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Chapter 20: English Is The Language Of International Business


A few years ago I was reviewing business proposals. Our company needed new graphics for our website, so I had posted a job on an international freelancer forum. We got over twenty responses to our job posting. Each posting contained a bid for our project.

As I reviewed the bids, I noticed the nationalities of the graphic artists. There was a company from Argentina. There was an artist from Hungary. There was a Japanese bidder. There was a German and a Malaysian. There were several from the United States and Canada.

As I looked them over, I was struck by this clear example of globalization. These people were all participating in an online international marketplace. Then I realized the obvious: they were all using English to do so. Every bid was written in English. Therefore, each of these artists was competing not only based on their artistic ability, but also on their ability to communicate their strengths in English.

Clearly, English is the international language of business. It is for this reason that schools, everywhere in the world, offer English classes. English language ability is a competitive advantage to any and all who have it. English opens the world, to companies and freelance artists alike. Lack of English closes opportunities and puts you at a disadvantage in our global economy.

These are simply the facts, be they pleasant to you or not. The simple truth is that English is growing increasingly important to the global economy. More and more jobs, in more and more countries, are requiring spoken English proficiency. Some companies, such as the Japanese company Rakuten, are making English their official language.

Rakuten's founder and CEO Hiroshi Mikitani created an English-only policy for the web commerce company. Mr. Mikitani said, "one of the things holding back Japanese firms from competing globally is a language barrier that prevents them from fully grasping overseas competition." He also said that lack of English proficiency limits Japanese companies from pursuing global talent and retaining non-Japanese staff.

With the new policy, all employees are required to use English for company communications, including meetings, presentations, emails, proposals, and other documents. The company expects employees to be proactive about learning English independently.

While this is a developing trend for Japan, many international companies are increasing their requirements for English. Many, like Rakuten, are instituting English-only policies. As this trend grows, the demand for business English grows with it.

Increasingly, in the business world, there is simply no escape from English.

:: It's Still English

Business English opens economic opportunities. Because of this, a large variety of business English classes, schools, textbooks, and lessons have arrived to fill the need. Not surprisingly, most of these use the same old methods to teach business English as they used to teach general English.

Business English, however, is not a separate type of English. The happy truth is that most of the English used in business situations are the same English used commonly in other situations. In business, you'll find the same common vocabulary, the same common idioms, and the same grammar.

The main addition to business English is simply vocabulary related to specific business topics. This vocabulary falls into two categories: general business terms and specialized jargon.

General business terms are those used throughout the business world. These are common phrases often used in meetings, proposals, and presentations. These are quite easy to learn, using the same Effortless English methods you are already using.

:: The Easy Way To Learn Business English

Learning business English is simply a matter of selecting real materials that are related to business topics. In other words, you use the exact same Effortless English method.

First, you focus on fuel, your psychology. You change your limiting beliefs. You put yourself into a peak emotional state. Then you use the seven Rules. You spend most of your time listening. You learn deeply. You avoid grammar books and textbooks. You listen to mini-stories and point of view stories — choosing stories about business topics that use business English vocabulary.

For extra listening, listen to real business English materials such as business podcasts, business newscasts, and business audiobooks. When possible, get both the text and audio versions. Read and listen simultaneously.

Just as you did with general English, choose materials that are interesting to you. If you are a salesperson, choose materials related to sales. If your area is finance, then focus on audios and text related to finance.

You have nothing special to do. Just follow the same Effortless English system, using business materials.

:: Learn Specialized Jargon Last

Some fields of business have a large number of specialized words. This specialized vocabulary is called "jargon." For example, accountants have a large number of accounting terms which are used extensively in their jobs. This specialized vocabulary is vital for accountants.

While necessary, jargon is the final type of business English you will learn. Before learning jargon you should first focus on general business English. Master the most common business phrases by listening to and reading real business content. Only after you have done this should you concern yourself with jargon.

Of course, you'll learn your field's jargon in exactly the same way as you learned general business English. When you are ready, simply change the material you are listening to and reading. Gather real materials that are specifically related to your field.

Choose material that is useful. Rather than focusing on the English, focus on learning more about your field from English sources. Develop your knowledge and skills using these sources and you'll automatically improve your business English at the same time.

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