It’s Spring – Let’s Party!

Spring is here, and in the next few weeks U.S. students will be getting one week of vacation from elementary (kindergarten to 5th grade) and secondary schools (middle school/junior high school and high school), and from colleges and universities.

For students, especially college students, spring break is a time to go on vacation with friends and to go to a lot of parties. Whether you’re partying for spring break, attending a friend’s birthday party, or going to a more formal gathering (social meeting), you might find these terms useful to talk about parties and the people who attend them.

Americans have many terms to talk about party-goers (people who go to parties). A guest of honor is the person for whom a party is held (organized and hosted). For example, at a birthday party, the person who is celebrating a birthday is the guest of honor. At a graduation party, the person who has completed his or her studies is the guest of honor. Often there are VIPs (an acronym for “very important people”) at a party. If your boss comes to a party, then he or she might be a VIP even if he or she isn’t the guest of honor.

Sometimes people come to a party without an invitation (a request to attend or go to an event). These people are called party crashers. In American movies, you sometimes see parties on college campuses (the buildings and land belonging to a college/university,) which are ruined by party crashers who drink too much alcohol and damage the home where the party is being held.

A party pooper is an informal term for a person who isn’t very much fun at a party–or any social event. A party pooper is someone who is sad or depressed and makes it difficult or impossible for other people to have fun. Often a party pooper is a person who doesn’t want to do what everyone else wants to do.

The opposite of a party pooper is a party animal or the life of the party. The term party animal isn’t used very often today, but you still hear people use it jokingly to refer to a person who really enjoys going to parties and has a lot of fun, often getting too wild (out of control). The life of the party is simply someone who makes the party more fun and is often the center of attention (the person other people notice because he or she is interesting).

Finally, some people who go to parties are known as wallflowers. A wallflower is a very quiet and shy person who doesn’t enjoy talking to other people and sits quietly somewhere and is not noticed. This is especially true at dances, where wallflowers sit and watch everyone else dance, but are too timid (shy) to dance themselves.

So the next time you throw (have) a party, let’s hope you don’t get any party crashers or party animals attending the party and upsetting the VIPs or the guest of honor (but don’t forget to invite me!).

~ Jeff

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eslpod
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/eslpod
Learn English Magazine: http://www.learnenglishmag.com (free Apple/Android app)
* This post was adapted from “Culture Note” from Daily English 338. To see the rest of the Learning Guide, including a Glossary, Sample Sentences, Comprehension Questions, a Complete Transcript of the entire lesson and more, become a Select English Member.
Posted in Life in the United States | 10 Comments

NEW Daily English and Cultural Lessons – March 2017

icon_51812New lessons are released the first day of each month.

Here are a few of the new lessons available for March 2017.

To listen to these and other Daily English and Cultural English lessons, become a Select English Member today!
………

DAILY ENGLISH 1292 – Being a Victim of Extortion

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 pay up” and “to lay off.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Cyberextortion.”
“‘Cyberextortion’ is a type of extortion in which the ‘criminal’ (the person who is breaking the law) uses the Internet to force other people…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

CULTURAL ENGLISH 597
Topics: The Bald Eagle and the Great Seal of the United States; to sleep in versus to oversleep; to be (once, twice, etc.) removed; wantonness

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Success Stories of Animals Once Endangered.”
“The Endangered Species Act tries to prevent ‘extinction’ (when a type of plant or animal can no longer be found)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

DAILY ENGLISH 1293 – Types of Body Noises

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 get back on one’s feet” and “constantly.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Famous A Cappella Pop Artists.”
“‘A capella’ music refers to singing without ‘accompaniment,’ or without instruments that are playing at the same time…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Posted in Announcements | Comments Off on NEW Daily English and Cultural Lessons – March 2017

The Railroad That Wasn’t

Imagine, if you can, a railroad that had most of the things that railroads have . . .

  • passengers or freight (packages),
  • stations (where trains stop so people can get on and off),
  • conductors (people who check tickets and help passengers),
  • routes (a way to get from one place to another)

. . . but no trains and no tracks (the metal strips that trains ride on).

February is Black, or African-American, History Month – when we celebrate important people and events in black history in the U.S. and Canada. One of the fascinating chapters in that history is the story of the railroad that wasn’t – the Underground Railroad.

The Underground Railroad wasn’t a real railroad. And it wasn’t underground (beneath or below the earth). It was a network (system) of people who worked together to help slaves who had escaped from their owners to move from the southern U.S. to the northern states and Canada where they could be free. It was called “underground” because everything they did had to be secret. They used railroad language so that if anyone heard them talking, they wouldn’t know what they were talking about.

The Underground Railroad was made up of meeting places and safe houses – “stations” – that connected different different routes and different parts of each route. Slaves, who were sometimes referred to as “freight,” walked or rode in farm wagons about 10-20 miles (16-32 km) from one station to the next in small groups, usually at night. During the day, they rested in farm buildings, church basements (under the floor), or caves (large holes in the ground).

Conductors – free blacks, people who used to be slaves, and friendly white people – helped lead each group of escaped slaves from station to station along the railroad.

Traveling along the Underground Railroad was dangerous, even after the slaves crossed into the northern states. Bounty hunters, people who tried to find and catch slaves for money, were active, even in the North. If slaves were caught, the laws didn’t protect them very well, and many of those who were caught were taken back to their owners in the South.

Even though it was difficult and dangerous, about 100,000 slaves traveled the Underground Railroad to freedom in the northern U.S. and Canada before the Civil War.

This year the New York Times published an interesting set of articles about the Underground Railroad. The first, “Harriet Tubman’s Path to Freedom,” tells the story of Tubman, the most famous conductor. After she escaped slavery, she made 13 more trips along the railroad to help other slaves make their way to freedom.

The first article includes a map that changes as you read to show the places the article is talking about. At the end of the article you will find links to the other articles. Now that you know a little about the Underground Railroad and some of the words used to talk about it, you will find it easier to understand this important chapter of U.S. history when you read them.

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

Photo of The Underground Railroad Memorial courtesy of Wikipedia Commons.

Posted in Life in the United States | 9 Comments

NEW Daily English and Cultural Lessons – February 2017

icon_51812New lessons are released the first day of each month.

Here are a few of the new lessons available for February 2017.

To listen to these and other Daily English and Cultural English lessons, become a Select English Member today!

………

DAILY ENGLISH 1290 – Describing Car Speed and Power

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 “performance” and “in the shop.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Demolition Derbies.”
“Some people like to go to the ‘racetrack’ (an oval path used for competitions of speed)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

CULTURAL ENGLISH 596
Topics: Popular Idioms – “Dutch courage,” “Dutch treat/To go dutch,” and “Dutch uncle”; antique versus vintage; necessary versus needed; to make (one’s) case

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Double Dutch”
“Many children love ‘playing jump rope’ where they hold the ends of a ‘rope’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

DAILY ENGLISH 1291 – Types of Metal

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 “silver” and “to stock”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Debate Over Whether to Eliminate the Penny.”
“In the United States, a “penny” is the lowest-value ‘coin’ (circular, flat, metal money) and is worth only one ‘cent’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments

And The Award For Worst Movie of the Year Goes to . . .

golden_raspberry_awardThe Academy Awards (also called simply “the Oscars“) are here again. This Sunday, February 26th, the Academy Awards will be given out (distributed) honoring (recognizing and celebrating) the best films of 2016.

Most people have heard of the Academy Awards, considered the most prestigious (respected) award a movie can receive in the United States. But do you know that there are also awards for the worst movies of the year?

Let me introduce you to the Razzies.

In 1980, a new set of awards was created called The Golden Raspberry Awards, commonly called “the Razzies.” These awards honor a completely different type of film: the movies from the past year that were absolutely terrible.

Why are they called the “Golden Raspberry” awards? A raspberry is a type of red fruit, but the name of the award is referring to “blowing a raspberry,” which is when you put your tongue between your lips and blow out air, making a noise that sounds like a fart or flatulence (gas coming out of the rear or bottom of your body). Blowing a raspberry is a (not very nice) way to show that you do not like something or that you feel that something is silly or ridiculous.

Nominations (proposing someone or something for an award) for the Golden Raspberry Awards are announced one day before the Academy Award nominations, and the awards are presented one day before the Academy Awards are given out.

In addition to the categories of awards that you might expect—such as Worst Actor, Worst Picture (film), and Worst Director—Razzies are also given out for things like the “Worst Screen Couple” to two people who are romantically involved in a film.

Another Razzie given out each year is the Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-off or Sequel. A prequel is a movie that occurs in time before another film that has already been made, giving the background or early story of the same characters. A sequel is a movie that occurs in time after another film that has already been made, telling the story of what happened after the first film ended. A remake is a modern version of an older film. A rip-off is an inferior (worse or lower quality) version of something, taking important parts of the original without giving it credit (saying where it came from).

The Razzies are given out tongue in cheek (as a joke) and are not taken seriously. Most people do not go to the award ceremony to receive the award. However, a few celebrities, such as Hale Berry and Sandra Bullock, both winning for Worst Actress, have done so to show that they have a sense of humor (ability to appreciate a joke).

Since there are more bad movies than good ones each year, in a way it is much harder (more difficulty) to win a Razzie than an Oscar.  There’s so much competition!

What are some of the worst movies you’ve seen that you think should get a Razzie this year?

~ Jeff

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/eslpod
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/eslpod?
Learn English Magazine: http://www.learnenglishmag.com (free Apple/Android app)
Image Credit:  From Wikipedia
* This post was adapted from “What Insiders Know” from Cultural English 209. To see the rest of the Learning Guide, including a Glossary, Sample Sentences, Comprehension Questions, a Complete Transcript of the entire lesson and more, become a Select English Member.
Posted in Television and Movies | 16 Comments

NEW Daily English and Cultural Lessons – February 2017

icon_51812New lessons are released the first day of each month.

Here are a few of the new lessons available for February 2017.

To listen to these and other Daily English and Cultural English lessons, become a Select English Member today!

………

DAILY ENGLISH 1288 – Being a Job-hopper

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 “lined up” and “to jump ship.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Resume Problems and how to Solve Them.”
“Most job ‘applicants’ (people who are applying for a job) must ‘submit’ …” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

CULTURAL ENGLISH 595
Topics: National Lampoon; contest versus competition versus match versus game; (in the) meantime versus meanwhile

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Harvard Lampoon.”
“In 1876, seven ‘undergraduate’ (student at a college or university earning a bachelor’s degree) students…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

DAILY ENGLISH 1289 – Problems With Drinking Water

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 “well” and “tub.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The Clean Water Act.”
“The Clean Water Act, ‘effective’ (made into law in) 1972, is the ‘main’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Posted in Announcements | 14 Comments

(Extra) Ordinary People

Sunday began gray in Huntington Beach, a popular southern California beach city. And cool, almost cold.

Surfers were out early, trying the larger waves brought by recent storms. Seagulls circled above, as they do, looking for something to eat – fish, and if not fish, some small scrap (piece) of food dropped on sand or sidewalk. And screaming when they couldn’t.

Then the runners began to arrive. Some crawled out of (got out of) cars at designated (specially marked) drop-off points. Some stepped down out of shuttle buses (buses that go back and forth between two places). Others wandered in (walked or traveled) from who knows where. They came from all 50 states of the U.S. and 17 foreign countries, more than 15,000 of them.

They gathered under a banner (sign) that read “Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon” stretched across (placed over) Pacific Coast Highway, Highway 1, that follows the coastline of California for more than 655 miles (1,054 km).

This was no Boston Marathon, or New York, or even Los Angeles. There were no elite (top; among the best) runners. But your cousin was there. And your friend from work. And the guy from down the street.

Some looked like runners. Others didn’t, like the woman behind me who said, “I’m going to take it easy, then run like h*** for the last 5k (5,000 meters).” I’m not sure she could have run that hard for 500 or even 50.

When the time came, the runners started in waves (groups), fastest first. And in a few minutes, they disappeared down the road.

If you had wandered among the spectators waiting for the runners to return to the finish line, you would have discovered that this was more party than competition. An opportunity for family and friends to celebrate and cheer for Colin or Joe or Vanessa or whatever their names were.

There were balloons. Homemade signs. And a band, three old guys on the sidewalk, playing rock-and-roll favorites. They were good! Lines at coffee shops along PCH grew until they stretched out the doors and onto the sidewalks. With coffee in hand, people wandered around or found a place to sit and talk and wait.

After two or three hours, the runners began to return. They would do that for several hours more. And as they arrived, we began to hear their stories.

Dorothy says this will be her last half marathon. She walked, not ran, her first 25 years ago. She walked it again Sunday with her daughter, her granddaughter, and her great-granddaughter. The Orange County Register, a newspaper, reported that, for the last several years, Dorothy has written her age on the back of her t-shirt followed by “Come walk with me”. This year the number was 90.

There was the story of the short brown rope. I saw, but didn’t get the names of, two women running side-by-side as they neared the finish line, each holding one end of a short brown rope. When I looked a second time, I understood: one of them was blind. Her friend had run beside her the entire race, holding onto the rope so her blind friend could run free.

Adam’s story started 11 years ago. That’s when he was told that he would never walk again because of a car accident. Two years ago he walked for the first time since his accident, thanks to an exoskeleton – a science-fiction-like device that attaches to his legs and uses small motors to make it possible for him to walk. Even with help he can only walk half as fast as other people. But he walked the last three miles Sunday, part of the one-million steps he hopes to walk in races like this to raise money – $1 per step – so others who have suffered injuries like his can walk again, helped by similar technologies.

Ordinary people. Doing extraordinary things.

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

Surf City Marathon/Half Marathon photo by W. Ediger.

Posted in Life in the United States | 3 Comments

NEW Daily English and Cultural Lessons – February 2017

icon_51812New lessons are released the first day of each month.

Here are a few of the new lessons available for February 2017.

To listen to these and other Daily English and Cultural English lessons, become a Select English Member today!

………

DAILY ENGLISH 1286 – Experiencing Headaches

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 lie” and “to stock.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Headache Cures/Home Remedies.”
“When a headache ‘strikes’ (happens or occurs with negative consequences), there’s little…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

CULTURAL ENGLISH 594
Topics: The Black Loyalists of the American Revolution; alert versus alarm versus warning; haze versus mist; pronouncing “advantage” and other “nt” words

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Longoria Affair.”
“Felix Longoria was a Mexican American soldier who fought in World War II…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

DAILY ENGLISH 1287 – Using Adapters and Converters

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 “plug” and “outlet.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Roy Sullivan – Survivor of Seven Lightning Strikes.”
“Many people say that the ‘odds’ (probability; likelihood) of being ‘struck’ (hit)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Posted in Announcements | 5 Comments

Presidents By Any Other Name

mount-rushmore-55477_1920This month, we’ll be celebrating President’s Day on the 20th of February. Actually, the holiday is officially called “Washington’s Birthday” because, well, we’re celebrating the first president of the United States, who was born on February 22, 1732. However, most Americans know it informally as President’s Day and as a day to remember all presidents, not just our first.

The current president of the United States is our 45th president. Presidents of the United States are often given nicknames, informal names they’re known by. So far, President Trump hasn’t been given a commonly-used nickname, though there are many people with definite ideas.

A nickname can be a shorter version of the person’s real name. Sometimes people give presidents nicknames because of something in their past. Abraham Lincoln was given the nickname “Honest Abe.” The story goes that when Abraham Lincoln (1861-1865) was young, he was the manager of a small store. When he saw that a customer had been charged (required to pay) too much money for an item, he closed the store and walked to the customer’s house to return the money. He was given the nickname “Honest Abe” because of this and other similar stories.

Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) was nicknamed “Teddy.” A newspaper started calling him this as a shortened version of Theodore after an incident (occurrence) while hunting (searching for and killing animals for sport or food) for bears (see English Cafe 300). The name became popular, and soon a toy company made a stuffed animal (a soft toy made to look like an animal) in the shape of a bear and called it a “Teddy bear” after Theodore Roosevelt. To this day, we still call similar toys teddy bears.

Ronald Reagan (1981-1989) was a popular actor before he became president. In one of his films, he played a character called “The Gipper” which was based on a real person, an American college football coach (leader of a team). Reagan had many fans when he was an actor. These fans started calling him “The Gipper” because they liked him in that role (character in a film).

As you probably know, two U.S. presidents shared the same last name because they are father and son. George Herbert Walker Bush (1989-1993) was the father of George Walker Bush (2001-2009). Both men were president within a few years of each other. In order to lessen (reduce) the confusion, the older Bush is sometimes called “Papa Bush.” The son is often called “Dubya,” which is the way Texans and other Southerners pronounce his middle initial (letter representing a  name), “W.”

* This post was adapted from “What Insiders Know” from Cultural English 392. To see the rest of the Learning Guide, including a Glossary, Sample Sentences, Comprehension Questions, a Complete Transcript of the entire lesson and more, become a Select English Member.

Image credit: Wikipedia

Posted in Life in the United States | 3 Comments

NEW Daily English and Cultural Lessons – February 2017

icon_51812New lessons are released the first day of each month.

Here are a few of the new lessons available for February 2017.

To listen to these and other Daily English and Cultural English lessons, become a Select English Member today!

………

DAILY ENGLISH 1284 – Discovering a Minor Theft

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 “value” and “to nip (something) in the bud.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Petty Theft and Grand Theft.”
“Theft is always a crime, but there are ‘degrees’ (different levels of seriousness) of theft…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

CULTURAL ENGLISH 593
Topics: The Righteous Brothers – “You’ve Got That Loving Feeling” and “Unchanged Melody;” ingrate, malcontent, and ungrateful; to allow versus to authorize; pronouncing morning versus mourning

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Types of Soundtrack Recordings.”
“A ‘soundtrack’ is any ‘recorded’ (able to be played repeatedly) music that ‘accompanies’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

DAILY ENGLISH 1285 – Types of Commendations

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 “entry” and “ribbon.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Common Elementary and Secondary School Academic Awards.”
“In the United States, schools often have “assemblies” (times when all students…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

Posted in Announcements | 7 Comments