It’s hard to succeed in business exclusively by yourself.
You need good mentors and smart colleagues to help you grow.
Learning business English is no different.
You need others to practice with and learn from if you’re going to develop your business English language skills.
However, for many of us, this isn’t always an option. We may not have regular access to offices where business English is spoken. We may not even be in a country where English is spoken much at all.
That’s where online resources come in.
Even if you don’t have direct access to native English speakers, there are many interactive online resources that can help you learn and practice the language.
In fact, there are so many ways to learn business English online that it can even be overwhelming. You might quickly find yourself wondering what the most effective resources are for your individual learning needs.
In this post, we’ll explore three essential types of online learning tools that any business English learner can benefit from. These resources should set you up to succeed in your communication and comprehension goals—helping to boost your career in the process.
3 Essential Online Tools for Learning Business English
1. Professional Social Networks
Looking for a learning tool that gives you the chance to communicate and practice your business English in real-life scenarios?
Social networks geared toward professionals are a great place to start.
How can professional social networks help your business English skills?
Social networks provide engaging business English content, while also providing many opportunities for learners to communicate for themselves. On these social networks, you’ll be able to:
- Discuss articles posted by your connections
- Comment on status updates
- Write about your own professional experiences and achievements
With these opportunities, your comfort level in business English communication will skyrocket.
Because it’s so interactive, these kinds of networks are especially great for beginners in business English; that’s because they force you not only to study, but also to practice. This is really useful for any language, but it’s almost essential for the kind of technical vocabulary in business English that can be harder to remember.
But it’s not enough to simply register for an account on a professional social network. In order to really learn, you need to stay active. When using a social network to learn business English, try to constantly grow your pool of professional contacts and interact with this network in ways that genuinely interest you.
This way, it’ll be easy to stay motivated while learning—and it can even open up new business and career opportunities.
Finding like-minded groups is also great for this purpose. Most professional social networks have a number of themed groups that anybody can join; they cater to a wide range of interests and specialties.
Let’s say you’re interested in the human resources (HR) field. You can join online groups dedicated to HR education, HR news and resources, finding jobs in HR and much more. While contributing to discussions in these groups, you’ll learn terminology that’s relevant to the field, such as using the word “onboarding” to describe the hiring process.
Professional social networks will also help you develop the ability to describe yourself and your own talents using business English. This will become a tremendously valuable skill as you’re entering the workforce in an English-speaking environment. By looking at the profiles of others who have mastered business English, you can pick up really useful tips for how you might describe yourself.
What are some useful professional social networks?
The most obvious example of a professional social network is, of course, LinkedIn. But there are others, such as AngelList and Meetup, which are also great interactive resources to learn business English. Meetup is particularly helpful because it allows you to set up face-to-face meetings with people interested in the same things that you are, giving opportunities to practice using business English in real-world scenarios.
2. Business English Media and Entertainment
Ultimately, it’s not really enough to just read and write. You also have to hear business English in order to understand how it’s properly used. And while Meetup is great for this, there are also a number of media resources that business English learners can take advantage of to help them learn.
What can you learn from this type of media and entertainment?
YouTube channels, business-related podcasts and films set in the business world will all help improve your fluency in business English. After all, tone is a huge part of communication, and it’s impossible to learn without watching or hearing the language.
These kinds of resources are good for business English learners at any level. They can help beginners get introduced to business English in a way that’s easier and more entertaining than traditional studying. They can also help intermediate to advanced speakers learn more about tone and context when communicating in business English.
The entertainment aspect also shouldn’t be undervalued. Sometimes, it’s hard to feel motivated to read a bunch of articles or really get engaged on a social media platform. Videos and movies tend to be more immediately entertaining—movies especially, because they tell a story along with teaching core vocabulary.
What are some good media resources for learning business English?
The same goes for podcasts like the Harvard Business Review’s IdeaCast, which features amazing ideas along with business English. And of course, if you want to have something a little more straightforward, you can always check out YouTube videos created specifically for business English learners, like those found at the Learn English with Rebecca channel.
If you’re looking for authentic business English content with built-in learning tools, you should check out FluentU.
FluentU offers engaging videos for a wide range of industries including finance, sales, logistics, medicine and more. These videos come with interactive captions providing in-context definitions so you can learn new vocabulary as it’s used in the real world. There are also quizzes and other features that’ll ensure you remember what you’ve learned.
Plus, FluentU keeps track of all the vocabulary you’ve learned, offering a truly personalized learning experience.
3. Business Blogs and Websites
One of the best ways to learn business English online is to read business-centric blogs and websites. There are many great websites like this one out there, and they feature regular, useful updates that’ll not only teach you business English, but will also keep you up to date on news, ideas and key players in the business world.
What can you learn from business blogs and websites?
General interest business blogs and websites are a great introduction to frequently used business terms and concepts. Not only will you encounter essential business English words and learn their meanings, but you’ll also see how to use them correctly in a sentence.
When learning any language, context is critical. Rather than simply memorizing a word and its definition, it’s tremendously valuable to see what situations the word is used in—this makes it easier for you to understand the word when you read or hear it, or use it in your own writing and speaking.
This is especially true for business English because much of the terminology is technical. It’s not enough to merely learn the terminology of business English. A learner must also understand how these terms can be integrated into standard English, and used in natural conversations.
For example, you might read a definition of “value proposition” or “brand transparency,” but that doesn’t mean you can immediately use those terms correctly in a meeting. By encountering new vocabulary in engaging, relatable articles, you’ll learn not only what new words mean, but also how to use them.
What are some useful business blogs and websites to read?
As I mentioned earlier, there are many online resources to choose from. And most have a large amount of content that you can learn from and work your way through. Here are some outlets you can explore:
- Inc, Entrepreneur and Forbes are great options because they cover a wide range of content. No matter your industry, you’ll likely find valuable information and language usage. If you’re in the U.S., you can subscribe to all of these magazines at discounted rates from Magazine Line (and also get free shipping!).
- The Wall Street Journal and the Financial Times are popular newspapers in the business world that you can access online.
- You can get a lot of quality, in-depth and up-to-date information with a subscription to The New York Times. Use their business section to keep up with the latest business news in the U.S. and all over the world every day.
- And here’s a step-by-step guide to learning business English from news headlines.
There’s an overwhelming number of online resources to learn business English right at your fingertips! As their quality continues to increase, it seems fair to say that now, more than ever before, learning business English is really only a click away.
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