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18 minutes | Aug 31, 2020
047 – The robots are coming. Are you ready?
A study predicts that all human tasks could be automated in the next 30 years. And that all human jobs might be replaced within the next 100 years or so. Holy crap! What will we do when the robots take over? A.I. is coming. The robots are coming. But are we ready? In this Real English conversations podcast from Better at English, Lori and her American friend Will talk about their questions and concerns about the rise of A.I. (Artificial intelligence) and the automation of human labor. You can find the full transcript in my archive of English conversation transcripts for language learners. Additional resources and supplementary material Humans need not apply Video about how automation and A.I. will affect the job market for humans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pq-S557XQU Robots will beat humans at every task https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/06/this-is-when-robots-will-start-beating-humans-at-every-task-ae5ecd71-5e8e-44ba-87cd-a962c2aa99c2 Traffic death statistics https://www.cdc.gov/injury/features/global-road-safety/index.html Dirty, Dirty robots. Funny (but still disturbing) video about A.I. from comedian Lee Camp https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HyfxP6ZyNtw Link to original Yale / Oxford study about A.I. This is for learners of academic English. People in the videos about A.I. summarize findings from this study. This is the actual academic study for comparison. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1705.08807.pdf Elon musk on the Joe Rogan podcast, talking about A.I. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ra3fv8gl6NE Elon Musk’s talk at SXSW https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-Osn1gMNtw Ted talk with neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nt3edWLgIg Sam Harris on the Joe Rogan Podcast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BChxQHyFIOI&t=1487s TED talk by Peter Haas A robot designer who is afraid of robots The Real Reason to be Afraid of Artificial Intelligence https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRzBk_KuIaM How frightened should be be of A.I.? Article in the New Yorker, free, with full text and audio so you can read along as you listen. https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/how-frightened-should-we-be-of-ai Video about delivery robots https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ujzjZuhE92g
4 minutes | Aug 29, 2020
Pre listening information for Real English Conversations 047
Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from better at English dot com. This little update is just to let you know that new Real English Conversations are coming. I know you love the conversations, and I do love making them for you, but they are quite a lot of work, let me tell you! In fact, I just invested in some fancy new recording equipment that’s going to make it much easier for me to record and transcribe the conversations in the future. Because hey, let’s face it, what good is a conversation episode with out a transcript that you can use to learn from? The first new conversation is coming in the next couple of days, and I’m letting you know in advance because I think you’ll get more benefit from the conversation if you can familiarize yourself with the general topic before you listen. “Hey Lori, what’s the topic?” Oh yeah, what’s the topic? You’ll be hearing me and an American friend talk about AI, or artificial intelligence, and the automation of human labor. Yes, the robots are coming and – whether we like it or not – a lot of the work that humans are doing now, a lot of our jobs, our skills, will be replaced by machines and artificial intelligence. How are we going to deal with that as a society? Where will we find our sense of value and purpose when we don’t have to work anymore? And how will we make a living in the first place? How will we put a roof over our heads and put food on the table? These are some of the things you’ll hear us discuss. You won’t think I’m so cute when I take your job. And in the conversation we mention some videos and other things that we’ve seen online. And that’s not so fun for you if you haven’t seen the video yourself and have no idea what we’re talking about. So I’ve put the links to these in the show notes for this episode, and if you check out the background material in advance, you’ll be on the same page with us as you listen to the conversation. You won’t be left in the dark, scratching your head, when you hear us mention the videos. So I highly encourage you to take the next couple of days and get familiar with some of these materials so you’ll get more out of the conversation when I post it next time. That’s all for this time…I’ll see you soon with a brand new, fresh, juicy, delightful and delicious real English conversation. Unless I’m replaced by a robot before then. Oh, wait. How do you know I’m not already a robot now…seriously, how would you know? Woo! Scary question. Anyway, as always, you can find me at www.betteratenglish.com if you want to leave a comment, send an email, or leave me a voice message. I love getting voice messages from you so I can hear you show off your beautiful English. You can do all of that from my website. Until next time, here’s wishing you an inspired and productive day. Bye for now. Funny (but still disturbing) video about AI by a comedian Dirty Dirty Robots Facts, figures and big questions about what will happen when machines and AI take over our jobs Humans need not apply Article and short video about some predictions related to Artificial Intelligence and automation This is when robots will start beating humans at every task For learners of academic English – here is the original study by researchers at Oxford and Yale. This is the study that the people in the videos talk about. When will AI exceed human performance?
12 minutes | Aug 18, 2020
046 – Five American English slang expressions
Hey there English learners, Lori here, your teacher from BetterAtEnglish.com. I’ve got a different type of episode here for you today. I’m gonna go through some American English slang expressions, some really common ones that you hear all the time if you’re watching American English sitcoms or dramas on TV or Netflix. They’re ones that have been in use for quite a few years, and that you hear people in a wide range of ages using. So it’s not just super new ones that are just used by teenagers and younger people. They’re a lot more, I think, general and for me that means there are a lot more useful. So I hope that you will enjoy this episode. It’s a bit scary for me because it’s different from what I normally give you. But, you know, when I think about it, I’m always encouraging you to try new things with your English learning and to risk embarrassment, to risk failure. So all I can do is try to lead by example and hope that you enjoy this episode. The expressions we’re going to look at are: – Oh my god – that sucks – tell me about it – to bomb, and = bummer / bummed / to bum someone out You can find the full transcript for this episode at https://podcast.betteratenglish.com/transcripts If you benefit from this episode, please consider leaving a review (or at least some stars) :-) Take the quiz Please go to 046 – Five American English slang expressions to view the test
8 minutes | Aug 9, 2020
045 – Stupid English grammar rules – is it OK to break them?
The data is clear: some English grammar rules are stupid. Is it ever OK to make a grammar “mistake” on purpose? Is it ever OK to know a grammar rule and break it anyway, even when you know that some people will strongly disapprove? In this episode I talk about English grammar rules that (I and many people think) are stupid, and discuss whether or not it’s OK to break them. You’ll also hear a short extract from a podcast by Scott Adams, a well known cartoonist and professional writer, talking about breaking a grammar rule on purpose. His opinion might surprise you! And you’ll also learn the (somewhat vulgar and offensive) slang term douchebag, and hear a really great example of how it’s used in context. “Hey Lori, what’s a douchebag?” I hear you asking. Listen to the episode and find out! If you enjoy the show it would totally make my day if you could leave a review or at least some stars on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or basically, anywhere you can leave a review. I’m not picky! It’s an easy thing you can do that would mean the world to me. You can find the full transcript of this episode online and as a downloadable PDF at https://podcast.betteratenglish.com/045-stupid-english-grammar-rules-transcript
11 minutes | Aug 2, 2020
044 – A very embarrassing mistake
Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Better at English dot com. It’s story time here today, something I don’t think I’ve done here on the podcast before. I’m going to use natural English, but will try to speak just a little more carefully than I normally would, so that more people can follow along. You can find the full transcript of everything I say on my website: www.betteratenglish.com/transcripts Today I’ve been thinking about mistakes, mainly how the fear of making mistakes in English really holds some learners back. Believe me, I know how this feels. I’ve made plenty of embarrassing mistakes myself in my target languages. Luckily, most of the time I’m able to just laugh them off, and they don’t really get me into trouble. But sometimes mistakes lead to a total breakdown of communication. And that’s no fun at all. I thought you might like to hear about one of my more memorable mistakes, a mistake that actually caused a real problem and made me feel super embarrassed. It happened over 30 years ago, (yes, I’m that old) but it taught me such an important lesson about language learning that I still remember it to this day. So let me take you back over thirty years, to my first year living in Sweden. I think I’d been living there for about nine months when this happened. I’d been trying to learn Swedish since I arrived, and by then I was able to understand a fair amount. I think I could speak without too much difficulty about general, everyday things. I still made tons of mistakes, for sure, but they didn’t really cause problems. That is, until this one particular day. Here’s the situation: I needed to make a doctor’s appointment for some kind of check-up. I can’t remember what it was for; I just remember that it wasn’t for anything urgent. It was early in April, maybe April third or fourth. I picked up the phone and called the doctor’s office to make an appointment. It was scary. I’d never made a phone call like that in Swedish before. I was worried that I would embarrass myself by making terrible mistakes or just not understanding, and that I would end up having to try to do it in English. Most people in Sweden speak English, which is one of the reasons I wasn’t learning faster. But I was determined to make this appointment in Swedish, gosh darn it! Despite my worries, it seemed to go well. The doctors’ assistant answered, and I was able to explain what I needed and make an appointment for April 18th at 9 a.m., that’s nine o’clock in the morning. I hung up feeling pretty proud of myself: this was the first time I’d ever made a phone call like this in Swedish — calling a total stranger to make an appointment — and I didn’t have to use any English at all. It felt like a real sign of progress! I got out my calendar, found April 18th and wrote: Dr’s appointment, 9 am. I was a bit annoyed that I would have to wait two weeks for my appointment, but like I said, it wasn’t urgent. I closed my calendar and went on with my day, feeling very pleased with myself about my successful phone call in Swedish. Now….Fast forward to 3 or 4 days later, April 8th just after 9 am. I was at home in my little apartment, drinking coffee and getting ready to go to the gym when the phone rang. I picked up the phone, hoping that it would be something nice — maybe a friend calling to find out if we could do something fun that day, I don’t know. But it wasn’t. It was someone from the doctor’s office, a woman who sounded mildly annoyed, calling to find out why I hadn’t shown up for my appointment. That was a shock to me, because I thought my appointment was not for another 10 days, on the 18th. I couldn’t imagine that I’d written down the wrong day by mistake. “Are you sure?” I asked her. “I thought it was on the 18th…that’s almost two weeks from now.” And then it hit me: today was the 8th. The words for eighth and eighteenth sound quite similar in Swedish if, like me at the time, you haven’t developed your ear so well. So the person who I had spoken to before had said the eighth, but I had understood — and written down — the eighteenth. It was a stupid, basic mistake on my part. It was so embarrassing. I was mortified. Swedes are very punctual, and it’s really bad form to be late to appointments, and even worse to just not show up. Thankfully, the secretary was very kind about it. When she realized how embarrassed I was about my stupid mistake, her annoyance vanished. We made a new appointment, checking very carefully that I really understood the time and date. We did this by saying not only the date, but the name of the day. For example, “Thursday April 20th” instead of just “the 20th.” She also said that she wouldn’t charge me the normal fee they charge when people don’t show up, because she could tell that it had been an honest mistake. That was a relief, because I was living on a student loan at the time and really needed every bit of money just to get by. So, why am I telling you this story? Because it taught me a really important lesson about mistakes in language learning. We all hate making mistakes. We fear making mistakes, and I am no exception. But this experience taught me that not all mistakes are equal. Not all mistakes cause a total breakdown of communication. Not all mistakes have real-world consequences. People can overlook all kinds of mistakes. Grammar mistakes, odd choices of vocabulary, having to invent your own vocabulary or put words together in strange ways because that’s all the language you have, that’s all fine. You can still communicate and connect with people even when you make loads of mistakes. But then there are mistakes that can cause trouble. In my experience, some of the most serious mistakes are when you mix up numbers, letters, dates and times. These are mistakes that can really cause problems. Some classic examples in English are mixing up Tuesday and Thursday, mixing up teens and tens, for example thirteen and thirty, ninety and nineteen. And then there’s other time expressions like next Wednesday vs. this Wednesday. And don’t even get me started on one of the most confusing ones: saying “half seven” or “half four” in English for times of the day. In British English, “half seven” is short for “half past seven” or 7.30. But in Swedish and I believe German and Dutch as well, “half seven” means 6.30, not 7.30. That’s grounds for some real confusion if, say, a Brit and a Swede are arranging to meet at “half seven” in English. And let’s not forget the basic alphabet. Sometimes we need to spell out important things like email addresses. For instance, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org . There are many ways to spell Lori. I can spell out my name for you, but if I say L O R I and you write L O R Y, I’ll never get your email. And yes, this has happened to me many times and caused a lot of frustration when I’ve had to call people back and give them my email address again. It’s also happened that people have spelled their own email address wrong in English when they’ve been saying it to me. So to sum up, mistakes are an unavoidable part of language learning, and it’s important that you don’t let the fear of making mistakes silence you and keep you from speaking. And most of the time, despite less-than-perfect English, you’re still able to connect with people and communicate. But having said that, it’s still a good idea to make sure that you have the basics covered, things like of numbers, dates, times and spelling. That will help you avoid embarrassing situations like missing appointments, ordering the wrong quantities of things, getting people’s email addresses wrong, etc. Basics are boring, I know, but they’re actually pretty important. Are there any English basics that you think you might need to practice? I wouldn’t be surprised, because I’ve had plenty of students who could speak quite fluently but still made simple mistakes with spelling and numbers. That’s all for this time…here’s wishing you an inspired and productive day, wherever and whenever you happen to be listening to this. Bye for now!
5 minutes | Jun 26, 2017
043 – Real English conversations: Lori scores a year’s supply of toilet paper (archive)
Hi English Learners! Lori here, your teacher from Better at English.com. For your listening practice today, I’ve got another Real English conversation. It’s actually one of my favorite conversations from deep in the Better at English archives. I’ve re-edited it so that new listeners can enjoy it. This conversation features lots of idioms and slang, and is a good example of a spontaneous, authentic English conversation between two people who know each other well. It also features lots of narrative tenses. You can read more about the verb tenses used in this conversation here. As always, you can find the complete transcript and vocabulary study guide at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. Are you ready to practice your English listening skills? Here comes the conversation. Conversation transcript Lori: Yeah, something kind of funny happened to me when I was shopping for office supplies today. Andy: OK, what happened? L: Well, my boss had, had given me a list of office supplies to buy on my way home from a teaching gig, because I drive right past the office supply shop. And I’m always happy to do it, ’cause, as you know, I LOVE office supplies — it’s almost like my, my “office-supply porn” — I can go in and get my daily fix of all the nice things for, you know, keeping organized, and folders and notebooks, and…I had a whole list of things to buy. And when I got up to the register and the clerk was ringing me up, the total came to over a thousand Swedish crowns. Which is not a problem, I mean, they just just send us an invoice; it wasn’t like I had to worry about money. But then he said, “Because you spent so much money here today, you can go pick one of those rolls of toilet paper over there.” A: Toilet paper! L: Yeah, toilet paper! And, I mean, we’re always happy to get free toilet paper; you know, it’s one of those useful things that, that, you know, a business has to buy… A: You can never have too much. L: Yeah, exactly. But the thing is, I looked at where he was pointing, and it was these HUGE, GIGANTIC, industrial-sized packages, all shrink-wrapped in plastic, of toilet paper…I mean, it was HUGE, I could NOT BELIEVE that I was getting one for free. A:OK, like a year’s supply of toilet paper. L: At least. A: [laughs] L: I’m serious! When…standing on end, the thing comes up almost to my chest. A: OK. L: I mean, it’s huge. I, I forgot to count the rolls, but it was…it had to be…maybe… At least 20 packs of six rolls each. A: Wow. L: Seriously, it was one big, honking supply of toilet paper. And it was GOOD toilet paper as well! A: And this is free? L: Yeah, free just because I’d spent, you know, in one, you know, one purchase, we had spent over a thousand crowns. And I, but I could not believe they were giving away for free, and so I had to ask the guy, “Really? Are you kidding? You mean I get to take one of these?” And he was like, “Yeah, yeah.” I’m like, “No!” He was like, “Yeah!” “No!” And he says that, “You know, you can look, see the sign up above…it says…I can show you.” I’m like, “No no, it’s not that I don’t believe you, I just can’t believe you are giving away such a huge supply of toilet paper!” I was REALLY happy. And of course there was a line of Swedes standing waiting to pay for their things, and they were raising their eyebrows at me, you know, someone getting SO excited about getting a huge supply of toilet paper. But you know, I thought that was just a really really cool thing… A: Mmm, definitely. L: …for or the company to do. A: Yeah. L: ‘Cause say they had just given away one little pack, or two little packs. Like, oh, wow, 12 rolls of toilet paper. [rolls eyes] A: Right, right L: For spending a thousand crowns… A: Yeah. No, free stuff is good! L: Yeah, and the good news is, you know here at home we’re on our last roll… A: [Laughs} L: And because I scored this huge supply of toilet paper for my boss, she’s like, “Take some, take some!” And… A: NOW I see why you’re so happy. L: That’s why today I came home with that, you know, with… A: Your arms full of toilet paper. L: Exactly, exactly. Final words That’s all for this time. I hope you enjoyed the conversation. Remember you can find more real English conversations with full transcripts on my website, betteratenglish.com. Until next time, have fun practicing your English. Bye for now! Vocabulary funny Something is funny if it makes you laugh, or if it is strange or unusual. boss Your boss is the person you work for, your manager, the person you report to. It’s an informal way to refer to this person. gig Here, Lori means a teaching assignment out at a company. office supplies Goods and materials that you need in an office, e.g, paper, paper clips, folders, binders, printer ink, coffee. In the USA there are huge stores that specialize in office supplies, such as Staples or Office Depot. office supply porn Porn is short for “pornography.” Here, Lori doesn’t mean real pornography, of course. She is using the word “porn” in a playful way to describe the unusual (perhaps even unhealthy!) pleasure she gets from shopping for office supplies. my daily fix Lori talks about her “daily fix” of “office supply porn.” Again, this is a playful use of language. A fix is ” a supply or dose of something strongly desired or craved” usually said about addictive drugs. But people often use it in a humorous or playful way, e.g. “my daily fix of coffee” or “my chocolate fix for the day.” register a cash register. The machine that records the transaction when you buy something, and where the cashier or clerk keeps the money ringing me up To ring someone/something up means when the cashier pushes buttons on the cash register to record the items you are buying. invoice When you buy something from a company but don’t pay right away, they send you an invoice, like a bill, that tells you how much money you must pay and when you must pay it. huge, gigantic Synonyms for “extremely large” industrial-sized large packages of goods for businesses and industries honking Informal slang for “very large,” often used in combination with big: I can’t believe I ate that entire big, honking piece of chocolate cake! Are you kidding? This is an informal way to ask “Are you serious?” or “Is this really true?” We usually say this when we’ve heard something that we find hard to believe. raising their eyebrows If you talk about someone raising their eyebrows at someone or something, it means that their facial expression is showing disapproval of that person or thing. The stereotypical Swede is known for being quiet and reserved, so Lori’s open (and somewhat loud) enthusiasm about getting the huge packet of toilet paper for free was probably breaking a Swedish social taboo on our last roll To be “on one’s last X” means that you are using the last item in your supply of something. For example, “We’re on our last carton of milk; could you buy a carton when you go to the shop later?” scored To score something in the sense Lori uses here means that you manage to buy or receive something that you find very attractive.
0 minutes | Jun 26, 2017
043 – Lori Scores a year’s supply of toilet paper – Transcript
This is the free downloadable transcript for the Real English Conversations episode from Better at English. Download the transcript to read along as you listen. The transcript also contains a study guide with vocabulary definitions and English usage notes. The post 043 – Lori Scores a year’s supply of toilet paper – Transcript appeared first on Better at English. © 2017 Lori Linstruth
10 minutes | Apr 12, 2017
042 – Make the Most of your Motivation part 2 of 2 – Real English Conversations
Introduction Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. Last week I shared the first part of a cool conversation I had with Dr. BJ Fogg, all about making the most of your motivation. Today you’ll be hearing part two, the final part of this conversation. If you missed the first part, make sure to go back and listen to part one before you listen to part two. At the end of part one, BJ was telling me about his goal to get better at writing neatly on a whiteboard. He knew that he needed to practice a lot if he wanted to improve, so he wanted to make it as easy as possible to practice every day. In this part of the conversation, you’ll hear what he did to change his environment to make practicing easy, even on days when his motivation is low. You’ll also hear about how his practice routine is working for him. As always, you can find the full transcript of this conversation, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. Are you ready for the conversation? Let’s go! Conversation transcript BJ: One of the habits I’m doing right now is, I’m practicing whiteboarding. I’m practicing with markers writing on a whiteboard. You know, like teachers do. Lori: Right. BJ: And I want my handwriting to get much, much better and so, I’m practicing every day. But anyway, what I did was I went out and I got some marker paper, I got a bunch of markers, I got different whiteboards so I have whiteboards in different parts of my house. I have the marker paper, I have markers, I have a marker in my bathroom, one in my sun room, I have a whole set in my office, I have a whole set in my other office. In other words, I made it really, really easy to practice writing with markers by getting all the materials and getting everything set up. And I did that when I was in a period of high motivation. So now, it’s really easy just to pick up a marker and practice. I don’t have to be super motivated. Lori: Right. And– and you can tell yourself that, you know, “You have all your materials. It’s all easy right at hand.” You could even tell yourself, “I’m just going to write one sentence. That’s all I feel like doing right now and — BJ: Yeah. In fact, just before your call, that’s what I did. I was sitting down and I was going to read but I was like, “No, no. I’m just going to, like, get out the marker board and write one sentence.” And I ended up filling up the entire marker board because I thought, “Oh, this is kind of fun. I’m going to keep going.” Lori: Yeah — BJ: And then, you called. Lori: Have– have you — oh, I’m sorry to interrupt your practice… [laughs] BJ: [crosstalk] No, I was expecting your call. Lori: …while you were on a roll. But yeah, and I guess…how’s your writing? Has it been improving? It must be improving. BJ: Oh my gosh, it’s so much better. Lori: And that — BJ: Yeah. Lori: Because I can imagine when you start seeing that your efforts are paying off, that that makes it more likely that you’re going to pick up those pens and do your practicing. BJ: Yeah, and I– I think there are some behaviors or skills where it becomes clear pretty quickly — your progress. And then there are some, at least outcomes, where it’s harder to measure like, “Wow, am I really reducing my stress? Am I really getting healthier? Am I really…,” you know, whereas the whiteboarding — and then, I practice guitar every day… Lori: Oh! Cool. BJ: …and– and other things. Yeah, but in those two cases, it’s very clear that you’re getting better. It’s just obvious that you’re getting better. And the writing is one that I may have other people join me in because…and then take pictures before and after because it’s– it’s quite dramatic. Lori: I…yeah, I can imagine if you practice. I mean, I haven’t practiced writing really since I was a kid; and learning to write and then, you know, you get your hand style and you think that that’s sort of what you’re stuck with for the rest of your life. [laughs] BJ: And part of it is changing; changing like what your style is. You know, because my normal style doesn’t work very well on a whiteboard so I have, sort of…it’s almost like having, well, in some ways, speaking a different language because you shift into a different gear. So, I speak Spanish and French, and I know when I speak those languages, I go into a different gear. It’s just different. And when I’m writing on a whiteboard, it’s not like I’m writing in a notebook. It’s just…I’m drawing in a different– different movements and different ways of thinking, well, about the letters and the spacing of the letters. And on the whiteboard, I’m trying to get things very straight, up and down just like you might try to get an accent, like, you know, an accent right and you’re really focusing. I think there’s probably a lot in common about learning languages and practicing other skills. Lori: There really is. I notice when I hear people talking about health and fitness, you could almost substitute…you know, just substitute some of the nouns and verbs and it would all…like the principles are all– all the same or often quite the same. Yeah, time is almost up. I only have one final thing I would like to ask you and… BJ: Okay. Lori: …that is — sometimes I notice when I’m working with learners, they tend to beat themselves up when they feel like they’re not motivated or they’re not able to do hard things and I want…you know, ever since I saw or learned about the motivation wave, I thought, “Oh, that’s one thing I really want people to know, that it’s normal that your motivation is going to fluctuate.” And could you just confirm that for me? [laughs] BJ: Yeah, you know, there are times…there might be a day when all I do is write one word with my marker. But that’s okay because I’m still keeping the practice alive. So I think about it, I learned this a long time ago as a student…is I’m working on a very big paper that really is intimidating and it’s hard that I worked on it every day — I write at least one sentence. And I…the next day I can go back and erase the sentence if I want to. But I always write at least one sentence. And if that’s all I get done, it’s like, “Great! I did my sentence for the day.” And what happens is a lot like what we talked about, I write a sentence like, “Oh! I might as well write the next one…Oh! The next one…the next one.” Now later, you’ve got all of the paper done. But the key is, you cannot — on those days when you’re stressed or busy with other things or just somehow not motivated to do that behavior, just do a little, tiny bit and congratulate yourself for doing that little, tiny bit and move on. Lori: Right, right. Oh, that is– that is such great advice. BJ: As long as you keep taking those small steps, you’ll get there. Once you stop taking the steps, you don’t only just stop, you slide backwards. There’s no way to stay still. You’re either moving forward or you’re sliding backward. Lori: Right, exactly. Well, BJ, thank you so much. And I know you’ve got another interview scheduled in the next minute but I just really…I’m so, so, so happy that you– that you took.. and wanted to take the time and let me… BJ: Well… Lori: …pick your brain a little bit. BJ: Well, you are welcome. And helping people learn languages is really important work. I mean, when you learn a language, you’re able to connect with people you wouldn’t otherwise, you’re able to do things you couldn’t otherwise, travel, experience — it just opens up a different world. And so I think it’s a wonderful thing to be helping people do. Lori: Yeah. Oh, thank you so much. Final words That brings us to the end of this two part conversation with Dr. BJ Fogg. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did recording it! You’ve learned about the motivation wave, that it’s totally normal for motivation to go up and down over time. You’ve also learned that when motivation is low, we can only do easy things. When motivation is high, that’s when we can do hard things. To find out more, I encourage you to watch the video of BJ’s talk that I’ve linked to in the transcript. To get the most English learning benefit from this conversation, make sure to download the transcript for this episode so you can read along to check your understanding. The transcript also has notes about the language we use in the conversation, including vocabulary explanations and example sentences. You can find the transcript at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. Until next time, have fun practicing your English! If you have questions or suggestions about what you would like to hear in these podcasts, I’d love to hear them. You can find all the ways to get in touch with me at Betteratenglish.com/contact. Bye for now! Download the transcript for the bonus vocabulary lesson.
0 minutes | Apr 12, 2017
042 – Make the Most of your Motivation part 2 of 2 – Real English Conversations
This is the transcript and bonus vocabulary lesson for part 2 of Lori’s conversation with Dr. BJ Fogg, an expert in the field of persuasion and motivation. You’ll learn about how to make the most of the motivation that you have, no matter if it’s high or low. This conversation is an example of informal […] The post 042 – Make the Most of your Motivation part 2 of 2 – Real English Conversations appeared first on Better at English. © 2017 Lori Linstruth
11 minutes | Mar 28, 2017
041 – Make the most of your motivation – a conversation with BJ Fogg (part 1 of 2)
Introduction Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. You are in for a treat with this episode of Real English Conversations. It’s a really special episode, and I’m so happy to be sharing it with you. A while back I had the huge honor of having a conversation with one of my own personal heroes, Dr. BJ Fogg. BJ is the director of the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University. Put simply, he’s a scientist who spends a lot of time studying how to help people create desirable habits and getting those habits to stick. The concept of motivation plays an important role in BJ’s work. I think most people would agree that motivation is incredibly important for successful language learning, maybe even the most important thing. When you’re highly motivated, it’s easy. But when your motivation is low, it’s not so easy. BJ has lots of practical advice about how you can make most of your motivation, no matter if it’s high or low. His way of thinking about motivation as a wave blew my mind when I first came across it. The motivation wave can easily be applied to language learning, so I am super excited to share it with you. As always, you can find the full transcript of this conversation, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. OK, you’re about to hear part one of the conversation. I’ll pop in again at the end to give you four things you can do to get the most benefit from this episode. Are you ready? Let’s go! Conversation transcript Lori: Can– can people depend on motivation when they’re trying to learn things and do things that are difficult? BJ: Well, in order to do anything difficult, you have to have motivation or you won’t do them. So either, if it’s…if the behavior or task is difficult, you’ve got to find some way to summon up some motivation; or if you make the task simpler, you won’t need so much motivation. So you basically have two options: boost your motivation or make the task easier to do. Lori: Okay yeah, that– that makes a lot of sense. And I— I noticed in your video, you said that…people often, like teachers or people trying to initiate behavior change or help people change their behavior, that, you don’t like to hear them talking about, “motivating behavior change,” you prefer the term “facilitating” behavior change. I wonder if you could talk a little bit about that. BJ: Yeah. In English, there’s a common phrase that people use when they talk about behavior change, “We need to motivate behavior change.” And yes, you could motivate behavior change but there’s other ways to get behavior to happen. And if you’re looking at long-term behaviors or getting people to create habits, focusing on motivation is the wrong focus. You really need to look at, how do we make the behavior easy to do? And also, it’s related to the habits — how do we make the behavior rewarding or emotionally satisfying? And so, the thing that I’m worried about is by using that phrase, “motivate behavior change,” people are really limiting themselves in how they think about the different ways to design for behavior change. Lori: It’s interesting to me, coming from, you know, having a background as a teacher. I can remember from my initial teacher training, we were often…it was either implied or— or sometimes even overtly stated that the idea was, “You have to motivate your students. You have to do things to keep their motivation up.” And— and of course, you know, [as a teacher] you want to be motivating and inspiring to people. But when I saw your video, your presentation about the motivation wave, it’s kind of like, a little bell went off that– you know, that it makes so much sense. Could you just explain just the basic, basic idea about the motivation wave — talking about the peaks and valleys, and difficult and hard? Practice your listening with CC subtitles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9enAEDNVpdY BJ: Everyone, I think, has experienced this phenomenon in their life where they get excited about doing some behavior or some set of behaviors like, getting healthier or reducing stress. Now that excitement, as it goes up, I decided to call that, a “motivation wave” because it will go up but it will also come back down. So, it’s not a constant thing. And what the motivation wave allows you to do, when the motivation wave is high — you can do hard things, you can spend lots of time, you can put in a lot of effort, you can persist through hardship if your motivation is high. And as your motivation comes down, you can’t do the hard things anymore, you only can do simple things. And so the key to understand…there’s a few keys: Number one, that motivation won’t always be high. That goes up and down. And then two, when motivation is high, that’s the right time to get yourself or other people to do hard things. And when motivation is low, you can’t do hard things; what you can do are simple things. And so designing — if you’re trying to get yourself to study more or exercise more or what have you and your motivation’s really low, then you should take, let’s say, the study task, and break it down to just three minutes and say, “Okay, I’m only going to study for three minutes. And within three minutes, I’m done.” Instead of forcing yourself or saying, “Oh, I have to study for an hour,” and then your brain finds excuses not to do it at all. Like, zero. Lori: Oh yeah. Motivation naturally goes up and down over time, like a wave. BJ: And so what happens in a lot of people that say “Great! I’m just going to do three minutes,” once they get started, they’re like, “Oh! I’ll do another three minutes…oh! I’ll do another three minutes.” So there’s a momentum they build up by doing the small steps. And the motivation actually goes up and they may end up studying an entire hour or longer because that’s how their motivation and their interests changed as they were doing it. Lori: Yeah, I know. I have noticed that myself, many, many times when I have some kind of task that I’m putting off because it seems like it’s too difficult or I’m just not motivated. But if you can just force yourself to, to sit down and say, “Okay, I’m just going to at least get started; do one tiny little thing,” it’s so true, that often does happen, that once you get going, you sort of build a momentum and you end up doing a lot more than you planned in the beginning. BJ: Yeah, so that’s what you do when motivation’s low. When motivation’s high, when you’re in high motivation, that’s the time to change your environment, get the materials you need, get the…let me give you an example. Lori: Sure. BJ: One of the habits I’m doing right now is, I’m practicing whiteboarding. I’m practicing with markers writing on a whiteboard. You know, like teachers do. Lori: Right. BJ: And I want my handwriting to get much, much better and so, I’m practicing every day. And in fact, I’m doing it right now. Lori: Yeah? BJ: Just— yeah, because this is how I practice. But anyway, what I did was… This conversation continues in part 2 next week! Final words That’s the end of part one of this conversation with Dr. BJ Fogg. Did you notice how nervous I sounded? That’s because BJ is one of my heroes, and I kind of felt like a little fangirl talking to one of my favorite rockstars. Until next time, here are four ideas for things you can do to get the most benefit from this conversation. 1. If listening to this episode was challenging for you, you can prepare for part two by studying the transcript and listening repeatedly to the conversation. If any words are really causing trouble for your understanding, make sure to look them up. If you do this over the next few days, the second part of the conversation should be easier because more of the language will be familiar. 2. Make a prediction! Based on what you heard in this conversation so far, what do you think BJ did to make it easier to practice his whiteboarding every day? There is a big clue toward the end of the conversation. Then next week, listen to see if you were right. 3. If you need to talk about charts and graphs to pass an exam, here’s a great chance to practice. Think about your own motivation to learn English, and how it changes over time. Is it steady, or does it fluctuate? If it fluctuates, how dramatic are the changes? How often? Draw a simple graph of your English learning motivation and practice explaining it to a friend. Or post it on my Facebook page and explain it there! 4. In the transcript and on the website I’ve put a link to a Youtube video where BJ explains the motivation wave. BJ is a great speaker, and if your listening is intermediate or above, I encourage you to watch the video so you can learn more about how to make the most of your motivation. This will also help you prepare for part two of our conversation. That brings us to the end of this episode of Real English Conversations. Make sure to download the transcript for this episode so you can read along to check your understanding. The transcript also has notes about the language we use in the conversation, and explains a lot of the vocabulary. You can find the transcript at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. Until next time, have fun practicing your English! If you have questions or suggestions about what you would like to hear in these podcasts, I’d love to hear them. You can find all the ways to get in touch with me Betteratenglish.com/contact. Bye for now! Download the transcript for access to the bonus vocabulary lesson.
0 minutes | Mar 28, 2017
041-Make the Most of Your Motivation part 1 (of 2) – TRANSCRIPT
This is the transcript for Better at English podcast episode 41 – Make the Most of your Motivation, a conversation with Dr. BJ Fogg. Lori talks to psychologist BJ Fogg about how people can best leverage their motivation to be able to keep showing up and working to reach their goals. You’ll hear how to […] The post 041-Make the Most of Your Motivation part 1 (of 2) – TRANSCRIPT appeared first on Better at English. © 2017 Lori Linstruth
11 minutes | Mar 19, 2017
040 – Daily Rituals part 5 of 5 – Real English Conversations
Introduction Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. In this episode of Real English Conversations, you’ll hear part 5 of my conversation with Kyla. This is the final part of our conversation about the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. In the previous episode we talked about dealing with distractions and interruptions when you’re trying to work. This time we talk about one of the biggest interrupters of all: email. We also talk about ways to structure your day to make it easier to do important things. If you want to read along as you listen, you can download the full transcript, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. After the conversation I’ll be back with three questions you can use for speaking practice. Oh, and one final note: I’ve marked this episode as explicit because near the end of the conversation I say a couple of mildly vulgar words. They’re very common slang words that you hear all the time on TV, but I’m playing it safe and warning you anyway. You never know what someone might find offensive! OK, let’s get on with the conversation! Real English Conversation Transcript Kyla: I was going to say, I guess, one drawback about the book actually is that so much of it is, there’s not— there’s not very many current contemporary people in it to ask about their rituals. It’s, yeah, an awful lot of people from the last century before, before internet and so it would be— it would be nice to find, you know, the daily rituals of more people living now with the different forms of communication that we have now. Lori: Right. Kyla: Because of course there were several people that would have, you know, they’d have their hour in which they would make their phone calls to their agents or their phone calls to newspapers or, you know, when it was still there. Because you still had the communication that was required with the— the rest of the world. But I think it was probably much easier to schedule, “Okay, this is the time that I’m going to be on the telephone because this is when I have access to a telephone or…” Lori: Right. Kyla: You know, “This is the time of day when I sit and write my letters and read my letters,” which there’s no reason why we can’t do that now but I think it’s easier when you have a physical letter that you can put in a pile on the— on the bedside table or the coffee table and… Lori: Right. And it’s— it’s also…there’s a limit there, you know. It’s self-limiting. You see, “Okay, I have five letters I have to answer…” Kyla: That’s right. Overwhelmed by the endless stream of emailLori: …and you know that it’s not like today with email where at any second, you can get more added to that pile and you never know when you’re going to get one. Kyla: That’s— that’s right. You’re sitting there answering, it’s like, “I have five emails to respond to,” and by the time you’re done, there’s five more. [laughs] Lori: Exactly. Or you send your answers and then the person replies right away with still more questions, and it never ends. Kyla: Yeah. Lori: So there— there was more of a sense of, like, these finite chunks of work that you could do in a given period than— than now where the boundaries between work and not work and yeah, it’s just getting fuzzier and fuzzier all the time, I think. Kyla: That’s right. Yeah. Lori: But I agree. I agree with you that it would be great to hear some examples or read some examples of people living in our time dealing with the— the kind of problems we’re dealing with every day. Yeah, very cool. Let me see. Was there something else? I guess my— my…I don’t know if it would be my final question, but one question that I have for you is, if you have picked up anything from the book that you have started to apply to your own life, or that has somehow changed the way you approach getting your creative work done or your productive work done? William James knew how to get things done.Kyla: One of the— one of the things for sure is, and I actually went and found the quote again because I thought it was a brilliant quote, and it’s from William James. And he talks about what he calls the “effortless custody of automation.” Lori: Whoah! Kyla: I have really tried to do sort of the opposite of automating the creative process, but that’s automating the mundane process. And I found a little bit of success and I think— I think it has grown over time and will continue to grow but sort of, like, we kind of have a routine in my household of, like, when dishes get washed and when they get put away and who does what. And I think it sort of making habits out of the mundane but other necessary things that have to happen and just kind of getting those things out of the way without having to think about them leaves you more time and more space to do the things that really matter, which, you know, is creative work or learning new things. And I think that was sort of, oddly enough, one of the things that I really took from that book, and it’s almost the opposite of what the book was about in some ways. [laughs] Lori: I guess what I would say about that is, that maybe that’s your way of kind of clearing the space that you need to then be able to, to take the time for yourself for your creative projects because you don’t have all these nagging little to-dos left kind of unfinished. Kyla: Yeah, it’s sitting at the back of the brain and, yeah. Lori: Yeah. It’s hard to do this without getting into, like, David Allen GTD terminology and started talking about, like, open loops. [laughs] Kyla: [laughs] Yeah. Lori: Exactly. But there’s really…I really think that’s true that— that if you can, that’s…maybe that’s one of the things that’s so great about setting aside those first hours in the morning for doing your really important stuff is, is that you don’t have this feeling of all these other little unfinished things that are kind of nagging at you and making you feel a little bit guilty for taking that time for yourself. Kyla: That’s right. Yeah. Lori: Because so much of what, at least for me, when I’m doing something creative, I often will end a session and— and feel like, “Well, I did put in the hours. I did do stuff. But I don’t really have anything I would be proud to show anybody today.” Kyla: Right. Lori: And that can make you feel, at least can make me, feel a little bit guilty that— that, “Oh… Kyla: Yeah, like, you didn’t accomplish anything. Lori: Yeah, and then, like, “Oh, who am I to think I should be able to sit here and spend this time doing this thing that I enjoy, that feeds my soul, when I have all this other unfinished stuff done that other people are depending on me for.” Kyla: Right. Lori: So yeah. To circle back, is, maybe that’s kind of your way of getting all that shit taken care of and then you have this space and peace and quiet and in your mind as well as in your environment. Kyla: Yeah. No, definitely. I think that makes…yeah, that makes sense. Lori: Yeah. I hope so. [laughs] Kyla: [laughs] Kind of, yeah. Exactly. It allows for, sort of, not just— not just sort of, you know, nagging-doubt-free but guilt-free time to spend on creative process. Lori: Yeah. Because the nagging doubt is a freaking bitch, man, seriously. Kyla: Yeah. [laughs] Lori: The self-loathing and nagging doubt and fear and anxiety; all of that is bad enough. And then when you’re feeling guilty for taking that time for yourself, you know, on top of all that? It’s…whoa. [laughs] Kyla: Yeah. I— I feel the need to high five you. [laughs] Lori: [laughs] High five! [34:32] I’m high fiving. You can’t see it now but I’m high fiving you. [laughs] Kyla: All right. [laughs] Celebrating with a high five Final words That’s all for this time. I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation. Remember that it’s important to practice speaking if you want to improve your English fluency. Here are 3 discussion questions that you can use to practice with your teacher, tutor, or your language exchange partner. 1. What kind of things distract or interrupt you when you’re trying to work, and how do you deal with them? 2. Do feel the need to be constantly accessible via social media, email, etc.? 3. What kind of setting do you need to do your best work? Are you able to create that for yourself? If not, what would you need to change? Make sure to download the transcript so you can read along to check your understanding. The transcript also has notes about the language we use in the conversation, and explains a lot of the vocabulary. You can find it at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. Until next time, keep on practicing your English. In fact, you can practice right now by leaving me a voice message or joining the conversation on the Better at English Facebook page. You can find all the ways to get in touch at Betteratenglish.com/contact. Bye for now! Vocabulary and usage notes Download the full transcript and the vocabulary and usage notes here.
0 minutes | Mar 19, 2017
040 – Daily Rituals part 5 – Transcript
This is the transcript for Real English Conversations episode 40 from Better at English. This episode of Real English Conversations is part 5 of Lori and Kyla’s discussion about a book they both liked: Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey. This is the FINAL part of this conversation. First they talk about feeling overwhelmed by the […] The post 040 – Daily Rituals part 5 – Transcript appeared first on Better at English. © 2017 Lori Linstruth
11 minutes | Mar 11, 2017
039 – Daily Rituals part 4 – Real English Conversations
Introduction Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. In this episode of Real English Conversations, you’ll hear part 4 of my conversation with Kyla. Up until now we’ve been talking about the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. But in this part of the conversation we digress [go off topic] and talk about dealing with distractions and interruptions when we’re trying to work. That’s one of the fun things about conversations: you never know where they are going to go! What kind of things do you find distracting when you are trying to work or study? How do you feel when you get interrupted when you’re trying to concentrate? Do you think you have anything in common with Kyla and me? Listen to the conversation and find out! If you want to read along as you listen, you can download the full transcript, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. After the conversation I’ll be back with three questions you can use for speaking practice. OK, let’s get on with the conversation! Conversation transcript Lori: Yeah, it’s, I think, really important. I found that it kind of made me feel a little bit better about myself because I find that if I’m going to sit down and do something, maybe not necessarily– necessarily creative, but that really requires my full attention and concentration, I cannot handle distractions and interruptions… Kyla: Yeah, yeah. Lori: …at all. Kyla: They’ve even done studies where, I think when you’re trying to do something, every distraction, it takes you about 15 minutes to get back… Lori: Right. Kyla: …to what you were doing? Like, that’s the amount of time it takes your brain to handle, “There’s been a distraction! What was I doing before? Where was I? Oh yes, here we are…” Lori: Yeah. It’s – Kyla: “…now we’re going again.” And so that, having that sort of place to make sure that no distractions bother you. Lori: Yeah, it’s really important. And I think nowadays, you know, people with families, and not to mention just our little devices going off and pinging us all the time. You know, it’s– it’s getting harder and harder to create that– that block of undisturbed, focused, uninterrupted time for yourself, I think. Kyla: It is. It– it really is. And I was, you know – Google just had their…just released their news on their, sort of their new gadgets; the new Android, the new apps they’re coming up with. Lori: Okay. Kyla: And one of the things they’re doing is they’re trying to integrate all of your electronic devices so that if somebody calls you on your phone, it will alert you on your laptop. Lori: Nooo! Kyla: And I was just like, “That’s a terrible idea!” [laughs] Lori: It’s…I think it’s a horrible idea. Kyla: Like, in order to get anything done, you pretty much have to disconnect from the internet if it’s not required for what you’re doing. [laughs] Image courtesy of Wilengebroed on flickr.comLori: Yeah, totally. And you know, I’ve really come full circle when it comes to things like the internet and being connected in social media. I mean, in the beginning back in, well let’s say, 10 years ago when it was still fresh and new and people were talking about web 2.0., it was this fantastic thing. And now I find, oh my god, I just, I don’t want all that distraction and all those little tiny calls to my attention throughout the day that I’ve almost become anti- [laughs] internet. Which is, I mean, there’s some kind of irony there because I also am running a website, and of course I want people to look at my website and listen to the podcasts. So it’s kind of a, um – yeah, almost hypocritical but… Kyla: No, I’m the same. I mean, for…and I’m sort of like, I’m not a…I’m a great– I’m a great social person in person but I’m not– I’m not entirely sold on this social networking business. But I’m a musician! [laughs] So… Lori: Yeah. Kyla: Now I have all these, you know. All these, you know, different websites and, you know, the various platforms for getting your music out and I’m…I kind of have to be like, “Okay, I really need to schedule some time a day to actually go and use these things,” you know? It’s…I mean, it’s a great tool to, you know, exactly kind of get your– get your music or your– your podcasts or whatever it is you’re doing out to the world. But at the same time, if you spend all of your time on that, you kind of lose the time that is required to actually make the art… Lori: Exactly! Kyla: …that you’re making in the first place and – Lori: Yeah, I couldn’t have said it better myself. [laughs] Kyla: [laughs] We actually – the album that I recorded with my band a couple of years ago – we’d had…we recorded the whole thing about three times, and I just wasn’t happy with it. There were things that we just weren’t happy with the first couple of times. And we’re all recording at home. And we finally got it recorded but we moved into a new apartment and just decided not to get internet until the album was done. And it really– it really did work out well. And it’s fine because I work full time, and we watched Doctor Who every night which is, like an hour and a half long. Like, I was like, “I don’t understand how we recorded an album!” because I was working 40 hours a week, and we watched TV every night. But at some point between the 40 hours and the TV, there was about 2 hours in which I was just plugged in and recording guitar so… Lori: Oh, cool. The internet can be a big distraction when you have hard work to do.Kyla: But it was kind of, yeah, there– there was absolutely no outside distraction. And I still need it too, you know. I mean at the time, well, and still, like, email is the way you contact me for the most part. So I still had to be going, like, I had to take about, you know, 45 minutes to go to a cafe or the library to use the Wi-Fi too to do those things. But it was really like, “This is the time of day in which the internet is attached,” and, you know. And it kind of worked out, like, yeah, it was almost like, “Here’s a schedule for this,” and then the rest of my day didn’t have any of those distractions. I was like, “How come I can’t do that when I have internet in the house?” Lori: Right. When you were using that little block of time every day to– to do your internet things; did– did you notice that you were more efficient or that you got more done? Kyla: Oh, definitely. Definitely. Yeah. Lori: Because – Kyla: Because it was like I’d…I would have a list! I’d be like, “Okay, these are the things I need to do on the internet. So you know, check this email, make this post and…” and yeah. And I did. It was, like, “Here’s my time. I don’t want to be here too long.” Yup, I definitely. Lori: Yeah. I can’t remember who it was, I heard someone else talking about that or reading about it who was basically saying the same thing – had trouble with their internet at home and was, like, forced to just go out to a cafe or something once a day to do all the emailing and would just, like, bang through all these! Everything! Get it all answered in, like, half an hour. Whereas, when he had his great internet at home, he could spend forever on the internet and not get anything done. Kyla: Oh yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Lori: So there’s something about that idea of– of putting some kind of limitation on yourself or knowing in advance that it really is just a discrete amount of time that you had to do something that kind of forces you to really get down to it and get it done. It’s very interesting. Kyla: Yeah. Lori: So yeah! [laughs] This is turning into quite the conversation. [laughs] Kyla: It is! Yes, it is. [laughs] We’re somehow– we’re somehow still on topic but not at all talking about the book. Lori: Yeah. But that is the way– the way things go… Kyla: That’s the way things go. Lori: …it’s kind of cool. Did you – Kyla: [crosstalk] Lori: No, go ahead. Kyla: Oh, you go ahead. Lori: No – Kyla: No, you – Lori: No, no, no, no, you. You, go ahead. Kyla: No, no, you! [laughs] Lori: No, I’ve already actually already forgotten what I was going to say! So… Final words That’s all for this time. I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation. Remember that it’s important to practice speaking if you want to improve your English fluency. Here are 3 discussion questions that you can use to practice with your teacher, tutor, or your language exchange partner. 1. What is the biggest internet distraction for you, and how do you deal with it when you need to work? 2. How do you feel about constantly getting email and social media notifications on your phone or computer? 3. Do you think you work more productively when you have a set block of time? Why or why not? Make sure to download the transcript so you can read along to check your understanding. The transcript also has notes about the language we use in the conversation, and explains a lot of the vocabulary. You can find it at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. Until next time, keep on practicing your English. In fact, you can practice right now by leaving me a voice message or joining the conversation on the Better at English Facebook page. You can find all the ways to get in touch at Betteratenglish.com/conta
0 minutes | Mar 11, 2017
039 Daily Rituals part 4 Real English Conversations transcript
This is the transcript for Daily Rituals part 4 – Better at English episode 39 of the Real English Conversations series. Vocabulary and usage notes plus the full transcript of the audio podcast. There are many ways you can use the Better at English conversation transcripts to get more benefit from your listening practice. Use […] The post 039 Daily Rituals part 4 Real English Conversations transcript appeared first on Better at English. © 2017 Lori Linstruth
11 minutes | Mar 5, 2017
038 – Daily rituals part 3 – Real English Conversations
Introduction Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. In this episode of Real English Conversations, you'll hear part 3 of my conversation with Kyla. We are talking about the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. In this part we talk about the routines and practices that many creative people have in common. Now before you listen I have to warn you: this is a particularly challenging conversation. Here is why: because both Kyla and I read the book, we have a lot of shared information in our heads. When speakers have a lot of shared information, they often leave out details. They know that the other person already knows the information, so they don't have to say it. If only one of us had read the book, this conversation would have been very different. We would have had to do a lot more explaining, and mention a lot more specific details. What does all that mean for you? As you are listening, don't worry too much if some things are unclear, or if you feel that you are missing information. To help you out, I have marked the particularly challenging parts in colored text in the transcript. And at the end of the transcript, I've included a short quote from the book so you can read the part we are talking about. If you want to read along as you listen, you can download the full transcript, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. After the conversation I'll be back with five questions you can use for speaking practice. OK, let's get on with the conversation! Conversation transcript Kyla: That's right, exactly. And the amount...it seems a real recurring theme in the book is three hours. The amount of people that did, that worked for three hours a day that got all their...even – even the ones that didn't have jobs that had their time completely open, a lot of them seemed to work for three hours. And the rest of the time would be, you know, visiting and going for long walks and... Lori: Yeah, that was – Kyla: ...having luxurious dinners. Lori: That was another really striking one – the role of walking. Kyla: Yes. Beethoven was one of the many creative people whose daily routine involved strong coffee.Lori: Because you had these people, like you say, they would work their stretch of – of three or four hours. I think– I think Beethoven is an example of this. He would– he would work, get up in the morning, drink his coffee. I think he was the one who counted the [coffee] beans. [laughs] Kyla: He counted the beans! Yeah. [laughs] Lori: How many was it in each cup? Kyla: 60 or something? Lori: Yeah. Kyla: Was it 60? [laughs] Lori: That sounds right. Yeah, he measured up precisely 60 beans for his coffee and would work. And then he would take these long, vigorous walks armed with note paper to jot down ideas, I guess. And I think it was also Beethoven who would, during his work periods when he would feel stuck, he would get up and go walk outside for a little bit and found that , kind of, unlocked his creativity. Download the transcript for the rest of this Real English conversation, the vocabulary lesson and bonus discussion questions for speaking practice.
0 minutes | Mar 5, 2017
038 – Daily rituals part 3 – Real English Conversations Transcript
This is the transcript for Better at English "Real English Conversations" episode 38. Daily rituals and routines part 3. You'll hear Lori and Kyla continuing their discussion about the routines and practices of creative people. Their discussion is based on reading the book "Daily Rituals" by Mason Currey. The transcript contains the full conversation, a vocabulary lesson, and 5 discussion questions for speaking practice. The post 038 – Daily rituals part 3 – Real English Conversations Transcript appeared first on Better at English. © 2020 Lori Linstruth
10 minutes | Feb 27, 2017
037 – Daily Rituals 2 – Real English Conversations
Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. In this episode of Real English Conversations, you'll hear part 2 of my conversation with Kyla. We're discussing a book that we both really liked. It's called Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey. The book describes the daily routines and habits of 161 creative people, people like writers, painters, musicians, philosophers, and scientists. Now, while I love the book, I don't recommend it for English learners at lower levels. This is because it has a lot of quotations from sources that are very old, and some of that language is very difficult. But if you are an upper-intermediate to advanced learner of English who needs to read English literature from different periods, it might be a great place to start. The chapters are very short — sometimes only a half a page. That means you can have the satisfaction of finishing a chapter without having to spend too much time. And it's easier to do deep language analysis and study if the text is not too long. Right then...in this conversation you'll hear a lot of American English idiomatic expressions and a bit of slang. There are also many examples of a politeness strategy called "hedging." Remember, this was the first time Kyla and I ever spoke, so we were being careful not to be too direct. Listen particularly for language like "kind of," "sort of," and "I think." Hedges like these keep us from sounding to direct or firm in our opinions. As always, you can find the full transcript, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. OK, here comes the conversation! CONVERSATION TRANSCRIPT Kyla: Well, I was just going to say, that book came out of blog posts, didn't it? Like, was he blogging? [note: you can find the original blog here] Lori: I believe the story is, he's – he's a...he's actually a published author; quite a prolific author, I think, in– in, like, magazines and things like that. And he did have this blog that, I guess, started out just as some kind of personal interest. Kyla: Right. Lori: And then someone got in touch with him saying, "Hey, do you...this would make a really cool book," and so he did the extra work too to turn it into a book. And I'm glad he did because it's really fascinating. Kyla: Yeah. [laughs] Lori: [laughs] Really interesting. Kyla: It is — Lori: Um... Kyla: Well, it's — oh, you go ahead. Lori: No, no. Go ahead. Kyla: I was– I was just going to say, it actually kind of makes me really..."Why wasn't I a writer?! It seems like they have it so easy!" [laughs] Lori: [laughs] Is that based on– on reading about the habits of writers in the books or the book, I'm — Kyla: Yes. Yeah, exactly. That was...by – by the end of it, it was just like, yeah. Lori: That's funny you had that reaction because I actually thought that writing seemed really, really freaking hard. Kyla: Oh, yeah. [laughs] Lori: [laughs] Like, really hard. I guess, some of the things that– that struck me that all the things that the writers do to try to make it easier on themselves, like, I really [laughs] — one thing, I can't remember which person it was, but there was someone who was, like, totally taking Benzedrine which is, I guess, apparently, Adderall. Kyla: Right. [laughs] Lori: And after reading that passage, I was like, "Hey man! I want to get me some of that stuff! [laughs] How can I...that's my problem too! I can't focus. I can't concentrate. Like, sign me up!" [laughs] And coffee, as well. I was surprised at how many people really depended on stimulants like coffee. Kyla: Yeah. And it seems like, every, like, pretty much every ritual was like, "Well, I have my coffee," and then, like — Oh, who is that? Like, the guy that would have...maybe it was, who would have, like, I don't know. His butler had to choose the coffee each day and then justify his choice. Like, "This is — Lori: Oh,
0 minutes | Feb 27, 2017
037 Real English Conversations – Daily Rituals 2 – Transcript
This is the transcript for Better at English podcast episode 37. A Real English Conversation episode titled Daily Rituals 2. Lori and Kyla discuss the book Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey. The post 037 Real English Conversations – Daily Rituals 2 – Transcript appeared first on Better at English. © 2017 Lori Linstruth
9 minutes | Feb 23, 2017
036 – Daily Rituals 1 – Real English Conversations
INTRODUCTION Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. In this episode of Real English Conversations, you'll hear me talking to Kyla, a fellow musician. We met up to talk about a book that we both really like. It's called Daily Rituals, and was written by Mason Currey. But as it turned out, Kyla and I had a lot more to talk about than the book. In fact, we didn't even start talking about the book until several minutes into the conversation. So you'll have to wait until part two for that. In this first part, you'll hear us breaking the ice by talking about guitars and practicing and other things we have in common. This was a normal thing to do because it was the first time we ever spoke to each other. You'll be hearing lot of informal American English, including tons of phrasal verbs. I think the best way to really learn phrasal verbs is in context, so I've highlighted most of them for you in the transcript, along with the other vocabulary. As always, you can find the full transcript, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts. OK, let's get this conversation started! CONVERSATION TRANSCRIPT Lori: Okay, great. Yeah! It was really, really cool that you– you stepped up to the plate and got in touch about– about talking about this book. Kyla: Good. Yeah! It's kind of...it's a– it's a book that I– I've read. I have...I own a copy. And coming up with rituals, I'm always looking for better ways to work and better ways to be creative, so it's a...yeah. It's a – when I saw your post, I was like, "Oh! I love that book!" [laughs] Lori: Oh! Yeah, great! Yeah, at that point, I don't even think I'd read more than, like, a quarter of it, and I was like, "Oh! This is such a cool book! I really want to talk to somebody about it." Kyla: Excellent. Lori: So yeah, but before we get into that, tell me a little bit more about what you're doing with guitar. Kyla: Well, I'm a...I was sort of trained as a classical guitarist as a kid and moved on, started playing electric in, like, some folk rock band in, you know, like, 15 years ago and just sort of...I've always been listening to metal so I think it was sort of natural that I got into playing– into playing metal. Now I play in a really, really proggy sort of a death metal band – Lori: Oh wow. Kyla: – called Molt. And we, after much strife, finally released an album a couple of years ago. But yeah, I mean, I'm always– I'm always striving to sort of streamline how I practice because I've always got, you know – actually, I just quit a job about a month ago to sort of start to...now I'm teaching myself Java and Python, and I'm working on...I'm actually working on writing an app to generate guitar practice exercises. Watch the video version with CC subtitles https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTUynHNPNP8 Lori: Oh! Kyla: But yeah, so I'm just always– I'm always, you know, looking for ways to work, looking for ways to fit my practice time in the continual quest for speed. [laughs] I do have to thank you for your little...your post about using a 1-minute timer. Lori: Oh yeah! Kyla: I do that every day. That's– [laughs] that's really become– that's really become a part of my– my practice regimen. Lori: Oh, super! I'm glad that was useful. Kyla: Yeah, that was– that was extraordinarily useful. [laughs] Lori: Yeah, it's – it's one of the things about playing guitar if you're trying to achieve, yeah, higher than average level of technical mastery is that – you find that unless you're like one of these freaky people who seem to be just super, super gifted, it takes an inordinate amount of practice. Kyla: Yeah. Yeah, it's...and focused, focused practice. Lori: Yeah, and not just kind of going over the scales or the things that you like to do that are easy for you. You have to sort of get into the edges, and push yourself into the areas where you're not comfortable and where you start fee...
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