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English Dialogues

Follow a story in English through free English Dialogues. There are three levels:

Real Conversations

Recordings of real conversations and interviews, with transcripts of the conversations so you can read and listen at the same time. It is a good way to learn real English.

English Lessons

Dozens of useful English lessons and ideas for teachers and students of any language. Explore the variety of free English lessons and learn!

Interactive Stories

We use stories to learn. The stories contain questions. Learn a new technique for learning languages. It is fun and educational at the same time!

Easy English

Recordings of Easy English Lessons for Beginners.

Bilingual Recordings

Learn ANY language through our bilingual English/Other Language (EOL) files and LLL Service (Live Language Link-up Service).

Almanac

Learn the language of news and weather and world events while following news and weather and world events, and learn to understand and write about them in the English Conversations Almanac.

Who is the New Finance Minister?

Earthquake Metaphor

Syriza – the hard left party behind a seismic shift in Europe.

Note the metaphor of earthquake and sudden violent change “a seismic shift”.

Stage or Film Metaphor

Elected against a backdrop of austerity, recession and massive unemployment.

Note the metaphor from cinema or theatre. Actors perform in front of a backdrop. Are politicians actors? Which famous politicians were once movie stars?

Ron Paul
Joresph Estrada
Ronald Reagan
George Bush
Arnold Schwazzennegger
Barack Obama

Metaphor of Storm and Physical Collision

It is set for stormy times as it collides with the European Union over renegotiation of Greece’s massive debt.

In this metaphor, the negotiations between Greece and the Eurozone are cast as “stormy” (dangerous) and violent (collision).

Metaphor of Fire

And the man charged with leading Greece’s negotiations, rather than a firebrand radical, is a self-styled accidental economist.

A firebrand is a burning stick. Is the Finance Minister dangerous and hot like fire?

The simple answer is “no”.

Yanis Varoufakis is a Greek

Media savvy 53 year old Yanis Varoufakis gained thousands of fans and followers with his tv appearances, blogs and poetic tweets about economics and austerity.

Reference to a Song

Greece is absolutely irreversibly committed to staying in the Eurozone. You see the problem is, once you are in – just like if you recall the Eagles song Hotel California – “you can check out any time you like but you can never leave.

Simile or Metaphor?

He rejects convention, saying that his approach to economics is like “an atheist theologian in a middle ages monastery”.

Note the use of “like”. A simile is a type of metaphor. We see one thing in terms of another.

Study

He studied at Essex University before teaching at universities around the world.

Metaphor of Conflict

An international man now needed to face Greece’s international creditors. He will be up against the EU, the European Central Bank and the IMF.

Note “he will be up against” frames the meeting as a conflict or competition.

Winners and Losers

“The problem with the way that Europe has been dealing with its crises since 2010 is that everybody is a loser. When we could have a much more rational way of dealing with the crisis where the average European citizen pays less for this unfolding never-ending debacle.”

Is life a competition? Can we live together and everybody has enough? Or do we have to compete like animals to see who is the winner and who is the loser?

Link to Employment Vocabulary

Link to an interactive story about a stormy life


Link to easy reading and vocabulary activity about a Storm.

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Learning Academic Vocabulary

When we learn vocabulary there are many techniques.

many techniques
many ways to learn

There are also some basic common sense rules.

Rule One: Learn a phrase before a word.

learn a phrase before a word
learn a phrase rather than a word
learn a whole phrase rather than an individual word
learn a whole phrase rather than just an individual word

If you learn a whole phrase instead of just a word, you will get many clues to the meaning.

Language is not just lists of words. Language has meaning. Language has context. Much of meaning comes from context. (See below)

Language and Thought

Language is a way of communicating ideas but those ideas themselves are the product of thought:

the product of thought
the framework of thought
the building blocks of thought
the products of thought
the mental framework of reality
the cognitive background of the world

Thinking and Speaking

To learn a language is to learn a system of thought. To learn academic language is to learn the system (or systems) of thought.

There are relationships between thoughts and words and thoughts and thoughts and words and words.

They are like patterns. We can learn those patterns and it will help us to navigate through language. It will help us to communicate, and it will help us to think.

Now take our test and practice using vocabulary in context. After you do the test, you can check your answers.

The Test

The Answers

Was the test useful?

What is your score out of fourteen? Write it in the comments section.

Words or Phrases

Did the test teach you individual words or phrases?

Did you learn individual words or words in context?

Can you see the difference?

Write your thoughts in the comments section below.

Was this lesson too difficult? Try something easier: An easy lesson (the big dream)

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Grammar Lesson with Piano

Existence and Location

Henry: You see, Simon, there are three kinds of “there”. There is “there”: T-h-e-r-e. “There are the donuts.”

Possession

Henry: Then there is “their”: T-h-e-i-r, which is the possessive.”It is their donuts.”

Pronouns

Then finally there is “they’re”: T-h-e-y-apostrophe r-e, a contraction meaning “they’re”. “They’re the donut people.”

Checking for Understanding

Henry: Got it?

Simon: M-hm.

Link to there is – the existence page

Link to Easy English

The above video clip is from a movie. The movie was written and directed by Hal Hartley.

Have you ever heard of Hal Hartley?

Have you ever seen any of his movies?

The guy at the piano is called “Henry Fool”.

What do you think of him?
How do you feel about him?
What kind of guy does he seem to be .. to you?

Write your answer in the comments section below.

Pronunciation

These three words have the same pronunciation:

there
they’re
their

Existence – Talking about Existence

Have you seen the existence page?

Does God exist?

We ask:

Is there a god?

or

Does god exist?

Some people believe in god. They have faith. Some people do not believe in god. They do not have faith. Some people do not know. They wonder. They ask. They are unsure. Which one are? What are your feelings? What are your thoughts? Tell us in the comments section.

Does god exist?

How do you talk to god?

How does god talk to you?

World English Course

There are lots of things you can learn in the World English Course. There is a place where you can talk about work and there is also a place where you can find a job and a place where you can find staff. There is a place where you can have fun and there is a place where you can talk about food or family. There is also a place where you can talk about money or love or philosophy. You can study anything you want anytime you want. You can do it once a week or every day or any time you like. Have fun! Work hard! Tell your friends and family members! Enjoy!

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Do you trust me?

What do you think about love and trust? Are they the same thing? is trust an aspect of love? Do they always come together? Write your answer in the comments section below.

Maria: What time is it?
Matthew: 5:03.
Maria: Did you mean it? Would you marry me?
Matthew: Yes.
Maria: Why?
Matthew: Because I want to.
Maria: Not because you love me or anything like that, huh?
Matthew: I respect and admire you.
Maria: Isn’t that love?
Matthew: No, that is respect and admiration. I think that is better than love.
Maria: How?
Matthew: When people are in love they do all sorts of crazy things. They get jealous. They lie. They cheat. They kill themselves. They kill each other.
Maria: It doesn’t have to be that way.
Matthew: Maybe.
Maria: You’d be the father of a child you know isn’t yours.
Matthew: Kids are kids. What does it matter?
Maria: Do you trust me?
Matthew: Do you trust me first?
Maria: I trust you.
Matthew: Sure.
Maria: Yes.
Matthew: Then marry me.
Maria: I will marry you if you admit that respect, trust and admiration equal love.
Matthew: Ok. They equal love.
Maria: Good! I trust you. Now it’s your turn.
Matthew: What?
Maria: Go on up.
Matthew: Maria, that is pretty high.
Maria: Don’t you trust me?
Matthew:Of course I do.
Maria: Go on up.
Matthew: Maria,I am twice your size.
Matthew: If I fall on you from that height, I will kill you.
Maria: Trust me.
Matthew: This isn’t a matter of trust.
Maria:Matthew, Go up. I will break your fall. I promise.

Questions

Are you married?
What are your thoughts on marriage?
In your society, do people always get married or do they sometimes just live together?

This post is dedicated to the work of Hal Hartley. Thank you, Hal.

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Giving Advice – Be true to yourself

I believe you are sincere and good at heart.

First Conditional

If you do not attain happiness, always remember that you are on the right road.
Try not to leave it.

Above all avoid falsehood, every kind of falsehood, especially falseness to yourself.

falsehood – lying – lies

Interjection: Teach us something something useful!

Imperative

Watch over your own deceitfulness. Look into it every hour, every minute.

Avoid being scornful both to others and yourself. What seems bad to you within yourself, will grow pure by the very act of you observing it.

Interjection: This is ridiculous!

Interjection: We are paying for this.

Interjection: You are a disgrace.

Avoid fear.Though fear is only the consequence of every sort of falsehood. Never be frightened at your own faint-hearted-ness in attaining love. And don’t be frightened over much but your own evil actions.

I am sorry that I can say nothing more consoling to you for love and action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love and dreams. Love and dreams is greedy for immediate action rapidly performed so everyone can see. Men will even give their lives if only the ordeal does not last too long but is soon over with all looking on and applauding as if on a stage. But active love – active love – is labour … and fortitude.

Dostoyevsky.

fortitude – strength

Questions

Who is the speaker?
Who is the audience?
Where did the conversation take place?

Discussion

Is this good advice?

Can literature show us how to live?
Have you ever had a teacher like this?

Link to the story of Love and Death

Link straight to the dream:
The Dream

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Science – A New Book about Science

a delusion – an illusion

Relative Clause with Present Participle and Passive Infinitve

The science delusion is the belief that science already understand the nature of reality, leaving only the details to be filled in.

to fill in – to be filled in

Past Participle as Adjective

This is a very wide-spread belief in our society.

a wide-spread belief
a widely held belief

Relative Clause

It is the kind of belief system of people who say I don’t believe in god. I believe in science.

Do you believe in god?
What is your belief system?
Write your opinion in the comments section below.

Relative Clause and Present Perfect Tense

It is a belief system which has now been spread to the entire world.


A Conflict between A and B with Noun Phrases and a Metaphor

But there is a conflict in the heart of science between science as a method of inquiry based on reason, evidence, hypothesis and collective investigation, and science as a belief system or a world view.

the heart of science
a method of inquiry
a belief system
a worldview

Present Perfect Tense with a Relative Clause and a Metaphor

And unfortunately the world view aspect of science has come to inhibit and constrict the free inquiry which is the very life blood of the scientific endeavour.

to inhibit – to constrict – to limit – to control

Present Perfect Tense in Passive Voice with a Relative Clause and an Adverb


Since the late nineteenth century
science has been conducted under the aspect of a belief system or worldview which is essentially that of materialism – philosophical materialism.

the early nineteenth century
the middle nineteenth century
the late nineteenth century

A Metaphor and a Past Participle as Adjective

And the sciences are now wholly owned subsidiaries of the materialist worldview.

a totally owned subsidiary
a wholly owned subsidiary

a partially owned subsidiary

Future Passive

I think that as was we break out of it, the sciences will be regenerated.

will regenerate – will revitalise
will be regenerated – will be revitalised

Relative Clauses and a Present Participle

What I do in my book “The Science Delusion” which is called “Science Set Free” in the United States is take the ten dogmas or assumptions of science and turn them into questions- seeing how well they stand up if you look at them scientifically.

None of them stand up very well.

stand up -hold up – make sense

none of them
one of them
a few of them
some of them
almost all of them
all of them

Relative Clause

What I am going to do is first run through what these ten dogmas are.

And then I will only have time to discuss one or two of them in a bit more detail.

run through – go though – list – elucidate

But essentially the ten dogmas which are now the default worldview of most educated people all over the world are first that nature is mechanical or machine-like. The universe is like a machine. Animals and plants are like machines. We are like machines. In fact we are machines. We are lumbering robots in Richard Dawkins’ vivid phrase – with brains that are genetically programmed computers.

Passive Voice

Second, matter is unconscious. The whole universe is made up of unconscious matter.

The Vocabulary of Existence from Macro to Micro

There is no consciousness in stars, in galaxies, in planets, in animals, in plants. And there ought not to be any in us either, if this theory is true.

stars
planets
animals
plants

Consciousness – Word Family and Present Perfect Continuous Tense

So a lot of the philosophy of mind over the last hundred years has been trying to prove that we are not really conscious at all.

consciousness – noun
conscious – adjective
unconscious – adjective

Passive Voice

So matter is unconscious. The laws of nature are fixed. This is dogma three. The laws of nature are the same now as they were at the time of the big bang and they will be the same forever. Not just the laws but the constants of nature are fixed, which is why they are called “constants”.

Relative Clause – when

Dogma four – the total amount of matter and energy is always the same. It never changes in total quantity except at the moment of the big bang when it all sprang into existence from nowhere in a single instant.

matter and energy

Suffixes

purpose – purposeless – purposelessness
point – pointless – pointlessness
meaning – meaningless – meaninglessness

The fifth dogma is that nature is purposeless. There are no purposes in all nature and the evolutionary process has no purpose or direction.

evolution – the evolutionary process

Complex Biological Vocabulary

Dogma six. Biological heredity is material. Everything you inherit is in your genes or in epi-genetic modifications of the genes, or in psyto-plasmic inheritance. It is material.

material – physical – tangible

Passive Voice Memory

Dogma seven: memories are stored inside your brain as material traces. Somehow everything you remember is in your brain in modified nerve endings, phosphorelatyed proteins.

memory – memories

No-one knows how it works but nevertheless almost everyone in the scientific world believes it must be in the brain.

The Mind and the Brain

Dogma eight: your mind is inside your head. All your consciousness is the activity of your brain and nothing more.

Psychic Phenomena

Dogma nine, which follows from dogma eight: psychic phenomena like telepathy are impossible. Your thoughts and intentions cannot have any effect at a distance because your mind is inside your head. Therefore all the apparent evidence for telepathy and other psychic phenomena is illusory.

I am telepathic. – Are you telepathic?

People believe these things happen but it just because they do not know enough about statistics, or they are deceived by co-incidences, or it is wishful thinking.

coincidence – coincidental
statistics – statistical


Relative Clause – the Vocabulary of Medicine and of Mechanics

And Dogma ten: mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works. That is why governments only fund research into mechanistic medicine and ignore complementary and alternative therapies. Those can’t possibly really work because are not mechanistic.

Link to a conversation about medical research

machine – mechanic – mechanical – mechanistic

They may appear to work because people would have got better anyway or because of the placebo effect. But the only kind that really works is mechanistic medicine.

mechanistic medicine
mainstream medicine – alternative medicine
Chinese medicine – western medicine
Ayurvedic medicine
homeopathic medicine – allopathic medicine


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The Light Bulb Conspiracy

obsolete – obsolescence
useless – uselessness

The light bulb is the symbol of an idea but in reality the idea is artificially limited. Watch this documentary about planned obsolescence:

Present Simple Tense

This is Marcos from Barcelona but he could be anyone anywhere.

What is about to happen to him occurs daily to people in offices and homes all over the world.

Present Perfect Tense and Present Simple Tense

A part inside the printer has failed and the manufacturer sends Marcos to technical support.

It is no coincidence that all three shopkeepers suggest buying a new printer.

First Conditional – Real Conditional

If he agrees Marcos will become yet another victim of planned obsolescence, the secret mechanism at the heart of our consumer society.

Infinitives

Our role in life seems to be to consume things with credit and borrow money to buy things that we don’t need.

Real Conditional

If the consumer does not purchase, you know, the economy is not going to grow.

Do you agree with the son of the man who designed planned obsolescence?

Write your opinion in the comments section below.

Infinitives – Comparatives

Planned obsolescence – the desire on the part of a consumer to own something a little newer a little sooner than is necessary.

Did the consumer create the planned obsolescence or did the manufacturer create it?

Write your opinion in the comments section below.

Future Tense – Relative Clause – Present Perfect Tense – “When” Clause

This film will reveal how planned obsolescence has defined our lives ever since the nineteen twenties when manufacturers started shorten the lives of products to increase consumer demand.

Future “will” – Relative Clause – Passive Voice – Infinitive

We will find out how designers and engineers were made to adopt new values and objectives.

Present Perfect Tense

A new generation of consumers has started challenging manufacturers.

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The Great Man Has Crossed the River

Shortly after his 87th birthday, Gabo crossed the great river. We remember him and we miss him.

Listen to this short documentary about his beginning. He speaks in Spanish but the narrative is in English. The transcript is below:

Present Continuous Tense

Columbia. March the sixth. 1927. The rain is ashing down over the banana plantations around the little village of Aracataca in the Caribbean.

Is the rain “ashing down” or “crashing down”?

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born beneath the sign of the tropics and the Atlantic Ocean. In 1982 the Nobel Prize committee paid tribute to the author of a worldwide masterpiece:

One Hundred years of Solitude

Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous like prehistoric eggs.

The world was so recent that many things lacked names and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point to them.

Past Tense with “would” plus verb for Past Routines

Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettle drums they would display new inventions.

Relative Clause

This obstinate storyteller who will make any sacrifice so long as he can write created in “One Hundred Years of Solitude” a new vision of the world: Macondo a small Caribbean village is at the same time a whole continent.

But what was exactly the origin of the world?

A dreamlike but true to life novel, an un-frightening ghost story, enough to make a sorcerer out of a child.

The story begins with a grandfather: Nicholas Marquez, the colonel.
At the turn of the century this well-bred young man went off to the 1000 days civil war which was ravaging the country.

Past Simple Tense

The colonel had a very close friend: A brother in arms called Pacheko. They fought side by side and together lost the battles which were led by legendary generals.

Columbia was born in an orgy of fratricidal bloodletting.

One day in October 1908, Nicholas the Colonel and Pacheko fought a duel. It was a question of honour.

Passive Voice

The colonel killed Pacheko and it felt as if he had killed himself. He was overwhelmed with grief.

He left his hometown for a small and remote village far away beyond the Sierra Nevada.

Twenty years went by.The colonel had a daughter. She was deeply in love with Eligio the telegraph boy in the village.

But the colonel was firmly against her marrying beneath her station. The lovers swore to each other they would rather die than be separated.

They invented a thousand ploys to thwart the colonel and his wife Tranquilina.
The lovers eventually got married.

Louisa called her first born son “Gabriel”. As if she wanted to atone for the affront to her father she trusted him with her son.

Until he was eight years old Gabriel Garcia Marquez lived with his grandparents in Aracataca, cherished by Tranquilina the Galician and the Colonel.

Link to the History and Geography Page

They would both tell him about their own vision of the world.

Ornate Literary Style

When it was opened by the giant, the chest gave up a glacial exhalation. Inside there was only an enormous transparent block with infinite internal needles in which the light of the sunset was broken up into coloured stars.

Disconcerted, knowing the children were waiting for an immediate explanation, Jose Arcadio Buendia ventured a murmur.

“It is the largest diamond in the world.”

“No,” the gypsy countered. “It is ice.”

The child was torn away from the magic world of Aracataca, but he buried the faces the trees the smells and the stories deep in his memory. Garcia Marquez did not yet know that his nostalgia for this world would be the well-spring of his writing.

Past Perfect Tense

Many years would go by before he came back to Aracataca where in a dazzling and decisive instant he recovered the keys to a world he had believed forever lost.

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How do you say it in English?

How do you say it in English?

is one of the most important phrases for beginners.

Look at these two phrases:

How to say … ?
How do you say … ?

Many people use the top one but it is wrong. The bottom one is correct.

Learning language – Starting to Learn a Language

When you start to learn a language, you should start to use it use it straightaway. You will often say “How do you say … ?” because because you need to know how to say many things. Look at the video. It is a video of a guy learning Hebrew. Note how often he says:

How do you say … ?

Guy: Ok We are in Jaffa. I am going to have a Hebrew lesson today with …

Woman: Mayan.

Guy: With Mayan. Mayan is Iraqi.

Woman: (laughs)

Guy: Ok so. Shalom. What does “shalom” mean?

Woman: It means “hello”.

Guy: How do you say “how are you?”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: So if a guy is asking a girl, how do you say it?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: Alright. How do you say “you are beautiful”.

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: No .. that’s not .. So if you ever see her on the street, you say (Hebrew).

Woman: Yes.

Guy: Alright. What does “zababa” mean?

Woman: It means “Chill out!”Everything is cool.

Guy: Challack?! That is not a word in English.

Woman: Yeah, it is. Chill out!

Guy: How do you say “what is your name?“?

Woman: When you say it to a boy, you say: (Hebrew). When you say it to a girl, you say: (Hebrew).

Guy: Yeah. I am never going to learn that. OK. How do you say “good morning”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: How do you say “good night”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: How do you say “thank you”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: How do you say “thank you very much?”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: How do you say “how much?”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: How do you say “good evening”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: How do you ask somebody “Are you single?”?

Woman: (Hebrew)

Guy: Say it again.

Woman: (Hebrew)

A Third Person: Are you free?

Guy: What does does (Hebrew) mean?

Woman:It means you are really beautiful.

Guy: OK that is my lesson ion Hebrew. Stay tuned.

Links

Link to Easy English Audio phrases

Link to a Hebrew lesson

Link to a Conversation with an Israeli Guy

Link to Tips for Learning Languages

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What is life about?

Listen to this amazing story:

Opportunity – Opportunities

Life is about opportunities; creating them and embracing them and for me that was the Olympic dream. That’s what defined me. That was my bliss.

A Training Bike Ride

As a cross country skier and member of the Australian ski team headed towards the Winter Olympics, I was on a training bike ride with my fellow team-mates.

The Perfect Autumn Day

As we made our way up the spectacular Blue Mountains west of Sydney, it was the perfect Autumn day. Sunshine, the smell of eucalypts and a dream. Life was good.

The Part that I Loved

We had been on our bikes for around five and a half hours when we got to the part that I loved and that was the hills because I love the hills and I got off the seat of my bike and I started pumping my legs and as I sucked in the cold mountain air, I could feel it burning my lungs. And I looked up to see the sun shining in my face.

Black – Blackness

And then everything went black. Where was I? What was happening? My body was consumed by pain.

Past Perfect Tense – Passive Voice

I had been hit by a speeding utility truck with only ten minutes to go on the bike ride.

A Rescue Helicopter – Passive Voice

I was air-lifted from the scene of the accident by a rescue helicopter to a large spinal unit in Sydney.

Extensive Injuries – Life-threatening Injuries

I had extensive and life threatening injuries. I had broken my neck and my back in six places. I broke five ribs on my left side. I broke my right arm. I broke my collar bone. I broke some bones in my feet. My whole right side was ripped open and filled with gravel.

My head was cut open across the front and lifted back exposing the skull underneath.

I had head injuries. I had internal injuries. I had massive blood loss. In fact I lost about five litres of blood which is all someone my size would actually hold.

A Really Bad Day

By the time the helicopter arrived at Prince Henry Hospital in Sydney, my blood pressure was forty over nothing. I was having a really bad day.

Two Dimensions

For over ten days I drifted between two dimensions. I had an awareness of being in my body but also being out of my body somewhere else watching from above as if it was happening to somebody else. Why would I want to go back to a body that was so broken?

A Voice

But this voice kept calling me.
Come on stay with me.
It’s too hard.
Come on, this is our opportunity.
No. That body is broken. It can no longer serve me.
Come on. Stay with me. We can do it. We can do it together.

A Crossroads – A Metaphor

I was at a crossroads I knew if I didn’t return to my body I would have to leave this world forever. It was the fight of my life. After ten days I made the decision to return to my body and the internal bleeding stopped.

Paralysis – Being Paralysed

The next concern was whether I would walk again because I was paralysed from the waist down.

The Rest of the Talk

Can you get the rest? It doesn’t matter if you miss some. Just focus on what you can understand.

Anatomy

Make a list of body parts and anatomical terms. It is better to learn anatomical terms in the context of a narrative than to learn them as a list.

Link to An Anatomy Lesson

Link to a Career in Medical Research

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