Blog Archives

Getting A Good Retention Rate For English Courses

Posted on May 17, 2023

We wish everyone was as hot on staff English training as we are. But when things get busy at work, sometimes it’s the students’ managers who talk them into working overtime rather than going to that English class.

So to avoid this, talk to the line managers before the course starts. Emphasise that the staff will be able to do their jobs better and stick around longer if they speak better English and they’re happy.

The staff really want these English courses, right? When they sign something to say they understand their company is paying for this and they will attend, it makes a real  psychological difference to their attendance.

Some of our clients get the students to pay part of the course. The courses are pretty cost effective per person so even half the course fee doesn’t add up to that much. And when people pay for courses, they’re more likely to make the most of them.

Anyone can organise themselves to commit to a course if they know it’s only a couple of months.

Are you anticipating being snowed under at Christmas with everyone on overtime? No problem, we’ll just schedule a break then.

Pop Your Head Into The Training Room Now And Again

We keep track of attendance in our English courses but there’s nothing like the manager keeping a visible eye on you to keep you coming to class.

When do the staff finish their shifts? If it’s way before the class, this is likely to harm your retention rate for English courses.

The best time for English classes is usually shortly after the staff finish. This avoids employees having to hang around when they’d rather be on their way home. Alternatively, right before shifts start can be a good option.

Going back to the students’ line manager buy-in, make sure they’re not on the rota to work when they should be in English class.

We can do the registers or you can, we’re easy. But it’s important to keep track of repeat offenders so we can ask you what happened. Sometimes we lose students due to staff turnover, in which case you can replace that student if you’d like.

The worst thing that can happen is that staff drop out of their English classes  because they don’t like something. Not everyone is as assertive as we’d hope, and some feel their level of English holds them back from complaining.

That’s why this year we started to send online feedback forms to students as well as getting feedback from HR. Students can fill the forms in their own languages and it helps us see what’s what.

Only Work With The Most Personable And Engaging Teachers In London

Our wonderful teachers are what sets our English courses apart from those of other providers. Yes, the language is important but a good teacher needs to be motivating too in order to keep the students coming back.

What Happens If Students Do Drop Out?

The first thing is to solicit feedback from that student, could we have done something better? If they didn’t like something about the teacher, scheduling or anything else, it’s possible their classmates also feel the same.

When you get staff English training at your company through Orchid English, you can substitute one student for another if the original student drops out. We don’t want you to waste your investment, and then another employee can benefit.

We hope this article answered your questions on how to get a good retention rate for English courses. It’s certainly something to keep an eye on but with good planning we should be able to keep numbers high throughout the course. 

Pop us an email here for great English classes at your company in London or give us a call on 020 8150 7239. 

Different Ways To Learn English: For Your Employees

Posted on February 14, 2023

Need staff English training? What’s the best way for your employees to learn English? In this comprehensive post we’ll look at 5 different ways to learn English.

There are various features, advantages and disadvantages of each one which we’ll explore. Of course, what’s a plus to one person may be a drawback to another! This is why we’ve made a mixed list of features of each method.

#1. Going to a Bricks And Mortar Language School

Of all the different ways to learn English, this is probably the one that springs to mind first. Like classes at your company, there are usually a range of English classes for adults to suit your needs, namely general English, business English, and English for exams. 

You Can Probably Get Tailored Classes

As long as your English lessons are private, or you join with a set group of colleagues. But if you join an existing group you’ll have to go with the flow of the group. This is likely to be general English, or business English.

You Can Meet New People

In-person English classes in general are a great way to make new friends.

But be careful! The last thing you should do if you’re serious about English lessons is make friends with people from your language background. Plenty of people do this and it means they don’t learn English as well as they’d hoped. 

It’s The Most Expensive Choice

Have you seen the price of rent in London? Yikes.

Bricks and mortar language schools have enormous outgoings in rent and bills. So the students have to pay more for classes so that the school can operate.

Teaching Standards Tend To Be High

English language schools are private companies so they need to be competitive. As with in-company training you should be able to get English classes with native speakers, and make requests for changes if you don’t like something the teacher is doing.

You Can’t Monitor Your Staff

The big disadvantage for companies is that if it’s staff English training, how do you know if they’re really turning up? After all, maybe they had a long day at work. Sometimes the students’ line managers can’t lose them and tell them to work longer so they have to miss English class. Similarly…

If You’re The Manager, You Can’t Observe The Class

If you’re paying for your staff to learn English, how do you know if the teacher is any good? How do you know if the teacher is really covering the topics you want them to cover? Alternatively, the students may be reluctant to speak in which case they’re not learning much.

#2. English Classes With The Local Council

Different ways to learn English: With the local council

Of the different ways to learn English, this one is one of the most appealing to the budget-conscious.

It’s Free

The big one! All over the UK you should be able to find free English classes at a local library or community centre. You may even be able to get classes at your company. However, our students tell us that our classes are more engaging and fun because our classes are tailored and we get everyone talking. 

Times Are Set In Advance

Do you work during the day? The classes may run at a set time, such as early afternoon to allow parents to collect their children from school. However this may not suit you if you work typical office hours.

The Content May Be Fixed

Among the different ways to learn English, syllabuses tend to be more rigid. This is because councils consider from the outset what they want local people learning English to learn. So the course content could relate to immigration, applying for a job or  administration. If this is what you’re after, that’s perfect.

All Skills Are Usually Covered

That’s writing, grammar, listening comprehension, reading and speaking. Ideal if you want to boost your English in all of these areas. However, it may be frustrating if all you really want to do is speak.

Spaces May Be Limited If You’re Working

At some councils they prioritise people who are unemployed or receiving benefits for the English classes. Check with your local council to see if that’s the case for them.

Most Council Classes Focus On Lower English Levels

Depending on the centre nearest you, there may be nothing suitable if your English is above an intermediate level. The focus of English classes for adults run by councils tends to be on beginners to intermediate speakers.

Timetables Are Generally Fixed

Keen to get going? Check the timetable because you may have to wait until the new course starts in order to sign up.

May Not Be As Engaging As Other Types Of Face To Face Classes

Our students tell us that classes from the council can be more focused on the council’s internal objectives and less flexible to the students’ requests.

#3. Learning English Online With A Real Teacher

A woman learning English online with a real teacher in London

Different ways to learn English: Online with a real teacher in London

The Technology Is Pretty Easy… But Tech Puts Some Students Off

There are some simple ways we do staff English training online, you can even use Google Meet. But some employees, especially if they don’t use technology at work, are put off by the idea of online classes.

Not Everyone Has A Laptop

In the pandemic we realised that not every employee in London actually owns a laptop. In fact, a surprising proportion of people just use their phones for everything. An English class on a mobile phone is possible, but the teacher is limited in what he or she can do.

If you’re looking at a PDF on a small screen, you’ll need your reading glasses.

The Classes Are Tailored

Because the English classes are led by a real teacher through video, the world’s your oyster regarding content and tailoring. English for housekeepers? English for working in a kitchen? No problem.

It Can Be Less Engaging Than A Face To Face Class

There’s nothing quite like seeing your teacher in person, and for some students it doesn’t compare to the rapport you get from the different ways to learn English at your company. It depends to some extent how much the students like tech. If they’re forever on video calls to friends, they’re likely to enjoy video classes. 

You Can Log On From The Sofa

Sounds like bliss, right? Online English classes through video are very convenient and you can do them from pretty much anywhere. However, as any good student knows, you will still need to make notes in order to retain the new information. 

You Need A Decent Internet Connection

Data just won’t cut it. Students need to log on from a quiet place with stable WIFI to get decent sound and picture quality.

You Can Get English Classes With Native Speakers

There are some platforms where you can request native English speakers like in face to face classes. However, you’ll need excellent audio and visual quality on your laptop so that it replicates a real classroom environment as much as possible.

This is because being able to lip-read and hear as clearly as possible is a great help when learning English.

#4. Learning English With Apps

Different ways to learn English: Using an app

Solitary, flexible and cheap, a lot of the advice here also goes for learning English using a book or website. Of the different ways to learn English, learning through an app has boomed in recent years. But is it right for your employees? 

Learners Can Study Whenever They Want

Night owl? You can study at midnight if you like and you don’t have to agree on a time with anyone. Apps can be a decent alternative to English classes for adults who work different shifts every week. 

You Need A Lot Of Motivation, Long Term

Everything’s fun at first. But will your staff still use the app to learn English after the first week or two? Motivation is also important if you are planning to learn English using a book, or a website.

It’s Usually Free Or Cheap

The most popular apps for learning English rely on advertising revenue. So if you don’t mind ads, you can make a certain amount of headway in English for free. 

You Can Learn Basic Set Phrases For Getting By

Apps aren’t bad for learning basic written English. Be sure that you choose one with English that will be useful to your employees. “The dog loves his green coat” won’t cut it.

People Who Are Shy Like English Learning Apps

Eek. This is a double edged sword. You can languish in your comfort zone in a language learning app, it’s true. And people say they enjoy using apps.


…Because You Don’t Have To Speak

People report that they enjoy using apps just sitting on the tube or at home. But the proof in the English pudding comes when you actually have to speak to someone in English. The one thing the app can’t really do is correctly judge your spoken English, which is probably what you most want to focus on.

There’s No Corrected Speaking Practice

One of the notoriously hard things about learning English is that the spelling is often very different to the pronunciation. Consider salmon, receipt, Holborn…

Not to mention the difficulties that most adults learning English have with “th” and other sounds that don’t occur in their own languages. It’s vital that the teacher corrects mistakes as they happen so that students don’t ingrain them for years. And this can only happen with English classes with native speakers, or advanced speakers who speak English to a native level.

The App Reminds You To Study

Sometimes rather frequently. This could be good motivation if you need it.

Learners Stay In Their Comfort Zones

Do you want to learn English for holidays? Fine. You can learn vocab and structures. But no-one is conversing with you in the app, so you’d better hope the people you meet stick to what you’ve learned!

You Don’t Need A Training Room

Like sending your employees elsewhere, the advantage of an app is that you don’t need any space at your own company for classes.

There’s No Guarantee The App Was Developed By People Who Know ANYTHING About Learning Languages

This is the biggie.

App developers tend to be good at keeping the user using the app. But to trained English teachers, some of the methods seem strange, like these:

  • Constant testing and scoring.
  • Giving the learner weird sentences to translate.
  • Focusing on 100% accuracy rather than communication.

None of this is used in modern language teaching.

You’re Unlikely To Get To A High Practical Level In Any Language Learning On An App

Apps are fine for beginners on a budget. But if you’d like to break through to English mastery, you’ll need to start speaking to real humans.

#5: Face To Face English Classes At Your Company With Us

Different ways to learn English: At your company

OK you know we’re biassed because English classes for adults in companies is literally what we do. We run English classes with native speakers all over London. However, here are some of the positives and negatives of English classes with us depending on the situation of your employees.

Staff Can’t Log On From The Sofa

Aww. No way around this one, we’re afraid.

You Can Monitor The Staff English Training

Is the teacher good? Can you hear your employees speaking? Are the staff turning up for the English classes the company is paying for? You’ll know all this if the classes are on your premises.

A Real Teacher Is Engaging

As many of us realised during the pandemic, there’s something priceless about face to face communication with a human being. An excellent teacher will motivate the employees to learn English, and teach in a way that’s fun.

English Classes Are Not Free

Nope, sorry about that. You’ll get a free trial though. But our English lessons are pretty economical, especially if you have a large group of employees. See our prices here

Teachers Are Qualified

As in the language schools and online, our teachers hold a Cambridge qualification to teach English to adults, the CELTA. 

Staff Can Build Rapport With Their Colleagues

Say it’s a group of housekeepers in a hotel. English classes are a fun way to get to know your colleagues. In large companies, students often make friends with colleagues from totally different departments during their English course.

You Need A Training Room

Or at least a room with chairs and a flipchart. 

Don’t Like It? You Can Tell Us, Or Give The Teacher Feedback

Unlike different ways to learn English like an app, if you don’t like something your teacher can change his or her content or style of teaching. We think this puts us a cut above the rest, because we regularly solicit feedback from managers and students. 

Everyone Has To Agree A Time

Yes, this one takes a bit of organisation. You’ll need to find a time that works for all the team. As soon as you have a time and day, we make you a timetable for everyone to refer to.

Employees Get Into A Routine Of Studying

Say English class is every Wednesday at 4pm. Easy. When you have to juggle an app with other commitments, people let learning English slide.

Now You’re An Expert In Different Ways To Learn English

So there you have it, different ways to learn English depending on your situation.

Get in touch with us for amazing English language classes at your company or online. We think we have the best teachers in London, and we love seeing employees develop and grow in confidence as they improve their English.

How To Empower Your Colleagues To Learn English In London

Posted on November 11, 2022

Do the people you work with avoid speaking English unless it’s really necessary? Look no further for tips on how to empower your colleagues to learn English.

It can be tough to learn English in London. Imagine having to contend with words like “Grosvenor”, “Leicester” and “Marylebone”, and not giving up.

Here’s how you can help your colleagues learn English stress free.

Speak Slowly

Done well, it doesn’t come across as patronising, we promise. If you slow down your speech and pronounce everything carefully, it’s much easier for people learning English to understand. There’s a myth that you should speak as you do to everybody else, and then people will learn natural English.

