In this lesson we look at some of the wordplay used in shop names and learn some vocabulary relating to shops. You can download a PDF with the transcript and vocabulary for this lesson here, and you can find all ten videos in this series on the Learn English With Photos You Tube channel.
ABOUT BLAIR ENGLISH Blair English is run by Chris Clayton, an English teacher based in Madrid. The website provides a series of free and quick online business, cv/resume and social English vocabulary exercises at different levels. Each of the exercises starts with a text where some of its vocabulary is highlighted in bold. This text is then followed by a quiz where the answers to the questions are the highlighted vocabulary from the text. When an answer is correct, an 'info' box will appear after the answer box, where more information about the word/phrases and how to use it correctly is contained. The info box also contains a Spanish translation of the word/phrase. There are also some articles on the website. They are written in simple English and contain advice on how to do things like write a business email or choose an English course.
WHAT I THINK The site is well-designed and there's a lot of useful content for business English students. However, it's a pity that the dialogues are only available in written form. It would have been much more useful had there been an audio version as well. And I'm not sure that an article featuring online poker tips is really appropriate for this sort of website!
TRANSCRIPT From the time we are children, we swap things with others. We give and take for mutual benefit. This same principle of exchange and enrichment is what motivates trade between countries. Trade is widely regarded as a spur for economic growth. It encourages countries to specialize in certain areas of strength. This enables the world to produce more goods, and more kinds of goods than it otherwise could. Since World War II international trade has increased seventeen fold, helping to ignite economic growth around the globe. Despite the obvious benefits of free trade, there are many who are motivated to limit it. Tariffs, trade bans, and quota restrictions can be used as weapons to punish competing and opposing nations. This could lead to retaliation and a devastating trade war. Some critics argue that not all trade is good trade. Trading with poor developing countries, where wages are usually lower and working hours longer than in developed countries, can create an imbalance. The result can be a loss of jobs in high-wage economies. Despite these concerns free and open trade should be embraced. Embracing the alternative is child's play.
COMMENT These videos would be useful for teachers of Business Studies or Economics classes. I found the sound effects a bit over-intrusive though ...
The board of Wrigley's Chewing Gum Ltd. is having a meeting. A man interrupts with news of Sir Alex's resignation, telling his colleagues, "We face ruin. Alex Ferguson has retired".
EXPLANATION Ferguson was famous for standing on the touchline, chewing gum and yelling at players and referees, and even chewed gum during interviews. His resignation is therefore bad news for the gum manufacturer as sales will drop.
COMMENT The cartoonist is, of course, exaggerating, but it would be interesting to know if Sir Alex's chewing gum habit has boosted sales over the course of his career.
VOCABULARY Your resignation is a formal statement of your intention to leave a job or position. • The managing director has offered his resignation and it has been accepted. The corresponding verb is resign. • The most successful manager in the history of English football has resigned.
A U.S. company has created a blueprint to create gun parts using a 3D printer. Julie Noce reports.
As the gun debate continues in the U.S., one American company has created a blueprint to create gun parts using a 3D printer. A group called Defense Distributed has released instructions that anyone can download that explains how to use a 3D printer to make an AR-15... the part of a semi-automatic rifle that ordinarily requires legal permission to own. 3D printers use a process called additive manufacturing to make objects from a digital model by laying down layers of material. Today's affordable 3D printers are used to make simple items like keychains and Legos. In the wake of the Newtown Connecticut elementary shooting in which 20 children were gunned down, anti-gun violence advocates say the prospect of duplicating a lethal weapon is alarming. The AR-15 information has already been downloaded more than 10,000 times since it was made available on February 25. The founder of the company said the goal of release of the information is to "teach people practical anarchy."
Movember is a moustache growing charity event held during the month of November each year that raises funds and awareness for men's health. This is a slide presentation I produced for a lesson about Movember with my EM Normandie students.
In the presentation, you'll find some screenshots from the Movember website, a 'moustache quiz', and some pictures of media coverage of Movember. There's also a role play activity at the end, which you can download here as a Word file. I also used the wonderfully funny Movember Song.
This is a great topic for business students since it covers topics such as public awareness campaigns, buzz marketing and word-of-mouth marketing, event marketing, merchandising, and so on.
The Business of English from Australia Network is a 15-part series for intermediate to advanced English language learners which looks at the language used in everyday business situations such as meetings, presentations and negotiations. You can watch the episodes online or download them as a video podcast. Full transcripts are available for each episode.
COMMENT Each ten-minute episode features a short business sketch which is then dissected by the presenter. A fantastic resource for learners and teachers alike. Check out the Australia Network site for more English video series, including Study English, an IELTS preparation course.
English at Work is a BBC Learning English series which follows the fortunes Anna, a sales executive at Tip Top Trading, the fastest-growing company in the plastic fruit sector. Each episode features a recorded dialogue for which you can download the audio, and a PDF script. The series is also available as a podcast.
COMMENT All the previous episodes are still available online (31 in all!), which makes this a great resource for anyone who wants to work on their listening skills while improving their business English vocabulary.
Shares in Facebook continued below their initial public offering price of $38 as questions arise after a muddled debut last week. Conway G. Gittens reports.
TRANSCRIPT REPORTER: Wall Street's attitude towards Facebook seems to have quickly turned from like to dislike. Shares of the social media network opened lowered on its second day of trade, sinking as low as $33, or 13 percent, a share by mid-session. Underwriters who helped prop up the stock on the first day of trade were absent this time around. There are also questions as to whether Friday's chaotic debut by the Nasdaq created the environment for the stock to fall further. But Joseph Foudy of the NYU Stern School of Business says he thinks the drop has more to do with investor sentiment about this specific stock. JOSEPH FOUDY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ECONOMICS AND MANAGEMENT, NYU STERN SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: "The fact that it has gone down in price is purely a reflection of the initial offering price and the fact that it was so rich. The company is valued at something like 75, 100 times earnings and we really have no indication that it's going to be able to earn that kind of revenue that will justify that valuation." REPORTER: Trading continues to be frantic as investors try to figure out what's the right price for Facebook shares. More than 52 million shares traded hands in just 15 minutes, and that's on top of the massive trading volume seen in Friday's debut. Conway Gittens, Reuters.
I'm pleased to announce that the Business Words iOS app I created for learning business vocabulary is now available for free in Apple's App Store. So don't delay, download it today!
DESCRIPTION Business Words is ‘hangman’ type game aimed at students or professionals who have a good level of English but wish to improve their vocabulary in the field of business and management. Business Words is also a useful resource for anyone preparing for a professional exam such as the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). The game uses a database of 2,000 words and is similar to the game of hangman. Players have to find the missing word in a sentence relating to a specific business topic by guessing individual letters. Each game lasts 10 minutes, and the aim is to score a maximum number of points. The words and sentences are organized into 12 topic areas: Economy, Law, Industry, Trade, Marketing, Human Resources, Banking, Travel, Retailing, Finance, Communication, and Technology. There is also a ‘Mixed Bag’ featuring words from all categories. Translations of all words are given in French. The author of Business Words is Jeffrey Hill, who teaches English at the Ecole de Management de Normandie in France.
VERDICT A totally awesome 5-star app (even if I do say so myself!).
COMMENT This app was released in July 2011 when it cost €1.59. It's now being offered free for a limited period of time as part of the EM Normandie's admissions campaign.
Little more than two years after launching its first Angry Birds game for the iPhone, Finnish mobile games maker Rovio is partnering with the world's biggest retailer Wal-Mart to sell merchandise and is planning themed activity parks in Britain. Matt Cowan reports.
REPORTER: The maker of the hit game Angry Birds is using the momentum its mustered in mobile to catapult into new real world opportunities. The Finnish startup Rovio behind the world's most downloaded game is planning to launch themed activity parks in Britain and has struck a deal with the world's biggest retailer Walmart to sell limited edition merchandise in its stores. In a recent interview with Reuters, Rovio's marketing chief Peter Vesterbacka explained how his company sees itself as an entertainment brand, rather than simply a games company. PETER VESTERBACKA, ROVIO MARKETING CHIEF: "We're selling a lot of virtual goods, but we're also selling a lot of physical goods. So we're definitely in both businesses. We've sold 25 million toys so it's been a very good business. We just picked up two toy awards at this industry show in New York. So kinda like the Toy Industry Oscars. So we won Property of the Year and also Game of the Year together with Mattel for our board game. For us, the physical goods is a great business." REPORTER: There are also plans for new Angry Birds branded stores in China. It has the fastest growing game on Facebook and recent media reports have suggested the company behind those perturbed birds could be worth as much as 9 billion dollars. Screen Digest senior games analyst Steve Bailey says its an impressive trajectory for a company that seemed to come out of nowhere. STEVE BAILEY: "Well there's a great synergy to be had in merchandising a product that has great engagement with the audience. So if you're a big fan there are new ways to spend and engage and conversely that encourages you to be retained and to have further engagement with the product." REPORTER: The Angry Birds themed activity parks will be built in partnership with the Finnish playground equipment maker Lappset and will be more modest in scale than the massive theme parks Disney is known for... Rovio - which raised 42 million dollars from venture capital firms last year still sees itself as a small company from a small country, and says it's in no hurry to go public. Matt Cowan Reuters.
Ian Pryer has some great ideas for using this amusing ad with business studies students on the tutor2U Business Studies blog, but there are also a lot of cultural and linguistic points (all those abbreviations, for example) which could be exploited with more advanced learners of English. Here's the transcript:
PAMELA : Andy. Hi, Pamela. ANDY : Hi. PAMELA : Your payroll number is WP63. Lifts, stationery and your ID. Admin on 2, Finance on 3. You’re on 1, I’m on 5. HR, PR, IT, WC. We don’t usually use more than one towel, Andy. Your phone. Flashing red: caller holding. Constant green: line active. Security code is Irene’s birthday. Contract, pension, life insurance. Your team: Larry, Barry, Lisa, Carrie, Cliff, Bert, Sybil and Bob. ANDY: Big Mac meal, please.
LANGUAGE NOTES ID - Identification Admin = Administration HR = Human Resources PR = Public Relations IT = Information Technology WC = Water Closet, i.e., toilets
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS • What sort of company is Andy starting work with? • What image does the ad give of the company culture? • Would you like to work for a company like this? Why (not)? • How do you think Andy feels at the start of the ad? And at the end? • Talk about your first day in a new job. • What message does the ad give about McDonald's?
Sainsbury's is one of the 'big three' supermarkets in the UK, the others being Tesco and Asda. This video from the Sainsbury's Careers website provides a rather idealized view of what goes on behind the scenes in a typical Sainsbury's supermarket during the course of a day. I wish my local Auchan were like this!
COMMENT Excellent video for using with business English classes as it contains a lot of useful business vocabulary (see transcript below), and covers a number of business areas (retailing, online shopping, teamwork, customer relations, etc.). You can find more videos about Sainsbury's on the Sainsbury's Careers YouTube channel.
