transcript: Episode 28

Language learning



Intro [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the English Waffle, a podcast aimed at Advanced English language learners who want to improve their language skills by listening to real conversations. My name's Owain and in each episode, Mike and I do a bit of waffling about a specific topic. This week we've got a guest. Mike is talking to his friend Tom. It's worth mentioning that they recorded this episode before the full extent of the crisis was clear. None of us had any idea what a disaster is going to become and understandably quite light hearted about the whole thing. They soon move onto a whole lot of other topics centred around language learning, technology and immersion learning, living abroad, their own personal language, learning stories and quite appropriately at distance learning outside a classroom environment which is suddenly really popular. Okay, so let's get waffling.

Jingle [00:00:56] Welcome to the English waffle, where well talk about random stuff. Take you on a journey where you'll find out soon enough. That listening to the waffle is an entertaining way of sharing with you foreigners the things that British people say. Whoo. So join us on the Waffle and Strap yourselves in, for 10 whole earthling minutes of English listening.

Mike [00:01:23] So here we are. Here we are in Slovenia. 

Thom [00:01:28] Why are we in Slovenia? I hear you ask. 

Mike [00:01:31] Yeah, well, we're in Slovenia because we were due to attend a teaching conference for teachers, which sadly got cancelled at the last minute because of the Corona virus,. 

Thom [00:01:47] Which it turns out is not as funny as it originally sounded. 

Mike [00:01:51] Did it ever sound funny? I mean, I wasn't ever bowled over in hysterics,. 

Thom [00:01:57] But it sounded far away, which was a lot more reassuring than it is now. Wheras now it does feel slightly like the end of times. 

Mike [00:02:05] It does. It feels a little bit like. ...It just feels like it's the it's going to be the end. Yeah..

Thom [00:02:13]  I do feel a little like I might, you know, I don't know, message my mother. Tell her I love her, that sort of stuff.. It's a.. there's a great scene in one of my favourite books, a James Bond book. On many levels, the James Bond books are very bad, very imperialistic, racist, misogynistic. They're also quite amusing, possibly because of those things. But there's a great scene where Bond is about to jump out of a plane into shark infested waters. And he turns to his colleagues piloting the plane and says, tell mother I died game, which obviously, like linguistically is interesting because you'd never say that now. 

Mike [00:02:51] No. What does it mean actually? 

[00:02:53] Well, exactly, tell mother I died game I think means tell mother that I died, you know, willing to try game. 

Mike [00:03:01] Bravely. 

Thom [00:03:01] Yeah. Yeah. Willing to sort of.. and I feel like I want to text my mother and say, I died, game, but she'd panic. And I'm not dead yet. We are very close to the border with either Croatia or Hungary, depending which way we wanted to go and depending which border is still open. And then we could return to Ljubliana, which is having quite a severe outbreak at the moment. So our question is, you know, which way do we go? And obviously, we don't know the answer. 

Mike [00:03:32] We don't. And do we act socially responsibly and stay in the same place until the clouds pass, till the storm passes us over? Or do we sort of ti...? I think we're walking a very thin line here between panicking and, but also kind of, I think, just getting on with things, right? 

Thom [00:03:57] Yeah. Yeah. 

Thom [00:03:58] Well you sort of feel, for me, I feel like I slightly want to make a run for home because, you know, a time of crisis, I want to be with my family. And there's that element, you know, I mean, in terms of my kind of parents who are a bit older, obviously older than me chronologically cos they're my parents. But, you know, my parents are kind of older and slightly at risk in this sense, you know, but also my wife and our children. You know, I kind of want to be, I want to be with them really in times of crisis. 

Mike [00:04:29] And they want to be with you. And that will happen. 

Thom [00:04:32] Yeah, sure. I know. But it's also you think, well, yeah, but I'm a freelancer, so I also need to actually make money. And you think, well, can you do that? Is that possible? How much of that can you do realistically in these particular times? And who knows? 

Mike [00:04:46] I think we're lucky aren't we we've got I mean, we're not on zero hour contracts. And, you know, there are people out there, I think, who will suffer. 

Thom [00:04:54] Well, I mean, for myself, I've had loads of work cancelled in the last two weeks. You know, huge amounts of work. And you think, oh, what do I do now? And it's interesting to sort of think, er... And we were talking before about online learning and the huge jump in the last couple of weeks of online opportunities. And it's really interesting watching a lot of schools who are kind of concrete schools suddenly going. Ooh, right we'll offer some online learning platforms and lessons. And and what I find fascinating with that is you think, you know, as time goes on, we're increasingly less likely to travel about. But also as language learners, how much do we need to be in a classroom rather than on a device, but even how much language do we need to learn? Because you can do, you know, even now you can do fairly instant translations. You don't need to learn any languages, and that's only going to improve in terms of quality and efficiency. 

Mike [00:05:56] Do you feel, though, that there are benefits to being in the country and being in where the language spoken? 

Thom [00:06:04] It's interesting. When I was 18, I went to France and that was full immersion because it was before mobile phones, it was before e-mail. It was, you know, if I wanted to speak to my family, I had to go are in Greece, for example, when I was in my early 20s, I had to book time specific international phone booth. And make a phone call from there. And that was it. You know, and I would talk to my family once a week maybe, and we would send letters between, you know, home and abroad. And that was your contact. So in a way, it was good because, you know, it was learn Greek or die because there wasn't any other option. And you know, and I think that was really beneficial to me in terms of language learning. Because I wasn't, you know, like if you're studying in the UK and you're from the Philippines, you can spend every night speaking Tagalog for five hours via Skype or Tick-Tock, whatever it is with your friends and your family. Yeah. So really the stuff you learn during the day in school can wash away every night. You know, it it's not like you live in immerse yourself in the culture in the in the country as you once did. And I think that's probably a shame, really. 

Mike [00:07:16] I think a lot has to do with motivation as well. For me, the language learning journey. If I think of my own languages that I've learned Arabic, French and Spanish, it's kind of how do you sustain the motivation along that that particularly when you get to beyond intermediate stage where you understand a bit, but to push on. I think it it really comes down to why you want to do it. 

Thom [00:07:42] Yeah, definitely. And I think you're a really good example, partly because you've actually lived in places to make that jump and to move beyond the kind of classroom plateau. And I think that's really key, isn't it? 

Mike [00:07:54] And I think I'd add to that that you'd still need to keep using it. 

Thom [00:07:57] Yeah, definitely. 

Mike [00:07:58] You know. Otherwise you.. 

Thom [00:07:59] I think it's funny that. I feel like with languages that I've learned, the benefits have often come you know, quite quickly, in terms of being locked in a country, I mean, not like we are now, but like, you know, in my early 20s living abroad, you know, you're there for six months. That's it. So basically you have to learn the language, because otherwise you don't go out or you don't interact. Or you cant order anything in a restaurant. And so you have to learn the language. Whereas Yeah. now, of course, you've got.. conversely, you've got this great technology, which means that I can learn Hungarian in my house in the UK because there are apps and I can watch Hungarian films or I can listen to Hungary music at the touch of a button. And that's fantastic. And I can even chat to Hungarian people so that I can be working in my office in York and then at night socially interact with people in Hungarian or Mandarin or Russian, whatever language I want to learn. 

Mike [00:08:55] So you speak a lot languages, Thom, have you got any that you have a burning ambition to learn? 

Thom [00:09:03] Yeah, do you know it's funny I always feel like I speak relatively a lot of languages like you, but I also feel I could improve in all of those. I don't ever feel that I've got to a level in any where I couldn't improve. I think any new language I hear, I think, I wanna learn that I want to get, you know. And you're the same, aren't you? You kind of hungrily go, how do you say this, how do you say that and I noticed that this morning we were staying with these friends of ours who are local to this region. And you know, we were both kind of plaguing their children by saying, come on. How do you say this in Slovenian and how do you say this in Hungarian? 

Mike [00:09:39] And often children do make the best teachers. I think if you listen to children because they speak slowly, generally. And you could just learn a lot from them that you don't necessarily learn in a classroom environment. I find listening to children really helpful. 

Thom [00:09:55] I think thats really interesting , my son is now four and my wife is Turkish. And when he was born, until he was about three, I spoke to him largely in Turkish, which I speak reasonably well. 

Mike [00:10:09] You speak very well! 

Thom [00:10:12] Oh, gosh, im so embarrased (laughs) So I thought, you know, when he got to about three, I suddenly realised that we were having conversations that were deeper and more abstract. And I wanted to have those conversations in English. Because, you know, not because I couldn't do it in Turkish, but because I wanted to have that relationship with him. 

Mike [00:10:32] What kind of conversations? 

Thom [00:10:32] I dunno like.. 

Mike [00:10:32]  Why is the sky blue daddy, that sort of thing? 

Thom [00:10:37] Christ, I haven't got answers for that in any language. 

Thom [00:10:41] You know if it's little things about saying, you know, finish your milk or get your coat on or you know that I'm quite happy doing like Turkish. But if it's bigger things about him saying, you know, why do people die or do'y know what i mean, which he does cos he's 4 

Thom [00:10:55] Yeah. And I want to have that kind of relationship basis in a language that I feel comfortable in, but also a language that I love, you know, I love Turkish. But, I sort of think, you know, it also coincided with him realising that his Turkish is much better than mine in terms of grammatical sophistication. I've still got the hold on him on vocabulary but his grammatical sophistication is much better than mine. And so you could see him suddenly realising that my Turkish was not perfect in the way that his is perfect. About the same time I thought, actually, I want to be having these more deep conversations in English. Do'y know what i mean? And its very interesting as well because he.. like I speak French, and I've got a lot of French friends and he can he will quite happily listen to French, which he doesn't really understand. But for example, when my French speaking friends come to the house, he's quite happy for us to converse in French and won't ask for a translation or won't, you know, he doesn't understand it. But he doesn't mind us doing it. You know, he doesn't want to know what's happening. He's quite used to that. But, also,. 

Mike [00:11:59] Which is a really important skill, I think. 

Thom [00:12:01] Definitely. Well, if I read to him and I read like Tintin, for example, or Asterix, I've always read them in French because they know they are in French. And that's the versions I've got. And it's interesting because when he was little it washed over him, that;s fine and now he is aware that it's a different language, its a language he doesn't speak much of, and yet we've always done it so he's quite happy for me to read a Tintin comic to him in French. 

Mike [00:12:28] And you mentioned the other day that you sometimes read to him in a random language that neither he or you understand?

Thom [00:12:37] Yeah, there's something in that. And I think you know where where. Like, we've got books at home in like Polish, which I don't speak at all. Yeah. And we'll just do it as a bit of an adventure. Yeah. Because we dont understand it at all. And try and work out what's happening. B'cos it's quite fun and it's I think good for him and good for me to try and stretch our mouths around unfamiliar words and try and work out what they might mean. 

Mike [00:12:58] Absolutely. Well, that's as our ten minutes up Thom, as usual, a pleasure. In a rambling way. Definitely. And yeah. Give us a shout if you guys have anything that you'd like to share along the lines of language learning. 

Thom [00:13:13] And also, if you can decide what you think this particular episode was about. Please write and tell us b'cos we're not sure! 

Mike [00:13:22] Started off as one thing. usual. Okay. Happy waffling bye!

Thom and Mike enjoy a beer in Slovenia

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Language Analysis: episode 28

 Here are some of the bits of language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting... 





Life Under Lockdown - Madrid, Spain

Owain [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the English Waffle, a podcast aimed at advanced English language learners who want to improve their listening skills by listening to real conversations. My name's Owain and in each episode, Mike and I do a bit of waffling about a specific topic. We typically like to talk about light-hearted topics and we don't often venture into the territory of serious news, but no one can ignore what's going on at the moment. And one of the worst hit places during this pandemic has been Spain, in particular Madrid. And in this episode, I talk to a friend of mine who lives in Madrid, and he tells us a little bit about what it's like to be there on the lockdown. Let's get waffling. 

Theme music [00:00:42] Welcome to the English waffle, where we talk about random stuff. We'll take you on a journey where you'll find out soon enough why listening to the waffle is an entertaining... 

[00:00:56] [indistinct discussion] 

Owain [00:01:03] All right, so can you. Do you know how the English waffle music goes? I tell you what, that's going to be a test we're going to do for everything to guest on the English Waffle. We're gonna ask them to to to hum the English Waffle theme tune to see if they're listeners or not. Well done Lorenzo! Nice! 

Theme music [00:01:25] ...the English Waffle where we talk about random stuff. We'll take you on a journey where you'll find out soon enough. Why listening to the waffle is an entertaining way of sharing with you foreigners the things that British people say. So join us on the Waffle and strap yourself in for 10 whole earthly minutes of English listening. 

Owain [00:01:52] Hello and welcome to another episode of The English Waffle. Today I'm here with Lorenzo, who is a very good friend of mine from my time in Spain. Unfortunately, I'm no longer...I can no longer speak to Lorenzo in person, not because of lockdown or anything like that, but because we're in different countries, because I moved to England and Lorenzo is still in Spain. For me it's quite interesting 'cause...Hi Lorenzo...great to talk to you. 

Lorenzo [00:02:24] Hi Owain. Hi. Glad to see you. Glad to see you and hear you again. 

Owain [00:02:29] Yeah. No, it's it's we don't often get the opportunity, but now we have, you know, every day pretty much the chance to connect online. Right? It's pretty... 

Lorenzo [00:02:39] Absolutely, I think that this lockout has giving...given us a chance to get back to basics with some old friends, don't you think, I mean, you get to you get together, you Skype with everybody, you Whatsapp with everybody. Maybe a little bit more than you used to. 

Owain [00:02:54] Yeah, maybe a bit too much. I'm struggling actually to keep up with all of my online...interactions, to be honest. 

Lorenzo [00:02:59] Yeah, you're right. Right yes. 

Owain [00:03:02] It's li...It's like a full time job pretty much. So, but anyway Lorenzo, just just I'll give you a little bit of an introduction and I'll launch into the to the first question if you like it's um... You you work in the the food industry, right? In. 

Lorenzo [00:03:15] Yes. 

Owain [00:03:15] ...restaurants and menu development and things like that. Yeah? 

Lorenzo [00:03:20] Yes, yes, yes. We have over 500 restaurants in Spain, most of them franchises and associates. Yes. So we were the first ones to to actually go down during this crisis. 

Owain [00:03:32] I was gonna say...How's that going? Yeah. Not too well at the moment. 

Lorenzo [00:03:35] Well it looks bleak, actually. Well, depending depending on the let's say of the digital transformation stage you're in, I mean, you would be able to go out again and y'know prove yourself. But I think this is going to be a cruel test for those restaurants in Spain and all over the world, obviously. 

Owain [00:03:56] Well, I mean, you're also a chef, Lorenzo, is that right? And I have to say, um, a very good one. I can confirm that firsthand. 

Lorenzo [00:04:08] Not that good. 

Owain [00:04:08] But you've also worked as a cooking teacher, right? 

Lorenzo [00:04:11] Yeah, yeah, for six years. 

Owain [00:04:13] Right ok. 

Lorenzo [00:04:13] And then I became this kind of consultant, the head chef of different brands. 

Owain [00:04:18] Right, and and I understand, I remember you telling me, basically, that it's less well paid, but it does give you kind of a better quality of life, better timetable. And I think you once said to me, "Oh, I would love to go back to teaching so I could spend more time with my family". Do you still stand by those words? 

Lorenzo [00:04:37] Now I'm having second thoughts about that. Well, yeah, definitely, this past four, and it's going to become, five weeks of being...have been intense. 

Owain [00:04:51] Has it...Is it five weeks now? 

Lorenzo [00:04:52] Well, no, it's four weeks, but I actually...I started on the 8th, so tomorrow I'm going to start my fifth week of isolation. 

Owain [00:05:03] OK, so you've been in your flat with your family now for four weeks already and you're starting your fifth week. 

Lorenzo [00:05:10] Yep. Yep. Starting tomorrow.

Owain [00:05:11] And you just had some good news from Pedro Sanchez about... 

Lorenzo [00:05:16] Well, apparently the the curve is going down and we are taking control of the virus and everything, but, I mean, I would say that you still have work to do. I mean, maybe the numbers are going down, but this is far from gone.

Owain [00:05:33] Right and I understand that the the the lock is going to be extended. Right. For... till the end of. 

Lorenzo [00:05:37] Last Saturday...told us that it's going to be another two weeks. So it's going to last in the last days of April, maybe twenty sixth, twenty ninth, I just can't recall. 

Owain [00:05:49] But I mean...I mean, a lot of this stuff, obviously, we we are following the news pretty much...You have plenty of time to go on the Internet and check out the news you can see what's going on in the world. And we, you know, we've seen some pretty negative things from Spain, some scary statistics. We've also seen some really uplifting, amazing images of people on their balconies clapping the health carers. What I'd like to talk to you, though, about Lorenzo is is your experience within those four walls over the last few weeks. How how...what are you doing just to to keep sane? Pretty much. What, What's it like? 

Lorenzo [00:06:33] Well, actually, you take things with kind of a...with a pinch of salt and pinch of philosophy, I would say. I mean, you have two kids... 

Owain [00:06:41] Yeah. 

Lorenzo [00:06:41] I mean, they have to read, they have to write. I mean, they are...they are 5 and 7, close to being 6 and 8. So they are precisely that stage where, you know, they they ask for you to, y'know, to be more than a father, you know, and you have to be there and...How would I say it? Erm, these last four weeks have been more than about focussing on the children... 

Owain [00:07:10] Right. 

Lorenzo [00:07:10] ...than anything else? I mean, you don't have much time to think about the virus and how deadly it's going to be or I mean, you just focus on your kids. And, I mean, you get up, you have brekkie, then you go for the, I dunno, for the reading exercises and the writing exercises and you have Zumba classes. 

Owain [00:07:33] Zumba classes. Oh nice!. 

Lorenzo [00:07:33] Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, you're not just the dad; you're the dad, you're the teacher, you're the Zumba monitor, you are... 

Owain [00:07:39] Right, right. 

Lorenzo [00:07:40] ...just everything in the single day. Then, well, you try to, I mean, it's been great. I mean, it's I'm sure most families have found it a little bit rough at times. But overall, I mean, it's been a good experience... 

Owain [00:07:57] Right. 

Lorenzo [00:07:58] ...with lots of positives, also, I mean, not just, you know, stressing things or, you know, I mean, it's been fun. 

Owain [00:08:07] Okay. thinking about positives - What are...What are...been the good things about being shut up with your family for the last four weeks? What what what've you enjoyed? 

Lorenzo [00:08:17] Well, actually, you know what, to be focussing on your children, to be able to, you know, to relax and watch a little bit of telly with them, to relax and grow a little bit with them, to do, you know, the usual things you take for granted, er, now you're actually able to do them? I mean, to be able to be a part of their...of their, I don't know, reading classes or how..., I mean, every single success of your own children during these these days, you're a big part of them. You are just just a big part of it. I mean, Alejandro, son, he's a starting to to write and he's starting to read in both languages, I mean, you know, in English or in... a... and in Spanish. And every single word he know, you know that you're a part of it. 

Owain [00:09:05] Yeah, yeah. I mean it... 

Lorenzo [00:09:06] ...and that... 

Owain [00:09:06] ...and th...and this is coming from a dad who...okay, yeah, you...I think you've had, um, peaks of work where you have had to spend a lot of time away from your family. 

Lorenzo [00:09:17] Away, yes. 

Owain [00:09:19] I, I...I remember when when we were over there, erm, more or less neighbours and we would come around and you would tell me, well, yeah, we were up until about two o'clock in the morning last night preparing these bottles for for the school. You know,...uh, I've I've never seen such dedication to school projects 'cause you're quite artistic... 

Lorenzo [00:09:44] Yeah, maybe... 

Owain [00:09:45] ...that's that's the... 

Lorenzo [00:09:48] Well, I'm going to be honest with you. Erm, maybe that's just an excuse because actually me and Olga, we we absolutely enjoy all those crafts. 

Owain [00:09:57] Right. 

Lorenzo [00:09:57] I mean, we just love them, love them, love them. so... 

Owain [00:09:59] Yeah. Yeah. 

Lorenzo [00:10:00] ...maybe that's just an excuse. I mean, the children, yeah, they could help, but... 

Owain [00:10:04] But it's more about you. 

Lorenzo [00:10:05] I would say mostly it was because of us. 

[00:10:09] [laughter] 

Owain [00:10:11] It was kind of like a ni...a by-product of the fact that you had... 

Lorenzo [00:10:14] Absolutely! 

Owain [00:10:14] ...had something something good to take to school. 

Lorenzo [00:10:16] Yes. No doubt. No doubt. Yes. Yes. 

Owain [00:10:20] Ok... 

Lorenzo [00:10:20] Now, well, you're doing that also, I mean, we've been growing, I think it's, green beans. 

Owain [00:10:28] Oh, yes? 

Lorenzo [00:10:28] Chickpeas.... 

Owain [00:10:30] Oh, nice. Ok.

Lorenzo [00:10:30] Whatever...whatever we can. 

Owain [00:10:33] Are you going for sub...subsistence there Lorenzo or...? 

Lorenzo [00:10:37] No, no, no, no, not subsistence, just know, we had a...we had three chickpeas left in the bag and, you know, I'd forgotten and then we say, oh, well, let's plant them and we just did. That's good. I mean, you have to find new things to do with it with the children. I mean, that's it. 

Owain [00:10:55] Yeah, 'cause, I mean, lit...literally your your flat is is your whole world at the moment, I mean... 

Lorenzo [00:11:00] Oh, forty five square meters of the whole world. Yes.

Owain [00:11:06] Yeah, yeah, I mean...and I, my thoughts just go o... 'cause you live in a pretty similar flat to the place where I used to live in in Madrid and my my thoughts just go out to everybody in Madrid and anywhere in the world, actually, who is stuck in in a flat somewhere in the centre of the city. I used used to be there myself. And just by sheer chance, I'm living a different, in a different place now. And I'm so grateful for it. But fingers crossed, very soon this will all come to an end. We'll be able to [indistinct] our lives. 

Lorenzo [00:11:38] It has to... 

Owain [00:11:39] It has to. 

Lorenzo [00:11:39] It has to. It has to. 

Owain [00:11:41] Yeah, er, and actually one of of the...It's quite sad for me in a sense, Lorenzo, because, um, obviously, you're...erm, you're in Spain. You speak English and Spanish. And one of the things I think that that brought us together is is as as friends and as two families was the fact that we...we have this kind of bilingual thing going on and that that's what I really wanted to talk to you about it in another English Waffle episode. 

Lorenzo [00:12:07] Ok. Ok. Love to. Yes. 

Owain [00:12:10] It's unfortunate that that this whole thing has has has come up first. But I think I think it's really interesting to give people an insight into, however brief, into what it's like to be there in Madrid right now. I mean, erm... 

Lorenzo [00:12:25] You know what's... 

Owain [00:12:26] Any final words Lorenzo, anything that you just want to say? 

Lorenzo [00:12:29] Yeah, interesting about, you know, the experience is that you never realise how bad it could get. 

Owain [00:12:37] Right. 

Lorenzo [00:12:38] And you are never able to see how bad it could get. 

Owain [00:12:41] Yeah. 

Lorenzo [00:12:41] I remember maybe three weeks ago we saw Italy, you know, the numbers were sky rocketing all the way up, er, the number of beds, they would double ours and everything and not two weeks later, I mean, we are past them. So the thing is, don't ever let your guard down... 

Owain [00:12:59] Yeah. 

Lorenzo [00:12:59] ...please follow every single every single, what do you say...? 

Owain [00:13:07] Like guideline or recommendation. 

Lorenzo [00:13:08] Guidelines, you know, the government says. 

Owain [00:13:10] I think...there...instructions now. 

Lorenzo [00:13:13] Because...Yes. You could be a lot closer in to this situation that you might imagine. 

Owain [00:13:17] Yeah. Yeah, yeah, exactly. 

Lorenzo [00:13:20] So, stay safe, stay safe,... 

Owain [00:13:22] Stay home. 

Lorenzo [00:13:23] Stay safe. 

Owain [00:13:24] And stay home. 

Lorenzo [00:13:26] And stay home. Yes. At least yeah, these days, yeah, maybe you have to stay home, yes, definitely. 

Owain [00:13:33] I mean it's a few months... In a few months time, I'm pretty sure we're all we'll all be back to normal more or less. OK. Yeah. Thanks. On that note, just one final word. 

Owain [00:13:44] Plans for tomorrow?

Lorenzo [00:13:46] Oh god, er, I think we have Zumba...Zumba classes from 11 to 12. 

Owain [00:13:52] Oh Zumba class again. Oh right. 

Lorenzo [00:13:53] Yeah. Every single day. Yes, every single day after aerobics. Yeah, no, you have to. You have to keep something. You have to keep all this up. 

Owain [00:14:02] Yeah. Any any any reading time for you? 

Lorenzo [00:14:05] Absolutely not. I thought I would have, but. No, no, not at all. 

Owain [00:14:11] All right, well, maybe that's something for tomorrow. Just put your foot down and say guys like, you know, I've I've done the English Waffle How about I can just have five minutes to read a book? 

Lorenzo [00:14:23] OK. Yes, I'll do that. 

Owain [00:14:24] Yeah, give it a try, give it try. 

Lorenzo [00:14:25] I'll tell them it was your idea. 

Owain [00:14:29] Ok. All right Lorenzo. Well, thank you very much for coming on. And as I said, I hope...I hope we get the opportunity to have another conversation in the future about a different topic. 

Lorenzo [00:14:38] Whenever you want. I'm not going anywhere. 

Lorenzo [00:14:40] Brilliant, well, thanks for listening, everybody. And please look out for the, er, the transcript for this episode on the English Waffle website, er, keep waffling! 

How much did you understand?

Owain [00:14:57] So that was Lorenzo, Life Under Lockdown in Madrid, Spain. What is your life like under lockdown? What are you finding difficult about it? What positive things have you found? Why not write in and share your experiences with us? You can go to our website, And go to the Contact Us page and you can find options to write us a message via the browser or via WhatsApp. 

[00:15:30] Now, as we mentioned before, we're currently looking at ways to improve the podcast. We know the sound quality isn't always the best, especially when we have to record online. But we're working on it. And we're also speaking to some of you about ways to improve the content of the podcast. One thing you've shown interested in...interest in is having some support with each episode after the conversation with help to clarify some of the things said immediately after you've listened to the episode. Many of you don't have time to go onto the website and look at the transcripts, etc. So...the idea is to help you with something, maybe, maybe something you misunderstood or anything you've missed. To do this, I'm going to ask you a few questions. After each one, I'll pause, so you can think about your answer. Think about your answers. And if you need more time, you, of course, can pause the audio. Then I'll I'll give you the answer, or the answers, so you can check your ideas. This time I'm going to focus on specific vocabulary items. OK. 

Question 1 [00:16:43] At the beginning of the conversation. What am I struggling to keep up with? 

Answer 1 [00:17:01] That's correct, I'm I'm struggling to keep up with my online interaction. It's not an easy task. There are so many friends and contacts to to interact with. I'm struggling to keep up. 

Question 2 [00:17:17] OK, so then I introduce Lorenzo. I give a bit of information about his background, I mention something he said to me in the past. Why do you ask Lorenzo whether he 'stands by those words'? 

Answer 2 [00:17:45] Right, the particular thing he told me was that he wanted to change back to a teaching job which allows him to spend more time with his family. And of course, the, er, the funny thing is that he's spending more time with his family now than he could have possibly imagined. And my question is, do you still believe or support the idea behind that, that wish, that desire? 'stand by those words', 'stand by your words' very often we say. 

Question 3 [00:18:23] Later, I talk about what we've seen in the news before asking Lorenzo about his personal experience and I mention 'health carers'. What do I mean when I refer to 'health carers'? 

Answer 3 [00:18:44] Actually, some of you may have spotted this as a mistake. I got confused and mixed up 'healthcare workers' and 'carers'. Healthcare workers are people who work for the national health system: doctors, nurses. And carers are a different system, who work in care homes and typically look after elderly people or other vulnerable members of society. This happens to me from time to time. I...when you're speaking spontaneously, you get confused and you you say things that even just a few seconds later you think, does that, does that exist? It's too late to do anything about it. 

Question 4 [00:19:29] When I ask Lorenzo about his experience in lockdown and strategies, strategies for staying sane, why does he say you have to take it with a pinch of salt? 

Answer 4 [00:19:51] I think what Lorenzo means here is that that, erm, you basically try not to worry too much about it. And this is kind of related to the true meaning of this particular expression, which actually to not completely believe something you're told. So he's kind of kind's a bit of a mixed metaphor, which is quite common in spoken to our interactions and most of the time we don't notice because we we...we get the idea of what someone's saying and we move on to the next part of the conversation. To take something with a pinch of salt as, for example, if if we said the government says lockdown will end next week, you might take that news with a pinch of salt; you might not fully believe that it's true. And I actually think later Lorenzo kind of clarifies his intended meaning by following up with an original take on the expression, a pinch of philosophy, by which he means, you know, you kind of have to be philosophical about the whole thing, you know, and sec...accept it calmly without being angry. 

Question 5 [00:21:02] OK. As part of Lorenzo's description of their daily activities, he mentions 'brekkie'. What does brekkie mean? 

Answer 5 [00:21:16] Yep. Some of you probably are saying that it is a slang term for breakfast and you are correct. And Lorenzo also mentions planting chickpeas and things like that. 

Question 6 [00:21:31] And why...why do you ask him? Are you going for subsistence there? What do I mean?

Answer 6 [00:21:49] Right. Yeah. I'm kind of asking about what he's trying to do by planting chickpeas and lentils and things like that. The question is, are you aiming at or intending to achieve some kind of subsistence - being able to survive on food without depending on anybody else? So, are you 'going for' is quite a useful phrasal verb 'to go for something'. Another example may be 'Oh, he's got a new haircut. I think he's going for a new look.'. 

Question 7 [00:22:24] OK. Towards the end of the conversation. I try to be positive and I say, something along the lines of, 'Fingers crossed, very soon, this will all come to an end.' What does 'fingers crossed' mean? 

Answer 7 [00:22:46] Yep, you're quite right. It means we hope something will happen. Often we say it, sometimes we even physically do it. We cross our fingers and, yeah, so you might play the lottery and cross your fingers that you're gonna win. You hope you can win? 

[00:23:06] Well, I hope this has been a useful review of some of the language in this episode. If you have any comments, please write in and tell us about th...tell us what you think and see you next time. Keep waffling! 



Puerta del Sol, Madrid, Spain

language analysis: episode 29


Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  




‘a state of isolation or restricted access instituted as a security measure’ 


Compare to: quarantine – ‘a state, period, or place of isolation in which people or animals that have arrived from elsewhere or been exposed to infectious or contagious disease are placed.’ (source:

Not really much to differentiate these terms in the context of this global pandemic. We’re under lockdown as a way of enforcing mass quarantine. Neither of them are desirable and both result in a temporary loss of freedom.

struggle to keep up (with) 

[2:57] I'm struggling actually to keep up with all of my online interactions

It's not an easy task because there are too many friends and contacts to interact with

It requires a lot of effort to stay in touch.

struggle (vb) – make an effort, fight (to do something)

keep up with (ph vb) – 1. learn about or be aware of (current events or developments); 2. continue to be in contact with (source:

It’s not clear to me which meaning of ‘keep up with’ I intended. Perhaps both are relevant. It just goes to show how imprecise are the ideas we produce when speaking spontaneously. As listeners of casual conversation, perhaps we shouldn’t be too concerned about understanding too precisely speakers’ intended meanings.

stand by those words 

[4:36] And I think you once said to me, "Oh, I would love to go back to teaching so I could spend more time with my family". Do you still stand by those words?

There are two related expressions here, both of which figure in the iWeb: The 14 Billion Word Web Corpus ( 

  • stand by those words – 20 times
  • stand by your words – 19 times 

The meaning is the same: ‘adhere to or abide by (something promised, stated, or decided)’. Lorenzo stated that the words ‘spend more time with my family’ as the main benefit of going back to teaching cooking. Check out the other related meanings here:

healthcare workers¹; care workers²

[18:23] Later, I talk about what we've seen in the news before asking Lorenzo about his personal experience and I mention 'health carers'. What do I mean when I refer to 'health carers'?

1. people who work in the healthcare system (the NHS in the UK) - healthcare: ‘the organized provision of medical care to individuals or a community’ 

2. people employed to support and supervise vulnerable, infirm, or disadvantaged people, or those under the care of the state.

There has been quite a lot of controversy of the different treatment of these workers during the Coronavirus crisis. Some say care workers have not been supported enough by the government.

As I point out at the end of the episode, I’m guilty of naming these brave people incorrectly, saying ‘health carers’, a kind of mix of the two. It may surprise you that a native-English speaker makes these kinds of mistakes. My research, limited though it is so far, seems to suggest that this kind of thing is far more common than we think, but that most of the time we don’t notice.

transcript: Episode 30



Intro & Music [00:00:00] [Welcome to...] Hello and welcome to the English Waffle, a podcast aimed at advanced English language learners who want to improve their listening skills by listening to real conversations. My name's Owain and in each episode, Mike and I do a bit of waffling about a specific topic. In this episode, we're sharing part of a conversation about lockdown. It's about baking. Are you spending more time baking cakes or anything else in the kitchen? Listen to this quick chat and write in to let us know what you're making in the kitchen and how you feel about it. 

Mike [00:01:04] I baked a cake today. 

Owain [00:01:05] Which...what kind of cake? 

Mike [00:01:08] A lemon drizzle cake. 

Owain [00:01:11] Oh, mate, I've done that one. Yeah. 

Mike [00:01:13] Have you? 

Owain [00:01:13] Yeah, I did it for my...Whose birthday was it? It was while we've been here. Whose b...whose birthday...? (It) might've been....I don't know. I did it for... 

Mike [00:01:24] How was it? Does it...Did it work out well? 

Owain [00:01:26] It was really, really good. Yeah, really good and everybody was amazed that I'd, I'd baked it. So... 

Mike [00:01:34] Including you? 

Owain [00:01:36] Yeah, well, no, not so much, because I was I was there during the, you know, the process. 

Mike [00:01:43] Erm, I found the whole process, from buying the ingredients to zesting the lemons and finding out what zesting meant. And then talking to my mum a little bit during get her advice and just and the whole process I found really enjoyable. 

Owain [00:02:01] Like therapeutic or...? 

Mike [00:02:05] Not really just, um, like it reminded me a bit of my childhood, so I, um, you know, you got all your, you've got your mixture of like butter and flour and eggs and sugar and then you got this spoon with all the bit that doesn't get this bit of glob, bit of glob, and you just, you know, when you were young. 

Owain [00:02:28] Yeah. Yeah. 

Mike [00:02:29] When you were young and then you'd...But being an adult, you can just do it and there's... 

Owain [00:02:32] Oh it's brilliant, but do you know what ruined it. The whole thing was ruined at some point by the Salmonella scandal and my mum's paranoia, because there came a point where you couldn't, well, people were scared of eating raw eggs. So that...and obviously most of these, you've got raw eggs in there somewhere. 

Mike [00:02:54] Yeah. 

Owain [00:02:55] You had to stop doing it. And I remember as a child...So it must have been while we were young that the whole salmonella thing came along because my mum wasn't worried about it for ages and then and then that came along and all of a sudden you felt, oh no, maybe I shouldn't... 

Mike [00:03:08] No more cake baking. 

Owain [00:03:11] Well, no I think we carried on making cakes. But... 

Mike [00:03:14] Good, good. 

Owain [00:03:14] But you weren't allowed to dip finger in the...My mum would look me: "What you doing? Salmonella!" 

Mike [00:03:18] Yeah. Yeah. Fingers out, well maybe was... 

Owain [00:03:20] She ruined it for me. 

Mike [00:03:23] Maybe she was press..., you know, maybe she had foresight of what was to come and some weird way, I mean, I don't know what....I don't know where I'm going with that. I don't know where I'm going with that. 

Owain [00:03:37] Mate but it's it's a good it's a good topic you've brought up because with a lot of my students, they...I kind of give them quite a bit of leeway in terms of, you know, what they want to do in the lesson. And one of the things they came up with was why don't we all share a recipe in the next lesson? And so we've been doing recipes. 

Mike [00:03:54] Oh you've been doing it. 

Owain [00:03:55] Yeah. We've just been...and they actually played a little game where, you know, someone how to make something, then we have to guess what it is from the ingredients and from the...It's a nice, a nice little game. Yeah, yeah. 

Mike [00:04:07] And what kind of meal...? What kind of...[inaudible]? 

Owain [00:04:10] So, we've had hummus; we've had Spanish omelette; and my one, one I did was a banana loaf cake, which is one of of my favourite cakes. 

Mike [00:04:22] Mmm, yeah, banana loaf cake. 

Owain [00:04:25] No, it was good. 

Mike [00:04:26] What a fantastic idea for, um, you know, for for, for learning increasing your vocabulary, right? 

Owain [00:04:33] Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Yeah, I mean, because there's a lot of stuff that is is unusual in everyday life. You know, you got things like: heat, heat the oven and crea...cream cream the eggs until fluffy. 

Mike [00:04:50] Yeah, that's it. It's, it's...There's a lot of vocabulary around, sort of degrees of temperature and degrees of, you know, how much do you cook something, you simmer it, you sauté it, you let it boil for a certain...and there's a lot of good stuff around that in a second language. And it's a bit like Desta's language learning through music, isn't it, in a sense. Sort of, if you start with the idea that language is something that you form an you get you you form an emotional bond with it, right? 

Owain [00:05:27] Yeah. 

Mike [00:05:27] You, you like the words. 

Owain [00:05:28] Yeah, absolutely. 

Mike [00:05:29] You like what they mean. 

Owain [00:05:29] Yeah. 

Mike [00:05:30] And so that that that's like in cooking. Everybody likes food, right? And so if you get that as your starting point - everybody likes food and everybody likes being in the kitchen and doing...not everybody likes being in a kitchen, but...that's a really good idea to to get... 

Owain [00:05:47] Well, especially at the moment, yeah, because everybody's started cooking like. That's why you can't find any flour anywhere. But yeah, I me...I mean it's it's it's difficult, isn't it? it's one of these trade offs, because as we we were going through the recipes, you think yourself this is great, this is really gre...interesting language and different uses of words and you you find out stuff you didn't realise before and then you think, oh, but when are they actually gonna use this? 

Mike [00:06:12] In the kitchen, though. 

Owain [00:06:15] Yeah, when're they going to use it in the kitchen? 

Mike [00:06:17] Food is a big part of our lives. But, you know, this is it's not really about the functionality, is it, as much as the, the, the, the curiosity of of how, you know, how language works... 

Tom Blackwell
Tomato Bullet

Tom Blackwell

Tomato Bullet

language analysis: episode 30


 Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  


lemon drizzle cake

Mike: [00:01:08] A lemon drizzle cake


Mike: [00:01:50] zesting the lemons

zest - noun: the skin of an orange, lemon, or lime, used to add flavour to food (

Interestingly, there is no mention of ‘zest’ as a verb on the Cambridge website. Collins’ online dictionary doesn’t have an entry for a verb even though other derivations are listed (see here). On my third attempt I’ve found an entry (here: for a verb: (cooking) To scrape the zest from a fruit - which suggests it has been in use for very long.

Zesting a lemon on Youtube:

More vocab at around [00:02:05] 

mixture - any foodstuff made by combining different ingredients; "he volunteered to taste her latest concoction"; "he drank a mixture of beer and lemonade" (

butter - a soft yellowish or whitish emulsion of butterfat, water, air, and sometimes salt, churned from milk or cream and processed for use in cooking and as a food. (

flour - 1. A fine, powdery foodstuff obtained by grinding and sifting the meal of a grain, especially wheat, used chiefly in baking. (

eggs - oval reproductive body of a fowl (especially a hen) used as food (

sugar - (Cookery) Also called: sucrose or saccharose a white crystalline sweet carbohydrate, a disaccharide, found in many plants and extracted from sugar cane and sugar beet: it is used esp as a sweetening agent in food and drinks. Formula: C12H22O11. (

(bit of) glob - A soft thick lump or mass: a glob of mashed potatoes; globs of red mud. (

hummus - A smooth thick mixture of mashed chickpeas, tahini, oil, lemon juice, and garlic, used especially as a dip for pita. (

Spanish omelette - some dictionary definitions are a bit strange so check wikipedia:

banana loaf cake - here’s the recipe I use:


A margin of freedom or variation, as of activity, time, or expenditure; latitude. See Synonyms at room. (

Collocation: give someone leeway

[00:03:38] “I kind of give them quite a bit of leeway in terms of, you know, what they want to do in the lesson”

Features of Spoken English



Chunk 1: it might have been

Owain: [00:01:13] Yeah, I did it for my...Whose birthday was it? It was while we've been here. Whose b...whose birthday...? (It) might've been....I don't know. I did it for... 

[Mike's patience runs out]

Mike: [00:01:24] How was it?  

This sounds a bit like ‘my-uh bin’: the ‘it’ virtually disappears; there’s a glottal stop in the middle of ‘my-uh’; and the long ‘ee’ sound in ‘been’ is reduced to a short ‘i’ as in ‘in’. This is quite typical of frequently occurring groups of words which proficient speakers are used to delivering.

Chunk 2: sort of

Mike [00:04:50] Yeah, that's it. It's, it's...There's a lot of vocabulary around, sort of degrees of temperature and degrees of, you know, how much do you cook something, you simmer it, you sauté it, you let it boil for a certain...

This is the language of approximation, similar to ‘kind of’, which can be used to speak in vague terms, but is often used unintentionally as a ‘filler’, a word or phrase that allows the speaker more time and so makes it easier to deliver words and ideas when speaking at a naturally fast speed.

Spoken Grammar

Owain: [00:03:37] Mate but it's it's a good it's a good topic you've brought up because with a lot of my students, they...I kind of give them quite a bit of leeway in terms of, you know, what they want to do in the lesson

In written English 'my students, they...I kind of give them quite a bit of leeway...' would probably be more like: I give my students quite a bit of leeway. This seemingly chaotic way of presenting information - where a noun immediately precedes its corresponding pronoun separated by a comma - is perfectly acceptable word order in spoken English, but most of the time we don't notice it and your teaches may even correct you for doing it yourself

Mike [00:01:43] Erm, I found the whole process, from buying the ingredients to zesting the lemons and finding out what zesting meant. And then talking to my mum a little bit during get her advice and just and the whole process I found really enjoyable. 

External references

Salmonella Scandal (Controversy)

Desta's Language Through Music

Episode 27: Language Through Music

Listen on the English Waffle website:

Find help with Ep27 here: Language Analysis

Listen and download on Podbean:

transcript: Episode 31

Virtual Music


Intro [00:00:02] Hello and welcome to the English Waffle, a podcast aimed at advanced English language learners who want to improve their listening skills by listening to real conversations. My name's Owain and in each episode, Mike and I do a bit of waffling about a particular topic. This episode is an interview and is dedicated to the topic of music. I talk to my friend Mike MacDonald about his projects and how we can watch live music even while you're stuck at home. We talk about creating, playing and listening to music virtually, which has really taken off during lockdown. Make sure you listen right to the end for a music related surprise. I'll also make a comment or two about this particular episode and the series of episodes about how to use the English waffle. So without further ado, I hope you enjoy the conversation. And let's get waffling. 

Music [00:01:03] Welcome to The English waffle where we talk about random stuff. We'll take you on a journey where you'll find out soon enough. Why listening to the waffle is an entertaining way of sharing with you foreigners the things that British people say. So join us on the waffle and strap yourself in for ten whole earthly minutes of English listening. 

Owain [00:01:33] Welcome to The English Waffle. Today we have another guest. And I'll just say a couple of words about about Mike. Um, he's Scottish, long term resident of, er, Plaza Mayor in Madrid. Is right, Mike, yeah? 

Mike [00:01:49] Yeah, that's right, yeah. 

Owain [00:01:51] Dedicated teacher...

Mike [00:01:53] I am yes. 

Owain [00:01:54] ...of many things. 

Mike [00:01:55] Yes. 

Owain [00:01:55] Mesmerizing musical talent, um, um, prolific songwriter, mega party host, all around great guy, right. I mean, it's er... 

Mike [00:02:07] Thank you very much. 

Owain [00:02:09] It's a, it's a pleasure to have you on...on The English waffle and it's been a while since we spoke last. How are are things going there in madrid at the moment? 

Mike [00:02:17] Fantastic. We're just in the middle of the lockdown. So today we managed get out. So after seven weeks. So, yeah, it's been a very interesting time. Erm, but yeah great, we're very well. 

Owain [00:02:28] So that's the first time you ['ve] been out in seven weeks? 

Mike [00:02:31] Yeah, that's right. So I've been incarcerated with my my still relatively new wife and we haven't killed each other. That's that's...that's,er, good. 

Mike [00:02:44] And yes. So seven weeks teaching online and... 

Owain [00:02:49] Ok, yeah. 

Mike [00:02:49] Doing a lot of stuff catching up on all those books you haven't read and all those things you haven't filed so, yeah [it's been great]. 

Owain [00:02:55] Yeah. Okay. Yeah. And and you know, trying to stay sane more or less. Ha...any, any, have you got any particular tips, any new hobbies, you've started anything like that. 

Mike [00:03:07] Erm, it's it's funny, actually, I had to write an article recently. Erm, I some some blog writing for...for some companies and the last one I had to write was about routine and about having routines during [a] time like this. And er... 

Owain [00:03:19] Right. 

Mike [00:03:21] ...f...with a, with a view to kind of keeping you sane. And I...I recommended going to bed at the s...the same time every day, waking, you know...

Owain [00:03:28] Ah ok, ok. 

Mike [00:03:28] Waking you up at the same time, which is really useful. 

Owain [00:03:31] OK, yep. 

Mike [00:03:32] You know, doing about sports or practicing an instrument or something like that. 

Owain [00:03:35] Yeah. 

Mike [00:03:35] So, you know, I've been trying my best actually practise what I preach, but... 

Owain [00:03:39] To follow your own advice, yeah. 

Mike [00:03:41] Yeah, but it's hard after so long, you kind of find yourself putting five minutes on the alarm clock every morning and...and springing out of bed and doing your first classes in your pyjamas so. 

Owain [00:03:50] Yeah, and and do you kind of lose tra...lose track of the days, I mean, [do you...?] 

Mike [00:03:53] Yeah, well school helps a lot to... 

Owain [00:03:54] Yeah true. 

Mike [00:03:55] try and keep it. Keep it real, but...But we had the Easter holidays recently so, yeah, I really didn't know what day it was, to be honest, like. Whether it was Wednesday or Friday, and it comes to Friday and a part from a few things, kinda, that a few friends do on the Net every every week there's nothing to mark it buy, so. Yeah. Yeah. 

Owain [00:04:15] Yeah. 

Mike [00:04:15] All good, all good. 

Owain [00:04:16] Yeah. All right, well, an...and, um, one of the things I've noticed recently is that I...I've seen you doing are various things on Facebook, live feeds of concerts, right? Because you're're a musician. And so I wanted to ask you about a couple of things. So, basically, you're...what you're doing at the moment terms music,um...And actually, as I understand it, you your situation, you've got a band and -well a few bands nor...normally - but... 

Mike [00:04:45] I do, yeah. 

Owain [00:04:46] a particular band and you kind of kind of are already pretty well set up for for this situation. 

Mike [00:04:54] Yeah. Well well I play in a band called Dapper. My my main band. And erm, so I used to play with a guitarist about 20 odd years ago - I'm showing my age now - erm, a guitarist called Gary White, erm back in Glasgow where I'm from. And then I left and I went away to university and I went down to to England and stayed down there for about 10 years and was always promising to go back and and have a band with Gary who's a fantastic guitarist, became a fantastic singer and now a of a celebrity in the Glasgow music scene. Erm, really, I...a very, very, very good gigging musician, fantastic singer or frontman, electric guitarist. So then I moved to Spain, so became even less possible than it was previously. But we kind of got to a point where we said, if we don't do this band now, we're never going to do it. 

Owain [00:05:52] Yeah. 

Mike [00:05:52] So we decided to use technology and we we wrote and recorded our first album over the Internet or, you know, meeting online very similar to like a Zoom call type thing, but maybe Skype and... 

Owain [00:06:09] Yeah. 

Mike [00:06:09] Sending CDs to each other, erm, then technology kinda caught up and we recorded everything in our in our own houses, erm, even like, we we recruited some other members of the band that I would rehearse with in Madrid. 

Owain [00:06:23] Yeah, yeah. 

Mike [00:06:23] And then, erm, and then we'd, we'd go off and record our individual parts and then put them all together. I would mix them. We got them finished professionally. So basically we've had kind of a a band that meet online and have done all our work on land for about the last three years. 

Owain [00:06:42] Right. 

Mike [00:06:43] Erm, so when when the...when the kind of lockdown happened. 

Owain [00:06:47] Yeah. 

Mike [00:06:48] And really, I think it was Gary's idea to begin with. Gary started doing a concert once a week. 

Owain [00:06:53] Right. 

Mike [00:06:54] Erm, just him in his, in his his, er, in his studio. He's really playing for for friends and family. 

Owain [00:07:01] Yeah. 

Mike [00:07:01] To try and keep people's spirits up. 

Owain [00:07:01] Yeah. 

Mike [00:07:03] And it's developed into something quite, quite amazing. So if he does something called the Isolation...Isolation Sessions, erm, and he broadcasts it on Facebook and a couple of other websites,. 

Owain [00:07:15] Ok. 

Mike [00:07:15] And, er, yeah, it's incredible [and so...]. 

Owain [00:07:17] And it's just him him there him there at home playing his guitar... 

Mike [00:07:20] Yep, playing his guitar, singing along. Plays a bit of piano and things as well. Erm, and he kinda threw it out there and said, well, why don't you do one? And of course, then then the challenge was was laid down. So I had do it. So I...and I loved that as well. So. Yeah. So I['ve] been doing...I did my first one two weeks ago and got another one on the tenth of May. 

Owain [00:07:44] Ok. What...what kind of music are you playing? 

Mike [00:07:46] Well, I with Dapper are a kind of blues revival band erm...But I, erm, have always been a classical guitarist, so to play by myself, it's my best that I don't sing, you know. 

Owain [00:08:00] Right. Just just just in general, right? 

Mike [00:08:02] Just in general, yeah, yeah, [that's it] no one's going want to see that. So I write a lot of songs, but I'm not really a singer. So for me the way to perform by myself is on the classical guitar. And coming from, you know, it being beamed out from the centre of Spain is, you know, the reason I came here was because of music. So, it shows people what I've been doing and the type of music that I play. And yeah it' went down pretty well. People seem to enjoy it. So I [going to do it again]. 

Owain [00:08:30] It's it's a strange new situation where people are kind of sitting down on a...on a Friday evening to watch a concert online, erm...I mean, it's not the same, obviously. But do you think people get the same kind of enjoyment out of it as as actually going to a concert? 

Mike [00:08:46] I...I really, I'm surprised by how much I enjoy watching other people play online. 

Owain [00:08:51] Right. 

Mike [00:08:52] Because I always thought it was the best that I know. And you know what? You know, you're sitting there on your own couch. Nowadays, you can have a nice sound system. People have been telling me that they beam it to the TV and they're sitting with their with their carry out having a couple of beers and some food. 

Owain [00:09:09] Right. 

Mike [00:09:10] And they're watching know, it depends what you watch those those good streams and there's... 

Owain [00:09:15] Yeah. 

Mike [00:09:16] And there's one that is not so good as well. But I think especially at this time, it's more about the community spirit. 

Owain [00:09:21] Sure. 

Mike [00:09:21] And it's more about allowing people feel, you know, I'm sitting there watching Gary, for example, and down in the in the feed, I can see lots of friends and people that I haven't seen for years, and especially for me not living in Glasgow anymore. There's friends that, you know, I know from from from London or from Cambridge, who'll come on to see Gary... 

Owain [00:09:42] Right. 

Mike [00:09:43] ...who are kind of friends through me. And, you know, just send a little message to them. [inaudible] I haven't seen you for a long time. How are you doing? It's fantastic. And it really does make you feel that you've you've got together with a group of friends. 

Owain [00:09:56] Right. Right. I mean, Mike, I'm at some point in this conversation, I think we we discussed it would be nice to have a little bit of music on so people can kind of hear, on the one hand, what you do with the band. You know, the kind of music you do. 

Mike [00:10:09] Yeah. 

Owain [00:10:09] So I think maybe now and in the podcast, in this conversation that be a good time for a bit of music. And then when we come back, perhaps you could tell us a little bit about these these concerts you've got coming up, how it's going to work, what I need to do in order to to [to get on]. So, let's let's just have a break for a bit of music and then we'll come back. 

[Circumstance by Dapper]

Owain [00:14:50] Ok. That was brilliant, Mike, nice! Nice stuff! 

Mike [00:14:53] Ok, that...that song was called Circumstance. That's the first song... 

Owain [00:14:55] Right. 

Mike [00:14:57] ...on our first album. 

Owain [00:14:58] Nice. Nice. Yeah, yeah, love it. I remember I remember listening to that for the first time, probably in your flat. You always used to put all your new sounds and the recordings you'd done. 

Mike [00:15:06] And force you to listen to them. Look what I've done! 

Owain [00:15:10] Yeah, every time I walked in the door, it was like, oh come come and see this. Come and listen to this. Yeah, oh no, it's brilliant, brilliant. So that's that's the bands. So Mike, could you just just tell us when is this next concert and what do I need to do to be able to watch you? 

Mike [00:15:25] Right, well, as I said, the singer from Dapper that you just heared, Gary White, does a concert every, er, every Friday. And I'd recommend that anybody goes along and has a listen to that. So you'll find it on Gary White on Facebook, erm, or The Quadrophenia Project, as in Quadrophenia, the album from the Who, 'cause Gary also sings in a...a Quadrophenia... 

Owain [00:15:48] Yeah. 

Mike [00:15:49] Erm, a Who tribute band that [played the Quadrophenia album]. 

Owain [00:15:52] Yeah, I've seen that one. Yeah, yeah. 

Mike [00:15:54] Yeah, yeah. Erm, or you can also find it on Avra, erm, Productions. 

Owain [00:16:00] Okay. 

Mike [00:16:01] A-v-r-a...Productions, erm, and I'd checked out and on all those same sites plus my own Facebook site, which [you want / 'll be]: Michael John MacDonald, erm, on the Sunday. I'm gonna be doing another classical concert, but this time I'm gonna invite Gary to come and join me. And Gary's gonna do a couple of, er, songs with me. We're going to do a couple of Dapper songs. 

Owain [00:16:22] Right, right. 

Mike [00:16:22] We'll do a couple of requests for some covers. So we might do a couple of covers as well. So it's gonna be about the mix this as well as the normal classical stuff that I do. 

Owain [00:16:32] Ok, brilliant, well I'll...I'll be there, Mike. I'm gonna... 

Mike [00:16:35] Oh fantastic! I'll be looking out for you.

Owain [00:16:35] I'm gonna go and have a listen. Have...haven't attended one yet. But this this is this is this is the time. 

Mike [00:16:41] This is the one. Excellent. 

Owain [00:16:42] Yeah. And I suppose kind of just the last question. How how how do your neighbours feel about all all of this? You know, your... 

Mike [00:16:49] My neighbours, my neighbours love music. I'm confident that my neighbours love music.

Owain [00:16:56] Yeah. 'Cause, er, you live right in the centre of, er, Madrid, er, you're surrounded by people, um... 

Mike [00:17:02] Yeah. Well, to be honest, like we we live in these in these really, really old flats, like this flats kinf of three hundred and fifty years old. 

Owain [00:17:08] Wow! 

Mike [00:17:09] And the walls, the walls are so thick. There w..., you know, three or four foot thick. And I think most of the people that live here are kind of young people, to be honest. 

Owain [00:17:19] Ah ok, ok. 

Mike [00:17:20] I live in an apartment that doesn't have an elevator. So if you're going to living in the fourth floor, which is just below me, then you have to be young enough to walk up all the stairs. 

Owain [00:17:30] That's true. 

Mike [00:17:30] And they they they honestly don't seem to mind. So I...sometimes, er, after a late night recording session, I see...I get some strange looks as I walk past them. But, yeah, I think they love it. 

Owain [00:17:42] Well now maybe they'll be tuning in. 

Mike [00:17:44] That's it yeah. 

Owain [00:17:45] At the weekend yeah. 

Mike [00:17:46] And they can...they can hear the background noise. 

Owain [00:17:49] All right Mike, well, we we'd better wrap it up. We're coming towards the end of our 10 minutes. Um, great to speak to you. Thanks a lot [for coming on]. 

Mike [00:17:55] Thank you for inviting me on it's been a real pleasure. 

Owain [00:17:58] No, no worries. And everybody out there, thanks, thanks for listening. And, um, I'll see you at the concert. 

Mike [00:18:05] See you at the concert. 

[Waffle Variations by The English Waffle Virtual Orchestra]


language analysis: episode 31


 Here are some of the bits of Language that we at English Waffle think you may find interesting...  



transcript: Episode 32

Make A Difference


Episode 32 Make A Difference_transcript 

Mike [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to the English Waffle Podcast for advanced English learners looking to improve their listening skills by listening to real spontaneous and unscripted conversation. My name is Mike. And each week, Owain and I do a bit of waffling on a random topic and occasionally like this episode, we invite along an interviewee who we feel has something interesting to share. Before I talk about the guest for Episode 32 of the podcast, I want to begin with a few shout outs of THANK YOUS. A number of you have written in in the past few weeks to say how much they've been enjoying the English waffle during lockdown and the last few guests that we've had on the podcast and I want to say thank you so much to everyone who's taken the trouble to write in. Really, it really motivates us when whenever we receive a message from listeners and it gives us the lift that that that we need to keep going, really, on the podcast, as essentially this is for you that we do it for as we hope it will be useful for your English listening. We've had a number of really good suggestions for future topics, so thank you for that. Will definitely be acting on some of those. So some facts about the guest for this week. Tom Graham is a mutual friend of another Tom. Tom Jones, who appeared on the Waffle a few weeks ago to talk about pubs and English language learning, if you remember. Tom is a published author, Ted Talk speaker and founder of Sustainable Tourism organisation. Make a Difference, which is based in the Philippines. During our conversation, we talk about a range of things and in particular how Make a Difference has had to adapt due to COVID and the fact that nobody can travel at the moment. We talk about the opportunities to educate people online about some of the issues that they deal with around social entrepreneurship and global challenges that face all of us, remember climate change?That was a big conversation before COVID. We talk a little bit about that. Tom explains how he was inspired to set up a tourism company which benefited both the local community and in the Philippines and also tourists who were looking for something a little bit more meaningful than an average beach holiday. About 15 minutes into the interview, I play a clip of one of Tom's social entrepreneurship projects. And you can see more of this talk and Tom's TEDTalk in the links that accompany the show notes and on the website. Worth listening right to the end of this interview, which is about 25 minutes in length as Tom shares an idea of how the Philippines might escape being left behind in the global race towards progress with a very innovative idea. I begin by asking the question, Tom, just how big is Manila? Back at the end with a little wrap up, but for now, enjoy the conversation. 

[00:03:18]  English waffle where we talk about random stuff. We'll take you on a journey where you'll find out soon enough why listening to the waffle lays an entertaining way of sharing with you foreigners the things that British people say. So join us on the waffle and strap yourself in for ten whole earthly minutes of English listening. 

Tom [00:03:51] Good question. Well, Metro Manila is so it's not actually it's not actually just one city. It's, I even thought it was seven or eight cities, but I think I even got corrected on that. I think it's twelve something like that. Twelve cities. It's in double figures of cities all sort of grouped together, and of which the most famous one, but not the biggest is Manila. So I actually live in a city called Makati. So that's why a moment ago instead of I couldn't say I was from Manila, I'm not in Manila, but I am in the greater sort of urban area of Metro Manila. And in one of the cities. 

Mike [00:04:34] And how just to give it a handle on how big it is.. My knowledge is very ignorant, to be honest. How big is..are we talking?

Tom [00:04:44] Its huge. Because it's.. It's the most most densely populated city in the world, apparently. Again, I hear that. So it's er...its about twenty twenty or twenty five million, something like that. But it's a very densely sort of packed in. 

Mike [00:05:04] So is it some noticed day to day. Is it something that kind of walking down the pavements, is it .... is it a conscious thing? That you're sort of you're aware of? 

Tom [00:05:15] That's why it's so weird now. B'cos I look out of my... I mean, I look out of my window and, you know, I'm used to at this time, it's it's getting into rush hour traffic. And there's just no one on the streets. It's super weird. 

Mike [00:05:31] That was where I wanted to begin. This conversation really is just to address the elephant in the room, which is is Corona virus. And I kind of we haven't really been talking about it much on the podcast or even really, really with a lot of people. I think I think conversations have been steered towards other things, really. But it is very much an unprecedented time that we're going through it. I always feel tinged with guilt really when I think about my time, because it's it's been a brilliant time for me to just stop and pause, get off the gravy train that is London. Yeah. Yeah. But then I also feel..... that... I mean, that's my reality, right. And so...

Tom [00:06:29] I've experienced it in different kind of waves, so initially shock horror, because I had a travel business, right, which travel bans are not great for travel businesses. So we pretty much I mean, over.. almost overnight just lost a hundred percent of our business with virtually no hope of it coming back, right, in the next year. I mean, let's face it, who's going to book a holiday right now, especially all the way to the Philippines? So I went through that. And then I went through, erm.. but I guess I'm just naturally, quite.. know, for good or for bad. But I just I just tend to always want to see the good in the opportunities in bad situations and...

Mike [00:07:22] Glass half full, yeah,. 

Tom [00:07:23] Yeah, I'm a bit like that, I guess. Glass half full. And so we've seen opportunities through it. And you know, we've started a market, an online marketplace and we've started doing a lot of online education. So we already did educate. We were an educational company basically doing.. giving people a chance to learn about sustainable development goals and now through connecting communities and now we're still doing that, right, but doing it online and it's just interesting, you suddenly see there's so many opportunities that didn't exist before, which now do exist. So it's closed one massive door, but it's opened quite a few others. And so you know that's cool. 

Mike [00:08:11] That's a really, really positive to hear that. Maybe just by way of introduction, we could go for the.. sort of listeners.. I'm recording now. So we'll just erm, you know.. 

Tom [00:08:24] Can I very quickly just get a glass of water? 

Mike [00:08:27] Yes. Yes. Of course. 

Mike [00:08:30] Yeah. Just by by way of introduction, I've watched your TED talk and on Thom's recommendations, so Thom's a mutual friend of us. How did you get to know Thom? 

Tom [00:08:44] He used to be my boss. I was teaching at a school in.. where was I ? Cambridge about, well, four years ago. Something like that. Yeah. 

Mike [00:08:55] So this is Thom Jones who who was on the podcast a couple of episodes ago I think. And and we both we both know know Thom, who's a very much larger than life character. . But I was I really, really enjoyed watching your very eloquent and humorous account of the foreigner trying to navigate his way through an alien transport system... It brought back memories for me of living in Mozambique, where my brother lives in Mozambique, but to go visit him. And there they take around these little what they call chapas, which are a small mini buses to get from A to B. And it's kind of what you're saying about this idea of how to get how to.. how to pay, how to, you know, how to... just be a human being on these on these things with a completely different culture set. Fascinating. 

Tom [00:09:59] Yeah. Yeah. It's.. It's. The thing about the Philippines is that because they speak English and they have a Catholic culture and they're quite Americanized on the surface, sometimes you think you understand more than you actually do. Once you go beneath the surface, you realise that they are actually you know.., it's the other side of the world, it's a complete different climate, completely different you know, history.. and temperaments. And so, yeah, there's so many opportunities when you're abroad to sort of be exposed to that. And sometimes you do end up looking like the proverbial idiot abroad. 

Mike [00:10:41] Absolutely. And that's no bad thing. What took you to the Philippines in the first place? 

Tom [00:10:48] Journalism. So I was writing reports on different emerging economies around the world. And so I spent some time in South Africa and in Botswana before that. And then I was sent to the Philippines. Yeah, 8 years ago now. Yeah. And I expected just to stay a very short time. Yeah. Eight years ago. 

Mike [00:11:10] And you're now, you know, you're co-founder, you're founder originally, right, you are, it's your.. It's your brainchild. 

Tom [00:11:17] Sure im the Co-.. myself and a Filipino guy. We we started the social enterprise. Yeah. 

[00:11:25] And how did that come to be? 

[00:11:28] Well, so I. So the talk that you watched was connect....was basically a talk centred around my experiences living in the communities of one of the biggest NGOs or charities in the Philippines. And so I wrote a book on my experiences living in these communities, which were basically built for a region for the poorest Filipinos. And they were built in a spirit of solidarity and real sort of connectedness. And it was really, really inspiring to be there. So I wrote about these communities. And then I spoke about them in that, you know, in talks like the one you watched. But then from there, one thing I noticed in these communities was the one thing that which seemed to have... the one most important thing which was.. had enabled these communities to transform and to live, you know, to both physically build these communities, these houses, but also to live life with more hope for the future was this sense that they were no longer left behind. ... And we then saw this opportunity through social enterprise or through tourism to build sustainable travel experiences which connect people from around the world that want to have a more authentic experience when they travel with communities which are perhaps in really beautiful parts of the country but they're sort of left off the, you know, the typical tourist route. Everybody goes to the same resorts and the same beaches. And yet the most beautiful parts of the country are often those that are most deserted. So that's why we saw this opportunity to actually work with some of these communities to develop tourist experiences from home stays and cooking classes and some some kinds of eco tourism kind of activities such as reforestation and stuff. So, yeah, we got the idea and then we set up we set up the company about about five years ago. 

Mike [00:13:48] What I.. What I really liked about visiting your Web site and getting a feel for what you guys do was this idea that this is not something you're going to parachute in, you're going to be there for a couple of years and then go away somewhere else and save inverted commas somewhere else. Because I think there's this danger of sort of fetishization is that a word? Fetishize it is now! Sort of, you know, white middle class people predominantly travelling and kind of coming in and being the saviour. For me, what I think others will see on your Web site is this idea that you work very closely with the local community and they're part of, they're embedded in the DNA, of your... Is that right? Thats kind of your?. 

Tom [00:14:42] Yeah, it's very different to.. so If you develop a normal tourist experience, right, like, let's imagine you're going to send people to a popular island in the Philippines or you're gonna send them to the Costa del Sol or wherever it might be right. All you need to do is basically identify a nice hotel, do a deal with a hotel and say, OK, we're going to send you X number of guests every month right. And that's quite simple. Now with what we're doing, of course, the communities themselves are not in any way when we began, we're not in any way prepared for receiving guests, right. Or for... So. So there was so much relationship building that went into it at the beginning and really convincing the communities that we weren't just there to show up at Christmas time and hand over some like, you know, some some kind of second... (Mike) "Happy Christmas!"

Tom [00:15:41] Yeah. To like to say no, that tourism can, if done in the right way, can become a real opportunity for you to not be left behind anymore, right. And and we had to convince them that this was not just going to be a once-off thing. 

Tom [00:15:59] Coming back to tourism, it created this positive loop because we'd run an experience. with the community, the community, of course, earnt money from it. But they also gained a lot of confidence in their own culture and social skills and so much else that came as a result. The guests loved it because Filipinos are just naturally warm and friendly and you always leave a community just you know, so many times you need thinking, wow, and you know, you just got that sort of warm feeling. And it's not from.. you dont pity people.. They actually have.. a lot of these communities they have a lot that... they lack a lot which are things they should have. But at the same time, they have something that you don't have, right, as as a visitor. And that's really challenging. And it's so inspiring. So it created this positive loop where, you know, we'd have a good experience, guests would leave and they'd recommend that someone else or someone else would come in. So we were constantly coming back, building that relationship. And, you know, some of our communities now, they really are extensions of, you know, our kind of (I'm talking for our team as a whole), almost an extension of our family. And so, of course, that also now with Corona virus means that we have added responsibility, right to sort of help them a bit..

Mike [00:17:27] Let's talk about that a little bit. How has that shifted from from your travel.. people coming to experience sustainable travel and some sort of program in place...How has that shifted onto an online platform or an educational arm? 

Tom [00:17:44] Well, we've got two things. So one thing we're doing is vegetable.. So three things, actually. We've got a crowdfunding campaign where we are basically giving people a chance to buy trees and buy all the goods which are made by one of our partner communities. So they make a lot of stuff out of bamboo. So a lot of sort of zero waste kind of, you know, items. So you've got a fundraising or a crowdfunding campaign. That's one thing we're doing to support them. The second thing we're doing, we've got something called.. so the company I set up is called Mad Travel or Make a Difference, M.A.D. Travel. And now we have mad markets where we're supplying families in Metro Manila with fruits and vegetables. So we're getting, sourcing them directly from the farmers and then bringing them to families in Metro Manila. And then the final thing that we're doing is online education. So we've always worked a lot with schools and universities to say, you know, come and experience the communities yourself and meet the entrepreneurs and meet meet these really wonderful people. And now we're saying, look, as long as these communities have Internet connections and as long as the social entrepreneurs we partner with have Internet connections. 

Tom [00:19:12] That's a huge amount you can do. Yeah. And it's quite exciting. So we're now connecting different international schools, universities to our communities and getting them to work on social enterprise projects or simply get inspired by by seeing global challenges, but through a local perspective. So a local lens ... and so we all know what, I don't know, in the U.K. we all know that plastic pollution is an issue. And yet, of course, plastic pollution looks very different in the UK compared to the Philippines. And yet the Philippines is one of the biggest plastic polluters in the world. So through online, you can actually get to connect to somebody who and now show you through a vlog or through video content, through interactions "hey, this is the problem I'm dealing with in my country and this is what I'm doing about it. And it's quite inspiring. 

Mike [00:20:07] So positive. So positive. And, you know, particularly through this idea of experiential learning, you know, and getting away from being very text, very heady, very, very in your own head and kind of books. And more into just people because people work with people and learn from people. And so I really like that idea. 

Tom [00:20:30] Yeah, I'm a I'm a massive believer in experiential learning. I think that we don't lack in the world theoretical knowledge. Right. We lack empathy. Right. And we lack a sense of really, really caring that I kind of say we can. But then how much do we really care? Push. Yeah.. And I I've I've been in that, I've been in that boat and I still am sometimes! I forget to care when I'm when I when I become disconnected again, I also kind of get into my own head in my own world. And I. I forget to really prioritise what, you know, caring and being there, you just can't avoid it. And you're like, wow, I really do care. Like these people are amazing or this person has such potential and he's being held back by, you know, so many factors. And I want to help him. I want to be part of this. So, yeah..

Rafa - MAD travel [00:21:26] I'm going to take you on a journey to discover my life as a social entrepreneur. You're ready for a hike? Let's go this way. Hi. Hello. So this valley wasn't always the way it looks today when the volcano erupted, it burned everything here which basically hit the reset button in society. And that really resulted in the community here being left behind technologically, food security wise, and even forgetting parts of their culture. All right! And so after seeing the poverty of the environment here and seeing how poor some of the people work, no jobs in the area and ability to farm, really challenged us like what could we do? How do we give something to the community while giving something to the environment and help them realise that it's also in their best interest to invest with us for their future? 

Mike [00:22:37] What's the outlook look for rural Philippines, what do people, how do people earn a living and how do people, how do people get by? This is pre Corona. B'cos one thing I do know is that you're at the centre of like.. the Philippines is kind of a nexus for typhoons and hurricanes and climate change. And that adds to the whole mix, right? 

Tom [00:23:05] Yeah. So. Hmmm. Something that's happened... the Philippines over the last few years has become the call centre capital of the world. I think it's overtaken India. They have softer accents. And so a lot of people that can are getting jobs in.. it's Called the BPO industry, Business Process Outsourcing, but it's basically call centres. Right. So that's a massive industry. So a lot of people are looking to escape the countryside because they see it as, you know, just poverty, basically. And apparently the average age of a Filipino farmer is fifty seven years old. And if you think that life expectancy is not that old here right, that means that they're really very old and there's no one young doing farming. So if you're young, you want to get out of the countryside and you want to head to the city, you want to get a job in a call centre or even failing that as a taxi driver or a tricycle driver. And yeah, this is your aspiration now, of course. The reality is that there aren't enough jobs to go around, right and that leads to like an incredibly congested city that I live in, Metro Manila. And, you know, it doesn't work out for everyone. And of course, also working in a call centre means that you need to speak pretty good English. It's actually a job for graduates really. So a lot of people are excluded from the good quality jobs in the city, but it doesn't stop them coming here and, you know, living in in squalor. And, doing their best to survive basically... 

Mike [00:25:00] Trying their luck, yeah. So where do you go from there? Where do you what's the sort of outlook for city dwellers 

Tom [00:25:11] I mean. OK, so here's his picture. 

Mike [00:25:16] Give us the positive Tom! 

Tom [00:25:17] I've got it guys, don't worry! 

Tom [00:25:19] Then so let's take an example, right? Something like chocolate, right. So Europeans love chocolate. Everyone loves chocolate. Yes. Now we have in the U.K., a very famous world, you know brand. I can go downstairs from where my apartment is now and I can buy myself a bar of Cadbury's chocolate, right. Or any other kind of international brand now. So we love our chocolate. And yet in the U.K., the last time I checked, we don't produce any Cacao, right. So we have to import that as a raw material from from a country like the Philippines. I'm not saying I don't know where Cadburys get their Cacao from.. but they could potentially get it from the Philippines, right. Philippines can produce it its a tropical country. And anything you plant in the Philippines will grow, right. It's a really rich. It has sun. It has rain. And it has a lot of land like like millions of hectares of land, which is not being used. But even if we could grow Cacao in the UK, I think the average person would be like, well, where am I going to grow Cacao, right?. Where do I? I don't have any.. you know, where's my farm, right? Only a few people have farms. We have limited space. Yeah. So the Philippines has a lot of land that's that's basically not productive at the moment because everybody associates it with poverty. And the Philippines has got used to importing chocolate bars to give just one example, righjt. So I can't get a Filipino chocolate bar, I'll get a European chocolate bar when I'm here in Manila. this is the problem, right? Is that there's a reliance on international brands. There's a lack of kind of real pride in local brands. It's considered cheap, considered poor quality all of these things. But this is where the opportunity lies because that is changing. And in the future right, the.. you know, there's going to be a Cacao shortage, apparently. 

Mike [00:27:28] I did hear about that. Yeah. 

Tom [00:27:30] Yeah. So the Philippines has millions of hectares of land. Why not use that not only to plant Cacao, but why not to create finished products in the Philippines, right? Which are high quality. I mean, why can't it be done? It's just a case of perception, right? 

Mike [00:27:49] Totally perception, right? It's this perception of, you know we don't know how to do it. And, you know, the Developed world does. 

Tom [00:27:58] Yeah. And I think the interesting thing, again, I was reading on the impacts of Corona virus moving forward is how it's going to affect supply chains as well. So, you know, we don't want is this concept called just in time, right? Where we get stuff, we source stuff from all around the world. And because it's slightly cheaper, even though it is a massive carbon footprint and we're not creating jobs locally, we're creating jobs somewhere else. All of those things, right. So maybe there's an opportunity here if people are losing faith in just-in-time because they realise how Coronavirus showed how fragile that is. Then you say, OK, why not produce more locally, but don't just produce it and then sell it on as a raw material. Create the goods locally. Then you can cut down on all of the carbon footprint. You can create jobs. You can create wealth in the Philippines. The Philippines can, can make high quality chocolate bars. And you never know why not.. maybe the U.K. will import Filipino chocolate bars in the future, right? It's not impossible. I mean ... (Mike - absolutely!) 

Tom [00:29:05] Like 20 years ago, we probably weren't buying, you know, Korean smartphones or whatever, right so, times change and in the sense of countries and brands can change. So there they go.. that's it.

Mike [00:29:17] You've totally redeemed yourself!... from being like... yeah. I don't know what you've redeemed yourself from, but there was there was a point at which I was like it's all helpless, its all hopeless..

Tom [00:29:26] No, no ,no, it's not hopeless, i'm always optimistic. But you've got to be. Well, at least I benefit from being you know, you've got to start from a position of.. you know reality, right? And an understanding like it is a massive challenge, but, you know, that's how the world changes and it hopefully it changes for the better. And I think it will for sure.. certainly in some ways. 

Mike [00:29:56] I'm going to include links of in the notes to this to your Web site and to your TED talk as well, because I thought I really enjoyed that and I think other people will as well. Is there anything else? I don't have anything else my side that i wanted to

Tom [00:30:17] No, but. yeah. Come and well.. Come and visit the Philippines one day, I guess. It's an amazing country. It's English speaking. It's actually a great place to even learn English, right? Because there's a lot of very, you know, very educated, very, very, very pleasant, very smart Filipinos who are in this great place to come to practise your English. And also if you want a practise partner or whatever. It's a great place to connect to people and to say don't just hear it from me as a Brit living in the Philippines, but yeah. connect, reach out to Filipinos in this country. 

Mike [00:31:06] And I mean, we get in Britain, there's a lot of Filipinos living in London. There'a a lot of Filipinos working in the NHS, actually. 

Tom [00:31:15] Yeah there are huge amounts. Yeah. Yeah, it is. 

Mike [00:31:21] It's a tough time. Tough time for them, yeah. 

Tom [00:31:25] Yeah. I think a lot of them have been.. I've read reports that quite a lot of them got sick on the frontline. 

Mike [00:31:36] Well we wish them. We wish them well. Tom, it's been a pleasure to connect! And I wish you all the best with your.. I mean, we'll keep in touch. I hope to keep in touch. 

Tom [00:31:51] Thank you. It's been a pleasure to talk to you and having me on. 

Mike [00:31:57] And stay safe. Stay well. 


language analysis: episode 32


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transcript: Episode 33

Life Under Lockdown 2 - Mike & Owain


Intro [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to The English Waffle, a podcast aimed at advance English language learners who want to improve their listening skills by listening to real conversations. My name's Owain and in each episode, Mike and I do a bit of waffling about a particular topic. We talk, in this episode, about being under lockdown. Mike and I share our experiences during this strange situation. Listeners find out what we've been doing and what Mike's going to do when lockdown is lifted. The conversation was actually recorded a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully, things have changed a bit in different countries around the world since then, although here in the UK we're just taking our first tentative steps to...towards getting back to normal. Towards the end, Mike does some shout-outs to some English Waffle listeners, he's been speaking to, and I'm going to say thanks to one or two of you after the conversation. So I hope you enjoy it. Let's get waffling. 

[00:00:56] Waffle Theme Tune

Owain [00:01:24] Hi Mike. How you doing? 

Mike [00:01:26] Good. Thanks. Yeah, good. 

Owain [00:01:28] How''s life on the lockdown treating you? 

Mike [00:01:34] Not bad. Not bad. That's...That's like the weirdest answer ever. [It's just...] It makes it sound like it's like a normal, like, every day, hehehe, every day of the week, this is what happens. Not bad. Yeah, how's your week been. Not bad. Erm, but I've I've been reflecting on that day, actually, and I've been thinking how, erm, in so many ways, this has been a really, like, good time for me because I've had to...I've sort of been made to slow down a lot, and that's been really good. And I think that....Yeah it's difficult because it's you know, it's obviously really sort of really hard for a lot of people. 

Owain [00:02:17] Yeah. 

Mike [00:02:17] But it's, erm, it's, you know, you can't you can't deny your own reality. And I think this is just where it's being honest with yourself and, for me, it's being a very valuable time to connect with friends and family on a sort of deeper level. 

Owain [00:02:33] Right. Um, what's what's a typical day un...under lockdown for you? 

Mike [00:02:38] For me, work has been largely unaffected. It's it's still, erm, I I'm a teacher, so I teach English and French and Spanish. And it's all moved online. So I have group classes and individual classes that I do through Skype and Zoom. And that's kind of been pretty much the same as, er, as it was before. It's just moved online. 

Owain [00:03:07] Yeah. Yeah. So [it's been a] smooth transition for you. You're not, I mean, how how much of your time did you spend travelling around London then? 

Mike [00:03:16] Yeah, quite a bit. It actually made me realise that I saw, saw quite a...quite a few trains every day. I don't miss that. I don't miss travelling in. No, for sure, erm, just being able take an hour for lunch. So go round the park and have a good lunch break. That's been that's been an added bonus, I'd say. And just in keeping with the whole thing of just slowing down and not rushing around from, er, from activity to activity, which is what we tend to do in London. 

Owain [00:03:49] Sure and's quite funny you say that about, um, having your lunch break outside and stuff. And, um, the first thing I was thinking: I hope you didn't sit down anywhere to relax. I hope you kept moving the whole time because of course, for people who don't know, here in the UK we are allowed to go out of the flat for a few different reasons. One of them is to get a bit of exercise, but you can't go sit in the park and have a sandwich. 

Mike [00:04:15] That's right. 

Owain [00:04:16] Certainly not in London. 

Mike [00:04:17] No, that's right. 

Owain [00:04:18] You haven't been doing that, have you Mike? 

Mike [00:04:19] I haven't been doing that. No, no, no... 

Owain [00:04:23] [You don't have a] confession to make here on on... 

Mike [00:04:26] On the English waffle. No, I am...I am resp...I'm totally in this together with everybody else and, er, I respect the...the guidelines that are given to us by the government. And I think the government's doing a pretty good thing, to be honest. 

Owain [00:04:43] Yeah. Yeah, 'cause, 'cause it is true that I mean, we we...I w...we talked about Spain before. And, you know, I've got some good friends in Spain, and, um, it's just mind boggling the fact that their children have been, um, in some cases in a in a in a flat of 40 square meters for about six weeks without going outside, haven't had any daylight, they have been able to run more than the length of their...the longest corridor in their flat. Uh, and you just think to yourself my goodness me. It just must be the...It's qu...It's quite funny because we've got some friends [...] apparently the lock...that was that was changed today. So now children are allowed to leave their flat, as of today, to get a bit of exercise. Um... 

Mike [00:05:28] Yep. 

Owain [00:05:28] We...we called some of our friends today, um, actually, Lorenzo, who's been on the podcast. And we said, so how how how was going out of the flat? Were the, were the kids really exciting? And they said: oh no, we haven't been out today. 

Mike [00:05:43] How come? They just, no, gonna wait for another day. 

Owain [00:05:48] Yeah, we'll just see happens. 

Mike [00:05:48] What's one more day? 

Owain [00:05:49] Well, exactly. Yeah, I mean, it's been six weeks. So doesn't make that much difference, does it? But it is quite tricky for me because I have to be quite careful with my friends and also with some of my students who are in Spain an...and not talk too much about my my experience here where I'm living because it's actually completely different I think. 

Mike [00:06:10] Yes. 

Owain [00:06:11] And, you know, I have...I have the luxury of having a really nice garden I can go and sit out in in the sun. 

Mike [00:06:18] Yeah. 

Owain [00:06:20] And uh... 

Mike [00:06:20] Yeah. 

Owain [00:06:20] You know, we had lunch out there today. And, um, you just think...I mean, you w...because actually for you, it's not so easy either 'cause you're in you're in a flat in the middle of the city. You don't really, you don't have an outdoor space, do you?

Mike [00:06:31] It's not, but...but I think, as you touched upon then, we are, er, the way that England is dealing with it as a whole is vastly different from some of the countries where we...where we'll have listeners. So I I know that we are in very different positions a lot of people. But that said, I'm sure loads of...People I've talked to on the language app Tandem and, erm - a shout out to to specifically to Olivia, if she's listening, Olivia and Jaoquin and, er, a couple of others who've who've been really supportive of of the podcasts so far. Erm, you know, they've all said that their lives have been changed in, er, some ways for the better because they've been able to get on with projects and, you know, devote more time to English studying... 

Owain [00:07:25] Yeah. 

Mike [00:07:25] ...learning English and to, you know, let's...basically doing things inside, but creative things and positive things, which which is great. Owain, what what about you? What have you been, er, doing that's been sort of different from your normal, everyday existence? 

Owain [00:07:46] I haven't had as much time as I thought I would do to do other stuff. I s..sort of at the beginning of this whole thing, I envisag...envisaged [sitting down every day]... 

Mike [00:07:55] That novel...that novel was going to come out. 

Owain [00:07:57] [that novel], you know, a blog post a day, you know, practising my scales on on on my instruments, and... 

Mike [00:08:03] Yeah. 

Owain [00:08:04] I've hardl...I've hardly done any of that. And you know... 

Mike [00:08:06] Yeah. 

Owain [00:08:07] ...just between working....'cause I'm still working quite a lot. I've still got quite a few classes and, you know, um, trying to develop my own online business at the same time, er, which's quite a time for actually, um, also getting to grips with working with my college students, 'cause I'm still...I'm, I don...I don't actually have any live classes at the moment, but I'm working on trying to set up kind of tutorial sessions where I can get a group of students 

Mike [00:08:31] Okay. 

Owain [00:08:33] But because of the age of my students, there're kind of safeguarding issues that that I have to be careful about but, um, yeah, no, it's it's it's it's great, and and, I mean, a lot of people are talking about how, oh, this is going to change the way we work forever. I don't know about you, but I kind of feel that that they're over exaggerating a little bit, but, you know, a lot of people're just gonna survive this time, do whatever they have to do and then get back to normal and nothing much is going to change. I mean, what about [indistinct], is this going to change your mindset forever, Mike? 

Mike [00:09:06] Lot of unknowns, aren't there. I mean, it's it's, it's'll change the way that I approach a day, I think, and try to kind of take take into my life the lessons I've learned about myself in the lockdown, which've really just been doing less, but better...but but more. Do you know what I mean? So, I'm definitely guilty of charging around and filling my day and weeks up, as a Londoner. And now that this con..confinement has come along, you you start to revalue what what you want to do. And, you know... 

Owain [00:09:48] Yeah. Well, this is goo...This is a good way to kind of bring it to an end. So, obviously, one of the big questions - there are lots of things we can't do right now - and one of the big questions that's going around is what is the first thing you're going to do as soon as this whole thing comes to an end? 

Mike [00:10:03] Get a haircut, probably. 

Owain [00:10:06] Yeah, you need, actually, yeah, it's a bit of a mess. 

Mike [00:10:08] Yeah, I'm getting quite a lot of, yeah, I would call it abuse, but that that's too strong. I'm getting a lot of, er, a lot of, er, teasing from my friends, er, about the state of my hair. So I think probably probably a visit to the barber's, visit to the hairdresser's, yeah. 

Owain [00:10:24] Just for benefit of the list...any listeners out there who are trying to imagine what Mike looks like right now. He just looks like a hedgehog or something. Not really sure if that's the...[does it justice]. 

Mike [00:10:32] Thanks mate. I can always count on you for...for compliments, from from my mate. 

Owain [00:10:38] A very nice looking hedgehog. 

Mike [00:10:40] Oh, thanks. Yeah. I mean, that's a good point to end on it it it... Also, something we are thinking about, though, is putting this...maybe putting it on YouTube. Owain, maybe you don't know this, but I've I've been thinking about it. 

Owain [00:10:55] What?! Well, I'm a little shy Mike, so, you know, I'm not... 

Mike [00:11:00] Well, this is it. It's the best way to combat shyness: get yourself on the Internet. 

Owain [00:11:05] Yeah. 

Mike [00:11:06] But, you know, clearly we'd we'd like to, erm, to spread the word and get some more visibility for...for The Waffle. And we've had some really lovely feedback from listeners. So that's just something that we're thinking about doing. But please subscribe, if you like listening to the Waffle and tell your mates. Tell your friends. It really helps us. And the more listeners we get. Quite simply, the more motivation it gives us to do it, so.

Owain [00:11:35] Abso...absolutely! Okay, Mike, well, I think that's all we've got time for today. So, um, see you next time. 

Mike [00:11:41] See you next time, Oast. Cheers! See you later. 

Owain [00:11:44] Cheers. Bye. 


language analysis: episode 33


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