Learn English Vocabulary Talking about DofE
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Hi there, I’m Hilary and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. Quite a few of you have signed up for our new free course, The Seven Rules of Adept English: the Seven Secrets of Language Learning. If you haven’t done it already, have a listen to the podcast which talks about this new course and sign up, so that you can start learning the special techniques today. Also – just to remind you, if you would like me to do a podcast on something in particular – a request, or a question you have, something that you find difficult in English, then please message us. You can post comments on the podcasts themselves or you can message us on Facebook.
Please excuse my voice today! If I sound different, it’s because I have a cold. And if you want to know what having a cold means, listen to the previous podcast Atishoo, to find out! So today’s topic is the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and why it seems such a good idea. My younger daughter, who is 14 has been doing her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award recently. Now this is a scheme for teenagers, a project for people who’re between the ages of 14 and 24 and it gets called the DofE for short. So those of you who live in the UK, may be familiar with this, but those who don’t live in the UK may not know about it. However, I did read online that it is apparently now in 141 countries around the world, so you may know it.
So first of all, who is the Duke of Edinburgh? Well, if know Queen Elizabeth II, our queen in the United Kingdom, then Prince Philip is the queen’s husband. He recently announced that he was going to retire from ‘public duty’ in August this year, when he will be aged 96. Yes, that’s 96 years old, so he’s getting on a little – and it seems fair enough that he’s retiring I think! Public duty means what our Royal Family do all the time – visiting places, opening public buildings, doing walkabouts with crowds of people, giving speeches, accepting bunches of flowers. In his time, Prince Philip has carried out some 22,191 solo engagements. Solo engagements means events that he’s attended, he’s gone to on his own, without the Queen as part of his job as royal family member. He’s also given 5,493 speeches in his lifetime. So whether or not you like the Royal Family, it sounds as though he’s worked quite hard at times! But Prince Philip is probably known for saying the sorts of things which really you shouldn’t say. I don’t think he means any harm or any offence, but he is what we call in English ‘old school’. This means that he sees the world a bit like it used to be in perhaps the 1950s when he was a younger man and he’s not really updated his viewpoint that much. So he is famous for sometimes saying the wrong type of thing to people – things which make you want to cover your face and go ‘Ahhh! No, don’t say that!’
Anyway, one of his good works in his life has been to set up the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme. So this is a scheme which is open usually, or largely to teenagers. Teenagers is what we call young people between thirteen and nineteen years old – so we take the ‘teen’ bit of the number, and give them the name ‘teenager’. There are three levels to the award – Bronze, Silver and Gold. So these levels are a bit like the medals at the Olympics – you can win a Bronze, a Silver or a Gold medal. On the DofE, you can do your Bronze Award from the age of 13 or 14, your Silver Award from the age of 15 onwards and your Gold Award from the age of 16 onwards. The upper age limit is 24, so you can carry on beyond school and college if you want to.
Each award has three parts, three sections which the person has to achieve. So there is a ‘physical’ section. Physical means ‘to do with the body’ – so skills in this section might be things like horse riding, roller skating, any kind of sport, fitness, dancing or martial arts. Martial arts are things like karate, judo, Kung Fu, Tae Kwon Do etc. And fitness is usually associated with going to the gym or running, so doing physical exercise for your health.
On DofE, there’s also a ‘Skills’ section. So a skill is something that you learn to do. Learning a foreign language for instance – or at least being able to show that you’ve improved at a foreign language, could be what you use for your Skills section. But it’s lots of other things too – you have to prove that you’ve learned something. So it could be looking after animals, learning about Science or History, or it could life skills, like learning to drive a car, if you are old enough. It could be playing a musical instrument. The final section in DofE is called ‘Volunteering’. The verb ‘to volunteer’ means that you put yourself forward, you work for free, you give your time without being paid, so often this is to a charity. So you might work for the Red Cross, or Dr Barnardos or Oxfam or one of the other famous charities. It can be quite difficult to arrange this, if you’re only 14 like my daughter, but it’s usually possible to find somewhere to volunteer.
And the teenagers who do DofE also have to do an expedition. And expedition is a trip away, where you challenge yourself, you test yourself, so on this you have to camp, cook your own food, find your own way. If you were going to the North Pole, the Arctic or you were going to climb Mount Everest, you would call it ‘an expedition’. So here, basically groups of teenagers are let loose to go and walk for miles, to find their own way across the countryside, put up their own tents, cook their own food – and possibly deal with wet, windy and cold weather if they’re unlucky – or hot sun if they’re more lucky. That’s quite different from the lives that most British teenagers normally have, where most are fairly comfortable, they’re fed regularly usually by their parents and are lucky enough to have their own bedrooms and comfortable beds to sleep in!
So it’s what you call ‘a challenge’. A challenge is a task or set of tasks, things to do, which you agree to try, because they’re difficult and you are likely to learn something when you’re doing them. And having seen my 14 year old daughter do her DofE, I really think that it is a good thing! Often people do it because it looks good on their CV, on their resume – so that if they want to go to college or university, it’s important. But I think it offers much more than this. If you’re a teenager who is a bit shy, who finds it difficult to talk to people, or if you haven’t really experienced much apart from going to school and being with your school friends, then it’s really good for you. A lot of British teenagers, and it may well be the same in your country too, spend a lot of time in their bedrooms, on social media – so SnapChat, Instagram, Google Hangouts etc. They’re all stuck to their mobile phones – so the DofE is good at getting them off their phones, out of their bedrooms, off social media for a few hours a week! What a good idea!
So my daughter chose to learn to play the ukelele – this is a musical instrument, like a guitar, but much smaller. She’d done piano before, so she can read music, but the ukelele is very different, so that has been a good challenge.
She’s also learned to roller skate. This has meant us all getting up early and going out on a Saturday morning, so I can’t say that this has been popular every week, but she has learned to skate. The benefit has also been that my son has gone too and also learned to skate. And for her volunteering section, she’s worked for the charity Cancer Research (UK). Cancer is an illness that people die from, all across the world – and Cancer Research is a charity that raises money to fund research into understanding the illness and trying to find cure. A cure is when you make an illness better. My daughter has really enjoyed volunteering in our local Cancer Research charity shop. Here, basically people bring in their old clothes and jewellery, items from their house, books, things which they’ve finished with – and the charity shop sells them to make money for the charity. So good all round – my daughter has been getting experience of working in a shop – and Cancer Research have had someone extra to help in their shop.
So I think things like DofE are important later on in life too. I meet lots of people who don’t seem to have any interests. They don’t have favourite things that they do, which give them enjoyment. I always think that this is a real pity and that people are sadder without having favourite activities.. It’s good to have things, activities in your life, whether it’s sport, music, languages, art, gardening, craft, cooking, dancing – whatever it is that you enjoy. Makes life so much happier – so I think DofE can have a lasting effect in peoples’ lives.
Ok, enough for now, have a lovely day. Good bye!