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English Teacher John Show 50 – transcript

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Hey ... it's number 50!50 – 50 – 50 – 5-0 yes – yes – yes!! We FINALLY made it to the big 5-0. Get ready for burning, yearning and learning … it’s the English Teacher John Show number 50. Oh who’s that …? Is that you David?? Do you want to say something …??
[David’s intro]

[intro music]
INTRODUCTION – U.S. election

Hola. Oi, Tashi delek. Ciao. Konnichiwa. Guten tag. Asalaam alekum. Ni hao. Namaste.

Good afternoon everyone. My name is John Koons and I am your host for the English Teacher John Show and our other podcasts, which are produced here in our classroom, studio and sushi parlor in Matsumoto, Japan.

I think you all know that I like talking about current events – especially political and social issues, and health and travel and the environment … ah well, I guess I like talking about a lot of things!

Well, as an American we had a big event this week: the 2006 midterm elections in the U.S. In my view, the last few years have not been good ones for the decision makers and the DECISION-MAKING PROCESS in the United States government. Hey, I don’t think it’s been very good for the PEOPLE either; the ones who have to suffer the consequences of poor policy decisions.

For me, it’s just not been a good period for healthy, functioning democracy. Well, the “winds of change” are blowing and I’m really optimistic that things like tolerance, diplomacy, consensus, democracy, fairness, a functioning media, justice, a healthy environment … yeah, I’m really optimistic that these things will improve. What do you think? Is the recent election in the U.S. going to make any difference in people’s lives – in the U.S. and around the world?? Let’s hope so!

Our show today has four segments.
1. In segment 1 we’ll have “What’s News?” – that’s today’s news story.
2. Segment 2 is a grammar lesson. We’ll quickly go over comparisons, like “the healthier your diet, the better you feel.”
3. After that, in segment 3, we’ll have a few more famous quotations for you. This time, the quotations will be about change and transformation.
4. We’ll also have a quick idiom near the end of the show: fall over backwards or bend over backwards.

Alright. Let’s get on with the show!

[1: degradation of marine environment]

Today’s first news story fits in the English Teacher John category of: Science and the Natural World.

A new study says we could see the end of seafood within 50 years, if we don’t curb overfishing and ocean pollution. Whenever a species is lost, the authors of the study claim, the web of the ocean ecosystem unravels a bit faster, speeding its overall destruction. That news item is from sciencefriday.com, which has great weekly podcasts. I listened to the whole show and for sure the main topic, that food from the sea will be gone within 50 years, is a controversial one with opposing opinions. In the past year, I’ve seen a few news items about the degradation of the marine environment, It seems pretty obvious to me that the quality of the oceans and the life in the oceans is deteriorating. I think scientists are only disagreeing about how fast the destruction is happening.

And do you know what I think? We shouldn’t be leaving the oceans worse off than the way they were given to us by our predecessors. All of this science, technology, accumulated and easily accessible information and knowledge, and we’re going to pass on critical parts of the earth’s ecosystem – the oceans – in a deteriorating state, and possible in such a bad state that it will never be able to fully recover. Wow, that’s really a bad and irresponsible thing to do. Whether it happens in 20, 40 or 100 years, I don’t think that’s important. The condition of the ocean should always be kept healthy and sustaining, in any timeframe that we choose to sample it. It’s the responsibility of all of us to pass on the natural resources of planet Earth in good condition.

[2: Microsoft’s ZUNE mp3 player is due out soon (next week?)]

Our second news story fits in the Technology category and it’s about one of giants of the tech industry. Next week Microsoft’s ZUNE media player will go on sale. Reviews have not been so great for the device that some were calling the “iPod killer.” According to stories I found at podcastingnews.com and betanews.com, the negative aspects of the mp3 player include:
– Zunes online store offers far fewer songs
– pay for songs using Microsoft “points” which is confusing
– much worse battery life
– ‘big’ and ‘blocky’
– does not function as a USB hard drive like many other mp3 players
– screen is bigger but quality may not be so good

No, I don’t think I’ll buy one. I’m pretty happy with my creative Zen Neeon 5 GB player, though I’d someday like to have a player that can show videos.

SEGMENT 2 – LANGUAGE: comparisons, as in

Hey, it’s time for a little bit of a language lesson. Many of us know how to compare two things with bigger, better, more interesting, faster, newer, more beautiful, but today we’ll look at a new way to use these comparison words.

[Form 1]
First, expressions that we’ll call form 1. These expressions; a. always have the word the before the comparison words; b. generally do not have nouns; and c. usually end with the word better. Also, they are commonly used in responses to questions.

Hey, how big of a box do you need? The bigger the better. The bigger the better.
(This means, “as big as possible”)

When do you want to leave? The sooner the better. The sooner the better.
(= as soon as possible)

Should we take the mountain road or go around? What do you think? The less steep the better. The less steep the better.

There’s also a special expression that we use, and that is when we want to say that more people joining in on the activity is a good thing. The expression is: the more the merrier. The more the merrier.

[Form 2]
Now let’s look at the second form, and these are longer sentences. Please notice that each part of the sentence – each clause – begins with the word the. Examples:

The younger you are, the easier it is to learn a language.
The younger you are, the easier it is to learn a language.

The more interest you show, the friendlier he will treat you.
The more interest you show, the friendlier he will treat you.

The later he gets to bed at night, the grumpier he is in the morning. (Is this true with you?)
The later he gets to bed at night, the grumpier he is in the morning.

The less prepared we are, the more nervous we’ll be at next week’s presentation.
The less prepared we are, the more nervous we’ll be at next week’s presentation.

The less you eat in the morning, the better you’ll feel.
The less you eat in the morning, the better you’ll feel.

The more electricity she uses, the higher her bill will be.
The more electricity she uses, the higher her bill will be.

I’m sure you’re all tired after that. Good job!


Hey, it’s time for a few quotations. In our last podcast, I read some quotations that were about creativity. Today, we’ll look at some words of wisdom that are related to CHANGE and TRANSFORMATION.

Joseph Campbell (1904 – 1987); the American professor, writer, and lecturer best known for his work in the fields of comparative mythology and comparative religion
When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness.

Confucius (551 – 479 BCE); famous Chinese thinker and social philosopher
Only the wisest and the stupidest of men never change.

Douglas Adams (1952 – 2001); British author, comic radio dramatist, and amateur musician, most famous as author of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’
Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.

Henry David Thoreau (1817 – 1862) American author, development critic, naturalist, pacifist, and philosopher
Things do not change; we change.

And my favorite today, from a person who I really admire and respect – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, born 1935 and living in Dharamsala, north India.
People take different roads seeking fulfillment and happiness. Just because they’re not on your road doesn’t mean they’ve gotten lost.

We have one basic idiom today and it has two variations, two similar ways to say it, both having the same basic meaning. BEND OVER BACKWARDS or FALL OVER BACKWARDS.

You know, I bent over backwards to make sure he got everything he asked for.

Hey, it means to do everything possible to try and please someone.

You know, I bent over backwards to make sure he got everything he asked for.
He hasn’t treated me so well, so I really don’t want to bend over backwards to help him out this time.
My brother knows that I would fall over backwards to help him if he needed it.

In Philadelphia, U.S.A., where I come from, “bend over backwards” is more common than “fall over backwards.”

SEGMENT 5 – LISTENER EMAIL (in a separate mp3 file)
We’re going to try something new here and put the email section in a separate audio file. How’s that sound. Thanks to many of you for writing in the past few weeks, and you can hear more about our listener mail in the separate mp3 file, “English Teacher John Show No. 50 Email.”
In the email podcast, we’ll report on emails we received from:
1. Italy
2. Spain
3. Mexico
4. India
5. Ukraine
6. Argentina
7. Brazil
8. Tajikistan
9. Catalonia in Spain
10. Poland
11. the Philippines
12. Hawaii in the U.S.
13. Yemen
14. Iran
15. Germany

If you have any comments about this way of doing it, please let us know. The email podcast may come out a few days later than this podcast.

Okay, it’s about time to signoff from Matsumoto. You can find the transcript for this show, the separate email audio file, and you can also let me know what you think about today’s show. You can post your comments and suggestions on our MY ENGLISH BLOG. Besides the blog, you can find all of our video and audio podcasts, more transcripts, other language help and more, at english teacher john . com. Our email address is podcast-AT-etj.com.

Thanks for listening and learning. Have a great week and remember: the more you think positive thoughts, the better you’ll feel. And you know what is really true – the older I get, the more I realize how much I don’t know!

Thanks to Martin Chenhall, our music man.

That’s it for now. I gotta go and study some Japanese – the sooner the better!

I will leave you with this anonymous poem:

Take time to work – it is the price of success
Take time to think – it is the source of power
Take time to play – it is the secret of perpetual youth
Take time to read – it is the fountain of wisdom
Take time to be friendly – it is the road to happiness
Take time to love and be loved – it is the nourishment of the soul
Take time to share – it is too short a life to be selfish
Take time to laugh – it is the music of the heart
Take time to dream – it is hitching your wagon to a star.

Thanks for listening to show number 50. See you next week.

4 Responses to “English Teacher John Show 50 – transcript”

  1. Egidio Says:

    Hi John, thank you for this new effort, we were all waiting for that!

  2. Emilio Says:

    Hello John, thanks again for your fantastic effort, i have add your blog to my blog in order to revise for new content. My blog is about my english learning experience and tips, but your blog has been the best thing i have found in internet about english learning.
    My blog is in: http://english-summer.blogspot.com

  3. English Teacher John Says:

    Hi Emilio,

    Hola! Thanks for your nice comment (and compliment!!) and the link to your blog. I checked it out and I liked that you included a writing passage from Bill Bryson. I’m reading his book, “Mother Tongue,” which is a great history of all the “weirdness” of the English language!!

    I also liked the filmsite.org site that you mentioned on your blog. We need some more recent movies in those lists of great films!!

    Hey, keep writing as I think it really helps you with English.
    Take care,

  4. Hiromi Says:

    Hi John,

    As Emilio and Egidio say, you are doing a brilliant job! I really like “quatations” segment. My most favorite one is “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion…” Well, you know me very well and I guess you can understand easily why I like this quatation.

    I’m also interested in the story about the marine environment. I completely agree with you that we should pass on natural resouces to the next generation in good or better condition. Let’s try to make a better choice for the environment on whatever we do in our daily life! Maybe I should start with buying a mountain bike and setting aside my car…

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