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Doing Business in English - Is it Mission Impossible?

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Joined: 01 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Mon May 24, 2010 11:29 pm    Post subject: Doing Business in English - Is it Mission Impossible? Reply with quote

How many times has a colleague of yours suggested taking a business English course? You, as an experienced executive, whose agenda has no place for any other extra activity, and who has been working for the same company for more than ten years, simply answer, “what for?” Never in your business life in that same company have you needed business English to do your job, so for you that is just a ridiculous suggestion. But imagine that one day, your company decides to invest in an English speaking country, just to expand the business and try new horizons, which of course will involve travelling to that country, having meetings and conference calls, making presentations and answering letters and e-mails, all of which involves using business English. I guess that now your colleague’s suggestion does not sound that ridiculous, right?

At first, you believe that you will be able to handle the situation. Bearing in mind your years of experience in the business and the fact that you understand English pretty well, how complicated can this be for you? So the day comes in which you and the rest of the company must travel to the other country to explain the company’s investment objectives and purposes. Before flying you buy a business English dictionary, just in case you may need it. The meeting starts and you discover that all the company’s staff speaks and understands English easily. Suddenly, you realize that business English is not as easy as you thought; even when you understand some parts of the conversation, it is not crystal clear at all. Not to mention the fact that it is impossible for you to give your opinion or explain the tasks that the sector you are responsible for performs. Apparently, even when you know the business well, trying to express the same ideas in another language is not a piece of cake at all.

So, after the meeting, your boss asks you why you were so quiet. Of course you will not talk about your language problems; therefore, you make up an excuse. And now you only wonder what you will do: is this the end of your career?

Fortunately, there is a quick and efficient solution for you. Travel abroad and attend classes at a school that has a special ESL- Program for executives like you, who need to learn business English to continue doing business. The first thing they should do is enquiry about your real needs, in other words, they prepare the lessons considering all the situations that you will have to handle, and they teach you in consequence. A great three-week program involves travelling to the US and meeting other executives, which will not only allow you to learn the language in real life situations, but also to share business experience with other colleagues.

To sum up, it is not impossible to do business in English; you only need a program that focuses on your needs as an executive. And the most important thing: enroll in the program even if you may not need business English for your current job, as you never know when things can change.

Rachel Clarkson
Rachel Clarkson is an English teacher at LCI English and blogger at the ESL Blog.
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