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Posts Tagged ‘Business English’

Find a job and improve your career with effective Business English

23 Oct
Searching for a job? You’ll need an effective CV!

Today’s job market is extremely competitive and you need to give yourself an advantage when applying for jobs. The most important document you need is a really impressive CV, written in perfect English.

Robert Dennis, the founder of the Milan Business English Network, has published an online course that can help you speak and use English more effectively: Effective Business Communication in English. Section 7 of this course shows you, step by step, how to write a great CV and make a better impression when you apply for jobs.

Visit Robert’s online Academy now and sign up for the course!

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Riverstone and Interpret the Future team up again with OpenKnowledge at the Social Business Forum 2016

06 Jul

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Now in its ninth year, the Social Business Forum, Europe’s premier speaker and networking event dedicated to social business, will take place in Milan on the 6-7 July 2016. Organised by OpenKnowledge, the management consulting company focused on social and digital transformation, and held once again at the Marriott Hotel in the capital city of fashion and design, SBF16 will bring together features a unique offer of visionary keynote speeches, success stories and discussion panels organized in a Free and Premium Conference. The Free Conference includes the keynote speeches in the mornings of July 6th and 7th delivered by outstanding and internationally-known experts.

The theme of this year’s Social Business Forum is the Platfirm Age: Plug your Business – Play your Future. The focus of many of the keynote presentations will be on how platform-companies, such as Airbnb, Facebook and LinkedIn, have revolutionised traditional business models and developed continuously-evolving structures where value is co-created with users / customers.

All the keynotes will be simultaneously translated by Interpret the Future, the Social Business Forum’s longstanding specialist interpreting partners. This year, the team includes ItF founder members Loredana Nano and Alice Bertinotti. Daniela Negru will also be in the booths helping the team to provide a highly professional conference interpreting service. The project is managed by Robert Dennis, director of Riverstone Language & Communications.

Find out more…

by Robert Dennis

Robert has created an online Business English course on WiziQ. Sign up for the free edition!

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Franglish: the language exchange event for native Italian and English speakers

01 Apr

Franglish France

There’s an exciting new way to practise your language skills in Milan. It’s called FRANGLISH and we spoke to Franglish co-founder Steven Annonziata to find out all about it…


NetworkMilan.com: What is Franglish?


Steven Annonziata:
Franglish is a language exchange event (Italian/English exchange in Milan and Rome) taking place every week in some of the best venues across your city. The goal of FRANGLISH is simple: to learn a foreign language in a relaxed atmosphere and to improve your language skills in a great environment where you can start meeting locals and forming friendships! It’s more of a social event than a language lesson. Our experience abroad taught us that the best way to learn a language is to talk about things we know and like. With FRANGLISH you can talk about anything and everything without the fear of being judged.

 

Franglish MeetUp


Network Milan: How does Franglish work?


Steven:
Firstly, you start by registering through the website http://www.franglish.eu, then the participants meet up in a bar or restaurant with a floor or room dedicated to Franglish, from 7pm to 9pm, for the price of 10 euros including one drink. After the welcome drink, they start their first one-to-one mini-conversation. Each session lasts for 15 minutes; Italians and anglophones alternate half of the time in Italian, half in English with at least 5 different people. After the 15 minutes is over, they switch tables and meet a new partner! Out of inspiration? If needed, a bilingual organiser is there to help people break the ice and guide them via conversation suggestions.


Network Milan: Where do Franglish events take place?


Steven:
Franglish events take place in bars and restaurants, usually on Tuesdays or Wednesdays from 7 to 9pm. A room is dedicated to Franglish.

Franglish Milan 2


Network Milan: Which cities / countries does Franglish operate in?


Steven:
We organise Franglish events in Italy (Milan and Rome), France (Paris, Nice, Lyon, Lille, Montpellier, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Strasbourg and Grenoble), Belgium (Brussels), the UK (London and Cambridge), the USA (Chicago and San Francisco) and Canada (Toronto).


Network Milan: Where did you get the idea for Franglish?


Steven:
I founded FRANGLISH with a friend, Nicolas Saurel. We have lived abroad, and back in France we started thinking about how we had only had a few opportunities to practise English with native speakers: it is not that easy to meet and create friendships with anglophones in France. We had tried many options spanning from very formal and quite expensive lessons to big parties where it can be sometimes difficult for attendees to overcome shyness. In essence, we couldn’t find a happy medium, so we decided to create it ourselves and came up with FRANGLISH.


Franglish is about making progress while having fun. In the friendly atmosphere of the best venues we offer anglophones and italians the opportunity to discover and share their language and culture while having a drink together. Not hidden behind their computer screens, but in person, in real life.

 

Franglish France 2


Network Milan: Is Franglish speed dating? If not, what are the differences?


Steven:
FRANGLISH is not an ‘aperitivo’ or a new approach to speed dating: it is a social event that allows you to (re)discover a language and a new culture. Franglish aims to create a link between communities that have a lot to learn from each other. So if your goal is to practise a language while making new friends, Franglish is made for you. If you’re looking for the love of your life, then I’m sure there are plenty of events made for you, but not Franglish I’m afraid.


Network Milan: What sort of people is Franglish aimed at?


Steven:
Franglish is aimed at people looking to improve their language skills. Practising is the key, and practising with native speakers is even better.


Network Milan: Are there any language levels / minimum language skills required, etc?


Steven:
Not really, all levels/ages are welcome at Franglish. Of course, it will be easier if you’re able to hold a conversation in the language you’re learning, but it’s not a necessary requirement of FRANGLISH.

 

Franglish Milan


Network Milan: How much do the events cost (typically)?


Steven:
The average cost is 10€ and it includes a welcome drink.


Network Milan: Why is Franglish different from / better than straightforward language exchanges / lessons (classes), etc


Steven:
Franglish is different from any other language exchange because of its format/organisation. The one-to-one conversations allow people to practise their language skills during the two-hour-long event. You sit with a native speaker in front of you and you have no choice other than talk to them! So even if your language skills are not that great (at least if that’s what you think) or if you are a bit shy, it won’t be a problem at Franglish.


People come back every week and we get great feedback so we’re pretty sure they really like it!


Network Milan: Franglish is already in a lot of places. Do you plan to expand it even further?


Steven:
Yes. Within a year we are aiming to launch Franglish in a lot of new places, especially in Europe and the USA.


Network Milan: How can I find out where Franglish events are taking place in my area?


Steven:
That’s quite easy. Just visit our website
www.franglish.eu and select the city where you live. All the information is updated every week. Signup is mandatory on the website so don’t forget to do it.


Network Milan: Thanks for taking the time to speak to us!


Steven:
Thanks for the interview and I hope to see a lot of expats, students, language enthusiasts and people who just want to practise speaking English or Italian at Franglish soon.

 

Logo-Franglish


Interview for NetworkMilan by Robert Dennis.


You can discover more Franglish events in Milan on the Club Tutti Expats International of Milano MeetUp group, including dates, locations and photos of recent events.


If you would like to attend a Franglish event, however, it is VERY IMPORTANT that you register with Franglish via their website http://www.franglish.eu.

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Delivering on its promise: e-commerce in Italy is growing – and now even comes with free coffee

10 Sep

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Report by Sonia Trubia and Robert Dennis

“E-talia” bucks the downward trend

At their annual “E-commerce in Italia” conference, held earlier this year at the Milan Chamber of Commerce, Casaleggio Associati, presented their regular snapshot of the state of the mouse-driven marketplace in Italy (pdf available here, in Italian). It certainly makes for interesting reading; despite the continuing economic crisis and generally disappointing growth in the economy, e-commerce in the Bel Paese is growing, with the market for online sales in 2014 showing an 8% rise on the previous year. However, when set against the bigger picture of the global e-commerce market, with growth worldwide expected to reach just over 20% this year, it is clear that there is still room for improvement.

Growth 2014

The fact remains that online shoppers play an increasingly significant role in the Italian economy (with total turnover for e-commerce worth just over 24bn euros last year) and this is being driven progressively by mobile, which now accounts for 13% of online sales (up from only 5% three years ago).

