Learning English for Business Communication Effectively 

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English is considered the language of business. Due to its number of users worldwide and uncontested geographical reach, it’s not difficult to see why. For businesses looking to expand internationally or to strengthen their trade in the global market, learning Business English is tantamount to success. Furthermore, people who seek to build careers in these industries won’t get far without strong English communication skills. There’s a wide range of effective ways to learn and enhance professional English vocabulary and knowledge. First, it’s imperative to know and understand its significance to the corporate world. After getting a clear sense of the role of Business English in global success, you can continue towards the nitty-gritty of mastering English language skills for your business or career.

The Importance of English for Global Business Communications

Business English has become an essential part of doing business around the world. More companies are expanding into new markets and this creates a huge demand for workers who can communicate effectively in English. By 2050, there could be more than 1 billion international migrant workers, an estimate that doesn’t even include people who work remotely. These numbers are staggering and it’s obvious that Business English is necessary if you hope to succeed in international trade. The bare minimum is the ability to write basic emails, proposals, and copy. But to sustain success and survive the current level of global competition, effective communication includes more intricate and advanced skills.

Industry leaders identify strong English Communication Skills among their most important attributes for business success today.

According to industry leaders, Business English is crucial to a multinational company’s success. For that reason, a solid aptitude in this subject should take precedence.

An American Chamber of Commerce survey revealed that nearly half of companies believe Business English writing abilities are among the top 3 things they seek in an applicant. This is mirrored by a National Association of Colleges and Employers survey that discovered that 73% of businesses desire candidates with the same skill set, along with leadership and teamwork. The Association of American Colleges and Universities has similar findings, with 75% of organizations wanting applicants with an identical set of talents.

If you’re a business owner aiming for a global reach, new hires with these skills will work in your favor. Likewise, if you desire a career in an international industry, acquiring and developing these skills will lead to success.

The Expanding Importance of Communicating in English for Business in the World Today

With over 1.5 billion people speaking English around the world, it stands to reason that today’s globalized economy has adopted English as the lingua franca or bridge language of commerce. Understandably, an adeptness in professional English is a major quality in any trade’s success. More and more companies have started imposing an English-language policy. English has turned into the chief language to communicate with their staff and customers, no matter what field of expertise. As a result, demand for workers skilled in Business English will continue to rise in the coming decades.

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The Vital Importance of English for Business Communications in Global Trade, Commerce, and Supply Chain Logistics:

The global economy has seen a momentous upsurge in the following:

  • International supply chains.
  • Companies opening offices abroad.
  • Businesses outsourcing services to other countries.
  • Multinational corporations expanding into new markets.

Consequently, high demand for multilingual and foreign workers followed. This exponential increase of jobs that require Business English proficiency will continue. With the current trajectory of these industries, the need for English in business communications won’t diminish anytime soon.

Business English in Non-English Speaking Countries Continues to Increase in Importance

Currently, 55 non-native English-speaking countries recognize English as a second official language. It’s become common for citizens of these countries to achieve the same fluency as native English speakers, and in some cases exceed it. Equally, the ESL industry in Asian countries like South Korea, Japan, China, Thailand, and Vietnam is a multi-million-dollar mammoth. East and Southeast Asian English language learners give much importance to their education, paying premium costs for supplemental courses in their respective countries. Some live overseas for months at a time, or years even, to study the language and experience cultural immersion. Those who can afford to matriculate in Western countries prepare extensively for standardized tests to qualify for enrollment. That this has been happening for decades with no signs of slowing down.

Business English Level Tests That Determine Fluency

Business English comprises spoken and written language used in business contexts. It covers the internal and external mechanisms of business and office settings, from administrative correspondence to industry-specific lexicons such as vocabulary used in technical communication.

One of the most recognized assessment tests for Business English levels is Cambridge English’s Business English Certificate (BEC). This test is recognized by over 25,000 universities, employers, and governments around the world.

