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Volcanos in Colombia, Literal and Figurative

In Colombia and Latin America, we are experiencing a few eruptions right now.  Mexico is dealing with Popocatepetl located close to Mexico City.  Meanwhile Colombia is facing the rumblings of Nevado de Ruiz. Nevado de Ruiz has been causing problems for a few weeks now, and the language used to describe the volcano is rich with literal and figurative uses — erupt, explode, blow up, rumble... the list of colorful verbs goes on.

Volcano movie

Why do we use so much volcano vocabulary? Volcanos are very powerful forces in nature.  According to the above movie they could destroy the world.  Some say they did — the world of the dinosaurs was destroyed by volcanos according to some research. Volcanos are so powerful they have been thought to be the homes of gods.  A humerous movie with Tom Hanks captures this idea in Joe versus the Volcano. Volcanos are violent and unpredictable so volcano vocabulary is often related to angry actions.  So what volcano-related words and phrases can we use?

Rumble  – LITERALLY a deep, heavy, somewhat muffled, continuous sound [ruido sordo, el ruido de volcan]

The volcano rumbled ominously as they approached.

FIGURATIVELY a widespread murmur of discontent [murmullo de quejas]

The CEO noted there had been rumblings among the personnel about the change in coffee brands.

Barney Belches, The Simpsons

Barney belches because of beer.

Belch – to emit contents violently or spasmodically [eructar]

The volcano belched ash and sulferous gases into the air.

The boy belched loudly after drinking the Coca Cola.

Spew / vomit – to send or be sent out in a stream, sometimes in disgust or anger [vomitar, arrojar]

The volcano spewed lava through the night.

The angry words spewed from the employee without thought.

Erupt – to eject or burst forth suddenly and violently, as from restraint [entrar en erupción, estallar]

The volcano erupted without warning, covering Pompey in lava.

All of a sudden Mark Cuban erupted and began yelling at the referee.

Blow up / Explode – LITERALLY to burst, fly into pieces, break up violently with a loud report or noise [hacer explotar]

FIGURATIVELY to burst forth violently or emotionally, especially with noise,laughter, violent speech [explotar, estallar]

The volcano exploded like a bomb.

The boss blew up when he learned his employees were stealing.

Blow One's Top

Uh oh. He is blowing his top!

Blow one’s top / blow one’s stack – LITERALLY explode [hacer explotar]

FIGURATIVELY go crazy with rage, lose one’s composure, become insane [cabrearse, enfadarse muchisimo]

Here’s a great article by AOL News using ‘blow’s one’s top’ in relation to an unexpected action by a flight attendant.

People describe Steven Slater as a nice guy, but yesterday the flight attendant for JetBlue apparently totally lost control following an argument with a passenger.

Slater was working on a flight from Pittsburgh that had landed at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, when he was hit on the head by a bag a passenger was pulling out early from an overhead compartment.

According to the New York Daily News, words were exchanged and Slater’s reaction was to blow his top. He spewed profanity at stunned passengers, grabbed a beer and activated the plane’s emergency slide, then bolted off the plane.

Passengers told the News as part of his rant, Slater, 38, said he planned to quit the airline.

A JetBlue co-worker who was on the flight, calls Slater a working-class hero.

“It’s something we all fantasize about,” she tells the newspaper. “But we have kids and a mortgage or are just too chicken – or sane – to go through with [it].”

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Original definitions provided by


Las Palabras Correctas para Negociar en inglés

…The Right Words to Negotiate in English

Negotiating Tactics


Business and business negotiation sometimes has very similar words in Spanish and English. Part of this is due to the Latin and French influences in English and part of this reflects the global nature of English and its importance worldwide. Below is a great list of vocabulary with Spanish definitions.

Need English for business? Contact Bogota Business English today.

Want more Business vocabulary? Check out our other blog posts.

Part of speech
Meaning (Spanish) Example Sentence
other options (alternativas) We can’t offer you the raise you requested, but let’s discuss some other alternatives.
expand; give more information (ampliar) Could you amplify on your proposal please.
conflict that is addressed by using a neutral third party (arbitraje) We’re better to settle this between us, because a formal arbitration will cost both of us money.
try to change a person’s mind by using various tactics (negociar) We bargained on the last issue for over an hour before we agreed to take a break.
the lowest one is willing to go (el mínimo posible resultado de negociar que una parte puede aceptar) I’ll accept a raise of one dollar per hour, but that’s my bottom-line.
together (conjunto, colectivo) This is a collective concern, and it isn’t fair to discuss it without Marie present.
make up for a loss (compensar) If you are willing to work ten extra hours a week we will compensate you by paying you overtime.
agree (acceder) I’d be willing to comply if you can offer me my own private office.
changing one’s mind/terms slightly in order to find a resolution (transar, transigir) We are willing to compromise on this issue because it means so much to you.
a thing that is granted or accepted (concesión) I think we can offer all of these concessions, but not all at once.
conflict resolution
general term for negotiations (resolución de conflictos) It is impossible to engage in conflict resolution when one of the parties refuses to listen.
present an issue to someone directly (afrontar, enfrentar) I confronted my boss about being undervalued, and we’re going to talk about things on Monday.
agreement by all (consenso) It would be great if we could come to a consensus by 5:00 P.M.
the working together (cooperación) I have appreciated your cooperation throughout these negotiations.
counter proposal
the offer/request which is presented second in response to the first proposal (contraoferta, contrapropuesta) In their counter proposal they suggested that we keep their company name rather than creating a new one.
present other side of an issue (contraataque) Before we could start our counterattack they suggested we sign a contract.
person on the other side of the negotiations (homólogo) I tried to close the discussions at noon, but my counterpart would not stop talking.
politely (cortésmente, cordialmente) In the past I have had little respect for that client, but today she spoke cordially and listened to my point of view.
needs/expectations that one side believes it deserves (exigencias) They had some last minute demands that were entirely unrealistic.
point where neither party will give in (punto muerto) When the discussions came to a deadlock we wrote up a letter of intent to continue the negotiations next week.
argument/conflict (disputa, conflicto) I was hoping to avoid discussing last year’s dispute, but Monica is still holding a grudge.
have the most control/stronger presence (dominar) Max has such a loud voice, he tends to dominate the conversations.
be deserving of (tener derecho a..) My contract says that I am entitled to full benefits after six months of employment.
open/willing to change (flexible) We have always been flexible in terms of your working hours.
get down to brass tacks
to get to the point or the details of a negotiation (ir al grano, ir al punto) Americans like to get down to brass tacks as quickly as possible.
arguing back and forth (often about prices) (regatear) We’ve been haggling over this issue for too long now.
long-term anger towards another (hostilidad) I want you to know that we don’t have any hostility towards your company despite last year’s mixup.
make a request that is much higher than you expect to receive (oferta o demanda más alta que las expectativas) I’m planning to high-ball my expectations when I open the discussion.
quick decision without thought or time (impulso, decisión sin pensar) I acted on impulse when I signed that six-month contract. Maybe that was bad.
has difficulty choosing/making a decision (indeciso) They were so indecisive we finally asked them to take a break and come back next week.
(bargaining power) something that gives one party a greater chance at succeeding over another (palanca) We have a little bit of leverage because we are the only stationary company in town.
trading one favour for another (intercambiar favores) After a bit of log-rolling we came to an agreement that pleased both of us.
offer something much lower than you think the opponent will ask for (oferta o demanda más baja que las expectativas) I was expecting my boss to low-ball in the initial offer, but he proposed a fair salary increase.
convince by altering or not telling the whole truth about something (inducir por error, engañar) They misled us into thinking that everything could be resolved today.
agreed by both or all (mutuo) The decision to call off the merger was mutual.
goal for the outcome (objetivo) My prime objective is to have my family members added to my benefits plan.
point of view
person’s ideas/ thoughts (punto de vista) From my point of view it makes more sense to wait another six months.
work hard to convince another of an idea (presión) He pressured me to accept the terms by using intimidation tactics.
argument to present (propuesta) While I listened to their proposal I noted each of their objectives.
open to/interested in an idea (receptivo) His positive body language demonstrated that he was receptive to our suggestions.
anger held onto from a previous conflict (resentimiento, rencor) Mary’s resentment stems from our not choosing her to head the project.
a display of opposition (resistencia) We didn’t expect so much resistance on the final issue.
end conflict, come to an agreement (resolver, aclarar) Before you can resolve your differences you’ll both need to calm down.
strategies used to get one’s goals met (táctica) There are certain tactics that all skillful negotiators employ.
feeling of stress/anxiety caused by heavy conflict (tensión, tirantez) There was a lot of tension in the room when George threatened to quit.
terms that are offered in return for something else (solución de compromiso) Lower payments over a longer period of time sounded like a fair trade-off until we asked about interest charges.
throw off
To throw or throw off, to distract (distraer) George was breathing fire and it really was starting to throw me off my game plan.
a final term that has serious consequences if not met (ultimátum) His ultimatum was that if I didn’t agree to give him the raise he asked for, he’d quit today without two week’s notice.
very unlikely to happen (poco realista) It’s unrealistic to think that we will have all of our demands met.
a win (victoria) We considered it a victory because they agreed to four of our five terms.
to give in to another’s requests (cedar) The client will only yield to our conditions, if we agree to work over Easter weekend.

Sometimes negotiation can be an arm-wrestling match. Careful, the bigger side usually wins.

Thanks to for their initial resource. Modifications and adaptations to Colombia made by BBE.

Start your practice negotiating in English with Bogota Business English!

¿Por qué aprendes inglés? 6 motivos para aprender

…Why Learn English? 6 Reasons to Learn

Hay varios motivos para aprender inglés.  Hablaremos de algunos a continuación  pero lo más importante es…

Motivo 1 Quieres aprender inglés.

Aprendemos algo porque lo deseamos

Dice en inglés Aprendemos algo porque lo deseamos

Si no tienes ganas de aprender inglés, ¡es muy complicado aprender el idioma!  Si el inglés es un requisito de trabajo pero no deseas aprenderlo, no vas a entender.  Necesitamos el deseo de aprender.  Si no lo tenemos, no aprendemos bien. Es como cuando vemos temas en el colegio o la universidad y no recordamos bien esos temas porque el estudio era forzado, es decir no era deseado.  Para muchos, el inglés era un requisito para matricularse o para obtener buenas notas pero no lo deseaban estudiar en ese momento.  Y al final cuanto aprenden? Poco o nada.

Entonces es importante que todos siempre tengamos este motivo principal… que deseemos aprender inglés.  Es excelente sí es así y te felicito, ya estas listo para estudiar inglés.  El estudio del  inglés es invertir en uno de los activos más importantes que tenemos, mejor dicho nosotros mismos.  El inglés es una herramienta invaluable para el negocio, la vida y pues nuestro futuro.

Motivo 2 Inglés es para negocios internacionales.

El inglés es y seguirá siendo el idioma común de negocios internacionales.  A pesar del desarrollo de poderes regionales y la potencia de China, el inglés es el idioma de los mercados financieros más grandes en el mundo y es el idioma del comprador más grande en el mundo, Estados Unidos.  En este momento Colombia desarrolla su capacidad importadora y exportadora a nivel mundial lo cual incluye tratados de libre comercio. Pronto Colombia tendrá la capacidad de comerciar sin aranceles con decenas de paises que hablan inglés lo que implica un cambio drástico en la necesidad de inglés.

Obama y Santos para TLC

Obama y Santos saben que los TLC vienen a Colombia!

¿Sabias? Colombia tiene o está realizando más que 15 tratados de libre comercio con socios comerciales tales como la Unión Europea (27 paises incluyendo Francia, Alemania y los países eslavos) , USA (se incluyen los estados de California y Nueva York los cuales tienen un PIB más grande que la mayoria de países en el mundo), Canadá, los países Caribeños (Belice, Jamaica y el resto de las colonias antiguas de Inglaterra y Holanda), los paises libres de Europa (incluyendo Suiza y Noruega el cual es rico con ingresos petroleros), Corea del Sur, Japon, Turquía, Jordania, entre otros.   Los negocios con estos países se realizan en inglés.

Motivo 3 Se utiliza inglés en las publicaciones científicas importantes.

El inglés se habla en la mayoría de negocios internacionales pero igual es utilizado en las ciencias.  Si quieres acceder a la comunidad científica más grande, necesitas saber inglés. A continuación hay algunos ejemplos.

Una de las publicaciones mas importantes de medicina,  el New England Journal of Medecine, está escrito en inglés.

El informe sobre la partícula más rápida que la luz ya está disponible en varios idiomas pero el anuncio inicial y el correspondiente informe era en inglés.

Uno de los mejores recursos de pensamiento empresarial, el Harvard Business Review, no publica sus estudios de caso en español.

El software está desarrollado en inglés y la mayoría de los recursos vanguardistas para programación y tecnología está escrita en inglés.

Los proyectos grandes y de las multinacionales de ingeniería son realizados en inglés.

Las clases de las universidades más superiores en el mundo tales como Yale, Princeton y Oxford no se enseñan en otros idiomas. Necesitas saber inglés para aprender ahí. (Y para estudiar ahi, necesitas buenos resultados en los exámenes TOEFL o IELTS, averigua más aqui sobre IELTS Y TOEFL!)

Motivo 4 El inglés aparece en las normas internacionales.

Los estándares internacionales están escritos en inglés. Los comités de normas a nivel mundial se ubican en Nueva York, Londres, Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea donde hablan inglés. Algunos ejemplos están a continuación.

Colombia se une los estándares internacionales de contabilidad (IFRS por sus siglas en inglés) los cuales definen las cuentas en inglés.  El inglés será muy importante para los contadores.

En arquitectura, las normas de construcción sustentable tales como la certificación LEED están escritas en inglés.

Los estándares de eficiencia como los de ISO están escritos en inglés.

Para competir con el resto del mundo, es necesario aprender inglés.

Motivo 5 El inglés para viajar.

Bien sea que vayas a Europa, Reino Unido, Estados Unidos, India o Asia, algún manejo de inglés va a enriquecer la experiencia y permitirte disfrutarla más. Es posible visitar EEUU sin hablar inglés pero te perderías la belleza y la experiencia verdadera de conocer el país. Para conocer un lugar y su cultura, hay que conocer la gente y eso solo será posible cuando hablas inglés.

Motivo 6 Mejorar tu español.

Parece raro pero cuando aprendes un segundo idioma, mejoras tu manejo de la lengua materna y la precisión de expresar ideas.  El estudio de idiomas revela que la misma idea se expresa con distintas imágenes y metáforas.  Aprenderás más de tu idioma nativo con el repaso de tiempos verbales, preposiciones, vocabulario y otras partes del discurso que usas diariamente sin pensar.

Se dice que los mejores escritores y poetas eran poliglotas: Gabriel Garcia MarquezJorge Luis Borges, Pablo NerudaOctavio Paz, entre otros.

¿Por qué aprendes el inglés? Dínos en facebook o twitter.

¿Quieres aprender inglés hoy? Contacta a Bogota Business English.

Qué significa work on? Job o Work?

…What does “work on” really mean? What about “job” versus “work?”

Hay una diferencia entre el verbo work y el verbo work on. También usamos job y work para distintas aplicaciones de la palabra trabajo. Sabías?

Hemos comentado con el sustantivo Fellow sobre el problema de aprender lenguaje de diccionarios o traductores.  No podemos llegar al uso común o nativo de las palabras.  Por eso recomendamos clases personalizadas con los excelentes profesores de Bogota Business English.

Bueno, miramos los significados, viniendo de FreeDictionary y ordenados por el uso más común. Hemos incluido algunos ejemplos del uso común:

Mr Cyan needs to work on his listening skills!

Mr Cyan needs to work on his listening skills!

Work on –  1) to exert effort in order to do, make, or perform something (trabajar en, realizar),

Jared from Subway works on losing weight by eating a sub sandwich.

2) to shape, form, or improve a material  (hacer, mejorar, realizar)

Judy works on her report.

3) to persuade or influence or attempt to persuade or influence (influir, persuadir)

The protestors worked on the media{s sympathy in order to get changes to the Transmilenio system.

Work (verb) – 1) To make, achieve, or pay for by work or effort (trabajar, hacer, lograr) 

Most people work to earn a living.

2) To cause to operate or function; actuate, use, or manage  (operar, usar, manejar)

I worked the door until it opened.
I worked the team to finish the project.

The men are at work.

The men are at work.

Work (noun) – 1) Physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something (trabajo)

To shine shoes is work.

2) One’s place of employment (trabajo, lugar de empleo)

At my work we have a coffee machine.

3) A job; employment (trabajo, empleo)

In Colombia there are many people without work.

4) The part of a day devoted to an occupation or undertaking (jornada, trabajo)

During work, I don’t check facebook.

5) Something that has been produced or accomplished through the effort, activity, or agency of a person or thing (obra)

Van Gogh has many famous works.
The engineering works were completed by the Wood Group.


Your English is a work in progress.

Your English is a work in progress.

Job –  1) A regular activity performed in exchange for payment, especially as one’s trade, occupation, or profession. (trabajo, empleo)

I got a job to pay my rent.
My job is great! I really love what I do.
The best job in the world is working for Bogota Business English.

2) A specified duty or responsibility (tarea, trabajo)

What jobs are you working on right now?
I have a few jobs at the moment including the project for the English client.

Mira algunos videos sobre jobs, work, y working on escuchar inglés!

Work on your English with Bogota Business English personalized programs!


Sleeping at Work, Dormir en el trabajo

Asleep at work or just boxes?

Sleeping at Work, view 1. (HT The Clearly Dope)

Definitely asleep!

Sleeping at work, view 2. (HT The Clearly Dope)









It’s Friday.  Maybe we were out late celebrating International Women’s Day.  Maybe it is just a rough morning.  Maybe you are asking “How can I catch a few zzz’s?”  We have the box method above.  Also, check out this funny video on ways to sleep at work.

Not enough time in the day to sleep and travel blocks and kilometers to class? Take a personalized class that comes to your home or office.  Contact Bogota Business English.


To sleep = the state of unconciousness that recharges the body, usually at night. [dormir]

To be asleep = a descriptive but passive way of describing someone/something sleeping. [estar dormido]

To catch zzz’s = to sleep

To catch some shuteye = to sleep

To nod off = to go to sleep [empezar a dormir]

A Rough Morning = a difficult morning [una mañana dura]

To be out late = to be having fun or party to a late hour [salir hasta la madrugada]

To stay up late = to not go to sleep until a late hour [no acostarse hasta la madrugada]

To not sleep well = to have difficulty with the right amount or the right quality of sleep [no dormir bien]

A good night’s rest = sleeping well for the right amount or right quality of sleep [una noche de dormir bien]


NOTE: Bogota Business English does not endorse sleeping at work!! We recommend you get a good night’s rest and a full breakfast in order to be as productive as possible. 🙂

Bogota Business English has well-rested, passionate andfun teachers that keep students active and interested in learning.  Don’t fall asleep in another class again! Contact Bogota Business English.

JFK My Fellow Citizens

JFK Visits Bogota

JFK Visits Bogota

It’s Monday.  Let’s get inspired!

Politicians, as much as they lie, cheat and steal, often have some pretty inspiring speeches.  Here one of America’s (and Bogota’s) favorite US Presidents calls us Americans and citizens of the world to do good, and be the change in their lives they wish to see in others.

Below is the video with text and vocabulary. Enjoy!

President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address, January 20th 1961.

Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah — to “undo the heavy burdens … and to let the oppressed go free.”
And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavour, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
All this will not be finished in the first one hundred days. Nor will it be finished in the first one thousand days, nor in the life of this administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our cause. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation” — a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavour will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us here the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

wonders – great, amazing things [maravillas]

tap – (in this case) open up/reach into for the purpose of using the resources [aprovechar/explotar]

heed – to give attention to something [prestar atención]

beachhead – landing spot or a place to begin [cabeza de puente / cabeza de playa]

grave – a place of interment / a place to bury the dead [tumba] 

summons – a formal call to action [llamada formal para hacer algo]

bear – 1. carry [llevar] 2. endure [aguantar]

arms – 1. weapons [armas] 2. limbs that start at the shoulder and end with the hand [brazos]

tyranny – dictatorship or harsh oppression [tiranía]

fellow – see our previous post

endeavour – an attempt or strenuous effort [esfuerzo]

reward – a prize or earnings for work done [recompensa]

Wow that speech was inspiring!  If you feel inspired to improve your English, don’t hesitate to contact Bogota Business English.

Por Qué Inglés es Tan Complicado?

…or Why is English so Complicated?

Si necesitas clases de ingles, contacta Bogota Business English hoy para un programa personalizado de aprender inglés.

USA es una mezcla de gente

A melting pot or mix

They call the USA a melting pot country because to many diferent nationalities, ethnicities and types of people live there.

The same can be said for the English language.  Take ten minutes to listen to this great youtube series on the English language’s origin.  English has bits or small parts of German, Scandinavian, French, Church Latin, Anglo-Saxon and Celtic in its common structure and vocabulary.  These days American English is also including many Spanish words (pronounced Gringo-style).

There is a great youtube video series out there on this origin.  We’ll start with part 1 of 10.  The narrator or speaker has a very fast pronunciation so we’re reproducing the sections each week with text.

The History of English in 10 minutes

Chapter 1 Anglo Saxon, or whatever happened to the Jutes

The English language begins with the phrase “Up yours Ceasar!” as the Romans leave Britain and a lot of Germanic tribes start flooding in.

Tribes such as the Angles and Saxons,  who together give us the term “anglo-saxon” and the Jutes, who didn’t.

The Romans left some very straight roads behind but not much of their language.  The Anglo-saxon vocab was much more useful as it was mainly words for simple, everyday things such as house, woman, cliff and werewolf.

Four of our days of the week were named for the Anglo saxon gods. They didn’t bother with Saturday, Sunday, and Monday as they had all gone off for a long weekend.

While they were away, Christian missionaries stole in bringing with them leaflets about jumble sales, all in latin.

Christianity was a hit with the locals and made them much happier to take on funky new words from latin like martyr, bishop and font.

Along came the Vikings with their action-man words drag, ransack, thrust and die.  They may have raped and pillaged but they were also into give and take. 2 of around 2000 words they gave english, as well as the phrase: “Watch out for that man with the enormous axe.”

Whew! Good job! Check back next week for part 2. Or follow us on Facebook and receive updates on this blog and others. Click here.

If English is still very dificult for you or you need to improve your pronunciation or conversation skills, why don’t you contact Bogota Business English for personalized classes.

Puns, Colombia’s Relationship to Korea and Chaebols

…Juegos de palabra, la relacion entre Colombia y Corea y sus Chaebol

(version español)

TLC entre Colombia y Correa

Speaking of Relationships...

It’s Valentine’s Day week so let’s talk about relationships. Free trade commercial relationships. 😉

In this post, we’ll take another look at puns and some great articles on South Korea, one of  Colombia’s new free trade partners.  This commercial relationship will gain more importance over the next several years and now is the time to get ahead of it or prepare ourselves for future deals between Korea and Colombia.

The language of international business is English.  That’s why Bogota Business English is such a great way to improve your professional prospects by getting your English to the next level. Prepare yourself!

We’ve bolded some words or phrases that we’ll explain below.  Also try to determine which words or phrases are puns  Forget what a pun is? Review here.  The following excellent article comes from the Economist’s SEOUL desk and discusses the Chaebol or conglomerate problem in South Korea.

Bakers and chaebol in South Korea

Let them eat cake

A half-baked effort to curb the conglomerates

SOME parents give their children cakes. A few give them cake shops. The hot topic in South Korea is the trend for daughters and grand-daughters of chaebol families to open bakeries and other small food outlets. The chaebol are the conglomerates that dominate the Korean economy, so these plutocratic pâtissières have deeper pockets than any of the little bakers they compete against.

Their baking has provoked outrage. Lee Myung-bak, South Korea’s president, calls it a “hobby” business for rich girls that threatens the livelihood of poor shopkeepers. Lee Ju-young, a member of the national assembly, likens it to Park Ji-sung (Manchester United’s Korean midfielder) lording it over amateurs in a backstreet game of football. A restaurateur in Seoul puts it more plaintively: “These families already control everything else in Korea. Why can’t they leave something for the rest of us?”

The chaebol families have decided that this is not a battle worth picking. Scions of the Samsung, LG and Hyundai dynasties are all hanging up their aprons. Artisée, a chain of swanky pastry shops run by Lee Boo-jin, whose dad is the chairman of Samsung, is to close. So is the Hyundai-affiliated Ozen.

Whether this will help small bakers much is open to question. Artisée has only 27 shops; Ozen a mere two. Both are cupcakes in comparison to SPC Group, which operates more than 3,000 Paris Baguette shops in Korea. Buns have always been SPC’s bread and butter—and its boss is not an heiress.

Some say all this pie-throwing distracts attention from the real problems that overmighty chaebol cause. Entrepreneurs complain that if they have a good idea, the chaebol show up with their chequebooks and poach their staff. Small firms that supply chaebol complain that they are ruthlessly squeezed, though few dare say so publicly.

Consumers also suffer. Korea’s Fair Trade Commission (FTC) detected over 3,500 cases of price-fixing in 2010, but only 66 led to fines. The average penalty amounted to just 2.3% of unfairly earned revenue. Samsung and LG were fined in January for fixing the prices of notebook PCs and flat-screen televisions between June 2008 and September 2009. Samsung was ordered to pay a fine of 25.8 billion won ($23m); LG, 18.8 billion won. LG’s fine is to be waived, in return for co-operation with the FTC. This is the third time the two firms have been caught price-fixing in the past two years.

Politicians follow the same old recipes when dealing with the chaebol. They lean on banks to lend cash to small firms. And they lean on the chaebol to stay out of a few minor businesses, such as baking or tofu-making. However you sugarcoat it, this is not serious reform.

Wow.  This article was full of puns! I counted 7 puns. And you?

We’ve learned a little bit more about Colombia’s new trading partner, now lets understand some of the vocabulary.

Let them eat cake – famous quote attributed to Queen Marie Antoinette that implies socio-economic divisions (PUN b/c references food) [que coman pasteles]

half-baked – badly planned or executed (PUN b/c references food) [mal concebido, medio cocinado]

curb – slow down or stop something. [refrenar, poner freno a algo]

chaebol – Korean word for the conglomerates that control much of the Korean economy. French word for pastry. (English borrows many words!) [conglomerado en Corea]

pâtissière – French word for pastry. (English borrows many words!) [confitería]

battle not worth picking – an argument or fight that is more trouble than it is worth [no vale la pena la molestia]

scion – descendent [descendiente]

hang up something – give up something or quit some activity [colgar algo, renunciar participar en alguna actividad]

Peyton Manning is hanging up his pads and giving up football.

apron –  a garment or clothing article covering part of the front of the body and tied at the waist, for protecting the wearer’s clothing. (PUN b/c used to make food) [delantel]

swanky – fancy [elegante y lujoso, tal vez ostentoso]

bread and butter – core area. (PUN b/c references food) [pan de cada día]

Bavaria’s bread and butter is beer.

pie-throwing – a silly and messy fight [pelea con pasteles]

chequebook – British  English for checkbook. [chequera]

poach – to illegally hunt and kill. Used metaphorically it means to break rules in order to gain something or someone. [cazar furtivamente]

price-fixing – illegally setting a price between several parties so that the consumer pays more than is normal [pacto ilícito para fijar artificialmente los precios ]

same old something – an often repeated something that is not desired [el mismo algo de siempre]

Most institutes have the same old format with standardized content. Nothing is personalized like Bogota Business English!

recipe –list of ingredientes and steps to achieve something, usually a dish or food item (PUN b/c references food) [receta]

lean on – pressure (politically) or threaten [presionar a alguien]

sugarcoat – make a bad situation seem better with positive words. (PUN b/c references food)  [disfrazar, endulzar]

You can’t sugarcoat what is happening in Greece.

Interested in understanding the Chaebols further? See this other great Economist article.

Need to improve your English to trade with Korea? Talk to Bogota Business English.

Cuando Pueden Ser Malo La Confianza y El Exitó Para Su Negocio?

…When Can Confidence and Success Be Bad For Business?

(version inglés click here)

Esta entrada es la primera parte del serie sobre los 7 habitos de malos lideres de negocio y se pueden mirar las otras partes acá. El proposito del serie es discutir el inglés usado en el articulo de Eric Jackson para hablantes no nativos.

La confianza y el exito usualmente son buenos para el negocio.  Aunque hay unas situaciones cuando sea malo las calidades indicadas que se manifestarian en un lider.  Cuando la foncianza y el exito distorcionan la perspectiva de realidad de un lider, la empresa sufre.

Bad Habit #6: Bad leaders underestimate obstacles

Warning Sign:  Excessive hype

Bad Habit #7: Bad leaders stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past

Warning Sign: Constantly referring to what worked in the past


The mona lisa is distorted.

La Mona Lisa está distorted.

To distort significa distorsionar o pervertir el significado de algo.

To underestimate significa subestimar, calcular mal o pensar que algo es menos que es.

Obstacles exist in business

Nos enfrentan varios obstacles en negocio.

An obstacle significa un obstaculo o un reto o una valla.

Algo excessive es algo excesivo o demasiado de alguna calidad.

Hype es la publicidad  con bombos y platillos, es decir la publicidad exagerada.  Usualmente se pone una cara muy positiva y a veces falsa sobre un producto, empresa o algo promocinado. Algo hyped es algo promocionado de manera dramatica y con enfasis de cosas tal vez falsas o no 100% verdaderas.

To stubbornly act significa hacer algo de manera terca o hacer algo a pesar de la solicitud de no hacerlo. Una persona stubborn es una persona terca o que piensa tiene toda la razon a pesar de opinas al contratio.

The mule is acting stubbornly

Los burros son stubborn

Habito malo 6 la idea: Los lideres de clase habito 6 cree que los obstaculos son menos complicado que son. Es la verdad que los lideres deben poner positivos, a veces ellos son demasiados positivos y no reconocen la realidad. Tal vez se ailaron de gente que les dijo la verdad. (Mira los habitos malos 3 y 4)

Emperor's New Clothes and Hype

The Emperor's New Clothes and Hype

La avertencia de tales lideres es que no solo promocionar de manera exagerada pero creen lo que promocionan.  Durante los momentos malos de las empresas, la creencia en los comunicados de prensa resultará muy mal para la empresa.  La creencia le deja al lider tomar decisiones riesgosas o mantener cosas que solo va a causar problemas.

Hay un cuento de hadas sobre este comportamiento se llama  The Emperor’s New Clothes.  En esta historia, el emperador está convencido a creer que la ropa nueva solo se puede ver por los merecidos.  En realidad, no había ningun trapo de ropa.  Al final de cuento, el emperador se vio como un bobo.

En negocio las consequenias van más alla que parecer estupido a dañar las ofertas de negocio, el financimiento y el resbaldo de clientes.

Habito malo 7 la idea: Los lideres malos creen que el presente es igual al pasado.  Los éxitos del pasado van a seguir con los mismos métodos y no reconoce el presente es lo  mismo que el pasado.  Ellos hablan no de planes del futuro pero acciones del pasado.  Ellos no creen un comunicado de prensa pero siguen viviendo en un mundo irreal.  Esta auto decepción va a causar problemas para la empresa.
Supera los obstacles en el camino de aprender inglés con Bogota Business English y su programas personalizdos.

Why Learn English? 6 Reasons to Learn

…¿Por qué aprendes inglés? 6 motivos para aprender

There are so many reasons to learn English. We’ll talk about some common reasons to learn English but the important reason to learn English is…

Reason 1 You want to learn English.

If you do not want to learn English, it is very difficult to learn it!  If English is required for your job and you don’t want to learn the language, you won’t learn.  We have to want to learn.  This is why we couldn’t learn very well in high school or university — we didn’t want to learn but we had to take the English language course.  And how much do we remember from those classes? Little.

So, you want to learn English. Good! Congratulations! Learning English is developing the most important asset you have — yourself.  It is an invaluable tool for business, for life and for the future.

Reason 2 English is used for international business.

English is and will continue to be the dominant language for international business.  Colombia is developing its ability to export and import on an international stage.  Bogota is preparing to be the 4th largest corporate tourism destination in Latin America and this will see an uptick or increase in the number of international conferences held here.

And soon Colombia will have the ability to freely trade with dozens of countries… and that will be a sea change or significant change in the need for english.

Obama y Santos para TLC

Obama and Santos know FTAs are coming to Colombia!

Did you know? Colombia has or is completing more than 15 free trade agreements with trading blocs such as the European Union (27 countries including France and Germany), USA (including states of California and New York which have GDP higher than most countries in the world), Canada, Carribbean countries (Belize, Jamaica and all of those former British and Dutch colonies), Free Countries of Europe (including Switzerland and oil rich Norway), South Korea, Japan, Turkey, Jordan and more.   International business with these countries is done in English.

Reason 3 English is used for scientific thought.

English is used by business and by science around the world.  If you want to access the largest pool of scientific thinking, you need to learn English.

The Harvard Business Review doesn’t publish business case studies in Spanish.

The New England Journal of Medecine is written in English.


Without English, how will you be a mad scientist?

The report about the faster than light particle is now available in several languages… but the initial report? It was in English.

Software is generally programmed in English.

Engineering projects around the world use English.

Classes at the top universities in the world such as Yale, Princeton and Oxford are not taught in Spanish. You need English to learn there. (Plus quality TOEFL or IELTS test results!)

Reason 4 English is used for international standards.

International standards are written in English. For example, Colombia is adopting the international accounting standards (IFRS) which not surpringingly uses English.  Accountants will need to understand and use English.

Reason 5 Use English for traveling.

Viajar Estados Unidos

English improves your traveling experience

Whether going to Europe and the UK, the US, India or Asia… some ability in English will make your experience richer and more entertaining.

It is true that you can visit the US  without speaking English in parts of California, New York City and Miami… as a traveler you are missing out on the rest of the beauty and the experience of the United States.

Reason 6 Improve your Spanish.

Strange as it is to say… learning a second language improves your mother tongue and your precision in expressing ideas.  The same idea is expressed differently with different metaphors and images.  You also learn more about Spanish by reviewing tenses, prepositions, vocabulary and other parts of speech you use daily without thinking about them.

The greatest writers and poets were multilinguists.

What’s your reason to learn English? Tell us in the comments.

Want to start learning English Today? Contact Bogota Business English.