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Devan Says Goodbye

March 28th, 2013

devan

Devan joined the Ebaby! Cast more than five years ago, and she seemingly hasn’t aged at all. She’s an original character on our English lesson soap opera. Sweet, young Devan has always been a fan favorite, even when we had her character do bad things or she became a mean boss (all in the name of English lessons, of course!).

When at the end of season 5, Devan and her husband (played by me) decided to move away, Devan was, in fact, moving on from English, baby! We checked in with her to hear about what she’s up to and look back at her time here.

Jason: Why did you leave Ebaby! and what are you doing now?

Devan: On the show, my character left her busy city life to go lead a more laid back lifestyle in the country. My real life has been the exact opposite! My professional career has been picking up, which unfortunately lead me to make the hard decision to leave Ebaby! It’s still my dream to work in film, mainly behind the camera, so hopefully one day you’ll see my name attached to some projects. And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an Ebaby! cameo in the future….

Jason: What’s your all time favorite lesson that you’ve been in? Does one stick out as your least favorite?

Devan: There are a few favorites. My wedding, of course. It was really fun getting to wear a white dress and drink champagne. We actually had a mini party in the park–it wasn’t just staged. The product placement episode was also hilarious and a blast to shoot, and I loved Beren’s wild night in Vegas. My least favorite episodes were probably the ones when a cast member left. Our cast was very tight knit, so it was hard saying goodbye to Kevin, Amanda, Beren, and Ella. But I’m excited that Amanda is back! I can’t wait to see how her relationship with Mason progresses.

Jason: You used to complain that I made you do too many embarrassing things on the soap opera. Which one bothered you the most? (I hope you don’t say kissing me.)

Devan: Ha! My role was always amusing and I loved that I never knew what to expect with each script. I’d only say that I worried from time to time that our audience was going to hate me! Mason and Beren had such loveable characters, whereas my character battled a drug addiction, tricked Jason into thinking we were in a relationship when he had amnesia, and bossed everyone around ruthlessly after starting her company. I swear my real life is far less dramatic!

Jason: In the soap opera, I proposed to you and we got married. How similar or different were these moments from what you want in real life?

Devan: Marriage and settling down is pretty far from my mind at this point. I’m pretty focused on building a career at the moment, but I’m also only 26. I’ve got plenty of time to think about that stuff in the future. But if I do get married someday, I hope it’s as fun as our pretend wedding was!

Jason: What one thing do you most hope the members learned from you?

Devan: I didn’t start talking (at least not real words) until I was almost 3. Then, I struggled with a lisp all through elementary school–I still do, as you may have noticed in my videos!–and had to go to speech therapy. Learning your first language is incredibly difficult, let alone learning a second or third language. I hope our videos have helped our members to not just learn English better, but to feel more comfortable speaking it conversationally. Most native English speakers, myself included, use slang and use words incorrectly all the time. It’s no big deal. I’d most hope that our viewers know that you don’t need to be perfect, it’s already amazing that you’re making the effort to learn English in the first place.

Your Biggest English Fear

January 2nd, 2013

Learning is not only hard, it can be scary at times. A classroom full of other people can be intimidating, but once you start to take your language skills out in the real world, you run the risk of not saying the right thing and getting embarrassed in public.

There are other things that can go wrong too. This radio show starts with a story about a girl who is new to the US and is learning English. Her biggest fear is someone simply not understanding what she said and asking her to repeat herself. It might not seem like a big deal, but it’s terrifying to her. See what happens when she confronts her fear.

What’s your biggest English fear?

As The World Learns Season 5: Ch-Ch-Changes

December 27th, 2012

letgo
A lot can happen in a weekend. This season of the English lesson soap opera finds Jeff coming into work on Monday after missing the previous Friday for dental surgery. He’s surprised to find that Amanda has not only been hired, she’s also dating Mason. At the end of last season, it wasn’t clear at all what would happen.

As the English lesson videos continue, so do the changes. Marni is pregnant, and we soon learn that someone might loose their job. By the end of the season, two characters will leave and two will be united a way no one ever thought possible. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There are lots of cool English phrases to learn first.

5.01 – Make Someone’s Head Spin: All the changes at the office have Jeff confused.
5.02 – Let Someone In: Amanda is moving too fast for Mason.
5.03 – Under Wraps: Marni has a secret, but how long can she keep it?
5.04 – Go Overboard: Amanda tries harder than she has to.
5.05 – Let Someone Go: Someone at the office might lose their job.
5.06 – Step Up: Jeff offers to help Marni in any way she needs.
5.07 – Save the Day: Amanda comes up with a plan to save her job.
5.08 – Rat Race: Devan and Jason have enough of the city.
5.09 – Come Clean: It feels good to tell a secret, so everyone does.
5.10 – Let Go: Mason’s friends help him take a big step.

R. Kelly, Vocabulary Instructor

November 18th, 2012

kellyEnglish, baby! and R. Kelly have always had a lot in common. We both have extended web soap operas with shocking plot twists. R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet explores how long one man can keep the same riff going, and our As The World Learns is a meditation on how English idioms shape our lives.

But I just become aware of something truly amazing thanks to Aziz Ansari. In his new stand up special, Dangerously Delicious, Aziz explains some fans had a hard time understanding R. Kelly’s song, “Echo.”

“So what do you do if you’re R. Kelly in that situation?,” says Aziz. “Are you going to post a video online defining the word “echo”? Yes. That’s exactly what he did.”

Considering one of the things we do here at English, baby! is enlist the help of famous musicians in teaching English, I immediately looked up the video. Sure enough, R. Kelly went ahead and did our work for us this time.

Aziz goes on to imagine R. Kelly defining other terms. “Alright, some of y’all don’t know what a cheeseburger is. You know when you go to McDonald’s and you order a cheeseburger? That’s a cheeseburger.”

While he undoubtedly has a way with words, R. Kelly’s echo video could indeed use some help in the teaching department. He doesn’t even touch on the slang use he’s using in the song! That’s where we come in.

R. Kelly–we are here for you. Based on our soap operas, we clearly think alike. Anytime you want to continue your video dictionary, we are ready to help. Contact us anytime. If you need a reference, maybe you could give one of the guys from Bone Thugs a text?

As The World Learns Season 4: Love, Old and New

October 19th, 2012

Once upon a time, there was a hilarious actress named Amanda. Her character by the same name broke Mason’s heart and she left the show. But this season, she has returned our English lesson soap opera and is funnier than ever!

We also said goodbye to Ella this season. Even though he was in love with her at one point, Mason didn’t mind. He has two women pursuing him this season! My, how things change. Unfortunately, one of them is trouble. You’ll have to watch to find out which one, and to learn all of the cool slang and idioms each episode has to teach.

4.01 – Work It Out: Jeff and Mason find a way to become friends.
4.02 – Drama Queen: Ella can’t handle peace in the office and takes off.
4.03 – Blast from the Past: After a couple of years away, Amanda suddenly returns.
4.04 – Catch Up: Devan and Amanda have a lot to talk about after a long time apart.
4.05 – Behind Someone’s Back: Dale doesn’t want to hang out with Mason’s girlfriend, but does.
4.06 – When It Rains, It Pours: Loveless Mason now has two interested women.
4.07 – Fool Around: Are Vanessa and Dale having friendly fun, or something more?
4.08 – Busted: Jason and Marni discover one of their friends is doing something bad.
4.09 – Break It To Someone: Jason and Marni discover one of their friends is doing something bad.
4.10 – Moment of Truth: With Mason, Dale, Vanessa, and Amanda in the same room, no one can hide anymore.

Ebaby! Teachers at the 2012 London Olympics

August 10th, 2012

The 2012 London Olympic Games are almost over. It’s been an especially exciting Olympics for us at English, baby! because although we weren’t there as we were in Beijing and Vancouver, many of our guest English teachers were competing.

We were especially happy to see Karina LeBlanc, and the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team win bronze today. We were, of course, thrilled that our own American team won the gold, but it was bittersweet because our friend Ali Krieger did not participate due to injury.

One of our first celebrity English lessons ever was with French basketball player Nicolas Batum. He’s the nicest guy you’ll ever meet, but you wouldn’t know it from the punch he gave Juan Carlos Navarro of Spain. It’s great to see him being aggressive and passionate, but it’s a shame that this punch is probably what he is best known for now. Navarro’s squad, along with our friend Sergio Rodriguez, is heading to the semi-finals tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we’ve been back here in the States making sure all of our members around the world had plenty of Olympics-related English lesson topics to study these last couple of weeks. We featured lessons about the host city, competitiveness, underdogs, the 2012 Olympics in general, and helpful Olympic idioms like go for it and catch up.

Image: Karina LeBlanc celebrates with teammate Sophie Schmidt after winning the women’s bronze medal soccer match. By Paul Hackett of Reuters.

Learning English Vocab in a Moving Arcimoto Electric Vehicle

August 2nd, 2012

Our latest creation at English, baby! is a series of business English lessons starring American CEOs. We’ll be launching a page for all of these videos soon, but we’re especially proud of this lesson with Arcimoto CEO Mark Frohnmayer.

First of all, Mark an extremely smart guy. Not only is he building a car that is going to save the world, but he can explain the English vocabulary of his industry extremely well without rehearsing. People keep asking me if he prepared his responses for this video. Nope. That’s just his way with words.

So we had a good interview on our hands. But the beauty of it was that we got to do the interview while driving around downtown Portland in Arcimoto’s latest prototype. How fun is that? Take a look at the video.

We were worried that the microphones might not pick up our voices with the wind resistance, but the Arcimoto is extremely quiet and its windshield blocked almost all the wind. I can’t imagine how quiet the car is going to be once it’s completed and has a full body.

Mark was so full of helpful info, we had to cut a lot of great stuff. Here’s a section that didn’t make the final lesson in which he talks about how electric cars don’t use miles per gallon or MPG, they use watt hours per mile to measure efficiency. That was a new term to me!

In order to shoot our video, we borrowed a GoPro camera from the Arcimoto guys. I knew they had one because of this video starring Stana Katic from Castle. Looks like if I buy an Arcimoto, I’ll be in good company.

Ella Says Goodbye

July 9th, 2012

EllaOn today’s episode of our English lesson soap opera, Ella announces she is quitting her job and moving to Lake Tahoe. In real life, Ame Phitwong, the actress who plays Ella did just that.

Ame joined the English, baby! cast a few years ago when Amanda left. When she’s not modeling, she throws great parties, so we had a lot of fun working with her. She also loves to travel and kept a great blog on English, baby! of all of her adventures.

Since we film our videos well in advance, Ame has actually been in Tahoe since the end of last year. I got in touch with her to see how things are going and to reflect on her work at English, baby!

 

Jason: Tell us about your new life in Tahoe. How are things? Are you doing a lot of snowboarding?

Ame: Things in Tahoe haven’t quite turned out exactly as I planned. The winter season was dismal, one of the worse winters in nearly 100 years with barely any snow. The upside is because I live 5 minutes away from the mountain, it’s been my best season on record! I learned a lot of new tricks, but also got a lot of injuries. I busted my knee and face a few times, but had a lot of fun! Overall, it’s great living here. I can see the lake from my house and snowboard from the run to my backyard. This is the life I was dreaming of.

Jason: Are you doing any acting or modeling there?

Ame: I haven’t been doing any acting or modeling. I’m still trying to get things together with my daily life and return to school to get my masters. I hope to get back into both fields in the next year so keep an eye out for me!

Jason: What is your all-time favorite English, baby! lesson? Does one stand out as your least favorite?

Ame: I couldn’t decide on one, but my two favorite lessons are when I adopted Table as my son, and when I was Dale’s fitness instructor. Those were both really fun to do. Oh, and the musical for the 100th episode too. I don’t have a least favorite. I had fun working on all the lessons!

Jason: How are you similar to Ella? How are you different?

Ame: I’m not that much different from Ella. She’s really into fashion and friendly and hyper. Although I would have to say I’m a lot more altruistic and not as clueless compared to her. Coincidentally, a lot of the episodes seemed to mirror some real-life issues I was going through unbeknownst to the writers! It was quite funny. I never mentioned that to anyone. Also, Ella was a way better detective than I could ever be.

Jason: If the real you had to choose between Mason and Jeff, who would you have picked?

Ame: I think I would’ve chose Mason. He was just so sweet and funny. Jeff is cool too, but not really my type.

Learning English with Fabio

July 3rd, 2012


Some celebrities are just absolutely perfect for English, baby! celebrity English lessons. Who better to talk about muscles and fitness than the 1980s and ’90s ideal of the male form, Fabio?

When we discovered that Italian stalion was visiting our local Whole Foods store to promote his new line of whey protein, we headed right over. The scene we found was surprisingly low-key and personal. Fabio posed for pictures with fans and spoke with each individual for a few minutes. He is very enthusiastic and really wants to help people get in shape.

We gave him the chance to take that message to people learning English all over the world in this English lesson.

I love the way he explains “buff.” Like, “Oh, ‘buff’? Sure, that’s about muscles. Now back to protein.” You have to admire his passion. His explanation of how he learned English shows his drive, and I think offers some really helpful info to our members.

But Fabio is lots of fun too. That’s what makes him such a perfect for English, baby! You can see him indulging his fans by lifting one up for a photo. On his last visit to Portland, he even stopped by a local news station to broadcast the weather. If only other celebrities wouldn’t take themselves so seriously.

Image: How could camera man Scott Ballard and I leave without a photo? Taken by a random Fabio fan.

Ebaby! on Think Out Loud, Gawker

June 29th, 2012

opbEach morning, Think Out Loud hosts a live conversation on the radio about a topic of interest to Oregon Public Broadcasting listeners. It’s a show everyone in Oregon knows, so imagine our excitement when after seeing the Wall Street Journal story we helped with, they asked English, baby! CEO John Hayden to come on the air and talk about slang.

You can listen this episode here. It also features a student from a local ELS school. It’s great to hear him go back and forth with John about learning a language. John also shares a classic story about how he once accidentally proposed to a woman in Japan.

Another even more surprising response to the WSJ article was this post on Gawker making fun of it. Of all the sources in the story, they only quoted John in their post. We’re glad they singled us out though–it’s nice to be made fun of by such a popular gossip site! I hope we get on TMZ next.

 

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