Business English is something a lot of students are looking for but what exactly is it and what are teachers and schools offering it providing.
To start with I’d say that most of the conversations in a business setting require only general conversational English skills. Where I think a shift comes is in the specific situations that business life regularly throws up, such as:
A meeting; whether it be a conference call or a round table discussion there is a certain formality, culture and structure to these situations. Discussing and rehearsing with a native teacher who’s had experience of these kind of business interactions can help the student feel more relaxed and prepared to participate. There’s also some specific words and phrases that are used when a participant in the meeting wants to react to what is being said.
An interview; this can be a highly stressful situation made worse by the fact that it’s being conducted in a foreign language. We run specialised courses for job interviews because while being similar to the meeting situation in terms of formality and structure here all the attention is being focused on the interviewee. The better prepared s/he is the less stressful the experience will be.
The presentation; here the person giving the presentation while having all the attention and pressure on them have the advantage of being in complete control of what and how the information will be presented. Here the key is preparation making sure the information is clear and the delivery is well rehearsed.
Sales and negotiations; while it’s hard to know and practice for the exact direction of each interaction there are standard techniques and strategies with again some key words and phrases that can assist the flow of these types of discussions.
Finally, technical discussions; those occurring between peers sharing information and experience in a specialised field of expertise. Generally, people feel the most confident in these kinds of situations and exchanges because although they’re operating in a foreign language they are comfortable with the subject matter and are therefore likely to be less self conscious about their English and the small mistakes they might be making.
If you’d like help to improve your English speaking performance in any of the above mentioned areas of business interaction please book a course of lessons so that next time you’re in one of these situations you’ll feel more confident.