Business Class: Learning Organization





Here is a word I stumbled on as I was reading an article in a HBR journal I bought.

I like the term Learning Organization because it makes me feel like there is continuous improvement and humility in the working environment.

I suppose it’s a kind of buzzword that was developed in time.

Fluency Builder:

  1. Do you work for a company that can be defined as a learning organization?
  2. What are the most interesting and useful training paths your company offers?
  3. How important is humility in an organization? Do you think it’s a value that is instilled with a lead by example model?

Send us your feedback! If your company offers an amazing training course, share the idea with us!


p.s to stumble on : to learn or discover unexpectedly



Reason For Reading: Words To Leave Off Your Resumé


I love lists like these especially when they contain flagrant faux pas on resumés that we see all too often. You may not agree with all of the items but they can sure strike up some lively conversation among co-workers. Take a moment to read this short article from Mashable called Words To Leave Off Your Resumé  and tweak your resumé to make it the best to could be. Don’t forget to read the vocabulary section first.Oh!…my personal favorite is the one on not mentioning your high school!

Vocabulary Boost:

  • to doom your chances: to ruin your possibilities
  • to hit your quota: to reach your target
  • you’re not dong yourself a favor: you are not helping yourself
  • a skill set : a group of capabilities
  • a job seeker: someone who is looking for a job
  • learner and cleaner: concise
  • to toss the resumé aside: to not consider you by not selecting your cv
  • to harm: to hurt
  • a career obituary: a list of tasks related to old work positions
  • a significant other: your partner in life
  • to gloss over: to read without interest because it has been seen before

Fluency Builder: Share these questions with your teacher and friends & Speak a little English today!

  1. Do you agree with the items in the article?
  2. How does your resumé measure up?
  3. How long should a CV be in your opinion? Is yours that length?
  4. Have you got an English version to your Resumé?


p.s. If you need to have your English CV proof-read, edited or translated, we can do that for you. Send us your request by emailing us for a quote.

Play This Game…Odd One Out

Here is a game I like to play with my learners.

It’s called Odd One Out.

Which of the following doesn’t belong? Don’t forget to tell us why!

  • pal
  • mate
  • buddy
  • dimwit
  • chum



p.s. the odd one out is such an important word to learn…LOL!

Odd one out

Odd one out (Photo credit: tony newell)

Video Watch: Do you know how to read & write code?


This is an awesome video clip. No vocabulary this time…just sit back, relax and try to follow what the top tech voices have to say about their industry, coding and the future!

Most schools don’t teach this. Will we see reading, writing, math & coding in high school as core subjects in the near future? I hope so.

I wanted to buy a pc for my son for his birthday and someone advised me not to. I think this video has just changed my mind.

Do you know how to read and write code?





Business Class: Ace In The Hole


“It was their ace in the hole! That’s how they won the bid.”, a learner of mine said.

The person I am speaking about is a salesman. He is in the services sector. Last week, he lost a deal because a competitor of his used a personal acquaintance to secure a contract. it was an unexpected move that turned the negotiation in the other guy’s favor.

An ace in the hole is something or someone who is held in reserve to turn things around when necessary.

Here is an example:

‘John, the new hire, is our ace in the hole. He has already worked on this kind of project in the past & he’s given us invaluable suggestions.’

Where does it come from?

An ace is one of the cards in a deck of playing cards. When playing poker, we can deal cards  face down and keep cards hidden. The hidden cards are called hole cards. If the hole card is an ace, it’s the best card you can have.

Here is another example in context:

‘ Three friends and I went out to a bar for drinks in Milan. We met a few Californian girls that night. They were being hit on by all the male patrons in the bar. We quickly pulled out our ace in the hole.  Giovanni, whose mom is American, spoke perfect English. ‘

Let’s just say they were victorious when Giovanni revealed he could communicate with the ladies!

‘Ace in the Hole’  is also the name of a movie in the 1950ies with Kirk Douglas. If you like  old flicks, this one is great…8.2 on IMDb.

I hope you have a few ‘aces in the hole’ ready for use;-)


English Phraseology: Political Chatter

learn english1

There were so many more people lingering at the coffee shop this morning. Small groups of  young men discussing the results of the Italian elections, little old ladies seated chatting about the Tsunami Tour and the barista exclaiming “ The People have spoken!”. It got me thinking that a post on politics lingo could help my readers today. Habemus Ducem?….NOT!



Compound Words:

  • Mudslinging:  the use of insults to attach an opponent’s reputation
  • Voter Turnout: the number of eligible voters who actually vote in an election
  • Voter Fatigue: the condition in which voters become tired of all candidates by Election Day, and may thus be less likely to vote.
  • Run-off Election: a follow-up election that is held when no candidate receives the majority of  votes cast in the original election.


Vocabulary Boost:

  • The right wing coalition got majority votes for the Senate. (i.e. several parties collaborating)
  • I hate watching politics on TV because there is so much rhetoric!(i.e. language used to influence people that may not be honest or reasonable.)
  • It was a tight race. (i.e. small margin of victory)
  • His campaign gained momentum over the last month. (i.e. it became more & more effective/successful)
  • He thinks all politicians should be vetted before entering the political arena(i.e. to be evaluated, examined, investigated)


Idioms in Context:

  • I am on the fence about who to vote for.(i.e. unable to decide about something)
  • This victory did not establish him as the clear front-runner. (i.e. one that is the undisputed leader in a race or competition)
Beppe Grillo

Beppe Grillo (Photo credit: Niccolò Caranti)


Fluency Builder: Discuss the following questions in class or with a friend to practice speaking about this topic.

    1. How would you describe the political climate in your country to a foreigner?
    2. What are the main political parties in your country?
    3. Have your political views changed in the last decade?
    4. Should voting be compulsory?
    5. Who is the most controversial politician in your country at the moment?


Can you think of any other useful expressions we can learn about politics & voting? Post them so we can learn together.

This was inspired by the breakie (i.e. slang for breakfast ) I  had at the coffee shop with my little macho men(i.e. two little boys) this morning !


Ask Task: IPad By My Side

ask task

We asked Heather to talk to us about her beloved IPad. It’s a device she uses often. She shares her favorite apps in this interview & also compares her Ipad to her computer. She’s got a great voice…very Lady Diane!

Play the interview and try to listen for the expressions below:

Vocabulary Boost:

    • I guess: I imagine
    • Round about: approximately
    • I wonder how I ever managed: I ask myself how I ever survived/coped
    • The hassle: the trouble
    • To fish out: to pick
    • To be honest: to tell the truth
English: iPad with on display keyboard

English: iPad with on display keyboard (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Listening Quiz:

1. How many hours does she use her device per day?

2. Can you describe dropbox?

3. Can she use her computer and Ipad interchangeably?

View the transcript: Ask Task- Ipad By My Side

Fluency Practice: Discuss what you’ve heard with your teacher and classmates

  1. Do you own a tablet? Can you live without it?
  2. Do you change devices as soon as new versions come out?
  3. Are kids in your life tech savvy? is that good or bad in your opinion?
  4. Does your company provide tablets for employees?

Share the Ask Task with your friends.


Business Class: Hindrance



As I was watching ‘Lincoln’ , I heard the word ‘hindrance’. Do you know what this word means?

It is an important word that is considered difficulty even for native speakers.

A hindrance is a person or thing that makes a situation difficult.

  • He is more of a hindrance to our organization than a facilitator. He needs to get with the program.

The act of making it difficult for someone to act or for something to be done is actually pretty common at work.  Here are a few another examples:

  • She’s got a strong character. At what point does this become a hindrance?
  • Is my presence here a help or a hindrance? Tell me the truth.

Use this word during the week either in a meeting or in an email. Write a sentence with this word in it &  jot it down on a ‘post it’. Repeat it every chance you get.  I especially like sticking a note on my dashboard in the car. I repeat it going to and from work.

Using new vocabulary in context repeatedly will help you save it in your long term memory & that’s the end goal, right?



English Phraseology: Winter Bites

learn english1

It snowed heavily in my town yesterday. As I was shoveling, I started thinking about a few the vocabulary words associated to snow & winter. Here is what I came up with.

Compound Words:

  • Snowfall:  snow that falls in a particular place
  • Snow Storm:  heavy snowfall with strong winds also know as blizzard
  • Snowplow : a vehicle that pushes snow to the side of the road
  • Snowball fight: what kids love to do when it snows…throwing snowballs at each other

Vocabulary Boost:

  • The snow should start melting today. It’s sunny. (i.e. it will transform into water and disappear. We can also use the verb to thaw which is a synonym)
  • The roads are treacherous. (i.e. it’s dangerous to drive on them because of ice and snow)
  • Did the snow settle in your area? (i.e. Did it stay on the ground?)
  • We were snowed in last night. (i.e. we couldn’t leave home because of the snow)

Idioms in Context:

  • I’m snowed under at work. I can’t leave before 9pm every night this week. (i.e. I’ve got an excessive amount of work to do)
  • The managing director’s dismissal has had a snowball effect. There have been 20 resignations ever since. (i.e. it’s created a trend…more and more people are leaving)

English: A snowball fight at the Dupont Circle...

Fluency Builder: Discuss the following questions in class or with a friend to practice speaking a little English today.

  1. Do you like the cold or do you feel more in your element when it’s hot?
  2. Have you made a snowman this year?
  3. Do you ski? If so, can you describe your favorite skiing spot?
  4. Have you ever been snowed in due to a blizzard? How did you manage?

Can you think of any other useful expressions related to snow, winter and cold weather? We look forward to your posts!

This was inspired by the 3 hours of winter fun I had with my kids yesterday!


ONE by U2

Here’s one of the best songs from the 1990’s from Achtung Baby. Did you know that ONE was a benefit single with all the earnings going towards AIDS research at the time.  Interpretation here is tough. Is he speaking about a lover, AIDS, Berlin…they can all work.  What do you think? What does this song mean for you?


Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same? Will it make it easier on you now? You got someone to blame. You say…

One love ,One life ,When it’s one need , In the night

One love ,We get to share it ,Leaves you baby if you ,Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you? Or leave a bad taste in your mouth?

You act like you never had love And you want me to go without?

Well it’s…Too late ,Tonight ,To drag the past out into the light

We’re one, but we’re not the same .We get to Carry each other

Carry each other …One…

Have you come here for forgiveness? Have you come to raise the dead? Have you come here to play Jesus To the lepers in your head?

Did I ask too much? More than a lot. You gave me nothing .Now it’s all I got

We’re one But we’re not the same

Will we hurt each other.Then we do it again

You say Love is a temple Love a higher law

Love is a temple Love the higher law

You ask me to enter But then you make me crawl

And I can’t be holding on To what you got When all you got is hurt

One love One blood One life

You got to do what you should

One life With each other.. Sisters …Brothers

One life But we’re not the same

We get to Carry each other Carry each other

One… life …One

Vocabulary Boost:

  • to blame: to think a person is responsible for something bad
  • a bad taste in your mouth: a feeling of regret or remorse
  • to drag: to move something to another place with resistance
  • forgiveness: the action of accepting an apology
  • to raise the dead : to speak about things that are in the past (i.e. buried)
  • the lepers in your head: Leprosy eats away skin so in this case thoughts that are bothering you (i.e. consuming your brain)
  • to crawl:  to move around on hands and knees

Reason 4 Reading: Here is an article on SLATE  that might interest you :  U2-The 15 Best Songs

Fluency Builder: Answer these questions in class or with friends

  • What do you know about U2? 
  • Who is your all-time favorite band and why?
  • What genres do you listen to ? Is there only one or is your listening choice influenced by your moods?
  • Do you sing in the shower or in the car? If so, what song do you sing most often?
  • Can you play music at the office on open speakers? Do you use your mp3 player with a headset at work?

Find the time to speak English today!

We’d love to get your feedback on this song? Post a comment…it’ll make us smile!


p.s. I love singing Third Eye Blind’s  ‘Motorcycle DriveBy ” in the car. Let me share it with you.