Engineers are smart.
They are problem solvers.
They can understand complex systems.
But face it. A lot of engineers do not know their English.
I remember in college, my engineering friends would often call me for help while writing reports or preparing for presentations.
And it is no surprise. A lot of engineering courses are very technical, with little focus on communication skills or English language skills.
As a result, you may be a genius when it comes to coding, but a nervous wreck before every meeting. Or maybe you have tons of technical words memorized, but cannot explain them in everyday terms.
If that is you, do not panic!
We will show you six great courses that will make your English skills as strong as your engineering skills.
Many of the courses below are free and the rest are low-cost. You can take them while you are working or studying. I will tell you how.
Smart Study Tips for Engineering English
Spend time learning technical terms. If English is not your first language, you may face difficulties learning complex or specialized engineering terms. Dedicate time every day to memorizing words that are important to your field.
You can also make a list of difficult words you encounter on the job and review them often.
Regularly test your English skills. Keep a checklist of basic English grammar rules handy and take online grammar and vocabulary tests to assess your skills. Here is a great list of business English quizzes, exercises and games to get you started.
Find opportunities to practice speaking. To master engineering English, you cannot just lock yourself in a room alone and study. You need to practice speaking with others, too.
Look for public speaking opportunities at your job, school or in your local community.
For example, networking events can be a great place to practice speaking about your industry. Or if you attend a university, there is likely a debate club you can join. Meanwhile, try to participate more often in meetings. You do not have to be an extrovert, but you can make the effort of speaking up a bit more often.
Learn while you relax. Even entertainment can be a source of learning. For example, you can read English books or watch English TV at the end of each day.
If you enjoy this type of learning, you can also check out FluentU, a unique business English learning tool. FluentU takes real-world videos—like business dialogues, inspiring speeches, news and more—and turns them into personalized English lessons.
FluentU has a huge collection of English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch.
More to the point, FluentU has an entire business category filled with authentic business-related videos covering six language levels.
To show the variety of videos even inside this single category, real-world business videos on FluentU include “Introducing Business Colleagues,” “Business Buzzwords,” “Control Your Inbox!” and “What Warren Buffet Thinks About Cash.”
An added bonus is that if you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories, such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or mix it up with “Arts and Entertainment” or “Health and Lifestyle.”
Every spoken word is subtitled, complete with an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences.
All you have to do is tap or click on one of the words in those subtitles to get more information. For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” you will see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
If you are interested in watching fun, relevant videos and practicing language actively in the process, be sure to create a FluentU account and try it out on your computer, iOS or Android device!
6 Excellent Online English Courses for Engineers
The internet is full of wonderful resources to help engineers improve their English speaking and writing skills. I have picked some of the best online courses that you can sign up for.
Many of these courses are offered regularly throughout the year. Typically you can sign up at any time and will have access to class materials. However, if you want the benefit of peer review or instructor support, enroll at the next available class date.
English for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
Created by the University of Pennsylvania, this is a beginner-level course with really positive reviews from students. You will learn how to read about and discuss engineering and related topics. The course also explains important scientific concepts in an easy-to-understand manner.
The five-week course comes with video lessons, reading assignments and practice quizzes. You will grow your scientific vocabulary, while learning about today’s important topics in science and engineering.
This is one of several courses in our list that is offered by Coursera, where anyone can take courses from prestigious universities on countless subjects. If you want to keep building your English skills, engineering skills or both, start exploring the offerings on Coursera here.
Communication Skills for Engineers
This three-part series from Rice University helps engineers express themselves better verbally and in writing. It is beginner-level and does not require prior experience.
In other words, if you are not sure about your English skills and feel scared at the prospect of being interviewed or pitching to a client, you should sign up for this course.
Part One focuses on “oral communication” such as presentations. Part Two focuses on “interpersonal communication” such as conversations with employees. Part Three focuses on writing skills. If you like, you can take just one or two of these.
English Communication Skills for Engineers
This is a paid course that covers all the bases. With 3.5 hours of video, supplemental resources and a number of assignments, this one is sure to be worth your money.
It covers English communication skills for the workplace, technical language, polite language and communication strategies. If you are worried about not making friends in the workplace because of a language barrier, worry no further!
It is designed for engineers looking to improve their business communication skills, especially those with a low-intermediate English level.
This course comes from Udemy, an online platform with thousands of affordable classes. Udemy is great for business English learners because your whole team can take a course together. Check out the Udemy courses available in your field or passions here.
Mastering the Software Engineering Interview
Are you a skilled programmer? Fascinated by the world of coding and ethical hacking? Training or interested in software engineering? This course will get you ready to interview for your dream job.
You will learn how to talk about your engineering accomplishments and sell yourself as a candidate. You will also get to practice some common job interview questions from the English-speaking world.
Just be aware that this course was designed for English-speaking engineers, so it may be difficult for beginner learners.
English for Research Publication Purposes
Are you one of those people who has always wanted to get into research? Are you happiest when working in a laboratory? Then this series of courses is for you.
Created by the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, this one covers all you need to know about:
- Writing research papers
- Specialized academic terms
- The publication process
- And more!
Even if you are not into research, a published paper or two always looks good on a resume. This course tells you how best to achieve that.
This course is ideal for students who already have some experience in English research writing.
Leadership Development for Engineers
As you may have already realized, leadership is one of the most valuable qualities in an engineer. Companies look for strong leadership skills before giving promotions.
So if you already have some decent communication skills in English and are looking to expand to management roles, this series of courses promises to be of great help.
This three-part series covers:
- Understanding your own personality traits
- Work relationships
- Conflict management
- Effective teams
- And more!
Plus, if you have doubts about your public speaking skills, this course might just save your life.
This course was created for a native-speaking audience. Therefore, it might be best suited for upper intermediate and advanced learners.
Do not make language learning a secondary endeavor. Make time for it in your daily routine along with your other studies. Use every opportunity you get to improve your English skills, whether it is a networking event or simply explaining something complicated to your roommate. Similarly for writing, try practicing reports and research papers.
Ultimately, the more you make learning fun, the easier it is going to get and the faster you are likely to improve. So remain positive, disciplined and committed and you are sure to improve by leaps and bounds.
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, artist, educator and a self-taught Italian speaker. Feel free to check out her website or contact her for freelancing inquiries.
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.