English Listening Practice-Divided We Stand Ep 694

AI Image of woman between two polarised worlds. Explore how UK opinions vary in politics, enhancing cultural knowledge.

📝 Author: Hilary

📅 Published:

💬 3595 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 18 min

📥 Download MP3 & PDF 12.2 Mb ▪️ 👓 Read Transcript ▪️ 🎧 Listen to Lesson

English Listening Practice: Why Understanding Extremes Enhances YOUR English Skills

Expand Your English: Politics & Opinions. Dive into British English with a twist! Explore how opinions shape society. Listen now on Apple Podcasts, watch on YouTube, Spotify or visit adeptenglish.com for a unique lesson! 🇬🇧🗣️ #LearnEnglish #AdeptEnglish

📚 Why Join this Lesson?

  • Expand Vocabulary: Dive into political terms in English, enhancing your language arsenal.
  • Understand Polarised Opinions: Grasp left wing and right wing viewpoints, crucial for global awareness.
  • Improve Listening Skills: Perfect for all levels beginner, intermediate, advanced.
  • British English Focus: Learn nuances of British English and culture.
  • Practical Usage: Apply learning in conversation, exams, and daily life.
  • Accessible Anywhere: Learn online, immerse yourself anytime.

🎯 Key Benefits

  • 📈 Enhance English vocabulary, especially in political context.
  • 🤝 Master phrases and idioms for effective conversation.
  • 🌐 Gain insights into UK politics, enriching global understanding.
  • 🎧 Develop listening skills through an engaging English podcast.
  • 💬 Speak English confidently, with fluency and proper pronunciation.

✔Lesson transcript: https://adeptenglish.com/lessons/english-listening-practice-polarisation-politics-vocabulary-lesson/

There is too much at stake for us to surrender to the politics of polarization.
⭐ Brad Henry

Curious about the heated debates in today's world? Dive into our latest English lesson, where not only will you sharpen your understanding of British politics, but also master the art of expressing 'abstract' ideas in English.

From 'polarised' opinions to the subtleties of 'left wing' and 'right wing' politics, this lesson is a goldmine for anyone eager to articulate complex thoughts in English. Start listening now to transform your language skills and grasp the nuances of today's political discourse!

The root cause of all the problems we have in the world today is ignorance of course. But mostly, polarization.
⭐ Maya Angelou

🚀 Your Path to English fluency. Stay updated, learn contextually. Grammar & Vocabulary Building: Solid foundation for fluency. 🎓 Join Adept English Today! Embrace language acquisition with ease. Enjoy an English language lesson tailored to your pace. Dive into British culture for complete English immersion.

More About This Lesson

Dive into the world of British English with Adept English! Our latest lesson explores the intricate world of 'polarised opinions.' It's designed for English language learners keen on understanding complex topics and expressing themselves confidently in English. This lesson offers a unique blend of vocabulary enrichment and insights into the dynamics of differing viewpoints, enhancing both your language skills and cultural knowledge.

When politicians start talking about large groups of their fellow Americans as 'enemies,' it's time for a quiet stir of alertness. Polarizing people is a good way to win an election, and also a good way to wreck a country.
⭐ Molly Ivins
  1. Enhances Vocabulary: Learn words like "polarised" and "extremes."
  2. Cultural Insights: Gain understanding of UK politics and opinions.
  3. Contextual Learning: Learn English in the context of real-world issues.
  4. Listening Skills: Improve comprehension through varied topics.
  5. Political Terminology: Understand terms like "left wing" and "right wing."
  6. Critical Thinking: Encourages thought on complex topics.
  7. Language Flexibility: Exposure to abstract vs. concrete vocabulary.
  8. Conversation Topics: Learn about current events for discussions.
  9. Diverse Perspectives: Exposed to a range of opinions and viewpoints.
  10. Real-world Examples: Discusses relevant, contemporary issues.

Benefits of our listen & learn approach to learning

  1. Enhanced Vocabulary: Master key terms and phrases crucial for discussing sophisticated topics like politics.
  2. Cultural Insight: Gain an understanding of the British political landscape and how opinions are formed and expressed.
  3. Practical Application: Learn how to articulate complex thoughts in English, with a focus on real-world issues.

Engage with Current Issues: Discuss modern political polarization in English.

  • Understanding Polarization: Discover the history and impact of polarized opinions, especially in the UK.
  • Social Media's Role: Learn about how social media algorithms contribute to reinforcing existing beliefs.
  • Mental Health Awareness: Understand the effect of living in a polarized society on individual well-being.

Engaging with this lesson helps address common fears among English learners, such as misunderstanding complex topics or being unable to express nuanced opinions. It's a step towards fluency, offering a safe space to practice and build confidence. The lesson's focus on relevant, current topics ensures that the vocabulary and concepts you learn are immediately applicable and engaging.

The young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people.
⭐ Susan Sontag

📣 Ready to expand your English skills and dive into the world of British politics and opinions? Follow and subscribe to our podcast for more engaging, insightful, and fun English lessons. Start your journey to fluency with Adept English today! 🌟🎧🇬🇧

Questions You Might Have...

Exploring polarised opinions in this British English lesson is like navigating a vast ocean, where words are ships sailing between the North and South Poles of thought, guiding learners to the treasure of fluent English with Adept English.

  1. What is the meaning of 'polarised opinions'? Polarised opinions refer to views that are sharply divided, often at extreme ends of a spectrum. In the context of British English and politics, it implies that people's opinions are grouped at opposite ends of an issue, much like the North and South Poles are at opposite ends of the Earth.
  2. How does understanding political vocabulary help in learning English? Learning political vocabulary is crucial for English learners as it enhances your ability to discuss and understand complex topics. Understanding terms like 'left wing,' 'right wing,' and 'middle ground' not only broadens your vocabulary but also aids in grasping the nuances of British culture and public discourse.
  3. Why are discussions on climate change and vaccines important for English learners? Topics like climate change and vaccines are globally relevant and often debated. Discussing these issues in English helps you learn specialized vocabulary (e.g., 'anti-vaxxers,' 'climate change deniers') and understand diverse viewpoints, which is vital for fluency and cultural literacy in British English.
  4. What is the significance of learning about 'middle ground' politics? The concept of 'middle ground' in politics, referring to moderate or centrist views, is essential for English learners. It not only enriches your political vocabulary but also helps you understand the dynamics of British politics, fostering a more comprehensive understanding of English in a socio-political context.
  5. How can discussing controversial topics improve my English skills? Engaging with controversial topics in English, like the ones discussed in the Adept English lesson, challenges you to understand and use complex vocabulary and expressions. It also improves your listening comprehension and encourages critical thinking in English, which are key components of language fluency.

Most Unusual Words:

  • Abstract: Ideas or concepts that are not physical or concrete.
  • Polarised: Divided into two very different groups.
  • Zealot: Someone who is extremely passionate about a belief or cause.
  • Dogma: A set of principles or beliefs that people refuse to question.
  • Vaccine: A treatment that helps the body fight a specific disease.
  • Anti-vaxxer: A person who opposes vaccination.
  • Conspiracy theories: Ideas suggesting that events are secretly manipulated by powerful groups.
  • Climate change deniers: People who do not believe that climate change is happening.
  • Polycrisis: A situation where multiple crises occur at the same time.
  • Nuanced: Having subtle or complex differences.

Most Frequently Used Words:


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Transcript: English Listening Practice: Divided We Stand

Where Did The Middle Ground Go?

Hi there. Have you ever wondered why people seem so divided in their opinions these days, especially in politics? Well, let's discuss this today, but with the added extra that you'll be enhancing your British English skills, as we go along. Today I’m covering vocabulary, words for ‘abstract’ ideas - that’s ABSTRACT. Things which we talk about, that aren’t physical items, not things you can see or touch. This podcast contrasts with podcast 693, the one I gave you on Monday, where we worked on vocabulary for physical items in your kitchen. And I’m interested to know - are opinions so fiercely divided in your country too? In the UK, it’s noticeable just how ‘polarised’ people’s views have become. The word ‘polarised’, POLARISED means ‘grouped at opposite ends’ of the range, of the spectrum. If you think of people as having a range of opinions - like a long line with different opinions along it, there are of course more extreme views towards each end of the line. The ‘extremes’, EXTREMES as we call it. We might call two opposite ends of a line ‘poles’, POLE - a bit like the North Pole and the South Pole are opposite ends of the earth. And from that comes the word, ‘polarised’ meaning ‘grouped at opposite ends. You might say ‘opinions in the UK have become polarised’ - and this seems to be getting more and more so.

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.

British Politics: A Leap from Centre to Extremes?

In politics for example, we talk about being ‘on the left’ or ‘on the right’. And this is how we might describe politics in any country - we might use the terms ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’. In the US, the Republicans are right wing and the Democrats aren’t exactly ‘left wing’ to us perhaps, but they’re ‘left of the Republicans’, let’s say. And we talk also about ‘centre or middle ground’ politics. You’ll perhaps be familiar with these ideas and these terms. I think even if you have a small interest in politics or you’ve studied history, you’ll know this. But it’s good to have the English vocabulary for these ideas.

And what I’m discussing today - is the trend, towards ‘polarised opinion’ - in politics, but on all kinds of issues too. Opinions are polarised and I don’t think this is helpful.


An AI image of divided people picking opposite viewpoints. Delve into current, real-world issues while improving English skills.

©️ Adept English 2023

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Polarisation in UK Politics

About 10-15 years ago, UK politics was more of a ‘calm sea’, with Labour and Conservatives sailing in the middle ground. The complaint in the UK then was that politics was very ‘middle ground’ and there was little difference between the main political groups or ‘parties’. The main political parties in the UK are Labour, LABOUR and the Conservatives, CONSERVATIVES. Labour are more ‘left wing’ and the Conservatives, currently Rishi Sunak’s party are more ‘right wing’. 10 or 15 years ago, there seemed much less difference between Labour and the Conservatives and UK politics was very ‘middle ground’. When it came to voting, sometimes people complained there was ‘little difference between the parties’. Perhaps compared to now, those times seemed relatively peaceful. People were less ‘worked up’, less ‘exercised’ perhaps by the issues of the world. But since then, it’s gone from being a ‘calm sea’ to a ‘stormy ocean’, where people’s opinions are more divided, more polarised. Why is that? And is this happening in your country too?

Example One: The discussion on the COVID vaccine

I’ll give you some more examples. People have varying opinions on the COVID vaccine - that’s VACCINE - the injection which many people had to protect them from COVID. So there are people, who tend to be on the left, who continue to support the vaccine programme, who still get their vaccines and cannot understand anyone who doesn’t. And at the other end, there are the ‘anti-vaxxers’, often spelt VAXXER. These are people who might never have had the vaccine and their reasons range from worrying about allergic reactions to what we call ‘conspiracy theories’, meaning ‘ideas that there is another intention, another purpose behind the vaccine - usually that is rather dark’. That’s a ‘conspiracy theory’. One example was that the government have been putting microchips into everyone’s arms, so they can monitor us! Clearly most sensible people know that that’s not true. The problem is that if you express a viewpoint in the middle ground, a questioning viewpoint perhaps, people very easily respond as though your views are extreme, because you don’t think exactly the same way as they do. So if you choose not to get your vaccine, you ’must be an anti-vaxxer’. Or if you do get your vaccine, you’re just following directions, unquestioningly, blindly perhaps. If you do more research, you’ll find that there are some compelling arguments, which go against the ‘mainstream narrative’, the ‘official story’. And these are interesting and sound as though they could be true - but also they are unproven.

Example Two: Climate change zealots v. climate change deniers?

As far as climate change is concerned, people are sometimes seen to be wholly behind every idea that supports the need for carbon reduction and some people are ‘climate change zealots’. A ‘zealot’, ZEALOT means someone who’s a massive and extreme supporter of an idea - that’s a ‘zealot’. So there are people so convinced of the ‘climate change emergency’ that they pin themselves to signs above our motorways, stopping the traffic for hours on end. Or they throw soup at a Vincent Van Gogh painting. I think there’s an effect that people at the extremes tend to ‘grab the headlines’, tend to be covered in the news. And the idea that the majority of people might have viewpoints in the middle ground can seem to get lost sometimes. Also, it might be that if you’re in the middle ground, the more extreme ends of opinion would see you ‘as ill informed’ or ‘not doing enough for the climate’, not caring enough. And at the other end of the spectrum, you’re a ’climate change denier’. And there are ‘climate change deniers’, who think that climate change is completely made up and there is no problem at all with fossil fuels and continuing as we are. To me clearly, the middle ground between the views of ‘climate change zealots’ and ‘climate change deniers’ is where the interesting discussion happens. At the extreme ends of opinion, it’s about beliefs, which cannot be questioned. It’s about ‘conviction’. People are already convinced of something and it means they don’t listen to other viewpoints or to actual data. The word for this way of seeing things, this narrative in English is ‘dogma’, DOGMA. It means you’ve got a fixed opinion. In the middle ground, at least questions can be asked. We can look critically at the scientific data. But it can feel really difficult to have these discussions. It can feel hard even to ask intelligent questions!

Is it safe to express any opinion? Do we still have ‘free speech’?

And in the UK on some topics, it feel as though expressing any opinion is almost dangerous. If you express a viewpoint, which one side or the other can be taken as being ‘against their viewpoint’, you will be characterised as being at the opposite extreme. I find I think about this when making podcasts, as this is particularly so online. I’m here primarily to teach you English - but I do like to make the podcasts interesting and with that comes perhaps some ‘danger’. If I express a viewpoint that some people disagree with, what’s going to happen? I’m not here to offend anyone - I’d rather just teach English! But I find there are subjects I choose not to talk about - because opinions are so divided.

Could You Guess If Your Stress Is Super Chill 😌 Or Super Crazy?

Possible reasons one: Social Media's Influence on Opinion Formation?

Why is it like this? Is it the influence of social media? For years, people have disagreed or agreed on forums like Twitter, now known as ‘X’, of course. Or on platforms like Reddit, people have enjoyed or been compelled by arguments with people with a different viewpoint online. But of course, these viewpoints can then be characterised, or represented as ‘extreme’ and therefore ‘not OK”. It’s easy to make that allegation about someone - that they’re ‘extreme’. The words are all there in English. And perhaps it’s this influence of social media and its extremes that creeps into wider society and wider conversations. So terms like ‘a twitter storm’ - which I guess now would be ‘an X storm. These have come about because of this phenomenon. ‘A twitter storm’ means ‘a raging argument between two groups of people who have opposing opinions’.

Possible reasons two: Impact of Current Events on Public Opinion Formation?

Or another reason perhaps? Those times of ‘middle ground politics’ that I’m remembering from 10-15 years ago - compared to now, those times were relatively peaceful. People were less ‘worked up’, less ‘exercised’ perhaps by the issues in the world. Since then there’s been the 2008 financial crash, the cost of living crisis, climate change moving into being described as ‘the climate change emergency’, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, the Pandemic and the various wars and conflicts that are going on around the world.

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Possible reasons three: The Role of Individual and Collective Anxiety in Opinion Formation?

Perhaps all of these things in our world, this ‘polycrisis’ idea that I introduced in podcast 685 - perhaps they make people more anxious, more scared. And just like individual human beings, living in worrying, ‘anxiety-making’ world, they tend to cling to the black and white ideas, to one extreme viewpoint or another. Perhaps it seems ‘safer’ where there seem to be ‘definites’, dogma even. And perhaps as a society, we’re getting like that too - we cling to ‘definites’, to strong, specific viewpoints because the world is frightening, even when there is evidence that supports a more middle ground, more nuanced discussion and viewpoint.

What do you think of this? Is it happening in your country too? Is it something you see? Or do you disagree?


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Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

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