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Effective Business English Doesn't Mean Perfect Grammar
18 October, 2018
Copyright Roberto De Riccardis grammar v3

Italians have been learning English for years, with hours spent pouring over textbooks to differentiate the past simple from the present perfect.

Yet there’s a common theme when we speak to business and finance professionals – even with all these ESL classes under their belt, they still find themselves apologizing for their English when participating in a conference call, writing an email or conducting a meeting, (especially when comparing themselves to German, Dutch or Scandinavian counterparts).

This frustration – that their English is holding them back from peak performance – is the starting point for hundreds of business people who work with The Language Grid. And here’s what we always say:

“You need to stop studying and start speaking.”

You need to end your grammar fixation to improve your English and speak effectively. Here are 3 reasons why.


1. Success comes from focusing on the right business outcome – not the right verb conjugation

There’s a big difference between perfection and effectiveness. And too often, people focus on perfection to the detriment of effectiveness.

We see many students who spend valuable time framing a sentence in their head before speaking. And while it’s always good to think before you speak, typically this perfectionist approach comes at a cost. Either it disrupts the discussion’s flow because everyone is waiting for you to get the words out, or you miss the opportunity to convey your point because the conversation has moved on by the time you’re ready to talk.

It’s important that you approach using English with the right mindset – if you’ve maximized the opportunity of the specific scenario, then you’ve succeeded. It doesn’t matter whether you used the wrong verb tense so long as everyone understands your point


2. Cultural understanding has a profound impact

In business, the image you project is linked to your cultural understanding. For example, the Italian instinct is toward formality, but American and English businesspeople are likely to start a conversation with a handshake and, “Hi, I’m John.”

Being able to interact in a culturally astute way helps you build vital rapport, which can more than compensate for any grammatical errors you make.

This is why we only have mother-tongue trainers raised in Anglophone countries – so you get English instruction that includes a variety of cultural nuances. Our dedicated social network, The Grid, also helps – because it gives students an informal way to share experiences and ask questions that boost everyone’s cultural knowledge.


3. Confidence is crucial

When you show you know what you’re doing, people want to work with you. It’s all about perception. If you speak confidently, you give that vital perception of competence.

Most Italians have a better knowledge of English grammar than native English speakers, but that knowledge often doesn’t translate to confident use of English in business scenarios. Once you have the confidence to take an incorrect conjugation or phrasing in your stride, you free up your mental energy to focus on the business outcome. Even if you make mistakes, you still show your capabilities in the best light.

Key to building confidence is being able to measure success. With The Language Grid, you have a little assessment each month, marked in real time, so you can benchmark yourself for practical outcomes. Having tangible proof of your progress makes a big difference when it comes to confidently using English in real-life scenarios.

It’s time to bridge the gap between learning and applying English

Our courses combine proprietary research with extensive expertise in the psychology of learning – and we have a 100% success rate helping business and finance professionals communicate effectively in English. Using our unique methodology, we guarantee you’ll meet your goals while ending the frustrations normally associated with ESL classes.

Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid 

Learn more about how we help you move beyond grammar to effective use of business English.

Image: © Roberto De Riccardis

Companies we've helped
Deloitte Consulting Italy
Triberti, Colombo & Associati
SEA Milano
Ferrovie dello Stato