Vocabulary Builder 16 | Making A Difference


In Vocabulary Builder 16 | Making a Difference episode, you will learn the words: beacon, berserk, celestial, chasten, confiscate, data, detract, encounter, epic, pantomime, pessimist, precaution, prosecute, puncture, retaliate, sham, uncouth, underscore, wholesome, and wistful.


beacon(n.) a light or other signal that warns and guides; a lighthouse; anything that guides or inspires
berserk(adj., adv.) violently and destructively enraged
celestial(adj.) having to do with the sky or heavens; heavenly; yielding great bliss or happiness
chasten(v.) to punish (in order to bring about improvement in behavior, attitude, etc.); to restrain, moderate
confiscate(v.) to seize by authority; to take and keep
data(pl. n.) information; facts, figures, statistics
detract(v.) to take away from; reduce in value or reputation
encounter(n.) a meeting (especially one that is unplanned); a meeting of enemies, battle; (v.) to meet or come upon
epic(n.) a long narrative poem (or other literary composition) about the deeds of heroes; an event or movement of great sweep; (adj.) on a grand scale, vast, titanic
pantomime(n.) a play or story performed without words by actors using only gestures; (v.) to express in this way
pessimist(n.) one who believes or expects the worst; prophet of doom
precaution(n.) care taken beforehand; a step or action taken to prevent something from happening
prosecute(v.) to bring before a court of law for trial; to carry out
puncture(n.) a small hole made by a sharp object; (v.) to make such a hole, pierce
retaliate(v.) to get revenge; to strike back for an injury
sham(adj.) fake, not genuine; (n.) something false pretending to be genuine; a pretender; a decorated pillow covering; (v.) to pretend
uncouth(adj.) unrefined, crude; awkward or clumsy
underscore(v.) to draw a line under; to put special emphasis on; (n.) a line drawn under something
wholesome(adj.) healthy; morally and socially sound and good; helping to bring about or preserve good health
wistful(adj.) full of melancholy yearning or longing, sad, pensive

Podcast Audio

Podcast Video


Danny: [00:00:00] Welcome to English plus podcast and a new vocabulary builder episode. In today’s episode, we’re going to learn about a very inspiring story, but before we do that, let me remind you that we’re going to learn some words in this episode, but you can learn the full range of the 20 words in the link. I’m going to leave in the description of this episode.

[00:00:28] So take the link and you will get the interactive activities from Quizlet and you will get a downloadable PDF with the crossword puzzle, the word search, the spelling exercises and more so without further ado, let’s start with our story, making a difference.

Ben: [00:00:46] Old timers in Everett, Washington grew wistful when they recalled Pigeon Creek running red with salmon, the fish once swam freely through its clear fresh waters, but over the years, people threw dirt garbage and old motor oil into it making Pigeon Creek into a muddy trash dump.

[00:01:06] Students and teachers at Jackson elementary school near pigeon Creek decided to do something. They were determined to prosecute an ambitious project they named operation pigeon Creek. They vowed to clean up the Creek. They hauled garbage, posted no dumping signs, wrote letters handed out leaflets and worked to  make the community aware of their mission.

[00:01:30] They hoped that one day Pigeon Creek would become the wholesome waterway it once was the entire school, took part. Younger kids studied the life cycle of salmon. They learned how water gets polluted and how it can be made cleaner. Older students did research on fresh water ecology, and learned to use water testing equipment.

[00:01:53] They studied scientific data from Pigeon Creek. Not everyone in the area supported operation Pigeon Creek. Some believed that it was a waste of school time, energy, and funds. Even if Pigeon Creek did get cleaner, it would never stay that way long enough for salmon to return, according to local pessimists.

[00:02:14] But the students would not give up. They tended a large fish tank in which they hatched and raised young salmon to release into Pigeon Creek. The project lasted the entire school year, one day after more than 20 years as a nearly dead stream, Pigeon Creek. Welcome back salmon. The first student to encounter a returning salmon nearly burst with excitement.

[00:02:40] News spread fast. The success story appeared on television, in magazines and in newspapers. You can read about it in the Sierra club book, come back salmon by Molly Cone.

Danny: [00:02:54] All right. So that was our inspiring story today about Pigeon Creek and the great thing those school kids did. And after 20 years they reaped the results.

[00:03:07] So we have many lessons to learn from the story, not to give up, not to listen to the naysayers, to the pessimists, and definitely not to expect to have great results immediately. And if that doesn’t happen, you’re not going to try in the first place. You see, the results came after 20 years, it’s just like planting a tree.

[00:03:30] You usually plant the tree, not to eat from it right away, because that doesn’t happen. But maybe your children or your children’s children are going to benefit from this. Anyway, let’s focus on the words we want to learn from this story. Our first word is wistful. W I S T F U L. Wistful now wistful. We have it in the story when we said old timers in Everett, Washington grew wistful when they recalled Pigeon Creek running red with salmon. Now, what does it mean when you are wistful or when you grow wistful like here and we’re talking about old timers, those people who remember the days when Pigeon Creek was teeming with red salmon, when you are wistful, you’re rather sad because you want something and know that you can’t have it.

[00:04:24] And that is the feeling of those old timers in Everett, Washington. So it’s melancholy, longing, dreaming, and just being sad. So that is our first word wistful. What about our second word prosecute? Now in our story, we said students and teachers at Jackson elementary school near Pigeon Creek decided to do something.

[00:04:45] They were determined to prosecute an ambitious project they named operation Pigeon Creek. Now first prosecute is spelled P R O S E C U T E prosecute. Now prosecute can have a very common meaning, which is if the authorities prosecute someone, they charge them with a crime and put them on trial. And that is what we hear in, especially on television, a lot, they’re going to prosecute this person or that person.

[00:05:17] But of course, if we look at the context that we have  here, we don’t have the same kind of prosecution we just talked about here. It’s simply to carry out a plan to prosecute. An ambitious project is to carry out, to do a task, to carry out an ambitious project. They named operation pigeon Creek. You can use prosecute in this meaning as well.

[00:05:38] So that was our second word. Let’s go and learn about our third word for today. Wholesome and wholesome is spelled, w H O L E S O M E. Wholesome. In the story. We have this word when we said they hoped that one day pigeon Creek would become the wholesome waterway it  once was so for something to be whole, to be wholesome, we’re talking about some thing  positive, aren’t we? We’re talking about something complete. We’re talking about something that has everything you need or in this case, the environment needs. So, if you describe something as  wholesome, you approve of it because you think it is likely to have a positive influence on people’s behavior or mental state, or if you describe food as wholesome, you approve of it because you think it is good for your health.

[00:06:29] And here we’re talking about the wholesome waterway, the healthy waterway, the full waterway full of life. That is very good for the environment. Obviously. So that was our word wholesome. And now let’s move to our next word. The word is data. Now here, we talked about students and the fact that they studied scientific data from pigeon Creek.

[00:06:51] Now data is simply the information, especially when it is in the form of facts or statistics that you can analyze. And by the way, data is spelled D A T A. So that was our fourth word. Let’s get to our fifth word for today. The word is pessimist. Now in our story, we said that the project did not get all the support it needs, especially not from everybody.

[00:07:16] Of course, it got some support from some people, but not everybody was so keen to support this project. And some pessimists even said that even if you got the Creek cleaner, it would never stay that way long enough for salmon to return. And our story, we said, according to local pessimists, they said that, okay, you’re going to clean this and it’s all good, but it’s not going to stay clean.

[00:07:42] It’s going to get dirty. Ready again, polluted again. And salmon would never return. I mean, come on, give those kids a break. Give them some encouragement, but remember these people are pessimists. So when we talk about a pessimist person, which is spelled by the way, P E S S I M I S T pessimist, if you are a pessimist, you are someone who thinks that bad things are going to happen all the time.

[00:08:11] No matter how many good things happen around, you always expect bad things to happen. And the opposite of this word of course is optimist. A person who always thinks good things are going to happen no matter how bad things may look. So that was about our pessimists. What about our last word for this episode?

[00:08:31] And this word is encounter. Encounter is spelled E N C O U N T E R encounter. Now in our story, we said one day after more than 20 years as a nearly dead stream, pigeon Creek welcomed back salmon, the first student to encounter a returning salmon, nearly burst with excitement. And news spread fast and we can find it on television, newspapers and everywhere else.

[00:09:00] So our word is encounter the first student to encounter a returning salmon now to encounter is something like to meet or see face to face. If you encounter someone, you meet them usually unexpectedly. Because of course, when this student saw the salmon return, it was not like he or she was waiting for the salmon and they had an appointment or something.

[00:09:22] It happened unexpectedly. It was an encounter. So that is the sense where we can use the encounter of course in or can be used for other things as well. If you encounter problems or difficulties, if you encounter problems or difficulties, you experienced them. But here we’re talking about the salmon.

[00:09:41] So these were our six words for today. Wistful, prosecute, wholesome, data, pessimist and encounter. I hope you like the story and you like the words, but remember there is more in the link you can find the description, please take the link. And of course, in the description as well, there’s the link to support our podcast on Patreon. [00:10:02] So you can consider that or at least tell your friends about it. We do appreciate your support. That was all for today. This is your host, Danny. Thank you very much for listening and I will see you in the next episode.

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