What is Business English?

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Business English is a category of English communication that includes the language skills used at work

These language skills include the English communication used in presentations, negotiations, meetings, small talk, socializing, correspondence, report writing, etc. Business English emphasizes effective communication among international colleagues. Business English is not about being perfect, but it does require a relatively high level of proficiency.

Business English: How good is good enough?

Good business English communication means you do the following things well and with relative ease. You can–

• understand and contextualize what you read
• understand and contextualize what you hear
• write correctly and concisely
• speak fluently and correctly

Good business English requires practice

Good business English speakers can think well in English, and that’s one reason why they are fluent. They make some mistakes, but they are confident. And good speakers have eliminated critical errors and habits that prevent good communication. Good business English is active, not passive. It is a participatory sport, You can’t be shy. You have to get on the field and play!

You can’t fake English at work

You can’t fake business English like you faked grammar in high school, studying the night before the test and passing with a 6 or a 7! At work, your communication skills are on full display with colleagues and clients  every day – every time you open your mouth or write an email. There’s no question; good business English communication is essential for your career success. But how good is good enough? That depends on the job, the sector and the company.

In 2021, some Business English is needed by almost all workers

Yes, business English is for almost every worker. From customer service to the executive suite, almost all positions require some English. But the level required depends on the job and the company. Good enough to get hired  at “Company A” may not even get you a first interview at “Company B.” Some companies want C level speakers, and some companies are fine with B level.

Do you already know your English level? 

We have several ways for you to determine your level. But maybe you already have a pretty accurate idea of where you are on the CEFR scale. Below, you will find descriptions of B and C levels. Which business English level best describes you?

Pre or Low Intermediate Business English Level B1

You are B1 lower intermediate if you can speak and understand a moderate amount of English. You can do pretty well when the topics are familiar and not too abstract. At this stage, you still sometimes need clarification from the people that you are speaking with, but you understand a lot of what you hear and you can usually keep talking, even though you make mistakes.

You notice that other speakers are willing to talk to you and your confidence starts to grow. Your vocabulary has many words, but you still need many more. You cannot understand many common idioms and this sometimes leaves you unable to follow conversations.

It tires you to speak English and you get stuck sometimes. You have to ask for people to repeat or explain. When you write, you may still be translating from your native language. You are uncertain about many grammar points. At this level, you will not qualify for many jobs.

Intermediate Business English Level B2

You are B2 upper intermediate if you can interact with a certain degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular English interactions with English speakers not too difficult. You can be very active in conversations, and sometimes, you even take the lead! Your vocabulary is pretty big, and you understand and can use quite a few idioms.

Your sentence structure has fewer mistakes, and you can speak about and understand reasonably complex subjects. You do not need much help in conversations, but you still tire if you have to speak too long. You are still learning idioms. Writing is easier because you are thinking more in English. Your grammar is improving but you still make mistakes. At this level, you will qualify for many jobs, but you may still be asked to improve.

Advanced Business English Level C1

You are C1 Advanced if you can express yourself fluently without much searching for words. You can use English flexibly and effectively in professional situations. Your writing is quite good with just occasional errors. You can express your ideas and opinions in a precise way and you rarely need assistance from the people you are speaking with.

You are an independent user. You make some errors of idiom but they do not interfere with others understanding what you are saying. You still get a little tired if you have to speak a lot, but you feel (and sound) quite competent. You will qualify for most jobs with C1 English.

Advanced Business English Level C2

You are C2 Near Native when you can speak in a flowing, precise and natural way that is appropriate to the situation. Your written English rarely has errors and people do not notice that you are not a native English writer. You speak very much like a native speaker with a rich vocabulary and full access to idioms.

You can easily lead sophisticated conversations on complex subjects. If your pronunciation sounds native, some people will not even notice that English is not your first language! Your errors are minor and very infrequent.  It is easy for you to use the language and it costs you little or no extra effort. Congratulations! Your English is great and sufficient for any job in any sector!

Did you find your level?

Are you intermediate or advanced, or maybe are a mix of two levels, advanced in some skills and not so great in others?

Now that you have evaluated yourself, do you want a precise analysis of your (or a colleague’s) business English? A professional look at English language strengths and weaknesses?

The English Center Complete Language Profile provides a professional assessment of English abilities

In the past, to get a good analysis of all your 4 primary language skills – reading, writing, listening and speaking –  you had to register, go to a test center, spend hours being tested and then wait for weeks to get your feedback. Those are great tests, but at The English Center, we wanted to create a smart, online approach to complete English testing – something that would give a complete picture with a small time investment and fast results. Read more about The English English Center Complete Language Profile.

Do you already know your level and you’re ready to attend a business English course? Or do you want in-company training?

If you are ready for a course, you can enroll now in a small group business English online course. We have several group courses starting very soon. 

If you prefer private business English training, intensive training or weekly courses, we can get started with a free consultation appointment or a no obligation corporate proposal.

Finally, if you are in HR or L&D, let’s talk. We customize corporate business English courses for all kinds of industries, from pharma to real estate and from logistics to sustainable energy.

+31 20 823 0569

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