How is teaching business English different from general English?

Teaching business English differs from general English instruction in its specific focus and application. While general English covers everyday communication and a broad spectrum of vocabulary and grammar, business English is tailored to meet the needs of the corporate world. It emphasizes language skills needed in professional settings, such as writing business emails, drafting proposals, giving presentations, and conducting meetings. The rise of English as the lingua franca in global trade and industry has fueled the demand for business English, which is designed to facilitate effective communication in various business contexts. The key distinction lies in the practical application of English in business environments, where the emphasis is on language use for specific commercial tasks and professional interactions.

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Business English classes

What is the difference between business English and general English?

Business English resources

Business English classes

Business English falls under the category of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) and caters to professionals needing to use English in their work environment. These courses can cover a variety of areas, including:

  • writing emails
  • giving presentations
  • taking minutes
  • taking notes
  • preparing reports
  • negotiating
  • making sales.

Business English courses can accommodate employees from all ranks within a company, from front-desk receptionists and sales teams to senior managers and executives. The classes may be conducted on the company premises during or outside of regular working hours, or at external language centers during evenings or weekends. The class format can range from group lessons to one-on-one tuition.

Also read: What is English for Specific Purposes?

What is the difference between business English and general English?

While business English shares many linguistic components with general English, it leans towards a more formal tone and often includes terminology specific to the business field of the students. Real-life business scenarios such as telephone conversations, email correspondence, or dealing with presentations and meetings frequently serve as practical contexts for language practice. Business English is often taught at an advanced level, and students are typically expected to have mastered the basics of general English beforehand.

Compared to general English lessons, business English classes are often more rigorously structured, with less emphasis on games and light-hearted activities. Given that the students are professionals seeking to improve skills that can directly benefit their careers, they are typically very dedicated to their studies and eager to progress quickly. Consequently, students in business English courses are generally cooperative and easy to manage.

Business English resources

Given that business English lessons often relate closely to the students' professional tasks, you can often source relevant materials directly from the company you are teaching. Students can be encouraged to bring in job-specific materials like company reports, brochures, PowerPoint presentations, and business emails for classroom use. A quick internet search will also yield a plethora of business English resources from various providers. Some of our recommended sources include:

The Bloomberg Youtube channel

This is a great resource for business English lessons as it contains thousands of videos covering every conceivable field in the world of business.

The Tim Ferriss Show podcast

With over 1.5 million subscribers, the Tim Ferriss Show is widely regarded as one of the top business podcasts available.

Market Leader

This coursebook from Pearson/Longman is a useful resource as it is entirely focused on business English topics. It comes with some useful authentic materials and a number of case studies for you to utilize.

Business Builder

Another coursebook dedicated to business English that can add some interesting angles to your lessons. Used in conjunction with other authentic materials, coursebooks can be highly effective within business English settings.

Take a look at all our specialized TESOL course options, including courses dedicated to teaching business English.