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"Dime," "And One," "Heart," and Other Sports Slang with the Phoenix Suns

Monday, February 13th, 2012

Steve Nash and Jason SimmsThe Phoenix Suns have some of the smartest and most fun players anywhere in sports. We’ve featured some of their stars in our celebrity English lesson series before such as Marcin Gortat (before he was a Sun) and Channing Frye. But at a recent practice, we got some great new basketball slang definitions from Steve Nash and Grant Hill.

A two-time MVP, Steve Nash is famously good at assists and free throws. So we figured we’d stick to those areas of the game and asked him to start with a lesson on the term “dime.” He really went above and beyond by explaining the origin of the phrase.

Then we moved on to a lesson about the term “and one.”

It’s amazing to meet someone who fully embodies a quality all good players seek to have. Grant Hill has won the NBA’s sportsmanship award three times. So we asked him to teach a lesson about how the term “heart” is used in sports.

Finally, we were able to catch up with Jared Dudley, who we interviewed a couple of years ago. Jared is one of the most media savvy players in the NBA. He regularly posts behind-the-scenes videos of his teammates on JMZ, his own take on the gossip outlet, TMZ.

We asked Jared to teach a slang phrase that is popular at the moment, and he talked to us about the word “swag,” which is also the subject of a lesson by Zaza Pachulia.

These great new English lessons got finished up just in time for this article about English, baby! on the blog of Portlandia, a TV series on IFC that mocks our hometown.

Dwight Howard Teaches English, Speaks Chinese

Sunday, February 5th, 2012

Dwight Howard funny faceJust before Dwight Howard was named as the starting center for the Eastern Conference All-Star team for the fourth year in a row, he became the latest NBA player to help English, baby! teach basketball slang. The Orlando Magic star definitely brought a lot of character to our English lesson/interview format. When I asked him to pose for a photo, he made the face you see here.

Dwight also got creative with the slang he wanted to teach. As this article in The Classical explains, we originally asked Dwight to teach the term “rejected,” a common slang term for blocked shots. But he said he doesn’t really like that term. So since we only had a moment with him, we just turned on the camera and asked him what he would like to teach. Here’s what happened.

Personally, I had never heard the phrase “beat it up” before, although in a previous basketball English lesson, Dwight’s former teammate Marcin Gortat said something similar. And since we’re all about teaching the latest, most authentic American slang, I think it’s great Dwight shared this term with us.

But that wasn’t even the biggest surprise of the interview. I had no idea Dwight would break out some Chinese phrases when I asked him about visiting China. Since more of our members come from China than anywhere else, I loved seeing Dwight use the English, baby! forum to connect with his fans there. The moment shows a side of Dwight that appeals to native speakers as well. The Orlando Magic posted the video on their website to share it with the hometown fans, and our friends at Australian basketball site A Stern Warning, shared the interview with their readership, too.

As the World Learns Season 2: Things Fall Apart

Friday, January 13th, 2012

The English, baby! ESL soap opera recently finished airing its second set of 10 episodes. Each is focused on a specific idiom or American slang phrase and packed with related vocabulary, grammar and laughs. Lots of laughs.

Though, this season was a little darker. After Jason and Devan got engaged last season, things start to get a little heavy. Literally, in Dale’s case. Watch all 10 videos here and see the guide below for links to the full lessons.

2.01 – Get Hitched: Devan and Jason announce to their friends that they are getting married.
2.02 – Let Oneself Go: Dale’s co-workers start to notice that he isn’t taking care of himself.
2.03 – Two Cents: Devan’s friends all have ideas about her wedding.
2.04 – Odd Man Out: All of Jason’s friends want to be groomsmen at the wedding.
2.05 – Over The Top: Marni takes Devan shopping for a wedding dress and simplicity rules.
2.06 – Bridezilla: Devan goes crazy as she and Jason register for wedding gifts.
2.07 – Cold Feet: Jason visits Mason at the dumpster for advice and ends up with socks.
2.08 – The Breaking Point: Jason reaches his limit for wedding planning.
2.09 – Hurt Someone’s Feelings: Jeff confronts Dale about his weight and feelings get hurt.
2.10 – Call Something Off: Jason wants to call off the wedding. Devan cancels their relationship.

Learning Soccer Slang with International Stars

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

We recently got a taste of World Cup action just up the street from the English, baby! office in Portland. The US Women’s National Team took on the Canadians, and two of the athletes were happy to teach some new vocabulary to our members around the world.

Canadian goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc talked about the number one term every goalie must know, “save”. She was tons of fun. We grabbed her right after she said hello to ESPN broadcaster and women’s soccer legend Julie Foudy (pictured above).

There were a few hundred fans there to watch the teams practice. Just before signing some autographs, US defender Ali Krieger gave us an interview. Since she’s such a smart player and a leader, we had her teach the more abstract term “distribution.” She also happened to use the phrase “sink or swim,” so we turned that into a second video.

We also recently featured a pair of lessons by the only Japanese player in MLS, Kosuke Kimura. He talks about last year’s MLS Cup in which his Colorado Rapids pulled off a come from behind victory, and he demonstrates how to “cut the angle” in a hotel lobby. This easy going attitude has made Kosuke a fan favorite, so it’s no surprise that these videos were covered by soccer blogs including Soccer 365 and Burgundy Wave.

You can find more soccer slang lessons on English, baby! See you next season.

As the World Learns Season 1: The Proposal

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

After 165 nonstop episodes, it seemed time to start producing the English, baby! soap opera, As the World Learns, in seasons. Watch all 10 episodes of the romantic first season right here. Each episode is an English lesson focused on a particular phrase. See the episode guide below for links to the full lessons.

1.01 – Left Out: Get to know the Ebaby! cast while the men of the office get left out.
1.02 – Glass Ceiling: The women of the office have a plan to break the glass ceiling.
1.03 – Girls’ Night Out: On a girls’ night out, the women make a discovery.
1.04 – Plant the Seed: Devan starts planting the seed to get what she wants.
1.05 – Pop the Question: Mason catches Jason practicing to pop the question.
1.06 – Break the Bank: Jason asks Jeff how to get a ring that won’t break the bank.
1.07 – Have Second Thoughts: Trouble at the office gives Jason second thoughts.
1.08 – Spill the Beans: Mason spills the beans about Jason’s plan.
1.09 – Chicken Out: Jason has a plan, but will he chicken out?
1.10 – It Just Slipped Out: Jason let’s something very important just slip out.

Season 2 starts in November. Don’t miss the wedding planning drama! Thanks for supporting coolest English lessons anywhere. Tell your friends!

International LPGA Stars Teach Golf Vocabulary

Friday, September 16th, 2011

With our Celebrity English Lesson series, the philosophy is, you might as well learn from the best. While we’ve had guest teachers from all sorts of sports and entertainment fields, it’s rare that we get someone who is actually the very best at what they do (gold medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo and Girl Talk come to mind). So we’re thrilled to have defending LPGA Champion and number female 1 golfer in the world, Taiwanese superstar Yani Tseng.

Yani shares some basic golf terms and talks about learning English. At 22, she’s the youngest golfer ever to win 5 majors, so the fact that she acquired excellent English skills along the way is no small accomplishment!

We spoke with Yani at the LPGA Safeway Classic in North Plains, Oregon. Our friend John Canzano even mentioned us in his coverage of the event for The Oregonian. It was the Pro-Am day, and a couple of other well-known players were available to help us teach English as well. Korean star IK Kim was practicing on the putting green when we found her and chatted about the phrase “hole in one”.

Beatriz Recari was actually checking out some sunglasses from a vendor on the fairway (Spaniards love them some shades), but was happy to share her favorite golf term, “stinger”, with us and talk about her mission to learn exotic languages.

After we talked to Beatriz, she headed off to lunch. Food came up in our interview with Yani as well, so we put together this bonus clip just for the blog.

The LPGA Tour is heading to Taiwan, Korea, Malaysia and Mexico this fall, as well as other places. Say hi for us if you see any of these athletes!

Tackling Challenges with Aurelien Collin

Sunday, July 24th, 2011

Aurelien Collin is one of those people you meet and instantly wish was your good friend. He is so fun and energetic and you don’t even have to talk to him to see it–you can tell by the way he plays.

Even at training, Collin is a physical player, making plays for the ball, shouting and waving his arms. When he’s on the pitch representing Sporting Kansas City, he’s an animal–no one can miss this French star.

Naturally, we asked him to teach some fairly active terms when he agreed to be our latest celebrity English teacher. We started off with challenge because I had heard that Collin only had a couple of weeks to get ready for the season after joining his new team in KC. That sounded like a challenge to me. Of course, Collin said it wasn’t a challenge at all, but we talked about other types of challenges.

Next, we asked Collin to explain tackle.

Watching Collin speak English is kind of like watching him stop a striker. He has to get creative and he tackles the problem with confidence. MLS and Sporting KC are lucky to have this guy and so are we!

Learning English with True Blood Star Lindsay Pulsipher

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

This Sunday, the fourth season of True Blood on HBO begins. This show has a lot of fans in the US and around the world, and it also has its own set of vocabulary that its international fans might have some trouble with.

Fortunately, one of the actresses from the show, Lindsay Pulsipher, who plays Crystal starting in season 3, is our latest celebrity English teacher. At a recent showing of her new film, The Oregonian, we asked her to talk about the term “shapeshifter” and, since her character likes to turn into a panther, the phrase “cat got your tongue” in an English lesson.

Lindsay was so kind and very happy to help us teach English. We’re excited to see her in True Blood this season and hopefully in more movies in the future. You can see a trailer for The Oregonian here, and a scene from True Blood with Lindsay in it here. Both are a little too intense to embed on an English education blog, but if you like supernatural and scary stuff, you will probably enjoy them!

Soccer Slang with Futty Danso

Friday, May 13th, 2011

Soccer is getting more popular in the US every year. Here in Portland, we have a Major League Soccer team for the first time: Timbers FC. The team is very popular, and whenever I tell fans that our latest celebrity English teacher is Futty Danso, they get really excited.

From his energy on the pitch, to the way he celebrates after scoring a goal, you can tell Futty is a great guy. Even though one of his teammates had just been carted away holding his ankle on the day we met with Futty at training, he was happy to talk to us. John Strong was there covering the training for 95.5 The Game, and he suggested we have Futty talk about the term “shape,” so that’s what we went with for our first lesson with him.

After we talked to him, Futty agreed to let me throw some balls at him to demonstrate different traps for another lesson.

If you’d like to learn more about Futty, take a look at this fascinating interview with him about his childhood and Gambian soccer.

Girl Talk Teaches Slang

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Gregg Gillis, who makes music under the name Girl Talk, is a really smart guy. His music alone gives that away–it can’t be easy to mix parts of more than 300 songs into one very danceable album. Before Girl Talk became his job, he was an engineer, and you can hear how scientifically he speaks in these English lesson videos we recorded with him during his tour stop in Portland.

First, we talked about the phrase “out of the blue” and how his latest album, All Day, surprised everyone.

Then, we talked about the term “sample.”

It was so nice of Gregg to spend 15 minutes or so with us both in his dressing room and up on the stage. He really seemed to get the concept of our Celebrity English Lessons and said he had watched the one with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony and liked it.

Interestingly, before this interview with Gregg took place, we had been planning to run a music English lesson about Girl Talk anyway. We recorded a conversation about him for the dialog. You can listen to me and Ella from the Ebaby! cast chatting about All Day below. And don’t forget, you can always download the album for free!