Monday, December 31, 2007

Television: The Good and The Bad

Many homes have one or more television sets in them, and some people spend a great deal of time watching them. However, what are the benefits (advantages) and disadvantages of watching TV? Is it all bad? How can parents and individuals monitor what they watch? Has the content of TV changed over the last 30 years or so? Share your ideas on this topic.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Celebrations

The new year is just around the corner, and people around the world celebrate this day in different ways. Share your thoughts and ideas on how people in your country or area celebrate this holiday, including ideas on foods, activities, and vacation plans.



Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas in Different Languages

Here is a site that tells you how to say Merry Christmas in many different languages:

Now, feel free to share any of your favorite memories of how you celebrate this holiday. If you don't celebrate this day, then tell us about other end-of-year celebrations in your country.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Daily ESL: Everyday English Practice

I just wanted to let you know of one of my other listening Websites, Daily ESL, that can help you improve your listening, reading, speaking, and vocabulary. The Website contains short readings and listening practice about everyday situations, followed by a vocabulary quiz about the reading, as seen in this example:

This is followed by a discussion topic and an online activity where students can use their English to do basic information gathering on the topic. Take a look at this site.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

New Years Resolutions

At the beginning of each new year, people often make resolutions---plans to change or improve something in their lives during the coming year. Personally, I want to improve my conditioning so I can run in a marathon this year. I ran a half marathon this past year, but I want to complete a full marathon. It's not that I really enjoy running, but the mental conditioning is something that helps my mind and body at the same time. So, how about you? What plans for change do you have for the new year?


Monday, December 17, 2007

Who's Cooking Dinner Tonight?

In this poll, I asked visitors who does most of the cooking at home. Perhaps, the answer wasn't a surprise, but over 80% of you said your mother. Keeping this in mind, additional questions might be:

  • Does your mother work outside of the home, and does she still do the cooking?
  • Does your father or other family member help clean up the dishes and table after the meal?
  • Are more and more younger men being expected to help their wives with cooking?

Please share your ideas.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Favorite Holiday

Holidays and festivities are an important part of our cultures, and understanding the holidays of others (especially when traveling overseas) can help us appreciate other people more. So, please share with us your favorite holiday from your country: what day is it, how is it celebrated, and what special foods and drink are associated with it?


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Improving Listening and Speaking Skills

Probably the most often asked question I receive is how students can learn to improve their listening and speaking skills in their home countries. To me, improving these skills must be an active process, rather than a passive one, in which students are interacting with people in the language. Yes, watching movies can help, but it is normally a passive idea in which you just sit, eat popcorn, and watch the move; however, an even better idea is to watch short sections of video with friends and then discuss the movie with them using specific language skills that group has been studying. A few years ago, I wrote this short article about this topic at It list other ways of learning languages in situations where the target language isn't English. So, please share your ideas on how to improve listening and speaking skills in your own countries. Randall

Monday, December 10, 2007

Religion: Does it matter?

For many people around the world, religion is an important part of the lives; for others, it plays a lesser or no role. However, does a person's personal beliefs matter to you if they are running for political office in your country. In other words, would you vote for someone whose religious views differ from your own, or if the person didn't believe in God? Share your ideas on this topic and explain why.


Thursday, December 6, 2007

Tipping: How common is it in your country?

According to this survey, a majority of people say that tipping at a restaurant is a common practice, but there are many places where tipping is not required. So, do people tip in your country? If so, where do people tip (e.g., at a hotel, hair salon, taxi, etc.) What country are you from? What percent of tip are you expected to give? Share your ideas.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Superstitions: Anything Unique to Your Culture?

A superstition is a belief that isn't based on fact but on old ideas, and each culture has their own. Learning about these can help us understand different cultural values. For example, in the US, it is believed that if you carry a rabbit's foot, you will have good luck. Another one is that if you go to the end of a rainbow, you will find a pot of gold.

So, share with us a common superstition from your country. Randall

Saturday, December 1, 2007

The Ideal Friend

Friendship is important to most people, but ideas on what makes a good friend might be different from person to person. From the list of qualities below, which one is most important to you and why? Share your ideas and experiences on this topic.

  • sociable
  • honest
  • intelligent
  • rich
  • good looking
  • talkative
  • kind
  • trustworthy
  • reliable

Average English Class Size: Does it matter?

English is taught around the world, but the conditions are often very different. In fact, class size might be different from school to school and from country to country. But tell us about your experience. On average, how many students are there in a typical high school English class? How does this affect learning? Please share your ideas.