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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

WobblyJoe, Wwongsapun, and Amira I appreciate your contributions on providing very interesting information on your cultures. It was a learning experience for me and I encourage other readers to contribute information on their cultures that we all might develop and understanding of those who are different than ourselves. Thank You!

05:00 PM Apr 21 2018 |



United States

Thank you Princess, you’ve answered my questions exactly. It must be inspiring to live in an ancient land.

I understand what you mean about the artifacts, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. On the one hand, if all the artifacts are in one place, they risk being destroyed together, like the Buddha’s in Afghanista or the Library in Alexandria.

On the other hand, they are clearly stolen spoils of war, and should be rightfully returned to the people of Egypt as the things stolen by the Nazi’s are returned to the people from which those things were stolen. 

In the late 1970’s (around 1977-78), the “King Tut Exhibit” came to the USA, including the city I lived in. The lines to view the artifacts were the longest I’ve ever seen in the USA, tens of thousands of people lined up to see them, and my city isn’t a big city. 

There are also Egyptian artifacts in the local art museum. Nothing gold, but sandstone statues and walls. If they weren’t here, we would never see them, but of course, they don’t actually belong here.

Wwongsapun is from another nation with a well-known ancient history that is represented in our museums. There are similar stone statues and carvings from ancient Siam. We learn of Ankor Wat, the Thai cultural exchange sends dancing troupes who perform traditional Thai dances. There is Thai history in my city, taken from Thailand and displayed here. 

From here, Thailand and Egypt have a lot in common, both are ancient beautiful cultures whose art and history are spread across the world.

My brother honeymooned in Thailand, at Phuket, but I think he just went for the beaches, he’s not interested in history. 

Thank you both for answering my questions.

When you throw water on people, do you use buckets, balloons, hoses, or squirtguns?

Here, water is typically thrown in water balloons. 

07:40 PM Apr 16 2018 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hello WobblyJoe,

That’s an important point to discuss about Egypt. Ancient history makes the most and greatest part of Egyptian history. We yes see them as our ancestors, but on local trips we are no less impressed than any other tourist. We don’t take it for granted. We’re aware that those people made a great civilization of their own and in their own time. And we’re so proud of this part of our history.

Now that we talk about tourism, Most part of Egypt’s national income is based on tourism. Egyptians don’t see it bothering at all to see tourists around the country, completely the opposite, it enhances our sense of pride towards our history. Sharing what we have is no irritation, but others’ ownership of it is what is untolerable. The fact that Egyptian ancient items are scattered around the world is irritating indeed.

No doubt that we see them as great ancestors and that we descended from them, but going through thousands of years, and being ruled by Ptolemaic and Romans for no less than 2 thousand years then the Muslim conquest, each era contributed to the culture and history of Egypt. 

Thank you for asking and for your interest

01:43 PM Apr 15 2018 |




Today’s last day of long holidays in Thailand. We call this period Songkarn Days or Thai New Year, many people go outside to throw water to each other. It’s really fun festival for us. In deep to this culture we must to holy wishing to our parents, spend time with family. I am not good explanation , but I would like to share a little in this blog.

09:57 AM Apr 15 2018 |



United States

I wonder about the effect of living in an ancient nation, such as Egypt. 

How prevalent is the sense of history? Is there an attraction to ancient ways? Do the people think of those who built the ancient nation as their ancestors or as a vague people of history, the way people here might regard them. (having no direct connection to any of those people)

Do the locals visit the tourist sites also? Are they upset that their ancient temples,  homes, and burial places are now tourist attractions? Do you mind sharing your history or are the tourists who come to look at things built long ago an irritation?

There are so many questions, but that is the general idea of my curiousity. There are no ancient nations in the New World, every nation here knows the date it was founded and only the natives here have a history that predates 1492. I have no experience in living with ancient history at all, and I wonder about it’s effect on those who live with the past, and if there is a personal connection to the present. 

Thank you.

06:57 PM Apr 14 2018 |


United States

Amira, I appreciate your answer in how your culture treats those who make mistakes. It’s understandable to not accept ethical and courtesy mistakes. You’re right on point concerning people who are afraid to make mistakes when learning a language. Hopefully, they will see that it’s impossible to learn a language and not make mistakes because corrections will always be necessary. 

Thank you for your contributions and faithfulness in supporting Englishbaby.

03:43 PM Apr 12 2018 |

La Princesse de la vie


I think it depends on the type of mistake. My society doesn’t accept ethical and courtesy mistakes. But avoiding speaking a language fearing to make a mistake seems a matter of self-confidence. It’s tolerable and harmless to make this kind of mistakes, but most people don’t believe that.

08:18 PM Apr 10 2018 |


United States

I have a question for the Round Table. All cultures have certain attitudes and feelings about things. I have learned that in some cultures making a mistake is devastating not only because of the undesirable result of the mistake but the fact that a mistake was made. For example, I have read comments of people learning English to not attempt to use what they learn because they are afraid of making mistakes.

In American culture, making a mistake is not a devastating event but the person is expected to learn from the mistake and make the necessary corrections. However, it does not mean that as a country we have corrected many of our tremendous mistakes but there is recognition of the mistakes and a will to correct them.

Question: What do you or your culture feel about making mistakes?

06:44 PM Apr 09 2018 |


United States

Thanks, WobblyJoe for giving Amira and others some relevant information on American culture and especially from the “Show Me” State of Missouri. I learned some things from your story as well. Your contribution is appreciated.

I encourage others to join with you and Amira to contribute some information about their own cultures which will help our understanding of different cultures.

09:46 PM Apr 04 2018 |



United States

What an interesting topic!

Amira, the US is very large and I live pretty far from Mr. Alston so things are a little bit different here.

The important things like friendliness and generousity are the same, such virtures are deeply ingrained in the culture. Remember it only about six generations ago that people actually fought the natives and settled the West. In those times, survival was impossible without co-operation, even among strangers. 

I live in a mostly rural area, and like in Egypt, the lifestyle is slower here. I thought about saying more “laid back” (taking events in stride) or more “casual”, but we are neither compared to Southern California. Although Southern California is both of those things (very “laid back” and casual), so many people want to live in that area that the pace of life is far faster there than here. 

Because we are quite rural, sports are a popular way to pass the time, both playing and watching. In cities like mine, the local teams have an enormous presence (probably like a soccer team in a different country). We have most of the sports here, but they are not all “Major Leagues” (the top level), some of our sports teams are minor league or lower. 

Other popular pastimes include camping and hiking, since we aren’t far from the Ozark Mountains, and fishing and hunting. Other shooting sports like trap and skeet shooting are also popular, as that is good practice for quail season.

Oh, that reminds me, one thing I am actually quite proud of for my state, Missouri, and that is our Department of Conservation. When my parents were born, there were so few animal left in the Ozarks that the ecology was impacted. Deer, turkey, squirrels, beavers. eagles, elk, bear, and cougars (the North American lion) were all drastically  reduced, and several of the large species had disappeared completely. 

All are now present again, and the non-dangerous populations are in numbers never seen. There are more deer in my state now than there were 200 years ago. This was the result of separating the Department of Conservation from the State Government.

The dept. of conservation in my state told the state government a long time ago, “Just let us keep the fees, and we won’t ask for taxes”. They were so good with those fees (without politiicians the focus stayed on conservation) that they now have such a surplus of money they host a wide array of free programs for the people. Without politicians involved, Missouri is once again a hunting or fishing paradise. 

That’s it, but the pattern is copied world wide now. Other than Old West history, there isn’t much to distinguish my state from most of the states that border us. 

10:10 PM Apr 03 2018 |


United States

The Round Table Discussion Forum is open and you are invited to come and talk about problems and/or your success with English and an opportunity to learn about various cultures.

It’s up to you to participate and make it beneficial to help improve your English if that is your goal.

05:13 AM Mar 31 2018 |


United States

Amira, you’re welcome and thanks for submitting the positives and negatives of your culture as I have done for mine. It was a learning experience for me and I presume for others who read it.

I join with you in encouraging others to submit information on their cultures as well. It’s an activity we all can learn from that also has an influential relationship to language.

Once again, thanks for taking the time to share your information.

06:05 AM Mar 25 2018 |

La Princesse de la vie


Hello Mr. Alston,

That’s a good point to discuss. I’d like to weigh in.

It’s quite hard for me to gather the pros and cons and organize my thoughts, but I’m eager to try.

Positive characteristics of Egyptian Culture:

1- Strong family relations.

Individuals in one family are strongly related to each others and live together (Until marriage at least) And even after marriage they tend to visit occasionally and keep constant contact with their family members.

2- Religious people.

Egyptians are believers, whatever the religion they follow, they are inclined to follow their religion instructions.

3- Oppurtunities.

There are good opportunities but for those who work hard and seek self-improvement on a constant basis.

4- Contentment, simplicity and satisfaction.

Most Egyptians (especially rural people) are simply satisfied with the so little supplies they have and don’t covet what they don’t have. They’re also known for their simple lives and abandoning superficiality.

5- Generosity.

Egyptians are known for their generosity and their willingness and readiness to help others.

6- Friendliness.

Egyptians are friendly people. You will always feel welcome among Egyptians.

Negative characteristics of Egyptian Culture:

1- Centralization of the capital.

Most, if not all, the companies and international firms are located in Cairo. Businesses in the rest of the cities in Egypt are few and localized, therefore all the good job opportunities are only in Cairo.

2- No privacy.

Egyptians are so close and strongly related to each others that you don’t find privacy. They are always there for you to help and share, and also to interfere in your personal matters, thoughts and moves.

There’s absolutely more to mention, but that’s all I can think of for now.

Thank you M. Alston for this great idea :)

I’d like to hear from the others and know about their cultures too.

06:57 PM Mar 19 2018 |


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)

Native-Born American Innovators

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.

03:31 AM Mar 19 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.

01:35 AM Mar 08 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, 

11:25 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.

02:13 PM 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. :)

06:13 AM Aug 11 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.

10:40 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.

07:55 PM Aug 10 2015 |

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