Build a Career in Hotel Work with These English Training Resources
Hotel English training gives you the necessary language skills to work in an English-speaking hotel or tourism and hospitality environment.
And this kind of training isn’t just available to those in the hotel industry. Anyone can seek out hotel English training.
Whether you are a hotel manager, hospitality professional or someone interested in working with tourists or travelers, there are lots of great, professional resources to learn hotel English.
- 12 Resources for Hotel English Training
- 1. ESL conversation websites
- 2. Business English websites
- 3. Online English courses
- 4. Online hotel English videos
- 5. Official websites of hotels and other travel companies
- 6. Travel blogs
- 7. Conversational English books
- 8. Business English books
- 9. Movies
- 10. Television
- 11. Similar jobs
- 12. Real people
- Important Things to Remember About Hotel English
- You have to be polite but not necessarily formal.
- You may use vocabulary specific to your job or industry.
- You will use a lot of conversational English.
- Written hotel English focuses on lists and charts.
- You will repeat certain phrases many times.
- You have to handle a lot of questions and requests.
- You will also handle a lot of complaints.
- Hotel English should be simple and to the point.
- And One More Thing...
12 Resources for Hotel English Training
1. ESL conversation websites
You can find hotel check-in words, phrases, dialogues and activities on almost any ESL website.
For example, you can find hotel English training materials at ESL Lab, LearnEnglishFeelGood and EnglishCentral. All of these have the resources you need to help you with conversational hotel English (such as videos with transcripts).
2. Business English websites
Business English websites usually cover topics like handling meetings with coworkers and supervisors, speaking to customers, getting ahead in your career, job interviews, salary negotiations and asking for promotions.
Some of these websites have entire pages dedicated to hotel English like English Club and EnglishForMyJob.com.
3. Online English courses
Coursera offers courses that let you learn at your own pace (as fast or slow as you want). Some assignments are peer-rated (graded by your fellow students) so you can exchange information with learners like you. A couple of courses I recommend for learning hotel English are Speak English Professionally: In Person, Online & On the Phone and Business English for Cross-cultural Communication.
Alison stands for Advance Learning Interactive Systems Online. It was created in 2007 to help people with their basic education and workplace skills. You can take their English for Tourism course to help you learn the English you need to work at a hotel front desk.
4. Online hotel English videos
Believe it or not, you can find a ton of hotel employee training videos on video-sharing websites like YouTube, DailyMotion and Vimeo. YouTube, in particular, has the Slow Easy English channel where you can find a playlist of hotel English lessons.
You can also check out a program like FluentU, where you can watch the same English videos that native speakers consume.
FluentU takes authentic videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
5. Official websites of hotels and other travel companies
The websites of major hotel chains are full of English you can study and learn. For example, you can visit the Hilton, Marriott, Wyndham and International Hotel Group websites and see what they have to offer.
Travel agencies also have online portals you can use to study English. One example is Liberty Travel.
6. Travel blogs
You can pick up a lot of hotel English by reading people’s personal travel blogs. In fact, there are countless English travel blogs all over the internet.
Some of these are written by multiple authors (writers). My personal favorites are Fodor’s and Lonely Planet.
7. Conversational English books
The most successful hospitality workers are chatty (talkative). If you can have fun, happy conversations in English, your guests and employers are sure to love you.
You can get English conversation books from all major publishers of ESL textbooks. I especially like “Conversational American English” by Richard Spears and the “Compelling Conversations” book series by Eric Roth and Toni Aberson.
8. Business English books
Hotel English is a type of business English, so business English books can help you as well. I personally recommend “Communicating in Business” by Simon Sweeney. It is fantastic if you are new to business English—and, by extension, hotel English.
Want to learn the fun way? You can choose from any of 10 movies that teach realistic hotel English. They include “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Maid in Manhattan.” All of them are wonderfully entertaining too!
You may not want to sit a couple of hours or so through a movie. In that case, you can watch television comedies and dramas about hotels instead. Some of the best ones are “Fawlty Towers,” “Hotel Babylon” and the very appropriately-named “Hotel.”
Some reality TV shows focus on hotels too. For example, “The Hotel” is a documentary series about a small hotel in the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, “Hotel Impossible” features a real business consultant who travels around the United States and helps hotel managers.
11. Similar jobs
If you are not ready to work at a hotel yet, you can also get a job that requires similar skills to practice your English.
Working as a secretary, receptionist, sales representative or other “customer-facing” jobs will help you take your hotel English to the next level. You can also apply for a part-time job at restaurants, cafes, hostels, etc.
12. Real people
Since you are going to use hotel English with real people, you might as well practice with them—in a safe environment, of course.
You can get together with friends and practice. Take turns playing the roles of the guests and the hotel employees.
Alternatively, you can also travel. Whenever you check into a hotel, observe how the staff uses English. How do they speak to you? Also, pay attention to the things you want to talk to hotel staff about. Take notes on how the hotel staff responds to you. Talk to them in English as much as possible.
If you lack the time or money for an international trip, you can also visit a tourist hotspot in your own country. Talk to the tourists and hotel staff in English. Not only will you practice your English skills, but you will also become more comfortable using the language the way native speakers do—naturally and instinctively.
Important Things to Remember About Hotel English
You have to be polite but not necessarily formal.
When you are in hospitality work, people expect courtesy (respect). At the same time, it is your job to help them relax and enjoy themselves.
You will often use formal English words and phrases such as:
Ma’am — Use this as a polite greeting for women.
Sir — Use this as a polite greeting for men.
Pleased to meet you — Say this to a guest you are meeting for the first time.
How may I be of assistance? — Say this to a guest who looks like they need help.
Breakfast is complimentary — Here, “complimentary” means free.
I’m sorry, there are no vacancies at the moment. — This is what you say to guests who ask for a room when the hotel is already fully booked.
You might also need to use friendlier “business casual” English words and phrases like:
Hi — This is a less formal version of “Hello.”
How are you? — This is also a basic greeting, except you usually expect a response like “I am fine, thank you.”
It is good to see you. — You can also say this instead of “Pleased to meet you.”
How can I help? — This is the less formal version of “How may I be of assistance?”
Breakfast is free. — This is the less formal version of “Breakfast is complimentary.”
Sorry, we have no free rooms. — This is the less formal version of “I’m sorry, there are no vacancies at the moment.”
If you work in a more relaxed hotel environment, you may be allowed to use polite slang to make guests feel comfortable. Examples include:
Hey, buddy. — This is the slang version of “Hello” or “Hi.”
How’s it going/How’s your day been? — This is the slang version of “How are you?”
That’s cool. — If you feel close to your guests, you can say this instead of “That is all right” (formal) or “That is okay” (informal).
You can read more about formal, casual and informal business English phrases and greetings here. Aside from business settings in general, you can also use them for hotel English.
You may use vocabulary specific to your job or industry.
For example, if you work in a hotel that uses sustainable resources (like organic food, organic materials and locally-produced items), you need to learn vocabulary related to those.
If you work in a hotel that offers luxury services like spa treatments and massages, you need to master the vocabulary often used in these services.
Here are a few more resources you can check out based on your specific job:
- Housekeeping. If you are part of a housekeeping team, you can learn 113 words and phrases for spotless (no pun intended) English.
- Reservations. Your job may require you to take manual reservations (as opposed to online reservations) over the phone. In that case, it might be useful to practice listening to various dialects to understand guests from different language backgrounds.
- Finance & Purchasing. Besides basic financial terms, a finance and purchasing manager needs to know the various jobs at the hotel as well as the goods and services needed to run a hotel smoothly (without problems).
- Engineering & Repairs. You can check out this list of English vocabulary for construction if your job involves making repairs and this guide to improving your English for engineering.
You will use a lot of conversational English.
You need to speak with supervisors, employees, coworkers and guests. You also need to communicate with third parties (those outside your company or organization) to coordinate activities for your guests.
For these, you need to listen to and quickly follow English-language instructions and requests. You must also be ready to answer questions about your hotel and nearby tourist destinations.
Written hotel English focuses on lists and charts.
Of course, hotel work will also involve reading and writing. For example, you need to know how to interpret (understand) English tables and checklists.
Room assignment charts are especially important. These show where each guest is and what amenities (things that make a guest’s stay more comfortable and convenient) each room has.
Hotel charts also list cleaning duties and emergency procedures for what to do during fires and earthquakes.
You will repeat certain phrases many times.
I hope you enjoyed your stay. — You say this to someone who is leaving the hotel.
Please let me know if you need any assistance. — You can use this to end any conversation with a guest or offer help.
Everything is in order. — Say this to assure the guest they do not have anything to worry about.
I can show you to your room. — Say this when you are offering to walk the guest to their room.
Check-out/in time is at [time]. — “Check-in time” is the time a guest is allowed to access (get into) their room. “Check-out time” is the time the guest should leave.
If you want to make a guest feel comfortable and they seem okay with making small talk, you can also say things like:
Did you have a pleasant trip? — Say this when the guest arrives at the hotel.
Did you have a good night’s sleep? — Say this after a guest has spent at least one night in the hotel.
Did you have a good day in the city/How did you like the city? — You can say this when the guest first arrives. You can also say this when they check out and come back to the hotel.
How was breakfast this morning? — Say this after the guest had breakfast.
You have to handle a lot of questions and requests.
Learning hotel English is not only about learning the language itself. It is also about being knowledgeable about your hotel or location.
In hotels, guests often make some kind of request. Part of your job is to understand what they ask and respond accordingly (correctly).
A great way to make sure you understand something is to repeat it back in question form.
For example, let’s say someone says, “I’d like a wake-up call at 7.” You can reply, “So you would like me to call you at 7 to wake you up?”
If they say “Yes,” you can say “No problem. I will take care of that for you.” If they say “No,” you can repeat Step 1—that is, repeat back what they said to confirm (ensure the correctness of) what they said.
Other useful phrases (depending on the situation) are:
The best way to get from here to the airport is by taxi. Would you like me to call one for you?
We have a number of museums located nearby. Are you interested in anything in particular?
Our exercise center is located on the second floor. It is free of charge, but you need to present your room key at the entrance.
Could I please see a copy of your passport?
Would you like breakfast in the morning?
What is the best number to reach you?
You will also handle a lot of complaints.
Hotel jobs are usually pleasant. But once in a while, there will be problems and mix-ups.
When this happens, you need to stay calm and polite. Even if you feel stressed, you are expected to resolve problems with a smile.
Depending on the problem, you can say things like:
I am sorry to hear you are not happy with your room. Please let me know what I can do to help make your stay more enjoyable.
I am sorry our concierge (hotel assistant) forgot to give you a wake-up call this morning. Will you accept a voucher for a free meal at our restaurant as an apology?
I am sorry to hear that the noise kept you awake. Would you like to move to another room? I will check the system to see if we have any other rooms ready.
I understand you wanted to use the business center, but it is closed for the day. Would you be willing to use a vacant (empty) suite instead?
I will be happy to let you speak to my manager. Please take a seat and I will get in contact with them.
Fortunately, you will not always have to deal with irate [angry] guests. Sometimes, they simply want to know things like the direction to the nearest train station.
In that case, you can say something like: “When you get out of the hotel, turn left, then left again. You will find the train station on your right. Also, here is a map that you are welcome to take with you.”
Hotel English should be simple and to the point.
As I said earlier, hotel English has its own vocabulary. However, that does not mean you have to use five-dollar words (difficult words) every time.
In fact, it is better if you are straightforward in your communications while still being polite. This works whether you are dealing with native or non-native English speakers. The important thing is, no matter who you are speaking to, you are always clear and helpful.
Once you start using the incredible resources mentioned, you will be on your way to mastering hotel English. Prepare to see your career take off!
And One More Thing...
If you like learning English through movies and online media, you should also check out FluentU. FluentU lets you learn English from popular talk shows, catchy music videos and funny commercials, as you can see here:
The FluentU app and website makes it really easy to watch English videos. There are captions that are interactive. That means you can tap on any word to see an image, definition, and useful examples.
For example, when you tap on the word "searching," you see this:
Learn all the vocabulary in any video with quizzes. Swipe left or right to see more examples for the word you’re learning.
The best part? FluentU remembers the vocabulary that you’re learning. It gives you extra practice with difficult words—and reminds you when it’s time to review what you’ve learned. You have a truly personalized experience.
Start using FluentU on the website with your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or from the Google Play store.