However, what’s more likely to happen is that the person hardly understands, and never learns the correct pronunciation because people speak English too fast for them to catch.

Form Short Sentences

Consider how you can break up your sentences. Short sentences with only one topic are much easier to understand and your grammar will probably be simpler, too.

Use Simpler Grammar

The more they understand, the more you’ll empower your colleagues to learn English.

Look at these two versions of essentially the same thing.

  1. It would be great if you could have finished cleaning the bedrooms before 11 o’clock.
  2. Please can you finish cleaning the bedrooms before 11 o’clock?

The first one is how native English speakers tend to speak. However, this is complicated grammar. It’s actually the future perfect, or a past action in the future. This doesn’t even exist in many languages.

The second sentence is a much easier version in the present tense.

Watch Out For Phrasal Verbs Or You Might Not Get Through

That title just above is super hard for anyone except upper intermediate or advanced speakers of English. Why?

  • Watch = look at
  • Out = outside

Easy. However…

  • Watch out = beware

These two words form a pretty different meaning when combined. Even more confusingly:

  • Get = obtain
  • Through = in one side and out the other
  • Get through = cause someone to understand


Phrasal verbs are something that contribute to the wonderful richness of the English language. But if you want to get through to beginner English speakers, consider whether another word would be easier.

Can You Use A Closer Word To Your Colleague’s Own Language?

Does your colleague speak a Romance language? Maybe they’re from Spain, Italy or France. In that case, when you use words that came into English through Latin or French it will be much easier for them to understand.

Have a look at this short list of examples. The version on the right is easier to understand for people learning English.

  • Get used to – accustomed
  • Useless – futile
  • Leave – abandon
  • Pretty – attractive
  • Goal – objective

It’s funny, isn’t it? Most of the time the easier words for Romance language speakers are the harder ones for English language speakers.

Be Aware Of Typical Mistakes That Will Help You Understand Them Speaking

When they speak and you understand, you’ll empower your colleagues to learn English naturally.

Pronouncing Words As They Are Spelled

“Salmon” with an “L”? “Island” with an “S” so that it sounds like “Iceland”? If you can visualise the spelling of the word the speaker is saying, it can help you understand mistakes in pronunciation.

Confusing “Tuesday” And “Thursday”.

If you’ve been teaching English a while, you’ll always follow up with the date if you’re talking about days of the week.

  • Let’s meet on Thursday.
  • Thursday the seventeenth of November?
  • No, the fifteenth of November.
  • Ah, TUESDAY.

Scheduling disaster averted.

Consider Sound Quality

Think of the last time you spoke to someone on a really bad phone line. If you were speaking in your own language, your brain was doing something amazing. It was working out the missing sounds so that you could make sense of what was going on.

In your native language your brain knows which words are usually found together, known as collocations. And this helps it to fill in the gaps in a logical way. However, if you’re learning English this is much more of a challenge!

Even calling through from a different room can be very difficult to understand because if you’re learning English, your brain can’t fill in the gaps like a native English speaker can. 

So sound quality and clear face to face speech are key. 

Write It Down When It’s Important

If you have something important to tell everyone, consider an email in simple language. Your colleagues can translate it using translation software if necessary.

Also, written English is much easier for many English learners to understand than spoken English, so helping them gently like this will empower your colleagues to learn English.

Ask Some Questions To Check Comprehension

There’s a vast difference between room service getting a hotel guest some soup and getting her some soap.

All good English teachers in London know to ask some sneaky follow up questions to check the learners are really on the right track. “Soap for the shower?”

Alternatively, you can mime “soap” or “soup” as you say it quite easily.

Keep Talking To Your Colleagues Even If They Say They Don’t Speak English

A lot of people get stressed and claim that they don’t speak English. But don’t let this put you off speaking to them. The only way to learn English is to practise.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t want to speak English. Your patient ear and continued conversation with them will empower your colleagues to learn English. If they are a very low level, routinely ask them about simple things like how their weekend was. 

Correct Your Colleagues In Private

Speak with your colleagues about whether they’d like you to tactfully correct their English. They might be delighted at the opportunity to improve!

The longer people go on saying something wrong, the more it gets ingrained, and the harder it is to correct. Just make sure you give a lot of encouragement, and correct them when you’re alone.

Empower Your Colleagues To Learn English In London With Orchid English 

Our fabulous teachers give engaging and fun English speaking classes at companies. You can get group or individual English lessons in London. Would you like that at your company? Learning English can change your life, so it’s a wonderful thing to do for your staff. 

Give us a call on 020 8150 7239, or send us a message through our contact form here.


English Phrases For Restaurant Staff: What You Need To Know

Posted on July 13, 2022

In this post we’ll explore the English phrases for restaurant staff that you need to know. So the first question is: what kind of restaurant do you work in?

If you work in a casual restaurant then you should use more casual English to speak to customers. In a pub restaurant for example customers expect a more relaxed atmosphere.

The following are some useful English phrases for restaurant staff that can be used in both casual and luxury restaurants. We focus on front of house restaurant staff in this post.

English Phrases For Restaurant Staff When The Customers Arrive

Here’s how you can greet customers to your restaurant in a natural way.

  • Do you have a reservation?
  • I’m afraid we won’t have a table for about 20 minutes.
  • Would you like to wait at the bar?
  • Come this way!

At The Table

English phrases for restaurant staff: waiters and waitresses

Some typical phrases you can use once your guests are seated.

  • The specials are rump steak and Dover sole.
  • Are you ready to order?
  • What would you like to drink?
  • Would you like any sides?

During The Meal

Go back to check on your guests to make sure they’re happy.

  • How is everything?
  • Can I get you any more drinks?

If There’s A Problem

It’s tempting to try to avoid the situation. But the sooner you can address problems, the less they will escalate.

  • I’m sorry to hear that.
  • What would you like me to do?
  • Let me get the manager.

Finishing Up

  • Would you like to see the dessert menu?
  • Any tea or coffee?
  • Can I take your plate?
  • Are you paying by cash or card?

Common Mistakes When Using English Phrases For Restaurant Staff

“Do You Want…”

This is rather casual for a situation where you’re talking to a customer. Unless you work in an extremely casual place, it’s best to avoid it.

Above all, you should not say “What do you want?” Yes, you can say this in other languages such as French, and it’s fine. But it sounds rude in English in this context.

Calling A Woman “Lady” Or “Missus”

The correct way to address a woman is “madam”. However, this is very formal so it’s only appropriate in an upscale restaurant.

Not Saying “Thank You” When Your Customers Leave

In the UK we use “please”, “thank you” and “sorry” a lot more than in other cultures. And when people don’t use these it often sounds inappropriate.

So you should really say “thank you” after your customers pay. This is true whether or not they have left you a tip. You are the face of the restaurant and it seems strange not to thank your customers for coming.

When staff don’t say “thank you” or “thanks”, customers leave with a very bad impression.

Get In Touch For English Phrases For Restaurant Staff In Action!

Our great teachers give engaging and fun English speaking classes at restaurants all over London. Does this sound like something you’d like at your restaurant?

We’d love to hear from you on 020 8150 7239, or you can send us a message here.

How To Learn English In Fun Ways

Posted on March 9, 2022

It can be boring to study English by yourself. And you may be wondering how to learn English in fun ways. Luckily, Orchid English teachers have years of experience creating fun classes. And when you’re having fun, you tend to focus for longer.

Not only that, but we remember more easily when we find things interesting. So let’s take a look at how to learn English the fast and fun way.

Visit Buildings That Are Usually Secret

It’s called an “Open House”. What it means is that you can visit buildings that are usually closed to the public. Open House days are fascinating, especially if you love history and architecture.

What is there to see? Well, the programe changes every year. But you can expect to see beautiful architecture like the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, museums and opera houses.

It’s all free, although you might need to book in advance to get in to some of the places. Read more about Open House events here.

Install The Woodpecker App For Interesting Videos

What kind of YouTube videos do you watch in your language? Sports? Cooking? TED talks? Lots of people struggle knowing where to find interesting videos in English.

With the free Woodpecker app, it’s all in one place. And they’re real, authentic videos for native speakers of that language. It’s like a library of interesting YouTube videos in English.

Additionally, Woodpecker asks you your native language. So you can use the app in your language and find cool English videos. It’s easy because there are subtitles in your language and you can click on words to define them.

Go To Public Social Events

Let’s face it, the world’s your oyster for socialising if you’re in London. And free Meetup events let you meet people who have the same things in common as you.

The most well-known events are based on hobbies like photography. But there are a ton of interesting personal and professional development groups too.

GGI, or Girl Gone International is a fun way for women to meet other women. How does it work?GGI run regular social events in big cities like London. So you can meet international, or simply internationally minded women.

Read Award Winning Blogs In English

Restaurants, politics, travel – there’s a blogger writing for you. Plus, you can learn more about UK culture while you’re at it. Here is a selection of some of the best blogs from the UK.

