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Choosing a Business English Program


When thinking of joining a business English program or bringing one into your company, you might wonder how you can be sure it’s a good program. What selection criteria should you use? These are important considerations when your company wants to fully benefit from its multicultural, internationally trained workforce. To address the distinct features of workplace language training and to make the right choice, I recommend you look for satisfactory answers to the following questions:

Are the teaching materials applicable in your workplace?

English-language training is an enormous industry that primarily prepares students, tourists or business people for study or travel abroad. Textbooks usually cover such topics as writing an essay; ordering food or giving a sales presentation. However, these programs are of limited use to those working in an English-speaking environment. An optimal business English program teaches the vocabulary heard in workplace conversations. Therefore, when selecting an oral language program, check that the exercises cover such interactions as colleagues discussing a technical issue, or negotiating a work plan. For workplace writing, instead of essay preparation, look for a course that builds effective email and report writing skills.

Does the program address workplace-related communication strategies?

Workplace communication is complex. Even with fluent language skills, understanding ‘between the lines’ is challenging. Communication strategies such as finding common ground, active listening, and building rapport are valuable skills for navigating team and client dynamics. A good business English program teaches these subtle, yet powerful, communication skills. Be sure the activities include relevant role-playing activities such as persuading a team member to accept a new idea or overcoming a misunderstanding.

Will the scheduling and location ensure attendance?

A unique feature of language learning is that skills are best internalized in small chunks over an extended period of time. A program that gives participants ample opportunity for review and practice over several months will ensure the most significant learning outcomes. On-site training is ideal to ensure maximum participation and attendance among busy employees

Teaching materials, communication topics and delivery logistics are but three variables that can determine the quality of a workplace English program. Companies that have found the right Business English program will tell you it can make a significant difference in their employees’ engagement and productivity.

Tell us about your personal or company’s experience with a Business English program or ask us a question about ours by leaving a comment below.

Rob Leonituk facilitates English Language Training Courses and Effective Communication Course in the greater Toronto area for Gandy Associates.