From closing deals to developing partnerships and expanding market share, successful cross-border business involves hundreds of interactions in English.
However, people often aren’t as effective as they could be with business English – because they’re stuck in old ways of studying and using it.
Change your thinking in 2 key ways, and you’ll start seeing better results in your everyday working life.
1. Studying doesn’t boost your effectiveness – speaking does
This is a simplification of how the brain works, but your mother-tongue language lives in the right side of your brain. When you learn a new language, it goes into the left side. To communicate confidently with less effort, you need to move English from the left to the right side.
To do that, you need to stop studying and start speaking. That means ending your fixation on grammar and memorization. Instead, train your brain to find English words and phrases without stopping to think or translate.
The methodology in our business English training courses achieves this with:
- Repetition – repeating drills and word formations helps embed English in your brain (compared with practicing general conversation)
- Practicing with a stopwatch and filming you – the added pressure activates the cognition required to use English actively (compared with memorizing vocabulary, which is more passive)
- Making you speak and present without images or text to help – your brain has to work harder because it doesn’t have access to prompts
2. Think of writing/speaking English like an investment decision
Do a cost/benefit analysis.
The right business English training – using a methodology based on the principles above – can help you become a better speaker, presenter, writer and negotiator. But will you reach the level of effectiveness you need for every situation?
Often, the outcome of the cost/benefit analysis is that you’re better off using your mother tongue and having a native English editor, translator or interpreter.
Consider these statistics, which are based on 10+ years of working with business and finance professionals:
- 60 hours – Approximately how long it takes a non-English speaker to prepare a well-written speech and accompanying slide deck. It generally also involves 3-4 other team members in the process
- 10 hours – Approximately how long it takes a mother-tongue speaker to complete the same task
How much is an hour of your time worth? Multiply that by 60. Now factor in the combined hourly cost of the 3-4 team members you involved in the process.
A mother-tongue speaker with business/finance expertise will cost you a tiny fraction of that. In fact, it’s generally a no-brainer to have one write the speech and deck for you.
The same principle applies to something like presenting. You can spend years learning how to present in English. But if you’re still not confident, you may be better off speaking in your native language and having an interpreter. After all, the opportunity cost of a badly spoken (and less engaging) speech is much higher than the actual cost of the interpreter.
How can you use business English to achieve your business goals.
- Get focused English training for yourself/your team?
- Use an interpreter at a presentation or meeting?
- Have a native speaker write, edit or translate emails for you?
- Get a native speaker to take notes in English-language calls and webinars?
Let us help you answer those questions – based on your goals and what will deliver the best return on your investment.
Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid