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By pete — 2 years ago
In this Aussie English Expression episode I teach you how to use the Australian expression ALL OVER THE SHOP like a native!
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Expression: All over the shop
G’day guys! How’s it going? Welcome to this Expression episode of Aussie English. I hope you guys are all going incredibly well. I hope you’ve had a good week. Obviously, I’ve been up to a few different things this last week or weekend. I’ve been working on the Traveling With Pete episodes, and you may or may not have seen the first one that has come up, that I’ve put up online, Point Lonsdale. So, if you haven’t check that out. There’ll be a link down below. Definitely suss that out, definitely go have a look, definitely go and explore that episode, and definitely give me some feedback on what you guys think of that episode.
So, I made that down near my parents’ place. They live in Ocean Grove, which is a small down that is next to Point Lonsdale and Queenscliff and another one called Barwon Heads. And I sort of went to all of these places and just sort of walked around, checked the place out, showed you guys some of the scenery, took some footage with the camera, and just chatted to you off the top of my head, really. So, as usual, I kind of try and treat you guys as if you were there with me, as if you are chatting with me, as if you’re sitting next to me. I don’t really change how I speak, and I just go through expressions that I use as well when they come up that I think, “Oh, you guys are really going to like this! You’ll really enjoy this expression. You may not know this one. It may be a little difficult. It may be a little stereotypically Australian, too.”. So, there were quite a few good ones in there like SKETCHY, DODGY, SHODDY, and there was one more, SHONKY. So, definitely go check those slang terms out. As well as the expression TO HAVE BUCKLEY’S CHANCE. That’s a really funny one, and I had no idea where that actually originated from until I was walking around the lighthouse in Point Lonsdale and read the sign that was on William Buckley, a man who was in that area and the story’s in the video. So, go and check that out.
So, I won’t get too much into it, but check the video out. It’s pretty long. It’s kind of like a half-hour episode. And tell me what you think of the format. Is it too long? Is it too short? And also the fact that I’ve put up expressions that I use as I speak at the bottom there in this video that I think you guys might need defined or may need spelt out, because I’m very visual as well. I like reading and I understand a lot more if I’m reading what I’m hearing. So, I’ve tried to mix that into the video to help you guys with any of these things you could potentially not know and want to learn. So, check out the Point Lonsdale Traveling With Pete video and let me know what you think.
Anyway, today’s obviously an Expression episode and the expression of the day is ALL OVER THE SHOP. ALL OVER THE SHOP. And so, this is usually used with the verb TO BE beforehand, TO BE ALL OVER THE SHOP. It’s a way of describing something or explaining something. It’s a slightly more slangy version of TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE, and I’ll get through the definitions in a sec. But obviously, to define the words in this expression you’re probably going to know all of them, but SHOP, I might explain, (it) is obviously somewhere you can buy things, somewhere that sells things usually. So, the definition of a shop, if you go to a shop, a bookshop, you buy books, it sells books. That’s a shop.
So, the definition of TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE (SHOP* whoops!) or simply, ALL OVER THE PLACE (SHOP* whoops again!) is, there’s sort of two I might add as well, we’ll go over the first one.
- To be scattered in a lot of different places.
So, if your clothes are thrown all around your room as mine sort of are at the moment I could say that, “The clothes ARE ALL OVER THE SHOP”, or “My bedroom’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.”, “I’m all over the shop.”, everything’s pretty messy. “It’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.
The second definition is:
- To be confused or badly organised.
And this is more when your’e explaining a person. So, if someone has been incredibly clumsy or incredibly forgetful, and usually it refers to this happening repeatedly. So, if someone has forgotten their keys at home or, you know, after that they’ve spilt milk on themselves while they were having breakfast, whatever. I’ll get through some examples in a sec. But it’s that idea of someone who’s forgetful, clumsy. You can say that, “They ARE ALL OVER THE SHOP.”, “That person’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.”.
So we’ll get into some examples.
1: So imagine a driver is driving all over the road, you know. He’s in front of you as you’re driving down the freeway or the highway. So, you’re driving well, you’re in a straight line and this person’s veering from side to side, you know. They’re going out of control. They may still be on the road but they’re kind of like *veering sounds*. And so, you could imagine they’re probably, you know, on drugs, drunk, just a really bad driver, maybe they’re being careless or reckless, clumsy, confused, they don’t know where they’re going, or maybe they’re just being stupid where they’re like *hooning noises*, you could say, you could explain that, that driver, that person in the car as being ALL OVER THE SHOP. And so, it’s that idea, at least for me, of he’s just clumsy, he’s going everywhere, he’s ALL OVER THE PLACE, but you could describe it as he’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.
2: A second example. Imagine a word colleague is having a really bad day at work. So, they’ve shown up late for a meeting. They got to the meeting and then spilt coffee on themselves. They then realised after the meeting it was lunchtime and they’ve forgotten their lunch at home, and not only that but they didn’t finish the work that was due on that day, you know. So, these repeated things happen. They weren’t organised. They were sort of confused or clumsy, disorganised. You could say, “They’RE ALL OVER THE SHOP.”. “This lady’S ALL OVER THE SHOP TODAY.”, “I’M ALL OVER THE SHOP.”, “He’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.”, “That person IS ALL OVER THE SHOP.”.
3: A third example could be that you’ve got a house inspection and the landlord or real estate agent’s coming to inspect the house. And so, you get home after work to clean your house, but there’s stuff everywhere. There’s clothes everywhere. You haven’t done the dishes. The dishes have piled up on the sink, you know, and on the table around the sink. It’s a big mess. You need to sweep, you need to mop, you haven’t cleaned and the guy’s coming over in the next half an hour. If you get home and you’re expecting it to be clean or that your housemates were going to do it or something like that you could say, “I came home to find the house and everything WAS ALL OVER THE SHOP. The house WAS ALL OVER THE SHOP. There was just a massive mess. This place is just, you know, it’S ALL OVER THE SHOP. It’s a total mess.”.
So, that’s pretty much it, guys. Hopefully, you get the sense or the idea and the definition of the phrase TO BE ALL OVER THE SHOP. This is definitely one that’s used a lot in Australian English. I’m not sure if it’s used in America or England, although, I would imagine that most native speakers would gather, they would understand, they would intuit what you were trying to say if you said, “Oh, that guy’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.” or “Your room’s so mess man, it’S ALL OVER THE SHOP.”. Worst case scenario I would just say, fall back on, rely on the phrase TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE. TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE is one that’s definitely used everywhere, but TO BE ALL OVER THE SHOP might be a relatively Australian way of saying TO BE ALL OVER THE PLACE.
So, that’s just one of those little disclaimers in case you guys aren’t that interested in Australian English and are more interested in practicing and learning American English and English English.
Anyway, as usual guys we’ll jump into a substitution exercises where you guys get to think a little bit and try and practice not only your pronunciation but also substituting in the phrase we’ve just learnt for another phrase. So, for example, I’m going to say a sentence in the form of, “I’m disorganised today.”. That’s going to be the first sentence, and then I want you to say the same one but instead of saying, “Disorganised.” I want you to say “ALL OVER THE SHOP”. So, I’ll say first, for instance, “I’m disorganised today, and then you’ll say, “I’M ALL OVER THE SHOP today.”
So, let’s go.
I’m disorganised today.
I’m all over the shop today.
You’re disorganised today.
You’re all over the shop today.
He’s disorganised today.
He’s all over the shop today.
She’s disorganised today.
She’s all over the shop today.
We’re disorganised today.
We’re all over the shop today.
They’re disorganised today.
They’re all over the shop today.
So, listen and repeat that exercise a few times, guys, if it’s a little difficult at first use it as a listen and repeat exercise where you just mimic, you say everything I say as I say it after me. Practice your pronunciation. But then, if you want to get a little more advanced I try and create these exercises as substitution exercises so that you have to think, you have to use English, you have to think, “Oh, what’s the part of the phrase I have to substitute in or out?” in order to actively think and actively use the language even if you’re on your own and not necessarily able to speak with an English native or someone who speaks English there and then on that spot.
So, I love doing these exercises because it also teaches you synonyms, more simple synonyms. So, “Disorganised” is a very simple and easy way of saying TO BE ALL OVER THE SHOP. And so, you obviously connect the two when you do these substitution exercises.
So, anyway, remember to subscribe if you haven’t already. Give me a thumbs up if you like the episode, and try and use this phrase in a comment below on the YouTube video, on Facebook or on the Aussie English website page. And also, come over to Facebook and say hello if you haven’t already.
Anyway, see you next time guys!
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Check out all the other recent Expression episodes below!
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By pete — 10 months ago
AE 426 – Expression: Spit the Dummy
Spit the Dummy, the segment where we involve you the viewer. Last week, I spent the day with myself at a lack of interest from you guys stumping up and offering a view on the program. We’ve now got Crazy Jane who’s out of Melbourne who’s joined us. That is her Twitter call sign, or whatever you call it. Her real name is Marian Dalton. Depending on what you’ve got to say though, I’ll go with either Marion or Crazy Jane. Welcome to the program. Thanks for your company.
Hi Peter. Thanks for having me. So, what do you want to spit the dummy about? What’s your gripe?
My gripe is the way that the media when they’re interviewing the various politicians about the asylum seeker issue don’t challenge them on the notion that offshore processing is the only way.
Guys, you would laugh so much if you saw me right now. I am currently sitting underneath a rug, because I’m trying to mute the echo in this room as much as possible for this episode of Aussie English. But yeah, I thought I would share that with you. I have a rug on my head and it’s also over a chair, and in this little cubby kind of fortressed space I am currently recording this episode.
So, g’day you mob. I hope you are going well. Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, The Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English. Whether you want to learn to understand Australians or whether you want to speak like an Aussie, this is the podcast for you.
So, today I have a ripper of an episode for you, guys. I try to have a ripper of an episode every single week, but today, I can definitely say that I have one ripper of an episode prepared.
So, today’s intro scene, today’s intro scene was from a TV show called The Contrarians, and I found this little clip on YouTube, it’s from Sky News Australia, where they have a segment called Spit the Dummy. Okay? So, it seemed like a good idea to include this segment. So, that a lady has come on to this segment called Spit the Dummy in order to spit the dummy about how the media, when interviewing various politicians about asylum seeker issues, don’t challenge them on their assertion that offshore processing is the only way to deal with asylum seekers.
So, anyway guys we’ll get into that, we’ll get into the expression, and we’ll discuss asylum seekers at the end in today’s Aussie Fact, but there’s a link in the transcript to day for you to go over to the YouTube channel for Sky News Australia and check out the entire clip. So, I recommend that you go and do that.
Don’t forget also guys that you can download the transcript and the MP3 for today’s episode if you would like to study that in your own time, whether it’s on your computer, on your phone, whether you want to print it out and write on it, any of that sort of stuff, you can download it via the website. There will be a link somewhere. You should be able to see it in your podcast app or on the website if you’re using it currently, but you can get those free downloads.
And don’t forget too, that if you would like all the bonus content for today’s episode, to sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. That’s where I form courses from these episodes with lessons, with quizzes, with MP3, exercises, and now videos as well. So, I’m adding to it every week, and if you want to learn Australian English in depth, even faster, I really recommend signing up to the Aussie English Classroom. It’s a one dollar, guys, one dollar for your first month, and it’s what helps me keep the lights on, keep the water coming to the house, and obviously it keeps me in a position to afford rugs to put over my head to record these episodes.
Anyway guys, let’s dive in today’s joke, Aussie joke. Today’s joke. Okay so, how do you put a baby alien to sleep? How do you put a baby alien to sleep? You ‘rocket’. You ‘rocket’.
Alright so, that’s a pun there, guys. That’s a joke. The word ‘rocket’, as in, a shuttle, something that takes off from the planet and goes into outer space. That is what we would expect an alien to be in if they came to earth. We would expect them to be in a rocket. But if you want to put a baby to sleep usually you will ‘rock’ the baby, and this verb means to move from side to side. To gently rock. And so, it’s a pun here guys with the word ‘rocket’, a shuttle, some kind of vehicle for space, and the two words to ‘rock it’, right? ‘Rock it’, as in, rock the thing from side to side.
How do you put a baby alien to sleep? You rocket.
Alright. So, today’s expression, guys, is ‘to spit the dummy’, ‘to spit the dummy’. So, I wonder if you guys have ever heard this expression before. It’s a pretty common one here in Australia. My dad used to use this expression on me all the time as a kid any time I would get upset, he would say that I was spitting the dummy. But we’ll go through the definition for the expression after we describe the words in the expression. Okay.
So, the verb ‘to spit’, the verb ‘to spit’. ‘To spit’ or ‘to spit something’ is to eject something from a mouth. Okay? So, usually, this will be a person, for example, or some kind of animal, with a mouth, and if it spits something out of its mouth, it’s that it has ejected that thing out of its mouth. So, I could spit saliva out of my mouth, you know? A cobra, a snake, could spit venom. And a volcano could spit lava. Okay? So, that’s ‘to spit’.
‘A dummy’. ‘A dummy’ can be several things. ‘A dummy’ can be a model or replica of a human being. So, for instance, if you’re doing CPR on a practice replica of a human, CPR as in you are doing… I can’t remember what that stands for, but you’re trying to resuscitate the person… I think it’s Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. So, you’re trying to breathe air into that person or you’re pushing on the person’s chest to make their heart inflate and deflate, to pump blood around. So, if it’s a model, that’s ‘a dummy’. You’re playing with the dummy person.
But ‘dummy’ can also be an object designed to resemble and serve as a substitute for the real thing, for the usual thing. Okay? So, it’s anything that can be used to substitute something else.
But in the case of, I guess, a baby and this expression, ‘a dummy’ is a pacifier. It is the plastic, the soft plastic, thing that resembles a woman’s nipple, you know? when babies are breastfeeding, they like to suck on the woman’s nipple in order to drink the milk, but a dummy is that soft plastic thing that resembles a nipple that the baby can suck on to stay calm. Okay? That is ‘a dummy’, and Americans call that ‘a pacifier’.
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Expression Definition & Origin:
Alright, guys, so the expression ‘to spit the dummy’. I think this is very Australian, and, okay so, if you use this with Americans or British people they may need an explanation as to what you mean, but it’s very common here in Australia. You’ll see it in the media. You’ll see it on TV.
‘To spit the dummy’ means to behave in a bad-tempered or petulant way. So, to suddenly lose your temper. And it’s often used to infantilise someone, to liken someone to a baby getting upset. So, you have to be careful when you use this, because you’re likening them to being a child getting upset. So, it kind of trivialises the thing, the issue, over which they’re getting upset. So, journos and pollies will often use this expression, journalists and politicians, they’ll use ‘to spit the dummy’ when referring to people they don’t like or other politicians, usually in order to trivialise or infantilise what it is they’re getting upset about, to say it’s childish, okay? ‘To spit the dummy’: to suddenly lose your temper in a petulant kind of way.
So, you’ll also see other expressions similar to this one like ‘a dummy spitter’, and that is someone who spits the dummy. That is ‘a dummy spitter’.
Or ‘a dummy spit’, which is the action of spitting the dummy. The reason for which or that that series of events where you have spat the dummy, that is ‘a dummy spit’.
So, a dummy spitter can spit the dummy, and when they do so, it’s called a dummy spit.
Alright so, the origin of this expression is probably pretty obvious to you guys. If you spit the dummy, it’s obviously a colourful expression that invokes an image of a baby getting upset, so upset that it spit its dummy out of its mouth so it can cry and howl incredibly loudly to get everyone’s attention. So, it makes it a fun way to describe an adult losing his or her temper.
So, as usual guys, let’s go through some examples of how I would use this expression.
So, example number one, imagine that you are literally a baby, you’re a baby, you’re getting upset. Maybe you’ve got gas, maybe you can’t reach a toy, or maybe you want to be fed, or you need a nappy changed. You’re a baby and you’re getting upset. If you suddenly lose your temper and get upset and start to cry, it’s that you’re spitting the dummy. You could be doing this literally where you have a dummy in your mouth, and you have to spit that dummy out, spit it out of your mouth in order to cry. So, you’re literally spitting the dummy. But if you don’t have the dummy in your mouth, it’s figurative. You’re getting upset. You’re spitting the dummy. Okay? And if you do this quite often, your parents might consider you a dummy spitter, and they might ask, “What was the reason that he spat the dummy? What was the dummy spit over? What was the reason for it?”.
Example number two. Okay, imagine that you are a lawyer. You’re a woman working in a law firm. So, you’re vying for a new job. You want a new position at this law firm. There’s a promotion coming up or something like that, it’s available. But there’s only a single position and there’s many different lawyers going for this spot. They’re all competing. If you don’t get this promotion or this position, but you think that you easily were the best candidate and you should have definitely beat everyone else, you might get upset and you might get angry, and if you do this in a bit of a childish manner, you’ve spat the dummy. You’ve spat the dummy because you didn’t get the job. So, you’re acting like a bit of a child. Your boss might get annoyed. He might say, “I think you’re spitting the dummy a bit, you know? You’re getting upset. You’re being a bit childish. You’re spitting the dummy.”. He might say too, “There’s no need to spit the dummy. Don’t be a dummy spitter!”.
Alright example number three, guys. Imagine that you are a kid opening your presents on Christmas Day. So, it’s Chrissie and you’re opening your prezzies. Some good Aussie slang for you there, guys. ‘Chrissy’ and ‘prezzies’. And you’re really hoping for a new bike. So, you’re hoping that Santa has brought you a new bike. He’s wrapped it up in some paper, he’s put it under the Christmas tree, and you’re opening it on Christmas Day, but you find out it’s not a bike. So, you lose your temper, because you didn’t get what you wanted from Santa or from your parents. So, if you spit the dummy, your parents might say to you, “Don’t be so selfish. Don’t be ungrateful. Don’t overreact.”. They’ll say, “Don’t spit the dummy! You might get a bike for your birthday, but if he keeps spitting the dummy like this, you definitely won’t. And Santa doesn’t bring good gifts to kids who spit the dummy. (There’s) No reason to spit the dummy.”.
All right guys good job. So, by now, I hope you understand the expression ‘to spit the dummy’. It’s Australian slang, and remember that it means to behave in a bad-tempered or petulant way, so kind of childish, or suddenly losing your temper, alright? And remember that if you use this on someone it is somewhat infantilising, okay? It makes them seem like they’re being a child.
So, as usual, let’s go through the listen and repeat exercise, guys, and then we’ll go through the Aussie Fact. So, listen and repeat exercise guys is where you can practice your pronunciation. So, find somewhere quiet, away from everyone, and listen and repeat after me. Try and practice your Aussie English pronunciation. Okay, so listen and repeat. Let’s go.
Listen & Repeat:
To spit the
To spit the dummy x 5
Now let’s conjugate the phrase ‘to be going to spit the dummy’ through all the different pronouns, and focus on the pronunciation and connected speech that I use here, guys, okay? Let’s go!
I’m going to spit the dummy
You’re going to spit the dummy
He’s going to spit the dummy
She’s going to spit the dummy
We’re going to spit the dummy
They’re going to spit the dummy
It’s going to spit that dummy
Great job, guys. Well done. Remember that if you would like to learn how to use the connected speech and other aspects of pronunciation from today’s listen and repeat exercise, then sign up to the Aussie English Classroom. There’s some cool stuff happening with muted consonants and contractions of “going to” becoming “gonna”. So, if you enroll, you’ll see the video that I will create showing you step by step how to pronounce all of these things like a native, and each video at the moment is about 10 minutes long. So, they’re really, really helpful.
Anyway guys, the Aussie Fact for today. The Aussie Fact was about asylum seekers, which they were talking about in the intro scene to today’s episode. So, this is a bit of a contentious issue in Australia. There’s a lot of heated debate and discussion about this by politicians, by the public, in the media. And so, I thought it would be something cool to talk about to give you some insight into Australia, okay, and why we talk about these things.
So, what’s the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? Let’s start with that.
A refugee is a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war persecution or natural disaster.
An asylum seeker is a refugee who is seeking asylum in another country, and in order to be successful, they have to show the reason they were forced from the country was due to reasons such as race, religion, nationality, or political opinions. So, this is according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.
Australia actually accepts and settles quite a few refugees. We’re in the top three countries in the world. The US accepted and settled about 100,000 last year, Canada’s accepted almost 50,000, and Australia was close to 30,000 people. So, on a per capita basis too, as a percentage of its small population, Australia actually settles more refugees than any other country in the world. That shocked me. I didn’t realise that when I was researching this.
So, refugees brought in by the government on its own terms, the support for them is second to none. They receive some of the best support in the world with regards to health care, counselling, education, and financial aid in Australia.
So, what’s the problem? Every year thousands of people try to enter Australia illegally, and many of these people do so via boat through places like Indonesia. The boats are often incredibly old or dodgy, and sometimes they’re only meant to make it one way in order to prevent being forced to travel back.
These people are smuggled. So, they’re smuggled by organised criminal gangs who make exorbitant amounts of money through the fees that they charge these poor refugees for their trip to places like Australia with no necessary promise of actually arriving here, let alone being able to stay here. This is known as human smuggling or human trafficking.
The Howard Government, which was the government in Australia in the mid-to-late 90s and early 2000s, had a strict set of border protection policies, which were dismantled by the following government, The Rudd Government, after they came to power in the early 2000s. As a result of this, 51,000 illegal maritime arrivals occurred, which included about 8,500 children, and out of this 51,000 people, about 1,200, so 1,200, died at sea, hundreds of which were children. So, there was about a 1 in 50 chance that you would die on the trip across the ocean in this time if you were an asylum seeker coming by boat.
So, due to the outcry from the public, when the Conservative Liberal government took power again in, I think, it was about 2013, they brought through some much stricter border protection policies, and this was called Operation Sovereign Borders. So, this included military ocean patrols that turn back any boat that is discovered coming to Australia in the ocean between, usually between Indonesia and Australia, as well as offshore processing for those who do arrive in Australia. And that means that even if they get here, their application for asylum is processed outside of Australia on small neighbouring islands including places like Christmas Island, Manus Island, and Nauru Island.
So, the idea with these policies was to stop people dying at sea, to stop people entering Australia illegally, and to sort of show that if you wanted to come to Australia you couldn’t jump the queue. You couldn’t be a queue jumper. You had to do so by legal means like all of the other refugees and immigrants coming to Australia. So, it was meant to show that you could not successfully get to Australia by boat, and even if you did get here, you would be processed offshore and settled in a country other than Australia. And the idea here too would be that families going through this process would pass the word on to other people in their home countries and eventually criminal gangs would stop having people to smuggle and it would all fall apart. Okay? So, that was the basic idea with how the current government has set up their border policies.
So, offshore processing, let’s chat a bit about that. This has been incredibly controversial as many people in these facilities, on offshore islands, have been there for years now. They don’t know when they’re going to leave, and they don’t know if or when they’re going to be accepted into a country. They’re living in slum-like conditions in foreign countries where the local people often don’t want them there, and they may experience racism, and they are also suffering from mental and physical health issues, and a lot of them have been self-harming. And the most disturbing part about this is the fact that a lot of children in these places as well and are self-harming.
So, that’s the controversy, guys. That’s the issue around asylum seekers in Australia. I don’t know what the answer is, but my thoughts are that I’m not opposed to immigration. Far from it. Obviously, I’m teaching English to foreigners hoping to come to Australia or who already live here. My family immigrated here from England. They weren’t here originally, obviously, we’re not aboriginals, but with the original group of colonisers who came to Australia, we were not in that group of people. But I think in order to be fair to those past immigrants who went through the legal process of immigration and coming to Australia, as well as those going through it now and those who will go through it in the future, Australia needs to be tough on queue jumpers, people trying to sneak in fast and jump over everyone else in the queue.
So, we also need to be able to control our borders too for the sake of security. We need to know who is coming into the country, why they’re coming in, and whether the reason for which they’re coming in is just.
However, I do agree that the current set up with the offshore processing is really screwed up and that, although, no lives are being lost at sea, at least reportedly by the government, it’s not the greatest set up, and offshore treatment of asylum seekers is incredibly cruel and brutal, and needs to be rethought.
Anyway guys, that’s enough for me to day, but I would love to know from you, what do you think about the asylum seeker issue in Australia? Is it too strict or is it appropriate? Let me know in a comment on the website or on Facebook.
And until next time, guys, I hope you have an amazing week. Chat soon. See ya!
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By pete — 3 years ago
In this episode of Walking With Pete I talk to you guys about two introduced pest species in Australia, rabbits and foxes, as well as the unrealistic language learning expectations many English natives tell me they have when I ask them why they don’t learn a foreign language.
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Walking With Pete: Rabbits, Foxes & Unrealistic Language Learning Expectations
G’day guys. Welcome to this episode… ooh!
G’day guys and welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today I’m out in the park standing in a bit of a, sort of, a ditch. Not a ditch, but a big sort of drop in the land to try and get a little cover from the… from the wind. There’s a whole heap of wind today, and I wanted to go out for a walk but um… realised I couldn’t really record very well without getting a whole heap of “shhhh” kind of sound in the background whilst trying to record the episode. So, I found a little hidden away um… area that kind of dips down away from the wind next to the hospital. So, it’s acting as a windbreak. And, I thought I’d come and stand near these trees where there were a lot of lorikeets but as soon as I started recording the episode they just flew off. So, you’re not going to hear them squeaking in the background unfortunately. But there’s a whole heap of animals here at the moment. There’s a whole heap of magpies and some other birds sitting on the ground, look for worms and other insects, other animals. And there was also a rabbit just running around, which is kind of weird. You don’t really see rabbits around in Australia during the day. They’re an introduced pest species. So, I think they’re a massive massive problem, or at least they were a massive massive problem in the past, especially for farmers because they would… they would dig up a lot of areas and make what are called “rabbit warrens”, and a rabbit warren is the… it’s the name that um… we give their little homes that they create like mounds of dirt full of holes, like dig… they dig burrows in the ground, and that’s a warren. They create the warrens to live in. And so, yeah. Rabbits are a massive problem here in Australia and they’re out of control. And partly… part of the problem is that Australia cleared a lot of land in the last century or two centuries, the last 200 years. We’ve cleared a lot of land to create ah… grazing areas. So, areas and fields for… for animals, domesticated animals as well as farm animals, to live on and for us to grow them and farm them on, especially cows and sheep. They’re two of the biggest um… probably two of the biggest… Hopefully you can hear this magpie singing. Bit of wind. This male magpie has come right down next to me and is singing in the background. Um… yeah so we have a lot of cows and sheep. They’re probably two of the largest um… livestock animals that are farmed here in Australia. And… two other birds fighting. And because we’ve cleared so much land to grow these animals on, to graze them on, so that there’s a lot of grass for them to eat, as a result of doing this there’s a lot of land for rabbits to dig up and turn into warrens. And so, they’ve… they’ve sort of exploded in numbers as soon as they were introduced here by the English when they first arrived in Australia as a food source. So, the English brought the rabbits here and let them go as a source of food. So, that they could go and hunt the rabbits, and then bring them back and eat them. And as a result the rabbits soon, you know, spread across the entire continent of Australia and became a massive pest species, because not only did they sort of follow the farm land that was cleared, and then, you know, do really well on the farm land that was clear, but they also… they also pushed a lot of other species that were in that same niche. So, other species that dug burrows. The rabbits would sort of take that… that niche, that area, and push out native species. So, a lot of other native species had to either, you know, were displaced. They had to move and find other homes, and eventually ran out of homes to find. Or yeah, they were just directly outcompeted. And another problem was that foxes were also introduced about the same time. Foxes are the… they Australian ah… introduced fox species is the um… I think it’s just that red fox that you get from Europe. And that was introduced, again, from England, from Europe, as a species for us to hunt. So, they have fox hunts in the UK still, I think, today where they get on horses and they have hounds, and they, you know, let a fox go or they just go and hunt a fox and find one and then kill it. They did that here in Australia but as a result, just like the rabbits, the foxes just went off and, you know, escaped into the wild, went and bred, and pretty much took over the entire continent. So, we have not only a massive rabbit issue here in Australia as an introduced pest species that does a lot of damage to the land, but we also have a massive problem with introduced foxes, and um… The problem with foxes is that they kill off, as well, a lot of native species giving rabbits um… you know, an open niche to fill. So, they were… the rabbits were no longer competing with native Australian species that foxes were killing, um… and yeah the foxes were also hunting the rabbits. So, there’s this massive problem in Australia with introduced species. That’s you’re, you know, few minute little introduction to rabbits and foxes in Australia. Anyway, rabbits are normally nocturnal. We mostly see them at night on the roads and out and about, and it’s pretty pretty rare to see them during the day. So, that’s why I was shocked when I walked down here and there were a few rabbits um… chilling out underneath a uh… underneath a little bridge here eating grass. Um… and it’s like 2 o’clock in the afternoon. So I was pretty surprised.
Anyway, today one of the things I wanted to cover and chat to you guys about was the misconception that I think a lot of adults have with regards to language learning and how difficult it is at a… at an older age. So, one of the things that most people tell me when I ask them, especially other Australians, why you haven’t learnt another language, or what’s preventing you from learning another language? A lot of the time they tell me that it’s only young people, it’s only babies, it’s only very young children that are gifted at learning languages, and once you get to a certain age, you know, 20, 30, 40, whatever age they state, they normally say that it’s just too hard, you know. We don’t have the memory for it. We won’t be able to remember grammar rules or vocabulary. And I think… I think that’s a real misconception. I don’t think that… I don’t think we’re… we’re worse than children at learning languages. In fact, I would argue that we could be better, considered better, than learning languages than children in certain ways. Because one, children don’t have another language, when they’re learning their first language, to compare that language they’re learning to. So for instance, if you’re learning Australian English and you speak another language like French or Portuguese you get to learn English in the… in the context of your native language. So, you don’t have to learn from scratch what a language is, how a language works, what grammar is, how grammar works. And there’s often going to be quite a few similarities between the languages and, you know, I can’t imagine ever learning a foreign language and not comparing it to your native language as you learn it, and I imagine that it’s a big help to be able to compare your native language to the language you’re learning, you know. If… if not just that so much in so as to, learn the grammar but also because there’s going to be a lot of words and other things that are similar, if not the same, in languages. Granted that it would depend on the languages you’re learning. You know. If you’re learning English and you already speak German there’re going to be a lot of similarities, whereas, if you speak Chinese and you’re learning English then there’s undoubtedly going to be very few similarities in comparison. But also I think people have a misconception with regards to learning vocabulary, and they have an unrealistic expectation that they’ll learn a word once and they’ll remember it. And I think… I think this is garbage. I don’t think are like this. I don’t think adults are like this. The human brain doesn’t work like that. I think if you… if you want to learn something and you want to be able to remember something, you effectively have to prove to your brain, you have to show your brain that it’s worth remembering. And by learning it once that is not enough for your brain to say, “OK, this is important and I need to remember this thing forever, or at least for a long period of time.” It’s just like names. I feel like if you go to a party and you try and learn everyone’s names there and then, no matter how important the people are if you only learn, if you only hear their name once it’s very unlikely that you’re going to remember the person’s name. At least, this is what I’m like, you know, in my experience it’s very difficult for me to remember someone’s name until I’ve met them a few times or heard their name repeated a few times, or said it to myself a few times, I’m not likely to remember it. And I feel like it is exactly the same with languages. You have to keep exposing yourself to the things that you want to learn again and again and again in order to effectively prove to your brain, prove to your… to your mind that the thing that you’re trying to learn is worth remembering. You have to show your brain that this is important. I’m going to use this on a daily basis, on a weekly basis. It’s information that I need to know. And, if our brains didn’t work this way, you know, we would remember every single little bit, every single piece of information that ever went into our heads. And, I think that would be a nightmare, you know, imagine. People with photographic memories don’t often talk about the fact that they have a photographic memory as being a very pleasant thing particularly when it comes to things they see or things they hear. All those kinds of things that you want to forget you don’t have the ability to forget. And I think that what the brain is useful… the brain is good in that respect because anything that isn’t useful it turfs. It deletes. It’s kind of like your computer removing any files that you didn’t use within the last week. So, you’ve got to keep proving, say, to your computer that you’re… the only files the computer’s going to keep are going to be the ones that you use, and every other file on your computer that you don’t use within a certain period of time it just erases. Those kinds of computers would be probably a lot more efficient, or at least a lot more useful, and in terms of me at least, because I know I build up a lot of garbage on there and take up a lot of space, and then I have to go through and remove, you know, large swathes of files and movies and all sorts of things that I’ve saved. So, our brains are kind of like that where we only save the things that are really important, you know. Brain space is important, and it’s a lot better for us to only keep the things that really matter, that we’re going to use, that we need, than to keep every single little thing that we ever walk past, that we ever see, that we ever hear, that we ever talk about. And so, I feel like that’s the thing. Coming back to adults and learning languages, part of the reason people think language learning is so difficult is because they have an unrealistic expectation that when you’re an adult you should be able to remember, you should be able to learn things, you should be able to do things at sort of an expert level right from the get go. Right from the start, you know. There’s no… there should be no process of learning, effectively. I feel like a lot of people have… they should… they feel like they need to get things straight away. And, it’s just not the case. I think a lot of adults forget what it’s like being a child, you know. When you’re a child you are learning everything. There’s nothing that you’ve mastered, you know. Especially under the age of 10. You’re learning every single thing that you come up against, that you… you try and do whether it’s learning languages, riding bikes, learning math, learning to walk or run. All of those things you have to learn. And so, I think children just have the expectation that they’re not going to be good at anything as soon as they start it. Whereas, adults by the time they get to a mature age of 30, 40, 50, they are undoubtedly certain things in their life that they’ve mastered. And then they kind of have that unrealistic expectation of being able to rapidly master something new, or think that, you know, it’s going to be too hard to master because it’s taken them 50 years to get to where they are with whatever other things they’re… they’ve mastered. But yeah, I think if we take a step back and you just remember that there’s nothing wrong with being a beginner… you are always going to have trouble learning something from scratch. You… you just have to take your time, apply yourself, and keep using the stuff that’s important, and eventually you’ll remember it, eventually you’ll get better at it. It’s a process of strengthening neural pathways in your head so that you remember certain things and you can use them rapidly, and it doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time. So, don’t be stressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself to native speakers when you’re thinking about learning English, you know, they’ve had decades and decades and decades. The same with children. When you compared yourself to children who are learning a language, these children have 12+ hours a day for, you know, the better part of 10, maybe 12 years, of exposure to the language they’re learning before they can even hold a mature conversation with an adult. And the difference is for adults it could take you maybe 6 months, maybe a year, before you get to a point of learning a foreign language where you could have a mature adult conversation. So, if you compare that to a child it takes them a great deal longer to ever get to the same extent… you could probably learn 10 languages to a high level, um… you know, still be making mistakes, not be perfect, but be able to have mature conversations with native speakers, in the time that it would take one child from birth to get to the same level in their native language.
So, anyway, the podcast episode walking with Pete has probably gotten a bit long today, but that was what I wanted to talk about, I wanted to sort of chat to you about, not having unrealistic expectations when it comes to learning languages, and don’t be hard on yourself. Forget, forget, forget, forget until you remember. If you keep finding that you’re forgetting something just keep using it and eventually you won’t forget it. Some things you’ll remember straight away, some things you might have to read and use 10 times, 100 times. If it’s useful and if you need to know it, if you use it every single day in conversation, you will eventually remember it. So, don’t stress out. Keep persisting, and you can’t lose. Just aim to be better tomorrow than you were yesterday. Anyway guys, that’s probably long enough and it’s starting to rain. So, I hope you have a good one and I’ll chat to you soon!
As a result of…
- As a consequence, issue, or conclusion.
Not only… but
- used to present two related pieces of information
- A role taken by a type of organism within its community.
- To surpass in a competitive situations.
An open niche to fill
- A niche is a function or position of a species within an ecological community. An open niche in a community is a function or position that is not currently filled but could be.
To chill out
- To be relaxing; to be hanging out.
- To say.
In the context of…
- With regards to; when considering…
- From the beginning.
- Even assuming that…
When it comes to…
- As for…; When speaking about…
To turf (out)
- To throw out; to discard.
In terms of…
- With regard to a particular aspect or subject specified.
Swathes of something
- A lot of; a heap of; many.
Coming back to…
- Returning to the specific point.
Right from the get go
- Right from the start or beginning.
To be the case
- To be the point.
To come up against
- To confront; to face.
To take a step back
- To pause in an activity and consider what to do next.
To happen overnight
- To happen very quickly.
To the same extent
- To a similar or identical degree.
To stress out
- To suffer from high levels of stress.
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