Thursday, May 29, 2008

World Food Crisis: How are rising prices affecting you?

Food prices around the world are slowing increasing, and this has been hard of people in different countries, particularly where governments don't produce enough food and have to import food to feed their people. So, how have prices affected you or people in your own country? What do you think are the causes and solutions?

Take a look at at some articles about the topic HERE.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day: Do you have a similar holiday?

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, which is held on the last Monday of May. It is the day when people remember those who have died in military service, but we also remember family members who have died. Many people take flowers to the cemeteries, and cities often hold parades or other memorial ceremonies. In addition, it is often considered the beginning of summer because many schools end around this time of year, and people have barbecues, go camping, or do other outdoor activities.

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

Oil Reserves: When will they run out?

It is well known that there is only a limited amount of oil in the world today---oil that affects all aspects of our lives because it is used not only as a fuel but in some many products we buy everyday. The unknown factor is when all of this oil will run out. So, what do you think will happen in the world as we run out of oil? How will this situation affect our daily lives and our relationships with other countries?

Please share your ideas.


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab - Press Release

I just wanted to let you know about a press release about my site that might help you understand the background of my main listening Website:

Please share your experiences if you have used the site and, if so, how it has helped you learn English.



Monday, May 19, 2008

Conversational Starters: Which seems the most natural to you?

Although many ESL/EFL textbooks teach students basic ways to ask questions and start conversations, the real question is which question is the most appropriate under different situations. I believe that this where more focus should be placed because students ask inappropriate or strange questions because they don't understand under what context things should be said.

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

School Truancy: How to get students to attend school

From time to time, children and teenagers don't want to go to school, but certain laws might require parents to send their children to school. In the US, such laws exist, and parents can be held responsible if they don't do this, or they need to provide equivalent instruction at home. So, what can parents do when their children don't want to go? Do parents let children stay home, call the police to get help in taking their children to school, or find another means of motivating children to go to school?

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

Love: Do people show it the same way?

Although love is probably considered important for most people, the ways we show it might differ from culture to culture. Specifically, how to families show love and appreciation for each other. Do parents say to their wives, "I love you", or do they express this in a different way? Do parents hug and kiss their children and say that they love them? If so, until what age? Do parents use other ways of showing appreciation and affection for their children?

Share your ideas on this topic.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Apartment and Home Living: Anything Unusual?

Apartments and homes are different from place to place around the world because of culture, climate (weather), and architecture. So, if someone visited a typical or common home in your country, what would they find different or unusual from other parts of your own country or other parts of the world. This can include anything inside or around your house: types of rooms, decorations, cooking appliances, tables, chairs, religious objects, etc.

Share your ideas.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Animals, Bird, and Other Wildlife: What if . . .?

If you change into any animal for a day, which animal would you choose and why? Personally, I'd choose to be a high-flying bird. Then, I could fly and soar about the world below and enjoy the views. Because I love hiking ( is my site on hiking) I could also through canyons and high on some mountain peak where most people can't go. It would just be great to see things from a different perspective.

Now, share your ideas on the topic.


Friday, May 9, 2008

Favorite Movie: How did it move you?

Do you have a favorite movie? If so, share your thoughts about it and why other people would be interested in seeing it. Personally, I saw the movie, Brian's Song, years ago about the friendship and courage of two friends who played together on the Chicago Bears football team (see more information HERE). Although the men compete for the same position on the team, they develop a bond of friendship that helps them during times of great tragedy. I highly recommend the movie if you enjoy a movie with a positive, uplifting message.

Now, share your favorite movie with us.


Thursday, May 8, 2008

ESL Vocabulary Quizzes

One of the challenges I face as a English grammar teacher is that although my students can understand the grammar points I present in class, they often don't have to vocabulary to use with it. For example, I might teach students how to use unreal conditions like this:

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

Successful Relationships: What factors predict success?

Breakups and divorce are becoming common practice in relationships and marriage, but I'm sure people don't start out say, "Hey, there's a good chance that we will get a divorce in the future. Isn't that nice?" Of course not. But, despite people's original intentions to stay together, people break up. So, what are the keys to successful, lasting relationships? What factors lead to divorce? Do people change after they get married?

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

World Changes: What if . . .?

If you could change one thing in the world today, what would it be? Personally, I'd encourage people to be more caring of others and think less of themselves. In my opinion, many of the world's problems deal with selfishness and neglecting the needs of others.

So, what do you think about this topic?


Monday, May 5, 2008

Mother's Day: A Day to Remember

Mother's Day is right around the corner, usually celebrated on the second Sunday of May. So, what is your favorite memory about your mother (and if not your mother, someone else who has been a special mentor or guide in your life---father, grandparent, teacher). Personally, I remember my mom reading to me as I went to bed and I now try to do that with my own kids. I've also tried to spend time talking to my children, even to my oldest who is 18.

So, share your experience or memory of someone who has made a difference in your life.


Saturday, May 3, 2008

Favorite Honeymoon Destinations

If you could go anywhere on your honeymoon (assume you're not married) and money was not an issue, what destination would you choose and why? How long would you be gone? Where would you stay: in a hotel, bed and breakfast, or other? Would you even consider not going on a vacation and just saving your money to something practical?

Share your ideas.


Friday, May 2, 2008

TOEFL Score: Does it predict success?

As a general rule, international students need a good TOEFL score to get into many North American universities. However, my question is whether a good score is a predictor or good measure of whether a student will succeed or not at the university. Personally, I have met many students who somehow manage to get a fair score, but they can't communicate very well or who are not aware of the US educational system and do poorly. So, what do you think on this topic?