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Feb 26 2014

English Lessons Houston Phrasal Verbs 5 for Business English

Phrasal Verbs 5, More Business English Phrasal Verbs

Welcome to the world of English phrasal verbs!  There are lots of them.  In these English lessons, we are going to be looking at phrasal verbs used in Business English.  Some of these phrases are also idioms.   When you become accustomed to using English phrasal verbs, they will be easy for you.  So, let’s get started!

  • Call it a day – to stop doing something

When I finish this report, I’m going to call it a day.

  • Cough up – to pay money

My boss is going to have to cough up and buy a new computer.  The old one is broken.

  • Put someone’s cards on the table – to tell all the facts, to tell the truth  Phrasal Verb Business 4

The management at Petrobras finally put their cards on the table and told us they were going to use another vendor.

  • Put two and two together – to come to understand something

This morning my colleague was very upset and after lunch, I saw him carry his computer out to his car.  I put two and two together and decided that he lost his job.

  • Weather the storm – to go through a difficult time or period

Phrasal Verb Business 1In 2010, Toyota lost a lot of money.  But they weathered the storm and last year they did very well.

  • Turn over a new leaf – to make a big change

After a year of big software problems, our company is going to turn over a new leaf and hire a new group of IT engineers.




  • To talk turkey – to talk openly and directly

The meeting went very well.  The managers were willing to talk turkey and we got a lot done. 

Phrasal Verb Business 2

  • Throw in the towel – to quit something because it’s too difficult

We’ve been trying to fix the problems with this old software.  But I think it’s better to just throw in the towel and start over on a new program.


  • Smell a rat – to believe that something is not right, to be suspicious of something    Phrasal Verb Business 3

When the group from another company visited our warehouse, everyone smelled a rat and decided that our company was being sold. 




Worldwide English teaches private lessons to expats and their spouses in their home or office.  For more information visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com/  or write tojulie@englishlessons-houston.comor call (713) 993-6511. 

Feb 23 2014

English Lessons Houston Part 4 “Business Phrasal Verbs”

English Lessons Houston, Business Phrasal Verbs 4

business phrasal verbs 3

Hi Students!  Welcome to Part 4 of English lessons on Phrasal Verbs.  In this English lesson, we will be studying phrasal verbs that are used in the American business culture.



Power ahead:  To do what needs to be done to get something done.

  • The Chinese government has powered ahead and the economy has grown stronger.
  • Come on!  Let’s power ahead and get this project finished on time.

Break even:  When a company breaks even, they make enough money to pay their bills, but not enough money to make a profit.

  • In 2012, my first year in business, I broke even.  But last year, I made a good profit.  business phrasal verb 4

Get the ball rolling:  To get started.

  • It’s time to start the meeting.  Mr. Yu will get the ball rolling and give us an update. 

Turn around:  When there is a change in business, for example a business begins to make a profit.

  • Last year our company lost money, but this year I think we can turn it around and make a profit.

Join forces:  To work together to get something done.

  • Last week, the software experts and the engineers joined forces to complete the project on time.

Table a discussion or project.  To stop talking about or stop working on something temporarily.

  • My manager agreed to table the discussion about the new budget and talk about it again next month.

phrasal verbs business 1  Scale down:  To slow down or to make smaller.

  • When BP realized that the reservoir project would be very expensive, they decided to scale it down and make it smaller.

Take action:  To do something suddenly.

  • When I realized that the computer system wasn’t working, I took action and called the IT department.

Deal with:  To do business with someone, or to do something about a situation.

  • Davi was coming in late every morning and our supervisor finally dealt with it and told him to be on time or find another job.
  • CNPC is dealing with many vendors in Sudan.

Get behind:  To support something, an idea or a thing.

I want to work for Tricon Energy.  That’s a company I can get behind!phrasal verb business 5

Stress out:  To feel nervous and anxious.

Last week, I had so many projects that I got stressed out and felt sick.

Look ahead:  To think about and plan for the future.  (also “plan ahead”)

The purchasing department is looking ahead and working on the budget for 2015. 


Worldwide English teaches private lessons to expats and their spouses in their home or office.  For more information visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com/  or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com 

Feb 19 2014

English Lessons Houston, Phrasal Verbs with “Down”

English Lessons Houston, Phrasal Verbs 3 “Down”

Hi Students!  Welcome to Part 3 of English lessons on Phrasal Verbs.  In this English lesson, we will be studying phrasal verbs that contain the word “down”.  There are lots of phrases with the word “down” and they have different meanings.

Let’s get started!  Here are a few definitions of the word “down”.    down 7

  1. The word “down” means toward something or in a lower place or position.
  2. It can also mean a lower level of intensity or volume.
  3. “Down” can also mean a feeling, like being unhappy or depressed.

Go/went down:  To move down or to go in a southern direction. (to go south)

  • Janie went down the ladder very slowly.
  • My family is going down to Texas to visit my grandmother.  We will drive from New York.
  • To go to the bank, you need to go down the block and turn right at the corner.

Sit down:  To move from standing to sitting  English lessons Houston down 1

  • My English teacher told me to sit down and be quiet!
  • We have been walking for more than one hour.  Let’s sit down and rest.

To come down in size, quantity, intensity or quality.

  • Your hip-hop music is too loud!   Please turn it down.
  • The quality of food at that restaurant has gone down.  It doesn’t taste good anymore.
  • You are very excited.  Please calm down.   (become more peaceful)

Back down/crack down:  When someone decides to stop what he or she is doing.  When someone forces someone else to stop what they are doing.

  • We were very angry at the man.  When we saw that he had a gun, we backed down and left quickly.
  • People are driving too fast.  Police are going to crack down and start giving more speeding tickets.

English lessons down 3

Something that falls to the ground.

There was a big fire at the theatre and it burned down.

I put a picture on my wall last night but this morning it fell down.

He couldn’t get into the house to help his mother, so he broke the door down.

An activity that has ended.

  • While I was driving to the supermarket, my car broke down.  (stopped running)
  • I was able to track down my old boyfriend on Facebook. (find)

To feel sad or unhappy 

  • Wow!  You look very down today.  Did something happen?
  • My English teacher isn’t going to teach me anymore.  I really feel down about it.    Turn 4

These are the basic phrasal verbs using the word “down”.  Practice using the phrasal verbs so they will become part of your English vocabulary!

Worldwide English teaches private lessons to expats and their spouses in their home or office.  For more information visit http://www.englishlessons-houston.com/  or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com







Feb 09 2014

English Lessons Houston, Phrasal Verbs 2 “Turn”

English Lessons Houston, Phrasal Verbs 2 “Turn”

English lessons Houston turn 1Hi Students!  Let’s continue studying English phrasal verbs.  This lesson, we will be studying phrasal verbs that contain the word “turn”.  There are lots of phrases with the word turn and they mean different things.

Let’s get started!



  1. The word “turn” means to change direction or to go a different way.  Twist, spin, rotate are other words for this meaning of turn. Turn 3
  2. It can also mean to change into something.  To become is another word for this meaning of turn.
  3. It can mean that it’s time for you to do something.  Chance or opportunity are other words for this meaning of turn.

Turn up and turn down:  To make an electrical device go up or down.  Turn up is the opposite of turn down.

  • It’s cold in here!  Please turn up the heat.
  • That music is very loud.  Please turn it down.

Turn in:  When you complete a test, report, or project and you give it to the person who asked for it.

  • Last week, I turned my project in late to my boss.
  • I need to turn in my test by 10:00 a.m. this morning.

Turn 4

Turn in:  When you go to bed.

  • I’m very tired.  I think I’ll turn in now.

Turn into:  When something turns into something else, it becomes that thing.

  • Bruce Wayne turns into Batman when the commissioner needs help.
  • A small tree can turn into a large tree if it gets lots of water and sunshine.

Turn off and turn on: When you stop something or start something that is electrical, you turn it on or off.

  • Please turn off the light.  I’m trying to go to sleep.
  • Turn on the television.  I want to watch the soccer game.

Turn on and turn off:  When there is something or someone that you like or don’t like.

  • I like John, but men who smoke turn me off.
  • Maria is beautiful!  She really turns me on.

Turn 2

Turn out:  A situation or person that changes.

  • Jesus was going to buy a Ferrari, but it turned out to be too expensive.  He’s going to buy a Ford instead.
  • Petra was a little mean to me at first, but she turned out to be a nice girl.

Turn out:  A result or conclusion.

  • How did the pictures of your wedding turn out?
  • I cooked for two hours this afternoon, but the meal didn’t turn out well.  Everything was too dry!

Turn over:  To turn something so that the bottom is now on the top.

  • John turns over a lot when he is sleeping.
  • Turn the hamburgers over so that they can cook on the other side.

Turn over:  Something that changes.

  • There has been a big turnover at our company.  Many employees have left and there are new employees.
  • The factory has a low turnover.  People like to work here so they don’t leave.


These are the basic phrasal verbs using the word “turn”.  Practice using the phrasal verbs so they will become part of your English vocabulary!

Worldwide English in Houston, Texas teaches private lessons to expats and their spouses in their home or office.  For more information visit  http://www.englishlessons-houston.com/  or write to julie@englishlessons-houston.com



Jan 04 2014

English Lessons Houston – Phrasal Verbs 1 “Up”



English Lessons Houston – Phrasal Verbs 1

Welcome to the world of English phrasal Verbs!  There are lots of them.  In these English lessons, we are going to be looking at the most common ones.  When you become accustomed to using English phrasal verbs, they will be easy for you.  So, let’s get started!photo for up blog 2

An English Phrasal Verb is made up of a verb and a particle.


Inseparable phrasal verbs – the verb and the particle must stay together.

Examples of inseparable phrasal verbs:

  • Break down – stop working properly

My car is making a noise.  I think it’s going to break down soon.

  • Get together – meet

Let’s get together at Starbucks this afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

  • Run out of – not have enough

Can you lend me $25.00?  I have run out of money!

  • Look after – take care of

I need to look after my mother.  She is not feeling well.

Separable phrasal verbs – the verb and the particle can stay together or be separated.

Examples of separable phrasal verbs:

  • Call someone back – to return a phone call

I need to call Robert back.  He is waiting for my call.

  • Do something over – to do something again

I’ve made many mistakes on this essay.  I will have to do it over.

  • Fill something out – complete a form with information

phrasal verbs 1There are several pages for my visa application.  I need to fill them out.

  • Figure something out – to think about something until you understand it

Mathematics is difficult.  It takes me a long time to figure it out.


Let’s look at phrasal verbs using the word “up”.photo for up blog 3


  • Call someone up – to call someone on the phone

Tonight I’m going to call my father up and speak to him.

  • Back up – to go in reverse (backwards)

To drive away, I need to first back my car up

  • Catch up – to finish the work you have or to move faster to come up to someone or something.

I have so much work to do.  I’m not sure if I can catch up

My boyfriend is walking too fast.  It’s hard for me to catch up to him.

  • Wrap up – to finish

I am about to wrap my project up

  • Run up – to go high

My credit card balance is very high!  Last month I really ran it up!

  • Turn up – to appear

I wonder when my girlfriend will turn up.  She’s been gone all day!

  • Hurry up – to go faster

Hurry up!  The movie is about to start!

  • Look up – to find something

If you don’t know the meaning of these words, look them up in the dictionary.

  • Bring up – to talk about

When I was talking to my boss this morning, he brought up the fact that I have been late two times this week!

  • Take up – to spend time

I have more than 50 e-mails.  They are taking up too much of my time.

  • Grow up – children getting older

My sister is already 15.  She is growing up fast!

  • Keep up – to continue

I’m tired of running, but I want to run for 30 minutes so I am going to keep it up.


There are more English phrasal verbs using the word “up”.  Some of them are inseparable and some are separable.  A phrasal verb is conjugated just like a regular verb. 

Do you have any other questions about tipping in the USA?  Just send me an e-mail at julie@englishlessons-houston.com   If you are in Houston and need English lessons, give us a call or e-mail.  (713) 993-6511

Dec 04 2013

How is the Word “By” Used in English?


How is the Word “By” Used in English?


Hi Students!  There are many uses for the word “by”.  In this article, we will look at some of the ways that we use the word by in American English.

By is used in many expressions.  It can be used as a preposition and it can be used as an adverb.  confusion about by

When it is used as a preposition, it is followed by a noun.

  • My cell phone was ruined by the water.   (what caused it)
  • I was treated at the hospital by Dr. Jones.  (who does or did something)
  • The hotel is located by the lake. (a location that is close)
  • We went to the airport by car.  (to say how something is done)
  • By taking the bus, you will arrive sooner.  (by doing something)

Confused about the word ByLet’s look at some other ways to use the word by.

  • I call my boss by his first name.  (how to name or call something)
  • I will begin my presentation by thanking everyone for coming.  (saying how you will start or finish something)
  • I will be finished with my report by 5:00 p.m.
  • Tom and Jerry will arrive at the party by 9:00 p.m.  (Before a certain time)
  • They drove into the other car by accident.  (something not planned)
  • The price of gasoline rose by 5% last year.  (how much something changed)
  • Brad Pitt just drove by me!  (coming close to or passing someone)

And let’s look at a few phrases that use the word by.

  • By and by (after a short time)

By and by, JK forgot about his old girl friend.

  • By and large (in general)

By and large, the meeting went very well.

  • By the way  (to change the subject in a conversation)

By the way, don’t forget to turn in your report.


These are not the only ways to use by.  Mathematics uses the word by when we multiply or divide.  puzzled about By

Multiply 5 by 100.  Divide 100 by 10.  The room is 8 feet by 10 feet.


So many ways to use the word by!  If you have any questions about the word by, you can send me an email at julie@englishlessons-houston.com   Also, if you are in Houston, go to our website Worldwide English and contact us about private English lessons!  That’s all for now!




Nov 18 2013

English Lessons: Do you Get the Word “Get”?


English Lessons

Do You Get the Word “Get”?

dog - get

There are many meanings of the word “get” in English!  The present tense is get, the past is got and the past participle is gotten.  The word get can mean many different things!

To receive something     Example:  I got a new cell phone last week.

To arrive       Example:  I got to school at 9 a.m. this morning.

To persuade             Get + object + infinitive

Example:  He got his wife to wash his clothes.

                    She got her cat to come into the house.

To become   Get + past participle        

Example:  We got acquainted at the party.

                    They got lost when they were driving home.

                    Jane and Paul got married last year.

                    I get tired after midnight.

                    She gets dressed for school at 8 a.m.

To become   Get + adjective            

Example:   I get hungry every day at 1 p.m.

                    She got rich working very hard.

                     It gets dark at 7:30.

                     He gets scared at night.

Get involved

To catch

Example:    I got the ball!

                      My mother got malaria when she went abroad.

To understand

Example:     Oh, now I get it!

                      Math is very hard for John.  He just doesn’t get it.

These are a few examples of how to use the word get in English. 

But wait!  There’s more!

English lessons - get

There are lots of phrases with the word get.  Here are a few.  See if you can guess what they mean.

Get along, get on, get off, get out of, get rid of, get by, get away, get up, get together, get through

A little more!

Sometimes you may hear someone say: 

·        Get out!        (Leave!)

·        Get lost!        (Leave now!)

·        Let’s get going!      (Let’s go!)

So now, I hope you get the word get a little better!

Do you have any other questions about tipping in the USA?  Just send me an e-mail at julie@englishlessons-houston.com   If you are in Houston and need English lessons, give us a call or e-mail.  (713) 993-6511

Nov 04 2013

How Much Should You Tip in the USA?


How much should you tip in the USA?Tipping in the USA

Many of my ESL students who are coming to Houston and the USA for the first time ask me this question:  “I’m not sure how much I should tip the waiter when I’m in a restaurant?”  What percent is accurate?  Here are several easy rules to follow for tipping in the southwestern part of the United States.  (I believe tipping may be a little higher on the east and west coasts.)

In a regular restaurant where the waiter takes your order and brings you your food. 

You may have noticed that the tax is added to our food bill.  This is a separate amount on your check.  Many people make the mistake of paying a tip for both the food and the tax.  You only need to pay a tip on the amount that you spend on the food, not the tax.  So look at the first amount, the total for the food.  In Houston, I always do this little trick.  Houston sales tax is 8.25%.  I look at the amount of tax and double it.  That’s the amount I usually leave for a tip, which is about 16.5 %.

For example, if I spend $10 on food at a restaurant and the tax is $0.83 (total is $10.83) I usually leave about $1.70.

The rule is 20% at a restaurant, but I’ve noticed that most of my students prefer to leave about 15%.  I think 15% is fine.  I think 10% is not enough.  Remember that the waiters do not get very much pay per hour.  They depend on your tips!

In a restaurant where there is a buffet.

Should you leave a tip when you are in a restaurant that has a buffet?  My answer is yes, but just a little.  When I visit a restaurant that has a buffet, the waiter brings me a drink, takes away my dishes when I’m finished and brings me the check.  So I always leave about $2.00 on the table for this service.  Even $1.00 is all right.  They appreciate it!

tips in the USAIn a Starbucks, or a place where there is a tip jar by the cashier.    

Sometimes you walk up to the counter, order your food, and pick it up yourself.  But you see a tip jar at the counter where you pay.  How much should you leave?  This is really your decision!  Many people leave the change that they receive from their order – which would be less than $1.00.  Some people put in one dollar, some people put in a quarter, and some people don’t put anything in.

This is your decision!  If the cashier is very friendly, you might want to put some money in the tip jar.  But it’s up to you!


If you get a drink at a bar, the normal tip to leave in the jar is $1.00 for each drink.

Valet Parking, Hotels, Airports, Supermarkets

  • The rule for people who carry your luggage is $1.00 per bag.
  • Maid service in a hotel is usually $3.00 per night and you should leave it in the room when you check out.  (Many Americans are not aware of this tipping service.)
  • People who park your car usually appreciate $3-$5 when they return your car to you.  That’s for free valet parking.  If the parking is not free, $1.00 is appropriate.
  • If someone carries your groceries to the car in a supermarket, tip $1.00.
  • How Much Should you Tip in the USA?

Don’t offer a tip to:

  • People who come to your home to offer a service like plumbing, painting, etc.  They are already paid well and don’t depend on tips.
  • The people who take care of your lawn.



Do you have any other questions about tipping in the USA?  Just send me an e-mail at julie@englishlessons-houston.com   If you are in Houston and need English lessons, give us a call or e-mail.  (713) 993-6511

May 02 2013

Private English Teachers

Private English Teacher or English Classes

Is a Private English Teacher Really Worth the Extra Cost?

Private English teacher

I’m a private English teacher in Houston, Texas so you already know that my answer to this question is going to be “Yes!”  But there are a few things that you should think about when you are making this decision.  I agree that private English lessons aren’t for everyone.

If you are in the USA on a student visa, you will probably be in an ESL classroom because you are required to be in school full-time.  When you are new to a country, it’s great to meet other expats who have been here for a while and can help you to get settled.  They know the best places to live, buy furniture, lease a car and where to send your children to school.  All this is very important information when you first move to a new country.

An ESL classroom gives new expats an opportunity to meet people and make friends from all over the world.  Very often, my students have never been outside their own country before coming to the USA, which is a melting pot of nationalities and one of the things I love most about this country.  An ESL class is going to be less expensive than learning English with a private tutor.  All these reasons are good ones to elect to enroll in a class instead of taking private lessons.


With all these advantages, why would someone want to spend the extra money to hire a private English tutor?  Let’s say that you can speak English well, but you can’t write.  Or you can read English, but you don’t understand what people are saying to you.  A private teacher can help you get through these challenges very quickly.  When a teacher calls on students in a classroom, it will be your turn to answer once every five or ten minutes.  When your tutor asks a question, you are the one to answer every single time!  And those questions are especially focused on helping you through your specific English challenges.  With a private tutor, you cannot take a break and stare out the window!  You are “on” every moment and, in this way, you will learn English much faster and in the way that is most helpful to you.

Your private English tutor is also your psychologist!  You can tell your teacher what is bothering you at work, what you like and don’t like about the American culture, or how you spouse is constantly wanting to leave and move back home.  And you have a wealth of information sitting right in front of you to help you while you are adjusting to this new environment.  I’ve tutored, acted as therapist, offered encouragement to students who feel depressed, counseled women on what to expect from American men and counseled men on what to expect from American women.  A private English teacher is a tremendous source of support.

Private English Teacher HoustonYou will spend less time with a tutor because you are learning at a faster pace and, in the end, this may mean spending the same amount or less money even though a tutor is more expensive per hour. You have the advantage of taking classes during the hours that you have free.  Furthermore, textbook companies are waking up now and publishing all sorts of business texts that are specifically for different industries.

Unless you are here on a student visa, you should consider investing in English classes with a private tutor, at least for a while.  When you feel that you can go to the movie or supermarket without the stress of not being able to communicate, you can transfer to a class and start making friends.  (Although, the truth is, I still go to lunch with a lot of my former students, who I consider to be my friends!)

Private English tutors are your biggest supporters!  They want to see you succeed.  I’m constantly putting myself out of a job because my students don’t need me anymore.  That’s the way it works in our business.  All the best to you in your adventure of learning English.

If you are in Houston and would like a private tutor, contact Worldwide English or call our office at (713) 993-6511.

Apr 07 2013

Workplace English Lessons in Houston

Workplace English 


Workplace English

Workplace English

 In Houston, Texas there is a growing trend to offer English lessons in the workplace specifically for the labor force.  This is a group that is almost always exclusively Latino here in the southwest.   This type of “business English” is entirely different from going into a corporation to teach a group of business men and women about sending business e-mails and giving presentations in English.  At present, Worldwide English has teachers in five different factories/plants at the beginning and end of work shifts.  Some of the students do not read at all and have been in the USA for more than 20 years.  Yet, they have managed to get along all these years without learning even the basics of English. 

The ones that can learn enough English to communicate with those in management stand a good chance of gaining supervisory positions because they act as translators between the labor forces and the non-Spanish speaking managers.  But with the increased safety regulations, OSHA, and the general desire to have all levels of the work force able to communicate in one central language, company owners in Houston are looking into and hiring English teachers to come into their companies and teach English classes.

     You can imagine that teaching English to laborers requires an entirely different set of teaching skills.  You need to be able to teach to people who don’t read at all mixed in with people who have developed habits of speaking English incorrectly for many years.  They all come to the classes wanting something different because they speak English at very different levels.  Usually, there are just enough workers in one company to fill a single class so teaching classes of different levels is not an option. 

At Worldwide English in Houston, we have a strategy for teaching these types of classes that has proven successful.  We divide each class into two parts.  The first half of the lesson focuses on the type of English that is needed for that industry.  We go in ahead of the first class and find out exactly what it is that the supervisors need to be able to say during the workday to the workers.  We get a list of the vocabulary specific to their company and teach the words and phrases via dialogues that would be common to what they might say during their workday.  We have created a set of dialogues that we can use plugging in the industry-specific English that they use.  The second half of the class is spent on general English, just helping them to improve their English communication, practicing with the correct tenses and working with themes as you would in any standard ESL class.  We don’t ask them to buy textbooks; rather we use their copiers for the lesson materials we bring and they are happy to allow us to do this.

Teaching Latino Workers in Houston

Teaching Latino Workers in Houston


In these classes, I’ve been asked to teach the decimal system, OSHA rules and guidelines, and how to report a workplace accident in English.  In one class, I repeated over and over again what to do if someone in HR says, “Sign your name here.”  In their jobs, they know what they are supposed to do.  But if they would like make a change in the way their paycheck is delivered or if they have a question about their insurance, this can present an insurmountable problem. 

Language is power.  I applaud those company owners and managers who take the initiative to help the Latino workforce to learn English.  And for the business English teachers out there, this is a great untapped opportunity!  I encourage you to go for it by contacting local industries and offering your services.