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Archive for February, 2011

Friday - February 25, 2011

Server Problems – UPDATE: Now Working

We are experiencing some problems on our server today. Some of our audio files are not downloading properly.  We are working to fix the problem as soon as possible.

Thank you for your patience!
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UPDATE Saturday, February 26, 12:00 PM - Our servers appear to be working normally again.  You should be able to download the audio files without a problem.

Note to iTunes Users:
If you download our episodes through iTunes and you are still having trouble with episodes that failed to download before, please follow these steps:

  1. Select the “bad” episode and hit Delete.  When asked by iTunes, choose to Remove the file, and then Move to Recycling Bin (Windows) or Trash (Mac).
  2. Go to the top of the episode list where it says English as a Second Language Podcast (next to the little triangle), RIGHT-click, and select Unsubscribe Podcast.
  3. RIGHT-click again on the episode list, and select Subscribe Podcast.
  4. Hit the Refresh button in the bottom, right corner of iTunes.  Your missing episode will now reappear in gray.
  5. Click on the Get button next to the episode(s) your’re missing, and it should now download correctly.

 

Wednesday - February 23, 2011

Podcasts This Week (February 21, 2011)

The Learning Guide is the key to improving your English even faster.

For example, in “What Else Does it Mean,” you’ll learn words, phrases, and idioms related to those you’ve heard in the podcast, but that may be difficult to understand on your own.

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

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 662 – Doctor-Patient Confidentiality

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 breach” and “to drop it.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about other types of “Confidential Relationships.”
“Doctors have access to a lot of “privileged information” (information shared with only certain people in a private, professional context, and protected by law) when they speak with their patients about their health history, medical conditions…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 282

Topics: The Graduate; Patty Hearst; embarrassed versus ashamed versus awkward; people versus persons; talk to the hand

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about the sequel to The Graduate.
“Most Americans know about the film The Graduate, but how many know that it is based on a novel by Charles Webb written in 1963? Charles Webb wrote The Graduate “shortly” (a short time) after he graduated from college…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 663 – Having Problems Concentrating

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 “manual” and “to focus.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Requirements for Getting a Driver’s License.”
“In the United States, “driver’s licenses” (documents that give one legal permission to drive) are “issued” (given out) by individual states, so the requirements “vary” (are different). However, “applicants” (people who want to get a driver’s license) always have to meet certain requirements…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Wednesday - February 23, 2011

“The Sound of Silence” – Simon and Garfunkel

In today’s English Cafe, Jeff talked about the movie The Graduate. The soundtrack of the movie (music used in the movie) contains several songs that have become classics (judged to be good overtime and is known by a lot of people). One of the songs that is best-known is “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel.

Paul Simon didn’t actually write “The Sound the Silence” for the film, although it is very closely associated with The Graduate today.  He wrote it several years earlier after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  The song was released in 1965, two years before The Graduate.  The song hit (arrived at) number 1 on the charts (ranking of the most popular songs) on New Year’s Day in 1966.

~ Lucy

“The Sound of Silence”
by Simon and Garfunkel

Hello darkness, my old friend
I’ve come to talk with you again
Because a vision (seeing something, like in a dream) softly creeping (moving slowly and carefully)
Left its seeds while I was sleeping
And the vision that was planted (placed there by someone else) in my brain
Still remains
Within the sound of silence (with no sound)

In restless (unable to relax) dreams I walked alone
Narrow (not wide) streets of cobblestone (round stone used to cover the surface of a road)
(Be)neath the halo (circle of light, usually around the head of a holy person) of a street lamp
I turned my collar (piece of material around the neck of a shirt) to the cold and damp (a little wetness)
When my eyes were stabbed (hit by something sharp, like a knife) by the flash of a neon light
That split (divided; interrupted) the night
And touched the sound of silence

And in the naked (uncovered) light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared (had the courage)
Disturb the sound of silence

Fools (unwise people)”, said I, “You do not know
Silence like a cancer (serious disease where the cells of the body behave in a destructive way – see Cancer) grows
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you”
But my words, like silent raindrops fell
And echoed
In the wells (deep places) of silence

And the people bowed (lowered their heads) and prayed
To the neon god they made
And the sign flashed out (turning on and off its lights) its warning
In the words that it was forming
And the sign said, “The words of the prophets (people who are believed to have special information or knowledge from God) are written on the subway walls
And tenement (buildings with small apartments, usually for people with low income) halls”
And whispered (spoke very softly) in the sounds of silence

Tuesday - February 22, 2011

Listeners in Iran

To Our Listeners in Iran:

Some of our listeners in Iran have reported that they have been unable to download our audio files for the past few weeks.  It appears that the service we use for our audio file downloads, which is owned by Google, is being blocked or interfered with in Iran, although we don’t know exactly what the problem is.

We have had problems like this before in Iran.  One of our entries on our blog from 2007 talks about accessing the ESLPod.com website from Iran. You can find it, along with suggestions from Iranian listeners, here:

http://tinyurl.com/ybkozz4

If listeners in Iran have other suggestions on this issue, please post a comment below.

Photo credit:  3.5 Inch Speaker from Wikipedia

Friday - February 18, 2011

Who’s Marrying Whom?

The New York Times recently ran (published) an interesting set of articles and graphics that underscore (emphasize) the changing face (appearance) of America. Because of immigration, the American population has always been diverse (made up of different groups of people). Now intermarriage – marriage between people from different groups – is helping the U.S. become even more diversified.

Let me try to clarify (make clear) some of the words we use to talk about group differences. In the 2010 census (official count of the population), there were two questions to help identify the groups of people that make up the U.S. population. The first was an ethnic question. According to the U.S. Census Bureau (government department responsible for the census), an ethnic group is a group of people that share (have the same) such things as culture, language, and religion. This question asked people if they were of “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.” People from countries like Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and other Central and South American countries would have said, “Yes,” to this question.

The second question asked about a person’s race, which usually refers to national origin – the country the person’s family first came from. The choices included White (mostly people from Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa), Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Other Asian, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and several others.

According to the New York Times, intermarriage is on the rise (growing) in the U.S. This probably shouldn’t surprise us. Almost all of us in the U.S. come from immigrant families. Some immigrated recently; others, like my family, immigrated many years ago. It’s probably inevitable (certain to happen) that young men and women from different groups will meet, fall in love, and get married.

One study says that the number of interracial (between races) or interethnic (between ethnic groups) marriages has doubled in the past 20 years. Two years ago, another study reported that approximately 14% of U.S. marriages were between people of different races or ethnic groups. This trend (pattern) makes some people uncomfortable, but more and more young people are embracing (willingly accepting) a multiethnic or multiracial identity (multi- means more than one).

According to a graphic in the New York Times, intermarriage increased among all groups except Asians from 1980 to 2009. Among Asians, it declined (dropped). The largest increase in intermarriage has been among Hispanics. When we look at gender (male/female) differences, black men marry someone from a different group twice as often as black women do. Among Asians, it’s the opposite: Asian women marry someone from a different group more than twice as often as Asian men.

The New York Times also has a related feature (special article) called Mixed America’s Family Trees, which you might enjoy looking at. A family tree is a diagram that shows the relationships between people in several generations (people of about the same age) of a family. My grandfather, father, my son, and I represent four generations of our family. The family trees will help you see how intermarriage has changed several American families.

~ Warren Ediger: creator of Successful English, where you can find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Tuesday - February 15, 2011

The Most Popular Winter Sports

Definitely NOT Lucy coming down a ski slope.

Here in Southern California, we don’t take part (participate) in a lot of winter sports. The reason is obvious: there is little ice or snow. In other parts of the country — such as Minnesota, where Jeff was born — a lot of winter sports are popular.

Among the most popular winter sports is skiing, both downhill skiing (down a hill) and cross-country skiing (on mostly flat land).  Ice skating is also popular, although few of us can figure skate (the sport of skating in patterns on ice) like Michelle Kwan or Dorothy Hamill (Does anyone remember her other than me?).

I’ve gone skiing a few times, although I stayed on the bunny slopes (the gentle and not very steep hills for beginners) most of the time and was scared to death when I tried mogul skiing, which is when you ski down a slope with bumps and on it.  It took me a long time to get down that hill and I’ve never been back since!

I’ve done a little better with ice skating, although not much better.  For someone raised in the sweltering (very high temperature) heat of Arizona, any temperature under 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) is cold to me.  Whether skiing or skating, I’d rather be sitting in the warming hut (room or building where people can get a warm drink and take a break from the cold of the snow and ice) sipping (drinking a little at a time) some nice warm hot chocolate.

There are many more winter sports, including sledding, snowboarding, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and hockey.  Which winter sports are popular where you live?  Do you participate in any winter sports yourself?

~ Lucy

Photo credit: Skier carving a turn from Wikipedia

Monday - February 14, 2011

Podcasts This Week (February 14, 2011)

Do you want to improve your English? Read along as you listen to each episode and learn even more quickly. By getting the Learning Guide, you’ll also get more vocabulary, explanations, and cultural information.

Become a Basic or Premium Member today!
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 660 – Work-Related Injuries

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 “back” and “elbow.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Most Work-Related Injuries.”
“Americans spend many of their “waking hours” (time when a person is awake, not asleep) “on the job” (at work), so it is not surprising that they suffer from many work-related injuries…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 281

Topics: Ask an American – Sleep-deprived teenagers; to buy versus to purchase versus to acquire; to burn the candle at both ends; Let’s versus Shall we? versus Why don’t we?

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Sleeping Beauty.”
“Sleeping Beauty is a “classic” (well known; traditional) “fairy tale” (a children’s story with many magical events). The original version was written by French author Charles Perrault, but most Americans…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 661 – Demanding an Apology

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 “chill out” and “to take (something) back.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “American Apologists.”
“An “apologist” is someone who “defends” (protects from attack) an idea or system, especially when it is unpopular with most people. Often apologists defend religious views, but the term “American Apologists”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Monday - February 7, 2011

Podcasts This Week (February 7, 2011)

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!
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ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 658 – Judging a Contest

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 “contest” and “scale.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about the “Publisher Clearing House Sweepstakes.”
“Publishers Clearing House is a “direct marketing company” (a company that sells other companies’ products and services to individuals) that sells “discounted” (offered at a lower-than-usual price) magazine subscriptions…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 280

Topics: American Presidents – Richard Nixon; few versus little; off-the-grid; on-the-spot

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about the song “Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell, and Dean” by The Creep
“The Watergate scandal was a major historical event and it’s no surprise that at the time, it was on everyone’s minds, including songwriters.  In 1973, a “novelty” (not to be take seriously; comic) song…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 659 – Finding Love on Valentine’s Day

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 “sentimental” and “attached.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “How Children Celebrate Valentine’s Day in School.”
“Young “elementary school” (usually first through sixth grade, or 6-11 years old) students are encouraged to exchange Valentine’s Day cards. These are small cards, usually pink or red…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - February 3, 2011

Mindful Seeing

I was distracted (my attention was taken away from what I was doing) yesterday by a blog post that took me first to a fascinating article and from there to an equally fascinating website.

Mindful Seeing

If you remember, in my last post, I briefly introduced D’arcy Norman’s idea of “mindful seeing.” Mindful seeing is paying more attention to what you see and, as a result, seeing more – textures (how something feels when you touch it), light, shapes, patterns (repeated shapes, colors, lines), groupings (several things together), even messages.

The article I saw yesterday introduced me to a great example of mindful seeing. I’d like to share it with you because I think you’ll enjoy the photography, and because it will give you an opportunity to have some fun with words.

Richard Nagler lives and works in northern California, near San Francisco. He runs (manages) a company that manufactures skylights (windows in the roof of a building), but he’s rapidly becoming known for his photography.

Nagler recently published a book called Word on the Street. He spent more than 35 years looking for images (pictures) that included one person and one word. They had to be natural – he didn’t plan them or pose (arrange) them. They had to come together in an accidental way. Nagler said that some of the images came together very quickly, almost immediately. Others took weeks.

Word on the Street began in the 1970s when Nagler saw an old building in Oakland, a city in Northern California, that had the word TIME bolted (attached with bolts, or metal pins) to it in large letters. As he looked up, an elderly (old) woman looked out of a window above TIME, but she quickly closed the curtain when she saw him. He returned several times during the next few weeks before he was finally able to capture the image (take the photograph) he wanted – the word TIME and the elderly woman together.

Word Play

When you look at Nalger’s Word on the Street photographs, you may get a new or better understanding of some of the words. There are 21 photographs from the book on his web site. You’ll know a lot of the words in them. But here are some that you might not know or that might be used differently than the way you learned them:

  • special (important to someone)
  • eternal (continuing forever)
  • providence (the force that controls what happens in our lives)
  • imagine (to form a picture in your mind about what something could be like)
  • lies (things that are not true)
  • grace (moving in a way that is relaxed and attractive)
  • further (adj: more or additional)
  • downtown (the center of a city)
  • farewell (saying goodbye)
  • victory (success when you win)
  • Elvis (Presley, of course!)
  • infinity (space or number without an end)

The photographs change automatically. If you want to stop them so you can look at one for a longer time, click on the middle of the photograph. To start them, click on the middle of the photograph again.

His pictures have been called playful (funny; entertaining); poignant (make you feel sad); ironic (seeing/hearing the opposite of what you expect); and shocking (surprising; upsetting; difficult to believe). What adjectives would you use to describe them?

You can find more of Nagler’s Word on the Street photographs on web pages from National Public Radio, the San Francisco Chronicle, and the Los Angeles Times.

A Bonus (something good you didn’t expect)

Nagler has used the same method to create another set of photos called Looking at Art. In this collection there are no words, just people and pieces of art. If you like art, I think you’ll enjoy this collection.

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English, where you’ll find clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Photograph by W. Ediger taken at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris.