Improve your ability to speak English

Add, Subtract, Multiply, and Divide

B :   Hello there, Terry. How are you doing?
G :   Not too well. I’m really having trouble figuring out this arithmetic assignment. I can add and subtract pretty well, but without a calculator it’s difficult for me to multiply and divide. Hey, Olaf, I heard that you’re excellent in math.
B :   My technique is that I try to imagine pictures in my mind, so the numbers aren’t just figures on a page, but something I can apply to real life. One way I do this is to imagine the numbers as if they were money. For example, if the equation is 753 minus 236, I think about seven dollars and 53 cents minus two dollars and 36 cents. It’s five dollars and 17 cents, or 517. Easy!
G :   Wow, that does seem easier, for adding and subtracting. But how do you apply this technique to multiplying and dividing?
B :   OK, suppose the equation is 200 times 30. 30 is three groups of 10. So, first I imagine 10 groups of people standing in a large field. Next to each
group is a sign with the number 200 on it. At the front of the field is a huge sign with the number 2,000 on it, because 200 times 10 equals 2,000, right? But the problem requires 200 times 10 three times, so, I just add two more fields of people to my picture, with two more signs that say 2,000. Now I have 2,000 times three. The answer is 6,000!

I Spy

B :   Dad, this is so boring, just sitting back here with nothing to do!
M:   Playing a game is a fun way to pass time on a long car trip.
B :   OK, but what kind of game can we play when we’re going 70 miles an hour in a car?
M:   Well, when I was young, we used to play a game in the car called “I Spy.” One person decides on an object that he or she can see, and tells us its color, then the rest of us have to ask yes-or-no questions to try and find out what it is.
G :   I’ll go first, and I spy something that’s. . .
B :   Hey, I wanted to go first!
M:   Billy, let your sister begin. Remember, it’s considered good manners to let girls and
younger children have their turn ahead of us.
G :   Yeah, remember your manners, stupid!
M:   Betsy, it’s also good manners to treat each other with respect, and not to call people names. I think you need to apologize to your brother.
G :   I’m sorry, Billy. Let’s start, OK? I spy something small and green, it’s on the steering wheel, and. . .
B :   Stop, Betsy! Dad said that you’re only supposed to tell us its color, not its size or location or anything else.
G :   Oh no, I forgot!
M:   That’s OK, honey, everybody makes mistakes. Remember the saying: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
G :   OK, let me try again. I spy something. . .

American Families Today

W:   American families today are very different from what they were about a hundred years ago. The main difference is that families are now much smaller. In the past, most families lived on farms. They needed children to help them work.
Today, most families live in cities. Parents do not expect their children to work for them. It is also becoming very expensive to raise and educate children. Many parents cannot afford to have a large family. Others think that there are already too many people in the world. If they have more than two children, it will increase the population.
Also, the types of families are changing. Statistics show that there are more single parents than ever before. More and more unmarried couples are having children, and a growing number of couples are choosing to have no children at all. Traditional families—a married couple with children—live in less than 25 percent of all US homes.
One reason for this trend is the greater number of working women. In the past, women depended on their husbands for money. Now, many women have jobs. They don’t have to be married to have money. Another reason is divorce. This is when a husband and wife decide not to be married anymore. Almost half of all US marriages end in divorce. Many people decide not to get married at all. They prefer to be single and live without a husband or a wife.

Making Decisions

G :   How does your family make important decisions? Do children have any say in making these decisions, or do parents simply tell them what to do? There are several different methods for making family decisions.
One method is to have a vote. Each family member writes his or her own choice on a piece of paper. With this method, each person gets equal say in the issue being decided. What if the vote is a tie? You should think of an idea to break a tie before you vote.
A second method is to give older children special privileges. If you’re moving into a new home, for instance, the oldest child might get first choice of bedrooms.
A third method is to take turns making the decisions. Suppose a family goes on vacation together each year. One year they might let their daughter decide where they should go. The next year, the choice goes to the son.

A fourth method is to let the head of the household decide what is best. That is the way we do it in my family. The head of our household, my father, listens to all our opinions. Then he makes a decision. We agree to follow his decision, even if we don’t like it.
Making family decisions is not always easy. The important thing is to choose a method that everyone agrees on. That could cause a problem, however. Which method should you use to decide which method to choose for making decisions?

My Favorite Teacher

M:   The best teacher I’ve ever had was Mr. Lambert, my high school French teacher. He was short, with dark hair, a thick beard, and a big smile. His legs were short, too, so his arms always looked too long. He was a very good teacher because he always brought so much energy to the classroom. His classes were never boring because he was always active, trying to find new methods to communicate ideas. Because he taught French, English wasn’t allowed in class, so he often had to demonstrate the meaning of new words through gestures and acting.
Once, he had to communicate the word “above” without saying it in English. First, he pulled a desk near the blackboard, and then put a wastebasket between the desk and the blackboard. Next, he put his feet on the edge of the blackboard and his hands on the desk so that he was above the wastebasket. I’ve never forgotten that demonstration. It was difficult not to enjoy the subject when he was so excited about teaching it.
The most important reason that Mr. Lambert is the best teacher I’ve ever had is that he loved all his students, even when we made him angry by speaking English in class. Whenever that happened, the students always felt guilty because they had so much respect for him. Now that I’m a teacher, I try my best to be like Mr. Lambert. He is my role model.

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