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1087 Selecting Window Treatments

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,087 – Selecting Window Treatments.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,087. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to ESLPod.com and become a member of ESL Podcast. When you do, you can download the Learning Guides for this and all of our current episodes. The Learning Guides give you a complete transcript of everything we say, in addition to Cultural Notes, Vocabulary, Definitions, Sample Sentences, and more.

On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue between Otto and Jean about putting something up in your windows to block out the light or simply to decorate. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

[doorbell rings]

Otto: Hi, I’m Otto from Windows-R-Us. I’m here to show you the window treatment options we offer and to take measurements for installation if you decide to order from our store.

Jean: Hi, Otto. I’m Jean. Come on in. I want to get some new window treatments for the living room. Can you show me what you have?

Otto: Sure. For the living room, I would recommend these beautiful wooden shutters. Opening the slats allows light to filter in and closing them blocks light and gives you privacy.

Jean: They’re nice, but I think they may be a little too expensive for me.

Otto: In that case, you might like blinds, mini blinds, or vertical blinds. They have the same function as shutters at a fraction of the price.

Jean: Those are still a little bit pricey. Are there any other options?

Otto: Well, you could go with curtains. You can choose the type of curtain rods that match your décor and any kind of fabric. With a valance, they would look very nice.

Jean: Nice fabric could cost a lot of money. Any other suggestions?

Otto: Do you have a bedsheet?

Jean: Yes.

Otto: Nail it over your window and call it a day. Have a nice day, ma’am.

[door slams]

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins with Otto saying, “Hi, I’m Otto from Windows-R-Us.” “Windows-R-Us” is, I guess, the name of the company, a company that probably sells windows or things related to windows – and that’s exactly what Otto is going to talk about here. He says, “I’m here to show you the window treatment options we offer.” “Window treatments” are the kinds of things that you cover a window with, either because you don’t want people to see inside of your house or for decoration, because it looks nice.

Otto says that he’s there talking to Jean to show her the window treatment options that his company offers, that his company sells. He’s also there at her house “to take measurements for installation” if Jean decides to order from his store. “Measurements” (measurements) are numbers showing the height, the width, and sometimes the depth of something. Measurements refer to how big something is. “It’s 10 inches by 20 inches.” That would be a measurement, say, of a window – a really, really, really small window. “Installation” (installation) is the act of putting something in place, of setting something up, of in this case putting something on the windows.

Jean says, “Hi, Otto. I’m Jean. Come on in,” meaning come into the house. Our dialogue began with the doorbell ringing, so we know that Otto was outside of the house, and Jean opens the door for him and lets him in. Jean then says, “I want to get some new window treatments for the living room. Can you show me what you have?” Otto says, “Sure. For the living room, I would recommend these beautiful wooden shutters.” “Shutters” (shutters) are a kind of window treatment that is fixed onto the frame of the window, typically, and usually made of wood.

You can have shutters that are vertical – that run from top to bottom – that you open up just like a door in front of your window. You can also have shutters that are horizontal – that go from side to side – that are again permanently attached or affixed to the frame of the window. The “frame” (frame) is the part inside of the house that holds the windows in place. Typically windows, of course, are made of glass that you can see through.

If the shutters are horizontal, usually they are made of long, flat pieces of wood or some other material that are placed one below the other so that you have a set of these long, narrow pieces of wood. These long, narrow pieces are called “slats” (slats). The slats then are opened or closed, usually with a long stick or long piece of wood that is attached to all of the slats so you can open the slats to let light in or close them to keep light out. That’s why Otto says, “Opening the slats allows light to filter in.” “To filter (filter) in” means to come in, but not completely.

If you have shutters on your windows, not all of the light will come into the room, only the amount of light that can come in when the slats are open. Closing the slats “blocks light.” “To block” (block) means to stop or prevent something from going from one place to another. In this case, it blocks the light from coming into the room when you have the shutters closed. This also gives you “privacy” – it means that people can’t see into your house.

Jean says, “They’re nice, but I think they may be a little expensive for me.” Otto says, “In that case, you might like blinds, mini blinds, or vertical blinds.” “Blinds” (blinds) are similar to shutters, but usually they’re made of metal or plastic and are attached together not with a piece of wood – usually with a string or cord. Blinds are also not fixed permanently to the frame of the window, so that you can usually roll the blinds up, meaning you can remove the window treatment – the blinds – so that it’s at the very top or bottom or side of the window.

With shutters, the slats are usually permanent. You can’t move them up or down completely. You can only open and close them. With blinds, you’re able to not only open and close the slats to let light in or to block light from coming in, but to move the blinds to the top or to the bottom, typically. Now, if you have blinds where the slats are horizontal, we usually call those “venetian blinds,” like the city of Venice in Italy.

You can also have what are called “vertical blinds.” Those are blinds, often used for large windows or doors, that go from top to bottom instead of from side to side, and like horizontal or venetian blinds, you can also open and close the slats or push them to expose the entire window or door. “Mini blinds” are the same as blinds, except the slats are smaller and usually narrower than you would see in regular blinds.

Otto tells Jean that the blinds have the same function – that is, they do the same things – as shutters at a fraction of the price. “At a fraction (fraction) of the price” means at a much lower price, much less expensive. But Jean says, “Those are still a bit pricey.” If you describe something as “pricey” (pricey), you mean it is expensive. It costs more than what you want to pay, perhaps. Jean says, “Are there any other options?”

Otto says, ‘Well, you could go with curtains.” “Curtains” (curtains) are large pieces of fabric, large pieces of cloth that are hung from the top of the window and extend all the way to the bottom of the window, typically. Sometimes there will be two sets of curtains, one on the top of the window and one on the bottom of the window. Sometimes there’ll be one long curtain that covers the entire window. Usually curtains can be opened or closed, just like blinds.

Otto says, “You can choose the type of curtain rods that match your décor and any kind of fabric.” A “curtain rod” (rod) is a long pole or stick that goes at the top of the window on which you hang the curtain. The curtain rods can match your décor. “Décor” (décor) means the look of a room, the way it is decorated, the way it is furnished. The style, the color, the type of material in the room are all part of the décor of a room.

Otto says the curtains can be made of any “fabric” (fabric). “Fabric” is the same as cloth – large pieces of material, in this case that are used to make curtains. You can also make clothing out of fabric. Otto says, “With a valance, they would look very nice.” A “valance” (valance) is a short piece of fabric that is put over the top part of the window to hide the curtain rod so you don’t actually see it.

Jean says, “Nice fabric could cost a lot of money. Any other suggestions?” Jean doesn’t seem to want to pay very much for her window treatments, so Otto – I think making a joke – says, “Do you have a bedsheet?” A “bedsheet” is a large piece of fabric that you put on top of your bed. Jean says, “Yes.” Otto says, “Nail it over your window and call it a day.” A “nail” (nail) is a short round piece of metal that you use in combination with a hammer in order to put two things together. The verb is “to nail.”

Otto is jokingly suggesting to Jean that she just take an old bedsheet and put it over the window and “call it a day.” The expression “to call it a day” means to stop working on something for the rest of the day, especially if you are very tired of working on it. Even if you haven’t finished, you will stop working on it. That’s the meaning of “to call it a day.”
Otto is joking, but he’s also angry. He says, “Have a nice day, ma’am.” And then he closes the door very loudly. Of course, he’s frustrated with Jean because Jean seems to think that all of these options are too expensive.

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

[start of dialogue]

[doorbell rings]

Otto: Hi, I’m Otto from Windows-R-Us. I’m here to show you the window treatment options we offer and to take measurements for installation if you decide to order from our store.

Jean: Hi, Otto. I’m Jean. Come on in. I want to get some new window treatments for the living room. Can you show me what you have?

Otto: Sure. For the living room, I would recommend these beautiful wooden shutters. Opening the slats allows light to filter in and closing them blocks light and gives you privacy.

Jean: They’re nice, but I think they may be a little too expensive for me.

Otto: In that case, you might like blinds, mini blinds, or vertical blinds. They have the same function as shutters at a fraction of the price.

Jean: Those are still a little bit pricey. Are there any other options?

Otto: Well, you could go with curtains. You can choose the type of curtain rods that match your décor and any kind of fabric. With a valance, they would look very nice.

Jean: Nice fabric could cost a lot of money. Any other suggestions?

Otto: Do you have a bedsheet?

Jean: Yes.

Otto: Nail it over your window and call it a day. Have a nice day, ma’am.

[door slams]

[end of dialogue]

We have English for any décor, thanks to 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 2015 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
window treatment – window coverings used for decoration and/or privacy

* These window treatments make the house seem very elegant.

measurements – dimensions; numbers showing the height, width, and depth of something

* Let’s take your measurements so we can figure out which size of pants we should order from the website.

installation – the act or process of putting something in place, in this case hanging curtains on a wall

* The installation of the new heating system should take just two or three days.

shutters – many narrow wooden panels (long, flat pieces) that are placed over a window and that can be tilted so that they lie flat to block all light, or turn to let in some or almost all light

* Let’s buy some wooden shutters that will match the color of the wood in our dining room table.

slats – one of the many narrow pieces of word or metal that turn to control the amount of light that passes through

* These slats are dusty and covered with dead flies. We need to clean them before the new tenant moves in.

to filter in – for light to come into an area in patches because it is partially blocked by something else

* Isn’t in beautiful how the sunlight is filtering in through the leaves?

to block – to be in the way and not allow something to move or pass through

* It’s illegal to block the emergency exits in a public building.

blinds – a screen for windows that can be pulled up to fully expose the window, or that can be pulled down so that each of the horizontal or vertical pieces can be rotated to control the amount of light that is let in or blocked

* These plastic blinds look nice at first, but they bend and break too easily.

mini blinds – blinds with very thin, narrow slats (horizontal or vertical pieces)

* In a small room, there isn’t much room for window coverings, so these mini blinds are a good choice.

vertical blinds – blinds where the pieces hang horizontally and can be pulled to one side when the blinds are not needed

* Please pull the vertical blinds to the side before you open and close the sliding glass door that leads to the backyard

at a fraction of the price – at a much lower price than something else; for far less money

* Why would anyone buy a new textbook at the university bookstore when you can buy a used textbook online at a fraction of the price?

pricey – expensive; costing more than one wants to pay, or more than one thinks something is worth

* Wow, those coffee drinks are really pricey! Let’s just get a coffeemaker to make coffee at home.

curtains – large pieces of fabric that hang over a window for decoration, privacy, and control over the amount of light entering a room

* They decorated the baby’s nursery with curtains that match the bedding.

curtain rod – a round-shaped bar that is placed horizontally above a window, from which curtains hang down and can be slid back and forth

* Do you think we should get a metal curtain rod, or a wooden curtain rod that matches our furniture?

decor – the way that a room is decorated and furnished

* Do you prefer modern or traditional decor?

fabric – cloth; large pieces of textile

* Let’s go to the store and pick out some fabric to make a new dress.

valance – a wide, but short piece of decorative fabric that hangs above and over the top part of a window, used to hide the curtain rod and fastenings (screws and nails)

* Do you want a simple, flat valance, or a lacey, ruffled valance in the living room?

to call it a day – to stop working on something for the rest of the day, especially when one is very tired of it, even though one hasn’t yet finished it

* You can’t call it a day already! We just started cleaning out the garage a few minutes ago!

Comprehension Questions
1. Which of these window treatments does not have slats?
a) Shutters
b) Blinds
c) Curtains

2. Which of these window treatments would not cover the window?
a) Valance
b) Vertical blinds
c) Mini blinds

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to filter in

The phrase “to filter in,” in this podcast, means for light to come into an area in patches because it is partially blocked by something else: “The sunglasses are dark, but they do allow some sunlight to filter in.” The verb “to filter” means to remove unwanted pieces or particles from something else: “Do you filter your water before drinking it?” Or, “Hikers have to filter water from streams, or else they can get a bacterial infection.” When talking about technology, a “filter” keeps unwanted email messages out of an inbox, or files them in a particular folder automatically: “When I requested my forgotten password, the system generated an email that got caught in my spam filter.” Finally, when people “filter,” they move gradually from one place to another: “Market researchers are studying how visitors filter through the museum.”

to call it a day

In this podcast, the phrase “to call it a day” means to stop working on something for the rest of the day, especially when one is very tired of it, even though one hasn’t yet finished it: “There’s no way we can finish this tonight. Let’s call it a day and work on it some more tomorrow morning.” The phrase “to call the shots” means to have power or control and to make the rules: “Who’s calling the shots around here?” Or, “Little kids want to grow up so they can start calling the shots.” Finally, the phrase “to call it quits” means to stop doing something, or to agree to stop doing something: “After three years of trying to make the business profitable, they finally called it quits.”

Culture Note
Door-to-Door Sales

In the past, especially before radio and television ads, “door-to-door sales” (the practice of having a sales person walk from one house to another to try to sell products) were a common way to reach consumers. Traditionally, a well-dressed man would come to the front door without an appointment, ring the “doorbell” (a button that, when pushed, causes a ringing sound inside the house to let occupants know that someone wants to come in), and ask to speak with the “head of the household” (the adult who is responsible for a family and makes financial decisions). Then the salesman would describe the items, usually showing “samples” (the things that are being sold) or a “catalog” (a book with descriptions and images of products for sale) to try to “make a sale” (persuade someone to buy something).

Some of the most common products for door-to-door sales were “encyclopedias,” which were a series of books, usually one for each letter of the alphabet, with information about almost everything, presented in “alphabetical order” (from A to Z). Before the “advent” (appearance; arrival) of the Internet, people had to “refer to” (look at) encyclopedias at libraries and in their homes to find information about most topics.

Another common product for door-to-door sales was the “vacuum cleaner” (a machine that can be rolled or pushed across the floor to suck up dirt and hair from carpets and other floors). And sometimes “Avon” sellers use door-to-door sales to sell their “cosmetics” (make-up) and other beauty products.

Today, door-to-door sales are rare, although some religious groups, especially Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, use a similar strategy to “proselytize” (tell people about their religious beliefs in the hopes that they will begin to believe the same thing).

Comprehension Answers
1 - c

2 - a