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006 Topics: Healthcare in the United States; Johnny Cash; as if; to get (one’s) ya-yas; to put an animal to sleep

时间:2018-05-01   访问量:2707   View PDF
Complete Transcript
You’re listening to ESL Podcast’s English Café number 6.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast’s English Café episode 6. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California. Go to our website at

On this episode, we’re going to talk about health care in the United States. We’re also going to talk about one of the most famous singers in 20th century American music, Johnny Cash. And as always, we’ll answer some of your questions. Let's get started.

Our first topic today is healthcare. “Healthcare” refers to what people do to keep their bodies healthy; specifically, it refers to the places they go, such as to a doctor or to some sort of hospital or clinic. Healthcare is provided through what we call the “medical system.” “Medical” (medical) comes from the word “medicine,” which refers to the things that you give your body in order to be healthy, or in order to get over or to recover from some sort of sickness or illness. The medical system includes the hospitals, doctors, and other organizations used to keep people healthy in a certain country or place.

Many countries around the world have what we would call “socialized medicine,” where all or most of your medical care – your hospitals, your doctors, and so forth – are paid for by the national government. In the United States, we do not have a system like that, at least not like you will find in countries such as Great Britain. We have, for the most part, a private system. This is a system where you, the individual, or the company you work for, has to purchase or buy health insurance. “Health insurance” is sold by private companies, and like all insurance, is basically a contract or an agreement between you and a company that says you will pay a certain amount of money, and if you get sick, if something goes wrong, the insurance company will pay for all or part of your expenses, in this case, your medical bills.

It's very expensive to get sick in the United States because healthcare, especially doctors and hospitals, are very expensive. In order to help people who may have difficulty paying for health insurance, the U.S. federal or national government has two important programs. The first program is called “Medicare,” and the second is called “Medicaid.” These two programs were set up by the national government back in the middle of the 1960’s to help people who needed help with their medical bills and who did not have private insurance, or at least could not easily obtain or get it.

The first program, “Medicare” (Medicare), is to help people who are over the age of 65. As we get older, of course, we often need more medical care. “Medicare” – a combination of the words “medical” and “care” – was set up to help the older population, what we might call the “elderly.” “Elderly” (elderly) is someone who is old. How old? Well that depends on how old you are. If you are 50 years old, you may think that elderly is someone over 65 or 70. If you’re 65 or 70, you might think elderly as someone over the age of 80 and so forth. My nieces and nephews in their twenties probably think I’m elderly. Well, if you are over the age of 65, you can get help paying your medical expenses by becoming part of the Medicare program.

The other major or important program by the national government to help people with their health care costs is called “Medicaid.” “Medicaid” (Medicaid) – a combination of the words “medical” and “aid,” which means “help” – is a program for people who do not have a lot of money, what we would call “low-income people.” “Income” (income) is the money you get from a job or from your work. If you are “low-income,” you don't have very much money. If you are “high-income,” you have a lot of money. Medicaid is a program to help people who are low-income, who don't have a lot of money. It's especially for families with children under the age of 18, but also for women who are pregnant, who are expecting or are soon going to have a baby. These are the people who are primarily helped by the Medicaid program. It’s basically like Medicare but for poor people who are not yet 65 years old.

I won't “go into” or discuss the details of these programs, because the requirements and the benefits, or the things you get from the program, change from year to year. For example, Medicaid is a program that you have to qualify for, you have to prove that you are poor enough to be part of the program, and those requirements sometimes change from year to year, and might even change from state to state. “To qualify (qualify)” here means to be able to enter the program, to meet the requirements of the program.

Even with these two large programs, there are still millions of Americans who are “uninsured.” “To be insured” (insured) means to have in, this case, health insurance, so if you get sick, you don't have to pay all of the bills yourself. “To be uninsured” means that you do not have health insurance. The prefix “un” basically means “not.” So, you are not insured if you are “uninsured.” Healthcare in the United States will continue to change. There are new laws that have changed the way the health care system works, but the two major programs that the national government has right now, are the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

Our second topic on this Café is one of the most famous singers in twentieth-century America, at least one of the most famous singers to people living here in the United States, and that person is Johnny Cash. Johnny Cash was born in February of 1932 in the state of Arkansas, which is located in the central part of the United States. He was born in what we might describe as a “rural area.” “Rural” (rural) means outside of the big cities. We might also use the term “country” to describe someone who lives somewhere other than a big city or town.

The word “country” in the United States can refer to a nation like the United States, and Canada, and Mexico, and so forth. But it can also refer to an area outside of or not part of a big city. Johnny Cash was someone who was born in a rural area, and also someone who became famous singing a kind of music called – what else? – “country music.”

Johnny Cash served in or was a member of the U.S. military during the early 1950’s, and when he was in the military, he learned to play the guitar. After his military service was over, Johnny Cash moved to Memphis, Tennessee, which is not too far from Arkansas, in order to pursue his music. “To pursue” (pursue) means to go after, to try to get, to try to obtain. In this case, he was pursuing a musical career. He wanted to become a musician.

Cash was exposed to, or was influenced by, a lot of different kinds of music growing up in Arkansas. He listened to folk songs or traditional songs. He listened to hymns, songs sung in churches. He had a lot of different musical influences, which were later reflected or heard in his own music. He started performing with some other musicians at small events in the area of Memphis. Eventually, he was discovered by, or he was found by, a man by the name of Sam Phillips from a famous record company at that time, “Sun Records.” Johnny Cash signed with or made an agreement with Sun records in 1955 and started recording music for them.

Within a very short amount of time – about two years – Johnny Cash was the top or most popular singer in the area of country music. His music was often focused on people who were poor. He also sung songs that were related to social and political topics. One of the most famous things about Cash was his clothing. He always wore black clothing. In fact, he was known as “the Man in Black.”

During the early and middle parts of the 1960’s, however, Cash had a difficult time. He, like many music stars, had problems with drugs, and drug addiction. He then married a woman by the name of June Carter in 1968, and in the late 1960’s, Johnny Cash began to become popular again. He recorded a very well-known album called “Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison” in 1968. This was an album that was recorded in front of a group of prisoners – people in jail – at one of California's largest prisons called Folsom Prison. The concert and the record were both very successful and helped Cash become even more popular. He continued to record albums. In fact, for a short time he even had his own television show – The Johnny Cash Show, which I sort of remember watching when I was a very young boy. It was on television from 1969 to 1971.

During the 1980’s, Johnny Cash’s music was no longer as popular as it was in the late 1960’s and early 70’s. But in the early 1990’s, he once again became popular. That happens sometimes with singers and artists – they become very popular, then people sort of forget about them, and then they become popular again with a new, younger generation of people. That’s what happened to Cash. He started to record records and continued recording records up until the time of his death in September of 2003.

He received many awards for his music. He won 13 Grammy awards. The “Grammy (Grammy) Awards” are given to the best singers and to the best songs in the United States. Cash also won many other awards, especially for his country music. He wrote an autobiography, that is, he wrote the story of his own life, called Man in Black, which appeared in the early 1970’s. In 2005, there was a movie about Johnny Cash's life, which you might want to watch. It was called “Walk the Line,” which is also the name of a famous song by Cash. The movie is all about the life of Johnny Cash, and I think if you want to understand a little bit more about country music and the culture of country music in the United States, that would be an excellent movie to watch.

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

Our first question comes from Kei (Kei) in Japan. The question has to do with a very common phrase in English, “as if.” For example, “He talks as if he knew what he was talking about.” “As if” means the same as “like” or “as though.” It's an expression we use to compare one thing to another. One confusion that people have is what to do with the verb that follows the phrase “as if.” Technically, the grammatically correct way is to use a verb in the past tense. “He talks as if he knew what he was talking about.” Notice that “knew” is the past tense of the verb “know.”

However, in normal conversation nowadays, it has become very common, and very acceptable, for people to use the present tense as well as the past tense after the phrase “as if.” People will now say, “He talks as if he knows what he is talking about.” Again, notice the use of the present tense there instead of the past tense. Either form has become acceptable, although, again, traditional grammar books will tell you that it must be in the past tense if it comes after “as if.” The same is true for the phrase “as though.”

Our second question comes from Jose (Jose) Maria (Maria). I’m not sure what country Jose Maria is from – Spain, perhaps? – but I will answer his question. He heard an expression on a television show, once a very popular television show in the U.S., called “Friends.” The expression was “to get your ya-yas.” “To get your ya-yas” (ya-yas) means to have something that excites you, something that interests you. There might be a sense when this expression is used of some sort of sexual excitement, but it can be used for other things as well. It is, however, very informal. It's very much of a slang expression. I don't think it's as popular now as it was in the 1990’s when “Friends” was a popular television show here in the U.S., but you may still hear people use this expression. “To get your ya-yas” means to get excited, to have something that interests you or gives you some pleasure. Because of the possibly sexual nature of the phrase. it's not an expression that you would want to use among people that you don't know very well, and certainly not in a formal situation, not at work.

Our final question is one that comes from one of the many emails that we've received. The expression is “to put an animal to sleep.” “To put an animal to sleep” means to kill an animal, usually because the animal is sick or hurt. When we use the expression “to put a dog to sleep,” for example, we mean that we are killing the dog, but we are doing so in a way that doesn't hurt the dog. We’re not shooting the dog with a gun or anything. We’re probably giving it a drug that will kill it. Another word you might hear in this context is “euthanize” (euthanize). “To euthanize a dog” means to kill a dog, to put a dog to sleep. It's a nice way of saying “to kill an animal.”

If you have a question or comment, you can email us. Our email address is

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

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

medical – related to health and medicine; dealing with the practice of researching and treating illness

* Researchers and doctors are still hoping to make medical breakthroughs that can cure cancer.

socialized medicine – a healthcare system in which most of the medical care, including hospitals and doctors, are provided and paid for by the government

* When discussing whether or not government should be responsible for medical care, the students had to use examples of socialized medicine from countries like Canada and Cuba.

health insurance – an agreement with a company or business that pays part of the cost or the full cost for one’s health bills in exchange for small monthly payments

* Thanks to Trevor’s health insurance, he only had to pay $100 toward a surgery that costs thousands of dollars.

Medicare – a type of government aid that pays the cost of health and medical bills for people over the age of 65 and for some disabled people under the age of 65

* Delores was 67 years old when she had her stroke, so she was already eligible for Medicare assistance.

elderly – old; relating to people who are at an old or advanced age

* The restaurant had a special elderly discount which allowed anyone over the age of 65 to eat there for half price on Wednesdays.

Medicaid – a type of government aid in the United State that pays the cost of health and medical bills for people who do not have much money

* After Raymond lost his job, he had to go on Medicaid to afford treatment for his heart condition.

low income – a financial state in which one does not earn much money

* The scholarship offered extra financial support to students coming from low income families.

to qualify – to meet the requirements to receive a service; to have the necessary qualities or conditions to take part in an activity or service

* The team’s score was not high enough, so they did not qualify to play in the championship.

uninsured – without health or medical insurance; responsible for the full cost of one’s health and medical bills

* Etsuko is uninsured and cannot afford the surgery she needs.

country music – folk music of the southern United States; a style of American music that is most common to the southern parts of the United States and is usually played on stringed instruments, like the guitar, fiddle, or banjo

* Bernard’s favorite style of music is country music, and he especially enjoys the classic hits of Johnny Cash.

rural – outside of and far away from large cities; dealing with sections of the country in which a small number of people live, especially when those areas include farms and ranches

* Louisa was tired of living a rural life, so when she turned 18, she left her parent’s farm and moved to Philadelphia.

as if – like; as though; an expression used to compare one thing to another in an attempt to describe that thing

* Catalina got angry at her sister, as if it were her sister’s fault that their parents caught them sneaking out of the house late at night.

to get (one's) ya-yas – to get excited by something, sometimes meant in a sexual way

* Rolando got his ya-yas by doing dangerous things like skydiving and bungee jumping.

to put an animal to sleep – to euthanize an animal, usually because the animal is too ill or hurt to recover; to humanely or gently kill an animal by injecting a drug into the animal that causes it to fall asleep and die

* Arielle’s dog had a very painful back problem that would not improve, so the veterinarian recommended that they put the animal to sleep.

What Insiders Know
A Top-of-the-Line Checkup

Many people go to their doctor regularly for a checkup, taking “routine” or standard tests to make sure that nothing is wrong with them. A 2008 report says that some doctor’s offices are offering “top-of-the-line” or the very best checkups that money can buy. In one “clinic” (office with several doctors), you can get a “Presidential Physical,” which will give you the same medical exams that the President of the United States gets each year. What’s the cost? About $1400.

Why would anyone pay this much for a medical exam? Some people say these special checkups are a reaction to the fact that “primary physicians” (general doctors; not specialists) see hundreds of “patients” (people who are treated by doctors) and normally spend less than 15 minutes with each one. In these special programs, the doctors see fewer patients and make patients feel like they’re getting more attention and better care.

Some “critics” (people who has a bad opinion of something) say that these programs are not necessary. While it’s a good idea for doctors to spend more time with patients, most of the special tests that are done are unnecessary and a waste of money. In fact, some people say doctors may be “tempted” (enticed to do something even if it’s wrong or that won’t be beneficial) to order tests that aren’t “appropriate” (suitable; right) because some doctors are paid for how much care they give. Even if they are a waste, do these special checkups do any harm? Some critics say that with so many unnecessary tests, patients may “demand” (insist; ask for very strongly) treatment or surgery for the smallest or the most harmless conditions.

上一篇: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

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