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March 9, 2005 - Interview with an English Learner in Iran - 2005-03-08

AA: I'm Avi Arditti with Rosanne Skirble, and this week on Wordmaster: an interview with one of our listeners in Iran.

RS: Atefeh is a university student. She's studying English literature, so she reads a lot of classic books. But, like any young person, she's also tuned in to the latest slang.

AA: How do we know? Well, when we began our conversation and asked her "what's up?" instead of saying "not much, just relaxing," this was her reply:

ATEFEH: "Just chillin'."

RS: "Just chilling -- is that what you just said?" [llaughter]

ATEFEH: "I learned this from your program."

RS: "Well, what do you like about studying English? What is it, is it a ... "

ATEFEH: "Oh, no, actually I love the language. I love studying anything in English, actually any program on TV that is in English I watch it and I love it."

RS: "And it's something that you are obviously very good at."

ATEFEH: "Thank you. It's interesting to know that there is a big paper on my wall, and I write every new word that I learn every day. And I try to memorize them and memorize their usage, and then I highlight the words that I learn."

AA: "What are a few new words you've added to that wall."

ATEFEH: "Well, for example, 'bleak mood,' B-L-E-A-K M-O-O-D."

RS: "Ah, bleak mood."

AA: "What do you think that means."

ATEFEH: "It means a cold and cheerless behavior, actually, a kind of [inaudible.]"

RS: "That's right."

AA: "That's a ... "

RS: "That's a great expression. I mean, that's a very descriptive way of describing how somebody feels. If it's bleak, it's definitely not, it's definitely ... "

AA: "Where did you hear bleak mood?"

RS: "Or read."

ATEFEH: "I read it in a book. The book was called 'Chicken Soup for the Soul.'"

RS: "'Chicken Soup for the Soul' ... "

AA: "That's a very popular series of books."

ATEFEH: "Yes."

AA: "So what's another word that's on your wall?"

ATEFEH: "A beautiful word that was very funny to me was 'bunny.'"

RS: "Bunny ... "


RS: "OK, like a rabbit."

AA: "A rabbit."

ATEFEH: "Yes, a rabbit for a child. Actually a child uses this word, I think."

RS: "You know, another thing that you might be interested in is that sometimes, incorrectly, we say 'well, that's a bunny rabbit.' We use both of those words together -- that's incorrect in English because ... "

AA: "It's redundant."

RS: "... it's redundant. A bunny is a rabbit."

AA: "Now is there another word or two from your wall that you ... "

ATEFEH: "Yes, there's another expression: 'not to be on speaking terms.'"

RS: "'Not to be on speaking terms.' Now what do you think that means?"

ATEFEH: "Well, it means that we're not talking to each other anymore, we're not friends anymore."

RS: "Right, and somebody might say, 'well, why didn't you say hello to him?' and you would say?"

ATEFEH: "We're not on speaking terms."

AA: "That's right."

RS: "'We're not on speaking terms.' Exactly. Now, your English is quite good and you were telling us a little bit about how you are actually getting to a higher level. You have your wall where you write your expressions, and you also read a lot."

ATEFEH: "Yes, you know, actually I'm studying English literature, and they have emphasis on the literature actually, the literary works, Shakespeare's works or other things. But the phonology is very difficult for me. But I think I have to improve my GE, I mean General English. That is quite -- it's not that difficult, because I love it."

AA: "Oh, well that's good to hear."

RS: "It's been delightful talking to you."

AA: "Yes!"

RS: "Keep going with that wall. It sounds like you could definitely paper your house with new English expressions."

ATEFEH: "My Mom is always complaining about the wall. She says that 'you're just making the wall dirty, the room ugly,' such things."

AA: "Wait, you don't write on the wall itself, do you? You're writing on a piece of paper, or ... "

ATEFEH: "It's a paper."

RS: "Well, tell your mother that Avi and I say that you should keep those papers up there because you'll learn English more fluently."

ATEFEH: "OK, my Mom is hearing you!" [laughter]

AA: An English literature student named Atefeh, on the phone with us from Iran. She says that once she graduates, she wants to go on for a master's degree and then a Ph.D.

RS: We wish her luck. And we'd like to invite other listeners to tell us their strategies for learning English. We will share the responses in a future Wordmaster program. Our e-mail address is

AA: And, if you'd like help learning English, you can download over three hundred of our segments at With Rosanne Skirble, I'm Avi Arditti.