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English Phrases To Use In Business Meetings

In the corporate world and in meetings, using a good turn of phrase is commonplace in the UK an having a strong understanding of at least some of them is a vital part of localised corporate English. These phrases could be the difference between striking great rapport with a business connection and having a complete misunderstanding of what is happening during the meeting. Here are a few for you to take advantage for meetings with clients and colleagues as well as some options to mix into your every day use of the English language.

English Idioms To Use In Meetings

Here is a list of some of our favourite idioms you may come across in the office environment:

  • A blessing in disguise – A good thing that seemed bad at first.
  • Don’t beat around the bush – Stop avoiding saying what you mean, typically because it’s an uncomfortable situation.
  • Go back to the drawing board – Start something over again.
  • It’s not rocket science – Something isn’t as complicated as it initially seems.
  • Miss the boat – When it becomes too late to achieve something.
  • On the ball – Doing a good job.
  • Time flies when you’re having fun – Not realising how much time has passed since doing something you’re enjoying.
  • Under the weather – You’re feeling sick.
  • Wrap your head around this – Getting a good understanding of a complicated situation or project.
  • Hit the nail on the head – Understanding something perfectly and explaining it.

Using these idioms and phrases are a fun way to improve your general conversation skills and create a more diverse selection of terminology for you to use. Moreover, understanding these will make it a lot less confusing when talking to a native English speaker who may use several of these at once. Explore these and more (because there are plenty more) to enjoy playing around more with the English language. For more information on English phrases and idioms or to start learning English for the corporate world, talk to our language skill experts today and really hit the nail on the head with your English language skill set.

Our First Award!

Everyone here at Perfectly Spoken are extremely happy to share the news with you all that we were invited to submit an entry to the inaugural Digital Education Awards in the Language Learning Product of the Year category and last night we received news that we had won!

The Digital Education Awards

The Digital Education Awards is an organisation that was created to recognise “the best digital people, products and platforms” when it comes to delivering quality education and a lifetimes worth of learning that is available across the world. It creates the opportunity for those of us in the digital education market to highlight the value of what we offer to customers, students, and partners with formal recognition from a board of experts. The awards organisation themselves have an audience that is global and their approach is to embrace the future and digital learning by using online platforms rather than traditional ceremonies and methods.

There were hundreds of entries from more than 20 countries around the world, entries started in June and a huge range of applications were submitted for the potential awards. An esteemed panel of judges from Tech, Education, Finance and Consulting sectors were responsible for making the decision for all the awards. In 2020 more people than ever relied on learning online and therefore it was even more important that we provide an excellent online language learning platform. Our entry was in good company in one of the most popular categories and it highlights both the brilliant work our team has done in providing for our learners and of course, our proud we are of the learners themselves for supporting our platform and finding success with us.

Thank You

So, congratulations to us all and many thanks to you for your contributions and support in getting us to this stage! We look forward to what the future will bring for us all and we are hopeful for the 2021 Digital Education Awards.

David and the Perfectly Spoken team.

Benefits Of Corporate English

Learning a language through your employer is an excellent opportunity to develop a new skill and help reinforce your communication skills overall. Additionally, England is famous for using unusual terminology and slang that can be difficult for non-native speakers to understand straight away. These terms are frequently used around an office environment and in meetings (even video calls), so having a strong comprehension of the language will be a powerful tool, especially for those looking at career development and advancement in the UK. Being bilingual has shown to have an increase in pay of 5-20% compared to those who don’t speak a second language and it also increases your chances of being hired and promoted as well.

Employers Benefit From Bilingual Staff

There are obvious advantages for an employer to train or pay for the training of their non-English speaking employees to learn the language and studies show that there are more hidden benefits to having bilingual and multilingual members of staff. The obvious being stronger communication both internally within the team and externally with any clients and suppliers the employees may speak to. But some benefits that employers and maybe the employees themselves haven’t considered are; having more confidence speaking to clients and other professionals on an international landscape, being able to reach a more diverse audience for a customer base, bilingual people typically have stronger listening and communicating skills, and there is even evidence of bilingual employees being better at multi-tasking and having good mental health. So if you’re looking to talk to your employer about taking an English language course, these may be some useful points to research and present to them.

View Our Corporate English Training Here

Employee Advantages Of Speaking Corporate English

If you’re curious about improving your English language skill for the workplace, take a look at some of the advantages you’ll have by brushing up on those language skills:

  • Be more confident during meetings and business discussions
  • Using flawless tone and language in written communication and emailing
  • Use of additional English phrases applicable in everyday conversations
  • Increased chances for future job prospects and promotions
  • Displays your willingness to learn a new skill and go beyond the minimal requirements for your job

As well as the personal benefits of learning another language; it’s good for the mental health and brain, it increases the number of countries you can easily communicate in, and a generally impressive skill to have all together. Learning English for the workplace is not only a great opportunity in itself but will lead to further great opportunities for your career. Whether your employer is offering a scheme to learn through the company or it’s something you tackle outside of office hours, the investment you make in learning English will pay off in a number of ways.

In addition to personal career development, there is more you can bring to the table with having a command of the English language under your belt. In an increasingly global working environment, English is becoming known as the “international common language” with almost 70 countries speaking it as a first language and over 25 with it listed as a second language. Being confident in this arena will set you apart and build trust with both your internal teams and your clients that you may talk to from different countries, creating strong business relationships with them. There are a number of benefits to learning corporate English, both for personal improvement and professional development. In today’s global environment, it will really set you apart and strengthen your skillset and relationships in and out of the workplace.

It’s All About Online

For a company that offers online English courses, it won’t be a surprise we are very much behind the move to online services but Covid-19 has pushed this trend even faster than anyone predicted. There are lots of new ways people interact, new software tools, and even new vocabulary around the new online world so we thought we would look at it in a little more detail.

More Online Than Ever Before

We have been offering high-quality online English courses for a few years now and we know how popular they are. So learning online is certainly not a new thing. However, as we saw schools shut across Europe and many parts of the world people turned to online learning like never before. In many cases, it was school-age children trying to keep up with lessons they were missing. But many people stuck indoors during lockdown also had free time and wanted to do something constructive. So they turned to online learning, whether it was learning to sing, write, play an instrument or cook, for example, people starting to find online courses for everything. We saw a large increase in the number of people signing up to learn English online from all over the world as they decided to take the time to learn for work, family, or other reasons. But it’s not just learning, there has been a huge increase in the number of people shopping online, ordering food online, using streaming services, as well as subscription models for anything from beer to male grooming products and even gardening supplies. Online was big before…it’s even bigger now.

Common Online Tools

For many people, the idea of a video chat was not something they would normally think of before the pandemic. Now, chatting online to family and friends is normal. Programmes like Zoom have become totally normal. Skype is still very popular too. If you were not using WhatsApp before the pandemic then you probably are now and not just or chat, video too! Whatsapp groups have now become very popular. TikTok also seems to be a great way to communicate online by making fun videos, it certainly helped a lot of bored people during the lockdowns in various countries.

How We Communicate

It may seem like we talk in exactly the same way on a video call as we do in person but it really can be quite different. If you use Zoom calls for business meetings, for example, you may notice that it is harder to see if people are listening to you. What people now do is nod their head a lot more. When you are in a meeting with someone face to face you can see if they are engaged with you. On a screen with perhaps 6 faces, it is much harder. So we are all using exaggerated movements like waving and nodding to communicate. We are also not talking over each other as much, video calls do not work very well if everyone talks so people are becoming much more polite and waiting for others to finish speaking. Smiling, shaking our heads, and using our hands are all becoming more important as a way of showing we are involved in the conversation online.

Will we continue using online services as we are now? perhaps, with more and more people working from home and not wanting to use trains and buses online shopping, meetings and learning is certainly likely to stay popular well after Covid-19 is gone.

 

 

 

 

British Storms and their Names

It’s storm season in the UK and after an already very wet winter, Storm Ciara and Dennis have brought record rain levels and heavy flooding across the country. The British are well-known for talking about the weather and this year with such fierce storms already, there’s plenty to talk about.

And with the storms having human names, it sounds like we are talking about someone we know. The Met Office is the national meteorological service for the UK that provides weather services including short and longer term forecasts. Each year around September, it reveals a list of Christian or first names for the upcoming storms. There is one for most letters of the alphabet, with Q, U, X, Y and Z being excluded as it is hard to find names for these.

How are the storms named?

As the British love to think about the weather, the Met Office has invited people to suggest potential storms names – around 10,000 names were submitted last year. The Met Office puts together a final list and releases this in September ahead of the winter storm season. This year’s list started with Atiyah and Gerda, Piet and Willow could be ahead.

Why are the storms named?

It’s not just to help us talk about them. It is believed that naming the storms helps to make people more aware that severe weather could be coming and therefore more likely to be prepared.

When is a storm named?

The Met Office has a warning system to predict when a storm is likely to have an impact on the public. A storm is only given a name when the Met Office believes that it has potential for an amber or red warning.

What are the levels of storms?

The storms levels are represented by a traffic light system based on the likelihood of impact and disruption.

  • Yellow – low impact – daily life will mostly be able to continue as normal.
  • Amber – potential disruption to daily routines. You may need to consider your travel plans and protect yourself and your property.
  • Red – the highest warning level, and fortunately the rarest, but we’ve already had a red warning this year with storm Dennis. It means dangerous weather could lead to major disruption and damage, and even loss of life. This could include widespread flooding, ice and snow that can cut off areas or high winds that can damage property.

How do you know when there’s a weather warning?

The Met Office tries to give 5-7 days notice and have full details on their website. However, weather and particularly imminent storms are reported across all media channels – and of course by talking to each other.

 

 

News Flash for English Learners

We are very proud to have launched a brand new service for our Student Plan and Pro Plan subscribers. News Flash is an amazing new learning aid that makes news for English learners even more useful and effective.

If you are learning English then you will know how useful news articles can be. They are an interesting way to learn new phrases and vocabulary, they are a great talking point around which you can practice your English with other students, friends and family, and they can be very useful for people learning English for business.

However, no matter how useful news articles can be it is often hard to find news specifically written for people learning English. Often news for English learners can be out of date and not very useful as news. Not with Perfectly Spoken! News Flash is a news service for English learners that is powered by news coming directly from Reuters so you know it is accurate, unbiased and up to date!

Real and Authentic

News is not only topical and a good learning aid it also helps English learners understand and use real and authentic phrases and words. Real news uses real words and the vocabulary people use in it are up to date and real. Real language is so important when learning English, it helps students understand the English native speakers use and good quality English news is a great place to get this kind of content. Not only is our news real it is also high quality from one of the best news agencies in the world.

So Much More than Just News!

Of course, you can expect the latest news articles, video and audio stories, but we are offering more than just a chance to learn about what is happening in the world. Our News Flash service also has special tasks carefully created for Elementary, Intermediate and Advanced English students. These tasks help you understand more, learn and comprehend new vocabulary and phrases and test yourself to see how well you did. We carefully select news stories and then create tasks for each learning level; this means no matter what English level you are you can understand and learn using our News Flash service.

A Few Minutes

We know most people do not have hours to read the news. We know that most people learning English online are doing so alongside working or studying. So our News Flash stories and short and direct. They only take a few minutes to read or watch and then you can take the test to see how much you have learned.

Find Out More

If you would like to find out more about News Flash – Powered by Reuters then please Click Here. This amazing new service is available to Student Plan and Pro Plan Subscribers along with hours of the best quality online English lessons available, tests, useful additional content and more.

 

 

The Summer is over and things are turning cold – Useful Winter English Vocabulary

If you are learning English and have any experience with British people you will know that they like to talk about the weather a lot. There are lots of jokes about how British and English people enjoy talking about the weather and moaning about it too! So we thought it would be a good time to write a blog post about some useful words British people use to talk about colder weather. While Summer in the UK is often not as long or hot as many other places in the world it is still something people look forward too and something people are often unhappy when it is over. It is now nearly October and Autumn is here and things are getting colder!

Chilly – This is a common word that simply means cold. It is used in many different situations and can be used in formal or informal settings. “It is very chilly today”  – Someone would say this to another person to say it is cold. Chilly is used to describe cold but not extreme cold. Chilly can also be used in a building or home to say it is a little bit cold.

Freezing  – “It’s freezing out there!” This term is used to describe a more intense cold. The word actually means when a liquid turns to a solid – water into ice, but as with many British words, this one is overstated to make a point. In many cases, it may not actually be “freezing” but people use the term to explain it is very cold. Someone may walk into a room and say “I’m frozen” – they do not mean they are literally turning to ice, but they are telling you they feel very cold.

Pouring – It often rains in the UK and there are a lot of different words for rain commonly used by people. “It’s pouring out there” is a very common way to talk about how much it is raining and can be used in any situation. This term is actually common in American English too. It can be used in conjunction with the word down “it’s pouring down” or just on its own. There is a traditional children’s rhyme that uses this term:

“it’s raining it’s pouring, the old man is snoring, he went to be and bumped his head and couldn’t get up in the morning”

Chucking it down – This is a term more associated with friends and family. It is not a formal term but means it is raining a lot. Someone may walk into a pub and say “it’s chucking it down out there”. This would mean there is a lot of rain and not just a small amount.

Drizzle  – This is a very common word for light rain. Drizzle is light, fine, small droplets of rain and can get you quite wet if you stay out in it. People may use this to say it’s not raining very much Person A – “It’s pouring out there” Person B – “no it isn’t, its only drizzles” This could be a normal disagreement about how much it is raining.

Blowing a Gale – A gale is a strong wind over around 40 mph. If it feels very windy, people may say “It’s blowing a gale out there”. They may not know how fast the wind speed is but may just use this term to explain there is a strong wind.

If you are learning English for work, travel or to move to an English speaking country some of these words may be very useful, especially if you are planning to visit the UK!

 

E learning and its role in English Language Teaching

With predictions of growth to a total spend of $250bn by 2020, EdTech is clearly a global phenomenon and has growing implications for the future of English Language Teaching

(ELT)

But what is E-Learning and Ed Tech?

EdTech stands for Educational Technology. Sometimes referred to as EduTech or e-learning. In general terms, it covers any form of teaching or learning that embraces technology

At its heart, the aim of EdTech is to improve the student’s learning experience by making the learning processes more efficient and/or effective. And by integrating technology into education a much more diverse learning environment can be created. This may also result in quite fundamental changes in approaches to pedagogy.

The Advantages of E-Learning

Apart from learning a subject through technology and potentially improving a student’s tech skills at the same time, it is argued that EdTech allows for more individualised learning as students work at their own pace

Potentially, it also ‘democratises’ education by allowing more students, more access to more educational content, and potentially from almost anywhere. This can then also result in benefits of time, cost and convenience.

Studies also show that there is an increasing acceptance of online educational qualifications in the workplace even if in reality this is still relatively low in comparison to more traditional qualifications, especially when those qualifications may be potentially career changing.

In addition, research shows that educational apps generally have a positive impact on learning and interestingly apps that encourage feedback and collaboration can help improve group work and it is argued that in fact, a blended approach can result in students learning more than with traditional approaches and in less time.

In the world of ELT It is perhaps no surprise then that language learning apps like Babbel, Busuu and especially Duolingo with its almost addictive elements of gamification have become so popular

The Disadvantages of E-Learning

One of the major drawbacks can be unrealistic expectations in terms of what the service can actually deliver and how dramatic those changes and improvements will actually prove to be to the learner. Perhaps this is why there are calls for more of the focus of the results to be centred on the learner’s interaction with the technology … not the technology itself. Technology is wonderful, it is a facilitator by which content, and in this case, educational content can be delivered to a learner. But in the end, it is the content that is inseparable from the learning outcome

Then there are ‘sociocultural’ questions around the impact on students of working individually rather than socially or collaboratively and being more easily distracted. While students and teachers alike appreciate the convenience of Edtech many prefer and benefit from greater engagement in face to face learning environments

E-Learning and Cheating

And of course, there is the potential for taking shortcuts or even cheating. This can happen in terms of the learning process itself (fast forward to the next task, this one is boring) However the equivalent can happen in any learning process and it’s really the learner who is cheating himself.

Testing and Accreditation

More significantly is the important question of testing and assessing accurately; the results of which can be career-defining for the learner and so critical to the reputation of the awarding body. Online providers can currently provide self-certification (like with continuing professional development programmes where the user attests to have completed a course of studies) and technologies are being developed to ensure that a candidate is actually who she claims to be. For the moment at least, in the context of English Language learning, Cambridge Assessment English, the providers of the world’s leading range of qualifications and tests for learners of English (including the prestigious IELTS and Cambridge exams) insist that these exams can be prepared for online, but must be taken offline.

The Future

Despite the drawbacks, it’s clear that Edtech is here to stay: technology is disrupting industries everywhere and clear the education sector in general and ELT in particular, are no exceptions.

 

 

Why It’s OK to Ask People to Speak Slowly or Repeat Something in a Business Meeting

When you are learning English for business there will come a time when you are using your new skill in a business meeting. The meeting could be online via Skype, on the phone or in person, it could be a presentation and it can be tough! But do not worry, the challenges are something a lot of people go through, and they are not something to be embarrassed about. In this blog, we look at some of the issues around asking people to slow down and help you understand.

The Same Thing Twice

What a lot of people do when asked to repeat something because someone doesn’t understand is say the same thing again. This is really no help at all. They think you simply may not have heard them properly but the real reason to ask them to repeat is that you didn’t understand the terms or vocab they used. It is important to state this when asking them to repeat. It is perfectly OK to say “sorry, I don’t understand that phrase, can you explain” rather than saying “sorry, I didn’t get that”

Accents

People from different parts of any country will speak differently. But people learning English who live in different countries will also speak differently. So how someone speaks can be a really big challenge in a business meeting. It may be you are talking to an English company but you find the accent very hard to understand. It is not offensive to politely say “I am very sorry, I find your lovely accent hard to understand”. You can compliment them on it and ask where they are from and most people will be happy to talk about their home town and help you understand them. It may be useful to ask any colleagues before the meeting about any strong accents so you can prepare a little or have them be ready to help you if you get stuck.

Details and Notes

There are certain points that come up in meetings that are important. It might be an email address or a website, it could be a phone number or some important meeting points. It is really important you are confident you have the correct details in this situation. Do not be afraid to ask the person to slow down while you write it all down and then confirm the details. On online meetings, you can ask someone to simply write these details in the chat window to make sure they are correct. But getting it wrong because you didn’t ask to clarify could cause problems later on. Be confident and make sure you have the right details.

Slow Down

Most business meetings would benefit from everyone slowing down and making sure all the point are covered properly. It is important you feel confident to ask other team members or clients to slow down so you can understand them properly. You are learning a new language and it is something to be proud of, but you cannot learn it all from the beginning. Most people will be happy to go over anything and help support you, and that bit of extra time is far better than a list of confused notes and mistakes because you chose not to say you didn’t understand.

 

Sing Your Way to Better English

It may seem silly but music can help when learning English just as much as movies can. Singing can also help make you happy and singing is very healthy even if you don’t think you are very good at it.

Singing and Vocab

Most popular songs are sung with a wide range of both good and bad pronunciation. You can listen to one song and understand what they are singing about then another song comes on and it makes no sense at all. This is why it can be so helpful, well partly. By listening to vocab sung in songs by all sorts of different voices and styles you will build up your experience with those words. The great thing with the internet is that you can look up the words any time. So sing along, learn the words if you can but check online so you know what the words are and what they mean. It can be a great way to not only learn new words but learn new slang and regional words too.

Happy Learning

Singing and music can really help with happiness and even during a learning period a music break can help you study a lot better. Obviously playing really loud music while trying to follow one of our online English lessons isn’t going to work but you can pause the lesson if you need a rest and sing a long to a song with English lyrics as a break. Singing is also proven to be very good for your health, so having a good sing can have many benefits.

Sings to Help You Remember

Another great way to use singing is to help you remember vocabulary and other parts of the English language. You may find it hard to remember a set of verbs or just a few new words. If you put them to the tune of your favourite song and sing it all day you will find it far easier to remember them for your next lesson.

Watching movies in English is certainly very helpful and should be something you do as often as you can but why not mix things up a bit and bring some English speaking music into your learning. There are lots of places to hear music but YouTube may be a good free place to start. Also, apps like Spotify work very well. You can also make playlists for friends who are learning English too and challenge each other to work out what the words all mean.

Learning English can be tough but it can also be fun and adding music, movies, games and more will really help you learn more and learn faster.