Rank #1: BEP 327 – Expressing Opinions in English
Imagine you’re in a difficult meeting where everyone is disagreeing. Tension is high. And the boss turns to you and says “so what do you think?” In this situation, you need to express your opinion. But giving an opinion isn’t always easy, as you surely know. You’ve got to say it the right way.
But the right way has changed a bit. Ten to fifteen years ago business meetings were often quite formal. But many business English meetings today tend to be more informal. And you can see this change in the different ways of expressing your opinion in English. Sometimes we need to be cautious, while at other times we might want to be more direct or stronger. And there’s still a difference between giving opinions in a group setting and speaking informally.
When we want to be informal, we are often more direct. We say exactly what we think. But when we’re being formal or cautious, we tend to add words and expressions to soften our opinions. We also use words like “might” and “could” instead of “must” and “should.” Overall, we try not to sound too strong or direct.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a conversation between Kerry, Nick, Gregory, and Lola. Their company hired a freelance writer to do some work, but the writer hasn’t communicated with them lately. Kerry is asking the group for their opinions about what they should do.
1. How does Kerry ask Vincent for his opinion near the start of the meeting?
2. What expression does Gregory use to introduce his strong opinion?
3. What is one expression that Lola uses to make her opinion careful or cautious?
Jul 15 2018
Rank #2: 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.
925 English is a course of video English lessons for beginners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English phrases and expressions to use in work and business.
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Apr 15 2018
Rank #3: 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 #4: 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 #5: BEP 317 – Business Socializing: Checking In with Clients (1)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on socializing in English with your clients.
Business is all about relationships. And the stronger your relationships are, especially with customers or clients, the more successful you’ll be. This is why we call up our customers or drop by their office. Sometimes we’ve got important business to take care of, but sometimes all we need to do is say hello and check in.
In fact, visiting with clients often sounds like a chat between friends. We might talk about sports, about family, about travel, or about mutual friends. Of course, it takes a while to get to this level with a customer. But once we’re there, our conversations are likely to be an interesting mix of the personal and professional.
Bouncing between these two modes naturally is the secret to the client visit. You might find yourself starting out by introducing some interesting piece of news. At some point, you may want to gauge the client’s satisfaction with your products or services. And the conversation may also turn naturally to gossiping about the competition. If a client needs a decision or information, you may have to promise to check back on it. And finally, you might want to make a social invitation, and move the relationship-building out of the office.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear Markus, who works as an account manager for a company that sells computer servers. He is visiting the offices of one of his clients, a large Internet service provider. We’ll hear Markus chatting with Jose, his main client contact, and Tricia, another manager.
1. What news does Markus deliver to Jose?
2. What does Markus say about his company’s competitor?
3. What does Markus offer to do next Friday?
Nov 26 2017
Rank #6: 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 #7: 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 #8: 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 #9: 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 #10: BEP 339 – Business English Idioms: Food Idioms (1)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on business English idioms related to food.
Food is an important part of life and culture. And even when we’re not eating, or talking about food, it slips into our conversation in the form of idioms. What do I mean when I say “idiom?” I mean special expressions where one thing actually means another. For example, we have the idiom “to go bananas,” which has nothing at all to do with bananas. It means “to go crazy.”
English has idioms that come from specific foods, like bananas, butter, bacon, and bread. We also have English idioms that come from meals or use the word “food” itself. Some of these idioms describe people and activities, while others describe situations, relationships, and ideas. Learning how to use these idioms can really help “spice up” your conversation in English.
In today’s lesson, we’ll hear a conversation among three coworkers: Jessie, Luke, and Ben. They are discussing their general work situation and Jessie’s idea to start her own company. During their discussion, they use many useful idioms related to food.
1. How did Ben feel about working with Ian?
2. Why does Luke say he is not willing to complain to Ian about his approach to work?
3. What does Luke say Jessie is always stressed out about?
Apr 02 2019
Rank #11: BEP 344 – Management English: Conflict Resolution (1)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for today’s lesson on how to resolve conflict.
Just say the word “conflict” and people usually get uncomfortable. Most people want to avoid conflict at all costs. But conflict in the workplace is unavoidable. In fact, it’s a natural result of people working in groups. And in a healthy organization, conflict can actually be constructive. It can lead to personal and professional growth, as well as new ideas and ways of working.
But those positive results of conflict can only be realized if people are willing to face conflict directly and honestly. If people ignore conflict, or refuse to face it, then bad things can happen. Unresolved conflict leads to toxicity and poisoned relationships or teams. Given enough time, it can destroy a company.
So if you experience conflict with someone at work, what can you do? Well, the first step involves trying to work things out one-on-one. You need to talk, privately and openly. And when you do, it’s important to focus on the impact of the other person’s behavior and to try to identify the root cause of the problem. At the same time, you should consider the other sides views and ask them about their perceptions, rather than just focusing on yours. Stick to the facts as you try to resist arguing, and always look for possible solutions.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a retail manager named Trevor try to resolve a conflict he’s having with Andrew, a manager at another store in the same company. Trevor is trying to calmly deal with the situation and find a way to improve their working relationship.
1. What does Trevor say he felt as a result of Andrew’s behavior?
2. How does Trevor respond when Andrew gives him examples of employees that have changed workplaces?
3. What solution does Trevor propose?
Jun 29 2019
Rank #12: 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 #13: BEP 341 – Business English Idioms: Food Idioms (3)
Welcome back to Business English Pod for our final lesson on business English idioms related to food.
Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve looked at a lot of different English idioms connected to food. It should be no surprise that so many expressions are related to eating and drinking. After all, we do it three times a day, or more. Food is not just a necessity, it’s a big part of life and culture.
When you’re looking at idioms, it’s important to remember that they are fixed expressions where the words don’t have a literal meaning. So when you hear that someone is “in a pickle,” you have to understand that there’s no actual pickle. It just means that someone’s in a difficult situation. You have to figure it out from the context, because there’s not really an obvious connection between pickles and difficult situations.
In the lesson, we’ll rejoin a conversation between three colleagues. Jessie has been trying to convince Luke and Ben to join her in starting a business together. Today, we’ll hear them talking about the possible challenges of running their own business.
1. What example does Ben give of a possibly difficult business situation?
2. What does Jessie say is one important benefit of running your own business?
3. According to Jessie, what is necessary for people to have a good business partnership?
Apr 24 2019
Rank #14: 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.”
925 English is a course of English video lessons for beginner level English learners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.
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Aug 12 2018
Rank #15: 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.
925 English is a new series of English lessons for beginners. 925 English lessons focus on English phrases and expressions that you can use in work and business.
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Dec 10 2017
Rank #16: 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 #17: BEP 315 – English for Discussing Marketing Activities (Part 1)
Great marketing is at the heart of business success. This was just as true 100 years ago as it is today. Of course, the digital age has brought new methods of marketing, but the basic goals of marketing haven’t really changed. I mean, first of all, you want customers to know about your products and services. In the world of marketing, that’s what we call “brand recognition.” But it’s not just about recognition, it’s about making sales, and “capturing market share.”
As you heard, in describing the goals of marketing, I used two expressions that you might be familiar with: “brand recognition” and “to capture market share.” We call these kind of expressions collocations. A collocation is a natural combination of two or more words to talk about a single idea. You might think of collocations as chunks of language. And it’s usually easier, and more natural, to remember these chunks rather than learning individual words.
Every area of business has its own special expressions, or collocations. And learning these collocations will help you not only understand what others are saying, but communicate your own ideas more clearly. In this lesson we’re going to focus on collocations you can use to talk about marketing activities.
In today’s dialog, we’ll listen to a discussion by a marketing team at a home furnishings company. You’ll hear Nathan, who is leading the meeting, as well as Theo and Camille. They are discussing the company’s market research, their goals, and how to measure progress toward those goals. Try to pick out the collocations they use, and we’ll talk about them later in the debrief.
1. What does Theo say the process of market research has helped them do?
2. What does Camille say the data from research has helped them do?
3. Near the end of the dialog, what does Nathan say they’ve talked about doing?
Oct 29 2017
Rank #18: 925 English Lesson 27 – Using Questions to Ask for Details
In today’s 925 English video lesson, we’re going to learn how to use questions in English to ask for details.
It would be great if everyone always told us exactly what we need to know. But it doesn’t usually happen. When we want detailed information, we need to go out and get it. And that means asking people questions.
You can confirm information with simple yes / no questions, like “Do you sell printers?” or “Are you the manager?” But I want to start by looking at questions that get different kinds of information, not just a “yes” or “no” answer. And one of the best ways to get information is with WH questions. We have five WH words in English: who, what, where, when, and why. You might also use “how,” which has a “w” and an “h” but not in that order.
925 English is a course of business English video lessons for beginners (CEFR level A2) English learners. With 925 English lessons you can learn business English expressions to use in work and business.Members: PDF Transcript | Lesson Module | Quiz | MP3 Audio
May 05 2019
Rank #19: 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 #20: BEP 322 – Project Management 7: Debriefing User Testing
Ask anyone in the tech world and they’ll tell you that user testing is the key to good software development. In fact, that’s not quite true, because the key is actually good user testing. Users don’t always give you exactly the information you need. Or they may not give you all the information you need. For these reasons, you need to be able to do an excellent job of debriefing a user test with the users.
Debriefing basically means talking about an experience. Debriefing helps us understand a user’s thoughts and feelings during their experience with the software. And in software development, that means we can make the necessary changes to improve that experience.
Debriefing a user test effectively might require you to do several things. For one, it’s a good idea to start by setting the focus for the debrief. And later, you might have to bring the user back to that focus area. To get a general sense of the experience, you might ask for overall impressions. And to get more detail, you might ask the user to talk about the process of using the software. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge important issues when they come up.
In today’s dialog, we’ll hear a software developer named Jill debriefing a user test with Carla, an office worker. Jill’s company, OptiTech, has been developing new software for a logistics company where Carla works.
1. What does Jill say she wants to focus on in the debrief?
2. How does Jill respond to Carla’s suggestion about being able to update a driver’s status?
3. How does Jill respond when Carla mentions that the routes are changing color too soon?
Apr 08 2018