35 episodes

Want to learn English conversation? Better at English "Real English Conversations" podcast (established in 2006) gives you fun, authentic English conversations for listening practice. You'll learn informal vocabulary, slang, idioms, and more. Read along as you listen with our free transcripts -- go to https://www.betteratenglish.com/transcripts for free transcripts and vocabulary lessons. The host of Better at English, Lori, also does solo English lesson episodes where she talks about English learning tips, grammar, vocabulary, and other topics to help you with your English learning. This podcast is suitable for English learners from lower-intermediate and above.

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    • Language Learning

Want to learn English conversation? Better at English "Real English Conversations" podcast (established in 2006) gives you fun, authentic English conversations for listening practice. You'll learn informal vocabulary, slang, idioms, and more. Read along as you listen with our free transcripts -- go to https://www.betteratenglish.com/transcripts for free transcripts and vocabulary lessons. The host of Better at English, Lori, also does solo English lesson episodes where she talks about English learning tips, grammar, vocabulary, and other topics to help you with your English learning. This podcast is suitable for English learners from lower-intermediate and above.

    044 – A very embarrassing mistake

    044 – A very embarrassing mistake

    Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Better at English dot com.



    It's story time here today, something I don't think I've done here on the podcast before. I'm going to use natural English, but will try to speak just a little more carefully than I normally would, so that more people can follow along.



    You can find the full transcript of everything I say on my website: www.betteratenglish.com/transcripts



    Today I've been thinking about mistakes, mainly how the fear of making mistakes in English really holds some learners back. Believe me, I know how this feels. I've made plenty of embarrassing mistakes myself in my target languages. Luckily, most of the time I'm able to just laugh them off, and they don't really get me into trouble. But sometimes mistakes lead to a total breakdown of communication. And that's no fun at all.

    I thought you might like to hear about one of my more memorable mistakes, a mistake that actually caused a real problem and made me feel super embarrassed. It happened over 30 years ago, (yes, I'm that old) but it taught me such an important lesson about language learning that I still remember it to this day.



    So let me take you back over thirty years, to my first year living in Sweden. I think I'd been living there for about nine months when this happened. I'd been trying to learn Swedish since I arrived, and by then I was able to understand a fair amount. I think I could speak without too much difficulty about general, everyday things. I still made tons of mistakes, for sure, but they didn't really cause problems. That is, until this one particular day.



    Here's the situation: I needed to make a doctor's appointment for some kind of check-up. I can't remember what it was for; I just remember that it wasn't for anything urgent. It was early in April, maybe April third or fourth. I picked up the phone and called the doctor's office to make an appointment. It was scary. I'd never made a phone call like that in Swedish before. I was worried that I would embarrass myself by making terrible mistakes or just not understanding, and that I would end up having to try to do it in English. Most people in Sweden speak English, which is one of the reasons I wasn't learning faster. But I was determined to make this appointment in Swedish, gosh darn it!



    Despite my worries, it seemed to go well. The doctors' assistant answered, and I was able to explain what I needed and make an appointment for April 18th at 9 a.m., that's nine o'clock in the morning. I hung up feeling pretty proud of myself: this was the first time I'd ever made a phone call like this in Swedish -- calling a total stranger to make an appointment -- and I didn't have to use any English at all. It felt like a real sign of progress!



    I got out my calendar, found April 18th and wrote: Dr's appointment, 9 am. I was a bit annoyed that I would have to wait two weeks for my appointment, but like I said, it wasn't urgent. I closed my calendar and went on with my day, feeling very pleased with myself about my successful phone call in Swedish.



    Now....Fast forward to 3 or 4 days later, April 8th just after 9 am. I was at home in my little apartment, drinking coffee and getting ready to go to the gym when the phone rang. I picked up the phone, hoping that it would be something nice -- maybe a friend calling to find out if we could do something fun that day, I don't know. But it wasn't. It was someone from the doctor's office, a woman who sounded mildly annoyed, calling to find out why I hadn't shown up for my appointment.



    That was a shock to me, because I thought my appointment was not for another 10 days, on the 18th. I couldn't imagine that I'd written down the wrong day by mistake. "Are you sure?" I asked her. "I thought it was on the 18th...that's almost two weeks from now.

    • 10 min
    043 – Real English conversations: Lori scores a year’s supply of toilet paper (archive)

    043 – Real English conversations: Lori scores a year’s supply of toilet paper (archive)

    A funny thing happened today when Lori was shopping for office supplies, and it involves an industrial-sized package of toilet paper rolls.

    042 – Make the Most of your Motivation part 2 of 2 – Real English Conversations

    042 – Make the Most of your Motivation part 2 of 2 – