Learning Business English? +15 Top tips you need to know

(Updated: Sep 25, 2018)

What is Business English and why do you need to learn it? How can you practice a new language on a busy schedule? And without a conversation partner? I have the answer to all these questions, plus our TOP 5 best seller tips with the best way to learn a new language.

What is Business English and Why Do You Need To Learn It?

Business English (6)

You’ve likely heard the term “Business English” several times, and each time you’ve probably wondered, “What makes Business English so different from general, “regular” English?”

On a technical level, Business English is part of a larger category called English for Specific Purposes or ESP for short. Other types of English that fall into this category include Simplified Technical English, English for tourism, and Scientific English. Within these categories students find:

  • Specialized terms that only exist within a certain industry, or
  • Everyday terms that have precise and specific meanings within that industry

English for specific purposes is actually a non-native English speaker’s best friend for language learning. These languages impose limits to increase clarity and limit ambiguity. That way, if scientists from around the world come together to conduct research, they are communicating their ideas using a controlled language instead of sprinkling their sentences with obscure slang or regional phrases.  

Business English is a bit broader, but it typically includes the kind of vocabulary vital for trade and commerce. It helps individuals pick up the vocabulary they need for business meetings, correspondence, executive summaries, sales presentations, and more.

Unlike Standard Technical English, which is a trademarked, controlled language, Business English does not have a global standard, but it’s generally expected to cover specialized terms needed to conduct business, and it can be further specialized based on industry such as oil and gas or finance.

Individuals with a solid understanding of Business English can confidently participate in business meetings, write business letters, draft executive summaries, give sales presentations, and more.

Native English Speakers Have to Learn Business English, Too

Based on that description of Business English, you’ve probably picked up on something interesting: native English speakers need to learn Business English, too. It’s not something they grow up learning since there are specialized terms that aren’t used in day-to-day conversation. So don’t be surprised if you see a fluent English speaker in your Business English class.

Business English Is Useful for Humans AND Machines

As we’ve mentioned before on the Talaera blog, non-native English speakers often have an easier time understanding each other than they do understanding native English speakers. This is because non-native English speakers learn “textbook” English, following a shared grammar and vocabulary. On the other hand, native English speakers use regional slang, funny expressions, abbreviations, and they speak quickly.

Interestingly, this doesn’t just pose a problem for non-native English speakers. It poses a problem for computers as well, and as our world becomes more connected to devices, it’s essential that we make integration seamless.

The Semantics of Business Vocabulary and RulesTM (SBVR) formalizes complex business language like compliance or operational rules. Computer systems can then interpret and apply those rules. Learning SBVRTM is not essential for learning Business English, but it’s a fascinating example of the necessity to establish specific meanings in language.

English Is The Lingua Franca of Global Commerce

Hiring choices are no longer limited by geography. Project managers set up remote teams filled with global talent while companies that have the money cover the cost of relocating desirable candidates. Communication is vital to the success of these international endeavors, and English is quickly (if not already) establishing itself as the lingua franca of global communication, innovation, and commerce.

Also Read: Why Perfecting Your English Can Lead To Lucrative Work Opportunities From Home

How To Practice English On A Busy Schedule?

Learn Business English - Busy Schedule

Life is about priorities. It doesn’t matter how busy your day is. You still manage to brush your teeth, go to work, and eat something. You may not spend a full three minutes brushing your teeth. You may not have the best work week or eat the healthiest meals, but you make sure to squeeze in those three things.

This is how you should approach learning a new language. Waiting for the perfect stretch of time to learn is unproductive. Instead, when things get busy, look for even the smallest way to incorporate practicing English into your daily routine. To get you going, we’ve pulled together seven great ways to help you do just that.

Turn Your Down Time Into Language Learning Time

Tonight when you get home and all you want to do is crawl under the covers and watch something online...be sure to watch it in English.

It doesn’t have to be educational or informative. If you want a guilty pleasure, find a reality TV show online. The point is to watch something in English, even if it’s just to unwind.

Read News Headlines in English

Most people quickly skim the top news stories in the morning. If English is your second language, skimming entire news articles isn’t very easy. Since you want to quickly know the day’s news (and you don’t have time to translate an entire piece) find an English language news site and read the headlines. You’ll know what’s happening in the world while learning a lot of useful nouns and verbs.

Workout To English Pop Songs

Listen to songs in English while running on the treadmill or commuting to work. Don’t be embarrassed to choose popular, top 40 songs. They are repetitive, rhyming, and catchy - the perfect combination of factors for memorization. The lyrics will get stuck in your head, teaching you pronunciation and prompting you to look up what they mean.

Take a Mental Vocabulary Quiz

Stuck in traffic? Are you one of a dozen people on a boring conference call? Making breakfast? While your mind wanders, play a vocabulary game in your head. Think of how many objects you can name in English or how many related verbs (“to drive”, “to listen”, “to toast”) you can remember. In this way, you can turn mindless tasks into useful memory exercises.

Download Language Apps (Even If You’ve Progressed Beyond Them)

Language learning apps are great for picking up the basics of a language, but if you’re at the point where you can practice conversation they are a bit too basic. So why download them? Well, apps like Duolingo are quick, convenient, and user-friendly. They also send you reminders of how long it’s been since you used the app. Playing on one of these apps for a few minutes when you’re super busy does two key things:

  • Keeps you in the language learning headspace, so you don’t go long periods of time without any practice
  • Boosts your confidence with the relatively easy activities that motivate you to challenge yourself even more

Think In English

You’d be surprised how useful this is for language learning purposes and for de-stressing. Thinking in English is helpful for obvious reasons. You have to search your memory for all sorts of verbs, adjectives, and nouns. The psychological benefit is that you’re forced to prioritize your thoughts, slow down those anxious racing thoughts, and mentally tackle each matter one at a time. Before you know it, you’ll be planning out your grocery list and thinking about errands entirely in English.

Host English Speaking Guests Through Home Sharing Sites

This piece of advice comes from Benny Lewis, polyglot and founder of Fluent in 3 Months. If you use sites like Couchsurfing or Airbnb, he recommends choosing guests who speak whichever language you’re trying to learn. It’s a pretty cool idea. You wind up meeting new people and practicing some of the most important useful kinds of conversation: introductions and directions. Couchsurfing is free, but if you’re using a site like Airbnb, you make a little extra money on the side. This is also interesting to consider when you travel if you are trying to decide between Hostel or Couchsurfing.

People do this all the time as guests by spending time in the country that speaks the language they wish to learn. But if you don’t have the time or money for this, doing this as a host is a great alternative.

No matter how busy you are, it is entirely possible to carve out some room in your day for practicing English.

Also read: Make Your Second Language The Center Of Your World

How to Practice Your English Without a Conversation Partner

Learn Business English - Practice English Alone-1

Chatting with a native English speaker is the best way to practice the language. But what if you don’t have a conversation partner? Should you just throw in the towel? Absolutely not.

Look for the next best thing. In fact, look for several variations of the next best thing. There are a lot of alternatives to practicing with a conversation partner who’s fluent in English, and you can start with these five suggestions.

Talk to Yourself in English

The simplest solution to having no language partner is making yourself your language partner. Just talk to yourself. Play the role of two people by posing questions to yourself and then coming up with the responses to those questions. This is a useful way of identifying your weak points. Some language learners are great at answering questions but struggle with asking them or vice versa. And if you’re worried that talking to yourself is unhealthy, don’t be! Talking to yourself actually has motivational and instructional benefits.

Quit Obsessing Over The Details

Let’s say you’re talking to yourself in English while you’re getting dressed or cooking a meal. While you’re doing this, don’t obsess over small mistakes. If you forget the word “comb”, don’t stop your external monologue in order to look it up. See if you can work around it, the same way you’d have to if you were talking to someone at a restaurant or at the bank. Your priority should be making yourself understood, not perfecting everything you say. Once you’ve reached a conversational level, then you can move on to being precise.

Read Famous Speeches Out Loud

The most iconic speeches are famous for both their words and their delivery. The cadence and pacing of the orator and the style and rhythm of the speechwriter are what give a speech its power. Listen to famous speeches online, print out the transcripts, and practice reciting them out loud. You should do this whether you have a language partner or not since it helps in several ways: You learn new words, practice your pronunciation, and improve your public speaking skills all in one go. Now that’s a beautiful trifecta.

Learn a Couple of New Expressions Each Day

If you want to sound like a native English speaker, dedicate some time to learning new phrases and expressions every day. Perhaps the most frustrating part of a conversation in a second language is failing to understand the intended meaning of a full sentence, even though you know every word in the sentence. For example, someone may know the words “barking”, “wrong”, and “tree”, but have no clue what “barking up the wrong tree” means. There’s no shortcut for learning idioms. You’ve just got to dive right in.

Write Scripts For Yourself

Come up with possible scenarios and write a script. Pretend you want to pitch an idea to your manager. Script it out and practice. This way, you can present your ideas clearly and confidently. Most conversations take a predictable path with a few variations. Include those variations and appropriate responses in your script. You can add to your different scripts every time you encounter new expressions or scenarios in your day-to-day life.

A conversation partner makes for nice company, but you don’t need one in order to perfect your English.

Also Read: 5 Simple Rules for Mastering the Difference between Exact and Exactly

What is the best way to learn a new language? Our 5 Best Seller Tips

Learn Business English - Top 5 tips bestseller

Is second language fluency one of your New Year’s resolutions? Fabulous. You probably don’t need a recap of how important it is to learn a new language , but you may want a bit more of direction to ensure your language learning ambitions don’t fizzle out and die.  So let’s get started with our 5 tip for learning a new language.

1. Humble Yourself

Come to terms with the fact that mastering a language takes hard work and perseverance. Despite what movie montages would have us believe, learning a new language isn’t as simple as listening to tapes while running on a treadmill. Who has a treadmill in their apartment? Who even has tapes?

The sooner you recognize this process will take work, the sooner you’ll start making progress.

2. Make a Language Learning Schedule

One mindset that should be actively discouraged is the one that says you don’t have enough time. If learning a new language is important to you, carve out a little time each day to devote to practice. The trick is to be realistic and consistent.

But here’s the thing: Goal setting tends to make us a little over ambitious.

“Starting next week I will commit five hours a day to practicing French.”

Between a full-time job and human necessities like eating and sleeping this can be extremely difficult to pull off and doomed to fail. Instead, commit to small chunks of time. Listen to a French news broadcast online while eating breakfast or do half an hour of grammar practice before bed. Using the commercial breaks of your favorite show may work as well. The point is to be realistic, because being realistic will allow you to do the second thing which is…

To be consistent. Setting an unrealistic time commitment can lead to disappointment when you can’t keep up. Setting a manageable timeline can help you reach milestones sustainably and consistently and encourage you to add to your daily practice time.

And keep yourself accountable. Find a free time tracking app or simply create an Excel spreadsheet. This will give you something to refer to and an easy way to track your progress.

3. Relish in the Power of Repetition

Remember how you learned something new as a child? You did something over and over and over again until you figured it out. Whether it was learning to read, figuring out subtraction, or riding a bike there was an adult there to ensure you kept trying.

When we’re older we forget the power of repetition. We no longer have an authority figure to keep us going when we lose patience. We’ve also been trained to believe that you either get something on the first try by virtue of natural talent or you should give it up altogether.

Not at all. Find ways to reinforce your learning by learning 5 new vocabulary words a day, using 10 new verbs in a sentence, or working through a piece of text from a foreign news site or magazine little by little until you understand it.

If it sounds a little boring, it’s because it probably will be at first. But not for long. Practice is a funny thing. At first it sucks, but the more you do it the better you become. And as you get better you’re motivated to keep working at it. It’s a very productive and positive cycle, and if you’re willing to power through the initial resistance the reward is worth it.

4. Make It Fun and Incorporate It Into Your Life

It’s hard work, but learning a new language is fun. Constantly remind yourself that this is something you’ve chosen to do. The brilliant thing about learning a new language is that it can be incorporated into other things you enjoy doing. If you want to procrastinate by surfing the internet, switch your browser’s language settings. Look for trashy reality TV shows in the language you’re studying.

Most importantly, incorporate language learning into your life. And get a little tacky with it if you must. Raid your desk for post-it notes and label everything in your house with vocabulary words. Try to think of how you would say specific things in French, English, or Arabic.

Getting excited about learning a new verb tense can be difficult, but realizing you can navigate another city on your own because you have basic phrases down pat is something to be thrilled about.

As you try out different learning styles and learning methods, don’t get discouraged by the number of times you switch strategies. So long as you stick to it each and every day, you will eventually find a routine and style that works for you. But it means sticking to that schedule we talked about.

5. Look for Language Partners and Opportunities to Interact

There’s only so far you can go on your own. Eventually, you will have to get out there and interact with other people who speak the language. Setting up dates to join a group for an hour of conversation practice or logging in for a session with a tutor on Talaera can jumpstart your language learning and take you from experimental to conversational to fluent.

Read Also: 3 Ways to Take Your English to the Next Level

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