In today’s economy, it is becoming, for better or worse, more necessary for business people to be able to communicate effectively in English. Unfortunately for many business people, there doesn’t seem to be enough time to fit improving language skills into an already full timetable.
The most time-efficient was to improve language skills is to spend a week (or more if you can spare it) in an English speaking country, on an intensive homestay course for business – such courses are normally one to one and if not you can generally ask for a one to one English course for a small supplent. These courses vary widely and there are a number of things that should be considered before spending your hard earned money, and precious time on such a course.
The most important thing is – how many hours a day will you be speaking English? It would seem obvious that if you are in an English speaking country then that will be all day. Unfortunately that is not always the case. If you choose to go to London or Dublin (or even New York) there will be many people who speak your native language and you will be tempted to talk with them in that. Many of the courses in these locations only offer classes in the mornings and maybe some afternoon activities or trips to local sites, leaving you free to do whatever afterwards. What you really need, if you are going to make significant improvement in a short time, is somewhere where you will be made to speak all day, from breakfast to bed time. Courses which offer this will prepare you better for real-life situations.
Everybody that has ever tried to learn a language knows that the hardest part is having the confidence to speak and the belief that you will be understood, not just in specific situations that you have practiced but in everyday situations that just “come up”. The better of these homestay type courses will not only provide you with lessons for specific businesses and business situations, but will also make you do the ‘ordinary’ things that will make your business trip so much more successful and productive, and less stressful for you . Things like being able to order a meal or a drink for yourself and your colleagues, not just classroom practice but in a real restaurant or bar; how to make small-talk while having a drink – again, not just classroom role-playing but for real. It is in these situations that someone’s English skills might let them down. The meetings and presentations you can spend hours preparing for but the “life” situations? They just happen and you need to be as prepared as possible for those too. That is where the intensive homestay comes into its own. It will give you a more complete education, and in a shorter time.
It’s true that these courses are probably much harder work, but they are often more enjoyable too. From experience, I can tell you that improvement s are regularly noticeable within a couple of days and by the end of the course, students are often so much more comfortable and confident that it is hard to remember what their level was when they arrived.
So there it is. Time and money well spent. And isn’t that the main priority these days?