I know that I haven’t put up a podcast in a while; I am working on something that I hope is really cool.

In the meantime, here is an interesting podcast for intermediate speakers and higher.

I particularly recommend it for TOEFL or IELTS students but anybody who likes philosophy or thoughts about life should find it interesting.

Philosophy Bites – website.

How to Test Your Progress

There are so many different standardised tests available to test your English skills: the Cambridge certificates, TOEIC, TOEFL, IELTS, BULATS and, here in Japan, the Eiken/STEP test.

For a lot of people, these tests are pointless. If you need the certificate to get a job or a college place, go for it. If not, read on.

Continue reading

Podcast: New Year Special

New Year's Resolutions

Here is a podcast special. The podcast will be back, probably in January and will be weekly again.

Today’s podcast is about New Year.

New Year Special

The podcast is also available in the iTunes Store by searching for Get Great English or clicking here.

Also, you can stream it on Stitcher here or in the sidebar.

For Here Or To Go?


A few of my students have part-time jobs in cafés and restaurants. This post is for them and anyone else who needs to use English in restaurants.

‘May’ or ‘can’?

Generally, when you are taking orders for people, use ‘may’; it’s more formal and customers should be respected. ‘Can’ is more informal and it’s not really a problem if you use ‘can’ instead of ‘may’ but ‘may’ is more appropriate.

How to ask about takeaway service

One of my students has asked:

Which is better, “For here or to go?” or “Is this to eat in or take away?”

The answer is both are fine. The first one is more informal, the second slightly more formal.


Here in Japan, at a lot of restaurants, it is common to take the bill/check to the cashier. At other places it is common to pay at the table.

Other little things

Japanese people can be very particular about how food ought to be served. The photograph at the top is from my class blackboard.

When the sand (in the timer) has all reached the bottom, (your tea) is ready to drink.

Not all of your food will be ready at the same time. We will bring each dish as soon as it is ready.

You might find these posts particularly useful.

Video: Describing Food

Food Descriptions are Better than Dish Names