combination) for you? Contact us at The Language Globe for a free placement test and information on how we can help you improve your Business English skills!

Test your knowledge of the new vocabulary in this blog post here!

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