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.