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Mark: So, Todd, you run and operate this site,, yeah?

Todd: Yes.

Mark: How long have you been doing that?

Todd: I've been doing it now for about two years.

Mark: Two years. OK, and I've been on the site and there's a place where I can send a comment to you, right? Do people ever send, send you comments, or?

Todd: Yeah, actually, I get, I do, I get about five letters a day, usually, from people all over the world, some days more, some days less, and usually people are very sweet and they say, oh you know, "Nice Job" and sometimes they give me suggestions for how to improve the site.

Mark: Really! Do they ever, is anyone ever critical or say any negative things?

Todd: Well, the one, the main critical thing I get a lot, often is, "Why don't you have real authentic speech?" Like, why don't you have people talking natural. And actually, there's quite a few reasons why?

Mark: OK, well, I don't understand exactly because right now, you and I are talking (right) and this is not scripted, we're basically talking (right) we're talking off the top of our head, so how is this not natural?

Todd: Well, this conversation actually probably is more natural because I'm really explaining why I don't have natural conversations. It's kind of ironic, but I think because a lot of the conversations are staged. They're unscripted, but I do just sit down and ask two people to talk about something, and because I tell them to talk about it, it's not as natural as it would be in real life.

Mark: Ah, I see, because they're not, they didn't think of that topic on their own. They're given the topic and then, sort of, they must say something about that topic.

Todd: Right. And also there's a problem with just the recordings. You know when you record audio, you have to have the mic equal distance to both speakers, and so that means both people have to sit down and put on the headsets to get good quality audio, so in order to get people speaking naturally in real life, I would have to follow them around with a microphone, and it's, technically it's just too hard to do.

Mark: So what do you do to try to, is that, well let me ask you, actually, is that the only criticism that you get?

Todd: Ah, no, there's, well, there's quite a bit. The other criticism is that, this is the funny part, it's either too easy, or it's too difficult, so usually

Mark: So you need more intermediate.

Todd: Well, I guess that's what they say, they say that there's not enough stuff for low level listeners, and there's not enough stuff for the advanced listeners.

Mark: So what do you think your gonna do in the future to address those needs?

Todd: Well, hopefully by next year, Ill be able to have enough that I can do both. For the people who really want high listening, or more advanced listening I think they should just go to the links page and listen to authentic stuff, because if you're listening is that good then, that's probably the best thing to do, but I do need to start working on stuff for beginners soon.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson


They give me suggestions for how to improve the site.

When you 'improve' something, you make it better than it is right now.  Notice the following:

  1. There are many ways to improve your exam scores.
  2. She really wants to improve her German speaking ability.


Why don't you have real authentic speech?

If something is natural, unchanged and not created, then it is 'authentic.' The pyramids in Egypt are authentic historical architecture.  Notice the following:

  1. He bought an authentic painting for his wife's birthday.
  2. There were thousands of authentic weapons in the museum.

off the top of our head

We're basically talking off the top of our head, so how is this not natural?

If you talk 'off the top of your head,' you are saying what you have stored in your memory.  Notice the following:

  1. I can't remember her address off the top of my head.
  2. She couldn't remember his name off the top of her head.


It's kind of ironic.

When something is funny because it is different or opposite from what you would expect, it is 'ironic.' Notice the following:

  1. It was ironic that the only thing I forgot to bring with me on my Caribbean vacation was my swimming suit.
  2. Ironically, I gave away my old bed weeks before my new one was stolen.


I think it's because a lot of the conversations are staged.

If a situation is planned in advance, then it has been 'staged.'  It isn't natural or authentic.  Notice the following:

  1. The argument was clearly staged.
  2. They staged a car accident to attract the attention of the police, and then they robbed the bank.

Vocabulary Quiz

improve • authentic • head
ironic • staged
  1. It's kind of that you lost your keys right after you said you never lose anything.
  2. He has worked really hard to his basketball skills this season.
  3. Can you think of some good birthday present ideas off the top of your ?
  4. Although they sad that nothing was planned, the whole situation felt a bit .
  5. Staying with a family when you are in Argentina will give you a very experience.
Answer the following questions about the interview.


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