English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #12, One Year Anniversary of the COVID-19 Pandemic Pt. 1

Study this episode and any others from the LingQ English Podcast on LingQ! Check it out.

One year into the COVID-19 pandemic and Mark and Elle chat about how life has changed, what they miss and how the world may look when it’s over.

This podcast is sponsored by LingQ.

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Elle: Hello everyone.

I am here with Mark Kaufmann for today’s episode.


How are you doing on?

Mark: Great. Thanks.

Can’t complain.

Sun’s shining.

Elle: Yeah.

For once.

Here in Vancouver, for those of you who don’t know, that’s where we’re based.

It’s uh, It’s a rainforest we live in, so it’s pretty wet all the time, but, so, yeah, it’s nice to see the sun for sure.

Uh, I thought it might be interesting to talk about the pandemic.

Different angle though, because it’s been a year now since we’ve been in this situation.

So I thought it would be interesting to catch up, uh, and see first off how you’re doing, what’s changed in your life.

Um, So, yeah.

How are you doing?

Mark: I’m doing well.

I think as I look at myself in the video here, I realize that I probably don’t get my hair cut quite as much, or as often as I should, should be doing.

But, uh, yeah, it’s amazing that it’s, it’s been a year.

I don’t know why I didn’t, I, that surprises me in a way.

It doesn’t really feel like it’s been a year, but I guess it really, it has, cause it was I guess over a year ago that we stopped going into the office.

And, um, yeah.

Uh, yeah, I mean, I guess now we kind of hope that the end is in sight.

There’s some light at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully the vaccines arrived before too long for us.

I think, um, elsewhere in the world, obviously they seem to be having a significant impact.

Elle: Yep. Yep.

Has Steve been vaccinated yet?

Actually, I haven’t asked Steve.

Mark: No, I think it’s pretty slow going here.

And, uh, they basically, um, I think 85 plus maybe are allowed to make appointments now for sort of vaccination maybe a week from now.

I think that’s the sort of where they are.

Uh, so realistically, Steve, uh, I think it’s, I think he’s hoping some mid-April ish.

Elle: Okay. Okay.

So next month, hopefully.

And then for people like us, who knows, I guess.

Younger, not immuno-compromised, hopefully… soon.

Mark: Well, they’re saying because here, because they’re saying they’re um going to split the doses.

Like not require two doses or at least allow four months time between doses that, uh, I think June or July by the end of July, everybody should have one dose, I think is what they’re saying.

We’ll see.

Elle: Okay. Okay.

And so you’re going into the office sometimes.

Mark: Every once in a while, but really very infrequently, you know, once every couple of weeks for a few hours.

Elle: I miss it.

Mark: Yeah.

Elle: Yeah.


Yeah, I do miss it.

I mean, for us, a lot of our team are, um, remote anyway.

So for a lot of them, this is how they interact anyway, just through Zoom calls, Skype calls.

But for those of us who are based in the office, yeah, I know everyone’s missing, you know, the impromptu chats and meetings and just having someone to talk to in the workday, you know.

Mark: And, and, and somewhere to go, someone to go, like, if you ask me the biggest difference… like the actual work we do, I think because we always had so many remote people and obviously we’re all remote now, uh, we have systems and means of communication that we use.

And, um, most of our time is spent on those using those, uh, systems.

And it’s not that different, the actual work, but obviously in the office, we, we see each other, we interact socialy,

we have somewhere to go.

You know right now, um, you kinda wake up, you start working and before you know it it’s three in the afternoon and you haven’t left the house.

You haven’t been outside.

You haven’t… uh, at which point you’re like, I got to get outside, I gotta find something to do.

Elle: I find that too.

I haven’t seen the sun, especially because here we often just don’t see the sun anyway

even if you’re outside for weeks on end, I need some vitamin D sorry, looking very pasty, but spring is coming at least.

So that’s good.

Mark: Yeah.

That’s the biggest thing.

I think it’s, it’s probably learning that you have to figure out a different way of, of, uh, planning your day.

Like yeah, go out.

First of all, when it gets dark at four, you don’t want to wait until, you know, four or five if we’re going to do something go earlier when it’s daylight.

Um, otherwise, yeah.

Kind of miss it.

Now it’s… it’s between well today we changed our clocks backward or forward or whatever, whichever way it is so that, uh, it’s…

Elle: Spring forward.

Mark: Spring forward. Okay.

Um, so now it’s, it’s obviously lighter later.

Uh that’s nice, but I guess those are, that’s the biggest thing.

I think obviously we’ll see.

Well, how, what happens with the office?

I think they’re, they’re predicting a lot of people will either not go back or we’ll go back on a more, uh, eratic or not eratic, but a less like, um, consistent basis, maybe part-time or they’re thinking you know, half the people would come one day, half the people another, those companies that have large space requirements, I think.

And therefore they can reduce their requirement if people aren’t in full time all the time.

So it will be interesting to see what, how much of this… I was looking at our article today talking about how education, this has really spurred education to, to go more online and, and, uh, um, you know, advance a bit with the times because I think education has very much been a laggard in terms of, uh, adapting to technology, at least formalized education and, and suggesting then you know that some of these things will,

will now become more available.

Like, uh, ability to learn online.

And, um, you know, some, some, even some classes online, they talked about how potential to, if, you know, if some students are interested in learning, their example was Portuguese, they could have one Portuguese teacher for the district and therefore they can offer it.

Maybe just that online versus, you know, previously were the only classes they offered were those within their, their building.

So anyway, it’s, it’s interesting.

It will be interesting to see in all areas, how much, how much, I guess, change there, there ends up being and how much sort of people will just go back to the way it was before.

Elle: I wonder.

I feel like in a lot of cases, it’s just going to be, there’ll be a time where things are a little different and then we’ll just kind of drift into the way things were.

I don’t know.

We’ll see.

But some things have, have to stay different, I think.

Um, but yeah.


I kind of feel like a lot of stuff will go back to the way it was before.

Like it just isn’t long enough for, to significantly change those patterns.

But there, there, there will be some change.

There’s no question like um, you know, some of the things I think in health, like the tele, tele-health like, why was that not available before?

Mark: Yeah, for sure.

That’s been great.


A lot of, a lot of appointments can just be over the phone.

There’s no way to go anywhere.


So it just, yeah.

It makes everything a lot easier.


I feel like socially, we will stay different, uh, in terms of, you know, there’s like a shared anxiety that we have now about touching anything, touching each other, touching our faces, you know?

Um, so I, I think that’s a positive.

I think maybe people will just be less gross, wash their hands more and if they’re sick, stay home because no one else, you know, everyone else wants to stay healthy.

English LingQ 2.0 Podcast #11: Learning Languages with @Matt vs. Japan

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

In today’s episode Elle chats with Matt of the YouTube channel Matt Vs Japan about his journey to Japanese fluency, how he dealt with setbacks and his exciting new project for 2021.

Elle: This podcast is sponsored by LingQ.

If you’re learning English and want to study the transcript of this episode or any other episode, there’s a link to the lesson on LingQ, l I N G Q in the description.

LingQ is a language learning tool that allows you to turn anything in your target language, into a lesson.

Podcasts like this one, YouTube videos, Netflix shows, news articles, blog, posts, whatever it is you’re into.

One click on the link browser extension, and you have a language lesson to work through translating words and phrases you don’t know.

Hi everyone.

And welcome to the English LingQ podcast.

Today I am joined by a special guest, Matt Vs Japan.

How are you, Matt?

Matt: I am doing pretty great.

How about yourself?

Elle: I’m doing good.

I’m doing good.

Thank you.

And thank you for joining us.

So for those listeners, viewers who don’t know who you are, Matt versus Japan, tell us a little bit about your YouTube channel.

Matt: Yeah, well, so I guess the very short version of my origin story is when I was in high school, I decided that I wanted to learn Japanese and I wanted to get really, really good at it.

So I found a website called All Japanese All the Time.

That inspired me to really dedicate my whole life to learning Japanese.

Uh, so I did that for about five years, reached a pretty good level.

Six months of those five years was spent in Japan, but all the rest was spent, uh, here in Portland, Oregon, where I am right now.

And after getting pretty good at Japanese in five years, I started a YouTube channel to kind of help other people who wanted to use the type of, kind of unorthodox methods that I used to get good at Japanese without being inside of Japan.

Elle: Hmm.


I have to say I, I used to live in Japan.

I know a little, but not like you speak Japanese!

I have to say I’m so impressed.

You sound Japanese to me when I listened.

It’s it’s crazy.

And you seem to speak with such ease too.

It’s clear that you’ve put in many, many hours.

Um, I wonder, so was it always Japanese for you?

Like did you grow up interested in languages in general.

Was it always a fascination with Japan and the Japanese language?

Matt: Actually for most of my life up until I got interested in Japanese languages were pretty much not on my radar at all.

In fact, starting in middle school, I was forced to take Spanish classes.

Well, actually I was forced to take a language class.

I took Spanish by default because it was the easiest one and I was probably the worst kid in the class.

I’m pretty sure the teacher hated me because I was always goofing around and never paying attention.

And I used to have this weird perverse pride, uh, where I would brag about how little I had learned, like, hey, I managed to get through this whole year and I don’t even know what, you know, tango means or whatever.

So, uh, yeah, I was the opposite type of person.

And in fact, there were some kids in, in my middle school and my high school who were really into anime, but I kind of viewed them as the uncool kids and I wanted to be a cool, popular kid.

So I was like, oh no, I can’t go anywhere near that.

But, yeah.

So then when I was in high school, actually it was freshman year of high school, ninth grade for people who don’t live in America, uh, that I became interested in Japanese.

And for the first portion of that year of school, I was taking Spanish again, because you had to take a language in school and I was doing really awfully.

And so then when I just had this epiphany that I’m really interested in Japanese, and I want, I want to do whatever I can to learn more about the language and culture.

I went to my Spanish teacher to ask her, to let me transfer to Japanese.

And she was like, well, you can’t even do Spanish.

There’s no way you’re going to be able to do Japanese, it’s way harder.

But, uh, I convinced them to let me switch and yeah, that was it.

Elle: That’s great that you had the opportunity. So there was Spanish, sorry. There was Japanese also in your high school. That’s great.

Matt: Yeah, lucky in that regard.

Elle: Yeah, for sure.

So you totally fell in love with the, I guess the culture of the language, decided to go full on.

And then, so you said you were in Japan for six months at some point, was that after high school?

Matt: That was during high school.

So about a year after I first became interested in Japanese, I took a three week trip to Japan with other people from my school.

It was kind of a program through my school.

And that was really fun, really excited and made me even more convinced that I wanted to pursue Japanese.

And then the next year after that, I applied for a study abroad program that I just found online and went to Japan during my junior year of high.

Elle: And whereabouts were you in Japan?

Matt: I was in Gunma prefecture, which is only an hour or two away from Tokyo, but it also doesn’t really have anything interesting happening.

So Japanese people, when they hear that I went to Gunam, they’ll be like, why why’d you go to Gunma?

But, uh, I had no say in the matter, that was just where the program sent me.

Elle: Right. And you just had a fantastic time, any stand out kind of memories or experiences for you?

Matt: Actually, I didn’t have such a good time during my second trip to Japan.

And it really, what happened was, well, a few things, first of all, the program that I went on was I, it was basically, or let me put it this way.

So when I went to Japan, I was going to a Japanese high school.

And from the Japanese high school’s, point of view, the purpose of having an American come and stay at their school was that it was going to aid the English studies of all the Japanese students there.

So the school that I was sent to was very focused on having their students learn English.

So it wasn’t really structured from, from the perspective of making the American have a good experience, because, you know, When I arrived in Japan, I didn’t speak Japanese very well yet.

So, uh, I couldn’t understand any of the classes.

Like they just threw me into the same classes that the Japanese people were taking.

So I was taking, you know, biology, physics, uh, math, all in Japanese.

So it was complete jibberish and because the high school, uh, was a very, uh, it was a very serious school that was meant for students who wanted to go to a prestigious college.

Most of the students were very serious about studying and, you know, weren’t the most kind of like laid back type of people.

So they were kind of busy with their studies.

Like my host brother would always come home from school and just study for multiple hours.

And so, uh, and also they didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Japanese.

So we couldn’t really communicate.

So all of this kind of led to me having a pretty isolated experience.

And so that, half of it, I would say was not really my fault.

But there are another component was that I was very focused on studying Japanese and I had a very kind of a limited view of what studying Japanese meant because I had been following the advice on this website that I mentioned before, alljapaneseallthetime.com, which talked about doing things like, uh, watching a lot of anime and reading a lot of books and creating a lot of flashcards.

And I just kind of felt like it was actually more efficient for me to learn from that type of media than from real life people.

Because on media, you can pause, you can rewind, you can look things up more easily, whereas you can’t do that with a real life person.

So I kind of felt, yeah, that I’m better off just going to the library and reading books than trying to, you know, join a club and like play soccer with Japanese people.

And I think there was some truth to that from a pure language learning efficiency perspective, but also from another more obvious perspective.

I probably would’ve, it would’ve been more of a, a net positive influence on my life if I just didn’t focus so much on lung Japanese during the short period of time I had in Japan and instead focused on just experiencing the culture, connecting with people and broadening my worldview.

So if I could go back, I would’ve done it differently, but, um, Okay.

That’s uh, that’s how things turned out.

So yeah, I actually ended up coming, coming back to America earlier than originally planned.

The program was supposed to be a 10 month program, but eventually just got so isolated and depressed that I decided I want to go home and be with my family.

So, yeah, that was an interesting turn of events in my personal little story, but I eventually just decided that I still felt some sort of deep connection to the Japanese culture and language.

And I’ve come so far that I just want to keep on going with it, even though I had that kind of a nasty experience.

Elle: Yeah. Good for you. It just goes to show how powerful that connection was after having such a negative experience that you, you kept on and, are where you are today. So that’s great.

So you talk about, um, you previously you talked about having an unorthodox approach to learning Japanese and I, I guess you just spoke briefly on it just then, do you mean like using anime, which I guess is kind of not frowned upon, but it’s a non traditional way.

People might say, it’s not the best way to learn Japanese because you know, you’ll learn the wrong kind of Japanese, more colloquial kind of language.

Um, so that was your main focus then when you started to study Japanese seriously?

Matt: Yeah, anime was definitely the main focus of what I was studying from, but in terms of what made my method unorthodox, I would say that it was really these two components of first of all, having very little formal structure.

So I basically learned the most common words and studied some basic grammar.

But after that, I just dove into authentic content and I was learning things as they came up in the content without using something like a textbook or a teacher or something like that.

So I was really learning in this kind of organic, chaotic way of taking things as, as they came up.

So that’s one aspect to it.

The other aspect of it, of the way I learned was that the emphasis is very strongly on input and comprehension in the beginning and not so much on speaking.

So I was really just trying to get to the point where I could understand Japanese well before I was really concerned with trying to produce Japanese myself.

Elle: How long did you study before you started to speak? Do you remember?

Matt: It was around three years before I started speaking regularly.

And a lot of that was just how the circumstances kind of played out because, well, I will say so early on when I had that six month period in Japan, obviously I was speaking a lot.

I was in Japan, but after I came back, Uh, I didn’t speak for probably a year or two after that.

And that was partially just because I was in America.

I didn’t have any Japanese friends, so there weren’t really any opportunities to speak.

And then around the three year mark, I, and by the way, the way that I’m counting my time, might be a little weird.

Cause the first two years I was just taking classes and not starting very seriously.

And then two years then I started the all Japanese all the time period.

So when I was three years into the all Japanese, all the time period, I transferred into a four year university where there was a lot of Japanese foreign exchange students.

And so that naturally gave me the opportunity to use my Japanese because suddenly I could kind of join this community of Japanese speakers.

So I started speaking really regularly after that.

And I found that at that time I could speak really naturally without a lot of effort, even though I hadn’t really spoken since I was in Japan multiple years back and back then I could hardly speak at all. So. Kind of was like, uh, all the input naturally led to that result of being able to use it myself.

Elle: Hmm. So what advice then if you had to boil it down.

I know that’s tough to do, what advice do you have for anyone who is because Japanese is known to be a really difficult language to learn.

What advice do you have for anyone thinking about dabbling or starting to study Japanese?

Matt: I mean, it kind of depends on what the person’s goals are because, you know, getting, if you want to get really good at Japanese, like to the point where you can just comfortably watch your favorite anime with no subtitles and it’s not any extra work or you can go and have a meaningful conversation with a Japanese person about, uh, you know, any, any topic spontaneously, that is going to take multiple years of really committing yourself and dedicating yourself to study.

So for, for those people, I would say if your final goal is to get really good, then I think taking an approach of focusing on comprehension and getting really good at understanding the language before worrying about speaking is going to serve you really well.

But if you’re kind of, coming at it, as you know, it’s kind of a hobby, something you do on the side.

It’d be cool if you could, you know, speak a few words here or there, when you take a vacation to Japan.

You know, maybe you learn a couple of phrases that enrich your experience of anime, although you still have to use the subtitles, uh, in that case then, you know, taking a more maybe traditional approach where, you know, you, you learn something and then you try to practice using it or, you know, using an app or something or a normal textbook.

Will probably serve you well, because the thing about my approach is that the, the gains that you get are very delayed.

You know, like I said, it took me three years before I could speak really well.

When the, when that three-year point arrived, I could speak really well, much better than people who generally take a traditional approach.

Uh, but three years is a really long time to be waiting and fully dedicating yourself to this thing.

So I’d say it’s probably going to be helpful for people to think about what they’re goals are starting off, because I think a lot of people don’t really think about that.

Elle: Hmm, I agree with that for sure.

Um, do you speak any other languages, or are you all about the Japanese?

Do you remeber any Spanish from high school?

Matt: I don’t remember any Spanish from high school, but I have been working on Mandarin, uh, on and off for a couple of years.

But for the last couple of months, I’ve been more consistent with it.

So that’s, that’s been pretty.

Elle: And how’s that going? I guess you have the Kanji from Japanese to help you.

Matt: That definitely helps a lot.

And, uh, overall, uh, it was, yeah, like I said, I was on and off for a couple of years because, you know, I’m very interested in Mandarin and I want to learn the language, but I don’t necessarily want to dedicate my whole life to it like I did with Japanese.

And because have always been a kind of all or nothing personality type, it’s taken me a while to learn how to still do Chinese, without trying to do it all the time.

And it feels like just in the past year, I finally figured out how to do that.

And so now things are going pretty smoothly.

And it’s, it’s been a lot of fun.

I still base my approach off the, the approach that I took for Japanese.

So I’m not really worried about speaking.

I’m mostly watching Chinese dramas with Chinese subtitles and as I go, I’ll look words up and then I’ll make flashcards juror to remember words.

And yeah, I’m kind of at the point now where I can watch a drama and follow the plot if there’s Chinese subtitles, because you know, they, for a lot of people, the characters are probably one of the most difficult aspects of the language, but for me it makes it way easier cause I know them from Japanese.

So with subtitles, I can understand pretty, pretty good amount, much less when it’s, it’s just listening, but…

but yeah, it’s been a lot of fun.

Elle: Excellent. And so what is, uh, what’s in the works for Matt Vs Japan in 2021?

Anything interesting happening?

Matt: Yeah.

Well, so right now I’m working on this project called Refold.

We kind of launched a couple of months ago.

So it’s kind of just taking the method that I used to learn Japanese and kind of adding a more formal structure to it so that there is some structure within the chaos.

Cause like I said, my personal, uh, method of learning Japanese was very chaotic and organic.

It was just consuming, whatever, whatever Japanese content I felt like consuming, learning, whatever came up.

And it worked but I think for a lot of people, they feel, they feel very overwhelmed by just the.

You know, Nebula nebulosity of this approach.

So we’re creating a more structured kind of outline for how to learn organically through native content.

And so we, when I say we it’s, I’m doing this with my friend, Ethan, so it’s the two of us mainly right now.

And so we have a website up refold.la that has, um, uh, what we call a roadmap for taking this immersion style of, of learning and it breaks the language learning process down into four stages.

And the guide right now is what we call language agnostic.

Meaning it’s not for any specific language, it’s just how to learn any language.

And so we want to start partnering with people who have gotten to a really high level in various languages and creating kind of language specific guides for the same underlying

methodology that has specific resources and, and has a, you know, methodology for tackling challenges, unique to various languages.

So hopefully, yeah, we’ll, we’ll have some of these language specific guides coming out, uh, later down this year.

Elle: Excellent. That sounds great.

I think that’s great because like you say it is… a lot of people I think could benefit from that, this kind of language learning, just cherry picking, but you know what you enjoy, but it is chaotic, like you say, and it takes a special, I think, kind of person maybe to stick with it.

And so a lot of people would benefit from having structure to it. So…

Matt: yeah, like I think it’s, it’s definitely never going to be for everybody, but I think, yeah, we can broaden out the scope of what type of person it’s going to work for by creating a more,

a structured approach to it and better instruction.

Elle: Excellent. Well, I look forward to checking it out.

Um, thank you so much, Matt, for joining us today.

It’s been a pleasure.

Matt: Thanks so much for having me. It was fun.

Elle: Cheers And, uh, maybe we’ll chat again soon.

Matt: Yeah. Anytime.

Elle: Bye. Cheers. Bye bye.

English LingQ Podcast #10: Cancel Culture with Steve Kaufmann

Want to study this episode as a lesson on LingQ? Give it a try!

Steve Kaufmann had his own run in with cancel culture on Twitter recently. Check out the latest episode of the English LingQ Podcast to find out what happened and what Steve thinks of cancel culture.

Elle: Hi everyone.

And welcome to the English LingQ podcast with me, Elle.

Remember you can, if you’re studying English, you can study the transcript of this episode or any episode.

I will add the link to the lesson on LingQ, L I N G Q in the description every time.

LingQ is a language learning tool that allows you to learn from any content you’re interested in.

So podcasts like this one, YouTube videos, Netflix shows movies, uh, blog posts, whatever you’re into.

Just download the browser extension and you were one click away from making a language lesson out of any content that you’re interested in.

So today I am joined again, but Steve Kaufmann, Steve, how are you?

Steve: I’m fine, Elle.

How are you?

Elle: I’m good.

Thank you.

I’m good.

I thought a really kind of controversial topic and relevant one that we could chat about today is this whole idea of cancel culture.

Steve: Right, well I think it’s a good, sorry.

It’s a good topic because I think it’s… some people like to shy away from controversial subjects, but I think a lot of people have different opinions on it.

So to that extent, maybe a lot of people will find this conversation.


And if something is interesting, then, uh, a, you’re more likely to listen, b, it’s good for your language learning because you’re engaged, you know?

Elle: Yeah, yeah.

For sure.

It’s a, I guess a relatively new term cancel culture.

Um, I’ll just define it.

Um, I mean, it’s pretty self-explanatory I suppose, but so cancel culture is this idea that any person in the public sphere makes a mistake, present or past, it seems a lot of, a lot of times something that a person has done in… way in the past is, is, uh, scrutinized.

And that person is canceled.

So they are no longer, um, popular, people don’t want to associate with them.

They may get dropped from labels or deals, all kinds of things.

So, um, you’ve had some maybe experienced lately with cancel culture on Twitter.

Tell us about that.

Steve: Well, I mean, I think, uh, well, in, in my case, uh, I said something which a lot of people didn’t agree with.

And then there was this great flurry of activity and they sort of egg their friends and everyone else to come on my Twitter feed and, and attack me.

Uh, which is fine.

I, I think fundamentally the, I think the biggest problem sort of that underlines or underlies.

In other words, that the core problem is this idea that we can’t disagree with each other.

So, I mean, obviously if in your past behavior you did something very bad.

Uh, you robbed a bank or whatever, uh, then, uh, you know, and that’s normally not the case.

It normally has to do with, uh, you know, sexual harassment or something like that.

And, uh, so people may not want to associate with you because they consider you a person of, you know, questionable morals or something.

Which is fine, which is fine.

If, if I, uh, if I know of someone who behaved in a way that I consider to be immoral, even in the past, and I may not want to associate with them.

So that doesn’t bother me.

What bothers me is when canceled culture is used to say, this person says something that I don’t agree with.

And because they have a position that I don’t agree with, therefore we should all gang up on him or her, or flood their Twitter feed with all kinds of attacks.

Uh, or we won’t let that person, say that person is a professor at a university,

uh, that person therefore should be fired.

Uh, or someone is coming to give a talk and we don’t agree with our position, therefore we should all boycot and demonstrate.

In other words, shouting people down, basically.

And, and I think this is a fundamental problem in our society.

Is this basic intolerance for disagreement.

Why can’t you just disagree and explain why you think you’re right and the other person can explain why they think they’re right.

Like we needn’t cancel each other out.

Let’s listen to each other instead.

Elle: Hmm.

I agree for sure.

Uh, out of interest, what was the article?

That it was a news article that you’d commented on that some people didn’t


Steve: Well yeah, there was, there was a news article that said that university students in Saskatchewan, which is a province in Canada for those who are not from Canada, uh, that they were, uh, eating more unhealthy food and drinking more alcohol because of the, uh, restrictions the, uh, as a result of COVID.

And, uh, I just expressed, I felt that this, you know, I didn’t have tremendous sympathy for them and maybe I was wrong, but I just felt that in our society, when we consider all the people who are suffering from COVID: older people in long-term care homes, their family, that can’t see them.

A lot of these people are dying without seeing their families.

You’ve got people who have lost their jobs and in some cases it could be a single mum, the sole supporter of the family, whatever, compared to all of these people, uh, a student at university, uh, is, is not someone who, you know, it attracts a lot of sympathy from me.

They should, in my view, uh, they’re at university, most of which is paid for by the government.

Uh, they’re presumably they’re surrounded by books.

They can get online, they can communicate with their friends online.

In fact, if you’re living in Saskatchewan, you can get out.

There’s lots… i, in fact, Googled on the internet, there’s lots of cross country ski trails in both Regina and Saskatoon, which are the major cities where the universities are.

Get out, get fit, get, uh, like I have this, um, uh, high intensity interval training app.

Every morning, seven minutes puts me through my paces.

Like, you’re young, you have your whole life ahead of you.

Uh, older people may not have that many years ahead of them and they’re facing a far worse situation.

So I didn’t express much sympathy for these students.

Well, bunch of students came at me.

I was at home and stuff like that.

Elle: Right then it turns into, you know, I read of course, I”m part of the LingQ team, part of the marketing team,

so I read some of the Tweets and a lot of it, then you find turns into an us versus them.

So in your case, it was, you know, you’re a boomer.

You don’t understand the…

Steve: yeah, well, that’s, that’s the other thing is, is that the part of the… cancel culture began with the people who feel they are quote “progressive”.


So if I have a position that’s quote “progressive”, you’re not allowed to disagree with it, and it’s very progressive to be gay, black, you know, anything that’s considered historically sort of victims.

And of course they were, and perhaps still are victims of discrimination and, uh, fewer opportunities and all of this is true, but that doesn’t mean that someone who like me I’m like I had it on a number of occasions.

If I get into a little disagreement, then I’m just an old white, you know, and I won’t use the term.

So like, what’s wrong with being old, old, white male that’s bad, like right away.

If you’re old white male, then that means that you’re basically not to be listened to.

Well, um, I don’t know nothing wrong with being old.

Uh, you’ve certainly experienced a lot more of the world than a younger person has.

Um, I think there’s an excessive obsession with race in everything.

Uh, I don’t think whites are better or worse than any other group of people.

And so I think the, the biggest part of this cancel culture has come from the universities where certain quote, “progressive” views are the only ones that are considered acceptable.

And anyone who challenges these views is bad.

So yeah, I’m not in favor of that.

Elle: Hmm.

That makes me think of a controversial Canadian that, um, I would love to hear her opinion on actually.

Um, so Jordan Peterson, I’m sure you’re aware of Jordan Peterson.

Um, so yeah, he’s a. Go ahead.

No, go ahead.

What do you think of him?

Steve: Well, when he first appeared on the scene, I saw him in an interview with this woman on the BBC, I think, and he was very good.

Like he’s a good debater and, uh, whatever she seemed to say, he was able to answer.

And, um, you know, he, he, I guess he first got some notoriety when he refused to use these new pronouns that some university, you know, officials at the university of Toronto decided you can’t go, he or she, you have to use some of these artificially invented pronouns.

And he was opposed to that.

And I agreed with him, uh, you know, we have our language.

I mean, where are you going to stop?

You know, uh, in French they have gender for, you know, la table or whatever.

Like, so now we can’t have that.

We can’t have a female table.

It’s gotta be, you know, neuter table or something.

It’s just silly.

It affects so few people, so we’re going to force everybody.

And I must say I’m very allergic when I see, anywhere, you know, somebody gives their name.

I’m Steve and my pronouns are he and him.

That’s just ridiculous.

In my opinion, it’s ridiculous.

It may come to be that that becomes accepted and the norm, whatever, but people are quite entitled to push back against this.

Uh, I don’t agree.

I don’t want to use, I will not use those pronouns.


Uh, however, the more exposure Peterson got, the more, it became evident that he was a bit of a kook.

Uh, and, uh, I’m not sure he’s totally psychologically balanced.

Elle: He’s had some issues lately, I’ve read.

Steve: Some issues.

And he also was, you know, there is this, you know, within say Western society, because,

because of sort of old white male is being challenged.

So then there’s this pushback, which is to suggest that everything good in the world came from old white males.

Like the European Christian, all this stuff is good.

We have, you know, provided these wonderful values and Western sort of civilization and stuff like that, which is actually very myopic, because everything that we have in the world,

or which is part of Western civilization is sort of an accumulation of influences.

You know, technological influences from China, influences through the middle East.

I’m, now I’m learning Persian, Arabic.

And you read about how developed even central Asia, which we not consider a bit of a backwater economically,,

at least they were far more advanced.

Uh, because they were sitting there sort of on the crossroads of, you know, China influences from China and India.

You know, our mathematics, our science, our are so-called, you know, they, they love to talk about Judeo Christian values because, you know, whereas the values that underpin our society in the West are not Judaeo-Christian they’re in fact pagan, because it was the Greeks and the Romans that gave us our laws gave us, you know, the first

efforts at democracy, which didn’t include everyone in society, but there was this idea that you can have, uh, you know, uh, democratic, although limited suffrage, uh, system.

And so much of everything that we have is that it’s an amalgamation of influences from all over the world.

And this process is continuing.

So Jordan Peterson, he got up on his high horse about how wonderful, you know, the sort of, uh, you know, the white man’s burden kind of thing.

So there was more, the more I heard him speak the less I was impressed, but the first time I heard him speak challenging, sort of these, um, you know, conventional sort of attack it’s about, uh, uh, you know, protecting, you know, women are being unfairly…

he was making the point that in many professions where you have fewer women than men it’s because women are less interested in those professions.

I can’t remember all the arguments, but there were a lot of arguments like that.

And, and undoubtedly, historically, women have been disadvantaged.

So it’s, it’s a good thing that, uh, women are, I was saying, no, me too,

I want to, you know, learn mathematics or whatever.

And I certainly agree that, uh, women prime ministers, presidents can be as good, but they’re not necessarily better either.

They’re just made, should be there and have their equal opportunity and, and people should be open-minded to, to choosing, you know, either one or the other more based… and this gets back to this whole idea of even race.

You shouldn’t vote for someone like, and we have this in Canada that Chinese member of parliament says vote for me because I’m Chinese, uh, or you know, diversity.

So we must have X number of, uh, people of all different origins in the cabinet to reflect, uh, you know, the racial makeup of our society.

And I don’t agree with that at all.

I think you should just choose… but even in saying that there are people who would want to cancel me right away for saying.

Elle: Hm.


Oh for sure.

Steve: Yeah.

And in my companies, but in selling lumber, we have always had employees who were gay, uh quote “of color”, whatever that means.

I’m not sure what that means because the variations of color within every group can vary.

But people who are, could be identified as racial minorities, we’ve always had immigrants.

We’ve had everything.

And never did I hire someone because I wanted to have a diverse workforce.

That was never a consideration.

And we’ve had Sikhs.

We’ve had you name it.

I, we, and anyone working in our organization and I think most employers hire based on, can this person do the job?

Be they male, female, gay, Sikh, Chinese, African.

We just hired a programmer in Ghana.

Uh, to work, you know, uh, remotely, but on our project at LingQ.

We’re looking for the best people.

I think most people are.

So I think, uh, the, the, the sort of push for diversity and, and people of color, and we must do this and must do that.

That’s fine.

Have that position, but then don’t cancel out someone who pushes back and says, well, actually I don’t believe in hiring based on diversity.

I believe in hiring based on competence.

That’s something that’s a legitimate position.

Your position is you should hire based on diversity.

That’s fine.

You can, I’m not going to cancel you out because that’s what you think, but you shouldn’t cancel me out because I have a different perspective.

Elle: Fair enough.

That’s a very good point, actually.

Well, thank you, Steve.

I think we’re just about at time here.

This is, that was pretty interesting.

I hope that you don’t get cancelled for this.

Steve: Well, I hope we stir up some controversy.

Controversy is good.

Disagreement is good.

Elle: It is.

Steve: Rarely do you persuade the other person of your point of view.

However, you’re forced to think about why you think what you think, you have to listen to, what the other person has to say.

That person has to listen to you.

You may not move them.

They’re forced to justify their position.

So discussion, debate is good.

Elle: Yeah, exactly.



Well, thank you so much, Steve.

Um, I’m sure we’ll chat again.

Thank you for joining me and bye.

Steve: Bye-bye.

English LingQ Podcast #9: Wellness, Self Care and Going Sober in 2021 II

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In part two of their chat about wellness in 2021 Shelby and Elle talk more about how they’re staying off the booze and making time (or trying) to exercise.

Shelby: Yeah, we, um, my, we had some friends staying with us here and they were drinking like a nice bottle of red wine and talking about how good it was.

And I’m like hanging out, like I’m not gonna be able to taste it. And then.

I asked if I could take a sip and spit it out and… cause I just wanted to taste it.

Uh, at first my roommate said, no, cause it’s too expensive, but you know, that’s how you really taste wine, right?

Like if you were actually going to a wine tasting.

Elle: Yeah. True.

They didn’t let you?

So you didn’t do it?

Shelby: Um, this also reminds me that something that, um, can help, like has helped me.

And I don’t know, it sounds like you’re maybe kind of doing something like this is to have like another drink that you can have in place of the um, alcoholic beverage, like some, I really like sparkling wines, like Prosecco and stuff.

So, um, I’m really into like sparkling water that I can, and I can add fun stuff into it, like squeeze an orange into it or add some mint to it.

Or I made this, um, this like lavender extract last year, um, which is really nice, like put in some sparkling water too.

So something fun like that, that you can like actively enjoy while other people are drinking and I have found to be helpful.

Elle: And put it in a wine glass, just a fancy, fancy glass always helps I find that as well.

Shelby: Totally.

What is the, what’s the fake beer you’re drinking?

Elle: It’s just, um, a Canadian supermarket brand, um, blonde beer.

I I’ve tried a bunch of different ones.

Like Budweiser has one.

Um, I can’t remember the popular beer brands that have, Oh, Heineken has a fake, not a fake beer.

I guess it’s dealcoholized beer.

It Is beer, but just no alcohol in it.

Taken out afterwards?

I don’t know how it works.

Shelby: Right.

Elle: But yeah, this is just a, um, Canadian like supermarket brand and it is good.

I think it tastes great.


Shelby: Good.

Elle: I drank that.

And some, I also drink kombucha, which I’ve always loved and used to make until it exploded in my kitchen.

And I, I don’t make it anymore.

Shelby: No!

Elle: It’s dangerous making kombucha.

Shelby: Did it really explode?

Elle: Yeah, it’s um, It ferments in a bottle and you need to put a lid on the bottle.

So the tea, I don’t know how, um, if you know much about it, there’s like a SCOBY, which is like a bacteria, yeast, bacteria chunk.

It’s kind of gross looking and you put a sugary tea in to a glass bottle with the SCOBY and the SCOBY eats the sugar and, um, ferments.

Um, the drink is quite vinegary and, um, yeah, it’s effervescent.

So yeah.

It’s if you leave it in too long, it can explode and yeah, that happened to me.

And there was, I put blueberries in it so that it looked like I’d murdered someone in my kitchen.

It was just red splatters all over the ceiling.

Shelby: Were you, were you in there when that happened?

Elle: Yes. Yeah, because I actually, it didn’t just explode out of nowhere.

I was in the process of opening it to, to try it and see if it was done.

And it, I I’d left it in a bit long.

So it was, it’s one of those like Ikea glass bottles with the, like a champagne bottle, you know, with the pop, the little plastic pop off.

And it just, yeah, I gave it a little touch and it just exploded everywhere.

Shelby: Oh my gosh.

Elle: It was kind of fun.

I screamed and the neighbors must have thought.

Someone had been shot.

Shelby: So not just another day at Elle’s house?

Elle: No.

No, but, uh, it was delicious.

What was left was delicious.


Shelby: Great. That’s a silver lining.

Elle: Yeah, right?.

Um, how were you finding exercise?

Like how are you finding the motivation to exercise?

Because that’s something I’m finding really difficult right now?

And I don’t know if it’s just generally or COVID/work from home/world is crazy.

I don’t know.

Shelby: Well, and let’s not forget that, that you’re a mom.

You’ve got a little kid that you’re also taking care of while working from home.

And, um, I I’m sure you get a lot of exercise just like chasing him around.

Elle: Yes, that is true. That’s very true.

Shelby: I have the luxury of not having any dependents right now.

So, um, there’s also just that.

Um, but it’s, it’s also like incremental.

Um, so I started, um, getting back into exercising from home at some point last year.

Um, and I’ve been aiming to do three times a week for like a year and a half, but I was barely even doing twice a week at the beginning of last year.

Um, so I started with one, like at the beginning of last year.

And I said, I just need to like, stick to that since like going from zero to three is hard, you know?

And if you try to do that and you fail, then every week you’re just failing.

So I said, let me go from zero to one and like, get that down.

And so that’s what I would do.

And then I finally felt pretty comfortable with that.

So I said, okay, like, I kinda know how long this takes.

I’m going to add in another one.

And I did that for several months, um, from around the halfway point of last year until, um, the beginning of this year.

And then I said, okay, like, I need to just add one more day in.

And that’s all you’re doing every time.

It’s just adding one more day in.

Um, I like working out from home.

I’ve always liked working out from home and I know a lot of people prefer the gym.

So that’s a, I guess, an advantage I have that I just prefer to do it at home.

Um, but it’s also fast.

Like I don’t spend an hour and a half working out.

I… if I’m like really focused, I can get through it all in probably about 35 minutes.

Um, so it’s not a huge time commitment either.

And I find, um, now that I’m becoming aware of how I connect, like my feelings to,

uh, I like, I, I guess I’ve just become more aware of the fact that, um, I’m a really anxious person and the anxiety lives a lot, like in my head.

And so I’ve just started to correlate a remedy, um, of, of anxiety with doing something physical.

So maybe it’s not going to be working out every time.

Maybe it is going on a walk or doing yoga.

So like lower intensity stuff.

Um, But sometimes I’m like, so, I’m like feeling so like hyperactive about my anxiety that, um, I’m like, well, let me just like channel this energy into something good.

And I start like doing some squats and some curls.

And you find that like, you’re kind of getting that energy out, you know?

Elle: Yeah. Hundred percent. Yeah.

I agree with that.



Working like, like you said, like out the head working out of the head, through the body.

I definitely, when I’m anxious, um, find that, yeah, I’ll go… I even say to my husband, like had a lot of anxious energy, so I did X, um, it’s usually like something around the house, um, because yeah, w why not instead of, um, and nothing wrong with, you know, sometimes I will just lay down and just kind of try and figure things out, but I find the most helpful thing is actually to get up and do something to

move move through it instead of letting it sit in you and just.Make you annoyed and upset.

Shelby: Right.

Elle: So, yeah.


Shelby: And we’re so…

Elle: Especially now there’s lots to be anxious.

Shelby: Yeah.

And we’ve become so sedentary.

I mean, like we used to just like walk more in our regular lives because like you walk from your front door to the car and into the office, et cetera.

So like you, I found, I really have to kind of manufacturer those experiences.

Whereas before I was just moving more and as you said, like you move into it and the movement and activity, um, helps you just get out of your own head.

Elle: Yeah.

So you, um, so your plan then is to, because I saw that you have like a spreadsheet you’re super organized.

I love that.

Your plan is to hit, like not break the chain, hit your weekly goal throughout 2021 and then maybe beyond, is that, is that the, the idea?

Shelby: Yeah, I think we’ll see how, um, how it goes this year.

And, um, when it comes to, like, most of the habits are just related to like daily, um, health and nutrition stuff, and like the no… not drinking piece, I decided to just like be sober for a year, but who knows?

Like maybe after this year, I’m going to say, I like how I feel and I don’t want to reintegrate that into my life.

More, more than likely.

I’m probably going to, like, significantly cut back on my drinking and, you know, um, yeah, cause again, like I’m going to be a lot healthier if I only drink once a month, you know, than like every week or every day.

And that doesn’t mean that I failed myself necessarily.

Um, like if there’s an opportunity to drink and I want to, then I will.

But yeah, the goal with all of them is to not break the chain, but I already like missed two days of yoga this year.

I entered that in my sheet, but I just keep moving and like I’m fully prepared to miss some days on some of these things.

And, you know, I, I’m just trying to like store that information now and not judge it, like just say, okay, like that happened.

How did I feel as a result?

Not like, did I get down on myself?

But more so just how did I feel physically in my mood and spirit.

Um, since I really just like data collection at this point, you could say.

Elle: Yeah, but that’s useful though.

Shelby: Yeah.

And what about you?

You’re just trying to, um, not drink forever, right?

Elle: Maybe. I had a… yeah, I, I was drinking way too much and it wasn’t serving me anymore for sure.

So I think, uh, I wasn’t, um, I wasn’t, uh, you know a degenerate, alcoholic, you know, out like sleeping on the streets or whatever, but I definitely got to a point where, um, I wasn’t, I would say, you know, Oh, tonight I’m just going to have one drink and then I would have more, you know, tonight, Oh, maybe I shouldn’t drink three out of seven nights a week, but then I would drink every night anyway.

So it got to the point where I wasn’t able to keep promises to myself, which is always a red flag.

Um, and so I don’t know how I will know if I’m ready to drink what I would call responsibly again.

Um, I don’t know if, uh, you know, after a year or two years, I’ll I’ll think, okay, well I can start enjoying a glass of wine every now and then again, and I won’t fall back into that pattern that I really didn’t like.

So the goal I think, is to just maybe be sober for the rest of my life.

We’ll see.

Yeah, we’ll see.

I mean, as well, I’m not gonna put too much pressure on myself because the rest of my life is the rest of my life.

So, you know, maybe I don’t drink for a year and then I drink for a bit, and then I don’t drink for two years, or I’m back

and I’m able to just have a couple of glasses of wine each week, but so far I’m liking the way I feel and I love the money saving.


That just goes to show how much I was drinking that it’s like all this extra cash.

Shelby: It’s easy to spend the money on it.

Also in the calories too.

I mean, I know you commented, you’re losing some weight, like we’d forget, um, how much of our calories are attributed to drinking.

So there are other, there are other benefits.

But yeah, once you know, like, You know, I don’t know.

Let’s say like you are sober for this year.

Um, once, you know you can do that.

I find that that’s also really helpful too, because like you said, you know, you could get back into it, but then you could say, well, I can just also not do it for this next year if I want to, because you’ve already done that before.

So that’s not so scary.

Like the fear of the unknown.

Elle: That’s true. Yeah.

That’s very true.

And the fear of, yeah.

Can I, you know, do I have a big problem?

Like, can I actually not drink for however long.

And if, if, if I can, so far it’s been almost three months and it’s like, okay.

Shelby: Yeah.

Elle: It makes me feel bad to too about my, myself.

Shelby: And especially while you’re around it too.

I mean, that’s a, that’s a great feat.

Um, I think most people think they would never be able to do that.

Um, especially in this pandemic where everyone is probably drinking way more than they ever have.

So I commend you for, for going forth and tackling that goal.

Elle: Thank you.

Thank you.

Well, let’s, um, let’s keep in touch about these goals.

We will anyway for work.

So we kind of pepper in how it’s going.


Um, with the no boozing and for you, the exercise, I’ll try and exercise.

Maybe you can, maybe let me know when after each week what you’ve done, the yoga and the workouts, and they’ll be like, okay, I can do one.

I like your idea of do one.

Once a week for however many weeks, months, then another one.

That’s a good idea.

Shelby: I mean, just see how you feel.

And even if you don’t want to commit to like once a week, you could just say, I’m just going to do it once and like see how it feels.

And then, um, I try to like pay attention to the positive physical benefits so I can try to make like a positive association in my mind.

And it took some time, but we got there.

So I know.

I know you could do that too.

Um, but yeah, don’t, we all put too much pressure on ourselves, so just start with one.

Elle: That’s true.

Shelby: And I’ll definitely keep in touch about it.

Elle: Excellent. Okay.

Well, thank you so much, Shelby.

This was interesting as always, um, good luck with your goals and yeah, we’ll keep in touch and maybe chat again.

Uh, within 2021.

See how, how it’s going if we’re still we’re still there.

Shelby: Yeah,

Elle: That might be interesting.

Shelby: Definitely.

I know..

Elle: Like a six month…

You just gave

Shelby: me an ide, a like, Oh gosh, now I’m on the hook for this.

So yeah, we will, we can do a progress update and um, yeah, I’m, it’s always a pleasure to chat with you.

Elle: Great.


Well, I will speak to you soon.


Shelby: Sounds good.

See you later Elle.

Elle: Bye.

Steve and Alex – Confidence (Part 2)

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Alex: Yeah, totally.

I think about a month ago I started riding my brother’s scooter and I had never ridden a scooter before.

So, obviously, the first few hours on it were a little wobbly, but after kind of developing a sense of how it works and how it feels then building on that confidence is really what enables you to be a safe driver.

It’s confidence in driving that allows you to be confident of what’s around you, of your abilities as a driver, so that you’re not worrying about focusing on everything that’s going on next to you, but focused on just the key things that need to happen.

It helps, too, in just developing a clarity.

Steve: What’s more, confidence is important in all of our activities, not just in language learning.

So if you are a language learner, but also you have a job, so you work, if you have a sense of achievement in one area it carries over into the other area.

So if you feel that oh, wow, I had this great conversation in Korean or whatever — in my case maybe Korean — you feel a sense of achievement.

That makes you more positive in your other activities.

So if we’re teaching language in such a way as to frustrate and discourage people, we’re in fact not just discouraging insofar as language learning is concerned.

We’re making them less positive in their other areas of activity, which is really kind of bad.

Certainly here you only hear negative things about French at school.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: I wouldn’t say only, but 99%.

Alex: Pretty much, yeah.

Steve: Pretty much.

Alex: It’s the same where I went to school in California.

There is probably about half and half who study French and Spanish, but it’s the same for Spanish and French; both ways, yeah.

Steve: I know in my own experience in high school we had French and I got good marks, but I wasn’t at all interested.

Then I had a professor at university who just turned me on and that turned me on, subsequently, to learning other languages.

There it was because the content of the course was just so interesting and the way he presented it.

Here, again, it’s connecting with content that matters so you can understand stuff.

I remember like at school you’ll always find the guy, say in French, whose mother is a Francophone and therefore who speaks French, but he gets poor marks.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: The teacher is oh, yeah, he can speak, but you know, ha, ha, his subjunctive is not quite up to snuff. Does it matter?

He’s miles ahead of everybody else in the class because he can actually speak and he can understand what people say.

So why do we learn languages if not to speak.

Maybe his mother is a Francophone and maybe his mother doesn’t speak grammatically correctly all the time, just as there are many Anglophones who don’t speak English grammatically correctly all the time, but they communicate.

Yet these people saying no, no, he’s got poor marks or whatever.

Alex: Yeah.

That was the same for me when I took Korean at university that there were some kids who were Korean who spoke Korean with their parents.

It’s the second year course and they’re there communicating with teacher fully in Korean and everyone else is like ah, ah, just totally mangling everything.

It’s funny, as you say, the kids who can speak fluently who don’t maybe know the formal grammar and things like that get worse marks than the people who memorize everything, regurgitate it perfectly, but can’t have a simple conversation with someone.

Steve: I know.

So, yeah, confidence, I think that should be the thing, is how do we get people to feel confident and to feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement in language learning?

So, again, I don’t recommend this for engineers and neurosurgeons.

Alex: Not for the Sciences.

Steve: Not for the Sciences. Not for the hard Sciences.

And, yeah, you’ve got to have goals for people.

Again, we know very well that people always say well, nowadays the kids they don’t know grammar or they can’t express themselves very well and stuff, which is true to some extent.

Now, I don’t know if it was better 50 years ago.

I don’t know, but certainly you hear teachers say that and professors at universities say that.

They say it’s because of computer games or it’s because of whatever and I suspect that that’s true.

I suspect that it’s because people read less.

So the goal of speaking well and being able to express your thoughts clearly, being able to think clearly, structure an essay, to write, I mean those things are important.

They are important, more important than the second language acquisition because you’re ability to communicate in your first language is key to your professional success.

It’s absolutely the number one thing.

They’ve done studies.

More than your years of schooling, it is your degree of literacy and they divide the degree of literacy of people up into five sort of segments.

There’s the top 20%, the second, third, fourth and fifth and the top 20%, by enlarge, do much better than anybody else and the lowest 20% are to be found in our penitentiaries or on welfare.

Not all.

There’s people who are very illiterate and who have done very well.

They’re trades people or they’ve got other compensating attributes, qualities, but all other things being equal, statistically, if you’re in that top 20% you’re going to do well.

Therefore, it’s extremely important to be literate, to use the language well, your own language.

It’s somewhat less important in the second language, especially if the majority of people graduating from school can’t use that second language at all.

To that extent you need goals, but I’m convinced that if you can get people to read a lot and listen, but read.

In other words, it gets back to this whole input thing.

If they read they’re going to learn about things.

If they’re reading they’re reading about something.

So they begin reading Twilight or Harry Potter and then, eventually, they’ll read other stuff.

They can access a whole world of learning if they can read.

So I think there should be very real goals in terms of encouraging people to read and one of the things there is to give people the freedom to choose things that they’re interested in.

I mean I don’t know what it was like for you at school, but we had to read some pretty boring stuff at school, some novels that weren’t interesting you know.

It’s one thing if we have to read the History book.

Okay, I can appreciate that we should know the history of the world, the history of Canada or whatever, but when it comes to novels the teacher arbitrarily decides that this is a good novel.


Of the thousands and thousands of novels, why do you choose this?

So maybe today with the Kindle and Kobo and whatnot it’s easier to provide more choice to people.

Alex: Well, getting back to how to provide more confidence, I think one of the things that was missing from my language education, my formal language education that is, is we never really did that much reading.

You always find this short paragraph or two-paragraph intro at the chapter and then some vocab and some grammar explanations, but when it comes to actually picking up an actual book or seeing actual text in that language you have no confidence that you’re able to read that.

I think when you kind of break through that barrier of finishing your first book…

Steve: I agree.

Alex: …finishing your first novel, you’re like wow! I did this. I can read more.

It bolsters your confidence and opens you up to being able to pursue more stuff and, as you say, to learn.

Steve: And it’s another achievement.

It’s another stepping stone.

It’s another Everest that you’ve climbed.

I’ve likened the first book you read in a second language to like climbing Mt.


When you do that boy, you feel wow!

I read this book.

I’m not talking about reading it on LingQ and looking up every word.

I’m talking about a book.

No access to online dictionaries.

I read this book.

It’s a tremendous sense of achievement.

So, yeah, I guess we’re agreeing.

You know what?

One time we should have a discussion where we disagree.

It gets a bit boring after a while.

But, no, all these things help build up confidence, a sense of achievement.

You’ve got a livelier step.

You’re up at and it.

You feel more confident about your language learning and all your other activities as well.

So when I see these people – this gets back to my YouTube channel – who come on and criticize me.

I would never criticize someone who puts up a YouTube channel.

Hey, look at me.

I’m speaking Swahili or Spanish and I go well, you know your tones are off, whatever.

No, unless they make some ridiculous claim that I speak like a native, but then you’re setting yourself up.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: Why set yourself up for something?

Chances are it’s not necessary.

If you listen long enough you can identify words and you can do a good job at it, even those people who have a heavy accent.

I mean the number of people I know who speak so well with a heavy French accent, with a heavy Chinese accent, it doesn’t matter, but who use words well.

So, the key is to compliment people for what they have achieved and not to try and criticize them for where they maybe aren’t quite perfect yet.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: Only you and I are perfect, right?

Alex: Of course.

Steve: Of course.

Ha, ha, ha, that’s certainly not the case.

Alex: Yeah.

Steve: Okay. Well, thank you for listening.

Alex: Yeah, thanks for listening everyone.

We hope you enjoyed this podcast.

Steve: In two parts.

Alex: Yes. We’ll see you again next time.

Steve: Yes, and we’ll try and make it more frequent.

Alex: Yeah.