Communicating in Business 2nd Edition
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  • Communicating in Business 2nd Edition
  • Simon Sweeney
  • Published by: Cambridge University Press
  • Level: Intermediate
  • First Published in: 2003

Communicating in Business is a course book which aims to prepare professional adults to effectively apply their English skills in the workplace. This book prepares students for common situations at work like meetings, teleconferences, and business e-mail writing while focusing on important grammar structures.

Review posted: 14/10/2013
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When it comes to business English workbooks I am usually very selective and hesitant when making a purchase. From personal experience I have realized that a good business English book that covers real life language points is very difficult to find. The typical business book sometimes fails to focus on real life communication skills and the way the information is presented usually is not the most engaging for students.

As soon as I opened up this book and began analyzing its content I was pleasantly surprised. The introduction gave a clear explanation of what skills the student is expected to work with and how these skills will help the student in business. The book goes into more detail and explains that it will mainly focus on speaking and listening (without leaving out the other skills) in each of the 15 units. After finishing this course the student is expected to acquire skills in socializing, telephone use, presenting information, proper e-mail writing, participating in meetings, and negotiations.

"Communicating in Business is a short American English course for intermediate level students in or preparing for work who need to improve their communicative abilities to develop confidence, fluency, range and effectiveness."- Simon Sweeney (Author)

As I took a look at unit one I was even more impressed, the book starts off with a conversation activity where the student has to analyze a photograph and discuss what he or she thinks is happening. This is simply an introduction to the topic of cross cultural understanding where the student is supposed to work with exercises relating to different social customs, body language, welcoming foreigners into the workplace, and small talk. In the first chapter alone the student must speak, listen, participate in a role play activity and then wrap up the unit with a writing activity. The book comes with two audio CD’s and every unit in the book has at least 2 listening comprehension activities. Right from the start it was clear that book’s main focus was on speaking and listening skills, so much in fact that that you hardly ever see any true grammar exercises.

The units that follow begin to focus on more specific topics that could occur in real life. In unit two telephone activities are worked with such as setting up an appointment, holding a telephone conference, dealing with complaints, and surprisingly there is even a section on issues relating to secretaries called “The secretarial barrier.” After unit five the book goes on to focus on situations like properly beginning and closing a business meeting, organizing and giving presentations,negotiations, and decision making skills. What caught my attention the most was that at the end of the book (in Unit 15) there was a section entirely dedicated to dealing with conflict that could occur during negotiations. This section was constructed in a very impressive way because it gave great advice and practical tips on what to do when a client or co-worker suddenly refuses or becomes aggressive during a negotiation. This part of the unit gives a list of options such as: briefly changing the topic but later returning to the issue at hand, highlighting possible gains and losses for both parties, bringing in a mediator, or if necessary backing off and closing the negotiation. This section also talks about how to get your point across in a polite yet stern manner and it even states that conflict in the workplace is inevitable and the student should always expect the unexpected.

The information presented in this book is extremely practical and it can help the common English student effectively prepare themselves for the business world. The only thing I would have liked to see in this book would be some more grammar activities. Perhaps some side notes or brief grammar exercises on topics like tag questions, used to/get used to or phrasal verbs just in case the student needs to review these structures.

Since this book has a lot of useful information for the professional ESL student and most of its content deals with developing communication skills I could even recommend this book to native speakers who do not have much experience in working in a professional atmosphere. The book can also be worked with independently, but I feel that its full benefit is lost when the course is not assisted by a teacher.



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