When a good command of English is no longer enough, you should aim for full fluency in English
If your clients or business partners are based in majority native English speaking countries, a good command of business English is probably not enough. You, your team or organisation will survive with a B2 or C1 level, but if you want to communicate successfully in those marketplaces, you’ll do it more comfortably with a C2 level.
So what does a C2 level mean when it comes to speaking and understanding?
- A C2 or proficiency in business English means you can do your job just as well in English as in your first language. You have excellent leadership communication skills and advanced negotiation skills in English. You can give a high level business English presentation or comfortably talk to many different people for hours on end.
- Proficiency means mastering not just formal English, professional English or business English, it also means you can speak colloquial English and understand a variety of accents and versions of English. Networking in English, telling a story or joke or doing English small talk is within your English language know how.
- If you’re a C2, you can express finer shades of meaning precisely. And you can understand when other people are doing this. You can read between the lines and detect nuance. It often means you have insights into at least one English speaking culture and can understand things like irony, sarcasm or a sense of humour different to your own.
So if you want to truly understand your English speaking clients or business partners, put yourself and your teams on a path to proficiency. One place to start can be to familiarise yourself with the CEFR level self assessment grids. Identify your own level and understand where you still need to improve: https://www.coe.int/en/web/portfolio/self-assessment-grid