Sunday, December 28, 2008
At the moment, I'm spending time in warm weather in Arizona with my family, parents, and my brother's family. We did this last year, and we just enjoy relaxing, doing some sightseeing, and catching up on family happenings. We also want our own kids to get to know their grandparents better and develop stronger family ties. By doing so, they can understand my own upbringing and we often laugh about old stories.
So, what do you do with your family to strengthen family relationships?
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
For many people around the world, Christmas is a very important year-end holiday. However, there are many other holidays celebrated at this time too. Please share any specific cultural and religious festivities or days that are important to you or others in your area.
Here is a listening Activity on my Website about Christmas:
Christmas is Coming!
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
- I feel happy when ________________.
- I return home in the evening and my wife greets me with a smile.
- my kids don't complain about the vegetables we have for dinner.
- students do their assignments on time without giving excuses for not doing it.
- I have the chance to run in the mountains to burn off stress.
- I can do something for someone else.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
So often, our focus on Christmas or the holiday season is about what gifts we hope to receive from others; however, if you could give one gift to someone, to whom would you give and what would the gift be? Personally, I'd like to give my family more time together. You really can't buy that, but it is more valuable than other things you can buy. Now, share you feelings on this topic.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
So, do you have a day of thanks in your country? If so, share information about this day with us.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Last weekend, I ran in a 50 km (31 mile) desert trail race in southern Utah, and it was a great experience. I'm not very fast, and I am always at the back of the runners, but it was a physical challenge to go up and down steep mountains and through sand. (You can see more pictures of this race at: http://www.hikinginutah.com/moab50k/album/index.html.) What I enjoy about it most is that it can help people psychologically---that might sound strange, but when I am running, it feel less stress in life and I can think about how to solve other problems. So, what about you? What do you do to get rid of stress? Share your ideas.
This is a picture of me at about 30 kilometers into the race along the Colorado River in Utah.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
So, what do you think are the keys to preparing for a university degree in another country? Are there born learners who naturally can learn languages while others might struggle? Share your ideas.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Therefore, what do you think are the keys to raising children in our day and age? What did your parents do to raise you that worked or didn't work? Share your ideas. You can also listen of an activity on my Website on this topic at:
Monday, October 13, 2008
Friday, October 10, 2008
Crime, particularly robbery and burglary, can be found in most places around the world, and learning to deal with it----including protecting yourself----is an important concern. Furthermore, as you travel to new places, you need to take precautions to minimize your risk of theft. Here is my newest listening activity on the topic at my site, www.esl-lab.com:
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
But, of course, this isn't just an international student issue as well; native English speakers engage in the practice. So, my question is on how we can best train and educate students to better do research and improve their writing skills so they can avoid the problem of plagiarism and the potential penalties of engaging in such a practice. Please share your ideas and experiences.
Monday, September 29, 2008
For these reasons, I created my site, Daily ESL (http://www.dailyesl.com) to help students learn common expressions, dialogues, and vocabulary for everyday use. Give this site a try. Here is one example:
I'm still developing the site, but this page should give you an idea on the types of activities and lessons I'm working on. There is a listening activity, discussion questions, a vocabulary quiz, and even an Internet Exercise.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
"You make a living by what you earn;
you make a life by what you give."
What do this mean to you and have you done anything in your life for others that made their lives better? I'm speaking specifically things done for other people outside of your family or immediate relationships (wife, husband, partner, girlfriend, etc.). I remember years ago one of my sons picked apples off his grandfather's apple trees (with his grandfather's permission, of course), sold the apples to neighbors, and then gave all of the money he earned to our church to help the poor in our area. I think he remembers that experience, and it also affected those who perhaps didn't really need all of the apples they bought, but they saw that his efforts might help other people.
So, what things have you personally done or have seen done in your area to help others? Is this type of volunteer work common? Please share your ideas.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Now, the person that is most important in my life is my wife of 21 years. I told my kids that when two people are considering marriage, they really have no idea the amount of work that it takes to build a happy marriage, particularly when it takes a lot of work, patience, selflessness, and service. Romantic love only will take you so far. Deep commitment in the face of challenges is what can carry you through some dark hours in your life.
So, who is the most important person in your life? Please tell us about this person and describe how he/she/they have influenced your life.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Monday, September 1, 2008
Let me know what you think about them.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Two reasons (of several) that lead to this problem are that (1) students spend most of their day engaging in everyday conversation topics or activities like shopping, ordering at a restaurant, or riding a bus (They don't has their roommates about socio-political events over breakfast, which might not be natural anyway), and (2) students tend to learn a word here and there with no real vocabulary study method in mind.
For my students, I try to help them learn words basic on topic----words that are directly related to a common theme and that can be easily used with the grammar structures we are learning in class. So, if we are learning about adjective clauses (e.g., "I like people who are . . . ."), I would teach them positive and negative personality traits that could be used with the structure (here's a very short list):
As students have learned vocabulary in such a way, they seem to be able to express clearly their ideas at a higher, more fluent, level.
So, do you have other ideas for building vocabulary?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Friday, August 22, 2008
1. Just because you live in a country where English is the main language does not mean you will learn it. In other words, some parents believe that if they send their children to the US, the students will somehow automatically learn the language. Unfortunately, I have many students who come to class, but then spend their time in their apartments after class, by themselves or with students from their country, and they never get out into the community to use English. And when I say "use" English, just going to McDonalds and buying a cheeseburger everyday doesn't count. Some of my students who made the best progress volunteered in the community, go a job on campus, and took community classes to really use their English beyond the classroom.
2. Learning English takes time, and you will have good days and bad days. Some students become frustrated when they don't learn as quickly as they expect. Students learn differently, and not giving up is key.
3. Learn how to study. Hours spent in the library without a clear understanding of study skills won't help much. I always try to teach my students HOW to learn, including tips on how to best learn vocabulary and other skills. Without this knowledge, students tend to waste time not realizing that they might be more effective ways of learning than they are currently using.
So, do you have any comments or experiences that have helped you learn? If so, please share them.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
My greatest pleasure in life is spending time with my family. My wife and I have four children, and we have been married for more than 20 years. We currently live in Utah, USA, and we enjoy running/walking together, talking about life, and making each other happy. Life isn't always easy, but it is a a lot easier when you are working together to make things happen.
So, introduce yourself and tell us one thing that is unique or interesting about you.
Randall(The picture here was taken more than 20 years after we were married at the Manti Temple in Utah, as seen here.)
Monday, August 11, 2008
Thursday, July 31, 2008
Please share your ideas on this topic.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Please listen to the recording below and share your own thoughts on the topic. Then, take a look at this report of my experiences.
Bryce Canyon Half Marathon
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Have you ever done a hike that takes you to high places? Recently, a friend and I climbed to the top of a mountain called Cascade Mountain in Utah, and the hike is difficult because there is no trail. It took us 12 hours to go up and down back to the car, and the hike is hard on your body.
You can read a complete description of my hike, plus watch a video, at:
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Friday, July 4, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Recently, I participated in a physical challenge called the Wahsatch Steeplechase in Salt Lake City: a 27 kilometer trail race that goes up one side of a mountain and then goes down the other (here is a picture of me with only 12 kilometers to go). And you have to finish it in under six hours. The trail is hard, there are places where you have to climb over rocks, and there are times you have to run through deep brush---but it's "fun." The reason why I like trail runs is that it challenges you physically and mentally. You can read my complete report of the race at:
However, not everyone's challenges are the same. For some elite runners, the race I was in would be like a short jog in the park; for others, it would be beyond their current abilities. However, everyone has some challenges: they might even by physical disabilities that affect our ability to do simple things others take for granted.
So, what about you? What are some of the challenges you have faced in your life? What did these experiences teach you?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
So, what about you? What power would you enjoy having?
Monday, June 23, 2008
Friday, June 20, 2008
So, in light of this, how much freedom should teenagers have their own lives to make their own choices (and accept the consequences for their actions)? What was it like as a teenager growing up in your family? How can parents and children develop a positive relationship during this time?
Please share your ideas.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
What can individuals (you and me) to lessen the impact on our lives, increase gas mileage of our vehicles, and conserve more energy? Please share your ideas.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
- Charity begins at home.
- Don't bite off more than you can chew.
- The best things in life are free.
- The more you know, the more you know you don't know.
- Walk the walk and talk the talk.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Please share your ideas.
Monday, June 9, 2008
It is also interesting that many visitors ARE native speakers, but they might have hearing impairments and benefit from the listening content in interpreting meaning from the sounds they hear. I never thought about this use when I first started my site back in 1998.
Thursday, June 5, 2008
So, what about your area, culture, or country? What are some general rules of etiquette I should know and have these rules changed over time?
Monday, June 2, 2008
Many learners have used my main Website, http://www.esl-lab.com/, but other students are looking for easier listening activities for low-level students. Well, the good news is that I am adding such activities to my site now, and you can see these in the middle of my main page and are called Basic Listening Quizzes. Give these a try. The can help you improve your basic listening skills. Here are direct links to some of them:
Introductions and Small Talk - http://esl-lab.com/eslbasic/introductions-smalltalk-1.htm
Shopping and Prices - http://esl-lab.com/eslbasic/shopping-prices-1.htm
Directions Around Town - http://esl-lab.com/eslbasic/travel-sightseeing-1.htm
Let me know what you think.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
Take a look at at some articles about the topic HERE.
Monday, May 26, 2008
So, do you have a similar holiday in your country? If so, what do you do on this day? What is the meaning of this day to you? Share your ideas.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Please share your ideas.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Please share your experiences if you have used the site and, if so, how it has helped you learn English.
Monday, May 19, 2008
In this poll, I asked visitors what they felt was the best question to ask in this situation, and I feel the results show that students lack sociolinguistic awareness as I mentioned above.
For example, asking a complete stranger his or her name just doesn't make sense and the native speaker might be very surprised at the random question. I mean, native speakers don't ask this question unless a name is really needed. I most cases native speakers, in this case on an airplane, might talk about a variety of random things like the food or the person's travel destination for hours without ever asking the person's name because it isn't really needed.
So, what do you think about this topic and the other responses to the survey? Share your ideas.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Share your ideas on the topic, including what laws have been passed on the requirements for children attending school in your country.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Share your ideas on this topic.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Share your ideas.
Monday, May 12, 2008
Now, share your ideas on the topic.
Friday, May 9, 2008
Now, share your favorite movie with us.
Thursday, May 8, 2008
If I found (simple past) a million dollars, I'd (=I would) turn it in to the police.
If I had found found (past perfect) a million dollars last week, I would have turned it in to the police.
Again, my students know the rules, but they can communicate fully because of their lack of vocabulary, and nothing will change until they come up with a detailed and clear plan to build their vocabulary. With this in mind, I've created vocabulary activities on my site to help students achieve this goal:
If you have other sites you use to build vocabulary, please share these with us.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Personally, I think a lot of problems deal with unrealistic expectations. I often run into people who are dating people with personal issues and problems and feel that they can change their partners or that their partners will change over time. My suggestion is that people don't marry a "project." If your partner already has personal problems, there is a strong likelihood that the problems will get worse, not better. People who want to marry should start preparing for a relationship years in advance rather than start to change when they meet someone.
So, what do you think on this topic?
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
So, what do you think about this topic?
Monday, May 5, 2008
So, share your experience or memory of someone who has made a difference in your life.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Share your ideas.
Friday, May 2, 2008
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
I WANT TO GO TO THE PARTY TODAY.
English is a stress-timed language, and thus, some syllables are stressed and others are reduced to give English its sing-song or rhythm. Some languages have only clear, strong vowels, but the most popular vowel sound in English is the schwa sound. Thus, the sentence above might be pronounced:
i wanna go ta the party tanight.
One of my Websites, Train Your Accent (http://www.trainyouraccent.com), is designed to give students practice with reduced speech. Give it a try.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
So, if you found yourself in this situation, what kinds of questions or statements could you make to start a NATURAL conversation? Please share your ideas.
Monday, April 28, 2008
Friday, April 25, 2008
If a friend wanted to visit your country, city, or local area, what would you want to show them? Personally, I an outdoor fanatic, and I love to hike, camp, explore the beautiful rugged scenery in Utah, the state where I live in the US. There are many beautiful canyons where you can go without see a single person during your hike. While many people prefer to visit areas from their cars, I enjoy going deep into the backcountry where there lots of peace and quiet. Here are a couple of pictures I took with family recently. So, share your favorite place in your area. You can see more pictures of Utah at:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
So, what do you think about this topic? Share your ideas.
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Everyone has probably had scary experiences in your life that changed them, in some cases for the better. Personally, I have a slight fear of heights, and last year, I climbed to the top of a mountain called Lone Peak near my house. The mountain isn't that tall (about 11,000 feet), but the last 300 feet to the top requires great care and hands-on moves with a lot of exposure. In other words, one slip and your gone. I climbed the mountain twice in about a month's time, but the first time, I didn't have the courage to climb 15 more feet to the top. At the same time, I knew my limitations, so I was satisfied with what I did. However, a month later, I climbed the mountain again and reach the very top, as seen in this picture. This experience helped me conquer some of my fears, but it also taught me not to take undue risks: you should do what you feel comfortable in life and just be satisfied with small accomplishments.
So, what about you? Share a scary experience and what you learned from it.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
On the other hand, I have worked with other students who have volunteered in the community at schools, homeless shelters, and youth groups, or who have taken music classes, joined health clubs, and visited senior citizen centers. These students really make great efforts to meet people and not only did they improve their English, but they made lasting friendships and learned more about the local culture.
Learning another language won't happen automatically without effort. It takes a lot of work, dedication, and a tolerance of your own mistakes.
So, what do you think about this topic?
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
For me, trying to explain to a Japanese pharmacist in Tokyo that young daughter had constipation using body language was a real challenge, but after a while of using gestures and drawing pictures, we finally understood each other, and I got the "medicine" I needed. At least from the experience, I gained more confidence that I could handle other similar situations in the future.
Now, share your experiences.
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Monday, April 14, 2008
Friday, April 11, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
So, is having an English-Only policy in class a good idea? How can teachers help students improve their English under similar situations?
Tuesday, April 8, 2008
So, what are the keys to getting a better TOEFL score and how can students look past the TOEFL and improve real communication skills to survive the academic challenges of university life? Please share your experiences and ideas on this topic.
Monday, April 7, 2008
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Monday, March 31, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
- Natural ability
- Effective study skills
- Out-of-class activities
Therefore, I hold regular speaking workshops after school where students can practice their speaking skills in more natural situations. I also encourage students to use the grammar we are studying in their other classes as a way of recycling and reinforcing the structures we are studying.
Learning to use the language takes a lot of practice, and just being in a foreign country where the language is spoken isn't enough if you spend most of the time in your apartment alone.
So, please share your ideas on the topic.