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Tuesday - January 27, 2015

What Did You Learn From Your First Job?

first-jobRemember your first job? I do. And I remember learning something very important from it.

I got my first “real” job when I left home after high school to go to college. My parents couldn’t afford (didn’t have enough money) to help me, so I worked my way through college (paid for my education by working).

I went to class in the morning and, occasionally, in the evening. Every afternoon I went to work in a small manufacturing company where I was responsible for the mail room.

I did the things you might expect. I went around to all the offices, picked up the day’s outgoing (being sent) mail, and made sure it was ready to be picked up by the mail truck. After the incoming (received) mail was delivered, I distributed (took it around) it to each of the offices.

Most of my time, however, was spent preparing the day’s promotional (advertising) mail. Each salesman scheduled multiple (more than one) mailings to each of their customers. For example, they would send one promotional piece the first month, a different one the second month, and so on.

Every day I would take the envelopes for that day from a large file cabinet. I put the appropriate promotional pieces into the envelopes, put postage (money charged for sending a letter) on them, sorted (organized in groups) them according to their destinations (where they were going), and put them into large mailbags.

The flow (smooth steady movement) of mail was important to the company. And I was responsible to see that the flow was not interrupted (stopped).

Several weeks before Christmas, I went to see the office manager, to tell him that I would be gone for the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. We didn’t have school during the holidays, and I planned to spend them with my family.

George invited me to come into his office and sit down across the desk from him. He listened attentively (thoughtfully) to what I had to say. When I finished, he was quiet for a short time and then asked, “Where do you plan to work when you return after the holidays?”

I must have looked puzzled (confused), so George explained. “You may get time off during the holidays, but we don’t. Our work continues. If you leave, I’ll have to hire someone to take your place. I can’t do that and then ask him or her to leave when you come back. So you need to decide if you want to continue to work here.”

Happily, George and I were able to work out a compromise (a different way to solve the problem). I worked until the day before Christmas, took the train home so I could enjoy Christmas with my family, and returned to work a day or two after Christmas.

George taught me an important lesson: when you are given a job, you are responsible to do that job. You’re a part of a team, and when the team works, you work. You can’t come and go whenever you want to.

What did you learn from your first job?

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

Today’s photo comes from www.definitelyfilipino.com.

 


Sunday - January 25, 2015

Podcasts This Week (January 26, 2015)

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

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

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1072 -Working Part-Time Jobs

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 “shift” and “to qualify for.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Part-Time Worker Bill of Rights Act of 2013.”
“In February 2013, Janice ‘Jan’ Schakowsky, a U.S. Representative for Illinois, ‘introduced’ …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 487

Topics: The Lenny Bruce Trial; American Cancer Society; to assume versus to guess; turtle versus tortoise

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Yellow Ribbon.”
“In the U.S., the yellow ribbon has become a ‘symbol’ (sign) of support for someone who is ‘absent’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1073 – Seeking Asylum

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 “urge” and “to follow-through.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Extradition Treaties.”
“‘Extradition’ is the process of one country transferring a ‘criminal’ (a person who has committed a crime and broken the law)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - January 20, 2015

We’re OK, A-OK.

1024px-OK-button_-_Macro_photography_of_a_remote_controlOne of the most useful words you can learn in English is “OK” (also spelled “okay”). It can be used for many things.

It is probably used most often to mean agreement – that you agree with someone:

Jeff: Let’s leave work early today and not tell the boss.
Lucy: OK!

It’s also used to acknowledge that you heard or understood something:

Jeff: We’ll need to record 60 more scripts before the end of the day.
Lucy: OK.

In one of its most confusing usages, OK can indicate the quality of something. It can be used to mean that something is good enough or acceptable.

Lucy: This cheese is old, but there isn’t much mold (furry green and black stuff that grows on old food) on it. I think it’s OK to eat.
Jeff: I think I’m going somewhere else for lunch.

Or, in contrast, it is used to say that something is just so-so or not very good in quality, something mediocre. When used in this way, we often include the word “just” before it.

Lucy: What do you think of my singing?
Jeff: It’s just OK. You might consider taking up (starting as a hobby) dance instead.

There are even more ways to use OK, but these are perhaps the most common.

Considering how much Americans rely on the word “OK,” it’s surprising how much disagreement there is on its origin (where it came from). In fact, there are many theories (explanations or guesses based on information), and some people think we still don’t know. But one man spent many years trying to find out and thought he found the answer.

Allen Read, who died in 2002, was an English professor at Columbia University in New York City. He studied the English language for over 30 years, and while he wrote and published several books and many articles about many different aspects of American English, he always returned to the question of where “OK” got its start.

Some people believed that the term OK came from the name of a brand of cracker (thin, crisp food usually eaten with cheese or other foods) the U.S. government supplied (gave) to the Union or northern soldiers during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Others believed that it came from the name of a key (something you press on a machine so something will happen) – called an “Open Key” – on a telegraph machine, a machine used in the old days to send messages through wire. Both of these explanations were possible, in Read’s view, but then he came across (found) an even earlier mention of OK.

In an 1839 Boston newspaper, Morning Post, Read saw a satirical article about bad spelling. (Satire is the use of humor to show people’s mistakes or stupidity). “OK” was used in the phrase “Oll Korrect,” a misspelling of “All Correct.” Read believed that he had found the first use of OK and published an article in 1964 about his discovery.

Incidentally (in addition, although it is not directly related to what I’ve just said), you may also hear the term “A-OK.” A-OK means everything is fine, conditions are good, or there are no problems. This version of OK was first used by people involved in the space program (program for space travel), but became more generally used over time. Today, while it’s not very common in daily conversation, you may still hear it used occasionally.

OK, that’s all I have to say about “OK.” I hope that was an OK explanation and that you’re all A-OK!

– Lucy

Photo Credit: from Wikipedia


Sunday - January 18, 2015

Podcasts This Week (January 19, 2015)

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

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1070 – Getting a Mortgage Loan

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 lock in” and “to point.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Foreclosure Process.”
“When homeowners are not able to ‘make’ (pay) their monthly mortgage payments…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 486

Topics: Ask an American – Independent Bookstores; ever since versus ever after; varied versus various; ability versus skill

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Niche Bookstores.”
“Many people believe that the most important thing for ‘survival’ (ability to continue existing without going out of business)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1071 – Waiting for Drug Approval

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 “drug” and “alone.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Off-Label Use of Medication.”
“In the United States, there are  two types of medications: ‘over-the-counter’ (OTC) drugs…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - January 13, 2015

Triple Crowns

9499112866_17a04795bc_zWho is the best? Or, at the end of the year or end of the season (the time of the year that a particular activity takes place), who was the best?

Sports commentators (someone who knows a lot about something and writes about it or discusses it) spend hours answering these questions every year. And so do the fans, the people who follow the sports.

I enjoy sports, but in general (usually), I don’t care who is or was the best. However, there is one honor (a special title given to someone who accomplishes something) – the Triple Crown – that always catches my attention because it’s a way of saying that someone was the best of the best.

Triple Crown is a term (word or expression with a particular meaning) for winning or completing the three most difficult or important events of something, such as a sport. The idea first appeared in the 19th century (1800s) England in the sport of horse racing. Since then it has spread to other countries and other sports and activities.

In the U.S., we have three well-known Triple Crowns. The Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing is a series of races for three-year-old horses. A thoroughbred is a horse breed (kind) used in racing.

The first race, the Kentucky Derby, is run on the first Saturday in May in the state of Kentucky. Two weeks later the Preakness Stakes is run in Maryland. And three weeks after that, the Belmont Stakes is run in New York. Three races in five weeks and travel in between!

More than 4,000 horses have run in the three Triple Crown races. Fifty-two have won two of the three races. But only 11 horses have won the Triple Crown, and no horse has won it since 1978. Thanks to the 2010 movie about him, Secretariat is probably the most famous Triple Crown winner.

Major league baseball (the teams that make up the highest level of American professional baseball) has two Triple Crowns. One is given to a batter (player who hits the ball) if he is the best in three categories (areas):

  • Batting average – He hits the baseball a higher percentage (%) of the time than any other player.
  • Home runs – He hits the baseball out of the park (over the fence) more than any other player.
  • RBIs, or runs batted in – the number of times players score a run (point) when he hits the ball.

The first batting Triple Crown was won in 1878. Since then only 16 other players have won the award, most recently in 2012.

The second baseball Triple Crown is awarded (given as a result of winning) to a pitcher (players who throw the ball to batters). To win the pitching Triple Crown, a pitcher must:

  • Win the most games.
  • Strike out the most batters (keep them from hitting the ball).
  • Allow the fewest runs (scores or points) per game.

Thirty-eight players have won the pitching Triple Crown, including eight since 1997. Clayton Kershaw, a player for the Los Angeles Dodgers, won it in 2011.

I’m curious: do you have any Triple Crowns in your country? Some Triple Crowns, like in cycling (bicycle racing), are international.

Note: If you’re not familiar with baseball and would like to learn more, read my blog post, The Knuckleballer or Jeff’s blog post, Pinch-Hit Grand Slam.

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

Photo (modified) by Cesar Sangalang used under Creative Commons license.

 

 

 


Sunday - January 11, 2015

Podcasts This Week (January 12, 2015)

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

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1068 – An Expiring Business Lease

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 bring (something) up” and “to stew.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Lease Provisions.”
“Most ‘commercial leases’ (rental agreements for businesses) contain many ‘provisions’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 485 

Topics: Famous Americans – Charles and Ray Eames; The Black Fives Leagues and The Negro Baseball Leagues; inner and outer versus inside and outside; severely versus seriously

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about  “The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame and the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.”
“The Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame ‘honors’ (gives recognition and respect to) basketball players…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1069 – Disinheriting a Child

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 “rash” and “will.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The U.S. Probate Process.”
“In the United States, ‘probate’ is the legal process that officially recognizes a will and ‘appoints’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - January 6, 2015

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, My True Love Gave To Me

XRF_12daysIn the U.S., you start to hear Christmas music played on the radio after the late November holiday of Thanksgiving, and you continue to hear it all the way through the month of December. By New Year’s Day, the radio stations stop playing Christmas music. For most people, Christmas is “over,” finished. Time to get back to work!

But traditionally (and still in other countries around the world), the celebration of Christmas begins on December 25th, and doesn’t end until January 6th. January 6th is celebrated under different names depending on the culture and particular Christian group you’re in, but most people who know about it in the U.S. associate it with the “Three Kings” or “Three Wise Men” or “Epiphany” (for the story, see here).

There’s a popular song called the “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which some Americans think refers to the 12 days before Christmas, when in fact it refers to the 12 days after Christmas – that is, from Christmas to the celebration of the Epiphany. The song is about gifts that your “true love” (your boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse (husband or wife)) gives to you. Each day you get a different gift, starting with one of something, then two of something, then three of something, and so forth.

Most people (including me) can remember the first five verses (sections) of the song, corresponding to (relating to) the first five days of Christmas, but can’t remember the rest of the verses. So below are the “gifts” for all 12 days and an explanation of them.

If you are not familiar with the song, you’ll want to watch a video of it also (see below).

Here then are the 12 gifts (look at the image above also to help you):

  • A partridge in a pear tree – a partridge is a kind of bird, and a pear is a type of fruit
  • Two turtle dovesturtle doves are another kind of bird
  • Three French hens – also called Faverolles, they’re a type of chicken
  • Four calling birds – also called a songbird for the noise they make
  • Five golden rings – a ring is what you wear on your finger as jewelry
  • Six geese a-layinggeese are (of course) birds, and “a-laying” is another way of saying that they are producing eggs (the “a” in front of the gerund “laying” is an Old English way of indicating the present progressive, so “a-laying” would be “is/are laying”)
  • Seven swans a-swimmingswans are beautiful birds related to ducks and geese
  • Eight maids a-milking – a milkmaid is a girl or woman who works getting milk (white liquid) from a cow (maid is an old word for a young, usually unmarried woman)
  • Nine ladies dancing – a lady can refer to a woman, but an older use of the word refers especially to a woman of authority, power, and wealth (lots of money) (I’m pretty sure my wife would never give this gift to me.)
  • Ten lords a-leaping – a lord is an older term for a man of power and wealth, often the owner of a large house and a lot of land; to leap means to jump
  • Eleven pipers piping – a piper is someone who plays a musical instrument such as a bagpipe; to pipe is the verb used to refer to playing a bagpipe or other similar instrument
  • Twelve drummers drumming – a drummer plays a drum, a musical instrument that requires that you hit it to make a sound; to drum refers to playing that instrument.

To really appreciate the song, you have to listen to it. Here is a video with the music and images of the different gifts.

Do you have this song in your language (or a similar version)? Has anyone ever given you seven swans a-swimming or ten lords a-leaping?

~Jeff

Image Credit: “XRF 12days” by Xavier Romero-Frias

 

 


Sunday - January 4, 2015

Podcasts This Week (January 5, 2015)

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

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

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1066 – Buying a Luxury Car

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 “remote” and “lot.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Popular Car Ornaments.”
“Many people like to ‘accessorize’ (decorate with extra, unnecessary objects that are attractive)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 484

Topics: American Movies – Sunset Boulevard; the Borscht Belt and the Chitlin’ Circuit; renumeration/remuneration versus reimbursement versus kickback; to print off (copies) versus to photocopy; nitty-gritty

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Sunset Strip.”
“The Sunset Strip is a mile and a half ‘stretch’ (length) of road located on Sunset Boulevard…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1067 – Major Dental 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 “to be set up” and “to act as.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Anatomy of Teeth.”
“People who study human ‘anatomy’ (science related to the structures of a body or organism)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 30, 2014

Toasting the New Year

220px-San_Diego_FireworksIt’s nearly here. The year 2014 is coming to a close (end) and we’re getting ready to welcome 2015. At parties and get-togethers (informal social events) this week, we’ll be hearing a lot of people ringing in (welcoming) the new year with a toast.

We’re all familiar with toasts. When we’re at a celebration, such as a wedding reception (party after the marriage ceremony), people offer a few words of good wishes, asking the guests to raise (lift up) their glasses in celebration. Most toasts begin with the word “May,” as in “May the newly married couple live a happy and long life together.”  “May,” in this case, expresses our wish or hope that something will happen.

It is also common to begin a toast with Here’s to, as in “Here’s to all of the people who helped us make this event a success” or “Here’s to ten more years of our company’s success.”  In this case, “Here’s to” means “I’m offering these words or wishes to [something or someone].”

And on New Year’s Eve, the day before the first day of 2015, many people will be offering toasts to each other, wishing good things for their friends and family. Since you are all part of the ESL Podcast family, I thought I’d present a few toasts to you.

May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.
~Joey Adams

Joey Adams was an American comedian (person whose job is make you laugh) and writer. He was born in 1911 in New York. He wrote for newspapers, published 23 books, and had a long career in comedy.

Your troubles are your problems, the things that bother you or that cause you problems. Resolutions are the promises we make to ourselves to do things differently or better in the future. We all make New Year resolutions, and as Joey Adams points out, we don’t always keep them for very long.

Here’s to being single, drinking doubles, and seeing triple.
~Irish toast

This is a traditional toast from Ireland.

Being single means to not be married and to not have a girlfriend or boyfriend. If an alcoholic drink is a double, it contains more alcohol than a regular drink, which we do not call a “single.” (It’s just called a regular drink.) Sometimes a “double” has twice (two times) the alcohol than in a normal drink, and sometimes it’s just a little more alcohol than usual. It depends on the bar, the place serving the drink.

When we’re under the influence of (have drunk or have taken) alcohol or drugs, our vision or sight is often not very clear. We call this seeing double. This toast mentions “seeing triple,” with triple meaning three times, so this is just a joke meaning that the person offering the toast hopes you’re having so much fun that you see a lot of strange things.


May your troubles be less and your blessings be more and nothing but happiness come through your door.

~Irish toast

Finally, this is another traditional toast from Ireland. I won’t say anything about the Irish and drinking, but I think we all know where our favorite Irish American podcaster gets his gift of gab (ability to speak easily and well).

We’ve already talked about “troubles.” Blessings are the exact opposite. “Blessings” are the good things in our lives that we feel grateful for or happy about. Some people may consider their children or good friends a blessing. In some religions, a “blessing” also refers to God’s protection and help, so someone might say, “I hope that our new project has God’s blessing.”

And now my own toast to you:

May you all improve your English faster than you thought possible, speak like native English speakers, and not care if you don’t.

On behalf of (representing) all of us here at ESL Podcast, have a happy New Year and a wonderful 2015!

– Lucy

Photo Credit:  From Wikipedia


Sunday - December 28, 2014

Podcasts This Week (December 29, 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 1064 – Spotting Trends

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 spot” and “to lag behind.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Terms Stores Use for Different Categories of Clothing.”
“In many ‘department stores’ (large stores that sell clothing, footwear, accessories, makeup, and household items)…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 483

Topics: American Presidents – William Howard Taft; deprecated versus obsolete versus outdated; to insist versus to persist; to set (one’s) jaw square

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Taft Broadcasting.”
“Taft Broadcasting Company was an American media ‘conglomerate’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1065 – Making Soups and Stews

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 “lid” and “pot.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Stone Soup.”
“‘Stone Soup’ is a ‘folk story’ (an old story that is shared among many generations, especially orally)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide