ESL Podcast Home ESL Podcast Store
HOME > BLOG

Welcome to ESL Podcast Blog


Sunday - April 19, 2015

Podcasts This Week (April 20, 2015)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, 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 1096 – Improving 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 “vocal” and “to put (something) that way.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Online Reviews Controversies.”
“As ‘consumers’ (people who buy things) become ‘increasingly’ (more and more) dependent on online reviews…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 499

Topics: Americans Abroad – The Confederados in Brazil; Chaco Canyon National Historical Park; speaking in tongues, folks, porridge, and just right; to ingratiate (oneself) 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 Confederate Flag.”
“During the American Civil War, the states that wanted to ‘retain’ (keep) slavery legal in the southern part of the U.S. …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1097 – Landscaping a Home

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 “gravel” and “to rake leaves.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Turf Removal Programs.”
“As water ‘scarcity’ (a shortage; not enough of something) continues to ‘plague’ (bother; create problems for) many communities…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

 


Tuesday - April 14, 2015

Indian Fry Bread

1280px-FrybreadWhen I was in middle school (grades 6-8, about age 11-13; also called “junior high school”) and in high school (grades 9-12, about age 13-17), my friends and I would hang out (spend time) at the mall (shopping center with a lot of stores) on the weekends during our summer vacation. One of the things I looked forward to was the food.

We would often buy snacks and drinks from the stands selling food. Instead of a food court — an area in a mall with many fast food restaurants and shared tables for people to sit at to eat — these individual stands would be located throughout the mall, in the middle of the long walkways. A stand is simply a table, cart, or simple structure allowing customers to stand on one side and the employee to stand on the other to do business. To drink, my favorite was the Orange Julius stand, selling a very sweet orange drink that tasted as though it contained 1% orange juice and 99% sugar — delicious!

For food, my favorite was Indian fry bread. While Orange Julius is a national chain (company with many locations), the Indian fry bread stand was a local (belonging to this area or region) business. I didn’t know that when I was growing up. I assumed all Americans knew about and ate Indian fry bread, but of course I was wrong. Living in Tucson in southern Arizona, I was lucky to be introduced to this very yummy (delicious) snack because of the city’s proximity (nearness; close location) to the largest in area (land space) Indian reservations in the United States.

We’ve talked about Indian reservations in several podcast episodes (see, for example, English Cafe 139 and English Cafe 477). Indian reservations were pieces of land set aside (reserved) by the U.S. government for the purpose of forcibly (using force, against someone’s wishes) relocating (moving to a new place) Native American tribes off the land they occupied and onto less desirable (useful or wanted) land. Indian fry bread grew (developed) directly out of the establishment of reservations.

In 1864, one of the Native American tribes, the Navajo people, were forced by the government to leave their lands in Arizona and western New Mexico. The government forced the Navajo to walk 300 miles to a new area north, covering (including) parts of northeastern Arizona, southern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. This march was called the “Long Walk.”

On the new land, the Navajo could not grow the crops (fruits and vegetables grown for food) that previously had been the main part of their diet (what they ate): vegetables and beans. This not only changed their entire way of life, it also threatened (with the possibility of something bad happening) starvation (death because of the lack of food). The government did give them some food: canned goods (food stored in cans), white flour (powder made from grain used to make breads and cakes), processed sugar, and lard (fat from the stomach of a pig).

With these ingredients, the Navajo had to make do (do the best they could with the limited things they had) or die. This is how Indian fry bread was born (created). Indian fry bread is essentially (mainly) dough made from white flour and water deep fried in lard (cooked by placing it entirely in melted lard at high heat). A popular variety (type) — and my favorite — is sprinkled (for small amounts of a substance to be scattered (placed randomly) on top) with powdered sugar (sugar that is very fine (in very small pieces) and looks like dust).

Today, Indian fry bread is considered an integral (necessary and important) part of Navajo culture, and is popular among some of the other Native American tribes in the Southwest as well. It is an important part of cultural gatherings and celebrations called powwows. However, as you can imagine, a diet with a lot of deep-fried dough in lard is not very healthy, and in fact, poor health is a very big problem on many Indian reservations, including the Navajo Nation (reservations have their own governments).

While fry bread is an important part of the culture, it is controversial (a cause for disagreement), too. For some, it is a symbol (something that represents something else) of the government’s long history of ill-treatment (doing bad things to other people) toward Native Americans, one that continues to cause health problems for the Native Americans today. For others, though, it represents resilience (ability to stay alive even in very bad conditions).

If you visit Arizona or other parts of the America Southwest and see Indian fry bread for sale, I urge you to try a piece. But for the sake of (for the benefit of) your health, share it with nine of your closest friends.

– Lucy

P.S. There is a controversy (disagreement) about which term to use for the people who lived here before the arrival of Europeans. I’m using the term “Native Americans,” but Indian fry bread probably comes from the term “American Indians,” a term used less commonly nowadays (today). If you’re interested, you can read more about that controversy here.

Photo Credit: Frybread from Wikipedia


Sunday - April 12, 2015

Podcasts This Week (April 13, 2015)

icon_51812Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting 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 1094 – Tracing One’s Genealogy

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 trace” and “to zero in on.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Genealogical Studies.”
“The New England Historic Genealogical Society is the oldest and one of the best-known ‘genealogical societies’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 498

Topics: American Movies/Musicals – Mary Poppins; Craigslist; oblivion and to overwhelm; to select versus to elect; wee hours

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Food Banks.”
A food bank is a ‘non-profit’ (not intended to earn money) ‘charitable’ (helping others) organization…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1095 – Childhood Fitness

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 “shape” and “to smartmouth.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Physical Education in Schools.”
“Physical Education, or ‘PE’ classes, are common in U.S. schools, although they are ‘increasingly’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - April 7, 2015

Thank You, Gary Dahl!

pet_rockGary Dahl is not a household (remembered by everyone) name. But when he died last week, newspapers and TV news programs around the U.S. paid homage (did something to show respect) to him.

Dahl was responsible for what Time magazine called “One of the top 10 toy crazes (something that becomes popular suddenly but for only a short time)” of all time. Newsweek called it “one of the most ridiculously (silly or unreasonable) successful marketing schemes (clever plans) ever.”

Dahl’s scheme was born during a conversation with friends in a Northern California bar. They were complaining about their pets and all the care they required – feeding, training, cleaning. Dahl listened for a while, then told his friends that his pet never caused any trouble and required almost no care. They looked at him, and he quietly said, “I have a pet rock.”

He said it as a joke, but it soon became a business idea, and Dahl decided to sell Pet Rocks. He found a couple of friends to provide the money and began to work.

Pet Rocks were ready in time for Christmas 1975 and quickly became the gift that everyone had to have. The small smooth stones, just large enough to hold in your hand, came in a box that doubled (had another use) as a carrier. The box had holes in the sides so the rock could “breath.” And the Pet Rock sat in the box in a nest (a place where birds or other small animals live) of straw (dried stems of wheat or other plant) (see photo).

The best part of Dahl’s idea, and probably the funniest, was the 20-page manual (instruction book) that was included with each Pet Rock. It begins with this warning:

“Your new rock is a very sensitive (easily upset) pet and may be slightly traumatized (to be so upset that it affects you for a long time) from all the handling … required in bringing the two of you together. While you may look in on your new pet from time to time, it is essential (necessary) that you leave your rock in its box for a few days.”

You can read the manual here; it’s easy reading and very funny, especially if you remember that it’s talking about a rock.

More than one million people paid $3.95 each for a Pet Rock. But by February 1976 they had disappeared from the market. Interestingly, they became available again in September 2012 and, if you’d like to have your own Pet Rock, a simple Google or eBay search should help you find one.

Thank you, Gary Dahl, you made us smile, again!

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

Photo (cropped) by MegadriveFanboy used under Creative Commons license.


Sunday - April 5, 2015

Podcasts This Week (April 06, 2015)

icon_51812We are grateful to our members and donors, because we are only able to produce this podcast with the generous help of our listeners.

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

………

ON MONDAY
ESL Podcast 1092 – Keeping a Meeting on Track

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 “up in the air” and “to forge ahead.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Town Meetings.”
“A “town meeting” is a “public” (with anyone allowed to attend and participate) meeting…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 497

Topics: American Presidents – James A. Garfield; to resign/draw/abandon match; gorgeous versus magnificent; nail in (someone’s) coffin

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Classic Comic Strip: Garfield.”
“One of the most ‘recognizable’ (known by many people) comic strip characters is Garfield created by Jim Davis…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1093 – Having a Picnic

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 make do” and “dish.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Typical Picnic Foods.”
“During the warm summer months, many Americans enjoy having picnics in ‘the great outdoors’ …”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 31, 2015

Headline English: A Video Experiment

I’m trying a little video experiment today. I decided today that instead of writing my blog post, I’d just shoot a little video. I did this first thing this morning, as I was drinking my morning coffee (and before I shaved, as you’ll see!). I love reading the newspapers when I drink my coffee, so I combined all of that with a little lesson about the English that appears in some of today’s headlines.

I recorded it on my iPad, edited in a video editing app right on my tablet (iMovie), then published it to YouTube. The whole thing took less time than it normally takes me to write a post, although I did have a little trouble getting the YouTube connection to work.

So, there you go! Tell me what you think.

~Jeff

UPDATE: I just realized that I misspelled the name of the U.K. Labor Party leader in the video. It should be “Miliband.”

 


Sunday - March 29, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 30, 2015)

icon_51812Is your limited English standing in your way? Do you want to improve your English now?

Learn English even faster with the help of the Learning Guide. In it, 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 1090 – Speaking About the Future

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 “forward-thinking” and “to go back in time.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Back-to-the-Land Movement.”
“The back-to-the-land ‘movement’ (interest by a growing number of people in doing something or changing society in some way)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 496

Topics: Ask an American – Digital music technology; It’s called being nice versus It’s called been nice; to stutter versus to stumble; mean

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Recording Artists Discovered on YouTube.”
“In the past, ‘aspiring singers or bands’ (people who want to become professional musicians) had to send ‘tapes’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1091 – Punishment Children

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 beat up” and “to ground.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Corporal Punishment in Schools.”
“In the past, schoolteachers commonly used corporal punishment to punish students for bad behavior…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 24, 2015

Behind The Secret Door

9679917702_ee7f516e28_bWhen you walk into the Blind Barber, you’ll find what you expect in a barbershop (a place for cutting men’s hair). You’ll see a barber and his customers. You’ll hear “the buzzing (sound) of the shavers (electrical tools for cutting hair) and the snips (sound) of the scissors.” But if you walk through the barbershop and through the door in the back you’ll find something completely different – a bar (a place where drinks are served) where you can order drinks and sandwiches. That is the real Blind Barber.

To get into Dirty Laundry, you have to walk down a dark alley (a narrow street behind buildings) until you see a black-dressed man sitting at the top of a dark stairway and say to him, “I’m looking for Dirty Laundry.” He’ll tell you, “You’ve come to the right place.” Behind the door at the bottom of the stairs, you’ll find a bar, a small room with tables, and another room where musicians perform.

When you arrive at Lock and Key, you’ll find a wall covered with old door knobs (handles you turn to open a door). If you choose the right one, a door will open and you can walk in. If you choose the wrong one, nothing happens unless the doorman helps you find the right one.

The Blind Barber, Dirty Laundry, and Lock and Key are popular modern speakeasies here in Los Angeles. They are a throw-back (similar to something in the past) to the 1920s. Let me tell you the story.

From 1920 to 1933, there was a ban (official order against something) – called Prohibition – against making, selling, and transporting (moving from one location to another) alcoholic drinks in the U.S.

The goal of Prohibition was to reduce social problems, such as crime and corruption (dishonest and illegal (against the law) behavior by powerful people in government and business) and to help increase production (the amount of work done) in factories by making sure that workers stayed sober (not drunk). Unfortunately, it didn’t work so well.

During Prohibition, one of the few places you could find alcoholic drinks was in speakeasies, underground (secret and illegal) businesses where people ate, drank, gambled, and enjoyed music, especially jazz.

Many speakeasies were started during Prohibition. Police tried to shut them down (stop or close them), but as fast as they found and closed one, another would take its place. To try to keep police from finding them, bartenders (people who fix drinks) and waiters (people who serve food) would tell their customers to “speak easy,” to be quiet while inside a speakeasy and to not say anything about them outside.

Today’s speakeasies are legal. And they may be more fad (popular for a short time) than trend (something that will continue). But they are one way to relive (experience again) a small piece of American history.

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

 Credit: Eight modern speak-easy bars in L.A., for that insider feeling by Jenn Harris (with photos).

Photo of Club 21, a former speakeasy in New York, is used under Creative Commons License.


Sunday - March 22, 2015

Podcasts This Week (March 23, 2015)

icon_51812Get the full benefits of ESL Podcast by getting 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 1088 – Selling a Business

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 sell up” and “to try (one’s) hand at.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Business Valuation.”
“Business valuation ‘comes into play’ (becomes relevant; is needed or necessary) whenever someone needs to know the ‘market value’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 495

Topics: Famous Americans – Jim Henson and The Muppets; The Doors; peculiar versus weird; ambiance versus environment; to wet (one’s) whistle

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Gumby.”
“‘Animation’ is a technique involving filming drawings or physical objects to show movement and action…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1089 – Unconventional Marriages

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 “convention” and “to live apart.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Types of Weddings.”
“There are many types of ‘weddings’ (ceremonies that mark when two people get married to each other)….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - March 17, 2015

The Invention of Tighty Whities

JockeyUnderwear635If you mention the term “tighty whities” to any American, they’ll know you’re talking about close-fitting underwear that men wear (see photo) that is most often found in the color white. The term “tighty whities” is an informal term for these briefs. While today men’s underwear is available in many shapes, lengths, and fits, tighty whities are considered classics and continue to be very popular.  (Note that we always use this term in the plural — “one pair of tighty whities,” just like we would say “one pair of pants.”)

In the U.S., tighty whities or briefs are a fairly recent invention (new creation). Before they came along (were created), men wore tight-fitting underwear that reached down to their knees in a soft warm material called “flannel,” and they were often called “flannels” or “drawers.” (There were also other types of men’s underwear, usually worn for warmth called union suits or long johns. While we still use the term “long johns” for warm underwear for men and women that reach down to the wrists and ankles, we don’t use the term “union suit” anymore.)

In 1935, a clothing designer and company executive (person with a high-level position in a company) named Arthur Kneibler received a postcard from a friend. Kneibler’s company made socks and underwear. The postcard he received was sent from a friend vacationing on the French Riviera, a popular place to visit with beautiful beaches. The postcard showed a man in a bathing suit popular in France at the time (see photo here). The tight-fitting lower section of the bathing suit inspired (caused someone to have an idea) Kneibler to invent the underwear you see above. The new underwear did not have legs — as drawers, long johns, and union suits had — but instead had a “Y”-shaped front for the fly, or the opening in the front of a man’s pants or underwear. This new brief gave men support, but was also comfortable.

The company called these new briefs “Jockeys” because of their resemblance to (appearance similar to) a jock strap. The new Jockeys went on sale on January 19, 1935 in a Chicago department store called Marshall Fields. The new underwear was displayed on a mannequin (life-size figure used to display clothes). It was a very cold and windy day and the store didn’t expect many customers. However, all 600 pairs of this new underwear were sold in just one day! Within three months, more than 30,000 pairs of briefs were being sold all over the country. And, as they say (as is popularly said), the rest is history (everyone knows what happened next).

It’s not clear when people started using “tighty whities” as a nickname for white briefs, but it’s almost always used jokingly. For this reason, you wouldn’t, for example, ask the salesperson at the store where you can find the tighty whities, but rather you would ask for “men’s briefs” or “men’s jockeys.” (You’ll want to specify men’s because we also describe women’s underwear with the terms “briefs” and “jockeys.”)

Now why am I talking about men’s underwear? Well, why not? Maybe Jeff or Warren will write a post about pantyhose one of these days.

– Lucy

From  gq.com