How to Tell if Your Business English is Improving


How to Tell if Your Business English is Improving

Why do our business English students have a 100% success rate ?

A key reason is our evidence-based approach to monitoring progress. After all, when you can drill down into strengths, weaknesses and improvement rates for essential skills, you can focus effort on what delivers the most impact. And that means you see and feel how your improving English skills are making you more effective in your daily working life.

Our measurement approach is based on an evidence-based methodology, refined based on 10 years of student data. Here are a few simple ways you can leverage our techniques to track your progress.

1. Set yourself key performance indicators (KPIs) based on practical skills, not theory

Studying on its own won’t make you a better English speaker — yet all too often people focus on theory and grammar, meaning they can read English but can’t use it effectively in real life. Traditional frameworks like CEF are based on academic ability, which doesn’t necessarily correlate to a business context.

Our assessments are weighted 20% on passive skills (grammar, writing and reading) and 80% on active skills (speaking and listening). Choose your KPIs on that basis:

  • Don’t: focus on the number of pages you’ve read or how much vocabulary you’ve memorized
  • Do: identify specific English skills related to common business tasks, for example:
  • Conducting conference calls : e.g., writing an agenda in English, knowing phrases for managing participants/driving conversation, taking notes in English, being able to process information given by others
  • Presenting : e.g., drafting text-lite/image-oriented slides, knowing phrases for transitioning between sections of the presentation
  • Writing emails : e.g., knowing which salutation to use for different situations, being able to strike the right tone

2. Assess your KPIs in 3 ways

The Language Grid grading process analyzes 3 areas linked to effectiveness:

  • Grammatical accuracy and vocabulary
  • Delivery and fluency
  • Coherence and structure

For each skill you’ve identified for your KPIs, rank yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 for how effective you are (1 = not very effective, 5 = very effective).

You then have your own assessment matrix helping you measure your improvement as you study.

For example, you may feel yourself to be at a 4 when it comes to delivery and fluency for conference call phrases, because you can speak quickly and confidently. However, you may be at a 2 for coherence and structure — people often ask you for clarification because they’re having trouble following the points you make.

3. Measure your progress regularly

Revisit your KPIs every few weeks, updating your matrix with 1 to 5 gradings based on your current effectiveness level. It’s a great feeling when you see your scores increase in line with the effort you’ve put in.

That way, you can continue directing your studies based on where you’re going to get the best results.

4. Get experts to help you benchmark

Our rigorous assessment process helps our students (a) stay motivated and (b) get better results.

Qualified, native-speaker trainers measure progress for you, so there’s expert, objective scoring. You can see your real-time progress on our online leaderboard, which is a favorite feature of The Language Grid e-learning platform .

We also help you compare your progress to evidence-based benchmarks. For example, here’s data for the time taken to write one paragraph in an email:

  • CEF level 1 average — 24 minutes
  • CEF level 7 average — 2 minutes

This data helps you put your improvement in context.

Here are 2 stories that illustrate the effectiveness of this approach:

One student, who works for a consultancy company, saw a 17.5% improvement in his speaking effectiveness:

“At the beginning, I was not confident when I started a conversation. Now, when I talk with foreign colleagues, I don’t have problems — I start talking without doubts. I’m probably making errors, but I know the other person can understand me. I’m very happy with my results.”

Another student, also from a consultancy firm, had similar improvements with writing:

“I wanted to be more direct with my English writing so I work more effectively with my international colleagues. I can now write clearly and persuasively. Although the focus was not always on grammar, TLG helped me write in a way that showcases my knowledge better. They helped me improve when it comes to the difficult task of using the right tone, formality and even idioms confidently in my writing.”

Zoe Flaherty, Founding Director of The Language Grid

Learn more about our business English training approach — and how it helps you achieve measurable improvements.

Originally published at on April 16, 2020.

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