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Business Spotlight - epaper ⋅ Ausgabe 3/2018 vom 25.04.2018

Wie erweitert man seinen Wortschatz? Wie feilt man an seiner Aussprache? Wie vermeidet man Grammatikfehler? Und wie bereitet man eine Sitzung oder Präsentation auf Englisch vor? Auf den folgenden Seiten geben Ihnen unsere Sprachexperten Tipps, was Sie im konkreten Fall tun können.

Improving your business English is not easy. It takes time and effort and involves putting what you have learned into practice, observing what goes well and learning from what goes less well (see also the box on page 25).

In this special feature on improving your business English, we have collected tips from our regular ...

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Mehr Lesetipps
Blättern im Magazin
Vorheriger Artikel
I1N1T1E1R1V4I1E1W4: “Learning happens in largely the same ways for everyone”
Nächster Artikel
I1N1T1E1R1V4I1E1W4: “Learning happens in largely the same ways for everyone”
Mehr Lesetipps

In this special feature on improving your business English, we have collected tips from our regularBusiness Spotlight authors, our in-house staff, leading business English trainers and you, our readers.

G2 E1 T1 T1 I1 N1 G2 S1 T1 A1 R1 T1 E1 D2

First of all, ask yourself

What is your objective a f oferw im qpureosvtiinong sy. our business English? a few questions
• How far away from your target are you?
• How do you plan to reach your target? • How long do you think it will take?
Make a plan and stick to it. Set yourself short-term targets. Reward yourself when you achieve them. Keep a diary of your achievements.
Steve Flinders

S1 P3 E1 A1 K5 I1 N1 G2

Speak more often. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It’s more important to be understood and to get your message across than to have everything perfect. The more you speak, the more your English will improve over time.
Mike Hogan

Choose a subject you enjoy and record yourself talking about it for a minute, for example on your smartphone. Listen to it and try to identify errors or problems with fluency. Now repeat the exercise a few times. You’ll be amazed by your improvement.
Paul Wheatley

Take every opportunity to practise using your English, for example while travelling or when colleagues from other countries visit your company. And don’t be shy — your English is almost certainly better than their German!
Helen Strong

Join a local English-speaking group and take the opportunity to speak with like-minded people. If there isn’t a group near you, you could start one up. Prepare subjects to discuss beforehand, such as a book chapter, a film or a new story.
Paul Wheatley

If you have only German speakers in your organization, agree with your colleagues to have an English-speaking lunch once a week. You will be self-conscious at first, but it works!
Steve Flinders

Practise your summarizing skills. Read an article on a particular business-related topic. Then summarize the article in one minute to a colleague or friend — or even to yourself. Repeat the exercise a number of times until your summary becomes perfect.
Ian McMaster

The main challenge for many non-native speakers is not of a linguistic nature — it’s that they lack confidence. Be positive about what youcan say, not negative about what youcan’t say. See your language glass as half full, not half empty. And measure your performance against the level you need for your job, not against other people.
Steve Flinders

Talk to yourself. You can practise your pronunciation and speed without having a native speaker or teacher making you feel nervous. Before you make a telephone call or go into a meeting, practise the dialogue you think may occur. Hearing yourself speak a foreign language will help build your confidence.
Kate Urban-Greatorex

Focus on pronunciation from the beginning. For example, are you saying “dog” or “dock”? Work with your teacher to help identify your particular problems. And listen to rap music, which is full of rhyming business words, such as “bought”, “fought” and “taught”.
Eamonn Fitzgerald

What do you do when you can’t find the word you are looking for? Here are ten suggestions:
• Use another word with a similar meaning.
• Describe what you mean.
• Use a hesitating device, such as saying “er”.
• Explain that you can’t find the word you’re looking for and ask for time to find it.
• Ask another German speaker for a translation.
• Speak more slowly to give yourself more time to think.
• Try a word from another language that your listeners may recognize.
• Use shorter sentences to reduce the chance of getting stuck.
• Use your hands to mime the word.
• Draw a picture.
Steve Flinders

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Record the TV news in English. You can then listen to it as often as you like until you have understood everything. Once your ear tunes into the rhythm and flow of the spoken language, listening will get easier.
Mike Seymour

Forget your music playlist while exercising and listen to a podcast. It’s a great way to use your spare time. Also, learning during physical activity can improve language retention.
Elisabeth Ribbans

When listening, try not to be nervous about the words youdon’t know. Otherwise, you will probably miss out on the words youdo know. If you haven’t fully understood something — for example in a meeting — then ask for clarification.
Kate Urban-Greatorex

Read fiction that has audio-support material, and when you’ve finished reading, listen to the story. This will reinforce everything you’ve learned from the reading material and help to change your passive knowledge into knowledge that you can use actively.
James Schofield

Do you have a favourite TV series or film on Netflix that is set in a business environment? Then watch it again, but this time, in English. If you find that the actors speak too fast or that you can’t understand them clearly, turn on the English subtitles. Also, if you have seen a movie in the cinema in German, go and see it again — in English.
Maja Sirola

While listening to native speakers, listen particularly for the words and combinations of words that they use, but that you would not have used up to now. Write them down and then try to use them yourself at the next opportunity.
Hildegard Rudolph

When talking to colleagues or business partners, try to be aware of how you are listening and try to “listen to yourself listening”. Also, stay in the other person’s world a bit longer than you typically would, before jumping in with your own opinion or anecdote.
Bob Dignen

R1 E1 A1 D2 I1 N1 G2

Read, read and read: journals, websites, newspapers, whatever you can find. Choose a selection of online sources with different styles and political opinions. Look for features relating to your own job.
Julian Earwaker

Read fiction that is graded to just below your current language level, so that you can read without strain. The combination of dialogue and prose develops your feel for grammar and helps you notice the difference between spoken and written English.
James Schofield

What can you do if you see a word you don’t know? Many words are easy to guess. Read the text below and underline every word that is new to you.

“Quizzical, angry or down in the dumps: our eyebrows allow us to express our feelings without words. But is that their sole purpose?”

Now, read it again and circle every word you don’t understand. For each of these words, ask yourself:

1. Is the word similar to one you know? The adjective “quizzical” looks like the noun “quiz”. A quiz is a game in which people answer questions. A “quizzical expression” is one that seems to ask a question.
2. What’s the context? “Down in the dumps” occurs after two adjectives describing feelings. “Down” hints at a negative feeling. If you’re “down in the dumps”, you are unhappy.
3. Is the word similar to a word in another language? The adjective “sole” looks like “solo” — alone, or done by only one person. The “sole purpose” is the only purpose or function.
4. If you are still not sure you have guessed the words correctly, check them on your smartphone.
Anna Hochsieder

W4 R1 I1 T1 I1 N1 G2

When writing business emails or letters, don’t try to be too original. Use the standard phrases (“I’m writing to…”, “I look forward to hearing from you…”, etc.) as a framework for your writing. Then you can concentrate on the content of your message.
Ian McMaster

Create an email folder to collect good examples of English emails that you receive. Then, when you need to write an email in English, you can refer to these stored emails for vocabulary and useful phrases.
Mike Hogan

Make a list of errors that you keep making. Every time you write something, refer back to the list and check again. The same errors will pop up again and again, but after a while, you will become so aware of them that you can correct them yourself.
Kate Urban-Greatorex

Have you noticed how many requests and responses come up again and again in email after email? When you read a particularly clear and concise sentence or phrase, copy and paste it into a draft email for future use. Copy what your colleagues, clients and friends do — but only the clever ones.
Deborah Capras

Readers’ tip EASY


I write out the words I don’t know from texts that I read inBusiness Spotlight or books or documents from work. Then I learn these words each day in the bus.
Dirk Korndörfer

Learning should be fun and there should be a target so that one can look forward to putting into practice what one has learned. One thing I do is to read the texts first, then listen to the audio — first without the text, to see how much I can understand, and then with the text. I listen to the audio numerous times in order to really get the pronunciation in my blood.
Andrea Klein

Practise, practise, practise — and don’t be afraid to speak. Remember: other people also make mistakes. I learn vocabulary with Outlook Tasks. I have set up a special folder. If I get a word right, I increase the counter and set a date for repeating it. If I get the word wrong, I repeat it sooner.
Christoph Zimmerbauer


As most of my course participants who need English at work are “middle-aged” and have little time, it is important before the courses start to do a detailed needs analysis and also find out what type of preferences the learners have (tactile, auditory, visual). Only then can the required language skills be taught effectively.
Dina Schüle, translator and trainer

Do not be afraid to make mistakes when speaking! It is one of the best ways to learn. Your message will be understood and the fine-tuning comes with practice! The more you practise, the more you will build your confidence!
Cynthia Cook, teacher

I teach vocabulary using a practical, associative approach. I teach my learners how to swap letters in a word to get the translation. By doing so, learners are eventually able to identify the meaning of words in context. Creating an awareness of homophones also helps. With beginners, I use the “look, cover, write, check” method (https://www. theschoolrun.com/Look-Cover-Write-Check-explained ).
Christa Hamilton, teacher and coach

M3 E1 E1 T1 I1 N1 G2 S1

Prepare carefully for important international meetings in English. Persuade your colleagues to do the same. This helps you see where any linguistic bottlenecks are. You then have the chance to practise before the actual meeting.
Ken Taylor

Make sure you let your teacher know exactly what types of meetings you attend. Not all meetings use the same type of language, and your teacher can only help you if they know what you need.
Evan Frendo

Too many international meetings in English are inefficient because not everyone understands what has been said, and they don’t speak up. So check and clarify your understanding regularly. This will not only help you to improve your English, it should also improve your meeting outcomes.
Mike Hogan

If you have a particular topic that you need to discuss at a meeting, email your trainer in advance so that she can prepare something for the next lesson. Write the questions you want to ask — or that people might ask you about a certain topic — and take them with you to your next lesson so that you can practise them.
Karen Richardson

Being able to say clearly in English who you are and what you do is a basic professional communication skill. You should say your name, the name of your company and your location slowly and clearly. You also need to know your job title in English and be able to explain briefly and simply what your company does.
Steve Flinders

P3 R1 E1 S1 E1 N1 T1 A1 T1 I1 O1 N1 S1

Prepare the first five or six sentences carefully. Learn them by heart. This will allow you to concentrate on how you are speaking and enable you to have good eye contact with your audience. It also helps you feel more confident.
Ken Taylor

An excellent way to prepare is to film yourself during rehearsals. You will be pleasantly surprised at how good you are, but you will also see things you want to change.
Evan Frendo

For a change, practise starting in the middle of your presentation or ask a colleague to make you begin after a certain slide number. This will make you more flexible and will lessen the chance of you “freezing” if you are interrupted.
Mike Seymour

To sound more confident, copy out sentences from articles that contain opinions similar to your own. Also, copy opinions that you do not agree with and turn them into ones you agree with. For example: “I believe that…” → “I do not believe that…”; “There is no short-term solution to this problem.” → “There is a short-term solution to this problem.”
Karen Richardson

Ask a friend or colleague to watch you practise your presentation and to interrupt you at various points with difficult questions. This will prepare you for such interruptions, so that you can deal with them confidently. To give yourself time, you can always say, “Can I come back to that point later?”
Ian McMaster

S1 M3 A1 L1 L1 T1 A1 L1 K5

Small talk is a key skill for building business relationships. Remember that it is not only about unimportant topics — you can ask about work-related issues as well. If you do, you will learn a lot about how your business partner thinks.
Evan Frendo

Small talk is about finding out what you have in common with other people. Listen carefully to the information people share with you and follow up with a question to find out more. And when someone asks a question, try to offer a little more information than they asked for.
Dagmar Taylor

Small-talk stories need to have a point and provoke an emotional reaction. The best stories are short and surprising, and they get a smile from the listener. When you tell a story, try to notice what keeps people interested, and what doesn’t. Drop what doesn’t — even if it’s the whole story. And let others tell their stories, too. Small talk is about listening as well as talking.
Deborah Capras

Some stereotypes are accurate: the British really do break the ice by talking about the weather. When arriving at a meeting, you should also be prepared to talk about the quality of your journey by brushing up on transport-related vocabulary: “overcrowded”, “cancelled again” and “amazingly, on time” are some terms that should help.
Elisabeth Ribbans

Illlustrationen: annuker/iStock.com; one line man/Shutterstock.com

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Talk to yourself. Although this is considered the first sign of madness, it’s also a very good way to practise vocabulary. For example, describe what you are doing when you are driving. Or describe your physical surroundings. Or think of a business process you are familiar with and describe it in English.
Ken Taylor

Learn those collocations. Collowhats? Collocations are words that go together. They will make your English sound more natural and help you to expand your vocabulary. The best way to remember them is by reading and listening to English phrases. Example: “make” + “deal”, as in: “Donald made a great deal.”
Eamonn Fitzgerald

Every time you enter a meeting room, make a mental inventory of everything you can see. Check that you know the equivalent English words. If you don’t, look them up afterwards.
Mike Seymour

One of the best ways to learn and remember vocabulary is to hear it being used. Record new words you want to learn using the recording device on your smartphone. Take a few minutes every day to listen to them.
Bob Dignen

Learn words that are useful in many situations. For me, “stuff” is essential. You can use it to mean just about anything you can’t remember, from key equipment (“Did you bring the stuff?”) to unimportant details (“Forget about that stuff. We need to focus on the big picture.”).
Deborah Capras

Look for articles that are relevant or connected to your field of work. Bookmark the pages so that you can find them immediately. Go back and reread these articles every now and again and notice how your vocabulary and comprehension are improving.
Karen Richardson

While surfing the internet for extra information on a particular business topic, try to look for English-language websites. Reading about a topic in English will expand your vocabulary.
Maja Sirola

Improve your business vocabulary and practise your listening skills at the same time by watching videos on topics you’re interested in. TED talks are a good place to find such videos, but there are also lots of short business videos on YouTube. Many videos have subtitles to help you.
Helen Strong

Use your calendar. I write down new words on the back of a Postit and the German translation on the front. Then I stick it in my weekly calendar. Not in the current week, but on a page of a week in the near future. When I open the calendar to that week, I practise the words.
Judith Rothenbusch

Dictionaries for specific purposes are a rich source of the technical terms you need for your work in a particular sector, whether you are a translator, a secretary or in charge of a particular area of your company. However, even the best dictionaries have their limits, as words are often not given in context. So try to get hold of original printed material in English — such as brochures, manuals, instructions, etc. — relating to the sector you work in. Or surf the internet for English websites of companies that do business in your sector and look for words that may be important to know.
Hildegard Rudolph

Download a vocabulary-learning app on to your smartphone. As well as translations, the best apps usually have flashcards that you can use to help you remember difficult words.
Paul Wheatley

Illustrationen: annuker/iStock.com; one line man/Shutterstock.com

Illlustrationen: annuker/iStock.com; one line man/Shutterstock.com

Illustration: one line man/Shutterstock.com