ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG

Welcome to ESL Podcast Blog


Tuesday - July 29, 2014

Noncompete Clauses

Job_interview_0001People who work for high-tech (using technology) and highly-skilled jobs may be accustomed to (used to) noncompete clauses.  Noncompete clauses are requirements in a person’s employment contract (agreements) stating that he or she will not go work for another similar company for a stipulated (stated) period of time, anywhere from (between) six months to two years or more.

This makes sense for some companies because although physical inventions (new creations) or products stay with the company, the inventor may carry plans and ideas elsewhere. These noncompete clauses are a way for companies to protect their intellectual property, the thinking, mental plans, ideas, and more that went into that invention.

Now, noncompete clauses are being found in other industries (fields; areas of work), including service industries (areas of work that serve customers, not make products). According to a recent news report, yoga instructors (people who teach yoga, a type of exercise), chefs (professional cooks), book editors (people who fix problems, confirm facts, and are responsible for the final version of a text or manuscript to be published), and even camp counselors (people who lead children in activities, children who stay all day or for several days/weeks, often to experience the outdoors during summer vacation).

People who argue against noncompete clauses say that they stifle (stop; limit) innovation (new ideas) and competition, both of which are bad for the economy. Proponents of (people who support) noncompete clauses say they are necessary to protect their investment (money spent on something with the expectation of earning more in the future).

Are there noncompete clauses in the employment contracts of the companies or businesses where you’ve worked? Do you think they are necessary and would you want to sign one?

- Lucy

Photo Credit:  Job interview 0001.jpg from Wikipedia


Sunday - July 27, 2014

Podcasts this Week (July 28, 2014)

Is 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 1020 – Making Verbal Mistakes

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 “delivery” and “to have (something) down cold.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Malapropisms, Spoonerisms, and Mondergreens.”
“Anyone who has done any ‘public speaking’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 461

Topics: The Basics of Basketball; Flea Markets; grass versus herb; delectable versus palatable; be my guest

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Nerf Balls.”
“In 1968, inventor Reyn Guyer started a company called Windsor Concepts that developed new toys and games…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1021 – Mental Disorders

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 “warning sign” and “well-adjusted.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.”
“The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is sometimes called the…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - July 24, 2014

When The Rain Doesn’t Come

History_Great_Depression_Black_Blizzard_SF_still_624x352If you had been driving across California’s Central Valley (low land between mountains) recently, you would have seen a low-lying (just above the ground) cloud on the horizon (where the sky touches the earth).

The cloud stretched (spread out) as far as you could see on both sides of the road. And as you approached (moved closer to) it, you would have discovered that it was a cloud of dust that was being driven (pushed) by a strong wind. It looked similar to the cloud in the photograph, which was taken during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Experiences like this give evidence (signs that show that something exists) that California is experiencing the worst drought in its history. Droughts, which are periods of time when an area does not receive enough water, are not unusual. Many countries and other areas of the U.S. have experienced them.

Droughts like California’s are the result of receiving less rain or snow than usual, often for several years. The annual rainfall (amount of rain received in one year) in California has been much lower than usual for the last three years. Last year, for example, our state capital Sacramento, which usually receives 18.5 inches (470 mm), received only 3.5 inches (88.9 mm). And Los Angeles, which usually receives about 15 inches (385 mm), received only 3.6 inches (91.4 mm).

The situation created by the low rainfall has been made more serious by a small snowpack – the snow that collects in the mountains during the winter. The snowpack is important, because when it melts, the water from it flows into rivers and reservoirs (a lake where water is stored) until it is needed. About one-third (33%) of the water California uses usually comes from the snowpack, but the snowpack at the end of last winter was much smaller – about 85% smaller – than usual.

The drought is a particular problem for farmers in the Central Valley, an important agricultural (farming) area. Farmers there grow tomatoes, almonds, grapes, apricots, asparagus, and other crops (plants used for food) and raise cattle (cows) for milk and meat. A significant (important) part of America’s food crops come from the Central Valley. Now, because of the drought, some of the water needed to grow the crops has been cut off (stopped).

So far (until now), farmers and farm workers have been hit the hardest (affected most negatively). Some farmers are concerned that they will not be able to continue to operate their farms.

All Californians (people who live in California) have been asked to voluntarily (because they want to) use 20% less water than usual. And the state recently announced a fine (money you pay for breaking a law) of $500 for wasting water – for example by watering your lawn more than twice a week or washing your sidewalk or driveway. If the drought gets worse, stricter (more difficult) laws may be needed.

While we try to preserve (save) as much water as we can, we wait and hope for more rain and snow next year. And we are hopeful, because meteorologists (weather scientists) believe that we may have an El Niño year (a year with more precipitation (rain and snow) than usual) next year.

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

Photo courtesy of History.com.


Tuesday - July 22, 2014

Not All Hobbies are Created Equal

800px-Gee's_Bend_quilting_beeAs people get older, one of their biggest concerns is the loss of memory, of not being able to remember things. Most people know that keeping active is important, but not all activities are created equal (are the same; have the same results).

In a recent study about memory, groups of older adults learned new skills, either 1) quilting, a type of sewing activity where different pieces of fabric are sewn together to make a thick blanket called a quilt–see photo); or 2) digital photography, taking photos with a digital (electronic; using a small computer) camera.

The participants took memory tests before and after they learned these new skills, and their results were compared to other groups who had participated in enjoyable social or leisure (free time) activities, such as watching movies, listening to music, and playing easy games, but that did not involve learning new skills.

After three months of doing these activities for over 15 hours a week, the group that learned digital photography made the most improvement in the memory tests, perhaps because it was the more difficult of the new skills. It not only involved learning to use a digital camera, but also involved learning the photography software Photoshop and, for some, using a computer, since some of the participants had never used a computer before.

The psychologists (researchers studying the mind) who conducted the study believe that learning new skills helps to strengthen the connections in the brain. Learning new skills is better, they believe, than the games and computer programs marketed (sold) to older adults these days that tout (say is a benefit) improvement in memory.  They say that those commercial (sold to customers) games only improve short-term (recent) memory to a small degree (a little bit), but learning new skills — such as learning a new hobby — helps to strengthen connections in larger portions (areas; sections) of the brain.

In the past 30 years or so, there have been many media (news) reports about the benefits of keeping active as we get older. Physical exercise is important and so, it seems, is exercising the mind. Picking activities that challenge (present problems and difficulties to solve) the mind garners (gets) the greatest benefits.

If you’re an older adult, do you have hobbies that challenge your mind? If you’re younger, what new skills would you like to learn when you retire and have more time?

- Lucy

Photo Credit:  Gee’s Bend quilting bee from Wikipedia


Sunday - July 20, 2014

Podcasts this Week (July 21, 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 1018 – Raising Teenagers

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 “piercing” and “to ease up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “After-School Programs.”
“Many ‘school districts’ (groups of schools in the same area that have the same management) offer…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 460

Topics: American Musicals and Movies - Grease; Workers’ Compensation Laws; whirl versus swirl versus eddy; to be curious versus to wonder; beloved

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Greasers.”
“There are many ‘subculture’ (smaller cultural or social) groups in every country …” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1019 – Losing a Passport While Traveling

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 flag down” and “left behind.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program.”
“The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) is a program of the ‘U.S. Department of State’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - July 15, 2014

How to Marry a Beautiful Woman (Half Your Age)

640px-Cranach_Ill-matched_coupleIf you walk — actually, you’d more likely drive — around Los Angeles, you’ll notice one thing: a lot of successful and wealthy-looking older men with beautiful young women.

No, that’s not his daughter. It’s probably his girlfriend or trophy wife.

A “trophy” is a statue or cup, often made of metal or heavy stone, used as a prize in a contest. If you are the winner, you can show other people your shiny (bright; reflecting light) trophy for them to admire. A trophy wife is a wife whom a man marries as a sign of his success, a beautiful decoration more than a partner in life.

This is true everywhere, right? Successful men marry trophy wives, right?

Not according to a recent study looking at how couples are matched across the United States. By looking at a nationally-representative sample (smaller group that reflects the characters of a larger group or population), a researcher at the University of Notre Dame found that attractive women didn’t mainly (usually) marry wealthy men. Instead they choose attractive men. Overall, she found that attractive men married attractive women, and successful men married successful women.

But how do you account for (explain) all of those successful men with beautiful wives?

The researcher, Elizabeth A. McClintock, concluded (said based her results): [O]n average (generally), high-status men do have better-looking wives, but this is because they themselves are considered better looking — perhaps because they are less likely to be overweight (fat) and more likely to afford (have enough money for) braces (devices put on teeth to straighten them over time), nice clothes, and trips to the dermatologist (skin doctor), etc.”

You often hear people say that Hollywood (the TV and movie business) is out of touch with (not having the knowledge or understanding about) regular people in the rest of the country. For evidence of this, you don’t have to look far to find trophy wives on TV or in films.

So instead of reflecting life in the U.S., Hollywood may simply show what life is like in — well — Hollywood!

- Jeff

Image photo: from Wikipedia 


Sunday - July 13, 2014

Podcasts this Week (July 14, 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 1016 – Doing Pro Bono Work

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 “firm” and “to fall short.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Law Students in Action Project.”
“The Law Students in Action Project (LSAP) is an organized ‘effort’…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 459

Topics: The Scottsboro Boys Trial; The Grammy Awards; so versus too; to bash; to whip the crowd into a frenzy

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Latin Grammy Awards.”
“Each year, millions of Americans watch the Grammy awards on television….” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1017 – Driving an Off-Road Vehicle

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 picture” and “baby.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Mud Bogging.”
“‘Mud bogging,’ which is also known as ‘mud racing,’ ‘mud running,’ and simply ‘running,’ is a sport that…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Thursday - July 10, 2014

Wally Byam’s Airstream Trailer

Airstream-parkIt’s summertime. Vacation time for most people. And for many Americans, RV time.

There are close to 10 million recreational (an activity done for enjoyment) vehicles, or RVs, in the U.S. RVs are motor vehicles or trailers (a vehicle pulled by another vehicle) with living space and some of the amenities (useful or desirable things) that you enjoy in your apartment or house.

Some RVs are as big as a bus. They have their own motor, a kitchen, bathroom, bedrooms, and many other conveniences (things that make life easy). Others are small enough to pull behind a motorcycle, with only enough space for one or two sleeping bags and supplies for outdoor living.

Most RVs are used for vacations and camping (to visit an area and, usually, stay outdoors). When they’re not on the road (driving) you’ll usually find them in RV parks (places where people with RVs can stay overnight or longer) and campgrounds (places for staying overnight outdoors).

No RV has become more a part of Americana (things associated with American history or culture) than the Airstream travel trailer created by Wally Byam. In 1931, Byam dreamed about making a “travel trailer that would move like a stream (smooth, steady movement) of air, be light (not heavy) enough to be towed (pulled) by a car, and create first-class (the best kind) accommodations (a place to stay or live) anywhere.”

Byam began to bring his dream to life in 1931 when he opened his first factory in California. Travel trailers were becoming popular and demand (need or desire for something) grew quickly in spite of (wasn’t affected by) the Great Depression (serious economic problems during the 1930s). World War II interrupted (stopped for a time) the growth of the travel trailer industry, and Byam and many of his employees went to work in aircraft factories in California.

When the Airstream factory reopened (opened again after being closed) after World War II, Byam applied (used) many of the things he had learned from making airplanes to the design and manufacture of the sleek (with a smooth attractive shape), streamlined (shaped to move easily through the air), silver travel trailers Airstream is known for.

A few years after the war, Byam and his friend Neil traveled across Europe in one of his Airstream trailers. That experience gave Byam a new dream and opened the door to (led to; resulted in) a new chapter (part) in the Airstream story.

In 1951, Byam used the Los Angeles Times newspaper to invite other travel-trailer lovers to join him in a caravan (a group of people or vehicles that travel together) from Texas in the U.S. to Nicaragua in Central America. He hoped for 35. He got 63. Unfortunately, only 14 finished the trip. The rest dropped out (stopped doing something) because of bad roads, bad weather, and mechanical problems.

Byam died of cancer in 1962, but his dreams didn’t. Airstream continued to design and make travel trailers that were ahead of the times (advanced). And his dream of helping people enjoy the travel experience continued to grow, thanks to the Wally Byam Caravan Club International, which he started in the 1950s. Especially during the 1970s and 80s, Airstream and the Club held many rallies (large public meeting) and caravans around the world.

Airstream is 80 years old now, and the Caravan Club is 55 years old. Both of them continue to help Americans and people around the world experience and enjoy the dream Wally Byam had so many years ago.

Note: Historical Airstream information was taken from the Airstream web site, where you can learn more and see photos of Airstream travel trailers.

~ 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.

Photo of Airstream travel trailers courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

 


Tuesday - July 8, 2014

Paid to be a Quitter

800px-FEMA_-_37931_-_Meals_Ready_to_Eat_being_moved_by_fork_lift_in_a_Texas_warehouseCompanies that are looking to (wanting to) reduce their workforce (number of employees) will sometimes offer people who are close to retirement (age when people typically stop working, traditionally 65-years-old) something called a “golden parachute.” A “parachute” is something you wear on your back that opens when you jump out of an airplane to slow and soften your landing on the ground. In the old days, when people retired, they were given a gold watch.

A golden parachute, then, is a large payment with perhaps other compensation (something worth money given for work done) that is given as an incentive (enticement; something that makes you want to do something) to quit early. With that extra money, your transition (change from one situation to another) to retirement will be easier.

But how would you like to be paid to quit your job now, even if you’re not close to retirement age? That’s what Amazon.com is doing. It’s offering employees in their fulfillment warehouses (large storage places where orders are prepared for shipping) up to $5,000 to quit their jobs if they are not happy.

The program is called “Pay to Quit” and is offered once a year.  If you quit after the first year, you get $2,000 and that figure (number) increases by $1,000 each year until it tops out at (reaches the maximum or highest number) $5,000.

Why would Amazon pay people to quit? Amazon says that workers who are unhappy and dissatisfied with their jobs cost the company money. They have lower productivity (how much work is done in a given (specific) period of time) and they don’t help to create a good working environment.

Two other large companies have tried this same strategy (plan): Netflix, a large video company, and Zappos, a large online shoe company. All three companies made their decisions based on the data (information) available and have concluded (decided) that having a workforce (all workers for one business or organization) of people who want to be there and who are enthusiastic (happy and excited) to work for the company is worth the expense (money paid) of paying unhappy or disgruntled (unhappy and complaining) people to quit.

Are you in a job you don’t like? The top amount of $5,000 isn’t a lot, but it might help you make the transition to a new job. If you were offered this golden parachute now, would you take it?

- Lucy

Photo Credit: FEMA – 37931 from Wikipedia


Sunday - July 6, 2014

Podcasts This Week (July 7, 2014)

Is 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 1014 – Becoming a Spy

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 live a double life” and “for (one’s) cover to be blown.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Extraordinary Rendition.”
“‘Extraordinary rendition’ is the practice of ‘apprehending’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 458

Topics: Miranda v. Arizona; Famous Americans – Rube Goldberg; to heal versus to cure; to give up versus to give in; no way

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Garrity and Kalkines Warnings.”
“Although you may have heard of the Miranda warning in television shows and movies, you may not be aware of two other warnings…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1015 – Conducting a Search

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 report in” and “don’t look now.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The FBI Victims Identification Project and The Charley Project.”
“The FBI Victims Identification Project, sometimes referred to as ‘VICTIMS’ is a research project…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide