English Lesson Based on Technology

Is Technology Addictive? An English Lesson Based on a BBC Report.

The technological revolution has given us the opportunity to always be connected. Through social media we can constantly be in contact with others. But, is technology inherently addictive?

In this video, a BBC reporter investigates this question, and also sets a challenge for herself and four others.

Watch the video and then continue with the lesson.

The Video

The Transpcript

Here are parts of the video transcribed:

[intro] Through smartphones, tablets, apps, and laptops, technology now influences almost every aspect of our lives. We’re engaged politically, creatively, socially, and emotionally 24 hours a day because of the technology revolution. Our digital lives are just as full on as our real world lives.

But, the fear is that this new digital way of life that we’re all exposed to is in reality powerfully and dangerously addictive. For me this is one of the most important issues concerning mental health. However, in our overly diagnostic world, before we rush to medically label another yet another one of our behaviours, I need to be convinced: is there really something to fear?; is there something truly, inherently addictive about modern technology?

[1:11] How often are you using that every day? Erm… pretty much all the time. I don’t think I could count the number of times I check Twitter or check Facebook. (girl) I couldn’t either, I check it a lot. Even if I’m bored, you don’t really think about it, you just kinda go straight to look what other people are doing.

[1:58] It’s definitely going to be difficult to give up. But, there’s a difference between annoyance at losing a useful and enjoyable tool, and the physical and mental anguish that can come from giving up something truly addictive.

Most addictions in the classic sense, such as drugs, have a physical dimension linked to our inbuilt rewards system.

[3:18] It’s one of the reasons why problem gambling became the first medical recognized behavioral addiction in 2013. Now, early studies are beginning to see the same response with technology, particularly when we look at internet gaming. Could that response lead to addicted like behaviour?

[4:22] And when it gets really bad, what are the kids doing to resist those parental instructions? – I mean, I’ve had instances of, you know, knives being pulled out on parents because they’ve taken away their gaming device, and it’s a minefield of how to parent through that.

[4:48] Where is the addictive trigger in something like social networking? – Many point to its ability to change our mood; the emotional boost and sense of self-worth we get from our peers liking, sharing, and retweeting what we post. And, then there’s the thrill of finding out if we have received those likes and retweets, giving us that all important reward, driving us to keep logging in and keep posting.

[5:40] My argument is that technology kind of enhances and stimulates that vulnerability or susceptibility; it’s not to demonize the internet in and of itself, because most of us use it, and most of it.. you know, is something that actually is a positive thing in our life. And, one of the things that I really want to try and stress is that doing something a lot, does not necessarily mean that it’s problematic.

[7:21] (talking about their challenge): I found the first day the hardest I think, because it was kind of, you’re so used to doing it. It’s actually been quite refreshing, and made me realize that I could probably get rid of Facebook. (Guy) But, it did take a little while.. now it’s kind of okay, but in the mornings I still check my phone, and there’s nothing to do, and where’s Facebook, where’s Twitter?

[8:19] We’re going through a massive process of change in the way that we live our lives. And, this is because of this huge technological revolution. And, of course there are those who are vulnerable and who may become addicted to new pleasurable behaviours, and we have a duty of care to those people. But, as a species, this is about adaptation; it’s about understanding our behaviour; not panicking about change; and, taking personal responsibility; responsibility as parents, responsibility as individuals, and as society as a whole.

Analysis

Addictive / Addicted To

I have written about different types of adjectives here, and the difference between these two is that when we say, “I am addicted to technology” we are describing ourselves. Whereas addictive is used to describe something or a situation.

  • He’s addicted to drugs.
  • Drugs are addictive.
  • She used to be addictive to shopping.
  • Shopping is addictive.

You can hear these two adjectives used throughout the video.

Complete the sentence: He was _________ to gambling.

Answer

He was addicted to gambling.


It’s definitely going to be difficult to give up

When the younger people in the bar were set the challenge of going without the apps on their phones, one of the guys said, “It’s definitely going to be difficult to give up.” To give something up means to stop doing something; to quit.

Q. Did the younger people manage to give up using the apps on their phones?

Answer

Yes. But, the presenter wasn’t able to do it.


You can use this phrasal verb followed by a verb or a noun. The verb is always in the gerund form:

  • My friend finally gave up smoking.
  • He’s given up playing computer games at night.
  • I really want to give up drinking coffee again! or I really want to give up coffee!

Then there’s the thrill of finding out…

I see many learners incorrectly use know instead of find out. To find something out means to learn about something. The following examples should help you understand the difference:

  • I already knew that they got engaged. In fact, I found out last Wednesday.
  • I’ve just found out that David (our boss) is leaving! – Really? I thought you already knew.

I could probably get rid of Facebook

To get rid of something means to eliminate or discard something. In the example given, the girl is saying that she could probably give up Facebook and stop using it.

Q. Do you think I could give up Facebook?

Answer

I could for personal use, but not for my business. Speaking of Facebook, if you haven’t already liked my page, you can do so now:

And, you can share this lesson by clicking the link:

Share on Facebook


Here are more examples:

  • I need to get rid of these old clothes.
  • Should we have a spring clean, and just get rid of a lot of the things we don’t use?

We’re going through a massive process of change in the way that we live our lives

This is a great example of the difference in pronunciation between the noun life (in the plural form), and the verb live. Click here for more information on this difference, and also for ways to live life to the fullest.

Discussion

The report concluded that we are going through massive changes in terms of how we are using technology, and that although there are some who will get addicted to this new technology, it’s important to focus on how we adapt and how we can take responsibility for our own actions.

Now, I’ve got two questions for you:

1. Could you give up social media for four days?

2. Do you agree with the conclusion of the report?

Leave your answers below. And, feel free to comment on anything in the report and this lesson.

English Video Lesson: Follow the Frog

Do You Follow the Frog?

A lot of us want to make a difference in the world. There are many things that we would like to change. We also may feel like we do enough to make the world a better place.

The following video is based on the above, and I’m sure you’ll agree, it does a fantastic job of getting our attention and giving us a strong message. Watch the video once, and then again while reading the transcript.

The Clip

The Transpcript

“You are a good person. You spend time with your family. You work out at the gym. You conserve water while showering. You like nice clothes. You give to charity. You recycle. You drive a Prius, but you use your bike when you can. You enjoy the occasional distraction at work and you always send a card on Mother’s Day. Always.

But, there’s a part of you that tells yourself that you’re not so good; that you could be doing more; that the world is falling apart at the seams and all you’ve been doing is yoga.

One day, you see that the rainforest is being destroyed at a staggering rate of 32 million acres a year. That’s the equivalent of 1 football field every 78 seconds. You feel bad, angry, guilty. You’ve been apathetic for too long. You want to do something about it. You must do something about it.

Well, this is what you’re not going to do: I quit! You’re not going to quit your job. Leave your family. Get on the next flight to Nicaragua. Take a bus to the edge of the jungle, then hoof it across rivers, lakes and streams, on a quest for the very heart of the rainforest. (Take me to the heart of the Rainforest. You’re getting closer. You’re almost there. You have arrived!) You’re not gonna ingratiate yourself with the local tribesmen; go to great lengths to earn their respect and trust.

It is around now you realize you’re living out the cliché gringo fantasy of becoming an honorary native and leading the resistant forces. But, screw it! If they can do it, so can you! I’m gonna save you! You’re not gonna co-ordinate an “occupy-the-rainforest” movement. Realize it’s hopeless. Summon the power of the gods. Lead a revolution against the deforesters and their multi-national employers in an apocalyptic “once-and-for-all” battle to save humanity.. only to awaken two days later in an El Salvadoran hospital with two toes missing on your left foot. Hobble out of central America, up through Mexico, across the Sierra Madre, where you break down, have your first cigarette in 4 years, accidentally start a wild fire killing off the endangered species that once served as your occupational distraction, and finally make it back home only to find that you’ve been replaced at work by a guy named TJ and that things at home are not what they used to be.

You’re not going to do any of these things. But, what you can do is follow the frog. Buying rainforest alliance certified products ensures the future of our rainforests. So that you don’t have to do the things you shouldn’t do anyway. Just follow the frog.

Analysis

You work out at the gym

To work out means to do exercise. This is especially used when talking about doing exercise in the gym. There are other ways that we can use this phrasal verb:

  • I can’t work out what you’re saying (understand).
  • Let’s work something out before it’s too late (solve the problem).
  • This relationship isn’t working out (see this Friends lesson for more information on this).

You conserve water while showering

This means that you try to use less water. You see from the video that the guy turns off the water while shampooing his hair. Another way to say this is to save water.

The world is falling apart at the seams

This is an idiom that means the world is in a bad condition. We can also use the word “coming” instead of “falling.”

  • This car is coming apart at the seams.
  • The economy is falling apart at the seams.

You’ve been apathetic for too long

To be apathetic means that you are uninterested and unconcerned with something. It’s general used for big issues such as the environment and politics.

Hoof it across rives, lakes, and streams.

This means to travel through. It suggests that the guy is travelling quickly.

You’re not gonna ingratiate yourself with the local tribesmen

To ingratiate yourself with someone means to try to make someone like you. You do everything you can to please them. (Also notice the relaxed pronunciation of “going to”). The next sentence it says, “go to great lengths.” This means to make a major effort.

But, screw it!

This is like saying, “I’m not worried about that, I’m going to do it anyway.” This is common in informal English.

Hobble out of Central America

To hobble means to walk with an injury. As he had two toes cut off, you can clearly see him hobbling in the video.

Things at home are not what they used to be

Click here for a full explanation on “used to.”

Discussion

The video is an excellent example of the new type of marketing that has been made possible through viral video. It shows a guy who feels like he doing good things to help the environment. But, he hits a point where he feels like he needs to do more.

I’m sure we’ve all felt this at times and feel frustrated that we aren’t making a difference. The message of the video is saying that all we need to do is to buy rainforest alliance certified products (follow the frog) to make a difference.

Do you agree? Do you think that this is a positive message?

What symbols do you look for in your country? (Non GMO / Organic / Fair Trade)

A small challenge

At around 1:24 in the video, the guys says, “It is around now you realize you’re living out the cliché gringo fantasy of becoming an honorary native and leading the resistant forces.” (basically the idea that if you are from a rich country, you should go out into the world and save people who aren’t as rich as you).

At this point in the video it shows 5 films. Do you recognize any of these films? Is there a common theme?

Friends 7 Photo

Learn English with Friends: Can Chandler Break Up with Janice?

As Valentine’s Day is this week, I wanted to have a new Friends video on this theme. I found a clip that fits this perfectly!

As a background to the clip, Chandler gets back together with Janice again (without really wanting to) and feels like he should break up with her (again). The only problem is that it’s Valentine’s Day, and he doesn’t think it’s the right thing to do. Can he do it? Find out..

The Clip

The Transpcript

Janice: I brought you something.

Chandler: Is it loaded? Oh, little candy hearts. [reading the candy] Chan and Jan Forever.

Janice: I had them made special.

Chandler: Ok, Janice. Janice. Hey, Janice. Look, there’s no way for me to tell you this. At least there’s no new way for me to tell you this. I just don’t think things are gonna work out.

Janice: That’s fine.

Chandler: [surprised] It is?

Janice: Mmm-hmm. Because I know that this isn’t the end.

Chandler: Oh no, you see, actually it is.

Janice: No, it isn’t, because you won’t let that happen. Don’t you know it yet? You love me, Chandler Bing.

Chandler: Oh, no I don’t.

Janice: Well then ask yourself this. Why do you think we keep ending up together? New Year’s? Who invited who? Valentine’s? Who asked who into whose bed?

Chandler: I did, but–

Janice: You seek me out. Something deep in your soul calls out to me like a foghorn. Janice, Janice. You want me. You need me. You can’t live without me. And you know it. You just don’t know you know it. See ya.

[She kisses him passionately,then leaves.]

Chandler : Call me!

Analysis

Candy Hearts

These are sweets/candy that have little messages on them. This is what they look like.

I had them made special

Take a look at the two following sentences and think about the difference:

  1. I made them.
  2. I had them made.

The first one means that you made them yourself. The second example means that you asked someone to make them for you. Here are more examples of when we use the second sentence:

  • I need to have my hair cut.
  • I had my car fixed.
  • I had a pizza delivered.

In most cases, we can use “get” instead of “have.” – I need to get my hair cut.

I just don’t think things are gonna work out

Chandler is saying that he doesn’t think that the relationship is going to work. Using the phrasal verb work out (see here for other meanings) is very common when talking about relationships. It’s a softer way to explain that the other person isn’t right for you.

Why do you think we keep ending up together?

Janice could also word it like this, “Why do you think we always continue getting in relationships with each other? End up is a very common phrasal verb. Here are more examples:

  • I ended up buying the red one.
  • Who do you think he’ll end up choosing?
  • Why do I always ending up ruining things?

You can’t live without me

This is a very common expression, especially when it comes to romance. Here are other similar examples:

  • I couldn’t live without chocolate.
  • I couldn’t live with myself if I did that (I’d always feel guilty).

Exercise

Watch the video again and then complete the dialogue.

Questions

Janice: I brought you something.

Chandler: Is it loaded? Oh, little candy hearts. [reading the candy] Chan and Jan Forever.

Janice: I ______ (1) them made special.

Chandler: Ok, Janice. Janice. Hey, Janice. Look, there’s no way for me to ______ (2) you this. At least there’s no new way for me to tell you this. I just don’t things are gonna __________ (3).

Janice: That’s fine.

Chandler: It is?

Janice: Mmm-hmm. Because I know that this isn’t the end.

Chandler: Oh no, you see, __________ (4) it is.

Janice: No, it isn’t, because you won’t let that happen. Don’t you know it yet? You love me, Chandler Bing.

Chandler: Oh, no I don’t.

Janice: Well then ask yourself this. Why do you think we keep __________ (5) together? New Year’s? Who invited who? Valentine’s? Who asked who into whose bed?

Chandler: I did, but–

Janice: You seek me out. Something deep in your soul calls out to me like a foghorn. Janice, Janice. You want me. You need me. You can’t ________ (6) without me. And you know it. You just don’t know you know it. See ya.

[She kisses him passionately,then leaves.]

Chandler : _______ (7) me!

Answers

1. had

2. tell

3. work out

4. actually

5. ending up

6. live

7. Call

Challenge

In this lesson I want you to complete three sentences:

1. I couldn’t live without… (choose a food or drink).
2. The best way to break up with someone is to…
3. Chandler ends up being with…

Leave your comments below!

Learn English with Friends 6

Learn English with Friends #6: Answering Questions as Quickly as Possible

As a background to this clip: Pheobe is angry with Ross, Joey can’t decide the best way to get to Las Vegas, and Ross wants to go to the cinema.

The Clip

The Transpcript

Pheobe: Oh, hey Joey!

Joey: Hey

Phoebe: What’s up?

Joey: I can’t decide which route to take to Vegas. Hey, you’ve travelled a lot, right?

Phoebe: Yeah, I’ve been around.

Joey: Okay, so, so which route should I take the northern route or the southern route?

Phoebe: Ooh, if you take the northern route there’s a man in Illinois with a beard of bees.

Joey: Great! Problem solved!

Phoebe: But on the southern route there’s a chicken that plays tic-tac-toe.

Joey: Well, back to square one.

Phoebe: Oh, I know a way that you can decide! All right, I’m going to ask you a series of questions and you answer as quickly as you can.

Joey: (quickly) Yes!

Phoebe: Good, but wait. Okay, all right, here we go. Now I want you to relax. Take a deep breath. Clear your mind. Which do you like better peanut butter or egg whites?

Joey: Peanut butter!

Phoebe: Which would you rather be a fireman or a swimmer?

Joey: A swimmer!

Phoebe: Who would you rather sleep with Monica or Rachel?

Joey: Monica. Oh… huh, I always thought it would be Rachel.

Phoebe: No thinking! No thinking! Tie or ascot?

Joey: Ascot!

Phoebe: North route or south route?

Joey: North route!

Phoebe: Bamn! There you go! Huh?

Joey: Wow! That was incredible! Beard of bees, here I come!

Ross: Hey!

Phoebe: Oh, this guy again.

Joey: Hey man, what’s up?

Ross: Uhh, not much. You guys want to see a movie tonight?

Joey: Sure, what do you want to see?

Ross: I don’t know, umm…

Joey: Oh, I know how we can decide. Phoebe, show him your game!

Phoebe: Umm, no thank you. (Phoebe leaves)

Ross: What’s with her?

Joey: I don’t know. But hey, I know we can decide. Okay, I’m gonna ask you questions and you answer real quick. Okay?

Ross: Okay.

Joey: What do you like better action or comedy?

Ross: Action.

Joey: Who would you rather sleep with Monica or Rachel?

(Ross pauses and looks at him, Joey motions for him to hurry up.)

Ross: Dude, you are sick.

Joey: Oh, right, I’m sorry. I forgot you had that whole Rachel thing.

Analysis

Well, back to square one.

This is said when we have done something or think that we have made a decision, but we actually have to start again.

  • This cake is a disaster, I have to throw it away. Back to square one
  • I spent so much time trying to finish it. Now I’m back at square one.

I always thought it would be Rachel

“Would” here is used as the past tense of “will.” Always remember to use the verb “think” correctly in the past. Here are some examples:

  • I thought I was going to finish it on time.
  • They didn’t think they would come, but they did.
  • I thought about going for a long time.

Who would you rather be?

During the game Phoebe asks a lot of questions with, “would you rather..?” This is a way to ask hypothetical questions. See the game below to see more examples.

Tie or Ascot

To understand what an ascot is, here is a picture.

What’s with her?

This is another way to say, “What’s her problem?” It’s obvious that Phoebe has a problem with Ross at this stage.

I forgot you had that whole Rachel thing.

The “thing” Joey is referring to is Ross’ relationship with Rachel. The reason why this is funny is because Joey forgets that Monica is Ross’ sister.

Exercise

Listen to the dialogue again (maybe a few times) and then complete the sections below.

Questions

1. Joey: I can’t decide which _______ to take to Vegas. Hey, you’ve travelled a lot, _______?

2. Joey: Great! _________ solved!

3. Phoebe: Oh, I know a way that you can decide! All right, I’m going to ask you a series of questions and you answer ____ quickly ____ you can.

4. Phoebe: Good, but wait. Okay, all right, here we go. Now I want you to relax. Take a deep _______. Clear your _______. Which do you like better peanut butter or egg whites?

5. Phoebe: Which would you _________ be a fireman or a swimmer?

6. Joey: Hey man, what’s ____?

7. Ross: Uhh, not ______. You guys want to see a movie tonight?

8. Joey: Oh, right, I’m sorry. I forgot you had that whole Rachel _______.

Answers

1. route / right

2. Problem

3. as / as

4. breath / mind

5. rather

6. up

7. much

8. thing

Challenge

We are now going to play the game that Phoebe, Joey, and Ross played. I want you to answer each question as fast as possible!

Listen to the audio. You will have 3 seconds to decide. If you don’t understand the question, just move on the next one. You can see the text of the question below.

Questions

1. Where would you rather live: London or New York?

2. Who would you rather be: a footballer or a basketball player?

3. Where would you rather go on holiday: Italy or Thailand?

4. What would you rather have: A new television or a holiday?

5. Which would you prefer to eat tonight: Mexican or Indian food?

Leave your answers below!

learn english friends 5

Learn English with Friends #5: Joey Gets Locked in a Cupboard

In this clip you will learn some great new phrases and vocabulary. To give you the background, Joey built a HUGE entertainment center and Chandler wants him to sell it. So, he puts an advert in a local newspaper and a guy comes to take a look.

The Clip

The Transpcript

Joey: This is the unit for you my friend. Sturdy construction, tons of storage compartments, some big enough to fit a grown man.

Guy: What?!

Joey: Oh yeah! I got in there myself once. My roommate bet me five bucks that I couldn’t, and then he stuck a board through the handles and locked me in. Yeah. It was funny til’ I started feeling like I was in a coffin.

Guy: No, you, you can’t fit in that thing. That’s not deep enough.

Joey: Oh yeah? If I can’t, I’ll knock five bucks off the price off the unit.

Guy: Alright, you have yourself a deal.

Joey: Okay. (He gets in the unit and closes the door.) See?! I told ya!

(The guy puts the hockey stick through the handles and steals the stereo and a computer)

Joey: Sometimes I get in here just to get away from it! Hey, a nickel!!

Analysis

Tons of storage compartments

Tons = lots of. This is very common in spoken English, but is a little informal (don’t use it in meetings!). Here are more examples:

  • There were tons of people at the party last night.
  • I have tons of work to do before Friday.

My roommate bet me five bucks that I couldn’t

To bet someone something is to risk money against someone else on the basis of a future event. Joey thought that he could fit into the cabinet and Chandler didn’t.

  • I bet you 10 quid (pounds in British English) that Liverpool beat Arsenal.
  • I’m going to bet $1,000 on black at the casino tomorrow!

We can also use this verb when we feel sure about something:

  • I bet it rains tomorrow.
  • I bet this place gets really busy at the weekends.

Five bucks = five dollars. This is informal for American dollars only. As we saw before, people say “five quid” in the UK.

It was funny til’ I started feeling like I was in a coffin

Joey uses the relaxed form of “until.” This is common in spoken English.

If I can’t, I’ll knock five bucks off the price of the unit

Joey uses the first conditional here as he is talking about a particular situation in the future. To knock five bucks off means to take it off the price. So, if he fits in the unit, he’ll give the guy a five dollar discount.

I told ya’

We have talked a lot about relaxed pronunciation in our past videos, and Joey gives us another example here.

I told ya’ = I told you.

Can you hear how Joey pronounces this?

Sometimes I get in here just to get away from it

To get away from it (all) means to go somewhere to take a rest and escape normal life. This is funny as a cabinet is not the normal place to do this.

  • I need to take a break from all this work and just get away from it.
  • Let’s go on holiday and get away from it all.

Exercise

You can listen to the clip while doing this exercise.

Questions

Joey: This is the unit for you my friend. Sturdy construction, __________ (1) storage compartments, some big enough to fit a grown man.

Guy: What?!

Joey: Oh yeah! I got in there myself once. My roommate __________ (2) that I couldn’t, and then he stuck a board through the handles that locked me in. Yeah. __________ (3) I started feeling like I was in a coffin.

Guy: No, you, you can’t _____ (to fit – 4) in that thing. That’s not deep enough.

Joey: Oh yeah? If I can’t, ______________ (5) off the price off the unit.

Guy: Alright, you have yourself a deal.

Joey: Okay. (He gets in the unit and closes the door.) See?! I told _____ (6)!

(The guy puts the hockey stick through the handles and steals the stereo and a computer)

Joey: Sometimes I get in here just to _______________ (7)! Hey, a nickel!!

Answers

1. tons of

2. bet me five bucks

3. It was funny til’

4. fit

5. I’ll knock five bucks

6. ya

7. get away from it

Discussion

During the clip Joey told the guy that he had lost a bet with Chandler about whether he could fit in the cupboard or not. But, Chandler was tricking him and he just locked him in there. Then, the guy does the same and Joey falls for the trick a second time.

Now.. while he’s in the cupboard he tells the guy that he sometimes goes in there just to get away from it all. This is pretty funny because going into a cupboard isn’t an obvious place to do this!

As I work from home, sometimes I just need to get away from my desk and get out of the house. When I need to do this, when I need to get away from it all, I normally go for a walk with my dogs around the neighbourhood, or if I have time, I love to go hiking in the forest.

So, the question for this week is:

Do you sometimes feel like you need to get away from it all? And, if so, where do you normally go?

Learn English with Friends #4: Dinner at Joey’s

Learn English with Friends #4: Dinner at Joey’s

Before watching the clip, I want you to answer the following questions:

  • Where do you normally eat dinner?
  • Do you sometimes spill your dinner down your top?
  • Do you worry about leaving stains when you spill?

Okay, once you have answered those questions, watch the following clip.

The Clip

The Transpcript

Rachel: Oh, Joey! Sorry!

Joey: No, that’s alright. Don’t worry about it.

Rachel: Oh but look! That’s gonna leave a stain!

Joey: Rach! Hey! It’s fine! You’re at Joey’s!

Rachel: Really?

Joey: Yeah! Look! (He throws some of his spaghetti on the floor.)

Rachel: I’ve never lived like this before.

Joey: I know.

(Rachel throws some of hers down.)

Joey: All right, don’t waste it, I mean its still food. (He picks it up and eats it.)

Analysis

That’s alright

This collocation is like saying, “It’s okay.” It’s a very common response when someone apologizes and you feel that there is nothing to apologize about or you are okay with the situation.

  • I can’t make it out tonight, sorry. -> That’s alright.
  • Sorry but I we can’t come to the party. -> That’s alright.

Don’t worry about it

Joey is says this to Rachel as he doesn’t want her to be upset about what she did. He is saying that there isn’t a problem and that she shouldn’t worry.

  • I didn’t pass the IELTS exam -> Don’t worry about it. You can take it again.
  • I forgot to send the report this morning, I feel terrible. -> Don’t worry about it, you can send it tomorrow.

That’s gonna leave a stain

As in our earlier Friends clips, we see a lot of “gonna.” This is the contraction of “going to” in spoken English. Rachel is concerned that the spaghetti she dropped is going to leave a stain on the floor (leave a mark on the floor).

  • Don’t leave the paint on the floor, it might leave a stain.
  • Who left this stain here?

I’ve never lived like this before

Rachel uses the present perfect because she is talking about an experience that she hasn’t had. She is saying that she has never eaten in such a relaxed way.

  • I’ve never been to London before.
  • She’s never tried sushi before.

Don’t waste it

Although Joey feels that it’s okay to spill food on the floor by mistake, he doesn’t want Rachel to waste the food. So, he uses the imperative to let her know.

  • You shouldn’t waste food.
  • I feel bad when I waste food.

Exercise

Listen to the dialogue again (maybe a few times) and then complete it below.

Questions

Rachel: Oh, Joey! Sorry!

Joey: No, __________ (1). Don’t worry __________ (2).

Rachel: Oh but look! That’s ___________ (3) a stain!

Joey: Rach! Hey! It’s fine! You’re at Joey’s!

Rachel: Really?

Joey: Yeah! Look! (He throws some of his spaghetti on the floor.)

Rachel: I’ve _____________ (4) like this before.

Joey: I know.

(Rachel throws some of hers down.)

Joey: All right, don’t __________ (5), I mean its still food. (He picks it up and eats it.)

Answers

1. that’s alright

2. about it

3. gonna leave

4. never lived

5. waste it

Learn English with Derren Brown #2

Learn English with Derren Brown #2

In our second Derren Brown video we are going to look at how we describe something that is happening.

In a lot of cases, we use the present simple (and sometimes other present tenses) to describe what happens in a movie, book, or video. We can also use the past simple, but it is generally more common to use the present tenses.

The following video shows Derren Brown putting a wallet full of money in it and leaving it on the pavement. Do you think that somebody will pick it up?

Let’s find out:

The Video

As you can see, nobody took the wallet!

Description

As mentioned, it’s very common to describe what is happens in a video using the present simple. Here is my description (with audio):

Derren is standing on a busy street in London (Regent St). He counts some money, puts it in a wallet, and then smiles at the camera.

He then puts the wallet on the pavement (or sidewalk in AmE), draws a yellow circle around it and walks away. He leaves it there for a few hours. The video shows people walking past it, but nobody picks it up. Some look down at it, while most people just ignore it. One person, who has an umbrella, stops right in front of it, but decides to go around it and continues walking.

When it’s dark, Derren returns and picks up the wallet. He checks that the money is still there, puts the wallet in his pocket, and walks down the street.

Exercise 1

Complete the dialogue (without looking) using the following prepositions.

down x2, at, around x2, on, away, for, in, up x2, front, on.

Questions

Derren is standing ____ (1) a busy street in London (Regent St). He counts some money, puts it ____ (2) a wallet, and then smiles ____ (3) the camera.

He then puts the wallet ____ (4) the pavement (or sidewalk in AmE), draws a yellow circle ____ (5) it and walks ____ (6). He leaves it there ____ (7) a few hours. The video shows people walking past it, but nobody picks it ____ (8). Some look ____ (9) at it while most people just ignore it. One person, who has an umbrella, stops right in ____ (10) of it, but decides to go ____ (11) it and continues walking.

When it’s dark, Derren returns and picks ____ (12) the wallet. He checks that the money is still there, puts the wallet in his pocket, and walks ____ (13) the street.

Answers

1. on

2. in

3. at

4. on

5. around

6. away

7. for

8. up

9. down

10. front

11. around

12. up

13. down

Exercise 2

Complete the dialogue using the correct verbs and use the correct tenses.

to check, to count, to continue, to put, to draw, to smile, to show, to ignore, to decide, to stand.

Questions

Derren ______ (1) on a busy street in London (Regent St). He ______ (2) some money, ______ (3) in a wallet, and then ______ (4) at the camera.

He then puts the wallet on the pavement (or sidewalk in AmE), ______ (5) a yellow circle around it and walks away. He leaves it there for a few hours. The video ______ (6) people walking past it, but nobody picks it up. Some look down at it while most people just ______ (7) it. One person, who has an umbrella, stops right in front of it, but ______ (8) to go around it and ______ (9) walking.

When it’s dark, Derren returns and picks up the wallet. He ______ (10) that the money is still there, puts the wallet in his pocket, and walks down the street.

Answers

1. is standing

2. counts

3. puts

4. smiles

5. draws

6. shows

7. ingore

8. decides

9. continues

10. checks

Discussion

Why do you think nobody picked up the wallet?

If you saw a wallet in the street, what would you do? (second conditional)

Learn English With Derren Brown #1

Learn English With Derren Brown #1

This is the first of a new video series that focuses on learning English with Derren Brown. Recently we’ve introduced Ted Talks and Learning English with Friends, and hope that you enjoy learning with Derren!

In the following video Derren tries to make someone feel drunk without drinking anything. To get started, I want you to answer the following questions:

Do you drink alcohol? If so, how do you feel after drinking a drink or two?
Do you drink coffee? If so, how does that make you feel?

Once you have thought about those answers, watch the video and then follow the instructions below:

The Clip

The Transpcript

Derren: So, I think I’ll do this with.. erm… with you if I may? You strike me as a cider-man more than a beer-man, yes?

Student: I, er, yeah, yeah.

Derren: Cider?

Student: Yeah (surprised that Derren knew).

Derren: Can you grab a chair for me? Bring it round here. Great, put that on the floor. Alright, so the reason also why you guys are here is you know we haven’t prepared anything with you, we haven’t set anything up here. Also, just for the record, it’s quarter past one at the moment and you haven’t been drinking today, you haven’t drunk anything I hope.

Student: Nope. I’ve come straight out of lectures.

Derren: Perfect. Alright, okay. Close your eyes for me. I want you to imagine that you are having a glass of cider now. So, you bring the pint up to your mouth, and you take a sip. Where’s the sort of first location that you really would notice the flavor?

Student: The tongue.

Derren: On the tongue. Okay, great. And the second, as you sort of swallow and it goes down your throat, where would you notice it next?

Student: Back of the throat.

Derren: As it works it way down?

Student: The sternum.

Derren: Where next?

Student: Top of the stomach.

Derren: As is that back up to your shoulders as well, or not?

Student: It’s moving there.

Derren: Okay, alright. So, shoulders and where next?

Student: I feel it down my arms. The legs get involved.

Derren: Okay, what about the head?

Student: Beginning to.

Derren: And, where’s that, is it behind the eyes, or?

Student: In the center.

Derren: In  the center of your head. Okay, now imagine that looping around like a ? electric track inside of you. So, it’s going back to your throat. How would you describe the sensation in your throat?

Student: Cool.

Derren: A cool sensation in your throat. Okay, and as it goest down to your sternum, what’s that like? Give me a description of it. What’s the..?

Student: It’s refreshing.

Derren: Okay, and as it goes down to the top of your stomach?

Student: It’s filling.

Derren: And as it moves up to your shoulders?

Student: It’s just a kind of buzz.

Derren: And then to your arms and down here, as it comes down into your finger tips again, what’s that like there?

Student: Tingling.

Derren: Alright. And then move down your legs.

Student: Slightly weaker.

Derren: Weaker in the legs. Okay, and back up to the head.

Student: Euphoric.

Derren: Euphoric feeling. Excellent! A feeling of laughter.. (the video speeds up)… Euphoria that just bursts across the front of your face. AAnd each time this happens it gets stronger. Each time it moves around, you can double it. Just keep it going, keep it going, even as you stand up it can get twice as strong. Just feel that, what’s it like? (student laughs). How does it feel?

Student: I feel drunk.

Derren: Yeah. Are you having trouble standing? You hands are sweaty.

Student: I’m really thirsty!

Derren: And your legs are?

Student: Really shaky. Like I’ve had too many.

Derren: Have a seat. Keep it going, keep it going. Every now and then I’m going to show you a word that I’ve got written here. Alright, let me do this, it’s very important that you guys don’t see the word that’s written down, alright? Close your eyes for me. Andy, look at this word, each time you look at that word it gets stronger. That word sets it off. That feeling, that euphoria just kicks in every time you see that word. And it continues to loop around.. and yet at the same time, if you want, it can just clear. Look at me now, look at me now, and you can just let that go. Alright? Now, there’s no hangover. You feel good?

Student: That was scary.

Derren: But, you feel alright? And you can stand normally, you can stand up again, so that we can see that you can stand normally. Very different, yeah? Okay, sit down again. What’s it like, what was it like?

Student: It’s like being drunk, but a funny drunk.

Derren: But, you were absolutely feeling the effects of alcohol there.

Student: Yeah.

Analysis

You strike me as a beer man

This is a direct way to say, “I think that you like cider” or “I’m guessing that you like cider.”

Can you grab a chair for me

To grab something, in this case, means to get something. In other cases this verb means to take something quickly or to hold on to something. Here are some examples:

  • (A child talking to his mother) Ow! She just grabbed my hair!
  • I was walking down the street when suddenly this guy appeared and grabbed my purse!

You haven’t been drinking today, you haven’t drunk anything

This is a great example to show the difference between the present perfect continuous and the present perfect. The first one focuses on the action (drinking), while the second one focuses on the result (anything). Here is another example:

  • I’ve had a lot of coffee today (result).
  • I’ve been drinking coffee all day (action).

I’ve come straight out of lessons

This means that the student left the lessons and immediately met with Derren. Here are more examples:

  • I went straight to the gym after work yesterday.
  • (A wife talking to her husband) Come straight home after your football game.

Take a sip

This means to drink a small quantity of liquid. I often ask, “Would you like a sip?” when I order something different (like a new beer or a different type of tea).

It’s just a kind of buzz

If something gives you a buzz, it means that you feel a burst of energy and good feeling from a little alcohol or caffeine. I get a good buzz after my morning coffee or tea.

Eurphoria

To feel euphoric means to have a great level of happiness.

That word sets it off

This means to start it. So, when he sees the word that Derren has written, this will start off the drunk feeling. Here are more examples of using this phrasal verb:

  • Don’t set him off! (This is when you might encourage someone to feel a certain feeling or talk about something.
  • We’re setting off early tomorrow, so let’s get an early night. (to leave).

Hangover

The headache you get the day after drinking too much.

Discussion

How many cups of coffee have you drunk today?

If you drink, do you get a hangover the next day?

What time do you set off for work each day?

Ted Talk 2

Ted Talks #2: Learn Something New for 30 Days

This is our second Ted Talk post and is by Matt Cutts called, “Try Something New for 30 Days.”

Before you start the video, I’d like you to think about the following questions:

– What have you achieved in the past thirty days?
– What things do you do on a daily basis that are a waste of time?
– Have you tried something new recently?

(NOTE: We use the present perfect in the first question as “the past thirty days” is a present time expression and it still is connected to the present.)

Now, let’s take a look at the video:

The Clip

To download our special transcript, click the link that matches your native language:

Russian
Spanish
Italian

If your language is not show above, go to the following link and show the transcript in both English and your native language to compare: Ted Talk Original.

Analysis

To be stuck in a rut / To be in a rut

To be stuck in a rut means that you aren’t making progress and you are doing the same things all the time. Matt got out of his rut by trying something new for 30 days.

Here are more examples:

  • My work is so boring and I’m not progressing. I’m stuck in a rut.
  • I don’t want to get stuck in a rut with this novel I’m writing. I need some inspiration.

To follow in the footsteps

Matt says, “I decided to follow in the footsteps of the great American philosopher..” This means to copy someone or do something that is very similar to someone you know. A lot of the time, this is to do something similar to your parents.

  • My friend followed in his father’s footsteps and became a painter.
  • I’m going to follow in your footsteps by travelling to Argentina next year.

The months flying by

If time flies by, it means that it goes by very quickly. There is one particular expression here:

  • Time flies when you’re having fun.

To want something badly enough

To want something badly means that you really want something.

  • (A football manager to his players): How badly do you want to win this game?
  • If you want to speak English badly enough, you’ll work at it every day.

They were more likely to stick

If something sticks it means that it continues. When Matt made small changes, he said that he was more likely to continue doing these things, that they were more likely to stick.

Give it a shot

This is an American expression that means to give it a go, or try it out. It is usually used when the risks are low and the potential outcome is positive.

  • (Talking to a friend who likes a girl): Go on, talk to her, give it a shot.
  • I’m going to give this new project a shot.

Exercise

Choose the best option (taken from the talk):


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Learn English with Friends #3

Learn English with Friends #3

This is number three in our series of Clips from Friends.

Background: It is Rachel’s birthday and she is opening presents. Ross (who is in love with Rachel) isn’t there because he is in China.

The Clip

The Transpcript

Rachel: Who’s this from?

Chandler: Oh, that’s Ross’s.

Rachel:  Oh… Oh my God. He remembered.

Phoebe:: Remembered what?

Rachel:  It was like months ago. We were walking by this antique store, and I saw this pin in the window, and I told him it was just like one my grandmother had when I was a little girl. Oh! I can’t believe he remembered!

Chandler: Well, sure, but can you play it on a plane?

Phoebe: Oh, it’s so pretty. This must have cost him a fortune.

Monica: I can’t believe he did this.

Chandler: Come on, Ross? Remember back in college, when he fell in love with Carol and bought her that ridiculously expensive crystal duck?

Rachel:  What did you just say?

Chandler: ahem… um… Crystal duck.

Rachel:  No, no, no…. the, um, the… ‘love’ part?

Chandler: (not making sense)

Rachel:  Oh…. my God.

Chandler: [rubbing his temples] Oh, no no no no no….

Joey: [pats Chandler on the leg] That’s good, just keep rubbing your head. That’ll turn back time.

Analysis

1. We were walking…

“We were walking by this antique store, and I saw this pin in the window..”

This is a good example of when to use the past continue and past simple together.

2. It was just like

“…it was just like one my grandmother had when I was a little girl.”

This means that it was exactly like the one her grandmother had. Here are more examples:

  • You look just like one of my friends.
  • I used to have a bike just like that one.
  • His accent is just like Bill Clinton’s.

3. This must have cost him a fortune

Phoebe uses the term “must have” because she is talking about a certainty in the past; she is certain that it cost a lot of money. Let’s look at three examples using certainty in the present:

  • (Talking to someone who hasn’t slept for a long time): You must be exhausted.
  • (When looking for keys): They must be in the other room.
  • (Your friend has just got a new job): He must be really happy.

We can take the sentences above and put them in the past:

  • (Talking to someone who didn’t sleep for three days last year): You must have been exhausted.
  • (After looking for keys and not finding them): They must have been in the other room.
  • (Your friend told you that he got a new job last year): You must have been really happy.

4. What did you just say?

Rachel says this in a surprising way because she didn’t know about Ross and is a little confused. She uses this phrase because she is surprised and needs some clarification.

5. That’ll turn back time.

Chandler is obviously upset that he told Rachel that Ross was in love with her. He wants to go back in time and not say it again. “To turn back time” means to go back or rewind time. Here is a song by Cher that includes this in the lyrics (also look for the second conditional).

Discussion

Have you bought someone special anything that cost a fortune?

Have you ever given away a secret?

What would you do if you could turn back time?