How to Improve Your Business English Listening Skills
May 18, 2023
Picking up English isn’t just about learning to speak fluently in the language. Listening, reading, and writing are other essential components of good language skills. Among these, listening is by far the most crucial aspect of learning a new language. Only by listening to others speak can you develop the right skills to start conversing in English. Listening helps non-native English speakers understand pronunciations, grammar, vocabulary, and comprehension. Most importantly, listening to the context helps learners make educated guesses about the content of a conversation.
By actively listening to others speak English, you can start to pick up the basics of the language and even begin to express yourself effectively. This is why good listening skills are key to successfully learning English.
In this article, we will discuss why you might struggle with listening to others speak English and how to improve your English listening skills.
Why do you struggle with listening to business English conversations?
You might find yourself zoning out in conversations at work when they get too technical or stuck on words you haven’t heard before. There can be many reasons why you aren’t able to listen to business English in a focused way. Let’s look at some of these reasons:
You aren’t actively listening: Active listening is the practice of attentively listening to the speaker, understanding their words, and reflecting on them. It also involves listening to the speaker with all of one’s senses. This means hearing what is being said but also listening to the speaker’s body language and non-verbal cues. Practicing active listening can go a long way in improving your business English.
You aren’t familiar with the topics being discussed: The most common reason for your discomfort with business English being spoken around you is that you aren’t familiar with the subject or terms being discussed. If you don’t know the jargon being used in a conversation, you are unlikely to understand or contribute to the discussion. Business English uses industry-specific terms, ideas, and idioms that can confuse people who haven’t heard them before.
You struggle to understand people you don’t know: Many non-native English speakers find it easier to understand people whose accents and way of talking they are familiar with. Understanding unfamiliar people can be challenging if you haven’t spent time getting used to their speaking style.
External factors: Comprehension can take a hit due to external factors such as noise and the speaker’s volume or speed.
6 steps to improve your Business English listening skills
Practice active listening and ask questions: Active listening can help you become more attentive and alert you to new terms or vocabulary you aren't familiar with. Instead of getting stumped by new words, you should confidently ask the speaker to explain what they mean so that you can learn them. Active listening will also allow you to pick up on non-verbal cues and arrive at contextual meaning without knowing the exact meaning of unfamiliar words.
Listen to the news in English: An excellent way to improve your business English is to consume general or business news in the language. Try to listen to at least one news bulletin every day in English. Additionally, you can watch television programs, documentaries, and films about the business industry. This will dramatically improve your vocabulary and grammar while familiarizing you with the latest politics, culture, and economic developments.
Familiarize yourself with industry jargon: Another great way to keep up with your field's latest developments is to read industry-related magazines, newspapers, and books. When you know the terms and lingo used in the industry, it will be easier to identify them when you hear them spoken around you. Familiarity with such terminology will make you feel more confident and help you contribute to conversations.
Enroll in a business English course: If you have time, you can sign-up for a business English course that will provide you with resources and study materials to master the language quickly. Such courses typically focus on teaching you business-related English skills that can be useful when working with a primarily English-speaking business. They are designed to help you pick up the correct vocabulary and references to handle business meetings, phone calls, client interactions, and presentations.
Listen to industry-related podcasts: Podcasts are excellent tools for honing your listening skills. With a wide range of podcasts available on different platforms, you can pick up a lot of helpful information while you practice listening attentively. Both Apple Podcasts and Spotify offer a range of free podcasts about the business industry that you could find particularly interesting.
Watch English documentaries and films with subtitles on: Reading and listening to dialogues while watching business-related movies or documentaries is another way to improve your business English speaking skills. This way, the words will register in your mind as both a sound and a written word. Picking up new words will be far easier when you hear, read, and watch them used in a specific context of the film.
Improve listening skills with Immigo
Having trouble learning business English? Don’t worry, Immigo is here to help! Our live speaking classes are designed to help learners pick up English with ease. All our resources are tailored to help students learn how to listen to and speak in English fluently.
With 95% of students improving their English fluency after using Immigo, our courses will give you the confidence to converse in English in real life. For those looking for personal attention, our one-on-one learning managers are available to personalize the learning process to suit your needs. Get ready to show off your new language skills and polished vocabulary at work meetings and post-work casual gatherings!