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Core Functional Skills in Business English.

Wanting to improve your Business English is an understandable goal that many people have, but knowing exactly how to do that, or what exactly to focus on to make meaningful progress isn't always so clear.

I have written a list of what I consider to be the most relevant Business English skills. For each, ask yourself whether you can confidently perform this skill, or whether it is something that you would benefit from working on - every single skill can be adapted towards your own unique needs as part of a series of lessons, so just ask if you would like to discuss this further.

Introducing yourself and your company: First impressions matter, and you should be able introduce yourself confidently and clearly. This would be both in the form of a longer introduction where the ability to coherently structure speech around your current role, and relevant past experiences is fundamental. and also in the form of an 'elevator pitch', i.e. a very brief introduction that would also work at the start of meetings.

Writing emails: You can quickly structure an email in English with a coherent and appropriate choice of language, tone and content, as well as the correct address and sign-off. Where possible, you would have suitable templates for typical emails.

Taking part in meetings and discussions: You are able to take part in meetings in English by being prepared for the meeting, the possible content of the meeting and with your potential contribution. You can also manage the dynamic of interjecting or disagreeing in a group setting.

Making small talk: You are able to start conversations with colleagues and co-workers in a range of different dynamics, including being culturally sensitive to appropriate topics.

Planning and proposal: You are able to express future plans and proposals using the relevant future tenses, conditional structures and expressions of possibility and timescale.

Feedback and Review: You are able to reflect on the outcomes of certain actions using appropriate grammatical structures and give constructive feedback that is meaningful and culturally sensitive.

Giving presentations: You can give presentations in varying lengths on relevant topics with appropriate structure and vocal skills to ensure that the message and intended information is understood by the listener. You are also able to respond appropriately to potential questions about the presented topic.

Giving an update: You can give a clear update (progress) report, this includes being able to clearly communicate overlapping and interrelated actions that have occurred, are occurring or will occur in the past, present and future and link them to outcomes that will also be relevant in the past, present and future.

Responding to a complaint: You can respond appropriately to a complaint, this includes being able to apologise authentically. You are able to use a range of language that mitigates the complaint, and offers a resolution to the situation.

Complaining: You are able to make a complaint about something, identifying the reason for the complaint, expressing dissatisfaction convincingly and where necessary requesting an appropriate remedy.

Delegating responsibility: You are able to make requests of other people, ask people to take on work, instruct people to do work and explain why this is necessary in a way that is clear and motivating.

Setting boundaries and saying "no": You are able to manage a work life balance by setting appropriate boundaries in the workplace, this includes saying "no" in a diplomatic way.

Responding under pressure: You are able to negotiate times when you are are unable to either process a lot of information you are being presented with, or cannot answer a questions that are put to you.

Diplomacy: The student is able to negotiate difficult situations in the workplace – challenging discrimination, addressing difficult behaviour, cultural differences, self protection/mental health.

Negotiation: You are able to negotiate in relevant situations to your job; for example this might be the price of an item, a deadline, a request for annual leave etc etc.

The list is never complete, so I will add any new skills that come up...


Please get in contact if you would like to discuss how I can help you to master any of these skills, and have a look in the section here for materials that relate to these functional skills.

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