In the May/June issue of Business Spotlight, we've collected more than 50 tips for improving your business English from our regular Business Spotlight authors, our in-house staff and leading business English trainers. Here, you can read 13 of these tips.
Choose a subject you enjoy and record yourself talking about it for a minute, for example on your smartphone. Listen to it and try to identify errors or problems with fluencyfließendes Sprechenfluency. Now repeat the exercise a few times. You’ll be amazederstauntamazed by your improvement.
The main challengeHerausforderungchallenge for many non-native speakers is not of a linguistic nature — it’s that they lack confidence. Be positive about what you can say, not negative about what you can’t say. See your language glass as half full, not half empty. And measure your performance against the level you need for your job, not against other people.
Forget your music playlist while exercising and listen to a podcast. It’s a great way to use your spare timeFreizeitspare time. Also, learning during physical activity can improve language retentionBeibehaltung; hier: Einprägungretention.
Listening, writing and speaking are complementary. When listening to an audiobook or the news in English, listen and write down unfamiliar words. Look them up and find out how they are used. Then, to help you remember them, say them out loud to yourself.
Read aloud to yourself whenever the situation allows it.
Read fictionBelletristikfiction that is gradedeingestuftgraded to just below your current language level, so that you can read without strainAnstrengungstrain. The combination of dialogue and proseProsaprose develops your feel for grammar and helps you notice the difference between spoken and written English.
Have you noticed how many requests and responses come up again and again in email after email? When you read a particularly clear and concisekurzgefasst, griffigconcise sentence or phrase, to copy and paste sth.etw. kopieren und einfügencopy and paste it into a draftEntwurfdraft email for future use. Copy what your colleagues, clients and friends do — but only the clever ones.
Make a list of errors that you keep making. Every time you write something, refer back to the list and check again. The same errors will to pop upauftauchenpop up again and again, but after a while, you will become so aware of them that you can correct them yourself.
Dictionaries for specific purposes are a rich source of the technical termFachbegrifftechnical terms you need for your work in a particular sector, whether you are a translator, a secretary or in charge of a particular area of your company. However, even the best dictionaries have their limits, as words are often not given in context. So try to get hold of original printed material in English — such as brochureProspekt, Broschürebrochures, manualHandbuchmanuals, instructions, etc. — relating to the sector you work in. Or surf the internet for English websites of companies that do business in your sector and look for words that may be important to know.
Since you're staring at screens all day anyway: switch the system language of your electronic deviceGerätdevices to English and also change the settings for apps you frequently use. You'll pick up lots of useful vocabulary!
Too many international meetings in English are inefficient because not everyone understands what has been said, and they don’t speak upsich äußernspeak up. So check and to clarify sth.etw. klärenclarify your understanding regularly. This will not only help you to improve your English, it should also improve your meeting outcomeErgebnisoutcomes.
For a change, practise starting in the middle of your presentation or ask a colleague to make you begin after a certain slideFolieslide number. This will make you more flexible and will lessen the chance of you “to freezeerstarren; hier: (komplett) aus dem Takt geratenfreezing” if you are interrupted.
Some stereotypes are accuratezutreffendaccurate: the British really do break the ice by talking about the weather. When arriving at a meeting, you should also be prepared to talk about the quality of your journey by to brush up on sth.etw. auffrischenbrushing up on transport-related vocabulary: “overcrowded”, “cancelled again” and “amazinglyerstaunlicherweiseamazingly, on timepünktlichon time” are some terms that should help.