Wednesday, October 18, 2017

House Cleaning

I don't think loves to do chores around the house, but they have to be done. In my newest listening activity, I've created some practice on just this topic. GIve it a try:

Recycling Our Waste to Save the Planet

As human beings, we tend to create a great deal of waste and at times don't do a lot to recycle. This means anything from recycling newspapers and plastic bottles to fruit and vegetable scrapes. Since we have a garden, we usually take old banana peels and potato and melon skins, and compost them back into the soil. Not everyone has the space for that, but it is one way not just filling up garbage dumps with biodegradable materials that can easily break down and be reused. Here are a couple of videos on my site on this topic:

Friday, October 13, 2017

Meaningful Relationships

Developing healthy relationships with others is vital for a person's emotional well-being. I've been married for almost 30 years, and I certainly, try, although imperfectly, to care for and love my family. What's the secret? Compassion, validation, humility, and the ability to be wrong and admit your mistakes.
With this in mind, I created a number of listening activities on the subject. Enjoy.

Wonderful Dinner Meals

Without question, my wife is the most experienced cook in the house, and my oldest daughter makes some awesome curry. So, where do I fit in? I'm well behind them, to tell the truth, BUT one thing I enjoy cooking is spaghetti and meatballs, and that's what I made last night. I also picked some of our last green peppers from the garden, and one of them was huge.
Now, if you're interested in a more humorous story about cooking, give this conversation a try:

Thanksgiving Day

One of my favorite holidays is Thanksgiving Day. A day to be gracious, a day to be deeply grateful, a day to remember the selfless service that others have showered upon you, a day to reflect on each moment we share with others.
I've just created a listening activity on this day. Give it a try:

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Wedding Ceremonies

I'm adding some new recordings to my Web site, www.dailyesl.com. This new one focuses on wedding traditions in some places in the United States. Give it a try:

Friday, September 15, 2017

New Landscaping

I enjoy gardening, but I don't know a whole lot about landscaping and sprinkler systems, so right now we are having some work done on our yard. It's coming well, and thing should be done soon. On a similar topic, I created a listening conversation on a related topic in which a man takes landscaping into his own hands with disastrous results. Give it a try:

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Salt Flats Endurance Run 100

Back in April, I completed a 100-mile trail race in western Utah called the Salt Flats Endurance Run 100. Basically, you had to run, walk, and/stumble for 100 miles (160 kilometers) in the western desert of Utah. It was cold and windy, especially during the darkest parts of the night when your body just wanted to curl up in a ball next to the fire at the aid stations and drift into oblivion.
Participating in the race was a highlight of the year, but it was also an experience that made constantly question my ability throughout. I could constantly hear a voice inside subtly whispering in my ear to just call it quits, and beating back that relentless impulse----telling the voice to just shut up----was at times almost impossible because I was exhausted to the point of almost falling asleep on my feet.
Here is a short video of the race. I didn't get video at the lowest, most emotionally-draining, moments during the event, but it will give you a small snapshot of what it can be like to push yourself almost to the breaking point. Fortunately, my wife, Shirley, and daughter, Emily, were there at the end to cheer me on. I wouldn't have been able to drive myself back home that same day without them.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Emergency Hospital Visits

Going to the hospital can be one of the most difficult and traumatic experiences of your life. In my newest conversation, you meet a man who has just arrived at the hospital to hear unfortunate news about his wife. Give it a try:

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Our Dogs as Our Companions

Everyone seems to bond with someone or something, and for us, we love our dog companions. Although I never expected to own more than one dog, it turned out that way. In this video, I talk about two of our dogs. Give it a try:

http://www.esl-lab.com/petcare/petcare-video.htm

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

ESL Cultural Videos - Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Over the years, I have created a number of short videos on many aspects of language and culture. They are been fun to create, and I am always looking for new topics. Generally speaking, I often write up a short script from which to make a video (I usually do three or four videos at a time), grab my tripod and camera, and go out into the community . . . and away I go. During the video, I often change things up in the script, and the words seem to flow in that way. Then, I do some basic editing and then upload them to my site.

http://www.esl-lab.com/videoclips.htm

So, here's your chance. Let me know what other topics you would like to see in future videos, and I will certainly do what I can to make that happen.


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

Many people across the United States will view a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, and years ago, I created a listening activity on a rare solar eclipse that occurred on Christmas Day (December 25, 2000). Give the activity a try, and here are a couple of pictures from the day our family watched the eclipse back then:




Friday, August 11, 2017

Buying a Car

What is one thing some people can't live without, and other people would rather not own? Give my newest listening activity a try:

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Bus Travel

Some people drive; some people walk; some people take the train. For me, I take a bus and the train to work. Find out more about my commute to work in this video:

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Visiting the Grand Canyon

It seems like everyone wants to visit the Grand Canyon in Arizona at least once, but there are so many parts of the canyon that go unexplored. One of those places is Havasupai. On my Web site, hikinginutah.com (Yes, I realize, that this place is NOT in Utah, but my report is found on my site), I have a summary and video on this area. Take a look:

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Hikinginutah.com

Mountain Sunrise in Utah, USA
Many people know my hobbies of hiking and running. Last night, I participated in a 50-kilometer mountain running event that started at 9:00 PM and I finished at 7:30 AM. It was long an hard. The pictures show the sunset when I started and the beatiful sunrise through the trees at about 6:00 AM. You can learn more about my running adventures at my site,hikinginutah.com.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Growing Your English Garden

Some people struggle to learn a language, with the hope that they pick it up with some basic effort and exposure to the language; unfortunately, learning a language well requires a great deal of effort and patience, and the process is similar to growing a garden. "How can that be?", you say. Well, watch my video on the topic:

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hotel Rooms

Have you been to a really good or bad hotel? Such experiences are often memorable. Now, try my newest listening activity on hotels. Enjoy:

Monday, July 17, 2017

University Programs

So, how do you go about choosing a university program where you can pursue your major? That's a tough question. In my newest listening activity for beginning students, you can practice your basic listening skills on the topic of university and college studies. Give it a try:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Cleaning Clothes

Admit it, men. We sometimes (or often) make mistakes, and we seldom want to admit them. Well, in this conversation, this man (me) makes a huge mistake that makes his wife very unhappy. Give it a try:
http://esl-lab.com/washerdryer/washerdryerrd1.htm

Now, share your ideas. Are there certain things that women are better at doing than men? Is the opposite true as well? Are there certain stereotypes about men and women that need to be addressed?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Father's Day

Father's Day was last Sunday, but I always enjoy visiting listening activities that I have created on the topic. In this case, my daughter plays the role of a young girl who is buying a gift for her father. Actually, we made this recording more that 15 years ago, but it is still a favorite. Enjoy.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Sleeping problems


Unfortunately, some people have trouble falling a sleep, and that certainly would be hard on your health and even your relationships if you are keeping others up. However, some people maintain very odd schedules and engage in activities that keep them up all night. So, in this listening conversation, what is the man's problem and how can he best deal with it? Give it a try. Do you ever find yourself in similar situations? Please share?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Study Abroad


Many students are interested in studying abroad to learn English. However, learning the language isn't as easy as you might think. Before you travel overseas, you decide what your goals are and if they are realistic. Many students think that they can learn English just be being in the vicinity of where English is spoken. Unfortunately, many students isolate themselves with other students of the same country, and they never learn much English.

Some of my students who come from overseas come to do some sightseeing, but they find opportunities to use English on a daily basis. Please share your ideas on the topic.

Randall

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Memorial Day

Yesterday was Memorial Day in the United States. You might have noticed a lot of people visiting cemeteries and leaving flowers. I was one of those people along with some members of our family. Watch this video to learn more about this day:

Monday, May 29, 2017

Practicing English in Your Own Country

Many student have limited opportunities to use and practice English in their own countries, and therefore, feel they have no options to learn the language. However, besides taking language classes, students can still find ways to expand their learning. One option is to set up an English club at your school where you and your friends practice the language in a small group, perhaps by organizing a small play or drama. You can also watch a movie together and then discuss the plot in English. Now, share your ideas on how students can practice English in their countries.

Randall

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The courage to do hard things

Many people enjoy participating in extreme sports, ones that require high physical and mental endurance. For me, doing ultramarathons can bring personal satisfaction in completing something very difficult. At the same time, I realize that other people struggle with physical limitations that make just walking difficult, and I praise their courage.
Here is my video on extreme sports:

Friday, May 12, 2017

Part-Time Jobs

Summer is almost here, and it certainly a time when some youth go out and get part-time jobs. As our kids were growing up, they often got jobs in different places in our community. Watch this video to find out more. What kind of jobs do you (or did you) have to earn money? Share your ideas.

http://esl-lab.com/sitter/parttimejobs-video.htm


Ultimate XC Moab 50K Trail Race


Back in 2008, I ran my first  50-km (31 mile) desert trail race in southern Utah, and it was a great experience. Even now, 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.

Randall

This is a picture of me at about 30 kilometers into the race along the Colorado River in Utah.

National Flags: Celebrating Special Events

The national flag of any country often represents the values and beliefs of the country. So what about your flag? What does it symbolize to you? On which specific holidays and occasions is your national flag put on display? Do homes display the flag outside or so you only see it at schools or government buildings?

Share your ideas.

Randall

Marriage: What keeps couples together?

As part of classroom discussion on relationships and values, I sometimes ask my English students what they look for in an ideal marriage partner. Invariably, I have students that mention good looks . . . if they are willing to admit it. In part, I can see where students are coming from at they age; however, many young people who are romantically in love often don't realize that good looks only last a season, and the only thing you can really improve in life is your character and the values that will help you will stormy seas come your way.

Almost 30 years ago when my wife and I were getting married, I had no idea of the blessings, the joy, and the challenges that would come uninvited to our door. I wanted to be able to say, "Hey, problems. Take a number and stand in line until I'm ready to deal with you!"

No, life isn't that kind.

So, I often tell my own children that when they are looking for someone to marry, don't marry a "project" (a person who doesn't have strong values, and that only makes temporary changes in his/her life to impress you). Instead, marry someone who will not blow away when the first problem arises or that wants to leave you for convenience sake.

People who only think of themselves will only be temporary partners.

Thus, what do you feel are the values and traits in a person that will keep people together through thick and thin---through good and bad times. Couples always say they will stay together, but what are the differences between those who stick it out and those who don't?

Share your ideas on this topic.

Randall

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Personal Introductions: Tell Us About Yourself


My greatest pleasure in life is spending time with my family. My wife and I have four children, and we have been married for almost 30 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

Weight Loss: What is a healthy diet?

Many people want to lose weight for a variety of reason, and some of these people choose to go on a diet. But are all diet plans the same? How would you describe a "healthy" diet? What foods should you each? How often? How can you effectively combine exercise in such a diet? What have been your personal experiences in dieting and what has worked for you?

Please share your ideas.

Randall

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Reducing Your Accent

Many students want to eliminate their accent so they sound just like native speakers; however, eliminating your accent is probably impossible, and it it might be undesirable. First, everyone has an accent, including myself, and reducing your accent in areas that affect understanding is a more realistic goal. Furthermore, our accent identifies us to our country, which is part of our identify. What do you think?
Randall

Remember the Dead: What customs are common in your culture?

Death is just a part of life, but it can be a very sad occasion when a family member or friend dies. When someone dies, each family and culture has its own way of preparing for a funeral and remember the person, and knowing these customs can help people pay their respects to the family.

In your culture, what specific customs are they at the time a person dies? Do people have a special gathering to remember the deceased? What exactly takes place?

Please share your ideas.

Randall

Monday, May 8, 2017

Smoking: Kicking the Habit

Here's my newest listening activity on the issues of smoking and its effects on ourselves and those around us. Share your opinions on this topic:

http://esl-lab.com/smoking/smokingrd1.htm

What are the basic laws or rules of etiquette regarding smoking in public or at home in your area today? How have these laws changed over the years? For example, in some places, smoking is not allowed in public buildings, and you have to smoke a certain distance away from the entrance and windows of public buildings.

Marriage Preparation

For me and my wife, marriage has been a central and wonderful part of our lives, but all too often, people simply plan for the wedding and honeymoon and don't realize the work it takes to build a life together. I mean, marriage isn't like fishing: you make a big catch and then you sit on the bank of life with little care and effort. In my newest listening activity, I plan the role of a man who absolutely has no idea about marriage and doesn't seem to listen to his sister's advice. Give it a try:

http://esl-lab.com/marriage/marriagerd1.htm

Barbecue Party

Everyone likes good food and equally good company, and having a barbecue is one way to do this. Here is my newest listening activity on the topic. Enjoy:

http://www.esl-lab.com/barbecue/barbecuerd1.htm

So, what do you do personally if you organize a barbecue? Where do you have it? What kinds of foods do you prepare and eat? What activities do you do? Please share your ideas.

Study Tips for the New Year

As the new year begins, students often are starting new courses of study or even trying to set new goals in their language study. As part of this, let me suggest an important idea that often students don't consider as part of their learning.

I have taught language students for more than 25 years, and the thing that often has the greatest impact on their development as a person is the extent to which students learn to interact with people, inside and outside of the classroom. In other words, some of my students only see the purpose of taking language classes as a means of learning a language and fail to understand the necessity of learning how to deal with people as part of the communication process.

What good is learning a language when a person doesn't have the cultural and social skills to build relationships?

One simple idea is that students set goals to only use English in the classroom, especially when they are in a class with students from many differnt countries. By using a common language, students build bridges instead of walls. When students only use their language, they become self-isolated from the rest of the world. Unfortunately, these same students often wonder why they can't make friends beyond their own language group. (Situations where students are studying English as a foreign language are often different.)

Furthermore, these same students often tell me one minute that they want to be in classes with students from other countries to practice their English, and then the next minute they self-isolate by speaking in their native language. I'm speaking specifically of where students are studying English as a second language.

I guarantee students that if they try to speak the target language, they will not only improve their language skills, but they will also develop new friendships and gain greater confidence in succeeding in their other goals.

What is your opinion or experience on this topic?

Randall

Saturday, May 6, 2017

The World's Future: What lies ahead?

The world is constantly changing, and this will undoubtedly be true throughout this century and beyond. However, if you could see into the future in the year 2110, what do you think the world would be like for any one of these topics?
  • the environment
  • the world economy
  • transportation systems
  • poverty and/or disease
  • war and peace
  • new technological advances
  • contact with aliens from another world
  • population growth
  • space exploration
Share your ideas on one or more of these topics.

Randall

Hotel Room Service

There are times when I'm at in a hotel and just want to order room service. I'm just too tired to go out and eat, but the price and select of food at the hotel certainly influences what I do. Try my newest listening activity on the topic:

http://esl-lab.com/roomservice/roomservicerd1.htm

Cancer Treatment: Tell or not tell?

Dealing with a disease like cancer can be a very traumatic experience both for the patient and the family. However, different cultures have their own beliefs about life and death, and understanding these differences should guide doctors and family in the way the treat and deal with this trauma. Therefore, how do people in your culture view the treatment of cancer? Does your view of death and the afterlife influence what you say to cancer patients? Do people openly tell the person they have cancer? Share your personal experiences and ideas on this topic.

Randall

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Internet: Does it really help students?

Although we often view the Internet as the superhighway to information, one might wonder if too much information---or at least certains types of content---isn't providing us with better quality information in the end. For example, many students use the Internet---and Google---to find relevant details for papers they may be writing for their classes; however, because anyone can publish and copy on the Internet, it is very hard to decifer between accurate sources and just plain junk.

So, in what ways do you feel that the Internet can help students in the studies, and what challenges are students faced with as the try to navigate the vastness of the World Wide Web?

Randall

Lawyers: What role do they play in society?

The word, "lawyer," often conjures up different images in people's minds: one the one hand, someone who helps provide relief to those who have be injured or who have suffered injustices, and on the other hand, a person who is dishonest and is only looking out for his/her personal interests.

Yet, what role do lawyers plan in your own socities? Are there times in our life that you would benefit from having a lawyer on your side? If so, when? Have you ever had positive or negative experiences in working with a lawyer?

Share your ideas.

Randall

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Our Changing Seasons: What's Your favorite Time of Year?

What is your favorite time of year? For me personally, I enjoy late summer and fall for several reasons. First of all, the weather is slowly cooling off, allowing for some very pleasurable hiking and running. Second, this is the time when our garden and fruit tress are producing the rewards of our work.

Please share your ideas about your favorite season.

Randall

Christmas: Is it celebrated in your country?

Christmas is a holiday celebrated by many people around the world, but how the day is remembered can differ widely from country to country and even from family to family. Please share your ideas and experiences on this holiday, and what people do on this day. If Christmas isn't celebrated, then please share any other festivities or holidays celebrated at the end of the year.

Randall

Monday, May 1, 2017

Writing Research Papers: The Library or the Internet?


Based on a recent poll, most students use the Internet first, verses the library, to begin start their research for writing assignments. However, is this because of convenience or because students feel they can find better information online? If students' first move is to use Google, then they perhaps don't really know how to use the Internet effectively because Google shows results based on link popularity without performing a content analysis on the actual information (i.e., is the information reliable, authoritative, and bias-free). So, what are your opinions on this topic? Can the library provide better information, or is just a matter of helping students really search the Internet with better skills to evaluate the information? Share your ideas.

Unique Sports/Activities to your Area

Are there any unique national sports or activities to your country or area that visitors would find interesting? As for Utah where I live, hiking is very popular, and you can see one of my experiences near my house here: http://www.hikinginutah.com/meadow-hike.htm . Now, share your country and its activities with us.

Randall

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Presidential Candidates: What do you look for?

Although every country has its own method of electing a leader (whether through the voice of the people or not), not all men or women end up being right for the job. Therefore, what is one quality or virtue you think is absolutely necessary in a political leader of a country? Share your ideas and explain your answer.

Randall

Monday, April 24, 2017

Exciting and Strange News Stories

The newspaper and TV are often filled with all kinds of news stories, from very tragic loss and rescue to very strange events like UFOs. Please share a short summary of a recent news story in your area and how this event impacts people like you in small or big ways.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Job Interviews

Going to a job interview can be a very nerve-racking experience, especially if you don't have any idea on what questions you might be asked. However, there are certain things you can do to prepare.

First of, do some research on the company. Visit its Web site, read information on the company, learn about the backgrounds of some of the workers there and their skills. Find out what kind of workers the company needs and determine how you can help fill those gaps.

So, give me your ideas. What things can you do to prepare and what kinds of questions could the company ask you? Share your ideas.


Ideal Wedding Anniversary Gift: What would it be?

Imagine you are celebrating your wedding anniversary (1, 5, 10, 20 years or more). What would you give your husband or wife on this special day? A book? Chocolate? A new car? Share your ideas.

Randall

Video Games: Harmful or Helpful?

For many years, video games have been a popular, recreational activity for the young and old. However, there is concern that they can have negative effects on people as well. Share your ideas on the benefits and possible negative effects on people. How can we learn to balance playing video games with other actvities?

Watch Randall's Video on this topic and then post your reaction to this topic:

http://www.esl-lab.com/game-boy/videogames-video.htm

Travel: Fly or Drive Across the Country?

If you were visiting a new continent in the world (e.g., Africa, South American, Australia, etc.), would you rather travel from city to city by plane or by ground transportation like by car? Why? Also, what are the advantages and disadvantages of for of transportation? Please share your personal experiences if you have traveled before?

Randall

Marriage: Showing Our True Colors

How often do you think people change after they get married? In other words, do people show one side of themselves before they get married and then show their true selves after the honeymoon? For example, are men willing to do dishes and shower women with gifts before the wedding and then stop because their love is secure? How can couples be sure they are marrying the person they think they are? Are these behaviors different from culture to culture? Share your ideas.

Randall

Friday, April 21, 2017

Car Rentals: Is the age of drivers important?

In some places around the world, companies have policies on how old drivers have to be to rent a car. Some feel this is out of safety, but other people believe young drivers can be equally responsible. What are your feelings on this? Share your ideas.


Car Accidents: Will raising the driving age help?

A great deal on discussion always focuses on whether raising the legal driving age really helps in reducing the number of car accidents. But, do teenagers really cause more accidents due to poor judgement? Would limiting the hours in which they can drive and the people with whom they can drive improve the situation? In other words, are teenagers more likely to have car accidents when they are with their friends? What is the legal driving age in your country or area? Please share your ideas on this topic. I'm interested to hear how different cultures view young drivers.

Randall

PC or a Mac? Which computer do you like best?

Personal computers running versions of Windows from Microsoft and Mac computers from Apple have been competitors for a very long time. But for you, which computer do you prefer to use and why? If money weren't an issue and you had an unlimited amount to spend, which computer type would you buy? Please share your ideas and experiences on the topic.

Randall

Distance Education: Online Verses Classroom Learning?

Some people believe that you can get a great education online instead of attending a college or university at a traditional school. What do you think? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Share your ideas.



Unusual or Different Cultural Traditions

Years ago while we were living in Japan, we visited a Japanese public bath a number of times. It was certainly a unique experience to bathe and get in a large jacuzzi, tub, or spring completely naked with complete strangers. That said, it was fun to immerse yourself into the local culture and see things, not as strange, but just different.

So, what are some unique cultural traditions that you have experienced in different parts of the world, including your own? Please share your ideas.

A Typical Meal From My Country

In some places in the world, people often eat traditional foods from their region or country. This certainly isn't unusual; however, in my family, we eat foods from around the world. It isn't unusual for us to each Peruvian one night, Mexico another night, and then Korean or Japanese another time. We tend to each such a variety because of our experiences living overseas and my work with international students.

So, in your family, what are some foods you eat regularly as part of your cultural tradition? Please share.


Grocery Shopping: How much do things cost?

Prices of food seem to be rising worldwide, and these prices are affecting the livelihood of so many people. Rising prices are due to a number of factors including rising oil prices (which in turn affects the cost of transporting food) and the use of foods in producing alternative fuels. Now, use the money exchange calculator below to tell us approximately how much, in US dollars, each of the items cost:

http://www.xe.com/currencyconverter/
  • a liter of gas
  • twelve eggs
  • a liter of milk
  • a loaf of white bread
  • a kilo of ground beef (hamburger)
  • a McDonald's hamburger
Randall

College Textbooks: Are they overpriced?

My daughter was taking a class at a local university, and I almost fell over when she told me that the book for the class cost about $150, and it was only a paperback book. My question is whether schools and publishers charge too much money for books, particularly when they cost almost as much as the class itself. What do you think? And in such cases, is there anything a student can do to find cheaper books? Share your ideas.

Randall

ESL Classes: Is taking hard classes a good idea?

What I often see as a teacher of ESL is that students want to take language classes at a higher level than they are prepared to handle. These students say they just want to try a harder class and will do their best even though the material is difficult. Unfortunately, these same students don't realize that their decision is not just a personal one because it affects everyone involved. The other higher students don't want to work with lower students and wonder why the student was allowed into the class, and the teacher feels obligated to slow down and simplify the content so the lower-level student understands the class, and the other students don't want that either. And in the United States, if the student is on a student visa and fails a class, it can affect their visa status. Thus, what seems like an individual decision really can affect many other people. I strongly suggest that students do the best at the classes at their level, and if they want more study, find a private study partner or small study group to give them more practice. What do you think on this topic?

Randall

Leisure Activities: What do you like to do?

Leisure or recreational activities outside of work and school can give people opportunities to relax and get rid of stress from the day, but I think that what people do is often determined by individual preference, culture, and even geographic location. Personally, I really enjoy hiking, as seen on my Website, Hiking in Utah (www.hikinginutah.com). Hiking in the mountains not only gives me chances to exercise, but it allows me to see nature and get away from the cares of the day. There is nothing like standing on a high mountain peak and enjoying the solitude. So, how about you? What do you like to do in your free time?

Randall

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Recommended Travel Destination

There are certainly many wonderful places to visit around the world, and your ultimate destination will depend on what you are looking for. and what you want to see. Personally, I enjoy nature, so my ultimate destination would be to visit a very scenic place in the mountains where I can run, hike, fish, and camp under the stars.

What about you? What is your ideal travel destination? Please share.


Breakfast Recipes


Imagine that a friend from a foreign country is staying at your home for a week. If you wanted to give this person a taste of your country's traditional food, what would you serve for breakfast (food and drink)? How do you prepare this meal? Is it easy to make? Please share your ideas. Then, visit my listening activity about breakfast recipes:


http://www.esl-lab.com/breakfastrecipes/breakfastrecipesrd1.htm

Best,

Randall

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Regular Mail or Email?

Imagine that you want to send a message to a dear friend (partner, spouse, or significant other), and you have the choice of either sending a handwritten letter or an email message? Which would you send and why? Would it depend on the occasion? Please explain your answer.

Randall

Credit Cards: Do they help or hurt students?


Back when I was a university students in the 1980s, credit cards were very difficult to obtain, and thus, students had to either borrow from family or banks, or save their money until they could make purchases. Now, credit card companies can't hand them out quick enough, and students seem to use their credit cards to buy everything from fast food and clothing, to airline tickets and other luxury goods. So, what do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of having credit cards, and how can students learn to use them wisely.

Randall

Parenting: The Challenges of Raising Children

Parenting is one job you can get without any experience, and being a parent for the first time isn't like changing jobs from one restaurant to another. It can be a challenge, particularly when raising teenagers. Therefore, what do you think are the keys of raising children, particularly older ones who are going through different periods of their lives. Therefore, what are some important things that parents can do to raise children successfully? Share your ideas. Also, try this listening activity on the topic:

- http://esl-lab.com/parenting/parentingrd1.htm


Randall

Fast Food: A Growing Worldwide Problem?

