An Interview with Jenny Field, CEO of the English Language Room. How to practise English!
The English Language Room is a UK-based company with a niche specialisation in teaching English over Skype. Currently the company has students, mainly from Europe, Russia, China, and Japan. Jenny Field, a native English speaker, and the founder CEO of the company, has 28 years of language teaching experience. Earlier she used to teach German to native English speakers. Due to the decline in the interest of British students in studying German, she decided to teach English to non-native speakers. Initially she wanted to teach face-to-face in a small group locally. However, due to the availability of free video conference call facilities over the Internet, she chose to help students practise English over Skype all over the world.
When I interviewed her over Skype, she was working from her home office located in Bridport, Dorset, UK. She openly discussed her opinion regarding the challenges in one-to-one online teaching with various types of students from different parts of the world. “The enjoyment of speaking a foreign language and meeting other people sparked my interest in language generally,” Jenny tells me as the reason for her love for language.
According to her experience, one-to-one teaching is very different compared to the management of a class where interactivity within the group is the style. One-to-one is more intense and one has to have quite a few structured topics planned ahead that would help to focus the student’s attention. Only focusing on conversation during the class can cause the student to lose interest. Another difference is that with online students you are working towards their individual goal alongside them and you can focus on their interests alone.
For the international students, there are different mother tongue specific difficulties. For example, Japanese students find it difficult to pronounce “r” and “l” and the students without articles in their mother tongue have difficulty in the correct use of articles. Most of the students are adult and have professions that have nothing to do with language. Consequently, very often they encounter things they have never heard before.
Basically, two types of students are enrolled in her courses. Professionals, who want to practise English constantly for their job, enrol for a long time. The next group is younger students preparing for IELTS, who enrol in only one or two courses. Occasionally, there is a third type who just want to brush up their English by taking one or two courses.
For the students, these courses mean commitment, as they must do quite a lot of work before and after the lesson. They need to have an objective and purpose even if they are just learning to go on holiday. Before enrolling it is nice to think what they will get out of it at the end, advises Jenny to prospective students.
By English language student, Manohar
CONNECT with LANGUAGE
Conversation Class: IELTS Speaking Practice
Please prepare the lesson before talking with your tutor
Let’s have a quick 5 minute conversation:
Your ideas and hopes for the future (IELTS Speaking Test!)
(Warm -up) Revision Practice Read this passage out loud to your tutor
A report from the United Nations (UN) says the world needs another 69 million teachers by the year 2030. The UN agency UNESCO made a promise in 2015 that every child in the world is to receive a primary and secondary education within the next 14 years. The agency says a lot of work needs to be done to find the number of teachers for schools. The biggest numbers of teachers needed are in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. UNESCO says there needs to be a huge effort to get the 69 million teachers. At the moment, UNESCO says there are “massive shortages” of teachers around the world. There are currently 263 million children who do not go to school. Around 25 million of these might never get an education.
I’ll ask you lots of questions in ………..
- Present tense
- Future tense
- Past tense
- Using ‘for’ and ‘since’
- Asking about likes and dislikes
- Asking for your opinion
Main Activity: Please prepare this IELTS Speaking Test Practice
Let’s talk about your education
Did you enjoy school?
What did you do after school?
How long have you been studying?
Which part of your studies did you enjoy the most? Why?
Now let’s talk about your free time
Do you spend a lot of free time with your friends?
Do you go out much in the evening?
Do you like sport? Why?
Tell me about the TV programmes and films that you like
Part 2 – Individual long turn
|Candidate Task Card Describe something you own which is very important to you.
You should say:
where you got it from
how long you have had it
what you use it for
and explain why it is important to you.
Speaking sample task – Part 3
| Part 3 – Two-way discussion
Let’s consider first of all how people’s values have changed.
• What kind of things give status to people in your country?
• Have things changed since your parents’ time?
Finally, let’s talk about the role of advertising.
• Do you think advertising influences what people buy?
What have you learnt this lesson?
What do you need to improve on before the next?
What do you think would be useful to do next lesson for you to progress further?
The first step is completed. Your wonderful business presentation is created and ready for its début. Now is your chance to shine when you deliver it to an audience. Here are tips to make this presentation a successful venture.
- Know your material:
Knowing your material thoroughly will help you decide what information is essential to your presentation and what can be left out. It will help your presentation to flow naturally, allowing you to adjust to unexpected questions or events, and it will help you feel more comfortable when speaking in front of an audience.
- Don’t Memorize:
This is, after all, a presentation, not a recital. Every presentation needs two major components — life and energy. Recite from memory and your presentation will be sadly lacking both of these factors. Not only will you lose your audience, but you will be find it difficult to adapt to unexpected events that may throw you off your mental script.
- Rehearse Your Presentation:
Rehearse your presentation out loud, accompanied by the slide show. If possible, get someone to listen while you rehearse. Have the person sit at the back of the room so you can practice speaking loudly and clearly. Ask your listener for honest feedback about your presentation skills. Make changes where necessary and run through the whole show again. Keep repeating until you feel comfortable with the process.
- Pace Yourself:
As part of your practice, learn to pace your presentation. Generally, you should spend about one minute per slide. If there are time constraints, make sure that the presentation will finish on time. During your delivery, be ready to adjust your pace in case you need to clarify information for your audience or answer questions.
- Know the Room:
Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive ahead of time, walk around the speaking area, and sit in the seats. Seeing the setup from your audience’s perspective will help you decide where to stand, what direction to face, and how loudly you will need to speak.
- Know the Equipment:
If you are using a microphone, make sure it works. The same goes for the projector. If it’s your projector, carry a spare bulb. Also, check to see if the projector is bright enough to overpower the room’s lighting. If not, find out how to dim the lights.
- Copy Your Presentation to the Computer’s Hard Drive:
Whenever possible, run your presentation from the hard disk rather than a CD. Running the show from a CD may slow your presentation.
- Use a Remote Control:
Don’t hide at the back of the room with the projector. Get up front where your audience can see and hear you. Also, just because you have a remote, don’t walk around the room — it will only distract your audience. Remember you are the focal point of the presentation.
- Do Not Speak to Your Slides:
Many presenters watch their presentation rather than their audience. You made the slides, so you already know what is on them. Turn to your audience and make eye contact with them. It will make it easier for them to hear what you are saying, and they will find your presentation much more interesting.
- Have a Backup Plan:
What if your projector dies? Or the computer crashes? Or the CD drive doesn’t work? Or your CD gets broken? For the first two, you may have no choice but to go with a technology-free presentation, so have a printed copy of your notes with you. For the last two, carry a backup of your presentation on a USB flash drive or email yourself a copy, or better yet, do both.
Are you heading off for a job interview in English? Are you worried about speaking English in an interview? Here are a few suggestions to help you succeed!
You may feel quite confident in speaking English on a day to day basis and chatting with your friends but a job interview requires a more formal register of language.
Think carefully about ‘first impressions’
Think about how you will introduce yourself
- DO use formal language.
In order to show the interviewer that you can use more advanced English structures and that you can use appropriate English in business situations, use polite and formal English.
- DO use buzzwords.
Buzzwords are words that are commonly used when people are talking about something in business. Some common buzzwords might be “referrals”, “renewals”, “quality service” or “strict time management”. You need to know what the buzzwords are for your industry.
- DON’T say like unless you are comparing things.
The word like can be used to compare things such as “I swim like fish” but we also use it as an interjection. An interjection is a word in a sentence that adds no meaning to the sentence such as “I, like, work really hard”. This kind of like is very informal and does not sound good in job interviews.
- DON’T say you know.
Some people tend to use you know a lot when they are speaking. ”I always go to work on time, you know.” Again this is very informal and shouldn’t be used at a job interview.
- DON’T use negative words.
Words like hate, bad, should be replaced positively: “The part of the job that I liked the least” or “It was not the best part of the job”.
Do you have to face an interview in English? Here is our help with interview questions. Key phrases to use in an interview and how to answer tricky questions. Good luck!
I have been willing to handle…
I am very self-motivated, determined and honest …
I usually thrive on …
I frequently talk to our key accountants …
My strengths are interpersonal skills …
I can normally win people over to my point of view …
I am very frequently able to assess …
I often have an intuitive sense of…
I also have a personal rule…
My approach is helping us to come up with better and more creative solutions.
I have been told that I am honest, reliable and ethical.
I have had to learn to cope with…
My associates have remarked on my friendly attitude, thoroughness and ability to get things done on time.
I have been able to develop a very supportive team.
Tricky Interview Questions
- Question regarding “Personal Weakness”
More often than not, you will be asked about your weaknesses in an interview. If this seems daunting, follow the interview tips below:
Interview Question: “Looking at your own resume, what do you think your weaknesses are regarding this job?”
Advice: Take the opportunity to turn the question around and find out what they think your weaknesses are.
- Question regarding “Hard Work Ethics”
You will often be asked questions in respect to your work ethic. Always try to validate your answer with examples.
Interview Question: “Would your current boss describe you as the type of person who goes that extra mile?”
Advice: Share an example or experience that demonstrates your dependability or willingness to tackle a tough project. If you describe “long hours of work,” make sure that you prove that the hours were productive, and not the result of poor time management.
- Question regarding “Standing Out”
Often in an interview, you will be asked to separate yourself from other candidates who may be more qualified or may be less of a risk-factor.
Interview Question: “What skills or ideas do you bring to the job that our other internal candidates don’t offer?”
Advice: This question addresses your motivation in adding “true value” to the job. Evaluate the job carefully, considering current limitations or weaknesses in the department and your unique abilities. Your ability here to prove “I offer what you need and then some” could land you the job.
4. Being Specific
Sometimes in interviews, you will be asked questions that lend themselves to be answered vaguely or with lengthy explanations. Take this opportunity to direct your answer in a way that connects you with the position and company, be succinct and support your answer with appropriate specific examples.
Interview Question: “Why did you choose this particular career path?”
Advice: Your answer needs to convince the interviewers that your skills are exactly what they want. They want to know if you have a realistic view of what it is like to work in their industry. Be specific; show them that their industry and your career goals are in line with each other.
- Tough questions regarding your past
There may be times an interviewer may ask a question regarding your past that can be hard to dodge. You should answer these carefully and try to come up with answers that can turn a potentially negative experience into a positive response.
Interview Question: “I see that you didn’t finish school; can you explain that choice?”
Advice: The interviewer is trying to gauge what kind of a risk you are. So you tend to complete things or just let them fall by the waist side? Give a good reason why you did not finish or explain why any issues related to it are in the past.
- Questions about how you can “Contribute to the company”
Before an employer makes a decision to promote you, they will need to know how you have performed in the past and any other special contributions you can bring to the company.
Interview Question: “Tell me about a special contribution you have made to this company.”
Advice: Don’t give long boring answers, instead focus your answers on the actions you took and the positive results that you obtained.
- Questions regarding “Helping the Company”
When you are looking for a job, an employer will want to know what you can do to help or improve their company. Now is the time to tell them of your proven skills and knowledge that you gained with previous positions.
Interview Question: “Give me an example of how you can help this company.”
Advice: Use an example of a significant contribution you made in your past job that impacted the bottom line. Show how this ability transfers across industries from one functional area to another.
- Questions regarding “Salary Expectations”
Everyone wants to make a lot of money working the job they love. You should be honest here. Saying that you will be OK working for $30,000 when you think you are worth $40,000 is not a very smart idea. Experience will show that you will lose interest in the job pretty quickly.
Interview Question: “Tell me about your salary expectations.”
Advice: You should answer this question in general terms. Mention the market value for yourself.
- “In Five Years …”
Employers will want to know your drive and a sense of what your future holds for you. They would prefer to hire someone with a sense of purpose. Employers may ask you to describe what you see yourself doing in the years to come, whether you will be at one company or another. Telling them you see yourself in their position may not be the best answer.
Interview Question: “Where do you want to be in five years?”
Advice: Avoid the urge to describe job titles; this makes you seem unbending and unrealistic, since you do not know or control the system of promotion. Describe new experiences or responsibilities you’d like to add in the future that build on the current job you are applying for.
- Question regarding “Previous Bosses”
There will be times in an interview where questions about past co-workers and old bosses will pop up. Telling them how pathetic and bad they were is generally a bad career move.
Interview Question: “Tell me about your relationship with your previous bosses.”
Advice: The interviewer is looking for a fit between the two of you. As you describe each previous boss, the interviewer will be making mental comparisons between your old bosses and themselves. Be honest but never sound too negative as your employer may consider you to be a hard person to work with.
The English Language Room can help you practise for your interview. Try a Skype session with a trained English tutor who will listen, correct any mistakes, work on pronunciation skills and give you vital feedback for improvement. It is the perfect, stress-free way to practise. We give specialist interview practice.
Do people in your country chat about the weather? When you’re making small talk, you can be sure that at some point the weather will be a topic for discussion! In whatever social or business situation you are in, being able to chat about the weather is a great way to break the ice.
Have a look at this helpful lesson on Small Talk and The Weather to help you speak English with confidence
- You will be able to chat and make small talk about the weather
- You will practice using ‘will’, won’t and ‘will question form’ to talk about the weather
Let’s Get Started
What’s the weather like today?
Look at the table and answer the questions which follow.
|12pm today||°C||12pm tomorrow||°C|
|San Francisco||Fg||21||San Francisco||S||17|
|St Petersburg||Sn||-1||St Petersburg||Fg||2|
S=sunny C=cloudy Fg=foggy R=rainy Sn=snowy
- What is the weather like in San Francisco today?
- What will the weather be like in San Francisco tomorrow?
- What is the temperature like in Shanghai today?
- Will the temperature in Shanghai be higher or lower tomorrow?
- Is it supposed to be rainy in Dublin tomorrow?
- Have you heard the forecast for Stockholm tomorrow?
Now look at the table again and ask the class your own questions.
Reporting and predicting the weather
- Read the sentences and fill the gaps with the missing words:
What’s there changeable looks with get weather about will day
- Well, here in London it is quite cool and windy today. It is ______ 12°C
- It ______ be warmer on Sunday. It’ll be around 18°C.
- ______ the weather like there, Bob?
- It’s a beautiful ______ here.
- The ______ is great/awful/terrible today.
- On Friday it’ll be sunny ______ winds of 10-15mph. (miles per hour)
- Our forecast says it will ______ worse on Thursday.
- Maybe ______ will be showers later on.
- It ______ like it’s going to rain tomorrow.
- The weather is a bit ______ .
- Look at these phrases and match the pairs to complete the sentences.
|I think it will be
It won’t be cloudy
Will the weather
I hope there
If it rains
They say it
If it is too hot we
I think it will
It will be very
| will get better when we go home!
windy at the coast
will stay in the hotel
be foggy in the morning
will be rain soon
will snow tomorrow
we won’t go to the barbecue
warm and sunny next week
get better for next week?
and wet in Miami.
Role Play: Weather reporter
Scan the information on the weather from the BBC website
Answer any questions the trainer may have.
What have you learnt this lesson?
What do you need to improve on before the next?
What do you think would be useful to do next lesson for you to progress further?
Do you feel nervous chairing a meeting in English? No need! Attending a meeting is one thing but having to run or chair the meeting is quite another! Here are your essential business English phrases for chairing a meeting. How to start off or open the meeting, move on to the next point on the agenda and of course summarize and close. Keep them with you or learn them by heart and we promise it will make your life so much easier.
|Starting off||Is everyone present?
Does everyone have / Has everyone got a copy of the agenda?
|Is everyone here?
Has everyone got a copy of the agenda?
|Taking minutes||Could someone take minutes please?||Can someone take minutes please?|
Opening the meeting
|Shall we commence / get started/ make a start?||Let’s get started. / Let’s get the ball rolling.|
Thanking the people attending
|Thank you very much for attending today.||Thanks a lot for coming today.|
Stating the objective
|Our objective here today is to + verb.||We’re here today to + verb.|
Opening up the discussion
|Shall we open this up for discussion?||Let’s open this up for discussion.|
|What are your thoughts?||So, what do you think?|
Controlling the discussion
|Thanks John. Shall we hear from Mary now?||Thanks John. Let’s hear from Mary now.|
|So, to sum up …
So, to summarize …
|So, to sum up …
So, to summarize …
|Shall we vote? All in favour, raise your hands. All against?||Let’s vote. All in favour, raise your hands. All against?|
|Stating further action|| So, we’ll meet again next week.
So, John, you’ll contact … / produce a report … / investigate further …
|So, we’ll meet again next week.
So, John, you’ll contact … / produce a report … / investigate further …
|Closing the meeting|| Any other business?
Shall we close the meeting?
Thank you very much for attending.
|Any other business?
Let’s close the meeting.
Thanks for coming.
Sitting in on a meeting when the conversation is not in your native language and trying to join in can be one of the most nerve-racking and frustrating situations in your working life. We completely understand the problem: by the time you have thought of what to say, the subject has changed; you are so busy listening and understanding that you don’t have time to formulate your sentence; you think you might sound abrupt or rude if you interrupt; people speak so quickly that there is no opportunity to ‘get your word in edgeways’.
We have put together your essential ‘speaking up’ phrases. Take them with you to every meeting and have them at your fingertips. You will be able to interrupt a conversation politely and with respect…your colleagues will stop listen to you. Give them a try!
- Could I just come in here? / Could I just add / mention….?
- Could I perhaps mention……
- Excuse me, Can I jump in here for a moment?
- I see what you mean, but …….
- Well, I agree up to a point, but …..
- Yes, that may be true but ……
- Sorry to interrupt and I completely agree with what you are saying but …..
- Excuse me for interrupting here, but I feel it is important to mention that…..
- I’m sorry to just come in here, but I have been wondering……
Adding a ‘hedging’ word (possibly / perhaps/ reasonably / probably) can help you to sound softer, more approachable and not in the least bit arrogant.
We could go ahead with …….. We could possibly go ahead with …..
It is better to…….. It is perhaps better to …..
We could expect……. We could reasonably expect…..
They will decide to …… They will probably decide to ……..
Try them! They work wonders!
Why is having English lessons on Skype such a great idea?
Do you want to learn English for personal development and fulfilment, job prospects or promotion?
Most of our students would give at least one of those reasons for taking the plunge to have English lessons. Why choose English Lessons on Skype to do that? This is what our students said in a recent survey…….
- You can connect directly with a native speaker who lives in the UK.
- You have a personal one-to-one connection so you learn a lot more.
- You can plan your English lessons around your schedule. Having lessons in the evening is very useful.
- You can use your smartphone or tablet so it is possible to have lessons while on a trip or travelling.
- It is very interactive and photos, files, document and text can be exchanged to support your English learning.
- In one-to one English lessons only your English tutor hears your mistakes so it is not embarrassing!
- You can be assured of good pronunciation with a native speaker.
- You can build a good working relationship with your English tutor and they know how to support you.
An online course of grammar and worksheets is very useful and so is watching English lesson videos, reading and listening to the news and working from a text book. All great ideas! These strategies will help with your passive learning, but it is active and interactive learning that will boost your English skills. Using Skype to communicate with a native English tutor is the perfect way to learn a language: it is the next best thing to actually being in the country.
The English lessons are so alive and vital that it is just like being in a classroom ……. not a classroom but in the English Language Room.
Learn English: Essential Email Language
So you want to improve your business English? Let’s study writing business e-mails!
There are two main styles when writing a business English e-mail. One is formal and the other is informal. When writing a formal e-mail, your language will be more indirect. An informal e-mail contains language that is direct.
In the UK, most people use a business-like and polite tone that is fairly direct. The point or purpose is stated briefly, clearly and quickly.
Use direct language if:
• You are writing to a co-worker
• You are not making a special request
• You expect your request to be accepted
It’s okay to use very direct language if you are writing to your employee or someone who works for you.
Use indirect language if:
• You are writing to a customer, a stranger, or your boss
• You are trying to say something difficult or negative
Example: Very direct – This needs to be done today.
Less direct – Please do this today.
Indirect – We need this tomorrow, so I’d appreciate your getting it done as soon as possible.
Here are some other examples of direct vs. indirect language.
1) Very direct – Send them to me right away.
Less direct – Please send them to me right away.
Indirect – I would appreciate it very much if you could send them to me right away.
2) Very direct – Let me know what you think.
Less direct – I would like to know what you think.
Indirect – I welcome your questions and comments.
3) Very direct – We do not have the item in stock.
Less direct – We are sorry that we do not have the item in stock.
Indirect – We regret to inform you that we do not currently have the item in stock.
4) Very direct – I’ll see you at the meeting.
Less direct – I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.
Indirect – It is with great pleasure that I look forward to seeing you at the meeting on Thursday.
Remember to always use a tone that is friendly, whether they are important customers or just colleagues. It’s important to treat everyone with respect.