01 November, 2012
Welcome to AMERICAN MOSAIC in VOA Special English.
I'm June Simms.
On our show this week, we play some music from Columbia Records, which is celebrating its one-hundred twenty-fifth anniversary...
We also read some of your posts to our blog "Confessions of an English Learner."...
But first, we report on the world of high school debate...
High School Debaters
Only a few days remain in the American election campaign. The recent presidential and vice-presidential debates were of special interest to high school debate teams.
Many debate teams compete locally and nationally for awards. The experience helps team members strengthen their skills in argumentation. It also makes them critics -- not only of the candidates, but of all the political talk they are hearing. Christopher Cruise has our story.
The high school debate team in the Texas community of Oakridge has won many awards.
Recently, some of its members argued for an extension of the federal ban on assault weapons. At the same time, other team members prepared to call for cancellation of the ban.
"This is a long-term ban, if you see before the ban..."
"So long will this ban have to go on? How long will we have to restrict people's rights?"
Debaters make their presentation with evidence and reason, while questioning the arguments of their opponents.
"The biggest fallacy we can possibly talk about is the ‘slippery slope' fallacy..."
Personal opinion has no place in debating. In competition, debaters must be able to argue either side of the question. This helps them understand both sides of any issue.
"So you're saying that if we continue with what's going on now, it's going to cost more money?"
"That, that's good, but you have to give evidence."
Deanne Christensen is the Oakridge High School Debate coach. She is in her eleventh year of helping young people learn how to argue effectively.
"And it's great when they disagree with each other. It's awesome to see them trying to defend their position."
High school debaters can be very critical of candidate debates and political discussions among adults, in general. Debater Jonathon McClanahan thinks political partisanship can weaken civility.
"I don't think we should have to hate the president to disagree with him – that's why I honestly believe that with partisanship we need to be more respectful to each other. We need to have bi-partisan bills passed. We need to work together more."
And debater Bryce Brady thinks high school debaters have a higher level of civility than many politicians.
"I definitely think politicians today could get a real lesson from a high school debate team."
Deanne Christensen believes some of these award-winning debaters will be the leaders of tomorrow.
"They're very smart and they want to see this country be successful because they are that future of our country."
We take a look now at some of the comments you shared with us on our blog, "Confessions of an English Learner." Many of you provided advice about how you learned English. We welcome the helpful information. Thanks to everyone who has joined the discussion on the blog.
One web visitor described his difficulty with two English language words that sound similar but are very different in meaning. Moises wrote from his home in El Salvador. He described a mistake he made on his first visit to the United States.
At the time, Moises was working on a cruise ship. It was his second day. He was organizing some of his belongings when a co-worker came into the room they were sharing. The co-worker asked, "Hey, my friend, do you want soap?" Moises wrote that he was surprised by the question and excited to use his English. He answered, "No thanks. I am not hungry."
Well, everyone in the room started laughing and Moises did not understand the joke. He said his new friends then explained that "soap" is something you use to wash yourself. "Soup" is what you eat.
Moises said this incident happened ten years ago. He added, "Do you imagine that I am an English teacher now?"
We also want to tell of a blog posting from Vietnam. Xuan Thanh wrote that she joined an English class two years ago to improve her skills in the language. Her teacher asked each student to write about something sad they had experienced. Xuan Thanh said that one of her classmates asked her how to write the name of a disease in English. She answered, "cancel."
Later Xuan Thanh looked the word up and realized she had made a mistake. "Cancel" means to end or to stop something that is planned. The disease her classmate wanted to write about was "cancer."
Thank you all again for the interesting posts. Please continue to share your English Learning experiences on our "Confessions" blog.
Columbia Records at 125
Columbia Records is turning one hundred twenty-five years old. Columbia is the oldest record label in the world. It became part of Sony Corporation in nineteen eighty-seven.
On Tuesday, Columbia Records released a book about its history. Faith Lapidus has more about it and plays some of the music Columbia made famous.
The book is called "360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story." It was written by historian Sean Wilentz. Most of his books have been political histories. He also has written about music and culture in magazines and newspapers for many years.
Critics praised one of his books, "Bob Dylan in America," which was published in twenty ten. Bob Dylan is also a major part of the new book "360 Sound." He recorded his first album, "Bob Dylan," with Columbia in nineteen sixty-two. His thirty-fifth album, "Tempest," was released in September of this year.
"Don't Think Twice, It's Alright" was a hit from his nineteen sixty-three record "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan."
In nineteen forty-nine, Columbia Records released one of the first albums based on a musical play. "South Pacific" was a big hit on New York's Broadway. Richard Rodgers wrote the music. Oscar Hammerstein wrote the words.
One of Columbia's earliest stars was Bessie Smith.
Billy Joel was a successful artist for Columbia later. In nineteen seventy-seven, the record label released one of his biggest albums, "The Stranger." Four of the songs were hit singles, including this one "Only the Good Die Young."
Right now Adele is one of the major artists with Colombia Records. We leave you with her current hit, the theme from the new James Bond movie "Skyfall."