How about we talk about the news to help us listen and learn the English language? With the huge reaction to police brutality and racism, the effects of locking people in their homes for lengthy periods of time and the horror of starvation. There is plenty to talk about and lots of listening practise in this weeks lesson.
Normally when I look for a topic to build an English language lesson from, I look to the positive, and search for positive news. But as you can guess from the opening sentence, that’s difficult to do right now, and it would be wrong to just ignore what is happening.
Among the many things needed to acquire an unfamiliar language is input, the quality of the input will make a big difference to speed and ease with which you learn. When we talk about input in Adept English we are really talking about input comprehension. What we mean by this is providing you with rich and interesting story based input which you can follow along and comprehend.
By choosing to talk about stories we are using a medium of communication that all humans know to pay attention to, historically passing stories from generation to generation was a
critical way of passing survival knowledge on to future generations, humans are hard wired to focus on this information.
Learning which stems from a well-told story is remembered more accurately, and for far longer, than learning derived from facts and figures.
⭐ Peg Neuhauser, Organizational Psychologist
Talking about news that we should all be aware of, gives us a context to what we are about to hear. It’s much easier to follow something you know a little about already than starting from nothing.
These stories are interesting, interesting enough to focus on while you listen, they are also interesting enough to listen to many times, which helps with our spaced repetition.
|In The World
|At The Moment
|To Talk About
|In The UK
Hi and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. We are here to help you learn English language, improve your understanding of spoken English – and therefore improve your fluency in English. Our ‘Listen & Learn’ method shows you how to learn English, helps you learn English the natural way, so that you can practice understanding English just as though you were living in an English speaking country.
You can learn English online free with our podcasts, but if you need help bringing up your level of English, so that it’s good enough to understand more of the podcasts, then buy our course, The Most Common 500 Words in English.
This course will help you make sure that you know the most common words. These are the words which we use all the time and it will raise the percentage of the podcast that you can understand on first listen, without help. And don’t forget – you can subscribe and listen to our podcasts, with the written words in front of you on YouTube.
So today I’m just going to talk about some of the events and situations which are going on in the world at the moment. As you listen, you’ll find that you recognise some of them, you already know about these situations – you’ve heard or read about them in the news. But this podcast will help you understand and learn about them in English.
It’s all good practice – and my aim is to make it interesting and informative at the same time, so that it’s easier to listen to and you can get used to working out what’s being said, even if you don’t know all the vocabulary – but you know something already of the subjects – so here goes!
In my work as a psychotherapist, I get a sense sometimes of how global events impact people on a smaller scale. So things that are happening in world affect people individually. So sometimes events and situations that are in the news come into the therapy room because people want to talk about them, people are affected by them. And certainly this has been the case recently around the pandemic.
I’ve had a lot of conversations with people who’ve been directly affected by the pandemic, in that they’ve been ill themselves with the virus or their family members have. Occasionally, there have been people who’ve lost someone they love through the virus. And I’ve also worked with people who’ve been impacted in their work by the virus and its effects. And I’ve worked with people’s fear around the virus – some people are frightened to go out at all now. And others feel angry about their lives and their businesses being put ‘on hold’, without it seeming justified to them, without it seeming to have good reason. So lots of different reactions to the current situation.
I’m also finding that people want to talk about George Floyd. Lots of issues have been raised by the murder of a black man by the Minnesota police. This murder is evidenced by a video, which is freely available to view on YouTube. The word murder, M-U-R-D-E-R means the action of killing someone – and of course it’s the most serious criminal charge – you go to prison for committing murder.
The protests and the different conversations that are now happening as a result of George Floyd’s murder are giving hope to many. Hope that things may change for the better – and an acknowledgement that there still are many problems. This event only received attention because people there at the time recorded a video, recorded videos on their phones and put them up online.
These things usually happen without publicity, without us knowing about it. I’m proud of the UK as one of the countries in the world where we have less prejudice about race but it definitely still exists here. Prejudice about race – or ‘racism’ is still a problem – we are not free of it and things still need to change.
So people are motivated to protest and march under the banner of ‘Black Lives Matter’ and to again ask for change. So the word ‘racism’, R-A-C-I-S-M means the actions and thinking which result in people being treated less well or badly, because of their race or their ethnicity. ‘Race’, R-A-C-E is about your genes and racial characteristics like skin colour, or other aspects of your appearance that come from your parents.
Whereas ‘ethnicity’, E-T-H-N-I-C-I-T-Y means your social group, your culture, your religion perhaps, your language. So when we describe someone’s ‘ethnicity’ in the UK, we might say they are ‘British Black African’ or ‘British Asian’, ‘White European’, ‘Asian Chinese’ or ‘French Canadian’. There are lots of possible descriptions here – and usually it’s best to ask the person themselves, if you want to know their ethnicity. It may be different from what you think.
So we’re talking a lot about race and ethnicity and racial inequality at the moment in the UK and that’s really important and people have strong feelings about this. And there are other problems too. The news is out today that the UK economy shrank by 20% in April 2020 because of lockdown and the pandemic. 20% would normally be regarded as catastrophic, but right now, it’s just something we’ll have to take in our stride with everything else.
It’s worrying, it means that people may lose their jobs, may lose their livelihoods. But hopefully we’ll bounce back. It was a voluntary and purposeful shutdown of our economy. So we’re hoping there’ll be a bounce. A ‘bounce’, that’s B-O-U-N-C-E, is what a ball does when you throw in at a wall – it ‘bounces back’. So the UK economy will probably be OK in time, it’ll bounce back. And there are much worse things going on in the world than this.
In terms of the pandemic, there are worries at the moment about India, Brazil and Mexico. It seems that in India, people are being turned away from the hospitals and there apparently are more cases of the virus in Mumbai in India than there were in the Chinese city of Wuhan originally.
People in India are angry at the government for not providing adequate healthcare. It was hoped that during their lockdown, the infection would slow down. But this doesn’t seem to have happened – and now the lockdown is being lifted because of concerns about the Indian economy, so it’s likely that the infection rate will rise still further. In Brazil, there are reported to be 800,000 cases of the virus and 40,000 deaths so far. People there are also angry at their government’s response to the pandemic.
Protesters have created symbolic graves on Copacabana beach.
A ‘grave’, G-R-A-V-E means where someone’s body is buried, where they’re put after they’ve died. But there aren’t actual bodies in the sand on Copacabana beach – these are symbolic graves, there to make a point, there to express a viewpoint. So there are 100 graves, with black crosses on the top on the beach.
And there are fears in Mexico too, that the virus is still all around, claiming lives but the country is opening up again, because of concerns about the economy. And then there are the Syrian refugees - ‘refugees’ means people who have fled, been forced to leave their country – in this example, Syria. Currently many of the Syrian refugees are in camps in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey – and there are concerns about how the virus will affect people in these camps.
And yet another thing that’s happening in the world, which is really worrying? What about the plagues of locusts in Africa and Asia? Just some vocabulary there – a ‘plague’, P-L-A-G-U-E can mean an illness, rather like a pandemic, an illness which is widespread. But it can also mean, as it does here, a ‘plague’ of unwanted animals – great numbers of animals, a certain type of animal, which are causing damage.
And a ‘locust’, L-O-C-U-S-T is an insect which lives as part of a swarm, S-W-A-R-M. A ‘swarm’ – that means a big group of insects. You can have a swarm of bees, or a swarm of wasps, but here it’s swarms of locusts. And locusts are a problem because they eat everything they come across.
A photograph of a locust on a blade of grass. Used to help explain the locust swarms discussed in this English lesson.
They destroy crops, they destroy plants which are grown for food. Locusts are around normally in Africa and India, but this year, strange weather patterns have meant that the numbers of locusts have grown enormously. And so now parts of Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda are being devastated by locusts. India and Pakistan are also affected. Locusts can eat up to their own body weight in a day in leaves – and that means that they eat as much each day as they weigh. And they can fly up to 150km in a single day, in search of food.
That’s frightening. Apparently dry weather normally means that they die off, but this year that’s not happened – there’s been too much rain. And the problem is the effect on food production and then the effect on people of higher food prices, or worse still there not being enough food.
There seem to be a lot of bad things happening in the world at the moment, don’t there? But I hope that wherever you are in the world, you’re doing OK, despite all that’s going on. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.