We often work with professionals who have spent months – or even years – attempting (unsuccessfully) to learn English from a language app. Others talk about the possibility of spending 6 months in London, immersing themselves in English life and language.
If you fall into either of these categories, we’ve got some bad news: they’re extremely unlikely to give you the business English you need to communicate confidently. Here’s why.
Negotiating a move to London isn’t possible for most professionals
You may have been dreaming for years about spending an extended period in London – imagining yourself walking along the River Thames and engaging with locals. However, it’s time for a reality check.
One central reason this approach isn’t the best way to learn English is that – for the vast majority of business and finance professionals – it isn’t realistic.
That said, even if you did manage to facilitate a move – either by taking time off or by relocating to your London office – you’re not likely to learn the business English you need to help you communicate more effectively at work.
Short-term living in London won’t give you sustainable results
A 6-month immersion will certainly expose you to cultural nuances and help your speaking and writing skills. But our research shows that without continued effort, people lose their new-found confidence after they return to their home country.
Not only do you need the regular practice, but you need ongoing, focused help on the business-specific tasks your everyday work requires. For example, boosting your speaking skills for meetings, conference calls or networking. Or increasing your writing proficiency to speed up the drafting of emails or other documents.
Crash courses aren’t an effective way to learn for the long term
Do you recall ruthlessly cramming your brain with information in preparation for a school or university exam? (We all did it!) How much of that information do you remember now?
Moving to London definitely falls into the ‘cramming for short-term benefit’ category of learning. And, as any teacher will tell you, cramming simply overloads your brain. It’s fine if your aim is to pass an exam. However, if you want to use English effectively, you need quality and consistency in the way you approach your training.
To put it in context, all our English training courses are spread over at least 12 months and 88 hours, as our evidence shows this is the minimum requirement for achieving results.
Used in isolation, language apps don’t boost your confidence or competence
And now for apps.
There’s no shortage of apps – many of them free – that claim to teach English. However, as evidenced by the vast number of our students who haven’t seen any improvement, they’re not effective.
To be clear: there’s certainly a place for interactive, AI-driven tools when learning a language. We use them, and evidence supports this (see a 2015 study by Elevate that found using games and exercises boosts learning effectiveness).
However, used in isolation, language apps simply don’t work for the long term. You need face-to-face sessions with qualified native English speakers to solidify your skills.
What’s the best way to learn English?
So much for how not to do it.
What is the most effective way of learning English in a business context?
The Language Grid’s courses have a 100% success rate helping business and finance professionals communicate effectively in English. We’ve developed our digital platform over 8 years, incorporating tools that make it easy for busy professionals to learn, keep you motivated and hold you accountable. Crucially, you also get face-to-face lessons with qualified mother-tongue speakers.
And we understand that you’ll probably need to rearrange lessons now and then. That’s why we always let you swap times or have a session via video chat or phone – so you get every hour you pay for. With this unique methodology and blended approach, we meet your goals and end the frustrations normally associated with learning English.
Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid
Image: © Roberto De Riccardis