Saturday, June 28, 2008

Wahsatch Steeplechase: One of my Greatest Physical Challenges

Everyone---sooner or later---will face great emotional, physical, spiritual, or financial challenges of their lives. As part of life, we can escape this. However, there are times when we purposely take on challenges to test ourselves---to see how much we can do.

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

Super Powers: What if . . .?

If you had any super power (e.g., fly, lift heavy objects, etc), what would it be and why? Personally, I would like to run a little faster than I already do. I enjoy running in marathons or other similar races that are away from the city, but I wouldn't mind going a little faster, not because I can win a race, but because I would have more time to enjoy the scenery around me and take pictures. I could run for a while, stop, rest, and take some pictures and still be able to finish in time. You can see my recent run in the Wahsatch Steeplechase HERE.

So, what about you? What power would you enjoy having?


Monday, June 23, 2008

Divorce and Failed Relationships: What are the causes?

When people start a relationship, particularly in marriage, most aren't thinking that divorce is inevitable or likely. ("It happens to other people, but not us. Right, honey?") People are happy and excited about the future. However, all too often, relationships end, and this is often a traumatic or emotionally difficult time. So, what are possible causes for troubled relationships? What can people do to improve relationships before problems occur?


Friday, June 20, 2008

Raising Teenagers: How much freedom should they have?

Being a teenager and being a parent of one present some unique growing challenges from an emotional, financial, and educational standpoint. For the teenager, is a new time in their lives when they are seeking for self-identify; for the parent, it can be a difficult time as teenagers exert their independence and no longer want to be managed by parents.

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

Rising Gas Prices: How do you deal with them?

The price of gas in many parts of the world is continuing to rise, and as a result, is affecting life for many individuals and businesses. Now, there might be a number of things that countries can deal with the issue include encouraging individuals to conserve, increase production, and developing refining infrastructure, but my question is this:

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

Travel and Sightseeing: Going alone or with a friend?

If you had the opportunity to travel overseas for a month, would you rather go alone or travel with someone else (a family member or a friend)? Share your reasons. Also, talk about the place you would want to visit.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

English Proverbs: How do they relate to you?

Many language has certain sayings or proverbs that teach some moral lesson about like, and English is no exception. Choose one of the following proverbs, share your ideas on what it means, and then tell us how it relates to your own life:

  • 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.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Teacher Features at Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab

Over the years, many visitors (teachers and students) have used my main Website,, to either teacher or learn English as a second or foreign language. Now, I'd like to feature teachers and how they have used the listening materials to help students improve their language skills. Please visit this page for more information:

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

Good Manners: Understanding the Cultural Puzzle

When you visit a new area or country, you really need to learn the rules of good etiquette or manners so you don't offend other people. However, what are some basic manners that you feel people should know and how are these manners changing? For example, when I was growing up over 30 years ago in the US, men would always give up their seats to a woman on a bus. It was just considered polite. However, this is changing. In fact, at this very moment, I am writing this message on a city bus as I travel to work today, and the bus in packed with people. Yet, there are some women standing while other men are sitting. In other words, men don't give up their seats as often these days. Perhaps this is due in part to fact that the movement of feminist equality makes men wonder if women really want to be treated differently.

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

Basic ESL Listening Activities

Many learners have used my main Website,, 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 -

Shopping and Prices -

Family -

Directions Around Town -

Bus Travel -

Let me know what you think.