What is business Spanish?
Is there such a thing as business Spanish? It’s a strange expression, isn’t it? As a native English speaker, you would probably never say, “My business English is excellent.” You may, however, recognise your ability (or inability) to adjust your register in certain situations so as to create a good impression. This falls under your soft skills: How well can you interact with business partners? Do you create a good impression when you meet them? Do you feel confident negotiating and striking deals? These aren’t necessarily things we all do well in our own language, let alone in a second language.
So what are you saying when you say, “I want to learn business Spanish”? Business Spanish can cover a very wide range of skills in a language, from simply getting a meeting off to a good start by introducing yourself in the client’s’ native language, to combing through the finer details of a contract. The only thing that people looking to learn business Spanish have in common is a willingness to skip some of the banalities that you often endure when first learning a language, in order to focus on what is of immediate use to them and, indeed, to their business. This is an important point. Business Spanish may well mean something very different to a salesperson than it will to data analyst. You want to learn Spanish for professionals, but what kind of professional? The questions you should really ask yourself are: What’s your profession? What would you like to achieve and in what time frame? And what are the most relevant areas of the language that you would like to focus on and be able to use quickly?
Basic Spanish for professionals
English natives have the luxury of being able to impress others with their language skills easily. Utter just a few words of Spanish to your fellow professionals and those you are talking with will likely be bowled over by your cultural sensitivity and worldliness. Learn a few words of a language in any country you visit of business and you’ll see that it really does carry a significant business value.. It helps enormously to create a good impression, and it will immediately provide a topic of conversation that is more interesting than awkward exchanges about the weather and how fine the journey was despite the fact that you’ve just spent the last six hours stuck in a metal tube with dozens of others in the sky, with little to no leg room to boot.
Talking of which, what exactly were you doing during those six hours above the clouds? Aimlessly leafing through the in-flight magazine? Striving to find a comfortable sitting position whilst balancing a cup of non-descript brown liquid on the sorry excuse for a table in front of you? Well, here’s the good news: in the future, you could use those six hours to start learning your business Spanish!
How can technology help you learn Spanish?
Modern technology has made knowledge remarkably portable. As portable as your phone, in fact. Babbel offers a huge range of app-based courses that are accessible through your smartphone, tablet and computer, enabling you to study exactly the areas of language which are relevant to you and your aims. You can follow the structured Spanish beginner courses, which guide you through all the normal beginner’s Spanish grammar and vocabulary, including how to introduce yourself and order a drink, or you can choose to undertake a more specific course on wine, food and gastronomy, departments and services, academic fields, or the digital world. No matter how obscure your area of work is, with over 7,000 hours of learning material, there’s bound to be plenty of relevant material for you. Every course can be downloaded to be done offline, so you can even access them during flight mode.
Advanced Spanish for professionals
It’s all very well to learn a few words of Spanish, but what if your aspirations are somewhat loftier? What if you want to be able to give a speech in Spanish? For frequent visitors to the Iberian peninsula or Central and South America (or, indeed, within the US itself, where over 50 million Spanish speakers live), you’ll likely get frustrated very quickly by those few words that continue to elude you –by people ordering food and drinks on your behalf and communicating with one another in a seemingly indecipherable language. Listen carefully though, because you may even understand the odd word here and there. The English and Spanish languages share some Latin roots, and consequently they also share quite a lot of vocabulary. This is often particularly evident in a business environment, where higher registers are often used and languages have an increasing tendency to borrow words from the prevailing lingua franca – English.
To improve your speech in Spanish and reach a conversational level – a level in which you can comfortably exchange thoughts, opinions and suggestions regarding projects – you’ll have to eschew the notion of business Spanish a little in order to focus on the fundamental vocabulary and grammar, while also taking time to study your own area of expertise and the related Spanish vocabulary. A great tip, however, is to study signposting language. What is signposting language? This is the kind of language you would use to structure a presentation or speech in Spanish. Students of business English will often learn phrases like moving on to the next slide, if we take a look at this graph, in addition to set phrases to talk about numerical trends. By learning such set phrases, you can structure presentations without having to learn all the underlying grammar and vocabulary individually.
Learn Spanish for your CV
Are you on LinkedIn? You probably are.
How often do you update your profile? How often do you scroll up and down, pondering career possibilities, considering your next move?
At the very foot of your profile is the option to add languages. You can add a language and then evaluate your level, inserting anything from elementary proficiency to professional working proficiency, to native or bilingual level proficiency. Most likely, everyone lies in this section.
There’s something about languages. The pursuit of proficiency in a second language is proof of your willingness to engage with the world. It’s proof of an open-mind, and an ability to learn new things and see things from different perspectives. Given the overwhelmingly positive connotations, it’s hardly surprising people opt to embellish their skills a little in order to come across well to potential employers. Furthermore, if you’re in the US or UK, or any other predominantly English-speaking country, you probably wouldn’t be put to the test in a second language, that is, unless you’re applying to be a spy in the CIA or MI5.
Wouldn’t it be great, though, if your assertions were backed up by genuine proficiency? Adding Spanish to your CV will not only go a long way to convincing potential employers of your open-mindedness and willingness to learn, it will also give you the confidence to take on new challenges in the future, and may well also present you with some business opportunities you never would have even previously imagined.
So why not get started learning some business Spanish today? Start your first course here.