Business Idioms: “B” Better Prepared in the Boardroom

balance booksAs is the case in all of life’s endeavors, proper planning promotes performance. Unfortunately some things – like a test – are easy to prepare for than others – like a business meeting. While you can never be sure what expressions might pop up in  business meeting, you are will doubtless be better prepared for any curveballs thanks to our latest installment of Business Idioms:

To Bail Out a Company/Person – to provide financial relief to a company or person that would otherwise be “underwater” (in debt)

  • Many people believe that a strategic bail out would help provide much-needed stability in the faltering economy.

Note: This idiom can be used with the word “out” after either bail or company and as a noun (as above).

Baked In – included

  • As technology improves many automakers are baking in special features that were once considered luxuries; just try buying a car without air conditioning these days!

To Balance the Books – to audit or otherwise verify that a business’s assets are properly accounted for

  • It is both dull necessary to balance the books from time to time; it is the best way to keep track of a company’s performance.

Continue reading “Business Idioms: “B” Better Prepared in the Boardroom”


“B” More Confident With These Phrasal Verbs

Alphabet.B 476907785Although the most recent entries in our Phrasal Verbs Blog Series have focused on examples that share a common root verb (be it break, bring, or burn), not all verbs have so many phrasal variants. Here, for example, are a few verbs that stand alone:

Bawl … Out – to criticize or scold

  • The strict teacher was always bawling students out for not doing their homework assignments.

Note: Though uncommon in everyday English, the root verb (bawl) can stand alone. By itself it means “to cry loudly” – a definition which lends itself nicely to the meaning of its phrasal partner. Continue reading ““B” More Confident With These Phrasal Verbs”


Pronunciation and Patience Pay!

cup of coffee181764721Not all of the commonly confused words in English look or even sound alike. Nevertheless, the quick tempo of modern life – and the language itself – often obscures these distinctions. The letter p, for example, has a number of these example where two distinct words appear to be almost twins.

Past vs Passed

While many people often believe these words sound the same, a more careful pronunciation of each reveals their distinctions. When both are said aloud, for example, the final letter of each should be clear. Past, which means at an earlier time, ends with a nice crisp t while passed, the past tense of pass, ends with the softer d. Remember things clearly this way: “Dee passed the tea in the past but now we drink coffee!”

Patience vs Patients

Even native speakers confuse these two but the differences should be quite clear to all. Though they do, in truth, sound the same, patience with a c is an adjective used when people tolerate annoyances well. Patients, on the other hand, are people under medical care. Thus while patients often need patience, the opposite cannot be true!

Peace vs Piece

Though these two nouns sound just about the same – both rhyme with niece, lease, and fleece – they are used to describe wildly different things. Peace, for example, describes a state of being without war while a piece is simply a part of a whole. Thus we could say that peace is the most important piece of tranquil international affairs.

Plain vs. Plane

Though both of these words rhyme with insane, you do not have to be to keep them apart! Plain with an i is an adjective meaning “ordinary” while plane with an e is a shortened version of the noun “airplane”. Thus while a plane could be described as plain, the opposite is grammatically impossible!

Want to learn more about other confusing words? Check out our other blog posts on commonly confused words and our Learn English section.


Commonly Confused Words: Lighten Up and Take The Lead!

periodic table139690891Between words that look the same, sound the same, or just plain are the same, there are a lot of commonly confused words in English. Fortunately, with our help, you can keep these things clear – and, more importantly, correct. Here are a few word pairs that begin with the letter L:

Later / Latter
Though only a single letter separates these two adjectives, their pronunciations differ as much as their meanings. Later, with one t, means at a future time while latter, with two ts, means the second of two things. Thus you could say “If given the choice between studying math or English later, I would prefer the latter.”

Lead / Led
This pair is one of the most confusing imaginable. That is because not only do the two words have different meanings but one – lead – has two different pronunciations! Lead, when pronounced to rhyme with “red” is a noun describing a metal on the Periodic Table while lead, when pronounced to rhyme with “need” is a verb meaning to guide. Led, meanwhile, which always rhymes with “red” (as with the metal, above) is simply the past tense of to lead (as rhymes with need above). Whew! If you have all that, good job! Context will help you tell them apart but this sentence can help you remember the difference: “I didn’t need to lead but fortunately the red trail led to lead.”

Lessen / Lesson
Fortunately, these two are much easier than most to keep clear. Though they are pronounced almost exactly the same way, lessen is a verb meaning to reduce while lesson is a noun meaning what you learn. Hopefully this lesson has helped to lessen your worries about English!

Lightning / Lightening
All you need to do to keep these two apart is a little counting. That is because lightning – the name of the electrical flashes that happen during storms – has only two syllables while lightening – a form of the verb to lighten (as in to decrease in weight or color) – has three. The extra e in lightening changes the word from light-ning to something closer to lie-ten-ing and, of course, context will tell you which one to use. If it’s not raining you probably are not going to use the two syllable version!

Want to learn more about other confusing words? Check out our other blog posts on commonly confused words and our Learn English section.


TEFL Certifications in South Korea

Although many opportunities to teach English abroad do not require an English teaching certificate, there are many reasons to get one. Not only are they increasingly seen as a way for would-be international educators to get a leg up on the increasingly stiff competition, but most international employers look favorably on such credentials. Indeed, not only such programs help prepare teachers for the classroom, they also show employers that you are committed to professional improvement. Indeed, TEFL Certifications in South Korea are so highly valued that a 100- or 120-hour course would be a prudent investment.

South Korea has long been considered one of the most lucrative countries for ESL teachers thanks to its relatively high base salaries and ample benefits (which include, among other things, accommodations, airfare, and insurance). Such desirable positions have led to significant competition among applicants and, more to the point, led the Korean government – which is responsible for the employment of Native English Teachers in Seoul through SMOE, Gyeonggi-do through GEPIK, and elsewhere through EPIK – to entice TEFL certified teachers with immediate pay raises.

For example, according to the official SMOE Eligibility and Renumeration policy base compensation is 1.8 million won per month for teachers with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline. An immediate pay raise, however, is offered to applicants who have any of the following:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in any discipline in addition to one year of experience teaching English
  • A Bachelor’s degree in Education or English
  • A Master’s degree in any discipline
  • A TESOL/TEFL or English Teaching Certificate comprised of a minimum of 100 course hours

The same is true (at different rates) throughout the country: 100- and 120- TEFL Certifications in South Korea are as highly valued – and a lucrative – a specialization in English, Education or any Master’s degree. In the end, then, the conclusion should be clear – when it comes to teaching English in South Korea, a TEFL course is a wise investment.


Learn English as a Second Language in India

The English language holds a unique place in modern Indian society. Although India is technically the largest English-speaking nation in the world, its constitution recognizes no official language and English itself only holds the status of assistant language. Still, it is in many ways the important language on the subcontinent. After Hindi it is the most commonly spoken language in India and, given its wider geographic spread, likely the most read and written language in the country. Indeed, English holds a special place as a common medium of exchange among the hundreds of different languages spoken across the nation.

More importantly still, English is considered very important to the past, present, and future of economic growth in India. Much country’s surging service sector has been built on its technology and call-center industries, sectors whose growth has, for the first time, provided well-paying jobs for anyone who can speak English. English proficiency is clearly seen as a stepping stone to success in other ways, too – a 2009 survey found that fully 87% of Indians “feel that knowledge of English is important to succeed in life” both professionally and academically.

Still, as crucial an ingredient English may be, estimates of how many Indians are actually proficient speakers can be hard to come by. Estimates range from as few as 11 million to as many as 350 million but because there is no standardized assessment of spoken language proficiency, there is no way of knowing what range of skill levels actually exists in the population. This discrepancy makes learning English for school more important than ever. Because success and English are now tied together in the popular imagination, certified English proficiency from internationally recognized institutions are becoming increasingly important among would-be social climbers. Because these programs meet the needs of would-be international students and professionals alike, they are an important factor in India’s continued economic growth.

If you are interested in finding an English language program in India, check out ESL Directory for the latest schools and programs!


What does it mean to Overdraft?

I’m glad you asked! If you have opened a bank account, it is important to know how much you have in your account. An overdraft occurs when you have spent, or promised to spend, more money from your bank account than you deposited into it. This can be done by paying with a check, using a debit card, or allowing a company to draft or debit (pull money automatically) your account. This most often occurs when someone forgets to check how much money they have in their account before they spend money.

When you overdraw an account, your bank will normally charge you a fee for every transaction that brought your account’s balance below zero. This fee is usually thirty five dollars (in the US). Additionally, many banks charge an additional fee if your account stays overdrawn for more than five days. This is done differently in the United States than many foreign countries. Instead of being charged interest for the money you spend that you didn’t have, a standard fee is assessed. This fee does not vary based on the amount of the charge, such that overdrawing your account for two dollars is just as expensive as overdrawing your account for two hundred.

Normally you can avoid paying an overdraft fee by depositing money into your account to cover the money you spent within the same working day. So, if you overdraw your account by thirty dollars on Monday morning, you can usually avoid a fee on your account by depositing enough money to bring your account back to positive (thirty dollars) by Monday afternoon. Many banks have a “cut off” time, usually 4pm or 2pm. If you bring your account positive after this cut off time, you will still be charged a fee. Make sure to ask your bank when their “cut off” time is, just in case you have to know!

If you do overdraw your account, and are assessed a fee, you can try calling your bank to see if they will refund you the fee. If you’ve never overdrawn an account before and explain this to the representative, they may refund the fee for you. If you overdraw an account too often, your bank may decide that they no longer want to do business with you, and close your account.

Be sure to take your finances seriously and keep a transaction register, and this doesn’t have to happen to you.