Afghan tourism school, TickTok's Tech, Butterflies in stomach

Afghan tourism school, TickTok's Tech, Butterflies in stomach

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Welcome to Learning English, a daily 30 minute program from the Voice of America. I'm Ashley Thompson. And I'm Dan Novak. This program is designed for English learners. So we speak a little slower and we use words and phrases, especially written for people learning English. Coming up on the program, there has been a notable increase in visitors to Afghanistan.

I report on efforts by the Taliban to make Afghanistan a tourist destination.Bryan Lynn has this week's technology report on how TikTok's technology keeps the app popular. Later, Jill Robbins and Andrew Smith present the lesson of the day.

But first, a school for tourism and hotel management has opened its doors to students in Kabul, Afghanistan. The students are of different ages and their levels of education and professional experience are not the same. They are all men because Afghan women are banned from studying after sixth grade.

The men do not know anything about tourism or the hospitality industry, but they hope to show a different side of Afghanistan in the future. The country's Taliban leaders are interested in their efforts. The international community mostly rejects Afghanistan's Taliban rulers because of their restrictions on women and girls.

The Afghan economy is struggling. Roads, bridges and other structures are in poor condition and people have little money. However, foreigners are visiting the country because violence has decreased.

There are also more air travel connections from places like Dubai. And some people enjoy vacationing in an unusual place. The numbers are not large, but there is a notable increase in Afghan tourism. In 2021, there were 691 foreign tourists. In 2022, that number rose to 2300. Last year, there were 7000 foreign tourists who visited Afghanistan.

Mohammed Said is the head of the tourism directorate in Kabul. He said the biggest foreign visitor market is China because it is close and has a large population. Afghanistan also has advantages over some of its neighbors.

They've told me they don't want to go to Pakistan because it's dangerous and they get attacked. The Japanese have said this to me, also, Said said. This is good for us, but there are disadvantages, too. Visas are difficult and costly. Many countries cut ties with Afghanistan after the Taliban returned to power in 2021. Nations do not officially recognize the group as the legitimate rulers of the country Said admitted Afghan tourism faces barriers but said he was working to overcome them.

His aim is to have a visa on arrival for tourists, but that could be years away. There are problems with the road network, which is half finished or nonexistent in some parts of the country. Many airlines avoid Afghan airspace.

The capital, Kabul, has the most international flights, but no Afghan airport has direct regular flights to or from major tourist centers in China, Europe or India. Although there are many difficulties, Said wants Afghanistan to be a popular tourist spot. It is a hope that appears to be supported by the Taliban's top leaders. An unofficial subject is how to interact with foreign women, and how their behavior could conflict with local customs and laws. Examples might be women smoking or eating in public, or interacting freely with men who are not related to them by blood or marriage. The Taliban have a dress code for women and requirements to have a male guardian when they travel.

Eating at restaurants alone, traveling alone, and socializing with other women in public have become harder. With gyms closed to women and beauty salons banned. There are fewer places where women can meet outside the home. There are signs that the country is preparing for more overseas visitors. For example, the country's only five star hotel has reopened its women's spa and salon for foreign women. Foreigners must show their passport to receive services.

Women with born in Afghanistan on their identification are barred. There are no women at the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management. The students do not talk about it.

But an official at the tourism directorate did. It's a heartbreaking situation, said the official, who did not want to be identified. Even female family members asked if they can study here, but there was a change in policy with the change in government.

The women who were studying before the takeover never came back. They never graduated. I'm Ashley Thompson. A recent American law requires TikTok's Chinese owner, ByteDance, to sell the company's U.S.

operations within nine months, or face a nationwide ban. But the video sharing service remains popular among Americans. It remains unclear if ByteDance will agree to sell the business. It also is not known whether the law can survive expected legal challenges related to freedom of speech.

Here is a look at how TikTok has developed its technology and expanded its business to include more than 1 billion users worldwide. ByteDance was launched in China in 2012 by businessman Zhang Yameen. Its first product was a news collection service for Chinese users.

In 2016, ByteDance launched a video sharing app called doyen. The popularity of Douyin led the company to launch a foreign version of that app called Tik Tok. ByteDance bought a video sharing service called for $1 billion in November 2017.

The company then combined that app with TikTok in August 2018. Technology experts have widely considered TikTok's predictive algorithms a main driver of its success. The artificial intelligence AI powered system seeks to identify what new videos users will likely be interested in, based on what they have watched before.

TikTok offers users videos of many different interests. These could include users demonstrating dance moves, food preparation videos, or personal care advice. Some TikTok users also take part in physical challenges that start on the app.

Videos can discuss serious subjects like politics or war, but could also include humorous performances or information about music or movies. A recent report by Reuters news agency examined TikTok's technology and operating methods. It suggests the company's use of algorithms has played a major part in its success.

Industry experts said the app's algorithm is particularly good at working with the short video format. Used by the app before TikTok. Many industry experts believed the most important element to having a successful social media app was linking a user's social connections. Such a model was successfully demonstrated by Meta's Facebook and Instagram services.

But TikTok showed that an algorithm driven by data from what a user looks for and watches on the service could be more powerful. Rather than building an algorithm to connect large social groups. TikTok has sought to develop what it calls users interest signals. Some TikTok competitors use similar interest based algorithms. But TikTok has been able to profit its system because it uses short videos, said Catalina Goenka. She is an associate professor here at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, who studies how social media services make money.

Go on tour told Reuters that while the kind of algorithm TikTok users is common among similar social apps, what really distinguishes TikTok is the design and the content. She noted experts say the short video format permits TikTok's algorithm to identify in greater detail specific user interests and favorites. This enables the app to predict what kind of content TikTok users will want to see at different times of the day.

Jason Fong is the former head of TikTok's gaming activities. He told Reuters the app's short video format permits TikTok to learn what users want to see at a much faster rate. You're able to collect data about a user's preference a lot faster than YouTube, where maybe the average video is just less than ten minutes long, Fong said. Imagine you're collecting data about a user on average every ten minutes versus every couple of seconds, he added.

Industry experts say TikTok's early entry into the short video market supported its success. Instagram did not launch its short video service reels until 2020, while YouTube introduced its shorts service in 2021. TikTok has also been effective at getting its users to form groups by establishing certain hashtags, said Ari Lightman.

He is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania. These groups that users form help TikTok learn more details about members behaviors, interests and personal beliefs. Lightman said that if TikTok is banned in the U.S., he thinks it will be difficult for any existing technology company to reproduce the strong user culture that the app has built. I'mBryan Lin. Now,Bryan Lin is here to talk more about his technology report.

Hi,Bryan. Thanks for joining me. Of course. Ashley. Glad to be here.

This week, you examined how TikTok has successfully used technology to make the video sharing app one of the most popular worldwide. But as it now faces a possible U.S. ban. What is the main problem the government has identified with TikTok? Yes, the U.S. government and many American lawmakers have expressed multiple concerns about the app. Much of the criticism has centered on whether TikTok is taking steps to effectively protect the privacy of users and limiting activity by children. But the main issue the U.S.

government has is the fact that TikTok is owned by the Chinese government. U.S. officials say this presents national security risks and could mean the personal data of Americans would get passed on to China's government somehow.

And this is why the U.S. government is demanding that TikTok sell its American interests, in order to keep doing business in the U.S.. Do we know how long it might take before we find out if TikTok will, in fact, be banned in the United States? As far as a timetable, the U.S. law gives ByteDance nine months to sell its U.S.

assets or face a possible ban if the process, called divestment, is already started. At this point, ByteDance would be permitted an additional 90 days to finance a deal. Now, it has also been noted that the U.S. law is expected to face a series of legal challenges, particularly on free speech grounds. So even if the ban is put into place, such lawsuits could delay action for months or possibly even years. Okay. Thanks again,Bryan, for joining me

on today's show, and thank you for your report. You're welcome. Thank you. Ashley. And. I.

Have. VOA Learning English has launched a new program for children. It is called Let's Learn English with honor. The new course aims to teach children American English through asking and answering questions and experiencing fun situations. For more information, visit our website.

Learning English dot VOA Hello. My name is Anna Matteo. My name is Jill Robbins. And I'm Andrew Smith. You're listening to The Lesson of the day on the Learning English podcast.

Welcome to the part of the show where we help you do more with our series. Let's learn English. The series shows Anna Matteo in her work and life in Washington, DC. Butterflies in your stomach. Sweat on the palms of your hands. What do these make you think of? Well, butterflies are not something you want to eat, and sweaty palms.

Most people don't want that either. I know what they make me think of. But what do they have to do with Ana? Well, our listeners may remember that in lesson 21 of Let's Learn English.

Anna tells her friend Marcia that she has to take a test to get her driver's license. Sorry, I can't come with you. I have to get my driver's license. Will you be busy all day? I don't know. First, I have to take a test on the computer. Then I have to take a test in the car.

And now, in lesson 28, we get to watch Anna take that test. Ana, did you get your driver's license? I did, but it was not easy. Why? What happened? Well, you know, I can drive farm equipment really well, but I was really nervous driving in Washington, D.C.. Traffic.

Did you pass the test the first time? Well, no, but I did pass the second time. What happened during the first test? It started fine. Oh, okay. Ana, is your seatbelt buckled? Yes, sir.

Great. Please start the car. Okay, Ana, start the car. I started the car. Good job. Ana. Why are you talking to yourself? I am a little nervous.

When I'm nervous, I talk to myself. I'm sure our listeners can understand the feeling of being nervous when Anna feels nervous. She talks to herself, but some people react in other ways when they are nervous.

They might get those butterflies in the stomach. For our listeners, maybe it's now clear what we mean when we say butterflies in the stomach. It's just an expression to describe the feeling of being nervous. Some people do feel it in their stomach, but there are lots of other things that can happen in your body when you are nervous. Like, you might find it hard to sit still, so you keep moving your hands or some other part of your body. And when people feel really nervous, they might notice their heart starting to beat faster and stronger.

That's because the body releases a hormone called adrenaline when we're nervous. That excitement of the nerves. It's also called the fight or flight response. And flight, in this case, does not mean flying on an airplane.

Flight is a noun that means running away from danger. So, Jill, how about you? What's it like for you when you feel nervous? When I'm nervous about something. I start cleaning.

You know, like wiping the dust off my table or picking up clutter or running the vacuum on the carpet. It's like if I can get my house in order, my life will be an order, too. How about you? I have to say, that's pretty funny, but it makes sense. for me, sometimes my hands get cold, and sometimes I start to sweat a little bit under my arms. And I'm sure our listeners have some other ways that they react. You can write us at Learning English at VOA,

and let us know what makes you nervous and how your body reacts. I'm Jill Robbins, and you're listening to The Lesson of the day on the Learning English podcast. Andrew, what kind of situations tend to make you nervous? sometimes if I have to speak to a large group of people, I can feel some nerves. But because I've been a teacher, speaking to groups doesn't bother me too much. but sometimes when I perform music for other people, I can get nervous. How about you, Jill? I get nervous when I'm going to do a webinar or an online meeting.

I try to prepare everything in advance and practice so I know exactly what I'm going to do. And you probably have a very clean desk before you do that. You bet. in general, I think people tend to get nervous when they worry that other people might judge them and that they might not perform well. Unfortunately, this can happen when we are trying to speak a foreign language. How do you think learners should deal with this? I think some good advice is to simply keep trying, and to know that most people listening to you, they understand that you are trying and they won't think bad things about you.

Yeah, most people are nice, at least most of the time. Now let's go back to honest driving test. Her driving instructor is not nervous at the beginning, but during the test. He also probably feels a. Rush of adrenaline. But in his case, it's because of fear.

He's probably having the flight response we mentioned. I think so. Let's listen to honest driving test.

Why are you talking to yourself? I am a little nervous. When I'm nervous, I talk to myself. You don't need to be nervous. Listen to that engine.

I'm not. Please stop pushing the gas pedal. Sorry. Okay.

When you are ready. Turn. Great. Not now. You almost hit that car.

You said turn. Look, first there were cars in the street. Please don't yell at me. I'm sorry. I was afraid. You were yelling.

Look out for that car! Brake, brake! Why is everyone honking at us? You were driving too slow on a stay on the street. Hands on the wheel! On a. What's that sound? That on a.

It's the police. Well, it can be difficult to drive in Washington, DC, especially if you are a new driver. I think both Anna and her instructor were having an adrenaline rush.

The expressions and adrenaline rush and a rush of adrenaline can have a positive or negative meaning in the positive sense. An adrenaline rush is a feeling of excitement, like if you are doing a physical activity such as downhill skiing, surfing or riding a bicycle down a steep hill. And the negative sense means an unwanted or uncomfortable response to nerves or fear. It might be adrenaline that made Anna and her driving instructor yell or speak very loudly. Look, first there were cars in the street.

Please don't yell at me. I'm sorry. I was afraid. You were yelling. Look out for that car! Brake, brake! I think nervousness is an interesting subject because almost everyone can relate to it. We'll have more to say about dealing with nerves.

In another lesson of the day. But first, we want to remind you of our question for today. What activities make you nervous and how does your body react? And you can send it to us by email.

or in the comments on our YouTube channel. Remember, you can always learn more on our website. LearningEnglish.VOA You can also find us on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

Thanks for listening to the lesson of the day on the Learning English podcast. I'm Jill Robbins. And I'm Andrew Smith. And that's our program for today. Join us again tomorrow to keep learning English through stories from around the world.

I'm Ashley Thompson. And I'm Dan Novak.

2024-05-06 22:37

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