Thursday, March 30, 2017

Traffic Violations: What should be the penalty?

In principle, traffic laws are in place to protect the public, both drivers and pedestrians; however, in my travels around the world, I notice that traffic laws are not always enforced. In looking at traffic laws in your country, are these laws obeyed by the majority of people? Which ones are the most difficult to be enforced? What are the penalties for violating the law in these cases: running a red light, illegal parking, drunk driving, and driving without a license?

Please share your thoughts on this topic.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

School Supplies: Needs or Wants?

With technology changing so quickly, one wonders whether certain things are really needed for school, or are they just wants that students can do without? For example, do students really need their own laptop to do their work? What about an iPhone, cell phone, or even textbooks?

What do you think a student really needs and what they don't? Should a student buy these things him/herself without asking a parent to do so? What are a child's responsibilities to pay for some educational expenses? Share your ideas.


TV Programs: Getting Better or Worse?

Do you think TV programs in your country have gotten better or worse over the last 10 years or more in terms of quality information, language, violence, topics, etc.? Discuss any reasons that have caused this change and the impact it has on society. What do you predict for the future?


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Parties: What time should I arrive?

Imagine that you are invited to a friend's house for a barbecue in your home country. What time would it be appropriate to arrive? A little early, right on time, or a little later? Would you do anything differently if it were a formal party at the house of your boss?

Every culture has its social rules for time, and knowing this when visiting a new culture can help smooth relations between you and others. Share your ideas on this topic.


Unique Pizzas: What toppings can I expect?

Although pizza can be found in countries around the world, the actual toppings on the pizza can vary from place to place based on traditional foods of the area. Please share any unique pizza styles I could expect if I order a pizza in your hometown. Share your thoughts on this topic.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Movie Rating Systems: Do they protect audiences?

In the United States, a movie rating system is used to inform people, particularly parents, on the content of movies so they can make informed decisions on what their children should watch. Such ratings are influenced by the movie's content including drugs, violence, and language. The ratings include G, PG, PG-13, R, and, NC-17. Personally, I think the ratings can give me a general idea on what might be appropriate for my kids, but each person's value system or tolerance for certain content can be influenced by personal background, religion, or family beliefs. In fact, there are some movies that are considered appropriate for teenagers that I find offensive, so the rating system might not be as useful.

So, what about in your countries? Are movies rated in any way to inform audiences of the content? If so, describe the system and then tell whether you think it is an effective method of protecting children from harmful material.


School Drink Machines: Should kids decide?

A hot topic of discussion in many parts of the world is whether schools should ban drink machines with certain types of soda (Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, etc.) for health reasons and replace these drinks with healthier choices like milk, water, and fruit juice. However, others feel that schools make money from these drinks, and students should be allowed to decide for themselves. What do you think about this topic? How do people in your area and country feel about this issue? Share your ideas.

Here are the results of my poll on the topic.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Cell Phones: A luxury (want) item or a necessity?

Recently, one of my kids wanted to get a cell phone, and I told "Mary" (names changed to protect their privacy :D), "Okay, go ahead and buy a cell phone, but I'm not paying for it." Mary said that she needed one to stay in contact with us, but fortunately, she was willing to pay for most of the cost and monthly fees because she realized I wasn't going to pay for it.

Personally, I see a cell phone as more of a convenience than anything, because I lived 40 years without one, and in most cases, I'd rather not carry one because everyone is always expecting an immediate response in an immediate age. Gone are the days when I lived in a foreign country 25 years ago, and went I sent a real letter to family, it sometimes took six weeks to receive a response. That was good in some ways because I wasn't distracted by the fact that someone didn't reply to me (like email) in less that 2 minutes.

So, what do you think about cell phones? Do you see them as a necessity or just a want? Share your ideas.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Travel and Sightseeing: By Bus, Train, or Plane?

If you had the choice of traveling across a large country or continent (like Canada, the United States, Australia, Thailand, or Africa), would you rather travel by bus, train, or plane? Please explain your reasons and share any experiences you have had on similar trips. What advantages or disadvantages are there to each form of transportation?



Saturday, March 18, 2017

Household Chores: Who is responsible in your culture?

Cooking, cleaning, caring for children, sweeping. So, who is responsible for such chores in your family and culture? Is there any expectation that women do these around the house instead of men? Is this changing? Do women put off getting married because they are worried they will have to do everything?

Having a clear understanding of the expectations on both sides before marriage can help avoid contention and problems in a relationship.

Now, tell us who is responsible for one or more of these household chores in your family and culture. Be sure to tell us where you are from so we can understand your culture better:

  • cooking
  • cleaning the bathroom
  • vacuuming floors
  • changing babies' diapers
  • washing clothes
  • ironing clothes
  • washing the dishes

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Emergency Preparedness: Is there anything we can do?

The recent natural disasters affecting China, Myanmar, and other regions around the world leaves us wondering what individuals can do to prepare in case of such disasters. Although not always possible, it is always wise to come up with a basic family plan on what to do in case a disaster strikes your area. In my family, we have put together a 72-hour kit in a separate backpack for each family member that contains food, water, and other essential things that would be needed to survive for three days. If an emergency strikes and we have to leave our house, we can grab our backpacks and go. We also have one in our car in case we are on the road and need some basic items. So, what other ideas and suggestions can you think of that might help individuals in case of an emergency?


Buying a Car: New or Used?

Imagine that you are in need of a buying a car. Would you prefer to buy a brand new car or a used car? What factors do you consider when choosing a car: age, mileage, cost, reputation of company, reliability, or other? Share your ideas on this topic.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Watching Movies at Home or Going to a Theater?

Imagine that you and a friend are trying to decide on whether to rent a movie and watch it at home or go out and catch a movie at a theater. Which would you rather do and why? Share your thoughts and opinions on this topic.


Making Money: What would you do with it?

If you had a great job and made a lot of money (let's say, ten million dollars a year) , what would you do with it? Would you buy something expensive or give it away? Share your ideas and explain your reasons for your choices.


World Cup Soccer

Soccer (or football in most of the world) is extremely popular around the world. Which country do you think has the best team at the moment? Why do you think that country can field such a strong team? Share you thoughts.

Here's a lesson from my site that deals with World Cup Soccer and can help students with their listening, speaking, and vocabulary skills:



Monday, March 13, 2017

College Expenses: Who Pays What?

According to this poll on my blog, the most common way for students to pay for college is to rely on parents for support verses paying for it themselves. Granted, paying for college isn't cheap, and scholarships are often not available. However, I find that students at college sometimes have little sense of managing their own finances and perhaps rely too heavily on their parents' pockets to pay for everything. Then, when they have to pay for some expenses, they often overuse credit cards to cover things. This can lead to debt and then the kids boomerang (return) back to their parents for help. So, in the end, what could be a good balanced approach to help students with the high costs, but at the same time lead them to become responsible with money? How do people in your countries and cultures teach independence and careful money management? Share your ideas.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Babysitting: How common is it?

In many parts of the United States, parents sometimes ask a young girl in the neighborhood (often between 12-17 years old) to watch their young children while they go out on a date. (This is especially true when the parents do not have other family who live nearby.) In exchange, the parents pay the girls money for their services (often based on the number of hours they care for the kids). However, such an activity might not be universal from culture to culture. So, is babysitting like I've described above common in your country? If not, what do parents do if they want to go out on a date alone? Please share your ideas.


Friendly Dental Care: Has that been your experience?

It seems to me that no matter where I go, most people have some concern, fear, and anxiety about visiting a dentist. Going to a movie? No problem. Eating out at a nice restaurant? A piece of cake. However, going to a dentist, even for a routine cleaning, is like walking through a pool of snakes for some people.

But, what about you? Do you have any concern or worries about visiting a dentist? Have you ever had a painful (physically, mentally, or financially) experience that makes going to the dentist unpleasant?

Share your experiences.


Friday, March 10, 2017

Traditional Sweets from Around the World

Although people might assume that making and eating cookies is a universal custom around the world, the reality is that many people prepare and enjoy a wide variety of sweets with unique ingredients. Therefore, if you invited me into your home for dinner and wanted to offer me a traditional sweet from your country, what would it be and what ingredients are used to prepare it? Share your culture with us!


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Senior Citizens: Who will care for them?

By and large, societies around the world are slowly aging, and this is creating its own unique challenges to care for this segment of our population. In your country or culture, what is the current situation of senior citizens:

  • Are many of them finding it necessary to work?
  • Do seniors often live alone or with family in their old age?
  • Do you have a grandparent that lives or lived with you?
  • What lessons of life can the elderly teach the youth of your country?
Please share your ideas.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Families: What are the keys to success?

I don't believe there is one key to success in raising a family, but I think honesty, integrity, compassion, and a open heart to listening to fears and concerns are some of the things that improve family relationships. You can read more about my ideas at my blog,

So, what do you think are the keys to raising happy and emotionally-healthy families?

Monday, March 6, 2017

Flowers: Which colors and types for the right occasion?

Buying flowers for different occasions is a common practice in many parts of the world, but figuring out the types of flowers (and their colors) can be a challenge. For example, you would never give a potted plant to someone in the hospital in Japan because the Japanese feel that the roots of the plant represent the deepening and serious nature of the illness. So, what types of flowers and colors would you give in these situations? Choose one or more and share your ideas:

  • a wedding
  • the death of a close friend
  • a birthday party
  • a school graduation
  • a farewell party
  • a friend is sick in the hospital

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Vacation Accommodations: Where would you stay?

Going on vacation and seeing new things are real pleasures for me, especially when you are doing something with family or friends. Personally, I enjoy nature, so a nice bed and breakfast in a quiet spot in the mountains would be an ideal place for me, but I certainly wouldn't pass up a fancy hotel in a new spot of the world.

So, what about you? What is image of the ideal accommodations for your perfect vacation trip? Share your ideas.


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Home Repairs: What would you fix?

Think about the place you live. If you could fix or change one thing about your place, what would it be, how would you change it, and why? Personally, my wife and I have wanted to fix up our kitchen for some time. The wall paper is a little old, and so is the floor, and the counter top and sink really need to be replaced. However, we are pretty frugal with our money, so I think we'll wait to take care of other expenses first.

So, what about you? What would you fix or change? Share your ideas.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Loans: Are they ideal in all situations?

Back when I started college 25 years ago, it was extremely difficult, if not impossible, for most students to get their own credit card or loan to pay for school expenses. Now, credit has become easier to come by. However, in what cases is taking out a loan a good idea and when is it a financial mistake? Buying a car, paying for college, buying a house, purchasing textbooks, getting a new iPod? When should people just save money and pay for an item in case?

Share your ideas and experiences.