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Archive for September, 2008

Friday - September 26, 2008

Thank you!

Just a short note of thanks to all of you who emailed and posted comments on our third anniversary video and on Lucy’s post about my birthday. All of us here at ESL Podcast thank you for your kind comments and expressions of appreciation.

I am especially thankful to have received such nice comments on my 29th birthday. (I think that’s right – does 29 come after 44?)

Thank you again for all of your support!


Wednesday - September 24, 2008

Happy Birthday, Jeff!

Today is Dr. Jeff McQuillan’s birthday! If you’ve been a longtime listener, you know how old he is (but I won’t tell).

Here at ESL Podcast, we wish him the very best for this special day. It’s hard to know what birthday present (gift) to get him–let me know if you have suggestions. In the meantime, join me in wishing Jeff a very happy birthday!

~ Lucy


Tuesday - September 23, 2008

Third Anniversary Video

It’s finally here – our Third Anniversary Video! Thanks to all of you who posted questions for us to answer on the video. We’re sorry we didn’t have time to answer them all. We had some technical difficulties so it took us a little longer to get the video ready. (Our actual anniversary was July 22nd, so we’re a little behind!)

The complete transcript for the video is below. Thanks to all of you for listening!

~ESL Podcast Team

Jeff: Hello and welcome to ESL Podcast’s third anniversary video podcast. We are now three years old, and as we do every year we are recording a short video podcast for you. This year, we asked you to send us some questions to answer, and in this podcast I and Lucy will be answering some of your questions.So, the first question is: “How did the podcast get started?” Well, back in the spring of 2005, three years ago, I read about podcasting in the newspaper and I decided to investigate it and learn about it. It sounded very interesting, a very good way to reach many people directly, and I wanted to do some more English teaching over the Internet. And on July 22nd, 2005 we had our first ESL Podcast episode, and here we are three years later.The podcast originally was done by me during the first week or two, and then Dr. Lucy Tse came and started writing the scripts and helping produce the podcast, and basically making it more professional, and Lucy and I now work together as a team to do that.We also have other people that help us now with the podcast in different ways. Adriano, our webmaster, is an excellent technical person, and he helps us with all of the website information that we need. We have Jessica, who does a lot of our writing, especially for the Learning Guides, and she also now does some customer service. She helps us with our communications with you, the listener. And we also have Sue, who does what we call postproduction. She does all of the editing and putting the audio together and making sure everything sounds good, and she also does some video editing. So, Sue is an expert in many things. And, we are very lucky to have someone as talented as Adriano, someone as smart and as creative as Jessica, and someone who’s such an expert in all things technical, that being Sue.

Next question is: “How did we think people would receive the podcast? Did we think it would be a success?” And the answer is absolutely not. We were very surprised, shocked when we got 100 listeners, and then 500 listeners, and soon after 1,000 listeners. Now we have thousands and thousands of listeners all over the world, and we are very happy but very surprised, and we have always been surprised by that.

Someone asked: “How long does it take to record and produce the podcast?” Well, if you start from the writing of the script, which Lucy does, and the Learning Guides, and recording, and the editing, and the web work, and all the rest, it’s probably a total time for all of us together of somewhere between 10 and 12 hours per episode – each episode. So, we do three episodes a week plus we do special courses, so it’s – it’s a very big job, but we love doing it. We really enjoy it.

Someone was commenting on my reading of the scripts and wanted to know if I had an acting career – if I was an actor. Well, I live here in Hollywood, in Los Angeles, and actually I was an actor many years ago, more than 20 years ago. I was in a movie, you may have heard of it, called Star Wars with Harrison Ford. Harrison’s a great guy! I was the character called Chewbacca, who was the big gorilla with all the hair all over his body. That was me! And unfortunately, as you can see no more hair, so no more acting jobs for me.

When did Lucy and I first meet? Well, Lucy and I met more than 15 years ago. We met in graduate school. We were both studying here in Southern California and we met at, I think, the first class we had together. We were studying the similar subject. We also worked in the same building, teaching English to international students at the university. So we’ve known each other for a very long time.

Now, some of you have also asked questions of Lucy, and many of you wanted to see what Lucy looks like. So, I’m going to invite Lucy. Lucy, would you like to come and sit down?

Lucy: Sure. Hi Jeff. Hi everybody.

Jeff: Hi Lucy. Thank you for coming.

Lucy: Um…Jeff, you’re the tech expert, but are you sure the camera is on both of us?

Jeff: Yeah, let me see here. Yup, there it is. It’s there, it’s there.

Lucy: Okay. Some of you asked questions of me as well, so I’ll answer a few of those. One of you wanted to know how I came up with the script ideas for the podcast.

To me, the scripts are just a small part of the podcast, really. Jeff does all of the hard work. Coming up with the script ideas isn’t that difficult. I try to think of situations that are common or that may be helpful, and then I write a script around that. Some of the script ideas are sent to us from the listeners, like you, and I want to thank all of you for your suggestions. Those are very, very helpful to me. For me, writing the scripts is one of the best parts of my job; it’s really fun to do.

Another question is: “What is it like working with Jeff?” As Jeff said, we have known each other for many, many years. In the old days, when we were graduate students and then later as professors, we worked with each other quite a lot doing research and doing writing projects. We both have strong opinions, but since Jeff has all the good ideas, and he’s always right, it’s great working with him. There’s a saying: “What you see is what you get.” Jeff, on the podcast, is the way he is in real life. He’s very funny, and he sings just as well as he does on the podcast. I know, because my office is right next to his!

And the last question we’re going to be answering is for both of us. A listener wanted to know if we get tired of doing the podcast. What about you, Jeff?

Jeff: No, I don’t get tired of doing the podcast. I love doing the podcast. I love doing the recording and all of the other things. So no, I have not and do not get tired of the podcast.

Lucy: Me, neither. I like the creative part of it, thinking of new ideas, the writing part of it, and I love hearing from our listeners. So, I can imagine doing this for the next…oh…20 years. Right Jeff?

Jeff: 20? 20 years?

Lucy: 20 years.

Jeff: Um…sure, yeah! 20 years, absolutely.

Lucy: Yeah.

Jeff: Mmhmm.

Lucy: I think we’re out of time. Like Jeff, I want to thank all of our fabulous listeners for their support, especially our members and our donors who make it possible for us to continue our work and allow us to continue producing these podcasts. So, Jeff, would you like to do a little singing for us before we leave?

Jeff: Well…uh…I would. Thank you, Lucy, for asking me. And I want to thank Lucy Tse, here, for coming on, and especially for being on camera like this, and so people can see you. I think that’s really important.

Lucy: Now that everyone sees what I look like, there’s no mystery anymore.

Jeff: Right. You’ll be recognized everywhere now. So…um…now I would like to sing, but my [clears throat] my voice is a little sore today. So, I promise I will do more singing, though, on the regular podcast.

So, from Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan…

Lucy: And I’m Lucy Tse.

Jeff: And we thank you for watching.

Thursday - September 18, 2008

Facebook, MySpace, and Your Next Job

DrinkingMany people have pages on websites such as Facebook and MySpace.  Even I have a page on Facebook (just search for “Jeff McQuillan” and then you can add me as your “friend”)!  These sites allow you to share information and to learn about what your real and virtual (over the Internet) friends are doing.  The sites also allow you to post pictures of yourself and your friends.  That’s where the problems begin.

A recent survey by  found that one out of every five hiring managers (people who decide who will get a job at certain company) look at the social networking (sites such as Facebook and MySpace) websites of the applicants or candidates (people applying for or requesting a job at the company).  They look to see what kind of person they are hiring, including what his or her personal habits and actions are.  Unfortunately, many college students and young people who use social networking sites post (place on the Internet) pictures of themselves drinking (often illegally) and doing other things that they probably do not want companies to know about.

According to the survey, 41% of the candidates posted pictures or other information about drinking or drug taking, 40% posted information on sexually inappropriate or questionable behavior, and 27% had information on their page that showed that they had lied about their qualifications.

But the news is not all bad.  Almost half of the candidates posted information that showed they were telling the truth about their qualifications and gave the hiring managers positive information about them.  So be careful what you post to the Internet, especially if you are going to be looking for a job.  (Note: I have not posted any pictures of me drinking or doing other things that could get me in trouble on my Facebook page…maybe later!)


Tuesday - September 16, 2008

A Candidate’s Personal Life

r168575_629636.jpgWe are now less than two months away from the U.S. presidential election and the media (newspapers, television and radio news, Internet news sites) is full of stories about each of the presidential and vice-presidential candidates. In addition to media scrutiny (close examination), each of the two major political parties — the Democrats and the Republicans — are working hard to dig up dirt (to find secret and damaging information) on their opponents (someone you’re competing against; rival).

I think everyone would agree that if a candidate had done something criminal (against the law) or even unethical (morally wrong) in his or her business or work, that it would be relevant (important) to how voters vote. However, what about events in their personal lives, events that are not related to their work or public service? If the candidates or a member of their families had done something shameful (causing shame or disgrace) or questionable (not certain of the truth), should that affect voters?

Tell us what you think and why.

~ Lucy

Should a presidential candidate's personal life affect how people vote in an election?

View Results

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Thursday - September 4, 2008

Hockey Moms

PalinIf you read an American newspaper today, you’ll see the phrase hockey mom. What is a hockey mom, and why are all the newspapers talking about it?

In the narrowest (most restricted) sense, a hockey mom is a mother who has children who play the sport of ice hockey.  The image of a hockey mom is someone who supports her children by going to the games, transporting them to practices, and being active with other mothers whose children are participating in the sport.

But hockey mom (like a similar term, soccer mom) means more than that to the average American.  The term is associated with women with families living in the suburbs (just outside the city) or in small towns who are middle-class (not rich, not poor – in the middle and therefore “average”), who perhaps drive a minivan or an SUV (a large car that can transport several children and their sports equipment), and who are active in their local schools and communities.  They may work full-time or part-time outside the home, and are considered by some people to be very protective of their children.

Some people use the term in a positive way to mean an “average” concerned mother of young children and adolescents (teenagers).  Other people use the term negatively, to mean a woman who is overly (too much) concerned about her children or is perhaps overbearing (too aggressive, too enthusiastic).  The most common association, however, is probably positive or neutral (neither positive nor negative) to refer to an average, middle-class mother.

One of our two major political parties (groups), the Republican Party, has just nominated (named) as its vice-presidential candidate Governor Sarah Palin (pronounced “PAY-lin”) of Alaska.  She is the first female Republican to run for that office (the Democrats nominated a female candidate back in 1984, but never since).  In her speech to the national Republican convention (meeting) last night, she refered to herself as a “hockey mom.”  The reason is that she wants to convey (to give) the message that she is just an average, hard-working mother who cares about her children and is active in the community.

It is too early to know if Palin’s nomination will help or hurt the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, John McCain, in the general election in November against Barak Obama.


Wednesday - September 3, 2008

ESL Cafe 153 – Kicking Our Butts

In today’s ESL Cafe 153, Jeff is too polite and gentlemanly to say the phrase “to kick (someone’s) ass.” We’ll let someone else do it for him.

Although “ass” is one of the bad words that parents don’t want their children to say, it is not considered one of the worst curse words. However, it is a little surprising to hear it said by a three year old.

~ Lucy

When a three-year-old is asked about monsters (imaginary creatures that are large, ugly, and frightening)…

Mother: And tell Mommy (mother) again what you said you were going to do to him if he came here.

Daugher: I said, I’m gonna (going to) kick his ass*.

Mother: Oh, that’s not nice.

Daugher: If he’s going to come in here, he’s going to kick my ass.

Mother: He will?

Daugher: Yeah…He’ll come out of the movie, come out. He’ll come out and kick my ass.

Mother: Okay…

Daugher: And I can kick his ass.

Mother: Okay, but that’s not a nice word. You should say, “kick his butt.”

Daugher: Oh!

*Note that she pronounces the word incorrectly with a “k” sound at the end of “ass,” making it sound like “asK”.