We live in an age of globalization. If you’re ambitious, there’s a very real chance that your professional opportunities will take you all over the world — or at least see you working with people from a patchwork of other countries and cultures.
For a truly global career, mastering Business English is an absolute must. It’s not just the official language of over 70 countries. It’s the unofficial language of the international business community too.
If you have a very active work life, finding time to develop your English skills can be a real challenge. Luckily, online Business English courses were designed for hardworking professionals like you! Here’s our pick of six of the best business English courses, and five powerful reasons to consider studying business English from home.
6 best business English courses & classes online
Broadly speaking, online business English courses fall into two categories. The first are structured around pre-recorded video lessons and online exercises. Generally, they are a little cheaper and require less commitment, but you work through them alone, without tutor feedback.
The second are based on interactive lessons via video chat software. They tend to be a little more expensive but will involve expert advice and opportunities to practice the most difficult but essential second language skill — spoken conversation.
We’ve included a mix of both in this list, to help you make an informed decision about which course might best fulfill your needs.
Best English speaking course
Of course, we’re a little biased on this one. However, 100,000 peoplelearn English onlinewith Preply every year, and the vast majority of these are learning for professional reasons, so we know what we’re talking about!
With more than 32,000 tutors to choose from, Preply is a global language learning platform that connects learners like you with your personal language tutor. What puts Preply’s Business English classes above the rest? We asked more than 500 English learners. 92% said that their Preply tutor supports and motivates them to stay on track with their learning, and 88% said that Preply helped them improve their speaking skills.
One of Preply’s biggest strengths is the variety of learning options at your fingertips. You can have 1-on-1 sessions with a tutor, connect and speak with a small group of students, or join a corporate language training program with your company.
1-on-1 Business English lessons are especially effective if you have specific goals, such as strengthening relations with an international partner or learning specialized vocabulary to expand your reach to a new market. Your business English tutor will also create a personal development plan to help you achieve your goals.
In between lessons, you can practice the vocabulary you learned on the Preply app and access a free library of practice exercises, courses, and conversation starters on business English topics. Despite its highly-personalized format, Preply 1-on-1 business English courses are also very affordable, with 1-on-1 English lessons starting from just $10 per hour.
Are you a working professional who believes your company could benefit from language training in business English? In that case, you can refer your company to pay for your lessons and business English classes for all your colleagues. Not only will hiring managers notice your drive to broaden your professional skill set, but you’ll also give your career an extra boost at no cost to you.
With Preply group classes, you can take interactive online classes with up to 6 fellow English learners on various topics. These include business skills: from answering interview questions to delivering an impressive presentation.
Learning business English in Preply’s group classes is especially beneficial if you love to connect with and meet new people. The social aspect of group classes is often a solid incentive to continue your business English course. Plus, you’ll practice speaking with tutors and students from all over the world, and learn from the mistakes and strengths of others. Preply’s group English classes are a great option if you want to combine interactive video chat lessons alongside a course, but don’t want to be tied into an expensive solution.
Whether you thrive in 1-on-1 classes or you’re better at learning in a group, Preply offers both solutions – dedicated learners might even use a mix of the two!
Best for industry-specific business English courses
Perhaps you aren’t looking for a course in Business English in general. Perhaps you’re looking for a course about the English vocabulary used in your business in particular. If so, Udemy might be just the place to find it!
Udemy is a platform where users can create courses on any topic at all, from coding to ghost-hunting. There are hundreds of courses about learning English on Udemy, and many of them are tailored to different career niches. Whether you’re a Radiologist, Hospitality Worker or Data Scientist, the chances are, someone has created a Udemy course to help people learn English for your role. Courses are structured around a series of video lessons, and exercises to complete on your phone or mobile. There are usually interactive exercises, but students shouldn’t expect feedback on their work. Reviews from previous students are available for each course (and they’re usually pretty detailed!) so you can get a good idea of what to expect before buying. Most courses are on the shorter side: the kind of thing you can complete in a day or two, or over several evenings.
If you’re looking for a prestigious certificate to put on your LinkedIn page, you might prefer to look elsewhere. After all, Udemy courses can be uploaded by anyone. That said, they tend to be very affordable and are helpful for quickly gaining new skills.
Best for university-backed business English courses
Do you like the concept of Udemy, but wish the courses were a little more rigorous? Head to Coursera! The database works in a very similar way: search for “English for Business” and take a look through the programs on offer. The selection is a lot smaller, but crucially, every course is owned and endorsed by a university. That makes it a great choice if you want to gain an impressive certificate!
Most courses on Coursera are free to access if you just want to watch the videos and study with the handouts. You only have to pay if you want a professors’ feedback on your work, or a certificate of completion. This means that you’ll never waste money on a course that doesn’t turn out to be right for you! Every program is rated by users, and some also come with an inspiring badge about “learner career outcomes” with statistics on how former students’ professional lives were affected by this course. In many cases, students report having gained a promotion or a raise thanks to courses on offer, which is great to know!
There are a few downsides to Coursera. Most importantly, there aren’t very many specialist Business English courses available. You’ll have to be satisfied with a general Business English course, rather than one specialized to your industry. Secondly, most courses are taught with pre-recorded video lectures, so there’s very little chance to practice your spoken English before trying it out in your office! Finally, it is quite difficult to find information about how expensive Coursera courses are before committing — which usually means that the price might come as a shock!
4. EF English Live
Best for business learning English in large groups
Do you have a lot of time and money to support your Business English education? If so, EF English Live is an impressive option to consider.
With a premium plan, students are offered a brilliant support package to achieve their English fluency goals. There’s an online video course with exercises and assignments, and a 24-hour support hotline if you get stuck on a question. You can also attend video chat group classes over, which, very helpfully, you don’t have to book in advance! Classes are held every half hour, 24 hours per day, so you can hop on a call whenever your free time comes up. There’s also the option to book additional 1-on-1 classes over Skype.
EF English Live combines great flexibility with regular opportunities for feedback from professional tutors. However, this gold standard service has a price tag to match: a basic plan starts from $49 per month. This package offers up to eight group classes per month, and no private ones. To see fast progress, most students will need a premium package with additional private lessons. A price scale for this is only available upon request.
5.The British Council’s Business English courses
Best course for business English basics
If you’re teaching yourself English, you have probably already come across the free resources offered by the British Council’s website and YouTube channel. They are one of the world’s leading companies for ESL teaching and run teaching programs on every continent. Their website offers a selection of different courses for Business English learners at a variety of price points. Whether you’d prefer to have 1-on-1 Skype lessons, or complete a short video course on your own, it’s worth exploring their options.
The British Council offers a regularly changing selection of short online courses, one or two of which are always to do with Business English. They’re refreshed every few months, so you’ll be gaining highly relevant, up-to-date language skills.
The British Council also offers more intensive online courses from time to time, and 1-on-1 Skype tutoring in Business English. A package of 10 half-hour lessons costs £149 GBP. Video-chat English lessons are a highly efficient way to learn, but it’s not the most cost-effective on the market… we know a service where you can find an expert Business English tutor from $5 per hour!
If you choose a course with the British Council, you should naturally expect to learn UK English rather than the US variant. The fact that their courses change so often can be a little annoying too — they might not have what you need, when you need it. That said, if you do find something there that suits your needs, a certificate from the British Council will certainly impress employers.
6. Wall Street English
Best intensive business English course
Wall Street English offers a very well-structured online Business English course. The company is best known as a chain of traditional, in-person language schools, but has recently transferred materials online in response to the pandemic. If you like the idea of learning within the tried-and-tested structure of a traditional language school, but need the flexibility of an online course for logistical reasons, Wall Street English might be for you.
Wall Street English offers a course called Market Leader, which is available as a corporate training program for a whole team of learners, or for individuals like you. It’s taught with 90-minute online video chat classes with an average of three students per (virtual) classroom. Lessons cover negotiation, acquisitions and mergers, and telephone skills, among other useful topics. Another nice touch is that classes often use authentic business news articles. Students of Wall Street English also gain access to the Financial Times website for free.
Although it’s designed to be flexible, Wall Street English’s Business English course is very high commitment. Students are expected to devote a minimum of four hours per week, so if you can’t afford that time, you might want to look elsewhere. It’s also on the very expensive side, with information about the pricing model only available on request.
5 Ways an online business English course can benefit your career
More and more professionals are spending their evenings with online business English courses, and there are some good reasons why. These courses can help you…
1. Boost your salary
Let’s be honest: the top reason to learn business English is that it pays off. English is very often used as the language of international business, so it’s not a surprise that English speakers tend to earn more. In fact, according to one study, learning English boosts a person’s average annual income by 18% percent. Completely master the language, and that figure increases to 30%!
If you’re seeking financial success through an international career, you’d be crazy not to work on your business English skills. If you can speak great business English, your skills become available to some of the world’s biggest brands, and most global organizations. That means that your existing hard skills can take you even further! English is one of the few skills that can help you level up your opportunities to grow across almost every industry.
2. Achieve a qualification that will open doors
Perhaps you’re already pretty confident in your English skills. You might have friends that you only speak to in English, or even have worked in an English-speaking environment before. You could be almost certain that if you tested your English communication skills, they’d be around C1 level. Despite all of that, a business English course might still be valuable to you. A certificate to say you’ve completed a respected course could be the ticket to your next great opportunity!
Some large global companies require candidates to hold a certificate of English proficiency before they will consider them for a role. This is also true of thousands of Masters degrees and MBA programmes. If you speak English well, but don’t have a qualification to prove it, it’s best not to wait until this becomes an issue for you. If you’ve got the time, earn that certificate now to set yourself up for future success.
Gaining a qualification in business communication won’t just tick a box. It will also show your willingness to work hard beyond the responsibilities of your job. It signifies that you’re a dedicated professional, someone who works on your employability without being prompted — the kind of person a business should invest in. Even in the very unlikely case that you don’t gain any new skills at all, a business English certificate might still give you the edge over the competition.
3. Focus on just the skills you need
Perfecting your skills in a second language is a long process — some would say a never-ending one. If you want to improve your English, you might be tempted to take a course to help you move up a whole CEFR level. Whilst study time is never wasted, this can be an inefficient approach for busy professionals. For much faster results, narrow your focus.
If you choose a course that is designed specifically for business English users, you will be able to apply what you learn much quicker, and are more likely to feel benefits from your hard work day-to-day. There are specialist business English courses available for almost every industry, from accounting to engineering. That means you can learn the official business English vocabulary required for your industry. For many office workers, simply studying common office phrases will improve their conversational fluency at work. After all, no-one at work is judging you on your overall English proficiency — they’ll be judging you on how fluently you use language in your field.
A business English course can also help you improve functional vocabulary, like some of these helpful phrases:
4. Study in a flexible way
Online business English courses were designed for people living the 9-to-5 grind. People with high motivation for learning, but limited study time, and a need to gain the specific language tools required to grow professionally. They are designed to fit around the hectic lifestyle of a motivated professional — the kind of person who hits the gym before work, looks after their kids in the evening, and might still find half an hour of time to study around that.
For those with active work lives, online business courses provide much greater flexibility than traditional English classes. You can work through an online English course from wherever you are, as long as there’s a wifi connection. There’s also reduced time pressure: instead of needing to plan your evenings around attending a class or two every week, you can take the course at your own pace. You can work whenever you have the time and energy: evenings, weekends, early mornings or lunch breaks. These courses are tailor-made to fit around a professional’s lifestyle.
5. Open up opportunities for a global career
If you’re seeking a global career, fluent command of business English is absolutely essential. To become an international leader in your field, you’ll almost certainly needat least intermediate level English skills. Not having the specific English language skills you need for your industry will probably hold you back, even if you’re a real expert. Don’t let the English language put a ceiling on your career! Find an online business English course and take control.
It’s not just that gaining English skills will open up opportunities at US companies. Many multinationals from places where English isn’t an official language still adopt it as the primary language of communication. Think of Nokia, from Finland, Airbus, from France, or SAP, from Germany. With improved business English skills, there’s nothing to stop you from finding a job almost anywhere in the world. The opportunities will be almost endless.
Conclusion: finding a course to suit your needs
Taking an online Business English course will almost certainly benefit your career. The best way to choose a course is to decide which benefit is most important to you.
Are you looking for an impressive business English certification from a prestigious language school for your LinkedIn page? A short primer on the business English vocabulary in your field? Or to practice presentation skills or email writing? Decide your priority, and look for the option that best delivers on it.