Practice English Your Listening And Learn About Boris Johnson
Summary: Practice Your English Listening
Here at Adept English we know all about learning to speak English through listening to spoken English. One of the most important parts of your journey to learning to speak English fluently is training your brain to hear and understand English words, phrases and sentences. So you need to practice English listening, especially to English being spoken by a native English speaker.
Hey that’s easy right? There are many free English videos on YouTube or Facebook where you can hear English being spoken. That's true, but these audio/video files are rarely designed to help new English language learners. It’s often distracting, it does not have a transcript to help you with vocabulary you don’t understand. The speed of the English spoken will be fast, the number of people speaking can confuse you and make it difficult to follow. The video may even have music or special effects going off which pollute the sounds you are hearing.
So yes, it is easy to find lots of spoken English on the Internet it’s just not designed to help new English language learners learn to practice English listening. That’s one of the main reasons Adept English exists, we started out looking for spoken English online that we could use and we just couldn't find any that were:
- English spoken by a native British English speaker
- English spoken slowly with a neutral English accent
- Common everyday English that is useful right now in everyday English conversations
- English audio that comes with a free and full transcript to help with difficult words
- English listening material interesting for students, so they can listen to the audio many times
- Audio files that are free and easy to download to your mobile phone
- Audio and Video files that cover up to date and interesting stories about the UK and British culture so you learn to speak English and learn about Britain
The good news is if you just found us, Adept English does all of this and much more. With two new English podcast lessons every week. So if you don’t already follow us, join the 2 million people who have listened to our lessons and subscribe to us now.
Audio Transcript: Practice English Your Listening And Learn About Boris Johnson
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. If you’re looking to improve your understanding of spoken English and also improve your own spoken English, then Adept English is for you. We have a lot of podcasts and courses – lots of English language material for you to listen to. If you haven’t tried our 500 words course, go onto the website and have a look at the Most Common 500 Words Course. It’s a ‘listen and learn’ course and it uses only the most common 500 words in English. If you know the most common 500 words, that’s all you need to start speaking English fluently.
OK, so how about today, we have a look at current affairs, politics in the UK and you get to practise your English language listening while I’m talking to you.
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The Conservative Leadership Election
So in the UK at the moment, we have what is called a leadership election. So Prime Minister, Theresa May has stepped down and her political party, the Conservatives are having an election to decide who will be the next person to lead the Conservative Party. As the Conservative Party are in government currently, this also means they’re deciding who will be the next British Prime Minister. An ‘election’ means when you vote – you decide which person you want to be leader and you vote for them. To vote means that you show you want to support that person. Usually this means putting a cross or an X on a piece of paper against the name of the person you would like to vote for. Initially the leadership election is decided by MPs or Members of Parliament. So, it’s been quite a long process already.
It started off with ten politicians in the race – eight men and two women. However, through a process of repeated voting, we’re now down to just two candidates. A candidate means a person who is standing for election, a person who wants to be leader in this case. There will now be a few weeks of campaigning – and ‘to campaign’ means each candidate, each person talking about what they will do if they’re Prime Minister. And then not just MPs, but also members of the Conservative Party will get to vote on which person they would like. And then this person will become the Prime Minister in the UK.
So it’s now down to a final two – called Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. And although things can change over the next few weeks, it looks currently like Boris Johnson is the one who will have more votes.
Who is Boris Johnson?
So who is Boris Johnson? You may have heard of him before or you may not. If you haven’t heard of him before, he used to be the Mayor of London. ‘Mayor’ is a difficult to pronounce word. It’s spelt M-A-Y-O-R, so it looks like ‘May-Or’, but we say ‘mayor’ and a mayor governs a town or city. So obviously the biggest mayor...mayoral job in the UK, is Mayor of London. So Boris Johnson is famous for being London Mayor – and he was the Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016.
He was first of all well known for being editor of the Spectator magazine. An editor, E-D-I-T-O-R of a newspaper or a magazine, is effectively the person in charge, the person who decides what type of newspaper it is. And he was at ‘The Spectator’. They deter...so an Editor determines the content of the paper and its direction to some extent. And the Spectator is a British weekly magazine, which discusses politics and culture. It’s been around since 1828 – that’s a long time for a magazine! And Boris Johnson first became an MP in 2001 for Henley-on-Thames and he stayed here until he became Mayor of London.
He was then succeeded by Sadiq Khan as Mayor of London, and by then, Boris Johnson was already an MP again, this time for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which is where he remains. Then he was then Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018, though there are many people who might say that he didn’t do this job very well.
If you listen to the British media at the moment, so that’s the newspapers and the news programmes on the radio and on the television, you would be hearing all about the mistakes that Boris Johnson has made. All the things which he’s said over the years, which have offended people, which people haven’t liked. And some of the things that he’s said, it’s understandable that they’re not popular. But some of these quotes are from 2002 – this is 16 years ago! Also the problem is that Boris Johnson used to write newspaper columns, still does in fact. And a newspaper column is where writers comment on what’s happening in the news.
It’s called ‘a column’, C-O-L-U-M-N, because a column, that reflects the shape, the format of the writing in a newspaper. It’s a column shape. And a column? Think of it erm….it holds a building up. Think about a Greek temple – Greek temples have columns. So if you write a column, that’s the shape of the writing in a paper. If you write a column, then obviously it’s not very interesting if you give an opinion which is the same as everyone else’s. If you write a newspaper column, there’s pressure on you to write something different, to write from a different perspective, from a different viewpoint to most other people. And there’s pressure on to make it funny, to make it amusing. So Boris Johnson has at times gone a little too far perhaps in what he’s written and now all of those things are being quoted by people who don’t want him to be Prime Minister.
Let’s pause there a moment. Just a reminder halfway through this podcast - if you haven’t yet signed up for our free course, the Seven Rules of Adept English, you’re missing out! In this course, I give you fantastic tips and advice on how to learn a language more effectively and it instructs you on how to use the podcasts to best advantage. Remember, it’s free of charge, so you really are missing out, if you haven’t signed up for that one.
Boris is Marmite
Back to Boris Johnson. The problem with Boris Johnson is that he is Marmite. If you listen to my podcast on the term ‘Marmite’, you’ll know that a person or a thing is described as ‘Marmite’ in English, when people either love it or love them or hate them or it. So people are divided in their opinion. It’s a bit like Brexit, really. Lots of people like Boris Johnson, because they think that if he was Prime Minister, he would make a good one and he would see Brexit through. And lots of people don’t like him at all. Lots of them don’t like him because they don’t like his character or because they want to prevent Brexit from happening.
So some people hate Boris Johnson purely because he is seen as one of the elites. He comes from the upper class, he went to Eton – that’s a very expensive private boys school. It’s bizarre – we have a class system in the UK, which means if you’re at the lower end of the class system, you’re at a disadvantage in many ways. You’ve got less access to education, you may not speak in a way that’s accepted. But we’ve also got a sort of ‘anti-class system’, an ‘anti-class attitude’, if you’re upper class, – it can count against you with lots of people. So if you’re seen as upper class or privileged, many people won’t like you. And people don’t like Boris Johnson, purely because he’s seen has privileged, as having had too many advantages in life. I tend to think that we shouldn’t….that shouldn’t count against someone what their background is. It doesn’t matter whether their family are poor and they have ‘humble beginnings’ or they’re rich and they have advantages. I don’t think you can discount someone because of their background, because of their family, because of where they’re from. That’s not fair either way round.
What matters and what doesn’t
I think it’s true to say that Boris Johnson has not got a particularly good track record in terms of marriages. He’s not a good husband! But perhaps a bit like Bill Clinton – that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a bad Prime Minister – or that Clinton was a bad President. But there are lots of people who would disagree with me there. Where I think that Boris Johnson probably was at fault was in the case of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe. She is currently in prison in Iran, on charges of spying. There are many who think she’s a political prisoner and the charges aren’t right. But Boris Johnson probably made the situation worse for her, because in 2016, when he was Foreign Secretary – so that’s the government minister dealing with Foreign Policy – he told everybody that she was training journalists. That didn’t help. Although it’s not directly Boris Johnson’s fault, if Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe’s length of time in prison was greater because of this, he has been clumsy, careless perhaps in a delicate situation. She remains in prison – and currently she and her husband are on hunger strike. That means both of them are refusing to eat anything until she’s freed. A bad situation.
A Bun Fight
But for the moment, Boris Johnson is in the lead, in the Conservative leadership election. That’s because members of the party really like him and think that he would make a good Prime Minister. But things can change – there are a lot of people against him. Just today, the newspapers in the UK are full of a story, that the police were called round to his girlfriend’s apartment, because the couple next door could hear an argument – loud voices and a dispute happening between Boris Johnson and his partner, Carrie Symonds. The neighbours even recorded the argument and phoned the Guardian newspaper – that’s a newspaper in the UK which would not want Boris Johnson to be Prime Minister and which would not want Brexit to happen. I think it highly likely that these neighbours, who phoned a paper and phoned the police are probably against Boris Johnson and against Brexit! The police did turn up, but found everyone was safe and well, and no action was necessary. From the recording, it is apparent there was an argument because Boris had spilt red wine on his girlfriend’s sofa – and this is front page news today! Crazy stuff.
So UK politics continues to be fascinating. We really don’t know what is going to happen next! So by the time you’re listening to this podcast, who knows what else will have happened? Anyway, that’s UK politics for you.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: It Used To Be That The Media Took Pride In Balanced Reporting
Not long ago, journalists, news presenters and the voice of media outlets took pride in maintaining an objective and balanced view on the things they reported.
Nowadays it seems the media take sides, they have an active bias in their views on topics and people they report on. They themselves have become part of the story they report on. Rather than being impartial and on the outside, now it seems fine for media figures to push their own agendas.
It’s gotten so bad here in the UK, you can rarely hear a fair and balanced debate or discussion on Radio or TV and its even worse when reading the newspapers.
As a result, many people now go straight to the Internet to get their news, and not to the traditional media on the Internet, but directly to hear with no filters from the people who are the actual story. So, for example, if I want to hear what's going on with president trump I can read his (many!) tweets, or If I want to hear the opinion of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe husband, I can see what he’s said on twitter.
So I may hear a story on Sky or BBC news and then I tend to lookup the people involved directly.
It’s a little more effort to go directly to the people involved, but it’s better than listening to the media and trying to work out what their agendas are and eliminate their biased reporting.