Level: intermediate to advanced
Primary goal: build vocab
Secondary goals: reading, listening, prosody (word stress, timing, intonation)
Time: Adaptable (max of 2 hours in-class, 3-6 hours of homework)
How it works
Each resource has three lessons and three homework assignments.
Before the first class, the student takes a vocabulary quiz based on a resource. This is nothing too complicated–just a Google document where they mark how well they know each word.
Then, in the first lesson, I ask them questions to prep the vocabulary in the video. I use their answers in the vocabulary quiz to choose which vocabulary to focus on.
AFTER taking the pre-vocab quiz and prepping the vocab, I tell them which video to watch (or article to read). They watch/read for homework. I also send them main idea, detail, logic, and inference questions. If it’s a video, they also get prosody (word stress, timing, intonation) questions. They should prepare answers.
In the second lesson, we review the questions. I also help them with anything they had troubles with. We might review some grammar or speaking skills.
Next, we usually take a week or two off. (The lessons continue, but we do a different topic.)
After the break, we return to the article/video. I’ll give them one more assignment and we review it in the third lesson.
Note on Google Docs: I made the folder public on the web. You can copy/paste it to edit it to suit your needs. I think that’s easier, but let me know if you’d like a PDF version:)
(1) To distort: To make something appear different than it is
He distorted the benefits to make them seem better than they really are.
(2) To work out: To have a good result
Unfortunately, the campaign didn’t work out and we had to start again.
(3) To reproduce: To copy, create the same thing again
I love the product, but it just costs too much to reproduce. We need to lower our costs to be successful.
1. For success, what’s more important than passion?
a. A creative idea
b. Good goals
c. A good business plan
2. Why is a system more important than a goal?
a. Goals have no value
b. Systems create good results
c. It’s difficult to succeed at reaching goals
3. For luck, what does it mean to keep your hand raised until its your turn?
a. You need to just wait for luck to come to you
b. Luck doesn’t always happen, so just work hard
c. Keep going and after time you’ll get lucky
What does it take to be successful? Often people will say “follow your passion” and “set good goals.” But according Scott Adams–the creator of the popular comic Dilbert–those things are exactly true.
In today’s lesson, you’ll learn about Scott Adam’s ideas on how to be successful. You’ll prepare yourself to read a longer article on the topic. You’ll also learn some important vocabulary. He has three ideas in the article. Here they are:
First Idea: Passion isn’t so important He writes that “it’s easy to be passionate about things that are working out, and that distorts our impression of the importance of passion.”
What he means is that when things work well, we get excited. But if things don’t work, then we aren’t excited. So, it seems like passion creates the success, but actually “Success caused passion more than passion caused success.”
He gives the example of a loan officer. He says his old boss told him to give loans to people with good spreadsheets and a desire to work hard.
Second Idea: Have a system instead of a goal
In the video, he says “Goals are OK, but what you need more than goals is a system, a process.” This means you should think about how to be successful more than what success really means for you. Don’t say, “I’m going to make a million dollars.” Instead, say “I’m going to write a new program every month for one year.” You should then hope that one of those programs will make you a million dollars.
The example he gives is losing weight. You don’t want to say “I’m going to lose 10kg.” Instead, you should say “I’m going to eat better and exercise more.”
It’s more important to have a system because then you’ll be doing the things that lead to success. Anyway, you can’t achieve your goals without a way to get to them.
Third Idea: Keep going and you’ll get lucky.
Scott feels that luck is very important for success. However, we don’t get lucky all the time. Instead, we should have a system that makes it more likely that we’ll get lucky. He writes, “The universe has plenty of luck to go around; you just need to keep your hand raised until it’s your turn.”
In his case, he continued trying to create something of value that would be easy to reproduce. After many failures, he “got lucky” with his comic strip Dilbert.
And, by the way, if you have trouble understanding, send me a message. We teach lots of students Business English and I’m sure we could help you too!
(1) Apology, To apologize, Apologies: When you say that you’re sorry
He apologized for being late, but I couldn’t accept his apology. This happens too often. I’m tired of his apologies.
(2) To mess up: To make a mistake
I really messed up this time. I hope she doesn’t fire me.
(3) Blame: Responsibility for something bad
I blame our old technology. It makes everything go so slowly.
1. What can you write in order to accept blame?
a. That was my fault.
b. It’s unfortunate that happened.
c. I heard they messed up your order.
2. What can you write to blame an unknown person?
a. It was wrong that I…
b. I understand that…
c. You’ll accept my apologies for…
3. What is the best length for an apology email?
By Jeremy Schaar
Everyone makes mistakes. We feel terrible and we need to apologize. But how?
In this post, you’ll learn a few different ways to say that you’re sorry.
Review the situation and apologize
The first step in an apology email is to describe the bad thing that happened and say that you’re sorry. You should describe the situation simply and directly. Don’t write a lot. The other person probably already knows what happened. Still, you have to say something. Here are some examples:
I just learned that you didn’t receive your order. That was my fault. I’m really sorry.
I wanted to apologize for not telling you about the change.
I understand that you didn’t receive the order. Please accept my apologies.
It was unfortunate that you had such a bad experience at the show. I’m sorry that had to happen.
Note that in the first two examples, you did something wrong, so you accept responsibility. To focus the blame on yourself, say I. If it’s unclear who was wrong, you can say that was my fault. That means you accept the blame.
In the third and fourth examples, it seems like someone else was wrong. Sometimes you need to say sorry even though you didn’t make the mistake. I understand that and It was unfortunate that are good ways to do this. You don’t want to name the person who made the mistake. This lets you describe the bad thing without blaming anyone at all.
Please accept my apologies and I’m sorry that had to happen are good phrases in either situation. They’re formal and polite. They can be used in most situations.
Not every company or every person likes such formal language as above. For example, if you’ve been working with someone for a while and you’re friendly, the language above would seem strange. How can you apologize to a friend? Here are some examples.
I messed up with that. Sorry.
I really screwed that up.
Just needed to say sorry for that meeting yesterday.
In all three situations, you’re using casual language. Messed up and screwed up are both very casual. In the third example, just needed to is an informal way to start a sentence.
After saying that you’re sorry, you should suggest a solution if it’s possible. Then change the topic and end with something happier. Try to focus on the future and what’s going to happen next.
Don’t write a long email.
After you say you’re sorry and change the topic, end the email. It’s usually good advice to write short emails, but it’s especially important with apologies. Nothing good happens when you write details about how sorry you are or a long explanation about what went wrong. It doesn’t make the person feel better. If they need a long explanation, you might have to write more, but it will be better to meet with them than to write about it.
(1) Backlog: Too much of something
We have a backlog of steel frames. It’s a waste of space and money. What happened?
(2) To control: To make sure something is at the right level
Inventory levels are carefully controlled. If they get too high, we lose money. If they get too low, we can be short of what we need.
(3) Planning horizon: A horizon is the farthest you can see. It comes from the earth. The horizon is the place where you can’t see further, the place where the sun sets.
Our planning horizon is four quarters. Beyond that, it’s more strategic plans than a careful process.
1. What does it mean to create a production plan in the context of sales?
a. Sales and production influence each other
b. Sales influences the production plan
c. The production plan influences sales
2. What is an especially nice benefit of S&OP?
a. Everyone sees how their decisions influence the company’s other departments
b. Everyone sees how planning influences finance
c. Everyone sees how they can contribute to financial decisions
3. What’s the tone of “we need to involve marketing in this”?
By Jeremy Schaar
Today on the blog you’ll learn about S&OP. You’ll also learn about some great links for further study. Finally, you’ll learn some real life expressions that you can use on the job.
S&OP means Sales and Operation Planning. What does it mean? Basically, a company decides how much they want to sell and how much they need to produce. S&OP is a process companies use to decide their manufacturing output and other activities in the context of the sales plan. Manufacturing output can also be called production plan. It decides production rates, controls inventories, and deals with backlogs. And everything should be done without too much hiring or firing. The planning horizon for the process is how far into the future the plan goes. To create a plan, companies use information from many departments: marketing, manufacturing, finance, etc.
Note two things. First, Enchange divides the processes between demand and supply. Second, everything influences everything else. This is key. S&OP is wonderful because it forces everyone in the company to consider all the parts. They’ll see how their decisions affect different parts of the company. For example, demand for a product influences finance decisions, but so does the actual production. It’s a big circle with everything influencing everything else.
For a successful S&OP, check out John Westerveld’s blog post at Kinaxis. He writes about six key elements.
1. Executive Commitment and involvement
2. S&OP is used to run the business
3. Accurate S&OP data
4. Solutions – not just problems
5. Scenario driven
6. Run effective meetings and keep meticulous minutes
On The Job
“ I am responsible for preparing our divisional S&OP plans.”
Use this sentence to describe your job. It’s a good one to use at a conference where you’re meeting new people.
“Our major suppliers and customers need to be a big part of the S&OP process.”
Here I wrote “major suppliers and customers”, but it could be anyone you think needs to be part of the process. This is a strong, clear sentence. It’s not polite, but it is very direct and people will listen if you speak like this.
(1) Pillar: Something that supports, an important and basic part
The pillars of the economy are manufacturing, retail, and finance.
(2) Liquid Asset: Cash and other assets that can quickly become cash
Liquid assets are very important in acquisitions because they can be used to buy stock.
(3) On behalf of someone: For someone
All of our actions need to be on behalf of the customer. They can’t be for someone else.
1. Jeff Bezos says “your margin is my opportunity.” Let’s say you’re selling something for $5 and it costs you $3 to make it. What will Amazon’s price be?
2. How does Amazon innovate?
a. By thinking about low prices
b. By thinking about the customer
c. By thinking about margin
3. What does it mean for something to be an article of faith?
a. You just believe it. You don’t worry about evidence
b. You worry about it before anything else
c. You believe it and try to make others follow you
By Jeremy Schaar
In today’s lesson you’ll learn about Amazon’s strategy. You’ll study a few quotes from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. You’ll learn some vocabulary and some strategy theory.
A Quick Overview of Amazon’s Strategy
Amazon is the world’s most important online retailer. In ten years, they might just replace WalMart as the world’s biggest retailer. Their strategy has two pillars. First is to keep prices low. Second is to always focus on helping the customer. They constantly invest in new facilities and technology. They don’t worry at all about having cash on hand. Many people focus on Amazon’s net income which is always close to zero, but cash is just one asset. Non-liquid assets are growing at a remarkable rate.
Here are some great quotes from Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos:
Commitment to Low Prices
“There are two kinds of companies: Those that work to try to charge more and those that work to charge less. We will be the second.”
“Your margin is my opportunity.”
“We’ve done price elasticity studies, and the answer is always that we should raise prices. We don’t do that, because we believe — and we have to take this as an article of faith — that by keeping our prices very, very low, we earn trust with customers over time, and that that actually does maximize free cash flow over the long term.”
Staying Customer Focused
“We innovate by starting with the customer and working backwards. That becomes the touchstone for how we invent.”
“If you’re long-term oriented, customer interests and shareholder interests are aligned.”
“When [competitors are] in the shower in the morning, they’re thinking about how they’re going to get ahead of one of their top competitors. Here in the shower, we’re thinking about how we are going to invent something on behalf of a customer.”