Business English for your Job

With a Green Card in your pocket, you are ready to start your new life in the USA. In the USA, your English skills will improve every day, but it is still important to learn the language in certain settings, like the workplace. Even though you feel comfortable speaking English, you may notice that there are certain ways to say and do things in the American workplace. The English one speaks at home or with the neighbors is not the same as the English you speak at work. Do not worry though, these can be learned! Read further to find out more about communicating in an American workplace.

What is Business English?

Many non-native English speakers choose to take extra English courses specifically geared towards learning how to communicate in English while at work. The language you use with colleagues or clients in the workplace is important. You want to sound professional, avoid misunderstandings and understand others. There are situations at work where you want to be formal or informal and it is important to choose your words wisely. In a business situation, there are certain ways to behave and speak respective of culture. Being prepared will take the stress out of communicating in English at work.

Business English covers a wide variety of topics for a wide variety of jobs. Some English courses focus on vocabulary for engineers, doctors or accountants and some on a specific skill like writing an e-mail, making a telephone call or giving an opinion. Unfortunately, we cannot cover every occupation, but we can make sure that you are prepared to communicate properly in English when you are at work. Business English means being able to handle everyday situations while at work. Being able to communicate well in the workplace is essential to becoming a bone-fide American!

Writing e-mails at work

Writing e-mails at work is a must in today’s workplace and is a valuable tool for communicating with others. There is no getting around it. Digital communication can be difficult to master. You may not be sure how to start writing your e-mail or how to end it. Should you start with “dear” or “hello”? Depending on who you are writing to, you might want to take a formal or informal tone and to do so, there are different English words and expressions that you should use.

Use the table below to find which expressions you should use when writing in English:

Part of the E-Mail

Formal

Informal

Salutation

“Dear Sir or Madam” (if you do not know the name of the person), Dear Mr. or Ms. Smith

“Hello”, “Good afternoon”, “Dear John”, “Hi”, “Hey”

Opening sentence

“I am writing to …”

“I just want to touch base with you.”

File attachments

“Please find attached X”

“I’ve attached X for you”, “X is attached”

Confirm a meeting

“I would like to confirm our appointment/meeting on ...”

“[Day] at [time] is great for me. See you then.”

Making an inquiry

“I am writing to inquire about ...”

“Could/can you please tell me...”

Giving good news

“I am delighted/pleased to inform you that …”

“I'm happy to tell you …”; “You'll be happy to hear”

Giving bad news

“I regret to inform you that ...”

“Sorry, but ...”; “I am sorry to tell you, but ...”

Complaining

“I was disappointed to hear/find …” I am writing to formally make a complaint.”

“Unfortunately, …”; “I am afraid that ...”

Referring to future

“I look forward to hearing from you”,

“Hope to hear from you soon”,

Ending

“Do not hesitate to contact me if you need any assistance”

“Let me know if you need anything else”

Closing

“Sincerely” (very formal), “Kind/Best/Warm regards”

“All the best”, “See you soon”, “Take care”

 

Making telephone calls in English

Making a telephone call may be one of the highest hurdles to jump when learning a foreign language. If you are working and living in the USA with a Green Card or work visa, then you will need to learn how to make telephone calls in English.

Telephoning is more difficult than writing emails or speaking to someone face-to-face. On the phone, it is sometimes difficult to hear what the person on the line is saying and you don't have the time to pick and choose your words like you do when writing an email. It is not an easy task, but with practice, you will no longer hesitate before picking up the phone! The list of expressions below will help you improve your telephoning skills in English:

Answering the phone

  • Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon. [Company name], [your name] speaking, how may I help you?
  • This is [your name] speaking. How may I help you?
  • This is [your name]. Is this …?

Requesting information

  • I am calling to ask …
  • Could I please talk to …?
  • Could you please tell me your name?
  • What company are you calling from?
  • Who is calling please?

Repeat Information

  • I am sorry, could you please repeat that?
  • Could you please repeat your name/number?
  • Could you please speak more clearly?
  • I'm afraid I can't hear you. Could you speak louder?

Transferring

  • Could you please transfer me to …?
  • Please hold while I put you through.
  • The line is busy, please try again later.
  • The call was disconnected.

Messages

  • Would you like to leave a message?
  • Can I take a message for you?
  • May I leave a message?
  • Will you please let them know I called?
  • How do you spell your name?

Ending the call

  • Thank you for calling.
  • Thanks for your time.
  • Have a nice day.
  • Bye

Giving your opinion in a meeting

Before starting your first day of work as a Green Card holder, you should take the time to learn about the work culture in America. In the workplace, you are going to meet a lot of new people and your colleagues. As you start to get closer with them, you will notice that there is an American workplace culture.

There is a certain etiquette for business interactions that you must learn to avoid miscommunication. Think of a simple business card, for example. When is it appropriate to give someone one? What do you do when someone gives you a business card? If you were in Japan, you would insult the person by immediately putting it in your purse or wallet! These types of miscommunications are avoidable if you learn about how different cultures conduct business.

In the United States, the work culture is very friendly. You are expected to be nice and polite, but mean what you say. In a meeting, for example, you want to be polite, but also, as the Americans say, get down to business. At first it may be difficult to find the right balance between being nice and being direct. There a few phrases you can learn in English to help you give your opinion in an American business meeting while staying friendly.

 

Agreement

Suggestion

Disagreement

I agree with you.

In my opinion, we should ...

I'm not convinced that that is a good idea.

We could give it a try.

Why don't we ...

I'm afraid I disagree.

I think it is a great idea.

It is just a thought, but could we ...

If I am not mistaken ...

Sounds good to me.

Maybe we could …

I can't say I agree with you.

I would go along with that.

Would it be possible to ...

I don't know, but it seems that ...

 

It is not only the words and phrases you use here, but also your body language. During the meeting, you should remain positive even when expressing disagreement and make sure to keep eye contact with the person you are speaking to.

Are you ready now for your first day of work in an English-speaking workplace in the land of your dreams? The USA has a lot of offer, you just have to be willing to work a little for it! If you want to learn more about American work culture up-close and personal, then don't miss your chance to apply for the Green Card Lottery. With a Green Card, there is no putting your dreams on hold and you’ll be put through to the USA in no time!

Sources:

https://www.tolingo.com/sites/en/service/business-english/letters-and-emails/
http://www.fluentu.com/blog/business-english/business-english-email-writing/ 

 

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