Aug 112015

Oh my! I’ve fallen behind with this blog – but we’ve been busy. Honest! By way of explanation/excuse, here are three of our latest videos.

American baseball idioms

We’ve finished our four part series. Here’s the latest:

And if you think you’ve missed one, here’s a link to all four

Come, go, bring, take, fetch, get

Here’s a handy video to help you avoid any confusion. This was fun to make!:

Sympathetic and Nice

Perfect for latin-language speakers

Needless to say, all these videos are available with clickable transcripts at Simple English Videos. Keep coming back for more!

 Posted by at 11:07 pm
Jun 132015

What are they?

  • They take place in boardrooms, offices, corridors, restaurants, dorm rooms, online, on trains, planes, busses… name a location and they’ve probably happened there.
  • They generally last somewhere between 3 minutes and several days.
  • Participants might stand up, sit down, wear suits, jeans, pajamas, baseball hats, piercings etc and they generally range in age from around 15 -100 or so.
  • Participants might have power and status rankings of 0-100 that don’t necessarily correlate with their age.

The answer is business meetings, of course. And something interesting that we know from speech data is that business meetings are generally littered with small talk at any stage of the discussion, which can be about…  well, anything.

So all in all, business meetings are rather hard to pin down. But communicating successfully in meetings is crucial for most of my students so I wanted to have a stab at making a short series of ELT videos about them. I reasoned that there would probably be three things that would resonate with many learners…

  • Time would be limited
  • The discussion would be purposeful
  • Making yourself understood and understanding would be paramount.

We were able to shoot some of the scenes in the YouTube studios in NYC with a splendid cast of volunteers. I’m very grateful to them and here is the first in the series which is about time management…

And here’s the second one which is about making decisions:

And here’s the third and final one which is about understanding

Many thanks to our cast of stars: Michelle Kaplan, Breahne Dolan, Joy Chu and Kathy Fagan.
Check out more of their work here:
Michelle – All Ears English – a terrific podcast for English learners – great for advanced conversational English and IELTS preparation.
Kathy – English teachers will love Kathy’s reflections on ELT at her Free-Range ELT blog. Check it out here:
Breahne is model as well as an actress and you can find out more about her work here:

 Posted by at 3:52 pm
Jun 032015

These words often come up in Business English classes, and I think they’re worth learning!
Here’s a video about them:

It’s available with a clickable transcript here.
Some possible discussion questions:
1. You need to sell your car. You might be able to get more money for it if you sell it privately, but is it worth the bother?
2. Is it worth paying more for vegetables that are labelled “organic”?
3. Which is more worthwhile:
a. learning the piano
b. learning a language
c. spending time with your family?
4. Your top sales person always arrives late and they’re disruptive in meetings. Is it worth making an issue over?
5. You’re buying a new washing machine/cell phone/car. Is it worth buying a service contract?
6. Your house is on fire and you can only save one thing. What’s worth most to you: your photographs, jewelry, pet? What?
7. Which is worth more? Time or money?

 Posted by at 7:27 am
Mar 182015

Business English students have notoriously diverse needs, but there’s one thing they generally have in common – lack of study time. Knowing how complicated their schedules can be, Carl Dowse and Justine Arena came up with course to accommodate the busy schedules of Justine’s Brazilian students. It has:

  • traditional face-to-face classes
    online study they can do whenever they have a free moment
    live online lessons they can attend from wherever they are

The participants’ verdict? It’s clear from the feedback that they appreciated it. You can read more about the course in a post Carl made here. Could you see this working in your part of the world? Get in touch with Justine and Carl if you can, because they’re interested in working with partners in other regions.


 Posted by at 10:52 am