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Sunday - December 21, 2014

Podcasts This Week (December 22, 2014)

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 1062 – Being a Bachelor

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 “confirmed” and “to set (someone) up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Bachelor & The Bachelorette.”
“The Bachelor and The Bachelorette are popular ‘reality TV shows’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 482

Topics: American Authors – Willa Cather; the basics of hockey; oblivious versus forgetfulness; carnivore versus predator; equal versus identical

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about the “Ice Capades.”
“In the 1930’s, ice skating performances were held in between hockey games as…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1063 – Preparing for a New Baby

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 part with” and “to free up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Baby Showers.”
“A ‘baby shower’ is a party ‘thrown’ (organized and held) ‘in anticipation of’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 16, 2014

Her Life Is Complete

3849731221_8b1eeeeab1Sylvia had always dreamed about being a mother. She was 49 years old and thought her dream would never come true when she received a phone call. Would she be willing (say yes), the caller asked, to take care of four children? The children had been neglected (not taken care of) by their mother. As a result, they had been missing school and sleeping on the streets or with other homeless people.

The children had been moving from home to home for more than a year because no one wanted to take care of all four of them together. Sylvia agreed to become a foster parent (someone who takes someone else’s child into their family without becoming their legal parent) for the three girls and one boy. “I went from zero to four overnight,” she said. “It was a big change. But what else could I do? Those children needed me.”

Foster children are minor (younger than 18) children who are taken care of by foster parents. Some are placed in foster care voluntarily (without someone saying they have to) because their parents can’t take care of them. Others are taken from their parents and placed in foster homes because they are in danger of physical or psychological abuse (cruel or violent treatment).

Often grandparents or other relatives (family members) become foster parents for needy children. But frequently people who are not part of the child’s family become the foster parents and take care of these children. Usually children are placed in foster homes by the government or a social-service agency (an organization that helps people with special needs).

Many children are placed in foster care for a while and then adopted (to take someone else’s child into your home and become the child’s legal parent). This process usually takes about four years. More than 100,000 foster children in the U.S. are waiting for a family to adopt them, and about 50,000 are adopted every year.

The idea for foster care in the U.S. began about 150 years ago with Charles Brace in New York City. Brace was concerned about homeless and neglected children who were living in the streets and slums (areas in very bad condition) of New York. From 1853 to about 1890, he found families to take care of more than 120,000 of these children.

For Sylvia, becoming a foster mother wasn’t the end of her story. Last summer, the children’s mother was killed. And a few months later, Sylvia officially adopted Rebecca, Giovanni, Olivia, and Mary as her own children. “This love is different from anything I’ve experienced,” Sylvia said. “I really feel now that my life is complete (as great as it can possibly be).” Her dream of becoming a mother had come true.

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

Credit: Sylvia’s story is adapted from a story by Sandy Banks in the Los Angeles Times.
Photo by publik15 used under Creative Commons license.

 


Sunday - December 14, 2014

Podcasts This Week (December 15, 2014)

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 1060 – Disposing of Sensitive Documents

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 sort” and “to purge.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Disposing of Digital Information.”
“When people want to ‘dispose of’ (get rid of) ‘digital’ (electronic; stored in a computer)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 481

Topics: The Three Mile Island Accident; Famous Buildings: Chrysler Building; quarrel versus argument versus controversy; concerned versus worried; amounted to

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Christ Church.”
“Eleven American buildings have ‘held the title of’ (been recognized as; been called) …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1061 – Shopping for Men’s Shoes

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 “lace” and “boot.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Buster Brown and Mary Janes.”
“In the early 1920s, Buster Brown was a popular ‘comic strip’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 9, 2014

A Capital’s Capitol Requires a Lot of Capital

Capitol_Hill_and_Reflecting_PoolQuestion: What’s the difference between capital and capitol?

Answer: I’ll answer this question with a little story.

In many American elementary schools (schools for children ages six to twelve), it’s very common for students to memorize the names of the U.S. state capitals. The capital of a state is the seat or home of that state’s government, where you will find the main government offices for that state. Here in California, the capital is Sacramento. Where I grew up, in Minnesota, the capital is St. Paul. Each of the 50 states has its own capital.

When I was in third grade (about eight years old), we had a contest (competition) in my school to see who could memorize all 50 state capitals the fastest. As soon as I heard about it, I thought, “Well, I have to win this contest!” So, I went home and I started memorizing the names of the state capitals.

After a week or so (approximately one week later), I went to the teacher and said, “I think I’m ready.” She gave me a piece of paper with the names of the states and I had to write the names of the capitals. I got them all correct, and won the contest. That victory (win) still stands as (still is) the greatest academic achievement of my career.

And what was the prize I received for being the first third grader to memorize the state capitals? One quarter – twenty-five cents.

Now, to make things even more confusing, there’s another related word, capitol, spelled with an “o.” Capitol is used to describe the building where part of the state government meets and has its offices (usually the part we call the legislative branch, the elected representatives). Each capital (city) has a capitol (building).

But wait! We’re not finished yet. You see, we can also say that building a capitol in a state’s capital requires a lot of capital.

This last use of capital refers to the amount of money you have to invest in or start a business, or just to do some large project. We use the same word, capital, for two different concepts – the seat of government and money to build or do something.

But perhaps these two meanings of capital aren’t so different after all. I mean, if you want to get elected so that you can work at the capitol in your state’s capital, you’re going to need a lot of capital.

~Jeff

Photo credit: Capitol Hill and Reflecting Pool, Wikipedia


Sunday - December 7, 2014

Podcasts This Week (December 8, 2014)

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 1058 – Preventing Binge Drinking

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 “rite of passage” and “to pass.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Combating Alcohol-Related Deaths on Campus.”
“Many American college students ‘drink heavily’ (drink a lot of alcohol), and in …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 480

Topics: American Musicals/Movies – The Sound of Music; Public Housing and “The Projects”; to soak versus to immerse versus to dip versus to pickle; pronouncing “ths

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Partridge Family.”
“In 1970, the American television show The Partridge Family made its ‘debut’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1059 – Feeling Restless and Jumpy

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 “worked up” and “jumpy.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Jitterbug.”
“The Jitterbug was a very popular dance in the United States in the early 1900s….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 2, 2014

He’s THAT Guy

640px-Guy_Fawkes_effigy_by_William_Warby_from_FlickrIf you speak to an American, before long (very soon) you’ll probably hear him or her use the word “guy.” That’s because we use it all the time in conversation.

When the noun is singular — “guy” — it’s used to refer to a man.

“What is that guy doing over there?”
“While waiting for her friends at the cafe, Shayla met a guy named Liam.”

When it’s plural — “guys” — it can be used either to mean more than one man, as in:

“Do you think there are more guys who are fans of football than women?”
“Can you get a group of strong guys to help us move this piano?”

Or, “guys” can mean more than one person of any sex — men or women, boys or girls:

“Okay guys, we need to finish this project this afternoon or else we’ll have to work over the weekend.”
“Do you guys want to come over to watch a movie tonight?”

There is some debate about whether “guys” can be used for a group of all girls or all women, though I would not hesitate to use it this way and would not be surprised or feel strange to hear others use it this way.  To make sure this isn’t a gender (men/women) difference in usage, I asked Jeff and he agreed.  He would use the term “guys” with a group of all girls or women. too.

This usage of “guy” can be confusing for English learners, but you’ll hear the word used all the time by Americans. Surprisingly, though, the origins of the word may have darker (unhappy; unpleasant) beginnings.

Some people believe that the word “guy” has it origins (beginnings) in the name Guy Fawkes. In England in 1605, Guy Fawkes and his conspirators (people who shared a secret plan) attempted to assassinate (kill, usually an important person) the English king at the time, King James I. The plan did not succeed and Guy Fawkes was captured (caught).

To this day, on November 5th of each year, England celebrates the foiling (ruining) of this plan by burning an effigy (likeness; rough model of a person) of Guy Fawkes and having fireworks (explosions of lights in the sky) and bonfires (large, open fires, usually for entertainment or celebration). The word “guy,” over time, became a derogatory (insulting) slang word for a man, especially a poorly dressed one.

At some point, the term made its way (traveled) to the United States, and over time, lost its negative connotation (association) and became a general term for men or people. I would bet that most Americans do not know or suspect (guess) that there is any connection between this ubiquitous (found everywhere) term and a 17th century English plot (secret plan to do harm).

– Lucy

Photo Credit: From Wikipedia


Sunday - November 30, 2014

Podcasts This Week (December 1, 2014)

icon_51812

We 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 1056 – Finding Emerging Markets

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 “gamble” and “to work up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Emerging Market Terminology.”
“Use of the ‘term’ (a word or phrase with a specific definition or meaning)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 479

Topics: American Presidents – James K. Polk; beach versus shore versus coast; concept versus conception

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The President’s Scholars Program.”
“In 1964, the U.S. government established the Presidential Scholars Program. The program was created to …”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1057 – Storing Food

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 go to waste” and “might as well.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Home Canning.”
“In the past, ‘preserving food’ (preparing food so that it can be eaten much later)…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - November 27, 2014

These Ducks Can’t Walk

450px-Lame_ducks_-_geograph.org.uk_-_241029“This week, the lame ducks are returning to Congress for their last bit of legislating (making laws). But no one seems too excited to see them.” That was the lede (or lead; the first sentence or paragraph) for a news story in the Washington Post last week.

Other newspapers and websites echoed (repeated) those feelings in their headlines (the title of a news story):

  • Lamest Lame Duck (Politico)
  • How Lame Will The Lame Ducks Be? (The Atlantic)
  • Don’t Let Lame Ducks Spend Your Money (American Spectator)

We all probably know what a duck is. But, a lame duck? If you know the word “lame”, you might say that a lame duck is a duck that can’t walk because its foot or leg is weak (not strong) or injured (hurt) – like the duck in the photo.

You’d be right, but in politics, “lame” means something different. Let me try to explain. In the U.S., our national elections (when we vote) are always early (near the beginning) in November. But the president and Congress – members of the Senate and House of Representatives – don’t take office (begin work) until later, in January. Each session (work year) of Congress begins on January 3rd, and a new president takes office on January 20th.

Do you see the problem?

Between election day and January 3rd or 20th, people who were not reelected (elected again) have to go to work, but they have no real power because their jobs will soon end. In a very short time, someone else will have their job. These people are the lame ducks.

An American newspaper first used the word “lame duck” this way in 1863 during our Civil War. In 1932, Will Rogers – an American cowboy and a very funny man who became a popular performer and writer – suggested his own definition. He wrote that a lame duck Congress is “like where some fellows (men) worked for you and their work wasn’t satisfactory (good enough) and you let ‘em (them) out, but after you fired (told them they had to leave their job) ‘em, you let ‘em stay long enough so they could burn your house down.”

This situation may seem strange to people from countries where politicians begin their terms (time in political office) shortly (very soon) after they are elected. But it’s actually better in the U.S. today than it used to be. Before 1933, the president and Congress began their terms in March. The 20th Amendment (change) to the U.S. Constitution (the highest law of the government) moved the beginning of the terms to January, where they are today.

I guess you could say that we haven’t eliminated (gotten rid of) the lame ducks, but we have shortened their lives.

~ Warren Ediger – ESL coach/tutor and creator of the Successful English web site, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Information source: Washington Post.
Photo (edited) courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.


Sunday - November 23, 2014

Podcasts this Week (November 24, 2014)

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 1054 – Finding a Roommate

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 “common areas” and “suit.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Roommate Agreements.”
“‘Taking on’ (agreeing to have or do something) a roommate can present a big…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 478

Topics: Famous Musicals – All That Jazz; Winter Carnivals; irony and metaphor; pronouncing routed and data; hopefully

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Jazz Poetry.”
“In the 1920’s, a new kind of ‘poetry’ (style of writing with a particular rhythm and short lines, expressing feeling)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1055 – Riding Scooters and Motorcycles Edited

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 “lane” and “to wipe out.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Motorcyclists’ Colors.”
“The members of motorcycle clubs wear ‘distinct’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - November 18, 2014

Don’t Want to Get Sick? Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Coughs_and_Sneezes_Spread_Diseases_Art.IWMPST14133Howie Mandel is an actor and game-show host who is famous for being a germaphobe, someone who has an irrational (not logical; not based on fact or reality) fear of germs (very small things that cause disease).*

A phobia is a fear of something, and someone who suffers from that fear we often call a “[feared thing]+a+phobe.” Hence (therefore), a “germaphobe” is someone who fears germs.

Germaphobes would, for example, prefer to do a fist bump rather than shake your hand when they greet (say hello or meet) you.

In the past, people have given Howie Mandel a hard time (criticized him or bothered him about it), but Mandel knows what he’s doing. According to recent study, a handshake (putting your hand into someone else’s hand to greet them) is 10 to 20 times more likely to transmit (pass from one person to another) germs than a fist bump.

So if you want to cut down on (to reduce) how many colds, bouts (instances of) flu, and similar illnesses you get this year, you need to keep your hands to yourself, especially in your workplace.

In another recent study on how germs are transmitted in offices, researchers looked at how germs spread (moved to a wider area) in one office building with 80 employees.

Using a virus that doesn’t cause illness but that is similar to ones that do, the scientists infected a push-plate door (door that is opened simply by putting weight on a metal plate, with no door handle) at the entrance to the building. Within two hours, the virus had spread to areas most employees touched, such as items in the company kitchen — such as coffee pots and microwave buttons — and parts of the restrooms.

Within four hours, the virus was detected (found) on the hands of 50% of employees in the office!

Some people suggest using hand sanitizer (liquid put on hands to kill germs) and disinfectant wipes (tissues with liquid that kills germs), which do seem to reduce viruses. But others warn that hand sanitizers and disinfectant wipes kill good bacteria (germs) along with bad bacteria, and good bacteria is important for fighting bad germs.

So what should you do? Well, Lucy has told you how to avoid getting sick with food that hits the ground.

My advice on avoiding getting sick at work is simple: Don’t work for a company that allows scientists to secretly put strange germs and viruses in your office as part of some weird experiment. If you do that, and don’t touch anything at work, you’ll be just fine.

– Jeff

* The technical term for the fear of germs is mysophobia, but I have hellenologophobia (fear of technical words, especially those that come from Greek), so I won’t be using that term here, except of course to write “hellenologophobia.”

Image Credit: From Wikipedia