Tag Archives: English

Stressed Out?

By moving our sentence stress, we can change the emphasis of a sentence. I heard this great example from a friend:

“I never said she stole my money” can have seven different meanings according to the stressed word.

1. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it; someone else did.

2. I never said she stole my money – I didn’t say it, not even once.

3. I never said she stole my money – I never said it, but perhaps I wrote it or thought it.

4. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; somebody else did.

5. I never said she stole my money – She didn’t steal it; it was a gift.

6. I never said she stole my money – She stole someone else’s money.

7. I never said she stole my money – She stole something else.

Six-Pack of Financial Words

Just a few words for work conversations today.

  • bankruptcy – noun – a time when a company runs out of money and can no longer pay their debts.
  • liquidation – noun – a time after bankruptcy when the company’s stuff is sold to get money to pay their debts.
  • liquid asset – noun – an asset is something that a business or person owns. A liquid asset is one that is easily sold or exchanged, like cash, gold, or certain investments.
  • fixed asset – noun – A fixed asset is not as easily sold or exchanged as a liquid asset. This group might include real estate, machinery, inventory, or contracts.
  • expenditure – noun – the money that a business needs to spend in order to do business. This might include buying supplies, paying salaries and rent, repairing machines, or advertising products.
  • revenue – noun – the money that comes into a business from doing its business activities, before expenses are paid

Vocab Grab Bag

I heard it through the grapevine. This is an idiom that means ” I learned the information because I was gossiping.”

Coat and Quote are similar, but not the same. “Quote” starts with a /kw/ sound, but “coat” starts with only /k/.

“Software” and “hardware” are noncount. If you want to use count expressions, say “pieces of software,” “apps,” or “programs.” For “hardware,” say “computers,” “devices,” or “tablets/phones/laptops.”

Memorable Moments

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about former students, why I teach, and my classes. It brought to mind so many situations, people, and feelings, but two former students really stand out.

The first is a participant in our internship program. He had come from a successful business background – completed an MBA, started and sold companies before coming to Canada – and was looking to start an international career. He had a 45 minute interview with 7 directors at a sports team, and he said it was the hardest thing he had done for school. He was accepted, and had a fantastic time with the team. I like this story because it shows accepting challenges and striving to improve oneself. My student could have stayed at home and started another company, but he chose to take on the challenge of working in English. And not at a restaurant from his country, either! Being part of his success makes me proud to teach.

My second memorable student came from a successful job as a professor, teaching surgical techniques, in a large country. He realized that his lifestyle was not one that his children could achieve, because the population was increasing rapidly and jobs would become scarce, so he moved his family to Canada. To support his family, he worked as a taxi driver. His English, he said, wasn’t strong enough to enter the medical field, and he didn’t have time to improve it. When I met him, this was 10 years in the past. His children were in high school and his wife was able to work. His wife and children were fluent, but his English was still very basic. Twelve hours a day driving a taxi doesn’t leave much time for English classes. He told me “My children don’t speak my language, and I don’t speak theirs. We can’t speak as anything more than a taxi driver and a customer, but I want them to know more of me. They will never know the poems I can write in my language, but I can meet them in theirs.” His sacrifices for his family, and then his desire to change his life again,  really made him stand out to me. My satisfaction from seeing him pass his IELTS test is a reason I do this job.

I’m sure my colleagues have similar stories. What memorable students do you have?

Notes from Oil and Gas

Just a few notes on pronunciation and definitions today. “Platform” has two syllables: plat + form. Some say it with three: plat + a + form, but this is not correct.

“Equipment” has three syllables: e + quip + ment. Some say it with four: e + quip + a + ment, but this is also not correct. Be careful, because equipment is not a count noun.

“Seismic” has two syllables. It sounds like size + mick.

“Flesh out” is a separable phrasal verb. It means “to give detail or make something complete.”
“John, I like your proposal, but it is missing some information about the process. Can you flesh it out so I can understand the details better, please?”

“Legislation” is a formal word meaning “laws.” It’s a noncount noun.

“Pave the way” is an idiom that means “prepare for something else.” “Jane, your research really paved the way for my new discovery. It really helped me think about my work from a different point of view!”

Success Stories

Today was a very good day. Two of my students told me about some exciting changes in their lives, both of which came about partly because of my class.

Congratulations to Henrique, who was just offered a new job with a prestigious organization! 

Congratulations to Tereza, who received a promotion to management at her job here in Vancouver! 

I’m really proud of both of you. Your hard work has led to some great new opportunities. Keep it up!