A common topic of discussion is the use of
cell phones in our daily lives. In my newest listening activity, meet a
young man who has an interesting perspective on cell phones and why he
wants one. Do you know anyone like him? Enjoy:
What are your thoughts on the topic? Is a cell phone a necessity in today's life for all people? How about children under 10 years old? Should teenagers pay some of the expense? Share your ideas.
Saturday, March 8, 2014
A common topic of discussion is the use of
cell phones in our daily lives. In my newest listening activity, meet a
young man who has an interesting perspective on cell phones and why he
wants one. Do you know anyone like him? Enjoy:
Thursday, March 6, 2014
Here's my newest
listening activity. If you have ever had a terrible day at an airport,
then you might understand how this man feels . . . except he caused his
own problems. He didn't think and prepare ahead. Give it a try:
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:08 AM
Thursday, February 27, 2014
Friday, February 14, 2014
Happy Valentine's Day! Having only been married 25+ years (which seems like a short time), keeping a relationship alive requires a lot of patience, selflessness, and compassion. And yes, love in a marriage only gets better with effort. You don't have to be perfect; just willing to understand. Here is a video I created on the topic:
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:25 AM
Tuesday, February 4, 2014
With Valentine's Day around the corner, I thought I would share some of my favorite listening activities on the topic. And some advice to men: don't just give flowers one time a year. Make every day special.
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:07 PM
Saturday, January 11, 2014
Thursday, December 19, 2013
To everyone around the world, our family would
like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season. May our
hearts be turned to those in particular who are in need of love and a
kind word during this season and every day of the year.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:41 PM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Happy Thanksgiving Day in the US! I am sure
many countries around the world have a similar holiday in which people
remember the things that they are most thankful for. For me, I am
grateful for every breath I take, the sun coming up in the morning, and
most importantly, my family. What about you? What are you most thankful
for? Share your thoughts.
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:20 AM
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Black Friday is quickly approaching in the
United States (this year, on November 29th). But what is it? Watch my
video on the topic and share any experiences you have had on this day. Personally, I never go because I don't want to fight the crowds, and my sanity is worth more than cheap electronics. Instead, I often run in the mountains. It's much more peaceful.
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:48 PM
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Because Christmas is only a month away, I thought I would start suggesting listening activities on my Web sites that deal with this topic. Here is the first one. I enjoy it because it has the voices of some of my children when they were much younger. Good practice of young, natural speech: http://esl-lab.com/tradition/traditionrd1.htm
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:28 AM
Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
I started my Web site 14 years ago at the end
of 1997. So, what is the oldest listening activity on my site? Well, one
of them is certainly one of my favorites called "Saving the Earth." I
recorded with my daughter. My kids have contributed their voices over
the years to make the site interesting to users.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:08 PM
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
a bad roommate can be an awful experience. Imagine someone who every cleans up, holds wild parties until the early morning hours, and eats all of your food. What would you do? How do you work through such situations?
In my newest video activity, you can meet such a guy. Watch and then share your ideas on this.
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:52 AM
Friday, October 11, 2013
Do you want to SMILE a little? My newest video activity is on homestay experiences, but this video is CERTAINLY different than any other I have created. I am experimenting with video puppet shows, and in this one, you hear my voice AND see me sleeping on the sofa as the unusual roommate. Tell me if you think these are useful. I might create more.
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:16 AM
Saturday, October 5, 2013
Last weekend, my wife and I completed another marathon, and at the mile 23 (37km) point in the race, we jumped in the air to celebrate the accomplishment (and to forget the pain). Just like in life, we all encounter and pass through difficult times (and this includes learning another language like English). However, if we are persistent and never give up, we can see progress in our lives. You can see a full report of the race at http://www.hikinginutah.com/huntsvillemarathon-2013.htm.
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:55 AM
Monday, September 16, 2013
Now that many students are back to school around the world, I often students and teachers take a look at my self-study guide at http://esl-lab.com/guide.htm. This page lists most of listening activities by topic, so you can find exactly the type of practice you need. Take a look, and I wish you all the best in your study this year.
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:38 PM
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Saturday, July 27, 2013
With the growing use of Smart phones and other portable devices, more and more people are accessing the Internet this way instead of computers. With this in mind, and I have just finished making changes to 175+ listening activities on www.esl-lab.com, so you can view/listen to my content just about anywhere. Enjoy! Randall
Posted by Randall Davis at 12:16 PM
Thursday, July 4, 2013
At times, I sometimes forget the many freedoms we have and enjoy in the United States, but these freedoms also come with responsibility. In other words, we have to freedom to choose our leaders, to share our religious beliefs with others, and the freedom to peacefully protest laws that we feel do not sure our interests the best.
However, these freedoms do not allow us to infringe on the rights of others. If people want to worship God in different ways than I do, then I can respect that and allow them to do so as they may. They can build their places of worship and meet freely. Personally, I think such activities can enrich the lives of other people and broaden our understanding of the world around us.
By upholding these freedoms and ensuring that others enjoy them too, we can bring about greater peace and compassion to others.
Here is one video activity on holidays in the US where freedom is remembered:
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:33 AM
Monday, May 27, 2013
In the United States, Memorial day falls on the final Monday of the month of May. On this day, people remember those who died in military conflict and war in the preservation of our freedoms. In fact, freedom is never free, but we must seek to maintain it. People often go to cemeteries and leave flowers, small token items to remember the departed, and clean the headstone and grave.
The holiday has expanded to now include visiting the graves of any friend or family member who has died, and it can be a time when people reflect on the lives of those who have passed on before them.
For others, it is also a day to kick off the summer season with family gathers and barbecues.
So, do you have a similar holiday in your country? If so, how do people celebrate this day? Share your ideas.
Posted by Randall Davis at 3:27 PM
Saturday, April 6, 2013
I am always trying to think of new listening tasks to help English students expand and improve their language skills. One type of task is a combination of a PowerPoint slide and video into a mini-lecture on a particular topic.
Here is one example of this new project which I will continue to experiment throughout this year:
Posted by Randall Davis at 3:44 PM
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Winter's grip on our state in Utah is slowing falling away as we now are entering spring. However, because we live in the mountains at a relatively high altitude, it isn't uncommon to see snow in the valleys well into April and perhaps May. Here is a video activity on the weather in my state and what you can expect.
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:19 PM
Friday, February 15, 2013
Posted by Randall Davis at 8:47 AM
Friday, January 25, 2013
The types of jobs both men and women hold in different countries are not universal, and often cultural, social, and religious factors play a role in employment decisions. Even government policy and rules often determine how employment decisions can be made. What might be an acceptable hiring/employment practice in one place might not be true in another country.
In this listening activity, we discuss these issues in a somewhat humorous way. Give it a try.
Posted by Randall Davis at 10:07 AM
Saturday, January 5, 2013
I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. May you be able to reach the goals that you set. You might enjoy my newest video activity that discusses how you can succeed in your resolutions for the new year:
Feel free to share your own resolutions for the new year and the reasons why you want to make those changes in your life.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:37 AM
Friday, December 28, 2012
With every new day come new beginnings. Yes, a new year is quickly approaching, and it can allow us to rethink and make new commitments, but if we falter (which as humans we do), then we should see the coming of every new moment an opportunity to better ourselves and help those around us.
Happy New Year! --- Randall
Posted by Randall Davis at 9:17 PM
Tuesday, December 11, 2012
One of the greatest challenges facing English students is the ability to understand, interpret, and, where appropriate, use idiomatic expressions and slang. This is often due to the face that slang usage is so dependent on the content, your relationship with your conversation partner, and other social cues. Because you can't avoid encountering such language, I created a Web site to help students understand slang more. Give EZSlang.com a try.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:06 AM
Thursday, December 6, 2012
Over the past 14 years of creating online
listening activities, there have only been a couple of times when I had
all of my children appear in the same recording. Here is an example that
goes along with the Christmas season and the meaning that it has in our
family and many others like ours.
For us, most activities center on our family and on those in need around us. When I speaking of certain needs, these could be financial, emotional, or even spiritual. We have been the recipient of so much kindness over the years, and I feel in a privilege to do what I can to help others.
Posted by Randall Davis at 1:45 PM
Friday, November 16, 2012
Getting a college scholarship requires patience, hard work, and the qualifications for any financial aid that be available to you. However, a student needs to take responsibility for their actions that might put their future in jeopardy. Listen to my latest listening activity, called College Scholarships, that illustrates the affect that positive and negative affects of students' choices. Give it a try:
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:13 PM
Thursday, November 8, 2012
So, what is the real value (or not) of teachers giving students bonus points or extra credit for their work in class? All too often, teachers give bonus points to students who do extra work, but the negative outcome can be that students' overall grade can be inflated, giving a distorted view of their real ability. For example, if students have to write an essay worth 100 points, and the teacher gives 10 bonus points simply because the students added a photo, the bonus points given would have absolutely nothing to do with the students' writing ability, especially if that wasn't an objective of the writing assignment.
Yes, it might help students psychologically, but it can give students the impression that they are doing better than they really are. Furthermore, if the content of one class builds on the other (e.g., going from beginning to intermediate writing), then advancing students from one class to the next will set the student up for failure because they aren't ready.
Being judiciously in awarding points will only benefit students in the long run.
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:07 PM
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Perhaps, one of the greatest secrets in promoting healthy relationships is being completely honest in all you do. Making up stories about your life, your interests, and your abilities will only lead problems when your lies are discovered. In my listening activity called, "Running Shoes" (http://esl-lab.com/runningshoes/runningshoesrd1.htm) describes one similar situation and the best ways to build long-lasting friendship.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this topic.
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:45 PM
Sunday, September 30, 2012
and care are really necessary to learn good habits. In our garden, my
wife has apple trees, and you have to shape and prune (cut) the branches
carefully so you can enjoy a great harvest. If you don't do this when
the tree is young, it will become unmanageable. The same goes with
learning. If you don't form good habits early, you won't see the rewards
of hard work.
All too often, students procrastinate and don't stay on top of their studies. The same could be said of any aspect of life. But like a tree, it is almost impossible to move or bend the trunk of a tree after a few years unless you pull it out. Forming good habits early in life can help point you in the right direction toward future goals.
Posted by Randall Davis at 10:14 AM
Friday, August 10, 2012
When people think of physical challenges, they often think about a marathon (26.2 miles or 42.2 kilometers). Yes, it can be demanding on the body; however, there are other longer and more taxing events such as an ultramarathon that will take your body to the limits.
I recently participating in one such event, and although I'm not fast, it was satisfying just to complete it. Along the way, you certainly learn a lot about yourself.
Posted by Randall Davis at 11:02 AM
Monday, July 30, 2012
In my newest listening activity, you will find two opposing views on hunting in a somewhat humorous situation. Give it a try.
Share your ideas on the topic.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:39 PM
Saturday, June 9, 2012
If you encountered an injured bird or other animal in the wild, what would you do and how would you respond? Perhaps this would depend on the animal you encountered because I certainly wouldn't want to run into a hurt bear. However, if it were simply a small bird, what would you do? What this video to learn more about how my daughter cares for baby birds:
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:40 PM
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
From time to time, students ask me how they can improve their language skills while they seek some magic and easy solution. This is often the case when some students want to enjoy their lives in a new country, but underestimate the difficulty and effort required to make progress. Then, when students start failing classes, they sometimes switch into a reactive mode, often blaming things and people around them. However, when you point the finger and someone else, keep in mind that three of your other fingers (that are held in a fist when you point) are pointing back at you. All too often, students wait too long until it is too late.
I always encourage students to be proactive in their learning. Set goals, follow instructions, ask questions, and keep track of your progress.
Once you realize you are in charge of your own learning, you can make meaningful and measurable progress.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:23 AM
Thursday, April 26, 2012
My wife and I completed a challenging trail marathon in the hills above Salt Lake City, Utah, and this is quite different than street marathons in that you are running up and down over different terrain that pushes you to your physical limits. We were very slow, but we were happy to have completed it, taking time to video the experience along the way.
Posted by Randall Davis at 10:41 PM
Wednesday, April 4, 2012
Recently, I wrote about how and it what ways portable devices can and will reshape learning and communication. Recently, I have been experimenting with an iPad to see what it can and cannot do, particularly from a learner's stand point. So far, I have been impressed. For example, I have been working on tweaking my own sites so that my audio and video files will play on the iPad, and in some ways, the iPad can extend the range and useability of such sites for people who are on the go.
For typing and other production tasks, I still find a laptop a more efficient tool, but my perspectives on this could change as I delve into the world of portable computing as time goes on.
Posted by Randall Davis at 9:22 PM
Friday, March 9, 2012
So, will the iPad or any other similar device revolutionize language learning alone? Probably not. Having developed online materials since 1998, I have realized that not even the most glorious gadgets can promote better learning unless there is a sound rationale and application of the tool in the language learning process. The same thing can be said of a kitchen blender: the appliance might have 20 different settings such as chop, mix, and liquify, but I probably achieve the same result with a blender that simply has an ON or OFF switch.
The ipad might help with some tasks, but it won't set the world on fire by simply turning it on. Share your thoughts on the topic: to what degree can help or hinder learning?
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:44 PM
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
My ESL students often tell me that they try to improve their listening skills by watching full-length movies, but my response is that sitting in front of a screen for a couple of hours with popcorn and a drink is one of the most passive methods of learning a language. Yes, you can pick up things, but there is no time to stop and process the content, and the language is just dumped on your with out providing students with a systematic method of learning.
For that reason, I have created my own series of short videos on the topics of language and culture. These aren't meant to take the place of other movies, but to give you the option of learning from shorter, concise videos on specific topics.
Give them a try:
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:49 PM
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
These days, it is really unbelievable the price you have to pay for one single textbook, and it seems that authors and writers churn out a new edition every other week. It's not uncommon for a book to be in its 12th edition, and yet the material in the book is almost the same. I mean, couldn't the author simply have a Web site where students could download a couple of pages with any minor revisions?
Then, with the change in textbooks, you often can't sell them back to the books store or other students.
I created a listening activity on this topic. Give it a try and let me know you experiences with buying textbooks for college:
Posted by Randall Davis at 4:20 PM
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Today is Valentine's Day, and sometimes this is the day for men to remember all the things they should have done for their partner or spouse throughout the year. Perhaps, we should call it "Rescue Day." On my latest PhoneCast, I discuss this topic, and I have a listening activity on my Web site called Flower Shop, in which a man finds himself in a difficult situation with his wife, and he things flowers will save the day. Give it a try:
Posted by Randall Davis at 9:03 AM
Monday, February 13, 2012
The concept of work and when people should first get a job can vary widely from family to family and from country to county? Putting aside some differences, what is the value of teaching children to work from a general standpoint? What this video as I talk about my family and how we feel about work:
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:05 PM
Saturday, January 14, 2012
Understanding the laws and rights (as well as the penalties) of individuals to drink in different countries around the world is critical when traveling from place to place. Unfortunately, there are times when people suffer from alcohol addiction or whose behavior can have an impact on friends and family. Fortunately, there are associations including alcoholics Anonymous who provide support to people who struggle with this problem.
I've created a listening activity on the same topic on my Web site at:
Share your thoughts on this topic.
Posted by Randall Davis at 10:36 AM
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Most people have heard of blogging and podcasting, but fewer people have heard of PhoneCasting, that is, posting comments or ideas to a blog or Web site by simply using a cell phone. On my Web site, I share ideas on language and culture using this technology. Give it a try:
Posted by Randall Davis at 12:58 PM
Friday, December 30, 2011
Sunday, December 25, 2011
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Here is a video on how some people celebrate the Christmas season in the United States. Share your experiences about this holiday and discuss whether or not you have a similar day at this time of year. What family traditions to people observe? Are any seasonal foods prepared?
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:33 PM
Get your free SugarSync Account!
It isn't too often that I recommend a specific product or service, but online backup by SugarSync is one of them. This service, which is free for a basic 5 GB account, allows you to save your files online and they sync files on multiple computers, making using thumb drives relatively unnecessary. In other words, you can work on your computer files at home, upload them to SugarSync, and then have access to these same files on a laptop or work computer.
Imagine that you can start a file at work and then complete it at home without the need to save the file to a thumb drive. Give it a try. I has made my own work a lot easier.
Get your free SugarSync Account!
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:21 PM
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Thanksgiving Day has come and gone this season, but it always is a time to reflect on the many blessings of family, health, hope, and even the trials in our lives that teach us something about life every day. How do you celebrate this day if you life in the United States, and if not, do you have a similar holiday in your own country? Share you thoughts on this. These pictures show are family gathering for this special day.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:43 PM
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Halloween in the United States is often celebrated in many different ways. Watch this video to see what the holiday is like in Randall's area of Utah, USA. Is this holiday (or one that is similar) celebrated in your area? Share your comments or experiences.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:49 AM
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
The fall season in Utah is a beautiful time of year when the leaves change from green to an intense pallet of reds, yellows, and oranges. It is also a great time to run or hike in the mountains, and on one recent trail run with my wife, I took this picture looking down into the valley where we live.
Posted by Randall Davis at 7:04 AM
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Over the years, our family has had mixed success in growing a garden, but for the most part (and as a general rule), plants flourish when you take care of them. However, from time to time, we end up with seeds that start growing on their own, originating from many possible sources: old plants from the previous year, bird droppings, the wind . . . who knows. These unplanned plants, often called "volunteers" in the garden community, are generally unwanted, and I usually just yank them out of the ground.
This year, one such plant sprouted in my onion patch, and I was very tempted to pull it out along with a bunch of other weeds. However, I hesitated, thinking of giving the plant a chance to grow. On more days than one, I stared at the plant, wondering where its sprawling leaves and vines would take it. "What could come from such plant," I grumbled, thinking that the area of the garden could be used much better for other purposes. Please understand that I didn't want to waste my time and water on some no good plant just taking up space.
As the summer passed, the unknown plant kept growing and growing, expanding itself into the onions, on to the lawn, and up a trellis supporting other vegetables. I also spotted a strange melon-like fruit growing on the ground. It didn't quite look like a cantaloupe or honeydew melon, but it seemed to be of that family. Then, it suddenly ripened. We hauled the melon into the kitchen, cut it open, and saw a seemingly bland-looking fruit. Not quite the rich-looking orange of sweet cantaloupe, but when we bit into it, we were amazed out how an ordinary, unwanted plant could turn into scrumptious treat.
Later on in the season, two more huge fruits ripened on the vine as seen in the picture, weight about 12 pounds (5.5 kilos) each. So the next time you think something isn't worth the effort . . . that something is simply worthless . . . give it a little time, patience, and care, and you might be surprised what it turns into at the end of the harvest.
If you are a student, give your learning some time. Experiment with different learning techniques. You never know when your language skills will take off.
If you are a teacher, never give up on your students. Yes, they might seem unmotivated now, but with the right care, they might just discover your interest in them and turn out just like my melon did.
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:53 PM
Monday, October 10, 2011
iOn one occasion on the first day of class, some of my recent arrivals (students) wondered why they needed to go through the cultural orientation we require of all new students. In one particular case, a 18-year-old student proclaimed that he already knew a lot about "American" culture, and thus, thought it was a waste of time.
I think told him the following saying: "True wisdom is knowing that you know nothing." At first, this didn't make sense to him and the other students, and then I went on to explain that the more I had traveled over years (from Saudi Arabia, to South America, to Asia), the more I realized how little I knew. When I was 21, I thought I had the world in the palm of my hand, but 25+ years later, I realize how naive or culturally illiterate I really was.
The more I learn, the more I realize that true wisdom starts from recognizing that there is so much to learn beyond our current awareness, and though observation, patience, and some humility, we can really become teachable.
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:09 PM
Thursday, October 6, 2011
A couple of weeks ago, our family participated in a great 49.3 mile relay near Salt Lake City. Although some of us were running in such an event for the first time, it gave us an opportunity to test our mental and physical abilities, but equally important, an opportunity to do something together as a family. Here is a video of our run. You can also read my report at http://www.hikinginutah.com/greatlakesofutah-2011.htm.
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:49 PM
Monday, August 22, 2011
Is it possible to teach a pet to do tricks? In this video, I discuss how I train my family's dogs to do different things through an agility course. Take a look at this video. I have been working our dogs to help them become more obedient and to make them better dogs when I go hiking or running. It's not difficult to do, but you have to put in a lot of time and have a lot of patience.
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:33 PM
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
One of the lesser-known national parks in Utah holds some of the best hikes anywhere. One of them that combines water, hiking, swimming, and climbing can be found at Cottonwood Wash. Here is a video report of the hike, and you can learn about more hikes at http://www.hikinginutah.com. Do you have similar scenery in your area?
Posted by Randall Davis at 5:43 PM
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Recently, my family and I volunteered at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary near Kanab, Utah, where unwanted, homeless, and abused are nurtured and then placed up for adoption. Here is a video and learning activity on the topic. Do you have similar organizations in your country? If so (or not), tell us about them or the current view on homeless animals in your area.
Posted by Randall Davis at 11:54 AM
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Recently, I participated in a unique mountain running event in which the race started at 9:00 p.m. and I finished it at 7:45 a.m. It covered 31 miles (50 kilometers) with a total gain in elevation of over 3,000 meters. You can read my report of the event here:
In some ways, it reminded me of life itself: many things that happen to us in life are difficult, but the reward will come after a period of determination.
Posted by Randall Davis at 6:05 PM
Monday, July 4, 2011
Today, July 4th, is Independence Day in the United States. It is a day when people remember the freedoms they enjoy in this country including the privilege to worship God as they may, to vote, to speak out for different causes, and to go where you may. I created this video on the topic. Share your thoughts on what it means to "be free."
Posted by Randall Davis at 9:47 AM