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0953 Living With Insects and Spiders

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 953 – Living with Insects and Spiders.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 953. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Go there. Become a member of ESL Podcast. Download a Learning Guide for this episode.

This episode is a dialogue about insects and spiders – sounds kind of scary. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Judith: Ahh! Get it off me!

Murad: It’s just a tiny spider. Don’t freak out.

Judith: I hate spiders. What is this place you’ve brought me to?

Murad: It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and we’ll be staying here tonight.

Judith: You mean we’ll be roughing it in this cabin? Is that a cockroach that just ran across the floor?

Murad: Maybe. In this place, you’ll see some of the most amazing things. It’s the next best thing to sleeping in the open.

Judith: Great. Can you close that window? There are flies and moths everywhere, and I think those were bees and wasps just outside the door.

Murad: They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Listen to that! We can fall asleep to the sound of crickets.

Judith: Ouch! I think I’ve just been bitten by a giant mosquito.

Murad: You’re imagining things. Look at those butterflies just outside the window. Don’t you think they’re beautiful?

Judith: Do you know what would look beautiful to me right now? A really big mosquito net!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Judith saying, or rather screaming, “Ahh! Get it off me!” She is telling Murad to remove something from her, probably something that has started to crawl on her – that is, has started to move across her body or her clothing. Murad says, “It's just a tiny spider.” A “spider” (spider) is a kind of animal called an “arachnid” (arachnid). It's a small animal that has eight legs. It's a little difficult to describe a spider. If you’ve seen the movie Spiderman, then you know what a spider is.

Murad says this animal is just a tiny, or small, spider. He tells Judith, “Don't freak out.” The verb “to freak (freak) out” is a phrasal verb meaning to lose control of your words and actions, usually because you're very frightened or possibly angry. Judith says, “I hate spiders. What is this place you’ve brought me to?” She's asking Murad where are they that they would have these spiders. Murad says, “It's one of the most beautiful spots,” or places, “in the world, and we’ll be staying here tonight.”

Judith says, “You mean will be roughing it in this cabin?” “To rough (rough) it” means to live, usually for short amount of time, under more difficult circumstances, often away from a house or a building – to live outside, often without electricity, for example, or Wi-Fi. That would be “to rough it.” “To rough it” is often used when describing people who go camping – who go out into the forest or out into the desert or out into a park, and they sleep on the ground outside, and they make their food outside, and so forth. That's what I've been told. I'm not really much of a camper.

Judith and Murad are not camping, exactly. They're staying in a “cabin” (cabin). A “cabin” is a small building, usually just one room. It's like a very small house in the forest, or in a park, or by a lake. Usually, cabins are found out away from the city, away from the large towns, and are often used for vacation purposes. Some cabins are as nice as some small houses. Judith doesn't think this cabin is very nice. That's why she uses the expression “roughing it.”

She then asks Murad, “Is that a cockroach that just ran across the floor?” A “cockroach” (cockroach) is a large brown insect, a small little animal that is often associated with places that are dirty, that aren’t clean. Murad says, “Maybe,” meaning maybe that was a cockroach. He says, “In this place, you'll see some of the most amazing things. It's the next best thing to sleeping in the open.” The expression “next best thing to” means almost as good as, nearly as good as. Murad says, “It's nearly as good as sleeping in the open.” “In the open” here means outdoors – outside of a house or building.

Judith says, “Great,” but she of course is not really happy. Normally, when someone says, “Great,” they're happy. But when you say it the way Judith says it, you're being sarcastic. You’re making a joke. You mean the opposite: it's not great. Judith says, “Can you close that window? There are flies and moths everywhere.” A “fly” (fly) is a small, typically black insect that flies. It is often attracted to garbage, at least in a city. A “moth” (moth) is also a flying insect. It's usually white, gray, or brown and has very large wings. It is known to be attracted to light. At nighttime, for example, if you live in an area that has moths, you may see them flying close to a lightbulb. They’re attracted to the light at night, at least the ones that are near my house.

Judith says, “I think those were bees and wasps just outside the door.” A “bee” (bee) is also a flying insect. It has yellow and black stripes typically, and is somewhat dangerous, or can be dangerous. A “bee” can actually – not exactly bite you, but the verb we would use is “sting” (sting) you. Not Sting, the British singer. “Sting” here, as a verb, means to put a small part of the bee’s body into your skin.

A “wasp” (wasp) is a long, thin flying insect that also has yellow and black stripes. It tends to build large, what we would call “nests” (nests). We sometimes get wasp nests in our house where I live. You have to buy something at the store in order to get rid of them – to spray the wasp nest to kill and get rid of the wasps. Murad says, “They” – meaning the flies, moths, bees, and wasps – “won't bother you if you don't bother them.”

Then he says, “Listen to that! We can fall asleep to the sound of crickets.” A “cricket” (cricket) is an insect that is similar to a grasshopper. It makes a very distinctive sound, usually around the time the sun is setting. I remember growing up in Minnesota, when we would go up away from the city. You could always hear, in the summertime, crickets at night, or at the time that the sun was setting. “Cricket” is also the word we use to describe the game that is popular in Great Britain and in other countries that at one time were associated with Great Britain.

Judith says “Ouch!” “Ouch” is the word we use when something hurts us suddenly. She says, “I think I've just been bitten by a giant mosquito.” “To be bitten” means the mosquito has done something to puncture, or to make a hole in, your skin. A “mosquito” (mosquito) is another small flying insect that is associated usually with wet areas and is often very active when the sun is rising – when the sun is coming up – and when the sun is going down. The mosquito bites you and apparently feeds on your blood like a vampire, except vampires aren’t real, even though they're very popular on television and in the movies. Some people say my neighbor is a vampire, but I don't think so.

Judith is worried about a mosquito biting her, but Murad says, “You're imagining things” – you’re thinking things are true that aren't really true. He says, “Look at those butterflies just outside the window. Don't you think they’re beautiful?” A “butterfly” (butterfly) is a flying insect that usually has very colorful wings. “Butterflies” feed off of flowers, as do other insects. Judith says, “Do you know what would look beautiful to me right now? A really big mosquito net!” A “mosquito net” (net) is something that you put over a door or a window or a bed that keeps the insects away from people, especially when they're sleeping.

Now let's listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Judith: Ahh! Get it off me!

Murad: It’s just a tiny spider. Don’t freak out.

Judith: I hate spiders. What is this place you’ve brought me to?

Murad: It’s one of the most beautiful spots in the world, and we’ll be staying here tonight.

Judith: You mean we’ll be roughing it in this cabin? Is that a cockroach that just ran across the floor?

Murad: Maybe. In this place, you’ll see some of the most amazing things. It’s the next best thing to sleeping in the open.

Judith: Great. Can you close that window? There are flies and moths everywhere, and I think those were bees and wasps just outside the door.

Murad: They won’t bother you if you don’t bother them. Listen to that! We can fall asleep to the sound of crickets.

Judith: Ouch! I think I’ve just been bitten by a giant mosquito.

Murad: You’re imagining things. Look at those butterflies just outside the window. Don’t you think they’re beautiful?

Judith: Do you know what would look beautiful to me right now? A really big mosquito net!

[end of dialogue]

The next best thing to having your own personal English teacher is to listen to ESL Podcast and to the scripts written by our wonderful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
spider – arachnid; a small bug (a creature like an insect, but without antennae) that has 8 legs and creates a spider web

* A spider sits in the center for a web and waits for an insect to get caught so that it can eat it.

to freak out – to lose control of one’s words and actions, usually because one is very frightened or angry

* Her parents freaked out when they saw that she had dyed her hair bright pink.

to rough it – to live without modern comforts; to live under more difficult circumstances in natural surroundings, usually without electricity or running water

* They spent the weekend roughing it without electricity or showers and sleeping in their tent at the state park.

cabin – a small building, usually with only one room, normally found in a forest or near a body of water

* We don’t have a tent, so we’re going to rent a cabin when we visit Yosemite National Park next month.

cockroach – a large brown insect with log antennae and legs, often found in dirty apartments and restaurants

* If everyone kept their kitchen clean, we wouldn’t have so many cockroaches in this apartment building.

next best thing to – almost as good as; one’s second choice

* Renting a home is the next best thing to owning one.

in the open – outdoors, without walls or a roof

* They got married in the open. Fortunately it didn’t rain that day.

fly – a small, black, flying insect that is attracted to garbage, feces (poop) and rotting meat

* There are so many flies around the garbage cans. It’s disgusting!

moth – an flying insect, usually white, grey, or brown, that has large wings, often with spots or patterns, and flies toward light

* All these socks and sweaters have small holes. Do you think we have moths in our closet?

bee – a flying insect with yellow and black stripes that visits flowers, makes honey, and can sting

* Eleanor hates springtime, because when all the bees come to visit flowers, she’s scared she’ll get stung.

wasp – a long, skinny flying insect with yellow and black stripes that builds large nests and produces a painful sting

* Be careful! There’s a huge wasp nest in that tree.

cricket – an insect that is similar to a grasshopper and makes a chirping sound, mostly at dusk (the time around sunset)

* The crickets are so loud that I can’t even concentrate on our conversation!

mosquito – a small flying insect that lives in damp or wet areas, is active mostly at dawn (the time around sunrise) and dusk (the time around sunset) and bites humans and animals to drink their blood

* Justin has lots of red marks on his legs. They look like mosquito bites.

butterfly – an flying insect with large, brightly colored wings that drinks nectar (sweet liquid) from flowers

* Isn’t it amazing that such an ugly caterpillar will become a beautiful butterfly?

mosquito net – a net (a piece of fabric with many very small holes) hung over a door or window or over a bed to keep insects away from people

* Giving people mosquito nets can be a good way to reduce problems with diseases, such as malaria.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these insects might sting?
a) A spider.
b) A moth.
c) A wasp.

2. What does Judith think would be nice to have right now?
a) A special tool for killing mosquitoes.
b) A piece of fabric that would keep mosquitoes away.
c) A large insect that eats mosquitoes.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
in the open

The phrase “in the open,” in this podcast, means outdoors, without walls or a roof: “Should I set the table, or do you want to eat in the open tonight?” The phrase “out in the open” describes information that is no longer hidden or secret: “As soon as the details of the transaction came out in the open, the company’s stock price doubled.” The phrase “to be open with (someone)” means to be honest, straightforward, and willing to speak with someone about something: “We’re married, so we need to be open with each other. We shouldn’t have any secrets.” Finally, the phrase “open to (something)” means willing to consider something or willing to try something: “Would you be open to skydiving if you had an opportunity to try it?”

net

In this podcast, a “mosquito net” is a piece of fabric with many very small holes that is hung over a door or window or over a bed to keep insects away from people: “There were so many mosquitoes that we had to wrap pieces of mosquito net over our head and hands to protect our skin.” The word “net” also refers to pieces of fabric with larger holes or ropes that are loosely woven together, usually used to catch or hold something: “How do you protect dolphins from getting caught in your fishing nets?” When talking about technology, the word “net” refers to the internet: “How many hours a day do you spend on the net?” Finally, when talking about accounting, “net” refers to the total earnings after deducting expenses: “They had revenues of $4 million last year, but their net profits were only $120,000 after expenses.”

Culture Note
Eating Insects

In many cultures, insects are an important source of “protein” (a substance found in foods that helps one build muscle), but “entomophagy” (the practice of eating insects) is “uncommon” (rare) and almost “nonexistent” (with none of something) in the United States. In fact, many Americans have a strong “aversion” (feelings of disgust) to the idea of eating insects. Insects are considered dirty and “creepy crawly” (moving in unpleasant ways), and are not supposed to be in homes, much less on our plates.

Young children, mostly boys, sometimes challenge each other to eat worms or insects, but they aren’t considered a type of food and most Americans have never tasted an insect. However, some “reality shows” (television shows that show the behavior of normal people, not actors) “play on” (take advantage) of Americans’ aversion to eating insects.

For example, Fear Factor was a reality “game show” (a show where people try to win something) where “contestants” (the people playing the game) had to do things that they were very afraid of or that they thought were disgusting. Some of the “challenges” (difficult things people had to do) were to eat insects, often insects that were still alive.

Despite Americans’ aversion to eating insects, many experts have begun “advocating” (saying that something is good and encouraging others to do it) on behalf of entomophagy. They believe that insects are the world’s most “abundant” (with a lot of something) and inexpensive source of protein, and that insects could be the solution to the world’s “hunger problems” (problems related to people not having enough nutritious food to eat).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - b