30 January 2013

Impress your Customers and Clients with Advanced English Language Skills

English is now the world’s third most common native language, and remains, for now the preferred language for world business. With many sectors now having employees who regularly converse in English, the requirement for learning English for Specific Purposes (ESP) is growing, even in countries where English is considered a native language.

ESP is defined to meet specific needs of learners and in this article Jeff Heasman explains how important this type of language training is, in a legal context – and how a lack of specific language training can have a negative impact upon businesses, even where English is considered a first language for many.

Impress your Customers and Clients with Advanced English Language Skills

Upon having his grammar corrected by a very brave cardinal back in the fifteenth century, the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund once said, “I am the King of the Romans and above grammar.”  Is the use of incorrect grammar in a professional context really such a cardinal sin or is it unimportant?

In my last article I discussed some typical grammar issues that I have encountered during my time in Sub-Saharan Africa and I want to again use the context of legal English to highlight this issue.

Invariably, lawyers charge clients a lot of money for their services and the expectations on service delivery are very high and rightly so.  If a client receives a letter or email from a lawyer and it contains grammatical errors, that client should, in my view, be concerned.

One expects their lawyer to have a certain level of education commensurate with the fees they charge and their professional status.  Poor grammar may give the client cause for concern with regard to other aspects of their service.

Moreover with business increasingly being conducted through email or letter rather than face to face the need to use accurate grammar and issue error free correspondence becomes crucial – even more so for non-native speakers of English.  You may have the best legal brain in the business but if the documentation you produce contains errors and these are identified by a client there is every reason for the client to start doubting the professionalism of their lawyer.

One may argue that we should be more forgiving towards non-native speakers.  However, why should that be the case if they practice from a law firm in a country where English is an official language of business?

Whilst Emperor Sigismund may have considered himself “above grammar” that is not a privilege available to non-native and native speakers of English, and a small investment in a Business English Writing Course will see a dramatic improvement in your level in just 15-20 hours – be that Legal English skills or simply writing more effective reports, proposals, letters and memos.

Needless to say there are other advanced English Language skills to which the same may apply, such as presentation or pronunciation skills

For more information visit SIMON & SIMON’s English Language Courses page.

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