Business English is “business” in its nature. The majority of learners are businessmen and women who are always on the move, seem to be very active, ambitious, and sometimes I get the impression that they really know what they want. They are “business” in the way they look, walk, talk, think, and so on. It certainly has really strong impact on the atmosphere in the class. For this reason it is highly important to clarify or set strong and motivating goals for them. These may be passing BEC tests, getting ready for an MBA course in the future, or a possibility to get promoted. It is quite essential, otherwise, there might be a threat for them to get unmotivated because there is no “here and now” thing. Thus, a clear “vision” (why) and a trustworthy strategic “plan” (how) to assist us this study process are crucial. It is more like Kerrie’s PBL (project-based learning) approach – there is a clear task with clear requirements which needs clear outcome and result. Even more than that I keep reminding my students on how well the things we are going and what may help them get better in the course. As business people learners of BE are often not willing to be simply led by someone, they want to take part and even be “in control” of the process.
Secondly, Business English is more about communication skills. Usually, such things as telephoning, negotiating, email writing, conducting meetings, and travelling are a lot more of an interest to learners, than grammar, punctuation and spelling. Thirdly, the students show high interest in business related issues, i.e. company structure, advertising, international trade, social corporate responsibility, and so on. One of my students recently told me that she’d learnt a lot of valuable insights into business matters which she was going to apply in her management (i.e time management, human recourses management, security). It was nice to hear. Thus, communications skills are the number one priority in BE studies, however, the things related to business matters in general and the language to be used in such themes shouldn’t be ignored.
To sum up I think these three aspects underline what Business English is and is about.
When using English for business contexts, it is vitally important to be as clear as possible and leave nothing to interpretation. If you are unclear in your business writing or speaking, you often waste time and risk losing money. This is different from literature, for example, where a lot is left up to the interpretation of the reader.
Learning to write well using professional English is a process. Instructional Solutions offers online Business English Writing courses for Non-Native speakers that can help you to achieve this type of writing.
Some types of English, like novels and law briefings, welcome long, sophisticated vocabulary. Business English isn’t like that. Good writing is direct and to the point. You should avoid:
Save complex grammar for academic writing (though there are arguments that it doesn’t belong there either!). Good English uses the simple tenses (past, present, and future simple) as well as the present perfect. Words like “first” and “then” indicate the order of actions, instead of complicated grammatical structures. This ensures that the message is easy to absorb, saving time and money.
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