What Is Business English Really About: Breaking The Myths

Tori Tornreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process8 min
Created: Mar 16, 2023Last updated: Feb 1, 2024
Business English

Business English courses have become insanely popular in the past couple of decades. People believe that business English is the only thing they need to get a better job in an English-speaking country or international company. And that is not a wrong opinion. The world keeps globalizing, and professionals from different industries have no other choice except to adjust themselves to working with people from all around the world and improving their English skills.

Seeking better career opportunities and building solid communication with masterminds, people come up with a request to learn business English. However, when you ask people what they put into the collocation “business English,” it turns out everybody has different things in mind. Moreover, not all people understand that learning business English is beneficial not only for professionals in finance and economics. That is why today we are diving deeper into the term “business English” and trying to identify if you need to switch from general English classes to business themed instead. 

The Essence of Business English: The Definition of the Term

Since English learners can’t really come to a common ground in defining “business English,” we’ll start by defying the term. So, what is business English? Simply, Business English is a type of general English used in more work-related contexts. You must understand that in a  business English course or lesson, you will be learning the same old Present Perfect and Past Simple, but in the context of talking about your achievements in your current role rather than travel experiences or general life achievements. Nonetheless, there are standard terms and useful structures for holding meetings, negotiating with colleagues, partners, and clients, describing graphs, etc. 

You should expect Business English to be more formal than General English. That’s the core sense and specificity of this type of English. It helps you communicate as clearly as possible with different teams and people who are important to your job. Such things as tapping into Gen Z slang or discussing personal issues are not relevant in Business English. Nonetheless, expecting General English to be out of the table when communicating at work is naïve. Employers pay a lot of attention to general English fluency when hiring a specialist to work in an English-speaking environment. They might even ask you to prove your English proficiency by taking an exam such as IELTS or one of the Cambridge exams, or even a Business English exam. After checking your general English skills, they will dig deeper into your job-related “business” English. 

“Business English is General English put in a work context. We call it Business English because it’s generally the most acceptable name, and it’s about business. So essentially, if you need English for work, then you probably need General English which will make you a more confident and native-like speaker, but you need to be able to use it in the context of a work life rather than simple everyday or complex abstract matters,” explains Kateryna Protsenko, Cambridge CELTA and Delta trainer and Head of Tutors at Promova. 

Business English Courses: What Are They About

When choosing a business English course as a way to improve your working communication, it’s vital to understand that business English learning doesn’t aim to acknowledge you on specifics of your industry or your role in the company. If you are seeking to get a professional qualification, you should go to university or take courses. In business English class, you focus on skills you need for your job, such as writing a report or email, making a presentation or giving an oral pitch, etc. 

“What is it that we are looking for? Are we trying to get better at marketing? If yes, then what we really need is probably a course in marketing to be taught in English. That is a totally different thing. An English teacher cannot teach a marketing specialist to be a good marketing specialist. But they can help you to become a better communicator,” says Kateryna Protsenko, Cambridge CELTA and Delta trainer and Head of Tutors at Promova. 

A Business English course covers the same components as a General English course but in another context. The English learner will still work on vocabulary, listening, speaking, grammar, reading, and writing. But instead of discussing tv shows, you will concentrate on job-related topics. For instance, you will listen to a dialogue between two colleagues preparing to present a new project to stakeholders, discussing a recent business trip, arranging a lunch meeting with their clients etc. 

In many cases, business English training focuses on writing skills. In terms of English, writing formal emails, reports, proposals, and presentations might be challenging, even for those whose general English skills are genuinely remarkable and mind-blowing. However, it’s not rocket science, and there is nothing tricky about formal writing. If you want to master formal writing in a business context to the point when it becomes a usual everyday task, you learn the basic rules and apply them in practice as much as possible. 

If you need to learn English for business, consider taking individual lessons. In such a case, the teacher can personalize content to your work industry and context. You won’t need to waste your time learning something about IT when you actually need to work on English from a financial perspective. 

So, what to expect from a business English course or class, except working in the context of your job? You will work on the following:

  • writing business correspondence
  • presenting and pitching information verbally 
  • dealing with colleagues, partners, and customers
  • holding meetings
  • conducting job interviews and reviews 
  • discussing legal and financial aspects of business
  • negotiating
  • expressing your opinion on a work-related matter, 
  • making arrangements for a meeting, 
  • requesting some information from a partner or a customer 

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How to Learn Business English: Course on Promova

When you finally figure out what business English really is about, it’s time to move to how to learn business English. Typically, the options don’t differ much from that if you decide to improve your general English. You can either tap into mobile apps or enroll in a special course. However, there is another way to improve business English – to learn it with the Promova multitool

“I’ve been looking through business English course books and noticed they offer a lot of different tasks. For example, you might be given a  marketing budget, and you’re asked to negotiate with the team how you’re going to spend the money. I’m not an expert in marketing, so this kind of negotiation would be easy for me linguistically because I know structures that are used to express an opinion and convince my colleagues, but I would struggle to come up with decent arguments. Hence, I would not have enough content knowledge to actually negotiate successfully. So, I would prefer a personalized approach. And that is what we offer to our English learners at Promova,” explains Kateryna Protsenko, Cambridge CELTA and Delta trainer and Head of Tutors at Promova. 

A one-stop language learning platform Promova offers you to learn business English combining bite-sized lessons from a guided course on the mobile app with individual classes from certified English tutors with several years of experience. On the app, you can learn about company structure, corporate buzzwords, negotiations, how to describe charts and diagrams, and more. The Promova Business English course will become a great starting point for improving your work communication. Also, you can sign up for individual classes with English tutors who have been teaching English in the business context to professionals all over the world. Trust us, they’ve seen it all, so it won’t be a problem for them to prepare your English for an important presentation or pitch. Also, they will teach you how to negotiate correctly with formal ways to agree and disagree with your interlocutor, as long as you have the content knowledge. We create a personalized plan for every student, so you can be sure we will cover your English needs. 

Conclusion

This article was aimed to give you a better understanding of what Business English is really about and who might need it. As you see, the difference between business and general English isn’t drastic. Yes, they differ in topics and formality of communications. But the key point is that you can’t become a master in business English without a core knowledge of general English. However, when you decide to switch to learning Business English for your job, you should make the right choice in terms of what language aspects and in what way to improve. Remember that Promova always has your back. We are ready to teach you whatever English learning path you choose. 

FAQ

Who is a Business English tutor?

A Business English tutor is a certified language learning professional who can apply their knowledge and skills to professional context. Simply put, they have the same qualifications as any certified English teacher, but they also have additional expertise in communication in English related to professional and work matters. They can’t teach you to be a strong professional in the subject, but they can definitely help you communicate effectively at work. A Business English tutor teaches the language through the lens of your career and immediate responsibilities, such as writing formal business emails, holding meetings, presenting projects, reading contracts, etc. They tailor lessons according to your work needs and must-dos. Such teachers won’t teach you how to handle communication on vacation but will help you deal with CEOs. 

How to find a good Business English tutor?

In a digital era when communications have become even more globalized thanks to the incredible power of the Internet and social media, finding a professional Business English tutor isn’t much of a problem. You no longer have to limit your choice to specialists who live in the same city as you. Today you can work with the best Business English tutors online. Luckily for you, Promova already did the hard job of selecting and eliminating for you. We’ve gathered the best Business English teachers from all over the world and offer one-to-one lessons with them online. Our tutors are certified professionals in English with several years of working experience teaching Business English. They are willing to go the extra mile to help you succeed in your work communication. 

What do I need to start learning Business English?

To enroll in a Business English course, you need your overall English skills to match at least a pre-intermediate level of English proficiency. Starting to learn Business English is not an option if your General English skills aren’t strong enough. However, if your English level is acceptable to begin your path in Business English, it doesn’t mean that is the only thing required. As an adult learner, you must clearly understand how the Business English course can benefit your work and career. For example, suppose you are a Partnership Manager in an IT company that designs mobile applications. In that case, you must learn how to write formal emails to pitch your partnership offer and get familiar with the basics of holding an English business conversation. 

How long does a Business English course last?

As with any general English course, a Business English course covers one level. So, it will take around 150 hours to progress one level up. Of course, if you are motivated enough and have more time to take lessons and practice outside of the classes, you will succeed earlier. For instance, you can work on your business English for 3-4 hours daily, which might lead to burnout. We estimate that six months is an optimal amount of time to complete one business English course with no rush. Remember that you are a working professional (that is why you want to take this course), so your free time is one of the most treasurable assets in your life. 


 

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