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Archive for June, 2012

Thursday - June 28, 2012

George’s Extreme Vacation

George Grinnell was looking for adventure, for what some might call an extreme (an activity that may be dangerous) vacation. Many of his friends were going to Europe, but not George. For him, Europe was too safe, too comfortable, too ordinary.

Today, if you want an extreme vacation, you might shoot the rapids (ride a small boat in very fast water) on the Colorado River in the U.S. You might trek (make a long difficult journey on foot) across the ice fields of Patagonia in Chile. You might try to climb Mount McKinley in Alaska or Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa. Or you might kayak (ride a small one-person boat) the Baja Coast (where the land meets the ocean) of Mexico.

George didn’t have all those choices in 1872. But that didn’t stop him (keep him from doing what he wanted to do).

George and his friend Jim left Grand Central Station in New York and took the new Union Pacific railroad line to Plum Creek, a small town in Nebraska near the center of the U.S. A guide (someone who takes people where they want to go) led George and Jim on horseback to where they joined a group of Pawnee, a Native American tribe, who were following the buffalo (large animals sometimes called bison) south into the state of Kansas.

George and Jim were surprised to find more than 4,000 Pawnee – men, women, and children – traveling together across the plains (grasslands), in an area we now call the Midwest. They were welcomed by the Pawnee chief (leader) and accepted as guests. For the next week, they lived with the Pawnee as they hunted buffalo, their primary (main) source of meat and hides (animal skin) used for clothes and the tents they lived in. And they were invited to join the hunt.

George writes that the hunt began in the morning with a parade led by several Pawnee warriors. “Their saddles glittered (shined) with silver ornaments (decorations) and their bridles (leather straps used to control a horse) tinkled (rang) with little bells.” That afternoon George and Jim joined the Pawnee warriors, who rode their horses bareback (without saddles) and used only traditional bows and arrows to hunt with. They silently surrounded (made a circle around) a large group of buffalo. And when one of the Pawnee gave a “shrill cry (very loud sound)”, the hunt was on (began)!

After the hunt, George and Jim joined the Pawnee for a feast (large meal) of buffalo meat and other Pawnee foods.

A day or two later, they said goodbye to the Pawnee and began the long ride back to the railroad, but their extreme vacation wasn’t over! On the way (while they were traveling), they were chased and shot at by a group of Cheyenne, another Native American tribe. George wrote that “the song of each bullet created an extraordinary (very great) commotion (noise) in my mind!”

George Grinnell returned to New York and became an important conservationist (someone who protects nature), writer, and student of Native American life.

Nebraska and Kansas are a lot different now – tame, not wild. But it’s still an interesting part of the country. That’s what New York Times Travel writer Tony Perrottet discovered and writes about in an an article that retells (tells again) Grinnell’s buffalo hunt story and describes his own trip to Nebraska and Kansas to retrace Grinnel’s steps (go where he went). It’s a good story.

~ Warren Ediger – English tutor/coach and creator of the Successful English web site.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Monday - June 25, 2012

Podcasts This Week (June 25, 2012)

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If you enjoy our podcasts, please consider supporting ESL Podcast by becoming a Basic or Premium Member today!

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 802 – Talking About Movies

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 “stars” and “production value.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Lesser-Known Film Festivals.”
“‘Film festivals’ are events where many movies are shown to share ideas and introduce ‘rising’ (becoming more important and gaining popularity) producers. Some of them…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 352
Topics: Movies - E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; The MacArthur Fellows Program; important versus significant versus critical; tough; navel-gazing

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Famous Hoaxes: The Cardiff Giant.”
“There have been many “hoaxes” or tricks played on people throughout history. One of the most “famous” (well-known) of these hoaxes is “The Cardiff Giant.” In 1869 a 10 foot-tall…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 803 – Negotiating a Peace Treaty

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 “settled” and “banner day.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Unusual U.S. Treaties.”
“Although most treaties “deal with” (are related to) peacemaking, the Unites States has signed many unusual treaties “over the course of” (during) its history…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Monday - June 18, 2012

Podcasts This Week (June 18, 2012)

Don’t let the summer go by without improving your English. Get the Learning Guide and learn 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 800 – Advertising Jobs on the Internet

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 weed out” and “to post.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Job Placement Websites.”
“There are many “job placement websites” (websites designed to help employers find new employees and to help individuals find new jobs), but the two most popular…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 351

Topics: Ask an American – Rural doctors; let’s start versus let’s get started; continuously versus continually; chaos

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Loan Forgiveness Programs for Doctors and Nurses.”
“In an attempt to get more doctors and “nurses” (people who help doctors in the hospital or doctor’s office) to work in rural areas of the United States, governments and organizations have programs that…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 801 – Reading Online Reviews

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 “spot” and “pro.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Popular Travel Websites.”
“TripAdvisor is “arguably” (can be said to be) the most popular travel website, with about 27 million “unique visitors” (different people coming to a website at least once) each month…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - June 14, 2012

A Most Exclusive Club

Clubs are organizations for people who have a common (similar) interest or enjoy similar activities. And they’ve been around (existed) almost since the beginning of human history.

There are chess clubs for chess lovers. There are social clubs for people who enjoy socializing (spending time together in a friendly way). And there are service clubs, like Kiwanis or Lions, whose members work together to help other people.

Some clubs are small and local. Others, like Kiwanis and Lions, are large international organizations.

Most clubs have requirements and a process for joining (becoming a member). Some are easy to join, others are difficult. Many require members to pay dues (an amount of money) to help with the costs of the club.

In the U.S., there is a most (very) exclusive (difficult to become a member) club. It’s called The Presidents Club, and it’s described in a new book by two writers from Time magazine. Its members are the living former (previous; earlier) and current (present) presidents of the U.S. – Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barak Obama.

The Presidents Club is not a formal (organized) club. Its members usually meet only on special occasions.

The Club members come from different political parties and usually have very different ideas about how to run (manage) the country. Some of them ran (tried to be elected) against each other and were very critical (said negative things) of each other. As a result, the members of the Club sometimes have only one thing in common: they were or are presidents of the U.S.

I was most interested by two things from the book. First, all the presidents respect (care about) the office (position) of the president and want the current president to succeed (be successful). When all the presidents gathered (met together) after Barak Obama was elected, former president George W. Bush assured (say something is definitely true) the new president that they all wanted him to succeed, that the office is more important than the person or political party.

I was also interested in the ways that former presidents counsel (give advice to) and help the current president. President Obama recently said that the president’s job is very difficult, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t make everyone happy. And that’s why presidents often ask former presidents for advice and help – because they know and understand what it’s like to be president.

There are many examples. After World War II, President Truman secretly (without telling anyone) asked former president Hoover to help him solve the problem of feeding people in Europe. Presidents Kennedy and Johnson regularly asked former president Eisenhower for advice, including what to do in Cuba and Vietnam. Several presidents have asked Jimmy Carter to go to countries, like North Korea, when there are difficult problems to be solved (find an answer for a problem). And Bill Clinton and George W. Bush helped raise money for people in Haiti after the earthquake several years ago.

If you’d like to learn more about The Presidents Club, you can listen to an interview with the authors of the book. And you can look at this collection of photos called Former Presidents Look to One Another for Advice, Friendship.

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

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

 

Tuesday - June 12, 2012

The Barking Dog

Today’s post is something of (sort of) an experiment. I’m going to tell you a joke. I’ll explain some of the words in parentheses () just like we usually do. At the end of the joke, I’ll explain a little more in case you didn’t get it (understand it; laugh).

The experiment is this: Is a joke still funny and worth reading in English if there are explanations with it? I’d like to ask you to (a) read the joke and then (b) answer the poll (survey) question below.

Are you ready? Okay, here we go…

——————

The Barking Dog

A dog who was normally quiet began barking (making a loud noise) every night at around 3 a.m. Irritated (angry) and sleepy, the dog’s owner searched the back yard (behind his house) for what might have disturbed (caused a problem; angered) this otherwise (usually) peaceful (quiet) animal.

For three days he found nothing amiss (nothing wrong). When the dog woke up the neighborhood (barked so loudly that everyone in the area woke up) a fourth night at 3 a.m. with loud barking, the owner finally went around the house to investigate (see what the problem was).

There he saw his neighbor throwing pebbles (small rocks or stones) over the fence (something that divides two areas, usually tall pieces of wood or metal) at the dog. The owner asked his neighbor what he was doing.

“My mother-in-law (his wife’s mother) is visiting,” the neighbor explained. “If she gets woken up in the middle of the night (late at night, when everyone is sleeping) one more time, she says she’ll leave!”

——————

Explanation: The man was trying to make the dog bark to anger his mother-in-law so that she would leave his house early.

Okay, so maybe not the funniest joke in the world, but not too bad, right? Now for the poll question. Please answer as truthfully (honestly) as you can.

Did you think this joke was funny, even with the explanations and definitions?

View Results

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~Jeff

Photo credit: Boston Terrier, Wikipedia CC

Joke credit: JustCleanJokes.com, CC

 

Monday - June 11, 2012

Podcasts This Week (June 11, 2012)

Learning English should not be difficult. That’s why we created ESL Podcast and the Learning Guide.

We designed the Learning Guide to help you learn English better and faster, while you listen to the Podcast. 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 798 – Being Cautious or Thrill-Seeking

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 wrap (one’s) head around” and “in the least.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Activities for Adrenaline Junkies.”
“Adrenaline junkies choose to participate in a lot of activities that other people might “find” (think are; perceive as) “crazy” (insane; without logic), all in their search for…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 350

Topics: Famous Americans – Thelonious Monk; the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps); pen name; tingling versus stabbing versus burning; gringo

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Legendary Jazz Clubs.”
“One of the most famous jazz clubs of all time is The Cotton Club. The Cotton Club was opened in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City in the 1920s…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 799 – Dealing With the Heat

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 sweat” and “to drop.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Historic Heat Waves.”
“The United States has experienced many heat waves, many of which were “deadly” (killed many people). One of the most…” - READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Monday - June 4, 2012

Podcasts This Week (June 4, 2012)

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 796 – Setting Up Conference Calls and Videoconferences

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 factor in” and “connection.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Advantages and Disadvantages of Videoconferencing.”
“‘Videophone calls’ are designed to help individuals communicate over the phone with a video ‘link’ (connection) so that they can see each other…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 349

Topics: Migrant Farming in the U.S.; American Cities:  Palm Springs, CA; patronizing versus condescending; to right every wrong; to belong to versus to belong with

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Permanent Resident Card” for living in the U.S.
“The most important document people need if they plan to move to the Unites States is a “Permanent Resident Card,” also known as a “Green Card.” This card is…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 797 – Managing a Classroom

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 “settle down” and “at once.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Changes in Classroom Management.”
“Classroom “discipline” (ways of controlling behavior by rewarding good behavior and punishing bad behavior) has changed a lot over time. In the past, teachers used…”  - READ MORE in the Learning Guide