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1018 Raising Teenagers

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,018 – Raising Teenagers.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,018. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development here in Los Angeles – make that “beautiful” Los Angeles – California.

Go to our website at ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download a Learning Guide for the episode you’re listening to. The Learning Guide contains a complete transcript of everything I say, plus a whole lot more.

This episode is a dialogue between Carl and Marla about raising teenagers – helping children who are now getting older become better people, a very difficult job. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Carl: Hi Marla, I’m really surprised to see you here. I didn’t know you had kids attending this high school.

Marla: I don’t – not yet. I heard about this meeting and decided to attend. It’s best to be ready for those teenage years, don’t you think?

Carl: Sure.

Marla: I heard that the principal is going to talk about different ways to handle our teenagers as they start asserting their independence. I want to be prepared.

Carl: That makes sense, I guess.

Marla: I mean, more and more teenagers are rebelling by getting tattoos and piercings and experimenting with drugs.

Carl: You’ve clearly done a lot of thinking about this.

Marla: I’ve read a few books on the topic, about kids having to deal with peer pressure. It’s my job as a parent to set boundaries and be stricter if it’s called for and ease up when my child needs space.

Carl: That’s all very insightful, but you have some time before all that comes into play, right?

Marla: My little Lucas is already four years old. Who knows when he might start hanging out with the wrong crowd and being led astray. A parent has to be vigilant.

Carl: Right.

[end of dialogue]

Carl begins our dialogue by saying, “Hi Marla. I’m really surprised to see you here.” Carl wasn’t expecting to see Marla. They obviously know each other. Carl says, “I didn’t know you had kids attending this high school.” “To attend” (attend) a school means to go there as a student. Carl didn’t know that Marla had children who were attending, or were students at, this high school. In the United States, high school is usually grades nine through twelve.

Marla says, “I don’t – not yet. I heard about this meeting and decided to attend.” Marla doesn’t have children going to the high school “yet,” meaning her children are probably either too young or go to a different school, but she’s thinking about sending her children to this high school. She heard about this meeting and she decided to attend. Notice that verb “attend” again. Here it means not to be a student of a certain school, but rather go to, in this case, a meeting.

Marla says, “It’s best to be ready for those teenage years, don’t you think?” She’s saying that she’s trying to prepare herself for when her children grow up and become teenagers. I should explain that “teenager” means someone usually between the ages of 13 and 19. Those are the “teens” in English: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19. The teenage years are often considered difficult ones for both the teenagers and their parents. Marla doesn’t have teenagers yet, it sounds like, but she wants to prepare for what will happen when she does, and so she’s going to some meeting at the high school.

Carl says, “Sure,” meaning “Yes, I agree that you should be ready for the teenage years.” Marla says, “I heard that the principal is going to talk about different ways to handle our teenagers as they start asserting their independence.” The “principal” (principal) is the director or the leader of a school, especially a school that is either a high school or elementary school.

If it’s a school for older people – that is, someone who is graduated from high school, such as a college or university – we don’t normally use the word “principal.” We might talk about the “president” of the university or the “dean” (dean) of a college. However, here we’re talking about a high school, and so the leader is called a principal. Notice that it’s spelled “-pal” at the end. There’s another word that sounds exactly the same: “principle.” That spelling of “principle” refers to a belief or an idea behind a certain set of beliefs.

This talk by the principal is going to be about how to “handle,” or take care of, “teenagers as they start asserting their independence.” “To assert (assert) one’s independence” is to demonstrate through your actions that you don’t need to be or want to be controlled by others. This is especially common among teenagers, who are used to being told what to do by their parents. They want to separate themselves, in a way, from their parents. They want to be “independent” – responsible for their own actions. Basically, they don’t want their parents telling them what to do anymore.

Carl says, “That makes sense, I guess,” meaning it makes sense that Marla wants to prepare herself for her children becoming teenagers. Marla says, “I mean, more and more teenagers are rebelling by getting tattoos and piercings and experimenting with drugs.” “To rebel” (rebel) is to fight against someone or some group that is controlling you. “To rebel” means to go against someone – to have a different idea and to demonstrate that you are opposed to the other person’s ideas or opposed to their control over you.

Teenagers rebel when they don’t want their parents to control them anymore, perhaps. Teenagers can rebel. They can demonstrate that they want to be independent through a number of different ways. One way, I guess, would be to get a tattoo. I don’t’ know that many teenagers who get tattoos. I guess sometimes it is possible for a teenager to get a small tattoo, but if you want to get a tattoo in the United States, you usually need the permission of your parents.

Some states have laws requiring that a parent give his or her approval for their teenager’s tattoo. Many people who put on tattoos – we would call them “tattooists” – have their own policies requiring that teenagers get their parents’ permission even if the law doesn’t require it, but I suppose it does happen.

Marla also talks about “piercings.” A “piercing” (piercing) is a small hole that is put in your body, especially in the lower part of your ear or possibly your nose, where you put a little piece of jewelry – or at least that’s what I’m told. Girls often get their ears pierced, although it has become more common in the last 30 years or so for men to also wear earrings. I’m not one of them.

Finally, Marla is concerned about her teenager’s (or soon-to-be teenager’s) experimenting with drugs. “Experimenting with drugs” means to begin to use illegal drugs such as marijuana and other kinds of drugs. At the time we record this episode, there’s at least one state in the United States where marijuana is legal, but not for teenagers, certainly. Not yet, I guess.

Carl says, “You’ve clearly done a lot of thinking about this.” Marla says, “I’ve read a few books on the topic, about kids having to deal with peer pressure.” “Peer (peer) pressure” is the influence that your friends – especially your classmates in high school – have on you, the influence that the people around you have on you, who are the same age as you. Usually we use this expression when talking about elementary and secondary schools – that is to say, grade schools and high schools.

Marla says, “It’s my job as a parent to set boundaries and be stricter if it’s called for and ease up when my child needs space.” There are several words there that need explaining. The first is the expression “to set (set) boundaries (boundaries).” A “boundary” is a limit to something. Usually it’s where two different countries or two different geographical areas come together. It’s the line that separates them.

“To set boundaries,” however, means to have limits on what your children can do. That means, of course, there are things that they can’t do, and so the parent sets the rules – sets the boundaries – for the behavior of his or her children. “To be strict” (strict) means to have a lot of rules or rules that the person may consider very restrictive, that don’t allow him to do very much. “Strict” also has the idea of not making any exceptions to the rule. You have to follow the rule exactly as it is stated.

The phrasal verb “to call for” means to require, to need. So, Marla is talking about being stricter “if it’s called for” – if it’s required. She also mentions “easing up.” “To ease (ease) up” means to become more relaxed, to be less strict. It’s the opposite of “strict.” If your child “needs space,” your child wants to have more privacy, more opportunities to be alone without other people. So, all of these expressions together now: “It’s my job,” says Marla, “as a parent to set boundaries and be stricter if it’s called for and ease up when my child needs space.”

Carl says, “That’s all very insightful,” meaning that all indicates that you have a deep understanding of this topic, “but you have some time before all that comes into play, right?” The expression “to come into play” means to take place, to happen. Marla says, “My little Lucas is already four years old. Who knows when he might start hanging out with the wrong crowd and being led astray?” Marla’s child is only four years old, which means he has nine years before he becomes a teenager, but Marla is concerned.

Marla says, “Who knows when he might start hanging out with the wrong crowd.” The expression “to hang (hang) out with the wrong crowd (crowd)” means to spend time with people that may have a negative influence on you. Parents are rightly – correctly – concerned about who their children have as friends, because friends have a lot of influence on us. Children learn all sorts of things from their friends, and so you want to make sure they’re learning the right thing.

Nobody says, “Oh, my child is a slow learner, so it’s okay if he hangs out with the wrong crowd.” No. “We learn from the company we keep” is an old expression. We learn from the people around us. We often act the way they act, and so you want your child to be around other children, your teenager to be around other teenagers, who have a good influence on them, not a negative one. That’s why Marla is concerned about her child being “led (led) astray (astray).” “To be led astray” means to be influenced to do bad things. When a good person starts to do bad things, he or she has been “led astray.”

“A parent has to be vigilant,” Marla concludes. “To be vigilant” (vigilant) means to always be watching out for difficulties and dangers and to be prepared to do something about them. “To be vigilant” means to be careful, to be watchful, to make sure in this case that your teenager doesn’t hang out with the wrong crowd.

Carl concludes our dialogue by saying, “Right,” but although normally “right” means “Yes, I agree,” Carl says it in a way that makes it clear that he doesn’t really agree. He in fact thinks perhaps Marla is a little crazy worrying about her four-year-old son and what he will do when he’s a teenager.

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

[start of dialogue]

Carl: Hi Marla, I’m really surprised to see you here. I didn’t know you had kids attending this high school.

Marla: I don’t – not yet. I heard about this meeting and decided to attend. It’s best to be ready for those teenage years, don’t you think?

Carl: Sure.

Marla: I heard that the principal is going to talk about different ways to handle our teenagers as they start asserting their independence. I want to be prepared.

Carl: That makes sense, I guess.

Marla: I mean, more and more teenagers are rebelling by getting tattoos and piercings and experimenting with drugs.

Carl: You’ve clearly done a lot of thinking about this.

Marla: I’ve read a few books on the topic, about kids having to deal with peer pressure. It’s my job as a parent to set boundaries and be stricter if it’s called for and ease up when my child needs space.

Carl: That’s all very insightful, but you have some time before all that comes into play, right?

Marla: My little Lucas is already four years old. Who knows when he might start hanging out with the wrong crowd and being led astray. A parent has to be vigilant.

Carl: Right.

[end of dialogue]

I want to thank our insightful scriptwriter, Dr. Lucy Tse, for her wonderful script. She never leads us astray.

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. This podcast is copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
principal – the director, top manager, or administrative leader of a school

* Children who misbehave in the classroom might be sent to the principals’ office for discipline.

to assert (one’s) independence – to demonstrate through one’s actions and/or words that one is a responsible adult who does not want or need to be controlled by others, especially when talking about teenagers

* Teresa is trying to assert her independence by proving that she can continue to get good grades while working in a part-time job after school.

to rebel – to rise in opposition to someone or something; to fight against someone or something, especially to choose to no longer follow the rules or meet the expectations

* Samantha is rebelling against her parents by cutting her hair short and dying it bright pink.

tattoo – an image permanently drawn on one’s skin by using needles to inject ink under the surface

* The company has a policy against hiring anyone with a visible tattoo.

piercing – a small hole placed in one’s body, especially in the earlobe, nose, eyebrow, tongue, lip, or belly button, used to wear jewelry as decoration

* We were shocked to see how many facial piercings her boyfriend has.

to experiment with drugs – to begin using illegal drugs to know what the experience feels like, but without yet having formed an addiction

* Many people experiment with drugs without realizing how quickly they can become addicted to them.

peer pressure – influence from one’s friends, classmates, and colleagues of the same age to do certain things or to act in a particular way

* What has a greater influence on high school students’ decisions: peer pressure or their parents?

to set boundaries – to establish the acceptable limits of something; to create clear rules or expectations

* It’s important for teachers to set boundaries for their students at the beginning of the school year.

strict – expecting people to follow the rules perfectly, without making exceptions

* Joao’s parents are so strict! If he comes home even one minute late, they take away all his privileges.

called for – required; needed; necessary

* In this type of market, drastic measures are called for.

to ease up – to relax and become more lenient; to become less strict; to become more flexible and easier to deal with

* The bank is easing up on its mortgage lending requirements, making it easier for consumers to get home loans.

to need space – to want to have privacy and the opportunity to be alone, without having other people (especially one’s parents) become overly involved in one’s activities or relationships

* Justin told his girlfriend that he loves her, but he needs space and wants more time to spend with his friends.

insightful – with a deep understanding of something that is not easily understood by others, especially related to emotions and human behavior

* Jacob’s writing is insightful and helps people understand what his experiences must have been like.

to come into play – to have a role in something; to participate or be involved in something

* Which laws come into play when we’re dealing with students under 18?

to hang out with the wrong crowd – to form relationships and spend time with people who have a negative influence on one’s actions, behaviors, and beliefs, especially people who abuse alcohol and other drugs, or who break the law

* When Mariah turned 17, she started hanging out with the wrong crowd, smoking in the park when she should have been in class.

to be led astray – to be influenced so that one does bad things; to be encouraged to do things that one should not do

* Some people call him a prophet, but others think he is leading people astray.

vigilant – watching for dangers or difficulties, and prepared to deal with them; looking for problems that might present trouble

* The Center for Disease Control is vigilant in looking for rapidly spreading diseases.

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these things are related to jewelry?
a) Getting tattoos
b) Getting piercings
c) Experimenting with drugs

2. What will Marla do to ease up when her child needs space?
a) She’ll give her child a larger room.
b) She’ll participate in all of her child’s activities.
c) She’ll become less involved in her child’s life.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
piercing

The word “piercing,” in this podcast, means a small hole placed in one’s body, especially in the earlobe, nose, eyebrow, tongue, lip, or belly button, used to wear jewelry as decoration: “Cedric already has a piercing in his tongue, but now he wants to get one in his eyebrow, too.” A “piercing scream” is a very high-pitched, loud scream: “Suddenly the night was filled with a piercing scream and everyone was afraid.” A “piercing look” is a very intense look from someone who seems to be able to understand one’s secrets or thoughts: “The presenter was taken aback by the audience member’s piercing look.” Finally, a “piercing wind” is a very strong, cold wind that seems to go through one’s clothes: “In this piercing wind, the air feels even colder than it actually is.”

to ease up

In this podcast, the phrase “to ease up” means to relax and become more lenient, or to become less strict: “The students begged the teacher to ease up on the amount of homework they’re given each week.” The phrase “to ease (one’s) mind” means to make one feel calmer, more relaxed, and less worried: “When the director announced that no one would be fired, it eased my mind.” The phrase “to ease off on (someone)” means to become less demanding of another person and to be kinder and gentler with that person: “Zoey is a great kid. Why don’t you ease up on her and just have fun together instead of always making her do more homework?” Finally, the phrase “to ease (one’s) grip” means to begin to loosen one’s hold, or to begin to hold something less tightly: “As Debra relaxed, she eased her grip on the steering wheel.”

Culture Note
After-School Programs

Many “school districts” (groups of schools in the same area that have the same management) offer after-school programs for their students. These programs are primarily “aimed at” (intended for) students whose parents have full-time jobs. Without after-school programs, many children would be “latchkey kids” (children who go home after school and spend the rest of the day at home alone until their parents come home) with “too much time on their hands” (having too much free time and not enough responsibilities), making them more likely to “get into trouble” (do things they are not supposed to do).

Some after-school programs are offered by the school districts themselves, but others are offered by local community organizations like the Boys & Girls Club or the YMCA, often on school property. The activities “vary” (are different) with the age of the students. For the youngest students, the activities usually involve playing outdoors on the “playground” (swings, slides, climbing structures, and more). Older students might participate in more “structured” (planned; formal) activities, including assistance with homework.

Some after-school programs are focused on specific activities. Many after-school programs are related to sports or music. Others teach children how to play “chess” (a board game of strategy), or how to build engineering “models” (small versions of what a complex design would look like). Still other programs teach “life skills” (things that people need to learn how to do for daily life), such as cooking, shopping, “budgeting” (planning how to spend one’s money), childcare, and more.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c