ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG

Welcome to ESL Podcast Blog


Sunday - June 26, 2016

Podcasts this Week (June 27, 2016)

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 1220 – Ramping Up Production

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 “production run” and “saddled with.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Federal Property Disposal.”
“When the ‘federal’ (national) government has ‘surplus’ (extra and unnecessary) ‘property’ (things that one owns)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 561

Topics: The Comstock Lode and the Silver Rush; Classic TV – The Beverly Hillbillies, lesson versus lecture versus seminar; interesting versus interested; I rest my case

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Rodeo Drive.”
“The most famous street in Beverly Hills, California is Rodeo Drive. The street itself is two miles (3.2 kilometers) long…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1221 – Buffing Up Home Security

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 “timer” and “compound.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Civil Defense Sirens.”
““Civil defense sirens” are ‘sirens’ (things that make a loud noise as a warning to others)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 21, 2016

Los Angeles’ Little Farms

6273What words come to your mind when someone says, “Los Angeles”?

Were “farms” or “farming” on your list? Farms are where farming – growing crops (plants grown for food) or livestock (cows or other animals) – is done.

If not, don’t feel bad. Probably not many people think about farms or farming when they think about Los Angeles today. One hundred years ago it was different. From the early 1900s until the 1950s, farms and farming were an important part of life in Los Angeles County – the city of Los Angeles and the area around it. And Los Angeles County produced more food products than any other county in the U.S.

A new book – From Cows to Concrete (mixture of water, sand, and cement used to build things): The Rise and Fall of Farming in Los Angeles – written by Rachel Surls and Judith Gerber tells the not-well-known story of farming in Los Angeles. I think it’s worth sharing (telling about).

The story begins many years ago, when California still belonged to Spain. Spanish settlers (people who moved here to live) discovered that the area around Los Angeles was a good place for growing things and established (started, created) Los Angeles as a food center for southern and central California. Even before that, the people who lived here harvested (gathered) crops that grew here naturally.

In the 1800s Los Angeles was California’s “first wine country,” long before Napa and Sonoma Valleys north of San Francisco became well-known for their vineyards (where grapes are grown) and wineries (where wine is made from grapes).

Citrus fruit – like lemons and oranges – quickly became one of the main crops in the Los Angeles area, and by the early 20th century, much of Southern California was full of citrus and other fruit trees. Farmers also grew vegetables – like cauliflower, celery, and tomatoes – berries, and even flowers. Immigrants from Holland raised milk cows and built dairies (places where milk is collected and milk products made). And keeping bees for honey was popular.

The growth of farming in the early 1900s was stimulated (helped) when people were encouraged to create neighborhoods where “small farm homes” were built on 1-3 acres (.4-1.2 hectares) of land so the homeowners could grow crops to eat and sell. During the Great Depression, the government helped people who moved to California to start some of these small neighborhood farms.

The number of these small farms grew from about 1,300 in the 1920s to 5,000 in the 1930s. In the early 1950s, there were 10,000 of these small farms in Los Angeles County. In 1940 the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce (organization that encourages business) claimed that nearly half of the food Los Angeles ate came from farms within 50 miles (~80 km) of the city.

After World War II, many people moved to Los Angeles for jobs in aircraft and other new industries. Soon schools, shopping centers, streets, and freeways replaced most of the neighborhood farms. Most of them are gone today, but you can still find a few if you look in the right places.

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

Photo from UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources.


Sunday - June 19, 2016

Podcasts this Week (June 20, 2016)

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 1218 – Describing Relative Location

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 “after” and “to get settled.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Pseudonyms.”
“Sometimes people use a ‘pseudonym’ (a false name; a name that is not one’s real name) to ‘hide'”… – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 560

Topics: Movies – The Jazz Singer; The Selective Service System; microaggressions, social justice warrior, and trigger warning; to insulate versus to isolate; pluralizing glass

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Draft Dodgers and Deserters.”
“The U.S. draft requires men to serve in the military during a war unless they meet particular requirements for an ‘exception'”… – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1219 – Expressing Disapproval

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 “not (one’s) place” and “to go behind (one’s) back.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert.”
At the Movies was a popular TV program that ‘reviewed movies’ (provided professional opinions about the quality of movies)”… – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 14, 2016

You’re A Grand Old Flag!

US_flag_13_stars_–_Betsy_Ross.svg

Today is Flag Day in the United States. On this day, in 1777, the Second Continental Congress of the United States adopted (decided to officially use) the design of the American flag:

Resolved (It is decided), That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes (long lines), alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field (background), representing a new constellation (group of stars in the sky).

In 1916, 100 years ago this year, President Woodrow Wilson declared (officially announced) that today, June 14th, would be Flag Day, a day Americans should honor (give respect to) their flag. While it is not an official government holiday, there are many cities and towns that remember this day with parades and small celebrations.

I’ll celebrate Flag Day this year by introducing you to a popular song about the American flag, one most Americans still know (even if they don’t remember that today is Flag Day), George M. Cohan‘s “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”

Cohan wrote the song as part of his 1906 musical, George Washington, Jr.  The words of the chorus (the main part of the song that repeats) are the most famous part of the song. They are:

You’re a grand (wonderful) old flag,
You’re a high-flying flag,
And forever in peace may you wave (move in the wind).
You’re the emblem (symbol) of the land I love,
The home of the free and the brave (courageous).
Ev’ry (poetic version of “every”) heart beats true
Under the Red, White and Blue,
Where there’s never a boast or brag (being too proud of something).
But should auld acquaintance be forgot*,
Keep your eye on the grand old flag.

* = This is a line from the popular song sung traditionally on New Year’s Eve, “Auld Lang Syne.” In the original song, it was meant as a question, “Should we really forget our old friends?” (The answer, of course, is no.)

Here’s a recording of the entire song by the great American actor, James Cagney, from a movie about the life of Cohan, Yankee Doodle Dandy, released in 1942. (The chorus begins at around 1:12 on the video.)

If you live outside of the U.S., does your country have a similar day to honor your flag?

~Jeff

Image credit: Wikipedia


Sunday - June 12, 2016

Podcasts this Week (June 13, 2016)

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 1216 – Working in a Job You Love

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 “calling” and “to do for a living.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Job Corps.”
“Since 1964, the U.S. Department of Labor has ‘administered’ (operated; managed and run) the Job Corps…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 559 

Topics: Frank Lloyd Wright; prohibited versus forbidden versus not allowed; beforehand versus in advance; spot-on; pronouncing passion and patient, worm and warn

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Erector Sets.”
“Parents like to buy toys for their children that allow them to learn while using their ‘imagination’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1217 – Fighting the Effects and Signs of Aging

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 “cream” and “active.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.”
“Founded in 1993, the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine is a nonprofit organization that ‘promotes’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - June 7, 2016

Playing in the Slots

800px-Lower_antelope_1_mdThe Grand Canyon in the U.S. is what the name says; it’s grand – big and impressive. Anyone who stands at the rim (outside edge) and looks into and across the canyon sees something unlike anything they have ever seen before. If you do a Google search using “Grand Canyon” and “adjectives”, most of the adjectives you find describe reactions to the canyon, but don’t say much about the canyon itself. It is, in many ways, indescribable (impossible to describe).

Like many canyons around the word, the Grand Canyon was created by the action of a river, the Colorado, which for millions of years has been cutting through layers of rock to create a channel (space for water to flow through) that grows deeper and wider every year.

Antelope Canyon, about one hour away from the Grand Canyon, is a very different kind of canyon.

If someone were to take you blindfolded (with a cloth covering your eyes) to Antelope Canyon, place you at the bottom, and then take off the blindfold, you would first be struck by (strongly notice) the tightness (very little room to move) of the space. In many places the canyon walls are so close that you can reach out and touch both of them at the same time.

The canyon walls, decorated with narrow lines of color, move in and out from bottom to top, like waves. And as you look ahead, the canyon walls twist and turn into the distance, and you can often see only a few feet in front of you.

USA_Antelope-CanyonThe movement of light on the canyon walls creates a constantly changing pattern of reds, oranges, yellows – dark one moment, uncomfortably bright the next – and shadows as the sun moves across the sky. When the sun is directly overhead, it often cuts through the narrow space to shine like a spotlight on the canyon floor, as in the photo.

Antelope Canyon, a slot (long narrow opening) canyon, is much deeper than it is wide. A slot canyon may be only 3 feet (1 meter) wide at the top, but more than 100 feet (33 meters) deep. They are created by underground water cutting through soft rock, like sandstone or limestone.

Slot canyons can be found in many parts of the world. Those in the southwestern U.S. – more than 1,000 – are probably the best known, but other other well-known slot canyons can be found in northern Spain, in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain, and in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney, Australia.

Maligne Canyon, in Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada, is a particularly interesting slot canyon. Much of the water that runs through the canyon comes in a unusual way from Medicine Lake 8.5 miles (14 km) away. One guide compares the lake to a leaky bathtub – water leaks (runs out through holes or cracks) out of the bottom of the lake and runs underground to the canyon.

For all of their fascinating features (characteristics), slot canyons can be dangerous to visit. Once you are in a slot canyon, it can be difficult and take time to get out. Rainstorms, even if they are some distance away, can cause flash floods (sudden local floods) to rush through the canyons. As a result, many canyons, like Antelope, require visitors to have trained guides to take them through the canyons.

If you are interested in learning more about slot canyons, look at the Los Angeles Times article – A Hiker’s Sampler of the Southwest’s Slot Canyons.

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

Photos of Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon are from Wikipedia Commons.


Sunday - June 5, 2016

Podcasts this Week (June 6, 2016)

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 1214 – Expressing Dread

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 wrong” and “called for.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Breakup Etiquette.”
“As in all ‘social interactions’ (relationships between people), there are many rules of ‘etiquette’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 558

Topics: Classic TV/Movies – Star Trek; The Homestead Act; medicine versus medication versus drug; wild card and K9; to lay it on too thick

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Hugo Awards.”
“The Hugo Awards are given to authors ‘in recognition of’ (giving attention and respect to) the best ‘science fiction’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1215 – A Fear of Heights

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 fall” and “ground floor.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Phobias.”
“People have many ‘phobias’ (fears that cannot be explained rationally) in addition to the ‘acrophobia’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Monday - May 30, 2016

The Poppies “In Flanders Field”

poppy-50590_960_720Today, we observe (celebrate; recognize) Memorial Day, a federal (national) holiday to remember those who died while serving (working) in the military (a country’s fighting forces). It seems fitting (appropriate) to talk about one of the most famous poems of the 20th century (1900s).

After World War I, poppies (see photo) became associated with the fallen (dead) soldiers of war. This was mainly due to a poem called “In Flander’s Field.”

In 1915, after presiding over (being in charge of and saying words at) the funeral (ceremony to bury the dead) of his friend and fellow soldier, a Canadian doctor named John McCrae wrote the poem “In Flanders Field.” The term “Flander’s Field” was used by the English to refer to the area between East and West Flanders in Belgium where some of the biggest battles (fights within a war) were fought during World War I at Ypres.

The poem was first published in December 1915 in the popular English magazine Punch and uses the imagery (description of things we see) of poppies growing between graves (marked places where the dead are buried) to remind us of the people who sacrificed (gave up; surrendered) their lives in war.

In Flanders Field
by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark (indicate) our place; and in the sky
The larks (small songbirds), still bravely singing, fly
Scarce (seldom; not often) heard amid (among) the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn (when the sun rises), saw sunset (when the sun sets) glow (give off light),
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel (argument; fight) with the foe (enemy):
To you from failing (weakening; dying) hands we throw
The torch* (a stick with fire burning at the end); be yours to hold it high.
If ye (you) break faith (are disloyal; fail to support and give help) with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

* “To pass the torch” means to transfer the duty or responsibility to someone else, so McCrae is talking about passing the responsibility of fighting and defeating the enemy to other soldiers.

The poem became very popular during the war and is still considered one of the most famous poems of that era (period in history). Inspired by the poem, the American Legion, an organization of former soldiers formed in 1919, used the poppy as a symbol to remember those who died in World War I. This was adopted (taken and used) by other military groups in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Today, in the U.S., poppies don’t have a strong association with those who died in war, as it does in the U.K. and other countries. However, this poem is still well known and studied in some schools.

How are the fallen soldiers remembered where you live?

~ Lucy


Sunday - May 29, 2016

Podcasts this Week (May 30, 2016)

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 1212 – Providing Tech Support

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 “remotely” and “zip, zilch, zero.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Multi-tiered Tech Support.”
“Businesses often offer multi-tiered tech support to improve their customer service….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 557

Topics: American Authors – Sylvia Plath; Famous Songs – “Hush, Little Baby”; consciousness versus awareness; distinct versus distinctive; classy dress

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Hushpuppies.”
“Hushpuppies are a ‘savory’ (salty; not sweet) food that is common in the Southern United States…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1213 – Using Different Payment Systems

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 be rejected” and “wire.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Early Credit-based Payment Systems.”
“Before the ‘advent’ (creation and appearance) of credit cards, there was a large ‘untapped’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - May 24, 2016

Saying “It’s a Thing” Is Now a Thing

Thingaddams6According to one source, “thing” is among the ten most commonly used nouns in English. It’s so common that if you are able to read this blog post, you probably already know what it means. Or do you?

Certainly you know that “thing” can refer to just about any inanimate (not living) object, such as a cup, a car, or a coin.

You can also use “thing” when you’re not sure if the object you’re referring to is living or not. For example, you might say to a waiter in a restaurant, “What’s that thing in my soup?” (Hint: If you have to ask this question, you might not want to eat at that restaurant again.)

“Thing” can also refer to a topic of conversation, as in “I have three things I want to talk to you about today.” Notice that “thing” can be singular or plural when used in these ways.

More recently in U.S. English, “a thing” (always singular) has taken on a new meaning, referring to a newly popular topic, trend, or activity.

For example, eating toast with avocado on top is now “a thing” in many U.S. cities. It’s a relatively recent phenomenon that is especially popular among hipsters.

Saying that you will move to Canada if _________ wins the presidency in November is also a thing among celebrities (fill in the blank with the candidate you hate the most here (Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Attila the Hun, etc.)).

Sometimes the trend is so crazy, you may ask someone, “Is that really a thing?” For example, I might ask my friend, “Are adult coloring books really a thing now?”

The answer to that last question is yes, they are: people are actually spending time coloring paper books like children. Sadly, it is a thing.

~Jeff

Image credit: from Addams Family Wiki

P.S. Oh, here’s one more meaning of “thing” – it was the name of a character on The Addams Family TV show from the 1960s, which is shown in the photo.