What is Business English?
Learning a language is so much more than being able to say ‘hello’ or ask for directions, especially if you’re a non-native English speaker working in an English speaking environment. While being able to make small talk with your colleagues is also important, you need specific language to help you through your day-to-day business life.
A language changes depending who we are speaking to. For example, even in your native tongue, the way you speak to your boss is different to the way you speak to your best friend, or relations. Learning the vocabulary for a particular context is essential. Let’s look at what business English is, who needs it and why you should make it a priority.
Business English is…
Business English can be considered a specialism within language learning. Basically, business English is the type of language used in the business place and work spaces. It can cover a wide range of subject areas, including but not limited to the following:
- Accounting and finance
- International trade
- Insurance companies
- Commerce and e-commerce
- Manufacturing and production
- Many office settings
What’s the difference between general English and business English?
With general English you’ll cover a wide range of topics, from family, friends, habits, foods, sports, likes and dislikes etc. Business English, however, focuses on the vocabulary, phrases, grammatical structures and conversation topics commonly used within business environments between colleagues, staff, clients and business partners.
Business English is more specific
Even if you have excellent general English language skills you’ll find that you lack specific knowledge used in the business world.
Business English may cover some of the same topics and vocabulary as general English, but it goes much further. You’ll learn functional language for a specific context, which would not be covered in the broader, general English courses.
You’ll even learn business terms that native English speakers may not be aware of, because they don’t work in your field of business.
If you’ve picked up a business English course book or looked at different courses online or at local language schools, you’ll see that the business English topics are more focused.
Here are some of the areas of vocabulary and grammar structures you’re likely to study:
Appropriate business greetings
- Business emails
- Telephone calls
- Conference calls
- Client relations
- Making business deals
- Business phrasal verbs
- Business collocations
- Business idioms
Business English is more direct
While some types of English language requires long and complex sentence structure, such as essays, novels and articles, business English isn’t as complicated or as fancy as you might think. In fact, it’s much more direct and to the point.
However, what business English teaches you is how to be direct yet at the same time, polite and diplomatic. You’ll discover how to disagree with bosses and colleagues and keep your job! It really isn’t as intimidating as you might think, but they are hugely important skills when it comes to creating and maintaining business relationships.
Business English grammar is simpler
Again, keep your complex grammar structures for academic writing. You can make yourself clearly understood using the more simple tenses of past, present, future simple and present perfect.
You can use words such as ‘first’ and ‘then’ to order actions, instead of words like, ‘initially’ or ‘furthermore’. By keeping it simple, there is less risk of being misunderstood, which saves you time and money in the long run.
Who is business English for?
In a business English classroom, online or in your local language school, you may find a variety of language learners. Here are some of the individuals who may benefit from learning business English:
- Managing directors, CEOs
- HR managers and staff
- Client relation officers
- Sales teams
- Trading professionals
- Students at business school or university
- Office executives or office staff in a variety of fields
You may also find business English courses that are tailored to certain specific groups in an English for Specific Purposes class.
Why do I need to learn business English?
Business English is studied all around the world by non-native English speakers who conduct business and have to communicate with native speakers, or other non-English-speaking countries.
English is the ‘lingua franca’ of the business world, meaning that it is the common language adopted by non-native speakers.
Over half the content on the internet is in English, the top programming languages are in English, and almost two thirds of all business communication, the world over, is in English and between non-natives. Whether you like it or not, English is the global language of business.
The business world is a highly competitive one, so in order to keep the pace with the business market it makes sense to learn business English. It also helps you climb up the career ladder, as more and more employers request English as an essential skill.
More advantages of business English
If you need some more convincing, here are a few more reasons why learning business English is a good idea!
- Give and understand presentations
- Follow conference calls more easily
- Lead meetings
- Be involved with negotiations
- Communicate business ideas more easily
- Gain confidence in the workplace
- Discuss business matters with your colleagues
- Make a good impression at work
- More career opportunities
- Be an international business
- Follow business trends
- Stay ahead of the competition
Business English gives you the confidence to express yourself in a professional way. You’ll be able to deliver important information to important people, in a clear, concise and understandable manner.
Additionally, Business English can increase your business’s success, your professional development and your own personal development too.
Do yourself and your business a favor and start improving your business English today!