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The Huffington Post on Ebaby!'s Chinese and Iranian Members

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Sites like twitter have a played a big role in helping protesters organize in Iran. But it’s hard to carry on a conversation and analyze the situation with so many urgent posts that pertain to people on the ground in Tehran in the #IranElection topic.

That’s where sites like English, baby! come in. Beth Arnold, a Paris-based writer I’ve been writing and twittering back and forth with about Ebaby! for a while, featured the conversation about Iran on Ebaby! in a piece for the Huffington Post. It focuses on how the Chinese–who don’t vote–are reacting to claims that the vote was stolen in Iran.

We’re honored that our site and our members are part of the discussion about the events in Iran on one of the first sites we look to for political news and commentary, and we couldn’t think of a better place to have our contribution go than Beth’s “Letter From Paris” column.

Ebaby!'s Iranian Conversation on OPB

Sunday, June 21st, 2009

All last week, the world watched the news unfold about Iran’s election and the subsequent protests over the results. But with traditional reporters on lock down in hotel rooms, social media sites have become the main source on this story. With more than 10,000 of our one million members based in Iran, Ebaby! has seen several forums pop up complete with Iranian voices from all sides of the issue.

Kristian Foden-Vencil, a reporter for Oregon’s NPR affiliate, OPB, took interest in the increased political activity on our site and stopped by the office on Thursday for about an hour. He spoke with Ebaby! CEO John Hayden as well as our resident English teacher, Alexis Nelson, about how the site work helps people learn English and is home to some very unique dialog on Iran. The four-minute piece (which contains a clip from our latest episode of EXTREME English, baby!) aired several times yesterday.

To join the discussion about the Iranian election or see what our global user base has to say, take a look at the forum mentioned in the story as well this one, the longest one on the topic on our site. English, baby! is glad to provide a place where people from all countries can share their thoughts on the situation in Iran in a common language.

Portland Newspaper Feature on Ebaby!

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

With both free and Super Memberships, user generated lessons and celebrity lessons, social networking and direct help from a live Ebaby! teacher, English, baby! does a lot of things for a lot of people.

For the last few weeks, we’ve been working with Ryan Fleming at Willamette Week, our hometown, Pulitzer Prize-winning newsweekly, on a story that hit the streets of the Portland area this week. Often when Ebaby! gets mentioned in the press, it’s for a specific thing we do (like when the LA Times featured one of our celebrity lessons). And that’s great! But Ryan did a wonderful job of exploring many aspects of our site.

The article features quotes from one of the members we met in Beijing and one of the most active teachers on our site, as well as an excursion into our archives of more than 3000 lessons. And the illustration by Jonathan Hill that accompanies the article is probably the best visual representation of the Ebaby! mission created to date. So head over to wweek.com and leave a comment!

English, baby! Live from KGW's Studio on the Square

Wednesday, May 13th, 2009

Portland’s NBC affiliate, KGW, recently opened a Today Show-style studio in Pioneer Square, right in the center of town. Every night at 7 local news rock star Stephanie Stricklen broadcast’s live in a show called Studio on the Square, and since Ebaby! hit a million members, Ebaby! CEO John Hayden was one of her guests last week. Watch the video here.

It was really fun to see what goes on behind the scenes of a broadcast from the Studio on the Square. We were amazed that it took so few people to run the studio–only Stephanie and one crew member were on site! They communicated with people at other locations through headsets.

Since one of the main things John and Stephanie talked about was our celebrity English lessons, John decided to demonstrate the concept by asking Stephanie to give a lesson. She’s pregnant, so John had her define “bun in the oven” on the air! We’re going to make a full lesson out of it and post it on English, baby! so stay tuned.

Here’s a photo of John getting his microphone before the broadcast.

And here’s a view of the studio you don’t see on TV.

English, baby! is a Weird Business

Friday, May 8th, 2009

English, baby! is kind of a crazy business. In our press release about reaching 1 million members, we mention almost a dozen features or services we provide, and since 95% of the people who use those services are outside the US, it can make our business seem even weirder to people here at home.

Barry Moltz, who hosts a popular small business radio show called Business Insanity Talk Radio took note of these facts and invited Ebaby! CEO John Hayden to be one of his guests for an episode called the “The Weird Business Show” alongside the entrepreneurs behind Fantasy Baseball Sherpa, ParkingSpots.com, a home staging company, a phone company for people who have had their phone disconnected and more (a clip of just John’s portion of the show is on our press page). It was a lot of fun to learn about other “weird” businesses.

Ebaby! in Successful Promotions Magazine

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

The April issue of Successful Promotions not only features Miley Cryus on the cover, it also has a five page story on viral marketing dos and don’ts by Kenneth Hein, a managing editor at AdweekMedia. The article outlines lessons that can be learned from the elven efforts of OfficeMax, a Carl’s Jr. mobile campain launched at a Lakers game, as well as anecdotes about 7-Eleven, Burger King, Axe, and a company you might have heard of called English, baby!

Kenneth tells the tale of our bonus guerrilla marketing sucess at the Beijing Olympics (we thought we were just making videos for marking later–turned out we were marking on the ground as well). Take a look at the portion of the article that’s about us here and the whole thing here. We’re really happy to have been included with such good company in such a good story.

Celebrity Lessons in the Media

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

For the past few months, English baby! has been featuring celebrity English lessons in which a star explains how to use a bit of conversational English.

Our most recent lesson with Sasha Vujacic of the LA Lakers, was featured on The Los Angeles Times website and the website of The Oregonian, as well as lakers-fan.com. The interview was also mentioned on The Los Angeles Times site before it was posted.

Ebaby! celebrity lessons have also been covered by many other media outlets:

English, baby! in the LA Times – New NBA Greeting?

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Last week I interviewed Sasha Vujacic, the Los Angeles Lakers‘ Slovenian point guard, for an English lesson. But before we even got it edited and on our site (it will be up Friday), the interview was mentioned in the LA Times:

Sasha Vujacic finished off his day doing a stand up interview for a website called English Baby!.  It appears to be a place where folks can come to improve their spoken English.  I don’t know exactly what they talked about, but the interview finished with the dude on the mic and Sasha high fiving and yelling, “English Baby!”  That’s going to be the first thing I do to Sasha when I walk into the locker room tomorrow night.  I encourage other members of the media to do the same.

The high-five was something we came up with for the Culture Cruise and did a lot of at the Olympics, but I felt it never got the attention it deserved, so thanks, Brian Kamenetzky, for giving it a bump! But the best part of the LA Times post was the comments. A lot of people simply signed off on their comments with “English, baby!” but some got more excited about this new greeting than others.

English, BABY!

That’s my new catch phrase. I don’t care what anyone says.

We’re not the only Lakers/English education connection:

Q: What’s 4+8?
A: English, baby!

Q: What’s for dinner?
A: English, baby!

Q: Who is 12th all time on the NBA’s all-time scoring list?
A: English, baby! (ok, that one’s actually correct)

The point is, this is my new answer to every question posed to me, at least until it becomes annoying enough that I get death threats.

English, baby!

It looks like my dream of starting an Internet meme may be on the horizon. Maybe I should call home, “Mom! I’m a lolcat!

New Lesson Layout on English, baby!

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

It’s nice when making the site a better place to learn also makes it look cooler. We’ve got some new ESL teacher brain power on our team at Ebaby! these days, so we’ve changed the way our lessons look to help people learn more from them. We hope you’ll find this looks nicer than our old layout too (it could be quite a bit of words all on one page).

Now each part of the lesson (intro, dialog, grammar, quiz, discussion) has a tab you can click on to see it. Each tab focuses on developing a different skills like building vocabulary and improving listening comprehension or grammar.

This new layout will also help you customize your learning and, we hope, get more out of our lessons. We find that the tab system encourages students to listen to the dialog multiple times, for maximum comprehension. Teachers can also use this format to make a lesson in which each part builds on the one before it.

Now members with free accounts can:

* Review vocab before you start a lesson.

* Easily go to a particular part of a lesson.

* Take the quiz and listen to the audio (or watch the video) without the dialog on the same page.

* Scroll down to the forum quicker. We hope more of you will share your thoughts on each lesson!

* Take the quiz without reading the dialog or without reading the discussion.

But people who are serious about learning English, or teachers who want to share these lesson with their classes, can do even more as Super Members! They can take a special vocab quiz, save vocab terms to learn later, print the lessons, download mp3s, or even ask questions of a live English teacher.

Go take a look at today’s lesson and tell us what you think of the way the lessons look now! We’d love to hear from you.

Ebaby! on Boomster Teach Abroad Post

Friday, January 16th, 2009

I was recently quoted as a source on teaching abroad in a post on boomster.com by Pam Baker.  It brought back some old memories about the time I spent in Japan and how our company got started. Here’s the full email I sent her for the post.

I taught in Japan right out of college and the experience led me to start a company that now helps a million people learn English.  Unlike many people who find a package deal that provides housing and a visa, I arrived in Tokyo in 1997 with the plan of teaching English until I found a job in business. I was able to switch teaching jobs several times over  six months until I got one I really liked and that paid well.

Shortly after, I began working for Hitachi, but I never forgot how eager all my students were to learn English and know more about American culture. In 2001 I returned to the US and co-founded English, baby! (englishbaby.com), which is now used by 1 million people to learn English through popular culture.

Teaching abroad can be very rewarding, but it can become a dead end after a while. I think it’s good to keep your flexibility so that you can make sure you have the best experience possible, and to always be thinking about how that experience can help you at whatever you do next. When we hire people to write lessons for our site, one of the main qualifications we consider is if the candidate has taught abroad and what they gained from their experience.