Saffle Says --- Lessons for English Learners

Here you can find out all the information you need about the Michael's ESL podcast and blog. Post questions and comments as you wish. I value listener and reader comments so don't be shy! The questions you ask me more than likely will be questions others want to know the answers to!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Bitter Pill to Swallow

Sometimes, you just have to accept something that is not good news (at least to you) and move on. For example, it's tax day and you have to pay Uncle Sam a good chunk on money, or you see on paper how much you gave him last year. On the one hand, you should be happy you make as much as you do to have such a large tax bill. On the other hand, you worked hard for that money, why should you have to give so much of it back? Either way, most people feel that taxes is a bitter pill to swallow. Something that wasn't enjoyable, but you had to do it, or accept it anyway.

Well, tomorrow is Monday and most of us have to get back to work. Another bitter pill to swallow, but at least it's better than paying your taxes!

- Michael 

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Creative Accounting

It's tax season here in the U.S. and folks everywhere are scrambling to get their returns completed on-time. The good news for the procrastinators (which is most of us!) is we get an extra couple of days this year. Normally, taxes have to be filed by April 15th and no later. But when the 15th falls on a Sunday, the Post Office is closed so they bump it to the following Monday. But this year the city of Washington D.C. is celebrating Emancipation Day, to celebrate the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln in 1862. That means the city is closed on that Monday so the deadline is on the 17th. Two more days to put it off!

Tax season is also a time when folks do a little creative accounting when it comes to their finances. Creative accounting is an idiom that comes from the business community. This term refers to the presentation of a company's financial health in a way that, although usually legal, ignores issues that might be negative, and instead makes the results appear better than they are. For example, when the results of SNAP are reported, it wouldn't mention the amount of users that would rather use Instagram, or how their product is very hard to use for normal users. Those are negatives that could dissuade investment. They will instead talk about what growth they have had, and maybe talk about their expectations for a better future. This could be seen as a form of creative accounting, a a way to make them look better.

When it comes to a person doing their taxes, you will sometimes here this expression when it comes to how they itemize their expenses. A deductible expense for business can cover a wide variety of costs. Some costs are obvious, a new work computer, a printer, advertising. Others are less obvious. A newspaper or magazine subscription can be a business expense. So when folks are listing out all of the tax deductible expenses, that results in a lower tax bill. Because of this financial incentive, some less honest people will do some "creative accounting" and make it seem more of their personal costs were work related. For example listing a vacation to the beach as a business expense, or that sports car as a company vehicle.

So, the next time you hear someone talk about creative accounting understand it's not generally seen as a positive. Especially if it's your account talking about your taxes!

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Sunday, April 08, 2018

This Week in Idioms - Let's Get This Show On The Road!

This Week In Idioms

Welcome to my new English For Foreign Learners blog! It's been a while, I dropped out to raise my wonderful (and crazy active) children, but things are starting to slow down a little, so I am back to my English tutoring and (as of today) blogging! Huzzah!

So we have a new website which I was happy to acquire and hope to get a regular schedule of free posts, mostly about idioms but maybe also other TEFL related topics.

Just to catch you up on who the heck I am, my name is Michael and I have been tutoring English since 1996. I work full-time at an international education office in Washington D.C. where I promote study abroad opportunities for both Americans and non-Americans alike.

I lived in Japan for two years as an Assistant Language Teacher (ALT) and have been tutoring Japanese business students online since 2004. My typical class has the student read from a business article online and we go over pronunciation and vocabulary. What I find students have the most trouble with, but also have the most fun with, are the idioms. So one of my classes I have is for business idioms alone. There are thousands of idioms that Americans use in everyday language that we take for granted. Working with international students, I know that this can be a challenge to understand their American business partners or customer/clients. That's why I tend to focus on this area of the English Language.

So, my hope is to blog about idioms at least once a week, post a podcast as well to help with pronunciation and to just help anyone who stumbles upon this website and would find this useful. I will have a link to my tutoring site once I get that up and running, and you can always at

So let's get this Show on the Road

  • To put a plan or an idea into action, or into motion. "We are ready to start the new blog, let's get the show on the road and publish our first post!"  

- Michael

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