There isn’t just one English language.
There are many types of English from many different places that were once under British rule.
Of course, the basic rules and the grammar of the language are essentially the same everywhere. But there are noticeable differences in the accents, word choices and pronunciation depending on where you are.
And the workplace is probably one of the first places you’ll notice those differences.
Whereas an American businessperson might take an elevator to their company’s center to request a vacation…
A British businessperson would take a lift to their company’s centre to request a holiday.
Lucky for you, there are tons of British business English courses, online tools, books and other resources to get you ready! We’ll show you nine of our favorites in this article.
How to Improve Your British Business English
These simple tips below will go a long way in helping you act and sound like a real British English speaker. They should also help you comfortably fit into your British workplace.
- Know the difference between American and British words. For example, you say “flat” and not “apartment” in London and “timetable” instead of “schedule.” You also have to be careful about spelling—it’s “colour” in British English but “color” in American English.
Don’t worry if this is all new to you. Here’s our easy guide to British vs. American English that we wrote specifically for language learners.
- Talk to British people. Be extroverted, go to pubs and try to bond with your colleagues during lunch breaks or in group projects.
Even if you aren’t currently in the U.K., I’ll bet there’s a British-style pub for expats (short for expatriates, or people who’ve moved from one country to another) in a city near you.
- Get your news from British sources. This is an easy way to practice listening to British business English every day. For example, follow BBC News for current events and check out the Guardian’s business section for business and finance headlines.
Business English in the U.K.: Top 9 Resources Curated for You
Below are some U.K.-based business English resources that you might like to check out. As you’ll see below, you can sign up for an online course, an offline course or do it on your own by referring to educational websites and books.
Online and Offline Courses
When it comes to learning business English (or even general English for that matter), British Council is a great bet. Most places have a local British Council and you can contact them to figure out the right course for you. They usually provide multiple course options based on specific needs (such as public speaking, business writing, communicative English and so on). They also usually conduct a test to assess your skill level to make sure that a particular course is the right one for you.
They provide top-quality resources and focus on your all-around development. So you won’t just learn the nuances of the language, but also British culture and how to be confident and persuasive when you speak.
If you can’t enroll for their in-person courses, you can check out their amazing online resources.
The best way to learn U.K. business English is to go straight to the source: real British business conversations. But did you know you can get those from home, no matter where you live, thanks to FluentU?
FluentU provides authentic English videos, including business dialogues, news reports, inspiring speeches and more, that’ve been transformed into personalized language lessons.
Each video comes with interactive subtitles. Click any word for an instant definition and native pronunciation! FluentU will automatically pause the video so you can learn without getting lost. There are also flashcards, exercises, full transcripts and vocabulary lists that come with every video.
In other words, you’ll be learning the language the way British people really use it, and it won’t even feel like studying.
To learn British business English, get started with this video about business problem solving or these street interviews with real London residents and visitors. You can check out the full video library for free with a FluentU trial.
The London School of English is a great language learning center that has both offline and online courses. However, if you can’t travel to London or Canterbury (where they teach business English in-person), you can still access their resources online.
Their Business English online course in particular is an all-in-one course that covers almost everything including telephone conversations, writing skills and the art of negotiation. You can access their 150 hours of learning content from any device and for a fee of £185 (about 240 USD) get six months of unlimited access to it.
Moreover, if you book a course at one of their U.K. centers within 12 months of enrolling in their online one, the online price be discounted from the in-person fees. And if you aren’t happy with the course, you can let them know in two weeks and claim a full refund.
You may be familiar with MacMillan. It’s a trusted publishing house that creates educational business English books, among other types of books. Well, they even have multiple online business English courses to suit all skill levels and other needs.
In fact, you can opt for either American or British business English.
Their courses cover not only grammar and vocabulary, but also the art of listening, presentations and how to get comfortable in an English workspace environment.
They’ll also teach you about cultural differences and social customs in the U.K. so that you have no trouble fitting in.
British Study Centres was founded way back in the 1930s and provides world-class education all over the world. Their online courses are taught via video lessons that take place on your schedule, complete with technical support and progress checks. You’ll also get a completion certificate you can put on your CV.
They have a general business English course as well as separate, skill-specific courses that cover writing skills, presentations, socializing and negotiations. So if there’s a particular area you want to focus on, this company will help you to do just that.
They also have offline courses for adults whose centers are located in major cities in the U.K., as well as in Dublin, Ireland.
Another international school that was established in 1962, this company is focused on providing top quality English language education in London. Their business English courses are very flexible. You can opt for individual tuition or group study. They even have combination courses depending on your schedule and your specific needs.
If you’ve moved to London and you’re looking for a mentor to guide you in business English or to meet new study partners, this school is a great option for you.
Business English Reading
The meanings are demonstrated with sentences and there are audio recordings that can be separately downloaded, which will teach you the British English pronunciation for each word.
The book is only 116 pages long and is a must-read if you want to say the right words at the right time. If you enjoy it, you can get a lot more from EnglishClass101, created by the same team. EnglishClass101 is a self-study course that teaches the language with fun, culturally relevant audio and video lessons.
Language Practice Websites
The BBC is one of the top authorities when it comes to British English. You can peruse the content on their website to help improve your language skills. As a business English student, this is a handy website to brush up on your basics.
It’s an archived page but it has links to tons of helpful, British-focused resources, such as Bitesize, which helps to prepare for particular exams, and Skillswise, which covers basic language skills for adults.
You can also check out resources specifically from Scotland if that’s the part of the U.K. you plan to work in.
This website is solely devoted to teaching you the British accent. Their exercises will help you improve your intonation, diction and pronunciation. You can opt for a free trial by scheduling a 30-minute appointment where you’ll be live-coached on British accents.
If you feel your speaking skills need focus, you might want to check this out.
Studying business English in the U.K. and mastering British English will certainly open doors for you. Try exposing yourself to British culture more, so that you can get an idea of how British businesspeople think and act, and that’ll help you communicate with your colleagues. Soon success will follow you around.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.