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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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?

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.


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:


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:


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:


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?


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.


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:


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.


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?


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.


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.


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.


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.