About Scott

Hello, I am an ESL teacher and the founder of Monument English, an English school in Italy which has courses both in-class and online and where we teach students from all around the world English. Check out our website to learn more.

How to ace an interview

Topic-Business Interview


This is the scenario

interview group

It’s been a while since you lost your job.  After a long time of self-pitying and distress due to financial difficulties and pressure from your surroundings, you’ve finally decided to get into gear and set out to find a new job opportunity.

However, no matter what position you try to obtain, the pressure to perform well at the interview causes extreme anxiety that cripples your performance.

Before the interview begins

Does the thought of going on a job interview cause you to panic?
What do you do to help lessen your anxiety?
What are the basic DOs and DON’Ts in a job interview?  Name three of each.
What was the worst blunder you’ve ever committed in an interview? Briefly describe what happened.
What kind of interviewer intimidates you the most?

Now interview handshake 2

After a couple of failures, you’ve now learned to get yourself more prepared for upcoming interviews.

You’ve had your best friend and your family members pretend to be recruiters, and you’ve rehearsed all of the most frequently asked questions and answers. You’ve taken a practice run to the location where you are having the interview and know approximately how long it will take you to get there. You look presentable in impeccable attire. So, what next?


The following are some of the toughest questions you will face in a job interview.  Some may seem rather simple on the surface and could have a variety of answers.

With your classmates, practice answering the questions and decide which ones you consider to be the toughest. After you’re done, point out the strongest/weakest parts of the answers your classmates have given.

Tell me about yourself. Interaction
What do you know about our organization and why do you want to work for us?
What can you do for us that someone else can’t ?
What is your greatest weakness?
Have you ever had a conflict with a boss or co-worker?  How was it resolved?
How has your education prepared you for your career?
How long would it take you to make a meaningful contribution to our firm?
Why did you leave your last job? What did you think of your last boss?
What are your salary expectations?
Why should we hire you?

Useful advice

There are numerous reasons why people fail to land a job after they’ve had their interviews.

Oftentimes, when interviewees are asked to tell the interviewers about themselves, they feel that they should talk about their personal lives and hobbies, instead of seeing this as an opportunity to sell themselves by pointing out their qualifications with conviction.

Be positive during the job interview when asked why you left your previous job.  Indeed, your last boss may have been a jerk whose main concern was making your life miserable, but never bash an ex-employer in front of your prospective employer.

You may state that you decided to look for a company with room for growth and where you can better utilize your skills. Remember, although honesty is admirable, trash-talking is absolutely despicable.  After all, who would want to hire someone who only seems good at badmouthing their former bosses?

Turn the table interview-tips

If you were a recruiter, which of the following answers would be the worst things to hear from prospective candidates? Choose your top three and explain why.

I’ll work for free just to get my foot in the door.
I’m sorry I’m late, but I have great reasons for it.
To be honest, I know nothing about this company.
Do I have to work overtime? Because I seriously don’t do that.
I left my old job because my boss was an idiot.
I left my old job because there was too much office drama and I just couldn’t handle all that work anymore.
Nine to five? Boy, that sure takes the best part out of the day!
Speaking of my weaknesses, I’ve been told that I’m really slow when handling new things.  But I’m definitely willing to try.
How many vacation days do we get?  How about extra employee benefits?
The reason why I want to work here is because I don’t know much about the industry and I feel that this will be a great opportunity for me to learn.


When you’re asked to describe a weakness, try to aim for a weakness that works to your prospective boss’s advantage, such as “I am a workaholic, and I can’t stand leaving work undone.”

It’s also important to remember that employers don’t want employees that don’t contribute or give input. This can be reflected through the way you interact during the interview.  Words such as “Um..”, “ I’m not sure”, “ I don’t know”, or even “ No, I don’t have any questions for you” are telling the interviewer that you don’t have a clue about that company, and at the same time you’re showing a lack of interest.  Having a few questions in your pocket could make you more confident and prepared, especially in moments when the conversation is not flowing smoothly.

One last thing

No matter how the interview turns out, it’s really the effort that counts.  You won’t fret when you’re well prepared. Bring up your achievements that will make you the very best candidate for the position. The key is to focus on your achievable objectives and what you are doing to reach those objectives.
When dealing with questions that are related to your behavioral reactions to conflicts or problems, try to provide examples that reflect your calmness and your ability to resolve problems.


pity  to feel sorry for someone because they are in a very bad situation
distress  suffering and problems caused by a lack of money, food, etc.
cripple  to damage something badly so that it no longer works or is no longer effective
impeccable  without any faults and impossible to criticize
conviction  the feeling of being sure about something and having no doubts
despicable  extremely bad, immoral, or cruel
badmouth  to criticize someone or something
fret  to worry about something, especially when there is no need to
The end
If you enjoyed this lesson then you’ll love our online lessons. Held in real time, with mother tongue English teachers, 1-1 or in small groups using WizIQ interactive classrooms. Visit our website and sign up for a free demo lesson.

Register for a free demo


What you need to know before you travel.

Topic – Travel tips

Level – intermediate

Warm uptravel around the world

Do you have any plans to travel overseas soon?

What are some unique characteristics of the country you want to visit?

What is something that you would like to see once in your life from another country?


If you want to travel to other countries, there are some important things that you must keep in mind. First, you may not be able to have a lot of things that you are used to having at home. Unfortunately, this may include toilet paper in the public restrooms. In some countries, toilet paper is not provided in the restroom, so keep a few packs of tissue in your pocket or purse.

You might not be able to get used to the water in a foreign place; you could experience some intestinal problems. If you brush your teeth with tap water or eat anything rinsed in tap water, you could have a problem. So, have a bottle of antacid with you just in case to treat an upset stomach. It’s also a good idea to chew an antacid tablet before you eat anything that is  prepared in a way you are not used to.

Consult with a doctor or health-care provider at a clinic before your trip. Provide them with your health information and immunization history. You should also let them know what area of the foreign country you will be visiting. This will help them know what types of vaccinations you will need for your trip. Take enough antibiotics and other prescription medications with you for the days that you will spend abroad.


clinic  a place, often in a hospital, where medical treatment is given to people who do not need to stay in the hospital

immunization   the act of making something protected from a sickness, usually by vaccination

vaccination  the taking of a vaccine to protect against a certain disease

antibiotics  a drug that is used to kill bacteria and cure infections

prescriptions  a piece of paper on which a doctor writes what medicine a sick person should have, so that they can get it from a pharmacy

intestines the long tube in your body through which food passes after it leaves your stomach

Scammer  a person who takes someone’s money by tricking them

Accuse  to say that you believe someone is guilty of a crime or of doing something bad

Counterfeit  made to look exactly like something else, in order to deceive people


Do you think you are usually prepared for the possibility of getting sick in a foreign country?

Do you normally bring extras of everything on your vacation just in case you run into trouble? (ex: flight cancelled for 3 days)  Would you be able to ration what you take with you on a trip if you had to stay in that country for an extra week?

What are some things that you always bring on a vacation no matter what?

travel tips

•Research the locations that you would like to visit. Know the weather conditions so you can be prepared.
•Have the business card of your hotel on hand so you will be able to get back no matter what happens.
•Keep your passport in the safe at your hotel but bring a copy of it with you in case you need to be identified.
•Know where the major hotels and banks are so you can exchange currency or get cash from your credit card.
•Be careful about what you eat and drink, don’t be surprised if you have an upset stomach. Always buy bottled water instead of drinking tap water.

warning 2

Counterfeit currency is a major problem in some countries. Smaller bills are much safer than large ones because they are not worth counterfeiting. Scammers will swiftly swap your real bill with a fake one when you’re not paying attention and then accuse you of giving out counterfeit currency so that you’ll have to give them another bill. To be on the safe side, always exchange money at your hotel or a bank and only carry small bills!
Have a short chain connected to your belongings to stop pick-pockets. They thrive in crowded areas so always hold your things in a way that they cannot be easily taken from you. Put your wallet in your chest pocket and wear your backpack and bag in the front.

Last word World-Travel-Packing-Tips

Do you know any type of self-defense that you can use to protect yourself with?

Do you rely on credit cards heavily when you go on vacation?

Do you think that you have a strong stomach that can digest anything?

Test yourself.  Multiple choice

The doctor gave me a week of _________ to fight off the bacteria.

1.  scammers    2.  clinics    3.  antibiotics    4.  ration

Those __________ bags cost half as much as the real ones.

1.  counterfeit    2.  diarrhea    3.  intestinal    4.  immunization

My __________ has run out.  I need to have the doctor write another one.

1.  antibiotic                                 2.  scammer

3.  immunization                           4.  prescription

There are three well-known _________ who hang around the train station looking for targets.

1.  accuse    2.  scammers    3.  vaccination    4.  clinic

I have some _____________ problems, so I am always careful with what I eat.

1.  intestinal    2.  counterfeit    3.  accuse    4.  ration

The end

If you enjoyed this lesson then you’ll love our online lessons. Held in real time, with mother tongue English teachers, 1-1 or in small groups using WizIQ interactive classrooms. Visit our website and sign up for a free demo lesson.

Register for a free demo

A siesta on the job?

sleeping on the job

My new series of postings are for both teachers and students to use in conversational classes.  You’ll find that all the themes are relevant, interesting, informative and most of all enjoyable.

Topic – Business

Level – intermediate

Lets Talk!

1)   Do you often feel tired and sleepy at work?  What do you think causes this? What do you do to perk yourself up?
2)   Does your company have strict rules about sleeping on the job?  What is your opinion on this?
3)   If you were a business owner, would you ever consider giving your employees time to take a nap? Why or why not?
 Infraction – (n) an act of breaking a rule or law

 Domino effect – (n) a chain reaction; a series of events quickly following each other, each of which causes the next one

Unsanctioned –  (adj) without permission

Siesta – (n) a midday or afternoon rest or nap, esp. as taken in Spain and Latin America

Reap – (v) to get something as a result of what you have done before

Sleeping on the job coffee break

When employees take a coffee break, most companies don’t really mind. However, if employees take a short sleep break, they’ll probably get terminated. Yes, sleeping on the job is usually a major infraction.

However, it has been discovered that napping actually boosts creativity and alertness, which has a remarkable domino effect on the things the person does after his/her nap. So, if employees were permitted to take a 20 – 30 minute nap in the afternoon, in theory, they could be more productive. Of course, nowadays there are very few companies that allow napping on the job.

How long is your lunch break? Do you take a nap during your lunch time? Why or why not?

Sleeping on the job

Still, according to reports, napping that is unsanctioned – or sleeping on the job – in fact costs businesses in the U.S. about $17 billion annually in lost production.

But then, studies also reveal that tired employees cost businesses up to $140 billion each year in lost production.

These findings now raise the question: When is an acceptable hour or place for an employee to get some sleep, and when is it unacceptable?

In many European countries, like Spain, and so too in several Latin American nations, an afternoon nap or siesta is actually considered normal. Local shops even close for an hour or two during the afternoon.

A nap recharges the mind and body as well as provides that extra push needed to make a day productive, which is both a benefit to the employee and the employer.

Still, only 1 percent of American companies allow napping at work. That’s indeed a shame knowing all the benefits an employee reaps after napping. Companies like Nova, Nike, and Gould Evans Goodman Associates permit in-the-office siestas and they are very smart to do so.

Questions coffee
1)How do you feel after taking a nap? What do you think about businesses in Latin America actually closing at midday to allow employees to take a siesta?
2) Think about the amount of the work that gets done in your office around midday.  Do you think that businesses in your country would benefit from closing at midday?
3) When is an acceptable hour or place for an employee to get some sleep and when is it unacceptable?
More Vocabulary
Pre-frontal cortex – (n) the front part of the brain’s frontal lobe

Wind down – (ph.v) to reduce gradually

Tabilize –  (v) to keep something at the same level

Grogginess – (n) the state of feeling weak or dizzy, especially because of illness or overindulgence (excess)

Turnover – (n) the rate at which people leave a company and are replaced

Absenteeism – (n) regular lack of attendance at work or some other place without good reasons

Stigma – (n) the shame or disgrace attached to something regarded as socially unacceptable

What’s a power nap? power nap

A “power nap” is simply a brief nap of 20 to 30 minutes during the middle of the day .  Usually at this time,  the brain’s prefrontal cortex experiences a winding down of activity. This short nap helps stabilize the brain’s activity because it provides relaxation and rest.

However, one must be careful not to exceed the 30 minute sleep or else one will enter a “deep sleep”. If you wake up in the middle of a deep sleep, you can experience inertia, the feeling of grogginess.

Recent studies suggest that power naps offer a lot of benefits like improved concentration, increased work productivity, better moods, and lowered stress.

According to The National Sleep Foundation, tired employees can be prone to:
• increased accidents and errors
• increased absenteeism
• increased  employee turnover

The obvious benefits of siestas can not be taken for granted.  It appears that many businesses could benefit from allowing nap breaks.

However, there is no need to form a rule that sets terms for napping in the office.  It’s just a matter of removing the stigma linked with power napping.

Agree or disagree question mark man

By allowing employees to take power naps, what companies lose in time, they can make up for in increased productivity.

The end.
If you enjoyed this lesson then you’ll love our online lessons. In real time, mother tongue English teachers, 1-1 or in small groups using WizIQ interactive classrooms. Visit our website and sign up for a free demo lesson.

Register for a free demo

Phrasal verbs-work work work

Many common English idioms, phrases, and proverbs include the word work. Read through some of my favorites and see if you can follow.BeforeWorkAfterWork

Work (one’s way) into something

Meaning # 1: To slowly get into a space that is small and tight.

The glue gradually worked its way into the crack in the table

Meaning # 2: To slowly get more deeply involved in something.

Soon, I’ll work my way into my confusing new position at my job. It’s a difficult job, but I’ll get it.

Work (one’s way) through something.the-graduate

Meaning # 1: To earn money to put yourself through some kind of advanced education.

Sue worked her way through law school as a bartender.

Meaning # 2: To figure out something complicated. Confused

I worked through the detailed application process slowly.

Meaning # 3: To struggle with some emotional or physical pain.

Andy had to work through his crippling depression after his wife died.

After I broke my ankle, I had to work through six months of grueling physical therapy.

All in a day’s work. Clock. 24/7 avaliable.

Meaning: This phrase is used when describing typical or normal tasks that are to be expected in a run-of-the-mill day.

When I became a mother I knew that doing laundry and washing dishes would be all in a day’s work.

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Bored-office-worker

Meaning: This proverb makes it clear that it is not healthy or wise for a person to work all the time and never take the time to relax.

Wayne shouldn’t work too many overtime hours. He should remember that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Go/ run like clockwork. run-like-clockwork

Meaning: To happen exactly as planned; to progress dependably and consistently.

The subway system in Seoul, South Korea runs like clockwork.

Many hands make light work.HANDS

Meaning: This proverb tells us that if everyone helps with a large task, the project will be completed quicker and it will be easier for everyone in the long run.

Let’s all help to clean up Marsha’s house after the big party – many hands make light work, after all!

Throw a monkey wrench into the works. monkey_wrench

Meaning: To cause a problem in a plan.

When my application for a mortgage got declined, that really threw a monkey wrench into the works of my house hunting plans.

The devil finds work for idle hands. devil

Meaning: Inactive or lazy people are more likely to do things they should not.

If you’re bored, you should find something constructive to do, because the devil finds work for idle hands.


Vocabulary Word


diligence persistent effort to complete a task.
gradually little by little; slowly
crippling causing injury; damaging
grueling exhausting; very tiring
dull uninteresting; causing boredom
wise wise decisions and actions are sensible and based on good judgment
dependable capable of being relied on
mortgage a loan of money to buy a home
idle not active; unemployed
constructive something that is useful
Note: I have adapted this  lesson from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

What a wonderful year. Thanks everybody for your help and support. And Happy 2013!

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 9,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 15 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Wish vs Hope

wish a merry xmasHello friends,
Many ESL students find it difficult to decipher the differences between hope and wish. Although these words are similar, they are used in slightly different situations. Misuse of these words can leave the student sounding awkward and unnatural.
Today’s 10 minute lesson will look at different situations in which hope and wish could be used. Our goal is for you to understand the differences and be able to use these words correctly in the future.


Wish is most commonly used in hypothetical (or imagined) situations: make a wish

I wish that I had a dog. (I don’t have a dog, but I would like to have one.)
I wish (that) you were here. (Unfortunately, you’re not, and I miss you.)
What do you wish you could change about the world?

Sometimes wish is used in greeting and expressions of goodwill:

We wish you a “Merry Christmas.”
They wished him “Happy Birthday.”
Wish me luck!

We can also use wish to express something that we would like to change or that we would like to see changed.geanie 2

I wish that you would clean your room more.
I wish that you would work less.
I wish that she were friendlier.


Hope can also be used in expressions of goodwill, but the grammar is slightly different:

I hope (that) you have a Merry Christmas. (future)
I hope (that) you had a nice Birthday. (past)

Can you use hope in a sentence to express goodwill?

Hope can be used to specify a desired outcome. For future hopes, the possibilities remain open, but for past hopes, the outcome has usually been determined already. hope

I hope you can come to the party on Saturday. (future possibility)
I was hoping that you would come to the party. (but you didn’t make it)
I had hoped to see you at the party on Saturday. (but I didn’t see you)
I hope to get an A on the exam. (it is still possible)
I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow. (although it might)
He hopes to be elected President. (it’s possible that he will be elected)
She hoped you wouldn’t find her. (but you did)

Wish and hope are also used in certain types of requests and pleasantries. In such situations, wish carries a more definite and formal tone.

Wish is used for things we want in the present moment. Hope is used for things we want in the future.

I wish to see the doctor. (Right now)
I hope to see you again. (In the future)
I wish to speak to your manager (Here wish acts like a command)
I hope to speak to your manager. (This implies that you would like to speak to the manager, but you understand that it might not be possible).

Hope and wish can be used in similar ways but the meanings are different. cat lion

I wish I were thinner. (This means that I am not thin now, but I want to be thin now.)
I hope to be thinner. (This means that I am not as thin as I want to be, but I want to be thinner in the future.)
Notice the grammar in these sentences:
I wish I were …..
I hope to be …..
She wishes she were….
She hopes to be….

Time to practice

Fix the mistakes below. Some sentences might not need to be corrected:

I wish I speak good English.
I hope I am a manager.
I wish I am richer.
I hope to be more successful someday.
I wish you have a happy birthday!

Fill in the blank with the correct form of hope or wish.

Mary _____ she had a better job.
Jim ____ to be a professional athlete someday.
I _____ I were a better English student.
They ____ her a Merry Christmas.
We _____ that we would see her at the party.
I _____ it could have been different between us
The dog ________ that someone could play with him all day.
Bill _____to make it to the party this weekend.
Send your answers to me.

Note: I have adapted this grammar lesson from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo

The future in the past

Hello friends, I thought we could start the week with a little grammar rule. Did you have to change your plans over the weekend? This is how you can express it.

Sentence construction using  “was/were going to”

I was going to eat out, but I didn’t have enough money….

There has been a change of plans….

Was there ever something you wanted to do very badly, but something else came up and prevented you from doing what you wanted to do?

What were you going to do at that time?

What changed your mind or stopped you from it?

We use “was/were going to” to describe events that were supposed to happen but didn’t.

ex.    I was going to graduate school last year, but I couldn’t leave my friends behind.

ex.    He was going to apply for this new job, but he realized that he didn’t have enough work experience for the position.

I was going to….but….

I had planned everything for last week.  I was going to go hiking on Monday, do house chores on Tuesday, have dinner with my friends on Wednesday, go fishing on Thursday, do my homework on Friday, wash my car on Saturday and sleep all day on Sunday.

However, none of these things happened because I was informed by my superior that I had to work for another week before taking my vacation.

Please complete the following….

Peter was going to find a job after graduating school….

Mary and Jack were going to get married this summer….
Josh was going to report his friend’s unlawful activity to the boss….

Of course, if you want to add more information to your statement, you can do that using other subordinating conjunctions.

ex.    I was going to go hiking yesterday but it didn’t happen because my mother was sick and I needed to take care of her.

ex.    Peter was going to go to Australia last Monday but all the flights on that day were cancelled because the weather conditions on that day were bad.

Please complete the following, and this time try to support the statement with reasons.

Eric was going to go to New York but….because….
Sam was going to throw a birthday party for his brother but….because….
Daniel was going to be promoted to manager last Tuesday but….because….
Leave your answer


1. A: Is John coming to our party?

B: He ______________________, but he _______________________ a babysitter for his children. (can’t find)

2. A: Are you cooking dinner tonight?

B: I ________________________ until the power ________________ out. (go)

3. A: Is your son going to university?

    B: He ______________________, but he ___________________ to take a year off and travel first. (decide)

4. A: Is the teacher going to stay after class?

B: He _______________________, but he ___________________ out he had a meeting to go to later. (find)

5. A: Are your friends going to sell their house?

B: They ______________________ until the real estate market ___________________. (crash)

6. A: Are you going to buy a new tablet?

B: Well, I ____________________________ buy a new iPad until I __________________ my job. (lose)

7. A: What are Scott and Victoria doing tonight?

B: They ____________________ see a film, but instead they _____________ reservations at a restaurant. (make)

8. A: Did the plumber come to fix the toilet today.

B: He _________________________ come this morning, but his truck _____________________ down. (break)

9. A: Did the children do their homework yet?

B: They ___________________________do it until Uncle Bob __________________ by for a surprise visit. (come)

10. A: Have I paid the credit card bill yet this month? I can’t remember.

B: No, you didn’t. You said you ______________________ wait until you _____________________. (get paid)

Note: I have adapted this grammar lesson from lesson plans I use with my students live online. Classes are 50 minutes long and can be done 1-1 or in small groups. For more information please visit my website www.monumentenglish.com

Register for a free demo