Business English vs. General English


In the modern globalized world English has become the “language of business”. Hence, the term “business English” was developed to describe the English that is used strictly for business purposes. Business English became a subject to be taught for the first time in the 60´s. Since then, the need for business English has vastly increased due to factors such as the development of technology, new powerhouse economies, new markets etc. Hence, business English obviously shares a number of similarities with general English but of the vocabulary is different. One of the biggest differences between business and general English is the method of teaching and the targeted audience. Monica Sim from the University of Oradea states that teaching business English means saying goodbye to crowded classrooms filled with unmotivated students. Instead, she points out, business English teaching is highly valued by highly motivated, intelligent professionals, who want to increase their business skills especially in the international environment.
So what does teaching business English mean exactly? Sim points out that business English teaching can include all the following aspects: technical or academic terminology, taking notes, making presentations. All in all, the main aim of business English is to meet student´s specific expectations and needs. Business English learners are never complete beginners, since they need to have a sound understanding of general English vocabulary in order to develop their skills for business purposes.
In practice there are differences in general and in business English vocabulary. The business English teaching channel EngVid, which can be found in Youtube, provides a short video lecture about these differences. In the video, the teacher gives a few practical examples of how some general English words differ from business English expressions and how by making these changes one can improve their English to become more professional. For example the teacher states that instead of using the word “need something” one should use “require something” instead. In addition, instead of saying “I need to make sure” one should say “I need to ensure”. Thus, with these sorts of changes business professionals can perfect their English to be more business-like and maybe increase the profit of the company. Finally, Sim points out that companies should offer business English classes to their employees, especially to those who work with international clients and sales. When the employees use fluent and accurate business English vocabulary, the credibility of the company also increases. Hence, a real win-win situation!


Aspects of Business English





Written by Maria Seppa, Study visitor at TermCoord and master student in the University of Luxembourg