Why Business English Skills are Best Learnt Online

Madhulika Gautama

In our ten years of designing and delivering business English skills training – both online and offline – to over 2,000 professionals in organisations across the globe, the team at EnglishCoach has come to believe that business English skills are best taught online.

Before Covid-19 hit in January of last year, our business English programmes required organisations and their teams to carve out time (and space) from their schedules for language interventions that were rolled out over the span of a month or two. This physical requirement of the design was often taxing on the organisation, employees and facilitators too. Not to mention the costs associated with such traditional training – venue, course material, travel and logistics – that bloated training budgets.


The pandemic required us to pivot to an online mode of delivery for our business English interventions (journey programmes spanning 6-8 weeks), freeing organisations from the need to create a space where employees could converge twice or thrice a week, at a predefined hour, for a significant period of time. Our own experience at EnglishCoach has been that it’s much more difficult for shared time to be created physically than it is to create it online. Participants are more likely to skip physical sessions than they are likely to skip online sessions.

A Live Business English Session in Progress

This pivot to an online and blended mode of delivery has been the most beneficial for the employee, who could now access course content at their convenience and whose learning was no longer restricted to particular hours. In a recent study, the Research Institute of America concluded that online learning boosts retention rates by 25 to 60 percent, compared to retention rates of 8 to 10 percent with traditional training. This is because online learning allows employees to have more control over the learning process where they are able to revisit training as needed.

At EnglishCoach, we have found that the online-blended model enables an organisation’s workforce to enrol from any part of the world and participate with ease in a six-week business English programme, thereby bringing together learning groups from different geographical regions. Instructor-led sessions, held as per the availability and convenience of the audience, ensure that the team’s schedules remain as unaffected as possible too. A study completed by the Center for Digital Education found that 73 percent of educators who utilise a blended learning instruction model observed an increase in learner engagement.

We find that employees are able to open up more freely in online sessions than they are able to in a classroom – at least, in the context of language training. A part of this could be attributed to the idea that there are fewer barriers in online training, helping participants feel less self-conscious so that they can focus on learning. It also helps that online training provides more of a controlled environment than a classroom, allowing participants to feel secure so as to make mistakes and learn from them.


In our blended approach of 60 percent of the learning time committed to live instructor training and the rest to self-paced learning, we noticed how participants enjoyed learning on-the-go. We observed that participants logged into our Learning Management System (LMS), learning.englishcoachservces.com, at different hours of the day to practice speaking, writing or attempt a reading or listening comprehension task. They were engaged in learning around the clock!

It became apparent to us that participants thrived in a model that was designed to have a long-term impact by being systematic and sustainable.

An online blended design for developing spoken and written English skills, an essential business skill, allows professionals to sustain learning by participating in adequately spaced, systematically scheduled instructor-led sessions while having the opportunity to review and revisit content in their own time in self-paced learning phases. This approach allows us to have the time and space to provide practice and feedback to professionals in either one-on-one coaching programmes or group training courses.

Online training for business English skills allows each instructor-led session to transform into impactful micro-learning modules that empower participants to sustain and thrive in a two-month learning journey. It also gives participants the time to consistently progress on a good learning curve.

The proficiencies gained because of this repetitive and expanded system of learning saves both the company and professional time and money. According to a Brandon-Hall Study, online learning typically requires 40% to 60% less employee time than learning the same material in a traditional in-person setting.

When IBM adopted a new online learning program a few years ago, they found out that employees were able to learn between 3-5 times more compared to traditional training using physical manuals, books, and classroom education.


A Happy Group of Participants at the End of an Online Business Communication Workshop

We’ve trained over 200 professionals since mid-2021 in our spoken and written business English programmes. The online mode of delivery has ensured that building the skill to write and speak with clarity and confidence doesn’t need to be rushed. Just the fact that online training makes itself available to the idea of more, we’re able to do more – more sessions, more catch-ups, more reviews and more support.

In terms of results, 76 participants trained in business writing skills, including email writing, showed an average improvement of 15.87% in pre versus post assessments. Twenty-nine participants who completed our flagship spoken and written business English skill programme – Speak Better Write Better, showed an improvement of 21.78% in terms of the ability to speak with clarity and reduced grammatical errors.

Participant feedback affirms that online training is the best way to pick up and practice business English skills. In a business English intervention rolled out for the administrative staff at a leading management school in Hyderabad, Telangana, the head of the institute’s Learning Resource Centre shares: “I found the training nicely organised and appreciate the well-designed portal where features like live practice, discussion forum, interactive activities and easy navigation were impressive. The live sessions had good presentations by the facilitators and it was complemented with well-structured material in the portal.”

Madhulika is Chief Operating Officer at EnglishCoach Services.