Views #1000 | Low Intermediate 4

The idea of elllo

Todd talks about how he got the idea to started.

Kevin: Alright, Todd. Thought that I would ask you some questions about elllo. How long have you been running elllo?

Todd: Actually, it started in 2003. So, it actually began as a graduate school project, and I never ended up finishing graduate school, but it started as a grad school project in January I guess, and I was able to get the first bits of the web site up around June 2003, and naturally the site looks a lot different than it did then, but yeah, that was the first time.

Kevin: Did you do like needs analysis, or did you try and research what people wanted? Were you getting input from anywhere?

Todd: No, it was actually pretty organic, really. In Japan my students were always trying to practice English, but at that time, this was before youtube or anything. There wasn't really that much for them to listen to.

So looking at the textbooks, I noticed that everything was scripted, and I thought, "Oh, you know, they would probably just like to hear people speak naturally".

So as a grad school assignment, I just did some recordings, and then I transcribed them for my students, and then I showed them to the students, and they loved them, and they thought they were the greatest thing, and they asked me to do more.

And so originally, the idea was not to even to put the site online. I was making the recordings on these little MD's. MD players were really popular in Japan at the turn of the century, and I had all these boxes of little MD's and I would loan them out to students.

So, at that point, you know, I heard of this thing called MP3. You know, that means that it can play on a computer, so I decided to take a computer course, and learn how to do the online stuff, but actually it was always just basically the students requesting to have naturally spoken English.

Learn vocabulary from the lesson

never ended up


I never ended up finishing graduate school.

If you never end up doing something, that means you planned to do it but you did not do it, usually because you did something else. Notice the following.

  1. We never ended up playing cards. We watched a movie instead.
  2. He never ended up reaching the top.

needs analysis


We did a needs analysis on the math course.

A needs analysis is when educators look at a course and  focus on what students need to study.  Notice the following:

  1. Most beginner level courses don't require a needs analysis because the students must learn everything.
  2. A needs analysis showed students needed to learn spelling.



The website was organic in its creation.

When something is organic, that means it grows naturally or is created naturally with little help or planning. The opposite of organic is processed. Notice the following:

  1. Our relationship was organic. We were friends for a long time and then lovers.
  2. I tend to eat organic food and not processed food.



All the textbook conversations were scripted.

When something is scripted, that means it is written down.  Usually, most of what you hear on TV or the movies comes from actors reading a script. Notice the following:

  1. The news is usually scripted but sometimes the newscasters speak freely.
  2. Scripted conversations never seem natural.

turn of the century


CD's were really popular at the turn of the century.

The turn of the century is the end of a century. So for example, the years 1998 and 1999 were the turn of the century before the year 2000 became a new century. Notice the following:

  1. There was no google or youtube at the turn of the century.
  2. Y2K was a big scare at the turn on the century.
Answer the following questions about the interview.


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