As of 2015, the most recent statistics available, more than a billion and a half people used English to conduct business, regardless of their native language.
That number has surely increased in the intervening two years.
If you are currently learning English, whether you intend to use the language in your daily life, or you are simply interested in studying the speech that nearly two billion people across the globe can converse and transact in, your work will surely pay off.
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Let's look at the reasons why.
English is the Language of Business
Political and economic power are generally accepted as the driving factors for establishing a global language.
The British Empire led the world for centuries before America stepped in as the global leader.
Although America has no officially declared national language, the majority of its speakers and its government use English.
America's use of English as their fundamental language translates into English remaining the lingua franca – the language used by people whose native tongue is different, one that every business uses in every international transaction.
How to Learn Business English
You should have a fair grasp of speaking English in general before learning business English.
As an English learner, you might be uncertain about your grammar and vocabulary abilities. Maybe taking some English lessons, either via webcam or with a group of other ESL learners would boost your confidence.
You can test your fluency and pronunciation by engaging native speakers of English in conversation.
You can take quizzes online if you prefer to test your skills without an audience.
Business English has its own vocabulary.
It is important that you have a strong foundation in English before you learn words and phrases that relate to the business you aspire to work in.
That foundation includes verb tenses, including irregular verbs and their conjugation; adjective and adverb use, sentence structure and proper use of expressions, and correct usage of the idiom and slang.
Listening skills are as important as reading, speaking, and writing skills in business, so you should devote a fair portion of your English study time to audio materials.
What Business Interests You?
Business English vocabulary is targeted to specific areas. If your interest lies in finance, some new words you might learn are currency, accounting, and liability.
If you are more driven toward tourism and the hospitality industry, your vocabulary would consist of words like accommodation, destination, and fare aggregator.
How would you like to be a teacher?
With your developed English skills, you could help non native speakers in your area learn English.
You can promote your services as an English teacher to students practicing for IELTS or TOEFL by posting adverts on college campuses and supermarkets.
Your biggest selling point is that you have experience as a non native speaker learning English.
You understand how tricky grammar can be. You might have a simpler way to teach verb tenses and vocabulary.
You could also consider teaching your native language to English speakers.
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Learning English Opens Doors, Professionally & Financially
Whether you are learning English to make a new start in life, looking for better pay at your current job, or hoping for a new position entirely, rest assured: your efforts at learning English will bring those rewards.
The consensus from the scientific community is that people who are bilingual have increased attention spans, and are thus better workers.
Speakers of more than one language have also proven to be better at finishing projects ahead of schedule, and at multi-tasking in general.
Aware of those facts, hiring managers, especially for multinational companies, prefer applicants who can speak more than one language.
Another reason multi-lingual persons are actively recruited by major companies is that they are absolutely vital in today's global business arena.
You could increase your pay by 5 to 20%, simply because you can communicate in more than one language!
Rather than accepting a position in sales, marketing or shipping, you could create a position for yourself in any global corporation you apply at by proposing to teach their English-speaking workforce your native language.
Global Job Statistics
Ethiopia's coffee industry ranks in the top ten globally
India is home to the world's ten top telecommunications firms
China hires more than one hundred thousand native English speakers each year, to function as Esl teachers and as consultants in their many global firms.
The most lucrative oil and gas company jobs are in Arabic-speaking countries.
You could start a profitable tutoring business if you are native to any of these regions.
Once you are more or less fluent in English, you can teach your native language to English-speaking workers desiring a position in those industries or preparing to travel to those countries on assignment.
To start your tutoring business, printing fliers and posting adverts online is one way to find prospects. But the best way to attract clients who want to learn your language is to establish an online profile.
Superprof is a site where you can list your language abilities and offer lessons via webcam, or as a home tutor.
Private tutors earn an average £20 per hour in the UK – a natural way to profit from a skill you already possess!
This would be a good way to establish yourself in your community, too.
ESOL Lessons are Your Access to Higher Education
Regardless of the age of the student who arrives in Britain, the same basic aspects of language learning apply:
- verbs, their tenses and proper conjugation
- how to use adjectives and adverbs properly
- correct spelling
- grammar rules
- word order and sentence structure
- using proper punctuation
- speaking the language with proper tone and inflection
Nowhere are we implying that every single student of English desires to earn a degree from any of Britain's finest institutions.
However, it is true that students who arrive in Britain work very hard to master every aspect of English, including modern slang and idioms, in order to matriculate at any of our universities or colleges.
The data bear that hypothesis out!
According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, on average twenty percent of students enrolled at institutes of higher learning in the UK come from outside the country.
Learning English to Succeed in School
If you are one of many international students with eyes on UK universities, studying English in depth is the best way for you to achieve your goal.
English as a foreign language in itself can be tricky, but especially so if the subject you are passionate about is science or technology.
To earn a degree in these subjects from a UK university, you would have to master the vocabulary associated with the discipline, as well as attaining comprehension and being able to write about it fluently, in English.
Suppose sociology or anthropology fascinates you.
The verbiage those studies require is generally not used in everyday English. You would need a separate word set to even qualify for enrollment in those programs.
Online Resources for Learning University-Level English
The Internet is rife materials to study English grammar and vocabulary. However, finding pages for learning English with regard to specific subjects can be frustrating.
It doesn't have to be!
The British Council publishes materials in various forms – broadcasts, reading material and word lists to help you learn more about English.
They might not offer specialized vocabulary for the subjects you intend to major in, but their website presents grammar and vocabulary lessons to increase your overall learning.
Their podcasts are worth special mention as they address everyday topics, narrated by people whose native language is English.
Additionally, the university you plan to enroll at may well have language tutorials on its site.
The Khan Academy offers free online tutorials via YouTube in subjects such as computer science, physics, chemistry, health and medicine, and higher math.
Their website hosts an expanded section on English grammar, from explanations of parts of speech and how to use them to a proper punctuation guide.
Beware that the topics detailed by Khan Academy's videos are related in American English.
Although words and sentence construction are more or less the same from one type of English to the next, the tone, accent and style of speaking is different than Oxford English.
In some cases, spelling is different as well: color v. colour, for example
To derive the most benefit from both sites, switch listening to a British Council podcast with watching an educational video in American English.
Considering the plethora of resources to learn English – let alone any specialized vocabulary, stressing over learning the language isn't necessary.
Learning English is Easy!
With all of its irregular verbs and pronunciation rules, it would seem that English would be a hard language to learn.
Let us ease your anxiety about English.
Building a Sizable Vocabulary in English
People who are learning English as a second language should not concern themselves unduly with the number of words they know; rather on how they relate or connect to other words.
Grouping words into families, known as rhyming words is an effective way to add to your vocabulary.
Doing so can be a fun activity!
For each step you take as you walk, you speak a word. By the time you arrive at your destination, you might have reviewed an entire group of words!
Conjugating Verbs in English
Contrary to what is feared by English learners everywhere, verbs and their many forms and usage is easier in English.
There are indeed irregular verbs in the English language – verbs that don't follow the same pattern as others. However, those predicates are fewer than irregular verbs in Spanish, whose irregular verb list and conjugation thereof would fill sixteen pages.
All English irregular verbs except for 'to be' and 'to have' are irregular in the same way.
Regular verb conjugation in English is easier too: each one only has four endings. Compare that with a typical French verb, which has more than fifty endings to be learned.
English Grammar is Relatively Easy
Learning grammar exceptions rather than the rules make English easier to learn.
There are only five general grammar rule exceptions is English:
nouns ending in -ing (my breathing, housing, a closing)
nouns acting as verbs (texting, medalling, stumping)
nouns that function as adjectives (race horse; math teacher; ticket office)
adjectives that function as nouns (the unemployed, the deceased, our elders)
adjectives ending in -ly (friendly, slowly, happily)
The exception proves the rule.
That is an English idiom meaning that proof of a rule's existence is given by its exceptions.
For students of English, it means that memorizing the exceptions will remind them of the rule.
Spelling and Writing are Easier in English
Unlike other languages, English does not require any special marks on its letters to change or maintain the letter's sound.
The relationship between consonants and vowels, as well as how the word is constructed, is enough to indicate how each syllable in any word should be spoken.
Many European languages use accents – markings over vowels, to change how those vowels sound. In the romanization of the Chinese language, four distinct accents are used to indicate which tone the word should be spoken.
A misplaced or improper accent can change the meaning of a word!
Some consonants are treated to a diacritical mark, such as the French 'c' or the Spanish 'n'.
In English, more than half of the words in the average speaker's vocabulary can be correctly spelled by how they sound, without any such marks.
Understanding and knowing syllables – individual sound parts that make up words - is helpful in optimizing your writing skills.
Let us try this technique using the word 'socially'. This word has four syllables: so+ci+al+ly, that should each be clearly enunciated.
Socially is often mispronounced by students of English. Most learners pronounce it 'so-shur-ly' or 'sho-were-ly', adding an 'r' and ignoring the second syllable altogether.
Sounding out is a common technique used by native speakers of English to teach proper spelling of words to their learners, a method you too can use to improve your reading, writing and speaking abilities.
Understanding and adhering to these simple rules makes English one of the easiest languages on the planet to learn!
Learn English Using Literature, Pop Culture & Film
One reason that learning English is so much easier to learn than other languages is because of the vast quantity of materials available that are in English.
Virtually anywhere in the world, anyone who wants to can have access to books, music and movies in English. Thanks to the World Wide Web, even classic literature such as Lord of the Rings and Wuthering Heights are devoured and discussed by Esl students!
How does that benefit you?
Learning Diction by Watching Movies
Native English speakers make exaggerated mouth movements to teach their children how to form words properly. Actors copy that technique in order to enunciate.
You can benefit from actors' diligence by imitating the way their mouths move, their tone and inflection.
Although American cinema is quite popular the world over, both their classic movies and new releases, Britain too is famous for a substantial number of hits.
Harry Potter is arguably one of the most famous movie franchises in the world.
Monty Python movies highlight social absurdity with typical British humour.
The James Bond franchise is one of the oldest, best established series of all time
Movies, especially new releases, are a great way to pick up on slang and idioms. Pause the movie to write them down for later study!
Be sure to use them in conversation once you have mastered them, preferably with native speakers of English.
English learning from the Radio
The British Council broadcasts on several radio channels. Music plays on one band; the others are programmed to help you learn and improve your English.
If you are preparing for Ielts or you wish to develop your business English skills, you can visit their site to get helpful hints, take quizzes and register to learn English online.
In spite of the wealth of learning materials broadcast on the radio, generally, when one thinks about listening to the radio, music is the main idea.
You can improve your English vocabulary and increase your speaking ability by singing along with your favorite songs.
Inviting your Esl classmates to a night of karaoke will put your singing ability to the test as well as help you improve your diction and pronunciation.
Learning Language through Literature
Nowhere can you get a better picture of cultural development through the ages than by reading classic literature, and English authors abound!
As you read these classics and others, be aware that the writing includes some English words and expressions that are no longer commonly used.
These books and others can help improve your English, but you should keep an Oxford English dictionary handy. Highlight words and phrases you are not familiar with and look them up as you read.
As your fluency in English grows, you can build a list of new words from these stories to look up later.
Reading, singing and watching movies are fun ways to build your English skills. Let's look at more ways English is a fun language to learn.
ESOL Courses Can be Fun!
Playing with the English language can help learners absorb the language more than classwork alone because, the more comfortable and relaxed you are as your learn vocabulary and grammar, the greater your fluency.
Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. - Fred Rogers
Here are some games you can play that are related to learning English, to ease the stress that naturally comes with serious learning.
Letters of the Alphabet
Surely you know the letters of the alphabet, but why stop at just knowing them? Use these letters to learn more words, even about subjects such as geography, animals or business.
All this activity requires is for you to think of a word related to the subject you have chosen, for every single letter of the alphabet.
Let's say you want to learn all about animals, and wish to make use of this fun, new learning activity. Your list of words might look something like this:
Aardvark, Baboon, Cat, Dog, Elephant... and so on, all the way to Xenons, Yaks and Zebra.
If you don't know of a word for any given letter, look it up in the dictionary or on the Internet!
Of course, once you learn a new word, be sure to research all of its related words and use them all at least five times in order to remember them.
Tongue Twisters and Other Alliterations
Alliteration is a stylized form of writing in which the first syllable of a series of words have the same first consonant sound.
Can you find the alliterations in the next paragraph? (Hint: there are two of them!)
Tongue twisters are a form of alliteration that ESL teachers often use to help their students practice their spoken English. These sometimes silly sentences call for careful pronunciation of English vocabulary in order to be understood.
You can challenge your friends and fellow students to a contest: who can utter a tongue twister the fastest and clearest?
"It is a happy talent to know how to play” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
English is Spoken Worldwide
As an English learner, you are among the international ranks of those who study English as a foreign language.
Whether you are studying English for employment with a Fortune 500 company, or you would compose theses for a scientific journal; should you only wish to help those around you to learn English, rest assured that you are a member of a large, global, English-speaking community.