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Archive for November, 2011

Tuesday - November 29, 2011

Give Us Your Topic Suggestions

I’ve been writing scripts for our podcasts for over six years and I think it’s time to get your suggestions on new topics. We do get emails from listeners with suggestions, but it would be nice to share ideas here on the blog.

We have nine categories of regular podcasts that are released every Monday and Friday:

– Business
– Daily Life
– Dining
– Entertainment
– Health and Medicine
– Relationships
– Shopping
– Transportation
– Travel

Please give us your suggestions within these nine categories.  Within these categories, we try to select topics that are relevant (appropriate; of interest) for a large number of our listeners, and include vocabulary and language useful beyond just that one script and podcast.  If you’d like, you can do a quick search on our homepage (search for your topic suggestion under “Search Podcasts” on the left-hand side of the page) to see if we have already covered (included; used) that topic.

Your suggestions are very important to us and we always appreciate them.  Keep in mind, though, that with this post, we are only asking for topics for our regular podcast scripts/dialogues (not for the English Cafe, which we’ll ask about another time).  We can’t promise that all of your suggestion will be included in future podcasts, but we’ll do our best to include the most popular ones.  Let us hear from you!

~ Lucy

Monday - November 28, 2011

Podcasts This Week (November 28, 2011)

“What did you say?” “Could you repeat that?”

If you’re tired of not understand what you hear in English, listen to the podcast and get the Learning Guide. The Learning Guide helps you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 742 – Admiring Someone from Afar

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 have nothing on (someone)” and “to eat it up.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Toll-Free Phone Numbers in the U.S.”
“Many business want new customers to be able to call them to place orders or to ask questions without having to pay for the “long distance” (not local) call. For that reason, these businesses have “toll-free”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 322

Topics:  No-Tuition Colleges; the Sacco-Vanzetti Trial; crazy versus mad versus psycho versus mentally ill; using –ed words as adjectives; lo and behold

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Paying College and University Expenses.”
“While some college and university students are “supported by” (have their expenses paid for by) their parents, many other students “struggle” (try to overcome difficulties) to pay for tuition and other expenses…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 743 – Writing a Story

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 “character” and “period.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Use of the Second-Person Point of View in Writing.”
“Whether you read novels or newspapers, most of the written materials we read “on a daily basis” (every day) is written in the first person or third person. In American school, students are usually taught to write “expository”…”  – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - November 24, 2011

“You Can’t Gobble Me”

Today is Thanksgiving Day and we want to give thanks once again to all of our fantastic listeners, especially our members and donors, who make it possible for us to continue our work here at ESL Podcast.

In past years, we’ve talked about Thanksgiving in regular podcasts and Cafes ((ESL Podcast 91 and English Cafe 60).  We’ve also talked about it on the blog, here, here, and here.

This is a happy holiday for everyone, except perhaps for the poor turkeys.  For them, we play this song. We hope you like it, too.  (You can also access the video here.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

~ Lucy

P.S. Gobble has two common meanings:  It means to eat a lot of food very quickly, and it also refers to the sound that turkeys make.

“You Can’t Gobble Me”
(Original Song:  “You Can’t Hurry Love” by The Supremes)

Keep way (far) back,
I’m not your meal
Plan another meal
Hear my appeal (plea; serious request)

You can’t gobble me
on Thanksgiving Day
Why not eat tofu
feed yourself the vegan (without meat) way

You can’t gobble me
try as you may (even if you try)
Fill up on veggies (informal way of saying “vegetables”)
have yourself a deli tray (a large plate of cut meats and cheeses, often served at parties)

Now why can’t I find a place
to live in peace
Where I’m not a part
of someone’s Thanksgiving feast (big celebration meal)

Don’t want my giblets (heart, liver, neck and other parts of a chicken or other bird before it’s cooked) touched
Don’t want my drumsticks (lower part of the leg) gnawed (eat slowly with one’s teeth)
You know we turkeys think
It’s a major faux-pas (socially unacceptable behavior)
(Hear my appeal)

You can’t gobble me
on Thanksgiving Day
Why not eat tofu
feed yourself the vegan way

You can’t gobble me
try as you may
Fill up on veggies
have yourself a deli tray

Monday - November 21, 2011

Podcasts This Week (November 21, 2011)

Do you want to understand English speakers better? Do you want to understand TV shows and movies in English?

We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster. Get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more. Get the Learning Guide and support ESL Podcast today by becoming a Basic or Premium Member today!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 740 – Corporate Gift-Giving

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 “junior” and “to stick to.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Advice for Giving Corporate Gifts.”
“Many companies give gifts to their “clients” (customers) and “vendors” (suppliers) to maintain a good business relationship, show “appreciation” (gratitude and respect), and thank…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 321

Topics: Ask an American: National Jukebox; using “to” with to give and to send; a dime a dozen and other money idioms; complimenting doctors and nurses

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Jukeboxes.”
“The first jukeboxes were created in the 1890s, and were able to play only one song. In the late 1920s, technology improved so that the jukeboxes were able to…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 741 – Playing in a Tournament

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 “title” and “clash.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Tournaments.”
“In this episode, we discussed two types of tournaments: double-elimination tournaments and round-robin tournaments. But there are several other common types in U.S. sports…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - November 17, 2011

Bobby was Right!

More than 20 years ago – in 1988 – Bobby McFerrin wrote his song Don’t Worry, Be Happy. Before the year ended, the song had rocketed (risen quickly) to the top of the Billboard Top 100 Chart. The chart, published by Billboard magazine, is a list of the 100 most popular songs in the U.S. McFerrin’s song was the first a cappella (without instruments) song to ever become #1 on the chart.

Don’t Worry, Be Happy is a fun (enjoyable) song! And it’s funny, as you can see in this video.

The song showed up (appeared) recently on the Brain Pickings web site. Maria Popova, a writer for Brain Pickings, unpacked (analyzed and explained) some of the lyrics (words) and the scientific advice (opinion about what to do) they give for personal well-being (being healthy or happy). You may be familiar with some of the advice, but it’s often helpful to be reminded of things we already know.

Here are some of the lyrics from Don’t Worry, Be Happy and what Popova says we can learn from them:

“In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double (twice as bad)”

We’ve all probably noticed what happens when we keep thinking about things that we’re worried about – it makes them worse! And scientific research has found that constant (without stopping) worrying can be bad for our hearts.

“Here, I give you my [telephone] number
When you worry call me
I make you happy”

There’s probably nothing better than having a friend to talk to when you’re worried about something. Social support (encouragement and help from other people) helps protect us from the negative effect of stress (continuous feelings of worry) and worry. Finding a friend, and being a friend, can help reduce (make less) the effect of worry.

“Cause when you worry
Your face will frown (look unhappy or angry)
And that will bring everybody down”

Scientists tell us that we often mirror, or reflect, what we see other people do. So, if you smile, I’ll smile. If you frown, so will I. We can encourage each other by choosing to smile.

“Put a smile on your face”

There’s a popular piece of advice that says “fake it (pretend) ‘till (until) you make it (succeed)”.  Science tells us that if we think and act the way we want to feel, we will often experience the feeling we’re looking for. In other words, if we act happy, we’ll often become happy.

“Don’t worry, it will soon pass (go away)
Whatever it is”

A psychologist (someone who studies the mind and how people act) from UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) says that we overestimate (think something is larger than it is) the negative effect of things that happen to us – discovering we have cancer, getting a divorce, etc. Another writer wrote that “negative events do affect us, but they generally (usually) don’t affect us as much or for as long as we expect them to.”

It sounds like Bobby McFerrin understood a lot about life and well-being when he wrote Don’t Worry, Be Happy. He’s not a psychologist, but his intuitive (based on feeling rather than facts) insights (clear understanding) appear to be on target (correct).

A couple of years ago, I used McFerrin’s song to illustrate (show; explain) an important aspect (part) of language acquisition (acquiring, or picking up, a language by reading or listening) in an article I wrote. If you want, you can find it here.

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

Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Monday - November 14, 2011

Podcasts This Week (November 14, 2011)

Do you want to improve your English even faster? Get our Learning Guide for each podcast and get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, cultural notes, and more.

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 738 – Talking to a Mechanic

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 “trunk” and “shot.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Roadside Assistance Programs.”
““Roadside assistance programs” or “emergency roadside assistance programs” provide “assistance” (help) to drivers when they have problems while they are driving…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 320

Topics:  American Cities:  Columbus, Ohio; Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII; limit versus limitation; for X person to undercut set targets; to sponge off (someone)

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Columbus Day Controversy.”
“The United States “celebrates” (recognizes and honors) Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the Americas on October 12, 1492 with an official holiday each year.  It is celebrated on the second Monday each October…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 739 – Performing an Intervention

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 “cornered” and “to cut back.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Drinking Over the Holidays.”
“Some American holidays are “associated with” (connected to) “excessive” (too much) “drinking” (consumption of alcohol). This is especially true for “New Year’s Eve”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - November 10, 2011

The High Cost of Higher Education

By now, we have all heard about the so-called (what most people know it as, but may not be the official name) Occupy movement. Occupy, in this sense, means for people to take control of and to stay in a place, usually illegally or with force, so people have been occupying streets and other public places to protest (act in some way to show their disapproval of) social and economic inequality (where people are not treated fairly or in the same way).  The protests began on September 17 in New York City and San Francisco.  Since then, similar protests have taken place in over 95 cities in 82 countries.

Many different groups of people are airing their grievances (telling others why they are unhappy).  Some of the protestors taking part in the protests, at least in the U.S., are young people who are either in college or who have recently graduated.  With unemployment rates (the percentage of people without jobs) high, recent graduates are finding it difficult to start their careers and to start paying back student loans (money borrowed from banks and other institutions to pay for school).  According to Time Magazine, in 1990, the unemployment rate for college graduates was around 5%.  Now it is approaching (getting close to) 10%.

In the U.S., the price of higher education (study at a college or university) has soared (gone up very much).  In 1992-1993, the average student loan amount was about $15,000 (adjusted or changed to 2010 dollars).  In 2010-2011, it is over $34,000.  Most student loan programs give students a six-month grace period (time when someone does not need to pay back money yet).  After that, they must begin repayment (paying money back), whether they have a job or not.  Of those students who began repayment in 2005, 41% became delinquent (behind in their payment) or defaulted (could not repay a loan at all) within five years.  If you consider that as a country, the U.S. has more student loan debt (money owed) than credit card debt, this may very well (very likely) be the next big credit crisis (a time of big problems because of money people have borrowed and can’t pay back).

Students are certainly not the only ones protesting in the Occupy movement and suffering in this economy, but are recent graduates facing these types of problems where you live?  Who are the people participating in the Occupy protests in other countries?

~ Lucy

Photo Credit:  Day 14 Occupy Wall Street September 30 2001 from Wikipedia

Tuesday - November 8, 2011

Fall Festivals, Part 2

A few weeks ago I wrote about going to a traditional Midwestern (in the middle and northern part of the U.S.) fall festival, and described the types of games and events you might find there. Today we’ll talk about an even more important part of a fall festival: food.

Some of the food you will find at a fall festival could be found at almost any fair (festival) or celebration with a large number of people in the Midwest, including hot dogs, bratwursts (a type of German sausage), hamburgers, and corn on the cob.  In addition, at a Minnesota or Wisconsin fall festival, you will often find something called booya (sometimes spelled “booyah”). Booya is a stew or thick soup, typically made with beef but also sometimes with chicken, along with lots of different kinds of vegetables.  Booya is always made in a large kettle (pot or cooking container), and is cooked slowly over many hours to obtain (get) the best possible taste. Booya kettles are huge, holding up to 50 gallons (190 liters) of soup!  These large kettles are usually owned by a local church or community organization, and are used for many, many years.

The derivation (origin; place where something comes from) of the word “booya” is somewhat in dispute (people don’t agree on the answer). Some people say it comes from a mispronunciation of the French word bouillon, meaning “soup.”  The French explorers (people who go to areas previously unknown to them) in North America were the first Europeans to settle (live) in what are now Minnesota and Wisconsin, and many places in the Midwest have French names to this day (today). So it seems very possible that the word “booya” is derived from a French word.

However, booya is not considered a French food by Midwesterners, but rather something invented in the U.S. There are in fact very few French descendents (people whose parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. were originally from France) living in Minnesota today. And like many types of traditional food, there are arguments over whose booya recipe (instructions for cooking) is the best.

The fall festival I attended in October is famous in the Twin Cities (St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota) for its booya, and it tasted as good as I remembered it tasting as a teenager. Booya is so popular that festivals often run out of it (use or sell all they have) after just a few hours, so smart attendees (people who go to an event) arrive to the festival early.  After eating one bowl of booya at the festival, I got in line (stood in a line of people) to buy some more booya to take home with me for dinner. I’d love to share some with you, but the photo (above) will have to suffice (be enough or sufficient) for now!

~Jeff

Photo credit: Jeff McQuillan

Monday - November 7, 2011

Podcasts This Week (November 7, 2011)

Get ahead in work, school, or life by improving your English even faster with the Learning Guide. The Learning Guide has a transcript of every word spoken in the podcast, so you can find those words new to you or that you’re not sure about.  It also has additional vocabulary explanations, comprehension questions to test yourself, and cultural information about the U.S.

Help yourself and help us keep the podcast going by becoming an ESL Podcast Basic or Premium Member today!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 736 – Following One’s Dream

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 pass (one) by” and “guts.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Survivalist Movement.”
“The “survivalism movement” refers to people and groups that are preparing for future “disruptions” (interruptions; problems) in “society” (how people are organized to live together). Some “survivalists” are worried about “natural disasters”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 319

Topics:  No-Tuition Colleges; the Sacco-Vanzetti Trial; log and log in/log on; explanation versus interpretation; pronouncing consonant clusters

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Paying College and University Expenses.”
“While some college and university students are “supported by” (have their expenses paid for by) their parents, many other students “struggle” (try to overcome difficulties) to pay for tuition and other expenses…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 737 – Kitchen Appliances

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 “range” and “toaster.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Minor Kitchen Appliances.”
“Most kitchens in the United States have “major appliances” (large appliances) like a refrigerator, stove, dishwasher, and microwave. But they can also have many “minor appliances”…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - November 3, 2011

A Message from a Silent Lady

Possibly the oldest lady in the U.S. celebrated her 125th birthday a few days ago. For many years she never said a word, but her message spread throughout (to every part of) the world. When she did speak, her words were written by someone else. This is her story.

From 1836 to 1914, more than 30 million Europeans, including my family, immigrated to the U.S. During the 19th century (1800s) most came from northern Europe; in the early 20th century (1900s) they came mainly from southern and eastern Europe. The peak year (the year of the largest number) was 1907, when more than 1.25 million came from Europe to the U.S. The number could have been even larger: almost 15% of those who began the journey (long trip) died before they arrived.

For many of the immigrants who made that journey, the sighting (first view or look) of the Statue of Liberty announced (told them) that they had arrived safely, that the journey was almost over, and a new life was about to begin.

The Statue of Liberty has not always been the greeter (someone who welcomes) of immigrants and the symbol (something that represents or stands for something else) of hope for those who were looking for work and the freedom to think and worship (practice their religion) the way they wanted. She began life as a gift from a friend. During the American Revolution, France had fought with the U.S., helping it win its freedom from England. About 100 years later, in the late 1800s, France gave the Statue to the U.S. to celebrate both countries’ belief in liberty.

The Statue represents Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. She holds a torch (a burning light) in her right hand and a tablet (a flat piece of stone or wood to write on), representing the law, in her left hand. The date of the American Declaration of Independence – July 4, 1776 – is written on the tablet. A broken chain lies on the ground at her feet.

As immigrants passed (went by) the Statue on their way to New York harbor (where ships stop), it began to take on (develop) new meaning. That meaning became permanent as the result of a short poem written in 1883. The U.S. didn’t have enough money to finish the pedestal (base or support) the Statue stands on. Many Americans sent donations (money gifts) – often less than one dollar – to help pay for the pedestal. Many artists, like poet Emma Lazarus, created artworks to help raise money.

Lazarus’ poem, New Colossus, included the now-famous words that gave new meaning to the Statue. Here are some of the most important lines from the poem; I’ve paraphrased (used my words) some of it to make it easier to understand:

Here shall stand a mighty woman, the mother of exiles (people who live away from their native country). The light of her torch shines around the world, and she silently cries, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled (to be close together because you’re cold or afraid) masses (large numbers of people) yearning (desiring) to breath free.”

In 1903 Lazarus’ poem became a permanent part of the Statue. It was engraved (cut into a piece of metal) on a plaque (piece of metal with writing on it) and hung inside of it.

Happy birthday, Lady Liberty! May you have many more.

~ Warren Ediger, creator of Successful English.

Photo by Koshyk used under Creative Commons license.