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Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

Date: Oct 03 2006


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

Every country in the world has homeless people. While poorer countries tend to have more people on the streets, go to the larger cities anywhere, from Paris to Beijing, from Buenos Aires to Toronto. Eventually you will see the people who are not as fortunate as the rest of us.

Most people who are homeless are people who have fallen through the cracks. Many are mentally ill or disabled. Others lost their jobs or ran out of money. Some have just had bad luck.

When most people come into contact with a homeless person, especially if that person asks for money, we feel a variety of emotions. We feel sad for that person, or we might feel scared of that person. Maybe we feel guilty.

People respond to homeless people differently too. Some of us avoid eye contact and ignore them. Others say hello. Still others give money, cigarettes, or even buy the person a meal.

Erin and Kevin talk about homelessness in Portland, Oregon.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Erin:  You know, I was actually talking to some of my friends from out of town and they were commenting how they feel like they’ve been approached by more homeless people here in Portland than they have in almost any other cities like LA or New York and I kinda think that’s sad. Um…

Kevin:  It’s very sad. Um, I have a friend who… an old roommate of mine… who works for, um, a youth transition shelter, a transitional home for homeless youth, and he tells me that one of the… It’s a double… it’s a real double-edged sword because Portland offers more services for homeless people than almost any big city in the US…

Erin:  Really? Huh.

Kevin:  So some… ironically, homeless people move here…

Erin:  Wow.

Kevin:  ...for the services. Um, but I mean, there are a lot of homeless people. I think the only city where I’ve seen more is San Francisco.

Erin:  Yeah. I’m sure everybody has a story and it’s good that we have services and stuff. I’ve had friends and I’ve heard stories about some of the homeless getting kind of violent, like coming and demanding money, and cornering people, trying to be intimidating. I’ve had the same guy come and ask me for money and, like, I would give him money one day and then he would come back and ask me for more the next day and it’s just kinda like…

Kevin:  Again and again.

Erin:  But… I don’t know. It’s just… I know that there’s a lot of challenges there but I do feel like some of the behavior that people get trapped into can be really frustrating and really hard for people to cope with sometimes as well.

Kevin:  And it’s uncomfortable.



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Erin says that her friends from out of town have been approached by more homeless people in Portland than in other cities.

Kevin says that it’s ironic that there are a lot of homeless people in Portland. It’s ironic because Portland has services in place to try to deal with its current homeless population. But if people keep moving here to use the services, then the homeless population will grow, and the city will need more services to handle them.

Erin tries to be compassionate toward the homeless, but she says that it can be difficult to be confronted in an aggressive manner.



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05:05 AM Oct 03 2006 |

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