One Day at a Time

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve run across (found without looking) some things on the Internet that share a common (similar) theme (subject or idea). On the surface (the part that’s easy to see) they appear to be very different – taking pictures, writing a newspaper column, writing a comic strip, etc. It’s the theme that ties them together (connects them), so let’s start there.

There’s a modern proverb (wise saying) that goes something like this: we overestimate what we can do in one day; we underestimate what we can do in one year. In other words, we think we can accomplish more in one day than we really can. But when we think about a year, the opposite is true: we can often accomplish more in one year than we think.

The articles I ran across recently were by people, or about people, who did a little of something every day but achieved (accomplished) significant results by the end of a year or many years.

D’Arcy Norman works at the Teaching and Learning Centre at the University of Calgary (Alberta, Canada). Norman enjoys photography, which he calls “mindful seeing.” He takes photographs every day, often as he commutes (travels a long distance) to work on his bicycle, even in the winter. Last year, he took more than 10,000 photographs, many with his iPhone. At the end of the year, he selected the best; you can find them here. That’s a great accomplishment!

In the 1930s, Chic Young started a comic strip – one of those daily picture stories that’s about four squares long and runs (is printed) in a newspaper every day – called Blondie. Almost every husband and wife who read the comic could identify with (see themselves in) Blondie and her husband Dagwood. And they often laughed when they did!

One day at a time – four squares and about 20 words – Young wrote 14,500 comic strips during his lifetime. At one time, Blondie ran in more than 1600 newspapers and was read by more than 60 million people in 17 different languages across the world, including much of Africa. When he died in 1972, Young’s son Dean succeeded (followed) him and continues to write the comic strip today. That’s a great accomplishment! William Zinsser has written a fascinating story about Young and Blondie; I hope you take time to read it.

As I was thinking about these two stories – Norman’s and Young’s – I remembered a column (daily newspaper article) I read many years ago by another of my favorite writers, Sydney Harris. Someone asked Harris what he does when he doesn’t feel like writing a column, and he answered, “I write a column.” He went on (continued) to say that “I may not feel like writing a column every day, but I’d feel much worse if I didn’t.” I’m sure that many people who commit to (promise to do) an “everyday” kind of task (job or project) feel the same way.

Finally, let me bring each of you (include you) into this article. A couple of years ago, two researchers I know wrote that it would be possible for you to acquire (pick up) 5,000 vocabulary words if you spent 20 minutes a day reading interesting, comprehensible (understandable) English for two years. If you did that and you knew the 5,000 most common English words, you would know almost 90% of the words in an average non-academic (not a textbook) English book or article. That would be a great accomplishment!

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

Photo by D’Arcy Norman used under Creative Commons license

This entry was posted in Life in the United States. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to One Day at a Time

  1. Peter says:

    Definitly, it is your thing; you always come up with one fantastically done article.
    Good show man,
    Why are you going to furthest end of the world to prove your point ,the wise saying about day and year .
    Take Eslpod as an example my man
    See ,what you guys accompolished globally. What Jeff initially set forth parnned out well, and turned out to be a huge success in the linguistic world.
    And, you guys did it one step at a time.
    It doesn’t matter what language you wanna learn the most effective method is Jeff’s method
    He is one intlectual hero
    I am a big fan of his work.
    You guys and your work have awed lots of people world-wide
    U did it one step at a time ,there you go ,5 years after there is a peicless , focused collection of the most common terms ,words ,and expression that literally took me my whole adult life to pick up less than half of them. No English text books carry what Eslpod Carry here.
    And,The way you guys carry yourself on this very page,man you are something
    How did you initially come up with this is beyond me.
    But,your method is an approved method for lingustic persuers of any language out there!
    Lucy’s canon alone is a good example of what you are trying to get across
    She has managed to gather something of great value here.
    She is something,isn’t she?

  2. Carlos pm says:

    That`s right. Small things lead to great things. I always complain that I don`t have time to do things then I heard someone said: ” By saying that you don`t have time you`re really saying you dont want things done, either because you`re not commited or not interested to really achieve it. Where there`s a will there`s a way. I used to follow your podcast very closely at the beginning, I even purchased some lessons online then I got into University and lost track of it thinking I dont have time, I havent completely finished those lessons, lack of self motivation. Not having time is a huge lie, theres always 20 minutes to spare like the article reads. I waste much time doing other things that are not productive. I regret not having been constant, my English would have improved a lot in these last years.

    All the best

  3. Betty says:

    Thank you, Warren, for such a subtle story which tells us how to bring our English to a higher level.

    It is so true, there is an English idiom: ‘Rome was not built in one day’.

    This blog is being built by all of us writing something here everyday. At the same time, we are building our English writing ability everyday.

    I must write something in English everyday in order not to lose it, especially now I am not living in England, I am in touch with a lot of Chinese speaking and writing than when I was in England. So I really must keep up my English by practicing more.

    It is a shame that I cannot speak the official Chinese language – Mandarin/Putonghua, I can only speak Cantonese – a dialect we use in Hong Kong.

