Episode 60: The Great Smoky Mountains



Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 60: The Great Smoky Mountains

Before we begin, I have two announcements:

  1. If you haven’t done so already, please answer the podcast survey. Your answers help make the podcast stronger. Visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net and click the link to the survey questions. You can read some of the survey results so far at www.Patreon.com/slowamericanenglish.
  2. Please become a patron to make your podcast experience better. Choose from four levels, each with valuable monthly rewards. I recommend Level 2 as the best level for the money, which is $10 a month. But for only $5.00 per month, you can join Level 1 for English Learners. You get
  • a pdf file with three exercises you can use with the recording or the transcript to improve listening and reading comprehension,

  • a free Slow American English workbook,

  • a chance to win private English lessons with me, including a personal learning plan,

  • and a monthly live discussion of each podcast episode via Skype. Practice your English in a real-world conversation! This month’s discussion date: Monday, 23 December, 2019, at 09:00am US Mountain Time (GMT-7). Patrons, you MUST notify me via email (info@slowamericanenglish.net) by Sunday, 22 December, 2019, at 5:00pm US Mountain Time (GMT-7) to let me know you will attend the live discussion. If you cannot attend because of your time zone, I can schedule an additional session if there are enough participants.

Note: with Level 2, which is for Teachers and Serious Self-Study Students, you get everything in Level 1 above PLUS a lot more! So, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become a patron today. Remember: all your contributions help me continue to bring this podcast to you.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

The Great Smoky Mountains are part of the Appalachian Mountains, which is the major mountain range in the eastern United States. You may remember from Episode 44 that the Rocky Mountains in the western US are younger than the Appalachians. In fact, the Appalachians are between 300 and 500 million years old. Some scientists believe they are the oldest mountains in the world. The oldest rocks in the Smokies are over a billion years old.

The Great Smoky Mountains are also called the Smoky Mountains, or just the Smokies. They lie along the border between North Carolina and Tennessee. Their name comes from the fog that lies among the mountains which looks like smoke.

Because of the history and nature of the Smokies, they are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best-known and biggest part of the Smokies is the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, which was founded in 1934 and dedicated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1940. It is the most visited national park in the country.

The highest point in the Smokies is Clingman’s Dome, a mountain whose elevation is 6,643 feet above sea level. It’s the third highest point in the Appalachians.

The Native American Cherokee tribe lived in the area before European settlers arrived in the middle 1700s. The Cherokee took the side of the British in the Revolutionary War, which is why American forces invaded Cherokee territory and eventually took the land.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the logging industry destroyed about 90% of the old-growth, or original, forests in the Smokies. Most of the forests have grown back, at least in the park. About 187,000 acres of old-growth forest remain, which is the largest section of it in the eastern US.

Some well-known plants and animals in the Smokies are:

  • dogwood trees

  • rhododendron and azalea shrubs

  • brook trout

  • wild turkey

  • owls

  • rattlesnakes and copperhead snakes

  • lightning bugs (fireflies)

  • black bears; the Smokies have the densest population of black bears east of the Mississippi River. In fact, the black bear is the symbol of the Smokies.

Tourism is a large part of the economy in and around the Smokies. It is a popular resort area, and visitors enjoy river rafting, tubing, hiking, climbing, zip-lining, fishing, mountain biking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing and many other outdoor activities.

A historical valley called Cade’s Cove is a favorite tourist spot inside the national park. Many people visit Laurel Falls, an 80-foot waterfall near Cade’s Cove. Other popular towns just outside the park are Cherokee, NC, and Gatlinburg, TN. And you may know that country singer Dolly Parton built an amusement park in Pigeon Forge, TN, called Dollywood.

From 1920 to 1933, alcohol was banned in the United States. This was called Prohibition. It was illegal to make, sell or drink alcohol during that time. Of course, people found a way to have alcohol anyway. Many small alcohol-producing operations were hidden in the Smokies. The alcohol they produced was called “moonshine” because they secretly made the alcohol at night by the light of the moon. Today, you can buy legal moonshine at some shops near the Smokies. It is probably better than the illegal stuff available during Prohibition!

### End of Transcript ###

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe with any podcast app or feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.


Episode 59: Los Angeles, CA



Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 59: Los Angeles, CA

Before we begin, I have a couple of questions:

  1. Have you answered the podcast survey? Your answers help make the podcast better. Visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net and click the link to the survey questions. You can read some of the survey results so far at www.Patreon.com/slowamericanenglish.
  2. Are you learning as much as you can from the podcast? Become a patron to make your experience better. Choose from four levels, each with valuable monthly rewards. I recommend Level 2 as the best level for the money, which is $10 a month. But for only $5.00 per month, you can join Level 1 for English Learners. You get
  • a pdf file with three exercises you can use with the recording or the transcript to improve listening and reading comprehension,

  • a free Slow American English workbook,

  • a chance to win private English lessons with me, including a personal learning plan,

  • and a monthly live discussion of each podcast episode via Skype. Practice your English in a real-world conversation! This month’s discussion date: Thursday, 21 November, 2019, at 09:00am US Mountain Time (GMT-7). Patrons, you MUST notify me via email (info@slowamericanenglish.net) by Wednesday, 20 November, 2019, at 5:00pm US Mountain Time (GMT-7) to let me know you will attend the live discussion. If you cannot attend because of your time zone, I can schedule an additional session if there are enough participants.

So, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become a patron today. Remember: all your contributions help me continue to bring this podcast to you.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

Los Angeles, CA, is often called LA. It is a very large city on the coast of southern California. It is made up of many smaller towns that have become part of it. Some people think that Los Angeles and Hollywood are the same place. That is only partly true. Hollywood was a smaller town that was added to LA in 1910. Naturally, many people and companies who are part of the film industry live in LA. There is a stereotype that most of the waiters in restaurants in LA are people trying to become famous actors.

Other places you may have heard about that are part of LA include Brentwood, Encino, Watts, Venice Beach, Tarzana, Chinatown, Little Tokyo and Van Nuys. Places you may know that are near LA but not officially part of it are Beverly Hills, Burbank, Santa Monica, Compton, Malibu, Long Beach and Pasadena.

LA is a sprawling city, which means that it takes up a lot of space. It covers 469.1 square miles for about four million people, compared to New York City, which takes up only 302.6 square miles for almost nine million people. Because of this urban sprawl, everyone depends heavily on cars. Because of so many cars, large freeways were built to handle the traffic. Unfortunately, the cars multiplied too fast, and now people say the freeways are parking lots!

Because LA lies on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, it has beaches. But it also has mountains and valleys and very good weather. You may have heard the song that goes, “It never rains in southern California”. Of course that’s not really true, though the weather is usually nice. But long periods of no rain cause droughts, then rain comes and sometimes causes mudslides. In addition, LA lies on the San Andreas Fault, which means there are earthquakes, too. A human-made problem is smog, which is a cloud of air pollution that hangs over the city.

Los Angeles is often called La La Land, partly because of the abbreviation ‘LA’ and partly because the phrase “lala land” means a fantasy place where people who are out of touch with the real world go in their heads. Los Angeles has a reputation for being a place that isn’t quite the same as the real world.

Of course, native tribes such as the Chumash and Tongva lived there before Spanish settlers came in 1769. The Spanish name of the settlement translates as “The Town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciúncula”. “The angels” in Spanish is “los angeles”, which is now pronounced “Los Angeles” in English.

Los Angeles has one of the most diverse populations in the world, which means that there are many different ethnic groups. More than 90 languages besides English are spoken by people who live in LA. One of the biggest groups is the Latino population, and much of this group has Mexican heritage.

Besides the uniqueness of Hollywood, LA has everything you can imagine in a large city. There are cultural places such as museums, theaters and art galleries plus famous universities such as University of Southern California (USC) and University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Professional sports teams and major medical centers are located there, too. And the LA airport, called LAX, is one of the most important airports in the world.

### End of Transcript ###

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe with any podcast app or feed reader.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.


Episode 58: Higher Education in the USA



Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 58: Higher Education in the USA

Before we begin, I have a couple of announcements:

  1. Please take the Slow American English survey. Your answers will help make the podcast better. Visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net and click the link to the survey questions. Every answer is valuable! To read some of the survey results so far, visit www.Patreon.com/slowamericanenglish.
  2. Podcast patrons can learn English faster! If you are not a patron, please consider becoming one. Choose from four levels, each with valuable monthly rewards. I recommend Level 2 as the best level for the money, which is $10 a month. But if that’s too much for your budget, Level 1 for English Learners might be right for you. For $5.00 per month, you get
  • a pdf file with three exercises you can use with the recording or the transcript to improve listening and reading comprehension,

  • a free Slow American English workbook,

  • a chance to win private English lessons with me, including a personal learning plan,

  • and a monthly live discussion of each podcast episode via Skype. Practice your English in a real-world conversation! This month’s discussion date: Tuesday, 22 October, 2019, at 09:00am US Mountain Time (GMT-6). Patrons, you MUST notify me via email (info@slowamericanenglish.net) by Monday, 21 October, 2019, at 5:00pm US Mountain Time (GMT-6) to let me know you will attend the live discussion. If you cannot attend because of your time zone, I can schedule an additional session if there are enough participants.

So, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become a patron today. Remember: all your contributions help me continue to bring this podcast to you.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

I’ve already told you about the school system for kids in the US in Episode 28. Today I will describe the optional higher education system, also called post-secondary education system, which comes after high school.

This higher education system in the USA isn’t regulated by the federal government. Because of this, there are many types of schools, such as public, private, small, large, religious, secular, urban, suburban, rural and online.

Most Americans use the word “college” to mean “university”, although there is actually a difference. A university is a collection of smaller colleges. Each college focuses on a specific area of study. There can also be standalone colleges that aren’t part of a university. Universities usually also offer masters and doctorate degrees.

Good schools are usually accredited, or approved by an official association, to make sure they meet a minimum standard. Accreditation also means a student’s degree is recognized as valid by other schools and employers.

More vocabulary:

    • major – main area of study for undergraduates; students can change their major multiple times until the third year
    • minor – second area of study for undergraduates requiring fewer classes
    • campus – the physical area of a college
    • dormitory/dorm – housing for students; if a student lives on campus, he or she lives in a dorm
    • ivy league – informal phrase for a group of prestigious colleges such as Harvard
    • tuition – fees paid to the college for classes; does not include dorm expenses, books or meals
    • freshmen – students in their first year of undergraduate study
    • sophomores – students in their second year of undergraduate study
    • juniors – students in their third year of undergraduate study
      • seniors – students in their fourth year of undergraduate study
    • community college – a smaller, local school offering a two-year associate degree

Many colleges require a student to take a standardized test before starting a four-year program. The most well-known such test is the Scholastic Aptitude Test, usually called the SAT.

Levels of post-secondary study:

  1. Undergraduate students work toward a four-year bachelors degree. The first two years are usually general classes like literature, science and history. Each class earns the student course credits. Students can complete these courses at a community college then transfer the credits to a four-year school.
  1. People with bachelors degrees might want to get a masters degree. They need to take the GRE test (Graduate Record Examinations) first. A university usually also has a masters program in addition to the colleges for undergraduate degrees. Masters degrees usually require about two years of courses and a thesis, which is a long research paper.
  1. After a masters, some students want to continue their education and get a doctorate, or Ph.D. This requires three or more years of courses and research, plus a dissertation, which is the doctorate research paper.

College is very expensive. Many students get scholarships, grants or student loans to help pay for it. A scholarship is money from an organization or school given to the student based on academic or sports performance. Grants are government money given based usually on low family income or other factors. Either the government or financial institutions can lend money for education. Scholarships and grants don’t have to be paid back, but student loans do. Many people graduate with heavy student loan debt, which is a big problem.

Some state universities offer free or reduced tuition programs. New York State recently became the first to offer free tuition for a full four-year or two-year program that isn’t based on academic performance. Other states offer similar programs, but they have more requirements.

### End of Transcript ###

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe via any podcast app or feed reader.

Theme music is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.


Episode 57: Chicago, IL



Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is episode number 57: Chicago, IL

Before we begin, I have three announcements:

  1. Please take the Slow American English survey. Your answers will help make the podcast better. To answer the questions, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net and click the link to the survey questions. Every answer is valuable! To read some of the survey results so far, visit www.Patreon.com/slowamericanenglish.
  2. Are you a patron of the podcast? If so, you are possibly learning more English faster! If you are not a patron, please consider becoming one. Choose from four levels of patrons, each with valuable monthly rewards. I recommend Level 2 as the best level for the money. For $10.00 USD per month, you get
  • all Level 1 rewards, including exercises, live discussions of each podcast episode, a free Slow American English workbook, and a chance to win private English lessons with me,

  • a FULL Exercise Worksheet with Vocabulary, Multiple-Choice and Discussion exercises plus answer gaps, a line-numbered transcript, any bonus material, and answer keys. Each Exercise Worksheet is a ready-made lesson for students or teachers!

  • an mp3 file of the Natural-Speed Recording of that month’s podcast episode that you can download or listen to via an exclusive RSS Feed

So, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become a patron today. Teachers, these ready-made lessons will save you time and benefit your students. Students, these rewards will help you improve your English faster! All contributions help me continue to bring this podcast to you.

  1. As part of the English Learner Patron Level (and included in all higher levels), I host a live discussion via Skype every month to discuss the podcast topic. It is a good way to practice your English in a real-world conversation. This month’s discussion date: Tuesday, 24 September, 2019, at 09:00am US Mountain Time (GMT -6). Patrons, you MUST notify me via email (info@slowamericanenglish.net) by Monday, 23 September, 2019, at 5:00pm US Mountain Time (GMT-6) to let me know you will attend the live discussion. If you cannot attend because of your time zone, I will schedule an additional session if there are enough participants. If you would like to participate in the live discussions, please become a patron at Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

Chicago is a very large city on the shores of Lake Michigan at the mouth of the Chicago River in the Midwest state of Illinois. Of course, before the city grew up there, Native American tribes such as the Miami, Sauk, Fox and Potawatomi lived in that area at different times.

Chicago became an official town in 1833. Before that, there was a settlement and an army fort there. The location has always been important for water transport between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi and other rivers. In addition, the telegraph and railroad stations in Chicago connected the east part of the USA to the west. The city was very important during the western expansion of the country. Because Chicago has always been such a hub of transport, many jobs attracted many people from all over the world. Therefore, labor issues have been very important in Chicago, resulting in strikes and negotiations, and often resulting in violence.

In 1871, the Great Chicago Fire occurred. Legend says that a cow belonging to Mrs. O’Leary kicked over a lantern in the barn and that’s what started the fire. Whatever the cause, the fire burned for over two days because of high winds, dry weather and lots of wooden buildings. The fire destroyed about one-third of the city, killed over 200 people and left 100,000 people homeless. However, the railroads and factories did not burn, so the city rebuilt very quickly.

Chicago has several nicknames, including Second City. That’s because it was second only to New York City in population and growth. However, since 1990, Los Angeles has been second to New York in population. Chicago is also called Chi Town, using the first three letters of its name, but pronounced differently. It’s also often called the Windy City because of the strong winds that blow off of Lake Michigan. In winter, that extremely cold wind is called ‘The Hawk’.

Some facts about Chicago:

  • Migration of African-Americans from the South to Chicago around WWI gave birth to Chicago-style jazz.

  • Chicago-style pizza is deep-dish (thick crust) instead of thin-crusted like New York pizza.

  • Because of the large Irish immigrant population, St. Patrick’s Day is a big deal in Chicago. The river is turned green for the day.

  • From the late 1800s through the early 1900s, Chicago’s political organization had great power and a reputation for corruption. It was called the Chicago “political machine”.

  • In the 1930s, gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger grew famous as organized crime bosses.

  • The world’s first skyscraper was built in Chicago in 1885. It was 10 stories tall.

  • Two world’s fairs have been held in Chicago, the 1893 Columbian Exposition and the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition.

  • Chicago’s baseball team is the Cubs. They play at Wrigley Field. They are famous for usually losing, but in 2016, they won the championship World Series. It was the first time they’d won in 108 years.

  • Chicago’s Navy Pier is an amusement park on the site of a landmark that is over 100 years old.

  • The Magnificent Mile on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago has restaurants, shops, hotels, historical landmarks and nightclubs.

  • Chicago has dozens of museums, including art, nature and history museums, as well as hundreds of art galleries, theaters and other cultural institutions.

  • A famous skyscraper, the Willis Tower, is a well-known feature of Chicago’s skyline. It is 110 stories high and was built in 1973. It was called the Sears Tower until 2009. It was the world’s tallest building for almost 25 years until the World Trade Center was built in New York.

  • Route 66 begins in Chicago.

### End of Transcript ###

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe via any podcast app.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.


PLUS Episode 3: Interview with Susanne, ESL Student and Teacher



Welcome to Slow American English, the podcast for learners of American English. I’m your host, Karren Tolliver.

This is PLUS Episode, PLUS number 3.

Today I welcome Susanne. She’s an ESL speaker and teacher. She’s also one of my more exceptional students because she has a high level of English and she’s also a teacher, and she teaches English as a Second Language.

(Note: There is no transcript for the interview, and it is in natural-speed English. However, it is still a good listening exercise, and you can learn some study and teaching tips from Susanne.)

###Begin###

INTERVIEW

### End ###

That’s the podcast for this time. I hope you enjoyed this PLUS Episode. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.

For free transcripts and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also download the podcast with any RSS feed reader such as Apple Podcasts or Google Play.

Buy Slow American English workbooks on Amazon.com in print and Kindle formats.

To support the podcast and become a patron visit www.Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish.

Contact me directly via email at info@slowamericanenglish.net.

Theme music for this podcast is written and performed by SW Campbell and used by permission. Find more music by this artist at www.Soundclick.com/swcampbell.

This has been Slow American English. I’m Karren Tolliver. Thank you for listening.