According to the most recent statistics, it is estimated that in 2020, around 2 billion people worldwide, both native and non-native speakers, will be using English for business purposes.

This number has been increasing steadily by about 250 million every 1-2 years.

If you're reading this, chances are you're learning English (or thinking about it). Maybe your intention is to speak English for day-to-day purposes, or it may be a job requirement, or perhaps you just love language learning. Whatever the reason, adding English skills to your repertoire will bring significant benefits.

Let's have a look at these benefits.

Learn English for business purposes to assist you during meetings.
When you know how to speak English, meetings become easier to manage. (Source: Pixabay)

English: The Global Business Language

The establishment of a global language is driven by politics and economics.

For centuries, the world was lead by the British Empire until America became recognised as the global leader.

Despite countries like America and Australia having no official language, English is used by government bodies and the majority of citizens.

America's choice of English as their primary language has led to English maintaining its position as lingua franca of the business world. This means that, in international business transactions, English is used by both native speakers of English and non-native English speakers.

How to improve your English for business purposes

It is best if you've been learning English for a while, and have some proficiency before you start to learn business English.

If you need to brush up on your grammar or vocabulary knowledge, consider enrolling in English courses, or take English conversation lessons online with other ESL students.

Practise your conversational English with a native speaker and ask for feedback on your pronunciation and fluency.

Try online quizzes if you want to practise or test your language skills.

Business-specific English

Business English has its own technical terminology — words and phrases specific to particular businesses — so a solid background in English is essential before you start.

This foundational knowledge includes:

  • verbs — tenses, irregularities and conjugations
  • adjectives and adverbs — when and how to use them
  • sentences — structure and variations
  • expressions — phrases, idioms and slang

All English skill components are of equal importance in business, and while reading and writing skills and speaking skills are essential, listening skills can be the most difficult so you may wish to spend extra time practising these with audio and video lessons.

Which business area are you interested in?

The vocabulary words you need will depend on the business sector you are looking at.

For example, if you are interested in real estate, you'll need English words like interiorappraisal and duplex.

However, if you want to start a career in marketing and sales, new words might be competitorobligation-free and turnaround.

Have you considered teaching?

Many advanced English as a second language learners tutor other non native speakers in English.

How you promote your skills is important. If you're planning on targeting students who are studying for IELTS or TOEFL, put your advertisements up around school campuses and shopping centres.

Make sure you emphasise your personal experience learning English as a foreign language speaker.

You know how tricky it is to learn English. You understand the confusing nature of English grammar. You know strategies for learning word order and verb tenses.

Native English speakers may also be interested in learning your mother tongue.

Improve your professionalism and profit when you learn English.
Learn English to increase your profits and success internationally. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt)

Learn English and Get on the Road to Professional and Financial Success

Putting effort into learning English will soon see you reaping the rewards — whether your goal is a salary increase, a promotion or job change or a completely new beginning.

Scientific studies have shown that bilingualism is related to increased attention spans with the result being improved work output.

It is also noted that people with at least a second language are more likely to complete work ahead of a deadline and are better multi-taskers.

Knowing this, employers, particularly those with multinational companies, prioritise applicants who are fluent in at least two languages.

Multi-lingual employees are essential for company success in the international market.

If your written and spoken language is fluent enough to communicate during business dealings, you could potentially be looking at a pay rise of up to 20 per cent.

An alternative to sales, marketing or shipping position in a global company could be a role teaching English to non English speaking employees — or teaching your native language to English speaking workers.

A Few Global Statistics

  • Several Arabic-speaking countries are among the world's largest producers of oil and gas.
  • Over 100,000 native speakers of English are hired as ESL teachers and consultants for China's global companies.
  • Ethiopia is the world's fifth-largest coffee producer.
  • Seven of the ten top telecommunications companies in the world come from non-English speaking countries (China, Japan, Spain, Mexico and  Germany).

If you are a native speaker of any of these regions' languages, you could earn a good income tutoring English-speaking employees.

Many English speakers who are working in these industries, or are travelling overseas on a posting, are keen to learn the language spoken at their destination. When you can speak English fluently, you can offer to teach them your native language.

If you're starting a tutoring business, one way to find students is to put up fliers and advertise online. However, having an online profile is a much more efficient way of finding clients.

There are a number of tutoring sites available, but on Superprof, you can establish your profile easily, list your language skills and conduct lessons either remotely or as a home tutor.

In Australia, private tutors can earn anywhere from $25-$80 an hour (or more).

You already have the skill, so why not profit from it?

What level of English do you need for Australian universities?
Enrolling in a university course is easier if you have been learning English. (Source: Sidneiensis, Visualhunt)

Learning English Will Give You Greater Access to Tertiary Education

All English learners, regardless of their reasons for taking lessons, need to master the same fundamental components of English:

  • vocabulary and its positioning in sentence structure
  • verbs — tenses and conjugation
  • effective use of adjectives and adverbs
  • accurate spelling
  • application of grammar rules
  • correct punctuation use
  • tone, inflection (and accents or dialects) of spoken language

Not everyone decides to learn English with a view to enrolling in a university degree in Australia, Britain or the US.

Those who do want this, however, work extremely hard to become fluent in English, including mastery of their chosen country's slang and idioms, to be able to gain university entrance.

Australia is a particularly popular destination for international students wanting to learn English, with steadily increasing numbers enrolling in ESL classes, primary and high school, and higher education.

Target your English Learning to Maximise Success

If your goal is to study the degree of your choice in an Australian university, you should ensure your English lessons focus on language specific to that discipline.

Learning a new language is always going to be challenging and even more so when you want to study subjects like science or technology in a country where your first language is not spoken.

Gaining entrance into the university of your choice is the first hurdle, for which you will need IELTS or TOEFL qualifications. Following this, you will also need to show a degree of speaking proficiency using the subject-specific language and expressions, along with comprehension ability and fluent writing — all in English obviously.

Learn English Online to Help you Improve your Chances

There is an abundance of online resources and materials for people wanting to learn English. Every aspect and level is covered. However, the problem is that it's not always easy to find useful pages devoted to specific disciplines among the internet resource jungle.

Stop looking. Problem solved.

You can find a range of helpful materials in formats to suit every learning style on the Australian website for the British Council (and the UK site of the same). Podcasts, news items, written articles, and word lists are just a few resources on offer.

The British Council websites are a good starting place for their presentation of general English language structures.

Their narrations (by people speak English as their native language) on a variety of day-to-day topics are also worth investigating.

Free online tutorials are also offered by the Khan Academy on YouTube. These courses include areas such as precalculus, physics, computer programming, economics and finance, and electrical engineering. In addition, the website has an English grammar section that covers everything from parts of speech and punctuation to usage and style.

The only thing you may need to be aware of is that all videos and explanations by the Khan Academy use American English.

There are significant differences between American, British and Australian English, particularly in speaking style and accent, and spelling rules (e.g. flavour v flavor). However, sentence structure is the same, and most vocabulary is as well, although there are of course regional differences throughout.

Particularly when you're practising your listening skills, switching between sites can be useful to train your ear. Try, for example, a British Council news report, an Australian British Council podcast and a video from the Khan Academy.

On top of the public internet resources, your university is likely to have language and subject tutorials on its website.

Don't let learning a new language, and specialised vocabulary, worry you — there's a whole range of materials out there to assist and support you in your journey.

What are the best websites to learn English online?
If you want to learn English in a safe, relaxed environment, try one of the many resources you can find online. (Source: Pixabay Credit Arupinum)

Believe it or Not — English is Easy to Learn!

English is one of the hardest languages to learn with hundreds of irregular verbs, inconsistent spelling and confusing pronunciation rules — right?

Wrong! There is no reason to be anxious about your ability to learn English.

Growing your English Vocabulary

Often, people learning English a foreign language try to memorise lists of words, many of which are unrelated. A more effective way to increase your vocabulary is to focus on words that are connected to each other in some way.

For example, you could make a list of adjectives or noun phrases to describe a noun. Or you could group words into families according to base word or rhyme.

Make a game out of learning your words.

If you're walking to the bus stop, repeat a word from your list for every step you take. While you're waiting for the bus, see how many words you can come up with to describe another commuter before the bus arrives.

English Verb Conjugation

It is true that a large number of English verbs are irregular, that is, they don't follow the same patterns as other verbs. However, unlike Spanish, the list of irregular English verbs and their conjugations does not extend to sixteen pages.

There are some patterns — apart from 'to be' and 'to have', all irregular verbs in English have the same irregularity.

There are also only four endings to remember when you're conjugating regular verbs — compared to over fifty endings if you happen to be learning French.

English Grammar Rules Don't Have Many Exceptions

Yes, there are plenty of grammar rules to remember, but only five general exceptions, so focus on learning these:

  • nouns that end in -ing (icing, clothing, a dwelling)
  • nouns that behave like verbs (peppering, texting, quizzing)
  • nouns acting as adjectives (lemon tea, ladies room, English teacher)
  • adjectives that work as nouns (the rich, the unemployed, our seniors)
  • adjectives ending with -ly (lovely, sickly, friendly)

The exception that proves the rule — English proverb

In other words, the existence of a rule is proven by its exceptions.

As a learner of English, you may find memorising the exceptions will help you remember the rules.

Spelling and Writing in English is Easier than in Other Languages

The English alphabet has only 26 letters and does not use extra markings to change or keep the sound.

The consonant-vowel relationship, and the way the word is put together, shows how each syllable should be stressed or pronounced.

In Europe, accent markers are placed over vowels in many languages, changing how the vowels sound. Chinese is a tonal language, so when it is romanised (written in Latin alphabet), it requires distinct marks to show how the tone should sound for each meaning.

In both cases, an incorrectly used, or absent, accent marker will often change the word's meaning.

Consonants, like the 'c' in French, or the 'n' in Spanish, often require a diacritical mark to indicate how the letter should be pronounced.

Conversely, over half of the words in English can be spelled accurately based on how they sound. No marks are needed.

If you want to improve your writing skills, it would be highly beneficial to gain an understanding of syllables — the individual sounds, represented by a set of letters, in a word.

Take, for example, the word 'tarantula'. There are four syllables — ta + ran + tu + la. Each syllable should be enunciated clearly.

However, it's often mispronounced as 'tran-chu-la' or 'ta-ranch-la' — reducing the syllable count to three, and popping in a 'ch' to replace the 'tu'.

Teachers often encourage young, native English speaking students to sound out words as they spell them. You can also use this technique to assist the development of your reading and writing skills, and your pronunciation. (Though, be aware not all words can be sounded out.)

Using these simple techniques will help you gain an understanding of the rules of English, and you'll soon realise it's a super easy language to learn.

Singing along with English songs can help your vocabulary and pronunciation.
Practise your English pronunciation by singing along to your favourite tunes. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Joseph)

Incorporate Books, Movies and Music into your English Lessons

There are a huge number of resources you can tap into when you're learning English — and they're all readily accessible.

Books, movies and music! They're everywhere, and so much is in English you don't have to look far, no matter where you are. And this is why learning English is easier than any other language!

You can thank the advent of the internet for all of this. Quality literature, popular songs, classic films — they're all available at the click of your mouse, anywhere in the world.

What are the benefits?

Watch Movies to Help Improve your Enunciation

Exaggerated mouth movements have been used by native English speaking parents for centuries to show their children how to make different sounds in English. This technique is employed by actors to ensure clear diction.

If you carefully watch and copy an actors' mouth movements, you can mimic their tone and accent.

Despite the dominance of British and American movies throughout the world,  Australia is also known for a number of box-office winners:

  • Mad Max — a dystopian, Australian future
  • Crocodile Dundee — Aussie humour at its best
  • Rabbit-Proof Fence — important Indigenous history

New release movies, in particular, are useful for learning idioms and slang expressions. If you hear a line you like, pause the movie and write it down.

Remember to practise your new expressions when talking with native English speaking friends. They'll let you know if you have the correct context.

Listen to the Radio to Hone your Aural Skills

There are a number of radio stations in Australia that broadcast programs aimed at non native speakers. Try tuning into Radio Australia, SBS Radio or even BTN podcasts to find something you like. The ABC and British Council also air programs designed to improve your English.

Of course, along with the abundance of spoken programs on the air, radio is largely about listening to music.

Find a radio station with music you love, download the lyrics and sing along.

Why not make a social occasion out of it? Invite your classmates from your English course along, and get in some vocabulary, diction and pronunciation practice singing along, karaoke style.

Use Literary Texts to Supplement your English Lessons

Both classic and contemporary literature provide the reader with cultural understanding through time — and there is no shortage of English authors to choose from in every genre.

If you're reading classics, watch out for words and expressions that are no longer in use.

To maximise the benefits, keep a dictionary nearby. As you read, mark any unfamiliar words or phrases and look them up.

Build a list of new words and their contexts, and watch your fluency grow.

Learning English does not have to be all about sitting in a classroom. There are plenty of more enjoyable ways to develop your skills, including watching movies or TV, singing or reading.

What word games can help you learn English?
Reduce performance pressure and improve your English by having fun with word games. (Source: Pixabay Credit: Blickpixel)

English Courses Do Not Have to be Completely Serious!  

You naturally absorb and learn more when you are relaxed and free from stress. Playing English language games is a perfect way to increase vocabulary, improve grammar and boost fluency.

Play is the highest form of research. (Albert Einstein)

If you need a break from the seriousness but want to continue to learn English in a casual setting, give these games a go.

The Alphabet Game

While there's no doubt you already know the English alphabet, why stop there? Use your letter knowledge to challenge yourself to come up with words about topics of your choice — animals, places, food, business terminology...the list is endless.

It's simple: pick a topic and come up with 26 related words, each one starting with a letter of the alphabet.

Why don't we start with things you can wear? A list might look like this:

  • Apron
  • Bikini
  • Cardigan
  • Dress
  • Earrings

...and so on, until:

  • XL t-shirt (sometimes you need to cheat a little)
  • Yoga pants
  • Zebra print leggings (again, cheating occasionally is ok)

Try a dictionary or the internet if you're stuck — it's all research.

To remember your new words: learn the meaning, look up root words and related expressions, us them at least five times to stick them in your memory.

Fun with Alliteration and Tongue Twisters

If you see seven silly sentences with lots of words starting with the same letter, chances are you've stumbled over alliteration.

Did you see the alliteration in that sentence?

One form of alliteration is the tongue twister. These are particularly useful (and fun) ways ESL tutors can have students practise speaking English. To be understood, the tongue twisters require careful pronunciation.

Get together with friends and have a tongue twister tournament. Who can say a given tongue twister accurately in the fastest time?

Play is our brain's favourite way of learning. (Diane Ackerman)

Learning English opens up the doors to the world.
Will you be one of the two billion people around the world who speak English? (Source: Pixabay Credit: Geralt)

Your Global English-Speaking Community Awaits

As a student of English, you are joined by thousands of others worldwide who are also studying English as a second language.

Your reasons for learning English may be varied —whether for employment, as a teacher, or a journalist — but you'll have friends everywhere in the global English-speaking community.

Need an ESL (English) teacher?

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Kellie is an editor, a children's writer, blogger and a teacher. Any remaining time she has is spent on a dragon boat.