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Repeat after me!

Whats the perfect language learning tool? Across cultures, the traditional answer to this has always been: Nursery Rhymes.

Hoppe hoppe Reiter,
Wenn er fällt dann schreit er…

or

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily merrily,
Life is but a dream…

As all carers all over the world will tell you, children cannot get enough of these little poems and the gestures and actions that often accompany them and want to repeat them endlessly. Why? Because that´s what they are made for (both the children´s brains and the nursery rhymes). Through repetition, sound patterns, rhythmical and syntactical structures are not only lodged in the mind indelibly, but can also be reproduced and varied at will. In other words, with nursery rhymes repetition is the start of creativity.

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
And if you see a crocodile
Don´t forget to scream…

Unfortunately, most adults have lost the instinctive enjoyment of nursery rhymes and the quasi-automatic language acquisition skills that go with it. Fortunately, however, modern online language courses can help. Like a nursery, they provide a safe private space where the learner can repeat patterns freely, at their own speed and as often as they like. That the good ones have a nurse (or rather: a teacher) on standby to offer encouragement is part of the fun. Why not try it out?

Row row row your boat
Gently to the sea
And if you say how things are done
Don´t forget a “-ly”!


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Working with American Business Culture

If you have worked with Americans in the past, or if you have even watched American television, you have probably heard the phrase ‘time is money.’  But how important is this phrase in American business culture?  What does it really mean?  Understanding American business culture isn’t as easy as understanding this one phrase, but it’s a good place to start!

‘Time is money’ seems like an easy phrase to understand.  In every culture, we need to spend time in one way or another to make money.  Maybe it simply seems logical to say that in general people who spend their time more efficiently make more money, but in American business culture, the idea of ‘time is money’ doesn’t stop there.  For Americans time is one of the most important assets, which can be saved, spent, lost, found, invested, and wasted.  Wasting time is just as bad as wasting money, because in the American mindset, these two things have a lot to do with each other.

This is an important part of the reason why Americans have a strong work ethic, and often work long hours.  For American businesspeople, it is important to invest a lot of time in their work if they want to be successful.  Unsurprisingly, punctuality is also an important part of American business culture.  A good way to offend your American colleagues is to show up late to a meeting, or to drop by during business hours ‘just to chat’ with them for an hour!  Lateness and wasting time is considered an indication that you don’t respect your colleagues because you don’t respect their time.  For this reason, schedules and deadlines are important, and not taking them seriously is considered a serious sign of disrespect.

Because of their ‘time-conscious’ mindset, Americans are also focused on making deals and reaching agreements quickly.  For some people, this can seem hasty.  Sometimes it may seem like your American colleagues don’t really take all the time they need to think things over and get all the facts, but in American business culture the focus is on getting the best possible results in the shortest period of time.  In the American business world, there is no time to wait for absolutely all the facts to come in.  The more time that is spent on deciding, the more money is lost on it, so fast decisions are ideal.

The mindset of ‘time is money’ is important to understanding American business culture, but there are many other important aspects to doing business successfully with Americans.  Doing business internationally is not just about understanding different markets and economies, but also about understanding different mindsets.  So, the next time you hear a phrase like ‘time is money’, invest a little bit of your time to think about what it means and how it impacts business culture.  Increasing your intercultural competence can not only save you time and money – not to mention embarrassment – in the global market!


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Give it a shot!

Have you ever wanted to try something new? Trying something new is a great way to develop yourself personally and professionally!

In English, we sometimes say “give it a shot!” What does the phrase, to give something a shot, mean? This means you will try to do it. Thankfully this has nothing to do with shooting anything or anyone, but has more to do with reaching a goal.

So, set your language targets high! We here at Logos Sprachinstitut are here to help you hit it. Now’s your chance to sign up for our new Online Business English Course.


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The Different Uses of „Like“

According to the Oxford English Corpus, a collection of more than two billion English texts, ‘like’ is the 54th most frequently used word in the English language. One reason for this is that ‘like’ has so many different meanings, which can be confusing for a non-native speaker. ‘Like’ can be used as a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, particle, hedge, conjunction, filler, and quotative. But you don’t need to know what all these words mean to use the word ‘like’ correctly. Here are a few quick tips on how to use this very important word.

As a verb, ‘like’ means to have a fondness for something or to enjoy something. For example, ‘I like my coworkers’, or ‘I like dancing.’ ‘I like my coworkers’ means you think your coworkers are good people. ‘I like dancing’ means that you enjoy dancing. This is probably the most common meaning of the word, but when you are talking with a native English speaker, they will probably use ‘like’ in other ways.
‘Like’ often expresses the idea that something is similar to something else. For example, if you say ‘my new boss is like a monster’ it means your boss is similar to a monster; mean and scary, which probably means that you don’t ‘like’ him very much at all!

We often use the word ‘like’ to ask about the characteristics of something. If your coworker asks you ‘what’s the new boss like?’ He isn’t asking you what the new boss enjoys, he is asking if the new boss is friendly or mean, a good worker or a bad worker, efficient or inefficient, etc. ‘What’s it like?’ is a general question that means ‘tell me something about it, give me some details,’ and we can ask it about almost anything, for example ‘what was your holiday like?’ ‘what is your job like?’ and so on.

There are some ways to use the word ‘like’ that happen in spoken English, but not in writing. For example, sometimes you can use like as a ‘filler word’ instead of the sounds ‘um’ or ‘uh’, when you need a little more time to think of what you want to say. For example: ‘I think…like…we should get Italian for dinner.’

In spoken English, we can also use ‘like’ to replace the word ‘said’ when we are reporting on something that happened. For example, if you want to tell a coworker about a conversation between you and another coworker, you could say: ‘I said we should go to lunch, and he said it was a good idea’ or you could say: ‘I was like ‘we should go to lunch’, and then he was like ‘that’s a good idea.’’ In a similar way, we can also use ‘like’ to replace the word ‘thought.’ For example if you want to tell a coworker about something that happened in your meeting with the boss, you can say: ‘he told me I had to work on Saturday, and I thought ‘that’s ridiculous’’, or you can say: ‘he told me I had to work on Saturday, and I was like ‘that’s ridiculous.’’

As you can see, all the different uses of the word ‘like’ can be a little bit difficult to understand, but hopefully these tips will help you to use this word ‘like’ a native speaker in no time!


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Businessman executive talking on mobile phone in modern corporate office, holding financial newspaper checking time on wriswatch. Glass reflection of business people meeting in office. Time is money.

Rushing to a Decision

Have you ever been so busy that you've had to rush into a meeting to avoid being late? What about having had to rush into a decision?

To rush means to do something quickly or to move with haste. But when you rush into a decision, you make a decision too quickly without thinking about it. This is not always wise, as many mistakes are made when we make decisions too quickly. This is especially not good when it comes to making decisions about our education or personal development.

If you feel that you are having trouble finding a language school, we here at Logos Sprachinstitut are here to help. We will assess your current language skills and develop courses catered to your needs. That way you don't have to make any hasty decisions or rush into a situation that doesn't suit you.


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Portraits of people thinking

Personnel and Personal Problems

What is the difference in meaning when you say ‘I am having personnel problems at the moment’ and when you say ‘I am having personal problems at the moment’? The words sound very similar, but these two sentences have very different meanings, and only one of these words is the correct translation for the German word ‘Personal.’

If we want to talk about problems at work with staffing, for example a high sickness rate or too many people on holiday, then we need to talk about ‘personnel’ problems. If you talk about having ‘personal’ problems in English, this doesn’t mean that you have problems with staff at work, it means that you are having private problems; ‘persönliche’ problems that you probably don’t want to talk about in the workplace!

This is one important example of ‘false friends’ between German and English – words that sound similar and are spelled similarly or the same but have different meanings. If you want to avoid getting too ‘personal’ with people at work, then it’s important to pay attention to these differences!


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Soccer ball on the grass and a player running up to kick it.

The Front Runners – Tip of the Week

In our third “Tip of the Week,” we look at another idiom that can be relevant to the FIFA World Cup: “They’re the front runners.”

This phrase refers to someone or a team that is expected to win, but hasn’t yet.  For example, coming into the tournament, Deutschland was the favorite to win the World Cup, so you could say: “Germany is the front runners.”  Of course, after their 1-0 loss to Mexico on Sunday, Germany has some work to do to make it to the Round of 16.  The defending champions will need a win and at least a draw in their next two matches to move out of the group stage.


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Using Phrasal Verbs in Everyday English

Phrasal verbs are action words that are a combination of an action and a preposition (on, in, off, of, out, or up) and sometimes descriptive words, such as good. These types of verbs can be difficult because they vary so much from the root word’s original meaning.

Take for example the word ‚pass‘, which means to walk by or go by, as in passing someone on the Autobahn. Now, look at the term ‚pass up‘ which means to not accept or take something. This can be rather confusing but making associations can help you easily remember these types of words.

For ‚pass up‘, you can think of someone being offered a piece of cake for dessert and “passing up” the delicious treat.  Making associations will not only make learning new vocabulary more memorable but will also make it more fun!  Look up some other phrasal verbs and try using one each day.


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It’s a Whole New Ballgame

Commercial Photography

Tip of the Week: Today, we take a look at the start of the FIFA World Cup, but this phrase doesn’t even have to be used in a sports situation. This week’s phrase is: “It’s a whole new ballgame.”

This phrase means being in a situation you’re not familiar with. For example, a business person now needing to teach young students in the classroom might say: “I’m used to working with adults, but these kids are a whole new ballgame.”

Try using this phrase in your daily conversations and enjoy the World Cup!


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Cross-Cultural Competence

Cross_Cultural

In the globalized business world, we talk a lot about cross-cultural competence.  We know it is something that everyone needs if they want to succeed in international business but figuring out exactly what it is and exactly how to get it is easier said than done.

If you ask people what cross-cultural competence means to them, you will get a lot of different answers.  Some people will say cross-cultural competence is about knowing the local customs; for example, what to wear, how to give someone your business card, or whether you should shake hands or bow during the first meeting with someone.  Some people will say cross-cultural competence is more about knowing the local language; being able to communicate with people in their language and understanding both the appropriate vocabulary and proper grammar.

These things and more are a part of cross-cultural competence, but not the most fundamental part.  Knowing a lot about the culture or language of one place will make you very well-prepared to do business there, but that might not mean that you are really cross-culturally competent.  If you must do business in a new place you don’t know very much about, your specialist knowledge of another country or culture won’t help you, but cross-cultural competence will.

So, what is the most fundamental element of cross-cultural competence?  Simply put, cross-cultural competence is the ability to see your own culture as just one of many; to see it as just one possibility rather than the default or the ‘right’ way.

We can understand another culture by knowing about all the ‘strange’ customs they follow.  But we are only cross-culturally competent when we understand that the customs of another culture are no stranger than the ones in our culture that seem normal to us.

It is not easy to step outside of your own culture and look at it objectively, but this is the most important part of true cross-cultural competence.  The next time you encounter a strange custom from another culture, try to think about how strange your customs must seem to them!

Of course, if this all seems a little too difficult to start out with, learning a foreign language or attending cross-cultural workshops can be a great way to begin improving your cross-cultural competence!

 

 


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