In a recent interview with Sprachen & Beruf (Languages & Business), one of the major international business conferences that takes place in Berlin every year, Deborah Capras, the deputy editor at Business Spotlight made some interesting points on the importance of learning vocabulary vs. learning grammar.
She points out that in a survey amongst readers of Business Spotlight, a magazine for learning business English, over 90% of the readers stated that they want to learn vocabulary whereas only 50% also want to learn grammar.
I think every language learner sooner or later comes to this frustrating point of feeling that the vocabulary is not sufficient to not only get the message across but to choose the right vocabulary to express a very precise thing. This is of course very important in a business situation where you need to convince your client to sign the contract or the HR manager to give you a job. Perfect grammar only gets you so far.
In the interview Capras points out that in a recent article on Business Spotlight Keith Folse, a vocabulary researcher at the University of Central Florida, underlined the importance to focus on learning more vocabulary. He says that while poor sentence structure may hinder comprehension, poor vocabulary can stop comprehension immediately. This can of course lead to very frustrating and unpleasant situations for both sides involved.
Dedorah Capras calls this “vocabulary challenge”, a situation in which the learner’s skills are tested. This could be in a job interview or sales talk. Besides having the need to be sufficiently fluent in general English, business people need to have an entire set of vocabulary related to their industry, whether you are in pharmaceuticals, tourism or car manufacturing and more general business vocabulary for presentations and negotiations.
You can read the entire interview with Deborah Capras over at the Sprachen & Beruf website.
Picture by mconnors