Top Tips for Selecting a Business English Program

In an increasingly globalized world, an estimated 244 million people live in a country other than their country of origin and global trade has been increasing over the past decade reaching a record high of $28.5 trillion in 2021. Matching this geographical expansion in employment and business, companies’ workforces are becoming increasingly diverse, bringing together people from varying languages and cultures into single, sometimes geographically dispersed, teams. But how do these teams perform? Their performance greatly hinges on their ability to communicate effectively using a common language and a shared cultural understanding. To most organizations, this is where Business English online programs come in. According to international statistics, $9.6 billion were spent in 2020 alone on English Language learning as more companies and individuals strive to enhance their global competitiveness.

But almost anyone who has tried to learn a foreign language has been through the dilemma of trying to find an effective course and, in particular, a course that one can commit to for a more extended period of time. To help you through this hassle, we have compiled some important features that signal that you have found an effective Business English course. So, next time you are selecting a program for your company’s employees, you know what to look for.

1: It’s not just an English language program; it’s a Business English program

You may think this does not matter, but the truth is there are 171,146 words in the English language, and only 1.4 % of them are used in daily life, even less in business contexts. So, to reduce learning clutter and sift through the learning curve, simply go for a course that actually teaches you the grammatical structures and vocabulary relevant to your target use. Extrapolating on this point, the more industry-tailored the program, the more effective, since you’ll be learning material that is directly relevant to your needs and you can put instantly to application.

2: It reflects sound instructional design

A well-designed business English course would include pre-assessments that determine your employees’ levels and it will feature a learning journey that takes learners through a sequence of logically-organized modules that build on each other. Moreover, important to learning in general and language learning in particular, an effective language learning program would employ the Velcro effect where learners get presented with new information within a larger context of previously learned information. In a Velcro-based course, new information presented at any given time would not exceed 20% of all information presented. So, courses that simply present learners with 100% new vocabulary every lesson are not a very good idea. Yes, your employees will seem to learn more each lesson, but they will be challenged with a high cognitive load. They will also tend to forget what they learn as the Velcro effect naturally embeds the spacing effect in the learning design. In case you’re wondering what that is, the spacing effect is the observation that repetitions spaced in time produce stronger retention than repetitions massed closer together in time. So, a Velcro-based program will not only enhance your employees’ comprehension but also boost their retention.

3: It is designed with a high level of interactivity

According to the learning pyramid theory, we retain only 30% of what we read, see, and hear, but this retention level significantly increases as we engage more actively with the learning material. So, it is important as you choose a business language program for your employees that you select a program that features higher interactivity. Steer away from the read-and-watch kind of programs, rather look for programs that enable discussions, presentations, practice, role-playing, and problem-solving. 

4: It is skill, not knowledge, based

A typical instructional design flaw in many available language courses is the unnecessary high focus on the acquisition of grammar and vocabulary knowledge while demonstrating a high disregard for skill acquisition. In the end, language is a competence that is based on four skills: reading, writing, speaking, and listening. It is true that these skills are based on knowledge of grammar and vocabulary but focusing on knowledge at the expense of skills makes one know a lot ‘about’ the language without actually knowing the language. In fact, skill practicing in an effective language learning program should constitute 80% of the course.

5: It’s an immersive and task-based program

If the business language program is immersed in the business requirements of your company’s employees, the chances are employees will commit more strongly to the program and will find it more engaging and useful. By being immersed, we mean that the program provides opportunities for your company’s employees to complete their work-related tasks with the help of the program. Perhaps, you have an employee who has an important presentation to deliver in the English language or who needs to prepare for an important negotiation in the English language. A program that aids learners in completing such tasks is considered immersive. In an immersive program, learners learn the language, not with the purpose of learning the language, but with the purpose of completing a work-related task using the language. 

6: It leverages effective feedback

Have you ever heard the adage, ‘practice makes perfect?’ 

Well, we’re here to tell you it’s wrong! Practice without feedback will only make you perfect at making mistakes. This is why an effective business language program will not be a program solely focused on teaching, but it will also have a one-on-one coaching or feedback component.

7: It’s not only a language program but also a cultural program

There’s no better ROI than hitting two birds with one stone! With a business English program that features a cultural focus, you ensure that your employees do not only succeed in learning the language and communicating within a global context, but you also ensure that they acquire the cultural sensitivity needed for them to navigate an increasingly global work environment and build more harmonious global teams.

8: It fits your employees’ lifestyle

We all know this! Language learning is not a hit-and-run course; it’s a long-term commitment that could extend for 550-900 hours to achieve fluency. A wise decision here would be to select a program whose modalities and schedule fit with your employees’ lifestyles and work schedules to guarantee commitment and completion.


This is our list of the eight top features to look for in a Business English language program to help you achieve the highest training ROI. So, next time you need to select a business English language program for your company’s employees, you will be able to make the right choice that gives you the most bang for your buck. 

What XpertLearning Can Do for You?

At XpertLearning, we are aware of how Business English language learning programs can greatly enhance the performance of your global teams, this is why we provide several Business English learning solutions, through our partners, that vary from self-paced programs to blended programs and personalized coaching. To know more about our language solutions, please  visit here.



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