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Business English at RMIT

Check this post to find out course dates, homework and learning tips. Lessons are at 8:30am on Tuesdays. We've decided to work with Business Grammar Builder (BSB) by Paul Emmerson.

Useful resources

These include:

  • A good English language dictionary app such as the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • Skell a corpus language tool - so you can find out how words are used in real life.

  • A good translation tool such as Deepl

  • BBC Learning English - follow on Facebook, Instagram or use the website

  • British Council - useful for grammar explanations

Activities at home

If you have time, it's a good idea to start reading some of my blog posts on grammar, useful resources and learning tips. I'd also like you to start watching videos in English. Here are some that you might like.

In class

Lesson 58 - 18 June

I'd like you to listen to one episode of 6-minute English before the lesson. Can you get yourself a book where you can write words you've learned in the lesson. Aim to write about 5-10 words per lesson.

Lesson 57 - 11 June

We had a good lesson revising the passive voice. You learned to use the past simple with words such as yesterday, last week and 500 years ago. Other learning points included saying there were two of us rather than we were two.

Lesson 56 - 4 June

We had a great lesson today – I'm very impressed with the progress you're making. Here is a selection of what we talked about:

  • if and whether

  • me neither/ nor do I

  • using 'absolutely' with extreme adjectives. Read more here

  • explain (not 'explain me')

  • Word order for adjectives and adverbs

  • Pronunciation - doubt, bought, thought - remember to check Youglish

Lesson 55 - 28 May

Today we had a look at Destination B2 - unit 2. You learned words such as fare and fee, paddle and pedal. We also talked about the pronunciation of voyage, hotel and during and I reminded you to use Youglish.

Lesson 54 - 14 May

We did revision on verb patterns in the lesson and continued with phrasal verbs (test 10). Words we discussed included approximately, round about and roundabout, facing up to a problem and getting along with your colleagues.

We also discovered another phrase which fits into the to + 'ing pattern (which I've added to the list from last week). For homework, I'd like you to finish test 10.

I would also gently encourage you to read a book in English. Here are some suggestions that my other students have enjoyed.

Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Olive Tree by Lucinda Riley

Finally, why not read some of my blog posts on verb patterns as a bit of revision. This one is about to + 'ing and this one deals with the to + infinitive form and the verb + 'ing.

Lesson 53 - 7 May

We had a really interesting lesson today loosely based on test 10 - phrasal verbs. We talked about the difference between cut up, cut off cut down and cut it out.

We also looked at some examples of to + 'ing such as

I am looking forward to seeing you.

I am not used to getting up so early.

He objected to paying so much.

I still have got around to marking the tests.

You also asked about the difference (if any) between past simple and present perfect in sentences such as:

Have you had a good week?

Did you have a good week?

I've lost my phone.

I lost my phone.

We'll talk about this more next lesson. Vocab to learn from today's lesson includes cut up, cut down on and cut it out. See you next Tuesday.

No lessons - 23 April and 30 April

Lesson 52 - 16 April

Today we looked at time adverbs in unit 40 and revised the present perfect (I have known my best friend for ages.)

Vocabulary we talked about included ex-colleague/ former colleague, joint venture, subsidiary, sound (adj), constrict - think of a boa constrictor snake, deliberately and damage (v).

I've just done some research and although joint ventures are often 50:50, other splits are possible. A joint venture is often set up for research purposes but there are other reasons that companies might decide to enter into a joint venture.

Lesson 51 - 9 April

Today we looked at unit 39 - adverbs of frequency in particular the following patterns

  • too + adjective to + verb (It was too cold to go outside.)

  • so + adjective, that clause (It was so cold that we stayed inside.)

Lesson 50 - 2 April

Today we looked at the 'ing form - remember it isn't just used in continuous tenses, we also use it in lots of other ways. For homework, I'd like you to check out the main verbs on page 82 which are followed by 'ing verbs and write sentences including the verbs - e.g. She recommended watching the film in a cinema rather than at home.

Some of the vocabulary from today's lesson included afford, fluctuate, make sure, submit and essential.

Lesson 49 - 26 March

Do you think we have more or less free time than people used to have? Watch this this short film to find out.

In class we will practice the 'ing form.

Lesson 48 - 19 March

Before the lesson I'd like you to think about the advantages and disadvantages of a 4-day week. Read this article and tell us in class. We'll also finish unit 38 during the lesson.

The words we learned today included 4-day week, easier, busier, roughly the same, approximately the same and imagine + 'ing. Can you imagine working from home 5 days a week? Have a think about this and tell me next week!

Lesson 47 - 12 March

Today we looked at unit 37 and made a start on unit 38. Words and phrases we discussed included preferred supplier, sales figures, virtually, dollars and by far.

Lesson 46 - 5 March

We had a freestyle lesson practicing questions and conditionals.

Lesson 45 - 27 February

Before the lesson, I'd like you to read this article about greeting strangers. The vocabulary in the article is quite tough. Don't try to understand it all but do pick out two or three words that you would like to learn.

In class we did unit 36 - adjectives and adverbs.

Vocab we discussed today included tight deadline, convenient, Greek, psychological, the same floor, pay for, well-known and money laundering. Remember that we don't say 'we know us since...' but 'we have known each other since...'

Lesson 44 - 20 February

We finished test 8 on conditionals and talking about wishes.

Some of the words we talked about in terms of pronunciation included launched, technology, collapsed and dessert. We also looked at stressing words such as 'can't' in sentences. Finally, you also learned the plural of crisis (crises).

13 February - no lesson

Lesson 43 - 6 February

We spent a lot of time practising the conditionals today (if sentences). In terms of vocabulary we learned 'recognise' and 'inquiry'. If you have the time you could read this interview with Usain Bolt to see the third conditional being used in real life. (You might have read it already as I have shared it with you before.)

Lesson 42 - 30 January

We did test 7 questions and unit 35 on articles. We learned about tag questions which usually (not always) involve a positive/ negative switch and that we tend to say 'in hospital', 'in court' and 'in school' rather than 'in the hospital' and so on. In terms of pronunciation we looked at suit, cathedral, opera, flood, abundant and daughter. Next week we'll be practicing the conditionals.

Lesson 41 - 23 January

We looked at unit 34 on articles today. The words you learned included marvellous, retailing, comparable and rational. In terms of pronunciation, we mentioned demand, produce, manufacturer, turbines and exceptional.

We also talked about majority and minority and whether these words are used with the indefinite article (a) or the definite article (the). I suggest you check this out using Skell and tell me what you think next week.

Lesson 40 - 16 January

Today we talked about apostrophes and compound nouns in unit 33. I suggested you use Ngrams to compare 'staff meetings' and 'team meetings'. I've also looked at Skell and found that 'redundancy payment' is much more frequent than 'redundancy compensation'.

You learned the expression 'capital expenditure' and the pronunciation of patients, Australia, legislation and record keeping.

Lesson 39 - 9 January

We finished looking at test 5 - the passive and talked about reading an English-language newspaper such as The Guardian, The New York Times or The Economist magazine. New vocabulary included vouch, notify, subsidise and elections. In terms of pronunciation, I suggest you practice certificate, climate, encouraging, schemes and anxiety.

There will be no lessons on Tuesday 26 December and Tuesday 2 January.

Lesson 38 - 19 December

As it was the last lesson before Christmas we decided to play Articulate for Kids. We talked about the following words - wheels, wool, pig sty, florist, cushion, mouse trap, knitting, disguise, shapes, witch, wizard and warlock. You learned that the piece of water between England and France is called the English Channel (in England at least) and you learned how to pronounce iron and sewing machine. Brits put petrol in the tank and Americans use gas. 'Tanken' is not a verb in English. If you want to do your make up you might sit at a dressing table. If you want to expand your vocabulary, reading is great - as is playing games like Articulate.

Lesson 37 - 12 December

Today we did some revision of the passive - test 5 in the book. As well as the passive, we learned a few words (ingredients and edible) and you were given some pronunciation tips - authority, motorway, city postponed and Carla!!

Lesson 36 - 5 December

We finished unit 31. Vocabulary included a horse's coat, convince and persuade and making up your own mind. In terms of grammar we mentioned could have sentences to talk about past (regrets).

  • Couldn't you have postponed the flight?

  • You could have saved some money.

Lesson 35 - 28 November

We talked about courage, time, freedom, money and football (last week's homework) and then moved onto unit 31 - pronouns. The vocabulary I wrote down included riding pillion, apprenticeship, muscles, taught and according to. We don't drive bikes, we ride them and we don't say 'I am working here since five years', we say I've been working here for five years.

Lesson 34 - 21 November

Today we talked about the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. In particular we mentioned five nouns that often trip up German speakers - feedback. homework, advice, information and furniture. These are all uncountable in English - meaning there is no plural version.

For homework, I'd like you to finish unit 30 including writing your answers to question 4 on page 129. As I mentioned in class, it's not necessary to start your sentence with the word. For example you might write, 'it takes a lot of courage to...'

Lesson 33 - 14 November

More work on relative clauses today and for homework I'd like you to read an article from The Guardian about the dangers of being on a mountain as it contains some authentic examples of relative clauses. The vocabulary we discussed included hostile, inflamed, minority, iron ore and medicine (not medicament). Pronunciation included visitor, viable and heard.

Lesson 32 - 7 November

We had a quick look at Unit 43 - Developing an Argument, then did a role play based on a real life work situation. Vocab included expressions such as 'as a rule', 'on the whole' and 'as a matter of fact'. We also talked about pronunciation of au words in English - such as autumn, aura and audio. Finally, one thing to practice is using adverbs (not adjectives) in expressions such as speak openly and work closely.

Lesson 31 - 31 October

We looked at Unit 28 - Relative Clauses. The vocab we discussed included among others (unter uns), sound = reliable, good quality, return on equity, KPIs and a tight deadline.

Lesson 30 - Tuesday 24th October

Today we did Test 4 - talking about the future. The main things you learned included:

  • Don't only use 'will' to talk about the future, there are other options

  • Remember the contracted form of 'will' - this is often better in spoken language

  • Will is not used after certain words (until, after etc). See unit 8

Lesson 29 - 10 October

Great questions today, as usual. We learned lots of vocabulary including upended, admit, refuse, deny and rely on.

Lesson 28 - 3 October

We looked at reported speech in unit 26. As homework, I'd like you to finish unit 26. Can you also read this article before next week. We'll discuss the choice of tenses used.

Lesson 27 - 16 September

Great lesson practicing verb tenses - test 3 - connecting past and present.

Lesson 26 - 19 September

We looked at unit 25 (make and do) which I would like you to finish for homework.

I also suggested that you write questions based upon the prompts from unit 24. This will give us lots to talk about in future lessons.

Lesson 25 - 12 September

We looked at unit 24 - the -ing form. In particular we practised 'be used to + 'ing'

  • I'm not used to eating breakfast

  • I'm not used to waking up early

  • The younger generation are not used to working hard

I reminded you of some important verbs followed by 'ing including enjoy, avoid, recommend, suggest and imagine.

For homework I'd like you to finish unit 24 and practise more sentences with 'be used to + 'ing'

Lesson 24 - 5 September

We finished our revision of past tenses (test 2) including 'used to' and past perfect (he had already done it). I was asked about the difference between 'in the beginning' and 'at the beginning' and suggested that people use Skell and Ngrams to investigate this. Here are the links

Lesson 23 - 29 August

Today we did some revision of the vocabulary we learned last week and started to revise past tenses (test 2). Vocabulary we discussed included the words from 15 August and asSERtive, comPETitors, CRITicicsm, parTICularly, PHOTograph and phoTOGrapher. Next week we'll continue with test 2. Homework is to learn the irregular verbs on p.240 - 241. I suggest you learn 7 each week.

Lesson 22 - 22 August

Today we finished Test 1 on present tenses and looked at Unit 23 - phrasal verbs 2.

Lesson 21- 15 August

In today's lesson we did some revision on present tenses - pages 210 - 211. Vocabulary we learned included reliable, currently, recently and subsidiary. We always practised the pronunciation of words including reliable, fraud, hotel, heard, nowadays and chocolates.

Lesson 20 - 8 August

Today we talked about transitive and intransitive verbs:

  • The sun rises (intransitive)

  • The company raised its prices last week (transitive)

We also practised using words like suggest, describe and explain and talked about the difference between lend and borrow.

No lessons on Tuesday 25th July and Tuesday 1st August.

Lesson 19 - 18 July

This week we continued with verb patterns - looking at words such as remember, regret, try and stop which can be followed by +'ing or + to + inf with a change in meaning.

We learned the meaning of bribe, resent and resilient and did some word transformation with words such as decide, persuade, acquire and resent. We also talked about the difference between investment banking and commercial banking.

For homework, please finish unit 20.

If you have time, I'd also like you to start watching videos in English. Here are some that you might like.

Lesson 18 - 11 July

In today's lesson we looked at verb patterns. Verbs including avoid, imagine, suggest, recommend and consider are followed by 'ing verbs whereas many verbs are followed by the more usual to + infinitive pattern.

The vocabulary we discussed included advertise, persuade, persuasion and persuasive and (manufacturing) plant.

For homework, please finish unit 19 and try this Quizlet set.

Lesson 17 - 4 July

Today we practised the third conditional and learned some different ways of expressing 'if'. The vocabulary we talked about included significantly, range, slid and slide. We also talked about the pronunciation of PRESent (n) and preSENT (v).

As usual, I'd like you to finish the unit for homework.

You can also read this interview with Usain Bolt to see the third conditional being used in real life.

Lesson 16 - 27 June

You all did very well with the first and second conditional.

  • First - What will you do if...

  • Second - What would you do if...

I learned that if you find money in the street you are obliged to hand it in (it's ok if it is 10chf or less) and that I shouldn't be worried about seeing a tiger in the forest as there are no longer any big cats in Zurich Zoo.

Vocabulary we discussed included labour force, contract (make smaller), unsustainable, extinct and proportionate. 'What's in it for me?' is a direct way of asking why you should do something.

Lesson 15 - 20 June

We looked at indirect questions and question tags and how to make small talk. Next week we'll look at conditionals.

Lesson 14 - 13 June

Can you remember what we talked about today? Here's a quick reminder:

  • 'ing forms

  • questions

  • modal verbs - being polite

  • contracted forms (I'll = I will)

  • using there are instead of we are

Some of you also learned a few new words including forecast, major and cold spell.

For homework please finish units 14 and 15 and read page 70. See you next week!

Lesson 13 - 6 June

Today we continued with unit 3 modal verbs and you realised that you already knew a lot of the answers. The vocabulary we discussed included shortage, misery, deduction (Ableitung), defined and transcends. We also talked about the pronunciation of verbs ending in -ed.

For homework I'd like you to review some of what we have done already. There are tests in the back of the book that you can try. Please also read page 62.

Finally, if you want to start watching more videos in English, I've added a link to one of my blog posts with some of my favourite recommendations. (See the top of this page in useful resources).

Lesson 12 - 30 May

Today we brainstormed some learning strategies including the following:

  • ask questions - classmates, teacher, other people

  • answer questions

  • take notes

  • practice

  • repeat

  • pay attention

  • use resources - friends, online, teacher

  • set goals

  • look at the explanations in the book

  • compare to what you already know

We also compared must and have to and learned:

  • Must can be tricky to use

  • Have to generally sounds friendlier

  • Must not = darf nicht (not muss nicht)

I also told you how to say 'Bauchgefühl' in English. If you can't remember, ask Deepl.

As usual the homework is to finish the unit we did in class. Today that was unit 12. It's also a good idea to read the explanations for unit 13. This means we'll be able to do the questions more quickly and you'll have more time to practice speaking.

Have a great week everyone!

PS If you would like to read some more articles in English or watch some interesting videos, check out these two pages on my website.

Lesson 11 - 23 May (unit 11)

We practised using modal verbs today (can/could, will/would, may/might, shall/should and must). In terms of vocabulary we learned that 'overhear' doesn't mean 'überhören and that akquierieren is now used in German for the English word acquire in business contexts. Homework is to finish unit 11. It is also a good idea to read the explanations on page 54 (unit 12) before the lesson.

Lesson 10 - 16 May

We did more work on the passive today (unit 10) and talked about disruptive industries.

I’d still like you to watch the video I mentioned (see below) – it really is very short but at the same time, very informative.

And, for those of you who want to practice the passive in a different way, here is a quick quiz on Kahoot. Good luck and see you all next week.

Lesson 9 - 9 May

Today the passive voice was practiced. The vocabulary we discussed included fermentation, distillation, admittance, foreign and discourage. You asked me the English word for 'Mahnung' - I'm not sure there is a single equivalent. In England a reminder would be sent, then a final reminder. If the debt has still not been paid a county court judgement can be sought and enforced.

If you have time, I'd like you to watch this short video about practising effectively. It will give you some ideas about how you can improve your English. You can use subtitles if you want or read the transcript. It's also possible to slow down the audio in settings.

Next time we'll look at unit 10.

Lesson 8 - 2 May

Today we continued looking at future tenses noting that 'will' isn't used after certain words such as 'when' and 'until'. We learned vocabulary including GDP (BIP in German), odd and even numbers, and ambiguous (which can be deliberate or unintentional). For homework I'd like you to finish unit 8 and do some quick research on Skell comparing the words produce, product and goods. (You'll see that Skell can be useful but does have some limitations.)

No lesson - 25 April

Lesson 7 - 18 April

Unit 7 BSB - future tenses. We also looked at the pronunciation of corporate and sew and talked about the expression 'I won't be long' - it's fine in English but it would be strange to say 'Ich werde nicht lang sein' in German. I suggested you use Skell to see how words such as perhaps and maybe are used. One final thing I noticed but forgot to correct is that the word imagine is followed by an 'ing verb.

I can't imagine doing it (not I can't imagine to do it)

Lesson 6 - 11 April

Unit 6 BSB. The grammar topic was past simple, present perfect simple and present perfect continuous.

In addition, we talked about the different ways of learning a language such as using explanations, comparing sentences or translating to a different language. We also learned that some sentences can be interpreted in more ways than one. Please finish unit 6 for homework

Lesson 5 - 28 March

Today we did unit 5 in BSB. We also talked about uncountable nouns such as advice, information and feedback, going on secondment and using auxiliary do to make questions and negatives. For homework, I'd like you to finish Unit 5.

Lesson 4 - 21 March

Try to finish unit 3 of BSB before the lesson. We'll look at unit 4 in the lesson.

Today we talked about pronunciation of words such as debt, talk, register and Lisbon. We also looked at past perfect, used to and would.

Read this blog post here to find out more about past habit would, including the link to the article I mentioned.

Lesson 3 - 14 March

We've decided to work with Business Grammar Builder by Paul Emmerson. Please try to buy a copy before next week's lesson. In today's lesson we learned vocabulary such as stocks and shares and rallied. We also practised past simple and past continuous.

We looked at the different ways -ed can by pronounced (compare turned, wanted and talked).

Lesson 2 - 7 March

We'll work from Business Grammar Builder. We talked about state verbs, simple and continuing forms (sometimes both are ok), pronunciation and word stress (deVELop). If you have time, finish the unit we worked on today.

Lesson 1 - 28 February

We introduced ourselves and started with unit 1 (present tenses) in Destination B2. Next week we'll try a business English book and then you can decide which you prefer. Homework - if you have time, try to finish pages 8 and 9 in Destination. (Send me an email if you want the answers).


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