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Archive for May, 2008

Wednesday - May 28, 2008

ESL Podcast on Your iPhone

iPhoneAs most of you know, you do not need an iPod or an iPhone to listen to ESL Podcast or any other podcast. But if you do have an iPhone or the new iPod Touch, you may be interested in listening to the podcast on your device.

One of our listeners, Orlando, has created a special iPhone version page of ESL Podcast. You can go to this address:

and click on the ESLPod logo.

Thanks to Orlando, who also developed a special Mac widget for ESL Podcast last year. We appreciate your help!


Tuesday - May 27, 2008

ESL Podcast 376 – Asking About Business Hours

Yesterday’s ESL Podcast 376 was about business hours. The store in ESL Podcast 376 has funny (strange) hours, but it’s nothing like this one:


This is actually a novelty (inexpensive toy) sign that you can buy for your business, but if you do, I hope you customers have a good sense of humor!

~ Lucy

Monday - May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

memorialday2.jpgToday is a federal (national) holiday. Memorial day is celebrated the last Monday of May each year and commemorates (remembers and shows respect for) Americans who have died while serving in the military (being soldiers).

This holiday began after the American Civil War (1861-1865) to recognize and remember the more than 620,000 soldiers who died during the four-year war, which was considered the deadliest (causing death) in American history up to that time. After World War I, the holiday was expanded (made bigger) to commemorate all soldiers who died in military service.

To all those who have served and are serving in military service everywhere, we remember and honor you today.

~ Lucy

Thursday - May 22, 2008

21 Accents

This is a video with a woman who imitates 21 different English accents, including British, Irish, Scottish, Australian, and American accents, as well as several European ESL accents. I think her performance is quite impressive. Notice how she changes her facial expression for each accent. Like any good actor, she knows that the sound that comes out of your mouth depends on the role, the character, that you play.


Wednesday - May 21, 2008

English Cafe 138 – Monster Trucks

In English Cafe 138, Jeff talked about monster trucks. If you’ve never seen a monster truck and are having trouble picturing (getting an image in your mind) of what a monster truck looks like, here is a montage (collection of pictures or photos) from a recent monster truck show.

The first truck is exactly like the one Jeff drives to work.

~ Lucy

Tuesday - May 20, 2008

The Wear Sunscreen Speech

Yesterday’s Podcast, ESL Podcast 374, was about a graduation ceremony.graduation_2006.jpg

In 1997, an article by a writer, Mary Schmich, was published in the Chicago Tribune newspaper. It was called, “Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young.” In the writer’s introduction to the article, she said that this was the commencement address or speech she would give if she were ever asked to give one.

This speech became very popular. Many people thought it was clever and funny. In fact, it became so popular, that in 1999, Baz Luhrmann, the well known Australian movie director (of the movie Moulin Rouge) put the speech to music.

Here is the article and the song.

~ Lucy

“Advice, Like Youth, Probably Just Wasted on the Young”
by Mary Schmich

‘Ladies and gentlemen of the class of ’97: Wear sunscreen (lotion to protect you from the sun).

If I could offer you only one tip (piece of advice) for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis (foundation) more reliable than my own meandering (not on a straight path) experience. I will dispense (give) this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they’ve faded (become pale; no longer with bright color). But trust me, in 20 years, you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall (remember) in a way you can’t grasp (understand) now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous (wonderful) you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation (math problem) by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt (likely) to be things that never crossed your worried mind (became a thought in your mind), the kind that blind side (happen to you when you don’t expect it to) you at 4 pm on some idle (not busy) Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don’t be reckless (careless) with other people’s hearts. Don’t put up with (tolerate) people who are reckless with yours.

Floss (clean between your teeth with string).

Don’t waste your time on jealousy (wishing you had/are what other people have/are). Sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long and, in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember compliments (good things other people say about you) you receive. Forget the insults (bad things other people say about you). If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch (make straight your body and muscles, usually before exercise).

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t know.

Get plenty of calcium (a mineral that is good for building strong bones in your body). Be kind to your knees. You’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken (funny looking dance) on your 75th anniversary. Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate (criticize) yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else’s.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they’ll be gone for good (completely; finally).

Be nice to your siblings (brothers and sisters). They’re your best link (connection) to your past and the people most likely to stick (stay) with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious (valuable) few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps (make the distance smaller) in geography (land and people on Earth) and lifestyle (the way you live), because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft.


Accept certain inalienable (cannot be take away) truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander (have love affairs). You, too, will get old. And when you do, you’ll fantasize (dream) that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble (show fine qualities), and children respected their elders (people who are older). Respect your elders. Don’t expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund (amount of money left to you by parents or other wealthy relatives). Maybe you’ll have a wealthy spouse (husband or wife). But you never know when either one might run out (have nothing left; disappear).

Don’t mess too much with your hair or by the time you’re 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia (looking back at good, past times). Dispensing it is a way of fishing (finding and taking out) the past from the disposal (the machine under your sink that cuts up food into small pieces to wash away), wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling (using again) it for more than it’s worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Monday - May 19, 2008

Note from a Listener in China’s Earthquake Area

I received the following email from Huang, one of our listeners who lives in the area affected by the terrible earthquake in China recently. I thought it would be good to share this note with all of you:

Dear Jeff,
I am Huang from the city of Chengdu, Sichuan province, China, near where a terrible earthquake happened. Thank goodness! Because of being in the urban area of Chengdu, my family, my relatives, my friends, and colleagues are fine and safe now, even there still are minor tremors at times.

On the night of May 12th, in order to avoid being hurt by potential minor earthquakes, I had to sleep on the street outside, with many residents in Chengdu, but I could not get any sleep, because I wanted to keep alert and guard my family. How could I kill time during the long night? I had copied some episodes onto my cell phone and at that time your voice also gave me relief. I used my cell phone to receive the radio and listen to your Podcast if there was no new news.

An insomnious night, with the Podcast, I have experienced. I hope all people could be fine and the more people could be rescued from the disaster. God, please bless them!

Also, thanks very much for your good work. I will continue to listen to your great podcasts.

Thanks you, Lucy and Jeff!

Best regards from China,


Lucy, I, and all of us here at ESL Podcast wish the best to those affected by this earthquake, and all of the other recent natural disasters. We especially hope that Huang and his family are well, and thank him for sharing his thoughts with us.


Friday - May 16, 2008

You Want It, You’ve Got It – A Song by the Beatles

A few of you have asked for a Beatles song, but how do you pick one song out of so many great ones?

I looked at the lyrics (words) of some popular hits. “Hey Jude” and “I Saw Her Standing There” have very simple lyrics, so simple that they don’t need explaining. “Come Together” has weird (strange) lyrics that don’t make sense even if you know what each word means. I like “Eleanor Rigby” but it is a little depressing (makes you feel very sad) on a Friday and just a little creepy (makes you feel strange and a little afraid). And “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”? I’m sorry to those who like this song, but I heard it sung to me so many times when I was a kid (child), too many times.

Which one will it be? I picked “Let it Be.” Why? Well, it’s one of my favorites, it has a beautiful melody (main notes in a song), and it has interesting lyrics. “Let it be” means to let something happen. The singer, Paul McCartney, is hoping and wishing that the things he’s singing about will happen. “Let it be” also means to leave something alone, to not worry about or try to change it.

“Mother Mary” is mentioned in the song several times. Many people thought that Paul McCartney, who wrote the song, was referring to the Christian Mary, who was the mother of Jesus. However, Paul said in interviews that he wasn’t writing about that Mary. Instead, many people believe it is his own mother, also named Mary, who died when Paul was 14 years old. He has never confirmed (said for certain) that this is right, so the speculation (guessing) and mystery continues…

~ Lucy

“Let it Be”
by the Beatles

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom (knowledge and good judgment), let it be.
And in my hour of darkness (sad, difficult time in one’s life) she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper (speak very softly) words of wisdom, let it be.

When the broken hearted (sadness because of lost love) people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.
For though they may be parted (separated) there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, (yeah) let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
There will be an answer, let it be.

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light that shines (puts light) on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.
I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
there will be no sorrow (sadness), let it be.

Let it be, let it be, (yeah) let it be, let it be.
There will be no sorrow, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.

Wednesday - May 14, 2008

What’s the difference between…

PigI’m sure that we could all use (would all benefit from) a little joke. A standard (common) form of a joke begins with the question, “What’s the difference between…” Here’s a joke I found on the Internet that uses this formula:

What’s the difference between men and pigs?
Pigs don’t turn into (become) pigs after they drink too much.

The key to this joke is that the word “pig” is both an animal and a term we use for a man who behaves very badly or crudely, especially toward women. If a man drinks too much, he can sometimes begin to act badly, especially toward women.

Here’s another one:

What’s the difference between one yard and two yards?
A fence.

Yard can refer to the area outside of your house, usually with grass. Yard is also a unit of measurement equal to 36 inches (or 91.44 centimeters for the rest of the world). When you first read the question, you think that the person is asking about the unit of measurement, but the answer is about the area around your house. A fence separates the yards of neighbors, and so creates two separate yards.

Are jokes funny if they have to be explained? I don’t know. You tell me!


Wednesday - May 7, 2008

More Good Resources for Improving Your English

As many of you know, California has many immigrants who speak English as a second language. The State of California has developed a special website to help adults learn English online. It is full of short, interesting news stories with additional materials to help you improve your English. These stories are good for both intermediate and advanced students. The site is called the California Distance Learning Project (CDLP).

How to use this site: Warren Ediger, one of the best ESL classroom teachers and online tutors I know, has detailed suggestions on how you can use this site to help improve your English. Warren gives you specific steps on how to make the best use of the articles and stories you will find on the CDLP website.

Warren’s website,, also has other good ideas on learning English through reading, on preparing for the TOEFL, and on some common questions related to English learning and teaching.

Take a look at both the CDLP and today for some good resources.