Author Archives: Ian

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English-only please

Category : Business English

English language skills have never been more important as more and more international companies adopt English-only policies.

Even companies based in France and Japan are switching to English as their official language.

They say it’s more efficient for employees in different countries to work in English.

Is your English good enough to communicate with confidence with colleagues, suppliers and clients around the world? 

Click here to read more (source: BBC news)

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New English test for London drivers!

Do you think London taxi drivers should speak English?

It may seem a strange question to ask when London could be regarded as the centre of the English speaking world.

Yet many London drivers don’t speak English very well, especially Uber drivers. Some of them can hardly speak English at all. Not great when you want to go somewhere in a hurry!

Transport for London (TfL) now wants all London licensed private hire drivers to take an English test if their English doesn’t meet the required standard.

TfL says: “It is essential for public safety that all licensed private hire drivers are able to communicate in English at an appropriate level. Drivers need to be able to communicate with passengers to discuss a route or fare, as well as read, understand and respond to important regulatory, safety and travel information sent by TfL.”

Not surprisingly, Uber doesn’t agree. It says the test is discriminatory against drivers who do not come from an English speaking country.

I think Uber is wrong. Surely it’s sensible that all licensed private hire drivers learn to speak an appropirate level of English to be able to communicate reasonably well with their passengers.

In fact anyone doing a job which requires communication skills in English needs to make sure they have enough English to be able to understand, and be understood, in the workplace.

If you are non-native English speaker and you need to improve your English, I can help.

For information on the TfL English test, click here.

For information on Uber’s legal challenge, click here.

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English language and the EU. What next?

Could the English language be dropped as the official language of the EU?

“If we don’t have the UK, we don’t have English,” according to Danuta Hübner, chairwoman of the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee. (source: Daily Telegraph)

brexitIs this really likely? I can’t see everyone reaching for their French or German dictionaries just yet. The UK may be exiting the EU but Ireland and Malta are still flying the flag for English speakers even if they registered their official languages as Gaelic and Maltese respectively.

English is the global language of business and the main working tongue of European Union institutions. The use of English as an everyday language of business communication is increasing, not just in Europe but worldwide.

More and more business professionals in Europe are asking me to help them improve their English to get a job and do business more effectively with their international contacts.

If the EU drops English, it could be seen as an “isolationist” move, just like the Brexit move which triggered it. The UK maybe be exiting but I think the English language will be with the EU and its institutions for quite some time.

Read more here:

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Why I’m voting to stay in the EU.

Category : Editing , English coaching

On Thursday June 23, the people of the UK will vote to leave or remain in the EU. I will be voting to stay.

I am a British European who believes that the EU and its member states are stronger if they work together.

brexitI teach English to non-native business people in Europe. I edit business communications for European businesses. I am a British native but I am also a former immigrant – I lived and worked in France for 5 years. I know the importance of free movement and doing business with other countries in the EU. 

Of course the EU has problems. It is far too bureaucratic, wastes millions of pounds every year and makes some potty decisions. However, I think its members should work together to reform it instead of complaining and then leaving.

Many people in the UK believe the biggest problem with the EU is the lack of controls on immigration but they forget that hundreds of thousands of UK citizens emigrate to other EU countries every year. Immigration is not a UK problem, or a European problem, it is a global issue that can only be tackled by countries working together.

I hope the majority of citizens in the UK vote to remain in the EU and we start the business of reform from within.

For more information, visit the BBC’s online guide on the referendum.

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Small words, big impact

You don’t need big words to impress people. In fact, the opposite is true when it comes to business communication.

Face to Face“I love you,” for example.

You can’t get much simpler than that. If used at the right time, in the right circumstances, these three little words can mean the world.

Of course you’re not going to say “I love you” to a customer, or maybe you are? It all depends on who you are talking to and how you want them to feel.

This is what makes some business communication work much better than others. The words you use must be the right ones for your target audience. It doesn’t matter if you want to communicate face to face, online or in print, the same rules apply.

It’s about selection. You just need to choose a few simple words that work well together.

That’s where I come in. I help you say what you want – in plain English – in a way that engages the people that matter to you. Whether you are a native or non-native English speaker, an individual or a global business, I can help you use words more effectively.

Do I love you? I just might.

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Is content king? Only if it grabs you.

Everyone says “content is king” but what does it really mean?

Many people think it means writing as much as possible and targeting everyone.

Do a quick google search, open a few web pages, check out your latest twitter feed. It won’t be long before you’re impatiently looking for something pertinent.

content pencilThe problem is a lot of content is written by people who don’t understand what they are writing about or who they are targeting. And many “writers” forget that less is more. They lose sight of the reader.

So I’ll keep this short. When you want to write about your business, products, services or people, remember to ask yourself:

1. Who am I writing for?

2. What do I want the reader to do?

3. Do I understand the subject?

4. How do I make it clear and compelling?

5. What tone should I use to be consistent with my brand?

If you don’t have the time or resources to do it yourself, employ a proven content writer, or at the very least get a specialist to proofread what you’ve written. You may find it will not only save you money, it will help you engage your target audience and lift your brand.

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NEW! Homestay in London

Would you like to learn English fast? Come to London!

I now offer bed and breakfast packages in my home in South London with the option to learn English too.

picadillybedStay in a cosy double room with your own private bathroom. Visit interesting places in London. Have private individual lessons. Speak real English with local people. Live like a Londoner.

It’s a real English holiday!

Choose from 3 packages:

1. B&B Solo

The cheapest way to visit London. Stay in a double room with your own private bathroom in my apartment in South London. Practise your English during breakfast and then go and explore the city!

2. B&B Explorer 

A fantastic way to discover London with a local guide (me!) and practise English at the same time. After breakfast, I’ll help you decide where to visit in London and I’ll accompany you for a morning or afternoon, or all day! I’ll help you speak English with the locals and I’ll give you support and feedback. 

3. B&B Total English

A total immersion English learning programme combining private, individual lessons in my home with guided visits in London. The programme will be specially created for you so you can learn the English you need for business or pleasure. It’s a chance to improve your English, practice in real situations and experience the real London with a personal guide and teacher. Evenings will be free for you to explore London or relax at home.

Click here and tell me what package you are interested in and I will send you more information.


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Speaking English is more important than ever

Speaking English is not just helpful in the UK, it may soon be compulsory.

The Government wants tougher English language requirements on people who live in the UK.  This includes husbands, wives and partners.

Prime Minister David Cameron has already announced a policy for Muslim women in the UK to be encouraged to learn English. The Government says there are 38,000 Muslim women living in the UK who do not speak English and 190,000 have limited skills in the language.

Of course, it shouldn’t be limited to Muslim women. Anybody who lives in the UK should be expected to speak at least a basic level of English. It’s logical.

survival englishLearning English will help you find a job, do your job more effectively, fill in documents and forms, register for health care, make new friends and contacts, and do all the day to day things in life that native speakers take for granted.

I lived in France for five years so I know the difficulties of surviving in a country with a different language. I had a reasonable knowledge of French before I moved and learnt more while I was there. I had to. If I hadn’t, it would have been very difficult to find work, integrate into French society and feel valued.

If you need to improve your English to live in the UK, or any other English speaking country, do it now. It’s not just a question of survival, it’s a question of integrating, being able to stay, and having a better life.

Click here to find out about English lessons


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Find a better job by improving your English


January is the time when many people think about changing job. If you are a non-native English speaker and you need English for work, you need to make sure your English is good enough to apply for, and do the job you want.Face to Face

Can you write your CV in English without mistakes? Are you confident you can complete a job application in English and succeed in an interview? What about using English every day at work?

English Cup of Tea helps you learn learn the English you need to find work and do your job more effectively. We edit and proofread CVs, we help with job applications and we give you the language you need to communicate in English with people around the world.

Improving your English could change your life! Click here to find out more.

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English for global companies

International companies need to be understood around the world. This means publishing clear, engaging content in English.

The problem is how do you ensure the English is accurate and compelling, especially if English is not your native language?

There are three key factors to consider:

1. The quality of the original text.

2. The quality of the translation

3. The quality of the proofreading.

proofreadingIf corporate communications are written badly in the first place, the translation will be even worse. They key is to focus on the reader, keep things simple, use short sentences and break up the copy into small, “bite-size” chunks of information.

Writing clearly isn’t enough. The translation needs to be accurate and reader-friendly. This is where most international corporate communications fall short. The problem is the translators may not be completely bi-lingual and they may not understand your messages, your business or even your industry.

To avoid costly errors, you need the translated content to be checked by a native English-speaker and communications expert. You need someone who takes time to understand what you want to say and to whom; someone who ensures brand consistency and tone of voice, and someone with experience of editing content for global businesses.

In short, you need English Cup of Tea!