Business English courses: everything you need to know in 2023
Now more than ever, proficiency in English is highly important and highly-sought after in the global work environment.
English is spoken by around a quarter of the world’s population, and as stated in the British Council’s ‘English Effect’ report, as the language of communications, science, IT, business, entertainment and diplomacy, it has increasingly become the operating system for the global conversation.
Business English differs from general English, so even if you know how to have a reasonably fluent conversation with an English-speaking friend, it’s important to learn specific terms that will help you succeed in a business environment.
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What is a Business English course?
There are different types of English language courses that you can take in order to enhance your English language skills. Of course, there are many courses which teach so-called 'general' English, but Business English is an example of English for a Specific Purpose, which refers to teaching people specialist vocabulary and skills for their specific needs.
Business English programmes such as Kings' English Plus Business and Leadership, and English Plus Business and Finance courses provide specialist tuition to students who would like to focus on vocabulary that is used in a business context. The goal of any Business English course is to allow students to effectively communicate with others in business scenarios, whether that communication is in correspondence, face to face meetings, or online.
As well as developing specialised business vocabulary and language for use in international business environments, you might also learn how to do business-related tasks such as business writing and reports, how to deliver effective presentations, put forth opinions and conduct meetings. Other aspects of learning Business English or professional English can include writing letters and emails, applying for roles and understanding job profiles. Some can also prepare you for life in a corporate, office environment.
At Kings, you’ll work on real-world case studies and role-play, so your English skills always have a practical focus.
Why is English important for business?
English has become the most widely used language in the world of trade and commerce over the past decades. As the most dominant language in the business world — no matter what the industry — if you work for a company or organisation with an international element, it is likely that there will be a need for English skills.
Below are just a few of the reasons why it's so important to have English proficiency if you work, or would like to work, in business.
Reason #1: A growing number of global firms are using as English their main language.
Even if they are based in non-English speaking countries like France or Japan, an increasing number of international firms — including Nokia, SAP, Heinkeken, Samsung and Renault — are adopting English as a common company language. Due to the fact most big corporations have offices all over the world, there is a need for a single language to be used in meetings and within internal communications in general.
Reason #2: English is a requirement for more jobs in more countries than ever before.
In decades gone by, English was generally only a skill required by senior managers in international companies. Today however, with so many companies having their teams, including technical support or customer service teams, spread across several countries, there is an increased need for English ability at all levels and within all functions.
Reason #3: The big business growth areas of Science and Technology require English.
Currently, the science and technology sectors undoubtedly hold the biggest opportunities for growth when it comes to business. Both areas have English as their main lingua franca, which means it is doubly important to have a good knowledge of English.
Reason #4: Business success relies on good communication.
As well as accurate comprehension, knowing how to put a point across in the right way is essential, particularly when it comes to skills such as negotiating — whether you are doing this within emails or verbally. Even if you have a good level of general English, learning Business English will give you the chance to demonstrate a wider professional vocabulary, which will not only make your communication more successful, but will also be impressive and confidence-inspiring to future partners and collaborators.
Success is business also often goes hand in hand with networking and good overall communication skills. Having general English ability to converse with a whole range of people, from colleagues and managers and potential clients and partners, on a whole range of topics (including global news, politics, entertainment and popular culture, for example) can also be a huge advantage in business.
Tips for choosing a Business English course
There are a huge range of Business English courses available, so choosing the best one for you can be a daunting task. Below are some tips on how to make sure you select the best programme for your needs and aims.
Tip #1: Make a list of the areas that you want to study.
This is important because there are many courses to choose from, and the course content can vary a lot. Business English is very wide, so you really need to know exactly what you’re looking for in a course and any specific business-related topics that you want to cover.
Some courses give a general overview and build a few key areas, with options to take extra units that focus on more specialist areas. Equally, if you have a particularly unique Business focus, it's always worth speaking to prospective schools to see if they can cater for your bespoke needs — most likely through a one-to-one programme, or one-to-one add-on to a main Business English course.
Tip #2: Establish whether you need certification.
If your employer has stated that you need a specific qualification, such as TOEIC, or the Cambridge English business qualifications (Business Preliminary, Business Vantage or Business Higher) it's important to find out whether your chosen course will prepare you for this.
Equally, if you need to show proof of your final level (whether CEFR or other) after you have completed your language training, you will need to check that your chosen school or college can provide this.
Bear in mind that some schools, such as Kings, offer a 'Progress Guarantee' for some courses, which means if you have a specific level to meet, we'll guarantee you will reach the level we have agreed with you, and if you don’t — provided you have attended all classes and completed all assignments — you can study for free until you do.
Tip #3: Be sure your school can accommodate your needs based on your level.
it is sometimes the case that Business English programmes require you to have a minimum language level (CEFR level or other) — usually intermediate or in some cases upper intermediate — in order for you to join.
This can sometimes be more flexible if you are arranging bespoke one-to-one tuition, but it may be that you consider completing a general English programme first if you're a beginner or pre-intermediate learner.
Tip #4: Consider where you would like to study.
Business English programmes are offered in English-speaking countries all over the world, including the US and the UK.
Once you have established the type of course that you are looking for, and the main aim of completing it, you can then start looking into schools that offer it.
Your choice of location may of course come down to preference for city/coast, as well as affordability, but one thing to consider is that if you are more likely to encounter American English in your professional life, a school in the US may be a good option. Equally, if British English is more prevalent in your sector, it's probably better to find a provider in the United Kingdom.
Of course, in the world of today — particularly in the wake of the Covid -19 pandemic — online courses and distance learning are also widely available. Live online classes are still a feature of many programmes, if not completely, then as part of a blended approach.
Whatever provider you choose, it's always wise to check that the school is accredited by relevant bodies such as the British Council, this way you can be sure of quality standards.
Tip #5: Think about hours per week and overall length.
There are a wide range of Business English programmes available, some of which are more intensive courses than others. It's important to think about how many class hours per week you will be looking to study — particularly if you need to meet visa requirements — and of course how long roughly you are aiming to study for.
Tip #6: Think about class size and your classmates.
As well as the length of your programme and intensity of your course, it is important to give thought to class sizes, and your potential class mates.
If you are planning on taking a group course, you may feel that you may make more progress in a small group, so make sure that your prospective school can give you assurances on the maximum class size.
If it is important to you that you are learning alongside students who will be just as motivated as you and ideally like-minded, it's useful to ask your prospective school about their student cohort. If you are especially keen to learn with people of your own age, there are sometimes classes offered for a specific age group (e.g for young professionals aged 25+).
The Best Business English Courses for 2023
Here is a selection of the Business English focused programmes that we currently offer at Kings.
Business English Course #1: English Plus Business and Leadership
- Available in: Boston
- Start dates: 3 January, 6 February, 6 March, 3 April, 1 May, 5 June, 3 July, 31 July, 5 September, 2 October, 6 November 2023
- Entry level: Kings Level 4 (Lower intermediate level)
- Age: 16+
- Duration: 2- 4 weeks
- Class size: Maximum 15
- Lessons per week: 28 lessons per week total (21 hours)
Through the English Plus Business and Leadership course, you'll develop English skills for business and gain valuable real-life experience. The program is designed to set you up to be a future business leader, giving you the language skills you need and enabling you to get up close to US small-business and start-up culture with an educational visit.
“ At Kings Boston you can participate in entrepreneurship class, which includes specialized vocabulary in relation to the start-up world, case studies and knowing some local business in relation with this topic. ". Katherine, from Colombia, took the English Plus Business and Leadership course at Kings Boston
Business English Course #2: English Plus Business, Marketing and Finance
- Available in: London
- Start dates: Every Monday
- Entry level: Kings Level 4 (Lower intermediate level)
- Age: 16+
- Duration: Minimum 2 weeks
- Class size: Maximum 14
- Lessons per week: 28 lessons per week total (21 hours)
With this course you’ll develop specialised language and skills for business and finance, working on real-life case studies, so your English skills always have a practical focus. You’ll visit leading finance institutions such as the Bank of England, Lloyds of London and the London Metal Exchange and will also have the opportunity to prepare for the Cambridge BEC examinations through additional one-to-one lessons.
“ I am studying Economics in Brazil so I thought this course would be the best one. We work in groups a lot and the class is not very big so we can interact pretty well with the other students and I like that a lot." Lucas, from Brazil, took the English Plus Business and Finance course at Kings London
Ready to take a Business English course?
At Kings, it is possible to enrol in a Business English focused course all year round, whether you want to study with us in the UK (London) or the USA (Boston).
We hope that this article has helped you understand more about the different types of Business English courses available, who they are suitable for, and the things to consider before choosing a provider.
If you’re ready to book, you can do so via the Kings Booking portal.
If you would like receive more detailed information about the Kings Business English courses, please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q1. What is a Business English class?
Business English programmes are designed to provide specialist tuition to students who would like to focus on vocabulary that is used in a business environment.
The aim of any Business English course is to allow students to effectively communicate with others in business scenarios, whether that communication is in correspondence, face to face meetings, or online.
Q2. What does Business English consist of?
Business English is the type of English used in business contexts, such as international trade, commerce, finance, insurance, and many other sectors.
Business English lessons aim to cover a range of skills that are found in everyday work scenarios. The vocabulary and dialogue will be focused on scenarios such as negotiating deals and giving presentations.
Q3. What is the difference between English and Business English?
'General' English focuses more on English for everyday conversations in a range of contexts. Business English is far more specific — it is applied in a more professional context and focuses on language used across a range of business-related topics by people in business environments.
Q4. Who learns Business English?
Business English is generally required by people either already working in business and looking to improve or expand the professional opportunities open to them, or those who are preparing for a career in business.
By studying Business English you can improve your overall English language ability while targeting areas that will help you achieve your goals at work, whether that is looking for a promotion, working on a more international level, or just feeling more confident in your role.
Q5. Will I learn English if I choose a Business English course?
Yes. Business English is more specific than general English, but it is all the same language overall. You will still learn and make use of everyday phrases on a Business English course, just alongside the more specialist vocabulary and functions associated with business.
Q6. What are the pre-requisites for Business English?
Sometimes there will be a minimum language level requirement (intermediate or above), but there is generally no need to be in employment or already have experience within the world of business.
Q7. Is Business English hard?
If you are not already familiar with business environments, it may be that getting to grips with Business English vocabulary and skills might take longer than for those who are, but it is no harder than more general forms of the language overall.
Q8. What are the benefits of learning Business English?
There are lots of benefits to learning Business English, including enhanced prospects for career progression and the opportunity to work in different places around the world. According to Harvard Business Review, English is now the medium of global business communication therefore becoming proficient in it has never been more important.