Follow Facebook Groups for English Learners

Of course, you already follow Orchid English on Facebook right? We love English Global for fun idioms and general vocab building. You can learn English the fast and fun way just by scrolling through Facebook.

Learn English With People You Work With

So now you have lots of ideas how you can learn English in a fun way. Have you considered learning with your colleagues? The best way to learn English the fast and fun way is to get English classes with Orchid English. The classes can be face to face in London, or online.

And we have another tip for your English classes. Tell your teacher your interests so that he or she knows what you find fun. Then your teacher can pick fun activities. 

Give us a call on 020 8150 7239 or send us a quick message here! It will only take a minute to arrange your free demo English class.



Why English is Hard to Learn

Posted on March 3, 2022

People wonder why English is hard to learn. For this reason we have put together a list of some of the main reasons for the difficulties.

Our top 3: Why English is hard to learn

Spelling to pronunciation rules

As a native speaker I started learning English spelling rules as a young child. I never thought much about it as an adult until one day when I found my old exercise books. Suddenly I realised how much time my poor teacher spent correcting almost every spelling in my creative writing.

I love spelling because it shows us the history and richness of our language. However, its low correspondence with pronunciation makes it difficult for foreign learners and native speaker children. There is no “l” pronounced in “calm”, nor does “heart” rhyme with “beard”. What’s more, different words can have the same spelling with different meanings. Consider:

  • Close the door – shut the door
  • We are close friends – we are good friends

Phrasal verbs

Often, you can’t guess the meaning of the phrasal verb from its components, or alternatively they may have double meanings.

  • I need to put off (postpone) our meeting until tomorrow, because I’m so busy.
  • He was put off (discouraged) from applying for the job because of the lack of work life balance.

Stress patterns

See how the bold text shows stress falling in different places:

A linguistic feature of English is that every word has a primary stress. Importantly, if the word is three syllables or more, it has secondary stress as well. Additionally, there is sentence stress, which can entirely change the meaning of the sentence:

  • You can’t phone her – Someone else should phone her
  • You can’t phone her – Emphasis, or contradiction
  • You can’t phone her – You have to use another method of communication
  • You can’t phone her – You should phone someone else

5 additional reasons why English is hard to learn

Several standard forms

English is spoken natively in several countries, and this means that there is no one form of “standard English”. Consider these casual ways to say “a lot”, which are all correct:

  • Loads of people – UK
  • A bunch of people – US
  • A heap of people – Australia

Fast evolution

English changes quickly. My colleagues and I have all taught adults who learned some English at school and are restarting as adults. These adults frequently say things like “It’s a fine day” and “My boss scolded me”. Both these phrases are technically correct but due to the passing of time they sound old fashioned. Better to say “It’s a lovely day” and “my boss told me off”.


Collocations are words that sound natural when put together, and there are tons of these in English. If you put words that don’t “collocate” together, like “do a mess” or “sleep a nap” it sounds unnatural. You should say “make a mess” and “have a nap” (or take a nap, in the US).

Read more about collocations in this English Club article. 

Polite forms

There is no way to change verbs to speak politely, as in some other languages. In order to sound polite, native English speakers often speak in a more indirect way, using longer phrases with more formal grammar and vocabulary.

Word order for adjectives

In a list of adjectives you need to put them in a particular order like this:

  • A really useful, large, flat, modern, white, Japanese interactive whiteboard.

Learn more about adjective order in our previous blog post. 

If you would like to read more about this topic, have a look at our previous post, Is English the Hardest Language to Learn? Another great article is What is the Hardest Language to Learn? by Tomedes.

Conclusion: Why English is hard to learn

Well, now you know some of the main reasons why English is hard to learn. However, don’t despair! If you can read this you are doing well on your journey to learning English. No language is easy to learn, and with this in mind we must keep motivated to reach a good level.

Orchid English provide excellent, reasonably priced English classes to adults in London and we come to you at your company at your convenience. Contact us today to set up a free demo class to try us out.

By Emily Stallard, owner of Orchid English

How to Speak Business English Fluently

Posted on February 23, 2022

By Emily Stallard, owner of Orchid English

At Orchid English we specialise in training international professionals to speak business English fluently. If you already live in London you have made a huge step in improving your English. Here are our top 5 tips for how to speak business English fluently.

5. Watch the business news

Watching TV is a stress-free way to learn, and if you have breakfast by yourself it can be a nice way to start your day. You can hear real business English in use and listen to clear, native pronunciation of business terms.

