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005 Topics: New Software, Brunch, Oprah's Book Club, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, How to End a Letter or Email, Can vs. Can't

时间:2018-05-01   访问量:3195   View PDF
Complete Transcript
You are listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 5.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café number 5. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

On this Café, we’re going to talk about one of the most famous twentieth-century Americans, the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. We’re also going to talk about book clubs, specifically commercial book clubs that are used to sell books. And, as always, we’ll answer a few of your questions. Let's get started.

Our first topic on this Café is a famous American, perhaps one of the most famous Americans of the twentieth century, Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on January 15th in 1929 in Atlanta, which is the largest city in the state of Georgia, located in the southeastern part of the U.S. King came from an educated African American family. His parents were college educated, which was somewhat unusual back in the late 1920s, early 1930s.

In fact, they lived on a street that was sometimes called “Black Wall Street.” “Wall Street,” you may know, is a famous street in New York which is associated with the financial district – with banks and brokerages and the stock market. Well, the Kings were not in the stock market necessarily, but they did live in a nice area in Atlanta. Martin Luther King was a very bright student, a very smart student. In fact, he went to college at the age of 15, to a traditionally black or African American college called “Morehouse,” also located in Atlanta. That was in 1944.

One has to remember that the American South back in the 1920s, 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s was not always a good place for an African American. There was a lot of discrimination, a lot of racism – a lot of people who discriminated against or treated differently people of different skin colors. If you know a little bit about the history of the U.S., you know that slavery was legal in the Southern states up through the end of the Civil War, which ended in 1865. After that time, although slavery was made illegal, there was still a lot of discrimination against African Americans.

King grew up in this environment. During the summer of one of the years he was studying in college, he went to work on a farm in Connecticut, which is one of our northeastern states. There, he saw very different sort of life, a very different sort of treatment for African Americans. He decided to become a minister, and so he studied in a seminary. A “seminary” (seminary) is a place where you study to be a religious minister, such as a reverend or a priest.

In the seminary, King was very much influenced by the work of Gandhi, the famous Indian political leader. He was influenced especially by Gandhi's ideas of nonviolent opposition to unjust or unfair laws. King didn't believe in violence, and part of that was because of the influence of Gandhi on his training in the seminary. In 1955, King continued his education at Boston University in Boston, Massachusetts, which is located also in the northeastern part of the United States. There, he got a PhD, and returned back to the southern part of the U.S., back to the state of Alabama, to become a pastor.

He was a leader of a church in Montgomery, Alabama, which is the capital city of Alabama. He immediately realized that he needed to organize the African American community in the South in order to end the discrimination against them. So, he started something called the “Southern Christian Leadership Conference.” This was an organization that promoted nonviolent strategies, or tactics, in order to end the laws that discriminated against blacks. The Southern Christian Leadership Conference was a group of mostly African American church leaders that was started in 1957.

King was involved in both local and national movements that tried to end discrimination. He participated in a number of demonstrations and marches that tried to call attention to, or bring people's attention to, these problems. The most famous march or demonstration was the March on Washington in 1963. This was a time when a lot of people were beginning to see the problems and the injustice of discrimination against African Americans. So, there was a large gathering of people who wanted to bring national attention to these issues.

They had a large gathering in 1963, and Martin Luther King gave a very famous speech at this March on Washington. It's known as the “I Have a Dream” speech, because one of the most famous lines in the speech was that phrase: “I have a dream.” The dream was of a country where discrimination did not exist. King received some support from important political leaders including President John F. Kennedy and, later, President Lyndon Johnson. In fact, it was Lyndon Johnson who was most influential in passing a series of laws related to civil rights.

The term “civil (civil) rights (rights)” refers to a set of basic rights that all human beings should have, especially as they relate to participating in government and in public activities. The term “civil rights” is often used in talking about making sure that no group in society is discriminated against – is treated differently because of their, for example, skin color, as was the case with African Americans and other minorities, other non-white groups, during this time. King and his nonviolent tactics were fairly successful in ending a lot of the racist laws, especially federal or national laws, during the 1960s.

King is not the only person who was fighting discrimination or trying to end racial discrimination in the U.S. during this period. But he was certainly the most important. There were others, such as Malcolm X, who didn't agree with King’s tactics – his strategy, his approach – of nonviolent protests. King, however, continued to speak and write about the importance of nonviolent protest. Perhaps the most famous document that King produced about this topic is now called the “Letter from the Birmingham Jail.” Birmingham is a city in Alabama. A “jail” is a prison where you are taken.

King and many of his supporters had used nonviolent tactics and had been arrested by the police in Birmingham and put in jail. While in jail, King wrote a very famous letter in which he talked about the importance of nonviolence and the importance of demonstrating and participating in protests against these racist laws. This took place just before his March on Washington, which was in late August of 1963. During the middle part of the 1960s, King continued to work for civil rights legislation, or laws that would protect African Americans and others.

In 1968, he went to a city in the state of Tennessee, located in the central eastern part of the U.S., called Memphis. It was in Memphis, on April 4th, 1968, that Martin Luther King was shot and killed. It was perhaps one of the most dramatic events of the late 1960s in the U.S. There were many demonstrations and protests after King's assassination. About a year later after King was killed, after he was assassinated, a man by the name of James Earl Ray said that he was the one who killed King, and he was sentenced to 99 years in prison.

Interestingly enough, Ray later said that his confession was false – that he did not, in fact, kill King, and even some members of Martin Luther King's family, including his wife, Coretta Scott King, wanted the government to investigate again this case, as late as 1997. However, Ray died in 1998, and therefore, there was no additional investigation into who killed Martin Luther King Jr. King is one of the most important figures in American history in the last 100 years, largely because of his fight for civil rights.

A national holiday was established to honor King. A “national holiday,” sometimes called a “federal holiday,” is a day that everyone or most everyone in the government gets off. They don't have to work. Businesses sometimes will also give their employees a day off of work, although that doesn't happen all the time in every company – but many companies do. I said that the national holiday honors Martin Luther King. “To honor” (honor) someone is to remember that person and to give attention to the good things that that person has done. And that's what the national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King does.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is celebrated on the third Monday of January each year in the United States. It was officially established back in 1983 and has continued to this day – and my guess is, will continue for many, many years to come.

Our second topic on this Café is book clubs. A “book club” can be a couple of different things. It can be a group of people who get together every month, or perhaps more frequently, to talk about a book that all of them are reading together. That's one use of the term “book club.” A “book club” can also be a way that a company or even a person recommends certain books for people to buy and tries to get people to buy them.

The idea of using book clubs to sell books became quite popular in the early part of the twentieth century. It was used by a couple of different companies, especially and most famously by something called the “Book of the Month Club,” which started way back in 1926. The “Book of the Month Club” basically was a subscription program. You would sign up to get a book every month. However, you would be sent a card in the mail giving you the name of the book that you would be sent. If you didn't want the book, you would send the card back and the company wouldn't send you the book. However, when you sign up for the book club, you promise to buy a certain number of books.

You may ask yourself, “Well, why would you sign up for one of these book clubs?” There were a couple of good reasons. One was that you would often be given a very large bonus to sign up. So, as soon as you signed up, you would be given, say, a set of 20 books or some other prize that seemed like a lot to you, and you thought, “Well, I only have to sign up and I get all of these books.” I know that because I signed up for one of these clubs – the Book of the Month Club – way back in, I think, the early 1980s.

When you sign up, you get a set of books, and then you promise to buy a certain number of books – I don't remember exactly how many it was – over a period of a year or two years. Now, the books that are selected for the Book of the Month Club are usually considered the best books, or at least the most popular books. The concept or idea of a Book of the Month Club – or a book club, I should call them – became so popular that by the 1980s, there were more than a hundred of these book clubs that you could join that would send you these books.

There were special book clubs for people interested in mystery stories, history, politics, in psychology, and so forth. The Book of the Month Club, that one company, was so successful that they sold more than 200 million copies of books, both fiction and nonfiction, during the first 40 years that they existed. Book clubs are no longer as popular as they once were, probably because of the increasing influence of the Internet and companies like here in the U.S.

However, the concept or idea of a book club hasn't died, at least among some people. One of the most famous women in the U.S. started her own kind of book club. She would recommend a new book every month. The woman's name is “Oprah (Oprah) Winfrey (Winfrey).” Oprah Winfrey had a show, a national show, and she would use that television program to talk about a book that she liked. Because Oprah was so popular, millions of people would go out and buy this book, whatever book it was that she recommended.

For many years, Oprah had a talk show on television every day. Talk shows are programs where, usually, famous people come on and are interviewed by the host, or the person who runs the talk show. Oprah’s Book Club was very popular, but sometimes she got into some trouble, or there were some problems with her recommendations. In particular, back in 2006, she recommended a book called “A Million Little Pieces.” The problem with this book is that it said it was a memoir. A “memoir” (memoir) is basically an autobiography – when someone writes the story of their life.

This particular book was about a man who was addicted to certain drugs. When we say you're “addicted,” we mean that you can't control yourself. You have to get more and more of this drug, and the author of this book said that he was an addict. Well, it turns out that this – we later found out that this story was not completely true, that the man had lied in part. Because Oprah was – and in some ways, at the time of this recording, still is – a very influential person, a lot of people were upset that this book had been recommended. Oprah was upset when she found out. When I say she was influential, I mean she was very powerful.

When she gave a recommendation, people went out and bought this book. Of course, it wasn’t Oprah's fault that this man who wrote the book lied, but it showed one of the problems with recommending books, especially if they are books about controversial topics, as this one in some ways was. However, Oprah continued to be popular, even after this problem in 2006. The Book of the Month Club, one of the original companies that had this concept of sending books to people – you can still join the Book of the Month Club. So, it hasn't died after all these years, and it was, as I said, one of the most successful bookselling companies in U.S. history.

Now let’s answer some of the questions you have sent to us.

Our first question comes from Aline (Aline) in Brazil. Aline wants to know about the best way to open and close a letter or an email – what sort of words and expressions should you use? The most common way of opening an email – of starting an email – or of starting a letter, both formal and informal, is to use the word “Dear,” followed by the person's name. If you are writing a formal email or letter, you would probably use the person's title, such as “Dr.” or “Mr.” or “Ms.” – “Dear “Mr. Smith,” “Dear Dr. Jones.”

Interestingly, there is a slight difference between an informal and a formal letter when it comes to punctuation. After you say “Dear John” or “Dear Mr. Smith,” if it's a formal letter, you use a colon (:), which is basically a period on top of another period. You can think of it that way, although they are in the middle of the letter. If it's an informal email or an informal letter, then you use, typically, a comma (,). It's a small difference, and a lot of people have stopped using colons after the name in what is called the “salutation,” or the first line of a letter or an email.

At the end of a letter or an email, if it's a formal letter or email, we will often say “Sincerely yours.” “Sincerely” (sincerely) comes from the word “sincere,” which is an adjective meaning that you are being truthful, you are being honest, you are saying what you really mean in this letter or in this email. That's the idea behind the phrase or the expression “Sincerely yours.” “I am being sincere.” The word “sincerely” is capitalized – the first letter (S) is capitalized. However, “yours” is not capitalized. Here, you always would put a comma after the word “yours,” never a colon (:).That would only be when it is a formal letter, after the word “Dear.”

“Sincerely yours” is somewhat formal, however. It's not something you would say or write to someone who was a friend of yours. It's not very common anymore on email to see it. You still will see it in a formal email or formal letter. But if it's more informal, you might just use another expression. If it's someone who's very close to you, you might say “Love,” and then your name below. That would only be for someone who you are, in fact, in love with, or perhaps someone in your family.

There are lots of ways you can close, or end, a letter. You can sometimes say something like “Thanks a lot” or “Take care” or, depending on the circumstances, you may wish someone “Good luck.” All of these are possible ways of ending an informal email or letter.

Our next question – actually, we have a couple of questions that aren't from any one specific person, but are questions that I've gotten on email or that have been sent to me that I thought would be interesting to talk about – some particular vocabulary words. The first has to do with the difference between “software” and “hardware.”

“Software” (software) is now used as a general term for any sort of computer program, typically a program that you add to or install on a computer. We use the verb “to install” (install) when we are adding this piece of software to our computer. Notice, we say “a piece (piece) of software.” “Hardware” (hardware) is anything that is physical – physical equipment, physical computer equipment. Your actual laptop or desktop – that is hardware. An external drive, your mouse, your monitor – those are also called hardware.

Our final question has to do with going out and eating, especially at what is called a “buffet.” The word “buffet” (buffet) means a place where you go up and get your own food from a large table or a large place where the food is kept. It has become very popular in the U.S. to have what are called “all you can eat” buffets. “All you can eat” means exactly that. You can eat as much food as you want. Of course, you can’t stay there all day and sleep there and then get up the next morning and continue eating, but within at least the hour or two that you are at the restaurant, you can eat all of the food you want.

There are some restaurants that have these “all you can eat buffets” on the weekends – on Saturday and Sunday – not just at night, but also sometimes in the morning and for lunchtime. We have a special word we give to a meal that is served in the late morning, in between breakfast and lunch. It's called “brunch” (brunch), which is sort of a combination of those two words, “breakfast” and “lunch.”

“Brunch” has become very popular in many places in the U.S., especially on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Many restaurants have a special menu. They serve special food. One popular option is to offer relatively inexpensive champagne to people. You can have all the champagne you can drink for five dollars or ten dollars. Some of these brunches are also “all you can eat buffets.” They can often be expensive, depending on the restaurant you go to. You could easily pay 25 or 30 dollars in some places here in Los Angeles for an “all you can eat brunch.”

Is the food really that good? Well, not always. Most of the “all you can eat buffets” I have been to have not been very good. Some of them are very good, but they're also very expensive. So, as with everything, you get what you pay for; that is, if you want good-quality food, you're going to have to pay more money.

If you want good-quality answers to your questions, you can just email them to us. Our email address is

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

ESL Podcast’s English Café was written and produced by Dr. Jeff McQuillan and Dr. Lucy Tse. Copyright 2006 by the Center for Educational Development.

software – a computer program; a program one installs or adds to a computer so that one can use the computer to perform a specific task

* Donnell wants to buy some photo editing software so that he can enhance his digital photography collection.

brunch – a meal that is eaten in the late morning or early afternoon, instead of or in between one's morning meal and one's afternoon meal; a meal that comes in between breakfast and lunch

* Phoebe planned to meet with her friends at 11:00 a.m. for brunch.

all-you-can-eat – a type of meal offered at a restaurant for which the customer pays one price to eat as much as that customer wants

* On Saturday nights, the restaurant served an all-you-can-eat buffet for $18 per person.

national holiday – federal holiday; a holiday or special day that is recognized by the government, causing all government offices and many non-government businesses to close

* Columbus Day is a national holiday to celebrate the journey of Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492.

civil rights – a set of basic rights that every adult should have, allowing him or her to have the same level of participation in government as any other adult has; services or activities that every person should have equal claim to

* When Lamont did not get the job because the employer did not like his religious beliefs, it was a violation of Lamont’s civil rights.

racial – dealing with one's race or the color of one's skin; of or resulting from the difference between ethnicities (a group of people whose families come from the same region or section of the world)

* Our school has large populations of Latino, Asian, and African American students, but few racial tensions.

discrimination – the act of treating someone in a negative way, because that person belongs to a different group; the act of treating someone unfairly because that person is different from oneself

* The club owners were accused of discrimination when they would not welcome any members who had a physical disability.

to honor (someone) – to remember someone and acknowledge or give attention to that person's accomplishments, contribution, or importance

* The students held a memorial service to honor Mr. Stead, a great teacher who had helped many of them, but who died in an accident two months ago.

memoir – an autobiography; the written true story one writes about one’s own life or personal experiences

* In her memoir, the actress wrote about the all the school and church plays that she performed in as a child.

addicted – a state or condition in which one uses something obsessively and finds it very difficult to stop

* Faustino is addicted to coffee and has to have eight cups every day.

it turns out – the result; the outcome; the reason; a phrase used to introduce the eventual result or conclusion of something

* Rosa thought that her friends were angry at her, but it turns out that they were ignoring her because they were planning a surprise party.

talk show – a TV or radio show in which a host invites guests to appear on the show and discuss things that viewers would be interested in knowing

* The talk show had a very serious episode last week when the host talked with victims of child abuse.

influential – powerful; able to control or affect the decisions others make and the way others behave

* Dr. Wadlow is very influential at the university, and the entire administrative board listens to what she says.

book club – a group of people who read the same book or books, especially when people in the group discuss those books with each other

* Derek joined a science fiction book club because he wanted to discuss his favorite type of novels with other fans.

dear – a common way to begin a letter; a term used to show affection or respect

* When writing to her mother, Charlotte began by writing, “Dear Mom.”

sincerely – a common and formal way to close or end a letter; with honesty or honest respect

* After finishing the letter to his employer, Bennett wrote, “Sincerely, Bennett.”

closing – the conclusion or end of something; the final or last line of a letter, above one’s signature

* The speech was so long that everyone in the audience felt relieved when the speaker got to her closing.

What Insiders Know
The End of a Letter

In this English Cafe, we discussed how to end a letter using “sincerely,” “cordially,” and “love.” But what else do you put at the end of a letter?

In a formal business letter, you may find these two very common and useful “abbreviations” (letters representing a word or phrase). After you sign your name above your printed name and your job title you may see “cc:” and/or “encl.” This is how each abbreviation is used:

cc: = carbon copy; used if you intend to give a copy of this letter to someone else and you want the person who receives the original letter to know that
For example:
cc: Ramona T. Hung
Customer Service Representative

encl. = enclosure; used if you are including other papers in the same envelope as the letter; you do not need to list what the enclosures are.

If you use both abbreviations, it should look like this:

Julie S. Ulan, Ph.D
Associate Professor

cc: Herman Landor, M.D.
Chief of Surgery


上一篇:004 Topics: Filming in LA, Howard Stern, Worst Dressed Americans, Lolita, New Macs, Dove or Pigeon?, Color Bracelets, "Do you get it?"

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