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7 Ways to Learn Professional English by Living Your Life

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There are a number of things you can do in your daily life to make professional English a part of your routine.


The Difference Between Professional and Casual English

Do not worry if you’ve been learning “regular” English all this time—you need to know basic English reading, writing and speaking skills to learn business English well. The basics of English are the same whether you are talking about the great movie you saw yesterday or the important meeting you have coming up.

The differences are found in the vocabulary and topics of conversation. Professional English is focused on communicating clearly in a business setting, with co-workers, customers, your boss or anyone else related to work.

Knowing professional English really means knowing how to make phone calls, write reports, engage during meetings and be a part of the everyday office routine.

You will also need to know how to speak about the area of expertise of your company in English. In other words, if you work in a law company, you might need to speak about law in English.

There are ways to make professional English part of your everyday life, so you can be ready to apply your skills to your career.



1. Focus on a profession

“Professional” is a catch-all category. That means it is a very general term that includes many different professions.

Professional English classes and courses cover the basic ideas, topics and vocabulary that you will need to know in any business setting. 

However, depending on where you want to work, you are definitely going to need some specialized vocabulary in addition to your general business English.

To make sure that you can actually use your English skills in the real world, use your time outside classes to learn professional English that is relevant to your industry. The vocabulary you learn, the news you read and every other part of your learning should have your industry in mind. This will make you even more prepared for a job in the field!


2. Use authentic videos to see business English in action

Fortunately for the language learners out there, we live in a very digital age. That means there’s tons of content on the internet to help you learn business English. The first step is just to go and do a Google search for “business English videos” and see what’s available and what you like. 

A big step forward, however, is when you start consuming content designed for native English speakers. 

Many news outlet websites have a business section with videos, so that’s a good place to start. Here are some examples:

Business News on CNN

Business, Financial & Economic News on the Wall Street Journal

Economy and finance news from a German perspective—DW


3. Listen to the radio

Wait, the radio still exists? Yes! Even in an age of computers, streaming services and TVs, the radio is still one of the best places to get your news and information on the go.

There are many news and talk shows on the radio, which you can listen to on the way to work or school or while you are doing other things around the house. Listening to news or industry talk shows can expose you to professional English, as well as to opinions and ideas about things that are happening in the business world.

The radio has also learned to work together with the internet to be heard anywhere you live! Many radio websites stream their current program. If you cannot access the station that way, you can use a service like Tunein, which lets you listen to radio stations from anywhere in the world.

Some great general business talk and news shows are the “Bloomberg Radio”“The Larry Kudlow Show” and many others that you can find here.


4. Always be listening

And while we’re on the subject of listening…always have your ears open!

If you already work in a place where people speak English, listen to the language they use. Listen during meetings or in lunch outings. Just listening to the language will help you learn it better. Pay close attention to the words they use, when they use them and how the use them. Listen to accents. Listen to jokes, slang, idioms, phrases and anything else that you hear people saying.

If you do not understand something, ask what it means. Do not feel shy!

If you do not work in an English-speaking environment, visit one! Find a place where people from your profession of industry go, and listen to them speaking. If it is a public place, you can even introduce yourself, explain that you are learning business English and ask them if they’d mind if you just sit and listen to them talk. You might make a connection that way, too!


5. Mix business English with regular English

Even if you are learning professional English, you might still be learning regular English as well. The two do not have to be separate! You can easily learn both at the same time. Learn things in pairs, combining your casual English learning and vocabulary with the professional version of it.

For example, if you are learning words related to shopping, you can also learn words related to business expenses.

"A receipt" is called an "invoice" in the business world. The store you just bought pants at is a "retailer", which buys the pants in large numbers from a "wholesaler". You wanted to buy more things, but you have a low balance in your bank account. If you were on a business-related shopping trip, you would have called your low balance a "small budget".

Let the business and the casual worlds of English join together into one!


6. Use a social media aggregator

A social media aggregator combines different social media websites and information into one convenient place.

Services like TweetDeck and Hootsuite let you customize what you see in your social media stream. You can watch people having a conversation on a specific topic on Twitter, or see updates about a business or industry and what people are saying about it.

After you set up an account for any of these services, you can follow the conversations on your topic of interest. Once you feel confident enough, join in! Social media is a public conversation that anyone can contribute to. Leave a comment, send a reply tweet and you will be getting great practice for your professional English.


7. Go face to face

Nothing beats real conversations and meeting people in person!

Talk to people who work in the business you are interested in, visit meetings or special events open to the public, and just get yourself out there! You will be getting practice, but you will also be networking—that is, meeting people who might be able to help you in your career one day in the future.

If you are nervous about your level of English, and it is preventing you from joining conversations, tell people that you are still learning. Most people will be happy to help, slow down, or explain things if they know you are learning.

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