4. Read the Financial Times, or business journals from your field

Likewise, sitting quietly with some good quality reading material related to your job can expose you to new phrases and ways of explaining current business topics. Reading at your own pace allows you to highlight or make a note of new words and phrases that you may not have time to do in a real work situation.

3. Ask British colleagues to correct your English

Most of your British colleagues will assume you’d like to improve your English while in London. However your British colleagues won’t always know the best way to help you.

There is a common misconception that adults can learn English like young children, and figure out the patterns for themselves. Coupled with the typical hesitancy of British people to correct a foreigner’s English, you should insist that your work friends correct you at a quiet moment.

Read more about how to get British people to correct your English.

2. Take every opportunity to speak English at work

This means in meetings, on the phone and, if appropriate in your job, making presentations. It’s not the end of the world if the person you’re speaking to has to ask you to repeat yourself. After all, most of the people in the meeting and calling you are probably aware of your level of English.

1. Take English classes one on one or in a group with colleagues

Classes with Orchid English focus on what you want to improve. We have years of experience teaching business English. We use up to date materials such as the excellent Market Leader series of textbooks, which uses authentic articles and modern international business English language.

Are you ready to take your English to the next level? Get in touch today and set up your free demo English class at your company in London.

How To Do Face To Face English Training In Covid

Posted on February 17, 2022

We all want to keep our staff safe as we return to normality. So how should we best go about face to face English training in London?

Of course, you can always opt for online English classes, with a 0% infection risk.

But some people just prefer face to face English training. It’s fun and a good way for employees to develop rapport. And when it’s at your company it’s convenient too.

What Do We Do In Class Now?

What we used to find fun were activities where everyone writes on the board or on one sheet of paper. But no more. Face to face English training in London had to evolve for the COVID-19 world.

Our teachers can still do collaborative tasks but with more of a focus on spoken contributions.

So where participants would write on one sheet together they can do the task orally. Where they drew slips out of a hat they can think of a number and get assigned a task that way.

Rather than writing on the board they can write on their own sheets and hold them up. Instead of mixing up pairs frequently the teacher can keep the pairs stable.

Before COVID-19, everyone would sign in on the same register. Whereas now, the teacher marks everyone present.

Some Practical Ways We Organise English Classes Now

Here are some of the ways we work with clients to deliver English classes safely.

Switching A Teacher With Symptoms

Thankfully this has never happened. But should a teacher present COVID-19 symptoms we would switch him or her immediately.

Using Screens

In our English classes we want to get the students talking as much as possible. But it’s good to have supplementary materials. Where possible, teachers and students can use screens for:

  • PowerPoint slides
  • PDF information
  • Photos
  • Short quizzes

No Sharing!

We know, we know. This flies in the face of everything we were taught to do as kids.

Consider The Clique

Maybe your company has several branches. In that case, consider organising staff from one site all together in one English class. They can deepen their team spirit and practise the English they’ve learned on each other at work.

Nice Big Rooms

Pre-COVID-19, sometimes we would hold classes in cosy little training rooms. Now we’re requesting larger rooms so that we can socially distance. We’ve conducted successful face to face English training in rooms that were previously not used for training, such as restaurants.


Likewise, we’ll always request a well-ventilated room, especially for large groups. Leaving doors open is also a good move.

Careful Coffees

If classes are 2 hours, or it’s a workshop, employees often benefit from a short break. We’ll plan out how best to stagger this and keep a distance if the coffee area is small.

Virtual Homework

After the class, the teacher may email the employees some light homework. Something like a quiz reinforcing what they’ve learned.

Get Face To Face English Training At Your Company In London

In-person English training can still be safe, and with a little creativity, classes are adjusted so they are equally as engaging as before.
Get in touch with our friendly team and start to improve your employees’ English. Write us a quick note here or simply call 020 8150 7239.


How To Retain International Staff In London in 2022

Posted on December 23, 2021

It’s no secret that the retention of international staff in London is much harder now. We’re in the midst of a pandemic, and Brexit meant a lot of international staff left the UK too. A lot of businesses are suffering low staff retention as a result.

Did you know that in 2021, an extraordinary 30% of UK workers said they hadn’t had any formal workplace training in 5 years? That’s pretty poor! However it isn’t entirely unsurprising for those of us that work in corporate training.

As we are in the business of English training, this post focuses on retention of international staff where the staff speak English as a foreign language. Here’s your staff retention action plan.

Support Their Administrative Needs

Many of us barely remember getting our national insurance numbers because it was so long ago. But for international workers it can be tough. Having to make phone calls in English and navigating a new system can be challenging. Someone to do this for them or answer questions can be a great help.

