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So what do we mean by business English?

a month ago

Hi everyone, below is a healthy discussion I’ve previously had amongst my colleagues at a language center and I’m curious to see what responses it might attract on here.

I’ll initiate the discussion using the scenario that one of our students (who works in accounts) wants to improve on their work related vocabulary.

If the student were to apply the business English filter here on Verbling they’d be presented with a huge number of tutors in the search results, therefore all these tutors consider themselves qualified to teach the subject.

So if by business English we mean the language used in everyday business situations and scenarios then I’d be inclined to agree, for example:

Operations Director - “Sarah have you sent out tomorrows agenda for the 3:30 meeting yet?”
PA - “yes I sent it as an attachment with the confirmation email this morning”

Without a doubt an English teacher with the usual qualifications could comfortably manage such a lesson.

But what about this example?

Student - “teacher can you tell me please, what’s the difference between a deadline and a milestone on a project plan?”

I’m not too sure how many teachers would feel so comfortable now, or how about this one?

Student - “teacher could you explain the word amortization in relation to an intangible asset?”

Now I’m fairly certain the response is going to be something along these lines:

Teacher - “ahh . …. let me get back to you on that one” : )

All of which is totally understandable and fair as unless you’ve either studied the relevant subjects or had experience within a project or accounting you can’t reasonably be expected to teach such specific vocabulary.

However, all three of those examples are all definitely business English.

Which now brings me back to the title to my post and I humbly ask the question ……. . . so what do we mean by business English?

All thoughts and opinions greatly appreciated.

Best regards,

Pete.