The test has 3 levels:

  • (B1) Business Preliminary – A qualification that shows employers that you have a good grasp of Business English for practical, everyday English in business situations.
  • (B2) Business Vantage – An exam that indicates your readiness in working successfully in global businesses. This is a great help to get ahead in your career as it paves the way for promotions and better opportunities.
  • (C1) Business Higher – An assessment that specifies an advanced level of Business English. This quantifies your skills as effective for senior-level positions in international businesses.
employees communicating

Primary Types of Business Communication

There are 2 primary types of Business Communication. The first one happens internally or within employees of the company, and the other occurs externally, which is the interaction between a business and its customers.

Internal business communication

Internal business communications can be divided into 3 types:

1. Upward communication

As suggested by its name, this type of internal communication goes up the business hierarchy. Directly reporting with a manager falls under this type. Another example is when the manager interacts with higher-level executives.

One downside to this type of communication is the influence of power dynamics. For example, entry-level employees don’t often feel comfortable communicating openly or honestly with their bosses. Another disadvantage is having limited access to their superiors.

However, establishing proper communication channels can enrich employee engagement. More importantly, it forms an open, inclusive and honest company culture.

2. Downward Communication

The opposite of upward communication, so these two types should work in balance. Downward communication happens when an executive relays business goals to a manager, for example, and when the manager distributes the information, goals, or instructions to employees.

One obstacle is the commonly slow and inaccurate delivery of messages from the top down. Another problem is an imbalance in upward communication, which can lead to employees’ frustration and lack of confidence in the company.

Finding a balance between downward and upward communication is key. Working around and following a schedule can improve employee morale. Employees will feel valued and see their supervisors as personable and accessible.

3. Lateral Communication

This type is characterized by interactions of employees across departments or between coworkers of equal rank. The structure is coworker-to-coworker or manager-to-manager communication.

While a diminished formality between coworkers and unhealthy competition might hinder the success of this communication type, it could lead to speedy problem-solving and productive knowledge-sharing when done effectively. Its main purpose is to encourage coordination and collaboration between peers.

External business communication

Any communication with clients, consumers, or other parties is classified as external communication. This includes electronic communication, promotional materials, bids, and hiring freelance support or consultants from outside the company. This type of communication is usually a top priority as you normally communicate externally to build a corporate image, reach your client base, and mold outside relationships.

Poor execution can cause long-term harm to your reputation. But when done right, external communication can create a positive connection with customers. You must ensure that any official media or message conforms to your brand image. Purposeful, customized and clear messaging builds good faith and consistency.

Problems That Effective English for Business Communication Skills Will Solve

Business English Communication can make or break a company. It’s not only a matter of knowing how to write and speak well; it’s also about understanding the importance of effective communication and how to implement it with minimal or zero flaws. Here are common problems that an impeccable application of Business English skills can resolve.

1) Poorly written emails create anxiety and overwhelm that are counterproductive

One of the causes of poor workplace communication is inferior Business English skills. An example of this is offices inundated by an overwhelming volume of emails. Internal emails should be sharp, concise, and direct, so excellent language skills will weed out unnecessary follow-ups. Clear instructions and expectations will minimize excessive correspondence and raise productivity.

2) Internal Business communication silos prevent information from flowing freely.

If horizontal and vertical communications sound unfamiliar, it’s similar to the communication types previously mentioned. Horizontal communication is the interaction between employees with equal status. Vertical is a combination of upward and downward communication.

A common business communication issue between teams and departments is confusion. It could be because of a limited exchange or access among coworkers. It can also be from inadequate communication skills. Organizational communication systems should be fulfilled competently, and one way to eradicate misunderstandings is to have efficient Business English skills.

3) Virtual or remote workers with low-quality communication skills

Because of the popularity of remote work, effective business communication skills are more important than ever. Without the benefit of face-to-face interactions, it’s necessary to get your exact message across through emails and video conferences. Business language skills become even more central to a company’s success if it has a mixture of non-native and native speakers. Poor exchanges with remote employees are immaterial if both employers and employees have communicative competence.

4) Employee turnover/Low employee engagement

Companies that have both native and non-native speakers of English have a great need for business communication skills. Frequent misunderstandings or rocky interactions will diminish commitment and eventually lead to employees leaving the job. However, bosses who can cooperate meaningfully by bridging language barriers don’t need to worry about turnovers.

5) Poor customer service

If company owners are non-native speakers with clients who are native speakers (and vice versa), Business English is a key skill to success and great customer service. Business owners will understand their customers’ preferences better, making valuable interactions that will inspire loyalty. A business that can communicate well with customers has the best turnouts and customer reviews.

Nonverbal communication in business is Important

Since most business communications happen through emails, task boards and chatrooms, almost all of our business exchanges can be classified as nonverbal. Nonverbal communications cover so much territory: facial expressions, tone in writing, gestures, etc. Therefore, the importance of nonverbal communication in business is to express the correct attitude during electronic or video correspondence. When writing emails to employees, customers, or bosses, it’s important to use the right tone. Similarly, during video conferences, facial expressions and gestures must match a professional bearing. Failing to do so can cause disastrous consequences.

5 Steps to Structure Your Business Communication Process for Success

To ascertain employee satisfaction, a concrete business communication process is needed. Unfortunately, a significant number of employees agree that their company’s current internal communication tools aren’t productive. A feeble process is a major reason for a company to fail. But there are ways to reduce dishonesty, ambiguity, and the bulk of extraneous information that hamper workplace communication.

2) Set up an audit of your current business communications and set goals

Reassess the communication process you currently have in place. If employee satisfaction is at the lower levels or if the turnover is high, you need to figure out the reasons and set a detailed plan to improve the numbers. You can also quantify outputs and reset your process if they don’t meet expectations.

3) Identify key groups within your organization and their relationship to one another

Teamwork and chemistry are two factors that are relevant to a company’s success. Effective business communication is mainly influenced by the process behind it. Look into your company’s practices within and across departments and check how they function together. Review the communication types included in this article and see how your employees are doing in each aspect. Then map out the daily methods used by your staff and examine if they’re achieving the desired results.

3) Define methods of communication

The following are the most common methods of communication:

  • Presentations
  • Video conferencing
  • Face-to-face conferences
  • Web-based communications: emails, chatrooms, task boards
  • Official documents: reports, memos, proposals, written updates, and notices

Choose the methods of communication that are congruent to your business goals or field of expertise. Review them and evaluate their effectiveness.

4) Choose the right tools

Uniformity is key when choosing the right tools. Use one platform for emails and calendars, a single tool for chat messaging, and a single platform for video conferencing if you prefer it separately. To store documents and other similar data, use cloud storage, and don’t forget to turn on automatic sync.

5) Document the process

The final step is to take detailed notes of your setup. Then turn it into a shared document that your employees can open. It will serve as a guidebook and a reference for the best course of action for any situation they may encounter moving forward. It’s also an excellent transition tool for any new hires that you can update when necessary.

Business Communication Channels

Workplace communication happens verbally and in writing, either in person or distantly. The following are the different channels of business communication used in businesses:

1) Web-based communication

Emails and instant messaging can serve some privacy in an otherwise hectic office environment. Connections are also extremely shareable to a large group of people.

2) Telephone meetings

A step up from written communication, phones facilitate a better exchange of ideas. An effective method to hasten new-hire orientation and collaboration between team members is using cloud phone systems.

3) Video conferencing

Video conferencing systems can be considered the norm for longer meetings, especially for remote workers. It’s the next best thing for face-to-face meetings.

4) Face-to-face meetings

This is the conventional way to congregate. A well-structured agenda and organized moderation can fuel output and productivity.

5) Business Reports and official documents

First-rate documentation eliminates mix-ups. Employees can have something to consult at any moment.

6) Business Presentations

Tools like PowerPoint have made presentations valuable. They’re tremendously useful for larger groups while creating space for questions.

7) Digital Forum boards and FAQs Knowledge Hubs

A wonderful venue for internal references, updates, and information. However, occasional reminders can be beneficial as they are often overlooked.

8) Customer and Employee Surveys

Feedback and rating support initiate an open and transparent work environment and surveys are designed to collect the data.

9) Client management activities

Any activity involving customer relations: reviews, live chat support, relationship management systems, promos.

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Why Should You Master English for Business Communication Skills?

Business communication isn’t limited to clients or customers. It also consists of interactions with colleagues, managers, and subordinates. And since English has long developed into the preferred business language, its importance is greater than ever. Companies that instate an English policy in the workplace are an ever-growing number. So whether you’re an employee or the owner of a business, there are numerous reasons why mastering Business English should be a major concern.

Communicate Effectively in the global business language

Effective business communication is a foreseeable result of Business English mastery. For the vast majority, business studies and fluency are the gateways to lucrative jobs and gratifying careers.

Communicate better with your team and clients.

Expertise in Business English will not only improve internal and external communications. It can also lead to fruitful relationships with your colleagues, building a powerful mutual network of support. A great communicator can also score new deals easily and deliver quality customer care.

Advance your career opportunities

When you have the confidence to verbalize your ideas around business contexts, you’ll build a track record of reliability and skill. It will be easier to go up the corporate ladder as this will open various avenues for promotions and other opportunities.

Earn a higher salary by providing more value to your employer

Articulacy in Business English will add extraordinary value to your output and create a more remarkable impact in your role. Your employer will be more inclined to grant you a bonus or a raise for your contributions to the company.

Develop Positive Self-confidence

Gaining the trust of your colleagues and employer will do wonders for your well-being, especially if you’re dedicated to your job. You’ll become progressively confident in taking on bigger roles and responsibilities.

Develop positive attitudes

Self-confidence and self-awareness can greatly improve your outlook. These are traits necessary for a positive attitude at work. External factors can come into play obviously. But whatever hiccup you encounter, you’ll be motivated to approach it with care.

Use verbal persuasion effectively in negotiations with clients or superiors

Negotiations can become tough. But an eloquence in Business English naturally amplifies your powers of persuasion. Cutting a deal with a new client or requesting a raise or better job conditions from your employer won’t require too much effort.

Use Business English to Develop Global Relationships and Networks

Global relationships and networks become easier to acquire, expand and strengthen when you’re able to communicate successfully. It would be easier to learn how they communicate and adjust your approach accordingly.

Take advantage of Global Business Opportunities

Countless global business opportunities arise frequently. However, many have high business communication demands and won’t settle for representatives with lesser skills. Mastery of Business English removes the hesitation to get into new prospects to expand commercial ventures.

Avoid Expensive Mistakes and Errors in Corporate Communications

Botched negotiations and employee turnovers are costly. Although it might not eradicate mistakes completely, having expert skills in Business English can avoid grave errors in business communication.

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How to improve business English communication skills

Business English covers a big scope of topics and skills. The strategies to learn them are numerous and varied. Not all of them can work for you, though, so you can try them out and see if they fit your learning preferences. Some take time and money, but all of them need dedication and consistency.

If your listening comprehension skills are in the intermediate or advanced levels, business podcasts are a great tool to look into. You can enhance your listening skills and learn vocabulary specific to purposes and people. Podcasts give a wide variety of content, so pick one that matches your interest. They can be an indispensable method to help you stay on top of current business trends, and to learn fresh ideas for innovation and improvement.

Take a business communication course

With the serious competition in today’s job market, professionals who spend their own personal time constantly learning new skills achieve a great advantage. Luckily, taking control of the future of your career has never been more manageable. There are language centers or academies that offer courses in Business English. Many of these courses are specialized to focus on individual skills or certain industries. Class schedules accommodate students who are working during regular hours, so they may start during odd times like early morning, noon, or late evening.

Get professional guidance from a tutor

The greatest advantage of getting a tutor is that they can design lessons specific to your needs. They can give you personalized support and you don’t have to share time with other students. Also, Business English tutors are often experts in their field, so they can act as your mentor in corporate communication. The only downside is that they’re not cheap. To save cost, you can gather two or three more colleagues to study together. This way, you can still have some personalized direction without breaking the bank.

If you’re a non-native speaker, this is a great way to learn Business English vocabulary and hone your listening and pronunciation skills. Additionally, much like podcasts, business news and programming can keep you updated with current events related to global commerce.

Study and practice business writing

While self-study is possible, it’s most practical to learn and practice business writing with a teacher. Alternatively, you can hire someone to check and edit what you’ve written which wouldn’t cost as much as an actual class. Since most business communication is done in writing, the importance of improving and maintaining this skill is considerable.

Read and Listen to Business Management and Communication books

Reading reinforces vocabulary and comprehension. It can also develop your writing skills. And to add the cherry on top, many Business English books today come with activity and practice CDs or personal access to online versions. Spending at least an hour every day to read a section can do wonders for your skills in the long run.

Use LillyPad.ai the Most Advanced Artificial Intelligence Business English Learning Course and Platform

There are many online platforms and apps for learning Business English. However, few have LillyPad.ai’s level of dedication and commitment to its users. There are even fewer apps with the same number and quality of utility features. LillyPad.ai’s English learning system is designed with efficiency and real-world relevance in mind. Its mobile and desktop platform is exceptionally user-friendly, so you can learn at your own pace wherever you may be.

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The importance of the English language in the wider global economy is immeasurable. Job opportunities across multiple international industries will continue to grow. It goes without saying that studying English for business communication is the baseline for any multinational company’s success and for any individual dreaming to establish a career in global trade.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the 6 types of business communication?

In reality, there are only 2: internal and external communications. But it’s not uncommon to encounter terms like upward, downward, and lateral communications – all of which are sub-types of internal communication. You’ll also come across phrases like horizontal and vertical communications. Horizontal communication basically means a lateral method, which involves interactions between colleagues of equal positions in the company. Vertical is the upward and downward distribution of correspondence within a corporation, spanning all levels in its hierarchy.

How can business communications help English learners?

Business communication has specific structures and vocabulary that aren’t common in informal exchanges. Studying it can widen your English skills to communicate appropriately with specific audiences.

How can I learn English in business?

Start with emails. There are standard formats and phrases used that you can take note of and apply when you write the next email. And since company emails have specific functions, you can create templates. From there, you can continue with skills that are more complex. The best way is to read and listen with a purpose. Read documents to familiarize yourself with the common language used in your workplace. Listen to your superiors or colleagues with good English skills and pay attention to their manner of talking. You can learn a lot through imitation. In time, it will become second nature.

Why do you need business English for work?

Business English leads to more opportunities for career advancement. To the very least, jobs that require these skills offer better employment and salaries. In countries where English is a de jure or official second language, corporate communication across all industries is almost exclusively done in English. If you desire profitable employment or want to step further into your career, that should be the primary reason why you need to learn Business English.

What are the ways to communicate business information?

Check the segment on “Business Communication Channels” in this article to read about the different ways to circulate information in a business setting.

What is the difference between English for Specific Purposes and General English?

General English teaches language for daily use, which is standardized. It’s an integration of various skills that you can develop to function in an English-speaking environment. Business English is a subset of English for Specific Purposes. Specific Purposes include different courses for industries like tourism, medicine, logistics, and so on.

What is the difference between learning conversational English and business English?

By nature, Business English is more formal and polite. It uses professional vocabulary and in many cases a stiffer structure. Grammatical rules are strictly adhered to in Business English. These characteristics are opposite in conversational English.

How does business communication differ from school writing

School writing, like essays and reports, has specific academic guidelines. While school writing has some creative freedom, standard formats are still imposed to follow metrics that can be quantified. Business emails, on the other hand, are tailored to communicate with business contacts like colleagues, clients, superiors, and other people in your corporate network. Business communication can also include office memos, contracts, notices, advertising copy, etc.

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William Landry

William Landry

William is a professional English and ESL teacher with over 15 years of experience. He has taught students of all ages, from children to business executives, and has worked with ESL learners from all over the globe. With a degree in English Education, William has developed curriculum for learners of all levels and interests. He is passionate about helping people learn English effectively and shares his knowledge with the LillyPad community. When he’s not teaching or writing, William enjoys spending time with his wife and two young children.

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