The Aussie English Podcast
Listen to all the latest expression, vlog, and interview episodes here!
Learn Australian English in this expression episode of the Aussie English Podcast where I teach you to use the expression A TASTE OF YOUR OWN MEDICINE.
AE 480 – Expression: A Taste of Your Own Medicine
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. This is the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English, or just English in general, as I always say.
So, guys, how have you been going? What’s been going on? No intro scene today. I was going to record this episode this morning, but my housemates… one of them goes out really early in the morning and has to work. He works as a swimming instructor. And so, he buggered off really early in the morning at like six thirty or something, (at the) crack of dawn, but he gets breaks during the day. So, he came back it would have been like nine o’clock, and I was just writing this episode, putting it together, and then he went to sleep, he wanted to sleep for a bit before he went back to work.
So, I decided, you know, what I’m not going to record the episode this morning, instead I’ll invert my day, I’ll reverse the order of my day and how I’d planned it, and I went out to Mulligan’s Flat, yet again, the reserve nearby where I live in Canberra here with loads of animals, and I was out there shooting with the new lens that I’ve got.
So, I recently got a lens. Hopefully, you guys have heard about this or seen the video that I was talking about this in on YouTube, and I made a Walking With Pete episode recently discussing photography and how much fun I’m kind of having with it. So, you’ll have to keep an eye out for that one. That’ll be out soon when I get around to making it, although, it ended up being a bit of a long one. It was about 27 minutes, I think 27 minutes, almost half an hour.
But yeah, today was amazing. I went out there at about 10 and got back at about 2 in the afternoon. (I) saw loads of wallabies, loads of kangaroos, heaps of birds, lots of little small passerine birds. These are things like honeyeaters and… What are the other ones? Robins. Really small ones, and now with this new lens I can finally get them.
So, it was an amazing day. I’m really happy. I’m really starting to enjoy a little more being a podcaster and someone who works from home, because I’ve sort of structured my day around what I want to do, and I talk about this in the Walking With Pete episode coming up, making your day the kind of day that you want to enjoy. Anyway, guys.
I thought I would chat to you for a little bit before we got into today’s episode. Remember, if you would like access to the transcripts and the MP3s for today’s episode and all the other podcast episodes, go to TheAussieEnglishPodcast.com and click ‘Sign Up’, and it’s just a small fee of $4.99 a month. That’s it. And then, you get access to all the transcripts and the MP3s, so you can download them, unlimited access, and study wherever, whenever.
If you’re serious about your English and you would like to study these expression episodes and get a lot more content that goes through the vocab in these episodes, the pronunciation in the exercises in these expression episodes, and then also detailed videos of things like the other expressions that I use in these episodes go to TheAussieEnglishClassroom and sign up. Guys, get over there! You get one month, 30 days, for $1 so you’ve got plenty of time to get in there and absorb as much of that English learning material as possible, guys. And I’ve had a lot of really, really good results. All the students in there tend to get over to the Facebook group, which is private just for the members from the Aussie English Classroom and they post videos, and guys, some of these students who’ve been in there, especially the ones for three to six months, have taken their English up to the next level, they’ve been getting ahead leaps and bounds of where they were when they started.
A special shout out to Aykhan, to Emma, and to Lima. These guys have been working their butts off as well as everyone else in there. But yeah, get over there. TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com. It’s just $1 for your first month. Anyway.
Big intro, guys. Let’s dive into the episode.
Today’s Aussie joke, today’s Aussie joke, is about an optometrist. So, this… I found this one, I thought of this one, when… obviously the expression for today is ‘a taste of your own medicine’. I typed in ‘medicine jokes’, ’cause I know that there’s a lot of doctor jokes, but I found this one about optometrists. And ‘optometrists’ are the ones who make your glasses for your eyes. Okay? So, here’s an optometrist joke.
Did you hear about the optometrist that fell into his lens grinding machine?
I wonder if you guys know where this is going to go.
Did you hear about the optometrist that fell into his lens grinding machine? The machine that used to grind lenses so they can be used for glasses.
The answer: He made a spectacle of himself.
He made a spectacle of himself. Do you get it?
‘A spectacle’ can be used for someone who makes a scene, right, something to be looked at, something to be watched. So, if you were to do something embarrassing in front of a lot of people, you’re making a spectacle, right? If you were to take your clothes off at a football game and do what is called ‘streaking’, which some guys tend to do in Australia at footy matches, if you were to streak at a game like that, you would be making a spectacle.
But ‘a spectacle’ or ‘a pair of spectacles’ is also another way of saying ‘glasses’, ‘eye glasses’, that you look through, that allow people who have poorer vision than average, than 20/20, ‘a spectacle’ or ‘a set of spectacles’ allows them to see. A set of glasses.
So, did you hear about the optometrist that fell into his lens grinding machine? He made a spectacle of himself. Wow. Anyway, guys.
As I said, today’s expression is ‘a taste of your own medicine’, ‘a taste of your own medicine’. I wonder if you guys have heard this before.
Now Yu was the one who suggested this. Congratulations Yu. This was the first one she’s won. She is in the Aussie English Classroom private Facebook group and suggested this expression along with all the other members, we voted on them, and Yu won. Well done, Yu!
So, let’s go through and define the different words in the expression ‘a taste of your own medicine’, ‘a taste of your own medicine’. Okay.
‘A taste’, ‘a taste’. ‘A taste’ is the sensation of flavour perceived in the mouth and throat on contact with a substance. So, you put food in your mouth, you’re having a taste of that food, right? You’re tasting the food, you’re having a taste of the food. A taste of something. Have a taste! I’ve baked a cake. Have a taste of it. Have a try. Put it in your mouth and taste it. ‘A taste’.
‘Your own’, ‘your own’, ‘your own something’, ‘your own’. ‘Your own’… when we use ‘own’ that way with possessive words beforehand, we are emphasising that someone or something belongs or is related to the person mentioned, right? So, if it is ‘your own phone’ it’s an emphasis showing that that phone belongs to you. If it’s ‘your own work’, you’ve written an essay, this is my very own work, my own essay. It is your essay. It’s a way of emphasising that, right?
‘Medicine’, ‘medicine’. ‘Medicine’ is a drug or other preparation for the treatment or prevention of a disease. So, I’m sure when you guys got sick when you were younger, your mother or your father would have given you medicine, you know, Panadol or Paracetamol, whatever drug it was, to help you feel better. They would have given you medicine.
So, let’s go through and define the expression, guys, and before we do that, I want you to know that this expression you might hear in a range of different ways with a few different verbs before ‘a taste of your own medicine’.
So. you might hear it as ‘to give someone a taste of their own medicine’, ‘to give someone a taste of their own medicine’. And you might also hear, ‘to get a taste of your own medicine’ or ‘to have a taste of your own medicine’. It can be quite often heard with those three verbs. ‘To give someone a taste of their own medicine’, ‘to get a taste of your own medicine’, or ‘to have a taste of your own medicine’.
So, I wonder if you guys know this expression of what it means. If you get, if you have, if you give someone, a taste of one’s own medicine, it is that that person is experiencing the same harmful or unpleasant thing or things that they were doing to someone else. So, if they were inflicting some kind of harmful thing or unpleasant thing on another person, and then suddenly, they were to receive that exact same harmful unpleasant thing, that treatment, back to themselves, that is a taste of their own medicine. So, an attack in the same manner in which someone has attacked someone else, right? If I punch you and then you punch me, that’s me receiving a taste of my own medicine.
So, I looked into the origin of this one and, apparently, the origin of the phrase ‘a taste of your own medicine’ comes from Aesop’s famous story about a swindler, someone who tricks people and sells things in order to make money and… trick people, a swindler who sells fake medicine claiming that it can cure anything. And then, this swindler becomes sick himself, he becomes ill, he falls ill, and people give him his own medicine, which he knows won’t work. So, literally, he got a taste of his own medicine, and figuratively, he got a taste of his own medicine.
Alright, so let’s go through three different real-life examples of how I would use this expression.
Example number one. Imagine that you have a friend or a young relative who is always pulling pranks on you. So, maybe he puts whoopie cushions on your chairs before you sit down. And whoopie cushions are these sort of rubber cushions that when you fill them with air and someone sits on them they go, *plthhh*, and it sounds like you farted, even though you didn’t really fart. So, maybe his putting would be cushions on a chair before you sit down as a prank. Maybe he put red food dye in your red wine before you drank it, and then after drinking it, your mouth was completely red. Or maybe he prank calls you. He calls you up and says, it’s the cops, you know, it’s the police. You need to come down to the police station. So, he’s pranking you a lot, right? If you get sick of him doing this and you thought, mmm, I’m going to have to get my revenge and do to him what he’s done to me. Then you’re going to give him a taste of his own medicine. Maybe you get him a chair to sit on and there’s a wonky leg, you know, a leg that’s kind of about to break, about to fall off the chair, it’s a bit wonky, and then, when he sits down, Bob’s your uncle, the chair breaks and he falls over, falls on his arse, and embarrasses himself. He got a taste of his own medicine. He had a taste of his own medicine and you gave him a taste of his own medicine. Right? So, he received the unpleasantness that he had been giving you.
Example number two. Alright, imagine that you’re a restaurant manager with a temper, and this is a true story. This is something, you know, that happened when I was working in hospitality and one of our managers was an awful person who would always lose her temper. So, you’re a restaurant manager, you’ve got a temper, you always get angry at customers, at other staff members, workers, at waiters, at chefs, at dishwashers, and you’re always taking out your frustration, your stress, and your anger on other people. One day, they all decide enough is enough and they gang up on you. So, when you suddenly decide to lose your temper and rage up at them, instead, when they see that you’re about to crack, they all start raging at you all at once yelling at you. So, this time, everyone else has given you the same treatment you usually give them. So, they gave you a taste of your own medicine, you got a taste of your own medicine, and you had a taste of your own medicine when it comes to the workers yelling at you instead of the other way round. You received a kind of unpleasantness that you usually dole out to others.
Example Number three. You’re a little kid at school and you’re known for always bagging out other children. So, you’re a boy, right, you’re nasty to other kids, you teased them, you pick on them, you pay them out, you bag them, and it makes you feel superior, you know? Bullies like to do it because it makes them feel better. So, your abuse usually packs quite a punch and causes kids to cry or to run away and dob you in to the teacher, that’s to go to the teacher and tell on you, ‘to dob you in’. And one day a new kid comes to school and is bigger than you, and he’s stronger than you, and he’s a worse bully than you. And in order to sort of assert his dominance, instead of teasing the other kids, he comes straight for you. He comes after you, he bags you, he teases you, he pays you out, like crazy, enough for you to cry, run away, and go and dob on him to the teacher. And what’s the teacher going to say when you do that? They’re going to say, this kid just gave you a taste of your own medicine. You’ve just had a taste of your own medicine from this kid. You got a taste of your own medicine from this kid. Okay? So, the teacher might show absolutely no sympathy towards you. You received the unpleasantness that you usually give other people.
So, I hope you understand the expression, guys, ‘a taste of your own medicine’. Remember, it can be used with verbs like ‘to give someone a taste of their own medicine’, ‘to have a taste of one’s own medicine’, and ‘to get a taste of one’s own medicine’. And it is when an experience of the same harmful or unpleasant thing that someone does to other people is received by that person. So, it kind of boomerangs back on them, right? And I just use the word ‘boomerang’ as a verb.
(A) ‘boomerang’ is that… the curved stick that Aboriginals used to hunt animals in Australia, and there is a stereotype that it comes back. So, it boomerangs, right? You’ve probably seen that on Instagram. Boomerang. Anyway, I diverge.
Let’s get on to the listening and repeating exercise, or listen and repeat exercise, okay. So, this is your chance to practice your pronunciation, guys, before we finish up. So, listen and repeat after me and practice your English accent. Let’s go.
To give you
To give you a
To give you a taste
To give you a taste of
To give you a taste of your
To give you a taste of your own
To give you a taste of your own medicine x 5
That was a long one today, guys. I hope you did alright. So, now I’m going to use it in the future perfect tense. Okay? I will have got… You will have got… Okay? So, ‘will have’ + the past participle. And I want you to pay attention to how I’m pronouncing ‘will have’, okay? You’re going to notice that it gets contracted. Let’s go.
I’ll have got a taste of my own medicine
You’ll have got a taste of your own medicine
He’ll have got a taste of his own medicine
She’ll have got a taste of her own medicine
We’ll have got a taste of our own medicine
They’ll have got a taste of their own medicine
It’ll have got a taste of its own medicine
Good job, guys. Remember, if you would like to go through the detailed video that will break down this exercise and talk about all the different aspects of connected speech, of pronunciation, intonation, go to theAussieEnglishClassroom.com and enroll and you will get access to all of this episode’s content as well as all of the past expression episodes content and a bunch of other things too. TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com. Give it a go.
So, today’s Aussie fact. I decided to look up medical inventions from Australia. So, I thought, I know that there’s a few medical inventions that were created in Australia. So, I thought I would do a search, I’d list them, I’d mention them, and I would discuss each of them for you, guys. So, I’ve got six here. Okay.
And if you want to read a more in-depth article about these inventions and a couple of other ones that were also listed go to ScienceAlert.com. Okay. It’ll be in the transcript if you want the link to read this article. Okay. Let’s go.
So, number one: Medical application of penicillin. So, the Australian researcher Howard Florey worked with a team in the UK to purify penicillin from a special strain of mould. This is how it was originally done. And he later showed it could fight bacterial infection in humans. The antibiotic changed modern medicine forever, although obviously, we’re going to probably have problems in the near future because antibiotics are less and less effective these days.
Number Two: disease-diagnosing nano-patches. Disease-diagnosing nano-patches. This is still a relatively new invention, but these nano-patches have the potential to change the way we diagnose disease in the future. They were developed by researchers at the University of Queensland, and the patches are covered in tiny microscopic needles that can quickly and painlessly detect disease carrying proteins in the blood. How crazy’s that? And it means that you don’t need a blood test. So, because these patches have access to the human bloodstream, obviously, with those little needles, you don’t have to get blood tests. So, as someone who really hates blood tests, I’m looking forward to these becoming more predominantly used.
Number three: the bionic ear. I know! I didn’t realise this until I read this too. The bionic ear. One of our best-known exports is the cochlear implant. Both my grandparents have one of these. And the cochlear implant was created by Graeme Clark a researcher at the University of Melbourne. The device has helped more than 250,000 people with profound hearing loss to hear again. So, how crazy is that? The cochlear implant.
Number four: spray-on-skin. Now, I remember this one being in the news. Spray-on-skin has saved the lives of tens of thousands of burn victims around the world and was invented by a woman named Fiona Wood from the University of Western Australia. The invention works by taking a small patch of a patient’s skin, then growing it in the lab so that it can be sprayed back on to the person’s skin, where they’ve been burnt, over their wounds and create a protective barrier. Really cool!
So, number five: the ultrasound scanner. I didn’t realise this one was ours too. Every expectant mum around the world when they go to the hospital would be more than familiar with the ultrasound scanner, but what people might not know is that the initial discovery that ultrasounds could bounce off soft tissue was made by the CSIRO, and in 1976 it was commercialised by an Australian company called Ausonics.
Number six, the very last one, guys: electronic pacemakers. Another one that blew my mind. The first pacemaker was made impulsively back in 1926, at Sydney’s Crown Street Women’s Hospital to help save a newborn patient suffering from heart problems. The device was used to stimulate the baby’s heartbeat with electric pulses and was created by medical doctor Mark Lidwill, but he was so concerned about the ethical implications of his invention that he refused recognition and patents despite his inventions saving hundreds of thousands of lives around the world.
So, there you go, guys. I hope you enjoy this episode today. Thanks so much for spending the last 20 minutes listening to me. I do really, really appreciate you guys and I hope you have an amazing weekend. I’ll chat to you guys soon. Peace out!
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas:
Watch the interview video here:
AE 479 – Interview: How to Prepare for IELTs with Kit Perry
G’day, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
So, today, I have an interview episode with you all about IELTs, and we do mention the PTE and some of the other tests as well. But yeah, I thought I would get on my fiancée’s old English teacher from Townsville, Kit, and he is from the Townsville International English School, and Kel had been harassing me for a while to get him on the podcast and saying he was an amazing guy, a really good teacher, has a lot to say, a lot of knowledge about IELTs and some of these other exams as well. And so, I thought it would be awesome to get him on and just chat to him about how to prepare for the IELTs, what to expect, how to do well on the IELTs, and hopefully put a few of your concerns at ease.
Anyway, without any further ado, let’s just get into this interview today with Kit from the Townsville International English school.
G’day, guys! Welcome to this video! Welcome to this interview of Aussie English, today I have Kit from Townsville International English School with me and he is my fiancée’s old English teacher. So, Kit, welcome to the podcast! Thanks so much for coming on.
Thanks for having me.
So, I guess, first of all, how did Kel get so good in English? What was her secret?
Well, there’s a few different things, I guess, to answer that question that’s Kel herself and her propensity or ability to pick up the language, but yeah, hopefully, I think there was an element of the school and what we do up here in her success as well. So, I think yeah there’s a few things involved in that.
That’s what I’m always saying when I hear like, she told me when she got here she spoke no English, at least I have no idea, but she said she spoke none, very limited.
Very, very limited. I remember when she first came in, we’re doing our placement test and we happened to have tablet chairs in the classroom that she was doing a test and I remember asking her, just a simple question, are you left handed or right handed? And, you know, I was just met with this complete blank sort of expression and, you know, from that point it was sort of obvious okay, well, she’s going to be pretty low. So, and yeah, she tested at a beginner level when she started and we had her for…I don´t know how long it was, but by the end, by now, you know, she’s… yeah, she’s brilliant.
You know, she speaks very much like a native speaker, I would say, you know, her vocab is incredible and yes, I don´t know, I think Raquel is a bit of an exception in some ways, you know, like I think she’s naturally talented at languages which really helped a lot and she has a great memory. I always… always think that, you know, when I have students with a really good memory that goes such a long way in learning a language. So, that also helped, but yeah, hopefully, you know, we played a part in her progression and where she’s at now too.
Yeah, definitely. I just think it’s so good that you can see how much someone could attain in just two years, you know? If they work their ass off she will say she read 30 books in a year or something and was just constantly studying. So, it’s good to know that, you know, obviously talent is part of it, but hard work is a massive part of this as well.
I absolutely agree. And she was really a very hardworking student so she really sort of, you know, put her best foot forward in everything she did. She was always doing homework, always asking for extra stuff to do. So, yeah, definitely goes a long way I think, you know, the attitude and the mentality of wanting to improve is what was there with Raquel, so yeah, definitely.
Yeah, she´s a bit of a champ.
Less about her and more about you, Kit. How did you wind up doing what you’re doing where you’re doing it? Can you tell me the story of how you ended up in Townsville, teaching English in a school?
Absolutely, yeah. So, I spent most of my young years in Townsville, actually I grew up in Townsville. I was born in Papua New Guinea, but then came back and lived in Townsville with my parents, so I grew up here. Went to the university down in Brisbane and then landed a dream sort of job up here in Townsville at a local high school and did that for about five years and I loved it. I had a great job, I had lovely students, beautiful sort of facilities and a great place to teach. However, I sort of felt over that time that my… my personal idea of what a good education is was a little bit divergent to what was going on at the school, that the focus of the school was very much on students getting, you know, As and, you know, producing results that, you know, maybe look good on paper, but I think in reality doesn’t necessarily go with what I consider a good or an effective education. So, I sort of… in many ways I sort of thought okay, well, you know, if I can’t achieve what I want to achieve as an educator within that system, that we would branch out and start our own school. One of the things that’s sort of, you know, the final straw that broke the camel’s back was I had 18 classes that I taught as a middle teacher, so 18 separate classes of students. It was ridiculous and I sort of…I went to the principal actually the year before I left and I said listen, it´s just… is too many, you know, like I was capable of teaching that many students, but… and knowing individuals for that many students, but it was just too much.
But how can you connect too, I mean, you might be able to remember their name, but how much time can you give to them?
Absolutely, yeah, totally and that’s what it was, it was about sort of, you know, like yeah, I knew the students, but could I really connect? Could I really make a difference for them? No, it was too much and I said, you know, give me a couple less classes or one less class next year and I guarantee we can do more with these students, but I came back the next year and I think I had one extra class, so I said at the start of that year, you know, that’s enough, you know. It didn’t really match with my philosophy of education so my wife is also a teacher and so we basically had a discussion at the start of that year and said well, you know, if this is not…if it this doesn’t reflect who we are as educators, then let’s create a school that does. So yes we open TIES in about 10 years ago now and we’ve been going ever since and we’ve basically created everything from what we wanted to reflect as educators and what we thought was a great education. So, you know, we have small class sizes, with a maximum of 18 students, but typically we have between sort of maybe 12 or 14 students in the class. We had a lot of individualized focus within the class, a lot of attention directly with our students and you know, maybe going back to Raquel´s example, maybe that is one of the reasons why she for example improved so much is that we’re really able to make a difference in our students lives and in their… obviously, their English ability.
So, yeah, and everything we do here works from that philosophy and that core driving principle that we start the school with.
So, what kind of advice would you have for people thinking about getting into schools and working out whether a school is going to be good, whether it’s in general or just for them? Like, are there things, are there warning signs, are there things that they can find out about different schools or it’s just a crapshoot where you have to just hope?
I mean, at the end of the day, if you can talk to a teacher who has been in that particular school for a period of time and you can get honest feedback from them, I think that’s a good place to start, but it’s not always easy to do that. I think a lot of schools on the outside looking incredible and this particular school that I was at was incredible and beautiful school, beautiful facilities and everything, but I don’t think you can really get a sense of the true cultural, the underlying cultural, the education establishment until you’re actually teaching.
It´s a hard one.
Yeah, it’s a hard one, absolutely.
There’s kind of like an anecdote I know about… one of my friends are really into cars, he loves Ferraris and I remember he was with a friend looking for a Ferrari for him. He’s not rich, but the friend was and they test drove Shane Warne’s old Ferrari. Shane Warne’s a cricketer in Australia and it looked amazing and then they got in it and there were cigarette burns in the leather, it had been destroyed, but it was like they had no idea until they got in the car that it was a piece of junk.
So, it’s a bit like that, unfortunately, is it? That you sort of have to show up in and do it then you find out. So, what would you say, what are the key things that your school does or focuses on that enables students to sort of flourish?
Sure. So, one of our key principles is to understand the needs, interests and motivations of every student and then to use that within the classroom. You know, I always think if you can really sort of tailor your classroom to what your students need, what their interests are, what their motivations are, you can teach them anything and everything, you know, if you’re interested in cars and you’re teaching comparatives and superlatives, obviously some comparisons between different models or different aspects of a car. You gonna get that person’s attention and I think it’s it’s not something that’s, you know, you can’t really say there’s a generic way I guess of teaching a particular topic, but if you understand each individual student and their needs, interests and motivations I think you can teach them anything.
That’s so true, I think Like, thinking back to high school with teachers that I really admired and enjoyed learning from with those who connect with me on a personal level, as opposed to just this is how I teach and the students need to adjust to my methods.
And so, Townsville, how do you get students in Townsville? Like I would have…before meeting Raquel, I would have thought no one’s going to Townsville, it’s so far north in Queensland what are the reasons for people to, obviously, go to Townsville and to think about it as a location to get work or to learn English? What are the benefits of going to Townsville?
Absolutely. I mean it’s a hard one because we aren´t really well known internationally, but I think in many ways it’s a benefit for our students. If you compare the cost of living for example amongst largest cities in Australia like Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne. The cost of living in Townsville is significantly cheaper. So, I think that’s a huge advantage. We’re sort of big enough that we have a variety of different industries where students can work, yet we don’t have the high-level competition that some of the big cities have as well so there’s a lot of jobs. The biggest hurdle for us I guess is the fact that we’re relatively unknown globally. Like, you sort of talk to anyone from overseas about Australia they´l mentioned Sydney, of course, and Melbourne, Brisbane, Cairn and other centres, but not a lot of them now about Townsville so, a lot of our students come from word of mouth. So, it’s students that have recommended friends or family members to come and study. We also work with education agents both in Australia and abroad who recommend us to students from overseas, but it’s probably the most difficult thing for us is the fact that Townsville is so unknown globaly.
Does it get easir to get to, though? Because it’s unknown and there are fewer people there. Is it easier for students to get visas or to get positions at schools and stuff like that there?
I mean, the visa regulations are the same regardless of where you´re located, in terms of the student visa.
Ah, ok, gotcha. Because I was thinking rural areas, but is that work related more?
Yeah, that´s more work related, but there are I mean, there’s a lot of students that are moved to Townsville, you know, to get points for visas and things like that, but no, for a student visa is exactly the same. Yeah, I guess it’s… we’re sort of like we talk about Townsville being a small city or a large country town, you know, so it’s sort of… it doesn’t match every student, like some students really want the nightlife of the big city, they want you know their huge shopping centres and things like that. And we don’t sort of offer that, you know, like we´re more for students that really want that sort of Australian experience and really immersive in the culture and serious about improving. I think Raquel is probably, you know, as a student is probably one of the best ones to sort of ask about that you know. What was her experience of living in a small…
She said It was the deep end of the pool, she got chucked in the deep end and was like ´´oh my God! All these people speak with the strongest accent!´ Sink or swim, you either learn that accent… And now her listening comprehension is off the charts.
It is, totally. I think there´s a lot more opportunities in a regional or more rural, although I wouldn’t say rural, but a regional area like Townsville. There’s more opportunities to get to know the locals, to you know, to have that one on one with people and connect with the local community which you do get in a big city, don’t get me wrong, but I just think that there’s more opportunities for it in a small place.
And so, I guess moving on to the different kinds of exams and things that you’re preparing students for. Can you talk about which ones exist and the pros and cons of doing each one? Which are the ones that your students focus on mainly?
Yes, so our main focus is IELTS, IELTS preparation. We have an IELTS testing centre in Townsville. We don’t actually have a PTE test centre at the moment so, students if they choose PTE have to travel to Brisbane or Sydney, which adds a bit of an expense to it. But yeah that’s the other option so, so you go out and you go PTE, then you’ve got a few other tests that are more sort of job related like you have OET, The Occupational English Test for Nurses and Doctors and Health Care Professionals, and obviously you know TOEFL and TOEIC and all the rest of them, but yeah, our main focus is on IELTS preparation, specifically, but in terms of the two big comparables ones it would be PTE and IELTS.
What are the benefits? What´s are the reasons you would pick one over the other?
Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, they´re both a test of the student’s English language ability. So, you know, like a lot of students come to me and say ´which one is easier, Kit?´ ´Which one should I shouldn’t choose to do?´ and to be honest you know it’s in my opinion it’s much of a muchness. You know, like, there might be slight benefits for some students to do PTE, for example, if they´re good at keyboards and good at typing and they writing isn’t very good. Yeah that’s definitely going to be a slight advantage PTE. However, in saying that, you know, like I think that the advantage is so small that it’s… I wouldn’t even worry about it, you know what I mean? So, at the end the day for me it’s not about necessarily which test is easier, but about preparing your general English ability, your language ability to pass the test, if you know what I mean.
That’s it and I think it was one of those things that I didn’t… I hadn’t really had that much experience with understanding how it exactly worked, either the PTE or the IELTS, but you actually need to be studying not just English, but the specific exams, right? So that’s a key thing that a lot of English learning students don’t realise when they’re trying to prepare for these exams, they better realise that learning English is one part, right? But you need to also be focusing on what do I need to be able to do in this exam to get a good score.
Absolutely, an obvious difference between the two, with IELTS being paper based and PTE being computer based. However, in saying that, IELTS also does have computer-based versions I think in Melbourne and Sydney and perhaps Brisbane, I’m not 100% sure, but there is a computer based version as well. I guess another benefit of PTE is the time that it takes to get the results of its and then arts and things like that. But I mean at the end of the day they´re both a test of your English language ability.
So, you know, I think or is an option if you both too.
Do you know the rough prices for each of them and how long’s…
They are about the same.
They´re about the same?
Yeah, exactly, in terms of price. I mean, in some areas IELTS is more expensive if it’s administered other location that isn’t the principal location, but generally speaking they´re both 330-ish dollars. So, yeah, no real difference in price point, just the fact that PTE the results come out quicker than IELTS, although I think IELTS is probably gonna up their game and change that soon with having a computer-based version as well. What else? PTE you can choose different times to do the test and there´s more frequent tests. Yeah. I mean, they’re pretty much, apart from that, they’re both a test of, you know, reading, writing listening and speaking, your vocab needs to be really good. I would say both are much of a muchness in my opinion.
Oh, brilliant, so what different kinds of exams for ILETS exist and what are the benefits or what are the reasons that you would do one over the other?
Sure, you’ve got the General at the Academic module. The Academic module is primarily used for gaining entry to to TAFE, like, vocational education or universities or for recognition to work in particular jobs like as a teacher, for example, you have to do an Academic IELTS test for teaching registrational, as a nurse or a doctor or another health care professional, that’s where Academic is the one that you need to do. The general module is more commonly used for migration purposes, to prove the level of English that a person has and to get different points at different levels within the nine band score for IELTS.
Having said that, it’s interesting, I find some students actually get higher schools in the Academic module than they do in the General module. So, in some ways it’s actually benefit to some students to do the academic for PR, for residency purposes, just depending on the student, you know? Like if I have… let’s say for example someone that has studied at university in Australia, they’ve done Accounting or whatever it is. I often would recommend to them to the Academic version because of the different scale for reading, in particular, it’s a lot easier easier in a sense or you can make more mistakes to get a higher score in the Academic than the General.
How do they differ exactly? Is it a different kinds of language? I mean, obviously, it’s academic language, but I mean, how foreign is that from the General one if you’re just saying learning English generally? Are you going to be able to do the Academic one if you wanted or you would need to sort of have some kind of experience in academic English at university or something?
Yep, sure, absolutely. So, I mean, I guess, at the end of the day, it’s like when I look at a student and if they have the option of doing the Academic or General, is about sort of identifying that student’s past experience in English and then which one is going to better suit them and what they need to do. So, yeah, so if I have a student that studied at university level in Australia, for example, then I often recommend to them to do the academic version of the test, just because I often find that they get a higher score, actually, than the general. So, yeah, I guess it depends on the students in a sort of case by case basis.
Brilliant. And so how are the exams scored? And what are the kinds of scores and what do they mean? I guess, what’s the minimum to say be able to do whatever it is that you need to do in Australia, whether it’s studying or residency or whatever?
Sure. So, it’s got an nine sort of band scale. 9.0 being the equivalent of a native speaker and then each level going down has a different sort of a descriptor as to the language ability of the student. Different levels are applied to different things so, if you have, you know, for example as a teacher, if someone comes from abroad who wants to teach in Australia. In most cases, they need an 8.0 in each. So, out of the listening, reading. writing and speaking they´ll need a 8.0 minimum in each, which is really quite a high level, to get a teacher registration.
I was wonderful and school that if I just went in blind and did the test.
I´m sure you would. I have had a few cases over the years where I had native speakers actually come to me because of they´d failed the test, but in most cases it´s just because they didn’t really understand the format or what was being asked of the test, rather than their ability.
Which emphasizes the importance in studying how to actually complete the exam, right?
Absolutely, 100 percent. It sort of…I guess, it’s a trick one. Most of my students when they get with doing IELTS preparation they want to know straightaway. What are the tips? what are the tricks? what are the techniques? And that’s important, don’t get me wrong.
You know, like, it’s… it’s quite a specific test and written in a particular way and actually there’s a benefit to that, in my opinion because if you understand the test, you can answer the questions much more effectively. However, in saying that, if a student doesn’t have the general English language level or ability right, you know, I can talk about tips and tricks and techniques until I’m blue in the face it’s not going to make any difference.
You need that ability to be able to improvise, right, on the spot. You’re not necessarily going to get the exact questions you’ve been studying, but you need to be able to know ´okay, how do I respond to this? What´s needed?´.
100 percent. Going back to the different levels required for different things, for nurses, for example, in Australia they have to do, if they do the IELTS test for their registration, they have to do the Academic modules and they have to get a 7.0 in each band, with nothing lower than a 7. Some courses at university ask for six overall. Some ask for six point five. Some ask for seven. Just depends on the university in the particular course, but for any of those examples it has to be an a. Academic test. For…More for migration purposes, students have the choice of General or Academic and the level that students get helps them in different points with applying for residency. So, you know if they can score higher, for example, or Academic they often say well, you know. you’re crazy not to do it, you know what I mean?
The good thing with Academic that it obviously applies… it covers what General covers and more.
It does, to some extent. Yeah, I mean, the only sort of issue I get sometimes with IELTS is that the results are only balanced valid for two years. So, you sort of yeah… you have to sort of think about timeframes and, you know… like I’ve got a student at the moment for example who has recently passed to get into university to study nursing and she got a 7.0 in each in a couple os higher results, which was high enough for her to get into university, but because it´s only valid two years, unfortunately, at the end, to get her qualifications recognised and her registration as a nurse, she will have to do the test again, which is a bit frustrating…
I can understand aside from obviously wanting more people to do the test more often to get money, I can imagine like… if you were to do the IELTS and then straight away leave and not speak English for two years, I can imagine that your English can deteriorate as my my French has, for example, since not speaking it for the last two or so years.
But it’s yeah, it’s frustrating as well for a lot of students, you know, that they have to do it again if they need it for registration purposes and something.
Far out! So, what would you say is the best way to prepare for IELTS? Is it that you definitely need to go to school? Is it that you don’t need a school? Like, if you were to give advice to someone who has obviously organised getting a visa and coming to Australia to study, you know, whatever it is, what’s the best way to go about studying for IELTS?
Sure absolutely. So, it’s a tricky one. I mean, I think you know most people can attain a certain level of language ability on their own, you know in isolation. But I think when you sort of… you’re talking about reaching that next level like a lot of students improve really quickly from the beginner to an intermediate level of language ability, but then they reach that plateau and they get really stuck there. I think any sort of preparation for any tests like IELTS sort of… in the same way as, you know, a student reaching a plateau, they need to have someone that’s looking at their level of English, the good things their are doing or the mistakes they´re making, a coach, trainer, someone that can look at them and say well, yeah, you do this great, but you know, if you want to attain that next level, you need to focus on your articles or you need to focus on your pronunciation of this particular sound. I think in isolation it’s really difficult for most students to attain a starting a 7.0, for example, or higher. It’s not impossible. You know, like there’s a lot of self-study material out there, but I really do feel like you need that feedback and that continual feedback.
Pushing you and giving you, as you said, feedback on the things you screwing up which you can’t necessarily get yourself, you know?
Absolutely. Having someone that knows the tests and is able to sort of identify your weaknesses and what you need to work on and them to give you continuous feedback to reach that next level. I think that’s really really important.
You know, there’s obviously face to face classes, there´s online providers, there’s lots of different options, but I think as long as you have someone, you know, a coach, a mentor, a teacher, someone giving you that feedback that’s really, really important.
And so, how long does it normally take people to prepare for the exam? You know, for say, someone like Raquel who had zero experience, it obviously took a year or two and can you compare her to say someone who does have say an intermediate level before they arrive in Australia and what each person would need to do to apply for or get a good score on IELTS?
Yeah, it’s a hard question to answer. You know, it’s sort of like the “how long is the piece of string?”, but, you know, because it all comes down to individual aptitude and how much they apply themselves and a lot of different factors, and also it comes down to the level, you know, like once you’re talking about like a 7.0 or an 8.0 and those higher levels, the differences between them and the subtleties of the language and getting students to reach the level takes a lot more work. You know, it’s almost like that last 10 percent takes 90 percent of the effort. So, it depends on the level of the student when they start, I guess, and how high they want to get. And obviously the aptitude and the attitude and all those sorts of things as well.
But, generally speaking, you know, we get lots of students that perhaps come in at an intermediate level and maybe need to get a 7.0, for example, in most cases I would sort of recommend one or two terms to get to that level.
How long’s a term? 6 months?
So, for us, it’s 11 weeks. Yeah, four eleven-week terms during the year. Generally speaking probably yeah, one to two terms to get to that level, but it depends on the student. I mean, you know, I’ve had some that you know have done brilliantly like I had a French student last year who, before starting with us did an IELTs testing on the 6.0 overall, studied with us for six months and by the end of the year, the six months, she got like an 8.0 overall with a couple of 8.5 and 7.5 so that’s a really, really high number. So that’s not uncommon too, I actually. How do you go from Colombia who recently did the test and again, passed it at 8.0 overall. So, I mean, those higher levels are harder to get too because of the subtleties and complexities of getting there, but generally speaking one turn most students got by one level. So, if I have a student that starts at 5.0 at the start of the term, generally speaking, they should be up to a 6.0 by the end of the, but it depends on every student, some are quicker, some are slower.
So, what’s normally the most difficult part to for people? I’ve heard that writing and speaking tend to be the most difficult parts, where you’ve got to produce, you’re not reading and you’re not listening. Is that true?
Yes and No. I think it depends on the individual so much and it depends on, you know, to some exten the first language, the country, the culture and so many different things. I might find, for example, maybe an Italian student my struggle with the reading part, whereas a brazilian student might struggle with the writing. I think it depends too much on the individual. You know, I think that there is definitely within IELTS there is a level that a lot of students get stuck at an academic which is 6.5, you know, you get a lot of students that are achieving 7s or higher in speaking and reading and listening, but that writing of the 6.5, they really get stuck on there.
That’s the story that I’ve heard of the writing constantly bringing the overall score down and that’s what´s screwing them over.
Absolutely and yeah that 7.5 Academic is a real sort of gateway mark for a lot of different things so, but in saying that, you know, like I think if you have a teacher who is very familiar with the writing criteria and how it’s marked and they needed very specific feedback on your task response, on your grammar, on your coherence and cohesion, on your spelling, your vocab, for example, and they say to you, well, based on you task response this is bringing you down to a 6.5, based on maybe you’re making the same grammatical errors too many times or whatever it is, I think, if you have that direct feedback and you can identify those mistakes, then it’s not really that hard, it’s just that you need someone to give that feedback and I think a lot of students miss that, unfortunately, and I think if you’re studying in a really large classroom, it’s really difficult for a teacher to provide that as well. I think having that sort of individualised, one on one sort of attention within a smaller class or small school, for me, anyway, I think that makes the biggest difference. You know, like, yeah, I think that what makes the difference.
Awesome, man. So, say you’re preparing for an exam. What if instead of asking you for, you know, the tricks and tips, what are the things that people who fail do too much of? What is the kind of person or what are the kinds of habits or things that someone who is going to not score very high, even if they have the ability, what are the kinds of things that they’re doing with regards to say study outside of class and then when they in the exam themselves? Are there any things that you would say look that’s a no-no, you need to not do that, we need to avoid this?
You know, I mean I think again it comes back to the individual and being able to identify with that student and help them to sort of understand where they’re making their mistakes and I don’t know if I can generalize about that, if you know what I mean, like it´s just… it really depends on each individual. But I mean as long as a student has an awareness of where they’re making mistakes and why they’re not achieving a particular level that they need and they’re given constructive feedback as to how to fix that, and you know that continual process I think at the end of the day that’s the most important thing.
Is there a trick to fostering that? Because I always get questions about building confidence and how do I speak English more confidently? It feels like quite often the answer is just do it, which isn’t necessarily a very productive and actionable piece of advice, but is it just a case of you just need to start trying and it’s only going to get easier with regards to building confidence for these exams or for just speaking in general?
I think building confidence is, again, comes down to the individual. I think there are some… nationalities I can say that are naturally or genuinely quite confident.
Yeah. Having said that, you know, not all Brazilians are out there and are extroverts, you know, like the stereotype, you know. So, I think it’s easy sometimes a little bit to stereotype in that way. But yeah I if I generalize there are some nationalities that I teach that are naturally more extrovert and I think that does help them in some ways to pick up language quicker. However, in other ways I think it’s also a burden to their language learning ability because quite often that confidence, unfortunately, can equate also with continually making the same mistakes and not really working on it and focusing on it. I always think if I could take you know maybe a South American brain and an Asian brain and put them together, you’d have the perfect language learner, but unfortunately we’re not like that and that’s not necessarily a bad thing too, you know, like we all bring our own you know baggage if you like to learning a second language.
And I think that if you if you’re able to identify those areas of your language and your language learning ability and then you work on the ones you weak at, then you you’re going to improve in the end. So, yeah. So, if you have a student who is typically you know maybe more shy than other students, I guess, for me it’s about building that confidence within the classroom. It’s about you know, as a teacher, for example, if I have a… you know, like when I ask students questions I try as much as I attempt to ask a question that I know they’re capable of answering. You know, like, I don’t put a student on the spot and make nervous about not knowing it. So, I guess, a lot of it comes down to your…the student experience of learning languages as well, I think you’re a great teacher can make an amazing difference for students, but then I think as well, unfortunately, a poor teacher can also have the opposite effect. So, yeah, if I have a student that’s a little bit more introvert and nervous about the language then, for me, it’s about identifying, like I said start, like their needs, interests and motivations. So, if I find that they’re particularly interested in sport or music or some particular topic and I use that in a classroom that’s immediately going to start building that confidence I think of them and being able to use the language. So, yeah, I guess once again it comes back to the individual and I guess as a teacher being able to understand that person and incorporate as much of them into the classroom as you possibly can.
What advice would you have for someone on…well, if you have any advice left over for doing well in the IELTS, but also just doing well with regards to their experience learning English in Australia are there any things that you would suggest students try and focus on or keep in mind when they come to Australia and study English or think about doing the IELTS?
Absolutely. I mean, apart from coming to Townsville to study English at Townsville International English School.
Sneaky plug there.
Honestly, I think do your research, you know, find a school that sort of matches or find a location in the school that matches what you want to get out of the experience. I guess take an interest as well. You know, I find students that that take an interest in the learning process do a lot better than those students that, you know, are a little bit disinterested. So, it’s a two-way street, like I think teachers can do a lot to help that, but I also think, you know, at the end of the day it’s about that student’s attitude towards learning as well. I mean for Raquel, for example, that’s one thing that is really in her favour. You know, she… I think very much had a thirst for knowledge and a passion for learning the language and I think that shows in how quickly and how effectively she picked up the language. So, yeah, I guess advice to people probably yeah, do you research before you come, try to choose a place that matches your own what you want to get out of the experience.
And then once you actually arrive and get in the classroom, try dissidents immerse yourself, you know, like when the school does outings or excursions get involved with it, when they do offer conversation classes in the afternoons or whatever, get involved in it, and try to take an interest in everything, you know, ask questions. I think that goes a long way.
Awesome! Well, Kit, thank you so much! Again, Kit is from Townsville International English School, guys! I think Kel would say definitely go to Townsville if you´re thinking about coming to Australia and you haven’t pick the city yet so, thanks again so much for joining me, Kit.
It’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me.
All right, guys. So, I hope you enjoyed that episode today. Thanks again Kit from the Townsville International English School for coming on the podcast and sharing all of your knowledge about the IELTs exam.
Guys, I hope this helps. I hope that if you are planning to do the IELTs exam in the future or if you’ve done it in the past and may need to do it again sometime soon, I hope that this episode helps. I would love to know what you think. So, make sure you leave a comment below on the website and I will check you guys soon.
Catch you, guys.
Watch Aussie English Interviews Here!
Enjoying this episode?
Learn English even faster in the Aussie English Classroom!
In this interview episode of Aussie English I interview English teacher Justin Hammond about his new course and how to become an advanced English speaker.
Watch the interview below!
AE 475 – Interview: How to Become an Advanced English Speaker with Justin Hammond
G’day, guys, and welcome to this interview episode of the Aussie English Podcast.
I’m actually really pumped to be bringing you this one, because I had a lot of fun chatting with Justin Hammond today. He is the special guest on today’s podcast. Now, Justin, I… he’s been on my radar for a while. He has a really interesting story where he ended up over in Russia, learnt Russian, and now has this hugely successful YouTube channel teaching Russians English or commentating on Russian culture from the perspective of an outsider, of someone from Canada.
So, Justin got in contact with me recently because he had put together a course, and initially he wanted me to do a promotion on the podcast, and I told him I’m not really fond of doing ads, of the idea of doing ads, on the podcast, that’s why you’ve never heard I talk here or any of those other companies on here, but I would love to check out the course that you’ve done, and then I would actually prefer to interview you on the podcast to hear about your stories so that listeners can learn English, they can hear about you firsthand, get to know you, and then hear straight from the horse’s mouth what your course is like, what’s it about, and who it’s going to help.
So, Justin sent me the course and let me look at it for about a week, and I have to be honest I loved it. He has set up an amazing course that is very in line with how I like to teach English, where it’s not as focused on grammar points and just rote memory of parts of English, but more… so more really cool aspects like culturally-specific language that’s used or culturally-specific grammar or speaking-specific grammar that is used.
So, his course is really good. We’re going to get into that in this interview, guys, but I wanted to give you a 100% transparency, I wanted to let you know what’s going on, that I did get Justin on here to talk about this course, because I endorse it and I will be receiving compensation as a result. Okay? So, for the sake of transparency, I wanted you to know that, and it’s going to obviously help Aussie English keep moving, keep doing what it’s doing.
And also, Justin is wanting to get me to put together a section for this cause specifically targeting Australian English. So, I’m looking forward to that. Anyway, guys.
Without any further ado, I bring your English teacher Justin Hammond. Let’s go.
Today’s episode is brought to you by the NATIVE ENGLISH course:
Save 15% with the coupon:
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today, I have Justin who is an English teacher currently in Ukraine, speaks fluent Russian, and is sort of polishing up your Ukrainian, would you say, or are you sort of just…you’re there, but you’re trying to sort of fend off Ukrainian from Russian destroying your Russian?
I´m definitely fending off the Ukrainian a little bit, especially with speaking Russian I find it kind of chips away a little bit of Russian, confusing me with certain words, is that Russian? Is that Ukrainian? Or whatnot, but yeah, I know, it’s been incredible here, just to see the similarities between Ukraine and Russia, but also the differences at the same time.
Which part are you in? Kiev, right?
Yeah I´m in Kiev, in the capital. I´m here for a few months. It’s interesting because it is, it like the same infrastructure as Russia, but the mentality that I´m seeing seems to be a little bit more westernised. So, it´s interesting the see the difference.
And so, I mean, I would just love to hear about your story, that was part of getting you on today was to hear about how you ended up learning a foreign language such as Russian, teaching English and then a course that you’ve put together which is awesome called Native English, which we’ll get to at the end, but how did you get to here in a nutshell Justin?
Yeah, so essentially what happened was in university, because I’m originally from Canada, and French is our second language, and when I went to study in our capital Ottawa everybody there spoke at least French, usually, as a second language, and then a lot of people also spoke a third language. And so, me growing up in, you know, the western part of Canada, not the French part. We didn’t really enjoy, you know, learning French so I only spoke English and you get there and you kind of feel like a little bit of an outsider, when you only knew one language. So, in university I knew that I wanted to learn a second language. And I did know French from school or whatnot, and I’m not too bad, but at the end of the day you get people who will do a major and then they minor in like psychology. What does that get you, you know, minor in psychology? So, I wanted to do a minor in a language and I started in Chinese, actually.
Geez, straight to hard mode, dude, geez!
Straight into Chinese, which surprisingly turned out to be…it´s probably one of her easier languages to learn from a speaking standpoint, standing standpoint. It’s the reading and the writing that makes it so hard. To the reading the writing because there’s no system to memorize. You know, you have to memorize everything.
Yeah. I did that for three or four years at high school and I remember that was the nightmare, I was like What do you mean? You just have to look up the base character within a character and then sort of hope you can find it in a dictionary and I was like this is so hard!!
Yeah. You know, just 20 strokes like for a word or something. That was my big thing was, you know, grammatically it was quite simple, right? If you studied it you know, you put anything in the last tense, with one word, right? I enjoyed it, but I think that I couldn’t really see myself living in China for two to three years, which is something that I felt was totally necessary for learning a new language or just learning in the classroom but actually going there and living there. So, I was honestly just googling talk more spoken languages in the world because I wanted something useful. Switched to Spanish for a week and realized that when you learn Spanish in the West and in university is you want 150 people in an auditorium at least until you get to the upper levels, right?
Was that the most common one taught there as well?
Probably after French yeah. French was big, and German was pretty big, actually. And so I knew that wasn’t the way to learn a language. And so after that I switched in the Russian kind of looking at, you know, the most thought and language again it kind of goes English and Spanish in terms of… so Spanish including like…and Chinese obviously native speakers or whatnot, but when you´re including your native language plus your second language is English. So Russian kind of falls in around fourth or third, depending on the source you look at, when you throw in the Indian languages and dialects as well, but I wasn’t as interested in those, so Russian came into play. And honestly I’ve heard so much about living in China, where everybody sees you as a foreigner, right? All the time they want to talk to you, take pictures with you, and I feel like that could be fun for a little while, but I think you to, you know, be able to live a normal life.
Yeah. You start feeling like Madonna every day that you leave the house if you like oh, man, I can´t handle it!
That’s exactly the way it happened. So, for me, it was like, hey, you know in Russia… I can fit in.
Just don’t say anything!
And for two years, you know, I lived there and honestly almost nobody knew that I wasn’t Russian. Some people can kind of tell from your face when they really look at you. When you’re just walking down the street, you dress like a local or you, know you, go in any do whatever you want. And it wasn’t until I started speaking that people would kind of notice and so, you know, that and then I think the other bigger thing with respect to languages was I heard how in say France, for example, my roommate was from France and he is talking about how another guy in our dorm who grew up 30 minutes from him, but had a different dialect. And I didn’t like that idea of these different dialects, whereas with Russia I’ve travelled the entire country. West Coast, East Coast they speak the same. With the exception of the odd word that’s different dialect… no difference in accent to me whatsoever.
Really? Is that homogenous? Wow!
It is. There are regional little kind of languages that come from the other nationalities and ethnicities there are there, but Russian by and large it’s the exact same across the board. It’s not like this Egyptian Arabic vs Syrian Arabic, right? Where people are like, oh, you learned Egyptian or you learned high German and low German. You know, it’s a very standard and flush across the border. And then of course the other reason was it got beaches in the south and mountains for snowboarding in the north.
It ticked all the boxes!
Yeah. So just going to hit all those boxes and then of course the intrigue factor, you know.
Yeah, exactly. And what was the process like of learning Russian though and what was your Russian like before you moved to the immersion? Did you have a very good level or did you just sort of jump in the deep end?
So, I’d done one year in university so, your eight months, twice a week which was nothing. My first night got lost and then two younger guys stopped them on the street probably 19, 20 years old and just didn’t speak a word of English and I barely spoke Russian so I had to call my friend that was going to see and then put her on the phone and she translated everything. But yeah, I was surprised, I think, especially having known some Germans and people from other Norwegian countries or whatnot. You kind of expect well you have this idea that you know you meet someone who is 17, 18, 19 years old that they´ll speak English to you. Whereas in Russia that’s probably one of the biggest things the young people don’t. And if they’re up until they leave school around 17 they have to learn English up until that point, it’s interesting if they’re 15, 16, 17 years old they probably can have a little bit of a conversation with you, but if you’re 18, 19 or 20 and didn’t continue to learn English after they left high school, they can´t. But if they’re at least 20, 21, 22 it´s cause they’re interested in it and they continue to study it.
It is such a funny thing, isn’t it? Because it is that… it’s a very Western at least English-speaking country kind of arrogance of ´´oh every foreign to speak some English so, wherever I go in the world I will be able to communicate with everyone because everyone learns my language´´ whereas… I kinda of imagine and it is something you’re assume, but once you start learning languages I think you sort of get a bit of a wakeup call to that and it not necessarily being the case, but I can’t imagine yeah what it’s like being someone who speaks this language that’s only spoken by a small group of people and having to travel like I’ve had my fiancée came to Australia before she spoke any English and I was just like… I can’t imagine putting myself in that situation where I was going some way to live and the people that I would be around would definitely not speak say Portuguese and I would have to learn their language, whereas with English obviously you have no matter where you go in the world you can pretty much say in any village who speaks English here? And someone will put their hand up a bit like I can say a few things and I’ll be able to like, you know, translate with a few gestures, chucked in.
And that’s just there, right? I tell people all the time and I certainly tell myself I almost wish that English wasn’t my first language. Because the only benefit, the only benefit to speaking English as a first language does if you want to teach English and even then it’s had that barrier, that gap is going down to, right?. If you grew up in your first language is Portuguese, it’s Finnish or whatever it is, depending on the country you’re in, you going to grow up speaking English and learning English anyways. Obviously, as much in certain countries, but the resources especially there for someone learning English versus someone learning Finnish are Russian, you know, if you want to learn English you’ve got every resource available. So at the end of the day, it’s way more beneficial for you to have that whatever that foreigner native language for you as your first language because then you’re always going to speak fluently, whereas I never going to be like a perfect 100% Russian speaker so, I’d rather have had Russian as my first language and then learnt English really, really well like so many of my Russian friends have and then had that kind of as, you know, your advantage. So, there’s always that aspect.
I always get massive language envy with regards to people learning English because I know whatever language you speak, when you come in to the English-speaking realm, there is so many resources out there that you will drown in it, right? Whereas for me wanting to learn Portuguese, even though there’s like something like 200, 300 million speakers in the world, no one learns that language. They all learn Spanish or they all in English and that’s how they communicate. And so, there’s just nothing. I mean, when you get in there too there is a lot of music and culture like that but I guess I just get that envy of people when they start learning English it’s like okay, every single big film in the world is pretty much going to be in English and you now have access to all this stuff. So, I found myself when I was learning Portuguese and I started just getting Game of Thrones putting the dubs on in Portuguese and then using Portuguese subtitles. I was just like sweet, I´m set.
How is it like for you leaning Portuguese? It´s good, it´s been really… I feel like I’m lazy though, because it’s so close to English, say compared to Russian or Chinese or any of these other languages where it doesn’t feel as big of a jump and I can kind of cheat quite often. Where you get a sense of words that are Latin based or especially I speak French as well and so it’s just any time I don’t know where I can pretty much take a guess at two different words or whatever that I know in English or French and I if I put a Portuguese accent on and it pretty much works.
Did you find that working with Russian at all with regard to learning vocab and grammar? Was it a big jump compared to learning say French or Spanish?
It is a huge jump. Now the interesting thing about Russian is for a certain period of time the entire nobility spoke French. So, there are lot of words in Russian that are taken from French are the same in French, which is quite interesting, I never thought about. But it was the whole, I guess let´s say, different alphabet, you know, using Cyrillic instead of English. That’s the part that intrigued me so much was I did kind of feel like even reading you know Spanish subtitles I don’t know Spanish. You could still get 10 percent of the words kind of mean they like the idea of being like normal learning Russian. It’s totally different. You know, this is me decrypting this entirely different language. Was interesting, I was in Portugal two three years ago on and phone from Russia to Portugal and you probably will notice it not knowing Russian, but I noticed at the time that it in Portugal it sounded so often to me like people were speaking Russian.
That´s what I always say about the Portuguese accent!
I just met an American so, nobody else agreed with me, in Portugal they were like ´´no no no´´ and anybody else there, you know. Even the Russians they´re like ´´no it sounds nothing like´´, but I just met an American guy day here in Ukraine and he’s Portuguese, he was saying, oh so he’s Brazilian, but he was saying ‘Absolutely! I thought that too´´. And he was just as surprised that I said it and I was like thank you someone’ll finally agreed.
I just had that moment.
Exactly! Nobody else seems to think that´s a thing, but even just certain words like ´´obrigado´´ or whatever, to me it just sounds so Russian. I thought people were speaking, turned around…right. And then of course you get to say the more like wider looking Portuguese people, especially when I hear those and think oh maybe it is Russian, right? You’re looking at their face and they don’t look like a standard Portuguese. So that turned me off a bit in Portugal, but I loved it there.
And so what did you do exactly, once you got to Russia, how did you first you or your Russian and get from beginner level getting lost in the street having to communicate with a friend on the phone with some kids, to obviously now having a huge, huge, hugely successful YouTube channel where all the videos are in Russian or in English with Russian subtitles? What was the jump? How did you get from A to B there?
So the biggest thing for me was just that intensive study at the beginning. So and went there for the first year I was studying and six days a week, or five days a week, you know, a few hours a day in the classroom. And that’s what really helped build that I would even suggest vocabulary base, learning the grammar didn’t work as well in Russia because they couldn’t explain it to you in English. And so you often have a new kind of reference to grammar ask people about it, but even just from, you know, you’re constantly being in it, constantly being immersed and building up the vocab. That’s the big thing. And then when it comes to remembering the vocab, because you’re in Russia, I’m a firm believer in whatever you want to call, the rule 4, rule 5, rule 6 where you need to hear something or interact with it in some way 4, 5, or 6 times before it sinks in. So, I’d hear or learn the word in the classroom, than you would see it on and ad on a street sign, and then I would hear someone speak it and then still not get it, and then the second time again after that I heard someone speak it again and then it kind of sunk in.
That’s pretty much me with people’s names, I think.
When you´re just studying, right? You just hear it one day, you hear it again the next day while you’re studying, you know, and you’re not really getting that repetition. And so, the vocab doesn’t sink in as much.
And then the other thing is being around the language, it’s about mastering those conversational intricacies the way they´ll say something… like oh, you know how, right? There´s all those little subtle words…you know, ´´so as´´…
I remember that moment where I first started learning French and I was like ´´wait you don’t just translate every word in English into a French word and that’s how it works when you speak another language?´´ Isn’t it just lined up the exact same way but they are just different words? And then realizing oh crap, like you have to learn expressions, I had no idea until I started learning French was like What? Like in Portuguese you say: One spear´s throw, two rabbits, instead of, two birds, one stone. So that sort of stuff always blew my mind, that you would find these expressions that were the same but totally different.
Yeah, just the way they translator it. One trick that I’ve used a lot It depends on what you can benefit from it, but it’s always worked super well for me. So of course, you know there’s a difference between saying something 100 percent grammatically correct and saying something the way native speaker would say.
So for me what I found really worked well with Russian was, I had a friend, Nikita, who has always spoken English at a very intermediate level, he’s never gotten or never progressed so, he still…he speaks really well, he understands everything I say, but when he speaks to me he always speaks in a very Russian way. I can tell he’s transliterating from Russian.
So, then when I would speak Russian, I would think about what I want to say and what I would do if I didn’t know sort of the most Russian way to word it in Russian, I would think oh, how would Nikita say this? How did he say it in English?
To think about the structure.
Exactly. So, I would take what he said in English, which was wrong, and I would reverse translate what he said in English back into Russian and that would usually give me the right Russian way of saying it.
That´s so funny.
So, what I´d do is really like just try and spend a lot of time talking to him listening to how he would say things in English and he’d be talking to me in English and I’m taking mental notes on what he’s saying wrong. So I can then reverse translate them in the future back into Russian because that’s how I kind of learn the construction, which is I guess something similar that you would learn just from reading.
Once you take advantage of that intermediate level whereas when they get hard and kind of know the way to say it and it doesn’t really work anymore.
That’s happened with me and a few of my students who speak Portuguese and Spanish they tend to structure their sentences very differently. So, you’ll often hear them saying things like ´´probably I’ll go tomorrow´´ and you’ll be like that’s… it’s correct, but it’s just not what native speakers would say. They’ll always say I’ll probably go tomorrow.
And then you have to get into a whole lot. You don’t have to, but if you really want explain to them how it could be correct, you then have to open this massive can of worms about how do you not know what you are wanting to say, you might have started with probably, the probably… but then that becomes a whole emotional thing about what’s going on in your head at the time. A whole new can of worms.
That side of English I find is very difficult. I think probably with most languages, there you go, just used it, but I think with most languages you would learn them and you can communicate with lots of clunky grammar and misplacement placements and then it’s that final sort of step from intermediate to advance when you start using the structures that native speakers use that I like to really emphasize with students and on the podcast and everything. It’s like OK this might not be correct. Another one was like you have something a lot of the time you’re just say you got something or you’ve got something and it’s kind of like it’s not necessarily correct to say you got, you got 10 minutes to do this, you know, you have got 10 minutes to do this, but it happens and most people say that.
That’s why I have an entire lesson on using got in my course because, again, it comes down to… I’ve done videos on it as well, we’re kind of lazy, we’re kind of lazy in that sense. Rather than saying I arrived home at 8am, I bought a new car last week, I received a letter in the mail, we´ll say I got home at 8am, I got a new car last week or I got a letter in the mail. That’s going to work 95 percent of the time.
You know, you can replace the verb with GOT. The only reason why I might say bought a car instead of got a car would just be, you know, because explaining specifically the method in which I received it. You didn’t necessarily, like my friend didn’t give it to me, it wasn’t gifted to me, you know?
You’re trying to remove ambiguity, right? You´re trying to say okay this is how it arrived here, here how I got it. It’s not just this is the state, I have this thing, you want to know ok how did you get it?
It just gets lazier and lazier, to the point where I explain something to somebody and then you go ´did you get it?´.
Exactly, exactly, gotcha! Gotcha!
It just goes all the way down. So, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s not wrong by any means to say I arrived, I received or whatever, in fact I think it’s better, It sounds, you know, it’s much more rich.
And people understand, right? There is no or there is a lot less ambiguity if you use those kinds of verbs very specific. It’s like okay I’m not going to be confused about what you mean when you say that.
Yeah. I don’t think I’ve ever really said like I arrived home last night at 10. I would say I would use arrive for a much greater sense like I arrived in Russia for the first time.
Exactly, with flights, travel.
Flights and travel, but like for just I got home last night? Whereas in Russian you would use all the specific verbs. The original got, right? So, that’s one thing that, again speaking with Russians in English, I started to learn why they were speaking like that and then someone says I arrived home at eight o’clock and I go Why did you say arrived? Oh, because in Russian… Do we do that in English? Oh, no, we don’t. And then that’s how you kind of start to learn these cultural differences, I guess.
Exactly. Before we get too deep into that because we can talk about that at the end and I’d love to go through quite a bit of it. How did you end up teaching English? And how did you end up with a YouTube channel?
So, teaching English honestly with Russia extremely difficult to get there without a visa. Easiest way to get there is just to teach English because then you’ll have a school that will sponsor your visa. So I got, you know, got an English teaching. That’s really what that was all about. You know, it was a part of that was that oh I´m graduate university then go teach English for a year, like so many people do. It’s a way to get a job because you’re not going to get any other kind of job that’s not teaching English in Russia with a, you know, an insane amount experiencing going through red tape.
So, that was really just, again, it was a way to get me back in nothing more, unfortunately. But, once I started doing it, I realised the demand for it and the need for it so, especially in Russia where almost especially in their state schools or whatnot, there are no native speakers, it´s Russians teaching Russians, which is totally fine, but of course the result of that is the enormous stakes that one teacher has passed on or whatnot. That’s kind of the biggest thing that I noticed in Russia in kind of leading into my YouTube channel a little bit is people were coming and paying all the extra money to come to the school that I worked at a language center and to learn from me as a native speaker. Specifically, for you know the pronunciation aspect of things, the conversation practiced, for the interest just from a cultural standpoint. And I kind of found that, you know, I did have classes where I taught, you know, beginners and it felt so wasted. Because you’re paying all this extra money to study with the native speaker, when there are so many Russian teachers who are way better than English and I am. They´ve learned from their first days and all that stuff. So, they´re way better than you or I will ever be, and, you know, kudos to them because they’ve have learned it so well. I don’t remember learning present continuous when I was a kid, you know, that kind of thing.
It’s kind of a two bladed sword or two edged sword where you kind of like okay, I’ve mastered this language and I can speak it well, but I don’t know how it works.
And so, I’d have to go back and read it at least for me teaching English I was the same sort of position as you I finish university, it was like ok I´ll start doing this because there was a need for it and I just enjoyed helping people and I had no formal training and I just started learning and I was just like oh my god! Some of these rules, some of these reasons why we do things is so sort of like just abstract that we’d never thought that was why, it’s so funny how much you open a can of worms when you get in there and start looking at the grammar and you just like…
It’s very learnable and, again, thankfully because English is so popular there are so many amazing resources and even from a teaching perspective that you can draw upon to really help you with that. And I’m a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel. I don’t really like the idea of being able to know how to make this as understandable as possible? You kind of go at it that way and then with respect to the YouTube channel itself, there is kind of a two sort of goals with that connect in other things later but essentially one was I was in Russia and I would have all of these amazing conversations, I got to bar with somebody on the street in Russian and because I was doing that conversation in Russian they were so much more involved. They had so much more respect for me and the conversations that we had we’re just incredible. And then the next day, you know, you kind of forget what we talked about and I kind of wish that I had recorded, you know, on like an audio tape or something. And so, you know, how can share this later?
Today’s episode is brought to you by the NATIVE ENGLISH course:
Save 15% with the coupon:
I need more of this! I need to review it!
Exactly, and then I thought about doing a blog, but I couldn’t really add, you know, the same kind of emotion into it. So, that was kind of the main reason as I wanted to be able to share these conversations that I was having with people in Russia with the rest of Russians because I knew that if this Russian in front of me was enjoying the conversation and you know thought it was hilarious I would make this mistake or that mistake, that I everybody enjoy it as well.
And then the second reason was when I was teaching there was… I also worked with an American guy who didn’t speak any Russian and there were times during his class where his students would get up and leave walking to mine and ask me to explain something to them in Russian. Not out of disrespect or anything, but they were older adult students who just needed things explained to them in their native language and I completely understood that because I needed a lot of things he’s explained to me about Russian in English so, I can really understand that part of it. And at the end of the day I know lots of people tell, you know, immersion, immersion, immersion, but certain things you simply need to understand how they work and you need that 100% clear understanding of why. That could be, not always, but could be in your native language. So, that kind of led me to the two types of videos that I do. One these cultural videos, which is my thoughts on Russia, my thoughts on language people, everything like that, which kind of came from those conversations and on the streets that I was having with people. And then the other type of video that I do is teaching English to Russian speaker, but of course being different and doing it in Russian so that I can say hey, you know, see if I can put the biggest focused on, you know, the biggest advantage to doing that in Russian and speaking Russian specifically for Russian speakers is when they make a mistake, I usually understand why they’re making that mistake. So, I’ll get on my video and say alright, I will take a simple example, in English you say ´´what is that called?´´ In Russian you literally say ´´how’s that called?´´.
And so they´ll say, you know, how is it called when you do this? right. And then I’ll go back and say look I understand in Russian you’re literally saying (speaks Russian). It´s like what is this or how is this called, but in English we going to say it, but in Russian I’ll say the wrong way, but using the transliteration from English to be like remember it this way in her own language, even though it’s wrong for you it’ll be right once you translate it back for us. And so, I have had that advantage, you know, really gives that that bonus and then of course if you’re doing in their language they want to watch the guy who’s taking the time to learn their language so, they’ll watch me kind of thing.
I think you’ve nailed something. I think there’s a lot of channels doing that now where you notice native English speakers taking English in a foreign language. So, I think there’s another one called Small Advantages which is an American guy in Brazil and his channel has gone bonkers, but he is doing the same thing where he obviously speaks Portuguese at a very good level and he does all of those sort of cultural things. It’s awesome. So, what would your… what are the biggest hurdles that Russian speakers tend to have with learning English? What advice would you have for any Russians or I guess any English learners listening right now, what was the biggest piece of advice be when probably getting from intermediate to advanced?
I think that for me what I’ve noticed, you can have a very advanced level of English speaking or English speaking incredibly well, but you will always, always sound like a beginner if you don’t use articles properly. At the end of the day, and this is especially true for Russians because we have all this western media that shows this terrible Russian accent and criminals and mafia and if you listen to them these guys speak good English, but the only thing do is they drop the articles here. You know, it’s someone who is this mastermind criminal is having this fluent conversation, been in America for 20 years, but still doesn’t use articles, really? So, that’s how you put on that Russian scary sounding accent. You say I am boy, you know, you dropped the ‘are’. So, I think that part of that mentality plays into the effect of learn articles and you go from zero to 100 in a second. Even if your English isn’t very good, if you can use articles properly, you’ll sound so much better than that advanced student doesn’t use articles.
And when you say articles, you´re meaning A, AN and THE, right?
Yeah, A, AN and THE And or no article, of course, depending on plural and countability. That’s what I always ask myself, you know, seeing my friend today and she’ll speak English and I won’t tell her what to say, I´ll say What do we put before a noun? You know, you just said a noun, what do we put before a noun? And then, she backtracks. And so, it’s asking yourself those questions. Any time you see a noun, do I put something before? Yes or No? Countable or not? Yes or No, right?
That was such a big thing too, I’ve got a few students ones from Azerbaijan and the other ones from Russia and they both have obviously languages where they don’t use articles and so sort of mind opening when they when I first encountered that oh a language without articles because I’m used to French and Portuguese which have them ,and try to explain it and it is so funny when you sort of try and get into the nitty gritty of like why do we use them in certain places? But it was as soon as they made that change and they started using them correctly it was like… even though it was the most minute change that they had made, it made them sound like, you know, they had been learning for an extra year or two with regards to their advancement, just overnight.
100 percent. And then your next hurdle with articles is explaining to them why they’re important. Because a lot of Russians are don´t get… why do we need them? why can’t I just say I am boy? And in an instance like that you’re 100 percent right. You don’t need the article.
Exactly. People will understand, they´re not going to be confused.
I say they’re going to be confused but there are instances where you absolutely do need it. The difference is massive.
One of the things that I still can’t figure out no aspirations about as I found a book in a library in Ottawa is the Russian book and the name of the book in Russian was just Scientist and I’m kind of thinking, Well… is it ‘a scientist’ or ‘the scientist’? They’re totally different, right? In English, you have to have an article, therefore you would know whether or not it’s about like a famous scientist, like ‘the scientist’, someone important, or just for standard whatever, you know, no-name kind of guy, like ‘a scientist’. And they kind of, you know, never really explained to me which way they would interpret it. Well, you know, once you read it you´ll understand, and I go, I know, but…
I want to know before!
And the other instance that I’ve talked a lot about is for why it’s so important, is that, my friend with meeting me at the airport before I was leaving to Russia and she was giving me a suitcase to take with me. So, I was already there waiting for my flight. She was late coming in a taxi and so I texted her like, hey where are you? I have to go. And I realized that the car had pulled up or whatnot, but she’s saying… She texted me back saying, I’m talking to a taxi driver. A taxi driver. And I go, what are you doing talking to a taxi driver? Whereas, had she said I’m talking to the taxi driver, I would have understood that she meant the one who brought her and they´re probably discussing payment or where to go came or something like that, but when, she said, a taxi driver, it made me think she was just chatting with a random person.
Who happened to a taxi driver.
…who happened to be a taxi driver. And so, you know, instances like that, it becomes very important. So that’s why even in Russian I’m like how I wanted to see just a taxi driver, I don’t even know how I would have said that.
Because for me, not having the article I would have, in Russian, I would understand that as being specific, but without… what if I wanted to make it non-specific, what would I have even done. You know?
You have to go a different route, right, and explain things a bit different, and give a bit different context to get that message across.
You could say with another taxi driver, I could have said in Russian I probably wouldn’t make sense, but yeah. So that… those are my two kind of stories or, like, why the articles are so important, especially when Russians tell me that they don’t get it, they don’t understand why.
Brilliant. And so, I guess, this´s obviously led to you… you know, you started this YouTube channel, you´re sort of teaching English and now you’ve got of course Native English. What made you decide to create this and who is it targeted for?
Sure. So, my biggest goal with I see it in teaching English is two things: one, to make learning for a native speaker, or to make learning English in general as affordable as possible and as accessible as possible.
So, affordable as possible because, again, especially having taught in a country like Russia where there’s not nearly as much money, them paying, let’s say, 30 US dollars an hour, which would be kind of standard, 30 to 40 dollars an hour, for a private lesson might work for a few people in Moscow and St. Petersburg, but for the rest of the country, you know, that’s a day´s pay, if not two. Not everybody can afford that. So, I wanted to say well, if you do have an amazing instructor who costs this much, how come everybody shouldn’t be allowed to benefit from this knowledge? So how do you make that sort of learning as affordable as possible and that’s kind of how I came to the whole self-study online course, where you can take somebody’s knowledge and put it all in one place and then of course the price is lower and with that being in that format, online course, it then becomes accessible as possible to everybody. So, again, it’s not just the people living in that instructor’s city that should be able to benefit from it, should be the people in Siberia as well and the people in Egypt and the people in France that are learning English.
So, how do you take learning English from a native speaker or in general make it as, one affordable as possible, and two, as accessible as possible? So that’s how I came up with the idea of doing the online course, that format kind of satisfied both elements of that. The other reason why I’m with the course itself is focused on spoken English. And the reason for that is, as I was saying when I was teaching in Russia, students were coming to me for that conversation practice, for the pronunciation element, for hearing the way you structure your sentences all that kind of stuff.
So, if they wanted to learn grammar, I’m not going to try and go out there and make just course and be an expert on grammar if I´m not, right? I want to take that biggest advantage of being that native speaker and make that course surrounding that. So, that’s kind of how that came about. And then of course with it being that higher level the courses intended for students B1 and up.
Yeah I got that feeling, I was like man this feels like it’s targeted beautifully at intermediate to advanced, you know, getting them over that initial hurdle of you understand it, you can hear the English, you can, you know, pass it through your mind, you can communicate, but you now want to sort of polish everything up and get from intermediate to advanced.
Exactly. And that’s really where the focus is. I’ve been asked to do a lot to do beginner groups, but again that brings me back to okay, I’m to have a Russian instructor to do that. Explain that in your language, and the people I’ve talked to that have asked for that, they´ve also said they would like that in Russian. And again, that comes back to me not trying to be a master or something that I’m not. When there’s a Russian instructor out there who can explain it perfectly to them, knows the grammar better than I do or whatnot.
Like I said earlier, why reinvent the wheel and why give yourself something harder to do than someone else could do for less time, less energy?
Exactly. So, it’s been an interesting road and I like the idea of being able to constantly push updates into the course so, if I work on a student, work with them for six weeks or whatnot, but then a whole new element of what I’m teaching people now we’re only ever working on one on one they don’t get that. Whereas now when you purchase the online course, you have lifetime access to it all the future updates or anything else they come out, I’m on another bit update for it right now. Again, all those people, they can go back, they can review it, you know, especially if they want to review a certain medicine or something like that, but they also get that future access as well. So that’s really the big thing behind it. And in the sense of the way it’s growing or whatnot, you know, we were talking about even with the language dialects, or whatnot, I’d like to see you kind of growing you know big group of native English-speaking friends helping each other, helping students learn and kind of building that up and taking that information as accessible as possible. Because I think that, you know, you can spend a lot of time just kind of sitting in the Internet and finding things that are outdated.
It feels good too, right? You can get into that mode of being collector… obsessed. When you go out, you know, it happens to me I always say things I want online, books, whatever, I buy them, but I don’t actually use them especially if it’s free if you get them for free.
Quite often the biggest problem is that you don’t use it because you can pay money to… your hard-earned money for that thing and so you’re just as happy to not touch it again and forget about it. So, but I love… I was going through it and I really love how concise your lessons are. They tend to be between five… usually five to ten minutes long, sometimes 20 minutes long and the more advanced ones later on. That was really good just how dense it was. Can you talk about how you decided to structure it? Because I thought that was beautiful too.
So, the structuring elements for me I was really focusing on that one stop shop idea. You know, you come in and you get access to whether it’s reductions, it’s phrasal verbs, it’s idioms and expressions, but I wanted it to be more of a pragmatic or logical sort of sequence, so you kind of start off and you´ve got, hey, these are the strategies that you know, are going to work for you, but you also need to be keeping in mind while you go through the course, then you go through a whole bunch information, right? You can’t avoid that, right? Here´s what you need to know, right? So, this is where we are going through your idioms and expressions, your slang, and whatnot. The important part of that is these are the ones that we’re actually using in The West versus somebody who goes and goes, oh, why can´t I just go into Urban Dictionary and look up something? Well, open up urban dictionary, 95% of what is there, we don’t use.
It is very specific to a very few small amounts of people in one location in the west of the US.
So, when I tell people with Urban Dictionary for anyone that’s listening and has looked at it before is never go in and just browse through the terms there. However, it is a great resource if you hear something. So, if you hear someone say something then you go look that up, then it becomes a great resource for that.
I think that’s something that intermediates tend to find very difficult too. You can learn all these words and you can work it out, but you need to sort of start learning which ones are actually used versus which ones are kind of like sometimes written, sometimes used by academics, sometimes use very slangy. You kind of need to learn that that by touch and feel and actually using references, reading, watching movies and then say okay, I’ve heard it, I´ll use it and I always saying to people, if you haven’t heard someone use it and you don’t have any context, ignore it, don’t use it just leave it alone. Don’t just pull the weight off line and try and, online, and try to use it in a conversation because you’re probably going to misuse it.
That’s a good rule. Yeah, that’s a very good rule to implement. With respect to the structure so, again, is those high-level strategies then all the information, here’s what you need to know. And then we go in to okay, not in the sense of like, hey, don’t believe us, but let us show you it´s actually been used and that’s why we have that Street speak unit in there.
That was awesome, that was when you guys were just out in the street chatting with people in English, right, with sort of real life contextual subjects that you were chatting about like music sport and that sort of stuff.
And Az is a great teacher goes through and does a whole lesson based on that conversation so, that you know we literally film all these conversations and then we sit down, hit pause, boom, an expression, write it down, boom, an expression, write it down, give an example from the video and then say here look here’s what it means, here how it´s being used. So, actually seeing these expressions that are coming out in real conversations, but the off course, you get access to hearing how people make mistakes, you get access to hearing how people, you know, sound when they’re startled, when they’re nervous, when they’re excited, you get those different levels of emotion there and then once you’ve learned all this information probably the number one or number two question that I get the top two questions I get from students are one how do I start learning English? Where do I start from? The second one is how do I find people to talk with? How I’m able to practice with?
And so again this whole idea of like delivering this mass of course and then saying goodbye, you know, didn’t really make a whole lot of sense to me.
Exactly. You had such good action of all content there at the end, I think you were like okay guys here’s what you want to do if you want to go and make friendships and long-lasting relationships with people who speak English in order to practice your English. So, it was good thank you finish it up with all this actionable stuff that I can kind of like all this learning but then go out and use it in the real world environment.
Exactly and so the idea becomes oh, ok, I´ve learned it all, what do I do with it now? How do I find people to practice with? And thankfully we have technology that allows us to do that and essentially it comes down to not going and approaching people from the sense of language exchange because again those are just standard sort of almost business relationships, we are going to speak 30 minutes in my language and 30 minutes in your language and it comes down to this very business relationship thing, whereas the way I look at learning languages from people is I´m helping somebody, who I normally help? I help my friends, I help my friends, know about becoming friends with these people and offering your help in exchange for their help. But you’re not talking about exchanging languages. So, if you like scuba diving if you´re Portuguese and you like scuba diving and you want to practice Singlish. There’s thousands of people that you can talk to that have no interest in learning Portuguese, they are scuba divers which means you’ll have to speak English with them all the time, how do you meet these people, how do you get connected with them. What’s the right way to introduce or solve, to offer that value, that’s kind of what that whole section is about, to really get you that free English-speaking practice and then some sort of other tricks and tips you can do to get that way. But yeah, that was for me the whole big thing is what do you do at the end of the day once you learned all this information? How do you practice it?
I think it’s really good that I think that anyone who is at that stage right now where you’re not massively advanced but you’re at that intermediate trying to get over that hump of sounding more natural and learning the kind of language that native speakers would use, because I love that you had culturally focused speaking and you had speaking focused grammar those sections there were absolutely awesome, especially the culturally speaking, focused speaking section I thought that was just brilliant because you were sort of talking more about wow what did people actually say? And even if they’re different genders they may use different words or different expressions. And I get that in the Australian English. Can you say mate to a woman? and it’s kind of like… no. You don’t tend to do that. Women may do it to other women, but guys will not call women mate unless it’s kind of a very blokey kind of guy, very manly, manly kind of girl and you know that it’s ok.
Ok, so that’s it. I honestly didn’t even know that. So…
And there are those rules everywhere, right? So, it is really good, and I think this will be a really good resource for anyone who isn’t currently in an immersive environment as well especially if you’re preparing to try and potentially study overseas or go overseas shortly.
Yeah, absolutely. It’s been an interesting run and what not. With the culturally-focused speaking section a lot of that came from real situations, where I’d seen students end up in either an uncomfortable situation or had just come as a result of me talking to English students. One big thing that I noticed in Russia was somebody who would introduce themselves and say I’m from this city and I’d say Where is that? And he goes 200 kilometers north of St. Petersburg. And I love that. I loved it. I loved how specific that was. I don’t know how it works in Australia, but in North America we would never ever say that, you would say it’s a two-hours drive. It’s a four-hour flight, based on whatever is the most popular way of traveling there. I would never say Ottawa was four hours or 400 kilometers from Toronto, right? Unless somebody actually wanted to know how far away that is, but even then, I would answer, it’s a four hour drive. What are you talking about? So, that idea of is 100 percent correct to say what you’d said. In fact, I love it and I think it’s even better. But you want to blend in and sound like a native speaker. Here’s the better way to say it at least according to North American English or whatnot. And so, those kinds of things we talked about the whole genders of certain things that we used to refer to our friends.
That’s what I was going to say, I loved that section where you explained using boyfriend versus girlfriend and how that is. Can you explain that quickly?
Absolutely. So, I had a student in my class and there was a group of teenagers. So, of course that was, you know, unlucky for him. He had said my boyfriend did this and I knew what he was trying to say. But other students are laughing and it’s because in Russia you will, you know, like, my guy friend or whatnot. They have two separate words for friend. They have a word for guy friend and word for a female friend, or whatnot. And so again you kind of have to explain that. So he said no boyfriend and the other students were laughing, and I go, ok, I need to share this with other people, so other people don´t end up in this situation. And so that’s what it comes down to is, and I’m sure it’s the same thing for you, certain terms that we used to describe people can completely change depending on who’s doing it who’s doing it. So, a girl can say girlfriend about her female friends, but I can’t see girlfriend unless he’s dating her, right? But you can say female friend and in fact have to say female friend to differentiate that and then it comes down to, you know, a little bit further it was even adjectives, right? You know, you can´t call girl handsome. You don´t call a girl handsome. Girls when they call guys, they will call guys pretty or beautiful, but there’s usually a very feminine association with that, like he’s a… if you say pretty boy that’s obviously something very, you know, left field, but… There’s that…
Well that’s it, I’m not going to say here’s my boyfriend. Isn’t he beautiful? Your automatic assumption would be that I am gay and this is my romantic partner who… yeah… And I found that really interesting because it is something that a lot of English teachers probably don’t even think about when they’re trying to teach English so, they don’t think about these culturally focused speaking points. And it is so important if you want to avoid those kinds of embarrassing situations where people will understand with context, but it’s always nice when you’re learning a language to avoid humiliating things and the one that I always say in Portuguese is that I used to try and say what I was trying to say I’m excited about something and it’s the same in French. If you (speaks French) or (speaks Portuguese) it means I’m horny. It doesn’t mean that I am excited, you have to say animated. You have to use the equivalent of animated TV. Like I can’t wait for this movie, I’m so horny. It’s like no, no, no.
Maybe that’s why French is so romantic. Exactly, exactly. But that’s it. I mean I guess too, I kind of say just go and make these mistakes. It’s not a big deal. The good thing is you make them once and you will never forget again, you know, if you accidentally introduce your mate and tell everyone that he is your gay lover and people ask you about how long you guys have been together? You’re never going to forget again that you made that mistake.
Then yeah, you only do that once. You only do that once, and it’s the same thing in Russia they use, when you say for example I enjoy something, they´ll often say I get pleasure from. Of course, immediately… I was at a speaking club and the guy had some type of bird at home, and he was like Yeah, that´s my bird and immediately I just stopped him of course nobody else understood, just stopped him right there, and said, let’s fix that for you.
Let’s fix this right now, guys. Like, yeah, you can’t say that. That’s the kind of sexual connotation.
