Learn English with English, baby!

Join for FREE!

Culture Forum

Culture Forum

Date: Oct 26 2013

Topic: Conversational English

Author: englishteacher24/7


A. Forum goals:

  • Provide information on other cultures from the readers.
  • Identify the relationships between culture and language.
  • Provide information on English-speaking cultures to develop an understanding of the English language used in a particular country.

B. Introduction:

  • Cultural influence - Culture has a direct influence on the language(s) used in society. Learning the culture of a society can identify some general characteristics of its people.
  • Cultural factors - Factors such as religion, economics, traditions, customs, natural resources, and politics influences culture.
  • Benefits of learning other cultures - Information about other cultures can help us to understand why people of a society do the things they do, even within the same country. Therefore, let us use this opportunity to learn from each other and seek to improve ourselves.


Log in to Comment


United States

For those who are following the “Growing up in the United States” series; Part 2C 1965-1969 -National U.S. life should be posted soon (hopefully later this weekend.) 

For those who haven’t read my growing up story and would like to, you can find them posted on the following dates in this Culture Forum:

Part 1 – Introduction was posted on February 21, 2015

Part 2 – 1960’s (1960-1964) posted on March 1, 2015 

Part 2B – Personal Life – “Moving from the Projects to the Suburbs” posted on March 17, 2015

Please stay tuned for my story during the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s, 2000’s, 2010-2015.

06:04 AM Apr 11 2015 |


United States

Thanks Samineh for your appreciative comments. I’ll resume writing “Growing up in the United States” -1965-1969 and post when it’s completed. 

06:53 PM Apr 04 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

i really miss your page..thank you so much for all your effort.


07:03 AM Apr 03 2015 |


United States

Easypeasy, Matin, and Anja thanks for your feedback. The value of a different perspective allows us to evaluate our own perspective and make necessary adjustments to improve.

When we have a “My way or the highway” perspective, force or coercion of one sort or another has to be used for an erroneous mindset to prevail. 

The logic of my 8th grade English teacher was that it is beneficial to have the experience of being around totally different people; otherwise it can be the “same old-same old” way of thinking.

Insider information can validate or invalidate perspectives.

In Part 2C we will see some of what happened in the United States from 1965-1969 and my high school accounting starting from 1969.

American culture came apart at the foundation and the status quo of society was more than disrupted and methods of operation had to change.

Stay tuned!

07:23 PM Mar 21 2015 |




I enjoyed the read, thank you! It’s nice to learn about your personal life, Alston!

I agree with easypeasy. Bless that teacher for thinking outside the box.

01:33 PM Mar 20 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Thank you Alston for your explaination. You let me learn new phrases.

I appreciate you letting us know much more about America and English.

01:53 PM Mar 19 2015 |


United States

Matin and S&W you both did a good job on identifying the meaning of the phrases. I added the last one after S&W submitted her response. Here are the answers:

1. Hold his own= Rising to the occasion and doing well despite the opposition. Matin your example was excellent; Patch could fight if it was necessary.

2. Right off the bat= Something happens immediately such as when a baseball takes flight after a batter hits the ball.

3. Have at it= Feel free to start doing something such as after a speaker concludes a message then the person may make a statement like: “If you have any questions, have at it!” You both indexed your answers to the context, in other words, I encouraged everyone to start asking questions or making comments. 

4. Playing for keeps= Doing something permanently or seriously. It comes from the game of marbles. In marbles you draw a large circle in the dirt and the players place the agreed upon number of their marbles in the circle. Then each player take turns and use their marble to hit one of the marbles in the circle.

If the marble that was hit goes outside of the circle, the person who hit the marble keeps it (if you’re playing for keeps). If you’re not “playing for keeps,” then the person would return the marble to the circle or owner.

I heard the lyrics of a particular song and the singer was telling his girlfriend that he was “playing for keeps” or in other words his relationship with her was going to be permanent and he was serious about it.

Finally, the owner of a company may tell the workers, “Our new product is going to beat the competition and we’re playing for keeps” which meant they are serious about beating the competition.

You may want to add these and the daily lesson phrases to your phrase vocabulary list, if you don’t have one, you are encouraged to start one.

Easypeasy, Thanks and I agree with you.

12:00 PM Mar 19 2015 |




Really nice post Mr.Alston! I’m glad you had this thought-provoking teacher in 8th grade, there should be more of this kind. School should also teach how to question things in society ect.

12:00 PM Mar 19 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

Thank you Alston for your bio and challenging question.

As S&W said, “Right off the bat” means immediately.

“Have at it” means start doing it. So you meant to start asking questions.

“Hold his own”, as I looked up, means doing well despite opposition. So Patch got mean when it was needed.

And I think “Played for keeps” means continue doing sth constantly.

Please let me know if they’re correct.

Thank you very much.

10:13 AM Mar 19 2015 |


United States

Hello S&W, thanks for your accolade and feedback on “Growing up in the United States” Part 2B. Your answers are correct except the first one. I’ll give the answer after others who may want to accept the challenge. I like your pro-activeness!

12:27 PM Mar 18 2015 |

1 person likes this




hey teacher Alston,You did great job, compared with the forth two part,this is the most my favorite one.I can’t wait for Part C.

I didn’t look up those phrases in dictionary ,below explanation is my understanding combined with you artical.

Hold his own,patch wasn’t aggressive ,but he has territory consciousness.

Right off the bat which means immediately,like big change happened overnight.

Have at it ,feel free to ask questions and write comment

Please let me know if i made any mistake.Have a nice day

02:42 AM Mar 18 2015 |


United States

Growing up in the United States – Part 2B The 1960’s (1965-1969)

Personal life – Moving from “The Projects” to “The Suburbs”

The Move

1965 went down in personal history as being one of the best years of my life.

Reluctantly, I said good-bye to my friends in the projects; Kurt who shot marbles better than anybody (and played for keeps), Gregory who was my closest friend and we often raced running (he always won), and Pee Dee (whose family was close to ours).

Nevertheless, we moved into our brand new house in January, 1965.  It was in the midst of winter and a lot of snow had fallen, not the ideal time to move but that’s when the house was ready for occupancy. Many houses on the street were not completely built; therefore there weren’t any friends to meet, except one, Curtis.

Curtis lived down the street and it wasn’t long before we made friends.  Since it was winter, activities involved meeting his family, shoveling snow from driveways and sidewalks, exploring houses in various stages of construction and walking through the snow to the closest store in the neighborhood with Curtis’ loyal dog named “Patch” accompaning us. Patch was a medium sized mixed black Labrador and wasn’t a mean dog but was able to “hold his own” if the occasion warranted it.

By summertime, many more people had moved in and another friend was met whose name was Charlie.  Charlie and I became really good friends into adulthood. We eventually occupied ourselves with train sets, slot car racing, decking out our bedrooms with a black light/posters and stereos on a shelf mounted on the wall.

As 1965 progressed, many people moved into their houses and families started buying new cars “right off the bat.”  All up and down the block were new 1965 automobiles such as: Pontiac Bonneville, Chevrolet Impala, Plymouth Fury, Ford Galaxie 500 and more.

You may wonder, “Wow, you all were rich!” No, these were just working people with automotive factory and related jobs working 10-14 hours a day and some worked 7 days a week. Over 8 hours you were paid 1.5 times your hourly rate and after 7 days you were paid double time (2x) and if on a scheduled holiday, triple time (3x) your hourly rate.  Furthermore, for some jobs working over-time was mandatory, that is, you had no choice unless there was a medical reason for your absence.

The U.S. economy was doing really good, U.S. car production was over 10,880,000 cars and trucks in 1965 and the industries supporting the automotive industry did well also. One model, the Ford Mustang came out as a 1964-1/2 model and was a very popular car selling over 500,000 vehicles in 1965.

Concerning the funds to purchase a house, hardly anyone paid cash for a house.  The U.S. government has an agency called “FHA” which stands for the Federal Housing Administration and their goal is to finance (through financial institutions) home mortgages for a certain income bracket with a low (3%) down payment of the borrower to promote U.S. home ownership.  Almost all of the houses in the neighborhood were about $15,000 or less, therefore, working people with a decent income could afford through a FHA mortgage to purchase a house.

Furthermore, purchasing an automobile was simply a matter of obtaining a car loan from your bank or credit union.  Please note, the U.S. economy has been, and still is, a credit-based economy, as long as you have a decent credit history, you can finance many things your income will afford you.

Junior High School Days:

Starting school was totally different for me since I came from an all-black neighborhood and school in the projects to an all-black suburban community and entered an almost all-white school. Ironically, there were more issues for me dealing with the various mindsets of some of the black students than with the fact that I was in an all-white school and learn to adjust to them.

For example, some of the students were automatically against white people, some were indifferent towards them and others treated them individually based on the substance of their character.

I fell into the latter category which made some of the former category of students upset with me and others with a like-mindedness.  I did not agree with anyone who thought I should be against a person solely because they are of a different race. How absurd!

However, sports brought students somewhat together on a common ground.  The majority of students supported the football and basketball teams and to a lesser degree the track team.

In my 8th grade English class, our teacher (who was white, short of stature with a beard, and had many children) was a very thought-provoking teacher and made the following statement to the class: “I would not send any of my children to an all-white school!”  Now this was an English class and not a Social Studies class, but we spent the whole class session discussing his reason for making this statement.  It was totally contrary to the mindset of many white people moving to the suburbs.  

However, it wasn’t until college that I was able to understand the logic of his reasoning which I will reveal in the “Growing up in the U.S. during the 1970’s” episode.

Another one of his thought-provoking questions was: “Does the end justify the means?”

Again, we spent a whole class session on this topic.  You may wonder, “When did you learn English?”  I believe his strategy was to incorporate English into the ability to express our opinions and align them with the grammar part later.  One thing is for sure; his class sessions were not boring and he made you think!

By the end of junior high school I had befriended many black and white students and still am friends with many of them over 40 years later.  The experience of accepting people of another race would serve me tremendously well in college where many of the students both black and white that did not have an inter-racial experience would seemingly feel more comfortable interacting with a Martian! (tongue-in-cheek)

If you have any questions or comments please “have at it.”

Stay tuned for Part 2C – “Growing up in the United States 1965-1969” –National Events and High School Days

Ps. There are a few phrases used in the text:

1. “Hold his own”

2. “Right off the bat”

3. “Have at it”

4. “Played for keeps”

Challenge: See if you can find the meaning of these phrases.


United States

S&W, it didn’t take a lot of money for kids to have fun, just creativity. Things are about to change in the next part. Thanks for your thoughts.

Lesya, it is always good to hear from you! Thanks for your honorable comments and I hope to be able to tell a part of my life in the U.S. in an understandable way.  Stay tuned as things are about to change in a big way.

01:47 AM Mar 11 2015 |

2 people like this




It is always great to know any kind of information or historic facts from the first hand. :)

Dear, Alston, you as usually have done a stunning work introducing us to the lifestyle you had in your childhood, introducing us with the events USA had at that time. 

This article is written in a very vivid and captivating way. I lived your life while I was reading it, indeed. 

It Is worth to stay tuned. It is quite interesting!!!!! :)

06:58 AM Mar 10 2015 |




teacher alson,the most attractive part for me in part two was personal life living in the projects.Being poor doesn’t mean not happy.kids created their own game and they have fun .Potientially they know a more developed age is coming ,everyone was looking forever to it which means live with hope .huge and unbelievable change happened,stubborned thinking mode was broken.what a crazy age!!!

01:09 PM Mar 09 2015 |


United States

Anja and Ola, you’re welcome and thanks for your feedback.

07:04 AM Mar 08 2015 |

1 person likes this




Great work, Mr Alston, and an ispiraton  for everyone of us to tell the history of our country. Thank you!

03:43 PM Mar 07 2015 |




I sat down with a cup of coffee and followed each word with the greatest interest. How well a good cup of joe and an interestingly written article complement each other! Time flew by and all I can say ” Thanks a bunch for the valuabe insights and the time you have spent to create this!

03:06 PM Mar 06 2015 |


United States

Easypeasy, thanks for your feedback; “The Projects” I once lived in am now torn down and live in my memory.  I intend to include a lot more personal examples in the next part that I’m writing now. The next part will start off with “The Move from the Projects to the Suburbs.”

So much happened in the second part of the 1960’s both personally and nationally that I might have to extend it into more than two parts. We’ll go on and see what the end will be.

02:49 PM Mar 05 2015 |

1 person likes this




Your post about the first half of the 60´s in the U.S was really interesting to read and it was cool that you involved some examples from your own experiences. Again I learnt much, I had no idea about “The Projects” for example, thanks 

07:17 PM Mar 04 2015 |

Likes (25):

See all >

Share this lesson:

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Bebo
  • Share on Myspace
  • Share on Twitter
  • Email this to a friend
  • Share on Sina

Post Ebaby! lessons on your blog:

Ebaby! Cast