Many students tell me that, once they get to a certain level with their Business English, one of the areas which they feel needs improving is business English vocabulary.
And of course in many cases, they are right! Whilst it is key to master the structures and grammar as part of your business English development, you will need vocabulary to bind everything together! Business English without good vocabulary is like pasta without the sauce!
So, how do you go about improving your business English Vocabulary?
First of all, I believe that students should essentially manage two sets of vocabulary: A general vocabulary and a specific business English vocabulary. Of course these two “sets” of vocabulary are not stored separately in the brain, and in fact you will need to use them together, but the way in which we learn these two different types of vocabulary can indeed be different.
General vocabulary is that which enables you to manage general situations. For example, asking for directions or having a quick chat with a friend. The basic words that enable you to get around in English, to be able to interact and carry out all of the simple tasks that you need to do in a language. To ask for an orange juice in a restaurant, or to write a thank you note to a friend.
Everyone needs to build up a good level of general vocabulary, whichever area they work in or whatever they do! This general vocabulary is necessary to be able to perform general functions in the English language.
General vocabulary can be improved in a number of ways:
- Reading books and magazines
- Writing vocabulary lists
- Using a vocabulary app
- Listening exercises
- Watching movies
…and many more. The important thing here is to expose yourself to as much real English as possible, and when you don’t understand a word, make a note of it and then look it up.
SPECIFIC BUSINESS ENGLISH VOCABULARY
This specific vocabulary differs depending on the field in which you work. Although everyone needs to learn a specific vocabulary, the words that each person needs will not the the same. A lawyer will need legal terminology, a dentist will need dental vocabulary, and so on.
The way in which you learn the specific vocabulary can be somewhat different but the key is finding specific material in English.
This material could include:
- Trade journals and magazines
- Industry-specific podcasts
- Attending conferences for your industry
- Watching videos online related to your field of expertise
…and so on. The key is to find specific material so that you can improve your specific vocabulary.
Finding the right balance between these two sets will help you improve your overall vocabulary in a way that is going to benefit both your life and your career.