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Sunday - June 28, 2015

Podcasts This Week (June 29, 2015)

icon_51812Why are you only getting half of the benefits of ESL Podcast? The Learning Guide will help you learn English even faster.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1116 – Reading and Processing Emails

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to scan” and “to process.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “E-cards.”
“Americans often send ‘greeting cards’ (printed, folded cards with an image on the front and a kind…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 509

Topics: American Playwrights – Arthur Miller; Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood; to evoke versus to invoke; fluently versus fluency; pronouncing bought and boat, late and let, and beer and bear

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Electric Company.”
The Electric Company is an American educational series that first aired on October 25, 1971…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1117 – Assembling Furniture

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “part” and “bent.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Buying Used Furniture.”
“People who don’t want to pay “full price” (the price being charged for a new item in a store)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Wednesday - June 24, 2015

ESLPod Now Has an App! Download Learn English Magazine

PromotionMagAdFB.001I have some very exciting news to announce today: ESLPod.com now has an app on the Apple and Android app stores. It’s called Learn English Magazine, and it’s free!

Learn English Magazine includes some of the best material from our website, plus several new ways to improve your English, including videos, cartoons, and articles that you can only find in the magazine.

Every regular issue is free.

Apple users can download the app and subscribe here.

Android users (4.1 or later operating system) can download and subscribe here.

There are already four cool issues for you to download and enjoy. We’ll be publishing the magazine every two weeks.

To my knowledge, Learn English Magazine is the only free magazine app for learning English on either the Apple or Android app stores, so be sure to share the news with your friends, family, and coworkers.

Also in the magazine is the opportunity to sign up for a new special report I’ve written with information on how to improve your English, called “5 Things You MUST Know to Improve Your English.” To get the special report and additional tips on improving your English speaking and listening, download the magazine app, subscribe, and look for the special report offer inside the magazine.

If you have ever wondered how you should go about improving your English quickly, then you should read this special report, which you can only get in the magazine.

Here are some of the item in our latest issue (Issue #4):

  • Videos: Fling, Cast, or Toss?
  • My Life in English: The Catcher in the Rye and the American Teenager
  • Vocabulary: Why Having Convictions is Not the Same as Being a Convict
  • Business English: Selling on the Internet
  • Warren Ediger’s America: California’s Beauty in the Work of John Muir
  • Life in the U.S.: Why Dumb People Call the Police
  • Last Laugh: No Strings Attached (Cartoon)

Oh, and if you have time after you download the app, I would really appreciate it if you could write a review in your country’s app store. The review does not need to be in English, and it would really help us get the word out (let other people know) about the new magazine.

~Jeff


Sunday - June 21, 2015

Podcasts This Week (June 22, 2015)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1114 – Forms of Government

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “imaginary” and “rule.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Anti-Federalism.”
“‘Anti-Federalism’ was a ‘movement’ (the efforts of many people to change society in some way)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 508

Topics: American Musicals – Cabaret; The Guggenheim Museum; relation versus relationship; rerun versus syndication; belly of the beast

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Drama Desk Award.”
“In 1949, an organization called the “Drama Desk” was ‘founded’ (created; started) by New York City theater…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1115 – Buying Meat from a Butcher

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “cut” and “whole.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “New York City’s Meatpacking District.”
“The Meatpacking District in New York City ‘occupies’ (takes up space) a neighborhood in Manhattan…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 16, 2015

Writing in English: Verbs That Help Your Reader See

dog_with_glasses_by_danihee-d53949bGood writers think of one thing: how to make what they want to say as clear as possible.

In Writing In English As A Second Language, I quoted (said what someone else said) William Zinsser, who wrote that “your best tools are short, plain…active verbs…. So fall in love with active verbs. They are your best friends.”

Mike Emrick is the play-by-play announcer (person who describes a game on radio or TV) for the Chicago Blackhawks hockey team. Many people believe he’s the best. The verbs he uses are one of the reasons why. The verbs he uses help his listeners see the action.

Recently someone made a list of verbs Emerick has used to describe Blackhawk games. I’ve chosen a few of them to show how good active verbs can give your reader or listener a better idea – a picture, in fact – of what you’re describing.

You don’t need to know much about hockey to make sense of (understand) Emerick’s verbs. Just remember that in hockey, players skate back and forth on the ice and use sticks to try to hit the puck (small round piece of hard rubber) into the other team’s net, or goal. It’s like soccer on ice.

I’ve chosen two groups of verbs. The first group describes how players hit the puck. The second group describes how the puck moves, especially as it goes into the net.

Here are some of Emrick’s verbs:

Chop – He chopped at the puck. / He hit at the puck as if trying to cut something with a tool.

Finesse – He finessed the puck into the net. / He hit the puck in a skillful or expert way.

Jab – He jabbed at the puck. / He hit at the puck with short quick movements of his stick.

Muscle – He muscled the puck into the net. / He used all his strength to hit the puck into the net.

Sky – He skied the puck. / He hit the puck high into the air.

Swat – He swatted at the puck. / He tried to hit the puck the same way you would try to hit a mosquito or some other insect that was bothering you.

Hop – The puck hopped into the net. / The puck jumped into the net like a rabbit.

Curl – The puck curled into the net. / The puck moved into the net in a curved (not straight), or circular, line.

Trickle – The puck trickled into the net. / The puck moved slowly into the net, little by little.

Skitter – The puck skittered across the ice. / The puck moved lightly and quickly, like a small animal.

If you do a lot of reading and listening, and pay attention to the verbs writers and speakers use, you’ll discover many more good active verbs.

Can you think of some other good active verbs for hockey or soccer? Let’s see how many verbs we can come up with that fit one of the sentences I used above – He _____ the puck (or ball) or The puck (or ball) _____ into the net. Add your verbs to the comments.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo from Deviantart used under Creative Commons license.


Sunday - June 14, 2015

Podcasts This Week (June 15, 2015)

icon_51812Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting the Learning Guide. We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1112 – Doing Impersonations

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “gesture” and “tone.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Elvis Impersonators.”
“American comics impersonate many different ‘celebrities’ (famous people, especially musicians, actors, singers, and athletes)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 507

Topics: The Leo Franks Trial; on hand versus in hand versus at hand; discrete versus discretion

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Song ‘Strange Fruit.'”
“In 1937, a ‘little-known’ (not famous) high school teacher named Abel Meeropol in New York City…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1113 – Getting a Family Portrait Taken

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “to pose” and “prop.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Occasions for Portraits.”
“With the ‘widespread’ (by many people across a large area) use of digital cameras…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 9, 2015

Should I Capitalize That?

Anyone learning English already knows that the English language is full of quirks (strange things). One quirk has to do with capitalization, whether a word is written with a capital first letter (Letter) or not (letter). With some words, its meaning actually changes when you capitalize it. These words are called “capitonyms.”

Some of the most often used capitonyms are related to place names. Here are a few examples.

Earth: the planet that we live on
“Do you believe there is life on planets other than Earth?”

earth: dirt, the material on the surface of the ground
“The workers found important historical artifacts (items made by people who live a long time ago) under the top layer of earth.”

Notice that the pronunciation of both terms are the same.  That’s not the case with the example below:

Polish:  relating to the things or people of Poland
“Are you going to eat that Polish sausage (a type of food, similar to a hot dog)?”

to polish: to make something shiny (reflecting light) by rubbing it
“Yimi polished his leather shoes before going on the important interview.”

Other capitonyms have nothing to do with place names.

Frank: a man’s name
“Do you know Frank Bumgardner?  I went to high school with him.”

frank: in speech or writing, being honest and direct
“Please be frank with me.  I want to know the truth even if it’s bad news.”

August: the eighth month of the calendar year
“Many families go on vacation in August, right before school begins again in September.”

august: respected and considered very important
“Monica didn’t expect to attend a dinner with such august guests that included members of the royal family.”

There isn’t a comprehensive (with all included) list of capitonyms, but you can find more examples here.  The only way to know how they are being used is by looking at the context (words used around it).

Are there similarly strange quirks in the languages you speak?  Do capital letters make a difference in meaning?

– Lucy


Sunday - June 7, 2015

Podcasts This Week (June 8, 2015)

icon_51812We are grateful to our members and donors, because we are only able to produce this podcast with the generous help of our listeners.

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member today!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1110 – Experiencing Drought

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “reserves” and “relief.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The 1936 North American Heat Wave.”
“In 1936, North America experienced the most “severe” (strong; intense) ‘heat wave’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 506

Topics: Ask an American – International work visas; to demonstrate versus to indicate versus to denote; hoot and to not give a hoot; Nice to meet you

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Categories of Visas.”
“The U.S. Department of State ‘issues’ (creates and gives to others an official document)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1111 – Symptoms of Depression

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “distant” and “tank.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.”
“The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national ‘hotline’ (a phone number that people can call…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 2, 2015

Bucket List: The Story of a Word

bucket listFor word lovers, it’s often fun to trace (find or discover) the history of a word. I frequently stop at the Online Etymology Dictionary – etymology is the study of the beginnings, history, and changes in the meanings of words – to do just that.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal tells the story of a word – bucket list – that first appeared just a few years ago but has already become very popular. How popular? I received more than 63,000,000 search results when I googled it (searched for it using Google).

In the popular 2007 movie Bucket List, the word meant a list of things that you haven’t done, but want to do before you die. The movie was about two men who had terminal (an illness that causes death) cancer and tried to do as much as they could before they died. The movie is how most people first learned about the word.

To understand where bucket list came from, you have to go back to an idiom – kick the bucket – that first appeared in 1785. You may have heard that one. If someone kicks the bucket, it means they died. There are several different ideas about where the idiom comes from, but no one really knows for sure.

In 1999, Justin Zackham, the man who wrote the movie, began a list that he called “Justin’s list of things to do before he kicks the bucket” – things to do before he dies. The name seemed too long, however, so he shortened it to “Justin’s bucket list.”

As Zackham’s bucket list grew, he decided that a bucket list would make a good story for a movie. He wrote the movie script (the written form of a movie), and when the movie was completed, everyone agreed that Bucket List was the best name for it.

When words become popular and a lot of people begin to use them, the way they use them often changes. Bucket list is no exception (it’s not different). Zackham first used it to describe the list of things he wanted to do before he died. But a few months ago, President Obama used it in a speech to refer to the things he wanted to do before the end of his presidency (time as president). As a result, the meaning of bucket list has already shifted (changed) to include the things someone wants to do before an important time in their life.

Let me make a prediction (say what will happen). I think that a lot of people will think that bucket list is a cool (fashionable, attractive) new word and want to use it. And they will use it in a variety of new ways – for example, to refer to any list of things that they need or want to do, what we call a to-do list. Some day you’ll be able look in a dictionary and see if I was right.

I’m wondering, what would you put on your own bucket list?

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo from irrevspeckay.


Sunday - May 31, 2015

Podcasts This Week (June 1, 2015)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, you’ll get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1108 – Foreign Currency Exchange Rates

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “falling” and “strong.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The FDIC.”
“The ‘Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’ (‘FDIC’) is a U.S. government ‘corporation’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 505

Topics: Famous Americans – Jonas Salk; The Wanamaker Department Stores; it’s all yours; good for you; fair enough; hyphen versus dash; All of the good, none of the bad

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Marble Palace in New York.”
“The Marble Palace is a ‘notable’ (interesting and worthy of attention) building in New York City…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1109  – Reading Poor Handwriting

In the Learning Guide: Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear), vocabulary list and sample sentences, and comprehension questions.
In “What Else Does it Mean,” learn the other meanings of “face it” and “in the making.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Handwriting Instruction in Schools.”
“In the past, American schools taught very young children how to ‘print’ (write separate letters)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - May 26, 2015

The Boys of Summer*

Tee_ball_player_swinging_at_ball_on_tee_2010Yesterday was a holiday in the United States called Memorial Day, a day when we honor (remember with respect) those men and women who fought and died for our country in the military. Memorial Day is also the unofficial (not legally, but informally) start of summer for most people in the U.S., since it comes on the last Monday of May.

Summer is associated with lots of different activities – vacations, going to the beach, picnics, barbeques – but for millions of American boys, summer is all about baseball. (Baseball is also played now by some girls, but most girls prefer to play a similar game called softball, which uses a larger, softer ball.)

When I was a young boy, I, too, wanted to play baseball. I grew up in a family where almost everyone played sports. All of my older brothers – all eight of my older brothers – played some sort of sport, and so I decided very early on that I should learn how to play a sport as well.

So when I was five years old, my father signed me up (registered me; put me on a list) to play what’s called “tee-ball.” Tee-ball (also spelled “T-ball”) is a form of baseball, but unlike regular baseball, there’s no pitcher. (The pitcher in baseball is the guy who throws the ball; the person who tries to hit the ball is called the batter.)

In tee-ball, there’s no pitcher because five-year-old boys can’t throw very far, and you can’t really have a baseball game unless the batter has a ball to hit. So instead of hitting a ball thrown by a pitcher, the batter hits the ball off of what is called a tee, which is a cone or stick that sits on the ground (see photo).

I remember very well my first game of tee-ball, down at Griggs Playground, a small park near my house in St. Paul. In my first at bat (when I first tried to hit the ball), I hit it pretty hard. I ran to first base. My team was happy. My older brother who took me to the game was happy. I was happy. So far, so good.

Later on in the game, when my team was out on the field trying to catch the balls that the other team hit, I was told to play a position call “shortstop,” which is the player who normally stands between second and third base. Like all the players out on the field, the job of the shortstop is to catch the ball if it is hit toward him. What could be easier?

After a couple of batters, one rather large five-year-old on the other team came up to the plate (walked to where the batter stands to hit the ball). He swung his bat (moved the long stick to hit the ball) and hit the ball right at me.

I froze (was unable to move my body). The next thing I remember, the ball hit me right in the face. Bam!

I immediately fell down and started to cry.

The coach (the leader of the team, an adult) came out on the field and asked if I was okay. I told him I certainly was NOT okay. I mean, I didn’t expect this game to be painful.

I told the coach I was quitting, right then and there (at that very moment; immediately). I walked off the field and my brother took me home. That was it – the end of my life in baseball after only a few hours.

I never returned to baseball, and, to be honest, was never very good at any sport when I was a child (or now as an adult). But I still love watching baseball, and plan on spending many hours this summer doing just that. I learned my lesson that it is much less painful watching baseball than actually playing it.

~Jeff

* The title of this post is taken from the title of a well-known book about baseball by the same name.

Image credit: Tee-ball, Wikipedia