Welcome to our feature on improving your Business English skills.
How to improve your Business English skills
English Comprehension tips
Tip 1) Key words
Watch out for certain key words and phrases in either the passage or question (or both!). These key words often act as the link between different pieces of information. In many cases they qualify the information that has been given. When you come across key words in passages and questions you need to focus on their precise meanings. You are being tested on reinterpreting the passage so ask yourself: do exactly the same emphasis in both the passage and question?
English Tip 2) Contrast words
Contrast words and phrases (e.g. however, although, but, alternatively, whereas, despite, rather, unless, instead, while and nevertheless). used to highlight differences are these contrast words: yet, at the same time and conversely. These make a transition between two clauses, or parts of a sentence.
There are certain words and phrases that you need to treat as propositions. Don’t be misled into thinking that they are facts. These include the following: claims, suggests, advocates, recommends, advises, offers, proposes, believe and considers. Treat these words with caution as they indicate a subjective statement based on one person’s opinions rather than absolute evidence.
English Tip 4) Comparisons
Be on the look-out for comparative adjectives. These are words that compare two or more things. At the simplest level, these are superlatives such as most, highest, biggest and least. But there are other words for making comparisons, e.g. more, lower and less.
5) Absolutes and generalisations
- Adverbs such as never or always compare how frequently something occurs. Be alert for any words that imply something absolute, such as no, never, none, always, every, entire, unique, sole, all, maximum, minimum and only.
- Don’t confuse them with generalisations, such as many, almost always, some, nearly, usually, seldom, regularly, generally, frequently, typically, ordinarily, as a rule, commonly, and sometimes.
- These generalisations create something of a grey area where a fact only applies some of the time. This is an important distinction. Just because something usually happens does not mean you can assume it always happens.
- It is important to recognise these words and interpret them accurately. Some words are relatively low generalisations, such as ‘a few’, ‘a little’, and ‘only some’. Similarly, ‘unlikely’ and ‘infrequent’ tell you that there is still a slight chance, which is not the same as ‘impossible’.
English Tip 6) Cause and effect
After doing lots of practice tests you will come to recognise cause and effect words and phrases. These include: since, because, for, so, consequently, as a result, thus, therefore, due to and hence. It is a good idea to focus on these as often a question will ask you to interpret how these words have been used to link different aspects of an issue or argument together.
There are subtle differences between these words and phrases, as some signal stronger causal relationships than others. A word like because indicates a direct causal link. The word so also joins facts together but does not necessarily mean that it was the first fact that led to the second.
Look out for words or phrases indicating speculation, such as perhaps, probably, possibly and maybe. Words such as may, might and can also point to the possibility of something happening. You need to tread carefully with such phrases – they do not mean the suggested outcome is guaranteed, only that it is a possibility.
If you are told – The team is almost certain to win the championship – you should not interpret this as meaning that the team will definitely win. It is just speculation, even if there are good reasons for making that prediction.
Written English tips
How to improve your written English skills
English writing skills are key throughout your education. In Primary school, Secondary school, College and University. While in education, your English writing skills will usually be used in writing essays.
How to structure English essays
- Introduction: Keep it short and to the point. Only one to two paragraphs.
- Body: Here you summarise your argument or facts. Keep it clear and to the point with an idea per paragraph.
- Conclusion: This should also be short and to the point. Here, you want to summarise your points or argument from your essay.
Your style should always be clear so that you can express your opinion clearly and precisely. Do you need to refresh your essay writing style? Try our quiz and see what might be lacking.
It might just be that you need to practice a bit more. However, taking a look at where you can improve might be just what you need. Getting stuck in a rut might be the problem, so why not freshen up your English writing skills. There is always room for improvement.
- Understand the topic
- Structure your essay – Introduction, Body, Conclusion and References if needed
- Answer the question of the essay
Improving your child’s English vocabulary
- Listen carefully when your child reads
- Set regular reading times with your child to encourage your child to love reading.
- This will also model the correct reading style with appropriate intonation.
- Plus, if you klisten carefully you can provide feedback (the most impactful feedback).
- And also, provide an opportunity to immediately ask about any unclear vocab.
Word games exercises
- Go through the alphabet and providing a word for each letter in turns.
- Or use the last letter of the word as the first letter of the word you need to think of.
- Make new sentences of the word to aid understanding how the word can be used.
- Also if the word has multiple meanings it can help your child understand the subtleties of English.
- Weekly spelling tests are excellent way of introducing new vocabulary.
Keep a weekly diary
- Choose topics for your children or simply ask them to write about their day.
- Review their work and provide feedback to help them improve.
- Don’t be overly critical about grammar and punctuation.
Play with letter magnets
- Use your fridge as the wall or a magnetic white board which is visible from the place at which you eat your breakfast.
- The word can then become a topic of conversation and can be used in sentences to help understanding.
- An easy but very effective way to help your child learn new words.
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