Category Archives for "Business English"

Feb 03

011 The Difference Between Make & Do

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Podcast , Vocabulary & Expressions


Hey everyone, thanks for joining me again. Now, I often get asked what is the difference between do and make, two verbs that are commonly confused.

Just last week one of my friends asked me to explain the difference to him and I thought the best way to help would be to prepare an episode on the difference between the two. So, here you have it, welcome to today’s podcast on the difference between Do & Make.

By the end of this episode you will understand the following:

  1. The difference between Make & Do
  2. Make & Do as collocations
  3. Make & Do in business expressions

How they are confused

Firstly the confusion lies in the fact that there is no distinction between Do and Make in Spanish, the verb is the same hacer.

It is important for language learners to understand where the problems arise. The main issue with Do and Make is the collocation of these verbs with nouns. For example, in Spanish, Tengo que hacer los deberes or Hacer una foto, both use the verb hacer. However, what I commonly see is the incorrect application of Make or Do.

These phrases are often translated to the following:

  1. I have to make the homework
  2. Do/make a photo

The above forms or collocations are incorrect. It is true that a native speaker will understand you, however it sounds very wrong.

Remember, collocations are words that naturally go together in English. Some collocations are very strong, meaning only one form is accepted. Others are weaker, where two or three forms are accepted.

If you want to review collocations then take a look at our previous episode on collocations here.

The correct form of the above phrases are:

  1. I have to do my homework
  2. Take a photo

We can clearly see two things. Firstly, “do” collocates with homework and secondly, take collocates with photo, not “do”, nor “make”.

The difference between the two

Let’s take a look at the basic difference between Make and Do.


In English, we use Make as a verb that is related to construction, fabrication, planning or production. So, when we use it, we need to try and remember it in this context. For example, “Make arrangements”. To make arrangements means to make plans or to organise something.


Regarding Do, basically, Do is used when talking about performing actions. For example, above we mentioned “Do your homework”. As you can see, this is a task that is being performed.


Even though this is a very basic difference between the two, unfortunately many mistakes arise because both Make and Do are used in a wide variety of fixed expressions or collocations. This means that as a learner you need to memorise them.

How to study them

What does this mean for my English? Well, it is really quite simple, you need to learn which words commonly collocate with Make and Do and start to practice them.

How can I learn these collocations? Well, again that is easy. As I have said on many occasions, the first thing to do is read, read, read! The second thing is to start studying Make and Do collocation lists. Let’s take a look at some now.

As I have mentioned in many previous episodes, the best way to learn them is in small groups. You can download a list of common collocations with Make and Do below. In the “cheat sheet”, I have also included a study guide.

From the study guide, you can see that as a strategy, we write down 5 collocations with Make and Do that we wish to memorise and implement in our business English every week. We can start to include them in our emails, conversations or presentations. Once we are comfortable using these 5 collocations then we select a further 5 and so on.

Business collocation with Make and Do

Business Collocations with MakeExampleTranslation
make arrangements forThe business can make arrangements for employees to work from home.Arreglar
make a change / changesThe new manager is planning to make some changes.Corregir/hacer cambios
make a choiceJill had to make a choice between her career and her family.Escoger
make a comment / commentsWould anyone like to make any comments on the talk?Hacer un comentario
make a contribution toShe made a useful contribution to the discussion.Aportar
make a decisionI’m glad it’s you who has to make the decision, not me.Tomar una decisión
make an effortJoe is really making an effort to impress his boss.Esforzarse
make an excuseStop making excuses and finish the report.Disculpar
make friendsKaren is very good at making friends when she attends trade fairs.Hacerse amigos
make an improvementModifying the marketing strategy has really made an improvement to customer engagement.Mejorar
make a mistakeThey’ve made a mistake in our bill.Cometer un error
make a phone callI’ve got to make some phone calls before I leave the office.Hacer una llamada
make progressWe are making progress towards meeting our sales targets.Avanzar
make a complaintThe customers made a complaint about the quality of the service.Quejarse
make a fortuneJohn made a fortune on Bitcoin trading.Ganar una fortuna
make ends meetMary can barely make ends meet on her salary.Llegar al fin de mes
make the most ofWe need to make the most of this gap in the market.Aprovechar
make a pointI would just like to make the point that this has already been agreed.Decir algo importante



Business Collocations with DoExampleTranslation
do your bestAll that matters in the meeting is that you do your best.Hacer lo mejor que uno pueda
do damageThe product recall did some damage to our reputation.Dañar
do an experimentWe are doing an A/B experiment to test how customers react to the different offers.Experimentar
a job well doneOur boss values a job well done over speed.Un trabajo bien hecho
do someone a favourCan you do me a favour? I need your advice on this matter.Hacer un favor
do harmChanging the rules may do more harm than good.Hacer daño
do one’s dutyAll employees are required to do their duty for the sake of the company.Cumplir con su obligación
do one’s partWe ask that during the crisis, everyone does their part to increase sales.Cumplir con su parte
do researchThe company needs to do some market research before launching the new product.Investigar
do some workWe’ll do some work on our project and then we’ll go to the cinema.Trabajar
do good/badI am of the opinion that this will do more bad than good.Conseguir más mal que bien.

Final thoughts

So, in conclusion we can see that Make and Do are very commonly used in English. Furthermore, it is easy to start to learn the differences between the two. We only need to understand the basic difference, between producing and planning or carrying out a task. Finally, we can start to study Make and Do as collocations and fixed expressions. Once we know the translation and their use in context we can start to implement them into our daily Business English use.


As always, please like, share and comment on this episode. If you have any additional questions regarding the differences between Make and Do then please contact us on our Facebook page at You can also do some exercises to practice over at .


Till next time, take care and enjoy improving your business English.

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Jan 26

010 Collocations for plans and decision making

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Podcast , Vocabulary & Expressions

Hi, and welcome back to the Art of Business English. In today’s episode we are going to take a quick look at some collocations to use when making plans or taking decisions. Both, very important aspects of business. Remember, collocations are very common in English, they help you sound more native and you need to understand them in context, especially when a speaker uses them. Therefore, the advantages to knowing them are that, even if you do not use them yourself, at least you will understand when one is spoken to you.

At the end of this episode you will be able to use a number of collocations for the following situations:

  1. Making decisions & offering solutions
  2. Making plans
  3. Rejecting plans

Before we start looking at the collocations, I will just give you a quick explanation of what a collocation is. The Oxford dictionary defines a collocation as;

“The habitual juxtaposition of a particular word with another word or words with a frequency greater than chance.”

Unfortunately, most non-native speakers of English will not understand this definition. An easier definition is the following;

“A collocation is a combination of two or more words that are commonly used together, in a way that sounds natural to native English speakers.”

So, why are they important in English. Well, if you want to sound more like a native speaker you need to use the correct words together. Hence, instead of “take a coffee” we say, “have a coffee”.

Now that we know what collocations are and why they are important, let’s dive in and take a look at decisions and solutions.

  Decisions & solutions

  • To be toying with an idea – This means to be considering something but not in a focused way. I am toying with the idea of changing jobs, but I am not sure if it is the right decision.
  • To unveil a plan – to show or make known for the first time. The company unveiled its plan to investors before going public.
  • To drum up support – To increase support for something. We need to drum up some support for this proposal or it will never get accepted.
  • Acting on a suggestion – To do something as a result of a suggestion. The boss acted on a suggestion from his sales manager to offer a discount.
  • To clear up – To resolve. We had to clear up the misunderstanding before we could close the deal.
  • To stick to the schedule – Keep to a plan. The company promised to stick to the building schedule and ensured the project would be finished on time.
  • Cover every eventuality – To consider all possible situations and difficulties. We need to cover every eventuality before we can give the OK.
  • Give rise to – Cause to happen or occur. This decision could give rise to some negative consequences.
  • To put off – To avoid doing something or postponing. We decided to put off the planning until we had adequate funding.

There are many more collocations associated with decision making, and I encourage you to look some up if you are interested in learning more.

Now we will look at some collocations for making plans.

Making plans

  • To come up with an idea – To think of an idea, generally after a brainstorming session. We came up with some great ideas for the annual Christmas party, at Monday’s meeting.
  • To be underway – In the process or being done or carried out. Preparations are underway, and we expect to be able to start stage one of the project soon.
  • The necessary groundwork – preliminary or basic work. The team has put in the necessary ground work and we feel confident we have a well-organised project.

Again, these are a few collocations for making plans and there are many more. However, now I will move on to the last part of the episode and take a look at rejecting plans.

