What Does “Carry Out” Mean?*

Learn the different meanings of “carry out” in this quick video.

*NOTE: As a noun, we usually spell “carryout” as a single word, or hyphenate it (carry-out). The video caption has it as two words, but that’s usually just for its use as a verb.

~Jeff

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in Language & Terms | Comments Off on What Does “Carry Out” Mean?*

More Listening and Reading Will Help You Speak English Better: A True Story

If you’ve been a fan of ESLPod.com, you know that we’re always telling you to read and listen to as much English as you can.

Reading and listening is the key (most important thing) to improving speaking and writing.

There’s really no other way of improving. If you want to speak English better, you need to listen to and read more English.

And you don’t need to travel to the United States to do this!

If you have any doubt about this (not sure you believe it), read this email I got a few weeks ago from Premysl from the Czech Republic. Notice how he improved his English not in the U.S., but back in his own country.

+++++++

Dear Jeff,

First of all, I’d like to wholeheartedly (completely; thoroughly) thank you for all episodes of the English Cafe [now called “Cultural English” lessons]. I really enjoyed them.

Within one year of regular listening, I’ve made tremendous (a large amount of) progress in my English. It all started with a summer job on Block Island, Rhode Island (a state on the east coast of the U.S.).

As an undergraduate (college student), I decided to work there for a summer job. After many years of traditional English teaching, I was quite surprised that I couldn’t understand anyone in English!

And even though I “knew” all of the words, I still could not understand them when I listened.

The coming (next) year in the Czech Republic, I listened ever day to ESLPod.com lessons, and I learned more than in all previous years in school!!!

My friends on Block Island couldn’t believe it when they heard me speak English the next year at another summer job.

Thanks to ESLPod.com, I can now listen to any English program.

Once again, many thanks!

Regards,
Premysl
Czech Republic

++++++

We get emails like Premysl’s every week here. Perhaps our lessons could work for you, too?

Get a FREE sample lesson (no money needed) – SIGN UP BELOW!

Or just become an Unlimited English member today here: https://tv.eslpod.com

~Jeff

Just fill out the form below and we’ll send a FREE lesson to try!

We hate spam, too! We will never sell, rent, or give your information to anyone – ever!

What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on More Listening and Reading Will Help You Speak English Better: A True Story

“Drive Hammered, Get Nailed”

I was driving down the 10 freeway here in Los Angeles the other day (recently) and saw an interesting sign.

Freeways in Southern California usually have large electronic signs every few miles that announce important but usually boring (uninteresting) information about road conditions (whether the freeways are slow, construction projects, etc.).

The one I saw was different. It said: Drive Hammered, Get Nailed

This expression is what we would call a “play on words,” or a pun. A pun is when you use a word with more than one meaning to make a joke.

To get hammered means to get very drunk, when you drink too much alcohol.

But a hammer is also a tool we use to pound or hit something, such as a small, thin piece of metal called a nail (see photo). We also use to hammer as verb.

So “Drive Hammered” means “Drive Drunk,” but it also makes you think of the other meanings, and this is where the joke comes in (appears; is seen).

To get nailed means to be hit by a hammer, but it also means to get caught.

For example, if the police see you driving too fast, they will pull you over (make you stop your car) and give you a ticket. You “got caught” speeding, and therefore “got nailed.”

“Get Hammered, Get Nailed,” then, means if you drive drunk, you will get caught.

Now, there are actually more meanings of both of these expressions in English.

If a politician or government official is being “hammered by questions” from the press, it means they are asking lots and lots of questions.

“To nail” can also mean to get something right, or to do something perfectly: “He scored the winning goal in last night’s soccer game. He nailed it!”

To hit the nail on the head (the top part of the nail) means to describe a situation accurately, to figure out the real importance of something: “When you mentioned (said) the part about my sister, you hit the nail right on the head. That’s exactly her problem!”

As a noun, nail also refers to the hard tip or end on the top of your fingers and toes. We call these “fingernails” and “toenails,” logically enough!

~Jeff

P.S. Want to start improving your English? Try a FREE 30-minute English lesson.

  • Do you have difficulties remembering the “right” word when speaking in English?
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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in Language & Terms | Comments Off on “Drive Hammered, Get Nailed”

Is Teddy Roosevelt Still Right about America?

One of our most famous presidents was Theodore or “Teddy” (a short name for Theodore) Roosevelt, who was president of the U.S. between 1901 and 1909.

Roosevelt was first famous for being a leader during the Spanish-American War in 1898, and later for his love of the environment. (Our Cultural English lesson #300 has even more information about him.)

Toward the end of his presidency, Roosevelt wrote a letter to the Los Angeles Public Library. It seems the library was asking different famous people for their autographs (signatures). Roosevelt wrote a short note along with his signature (see photo).

Today you can see that note on a wall in the main public library in L.A.

Roosevelt’s note talks about how Americans, despite their differences, are really the same in the most important ways.

He speaks of the importance of toleration, which is the ability to get along with people (or countries or ideas) different from us, to allow them to live their lives as they wish.

Here’s the text (words) of his short note:

East and West, good Americans are substantially (basically; essentially) the same; the differences between them seem trivial (not important) when compared with the points of likeness (things they have in common or share).

We Americans of today are wise (smart) in developing (growing) the joy of living which the Puritan* lacked (did not have), and the toleration he [the Puritan] no less lacked (also didn’t have); but let us see to it (let’s make sure) that we do not lose his iron sense of duty (the Puritan’s strong believe that you must do what you’re supposed to do, even if it is difficult), his unbending (unchanging), unflinching (strong, without change) will (desire) to do the right (the correct thing).

Aug 5th, 1907. Theodore Roosevelt

Is Roosevelt still right about Americans?

The United States has experienced two decades (20 years) or more of often bitter (very harsh or mean) political debates. Today, with social media, people appear to be even more divided on their political views.

Is it still true that Americans believe in toleration, in joy, and in doing one’s duty? I hope it is.

~Jeff

*The Puritans were among the first British settlers to come to America. They are famous for having a very strict lifestyle, which most people see now as boring, restrictive, and not very fun. Learn more about them in our Cultural English lesson #377.

P.S. Want to start improving your English? Try a FREE 30-minute English lesson.

  • Do you have difficulties remembering the “right” word when speaking in English?
  • Do you have to stop and think about everything you want to say in English?
  • Do you get lost when someone speaks English quickly to you?

Then you need to try one of our Unlimited English lessons from ESLPod.com!

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Just fill out the form below and we’ll send a FREE lesson to try!

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on Is Teddy Roosevelt Still Right about America?

Passing Your English Exams (TOEFL & IELTS)

We often get emails asking if ESLPod.com has test preparation materials for English language exams.

If you want to study at a U.S. university or college, you will likely take one of two English language exams.

The most common “standardized” English test in the United States is the TOEFL® (Test of English as a Foreign Language). (Standardized tests are tests on which everyone answers the same questions and the answers are scored (determined to have correct or incorrect answers) in the same way.)

There’s another English exam more popular in British and Australian universities called the IELTS (International English Language Testing System).

How should you prepare for your exams?

If you said, “Drink a lot of beer when you study,” you will probably not do very well.

The best way to prepare for an English test is to improve your English overall. For that, you should start with our lessons which will help you do well on any English language test.

The problem is that many people who want test prep (preparation) want to improve their English a lot in a very short period of time – like, NOW!

Unfortunately, your brain doesn’t work that way.

You can cram it (force it) to remember some facts, vocabulary, grammar rules, etc., but to do really well on English language tests, you’ll need a deeper knowledge of English.

That can only come in one way: Getting a lot of English “input” through listening and reading.

But the good news is that you *can* influence how quickly you improve!

Do these two things to maximize (get the most from) your time and effort:

1) Listen/read at the right level. To get the full benefits, you need to understand what you are hearing/reading. Shoot for (try for) understanding over 90%.

You will actually slow down your improvement by wasting time listening to and reading English that is way (much) too hard.

2) Listen/read as much and as often as you can. Listen/read on your commute, while you’re doing household chores (housework), exercising, while you brush your teeth.

All of that learning adds up, even if it’s in small chunks (bits; sections).

The more you listen/read, the more you improve, so it’s up to you how quickly your English gets better.

Honestly, it isn’t that complicated (difficult; complex). The more time you spend reading and listening to mostly understandable English, the faster you will improve.

We recently received an email from Edith in Hong Kong and who recently took the IELTS exam. She wrote to tell us that she received a good score!

“Hi, this is Edith from Hong Kong. I used to be a paid member on your website and I listened to your podcasts a lot. It really helped me improve my overall listening and speaking, especially when it comes to learning common expressions and idioms. I found this way of learning new words most effective, even just in a short period of time…This year, I undertook the IELTS test and I got a relatively good result because of your podcast as well as some other online materials 🙂 I would like to recommend your podcasts to those people who are determined to improve their English. Thanks for your help.”

Quite often, we get emails like Edith’s with success stories using ESLPod.com. Some are from students, like Edith, who reached their goal of studying in the U.S.

Some got jobs or better jobs because their English improved.

Some are able to speak English better every day living in the U.S.

Thanks to all of you for telling us about your success! Read more success stories here.

Got a success story yourself? Tell us about it!

Jeff

Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash

 

P.S. Want to start improving your English? Try a FREE 30-minute English lesson.

  • Do you have difficulties remembering the “right” word when speaking in English?
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  • Do you get lost when someone speaks English quickly to you?

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Just fill out the form below and we’ll send a FREE lesson to try!

We hate spam, too! We will never sell, rent, or give your information to anyone – ever!

What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in How to Learn English | Comments Off on Passing Your English Exams (TOEFL & IELTS)

Hot for Teacher’s Grade*

School begins in a few weeks, to the great joy and happiness of parents everywhere.

What does it take (what do you need) to be successful in American schools?

Being successful in an American school requires, as in other schools throughout the world, that you do your homework and study, of course.

But that is certainly not the only thing that helps determine how well you perform in school, at least as measured by your GPA.

GPA stands for “grade point average,” which is the combination of your grades from all of your classes. GPAs usually go from 0.0 (lowest) to 4.0 (highest).**

A 2009 research study found that there are other things that appear to influence teachers in determining student grades besides (in addition to) how well they do on their homework and examinations.

This isn’t too surprising, but what exactly are those things?

The researchers surveyed (asked) more than 20,000 high school students. They asked them to rate (give a grade or points) to each student on three factors (characteristics):

  • their attractiveness (whether they are good looking or not);
  • their grooming habits (whether they brush their hair, dress neatly, etc.); and
  • their overall personality (that is, if they are pleasant to be with, positive, easy to talk to, etc.).

The study found that these three factors did seem to influence student grades, or at least were associated (connected to) their grades.

But the specific factors were different for boys and girls.

For a boy, good grooming was correlated (associated with; related to) an increase in his grade.

Boys who were slovenly (messy, not neat with one’s clothing and hair) got significantly lower grades from teachers.

This was definitely me in school – very slovenly! Now I know why I got a poor grade in differential calculus and advanced physics.

For girls, having a pleasant personality was the most important factor correlated with grades. Good grooming was less important than it was for boys, perhaps because overall girls are more careful in their grooming than boys are.

Perhaps most interesting result in this study of American schools was the finding (a conclusion based upon the data of the study) that very attractive girls actually suffered a slight (small) decrease (drop) in grades because of their beauty.

This may be due to the fact that many teachers think that beautiful girls are somehow not very smart. Unfortunately, the study did not interview teachers to see what they said.

Do you think these three factors – attractiveness, grooming habits, and personality – affect or influence student grades in the schools where you live?

~Jeff

*To be hot for (someone) means to be sexually attracted to him/her. There was a controversial song when I was young called “Hot for Teacher.”

**Some schools now use GPAs higher than 4.0, but we won’t worry about those here.

P.S. Want to start improving your English? Try a FREE 30-minute English lesson.

  • Do you have difficulties remembering the “right” word when speaking in English?
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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on Hot for Teacher’s Grade*

Dear LA: I love you. I hate you.

A few blocks from my house, the owner of a very large house recently painted a message to everyone who drives or walks past (see photo). It reads:

“Dear LA,

I love you. I hate you.

I love you. I hate you.

I love you.”

What does it mean?

I haven’t talked to the homeowners (people who own/have a house) who painted this, but I understand what they are saying.

When you live in a big city like Los Angeles (or anywhere, really), there are things you love about your city and at least a few things you hate.

If you live in a place a long time, you’ll likely love more things than you hate. If you didn’t, you would move to another city.

The homeowners says “I love you” three times, and “I hate you” only twice, so I am assuming that they love LA more than hate it.

What are the things that I love about LA? What things do I hate? Here’s a quick list:

THINGS I LOVE

  1. Great food from all over the world that doesn’t cost too much.
  2. A mix of people, languages, and cultures like few other cities in the world.
  3. The weather.
  4. Enough artistic and cultural sites to keep me busy and interested (but not as many as New York City, I admit).
  5. The constant influx (arrival) of new “Angelenos” (someone living in LA) who come to the city to fulfill (get done) their dreams. It brings the city life and hope.
  6. The weather.

THINGS I HATE

  1. The traffic. There are too many cars (and people) everywhere you go.
  2. Many people’s sense of entitlement, thinking that the rest of the world owes them something, and they should get it.
  3. The city government (a disaster, like California’s state government).
  4. Crime (see #3). It’s much safer in LA now than when I moved here almost 30 years ago, but there are still too many thefts (things stolen) and murders.
  5. The traffic.

So that’s six “loves” and five “hates.” For now, I guess I’ll stay in Los Angeles.

What are things that you love and hate about the city where you live?

~Jeff

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on Dear LA: I love you. I hate you.

What to Say to Someone Traveling

It’s summertime, and that means it’s time for millions of people to take a vacation.

When someone tells you they’re going on a vacation, what do you say to them in English?

Find out in this very short (1 minute!) video:

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Before You Go . . .

Start Improving Your English Again with a FREE 30-Minute English Lesson!

  • Do you have difficulties remembering the “right” word when speaking in English?
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  • Do you get lost when someone speaks English quickly to you?

Then you need to try one of our Unlimited English lessons from ESLPod.com!

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What Will I Learn in My Free Lesson?

Here is just a small part of what you’re going to learn in this free lesson:

  • What “take a rain check” means and how to use it in a conversation . . .
  • The difference between a “recluse” and a “busybody” . . .
  • Why “to fend OFF” means something from “to fend FOR” . . .
  • What it means to “take a rain check,” “keep to yourself,” and “to appoint (someone)” . . .
  • What a social secretary is . . .
  • The best way to use “to sort out” and “to turn down” . . .
  • How to use phrasal verbs like “to settle in” and “to settle down” (they’re not the same!) . . .

And much, much more!

Don’t wait – try it now! It’s’ FREE!

Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on What to Say to Someone Traveling

Summer Vacation is Here. Who Wants to Go Camping?

July and August are traditionally (usually) the most popular months for people to take a vacation.

Some stay in hotels. Some stay with friends. Some rent an apartment or small house.

But many Americans like to take vacation by going camping. In the U.S., that often means traveling in an RV, or recreational vehicle.

An RV is a large vehicle that people can live, cook, and sleep in while they are traveling (see photo).

Some people call these RVs “houses on wheels,” because large RVs have everything that one would find in a house – a bathroom, kitchen, and even a TV!

RVs are expensive to buy and maintain (to keep something in good condition). They also use a lot of gas, but many people like RVs because they’re cheaper than staying in hotels, even after renting them or buying them.

There is a large group of Americans who even choose to travel around in RVs during their retirement (the time in life when older people have stopped working), sometimes living permanently in them.

Some campsites (places where people can stay overnight, usually in tents) have special sections for RVs.

But many with RVs choose to stay in RV parks that are exclusively (only) for RVs. RVs need water and sewage hookups (connections to receive water and get rid of waste water), and RV parks offer these for a small fee.

Even if you’re not going to rent an RV this summer, you can still combine your vacation with learning English. A good way is to listen to some of our lessons about vacations and camping. Start with these:

You can also try watching some popular movies about RVs and long driving vacations.

National Lampoon’s Vacation, for example, is a comedy where the Griswold family goes on vacation driving across the country. They have many problems on their vacation, such as getting lost, having accidents, and running out of money.

Another, more recent movie about RVs is simply called RV.

In this comedy, a family rents (pays money to use something for a short period of time) an RV to go on vacation. They have many problems with the RV, including its brakes (the things that slow down or stop a car) and its water and sewage hookups.

But life isn’t a movie (unless you live here in Los Angeles). Lots of Americans enjoy their time seeing different parts of our vast (huge) country in an RV.

Are RVs popular where you live? Do a lot of people go camping?

Jeff

P.S. Get 1800+ lessons with our Unlimited English Membership. Find out more here.

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Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on Summer Vacation is Here. Who Wants to Go Camping?

Test Your Creative Potential

 

Why are some people more creative (able to think of new and original ideas) than others?

Psychologists have sought (looked for) an answer to this question for many years, with some interesting hypotheses (guesses; theories).

Dean Keith Simonton at the University of California, Davis, is well known in the world of (field of; area of) psychology as the leading (one of the top or best) researchers in this area. Simonton has identified several factors (influences; items) that may influence creativity.

Here are some of those, categorized (classified) by whether they help or hinder (hurt) creativity. See which ones apply to you!

Help: Being born last in the family. Younger members of the family will get to see different kinds of role models (people whose actions and ideas you may want to imitate).

They are exposed to (experience) family conflicts and how they are resolved. These experiences can fuel (increase) original thinking.

Hurt: Being born first in the family. First-born children are more likely to think in conventional ways (traditional or commonly accepted ways).

Help: Taking time off. Taking a break from your work allows your ideas to incubate (develop slowly without interruptions) and gives original ideas a chance to grow.

Hurt: Resistance to change. People who don’t want to change are almost by definition (by that very fact) people who cannot be very creative, since being creative means doing something original and that hasn’t been done before.

Interestingly enough, Simonton found that those who too easily give up on an idea are also less creative. Sometimes we need to continue with an idea even though some of our ideas fail.

Help: Freedom to take risks. It’s hard to be creative if your boss won’t ever let you do anything different. Being able to work on a variety of (mixture of; different) things can help you think in different ways, and thereby (because of that fact) be more creative.

Hurt: Pressure to play it safe. To play it safe means to never take any risks, to always do things that have no possible danger involved. Again, almost by definition, this is something that will make you a less creative person, since creativity means sometimes doing things that might fail or even hurt your chances in the future.

Here’s how I did on this “test.”

  • I’m the youngest of my family, so that is a help.
  • I take frequent breaks from work – so many, my wife doesn’t think I’m actually working at all!
  • I probably “play it safe” on many things, so that hurts me.

How did you do?

~Jeff

P.S. Today’s post was originally a Culture Note from our Daily English #141 lesson. If you want to learn more about American culture and improve your English at the same time, check out our Unlimited English Membership here.

Here are some more lessons that are about creativity or explain the use of that word:

Daily English 312 – Different Work Styles

Daily English 1300 – Diversifying a Workplace

Cultural English 346

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Posted in Life in the United States | Comments Off on Test Your Creative Potential