Effective business writing for those with English as a second language



A two-day practical workshop for those who want to improve their written English communications, in a business context. This course will equip participants with the fundamentals of English grammar, punctuation and editing when writing communications, and enable them to write more clearly, accurately and with greater confidence.

Aimed at non-native speakers of English this interactive course includes individual coaching, and participants are asked to bring in examples of written work to be reviewed. Led by a language specialist, the course aims to help participants avoid the most common pitfalls of poor written English communication, such as:
  • Is it James’ or James’s?
  • Is it it’s or its?
  • When to use a semicolon

Training objectives

The programme is designed to help participants:
  • be able to write more effective documents
  • have greater confidence in working through different stages of the writing process
  • know how to check documents so that they are clear and accurate
  • be familiar with how to deal with common problems of grammar, punctuation and usage
At the end of the programme, participants will leave:
  • more confident in their written English communication skills


This practical course is for anyone who writes for more than one hour each day, and would benefit from training in the correct use of English in a business context. It is designed specifically for non-native speakers of English.


A two-day course begins with interactive discussion and a review of grammar and editing points. The remainder of the course is spent coaching participants individually. Participants are requested to email samples of written work to the trainer in advance and also bring samples of documents they are currently working on to the course.

Special feature – the book

Copies of the trainer’s best-selling book, ‘Teach Yourself Effective Business Writing in a Week’, can be included in the package of materials if required.

The expert trainer

Martin is a highly experienced, professional reference-book editor, language trainer and consultant. He has worked with national and international companies and organisations leading courses on communications and business skills in a variety of areas, including time management, project management, report writing and how to run effective meetings.

Martin has a unique combination of skills as a highly experienced project manager, an English language specialist, a writer and editor, and a trainer and consultant.

Clients on Martin’s courses cover a wide range of industries and come from a wide variety of organisations (eg. AMEC, Arthritis Care, Baptist Union, British Dental Journal, Buckinghamshire County Council, CAPITA Business Services Limited, CARE (Christian Action Research & Education), Charles Stanley Stockbrokers, Department of Education, Equitable Life Assurance, Network Rail, South West Trains, Wycliffe Hall) from a broad range of sectors including local councils, utilities, publishing, charity, transport and financial services.

Martin is a highly experienced and popular trainer. He has strong facilitation skills and participants in his workshops regularly comment that their confidence has increased as a result of his training, as the following comments show:

‘Martin is an excellent tutor.’

‘You coped well with a disparate group of experience and knowledge, and everyone was appreciative of your relaxed yet informative style.’

‘Very professional. I have every intention of using him again.’

‘A very motivated and motivating teacher.’

‘A competent and interesting tutor .. . a good atmosphere both between students and tutor … Open structured enough for everyone to learn what they needed most to focus on.’

‘Martin is a more than able communicator through his writing and teaching. He is practical without becoming shallow, relevant without becoming simplistic. In his teaching and writing … in explaining the complexities of [the subject], he helps make things clearer and applicable to life.’

Course outline


1. Welcome and introduction

2. Grammar review

  • parts of speech (word classes): nouns, verbs, etc.

3. Drafting a text

  • mind-mapping
  • first draft
  • editing techniques

4. Ways to make a text clearer. e.g.,

  • use fewer nouns and more verbs
  • use fewer passive verbs and more active verbs
  • keep the topic clear throughout your paragraphs
  • avoid clichés, e.g., deliver something by end of play; going forward

5. Punctuation

  • comma, e.g., do you have a comma before and in a list?
  • semicolon: when do you use a semicolon?
  • full stop
  • apostrophe, e.g., James’ or James’s?
  • hyphen, e.g., a red wine bottle or a red-wine bottle?
  • capital letters
  • question mark
  • quotation marks, e.g., does punctuation go inside or outside quotation marks?
  • brackets
  • dash
  • ellipsis

6. Troublesome points in English usage, e.g.,

  • can you start a sentence with and?
  • do you have to avoid splitting an infinitive?
  • how should you punctuate a bullet-point list?
  • that or which?
  • who or whom?
  • shall or will?
  • -ise or -ize?

1. Words frequently confused, e.g.,

  • affect or effect?
  • disinterested or uninterested?
  • its or it’s?
  • license or license?
  • lose or loose?
  • personal or personnel?
  • practice or practise?
  • principal or principle?

2. Individual coaching sessions

(the exact timetable will be agreed)

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