The English Learners' Blog

A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

What Will Future Jobs Look Like?

Filed under: 8►BUSINESS, ■ AI, ■ Automation, ■ Intelligent Life

An Anti-creativity List for 2015

From the Harvard Business Review

Five years ago I published a version of this tongue-in-cheek checklist on that highlighted how organizations kill creativity. It really touched a nerve​—​people flooded the post with No.examples from their own organizations of how their managers and colleagues stifled innovation. Even clichés like “We’ve always done it this way” seemed to be alive and well back then. Given all the talk in recent years about unleashing creativity in organizations, I wondered whether the same creativity killers are still at work today.  So, I’m posting a slightly edited version of the original video to ask viewers around the world  what’s changed. What happens in your organization today that shuts down creative thinking? Please post your examples of anti-creativity in the comments section. Thanks, and enjoy.

Filed under: 3►STYLE, 8►BUSINESS, ■ About Organisational Cultures, ■ Creativity, ■ Dream Jobs, ■ Harvard Business Review, ■ Podcasts

To Add on Your e-Shelves: WhyEnglishMatters Documentary Series

Business Growth

English helps drive business growth.

A vast majority of companies with adequate English proficiency believe they are more competitive globally because of their employees’ proficiency, according to an ETS and Ipsos Public Affairs survey of 749 HR leaders of large, multinational companies in 13 countries. 

The Need for English is Growing

The need for English is growing.

According to an ETS and Ipsos Public Affairs survey of 749 HR leaders of large, multinational companies in 13 countries, the demand for employees who are proficient in English will continue to grow.


English Proficiency Opens Doors

English proficiency opens doors.

With a solid understanding of English, your employees may build better relationships internationally.

English is the Language of the Internet

English Is the Language of the Internet

The Internet connects people all over the globe and accounts for a greater share of the world GDP than agriculture or energy. Used by more than a quarter of all Internet users, English is the single most used language on the Web.

English as a Common Language Drives Efficiency

English as a common language drives efficiency.

ETS and Ipsos Public Affairs surveyed 749 HR leaders of large, multinational companies in 13 countries. They described the role English plays in the efficiency — and therefore the cost effectiveness — of their staff. Communication, collaboration and productivity are all at stake.

English Skills Can Pave the Way to Global Expansion

Explore the Impact of English Proficiency on Global Business

In today’s global marketplace, English is the universal language of business. In our exclusive whitepaper, 66% of companies reported that the lack of an English-proficient workforce posed a challenge for global expansion. Alternatively, 94% of companies with adequate English proficiency have found that English has made them more competitive globally. Putting English proficiency first drives global growth and leads to business success in new markets.

Filed under: 1►LISTEN▼, 8►BUSINESS, ■ Global Issues, ■ Technology & Our Generation

1, 2, 3, Think, Read, Speak!!!

Like most students, Millenials or otherwise, mine love to stay current & be able to discuss the latest trends, so here’s a Think & Read three-pack I came up with to help the discussion flow & connect present to future technologically as well as linguistically. The texts below are taken from Content Loop, one of our latest favourites here at the ELB.

Have a fab Feb and keep your mind well fed with valuable information!

(Further reading suggested:

click the numbers pics 4 extra reads on senses, skating & L o V e <3.)



 THINK about your TOP 3 most annoying habits people have connected with technology in your opinion (like spending time checking the phone during face-to-face meetings) and think of ways people should/could change those habits.
READ this article on technology etiquette for the emerging generation, write down any tricky words, phrases & questions you might have for further discussion.


 No.THINK about the specific traits of our generation, the Millennials. (In what ways are we different from other generations?)
READ this article on  how to grab the attention of Millenials via email and compare your ideas against the ideas presented in the text. Would you read mails written in the styles suggested in the text? Which style(s) would you find more appealing? Why? Why not? Be ready to speak your mind on the issues you find most relevant to you, your life & living today.


No.THINK about the type of content/topics/styles/genres you like to read about and describe it/them briefly. Then try to analyse why  you are attracted to these types of content?
READ this text about the link between viral content and emotional intelligence. What do you agree and disagree with, and why?

Filed under: 1►TO DO, 2►READ, 3►SPEAK▼, ■ Communicate, ■ CONTENT LOOP, ■ Generations, ■ Inspiration, ■ Physics, ■ Relation ships, ■ Science & Technology, ■ Technology & Our Generation, ■ The W W WEB, ■ The World, ■ Thinking Space

Conversation Topic: How to Live – A Life/ Business Model

The inspiration for this conversation class came to me in a less conventional way, while I was selecting materials for a course tailored toward business that had, it seemed, nothing to do with the “How to Live” topic.

Generally, there seems to be a natural progression from life models and their theories (in ELT terms, general, non-technical  English vocabulary) to business models and their theories (to business or technical English vocabulary). Having said that, I was surprised to notice the applicability of a particular business model to a topic that I could sum up as the Guidelines of “How to Live”. This business model presented in the Cambridge Coursebook Business Advantage Upper-intermediate,  in the chapter on organisational cultures. It comes from Professor Charles Handy’s  book, Understanding Organisations.  My attention was immediately drawn by one of the two types of organisational cultures presented there: the so-called role culture (p.48).

Role Culture can be pictured as a Greek temple. Role culture places its strengths in its columns. These columns represent the different departments, e.g. the finance department and the purchasing department. The work of the columns and the interactions between the columns is controlled by procedures which describe in detail what each department does and what each person does in their job by means of a job description. This structure is suited to stable environments or environments where the organization has a lot of market power, such as monopolies. The  columns are connected at the top by a narrow band of senior management. An organization with a role culture is generally believed to be very stable, but poor at implementing change and adapting to a fast-changing macro-environment.

From here to the path of metaphor was only a very small step that carried me and two different groups of students of mine from Kliny English Courses (a higher-level group and another lower-level group) on an interesting imaginative adventure. 

You can try this metaphorical path yourselves by reading the fragment on role cultures, paying attention to the underlined concepts and being ready to look for their equivalents that make up your own view of life, while bearing in mind this question:

If your intrinsic system of values that you guide your life by were to be associated with a Greek temple, what would your columns or pillars be, how would they interconnect (by what kind of procedures, waysstrategies), and what would be the innermost guiding principle you live by, the roof supported by those columns or pillars?

My students came up with some amazing answers to these and questions or suggestions like (I took the liberty to paraphrase them):

– “My main pillars are: my physical condition  and my family. I realised a while ago that I need to be fit in order to function well at home and at work on a daily basis. Unfortunately, the time I spend exercising takes me away from my family, but I am trying to balance this and everything else in my life as best I can.

– “I am afraid that I am my own pillar most of the times. It happens to me to look around for some help only to realize that I can only count on myself. It makes me think of how strong and, at times, how fragile I am.”

– “My pillars are: my ancestors or my roots, where I come from, then, second, my family, my own generation, which is my present, and third, the future of the next generations of my children’s children and also the future and preservation of our planet. Some families have famous people among their ancestry, Nobel prize winners and the like. Mine doesn’t. The most important value in my family has always been hard work. Another value that is extremely significant for me is passing on our knowledge to future generations. Sharing what I know with the younger generation is something I take great pride and pleasure in doing.”

I would like to thank my students for sharing their thoughts at our classes and for trusting me to take the path of metaphor as often as I suggest it. I would also like to thank Martin Lisboa, one of the authors of the Business Advantage Upper-intermediate coursebook whom I had the pleasure of meeting at the workshop he led in Krakow in May this past spring (Case studies on real companies – Why bother with fakes?) for his excellent contribution to the content of the coursebook and for his supportive attitude and kind appreciation of my ideas and my literary writings in English during our talk on the same occasion. 

I encourage you to think up your own answers and life view versions taking a similar metaphor path. You may wish to keep these views private or share them with people you know well or not at all. Either way, get ready to be surprised. Last but not least, enjoy!

Filed under: 3►SPEAK▼, 8►BUSINESS, ■ About Organisational Cultures, ■ How to Live, ►META PHORS▼, TOPICS▼

Thinking Space: Where do you get your ideas?

The Economist is asking opinion leaders from around Europe to share where they get their ideas (their ‘Thinking Space’).

Over the next few months The Economist will be featuring the best contributions in the main section of this site, alongside those of the leading personalities already featured like movie director Claudia Llosa, musician Jamie Lidell and Spotify founder Daniel Ek.

Thinking space: Where do you get your ideas?

