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Archive for July, 2012

Tuesday - July 31, 2012

English Through Jokes II: Lost in the Flood

Since there was an overwhelming (large) majority who voted in favor of (for) including jokes on the blog, I am going to try another one today.  I’ll give the joke, then explain it briefly below.

There was an old man sitting on his porch (an area outside the house, usually in the front, on the first level), watching the rain fall. Pretty (very) soon the water was coming over (getting so high that it entered) the porch and into the house.

The old man was still sitting there when a rescue (someone who saves you in an emergency) boat came and the people on board (in the boat) said, “You can’t stay (remain) here! You have to come with us.” The old man replied, “No, God will save me.” So the boat left.

A little while (a short time) later, the water was up to (had reached; was as high as) the second floor (level), and another rescue boat came, and again told the old man he had to come with them.The old man again replied, “God will save me.” So the boat left him again.

An hour later the water was up to the roof (top of the house) and a third rescue boat approached (came near) the old man, and tried to get him to come with them. Again the old man refused to leave, saying, “God will save me.” So the boat left him again.

Soon after, the man drowned (died in the water) and went to Heaven (paradise), and when he saw God, he asked him, “Why didn’t you save me?”

God replied, “You dummy (idiot; stupid person)! I tried. I sent three boats after (for; to get) you!!”

The man thinks God will save him from the flood (when there is too much water in an area, making it dangerous to be there). But he doesn’t realize or understand that the rescue boats that come to help him are really sent by God, so the man doesn’t accept their help. God tells him this after he dies and goes to Heaven.

There are probably some good theological (theology = study of God) points (conclusions) you could make from this joke, but I’ll let you decide that for yourself.

~Jeff

Joke credit: CleanJoke.com; Photo credit: Pittsburgh Flood, 1936, Wikipedia PD

Monday - July 30, 2012

Podcasts This Week (July 30, 2012)

Take a look at our testimonials and read about the many benefits of the Learning Guide.

Use the Learning Guide with each ESL Podcast episode and you’ll learn English even better and faster.  In each Learning Guide 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 812 – Losing Employees to Other Companies

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 “match” and “to talk (someone) into.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Executive Search Companies.”
“Companies spend a lot of time and money “recruiting” (searching for a new employee) and “hiring” (giving a job to) employees, particularly…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 357

Topics:  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band; the Dust Bowl; suggestion versus hint versus tip versus pointer; increase versus raise; How do you like them apples?

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Billboard Charts.”
“Many radio stations in the United States have “countdowns” (songs played in order of popularity, going from the least popular to the most popular) of “hit” (successful or well-known) songs every weekend…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 813 – Doing Basic Exercises

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 “stretch” and “to see the light.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Fitness Fads.”
“Americans are often looking for a “quick fix solution” (something that will provide a rapid, inexpensive and easy solution to a problem), especially for losing weight and…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - July 26, 2012

What Would You Take?

Wildfires (large, uncontrolled fires) are as bad as their name sounds. They are usually driven (pushed) by high winds and fed by dry weather conditions. And they often devour (destroy; consume) everything in their paths.

We have frequent wildfires in California. Lucy wrote about the bad wildfires we had in 2007. One of them came to within a few miles of my house east of Los Angeles. Last year there were bad wildfires in the states of Texas and New Mexico. This year they consumed (burned; destroyed) large areas of Colorado.

Wildfires move fast. And people in their paths often have very little time – sometimes no time – to decide what to save before they flee (quickly leave) their homes.

Two years ago, Foster Huntington asked a group of friends at a dinner party, “If your house were on fire, what would you take with you?” He thought this question would be a “subtle (skillful, clever) way to get people to discuss their values” – what’s really important to them. He believed that the answers would tell something about each person’s interests, background (personal and family history), and priorities (what’s most important).

He and his friends shared their answers and had a lively (full of energy) discussion. After the dinner party, Huntington continued to think about his answer. And he asked other friends what they would take. He used the answers to start a new website – The Burning House – where he asks visitors to answer the question and submit (send, upload) a photograph of the items on their lists.

The Burning House web site went viral (quickly became popular on the Internet) and stories about it appeared in the media (newspapers, television, etc.). As it “snowballed” (grew rapidly), Huntington decided to quit his job as a designer at Ralph Lauren, an American fashion company, so he could travel across the U.S. and talk to people who weren’t typical (usual) Internet users. He wanted to write a book and he wanted to include everyone – young and old, rich and poor, from all parts of the U.S.

Huntington said he learned a lot as he listened to people’s answers. The “conversations almost always centered (focused) on the conflict (opposite feelings) of what you want versus (as compared to) what you need.” Usually, he writes, the important things represent who people are, key (significant or important) moments in their lives, and important relationships. Often they are not worth a lot of money.

In his new book The Burning House, he writes that “developed countries are consuming (using) more than ever. …people desire to define (describe) themselves by the possessions (things)  they [accumulate].” In the end he writes that “this project has taught me that I need a lot fewer material (physical) possessions.”

I encourage you to take a few minutes to look at The Burning House web site. Then come back here and tell us how you would answer the question – if your house were on fire, what would you take with you?

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

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Tuesday - July 24, 2012

ESL Podcast’s Seventh Anniversary

ESL Podcast celebrates its seventh anniversary this month. We started our podcast back in 2005, and since then have produced more than 1,100 episodes, or around 450 hours of English to listen to and learn from. We’ve enjoyed every minute of these past seven years, and are very appreciative for having the opportunity to help people from every country of the world improve their English.

As we do every year, we want to thank all of those who have made ESL Podcast possible, including: Adriano, our wonderful webmaster; Jessica, our fantastic main writer and customer service expert; Sue, our post-production genius, and our other writers and helpers.

A special thanks goes to Warren Ediger of SuccessfulEnglish.com for his always interesting and excellent blog posts on American life and culture.

Most importantly, we want to thank YOU, our listeners, and especially our subscribers and donors.  We could not do what we do without your support, so thank you, thank you, thank you!

Note: In the past we have had a special video for the anniversary, but this year, due to some technical problems, we were unable to produce one. However, we hope you’ll look forward to our 8th Anniversary Video next year!

Jeff & Lucy

Photo credit: Isaac Newton’s Seven Colors of the Rainbow, Wikipedia CC

Monday - July 23, 2012

Podcasts This Week (July 23, 2012)

Many listeners have told us that the Learning Guide is a big help in improving their English, helping them get good scores on English tests and to speak to and understand English-speakers better. What are you waiting for?

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 810 – Switching Cell Phone Plans

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 “roaming” and “carrier.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Switching Cell Phone Carriers.”
“In the United States, people can “switch” (begin working with a different company) their cell phone carrier at any time, but there may be…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 356

Topics:  Ask an American – The humanities; another versus the other; however versus conversely; to call it/them like/how (one) sees it/them

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Great Books of the Western World and the Great Books Program.”
“Many people and organizations have “compiled” (put together; created) lists of the “great books,” or the best and most influential books that have helped to “shape” (form) Western culture…”  – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 811 – A Heckler at a Sports Game

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 keep (something) up” and “to score.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Sport Fan Appreciation Events.”
“Many professional “athletes” (people who play sports) and sports teams have “fan appreciation events” to try to show how much they…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - July 19, 2012

A Photo Worth a Thousand Words

If you’re like me, you’re at least a little cynical (not trusting; believing people are acting for their own good, not yours) about politics and politicians. A few weeks ago, I saw this photo and it put a smile on my face. That’s hard to do when I’m reading about politicians.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s the story behind the photo:  The little boy touching President Obama’s hair is named Jacob, and Jacob’s father worked at the White House, but was leaving his job. As is tradition (normally done), he asked for a photo of his family with the President. As the family was leaving the room, Jacob’s father told President Obama that each of his sons had a question for him. Neither of the boys’ parents knew what they would ask.

Jacob, the younger son and only 5-years-old at the time, asked his question first: “I want to know if my hair is just like yours.”

The President responded, “Why don’t you touch it and see for yourself?,” and proceeded to (continued to) bend down (lowered himself from the waist) so that his head was within Jacob’s reach (near Jacob’s hand). Jacob hesitated and the President said, “Touch it, dude!” Jacob touch the President’s hair and Obama asked, “So, what do you think?” And Jacob responded, “Yes, it does feel the same.”

Even for cynical people like me, this was a very poignant (strongly emotional or meaningful) moment. For the little boy to meet someone who looked like him in this position of authority was not only meaningful for him, but perhaps for a lot of children like him. This photo is displayed in the White House and it is a favorite among White House staffers (employees). I can see why.

~ Lucy

* “A picture is worth a thousand words” is an old saying meaning that a complex or complicated idea can be communicated in just one simple picture or image.

Photo Credit: White House Photo

 

Monday - July 16, 2012

Podcasts This Week (July 16, 2012)

There’s no reason you can’t improve your English right now. All you need is to listen to ESL Podcast and to get the Learning Guide for each episode.

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 808 – Asking for Time Off

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 “case” and “shoot.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Paid Leave from Work.”
“Large companies offer many types of “paid leave,” or permission to not come to work for a certain amount of time and continue to receive a…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 355

Topics: American Presidents – Martin Van Buren; show business secrets; revenue versus profit versus turnover; limerick; how to address in-laws

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “How to Become and Extra for TV and Movies.”
“When most people think about television shows or films, they think about the “stars” or the actors who play the main characters. But these are not the only actors who appear in the show…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 809 – A Weather Forecast

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 clear up” and “sharply.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “TV Weather Forecasters.”
“A “TV weather forecaster” or “weather reporter” is someone whose job is to present the weather forecast during a TV news program. Some weather forecasters have training in…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Thursday - July 12, 2012

Uncle Shelby

Shel Silverstein – sometimes called Uncle Shelby – is one of America’s best-loved children’s writers and illustrators (person who draws pictures for books, magazines). He wrote stories and poems for children that are full of wisdom for adults. Silverstein died in 1999, but his works live on (continue to exist; be popular).

Silverstein is probably known best for his poem The Giving Tree, which later became the title for a collection of his poems. The Giving Tree is a story of a loving friendship between a boy and a tree, a friendship that grows and changes as the boy and the tree get older. It starts like this:

Once there was a tree…
and she loved a little boy.
And everyday the boy would come
and he would gather her leaves
and make them into crowns and play king of the forest.
He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches
and eat apples.
And they would play hide-and-go-seek.
And when he was tired,
he would sleep in her shade.
And the boy loved the tree…
very much.
And the tree was happy.

You can listen to Silverstein read The Giving Tree in this short 1973 animated video.

Not too long ago, I discovered a video of Silverstein’s 1970 appearance on The Johnny Cash Show. Johnny Cash was a very popular country-western singer and guitar player – Jeff talked about him on one of the first English Cafes.

On the show, after singing a funny short duet (song for two musicians) with Cash, Silverstein sings a poem called Daddy What If, a conversation between a father and his son. As you may know, many of those conversations begin with a child’s question; so does this one:

(Daddy what if the sun stop shinin’* what would happen then?)
If the sun stopped shinin’ you’d be so surprised
You’d stare (look for a long time without moving) at the heavens with wide open eyes
And the wind would carry your light to the skies
And the sun would start shinin’ again

*shinin’ = shining

If you want to read more of Silverstein’s poems, you can find many of them on the Poem Hunter website. You can learn more about his books on his website.

Shel Silverstein isn’t the only writer whose children’s stories and poems are enjoyed by adults. C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia is another good example, probably my all-time favorite. Two of my favorite contemporary American writers of children’s stories and poems are Patricia Polacco (start with Thank You, Mr. Falker) and Faith Ringgold (look at Tar Beach). Polacco and Ringgold are both artists as well as writers and illustrate their own books.

One of the special benefits of works by writers like Silverstein, Lewis, Polacco, and Ringgold is that they are full of interesting, easy-to-understand English (the illustrations help!) – just what you need to improve your English!

~ Warren Ediger – creator of Successful English.

 Photo of Shel Silverstein courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Monday - July 9, 2012

Podcasts This Week (July 9, 2012)

It’s summertime and the learning is easy, if what you want to learn is English.

We designed the Learning Guide to help you improve your 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 806 – Essential and Optional Things

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 “to take in.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Study Abroad Experiences.”
“Each year, approximately 300,000 American students participate in “study abroad” (a program where a high school or college student spends a few months or one year going to school in another country) programs…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 354

Topics: American Authors – Ernest Hemingway; the United Nations; revenue versus profit versus turnover; limerick; how to address in-laws

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about the “Justice League of America.”
“Justice League of America is a “fictional” (not real; imaginary) group of “superheroes” (people with powers that ordinary humans do not have) who work together to…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 807 – Getting an Unexpected Marriage Proposal

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 “sweet” and “to say the word.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Pre-Wedding Events.”
“Long before “wedding bells begin to ring” (a wedding happens), many events take place that “lead up to” (come before)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Monday - July 2, 2012

Podcasts This Week (July 2, 2012)

Why not make the best use of your time when you listen to our podcasts? Read along as you listen to improve your reading AND listening.

In our Learning Guides, you will see a transcript of every word spoken on the podcast. You’ll also get more vocabulary, language explanations, sample sentences, comprehension questions, and cultural notes, in each Learning Guide.

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 804 – Dealing With Time Changes in Scheduling

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 throw off” and “to set back.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Standard Time and the Railroads.”
“Through the mid-1800s, cities and towns in the United States used “local mean time,” which established a “uniform” (not changing; the same in all places) time for a specific…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 353

Topics: The Dred Scott Decision; the Zodiac; to snag versus to hitch; in the moment versus at the moment; I’ll tell you something

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Polly and Lucy Berry,” a slave and her daughter who successfully sued for their freedom.
“Many “slave narratives” (stories usually written by former slaves about their life as a slave) were written in the United States in the 1800s, but there are very few…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 805 – Listening to Shock Jocks

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 “commute” and “to go too far.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Infamous Shock Jocks.”
“America’s “airwaves” (radio stations) are filled with many DJs, but the “shock jocks” tend to get “the lion’s share” (most) of listeners’ attention…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide