Is it better to study business Spanish or general Spanish?
Will knowing Spanish help me develop my professional career?
Do I need a teacher with experience in corporate environments or can I go without?
If you are learning Spanish and you would like to use it in a professional environment, you might be interested in taking targeted classes. These classes would be dedicated to meeting specific goals, in this case business, or for work, or for corporate environments in general.
Business Spanish classes are becoming increasingly popular in the past few years due to language growth and the economic development of Latin America. Companies have an increasing interest in the Hispanic market and because of this they are looking for employees that speak Spanish.
That being said, quite a few students have doubts over which type of class is most convenient for them, or don’t understand the differences between courses.
Additionally, it is difficult to find a teacher with relevant experience in the corporate world and can understand their student’s specific needs. Consequently, many students stick to general classes.
Is this the best outcome? In my opinion no. Before becoming an online Spanish teacher, I worked as an external Financial Auditor and a Financial Controller, with activities in Portuguese and a few operations in English. Although I attended language classes, sometimes I would face the same recurring frustration in relation to the focus of those classes.
At first, I had problems discussing in a foreign language important topics, maintaining complicated conversations over the phone and expressing my opinions before bosses and colleagues.
Sometimes the classes you attend are not designed for the real world, as they serve different purposes. Thus, forcing you to learn with restricted time through errors and misunderstandings at the same time that you are under the pressure of work (or, preparing to look for work in a Spanish-speaking company).
That is when I realized that it is important to find a teacher that, on top of teaching grammar and vocabulary, can put themselves in the shoes of the students. Having a native tutor is not enough with regards to Business Spanish classes, and I would like to explain to you why.
1.-Why Business Spanish is different?
For you to better understand the difference between general and business Spanish let me give you an example.
Imagine you are at your company trying to close a business deal with a new Hispanic client.
You have recently met and it is important to create a trustworthy environment for the deal to go forward. At this moment, speaking Spanish confidently is critical because it opens new opportunities to connect with your client.
You have spent years studying Spanish and are capable of using everyday grammar and vocabulary. But, can you maintain a business conversation? Do you understand the cultural differences that exist between Hispanic clientele? Are you capable of being diplomatic through Spanish?
If you thoroughly consider it, you will find out that there are a few things that you will not learn from a general Spanish class. You need other skills.
- Understand and use the vocabulary appropriate to your sector.
- Negotiate and debate with your colleagues, bosses, clients and providers regarding prices, deliveries and conditions.
- Comprehend texts, reports and technical articles.
- Maintain extended conversations on the phone, skype or otherwise.
- Write formal cards and emails.
- Know customs and social norms from Hispanic countries applied to your industry.
Are you learning all this in your general Spanish classes?
Most likely not, because it has a different focus. General Spanish courses prepare you for solving other types of situations.
2.-Business Spanish will prepare you for work at your company
Negotiating is present in all workplaces, including if you do not hold a high level of responsibility or don’t directly deal with clients.
I have met students that think that business Spanish is only used for closing large deals, underappreciating the potential to strengthen relations in a multicultural company environment.
In reality, business Spanish will help you in situations that are very recurring in any company:
- Coming to an agreement with another department over the delivery of data or an assignment.
- Negotiating with headquarters over the order of priorities during a heavy workflow.
- Soliciting a pay rise or better working conditions.
- Asking for a change of work schedule.
- Requesting information, you need from colleagues in other departments (and how to remind them when they do not meet the agreed dates).
Reaching agreements and negotiating form part of everyday life. For this type of interactions with coworkers and bosses you need strategies. These strategies include assertive expressions and a big understanding of company culture, language and country. General Spanish classes are insufficient in this context.
3.-Learning material and exercises adapted to your objectives
Business Spanish courses greatly consider the context in which the language will be used. The objective is that the student can independently defend themselves in the corporate world, and that implies having a deeper knowledge of everyday grammar and vocabulary.
Consequently, professional Spanish courses have distinct exercises and didactic material.
For example, in my classes I like to recreate the same contexts that you would encounter in your workplace. I have worked for more than 10 years in multinational companies and have lived through many of the situations that I now work in class: Job interviews, oral presentations, team meetings, videoconferences, negotiation with off-shores offices, drafting projects or action plans, debates, negotiating with external consultants, resolution of conflicts, agreements with bosses over salary and work schedule, etc.
In addition, the exercises adapt to the sector in which you work, and if it is in your interests, also a specific country. It is not the same working for a company from Spain, or from Mexico or Argentina.
4.-Is it too late to start studying business Spanish?
Knowing Spanish is becoming more and more important in the global economy. English has and still is fundamental, however Spanish is gaining grown for various motives:
- It is the second most spoken language in the world behind the Chinese.
- Latin-American and Spanish markets have opened, and their companies have internationalized. This has created new commercial relations and Spanish can be considered a business language.
- Spanish is growing beyond its natural frontiers, Hispanic countries. United States, Brazil, China and the Philippines show a growing interest in this language.
Because of all of this, knowing Spanish can be a fantastic opportunity for you. It doesn’t matter if you are still in university or have many years of experience under your belt. There is always going to be time to learn Spanish with a system adapted to your lifestyle.
In conclusion: If your primary motive for studying this language is professional, I advise you that you undertake business Spanish classes. The grammar is the same, but you will learn specific vocabulary and will have access to exercises developed for business.
Classes will be aligned with your true intentions. This will help you stay motivated and progress much faster in order for you to achieve your professional objectives.