Filed under: 7► DIY, ■ Site Scout, ■ The Economist, ■ Thinking Space

Leverage Points

I would like to announce Deon Binneman’s new blog for consultants & professional services providers, aimed at advancing their professional knowledge and growing their practice. Deon Binneman is a public speaker & consultant on Business & Organizational Reputation. If you are interested in exploring tips and tools in this area, read on.

This is how leverage points are defined:

Researchers in systems thinking speak about leverage points – those small, well-focused actions that can, when used at the right time and in the right place, produce significant, lasting benefits exponentially beyond the effort required to take the action step itself.

In his first post he published on September 15th, Deon Binneman discusses the benefits of leverage points.

How can a person learn quickly and efficiently? By learning from others what works for them. By implementing best practice techniques.

How can you benchmark your own efforts? By measuring yourself against what others are doing.

How can you increase your chances of success? By leaning from those who are successful you can shorten your own learning curve and the path to success in your chosen endeavor.

Consider the alternative!

  • Trial and error
  • A long learning curve

Going to a bookshop and/or library and reading all the books on consulting and professional services marketing. Last count there were more than 30 books available.

How current and ongoing is your marketing efforts? These are only some of the thoughts and ideas and leverage points I will explore.

Filed under: 8►BUSINESS, ■ Leadership

Learn More from Giving

The Giving Pledge is an effort to invite the wealthiest individuals and families in America to commit to giving the majority of their wealth to the philanthropic causes and charitable organizations of their choice either during their lifetime or after their death.

Each person who chooses to pledge will make this statement publicly, along with a letter explaining their decision to pledge. At an annual event, those who take the pledge will come together to share ideas and learn from each other.

If you are interested in learning more from giving, here are the quick links to all of the Chronicle of Philantropy blogroll:

Give and Take
News and notes from the nonprofit blogosphere

Fund raising tips, tricks, and advice

Social Philanthropy
Exploring the use of social media for social good

Government & Politics Watch
Tracking the intersection of politics and philanthropy

Profit and Purpose
Examining the relationship between business and charity

Money and Mission
Discussing the world of nonprofit finance

Layoffs and Mergers
A digest of cutbacks and changes at nonprofit groups

Conference Notebook
Updates from notable events in the world of philanthropy

What are the new faces of luxury?

According to this article from Fortune, “The recession hasn’t killed the good life entirely; it’s just put a renewed focus on value, quality, and story.” Click the link to read more about an iconic fashion house, a fine wine brand, exquisite time keepers, a designer’s world and green-profile cars. We have to wonder about the new faces of day-to-day luxury in our old Europe…

Filed under: 4►LIFE, ■ Charity, ■ CNN Money, ■ Fortune, ■ Giving, ■ Luxury, ■ Perfumes, ■ Site Scout

Campuses to live for

Kenyon CollegeVisit the Forbes site

to look at the world’s

most beautiful college campuses

Forbes asked a panel of architects and campus designers to nominate their picks for the best-looking campuses in the world. Click on the link to see their top choices. If you thought about great campuses, which campuses would you nominate and why?

Filed under: ■ Campuses, ■ Forbes, ■ Good Old Student Life

Let’s Talk Generations!


Any questions that define who someone is and what group he or she may belong to are essential questions.

It was only recently that one of my Physics students asked me about the difference between a physician (a doctor of medicine; word origin: 1175-1225) and a physicist (a scientist who specialises in physics; word origin: 1710-20).

Looking back at the history of physicians we discover that in the 18th century, for example, apothecaries (what we now call pharmacists; word origin: 1325-75) were recognised as GPs (general practitioners, today’s family doctors). The apothecaries were affiliated to a Society of Apothecaries and could ascend to higher positions such as, for example, Masters of the Society of Apothecaries, which granted them a respectable position at the royal court in 18th-century England.

Further back in history, the Anglo-Saxon guilds had a strong religious component; they were burial societies that paid for masses for the souls of deceased members as well as paying fines in cases of justified crime. The continental custom of guilds of merchants arrived after the Conquest, with incorporated societies of merchants in each town or city holding exclusive rights of doing business there. In many cases they became the governing body of a town (cf. Guildhall, which came to be the London city hall). Trade guilds arose  in the 14th century, as craftsmen united to protect their common interest.

The tradition of guilds, based on special knowledge and connections such as the disciple-apprentice relationship has grown less popular in today’s world, where anyone willing to learn may jump at the opportunity of getting a degree in a certain field of knowledge that was restricted to special circles and elites centuries ago.


You are probably familiar with abbreviations like   BC or AD. What about a newcomer like BG?

It stands for Before Google (1996).

As Tonya Trappe suggested in a workshop she held in Krakow a few days ago, people over 35 now are considerably younger, BG age considered (your BG age= your real age – 14 years). Leaving the joke aside, what do you see as the characteristics of your generation?

Before considering any answers to this question, let’s look at the definition of a generation, as given by Tammy Erickson in her article “Generational Differences between India and the U.S.

By definition, a generation is a group a people who, based on their age, share not only a chronological location in history but also the experiences that accompany it. These common experiences, in turn, prompt the formation of shared beliefs and behaviors. Of course, the commonalities are far from the whole story. Even those of you who grew up in the same country also had unique teen experiences, based on your family’s socioeconomic background, your parents’ philosophies, and a host of other factors. But the prominent events you share – particularly during formative teen years – are what give your generation its defining characteristics.

After defining the concept of generation, Tammy Erickson proceeds with a comparison between Indian and American generations. I would like you to consider her observations and add your own thoughts and comments on the generation we (myself and most of you currently contributing to the ELB) belong to, called Generation Y (also known as Generation Next or the Millenials).

Generation Y – Born from 1980 to 1995

Globally, Generation Ys‘ immersion in personal technology enabled this generation to experience many of the same events and, as a result, develop as the most globally similar generation yet. Acts of terrorism and school violence were among this generation’s most significant shared formative events. The random nature of terrorism – in which inexplicable things happen unexpectedly to anyone at any time – left many Y‘s with the view that it is logical to live life fully now. Around the world, this generation has a sense of immediacy that is often misinterpreted by older co-workers as impatience.

In the U.S., Y‘s teen years were marked by an unprecedented bull market and a strong pro-child culture. As a result, they are optimistic, goal-oriented, and very family-centric.

In India, the late 1990’s and 2000’s saw the development of a large middle-class and increased demand for and production of many consumer goods – in many ways, a situation reminiscent of the U.S. Traditionalists‘ experience with a rapidly expanding pie. The Indian economy grew under liberalization and reform policies, the country was stable and prosperous, and political power changed hands without incident. India became a prestigious educational powerhouse and respected source of IT talent. By 2008, 34 Indian companies were listed in Forbes Global 2000 ranking.

Y’s in India share the generation’s global sense of immediacy, coupled with the excitement of being part of the country’s first wave of broad economic opportunity. As a result, young employees in India tend to share the rapid tempo of U.S. Y’s ambitions, but with a greater emphasis on financial reward as a desired outcome. They have come of age in an exciting, dynamic country with significant economic opportunity. Most are entrepreneurial and business savvy, as well as technologically capable and connected. Their mental model is heavily influenced by India’s rich, complex democracy – they easily accept diversity of opinion – as well as by the Western heritage of laws and customs left from the old days of British rule, making them strongly suited for global interaction.

If you like to learn more about Tammy Erickson’s take on various generations, have a look at her two videos you can down-load from the “Leading Across the Ages” site. More articles by the author on career advice for Generation X (the people  in their 30s or 40s), on Gen Xers’ dissatisfaction at work and other topics now available online.

Wikipedia lists as the next generation the one referred to as Generation Z, Generation I, Digital Natives, Gen. Tech, or the internet generation.

People from this generation  were born between the mid-1990s and the late 2000s. The oldest members of this generation were born during the late-1990s, usually with the start year of 1997, and the youngest of the generation were born during a baby boomlet around the time of the 2008 Global financial crisis.

What is your opinion about Generation Y in Poland, today? What were its greatest influences and how will it influence the generation(s) to come? You may think about the influence of communism on the current Polish mentality in forms you remember from early childhood, your parents or other people, as well as in other forms you may experience today.

Do you believe you are part of a certain generation? Why? Why not? In either case, what do you think makes you (and others like you) different (if at all) from older generations?

Whatever your point of view is in the present, do you believe it might change as you grow “younger and wiser”?

Filed under: ■ Generations, ■ Harvard Business Review

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