No British or American English here, mate.
Just fair dinkum Australian English!
Provide English learners access to Australian English
learning materials that are fun and engaging.
The FREE Podcast
I created The Aussie English Podcast to help intermediate-advanced English learners learn to understand & speak real English as it is spoken Down Under.
Many of my students were fed up with basic, boring, and unnatural-sounding English learning materials.
In order to give them access to real English, as it is spoken by native speakers, I upload multiple lessons each week, which include:
– Expression episodes
– Interview episodes
– IELTs episodes
– Vlogs (the audio of course)
– Conversation episodes
– and much more!
Download ANY FREE podcast app on your phone and simply subscribe to the Aussie English Podcast and start levelling up your English!
Listen to all the latest expression, vlog, and interview episodes here!
AE 522 – Interview: Andrew’s 12-Year Adventure Teaching English in China
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English! Today I have a special guest, Andrew Lawson from Queensland, Andrew you’ve just gotten back from China and you’ve been over there, I think you were telling me, I think for 12 years teaching English.
Well, eleven and a half years teaching English in Chinese universities.
So, how on Earth did that happen? How on Earth did you end up in China for more than a decade teaching English over there? That’s crazy!
Well, I had a friend who was studying Chinese in China and he said come over and teach English and my natural reaction was I can’t do that, I’ve never done anything like that! But the more I thought about it and after doing a TESOL course and some other stuff, I went and I was very, very surprised to find out I enjoyed it.
So, how easy was that to organise? You had to do a TESOL course and then was there a lot of paperwork or organization to get over to China?
Okay, now, okay. This is back in 2006. It was much easier, the restrictions weren’t so great. What they used to say is all you needed white skin and a passport from an English-speaking country, but it’s a little bit harder now. But anyway, we got over there and we were teaching in a vocational college, first off. A little Vocational College 13,000 students, right across the road, there was another university 22,000 students, so, me coming from Australia, the idea of wall to wall people.
So that was a bit of culture shock for you, was it?
A little bit. I had been warned about to expect things to be very very different. Even just apart from the language, but it did it worked out well, I had my wife there to hold my hand so I survived.
So, did she do the TESOL course as well to teach English with you too?
She didn’t do that TESOL course, my wife had a degree which… well, my wife is Dutch, but she did her degree in Australia which ok, it was done through an Australian university, which made the way possible for her and so, but the thing is she has a slight Dutch accent, but the thing is the Chinese could not understand it, could not pick it up, could not hear any difference.
I had a student recently who is Dutch and she wanted to get an Australian accent, she wanted to get lessons and I was like when I first had a lesson I was like… you barely have any accent at all! I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to help you because you speak like a native speaker, but it sounds like it’s almost American with a bit of Irish in there or something.
The thing is, I’ve always said to the students don’t worry about the British accent, the American accent, when you speak, speak clearly so people can understand you. Now the trouble coming to Australia is what Australians do to English does require a little extra understanding and that’s why you’ve got a job and I’ve got a job!
So, what were you expecting when you first prepared to go over to China, what were your expectations and how did they compare to when you actually got there and put your feet on the ground?
Well, it was obviously going to be something very new. Fortunately, unfortunately, we had trouble with the plane. We sat in the plane in Singapore airport for two hours because of mechanical problems. So, we were a little bit late, which meant we were tired. So, by the time we arrived in the city that we were going to, which was three hours from Shanghai by car, we’d been awake for about 36 plus hours and all we wanted to do was sleep so… but the thing is with us being they wanted to take us for a meal. They were free meals. So, but after a while they sort of got the idea that we just were not interested in eating. We just wanted to sleep. They took us to the apartment where we just crashed, but we were more than pleased with how they dealt with us and how they…if we had a problem they would come to the party and help which in whichever way they could. I have heard other horror stories of people going to China. It all makes a difference in where you go. The people that you go with and the people that you go to, there are some…
So, how did you organise where you were going to go, then? Did you know of which places beforehand or was it just you’ve put your hand up now we’re sending you here?
I contacted an agency which did place people in China and they came back with one place for me to go, for us to go to and we received an e-mail saying we want you there but then all of a sudden they must have had someone more qualified answer, answer their email and so, we just got pushed to the side. The agency sent us another school, which was in Yongzhou, and yes yes we want you we want you. Then we heard nothing. So, I contacted the agency again and then I was… oh sorry that’s incorrect, there was another school and they wanted us there, but then I saw my signature appear on a document that I hadn’t signed. Yeah. And so I backed out of that and I said no way. By this stage the agency was starting to get a little bit unhappy with me and then they said all I’ve got left is this and I said sounds good. That’s and that’s where we went, a place called Wuxi in Jiangsu Province, which is about 120 kilometers from Shanghai. Yeah a little city of about 6 million people.
Little, little city of about 6 million, bigger than any Australian city.
The Chinese do consider it small.
You’ve got Shanghai, which has Australia’s population and that’s one city. Now, China is a very big place, like it’s about a million square kilometers larger than Australia and….But anyway at first… well, we spent two years at that first college and we came back for six months for family reasons, but then the opportunity came to go back and we went back and we were there from 2009, February 2009 to when we finished in June 2018.
Wow. Far out! And so, what was that like the first time, you know, you’ve got there, you’ve gone to the place that you gotta be teaching at, what was it like stepping into a classroom for the first time? Is it the same as an Australian classroom full of kids, except they’re just learning English or is it completely different?
I would say, having never taught in Australia, but I would say they were a lot more naive, maybe that’s a harsh way of putting it, but they were a lot… they weren’t so much streetwise and they were very polite, very understanding and it was a pleasure to work with them.
That’s the reputation the Chinese have, at least in Australia, for me especially. Chinese students tends to be very polite, very hard working and they keep their nose down, except they have that negative stereotype of not speaking enough, you know, with their English. Is that true in China itself too, that the students tend to be a bit shyer than in Australia?
Well, the thing is in China you’ve got so many, so you will have some that are… oh I only want to listen. You’ll have others who have the courage to speak and you would be surprised at their level of English. Cause, having met well over the years quite a few Chinese students, some of them could carry on a conversation anywhere, others no matter…others think their English level was like my Chinese level and that’s non-existent.
So, how did you manage to survive in China for 12 years with no Chinese? And I’m guessing obviously this speaks to how good the English level for some Chinese people is, if you can survive for that long with no Chinese at all.
Yeah. The thing was, if you go to a supermarket, they have supermarkets basically the same, ok you have the products that you want. They have some form of scanner. The thing is, you want the product, they want your money.
You make it work.
If you go to a market where they barter, that’s a little bit harder, but knowing a few Chinese phrases like, “Tai qwi la”, “lower, lower”, you’re able to work out. And by their reaction you could work out whether you got a good deal or not, if they were sad as you were walking away you know you got a good deal. If they were smiley and happy, you know you paid too much.
You got ripped up. If they’re pointing at you and laughing you definitely paid too much.
That happened a few times too.
Far out! So what were the biggest hurdles then, if obviously language wasn’t as big of a hurdle or at least as big of an issue, were there other parts of the culture or being over there overseas that were a big hurdle or a big problem that you had to get used to? Like the food or being alone without many Australians…
The food was… there are all sorts of problems, but the food was a problem in the Jiangsu, our first city, I bought a loaf of bread and I didn’t know that in that province they like things very, very sweet. I put it the freezer and was just taking out a couple of slices to have toast that I defrosted it on a plate. Thankfully it was on a plate, because I lifted up two pieces of bread and there was a big pool of sugar underneath. I say they like things sweet yeah that’s…
You sure you weren’t in the desert, it was that the desert isle or…?
No, no…that…anyway. But in the last city we were at, Changsha, we were there for eight years, in that city it was very spicy food…
Yeah, so ’cause that’s what I’ve heard about, there’s quite a few places where they…Is it Szechuan Sauce is from…
Szechuan. Okay, that is another province, we have a friend from there who was in Changsha and they like things very spicy, but they have a different set of spices in Changsha, in Hunan, which was a province, the spices apparently came from Mexico about 160 years ago. It’s quite spicey. And according to what we have seen, the tolerance right through the younger people is getting higher that they’re taking more and more and the older people are saying, no it is just too hot.
So, I never got that. I understand, I like spicy food, but they get it to a point where you can no longer really taste the subtleties in the food because it’s too hot and it’s just no longer enjoyable, even if you can withstand the heat. It’s kind of like that just feels like I’m eating fire now.
Well in Szechuan province they have one spice that just numbs the mouth.
Not even nothing hot it just numbs the mouth.
Well, I don’t see the point of it. This friend who is from Sichuan Province we went to a restaurant one time and this is in China and heading over the restaurant was authentic Japanese curry, in English. You ask how I survive. Yeah I read the signs. One of the… well the menu was in English and Chinese and one was crazy hot curry.
And you were like ‘oh, alright, challenge accepted!’.
I’m not silly! Okay, she had to have a go. She got to the stage, no this is too hot,.
And that was before it came out.
….which was very nice, but we were back there a week later and she had exactly the same dish, she wanted to make sure it was too hot.
I prefer it not to be too spicy, but a lot of times over there in the average restaurant, in your mum and dad restaurant, it was too spicy for me.
So, did you have to give them a special like…can you guys just, you know, drop it down, the white man spice, you know, like a little bit less than normal for us?
A lot less than normal. We learned certain restaurants to go to and certain meals to have. Now, there was one that was from Szechuan, I think the Americans call it Kungpao chicken. Gong bao di jing was what it was and “Yi dian dian”, okay “just a little.”
“A little bit, a little bit.”
But, by going to the same places over and over, they got used to how you wanted it and a lot of times they would tell you what you were going to order. One of the first dishes in China that I really liked was a fried egg and fried egg and tomato.
Altogether, and I’ve never had that before, and oh… well, in our first, in Jiangsu Province they would throw sugar in with it to make it sweeter, as I said, they like everything sweet, but it was interesting like all over China there’s eight separate cuisines. Another place we were at in Jongzhou in Hunan Province, it is a very salty taste. I like salty things and so, I quite liked it, but my wife didn’t like that quite so much.
So, yeah you have to move around the country, do you? Until you find somewhere the cuisine was acceptable.
Now, you go to where you find the restaurants are acceptable so, you can have the same dishes, but it’s how they… how they serve them up, just how they cook them because they each have their own way of serving the same food.
Far out! So, did you get to meet many other Westerner iover there whilst you were there, or where they few and far between? How was it socializing.
Okay. We got to meet quite a few… We all came under the banner of foreigners. Get to meet quite a few foreigners, but from many different countries.
Okay, we’ve got, because of our time in China, we’ve got many German friends now, American friends. We’ve got friends from many different countries. Some people you meet, you’re happy that you’ve met them other people….Ok, it takes all types.
Were they all there doing the same thing too or did they have other sort of jobs that were bringing them over to China?
Now, in our first city I met a couple. They came from Brisbane, he was born in Germany, grew up in Brisbane, she was born in Hong Kong, grew up in Brisbane. They they met at Queensland University when they were studying. He was, he had a PhD in material science and he was working with one of the companies there. There’s quite a few, especially where the industry has gone, there’s a lot of foreigners in China, like there was over 200 thousand English teachers.
You have to remember the size of the country, the size of the population. One point one billion. That’s a lot of people in anyone’s language.
That’s crazy. So, what’s it like too, because it’s I know China is about the size of Australia, right?
2 million square kilometers larger.
Yeah. Okay so, it’s bigger than Australia, but it’s much more homogenous, right? With regards to land where people can live. They’re spread out across the entire country, right? Whereas Australia tends to be around the Eastern coast, a little bit in the North and a little bit in the West South. So, is that… can you just go driving for literally days and days and it’s just city, after city, after city of people?
Basically, if you go, say I arrive in Shanghai and go up the coast, you’ll see city, after city, after city, like where we were in Wuxi, half an hour away from there by slow train, there was Suzhou, which has the name of being the Venice of China. There was about seven million people and there’s a couple of other smaller towns on the way, Kunshan, that still had a couple of million and then you go to Shanghai.
Did it feel like that, though? Like, if you were in Shanghai and you walked outside or even in some of these smaller cities, did it feel as sort of populated as the rest of the world expects or is there actually quite a bit of space, more than you’d think?
If you’re in the city it is wall to wall people. If you are a country, ok, then you’ve got space. But, the cities because of the industry and everything else, have caused a lot of pollution. They’re trying to deal with that now and it’s not as simple as it would seem. Part of the problem would be the Chinese mindset. Ok, someone else will pick it up and this has caused a problem. The air pollution in the city that we were in, occasionally got up to like 200 on this level was dangerous and ocasionally got up to 240.
And what do you do in those cases? You just recommended not to go outside or you have to wear a mask or…?
Well, some people wore masks. I was doing a little bit of bike riding then, I would go out early morning. If you pick your times you can do a lot of things. But there were other cities like Beijing. I’ve heard it’s got up to about 700 on bad days.
So, that’s crazy I just can’t imagine that amount of people. Hopefully I want to go to China one day because there’s just so many sort of cultural things and historical things that I’d love to see and food that I’d like to try, but I can’t imagine the pollution side of things where it’s all consuming, right? Especially in these big cities where you can’t it’s not like you can avoid it, right?
In the cities, ok, the cities are growing because people are moving in to the cities. It happens everywhere.
Ok, building like the farmers aren’t making enough on the land so, they’ll move in and go into the building industry and so, the cities are growing. But the thing is, with that, with the industry and all the rest you have the pollution. These are problems that they have to deal with.
I wonder, are they going to put a lot more into public transport to try and bring that pollution down? because I know they’re trying to…. I think in some cities they have a rule where certain number plates can drive one day and then the next can drive the next day, right?
In Beijing. So, the rich make sure they have…
There is a lot of public transport, buses and all the rest. The larger cities now have subways. The city we were in has just put in its first couple of subway lines with about four or five more lines to go in, which made it quite easy. The buses were very cheap, one fare, whether you go one stop or go to the end of the terminal…
So, the buses only cost about 40 cents.
I wish they’d bring that here. It would be nice, it’s more like 15 dollars to get the train from Geelong to Melbourne and back. It’s crazy. So, bringing it back to teaching English, as Chinese students, especially Chinese students who are in China, would you have any advice, any specific advice for them if they’re potentially listening to this episode what can they do to better learn English?
Ok, one thing they have to do is practice English, read English books, not books written by Chinese translated into English, read books written by English writers.
Is that a common thing over there where they take English books or, sorry, Chinese books that have been translated into English and they read those instead of books that have been written by English speakers?
Most of the textbooks are written by Chinese. There is a book that is a real problem.
So, what does that what does that lead to? Is it just mainly poor grammar or small errors that are just common for English learners because they are not learning it from an English speaker who’s written it?
Well, in the early days, the English teachers, the Chinese English teachers, hadn’t experienced speaking English themselves, a lot of them. So, that did a lot of harm to the pronunciation. Now, the damage that has been done in grammar, like they all learn a lot of grammar, but the thing is it’s, it’s like looking at a street map, but you still don’t know the way.
I’ve corrected quite a number of papers and they’ve been written from anyone from students to deans and professors and most of the problems are the same, like some of the scientific papers I’ve read, I haven’t understood the science, but I didn’t have to, the mistakes prepositions, articles, A, AN and THE and tenses, they would be over 90 percent of all the written problems.
Wow. Does it carry over from written into speaking as well or do they tend to do better or worse with speaking?
When we speak, a lot gets hidden. When we put things together and the same over there. People will… see when they are taught English, they’re taught for different subjects, reading, writing, listening and speaking. Whereas we have them as one subject And ahis is one of the things that I believe makes it harder for them because, when they’re all together, ok, this relates to that.
But I had some students in my last college and I got them to read a passage and I thought oh… they’re pronouncing it very well! Then I made the mistake of asking ‘what does that mean?’. I don’t know. They had no idea what it meant, but they were able to parrot the words.
Far out! Because they I think that’s sort of the Asian stereotype, from an Australian point of view, is that they are incredibly good with rote learning, WITH practicing things till they get it right with regards to preparing for Maths exams, English exams, Chemistry exams. But when it comes to improvisation on the spot and spontaneous speech or spontaneous use of the language, which is hard for anyone, right? But I found that that tends to be one of the things and not because it’s their fault, but because it’s I think less emphasized by teachers.
As you’re talking, I was also helping prepare students for the provincial speech competition and they… well, they were sending me the speeches and most of these were written by teachers, not the students. Most of them I thought were utter rubbish.
And what, do they get them to just remember them word for word?
Basically. I had a teacher tell me, like after I’d said this is utter rubbish.. ”oh the judges are Chinese so, they won’t notice.”You can make it that what it was like.
And that’s the hardest thing, right? And this was always the thing at my school. They would always be those students who learnt how to solve the problems, but didn’t understand how they did it so, they would learn to be able to answer math questions. I was probably one of them, but I if you ask me why those relationships were there or ask me to interpret it or expand on it, I never could because I never practiced it and so I try to emphasize how important it is to improvise and learn to improvise by using the language all the time. Did you did you come into contact with people who had problem with confidence too? And were there any sort of pieces of advice you gave to students who had trouble summoning up the confidence to speak?
Yeah, there were students… actually I saw a movie, it was the King’s Speech. I don’t know if you have seen.
Yeah I have, it’s good.
Where he had problems speaking and you look at how he was helped and you can relate a lot of that across. I would tell them, ok, just take a couple of deep breaths, doesn’t matter doesn’t matter if you’re standing in front of a crowd. Just take a couple of deep breaths, the crowd will wonder what you’re doing, that’s their problem and ok just calm down, because the thing is if you get nervous, you start to breathe more shallow and so, then it makes it harder to pronounce the words. By taking deep breaths and slowing down, don’t rush because one of the things they kept on telling me…oh if you’re a good speaker you can speak fast…but speaking fast doesn’t make a good speaker, and anyway by speaking more slowly while just taking your time and one point at a time, you say what you want to say and that helps to overcome. I also had to teach on how to do presentations and things like this and it’s all tied up together.
Far out! So, coming back to Australia, did you experience any reverse culture shock after you were, obviously, away for years?
When I say I was away for years while working in universities does have the advantage you have long holidays.
So, you were back and forth.
And so, we were able to come home twice a year. For those 12 years, we were able to come home twice a year. So, that enabled us to minimize any, any bad reverse culture shock.
Were there things that you picked up, though? Where you were like ”oh…I never realized Australians or Westerners have this kind of behavior”, like did anything, I don’t know, come up as as strange after you’d spent time in another country for so long?
I was at a friend’s place, a German friend, in Wuxi, we were back visiting and he had satellite TV and he switched over to an ABC, Australian Broadcaster, when I heard this journalist and I thought…Strewth! That was little bit of a shock, but…when you come back and you hear a lot of the broad English, broad Australian that is spoken and oh yeah, oh yeah I used to say that.
Did you miss that? Do you miss that having that just around you? Because that was one thing when I went to Indonesia and I’ve been to France, I remember the distinct… of the first most exciting things I notice is the ambient sound in the country is different, the way in which you hear speech in the background being mumbled or like just that sound is very different and so, did that, was that a big shock when you were sort of back be like ”ok, there’s Aussies around again, I know this sound in the background.”
I didn’t miss the sound so much because I was speaking in English the whole time, I was speaking with educated people. What I missed was blue sky, and blue ocean, and if they had a cloud free day the sky was a very insipid blue very, very light blue, not that rich color that we have, well, that I’m used to here.
Specially In Queensland, up North, right? It’s probably bluer than it is for me.
I’m looking between the curtains and not a cloud in the sky.
It’s grey outside here there’s nothing.
Where we were in Changsha it was grey virtually the whole time and sometimes if it was mixed up with a rainstorm it got to the stage where you only had say a couple hundred metres visibility.
A couple of times it was quite bad. I remember going across across the river and there were bridges about every kilometre and some days you couldn’t see the bridges on the other side on either side of you.
So it was thick sometimes.
And that’s something I think that would shock me, but is there anything you miss now from China? Is there anything that we could adopt as a country or a culture from China that would enrich things over here?
Oh there are many things over there that I’d like to see here, but I don’t think Australia could afford it. What I mostly miss is people, you know, my friends, but some technological things, they have the fast train there. Now, when we first arrived to go from Wuxi to Shanghai, would take three hours by slow train, 120 kilometers. Now, it takes about 30, on the fastest train with the least stops, takes about 35 minutes.
Where we were in Changsha, we were on the train line that would go from Guangzhou to Wuhan. Now, that’s a thousand kilometers, Brisbane to Sydney, basicly. The train would do that in three and a half hours.
Jesus! That’s insane!
The thing is they have that population to… the population too to keep something like that.
I was about to say, we’d just never… we could sustain that, but every ticket would be probably more than our flight to China, right? Like it would be thousands upon thousands of dollars.
The cost over there was, well…to go from down to Shenzhen, which is right next door to Hong Kong, would cost 50 dollars on the fast train, a hundred dollars first class. But it was like sitting in a plane because it was all sealed and the chairs were comfortable and it was truly a very comfortable ride. But I saw a program on ABC some years ago, they were looking at the Chinese system and going from Brisbane to Melbourne or something Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne would cost about, well…this was years ago, cost about 8 billion dollars then.
One of the ways they are able to enhance the speed is by having the train tracks as straight as possible. So, not end.
So, yeah we have certainly a large enough country for it, but we don’t have the population for it and well… it’s not likely, like you’re talking about the size of China, I was amazed at how much water there was, like we were thousand kilometers from the coast in my last cit, now the river going through that was a tributary of the Yangzte and but it was a tributary, but it would be say, I don’t know the Arrow River, but the Brisbane River, I do, and it would be at least three times as wide as the Brisbane River.
Far out. So, I think the Yarra river is tiny, usually, like you know tens of metres across. It’s not very big.
The Brisbane River would be say… maybe half a kilometer. Maybe three or four hundred yards, but this was, It was…there were islands in the middle. Yeah and I was very surprised to learn that first bridge across this particular river wasn’t until 1970.
So, before it was all barges and and because of the area we were from was near Mao Zedong’s hometown, they used to talk about him swimming across the river.
Alright, so last question: if you had your class in front of you now from China, what advice would you give them for coming to Australia? For preparing for whether it’s for our language or our culture, are there any quick tips that you’d give them?
Quick Tips. No, but the thing I would say is work on your English, work on…well, from being back, I know that a lot of people have problems understanding Australians and so, this would necessitate getting hold of some Australian dialogue, you know, where you hear the ”G’day!”, and all the rest of it, and, okay, learn to understand and learn… most languages do crush words in together.
But I believe Australian…well, it’s no real difference, but understanding Australian because you have so much opposition, because you’ve got American English on one side, British English on the other, American and both of those branches of English have a lot of sub areas, subdialects under them.
That’s it, slang, pronunciation differences, expressions, it’s crazy.
This is basically what I’ve been doing with my ESL work since I’ve been back. I’ve been helping students who well….not students, but clients who have already been through the education system, but in the workplace and need help understanding what the man on the street is saying or what their work colleagues are saying and speaking about because there are so many idioms, so much slang, it’s truly hard for them.
Oh, brilliant! Andrew Lawson, thank you so much for joining me today and if anyone wants to get in contact with you for potential lessons or just to say G’day, how can they do that?
The easiest way, first off, would be through the email address: firstname.lastname@example.org then we could work out a way of contacting. One thing I did get from China was using their media WeChat. In Chinese, it’s called Weixin, and that was an easy way, that’s like WhatsApp or something like that, but it was a little bit more advanced and, but if you want any information on Australia or, sorry, China i’d only be too happy to help.
Yeah. No worries! I’ll definitely include that information in the transcript. Andrew, thank you so much for your time today, I really appreciate it.
Thank you, my pleasure. Hopefully, it’s helpful to some.
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas:
AE 517 – Expression: Have Tickets on Yourself
What’s the only venomous animal on the planet that doesn’t make its own venom? Here’s a clue. It is three hearts pumping blood. It digests food through its brain, has a bird-like beak, deadly saliva, weighs only 25 grams, is jet-powered, is a night-dweller, can change colour, uses its body as a cape, has no bones, a tongue-like drill, is a contortionist, oh, and it has 8 arms.
G’day you mob! How’s it going? Welcome to this episode of the Aussie English Podcast, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English so, guys, welcome to 2019! Happy new year, guys! I hope you guys had an amazing New Year’s Eve! Hope you celebrate it. I hope you didn’t get too drunk. I hope that you didn’t get into any trouble of any kind and I hope it was an amazing evening. So, for us, Kel and I went to my parents place this year and we started a bit early I guess about 6pm so, maybe not that early, but we were hanging out and to give you an idea of what New Year’s is like here, at least in Ocean Grove, in Victoria, in Australia, we were having, I guess, sort of like nibblies , snacks, you know, things to eat for the first hour or two where we had a few beers as well and some wine.
I think there was champagne and then we had dinner, which tends to be a barbecue of some kind. So, I think Dad went out on the deck, opened up the barbie, turned the gas on, started cooking some sausages and some pork, but I think he cooked in the oven. We had some salad, some veggies, some cheese some…what else did we have? Some chips and other things and then we got onto the harder kind of liquor where I think Dad got into the Scotch with his friends and Mum had some Gin with a few of the other friends that were there. But it was pretty tame, we just sort of hung out around a table chatting the whole night. There were fireworks at 10pm for the kids. They usually have the early fireworks on so, the kids can go to bed and then we had the fireworks on at 12, but I think Kel and I were a bit wrecked, we were pretty tight so, we ended up going home at about… I think it was eleven thirty at night and I may have even passed out before the fireworks went off for 12pm so, this was probably one of the more tame New Years that I’ve ever had. So, yeah, I hope you guys had an amazing New Year’s and I hope that 2019 ends up being a killer year for you, guys!
So, that scene at the very start of today’s episode, guys. That was a scene from a video on YouTube, from the YouTube channel The Nature of Science which is run by one of my favourite professors in Australia called Jamie Seymour so, he is an associate professor at James Cook University and his specialty, his interest. His venom and dangerous animals so, go and check out his YouTube channel and stay around until the end of this episode to find out more about what makes blue-ringed octopi or octopuses so interesting and I thought of mentioning blue-ringed octopi or octopuses this week because I had read a story of a man in WA, in Western Australia who’d been out at a beach with his kids and his kids had given him some shells. He put the shells in his pocket and then when he got back to shore he realised he could feel something moving in his pocket and it ended up being the deadly blue ring octopus and I think it was actually two of these that obviously had been a little shocked when their homes, the shells, had been picked up and put in some man’s pocket.
Anyway, that made it into the news, no one died, but it made me think of blue ring octopi and why they’re awesome. Anyway, guys, as usual remember this podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom, guys. That is the best place for you to go online to learn Australian English, English in general, but specifically Australian English, wherever you want whenever you want. Everything is online, there are 50+ courses in there, guys, designed to improve your pronunciation, expression usage, vocabulary, speaking abilities and much more. So, go to theaussieenglishclassroom.com and sign up.
If you just want the transcripts and the downloads for the podcast, however, you know, you’re just interested in reading and listening and being able to download all of that and get access to that, go to theaussieenglishpodcast.com and for the price of one coffee per month you will get unlimited access to all transcripts that are just on the podcast. Anyway, guys, as usual let’s dive into the Aussie Joke for the day, ok? Aussie Joke, and it’s a good one, it’s a good one. It’s a ripper.
What do you call an Aussie in the finals of the World Cup? Right? Soccer? What do you call an Aussie in the finals of the World Cup?
A referee. Get it? A referee.
Now the reason the joke’s answer is a referee is insinuating that the only way for an Australian to get into the World Cup, the soccer World Cup, is to be a referee because Australians aren’t known to be incredibly good at soccer. And so, there’s no way that our teams would ever get in, although sometimes we do.
Alright, so today’s expression is ‘to have tickets on yourself’. You might hear this as ‘to have got tickets on yourself’ and even ‘to sell tickets on yourself’. Now, this expression was suggested by Lima in the Aussie English classroom Facebook group. Great selection, Lima! This is a good one and it is very, very popular in Australia. However, it is less popular overseas. Let’s go through the definitions of the words in the expression or expressions ‘have tickets on yourself’, ‘have got tickets on yourself’ or ‘to sell tickets on yourself’, right?
So, ‘to have’. If you have something, you possess that thing, right? You own that thing.
‘To sell’. If you sell something, it is that you are giving something to someone for money, right? You are asking them to pay for that thing.
‘A ticket’. ‘A ticket’ is a pass that gives you entry or certain privileges somewhere or it could be a pass that signifies ownership or it could be for a prize or a large price tag.
And then when we say ‘on yourself’, that is a way of saying for yourself, right? It showing that you have those tickets and those tickets are related to yourself. They are on yourself.
So, let’s define the expression. If you’ve got tickets on yourself, if you have tickets on yourself, if you’re selling tickets on yourself, what do you think this could mean?
If someone has tickets on themselves, it means they are very conceited and very vain and other ways of thinking about this, other expressions we could use to describe these kinds of people, could be that you have an over-inflated opinion of yourself, that you are up yourself, that you have a high opinion of yourself or that you are stuck up and an interesting bit of slang here used in Australia quite a bit too, that you might hear from time to time is that you are a wanker, ok?
Now, that is very informal, it’s very informal language. I wouldn’t recommend using this just anywhere, any time, but you will hear this around the traps, you’ll hear this quite a lot around the place in Australia, ‘a wanker’ tends to be someone who is very conceited or vain, a loser, you know? An idiot, a bad person.
So, we can imagine that this expression originated thinking about someone who has tickets on themself meaning that they probably think that they have special privileges, right? Or are worth a high price or are prized in some way. So, you know, they have tickets on themself because they are such a prize, I don’t know, that’s about the only way I can think about this coming about an expression.
So, let’s go through three examples of how to use the expression to have tickets on yourself or to sell tickets on yourself.
So, example number one. Imagine you are a young lady and you’re going out clubbing, you know, you’re going out on the town, you want to party with the girls. Maybe you dress up in your finest frock, meaning your finest dress, you’re having a dance, having a drink and maybe you’re hoping that you catch the eye of your dream hunk, you know, a dream good looking man who is out and about that night too. So, you rock up to the club in an Uber or a taxi, you arrive at the club in an Uber or a taxi, you jump out and you have to get in a line with the rest of the people out the front. Eventually, you get inside, you walk up to the bar with your girlfriends, you buy a drink and straight away a guy approaches you and starts trying to chat you up, right? He starts trying to seduce you. So, he’s talking about himself, he’s talking about his job, how much money he makes, how expensive his car is and straight away you can tell how up himself he is, how much of a high opinion of himself he has. So, you turned your girlfriends in you might say ”man, this guy’s got tickets on himself! He’s selling tickets on himself! “, ”He has tickets on himself!”, He’s incredibly conceited and vain”, He has heaps of tickets on himself”, ”What a wanker!”.
Number two. You’re going out with the family on Lygon Street, in Melbourne and this is a street in the center of Melbourne, near the CBD, that is renowned for its Italian restaurants and ice cream stores among other things. So, it’s incredibly renowned for also having a number of rich men who drive down the street in expensive cars such as things like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches, Maseratis. So, you head out with the family, you find a good restaurant where you want to have some pizza, you get a table, it’s outside in the street, you order some pizza or a pasta with your family when a guy drives down the road slowly in his Ferrari and he’s revving the engine, you know, he’s trying to draw a lot of attention to himself. He wants everyone to notice him. He wants everyone to look at him as much as possible. You know, all the diners, all the pedestrians in the street take notice of me, and your wife leans over to you and says ”Man, this guy selling tickets on himself!”. ”What a loser! This guy’s got tickets on himself!”. ”What a conceited and vain guy who’s after attention!”. And if she’s an Australian woman and she’s wanting to be a little ruder, she might refer to the guy as ”a wanker”. This wanker’s selling tickets on himself. This wanker got tickets on himself.
Number three. You’re going to a family gathering and your least favorite cousin is coming along to the party. Everyone dislikes this guy because his favorite topic is himself. So, he is always talking about himself. He only ever wants to talk about what he’s doing, his achievements, his plans and it gets very tiresome, very boring, very quickly. He’s the youngest child in his family and so, maybe that’s the reason why, he didn’t get enough attention as he was growing up as a child and, as a result of that, he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about it so, he has a bit of a complex and he’s constantly wanting to talk about himself. So, the moment he shows up and walks in the door, it begins. ”I’ve done so and so”, ”I’ve traveled to so and so”, I’ve got so and so promotion”, ”I’ve just bought so and so” blah blah blah blah blah, me me me me me. Your family all give each other a silent look and you can tell that everyone’s thinking ”man…. Our cousin has got tickets on himself!” ”He’s so up himself, he’s so stuck up!”, ”He has such an overinflated opinion of himself”, ”He’s got tickets on himself, he’s a massive wanker!”, if you want to be rude, remember, that’s to be rude.
So, hopefully by now guys you understand the expression ‘to have tickets on yourself’, ‘to have got tickets on yourself’ or ‘to sell tickets on yourself’. This expression is primarily heard and used in Australia and it means to be conceited or vain, to be up yourself, to be stuck up.
So, as usual let’s go through a listen and repeat exercise, guys, where you can practice your pronunciation, ok? So, if you are working on an Aussie accent, listen and repeat and try and copy my pronunciation as well as possible. If you’re working on a different English accent, just say the words after me practising your own accent. Ok? Let’s go!
To have tickets
To have tickets on
To have tickets on yourself
I’ve got tickets on myself
You’ve got tickets on yourself
He’s got tickets on himself
She’s got tickets on herself
We’ve got tickets on ourselves
They’ve got tickets on themselves
It’s got tickets on itself
Good job, guys! Remember if you would like to get all the bonus content for this episode, including a bunch of videos showing you things like vocab, other expressions used in this episode, as well as walking you through this pronunciation exercise to help you sound much more like a native speaker, go to theaussieenglishclassroom.com, sign up, and give it a go for one dollar for your first 30 days, ok? Go and check it out!
Anyway, let’s get into the Aussie English Fact today, where I wanted to talk to you about what kind of animal? The blue ringed octopus, ok? So, today’s fact is about one of Australia’s deadliest animals. The unsuspecting, enigmatic and petite blue ring octopus. A group of four species of octopus, the blue ring octopus is a marine animal, it is a cephalopod, which are a group of eight legged mollusks and they include the octopus, as well as squid and cuttlefish and nautilus, nautilus as well.
So, these guys live in intertidal zones and reefs surrounding Australia, but they are also found all throughout the Pacific and Indian oceans as far North as Japan and as far South as Australia. So, the blue-ringed octopus is a tiny and docile little critter, only about 12 to 20 centimetres in length. So, they can generally fit in your hand. They’re active at night, they are nocturnal, and they feed primarily on crabs, hermit crabs, shrimp and any other crustaceans they can get their tiny little tentacles onto.
These guys only live for a very short period of time of about two years and spend much of that time hiding in crevices, whilst displaying effective camouflage patterns with their dermal chromatophores or cells. In other words, they camouflage themselves, they hide themselves with their skin cells that can mimic color and texture of their surroundings. So, when provoked, they quickly change color and they become a bright yellow with each of their 50 to 60 iridescent blue rings flashing as a warning signal: ”don’t eat me! Go away! I’m poisonous!”.
The octopus produces venom containing a number of different chemicals, but of which the most potent and deadly is a chemical called Tetrodotoxin. Interestingly, this toxin is not produced by the octopus itself, but instead, it is produced by bacteria that live in the octopus’s saliva so that when any prey item is bitten by the octopus, the toxin is injected and within moments the defenseless victim is rendered paralyzed and it’s more easily and safely consumed by the octopus. You know, you don’t want those crab pincers chopping off your little tentacles.
If you’re an unlucky human fossicking around the rocky shore in Australia, lifting up rocks, picking up shells or putting your hands in crevices where they don’t belong, you might receive a painless little nip from a frightened octopus trying to defend itself. One of these octopus carries enough venom to kill 26 adult humans, within only a few minutes once the venom has paralysed the diaphragm and you suffocate because you can’t breathe.
The good news is, you’ll survive just fine as long as you’re aware that you’ve been bitten and as long as someone that you’re with can do mouth to mouth, they can do CPR on you and help you breathe until ambulances arrive. Once the ambulance arrives, it will take you to a nearby hospital and put you on a medical ventilator to breathe for you until the venom is metabolised by your body and disappears, usually within about 24 hours. More good news, is that despite its deadly abilities, only three people are known to have died from blue ring octopus bites, two In Australia and a one in Singapore.
Many more have come close to death, but live to tell the tale. So, the moral of the story: make sure that you keep your hands to yourself at the beach. Don’t put them in any dark crevices, in rock pools, where they don’t belong and you’re intruding into the homes of these little octopus and also make sure you empty out any shells that you pick up and want to put in your pocket.
So, with that, guys, I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. I hope you have an amazing 2019 and I will see you in the Aussie English Classroom or in future episodes on the Aussie English Podcast. I’m looking forward to 2019, guys, thanks for your support. See you soon!
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas:
AE 520: A 2018 Recap & 2019 Plans for Aussie English
Let me just get it rolling. Kelly, can you put the slang book down. She’s reading a little book on Australian Slang.
I didn’t know you were recording already.
I just started it, YOLO, you know? You only live once. So, I thought I would get it going, in fact, I’m going to turn my voice down because I tend to speak a lot louder than you. So yeah. To balance it out, bring it close to the mouth, bring it closer to the mouth. That’s it, that’s it…you can move it around. So, we’re still getting used to the set up here and I know that there’s a bit of an echo in the background I’ve ordered some…sound dampening foam.
Right? So, I mean, it sounds a lot more complicated than it really is. It is like… special foam, like you know if you were to buy a microphone or a guitar or some kind of equipment, when you get it usually comes in foam that’s been had a part of it cut out so, that it fits perfectly in that, right? That kind of foam. You can put that on the wall on surfaces that are flat and it disperses the sound. So, it absorbs the sound, but it also doesn’t let the sound reflect back towards the microphone.
How are you going to stick it to the wall?
It comes with double sided tape.
So, you put that on there and so what you guys won’t hear is that, when I get away from the mic, when I speak like this, you can hear that there’s a bit of an echo, right? And that’s really annoying me and probably Kel more than me because every time she edits the audio and so, I’m sort of like… I can keep hearing this in the background and when I edit it, I can see on your channel the reflection of my voice off the wall behind you and into your microphone. So, when I don’t talk, if I mute my channel, I can hear myself still through your microphone because it’s bouncing off the wall behind you and going into your microphone.
I know. That was pretty boring, but there you go, what an intro! video. So I thought that we could chat all about 2018. How we went, what we accomplished and then plans for 2019 and obviously plans for us personally, plans for Aussie English as well. So, 2018. So how was it for you? Did you have fun? Was it a rollercoaster?
It was a rollercoaster.
I think memory is a tricky thing because I’m sure there were other like years in my life where I was struggling with something and I would say, back then, all that was the hardest year of my life, but because now I don’t remember so much of those years that went by, I would say 2018 was the hardest…
Well, it’s always the most recent stuff, right? Why was it so hard for you?
I think there was a lot of change, personally, for me, so…
I think the difficult side of that was not necessarily the fact that there was change, but the fact that there was no certainty.
That there was a lot of uncertainty, you didn’t know what you were going to be doing, where you were going to be within sort of large amount of time, it was kind of like week to week, month to month.
You had to wing it and improvise.
And everything happened at once. So, I would say like, I left Townsville, it was hard for me and then we would just, you know, we were together but then all of a sudden we were living together, which is a big thing and most people tend to, you know, take a while, they date, they stay together for a certain period of time and then they move together, but because we all live in different cities when we decided to be together was like we’re living together.
So, there was no easy way to transition, right? It’s not as if you were living in the city I was living in already, where you could have kept renting wherever it was you were living down the street and I can see you from time to time, it was that you were coming from Townsville to Victoria and so, it made little sense to try to set you up in your own house or in your own rent rent room, rental room, that you’re going to have to pay a heap for when the ultimate goal was to live together. Did you expect to be married to an Australian a year and a half ago and pregnant, four months pregnant?
No, that’s all I’m saying is was just… there was a lot of change and while I was trying to, you know, get my head around something, there was already something new coming, like we were living together, I had a new job that was everything I ever wanted, but it was hard, like it was, you know, a lot of responsibility, in a different city, living with you, sharing houses, we had a lot of problems with shared houses in Canberra and it amazes like we spent six months there and we moved probably five times. So, I know it was hard for you because we were trying to, you know, set up a routine and work and you were just like… that was hard.
Well, I think, now having my own studio and having space, and we have this house now with like four bedrooms and if you’re in my face too much, I can leave, you can leave, if I’m in your face too much, you know, you can leave, I can leave. Whereas before when we were renting a room it was like either we were in the room together or we had to leave the room and we would be with the rest of the house mates. So, there was no real, at least, until the very last house that we where in, there was no real way of kind of getting out of each other’s hair or at least out of everyone else’s hair in the house, right? Unless everyone happened to be out of the house. So, now it’s kind of like you really appreciate how important space is and having multiple rooms, although that’s obviously a luxury that we just didn’t have in Canberra and how bloody expensive it was.
Yeah, the whole Canberra experience…I’m digesting it, to be honest, because I do miss my job and I’m trying to get over it because it was basically a choice and I decided to go a different path and I left this job and there was a visa issue I had to sort out, there was… I had issues with friends a lot this year. So, it was a lot, but on the other hand…
It was an emotional rollercoaster.
I know know…On the other hand, it was great because we only, we only got stronger together. We decided to commit like really hard from the very beginning.
Was that before or after getting married?
Before… from the very beginning and I got pregnant and yeah it’s been, I think relationship wise it’s been great because we are definitely more mature and but…
Why do you think our relationship worked so well? I mean, we have our ups and downs. So, what do you think it is, compared to a lot of other people that we know where we see that they have their… they have much bigger issues than we do, what do you think it is?
I think we are much more willing to listen to each other and be vulnerable.
The communication side of things. I think that’s a really important thing. Kel and I have been on a real, I don’t know, what would you call it? Like a spree with regards to listening to philosophers like Jordan Peterson. I don’t know if we’ve talked about him before in here, but.
But now he’s on YouTube and he talks a lot about these sorts of issues you know what. What what is masculinity what is and what traits that are male, what’s femininity, what are women like, how do you make these relationships work, what’s important and one of the biggest things is that you just have to always communicate and it’s not easy and bloody hard.
A hard thing, right? Especially any time I’ve had problems with my family because, you know by now that my relationships with some of the members in my family, my sister my father in particular, we… like I love my my sister and my father but we have relatively tumultuous relationships, it’s up and down and we not necessarily have fights, but we argue, we have differing opinions quite often that lead to heated discussions that lead to sort of, you know, the ability if either of us wanted to sort of like get really angry at the other one or resent the other one because they don’t understand me blah blah blah and quite often it’s really difficult when you have to have sort of open, vulnerable conversations with people you love, right? Like it’s almost harder than with strangers.
True, I agree.
Yeah that’s been one of the biggest things that I’ve been trying to change actively this year at least is just and this was I think from Jordan Peterson specifically, but just telling the truth.
Which freaking sucks. Because quite often you avoid saying things to certain people because you’re worried that it’s going to set them off and it’s going to make them angry, it’s going to lead to an awkward conversation. It’s uncomfortable, but you know it’s the best thing to do and I think almost every single time, particularly with you and I, every time we’ve talked about something that’s been an issue or that’s stressing one of our ways leads to a better outcome.
Yeah and I think the truth thing it feels like it works against you. When you tell the truth is like… I am going to be vulnerable. I don’t know what this person is going to think about me and.
Maybe they’ll trow it back in my face.
And maybe I’m completely wrong. I’m just trying to argue about, over something that I think it’s right, maybe I’m wrong and I’ll be exposed. So, it’s really hard to get a point where you are absolutely comfortable and we are still working on it, I think because I… I think pregnancy is holding me back a little bit on this because I do get emotional and I take things personally when I shouldn’t because I know everything you tell me doesn’t come from a place of judgment or like it comes from a place of love and my hormones are just all over the place and sometimes I do get, you know, a bit more sensitive than I should but…
I try to understand as well, like I can’t say I understand what it’s like to have, I mean, I went through puberty obviously so, hormones would have been up and down during that time and I would have been stressed and moody and everything, but I can’t say that I understand what it’s like to be pregnant and to have your hormones going crazy and it seems like it’s a common thing though for women to be, you know, to become overly emotional about certain things. And so I have to appreciate that and understand that and try to be there, though it does frustrate me like, If I’m honest, and you know that, you can see it because my… the annoying thing is that I say, you know, what have I done? What can I do to fix it? and you’ll be like nothing and I’ll be like… I would rather that I really screwed up or done something wrong so, that I can fix it and everything’s okay, but if it’s hormones there’s nothing any of us can do.
Well, it’s easy for me to get resentful, I guess. Like, I can say ”oh it’s because you told me this and it hurts me”, but I’m I’ll be lying because it’s not… whatever it is you told me it’s not why it’s causing, what is causing me to be upset, what is causing me to be upset is I’m not feeling comfortable with myself or I don’t even know how to explain sometimes.
That is very hard to be honest about and to be vulnerable about. But yeah so, this year’s been good with working on that.
Yeah definitely, definitely good. I think I’ve taken, I’ve taken much more responsibility, personally, for me, with relationship, our relationship and work, when I was working and now, even now with Aussie English like I try to do as much as I can because I see it as our thing like, so it’s really…
Man, you’re as much a part of English as I am now. This is your… this is a boat for two.
It was a one-person canoe or one-man canoe before this and now it’s turned into a little dinghy, a little boat for two and a half, currently. But Kel’s being crushing it. You’ve been smashing out transcripts left, right and center, right?
I’m trying to.
Transcribing heaps and heaps, I keep putting up as much as I can the website that we use where it’ll transcribe it roughly and then Kel has to go in there and correct all of it and it’s a laborious task, it takes a while.
If can do anything to save your time too, you know, so you can focus on different things I feel happy to do whatever it is. So, I think yeah responsibility, definitely has been a big part of my year.
So, what’s coming for… in fact no, we should probably talk about Aussie English. Aussie English for 2018 has done relatively well. Relatively well, it’s done very well. Obviously, you guys know that I left my left, well, left, I finished my PhD in November last year, last year? We’re still in 2018, aren’t we? 2017 and then I just quit my job at the restaurant at the same time and I just did Aussie English full on and it’s growing slowly, slowly, slowly to the point now where obviously I can afford to support Kel and myself and hopefully our son, who we are going to call Noah, little Noah, and get this house and everything I mean we don’t have much left over, there is no Maserati sitting in the driveway, but hopefully we can keep growing it and the last few days I’ve been chatting to everyone in the Aussie English Classroom and trying to really get feedback and work out where we can go in 2019 because obviously it’s very easy to get set in your routine and just keep doing what you’re doing, which I have been doing for the last six months or so, when we’ve been moving around and doing all sorts of stuff, but now it’s time to sort of get back to it, try to reassess things objectively and be like ”what are people using? What aren’t they using? What do they like? What do they not like and how can I keep adding to it and building it more and more and more and more”‘ so, hopefully, guys, that’s the aim for 2019 and hopefully I can really improve things and just keep pumping up the content, especially with Kel doing the transcripts now.
And other things.
Exactly. She’s doing a lot more. She’s obviously on the podcast too, but hopefully we can just get a heap of more content out in the Aussie English Classroom after I assess all the feedback that you, guys, are currently giving me from the survey that I’ve created. So, I sent out a survey to all the members asking them for their feedback on 10 different questions and they’re in the midst of currently filling that out for me, I got about 21 responses so, thank you, guys! Yeah. Thank you, guys for everyone who has filled it out!
What about you, Kel, what’s on for 2019? What should we be aiming for? What’s the New Year’s resolution for you?
I think…obviously we are having a baby.
Yes, in June.
I hope so.
That’s kind of…it’s hard to think of anything apart from it because it takes all of you, right? Like I can’t imagine starting…well a small sort of project and helping you out with Aussie English and stuff and finish my course than I’m doing in Melbourne, but it is the major thing, the main thing in my life right now is to get ready for birth, to give birth and to take care of this baby and give, just do my best.
You won’t have a choice.
Neither will I.
So, yeah I think that’s the main thing. I want… as I said I want to finish my course in Melbourne, I want to apply for my partner visa so, I’ll be working on it as well.
That’s going to be intense. We have to fork out something like seven and a half grand, right? Seven and a half thousand dollars just to apply just to apply.
Just to apply, no guarantees.
Nothing changes after you get married. I was thinking I maybe get a little marriage discount or a pregnancy discount.
I wish there was, I wish there was a pregnancy discount, but no.
Just 90 percent please.
So, yeah I think I’ll be working on this family and yeah, I think my plan is to make things work for the baby and I can’t really say that I’ll be working like, I mean, I.
It’s work, that’s work.
I mean, trying to find a job away from home or things like that because I don’t really know how things will go with regards to giving birth and having a newborn at home.
The idea was to kind of not have you do that, right? At least because from the research that we’ve been doing, we find and we agree now that it’s very, very important for, particularly the mother, to be at home for the first year or two with the baby, right? As often as possible particularly for breastfeeding. You need to be doing that every day for as long as possible for the sake of the baby’s health. And obviously it’s a good thing that I’m at home, although I don’t know how that’s going to go with Aussie English, We’re going to have to like…
Work out some kind of schedule, obviously be a lot more stringent on those sort of rules. I won’t be able to sit on YouTube for an hour at lunchtime, fluff around. So, we’ll see how that goes.
So, that’s why I was a bit upset with…I mean, I wouldn’t say upset, but I had to have a serious conversation at school, that’s cool because I really want to be able to breastfeed for as long as I can, I mean, six months…
Tell that story, tell that story because there may be other people listening, obviously, who are going to go through the same thing in the future where they might be in Australia, they may have met an Australian and they might be planning to stay here, they might be pregnant, they may be at a school where they have to suddenly take time off. What did you have to do? Were you, you were pregnant before you started, but you didn’t tell them when you started, did you? I can’t remember.
No, because I started in November and I didn’t want to bring it up before the ultrasound we had so, I just wanted to make sure everything was fine. So, then when I was… you know, everything is fine, I went to talk to them and the thing is there is nothing, at least I couldn’t find and other the people, just there is nothing written online, not in the Government website or anything, determining how long you can be away from school. There it’s nothing really clear about it.
And your lawyer had sort of told you before beforehand, right? Giving you an idea. Oh you’ll get this amount of time off, but there was no set in stone this is the exactly amount
What I wanted was, I wanted to have something formal, right? Like that’s a document you can take to school and they’ll be like okay, you’re allowed to take time off because when you are on a student visa you are required to, you know, have a certain amount of hours at school.
You have to attend to a certain (?).
Yes, yes. So, I’m a VET student, vocational education course, training. I know it’s much harder if you are an English student because apparently you have to be there like 80 percent…
There are much more strict with attendance, right? Whereas currently you only go two days a week and you can do a lot of it online because the assessments are online, right?
So, what I heard was like ”oh yeah you easily get six months away” and.
”Should be okay!”.
That’s what upsets me so much! They’re all like…
That’s been the quote for this year ‘should be okay! Should be ok!” and it’s like I need to know if it is okay or if it is not okay, I don’t want you to tell me it should be ok. You’re just covering your own arse. So, then later whatever happens you will like ”Oh well I thought it was going to be ok”.
Literally. So, with that I went to school and I was like okay so, I need six months away and initially they were like ‘oh okay, it’s fine for you to stop in May, that’s when I graduate, by your Diploma starts in August, I think. So, I’m like… but I’m having a baby in June. So, how do you expect me to do that. They didn’t seem to know exactly what to do.
That fills you with confidence.
And I was like well… what should I do? I was just panicking and already planning okay, so I have to bottle feed him, bottle feed the baby and how am I going to do this and going all anxious about it.
And fortunately, I was saying, worst case scenario we’ll only have to bottle feed him two days a week at least it’s not every day and, you know, although pumping isn’t exactly the most fun, it’s an option.
Yeah. But in the end, I was able to talk to my agency and again Time to Travel, you guys are awesome!! Because they always help me, so just saying.
Yeah that’s what they’re called?
Yes, Time to Travel.
Ok, good plug, good plug.
So, the girl who spoke to me she was absolutely great. She was like ”you get six months. Don’t worry about your visa because as you’re applying for a partner visa next year, you don’t have to worry about finishing of course or not, because you’ll have a visa anyway”. I had the option of extending my student visa, which would be expensive anyway so, I’m already paying seven grand for a partner visa, I don’t want to spend anything else.
Seven and a half grand.
And I went to school again spoke with them and apparently everything’s fine, I’ll be able to…
Should be ok.
I’ll be able to stop in May, give birth and go back in November. That was the best deal I could get, but I’m really happy with it because I know some people only get two months sometimes. So, if you are pregnant and if you are on a student visa just make sure… I would suggest calling Immigration, even, just to… but the thing is, it depends on the school, the schools decides.
So, they set the rules?
Yeah, pretty much. But you may be able to get a… medical…
Certificate and if a doctor says you are allowed to get six months, if you value breastfeeding as much as I do, just you know, just say I’m taking this time off and they can’t refuse. You know, that’s your baby and just…. Just make sure you know…
Don’t be afraid to push back. Find out what your options are and do what’s best for you and the baby before you worry about being forced into attendance or whatever, but just find out what your options are.
And if you need to you know have a serious conversation with them and yet do it. It’s worth it, I guess. I mean I would be like okay I guess I’m only taking a few weeks, but then I was like you know, what? I’ll try something else. I’ll see what I can get.
That’s it, don’t just necessarily except that, ”oh we think you should only take a few. Oh okay.” No, no, no push back and get longer off if that’s important to you. So how have you found your English over the last year and a half? Since we’ve…I don’t know, we haven’t really had you on here talking about your improvement since, right? We’ve talked about when you first came to Australia with nothing and how you got to where you were when I first interviewed you. How do you think it’s gone the year following that? Have you ever noticed it improve at the same rate? Has it dropped off with regards to how quickly it was improving? Did you have a lot of time for studying? What did you do to study? So, you know, have at it, go for it.
It’s not as quick as it was because I’m not studying as much, like I used to have the whole day, I wasn’t working when I came to Australia so, I had pretty much the whole day to study and my focus was on learning English, then you know during this time, the three years that I’ve been here, I found jobs. I’ve been busy with other things so, yeah it’s definitely not going as quick as it should be going , but…
I think too, once you get to the advanced level that you’re at, you’re not going to get the same amount of returns. It’s not a linear improvement. It’s… what is it? Reverse exponential where it diminishes over time so, you know, you acquire that, what is it that? The 80 percent of the skill in 20 percent of the time required to get 200 percent or whatever.
And then in Canberra I was working with Brazilians, I was living with Brazilians, you wanted to improve your Portuguese so we were speaking…we’ve been speaking Portuguese since then.
I was pretty selfish with that. How have you found that, though?
I love helping you and I know… you might not recognize that, but I see your Portuguese, it’s just amazing how much you’ve improved, but it does….
I made her say that, guys, I forced her to.
It does affect my English to a certain extent because I don’t have many friends around here, I would say now.
You got family, my family and that’s about it, right? That’s when you obviously have to speak English because they don’t speak Portuguese so, you did notice it sort of drop off even in Canberra, right? When you’re working with Portuguese speakers, you were living with them. So, the majority of the time you were speaking Portuguese even having such an advanced level, you did notice it drop off and stop using it.
So, that’s something to take note of, guys, and just goes to show that even after you get to an advanced level you kind of need to put in amount a certain amount of maintenance, right? And use… does it get easier, though?
What do you mean?
With improving your English now? Now that you’re at the level you’re at or does it get harder because you have to put much more of a concerted effort in improvement?
I guess It is harder… for example, when I… make a lot of… like contractions, are still a big issue for me and…
I pointed this out to her the other day. She was saying… what were you saying? I If I can be….
You going or something.
Yeah you go somewhere or we go somewhere and I was like, no, we going, we going, and I was like ”do you mean we’re going or are you saying are we going, but you’re asking a question without saying ARE?” and you didn’t believe me and then you listened to the recording and you were like…. but it is funny because it is such a small mistake or small error in pronunciation that it’s just… most people aren’t going to correct you on that, they are going to feel like arseholes if they say ”well, actually, is we’re instead of we”… Fortunately I don’t mind telling her.
And I’m glad you do, but the thing is because it’s such a small thing, most people don’t say anything, I don’t notice that, I didn’t and until you said something, but and most people think because I have a good level of English that I don’t make mistakes and when I do they misunderstand what I say, like with would and should. I remember we had a we had a chat once about, cause I told you ”’oh you would do this” and you were like wow…
Because you’re telling me, you’re giving me an order, it felt like it, I was like…
It’s a subtle difference and I was like ok, so, I’m still learning and…
That’s what gets hard and I think that’s what happens with native speakers in any language, right? You don’t learn actively after a certain number of years or once you get to a certain level. It’s just repetition. You’re just absorbing material all the time and then eventually you start soaking up these things and you avoid doing these errors, right? Because …you’ve just been battered over the head with your language so much and I think that’s happening with me in Portuguese, but the funny thing I’ve noticed with Portuguese is that I feel like I have a very, very good level in very simple things that we constantly are talking about.
So, I don’t…I feel like I have to now make a really concerted effort to venture out into unknown territory with regards to my Portuguese. I need to start reading more. I need to start watching videos and movies on different topics because, although I can say ”what do you want to have for lunch? Do you want to clean the clothes? Can I do this for you? Are we going to go to mum and dad’s?” and I don’t have to think about it, as soon as we venture into different topics I have to start being like ”what is this word? What is this word?”.
But then you see like, I’ve been here for three years and I didn’t speak English when I came and I… still, I can’t really have a deep conversation about politics. So, it’s just one of those things like you don’t…we don’t talk about those things all the time or not often enough for you to build your vocabulary on this, so…
Well, I mean the point is I guess that just shows how much effort you still have to put in, right . Yeah right yeah. You can get really good at the simple stuff that you keep doing all the time, but if you don’t keep giving yourself new things, new problems to solve, new things to learn, you’re going to stagnate and you’re going to get good at the very things you were good at already or stay good at them, right? And it’s kind of like that perpetual comfortable zone.
Yeah, don’t get comfortable.
Yeah you need to get out of that and it’s difficult, it’s kind of like what we’re talking about with not lying and telling the truth. It’s this constant search for the edge of where comfortable is and to keep pushing outwards into the uncomfortable.
Yeah true. So, what’s the plan for 2019?
I think I’ve said it. Just keep growing Aussie English. Obviously, my biggest goal is just to get financially secure, right? So we increase the amount that we’re making through the website and through the products online, to the point where bills are paid for and I can put excess money that we’re making back into Aussie English and keep improving things.
But yeah, it’s just… you just have to keep going. The hardest thing about it is that there’s no sort of set path. I’m always telling you this and friends and family that it’s not like having a job where you go to work and your boss tells you what to do. One, I have to rely on myself for motivation and determination and discipline, but two, there’s no real… ”just do this and you’ll succeed”, you know, there is no… you don’t wake up in the morning and here are your orders and you’ll make a thousand dollars that week or whatever.
There’s no recipe.
Yeah. So that’s been the biggest thing I think with Aussie English and probably the reason that I was drawn to it and then I like it so much, this online business stuff, because there are no rules. I’m very creative. I’m kind of also sort of lazy with my time, I don’t really like sticking to people’s you need to work from 9:00 to 5:00. I’m much more like I’ll do a little bit now, go for a run or go for a walk, not go for a run. I’ll take some photos of some birds, come back a little bit more. Oh, it’s 1am, might do a bit more than bed so, that suits me a lot more, but it is a bit more… I guess isolating? A little bit. You don’t really have a whole bunch of people that you can kind of a whinge to about your boss and, you know…
Well, yeah I think the hardest part of your job, from my perspective is the creativity thing? I’m much more the kind of person who likes having… working from 9 to 5 having a boss and be like ”I’m done”, going home. I don’t have to think about it, but obviously it would kill you because you’re so active and you’re so creative.
I guess it would depend on the work, but yeah.
But I think it’s growing, it’s getting there.
I think, to finish up, big thank you to all you, guys, and you know for supporting the podcast for…I don’t know what it’s been now, three years? I think I started in 2015 so, three years going on four years. Without you guys it’s nothing, I wouldn’t be here, I wouldn’t be having a baby, I wouldn’t have met Kel, I wouldn’t be living… I’d probably be in Iceland living in an igloo by myself, but I think too, guys, let me know what you think with regards to the podcast.
What do you like and what don’t you like? So, if you see this, if you’re listening to this episode rather, send me an e-mail, ok? email@example.com you’ll probably get an email when this episode comes out and we’ll try to do it soon so it can come out around New Year’s Eve, but when you listen to this, take a moment to think about Aussie English, what you enjoy and maybe give me some feedback.
I’m always open to hearing. I’m always open to hearing from you, guys, about what I can do to improve and I need to constantly remind myself to ask you, guys, to sort of keep my finger on the pulse and know what you want and where to move Aussie English, you know, which way to face it. So, send me an e-mail if you have time, even if it’s just to say thanks or maybe say go away.
That’s it, but thanks Kel for joining me today.
It’s been a pleasure. I’m looking forward to 2019.
Yeah me too. Let’s do it.
Happy New Year, guys. See ya!
Get complete access to the IELTs course as it’s released!
Join the The Aussie English Classroom for $1!
Get complete access to the IELTs course as it’s released!
Join the The Aussie English Classroom for $1!
IELTs – Lesson 4: Travelling & Holidays
G’day, guys! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. Today we’re going to be doing another IELTS lesson where we talk about our travels. So, how you can obviously talk about going around the world, you often gonna get this sort of a question, you know, have you’ve been overseas? Have you traveled much? Have you studied abroad?
Definitely, it’s a very common topic.
Yeah. Did you get that in your IELTS at all?
It’s hard for me like if you are anything similar to me, like I didn’t have the chance to travel my friend was a child with my parents and my family so, all my experiences are very recent.
So it would have been a little limited if they said, ”oh where have you been before?”.
Definitely. Or like, ”oh tell me about holiday spend with your family” I’d be like…. I would struggle to make it up on the spot, just like being creative, it’s just hard so I’m really glad I did get this topic… It is not that it’s hard to talk about, it’s hard for me because, you know, I started travelling, not that I’ve done much, but I started when I was already an adult and yeah mostly in Australia so…
Well, that’s sort of my case as well. Anyway, I guess the basic idea here will be we’ll have this video first where Kel and I will just have a casual, natural discussion about our history travelling around, where we’ve been, maybe what we would like to see in the future as well and then the second video we’ll go through the different vocab that we’ve got here in case we miss anything in this video.
So, to open it up, Kel. Which countries have you been to in the past?
That’s when it gets hard for me because I honestly left Brazil, I didn’t travel…I travelled around Brazil, I went to a couple cities in the South and in the North as well, but I wish I had done some travelling in South America.
Why is that?
Because, you know, it’s already there, it tends to be you know cheap, as opposed to travelling to Europe, for example or the USA, it would be much more expensive.
Because those countries are just next door. You just have to cross the border and you’re in Colombia or a completely different country.
Argentina I’d love to go, but unfortunately I didn’t have the chance. But then I came to Australia and here I’ve seen, you know, I’ve been to Sydney, I’ve been to Canberra, we lived there for six months.
And to me you were in Queensland for a long time and that’s sort of a ideal picturesque holiday destination in Australia, everyone goes to Queensland. Queensland, Cairns, Townsville, Brisbane, all the warm weather is up there the beautiful beaches. When you were living there, did you travel around much like a tourist or were you mainly into one place?
I I’ve been to Cairns for a holiday. I’ve been to Mackay, also in a holiday. I’ve been around Townsville so, you have like those like little towns and villages they have like a waterfalls and things like that. So, yeah a few creeks there we would go and just, you know, spend the day at and have fun. Yeah it’s great to be in Queensland because everywhere you go is like a paradise so, not that I don’t like Victoria, but it’s just easier I guess, because it’s always summer and yeah it is where everyone goes to when people are on holidays. That places are very tourist so, it’s really…
You can probably say that, yeah touristic, I guess you would say probably just there are a lot of tourist attractions in those locations and almost a bit of a tourist trap right at times where we have a lot of people, especially places like Castle Hill.
Castle Hill. Yeah, Townsville… Well, I wouldn’t say that Townsville is a tourist trap because…
There’s not a lot of tourists.
Well, we do but there is so much to see, still… but at the same time it’s a tiny little city so, I’m not expecting to see you know… do a lot of sightseeing or visit like museums or other things you might be frustrated, it’s really the place you go to if you wanna, you know, spend a day on the beach and and that’s it.
And relax. So, did you book any trips whilst you were there, did you go to I think it’s Maggie Island, Magnetic Island.
Maggie island is like I think 25 minutes by ferry and there’s accommodation there, like hostels and even like….what do you call it when you just camp?
Yeah. It’s great to spend the day there, there’s a few bays you can swim, restaurants, you can go hiking. There are lots of things to do. So, there was honestly, that was my favorite sort of… if I had to choose a perfect holiday, that’d be let’s go to Maggie Island, spend a whole weeked just relaxing and I’m not a big fan of, you know, sand and beaches, but it’s just so beautiful and there’s so much to see! You can go diving.
Scuba diving you can… yeah just great, a lot of things.
Are there any places you would have liked to have gone on when you were in Queensland because you’re obviously now down to Victoria, were there any tourist attractions or any sites that you wish you’d see that you never got the chance to?
Definitely the Great Barrier Reef, I’ve been to the Great Barrier Reef when I was in Orpheus Island, but it’s not the reef you see on TV, right? Like the big massive thing there you can just take photos of and, you know, paradise. It’s a very small portion of the reef the island is beautiful, but I was working there so, it wasn’t really a holiday so, definitely if have the chance to go back I want to go the Great Barrier Reef. It’s beautiful.
And are there any other places that you would like to visit whether it’s in Australia or overseas in the future?
I would love to go to Europe. Like, now my best friend lives in France… I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, just romantic and I can’t imagine like walking around Paris at night must be beautiful, all the lights and Greece as well, because of the history, the historical importance of the place. If I had to go tomorrow I think Paris and Greece would be my two favorite places, what about you? I know you want to go to Brazil.
Yeah, I’d like to go to Brazil. I don’t know where to start, where I would start because Brazil is such a big country with so much to see.
Start from the North.
Obviously yeah you’d start North, maybe go South. It’s one of those things, though, I think for me I get worried in countries like South America, countries in South America with regards to safety, but I’m sure once you get there you become aware and you get to know…
That’s a downside, I would say, of going to Brazil, you do have to be aware of, you know, the violence and things you can’t do, like things that Australians take for granted. Like walking around with phones and stuff, but it depends where you are a lot like, some places are more dangerous, you have really, you know, dangerous place, you don’t go there, but mostly it’s just fine.
Growing up in Australia my parents would take us away each summer we would go camping so, we would have those kinds of travelling holidays where you would go on short trips locally to places that are nearby like the Grampians or Willson’s Prom. I remember being in grade 6 and we went to Rockhampton in Queensland up North and that was my first experience with, I guess, the Great Barrier Reef and you know taking chartered flights out to different islands, getting on boats seeing a bit, I didn’t think we…I don’t think we went scuba diving or anything, but we went snorkeling in some places and then I’ve been to, I went to France when I was in high school for a month and travelled around France and was practicing French, that was cool and then when I was doing my PhD, I went to I went to…
Yeah, Indonesia, Sulawesi, where tsunami recently was. Sulawesi studying in the jungles there looking for rats and other animals for my supervisor.
Did you have time to go sightseeing was just like working?
It was pretty much I was just following my supervisor where he was taking us. So, we had to go to different towns and then hire someone to drive us to the next town. We had to make camps with all of the gear there and then we had to do different things in the jungle for the scientific studies, but I would love to travel a lot more in the future, I’d love to go to Europe.
I’d love to go to Europe, I think. Still, you know, you again talking about safety, but it’s still one of those places, you know, if you have the chance, go. My friend is just amazed how beautiful France is and I just can’t… Hopefully you can do it together with the baby and things. Do you think Australians tend to… like I know camping a big thing here for you guys, but do you go a lot for travel agents or it’s just like let’s improvise and get the family together and do it?
I think if people organise flights somewhere and they’re wanting to spend like a week somewhere, they’ll usually do it, especially if it’s far away and if they’re lazy they can’t be bothered booking places on their own, like they don’t want to book the flights, they don’t want to book the hotel, they don’t want to book the chartered flights, the buses, the boats, whatever it is, they are going through a travel agent so, that that person can organise it and you just have to be in certain locations at certain times, you know, whether you go on guided tours or you’re going to your hotel or you just have to be like ”okay I need to be here by 10 o’clock.”. But if you’re going overseas they will. So, if you’re organising a holiday in Bali or to Thailand, you know, Australians will tend to go to those sorts of places in Southeast Asia for short holidays. So, kind of like summer holidays that they’ll go on locally, in this region of the world.
It’s cheap as well, I heard.
It’s relatively cheap, but if we’re goingo to other countries like France, Brazil, that sort of stuff people tend to go though news… news agencies, I mean, flight agencies, travel agents, travel agents and they all tend to get them to book everything for them.
I think it’s much easier nowadays, you know, with everything’s online you can… thank your parents went to Europe, did they do it by themselves?
I’m not 100 percent sure.
All the bookings and things.
I think they probably would have organised it themselves because they’re pretty savvy when it comes to organising those things and they probably know how to save money now.
So, yeah I think he also depends on how adventurous you are. Like, if you go to Brazil by yourself or like, you know, a small group of people, doesn’t want any help from my travel agent. Good luck. It happens. I would be much more comfortable, especially going overseas, if I had someone helping me, you know, like that’s where you can stay at, that’s what you’re going to do…
Far out, so, I guess this would be a bit of a short one, guys, but the basic stuff that I would focus on when replying to these sorts of questions, if people are asking you about these things with travelling, ”have you done it in the past? Are you interested in it now? Are you thinking about it in the future?” I would think about those different tenses so, I would quite often try and talk about it…”what did I do when I was young?” ”What have I done…” as in when we talk about experiences we would use the present perfect. I have been to France, I have been to Brazil, sort of like I may go again, but if you talk about a time in the past like when I was young, I went to Brazil, you would use the past simple. So, I would play around with tenses like that so, I would practice talking about what I did when I was young and what I have done as experience, what I would like to do in the future and that would be a great way of showing off the different tenses that you can use in English. you obviously try and use connected words, you know, like ”well I did this and I thought this was good, however this happened, oh and moreover this was really good” so, try and link things together and don’t be afraid if you breaks sentences up, you don’t finish your train of thought or you change where you’re going. Quite often if you can keep just talking it shows a good level in English.
And again like if you have to make up things on the spot, just try to be calm and remember the vocabulary because the vocabulary related to travelling and holidays is quite specific so, there’s a lot of things you can learn like in chunks.
Learn the collocations.
The collocations and I’m sure it helps a lot. It’s one of the most common topics on IELTS to be honest, it’s not difficult to talk about it and most people, even if you haven’t done a lot of travelling like me, it’s easy to talk about holiday, like a weekend you spent with your family somewhere or like ”we used to going see my extended family somewhere else” so, you know, there’s always a way to answer their question properly.
I would just keep going and if you do make it up, just be, I guess, try I would probably have a plan that I practice, right? If I’m going to, if I’m thinking about the lies or making stuff up on the spot, I would try to avoid just doing it in the moment because you’ll be like…..
f you have an idea of, you know, just make up Africa is somewhere I want to go because I like safaris, wildlife safaris, rhinos are my favourite animal. None of that is true, but just happens that some sort of back up plan if you do get caught out.
Just keep talking.
Anyway, good job, guys! We will see you in the next video in the Aussie English classroom if you’re not there already, where we’re going to now talk about all the different vocabulary that we used in the last video and that we may have also missed in that video. So a few extra words in there. We’ll see you there!
Get complete access to the IELTs course as it’s released!
Join the The Aussie English Classroom for $1!
AE 518: An Aussie Christmas with Kel and Pete
G’day, Kel! Welcome to this episode of Aussie English. So, today we’re going to be talking about a bit of Aussie culture. Aussie culture. We’re going to be talking about Christmas! Or Xmas, as we sometimes call it.
Well, I don’t know why I think it’s cross, right? Chris, on a cross, Xmas. it’s called Xmas for people who aren’t really Christian like very very religious they tend to refer to it as Xmas.
Never heard that.
I would usually just call it Christmas, but sometimes I’d write it, when I’m writing quickly I write Xmas, Xmas Xmas Xmas. So, thought we could talk a bit about, I don’t know, what Christmas was like for each of us growing up, obviously with a focus on me and Australia, but also to hear about your experiences with Christmas growing up because, you know, it’s one of those things I grew up doing a certain, you know, having a certain set of customs and rituals that we do each year and I think everyone else does them everywhere else in the world, just the same as I do.
Yeah, I thought the same.
What questions do you have for me the start us off?
I don’t know. Was the same, every year the same for you? Christmas, or it was something you would be looking forward to as a child and be all excited about, or it was like oh… my God, family gatherings…
Think that happened a little later, when I was a little kid I used to love Christmas because you always got presents, right? So, to sort of run you through how it’s, how it usually occurred for me growing up when I was a little kid, my earliest memories of Christmas were…we would have in Australia so, Christmas Eve, the night before Christmas Day, that’s the 24th of December. Then we have Christmas Day, which is the 25th and then we have Boxing Day, which is the 26th and so, Christmas Eve we would usually celebrate with some of my dad’s family, because we’re just the two families, my mom and my dad’s families, would never get together, it would always be you see one then you see the other.
So, on Christmas Eve I would see his family, we would exchange presents, we would usually have a more versatile dinner so, it could be anything, really, with them. Someone would bring you know chips and dips and little things to eat, but it would be at my auntie’s house and she would usually cook something, but it wouldn’t be the same thing every year. So, she just cooked some kind of meal like, you know, maybe a salad, maybe they’d be cold meats, like ham and salami to put in rolls or could be anything.
So, we would do that on Christmas Eve and then we would usually exchange presents with them because we weren’t going to see them on Christmas Day so, we would usually sit down after dinner and then each family would give everyone else in the other family a present or two each, and they were you know, just wrapped up, might have a ribbon on it, might have just wrapping paper with sticky tape on it with a card on it saying, you know, Merry Christmas, Dave. And then they open the present oh, I got Lego! Uhuh! you know, depending on who it was or it could be a voucher or clothes could be anything, but then on Christmas Eve we would usually be, me and my sister, would usually be incredibly excited because we would go home knowing that Santa was coming that night, right? So, we would be like I can’t wait to get home! Got to sleep!
Did you actually believe in Santa?
What are you talking about, Kel? What do you mean believe? Santa is real, Kel.
Well, of course! Yeah. What else are you going to believe, right? You get told this by your parents and why would you not? You go to sleep, you wake up the next day and there’s all these gifts under the tree.
Yeah, definitely, the evidence.
That weren’t there the day before… So, yeah. I would go to sleep with my sister in the same room or in separate rooms as we got older and we would always be like…”can’t sleep, I can’t sleep! What if Santa comes while we are wake? Oh my Gosh!” . You know, we’d be like “try and listen and hear if we hear his reindeer and his sled land on the roof” and I remember too thinking ”Mum Dad we don’t have a chimney, how does he get in the house?”
Oh that’s so cute!
And mum’s like… we leave the door open, don’t worry, him can get in. And so we would go to sleep thinking that he was coming and he would put the presents under the Christmas tree so, we would have a Christmas tree set up, usually a plastic one. Some people would buy small pine trees that you can like real trees and you’d hang decorations on them like Christmas balls and bells and angels and, you know, gingerbread man, candy canes, holy reindeer, snowmen, everything to do with Christmas on these trees and the presents would usually go under the tree that people had bought one another and then Santa would usually leave our presence in a special sack. So, Mum and Dad had like pillow cases with our names on them and they would be under the tree empty on the night.
For Santa to put the gifts inside.
On the 24, yeah and then the next day we would wake up and we would like, you know, before anything we’d run out and have a look at the tree and look underneath and be like Oh my Gosh! The sacks are full of presents!!!!
This is so cute!
And we were patient, we’d have to go in and wake mum and dad up and be like…
So you couldn’t open the presents before….
No, they had to be there. They had to be there. Yeah. We’d have to go… and it would be so annoying cause sometimes you wake up and it would be like 5am and you’d be like It’s time! It’s time! you know, the sun is not up, but it’s time! And Mum and Dad go back to bed. Yeah because it was so early, they’d be like going to sleep for another hour or two and then we’ll wake up and do it and I’ll be like noooo we have to wait so long to see the presents!
So, what would you usually get? Like, what was like…cars?
Oh yes, so toy cars. I remember Lego used to be something I always wanted! So, we would wake up my parents, they’d come out and they would usually sit on the sofa and we would sit on the ground, Annika and I, my sister and I, in front of the tree and each have our sacks and be pulling the presents out and comparing sizes and being like ”she got more than me! Santa!” or ”she got a bigger one than me or I got a smaller” oh ‘what is this? It’s the shape of a CD or a DVD”.
You know, so you’d be trying to guess what it was. I remember always shaking it hoping that you would hear that jingle of Lego pieces. So, you shake the box and you’ll be like…is it going to be a lot of little pieces? and then you like yeaaah cause you can normally tell the difference between a puzzle or Lego or a DVD or something. And you know the box sort of shape of Lego as well, right? So, yeah I used to get Lego, you’d get all sorts of toys like, water guns, robots, stuffed toys, could be anything.
So, you would get more than one present?.
Yeah, they’d usually…not necessarily spoil us. I remember the presents were never ridiculously expensive. My parents were never really well-off. They were in a similar position that you and I are today when I was very young, maybe a little bit better off, but I think also they never wanted to spoil us, so they would never be like, you know, hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of toys. And I think too because they knew that you’re not going to be playing with that toy for that long, right? You’ll play for it for a few weeks,max, maximum and then you cast it aside and be asking for the next toy and so, they were like well…
What’s the point?
And Lego, far out, that get expensive. You look at some of those huge things and it’s like hundreds of dollars.
So, that used to be it, we would get out in the morning, wake the parents up, go through the presents and then, you know, be like oh man, Santa! What a bad ass! So awesome! Thank you, Santa! Oh, he didn’t give us coal! you know?So there’s the stereotype in or the story, I guess, in Western culture that Santa, he knows who’s been good and who’s bad and you as a child have to be good in order to get presents, if you’re bad, you get coal, right? Like burned wood. He’ll leave you some coal.
Yeah. So there’s always that song, right? “He knows if you’ve been naughty he knows if you’ve been good”, whatever it is, but would, you would your parents put like coal l inside the bag just like oh… that’s because I did this thing…
No, I think that would be like child abuse.
No, I mean, you would get presents but just one piece of coal, just like oh yeah I remember.
I think they probably would have done that if we had had a an open fire at the house where they could have readily access, had access to coal. Maybe, but that never happened though.
I didn’t know this thing.
But we would also leave out, before we went to sleep on the 24th, we used to leave out food and milk for Santa. So, that would, that would be something we would do too, where our snacks were or the Christmas stockings are. Some people buy stockings, like these huge kind of like sock, kind of things for you to put presents in, you quite often in Western culture in America, in Britain, in Australia probably other parts of Europe as well, kids will put food and drink for Santa, because he’s obviously tired, right? After going to what three billion kids homes. So, we would leave milk in a glass and often biscuits that we’d made or something for Santa to eat.
So, in the morning the food would be gone?
It would always be half eaten, my parents would always come and just like take a sip of the milk and probably a few bites of biscuits or the carrot or whatever that was there.
It’s just so cute!
And be like “look! Santa’s eaten some of the stuff! Obviously he liked it and kept going on his way” and we’d always, you know, joke around like oh that’s why Santa’s so fat! He was always getting treats! Poor Santa with his diabetes from all the biscuits and milk.
Just leave him a beer, man. Next time, there you go, Santa.
So, that would be Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and then for Christmas Day we would usually go to my grandmother and grandfather’s house on my mother’s side so, my mother’s family and her parents and that was always much bigger than what I did with my dad’s family because part of his family lives overseas so, it would be a small thing with with his family, with my mum’s family on the other hand we’ve got bigger and bigger as we got older because of her siblings all having children. So, it used to be used, it used to be wild, like we would go to their place in Melbourne so, we’d have to drive for like an hour and a half and then they would have morning tea. So, like shortbread, tea, coffee whatever drinks you want and you sort of wait for everyone to arrive to the party. And then there was a sort of very regimented and strict lunch, it was pretty much the same every single year so, my grandmother would organise a very traditional roast, which was usually turkey and lamb. They would have a turkey and lamb roast beef and they would have their vegetables, the sort of traditional roast and veggies so, you would have things like pumpkin, potato, green beans and I think it would usually be those three and then maybe some salad and she would have other people in the family bring other food too, so someone would bring things like chips, like lollies and.
Chocolates. Yeah, someone will have to bring the rum butter, a special kind of like sweet butter with rum in it.
Yeah, I think I’ve tried it, with cake or something.
Yeah, exactly. And so, we would eat, we’d go through all these courses, you have the first course, which is a little entree with salad, the main course with all the meats, the meatballs, the veggies like potato, pumpkin and she would have peaches, that was a very strange thing I remember always, they always had these like canned fruit peaches that you can have with your dinner. And then dessert would usually be mouse, ice cream, and then the Christmas pudding, the special Christmas pudding, which was a… I think a plum pudding? So very, very it’s like a fruit cake that’s been boiled, a plum pudding that’s been boiled and she would usually pour brandy on it, liqueur, and then light it on fire as they brought it out, right? So, this cake would usually enter the room on fire.
And there was just normal from me, like, everyone does that, right?
I’ve never seen it. I mean we went…I think two weeks ago we went to see your grandparents?
The year before for some reason they failed and they couldn’t light it. I remember. Then last time they just skipped it. The lighting it on fire. And my grandmother does a very strange thing where she puts old Australian currency into the cake, right? So, she takes coins from before 1966, that was in circulation then, but like I think like a threepence and a penny and that kind of old money and she puts that into the cake and if you find certain currency, certain valued coins in there, in your piece of cake, she’ll exchange it for a dollar or two dollars or ten cents or something.
I think I got two dollars or something last time?
Yeah, you got two bucks this year. Yeah. So, that was always, that was my Christmas, and again gift with them we would usually exchange gifts amongst everyone in all the different family members before lunch so, everyone would sit down in the living room in sort of like a big circle with like 20 25 of us and then each family would take turns in handing out gifts to all the people in the different families and it would be anything from like wine or food or jam, like food that people had made or it could be usually toys and small gifts and Barbie dolls that sort of stuff for children.
More interesting things for them to play with, Nerf guns, water pistols. Yeah. So, that was, that was really Christmas for me and then Boxing Day was usually just, the 26th, was usually just a day to rest and chill out. That’s when the Boxing Day sales begin in stores in Western countries so, that’s usually the all of those big commercial stores like Myers, JB HIFI, all of those places that you buy gifts from before Christmas, usually have massive sales when they sell things for like 50 per cent off on Boxing Day and so, there tends to be a whole bunch of crazy capitalism going on as well.
I have experienced that in Townsville, it was great, everything just like half price stuff, yeah, great.
One more thing to add. The interesting thing about Australian Christmas is that it’s during summer and the weird thing for me growing up was… and I never even really thought about this until I got older… that all of the trinkets and decorations and things related to Christmas that you buy, are all winter related.
Yeah, snow and..
You know, like the stocking, snow, snowmen angels, all of these like the decorations on them pine trees, the pine trees, which are from the North, right? You know, pine needles, all of this stuff was always winter related because it comes from Europe and western, western Europe and like the US so, that was always funny for me because we would have Christmas where it’s probably could be anywhere between 30 to 40 degrees and it hasn’t snowed for four months anywhere in Australia and you will go down to the beach and like, you know, play cricket on the beach, go for a swim here and that would usually be our sort of Christmas afternoon so, enjoying the sun so, it’s a bit strange.
It’s the same for me, always hot so, I never really had this like stereotypical Christmas when you have snow and you go outside to play with the snow and things. It doesn’t make sense to me.
Yeah well, I always thought, why are we playing with snowmen? And it’s like… we don’t…
We don’t have it!
We don’t have snow, exactly! Why is Santa dressed in such warm gear? And so, that would be the stereotype those jokes on TV and stuff we’re Santa is wearing shorts and a singlet or something at the beach.
Same in Brazil.
So, what was it like for you growing up then Kel, in Brazil, compared to the sort of Western Australian, British and American Christmas, what was it like for you in Brazil?
It’s a bit different, I would say, it was…was something I would be looking forward to during the year as a child just like Yeah, Christmas! Not so much because of the presents I would get, but because of the food.
Oh really? So, you’re sort of the opposite of me, I’d always be like presents first and then like ah, do we have to eat?
I think it depends on your financial situation in Brazil, it depends a lot on it. So, if you… if your parents have more money or your family has more money you may have a bigger party, but my family is quite big and we didn’t have a lot so, it was this one time of the year there we would do something really big and it was amazing. So, yeah I would be all excited about it, but the thing is we celebrate it differently like we…our party happens on the 24th.
Yeah. I remember you telling me this and being like, what do you mean it happens on Christmas Eve? You celebrate Christmas Eve more than Christmas Day?
We spend the whole day, Christmas Eve, cooking, preparing the house, cleaning and then we get ready, like usually you have new clothes, and you stay awake until midnight, that’s when you have dinner with your family and you open presents.
Yeah. So, I would be so excited because I didn’t really have rules in my house like children go to bed at 8p.m, but it’s hard for a child to be awake, you know, until really late, so I would…that would be one of the very rare occasions when my sister and I would be awake until midnight or 1a.m.
See, for us that would be New Year’s Eve that we were like oh we get to stay up late. Christmas Eve would never be one where we could stay up to midnight. And I think mainly because our parents wouldn’t stay up that long, right? Because they’re in bed by whatever time so, we would be in bed before then. Specially as little kids, whereas for New Year’s, New Year’s Eve, they would be up all night. So, of course we were more able to stay up late on those sorts of days.
So, for us yeah we would stay awake until like midnight, 1:00a.m. and then at midnight to have fireworks and, you know, you say Merry Christmas and you hug and you exchange presents and you have food.