    Everyday, when I can, I visit and for English and Mandarin/Putonghua Chinese respectively.

    Last time my old classmate knew that I wanted to learn more English and Putonghua, she asked me whether I remembered one Chinese poem we learned when we were little, she said: ‘life has a limit’, and I continued her poem: ‘knowledge has no limit, it is risky to use something that has a limit to pursuit something that has no limit’. But I said: ‘I also remember a Chinese poem which says: “knowledge is like rowing your boat upstream, if it does not go forward, it just goes backward”’.


    Thank you, Carlos pm, for reminding me to work hard everyday.

    Yes, you are right, there is a will, there is a way, 20 minutes is not very long, it soon adds more than 20 minutes’ value of result for us.

  4. Meggy says:

    A inspiring article. We alway ignor that we can do some great things even we are always doing some normal things. Also , we always looking forward to a great event happen in our ordinary life but we are disappointed that our lifes are always ordinary everyday, nothing happened. Acctually, there is a lot of great and wonderful things are producing quietly.
    Like learning language, reading a short article, remember a new word, are all small things for us If we hope improving English skill a lot finally we have to start from these small things and persist them day by day, week by week , month by month and year by year.

  5. Nele says:

    Yes, that´s a true thought. Step by step. Many, many small steps will make a big step.

    And, I found “eslpod” and “Successful English”, that gives me the material to do the small steps every day. Something to hear, something to read. And now also something to write. And the best, your work gives me the motivation to do it. Your pleasant hints, how to aquire the language. You give me hope and motivation.

    Thank you very much.


  6. Vyacheslav says:

    I think the main problem in today’s world aren’t people who don’t want to achieve good results doing something. In my opinion, they just want to accomplish the stuffs fast. It’s a problem that in such fast world many people become impatient. I believe that patient and regularity might help many people to achieve good results.

  7. Peter says:

    If you dont mind,How long did u live in England for?
    I was there for 6 months. I lived downtown London Oxford street. I had a studio( studio flat)
    Beautiful city!
    Everyday I hoped on one of those double-decked buses
    It was fun!
    Alas,those day are behind me
    As British says
    One Prepossessing ( not common) city matey:)
    Fenas our skills is a must:)
    Keep them sharp, Sis 🙂
    What is with hot and cold water there;why the faucets are miles apart in the units in England
    It is wiered

  8. Peter says:

    Do you happen to know a voice coach?
    My new resolution is to get ride of my accent and utter words correctly.
    For some certain words ( mostly long ones) my prononciation is off.
    I wanna get it out of way , because it keeps getting in my way.
    You know that it could affect you in so many ways.
    I am trying to get it straight!!! It seems to be impossible without a voice coach help.
    I did Audio thing, not much of a help
    Face to face interaction would do it,I heard.
    What is your insight my friend.
    You know better than me that it is a common problem among your students.
    So ,would you address it on this very page of yours.
    Thanks plenty,
    I don’t mean to put you on spot
    I don’t wanna put you in a position that may make you uncomfortable.
    Let’s put it that way
    Would you drop a line regarding the matter if you see fit,

  9. emiliano says:

    “piano piano si arriva lontano”
    I love this italian phrase, and I think it´s now my way of doing things just having fun all along my days.

    As Carlos said, welcome ESL Postcast again, there isn´t true the phrase I don´t have time to do it, as we spend our free time the way we wanted.
    If we really want to do something or to give our time to a friend or relative we can.
    YES, WE CAN.

    Many years ago I read a book which title was “Momo” but the full title was: Momo, or the strange story of the time-thieves and the child who brought the stolen time back to the people.
    The book is one of the most interesting novels I have ever read, it´s written by Michael Ende the same author that writes “The Neverending Story”
    and despite this one is more famous may be MOMO is more interesting and I liked it more.
    The book is about time, the most valuable thing we have, and how we spend our time.
    No body may buy a second of their time when life is going over.

    I could remember that the book tell us that we don´t need to see how large or big a task could be, it´s only enough to do a bit of it each moment without thinking on the full task or how big it is.
    It´s enough and more pleasant to do a little bit each moment or each day.

    Learning English as every other big task it´s just the same, a bit learn or read day after day keeping on over it along years.
    Reading a large English book for us it´s just to start doing it, reading ten or eight pages a day, not seeing how long it could be or similar.
    Listening to the Podcast only takes half and hour every day if you have lot of things to do, but with that time you´ll have a good level
    after a time keeping on listening to Jeff and Lucy.
    On the seventies I read “The Lord of the Rings” in Spanish.
    It was an amazing book to me and nobody here knows a thing about the book on that moment.
    My first daughter Eva wanted to read it when she was nine, but I told her it was a very large and long book to her, even so she Insisted and
    started to read it. She finished the three books and even The Hobbit, since them the books have been her books for long.

    After that I always wanted to read “The Lord…. in English, an impossible dream in fact.
    So long, so big, so difficult, it was impossible for me as I always thought I have not enought time to do it and even enough English
    knowledge to do it.

    At the end, after seeing the book in the shelter for years I decided to accomplish it.
    First I started to read only eight or nine pages, I couldn´t read any more by day as it was very tiresome.
    I made a notebook with the words I though they were interesting. I have to bought The Collings big dictionary and keep on reading little by
    little every day.
    Some time after I could read a little more by day and I started to enjoyed very much the book, it was amazing I was reading it.
    Yes it was one of the most pleasant reading I have ever did and after six months I could finish my reading absolutely happy.
    Momo was in my mind, and I knew I could do it reading five, six or ten pages by day.
    Only be patience and persist doing a little effort day after day.

    All is similar.

    It doesn´t matter how much you coud do by day, do it, doesn´t care about the full task even do not think about it as a full or how big
    the effort could be, do Just a bit only at a time.

    This nice and wonderful Blog is the same.
    When Jeff and Lucy put it in the Podcast site the first subject I thought about it was how difficult task could be to write anything
    interesting on it.
    Yes, it cost me a lot to write a single post by the moment, I did it because I wanted it could be a success and I liked to contribuite
    some way.
    My thought was to write a little day after day, it doesn´t count how long or how much it cost me. I wanted to do it.
    Some days have been two or three in the night and I was writting here because I was really happy doing it.

    I think Betty or Peter are also happy writing here too as every one of us that are fond to the Blog.

    Thank you very much Warren, as ever your post is centairnly of great interest and I do really love this subject about our time
    and the way we could spend it.

    My best wished for you all.


  10. elcomandant says:

    This is a very interesting thing that is easy to understand and to do. However, why don’t I do that?. When I was reading this article, I decided to spend about ten or twenty minutes per day to do it something like that.

    For instance, I’m reading an English novel since a long time and I should have already finished. I don’t find enough free time to do it. Then, after I read this article, I realised what it happened to me this morning. Today, I got up a little early to go to work. Because I had a few minutes to spare, I sat down on my couch and I read for around fifteen minutes thes English novel. Reading in a peaceful and quiet early morning it was a very pleasant new experience for me. Maybe would be a good idea to set my alarm clock a little earlier every day. I’m going to do it.

    I’m also thinking another thing easy for me. I need 30 minutes to walk from home to the office where I’m working, or twelve minutes if I ride bicycle. I’m also thinking to take advantage of this time to listen one ESLpodcast, but only if I walk, of course, because on bicycle it’s forbidden to use headphones. I’m also going to do this.

    There are other things are coming to my head that I would be able to do every day easily, but I must be careful and decide which of them I’m going to do. For now I have decided to do these two things that they are very easy to do it and I’m sure they will improve my second language.

  11. emiliano says:

    Nice, very nice photos indeed.
    Thanks again Warren, I have seen all of them one by one.
    I like the most numbers:

    51/52/6/8/9/31/42 and 13

    but all of them are interesting.


    Talking about the other last subject and mentionig what elcomandant said, some years ago I decided to take photos of
    my city Madrid.
    I use to go for a walk through the center and look to every place and building with tourist eyes.
    It was amazing as living all my life in the city I didn´t take care how beatiful some of their buildings or streets
    could be.
    Seeing them with other eyes and taking photos of the sites changed my way of considerig my own city.

    Madrid is beautiful if you just look up, take time to look to the sky, to the up of the buildings and walk
    Every day a different place or just the same site but at a different hour.
    Taking photos as a new visitor could help to consider our own city, the place we are living along the years, as a
    nice and beautiful site to live.
    It helps to pass over the problems and heal the wounds of the soul.

    In my own circumstances that´s true.


  12. Bill wang says:

    i wanted to imporve me english 10 years ago, but till now my english is poor, i bought many books, but never finished the reading, i told myself:i’m busy in working, but i know it’s absolutely a lie, i always want a perfect result, but i do not commit my task everyday,shameful! I know the reasons, but not take actions, ridiculous!! i regret for the mistakes made before, but the regret feeling affected my decision for the future, foolish!!!

  13. emiliano says:

    I request you another bit of your time please.

    I want to invite my dear friend MELI, from Madrid, to write here because I know she read The Blog several times
    and she have lot of interesting things to tell us.

    She is coming home every week and we have some hours of good talk, Meli is a close friend of us since more than thirty years.
    Meli loves English and she wanted to learn it as much as possible.

    She has been studying English for all her life, as so many spaniards, but some times she is to the edge of beeing
    desperate about the lack of improvement.
    I know that very well.

    Hi, Meli how are you?
    Be calm, I´m sure you can do it just writting a bit every post.
    Please, do it.
    You have been my pupil and as your teacher, you are a children teacher too but with a career not like me, I request you to do it.
    It seems quite difficult but it isn´t so.
    Take notice of what I did and what I told you so many times.
    Thank you Meli, dear friend.

    Now another request to my daughter EVA´s friend MAITE, from LA PALMA (Canrias Islands)

    I know by my daughter that Maite is willing to read and to write in the BLOG.
    But may be she is a little scared or too shy to do it.

    So, please Maite, I don´t know you in person but I know what your desires are and knowing your will I could only say to
    you “yes, you can”

    A pleasure to salute you and please go ahead.
    The same to all of you, readers that are hidden in front of the pc. screen.
    It´s possible for all of you, just a little bit and that will be for sure.


  14. Karl, Austria says:

    When as the first man Neil Armstron set his foot on the moon he said: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant step for mankind”. Even small achievements can accumulate to big results.

  15. Peter says:

    There is a totall white-out situation on triggered a chain crash in the highway right a head of me.casualty is one
    And it could be me.
    All the car involved are totally ridden off
    I was lucky
    Happens right before my eyes
    Thankfully,i m fine
    I feel bad about the guy who passed away
    What am I sharing that tragic story with you that I don’t know

  16. Roberto says:

    How el comandant says it is easy to understand but, sometimes, very difficult to do. Why? I dont know, maybe human beings want to be a lot of things at the same time, maybe our tasks are impossible to come true…
    As Warren says, we have to do things little a little, step by step. Our English are always improving because every day we can get more English words and to understand better English language.
    Every day listen to Jeff, sometimes Lucy, by headphones when I go to work. I hardly walk fifteen or twenty minutes but I feel very good because I am with Jeff and Lucy learning things and improving constantly. I recommend you this activity. Obviously, I must read some novels in English and, one day in the future, I wish I can read “The Lord of the Rings”. But as some of you said, step by step, Piano piano se arriva lontano, Roma wasnt built in one day, and so forth…
    We listen to English podcasts, read Learning Guides and write in a blog where a lot of people talk about. What anything else can we ask for?
    I have always loved he word “endeavor” and I think that it can sum up our efforts to improve this beatiful language.

  17. meli says:

    As Emiliano say, I have been studing English many year, but it’s very difficult for me. Y would enjoy speaking English well.
    In the future, I’m going to read and to listen a little everyday.

  18. Betty says:

    I have been writing another message to answer Peter, and to say something else about ”One Day at a Time’. The message I have been writing is saved in my Word Document file. It takes me a long time to finish and if I type it in this website’s message area, it will not hold it for me – it will say: ‘ERROR: Could not read CAPTCHA token file.’, and then I would have to type everything again. I now find out that if I type everything in word document file, and then use the ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ functions to input my message, I will not have to lose everything and to type again and again and again.

    I will continue writing that message after I sent out this message.

    One small step at a time, that’s a safer way to treat our valuable life.


    I am very happy to read Meli’s message here, I don’t know whether this is her first message here as a result of Emiliano’s appeal for her to contribute here.

    If it is, then Emiliano’s English word power is working very well. He used English to persuade Meli to step ahead – a very important step that everyone must take if anyone wants to change the situation of ‘English is very difficult’ to ‘English is very easy’.

    I ‘learned’ English from 4 years old to 11 years old, I did not even know the seven day to day words: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday when I was eleven. My then English teacher was very worried because I had to take a public exam in Hong Kong which would decide whether I would get free education (like a scholarship for those children who passed a certain mark) if I did well in English, Chinese and Maths. It was only then I realised I had a responsibility to learn my English. I was lucky to get a good result and could get free education, not that my English was good, but because my Chinese and Maths were good.

    A lot of children did not do well in that exam and had to start their working life in factories straight away, even when they were only children. It was simply not possible for their families to support them privately.

    I started learning English more properly from year one in secondary school, when I was 12 year of age.

    I would be lying to you if I tell you that English is easy for me, even now I find English very difficult for me. That’s why I insist on writing something here everyday, to improve my English, and to hand in my homework to my teachers here, I mean Jeff, Lucy and Warren.

    I am lucky I can type, many people cannot type and cannot contribute here even if they want to.

    I look forward to reading more of everyone’s message here, it doesn’t matter what it is, as emiliano always says, but please be considerate and think of your readers, write something to cheer us up if you can, please, and thank you very much in advance.

  19. sara says:

    Dear Warren
    As always it was great.Thanks.
    I should also say my Thanks to ESLpod

  20. emiliano says:

    Thank you Meli, you have picked up the glove and it would be good for all of us.
    Every one´s contribution to this Blog it´s highly appreciated and yours beeing a teacher will be for good.
    Thank´s again.

    Nice story Betty, I think that if we could tell something about our own stories and lifes it would be better for
    the Blog.
    Jeff use to tell us something about him in his Cafes and he makes them always so warm and interesting.

    To me it´s always the best to put something personal in all the subjects we afford in our lifes.


  21. Peter says:

    Betty , seems like ,you through a lot to drop a line here. Why is that. I mean what is with all the ritual.
    I just put down what Comes to my mind. I don’t even go back and check what I wrote.
    I mean, it doesn’t work the way you are doing it.
    We are here to pick up the language not to leave a literary art work. Trust me,it doesn’t work that way. To speak the language you must be agile and think on your feet. It is the rule of thump around here. In a daily interaction nobody gives you the time to write a novel for them. You must be fast and agile. It takes the patience that nobody has. Trust me guys . Don’t spend an eternity putting down sth here . We haven’t got into a competition here .in real life you must get what the person says and you have a fraction of second to understand it ,analyz it and have your feed back ( answer) to it. Take it from me and train yourself this way:
    Time yourself
    Every time,Our dear profs take up an article , you read through it, then, the minute you are done with the reading , you put down your thought fast even in few sentences then post it up Here.
    Then check the time to see how long it took you to come up with that.
    That way you train your brain to do it faster.then after a while , set a time and try to write your openion with the time don’t have an eternity to make a sentence while communicate.
    Try to press your self
    Guys it took me lees than 1 minute to put down all you see here.
    Try to do that. Real life situation doesn’t give you any time more than that
    Time yourself
    Don’t worry if you are a bit slow in the beginning you will pick up the speed,just practice. It is a must Guys. Be fast and agile!
    Keep in mind . We are not here to judge, we are here to learn

    It is the way you tr

  22. Peter says:

    Guys didnt to bruise your ego!
    Just stating a hard fact that you may find useful at some point .

  23. emiliano says:

    Hi Peter, nice to see you here healthy and safe after living so bad experience.
    Yes, that´s righ Peter you were very lucky and we all are happy having you with us on earth without a single wound.

    Talking about what you said above, well I think it´s different to talk from to write.

    There are lot of people who can talk quite well, it doesn´t matter which language they are using to be understood, but they can write well or even
    sometimes they can´t write at all.
    English is specially difficult as this language doesn´t write the same way as it is written, and for us spaniards it has lot of difficulties because
    our own language sounds the same as it is written.

    To me it is more easy to speak English than to write it, I know how to say many words that I don´t remember how they are written
    so I need to see the dictionary frequently to be sure that the word I want to write do exist, I know it´s sound but nothing about
    how to write it.

    If people are going to read my writing it´s necessary that it must be right so they may know what I want to say.
    That´s the point Peter, it´s not so natural for me to write than for you.
    You do write espontaneously, that´s clear for all of us and we would like to have your free and easy way of doing things.
    But it´s not possible, at least for me.

    As you said, when I am writing in Spanish I don´t like to read again all the note after finishing it, it´s really very tiresome and I would be correcting
    once and again the text, so it´s easier to send it inmediately and not doing that exercise of grammar.
    That way the note is more expontaneous and natural, just as your way of posting.
    Thanks Peter, it´s always nice to read your posts.

    Take care bro if you are driving.
    All the best for you Peter.


  24. Meli says:

    Thank you Betty for your encourage. I started learning English when I was 14 years old. For 5 years I only did exercises. I hardly listened English. 12 years ago I have started to study again but my teachers were not very good, except Emiliano. He’s the only one who I have spoken in English but I tired soon.
    Sometime I read ESLpodcast even I think to write about some topic but I never did it. Only once to congratulate to Jeff.
    The last week I went to visit to Emiliano and Cuca. I took a comment on Museums of Madrid. For it he has encouraged to me to write here. He’s always encouraging to me but I never do it.
    Thank you

  25. Daniel says:

    Hello Folks,

    Welcome Meli, hope to read more about you.
    Sorry, but at this point after having read all of you I have nothing to say about the blog.
    I am just happy that Peter is safe, Meli is writing here and that I am not the only one wrestling with that captcha thing.
    Emiliano, is there a place where I can take a look at images of you and your family? I am curious. Remember the rule, we can’t post link here.

  26. Betty says:

    Hi Peter, it is not very nice for me to tell everyone directly how many years I had been in England, but you can figure it out, I am sure. I can only give you a small hint – many years.

    You were lucky you had a studio flat in London. Property has always been extremely expensive in London. I only rented a tiny room in a family’s house when I was a student in London. It was actually almost outside London. The closer to central London the more expensive it is. Transport is very dear in England as well. I remember walking to and from home to college everyday in order to save money, by the time I got home I was very exhausted, but still needed to study, very tough life being an overseas student.

    Some parts of London are really very beautiful, it is a Capital for a proud country after all. I still remember seeing very heavy snow in London the first time in my life, such a wonderful feeling – just like Talal described the feeling of seeing snow the first time in one’s life in this blog on 11th December 2010 – very happy.

    I did not notice the faucets being miles apart in the units in England, I only found the water very hard in London. All the kettles furred up very quickly. Hard water is not good for our skin, many people develop eczema (a skin problem) due to the hard water.

    Yes, you are right, I must try to be fast and agile, but I am working my fastest already! It was my computer that was slow, not me!


    I must congratulate you, Meli, for having Emiliano as your English teacher. He encouraged me to write here as well, I listened to him and tried to write more, and then I discovered that I am writing more and more everyday.

    Last time he told us that he encouraged a cashier (I cannot remember whether it was a cashier, please excuse me if I was wrong) in the supermarket to listen to, I hope the cashier has started listening to Jeff & Lucy’s podcast, and then write here to thank Emiliano one day.

    I know what you mean when you said your English teachers were not good, except Emiliano. I know your feeling, I did not have good English teachers when I was little, I had some good Chinese teachers but good English teachers were scarce. People who were good in English would have got a very high paid job in various government departments or big organisations already, very few would be willing to work as teachers. If you work harder to learn English, you can be a good English teacher one day, your students need you.

  27. Tania says:

    Hi! As we are in the winter time, I have breathed both the fresh mountain air from each winter photos and the salty marine air from “speedy”.
    Nice photographs! Thank you.

    Fresh air for you all,


  28. Tania says:

    Hi! I have read “Blondie and Dilbert” by William Zinsser. For sure a novelty for me. I like this:
    “Blondie is built on only four elements. Two are things that everybody does – eat and sleep. The third is sex, and the fourth is trying to get money.
    The comic consists of husband’s efforts to extract more money and Blondie’s efforts to spend it.”
    To improve my English I’ll try to read Zinsser’s weekly posting in The American Scholar magazine. I hope to do it.

    Thank you for this new site, dear Warren.

  29. Tania says:

    Hi! I had read that I had to know 4000 words before I started to learn English. I have been counting them for a while.
    When I achieved the word no. 1000 I stopped to count them. Now , I do not know how many words I have learnt … instead I have forgotten the Grammar.
    “Sonia: And now , Uncle Vanya, let us do something!
    Vanya: To work, to work!
    Sonya: What can we do?… Yes, we will work…” from “Uncle Vanya” by Anton Chekhov

    All the best for you all,


  30. Tania says:

    Hi! I like your post “So, What’s the Truth?”. I laughed a lot at the comic part : “I know politicians don’t do much, but they certainly did more than that!”

  31. sara says:

    Thanks for the interesting post!
    I can say my every day task for 4 years has been listing to ESL podcasts.

  32. emiliano says:

    Yes, I have to say that to me it has happened the same about the “captcha code”, more than four or five times, till Tania told me to save it
    previously in the word or other text files.
    Now I have this previous precaution and it has saved me very often of losing everything after a long time writing the post, yes because
    it cost me as to everybody, a pleasant effort to write some long texts as I use to do, ja, ja,….some times too longs.
    It makes me furious just to lose all the note after doing it for a long long time and It desapears without any possible settlement?, what a
    Besides the first use to be the right and it´s just impossible to write anything like the firts time you did.

    Thank you Daniel, I know what you mean and I could remember that Jeff made a video “ESL Podcast Fourth Anniversary
    Video Podcast: The World Tour” where you may see me and Cuca, it was really very nice and we have a lot of fun.
    You may found it in the ESL lessons or also by google as every of the Podcast anniversaries videos are in the web.
    Jeff use to be the star doing a video, but this time were the listener who receive him at their cities when he made the world tour.

    Here it is what Jeff and Lucy said:
    july 2009

    It’s hard for us to believe that it’s been four years since ESL Podcast began. In fact, as of next Monday, we will have released 500 ESL Podcast episodes and 200 ESL Cafe episodes! It’s amazing to us that we are still going and that you are all still listening!

    We want to thank all of those who helped us by sending us their Flat Jeffrey photos for our Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast. We were able to include at least one from each submission and Flat Jeffrey got to see some very interesting places!

    Finally, we want to thank all of you listeners, especially those who have become Premium and Basic Members, who have purchased courses through the ESL Podcast Store, and those who have sent us donations. It is through this generous support that we are able to continue producing ESL Podcast. If you want to support our efforts, please also consider becoming an ESL Podcast Member.

    Below is the Fourth Anniversary Video Podcast. We hope you enjoy it!

    ~ Jeff and Lucy

    In the video some of the listeners photos apeared and also Cuca/Emiliano´s when Flat Jeff came to Madrid, what it was an honor for us, thank
    you Jeff and Lucy, nice video and very nice visit…, just lot of fun to all the stars who participate in the video.



  33. Peter says:

    I had rented the studio
    I didn’t own it

  34. Peter says:

    I didn’t study there.
    I would work there for six months
    The subway Is like an intricate maze
    But,people are friendly

  35. Betty says:

    The Error message ‘ERROR: Could not read CAPTCHA token file.’ was only one of the error messages I had encountered. I also met the Error message: ‘Error: please fill the required fields (name, email)’, I was so clumsy!

    Anyway, now that we found the way to combat the Error message, hopefully we do not have to type again and again and again.

    Thanks, Daniel, for asking Emiliano where to find him and his family. I had a look at the ESL Podcast’s Fourth Anniversary Video Episode: The World Tour! and I was so happy to find Emiliano and Cuca with Jeff in the sitting room. I thought Gatufo was together, might be my eyes were not very good, I could not find him.

    Nice to meet you, Emiliano and Cuca, did you draw all the pictures yourself?

  36. Bill wang says:

    Dear Betty and Emiliano,

    i encountered the problem of “captcha code” error when spending a long time to write the post, and i found a easy way to solve it— just refresh the code before you submit the post, you will get a new code. there’s a refresh icon behind the code. try!

  37. emiliano says:

    Thank you Bill wang, yes you are right I have discovered what you said recently, and it´s just what I use to do now.
    Refreshing the code before sumbmiting the post and all goes O.K.
    Thanks again friend.


    Betty, Gatufo wasn´t home that year, he is going to be a year with us next thursday and I want to give him somthing special for
    the birthday.

    Fátima, my daughter brought him home a year ago after asking us if we were willing to take care of a little cat.
    He was up on a tree and a friend of work have to climb in order to resque the poor little cat down from the tree.
    For her it was ipossible to take him as she has already another female Maya, and it was sure her cat will be very jealous
    and would be natural to attack him.
    It was in a park here in Madrid that is called “La Casa de Campo” and it was very cold, less five or four C degrees at night.
    So, the cat was going to die if he has not a house to survive.

    We said YES, and Gatufo is another member or the tribe.
    He could be 14 months only, very very young and he is the most tender cat that anybody may imagine…. he is going after me which ever
    place I could go.

    The video is great, It was very very funny to have Flat Jeff here with us, and yes I have to confirm that all the drawings are original
    made by me.
    Some years ago I use to draw “Madalas” or another imaginary figures that came out my mind.
    It was really good and the drawings give me peace and relax, I think it´s one of the best things I could do to get this kind of
    I was when we were living at the sea side, too much time without pc. or similar, only reading and drawing these pictures and seeing
    the sea all days.

    All the best for all of you, it´s nice to remember those days close to the Mediterraneo sea on the years 2001/2004.


  38. Betty says:

    Hi, Bill Wang, it is very kind of you to tell us such an easy method to deal with the CAPTCHA CODE problem. I am truly happy to learn this method, it will save me a lot of time. You are such a computer guru.

    I am very happy that writing here not only improves my English and computer skills, it opens my mind to the world, and it confirms that there are many good and clever people in this world.

    Jeff used this CAPTCHA CODE method to allow only the persistent English writers to enter his world of blog. Now together we found the key to open the door to this blog.

    In fact I wanted to write here a lot longer ago, initially wanted to thank Jeff & Lucy for the lovely work they had done for us, but was stopped by the CAPTCHA CODE many times before I finally posted successfully and then continue from then onward.

    Thank you once again.


    Hi, Emiliano, now I remember reading your post not too long ago saying Gatfuto was one year old. That’s right, Gatfuto was not on the scene when you took the Jeff world tour picture.

    I grew up in a family with many pets: cats, dogs, parrot, chicken, gold fish, and turtles. It was very busy with so many pets to look after, but not as bad as looking after a horse. When we lived in England, some friends of ours kept horses in their back gardens, they finally became resentful with the hard work of cleaning up the horse manure and got rid of the horse, very sad.

    Now I don’t have any more pets. Hong Kong is very different now, too many people in such a small area already, and not enough time even to look after human beings.


    Yes, Peter, you are right, the subway (we call it underground in England) in London was like an intricate maze, it was one of the oldest underground systems in the world.

    It was a shock for some Hong Kong people to visit London and to experience the London underground. It is illegal to eat food or drink anything in Hong Kong MTR (Mass Transit Railway), so it is kept very clean compared to the one in London.

  39. johnny says:

    Thank you Warren Ediger for giving us loving English leaners a powerful willingness to inspire us continuously acquire better English .
    It does give me a hope and sunshine for me practising oral Englishi day by day, and that is my fire and I want to live a life in English .
    Betty,I just want to ask a few of questions to you. how can you remember too much English words that is tough to spell and pronunce ,
    in particular making a more fully utilize in a real life communication with the native speakers?
    Every time i scan your posts you left it is also a good resouce for me learn some new vocabularys and expressions, such as “on the scene””computer guru” thing like that.
    I read about “metro” this word ,it is one of expressions to call subway or underground ,while i am not sure which situation i can use it in, so i am write here waitting for your solution. thanks u again.

  40. Nicolas says:

    Consider this : if you know the meaning of 5000 english words, can you retrieve it in your own language ? I don’t think so, it is a little more complex, doesn’t it ?

  41. Betty says:

    Thank you, Johnny, for taking time to read my post.

    I thought Peter and Emiliano wrote many words that are difficult to spell and pronounce, I always have to look up the dictionary when I read their post.

    This answer to your question is in Warren’s article above: ‘One Day at a Time’.

    I am sure many people who want to learn Chinese wonder how we remember all the Chinese Characters, it is impossible to learn and then remember all the words in a short time. We have to use the words and expressions at least several times to remember them.

    I like to read the news from the website ‘’, all the news reports are well written and I just pick up the words and expression gradually.

    In fact I do not remember every expression and every word correctly. I had to rely on ‘Microsoft Word’ the word processing program to help me. With the ‘AutoCorrect Option’ under ‘Tools’ in the menu, the computer tells me if the word is wrong and then I correct it.

    I also have to rely on ‘’ to help me find some of the expressions I remember vaguely, like ‘computer guru’. I type in ‘computer’ and choose ‘Starts with’, and then search, it gives me all the words and expressions beginning with ‘computer’, and then I found computer guru. I normally double check the meaning of the words which I am not too sure of.

    Regarding your question about ‘metro’, I remember Paris use the word ‘metro’ for their underground train system. In London it is called ‘underground’, also called ‘tube’.

    In Hong Kong, we call it ‘MTR’, in USA and Canada they call it ‘Subway’.

    I think different parts of China call this type of transportation different names, for example, we have ‘Guangzhou Metro’ in Guanghzhou, and we have ‘Beijing Subway’ in Beijing.

    If you try to find the meaning of metro from the website ‘’ you will see something like:

    metro – an electric railway operating below the surface of the ground (usually in a city); “in Paris the subway system is called the `metro’ and in London it is called the `tube’ or the `underground'”

    I don’t know what other names are being used for this type of transportation in different parts of the world.

    It is useful to learn the different names of one thing in different parts of the world, especially if it is something important like transportation, and foods and drinks.

  42. johnny says:

    elimiano, thanks for sharing your successful and impressive reading experience. how stong will power you are.
    as you left too much posts. so i just read the longest one you post here. your are right . do something a little day by day,
    one day it will be miracle for us without consciousness. how fabulous the way of doing day after day we have it is.
    so as always, i would like to put up a question for it is a effective way to get a fast english development myself.
    “bit learn or read day after day keeping on over it along years.” in this sentence , elimiano said . i cannot figure out the
    meanning of” keeping on over it along years.” Is it “kepping on” here means “keep up” and “over it along years” ,
    just a litte confusion related to grammar . i need your help . elimiano.
    wow…i’m loving it the writing here at this moment .it’s really spectacular and amazing after enjoying english.

  43. johnny says:

    Thanks Betty , the website “thefreedictionary” it does is a wonderful and helpful english aid .
    I have tried it, when i was typing in the word computer and then it appears too much words
    that begin with computer. i did not found the the word computer guru for the first time ,
    after a while , i have realized the rule and regulations that words are being ordered, so i found it.

  44. Betty says:

    You are welcome, Johnny, you genuinely work hard and you deserve getting good result.

    It is nice to learn and improve our English together.

  45. emiliano says:

    Dear Johnny, thank you very much for your kind words.

    I have to cofess that sometimes I invent the words, I just do it when I am speaking English and I haven´t a word at hand, it´s possible that
    the word used by me is right or not, but I don´t stop thinking which one I could use.
    There is not time to stop, and if the word is not right, the other person would be said to me …..pardon, or sorry ? at that moment I know
    the word is not appropriate and I have to look for another one, or to explain it other way.

    Yes, you may smile but this was usual when I was speaking with English friends in Alicante some years ago.
    The English woman was always making jokes about my new English words.
    Always doing that along years, just to speak as fast and fluid as possible.

    So, it´s possible that I just do the same when I am writing and this expression doesn´t exist.
    But, may be…….looking in the dictionary I have seen:

    Over, preposition, verb, noun, adjective, adverb, idioms……….a lot of forms and meanings in a phrase.
    That´s the difficult of Englsih and that´s also why I love this language.

    Keep on is easy…………….keep on, to continue; persist: “If you keep on singing they’ll ask you to leave”.

    Over has hundred of meanings but one could be…..throughout the duration of: over a long period of years.

    So to me, I wanted to said: persist on the subject of reading or learning once and again through a long period of years…..

    In fact I was thinking about this expression, if it was correct or not to use it, so you have touched the wound Johnny and I am happy
    that you fix your attention on it.

    But, sure it has been ivented as I don´t know if this expression is right or not….

    JEFF, LUCY, please we need your right opinion about the matter.
    May you help us?

    Has emlliano invented a new wrong phrase, as he use to do so frequently ?
    or he is right……….?

    All the best Johnny, and thank you.



  46. emiliano says:

    sorry, only one emiliano, I have not a clone……

    Again the cat is on my lap and I don´t know what I am doing……..Gatufo is celebrating his happy first year at home with us.
    We are happy having him here.
    So nice and tender animal makes our life easier.

  47. johnny says:

    it’s my pleasure for getting precious and real experience of yours ,
    of couse i’m smilling when reading you are being joked about by
    Englishi woman for you inventting new English words , because it is
    indeed a really funny story i thought. But what your doing when
    you are speaking English is actually my weekness that i am afraid of
    saying it when i was having a chat with English speakers. Especially for
    Chinese like me ,may be you have known that Chinese person is usually
    shy and bashful in front of foreigners ,and also we are being influenced
    by the typical and exam-orientaled education of China many years
    that has obstructed our thinking and discourage us make mistakes.
    while i have overcome these timidity and problems.

    thanks you once again. clever emiliano.

Comments are closed.