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Our 10 Best Tips to Learn Business French (and Boost Your Career)!

Looking for opportunities to further your career? Candidates and employees with hands-on business French knowledge have a competitive edge in the global marketplace. (Not to mention, speaking more than one language often translates to higher pay.) French is one of the most widely recognized languages for doing business worldwide, and this article will help you build the foundation you need.

Why learn business French today? 

Good communication skills are essential at work, but being able to communicate effectively in business French will make you stand out among your peers and colleagues. Whether you’re looking to grow at your current company, seeking employment abroad, or branching out with French professionally, you’ll need a solid understanding of business French in order to shine. Not only that, more companies than ever are now conducting business remotely, and business French is the first step to becoming a part of the growing online workforce.

In short, no matter your career goals, business French will help you reach them!

And you’ll be in good company. There are over 80 million native French speakers spread across the world. This makes French one of the most frequently used languages for all kinds of communication — but especially for doing business.

France, Canada, Belgium, and Switzerland along with 25 other countries, including some of the most influential countries in the business world, have French as an official language. French is recognized as an official language in Madagascar, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal, Cameroon, Mali, the Ivory Coast, and many more nations on the African continent.

Besides being the official language of many countries, French is also accepted as an official language by several global organizations including the United Nations, the European Union, NATO and the World Trade Organization. Hence, learning business French is one of the higher rated attributes that you can have when you present yourself as an asset to these types of organizations.

Remember, people with business French skills are also generally paid better than those who do not know business French but have similar academic and vocational skills. The demand for talented employees with efficient business French knowledge is growing rapidly in the professional world.

How is business French different than the French you know?

Generic French and business French are different in many aspects. Keep this in mind as you begin with business French lessons.

When used in business settings, French has many differences from day-to-day French, including jargon, customs, and complex business terminology. Of course, both have vocabulary and grammar in common, but there are several differences, from tone to sentence formation and beyond.

Watch the video below for some handy expressions to use in your everyday business French situations:

When is speaking business French useful?

Speaking business French will help you navigate formal professional situations in the French language. If you aim to work in French-speaking parts of the world or in a French-speaking organization, having an in-depth understanding of the language is crucial. But you can also prove an asset for companies that simply do (or want to do) business with French-speaking organizations and countries.

And that’s not all. Say you want to help a company expand their marketing to grow their French customer base. Or, your organization wants to improve customer service for French-speaking clients. You see, business French comes in handy not just with colleagues and bosses, but in making your organization more inclusive to clients, users, and customers.

Looking to the future, companies globally will have to develop a French communication culture in their organization, even if their primary language is different. Having sound knowledge of business French in this environment will make you valuable to employers.

We’ve mentioned a few times that speaking business French can mean higher pay. Some sectors where French speakers do better pay-wise are politics, diplomacy, and law as well as teaching (not just languages) and translation services.

Moreover, when you learn business French, you add important skills beyond speaking such as letter writing, interviewing, and speaking on the phone in French.

10 Awesome Steps to Flawless Business French

Now that you know how important learning business French is, here are our best tips for doing it right:

1.      Get an online subscription to Les Echos.

One of the most read French dailies, Les Echos covers the most important business and economic news. Read one article a day of this French business newspaper, and you’ll get acquainted with a ton of business words and develop your vocabulary.

2.      Tune in to le Journal de l’Économie on France24.com.

Le Journal de l’Économie is a daily video broadcast on France 24 that offers key insights into the international economic and business world. Get caught up in the rhythm and sound of the words, even if you don’t understand everything at first. Try to find the meaning of words you don’t know, adding new ones each day.

3.      Target five new words a day.

To make the above two tips more effective, keep the number of new words limited to five only. This will allow you enough time to review what you learned the day before and memorize the words effectively.

4.      Make Wikipedia your friend.

Read a business article on Wikipedia in French, and then glance at the English page. Finally, read the French entry again to solidify your understanding. By comparing the two, you will learn how sentences are formed differently in French. This practical exposure will really expand your sentence-building skills in business French.

5.      Make it a habit to read out loud.

Always make sure that you read French texts out loud. This will help you remember what you learned and give you an upper hand in terms of pronunciation and tone. You can choose a short article from any French business magazine or newspaper to read out loud every day, or start working your way through a business book in French. Check out our recommendations below:

6.      Prepare your French CV.

A great way to learn practical business French fast and build your professional portfolio at the same time is to create your CV in the French language. This will offer you an opportunity to get acquainted with the formal terminology of the French CV as well as how to talk about your profession and accomplishments in French.

Extra practice: Write a cover letter to your dream organization in French. Have it reviewed by a native French speaker or your French tutor.

7.      Read business magazines in French.

Find business magazines and journals that are available in both French and English. Your local library or university language department can be a great resource for current copies. Read the French and English copies simultaneously. It will give you a better overall understanding of what you have read and learned.

8.      Draft your elevator pitch in French.

An elevator pitch is an easy-to-understand description of your job or company in just a few sentences. It should describe your company’s mission clearly in a short amount of time. (Imagine that someone on an elevator asks you what you do for a living. You don’t have a long time to respond!)

Master this simple introduction, and you’ll be able to speak about your job naturally in French. This gives you an opportunity to learn relevant terms and practice your professional French conversation.

9.      Follow French leaders and influencers.

There are endless platforms where reputed French leaders and influencers offer great language insight. Some notable Twitter accounts you must follow include Philippe Béchade, Julia Cagé, Jean-Claude Balès, Alain Rousset, and Stéphane Fort.

10.   Practice all the time!

Finally, you need to practice as much as you can to ensure fluency in business French! Use the tips we listed or other favorite methods to get yourself reading, writing, and speaking in French. For even more practice opportunities and to get valuable feedback, connect with our French tutors.

Bonus: Your Business French Pocket Dictionary!

No matter your field, our compilation below of the most useful business French words will get you familiar with French professional culture and vocabulary. Study these, and most importantly, incorporate them into your speaking and writing. You’ll be a business French pro in no time!

Business French — Verbs

Business French Verbs

to choosechoisir
to attractattirer
to offerproposer
to costcoûter
to make an appointmentprendre rendez-vous
to bid for a contractrépondre à un appel d'offres
to resigndémissionner
to relocatedélocaliser (for organizations)
muter (for people)
to set up a businesscréer une entreprise
to go bankruptfaire faillite

Business French — Company Organization

Business French Company Organization

companyune société
joint-stock companyune société par actions
nonprofit organizationune organisation à but non lucratif
limited-liability companyune société à responsabilité limitée
multinational companyune multinationale
small and medium-sized business (SMB)une petite et moyenne entreprise (PME)
parent companyune maison mère, une société mère
head officele siège social
branchune succursale, une filiale
management team, executive teamle comité de direction (CODIR)
legal departmentle service du contentieux, le service juridique
sales departmentle service vente
accounting departmentle service comptabilité/la compta (informal)
human resources department (HR)le service des ressources humaines (le service RH)
marketing departmentle service marketing

Busines French — Adjectives

Business French Adjectives

fashionable, trendyà la mode

Business French — People

Business French People

sellerle vendeur
competitorle concurrent
businesswomanla femme d’affaires
businessmanl'homme d’affaires
managementla direction
bossle chef
employeesles employés
staff, employeesle personnel
internle stagiaire
clientle client
managing directorle directeur général
chief executive officer (CEO)le président-directeur général (PDG)
subcontractorle sous-traitant
employer l’employeur

Business French — Things

Business French Places and Things

accountle compte
business triple voyage d'affaires
businessles affaires
assetsles biens
lossla perte
taxl’impôt, la taxe
managementla direction, la gestion, la gérance
lease, rental contractle bail
business lunchle déjeuner d’affaires
market researchl’étude de marché
feesles frais (additonal fees)
les honoraires (fees paid for work done)
liquidationla liquidation
rentalla location
profitle bénéfice
workforcela main-d’œuvre
paymentle paiement
sales, turnover (revenues)le chiffre d’affaires
laptople portable
payment by bank transferle règlement par virement bancaire
trainingla formation
layoff, dismissalle licenciement
annual financial statementle rapport financier annuel
advance paymentl'avance
salaryle salaire
pay sliple bulletin de salaire
payrollle registre du personnel
registered trademarkla marque déposée
business dealle contrat
applicationla candidature
business meetingle réunion
appointment, business meetingle rendez-vous
cover letterla lettre de motivation
call for bids, invitation for tendersl’appel d’offres
announcement, job postingl'annonce
long-term employment contractle contrat à durée indéterminée (CDI)
short-term employment contractle contrat à durée déterminée (CDD)
company conductle comportement de l'entreprise
minutes of the meeting, write-uple compte-rendu
positionle poste
brand imagel'image de marque
brandla marque
price rangela gamme des prix
promotionla promotion
full pricele plein tarif
discountla réduction
bargainla bonne affaire
rangela gamme
manufactured goodsles produits manufacturés
commoditiesles produits de base
consumer goodsles biens de consommation
floor pricele prix plancher
retail pricele prix au détail
market pricele prix du marché
price tagl’étiquette
bonusla prime, le bonus

Business French — On the Phone

Business French On the Phone

Who's calling?C’est de la part de qui ?
My telephone number is _____.Mon numéro de téléphone est le _____.
Can you call back?Pourriez-vous rappeler ?
I'll put you through.Je vous le passe.
Please hold. (Literally "Don't leave.")Ne quittez pas.
Hello, you’ve reached [Name of Company].[Name of Company], bonjour.
Goodbye.Au revoir.
It’s _______ calling.C’est ______ à l’appareil.
The line is busy.La ligne est occupée.
Can he/she call me back?Est-ce qu’il/elle peut me rappeler ?
Would you like to leave a message?Voulez-vous laisser un message ?
May I speak with ______?Pourrais-je parler à ______ ?
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