Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English



Thanks for stopping by… but, actually, I moved back in 2011. For the updated sites, please visit: (has all the posts you see on this site and more)

or just (I sell English/writing courses and editing services. There’s also a blog on Business English stuff.)

February 3, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Yes, it’s summertime and many students and teachers are on vacation. August is the time to relax. No stress. No problems. But you and your students don’t want your English to disappear. Here are six relaxing ways to study English in the summer.

Watch TV TV is a great way to learn English. Find a show you like in English and watch all the episodes. Normally, you should turn off the subtitles, but this is a relaxing way to learn, so keep the subtitles on and watch all the episodes of your favorite show.

Watch Movies And movies too. Good movies, bad movies, any movies. Use the extra time you have in the summer to watch all the movies you want to watch during the school year.

Go to a bar (or a coffee shop) Making friends who speak English is always the best way to learn and practice. It’s hard, but go to the bar (or coffee shop) in your area where the foreigners hang out. You don’t even need to say hello, you can just relax and listen. Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and meet a new friend.

Make some food But do it in English. Search the internet for recipes of a food you want to try. Get the ingredients and make yourself a great summer meal.

Read an easy book OK. So reading a book isn’t very relaxing if it’s hard, but it doesn’t need to be hard. Go to the bookstore and choose a really easy English book. Children’s books can be fun and interesting. Young adult novels are cool too. Don’t worry about challenging yourself. Just pick a fun one.

Sing a song Do you like to sing? Sing at home. Sing at karaoke. Sing while you walk. All in English, of course.

And above all, have a great summer!

August 13, 2011 Posted by | Studying Strategies | , , , , | Leave a comment

Corporate Titles and Organization Charts

Corporate Titles and Organization Charts

Many Business English students ask about titles. For example: What’s the difference between a Senior Manager and a Vice-President? Where do General Mangers do exactly? How do companies use titles differently? Trying to translate titles between English and another language can be quite tricky.

But a lesson on the topic can easily solve the problems. Here are several resources you can use and then some follow-up questions.

For starters… Wikipedia’s article on corporate titles is a good place to start. You’ll find a list of over 70 titles and descriptions of what the people do.

Check out some org charts… You can find links to thousands of org charts on the internet. Just do a search for “org charts” or “organization charts”. Here are a few links, anyway. Look at them with your students and discuss how they are similar or different to each other. Also, which titles do you see?

Here’s one.

And another.

And one more.

How about a joke? Follow this link for a funny cartoon. Ask your students why it’s funny?

And an article to read… Finally, has a nice article about org charts. It briefly talks about charts, titles, and the purposes behind them. You can use it as a starting point for a discussion.

Here are some discussion questions you might ask your students:

  • What’s the purpose of an organization chart?
  • Do small companies need organization charts too?
  • At what size does a company probably need a chart?
  • How might a manager use a chart to increase productivity?
  • How might an unclear chart hurt productivity?
  • Which titles do all org charts need? Which titles are specific to certain companies?
  • What’s your dream title? Why?

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Lesson Plans, Teaching Strategies | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Website Review:

In short: Voxopop is a message board website. You don’t type your thoughts and read stuff that others write. Instead, you record your voice and listen to stuff that others record. It’s pretty cool. And it’s great speaking and listening practice.

For students: Check out all the different categories and add your voice. (You can just listen first, then you’ll need to set up an account to add comments.)

For teachers: You can start a private Talkgroup just for your class. You can use it for homework or for extensions on stuff you did in class.

P.S. Jason Renshaw (a.k.a. English Raven) made a great video review of Voxopop a while back. You can check it out here.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review:

In short: This blog isn’t active, but it has great stuff that will help you on the TOEFL. You’ll find videos on all the different sections of the TOEFL, articles on how to prepare for the test, and thoughts from students.

For students: The speaking practice application is great. You can practice taking the speaking test. Use software on your computer to record yourself.

Also check out They have products that will help students prepare, some free practice tests, and prep videos.

For teachers: Ask your students to each watch a different video and present it to the class. They’ll learn their section very well and the presentations will help with their speaking skills.

June 4, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , | Leave a comment

22 Lesson Ideas

22 Private/Small Group Lesson Ideas…all you need is a laptop and a dream. And you don’t really need the laptop.

  1. Look at pictures of places and discuss.
  2. Read “The Road Not Taken” and discuss.
  3. Read “The Lottery” and discuss.
  4. Discuss trips you’ve taken. Start by thinking of all the adjectives you can.
  5. Think of a business situation and role play it (interviews, etc.).
  6. Summarize a movie.
  7. Summarize a book
  8. Summarize a trip.
  9. Summarize a past project.
  10. Summarize a future project.
  11. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website and discuss.
  12. Read an article from The Economist and discuss.
  13. videos (watch, discuss, comment).
  14. Learn speaking techniques at
  15. BusinessEnglishPod has 20 minute listenings you can expand into lessons.
  16. Pretend you’re making a hotel reservation online.
  17. Go shopping online and buy presents for the people you love.
  18. Or, buy stuff for yourselves online.
  19. Go to and try and sell something online.
  20. Order a pizza for a charity. Practice, then make a real phone call.
  21. Comment on YouTube videos. Like this one.
  22. Comment on Blogs. Like these.

May 24, 2011 Posted by | Lesson Plans, Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Website Review:

In short: As of today, they have 52 different grammar points and 52 different vocabulary topics. They explain everything very clearly. Almost all of the topics have some game that you can play to help you practice what you’ve learned.

That might sound simple and boring, but the site is actually incredible. The site design makes it special. You’ll never have any trouble finding something on this site. The games will work quickly and they’ll be helpful. After two minutes, you’ll feel like you understand everything they do. Sound easy? It’s really hard to design a site like that.

For students: Just as an example, do you have problems using the word “get”? All the uses can give you a headache, but this section will help.

For teachers: The spelling games are particularly innovative. Students will see the words flashed at them and then they’ll need to spell them correctly. Your students who have spelling problems might enjoy these unique games. (Click here and scroll down to “Spelling Games”)

May 13, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Business English Role Play Cards

Business English Role Play

These role play cards will help you practice some business English expressions.

Click here to get the role play cards. Find a partner. You should talk to each other as different people. Use the expressions on the cards. When you have used all three words/expressions, switch to a new card.

After you’ve used these cards, you can make some new ones using the blank cards at the end of the second page.

Here are the words with brief descriptions and examples.

  • Well received: Something that that people liked
    • My report was well received. I got lots of compliments
    • The new boss was immediately well received. All the employees really liked her.
  • Ill received: Something that wasn’t liked.
    • I made a new design and I thought it looked great. Unfortunately, it was ill received, so I should try again.
    • They didn’t really like it. It was ill received.
  • Input: Ideas that should help something like a project
    • My boss is great. He always asks for input.
    • You shouldn’t give input unless you have good knowledge. You might just look stupid.
  • To execute: To do something that requires skill and careful effort.
    • He executed the marketing strategy quite well. Sales of the new product are good.
    • Don’t execute these new policies right away. Let’s review them more carefully first.
  • Stressed out: To feel anxiety.
    • I’m so stressed out because I’ve been working a lot.
    • Don’t get stressed out over the new program. You’ll make some mistakes but it’s normal. Don’t worry.
  • Dark ages: Times that are not modern
    • Our managers are really in the dark ages when it comes to technology. Did you know the CEO doesn’t use a computer?
    • The hotel’s system is from the dark ages. They still use tape drives!
  • Up-to-date: Current, modern, new
    • My training is up-to-date. I understand how everything works now.
    • If we get all the computers up-to-date, we’ll save a lot of time and money.
  • Extensive training: A lot of training. Much education on a topic.
    • I have extensive computer training. I won’t have problems.
    • You need extensive training if you want to be a doctor.
  • I’ve been working at my job for ____ years.: How long you have worked somewhere.
    • I’ve been working at the hospital for 12 years.
    • I’ve been working at Nike for a year.
  • Just a number: Not important at all.
    • I’m really just a number here. As long as I do my reports, no one notices me or cares about me.
    • When I started I was just a number, but now I’m a senior manager.
  • Routine tasks: Normal work, things you often do.
    • I’m in HR. These days my routine tasks include doing payroll and training new employees.
    • Every day is different for me! I think my only routine task is turning on my computer.
  • Daily basis: Everyday
    • On a daily basis, I read more than 100 emails.
    • I can’t have meetings with you about this on a daily basis. You need to be more independent.
  • Modern: Current, up-to-date, not old
    • The modern office design is often very open. You can see what everyone is doing.
    • I don’t really like all this modern technology. What’s wrong with using a pencil?!

Business English Role Play Cards

Cut these cards up. Students should take the card and speak as the person on the card until they’ve used all the words/expressions.

You are the CEO of a company that exports strawberries. Use the following words/expressions:

  • To execute
  • Stressed out
  • Dark ages
 You are an IT specialist at a marketing agency. Use the following words/expressions:

  • Up-to-date
  • Extensive training
  • I’ve been working at my job for ____ years.
You are a management consultant with more than 10 years of experience. Use the following words/expressions.

  • Input
  • Just a number
  • Well received
You are a nuclear engineer. Use the following words/expressions.

  • Routine tasks
  • Daily basis
  • Ill receieved
You are an executive assistant. Use the following words/expressions

  • Well received
  • Daily basis
  • Extensive training
You are a farmer. Use the following words/expressions.

  • Extensive training
  • I’ve been working at my job for ____ years.
  • Modern
You own a car dealership. Use the following words/expressions.

  • Input
  • Stressed out
  • Routine tasks
You are a human resources manager for a large company (like G.E.). Use the following words/expressions.

  • Ill received
  • Well received
  • Input
 You are an ___________________ at a ___________________. Use the following words/expressions:
You are an ___________________ at a ___________________. Use the following words/expressions:
You are an ___________________ at a ___________________. Use the following words/expressions:

May 5, 2011 Posted by | Studying Strategies, Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Learn English–British Council

Website Review: Learn English—British Council

In Short: The best site on the internet for learning English. It’s multilevel. It’s really big. It’s really helpful.

First: Low-level, intermediate-level, and high-level students will all find great stuff.

Second: The site is really big. You can watch and listen. You can read and write. You can practice grammar. You can play games. You can make friends.

Third: The activities are helpful, interesting, and modern. The site is easy to use and looks great.

For Students: Here are three things you might really like on the site. For listening, Big City, Small World is great. Studying for the IELTS? Check out this section. Or, you might join the virtual community Second Life so you can speak and listen to real people in English all the time.

For Teachers: Send your students to the site and have them write their own reviews. Ask them to answer three questions: (1) What can you listen to on this site? Describe it. (2) Is this a good site? Why/Why not? (3) Would you recommend it to a friend? Why/Why not?

May 1, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching English British Council

Website Review: Teaching English

In short: The best site for English teachers on the internet. If you only have time to visit one site a day, this should be it. What do you need? Activities for you classroom? They got ‘em.  Training to make you a better teacher? Oh heck yeah. A worldwide community to bounce ideas off of, get help from, and have fun with. Si. Da. Nae. Hai. Tak. Yes. Yes. Yes.

For students: This site is mainly for teachers, but if your teacher isn’t using it, you might tell them about it. Also, check out their sister site for students:

For teachers: If you can’t find what you’re looking for, they also have links to tons of other sites. Oh, and make sure to like them on Facebook…

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment