Business English and English proficiency exams

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Mount Everest
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Business English and English proficiency exams

Postby Mount Everest » Sat Feb 09, 2019 3:53 pm

Business English

What are the best ways to study Business English when you don’t live in an English speaking country, let alone work in a company where they speak Business English?

I’d like to apply for companies where I will need to use English either with superiors or clients. They don’t specify the level, but just wrote like this: "English: Business level". I have no idea what is the definition of business level. Perhaps it is somewhere between B2/C1?

Anyway, what are the Business English proficiency exams that are more popular and recognized in many countries? I only know about BEC and Bulats. Has anybody here taken either BEC Higher or Bulats? How did your employer evaluate it or your English skills? As for where I live, everything seems to be about certificates. If you don’t follow this protocol, it is likely they will kick you out before getting into the interview process.

Are there any TV series that could help me to learn, study or review Business English in a not very traditional (text)book-ish way?! For example, I have heard that House of Cards and "the Office" are TV shows that have settings where the actors will emulate the Business English. I have watched "IT crowd" and perhaps it sort of emulates Business English as well.


I need to sit for TOEIC L&R and get 900 points, at least. Technically speaking, 945 (out of 990) would be the minimum, but 900 would still be reasonable for me to apply for some specific jobs.

What and how do you recommend me to study for TOEIC? Obviously, at some point I need to take their official books published by ETS as well as other books with mock exams to get used to the type of exercises, vocabulary and time. However, I'd like to improve my overall English while preparing for TOEIC. I don't want to solely focus on both listening and reading skills, but neglect writing and speaking skills.

There are 10 dates around the year and I could take as many as my money and time allow. However, I want to sit for the exam when I feel more prepared and closed to get 945 (900, at least) points, because I could use the money to apply for other English proficiency exams or eventually some other languages' exams.
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Re: Business English and English proficiency exams

Postby Skynet » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:17 pm

Mount Everest wrote:Business English

* = currently watch/read daily
** = currently read weekly
~ = formerly watched/read

You must watch the following:

Terrestrial Stations: Bloomberg*, CNBC*, Fox Business*, SkyNews Business~ and Business News Network~
Web: Reuters Business*, Business Insider~, Forbes~ and Barron's~
Warning: Functional human beings do not talk/act the way Jim Cramer does on CNBC's Mad Money.

You must read the following:

Harvard Business Review**, Bloomberg Businessweek**, The Economist**, Bloomberg Pursuits**, The Financial Times*, Barron's~ and The Wall Street Journal*

Mount Everest wrote:Are there any TV series that could help me to learn, study or review Business English in a not very traditional (text)book-ish way?!

Sorry, the list is short because I have not watched a single episode of any TV show since 2017:

Mad Men (is the best show that I have ever watched!)
Billions (missed s3 in 2018)
Million Dollar Listing (haven't watched it since Dec 2017)

Mount Everest wrote: I have no idea what is the definition of business level. Perhaps it is somewhere between B2/C1?

I do not think that one can reach 'business level' even at C2 competency because the vocabulary required is sector-specific. Immersing yourself in the aforementioned content will give you more than ample business-related vocabulary.

I cannot comment on any of the Cambridge and ETS exams that you inquired on.
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Re: Business English and English proficiency exams

Postby Speakeasy » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:58 pm

I concur with all of Skynet’s recommendations. Nevertheless, irrespective of the language used in the work environment, the vocabulary used in “business communications” tends to be industry-and-company specific. The comments below were in response to an almost identical question covering business communications in French. In my experience, the issues are the same …

Speakeasy wrote:
kamiel wrote: ... I prefer real conversations to French audio courses, as I think the former are more authentic ...
As an addendum to my first response, I would say that "real conversations" may be (or may seem to be) "more authentic" than French Business Courses, but it all depends on what is being discussed, by whom, and in what context. To elaborate at little, ...

I worked for over 25 years, in Quebec, for a multi-national company having operations in over 60 countries. I began my career with this company in the Finance department of a production plant, I transferred to the Production department, and I finished by career at the company's Head Office in a production/technical/financial capacity in the Sales & Marketing department. With the exception of the occasional telephone discussion in English with someone from either the United States or Europe, the overwhelming portion of my "business discussions", or any other discussions for that matter, took place in French only.

Now then, it would be reasonable to assume that my "business discussions" in the various capacities in which I served would have been heavily-laden with "business jargon" and, to a limited extent, I would have to admit that they were. However, I would adjust the "business jargon assumption" by saying that much of my "business discussions" involved the use of vocabulary which was very specific to the industry in which my employer operated. Yes, there existed a common vocabulary related to the notions of customer orders and invoicing, production, pricing, profit analysis, and so forth. However, these concepts tended to be taken-for-granted and existed as a "backdrop" whereas the "business discussions" (and I was involved in them on a daily basis at the company's Head Office) were very heavily-laden with terminology which was unique to the industry.

I make mention of my own experience in "French-language Business Discussions" both in support of your assertion that they are "more authentic" and as a reminder that participants in such discussions may use vocabulary which is unique to their industry and which is useful in their own particular context, but which may not be of any use in another context. For this reason, with a view to familiarising yourself with the "common business jargon", I would encourage you to study a French Business Course and I would suggest that you seek out videos wherein the "business discussions" take place in a context that you are likely to encounter (I say this in full knowledge that locating such videos will not be easy).

rdearman wrote:French like English in business is almost overwhelmingly industry specific. For example in Retail your going to have things like WSSI (Weekly Sales & Stock Intake), Forwarders, Replen, anchor tenant, EPOS, ASN's, EDI, POS, EAN, SKU's, Gondolas, GMROII, LP (Loss Prevention), ERP, CRM, and many many more!

So realistically other than basic stuff like meetings, agenda, and other things you'll probably need to look to your own industry for specific terms. Your colleagues might be your best source of information.

On a cheerier note, I would say that the “business communication” described above refers to the “jargon” which is unique to any field of human activity and which only “insiders” are familiar with. It seems very unlikely to me that this type of insider knowledge would ever appear on a business communications examination.

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Mount Everest
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Re: Business English and English proficiency exams

Postby Mount Everest » Thu Feb 14, 2019 1:29 am

Thank you guys for the comments! :)
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