ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG > Archive for March, 2012

Archive for March, 2012

Monday - March 26, 2012

Podcasts This Week (March 26, 2012)

You didn’t understand something in the podcast? No problem!

Get the Learning Guide and see a transcript of every word you hear. In addition to a complete transcript, you’ll 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 776 – Getting Praise and Recognition

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 “praise” and “in the dust.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Employee Recognition.”
“Many American employers have special “employee recognition” or “employee appreciation” programs in which they try to recognize their best employees for their contributions to the company…”
– READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY

English Cafe 339
Topics: American Presidents: Herbert Hoover; knock-knock jokes; awful versus terrible versus terrific; initials in nicknames; that ship has sailed

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Hoover Vacuum Company.”
“A few American companies produce products that have become “synonymous” (very closely associated with) with the name of the company that made it.  For example, in the U.S., the small soft pieces of thin paper…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 777 – Supplies for Outdoor Recreation

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 “bug” and “spared.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Outdoor Recreational Activities.”
“Americans enjoy many types of outdoor recreation activities in addition to the hiking and camping described in today’s episode. “Backpacking” refers to…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Wednesday - March 21, 2012

It’s Not as Quiet as It Used to Be

According to Kim Tingley, a freelance (self-employed) writer, Danali National Park, in Alaska in the U.S., “should be a haven (safe place) for natural sound.” But apparently it isn’t.

The park is made up of “enormous (very large) stretches (areas) of wild country” that cover 9,942 square miles (24,585 square kilometers) and includes 20,320 foot high (6,194 meters) Mt. McKinley, the highest mountain in North America. Only “one dead-end (no way out at the end) and mostly unpaved (no smooth, hard surface) road penetrates (enters) the park.” But in spite of its size (even though it’s large), it’s not as quiet as you might think.

Since scientists began recording and monitoring (listening to see how it changes) sound in Denali in 2006, there have been only 36 complete days without the sound of some kind of man-made (made by humans) sound. Airplanes are the most common. On one day, a single (one) monitoring station recorded the sounds of 78 different airplanes. Other stations have recorded as many as one man-made sound every 17 minutes.

Tingley writes that “humans have … altered (changed) the acoustics (sound) of the entire globe (world).” And many of the changes are permanent (will last forever). Scientists have learned enough about the effects of man-made noise (unexpected, unwanted sound) to know that it is affecting the lives of many animals, just like climate change and urbanization (growth of cities) have done.

Noise is not a new problem. In a very old legend (traditional story), according to Tingley, the gods complained that they couldn’t sleep because of human noise. The Roman writer Juvenal complained about the same thing in 200 A.D. In the 1200s, some cities began to make laws to try to control noise, and in 1972, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared (stated officially) that noise is a pollutant (makes the environment dangerous).

Scientists have begun to create soundscapes – sound pictures made up of recorded animal and nature sounds, like wind and running (moving) water, as well as man-made sounds. They will use the soundscapes to try to identify healthy and unhealthy areas. Tingley’s article describes their attempts to do this in Denali. It includes some of the natural sounds scientists have recorded there.

Scientists hope to find and protect areas where it’s possible to hear and enjoy natural sounds. They hope that future visitors to these areas will have the same experience a fourth-grader did on a field trip to the National Wildlife Refuge (a safe place for wild animals) in Northern Virginia last year. When he got home he wrote: “the best thing about this place is that it has such nice noises that you don’t feel alone when you are alone.”

One of my favorite winter memories is driving up to a trail (rough path in the forest) near the railroad tunnel (a passage cut into a mountain) under Rollins Pass, high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado in the U.S. When we got there, we’d clip into (attach) our cross-country (Nordic) skis, put on a small backpack with sandwiches, snacks, and hot chocolate, and make our way up the side of the mountain. The only sounds we heard were the hissing (sound like “ssssss”) of the skis and our own heavy breathing as we worked our way up the trail. Around noon we’d stop at a small mountain meadow, take off our skis, and sit down on the sunny side of an old deserted cabin. As we ate our sandwiches and drank our hot chocolate, the only sounds we heard when we weren’t talking were the wind whispering (speaking softly) in the trees and the quiet bubbling (sound of water on small rocks) of a small stream as it fell down the side of the mountain. I wonder if it’s still that quiet there today. I hope so.

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

Photo of Mt. McKinley courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

Monday - March 19, 2012

Podcasts This Week (March 19, 2012)

Listening to ESL Podcast will improve your English, but the Learning Guide is the key to improving your English even 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!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 774 – Describing Height and Build

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 “pounds” and “short.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Ideal Body Weight.”
“Many people know they are overweight or “obese” (extremely overweight), but they don’t know how much weight they need to lose to reach their “ideal body weight,” or the number of pounds…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 338

Topics: Famous Americans – Ansel Adams; Ben & Jerry’s; to find out versus to figure out versus to seek; “too” constructions; dummy versus idiot

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about the “Ice Cream Sundae.”
“Americans love ice cream and several ice cream desserts have a long tradition in the United States. Perhaps the most popular and common one, “aside from” (except) the ice cream cone, is the ice cream sundae…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 775 – Making Repairs on the Outside of a House

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 “crack” and “fence.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Maintenance of a Home’s Exterior.”
“City “ordinances” (laws; rules) determine who is responsible for maintaining the sidewalk in front of the house. In many cases, the homeowners are responsible…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Tuesday - March 13, 2012

A Question of Time*


QUESTION:
Vahid from Iran asks: “I have a German friend. When she wants to ask about time instead of saying “What time is it?” she says “What late is it?” I want to know if this is correct or not.

ANSWER:
The most common expression for asking the time is “What time is it?”, followed by “What’s the time?” You can also say, “How late is it?” although you would not use it to ask the time in general, but in situations where you’ve been doing something for a long time, or where you have to be somewhere else at a set time and you are concerned about being late.  (We would not say “What late is it?”)  For example:

A: “We’ve spent six hours on this report.”
B: “How late is it?”

A: “The party to release Jeff’s new CD is at 8:00.”
B: “How late is it? I need plenty of time to get ready for the party.”

In response, you can give the exact time, or use one of these common terms: “about/ish,” “almost,” and “just past.”

For instance, if it is 6:27, you could say:

– “It is 6:27 (six twenty-seven).”
– “It is exactly 6:27.” (if you want to emphasize the precise time)
– “It is about 6:30 (six thirty).” or “It is 6:30-ish.” (if you don’t need to be precise.  In British English and in old-fashioned speech/writings, you may hear “half past six,” but that is not commonly used in American English today.)
– “It is nearly/almost 6:30.”
– “It is just past 6:25.”

We also talked about telling time in ESL Podcast 378, in case you’re interested.  Thanks to Vahid for the question and I hope that helps.

~ Lucy

P.S. *When we use the expression “a question of,” we mean “an issue related to” or “will be decided by.”  For example:
– “Whether I can take a vacation to Asia this summer is a question of money.”
– “We’re not sure who will get the new job.  It’s a question of who has the best leadership skills.”

Monday - March 12, 2012

Podcasts This Week (March 12, 2012)

Get the most out of the time you spend improving your English. Get the Learning Guide!

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!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 772 – Types of People at Work

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 “lay of the land” and “to get in (someone’s) way.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Office.”
“Some popular American television shows are “adaptations” (slightly changed versions) of British TV shows. One of these is The Office, which is a…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 337

Topics: Famous Authors – Stan and Jan Berenstain and the Berenstain Bears; getting married; to stand for versus to refer to (as); the past simple and the present perfect tenses; especially

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Marriage Vows.”
“In the U.S., many wedding ceremonies use some “version” (similar to, but not exactly) of the traditional Christian “marriage vow” (the words of love and promise said between the two people getting married).  The traditional vow is usually something like this…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 773 – Dealing With Debt

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 “behind” and “charge.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Debt Consolidation.”
“Many Americans “live beyond their means” (spend more money than they make; have an expensive lifestyle they cannot pay for) by using credit cards and loans…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - March 8, 2012

Sometimes the Blind See More

People who are blind (can’t see) because they see less, often see more. That may sound like a contradiction (both statements can’t be true), but I believe it’s often true. I’d like to illustrate (show) what I mean with a story about a blind woman, a tall building, and a letter. When you get to the end, I think you’ll understand. And I think you’ll agree.

The woman is Helen Keller, who lived from 1880 until 1968. When she was 19 months old, Keller became very sick and, as a result, became both blind and deaf (couldn’t hear). Her blindness and deafness made it impossible for Keller to communicate with other people and left her isolated (alone). The Miracle Worker, a popular movie and play (story performed by actors in a theater), tells the dramatic (exciting) story of how her teacher, Anne Sullivan, helped her break out of (escape from) her isolation to become a world famous speaker and author.

The building is the Empire State Building, perhaps the best-known building in New York City. This 102-story (floor or level) skyscraper (very tall building) was completed in 1931. For 40 years it was the tallest building in the world. It’s a landmark (easily seen and recognized), popular tourist destination (place to visit), and cultural icon – it’s easily recognized and represents New York and the U.S. to many people around the world. The Statue of Liberty is another cultural icon in New York City.

In 1932, a doctor, Dr. John Finley, saw a picture of Helen Keller standing at the top of the Empire State Building. He was struck by (it seemed unusual) the thought of a blind person visiting the top of the building, so he wrote her and asked what she “saw” from there. Keller answered his question in a letter that illustrates (shows) what I wrote earlier – even though she couldn’t see what we see from the top of the Empire State Building, she saw more.

She wrote that it was a thrilling experience to be “whizzed (taken quickly) in a ‘lift‘ (elevator) a quarter of a mile heavenward (up, toward heaven) and to see New York spread out like a marvelous tapestry (a picture made up of many different parts) beneath us.” She didn’t think about the building itself. She said she thought about the “passionate (showing strong feelings) skill (ability)” and “fearless idealism (dreams and beliefs)” that created the building. In her mind she saw so many skilled workers that they couldn’t be counted and heard the noisy sounds of construction. She thought about the many “frail (not strong)” human hands that worked together to lift the tall building to its “dominating (taller than other buildings) height.”

Keller called the completed building “a victory of imagination.” The Empire State Building, she wrote, gives people courage (be brave in a difficult situation) and helps them dream about even greater accomplishments. As she stood at the top, she says she felt as if she were standing among the sun and the stars. “The solar system (our sun and its planets) circled above my head!” she wrote. “Why, I thought, the sun and the stars are suburbs (an area around the center of a city) of New York, and I never knew it! … All sense (feeling) of depression and hard times vanished (disappeared).”

Truly (certainly), Helen Keller saw more, even though she saw less. You can find her complete letter at the Letters of Note web site.

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

P.S. If you want to hear more about Helen Keller, listen to English Cafe 189.

Photo of the Empire State Building courtesy of the Wikipedia Commons

 

Tuesday - March 6, 2012

Not a Lin-stant Success

If you have been following (paying attention to) American sports at all in the past two months, you have probably heard of a 23-year-old basketball player for the New York Nicks named Jeremy Lin. Lin has become what we might call a household name (someone that everyone knows about) practically (almost) overnight (in a single day; very quickly).  Who is Jeremy Lin, and why has he become so famous?

Lin was born in Los Angeles to Taiwanese immigrant parents, but was raised (grew up) in Palo Alto, California, near San Francisco. He was a star basketball player in high school, and led (was the leader of) his team to the California state championship. But while he was an excellent student and a very good player, he was not considered by most college basketball scouts (people who look for and evaluate athletes) to be a great player. He was recruited by (asked to come to) Harvard, which is not exactly (not at all) known for great athletes. Even at Harvard, he was not very successful as a basketball player. But he got good grades, and became the leader of a Christian group on campus (at the college). He kept (continued) working, kept learning, kept improving.

After graduating from college in 2010, he was (again) not very successful in his attempt to be a basketball player. He failed several times over the next two years with different NBA (National Basketball Association) teams, each time being told he just wasn’t good enough. It looked like he would not be able to make it (be successful) in basketball, despite all of his hard work. Finally, he was given a chance to play in the starting lineup (the players who begin the game, usually the team’s best players) for the New York Knicks team in early last month.

Then it happened: Lin became a star.

Lin scored more than 20 points and had more than seven assists (when a player helps another player score a point) in this first five games, the first player in the history of the NBA to do that. He scored more than 130 points in his first five games, more than any player in the past 35 years. Suddenly, he was being talked about by every basketball fan in the country. Sports Illustrated, America’s most popular sports magazine, put him on their cover (front page) two weeks in a row (consecutively; one after the other). Every newspaper, news magazine, and television station has had stories about his amazing success. And Lin continues to win.

Part of the reason for Lin’s popularity is his underdog story. An underdog is someone who is not expected to win, who doesn’t appear likely to win. There have been very few Asian American professional athletes in the U.S. Plus (in addition), Lin had failed so often in the past, no one thought he would succeed. But through hard work and, he says, his prayers, he did succeed.

In some ways, Lin has shattered (broken) the false stereotype (popular or typical beliefs about a group of people) that one’s race or ethnicity is important in athletic success. And he has shown that hard work and persistence (not quitting) can pay off (bring you success).

His name also contributed somewhat to his success, in an odd (strange) way. Because there are so many words in English that begin with an “in” sound, and Jeremy’s last name is “Lin,” American reporters have put his name in front of these words to form puns, which are words that have two different meanings, or that sound like other words, and are used to make a joke. For example, his success has been called “Lin-sanity” (from insanity, meaning craziness). He is a “Lin-credible” (incredible = amazing) player. His success was not “Lin-stant” (instant = immediate; right away). And so on.

What does the future hold for (what will happen to) Jeremy Lin? It’s impossible to say. In interviews, he says he would like to devote his life (spend his time) after his basketball career to being a pastor (a Christian religious leader) and helping those in need (who need help). But for now, he will shoot hoops (play basketball), win games, and continue to be “Lin-sanely” (insanely = amazingly) popular.

~Jeff

Photo credit: Jeremy Lin, Wikepedia CC

 

Monday - March 5, 2012

Podcasts This Week (March 5, 2012)

You don’t have to do it alone. ESL Podcast is here to help you improve your 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!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 770 – Joining a Tour

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 take in” and “rave.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Popular Family Vacation Destinations.”
U.S. News and World Report, a national newspaper, has created a list of the 15 best family vacation “destinations” (places to go) in the United States. Here are some…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 336

Topics: Ask an American – Self-publishing; intrinsic versus native versus innate versus congenital; recently versus currently; soccer

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Self-Published Bestsellers.”
“Most self-published books never find a large audience. They tend to be written for a “niche” (a small group of people with specific characteristics) audience. However, some “classics” (books that are very well known and respected) with a very large audience were actually self-published…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 771 – Commuting by Train

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 “platform” and “underway.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Commercial Rail Systems in the United States.”
“There are many commuter “rail” (with trains or train-like vehicles that travel on metal tracks attached to the ground) systems in the United States. The “commuter rail systems” travel between major cities…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide