Intensive Business English Courses Online: A Smart Choice?
Brenda de Jong-Pauley, MA
December 15, 2020
Is an intensive online business English course right for you? Is it a smart choice? Well… here in the Netherlands, English is required for almost every career. And for many sectors and levels, the standards are high – strong intermediate to advanced level English.
So the question is not if you will study English, the question is how, where and when. What is the best way to approach improving your business English ability, confidence and performance? Below are 12 points to think about when considering an English intensive.
1. Do you need better business English right away? Are you ready now?
Intensive courses – also called speed courses, crash courses or immersion courses – offer the distinct advantages of speed and compactness. You can do a lot in a short time. Intensive courses are especially good for achieving specific goals, such as preparing for a job interview, career transition, an important presentation or an exam. These fast track courses are also popular with busy, goal oriented folks who want to accomplish a lot fast. If you want to get it “done and dusted,” intensives are the way to go.
2. Is intensive, speed learning better?
In an intensive course, the information and experiences occur in rapid succession, with very short pauses in between. And because of the way our brains function, this intense repetition facilitates information registration, storage and retrieval. That means the words, collocations, grammar structures and sounds will be there when we need them. Memories get connected (they become “webby”) in our brains and this gives them staying power and makes them easier to access later. In an intensive course, our senses are bombarded with English data: sounds, sights, explanations, actions and structures which all become connected. These connections support retention.
3. Where the heck did I put those English words?
Our memories are very much like our closets, desks and drawers. Things that we use everyday are kept closeby, right? And we can almost always find those things: keys, wallets, phones… these ssentials get quality storage in our brain space. But things that we do not often need get “stored away” – just like an old coat or a DVD player we keep “just in case maybe we want it someday.” Things we do not often use get put somewhere that we seldom visit and soon, we do not remember where that item is. We cannot access it anymore.
Yes, just like that old coat, unused English language memories, vocabulary and grammar structures can begin to become threadbare, fade, and eventually disappear. The words, phrases and structures we learned are just not there when we need them. We cannot access them in a fluent manner. That is why we um, hesitate and um… look for… um… words.
4. Stand and deliver, in English.
In an intensive course, you will be expected to talk a lot. Target language production (speaking and writing) are key to retention and mastery. Receptive learning (reading and listening) are of course essential, but it is when you produce a language that you really begin to make it your own…. when you begin to make English a tool that you can use to achieve your goals!
5. Building English confidence is important.
With an intensive course, you can avoid this sad outcome – “I went to class, but now I’ve forgotten everything.” The failure to retain and retrieve the language we worked so hard to learn diminishes our self confidence and causes frustration plus a generally negative attitude toward speaking English. These feelings of failure damage language performance because anxiety interferes with recollection (memory). Linguists describe this as an “affective filter.” But a speed course creates the confidence that comes from hours of concentrated practice. You have proven your ability to yourself!
So if building confidence is “a big deal” for you (as it is for most people), then the answer to the question – “Is an intensive online English course the right choice for me?” – is probably yes!
6. “Get down to business” with your brain.
Take off the training wheels (your first language) and force your brain to focus with hours of English. With this immersion effect, your brain is forced to process, store, find and deliver all the English you have learned. Intensive courses mean that you do not switch to your first language every few minutes. You stay in the flow of English. Do it long enough and your brain will stop translating and accept that it must perform in English. The English will become “top of mind.” Not that it will be stronger than your native language. That will not happen. But it can become robust and serviceable. With enough training, you may become “near-native.” Voila! Second language success!
7. “Rome was not built in a day.”
This popular English idiom reminds us that achievement takes time. Set reasonable expectations for yourself. You are not going to become fluent in one week. Sorry. Languages are like big countries. There is so much to explore, experience and catalog. So be prepared to spend some time and do some work to achieve your goals. Consider a one, two or three week intensive course for a big improvement.
8. Celebrate incremental English improvement.
Pat yourself on the back for your progress. Take pride in your accomplishments and remember that you do not have to be flawless tomorrow. You just have to be better. If you are improving every day, you are doing great and you will get there! Language is a journey, not a destination.
9. Go live online with your intensive English program.
Our private intensive English and business English courses are currently offered online and – when current regulations are lifted – in great classrooms in Amsterdam, Amstelveen & Den Haag, and other locations upon request. All locations are very close to public transport and some are really lovely, such as our historic canal house right by Amsterdam Central Station.
10. “Keep it small” with a private or small group business English intensive course.
English Center intensive courses are offered as private and small group training. 1:1 private training is of course the “gold standard” of language education and allows complete customization and total attention on you, but small group business courses offer the chance to interact with all kinds of people, which can be helpful in tuning your ear to other accents. Both options are available and both can be delivered in dynamic, interactive online classrooms. In our small, virtual classrooms get the attention you deserve!
11. “Use it or lose it.” How to maintain business English gains when the intensive course is over.
In order to retain the improved level and good habits that you have achieved during your intensive course, you must continue training. If you are using your English a lot every day at work, you will probably be fine. But if there is no immediate need to speak English when the course finishes – no demand on your shiny new English brain – you must create demand and practice opportunities. Remember, if your brain thinks the English language is just like that old coat that you will probably never wear again, it will store your English in progressively deeper files until one day, it has all just faded away.
So after your intensive, be sure to continue with weekly training or online conversation courses or our language app or a meetup group. Something to keep your mental muscles fit and your beautiful English word treasure shiny and right at your fingertips when you need it.
12. So… is an intensive online business English course right for you?
We are happy to help you answer that question by getting to know you in a free, no-obligation consultation appointment with one of our top native-speaker English teachers. Request your free appointment now.
Maybe you are interested in a course but you are not sure if you want a private or a group intensive course. Please request a FREE first appointment. We will do our best to answer your questions and help you select an optimal English study plan.
Did you know that second language learning can actually make you smarter? That it is good for your brain? Read more about that at Knowable.
Do you want to sound better when you speak English? To sound more British or American? Read more about our 1:1 private accent training.
Call +31 20 823 0569 to discuss private and group courses online. In-company training is online due to Covid, but we hope to be back at corporate locations soon.
Finally, we hope that we have helped you answer the question, “Is an intensive online English course right for you?” Let us know if this article was helpful and… Stay healthy!