Did you have that thing with Santa, though, too? Are you waiting for Santa to come? Some people do, but honestly, I’ve never had this thing in my house. Mum would never, like my family just would never be like Santa Claus is coming… we didn’t, I don’t ever remember thinking about it. Like, oh yeah he’s coming. No. I knew my mum would get the presents and it was like… listening to you explaining how exciting it was, I kind of feel like I wish I had had it, you know, so magical and like I can’t imagine be so excited about something. I was excited, but you know, just thinking ”oh is he going to give me a lot of presents?”. I already knew it was my mum or my grandmother.
I think is one of those things you snap out of it pretty, pretty quickly and you realise that I think for me I discovered when I walked into my parents room one day and they had the receipt for all the gifts on the wall.
I was like, mum how come the receipt here is like literally all the gifts that I got for Christmas?
What did she say?
”We bought them for Santa. So, that he could give them to you” and I’m pretty much walked out like ”Annika, Santa is not real!”.
No way. That’s so funny. I never had this moment. Like, I always knew it was mum or dad or someone so, I didn’t have….I was excited about what I would get, but not because of Santa like it was just like I know Grandma it’s probably going to give me something, so…
Looking back on it, though, I think… how did we not think Mum, Dad why haven’t you given us any presents? Santa gave us all this stuff, you gave us nothing!
Can Santa be my dad?
Yeah so, then we would have dinner with the family and there was a really, you know, massive sort of dinner, we would have like…my family doesn’t like turkey, is very popular in Brazil, but we never really liked it so, we’d have this big chicken, full of chemicals or whatever, but yeah really a massive chicken.
Been given steroids, had it?
It’s like first of December, something happens all the chickens are massive! I’m like ok… So, a lot of rice with raisins. All the other things are in Portuguese so, I know I’m not quite sure.
How to translate them.
How to translate them, but yeah.
So very traditional food then?
Very traditional food, lasagne…
Well yeah…brigadeiro, things like that we would have for Christmas.
This chocolate desserts.
Yeah there was it. And then we would eat and go to bed.
So, was it a very religious event for your? Or celebration too, we should talk about that.
Some people, not for me personally, my family… we would watch the, what do you call it, mass?
I was thinking Mars, the planet.
With the Pope?
With the Pope and everything.
Because obviously you guys are catholic.
Yea but I remember grandma going to church, but I wouldn’t, it was just like ah, whatever, you know?
It was the same for me.
But some people really follow like the traditional, they go to church and the mass finishes before midnight so, you have time to go home, you know, have dinner.
Wow, goes that late, though? Holly Molly.
It’s quite late, but IT has to finish before like 11:00, I would say.
So that the family can celebrate.
So, in Australia, I guess, is a Christian holiday, right? It’s about the birth of Jesus and, you know, celebrating new life, everything like that, but I think the average person in Australia isn’t very religious. They will probably… the average person’s probably atheist, right? At least not actively practicing a religion. So, if anything they’re sort of Christian through their family, but they don’t go to church and they don’t actively pray and that sort of stuff. So, for us it’s still the holidays kind of now detached from Christianity and going to church and practising it like that. We never did that growing up, but my mum and her family were Christian when she was young or at least her family still is, she’s not anymore, but they would go to church and they still do. So, they still go to church on Christmas Day and I think it’s the morning service on Christmas Day that they go to so, we always have to arrive after they’ve gone to church and that’s usually I think, that usually starts at like 9:00 or 10:00 in the morning and finishes after an hour or two.
Yeah. So, it is a Christian holiday, but it’s not just for Christians to celebrate. That’s, that’s the point I’m trying to get at. In America, in Australia, in many parts of Europe, Christian countries have this celebration, but everyone takes part, whether you’re Christian or not so.
Same in Brazil.
So yeah. So it’s not weird to meet people who are Indian or people who are from the Middle East or from Africa living in Australia and still celebrating Christmas with the rest of us, because you don’t have to be a Christian to still, you know, want to get a Christmas tree, put decorations on it, buy presents for people say thank you to everyone and kind of just celebrate being a big community and what you’ve got.
Well, it is it is a family sort of thing in Brazil and it’s very, you know, related to religion, although my family is not extremely religious, but yeah my grandma would go to church, if I’m not mistaken, but then yeah, some people do, some people don’t. So yeah. So that was my 24th and then on the next day, the 25th, we would just eat the leftovers, for lunch and for dinner, and if there was anything else where we would eat the next day.
How much did you cook?
Oh man. You have no idea. We literally cook for like four or five days because everyone is so tired after that.
It makes sense.
My poor mum, she would cook the whole thing by herself. And, you know, that’s when my sister and I would get involved. We would help her with things like cakes and stuff just being so curious around the kitchen and that was really exciting. And she would give as like oh you make the brigadeiros or you make this cake and things. So, the very few things I know how to cook, are because you know my mum doing Christmas cooking around the house and me watching and helping her. So, yeah and I think that’s when it differs from your celebration in Australia because we don’t have like…some people do have Christmas lunch on the 25th, but the main thing is the midnight thing on the 24th.
That’s the main party when everyone gets together, we open presents and everything. The next day is like some people get together. Some people don’t and we don’t have Boxing Day. So, all the sales and things would be before Christmas, before the 24th because you need to buy presents for people to open on the 24th. So, if you want to buy cheap stuff it has to be before Christmas, we don’t have Boxing Day, I’m quite sure it’s a holiday. And then that’s it and then we start a for a New Year’s Eve and yeah…pretty much. You were mentioning the presents you would get. I’d get one present. One, like, it would be a toy or it would be new clothes or new shoes or, you know…
Something useful too that you kinda needed.
Definitely. My mum and my grandmother would just like put a little bit of money into something a bit better, like I’m gonna get you a new dress.
So, it was a much more practical sort of present.
Yeah. I would get toys from my dad because he wasn’t living with me so, he was like oh I’ll visit you, he would come over, drop a few, like one present for me, one present for my sister and that was it, but my, the family I was living with, my mum my grandma, my aunts, they would give me useful sort of things like shoes, clothes or whatever.
I remember too, when we used to go through this stage on Christmas Day all the kids in the neighbourhood used to leave the house after they’d gotten the gifts, right? In the morning and you would see all these children playing in the street with new toys. So there’d be kids with like electric race cars, new skateboard, maybe a kite, always playing and especially if you knew the kids quite often you would be like taking turns
What did you get?
Yeah. What did you get for Christmas? Wow, that’s awesome. Can I have a go? Can I try your new skateboard? And so, that was always really fun. Oh and we used to have, on the 24th, Santa would come around on the fire engine and so, we were showing you this recently. So, the fire brigade , he CFA, I forgot what that stands for, the CFA in Australia is the fire brigade, the people who sent out when there’s a fire and often they would pay…they would fund themselves, they’d buy little bags of candy or lollies, as we call them in Australia, lolly bags and Santa, someone dressed up as Santa, would usually be on the top of one of these red and white fire engines and that would drive around the streets playing Christmas music, Christmas Carols and hand out the lolly bags to children. And so that used to happen as well, you would hear the music in the background on the 24th and be like ‘Santa is nearby, where is he?’ and, you know, you walk out in the street and he’s waving on the back of a truck and you’d be like ”yeah, lollies!!” and he’d walk out and just give you some lollies and be like HO HO HO.
I’m sure we have that, I remember that in my city, but Santa doesn’t drive around, you know, he is somewhere sitting down in his chair and you go to him, you take photos and then he might give you a lollipop or something.
Well, we have those at the moment set up in like malls. So, we saw it today. If you go to malls anywhere nearby, you’ll often see this big chair with Santa on it and you can get photos, that’s usually for children to get photos with Santa. So, that’s something else, but I guess sort of finishing up if you guys want to celebrate Christmas in Australia, the good thing is there is no one way of doing it. You can make it as big or as small as you want, but probably the biggest things, I would say, is just get a Christmas tree. However you sort of want to get it like a real tree, a plastic tree, it could be a gumtree that you bought, a small one, you can have whatever you want, but the spirit, the idea there is just to have some kind of tree and then to put decorations on it and again you can sort of make whatever you want. I remember my parents and my grandparents when we were growing up used to get us to sort of do creative art and make things out of native plants, like gumtrees, we’d use the gum nuts and like other things and glue them on to like horse shoes or something and put them on the tree so you can make your own gifts and do that with the kids and be involved and I guess the biggest thing is just share presence with those people that are important to you on Christmas day, whether it’s food, something you’ve cooked, something you’ve made.
That something I really like about Australia. I don’t think we have the same sort of tradition, not so strong in Brazil. Like you cook something for someone, you make something, like it can be just a card or something. I love that. We are much more like you buy something new. It doesn’t have to be expensive, but you usually buy something.
I think my parents and my family and my extended family have sort of gotten to a point now where you realise it’s just capitalism, right? You’re just spending money on things people aren’t necessarily needing. They don’t necessarily want, that they’re not going to use for very long and so a lot more, at least in recent years, my family, my immediate family like my sister and my parents as well as my extended family, now make things like their own wine or they’ll put together some kind of like Protein Balls or a bag of nuts or some lollies or they’ll make food, they’ll cook gingerbread, gingerbread man like my sister is going to do tomorrow. And then they give that to the family so, you can do that with your culture, right ?Like whatever it is. If you guys are from say India and you can cook some really good food there that you could give to other people, people really appreciate getting interesting new things and I would be like…like Kel’s planning on cooking food that’s Brazilian and handing that out to the family.
That will be really nice.
Yeah, exactly. Anyway, so, hopefully you’ve enjoyed this episode and it has given you some understanding of Australian culture and what Christmas is like here in Australia and how it compares to Christmas in Brazil, but I would definitely love to know from you, guys, how you guys celebrate Christmas or what you celebrate instead of Christmas during this period of the year, and I guess until next time, guys.
Merry Christmas. See you soon!
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas:
AE 517 – Expression: Go Out On A Limb
This is the signal for ‘Big Bill’ Neidjie to begin on of the most important duties in the maintenance of his tribal lands. Only he and the other elders are traditionally entrusted with the task of burning the grasslands. They must clean the country, they say, but strictly according to aboriginal law.
Bill’s son, Johnathon Yarramana, has come to learn just how and when the fires may be lit.
The time is right when the birds begin to migrate. The young animals born in the grasslands have grown to maturity by this time and so can escape fire.
It’s also a comparatively cooler time of year and beneath the dry stalks there is still dampness. Fires will not rage out of control and so the country will be cleansed, but not devastated. If the laws about burning are broken and fires are started later in the season of heat and dryness, there will be great loss of life.
G’day you mob! How’s it going? Welcome to this episode of Aussie English, the number one podcast for anyone and everyone wanting to learn Australian English, but not just for them, for anyone who is trying to get to an advanced level in English and beyond as well. So, remember guys the Aussie English Podcast is brought to you by the Aussie English Classroom. This is my online classroom with my courses and all the content that I create to help listeners just like you improve your English. So, if you’re working on pronunciation, you’re trying to improve expression comprehension and use you, you want to expand your vocab and you want to do so with the bonus content for these episodes and much more, go to theaussieenglishclassroom.com and sign up and remember you can try that for just one dollar for your first month, ok?
If instead you would just like the transcripts and the MP3s for these podcasts, that’s all you’re after, you just want to be able to read and listen, to make sure that you’re understanding everything that I am saying, then make sure you go to theaussieenglishpodcast.com and for the price of a coffee per month you will get access, unlimited access, to all of the transcripts and MP3s that you can download and you can listen and read, do everything you want with them anytime, anywhere.
Anyway, guys, the movie scene at the start there, I hope you like that, that was a snippet from a David Attenborough doco, I’m not sure exactly which one, but I found that on YouTube and thought that I would chop a little part out of it and show you it because it has something to do with what we will talk about at the end of this episode and that is bushfires, ok? And Indigenous Australians use and have used for many thousands of years bushfires to control the land for hunting for many different purposes. Anyway, we’ll chat about that in the Aussie English Fact at the end of today’s episode.
Alright, so, as usual, let’s start with an Aussie joke. So, I decided to try and find a tree joke, a joke about trees, because today’s expression references the limb of a tree, as in a large branch on a tree, ok? So, here’s the tree joke, here is the joke about trees. How did trees get online? How did trees get online? They just log in. They just log in. Do you get it? There’s a pun there with the word log, right? A log is a thick part of a branch of a tree that has been chopped up, right? If you chop a tree down and you chop the trunk up or a large branch up, you get logs. Those small chunks of wood, that’s a log so, how to get online, they just log in, because log in to is to get online. I don’t know. I don’t know. Bad joke.
Alright so, today’s expression, guys, is ‘to go out on a limb’, ‘to go out on a limb’, ‘to go out on a limb for someone’, you’ll usually hear it in that kind of pattern, so this came from Kel, my wife, in the Aussie English Classroom, seemed like a lot of you guys in the Facebook group were a bit busy this week so, we only had two expressions to choose from, Fatima, you almost got there, but next week, we’ll try next week. So, let’s go through and define the words in the expression ‘to go out on a limb’, ‘to go out on a limb for someone’.
So, ‘to go out’. ‘To go out’. This is to move in an outwards direction, right? You can go out of a house, which is to exit the house, to leave the house, to move out of the house. You can go out of the city if you’re in the city and you go out of the city, you’re moving outwards from the city, you’re leaving the city. But if you go out on something, now by saying ‘on’ something we’re talking about moving out, moving outwards, moving in an outwards direction, but now we are on something, right? Like you’re standing on something. So, maybe you go out on a balcony. If you have a balcony in your house you walk out on the balcony, you go out on the balcony, maybe or a tightrope walker and you’re about to walk out on the tightrope you are going out on the tightrope, ok? So, to go out on something is to move outwards on something.
And the last word here ‘a limb’. ‘A limb’ can be an arm or a leg of a person or an animal or maybe the wing of a bird, right? ‘A limb’, but in this sense, it is a large branch of a tree which resembles a limb, I guess, of an animal. You know it’s a long thin part of an organism in that case, a large branch of a tree. So, what does the expression to go out on a limb or to go out on a limb for someone mean? So, if you go out on a limb, it can be that you are isolated, but generally it means that you put yourself in an isolated position in which you’re supporting someone, but you yourself don’t have the support from other people so, you can go out on a limb to support someone, to protect someone, to help someone and the idea there being is that you’re doing it alone, you’re not doing it with a lot of other people’s support behind you. So, maybe as well it could be that you’re in a position where you’re not joined or supported by other people when you’re supporting someone and another definition here was to do something that is strongly believed in, usually in support of other people when it’s risky or extreme and I guess that ties in, it’s risky or extreme because other people aren’t doing it with you, ok?
And the phrase is referring to climbing a tree and going out on the limb of the tree as if, I guess, you were chasing an animal or maybe you’re leaning out and trying to get an apple or some fruit, but you’re taking a risky course of action. You’re doing something that’s dangerous in order to get something. So, you’re putting yourself in a sort of uncomfortable position, to go out on a limb, to go out on a limb for someone.
So, the origin of this expression was that it was first used in a figurative usage back in the late 19th century in 1895, when it was used in the Steudenville Daily Herald, a US newspaper. However, here, it’s not actually referring to climbing trees, but instead it was referring to being having someone isolated, having them isolated so, that they were vulnerable, in a vulnerable position and the quote was:
”We can carry the legislature like hanging out a washing. The heft [the main part] of the fight will be in Hamilton country. If we get the 14 votes of Hamilton, we’ve got them on a limb or all we have to do is shake it or saw it off”.
Ok, so the idea here being I don’t know what the context is for trying to get votes, but if they get enough votes they will have, I take it, the opposition in a vulnerable position and he’s talking figuratively when he says he’ll have them on a limb and all they have to do is shake the limb or to saw the limb off, right? To get rid of them, I guess.
So, let’s go through three examples of how I would use this expression in day to day life, ok?
So, example number one. Imagine you’re working in a factory. So, you’re a factory worker. You are a labourer. You work with big machinery with tractors, robots, conveyor belts, all of that sort of stuff. One day you make a catastrophic error and you accidentally leave a tool in a part or a section of the machinery. So, maybe it’s a spanner or a screwdriver or bolts, nuts, whatever it is and they get sucked into the machine and they do irreparable damage to that machine. They destroy that machine so, you notice that you see that, you freak out, you’re really worried, you think you might lose your job because you stuffed up and you’ve cost the company a heap of money because they need to replace that equipment, but your boss goes out on a limb and he saves you from losing your job. So, maybe he reports to the people above him at the company and he tells them how skilled you are, how important you are, how integral you are, how crucial you are for the company and maybe he explains it wasn’t really your fault or it was a simple accident. So, you don’t get fired because your boss went out on a limb for you. He puts himself in a vulnerable position in order to support you and maybe without anyone supporting him when he does that, but he’s saved your job.
Example number two. Imagine you’re an up and coming footy star. You know you love footy, you play footy, football, Australian Rules Football in Australia, you’re a kid, you’re a young kid who’s been playing all his life, training hard and your dream is to get selected and play on an AFL team so, you go to tryouts and you are showing a whole bunch of scouters, people who are selecting young up-and-comers to go on to these footy teams, and you have to show your stuff, you have to show them what you’re made of, right? So, ultimately, it’s their decision as to whether or not you get on the team. And if one of the scouts sees you, although you haven’t been performing incredibly well, you haven’t done as well as you would normally, but he sees you and he thinks this kid’s got a bit of talent. I think he’s going to go far. He might go out on a limb and support you when he talks to the other scouters and convinces them to put you through into the team, to select you, right? So, he goes out on a limb for you in order to get you through, right? He wants to support you and he’s doing it alone. He’s not doing it with other people’s help. He is isolated, he’s vulnerable.
Example number three. Maybe you are a fisherman on a fishing boat and you’re out at sea when there’s a huge storm with thunder, with lightning and it rolls in before you can do anything, before you can get back to port safely. So, the swell is really huge, you know, the waves are up and down, three, four, five metres you’re really worried that the boat is going to capsize in this swell, that your crew might get thrown off the boat, get thrown overboard and likely drown and, obviously, that you will lose the catch, the fishing catch that you’ve got this trip. So, the coastguard might come out to try and save your lives. So, these are the sailors whose job it is to help sailors or fishermen in distress at sea. So, they come out in their vessel into the storm and they find you, they get you guys on board, they hook your boat up to their boat so that they can tow it all the way back to the port and have your vessel get all the way back to safety without, you know, hopefully too much damage, despite the fact though that they’re putting their lives in danger, right? There’s a lot of peril. The storm could endanger them as well. So, despite the dangers, the coastguard went out on a limb to rescue you and your crew. They were isolated, they put themselves in a vulnerable position, in danger, in order to rescue you. They really went out on a limb to save your lives.
So, I guess, too I might add here because I just realised I haven’t touched on this, you can also use to go out on a limb when you’re talking about something you don’t know much about, right? Or when you put something forth and you’re not really sure. So, Kel came in before and I was talking to me about this suggestion and she had thought about it during IELTS, where if you get asked a question you don’t know much about, you know, maybe they say to you what’s your thoughts on the political situation in Bosnia? You might say okay… you’ve kind of caught me off guard. I’m not prepared, but I might go out on a limb and say that the political situation is not too good, right? So, you’re going out on a limb. It’s like here, it’s like saying you’re going to take a risk, you are going to put yourself in a vulnerable position, right? I’ll go out on a limb and say that this.
So, hopefully, you guys understand the expression ‘to go out on a limb’. Generally, it’s used when you’re putting yourself in an isolated position, but you’re supporting someone or you’re trying to help someone, right? Without the support of other people or it’s to do something you strongly believe in without the support of others when it’s very risky or extreme and it can be also when you want to comment on something that you don’t know much about, right? As in, you’re going to take a risk and give your opinion, you’re going to go out on a limb and say, blah blah blah.
So, as usual, let’s go through a little listen and repeat exercise, guys, where you can practice your pronunciation, and remember if you want to work on your specific accent, if you’re not working on an Australian accent, you’re working on a British, a New Zealand, a US accent, whatever it is, just copy the words that I’m saying, but don’t necessarily copy my accent exactly, but if you are working on an Australian accent then really try and mimic how I say these things, if you want a general Australian accent. Ok? Let’s go!
To go out
To go out on
To go out on a
To go out on a limb x 5
I went out on a limb for him.
You went out on a limb for him.
He went out on a limb for him.
She went out on a limb for him.
We went out on a limb for him.
They went out on a limb for him.
It went out on a limb for him.
Good job, guys! Good job! Now remember, if you want to get the full breakdown of all of these phrases all of these sentences step by step, join the Aussie English Classroom and not only will you get the video for the pronunciation, the connected speech, everything that’s in this section. Not only will you get that, but you’ll get all of the other videos for today’s expression episode including the vocab breakdown and the expression break down for the other interesting parts vocab expressions used in this episode. So, go to theaussieenglishclassroom.com, sign up and check out those videos for this episode as well as 50 other episodes that are up in there as well.
Alright, so I mentioned at the start today that I was going to talk about bushfires. So, that’s today’s Aussie English fact.
As you may or may not know, bushfires in Australia are relatively prevalent. They happen every single year. They’re always on the news during the dry and hot seasons are. So, let’s go through a little bit about bushfires. Bushfires are a frequent and important part of Australian climate and its environment so, prevalent in Australia due to the mostly hot and dry climate that we have here in Australia and fires occur on an annual basis, every single year, primarily during summer or during the dry season up in the North of Australia, and the impact is extensive. It happens all over the place to bushland, to forests and even to suburbia where people have decided to build houses around forested areas around or in forested areas.
So, although on one hand they have the potential to cause extensive property damage and even loss of human life, on the other hand bushfires are an important part of Australian ecosystems and the biology and life cycles of many native flora and fauna, for example, positive effects of bushfires include:
- Heating up the soil, cracking seed coats and triggering the germination of many plant seeds,
- Triggering woody seed pods held in the canopy to open up and release their seeds onto a fresh and fertile ash bed below, and this happens with Banksia plants,
- Clearing thick understorey in forested areas to reduce competition for plant seedlings. So, those seeds when they land in that ash bed are more able to grow quickly because of the ash as nutrients, but they also have less competitors because they have been burnt away from bushfires.
- Also, encourage new growth that provides food for many animals.
- And they also create hollows in logs and trees that can be used by animals for nesting and for shelter.
- And aboriginals in Australia often light bushfires, which is a practice called ‘traditional burning’, and they do this in order to: make access easier through thick and prickly vegetation, to maintain a pattern of vegetation, to encourage new growth and also attract game for hunting. So, they want to attract animals in to eat the new vegetation so that they can hunt these animals. And they also do it to encourage the development of useful food plants for cooking, warmth, signaling, and even spiritual reasons.
So, this practice was done for so long more than 40,000 years that many ecosystems in Australia have adapted to this and they rely on regular fires lit by humans in order to thrive.
That said, there are many negative effects of fires, which include:
- The damage done to vegetation in communities such as rainforests, where it can often take hundreds of years for rain forests to recover from a fire.
- They can kill and injure plants and animals.
- They can cause erosion and the subsequent sedimentation of creeks and wetlands, which is where the erosion goes into the water and it decimates the local flora and fauna. It makes it hard for them to survive them.
- It can also open up areas to the impacts of weeds and feral animal invasion. So, where trees and plants and everything had been burnt away, weeds can come in and live there, animals that have been feral and are introduced into Australia like rabbits, foxes, they can more easily get in too, and also, humans suddenly now have access to these places and they can vandalise these places as well.
How bushfires in Australia are managed? If you come to Australia, you may sometimes see practices such as back burning and prescribed burning taking place in places like national parks and other forested areas around the country near suburbs and this is usually outside the bushfire season. It’s usually done then when they set fires to the understorey, to grasslands, etc. in order to burn away excess wood, excess grass, etc., to make it safer and easier to control during summer and also communities as well as individual households in these areas usually have plans, they’ll be encouraged to have bushfire action plans so that if a bushfire should occur, they know exactly what they need to do in order to get out safely to evacuate the area.
So, let’s chat about the worst bushfire in Australian history. This bushfire was called ‘Black Saturday’, and it was actually hundreds of bushfires all on this one day, and it was the worst Australia bushfire in terms of lives lost. These fires were a series of bushfires that were ignited or were burning across the state of Victoria on Saturday the 7th of February in 2009, it was nine years ago, with the final fire going out or being put out more than a month later on the 14th of March.
The fires occurred during extreme bushfire weather conditions and resulted in Australia’s highest ever loss of life from a bushfire with a total of 180 fatalities and a further 414 people were injured as a result of the fires. There were as many as 400 individual fires recorded that day with the total amount of burnt area, including more than a million acres so about half a million hectares of land.
What caused these fires? There were various confirmed causes of these fires including:
- power lines,
- and even arson
So, people had actually lit these fires on purpose and more than 3,500 buildings including two thousand homes were burnt to the ground and completely destroyed. So, it was a very tragic event and if you ask any Australian about Black Saturday they will know what you’re talking about and they will know about the tragic loss of life.
Anyway, guys, I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode today, I hope you’ve learned a little bit more about English, some expressions, a little bit more about Australian history as well, although, recent Australian history and I hope you guys have an amazing weekend and I’ll see you soon. Peace out!
Learn Australian English even faster in
Each course is a comprehensive
English lesson covering these areas:
AE 516: Few, A Few, Very Few, & Quite A Few – What’s the difference?
What’s going on, guys? Welcome to this advanced English lesson. Today I want to take you through, I want to show you, the differences between these common collocations with the word FEW, right? You’ll hear few, a few, very few, quite a few…There’s probably others but these are very common and they can mean completely different things. Ok? So let’s get into it.
Alright, so let’s go through FEW first, the word few. Few means a small number of something and it will be plural. A small number of things, it’s never one, it’s usually two, three, four. The idea being that it is not very many, but it is plural. It can have a negative meaning. So, it can mean not as much as expected or wished for. So, for example I have few friends as opposed to just saying I have three friends, I have four friends, which is just sort of a neutral statement.
If you say I have few friends, that’s the idea that you have a small number of friends and it’s less than expected or less than you wish for. Maybe you want more. I only have few friends. I have few friends. Another example: she has few talents. She has few talents. Again as opposed to saying she has two talents, three talents, four talents. The idea here is that she only has a small number of talents and it can be negative. It can be ahhh she only has a small number of talents, less than expected, less than wished for, ok? Few.
It’s not always negative, though. So, when you add this in with a time period in the future or in the past, it is just talking about a small number, right? So, for example I’ve lived in Australia for the last few years. That could be two years, three years, four years, but the basic idea being that I have lived in Australia for the last small more a number of years, ok?
Another example: it’ll rain for the next few days. So, it’ll rain for the next small number of days, it could be two days, three days four days. Probably won’t be many more than that. Ok? It’ll rain for the next few days.
Now let’s talk about A FEW. Ok? Now we’re using it as a noun, right? A few. A few. This just means some, a small number of some things, so it’s similar to few, but this time it doesn’t have that negative connotation. We need a few hours to do the job. We need a few hours to do the job. We need only a small number of hours to do this job, two hours, three hours, a very small number of hours. Another example: the car comes in a few different colours. That is that the car is available in only a small number of colours and it could be that you wish there were more colours. Ok?.
VERY FEW. Very few. A very small number. Now we’re sort of emphasizing how small that number is, right? That’s what varie is doing in front of few. Very few, not just a few, very few. So, he wants very few people present at his wedding. Meaning he only wants a very, very, very small number of people present at his wedding. The shop has very few products left for sale. The shop has only a very small number of products left for sale so, this is just a way of emphasizing how small that number of things is.
The last one here: QUITE A FEW, tends to be the complete opposite. And this is where it can be confusing. If I say quite a few, it is a surprisingly large number of whatever the thing is that you’re talking about, right? So it can have the complete opposite meaning of few or a few on its own, right? Where you will have a very small number. If you say quite a few, it’s a very large number and the same thing with that negativity, sorry, with that opposite meaning negative for few and a few as in less than expected, less than wished for. This is the complete opposite where it’ll be a positive meaning potentially, where it could be more than expected or more than wished for.
Ok? So, let’s see an example: the dog knows quite a few tricks. So, you could say the dog knows a few tricks and that would be he knows a couple, but if you say quite a few, that’s he knows a lot, right? The dog knows a surprisingly large number of tricks, more than you expected. Yeah, he knows quite a few tricks!
Another example: there are quite a few people eating at the restaurant. There is a surprisingly large number of people eating at the restaurant, more than you would expect.
So, now let’s go through and do some comparisons and we will do this over in the Aussie English classroom, guys. So, if you would like to join me there, make sure that you go to theaussieenglishclassroom.com, sign up to be a member, you can try it for just one dollar for your first month and you’ll get the rest of this video where we will compare all these different forms: a few, few, very few, quite a few, across a few different sentences and we will also talk about the difference between using little and few, right? A little, a few, little, few, very little, very few. So, join me over in the Aussie English Classroom, guys and I’ll see you there!
Get access to PART 2 of this episode in
the Aussie English Classroom!