In This Learn Spoken English Lesson We Ask Are You A Lark Or An Owl Ep 335

A photograph of a Eurasian eagle owl, English language explanation of why people are sometimes called larks and owls.

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💬 2060 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 11 min

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How To Learn Spoken English

If you are looking to learn to speak English fluently, then you’ve found a splendid place designed to help you, you have found Adept English. That’s all we do here at Adept English, we focus on helping you to speak English fluently, one of many parts of learning the English language.

So how do you learn the speaking part of English? You need to listen to native English speakers. Lot’s of listening. So much listening that your comprehension of what you listen to is about 20 times better than your ability to speak.

We will help prepare you for fluent spoken English, providing English lessons specifically designed to improve your comprehension of spoken English.

With enough listening, your ability to follow a conversation will be so good, your recall of vocabulary and grammar and knowledge of key phrases and idioms is automatic. No translation is taking place, your pulling English language from your longer term memory and its happening automatically.

It seems a little obvious, to use the same approach we all used as children to acquire a language through listening. I know we are all usually in a hurry; we have a million things to be doing. So we all skip through the reading part of our online journeys and guess what we end up missing some obvious things literally written in black and white in front of us. If you want to learn to speak a new language you need to be listening to it much, much more than you think you need to.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

In The Morning6
In The Day3
In The UK3
Your Circadian Rhythm3
May Not Be3

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: In This Learn Spoken English Lesson We Ask Are You A Lark Or An Owl

Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English.

When I did the podcast last week about light nights, I was talking about the different lengths of daylight, where and how in the world this happens, or doesn’t and how it affects people. And I mentioned that sometimes it being very light in the morning affects people’s sleep and it made me think about terms, expressions we use in English to describe people’s sleep habits. Specifically the expressions which came to mind were when you hear someone described either as an ‘owl’ or a ‘lark’.

English Phrases That You Will Never Guess The Meaning Of

This is something which is a common understanding in English – we know what we mean when we describe a person like this – but it’s something that may not be obvious to an English language learner – and it introduces some interesting ideas to think about too.

I have always been a night owl rather than a lark.
⭐ Sara Sheridan, Author

Basically, if you call someone a ‘lark’ or an ‘owl’, you’re referring to their sleep pattern. If someone gets up early in the morning and is all bright and ready for the day, they’re a lark, L-A-R-K. Early morning rising is their preference and they’re sleepy and ready for bed, maybe around 10 o’clock at night. And an owl, O-W-L is a person – I’m one of these – who prefers to sleep in a while in the morning, and go to bed later.

‘To sleep in’ is a phrasal verb meaning to stay in bed in the morning, to get up a bit later. So people basically have naturally different circadian rhythms patterns. Some people prefer early, some people prefer late.

And your circadian rhythm? The term may be similar in your language – ‘circadian’, C-I-R-C-A-D-I-A-N comes from the Latin ‘circa diem’ – meaning ‘around a day’ – and rhythm, R-H-Y-T-H-M here means a pattern. So your circadian rhythm is your body’s natural pattern for the day – when you are tired and want to sleep, when you’re hungry and want to eat, when you’re at your most energetic and alert.

So your circadian rhythm is determined by daylight of course, but there also seems to be some genetic differences – some of us are larks and some are owls by nature, by biology. You might also hear people called ‘morning larks’ or ‘night owls’. So why do we use these words?


You Probably Know What An Owl Is

Well, of the two you’re perhaps more likely to know the word ‘owl’, O-W-L, but both owls and larks are birds. Owls have big eyes, and hunt for mice and other small animals to eat at night. They sleep during the day and come out to hunt at night. They also ‘hoot’, H-O-O-T, which is a verb for the sound they make. There are quite a lot of different types of owls in the UK – the barn owl, the tawny owl, the little owl, the short and the long-eared owl. And worryingly all of them are declining in number. It’s a bit depressing – whatever animal you look up, there are always worries for its conservation. But they’re basically birds that come out at night, so that’s why we use the term ‘owl’ or ‘night owl’ for someone who is at their best late in the day – or late at night, shall we say.

Another English Phrase “Happy as a lark”

And a lark, L-A-R-K is a bird that sings in the early morning. We might say ‘Oh, she’s up with the lark’ – that means that she’s up at first daylight, which as I was describing last week in May and June in the UK, could be soon after 4am in the morning! So the lark is known for its song. There are three different types of lark in the UK, skylarks, woodlarks and shorelarks – skylarks are on the endangered list, of course. And they’re present in different parts of the country at different times, as larks migrate, they go to a different place in the winter.


A photograph of a Crested lark viewed from the side. Used to help explain learning spoken English.

©️ Adept English 2020

You may also hear in English the expression ‘happy as a lark’, I think implying that because larks have a nice, jolly song, they sound happy little birds – and so are some people.

Your Genes Determine What You Are

So the idea that people are ‘owls’ or ‘larks’ being to some extent dependent upon their genes, their genetics is perhaps a relatively new discovery. One of the great books I read last year was ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker, who is a neuroscientist, he studies the brain and is a sleep researcher. This book is now an international best seller – so it means a huge number of copies have sold across the world.

This book is a fascinating read and above all, cautions anyone who is casual in their attitude to getting enough sleep. Matthew Walker is really stern and very clear, that you risk your health if you don’t sleep between 7 and 9 hours every night. And he makes the point that most of us ‘under sleep’, but actually if you have more than 9 hours sleep, that’s not good for your health either. But sleeping too little is what most of us do.

He makes the point that we are ‘morning larks’ or ‘night owls’ according to our genes, but that society and people sometimes are critical of night owls – they can be seen as not being as virtuous, not as good as other people who get up early, perhaps a bit lazy. And morning larks may be seen as industrious, keen, better people.

Matthew Walker says this is rather unfair as it’s determined by your genes, you can’t help it. And he talks about how night owls are disadvantaged in life, by the fact that work places and schools and colleges all expect us to be in place, at our desks early in the morning. And there’s not much flexibility.

An Excuse For Waking Up Late?

It’s also well-known that teenagers for example – so people between….aged between the…. 13 and 19 years old, function better much later in the day. They naturally become night owls for their teenage years, for that period of their lives.

So a later school or college opening time would suit their brains much better and allow them to function much better. Changes in running school and college timetables later in the day are likely to improve student performance, make for better learning and better exam results. But it’s not something which has been taken seriously yet, and I guess there are practical difficulties which may prevent it from happening.

A Book On Sleeping

I’d recommend that book by Matthew Walker, though with all of the common illnesses and conditions that people get with age and lifestyle being so much affected by your sleep, it’s a bit worrying, it’s a worrying read, especially if you’re having problems with your sleep! However, he’s got some good suggestions too, if sleeping is a problem for you. If your English is good enough, you could tackle the book in English – but I think that it’s been translated into other languages too.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

You can certainly get it on Amazon in French ‘Pourquoi nous dormons’, so I’m sure there are many other languages that you can find this book in. And if you don’t want to read the whole book, there are plenty of videos and shorter podcasts featuring Matthew Walker on this subject – so you can practise your English listening to them too!

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So there we have it – owls, larks and neuroscientist Matthew Walker along with your English language practice for this week.

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



The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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