Business English Competencies: A Holistic Language Teaching Approach

A course framework is crucial to a good English course and Business English Competencies is a framework that takes into account various dimensions in language use. I believe four main competencies can be incorporated in course design and language teaching to provide more than just the linguistic aspect. This approach considers skills and knowledge affecting the individual as well as the business. Business English Competencies include: business, personal, social, and linguistic competencies.

For the Business English Competencies to work effectively, all course components – goals and objectives, activities and processes, materials, tasks and drills, and method of evaluation- have to work together harmoniously to serve learners in developing those competencies. In addition, knowledge of international, regional, and local advancements, changes, and status are also influential in the business world. Therefore, have to be included independently throughout lessons to make the course more relevant to the current business circumstances. You can find examples of each competency below:

– Business English vocabulary
– Business English grammar
– reading skills
– speaking skills
– listening skills
– writing skills

– Self-awareness
– Self evaluation
– critical thinking
– emotion regulation
– stress management
– resilience
– decision making
– problem solving

– social awareness
– relationship management
– empathy
– listening & observation skills
– conflict management

– export finance
– business correspondence
– marketing
– accounting & finance
– human resources
– business law

Linguistic Competencies

Linguistic competencies act as the glue that connect other components of the competency framework mentioned above. The amount of information available in English, even from non-English speaking countries, is far more than any language in the world, not to mention the fact that the information is frequently updated and more accessible worldwide. English is also widely used in business settings even in non-English speaking countries. Thus, being able to understand and use business English offers two major advantages: performance improvement and internationalization.

One advantage is the ease of access to recent knowledge of global and local practices, which provides the opportunity to improve personal as well as business performance. Being able to understand and use English becomes a key that unlocks a world of knowledge and information which can be used to perform more effectively in a business setting. It provides a chance for a business person or an employee to utilize the experience, knowledge, and professional communities to evaluate themselves and create a plan to improve both themselves and their business with sustainability in mind.

Being able to accurately and proficiently use business English also provides a pathway to expanding the business beyond borders and unlock potentials within a business. In fact, it provides the chance to become an international organization by expanding overseas to new markets or collaborate with businesses from other countries. A business may have the potential to move beyond their national market, but unless they are capable to communicate effectively and accurately with professionals and businesses around the world, they risk incurring more damage than enjoy the profit.

Every component of the Business English Competency Framework has a specific role, and complements other components. The linguistic competency component needs the other three components to become a part of a meaningful and practical whole, while it provides the means to connect the other three competencies in a meaningful and purposeful manner as well. Together, they help create a Business English course that takes into account the linguistic needs of learners to improve business performances with a global mindset. That is why Business English is an English business.

Personal Competencies

Perhaps it can be said that personal competencies form the foundation for relationship building as well as success in personal and professional life. Personal competencies from the Emotional Intelligence (EI) standpoint, include self-awareness, and self-management, but there is much more to personal competencies. The Life Skills and Citizenship Education (LSCE) initiative by UNICEF and World Bank offers a new perspective to the skills required for better navigation of life in the 21st century, some of these skills are personal/individual while others are more social and are discussed in social competencies. Personal competencies works to enhance these skills using business English to offer learners a fresh and practical perspective of how language can be used for personal growth and practical use in the real world.

An effective business English course design is aware that personal views and knowledge are woven into all behaviors and actions in the real world. Your beliefs and values along with the way you see the world affects how you speak and behave in the workplace, which means it affects how you use English to communicate. Every activity or task involves using several skills simultaneously, and everything reflects aspects of the the unique individual that you are, your values and thoughts, and your skills. If you can speak business English fluently, but lack self-awareness or fail to emotionally regulate yourself, you will face more problems in the ENglish speaking world, not less. Personal competencies enable you to mindfully make use of business English to express yourself and use language in a way that is beneficial to you in the real world.

As a business person, knowing your strengths and weaknesses puts you steps if not blocks ahead of the game. you can easily maneuver on your strengths and skills, and spend time improving where your weaknesses lie. meanwhile you can get help from people whose strengths cover for your weaknesses. You can find professionals or individuals you can model after and ask them to share with you their experiences and wisdom. Flexibility, learning from your mistakes, and problem solving come in handy at the point. This is where you need to find people who are compatible with you, or develop compatibility with people around you to reach goals. It is the point where personal competencies translate into social competencies for a more self-improving and effective environment. It is where teamwork reaches its true potential, since everyone knows how to help and where they can be most helpful.

The most valuable assets in every aspect of a person’s life are their abilities and skills. By the same logic, the liabilities to the individual’s progress, and at times their success, include their weaknesses, as well as their lack of awareness. It is essential to be self-aware and accept our limitations, rather than take uncalculated risks and suffer the consequences. An individual who isn’t aware of how they really feel or what thoughts they have can barely communicate it in their own native language, let alone in English.

Social Competencies

There is one aspect in Business English that is a given: building and maintaining relationships is the only way your business can survive and thrive. In order to do so, personal competencies can be of great help, but they are not enough, which means you will need a different set of competencies to deal with social aspects of the business environment. Social competencies are those related to various types of communication, networking, relationship and conflict management, and even leadership. While ability to communicate feelings, thoughts, wishes as well as to understand them is crucial to relationship management, it is vital to be able to listen to, observe, and understand other people. Wherever there are two or more people involved, social competencies become essential for better relationship management.

    The importance of social competencies is heightened in particular when it comes to meetings, negotiations, working towards a contract, attracting and maintaining customers, persuading investors, and more. In face, business settings is filled with situations where interpersonal communication becomes necessary, and using business English has to be integrated with social competencies to lead to effective communication in the workplace. It is not possible to negotiate a hard bargain, neglect the relationship, and get all the favorable conditions is a negotiation, and consider that using business English in an effective manner. You may say, however, that you have effectively ignored the needs and wished of the other party, neglected the business relationship, and sacrificed the relationship for personal gain. Remember that proficient business English without prioritizing human relationships can damage the business more that it can help it.

Relationship management doesn’t necessary involve direct communication with other individuals. There are various ways that we can communicate with others using business English and in business settings. Direct communication (explained above) is one of the ways people can develop their network, yet indirect ways of communication are prominent in the business environment ass well. Presentations, public speaking in seminars and conferences, and reports are regularly challenging business people to bring their A game to the table.
    This area is closely connected to linguistic as well as business competencies in that a person should be not only knowledgeable in their particular field, but also be able to present themselves as well as the business using English. Portfolio making can be very helpful here, since it provides real-life practice as well as a future reference.

Business/Professional Competencies

An organization is similar to a living organism in that it is comprised of independent yet interconnected parts. Each part is responsible for certain activities independent of other, but in the end, they collectively affect the life of that organism. Updated knowledge of business management and processes enables organizations to improve how they function within and consequently out in their community and the world.

    At the same time, technology has deeply affected how businesses function, and new terminology have entered Business English to define the technological elements as well as their processes. Since changes are prevalent in professions and areas that affect businesses, the language used in this area needs to be updated as well. One of the functions of Business English is to introduce these new terms as well as what they entail. Empowering business persons requires both knowledge of Business English and business advancements.

A good Business English course should pay careful attention to the type of context with which it provides its learners. A course that mainly focuses on its linguistic aspect will look rather like a General English course with confusing vocabulary. Therefore, it needs to include subjects that are relevant and current to businesses at this time. Perhaps a business does not intend to enter global markets or even sell products or provide services overseas. But they still need to be able to understand the global factors that could potentially affect their businesses locally. Economies are not that independent anymore and technology is alleviating the hard barriers that define countries geographically. Knowledge is invaluable these days.

Regional and national information are addressed in a practical course framework. Regional and local factors play a crucial role in directing businesses. Local knowledge allows businesses to realize existing potentials and opportunities, limitations, and future threats. Correct and in-time analysis of current macro factors, helps businesses devise strategies to minimize their risks. In a world where businesses are interconnected through underlying local, regional, and global decision making processes, a 360 degree knowledge is crucial. Business laws, available markets, market needs, and available financial tools are examples of local business guidelines.