How to Improve Your Business English? Try These 15 Tips
If you have been following our business English blog for some time now, you may have already read some great tips to help you be more familiar with speaking business English.
Despite this, you might have hit a wall (stopped seeing improvement) and need some new ways to help you keep making progress with your English learning.
Here are some ideas to help you keep pushing forward so that you can improve your business English with every passing day!
- Ask for Help
- Watch and Listen to Business-related Media
- Write Down New Words and Phrases
- Practice as Much as You Can
- Make Time to Study
Ask for Help
Some people find it very tough to ask others for help. If that sounds like you, then there is no easy way to hear this: You need to get over your ego and start asking others for help!
Every English speaker you meet is a learning resource that you should try to utilize to help you improve your business English.
1. Get someone to edit your written work.
Are you writing something for work? Before you submit an important proposal or presentation to a client or to your boss, ask an English speaker to review your work.
Have the person make notes of your mistakes and also note how you should correct them rather than simply make the changes for you. That way, you can learn with each correction.
For example, the editor can correct your mistakes like this:
Return for Investment (Please write: Return on Investment)
2. Tell your coworkers to tell you when you use incorrect English.
Have you ever eaten lunch with someone, and then seen that this person gets a piece of lettuce caught in his teeth? You sit across from him wondering if you should inform him about the lettuce or not. Unless you know him well, chances are good that you do not say anything at all.
You sit quietly even though you know if you were in his shoes, you would want to know if you had lettuce in your teeth so you could get it out, rather than sit there for an hour talking away with leafy greens wedged between your teeth.
It is the same when your colleagues hear your English mistakes. They will know that:
“On a shoelace budget” is a mistake, and that you should have said “on a shoestring budget.”
“The bottom of the line” should be “the bottom line.”
Yet, chances are, they do not correct you simply because they feel that it is not their place (the person does not have the authority or right to do something).
So, it is your job to inform your employees and coworkers that they can correct your English. Tell them that you prefer that they correct you! Once you give your colleagues the go-ahead (permission) to correct your English, they will feel comfortable doing so.
3. Practice your presentation with someone beforehand.
Just like you should ask someone to look through your written presentation slides, whenever you have to make a presentation you should ask someone to be your mock (pretend) audience.
Have the person take notes and then give you feedback at the end. The person should tell you:
If you have made any grammatical or English mistakes.
If anything was unclear.
How you could improve.
Watch and Listen to Business-related Media
4. Listen to podcasts.
You can listen to podcasts anytime, anywhere. a couple of useful business English podcasts include:
Ted Radio Hour — These inspiring talks will surely widen your worldview and challenge your intellect, ultimately making you a better business person even if they are not all directly related to business.
Startup — A podcast that shares the entire process of how a successful company was started.
5. Watch TV Series.
Watching business-themed television shows is an easy way to have fun while still practicing your English. Remember to pause and re-watch when you don’t understand a phrase or conversation. It’s also helpful to turn on the English subtitles while you watch.
“The Office” — Learn business English and business humor with this quirky sitcom.
“Shark Tank” — Watch entrepreneurs pitch their ideas in hopes of securing investment.
“Fast Money” — This show features real Wall Street traders, and is more suitable for advanced students.
Of course, there are plenty of things that are difficult about watching and listening to real English content. You might not be able to find something that’s exactly at your language level. You also might not understand every word, especially if the speakers use slang or business jargon (industry-specific/technical words).
If these are challenges that you’re facing, you might find FluentU to be helpful. It’s a language learning program based on authentic English videos (videos that native speakers watch) and includes interactive captions with a multimedia dictionary to help you understand unfamiliar words, and active learning tools to help you remember them.
Write Down New Words and Phrases
Learning opportunities are just about everywhere—you just have to open your eyes and ears! Yet, when you are bombarded with English phrases all day, it may be hard to remember them all. We suggest this routine.
6. Carry a notebook or keep notes on your phone.
Whenever you hear or read a new English phrase, just write it down! Do not overdo it though. Aim to write 3-7 new phrases or words a day. Here are a few phrases and their definitions to start you off:
Let’s kick things off. (Definition: Let’s get started)
I don’t have any more bandwidth. (Definition: I do not have any more time or energy to do something because I am busy with other work.)
What does he bring to the table? (Definition: What makes him valuable in this specific situation?)
7. Review new phrases nightly.
Keeping a list isn’t going to do you any good unless you go over it. Study the list every night and try to internalize the things you’ve learned.
8. Try to use the new phrase the following day.
Recall the things you’ve learned the previous day and put them to use when speaking with colleagues or anyone else about business matters.
Practice as Much as You Can
Your business English skills will only improve with practice, so do it whenever you can.
9. Make a conscious effort to integrate newly learned phrases.
Just like we suggested with the words and phrases you’ve written down in your notebook, we suggest that you try your best to use any and all newly learned phrases whenever you can.
10. Talk with your colleagues at work.
You may feel shy to speak with your English-speaking colleagues, but don’t! The more you interact with them, the more confident you will feel. You can:
Try to speak face to face rather than email.
Eat lunch with your colleagues so you can have a casual conversation.
11. Rehearse conversations.
If you are going to ask your boss for a raise, then take some time to practice that conversation in front of a mirror the night before.
If you have a good friend who is fluent in English, you may want to ask him/her to help you roleplay the conversation.
Make Time to Study
If you really want to use business English like a pro, then you’re going to have to have a study routine. Some basic, consistent commitment can help you to improve your business English in no time!
12. Wake up early.
This might be hard for some, but you know what they say—the early bird gets the worm. By waking up 15 minutes earlier every morning, you will wind up studying 90+ hours more in a year. Think how much better your English will be!
13. Use the commute.
If you take the subway to work, then scroll through the business news on your phone. Travel by car? Connect the aux cable and listen to a podcast. By studying during your daily commute, you’ll have a consistent study time slot.
14. Study throughout the day.
Make every moment a learning moment. Rather than scroll through social media sites when you’re bored, review your newest business English phrases or read some business news in English.
The more you do it, the more natural it will feel, and the better your business English will become!
15. Review 10 minutes before bed.
Studies say that thinking about something right before bed helps you to internalize it, making it more likely that you’ll remember it later.
The sooner you start following the advice offered in this blog post, the sooner you will improve your business English!