You may feel that you still have improvements to make in your English – business-focussed or English in general – in order to be fully successful at work. However, it’s not easy having a stressful job (or studying to get one) and having the time you need to dedicate to improving your English language skills.
But fear not, because there are actually a number of easy (and free) ways you can improve your English abilities without committing a lot of additional time and resources to the objective.
Here are five simple ways you can improve your business English while at the same time maintaining maximum productivity, and keeping costs to a minimum.
Seek help from those around you
If you are fortunate enough to already have a job working with native English speakers, then this is a golden opportunity and resource for you to take advantage of. But here’s the thing: you really do need to be proactive in taking advantage.
There are multiple ways your colleagues can help you: from proofreading work to offering corrections to your grammar and pronunciation. But you must ask them to help because no one will volunteer this assistance. Not because they are unhelpful, but because it would be embarrassing for most people to offer help when it could be interpreted as a suggestion that your English is anything but perfect. You know it isn’t, but others don’t want to be critical, especially if their own second language skills leave a lot to be desired (and let’s face it, most native English speakers are hopeless at speaking a second language).
So actively seek out those colleagues or friends who would be happy to assist you in your objective to improve your English. You need feedback, and lots of it, to help you along the way.
Keep a record
Most people do not follow this advice, but it really is a mistake. Language comes at us so thick and fast that it is impossible to retain all of the information we receive on a daily basis, and this is especially true when you are immersed in the language when living in an English-speaking country.
So give yourself a chance to retain what you are learning by writing things down that are relevant and important to you, from little grammar rules that had previously passed you by to quirky pronunciation (and let’s face it, there are plenty of English words that are pronounced nothing like they are written) and then new vocabulary.
Vocabulary is a particular challenge because there are just so many words and expressions: how can you ever hope to remember them all (and use them)? But that’s the thing, you don’t need all of them. That’s why you have to be selective about the words you want to remember, and this little checklist should help:
· Is the word useful for your day-to-day life?
That’s it! It’s not much of a checklist, is it? Because the only consideration you need is whether or not you are ever going to need that word. If the answer is ‘yes’, then write that word down somewhere, and give an example sentence (In English) of that word in use.
You can store this information in a little paper book, or on an online file on your phone, for example. All that matters is that you have easy access, and you review the language you include often. And find ways to use that word, both in verbal and written communication, as often as you can/
Use an online grammar and spelling assistant
If you are already working or studying in English, you know exactly how much of a challenge it is to write grammatically correct sentences and to spell everything the way it should be. That’s why it’s important to ask colleagues to help you proofread. But before that, you should be availing of a tool that helps you produce the language correctly in the first place.
Linguix offers an AI-assisted writing tool that can help you produce the levels of English you need to meet your objectives. There are also templates to help you get started with items such as resumes, blog posts or marketing literature.
And as you make grammatical or spelling mistakes, Linguix offers you the solutions you need to produce a quality of English that you can be proud of. There is a free version of the tool that can be downloaded as an extension to Chrome, or a premium plan that offers even more useful assistance.
Use a dictionary
Dictionaries, online or otherwise, seem to have fallen out of fashion, but no self-respecting writer would ever embark on a piece of written work without a trusty dictionary nearby, and neither should you.
Because dictionaries offer so much more than a list of words. They offer synonyms and antonyms, example sentences, and collocations (word partners to that particular word). In short, dictionaries contain a wealth of useful information and are a learning aid that you should continue to avail of long into your relationship with English.
And access media and entertainment
It’s perfectly understandable that if English is not your other tongue, then by the time you have spent a whole day conversing and writing in it, you feel mentally exhausted. In fact, perhaps the last thing you then want to do is spend your leisure time with the language too.
That’s totally natural, but the fact is, full immersion truly works. So that means when it’s time to switch off from work and/or study and entertain yourself, English must still be the priority.
So, do all of the things you would normally do, but do them in English. Here are just some suggestions:
· Watch movies and TV series in English (with English subtitles)
· Read books, magazines, online sites and newspapers in English
· Listen to podcasts, audiobooks and the radio in English
· Play video games in English-speaking gaming forums
From a business English perspective, simply pursue TV series, books, articles and podcasts that focus on business topics. And follow things outside of your niche too, as you are probably already well-versed in the narrow vocabulary that you need to do your job.
And that’s it! Five simple ways to expand your English abilities without breaking the bank or changing your routine.