 Rejecting plans

  • To declare outright opposition – To be completely against something. The CEO declared his outright opposition to the merger plan.
  • To offer constructive criticism – Useful disapproval. Even though she didn’t like the plan, she did offer some constructive criticism.
  • To unanimously vote down – All members vote against. The board of directors unanimously voted down the budget proposal.
  • To turn down – To reject or refuse. We thought we had a great plan, however management turned it down.

 Final thoughts

There you have a short list of some interesting collocations for different stages of planning and decision making. My advice to you is to study this list and then make a commitment to use some of the expressions in your next meeting, email or conference call.

The secret to learning collocations is to understand them in context and then start applying them to situations in your daily business life. I would recommend starting with 2 or 3 collocations from the list and then once you feel comfortable using them, grab another 2 or 3 and incorporate them as well.

That is all we have time for today, but as always, please feel free to leave a comment or share this with some friends. If you do have any questions, then don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach us a or on our Facebook page,

Until next time, take care and enjoy improving your business English.

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5 Top Tips to study independently
Jan 18

009 5 Top Tips to study independently your business English

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Podcast


Hello again and welcome back to the Art of Business English. Well, it is that time of year again when we start a new year full of promise and new year’s resolutions. As a result, today I want to share with you some tips on how to realistically improve your business English and stay motivated.

 As with many things, people often start out with very idealistic expectations and are highly motivated, however, within a short period of time they have found themselves demotivated and start with the excuse making stage. Once the excuses start being created it is easy to give up and stop trying to achieve the thing you have set out to do.

 So, how can we overcome this? Well, I am going to take a little different approach than most English trainer. At the end of today’s episode, you will be able to do the following:

 Set the right vision for your language learning

  1. Understand goal setting and how to reach objectives
  2. Develop a study plan
  3. Appreciate the power of reading
  4. Understand and use translation methodology


So, let’s take a look at these 5 top tips.


In order to really stay motivated with your English you need to have the right vision. This means many things in one word. The reason that I have put “independently” in the title of this article, is that you as a learner need to have the vision and motivation to study independently. It is not enough to go to class once a week and then do very little or nothing for the next 6 days.

 Vision is having the correct attitude and perspective. If you don not really understand your reasons for learning a language, then it is hard to stay on point (stay focused).

 Developing your vision is very simple, as with most things. Firstly, you will need a pen and paper, or you can download my free cheat sheet. Once we have this ready we need to simply brainstorm and list out our reasons for wanting to learn or improve our business English. The key is to do it from a problem to solution perspective. This way we can start to set objectives and measure if we have achieved our goals. Reaching your goals will keep you motivated.

Goal setting

 Understanding the power of goal setting is critical to learning or improving new skills. My first piece of advice is related to personal development and not necessarily Business English. Setting goals and being motivated is the only way to improve your life. We can only improve our situation one of 2 ways. One, by learning new skills and two by meeting new people. So, learning a new language is a new skill that can improve your life.

 My first piece of advice is to set the goal of waking up 30 minutes before your usual wake up time. How does this relate to my English? Well, it is simple, in 30 minutes you can achieve a lot in the morning. All the most successful entrepreneurs have a morning routine. For example, my routine is the following:

 Wake up at 7am, mediate for 5 minutes

  • Stretching and yoga for 10 minutes
  • Crunches and push-ups, 5 minutes
  • Reading 3 or 4 pages of my book, 5 – 7 minutes
  • Thinking about the top 3 things to achieve that day and writing them in my diary, 3 minutes

 See how many things I have achieved in 30 minutes? Well, it is that simple. As a learner of English, you can use 10 minutes of your morning routine to read in English, do some simple grammar exercises, learn some new vocabulary in context or listen to the news. If you multiply this by a month and then 6 months and then a year, you will suddenly see how powerful just spending 30 minutes every morning can be. Apart from that you feel GREAT! You start your day energised and super motivated.

 So, as I mentioned earlier, at the Art of Business English we believe in a holistic approach to learning English. You cannot improve your English if you don’t set achievable goals. Achievable is the key word. You must be realistic about how much you can learn in a specific period of time. It is much better to set SMALL short-term goals and continually reach them than big goals that are hard to measure and time consuming to achieve.

 For example, my goal this week is to read 1 small new paper article a day in Spanish, and then read the same article in English (Most major news outlets carry the same news all over the world, so it is easy to read the top news in both Spanish & English).

 You can see from this example that the goal is short, 1 week and measurable.

Study plan

 If we go back to the cheat sheet, which you downloaded earlier, you will see that there is a study plan. It is super simple. You fill out the boxes and outline a study plan for 1 month. You use this plan every morning for your 5 – 10 minutes of English.

 In the second part of the guide, there are some links to resources that will help you find material, or you can request material from AOBE, we are more than happy to develop material for your needs.

Remember, the secret to your study plan is setting daily tasks, that build up to the completion of your learning objective. The learning objective must be measurable.


 Reading is very powerful and underutilized. Everyone wants to talk, however, if you are studying independently, then reading is your best friend. The beauty of reading is that you can do it for pleasure. I recommend finding a magazine you like, for example, Time, photography, interior design, whatever you’re interested in and order a yearly subscription. Reading magazines is great because the articles are short, there is lots of vocabulary and the topic is something that you’re interested in.

 The benefits to reading are massive. You can do it any time, independently, you can learn vocabulary in context and write it down on your vocabulary list, you are subject to vocabulary you don’t hear everyday and you are indirectly learning grammar structures and word order.


 I am a great believer in the translation methodology and I use it with my students frequently. It is very useful for people who have a lower level and can help them advance much faster than if working with a teacher who only speaks English.

The secret to the translation methodology is finding a native English teacher who all speaks Spanish fluently. They can then show you the differences and similarities between English and Spanish structure.

For example, you may translate a sentence literally and to a native speaker this will sound strange. However, your native English teacher can show you the correct way we would say this sentence in English. Hence, the grammar rules can be taught through translation making it easier for the learner to understand and advance through the material.

Once, a learner reaches a good level of English, then less focus can be placed on translations and more on 100% English based training.

The only downside to this top tip, is that it is more difficult to study independently as you need to good trainer or take an on-line course that uses this methodology.


Well, there you have it, 5 top tips for help you to study independently and stay motivated to reach your learning objectives in 2018.

As always, if you have any questions then do not hesitate to get in touch with us via Facebook or email.

If you’re interested in taking some business English courses, we are always working on new material and are happy to provide all our listeners and readers with a free coaching session.

Take care till next time.

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Joan Serra
Dec 03

005 How to work abroad and deal with different cultures with Joan Serra

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Interview , Podcast

​Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be a high powered chief financial officer in an international company, working overseas? What would be the challenges? What would the experience be like living and working abroad?

If you have ever wanted to work abroad, of if you have ever wondered how to deal with different cultures then don’t miss today’s episode.

In today’s episode Joan Serra will be sharing his experience while working in China and the US, as the CFO of a Spanish multinational. He will give us insight into how to deal with different cultures. How to adapt to living in a new country and city. How to deal with the language and cultural barriers.

If you want to get inspired to live and work abroad then you won’t want to miss this episode. It is full of advice and you will learn first-hand from both Joan and Andrew as they share their experiences living and working abroad.

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Nov 20

004 Idioms for negotiating with Andrew Ambrosius

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Idioms , Interview

Hi there, welcome back to The Art of Business English. Today we are going to look at idioms for negotiating. Negotiating is not something new, in fact most of us have to negotiate every single day of our working life. Furthermore, many negotiations take place in the home, between wife and husband, kids and parents.

As you can imagine, English has a wide range of idiomatic expressions for negotiating. Sometimes these expressions can be a little confusing for a non-native speaker.

Today at AOBE we are going to start by looking at some of the most common expression for negotiating in business.

At the end of the today’s lesson you will be able to do the following:

  • learn common idioms for negotiating
  • understand their meaning
  • understand in what context they are used and at what part of the negotiating phase

So, let’s get started with a look at some common idioms.

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Nov 12

How to become a professional footballer

By Castells Immerscom | Business English , Interview

​​Today AOBE launches its first podcast interview and we are very excited to welcome a good friend of mine Pep Setvalls, ex-professional football player to share his wisdom on the world of football and to give listeners an insight into the world of professional football.

If you are a parent with a potential football star in the making, then you won’t want to miss this insightful episode in the AOBE podcast interview series.

Pep will explain his beginnings in a small town just outside of Barcelona and how he progressed to play in the first and second division for teams such as Barcelona and Levante.

He also offers insight into life after injury, what it takes to make it to the first division as well as his post professional life as a footballer scout and agent for some of the biggest names in football.

So, if you are mad about football and want to improve your English at the same time as getting interesting insight into this world then don’t miss this episode.

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