And how about visas? This is even more overwhelming in terms of unfamiliar paperwork. You don’t want staff leaving because it’s too much of a hassle.

Create Social Events

The pub is the most obvious one, and it’s a good start provided everyone is a drinker.

However it may not suit non-drinkers or shift workers. So get creative. Spoken English classes suitable for their level? Team sports? One large London hotel we know has a staff choir which is very popular.

Support The Families Of International Staff Too

Contrary to popular belief, people don’t pick up much English from simply being in London and going to the shops, figuring out public transport and so on. So spouses of international workers in London can struggle with English language skills, especially if they don’t work.

International staff retention can be low when spouses don’t feel at home and then the family decide to move back.

How about international schools for their children? Or tutors for when the kids need more help? If you have several members of staff from the same country you can pool information about this.

Pay Employees For Training Time

Staff retention and development to hand in hand. And staff always say that they want more training. But then when they get it, sometimes they don’t seem very motivated. If they’re off the clock they may resent having to stick around.

Clear Job Expectations

Imagine really wanting to get a job, when you don’t understand 100% of what’s being said to you in the interview, or in your training. Research shows that there is a high drop out rate for staff whose job expectations differed from the reality of the job.

We all want to attract good staff. But it’s important to tell them about the lows as well as the highs of the role. And make sure they understand it. Then they can make an educated decision.

Two Way Feedback

Do you know if your staff are satisfied? When employees aren’t happy, they’ll often start looking elsewhere.

So it’s vital to give them feedback, and to let them know you are open to receiving it too. The last part is the rare part.

Also, make it clear that employees can ask for clarification if they don’t understand something. It’s too easy for them to sit in silence and then ask a colleague who speaks better English to translate in private. If they get a couple of impatient reactions, it’s often enough to stop an employee communicating when they don’t understand.

Boost The Retention Of International Staff At Your Company

Online or face to face English language classes with Orchid English will help staff feel more at home in the UK. And better English skills will empower them to do whatever they want to do in their professional and personal lives.

Get in touch for your no-obligation free trial English class for groups or individuals. Give us a ring on 020 8150 7239 or write to us here.

Writing A Good Email In English: Our Advice

Posted on December 6, 2021

Effective email writing is more important than ever these days. So how can we write a good email?

Is Email Even The Best Way?

First things first. When you write a good email, your recipient knows exactly what you want. Aim to email with one request or about one topic.

Is it really complicated, though?

Then consider phoning instead of emailing. Likewise if it’s urgent.

Write A Good Email Subject Line

OK so we’re writing an email.

When you write a good email subject line, you have a much better chance of a positive response. Say you’re writing to a manager who gets a lot of emails. An email subject line like “Question”, “Catch up”, or “Bits and bobs” won’t help them manage their inbox.

Are you starting a new topic of conversation? So start a new email thread. Otherwise it will make your conversation hard to search through in the future.

Use An Appropriate Form Of Address

Contrary to popular belief, British people are not super super formal. So normally we start emails to colleagues and clients with “Hi” and their first name like this:

Hi Kelly,

But what if it’s someone you’ve never met, like someone you’re interviewing?

Dear Kelly,

You can also switch it up with “Hello” which is somewhere in the middle in terms of formality.

Add A Social Pleasantry

“I hope you’ve been well since we last spoke.”

“Great to hear you’ve opened another branch in West London.”

And so on.

Make Your Request Easy For Your Recipient

You probably have contacts who are busy and won’t always reply. So make it easy for them.

Suppose you want to change the supplier for office equipment. If you write “Can we start using a new supplier?” and you don’t get a reply, you’re stuck.

But consider this. If you write “I’d like to change the supplier for office equipment. I found another company with a wider range of things we need. Unless you tell me otherwise, I’ll do this on Monday”.

This way, the person you’re writing to doesn’t even need to reply.

Use Nice Short Sentences

This is one of the things we see a lot in our English language classes in London. And that’s people writing sentences which are too long. English speakers have a general preference for short, concise sentences.

Proofread Before Sending

You probably run a spellcheck anyway. But we’re talking about that pesky autocorrect function.

Sometimes autocorrect is a friend.

But sometimes it’s a fiend.

So just make sure “Best regards” doesn’t turn into “Beat regards”.

Do You Want To Improve Your English Writing Skills?

You’re in the right place. Online or face to face classes at Orchid English focus on the skills you want to improve.

Learn how to write a good email whether it’s to a client, a colleague or a friend.

Contact us on 020 8150 7239 or write to us here.

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