I am often contacted by people from all over the world asking if the Language Lab has English language courses. We do. I’m not surprised by these requests. After all, English is the international language of business. Anyone who wants to rise up the corporate ladder must be able to express herself or himself clearly, in English.
Even in countries considered to be emerging business leaders, such as China, English is an essential tool. According to a 2012 article in Forbes “…more people are currently studying English [in China] than in any other country. An incredible 100,000 native English speakers are currently teaching there.”
An even more recent piece, called Why Fluent English Language is Important for Business, points out that while English “may not be easy to learn,” it’s still been embraced as “the most effective means of gaining access to global commerce and trade.”
Yes, “English may not be easy to learn,” and it’s not easy to master. But if you really want to improve your English language skills, there are many things you can do, although not all are obvious. Of course, taking English language classes is essential, especially when it comes to learning correct grammar. But there are simple activities and places you can turn to on a daily basis, that will also help improve your English, as my short list of tips below suggests.
Tips on Where to Improve English Language Skills
- The Water Cooler: In most offices, it’s the literal water cooler or coffee station where people tend to congregate or hang out. Make it your daily destination. Initiate conversation. And do it on every occasion. English is very idiomatic. It’s through these conversations that many of English’s peculiarities become best understood.
- The TV: Whether you prefer watching an actual TV or a computer screen, watch English language programs. Business programs or the news are usually best.
- The Library (or the Bookstore): Borrow or buy English-language business publications. Don’t just read them quietly to yourself; read them out loud. And when you come across words you don’t know, look them up. Not only will you increase your vocabulary, you’ll improve your comfort level speaking English aloud.
- The Conversation Group: Universities and public libraries often run conversation groups for second language learners of English. For some of you, this may be more comfortable than “the water cooler approach.” Maybe that’s because everyone in a conversation group is in the same boat.
There are many estimates that put the number of native English language speakers at under 10% of the world’s population. Yet, there are some that suggest that as much as three-quarters of the world’s business communication is conducted in English. This disparity might seem rather ironic. But, the fact remains: if you want to gain the competitive edge in your business communication, you need a good command of the English language. And anyone can achieve this goal, even if it means hanging out at the water cooler or coffee station, daily.
If you want help improving your English language communication skills, contact me.