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Posts Tagged ‘celebrity english lessons’

Learning English with Fabio

Tuesday, 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! Teachers Win NBA Championship with Heat

Friday, 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

Thursday, 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

Wednesday, 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.




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.

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!

Ebaby! in the Media: Dime Magazine, Pitchfork and More

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

English, baby! in Dime Magazine
Dime Magazine, a New York-based basketball magazine that publishes in the US and China, features a full-page story on our basketball English lessons starring NBA players in its September edition. They let me pick the best quotes from the videos for the story. Click on the image to read it and download the whole issue here.

Our mission to help the world learn English from athletes and entertainers has garnered a lot of media attention since the last press round-up on this blog. Our lessons with world-famous DJ Girl Talk were covered by the Vatican of indie music, Pitchfork, as well as Prefix Magazine, Melophobe, The Miami New Times and The Music-RX. Our lessons with hip-hop legends Bone Thugs-n-Harmony got us back on the pages of XXL Magazine and HipHop DX.

Atlanta Hawks center Zaza Pachulia let us go through his suitcase before a road game for a fashion English lesson, and our pal Sekou Smith of NBA.com’s Hang Time blog gave us some love (link disabled due to lockout) as did the always kind Ball In Europe, and even the Hawks official site, which also covered our lesson with All-Star Al Horford (again, lockout = 404).

With our Portland Timbers now in the MLS, we’ve been focusing a lot more on soccer this season. A lesson with fan-favorite Gambian defender Futty Danso won the heart of Timbers blog, Dropping Timber. Lessons with French star Aurelien Collin landed us on soccer blog No Short Corners and Sporting Kansas City’s official Twitter feed.

Finally, Lindsay Pulsipher, an actress from one of my favorite TV shows, True Blood, recently appeared on Ebaby! and the Truebies took notice on sites such as True-Blood.net and TrueBlood-Online.com. The interview even made the local “Stardar Report” of Byron Beck. It’s nice to be popular.

Soccer Slang with David Beckham & Bryan Jordan

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

The Los Angeles Galaxy is a team of stars. They have David Beckham, the most famous player in the world. They have Landon Donovan, the best active American player. Plus they have a former MLS rookie of the year, goal keeper of the year, and many other well-known players.

So it was no surprise that there was lots of media hoping to talk to Galaxy players when they came to Portland to play the Timbers yesterday. Since we weren’t able to talk to him one-on-one, we were thrilled that David Beckham used the term “buzz” in his press conference. Perfect for a celebrity English lesson!

In fact, there was quite a buzz around town yesterday. It seemed like every other update on facebook was about Beckham or the match. People started lining up outside the stadium early in the day. You can read more about the woman with the sign in the video in this column by John Canzano.

When the Galaxy were getting off the bus to go into the arena, Donovan and Beckham got the biggest cheers, but next was Bryan Jordan, or BJ as he’s known. He was on loan to the Timbers a couple of seasons ago and is still a fan favorite here. We grabbed a few seconds alone with him to help our members learn the phrase “man on“.

Ultimately, the Timbers won 3-0. You can watch highlights of the game here.

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!