No, that’s good, I should do a video of that so it. Yeah 100 percent. It´s one of those things where everybody at the end of the day, English speakers really understand what you meant, but just even just avoid those awkward little funny sort of scenarios. Here’s what we’re going to be talking about and it’s not sure that culturally focused we’re culturally focused speaking… I really wasn’t sure how to title that and then I like that that narrowed down culturally focus speaking and I scoured the internet looking for similar styles of things, but I really couldn’t find them and not a big focus point for learning.
That’s when you know you’re on to something, that’s when you know you’re on to something, if you can´t find other people taking those sorts of things and you know they’re important, you´ve nailed it.
Yeah, there´s no sort of like… you’ll find the odd sort of thing that kind of touches on a point, but it’s not part of a larger scheme of you know what is culturally focused speaking speeding or whatnot and that’s why I had to think of how to name that unit. Same thing with the grammar, the grammar unit I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel or to even try and say, you know, there are Russian teachers out there who have way better teaching grammar. My whole point of the grammar in unit is I’m not going to teach you articles. I’m going to teach you why you need to focus on articles or whatnot. Here the main grammar aspects as they specifically relate to speaking to sound better at speaking. There are certain grammar points that are the best to focus on, some grammar mistakes you can make and it’s fine. Others, when it comes to speaking, you really want to have nailed down especially with that informal conversation.
And of course, I started that unit off with articles, for that exact reason.
Exactly, I think you’ve nailed it and I think great course. So, anyone who is at intermediate and wanting to get over that hump to advance and sound a lot more natural when they are speaking English. Where can they get their hands on this course, Justin?
So, we can put the link down below, but essentially, it’s on Lingova.com.
All the links have been in the description.
Awesome, awesome, man. Well, thank you so much for your time today I really appreciate it. I will post all the other links to all your other relevant channels because I’m sure there is, hopefully, the odd Russian speaker listening to this podcast who can… who can check it out, but unfortunately guys if you want to learn from Justin you need to sort of probably learn Russian first, at least on YouTube.
On YouTube, yeah definitely. The course itself is for anybody speaking any language but yeah, the YouTube channel itself is focused to Russian speakers. But yeah thanks for having me on. Super appreciated. I hope people can hear the differences between our accents and really nail down the different ways, but I think at the end of the day we speak 100 percent the same for the most part.
Exactly, I think it’s just accent for the most part and maybe the odd slang term like a mate or a bloke.
Mate or bloke, yeah, we don’t say either.
Awesome, Justin thank you so much again and I’ll have to have you on again soon to chat about what’s going on in Ukraine.
Thanks Pete, appreciate it.
All right, guys. So, I hope you really enjoyed that interview. Justin, thank you so much for coming on. You’re an absolute legend for coming on here and telling us all about your story and about this course, Native English.
Now guys, I wouldn’t suggest this course for really, really advanced learners. It’s an amazing course, but it will probably cover things you’ve already learnt. However, if you are an intermediate English speaker, this course is going to be perfect for you, getting you over that hump, through that plateau, to advanced English.
Now, if you would like to sign up for this course, go to Lingova.com, That’s LINGOVA.com. The link will be in the transcript. And you can use the coupon AUSSIE, as in ‘Aussie’ from Aussie English, AUSSIE. And this will save you 15% of the total cost of this course.
Now remember guys, if you are Russian, you can check out Justin’s channel. Unfortunately, if you’re not Russian, like me, you probably won’t get much out of his channel, because 99% of it is in Russian, but you can go to YouTube and just type in “Justin Hammond English”, so that’s JUSTIN HAMMOND, and you will find him on there, or you can visit him on Instagram and Twitter @Justinochek, that is JUSTINOCHEK.
So, that’s it for today, guys. Again, thank you Justin for coming on. Guys, check this course out and I will chat next time. Peace.
Today’s episode is brought to you by the NATIVE ENGLISH course:
Save 15% with the coupon:
AE 474 – Expression: Bob’s Your Uncle
Ready to start. How’s it going, guys?
Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English, and I am so glad that you guys are here with me today, whether you are a longtime listener who’s been there since the very beginning, only a few years ago, I think, 2015, or it’s your very first time listening to this podcast, massive thanks to you guys, massive thanks to everyone who supports the podcast, whether it’s on Patreon, whether it’s by the Aussie English Classroom, my online learning environment, or whether it is that you have bought my courses in the past as well. This is how I keep myself going, guys. This is how I earn a crust, keep the lights on, and keep the wheels moving behind Aussie English. So, massive thanks to all of you guys.
So, today, we’re going to be talking about the expression, ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’, ‘Bob’s your uncle’. I wonder if you’ve heard this one before. But before we get into that, we’ll go through the Aussie joke, okay. So, here we go. Play on words. Bit of a pun. I love these pun jokes they’re a bit “punny”, if you get what I mean. I think they’re really useful because they give you an insight into our humor, you know, dumb jokes, but also play on words, right, how to manipulate words in English to make jokes, because they rhyme, because they’re spelled the same, etc. Okay? So, today’s joke:
Why was the cat disqualified from the race? Why was the cat disqualified from the race?
Because he was a “cheetah”. He was a “cheetah’.
Do you get it, guys? Why was the cat disqualified from the race? Because he was a “cheetah”.
A play on words between the word “cheater”, C-H-E-A-T-E-R, meaning someone who breaks the rules in a game in order to win, and the word “cheetah”, C-H-E-E-T-A-H, as in, the cat with spots, the fastest land mammal.
So, today’s expression, as I said, today’s expression is ‘Bob’s your uncle’. This was suggested by me in the Aussie English Classroom. As usual, we voted on this expression in the private Facebook group for members. I think I’m going to have to stop suggesting expressions, because I’ve won a few recently and I want you guys, the members, to be able to get your expressions up there. So, maybe I’ll skip a few weeks from now on, but ‘Bob’s your uncle’.
This is one that I use quite a bit. It’s one that I’ve heard a lot in the past. Let’s go through the definitions, we’ll go through the expression definition, then the origin, a few examples, a listen and repeat exercise, and then talk about coffee in Australia and some interesting facts about coffee.
So, ‘Bob’s Your Uncle’. ‘Bob’s your uncle’ also happens to be a cafe in Melbourne, and this was why I decided to do coffee as the Aussie fact for today. Okay? So, if you’re in Melbourne near Doncaster East, go check out Bob’s Your Uncle Cafe.
Anyway, so there’s a few different things going on here in ‘Bob’s your uncle’.
The first word ‘Bob’. ‘Bob’. This is a common English name and it is short for the name ‘Robert’. Okay? So, you might often meet people called Rob or Robert and their nickname might be Bob. Okay? “G’day Bob”. I think I had a bus driver when I was a kid named Bob.
The ”s’, guys, that is ‘is’ contracted onto Bob, as in “Bob is your uncle”.
‘Your’. I’m sure you guys know what ‘your’ is. ‘Your’ is the possessive pronoun for you. If it’s your thing, your uncle, in this case, it belongs to you. It is yours. Okay. Your uncle.
And ‘uncle’. I’m sure again you’ll know this word. Your uncle is the brother of your mother or father. Okay. And the sister of your mother or father is your aunt. Okay. Uncle and aunt. Uncle and aunt.
So, the expression, I wonder if you’ve heard it. I wonder if you know what it means. ‘Bob’s your uncle’. If someone says it it’s an exclamation, right. “Oh, Bob’s your uncle”. And it means, “and there it is” or “And there you have it”, okay? So, if you hear someone say ‘Bob’s your uncle’ they’re also sort of trying to imply or trying to say, but in a more informal lighthearted way, “There it is”, “There you have it”, “That’s how things are”. Okay.
And the French, you might know the French version of this. You may have heard or seen this in movies, and that is “Et voilà”. So, when someone says “Voilà” it’s kind of like, “There it is”, “There you have it”. You know, they might give you something and say, “Et voilà”, which is the French version of ‘Bob’s your uncle’.
So, the origin of this expression. I was having a poke around online trying to find out where this had come from, and though it isn’t certain where the origin of this expression ‘Bob’s your uncle’ comes from, it is a common theory that the expression arose after a conservative Prime Minister, Robert ‘Bob’ Cecil, appointed his nephew Arthur Balfour as Chief Secretary for Ireland in 1887, an act which was apparently both surprising and very unpopular. You know, anytime you hire a family or get family appointed to a high position in government, that’s a bit of a no no. So, whatever other qualifications this guy Arthur Balfour may have had, ‘Bob’s your uncle’ was seen as the conclusive one, meaning that Bob was his uncle and that was the reason that he got the job. So, he got this job suddenly, there it was, there you have it, Bob’s your uncle. That’s why you got the job, because Bob was his uncle. Anyway. (It) may not be that, but that’s a funny theory nonetheless.
So, let’s go through three examples, guys, of how I would use the expression, ‘Bob’s your uncle’.
Example number one. Okay. In this example, I want you to imagine you are having a dinner party, (it) could be a barbie, (it) could be just a dinner party inside your house. You’re getting friends come over. You’re getting family to come over. There they’re bringing some food, they’re bringing some grub, they’re bringing some grog as well, something to drink, (it) could be soft drinks, but it could also be beer or wine or something. So, everyone’s arrived except for your father. He’s running late. Okay. So, you ring him up on the phone and you’re asking, “Where are you? What are you doing?”, and Bob’s your uncle, he shows up. He suddenly knocks on the door, you answer the door, Bob’s your uncle. There he is. There you have it. He arrives. Ah, there it is. Bob’s your uncle.
Example number two. In this one, I want you to imagine you are a chef, right. You’re a chef trying to explain to a sous chef or someone who’s studying to be a chef how easy it is to make lamingtons. Now lamingtons of this famous Australian… I guess, they’re a dessert, kind of a sweet, and they are sort of like black cubes or rectangular prisms that have coconut all over them. Okay? So, if you haven’t tried a lamington, next time you’re at a cafe or even at the supermarket, buy a lamington, give it a go, (and) let me know you think. So, you’re a chef trying to teach a student how to make lamingtons. You tell them about all the ingredients and the way to put them together, to combine them. So, you know, “Mix up the coconut, the milk, the sugar, the flour. Put it in the oven heated to 180 Celsius, and then Bob’s your uncle, twenty minutes later, you’ve got lamingtons. There you have it. You’ve got Lamingtons. That’s all you need to do. There it is. *Poof*. Bob’s your uncle, you’ve got lamingtons. That’s how you make lamingtons. It’s that easy.”.
Example number three. In this example, I want you to imagine that you are training to be a teacher. So, you’re at university, you’re doing a degree or a diploma in education, you’re really self-conscious, though, you’re filled with a lot of doubt. You don’t know if you’ll make it through, you’re not sure if you’re made of teacher material. You chat to your lecturer or your professor and tell him about your doubts and that you’re worried you’re not going to be the right person to be a teacher. He says, “Don’t be silly. You’ve got this. You can do this. You just have to learn a bit. You have to be training, a bit of hands-on work in the classroom, and then Bob’s your uncle, you’ll be a teacher in no time. So, in no time, in a very short period of time, there you have it, that’s all it is, Bob’s your uncle, you’ll be a teacher. Don’t sweat it. Keep your nose down. Work hard. Bob’s your uncle. You’ll be a great teacher in no time.”.
So, by now guys, I hope you understand the expression, ‘Bob’s your uncle’, ‘Bob’s your uncle’, this is there you have it or and there it is. It’s an exclamation when you’re sort of presenting someone with something or you’re trying to say that something is very easy and quick to sort of do, right. Bob’s your uncle and it’s done. It’s that easy.
So, let’s go through a little lesson and repeat exercise, guys, this is your chance to practice your pronunciation. So, if you just want to work on your English in general, ignore my accent, but say the words after me. But if you try to perfect that Aussie accent and you want a more general Australian accent when you’re speaking English, try and pronounce the words exactly as I do. Okay? Let’s go.
Bob’s your uncle x 5
Good work. So, now, this was a difficult one for me to work out how to conjugate into a sentence. So, I’ve just used it in front of a sentence, and then I’m using the phrase a verb “to show up”, which means to arrive or appear somewhere, right. I showed up, you showed up, he showed up. It’s in the past tense. Let’s go.
Bob’s your uncle. I showed up.
Bob’s your uncle. You showed up.
Bob’s your uncle. He showed up.
Bob’s your uncle. She showed up.
Bob’s your uncle. We showed up.
Bob’s your uncle. They showed up.
Bob’s your uncle. It showed up.
Great job, guys, great job. Remember, if you would like to go into more depth into learning Australian pronunciation, connected speech, intonation, all of that sort of stuff, get into the Aussie English Classroom at theAussieEnglishClassroom.com. There’ll be a link in this transcript, but you can also obviously search it online if that’s easier.
Now, there are loads of courses, and obviously, today’s expression episode will be a course in the Aussie English Classroom. It will come with extra videos for the pronunciation, specifically here, and how to connect the words that… the specific difficult things that I’m trying to pronounce here in Australian English. This is a kind of the tricks and tips and secrets to sounding more natural and connecting these words together. There’ll also be a video for vocab, the more complicated words in this episode. And then, I also go through eight interesting expressions that I’ve used in this episode. So, if you’re really into learning English on your own and you want to sort of boost your English learning and speed things up and absorb a lot more out of these episodes, I really suggest signing up at theAussieEnglish classroom.com . It’s just one dollar for your first 30 days, guys. So, you’ve got plenty of time to try it to see if it’s for you. So, give it a go.
Remember too, if you just want the transcripts or the MP3s for these episodes and all the other episodes on the podcast, then you can sign up at theAussieEnglishPodcast.com for the small fee of about $4.99 a month. That’s a coffee, guys. One coffee a month to get access to all of the transcripts, all of the MP3s, and you can download them, read them, listen to them anywhere, anytime, whenever you want. Anyway.
Today’s Aussie English fact, guys. So, today’s fact, because when I searched ‘Bob’s your uncle’ in Google, I found that it was a cafe in Melbourne. Bob’s Your Uncle Cafe. I thought, you know what, I’ll talk about coffee. Coffee’s a big thing in Australia. Not many people realise this until they get here and quite often they get shocked. They show up and they’re like, “Wow! There’s a lot of coffee and the quality of the coffee is really good and Aussies are obsessed with their coffee!”. So, I thought that I would do the Aussie English fact today on the history of coffee and some interesting coffee facts in Australia. Okay.
So, where does the love of coffee come from in Australia?
Obviously, British people who settled Australia in the late 1700s were obsessed with tea. So, they didn’t bring coffee with them. It actually wasn’t until the late 1920s that Australia got espresso coffee, and previous to that, they only had filter coffee, which you might know from the US. So, espresso coffee only arrived in the 1920s. The first commercial espresso machine was actually installed in Cafe Florentino, which is on Bourke Street in Melbourne in the year 1928, so ninety years ago. (It) seems like a long time, but compared to, say, places like Europe, we haven’t had coffee very long.
However, espresso coffee was still pretty niche until the 1950s when the Aussies really started to appreciate the bean. after World War II, two major things occurred which kicked off the coffee culture in Australia. Firstly, the Australian government lifted controls on the import of coffee. And secondly, the Australian government began a new immigration program, which brought in a heap of non-British European migrants. So, this is where we got a load of people from Greece and Italy, and these people were espresso-loving migrants. They loved espressos.
So, Italian style coffee lounges soon began popping up all over the shop in Australia, and by the 70s and 80s and then into the 90s, coffee culture really started to ramp up as coffee shops began to fill laneways, street corners, shopping centres, and other places all around Australia.
So, why is Aussie coffee so good?
There’s several reasons for the great quality of Australian coffee. Firstly, Aussie cafe owners use quality coffee beans. So, they sourced these from all over the world, they get them here, and then they bake the coffee beans themselves, and then they use espresso-based methods to create the coffee instead of, say, filter-based methods, like in places like the USA. Beans are also ground fresh-to-order, which gives the resulting coffee its full and flavourful taste. They’re ground just before the coffee is made. And then lastly Aussie barristers are highly trained, so they have to undergo practical barista training when they learn to master the art of making the perfect cuppa.
And as a side note, I think it’s a great profession to get into if you are a migrant coming to Australia and you want to get a job in, say, hospitality, working in cafes, getting trained up as a qualified barista is it going to lead you to always having a job, because cafes and restaurants always need good barristers.
So, a few more facts about coffee. Unlike in the US, 95% of coffee shops in Australia are owned by Australians independently, so they’re not owned by really big franchises. In fact, as an Australian, I specifically avoid big franchises when I want to get good coffee. So, I pretty much never go to Starbucks unless I’m in a bust and I really need my caffeine kick.
American-owned Starbucks tried to enter the Australian coffee market opening 84 stores Countrywide in the year 2000, but after only eight years, 61 of these stores were closed and that was because they couldn’t live up to the high-quality coffee standards of the average Aussie.
The most popular coffee in Australia is the cappuccino, which is sold on average 50,000 times every 30 minutes during the day.
A few more interesting facts.
Beethoven needed a precise 60 beans in one cup of his daily grind.
The coffee taste for the coffee company Costa–bit of a tongue twister that–has his tongue insured for 10 million pounds. Jesus!
The average Australian spends $494.59, nearly $500, every single year on coffee.
And the best time of day to consume coffee is between 9:30am and 11:30am, because your cortisol hormone, the one that regulates your metabolism and immune system, has plummeted in levels and caffeine causes it to rise in the morning.
So, that’s it for today, guys. I would love to know if you are a coffee fan yourself, and if so, what’s your favorite kind of coffee? For me, it’s definitely a medium sized cap with no sugar, a medium sized cappuccino.
Remember too, I’ve got a vlog on ordering coffee in Australia. So, if you go to YouTube type in “Aussie English ordering coffee”. You will see my vlog of me going around ordering coffee in Canberra.
Anyway, thanks for sticking with me today, guys. I hope you enjoy this episode and I will chat to you soon. Peace!
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas:
AE 473 – How to Use English Articles: A, AN, & THE
G’day, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today, I’m going to be answering a question from one of my students, Aykhan. Let’s have a look.
G’day, Pete. My name is Aykhan, and I’m Baku, Azerbaijan. I have trouble with articles. Could you make it to explaining how to use them? See ya!
Alright, great question Aykhan. Hopefully, this video will do it justice and simplify using articles. Let’s check it out.
Alright, guys, so what is an article? No, it’s not one of those. It is an adjective in English. ‘A’ or ‘an’, and ‘the’, they’re actually adjectives, because they modify nouns.
So, we have ‘the’, which is the definite article, and this one refers to specific or particular nouns. And then we have ‘A’ or ‘an’, which are the indefinite articles and these refer to non-specific or non-particular nouns.
Let’s look at an example.
If I say, “Let’s read the book”, I’m referring to a specific book, this book, that book. You know this book. So, I want to read the book. Okay?
Whereas, if I say “I want to read a book”, it could be any book. I’ve got dozens of books, hundreds of books in the world, I just feel like reading a book. It doesn’t matter which one. It is non-specific. Whereas, if I say “the book”, it’s the specific book on the ground over here.
Here’s another way to think about this. ‘The’ can be used to refer to a specific member of a group. “My friend James is the tallest person I know.”. James is the specific person, the particular person, out of the group of people, all people that I know, James is the specific person who is tallest.
Whereas ‘a’ or ‘an’ can be used to refer to any member of a group. So, for instance, “My friend James is a tall person”, he’s a tall person. I know many tall people. Out of the group of tall people that I know James is just one of those people. He is a tall person. Non-specific, non-particular. He is just one of many.
So, if we use ‘a’ or ‘an’ this is modifying the noun, it’s an adjective modifying the noun, to refer to any, a non-specific a non-particular member of a group. ‘A’. So, I want a pen or pencil. It doesn’t matter which one. I don’t care. I just need a pencil. I need a pen.
So, let’s go through some examples.
“My son wants a bike for Christmas”. “My son wants a bike for Christmas.”. He doesn’t want any specific bike, he doesn’t want any particular bike, he just wants a bike. It doesn’t matter which one. Any bike will do. We don’t know which bike, because we haven’t found a bike yet. “My son wants a bike for Christmas”.
“I need to see a doctor”. “I need to see a doctor”. I don’t care which doctor. It could be any doctor, but I need a doctor. One of the many doctors in the group that are hopefully at the hospital. “I need to see a doctor”.
“When I was at the beach I saw a dolphin.”, you know? I saw a dolphin. I saw a single non-specific thing, in this case, a dolphin. I saw a single dolphin. There were probably many dolphins, but right now, I’m just talking about the one that I saw. “I saw a dolphin”.
Note: If you want to refer to plural things, as in maybe “dolphins”, “bikes”, “doctors”, you need to use the word ‘some’.
“My son wants some bikes for Christmas”.
“I need some doctors.”.
“I saw and dolphins”.
Rules for using ‘a’ and ‘an’. If the word following the indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’ begins with a consonant sound, it needs to be ‘a’: a bike, a girl, a boring event, a European. It needs to be ‘a’ followed by a consonant sound.
If the following word begins with a vowel sound, it needs to be ‘an’. There needs to be an ‘N’ at the end of the indefinite article. ‘An’. An apple, an empty house, an ICU doctor, an hour.
In some rare cases, words beginning with an ‘H’ that is pronounced will take ‘an’ in front of them. And the only example I can think of is “An historic event”, but I wouldn’t worry too much about those.
Alright, time for the definite article, ‘the’. Time the definite article.
So, ‘the’ is the definite article and it modifies the noun to be specific or the particular member of a group that we’re referring to.
So, let’s go through the previous examples we used with ‘a’ and ‘an’, and have a look at how they would change if we want to use ‘the’.
“My son wants the bike he worried at the store yesterday for Christmas.”. He doesn’t want just any bike. He wants that bike, that specific bike, the bike he rode at this store yesterday. We know which bike he wants.
“I need to see the doctor who treated me this morning.”. I need to see the specific doctor, the doctor who treated me this morning. I don’t want to see just any doctor. I want to see this specific doctor who saw me this morning.
“When I was at the beach I saw the dolphin with just one fin.”. So, we’re not talking about any dolphin. We’re talking about that specific dolphin, the dolphin that just has one fin.
Alright, now let’s talk about countable and uncountable nouns. ‘A’ and ‘an’ have to be used with countable nouns, because you have units. Whereas uncountable nouns, you don’t have a single unit so you can’t use ‘a’ or ‘an’.
“I need a new car.”. “I need a new car.”.
“I want to talk to a friend.”. “I want to talk to a friend.”.
‘The’ can be used with uncountable nouns.
“I love eating the food.”. The specific food. “The food at this restaurant, I love eating the food here.”. You know that I’m talking about specific food. “I love eating the food here.”. If I say, “I just love eating food”, “I love eating food”, it’s non-specific. I love eating food. It’s true.
“I spilt the wine on the rug.”. “The” shows that I’m talking about specific wine, the wine I bought yesterday, the wine I was drinking. “I spilt wine on the rug.”. Whereas, if I just say, “I spilt wine on the rug”, it’s any wine. It doesn’t matter, that’s not important, which one it was. It was just that I spilt wine on the rug.
Using ‘the’ geographically.
This is where things get a little bit more specific with the definite article. We need to use ‘the’ before things like names of rivers, names of oceans, names of seas: the Nile, the Pacific Ocean.
We need to use ‘the’ before points on the globe: The North Pole, The Equator.
Before geographical areas: The Middle East, The West.
Before deserts, forests, peninsulas, and gulfs: The Sahara, The Persian Gulf, The Black Forest.
We don’t use ‘the’ before the names of most countries or territories: Mexico, Australia, Bolivia. However: the Netherlands, the Philippines.
Before names of cities, towns, or states: Melbourne, Seoul, California.
Before the names of streets: Washington Boulevard, Collins Street.
Before the name of lakes and bays: Port Phillip Bay, Lake Eyre.
Before the names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Kosciuszko.
Before the names of continents: Asia, Europe, Antarctica.
Before the names of islands: Easter Island, Phillip Island.
Obviously, there are always exceptions, but just have to learn those unfortunately.
To finish up, guys, let’s talk about the omission of articles.
Here are some common types of nouns that don’t take articles.
The names of languages or nationalities, unless you’re specifically referring to the population: Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian. If I say “the Chinese”, “the English”, “the Spanish”, I’m referring to the population.
Names of sports: volleyball, soccer, footy.
The names of academic subjects: maths, biology, physics, English.
Alright, guys, so that is it for today’s episode. I hope it helps. Just remember, with regards to articles, that ‘a’ or ‘an’ is referring to any member of a group. “I need a pen”. I don’t care which pen. I just need a pen this pen will do.
Whereas, ‘the’ refers to a specific member of a group. “I need the pen that’s purple”. I need that purple pen. Here it is. This is the purple one, the purple pen that I need.
Anyway, guys, go over it a few times and let me know if you have any other questions that you would like me to do videos in in the comments below. Hit the subscribe if you want to stay up to date with all new videos coming out, and I’ll see you in the next episode. Great to see you, guys. Peace!
Watch More Aussie English Videos Here!
Enjoying this episode?
Learn English even faster in the Aussie English Classroom!
AE 472 – Interview: Learning Languages, Slang, & Pronunciation with Pronunciation with Emma
G’day, you mob! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English today. I have a great episode with Emma, Emma Walker, from pronunciation with Emma. So, I sat down and had a bit of a chat to her over Skype recently about what it was like going through university and studying linguistics, and Emma as a pronunciation coach.
But, I think you’re really going to like this chat, guys. We talk all about pronunciation, about learning foreign languages like Portuguese and Spanish and our personal experiences, especially, with regards to learning the pronunciation of these languages.
She’s got an interesting accent because she comes from a certain area in Britain. So, it’ll be interesting to see if you guys notice where that accent is from. And it’s also obviously good practice for your ears just to get used to different accents.
And we also have a bit of a chat about different slang, especially slang in Britain, and a few… I think, a term she used that I had never heard in my life. So, that was interesting.
Anyway guys, let’s get into it. Emma Walker from Pronunciation with Emma.
G’day, guys. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today I have Emma Walker and I don’t know what to… I know on yours Instagram is pronunciation with Emma, but is that your specific business name or how does it work? Because I know you’ve got a different web site, right? That’s Emma Walker instead of Pronunciation with Emma. So, can you just tell me about your whole business. How does it work and how did you get it?
So, my website is also Pronunciation with Emma, so I don’t know if there’s another teacher Emma Walker around.
Sorry! my bad, my bad alright, so it’s only Pronunciation with Emma, got you.
Yeah…Someone was trying to copy me. So yeah, I focused more on pronunciation but it kind of it hasn’t always been that way. I studied English language and linguistics at university and I absolutely loved my pronunciation and phonetics, some phonology modules. I was really interested in those…
And what did they cover exactly for those who aren’t linguistically inclined? What were those sorts of modules covering in the English language and pronunciation?
Yeah, I still remember like, the first kind of introductory modules they were based on just learning the IPA. So I still remember this PHD student who used to do the seminars with us and she used to sit at the front of the class, just basically trying to replicate, trying to replicate some of the sounds and we would copy her and we would be sitting with little mirrors, trying to mimic exactly what she was… what she was saying and it’s was just so funny.
Did you have to learn all of the different sounds in the IP. Like everything the human vocal tract is capable of or…?
Everything, everything. The first one was just knowing the British phonemic charts which was easy. At that time, I had a very strong Yorkshire accent because I’m originally from York which is in Yorkshire, which is in the north of England.
I was going to ask you, is like, is it, it’s not Scottish. I know that’s not Scottish. I can’t tell.
No, it’s… yeah it is quite a few hours from Scotland still, there’s, you know, still a few miles in between Yorkshire and Scotland, but…
So, if we were to break this down in Game of Thrones, if your accent was placed on the map where would you be in Game of Thrones? Because I know that the accent gets stronger the further north you get, right?
Yeah it would be the north. Yeah it is interesting, cause the northern characters actually have northern accent.
Yeah exactly. So, you’d be a wildling?
What? Yeah! What’s her name? Oh. Ygritte.
Yeah, with Jon Snow, got you.
Yeah, like that kind of accent, that’s my original accent. But it’s funny because that’s not the actress’s original accent.
Ah, so she had to learn it.
Yeah, the same with Jon Snow or Jon Snow.
Yeah, Snow, you know nothing.
You know nothing Jon Snow. It is just so funny. But I had to change my accent a little bit because no one was understanding me.
Where was the University? Was that further south or…?
No, so I studied in York as well. I studied it at one of the universities in York and it wasn’t until I went to Spain when I started noticing that people were not understanding me because of my accent. So, I worked as a language assistant and I basically only took the modules as a language assistant because I didn’t want to do an exam. That was the only reason. So it was literally like, okay Emma, this is the list of classes, choose what you want. And I thought, oh my god I don’t want to do any exams, like, what could I do? So, I saw that I could take a module being a language assistant in a secondary school. And I thought, okay easy. No.
What did you have to do? What did it cover, like, when you were doing that class?
So, I was teaching teenagers and, which is really hard when you first start, because…
Even in your own language, right?
Yeah, yeah it was so hard, but luckily the kids they were so nice so like, strangely nice. So, it was like, what are you planning? So, they were so friendly and so curious, like, I still remember, like, my first few days working that, they would come up to me like touching me like your skin and it is so white, your eyes are so blue, you hair. So, people who can’t see me, I have blond hair, blue eyes and super white pale skin.
She is touched by fire. Right?
So, they were like, Oh my goodness, your legs, they are so white, because it was just the first few weeks that I had been in Spain. So, of course, my English body had never seen the sun and yeah, they were so shocked. And I remember, in a lesson, I mentioned the word pub. And I said, yeah okay, so it’s quite typical for people to go to a pub in the evenings. And there were like, teacher, like, what?? Pub. What is “pub”, teacher?
What is the typical think that you have to do to win when teaching English overseas? because you don’t want to end up teaching them a really specific accent, right? where they’re going to learn the Yorkshire pronunciation and then go anywhere in the world and people are going to be like, what??
Yeah. Yeah exactly, exactly. That’s what I didn’t want, I didn’t want a generation of learners to go around saying pub, we are off to the pub. And you know, honestly, I did it for them.
So how quickly did you have to adapt and change your accent and was it an easy process or…?
Yeah…so it took me maybe a few weeks and, luckily, I was living with a girl who had a very, very posh accent at the time, so I was able just to mimic her and this is the technique that I teach to my students, is to mimic and for those who don’t know what mimicking is, it’s basically when you’re copying someone. So, I would just listen to my flat mate I would, of course like, listen to BBC radio and I started to realise not only were the sounds different, but the intonation was different.
I think that’s the quickest way to clue in to get used to the intonation too, it’s kind of like, you have to fake it until you make it, You’ve got to keep pretending acting out, pretending like you’re in a movie or something and saying these lines with the same intonation even if it sounds strange, because that’s put up with me in Portuguese when I first started learning and I remember hearing them saying like I’d be like, trying to say the word as well or too, “também”, and they would always be like “também”, with this like inflexion going up and I’d be like that sounds so freakin’ weird, “também”, like and I just had to spend ages practicing that kind of intonation so that when I speak I say it more naturally like that, which sounds strange to me when I was learning but to them sounds more natural.
Exactly, exactly. So how did you improve your Portuguese pronunciation and intonation?
It’s just listen, repeat, as you say. I was initially using Duolingo and every line that they would say with a real native, you know, using strange sentences, the bear kiss the tree or something, I would just copy, copy, copy, as much as possible especially when starting a language it would just be pronunciation all the time. And even now with my fiancée, my fiancée is Portuguese or, Brazilian speaks Portuguese and I’m always like, just correct me if I pronounce something wrong and it’s pretty, it’s pretty amazing how quickly you get the hang of it though, especially with Portuguese we have different emphasis on different parts of the word. So, like you would you don’t say like in Spanish, I guess it would be like dictionario, you would say dicionario, you have to do this * DE de de *. and eventually you get used to and it feels natural and it’s sort of like, * ditititi *.
Yeah, you know what I’m finding now, though? Now, because I’ve been learning Portuguese for just over a week, it’s now day eight, that I’m on my Portuguese adventure. And now when I speak Spanish I’m starting to use that kind of intonation that they use in Portuguese. So yeah, my poor boyfriend, who’s Spanish…
And he is like, What? What are you doing? Like, why are you speaking this way?
That must be the hardest thing because I remember trying to learn Spanish after I started Portuguese and was just like, this is so one the words and the grammar and everything is so similar that I was sort of confusing myself. But then you’ve got Spanish that is very tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Like it’s kind of consistent, with the sounds you don’t really change the emphasis a lot in sentences, right? And in Portuguese it’s the complete opposite, where you’ll be like * dit ra dit dit ra *, and it’s just… it was weird, at first I was like, oh I always love Spanish and I wanted to learn it and thought when I first heard Portuguese, it was like this language sense so fucking weird, with this like a whoop, whoop, but now you go, I listen to Spanish and I’m, like there’s no there’s no like immersion to it, it’s just like * trrrriii *.
I know, I know… It’s funny, because someone said to me the other day, like, why are you learning Portuguese?! It’s such a dull sounding language. I’m like, have you heard Portuguese? What language have you listened to? It’s the least dull language I’ve ever heard.
So, what made you decide to learn Portuguese after learning Spanish? Tell us about that story, because I only noticed that, a few minutes before we got on the call and then I was like, oh wow, okay. And you were like five days in, I think, on your Instagram. So, what made you start that and how are you learning it and what have you experienced so far?
Well, I already speak Spanish, so to learn Portuguese, it’s kind of like why not? You know, it’s like a shortcut almost, like, I think. So…
I just modify my accent fluent.
That is it! I basically feel fluent in Portuguese. But the problem is that, I keep mixing. And I was telling a friend this as well and she is Brazilian, she’s an English teacher and I said, like, I just confused little words like but, however…
Ah that is right, ‘cause you have the word “mas” in Portuguese for but, but than it is like “pero” or “pero” in Spanish, like, they are completely different. You’d be like, what?
Exactly. So, as I’m writing to friends or whatever in Portuguese, I mix and surprisingly they still understand me. But I’m kind of learning it just because it’s so close to Spanish and on top of that I have quite a lot of Brazilian followers on Instagram and I thought, it would be so cool if I could understand some of these guys and understand their comments and stuff, cause their comments…
There are pretty rabid with regards to being fans of people too. So I think, I think you tend to receive a much bigger warm welcome if you’re someone learning Portuguese that if you were learning Spanish, where I think they’re so used to it they’re just like nah, another gringo, another gringo learning Spanish, whatever. Whereas the Portuguese is to me, no offense to anyone who speaks Portuguese, but it’s almost like they’re the little brother of Spain or Spanish and they kind of ignored by most of the world as a language and so when you learn it they’re always like, yes! you know, finally, yes!
Yes, you are exactly right and it’s sort of surprising, because a lot of people who don’t really know me, they just see, Oh you’re learning Portuguese. They actually messaged me, quite a few people messaged me, like why are you learning Portuguese? Why don’t you learn Spanish? And it’s like a completed, mate, like…
Speak it, mate! and the Portuguese people who message you, would be like, I’m happy to teach you. Do you need time, like we can do Skype, cause I’ll help you… I’m… I’m happy to like, what can I do to make your life easy?
Yeah exactly. It is incredible.
And the funny thing is, I always find people don’t realise how many people speak Portuguese. You’ll be like, so you know how many people there are that speak it? You know, there’s more speakers of Portuguese in South America than there are Spanish-speakers, right? and there’s about 300 million of them worldwide. Like…
It’s crazy. I had a look at just the population of Brazil and it was something like 200 million or 207 million. It is a funny number. You know, but let’s round it off 200 million and then I feel like wow that’s a lot of people.
So, what are you doing to current learn it? How, how did you go about beginning a new language from scratch or from near scratch, considering you know Spanish?
Yeah, yeah, I cheated. Sorry guys, but…
All those years learning Spanish was cheating. wasn’t it?
Yeah, but with Spanish, I picked up Spanish very, very quickly, very quickly. And I think it’s because, with Spanish I was immersed, so you know, I took a course in Spanish. So, yeah, I went about learning Spanish very differently to how I am learning Portuguese. With Spanish. I took a course and then I went to Spain. I immersed myself and I have to speak, to eat. I had to speak to survive.
How long were you there for during that immersive period as well?
Ah, one year.
Oh wow, ok.
And I went from like a zero. I went from…
To here. Yeah.
That’s my level currently guys. And I went from that kind of level to about B1 in a year. Just from immersing myself. I did go to classes but I didn’t take them very seriously and at the same time I was also doing Catalan classes.
Oh wow. You animal, man. You just keep tackling all the languages, all the romance languages.
I know, it’s so funny because people, when they saw my Portuguese video, they are like why didn’t you learn Russian? Why didn’t you learn Farsi? What about Arabic? I’m like, wow, come down guys, like…
But that is… I’ve heard that a lot of times as well, like sorted, sort of changed the subject a little bit. I had that when I was, I was studying and I had, there was a secretary there when I was telling them I was learning, I think it was Portuguese, and she was like, she was Indian and she’s like you should learn Hindi. I was like, well but I don’t know anyone who speaks Hindi, do you? And she’s like, No, no I just speak English, but you know, she was like, Pete Hindi’s got more people and I’m like, but Chinese’s got more, like you can always play that argument about different languages having different benefits you just have to pick one that you’re interested in and have a passion for. Right?
Exactly. Yeah exactly. So that’s the key is to find the reason why you’re learning that language and to have that motivation and once you find that motivation you, you cannot be stopped, like I am studying Portuguese now. Ah, so I never moved on to how I’m learning Portuguese.
I got sidetracked as well. So yeah, I haven’t taken a single class in Portuguese,
it’s only have been a week, there’s still time.
I know, I know, but I’m doing it for a very good reason, because I want to kind of challenge myself. But nowadays not much of a challenge, because there are so many free resources online that it’s not even that much of a challenge. But I wanted to challenge myself to learn as much Portuguese as possible without paying loads of money, because, of course a lot of people that follow me and follow you, they’re not rich, they’re not from rich countries. They maybe don’t have access to a teacher. They don’t have the resources in their classrooms or whatever, you know, they don’t have that access.
That’s a really good experiment though to show what can be done without any assistance or at least, no monetary assistance, where you’ve had about to pay for lessons because you could, you could have effectively, if you wanted to pay someone to teach you or go to class every single day and that would you know give the results most people would expect, but it would be good to see what you can do without that.
Exactly. The only thing that’s happened is that, it was my birthday recently and so my boyfriend or my best friend got me some books, so I haven’t paid for those books I asked for them for my birthday, but I started with those books and they’re fantastic, they’re really, really good.
Which books did you get? If I can, if I can ask for selfish reasons…
But well, actually the, this company. Can we call them a company? They do English books as well so if people are interested they’ll have to let me know how the English version is. But I’m, sorry, I’m using this one.
I saw that today. Awesome, awesome.
Yeah. I’m using this one complete, the complete series of Teach Yourself Brazilian Portuguese.
Oh my God. And you are learning Brazilian Portuguese. The European Portuguese speakers are going to be pissed.
I know, I know…Sorry guys, but I am. I keep hitting that spoon. Why is there a spoon there? Looks like random stuff around my computer. Yeah, but I am. This is the thing as well I wanted to show my followers, is you can’t just stick to one variety. So, I’m listening to European Portuguese radio. I’m listening to materials in European Portuguese and I’m getting familiar with that accent. And I realized that Brazilian, Brazilian Portuguese and European Portuguese are very, very different in terms of pronunciation. You know I find that European Portuguese is very * shhhh *.
Yes, it sounds more like Russian to me when I hear it, I am like, wow there is a lot of * shhh shhh *. It’s just, it’s very different, very different that I’m not used to, because I’m surrounded by Portuguese speakers, from Brazil, from Brazil, sorry.
Yeah. And I find that Brazilian Portuguese, it reminds me a lot of South American Spanish. So, I just feel like I have to change my Spanish accent to sound a bit more South American and then just add a few more kind of * shh * sounds, you know and I basically got the pronunciation but, yeah, that’s it. And this other book that I’ve never heard of before, but my friend got me that one.
Is that the everything…
It’s Everything Learning Brazilian Portuguese book and I thought, everything.?! Well that’s got me covered.
That should cover most things.
And it says, I love this, it is speak, write, and then you’ll sound Portuguese in no time.
So, you don’t even have to open it.
Oh no, in no time. I’m fluent already. But yeah, it’s really good book for vocabulary, very, very good book. And the other book is good for…
What’s the time sort of that you’re setting yourself, how long do you want to… Like you could obviously let it go forever, but you want to do it within six months, a year, two days, like what’s the limit you’ve set yourself?
A month, holly molly, ok.
Yeah in a month I want to be able to have a basic conversation in Portuguese. So yes, I found some victims to, to take part in this little study and then we’ll see how that goes. Just speaking after a month, because I just want to show it to people, I don’t know if you’re the same, but I get so many people messaging me and saying, Emma how do I learn English as fast as possible and what’s the easiest way? And it’s like… there is no easy way, there is no faster way.
That is one of those things that it would be good to talk about for a bit, because it’s kind of like losing weight. It’s kind of like you’ve come in with the wrong attitude if you see it is how do I do this overnight thing. Personally, I think it’s more, you need to reassess how you’re viewing this activity and it’s almost like it’s a lifestyle activity, you have to change the way that your life fits around this language now and think, okay this is not a week, this is not a month it’s not even a year task, it’s something that’s ongoing potentially forever, that you just chip away at slowly and that’s kind of daunting but at the same time I feel like that’s really sort of, it releases you a bit of stress, because you know you’ve got so much time, you know and you just keep trying to get one step ahead every single day and it’s kind of like ok, I don’t have to make massive strike. I don’t need to lose 10 kilos this week as long as I lose a little bit, I’m sort of on the right path, right? Do you have any advice, with regards to English learners, who ask you those questions, what do you normally say to them?
Yes, so I normally say to them, set a goal and this is what I’ve been doing. So, my first week, my goal was to be able to introduce myself in Portuguese and say something about why I’m learning Portuguese. That was my goal and I did it. And I put that video on the internet for everyone to see and yeah, I got some amazing feedback and that encouraged me more. Of course, you get one or two negative messages and you’re like, pfft, whatever man, I’ve got like four hundred positive ones, so I don’t care. And so, I was kind of showing people look, if you’re not confident it doesn’t matter. I’ve done this. I put my video and my face out on the Internet speaking Portuguese after week, if I can do this then you can do it as well. You know, I don’t mean putting your video on the internet but I mean just speaking …
I think that emphasis too on not worrying so much about making mistakes, making a fool of yourself. If you can let go of that and makes such a difference and I noticed that recently I told my fiancée, no English until the end of the year. Just only Portuguese from now on and we’ve moved into a house where there are three other guys who are from Brazil and like they talk to me a little bit in English but I try and always turn it back. But I noticed that initially I would, she would say things and my eyes would kind of give her that you know that vague look where she’s like you don’t know what I’m saying and I’ll be like, Yeah, yeah, I do and then she’s like “what do they say?” and I’ll be like, “Yeah you got me”. But yeah it only took a day or two and then I started feeling okay, like I don’t mind making mistakes anymore I’m comfortable saying “what did you say?”, “Can you repeat that?” And it was surprising how quickly once I let go, conquering those issues was no longer a big problem and now I don’t feel embarrassed at all. Now when I don’t understand and because it’s almost like it’s so common now for me to say “What does that mean? and “What was this word?” “how do I say this?” or “what is this?” that it’s just not even an issue. So, I think, for people listening if you’re having fears about that just do it more. It’s literally like diving in the deep end of the pool, you do it once and you’re kind of like okay it’s not that bad.
Yeah. No, exactly and the kind of mistakes I made in Spanish, you know I, I just have no shame anymore.
I feel like I experienced all the horrors in Spanish and all the kind of mistakes that I could have made in a second language, like I made some really, really bad mistakes where I got myself in trouble or I said some very rude things, very sexual things, numerous times and I didn’t mean to.
That is when you say things like “excitado”? I made mistakes so many times. I am trying to say I’m excited and they’re like no that’s not what it means. It’s not a sexual orientation, you like ahhh.
Yeah, I still remember when I was in Teneriffe and I said to… I was living with a family and I said to the dad of the family ” Estoy caliente” as I was saying “God, I’m so hot, like as in the temperature, is very hot in this country and my temperature is rising so I want to say “Estoy caliente” and his eyes were like “What?”. And I realized, oh my God no I said it wrong “tenho Calor, tenho calor”. And I had to quickly change like, explain myself, no I am not horny, not in this temperature my friend. It was embarrassing but I said much worse and…
So what, would you I wanted to ask you when you were learning immersively what, as an English teacher, what sort of experience did you have? Do you have any advice for people who are in that same position now and how to get the most out of it?
Yeah. So, the thing is I don’t know how hard it is for people going to Australia. But I find that when people come to England the same thing always happens and they say “English people don’t want to talk to me”. “English people don’t want to be my friend”. “They’re so close and they just want to be friends with each other”. “They don’t want to talk to me” and I think that’s kind of true to a certain extent, because it’s kind of like, well why should they be your friend just because you’re a foreigner.
You need to remember too I go outside most Australians aren’t my friends, they don’t want to talk to me. They would ignore me, I walk up to them be like “Hey you want to chat” and they’ll tell me to f off.
Oh yes this is exactly the same for me. I have very few English friends, because I just haven’t found the right people who have things in common with and I find as well, I’m 26 now and I find that most 26-year-olds are not making YouTube videos, that they have their own companies, they are running their own business and teaching, they have travelled, They speak x number of languages, so I find it quite hard to find people my own age who have similar experiences to me. So that’s quite tricky.
What advice would you give them if they say to you, how do I best engage with or become a part of the community in England or I’m sure the same advice would apply here in Australia. What advice would you normally give them?
I encourage my students, like I have students, like I have to really force them to go out to like meetings, to join clubs, like join your local sports club, even if you don’t play sports just go. Play tennis and see who is around or join a football club or something, or if you enjoy painting, go to a painting class, start talking to people and I think people put too much pressure on other people to start talking to them but they also need to think that they need to start communicating with other people as well. They need to initiate that conversation, because you know, when I was in Spain I found people are quite accommodating and they would be asking me like “Are you okay here?”, “If you need anything I’ll help you” and you know they were so understanding because they travelled. But here we, many people maybe haven’t traveled or they just haven’t learnt another language, we don’t understand. It’s not every one, but yeah, I wouldn’t expect to make friends on day one just because you’re from another country.
It’s hard work, you’ve got to go out. I’ve been in Canberra now for ages, like six months, ages for me I’ve just moved to this city and I’ve just been inside the whole time we’ve made like, Quel and I’ve made like two friends, I mean, and goes to show we haven’t been working our arses off to try and meet people or anything like that, but we’ve, you know, so he goes to show that even native speakers, for me at least, in this country find it difficult, if you don’t put in that effort, so you have to find some kind of social thing that you can go to and just be the person that goes up to people and introduces yourself and starts those conversations and eventually, it’s almost like dating, right? You just have to keep doing it until you find someone you get along with and then you kind of like ok, I’ve found my person and I could ignore the ones that I didn’t get along with, right? Because you can’t be friend with everyone.
No, exactly and I think that’s what people make the mistake of doing, they try to make friends with everyone and then they realise that they’re not spending enough time. Like, one thing I found with a lot of my Spanish and Italian friends is that they would say to me, “I don’t have time this week” “Oh sorry I’m working so much”, but then I would see them on Facebook with other friends and it’s like “Oh so you have time to go out with your Italian friends or a Spanish friend but not time to go out with me and you know I just, you have to keep, I don’t know, you have… It’s like a relationship as you say, you know. You have to keep in touch with those people and find people that you’re interested in you have the same interests and that’s why clubs are really good idea. When I was in living in Spain I joined a language exchange and I met some people there and then we found out that we had common interests, we liked, I don’t know, just going out, doing stuff you know, so we would go out hiking or go out into the mountains or whatever. You know, I you being at the mountains in my life, so.
Exactly, one of the good things too is just after, if you do go to some kind of, event like, you know or some club or you’re doing a sport or something, ask people out afterwards, that’s when you get to sort of chat and just take it easy and find out, you know, who are the people that are worth hanging out with and they’ll put their hand up for it right if they’re up for going and getting dinner after a match or whatever it is that you’ve gone to at the club, then you’ll be like okay this person came to socialize as well. I want to ask you though, accents in the UK, like insanely diverse, compared to places like Australia. What advice do you give students who come to England? Whether it is about which accent to learn and how to learn it or how to just get the listening comprehension down for all the different accents in England? Because this could obviously apply to learning any accent or at least becoming accustomed to it. What do you suggest they do?
Yeah. So, I suggest listening to, like, local radio stations for one, you know, you could literally just go on Google and type Yorkshire radio stations and just choose one.
Thanks for the Internet.
Yeah, yeah. What is really good as well is, we also have regional news. So, you know, you can just look for like BBC Yorkshire or BBC Northumbria or whatever, so we have different ones there and I just suggest people listen to that. The BBC also has a really good website where they give like, what is it? like a glossary of all the dialect terms.
Oh wow really?
Yes, I do not recommend that people do that, unless they are moving to that area. So, you know, if you’re moving to for example, Bristol, it may be good to learn some of the dialect in Bristol, just so you know what people are saying to you.
When you say that, do you mean it’s like slang or something, it’s not just standard English with a different accent. It’s specific terms to that area and not anywhere else?
Exactly. Yeah like in Bristol, I heard for the first time in my life, I heard “gert lush” and I was like…
I have no idea of what that is…
Exactly, what it is “gert lush”? That’s well gert lush! I was like, I don’t know what are you saying?
What does it mean?
I just asked. It means, lke it’s really nice, it’s really good like, oh this cider is “gert lush” and they use that rrrr here, so I’m trying to, trying to mimic and pick that up. But yeah, they would say stuff like that. And actually, there is a pub close in the center, that’s called “gert lush”. So now I know what it means.
That sort of stuff is crazy. I guess it is important to sort of focus on that more when you get settled in a place, than try and learn everything, because if you do that 90 percent of it probably won’t be useful, you know if you learn Australian slang and move to Bristol or you go to somewhere in the US it’s going to be effectively useless. So, focus on slangs as a secondary thing, but what about learning English, Standard British English, which accent do you get them to focus on? And do you still encourage them to try and listen to other accents?
So, the one that I teach is almost like a mixture between Yorkshire and standard. But I tend to teach students what we call RP which stands for received pronunciation and that’s the one that you will find in the dictionary. That’s the one that you will find the news presenters use, who are based in London, not the regional news stations etc. But I still keep some of my Northern sounds you could say. So, for example I don’t say path, glass, grass, I say path, glass grass, which I find is just easier for students to do. You know.
It’s actually funny. That’s a point that’s different between you and I, because I would say path, grass and glass instead of path, path, yeah that would sound more American or as you say British to me. And we have that, but we have that sometimes, there are certain things, I think like baths and baths and Castle and castle. Some people will say either one of those in Australia. So sometimes there are those words which are strange.
Yeah. So, when you teach though, do you find those students are mimicking you and they do say like glass?
It depends, it depends on the student, because quite often they’re not specifically after an Australian accent, they might just want to understand it and learn just basic English with me, like grammar and that sort of stuff which applies everywhere and yes, to some of them it’s difficult because they’ve got multiple teachers as well. They’d be learning from an American and a Canadian and I’ll be like I just don’t want to correct your pronunciation because you’ll get to the next class and then be told something different. Yeah, I would just tell them how I said, that’s pretty much my caveat every time, I’m like I’m just going to tell you how I pronounce things, because there’s always going to be someone saying “That’s not how you say it”. “This is how you say it” and you will just be like ah, whatever.
Yeah, I’ve had the same.
What would you have, finishing up, what tips would you have for students, whether they’re learning Australian English, British English or American English to improve their pronunciation? would you, What advice would you give them?
Yeah. So, I would start off with learning individual sounds first, then trying to perfect those little sounds, get those, get those, get those right. You know, you can do that by… You don’t even have to like, study the IPA like, hard core. You just have to be familiar with the sounds and the symbols, you know, just get familiar with those and learn to really kind of tune into sound. Stop listening for for words and grammar and understanding and start listening for sound and then start to mimic and a really good trick to also kind of test your pronunciation is to record yourself. So find a very short, like this podcast, for example, people could take a very short section, literally like three seconds, listen to that, repeat, record, compare your recording to the original and see how your pronunciation is. Do they sound the same or are you having problems with a certain sound? For example, a lot of students have problems with the, “the” as in that and they say like “that” or “tsat”, you know, so if you find those kind of things are affecting people understanding you then do something about it practice it. Watch, there videos online like, I’m learning Portuguese for free but I know people can do it for English too.
Are you aware are you aware of the sounds you find difficult? Because that’s what I tend to say to people like you should, you probably know which sounds you’re finding the most difficult and that you need to focus on, you know. I don’t think it’ll be a complete shock when some people realize, oh man I can’t say a * th *. So I just avoid it and it’s like, no, you need to sit down in your own time and just keep practicing it. You know, you don’t need to do it in front of other people, but just don’t, don’t avoid the things you’re finding difficult, but which sounds did you find it hard in Portuguese so far? The nasal vowels?
You know what’s the hardest? It’s actually the “hhh” sound, which we have in English. But, I just, I just cannot like, you know, the word England. I can not say that because it has the double R which is a a ha. Yeah. And then you have the r at the end which is also a “rra” …
And is that Spanish that is screwing it up because you would see that and think Inglaterra, wouldn’t you?
Exactly. I think it might be that. So, I would naturally read it as “Inglaterra” with an English way it would be “Inglaterra”. So to read Double R as rr, I can’t seem to close my vocal chords in time to do it, I have to say…
That would come with time though and you will be able to do it at the start of the words. It’s just that you’re not used to especially in English, I think we do that H deletion if it’s in between words, right? Or any time… so we would just remove that H. So, you almost have to turn that back on and say “Inglaterra” and get used to it’s like. But I love that sort of stuff and it’s for me I focus in on that. Like when I first started Portuguese I was finding the nasal vowels freakin’ hard, that * aun, ain, oun * and it took months for me to perfect, especially, especially when reading or wanting to speak quickly I would have to think and be like okay there’s an n after this vowel. So that means that it’s an * oun * sound instead of r sound… it is just like. But I think eventually it comes right and it’s like you just need to keep for me at least with those languages I just focus on just doing it passively. I’m not going to try and remember the sounds when I’m talking, it’s more I just sit down, Practice, say it, say it, say it, so I hope the muscle memory in my mouth will eventually get there.
Exactly, a really good trick as well and I don’t recommend this for everyone, because it does involve alcohol. Is, is to have like, next time when you’re out with your friends you know, and you and you drink alcohol. I’m not saying that you should get super drunk, okay? Do not go around and say “Oh but Pronunciation with Emma so I could get drunk”.
That is it! You practice when you are waisted.
Yeah, it is the best time. No, but if you drink just a little bit of alcohol, what happens is your muscles become more relaxed and you yourself become more relaxed and you don’t care so much about making mistakes and what other people think. And if you can just have a little bit of alcohol, okay but, very little bit, just to kind of relax your muscles, it really helps and this is how I learned the * Rrr * in Spanish because I kept saying like a “jamon”, you know with a * Ha *, an English one, and it wasn’t until I started, you know, like having beers with friends and as I was drinking the beers I realized, “Oh, I can do the * Rrr * now.” I mean it’s so much easier, ’cause I became less, what’s the word, not paranoid. Conscious.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. You just don’t care as much. Right? And that happened, I had a funny story that I wanted to mention, you made me remember that, one of my students Carlos, was telling me he took the IELTS exam five times, failed it four times, and the final time his teacher said, have a glass of wine before the speaking test, ’cause that was the thing, the thing he was failing and so he just skulled like a glass of red wine right before the test and smashed it, ’cause he was… it was all in his head and he wasn’t relaxing.
Yeah, yeah, it… honestly it works, so if you can drink alcohol and you know, don’t get drunk, but just have enough to become less self-conscious. Honestly, it helps. It helps me and I think that’s the next step for me with a Brazilian Portuguese is I need to sit with a glass of wine and one of my books and just practice by myself and hopefully I’ll see a difference.
Exactly! I’m sitting there constantly talking out loud to myself and that’s another thing that I think really helped pronunciation wise, because I was just constantly working it. It’s one thing and I have quick story with regards to my French. I used to I used to speak French pretty fluently and now I haven’t studied it in a year and a half, two years and I haven’t really spoken. I can notice when I’m listening I hear everything fine, but the muscle memory isn’t there because I haven’t been talking out loud. So, if I read something if I watch something that’s fine, but I can’t spontaneously respond whereas with Portuguese it’s overtaking my French, which is very weird for me. So it is one of those things where it is amazing how much how important it is even if you’re not in a country that speaks a language you don’t know anyone just talk out loud as much as possible. It’s like doing pushups in your room. Just keep doing it. Exercise, exercise, exercise.
Exactly. And when I was in Spain as well, I just used to walk around the house talking to myself and I used to say things like “Un mobel” “Un libro” “ordenador” “las caixas”. Yeah you know I would just…
You name things, right?
Exactly I would just do that, and as I was doing actions I was thinking to myself you know like, I’m putting the sugar in and that would help me practice grammar and yeah, I just developed fluency that way and I started to think in Spanish and occasionally I do think in Spanish. It’s strange because it, it tends to be when I’m really stressed or really excited about something, I don’t know. It’s like English for me is the serious language. And then as soon as I get like really excited about something or very emotional, or angry, I start thinking in Spanish and it’s so weird. I don’t know why.
I think that the brain and languages, is an amazing thing. But we better wrap it up Emma. Where can people find out more about you and if they’re after British pronunciation where can they learn this from, from you?
Yeah for me. So, you can find me on Instagram, YouTube and Facebook. I’m more active on Instagram and of course YouTube I post every single week. You can find me, if you just type in pronunciation with Anna.
Into all of those different social media platforms?
Yep and my website is also the same it’s not Emma Walker. I don’t know who it is. I must have been smoking something. I think I must have just gotten it wrong, because I remember finding you. I think maybe I’m confusing Facebook, because your name was that on Facebook and then I looked on Instagram and was like, okay. But yeah, pronunciation with Emma guys and I will put all the links into the transcript. So, thanks so much Emma.
No problem, thank you for inviting me. It was good.
So, that was the interview, guys. I hope you enjoyed it. Big thanks to Emma for coming on the Aussie English Podcast.
Remember, guys, you can find out more about Emma via her PronunciationwithEmma.com . If you would like pronunciation tutoring for the British accent, you can get lessons with her. You’ll also find her on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Just search pronunciation with Emma. The links will all be in the transcript as well if you guys are interested in learning more about Emma.
Anyway guys, I hope you enjoy the episode and I hope you have an amazing week, and I will talk to you soon. See ya!
Watch Aussie English Interviews Here!
Enjoying this episode?
Learn English even faster in the Aussie English Classroom!
AE 471 – WWP: A Reality Check
Man, it’s cold! Cold, cold, cold. How are you guys going? It’s time for another Walking with Pete episode, and I’m just getting in to the car. Just let me get rid of my chewing gum. Turn the car on. Let’s go for a drive.
There’s a few things I want to chat to you about today, though. So hopefully it’s going to be an interesting and thoughtful episode.
Let me reverse up here and not run over the birds behind the car. So, it’s currently sunset-ish. It’s about 430pm in the afternoon and Kel’s have to work late at the embassy, late for her, I guess.
So, normally, she finishes work at like probably 3 o’clock. I think it’s a Brazilian thing where they tend to finish work earlier in the day. And so, everyone leaves the embassy by 3:00, they turn the alarm on, so she has to be out of the building even if she wanted to stay longer and work. So, but, I think there is something like one person has to stay behind every single week for that week in order to make sure that if anyone shows up, there’s someone there to help them. I don’t know what the deal is exactly, but this week it’s her job, apparently, to stay until about 5 o’clock. So, and, I think, by that time, buses and transport, public transport, around here tends to get incredibly busy, and so she’s wanting to come and grab her.
So, I’m doing that, but I thought I would talk to you guys today about what I’ve been up to this week, Portuguese and photography, and a little bit of, you know, the ups and downs of language learning or of, you know, trying to pursue any kind of endeavor that you’re trying to improve at, right? Whether you’re trying to become good photography, at a sport like soccer or tennis or karate, you know, it could be anything. Any time you’re trying to achieve something, there’s always ups and downs. Anytime you’re trying to master something, there’s always ups and downs, and I think it’s… There are lots of parallels between a lot of different hobbies and endeavours that we try and master, and it’s… I’ve noticed a lot of it with photography and language learning specifically at the moment where… a lot of ups and downs. I’ll have nights where at the moment I’m speaking a lot of Portuguese, especially with the housemates, and obviously my fiancée Kel who’s from Brazil. We’re always talking in Portuguese, and it’s funny when you had the same set of people and when you speak English with them you’re the one at the top of the English speaking hierarchy, right? Anytime we’re speaking English, obviously, I’m the only native English speaker. So, I am the best, quote/unquote, best English speaker in that group when we’re chatting in English. But as soon as we switch to Portuguese, the tables turn, and I am now at the very, very bottom of the hierarchy with regards to capability of speaking Portuguese. So, now, you switch from top to bottom on a dime, incredibly quickly. So, we’ll be chatting away in Portuguese. I’m at the bottom. You know, I’m the limiting factor. I’m the one who wants to slow down the conversation, who’s constantly thinking of what I’m trying to say, who can’t think of the correct words, who says things awkwardly, and then as soon as we switch to English, it’s the other way around. I mean, the other guys are a lot better at English than I am Portuguese, but still, they’re the ones if anyone is… who are limiting the conversation.
So, I guess, that was one thing that I’ve noticed that has been really funny is that I’ve had to get used to being the person at the very bottom pretty much all the time, because we’re always speaking in Portuguese. So, that’s been sort of a humbling experience, but it’s been really good too, because it drives me to want to improve. So, that’s something worth talking about.
When you… It’s the same thing I noticed in jiujitsu and in a lot of other endeavors that I’ve tried to sort of master over the years. It’s so much better when you don’t get comfortable with being at the top of the hierarchy. Right? So, of a hierarchy of competency in whatever it is that you’re trying to become competent at: karate, jujitsu, soccer. It’s always good to try and surround yourself with people who better than you at that thing, because it pushes you to want to be better yourself. And so, I really, really like the fact that with my Portuguese I’m not… I’m not surrounded by people who are as good as me or worse than me. I’m surrounded by people who are native speakers. And so, I’m constantly trying to work my butt off and really hard to be able to, you know, get closer to where their level is with regards to Portuguese. and I think it’s also really important too, when you think about this in terms of people that you spend time with, if you want to be a really productive person and you have a lot of projects and things that you’re working on, and you want to get a lot out of life, it’s always really good to think about the people you spend time with, because, I can’t remember where I first heard it or who came up with this or, you know, where it originated from, but I’ve heard quite a few times in a few different places that you are the average of the five closest people in your life. So, the five people that you spend most time with are going to have a huge impact on the person that you become, right? So, if you spend your time all day hanging out with people who, say, dropkicks, they don’t work, they do drugs, they’re very lazy, they don’t work hard on anything, even though they don’t work, you know, whether it’s a hobby or… they don’t pursue self-improvement, they are they don’t pursue curiosity, you’re not going to feel driven to do those things, you know? Whether or not you would under other circumstances want to do that, if you’re spending the majority of your time with people who aren’t interested in pursuing excellence in some sort of area, who aren’t interested in pursuing that curiosity, who aren’t interested in learning, who aren’t interested in being motivated and following a discipline, you’re going to end up ultimately diminishing your abilities or the possibilities that you would have it being someone you could potentially be.
Whereas, if you spend your time surrounded by people who are constantly working hard, who are constantly driven, constantly motivated, always looking to improve, always looking to develop themselves, then as a result, whether or not you like it, you’re going to be a better version of you as well because of the effect that those people will have on you, you know?
Like, if you go to a party and everyone’s drinking it’s hard to not also drink, right? You don’t want to be the person who sticks out and doesn’t do what everyone else does. And the same thing goes for, say, if all of your mates want to go to the gym, it’s hard to be the one guy who says, nah, I don’t feel like working out, because you suddenly feel guilty, right? You feel like a loser. You want to do what everyone else is doing.
And so, that I’ve noticed too happens with pretty much anything. If you want to be…. if you want to be someone who achieves a lot of things, surround yourself with other people who achieve a lot of things, and it may be brutal at times, especially if you have family members or friends that are sort of diminishing your capabilities, but you kind of have to think about what it is that you want, you know, and if… you know, I’ve had to do that a few times that I’ve had to cut off a few friends. Anyway, I’m getting side tracked.
But I’ve noticed that with Kel, at least recently, my fiancée. She is always working hard now, because she’s always seeing me work really hard. I mean, and that’s not to say she wasn’t working hard beforehand, but I feel like it’s good that she gets motivated when I’m motivated to study or to do something, and she’ll see me doing it and she’ll be like, oh, damn! I need to go and work on something whether it’s watching a video on YouTube about how to do photography or whether it’s studying more English or reading an English book and then asking me questions about it when she sees me learning Portuguese. I love the fact that she feeds off my passion, and as a result, when I see her working hard it, makes me feed off her passion and her determination and her discipline. And so, yeah, I’ve noticed that a lot recently where both of us… who knows who started, who was the first person to kind of do something in front of the other person that got this whole process kick started, but I’ve definitely noticed that recently that all the people I’m surrounding myself with at the moment are driving me to want to be a better version of myself and work harder.
Anyway, that was sort of a tangent, I guess. It’s sort of related to languages, but that’s what I’ve been up to with Portuguese recently. I’ve really been working on it a lot and I’ve noticed some really big… some really big improvements, mainly in fluency. I haven’t really noticed my vocabulary developing a whole lot, although, I hope it has been, and I guess, that’s something else worth talking about.
I noticed that with photography, though, recently as well, I’ve been going to the same place repeatedly, probably every day, every second day, maybe four times a week at the moment. I’m going to this reserve nearby and there is… it’s pretty big, there’s a lot of kangaroos, echidnas, wallabies, all kinds of animals. We took some really good photos of some scorpions and some frogs the other day, which was really cool.
But, I’m going there a lot and taking a lot of photos, and it gets harder, because you keep going to the same place so it gets harder and harder to come up with ideas about what to take photos of, specifically if you’re trying to take photos of the same thing, right? If I’m taking photos of kangaroos all the time, it gets harder and harder to come up with ideas. But as a result, it forces me to try and… to try and come up with new ideas and to try and improve what I’m already doing. And the same thing with landscape. The landscape doesn’t change, but the way you see it and the angles that you get and the… you kind of get forced to really try and improve how you’re taking photos when you have to take the photos are the same things all the time. I think that really applies to languages as well, right? If you coming to talk about the same things all the time, you’re going to develop pretty quickly. You don’t want to just be constantly changing what you’re confronting, because then you don’t really dig down deep and you have to improve at a specific set of skills within that thing that you’re trying to improve, right?
If you constantly have to talk about the same stuff in English you’re going to get really good at talking about that stuff compared with if you are constantly talking about something new all the time. Although, both things have a place, right. You don’t want to get too bored that you don’t want to take photos of something or you don’t get to speak in English, but you also want to change it up a bit so that you have fun and you also want to practice those things.
But I noticed that with photography. I’ve taken a lot of photos recently and I kept thinking, they’re all crap, they’re horrible, I’m not doing very well. But then I would get home and Kel would sit down next to me and we’d be going through these photos sorting out the ones that I’ve taken, and you see them again in a different light, and you’re like, some of these are actually good, and some of these are better than they were that are… compared to the ones that I took last time, and you start noticing improvement when you get that… a chance to kind of look at the photos you’re taking.
And I think it’s the same with language. I’ve noticed that with Portuguese at least. I’m constantly feeling like I’m not speaking very well. And I think we get stuck like that, because, we get… we’re a bit negative, right? Humans tend to be pretty negative where they’re focused on what they’re doing wrong more so than the things that they’re doing right. You know? It’s pretty rare for you to give yourself a pat on the back for something you did right, but it’s pretty common that we chastise ourselves, that we are hard on ourselves, that we are nasty to ourselves when we don’t get things 100 percent right.
And so, that happened in photography photography recently, where I had been taking a lot of photos and at the time I may feel really disappointed with my results, a little disenfranchised, like I’m useless, like I’m hopeless, but then later on when I get to sort of sit down and analyse things, I’ll see, okay, I’m actually improving. I can sort of tell that some of these photos are a lot better than they were a month ago or a week ago.
And it’s the same with Portuguese. I’ve noticed that I keep feeling like I’m not doing very well and that the conversation sticks, and then I’ll chat to Kel about that, and she’ll say later that night, well, Pete, you spoke for five hours today in the car whilst we drove, you know, down to the beach and you talked about all of these complex issues. You weren’t perfect, but you couldn’t do that a month ago, you couldn’t do that two months ago. And so, it’s nice to have a reality check. And I guess, that’s the thing at the end of the day, a reality check. Maybe that will be the theme of this episode.
It’s good to have a reality check sometimes and just have someone else step in and be able to tell you that you’re doing the right thing, that you’re improving, you’re doing well, but also yourself be able to step back and not criticise yourself too harshly and give yourself a break and have a reality check and say, you know, I may not be where I want to be, which hopefully, you’ll never be there, right? You want to constantly be improving and constantly aiming to be better at who you are or what you can do right now, but you don’t want to get into a pattern of being hard on yourself all the time, right? You don’t want to always be 100 percent whip and no carrot, right?
If you’re the person who is trying to reward a horse who’s pulling a cart you’ve got… You can either feed the horse and try and get the cart to move or you can try beating the horse to get the cart to move, right? So, you can use positive feedback, which would be giving them the carrot positive incentive, or you can use negative feedback, which would be beating them with a whip and giving them a, you know, negative incentive to get moving.
You have to try and become the kind of person who gives yourself more positive feedback, hopefully, mostly, if not completely, positive feedback all the time than negative feedback. And this is something that I have to try and develop in myself constantly and remind myself when I’m feeling very self-critical and down on myself and I’m not seeing the results that I expect of myself, I have to remind myself to be nicer to who I am to be nice… because we’re the voice in our head, right?
We are the person we have to spend all of our time with, the voice in our head, and you don’t want to spend all your time with someone who is horrible, right? You don’t want to spend time with someone who hates you, who treats you horribly, and I had to… I was chatting to cal about this recently, she was constantly berating herself and being down low self and critical of her own photography and her own English, and I was saying, would you say this to me if I came to you and said, my photography sucks! I hate my photos! I’m horrible! I can’t take photos at all! Or, I hate my Portuguese! I’m horrible! I can’t speak Portuguese at all! Would you say to me the same things that you’re currently saying to yourself or about yourself? And she said, no! I would never say that. I would never say that you were horrible. And then I said to her, well, why would you say to yourself? If you wouldn’t say that kind of stuff to your best friend, to your fiancé, to your husband, to your parents, to your children, why would you say to yourself? Why would you say to yourself?
So, that was something I got out of a book recently called 12 Rules For Life by Jordan Peterson. And I can’t remember, which rule that was, but one of them was treat yourself like you’re your best friend. At least, I think that’s what one of them was. It was, like, treat yourself like you’re someone that you’re friends with. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Be nice to yourself. Find reasons to say positive things about yourself, because I think we constantly get stuck in a sort of cycle of negative feedback to ourselves, like, we know what we could be and we’re not there yet and we get disappointed, but we definitely need to spend more time being kind to ourselves.
Anyway, guys, I’ve been ranting for a while now. I covered a few different topics in there. I hope you get something out of it. It’s of cathartic and nice for me to just be able to talk about these issues and my own, you know… things that are going on in my head, my own problems, the kinds of things that I’m trying to work through, especially, with trying to improve at these endeavors. My personal endeavors of trying to improve my languages, trying to improve my teaching on English, trying to improve my photography skills, my relationships with people.
And so, I guess, I would love for you to leave this podcast episode thinking about, how do you treat yourself? Do you treat yourself like someone you’re friends with or do you treat yourself like someone you don’t really like, that, you know, are you horrible to yourself at times?
So, with that guys, I hope you have an amazing day and I’ll chat to you soon. All the best.
Want to learn English even faster?
Enrol in The Aussie English Classroom!
Each course is a comprehensive English lesson covering these areas:
AE 470 – Expression: Air Your Dirty Laundry
So, Nic, very impressive van. You’ve got some washing machines and some dryers in there. What’s it all about?
What we’re trying to do is improve the hygiene standards of the homeless. So, every day this van goes out on the streets of Brisbane and we’ve got two washing machines and two dryers in the van, and we simply wash and dry clothes for free. But we talk about our service being much more. We talk about our service being a catalyst for conversation. So, our van, as you can see, it takes a little bit of time to do the washing and drying, and through that time we’re able to have really awesome chats.
G’day, guys, and welcome to this episode of Aussie English. This is Aussie English, the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone or wanting to learn Australian English. But if you try to improve your English in general too, this is also the podcast for you.
So, today’s intro scene. Today’s intro scene was a little clip from a video from Totally Wild’s YouTube channel, and this was an interview with a charity called Orange Sky Laundry, which we’re going to talk about in today’s Aussie fact. A link will be in the transcript if you’d like to check out Totally Wild’s YouTube channel and you want to check out the rest of this video.
But Totally Wild there was this really cool kids’ TV show that I used to watch as a kid. I’d get up early. I think it was on weekends or maybe after school on TV, and I used to watch this, and there was a chick called Ranger Stacey who was a wildlife ranger, and she would always have animals and be at zoos and around Australia teaching people about animals. And this is probably part of why I am such an avid fan of animals today. So, Ranger Stacey, if you’re listening, big thanks.
Anyway, guys, the Aussie English Podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom. This is the online membership site that I have, guys, with courses in there, all the bonus content for these expression episodes and the Australian interview episodes. You get videos about the different expressions I use within these episodes, different vocab, videos about pronunciation, and at the moment I’m expanding the Australian Pronunciation Course in the Aussie English Classroom.
So, if you would like to improve your Australian English or your English in general and get from intermediate to advanced, then I definitely recommend getting in there and giving it a go, guys. It’s just one dollar for your first month while you get used to it, and you can join us in the private Facebook group for members. At the moment, there’s a lot of engagement. People are posting videos, they’re taking part in the weekly challenges, they’re voting on these expressions. So, we’re all having a lot of fun, and these guys are levelling up their English really quick. So, I’d love to see you in there.
Anyway guys, as usual, let’s start with a joke, and in fact, I have two jokes for you today. So, today’s expression was about laundry and that’s why I thought of talking about Orange Sky Laundry, but I also found some jokes related to laundry. Okay. You know, I want to keep the theme consistent.
So, the first joke is: What happened to the leopard that fell into the washing machine? What happened to the leopard that fell into the washing machine? He came out spotless. He came out spotless. Do you get it?
So, a leopard is a large cat. I think these guys are from Africa, right? You got jaguars in South America, leopards in Africa. They’re covered in spots. And if something is ‘spotless’, it’s very clean, right? The idea being that there are no dirty spots on that, usually, piece of laundry. So, what happened to the leopard that fell into the washing machine? He came out spotless.
There was a second joke that was equally as funny as the first one here that was similar, except instead of a leopard, it was about a wolf.
What happens if a wolf falls into a washing machine? What happens to a wolf, you know a wolf, the dogs from Europe and from America, a wolf. He becomes a wash and wearwolf. Get it? He becomes a wash and a wearwolf.
So, obviously, when you wash your clothes you wash them and then you can wear them. And if it’s a wolf that falls in, he becomes a wash and wearwolf. ‘Were’ as in the play on words here to ‘wear’ clothing. But ‘were’ is also used in the word ‘werewolf’, which means… it’s that… it’s when… what is this? Like, a folk lore, folk legend, about a man who gets bitten by a wolf and when there’s a full moon, he turns into a werewolf. That’s a werewolf.
Anyway, I hope you like those jokes, guys. I love puns. I love puns.
Anyway, today’s expression is ‘to air your dirty laundry’, ‘to air your dirty laundry’. I wonder if you guys have heard this expression before, ‘to air your dirty laundry’. This one came from Kel who suggested this in the Aussie English Classroom. Well done Kel.
So, let’s go through and define the different words in the expression ‘to air your dirty laundry’. So, ‘to air something’, ‘to air something air’. ‘Air’ as in, *inhaling*, the stuff that I just inhaled. That’s air. But we can use the verb ‘to air’ to mean to make a room fresher, right? If you allow fresh air to go into a room to a building or house by leaving a window or a door open, you’re airing the house, you’re airing a room.
But in this case, it is in the sense of airing something publicly, which is when you express something publicly like information, opinions, or a secret. You air it publicly. You allow people to know.
The word ‘dirty’. I’m sure you guys have heard the word ‘dirty’. If you’re dirty, you’re covered in dirt, meaning you’re not clean. You’re covered in dirt. So, if you’ve worn some clothes today, by the end of the day, the clothes are dirty, and you need to put them in the washing machine to wash them. So, dirty clothes.
And when they’re ready to go into the washing machine or once they’ve been washed and dried in the washing machine, they are now ‘laundry’. So, that’s what we used the word ‘laundry’ for. This is clothes or sheets, anything that needs to be washed and cleaned in a washing machine that is then dried and usually worn or used on bedding. That is ‘laundry’.
So, let’s go through the expression of what it means, guys. So, if you air your dirty laundry, this is the idea of talking about things, usually a problem or a dispute or some kind of secret, that should be kept secret, or that you would have preferred to have kept secret, but instead you’re making it public, you’re telling other people about it. So, it’s to tell something scandalous or unflattering about yourself, to reveal things about your private life that people usually don’t want to share about their private lives. So, that is to air your dirty laundry. To talk about something private that’s usually a little bit scandalous or unflattering, something embarrassing.
Now this expression was very similar to a recent expression that we did, Episode 454: To Have a Skeleton in Your Closet. So, ‘to have a skeleton in your closet’, remember this means to have a secret that you don’t want other people to know about, something that would be potentially damaging to your reputation if people found out about it. So, obviously if you have a skeleton in your closet, you’ve got a secret you don’t want people to know, and if you air your dirty laundry, that is that you have now shown people or you have now said publicly, you’ve shown publicly, the skeleton that was in your closet, as in your secrets.
So, as usual guys let’s go through some examples. Three examples here of situations where you might hear the expression ‘to air your dirty laundry’.
Alright. So, example number one. Someone’s having an affair, okay? So, they’re cheating on their partner, their boyfriend, their girlfriend, their husband, their wife. They’re cheating on that person, so they have found another person with whom they are having some kind of relationship, whether they’re having sex or they’re emotionally involved with this person, that is having an affair. So, if that is occurring, that’s a skeleton in their closet, in that they don’t want people to know about that secret. But maybe one day, you know, if you’re imagining that this is you who is having the affair, maybe one day a friend finds out that you’re having an affair. Maybe they see you drive off to this person’s house and they see you get together and kiss, and they’re like, “That’s not your wife! That’s not your husband! What are you doing?”. So, they find out about this and they say, “If you don’t tell everyone about this, or at least, if you don’t tell your wife or your husband, your partner, about this shameful and scandalous secret, then I’ll tell them for you.”. So, in this case they want you to air your dirty laundry. They might say you, “You need to air your dirty laundry to your partner. You need to reveal this shameful, unflattering personal secret. You need to make it public or at least tell your wife or husband about this thing. You need to tell your wife or husband about this fact that you’ve been cheating on them and having this affair with someone else. You need to air your dirty laundry. You need to come clean. You need to reveal the skeleton in your closet.”.
So, example number two. In this example, imagine you are part of a sports team. So, the Tour de France is on at the moment. Imagine you are a cyclist cycling around France, the Alps, in the Tour de France. So, you’re on a team, but you’re clean, you don’t do drugs, you’ve never done any blood doping, and you find out, though, that the rest of the team does. If you’re appalled by this fact, you’re ashamed about this fact, you consider this fact very scandalous, and you know, you think it’s a… something that shouldn’t be done, if you think that the team needs to come clean, you think that the team needs to air their dirty laundry. They need to be open and honest about the fact that they’re cheating, they’re breaking the rules, they’re not playing by the rules. They’re blood doping or they’re doing some kind of drugs like steroids. So, they have this big secret, they have this skeleton in their closet, and you think the fact that they’re doing these illicit drugs or blood doping is something they shouldn’t be doing. They need to come clean. They need to air their dirty laundry.
Example number three. So, imagine you are the leader of a nation whether it’s Trump or Putin or Turnbull, you know, all these different nation leaders. Imagine you’re the leader of a nation and you’re at the UN council meeting and you’re being accused by another country or another nation of some horrific war crime, some crimes against humanity. So, maybe it’s genocide or, you know, something like that, where you’ve… maybe bombed your own people, you’ve done something horrible. If you come clean and tell the truth about what’s happened, about these atrocities, that they’ve occurred, you’ve said you’re going to do something about it, you’re airing the country’s dirty laundry. You’re exposing or revealing this secret, this skeleton in the country’s closet. You’re airing the country’s dirty laundry.
So, hopefully guys, you want to send the expression now ‘to air your dirty laundry’, meaning to talk about things, usually a problem or a dispute, something scandalous or unflattering, that would otherwise have been kept secret and you’re allowing other people to know. ‘To air your dirty laundry’.
As usual, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise, guys. This is where you guys get to practice your English pronunciation. So, if you’re trying to work on your accent and sound a little bit more Australian, just try and copy me exactly, mimic me and how I pronounce these words. If you’re not trying to get an Australian accent, say it in your accent, but say these words after me. Let’s go.
to air your
to air your dirty
to air your dirty laundry x 5
I’m airing my dirty laundry
You’re airing your dirty laundry
He’s airing his dirty laundry
She’s airing her dirty laundry
We’re airing our dirty laundry
They’re airing their dirty laundry
It’s airing its dirty laundry
Good job, guys. Good job. Now, I was saying that with connected speech, aspects of connected speech that are relatively Australian. I was using a Linking R in there. I was doing a few other things. But I will go over that in depth in today’s video that you will get access to if you’re in the Aussie English Classroom. Remember, to sign up and give that a go, guys. It’s just one dollar for your first month. TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com. Get into it. Anyway, let’s get into the Aussie fact before we finish up for the day, guys.
So, today’s Aussie fact I wanted to talk about this or some charity in Australia called Orange Sky Laundry. Now, I heard about these guys a few years back when they won that Young Australian of the Year. So, we have these awards every year, Australian of the Year, I think we have Elderly Australian of the Year or… and the Young Australian of the Year. There’s a few different classes. But these guys won that category. So, that was really awesome.
Why I think they were so cool, and they were obviously relevant to today’s episode, is because they are a charity that cleans the laundry of homeless people for free.
So, this is a story of two 20-year-old guys, Lucas and Nic, and they started the world’s first mobile laundry service for the homeless. They finished high school and they decided, “You know what? I really want to do something. I want to make a change in this world!”, and they decided helping the homeless would be something they could do by creating this free laundry-washing service.
So, Lucas and Nic were only 20 years old when they first came up with this idea, and they were chatting over breakfast one morning on the Gold Coast when they came up with the awesome idea to wash the laundry of homeless people for free.
They launched Orange Sky Laundry in 2014, so only four years ago. And since, they’ve made a massive impact. So, today only three or four years later after they began, the charity operates 21 different mobile vans that service 149 different locations in Australia with over 1,400 dedicated volunteers Australia-wide.
So, their vans wash around seven tons of clothing and bedding linen for the homeless every week across Australia. And besides just washing and drying their clothes, a big part of what they believe in their… the ethos of Orange Sky Laundry is spending time with the homeless, engaging the homeless, connecting with the homeless by talking to them and getting to know them and hearing their stories.
So, that’s why I thought these guys were really awesome and were worth mentioning here in this episode, guys. It costs about six dollars for every wash and dry that they do for one person, so if you guys would like to support them you can check them out at OrangeSky.org.au, and you can make a donation that is tax-deductible if you would like.
So, anyway guys, I hope you enjoy this episode, I hope you’re having an amazing weekend, and I will chat to you soon. Peace out.
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas: