English Challenge 03

I.  Article

A. Yellowstone National Park – Link / Extra Optional Exercises

B. Read and Record – Excerpt & Questions /


  1. Yellowstone Park is a U.S. national park located mainly in the state of Wyoming.  It has mountains, rivers, lakes, hundreds of different kinds of animals, hot-water springs, and an active volcano.  More than two million people a year visit Yellowstone Park.  In this section, you will read some of the rules for visitors to Yellowstone.


  1. Permitted only on established public roads, parking areas and designated routes, so feel free to bring bikes on your vacation to Yellowstone National Park. However, keep in mind that bicycles are prohibited on boardwalks and backcountry trails.


  1. This makes for a fun and exciting adventure during your Yellowstone vacation in the park.  Be sure to obtain a boating permit before you take to the water.  Boaters must have a Coast-Guard-approved, wearable, flotation device for each person boating.
  2. Yellowstone Park Boating Permit:  A 10-day motorized boat permit costs $10; an annual permit is $20.  Non-motorized boat permits cost $5 for 7 days or $10 for the season.


  1. A great adventure to include during your Yellowstone vacation, climbing is allowed in only a few areas of Yellowstone National Park; however, it is illegal in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Park area.  Contact the backcountry office in Yellowstone for more information.

Disturbing Yellowstone Park Features

  1. Possessing, collecting, removing, defacing, or destroying any natural or archaeological objects, plants, animals, or minerals is prohibited.


  1. Motorcycles, motor scooters, and motorbikes are not allowed off-road or on trails.  Operators must have a valid driver’s license and vehicles must display valid state license plates.  Seat belts must be worn by all people driving or riding in vehicles.  Slow-moving vehicles must pull over to let others pass.  Never stop or pause in the middle of the road.  Use pullouts!  Speed limit is 45 mph.

Feeding wildlife

  1. Is against the law.


  1. Permitted only in designated Yellowstone camping areas, in picnic areas with fire grates, and in some backcountry campsites.  Any dead-and-down material may be used as firewood, but chain saws are prohibited.  Thoroughly extinguish all fires.


  1. Your food must be attended to while not in storage and must be stored properly. Never leave food outside your vehicle or in Yellowstone camping areas when you’re away or sleeping, as it may very well attract unwelcome visitors.


  1. Illegal throughout the park and in Yellowstone camping areas.


  1. Pets are allowed to come with the family on your vacation to Yellowstone National Park; however, certain restrictions (for their own safety) are in place. Whether in a Yellowstone camping area or just exploring the park, pets must be leashed and are prohibited from trails, in the backcountry, and in thermal basins.  Pets are not allowed more than 100 feet from a road or parking area.  Leaving a pet unattended or tied to an object is prohibited.

D. Comprehension Questions

  1. What is the main theme of this article?
  2. List at least three things that are prohibited at Yellowstone Park.
  3. To go boating on the water, what two requirements must be met?
  4. I see a deer. Can I feed it some of my food?
  5. I see some dead tree branches lying on the ground. Can I use those to burn and make a fire?

E. Grammar Questions and Notes

  1. In Paragraph #1:
    1. What do we call the comma just before the word “and”?
    2. Is this comma mandatory or optional?
    3. What is Teacher Lee’s opinion on this comma?
  2. In Paragraph #2, why is there a comma after “However”?
  3. In Paragraph #5, the word “however” occurs in the middle of a sentence. How is it punctuated in this location?
  4. In Paragraph #7:
    1. What part of speech is “slow-moving”?
    2. Why is it hyphenated?
    3. List one more example of this kind of part of speech in the reading above.
  5. In Paragraph #10:
    1. What is the subject of the verb in the phrase “Never leave”?
    2. How many FANBOYS coordinating conjunctions are in that paragraph?
    3. What is a synonym for “as” in that paragraph?

II.  Song

A. Hotel California – Link / Questions /

B. Story

This is a spooky song about a traveler on a dark lonely highway (Line 01) who sees a shimmering hotel ahead in the distance (03). Inexplicably, he suddenly becomes very fatigued (tired and sleepy) (04), which forces him to stop at the hotel and stay for the night (05). Upon entering the hotel, he is met by a beautiful woman who invites him in (06). He then hears the ominous gong of a church bell (07) and, for a moment, a thought flashes into his mind that he could possibly be entering Heaven (a place of extreme happiness) or Hell (a place of extreme torment) (08-09). The hotel seems very plush and inviting at first, and he imagines that he hears voices welcoming him to the hotel (12-18).

Then he learns that things are not what they seem (he suspects something is wrong) (19-37). He attends a feast (a banquet or a large, fancy meal) in a large room (38-39) and discovers some kind of monster (40) that is perhaps going to feast on (eat) the guests instead! The guests try to kill the beast with steel knives but they can’t hurt it (40-41). He flees from the room (42-43) and tries to leave the hotel (44-45) but finds that he is trapped in the hotel forever and can never leave (47-40). It is at this moment that he realizes that his previous musing thought was prophetic — he has indeed entered Hell.

C. Lyrics

  1. On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
  2. Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
  3. Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
  4. My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
  5. I had to stop for the night
  6. There she stood in the doorway;
  7. I heard the mission bell
  8. And I was thinking to myself,
  9. “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”
  10. Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
  11. There were voices down the corridor,
  12. I thought I heard them say…
  13. Welcome to the Hotel California
  14. Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
  15. Such a lovely face
  16. Plenty of room at the Hotel California
  17. Any time of year (Any time of year)
  18. You can find it here.
  19. Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she’s got the Mercedes bends
  20. She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
  21. How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
  22. Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.
  23. So I called up the Captain,
  24. “Please bring me my wine”
  25. He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine”
  26. And still those voices are calling from far away,
  27. Wake you up in the middle of the night
  28. Just to hear them say…
  29. Welcome to the Hotel California
  30. Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
  31. Such a lovely face
  32. They’re living it up at the Hotel California
  33. What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
  34. Bring your alibis.
  35. Mirrors on the ceiling,
  36. The pink champagne on ice
  37. And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
  38. And in the master’s chambers,
  39. They gathered for the feast
  40. They stab it with their steely knives,
  41. But they just can’t kill the beast.
  42. Last thing I remember, I was
  43. Running for the door
  44. I had to find the passage back
  45. To the place I was before
  46. “Relax,” said the night man,
  47. “We are programmed to receive.
  48. You can check-out any time you like,
  49. But you can never leave!

Questions for the Students

  1. Many listeners have their own interpretation of what this song is saying.  What does this song mean to you?
  2. If you were about to enter a place that suddenly sent chill bumps down your back (made you feel suddenly unsafe), what would you do? Would you go in anyway?
  3. Are you a hedonist?


  1. A “shimmering light” (03) could refer to a mirage, which is an image that is so faint (dim) and indistinct (blurry) that you aren’t sure if it’s real or imagined. (This sentence uses a “so-that” clause.)
  2. (11) He didn’t hear people talking; he heard “voices”. Stating it this way implies that he may be thinking that these voices were those of disembodied ghosts rather than living people.
  3. (13-18) Hotel California seems to be an ideal place to stay — lots of nice places and pretty faces, lots of room, and all available anytime of the year.
  4. (19) This line refers to greed by using two double entendres. A twisted mind is an insane mind.  Tiffany’s is the name of a famous jewelry store in New York City that sells very expensive diamonds.  “Tiffany-twisted” sounds like “definitely twisted”.  Is she crazy or does she just like diamonds?”  The bends” is a life-threatening illness caused by scuba diving too long or too deep.   Mercedes Benz” is an expensive car for rich people.  Is she rich or is she dying or perhaps already dead?
  5. (20) “She calls friends” means that, though she calls them friends, they may not be friends in reality. She may be a rich, shallow person who doesn’t really care about her “friends” at all.  She may just keep them around to amuse her.  They may be her “toy boys” (young men who offer sexual favors to rich women).
  6. (22) This line expresses the grief of the loss of a loved one (dance to remember) or the guilt of a past, bad sin (dance to forget).
  7. (24) Wine is usually used to celebrate a happy event. This line could imply that this hotel has had nothing to celebrate since 1969, which implies it is now a sad place to stay.  In 1969, the USA landed an American on the moon.  The vehicle was named “Eagle”.  In that year, America enjoyed a great sense of pride and patriotism.  No event since then has made us feel so optimistic and hopeful about the future.
  8. (27) Hearing voices that wake you up in the middle of the night (long after bedtime) is unusual. Why are these “people” awake so late? What are they doing? Are they doing something nefarious (evil) perhaps?
  9. (33) A “nice surprise” could refer to a newly discovered forbidden pleasure. (34) An alibi is an excuse, usually a lie, concocted to “prove” that you could not have done some sinful or evil action that you are accused of doing.
  10. (35-36) Honeymoon suites in a hotel (or rooms in a motel for illicit sex) may have mirrors on the ceiling so a couple having sex on the bed can see themselves in the mirror on the ceiling. This may be a turn-on (slang for something that excites you sexually) to some people. Pink champagne is often provided to newlyweds to celebrate their happy event (just married).
  11. (37) “To be a prisoner of your own device” means that you have done something evil for so long that circumstances force you to continue doing it whether you want to or not. In other words, you can’t stop doing something evil.
  12. (40) Normally we would say “steel”, not “steely”. “Steely” was used here as a “salute” to a musical group called Steely Dan.  Steely Dan referred to the Eagles in one of their Steely Dan songs (which is a “salute” to the Eagles’ fame, of sorts), so the Eagles returned the “salute” by mentioning “Steely” in this Eagles song.
  13. (47-49) These lines tell the traveler that he is trapped in Hotel California forever. While he may think he is free (you can check out anytime), in reality he is a prisoner forever (you can never leave).  He has entered Hell (or perhaps Purgatory).


A. Three Lessons on Success – Link /

B. Read and Record – Excerpt & Questions /

  1. “Mom, who are these people?” It was an innocent question from my young daughter Alia around the time when she was three.  We were walking along with my husband in one of Abu Dhabi’s big fancy malls.  Alia was peering at a huge poster standing tall in the middle of the mall.  It featured the three rulers of the United Arab Emirates.  As she tucked in my side, I bent down and explained that these were the rulers of the UAE who had worked hard to develop their nation and preserve its unity.  She asked, “Mom, why is it that here where we live, and back in Lebanon, where grandma and grandpa live, we never see the pictures of powerful women on the walls? Is it because women are not important?”

  2. This is probably the hardest question I’ve had to answer in my years as a parent and in my 16‑plus years of professional life, for that matter. I had grown up in my hometown in Lebanon, the younger of two daughters to a very hard-working pilot and director of operations for the Lebanese Airlines and a super-supportive, stay-at-home mom and grandma.  My father had encouraged my sister and I to pursue our education even though our culture emphasized at the time that it was sons and not daughters who should be professionally motivated.  I was one of very few girls of my generation who left home at 18 to study abroad.  My father didn’t have a son, and so I, in a sense, became his.
  3. Fast-forward a couple of decades, and I hope I didn’t do too badly in making my father proud of his would-be son. As I got my Bachelor’s and PhD in electrical engineering, did R&D in the UK, then consulting in the Middle East, I have always been in male-dominated environments.  Truth be told, I have never found a role model I could truly identify with.  My mother’s generation wasn’t into professional leadership.  There were some encouraging men along the way, but none knew the demands and pressures I was facing, pressures that got particularly acute when I had my own two beautiful children.  And although Western women love to give us poor, oppressed Arab women advice, they live different lives with different constraints.
  4. So Arab women of my generation have had to become our own role models. We have had to juggle more than Arab men, and we have had to face more cultural rigidity than Western women.  As a result, I would like to think that we poor, oppressed women actually have some useful, certainly hard-earned lessons to share, lessons that might turn out useful for anyone wishing to thrive in the modern world.  Here are three of mine.

D. Comprehension Questions

  1. In the full TED Talk presentation (transcript), the speaker shared with us three, hard-earned lessons that she had learned. What were they?  (Hint:  All three are single-line entries in the transcript.)
  2. What is meant by a role model?
  3. Describe the speaker’s family where she grew up in her hometown.
  4. Who did Arab women in the speaker’s generation view as “role models”?
  5. How many role models has the speaker found in her lifetime so far?

E. Grammar Questions and Notes

  1. In Paragraph #1, why is there a comma after “Mom”? (new comma rule for you)
  2. In Paragraph #2, there is this statement:
    “My father had encouraged my sister and I to pursue our education”
    Can you identify a grammar error in this sentence?
  3. In Paragraph #3, what do you think “would-be son” means?
  4. In Paragraph #4:
    1. What does “turn out” mean?
    2. What does “juggle” mean in this context?
    3. What does “oppressed” mean?
    4. What does “rigidity” mean?

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