Useful tips on how to handle a conference call — January 10, 2019

Useful tips on how to handle a conference call

Are you frightened of speaking English in a conference call just because you might not understand?

Speaking English is challenging, but during a conference call and in front of your colleagues, your boss and other business partners can be really stressful!

It can get easier if you follow some tips:

 Prepare Ahead

  • Think about the vocabulary and expressions you would like to use


  • Keep it simple with: Hello/Good morning/Good afternoon

Have some Paper and a Pen

  • You might need to take notes

Show you’re listening

Use expressions such as:

  • Oh, I see
  • Right
  • Exactly

Repeat Important Details

Never be afraid to repeat relevant information to make sure it’s correct.

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask

Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, repetition, or to slow down!



Is there a way to say Befana in English? — January 5, 2019

Is there a way to say Befana in English?

Unfortunately there is not a word for it in English. It simply does not exist in the English tradition.

So, what does the Festivity of Befana match with in the English calendar?

It is the festival of Epiphany, which stems from Greek and stands for manifestation. The Church celebrates this day as the moment when the three Wise Men (also called kings) came to visit the Holy Child in Bethlehem and when the Baby Christ was manifested to the whole world. Their names were Gaspar (India), Melchior (Persia) and Balthasar (Arabia).

This explains why the word Epiphany in English can also stand for a moment of enlightenment, of deep understanding. The Epiphany marks the end of the Christmas season and, in the past you were supposed to take down all Christmas decorations on this day.

Having said that, the Italian Befana resembles the ordinary English witch riding a broom. Yet, it is different to the witches of English descent. Operating a tight flight schedule, the Italian sibling, though old and ugly-looking, delivers gifts to children and never casts spells or any such evil things on individuals or congregations. She brings stockings with candies if you behaved in the year. If you did not, she delivers a stocking with edible sweet charcoal reminding you of your misdeeds.



What are your New Year’s resolutions? — December 28, 2018
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

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