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Sunday - January 3, 2016

Podcasts this Week (January 4, 2016)

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 1170 – Naming 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 steer clear of” and “odd.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Placeholder Names.”
“Some names are used as ‘placeholder’ (with a temporary position, holding place for something else)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 536

Topics: Ask an American – Corporate Data Security; consulting versus consultancy; to conduct versus to operate; jinxAsk an American – Corporate Data Security; consulting versus consultancy; to conduct versus to operate; jinx

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Hacker Terminology.”
“Most people think of ‘hackers’ as people who ‘seek’ (look for) and ‘exploit’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1171 – Cancelling a Service

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 “account” and “to bear with (one).”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Cooling-off Periods.”
“Sometimes ‘purchasers’ (people who buy something) experience ‘buyer’s remorse,’…”- READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 29, 2015

A Different Look At Life

3550755709_fffc833e1d_oIt’s that week.

The end of one year and the beginning of a new year is the time when many people think about the resolutions (promises to yourself to do something) they made last year. And make new ones for next year.

The practice of looking back at what you have done and looking forward to what you could do is very old.

About 3,500 years ago Moses, one of the earliest leaders of the Israelites (Jewish people), wrote that it was important to think about how short life is and how important it is to live life wisely and well. To live life wisely meant to live life with skill (ability from learning and practice) so that the result is beautiful, like a work of art.

Socrates, a Greek philosopher (thinker; wise man) who lived almost 2,500 years ago, believed that the purpose of life was to grow as persons, to become better as we got older. Shortly before he died, he said that we must always examine (look carefully at) our lives to make sure that we are becoming the best we can be.

Tim Urban is neither Moses nor Socrates. He’s an American blogger (someone who writes a blog on the Internet). But he thinks a lot about life and looks for ways to visualize (make a picture of) our lifetimes (the period of time we are alive) to help us think about them.

I first learned about Urban a couple of years ago when I saw his visualization of The Life of a Typical American. It shows the periods (lengths of time with a beginning and end) of life, like when we go to school, of most Americans and the important events in their lives.

Recently, though, he looked at the end of life and how much time we have left to do different things. Some of his results are fun, some are thought-provoking (make you think). Here are a few of them.

Urban is 34 years old. He says that he eats about one pizza every month. If lives to be 90, he’ll eat almost 700 more pizzas: (90 years – 34 years) x 12 pizzas (1 per month for 12 months) = 672 pizzas.

If you’re 34 years old, there have been 8 U.S. presidential elections during your lifetime. If you live to be 90, you’ll see 14 more: (90 years – 34 years) / 4 (1 election every 4 years) = 14 more elections.

Urban made me think when he wrote about how much time we have left with the important people in our lives – like our parents. If your parents are 60 years old, and you see them 10 days a year, you will spend 300 more days with them if they live until 90, 30 more  years. That’s less than you saw them in one year when you were young and living at home. That’s thought-provoking.

How could you use Urban’s ideas to think about your life? Would it change anything that you do in the new year?

Happy New Year to all of you!

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

Photo by pauarian used under Creative Commons license.


Sunday - December 27, 2015

Podcasts this Week (December 28, 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 1168 – Reading Contracts Carefully

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 “on the hook” and “to sneak in.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Do-it-yourself Legal Services.”
“When average Americans need ‘basic’ (simple; uncomplicated) ‘legal services’ (the advice and guidance of an attorney)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Café 535

Topics: American Movies – American Graffiti; American Presidents – Franklin Pierce; magazine versus journal; straw man  argument and cognitive dissonance; several and actually

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Hobos and Hobo Signs.”
“A ‘hobo’ is an informal, old-fashioned, and often ‘derogatory’ (showing disrespect) term for someone who is…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1169 – Being Talkative and Reserved

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 “company” and “guarded.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Chatty Cathy.”
“Between 1959 and 1965, a well-known toy company called Mattel produced the Chatty Cathy dolls…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 22, 2015

Giving that Pays You Back

800px-thumbnailIn the same spirit (idea and feeling) as Warren’s great post about random acts of kindness, I’ll talk a little about giving.

Americans often talk about the holiday season, the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, as “the season for giving.” It’s the time of year people are most willing to give their money, their time, and other things to help the needy (very poor people). Many charities (organizations to help others) collect the most money and other support during this period.

To encourage people to open their wallets (spend; give money), some cities and organizations are offering forgiveness (removal; dismissal) of fines (money paid as punishment for doing something wrong or against the law) in exchange for a little giving.

For instance, in Lexington, Kentucky, if you get a parking ticket (citation for parking in the wrong place or without paying the proper fee), you can get $15 off (reduction) if you bring in 10 cans of food when you pay your fine. In 2014, the program collected 6,000 cans of food, which were donated (given for free) to the local food bank (organization that collects food to give to the poor).

In the city of Boston, Massachusetts, if you get a parking ticket between certain dates in December, you can have the fine dismissed (removed) if you donate a new and unwrapped (not covered in gift-giving paper) toy of equal or greater value (worth more money) than the amount of the ticket. The toys are given to children who might otherwise (without this) not receive a gift for the holidays.

The public library in Williamsburg, Virginia wants to forgive, too. The library will remove a fine for any single (one) overdue (not returned on time) item in exchange for a donation of a nonperishable (able to be kept for a long time before eating) food item, no matter how large the fine.

The main aims (goals) of these efforts is to encourage people to give and to garner (get; gather) goodwill (friendly feeling). The hope is that people will get accustomed to (used to) giving and give not only during the holiday season, but throughout the year.

The people who have their fines reduced or removed feel good about helping others, and the organizations plant the seed (give the idea; provide a start) for future giving. That’s what I call a win-win (something beneficial for all)!

I hope that you experience lots of kindness and generosity (giving easily to help others) throughout the holiday season. And on behalf of (speaking for) everyone here at ESL Podcast, we hope that your New Year is filled with good health and good cheer (happiness; joy)!

~ Lucy

Photo Credit: From Wikipedia


Sunday - December 20, 2015

Podcasts this Week (December 21, 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 1166 – Discussing Philosophy

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 “reality” and “reason.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Noam Chomsky.”
“Noam Chomsky is an American ‘linguist’ (a person who studies languages), philosopher, and ‘activist’…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Café 534

Topics: Famous Americans – James Whistler; American Songs – “Moon River”; bunglingly versus blunderingly; comparable versus compatible; uppercase, lowercase, and capital letter

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “Moonshine.”
““Moonshine” is a ‘colloquial’ (language used by ordinary people, not formal) term for alcohol that has been produced illegally…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1167 – Birth Order and Sibling Rivalries

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 show up” and “bond.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Famous Sibling Rivalries in Sports.”
“Most sibling rivalries are limited to the home or ‘schoolyard’ (the place where children play during the school day)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 15, 2015

Acts of Kindness

6249249013_b84f58654f_b2015 has not been a year that made it easy to think about peace, hope, and joy – words we often use at this time of the year as we celebrate the holidays.

We can’t change what’s happening in the world, but we can do something to introduce peace, hope, and joy to the parts of the world we live in. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot for the last few days. And as I did, three ideas, or thoughts, came to mind.

Thought one: Even in the worst situations, we can choose to be good.

Viktor Frankl and his wife, like many other Jews during World War II, were sent by the Nazis to the Auschwitz concentration camp (prison for many people). Frankl, a psychriatist (doctor who treats mental illness), survived. His wife didn’t. In a book he wrote after the war, Frankl said that his experience taught him that there was one thing the Nazis couldn’t do: they couldn’t take away his freedom to be himself.

Thought two: If enough people do small acts of kindness, they can make a difference and be noticed by others.

George H. W. Bush – the first president Bush – frequently spoke about the need for people and organizations to do good. If they did, he suggested, all their good deeds would “spread like stars, like a thousand points of light in a broad and peaceful sky.”

Thought three: All of us can practice random acts of kindness.

While having lunch one day, Anne Herbert came up with the idea of practicing “random (not planned or organized) acts of kindness….” A random act of kindness is a selfless (caring more about other people than yourself) act you do to help or encourage someone else. Her book Random Acts of Kindness has encouraged thousands of people and organizations to do exactly that.

So, what can we do? Here are some ideas from a variety of sources:

  • Be generous with compliments (praise or congratulations for someone). The next time you see someone doing something well, let them know you saw them.
  • Volunteer to help at a community center program for older or disadvantaged people. If you can’t, occasionally drop in for a few minutes, sit down, and chat with the people who are there.
  • Leave a book you enjoyed where someone will find it and hope they will enjoy it as much as you did.
  • Let the person behind you in line go ahead of you.
  • Find a nice piece of clothing you haven’t worn for a while. Take it to a place that will give it away, free, to someone who needs it.
  • Thank your mail carrier, your barista (person who makes coffee drinks), or the janitor (person who cleans) where you work. If you don’t know their name, introduce yourself; you can thank them by name the next time.
  • The next time you see a mother or father with their children, look them in the eye and smile at them in a way that says, “You’re doing a great job!”
  • The next time you order a snack or drink, leave a ten-dollar tip.
  • Write a simple message, like “You are important” on a pile of cards and leave them in various places, like under the windshield wiper of someone’s car, where people will find them.

There are many easy ways to help make our world a better place. All of us can do something. And we should.

What ideas do you have for random acts of kindness? Use the comments to make a list. Also, if you’ve received or done a random act of kindness, tell us about your experience.

Happy holidays to all of you … and peace, hope, and joy.

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

Photograph by David used under Creative Commons license.


Sunday - December 13, 2015

Podcasts this Week (December 14, 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 1164 – Making Office Renovations

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 guess at” and “flooring.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Office Configurations.”
“American businesses are experimenting with many different ‘office configurations’ (arrangements of workplaces)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Café 533

Topics: American Presidents – John Tyler; The Hindenburg Disaster; result versus consequence versus outcome; ready versus willing; to keep (someone) in the loop

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Richter Scale”
“The Richter Scale, also called the Richter Magnitude Scale, is a ‘scale’ (a way of measuring something)…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1165 – Eating Spicy Foods

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 “curry” and “heat.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “Spicy American Foods.”
“In general, American foods aren’t known for being very spicy….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Wednesday - December 9, 2015

3 Things I Hope To Do Over the Holidays

FiliferabeachI’m looking forward to a little break over the holidays.* Here are three things I hope to do with my extra time, besides the actual celebration of Christmas itself:

1. Visit the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – My friend Warren told me a few weeks ago that there is an exhibition (an art show) there about Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry. I’m a fan of architecture, so it should be fun to see.

2. Read Back Issues of My Magazines – I subscribe to a lot of magazines, but don’t always have time to read them. So I have a big stack (pile; one set atop the other) of back issues (old editions) that I plan on reading while sitting at a local cafe. I especially like book review magazines, which contain articles and summaries of current (recently published) books. The ones I read regularly are the Times Literary Supplement, The London Review of Books, and Literary Review. But I have a lot of other magazines on my tablet as well – too many to mention!

3. Walk on Venice Beach – I live just a few miles from the Pacific Ocean, but I almost never go down to the beach and take a walk. Why? Well, like a lot of Angelenos (people who live in Los Angeles), I like the idea of going to the beach, but not the hassle (problems) of parking and traffic. But one nice thing about living in L.A. is that lots of people leave the city during the holidays, so there are actually fewer people here at the end of December than most other times of the year. Perhaps I’ll take a little New Year’s Day walk near the ocean to begin my 2016.

What are three things you plan to do over the holidays?

~Jeff

* over the holidays – during December and first week of January, when many Americans take a vacation for Christmas and/or Hanukkah and New Year’s Day

Photo image credit: Wikipedia


Sunday - December 6, 2015

Podcasts this Week (December 7, 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 1162 – Staying in an Inexpensive Hotel

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 “run-down” and “state.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about the “Chateau Marmont Hotel.”
“The Chateau Marmont Hotel in Los Angeles, California is ‘infamous’ (famous for being bad) for the bad behavior of its guests…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON WEDNESDAY
English Cafe 532

Topics: Famous Americans – Mary Baker Eddy; The Kennedy Space Center; what for? versus for what?; possibility versus opportunity; iron and iron law

In the Learning Guide:  Get a full transcript (written version of every word you hear).
In “What Insiders Know,” you will read about “The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.”
“Located on the ‘National Mall’ (the national park between the Lincoln Memorial and the U.S. Capitol building…” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide

ON FRIDAY
ESL Podcast 1163 – Types of Religious Leaders

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 “crash course” and “layperson.”
In the “Culture Note,” learn about “The 700 Club.”
“The 700 Club is an American television show produced by the Christian Broadcasting Network….” – READ MORE in the Learning Guide


Tuesday - December 1, 2015

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” Celebrates 50 Years

Charlie_Brown_Xmas_treeFew people expected the Charlie Brown Christmas television special to amount to much (be very successful). When the producers (people responsible for it) watched it for the first time, they worried. Two CBS television executives watched it in what one writer calls “stony (quiet, not moving, like a stone) silence.” At the end, one of them said to the producers, “Well, you gave it a good try.”

That was 1965. This year we celebrate 50 years of success for A Charlie Brown Christmas.

The Peanuts comic strip had become so popular by the middle of the 1960s that Coca-Cola hired Lee Mendelson to produce (create, make) an animated (action cartoon) special to be shown on the CBS television network at Christmas. Charles Schulz, Peanuts’ creator, agreed to write the story.

Schulz wanted to tell a simple story that included childhood memories of snow, ice-skating, and school Christmas plays (performances of music and stories). He also wanted to say something about the true meaning of Christmas and insisted on including the Christmas story from the Bible saying, “If we don’t [tell the story], who will?”

The story includes Charlie Brown and his friends from the Peanuts comic strip. In it, it’s Christmas time, and Charlie Brown is unhappy. Lucy suggests that he produce a Christmas play. He tries, but no one cooperates with him. And the only tree he can find to decorate the stage (where actors perform) is small and ugly. The other children, especially the girls, laugh at him.

Charlie gets upset and asks if anybody knows what Christmas is all about. Linus comes to the center of the stage, stands there alone, and recites (tells from memory) the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke in the Bible. When he finishes, he turns and says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”

Near the end of the story, Charlie’s friends change their minds, and help him decorate his little tree.

Several things made A Charlie Brown Christmas unusual in 1965. First, the producers used child actors for the voices. Second, the music was written and performed by a jazz pianist, Vince Guaraldi. Finally, they didn’t use a laugh track – prerecorded laughter that could be added to the program wherever the producers felt it was needed. It felt and sounded very different from other programs of that time.

Those who worried about A Charlie Brown Christmas shouldn’t have. The first year, 45% of the people watching television that night watched A Charlie Brown Christmas. It has become an American Christmas tradition, along with movies like It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol. It received an Emmy (award for outstanding TV programs) in 1966, and the music was voted into the Grammy (music award) Hall of Fame in 2007.

Two people were right about the future of A Charlie Brown Christmas at the beginning. When the producers told Schulz about their worries, he told them not to worry, “It’s going to be fine.” And one of the artists who worked on the special told the producers they were crazy to worry about the special. “This is going to run for 100 years!” He may be right.

You can find the music and parts of the special on YouTube and at the iTunes store.

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

Source credit: Los Angeles Times.
 Photo of Charlie and Linus comes from Wikipedia Commons.