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Ebaby! Teachers Win NBA Championship with Heat

June 22nd, 2012

juwanMost of the discussion today about last night’s NBA Finals victory for Miami is about LeBron James. It makes sense. He’s their most famous player, and this is his first championship. The Heat’s other star, Dwayne Wade, has won before.

But this is also the first championship for two very well-respected players who have helped us teach English. Shane Battier, one of the smartest players in the league, came to Miami this year. When he played for the Rockets, he taught our members the term “buzzer beater.”

Shane didn’t hit any buzzer beaters in the finals that I recall, but he made plenty of other shots. He averaged more than 11 points per game in the Finals, his best performance of the Playoffs.

One well-known Heat player has waited much longer than LeBron for a championship. Twice as long, in fact. Juwan Howard–who just finished his 18th NBA season–won his first title last night as well. It must have been especially sweet for him since he narrowly missed the NCAA title twice in his college days.

We talked with him about his time with the Fab Five and the Big Three when the Heat was in Portland last year.

It’s hard to think of two players who deserve a championship more than Shane and Juwan, so we would like to congratulate them and their teammates, and thank them again for helping us help the world learn basketball slang.

Image: Juwan celebrates with LeBron in the Heat locker room last night.

As The World Learns Season 3: The Wedding

May 31st, 2012

The end of last season last left the characters of our English lesson soap opera series in bad shape. Jason and Devan had broken up and called off their wedding. Dale was gaining weight and his life was out of control.

The most recent cycle of episodes resumes the excitement of the first season in which Devan and Jason got engaged, and takes it to the next level. Each episode, which teaches a particular slang term or idiom, saw things slowly improve for the characters and move toward the wedding finale.

We had a lot of fun with this season–about half the episodes feature musical sequences. We hope you enjoy learning from them or sharing them with your students. As always, these videos are semi-scripted in order to show authentic English dialog.

Watch all 10 videos here and see the guide below for links to the full lessons.

3.01 – Misery Loves Company: Devan and Mason watch a sad movie together.
3.02 – Man Up: Marni gives Jason advice about how to fix things with Devan.
3.03 – Face the Music: Ella (and music by Workout) helps Dale with his weight problem.
3.04 – Take Someone Back: Jason asks for Devan’s forgiveness…in song.
3.05 – Hottie: Mason tells everyone at the office that he has a girlfriend.
3.06 – Get Over Someone: Ella considers that maybe Mason has gotten over her.
3.07 – Heartbroken: Ella has a strange feeling. What could it be?
3.08 – Bro Down: Jason holds his bachelor party at an arcade (music by Spamtron).
3.09 – Held Up: A robbery makes Devan late to the wedding.
3.10 – Without a Hitch: After she arrives, Devan and Jason’s wedding goes perfectly.

English, baby! in the WSJ

May 30th, 2012

Today’s edition of The Wall Street Journal includes an article about American slang that features several quotes from English, baby! co-founder and CEO John Hayden. It’s an honor to be alongside so many exciting companies and fascinating individuals in this story in one of our country’s most well-respected and widely read publications.

We had fun looking at our most popular English lessons and terms gathering information for the story, too. We can’t really give too much thought to what slang people want to learn and why. The writer of the piece, Alina Dizik, did a great job of pressing us to think hard about these questions and including some great perspectives and anecdotes in the piece.

I especially like the story about Jie Teng, a business student in China who misused the term “hook up.” This is exactly the situation we had in mind while creating an upcoming lesson on the term “fool around.” We walked a fine line to make it clear that this term has plenty of innocent meanings–and a not-so-innocent one–without being over the top.

In fact, I think someone like Jie Teng is often who we have in mind when we create our lessons in general. She’s driven and studying English for a purpose. It’s crucial that we be honest with her and show her how Americans really speak so that she can pursue her goals. Our members trust us not to lead them into embarrassing mistakes, and we take that responsibility very seriously.




Ebaby! making news in China and Taiwan

March 13th, 2012

johnWith Linsanity, we all just witnessed not only the creation of a star, but the birth of a new slang term (we even made an English lesson about it). A lot of people have had a lot of fun punning on Jeremy Lin’s name. It almost seems like one of those exercises the teacher breaks out at the end of the language class to keep the attention of the students for the last few minutes.

Following the profile of English, baby! in Reuters last month, CNA, the official news agency of Taiwan, asked English, baby! to weigh in on Linsanity. They published a detailed story about our basketball English lessons and the effect that Jeremy Lin may have on the English-learning youth of Asia. The story was picked up by Sina, Yahoo! and more. If you decide to read it using Google translate, it helps to know that “Linsanity” comes through as “magic forest.” See that? We are officially more on top of the trends than Google.

English, baby! co-founder and CEO John Hayden also appeared on a Taiwanese news program called Next TV talking about Linsanity.

Since so many of our members are in China, we like to ask the celebrities we talk to about their travels there. The largest English newspaper in China, China Daily, recently published a story about our interviews with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard.

Ironically, the biggest time for the NBA in China is actually the summer, when players do personal appearances and there are exhibition games. I can’t wait to see what heights the excitement reaches this year–and what new slang emerges in the meantime.

English, baby! on Reuters, PIE News, more

February 24th, 2012

Reuters-Logo1With “Linsanity” driving the conversation about the NBA in Asia, and the All-Star game this weekend, international news outlet Reuters took the opportunity to write a story about English, baby! focusing on our English lessons starring NBA players.

“The strategy seems to be a hit with teachers and students,” says the article. It was certainly a hit with media outlets that syndicate Reuters ‘ content. The story was picked up by the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, NBCYahoo! and many others.

This mainstream press follows some great attention from an outlet that is rapidly gaining attention in the education field, the PIE News (Professionals in International Education). They ran a profile of our company. We’re thrilled to be part of the conversation on their site.

Over at the Classical, a heady and fascinating culture and news site, a very well-respected basketball writer (formerly of Free Darko fame), put together a piece that goes behind the scenes of our English lesson with Dwight Howard. It’s definitely worth a read. And if there was any doubt that we are helping keep Portland weird, IFC’s Portlandia blog covered our unique way of teaching spoken English and slang as well.

We’re honored to have all these great words written about what we’re doing. Of course, we do love the camera here on English, baby! Fortunately, our local Fox station offered to produce a segment about our English lessons with athletes for a program called Oregon Sports Final.

Thanks so much Larry Fine,  Dan Thomas, Dan Sheldon, Bethlehem Shoals, Matt Singer and everyone else who contributed to these stories. We really appreciate it.

Teach English? TV On The Radio Drummer Says, 'Will Do'

February 23rd, 2012

When people on TV shows run into celebrities in New York, it’s usually not in Brooklyn. But there are more people worthy of starring in a celebrity English lesson than you might think on the other side of the East River. On a recent visit to Union Pool to see Reverend Vince Anderson, a friend pointed out that the guitarist in the band was none other than Jaleel Bunton, drummer for Brooklyn-based, world famous band, TV On The Radio. In fact, Jaleel has DJed before at the bar where my friend works.

“Do you think he’d do a lesson for English, baby!” I asked?

“We can check,” he said.

So at the intermission, we edged our way through the crowd toward Jaleel. He immediately agreed to help us teach spoken English to fans overseas and suggested the alley behind the bar as a quiet place to do the interview.

I handed my friend my iPhone and asked Jaleel to talk about the title of a recent TVOTR song, “Will Do,” and explain how this phrase can be used. The result was this English lesson. He did a great job. You can’t even tell that he had no warning. Note the cars on the freeway overpass in the background.

Jaleel was happy to contribute to our mission to help people around the world learn slang, but after he explained the idiom “will do,” he took a moment to question its usefulness in present-day America. This didn’t make the final edit of the lesson video, but enjoy this outtake in which Jaleel expresses some concern that if ESL students from China come to New York and use “will do” in a conversation, it may not go well for them.

I may not be from Brooklyn, but I really think you’ll be fine if you use this expression anywhere in the US. And certainly, your girlfriend or boyfriend won’t mind if you use it like in the TV On The Radio song.

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

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

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

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.

From Brazil to Turkey, Ebaby! Friends

January 7th, 2012

Every now and then, we hear stories of people who met on English, baby! visiting one another in real life. We believe that a social environment helps people learn English. So when our members form bonds strong enough to make international trips to see each other, we think that is a really cool thing.

Recently, some Ebaby! members I got to meet a few years ago had another international guest. Zeus from Turkey and Kinski from Ukraine met on English, baby! and got married a few years ago. I went to their wedding and made a video about it. It was an incredible good time.

Another one of Zeus’ Ebaby! friends, Rita, traveled from Brazil with a friend to visit Zeus and Kinski in Istanbul last fall. They are amazing hosts, so I’m sure a fantastic time was had by all. Zues describes meeting his online friend of 6 years at the airport:

“You can not imagine at that moment, feelings were maximum. We hugged and get happy to see eachother. Than we went to their hotel. We showed them Istanbul’s beauties and they loved much Istanbul.”

From the look of it, Istanbul loved them back, too.

They also visited some of the sites I saw on my trip. I know I was right here:

And here:

I wish I had visited this place. Looks cool! Guess I’ll have to go back.

Have you met your Ebaby! friends in real life? Tell us about it!