How To Learn The English You Need To Understand A British Bonfire Night
If you want to learn to speak English
If you are new to Adeptenglish then you might not know the answer to this question; How do I learn the English required to hold a sensible everyday English conversation? If you are a regular listener, then I hope your shouting (in your head). If you want to learn to speak English “You need to listen to lot’s of English language being spoken by native English speakers.” If you catch yourself saying that in your head, then full marks to you!
If I were to estimate the amount of spoken English you need to listen to and understand before you can speak English well I’d day about 10 times, more is better. If your 10 times better at listening to English than speaking English then you are ready to get “stuck into” speaking English.
If you can listen to an English conversation and follow what’s being said, pick up on the cultural references, spot and understand when an idiom or idiomatic phrase is being used, can pick out words when the speaker has a strong accent and you haven’t needed to lookup any vocabulary. You are ready to speak in English.
Why are you ready? Because you will have all the time in the world to plan what you want to say, how you will pronounce it, the speaking parts of English. Your brain is already automatically using the vocabulary and grammar you have stored away by listening to lot and lots of spoken English.
If you drive a car, you will be familiar with this feeling, you can drive and not even think about it, you are probably doing and thinking about other things your repeat driving experience is in automatic mode. If you listen to a lot of native English speakers, your brain will get into “automatic” mode, and that gives you a lot more time to focus on the speaking parts of English.
Transcript: How To Learn The English You Need To Understand A British Bonfire Night
Hi and welcome to this short podcast from Adept English. How to learn the English that you need to manage the language in every day conversation. This is what we prepare you for. This is what we help you with how to learn English, and how to learn English fast, or more quickly perhaps than with other methods of learning.
Hello to Autumn
So it’s autumn, ‘the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness’ - that’s the first line of a poem by John Keats, that’s K-E-A-T-S – a British poet. So of course, autumn, A-U-T-U-M-N is the season of the year that we’re in. What’s ‘Mists and mellow fruitfulness’? Well a ‘mist’, M-I-S-T is a weather phenomenon that comes with autumn. So the air is damp, and the mist comes down, making it more difficult to see the tops of the trees and buildings.
So mist is water, hanging in the air and making everything damp. It’s sort of gentle cold, damp weather. And ‘mellow fruitfulness’ - well ‘mellow’ just means soft, gentle, relaxed, at ease – and ‘fruitfulness’ means that things are ‘fruitful’. So Autumn is the season where apples are ready to pick, where there are lots of nuts and there are berries on the trees. If you’re a nature lover, then in the UK, nuts, N-U-T-S – think of peanuts or hazel nuts – and berries, B-E-R-R-I-E-S are what a lot of our wildlife, our wild animals eat – and of course we eat nuts and berries as well. Just probably not the same kinds!
It’s Getting Colder
So we are just at that point in autumn where the colours of the leaves on the trees are fantastic – red, yellow, gold, orange – and it hasn’t really yet been that cold either. We’ve probably had one frost so far. ‘Frost’, F-R-O-S-T is when you wake up in the morning and you look outside and everything is covered in a thin layer of ice. Not very thick ice – and it soon goes, because usually it’s a sunny day when a frost happens and the sun means the frost doesn’t last very long. But it makes changes happen in the garden and in nature, because plants which cannot tolerate freezing temperatures die back – and it changes the appearance of your garden or what it looks like when you go out for a walk in nature.
It’s the season of the year when we put on the central heating – it’s cold enough that you need to heat your house – and dig out your winter scarf. If we talk about ‘digging something out’, it means, often, just ‘finding something’. So ‘digging out your winter scarf’ - it might be at the bottom of pile of clothes in your cupboard, because you haven’t used it for a bit. So it doesn’t literally mean ‘to dig out with a shovel’, but it’s the same idea. It’s an idiom, if you like. I do like autumn – it’s so much nicer than January or February – those months are not my favourite time of year. They’re usually cold months which are a bit grey and unexciting – certainly in the UK anyway. Of course, you may have very different weather where you live. But I think that one of the things that I like about the UK, is the way that the seasons make it change. It feels and looks very different several weeks into autumn, than it did at the end of August, when the sun was still here and the summer was still here and it was warm.
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Things We Do and Things We Celebrate in Autumn
So the clocks have gone back – we do this at the end of October – and while it means that it’s lighter in the morning, it also means that it’s dark much earlier in the evening. That’s already happening anyway of course – our days will become much shorter anyway during the autumn and winter. And of course, we celebrate Halloween on 31st October – so that’s already happened. We also do November 5th, Bonfire Night – or [Guy Fawkes Night]. This is unique to the UK – it’s not celebrated anywhere else in the world. Or if it is, it’s because settlers from the UK brought it over.
Bonfire Night has Changed
It’s interesting – when I was a child, Bonfire Night was a massive thing and we didn’t really celebrate Halloween. People would have their own bonfires. So it was a chance to burn any old wood on a fire and everyone would light fireworks. There were all kinds of traditions which are now falling away somewhat. Halloween feels definitely the bigger thing now. My children certainly get very excited about it. That’s an American influence, of course – especially the ‘Trick or Treating’ part of Halloween. But Bonfire Night, November 5th, we tend to still celebrate with fireworks. So how to learn the English, the British customs – listen to Adept English to help you with these.
While we’re on that subject, remember that we have a service now, on our website at adeptenglish.com, where you can download our [podcasts], 50 at a time to your mobile phone or your tablet. What’s the easiest way to learn English and be fluent in English? Well, the answer is lots of English language listening and that’s exactly what we provide you with. You’ll need basic English first of course, your basic English learning is probably best done on a traditional language course. But past a certain point in your language learning, Adept English answers the question how to learn English at home? You can improve your fluency in English while you’re at home, while you’re driving, while you’re doing 100s of other things. And if you want to answer how to learn English quickly – or more quickly, lots of listening is the answer! It’s also good to ‘keep your English alive, if you’re not using it very much!
What’s the History of Bonfire Night?
Back to November 5th. So it’s interesting to think about why we celebrate November 5th. It’s actually commemorating the attempt by a man called Guy Fawkes and others, to blow up, to bomb the British Parliament. So why do we remember it and celebrate it? Well, it’s important to say – parliament did not get blown up with explosives, because the plot – the plan to do it – was discovered before it could be carried out. The plot to blow up the House of Parliament in 1605 was organised by Catholic conspirators. ‘Conspirators’ means ‘people who conspire’ - and if you conspire, that’s a verb ‘to conspire’ C-O-N-S-P-I-R-E. ‘To conspire’ means that you agree with others, to do something wrong, and you do it secretly, you hide your plans. So throughout the history especially when there of there were kings and queens in power in the UK, there were always conspiracies – people plotting to kill the monarch, and to take away their power.
The Gunpowder Plot
So why were Catholics plotting to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605? So Guy or Guido Fawkes was part of the Gunpowder plot in 1605. And remember, a ‘plot’ here really means the same as ‘conspiracy’. So ‘Plot’ is P-L-O-T. And gunpowder is the explosive that was available at the time for blowing things up. It was the powder you put inside guns at the time. Guy Fawkes and his men wanted to blow up King James I and his government because of religion. England was a Protestant country, so still Christian but Protestant, a different type of Christianity and the plotters were Catholic. So Protestant means the type of Christianity which Henry VIII brought in and Catholicism is the type of Christianity which is connected with Rome, with the Pope. And throughout British history, Catholics and Protestants have often been warring and fighting – of course, most notably in recent history, this is in Northern Ireland. Anyway, Guy Fawkes and his men wanted England to be Catholic again – and they thought that there was a chance this could happen if they killed King James I and his supporters. So they put, underneath the Houses of Parliament, 36 barrels of gunpowder – ready to trigger a massive explosion.
But one of Guy Fawkes’s men had a friend who would be in Parliament on November 5th. So he sent a letter to this friend, warning him to ‘Stay away’. This letter got out and was circulated and the king got to know about it – and so the plot and the explosives and the men waiting to set them off - were all discovered underneath the building, just in time. All the conspirators, the plotters were arrested and executed. That means they were killed – that’s what happened back then, in 1605!
We Don’t Burn a Figure Any More!
So initially Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Night was a focus of anti-Catholic feeling – and the figure of Guy Fawkes, in the form of a dummy, ‘a guy’ was burnt on top of the fire. I remember this happening when I was a child – you don’t see it so much now – we’re much more sensitive these days! The idea of burning a figure, burning an effigy seems a bit medieval perhaps in 2019! Bonfire night has slowly turned into a celebration that everyone, even Catholics, enjoy. And actually, in line with much of modern life, if November 5th falls as it did this year on a Tuesday, then we save the celebration and the fireworks night to the following weekend. Everything for convenience! So how to learn the English language that you need, to understand the history behind Bonfire Night.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this podcast, a mellow and relaxed one for autumn! Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: UK Elections
[UK Elections Thursday, 12 December]
We have snap elections here in the UK, a “snap election” is just one that’s announced at short notice, a short notice means with only a small amount of time between being told about an event and the event happening.
I get the impression listening to the media and various spokes people for the various political parties that things are getting ever more polarised here in the UK. Polarised comes from science where you have two magnetic polls, and I’m using it to describe how politics in the UK is becoming more and more just two views, you're for something or your against it, people who hold a different view are mad or ignored.
It used to be in a democracy that you governed by [consent]. People would vote and the winners would assume power, the losers would accept defeat and consent to be ruled by the winners (until the next time) and this has worked for quite some time. Nowadays it seems the losers feel they don’t have to follow the old rules, they don’t give their consent, and they refuse to accept the results of a majority.
To me this feels dangerous for democracy. If you break the rules, just once, then why should anyone accept losing elections or referendum in the future? It’s a slippery slope and I hear it in person and on the TV, the Radio and in the newspapers, it seems people will throw a lot of good away and risk breaking democracy to win once, damn the future.