what are phone lessons doc


A great rap song about Miley and all of us!


Is there any truth is what he says?


Did you tell him to go pound sand?



I got an email today from my dear friend Jen. The subject line read ” I heard this in a call conference today!’.


She explained in her email that a gentlemen was a little peeved (i.e. angry) and used the expression ‘to go pound sand’.


It was funny because when asked about someone possibly wanting to change a process that had just been completed , he said, “You know what I have to say to that? He can go pound sand.”


What does ‘to go pound sand ‘ mean?


well, it certainly is not a positive expression.  It expresses disdain and is the equivalent to ‘ go and play in traffic’ . In the above example, he wanted to explain that it would not be done.


Let’s look at it in context:


  • My best friend told me to go pound sand when I asked to borrow his car for the 10th time that month.
  • Why don’t you go pound sand ,John.


In Italian, a good translation would be ‘ vai a quel paese’ or ‘levati di torno’ or ‘smettila di rompere’



Sand (Photo credit: BuhSnarf)


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Is it in the hopper?

When something is in preparation or is going to be processed , it is in the hopper.

What is a hopper?

It is a chute or in-basket for in-coming work.

Here are a few examples in context:

  • It is in the hopper. it will be done by tomorrow.
  • I can’t speak to you about the new product. It is in the hopper. 
  • Your job is in the hopper. We will process it next.

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Is it in vacation or on vacation?

Lazzy Feet on a Blue Ocean Beach vacation

Lazzy Feet on a Blue Ocean Beach vacation (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I had 3 sessions with clients today and all three made the same mistake.

I figured it would be helpful to others if I shared it.

So, is it ‘in vacation’ or ‘ on vacation’ ?

Do we say ‘on holiday’ or ‘ in holiday’?



  • I was on holiday last week. What a treat!
  • They will be on vacation until Monday. They deserve the R&R.
  • We should have been on vacation for 2 weeks but we cut it short.

For Italian learners, the mistake stems from the Italian expressions ‘IN FERIE’ & ‘IN VACANZA’.

It should be simple enough to correct now that you know.

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Do you use the present simple correctly?


While having a conversation lesson this morning, two things popped up that I thought I could share with you.

1. We don’t use the Present Simple to express something that is happening now.

  • I work now. (Lavoro ora)
  • I am working now. (Present Continuous is the right tense in this case)

2. We don’t use the Present Simple to express an immediate decision or reaction.

  • Just a second! I make you a copy. (Un attimo! Ti faccio una copia)
  • Just a second! I will make you a copy. (Future WILL is the right tense in this case)


If you keep these two high frequency mistakes in mind, you can speak a little more accurately. Yeah!

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What does the expression ‘ out of pocket’ mean?


A friend of mine from New Jersey wrote me an email telling me about this new catch-phrase she had been hearing.

  • I am going to be out of pocket next week.
  • Don’t call me tomorrow. I will be out of pocket all day.


I had no idea what it meant in this context. I thought it could be a regional usage from the American East Coast or something to that effect.

I had heard the expression before when speaking about money or lack there of. It usually refers to losing money covering an expense — possibly an unexpected one, or one that someone else should perhaps have covered, or when you expected to make money, but lost it instead.
Upon researching it a little,  it just so happens that people are now using it to mean that you will not be reachable for a period of time. We can say it is is similar to being out of touch or unavailable.

So, next time you are out of the office with no internet access or in a situation that will not allow you to communicate all day, then you can say: ‘ I will be out of pocket all day tomorrow. Leave a message and I will get back to you as soon as I can.’



Back to Work Blues?

I am still on vacation but my mind keeps wandering to visions of Monday , my desk, my pc, my agenda and Outlook.

Dont get me wrong, I love my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world but getting back to work is always a little traumatic.

If I start up cold turkey, I will probably have tachycardia all day so I am setting my action plan for next week.

I will share it with you just in case you are in the same predicament.

Aesop  said ‘In union, there is strength’ so here it is.

1.  Sift through your email before going back to work. Keep the good. Chuck the bad and the ugly!

2.  Set the ‘ Back to Work Coffee Break’ appointment with your co-workers and get the storytelling out of your system. You risk wasting more time if you keep it in or repeat the story 6 times over.

3.  First Day equals Strategy Day. Don’t think you will get back into the swing of things and close one million issues on your first day. Use it wisely by planning your week, answering urgent emails and calls & readjusting to your working environment.

4.  You deserve a day off before you start. Try to get back home from your vacation with one day to spare. This will allow you to put everything away, get your laundry started, plan your menus for the week and get a good night’s rest before going back to work.

The above tips are not ground breaking but they do help you ease back into your routine.

Do you have any other suggestions that might help?

I hope you have a great first day back to work!


Business Class : ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’


Here the background to this post. I started watching the 3rd season of ‘Suits’ this week and Harvey’s British client used the expression ‘ In for a penny, in for a pound’.  She was in trouble and she wanted to gamble with a riskier decision because the court would  put her in jail in any case if she was found guilty.

It comes from an old British expression that has since been americanized to  ‘in for a dime, in for a dollar‘. A dime is 10 cents.


When gambling or taking a chance, you might as well go the whole way and take all the risks, not just some. Once involved, one should not stop at half – measures.


It seems like it comes from a life a crime and risk takers. When people were taken in (i.e. brought to jail) for stealing a small amount of money, it was just as bad as for a large amount.  So it was better to steal a large amount and hope to get away with it (i.e. evade responsibility)

Obverse side of a 1990 issued US Penny. Pictur...

Obverse side of a 1990 issued US Penny. Picture was created as a linear macro panoramic image, composed from 16 photos. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Examples in Use

  • We should not pay this amount. If they never audit us, we will have saved some money. In for a penny, in for a pound.
  • I dont think she is 100% right but at this point…in for a penny, in for a pound!
  • I’ve driven you to San Diego, might as well bring you all the way to Mexico. In for a penny, in for a pound!


  • In for a dime, in for a dollar
  • In for an inch, in for a mile
  • Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb
  • Might as well


Top Language: Do you feel like it?

Top Language


FEEL LIKE  is used in many different contexts. We will be looking at two of them today. It is quite useful to learn this expression because  it allows you to express a desire or wish and  also your perception of something or someone.


  • to have a desire to do or have something (i.e. aver voglia di)
  • to seem likely to do something (i.e. sembrare che)

In Context:

  • It is  boiling out there. I feel like having an ice cream cone. (desire)
  • Gertrude doesn’t feel like going to the movies tonight. (desire)
  • It feels like it is going to rain. (perception)
  • I feel like I am going to explode any minute. (perception)

n.b. verb pattern = feel like + gerund

Fluency Builder:

Find a Fluency Buddy and practice answering the following questions. If you don’t live with anyone who speaks English, call a friend, ask a colleague or contact us for a mini-phone lesson.

  1. What do you feel like eating when it is hot outside?
  2. Who do you feel like going on vacation with ?Where do you feel like going?
  3. Are you sociable ? How often do you feel like having friends over for dinner?
  4. In meetings, do you ever feel like you are not going in the right direction? What do you do when that happens?


p.s. I feel like having pistachio ice cream today!