One of the first thing most of my new students say when they arrive in the US is that North Americans eat too much junk food, but is this image really accurate. Have eating habits changed over the past 25 years or so? My first job over 25 years ago was at a fast food restaurant, and the menu was basically limited to burgers, fries, and drinks. Now, the same restaurant offers healthier food choices including salads and fewer fried foods. Yet, does that mean more people are eating better? What about in your country? What percent of people now eat out at fast food restaurants than before? If so, what are the reasons for this change? Share your ideas.
Randall

UFOs: Are they real?


Is there life beyond our own solar system? It wasn't until around the mid 1990s that astronomers confirmed the existence of planets beyond our solar system, and since then, hundreds have been detected. Now, back when I was in junior high school years ago, most people like you and I could not really imagined such a thing, although scientists have long suspected it.


So, if hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of planets exist out there, what is the chance that life also exists? So, in this case, do you feel that UFOs are real (unidentified flying objects)?


Why or why not? How could their existence impact our life in the future?


Randall

Monday, April 17, 2017

Airplane Travel: Will you be charged by your weight?

Now that prices for airplane travel are increasing in different parts of the world, airline companies are trying to find ways on how to cut costs. Such measures might include charging for checked bags, not giving snacks and drinks to passengers during flights, and charging for in-flight movies. Now, companies might even consider charging you a fee based on your weight. In other words, the more you weigh, the more you pay. How would you feel if airlines had such a policy? Is it fair? Are better ways for the airline industry to pay for their own costs? Share your ideas.

Randall

Plane Travel: Best or Worst Experiences

Traveling by plane can be a very convenient way to get around the world if everything goes just right for you; however, as we all know, what we actually plan and how things turn out in life are two different issues.

On a positive note, I remember returning back to the United States after spending a couple of weeks in Saudi Arabia providing teacher training to language instructors there. It was a wonderful experience, and after the training, I was looking forward to being back home. Before I boarded the plane, I was pleasantly surprised to find out I had enough extra flying miles to upgrade me to first class, something I wasn't expecting, but I didn't pass up the chance to ride up front for the first . . . and probably last . . . time in my life.

On the other hand, I have had my share of unpleasant experiences in flying, and on one occasion abroad, my flight was delayed for over six hours in an international airport that resulted in my missing my connecting flight once I returned to the United States, causing me to have to stay in a hotel once extra night. Spending time in an airport in another country where you don't speak the language and you don't understand the flight announcements can be mentally and emotionally challenging. I just tried to smile and count my blessings that I had a family back home that was waiting for me.

Now, these experiences are not very extreme in nature, but it is likely that you have had both your share of good and bad travel moments. Please share them with us.

Best,

Randall

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Home Remedies: What do you do in your country?

Many people dislike running to the doctor for medicine to cure common ailments or sicknesses, and thus, they rely on traditional home remedies to help them feel better. For example, for a common cold I had one time, someone mixed up some lemon, garlic, and honey in boiling water, and I drank in to help relieve congestion. Fortunately, it seemed to work. So, are they home remedies specific to your family, country, and culture? Write about any home remedies to the following problems (or any other you can think of):

  • back pain,
  • bad breath
  • colds
  • diarrhea
  • fever
  • insect bites
  • insomnia (sleeping problem)
  • nosebleeds
  • sore feet
  • sunburn
  • stuffy nose

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Online Shopping: How much do you do?

Online shopping is becoming more popular in different parts of the world, but how much have your shopping habits changed? Do you find that you spend more money shopping online than you do in traditional stores? What do you spend you money on the most? what are the advantages and disadvantages of shopping online? Share your ideas.

Best,

Randall

Your Favorite Book: Why did you like it?

Reading is a fun way to learn more about life and the world around us, and my kids really enjoy reading all types of novels and stories. One particular series of books I enjoyed reading years ago was Redwall (www.redwall.org), fantasy novels by Brian Jacques, featuring an animal kingdom fighting each book against some evil force. The reason why I like these books so much was that the main characters show great virtues of honesty, loyalty, and kindness that can be applied to our lives today.

So, what about you? Share you favorite book and tell us why you like it.

Randall