Writing Analysis: Tony Sparkle (Intermediate)

Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!

In this podcast, Jill and Steve discuss a corrected writing submission from Tony, a student of TheLinguist from Taiwan. If you are a member of TheLinguist and you too would like to have your writing analyzed, please let us know.

Steve: Hi, Jill.

Jill: Hi, Steve, how are you?

Steve: I’m fine, thank you.

Jill: Good.

Steve: We are ‘who are we?

We are EnglishLingQ.com, which we spell English E N G L I S H Lingq L I N G Q, EnglishLingq.com and we hope that we are providing an interesting Podcast on English at different levels and, today, it’s kind of like an intermediate level on subjects of interest to people and, in particular, to members of The Linguist, thelinguist.com, which is our English learning website. Jill, what have you got for us today?

Jill: So, in our previous Podcasts, we have been talking about useful phrases and words from some of our content; some of our easy content; some of our more difficult content. Today, we are actually going to talk about a writing submission that one of our long-time members submitted.

On The Linguist you can submit writing and we correct it for you and send it back. So, Tony is a member from Taiwan.

Steve: Tony has been with us for a long time.

Jill: Yeah, for two and a half years.

Steve: Wow!

Jill: One of our first members and definitely the longest-running member that we’ve ever had on The Linguist. He is very keen. He is a very hard worker

Steve: and he has improved a lot.

Jill: He’s improved; it’s amazing how much he’s improved since he first started. He has saved, you know, 12,000 words and phrases. He’s learned about 7,000 of them, so that means he’s, you know, reviewed them enough times, tested them, so they’ve become known words.

Steve: These are all the statistics that we generate in The Linguist System, so that the learners can keep track of their progress, which, I think, for many people, certainly for me, that would be quite motivating just to see that all my efforts are actually because sometimes you feel gees, I’ve been at it and, you know, sometimes you feel you are speaking well and then you are in a situation where you’re kind of stumbling and not able to say what you want to say.

Jill: You feel like you are not progressing and you get discouraged, but. Yes, so we have all these statistics. You know, just in the past year, he?s listened for over 200 hours.

Steve: Wow.

Jill: So, he’s worked very hard and it’s paid off.

He’s made a lot of progress. So, we’re going to talk about one of his writing submissions today and just some of the useful phrases in it, maybe some of the mistakes he made and then, also, a little bit his submission is about having a tooth pulled, so we may also speak a little bit about experiences that we’ve had.

Steve: You know, we should say, too, that we are very happy to get requests from our learners. We are only too happy to respond to specific requests. Obviously, in this modern world of Podcasting, we don’t know who we’re talking to out there, but we are particularly interested in looking after our learners.

So, when we get a request like this from Tony, ‘Please talk about my writing submission’, we are just only too happy to do it. Jill: Right; exactly. So, as I said, Tony submitted some writing about having his teeth pulled and how it was not a very pleasant experience. So, we’ll just talk about some of the phrases.

Steve: Alright. Which phrases, in particular, did you find?

Jill: Well, you know, he started out saying ‘last Friday’, which is correct. I thought it was sort of important to bring up because a lot of people don’t know how to express something that happened last week. They will say ‘since last Friday’ or ‘since Friday’ or ‘before Friday’ or ‘some days ago’.

They have, sometimes, a hard time figuring out how to say that so, I just thought that was useful; ‘last Friday’ meaning this past Friday, one that has already passed. Then, he went on to say ‘This was not my first time of being pulled teeth’, which is not correct. Steve: Right.

Jill: And, basically, our correction, we replaced it with ‘This was not my first time having a tooth pulled. ‘ Steve: Right.

It’s interesting, ‘first time’ to have something done. He could have said ‘This was not my first time to have a teeth pulled.’ ‘My first time having a tooth pulled’ or ‘to have a tooth pulled’. Jill: That’s right.

Steve: If he had said ‘This is not my first time pulling teeth’ that would suggest that he was the dentist. Jill: He’s the dentist. He’s the one pulling the teeth.

Steve: Right.

I wouldn’t want to be the patient if it was the first time that he’s pulling teeth.

Jill: Exactly. Then, he goes on to say ‘is probably a horrible one in my pulling teeth history’. So, our correction was ‘is probably the most horrible one in my dental history’. So, we corrected it. A lot of people have problems with that, ‘the most’. Steve: The other thing that’s there is both those phrases are very sort of Chinese-inspired. Tony’s native language is Chinese.

I’m not sure whether it’s Taiwanese or Mandarin, but I know he speaks both. But, you know, he says ‘a horrible one in my pulling teeth history’. In English we have to say ‘in my history of having my teeth pulled’. You can’t have ‘my pulling teeth history’, but in Chinese you can. Jill: Right.

Steve: It’s a very efficient way. I mean, Chinese, in that sense, to my mind, is more efficient than English, but we just don’t say it.

Jill: Right.

Steve: So, very often, I know Chinese people will say, you know, ‘my on top of the hill house’. No; ‘my house, which is on top of the hill’. We have to use a separate phrase or a separate clause there.

Jill: Lots of added words in there. And, again, ‘the most’, which means, you know, you are comparing it to any other occurrence. Steve: Right; a very good point. He said ‘but is probably a horrible one in my pulling teeth history’. Yeah, we would normally say ‘the most horrible one’ Jill: emphasizing that it’s the worst. It’s worse than any other dental experience that he’s had. Then, he goes on to say ‘The doctor spent about double times struggling pulling my giant tooth.’ So, we changed it to ‘spent about twice the usual amount of time’. Steve: You know, it’s very difficult. I mean, ‘double time’.

Double time, normally, to me, suggests someone I go back to when I had football practice in high school and I had to run double time. That means we had to make twice as many, you know, steps within the same amount of time. Double time

Jill: And, we use that, too, again?

Steve: Or for overtime we talk about double overtime. No.

Jill: double overtime, but not double time. But, yeah, I have that in some exercise classes that I do. It’s the same thing. You know, you’re doing something single time and then they’ll say do it double time, so you do it quicker. But, we don’t use it in the sense that.

Steve: But, I would say, it’s a very honest mistake.

It points out that we are always best to use, where we can, phrases that we have seen before and because we don’t say double time in that sense, which is not something that Tony would know. But, yeah, sometimes I find we have to try, very often, try to use a few more words. Don’t try to shorten everything up. Because you’re shortening it up into a phrase it may, in fact, not be a phrase that works.

Jill: Right, right.

Steve: So, the correct phrase is ‘twice the usual amount of time’. The doctor spent twice the usual amount of time. Or, he could have said, the doctor spent twice as much time as normal or twice as much time as usual.

So, there’s always more than one way to translate these things. There’s also more than one way to be wrong, of course.

Jill: Of course.

Jill: Tony goes on to say ‘I felt my jaw seemed to be’. And, you know, of course, we changed it to ‘My jaw felt like it was being’. Steve: This is a very important structure and I have mentioned it to Tony before. ‘Seemed as if’; ‘felt as if’; ‘I felt my jaw seem to be torn off.’ No.

‘I felt as if my jaw’ I don’t know what other translation’? My jaw felt like it was being torn off? or ‘I felt as if my jaw was being torn off? or ‘It seemed as if my jaw was being torn off’.

The ‘felt’ Jill: or ‘It seemed like my jaw’ Steve: ‘It seemed like’, but you can’t have the ‘felt’ and the ‘seemed’. That’s overkill. You don’t need them both. So, what I would suggest to Tony or others is, save the word ‘feel’ or ‘felt’, ‘felt like’ or whatever, and save the word ‘seem’ or ‘seemed’ and see what kinds of example sentences you generate in the Review Section of The Linguist. Those are very useful structures; ‘felt like’, ‘seemed as if’, you know, ‘felt as if’ and so, you’ve really got to get to where you can use them because you need to use them all the time.

To me, that’s a more important structure than ‘double time’ or ‘twice the usual amount of time’; that’s fine. But, this one here, Tony should get right.

Jill: Yeah, yeah, that’s right.

Steve: If I were correcting I would put an unhappy picture there

Jill: to emphasize.

Steve: Emphasize; not good, not good.

Jill: Then, Tony goes on to say there was a ‘big hurt in my jaw’. So, there can’t be a hurt. You can have a pain. You can be hurt.

Steve: Right.

Sometimes the word ‘hurt’ is used as a noun when we are talking about emotional hurt, you know.

Jill: Right.

I felt hurt. Somebody hurt my feelings.

Steve: Well, hurt my feelings, but it was ‘I think we sometimes use it as a noun; maybe not, okay. Jill: Yeah.

Steve: But, at any rate, ‘it hurt’ the verb. It hurt, okay, or there was great pain.

Jill: Exactly. There wasn’t a big hurt. You can’t say that.

Steve: No.

Jill: Then, he goes on to say ‘Over the past week, I could not eat anything but drink some milk or eat some cereal only.

So, we changed it to ‘Over the past week, I could not eat anything except milk and cereal. ‘ Steve: Right.

I don’t like to disagree with our Correctors, but one of the things that I think is very important is consistency. So, even in the correction, we say ‘I could not eat anything except milk’. Well, we don’t eat milk.

Jill: No.

Steve: We drink milk.

Jill: Right.

Steve: So, we should really, then, use a few more words and that was partly what was wrong with Tony, here. ‘I could not eat anything but drink’. In a way, he’s a little better; he’s trying.

Jill: He’s trying to do that, yeah.

Steve: I could not eat anything. Stop. ‘I could only drink milk.’ But, of course, it’s not that he could not eat anything. ‘I could not eat everything’, really. Jill: Yeah.

Steve: I could only drink milk and eat some cereal. And, he should probably mention that it’s a very loose cereal. Or, maybe not; cereal is pretty soft.

Jill: Well, once the milk gets in there it softens it up quite a lot.

Steve: Yeah. And that’s one of those structures where, I mean, we can’t sit here very quickly and come up with the best way of doing it.

But, very often, when you are stuck like that use more words.

Jill: Use more words, exactly. Make it into two sentences.

Steve: Right.

Jill: Often, people are afraid of that. They are trying to get all their thoughts into one sentence and sometimes, you know, it’s fine. Just put a period and then continue on with a new sentence.

Steve: You know, I think in writing, short sentences are key. And, the second thing is make sure the meaning is clear. If the meaning is not totally clear to you, if there is any ambiguity, right, — ‘ambiguity’ means uncertain meaning, if there is any ambiguity or uncertainty, if it’s not clear to you writing it, it for sure won’t be clear to the person reading it.

Jill: Right.

Steve: So, it’s always worthwhile to use extra words, make a stop, start a new sentence, make sure it’s clear.

Jill: And, you know, a lot of people have that problem. I see it in writing submissions all the time; you know, using a lot of run-on sentences, as we call them. So, you know, they have this thought and it just goes on and on and on in one sentence and then they’re confused and it’s impossible to follow as the reader and now you don’t even know what they’re talking about anymore. And so, better to have, you know, a few more sentences, but shorter sentences.

Steve: Right.

So, the two last points that I think are quite important in this — one is the idea of consistency. I couldn’t eat anything but drink milk. No, that doesn’t work. You’ve got ‘If I couldn’t eat anything except cereal, I could also drink milk. If you are talking about ‘eat’, then talk about things that you eat. Jill: food.

Steve: Well, food that you eat; that’s right. If it’s something that you drink, you have to introduce a separate verb to deal with the drinking situation.

Jill: Or, you could say, I could not eat or drink anything except milk.

Steve: That’s right. Or, I couldn’t consume anything or whatever. But, if you are using the word ‘eat’ it implies that you are chewing it.

Jill: That’s right.

Steve: We drink liquids. So, one issue here is to be consistent and the other one is to make sure that what you have to say is clear. Don’t be afraid to make more short sentences.

Jill: And a couple more important phrases here. Again, he goes on to say ‘I went to see the dentist who checked the hurt of my mouth.’ So, we corrected it and said ‘to check the condition of my mouth’. You could say ‘to check the pain in my mouth’ I think would be more accurate. Steve: That’s what I would have put. Yeah, I think, because Tony is trying to say that he went to the doctor because his mouth was sore.

So, he asked the doctor to check out why his mouth was sore; to check what was causing the pain in his mouth.

Jill: Right.

Then, he said ‘The doctor told me that my hurt recovered very well.’ So, that ‘my jaw’ recovered very well; that, you know, you could say ‘my cut’ Steve: I would not have said ‘my jaw’ just that I had recovered very well. I mean, what we are talking specifically about is the tooth, the roots of the teeth, the gums’ it’s just that Tony’s recovered. Jill: Yeah, yeah.

Steve: But, yeah, certainly, I don’t envy Tony and I wouldn’t want to have been him in that situation.

Jill: No.

At the end of his writing submission, actually, he does go on to say, or within it he says, that the dentist had to try many times. It wouldn’t come out, so he had to keep pulling it and so I’m sure that was horrible. And, at the end, Tony goes on to say that the dentist said another wisdom tooth is coming in crookedly or not properly and it’s going to need to be pulled as well. And so, it was, you know, not the news that Tony wanted to hear after that experience.

Steve: My advice to Tony: get another dentist.

Jill: Exactly! Get another dentist.

Steve: Get another dentist.

The other thing that I would like to ask Tony is, as an experiment when he goes to have his next wisdom tooth pulled, see if he can listen to The Linguist English Content while he’s having his teeth pulled.

Jill: Maybe it will distract him from the pain.

Steve: This is part of our experiment. It’s possible that having your teeth pulled stimulates certain neurons in your brain and that might be beneficial for language learning. We can run a little experiment.

Jill: A new experiment.

Steve: Okay. Poor Tony; that wasn’t a very pleasant experience, but it was an interesting article. Okay, I think that probably we’ve covered it.

Jill: I think so.

Steve: So, yeah, let’s just say EnglishLingQ.com, that’s us. We have a variety of type of content.

We have easy stories, we have ordinary conversation; some are easy, some are difficult. We hope people enjoy them. We welcome any feedback. If people are members of The Linguist, we would be happy to respond to any requests. If you want us to talk about a particular item in The Linguist Library that you are studying or if you want us to look at some writing samples that you have submitted for correction, we are only too happy to do that. Okay. Thank you.

Jill: See you next time.

Steve: Bye, bye.

Jill: Bye, bye.

3 Ways To Jumpstart Your Home-Based Business (Intermediate)

Study this episode and any others from the LingQ English Podcast on LingQ! Check it out.

There are few things more thrilling in the business world than starting your own business. This excellent article explains how to create your own business start-up and succeed.
High-Frequency Words: 82%   Academic Words: 8%

A lot of people do not realize that entrepreneurs play a big role in our society.

When you put the total number of entrepreneurs together, they count as the biggest financial contributors to our nation’s wealth. If only politicians would give grants to finance small business start-ups, the economy’s growth could be hastened.

Knowing the obvious financial rewards and the important role to society of business owners, many individuals aspire to be entrepreneurs.

The fact remains, however, that several business start-ups fail and never take-off from the ground because of one thing: the lack of adequate and sufficient knowledge on how to start a profitable business. In this article, I will attempt to give practical strategies on how to run a successful business start-up.

First: find opportunities in your own backyard. Look at the demand side by observing your neighborhood. It is good to assess the close-to-home demand for starters. Aside from familiarity with the area, familiarity with the customer will be an enormous advantage.

Your neighborhood is not strictly your home address. It can be any area that you may be familiar with. It can be the university vicinity. After all, a student spends more time in school vis-à-vis his home.

Familiarity with the demand in the area will reveal these business opportunities.

To cite an example: You are into baking cakes. Why not check if there is an opportunity to supply your local diners with your baked products? Find out if the neighborhood needs another supplier of baked goods. If there is no such demand in your familiar area, look for another area where your supply has its demand.

Statements like these indicate a desire for something that is not yet available in the area. This approach is based on one’s familiarity with the demand.

Secondly, choose an opportunity that brings out the best in you. Do not choose an opportunity purely because of its income potential. Income is a natural consequence of the entrepreneur’s passion as expressed in the enterprise set-up.

Nevertheless, before choosing the opportunity, spend sometime defining your personal vision, mission, and values. This is a key foundation of great entrepreneurs. They know what they want for themselves, (personal vision,) they know what they live for-this is a “personal mission,” they know what they live by-these are their “personal values.” These three items constitute the foundation of passion.

Equally important is doing a personal assessment. What are you good at? What are you not good at? In other words, you must know thyself. Great entrepreneurs know themselves very well.

Only when these are satisfactorily answered can you decide when opportunities are to be seized. It is noteworthy, however, that when opportunity-seeking is made, it is not pre-screened by personal wants and capabilities.

Do not screen out opportunities just because you do not have the capability to do it. Seek and identify the opportunities that are present/available in your area. Thereafter, screen them against your personal vision, mission, and values. These screened opportunities are those that you can be passionate about. You will be passionate about it because it will serve as a vehicle for you to achieve your personal vision, mission and values.

After having decided which opportunity to pursue, seize it! Seize it very quickly since the windows of opportunity are open, but can close just as fast. Keep in mind that you are not the only person who is looking for opportunities to seize. Remember that there are others who have eyes, ears, and other senses to identify opportunities. Entrepreneurs seize with swiftness of the wind.

Lastly, use your personal assessment to guide you in determining how this opportunity can be seized quickly. If you have the capabilities to do it by yourself, then do not wait any further. Implement it at once. Do not be BIG right away. Start small, relative to your resources and capabilities. When your business model works, there will be plenty of people willing to lend money to you. Implement at once!

People who wait for some body else to successfully operate the business before proceeding on their own are not entrepreneurs, they are investors and are not necessarily entrepreneurs.

Real entrepreneurs do not wait for somebody else to start moving. Real entrepreneurs are pioneering-they are “entrepioneers. “

Your Child’s Disability: Life, Love and Hope (Intermediate)

Study this episode and any others from the LingQ English Podcast on LingQ! Check it out.

Every child is beautiful, and some of the most beautiful children are born with terrible disabilities. Listen to this article which makes one very important point: finding out that your child has a disability is NOT the end of the world.

Finding Out Your Child Has a Disability: It’s Not the end of the World.

Finding out that a child has been born with a disability, or that a previously healthy child has suffered an injury or disease that causes a disability can be the most traumatic experience in a parent’s life. Shock is usually the first thing people experience. It can temporarily paralyze you, preventing you from taking action, or even making rational decisions.In this difficult first period it is always wise to take the counsel of professionals and family members with experience or others whom you trust, while always maintaining the right to make the final decision yourselves.

After coming to grips with the shock of their situation, many parents come to feel that their expectations have been dashed, that they are failures as parents or that their family has been destroyed. Uncertainty, blame or jealousy may arise. Parents may worry about hundreds of questions that have few immediate answers which can lead to an unbalanced and overly bleak view of the opportunities, potential, and joy that can be found in raising a child with a disability.

These emotions however are normal; part of a “mourning” process that many parents of children with disabilities go through.If you have these feelings, remember that you are not the only ones who feel this way, and that you will get over them. You can adjust more quickly by obtaining accurate information, sharing your feelings openly with others, seeking professional counseling, and, most importantly, having open discussions with all members of your immediate family. With time, love, and support, any negative emotions you feel can be replaced by positive ones leading to productive actions that will benefit your child.

It is not the end of the world, and many families have become stronger, more loving, and more closely knit because of a disability in the family. The disability gave them the opportunity to work together to help out their loved one, and the entire family shares in the gains that are made by the child.Many of the negatives that parents imagine that go along with having a child who has a disability simply do not occur. While you will have to make some sacrifices, you will still have time for your friends, family, and hobbies. After awhile, many of the activities you once viewed as sacrifices will come to be seen as part of every life, rather than an exceptional burden.

Developing a positive attitude is very important, and although children with disabilities will inevitably become aware of their limitations, they should always be encouraged to take on new challenges. This is sometimes difficult as children with physical limitations may be reluctant to participate in physical activities out of fear of failure. Despite these fears, both the child’s and the parent’s perspective should be “have fun, and do your best.”

Some parents of children with disabilities are unable to have their special child live at home with them, but the vast majority is able to successfully manage within the home. If you are finding you cannot cope, there are alternatives available that will allow you to maintain a loving relationship with your child while maximizing appropriate care.

The most important factor in a family’s success is the motivation to succeed. If a child realizes that his parents always encourage success and will not be satisfied with anything less than his best effort, he will be motivated to succeed.Never settling for failure becomes part of his character, and his self-esteem will be enhanced and maintained.

There is a wide range of disabilities that affect children but the constant emphasis on always trying your best, reinforced in an atmosphere of warmth and support, will help any child with a disability triumph over the challenge that he will face. Instilling this confidence will help him have faith in himself and work on his own behalf throughout the course of his entire life.

The YMCA (Advanced)

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

In today’s episode, Steve talks to Bill Stewart who is the President of the YMCA in Vancouver. Find out what types of activities the “Y” is involved in. This is an advanced English podcast.

This morning I’m meeting with Bill Stewart who is the President of the YMCA here in Vancouver.

Very nice of you to spend the time to chat with us.

Always a pleasure.

Now, some people are very familiar with the Y, because it is a world-wide organization, but some newcomers to Vancouver may not know what sorts of activities the Y is involved in. Perhaps you could explain some of these.

Sure I’d be happy to. First of all, I guess, I’d talk a little bit about the Y on a worldwide basis.

The Y is in about 130 some countries in the world and it is the largest volunteer membership organization in the world. Its office of the world alliance is in Geneva, Switzerland. Every Y, though, is a very independent organization governed by volunteers at a board of directors level who hire someone like me to be the administrator. So that’s basically how structurally we are organized.

One question, and I’m going to jump in here from time to time, of course YMCA does mean Young Men’s Christian Association. Now are the services or is membership in any way limited by religion?

No, not in Canada and in most countries in the world it wouldn’t be limited to religion.

But I would say that for people coming from other parts of the world they might find that the Y is aimed more at the Christian population rather than indigenous population of that country. Those would be the cases where the Christian population would be the very minority, so one percent or two percent. So, for instance, if you take the YMCA in Malaysia, which is in a Muslim secular country, the Y is the minority and although it serves everyone in terms of religion it can only have members that are Christian.

What’s the situation here in Vancouver?

In Vancouver basically we embrace all religions of the world. We don’t make any demands on people of their religion.

All we ask people to do is believe in our core values, and operate by our guiding principles which are basically the same foundations as every major religion in the world.

So you have members who are Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Jewish, atheist, whatever.

Absolutely.

And one of your main projects recently has been the new Y in Surrey, I believe.

Yes, we have been working on the Y in Surrey for about 6 years now. We are in construction at the present time. We expect to be able to open about mid-September. It’s the first YMCA that has been built in British Columbia in the last 23 years.

From the point of view of someone who has, say, recently immigrated to Canada, what can the Y mean to a family or an individual who has come here, and doesn’t know many people, and is interested to get to know people in this society?

Well, that’s a good question. I think that one of the first things that you have to say about a Y is that a Y is a lifetime experience. So what we would ideally like and we have, are people that join as children, and are still with us when they are grandfathers and grandmothers. In fact, we have one woman that’s over at our South Slope YMCA by Langara and 49th that is ninety-some years old and she continues to swim twice a week and compete in swim races across the province.

And each time she does, of course she wins because there’s no one in her age category!

How old is she again?

She is ninety-two or ninety-three years old! And we have little kids that start in Y’s in our day camps and our camp programs and our membership programs. I think the services that we really offer are that people are able to participate with other people, with similar interests in terms of healthy lifestyles, getting involved in various things we do, and can do that as a family or an individual and can do it over a lifetime.

Typically one thinks of the Y as a place to work out in a gym, or swim or play basketball. Is it just that kind of thing or what are some of the other aspects?

Well, we do a lot of that for sure. But we in fact teach English language, we engage in programs that are international development kind of things in terms of partnerships with other Y’s around the world. We do programs that are designed for employment. One project that we run right now is called YIP which is a youth internship program that is for kids primarily that have dropped out of school and their stories are quite dramatic. We deal with kids right across the province and up into the Yukon. The design is that we help teach them a little bit about what is expected of them when they get a job with an employer. So there’s kind of an attitude-shaping going on for 3 weeks to 4 weeks. And then basically we place them with the Civil Service.

It’s a combination program or a funded program with the federal government Civil Service and they in fact find mentors (we collectively find them mentors) and then they are matched up with a mentor and are able to work with the mentor for an average 8 months to 9 months. For many of these young people it’s the very first time that they have been able to get a little bit of a toe-hold on what employment is all about. And it’s a great thing for the mentors because it’s the very first time in many cases they’ve had to take on the role of a coach and as a bit of a guidance person, role model to young people.

And what we have found is that there has been some tremendous success stories come out of this where kids are then up for actual employment and receive employment offers in the federal service.

That’s certainly an interesting program. I also understand that you provide daycare?

We provide daycare. We are the largest provider of childcare in the province of British Columbia with about 43 centres throughout the Lower Mainland. And they run a range from full-time, under 5 care for children, to out of school care, before school, noon hour care and after school care. And we have some special programs that are also operating in relationship to young women that are finishing school as they’ve been giving birth, so their children are in childcare and they’re finishing up high school. So we’ve got a couple of programs like that, as well.

And do you also run summer camps for children?

We are the largest provider of children’s summer camp programs. We’ve got 3 centres, one is about 94 years old and that is Camp Elphinstone, well known in this part of the world, and actually around the world because about 25 percent of the people that come to that camp are from all over the world. And we have Camp Howdy, which is a little over 50 years old, and we have Camp Deca, which is up in the Caribou country about 6 or 7 hours from here.

So that would be a good opportunity for children who live in Vancouver, and sometimes people who, particularly in the case of recent immigrants, don’t know much about the province they haven’t been out to see much of B.C.,so one could recommend that kids from that background should take advantage and get out and see the rest of the province?

It’s an excellent thing from a couple of points of view; one is just to make a connections with other children, other youth. It’s a great spot to learn about Canadian society and group living. And it’s a great thing in the sense that you can go as a camper and eventually become a leader and from a leader you can become a paid counsellor. So there is quite a range of experiences that people can engage in.

The other great thing is that there are people there from all over the world and even from the lower mainland from all different ethnic and racial backgrounds, so it’s very a mixed affair. That would be one of the important things that we try to do in our English language for instance. We tend to try to have people with a variety of backgrounds as opposed to singular backgrounds.

Do you find, I know in some schools in the Lower Mainland, it can be a problem if there are a lot of students from one particular language group that they will collect together and speak their language? It really doesn’t help them with their English in the long run. What’s been the experience at these camps, do people mix better?

Do people all tend to mix across different language groups or do you still get these little cliques forming?

No, by and large, they would mix. We would have multi-language skills in relationship to the counsellors that are on site. But the language of the camp is English and basically the people that come from around the world to engage in our camp also come to learn English as a part of that experience. That’s our intention. I guess the other thing I should mention is that we have members from all over the world in terms of their origins in our membership, and again the language of the membership is English. Although we do try to have the capability as much as we can, that some of our instructors and service staff have multi-language capabilities.

I’ve often thought it would be an interesting project to have, almost like, an English Language Camp. Again, for people that are struggling with English here in Vancouver, where we would take them out of Vancouver to some of the regional centres in British Columbia for a period of time where they would get to experience what life is like elsewhere. I guess there’s no such activity on right now?

None that I’m aware of. That would be an interesting idea. Some Y’s do sponsor family camps. We have not been able to do those particular camps because our camps are pretty full as they are. We would struggle a little bit to find the space. But yes, there are those kinds of programs, I know, elsewhere and I think they’d probably be very valuable.

In what way do the facilities and services offered by the Y differ from, let’s say, what a community centre offers?

Well, I think in some respects there is a difference in the sense that we’re a volunteer organization, that is volunteer driven. While the community centres can have volunteers, our volunteers are based upon the structure of the organization. We start there; that’s our fundamental belief that volunteers and staff form the partnerships that deliver services. So that’s one difference. The other difference is around the whole area of belonging. Membership; do you belong to something with basically a value-base that we invite people to participate in. So that’s a difference. Again, we are not publicly-funded, we have to make it on our own.

So we ask people to participate with us in a philanthropic way too. We attempt to make sure that no one is ever turned away or denied a YMCA experience for a lack of funds. So people, for instance, that have come to our country that are new immigrants, if they wish to belong to the Y but don’t have the funds for them or their family, the Y will provide scholarships or ways in which they can in fact engage in those membership programs.

Do you have people from the different ethnic communities volunteering at the Y?

Oh yes.

What would be some of the activities that the volunteers would do at the Y?

Well in terms of range of activities, we’ve got people that volunteer to do conversation clubs in English language.

We’ve got people that volunteer to do T-ball, sports programs, basketball. We’ve got people that do karate, counselling, training programs. Quite a variety of coaches.

You do run slo-pitch softball and that kind of thing as well?

Yes, we do, very large programs.

I’ve always felt that a great place for particularly a younger adult immigrant to get to know Canadians is to participate in slo-pitch because it’s really not that difficult to play, and it’s not very competitive and it’s just a great social event!

A great social time! Yes. We do. We operate that particular program for adults out of our South Slope Y. For children we do that mainly in Surrey and Langley.

You keep coming back to the values of the Y. I wonder if you could maybe expand a little bit on some of the core values of the Y?

First of all, the Y has been around in Canada for over 150 years now. It’s been in our city here for about 115 years. It’s been based upon some core values of responsibility, respect, honesty and caring. Those are the kinds of core values that we espouse, and which we try to build into our programs. And when you start there as your framework and then ask yourself the question, how are we making sure that those particular values are in our programs, you start to re-define how you deliver things and what action you might take in response to given situations. So those have been our guiding posts.

And from an organizational basis we have always believed in belonging as a very important thing that people have to have opportunities to belong to something, to believe in something. We believe in leadership, taking leadership, providing leadership opportunities, so the development of leadership skills is a big thing for us. Whether it’s campers in training or counsellors in training, or leaders in training, or whether you’re a volunteer that’s just receiving some training in terms of being able to apply your particular expertise to someone else or with someone else. Those would be important things for us. We are also an organization that believes in serving. There’s a service ethic in our mentality; to serve people. It’s not just from a customer service point of view, but from a service point of view. The other one would be renewal.

We are always an organization that has to be involved in renewing itself. From a business point of view, if you wanted to look at it in business terms, we are a very large social-marketing organization because if the market or need is not apparent in the community and we’re trying to serve something that doesn’t exist, we won’t be there very long. Because we have to be defined by the needs and then if you do that over time you can take a look at all of the things that the Y has created. It’s an amazing story of firsts. We have created more things than any other organization probably in the world because of that defining.

Most people don’t know that basketball was started in YMCA schools, volleyball was started in YMCA schools, modern weightlifting was started in YMCA schools, table tennis was brought to China by YMCA’s. There’s an incredible list of stories.

Very interesting, and I think when you talk about belonging it brings up the word community in my mind and I think it’s also about community-building, bringing people together.

That’s right. We have a very strong belief that people should engage in building community themselves. Everybody’s got a responsibility to take some leadership, to get involved and that we should do for ourselves. Community is not built by other people providing services, community is built by people getting involved to deliver services.

I think that’s an excellent model of a community: people building it themselves rather than waiting for someone to give it to them. And I think that’s a good note to end our discussion on, so thank you very much.

Keys to Success (Intermediate)

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Today we hear from John who has some helpful tips on language learning.
Difficulty Level: Intermediate

How did you learn your native language?

That’s one of the questions that Steve Kaufmann asked himself when he designed The Linguist’s advanced English language learning system.

We teach English via a lot of listening, reading (with audio), and writing.

The keys are vocabulary, phrases, and natural language.

In other words, we don’t start with a picture of an apple, write ‘APPLE’ beneath it, and say the word ‘apple.’ This is incredibly popular in language-learning software and it’s also virtually useless if you’re learning a language.

I mean, unless all you want to be able to do is point at a picture of an apple and say “apple!” then this type of English language learning is excellent. Perfect. Right up your alley.

But suppose you want to learn English that you can actually use. English that you can communicate with. English that you can get a job with. For that, you need the Linguist.

We start with natural, spoken English. Listen to it again and again. And again. Keep listening to it.

We also give you full text of all the audio – so you can learn to read English at the same time as you learn to understand it, and speak it.

It’s natural English. It’s recorded by native speakers. It includes natural words, and – importantly – natural phrases. Learning words and particularly phrases is key. You will start to learn English as the native English speaker speaks it. Then we help you save the words and phrases you’re listening to, by linking them together in your personalized database of the English language.

Putting it all together, the constant listening to English content, the simultaneous reading of English text, and the learning and linking of words and phrases ? and you find that you’re learning English the exact same way you learned your native or first language.

It works! Sign up now.

Want Healthy Glowing Skin?

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Today we hear a short story written by David Avender about his life and his experiences of change. This is an advanced item and gives a chance to work on some less frequent English words.

As the Nasdaq did fall, and our tech stocks did crumble, I was one of many, who took that corporate tumble.

While partisans and peers awaited brighter fiscal days, On a new and noble effort did I soon turn my gaze.

Inspired by a linguist who brought teaching to the net, And showed this lad, computers had, merits still untapped.

With my focus now on teaching, across the globe from A to Z, Unlike Agamemnon’s fate, this Net will set you free!

A great success I’ve seen, though just a year it’s been, That a day’s good works, May offer infinite perks, And come in colours much brighter than green.

This may sound a dear too sentimental and perhaps a bit silly, but whenever I see the seasons changing I’m reminded of changes in my own life.

Not the little changes, like whether or not to closely shave my head leaving an army-styled cut for the warming spring and summer months, but the grand, important changes; the changes like those that have affected my life to this day, and the changes that may affect the course of my life for the rest of my life.

It was nine Springs ago that I entered University and four Springs following that when I left.

I gleefully tumbled down Burnaby mountain – an appropriate place (I thought) for an institute of higher learning – with a degree in French Literature under one arm and a pocketful of dreams under the other. What couldn’t a fellow do in this world with unlimited hope, unbounded self-confidence, great family support and a degree in French Literature? I was ready to take on the world: English and French-speaking alike, and the only decision I would need to suffer was choosing for whom I would work, and to whom I would deny my bilingual talents.

With my casual bangs falling about my forehead and into my eyes, I would treat myself to a celebratory haircut. Why not, indeed? The seasons were changing, the summer was fast approaching and the world seemed as bright as my dreams!

Four months on and following my mountain top epiphany, autumn approached and I found myself not wanting to be found. If others did happen to find me however, they would find me there, on the sofa, lounging in my pyjamas at 11:00 am watching “Divorce Court” or “The People’s Court” or watching Brad trying to court Ashley out of her fortune so that he might have better access to her estate’s tennis court. I had, it seemed, greatly overestimated the world’s demand for a bilingual French literature major.

For four straight months I was cordially turned down for work of every possible kind, and turned down, not in one, but in two languages: “No, thank you, Mr. Quinette” and “Non, merci, M. Quinette.”

Either way it was told to me, it proved me wrong on far too many counts. My unlimited hopes did have limits, my unbounded self-confidence clearly had well-defined boundaries, and my degree, such as the one I had struggled to earn, was not worth nearly as much as I had believed. How fortunate I was that my trust in my family’s support was not misplaced. They took me in – my mother and father – their crestfallen, crushed and sullen, French-speaking son.

To my grand disadvantage, it was the second peak of the internet age. The first peak being the one that captivated the 1990s and promised indulgent spenders they would be purchasing everything, from groceries to family pets, over the internet. This second peak was wise and more temperate.

It was a time when your worth was calculated by your knowledge of C+ and C++. I was, to be sure, well aware of such things. I had seen such symbols many times at university, most often found at the bottom of my essays on Voltaire or some such author, with a comment beside it in red pen telling me that my ideas “lacked form and insight.” Once again, I was on the sour side of change.

Authors I had worked so hard to understand were now of no consequence. Marcel Proust was all but forgotten, Jean-Jacques Rousseau had been sent his walking papers and the dear father of “The Divine Comedy,” Honore de Balzac, was summarily supplanted by various bits, bytes and binary code forms.

Like the language of Latin, my love of languages and literature was dead as far as human capital assets were concerned. Densely antiseptic and blithely Caucasian computer chatter was surely to be my future, if a future was what I intended to have.

But just as sure as seasons change so do capital markets! Months past, Autumn brought Winter, then Winter loosened her grip and gave-way to the first signs of Spring . I was dead right about computers being an essential part of this forthcoming economy, but dead wrong about the death of languages. As computers began to connect the world together, English became the language to connect the people found behind the monitors. Even the IT professionals had to admit that not everything could be so well expressed in mere zeros and ones.

And now, as this Spring proceeds toward Summer and further warms the world, this change I do now adore! I’m living and working a beautifully synthesized life while helping the world to learn languages by making the most of the internet. Finding myself on the better side of change, I shall be quite happy to make myself forever contented with immutable constancy. Be happy with what you have, and change not for the mere sake of changing – by these words I steadfastly stand.

Or perhaps I may allow just one small change – this sure-to-be-sweltering summer – and shave my head completely bald.

Greetings Young and Old

Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!

Today we hear a content item from David entitled Greetings Young and Old from a past issue of our newsletter. David talks about the way people greet each other today and how they did it in the past.

When I was a child, I was a typical child.

The salutation between my friends was most often a “hey” with a slight lift of the hand as if to prove neither were hiding a pointed stick or, conversely, keeping some delicious snack food to ourselves.

If the situation demanded something fantastically formal, we would offer one another a “hi.”

I had a medium-sized group of male friends and one or two girl friends; who I swore were not my “girlfriends,” but just friends who happened to be girls.

At the age of eight, there were few terms of denunciation worse than those associated with you liking girls.

Being considered a “ladies’ man,” in the topsy-turvy logic of preteen boys, was considered being a “girlie man.”

When my friends and I would boldly venture beyond our neighbourhood (our neighbourhood being confined to 50B Street, 51A Street and a small portion of 10th Avenue which connected 50B street to 51A) we thought ourselves great adventurers in the tradition of Edmund Hillary, Robert Falcon Scott, or Indiana Jones.

It was on one of these outer neighbourhood adventures when myself, Michael and Eddie traveled further from our homes than ever before.

We made our way westward up to Bayview Drive.

So mesmerized were we by the heretofore unseen homes and yards of Bayview Drive, we didn’t notice ourselves walking right into the domain of a vicious gang of eight year olds.

There were three of them, numerically identical to us, but still, three is a large number when you’re only eight years old.

Our tribe met their tribe and did what kids do best: we stood staring at each other and did nothing.

That was until the smallest of the native three broke the ice with a blissfully convivial “hey.”

By unspoken consent, Michael and I allowed Eddie to respond in kind: “hey,” he said; and with that, the two tribal trios were now one great gang of six.

Within weeks I was spending as much time with Sean, Jeremy and Kevin as I was with my older mates, Michael and Eddie.

In time, distance had no consequence when it came to choosing friends.

We all had bikes, and with young legs we could ride from anywhere to anywhere in a matter of seconds.

Now that I’m older, making friends takes much more than a mere exchange of “heys.”

A handshake easily starts it off, but it seems so much more complicated than it was when I was eight years old.

Asking a man I’ve just met to come over to my place to play video games sounds a bit too odd.

I find myself pining for those simpler days when a lethargic salutation muttered under ones breath initiated a friendship that could last a lifetime.

All Changes Great and Small (Advanced)

This and all episodes of this podcast are available to study as a lesson on LingQ. Try it here.

Today we hear a short story written by David Avender about his life and his experiences of change. This is an advanced item and gives a chance to work on some less frequent English words.

As the Nasdaq did fall, and our tech stocks did crumble, I was one of many, who took that corporate tumble.

While partisans and peers awaited brighter fiscal days, On a new and noble effort did I soon turn my gaze.

Inspired by a linguist who brought teaching to the net, And showed this lad, computers had, merits still untapped.

With my focus now on teaching, across the globe from A to Z, Unlike Agamemnon’s fate, this Net will set you free!

A great success I’ve seen, though just a year it’s been, That a day’s good works, May offer infinite perks, And come in colours much brighter than green.

This may sound a dear too sentimental and perhaps a bit silly, but whenever I see the seasons changing I’m reminded of changes in my own life.

Not the little changes, like whether or not to closely shave my head leaving an army-styled cut for the warming spring and summer months, but the grand, important changes; the changes like those that have affected my life to this day, and the changes that may affect the course of my life for the rest of my life.

It was nine Springs ago that I entered University and four Springs following that when I left.

I gleefully tumbled down Burnaby mountain – an appropriate place (I thought) for an institute of higher learning – with a degree in French Literature under one arm and a pocketful of dreams under the other. What couldn’t a fellow do in this world with unlimited hope, unbounded self-confidence, great family support and a degree in French Literature? I was ready to take on the world: English and French-speaking alike, and the only decision I would need to suffer was choosing for whom I would work, and to whom I would deny my bilingual talents.

With my casual bangs falling about my forehead and into my eyes, I would treat myself to a celebratory haircut. Why not, indeed? The seasons were changing, the summer was fast approaching and the world seemed as bright as my dreams!

Four months on and following my mountain top epiphany, autumn approached and I found myself not wanting to be found. If others did happen to find me however, they would find me there, on the sofa, lounging in my pyjamas at 11:00 am watching “Divorce Court” or “The People’s Court” or watching Brad trying to court Ashley out of her fortune so that he might have better access to her estate’s tennis court. I had, it seemed, greatly overestimated the world’s demand for a bilingual French literature major.

For four straight months I was cordially turned down for work of every possible kind, and turned down, not in one, but in two languages: “No, thank you, Mr. Quinette” and “Non, merci, M. Quinette.”

Either way it was told to me, it proved me wrong on far too many counts. My unlimited hopes did have limits, my unbounded self-confidence clearly had well-defined boundaries, and my degree, such as the one I had struggled to earn, was not worth nearly as much as I had believed. How fortunate I was that my trust in my family’s support was not misplaced. They took me in – my mother and father – their crestfallen, crushed and sullen, French-speaking son.

To my grand disadvantage, it was the second peak of the internet age. The first peak being the one that captivated the 1990s and promised indulgent spenders they would be purchasing everything, from groceries to family pets, over the internet. This second peak was wise and more temperate.

It was a time when your worth was calculated by your knowledge of C+ and C++. I was, to be sure, well aware of such things. I had seen such symbols many times at university, most often found at the bottom of my essays on Voltaire or some such author, with a comment beside it in red pen telling me that my ideas “lacked form and insight.” Once again, I was on the sour side of change.

Authors I had worked so hard to understand were now of no consequence. Marcel Proust was all but forgotten, Jean-Jacques Rousseau had been sent his walking papers and the dear father of “The Divine Comedy,” Honore de Balzac, was summarily supplanted by various bits, bytes and binary code forms.

Like the language of Latin, my love of languages and literature was dead as far as human capital assets were concerned. Densely antiseptic and blithely Caucasian computer chatter was surely to be my future, if a future was what I intended to have.

But just as sure as seasons change so do capital markets! Months past, Autumn brought Winter, then Winter loosened her grip and gave-way to the first signs of Spring . I was dead right about computers being an essential part of this forthcoming economy, but dead wrong about the death of languages. As computers began to connect the world together, English became the language to connect the people found behind the monitors. Even the IT professionals had to admit that not everything could be so well expressed in mere zeros and ones.

And now, as this Spring proceeds toward Summer and further warms the world, this change I do now adore! I’m living and working a beautifully synthesized life while helping the world to learn languages by making the most of the internet. Finding myself on the better side of change, I shall be quite happy to make myself forever contented with immutable constancy. Be happy with what you have, and change not for the mere sake of changing – by these words I steadfastly stand.

Or perhaps I may allow just one small change – this sure-to-be-sweltering summer – and shave my head completely bald.

Hiking The Grouse Grind (Intermediate)

Study the transcript of this episode as a lesson on LingQ, saving the words and phrases you don’t know to your database. Here it is!

In this episode I just have a conversation with Jill, one of our Linguist tutors, about our weekend’s activities. In particular, Jill talks about the renowned Vancouver hike, “the Grouse Grind”.

Mark: Hello again.

Welcome back to the English Lingq podcast. Mark Kaufmann here. Today we have a different kind of a show. Jill has joined us. Jill is one of the tutors for The Linguist amongst other things. You can introduce yourself.

Jill: Hi, my name is Jill.

As Mark said, I am a Linguist tutor and I do customer service as well for the Linguist and most likely if you ever send an email I will answer you and I think today Mark and I will probably discuss the outdoors, outdoor activities. We are both quite interested in being outside.

Mark: I thought actually you were telling me earlier you were hiking yesterday, or not really hiking, doing the Grouse grind which I would assume most of our listeners would not be familiar with. We, for those of you who don’t know, we’re in Vancouver and in Vancouver the Grouse grind is quite a popular activity, at least for those who are physically active. Maybe, Jill you can explain a bit about what the Grouse grind is.

Jill: The Grouse grind is a hike from basically the base of one of our local mountains, a ski mountain, a ski hill and so you can park at the base and normally you would take a tram up the mountain if you are to go skiing but there is also a trail so you can walk from the base to the top of the mountain, you hike. It’s quite steep and I can’t remember quite how long it is but it’s actually not that great of a distance but it’s very steep so it’s quite difficult. It’s not a mellow stroll in the park kind of, you know, I’m going to go out for some fun and an easy walk kind of thing.

But, it’s hard work and there are lots of people who are trying to do it in a certain time or better than their time, there are races on it and because it is quite a challenging hike, I think there is quite a lot of competition around it so people are always kind of trying to beat each other. Mark: Yeah, for sure. You hear people around town talking about how I went and did the grind yesterday and what was you time and this sort of thing. I don’t know how long it’s sort of been a popular thing to do.

I assume that the trail has been there forever, not forever, but for a long time, but as far as people talking about doing the grind and talking about their times and it becoming popular for a lot of people actually, maybe in the last ten years it’s become that. I know you were telling me you got a pretty good time yesterday. Jill was telling me how she did it in 45 minutes yesterday which is an excellent time and I’m not sure if you told Steve.

Jill: No I didn’t tell Steve yet and actually Steve is in great shape for those of you who don’t know he exercises very regularly and so he can do something like the grind generally quicker than most people who are twenty or thirty years younger than him.

He can do it in, I guess the first time out this year, the first time he did it this year he also did it in 45 minutes. But I think he has done it quicker than that in the past, in 42 minutes or something I think is his best time. Yesterday at 45 was definitely my best time. I don’t know that I can do it a lot quicker, it was pretty hard.

Mark: Yeah, he says he’s been up it 42 and I’m sure he has, but I mean the difference in those times is huge actually. It is very steep. I know that when I do it my feet start to fall asleep because they are bent, there is such an incline that they are constantly bent and I guess the blood flow, the circulation starts to get cut off.

I don’t like doing it so I don’t go very often. Jill: I don’t think many people really like doing the grind. It’s more, it has the name the Grouse grind because it’s a grind. It’s difficult. I think most people who do it, who seriously do it are fairly avid outdoors people or people who like to exercise and so they do it as more of a workout and the people on it who are not that way I think are usually, don’t really know what they are getting themselves into. You see a lot of people, a lot of tourists busses go to Grouse Mountain.

It’s a very popular tourist place in Vancouver and so a lot of those tourists decide I’m going to go on this little hike so they are not dressed properly, they are not in very good shape or they just have no experience with hiking and this is quite a grueling hike. So, there are people every year who have to be rescued off of the trail because they just can’t make it or they have an asthma attack or they get lost. They somehow get off the trail and get lost, so it’s not just something that should be done and taken lightly, it is difficult. Mark: Yeah, for sure. Because it’s difficult is again, why I haven’t probably done it in a while.

Although I should mention that when I did do it, I can’t remember what my time was but, I beat my dad. Yeah, something like that, 36 or something like that. Anyway I will do it soon because everybody else here seems to be on the Grouse grind doing fast times.

Jill: The record for doing it is, a guy from New Zealand did it in, I think it was 27 minutes, 26 or 27 minutes and that is the quickest anybody has ever done it. That is somebody who can basically run up the whole hill and that’s very unlikely for most people. Mark: 27 minutes. That is fast you know. I know the few times I tried it I started out trying to run almost and I mean, after ten minutes of that you are just dead.

You kind of have to start off a little more slowly and then hope you pick up some time at the end. It’s more being able to hold a constant pace up rather than running but 27 minutes. That is fast. New Zealand eh? Never, I don’t trust them. Jill: They have lots of mountains there too so I guess it makes sense. But I ever do it faster than 45 minutes I’d be very happy. I can’t imagine. I think the average time, they average it out, is actually it’s an hour and a half or an hour and fifteen minutes when they aver it out over all the people who do it.

So you know, the average person I think, even people who are in decent shape, who exercise on a fairly regular basis but maybe don’t do a lot of hiking or running or that kind of thing. It still takes them usually about an hour and ten or an hour and twenty minutes. Anybody really under an hour is a good time for the grind.

Mark: Yeah, I think for sure that’s the case. I know, getting back to what you were saying earlier about people not being prepared, I mean you see people on there that they are a quarter of the way up and they are there in their loafers and jeans and they have no idea what they were doing and saw some people heading up the trail and thought oh, that looks like fun, yeah, let’s walk up the mountain.

And it’s not a walk, it’s not a walk. It’s definitely strenuous physical activity unlike what I was doing last night. You were on the grind working hard and I was playing mixed slow pitch softball which is a different kettle of fish. What do you mean old man sport?

Jill: No, I just say that because I know my step dad when I was younger, he played on a slow pitch team so I kind of associate it with a dad thing to do but of course that was twenty years ago when I was only ten years old. So he seemed old to me at the time.

Mark: Well I am a dad, however I never thought I’d be on a slow pitch team because really that’s not my speed of game in general, but I did play baseball for a few years as a kid and actually how we ended up having a team, a bunch of the parents at the school we were good friends with, at the kids school, a few guys decided we should have a slow pitch baseball team. It’s mixed so that the wives play as well and you know it’s, I mean it’s slow but actually because it’s slow pitch everybody hits. There are not a lot of strike outs and walks so there’s a fair amount of activity in the field and it mostly is just a social event.

Jill: Yeah, in my experience I know my brother has several friends who play slow pitch and have played for a number of years in their twenties so it’s not just an old person sport. They do it, I think, definitely more for the social aspect. A bunch of guys, their team is all guys and a bunch of them are friends and have been friends for twenty years and they get together and hang out and girlfriends or wives come and watch and I think there is always some beer and other things or sometimes going out afterwards to a pub is a very popular thing to do too. I think that it is mostly a social activity and like you say, because it’s slow pitch you don’t have to be a superstar to be able to play and have fun.

The ball is not coming at your very fast so you can usually hit it which makes the game more fun.

Mark: By the way when we, when I call it slow pitch, slow pitch is soft ball but it’s like a lobbing pitch, it’s like a moon ball we call it as opposed to real baseball where the ball comes in over hand or fast pitch soft ball where it’s under hand but it’s very hard. Slow pitch is a lobbing pitch that’s easy to connect with. Sometimes it’s easy to pop up the ball or hit grounders, whatever, but at any rate, there’s a lot of action for the defensive team as well so as you said, everybody gets into the game and as you also said a big part of it is the social aspect.

There are not many games you can play just about while drinking beer, not to down play the athletic aspect of what we’re doing but if there was no beer allowed I’m not so sure we’d be playing, which I wouldn’t say about any of the other games I play. Part of it is in the spring and summer and the weather is nice and friends get together and the kids are out playing at the playground next door and it’s just a fun thing to do. But certainly not as strenuous as the Grouse grind.

I think with that we’ll probably wrap things up.

I hope you all enjoyed hearing about what we did last night and we’ll try to talk about different things, different aspects of our lives and a variety of topics going forward with the English LingQ podcast and we’ll sort of intersperse these conversations with our regular podcasts and if you have any comments of course, please let us know through our website. Most importantly to get more from this podcast an dread the transcript and save words and phrases that you want to learn and use our learning tools to really learn this material please visit our website at englishlingq.com. Sign up and try out our learning tools.

French Restaurateur

Study this episode and any others from the LingQ English Podcast on LingQ! Check it out.

Here is an interview in which Steve speaks with Brigitte. Brigitte shares some secrets to her French restaurant’s success, along with some tips on French cooking. This is an advanced podcast partly because Brigitte does have a French accent and there is the noise of the restaurant in the background.

STEVE: Good morning Brigitte.

We are sitting in La Regalade which is a very popular French restaurant in West Vancouver at the corner of 22nd and Marine Drive. La Regalade is a project of two very experienced people in the world of French cuisine; a couple Brigitte and Alain Raye. Brigitte how long have you had this restaurant?

BRIGITTE: Only three months.

STEVE: You have been very successful?

BRIGITTE: So far so good. We are really excited about it.

STEVE: What is the secret to success in the restaurant business?

BRIGITTE: There is no secret. It’s a lot of work and a lot of experience. We have been in this business now for over 20 years. So we still learn, but it’s the experience, the secret of it.

STEVE: Should I say, as a customer, that a big part of it is the good food?

BRIGITTE: You can say it, yes! My husband would like that.

STEVE: And also the very pleasant and warm welcome that the customers get when they come here.

BRIGITTE: That is very important. It’s the atmosphere, the French touch that people like also.

STEVE: What would you say, from the point of view of someone who is not so familiar with French Cuisine, can we talk about the cuisine here? What are some of the principals in terms of ingredients?

BRIGITTE: We use first only fresh products, and my husband and Steve, I should mention my son is working with us, they are making a lot of preparation in the morning with a lot of fresh ingredients that are cooked slowly. It takes a lot of time to make all the preparation for the cuisine, but also for the pastry.

STEVE: You also make your own pastry here?

BRIGITTE: We do. We have a selection of about 10 different desserts, freshly made every day and people can see them on the counter when they come in so that’s a little something on the top also.

STEVE: I must say the pastry here is absolutely spectacular! But a question: you have to make a certain number of pastry items and what if they are not consumed, not eaten, do you take them home and eat them yourselves?

BRIGITTE: Yes, every night we have a lovely staff meal! And we eat what is not sold.

STEVE: Now, in terms of the ingredients. When we talk about French cuisine we talk about sauces. What are some of the tastes or spices?

BRIGITTE: So we first always work with stocks which is the base of the sauces, so chicken, veal and fish stock.

STEVE: These are prepared ahead of time?

BRIGITTE: Yes. Cook slowly for about 4 hours each. And after we use cream and spices.

We use different spices; we use curry, we use cumin which are not French spices but that brings a little touch that people like. And cream, and wine. A lot of the sauces have wine in them.

STEVE: Yesterday I had the veal kidneys with mustard sauce, which was unbelievably delicious. Does that sauce also have wine in it?

BRIGITTE: No, it’s veal stock, cream, mustard, salt and pepper.

STEVE: And with that there was some hot stock with some cheese and white wine.

BRIGITTE: Cream, sour cream. Salt and pepper.

STEVE: And would your cuisine here be northern or southern France?

BRIGITTE: Actually it is from Lyon, which is in the centre of France. It’s bistro cuisine, which our grandmother and mother used to do.

Very warm dishes, but a lot of preparation. Most of them are cooked slowly, for at least 2 hours.

STEVE: Lyon is also known as the centre of French cuisine.

BRIGITTE: That is where the famous chef Bocuse is and the name of the restaurants they are called .. Little bistros where you can have brain, intestines and funny food that people over here don’t really appreciate.

STEVE: And of course, with French food, one must drink wine.

BRIGITTE: Of course! White and red. We have a nice selection of not expensive wine; most of them are under $30. And we serve also by carafe.

STEVE: So typically if someone is not familiar with ordering in a French restaurant, how does one choose?

BRIGITTE: You should trust the waiter.

We recommend you have an appetizer, then a main course and dessert. The portions are quite big here so it’s good to have an appetizer, a main course and the dessert. Select the specials of the day. That’s something of the day, so that’s a good way to choose.

STEVE: Sometimes with Asian food, people share the dishes as they come in. Is that done at all?

BRIGITTE: Yes it is. People who know how it works here now, they know they can have an appetizer and share it, then have a main course and share dessert.

STEVE: Is your clientele mostly from around the neighbourhood, or are you attracting people from elsewhere?

BRIGITTE: Oh no!

Actually we have people from Vancouver across the bridge now, because we have had nice reviews in the Vancouver Sun that brought us clientele not only from West Vancouver. Actually the first week we had people from the neighbourhood and they talked a lot about us, and so we have people all over Vancouver now.

STEVE: Now tell me, champagne is also associated very much with France. How does one drink the champagne? Do you drink that with the meal?

BRIGITTE: Actually here it’s quite difficult to sell champagne. But in France people have it to start with, as a cocktail. They have it plain or with a touch of black currant or raspberry.

STEVE: But if you open a bottle of champagne, you have to finish the whole thing because you can’t put the cork back in?

BRIGITTE: We do.

We keep the bottle with the cork on for a few days.

STEVE: Oh really. So it is possible to serve a glass of champagne.

BRIGITTE: Yes, we do serve it by the glass for $10, which is a good deal.

STEVE: Again, getting back to the ingredients, what would be the typical spices?

BRIGITTE: Spices. We use a lot of thyme, bay leaf, and what else, rosemary, tarragon, small fresh herbs and spices.

STEVE: Do you use the bouquet garni?

BRIGITTE: Absolutely. With the stock we put onions, carrots, bouquet garni? which is the leeks, parsley, a little bit of thyme.

STEVE: Perhaps you could explain exactly what a bouquet garni is.

BRIGITTE: It’s tied with a little string. So it’s leeks, thyme, parsley – just put that in your stock and it gives a lot of flavour.

STEVE: And what kinds of vegetables do you use?

BRIGITTE: Oh we use a lot of carrots for sure, mushrooms, potatoes, and zucchini, eggplant. That’s it.

STEVE: And of course onions.

BRIGITTE: Of course, onions, shallots, and the garlic – don’t forget the garlic!

STEVE: And of course other than that it’s fish and all meat and also you mentioned sweetbreads and kidneys.

BRIGITTE: Not a lot of fish, actually, we just serve tuna and mussels for the seafood. We have a spring salad and calamari.

STEVE: Have you had many customers of Asian origin?

BRIGITTE: Not enough!

STEVE: Thank you very much.

BRIGITTE: Merci beaucoup.