What Do Students Learn In A Business English Course? IntroductionI started this research out


I started this research out of my own curiosity. I was curious as to what business English would include So I scoured my local libraries, and came up with just one book, titled arron´s ESL Guide to American Business English. This paper summarizes the material that students would learn in a course based on this book. In our course material, business English was described as a lot of grammar and vocabulary, but focused on the paticular needs of the students. The research I did led down a different avenue, into more business protocols. So this short paper describes that aspect of content, which won´t apply to every business English situation. Between the class material and the ook, I feel much less intimidated by the topic!

Business English helps the future businessperson, employee, or entrepreneur become familiar with the customs, written communication and etiquette of the business world in English-speaking countries. It gves the student a foundation in how to address a wide variety of situations which may arise, from sending invitations to an event, writing press releases, writing sales information, and general correspondence. This more advanced aspect of English assumesa solid working knowledge of the language, and covers grammar and structures which are important for the business person to master. These may include the fundamentals of grammar and sentence structure to the use of quotations and titles for addressing dinitaries.


There is a wide range of types of letters utilized in the business world. These include the following formal communications, which represent areas where the business interacts with its customers, or the public.

-Letters of inquiry

-Iquiry replies


-Order acknowledgements


-Delayed delivery letters

-Refusal letters

-Letters of congratulations

-Letters of condolence

-Letters of appreciation


-Formal Announcements

-Sales letters:

oDirect mail letters

oetail sales letters

oSales promotions letters

-Public relations letters

-News releases

-Letters of complaint

-Complaint responses

-Letters related to credit

-Collection letters

Besides the above formal communications, there are several in-house forms of ommunication. Some are formal, and some are less formal:

-Memos, or informal reports -Pre-printed reports, such as travel reports -Formal reports, which may include several parts (title page, contents, introduction, summery, conclusion, recommendations) -Proposals - Meeting minutes

In addition to the company´s business, the job applicant needs to be familiar with the following:

-Letters of application

-Reference letter

-Letters of recommendation

-Letters of introduction

-Letters declining a job offr

-Letter of resignation

This is quite a body of information for someone new to the English-speaking business culture! However, I imagine that many cultures use at least some of the above.

In American business English, one should maintain a natural tne, and refrain from trying to sound too "businesslike", as in adding extra words which aren´t needed (herein, heretofore, etc.) This only shows the person´s inexperience. Extra words can also make a letter difficult to understand. The advice from this esource is to say things in a natural way.

Letters should be courteous, tactful, and have a positive outlook. Even if the purpose is unpleasant, it is important that the correspondence be courteous and tactful. This helps to build and sustain the goo will of the reader, and, hopefully maintain the best possible relationship with the customer or potential customer.

Business letters should be well organized. It is a good habit for students to plan ahead, and jot down the points they wish to make, alog with any facts, reasons or explanations which might be useful.

Reports deliver information to others in a formal manner. They may be financial reports, progress reports, quarterly reports. Proposals formally present well-developed ideas for considertion by the appropriate group.

Finally, business English helps the student to become aware of customs to follow. These include official business hours, the concept of promptness, how to do introductions, awareness of body language, use of gratuities, aboos related to religion, politics, humor and gender relations.

Through this material, and an emphasis on grammar for the written language, business English students should find themselves well prepared for most situations they might encounter in the usiness world.

Resource: Barron´s ESL Guide to American Business English by Andrea B.

Geffner. Copyright 1998 by Barron´s Educational Se