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Episode 65: The Indianapolis 500



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

This is episode number 65: The Indianapolis 500

Before we begin, here are three important items:

  1. Buy all the Slow American English workbooks now on Amazon. They are for both teachers and students. There are pre-planned lessons for each episode with listening, reading, speaking and writing exercises, transcripts and answer keys. You can even use the workbooks without the podcast recordings, so get yours today.
  2. Many thanks to my Patreon patrons for your monthly contributions that keep the podcast going. You help pay for web hosting and other expenses. Without you, I could not produce this free podcast for English learners all over the world. If you are not yet a patron, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become one today!
  3. Subscribe to the podcast website at SlowAmericanEnglish.net. There are free transcripts PLUS links to become a patron and to buy the workbooks.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

Every year on Memorial Day Sunday, 33 race cars compete in Indianapolis, IN, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway racetrack. The event is called the Indianapolis 500, or Indy 500, because the race is 500 miles long. It’s the oldest currently operational auto race in the world. The track itself is an oval, 2.5 miles long. Drivers must complete 200 laps for 500 miles, only making left turns. The winner gets a cold bottle of milk to drink, along with some money, of course!

The cars are Indy cars, which are similar to Formula 1 cars in that they have open cockpits and one seat, but the design is different. Indy cars are a little faster, with an average top speed of about 235 miles per hour (mph). Also, Formula 1 races are held all over the world, but the Indy car races are mainly in the US, although some events are in other countries. Of course, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is only one of the tracks where Indy car races are held, but it is the most famous.

Because the original Indy 500 track was made of bricks, it’s nicknamed the Brickyard. Nowadays it is asphalt, but there is still a strip of bricks across the track that serves as the finish line. Many races are held there, including some Formula 1 and NASCAR races. For the Indy 500, the traditional announcement for the start of the race was, “Gentlemen, start your engines!” Since 1977, however, women have competed in the race, so now the announcement is often, “Drivers, start your engines!”

The track was built in 1909, and the first Indy 500 race was in 1911. At times, the race has been delayed or shortened because of rain, and sometimes the race was completed the following day or week. Only six times has it been cancelled altogether: twice during WWI and four times during WWII. In 2020, it has been rescheduled for August because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some famous driver names in Indy car history are A.J. Foyt; Danica Patrick; Mario and Michael Andretti; Bobby, Al, and Al Unser, Jr.; Helio Castroneves; and Rick Mears. Another well known name is Roger Penske, a former driver who leads a large automotive company and sponsors racing teams. In fact, Penske’s company owns the Indianapolis Motor Speedway itself.

NTT IndyCar is the regulating organization for Indy car racing events held throughout the year. They make the rules and keep records. Drivers make points for such things as participating, number of laps completed, speed, and winning.

To begin the Indy 500, a special car leads the race cars around the track to warm up before the race begins. This car is called a pace car. As with other car races, a green flag is waved to start the race, and the pace car exits the track. A yellow flag is waved for caution, for example, when there is a crash and the drivers must slow down and maintain position. In this case, the pace car re-enters the track and leads the other cars again. A red flag is waved to stop the race if conditions are too dangerous. A black and white checkered flag is waved when the winner crosses the finish line at the end.

The place alongside the track where the driver’s team waits is called the ‘pit’. A ‘pit stop’ is when the driver exits the race for car service or other reasons. The team that services the car is the ‘pit crew’.

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That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

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

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

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


Episode 63: National Register of Historic Places



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

This is episode number 63: National Register of Historic Places

Before we begin, I want to give a big thank-you to my Patreon patrons for pledging a little money every month to keep the podcast going. Your contributions help pay for web hosting and other expenses. Without you, I could not help English learners all over the world. If you are not yet a patron, would you please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become one today?

Buy Slow American English workbooks on Amazon. You can use all the workbooks either with the podcast or without it. Teachers can use the pre-planned lessons for listening, reading, speaking and writing. Students can use each lesson for self-study. Get yours in print or Kindle versions now!

Visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish for FREE bonus material. Download a pdf file containing the National Register of Historic Places listing for the Statue of Liberty, including pictures. Please enjoy!

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of historic things in the USA believed to be so important that they should be preserved, based on national standards. The list contains not only buildings but also sites like battlefields, structures like bridges, objects like artworks, and districts such as neighborhoods.

The National Register is similar to the idea of UNESCO’s World Heritage List, except the National Register contains only items within the United States. In fact, there are 24 UNESCO sites within the US, such as the Statue of Liberty and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Both of these are on the National Register, too.

The National Register was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. It is managed by the National Park Service, which is part of the Department of the Interior. Today, the list contains over 95,000 items. Almost every county in the country has at least one item on the list.

Here is the process for getting something on the National Register:

Someone must nominate the item to be listed. This could be a local city government, a Native American tribe or a private owner of the item. They would probably contact their State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for research information, forms to fill out and so on.

The SHPO and others evaluate the nomination based on several characteristics. One is age, and, generally, the item should be at least 50 years old. In addition, the item should still look much like it did in the past and be associated with important historical events or be an important example of engineering, architecture, archaeology or other categories.

The SHPO also asks for public comments. If the owner doesn’t want the item to be listed, the item cannot be listed. But the SHPO can send the nomination to the National Park Service for further evaluation.

If the item passes the first evaluation, it is recommended to the National Park Service in Washington, DC. Then the National Park Service makes a final decision. If the item passes, it’s placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

After being put on the National Register, the item’s owners or caretakers can now apply for tax cuts and grants from federal and private organizations. That money is then used to help preserve the item. Listing on the National Register does not prohibit changes to the item, but getting tax cuts and grants might.

Many items on the National Register have plaques displayed about them. Plaques are not required, but many owners and caretakers get one because they are so proud. In addition, if the item receives tax credits and grants that prevent it from being changed, the National Register listing qualifies it for alternative fire and safety equipment codes. For example, if an old building cannot be changed to have modern fire and safety equipment, different rules are allowed.

The National Park Service maintains a free, public online database with all the information about all the items on the National Register. This month’s free bonus material at Patreon.com/slowamericanenglish is a copy of the listing for the Statue of Liberty from the database.

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That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe wherever podcasts are downloaded.

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

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


Episode 62: Impeachment Process



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

This is episode number 62: Impeachment Process

Before we begin, here are three important items:

  1. Buy the fifth Slow American English workbook now! It’s available on Amazon, just like the first four workbooks. You can use all the workbooks either with the podcast or without it. Teachers can use the pre-planned lessons for listening, reading, speaking and writing. Students can use each lesson for self-study. Get yours in print or Kindle version now!
  2. I want to give a big thank-you to my Patreon patrons for pledging a little money every month to keep the podcast going. Your contributions help pay for web hosting and other expenses. Without you, I could not help English learners all over the world. If you are not yet a patron, please visit Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish and become one today!
  3. Become a website subscriber at SlowAmericanEnglish.net. There are free transcripts PLUS links to become a patron and to buy workbooks. Follow me on social media from the website, too.

Now for the podcast:

Transcript:

If you have been following US news for the past few months (2019 and 2020), you might know that the US president was impeached. However, you might not know what that actually means.

It is important to understand that impeachment is not a criminal process. It is a political one. Article II of the Constitution states:

The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

Impeachment is a two-step process. Congress is responsible for the actions. First, the House of Representatives brings impeachment charges against a federal official. Then, the Senate has a trial and votes whether to convict.

Here is the procedure:

  1. Members of the House of Representatives must either introduce an impeachment resolution just like they would a regular bill, or they can pass a resolution to start an inquiry. During the inquiry, evidence is gathered and charges are stated. After a few weeks or months of investigation, the representatives vote. If a majority of representatives votes to impeach, there is a trial in the Senate. This should be conducted like a normal trial in a court of law.
  2. Members of the House are appointed to manage the Senate trial, which means they act as prosecutors. The impeached official gathers a legal defense team. Senators act as the jury. After the prosecution and defense teams present their sides of the case, the Senators vote. If two-thirds or more of the senators present vote for conviction, the impeached official is removed from office and possibly prohibited from holding office in the future. There is no other punishment, such as fines or prison time.

Further charges can be brought against the removed official in regular courts, if anyone wants to do that. Additional legal procedures would then follow, including negotiations and even trials, but they aren’t guaranteed, and they don’t involve Congress.

More information about impeachment in the US:

  • The Constitution does not specify what “high crimes and misdemeanors” are. Therefore, the House of Representatives can decide.
  • If the president is convicted by the Senate and removed from office, the Vice President becomes president.
  • Other federal officials besides the president can be impeached by the House.
  • The House has begun 62 impeachment investigations throughout history.
  • Only 20 of those 62 investigations resulted in impeachment: 30 judges, three presidents, one Cabinet secretary and one US senator.
  • The impeached presidents were Andrew Johnson, Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. None were convicted or removed from office.
  • Andrew Johnson was Abraham Lincoln‘s vice president; he became president when Lincoln was assassinated in 1865. He was impeached in 1868.
  • Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998.
  • Donald Trump was impeached in 2020.
  • Impeachment proceedings were started against President Richard Nixon in 1973, but he resigned before he could be tried in the Senate.
  • All states except Oregon can impeach state officials. The procedures are basically the same as federal ones.

### End of Transcript ### 

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, TuneIn and any other podcast feed reader.

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

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


Episode 61: Prohibition



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

This is episode number 61: Prohibition

Before we begin, I want to wish you happy new year with health, wealth and love in 2020.

This is a very special episode for me because it is the five-year anniversary of the podcast! I published the first episode of the podcast five years ago this month! I want to thank all my listeners that have made the podcast so popular.

Also, you can now buy the fifth Slow American English workbook! It’s available on Amazon, just like previous workbooks. You can use all the workbooks either with the podcast or without it. Teachers can use them for listening, reading, speaking and writing. Students can use them for self-study. For links to buy all the workbooks, visit SlowAmericanEnglish.net.

NOTE: As a special five-year anniversary sale, you can buy any of the workbooks for a 25% discount from now until 15 February 2020. Click here to buy your workbooks!

Become a website subscriber at www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. There are free transcripts PLUS links to become a patron and to buy workbooks.

Follow the podcast on social media. Click the icons on SlowAmericanEnglish.net. Get information about American English idioms, podcast episode information and more.

Huge thanks to my Patreon patrons for pledging a small amount every month to keep the podcast going. Your contributions help pay for web hosting and other expenses. Without you, I could not produce this podcast every month. Thank you! If you are not yet a patron, please consider it. To become a patron, visit www.Patreon.com/SlowAmericanEnglish.

Now for the podcast:

Prohibition

From 1920 to 1933, it was illegal to make, sell or transport alcoholic beverages in the United States. This ban was known as Prohibition, with a capital P. It is also sometimes called ‘the noble experiment’.

The ban was made official by the 18th Amendment to the Constitution. Because the amendment did not specifically restrict people from having or drinking alcohol, a law called the Volstead Act was passed with additional regulations.

There are several complicated reasons that Prohibition was possible in the USA.

First, because of the industrial revolution, cities became more crowded, which made life more stressful. People tried to relieve stress with alcoholic drinks. More bars and saloons opened, and more people, especially men, drank more alcohol.

Religious movements in the 1800s, such as abolitionist and other campaigns that wanted people to act better, called for temperance. Temperance means to drink less alcohol and be more responsible to your family. Temperance leagues were formed, mostly by women. Religious organizations and temperance leagues said that bars and saloons were bad places. Factory owners wanted temperance so that their workers would be more responsible and less likely to get hurt on the job.

Also, in the early 1900s, World War I caused a worldwide grain shortage. Therefore, grain was restricted from being used to make alcohol in the USA.

Although people had good intentions for passing Prohibition, the results were terrible. People were unwilling to stop drinking alcohol, so they found ways to make their own alcohol and hide it from the government.

There are several words that entered English directly because of Prohibition:

  • bathtub gin – homemade illegal alcohol made in someone’s bathtub

  • bootlegging – transporting illegal alcohol; people hid bottles in their boots under their trousers!

  • dry – place with no legal alcohol; for example, a dry county means you cannot buy alcohol there

  • moonshine – homemade, illegal alcohol; so-named because people made it at night by the light of the moon

  • speakeasy – an illegal bar

  • still – short for distillery; a device for making alcohol

Of course, Prohibition was very unpopular, and the government did not have enough money to enforce the law. There was no longer any tax money from alcohol sales. Also, the stress of the Great Depression in the 1930s made people feel more like drinking alcohol.

Organized-crime gangs grew strong from the manufacture, transport and sale of illegal alcohol. Al Capone, a powerful gang leader in Chicago, made about $60 million during Prohibition. The word ‘gangster’ comes directly from this period in American history.

Because of these and other political reasons, the 21st Amendment to the US Constitution was passed that repealed, or cancelled, Prohibition in 1933. However, states and local communities can still prohibit alcohol.

In addition to vocabulary, there are other modern effects of Prohibition. For example, some states and counties are still dry. NASCAR racing developed because bootleggers modified their cars to be faster than police cars. In addition, when Prohibition was becoming less popular just before it was repealed, the Volstead Act was amended to permit the manufacture and sale of low-alcohol beer and wine with only 3.2 percent alcohol. That is why traditional American beers such as Budweiser are so weak.

That’s the podcast for this time. Slow American English is written and produced by Karren Tolliver. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.

For a free transcript and to subscribe to the podcast, visit www.SlowAmericanEnglish.net. You can also subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts.

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

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


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.