Like it or not, money’s mother tongue is English these days.
So here’s the straight dope: if you’re interested in being a successful businessperson in today’s global market, you must have a command of English.
This semester I met several students vying for jobs at big firms in Korea, all of whom needed to prepare for an English interview.
It’s an inescapable truth for many: the better your English, the better your job.
Imagine a few years down the road you walk into an interview for the job of your dreams. The manager asks you to sit down. She takes one look at your resume and asks you in English, “why should I hire you?” What do you say? Why should they hire you?
Sound like a nightmare? Don’t worry. I have some good news. There are endless websites, apps, podcasts, books and video resources that can help you improve your Business English. Many of them are free. All of them require you to be committed and diligent to master their exercises, memorize words and gain confidence in your English ability.
So, by the time you go for an interview at Samsung or AIG, you’ll be ready to wow your future employer and start your successful business career.
Here are my top 4 websites, books and video resources for improving your Business English!
Elite Business English Resources for Fluency and Career Success
4 Online Business English Resources
Cost: Free. Paid packages (additional glossaries and PDFs) each cost $7.
This site is totally minimalist. It’s all about serious, no-nonsense free content. No fluff. It’s straightforward, vast and full of exercises. It gives you an incredible amount of visuals for learning vocabulary, example sentences to build on, listening exercises to improve your ear, grammar tests and more.
From the home page you can link to vocabulary exercises for a variety of business fields ranging from sales and marketing to project management. From there you’re led to a plethora of fill-in-the-blank exercises that’ll help you learn (or review) relevant vocabulary, phrases or idioms used often in the business environment.
It gives you the basics and it stays on topic. A great place to start where you won’t be overwhelmed.
Cost: Free. 6 month premium membership for $90 USD.
For the English learner on a budget, you get a short write-up about different business situations and an accompanying podcast that discusses each situation. There’s also a new feature that links you to videos that teach you more Business English with visuals.
Go here for incredibly specific situations, such as how to properly argue in a meeting or take control in times of crisis.
You won’t just improve your English — you’ll improve your overall business skills!
The podcast episodes discuss other situations such as meetings, presentations, job interviews, socializing and travel. They always give an example dialogue within each situation. With each video you’re prompted to think about certain questions and listen for specific information. This will keep your ears extra sharp.
The paid option certainly increases the benefits. You get access to even more interactive transcripts and ebooks. Fortunately, BEP gives you a chance to take a test run of the product with a free 8-day trial to make sure it’s worth your hard earned money.
Cost: Free audio and video. Paid options are £2 PDFs or £80 unlimited access.
This site offers a great alternative for those who want to learn Business English while studying famous business models. BES offers case studies of the world’s biggest companies, including Amazon, Nike, Apple and YouTube through audio and video and discusses significant issues specific to those featured companies.
For example, for advanced learners there’s a two and a half minute video of Tony Wheeler talking about milestones in Lonely Planet’s history. At the end of the video there are questions you can answer. The catch is that the answers are part of the paid package.
That being said, the paid PDFs do have quite a bit of content focusing on vocabulary, grammar points and reading comprehension. They give you a short reading about each company under discussion to further boost your understanding. BES will gladly send you a sample exercise before you pay for one!
This site covers a ton of information. It may just be the best resource for learning how to handle yourself (and use your English properly) in a wide variety of possible business scenarios.
In a section called “English at work” the learner follows fictional workers Anna and Tom through all sorts of common issues that might arise in the office. You can listen to Anna’s interview at the company or learn how to make polite requests in the episode where Anna finds the storehouse manager breaking the rules by smoking inside. You even get to hear how Anna and Tom deal with their colleagues at their own wedding. These scenarios are also helpful outside of work and help you better understand the culture of English-speaking countries.
In a section called “Talking Business” there are more general business scenarios covered such as setting agendas, giving presentations or answering the phone.
This site introduces you to the basics and includes some terribly funny and uncomfortable situations you might encounter at work.
Top 4 Bought Business English Texts on Amazon
Gillett is a popular ESL teacher that also has the ESL book market topped. This 5-year old book is still at the top of best Business English books on Amazon. It comes with an audio CD and plenty of explanations, exercises and cartoons to help you understand important idioms used in the workplace.
Speak Business English Like an American: Learn the Idioms and Expressions You Need To Succeed on the Job! Amy Gillett
Another great book by Gillett for those who want to focus on the American workplace. Even my coworkers from other parts of the English-speaking world and I often feel like we need this book to understand each other. Gillett takes care to help you understand idioms you might hear inside or outside the workplace in America.
This book is no longer in print, but can be downloaded onto Kindle. The beauty of this book is the cartoons that give the learner a visual for each useful phrase. It’s pretty simple and concise and was made with the understanding that “time is money.”
It kind of goes without saying that you’re going to need a dictionary at times and this one is the most popular. Even better, now there’s a 2nd edition with 18,000 sample sentences and an interactive CD-ROM that gives you exam practice.
4 Video Sites for ESL Business Learners
Cost: Free. Extended version for $8 – $18 per month, $80 -$180 per year
If you really want to find a website that has it all, check out FluentU. We’re all about learning real-world English through videos. You can chose from tons of videos and find ones specifically about Business English. The site also offers vocabulary help, flashcards and interactive subtitles. Missed part of the dialogue? Pause, hover your cursor over the tricky words and get an instant definition on screen. We’re always adding more videos, which means you’ll always have fresh, new video resources for learning Business English.
Cost: Free. Subscribe on iTunes or RSS Feed.
This video library is run by Business English Pod (seen above) and it’s incredibly useful. The visuals in the videos help with understanding and the speech is slow enough to follow. If you’re a premium member with BEP, then you get extra help in the way of study notes and online practice with these videos, but the free option is also nice.
At EngVid.com you can watch loads of lectures about business-related vocabulary and grammar in English. This free website allows you about 15 minutes of instruction from a native speaker and the option to take a quiz or leave a comment that might get you involved in an online discussion. Take any chance you can to interact with others in English — even online! Every little bit will help improve your skills.
Cost: Free. $15 for premium unlimited access.
These bite-sized videos are fantastic. In about 2 minutes you can learn the basics of business introductions, how to write a cover letter and other important business skills. Also, there are subtitles, exercises where you can get practice speaking words in the dialogue and filling in words by typing. Very easy to digest and enough interactive exercises to feel like you’re getting good practice.
Here you can get access to 15 great videos about conducting business and get practice listening to another accent — Australian! These well-crafted videos take you through a day in the life of a businessman and some of the scenarios you might encounter during an average day’s activities. Also, it’ll teach you a bit about the business language and culture Down Under.
So, there’s your comprehensive Business English plan. Check out these sites, be diligent, listen, read, write, speak and repeat. Soon you’ll be on the other side of the table interviewing future potential employers in English to come work for you. Good luck!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.