In this English lesson, we take a snapshot of the news across the UK and the world at large and discuss what is happening in a conversational style. Although much of the news recently has been about the pandemic, and we will talk a little about that, it is not all about that. There are plenty of things happening in the world beyond the pesky virus.
Today we have an easy English listening lesson. All you need to do is put on some headphones and listen and learn while we bring you up to speed with several interesting news topics from around the world, in English.
Although we talk about a number of things happening around the world today, I just have to talk about Brexit. For the longest time in the UK, all the news was about Brexit. Then Brexit happened, and all the news was about what happens next? What we in the UK call the “Brexit negotiations”, which are to end in 10 days.
the UK left the EU in January 2020, both the EU and the UK agreed to change nothing while both sides spent a whole 12 months negotiating how both the EU and the UK would work together in the future. So, as you might imagine, you put two teams of bureaucrats in a room and 12 months later; you have 600 pages of new rules and regulations setting out a deal that nobody agrees to.
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Hi and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. If you’re learning English, we are here to help you by providing you with suitable listening material. It’s really difficult, if you are in the middle phase of learning English to find suitable things to listen to, that are not too easy, not too difficult – or which at least have explanations of the more difficult words and phrases. So if you want to know how to learn the English for normal conversation, keep listening.
So let’s do a bit of ‘news round-up’ in this podcast – for the last week or so of 2020. Sometimes I do news in the podcasts, because it gives you practice understanding stories which you’ve probably heard before. You’ll be aware of some of this news, so because of that association, it gives you a bit of a head start at understanding.
The expression ‘head start’ in English? If you have ‘a head start’, it really means that you have an advantage over other people. In a race, a running race, if you started further forward that the other racers, you’d have ‘a head start’. So how to learn English faster, more quickly? How to learn English easily? Well, if you enjoy our podcasts, you can give yourself even more of a head start in the English language, by buying one of our podcast bundles.
Each bundle contains 50 whole podcasts. Imagine what a lot of English words you can learn with 50 podcasts. That’s a lot of suitable English listening material for the cost and some useful tips to teach yourself English. So visit our website at adeptenglish.com to have a look at our podcast downloads. And what’s even better? The more podcasts you buy, the cheaper it is.
What’s going on in the world at the moment as we come towards the end of the year? What’s the news report from the UK? Well, currently the Brexit trade talks are continuing, but it’s very much what we call ‘eleventh hour’. The ‘eleventh hour’, is of course the hour before midnight, the last hour of the day.
So they are still trying, still attempting to find a solution to the many issues that haven’t been resolved, like fishing and the Irish border. Will a solution be found, or will they find a way of putting it all off, delaying the decisions until the new year? But it’s supposed to be concluded by 1st January 2021, isn’t it? So that’s going to be interesting.
Emanuel Macron this week joined the ranks of world leaders and heads of state who have tested positive for the virus. Boris Johnson, Donald Trump – and actually Prince Charles and Prince William for that matter have all of course had the virus and recovered. But some leaders have been much less fortunate.
The Prime Minister Ambrose Dlamini of Eswatini, which used to be called ‘Swaziland’ – well, he died a month after testing positive. And the President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza (Un-Krun-Zeeza), also died, probably from the virus. President Jair (JI-EAR) Bolsonaro of Brazil had a positive test in the summer and had to quarantine, but was fine afterwards.
And other leaders who’ve caught the virus and recovered - Russia's Prime Minster Mikhail Mishustin (MISH-USTAN), back in spring, Polish President Andrzej Duda (ANDREE DOODA) in October, Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei (ALI-HANDRO YAN-MATT-EH) tested positive in September and Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune (ABDEL-MAJID TAB-BONE) is still recovering. That’s a lot of world leaders. So best wishes to Emmanuel Macron for a speedy recovery and apologies for my pronunciation of some of the names there.
Also in the UK news this week, it’s been decided that the start of children returning to school in January will be delayed. Part of the reason for this is that the UK government have decided to introduce virus testing into schools, so the delay is so that the schools can get organised for testing.
Teachers are not very pleased with this – and understandably, as it’s not their normal role, it’s not what they trained to do. The reason for this decision is that towards the end of last school term, there’s been such disruption with children and staff having to quarantine. Whenever a child or a teacher tests positive, whole classes have had to isolate for 10 days. And if it’s a teacher testing positive, then all the classes they’ve taught have to isolate. So school attendance has been down – attendance means ‘how many children attend’. And it’s really difficult to teach in those conditions.
So the aim of the plan is to test children or teachers believed to have been exposed, on a daily basis. And the aim is to reduce the spread of the virus, by catching people who don’t have any symptoms and yet still allow children to go to school. I agree very much that it’s important that children go to school. Although my son is very good at doing his lessons online and doing the work which the teachers set, he’s also missing out on so much. Learning is about socialising with other children.
Being with friends and social learning is a big part of what’s important when you’re 12 about going to school. And teachers of subjects like PE or Physics, Drama or Art – they have a really difficult time teaching successfully their subjects online. And with the need to lockdown perhaps lasting well into the new year, we do need to worry about the effect on the development of our children. It would be nice to see children off their computers, doing a bit more real life. My worry is that we’re bringing into being a nation of children, who’re addicted to their online worlds and who will perhaps have trouble doing real life afterwards.
The weather sometimes makes the news at this time of year. In Japan last week, there was a major snow storm and on one route in particular, on one road, Japanese drivers were stuck in their cars. And it was one of those situations where drivers were stuck in their cars for up to two days, without any food or water, many of them.
A photograph of Mountain fuji in Japan, learn English as we review the news.
So the army had to be brought in to distribute food and supplies. Some places in Japan had over 2 metres of snow in 72 hours. It’s difficult to deal with that much snow, however well prepared you are. Snow has also been falling in the North East of the United States, where they had over a metre of snow to deal with.
344 schoolboys kidnapped from a boarding school in the north-west of Nigeria, were released last week. It’s unclear whether this number is all of the boys that were taken, but apparently the boys freed were all in good health. The militant group Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the kidnapping – they’re the group who kidnapped hundreds of girls in Nigeria in 2014.
However, there seems to be some doubt that Boko Haram were responsible as the north west of Nigeria is not their usual territory and there are lots of other groups operating. It sounds a very dangerous situation, but good news at least that these boys were released.
And another piece of news about the virus. There has been concern recently that there is a new ‘strain’ of the virus, S-T-R-A-I-N spreading in the south of the UK. When we talk about a ‘strain’, it means the same virus, but with a slight variation, a slight difference.
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So viruses change all the time – and we call this also a ‘mutation’. Sometimes you’ll hear the word ‘variant’ as well, meaning it’s a variation, the same, the same virus, but with small differences. Of course, the concern, the worry here is that the virus will change, will mutate into something worse. That’s part of the worry – and the other concern is that with the Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford vaccines all train the body to attack the part of the virus that appears to have mutated.
However, scientists are still saying that the vaccine should still be effective…...OK – I’ll not worry then…! I guess though to put it in context, viruses do mutate all the time. And apparently this virus, if you were to compare it with the original virus, where it all started in China, you would see around 25 mutations already, so the changing and mutating is normal. And usually the tendency is that viruses mutate in a way which makes them less deadly, less likely to kill and in the end, that leads to them dying out. Let’s hope so! Fingers crossed for 2021. Let’s hope it will be a better year.
So if you want to know how to learn the English for talking about the news, listen to this podcast a number of times until you understand all of it. Then listen again, just for practice!
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.