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"The Round Table" Discussion Forum

"The Round Table" Discussion Forum

Date: Jul 13 2013

Topic: Conversational English

Author: englishteacher24/7


This is a lesson series where you can ask your questions on English, culture, technology, and things that are related.  Please feel free to submit your questions and/or comments here.


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United States

You have an open invitation to come to the Round Table Discussion Forum. The purpose is to have a forum where you can ask questions or make comments to assist in the learning of English or learning about another culture.

To start the conversation, I suggest for you to write on the following topics:

1. The positive characteristics of your culture.

2. The negative characteristics of your culture.

3. A curiosity you may have about another culture.

I’ll start first.

A. Positive characteristics of American Culture:

1. Freedom to be yourself  (Independence)

Americans are individualistic and desire to be expressive according to our own mind and do not like being like everyone else or owning the same exact thing that someone else has. For example, if a woman buys a certain dress, she doesn’t want to have the same dress another woman has. If a man buys a certain car, he doesn’t want it to be the same color as another man (who is near.)

2. Opportunity

It’s been said, “America is the land of opportunity” which is true but is not equal for everybody. However, for someone who has a creative mind and pursues their dream by working hard, it is possible to succeed. For example, many immigrants who barely can speak English have started businesses. I personally knew a Vietnamese man who worked hard, saved his money and bought a house to rent. After awhile, he bought another house to rent and eventually ended up with 4 or 5 houses and was a landlord to all the renters.

3. Innovation

The American culture is conducive for people to be innovative because you don’t have your thinking programmed by someone else. By thinking outside the box you can pursue your innovation and obtain funding from venture capitalists or investors who also are looking for ways to receive a good investment return on their money. 

The irony is that many innovators in America are non-native born Americans. For example:

Elon Musk (Space X, Tesla, PayPal founder from South Africa)

Sergey Brim (Co-founder of Google from Russia)

Alexander Graham Bell (Inventor of the telephone from Scotland)

Jan Koum (Co-founder of Whatsapp from Ukraine)

Steve Jobs / Steve Wozniak (Apple Inc.)

Bill Gates (Microsoft)

Jeff Bezos (Amazon Inc.)

Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) and others

4. Generosity

American people are very generous and willing to contribute to those who are in need.

5. Friendliness

People in American society are generally friendly and approachable. You could ask a total stranger for something and they would try to help you. This doesn’t include the criminal part of society. Just be aware of your surroundings and know if you’re not in Kansas anymore.

B. Negative Characteristics of American Culture:

1. Pre-occupation for money

From the very beginning of the American Culture, there has been an intense mindset to do whatever it takes to acquire money to this present day. This aspect of the culture has destroyed relationships, caused discontent, and the love of it has been the root cause of the evil that has permeated American society.

2. Materialism 

Although materialism depends of the attitude of the individual person, generally speaking, it can be generalized that the American culture promotes an excessive desire for things as opposed to developing good relationships. One of the first words of a child is “mine.” This mindset is promoted throughout society with a constant barrage of various messages telling you that you need this, that, and the other if you want to have a happy fulfilling life.

3. Institutionalized Bias

Notwithstanding the history of bias against certain people in American culture, it still is prevalent in society and is something that can be classified as a negative in the culture.

However, there is a desire to improve in this regard and is a continuing struggle to make things fair to all people.

Well, both lists could go on and on but these were written that I thought were at the top.

Feel free to ask any questions but I would rather avoid religious dialogue because of the strong feelings that are inherent in the subject.

Let’s come around the table and talk.

08:31 PM Mar 18 2018 |



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03:41 PM Mar 18 2018 |


United States

The Roundtable Discussion Forum is returning and the next topic will be on the positive and negative aspects of American Culture. Please stay tuned.

05:35 PM Mar 07 2018 |


United States

LaPrinces, you will find that there are many phrases to express dissatisfaction about anything. Whenever the phrase “rinky-dink” is used, it is a way of describing something that is “of little importance” or “something small” or “inadequate.” For example:

“Harry built this rinky-dink fence that if a fox climbed it, it would fall down!”

“For a million dollars you would expect more than a rinky-dink house.

“Tom spends a lot of time on rinky-dink projects.”

I don’t know the origin of this phrase. It doesn’t have to make grammatical or logical sense, many times phrases are created out of things that happened or maybe because it sounds good or thought up on the fly.

This is one phrase to add to a vocabulary list, thanks for asking, 

04:25 AM Oct 16 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hello again, Mr. Alston,

I was just reading a dialogue between two persons about how housing in San Fransisco is ridiculously expensive and the speaker was explaining to the other that if she wants to get a really small “rinky-dink” house, that will go for maybe $ 1 million.

My inquiry is about “rinky-dink”. That seems a compound adjective and also I think it affirms the small size and simplicity of the house. I usually see such words in dialogues between native Americans, but I fail each time to extract the exact meaning and also it seems confusing a little, because I have no clue about the origin of such words and where they come from.

07:13 AM Oct 14 2015 |


United States

La Princes, your gratefulness is appreciated. The only way for readers to show their appreciation to any writer or teacher is not remain silent but let them know what you think. :)

11:13 PM Aug 10 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Mr. Alston, thank you for the explanation. I gratefully appreciate it. Now I have a better idea of the expression and its implication. And thank you again for the advice regarding question #1.

It’s a greatly beneficial forum, of course I hope for it to continue.

Mr. Alston, you’re really devoting yourself for responding to our inquiries and providing us with very much helpful tutorial lessons. One would never know how to pay back for that.

03:40 PM Aug 10 2015 |


United States

Keimchi, thanks for your opinion, it is food for thought. Sorry for the delay.

La Princes, thanks for weighing in with your opinion for the Roundtable Discussion Forum, it there is interest, we can continue it.

In regards to your questions:

1. Even for native speakers, it takes more than one time to understand some new material. Therefore I suggest you do a cursory reading first, to get the main points. Then do another reading to acquire more details, and finally pick out words that you need a dictionary for.

To do it in one setting is like someone trying to eat a dinner at one time.

2. The phrase being “rough around the edges” basically means a person is not careful about how they express themselves or how they do things. For example, if Sara was invited to dinner and the dessert was too sweet, she may make a statement like: “Wow, your dessert was really sweet, what did you do, pour the whole bag of sugar in it!”

It very well may be that the dessert was too sweet, but for someone who is “rough around the edges” they may take the liberty to express themselves in this direct fashion.  Although this example may be somewhat extreme; I use it to magnify the meaning of the phrase.

By beginning the statement with “Sara is really funny when you get to know her…” implies that initially Sara seems ok,  but once you get to know her, you discover that she becomes “brash” (not being courteous in expressing herself.)

I hope this helps you and others, feel free to ask questions.

Owaissaleem, thanks for your thoughts about the Roundtable Discussion Forum, it’s what you guys make it.

12:55 PM Aug 10 2015 |



the roundtable discussion is very good forun for us this is the best way we improve my english and gets very useful infornatoin

12:55 AM Aug 10 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hello Mr. Alston. I like this idea of a round table for further discussion on English. Thank you a lot for providing us a hand on English. We all appreciate your efforts.

In fact, I got two questions, 

I was reading a contemporary American novel and I would say it’s hard not to get a dictionary with you when you come down to this. I almost finished a chapter of 5 pages in two hours!! My way of learning through reading, is applying all the vocabulary and expressions in a word file I created on my computer, so when I read it periodically, they would stick in my mind. My first question is, is this way effective and rewarding? And am I doing the right thing by taking a long time interpreting every unfamiliar word by a dictionary?

My second question is about an expression I found in the book, the scene involves two girls chatting in a restaurant when they were joined by a third one whom one of the two girls doesn’t like. The other told her “Sara is really funny when you get to know her. She’s just rough around the edges” My take on this is that Sara could be a good friend if they really got closer to each other, but she is just strict about her business stuff. I chose business stuff, because all that’s between Sara and the directed person is only business, and they are not getting along. Is there a better way of understanding this? 

06:44 PM Aug 09 2015 |



North Korea

Sheep like to be within the group  and   dog   is the  leader

monkeys   like  to  be  with   a  group  and there  is  one leader   .

Monkeys love to be in a group  and  imitation

human   like  to  be  with   a  group Classified about religion or the state or sex or something  

They love to live in their strotypical world  till  someone  clever  who doesnt  belong  to  thire world come  and solve there  proplems…

They could not be in other place of someone else because they do not have the imagination…and  the fight   because of  it.

they  Like murder And restrictions And Torture  and    they   want only  they    take  part  in  earth    As if the earth   is  exist only  for  them   .

trees    are  living   better    live and   than  human.

 neurotypical  are still  monkeys…they  dont  think .. there  someone else think On their behalf

as  if the  fate  of earth  depends   in  one person  and the   others  trilons  trilons  trilons     people is  trash

02:30 AM Jan 01 2015 |


United States

Ryo thank you for your thoughts on intelligence and conscientiousness.

Aimee, the following statements are grammatically correct:

She has a watch and a book.

She has a pen and an unbrella.

Watch the videos on my profile page on “articles” for a more detailed explanation. I’m sorry for the delay in responding to you both.

10:46 AM Jul 30 2014 |




Hi everyone!
I have a question, which ones of the following statements are correct grammatically?
She has a watch and book.
She has a watch and a book.
She has a pen and an umbrella.
She has a pen and umbrella.

02:43 AM May 25 2014 |




As I have always claimed, I am here not to teach or to convert you or anyone else. I am here for my own interests. As well, as far as I know, I have not broken any site rules. If you don’t like my commentaries, simply ignore them. Unless specifically solicited by you—none of my commentaries or opinions are for you anyway, so leave them alone, and go on about your business—as I respectfully ask you to permit me to do.

11:59 AM May 20 2014 |




very well said! :)

10:31 AM May 20 2014 |

1 person likes this




Define Intelligence 

06:36 AM May 20 2014 |




Finally we done with that topic,What’s the next ?

05:42 AM May 20 2014 |




It is said that maybe 90% of those at the age 60 and younger are able to speak English in Norway—no, not bragging. Many countries are bi or multilingual—again, to me, this isn’t a sign of notable intelligence.

Maybe I should have been more specific—cute. @(- _ -)@

The other options are not splitting the verb phrase as does option “c”—and yeah—done with that topic.

02:46 AM May 20 2014 |



United States

Not everyone in America speaks English.

I did not say speaking English makes you intelligent. I said speaking more than one language marks you (indicates to others) as an intelligent person. Thanks for your kind insinuations though.

You misread me too often.

Perhaps you should have asked the specific question.

The answer is C, the others are just words in random order.

09:02 PM May 19 2014 |




The point is that it (my question) was on a test. Maybe there in America one can choose to change a test’s format options—such as with preselected, multiple choice exams. Maybe that is why the TOEFL is having problems with its credibility—everyone can change test options according to his or her likes or abilities.
Choose the best option in completing this sentence.
I would not go with her (one girl), ___ (nor/I/will/go) with her (another girl).
a. I nor will go
b. go nor I will
c. nor will I go
Maybe with the American TOEFL, a test taker can choose to add an option “d”.
As for the combining of two sentences (clauses) into one sentence, that too was not an option, but then again, maybe it is with the TOEFL.

Note: Although I appreciate your kind words, I would suggest that it doesn’t take a very intelligent person to speak English—I mean, is everyone in America “intelligent” because he or she speaks English?

06:18 PM May 19 2014 |

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