Autumn is in full swing here in the northern hemisphere, so this Real English Conversations episode is full of vocabulary related to the colors, weather, moods and feelings associated with this time of year. Lori and her friend Eliza talk about exercising outdoors, the health benefits of spending time out in nature, and whether or not it’s a good idea to pick and eat wild mushrooms. Are you feeling tired and drained? Grab your audio player and some headphones, get yourself to a park or forest, and have a nice walk while practicing your English listening! I guarantee you’ll feel better after you do this than you did when you started. :-)
Supplementary material for further study
How nature affects our health and well-being
What is leaf peeping? Read this article in The Guardian and find out. Includes a wealth of adjectives related to being outdoors in the autumn.
This article explains how you can boost your mood by spending time in nature
Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. Wherever and whenever you happen to be listening to this I hope you’re doing great. I’m recording this in early November 2020, and if you aren’t living out in the bush somewhere with no connection to the outside world, you’re probably aware that it’s a pretty stressful time. So because the past few episodes I’ve given you have been about rather heavy topics, I thought I’d give you something lighter for a change.
A couple of weeks ago I recorded a fun conversation with another English teacher. Her name is Eliza and she is from Belarus. She’s not a native speaker of English, but her English is fantastic. I really enjoyed talking to Eliza, and I think you’ll agree that her infectious enthusiasm and positivity really shine in this conversation. And I also think that teachers who are not native speakers of the language they teach have a deep understanding of what it’s actually like to learn that language, and that this can really benefit their students. I often wish that I could somehow experience learning English like a non-native speaker, just so I would have insight into what it’s really like. Eliza teaches online at italki, so if you feel like your personalities would click and you want to get in touch with her about lessons, you’ll find her italki profile linked the show notes.
All right, the conversation you’ll hear is actually the very first time Eliza and I ever spoke. So I start off by asking her about how she learned English, because I was really curious about that. What follows is a great example of a typical informal conversation in English between two people who don’t know each other, but who at least have some things in common. Becoming conversational in a foreign language is really difficult because conversations are completely unpredictable. There’s no way that you can prepare in advance for everything that might happen in a conversation. As you’ll hear, Eliza and I cover quite a range of topics. We talk about how Eliza learned English as a child, then move on to the health benefits of spending time outside, our favorite seasons, and even whether or not it’s a good idea to pick and eat wild mushrooms.
Here in the northern hemisphere it’s autumn, or fall, right now, so there is a lot of vocabulary related to the colors, the weather and the feelings and moods of autumn. And hey, I even learned a new English expression from this conversation…listen and see if you can hear what that was. And if you’re interested in grammar there is a great example of the use of the modal verb would to talk about activities that you typically used to do in the past. There are also lots different types of conditional sentences in this conversation. So those are some things you can listen for if you are interested in picking out specific grammar points from this episode.
As always, you can find the transcript of this episode linked in the show notes. Or you can go to my website, betteratenglish.com, and find this transcript and many more all waiting there for you to download for your personal language study. My website also has all the different ways you can get in touch with me to let me know how you respond to these podcasts. What do you like? What don’t you like? What do you want more of? Less of? I make these podcasts for you, so if you have something to share with me, please do.
OK, let’s get started with the conversation. Are you ready? Here we go!
Lori: Oh, great. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know how old you were when you started learning English, but your English is…
Eliza: Ooh….I started learning English when I was a kid. I was seven years old at that time, or six, maybe six and a half at school. But you know, I took an interest in English in high school because I participated in Olympiads competitions. And I studied on my own for six hours per day. I bought books. My parents helped me a lot at that time, because we went to the capital of Belarus, Minsk, to buy British books, because the, the shop of British books was only in Minsk at that time. And I had no, the internet was not so widespread at that time. And I didn’t have any resources. So thanks to my parents, and they’re support I was able to buy a lot of books, and I just studied, studied and studied and crammed for hours on end. I participated in Olympiads and won, actually.
Lori: Oh, wow.
Eliza: Yeah, it’s a long story.
Lori: I think so cool to hear that the, the motivation and the interest came from within you. Because I mean, wouldn’t you agree that if you really want to learn and become super proficient at a language, you really do need that motivation?
Eliza: Exactly. Yeah. It’s not possible without it. Actually, maybe it’s not a good idea for a teacher to say so but I believe that being self taught, is sometimes more efficient, more effective, more productive than being taught by somebody else.
Eliza: Yeah. But not, but not everybody can be self taught…equally well, I mean. It takes a lot of self discipline, motivation.
Eliza: Yeah. It’s hard.
Lori: And I think most important is that you have a genuine need or that there’s something that you want to do with the language. That you really feel motivated, like, “I really want to be able to do this thing and I can’t do it now. So what do I need to do to be able to teach myself—or have a teacher help me be able—to do this thing that I want to do?” If you don’t have that, it’s, I don’t know…unless you have, like, more of an an interest just in language in general and find it fun to look at as more of, like, an object of study, then for me it seems like it’s hard to really make progress. But I digress, I digress. Have you been able…?
Lori: One thing about teaching online, I can imagine that you have to spend a lot of time inside at the computer is that…?
Eliza: It’s true. It’s true. Yeah. I’ve been searching for different materials for a long time before I stumbled upon something worthwhile to include into lessons. But actually, I’ve been teaching for many years. So that’s why for me now, it’s not that hard as it was, for example, nine years ago. No, it’s kind of just a walk in the park. If I may say so.
Lori: Yeah, a metaphorical walk in the park! But you are still…when you’re teaching and doing these things…you’re still inside, right? You don’t take your laptop outside and do lessons?
Eliza: Oh, you know, the weather now doesn’t enable me to do this. Of course, I would do this with pleasure, and I did it in the summer. Last summer. But now it’s not possible. Actually. I’m looking out of the window right now and I can see a drizzle…it’s drizzling… the sun… the sky’s overcast and, yeah, it’s not inviting. So no, I don’t want to go out, no.
Lori: I feel the same way…when I look outside and see it’s raining I’m not so motivated to get outside. But I will say as long as you have proper clothing and it’s not like just too terrible, you know, just totally pouring down [rain], with heavy winds or something. For me, the hardest part is just getting out the door. Once I’m out the door, then I find that it’s really, it’s not that bad, you know?
Eliza: Yeah, I agree. Especially, you can go leaf peeping. Yeah, not just going for a walk but leaf peeping. If you know what I mean?
Lori: Actually, I didn’t, you, we had talked earlier and you had mentioned this idea about leaf peeping. And I had no idea what it was.
Eliza: Yeah, it’s it’s a funny sounding term. Which means just obviously, what can you do with leaves? Yeah, when you are walking on a brisk, autumn morning, you can just pick leaves, red, yellow, russet, different colored leaves and just enjoy the views. Yeah, sort of this thing, yeah.
Lori: And apparently it’s actually a term, that is, an American term for basically going sightseeing with the goal of looking at beautiful autumn foliage, if I understand correctly, but I had never heard it heard it before. And at first I thought, “Ooh, that sounds a bit dodgy…leaf peeping!”
Eliza: It does!
Lori: …hiding in the bushes…hiding in the bushes and peeping out through the leaves!
Eliza: Oh, that’s what one of my students told me, yeah, when I asked him what he thinks it might mean. But yeah, it’s not that dodgy as it sounds. Actually it’s very beneficial if you go for a stroll in an autumn park and collect some leaves. It’s not just the idea of cleaning the leaves from the earth, from the ground, yeah, but enjoying the different colors and soaking up the atmosphere. Because according to some psychologists, it can boost your mood. Yeah, it can keep at bay some viruses and strengthen your immune system. So lots and lots of different benefits.
Lori: Yeah. And I would say that that probably generalizes to just being outdoors in general in pleasant surroundings, that it’s not specifically related to leaf peeping, or, you know, autumn foliage, but just in general, being outdoors, in pleasant surroundings, experiencing the wind on your face and the sun shining and seeing the plants and the trees, and if you’re lucky, maybe animals, that…that there’s something in us that just, it really makes us feel good.
Eliza: Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. Maybe can be explained by the fact that we, as a human race, yeah, we’ve all lived close to nature more than we’ve lived in concrete jungles. Yeah, in cities in big cities. So yeah, actually, how long have been have we been living in cities? Yeah, in terms of history, yeah, for two centuries?
Lori: Yeah, something like that, I would say, it probably started…
Eliza: It’s a drop in the ocean.
Lori: …around the Industrial Revolution? But history is really not not at all…my expertise at all. But compared to our…the the course of human evolution, the time we lived in cities is…is just a tiny little blip, really.
END TRANSCRIPT PREVIEW
Get the full transcript for free here: https://www.betteratenglish.com/054-leaf-peeping-transcript