Rank #1: BEP 334 – Project Management English 10: Internal Debrief Meeting
Project management can be a messy business. You can plan, but you can’t really predict all the challenges and obstacles that will come up. So on every project, and especially in agile project management, you have to learn and adapt as you go along. And at the end, it’s a good idea to discuss what you’ve learned in a project debrief meeting. If you’re following an agile approach, you might also hold sprint retrospectives, which are like mini-debriefs at the end of each sprint. Whether it’s a project debrief or one of these sprint retrospectives, you’ll cover similar topics.
A project debrief meeting might start out with a review of the project goals. You want to look back and see what you set out to do in the first place. Then you can talk about successes during the project. What did you do well? What would you do again? From there, you can move on to discuss mistakes, and what you’d like to change in the future. And finally, you’ll want to summarize everything that you’ve learned. The whole idea, of course, is that you’ll be able to do things better next time.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a project manager named Martin, who’s running a debrief meeting at the end of a software development project. We’ll also hear Jill and Sumita, two of the engineers who’ve worked on the project. Together, the group is discussing the work they’ve done and what they’ve learned.
1. After discussing the project goals, what does Martin ask about?
2. The discussion of mistakes leads Martin to ask a related question about what topic?
3. What does Martin do at the end of the meeting?
Dec 12 2018
Rank #2: BEP 350 – Idioms for Describing Relationships (Part 1)
Hello and welcome back to Business English Pod. My name’s Edwin, and I’ll be your host for today’s lesson on business English idioms for talking about relationships.
They say that success in business is all about relationships. Certainly, your success in a particular workplace is greatly dependent on how you relate to those around you. That includes your colleagues, your collaborators, your staff, and your bosses. If you don’t develop good relationships, then it probably doesn’t matter how great your work is.
Relationships aren’t just important, they’re also interesting. What do you and your colleagues talk about when you chat socially? A lot of your conversations are probably about the people at your workplace. Who isn’t getting along, who is getting along a little too well, who doesn’t like who, and who is being a bit too nice to everyone.
Whatever kind of relationships you’re talking about, there are hundreds of English idioms you can use. If you listened to our 925 English lesson on describing people, then you learned some useful basic expressions. In this lesson, we’ll take that to the next level with some great idioms for describing relationships.
In the dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between three colleagues: Brooke, Mark, and Ivan. They work for an insurance company that has just put together a new team to work on a new product. The three colleagues are keen to talk about the complex web of relationships among the people on this team.
1. What is the relationship between Chuck and Dave?
2. What does Brooke think will change between Dave and Anna?
3. What’s the relationship between Becky and Dave?
Nov 10 2019
Rank #3: BEP 329 – Project Management English 9: Handover Meeting
Nobody forgets to hold a kickoff meeting to get a project started. But unfortunately, many teams fail to hold a final meeting to bring their project cleanly to a close. Whether you’re following agile or a more traditional approach, a project handover meeting is essential. For one thing, it’s a chance to talk about how the project went and get some valuable feedback from the client. It’s also a chance to take care of any small contractual issues and make sure the client agrees that you’ve fulfilled the project goals.
But a final project handover meeting isn’t only about looking back at what’s already been done. It’s also about opening the door to future work. After all, it’s much easier to sell more to existing clients than it is to find new clients. That could mean future work that builds on what you’ve just completed. Or it might mean identifying new needs that you can help address.
But before you start talking about future work, you should set a positive tone and ask the client for their impressions of the project. You might learn something useful that you can use in other projects. Then you can remind the client how your work fits into a broader plan for the future. That will set the stage for discussing possible future upgrades or additional support.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Martin, a project manager with a software company called OptiTech. They’ve just finished developing software for a logistics company. Martin is meeting with Liam, the IT manager for the logistics company, for the final project handover. During the discussion, Martin will use some useful project management English to steer the meeting to a successful conclusion.
1. What is the first question that Martin asks Liam?
2. What does Martin suggest Liam’s company might need if they grow or change?
3. What does Martin propose that Liam consider at the end of the dialog?
Sep 12 2018
Rank #4: Skills 360 – Levels of Formality in English (Part 1)
Imagine you are looking for a job, and you have an interview at a big company. You walk into the interview room and say to the panel of interviewers: “hey there, how’s it going?” Believe me, that’s a bad first impression.
Or what if you go to the bar to meet an old friend and when you see him you extend your hand and say “Good evening, and how do you do?” Chances are your friend is going to ask you whether you’re feeling okay.
In both these situations, the problem is that you used the wrong level of formality or register. You simply can’t use the same expressions, words, and idioms in every situation. You need to gauge the situation and adapt how you speak accordingly.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Jan 05 2019
Rank #5: 925 English Lesson 19 – How to Talk about Abilities
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to talk about abilities in english.
There are lots of opportunities at work to talk about your abilities. And I don’t just mean job interviews. That’s an obvious one, but there’s also work planning, project meetings, and just discussing who should do what on a daily basis.
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Apr 15 2018
Rank #6: Business English News 41 – Data Privacy
The digital age has brought unprecedented access to information and new online services. And in exchange, people have proven very willing to provide personal information and to have their online activities monitored. But is it worth it? As Wired reports, more and more people are questioning this trade-off:
The US has found itself in the middle of a data privacy awakening, and you can credit the recent spate of headline-grabbing scandals as the kick-starter. Cambridge Analytica illicitly took the personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users and turned it into targeted political ads. And Equifax let slip the sensitive details of 148 million Americans because it couldn’t be bothered to patch a known vulnerability.Free Resources: PDF Transcript | Quizzes | Lesson Module
Jul 22 2018
Rank #7: 925 English Lesson 31 – Describing People and Characteristics
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to describe people and their characteristics in English.
Listen in on any office conversation or meeting and you’ll hear a lot of talk about people. Who we like, who we don’t like, who’s right for a team, who should get a promotion, who is going on vacation… The list of topics goes on and on.
And one aspect of people we often discuss is their appearance, or how they look. To do that, we use adjectives, like “tall” or “short” or “well-dressed” or “heavy” or “thin.” When we describe people, we also talk about the color of their hair. And here’s a couple of special hair words for you: “brunette” means someone with brown hair, and “blonde” refers to someone with light hair or yellow hair.
925 English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2). With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions for work.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
Oct 30 2019
Rank #8: 925 English Lesson 21 – Making Offers in English
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to make an offer in English.
There’s give and take in every relationship. And giving involves making an offer. It might be something simple like offering a cup of coffee. Or it might be something big like help with a project.
In some situations – like offering a drink – we can make the offer very directly. One common way to do this is with the word “can.” So you can ask a question, like “Can I help you with that?” Or you can make a statement, like “I can get you a cup of coffee if you want.”
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Aug 12 2018
Rank #9: BEP 328 – Project Management English 8: Negotiating Solutions
Wouldn’t it be nice if every project went exactly as planned? But that’s simply not realistic. Projects are just as diverse as the people involved. And every project runs into hurdles, challenges, or even major breakdowns. Good planning can help avoid some of these issues, but it’s more than likely that you’ll need to use your problem-solving skills at some point.
Some of these problems might be with your project team. But others could involve the client. In many cases, this means something comes up mid-project that neither of you anticipated. Lack of information, timeline issues, scope changes… there are a thousand different issues that might come up that will test your project management skills.
Solving these kinds of problems will require more than just basic project management English. For starters, you may need to explain different options to the client. But you’ll need to be careful to avoid liability when you can, and you might also need to resist committing to a timeline. These are important aspects of English for negotiating a solution.
And that word “solution” is the key. Your goal is to get to a solution that you can both agree to so that the project can still meet its original goals. And just like in any negotiation, that will probably involve proposing a compromise. Of course, agreements should be put in writing, so you’ll have to document any solutions you agree on.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Jill, a project manager with a software developer. They’ve been building a new system for a logistics company. Jill is talking with the Liam, the IT manager for the client, about a problem that has come up near the end of their project. Jill needs to negotiate a good solution to the problem.
1. What are the options Jill lays out at the start of the meeting?
2. When Liam asks about how long it will take, how does Jill respond?
3. What is the compromise solution that Jill suggests?
Sep 02 2018
Rank #10: Skills 360 – Communicating Clearly in English (1)
Did you know that most of the conversations in English happening right now are between two non-native speakers? There’s a German doing business in Malaysia, and a Russian talking on the phone with a Korean, and a Brazilian visiting Spain. And they’re most likely using English to communicate with each other.
But English is not a simple language. For one thing, it has more words and idioms than other languages. For another thing, there are many different varieties of English. So the English you hear in Singapore or Miami or London can sound quite different. Given this situation – people around the world using a difficult language at different levels – it’s really important to be able to communicate clearly.
Let’s start with pronunciation. Of course, not everyone will, or should, speak exactly the same. Perfect pronunciation doesn’t exist, since there are so many different accents. So being clear isn’t so much about pronunciation as it is about enunciation. Enunciation simply means pronouncing things clearly and carefully.
Two other things that impact pronunciation are speed and volume. When we’re uncomfortable or nervous, we tend to speed up and speak more softly. But speaking quickly and quietly can damage our pronunciation. Instead, slow down a bit and speak a bit more loudly. This will add clarity to your speech.
Clarity is also affected by the words we choose. The important thing here is to keep it simple. When you’re giving someone instructions on the phone, or making an important point in a presentation, it’s not the time to impress people with your vocabulary. Stick to expressions you know people will understand. That means you should avoid using too much slang and too many idioms.
When it comes to word choice, there’s another thing to be careful with: acronyms and abbreviations. You might use “TBH” quite often, but not everyone knows that it means “to be honest.” You don’t have to use these abbreviations to get your point across. And you’ve probably been confused – and frustrated – when people use abbreviations that are common in their line of work but are not common knowledge.
As we’ve seen, communicating clearly in English might mean we have to adapt what we say and how we say it, depending on the audience. It’s always a good idea to speak up and to speak clearly. And if you want to make sure everyone understands, it’s wise to use simple and clear words, while avoiding slang, idioms, and abbreviations.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Sep 22 2018
Rank #11: BEP 164 R – English Idioms: Football Idioms (Part 2)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on business English idioms that come from football, or soccer.
Since sports and business are so similar, it’s easy to see how there could be so many related English idioms. Companies are like teams; employees are like players. Ideas are like balls that get kicked around. Success is like scoring a goal. And there’s always plenty of competition.
In the previous lesson, Marilyn and Karl, two colleagues at a publishing firm, discussed Karl’s interest in a job at the company’s Sydney branch. Karl isn’t completely sure it’s the right move for him and has asked Marilyn for her opinion. Today, we’ll hear more of their conversation, as Karl explains his hesitation about applying.
1. How does Karl’s wife feel about moving to Sydney?
2. Why does Karl feel like he’s cheating on his own company?
3. What advice does Marilyn give at the end of the conversation?
Jul 01 2018
Rank #12: BEP 349 – Purchasing 2: Product and Vendor Requirements
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on English for purchasing and discussing product requirements.
For purchasing managers, choosing the right vendor can be like choosing a business partner. After all, your company’s reputation is tied directly to the performance of your vendors. People judge you by the goods you use to run your business or build your products. If something goes wrong, your customers blame you, not your vendors.
But what makes the “right” vendor? Well, that discussion begins with your needs. If you’re in manufacturing or product development, you’ll be talking about design requirements. These design requirements, or product specifications, are going to help you determine whether a vendor can do the job. And the engineers or merchandizers in the room are going to have some strict technical requirements.
Once you have a sense of what you need, then you can discuss vendor criteria and qualifications. And because purchasing relationships are ongoing, you may also want to establish performance indicators to ensure everything goes well once you’ve selected a vendor.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a meeting in a company called xFit, which makes fitness equipment. Adam is a purchasing manager in Asia who has been looking for a new manufacturer of an important component. He’s on the phone with Crystal, another manager who is leading the meeting, and Jason, an engineer. The team is talking about the product requirements and vendor criteria.
1. What does Jason emphasize as a “must” in terms of design requirements?
2. What does Crystal say is the most important criteria for evaluating potential vendors?
3. What other criteria does Adam want to discuss?
Oct 20 2019
Rank #13: 925 English Lesson 16 – How to Talk about Similarities
In today’s 925 English lesson, we’re going to learn how to make comparisons and talk about similarities in English.
Every day, we compare products, companies, jobs – all kinds of things! We talk about how they are different, and how they are the same or similar.
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Dec 10 2017
Rank #14: BEP 338 – Teleconference English: Participating in Online Meetings
It’s hard to overstate just how important the phone and laptop are to 21st century business. Can you imagine your work life without these tools? Probably not. If you’re like most people, the majority of your English work conversations happen with the help of technology. And this includes meetings. More often than not, people don’t get together in person, but virtually.
But when you can’t see the people in a meeting, it’s suddenly more difficult to get your voice heard. You can’t lean forward or raise your hand to show you want to speak. Instead, you need to find verbal ways of jumping into the conversation. In many cases, this also means identifying yourself so others know who is talking.
In an online meeting in English, you have to be very clear about what you’re talking about. That might mean skipping back to a comment from earlier in the conversation. And you have to be clear who you’re talking to, by directing a comment at a specific individual. And finally, because technology never seems to be perfectly reliable, you might find yourself apologizing for technical difficulties.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a manager named Gabi leading a teleconference with salespeople from across the U.S. They’re having an online meeting to plan a sales conference. The participants will use different strategies to participate effectively.
1. Why does Heather apologize during the meeting?
2. Why does Manuel say “Manuel here in KC” at the start of a comment?
3. When Heather rejoins the conversation, what earlier topic does she want to talk about again?
Mar 12 2019
Rank #15: BEP 345 – Management English: Conflict Resolution (2)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on resolving conflict in the workplace.
Conflict happens. There’s no way around it. But not everyone has the same attitude toward conflict. Some people run from it, or refuse to even admit it exists. Other people acknowledge it but simply hope it goes away on its own. And some people are able to approach it with confidence, dealing with it openly and honestly.
The first step in conflict resolution is for the people involved to sit down and try to work it out themselves. But that doesn’t always work, and in many cases it takes a third party to attempt to find solutions. That third party might be a peer, or colleague. But mostly it’s a manager or leader. In fact, helping mediate conflict between people is an important function of a manager.
Effective mediation is a tricky business. You need to help people have the open and honest conversations that they might not be able to have on their own. Part of that involves ensuring each person has their turn to speak. One of your aims, of course, is common understanding, so you may need to encourage empathy and confirm understanding at different steps along the way.
As a conflict mediator, your ultimate aim it to find a solution. To do that, you’ll want to have people agree on a common goal. You may also ask them to focus on positive actions, rather than negative ones. Positive actions are more solution-focused.
In today’s dialog, we’ll continue hearing about a conflict between Trevor and Andrew, two retail managers in the same company. Trevor has tried talking with Andrew about their personal conflict, but they haven’t been able to reach a clear solution. So their boss Ann has stepped in as a third-party to help resolve the conflict.
1. What does Ann do when Trevor interrupts Andrew at the start of the dialog?
2. After Andrew explains his side of the story, what does Ann ask Trevor?
3. What is the common goal for the solution Ann proposes?
Jul 09 2019
Rank #16: BEP 318 – Business Socializing: Checking In with Clients (2)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on socializing in English with your clients on the phone.
There’s an old saying that you should never mix business and pleasure. And sure, it might not be a good idea to get too close to your customers and clients. But if you are all business, and you shy away from anything personal, you’ll seem cold. And people won’t connect with you.
Ultimately, you have to find the right balance. You want to be personable, but not nosy. You want to be friendly, but not pushy. And you have to take your time. A conversation with a new customer will be naturally more formal than with an established one. That’s true not only in person, but on the phone as well.
In our last lesson, we learned about paying a visit to a client’s office. Today, we’ll look at checking in with a client by phone. As you’ll hear, we often make friendly conversation at the beginning of the call, and you might find yourself showing understanding of a client’s personal situation. But eventually you’ll want to switch from the personal to business. And once you’re talking business, you might mention personal connections, gauge needs, and discuss developments in your industry. This is all part of maintaining and building a relationship with your client.
In today’s dialog, we’ll rejoin Markus, an account manager for a company that sells servers. Markus is calling up a client named Jana. He wants to check in with her, find out how she’s doing, and see if she needs anything. And you’ll hear him strike a balance between business and personal issues.
1. Jana mentions a personal issue at the start of the conversation. What is it?
2. When Markus switches from personal matters to business, what topic does he mention?
3. How does Markus ask Jana about their server needs?
Dec 03 2017
Rank #17: BEP 32 A – English for Discussing Solutions to a Problem (1)
It’s not enough just to find problems or talk about problems at work. We need to figure out how to solve them. And problem-solving is one of the most important skills in any workplace. In fact, almost every meeting, conversation, or teleconference includes some problem-solving.
Sometimes talking about solutions means making suggestions. In other words, you’ve got an idea about how to solve the problem and you want others to listen to it. In that case, you need to be able to use the language of suggestions.
Of course, just because someone suggests an idea doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Another skill we need is to be able to disagree carefully so we don’t upset people or make them feel like they’re being attacked. And when you disagree with someone, you might want to suggest another way of solving the problem. These are all important skills when talking about solutions.
In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a teleconference about a problem with paint fumes at a factory. The meeting is being led by Jim, who will show us how to start a teleconference. We’ll also hear Jack, Dan, and Angie, who are all talking about different ways of solving the problem.
1. What solution does Dan suggest?
2. When Jack disagrees with Dan’s idea, what does he say before showing his disagreement?
3. What solution does Jack suggest instead of Dan’s solution?
Jan 14 2018
Rank #18: Skills 360 – Top 10 Business English Skills (1)
Welcome back to Business English Skills 360 for today’s lesson on the business English skills everyone needs in order to be successful.
As any guru worth his weight in salt will tell you, business is all about relationships. That means connecting with new people, and maintaining good relations with people in your existing network. And one of the ways we do this is through small talk.
We call it small talk because it’s not about big important business topics. It’s about things like the weekend, the weather, sports, or family. Making small talk in English allows us to connect with people, find out more about them, and set a mood. This kind of conversation involves a back and forth of simple comments, questions, and answers. You need to show interest in the other person, but also reveal a bit about yourself. And it’s important to stick to topics that are common to both people.
Once you’ve broken the ice with small talk, then you can move on to bigger topics. And that’s where you bring in the skill of expressing opinions in English. Exactly how you do that depends on the situation. If you’re in a meeting and want to add your perspective, you might just introduce it with an expression like “the way I see things” or “as far as I’m concerned.”
But if you’re making a suggestion or pitching an idea, there are a couple of ways to go about it. You might do it carefully with words like “perhaps” or “maybe” or “we could.” Or, if you want to state something more confidently, you can use stronger words like “have to” or “should.” The important thing here is that you assess the situation and adapt your language accordingly.
After all, English conversation isn’t just about speaking; it’s also about listening, and that leads me to asking questions. I don’t just mean “yes or no” questions. I mean substantive questions that show that you’re listening and engaged. This also includes discerning and sincere questions about people’s ideas. This is a big part of being an active listener, which means listening to understand, not just listening to respond.
Of course, being a good listener doesn’t mean being a yes-man. Participating in a meeting or negotiations in English requires the ability to reject ideas. And that’s not as simple as saying “no” or “I disagree.” Most situations require a more nuanced or careful approach.
But be careful with this kind of softening language. If you’re in a position to say no or reject something, be clear about it. You can still be diplomatic without waffling. To do that, you can comment on the positive aspects of the idea, or the intention behind them, before saying “no.”
Rejecting ideas effectively is one aspect of being decisive and getting results. And that brings me to one last skill I want to mention today: getting people to take action. You’ve probably been in an English meeting where there was a lot of great discussion, but no real action points. So you need to learn how to delegate effectively.
Alright, so we’ve looked at five essential business English skills. Let’s do a quick recap: you need to know how to make small talk, express opinions, and ask good questions. At the same time, you need to be able to reject ideas and get action from people.Lesson Resources: Lesson Module | Quiz & Vocab | PDF Transcript
Jul 20 2019
Rank #19: BEP 163 R – English Idioms: Football Idioms (Part 1)
Have you ever stopped to think about how many similarities there are between business and sports? Groups of employees work together as teams. Teams, or companies, compete against each other, trying to win recognition, profits, or new clients. Given these similarities, it’s not surprising that language would be similar when we talk about business and sports. And a number of different sports have contributed idioms to the English language.
Today, our focus will be on English football idioms. As you listen to the dialog, you might hear some phrases that are new to you. Thinking about the relationship between business and sports may help you guess their meaning. And off course, we’ll go over them later in the debrief.
In the dialog, we’ll hear Karl and Marilyn, two friends who work at a publishing company. Karl is thinking about applying for a job at the company’s Sydney office. He has some doubts though, so he asks Marilyn what she thinks.
1. Why does Karl want to leave his current job?
2. What are two points Marilyn mentions about the Sydney branch?
3. What has Karl heard about the Sydney branch?
Jun 24 2018
Rank #20: BEP 343 – Interview English: Second Round Behavioral Interview
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on second round interviews in English.
You may know all about the basic English job interview questions. And you might be comfortable talking about your basic qualifications and experience. But most companies don’t stop the selection process after one round of interviews. They create a shortlist and invite a few outstanding candidates back for a second interview.
In many cases, that second interview is what we call a behavioral interview. Interviewers will ask questions about how you acted or reacted to challenges in past work, and how you dealt with or adapted to different situations. In this way, they can find out whether you have the right attitude, approach, and abilities for the job.
The behavioral interview is a special opportunity to demonstrate soft skills, such as leadership, or how you take a principled approach to problems. You might also want to show that you can remain calm in conflict. In many cases, the STAR approach can help shape your responses. This is when you describe four things: the situation, the task, the action, and the result. And in this kind of English interview, you have to be careful, because some interviewers will try to give you leading questions to get you to reveal mistakes or problems.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Kat, who is applying for a job with a private healthcare company. She is being interviewed by Denise. Denise is asking Kat some tough behavioral questions, and Kat is doing a good job of demonstrating some important soft skills.
1. What example does Kat give of how she showed leadership and went above and beyond?
2. What situation does Kat describe in response to a question about an unpopular decision?
3. What attitude or attribute does Kat demonstrate when describing a situation of conflict?
May 26 2019