Business Proficiency: Wirtschaftsenglisch für Hochschule und Beruf

Book Review: ETAS Journal Volume 36 Number 1 Winter 2018

With exam preparation material, Video DVD, and Online Material

Stephanie Ashford and Tom Smith

Ernst Klett Verlag GmbH (2017)

ISBN 978-3-12- 800067-1

This dense Business English course and exam preparation book offers a plethora of classroom exercises to help students tackle language in various business environments. 

Aimed at bringing Business English learners from the CEFR B2 to C1-level, the book provides general preparation for typical Business English exams (mainly BEC and IELTS) and supplies learners with extensive practice for developing various language skills. 

The coursebook is divided into 16 units covering topics standard to many Business English books (e.g. company organisation, marketing, and management). However, the authors do provide subjects that are less typically found in other coursebooks yet generate substantial classroom debate and discussion (e.g. legislation, money, and culture). Each unit is subdivided into six sections covering skills from vocabulary development (language focus) to providing individual/ groups ‘out-of-the-classroom’ tasks (research project).

The coursebook is designed specifically for Standard High German speakers and offers various translation activities throughout. However, these translations do not offer any variation for Swiss or Austrian speakers of German. Nevertheless, the book’s comprehensive English-German Business English dictionary in the appendix is a useful guide from which all language learners can benefit.

The coursebook offers British English and American English language usage but applies the British English spelling for its text. However, there is minimal focus to using British English as a lingua franca, which many learners in Europe often need. This is particularly true for Business English learners in Switzerland who may use English as a lingua franca for inter-regional communication (e.g. German cantons to French cantons).  

In terms of difficulty, although the book aims to bring students to the C1 level, vocabulary used throughout the book is generally of higher frequency and often language students will already have seen or used them at lower-B levels, e.g., how to spell the word ‘customer’ vs ‘costumer’ (p. 68), or the difference between micro/macroeconomics (p. 152). Nevertheless, the book excels when it comes to offering students commonly used business expressions, collocations, and colloquial expressions to make students more natural speakers.

The book’s layout is extremely compact. Pages are filled with many exercises, leaving virtually no free white space. This may lead the user to feel overwhelmed at times. Additionally, there is minimal use of visuals within the book, and when used, pictures do not seem aligned with the topic being covered. 

The book’s greatest asset is the supplemental material available to learners on the publisher’s website (www.klett.de/online). Students can download business terms, grammar files and business letter templates (from letters of complaint to job applications), which they can use in their daily business lives. The authors also provide users with a DVD that has supplemental learning material connected to each unit. However, for many students with latest-model laptops (that no longer come with a DVD player), using the DVD can be problematic.

Overall, while the book has some areas for improvement, it serves as an excellent supplemental guide for upper intermediate Business English students looking to prepare for typical Business English exams while getting practical business language use.

Emilia Siravo