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International business speaks English – how do you demonstrate that you do?

8 February 2016

The article at a glance

With many businesses opting to use English as their operational language, many business schools are doing the same. But knowing what the …

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With many businesses opting to use English as their operational language, many business schools are doing the same. But knowing what the requirements are can be confusing.

Do you speak English?
We may have the internet to thank for the prevalence of the English language throughout much of the world today, but regardless it’s certainly true that English seems to have emerged as the de-facto business language.

The result of this is that most global business schools teach in English, even if they are not based in an English-speaking country, but what are they looking for and how do you prove your level? At Cambridge Judge Business School, as with many others, the official requirement is fluency in English, which can be demonstrated in the following ways:

IELTS (The International English Language Testing System)

For the Cambridge MBA, we ask for a total IELTS score of 7.5 with no element below 7.0. This is fairly standard for a UK university and means that in practice, you have an operational command of English with only occasional inaccuracies. Generally, you can handle complex language well and understand detailed reasoning – vital for undertaking an MBA. You should have IELTS Academic, which is intended for those who are enrolling into UK universities.

Is there any difference between IELTS and IELTS for IV (Immigration and Visas)?

For the purposes of being accepted onto the Cambridge MBA as well as other academic courses, there is no difference between these tests. According to the British Council the actual test taken is the same, “same content, examiners, format, level of difficulty, scoring and so on. The difference is in the customer journey on the test day. Test Report Forms will be slightly different, to show that you have taken the test at an IELTS UK visa session.”

TOEFL (The Test of English as a Foreign Language)

A standardised test to measure the English language ability of non-native speakers who want to enrol in American universities, it is accepted internationally, including for the Cambridge MBA. We ask for a score of 110 with a minimum of 25 in each section.

In addition to these, there are other less well-recognised tests which demonstrate English language proficiency such as TOEIC, Cambridge ESOL and the Pearson Test of English (Academic). For the Cambridge MBA, we only accept TOEFL and IELTS, but the requirements for each university and school differ.

Do I need these before I apply for an MBA?

If English is not your native language, with some schools, you can demonstrate fluency if you have taken a three-year university degree in certain English-speaking countries – and this is the case for the Cambridge MBA. However, you may still need to have completed the IELTS as a UK visa requirement.

You will need to have completed your IELTS or TOEFL (unless you are exempt) before you are accepted onto the Cambridge MBA, as we use them as part of the application, however If you have taken one of the tests and are awaiting results, we can give you a week after your application to supply them. If you haven’t yet taken the test, we would recommend you wait until the next round.

Improving your English

If you are working towards an IELTS or TOEFL qualification or you are in an English-speaking country, try to practise conversation as much as you can and use any new words you have learnt in conversations with colleagues, classmates and friends. Become familiar with the meaning of any business words within the specific field that you are currently employed in. If you are able to use English within your workplace, you could incorporate any recently learned business vocabulary into your presentations so that you gain confidence in your ability to use English.

In addition to this, reading business news and updates in English will allow you to keep up with any changes in vocabulary. Watching business programmes or online videos will allow you to become familiar with new words and learn their correct pronunciation and usage.