TRANSCRIPT With millions of customers to serve every week, Sainsbury’s never stops. Every store is like a small town in itself. Today we’re looking at one store. Starting before dawn, bakery and confectionery are hard at work, preparing in-house fresh bread and pastries. It’s a skilled job but every year we train hundreds of individuals up to the task. The home delivery team is busy taking and making up the orders that are picked and packed by our shopping team and delivered to your door. Every aisle has to be clean and ready, every bunch of flowers looking their best. Our picking team are now finishing collecting the online shopping orders ready for our delivery team to start their rounds. Home deliveries are a growth area and our delivery network now covers most of the country. Back in store, things start to get busy mid-morning as shoppers flood into the store and all that preparation gives way to top service, helping people find their way round the store to their favourite foods, providing the best in personal help and advice. What might surprise you is that Sainsbury’s is now the UK’s seventh largest clothing retailer. Our own brand of clothing Tu offers ranges in menswear, women’s and children’s, and the racks need displaying and replenishing throughout the day as much as our food. It’s now mid-morning and we go to the delicatessen, where the team are responsible for preparing ready-made foods and offering a huge range of meats, cheeses, and other delicatessen items. We make a large number of our meals in-store, prepared to the highest standards. We’re now well into the day, and you’ve seen the huge team effort it takes to prepare, stock, and support and manage a store. It’s lunchtime, so what better time to into the café and see this busy part of the store serve meals and beverages to hungry customers. Stock rotates all the time in a store, and none more so than fresh produce. We’re the world’s largest retailer for fair trade. As for our meat, one of our key values is sourcing with integrity. Like bakery, we train up hundreds of butchers and fishmongers every year, providing skills and qualifications to preserve the quality and standards of our fresh meat and fish delivery. Most large stores now have a pharmacy, with qualified staff making a big difference to the healthcare advice and support for our customers. We’re linked to local doctors and care homes, another extension of our service to each and every community you’ll find our supermarkets in. From opening to closing time, our checkout teams are the face of the business. No wonder we reward so well. And from fuel for the body to fuel for the car. Nearly all our large superstores have a petrol station, with its own selection of retail items, manager, supervisors, and teams. Back in store it’s late afternoon, and it’s time to stock up on low items, so our team is out in full replenishing shelves ready for the evening rush. From frozen items to wines and spirits, even the latest electrical items, TVs, DVDs, even laptops, you’d be surprised just how much we put into a store. It’s now late evening, and at the end of the day we’re still going as strong as we were when we started. Soon, most customers will have finished, but we haven’t. There’s a store to get ready for tomorrow, a team that love what they do, and space for you to be part of it all.
As this video from The Economist online explains, we are entering what some in the technology industry refer to as a post-PC era. Mobile digital gadgets are overshadowing the personal computer and their impact will be far-reaching. This does not mean that the personal computer is about to disappear, but according to estimates from Gartner, a research firm, combined shipments of web-connected smartphones and tablet computers are likely to exceed those of desktop and laptop computers for the first time this year, putting PCs in the shade. For more on this topic, see The Economist's special report.
LESSON IDEAS A great video for starting a discussion about how consumer technology is changing in the post-PC era. Freeze-frame the graphs and charts and get individual students to present them to the class. You can find more charts, maps and infographics on The Economist's Daily Chart blog, and more videos on The Economist's YouTube channel.
I'm pleased to announce that I've created an app for learning business vocabulary. It's called Business Words and is available for the iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch. Business Words is on sale in Apple's App Store at the bargain price of €1.59, so don't delay, download it today! Here's a full description:
Business Words is ‘hangman’ type game aimed at students or professionals who have a good level of English but wish to improve their vocabulary in the field of business and management. Business Words is also a useful resource for anyone preparing for a professional exam such as the TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). The game uses a database of 2,000 words and is similar to the game of hangman. Players have to find the missing word in a sentence relating to a specific business topic by guessing individual letters. Each game lasts 10 minutes, and the aim is to score a maximum number of points. The words and sentences are organized into 12 topic areas: Economy, Law, Industry, Trade, Marketing, Human Resources, Banking, Travel, Retailing, Finance, Communication, and Technology. There is also a ‘Mixed Bag’ featuring words from all categories. Translations of all words are given in French. The author of Business Words is Jeffrey Hill, who teaches English at the Ecole de Management de Normandie in France.