Stuart Mill English

How to Learn, How to Teach English

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

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

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

Phone Calls

Making phone calls in English is really hard. Speaking is hard enough. Taking away expressions and gestures just makes it harder. The speech is a little unclear. Everything together stops many students from even trying to use the phone.

And that’s a pity because the phone makes life easier. Students who are afraid to use the phone can’t call to see if a store has something—they have to go the store. They can’t call to check up on a client—they have to hope things are fine. And perhaps the ultimate tragedy, they can’t order a pizza—they have to go out.

Teachers know this, but what’s a teacher to do? Here are some ideas:

Call Each Other Students practice speaking together all the time, but never on the phone. Send half the class to another room. Have a normal discussion, but have them talking on the phone.

Order Food for a Charity As a class, choose a charity you like. Find out where their office is. Then, call them and tell them your class is going to support them by buying them a pizza. Ask them what kind they’d like. Call a pizza restaurant and order one for the charity. One student will actually make each call. The cost for the pizza and the phone calls shouldn’t be more than $30.

Go Slow Of course you don’t need to jump right to using real telephones. Before making any calls, write practice dialogues to imagine how things will go.

Back-to-Back Ask the students to memorize dialogues (or get close) and do them with their backs to each other and their eyes closed. They’ll have a harder time hearing each other and won’t be able to rely on gestures, etc.

Lights Out! Turn off all the lights and do your discussion that way. This will also help them practice speaking without relying on images.

Analyze the Problems Sometimes just knowing why something is hard can make it easier. Ask the students to write down all the possible problems they might have making a phone call. Then brainstorm solutions to each problem.

What?! One of the big problems on the phone is not understanding. Review ways to ask someone to repeat things.

Plan a Holiday Hotels and airlines often have toll free numbers you can call. Ask your students to put together a holiday package. Give them a budget. Then ask them to call different hotels and airlines to get information on prices and amenities. Just don’t all call the same hotel…

March 17, 2011 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Syllabus Sample

Sample Syllabus

For those who have to make syllabuses, sometimes it can be a bit of a challenge. Thought you might like a sample. Enjoy.

You can take a look at a PDF here.

(Or you can just read it below)

Title:                                     Conversation


Office Number:

Office Hours:




The main objective of Conversation is to improve the practical conversation skills of the students.

The following things are needed to have a conversation: Grammar, Vocabulary, Listening Skills, Pronunciation, Fluency, and Prosody. Of these, we will focus on Fluency and Prosody.

Fluency is being able to speak easily, without having to translate from Korean to English in your head.

Prosody is word stress, timing, and intonation.

Grammar, Vocabulary, Listening Skills, and Pronunciation won’t be the focus of the course. However, that does not mean that they aren’t important. Students should work to improve them outside of class.

After the course, students will be able to:

  • Participate in conversations between people who have met recently.
  • Participate in conversations about technology.
  • Participate in conversations about music.
  • Participate in conversations about lifestyle.
  • Participate in conversations about people.
  • Participate in conversations about places.
  • Participate in conversations about the past.


“Method” means “how”. How will students learn? The best way to improve conversation skills is by talking a lot. Students will receive materials to prepare them to have conversations and then will practice having the conversations. At first, the conversations will be very basic. After some practice, we will try speaking more freely.

In addition, students will practice speaking outside of the classroom.


Homework: 30% Students will receive twelve assignments and must complete at least eight of them. If you do more than eight, you will receive extra credit on the final exam. Students who complete all twelve assignments will receive an automatic 100% (A+) on the final exam and will not have to take the final exam.

Office Meetings: 20% Each student is required to come to my office for a 30 minute meeting twice during the semester. Up to three students can come at a time. You will just practice speaking with me during this time. (If you come and talk, you will receive 100%.)

Participation: 20%

Exams: 20% There will be a midterm and a final exam. They are each worth 10% of the grade.

TOEIC: 10% Your TOEIC score is worth 10% of your grade.


If you miss more than 5 classes you will get an F for the course. If you are late at the beginning of class, you will receive half credit for the day.


Title Author Publisher Year


You can buy this book at the university bookstore.

Supplementary Materials

The professor will give the students many supplementary materials to help students learn the material better.


Weeks                 Objectives                                                                                            Textbook Units

1-8 Participate in conversations between people who have met recently.

Participate in conversations about technology.

Participate in conversations about music.

Participate in conversations about lifestyle.

9-16 Participate in conversations about lifestyle (Continued)

Participate in conversations about people.

Participate in conversations about places.

Participate in conversations about the past.



Units 7 and 8 may be used in class if there is time.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Teach Intonation

How to teach Intonation

Click here for some thoughts on what intonation is and why it’s important.

Here are five ways to teach it in the classroom

Play a game The concept of intonation can be hard, but students are quick to know what’s wrong when they’re listening for it. So, create a dialogue and then and read it for the class. Read some lines of the dialogue with the wrong intonation. Have the students note which ones are wrong. The person/team that correctly identifies all the wrong intonation wins.

