Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Spoken English

Learn spoken English at the Effortless English Club.

Join our free 7 Rules to Excellent English course or use our lessons to speak English easily and fast.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

New Home For The Blog

OK... we finally have a new home for the blog & podcast-- on our main Effortless English Club website!

The new Blog address is:

New blog posts and new podcasts are on the right sidebar.

I add new ones almost every week :)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why So Quiet On The Blog & Podcast?

Why have I been so quiet?

Why so few blog and podcast posts recently?

Well, I'm currently working to move the blog (again!!)-- this time to the URL.

So I uploaded Wordpress and am trying to learn how to use it. Another system to learn-- ugh :(

But I think Wordpress will have advantages long term. Ill be able to do a lot more with the site... and be able to integrate the lesson pages, the blog posts, and the podcast.

Wordpress also makes it easy to create special "members-only" pages-- pages that require a password. So I may add more bonus material, such as bonus lessons, short videos, etc. for members-only.

Meanwhile, its a lot of work to learn the new system, and all the various plug-ins I need.

I'm also working to put many of our main web pages on Wordpress.

Hopefully, you'll like the result once I'm finished.

Oh.. and I haven't forgotten about the Transcript Contest.

I have started to read some of the entries-- a winner will be chosen soon :P

Really ;)

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Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Transcript

Here's the transcript for the contest, I'll choose a winner soon:


Hello, this is AJ and today we have a special podcast. Today we have a contest. This is a transcription contest so I’m going to speak about a subject and you need to listen and write down what I say and then you need to send me your transcripts. Send me the text from this podcast. Send it as a personal message to my forum. So send it to me in the Effortless English forums and send it as a personal message. So this is obviously for members. So here we go. I’m just going to talk for probably about five minutes spontaneously. You need to write down the text of what I say.

What I’m going to talk about is an idea that Tomoe and I have been talking about and that is we are going to start a physical Effortless English club or actually, it won’t be an Effortless English club, it will be an Effortless Language club. So, excuse me, the idea is that we’re going to get a little room or a little building, some physical space, and we’re going to teach some language classes using the Effortless English method or the Effortless method.

So I’m going to teach some English classes and she’s going to teach some Japanese classes. I’m also going to train some teachers, train some volunteers to teach them the method so that it doesn’t just depend on me. So it will be kind of be like a school but I don’t want to call it a school. I want it to be an interesting environment, a club in the sense of like a membership club or a social club or even a country club, but you know, not for rich people.

Dammit, excuse me, got a cough. So anyway, I’m not sure what the name exactly will be but something probably like the San Francisco Effortless Language Club and of course we’ll have language programs as I just said but we’re also going to have social programs and motivational programs.

I’ve often thought about having my own school and there are kind of some main points that I always think would be important for a physical school. One of course are the lessons or the teaching method and I already have that. That’s the Effortless English method. But there are other important parts and the second important part for a school is the atmosphere, the physical environment. I think schools are ugly, butt ugly in fact and I’ve always thought I wanted to create a space that had mojo, that had some special quality, an interesting atmosphere, an atmosphere that was kind of transcendent or transformational so that when you walk in to this school or club or room, instantly your feeling changes, you have some kind of shift in your emotional state.

Maybe you were tired, maybe you were bored, maybe you were stressed before, but just by walking into this physical space, you change and get some more energy and you feel a little bit better. All of us can think of certain spaces like that.

Sorry, I’ve had this cough for about two weeks, excuse me, and I can’t seem to get rid of it. So anyway we can all think of these sort of kind of spaces. For example, some temples or churches are like this. You walk in and there’s instantly some kind of magical quality. Even sometimes a coffee shop or a restaurant can have that quality. You walk in and just by going into this physical space because of the decorations, the colors, the sound and the way it’s painted, what’s hanging on the walls, all of that, even the smells, create a change in you. So that’s powerful and I think we should use it in education. I think we should make schools that are beautiful and inspiring. We don’t have much money so I’m going to have to do this on a small budget but that’s one of the requirements for me.

Another requirement is a motivational curriculum and this is something that all schools neglect or almost all schools neglect. You know, they have their teaching method which is usually bad. They have their physical space which is usually ugly and then they totally neglect the whole idea of motivation. But I think that motivation, emotion, is equally important to teaching method because the biggest problem with language students, any language, any foreign language, is that they quit, right, because they get bored or they get discouraged and they give up. So we have to support, help, and teach learners how to manage their emotions, how to build their motivation, how to build their enthusiasm, how to support and build and increase their passion and energy for learning the language. So I want that to be a component of our club, our school, our program as well, helping our members increase and support their emotion, enthusiasm, and passion for learning the language. Those will be the three main parts of our new San Francisco Effortless Language Club and I’ll be talking more about that as we develop it.

Alright, well get working. You’re going to have to listen to this many times and type or write this and I guess you’re going to have to type it because you have to send it to me in the forums as a personal message. I will check and the best transcript, the text that is the closest to what I actually said in my audio, you’ll be the winner and everybody will love you, yay! Ok, good luck. You have one week, you have seven days to finish your transcript and send it to me. Bye.

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Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

English Class

English Class. How do we make it Remarkable? How do we create an incredible English Class?

I'm asking myself that question everyday now, because we are starting a San Francisco Effortless Language Club-- An English conversation club.

But not only English. We'll also teach Japanese. Hopefully, we'll soon add Spanish and maybe other languages too.

But I don't want a normal English Class. Most English classes are boring and ineffective. Ours will be effective. I already know that because I'll be using the same Effortless English method I use in my mp3 English Lessons.

But I think that a great teaching method is only part of being remarkable. A truly great class needs more.

To be great, an English class needs to support students' emotions. It needs to inspire them, motivate them, energize them, and entertain them.

A great English class must also be a true community-- a place of friendship, where meaningful connections are made between learners, and between teachers and learners.

A great English class must be a beautiful place. The room must be decorated beautifully-- in a way that instantly and automatically makes learners feel both relaxed and alert.

Of course, all of this will evolve. We're starting small... with a tiny office space and a couple of students.

But our goal is big, and its absolutely not modest: Our goal is to have the Greatest English Class in the world!

PS: A great side-benefit of the SF Effortless English Class is that we'll have more mp3 English lessons. I will record myself teaching every class... and every few months we'll sell the new collection of lessons!

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Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

MP3 English Lessons Are More Relaxing

Relax. Really :) When you learn English,.. relax. Relaxation is very important. Bored and stressed students learn much more slowly. Relaxed and happy students learn FASTER. This is not just my opinion-- its what the research shows.

But are most English classes relaxing? No.
Most have the following basic goal: Speak Dammit!

That's right. Most schools are trying to force, coerce, trick, bribe, pressure, or beg their students to speak. There is a lot of pressure on students to speak.

Often, the teacher will directly ask questions to one student. Everyone looks at the student. The student's heart beats faster. Do they feel relaxed?

This is why I love mp3 English Classes. With an mp3 English Class, there is no pressure. MP3 English Lessons are no-stress.

With our Effortless English Lessons, you just relax and listen. If you want to, you can answer the easy questions in the Mini-Story lessons. But you don't have to.

Effortless English is a listen-first approach. The key to great speaking is great listening! You shouldn't force yourself to speak... and no one else should force you to speak.

When you listen enough and when you listen correctly to good lessons, you will eventually speak automatically. The words will come out of your mouth and you won't think, you won't feel stress.

Until that happens, don't worry about speaking. Don't force it. Just listen to our mp3 English Lessons. Learn to speak by LISTENING-- that is the Effortless English key to success!

You can do it.

Relax. Listen.



Enjoy your English learning.

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Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Transcribe Contest 1

You write the text for this podcast!

Send it to me as a Personal Message in the Forums!

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Friday, June 20, 2008

New mp3 English Squidoo Lens

Hi. I just created a Squidoo Lens for mp3 English speaking lessons.

What is a Squidoo lens?

Well, its a super-simple web page that's designed to summarize key information on a topic.

My Squidoo lens, for example, summarizes all the mp3 English speaking lessons that I recommend. I have links to all of our lessons, our email course, and other great sources for English listening mp3s.

By using all the mp3s that I recommend, you improve your English speaking very very fast.

Look at my Squidoo Lens, and link to it, at:

And then, why not create your own Squidoo lens. Make a list of YOUR favorite english speaking lessons, websites, podcasts, and books. Its super easy to make one!

Sign Up For My Free 7 Day Email Course. Enter Your Email Below, Now:

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The New English Speaking Forums Are Great!

Hi everyone! I'm happy to say that our new Forums are ready and going strong.

In fact, the new Forums are very active right now. Lots of new members are joining the discussions. Its great to meet so many interesting people from so many interesting places! Very exciting :)

The new Forums have a lot of great features. Members can now create detailed profiles, with pictures, avatars, Friends lists, web links, hobbies, and anything else they want to include. Also, members can rate each other--- so we all know who the super-helpful members are ;)

Another fun thing about the new Forums is we can now create polls and votes. At the moment, for example, we are voting about where to meet in Europe this year.

Sri is organizing an Effortless English Club gathering/party in Europe this Fall. She's definitely one of our Super-Members!

We plan to meet somewhere in Europe and get to know each other face to face. I'm excited to make new friends with our European members.

And I plan to invite Chris (the partner teacher on the Flow English Lessons) and Kristin (our customer service manager.. and my partner for the upcoming Movie Lessons) and maybe Kim (who will be helping me create some Effortless Healthcare Conversations). Of course, my wife Tomoe will also be coming.

It should be a great party!

In between partying, I also hope to discuss future plans and ideas with the members. I'd like to discuss the following topics:

* How to reach more people and get more members
* What kind of new mp3 English Lessons I should create
* How to make the new Forums even better
* How to encourage more communication and more friendship between members

All of this is very exciting. The Effortless English Club is growing into a very fun, interesting, and active international community.

I hope more of you will buy our English Speaking Lessons and join us in the Club. We hope you will join our community!

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Learn English With MP3 Players

MP3s are great. MP3s are a revolution in English learning. That's why all of our audio lessons use MP3 files.

With MP3 English lessons, you can take your English learning anywhere. You can learn English on the bus as you go to work and return home. You can learn English on the train. You can learn English while exercising or walking. You can learn English while shopping. You can learn English while sitting at a coffee shop.

Its so easy. With Effortless English, all you need to do is listen. Just listen. Yes, its great if you can give short answers to the questions in the mini-story lessons. But its not necessary. Its perfectly fine to just listen silently.

Remember, listening is the key to better English speaking. Effortless English is a Listen First method because Listen First methods are the most successful.

You don't need to feel stress when you learn English. You can relax and listen to your iPod or MP3 player.

You don't need textbooks. You don't need difficult and boring lessons. You can learn English quickly and easily, during your short free times every day.

So, go get an MP3 player and start learning English the easy way!

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Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Festival Season In SF

Its my favorite time of year in San Francisco-- festival season. Summer is the time when San Franciscans love to party!

The season kicked off with Bay To Breakers last month. Bay To Breakers started as a normal running race. It was started after the 1906 earthquake as a way to cheer up the city. Well, it has certainly evolved into a cheerful event.

Bay To Breakers still has a running race. Professional runners, followed by amateur runners, start the race.

However, most of the 65,000 people who participated this year were not runners. Rather, Bay To Breakers is now one huge moving party! People wear crazy costumes. They build and push huge rolling floats, bars, and other structures. Some people walk or run naked. Many people push or pull full kegs of beer, or coolers full of bottles.

The party starts at the Bay, on the east side of the city, and winds through the Hayes Street neighborhood, then through Golden Gate Park, to the ocean. Along the way, houses next to the route play loud music and host house parties. Only in San Francisco will 65,000 people walk 7 miles and party at the same time!

Another huge festival is the annual Gay Pride Festival. Of course, its probably the biggest in the world, as San Francisco has long been a center for Gay Rights. There is a huge Gay Pride parade... with tens of thousands of people. The San Francisco mayor, city council members, police, and fire department all join the parade. While gay rights may be controversial in other parts of America, in San Francisco there is no controversy.

This year promises to be especially big, because California just approved Gay marriages-- and the government of San Francisco strongly supports gay marriage. So we expect a lot of tourists this year-- coming to get married. Of course, there will be a lot of crazy costumes and parties-- which is a San Francisco tradition.

A more relaxed Festival is the Haight Street Festival. Haight Street, during the 1960s, was the center for hippies, radicals, and anti-war activities. Its a lot more mainstream now, but still a fun place. The Haight Street festival has live musicians, good food, and plenty of art for sale on the street. Its a fun time to stroll around the Haight area.

Another summer tradition in San Francisco is the Stern Grove Music Festival. The best part about Stern Grove is that its free! Every weekend, different musicians perform at Stern Grove Park. People bring blankets and food and have picnics while they listen to the music. This continues all summer. There are salsa bands, rock bands, classic orchestras, bluegrass bands, etc.... Something for everyone.

And these are just the big festivals. It seems that every weekend there is a street festival or music festival somewhere in the city. Its certainly hard to be bored in San Francisco!

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Success Mini-Album Coming In June

I get two big requests all the time:

* Please make Business English Lessons, and...
* Please record real conversations and make Conversation Lessons

Well, I'm working on a mini-album with a business theme. The topic of the mini-album is "Success". In these lessons, I introduce my system for financial success. I discuss how I started and created a successful business, and how you can succeed too-- in your career or in your business.

I decided to do a mini-album this time so that I could charge less-- hopefully encouraging a lot of people to try our system for the first time. If the Success Mini-Album is successful ;) I will create a full Business English album afterwards.

The Success Mini-Album of lessons will be available in June. I will email all my subscribers when it is ready.

See you next time,....

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Google Checkout

As many members know, we have had a lot of problems with PayPal-- the company that processes our credit card orders.

This has been very frustrating for us, and very frustrating for many of our members. We apologize for the problems some of you have had with PayPal.

We do have some good news. Yesterday, we switched to a different system. We are now trying Google Checkout.

In general, Google is a much better company with much better customer service. We have talked to them about our needs and concerns and we are hopeful that Google's Checkout system will be a big improvement.

We plan to test Google Checkout for two weeks, then decide whether to switch permanently.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

New Free Report-- English Trauma

Hi everyone!

I'm finally back in San Francisco. I have been super busy since I arrived, which is why I haven't added more podcast and blog posts recently.

However, I'm finally getting caught up with work and I will be doing regular podcasts and blog posts again soon :)

In fact, today I have a special treat: a new Free Report!

This report is called "English Trauma".

The report explains the reasons why so many students feel nervous when they speak English, and why so many students feel that English is difficult, boring, and stressful.

Send this report (or a link to the download page) to your friends who feel bad about English... maybe you will help them feel better :)

Download the new Free Report (English Trauma) at:

Also, the report has both text and audio, so you can listen to it and improve your English!

I hope you enjoy it and share it with others :)

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spiritual Authority 2

So as the process goes on, you find there is something awkward about all this, and this awkwardness can be expressed in many different ways. One of them is this. How on Earth are you to get at yourself to do something about yourself? Because it’s a project not unlike trying to pierce the point of the pen with the point of the same pen. In other words, if you feel that you could do with some sort of psychological or spiritual improvement, obviously you are the character who’s going to have to bring this about. But if you are the one who needs to be improved, how are you going to accomplish the improvement? You’re in the predicament of trying to lift yourself up off the floor by pulling at your own boot straps, and as you all know, that cannot be done. And if you attempt to do so, you are likely to land with a bang on your fanny and be lower down than you were in the first place.

So that problem continually arises and it has arisen historically in all the great religious traditions. We find it in Christianity, in the debate between St. Augustine and Pelagius. And Pelagius said that if God had given us a commandment to love him and to love our neighbors, he would not have done so unless we could obey it. St. Augustine countered and said, “Yes, but the commandment was not given in order for it to be obeyed, God never expected that it would be obeyed, because we were incapable of loving anyone but ourselves. The commandment was therefore given to convince us of our sinfulness from which we could be rescued only by divine grace, that is to say by the infusion of our souls with a power beyond them.” And that was more or less the doctrine of which the judge settled.

The puzzle has always been therefore, how to get grace, because grace is apparently freely offered to all, but some people seem to get it and some don’t. With some the medicine takes, and with others it doesn’t. Why? Well, apparently you have the power to resist grace, but if you do, you also have the power not to resist it. We would like therefore to know how not to resist it and to be open. And there you see we are back at exactly the same problem with which we began. It’s like saying you must relax damn you. Let go. Give in. And I know I ought give in. I know I ought to let go and abandoned my will to the divine will, but his son Paul put it so well, “The will is present with me. But how to do that which is good, I find hard, for the good that I would I do not and the evil that I would not, that I do.”

In other words, we all come down to a basis in ourselves which we will call, so first of all since we are in a Jewish Temple, the Yetzer HaRah, or the wayward spirit which God is supposed to have put into the soul of Adam or in my translation, our element of the irreducible rascality, where we're all basically scamps. And if you haven’t found that, you’re very unconscious. I know all sorts of people who are full of outward love, but of course, it always turns out that they need money. And when it comes to money, virtue flies out of the window. So we do have the element in ourselves. We know it very well. And the question is therefore once again, how can it be transformed.

But if the transformer is the one who’s inflicted, who transforms the transformer, it’s the old problem of who guards the guards, who polices the policeman, who governs the governor? And it seems perfectly insoluble for the reason alone that it is a vicious circle.

There’s a great deal of talk about two-selves. We love ourselves (called ego), the higher self called the spirit or the atman, and the duty of the atman seems to be to transform the wretched little ego. Well sometimes it does, but a lot of times it doesn’t. So we ask why doesn’t so and so's atman succeed in getting through? Is his ego too strong? If so, who will weaken it? Is his atman too weak? And if so, why for surely aren’t all atmans the same? The puzzle remains.

So let’s take a look at what we’re trying to accomplish. We’re trying to get better. We are out after that type of experience which we will call the positive, the good, the light, the living, and to get away from the negative, the evil, the dark, and the dead. Unfortunately, however, human experience, human consciousness knows by contrast-- we are equipped with a nervous system where the neurons either fire or don’t fire. All that we are aware of, is made up of an extremely complicated arrangement of yes and no. And by a recording on magnetic tape it impulses there are areas where there is a pulse and there are areas where there’s not a pulse. And by so doing, we can tape almost any form of human experience.

In other words, we can put colored television on the tape so that it is all reduced to a matter of yes and no. And you will understand of course, that that is the philosophy of the Chinese book of changes, the I-Ching, which represents all the situations of life in terms of combinations of the yang, or positive principle, and the yin, or the negative principle. Interestingly enough, a Latin translation of the I-Ching was read by the philosopher Leibniz and from this he invented binary arithmetic wherein all numbers can be represented by zero and one. And that is the number system used by the digital computers, which lies behind all our electronic ingenuity. This great extension of the number system which is based on the same principle.

But you see what we are trying to do. We are trying to have yang without yin. We are trying to arrange a life game in which there is winning without losing. Now how can you arrange such a state of affairs? A game in which everybody wins would end up as W.S. Gilbert put it, “When everybody’s somebody, then no one’s anybody.” If we are all equally happy, it is impossible to know that we are happy because a certain flatness comes over everything. If we lifted up all valleys and lowered all mountains, we should have the sort of thing they’re attempting to do with bulldozers in the Hollywood Hills to the destruction of the ecology, in ghastly fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy that every – every valley should be exhaled and every mountain laid low and the rough places made plain.

And I’m sorry to say it was Isaiah whom was tempted – was dedicated – who made that remark. But the same Isaiah also said something that at least Christians do not often quote, which is this following sentence, “I am the Lord and there is none others. I form the light and create the darkness. I make peace and I create evil. I the Lord, do all these things." In spite of which everybody is busy trying to be good not realizing that we would not recognize saints unless there were sinners, or saviors unless there were fools.

And there is no way out of that dilemma. That is why Buddhism represents existence in terms of a wheel called the Bhavacakra, the wheel of becoming, of birth and death. And on the top of that wheel, there are deva people whom we would call angels. And at the bottom of the wheel, there are Naraka or tormented people in purgatory. And you go round and round, now this way, now that way. It’s really like a squirrel cage where you’re running and running and running to get to the top and yet you have to run faster and faster to stay where you are. And that’s why there is always the sense of the more you succeed in any scale of either worldly or spiritual progress, the more you have the haunting feeling that you’re still in the same place.

So you think now, there must be some way out of that. Perhaps there’s something ambitious and proud and wrong in aspiring to be enlightened or compassionate. Perhaps there’s a great dose of spiritual pride in that I, by my efforts, could make myself into a Buddha or a saint. And therefore, perhaps the thing to do is to try to eliminate all desire, not only the desire for worldly success, but likewise the desire for spiritual success. For the Buddha proposed that desire was the root of suffering and therefore suggested to his arhats that if they eliminated desire or clinging, they might cease from suffering. But you must realize that the circle of teachings of the Buddha are not doctrines in the sense that the Jews and Christians and the Muslims have doctrines. They are proposals. They are the opening steps in a dialogue and if you go away and try not to desire in any way, you will very quickly discover that you are desiring not to desire.

And so we very rapidly come to a situation where you discover that with regard to your own transformation, everything you try to do about it doesn’t work. It may have some sort of temporary success to make you feel better, but again and again we come back to the same old gnawing problem and that is why people interested in spiritual things tend to move from one sect to another, from one teacher to another, always hoping that they will meet one who has the answer. Of course, then there are many teachers who say, indeed, there is nothing you can do and therefore you have to practice non-doing as the Taoist call it wu wei, non-striving.

But then you find in turn that it’s extraordinarily difficult not to strive. It’s like trying not to think of a green elephant and immediately you think of it. And so you come to the dismal conclusion that you can neither achieve what you want to achieve, that is to say liberation from the alternation of the opposites by striving, nor can you achieve it by not striving. And thereby you have learned that you cannot concentrate on purpose. It’s like trying to be unselfconscious on purpose or to be genuine on purpose or to love on purpose, when you say I ought to love, well that puts you in a double bind. And we say to the person, well he’s trained himself to be deliberately unselfconscious or he has very disciplined spontaneity. What we were looking for was somebody whose spontaneity was genuine so that the scaffolding didn’t show. And we believe that there are such people like children, but they don’t know how interesting they are. And when they find out, they become brats.

You have been listening to Alan Watts from the Spoken Word Library of the Electronic University. For copies of this and other Alan Watts programs, please go to on the World Wide Web or call us toll free at 1-800-W-O-WATTS. That’s or 1-800-W-O-W-A-T-T-S. The Watts website features free audio downloads, program lists, and information on Watts life and works. Once again, that’s or 1-800-W-O-WATTS.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Spiritual Authority 1

[This is part one of a lecture by Alan Watts]

I may take the liberty of beginning by saying something about myself and my role in talking to you about philosophical matters, because I wanted to be understood perfectly clearly that I’m not a guru. In other words, I talk about what we call these things and that comprises a multitude of interests concerning oriental philosophy, psychotherapy, religion, mysticism, et cetera. I talk about these things because I’m interested in them and because I enjoy talking about them. And every sensible person makes his living by doing what he enjoys doing, and that explains me.

Now in saying therefore that I am not a guru, that means also that I’m not trying to help you or improve you. I accept you as you are. I am not out there to save the world. Of course, when a stream, a bubbling spring flows out from the mountains it’s doing it’s thing. And if a thirsty traveler helps himself, well that’s fine. When a bird sings, it doesn’t sing for the advancement of music. But if somebody stops to listen and is delighted, that’s fine.

And so I talk in the same spirit. I don’t have a group of followers. I’m not trying to make disciples, because I work on the principle of a physician rather than a clergyman. A physician is always trying to get rid of his patients and send them away healthy to stand on their own feet, whereas a clergyman is trying to get them as members of a religious organization so that they will continue to pay their pledges, pay off the mortgage on an expensive building, and generally belong to the church, boost its membership, and thereby prove by sheer weight of numbers the veracity of it’s tenants. And my objective is really to get rid of you so that you won’t need me or any other teacher. I’m afraid some of my colleagues would not approve of that attitude, because it is widely believed and said that in order to advance in the spiritual life, whatever that is, it is essential that you have a guru, and that you accord to that guru perfect obedience.

And so I’m often asked the question, is it really necessary to have a guru? I can answer that only by saying, yes, it is necessary if you think so. In the same spirit as it is said that anybody who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. Of course, there is more in that saying than meets the ear, because if you really are sincerely concerned with yourself and are in such confusion that you feel you have to go to a psychiatrist to talk over your state, then of course you need to go. Likewise, if you are in need of someone to tell you what to do to practice meditation of to attain a state of liberation, nirvana, moksha, or whatever it may be called, and you feel that necessity very strongly, then you must have it, because as the poet William Blake said, “The fool who persists in his folly will become wise.”

However, I do want to point this out. What is the source of a guru's authority? He can tell you that he can speak from experience. That he has experienced states of consciousness which have made him profoundly blissful or understanding or compassionate or whatever it may be. And you have his word for it. You have the word of other people who likewise agree with him. But each one of them and you in turn, agree with him out of your own opinion and by your own judgment. And so it is you that are the source of the teacher’s authority. And that is true whether he speaks as an individual or whether he speaks as the representative of a tradition or a church. You may say that you take the Bible as your authority or the Roman Catholic Church. And the Roman Catholic following very often says that the individual mystical experience is not to be trusted because of it’s liability to be interpreted in a whimsical and purely personal way, and that it has to be guarded against excess by the substantial and objective traditions of the church. But those traditions are held to be substantial and objective, only because those who follow believe it to be so. They say so. And if you follow it, you say so.

So the question comes back to you. Why do you believe, why do you form this opinion? Upon what basis does all this rest? Well of course, almost everybody is looking for help, and thus when I was younger, so much younger than today, I never needed anybody’s help in any way. But there is this feeling of a certain helplessness of being alone and somewhat confused in an unpredictable wayward external world of happenings. And this world of happenings includes an enormous amount of suffering, tragedy, and we wonder why we’re here, how we got here, and in short, what to do about the capital “P” Problem of capital “L” Life, to which should be added death. Because it seems to be certain that we are all going to die and that death may be a painful process. That those we love are going to die and so what about it? Is there anyway in which we can become masters of the situation?

Well there are all sorts of ways of trying to escape from the human predicament of being a lonely, isolated consciousness in the midst of this enormous and wayward not-self. We can of course, try to beat the game on a material basis by becoming very wealthy or very powerful. We may resort to all kinds of technology to get rid of our sufferings, hunger, pain, sickness, and so forth. But it will be noticed that as we succeed in these enterprises, we’re not satisfied. In other words, if you feel at this moment that an increase in income would solve your problems, and you got an increase in income, this would give you a pleasant feeling for a few weeks.

But then, as you well know if that’s ever happened to you, the feeling wears off and you may stop worrying about paying your debts and start worrying about whether you will get sick. There is always something to worry about. And if you are very rich indeed, you’ve still got the anxiety about sickness and death and also anxieties about revolution and about whether the Internal Revenue Service will take it all away from you or catch you for cheating on your taxes, or put you in prison for no good reason. Now there is always this worry. And so you realize that the problem of life does not really consist in your external circumstances, because you worry whatever they are. The problem consists rather in what you call your mind.

Could you by some method control your mind so that you won’t worry, and how on Earth would you do that? Well, there are those people who tell you that the best answer is to think positive thoughts, to be peaceful, to breathe slowly, and hum gently, and get yourself into a peaceful state of mind by repeating affirmations such as all is light, all is God, all is good, or whatever it may be. But unfortunately, it doesn’t always work because you have a nagging suspicion in the back of your mind that you’re simply hypnotizing yourself and whistling in the dark. What the Germans call a "hinterdanker", which is the thought concealed way, way back behind your intellect, but has annoying persistence. What if?

And so you realize that this matter of controlling the mind is no superficial undertaking, because although you may be able to smooth the ruffles of your consciousness, there is beneath that a vast area of unconsciousness which erupts as unpredictably as events in the external world. And so you consider seriously the possibilities of psychoanalysis to go down and get into those depths and see if oil can be put on those troubled waters. And then of course, you get into the guru business. You have to go to someone against who’s mirror you can reflect those aspects of yourself of which you are not directly aware.

You’ve been listening to Alan Watts from the Spoken Word Library of the Electronic University. For copies of this and other Alan Watts programs, please go to on the World Wide Web or call us toll free at 1-800-WOWATTS. That’s A-L-A-N or 1-800-W-O-W-A-T-T-S. The Watts website features free audio downloads, program lists, and information on Watts life and works. Once again that’s Alan or 1-800-W-O-WATTS.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Fun In Osaka

The Osaka demonstration was great fun. I particularly enjoyed meeting some of our Effortless English members in Japan! My only regret is that I didn’t have time to talk to everyone longer. Next time, we’ll schedule more time to just sit and chat.

Since the Osaka demonstration went well, we’ll be doing more workshops and seminars in the future.

My plan is to develop two kinds of seminars-- one for English teachers, and one for English learners.

There is a huge need for teacher training- as most English teachers either have no training at all, or they are trained in grammar-analysis-practice methods (in other words, they are only trained to use textbooks).

Likewise, I believe there is a need for student training. Most students don’t know about the research. They don’t know there are other ways to learn English. They only know what they have experienced in school-- usually boring, grammar-based, textbook teaching. My goal for student seminars is to teach students a new way to learn—independently.

The Osaka seminar was my first one. It went well, but I felt it was a bit rough and needs improvement. When I get back to San Francisco, I will start doing regular seminars in the city. In this way, I can practice and improve both versions of the seminar. Once I’m satisfied with the quality, we will go “on tour” and do seminars in different cities around the world.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Conversation With My Sister Pt. 2

[In part 2 of my conversation with my sister, we talk about Todd's motorcycle accident}

Tiffany: So what else have you been up to? Anything much?

A.J.: No, not a lot. Let’s see – doing a little bit of work, you know, and let’s see, went out to Todd’s yesterday, rode my motorcycle out there. I’ve been riding my motorcycle a little bit.

Tiffany: You say you’ve been practicing on that?

A.J.: Yep, yep. And oh, I bought my ticket to Thailand.

Tiffany: Oh, so when you leaving?

A.J.: So I’ll be leaving at the end of this month, and then we’re gonna be staying there for – it looks like we’re gonna be traveling a couple months.

Tiffany: Okay.

A.J.: And then we’re gonna – at the end of the trip we’re gonna do a couple weeks in Japan, which will be fun.

Tiffany: Oh, okay. So when do you actually come home?

A.J.: Then we’ll be coming home in May sometime, I think.

Tiffany: In May; oh, okay. So then are you going anywhere between May and the end of the year, or just gonna be in San Francisco?

A.J.: We’ve talked about doing a little motorcycle tour of California, maybe.

Tiffany: Oh, okay.

A.J.: During the summer.

Tiffany: Now, Grandma said that someone – Mom told her one of your friends got in a motorcycle wreck?

A.J.: Yeah, Todd. Tiffany: Oh, man!

A.J.: He didn’t even leave the driveway. He had this thing, this little plastic piece on the accelerator that’s supposed to like be able to rest his hand, because his wrist hurts him, I guess.

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: Well, Wat had told him, you know, “Don’t use that thing. It’s dangerous.”

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: Well, he put it on there anyway, and sure enough, he started it up and he’s just, you know, in the driveway.

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: And he kind of hit the accelerator, and it – and then it got away from him, and he let go, but that plastic piece, you know, hit his, you know, kind of bumped against his wrist, and it kept the accelerator open.

Tiffany: Oh.

A.J.: So it ended up slamming his bike against a parked car with his leg in between-

Tiffany: Oh.

A.J.: And then falling down, and then it cut this huge massive gash in his calf.

Tiffany: Oh, God!

A.J.: You could see the muscle hanging out.

Tiffany: Oh, man! Could they even stitch it?

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. I took him to the ER, and they – it was, you know, of course an all-day ordeal, but they stitched him up.

Tiffany: Oh, yeah. So it was preventable if you don’t have that little thing on there.

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think if he hadn’t had that thing on there he would’ve been okay.

Tiffany: Okay. I guess he should’ve listened to Wat.

A.J.: Yep. That’s what he said afterwards; he’s like, “Damn it, Wat told me not to use that thing. He said it was dangerous.” So –

Tiffany: Yeah.

A.J.: I guess we should listen to Wat. He’s the experienced rider in our group.

Tiffany: Oh, is he?

A.J.: Yeah.

Tiffany: Man, that sucks.

A.J.: Yeah, it was – oh, it was gruesome. When I saw it, at first my eyes were like –

Tiffany: Oh, man!

A.J.: Wide open. Because he hopped up really quick, and then he, he sort of hopped back into his house, and I didn’t see any blood or anything.

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: So I thought he – you know, I thought he was banged up, but I thought basically he was fine.

Tiffany: Well, he’s lucky that didn’t hit an artery or something.

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. He’s very lucky. Oh – it was –

Tiffany: Plus he didn’t hit it in a dangerous spot.

A.J.: Yep.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Conversation With My Sister Pt. 1

In this conversation, my sister and I talk about the Super Bowl (the American Football Championship game). At the end we talk about Payton Manning (a famous player) and his brother Eli (whose team won the Super Bowl).

Tiffany: Hello.

A.J.: Hey.

Tiffany: Oh, hi! What are you doing?

A.J.: Oh, not much.

Tiffany: Oh, sorry I missed you. We – funny thing is we went to see a friend of ours, bought a house out in the country. We were just going on a little drive to see it. Well, the roads you’re on are all windy back there, and we got lost and ended up down in Brown County.

A.J.: Oh, no!

Tiffany: So that’s why we weren’t home till late.

A.J.: Oh, no – you got lost, huh?

Tiffany: Yeah, so at least little Missy got a nice nap out of it, so.

A.J.: Oh, that’s good. So she did okay in the car?

Tiffany: Oh, yeah; oh, yeah. So how are you doing?

A.J.: I’m fine. Yep, doing fine. How’s is it – what’d you think of the game?

Tiffany: Oh, man! I couldn’t believe it. I never in a million trillion years thought the Giants would beat them.

A.J.: No, I didn’t think –

Tiffany: Nope.

A.J.: I didn’t think the Patriots would lose either. I was pretty – pretty shocked.

Tiffany: I wonder what happened? I mean, they have been on a roll.

A.J.: Yeah, and they looked pretty flat, you know?

Tiffany: Yeah, they did.

A.J.: I have no idea what happened. It’s – huh.

Tiffany: Really weird. I bet those Dolphins are celebrating once again.

A.J.: Yeah, really.

Tiffany: Because I thought for sure they would win. Well, everybody did.

A.J.: Yeah, I know, I know. I don’t know if they just got, you know, complacent, you know?

Tiffany: That’s what I’m wondering, if they got kind of cocky like, “Oh, this isn’t gonna be a big deal,” and the Giants were really hungry for it, and –

A.J.: Yeah, yeah. I guess so. I don’t know. It was interesting, though, so yep, the Dolphins are still the only team ever to have a perfect season including the Superbowl.

Tiffany: Are they – so no one before them has even done it?

A.J.: No. Now, I don’t know about like pre-Superbowl times, you know – they –

Tiffany: Oh, okay.

A.J.: When they used to have just like some sort of a championship, but at least in the modern time, since they started the Superbowl, the Dolphins are the only team to have a perfect season including, you know, winning the Superbowl.

Tiffany: That’s pretty amazing. Well, and the thing is to be so close.

A.J.: Oh, and it’s heart-breaking!

Tiffany: To it; I mean, you know it’s gonna be almost impossible to do that again.

A.J.: I know; to make it all the way to the Superbowl without losing, and then to lose the last game. Oh, my God!

Tiffany: Yeah. I mean, those guys just – because you know they wanted that record.

A.J.: Oh, yeah!

Tiffany: They’d been playing all their starters all the time.

A.J.: That’s gotta be crushing.

Tiffany: Oh, yeah!

A.J.: I wonder how they’ll bounce back from that next season?

Tiffany: I don’t know. It should be interesting to see.

A.J.: Yeah, yeah.

Tiffany: But –

A.J.: I’d almost rather – you know, I’d almost just rather lose one beforehand, you know.

Tiffany: Oh, I know, than to make it all that way and then to lose. That seems almost crueler.

A.J.: I think sometimes, you know, at least you always hear in the interviews that, you know, teams that maybe lose one game or something, that it sort of toughens them up a little bit, you know? And so it’s sort of like it’s a reality check, and they’ve gotta – so maybe, you know, that’s what happened. They just never got that –

Tiffany: Uh huh.

A.J.: And maybe it was too hard to start believing all the hype that they were so incredible.

Tiffany: Right, and I’m wondering –

A.J.: So now, you guys’ little bro – I mean, Payton’s brother has got a ring.

Tiffany: I know – good for him! Poor guy, they crucified him for – he had so much to live up to.

A.J.: Yeah, well, he’s in New York, you know. I think it’s a lot rougher than Indiana to be a –

Tiffany: They’re pretty rough there.

A.J.: You know, a sports star there.

Tiffany: Are you there?

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Chat About Vegetarianism

Interviewer (AJ): I just did a podcast about vegetarianism. On the forums there’s this super, super cool learner/member named Sri. She’s actually Indonesian.

Interviewee (Kristin): Um hm.

Interviewer: Anyway, she comments on my blog a lot, she’s really active on the forum, she helps other people out and answers their questions. She’s like the über-super-learner, you know?

Interviewee: Um hm.

Interviewer: It’s like I wish I could be like her with Spanish. I’d be fluent in a month. But anyway, she’s kind of – she’s not vegetarian, but it sounds like she eats sort of quasi-vegetarian.

Interviewee: Um hm.

Interviewer: Like she eats lots of vegetables, eats really well. Well, she started, like scheduled this whole Skype discussion with other members on the topic of vegetarianism.

Interviewee: Hm.

Interviewer: Yeah, it was kind of cool, and so that inspired me to, you know, maybe write a little, do a little podcast about being vegetarian. Maybe I should – I can interview you some time about – because I talked about my story, why I’m vegetarian, but yeah, maybe we could chat about that sometime and record it.

Interviewee: Okay.

Interviewer: Would you be interested in doing that? When did you become vegetarian?

Interviewee: Well, you know, honestly not strictly until some point in Thailand, because I was still occasionally eating fish.

Interviewer: So you were kind of mostly vegetarian, though, before that, right?

Interviewee: Well, yeah. Everything was cut out except for occasional fish when I was 22.

Interviewer: Wow. That’s quite a while.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Interviewer: Because I don’t remember you eating that much fish.

Interviewee: I did in the beginning, and it was more of a rebellious thing because I felt like Todd is the one that pressured me into quitting eating meat, and I wasn’t comfortable with that. And I was like, “Well, you know, I’ve already been thinking of moving along these lines.”

Interviewer: Yeah, but you don’t want somebody –

Interviewee: I was hesitant about giving up fish, and so therefore I’m not going to.

Interviewer: Well, of course you don’t want somebody pushing you. That’s not good.

Interviewee: Right. So in the beginning it was more, and it generally became less and less. But I think I still – you know, I honestly don’t remember ever eating it in Thailand, but I must have because it seemed like there was this turning point when I – when Wat and I went with Gene and Brandy down to Phuket and went out on the boat when they went deep sea fishing. And one of them reeled in this fish, and it’s a big fish and it’s flopping around, and somebody picked up this mallet type thing and hit it, and just knocked it, killed it, instantly. And when I saw that, I was like, “I’m done. I’m not even eating fish any more.”

Interviewer: Yeah, you sort of realize, “Oh, they are alive and sentient.”

Interviewee: Right. Yeah.

Interviewer: You know, they’re aware and they suffer.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Interviewer: Yeah. I kind of get that a little bit when I scuba dive. You realize how like fascinating and intelligent they are.

Interviewee: Um hm.

Interviewer: And it’s – it’s like, “You know, they’re not plants.”

Interviewee: I started realizing, I think, when I had my 75-gallon tank, actually.

Interviewer: Um hm, um hm. I think that’s always been for me, that, you know, the main thing. It’s like if they’re sentient beings with some sort of nervous system that’s capable of suffering, it’s like, yeah, don’t wanna cause that.

Interviewee: Yeah.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Osaka Demonstration: April 5th, 6-9:30pm

Announcing The First Effortless English Demonstration!

On April 5th, we will demonstrate the Effortless English System in Osaka, Japan.

This is a Free demonstration, open to anyone. During the demonstration, I will teach a sample Mini-Story Lesson. I will also teach a sample Movie Technique Lesson.

We will explain the Effortless English System, and will give suggestions about how to study independently using our methods.

Location: Osaka Municipal Lifelong Learning Center (Osaka Shiritsu Sougo Shogai Gakushu Center)
1-2-2-500 Kitaku (Umeda) Osaka, Japan
Room: Number 3 (5th Floor)
Time: 18:00 - 21:30

To register for this demonstration (and to get information about future Osaka events), please enter your email below:

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Vegetarian Story

Hello, and welcome to Effortless English. Today is another spontaneous podcast, spontaneous English. And of course spontaneous means “without a plan,” and it’s the most natural kind of speaking. It’s speaking without reading, without planning what you’re going to say. And it’s the way we speak when we have normal conversations, of course. So today I was trying to think about, you know, what should I talk about? I need a general topic at least, and I was reading our Effortless English forums and noticed they had some Skype discussions about being a vegetarian.

Sri, one of our really fantastic members, who – she’s got so much energy and enthusiasm and motivation – she started a Skype discussion on the topic of vegetarianism. And I thought, “Hey, hey! Why don’t I talk about that?” It’s a good podcast topic because, you know, some members know that I’m a vegetarian, and I sometimes get comments or emails asking me about when did I become a vegetarian, why, how? So I’ll quickly talk about that. How and why did I become a vegetarian?

Well, I became a vegetarian about 15 years ago, and it actually was not easy for me because before I became a vegetarian I used to eat lots and lots of meat. I was a carnivore. In fact, my favorite restaurant was McDonald’s, and I would go to McDonald’s all the time, many times every week. In fact, the McDonald’s employees knew my order. I would walk in and they already knew what I was going to order. They would just start typing it. But then, you know, something changed. A few things changed.

The first thing that changed was I got a job as a security guard. This was after I graduated from university with my first degree – my first of three degrees – my undergraduate degree, which is in journalism. And I graduated and could not find any good jobs, so I had a lot of bad jobs, and one of those bad jobs was a security guard at a chicken plant, this big chicken processing plant. And what that means, in fact, is it’s a place where they kill the chickens. They bring in these big trucks with all these chickens, and then they put them into the factory and the workers grab them and put them on these machines, and the machines kill them, and the blood goes everywhere, and it’s truly horrible.

And I walked around this place as part of my job; I worked on the weekends as a night guard. Well, I only lasted two weekends. After two weekends, I had enough. It was too much; oh, it was horrible. I hated it, and I saw how the chickens suffered, you know. I could see they were in pain. They’re screeching and screaming, and it was horrible, and that made a strong impression on me. And I thought, “Hm, maybe I don’t want to eat meat.” So I started trying to eat less meat.

Also I wanted to become a little more healthy, because, you know, I was generally healthy but I had started running. Running, you know, first 3 miles, 4 miles, 5-6 miles, but running was very tough for me, very hard. I got very tired, breathing very heavy when I ran, and I didn’t enjoy it so much. So I had read that actually a vegetarian diet was really healthy, and that a lot of runners have a vegetarian diet, and tri-athletes have a vegetarian diet, or an almost vegetarian diet.

So I started trying to reduce the amount of meat that I ate, but I wasn’t a vegetarian until, then, I got a book called Diet for a New America. A friend recommended it to me, a friend who was a vegetarian, in fact, and the book is by John Robbins. It’s an excellent book, and it’s called, again, Diet for a New America. So I read this book, and it’s a really good book. It’s a book that it’s not trying to convince people, you know, “You must be a vegetarian!” But it – it just reviews a lot of the scientific research behind vegetarian diets.

It also talks a lot about the food industry, especially the meat industry, which is just horrible; the factory farming industry, terrible, terrible. And it talks about the environmental impact of raising animals to eat them, to kill them and eat them. And the environmental impact of going vegetarian. So I read this book and it was a very powerful book. I was convinced. I thought, “You know, this is – it all makes sense, and I have already seen, you know, how the animals suffer.” And I knew that cows suffer just as much or more, and pigs, really horrible, and I don’t want to, you know, contribute to suffering for any being, any sentient being, any being with a mind and emotions and feelings. I don’t want them to suffer because of me because I wanna eat something that I like.

So for all these reasons I started changing and really getting serious that I wanted to become vegetarian. And then the final straw, the final convincer for me, was I read Mahatma Gandhi’s autobiography, and he talks a lot about his experiences with being a vegetarian. Of course, Mahatma Gandhi is just one of the great human beings of the modern era, maybe ever. A very deeply spiritual and ethical person, and that also affected me. And so, finally, I became a vegetarian. But after one month, I quit, because it was too difficult because I really loved meat and I had this strong habit of eating meat, and it was hard to change. So I started eating meat again.

But then I started thinking that this is a principle that’s important to me; I don’t want animals to suffer. I want to be healthier. So then I became vegetarian again. And then I quit again. And I did this back and forth, back and forth, for almost a year, until finally I completely became a vegetarian, and that was about 15 years ago, and I’ve been a vegetarian ever since. Something very interesting happened when I became a vegetarian related to my running. I noticed during that year when I was going back and forth, I noticed that when I was eating vegetarian I felt great when I was running, and when I would race in these races, like a 5K race, for example, I got faster times. But when I was eating meat, I felt more tired, it was more difficult to run, and my times in the races were slower.

So for me this was a bit of empirical kind of quantitative scientific evidence that hey, the vegetarian diet is healthier. I’m in better shape, and I can run faster and longer, and I feel better, when I’m vegetarian. And that was probably one of the things that was the kind of big thing that convinced me that you know what? This is the way to go; this is what I need to do. And as I said, that was 15 years ago, and I still have a lot of energy and I still feel good, and I’m still very happy to be a vegetarian. No meat for 15 years, and I feel great. So anyway, that’s my story of becoming a vegetarian.

If you’re interested in being a vegetarian – you know, I don’t try to convince people. I don’t try to tell people, “You should be vegetarian!” But if someone is interested, if they ask me, then I do recommend John Robbins’ book Diet for a New America. It’s a really great introduction to being a vegetarian. Okay then. So that’s my story of being a vegetarian. See you next time. Bye bye.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Slang Podcast

Hi everyone. I'm happy to say that we are getting organized at Effortless English! As many of you know, my podcast and blog have had a wide variety of topics. I have talked about my personal life, about my teaching research and theories, about our lessons, about our company, and about our travels.

For a while, I was also doing podcasts about idioms and slang. This was quite popular, but I haven't done them in a while.

Well, Chris and I have had a lot of long conversations recently, and we decided that he would do a podcast that focuses on idioms and slang. Right now, he's doing a new slang podcast every week.

He just started, but already he has one show about sports slang and one about food slang. He'll continue to do these every week.

Meanwhile, my podcast will remain the "official" podcast of Effortless English. In other words, I'll focus on our teaching methods, research, and other related topics. I'll also continue to provide lots of spontaneous English for our members-- both monologues by me and also recorded spontaneous conversations.

If you are interested in learning slang, check out Chris' new podcast at:


Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Advance English Academy

Hi everyone. As readers of my newsletter already know, a friend of mine has opened a new English school in San Francisco. Its called Advance English Academy.

The school has a central location-- downtown near Market street, near the main streetcar and bus lines. In fact, its not very far from my apartment.

Zachary is the owner and director of the new school. I worked with Zac when I was teaching here in San Francisco.

The school has several good points:

1. Its cheap. San Francisco can be an expensive place, but this school has very reasonable tuition-- only $250 a month. That's 16 hours of class per week for only $250 a month! I don't know of any other school with such affordable tuition.

2. They sponsor student visas. Zac's school will help you go through the immigration process and get into the United States (and stay here :)

3. Help with Accommodation. The school can arrange a homestay for you, or can help you find an apartment.

4. They are in San Francisco. As everyone knows, San Francisco is the best city in America ;)

If you are interested in studying English in the United States, I recommend Zac's new school. San Francisco is a great place to study and live. In my opinion, its the most interesting city in the U.S. (which is why I live here).

For more information, see the Advance English Academy website! And if you come to SF, email me-- I'd love to meet you :)

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Todd's Motorcycle Accident

Hello, this is AJ. Welcome to the effortless English podcast. Now, today is going to be a spontaneous podcast, another spontaneous podcast. That means I will talk not read at all. I will just be talking and talking then I’ll send this to a company and they will transcribe it so you can read the text, but I think this is a more natural way for you to practice English. You can listen to my podcast and read my blog and hear a lot more kind of spontaneous English, which of course is exactly the kind of English we use in normal conversations.

In normal conversations we don’t write down what we are going to say first and then read it. We just talk. We all do this in our native languages. And the thing is that this spontaneous speech, spontaneous language is quite different than the language we find in text books. It’s the same in Spanish. I struggle with Spanish because most of the Spanish I find unfortunately is not spontaneous; it’s not really actual conversational Spanish. Most of the Spanish I can find is either from books, audio books for example, or audio articles, so someone has written an article first, then they’re reading it. So I do get to hear the Spanish and certainly it helps me, but it’s not really a natural conversational style of Spanish. So when I go to Mexico or Honduras or Guatemala, I am overwhelmed and I can’t really quite understand what people are saying.

Another problem I have is maybe it’s just me, maybe just my personal problem, but I get bored with the more formal kinds of Spanish, these articles I’ve listened to, for example, from a magazine. And in the beginning, this audio magazine, I liked it. It was interesting enough, it was okay, but I’ve gotten bored with it. I’m kind of sick of it. I want something new and different. I’d like something a little more funny, something more like our mini stories in fact. But so far I can’t find any recorded mini stories in Spanish. They’re hard to find. Maybe they don’t exist. As far as I know, they don’t exist, and that’s unfortunate because I would like to use the effortless system with Spanish. But oh well.

So, my... best thing I can do then is just try to help you all, my students. I’ll try to help you at least learn spontaneous, real, fluent, conversational English both with my lessons, mini story lessons especially, and also with this podcast and the blog text. So today, what am I going to talk about? Today I want to talk about motorcycles, in fact I want to talk about a scary experience I had yesterday, a pretty terrible experience. Just this week, the beginning of this week, my friend and I, Todd is my friend's name, we bought motorcycles. I’ve been wanting a motorcycle for a long time. When I lived in Thailand in Bangkok I actually had a motorcycle and I drove around Bangkok. I learned to ride the motorcycle in Bangkok, which is kind of a crazy place to learn because Bangkok has just horrible traffic and anyone who’s been to Bangkok knows what I’m talking about. Well anyway, I moved here to San Francisco. I just walk. I don’t have a car here. I just walk everywhere, but I decided I’d like to get a motorcycle again. I really enjoyed it when I was in Thailand, and it would be helpful and useful here in the city. I don’t want a car. It’s too hard to park the car and too expensive.

So anyway, I finally decided to get a Suzuki SV650 which is a kind of a middle sized motorcycle in the United States. Well my friend Todd, he drove me to go get a motorcycle, he went with me, and he decided to also get a motorcycle, in fact he also got a Suzuki SV650. Now, the problem is Todd and I are quite different in personality. When he bought a motorcycle, actually, I was a little worried because Todd’s personality and his driving style are not so safe, in fact we kind of joke, his friends, my friends, all of us, we kind of joke about Todd’s driving. When he drives his car he’s always stopping suddenly and sometimes he misses a red light and he’ll be not paying attention. He doesn’t see things. So he’s kind of a dangerous driver to be honest. When you’re in a car, that’s not good, but you are protected in a car. But on a motorcycle it’s very, very dangerous because you have no protection at all. Motorcycles are dangerous for everybody. They make me nervous. I’m a little nervous every time I ride on my motorcycle.

But anyway, yesterday, this is the story, the sort of scary bad story. Yesterday Todd and I were going to go for a ride on our motorcycles. It was a sunny day, finally. In San Francisco we’ve had a lot of terrible rain lately and today again rainy and cloudy. So I’ve been kind of depressed. It’s horrible. I hate it. So anyway we finally had a nice sunny day yesterday. I drove out on my motorcycle, rode out to Todd’s house and he lives in the Sunset which is kind of the western section of San Francisco kind of near the ocean. And I went there and we got ready to get on our motorcycles and I got on my motorcycle, had my helmet on, was getting ready to start my motorcycle, and Todd was on his. Well suddenly I hear this vroom. I heard this loud sound and I look over and Todd is on the ground lying down and his motorcycle is down. This is just in the driveway, so we’re not even on the street yet. Todd jumped up very quickly and it looked like he was okay. He was kind of hopping on one leg, he hurt one leg a little, but he hopped on his one leg and he ran upstairs in to his house.

