With the business world becoming globalized and international companies growing in number, a new concept has emerged in working people’s lives: business English.
Business English is a specific subset of the English language that falls under the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) category. It was developed in light of economic, political, and technological advancements to meet the changing needs of people who use the language in their professional lives. If you’re learning English for a specific purpose, ESP is already a part of your life. Business English is used to communicate effectively in the workplace, make sales, prepare reports, and put on presentations. In short, it focuses on the English used in career life.
When people don’t have a clear idea of the goals they want to pursue by learning English, they usually get lost somewhere along the learning process. Understanding why you want to learn English will save you time and allow you to work more productively on furthering your language skills.
The Difference Between Business English and Everyday English
To put it simply, everyday English, also called English for General Purposes (EGP), is used by people to communicate everyday needs and occurrences. People use everyday English while asking for directions, shopping, or socializing with others. That’s why grammar rules and sentence structures fall under the category of English for General Purposes. Business English on the other hand helps us communicate with coworkers and business partners in a clear and effective manner. It involves the use of a more direct and official way of speaking and writing. As there are varying degrees of how effectively one can communicate a message, it is also more subjective in nature.
Towards the end of the 1960s through to the beginning of the 1970s, it was thought that vocabulary was the main aspect that distinguished business English from everyday English. Of course, it can’t be denied that knowing terminology specific to one’s professional field is a big part of learning business English. Not long after however, a new idea was put forth that what business English really involved was “re-evaluating English speaking, writing, reading and listening skills within the framework of professional life”. Later, in the 1980s, business English was considered a functional communication tool that involved the use of specific expressions that could be employed to say, voice approval or make suggestions in the workplace. Within this context, business English became part of various professional courses aimed at putting on presentations, speaking in public, making sales, and participating in negotiations. Today, business English is used in a variety of professional contexts such as when putting together a resume or taking part in business meetings, for instance.
It is recommended that you at least attain B1 English competency to be able to pursue English for Specific Purposes courses such as business English. This is because you need to have a solid understanding of English so you can learn how to use it more effectively in professional settings. Bear in mind that in general, even people who are native English speakers need a lot of practice to learn how to use business English effectively.
Why Should You Learn Business English?
In recent years, business English courses have been in high demand because people want their language courses to be geared towards a specific purpose more than ever. Monica Sim, who teaches at Oradea University points out that people who study business English are more professional and motivated at their workplace. That’s why no matter what field you’re in, it’s important for you to learn business English to keep up with your colleagues’ level of professional commitment.
Business English also reflects internal and external market influences and is therefore key to understanding market trends at large. That means that even if you don’t work for an international company and use English in the workplace, you still need to know business English in order to be able to keep up with the latest developments in your field.
Many companies test job applicants on their business English skills before considering them for the position, so knowing business English is key to having positive outcomes at job interviews. It’s also crucial to furthering your career. Take for instance, the negotiation process. For a negotiation to go well, you need communication skills that go beyond the basic level of everyday English you learned in school. By using the right nuance, tone, and expressions, you’ll be able to take charge of the meeting and use business English to your advantage.
Cambly offers personalized learning programs focusing on business English. You can choose a business English course that’s compatible with your language competency level and take the first step towards furthering your career. If you’d like, you can start by taking everyday English lessons with a tutor of your choice and then move on to learning business English. All our tutors are native English speakers, so you’ll be in good hands!
With Cambly, you can choose which tutor you want to have lessons with. Our tutors are professionals in a variety of fields, so you can pick a tutor with a similar career and learn terminology specific to your industry. Or you can opt for a course that focuses on a particular area of professional life such as public speaking in English. Remember, determining what you aim to achieve by learning English ahead of time will help you work more productively and develop your skills faster. Cambly will be with you every step of the way!