As the world becomes more interconnected, English has become the global language of business. Whether you’re communicating with colleagues, clients, or customers from around the world, having strong English skills is essential for success in a business context. From negotiating deals to writing emails, being able to communicate effectively and efficiently in English can help you achieve your professional goals and make a positive impression on others.
In this post, we’ll cover six steps for improving your business English skills. Whether you’re a student, a professional, or an entrepreneur, these steps will help you develop the language skills you need to succeed in a global business environment. By following these steps, you’ll be able to assess your current level of proficiency, develop good reading habits, practice your speaking and listening skills, improve your writing skills, use technology to supplement your learning, and get feedback and correction from a qualified tutor or coach. Let’s get started!
Step 1: Assess Your Current Level of English
Before you can begin to improve your English skills, it’s essential to assess your current level of proficiency. This will help you set realistic goals and focus your learning efforts on the areas where you need the most improvement.
A good way to assess your current level of English is to take a language proficiency test or English language certification. Earning an English certification can demonstrate to potential employers that you have a high level of proficiency in the language and can give you a competitive edge in the job market. However, with numerous options available, it can be challenging to determine which certification is the right fit for your career goals.Below is a list of the most common English language certifications and how to achieve them:
- TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language): multiple-choice questions, essays and speaking tasks, testing reading, listening, speaking, and writing skills.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing System): multiple-choice questions, essays, and speaking tasks, testing reading, writing, speaking and listening skills.
- TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication): multiple-choice questions, testing listening and reading skills.
- Cambridge English exams (e.g. CAE, CPE, FCE): multiple-choice questions, essays, and speaking tasks, testing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
- PTE (Pearson Test of English): computer-based test with multiple-choice questions, speaking, and writing tasks, testing reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills.
To learn more about English certifications and determine which is suitable for you and your career goals, check out our blogpost on how to choose the right English certification for your career.
When assessing your English proficiency, it’s important to consider both your knowledge of grammar and vocabulary as well as your speaking and listening skills. A language proficiency test can help you get a good sense of your level of proficiency across all four language skills (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). Having a conversation with a native speaker or language exchange partner can help you identify areas where you may struggle with pronunciation, intonation, or common phrases and idioms used in a business setting.
Step 2: Develop Good Reading Habits
Reading is one of the most effective ways to improve your vocabulary, grammar, and writing skills. By reading widely and regularly, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of the English language and be better able to communicate your ideas and thoughts effectively in a business setting. Some types of reading material that are particularly useful for improving business English include newspapers, magazines, books, and industry-specific publications.Below are some suggestions to online resources that will improve your business English and give you an insight into the global business market:
- Business English Pod
- BBC Business Daily
- The Economist
- The Financial Times
- Harvard Business Review
When reading, it’s important to choose material that is appropriate for your level of proficiency. You should also make sure to read actively by summarizing key points, making a vocabulary list, and taking notes on important details. This will help you internalize new words and grammar structures and be better able to use them in your own writing and speaking.
Step 3: Practice Your Speaking and Listening Skills
In a business context, strong speaking and listening skills are essential. The ability to communicate clearly, understand what others are saying, and respond appropriately is critical for success in a global business environment. To improve your speaking and listening skills, you can participate in English-speaking groups, take conversation classes, and practice mock business scenarios.Commonly used phases for business English and how to use them
As you start to use your business English in real life scenarios, it’s a good idea to know some key phrases that you can refer to in common business situations. Below are a few examples of such phrases.
Negotiating: “Can we make a deal?”, “What’s your best offer?”, “I’d like to propose a compromise”
Presenting: “Let me walk you through the slides”, “As you can see from the chart”, “I’d like to draw your attention to…”
Giving feedback: “I appreciate your efforts, and…”, “I’m impressed with your progress in…”, “It would be helpful if you could…”
In addition to learning these phrases, you should also work on your pronunciation and intonation. This can help you communicate more effectively and be better understood by native speakers. You can also practice common phrases and vocabulary used in business settings, such as negotiating, presenting, and giving feedback. Listening to business-related podcasts or TED Talks can also help you practice your listening skills and learn new vocabulary and idioms. If you would like to dive deeper into the different types of materials and resources for optimizing your language learning, check out our blogpost on Effective Study Techniques.
Step 4: Improve Your Writing Skills
Strong writing skills are just as important as speaking and listening skills in a business context. Whether you’re writing emails, memos, or reports, it’s essential to be able to communicate your ideas clearly and concisely. p>
When writing, it’s important to use appropriate language and formatting. For example, you should use formal language and avoid slang or colloquial expressions. You should also make sure to proofread your writing carefully for common mistakes, such as subject-verb agreement, tense consistency, and preposition use. Resources like textbooks and online courses can also help you learn more about business writing and develop your writing skills.Below are some good textbooks about business writing that will help you to improve you writing skills in business English:
- The business writer’s handbook by Gerald J. Alred
- The Only Business Writing Book You’ll Ever Need by Laura Brown
- Effective Business Writing by Maryann V. Piotrowski
Step 5: Use Technology to Supplement Learning
Technology can be a great tool for improving your language skills. There are many language learning apps, online courses, and grammar exercises available that can help you supplement your learning and practice your English skills in a fun and engaging way. By setting goals, tracking your progress, and practicing regularly, you can make the most of these resources and improve your business English skills faster.These language learning apps will help you to improve your business English quickly, easily and from the comfort of your own home:
- Rosetta Stone
In addition to language learning apps and online courses, there are many other technology tools that can help you improve your business English skills. For example, there are software programs and apps that can help you improve your writing skills by highlighting common mistakes and providing suggestions for improvement. There are also online tools that can help you practice your pronunciation and intonation, such as the English Central website or the Speech Recognition feature on the Google Translate app.
Step 6: Get Feedback From a Tutor or Teacher
Getting feedback and correction from a qualified tutor or teacher is essential to improving your business English skills. A good tutor or teacher can help you identify common errors and areas where you need to improve, and provide personalized feedback and correction to help you make progress faster. There are many ways to find a tutor or teacher, including language schools and online tutoring services, -websites and -platforms.Depending on where you live, you will most like be able to find a language school with in-person English classes in your area. Enrolling yourself in language classes or lessons can also provide opportunities for more structured language learning and exposure to other native speakers as you learn English. These can be found by searching for English classes or English lessons “your city” (e.g. English class London or English lessons )Glasgow. If you are unsure whether language class is right for you, another great option is one-on-one tutoring. The benefits of personal tutoring are immense and with the right tutor you will be able to see a steady and continual progress in your learning and skill level in the English language – you can also check out this blogpost on The Benefits of One-on-One English Tutoring for more details on how a tutor can help you set goals and reach your full potential. If you decide to find a tutor to help you in your learning journey, it is important to find one that fits with your ambitions, learning goals and preferred style of learning. Tutoring platforms will allow you to browse local tutors in your area and by searching for “tutoring Leeds or “language teacher Liverpool”.
When working with a tutor or coach, it’s important to communicate clearly about your goals and needs, and be open to feedback and suggestions for improvement. You should also make sure to practice regularly and apply the feedback you receive to your own language learning efforts. With consistent effort and a willingness to learn, you can improve your business English skills and achieve greater success in your career.
In conclusion, improving your business English skills takes time and effort, but it’s essential for success in today’s global business environment. By following these six steps – assessing your current level of English, developing good reading habits, practicing your speaking and listening skills, improving your writing skills, using technology to supplement learning, and getting feedback and correction from a qualified tutor or coach – you can improve your language skills and achieve your professional goals. Remember to be patient, practice regularly, and stay motivated, and you’ll be well on your way to success!