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Archive for June, 2011

Monday - June 27, 2011

Podcasts This Week (June 27, 2011)

We created the Learning Guide to help you learn English even faster. It has additional vocabulary, explanations, comprehension questions, culture notes, a complete transcript of every word you hear, and more!

Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by  becoming a Basic or Premium Member.
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ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 698 – Making Racially-Offensive Remarks

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 get carried away” and “to catch up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Unacceptable Racial Slurs.”
“Languages change over time, and some terms that were “once” (in the past) “acceptable” (okay to use) are no longer acceptable. This is especially true for terms used to refer to “minority groups”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 300

Topics: American Presidents: Theodore Roosevelt; The Folk Tales of Uncle Remus; drug versus pill versus tablet; pronouncing ½; engagement versus commitment

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Origins of Teddy Bears.”
“Few children today grow up without playing with or owning a “teddy bear,” a soft toy in the shape of a “bear,” a large white, brown, or black animal.  “Teddy bears” are actually named after President Theodore Roosevelt…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 699 – Dealing With the Paparazzi

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 stake out” and “to call off.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Anti-Paparazzi Laws.”
“Paparazzi can make a lot of money by selling photos of “top” (extremely popular) “celebrities” (very famous people, especially musicians or actors), but sometimes these “financial incentives” (money one receives for doing something) make them “go over the top”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - June 23, 2011

Gadgets, Gadgets, Gadgets

We’ve just returned from a fun weekend with family and friends near Santa Cruz, California. The occasion (event) was our oldest daughter’s wedding in a beautiful setting (location) at a vineyard (where grapes are grown for wine) atop (on top of) a mountain overlooking Santa Cruz and the Pacific Ocean. Our younger daughter said the house at the vineyard reminded her of the house in The Great Gatsby, a well-known book written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925 about the people who lived on Long Island’s North Shore and in New York City. (Long Island is an island that includes parts of New York City.)

The bride was beautiful. The mother of the bride (my wife) was beautiful. The setting was beautiful. Even the bear looked good: he was the ring bearer (the one who carried the bride and groom’s rings) and he was carried by our four-year-old grandson. The simple wedding ceremony was perfect. The weather was perfect. And the food was the best I’ve ever had at a wedding! All in all (when you consider everything), it was a great weekend.

One of the things that amused (made me smile) me during the weekend was that electronic gadgets (small, useful machines or tools) popped up (appeared) everywhere! Everywhere I looked I saw iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, iPads, and laptops – not all at the wedding, but in the days before and after. I used my iPhone for my notes when I toasted the bride and groom at the dinner after the wedding. A toast is a call to a group of people – “I’d like to propose (suggest) a toast to the bride and groom” – to raise their glasses and drink together in honor of someone, usually on a special occasion. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that someone had posted pictures of the bride and groom on Facebook before they exited (left) the area where the wedding was performed!

Stephen Abram recently wrote about a Pew Research report that found (discovered) that 90% of Americans own at least one computerized gadget. I know that my wife and I had seven gadgets in our car as we traveled – two laptops (MacBooks, of course!), three iPods, a Blackberry, and an iPhone!

The Pew study reveals (shows) that electronic gadgets have become popular across all generations (groups of people who are the same age). It also found that:

  • Cell phones are the most popular device (a machine or tool that does a special job). About 85% of all adults own cell phones, and 90% of Americans – including 62% of those 75 and older – live in a home where there is at least one cell phone.
  • Desktop computers are most popular with adults who are 35-65 (read: 35 to 65) years old. Millennials (the 18-34-year-old generation) are more likely than other generations to have laptops: 70% of them own laptops; only 57% own desktop computers.
  • Almost half of all adults own iPods or mp3 players. Again, more Millennials own them than anyone else.
  • Game consoles are popular with adults between the ages of 18 and 46: almost two-thirds of them own a console.
  • E-book readers and tablets have not been adopted (begun to be used) by a large percentage of the population yet. About 5% of adults own an e-book reader, and 4% own an iPad or other tablet.
  • The number of adults that do not own any electronic gadgets is very small, only about 9%. As you might expect, many of these people – about 43% – are more than 75 years old.

It was a memorable (worth remembering) weekend! And it was fascinating to watch people of all ages using their gadgets to keep up with (to write, etc., regularly so you don’t forget someone) friends, stay in touch with (to talk or write to) family, and share the excitement of the weekend with people around the world!

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

Photo courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons.

 

Monday - June 20, 2011

Podcasts This Week (June 20, 2011)

Are there words you don’t understand in the podcast? Get the Learning Guide and get a complete transcript of every word spoken in each podcast. You’ll also get explanations of related words and phrases you probably won’t find anywhere else.

You can get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member.  Do it now!
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ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 696 – Investing Your Money

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 “return” and “fixed.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Licensed Financial Advisors.”
“Choosing the best type of investment can be very “complex” (difficult or confusing, with many factors), so many people “turn to” (seek guidance or advice from) “licensed” (with an official certificate recognizing a certain level of knowledge and experience) “investment advisors”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 299

Topics: McCarthyism and the House Committee on Un-American Activities; Famous Songs: Dixie; to overrate versus to overestimate; that versus so; the stakes are too high

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about The Crucible by Arthur Miller.
“Arthur Miller (1915-2005) is considered one of the greatest “contemporary” (belonging to the present; living in the present period of time) American “playwrights” (person whose job is to write plays)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 697 – Eating a School Lunch

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 “gross” and “to split.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Head Start Program.”
“The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services manages the “Head Start Program” to help low-income children and their families become ready for school. It focuses on education, health, nutrition, and “parent involvement”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Monday - June 13, 2011

Podcasts This Week (June 13, 2011)

We created the Learning Guide to help you learn English even faster. Don’t get just half of the benefits of ESL Podcast — get them all! 

If you want to get the Learning Guide, simply become an ESL Podcast Basic or Premium Member!
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 694 – Going to the Emergency Room

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 “stitch” and “critical.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “How to Get Treated in an Emergency Room.”
“Emergency rooms are designed to provide “immediate” (very quick and responsive) treatment for “life-threatening” (risking death) injuries and illnesses, such as “heart attacks” (a condition where one’s heart stops beating) and “severe” (very serious and dangerous) car accidents…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 298

Topics: Famous Americans: Jesse Owens; National Science Foundation; plea versus appeal versus petition; somewhat versus somehow; Is that all?

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Sponsoring Athletes.”
“Being a top athlete requires a lot of work and “determination” (having a firm purpose and not stopping until one reaches a goal).  “Devoting” (giving completely) one’s time to “train” (learn and practice) and the costs of playing some sports require that…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 695 – Being Late for an Event

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 settle for” and “very.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Etiquette for Arriving Late to a Performance.”
“In the United States, “punctuality” (one’s ability to arrive to places on time as expected) is very important in most situations. “Arriving late” (coming later than expected) is generally considered to be “rude” (impolite) and disrespectful…”
- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - June 9, 2011

Playing for Change

The other street musicians on the 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, California, often call Roger Ridley “the voice of God.” Ridley is one of the world’s many musicians who come to the Promenade and locations like it around the world where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic (people walking). They stake their claim to a space (say the space belongs to them for a time) and play for donations (money gifts from listeners).

Every Saturday Ridley travels from his home in Las Vegas, Nevada – almost 300 miles – to perform at the Promenade and returns home when he finishes. One Saturday, while walking down the Promenade, Mark Johnson heard Roger singing Stand by Me in the distance and ran to where he could hear better. He was moved (had strong feelings) by Roger’s music and decided it needed to be shared with the world. At that moment Playing for Change was born.

Mark Johnson is an award-winning audio producer/engineer (someone who plans and makes music recordings) and film director. He has worked with some of the best musicians and producers in music, film, and television. As the co-founder (person who begins something with someone else) of Playing for Change, Mark has created a technique (method) for recording musicians all around the world in their natural environment (where they live), usually outside, and combining (putting together) the recordings to create Songs Around the World.

Playing for Change, the organization Mark founded, is a “multimedia (sound, video, etc.) movement (group of people with the same ideas) created to inspire (encourage), connect, and bring peace to the world through music.” He believes that music can “break down boundaries (things that keep people apart) and overcome distances between people.” It has the “power to transcend (go beyond usual limits) and unite us as one human race” in spite of geographic, political, economic, religious, or ideological (philosophical) backgrounds.

In 2007, Mark and his supporters created the Playing for Change Foundation to help the musicians and communities that had shared their music with the rest of the world. Through the support of the foundation, the musicians are “brought together to perform benefit concerts (concerts to make money to help someone) that help build music and art schools in communities” that need help. Thousands of people have been touched (feel happy and thankful) by these concerts and other Playing for Change activities. By them the world is being connected (brought together) through music!

You can experience Playing for Change in several ways. First, you can explore the Playing for Change web site. You can listen to all the music and learn all about the musicians who have helped create it.

The latest Song Around the World is Gimme Shelter (give me protection). It “expresses the urgency (immediate importance) we all face to unite together as a planet with the words ‘War, children, it’s just a shot away… Love, sister, it’s just a kiss away.’”

 

Gimme Shelter | Playing For Change from Playing For Change on Vimeo.

 

I’d strongly encourage you to take time to listen to some of the original recordings, especially these:

Like me, I’m sure you’ll be moved by the music.

~ Warren Ediger, creator of Successful English, where you can find Something to read during June in addition to clear explanations and practical suggestions for better English.

Playing for Change logo courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons.

 

Tuesday - June 7, 2011

SoCal Slang Is Coo

There’s an old saying that “all politics is local,” meaning that all political elections, even for president, depend on the conditions in the city or area where you are living. If the economy is bad in your city, it doesn’t matter that it is good in other cities – you only care about your city, your local conditions, and you will vote accordingly (following that logic or reasoning).

We could also say that “all language is local.”  Most Americans speak English, but the kind or variety of English depends on where you live.  We all know this, I think, but sometimes it is good to remind ourselves that what we say in our city may not be the same as in other cities, even when we speak the same language.

Slang – informal language used by a particular (specific; certain) group or in a particular context (situation) – is also local, and changes depending on where you live.  Researchers have recently studied the kind of language people use in text messages and tweets, or messages on the Internet service Twitter.  They analyzed tweets in the U.S. that were geotagged, meaning the person who sent the tweet also indicated their location on their iPhone or Blackberry.  They then looked to see how people used language in one area versus (compared to) another.

Using some powerful statistical techniques, the scientists were able to predict the general area where a person lived just by looking at the kind of slang they used.  They also gave examples of slang associated with certain cities:

  • In Northern California (San Francisco, the Silicon Valley), the word “hella” is very popular in tweets.  Hella is an expression of enthusiasm.  According to the Urban Dictionary, it can mean “very,” “a lot of,” or “something really good or great.”  For example: “People in San Francisco think they are hella (much; a lot) smarter than people in SoCal (Southern California, which includes Los Angeles).”  Hella is apparently (it seems) very popular in San Francisco, but not in Los Angeles.  (I’ve never used it before writing this blog post, for example.)
  • In Southern California, people use an abbreviated (shortened) form of the word “cool” (meaning good, popular, hip), “coo.”  In Northern California, they tweet “koo” for “cool,” perhaps using a “k” instead of a “c” due to (because of) their lower level of education (that’s a joke!).
  • Southern Californians tweet “fasho” to mean “for sure,” when they are expressing agreement with something.
  • New Yorkers use the letters “nm” to mean “not much” in tweets and texts, while people in Boston write “suttin” to mean “something.”

There’s nothing really new in this research, but it does confirm (verify; show again that it is true) that what we say depends on where we live. Every language in every country has similar differences, even if you are not aware of them.

~Jeff

P.S. The scientific article is available here in PDF format.

P.P.S.  ESL Podcast has been on Twitter nearly (almost) since the very beginning of the service, back in 2006.  You can follow us @eslpod.

Image Credit: Twitter logo (low resolution), Wikipedia PD

Monday - June 6, 2011

Podcasts This Week (June 6, 2011)

At ESL Podcast, we are very lucky to have you as a listener. Thank you for listening!

If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member.  We can’t do it without your help!
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 692 – Recommending Someone for a Job

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 stop by” and “sharp.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Acting as an Employment Reference.”
“Many job applications ask the “applicant” (the person asking for a job) to submit a list of three “professional” (related to work, not personal life) “references,” or people whom they can speak with to learn additional information about the applicant…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 297

Topics: The Lewis and Clark Expedition; Famous Authors: Anne Rice; to generate versus to create versus to make; a tad off target; run-on sentence

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about the famous Dracula actor “Béla Lugosi.”
“With so much interest in vampires in television and movies these days, it is easy to forget one of the first “on-screen” (on TV or in movies) vampires: Dracula.  Many movies have been made about the character of Dracula, based on the 1897 novel, also called Dracula, written by Irish author Bram Stoker…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 693 – Following a Dress Code

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 pack” and “catch.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Dressing for Business.”
“In general, American workplaces are much less formal than they used to be, but there are still “expectations” (what people believe should happen) for how people should dress…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - June 2, 2011

Harvard, Prison, or McDonald’s: Which is Harder to Get Into?

I came across (saw something I wasn’t looking for at the time) a couple of statistics recently, although I’m not sure exactly what they mean. The first comes from an article in the Wall Street Journal about the California Prison Academy, which is the place where people who want to become prison guards go to get training (education).  Prison guards are like the police at a jail or prison – they make sure the prisoners (criminals) don’t escape (leave without permission). California has one of the largest prison systems in the world, and the prison guard union (group of workers who join together to protect their jobs and salaries) is very powerful in California politics.  Because of that power, prison guards get paid a lot of money – between $45,000 and $65,000 for their first year – relative to (compared to; considering) their level of education (you only need to be a high school graduate to be a prison guard).

Over (more than) 120,000 people apply (asked to be admitted) to the California Prison Academy each year, but the Academy enrolls (takes as students) only 900 people.  That means that only about 1% of the people who apply get in (get accepted; are able to study there).  Compare this to America’s best university, Harvard.  Harvard accepts 6.2% of the people who apply to be students there.  In other words, it is tougher (more difficult) to get into the program for prison guard training in California than the country’s best university!

Here’s one more for you: McDonald’s, the restaurant chain (group of stores or restaurants that all belong to the same company), recently hired 62,000 new workers in the U.S. after about one million people applied.  So doing the math (calculating), we find that the job acceptance rate (percentage of people who are accepted) at McDonald’s this year was 6.2% – precisely (exactly) the same as Harvard University.  (And remember: when you go to Harvard, you don’t get free hamburgers and French fries.) It’s even worse in other countries: Bloomberg News reported that getting into the McDonald’s training program in China was actually harder (more difficult) than getting into Harvard.

What does it all mean?  I’m not sure.  I didn’t go to Harvard, have never been a prison guard, and haven’t worked at McDonald’s, but I’m pretty sure there is something wrong with this picture (some problem with this situation).

~Jeff

Image Credit: McDonald’s logo, Wikipedia