I've added the audio series "English at Work" (from BBC Learning English) to the Business English > "Business Audio" section of ESL Links.
It's a story of people working in an SME (small or medium-sized enterprise) and they talk about a lot of typical business problems and use typical business English vocabulary.
It deals with topics like getting customers, disagreements between coworkers, pleasing the boss, business ethics, competing for promotion, holding meetings, making phone calls, and idioms often used in business.
Each episode is quite short (usually just a couple of minutes). And you can download the MP3 files (so that you can listen to them on your phone or media player) and PDF files with the script of the episode, so that you can also read what they say.
I've also linked to the version for China, which gives extra commentary, vocabulary & explanation in Chinese.
I feel it's a great way to get some practice listening to business English in a way that's interesting and funny (because it's series of stories with actors, not just someone reading business news). It also provides some insight into British business culture.
Update 2017-08-18: Fixed and removed some links.
Update 2015-12-15: Fixed some vocab links. Replaced Netspeak links with Youdao because Netspeak is blocked in China (?!?).
Update 2013-09-02: Removed broken links to Bing dictionary, replaced with links to Cambridge, Oxford & Macmillan. Added links to The Phrase FInder and The Free Dictionary at bottom.
My latest class on Marketing and Advertising reminded me of an example of very creative advertising from China.
"Outside the box" means to think or do something that is very creative and even unexpected or surprising.
A box is a container. It contains, it restrains, it limits. Our own habits can also be a container, restraining and limiting our ideas. So when we think outside the box, we try to break out of the limitations of our habits and try something new, original and unusual.
In business, we are sometimes asked to think outside the box in order to find a solution to a difficult problem; the usual, normal ideas are not working and we need to come up with something new (and hopefully better).
The yoga club was having trouble getting the attention of potential clients, and this advertising idea was unusual... but it worked.
So this example of advertising that put a person inside a box is a great example of thinking outside the box.
Some people feel the phrase "thinking outside the box" is used too much: it has become a cliché, abused by business people in general and consultants in particular.
But if you work in the modern business world and use English, you absolutely must know what this idiom means.
G.A.L.E.S.L. / joe3
Some tips and links on learning English.