For many people around the world, learning English can be a huge career boost. In fact, in many industries, this is required to make it to a senior position. As such, it’s vital to know how to choose the right business English course.
Of course, learning a language is a big investment, in both time and money. When you choose any kind of language course, you want to be confident that you’re getting the most benefit from it.
A huge part of this is choosing the right course for your industry, and your own specific goals. Different industries have their own specific vocabularies, as well as different norms when it comes to how people communicate.
Today, we’re going to cover everything you should consider when choosing a business English course. But first, let’s start with the basics.
What is a Business English Course?
Business English is a broad term. Different businesses communicate differently, depending on their location, industry and company culture. For example, the ways colleagues interact in the finance industry may be a lot more formal than in the IT sector.
Business English courses allow students to learn the core skills they need to communicate properly in person, presentations, emails, phone calls and letters. You’ll also learn how to work with both clients and colleagues in English.
However, English courses can vary widely, in both quality and content.
With that in mind, here are six things you should keep in mind when choosing a course.
1. Specialist Business Language
The first thing to consider is whether you’ll need to learn any specialist language in your industry. For example, in Engineering and other technical fields, you’ll need to be able to use very specific vocabulary to communicate effectively.
You’ll also need very specialist English skills for healthcare, as well as tips for your OET exam.
In other fields, it’s not so much vocabulary that you need to worry about, as using an appropriate tone. For example, in some industries, like finance, law or consulting, there may be very strict expectations about how you communicate with clients and colleagues.
You should look for a business English course with extensive focus on your industry. Specifically, look for reviews from past pupils who work in your niche.
2. Look for Links to Industry
Links to industry are also important. After all, a business English course is supposed to improve your career prospects. Obviously, one way to do this is improving your language skills.
Beyond this, many business English courses also offer placements in relevant businesses. Not only does this give you a chance to practice your business English skills, you’ll also get to sharpen your hard skills and gain relevant work experience.
Learners at all stages of their careers should seek out English courses with strong industry links to local companies.
Executive immersion is another popular option for improving your language skills in an industrial setting.
3. Accredited Business English Courses
You’ll also want to choose a reputable language school. If a course has accreditation, it means that it is backed up by an official authority, exam board, or university. This shows that a business English course is formally recognised.
This is important if you would like an official qualification in business English, which may be a requirement for certain job roles.
For other learners, a formal qualification may be less important than simply practicing your English skills, and gaining language immersion experience in an industrial setting.
4. Help Developing Your Soft Skills
What you learn outside the classroom is often just as important as the formal curriculum. In business, soft skills are crucial. This can mean how you build relationships, or awareness of the culture you’re working in.
The social side of any business English course is essential. Look for a course which offers social events, cultural learning, and opportunities to network with other language learners. Ideally, you’ll also want to gain knowledge of local culture, customs and traditions.
5. Online vs Classroom Learning
These days, online professional English courses are a strong option. With improved technology online learning has become more and more common, and more popular with learners and employers alike.
Most online English courses combine video calls with other digital learning tools, like games, presentations and practice exercises. This can be an excellent option for students who don’t have the time or resources to travel to a physical classroom.
6. One-to-One vs Group Learning
You’ll also want to consider whether a course is offered in a one-to-one or group learning format. It’s not that one is better than the other. Rather, different kinds of learning suit different students and their goals.
One-to-one courses are popular with students who have very specific interests and needs, or who need extensive feedback from instructors. The downside is that they are typically more expensive than group classes.
Group learning also offers a number of benefits, including more time dedicated to team projects, and practicing your business English skills with other students.
How to Choose a Business English Course
As you can tell, there are a number of things to keep in mind when choosing a business English course. The first thing to think about is what you actually want to achieve. Do you need a formal qualification, or do you simply want to sharpen your communications skills?
Beyond this, you’ll need to think about whether you need to learn specialist skills for your specific industry, or if there are opportunities to gain additional work experience in the process.
Finally, you should consider how the course itself will be delivered, and any opportunities you’ll have to work on your soft skills, like team work or cultural awareness.
At International House Belfast, we’re experts on all kinds of language learning. See our courses page to find out more.