English Teacher Article Business English Online

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The quality of Business English sites varies enormously, from the woeful to the highly professional, though most of the latter are sites offering courses. When it comes to materials online, the situation is not perticularly good. As with many areas of ESP (English for Special Purposes), there are many cases where the materials have been designed by ESL teachers and materials makers with no specialised knowledge of the area. When ESL Business English materials first started being developed, many suffered from only having a superficial gloss of their subject; they practised virtually the same things, with a sprinkling of words related to the subject. With use of authentic texts and a growing knowledge of the subject, things have changed and improved considerably.

The number one site in Google for Business English at the moment is Business English Exercises and Quizzes, though the materials on offer here are, in many cases, irrelevant or only have a gloss of business English usage. While it is useful for a business person to know the names of parts of the body in English, exercises of this type won't help them much at work. By and large, the exercises here are fairly standard old school examples of a grammar-based syllabus, with very little to do with business.

Linguarama has an online magazine, Postscript, which offers practice in Business English. Here, the focus is always on language that might be used in a business context, though it doesn't seem very specialised.

In general, this seems to me an area of ESP that is currently not very well served on the internet.

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4 Comments

Hi,

You are right, most so-called "Business English" materials lack authenticy. But then again, what do you expect from if EFL teachers or any teachers of that matter claim to have created business English courses when the authors never have had any real experiences in running a business? The next question is: Do you need a Business English course or a Business English book to do business in English? My answer is no: With the Internet it is possible to tap into a great variety of authentic business resources which means, in addtion to being exposed to business English vocabulary, I also learn useful information. That something you will rarely find in any Business English course book - the vast majority of those materials are artificial and often outright dull.
Also, there is no such thing as "business English" because anything can be "business." When you engage in a conversation with another person about the advantages and disadvantages of being self-employed it's very likely that you use "business vocuabulary". When you watch a movie in the original English version you most certainly will encounter "business phrases". Language schools and publishing companies make huge money offering all kinds of stuff labelled "business" because most people would never make the effort to analyze what business is all about.

Some ESP areas have developed well and produced truly professional materials. It is ironic that business English is one of the weaker ones. I also agree with your point that the internet offers so many authentic materials that it is easy tolay your hands on the real stuff.

i think "business english" is very important to everyone specially in today's business society.because we need to communicate, such as description,introduction,expression.I am a chinese boy ,English is not our official language,i don't know what is the difference from both of "business english" and "business phrases".i only know that a language must easy to be remembered & to be known.

While it is true that the basics of Business English can be accessed via the Internet, as opposed to printed learning materials, I think the point of the article is a good one - weeding out the dredge from the truly valuable information is difficult at best. As a native English speaker, and an American Business Culture Consultant, when I research English resources online I find that I have a difficult time finding quality resources (and I'm a native speaker). If you speak English as a Second Language and you are trying to learn the in's and out's of Business English (as a secondary, or even primary, topic), you are bound to get lost in the search!

If you are a polished professional in your own country (and with your native language), you should want that to come across when you are communicating in English!

My advice is to seek out professional help!

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