Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Business English Special - Part II

Once again, we'd like to share with you Business related video lessons from our partners at English Attack! Both of the ones we are sharing today are from TED talks.

To view the activities, you will need PREMIUM access to English Attack! For being part of our community, we grant you a 1 week free trial, no purchase necessary.  To validate it, simply go to the English Attack! Video Booster of the Day BOX (located on this page, on the right column) and sign up at English Attack! at no cost by clicking on the "More Videos" tabThen proceed to the business Video Boosters recommended on this post.

Business Video Booster 1: The Next Steve Jobs?
Like most kids his age, Thomas Suarez loves to play video games. After all, he's only 12. However, unlike most children his age, he taught himself how to create those games. But not only is this young man a brilliant apps developer. He is also a great presenter. You will not want to miss the opportunity to practice your English and find out how this young genious is helping other kids become game developers.

After doing the activity you will be able to actively use and explain the following concepts in English:
  • Apps
  • Whac-a-Mole
  • suite
  • app club
  • pilot program

Business Video Booster 2: Miss Zero Bullet Points
And when it comes to presentations, you will not want to miss the brilliant advice of one the leading experts on the subject, Melissa Marshall. In this TED talk, she brings a message to all scientists from the rest of us non-scientists. She tells them, "we're fascinated by what you're doing... (but please) tell us about it -- in a way we can understand."  In just 4 minutes, she shares powerful tips on presenting complex scientific ideas to a general audience in easy tips.

But as many in business know, sometimes even if we are not scientists, we also present information is a way that is unnecessarily complicated.

After doing the activity you will be able to actively use and explain the following concepts in English:                   
  • wonderland
  • bullet points
  • overwhelmed
  • nerdy
If you missed the last Business English Special, check it out right here.

BUT the real great thing about this material is that now, PLS has new special and very affordable courses that combine English Attack! activities with dynamic PLS teacher-led workshop activities. To find out more, contact us at

Thanks once again for stopping by and we'd like to you a very Happy, Safe and Successful New Year!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Business English Special - Part I

En PLS hacemos todo lo posible para brindarles cursos, workshops y herramientas para acercar el inglés a miles de profesionales que confían en nosotros día a día.

Por eso, en esta ocación acercamos el contenido especial de dos Video Boosters especiales de Business English provistos por nuestros partners de la innovadora plataforma online English Attack!

Para visualizarlos necesita acceso a English Attack! PREMIUM, pero por ser parte de nuestra comunidad, le brindamos una semana a dicho servicio. Para validarlo, simplemente realicen las actividades del Video Booster del día (ubicado en el cuadro de English Attack de ésta página, en la colúmna a la derecha >>) y luego registrense gratuitamente en English Attack!). Luego, proceda a realizar los Video Boosters de Business English recomendados:

Temario de Video Boosters:

TEMA 1 - Starting Meetings Effectively
Comenzamos viendo un tema central de todas las empresas - las reuniones de negocios - y aprendiendo en inglés maneras de hacerlas más eficientes.

TEMA 2 - 4 Ways to Think Like an Innovator
Abrimos la mente para ver cómo podemos ser más creativos en la búsqueda de soluciones y hacer grandes productos o servicios. Y todo mientras aprendemos inglés. (basado en material del Harvard Business Review)

Cada Video Booster no lleva más de 10 minutos de realizar, y las instrucciones lo van guiando paso a paso. Pero recomendamos hacerlo más de una vez para fijar los conceptos.

Una vez que caduque la semana PREMIUM, podrán seguir haciendo el material gratuito de Video Boosters de English Attack! o bien preguntar por los planes de empresa de English Attack! a través de PLS que están a un precio especial no disponible en la página de English Attack! e incluyen actividades y workshops adicionales.

En English Attack! además de Video Boosters, podrán practicar con listas de PhotoVocabs temáticos muy variados y relevantes y practicar a través de Juegos de aprendizaje. Aquí destacamos uno muy bueno basado en una charla de TED.  Ver Aquí

Monday, October 15, 2012

STORIES: The Most Effective BUSINESS Communication TOOL

Overlooked in business until recently, storytelling tunes into our ancestral quest for insight on the world and its wonders.

In fact, stories read to us as children taught us to organize our own experience in the way of a story. So whether you like it or not, Cinderella, Star Wars or The Hardy Boys had a hand in shaping your vision of yourself. Your story.

Cognitive psychologists have written volumes about this, so has Joseph Campbell.

But here's the bottom line. As adults, we continue to organize our experiences in story form. In fact,  the story template is embedded deep within our psyche. We are intrinsically familiar with it.

This is why stories move us.

The fact that business doesn't take advantage of this when communicating is simply a leftover from the linear "inside the box" industrial era mentality . In today's mash-up world, new combinations and innovation are simply necessary for survival. There's a new generation of buyers and sellers out there and they don't want to be spoken to with the same deliverance their grandaddy was.

Why? Because they're tired of being "sold to", of being told that companies have always been great and perfect and everything about them shines. That's a crock, businesses know it, and so does everyone and their dog. But here's the thing. People still need stuff, they still want to do business, and yes, they still want to make a buck. And they can accept that the road to success ain't easy or pretty.

That's why deep down inside they're looking for a deeper connection, a sign that whatever they've decided to do has a meaning beyond the obvious commercial transaction.

That meaning could be the name of a product or a project or perhaps, its scope, its design, its back-story. Or all of the above. But it will only reach this potential stakeholder in the way of a message that has some sort of semblance to a story. Facts and figures might support an argument rationally, but they will achieve nothing on the emotional plane.

And folks, there's very little emotion in your average business communication piece. Read a press release, website copy, or listen to the average key note speech and draw your own conclusions.

Today's volatile and challenging business world requires messages to stand out. To be meaningful. To draw us in. To connect to the audience. 

So who can lend a hand?

Business Communication Consultant / Writer & Producer Pablo Ponce de Leon can. His extensive experience in Film and Television - including Hollywood - combined with his years working as communication consultant for businesses in Latin America make him the ideal candidate to help you establish a meaningful connection to an audience in any business situation.

So forget pie charts and bullet points and get ready to take your audience on the journey of human experience! Pablo's business storytelling method is ideal for, but not limited to:
  • Sales Presentations
  • Product Presentations
  • Key Note Speeches
  • Social Media Marketing Campaigns
  • Exhibit Concept Creation
  • Staff training
  • Ad Copy
  • Web Copy
  • Blogging
  • Video presentations
  • Online advertising
  • Buzz marketing concepts
His upcoming PLS Workshop "Storytelling in Business" will help provide insight into how to make use of this tool for your business communication in English. But as you'll discover, the skills will be quite useful to you in your native language as well.

For more information: contact PLS at:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A MOVIE about... a Word Collocation

In language, when two or more words are commonly used together, it is called a word collocation. That's why when students ask the meaning of a word out of context, we often try to first see if the word is used "alone", which is often not the case or if it's often part of something bigger.

There are verb collocations, noun collocations and special collocations for every field imaginable: business, medicine, technology and as we'll see today, music. (see links below for details)

So to understand the logic behind collocations, let's focus on a special case. Let's take the word air. Naturally, we'll assume you know the basic meaning of this word. After all, you're breathing it.

Now, there are many word collocations that begin with the word air that are popularly used in the English language. So let's check out a few:

air force - a military force that uses aircraft to engage the enemy

air conditioner - a device that provides climate control to cool a house or a building

air hockey - a game played on a table that sprays out air on its surface, whereby players must shoot a hockey puck into their opponent's goal; also known as table hockey

air guitar - an activity that involves imitating a guitar player when we don't have a guitar, practiced by kids and teenagers across the world

As you can see, each one is quite different than the simple word air. So, what about the movie, right?

We were just getting to that part. So just like there is air guitar, what would you call an activity that involves mimicking a drummer when you don't have a drum set?

air drumming

So to end this blog post, we have a full comedy movie that deals with this topic.

Adventures of Power

"Adventures of Power" (Subtitulado en Español) por AriGoldFilms

It's an epic comedy about a mine-worker named Power whose love of drums and lack of musical skill has turned him into the ridiculed "air drummer" of his small town. But when Power's union-leader father calls a strike at the mine, Power discovers an underground subculture of air-drummers who just might hold the key to changing the world. Power's journey across America brings him face-to-face with his town's greatest enemy, and allows him to discover the beat within his own heart and fall in love.

Ari Gold, the star and director of this comedy provided free special access to his film to viewers in Latin America, when he was unable to get distribution in those countries. The movie stars some well-known actors like Micheal McKean (Curb Your Enthusiasm), Jane Lynch (40 year-old virgin) and Adrian Greiner (Entourage).

Enjoy the movie and feel free to recommend it, as it is a very legal copy.

For more on collocations, please check out:

This excellent guide:

This fun quiz:

And as a final note, if you can "air guitar" or "air drum", what else can you "air do" for fun?

Thursday, August 30, 2012


By now, we all know that Neil A. Armstrong - who passed away earlier this month - was the first man to walk on the moon. But who was he and what was he like?

Neil was born in Wapakoneta, Ohio, on August 5, 1930.He began his NASA career in Ohio.

After serving as a naval aviator from 1949 to 1952, Armstrong joined the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) in 1955. His first assignment was with the NACA Lewis Research Center (now NASA Glenn) in Cleveland. Over the next 17 years, he was an engineer, test pilot, astronaut and administrator for NACA and its successor agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

 Be sure to check out this VIDEO Tribute to Earth's first Lunar Pioneer  

As a research pilot at NASA's Flight Research Center, Edwards, Calif., he was a project pilot on many pioneering high speed aircraft, including the well known, 4000-mph X-15. He has flown over 200 different models of aircraft, including jets, rockets, helicopters and gliders.

Armstrong transferred to astronaut status in 1962. He was assigned as command pilot for the Gemini 8 mission. Gemini 8 was launched on March 16, 1966, and Armstrong performed the first successful docking of two vehicles in space.

As spacecraft commander for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission, Armstrong gained the distinction of being the first man to land a craft on the moon and first to step on its surface.

Armstrong subsequently held the position of Deputy Associate Administrator for Aeronautics, NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. In this position, he was responsible for the coordination and management of overall NASA research and technology work related to aeronautics.

He was Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Cincinnati between 1971-1979. During the years 1982-1992, Armstrong was chairman of Computing Technologies for Aviation, Inc., Charlottesville, Va.

He received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Southern California. He holds honorary doctorates from a number of universities.

Armstrong was a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the Royal Aeronautical Society; Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the International Astronautics Federation.

He was a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the Academy of the Kingdom of Morocco. He served as a member of the National Commission on Space (1985-1986), as Vice-Chairman of the Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger Accident (1986), and as Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee for the Peace Corps (1971-1973).

Armstrong was decorated by 17 countries. He was the recipient of many special honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom; the Congressional Gold Medal; the Congressional Space Medal of Honor; the Explorers Club Medal; the Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy; the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; the Harmon International Aviation Trophy; the Royal Geographic Society's Gold Medal; the Federation Aeronautique Internationale's Gold Space Medal; the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award; the Robert J. Collier Trophy; the AIAA Astronautics Award; the Octave Chanute Award; and the John J. Montgomery Award.

Armstrong passed away on Aug. 25, 2012 following complications resulting from cardiovascular procedures. He was 82

But his legacy to Humankind will live on forever.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

STEVE JOBS And his Secret Presentation Skills

Throughout the world, many people in business still continue to be fascinated by Steve Jobs and his remarkable of legacy as a revolutionary innovator, clear communicator and presenter of ideas.

And yet, few embrace this simplicity when they have to give business presentations.

The fact is: the late Steve Jobs did not sell computers; he sold an experience. The same holds true for his presentations. If you study them, you will see that they are meant to inform, educate, and entertain. An Apple presentation has all the elements of a great theatrical production—a great script, heroes and villains, stage props, breathtaking visuals, and one moment that makes the price of admission well worth it.

Here are the five elements of every Steve Jobs presentation. We invite English Users to incorporate these elements into your own presentations to sell your product or ideas the Steve Jobs way. Here are the highlights:

1. A headline. Steve Jobs positions every product with a headline that fits well within a 140-character Twitter post. For example, Jobs described the MacBook Air as "the world's thinnest notebook." That phrase appeared on his presentation slides, the Apple Web site, and Apple's press releases at the same time. What is the one thing you want people to know about your product? This headline must be consistent in all of your marketing and presentation material.

2. A villain. In every classic story, the hero fights the villain. In 1984, the villain, according to Apple, was IBM (IBM). Before Jobs introduced the famous 1984 television ad to the Apple sales team for the first time, he told a story of how IBM was bent on dominating the computer industry. "IBM wants it all and is aiming its guns on its last obstacle to industry control: Apple." Today, the "villain" in Apple's narrative is played by Microsoft (MSFT). One can argue that the popular "I'm a Mac" television ads are hero/villain vignettes. This idea of conquering a shared enemy is a powerful motivator and turns customers into evangelists.

3. A simple slide. Apple products are easy to use because of the elimination of clutter. The same approach applies to the slides in a Steve Jobs presentation. They are strikingly simple, visual, and yes, devoid of bullet points. Pictures are dominant. When Jobs introduced the MacBook Air, no words could replace a photo of a hand pulling the notebook computer out of an interoffice manila envelope. Think about it this way—the average PowerPoint slide has 40 words. In some presentations, Steve Jobs has a total of seven words in 10 slides. And why are you cluttering up your slides with too many words?

4. A demo. Neuroscientists have discovered that the brain gets bored easily. Steve Jobs doesn't give you time to lose interest. Ten minutes into a presentation he's often demonstrating a new product or feature and having fun doing it. When he introduced the iPhone at Macworld 2007, Jobs demonstrated how Google Maps (GOOG) worked on the device. He pulled up a list of Starbucks (SBUX) stores in the local area and said, "Let's call one." When someone answered, Jobs said: "I'd like to order 4,000 lattes to go, please. No, just kidding."

5. A holy smokes moment. Every Steve Jobs presentation has one moment that neuroscientists call an "emotionally charged event." The emotionally charged event is the equivalent of a mental post-it note that tells the brain, Remember this! For example, at Macworld 2007, Jobs could have opened the presentation by telling the audience that Apple was unveiling a new mobile phone that also played music, games, and video. Instead he built up the drama. "Today, we are introducing three revolutionary products. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device…an iPod, a phone, an Internet communicator…an iPod, a phone, are you getting it? These are not three devices. This is one device!" The audience erupted in cheers because it was so unexpected, and very entertaining. By the way, the holy smokes moment on Sept. 9 had nothing to do with a product. It was Steve Jobs himself appearing onstage for the first time after undergoing a liver transplant.

One more thing…sell dreams.

Charismatic speakers like Steve Jobs are driven by a nearly messianic zeal to create new experiences. When he launched the iPod in 2001, Jobs said, "In our own small way we're going to make the world a better place." Where most people saw the iPod as a music player, Jobs recognized its potential as a tool to enrich people's lives. Cultivate a sense of mission. Passion, emotion, and enthusiasm are grossly underestimated ingredients in professional business communications, and yet, passion and emotion will motivate others. Steve Jobs once said that his goal was not to die the richest man in the cemetery. It was to go to bed at night thinking that he and his team had done something wonderful. Do something wonderful.

Make your presentations engaging.

There is a new book about this topic, written by Carmine Gallo. Check it out! The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs