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!
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By pete — 2 years ago
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WWP: Xmas Day Recap
Hey guys, what’s going on? Welcome to this episode of Walking With Pete.
I thought I would make this at my folks’ place. So, I’m sitting here in the courtyard. It’s pretty quiet. It’s about 9:43PM. So, 9:43 in the evening, and I’ve just had a long long day of socialising, hanging out with relatives, doing all THAT SORT OF JAZZ. So, doing all THAT SORT OF JAZZ is another expression I should probably explain. If you do THAT KIND OF JAZZ it’s kind of like saying you do that kind of thing. So, if I’m doing all THAT KIND OF JAZZ, JAZZ like J-A-Z-Z, JAZZ like on a guitar or a piano, JAZZ, it’s just to be doing that kind of thing.
So, I was doing all THAT KIND OF JAZZ, hanging out with my folks, my sister and her boyfriend, and just chilling out at my grandparents’ place. So, my cousins were there, my uncle and aunties were there, I had second cousins there who were the cousins of my parents and their children and their childrens’ children. So, the relationships get pretty complicated after that, but it was a pretty big one, it was a pretty big one.
So, we had like all the tables lined up through my grandmother and grandfather’s living room, and we had a few different courses, we had like an entrée, which was a salad with different cheese and some jamon, I think, so, different ham. And then, we had, what else? we had the main course, obviously, which was a roast. My grandparents always do a roast every year for Christmas they do a roast where we have roast lamb most often, but I think this year it was turkey and chicken, and then we have like potatoes and peas and beans. Although, my sister who was meant to make the beans this year forgot them. So, we didn’t have beans this year. Onions, meatballs, even peaches, we have peaches with the dish as well.
So, yeah, my grandparents, or my grandmother is the one who organises these things every year, and she normally gets everyone to sort of make a dish or bring something. So, my job was soft drink, soft drink or fizzy drink, which is the name that we give “soda” in Australian English. We don’t say “soda” or “soda pop” or “sodies” as they say in American English. We say “fizzy drinks”, ’cause they fizz, or just “soft drinks”, because obviously they’re soft, there’s no alcohol in them as opposed to hard drinks, I imagine. So, that was my job, which was a bit of a cop-out, and a cop-out is that it was incredibly easy, it was something I sort of got out of doing anything difficult. So, I copped out, it was a cop-out, I didn’t have to do anything too hard, but my sister had to cook beans, although she forgot them. I think my mum made fruit cake for the lunch, and then there were obviously other people who did the gravy, the potato, the beans and all the other things that were consumed on the day.
And so, it was pretty good. I had quite a few beers. So, I was pretty merry, pretty cheerful hanging out with my sister’s boyfriend all afternoon and sort of joking around with my younger cousins. So, my uncle has three boys who are I think maybe 8, 10 and 12 years old, and they’re little rascals. So, they were running around all day playing with toys, shooting nerf guns, you know the nerf guns with the little foam bullets that you can put in the gun and shoot them around. So, they were doing that and playing, and yeah it was pretty funny, it was pretty funny.
Anyway, so we had lunch and then we obviously have dessert, and my grandmother makes every year as a, I don’t know if it’s an Australian tradition but it’s a family tradition, she makes a plum pudding, which is kind of like this cake that’s like a fruit cake sort of shaped like this. So, I guess it’s made like this and then it’s put upside down, and she puts coins, old old coins, inside of it. So, you’re not meant to eat them, you’re meant to find them, give them back to her and she gives you money in return. So, this would always be for the kids. When I was growing up we would look for the coins, and some of them were, I think, pennies and shillings, old old currency that’s not used in Australia anymore. So, we used to do that and then you’d find them, bring them to her at the end if you had quite a few in your piece of cake, and she would give you 20 cents for a shilling or something, and 50 cents for a penny. I don’t even know, but yeah, we were doing that. We have that for dessert. She puts rum on it and then lights that on fire. So, that’s pretty cool, and then serves that up with ice cream, rum butter, which is like a kind of butter mixed with rum and other sugar in it. And then, yeah, there was fruit as well. So, we had strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, different kinds of berries that came with the ice cream and the cake at the end as well, or the plum pudding*.
So, that was really nice. Then after that we kind of, you know, sit and relax for a little bit, because we’re pretty full and we need to digest. So, again, we had a few more drinks and just, you walk around doing your own thing, hang out, all THAT KIND OF JAZZ. And then we do the gifts where we all sit around in a big circle in the other part of my grandparents’ living room and different families do the gifts that they’ve prepared for all the different people in the room. So, they will go into the corner where the tree is and all the gifts are arranged, get into their gifts and then give them out to the respective people that those gifts are for, and usually the kids help when you’re giving the gifts out or grabbing all of the paper that’s used to wrap the gifts up, we rip it off obviously, and there’s a big box in the middle of the room where the kids will get the paper and put it in the box to sort of clean up as we go.
So, that was fun. I got some really nice coffee, some homemade jam, and a few other things from my other cousins. What else did I get? My grandparents, I don’t think they ever really know what to get me so they always tend to give me money or gift vouchers for things for me to go and spend it on. Yeah, and so, we did that and then afterwards we helped clean up. So, funnily enough, my cousins and uncle and aunties and everyone kind of BAILED, and TO BAIL means to leave, to escape, to run off, to go away. They BAILED early, luckily for them and left us with the clean up. So, my father, my sister, her boyfriend and I were all in the kitchen cleaning up all these dishes. So, you can imagine, we had a big… the sink here with all of the dishes laid out here, and they were all along the wall over here as well, and we had to go through and clean knives and forks and plates and all of the stuff that had been used, all the glasses, the wine glasses, and it took a long time. But, we did that and then my other cousins and uncle and aunty arrived for dinner with my grandparents, but we left and drove home.
So, my grandparents live in Camberwell, which is a suburb on the northern side, north eastern side, maybe to the east of Melbourne, and it’s about an hour and a half drive. So, I’m in Ocean Grove at the moment, which is down the coast past Geelong. And so, we always drive up on Christmas Day for about an hour and a half to get there and then we try and leave at about 5PM in the afternoon, drive an hour and a half again back. And the traffic wasn’t too bad. I was expecting it to be a lot worse than it was, but I think that we missed rush hour in that we left in the morning at about 10. So, it wasn’t really early morning. So, the highway didn’t have a lot of people on it when we got there, although, when we arrived in the city there were quite a few people on the road. And so, there was a little bit of a build-up of traffic once we reached the city and were driving through the city, but when we got on the other side again it was easy, and then on the way back it was much the same story. So, it was much the same situation, the traffic wasn’t too bad, (it) didn’t take too long and I kind of fell asleep I think. I got in the car and was a little tipsy still after a few beers that I’d had and just decided to pass out, fall asleep and woke up when we were almost home.
So, that was good. But, yeah, so that’s Christmas in Australia. You’ll notice it’s… I’m in a singlet and I don’t really wear there very often but today it’s been 37 degrees and I think it was 37C all day, and at the moment it’s about 33 I think. So, it’s really really hot, really hot, and inside it’s even hotter because the doors have been closed all day at my parents’ place. My poor little cat, the cat that lives here has been inside the whole day. It’s had access to water and food and everything, but he’s been a little warm, so, as soon as my parents turned on the air conditioning he just lay down underneath the aircon and was just like “Ahhhh!”.
So, yeah, I thought I would just come and make this video, chat to you guys, recap on the day. And TO RECAP on the day just means to go over the day, to talk about it, to go through all of the details about what I did. So, (I) thought I would RECAP on what an Australian Christmas is like, at least for me. It’s probably different for a lot of other people, but yeah, this is a summer Christmas, and on the way back driving through Ocean Grove there were parties everywhere where people HAD SPILLED OUT into the streets. So, TO SPILL OUT means they’ve just come outside of, and literally, as if you poured a glass, they’VE SPILLED OUT into the streets. And they were just running around laughing. Some of them were dressed up in some bizarre costumes. I think we drove past one house where there was a party and all these people were dressed up like the fish from Finding Nemo. So, like that coral-coloured fish, what are they called again? that live in the anemones, and swim through the anemone tentacles. Oh what are they… clownfish, clownfish! Someone was dressed up as a clownfish. I don’t know how they dealt with the heat though in that sort of a costume. But yeah, so we drove home, (we) got home, (we) got ready I guess to go to sleep and (I) decided to make an episode here. So, it’s probably long enough, guys. I hope you guys had an amazing Christmas Day. And yeah, this is what a summer Christmas is like in Australia. Tell me in a comment below what Christmas is like where you’re from. I would love to know.
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By pete — 4 months ago
Learn Australian English in this interview episode of The Aussie English Podcast I chat with Rhys Linnett about how he became a karate world champion and is now traveling the world.
AE 427 – Interview: Becoming a Karate Champion & Traveling the World with Rhys Linnett
G’day, you mob. How’s it going? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today is another interview episode, and I’m looking forward to bringing you this one, because it is another interview, or it is the end of the previous interview, that I did with my cousin Rhys Linnett. So, I hope you enjoyed that interview with him. Make sure that you go and check that interview out episode of 412 – Interview: Life Working as a Brickie in Australia with Rhys Linnett. So, in that interview, we talked a lot about working as a tradie in Australia, what kinds of expectations you should have, work life on the trade sites with other guys in Australia in particular, you know, workplace bullying, what’s okay, what’s not okay. So, that was a really good interview, and then after that interview, he and I spoke a bit about his career as a karate fighter, a karate champion. So, Rhys has actually traveled the world quite a bit, more when he was younger, competing as a professional karate fighter, and he now teaches in Dubai. So, he has scored a job recently. He got sponsored, sent to Dubai, and hired to teach karate there full-time.
So, this one has a lot of vocab related to fighting and injuries and travel. So, I really think you’re going to enjoy this episode, guys.
And don’t forget if you want the bonus content to this episode, if you want to practice this interview episode, work on your listening comprehension, as well as learn all the more complicated vocab from a 5 to 10-minute snippet from this episode, make sure that you sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. Remember currently, it’s just one dollar for your first month whilst you get used to it, whilst you give it a go, guys. That is an amazing offer as most other memberships of this kind charge you the full fee straight out. So, I really want you guys to take advantage of that one dollar for the first month as it currently is. So, get over there to TheAussieEnglishClassroom.com. Sign up, give it a go, and start improving your English, and you will instantly get access too to all the previous episodes of interviews with all of the bonus content for those. So, if you want to work on Aussie accents. This is where you can. And you’ll also get everything else in there related to the podcast and the YouTube channel.
Anyway guys, let’s get in to today’s episode with Rhys talking about karate. Let’s go.
Awesome, awesome, man. We should just quickly switch onto Karate, I guess. So, Rhys, can you tell me how on earth did you end up as a black belt in karate world champion, who is about to move to Dubai for, potentially, two years being a sensei over there? In your own dojo, is it? So, just give me the story and talk to me about what’s about to happen.
So, I’ve got this job in Dubai teaching kids that like after school care, so basically is for a lot of expats that are working long hours and, you know, their kids are over there, you know, doing school and they just don’t have, you know… they’re going to put them into daycare, they want them to get something out whether it be sort of soccer, swimming, just general sports or for my aspect Karate. So we’re going over there doing that and then with the opportunity to open up my own club within the company that I’m working for.
I got the job through a mate of mine that I met travelling overseas and competing from England and I just sort of put my name down and, you know, I had to go through all these interview processes and I actually didn’t think it was going to get the job and then, yeah, eventually, you know, three, four weeks ago, I found out I got the job. So, that’s just sort of fell in my lap a little bit, and it was just sort of fortunate that my mate was… obviously had the job there because it made it a lot easier, ’cause I’m quite good friends with him so, you know, he probably would have put in a good word for me, I’m assuming. I mean I suppose starting karate was probably from getting bullied at school. My mum was just, you know, sort of fed up with me coming home and, you know, kids generally are cruel to each other. So, having some sort of escape and somewhere that you feel confident within yourself, I suppose, is, you know, is quite good, and karate, I think every kid in their life and at least tries karate, you know, it’s one of those things that I think it’s like a… especially in any of the Westernised country where it’s such a big thing, you know what I mean? And all the movies that you see and stuff like, everyone wants to sort of try it. So, I think it was bound for me to try it eventually, and, yeah, I just fell in love with it when I started, started competing, got really into it, was training like every day. I started doing, you know, Vic State Championships, started doing well in them, started doing national championships, started doing well at them, then started going overseas, starting doing well in them, and then basically, yeah, just progression, and just working really hard for, you know, for big tournaments and just doing lots of preparation and, yeah, end up going to big tournaments and doing pretty well. So, it’s been a long process. It didn’t just happen overnight. I mean, I’ve been doing Karate for nearly 13 years now, and it would have been probably four years were like the golden years for me, like, where I was winning lots of tournaments, going overseas, travelling for karate, going… you know, several different tournaments overseas and missing school and stuff like that. So, it was always really awesome for me, you know, being 15, going overseas, training with people and competing, and while my friends were at school, like, you know, doing exams and stuff like that and I would just get sort of pardoned for it and didn’t have to do them. So, it was always really cool for that aspect.
But, yeah, it just sort of… it sort of just, yeah, from bullying, I suppose, yeah, I just got involved in that, and it did really make me so much more confident in myself, and dealing with bullies in not just a physical way. You know, a lot of people think we learn karate to defend yourself and physically, you know, block a punch and punch someone back, but it’s more… I wouldn’t ever try to fight somebody with my hands and stuff like that, I fight them by, you know, I calm the situation down walk away, because, I mean, I’ve been injured so many times and, you know, this is a big thing in Australia remember this this ‘one punch’, you know, people can die, and it’s just… it’s not worth it, you know, to me. I do fighting for sport. I don’t need to do it when if I’m out at a bar with my friends, you know?
So, what is the one punch thing exactly? Can you talk about that?
So, it’s basically a king hit where they punch someone from behind at the back of the head, and generally what happens is when you get knocked out, your brain hits your skull and then, after that, when you get hit again, so your head hitting the ground, is really, really bad for your brain. And a lot of people will wake up, feel fine, go to sleep, and never wake up again.
And it’s been a big thing they’ve cracked down… and I know in Sydney it’s really a big thing they’ve cracked down on. That… you know, they’re really trying to get that one punch out of, you know… for people doing it, and they’re really trying to crack down on people doing it. I know if you… if anybody’s a boxing fan, if they see the boxer from Australia, Danny Green he’s a big supporter of (getting rid of) the one punch, where they’re really trying to eradicate it, and he speaks a lot about it after his fights and previously before his fights about it.
So, why do you think that is so common in like Australian, I guess, pub culture with guys in their say 20s, probably? It’s become sort of… not necessarily popular, but like a common thing that people seem to be punching strangers or getting into fights purposefully, but then, yeah, hitting someone once, them hitting the ground, hitting concrete, and then dying.
I think it’s because as well the drinking culture in Australia, and especially with younger men, I mean, I’m sure I’ve done it several times. Your eyes are a lot bigger than your stomach. You think you drink a lot more than you can. You drink way too much and, you know, somebody says something that’s probably… it’s probably not even that insulting to you at all. It’s probably just something that they’ve, you know, he said and you’ve just taken to the complete wrong context, let it sort of go, it’s stewed in your head, and then you just go up and try and hit him. I know for me and all my friends, you know, I’ve spoken to a lot of the times, because I have been knocked out cold, and I’ve told them about how dangerous it is when you get knocked out and you hit your head again.
Was that in one of these instances or was that only in competing?
Sorry, from competing, not in a bar or anything else like that. From competing. And it just basically my coach telling me that, you know, if you’re ever in a tournament and you do knock somebody out that you really want to try to make sure you catch them before they hit the ground, because it’s not the knockout that is bad for you, it’s when you hit your head again.
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But the trouble is, I think too, people don’t realise and I’ve learnt this from being surrounded by MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) fighters, you probably have two or three of those that you can experience in your life before you have significant brain damage. One of them can potentially lead to noticeable brain damage, but if you get knocked out cold three times, I think like in the UFC some of those guys… they won’t, like, let them fight again or they’ll tell them, you know, if you keep doing this, you’re going to end up with some significant mental issues.
Yeah, exactly. I mean, I know it’s, it’s… I mean, there’s so many studies they do with NFL (National Football League) players, they do with MMA fighters, you know, kickboxers, Muay Thai fighters, Karate full contact fighters, you know, like, I’m sure rugby players in Australia, in other countries… they’ve done so many studies about it and the effects it does. You know, I know heaps of people, like, I’ve got a kick boxing coach, I’ve known him for ages, and then sometimes he forgets my name. You know, and I know him quite well, and he’s really punch-drunk all the time. Like, he’s such a great guy, but he just sounds really dopey when you talk to him and it’s because he’s been hit in the head too many times, he’s been knocked out too many times.
Yeah. So, what’s punch drunk for those who don’t know that term or expression means?
So, punch-drunk is basically when it’s… you’ve been hit in the head too many times from other like a contact sport, whether it be, you know, martial arts or footy or NFL or rugby, and basically you just sort of speak with a bit of a slurred, sometimes a big characteristic or you forget things like, just really basic things, you know, like people’s names is a big one that you’ve just met. You know, you might have just met them and then 5 minutes later you can’t remember their name. You know? Or, yeah, slurring your words, forgetting things, like, you know, we forget just really basic things, like, you know, you’ll go to… you’ll go out for dinner and you forget your wallet. Things like that. It just basically means that, you know, you run a bit slower than normal… the normal person at your age, I suppose.
So, what was it like worrying about this kind of stuff when you were fighting? Was it ever in your head, “Okay, like, I’m fighting, but I need to make sure I don’t have to get knocked out”, or is it something you don’t really think about?
I don’t think you really think about it at the time. It’s sort of like… I suppose if you ask any surfer if they think about sharks when they’re surfing, you know? It’s something you just don’t really think about. I think that people who… for example, my mom, I know she would think about it a lot, just because she kind of sees it from a distance. She kind of looks at the bigger picture, whereas I look at the… I want to fight, I want to do well, I want to, you know, get a good a… I suppose like ranking, you know, in the world, I want to be a world champion. You sort of push all the other stuff to the side. Same, you know, surfers or mountain bikers or skateboards, stuff like that, you don’t really ever think about crashing and hurting yourself. You sort of think about the positive side of things.
I think, I suppose, as I got sort of older and started to compete less then I started to think about it more… and more, just as well, especially, you know, for a long term, wanting to get a wife and kids and stuff like that, I don’t want to sort of… don’t want my face to be all… you know, mangled, and have cuts all over it, and stuff like that just ’cause it’s a little…you know, pretty and stuff like that, you want to still have a…
For context, Rhys is actually also a model.
So, for those things, I mean, my coach used to always say to me, he’s like, “Mate, you know, if you want to get a good-looking girlfriend, you’ve got to protect yourself”, you know? “If you don’t want a good looking girlfriend, you know, you can have your nose splattered all over your face, it’s up to you”, but you know, he said, “For me, I want to have be good looking wife, I don’t know about, if you don’t care, that’s up to you, but yeah, it’s basically just protect yourself. I definitely think they want you to stop competing, you start to think about it more, and I know, whenever I teach, I always encourage, saying that, you know, it’s not always about the attack and like the countering, it is basically about protecting yourself first, especially for karate, you know, the first thing… Nobody goes to Karate and… asking, “I want to hurt people”. They go there and they want to defend themselves, and that’s the biggest starting, that’s the first thing you learn in karate is that it’s about defense.
Have you ever met any people like that coming to the dojo and say, “I’m here because I want to learn to hurt people?”.
You do meet them and generally what happens is that within a safe environment that the bigger people, the better people… It happens a lot in kickboxing, in Muay Thai, and I suppose it’d happen in jujitsu as well.
And basically, the people who are good, they smash you. They don’t hurt you, they just… they just show you that, you know, that attitude doesn’t go down well in those environments, and it doesn’t go down in any martial arts that I’ve ever met, doesn’t matter what sort of martial arts you do. If someone comes in like that, usually the people who are the big hitters, who are generally the people who are the best to train with, because they’re more helpful and they don’t… they don’t go… I just came from a seminar where I’m a lot better than anybody else, but I don’t go around pushing my weight around just beating people up because I can, I go around and I help them. So, I let them, you know, I let them throw attacks at me, you know let them go through, because it gives them confidence. If I just went and smashed everybody, well… everyone’s going to go back and I don’t want to do Karate anymore, you know what I mean?
Yeah and that’s the funny thing in jujitsu whenever you have those kinds of people who show up and say that or you get that kind of vibe from them when they’re on the mat, you can pretty much be sure they’re either going to change rapidly and lose that kind of attitude or they’re going to leave because they can’t handle being beaten by say a girl half their size, who’s been training for eight years, and could potentially kill them if they wanted to. So, it is funny how that kind of… those environments get rid of those kinds of people or change them for the better. But do you want to talk about what it’s like training for championships and where that’s taken you overseas?
So, training for championships is quite hard. It’s… I mean, I always did it when I was a bit younger, so it wasn’t too bad, but it’s always hard on your family.
What age did you start at?
I started competing when I was probably 13 and I competed up until I was about 21, and it’s just… it’s quite hard for everybody involved. So, especially… well, mainly for my parents and even my brother as well, is that sort of everybody becomes part of the competition. So, everybody is… you might be the one fighting and standing in the ring, but everyone sort of takes a toll. So, you know, my parents had to drive me to trainings on Saturdays and Sundays and Friday nights and Thursday nights, you know, or every night. So, they had to take time out of their day to do that. If I get injured, my mum has to take a day off work to look after me or take me to the hospital. If… you know, there’s a big tournament and my parents and I go and watch, my brother basically he, you know, loses time with my parents and with the family or, you know, he might not be able to go somewhere if he wasn’t old enough to drive or something like that. So, sort of everybody gets affected. For the really big ones it’s… it’s quite hard to switch off. You, generally, after the tournament, you kind of don’t know what to do with yourself because it just becomes your life where, you know, for me, for senior fights, you know, I have to be dieting, you know? Being under 60 kilos, you know, you can’t eat bread for four months, because the carbs in it, you know, it’s just too much. You can only eat pasta, you know, one meal per day, you know, for two months, and in the last month you can’t eat pasta at all. You have to be training every day. So, when you go to work, you need to make sure you don’t get hurt. You know, you don’t get the injuries. If you get cuts, you need to make sure you treat them well, you don’t get infected. You need to make sure that all your, you know, your iron, you’re eating the right food, vitamins are on point, you know, whether you have to take a multivitamin or eat more vegetables. Make sure you don’t get sick. There’s so many factors that you have to consider. And then, also, it’s about getting overseas and going over there. So, whether it be…we’re in Australia and I’m going to England or you got to think about jet-lag, so you need to make sure you sleep on the flight. Whether that being, you know, you make sure you don’t have any energy drinks or any, you know, caffeine or anything before your flight, so you sleep. Getting prepared with all, you know, your equipment and you need to make sure your equipment’s right, need to make sure you’ve packed everything. You know, there are so many… so many factors, and it’s just after that’s really hard to switch off. Generally, that’s why people go to tournaments and they will train for three years non-stop. So, you know, they might have a week off after a really big tournament just to sort of relax, but then you’re back straight into it, ’cause you don’t know what to do with yourself. It becomes your life. And it becomes, especially when you’re younger, and you’re under the age of 18, you can’t drive yourself to training and stuff like that, becomes everyone’s life where it’s kind of revolved around you.
So, would you go back and do it again exactly the same way if you could’ve?
I think that, yeah, I would. I’d probably, if anything, I would have started it earlier, because I started when I was 11 and a lot of my friends started and they were like five or six, and it kind of gave them a bit more experience in just the workings of tournaments and the lifestyle a bit. If I wanted to… and I think I would’ve done a lot better when I was older. So, when I was, you know, in my 20s and stuff like that I would have done a bit better, got better results and stuff like that from just the more experience in it.
I think I probably would have lived overseas. I would have done… ’cause I lived overseas after I stopped competing for a year, but I think I would have done it earlier, and I would have lived over there whilst I was competing, just because it’s more access to tournaments. In Australia, we’re very isolated with our competition, and I suppose it’s for any sort of martial arts is where you need to be getting in rounds with different people and fights that you noticed that our boxes our kickboxers our MMA fighters, you know, our jujitsu fighters and stuff, they’re up there, but there’s only a select few. You know, there wouldn’t be any more than 20 world ranked highly (successful) fighters, whether it be in any sort of martial arts, I believe, in the world, as opposed to if you go to, you know, the States or, you know, Europe, there’s just so many more fighters, or Asia, or, you know, anywhere like that, or you know South America, where there’s so much more, because there’s so many more opportunities to do fights. So, it’s… for a fighter’s perspective you really need to be living over where there’s this possibility you can fight for karate. There’s, you know, in Europe there’s tournaments every weekend. In Australia there’s probably seven really good tournaments to go to per year.
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And you can go to seven within four weeks over Europe.
So, you would say it’s actually surprisingly expensive as a sport then, right? As a result of that.
The best… It’s exactly that, it’s a lot more for personal growth rather than financial growth. The most money I’ve ever won from a tournament was 2 thousand dollars and it cost me 8 thousand dollars to get there, just the flight. Not including any of the training leading up, none of the tournament leading up to that. Any of the, you know… you know, new gears that I might need to get or the karate equipment or mouth guards or you know, injuries, you know for days off work that I had to have. That’s just what it cost me to fly over there and my accommodation and I’ve got 2000 back from it.
So, that’s the most money I’ve ever won and, you know, it barely even covered… not even halfway there what it cost me to go there.
So, to be fair that having that experience has led to you getting this job now where you’re ending up in Dubai on a pretty sizable pay check for a few years. So, it has been worth it I take it.
Yeah it has and I think that that’s just from perseverance where I’ve… I never trained it for the money. I mean, like a lot of people will say, you know, we hear people saying that like “Oh, MMA, you know, I’ll never do it for the money”, or, you know, whoever it might be, “I’ll never do it for money”, but when you getting like four, five million dollars per fight… pretty sure you’re doing it for half of the money, you know what I mean? I mean, it’s not all just for personal growth. Where for us you don’t get any money at all, it is just for personal growth and I was aiming for… I had a goal that I was aiming for. I might not have gotten, but the journey between it had led me into different things, getting really good friends with people, you know, when I went to England one of the times I had free accommodation for a month, just from meeting somebody that I competed with and they would said, “No, if you’re coming over, you know, you’re more than happy to stay there”. So, you know, it’s not just personal growth for fighting, but also just for your life as well. And also, it’s landed me this job in Dubai to teach there. And, you know, who knows what other doors may open and just from going there from that? So, it’s not just the competing side, it obviously’s opened up many pathways for me to… you know, whether be coaching or whether it be opening my own club or whether it be coaching for specific teams or, you know, just for fighting or whoever knows what it might be. I mean, I’ve just finished doing some seminars on the weekends and stuff like that, you know, it’s a nice little pay check for the weekend for me, and it’s… I wouldn’t have had those opportunities if I didn’t do all the training I did. And, you know, people pay me to go to teach them stuff that I’ve had to pay to learn, and then eventually I’m sort of, you know, I’m roughly getting that money back. So, it sort of does level itself out.
I guess, bringing it back to the listeners, if they potentially are moving to Australia or have just gotten here and they either do karate or already or want to take it up or maybe their kids do karate already or the kids want to take it up, what kind of advice would you have for them on where to train and what style to try to take up?
Well if you’re… definitely, If you’re going to any one of the states, if you… basically, if you’re type into Google, especially if you’re in Australia, the AKF (Australian Karate Federation), and then whatever state you’re living whether it be Victoria, NSW, Queensland, W.A. or Northern Territory, Tasmania, Canberra… if you go through the AKF, they’ll have people you can talk to from each state, I’m pretty sure from each state, that you can call and you can ask them and they can recommend different dojo’s to go to. So, if you practice Shotokan, Goju, Shotojuku, I mean, there are so many styles. You can either aim to go to your style, and they’ll have, you know, a few different clubs that are registered through the AKF that you can go to, and then they can, you know, you can just work out whichever is closest to you or maybe you recognise someone’s name from somewhere or a style, you can go to that one. They’ll be able to put you in the best direction. So, that’s probably the best bet to go, especially more for karate. But apart from that, I would assume that most organisations whether, you know, Jujitsu, Kickboxing, Muay Thai, Judo… there’s going to be an Australian Federation for it that you can, you know, phone up, talk to somebody, and they’ll be able to point you in… and maybe not in the exact direction, but in the right direction to go to, to get somewhere to be able to train.
Ah, awesome, and the things that they need to look out for if they do end up at a club, like…just, I guess, obvious things that are good or bad?
I think… it’s… I think if you do practice it, you’re going to get to pick it straight away. I wouldn’t say there’s anything like very obvious to look for, but if you’re new and you want to start training somewhere, I would say, especially for karate, if you can find somewhere through the AKF, they’re generally quite good. I’m not saying that other karate dojos aren’t, it’s just that from my personal knowledge that I know that people who compete in the AKF and are registered through them. It’s actually really expensive and quite hard. You have to have a specific coaching accreditation. You have to be at least a third dan that is recognised by the AKF and the WKF (World Karate Federation). You know, they’re… you have to have all, you know, obviously all of your paperwork business that need to be registered, insurances, things like that, just to be registered through the AKF. So, you’re sort of ticking off not only the training boxes, but also sort of the leagues side of things as well. So, you don’t have to worry so much about, you know, someone stealing your money or something like that for fees and things like that, ’cause it’s… you know, if they’re within that AKF, they’re probably to be caught out before you even start training with them.
So, I think that if you’re doing… if you want to do any martial arts, just if anything, if you find somewhere, just Google them or call up a, you know, a federation and ask them do they know, have you heard these people? or this this club? And just sort of, yeah, just do you research a bit before you start signing up for anything straightaway.
Brilliant. And before we finish up, what’s the worst injury you’ve ever had, and how did that happen?
There’s been a few, probably I think the worst for a longevity was I broke or my fractured both my feet in one tournament, and I didn’t know at the time, because I did one twice. So, I went to kick someone in the body and they blocked it with putting their arm down and hit their elbow. So, it was my right foot first and I thought, “Oh, well I’m just not going to kick with my right foot anymore”. I thought it was just… it’s happened to me before where it’s just been swollen, but I didn’t realise at the time it was fractured. And so, I kicked my other foot in another division and I did the same thing with my left foot. So, I thought, you know, “Oh, my left foot is really bad now” so, I thought… I’m right footed. I thought it was more natural. I thought I’d probably be bale to get it in, and it happened a third time, and I ended up winning one of the division and coming second in the other one.
And then, afterwards, I thought everything was okay, just my feet were a little bit sore, and then I couldn’t walk. So, I had to have my friend carrying me to her car, drove home, got home, it was just getting progressively worse. So, I went to the hospital and they basically said that the X-rays look like my bones and my feet were more like spider webs. So, they had cracks all between my feet. So, they said that they… it wasn’t bad enough, there was no significant actual cracks between the bones, so they couldn’t cast it. So, they had to just, basically, bandage them up and I had to pretty much get a wheelchair back to the car, and then I couldn’t walk around for about a week. So, I had to sit in bed, and that was probably the worst time, because I couldn’t get a cast on it. They were always, you know, I mean, you never think about how often you bump your feet, but, you know, you drop an empty water bottle, and then if you’ve got fractures, you know, it’s like dropping a brick on your feet. So, that was probably the worst one just because you’re always… you know, you can’t walk anywhere, you can’t really do anything, so, especially sitting in… sitting in your bed for a week, and this was before Netflix.
That’s the worst! I guess, the last question karate or bricklaying? Are you going to pick one of them over the other or do you think they both have a spot in your life in the future?
I think, I’m probably leaning more towards karate, because bricklaying for me… I enjoy doing it and I’ll still, like, when I get my own place, if I need to fix things, I’ll still obviously do it then. You know, I’ve got friends, family friends, someone that need something small fixed or I just need something done on the cheap, I’m more than happy to do it then. I always keep a couple of tools lying around for doing it. But for me karate’s just I think it’s become more of my life. I’ve done a fair bit longer and I think it’s just more for me… I can, you know, I can do it for longer. You know, you can always see things on YouTube. There’s this 96-year-old Japanese dude who’s, you know, breaking bricks with his head or something like that, and you’re just like, how’s he still be able to do that at that age?
There’s no 96-year-old or no 93-year-old bricklayers doing the same sort of equivalent in bricklaying.
No, no, exactly. So, you know, as a brickie, you’re basically… once you get to like 60, you’re pretty much… you’ve have had it. So, you know, you hear people… about being able to train, and things as well it’s… you know, you don’t always have to do the technique and do the movements. You can teach a lot of time by explaining things and, you know, especially when you get quite good and you know basically all the techniques and all the drills and all the, you know, the katas and whatever it might be inside out. You can do a lot of the teaching by explaining it and it just conversing in knowledge, rather than actually demonstrating something. So, I think for me it’s for the longevity I’ll be able to do it for longer and still make reasonable money over it and yeah.
Brilliant, dude! Well, thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it, man. And if people want to find out more about you, do you have an Instagram or anything they can follow?
Yeah, there’s nothing really about my karate that’s on there, but I will be starting a bit more of it when I’m in Dubai, because it’s going to be more for my teaching, not so much somebody else’s. So, I’ve always taught for somebody else. Whereas this one is going to be more for me. So, yeah, we just…it’s RhysEdward and with an L at the end. (@RhysEdwardL)
And, yeah, I’ll attach that at the bottom. But, cheers, dude! Thank you so much.
No worries, man. Thank you!
Alright, guys. So, that was it. Thank you, big thank you to my cousin Rhys Linnett for coming on the podcast once again to chat to us about fighting, about karate, about how he got into that sport, travelling the world, and everything else in there.
I hope you guys enjoyed it. And let me know what you think in a comment whether it’s on the podcast website, whether it’s on Facebook. Have you ever done karate? Or have you done any other martial arts? And what was your experience like? How did you do them? How did you get into them? How did you start them?
Aside from that guys remember, if you would like to study this interview in more depth, if you would like to learn quickly how to better understand Australians when they speak with their various different accents, some strong, some not so strong, make sure that you enroll in the Aussie English Classroom. It’s one dollar for the first month, guys. And don’t forget too guys, I have a Patreon page. So, if you would like to support the Aussie English Podcast, if you would like to support what I do teaching people English, then you can sign up there. You can pledge as little as one dollar per month to support me and the Aussie English Podcast.
And this podcast is 100 percent funded by you guys. There’s no ads on it. There’s just you guys either buying the materials that I sell or donating via websites like Patreon. Anyway, you mob, I hope you have an amazing week and I would chat to you soon. See ya!
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By pete — 1 year ago
AE 264: Interview – Laura interviews Aussie English
Welcome to this episode of Aussie English.
Today I have something a little special for you guys.
Not only is it an interview episode, but it’s an interview episode where for once, for the first time, I’m the one being interviewed as opposed to the one doing the interviewing.
So, today, I get interviewed by the lovely Laura from Multi-linguals of Melbourne, and she loves going around and talking to anyone and everyone who loves learning languages and lives in Melbourne, whether they’re Australian or from overseas.
She has an amazing blog where she pretty much just talks all about language learning and interviews heaps and heaps and heaps of people learning languages.
Anyway, we recently met at a Mundo Lingo language meet-up in the city where you can go and practice your foreign languages.
So, I went there to practice Portuguese and French, and just happened to meet Laura, we had a chat and she asked to interview me.
So, I thought that would be the perfect excuse to sit down and also record it as an interview episode for the podcast.
We talk about languages, language learning as well as how Aussie English started.
I think you’re going to love it.
I know we’ve already talked about all the stuff but just how did you start The Aussie English Podcast?
So I started because I was learning… I was learning French, and I just fell in love with doing that, and there was a podcast called Français Authentique by Johan who is a… obviously a French guy.
And he had this just amazing podcast that I started listening to addictively. And…
To help your French?
So he explains expressions and then breaks them down, word by word, talks about the expression and what it means aside from just the words in it and their little meanings.
And then would give these hypothetical situations where you could use that expression.
And I really loved that methodology because you walked away not only understanding what the expression meant and how to use it, but you’ve been given these contextual situations where you got to learn all that vocab around whatever the things were, and then also the individual words in the expression and he would explain like, “Oh, you know, even though it’s an expression with the word mouth in it it doesn’t literally have anything to do with mouths”, but the idea is this.
And so I don’t know it was just always really interesting to listen to.
And so after I started learning French and sort of got to basic fluency within six to eight months of working really hard on my… some of the French people that I had met and was practicing with were like, “Do you know of any resources like Français Authentique in English that you couldn’t recommend for us to improve our English, and specifically with regards to Australia?”, and I was like, I had a look, ’cause I didn’t think about making a podcast.
I was just like oh I’ll see if I can find something. For them to…
And there was just nothing out there.
Like, there were podcasts for English, but a lot of it was say IELTs based or… Like really proper, like formal…
You would have like a formal conversation or, you know, the set up would be very very bland, a bit boring at least from my point of view as a native speaker I’m sure a lot of them use them and love them but there was nothing that I found is compelling.
It’s like Français Authentique and the way that it was set up and and specifically… I love this so much. …focus on Australian English.
And so that was why… when I was like, “Well far out.
I can work out how to do a podcast. Like, you know, I just have to record myself talking. I can talk shit”.
I do that every day.
And then I just… I can’t remember.
I think the first few episodes were me just talking about Australian slang and people like Paul Hogan and Crocodile Dundee.
And ’cause all… everyone’s identifies Paul.
I mean exactly.
What’s his name?
Yeah yeah yeah the crocodile hunter.
And everyone like pull out what, like, the shrimp on the barbie.
Exactly and so yeah, the initial thing was funny because I was like, “Far out! How am I going to do a podcast all about just Australian slang terms?”, ’cause I looked up lists and there were only you know 50, 100 words that were the Aussie slang terms, and I thought, “Well it’s not going to be much but I’ll work with it.”, but then I realized pretty quickly that people just wanted to learn English in the context of Australia not just slang terms, obviously.
‘Cause people don’t… they might use them but not like… well my pronunciation, the expressions I use, do I use the same expressions or words that Americans and English people use?
And so let’s just endless with you just, you know, get on there, create content that’s just talking about anything and everything but using Australian English, and doing interviews with other Australians.
And, why’d you want to learn French?
Like, back to that. How did that trigger?
Because did you grow up speaking your languages?
No not at all.
I went through I think primary school.
I started with Japanese, and didn’t really think much of it.
Like, I didn’t hate it, didn’t like it it was just easier.
A lot of people have that experience with languages and in an Australian context they’re exposed to languages, you know, in primary school and high school but it’s not really a… Well, it wasn’t connected with anything, culturally or I didn’t know any Japanese people. And Japan is somewhat of a neighbour I guess loosely to Australia because it’s in Southeast Asia, but not really.
You can’t see, like, the relevance.
I had the same experience in Indonesia and I was like, why am I…?
Yes, this is kind of cool, but what is the purpose of it, kind of thing.
And I had that in… later when I’d moved primary schools I started Indonesian, and again it was one of those things where it was sort of fun, but it didn’t really have a purpose.
I didn’t know any Indonesians.
I’d never been to Indonesia.
I didn’t really have….
It’s not… it’s a neighbour again, but it’s not really like… we don’t share a border with anything like say in Europe where you… you know, Germany is right next to France, and you guys have cultural similarities, and you’re going to meet a lot of other people that are crossing the border and working, but again with that.
But anyway I started high school and French was an option and I started that and just for some reason I fell in love with it because of the sound.
I really really liked the way that it sounded.
And I think probably compared to Indonesian and Japanese it was a lot closer to English so it seemed easier to learn.
And then after just sort of doing that for six years at high school I didn’t really get too good.
I got to the point where I could, you know, ask for directions and where’s the toilet, and can I get a café (coffee*).
Converse those basic stuff (things*).
And then I was a Chinese at high school and that was good, but a nightmare, very difficult.
Learning all the tones and characters?
Yeah I think mostly that, but also the fact that everyone you had to sort of compete against in year 12 were, native speakers of Chinese.
A lot of them picked that subject, ’cause they would kill it.
I’ve heard that a lot.
Is this in Victoria?
Yeah, and so, even if you were the smartest kid in the class learning it as a second language you just get mauled by, you know, all the native speakers who effectively speak it at home, but wanted a class at high school that they did get a really high score in, because they have that advantage.
So I ditched that in year 11, but kept going with French and it was my best subject.
So… but yeah, I tried to do it in first year uni and actually failed, ’cause I hated it.
I hated the classes.
Do you think it’s the way they structured it? The classes. It was the content. It was all poetry, and like 17th century literature and just dry, standard stuff you would expect. And I just didn’t go to the exams.
I hated it that much that I just decided… I passed one subject I got to 50 percent, and the other one I got a 45 just cause I’d missed the exam and I was like, “Damn!”. I should have just gone to that exam and just put my name… I know.
But I was too worried that I was going to fail chemistry and I was, you know, studying hard to try and pass in those subjects.
But, I guess, after failing it and ditching it maybe nine years later in 2015 I just decided…
Oh so you had a big gap?
Big big big gap.
And I’d always sort of maintained… I was still able to use a bit of French all the time, you know, say the basics, and I’d keep meeting French people, and I was like… I just decided one day, “Screw this! It’s time to be a different Australian. One of the few Australians that actually speaks another language”, and French was obviously the easiest one for me to try and pick up again.
Because you already had the basics. Exactly, and it came flooding back.
That was what really shocked me was just how much it was just dormant sitting there waiting to be reignited.
Yeah it’s like you had this other brain in your head and you’re like, it’s just, yep, waiting to be ignited.
That’s a good way to put it, actually.
Yeah, it was pretty shocking.
But yeah and just how much fun it was.
I guess I didn’t really… I’d it at high school and I’d learnt because I wanted to do well and get a good score.
But now I was sort of… I was finally the driver in the car, and I got to decide what I studied, when I studied, how much I studied.
And so some days I would watch like eight hours of Game of Thrones in French with subs and dubs and really it wouldn’t seem like work.
Yeah, ’cause you were like, just, it’s so much fun. And then reading Harry Potter, you know. I would read three chapters in a night, which was a big deal for me.
But that became so much fun. In French?
Well, like, you would just get to that point where you’d get so enthralled in it.
Like, I remember some days I was doing like eight hours of just studying French and switching from one thing to the next.
You’d read the book, watch your TV show, do some Anki, and it was just so much fun.
And it was it was interesting, ’cause yeah it was so self directed and controlled that…
I heard something.
I think it was Serena the other day.
She was talking about, like, with languages a lot of people always say to her like, you know, can you teach me another language?
But it’s all to do with, like, internally.
You have to be… I guess, you have to want to learn it.
Like, it’s not just something that can come to you.
The more effort you put into it…
Yeah I mean some people say they don’t have an ear for languages, but I think they do, but…
Everyone does! Everyone who speaks a language does.
It’s like… But you have to want it.
You’ve got to be like, “I want to be… I would love to be an Olympic gold medalist swimmer.
Yeah except for the fact that I can’t be stuffed.
And I suck at swimming”, and it would be… you know, like, it’s… I want a lot of things, but there are very very few things.
It’s like the difference between I’m going to do it and it’s like a fantasy, I guess.
Whereas… And that was the funny thing.
Once I’d sort of gotten over the… getting to the point where I was basic fluent, you know reaching basic fluency in French was like “Oh my god”, It’s such a cool feeling.
And you’re like, “This isn’t that hard to do. And I could replicate this in other languages”, and that process, that initial 80 percent of getting to fluency is so much fun.
That problem solving and constant exposure is so gratifying that it’s kind of like… I think that’s why so many polyglots, right, they get one language down and then all of a sudden are like, “I want to do another five or six or 10” yeah.
‘Cause it’s the process they fall in love with not the actual languages, specifically.
But more like the systematic methodology behind it.
I’m trying… I think I told them trying to learn Portuguese, but it’s just… my brain is like trying to switch between Spanish, and it just…
That’s why I’m staying away from Spanish.
That’s why I can’t…like, I want to.
I know, I’m looking like I’m being a hypocrite right now, but it’s like, maybe I think I should do another… like, something just completely different so I can apply my learnings, I guess.
I think it’s one of those things where I would stay away from anything similar to one that I’m learning or already speak until I’ve gotten to the point of being, you know, very proficient in it.
Just because I’d be terrified that I’d confuse the crap out of myself.
That’s what like I told… I have some like Brazilian friends and I’ll just be like… If I don’t know it in Portuguese I’ll just say it in Spanish, and they’ll be like, “No.”.I’m like, “I’m so sorry. I’m trying.
Like I’m…” just like, you know, ’cause it is similar but there’s some things that just do not… like are just completely different.
The false friends.
The false friends, so.
Well back to the podcast.
I’m just going to check the time.
What’s like your favourite thing about doing it?
Helping people, I think, first and foremost just being able to make a small difference to a lot of people is really gratifying.
Like the amount of emails and comments and messages that I get after publishing an episode where people will just be like, “Oh man that was so fun” or “That was so interesting” or “That really helped. And I use that expression today” or “I heard that on TV and I finally knew what it was” like, that is really really gratifying.
And I think, just being able to make it fun.
That I think is really the best part, where people can… because language learning so often is so dry and boring, and people have a lot of bad experiences with it at high school and primary school.
I feel like people are scarred from their experiences.
And then they go, like, as an adult, like, then they go try to learn it, and they just have that, I don’t know, intrinsic feeling of like “oh this is, like, it’s too hard”, but, especially in Australia, again in an Australian context.
And I don’t want to like, you know, bash on the school systems, but it is, like, you know, just the way that they’re taught.
And as you said, like, it’s so important to make it fun and engaging and…
The difficulty, I guess, with the school system is that you have to try and measure everyone with the same stick. And not everyone wants to learn the same stuff.
And that’s where they need to somehow… And not everyone learns the same as well.
Some people might be, I don’t know, book smart, or some of them might be able to like just be able to speak and…
But that’s the difficulty.
If you’re going to mark people and try and give them a score and compare them to one another, then you honestly are left with only using the same sort of set of criteria.
Whereas, yeah, it should be a thing about you come into a class and say, “OK guys today we’re going to learn vocab for, you know, cars or something.”
“Whether you want to use a book, YouTube, whatever you want to use, listen to music about cars, whatever. Go and do it for a half an hour.”
I think about it the more successful, because the kids are going to be visual, audio, they’re going to prefer listening than get on prefer reading.
I think I like Sébastians view on it, like, as in, learn the words that you’re actually going use and maintain what you’re going to use not just… I don’t know, they just sometimes they teach you things and you’re like “When am I going to use this?”.
I think it’s good to expose yourself to everything.
But that’s one of the things that I almost always tell everyone that I am teaching English to is always work out your most commonly used phrases.
Don’t try and commit crap that you’re not going to use to memory.
That’s a good idea.
I’d never thought of it like that, actually.
Yeah, because a lot of the time, you know, you’re only going to use a small fraction of the actual words you need to learn to be able to recognize, but actively using them.
You really need to probably know more you know 2000, 3000, 4000 words that you can recall on the spot.
And a lot of the time, the thing is that they’re patterns.
So there are sets of words that you need to learn, the collocations or whatever they are.
And so that’s yeah, I think that’s why I did so well in French so quickly was because I wasn’t focused on just going through, you know, the 5000 most commonly used words and remembering all of them.
I would more sit down and every time I wanted to say something in French but didn’t know how to do it, and it was something that I would say in English, you know, like, maybe it was a phrase like “how do you know that?”, and I wouldn’t know the exact way to say that in French.
I would go look it up.
And then write that down, and then every single time from then on be able to refer to that phrase, and it just becomes part of your repertoire.
Like in your little, you know, kit.
It’s in your pocket.
You can just pull it out.
And so that was the funny thing it’s not filling in all the holes in the language.
It’s filling all the holes in the language that you’re going to use.
So, it’s like you’re trying to create a spider web, and then eventually join everything up, but you don’t need to cover everything.
You just need to cover the little area that you want to target.
What you use.
Have that basic structure.
I think that’s, yeah… I think you keep… you’ll find it too it becomes so much more gratifying because you keep coming up against the same problems.
So like if I was learning, you know, say Icelandic from scratch, I would have to learn about how to talk about languages, how to talk about podcasting, how to talk about doing science, and, you know, those… say if I don’t focus on those things I’m going to keep coming up against those problems.
And so… knuckle down, like, those… get them down pat.
And it just… the spider web grows, I guess, eventually, right?
Like you start filling in all those holes and then you will… you just keep going until Into get the next hole.
And then you go, “Okay I’m you have to learn that to write that down. Learn that.”
And then just keep, you know… Building on it.
I had such a backwards learning…
Have I told you about my language learning experience?
It was so backwards.
I don’t know if you want to.
I went to Spain on exchange, like, accidentally, kind of thing.
I just wanted to go…
You just woke up there?
Oh, I’m in Spain!?
No, like, I wanted to go to the US, ’cause, you know, I only spoke English, and then, I was like, “Oh…”, and then I missed the cut of date.
So, I was like “Oh, I’ll go to Europe”.
And then I was… I’ll go to the U.K.
And I was like, “Why do I want to go to the U.K.?”.
Like, I’m such a beach bum, like, I love the beach, like surfing and things like that.
So I have some friends, a friend who went to Spain and I knew that the courses were in English.
I was like “Oh, ok, I’ll go. That’ll be fun”.
So I went, got in, went to Spain and I was… and but I got there and I was, like, I could only say like hello.
Like, I literally knew nothing.
And then my teacher she only spoke Spanish and I was in the beginner’s class, but the problem was, like, I didn’t mind that, you know, obviously, like I should’ve learnt a little bit of Spanish maybe before going there.
You would have thought a normal person would, but I’m a bit crazy.
It’s good, though, jumping in the deep end.
I jumped off a cliff without a parachute.
Into a storm.
I was skydiving without a parachute.
But, I… it was really… I didn’t understand how to learn a language.
Like, I didn’t understand all these words like “an infinitive” and like, I don’t know, because we didn’t… In high school, I mean… I must… we don’t really get taught.
And then, I was like, “What’s the present.” you know the difference between… like, I knew like obviously the present and the future and the past tense, but that like all the specific words all of them.
And it was just like “OK”.
And then, like, after like so… and conjugating everything.
So then after six months of being in Spain, I was, like, “Oh I kind of have like an understanding, kind of not.”
And then I came to Australia and in my Spanish class my teacher was explaining it in English, like, the next level, but I didn’t even understand the beginner’s level.
So, I was, like, constantly going back and forward. And I just… I, like, similar to you at university, I struggled so hard to keep up, but also just to, like, get marked all the time but… I don’t know.
It’s like… It took me a while to learn things.
So, like, I wasn’t, like, keeping up with everyone in the class, but I’d get it, like, maybe a couple weeks later.
And, like, I was borderline failing.
Like, I remember my teacher asked me what the present tense for, like, “to do” is.
And I was like, “What’s the present tense?”, and he’s just like, “Oh my god!”.
Well that’s the funny thing right?
When you’re teaching a lot of the time, if you’re not asking the question in a way that the student can understand it doesn’t mean the students stupid or that they don’t get it or that they can’t learn it.
And that’s when you have to sort of reassess what you’re doing and how your phrasing it and how you’re asking it.
And that happens to me a lot, you know, and it’s… I love the podcast too, because it’s taught me so much about English, and language a whole, and just things like connected speech, pronunciation.
I’d had no idea about, you know, how much Australian English differed from English English or American English.
And then, just constantly listening to myself speak and then breaking down, “Ok how am I actually mixing these words together?”, and, you know, one example that I absolutely love is like, “Whadaya…?”.
“Whadaya…?”. “Whadaya…?”. “Whadaya…?”.
What do you…?
What are you…?
What have you…?
It’s all… it means all of it.
So, like, you could say “Whadaya done?”, and in that case “Whadaya…” is “What have you…”.
You can say “Whadaya doing?”, and that’s “What are you doing?”.
And you could say “Whadaya do?”, and that’s “What do you do?”.
And so it’s been contracted in all those three cases, you know, and you don’t even realize it, but you get so used to hearing it.
And teaching ESL students how to use those phrases and sound more like a native, and then hearing them use them, and actually, you know, you just notice a massive change in their ability to speak.
And it’s just that’s really satisfying and fun.
And that’s what I always look for now in other languages.
So, for instance in French you sound like a weirdo if you’re constantly saying things like, “Je ne sais pas.”, “I don’t know”.
Instead they just say, “Jsais pas”, “Jsais pas”, but they’ve just put it all together to “Jsais pas”.
Like, you know, so they join things like that.
And the same in Portuguese you’ll have “Você é”, and then, you know “something”, which means, “You are”, but they’ll just contract it to “Cé”, you know, where they literally, you know, get rid of “Voce” and “é” and they contract it together to just “Vocé ” and then “Cé”.
And so there’s just cool things like that that happen in language that kind of get replicated across all languages.
And it’s good to like… I guess when you’re learning that language as well, ’cause you want to… no one wants to stand out.
Exactly, well and that’s it.
And I feel like people learning English a lot of the time I think, “I’ll never be able to get rid of my accent. I’ll never be able to sound like a native.”
And a lot of the time the accents not really the thing that matters it’s the sort of rhythm and the way they speak.
And so when they learn things like the connected speech stuff and the pronunciation of you know like “Whadaya”, even if you said that with an accent you sound infinitely close to a native then if you were to be someone with a perfect accent who said, “What do you do”.
You know, like, saying like that is just making you stick out so much more.
So, yeah, I don’t know, that stuff gave me a massive kick.
What about, like, have you had, I mean, not any bad experiences, but like what’s… is there something that’s really hard to, like, explain?
In the language?
Yeah well what’s one example that you can think of that’s, like, been really trick to…?
Far out. I think there are so many in English.
I think a lot of the time it’s difficult because they’ll ask me things and I just won’t know the answer.
And you just have to be honest about it and go find it.
You’re reflecting on yourself.
Well that’s it and I guess that’s what an honest teacher does.
And so it’s hard for me to come up with one, because a lot of the time any question they have I don’t have the exact answer as to why or how, and I’ll just have to go and look it up and then go home with them. But I think prepositions.
A lot of those things like prepositions and things where there is no logical reason.
And so, you know, where you have to use “for” instead of “on” or “at” instead of “in” and “on”, and it’s just like “Oh my gosh I don’t even know why.
I just know that you can’t” or “that it’s incorrect”.
It sounds odd.
And it’s almost… I guess it’s a good thing being a language that I myself because I can sort of share that frustration with them, and be like “I understand ’cause in Portuguese and French it’s exactly the same.”.
Where you have to use different prep… and different from Portuguese and French, even though they’re close languages they just use completely different things in different situations.
But probably that.
And auxiliary verbs.
And just yeah, it’s funny too the students a lot of the time know a lot more than me about the rules.
I just know how to use them innately.
Yeah I find that so…like I like it because I’ve done a TEFL course.
Like, that was after I did my language learning and it was like “oh” like so many clicking moments, like “That’s why that’s like that!”.
Like, you know, this is what’s going on now.
And I feel like my English has gotten… You know, it’s improved now that I can like proofread a lot more, you know, more… I’m a lot more confident in how I can read things, “No, that doesn’t sound right.”.
And even watching the news and how people speak in real life, I’m always noticing, you know, a lot of people use is and are…
Yeah, a lot of the time people just use is, or have and has.
And that’s the funny thing.
When I started the podcast initially I was like “oh my gosh I’m going to make one grammatical error and people are going to tear me a new one.
They’re going to see it and be like, “He just made this error! He used “is” instead of “are”! What an idiot.” Or “He put in the “‘s” whereas there’s no apostrophe that’s meant to be there or something.””
But I think half because I wanted to not put myself in a position to always be getting corrected and half because it is just how real life English speakers speak I just decided I’m just going to put it out there errors and all, warts and all, and just always be like, “This is how we speak. And so this is how I’m going to talk to you guys. I’m not going to read from a transcript where you know I’ve checked it and everything is grammatically correct, because even if it is grammatically correct a lot of the time people don’t speak like that.”
And so I wanted the podcast to always be a lot more conversational, and have “Um’s” and “Ah’s” and “You know’s” and errors in there and, you know, my train of thought will go off in one direction and then I’ll be like “Yeeeeh…” and then go in a different direction, and…
And we’re human, you know.
It’s not like robots and let’s be perfectly.
So, people get it, you know.
It’s… I think that’s part of the appeal too, a lot of resources out there tend to focus too much… They…
That’s the problem with, I think, the universities.
Yeah. Not the problem, but that’s that’s how it is there.
So if you aren’t that type of person, like, that is always, like, I don’t know, maybe you’re a type-A personality.
We get taught right that you have to be correct.
And that’s what people are marking you on or assessing you own or deciding whether you’re not… whether or not you’re clever, smart.
It’s “How many mistakes do you make?” or “How many mistakes do you not make?”.
Whereas, yeah for this, I… a lot of people were telling me all the time they’re like, “You should go and do a course and learn how to be an English teacher.”.
And initially I was like “Oh it’s a really good idea.”.
But now I’m almost like that’s almost like being Picasso or you know.
I’m humbly saying, you know, that you’re an artist and someone saying you should go to art school so you learn how real artists do it.
And for me I feel like it would give me the same way of looking at the world that all the other teachers have.
Whereas, at the moment I’m kind of…
So, that’s your point of differentiation?
I think so, I mean and, you know, maybe it’s half me being lazy.
But you’re curious as well.
So, you’re… it’s not like you’re just talking about things and not following up on them as you said people ask you questions and you want to go and investigate and find out why it’s like that.
Well, yeah I’d be… yeah I’d be terrified that I would come out of a course like that being given the same sort of goggles to see the world as all the other English teachers.
And then you sort of lose a bit of your artistic flair. Yeah like your… I don’t know.
Is anyone else doing, like, Australian podcasts at the moment?
I don’t think so.
At least not in the same way.
And it’s the same for a lot of other languages.
Like, I would love to have a podcast like this in Portuguese.
I would kill for that.
I would listen so much more than I currently am to Portuguese stuff.
But there’s just nothing out there.
And it’s easy to do.
Anyone can do it for any language.
Especially, the hard thing is, I guess, that it’s difficult for minority languages or smaller languages where you would probably get a lot less attention, you know, for say Icelandic or Estonian but the people actively learning those languages would probably flock to you so much more readily because you would be such a rarity in those instances.
Like, if yeah, if there was something for Icelandic, Oh my God, I would be addicted to that stuff. Really?
There’s just no resources for it.
What about… like, what do you see The Aussie English Podcast, like, what do you see it’s… like where’s it going?
I don’t know.
Hopefully, in the same direction. Obviously, I need to… I keep wanting to help people, but I also want to obviously be able to make an income from it.
So, just to keep combining those two.
And the most difficult thing is getting over that fear of asking for money.
I guess, at least that was what I had to overcome a few months ago when I first monetised was realizing that it’s okay to ask for money when you’re providing a service, and a lot of the time the people that are listening to you and who are your fans want to be able to pay you and give you money to help you, but need a reason to.
Yeah, and so, playing with that sort of stuff.
But I think in the near future I’m going to focus a lot more on doing the same as what I’d been doing with the Aussie English Supporter Pack stuff where I try and create and lesson plans for one lesson a week.
Then also creating small courses where they’re really targeted to a specific problem that people have in English. And I probably let the listeners decide.
You know, I’ll put up a poll and say, “What’s… do you need to course on prepositions or phrasal verbs?” and whichever one gets the most votes. But then focus like a laser on solving that problem, and you know, do that month after month, and create courses and sell them on line, and hopefully…SPI (smart passive income) happening in the back(ground).
So that’s the idea and then just keep travelling around and learn languages.
Oh my god!
That is like the dream right?
Yeah that’s it.
I think just to be your own boss and control everything yourself.
I think, yeah, I won’t go into my… but I think I really like that as well, being your own boss and having your own… like having freedom. I think it’s that like… and that’s what, you know, the world is kind of going in that way, like to entrepreneurally focussed and driven and yeah.
I think my ultimate goal is just to be able to travel wherever I want, whenever I want, learn whatever language I want, whenever I want, and be able to teach English via the Internet.
So, you know, you can pretty much do that anywhere there’s an internet connection.
What about your thesis?
Are you going to use that at all?
Well I’m going to hand it in.
I’ll probably publish the papers from it.
I’ve got one at least that’s currently being reviewed and then the next two, they’ll get done pretty quickly.
But I don’t think I will ever have a solid career in science where I have, you know, a nine to five job, five days a week with a boss.
I think if I do any science it will be on my own terms and volunteer.
But I would love to do something where I could potentially donate money from The Aussie English Podcast to say research on endangered Australian animals, and set up a grant where people could apply for it and we could fund, you know, the listeners could effectively give money and we could fund a project and stuff.
It’s that two worlds colliding.
Exactly, well, that’s it, and that’s my unfair advantage, I guess, is the fact that I’m a scientist and a language enthusiast.
So that’s what makes me unique and I just have to find a way to…
Is that what you like to call yourself, “A language enthusiast”?
Yeah I don’t like the word “Polyglot”.
I don’t know.
I feel like that’s a bit… That’s what other people can call you, but you shouldn’t call yourself.
I’m a bit humble and don’t like to toot my own horn so…
Yeah, “Polyglot” is kind of…
I don’t really… I don’t really ever call people that but I guess like people like Sébastian who do speak…
Yeah, that’s crazy. 12 languages. Jesus.
I don’t how my brain would function to be honest.
I would wake up one day and be like…
I think that’s part of the fun, right?
It’s when you realize you can switch in and out of languages.
That with Portuguese, being the third one that I sort of started learning, once I got to the point where I was, you know, somewhat proficient in it it was sort of interesting to be able to have you know Facebook open or Skype open or whatever and have be having these conversations in three different languages at the same time.
Yeah like your brain… I love that.
Just like texting in Spanish.
I’ll be like “Oh Yeah. This is cool” and like…
It’s as impressive to know where your brain can do.
It’s really satisfying.
Can I ask another question?
This may be the last one just ’cause we might have to go and take photos.
Is there anything that you’d like to see changed… like in an Australian context, ’cause, you know, generally… I don’t want to generalise, but a lot of people don’t… you know languages aren’t as…
What’s the word?
Like, “celebrated”, maybe? You know, they just… people just dismiss it, like, “oh it’s just…”.
It’s so… Is there anything you’d like to change?
Like, what… do you have an opinion on that, or?
I don’t know. I guess the difficult part is the fact that Australia is so isolated.
It would be so much easier to justify and to probably rev people up and get them passionate about it if they could… if we had a neighbouring country.
If we had someone next door.
Hold on a second. (There was a person locked outside trying to open a door and come into the museum)
So yeah I think the main problem is that we don’t have a real reason to do it and that’s pressing.
Whereas, obviously, if you live in France and you’re surrounded by, you know, three or four other countries that speak other languages you have a direct reason to.
So, I think it would have to be that you would just be… I would love to see Aboriginal languages embraced. That would be really cool.
If we could find a way of combining local Aboriginal languages being taught at school in order to sort of not just to preserve the Aboriginal languages themselves, but also to spread, you know, cultural awareness.
That would be cool I reckon, especially because you would be going to school on the land where, you know, these Aborigines once lived and thrived and had their own culture.
That would be a lot easier to connect to than say learning Japanese from, you know, a high school classroom in Geelong. As opposed to if you knew, “Oh my God like the name of the river outside our classroom is this in the local indigenous (language)”. I like that.
And they’re doing that in some schools in say the Kimberley.
The Kimberley I know there’s one in the Kimberley’s that they’re teaching… I think they have classes in that language specifically, like, just in that Aboriginal language, and they’re slowly reviving it.
But again the difficult thing is that we have, I think, 260 Aboriginal countries in Australia.
And so, you would have to revive that all over the place for so many different minority groups.
It’s a challenge, but I feel like, I don’t know, with technology and the way that the world is, I guess, going it is easier in a sense.
Not “easier”, but it’s… you know, we have the resources and… We’re in a better position to do it than ever before.
Yeah exactly and you know… I love that. I think that’s really important.
I would love to learn an Aboriginal language.
Yeah me too actually. That would be sweet. I thought of that… I don’t know how I’d go about it.
Well and that’s the difficult, right?
Again, even though it’s… we could do it, there’s just nowhere that, you know you can’t just go to somewhere like Germany where there’s 40 million people who speak that language.
It would be very very very localised and there would be a small minority of people who potentially speak it as a second language let alone a first one, so…
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Just cause I… (have to go).
No, all good.
Thank you for interviewing me.
No, thank you.
So, thanks for listening to this interview episode guys.
I hope you enjoyed it.
If you want to check out more about what Laura’s doing then head over to www.multilingualsofmelbourne.com.
She also has a facebook page.
It’s just www.facebook.com/multilingualsofmelbourne.
I’ll attach the links below.
And yeah, it’s an awesome blog where you get to read all about different people learning languages, in Australia, in Melbourne.
So go and check it out, and say, “G’day from Pete”.
Multi-linguals Of Melbourne
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