The two online behemoths, eBay and Amazon, with their vast and ever-expanding range of products to tempt the consumer, their competitive pricing and above all their reputation for reliability – essential for wary purchasers flexing their plastic or using online payment services such as PayPal – continue to dominate the Italian e-commerce market. (63% of Italian online shoppers use Amazon while 57% of customers use eBay.) Despite their relatively much smaller presence, other players, such as the French Pixmania (PixPlace) and Buy-me.it (part of the Mail Boxes Etc. group) are making themselves felt. Additionally, China-based Alibaba and Etsy (which focuses on handmade and vintage items) are gaining a toe-hold.

casaleggio-associati-e-commerce-italia-2015-i-mark

 

We called while you were out…

Overall then, the proportion of consumers using e-commerce in Italy is up and the trend is set to continue. But making purchases online is actually only half the story. The really tricky part is getting those products into the hands of the consumer after they have pored over the screen selecting from all the desirable goods on offer and clicked on the final “PAY NOW” button. Completing orders and delivering the merchandise should be straightforward, but this is often where the real frustration begins – both for the vendor as well as the consumer. Most couriers, for example, only deliver parcels during working hours, which, obviously, is inconvenient for most people, especially workers who won’t be at home to take the delivery. If no one picks up the parcels after several visits, then the courier the has to return it to the closest post-office or the delivery centre where it was dispatched from – and the hapless online buyer will have to go and pick it up themselves.

What’s Indabox?

logo_IndaBoxThis was exactly the dilemma that two friends from Turin, Giovanni Riviera and Michele Calvo, wrestled with – and came up with a uniquely Italian solution to the problem. At the end of 2014, they launched an app called Indabox, which allows users to look for a convenient delivery spot in their area and have the parcel delivered there, without having to worry about anything else. Indabox now has a steadily expanding network comprising more than 2400 drop-off points, including bars, supermarkets (they are in a partnership with Carrefour) and tobacconists. These business were chosen as drop-off spots because they can be found throughout the country, thus giving users a much greater chance to find a convenient place to have their purchases delivered. Bars are the most popular option, because, unlike other shops or supermarkets, they often close at 10pm, if not later. RelaisColis, the French equivalent of Indabox, is a very successful enterprise, and has a huge network of drop-off  and pick-up points (over 4000).

Come_funziona

The service offered by Indabox is also affordable. The first Indabox pick-up is free, but from the second time onwards you have to pay a €3 fee (€1,50 goes to the business and €1,50 to the startup itself) each time you pick up your parcel. It’s a price users are willing to pay for the added convenience.

Of course, Indabox is not the only option e-commerce customers have. A less personal alternative is that of using a “locker”, similar to the luggage lockers that used to be a feature of every central station and airport. In Italy, the most active network of lockers is operated by Inpost. Inpost is a “click-and-collect” service allowing online buyers to have deliveries made at specific locations with automated lockers, where they can collect them 24/7. However, while in other countries the locker system works very well, in Italy it hasn’t proved that popular or practical. Inpost, for example, only works with one courier and its network is not as extensive as that of Indabox.

Inpost

Moreover, Indabox and RelaisColis have a twofold advantage over other apps such as Inpost.  On the one hand, they have an interesting social angle, which is not only a key component in disruptive technology startups but also a critical factor in this highly socialized country. Popping in to your local bar to pick up a package naturally enough leads to personal contact, however short or shallow, with shopkeepers, bartenders and other customers. But most importantly for the drop-off points themselves, they can have a knock-on effect in terms of sales. As one of the Indabox founders recently told Wired Italy:  “Maybe someone decides to pick up their parcel, which was dropped off at a bar, during their lunch break, and then perhaps they decide to eat a sandwich there or to have a coffee, hence boosting the bartender’s turnover and making a contribution to the domestic market.”

Thanks to startups like Indabox, gaps in the online shopping experience are being filled and the whole process of buying and receiving goods is becoming that much more comfortable and convenient – it certainly avoids the need of staying at home in case you miss the courier or making an unnecessary to pick up your products from an out-of-the way warehouse or post office. And if collecting your online deliveries is also an excuse to enjoy a drink and chat, then so much the better. (Indabox even has an “IndaCoffee Card” which allows you to get every fifth coffee free from participating bars in the network.)

(c) Milan Business English Network, 2015

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About the authors:

Sonia Trubia is a freelance writer and translator based in Genoa. She speaks Italain, French and English and is currently completing an MA about the British novelist A.S.Byatt.

Robert Dennis is the founder of the Milan Business English Network and Director of Riverstone Language & Communications, which provides English language training and translations.

 

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An evening of networking and discovery at the first-ever Teachers’ Lounge in Milan

02 Jun

Last Thursday the first-ever Teachers’ Lounge event was held at Fiori Oscuri bar in Milan. The event’s organisers, Robert Dennis of the Milan Business English Network and Russell Lewis of Pearson, were both surprised and delighted by the positive reaction from guests and feedback on the event, which was attended by over 30 teachers and professionals involved in language training.

The Teachers’ Lounge combined the networking and socialising of a typical MBEN event with a unique opportunity to discover more about Pearson’s dedicated range of specialist ELT materials, including a wide selection of online resources as well as books covering everything from grammar to exams to English for Special Purposes (ESP).

In a relaxed and stylish setting, the Teachers’ Lounge allowed guests to mingle and chat (with free refreshments provided by Pearson) while Russell and his team of experts from the world’s largest education company showed off the latest in blended learning solutions, such as MyEnglishLab and the online and offline versions of bestselling courses including Speak Out and Market Leader.

Attendees were also given an interactive card equipped with a NFC chip and a QR code which provides access to special offers from Pearson. These are updated regularly and can be accessed using the Teachers’ Lounge card simply by tapping it with an NFC-enabled smartphone or by scanning the QR code.

During the evening, Robert introduced Russell, who made a short speech thanking everyone for attending and introducing the NFC/QR card to guests. Both organisers thanked Andrew Shearn of Fiori Oscuri for providing such beautiful accommodation: the stunning lower ground floor lounge, complete with tropical plants, sofas and some lightly-chilled ambient beats.

Following the success of the launch event, another Teachers’ Lounge is currently being planned for the autumn. Watch this space for more details or contact Robert Dennis or Russell Lewis to find out how you can register for the event.

Looking forward to seeing everyone again – plus some new faces – at the next Teachers’ Lounge!

Contact details:

Robert Dennis, Milan Business English Network
Russell Lewis, Pearson

 

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Introducing… the Teachers’ Lounge!

20 May

Staff meetings were never like this: what happened?

The revolution will not be televised, but it may well end up going viral on YouTube: launching later this month, The Teachers’ Lounge will be quite unlike any teachers’ meeting you have ever attended. An evening of great networking in a fabulous setting and the latest edtech ideas and hands-on demos, it’s guaranteed to be a night to remember for the teachers who make their way to the Fiori Oscuri bar on Thursday 29th May at 7:30pm.

Organised by the Milan Business English Network, in association with PearsonThe Teachers’ Lounge will feature a laid back and leisurely look at some of the best teaching materials currently on offer – especially the new apps and online resources that are driving the move towards digitalization in the classroom. The evening will also be a chance to mix and mingle with other colleagues in the elegant surroundings of Fiori’s subterranean lounge.

Russell Lewis, an Education Consultant with Pearson based in Milan, will be on hand with his team to allow teachers to experience first-hand some of the latest innovations in classroom technology (and in fact, mobile tech that goes beyond  the classroom itself). While you may have heard about platforms such as MyEnglishLab or are familiar with some of Pearson’s vast range of titles for all levels of learners, the Teachers’ Lounge will provide the ideal setting in which to see these in action – guided by experts who will be delighted to explain the benefits and efficacy of the products and services.

As well as having the chance to see online learning on an iPad you can discover how to simplify many of your everyday teaching and administrative tasks – and save time and energy – while ensuring that your students’ learning outcomes are improving.

At the same time, attendees will be invited to sign up for some exclusive freebies and offers – plus a few other surprises that will be revealed on the night itself. Milan Business English Network events are always a great way to expand your range of contacts as well as meet up with old friends and have a great night out. The combination of MBEN plus Pearson should give you not only access to ideas and resources, but also help boost your professional teaching career. Running parallel with the live event, The Teachers’ Lounge will provide access to a wealth of tips, links and solutions to make your teaching life both easier and more rewarding.

Teachers who have registered on the Eventbrite site can enjoy free drinks, courtesy of Pearson and for anyone who has never been to Fiori Oscuri before you will be surprised and delighted at this hidden gem of Anglo-Italian chic located right in the heart of the trendy Brera art zone.

There will be a strict limit on numbers at this event, so if you haven’t signed up already, you’d better skates on: we’re filling up rapidly!

For more details and any queries relating to the Teachers’ Lounge, please contact either Robert Dennis of the Milan Business English Network or Russell Lewis at Pearson.

School’s out. The Teachers’ Lounge is in. See you there!

THE TEACHERS’ LOUNGE

Thursday 29 May 2014, 19:30 – 22:00

Fiori Oscuri (Sports Bar S.R.L)
Via Fiori Oscuri, 3
Milano

Dress code: smart casual

Click here to register (Eventbrite)

 

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The Milan Business English Network and Riverstone team up for a networking aperitivo this Thursday…

23 Jan

Come and develop your  professional network with us this Thursday 

How can you develop new contacts and use your English skills too? What’s the best strategy for advancing your career and extending your professional network? Where can you spend a great evening in sophisticated surroundings with interesting people who share the same approach to doing business as you?

The answer is simple: come to this event – and give your business a boost!

The Milan Business English Network – in conjunction with Riverstone Language & Communication – is holding a business networking aperitivo at the elegant and comfortbale Fiori Oscuri bar in the Brera district. The evening will start at 7:30pm and anyone who has signed up on the event page or belongs to the Milan Business English Network is welcome. You may also bring friends and colleagues. (However, space is limited so please let us know if you plan to come with a group.)

Not only will have a great time, but you will also have the opportunity to make some useful contacts.

For more details, please contact Robert Dennis or Helen Fish.

Why should you join the Milan Business English Network?

We are a rapidly-growing group of professionals with an interest in using, learning or teaching business English. Our members include people from a wide range of business sectors and backgrounds. The Milan Business English Network was founded and is managed by Robert Dennis, a freelance business English teacher and co-founder of Riverstone Language & Communications. You can read articles and interviews about business topics and developing your professional profile here in our online news magazine, NetworkMilan.com. We also have two active online groups which you can connect to via facebook and LinkedIn. The Milan Business English Network organises regular networking events and is a great way of meeting other professionals who want to improve their communication skills and meet new people in Milan and beyond.

How can Riverstone help you extend your network?

Making connections

Success in business today is all about making connections: finding the right people to build great teams, locating new customers and clients – and sourcing the best suppliers and freelancers to help you grow your business.

Riverstone can help you develop the network of contacts you need, especially international contacts in the English-speaking countries.

In order to help companies and individuals make the right connections and contacts we are organising a programme of networking events where you will have the opportunity to meet people and organisations you can do business with.

In collaboration with the Milan Business English Network and other partners we will be hosting a series of business networking events, seminars and workshops.

Register for the event on the Riverstone facebook event page!

Date: 24 January 2013
Time: 7:30pm
Location: Fiori Oscuri, Via Fiori Oscuri 3, Milano, Italy

Visit the Riverstone website to discover how they can help your business…

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Riverstone: a new approach to learning business English, networking and social media marketing

23 Jan

Integrating language activities in a company helps achieve success.

Traditionally, language learning has been seen as either a service (or duty) provided by companies to their employees, while communications activities such as translation and providing content for the company website have been seen as separate tasks that can either be done in-house by the marketing team or outsourced to an agency.

Riverstone Language & Communications takes a totally different approach.

A dynamic, new organisation for business English, Riverstone believes that all language-related activities in a company should be integrated and harmonised: the way employees answer the phone and write emails; the language used to present the company in sales meetings with customers; the tone and content on the company’s corporate website and social media presence; and even its advertising media – all of these should resonate with one clear voice that is easy to understand, inspires trust and promotes the core brand values of the business.

By raising the quality of the entire company’s language skills and ability to speak directly to customers and clients, Riverstone can help any organisation achieve its business objectives and assist in building strong, lasting relationships.

Riverstone are also active in helping companies and professionals in a wide range of sectors to put their English language skills into practice by attracting new business and extending their network of contacts. With a programme of regular business networking events and specialist language workshops, Riverstone can enable any company or freelancer to give themselves a competitive advantage in the market place – especially in key foreign markets where communicating in English is essential.

Changing the way companies use English

While many companies have embraced the benefits offered by social media, Riverstone also understands that businesses need to be able to tailor and target their message effectively on a variety of social media platforms, such as facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other services. They have developed sophisticated language-based training programmes that help companies focus on the key objectives of communicating effectively via social media: establishing trust; conveying a sense of professionalism and integrity; engaging customers with a clear, compelling message; and building communities based on brands, as well as B2B networks.

Riverstone is owned and managed by Milan Business English Network founder Robert Dennis and entrepreneur Helen Fish. Together they are redefining the role of business English training and communications inside a company. Their model is one of collaboration and discovery: allowing management, employees and customers to speak to each other in a shared, inclusive dialogue that is both natural and productive.

“I would like people in business to think of Riverstone as a single solution for all their language needs: training, internal and external communications, and a stepping-stone towards accessing new markets and customers,” says Helen.

If you would like to discover how Riverstone is shaking up the business English world – and how they can help you business to maximise its potential through an integrated approach to language and communications – please contact either Robert Dennis (Robert@riverlang.com) or Helen Fish (Helen@riverlang.com). They will be delighted to provide you with information about their training programmes, workshops and business networking events.

NEW! The Milan Business English Network in association with Riverstone Language & Communications is holding a business networking event at Fiori Oscuri bar in Milan this Thursday. To find out more about this event, please visit the Milan Business English Network facebook event page or see the Riverstone website for details.

Find out more: http://riverlang.com/

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Blended learning maestro Pete Sharma set to make an impact on Milan at the PSA Symposium

31 Aug

Pete Sharma, one of the world’s leading experts on integrating technology into learning, will be “in the shadow of the Madonnina” this autumn as part of the PSA (Pete Sharma Associates) Symposium. The event on October 4th 2012 in Milan is being hosted by the British Consulate-General and sponsored by SMART Technologies, Richmond ELT and Little Bridge. UK Trade & Investment are also supporting the Symposium.

The title of the Symposium is “L’impatto delle nuove tecnologie sull’insegnamento delle lingue straniere” (“The impact of new technology on foreign language teaching”). This symposium builds on the success of similar events in Spain.

The speakers will include Pete and representatives from the sponsors. The exact topics and content are still to be confirmed, but here is a preview of the programme:

Keynote Presentation

Pete Sharma, Pete Sharma Associates Ltd
“New developments in Language Teaching and Learning in the Digital Age”

Pete speaking at a recent ICT Conference
(Photo: British Council)

Technology has changed the teaching and learning of languages. However, technology changes quickly and it is sometimes difficult for teachers to follow new developments. It is not always easy to use new  technology well inside and beyond the classroom. In his talk, Pete Sharma will describe some of the most important recent advances in new technology including m-learning, commercially produced digital materials, the interactive whiteboard and the virtual learning environment in the 21st century

Pete started his EFL career as a business English teacher in Madrid, moving to Finland before returning to the UK. He worked as teacher trainer, Director of Studies and school manager before becoming the Group teacher training and development manager for Linguarama, a business English organisation which is now part of the Marcus Evans group. In his capacity as a member of the Group Pedagogical Unit he inspected schools, taught writing seminars in the Middle and Far East, and helped create and run trainer training courses. He has written extensively about technology in language teaching. Pete recently changed from ESP to EAP, and currently divides his time between lecturing at Oxford Brookes University and on the Warwick University pre-sessional courses, and writing. He keeps a blog on using technology in ELT with co-author Barney Barrett. See: www.te4be.com

 

Luke Baxter & Cathy Smith
Richmond ELT
“Convergence”

This is a term that encompasses many of the most important trends in the “digital world” today. Important examples include how tools, entertainment and work have converged onto a single device, so a person can have, say, a compass, a radio and a spreadsheet on their iPad. Another example and one which is very much at the forefront of digital predictions is “the cloud”, where content and computing converge and become accessible “anytime, anywhere and on any device”.

Using examples from Richmond’s Digital Books and Learning Platforms, this presentation will aim to show how convergence is already affecting ELT publishing. Luke and Cathy will show how many of the traditional components of a publisher’s course offering have already converged in a Digital Book that includes the Student’s Book, Teacher’s Book, Workbook and Class Audio. They will also look at how students can access the Learning Platforms to play games, comment on blogs and communicate with their teacher, who in turn can assign trackable tests and homework activities.

Finally, they will attempt to look forward and hazard some guesses as to how convergence will continue to affect ELT publishing. Can every course component converge onto a single device? Will the divide between paper and digital make any sense in the future? Will this mean the end of the printed book? Should ELT publishers view themselves solely as content providers and thus endeavour to provide this content in whatever way best suits the needs and situations of each individual customer?

 

Valeria Mordenti
Marketing Manager Italy & South East Europe at SMART Technologies
The Interactive Whiteboard and Language Teaching”

SMART created the world’s first interactive whiteboard in 1991 and they remain the world’s leading provider of interactive whiteboards. Incorporated in 1987, SMART has been committed to innovation and excellence for more than 25 years and has provided solutions for the education, higher education, business, government and military communities. More than two million SMART Board interactive whiteboards are used by over 40 million students and their teachers, and SMART products are used in more than 175 countries.

 

Paul Rogers
Little Bridge
“Making English Irresistible to Young Learners!”

Paul is an award-winning author of over forty books for children, as well as of many well-known materials for the teaching of languages, including for teaching English. He’s an experienced linguist and has been both a primary and secondary teacher, as well as a lecturer in Education (at Goldsmiths College, University of London). Taking examples from Little Bridge, Paul will show how an innovative digital resource can:

1.       build a bridge between the learner and the English speaking world, setting the language in context through 3D animations and virtual reality

2.       build a bridge between traditional teaching methods and the latest computer technology, dealing with grammar, for example, in a painless, natural way.

3.       bridge the gap between work and play by making learning fun through a wide variety of motivating games, songs and activity types.

4.       build a bridge between home and school by providing activities that children will do for pleasure, whilst allowing the school to keep track of everyone’s progress.

 

Registration and Contact Details

Entry to the Symposium will be free but by invitation only. Delegates will also need to register with the British Consulate-General. If you would like to attend this event, please contact Byron Russell at PSA:

byron.russell@psa.eu.com

Check the Events page on the PSA website for further details and updates about the Symposium: http://www.psa.eu.com/event/psa-symposium-milan

You can find out more about Pete Sharma and PSA on their website: http://www.psa.eu.com/

 

About PSA

Pete Sharma Associates Ltd was founded in October 2008. PSA is an educational consultancy and training organisation for language teachers. PSA runs courses worldwide for teachers of English as a Foreign Language, teacher trainers and academic managers on how to successfully integrate educational technology into their language courses. PSA also advises institutions on hardware and software for language teaching.

PSA has a core team of four directors who are responsible for ensuring that all PSA courses meet the highest standards of quality. The directors keep abreast of educational technology and liaise with the major hardware and software manufacturers and publishers. They use a number of associate trainers, specialised in integrating technology into language courses. Their activities are supported by many associate organisations including The Pyramid Group.

 

Interested in blended learning? Robert Dennis attended the recent “Digital Transformation in the English Teaching World” event co-hosted by Pearson Longman and the British Council. Read the full  report on the Milan English blog:

The perfect blend? Pearson and the British Council team up for “Digital Transformation in the English Teaching World” 

 

 

 

 

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Nothing ventured, nothing gained: Danielle Dalkie finds the rules for raising startup capital are (gradually) changing

01 Aug

Fuelling the digital economy: options for startups (Image: Stock.xchang)

I have first-hand experience of raising capital; pounding the pavement and listening to people tell you that something you have put your heart and soul into doesn’t really interest them: sorry. Then, just when it seems you are about to give up , when you have spoken to every investor – twice – you suddenly stumble across someone who is actually willing to invest.

In the current economic climate it seems this process is even more arduous as people are less willing than usual to part with their hard-earned cash.  When it comes to venture capital, the conventional wisdom has been that if you want money the Americans are pretty much giving it away. Finding investment in Europe, however, while far from impossible, isn’t exactly easy either (particularly in Italy). Take for example the Italian startup wunderkind, Mashape, an API marketplace for cloud-based services: they spoke with every VC and investor in Italy – all without success. And then (miraculously) after just 19 days in the USA they found funding in San Francisco.

According to Marco Palladino, one of the founders of Mashape (along with Augusto Marietti and Michele Zonca) it’s entirely cultural. He told TechCrunch: ‘in Italy, the investor community is smaller and has less money than in Silicon Valley. Therefore, they don’t want to take a risk by investing in a new and innovative model – they want to invest in something proven and secure. Thus, they fund models that already exist, which ends up slowing down local innovation as a consequence’.

However, you can find venture capital if you’re in the right industry.  A recent report states that there has been a 37 per cent increase in investments in the US this quarter. Not surprisingly companies in the mobile sector have been the main beneficiaries, including seed funding for startups. In fact, 22 per cent of all deals have been at the seed stage this quarter.

Even though the Italian investments market still trails its main European counterparts it has been growing and an increasing number of opportunities are available.  In the past three years, 183 startups have received financing, according to a survey by “Startup Numbers”. The combined investment capacity of the funds for 2012-13 is about 320 million euros, aimed at supporting around 160 new businesses. The average lead time between the issuing of the business plan and the actual investment is about 6 months. Some firms can manage it in 3 months, while others need up to 10 months. The average share of capital controlled by investors is 30%.

There is also growing interest in the Italian startup sector, attracting not only homegrown VC funds, but also foreign money. Government support in the form of a Task Force to propose new laws more favourable to startups has also helped to spur optimism, as we reported on NetworkMilan recently.

Kickstarter: the world's largest funding platform for creative projects

However, while the traditional funding route for startups remains hard just about everywhere there is a new trend in the form of online funding networks.  Depending on which site they use a startup can raise whatever amount they need to get their business off the ground.  Whether you’re a one-man-band with a brilliant idea, or a small company seeking further development funds, this seems to be where most people are getting angel funding. Kickstarter is the one most people have heard about, creating a community for people with money to invest: anything from $10 up to $1 million, as was the case for Nano Wristbands (which convert an iPod Nano into a watch).

I also came across Payable.com as well, which takes a slightly different approach.  You share your idea on the site, which then gets funded by the ‘investor/s’.  Payable’s own developers step in to get you up and running and the software is sold via their online store, which is how the investors make their money back.  One disadvantage with this model is that you don’t own the IP.

And there’s Kabbage.com, which, according to its website can ‘provide working capital to online sellers to help their business grow in less than 10 minutes‘.

I like the idea of startups funding startups.  It makes sense; they understand the risks involved and are generally more in tune with the way entrepreneurs think.  And it is these companies that have been the driving force behind the growth in seed investment, as I mentioned above.

Certainly, the times they are a-changin’ for the investment sector. I personally do not believe you can say one location or market is better or worse than any other, especially since the dire economic outlook affects everyone equally (at least in the West, still languishing in recession). (According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. government spending relative to GDP is 36%, which is very close to that of Spain. And the US debt-to-GDP ratio is 103% whereas Spain’s is 68%.)

But while times remain tough, the growing diversity of funding sources for startups is one of the factors helping to get new high-tech businesses through these tough times.

By Danielle Dalkie, Social Media / PR Consultant and Co-founder of mobile payments startup Waspit.

BREAKING NEWS: Danielle has recently founded Network Roma, a sister group of the Milan Business English Network. You can become part of Network Roma by joining their group on LinkedIn.

Racing ahead: venture capital is available for startups with real potential that explore every funding route (Image: Formula One by Mark McArdle via Wikimedia Commons)

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