In English speaking countries, language that is more formal is often used when conducting business. Knowing when to use formal tones and when a more informal approach is acceptable can make the difference in business outcomes. Any program offering spoken English training for working professionals should be able to highlight the differences required for speaking English in business settings. In business, a poorly worded statement or question can easily cause unnecessary difficulties and misunderstandings. This can jeopardize business dealings, so it is important to have a solid grasp of the more formal tone business generally requires.

The differences between written English and spoken English training for working professionals is more slight than simple conversational English. The primary difference will be elements that relate to business correspondence. Students studying written English must concentrate on proper grammar and spelling for business letters, memos, and marketing materials. However, spoken English for businesses and professionals should focus on key areas such as formal introductions, requests and invitations, telephone etiquette, business vocabulary (such as for presentations and meetings,) and specific phrases relative to the professionals’ industry. Proper forms of address and appropriate etiquette are of primary concern for business professionals.

While the focus of spoken English training for working professionals and business owners is formal speech, conversational English is also important. English-speaking business environments are more formal, but informal conversation is still expected, even encouraged at business functions. Many English-speaking countries prefer to do business on a more personal level, at least in terms of getting to know the people behind the businesses with whom they work. As such, informal conversation is an important aspect of business English training. In short, one must learn to formally present a business persona, and then ease into a more personable discussion over time.

It is suggested that students of spoken English training for working professionals have a strong understanding of formal business English, more so than informal, conversational English. English-speaking business people are more forgiving of an overly stiff and formal business conversationalist than they are for a professional who is overly informal. For this reason, students should seek instruction from a program experienced with the needs and customs of English-speaking businesses and executives. These instructors can provide students with insight and experience to help guide when formal English should be used and when informal English is acceptable. The outcome of business interactions may depend on it.

About the Author

Grace Rimando graduated in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication. She is currently working at TalktoCanada as the Assistant to the Programs Manager

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