Don’t Just Learn Business English
This post is a transcript of a video on my YouTube channel.
Studying English? Here’s the transcript as a lesson to study on LingQ.
So many people I know listen to my videos and podcast to improve their English. English is, whether we like it or not, the most widely used international language. So there is a need to learn English for work. This is particularly true of immigrants to say Canada, the US, UK, Australia, English-speaking countries who have a need to work in the mainstream economy, therefore to use English or, in the case of Canada, French in the province of Quebec.
If you Google “professional English”, “business English” or “workplace English”, there are special programs courses that are offered to help people improve their English for work, but I have some general sort of thoughts on this. My only view is that to work in English, the technical jargon, the technical vocabulary that you need is rather limited and can be learned quite easily.
What I would do if I were say, having to work in German, let’s say, or Spanish, Chinese or Russian, then I would find, documents, reports, things of that nature, which have the vocabulary, the technical vocabulary that relates to my area of professional expertise. I would read them and if I could find podcasts on these subjects, I would listen to them. I would save the words and phrases that I need, essentially using something like LingQ. I would bring them into LingQ and then work them to get that jargon, that turn of phrase, the technical terms that I need. That’s the easy part. If you work in an office or you’re interacting with customers or suppliers, or you’re dealing with people in a working environment, you are dealing with them socially. You’re dealing with them socially while at work, you’re dealing with them in many situations socially after work. You have to connect with them culturally and socially, that’s more difficult.
I always say the professional English, the business English, that’s the easy part. Work on improving your social English. Fortunately today there’s an abundance of sitcoms and on YouTube on Netflix. There are different ways we can access these to get at the phrasing that is being used. If we can get ourselves to a stage where we actually get the jokes, even the fact that we watch some of the popular TV programs or see the most recent movies gives us a subject of discussion that we can share with our colleagues at work. Also we can acquire the vocabulary and get a sense of the culture to the extent that these sitcoms reflect how people actually live. It’s a somewhat distorted impression. Nevertheless, I find when I watch a sitcom I have a feeling that I’m participating in the life of these people.
So we have to work, even in the workplace, on our social English as well as our professional English. Now when it comes to sales presentations or making a presentation of any kind first of all, you want to study people who are effective at doing this. There is an abundance of podcasts on topics from marketing to technical issues to Bitcoin. There’s podcasts on everything. So I would definitely recommend availing yourself of podcasts.
If you Google for how to make a presentation, you will get lots of tips. My suggestion is in any presentation I have made, I use the presentation techniques of the ancient Greeks and Romans, the rhetorical conventions. You can Google “rhetoric” and you will see that they have a certain style. You have to begin by making people like you, in a way, and establishing your credentials. Then you tell a story and then you can present some counter-arguments to your story. Then you want to finish with an emotional appeal. I’ve summarized it very quickly, but I would definitely recommend that you do some research into how to present things effectively.
There are a number of conflicting theories of how to present effectively, but these are techniques that you should have because if you have a technique that you’re using for how you are going to present, how you’re going to make yourself appear credible, how you’re going to lead the audience one way and then lead them another way and then conclude in some other way then you have the feeling that you are in control. That is a very powerful feeling when you are trying to persuade people of something.
So my advice in summary is by all means find technical documents, articles, material, books, podcasts that you can access in order to get the technical jargon and phraseology that you need. Or for that matter, if you have to write papers, there are forms or structures that should be used in presenting your dissertation or whatever it might be, but then make sure you put enough effort into the social cultural language so that you can be comfortable with your colleagues at work, whether at work or after work.
There are any number of ways you can do that because nowadays there is just so much material available on the internet. Even if you don’t live in say an English-speaking country, you can access that environment through Netflix, YouTube, and so on. Finally, if you are in the situation where you have to make sales presentations, doing a little bit of research on effective speechmaking and rhetoric is helpful.