3 Secrets to a successful summer internship

summer internship

Finding an internship can be hard. But getting the internship is only the first step. After your internship starts, it is up to you to make the most of it.  Even if you work for free, your internship could be worth a fortune. You will gain valuable job experience and make connections with people who can help you develop your career.  

The team at ELSA have worked in many internships, at both large companies like Microsoft and Google, and at unpaid internships.  Check out ELSA’s latest module content under Topic > Education > Consonant Cluster to find out what these top 8 tips are, and the four most common mistakes in your internship you should avoid.

Let’s take a sneak peek of some important lessons we have learned on how to succeed at an internship.

  • Meet and greet your coworkers

Internships are an excellent opportunity to meet people at the company.  Many of the people you meet at your internship will move onto other jobs, but if you stay in touch with them, you can help each other in your careers for years to come.  Invite your coworkers and other interns to eat lunch together.  Try to attend every company event that you get invited to. If there are other interns at the company, you can start a Facebook group for all the interns.  Finally, be sure to add your contacts into Linkedin so you can keep in touch.

One year, I interned at Microsoft in the United States. In that summer, thousands of interns from hundreds of universities around the world worked at Microsoft. I stayed in touch with several interns who I met that summer. Even though we worked together for only one summer, we remained good friends. Ten years later, we still referred job opportunities to each other and periodically share career advice with each other.

  • Ask your supervisor for feedback

Your supervisor can give you guidance that will help you succeed at your job and also in your long-term career. To make the most of your relationship with your supervisor, be sure to establish up front what they expect you to deliver. List out the top tasks that they’d like you do accomplish. Prioritize those tasks in order of importance, so you know what to focus on.  Then you should check in with your supervisor periodically to get their feedback on how you’re doing. You can simply ask: “Can I have your feedback on how I’m doing?” or “Is there anything I can do to improve?” and then listen to what they have to say.

The Microsoft summer internship program requires interns to meet with their supervisor once a week for feedback. Even if a supervisor has been working closely with their intern all week, they would still schedule time each week to give feedback to their intern.


  • Set personal goals


Spend some time thinking about how you want your internship to help your career. Do you want to keep working at the company after school begins? Would you like to come back again next summer? Do you want your boss to write a LinkedIn recommendation for you? Are you just exploring whether or not you like a particular role or industry?  Once you’ve established what your goal is, it will be much easier to find ways to reach those goals. Consider telling your supervisor and coworkers about your goals so they can help you reach them.

More more tips about internships, check out the ELSA app. From your ELSA App, go to the topic: Education. You’ll find 8 tips and 4 mistakes you should avoid, to make your internship a success!

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[New feature] Refer a friend. Earn free ELSA


Want to earn free days of ELSA PRO?

ELSA has a new feature where you can now earn 7 free days of Pro for each Facebook friend you invite to ELSA! To invite your friends, just go to Profile and press “INVITE FRIENDS.”  7 days will automatically be added to your account when your friends sign up. This feature is currently available on Android only. Coming later on iOS.


[New Feature] Learn English with videos on ELSA


What could be more fun than learning to speak English on ELSA? Today, we’re announcing a new way to learn English – by watching videos! You can now watch videos of real American pronouncing the words that you are learning. Many of these videos let you see the speakers’ mouths, so that way you can learn how their mouth move.

Reduce your English accent by watching videos on ELSA
To get started, just go to the Dictionary, type in any word or phase. ELSA will search for YouTube videos with people speaking the words you entered. If ELSA finds a video, then a video button will appear on the bottom right of the screen. Press the video button and begin watching the videos!

In the spirit of videos, here is a 2-minute video tutorial on how to use this feature on ELSA:

Link to video: https://youtu.be/kpz68GtzsKc

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Five common American job interview questions for customer service jobs

You are looking for a job in customer service. You are a little nervous because the interview will be in English, but deep down you know you’ll be successful if you got the job. Now you just need to ace your interview!  To pass the interview, here are the most common customer service interview questions you’ll need to prepare for. You can practice answers to these on ELSA, in under the Customer Service topic.

  • Why do you want to work in customer service?

A job in customer service centers around listening to your customers and solving their needs.  A good answer will mention your interest in customer needs. For example: I enjoy working with people and addressing their problems.

Why do you want to leave your current job?

Do be tactful with this answer and avoid speaking about your frustrations with your current role or boss. A good answer will focus on the positive: My current boss wants to keep me at the company. She also knows I have outgrown my position.  I am applying for this role because I would like to develop a new skillset. My current boss would be happy to be my reference.

  • What are your strengths?

Your answer should map to strengths that are useful in customer service. For instance: My strongest strength is my problem-solving skill.  I am good at finding solutions to customer complaints.

  • How do you deal with a difficult customer?

A job in customer service requires you to be adept at handling difficult customers. A good answer to this question shows how you can make the customer feel understood. For example, I listen patiently and remain calm under pressure.

  • Do you have any questions for me?

Show your interviewer how you are interested in working at the company for the long term. You can ask about the future prospects of your role and your company. For example: “Can you tell me about my career paths here?”

If you have more tips about interviewing for customer service jobs, please add a comment below!

Top 10 skills for customer service jobs (part 2)

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Thank you, everyone, who read Part 1 of 2 of this post and for all your great comments. I received so many user comments about learning customer service skills that I am writing a second blog post. Without further ado, here are 5 additional skills that are essential for a successful career in customer service. As you read each skill, ask yourself if you have mastered each one. If you are applying for a job in customer service, you’ll need to talk about how you have these skills so you can ace the interview. If you already work in customer service, you’ll need to develop these skills in yourself so you can succeed at work.

Patience [ˈpeɪʃəns]

People who work in customer service must be able to remain calm during stressful situations. When your customers are frustrated or are asking for something that you simply can’t deliver for them, you must have the patience to not become upset yourself. Remember not to take anything that your customer say personally, because their frustration and anger is not personal. They are feeling upset about their situation but that is not a reflection on how you’re doing at your job.

Problem-solving [ˈprɑbləm ˈsɑlvɪŋ]

For those who work in customer service, one’s problem-solving skill can often be the deciding factor between successful and unsuccessful employees. You are continuously challenged by customers who present their problems to you, and your job is to help them find solutions. The best way to be good at problem-solving is to practice solving lots of problems. If you’re new on the job, shadow your coworkers to learn how they solve the problems.

Positivity [ˌpɒz ɪˈtɪv ɪ ti]

Your positive attitude will not only help you succeed with your customers, but will also help strengthen your relationship with your coworkers.  A Stanford University study on “positive intelligence” showed that your positivity predicts how successful you will be in your career. Being positive can help those around you feel more positive.   Furthermore, when you feel positive, you’ll naturally notice more of the benefits of your company’s product and service, and you can, in turn, convey that to your customers.  

Conflict Resolution [ˈkɑnflɪkt ˌrɛzəˈluʃən]

In a customer service job, your job is to essentially solve your customer’s problems.  But there are times when you can’t find a solution to their problem. What do you do then? This is where your conflict resolution skills will be useful. You may need to soothe your customer by giving them a discount, pointing them to another place where they can get more help, calling in your manager. Whatever the resolution, remember to stay calm and think positively!

Persuasion [pərˈsweɪʒən]

Last but not least, a large part of your job is to turn frustrated customers into happy customers.To do so, you’ll often need to convince your customers of something you recommend. This is where your persuasion skills come in. To be persuasive, you must be able to speak from your customers point of view. The famous American businessperson, Dale Carnegie, recommends that you end your sentence by describing the benefit to your customer. When you are recommending a solution, tell the customer what’s in it for them. You can say to them “And the benefit to you is …”

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Immigrants are having affairs with ELSA

Last night on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Salma Hayek shared her suspicion that her husband was having an affair with his pronunciation coach.

It turned out that those flirtatious text messages on her husband’s phone were coming from an app named ELSA.   Hayek’s French husband, François-Henri Pinault, France’s third richest man, just wanted to learn how to enunciate his vowels better. Phew!

But why would a billionaire want to change his accent?

“Because English is like Switzerland.”

Hayek says in her Spanish accent.

Hayek is originally from Mexico. At home, English is the neutral territory where her and her husband can communicate on.  Hayek and her husband’s accents, although very sexy, pose barriers to them understanding each other and connecting with their daughter, who speaks with no accent.

“It’s a disaster at home.”

Salma Hayek confesses.

If you, like Salma Hayek and her husband, have an accent, you’re not alone. There are 1.5 billion people like you around the world who are trying to to reduce their accents.

Aside from the lack of comprehension created by thick accents, immigrants face more severe implications.  When accents get in the way of communication, it can be an impediment at school, at work, and in social situations.  

When Vu Van, the founder of ELSA, first immigrated to America from Vietnam, she was rejected from a consulting job interview  because she mispronounced spreadsheet as “spread shit.”

Traditionally, immigrants have turned to speech lessons offered by private tutors and group classes. But as one ELSA user explains:

“Getting a tutor is beyond my budget. And with group classes, I can’t get the personal attention that I need.”  

Immigrants often find themselves stuck with their heavy accents, with no good way to improve.

Now for the first time, immigrants like Pinault are turning to ELSA.  One ELSA user, Hiroshi, a 30 year old engineer from Japan, feels that ELSA is critical to his future. “To tell you the truth, ELSA has made me comfortable with staying in America.” he reflects.

“If it wasn’t for ELSA, I would have moved back to my home country.”

Pinaut, Hiroshi, and many more immigrants are continuing their affairs with ELSA.

Top 10 skills for customer service jobs (part 1 of 2)


Are you looking for a job in customer service? Do you have the skills that companies are looking for? Customer service jobs require employees to have a number of soft skills, and here are the top 10 soft skills that will benefit you on the job. Whether you are working with customers on the phone or in person, the following skills are important for you to master if you want to be successful in customer service.

You can learn how to speak these words on ELSA, under the Customer Service topic.

  1. Communication [kəmˌjunəˈkeɪʃən]

Being a clear communicator is key to customer service, because you need to be able to understand what the customer needs, and then articulate to your customers what your company can offer them in terms of your products and services.  Your communication skills, of course, depends on your ability to pronounce words clearly. Other than your pronunciation, however, you should also speak loudly and use a cheerful voice, as those will all help you leave a good impression to your customers.

  1. Attention to detail [əˈtɛnʃən tu dɪˈteɪl]


Being great at customer service requires you to pay attention to the details of your company’s products and services. Your customers will often ask you a very detailed question about your product and service, and you need to be well informed enough to answer their questions correctly. This requires that you understand the ins and outs of your business, so you can be the most helpful to your customer. If you tend to forget the details, I recommend that you keep a notebook where you record commonly requested numbers and details, so you can quickly reference back to the notebook if you need it.

  1. Listening [ˈlɪsənɪŋ]

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Listen carefully to your customer to know exactly what they need and how you can help them. If you are speaking to your customer over the phone, you should demonstrate active listening by saying “yes,” “I understand” and “that makes sense” to your customer.  If you’re speaking to your customer in person, you can also show active listening through body language, such as nodding and making eye contact.

  1. Confidence [ˈkɑnfədəns]

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When working with customers, you want to have confidence so you can feel in control of the situation. If you are unsure of yourself and your own abilities, the customer can often sense this and distrust what you are saying. To show your confidence, speak in a steady voice, don’t speak too quickly, and ask direct questions to your customers. Harvard University researchers found that your posture makes a big difference in how confident you feel.  If you want to feel more confident, stretch with your hands reaching up toward the sky.

  1. Responsibility [riˌspɑnsəˈbɪləti]

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A big part of working with customers is to be able to take responsibility by saying “I’m sorry,” whether it is a bug in the software, a late shipment, or a poor quality product. The problem is often not your fault, but you need to be able to sincerely apologize on behalf of your company. The customer is often upset or frustrated, but when they hear your genuine apology they will almost always feel better.
Practice speaking these words on ELSA as well as over 100 common phrases about customer service. Impress your interviewer with a perfect American English accent :).

Stay tuned for PART 2 – the next 5 important skills

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How do Americans Celebrate Easter – Your Easter Vocabulary Feast!

Easter is upon us! This weekend will be Easter weekend for all Christians around the globe. Let’s celebrate Easter with ELSA by learning a bit more about this special holiday and how Americans celebrate Easter.

What is Easter?

Easter is a holiday celebrating the end of Lent and the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. Holy Week starts off with Palm Sunday the following Good Thursday the day of the Last Supper, Good Friday the day of Jesus crucifixion and Sunday the day Jesus rose which is now the celebration of Easter.

Is Easter a religious holiday?

Yes, but Easter is also a very popular cultural holiday in the United States.

Do all countries celebrate Easter in the same way?

No, around the world, different countries, cultures, and communities have different traditions to celebrate the Easter holiday.

So, how do Americans celebrate Easter?

Easter bunny! You can’t talk about Easter in America without talking about the Easter Bunny. The idea of the Easter Bunny originated in Germany. Rabbits are symbols of fertility and spring. The tradition of Easter Bunny is that the night before Easter, children would their build nests out of sticks and leaves (Easter basket) and leave those outside. Easter Bunny can then put eggs in (or chocolate eggs, or just candy) for the children to find the next morning

Every year, Easter is also celebrated by the President of the United States at the White House. It’s usually called “White House Easter Egg roll” – a visit by the Easter bunny, an egg roll, an Easter Egg Hunt, lots of fun and candy! Check out this video to see how Easter was celebrated at the White House in 2015

What are some of the fun facts of Easter in America? Hint: you can practice speaking these sentences on ELSA’s dictionary feature!!! :)

  • Easter is the 2nd largest candy-consuming holiday, after Halloween
  • More than 120 million pounds of candy are purchased for Easter every year. That’s enough to max out 4,615 dump trucks!!!
  • Every day 5 million marshmallow chicks and bunnies are made to prepare for Easter
  • 90 million Chocolate Easter Bunnies are made for Easter
  • Do you know when people eat Chocolate Easter Bunnies, what do they most often eat first? The EARS!!!!
  • 16 billion jelly beans are made for Easter. That’s enough to circle the globe three times!!!

Your Easter Vocabulary Feast!

Lent [lɛnt]

The 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter observed by the Roman Catholic, Eastern, and some Protestant churches as a period of penitence and fasting

Resurrection [ˌrɛzəˈrɛkʃən]

The rising of Christ from the dead

Crucifixion [ˌkrusɪˈfɪkʃən]

The crucifying of Christ. If a person is crucified (“to crucify” is the verb), then he or she is hung on a cross and left to die a very slow, painful death

Holy Week [ˈhoʊli wik]

The week before Easter during which the last days of Christ’s life are commemorated

Palm Sunday [pɑm ˈsʌnˌdeɪ]

The Sunday before Easter celebrated in commemoration of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem


Good Friday [ [gʊd ˈfraɪdi]

The Friday before Easter observed in churches as the anniversary of the crucifixion of Christ and in some states of the U.S. as a legal holiday


The Last Supper [ðə læst ˈsʌpər ]

The supper eaten by Jesus and his disciples on the night of his betrayal

Easter Bunny [ˈistər ˈbʌni]

The tradition of easter bunny that bring children Easter egg, or candy, or chocolate bunnies


Easter Basket [ˈistər ˈbæskət]

A basket of candy, toys, etc., that is given to children at Easter

Easter Egg Roll [ˈistər ɛg roʊl]

A traditional game played with eggs at Easter


Chocolate bunny [ˈʧɔklət ˈbʌni]

A piece of chocolate in the shape of a rabbit, usually stylized, and generally hollow.

Jellybean [ˈʤɛli bin]

A bean-shaped candy with a jellylike center and a firm sugar coating


Happy Easter,

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How to make ELSA users happier

new customer care

ELSA has over 400 lessons. Each lesson teaches a daily English conversation, like interviewing for a job, eating at a restaurant, and going to school. If you’re an ELSA user, you’ll know that when you first signed up for an account, you got access to all 400 lessons for free for a week. After your first week, you can continue using ELSA for free and your account will give you access to 20 lessons. At that point, many users choose to purchase ELSA Pro memberships so they can access all 400 lessons to make faster progress in their English speaking skill. 

Back at ELSA headquarters in San Francisco, we’ve been doing interviews with our customers to figure out what else they wanted from ELSA. One of the first things that we discovered from our interviews is how happy our customers already are.

“I love using ELSA. I tell all my friends about it.”

So then we asked them,

“What can we do to make you even happier?”

What do our ELSA users want?

Over and over again, our users told us that they wanted us to create more lessons.

So we then asked them “what topics do you want our new lessons to be about?”

The two most frequently requested topics were: Work and School.  Other popular topics include Travel, Relationship, and Food & Drinks.

What does this mean for ELSA?

Our next steps are much clearer now that we’ve done these customer interviews. You bet we’ll be working on creating more lessons, and you can expect the next few lessons to be about the workplace.  

These interviews also showed us that we should focus on the basics we already do well and polish any rough edges that stick out. For example, we’ll be improving our video streaming so you can use ELSA even when you have a weaker Internet connection.

If you’re an ELSA user and have a suggestion on what we can do to make you happier, please feel free to add a comment to this blog post!

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5 Essential Business Idioms

new module

You just started your new job at an American company. On your first day, your boss comes by your desk and tells you how excited she is to have you to join and how she will help you learn the ropes.

As your boss walks away, you scratch your head and wonder, “what does it mean to learn the ropes?” As it turns out, your boss just used an idiom.

What is an idiom

An idiom is an expression that has a meaning different from what the meaning of the words is.  Idioms are used in everyday life, at the workplace, and in the classroom.  You may have developed a vast vocabulary, but your ability to understand idioms will be essential to fitting in a work environment.

How to learn idioms

The best way to learn idioms is to practice the phrases that are commonly used as idioms.  Then when those idioms are used in conversation, you can recognize them and interpret it with the right meaning.  

Here are five common idioms frequently used in the American workplace. You can practice pronouncing these idioms on ELSA, under the topic Business – with our 12 new lessons added today!

  1. Learn the ropes [lɜrn ðə roʊps]

Learn the rope does not mean that you will be learning about ropes. Instead, it means to understand a particular job or activity.  It’s your first day at work, and your boss wants to make you feel comfortable about going to her for help when you are learning to do your new job, so she tells you “I’m here to help you learn the ropes.”  

Image credit to www.gingersoftware.com
Image credit to www.gingersoftware.com
  1. On the same page [ɑn ðə seɪm peɪʤ]

This means that there is agreement on what is being done or said.  You can use this phrase to describe two people who are in agreement or who understand each other’s points of views.  Suppose you told your coworker about a new company policy and your co-worker tells you that they understand. You can say to them “Sounds like we’re on the same page.”

Image credit to www.brainstales.com
Image credit to www.brainstales.com
  1. Beat around the bush [bit əˈraʊnd ðə bʊʃ]

This means to avoid speaking directly about a topic. Suppose one of your employees is a week late in turning in their status report. You ask them if they are having problems with completing their work on time, and they tell you that everything is cool. You can say to them “Let’s not beat around the bush here. I know that your status report is a week late.”

Image credit to: www.buzzle.com
Image credit to www.buzzle.com
  1. Best of both worlds [bɛst ʌv boʊθ wɜrldz]

This means to be in a situation where you can benefit from two different opportunities. For example, suppose your colleague tells you that they are working from home one day a week and how much they enjoy it. You agree with them and say “By working from home, you get the luxury of staying home with the benefits of having a job. It is the best of both worlds.”

Image credit to www.idiomland.com
Image credit to www.idiomland.com
  1. In your best interest [ɪn jʊər bɛst ˈɪntrəst]

This means that something is for your benefit.  This does not mean that something is very interesting to you. You can use this phrase to describe an opportunity or event that can benefit the person you are speaking to. For example, suppose you want to tell your coworker that they should inform their boss about a problem they’re having at work. You can say:

“It is in your best interest to talk to your boss about it.”

Image credit to www.QuoteHD.com
Image credit to www.QuoteHD.com

Once you’ve mastered these idioms, you will be able to respond effectively to your boss. You can even throw in your own idiom “We’re on the same page then. I am planning to learn the ropes quickly so I can start contributing as soon as possible.”

If you are serious about speaking English like an American and find yourself working for an American company, do spend some time learning about idioms so you can effectively communicate in the workplace. It is in your best interest to memorize these five common idioms!

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