Improve Your Confidence In English Conversations Working With Me As Your English-Speaking Conversation Partner
Today our lesson is an everyday English conversation to help improve your English listening comprehension and vocabulary skills. We talk about London and the UK, so you will also learn about some British culture along the way. This is a more interesting way to learn English without even noticing!
Improve your English listening skills through everyday conversations. You can do it! Learning a new language is challenging, but it’s also hugely rewarding and fun. And if you want to learn to speak English conversationally and confidently, you’re in the right place.
We know that the best way to learn English is to immerse yourself in the language. In this podcast episode, we talk about everyday things just as though you were talking to a friend in your own language. The idea is to learn as you listen.
Traditional English lessons can be really boring. The trick is
making each lesson interesting enough for you to want to listen to it many times. So I take a different approach to teaching English. My lessons will keep you interested and your comprehension levels will go way up.
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Immerse Spontaneous Zeitgeist Situation Aquarium Penguins Opioid Crisis Galleries Memorial Unofficial
Today I’m going to talk about a day out in London, a bit about the pandemic in the UK - and about a COVID memorial in London. So this is what I call a ‘chatty podcast’ - it’s a wide-ranging chat. It’s personal, it’s me talking to you like a friend might about my thoughts and experiences. Hopefully you will find this interesting to listen to, it will introduce some new vocabulary and a bit of British culture perhaps. And maybe even some ‘tourist information’ about London.
Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.
That’s why I say ‘wide-ranging’ - I touch on a lot of different subjects. But mainly, listening to spoken English at the right level, is here to help you increase your understanding and your speaking skill in English.
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Today then some reflections about my experience and some thoughts on the pandemic at the moment in the UK. I find it really interesting how sometimes you get a sense of a ‘shift’, a change in the Zeitgeist. That’s a nice German word for you - ‘Zeitgeist’, ZEITGEIST - meaning ‘spirit of the time’ and we do use that, we’ve adopted that into the English language.
Anyway, I notice that there has been a shift in the Zeitgeist, the general feeling, in the UK in the last few weeks. Instead of the news and what people talk about being COVID still, people are understandably focused on what’s happening with Russia and Ukraine. On 24th February the UK government dropped all of the remaining COVID restriction measures. No need to wear masks, no need to self-isolate if you’re ill, no travel restrictions.
Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have taken a little longer to remove their restrictions. So it’s not that the pandemic is over entirely. I’ve had two people this morning, telling me how members of their family have suddenly got COVID again but the government is now calling for us to ‘live with COVD’ and the government plan is called ‘Living with COVID’. So yes, everyone here is much more concerned about the situation in Eastern Europe at the moment.
In terms of the pandemic then, we’re all experiencing a lovely feeling of freedom. My son and I had a day out in London recently. The sun was shining and we went first of all to the London Aquarium to see the fishes. An ‘aquarium’, AQUARIUM is place where you keep fish and sea creatures. Usually an aquarium has glass sides and is full of water, so that you can look in and see the fish. The London Aquarium was quite a nice half day out, I would say - not a full day.
The London Aquarium is a very short walk from the world famous London Eye on the Southbank of the Thames, near Waterloo Station. It’s also called ‘Sealife’. So my son and I had a very enjoyable morning at Sealife. They have huge tanks with quite big fish in there - we estimated that some of the tanks are literally the same size - if not bigger - as our whole house! The only bit we didn’t like - they’ve got penguins in there, PENGUINS. We both felt that the penguins needed more space - and outside space, surely?
This may be true for the fishes as well, but the tanks did seem reasonably large. I’m always rather hesitant these days, when visiting animal attractions - have they got enough room? That’s why, when we had the urge to see zoo animals last summer, we went to a safari park, rather than a traditional zoo.
So Sealife is OK - on balance, if you’re in the UK and you’d like to visit an aquarium, I would recommend it. But even better is the Oceanarium on the seafront in Bournemouth. That’s really good - and their penguins live outside and I think look happier. Bournemouth is a lovely seaside town, on the south coast in the county of Dorset. So again, worth a visit, if you’re in the UK.
Once we’d finished at Sealife, we sat in the sunshine on the south bank of the Thames and ate our lunch and discussed what to do next. We decided to walk across Westminster Bridge, up past the Houses of Parliament along the Thames and visit an art gallery called ‘Tate Britain’ on the north side of the River Thames.
There are four Tate galleries in the UK. There’s the main Tate Modern of course, on the south bank of the Thames. There’s the Tate Britain I’m talking about here. And then the other two Tate art galleries in the UK? Well, one’s in Liverpool and the other is in St Ives, in Cornwall. The name ‘Tate’, TATE has an unfortunate association with the sugar trade.
Tate & Lyle is familiar to most people in the UK as a brand of sugar. And there is debate currently as to how much Tate & Lyle is connected with the history of slavery in sugar production. I read online that the Tate galleries are currently employing historians to evaluate, to work out whether a change of name from ‘Tate’ is appropriate. The Tate Gallery has recently decided to remove the name of ‘Sackler’ from their buildings.
The Sackler family are behind the Purdue Pharma company in the US, seen as largely responsible for the Opioid Crisis there. There are in fact two mini series coming out on this story. I think both of them are available in America, but not yet here - or they’re not yet available to me, anyway! One is called Dopesick, the other Painkiller, and they both tell the story of Purdue Pharma.
Both are on my list of things to watch, but the point is that the Tate galleries have already needed to remove the name of the Sackler family from their buildings because of this negative association. And we will wait to see whether the name ‘Tate’ will be changed. Anyway, the Tate Britain, a good art gallery houses works by many famous British painters - in particular JMW Turner.
This is the artist whose life was the subject of a 2014 film called Mr Turner. His paintings are very ‘impressionistic’ - that means ‘rather like the French Impressionists’. He painted scenes at sea and views of the countryside - known as ‘seascapes’ or ‘landscapes’. His famous works include ‘The Fighting Temeraire’ and ‘Rain, Steam and Speed’. So we had a good walk round the Tate Britain.
Once we’d finished our visit to Tate Britain, we walked back and instead of crossing the Thames near the Houses of Parliament via Westminster Bridge, we crossed instead over Lambeth Bridge and we walked along what’s called ‘The Albert Embankment’. So this is a walk along the south side of the Thames by St Thomas’s Hospital. And it’s here that the COVID Memorial Wall has been created.
Gain Confidence In English Conversation Practice Chatting About A Trip To London Ep 520 Article Image
A photograph of the London COVID memorial wall. A fun, teach-them-while-they-listen conversation. Learn about the UK without noticing. Learn about it.
This is an unofficial memorial - that’s ‘memorial’, MEMORIAL and this word means an object or a place that commemorates something - like a war memorial. And the word ‘unofficial’, UNOFFICIAL? Well, it’s the opposite of ‘official’. ‘Unofficial’ means it’s ‘not formally recognised’. ‘Spontaneous’ if you like! This is a very long wall along the south bank of the River Thames, currently being used to commemorate the names of people who’ve died of COVID in the UK.
Thousands of red hearts have been drawn on the surface of the wall and the idea is that families who’ve lost people to COVID can come and write the names of the people who’ve died and a message on the wall. The number of deaths in the UK, where Coronavirus was present is now well over 183,000 and this wall has room for all of those names. I like that this memorial is unofficial, spontaneous.
Boris Johnson is apparently still thinking about how to do an official memorial, but meanwhile people have been busy and made their own. This wall is literally opposite the Houses of Parliament, across the river from there. I like the fact that it is unofficial - and it is quite a thing to visit. Apparently street artists around the world use POSCA pens - and this is what has been used to make thousands of red hearts here.
It’s not a permanent memorial then - I guess the ink will eventually wash off in the London rain - or will they find some way of preserving or protecting it? And I wonder if memorials like this one are being set up in other cities around the world - to mark the pandemic and to remember those who died?
If you know of any such site or memorial - get in touch and let us know. Or maybe you’d like to start your own? Meanwhile, I hope you found this podcast interesting. Maybe you know London well? Maybe you’ve visited and you know the places that I’m talking about.
Or maybe you’d like to visit London - I hope so. But use this podcast to practise your English language, to learn new vocabulary. So listen to it a number of times, as you usually do.
Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
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- Tate & Lyle
- More great English listening lessons
- Sea Life London
- Bournemouth ocean aquarium
- Tate Turner Collection
- The Tate UK
- Tate Sacklers Story
- National COVID Memorial Wall
- Incredible story behind the national COVID memorial
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