What is Business English?
Simply speaking, it is the English language which is specifically learnt for business uses. Words that you speak in the business world are different from the words used in daily conversations, they are more professional in some specific business areas such as finance, banking, marketing. Besides, when you are dealing with a client for big business, your speaking tone and content would be different – showing your sincere respect and willingness to provide the services that the clients want. So, now you understand how business English differentiate from regular English we speak frequently, it comes to the next question: how can we get prepared to have ideal communications with different stakeholders including colleagues, clients, boss, in the workplace by using business English? Read below and see if any courses that you are interested in!
Wait, before you read the school and course recommendation, I have a short test for you to get familiar with your understanding of business English. This test is prepared by Cambridge Assessment, which is a credible source! Go test yourself first!
It stands for HKU School of Professional and Continuing Education. This school offers different programmes for advanced study, no matter you are pursuing a master’s degree or want to acquire more skills for the workplace, HKUSPACE can fulfill your desires.
It provides a series of business English courses including the certificate, advanced diploma course or short course. Here I recommend a course of ‘Certificate in Business English’ covering two modules including business writing skills and oral skills, which help students learn effective English communication skills through the tutorial materials and practices.
For business writing skills, the tutor would teach you how to write business documents such as both internal and external communications in a proper tone and styles. If you always get in troubles while drafting cover letters for applying jobs, or writing business letter to clients, this module suits you.
For business oral skills, it mainly helps enhance your presentation and communication skills. It makes you build a positive first impression to everyone including clients or colleagues you meet in the workplace. The course would teach the language of presentation as well as the way you should speak when making a business.
Tuition fee: HK$4,500 / module (45 hours per each, writing or speaking)
Course venue: HKUSPACE school (Kowloon, HK)
- SCE – HKBU
School of Continuing Education of Hong Kong Baptist University offers certificate courses for Business English:
- Certificate in Business English Communication (Introductory)
- Certificate in Business English Communication (Intermediate)
For the introductory course, it is a comprehensive course that teaches you the fundamental level of business English language, covering a few parts: pronunciation, grammar, and the basis communication skills in business English reading, writing, listening and speaking. Teachers would provide as many as practices for students to get solid experience in communicating at the workplace, for example, writing business memos or having a conversation simulating the business environment with classmates.
This 135-hour course is recommended for students who are beginner in English (especially who start advanced learning in English just for their jobs)
Tuition fee: HK$8,690 (135 hours, 16months)
Course venue: Kowloon East Learning Centre
- Wall Street English
Wall Street English is a popular choice between English language centers available in the HK market. It covers 5 modules targeting at different English areas, for example, basis of English grammar for business uses, public speaking, and managerial skills for managers or leader-typed positions. You can choose specific areas to participate, and in order to enhance the teaching effectiveness, all lessons are conducted in small classes, with thousands of exercises and group discussions. One more feature is that there is a two-way evaluation between students and tutors so that tutors can adjust their teaching styles and materials provided that suit students the best. The flexibility of course schedules is very high that it is decided based on students’ progress.
Tuition fee: HK$346/hour (Duration depending progress)
Course venue: Jordan / Tsuen Wan / Kwun Tong / Shatin / Yuen Long
Attending business English lessons in classrooms are suggested for language learning because students could have real-time interactions with classmates and teachers. However, in Hong Kong we are always being very busy that it is difficult to spend a few hours in a specific location for lessons. If this is the case that describes you, you should consider having online course!
AmazingTalker is a popular online language learning platform. It allows everyone to have one-to-one lesson anywhere with native speakers of different languages such as English (and of course business English). If you are interested in learning business English in a relaxing atmosphere, AmazingTalker is the best for you.
With hundreds of teachers which are professionals in business English coaching, you should be able to search the one who can deliver the ideal lessons to you! The system is user-friendly for both teachers and students, for students looking for a teacher, just simply click the link below and different business English tutors’ profiles are displayed and ranked.
Details including the price, reviews from other students, and most importantly the self-introduction in both written and video format are listed. You might also check their available time slots so that it gives high flexibility for both of you to arrange the classes.
Course fee: HK$108 – 180 / hour on average (price differentiation depends on the experience and education level of the tutors)
Coursera is an online learning platform that provides courses from all disciplines aiming to let the students get more prepared or improvements for their career. Coursera has lots of famous universities / companies as partners such as University of Washington, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) and IBM.
There are many courses about business English, for instance, HKUST provides a few relevant courses like ‘Business English: Basis’ to enhance students’ skills for business communications, business case analysis through 6 parts with recommended schedule for students to learn it by themselves, i.e. 24 hours (6 weeks: 3-5 hours per week). Good news is – the course is currently available for free registration! Click the course name in blue color and start learning!
*Certificate will be awarded once you finished the course, and it can be shown in your Linkedin profile.
Course fee: Many courses are free, others priced starting from HK$320
This non-profit education platform (MOOCs) is founded by Harvard University and MIT. It provides courses, programs or even master’s degree – all are online. There are already 20,000,000+ users which are students from world-leading companies and universities, having edX’s comprehensive learning resources in all academic disciplines. The difference between edx and the above two learning platforms is the professionality of edX, if you wish to attend a formal course similar to the one you attend at university, then edX is a good choice.
Business English courses are also available on their platform. A course ‘Upper-Intermediate English: Business’ offered by Universitat Politècnica de Valencia teaches you advanced English language specifically for business uses through trainings on writing letters with appropriate tenses and tone, as well as the verbal language. It is free for enrollment now, click here for details: more information.
They offer an open source platform called Open edX. Everyone could be the contributors of the platform by sharing thoughts, techniques and knowledge. English learning materials including business English could also be found.
Course fee: Some courses are free, but for some program-based course (6 weeks) can be priced up to a few thousands HKD.
It’s designed for learning business English for various purposes, e.g. presentations, interviews, negotiations. 500+ lessons in these categories are available, mostly in podcast and e-book format which would be updated weekly for free. The podcasts simulate the actual conversations in different scenarios at workplace, aiming to help you get the skills to build good relationships with your colleagues, bosses, or clients.
If audio is not enough for learning, then you should consider subscribe the platform and be one of their premium members. Extra benefits are granted for members, for example, you would have transcripts for the audio, quizzes and lesson modules! You would also have the access to all e-books in which you have to pay for each e-book if you are not their members. Use your cell phones to learn everywhere and succeed in career!
Membership fee: 1-year premium membership costs HK$763 (most popular choice)
- British Council
I believe you must hear of British Council before. It provides business English learning resources as what the above platforms do! The materials are categorized into 4 sections, each is designed for different uses such as job recruitment, learning specific business topics to be professionals, or writing emails. You would find videos, articles and small quiz to make sure you get familiar with the relevant topics before you exit the sections.
For example, in the section about ‘You’re Hired’, there are many episodes, each representing a situation such as having an interview. For easier learning, transcript, tasks and worksheet are provided below the video so you can test yourself by completing the exercises about business English. If you want to gain access to more online courses, you may consider paying a subscription fee.
- BBC learning English
If you already have basis understanding of business English, BBC would be a wise choice that you have access to huge amount of exercises in different areas. For instance, there is a series called ‘Business Language to go’ covering many common scenarios that people have experienced in, these scenarios include dealing with difficult customers. Audio and script can be downloaded and you will learn the useful sentences and skills to communicate with those customers, click and start practice!