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Archive for September, 2011

Monday - September 26, 2011

Podcasts This Week (September 26, 2011)

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ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 724 – Being Impolite in Conversation

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 “perfectly” and “after.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Suggestions for Small Talk.”
“Sometimes it can be difficult to “strike up” (start) a conversation with people we don’t know well, but it is even more “awkward” (uncomfortable) to stand “in silence”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 313

Topics: Salem Witch Trials; National Endowment for the Arts; in fact versus as a matter of fact; even versus even though; to look at

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Blair Witch Project.”
The Blair Witch Project was a “horror” (scary; frightening) film released in 1999. It was a “small budget” (not expensive to make) film that was created using “amateur” (not professional) “footage” (sections of film)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 725 – Childhood Illnesses and Diseases

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 “record” and “mask.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Immunizations Required by Schools.”
“Most schools won’t allow children to “attend” (go to classes) unless their “shots” (immunizations) are “up to date” (having everything that is required). The United States does not have a “federal” (national) law on immunizations…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - September 22, 2011

Gimme Five!*

You’ve probably seen it, usually after something exciting has happened, especially if you watch American sports. Two players approach (move toward) each other, raise their hands simultaneously (at the same time), and, when they are close enough, slap (hit with the flat part of the hand) their hands together. It’s called the high five.

So who started the high five? When? Where? The low five, with the hands down, goes back to World War II among African American servicemen (men in the military). But, according to a recent article in ESPN The Magazine, no one is sure about the high five. However, there are a couple of interesting possibilities.

The first story gives credit (says he did it) to Glen Burke, a Los Angeles Dodger baseball player, for inventing the high five.  Supposedly (many people believe) it happened in front of 46,000 screaming fans (someone who likes a sport very much) at Dodger stadium in 1977. Here’s how ESPN writer Jon Mooallem tells the story:

It was the last day of the regular season, and Dodgers left fielder Dusty Baker had just gone deep (hit the ball out of the stadium, a home run)…. It was Baker’s 30th home run, making the Dodgers the first team in history to have four sluggers (baseball players who hit the ball a long way) — Baker, Ron Cey, Steve Garvey and Reggie Smith — with at least 30 homers each. It was a wild, triumphant (full of pride, pleasure) moment and a good omen (sign of what will happen in the future) as the Dodgers headed to the playoffs. Burke, waiting on deck, thrust (moved suddenly) his hand enthusiastically (with excitement) over his head to greet his friend…. Baker, not knowing what to do, smacked (hit) it. “His hand was up in the air, and he was arching (bending) way back,” says Baker, now 62…. “So I reached up and hit his hand. It seemed like the thing to do.”

The second story credits Wiley Brown and Derek Smith, University of Louisville basketball players with inventing the high five. At a University of Louisville Cardinal (the team name) basketball practice during the 1978-79 season, Brown went to give a plain (ordinary) old low five to his teammate. Out of nowhere (suddenly, without warning), Smith looked Brown in the eye and said, “No. Up high.”

The Cardinal players were tall and used their jumping ability to defeat other teams. So “when Smith raised his hand, it clicked (made sense) for Brown,” writes Mooallem. “I thought,” said Brown, “yeah, why are we staying down low? We jump so high.”

So who did invent the high five? I don’t know. And no one else can be sure they know. In both stories it appears (looks like) to have happened spontaneously (without thinking or preparation).

If you’d like to learn how to do the high five properly, here’s a short, funny video about high five etiquette (rules for proper behavior).

*Gimme five = give me five; used when you want someone to give you a high five.

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

Photo by  johnwiechecki used under Creative Commons license.

Tuesday - September 20, 2011

Keeping Fit While Being Cool

Okay, so you don’t work out (exercise) as much as you should. Perhaps your exercise routine (habits; things you do regularly) are getting a little stale (dull; boring; old).  Are you ready for the latest, greatest approaches to keeping in shape (being fit and healthy)?  Here they are:

  • Piloxing – This is a combination of Pilates and boxing. Pilates is a popular way of conditioning (getting your body in shape) that uses various exercises and equipment. Boxing is when two people hit each other in the face to get the other person to fall down. It’s a perfect combination! You practice hitting other people in the face to release (let go of) your anger, and you lose weight at the same time. What’s not to like?
  • Anti-Gravity Yoga – This is a sort of like upside-down yoga. Spiderman does this all the time, so it isn’t really new.
  • Powerstrike – Did you ever see one of those Japanese samurai movies, where there was a strong warrior (fighter) with a big sword? Instead of a sword, imagine holding a wooden stick and swinging it around like you were a real samurai (see the photo). That’s basically what this is.
  • Soul-Cycle – You sit on a special bicycle (a spinning bicycle) and exercise your arms at the same time. I don’t know why it is called soul cycling, however.
  • Beer Balancing – With this one, you drink several bottles of beer, then try to put them on the top of your head, without falling down.  It’s great for your neck muscles!

Okay, so I made up (invented) Beer Balancing, but the rest are real.  Now get exercising!

~Jeff

Photo credit: Samurai with Sword (1860), Wikipedia PD

 

Monday - September 19, 2011

Podcasts This Week (September 19, 2011)

Are you tired of not understanding what you hear in English? Get the Learning Guide and see in the complete transcript every word you hear on the podcasts. Get extra help with new vocabulary, test yourself with comprehension questions, and learn more about American culture.

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

…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 722 – Talking About Television Shows

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 “premier” and “to give up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Broadcast Syndication.”
“‘Syndication’ usually involves arranging for photographs or articles to be sold to individual magazines or newspapers. When the same thing is done for television programs, the ‘practice’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 312

Topics: Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters; The National Geographic Society; shade versus shadow; rarely versus seldom; every cloud has a silver lining

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Jersey Shore and Italian American Stereotypes.”
“The Jersey Shore is an American “reality” television show that follows eight young adults living together and spending the summer together at the Jersey Shore…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 723 – Things Associated with Autumn

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” and “to put a damper on.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Harvest Festivals.”
“‘Thanksgiving’ is the major harvest festival in the United States. It was first celebrated in 1621 in Massachusetts as a way for the ‘Pilgrims’…”  – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - September 15, 2011

Food for Thought*

I am a terrible cook. If I tell you I’m going to cook dinner for you, run the other way. You have been warned (told about the danger).

When I was growing up, my mother did all of the cooking in our house.  Her children’s job, according to my mother, was to study and practice, and hers was to feed us.  I thought that that was a great arrangement (plan) until I left home.  Then, I really learned to appreciate my mother, especially when I had to fend for myself (take care of myself).

To this day, I still don’t know how to cook very well.  Although I plan most things in my life, when it comes to cooking, I like to fly by the seat of my pants (do something without planning) and to cook something by instinct (acting according to what feels right or natural to me).  That means I’m not very good at following recipes (instructions for cooking a dish).  Since I have so little experience, you can probably imagine how well that usually turns out (results).

Despite my bumbling (behaving awkwardly and without skill) in the kitchen, one of my favorite TV shows these past couple of years is Top Chef.  This is a cooking competition reality show (show with real people, instead of actors) where some of the best chefs (professional cooks) in the country are selected to compete in cooking challenges (games; competitions) on each episode.

I’m very surprised that I like watching this show.  I don’t like traditional cooking shows where a chef shows you how to cook a dish step-by-step.  I suppose I don’t actually want to learn to cook a dish.  Instead, I enjoy seeing people who are at the top of their game (among the best in a field of work, study, or play) being creative and having to do so under the gun (on a deadline; with limited time).

Are you a good cook?  Do you like watching cooking shows or cooking competition shows?

~ Lucy

* “Food for thought” is something, such as an issue or idea, that is given to someone for him or her to think about.  For example:

  • “Learning about different careers is good food for thought for students entering the university.”
  • “Seeing so many stories on the TV news about the dangers of house fires was food for thought.  I now think we should do more to protect our home.”

Photo Credit:  White House Chefs – From Wikipedia

Monday - September 12, 2011

Podcasts This Week (September 12, 2011)

We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, and cultural notes.

Get the Learning Guide today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member!
…………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 720 – Buying Office Furniture

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 “you name it” and “solid.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Specialized Office Furniture.”
“A typical office has a desk with a hutch, filing cabinets, and office chairs. But some jobs require “specialized” (serving a specific purpose) office furniture that helps the employees complete their work…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 311

Topics: Ask an American – Concussions Affect U.S. Teen Athletes; customer versus client; overwhelming; exciting; discussion on/about

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Friday Night Lights.”
Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream is the story of a high school football team in Texas as it prepares to compete in the state “championship” (an important competition to determine which team is best)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 721 – A Widespread Epidemic

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 come down with” and “alarmed.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Worst Epidemics in U.S. History.”
“The worst epidemic in U.S. History was an outbreak of Spanish “influenza” (flu) in 1918. Although the flu normally lasts only a few days, causing “congestion”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - September 8, 2011

You Vote What You Eat

It’s here! The 2012 presidential campaign has begun. The big battle is shaping up (developing) – Democrats versus (against) Republicans, liberals* versus conservatives*, President Obama versus … who knows?

For the next 14 months – from now until November 2012 – we’re going to be flooded with (receive a lot) more political advertisements, political speeches, political debates, and political news stories than you can imagine! And dinner or coffee with friends will usually be served with (include) talk about politics.

To be honest (tell the truth), I get tired of all the political noise – the advertisements, the speeches, the debates, the news stories, and endless conversations. But what can I do about it?

I found an answer to my question at hunch.com. According to Hunch, liberals and conservatives eat differently. Or, as they put (wrote; said) it: “You vote what you eat.” If that’s true, we don’t need to discuss politics. We can find out what we want to know about someone’s political beliefs by checking out (looking at) what they eat!

The people at Hunch asked about 2,000 readers how they described themselves politically – whether they were liberal or conservative or somewhere in the middle. And then they asked them about their food preferences (what kind of food they would choose) and attitudes toward different foods.

Here are a few things you’ll learn about liberal and conservative eating habits (something you do regularly) and attitudes if you look at the Hunch study:

  • Liberals are more likely to (will probably) order a meal of curry chicken from India with vegetable biryani (a rice dish), orange wedge (slice), and glass of Pinot Noir wine; conservatives will order meatloaf with green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy (thick brown sauce), and a can of soda.
  • Liberals are more likely to prefer (choose) fresh vegetables; conservatives like their vegetables cooked.
  • Liberals are more likely to eat seafood than conservatives.
  • Liberals are more likely to prefer crunchy (hard and make a noise when you bite it) tacos (a Mexican food); conservatives like soft tacos.
  • Liberals prefer thin-crust (the baked outer part of a pie or pizza) pizza; conservatives prefer deep dish or thicker crust pizza.
  • Liberals prefer strawberry jam on their peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; conservatives prefer grape jelly.
  • Liberals are more likely to drink wine with dinner at home; conservatives are more likely to drink milk, soda, or fruit juice.
  • Liberals are more likely to never or rarely eat fast food (like McDonalds); conservatives are likely to eat fast food a few times per week.

There you have it (there it is): if you know someone’s food preferences and attitudes, you can tell a lot about their political beliefs. You don’t even have to ask, if you don’t want to. Just watch them eat. That has to (must) be better than all that political noise!

I hope you realize that much of this has been tongue-in-cheek (meant to be humorous; not serious). Responsible citizens – including me – will listen and think about and discuss politics, even if it seems noisy at times (occasionally).

_____

*Note: it’s difficult to explain the differences between liberals and conservatives in a few words. Here are two very simple descriptions from what Wikipedia says about them:

  • Liberals, mostly Democrats, like the federal (U.S.) government to be larger and more involved (active) in American life, even if it means paying higher taxes. Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy were liberal presidents.
  • Conservatives, mostly Republicans, want less government involvement and lower taxes. They emphasize personal and local responsibility. Ronald Reagan was a conservative president.

A study done last month reveals (shows) that 41% of Americans call themselves conservative, 36% moderate (in the middle), and 21% liberal. For more on political parties in the U.S., listen to English Cafe 26.

_____

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

 Photo of lamb biryani used under Creative Commons license.

 

Monday - September 5, 2011

Podcasts This Week (September 5, 2011)

Are there words in the podcast you’re not sure about? Would you like to know how words are spelled? Get a complete transcript of every word spoken in the podcasts by getting the Learning Guide. Following along as you listen and improve your English even faster.

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

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 718 – Serving on a Jury

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 swear (one) in” and “exhibit.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Getting a Summons for Jury Duty.”
““Jury duty” (the process of serving on a jury) is a responsibility for all U.S. citizens – some people argue it is a “privilege” (an honor) as well. Anyone can be selected for jury duty at any time, but they must be more than 18 years old…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 310

Topics: Famous Americans – Clara Barton; The California Gold Rush; problem versus issue versus concern; cordless versus wireless; brothers and sisters

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Gold-Related Frauds.”
“Gold fever makes some people “susceptible” (vulnerable; likely to be influenced or harmed by something) to “frauds.”  A fraud is a trick or a deception that is done to gain money or something else valuable…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 719 – Eating Unhealthy Foods

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 “processed” and “greens.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Health-Food and Diet Fads.”
“Many “fads” (ideas and behaviors that become very popular very quickly, and then are forgotten) are related to food and especially healthy eating…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide