What To Do On Rainy Days? Let’s Explore Some English Vocabulary.


Photo: Pixabay

As I write this post, it’s pouring with rain outside. In fact, it has been raining for the last three days virtually non-stop! I guess this is is the risk you run living in the UK, but we are in the month of August! Come on, rain gods….what’s going on?!

The skies are grey, the roads are wet and slippery, it’s damp and windy and everyone looks miserable as they huddle under umbrellas that won’t stay open in the wind. However, as the British would say “At least, it’s not cold”. The British are masters of understatement.

Work and rain
Waking up to the rain is bad enough, but when you have to go to work in the rain it’s even worse. If you have to catch a train or bus to work, the journey can be a nightmare. Not only do you have to struggle with an umbrella that won’t do what you want it to do, you then have to sit or stand with a soggy umbrella against your legs slowly soaking your feet and shoes. There are always far more people on the buses or trains as the people who would normally walk decide to use public transport on rainy days. That means crowded buses and train carriages with fewer seats and an uncomfortable journey to work.

The journey to work by car is rarely much better. Once again, those people who would normally cycle or walk to work drive creating more traffic on the roads and therefore more traffic jams. The result? You have more irritated people arriving late for work. Not a good start to the day.

No work and rain
On the other hand, waking up to the rain on your day off or at the weekend is a whole different kettle of fish. While you may not relish the idea, there are a number of things you could do to fill up your day that could be fun.

You could:

1. Switch the alarm off and carry on sleeping.

2. Snuggle up under the bed covers or duvet with a good book.

3. Lounge around in your pyjamas all day doing absolutely nothing.

4. Have a soothing or relaxing bubble bath.

5. Do some baking or cooking. I love baking cakes or preparing soup on rainy days.

6. Veg out in front of the TV and catch up with all the films or TV programmes you’ve been meaning to watch. You could have a marathon screening of the films or programmes.

7. Catch up with your reading. It could be books, magazines or all those newspaper supplements that have been piling up by your bedside for weeks.

8. Invite friends or family over for a meal and play board games afterwards.

9. Sit comfortably in your favourite armchair and make a series of phone calls to friends and family you haven’t spoken to in ages (a long time).

10. Take a long afternoon nap. This is my all-time favourite pastime on rainy days (or any other day for that matter!).

What do you do on rainy days?

Continuing with the theme of rain, you might like this post I wrote sharing 6 British English Rain Expressions.

If you liked this post and feel that others could benefit from reading it please share it. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to receive more posts like these directly to your inbox.

Ciao for now


English Skills: How To Meet and Greet Visitors in English

Imagine you’ve been asked to pick a business acquaintance up from the airport or railway station and this person only speaks English. Do you know what you’re going to do and, more importantly, what you’re going to say?


In life, especially our professional lives, first impressions are crucial. According to this article in Forbes magazine, we have 7 seconds to make a positive first impression. The article proceeds to say that first impressions are more heavily influenced by non-verbal signs than verbal signs. In other words, what we DO matters more than what we SAY.

Smiling, a strong hand shake, good eye contact and straight posture are all non-verbal signs that will help you create an excellent first impression with your business acquaintance.

There are also other things that you could do and say that would reinforce this first impression. And this is where I have the delightful pleasure in sharing with you fellow teacher Vicki Hollett’s latest video on how to greet a visitor.

As many of you will know, I am a huge fan of Vicki’s videos. Together with her husband, Jay, Vicki produces short videos about the English Language at Simple English Videos. Every Tuesday, they release an English Language lesson. They are fun, entertaining and educational.  Each video has its own transcript that can be accessed via their website. Check them out!

This week, Vicki released the following video and I just knew that I had to share it with you. In the video, Vicki provides learners a list of do’s and don’t’s of what to do and say when first meeting and greeting a visitor in English.

First, watch the video. Then meet me after for a recap.

Did you enjoy it as much as I did? What does Vicki suggest we do and don’t do and say? Let’s see.

1. Arrive on time – don’t keep the person you’re meeting waiting and wondering where you are.

Be ready to greet your visitor and make them feel welcome – keep it professional, though!

“Are you _____?”
“Hi, Welcome to Philly!”

“Hi*, I’m _____ from Pattersons. 
“Welcome to Philadelphia.

* In some cultures, it’s better to say Good Morning/Afternoon rather than Hi.

Non-verbal: Don’t forget a firm handshake, smile and give good eye contact.

Listen/Pay attention to what your visitor says so you can respond – this also shows you’re interested in what they have to say.

You: “How was your trip?”
Visitor: “Not too bad but one of my bags didn’t arrive…..”
You: “Will they deliver it to your hotel?”
Visitor: “That’s what they promised.”
You: “Oh, good/ oh, that’s good.”

4. Be helpful – with luggage, for example

You: “Can I help you with your bags?”

5. Small Talk – engaging in small talk creates a warm rapport between you and your visitor in a very short period. However, choose your topic with caution.

“Are you married?”
“How old are you?”
“How long have you worked for___?”

Don’t get too personal with someone you’ve only just met. Keep it neutral. Travel and the weather are good topics to start off with.

“Do you travel a lot?”
 “Have you ever been to Philadelphia?
 “Is this the first time to our city?”

 “What was the weather like in England when you left?”
 “We’ve had some lovely weather here and it’s expected to continue throughout your  stay”.
 “It has been extremely hot recently, but we’re expecting cooler temperatures in the next  day or so”.

6. Be positive, friendly and upbeat – in both your verbal and non-verbal language and you will create the perfect first impression.

And there you have it. Oh, one other thing, Vicki and I want to know what other topics you think would be ideal topics to start off a conversation. Please let me know in the comments section of this post.

My thanks to Vicki for allowing me to share her video with you. I hope you enjoyed the post. If you did and found it helpful, please share it.
And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more tips on learning the English Language.

Ciao for now


12 Idioms with “Mind”? I Don’t Mind If I Do!

The expression, I don’t mind if I do” is typically British English that is used when you politely accept food or drink that is offered to you, for example, “Another slice of cake?”

Imagine I’ve offered you a “tray” of 12 idioms and you’ve politely accepted them. Well, that’s what I’m hoping – that you accept them!

So let’s get on with this post. I saw the graphic below on Cork English Teacher’s Facebook Page and simply had to share it here with you. John is an English Language teacher based in Cork, Ireland. He prepares wonderful graphic posts about the English Language (grammar, vocabulary, slang, idioms) for his FB page. I often share them on my own page. This time I thought I’d share this graphic with you and expand on it.

The word “mind” has many uses in the English Language. It can be used as a noun and a verb. For more information take a look at Cambridge Dictionary here.

The word is also used idiomatically as outlined below. Let’s see how. I have added a couple of my own to give you 12 expressions in total.

CET_Idioms with Mind

  1. Open-minded – willing to consider ideas and opinions that are different to your own.Parents these days need to be a lot more open-minded if they are to have a more meaningful relationship with their teenagers.
  2. Narrow-minded – the opposite of the above, that is, you’re NOT willing to accept ideas or opinions that are different from your own.It is virtually impossible to make progress with such narrow-minded directors in this company.
  3. Have something/a lot on your mind – to be worried about somethingA: Are you all right? You look tired.

    B: I’ve had a lot on my mind recently and it’s keeping me awake at night.

  4. Out of sight, out of mind – when you don’t see somebody/something for a long time, it’s easy to forget about it or him/her. (It’s a saying)It’s important to have regular contact with someone, for, as the saying goes, out of sight, out of mind, and you wouldn’t want that, would you?
  5. Mind your own business – this what you tell someone when you don’t want them to interfere in your affairs (It’s informal and can be used humorously or seriously depending on the situation so be careful how you use this)A: Where have you been? 

    B: Mind your own business!

  6. Be in two minds about something – to be undecided about somethingI am in two minds about whether to go to the party on Saturday or not.
  7. Make up your mind – to decide or make a decisionWe cannot wait any longer, you’re going to have to make up your mind about what you want to do.Make up your mind! Do you want toast or cereal?
  8. Change your mind – make a new decision or opinion from your old one.If you do change your mind about meeting, just give me a call.
  9. Bear something in mind – to remember a piece of information when making a decisionWhen calculating the budget, you need to bear in mind the extra building costs.
  10. Never mind – an expression to say “it doesn’t matter” or it’s not importantA: Oh, I have run out of milk. I’ll go and get some.

    B: Never mind, I’m happy to drink black coffee.

  11. To be bored out your mind – extremely boredThe meeting went on for hours. By the end of it, I was bored out of my mind.
  12. Out of your mind a) you’re unable to behave normally because something has made you worried, unhappy or angry

    She nearly went out of her mind with worry when her daughter didn’t arrive home.

    I’d go out of my mind if I had to do her job.b) extremely stupid or mentally ill (informal)
    Are you out of your mind?! I’d never pay £500 for a ticket to watch Arsenal.


So there you have it. Do you have similar expressions in your language?

I hope you found this post helpful. If you did, please share it with others and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog to receive more posts like these.

Ciao for now. I will be out of sight but hopefully not out of mind!



20 Phrasal Verbs with ‘BRING’ – Let’s Explore.

phrasal verbs

As you know, the English Language is filled with phrasal verbs (verbs and prepositions). They cause sleepless nights to most learners and find us teachers apologising time and again for what appears to be the language’s reluctance to use the proper verb.

After all, why say: “I managed to persuade Tim of the advantages of the new working hours” when you can say: “I managed to bring Tim round to the advantages of the new working hours”. I know, I know…the English Language is mind-boggling. However, this eccentricity is also what makes it so enriching to teach and dare I say it, to learn.

So, the above introduction offers me the perfect opportunity to share with you 20 phrasal verbs with the verb “BRING”. I have selected 8 phrasal verbs, but you will see that some of them have multiple meanings depending on the context making a total of 20. There are more but I don’t want to inundate you!

1. Bring About 
to make something happen, especially to cause changes in a situation, to trigger

“The changes we’ve made to the purchasing system will bring about huge savings to the company”.
2. Bring Along
to take something or someone with you when you go somewhere

“Can I bring along a guest to the exhibition?” “Yes, of course”.


3. Bring Back
There are 6 different meanings for this particular phrasal verb so let’s look at each meaning.

a) re-kindle memories or feelings
“Looking through those old photographs brought back all my memories of the wonderful summers I spent in Cornwall”.

b) reintroduce something that was used in the past
“I think we should bring back the tradition of dressing up for dinner”.

c) re-employ
“Sam is looking to bring back the former tennis coach in the hope of winning some competitions.”

d) to bring something when you return
“Have a wonderful holiday and don’t forget to bring me back a present!”

e) to make a dead person live
“Her heart stopped three times during the operation but the surgeons managed to bring her back.”

f) to talk about something again (often used in meetings or presentations)
“This brings me back to subject of operational cuts and the need to introduce them”.

. Bring Down
We have 3 different meanings for this phrasal verb

a) to topple or overturn a government or politician
“The opposition parties are threatening to bring down the government if the referendum on the Euro is not held.”

b) to reduce
“If we are to compete in the market, we’re going to have to bring down our production costs.”
“We have managed to bring her temperature down so let’s see what the next few hours will bring.”

c) to make something or someone move or fall to the ground
“The pilot was able to bring  the plane down to safety with one single engine.”
“The strong winds brought down a number of power lines in the area”.


5. Bring Forward
To change the date or time of an event so that it happens earlier.
“The meeting has been brought forward to 3pm.”


6. Bring In
Once again we have many meanings for this phrasal verb.

a) to use the skills of a particular group or person
“We need to bring in a specialist to analyse the figures more closely for us”.

b) to be the reason that someone receives money
“The Royal Family bring(s) in millions of pounds to to the Treasury every year”.

c) to introduce a new law or system
“The new contracts system we’re bringing in in the autumn will make a huge difference to the way we deal with our clients”.

d) to involve someone in a discussion when you’re in the middle of a conversation, meeting or presentation
” And now I’d like to bring in my learned colleague, James Ellroy, who has conducted some outstanding research on the subject, to share his thoughts on it”.
7. Bring Off
to succeed in doing something difficult
“It was her first investment presentation in front of the Board of Directors and she brought it off magnificently.”
8. Bring Out

a) to release a product
“We’re bringing out the new model in late October. It’s going to be so exciting”.

b) to show the quality something or someone has
” The colour of your dress really brings out the green of your eyes”.
“This wine brings out the spicy flavour of the meat beautifully”.

bring out the best or worst  in somebody

“I don’t know what it is about Simon, but he knows how to bring the worst out of me“.


These phrasal verbs take on more meaning and are easier to understand and remember when you give them a context. There’s absolutely no point trying to memorise them.


After publishing this post, I was approached by Zdenda of Engames who asked me if she could create an infographic and games around these phrasal verbs. Knowing how brilliant her posts are, I immediately accepted.
The result is that I am absolutely thrilled to share here Engames’s post featuring two fabulous infographics and games that you can use to practise these phrasal verbs.


I hope this is helpful. There are other phrasal verbs with bring, for example, bring round, bring through, bring together, bring up. Why not share some examples of these phrasal verbs in the comment box and I’ll correct them if necessary?

Please share this post if you found it useful and don’t forget to subscribe to my blog if you want to receive more posts like this directly to your inbox.

Until the next time.

Ciao for now


Source: Macmillan Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (2007)

12 Business English Jargon Phrases To Avoid And What To Use Instead

We’ve all been there -that business meeting or conversation where business English jargon and meaningless phrases fly around. Phrases or jargon like: “Keep me in the loop“, “It’s a win-win situation”, “We need some blue sky thinking around here”, “Don’t worry, it’s on my radar“.

Not only do native speakers of English like using them, more often than not I’ve heard non-native speakers voicing these jargon phrases because they are under the mistaken belief that using them will make them sound clever and more fluent in English. Unfortunately, what it actually does is to annoy the person with whom you’re talking – the complete opposite effect I presume you’re trying to achieve. It would be so much better if you used plain English.

Not only does jargon annoy your listener, it is meaningless. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve asked a native speaker what some of these phrases mean only to receive blank looks from them. I’d rather have non-native speakers of English use plain language to make themselves understood.

In this post, I’d like to share twelve jargon phrases and offer you an alternative expression that will win the gratitude and understanding of your listener.

1. We need to get back to the drawing board.
Plain English: We need to start again.

2. If we’re going to achieve the results we want this year, we have to hit the ground running with the project.
Plain English: If we’re going to achieve the results we want this year, we have to work hard and successfully on the project.

3. Let’s get the ball rolling.
Plain English: Let’s start.

4. If we want to compete in this market, we need to think outside the box.
Plain English: If we want to compete in this market, we need to think differently.

5. Right, thanks everyone. Let’s touch base tomorrow at 2pm.
Plain English: Right, thanks everyone. Let’s speak again tomorrow at 2pm.

6. Ok. See you Friday at 6pm. If I am running late, I’ll ping you a message.
Plain English: Ok. See you Friday at 6pm. If I am running late, I’ll send you a message.


BLOG_Elephant in the Room_Bizarro


7. Self-publishing is a no brainer for freelance trainers with limited resources.
Plain English: Self-publishing is the logical solution for freelance trainers with limited resources.

8. Working long hours is par for the course when you start a business.
Plain English: Working long hours is normal (or expected) when you start a business.

9. There’s an ongoing problem with the system that hasn’t been addressed. We’re going to have to circle back next week to discuss matters further.
Plain English: There’s an ongoing problem with the system that hasn’t been addressed. We’re going to have to meet again next week to discuss matters further.

10. Yes, sir. It’s all hands on deck to get this project done by the agreed deadline.
Plain English: Yes, sir. Everyone is working hard to get this project done by the agreed deadline.

11. It was obvious to everyone that there was an elephant in the room – the job cuts.
Plain English: It was obvious that everyone was trying to avoid the difficult subject of the job cuts.

12. Listen, I don’t have time for this. I have far too much on my plate and am finding it difficult to cope as it is.
Plain English: Listen, I don’t have time for this. I am far too busy  and am finding it difficult to cope as it is.
What other expressions do you know or have heard? Do you use any of the above in your business dealings? Think of how you use them and try to use Plain English instead.

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Ciao for now


English Skills: 5 Essential Polite Expressions When Speaking English


How-to-be-politeBeing polite is important in all languages especially if you are asking someone to help you. We all know that if we want things to be done whether in our personal or professional lives, it pays to be polite. You won’t get far by being rude or impolite. Different cultures have different ways of tackling politeness.

In English Language cultures, the need to be polite and to use the correct expressions is essential. Not only will people appreciate it, they will see you as a competent English Language speaker.

There are a few polite expressions that are frequently used in the English Language and it is important for learners to know how to use them correctly and in the right context. I’d like to share with you 5 of the most widely used polite expressions and show you how to use them correctly.

1. Excuse Me

You would use “excuse me” if you need to go past somebody, for example, if they’re blocking your way.

Similarly, if you need to get someone’s attention you would start the phrase with “excuse me”:

  • Excuse me, could you tell me the way to Charing Cross station?
  • Excuse me, do you have the time?
  • Excuse me, is this seat taken?


2. Sorry

We love saying “sorry” especially in the UK!

Sorry or I’m sorry is frequently used when we need to apologise for something small, for example, if you’re late or you’ve made a small mistake:

  • Sorry I’m late. The traffic was terrible.
  • I’m sorry, I didn’t realise that you were in the queue.

“I beg your pardon” is a formal expression which you might hear someone use.

  • I beg your pardon, I didn’t see you standing there.

You would use Pardon? or  Sorry? if you haven’t heard or understood what someone has said and you want them to repeat it. 

  • Pardon? I didn’t quite hear that. Could you repeat the number please?
  • Sorry? Did you say 30 or 13?

Sorry is more used than pardon. A student once told me that their teacher had told him ‘pardon’ was an old-fashioned word and not used. Whilst it may not be as common as ‘sorry’, ‘pardon’ is still used and you wouldn’t come across as a strange person!

One expression that is most definitely not polite  is “What?”. If you use it when you haven’t heard or understood something, you may get some disapproving looks from the other person.




3. I’m afraid

If you have to give someone some bad news and want to apologise for this, you would use “I’m afraid”.

There’s a joke that the British like to apologise for everything, so “I’m afraid” is almost a default phrase at the tip of their tongues!

  • I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend the meeting next week.
  • I’m afraid we’ve run out of seats.
  • Do you have change for £5?  I’m afraid not.
  • I’m afraid there’s been a misunderstanding.


4. Please

If you ask for something (ask a favour) or want somebody to do something for you, using “please” is a must in English.

  • Could you give me a hand, please?
  • Could you please call the suppliers tomorrow?
  • Could I have tomorrow off, please?
  • Quiet, please!


5. Thank you

It is normal to say “thank you” or “thanks” when somebody gives you something or you receive information. Also, when you buy something and the person hands you your goods, a “thank you” is expected. Some people may be offended if you don’t thank them.

‘Thanks’ is informal.

Some people may respond to your thanks with “You’re welcome”, “Welcome”, “Don’t mention it”, “That’s all right” or “No problem”

When you accept something, you would say “thank you” or “Yes, please”

  • Would you like a cup tea? Thank you/ Thanks/ Yes, please.
  • Would you like a receipt? Thank you/ Thanks/ Yes, please.

Similarly, when you refuse something, you would say “No, thank you” or “No, thanks”.

  • Would you like some more coffee? No, thank you/ No, thanks.


Now that you’ve mastered these 5 expressions, go out there and mingle with English Language speakers!! Have fun.


If you liked this post and found it useful, please share it. And if you’d like to receive more posts like these, please subscribe to my blog.

Ciao for now


Saying Farewell To A Loved One – Some Key Vocabulary

Sri Lanka Orchid Photo: Pixabay

Nine months ago (almost to the day) I wrote this post about visiting a loved one in hospital. It was about my uncle (my father’s youngest brother). I described my visit to see him and shared some hospital vocabulary with you.

Nine months on it is with extreme sadness that I share with you the news that my uncle died or passed away last Wednesday. He suffered a massive stroke from which he never recovered. Even if he had recovered he would have been left blind and brain-damaged with practically no quality of life. So, in the circumstances, his death was a blessing.

Blessing or not, it is still a huge shock for my family and me. My uncle was only 61 and despite suffering poor health for a number of years, his death was totally unexpected. He suffered a fall coming down the stairs in his flat last Saturday and must have hit his head very hard because he lost consciousness immediately and never woke up. He was airlifted by air ambulance and taken to the trauma unit of one of the leading hospitals in the UK.

My uncle’s partner called me that Saturday evening and I went to the hospital the following day and stayed all day with my uncle. He was hooked up to all sorts of machines and a ventilator was helping him breathe. He was in a ward with three other patients who had all suffered severe brain injuries. It was so difficult to see all these patients. It just made me realise how much our brain does and what can happen when it malfunctions.

The nurses tending to the patients were fantastic. The care my uncle received was faultless. They were extremely caring, compassionate and sympathetic. They kept us informed of how he was doing on a regular basis. Each patient had his own nurse and he or she was with their assigned patient at all times. When it comes to emergencies and serious conditions, I have always said that the health care we receive through the National Health Service in the UK is unparalleled.

My uncle’s partner and I sat by my uncle’s bedside for three days. I had a full immersion student with me so as soon as I finished lessons in the morning, I would catch the train and head to the hospital in East London. The doctors told us that apart from the serious head injury my uncle had sustained, he had also suffered a huge stroke to the back of the brain. This stroke together with my uncle’s poor health made a recovery extremely unlikely. We decided that the ventilator would be removed on Wednesday afternoon and we would then see how he responded. We left on Tuesday evening with this plan.

At 6am the following morning, I received a call from my uncle’s partner telling me that my uncle’s blood pressure had plummeted and that it was going to be a matter of an hour or so before he would pass away. I got hurriedly dressed and rushed to catch the train. By the time I arrived at the hospital and reached  my uncle’s bed he had already passed away. He had died 20 minutes before. My uncle’s partner arrived 5 minutes too late,too. We hugged each other and cried. We held my uncle’s hands and stroked his face and arms. I had never seen a person who had just died, but it didn’t make me feel strange at all.

I spent that day with my uncle’s partner. We went back to their flat and together we tidied the place up, changed the flowers and made all the necessary phone calls to family and friends. My father arrived the following evening (from Malaysia) and on Friday we went to see my uncle in the mortuary. He was freezing but he looked the most peaceful I had ever seen him. I held my father’s hand as he sobbed at seeing his youngest sibling. I have never seen my father cry and witnessing this private and emotional moment will stay with me forever. I, too, shed many tears and my father and I hugged as we tried to comfort each other.

Out of all my uncles and aunts, this uncle was the only relative with whom I had a meaningful relationship throughout my adult life. He was a huge support when I first arrived in the UK to attend university. He helped me decorate my room in the halls of residence. He came with me to buy all the things I needed. I would often visit him and his partner in London at the weekends where I would be throughly spoilt with fabulous food. He was an excellent cook.

He single-handedly organised my entire wedding (the first one!) He was there when my marriage collapsed. I decided to move nearer to him after my divorce as he was the only blood relative I had living in London. He was a huge part of my life. He did try to meddle in it and there were many times when I wanted him to leave me alone. We did fall out at various times over the years, but there were plenty of reconciliations.
Meddling or not, I know that he loved me and all his nieces and nephews. He took a genuine interest in all of us and was like a second parent to us.

I spoke to him a few days before his fall and promised I would visit him with our dog, Buster whom he loved. I was planning to visit him this week. I am glad that I was with him in the last few days of his life. I am not sure if he was aware that we were with him until the end. I hope so.

Farewell, Uncle Bala. I am going to miss you. I hope you’ve found peace wherever you are and that you’re having a great time with your parents and sisters.

Your loving niece, Shanthi.

How To Talk About Business Travel: Let’s Explore Some Vocabulary

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The other day my client told me that he had to be in London on business and consequently wouldn’t be available for our next scheduled online lesson. The conversation naturally led to the topic of business travel and, particularly, the pros and cons of travelling by air or by rail.

Travelling by Rail
My client, who is based in Milan, often has to travel around Italy and more often than not takes the train to get to the main cities. If his meetings are in the city centres, he says travelling by train is the best option. Most train stations are located in the centre of cities and therefore, getting to clients’ offices is a lot easier than from an airport which tends to be outside a city. Nowadays, with high-speed trains you can get to your destination in no time at all.

A further advantage of the train is that you don’t have to arrive 2 hours before departure. I realise that with domestic flights the waiting time is less, but it is still longer than a train. If you’re travelling by train, you only have to arrive 30 minutes before departure, hop onto the train and you’re off!

Whether you are travelling First Class or Standard Class, you can select a carriage that has the facilities for you to work – Wi-Fi connection and power access to charge your laptop, tablet and phone. Train travel allows business travellers to work comfortably during their journey. The only snag, though, is that, unless you’ve booked a quiet carriage, you could end up sharing your carriage with some very noisy mobile phone users

Travelling by Air
Depending on your destination, you may have no alternative but to travel by air. For those of us who are lucky to travel in Business or Club class, there is nothing quite like the luxury of using the First Class Lounge at the airport after check-in. The comfortable seats, free drinks and food and relaxing environment set you up for the flight ahead.

My client and I joked about how great it feels to board the plane and turn left (Business Class) instead of right! The wide seats with spacious legroom are very comfortable. Soon after you’re seated the air hostess serves you a drink (often alcoholic, unless it’s an early morning flight). The food is served in proper crockery and not plastic trays. On long-haul flights, you are given a goodies bag with all sorts of things like a toothbrush, toothpaste, flight socks, an eye pad, and good quality earphones (for the films).

My client and I both agree that Club Class is essential when travelling long haul. On short haul flights, however, Economy class is bearable! You might not have the legroom, but on some flights you can ask for the emergency exit seats or pay extra for more legroom. A lot of the budget airlines like Easyjet give you the option to do just that. My husband is tall and I always have to book the emergency exit seats. Of course, the budget airlines don’t have Club Class so everyone is together. In these difficult economic times, most companies will not approve business class travel for their employees, especially for short haul flights.


Travelling by air requires you the passenger to arrive around 2 hours before departure for check in. Most airlines ask you to check in online before arriving at the airport. That way you already have your boarding pass. Unless you have hold luggage, you can go directly to security with your carry-on (cabin) luggage without queuing at the check-in desks. Airport security can be rather tiresome but it has become a part of flying and something that has to be tolerated.

If you are flying short haul and have arranged meetings for the day of travel, you may choose to catch an early morning flight. My client was catching the 7am flight today to London. That would have allowed him to attend his first meeting scheduled at 9am. With London being one hour behind, he would have arrived in London at 7.30am (UK) – 8.30am Italy.

When I give training workshops, I prefer to arrive at my destination the night before. So, I will take an early evening flight and stay overnight. That way I have time to prepare the venue and the equipment for the workshop the following day.

For the long haul flights some travellers prefer to travel through the night and arrive at their destination in time for their meeting. These are known as red eye flights. I am not sure I’d like that because unless you have a great night’s sleep during the flight, you wouldn’t be in a position to perform efficiently. You may also have jet lag to deal with depending on how many timezones you’ve travelled.

Business travel may sound glamorous with all that Club Class service and benefits, but it can also be exhausting. What do you think?

Do you travel for business? Is it by train or air? Or do you drive? I used to do a lot of business miles on the road. While it allowed me to listen to the radio, it was exhausting and often very time-inefficient. I am very glad that part of my life is past me.

What do you like or dislike most about business travel? I’d love you to share your business travel experiences with me.

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Ciao for now


Shall I Compare Thee To A Summer’s Day? Let’s Explore Some Summer Vocabulary

"Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by Martin Eayrs, used under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial license, http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/"
“Photo taken from http://flickr.com/eltpics by Martin Eayrs, used under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license.

The blog title comes from a line from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18. In the sonnet, the speaker compares his beloved to the season of summer and says that she is better.

The beloved is both “more lovely and more temperate” than a summer’s day. The speaker lists some negative things about summer: it is short—“summer’s lease hath all too short a date”—and sometimes the sun is too hot—“Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines.” However, the beloved has beauty that will last forever, unlike the fleeting beauty of a summer’s day. By putting his love’s beauty into the form of poetry, the poet is preserving it forever. “So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” The lover’s beauty will live on, through the poem which will last as long as it can be read. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Incidentally, if you want to hear a musical version of Shakespeare’s sonnet, listen to this beautiful rendition by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour. Thanks to my fellow teacher, Helen Waldron for sharing the link with me. Click here for the words.


Summer has finally arrived in the UK. When I say summer, I mean, sun, blue skies and heat. For those of you who live in countries that enjoy proper summers, you will not understand what all the fuss is about. However, for us living in the UK, a prolonged spell of hot weather is to be celebrated and written about. When I say ‘a prolonged spell’, I mean up to a week, not more than that! That’s why we have to grab whatever sun rays we can get before the clouds, rain and cooler temperatures take over.

So what happens in the UK when the sun shines? Well, for starters, waking up to blue skies immediately puts a smile on your face. You feel energised, there is a spring in your step and you can’t wait to get out there and bask in the sunshine. You can finally wear that floaty, summery dress or skirt that you bought over a year ago and have never worn until now. The sandals come out and with a bit of luck, you’ve had a pedicure and your toenails are painted in bright summer colours.

You make plans to meet up with some friends for a light lunch or picnic in the park or lunch outdoors (or alfresco as we say in English) in a restaurant or cafe. If you’re working, you will take advantage of your lunch break to sit in a park and soak up the sun. Many people will sit in the sun regardless of what they are wearing (for example, their office suits) and if they have suncream or sunblock on or not. Very few people will look for some shade under a tree, for example, which often means that they will end up looking as red as a lobster by the end of the day. I don’t like to sit in the sun for long periods of time so you will always find me under a tree or in a shaded area.

If I am in a park on a warm, sunny day, I like nothing more than to remove my shoes and feel the cool grass under my feet and toes. There is something luxurious about that feeling. I will find a big tree with plenty of shade, sit against its trunk with a good book or simply watch the world around me go by.There is nothing better than people watching, is there?

We are in the UK so the art of drinking is never far. Summer drinking has its own attractions. Most people will drink beer, cider or a white wine spritzer. I love the European habit of drinking aperol spritzers in the summer. Unfortunately, we don’t have this drink in the UK.

Summer days equal barbecues. The smell or aroma of barbecue food is never too far and wafts into our garden from all directions on a hot summer evening. If we’re lucky we get invited to a barbecue by one of our lovely, friendly neighbours!


Hot, summer days also mean our gardens need to be watered more regularly. The British are proud of their gardens and you will often see water sprinklers on their front lawns watering the grass and flower beds in the early morning or late evening. The other plants are watered with a water hose.

Summer sun and warmth puts everyone in a good mood. The feeling of the sun on your skin is simply wonderful. That much-needed Vitamin D and heat make you feel that anything is possible. May it last as long as possible. I’m off to sit in my garden and sunbathe for a while.

Is it summer where you are or are you in the Southern Hemisphere where it’s winter? Do you have the change of seasons where you live? What does summer mean to you?

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Ciao for now


4 More Tips On How To Learn English Everywhere and Anywhere

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I shared this poster prepared by American English at State on my Facebook Page the other day. The words expressed by Sarah Caldwell apply to everything we do in life, but I’d like to apply them here to learning the English Language.

My husband and I have just returned from a 6-day trip to Budapest. During our trip, we went on a guided walking tour around the Jewish quarter of the city. The tour was in English as, alas we don’t speak Hungarian. Our guide, Petra was a delightful Hungarian who made our tour particularly memorable. She was extremely knowledgeable and we came away far more informed about Jewish traditions and the history of Jewry in Hungary over the centuries than when we started.

Despite lacking 100% accuracy, Petra managed to convey her ideas and information with enthusiasm and she was a joy to listen to.
We all congratulated her on her English and when asked where she’d learned the language, her response was astonishing. She learned English through watching TV programmes like Dr Who, Sherlock and Game of Thrones!

And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. Petra enjoys watching TV programmes in English and decided to use that medium to learn English. By doing something she enjoys, she motivated herself to study.

And that is what learning a language should be all aboutFUN.

My Tips
I wrote a post about two years ago where I shared 5 Tips On How To Immerse Yourself in English Every Day. In that post I emphasised the need to make your learning fun, practical and convenient.

Other Teachers’ Tips
A similar discussion is going on in a Facebook Group to which I belong called English Students. A number of teachers have offered ways on how learners can study effectively. Here are some of their tips:

1. Get comfy
“My advice for studying is to make a fun thing to do. Get comfy, relax, get all your things organized around you and then go to it. If you make studying a happy experience, it will go faster, easier and you will learn and retain more.” Rob Howard

2. Set the time aside in your diary
“Setting aside a certain time each day or week for online learning is essential”. Stephen Greene

3. Give yourself a daily dose of English
“Make studying a part of your daily habit. Read blogs, watch TV/Movies and listen to podcasts. (Pick topics of your interest or that are important to you) Take advantage of the Internet! Using social media is a fun way to practice your English. You can practice the English words that you’ve learned by commenting on posts.” English Teacher Anne

4. Watch movies or TV programmes in English
“Watch movies in English, with or without subtitles. If you’ve already seen it and know the story well, try to watch without subtitles. And try to get different pronunciations: American, British, Australian, ghetto, slangs, whatever. Train your ears!” Renata Costa Silva


A Fellow Learner’s Tips
And here is a post by a client of mine, Alessandra, who shared her 3 Tips To Practise and Improve Your English. 

I hope this post has given you some useful tips that will help you on your journey. Please share any others that have worked for you. My readers and I would love to hear from you.

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Ciao for now


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