What is Professional English?
by Wendy Kohn
When people ask me what professional or business English is, I tell them that my students are
people who need English for their professional lives, so we use skills and topics related to
business to teach the language. If you're considering taking professional English classes
but aren't sure what to expect, here are some examples of what you might find.
Most successful language classes cover the four basic language skills: reading, writing, speaking
and listening. Professional English is no exception. To practice reading, we read newspapers, case
studies and articles from business-related websites; for writing, we write e-mails, reports and letters;
for speaking, we give presentations, hold meetings and practice small talk; for listening, we listen to
interviews, news reports and speeches.
Of course vocabulary and grammar are also important to make your English sound more advanced
and professional, but they probably won't take the form of verb conjugations and long vocabulary
lists. You'll discover new vocabulary for talking about management, finance and current events
from real business materials such as newspaper articles and videos. Most teachers will spend a
lot of time on phrasal verbs and idioms as well, which are essential for navigating the American
business world. A private teacher may help you with individual grammar challenges, but they
may also work on making your writing style sound more advanced and appropriate for different
levels of formality.
No language class would be complete without a cultural dimension, and professional English is no exception. Studying all cultures, not just American culture, is extremely important for conducting business internationally. In addition to learning about specific customs, understanding different cultural attitudes will help you be more confident in international business situations and make your customers or business partners feel more comfortable too.
The most important part of a business English class at Rennert or any school is always the conversation. Whether you are in a private or group class, you can expect to spend a significant amount time practicing your conversation skills by speaking about topics that are interesting to you and related to your professional life.
If you need English primarily for work, you may find that taking professional English classes is the best way to be sure you are learning practical, relevant and challenging skills that will help you advance in your career.
How do you make the most of your Professional English Program studies?