Dialogue Tree Lots of times, you can use rising or falling intonation, but the meaning changes. (For example: “I bought a car” –vs– “I bought a car?”.) Have the students write a dialogue on some theme. Every third line, they should write two possible replies—one with rising and one with falling intonation—and then continue on writing both dialogues. Make the dialogues short or they’ll run out of paper quickly.

I only go up Give the students a discussion topic, but tell them one partner can only use rising intonation. (So, one partner will need to ask lots of one word questions.) They should discuss the question for two minutes and then switch.

Identify the weakness and make it go away Do your students have trouble with some specific intonation pattern? If so, force them to practice it in creative ways. For starters, they should write dialogues that use the pattern. Then give them discussion questions that use the pattern or discussion questions that might elicit the pattern for the answer.

Just the intonation, please After students write a dialogue ask them to label it in a way that will let them know the intonation patterns. (For examples, they can put and “up” or “down” arrow on each word. Then, they should cross out all the words and read the dialogue without words. They can just make neutral sounds (e.g. grunts) or hum the sentences.

January 10, 2011 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

No Plan. No Problem.

No plan. No problem.

Teachers: What would you do if you got to your classroom and realized that you’d forgotten all of your materials? How about if a colleague gets sick and you have to step in without a plan? Or imagine you start teaching and realize two minutes in that everyone already knows everything you were going to teach that day.

It happens and it’s good to be prepared. Here are five ideas for teaching a lesson without materials. Do you have any more ideas? It’d be great to read them in the comments.

BreakingNewsEnglish If you’re the really prepared type (or want to be), go to Choose two lessons that look good, print them off and make some copies. When your bad day happens, you can just whip them out and go like it was your plan all along.

Vocab Review Celebrity” requires no prep, is very educational, and super fun to boot.

Moving Lines After having students come up with some questions on a theme, put them in two lines. Have them ask all their questions and then slide half the students down one spot and repeat the questions again, and again, and again. (For a fuller description, go here.)

Dialogues Tried and true. Write dialogues on a theme, review them in pairs, edit them, write them again, and present them to the class.

Descriptive Essays Or, set them to writing essays. Choose a big theme like “Your Friends” or “Your Hometown” or “Vacation Spots”. Have them describe things in detail: a paragraph on each friend, all the places they go in their hometowns, each vacation they’ve taken. The more details you ask for, the bigger the topic, the longer it’ll go on. Done right, work on descriptive essays can last years.

September 10, 2010 Posted by | Teaching Strategies | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Website Review:

In short: One of the five best ESL sites on the internet. They have everything. They’ve been putting out great material for 15 years and let’s hope they never stop. Their own menu bar says it all: Articles, Lessons, Techniques, Questions, Games, Jokes, Things for Teachers, Links, and Activities for Students.

The site is organized perfectly. There’s no distracting advertising. If you have a slow connection, this site will still load quickly. What more could you want?

For students: The “Activities for Students” button will take you to this site, There, you’ll find many fun things you can do to improve your English.

For teachers: You can learn from the articles and use the lessons, techniques, etc. Why not contribute as well? See if you can get an article published. You’ll learn a lot while preparing it and give a little back to the community of teachers and students around the world.

August 30, 2010 Posted by | Website Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking about Sports

This is another speaking topic for students. Click here to read the introduction to the series.

Students, remember, you can only speak English while you do this activity. Don’t speak your native language for at least one hour. You can do it!

Teachers, you can adapt these for lessons, or give them as homework.

Topic: Sports

Objectives: After the discussion, you should be able to discuss sports.

Materials: A computer with an internet connection

Grammar: Present Simple, Verbs + Gerunds and Verbs + Infinitives


Listen and repeat these expressions.

I’m really competitive. Say these if winning is really important to you.
I play to win.
I can’t stand losing.
I just like to have a good time. Say these if winning isn’t really important to you.
I don’t like to take games too seriously.
It’s just a game!
It was over before it began. Say these when a team is easily winning.
They’re dominating.
They’re getting their butts kicked. Say this about a team that is losing badly.
Don’t give up! Say this to someone who should keep trying.
What an exciting match! Say this when you are enjoying watching a match.

Vocabulary: team, competitive, match, dominate, to give up

Vocabulary Practice Go to Sport Illustrated’s website and look at the pictures. Find a picture of something that shows a team; something that shows competition, something that shows match; something that shows dominate; and something that shows to give up

Discussion Questions Discuss these questions about sports with your partner.

Do you like to watch sports? Why? What do you like to watch?

Do you like to play sports? Why? What do you like to play?

Is winning very important to you? Why/Why not?

Do you like to play other games (like chess)? Which games do you like to play OR Why don’t you like to play games?

Is it important for children to play sports? Why/Why not?

Which sport is better for children: soccer or baseball?

Strange Sports Do a Google image search for these sports. Describe them to your partner. Would you like to try playing them?

  • Curling
  • Midget Throwing
  • Bog Snorkeling
  • Underwater Rugby
  • Sumo Wrestling
  • Lawn Mower Racing

Your Questions Write five discussion questions about sports. Ask your partner your questions.

Next Why not ask your classmates to play a sport together. You could make one of the rules that you have to speak English. Anyone who doesn’t speak English gets a penalty.

July 31, 2010 Posted by | Speaking, Studying Strategies | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment