Business Idioms are Fun and Useful

English is well-known for being a very idiomatic language with lots of old expressions and new ones being born all the time.

Let’s take two quick examples and at the bottom we’ll provide links to some good sites.

Cash cow: A cash cow is a product which has a low investment cost for the company but easily brings in a lot of money. Sometimes people say slot machines at casinos are a type of cash cow.

Go back to square one: This is an expression which means to start over from the beginning. Example: After weeks of negotiations everything fell apart and we couldn’t come to an agreement. We’ll just have to go back to square one.

There are many business idiom sites out there. All of these looked good to us:

http://www.idiomconnection.com/business.html (has free quizzes too)

http://www.businessenglishresources.com/31-2/student-section/business-vocabulary/most-common-business-idioms/

http://www.learn-english-today.com/idioms/idiom-categories/business-work/bus-work1-ace-bricks.html

When do you get a second wind? More idioms from sports

Last week we discussed how many English idioms come from sports (. This week’s idiom — “getting a second wind” — is originally from sailing but many people today use it in connection to running.

A “second wind” was an extra wind for a sailboat that helped to win a sailing race. However, today, most people associate this idiom with RUNNING. This is because, after getting tired in the middle of a race, many racers see (or think about) the finish line and it BOOSTS their MOTIVATION and energy. Even though they have been running for a long distance and are tired, they suddenly find the energy to run as fast as they can to the finish line.

But we can also use this idiom today for any activity or situation in which you became tired but then found the strength to push on and finish up STRONG.

Example: I worked a huge 55-hour work week and by Friday night when I got home I was EXHAUSTED. But after eating a good dinner, I got a second wind and was able to clean up my entire house.”

AMERICAN IDIOMS THAT CAME FROM SPORTS

America is a very big country with a large, diverse population. That means we have all kinds of sports. As you probably know, there are many expressions used in sports. Sometimes, these expressions start to be used in everyday life.

For example, “down for the count” comes from the sport of boxing. When a boxer is knocked down, he has ten seconds to stand up again. When he is down, he is “down for the count.”

Today, we may say someone or a company is “down for the count” because of a setback or a small failure. But that doesn’t mean they are “out” yet. A fighter who is knocked down may still stand up and win the fight. Likewise, a businessman or company can lose some money or some deals but over a long time still be very successful.

Are you interested in a full list of sports idioms you can use outside of sports?

Wikipedia has a full entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sports_idioms

Or just search around online!

What does it mean to be “mad as a March hare?”

We are already into the month of March! Before you know it, the weather will be sunny and beautiful again here in Duluth, just outside the city of Atlanta, Georgia.

Next week, we also start a new session of English classes. Good things are happening!

There is an expression in English — it is not necessarily very common — but it is funny, which goes: mad as a March hare. This expression may be 500 years old or even older. In this case, mad doesn’t mean “angry.” It means, silly, crazy, wild, ridiculous. 

Now, what is a March hare? A hare is a wild animal very similar in appearance to a rabbit.

This is a hare:

In March, the weather is warming up and hares become more active socially, physically, etc.. In England, the frantic behavior of hares in the early spring led to the expression “mad as a March hare,” and we can apply this expression to a person to indicate that they are acting extremely silly, ridiculous, or insane. Someone who is mad as a March hare might look like this:

Of course, in the U.S., use of phrases and idioms is extremely common in everyday speech. So, if you have a friend who is being strange or absurd, it’s okay to ask them: “You are mad as a March hare, aren’t you?

WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED ABOUT CULTURAL DIFFERENCES WHEN WE WRITE A BUSINESS E-MAIL?

maildude

This video makes some excellent observations about differences in emails between members of different cultures. For example, business emails written by Americans might be quite a bit longer than emails from Germans or Swiss business-people. Becoming fluent in a language is not just about knowing the vocabulary and grammar, but major cultural features as well based on where the language is spoken. At CCB School in Atlanta (Duluth), Georgia, we focus on language AND culture.

WATCH HERE: http://www.videojug.com/interview/cultural-differences-in-business-e-mail-2

What is a “Snow Day?” What is “snowed in?”

snow angelToday we’ll present to you two idiomatic phrases. They both deal with snow. In southern United States (which don’t get so cold like northern states, e.g., New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts,etc.) there is still often some snow in the winter. Because the southern states don’t get a lot of snow, however, they might not spend the money on equipment to clear snow from the roads. In short, when there’s snow in the south – especially Georgia where CCB School is located – snow usually means A SNOW DAY!! And that means, NO SCHOOL!!

So far, there had not been a snow day in the Atlanta area this year, but many schools were closed today (actually, that was because of the holiday President’s Day) and more may be closed tomorrow. Many young people are anxiously watching to see if they can have some extra time away from school to play in the snow!

To be “snowed in” means that there is so much snow that people can’t leave their house. Or at the least, they cannot make it to work or really go anywhere. It is still an opportunity to play outside, throw snowballs at each other, build a snowman, and more.

Maybe even some of our students want a snow day! (No way! They are very serious about becoming experts in English and always love to come to school!) But if you are curious whether or not we have class, we always follow Gwinnett County’s decision. This information can always be found here:  http://www.wsbtv.com/school-closings/search/

Whatever happens, have a great day!

5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST “SCRATCH PAPER”

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. This should happen every time you take the test!!

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up. Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for the average test-taker. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books and practice resources — to take notes.

Write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have to prepare your independent speaking responses.

Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

While you use this scratch paper, remember these 5 important points:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $ symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!