Hi. Good morning everybody. How are you? Today I want to talk about the Dust Bowl, which happened in the 1930s, in the center of North America. I’m going to do it in ten minutes because it’s too big a topic to cover in five minutes. Don’t forget, if you click on the link down in the description you can find the script for this, you can find questions and answers. Please try the questions. You can practice your listening skills and your writing skills. Your English will improve if you try that.
Here we go. Ten minutes on the Dust Bowl. Three, two, one, go. OK. I live in Japan, here, right now, and every year we have a problem with sand blowing across from China, from basically the Gobi Desert. Happens once or twice a year. The particles of sand blow across and our things get covered in sand. It only happens a couple of times a year. Why is that relevant? Well, you’ll find out in a little bit.
Let’s talk about America. We’re going to talk about the plains of America. The plains are the central part of Central North America. America is basically bowl shaped. You’ve got mountains over here, mountains over here, and it’s flat in the middle. That flat bit is the plains. It spreads from Canada in the top, down as far as Mexico. Because the plains are in the center of the American continent, the North American continent, they suffer from continentality. What that means is that the center of continents don’t have the warming and cooling influences of the sea, so they get much hotter. They have more extremes of temperature. They get very hot in the summer, very cold in the winter. And this area of course has very strong wind. And it’s also very susceptible to droughts. Now, this is going to become important in a minute as well. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon. Today, I want to try and talk to you for ten minutes about Walmart, the American supermarket chain. And, before that though, don’t forget, if you click on the link in the description below here, you can find the script for this talk, you can find sample questions, answers and the MP3. Practice your English. You will get better. I promise you.
All right. Ten minutes about Walmart. Here we go. Three two one go.
Before we had Walmart, before we had supermarkets, one hundred, hundred and fifty years ago, early shops were much different to they are today. A shop would be small, obviously, and you would have assistants. You wouldn’t touch the produce yourself, you would tell the assistant what you want, and they would go and get the things for you. Things were not canned, they were usually loose in bags or baskets or drawers, and you would say to the assistant how much of something you want, and they would weigh it out for you. Shops only sold things that were grown very locally, of course, because there was no way of getting them around, there was no distribution network. You would buy fresh local produce, sometimes dried things, and that would be it. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon. Thanks for coming. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about the printing press. OK. This is going to be tricky but I’m going to do my best. Here we go. Five four three two one go.
Many people say the printing press is the most important invention after fire and the wheel. And there are many arguments to … that agree with that. I mean, do you read? Do you read books, newspapers, magazines, textbooks, adverts, posters? Everything pretty much we have in the world around us has been made because of the printing press. Do you know anything? Do you have knowledge? That’s because of the printing press and we’re going to talk about that in a second. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for coming again. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about the microwave. I forgot my clock. So, I’m going to use the timer on my watch. Are you ready? Here we go. Three. Two. One. Go.
The microwave oven. I’m sure nearly all of you have used a microwave oven at some point in your life, or at least seen one on TV. What do we use microwave ovens for? We use them for heating up our food. Now, how do they work? Well, inside the box that is your microwave you have something called a magnetron. The magnetron releases microwaves … radio waves. You know the shape of a wave. Like that. A microwave, each wave is about 12.2cm wide and the waves travel at 2.45GHz. One hertz is one wave a second, basically. So, 2.45GHz, if I can calculate that right, means about 2.5 billion waves a second. 2.5 billion times a second. That’s incredible. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for coming. I’ve still got a bit of a cold. I’ve got a very stuffed up nose, so hopefully you’ll be able to hear me. And it keeps running as well, so I’ll try not to let it run too much during the talk.
Today I want to talk to you for five minutes about the elevator, although I am from England where we say lift rather than elevator, so, if I do occasionally say lift, I mean elevator, and vice versa. Hopefully you’ll understand. OK? Are you ready? Here we go. Five minutes about the elevator in three, two, one, go. Continue reading →
Hi. Good morning everybody. Thanks for coming. I hope you’re well. Today, I want to talk to you about the Statue of Liberty. I’m going to give myself ten minutes for this one. I find if I don’t time these talks, I just tend to go on and on and on. Waffle on. So, I’m going to give myself ten minutes. OK. Are you ready? Here we go. The Statue of Liberty in ten minutes. Three, two, one, go. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon. It’s good to see you. Today, I want to try and talk to you for five minutes about paper. Alright, let’s see how I go. Here we go. Three. Two. One. Go.
Obviously, all of you write down some things during the day. And I’m sure you all write it down on paper. Most of you, anyway. Where does paper come from? Well, as a civilization, once we developed a system of writing, we had to write down on something, of course. In the very beginning, people chiseled shapes and words into rocks. And then, of course, you move from rocks to wood. You can carve words into wood. But, of course, wood tablets are not very portable, and once you’ve carved it, you can’t reuse them. Then we have wax tablets. Wax you can actually reuse. You can press it flat, you can write again. But, of course, wax tablets are not very portable either. Some civilizations even use gold. Gold sheets they carved … they chiseled words into the gold sheets. Now, all these ideas are fine for writing on, but they’re not very portable and most of them are not reusable. Continue reading →
Hi. Good afternoon. How are you? Thanks for coming. Today, I want to try and talk to you for five minutes about this, the common or garden pencil, and basically why we call this a pencil lead. OK. Here we go.
So, obviously we’ve had ways of drawing for thousands of years: paintings, inks, but the pencil is actually much younger than we think, well than I thought it was. I assumed the pencil was quite old, but it’s actually only about five hundred years old. The pencil was invented in about 1500. And the thing that made the invention of the pencil possible was the discovery of a large graphite deposit in a place called Grey Knots, in southern England … sorry, Northern England. Graphite is a very soft mineral. It’s very similar to coal. It’s a form of carbon and it’s very soft and it’s black, and when people discovered this graphite in the beginning, they thought it was a type of lead. They actually called it plumbago. And, even though graphite is not lead, the name kind of stuck. So, even now we say, “there’s lead in my pencil” or “I’ve broken the lead of my pencil” or “this is a pencil lead”. “Don’t suck your pencil, you’ll get lead poisoning”. Although, in fact, this is not actually lead, it’s just the name has stuck. Continue reading →
Hi. Good morning. How are you today? I hope you are having a good week. Today, I want to talk to you about football … soccer. Before that though, don’t forget, as always, if you click on the link in the description below here, you can find the script for this talk, you can find questions and you can find answers. You can practice your listening, your reading, your writing and your speaking, if you do the answers out loud.
Today, football … soccer. Where does football come from? Well, ball sports are very very natural. Humans kick naturally and there are many many round objects in the world. It is natural for us to kick round objects, so it’s quite natural that ball sports would develop. China had a sport called “cuju” from about 250 BC. Cuju basically means kick ball. Japan had one as well, Kemari, which again was a ball sport. Greece had “episkyros” in 250 AD. And Rome of course, had a game called “harpastum”. These were all played with inflated sheep or a pig’s bladder. Basically, you would take the bladder from the animal, you would fill it with air and you would seal it up. And it holds the air pretty well of course. The difference I suppose, in Asia these games were mostly ceremonial, whereas in Greece and Rome there was a large amount of violence in the games as well. They were probably more like today’s rugby than football. But, still, ball sports are very natural. Continue reading →
Hi. Good morning. How are you? I’m excellent. Thanks for coming. Today, I want to talk to you for five minutes about why English has a different word for the animal than it does for the meat. Here we go. Not sure if I can finish this in five minutes, but let’s try.
OK, most countries, they have the same word for the animal as they do for the meat. For example, cow, the meat word is cow meat. Pig – the meat word is pig meat. Something like that. But, in English, of course, we don’t. We have two different words. Cow – the meat is beef. Pig – the meat is pork. Sheep – the meat is mutton. Calf, which is a young cow, – the meat is veal. Deer – the meat is venison, and chicken – the meat is poultry. Why is that, well, basically, there’s a simple reason. Continue reading →
Talks in English. Improve your English and Learn Something at the same time. The long talks are between ten and twenty minutes. The short ones are five minutes. Each talk has subtitles, script, questions and answers. You can download everything as docx. MP3 also available. Your English will get better with practice.