How to translate correctly and fearlessly — November 27, 2018

How to translate correctly and fearlessly

English students very often need translations for themselves and for friends as well. The funniest part of it all is when you need to translate from your language into English. It can drive you nuts, but please, don’t lose heart. Here is some advice for you.

Remember that what you want to translate will be subjected to English readers. So, bear in mind that it has to sound English, and, what sometimes has sense in Italian can sound a conundrum or senseless in English. However, let’s see some common or less common mistakes.

Settimana bianca

In English you cannot possibly say white week as it would be considered as opposed to black week, which does not exist so far. So, you might like to translate this expression as a skiing holiday, which English people will find perfectly understandable.

Faccio il ponte

You would not hopefully like to translate this expression as I’m making a bridge. Think if you were a chef in a restaurant, for example. But you can say instead I’m having a long weekend. In other words, your usual customers would be deprived of your specialities for two-three days but then you would be back and delight them with your dishes once again, rather than challenging them of facing the perils of crossing a bridge that you have built during your short absence.

Sotto la pioggia; Sotto la luna; sotto i riflettori

The cat is under the table, say kids. It wouldn’t ’be possible for you to say under the rain. But you can well say I was out in the rain and I’m drenched now. If this sounds difficult, try to remember the song Dancing in the rain.

Under the moon would not be possible either, as it suggests that you are exactly under that gorgeous planet, not an inch more to the left or to the right. So, to begin with, try to analyse what the original expression in Italian stands for. Does it not mean, perhaps, that you are enjoying the moonlight and Romeo or Juliet have long gone green with envy?

In fact, you can translate this expression as in the moonlight.

Though a big fan of the Italian singer Zucchero, the lyrics in English in his song Baila Morena, I fear, should have been in the moonlight / sotto luna piena (not: under the moonlight).

The same goes for sotto i riflettori. In English it matches in the spotlight.


translate blog


Not only Black Friday — November 21, 2018

Not only Black Friday

The first recorded use of the term “Black Friday” was applied not to holiday shopping but to financial crisis: specifically, the crash of the U.S. gold market on September 24, 1869.

Back in the 1950s, police and bus drivers in the city of Philadelphia used the term to describe the heavy traffic that would clog city streets the day after Thanksgiving as shoppers headed to the stores.

However, companies didn’t like the negative tone associated with the Black Friday name. In the early 1980s, a more positive explanation of the name began to circulate.

According to this alternative explanation, Black Friday is the day when retailers finally begin to turn a profit for the year. In accounting terms, operating at a loss (losing money) is called being “in the red” because accountants traditionally used red ink to show negative amounts (losses).

Positive amounts (profits) were usually shown in black ink. Thus, being “in the black” is a good thing because it means stores are operating at a profit (making money).

The recent popularity of Black Friday has created a couple of new shopping holidays: Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. For those who are too busy to shop on Black Friday — or who just don’t want to fight the crowds — the Monday following Black Friday has become known as Cyber Monday for the many online deals that shoppers can take advantage of from the comfort of their homes.  GivingTuesday was established in 2012 as a day of generosity and philanthropy. On the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, individuals, organizations and communities celebrate and encourage giving to charities and those in need. What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays!

Idioms in Everyday Life — November 14, 2018

Idioms in Everyday Life

The definition of an idiom is, a phrase or expression from which we cannot deduct the exact mean from those specific words. This is particularly unhelpful for those who are learning English as a second language. Like with learning any words or phrases in English, idioms require some memorization and practice. Opposed to your menotinous grammar, however, idoms can be fun! You may also find some idioms have the same meaning in your own language. We use them most often in daily conversation amongst friends or colleagues. Many idioms include humor and are therefore used in casual environments and will gain a laugh in responce. Not only is it enjoyable to find the hidden meanings of idioms, but when using them you are submerging deeper into the English language and culture. Your native English compatriats will be surprised and pleased when you give these idioms a try!


Beat around the bush:

Avoid saying what you mean, usually because it’s uncomfortable.

“Stop beating around the bush, you can tell me anything!”


Better late than never:

It’s better to arrive late than not at all.

“I wasn’t sure if we would see you today, but better late than never!”


Call it a day:

To stop working on something.

“We have been trying for an hour, let’s call it a day!”


Back to the drawing board:

Start something over.

“This plan clearly won’t work, back to the drawing board!”


Break a leg:

To wish good luck in a performance or presentation.

“Break a leg tonight!”


Hang in there:

Don’t give up.

“I know it’s been a long day but, hang in there.”


It’s not rocket science:

It’s not complicated.

“We can do this, it’s not rocket science!”


Make a long story short:

Tell something briefly.

“To make a long story short, this is what happened….”


On the ball:

Doing a good job.

“Wow, she was on the ball in the presentation!”


Pull someone’s leg:

To joke with someone.

“ That’s not true, you’re pulling my leg!”


So far so good:

Things are going well up to now.

“I thought I wouldn’t like it, but so far so good!”


The best of both worlds:

The ideal situation.

“He really does have the best of both worlds.”


Time flies when you’re having fun:

You don’t notice how long something lasts when you enjoy it.

“What a wonderful afternoon, time flies when you’re having fun!”


Under the weather:


“I’m feeling under the weather today.”


We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it:

Not wanting to talk about the problem at the moment, or maybe it has not occured yet.

“Let’s not worry about it now, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”


Wrap your head around something:

To try and understand something complicated.

“I am just trying to wrap my head around that possibility.”


Try these idoms with friends and coworkers and enjoy the dive into the English language culture, break a leg!


“Avventure a Borgo Gioioso” a lacustrine tale written for the adults but to be read while one is still a kid — November 13, 2018

“Avventure a Borgo Gioioso” a lacustrine tale written for the adults but to be read while one is still a kid

Venerdì 9 novembre 2018 abbiamo presentato presso la nostra sede principale il libro di Marco Pareti Avventure a Borgo Gioioso, con la traduzione  in Inglese a cura del Living Language Institute.

In numerosi hanno assitito a questa piacevole serata nella quale hanno anche partecipato  l’autore Marco Pareti, la illustratrice del libro Sara Belia, la nostra Direttrice Sandra Gasparetti e la nostra Coordinatrice di Inglese Clara Bove.

libro Pareti

presentazione libro 2

presentazione libro 3

Happy Halloween! — October 31, 2018
How to make the right impression on a prospective employer and get the job of your dreams? Part II — September 24, 2018

How to make the right impression on a prospective employer and get the job of your dreams? Part II

During the interview:

In part one of this series, we examined some useful, I hope, tips to effectively prepare for a job interview.  Now, let’s focus on what to expect during the interview itself and how to deal with those tricky questions….

Yes, probably the prospective employer will ask some tricky questions.  For example, they will certainly ask what your biggest defect is.  Don’t say “I’m often late for meetings” or  “I just can’t seem to get on with my colleagues.” Do all you can to turn a weakness into a strength for the employer.  For example, don’t say “I’m very demanding with others and consequently they avoid working with me.”  Rather say “I’m rather demanding with myself and thrive on diversity.”

Moreover, they will probably ask you to define yourself with three, maximum four adjectives.  Again, don’t be generic.  Be specific.  Think carefully and try to come up with specific adjectives that clearly identify you.  Your prospective employer must, to some extent, see you reflected in those adjectives.

And lastly, they will ask why they should hire you.  Tell them you have the right skills and competencies to make a difference in the company.  Be careful, though.  Don’t sound overconfident.  Simply let them know that you have ideas you would like to share with them.  Ideas you believe can be developed by the company.

To sum up then.  Think of your biggest defect and turn it into an opportunity.  Define yourself using specific adjectives and give them a good reason to take you on board.

After the interview, thank the interviewer and leave as soon as possible.

What should I do now?  We’ll consider this question in part three of this series.

How to make the right impression on a prospective employer and get the job of your dreams? Part I — September 20, 2018

How to make the right impression on a prospective employer and get the job of your dreams? Part I

Landing the right job often depends on what impression you initially make at the first job interview.  Let’s face it, we judge by appearances.  So, how can I prepare for that job interview that may get me the job I’ve  always wanted?  In part one of this series, we’ll look at some basic tips to keep in mind before the interview.  In the second part, we’ll consider tips to bear in mind during the interview and in the last part we’ll quickly examine what to do after the job interview.  So let’s begin!

Part 1: before the interview

You finally get that call from that company you’ve been always wanting to work for.  They are impressed by your C.V. and want you to pop in for an interview.  You are thrilled at the idea of finally realising a lifelong ambition.  How should you prepare for this interview though?

First thing, do your homework.  Do as much research as you can on the company.  Find out how much profit they made last year, if they expanded overseas and if yes, where.  Show the company you know about them and you want to join a winning team.

Secondly, dress smart but conservative.  Don’t call too much attention to yourself, let your abilities and skills speak for you.  Avoid flashy colours.

Thirdly, get to the interview on time, not too early and not late.  Five minutes before is the usual standard.

Fourth, turn off your mobile phone before entering the interview room.  If you forget to turn it off and it rings during the interview, simply turn it off without checking who is calling.  Now we can begin with the interview.

In part two we will see what to do and not to do during the interview.

(to follow)



Back to work – back to decent English — September 4, 2018

Back to work – back to decent English

So, how are you doing? Is the post-holiday period over? Are you still wrestling with the idea that you must work now?

However, for some English students, the real issue seems to be that of switching from Span-Port-Germ-French – English into standard English.

What we might suggest you do is to slowly try to get back into track. For example,  start watching a movie in English (your favourite sit-com, if you have one, would be fine too). Then, you might try to read out loud one or two dialogues in English. This will help you for a more correct pronunciation as well as recall the sound of genuine English  phonemes.

In three or four days from now you will have fully recovered from the funny language-mixing disease, hoping that the memories of the relaxing holidays will outlast the pressure inevitably brought on you by the everyday routine.


backt to work blog

Taking off from the Intermediate Plateau — June 26, 2018

Taking off from the Intermediate Plateau

On Monday June 18th the Living Language Institute was invited by the Pearson Academy to a special event held at the British Council in Rome, featuring the release of the new Speakout Intermediate Plus and Advanced Plus Student’s book with DVD-ROM. Speakers included Antonia Clare, Andrew Howarth and Donatella Fitzgerald.

Antonia, in particular, shared with us some useful insights on how to motivate intermediate students to, so to say, take off from the intermediate level and soar to higher levels of lexical and grammatical accuracy. The idea is to boost the student’s confidence empowering them to go beyond the comfort zone.

The speaker underlined that the above can be achieved through specific individual and/or group tailor-made activities which she demonstrated abundantly during her presentation.

It was a truly pleasant meeting and we are grateful to the Pearson Academy for the opportunity extended to us and we are eager to put to good use the valuable information.

foto libri Pearson

Culture hidden in vocabularies — June 8, 2018

Culture hidden in vocabularies

Every language belongs to a certain culture. This is an indisputable fact which we can notice studying a new language. Sometimes we may feel surprised by the number of words the mother tongues use in different countries to name apparently the same concept.

A common example which shows the situation when the language mirrors the culture is the one of Inuits. They are the native inhabitants of the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada and Alaska. Researchers have studied the language of this ethnic group and have discovered that their vocabulary is distinguished from others by the use of terms meaning “snow”. In fact, Inuits keep the notion of snow straight in their minds and name it in plentiful ways. As they live where the snow doesn’t lack, they are used to it and they notice the differences between its kinds, its way of melting, and other phenomena related to it. The research on the language has shown that the Inuit glossary contains more than 400 expressions while English, and other languages, presents a significantly lower number.

The way snow is comprehended by some cultures illustrates how languages work, which means how they adapt to the reality they belong to. Every culture has its own view of the world and it can be easily seen in language. The point is that if a society meets something on the everyday basis, it gives the concept many names making a distinction between its multiple sorts. At the same time, if the same notion doesn’t occur or is a rarity in other societies, the names for it are few. That is why, Hawaiians have 65 terms for fishing nets, 108 for sweet potato, 42 for sugarcane and 47 for bananas. Similarly, Scots describes rainy weather, Somalis camels and the Baniwa tribe living in Brazil uses 29 words to name ants.

As we have seen, languages are inherent to cultures. By studying a new language, you assume a new perspective and you get to know things you were unaware of. Obviously, more the culture is distant from yours, more surprises wait for you.


By Kaja Brąz