Now another friend of mine named Wat, Thai by the way, he was there and Wat and I lifted his motorcycle, Todd’s motorcycle and got it back up again and I thought “Okay, everything is fine.” His motorcycle was damaged a little bit but I thought “No problem.” Well suddenly I hear Todd yelling “AJ! AJ!” So I run up in to his house. It was terrible. I look and he shows me his leg and the back of his leg, the back of his right leg on his calf, the calf muscle which is the lower leg, there is a huge deep cut, not even a cut really, we would say a gash. A gash is like a really big cut. So it’s like it was cut and then pulled apart. I could see a piece of his muscle hanging out and there was blood everywhere. It was horrible. It looked terrible. So my eyes became really big and I went “Oh my God.” So we had to run. I had to kind of help carry him, got him in to his car and drove very fast to the emergency room at the nearest hospital, and he was in a lot of pain, very, very painful. It was really terrible, deep and wide open really terrible cut. I don’t even want to say cut. It was a big wound, a large wound as big as my hand. That’s how big it was. So it was maybe six or seven inches long, and it was open maybe three inches, four inches open, and like I said it cut deep all the way in to the muscle.

So anyway we got to the ER and they took him in immediately, but he had to wait a long time. The nurse looked at it first and he had to wait a long time and then finally they gave him some pain medication, they gave him some morphine and he started to calm down and feel a little better. Slowly one person would come in, a nurse would come in and look at it, then the doctor finally came and eventually they gave him more pain medication. They also gave him shots; they gave him little shots around the wound in order to numb it. They had to numb his leg. After they numbed his leg so he couldn’t feel his leg at all, a woman came in and had to wash out the wound with water, saline. Then finally the doctor, actually a doctor and a student came in and they sewed up the wound, they stitched it up. All of this took, man, like six hours.

This is once again another example of the terrible healthcare in the United States. It took six hours for this. It’s ridiculous. I have worked in an emergency room actually and in the past I was a social worker in an emergency room. They’re all similar. You have to wait a long time. The other problem, this is going to cost Todd a lot of money, which is terrible to have to think about money and have to worry about money when you’re hurt like this. I’m guessing, I don’t know exactly, but I’m guessing it will cost him $8,000.00, yesterday’s trip to the emergency room, which is absolutely horrible. If you want to learn more about the horrible American healthcare system, rent Michael Moore’s movie, Sicko. Watch Sicko, Michael Moore’s movie. It’s a pretty funny example of our terrible healthcare system. So anyway after about six hours finally they sewed up his leg and then, now he has this boot, this big boot thing he has to wear over his lower right leg and he can’t walk on it at all. So he has to use crutches when he walks. So we got him home last night.

I talked to him today. He’s doing okay. He’s taking pain medication of course and he’s also taking antibiotics. The doctor said his skin will probably heal in a couple weeks. He’ll have a scar of course, but the muscle, the deeper wound, probably won’t heal until two months, probably two months until he can walk normally again. So yesterday was a pretty stressful, difficult day for me, especially Todd. For me too. Coming home then last night from Todd’s house, I was really nervous on my motorcycle because Todd’s crash was not so terrible. Really, he was going very slowly. It was in his driveway so he just started his motorcycle and he lost control. He put on the gas and it zoomed suddenly and he lost control and hit a parked car. So it hit his leg against the car, that’s why it cut his leg open. Then he fell down. It happened very quickly and the speed was not fast, and still he got a very big injury.

It made me really nervous thinking how dangerous motorcycles can be and how terrible an injury can be if you were going faster, or if you were hit by a car. In the emergency room one of the nurses told us a story about a woman who had been in a motorcycle accident. She was just driving her motorcycle and somebody opened a car door suddenly. The car was parked on the side of the road and they suddenly opened the door and the door hit her knee and just tore open her knee and, ugh. Anyway, another scary motorcycle story. So now I’m quite nervous about riding my motorcycle, so I’m ordering more protective clothing and equipment. I already have a very good helmet and I have a pretty good jacket. The jacket is very nice and a tough jacket. It’s a motorcycle jacket and it had pads in the elbows and the shoulders and the back. So if you fall down it protects you.

But now I need to get some protection for my lower body so I’m going to order some motorcycle pants that also have pads in the hip, on the knee, the shin. I also have already, I just bought, it just arrived today, these Kevlar pant liners. Pant liners mean it’s kind of like long underwear. You wear them underneath your jeans for example. And Kevlar is bullet-proof material. It’s this very strong material. Supposedly if you fall down on the motorcycle and you slide normally your skin will be torn off, but supposedly these Kevlar pant liners will protect your skin.

So anyway, that’s my kind of scary story for today for the podcast. Spontaneous English about kind of a bad event that happened yesterday. I’ll let you know more about my motorcycle and hopefully I will be riding safely for a long time and will not need all this protective equipment. But anyway, I’m going to get it regardless if I need it or not. I’m going to get it because I’m quite nervous now. Alright, that’s it for today’s podcast. I’ve got a little bit of medical vocabulary in there. Just like with my lessons when you get these podcasts, listen to the podcast several times if you want to learn it deeply and of course you can use my blog to read the text and use a dictionary if you don’t know some of the words. Alright. I’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Conversation: AJ & Chris, Part 2

AJ: No problem.

Chris: Yeah, go.

AJ: Yeah looking forward to it.

Chris: Awesome man, well I think it’s been I don't know how many years has it been since we got together?

AJ: Good God –

Chris: Three or four huh?

AJ: Yeah. Yeah I guess it woulda been before I went to Thailand right? I think just before I went to Thailand –

Chris: I think so yeah.

AJ: Didn’t I – I drove up and yeah I think I – yeah so its been about three and a half years, almost four? Yeah. It’s been awhile.

Chris: About freekin time.

AJ: Yeah. Yeah and you know we’ll get this going and hopefully it won’t be a problem any more.


AJ: You can – but we’ll both just be nomads.

Chris: Yeah man, sounds great. Well I appreciate it, it’s gonna be great to see you and I’m glad you’re carvin out some time to come hang out with me, it’s gonna make a big difference me getting these things done too so –

AJ: Yeah, yeah, I – you know I think it is the best way to do it if you can – especially you have someone to kinda – you keep each other on task but just try to do it in an intense burst you know really work hard for a couple weeks and – I’m hoping we can really, yeah get the whole thing done. You know at least the bulk of the recording done and –

Chris: Yeah I mean let’s shoot – I mean let’s definitely shoot for that then and you know we can sit down and try to even sort of figure out to sort of meet you know what goals you think we need to meet for a complete lesson set, you know how many we need to get done by here and here –

AJ: Yeah, yeah.

Chris: And I think I was sort of you know I’ve sorta been thinking geez I wish I could have carved out a little more time for your visit but at least having those 3-day weekends I think –

AJ: Yeah, yeah, we could get a lot of work on those days, that’s true.

Chris: Yeah, I think even if we’re not making the kind of progress we hope to during the week or maybe not quite making it then at least we’ll have you know, have nice 3-day sort of periods to do some of that so –

AJ: Yeah, yeah and you’ve got Audacity, right, on your computer?

Chris: I do. I’ve got that on my – I actually put it on both my work laptop as well as my desktop.

AJ: Okay good and you've got a good mic? Good microphone?

Chris: I don’t – I wouldn’t necessarily say that.

AJ: Okay, okay. Well I’m gonna bring mine with me.

Chris: Okay. I think you said you were and I just use the headset that I had to record that other and you probably noticed there was a little hiss in it.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, right. Yeah we can use mine, I’ll bring it. It’s really good and – cause I – in the beginning I used to use a headset and yeah, it’s actually quite a big difference. So yeah, that’s cool.

Chris: And I can get, you know I'll certainly get one at some point if it makes you know, it probably will make sense for me you know to get one at some point too so – I think you said you’ve got one you really like so –

AJ: Yeah, yeah it’s really nice, I know – do you have a – is there an Apple store in Chapel Hill?

Chris: There is. Well it’s not right in Chapel Hill but it’s just – it’s you know it’s like 12 minutes down the road.

AJ: Oh okay.

Chris: Sort of on the – sort of right into Durham.

AJ: Oh okay, cool, cool, great, there’s – yeah that’s where I got mine and it’s really nice. It just plugs in the USB.

Chris: So maybe they might even have them there huh?

AJ: Oh yeah, yeah, cause in fact I just bought one for Kristin to use so – and yeah, I’ll buy it, don’t worry about that. So maybe we can go by there and then – yeah we have two microphones, maybe at some point we can be in different rooms you know cranking out –

Chris: Yep.

AJ: Cranking out lessons at the same time.

Chris: Yeah that’s – that and that’s entirely possible and you know we’ll set up – I think you remember, you probably remember how my place is set up. I figure – I think you slept in the – that sort of study, spare room I have last time?

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Chris: You can do that again. I been trying to clean out some of my junk in there but that’s – you know that’s – I’ve got a couple sort of desks and tables in there so we can you know set up one studio up there if we want, we can set up one downstairs, I can clean my kitchen table off, you know whatever – whatever works for us so –

AJ: That sounds good, okay great. And so maybe we can or I could just get directions, I could do it while you’re at work, run by the Apple store and pick up another one.

Chris: Yeah, I mean I don’t – you know I don’t really expect you to buy that for me but you know if –

AJ: Yeah, no worries, no worries.

Chris: You’re comfortable do it.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, especially after this week man, no, no problem.


Chris: Cool.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So yeah I’ll do that then and at least have, I guess probably during the week one will be enough but I’ll try to get it at least before the weekend so that we’ll have two on the weekend when you maybe you know –

Chris: That probably does make sense, yeah. Then we can be doing some simultaneous stuff.

AJ: Yeah. Exciting, cool!

Chris: Yeah. I think I’ve got – and I’ll let you – I’m not sure that I did send you – I think I sent you a second draft of the first part of that lesson I did but I’m not sure I sent you the second part of it cause basically I had like – I probably have like almost I don't know maybe a 20 – if you combine the two parts together, almost a 25 minute lesson.

AJ: Oh perfect, perfect.

Chris: So the other thing you might – yeah, if you don’t mind doing when you get here is listen through the both parts of that and decide if we should combine em or if you think I should do some more work on a particular section.

AJ: Okay, that sounds good.

Chris: But at least you know at least we might have at least one lesson to begin with so –

AJ: Oh good.

Chris: That’s 5% less work for us to do I figure.

AJ: Absolutely.

Chris: I did finish that book you had recommended to me, the – I guess it was Blaine Ray and Contee Seely?

AJ: Oh yeah, yeah the TPRS book?

Chris: Yeah, I finally – cause I had read maybe a third of it but I hadn’t finished it but I also worked my – the rest of the way through that and – over Christmas break so –

AJ: Oh good, good, so that gives you a nice overview of the storytelling technique and –

Chris: It does.

AJ: Kind of the rationale behind it.

Chris: Yep. Yeah it all looks good, it makes a lot of sense to me so I think it’s a great model.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, it’s fantastic, it’s the best I’ve found which is why I use it. Yeah, really nice. Cool, cool. And what was the – what other book did I send you – the marketing book was the Permission Marketing right?

Chris: Yes.

AJ: Stuff go – yeah that’s good stuff too.

Chris: And I’ll get to that.

AJ: Excellent.

Chris: Yeah man and I got plenty of DVD’s here so if you get bored during the day or whatever you’ll – I don’t have cable but I don’t suspect you’re a big cable television person anyways.

AJ: Nah. Yeah, DVD’s will be great. Cool. Yeah actually I gotta load up my ipod too with some videos for the flight. I’ve got like a 9 hour, 9 ½ hours.

Chris: Nine – so you have – is like – is that just like a big layover they have for you or –

AJ: Yeah there’s a – well there’s a 3-hour layover in Chicago, three, three and a half maybe in Chicago.

Chris: Now do you – do you – it’s so funny that you say that because I didn’t have an ipod until I saw the video ipod’s come out and it’s – for me it’s such a drag to hang out in airports twiddling my thumbs and one of the reasons I got it was so I could put videos on there and be entertained in the airport.

AJ: Exactly, that’s why I did it too cause I had –

Chris: But I don’t know anybody – I don’t know anybody else who’s got one for that reason.


AJ: Yeah. No that’s exactly why I did it – I already had a little like old nano, one of the little ones you know, I used it with some Spanish stuff and a little bit of music and you know really that was fine for my normal use, I don’t need a big one but then as we started traveling more it’s like oh – this is – it’s just a pain in the ass, you know the – none of the American Airlines show movies any more or very rarely do they and you know yeah all the long layovers, I’m like it would be nice to have a, just download some you know, couple little movies or something and some you know. And I did that when we went to Indiana and it was, it was really nice so –

Chris: Cool. Have you – did you discover the – I can’t remember what it’s called, it’s not the Lego podcast but they were like these movies, these sort of movies they make with you know stop-action Legos?

AJ: Oh no I haven’t seen that. I think I’ve heard of it but I haven’t seen it.

Chris: Well you might wanna, you might wanna download one but they’re – some of them are pretty fun, especially the Star Wars one, you might check that one out sort of –

AJ: Oh okay, cool.

Chris: Yeah they’re sorta funny.


Chris: Anyways. Get you all full up on your ipod.

AJ: Yeah.

Chris: But yeah there’s a Apple store’s around the corner and I’ll show you, the other thing I should do is show you around the area a little bit. So and there a couple restaurants right around here, you know for breakfast and lunch and that kind of thing and –

AJ: Oh nice. Yeah I remember I think your – the last time I was there I think it had just been built right? Your house and that area around it, I think it all seemed really new at that point.

Chris: Yup, you’ll have your car but you’ll certainly be able to find a lot of the basics just by walking around the neighborhood, the grocery store’s open 24 hours a day and –

AJ: Oh nice, that’s great.

Chris: So yeah, yeah we’ll try to make you as comfortable as you can be. Home away from home. Nomad man.

AJ: Awesome. Well I guess maybe if you go ahead and email just some basic directions from the airport and I’ll get on you know, print out a map or something too, I mean I’m sure it’ll be fine and I’ll call – if I get lost.

Chris: It will and I’ll – you’ll have my number and you’ll have your cell phone.

AJ: Yeah.

Chris: So I can always coach you into the last part of it. The other big thing is once you sort of turn into Meadowmont, the grocery store is there and you’ll – in our.... all these, you know the 32 units are right here so it’s almost gonna be impossible to miss actually.

AJ: Okay, great. Hey you know, I was just thinking, I’ll bring my video camera, maybe we can make some videos and put em on the blog, you know like introducing you –

Chris: Yeah man, yeah, let’s do that.

AJ: Introduce you and you know hey, this is Chris. The new teacher, da-ta-dah!

Chris: Yeah that sounds great. That’d be fun.

AJ: All right cool, great. Well all rightie then, I’ll give you a call you know once I’ve landed and in the car and –

Chris: Okay.

AJ: Yeah so see you tomorrow night.

Chris: Sounds great. Anything you want to plan to grab a bite when you get here or –

AJ: Yeah.

Chris: Well I guess we can figure that out.

AJ: Yeah, I imagine I may be hungry after a bunch of bad airline snacks and – they don’t – actually they don’t feed you at all actually now so yeah, actually that – I’ll probably be hungry.

Chris: Yeah I've been, I mean when I flew up over the holidays, they like the one flight they didn’t even give a drink so yeah.

AJ: Damn, not even a drink?

Chris: I know.

AJ: Stingy bastards. That’s why – the Asian airlines are so much better, God. That’s another one that Tomoe is always going on about, service, customer service and things like that. “I can’t believe it.” Like yes, it’s not Japan where they – they you know an army of people is running to serve you everywhere you go.

Chris: Do you have any – do you have like any video of her or anything?

AJ: Trying to think, do I have any video of Tomoe? I shot, she’s so, like kind – she’s a little camera shy.

Chris: Is she.

AJ: Let me think if I – I may actually have, I’ll bring my video from, I think there’s a little bit, like a couple tiny little snippets from our vacation on – in Honduras so I’ll –

Chris: Yeah bring some along, I’d like to – of course you said maybe a picture or two but that’d be interesting to see what she’s like.

AJ: Yeah, yeah, yeah I’ll do that.

Chris: Okay, cool. Well I’m looking forward to it man, it’ll be a good time and yeah give me a call when you get in and we’ll start figuring it out.

AJ: All rightie then, see you tomorrow night.

Chris: Okay.

AJ: Okay.

Chris: Okay great.

AJ: Okay.

Chris: Bye.

AJ: Bye.

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

New Lessons at a Discount


This is it-- finally!

The new Flow English Lessons are now available to my podcast listeners and my blog readers.

Because you are part of my loyal audience, you get the new Flow English lessons at a discount-- for only $77. The normal price is $97.

This discount price is available until February 2nd. On that day, we will raise the price to $97. So if you want the new Flow English lessons, get them now :)

To get the new Flow English lessons, go to:

Enjoy them!

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

New Lessons Finished!

The new lessons are finished! Chris and I worked together for many long hours to get them finished before the end of this month.

The new lessons are called "Flow English Lessons". Flow, of course, describes the movement of water. And water, of course, moves easily and effortlessly. We want you to speak English easily and effortlessly.

The new Flow English lessons focus on the most common idioms, vocabulary, and grammar in English. You learn these very deeply. In some ways, they are easier than the Effortless English Club Lessons. However, I recommend the New Flow English Lessons for everyone who needs to speak faster, better, and automatically.

Another great thing about the new lessons-- they are good for adults and older children. I think the lessons would be fantastic for High School or even Middle School students. Of course all of our lessons are made for adults, but these lessons have a lot of funny and strange stories which would also be entertaining to HS & MS students.

A couple of days ago, I announced the new lessons to my email Newsletter subscribers. They got a very big discount-- but only for one day. It was amazing! So many people got the lessons in just 24 hours.

Today, we are sending an announcement to all subscribers to my 7 Rules Email course. If you subscribed to that course, you get the new lessons at a discount also. After three days, we'll raise the price again... so check your email soon!

Next week, I will officially announce the new lessons here-- on my podcast and blog. I'll include a link to the Flow English page, so you can get the new lessons immediately.

We're very excited about the new lessons. They fit perfectly with The Effortless English Club Lessons.

In a month or two, we hope to have our next album ready-- the album everyone has been asking about -- the Movie Lessons!

Listen To This Article at:
The Effortless English Podcast.