Approximately 25% of all jobs around the world involve interaction with people in other countries, and, of these, two thirds require English. Any employee who does not take this seriously is potentially hindering both their job opportunities and their career prospects.

Not only is English the native language in over sixty countries, it is increasingly regarded as the official second language elsewhere – and as a consequence, some global corporations have officially adopted English as the language of everyday communication (ibid.)

A question that sometimes arises in people’s minds is: what is the difference between business English and general English? At the most fundamental level, and perhaps most obviously, learning ‘business English’ involves learning words and phrases that may arise whenever you are engaged in business. Perhaps a little less obvious is the need to be able to recognize and use the different meanings that words may have in a business context. So, for example, while ‘outstanding’ normally means ‘exceptionally good’, it is important to be aware that it can also mean ‘not yet paid,’ or ‘not yet dealt with’.

But learning business English involves a great deal more than simply expanding your vocabulary. Business etiquette is fundamental to the whole enterprise. This includes knowing how to communicate not only effectively but also appropriately in a variety of situations: e.g. on the phone, in formal written communications (incl. the correct formatting of numbers, addresses and abbreviations), when drafting official documents (incl. the correct layout of graphs and charts) and also how to participate in business meetings.

Participating in formal training enables you to make mistakes and to hone your skills without the pressure of knowing that your performance may immediately affect the prospects and reputation of your company. It naturally also enables you to reassure your employer regarding your level of competence in business English via the results of any tests you may pass and any qualifications you may gain.

At the end of the day both you and your company both benefit enormously.

Did you notice that the word ‘enterprise’ was used in its non-business-related sense in this post? Whereas in business it may mean ‘company,’ in general English (and here) it simply means ‘activity’.