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English Detective #12, Cross-cultural Business & Micro-finance: May 7, 2013
May 06, 2013

English Detective #12, Cross-cultural Business & Micro-finance: May 7, 2013

Introducing this issue:

English Detective 12 looks at multi-cultural issues in business, with an article about two more business “gurus” and an optional look at some cultural differences that can affect business dealings. We also look at finance vocabulary and at micro-finance. Micro-finance is one way to enable people who have been stuck in poverty to develop businesses that can support their families and make a better life for their children.

There are two vocabulary practices, one an explanation of money and finance words and the second a quiz on the business vocabulary in this issue and the last.

At the end of this issue is a very important survey. Each of the last issues has practiced 20 or more words from the Academic Word List (AWL), with the goal of learning all 570 words by the end of the year. I have readings planned that would reach that goal for all but a few of the words (and I could write articles or paragraphs to use those.)

However, mastering the whole AWL in a year requires quite a lot of difficult reading and practice. Some readers have suggested easier readings, and I think many do not have time for so much practice every week.

So I am thinking about making English Detective shorter, with one or sometimes two readings (often TED videos and transcripts) and other short practice activities. Some of these activities would be short lessons on a common idiom or a confusing grammar point, in addition to some vocabulary.

Each issue would still include practice with at least a few AWL words, and well as other words that are important to understand. However, there would usually be less than 20 words, and so we would not go through the entire AWL in a certain time period. I would try to make an email course (or probably several mini-courses) for those who want to study and practice AWL vocabulary faster.

I would really like to know what’s best for you. Would you like to learn AWL vocabulary as fast as possible, or would you prefer shorter newsletters and a more relaxed pace?

Please let me know what you would like from English Detective by completing the three-question survey at the end of this newsletter.


Your First Clue: Vocabulary we’ll Emphasize in this Issue

academic, acquisition, allocation, circumstances, compensation, conformity, consequences, construction, contract, currency, dimension, dynamic, estimated, excluded, fee, generated, implement, impose, incentive, initiative, maximum, preceding, pursue, sufficient

A few definitions of new vocabulary not discussed on the Money Words page:

We’ve talked a lot about academic vocabulary, but I just realized we have not yet really examined the word. It comes from ‘academy,’ originally the name of the place where Plato taught in ancient Greece. Now ‘academy’ is used for schools or institutions that encourage the study of a particular subject. In the U.S. private high schools are often named academies.

We use the adjective form, ‘academic,’ for anything related to higher (university) education. So academic vocabulary is words used often by scholars or in universities. Sometimes it is also used as a noun: university professors may be called ‘academics.’

To acquire is to get something, usually by buying it. Acquisitions may be land, money, or companies. (“The newest acquisition of multi-national Corporation X is an American seed company, to enable them to expand their farming operations.”) A person who is acquisitive is greedy-- they want to have a lot.

Inccidentally, while I was researching the language site Duolingo, I just found a good example of the use of acquisition. This (old-- but still interesting) article just before Duolingo went live is titled “Meet Duolingo, Google’s Next Acquisition Target; Learn A Language, Help The Web.” It suggests that Goggle may want to buy this company from its creator, just as it bought his previous companies. (Click here if you would like to see it for yourself.)

To construct something is to build it. ‘Under construction’ means something is in the process of being built, and ‘constructive criticism’ is criticism that can help a person do better, rather than just hurting feelings.

‘Dimension’ has several meanings, but all start from the ‘three dimensions’ of height, width, or depth. A flat surface has only two dimensions; a cube adds volume or depth, so it is three-dimensional. Sometimes when we want to talk about a different angle or way of looking at something we talk about ‘another dimension of the problem...’

Something that’s dynamic is constantly moving & changing. A dynamic person is energetic and enthusiastic.

An estimate gives an approximate number-- not exact, but close enough to give a general idea of what the exact amount will be.

To exclude is to leave out (the opposite of include.) A policy of exclusion would deliberately leave many people out. An exclusive resort only accepts certain (usually wealthy) people.

To impose is to put (or often force) new rules or requirements on someone. “The Mexican government protested the American imposition of new restrictions on trade.”

To initiate is to start something. An initiative can be a proposal. Initiative can also be a personal characteristic: being a self-starter-- able to see what needs to be done, then do it.

Preceding means what came before. A precedent is a first event that sets an example for what follows, so unprecedented means that nothing like this has happened before.

To pursue is to follow or chase after someone. You might read about police pursuing a criminal, or about a young person deciding to pursue a career in medicine or business. The American Declaration of Independence talks about people’s right to the pursuit of happiness-- to try to find and follow what will make them happy.

This Issue’s Reading and Practice Activities


For the BBC program on business gurus who have studied cross-cultural business, click here.

Click here to learn a little more about financial vocabulary-- “money words.”

Click here for the article on microfinance.

If you would like extra reading on doing business with people of different cultures (not so important for practicing AWL vocabulary, but interesting) Click here.

Test your Deductions

Click here for the quiz.

Coming in the next issue: Social Entrepreneurs-- Businesspeople fighting poverty.

Please complete the 3 question survey here.

In case you missed these: Earlier issues of English Detective have articles on a number of topics, plus practice with over 200 words from the Academic Word List. You can check them out with the link to the back issues page below (or find what words were practiced each issue here.

P.S. If you’re not already getting English Detective, you can subscribe by completing the form here. (It's free!)

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