Views #999 | Low Intermediate 4

elllo then and now

Todd talks about his work on elllo over the years.

Kevin: What were the biggest challenges you faced starting this website?

Todd: Well, when I first started, I didn't know anything about computers, and I mean nothing about computers. I took a course, teachers and technology and I remember the first day of class, without a doubt, I new the least of anybody in there. They were saying all these terms, and I didn't know what the terms meant. I had never owned a computer before, and I almost dropped out actually. I was just like .... I can't do this. This is way over my head. So I ended up buying a little dictionary and then I struggled through the course, but then I learned the technology, so initially that was the hardest part, since then I would say the technical stuff is probably the easiest thing, so it's kind of funny how it's switched.

Kevin: What's been the most rewarding for you doing this project?

Todd: Probably two things. One would be just the people that I've met. So when I first started I had no idea that I was going to meet all these people from around the world, and it's really easy to get people to come in and do interviews. If I meet somebody from another country, I can just give them a business card and say "I run this website. It's free. Would you be willing to come in and do interviews?" and then they see the website and they agree, so I've made a lot of friends I would say from people around the world.

And also, there's been a lot of students that have written me from around the world to thank me for the website, and that's always really nice and rewarding.

Kevin: Where do you see the website going?

Todd: That's a good question. So, I think right now we're trying to change ... I say we by the way because I have a partner, Joel Carda. Joel was actually with me in the first class. We took the class together, the technology class. That's how we became friends, and he's been involved on and off since the beginning, and he's been involved very actively for the last three years I think ... so we're trying to change the website to do more ... different types of interviews and to continually make it better. Maybe to do more situation type stuff, and maybe debates and things like that.

But actually the biggest thing is we're gonna try to focus on quality. Because when the website first started, I made a decision at that time to worry about quantity, not quality, because I teach full-time. I've always taught full-time, and I never really had that much time to worry about editing and proof-reading and things like that, and people have been pretty lenient but I know that there's a lot typos and things like that, so the biggest thing right now is to improve the quality of the website, and then to also branch out and always push new types and new types of activities and things like that.


Learn vocabulary from the lesson

without a doubt


I, without a doubt, knew the least of anyone there.

When you say the phrase 'without a doubt' you mean that something is obvious or very clear. Notice the following:

  1. He was, without a doubt, the worst teacher I ever had.
  2. New York is, without a doubt, the most expensive city in America.

dropped out


I almost dropped out of school.

When you drop out of school, that means you quit school or you stop going to class. A drop-out is a person who quit school. Notice the following:

  1. My father was a high school drop-out but he still went on to succeed.
  2. I dropped out of college to help my family when my dad got sick.

way over my head


The course was way over my head.

When something is 'way over your head' that means it is too difficult to understand. For example, in school a lecture or chapter from a book can be way over your head if it is too hard to comprehend. Notice the following:

  1. What she was saying was way over my head.
  2. I took biology, but is was way over my head, so I dropped out.

on and off


He's been involved on and off since the beginning.

When something happens 'on and off' that means it happens, and then stops, and then continues again. Notice the following:

  1. My relationship with my girlfriend has been on and off since I last saw you.
  2. The plans to build a new bridge have been on and off for awhile.

branch out


We plan to branch out and try new things.

When you branch out, that means you experiment and take risks and try new ideas. Notice the following:

  1. This year I plan to branch out and explore new areas.
  2. The restaurant plans to branch with a new international menu.

Vocabulary Quiz

a doubt • drop out • over her head
on and off • branched out
  1. She sat silently because she thought the conversation was .
  2. My junior year I really and made some new friends.
  3. It was, without , the best book I have ever read.
  4. He had to of university because he didn't have enough money.
  5. He worked for me when he was in high school.
Answer the following questions about the interview.


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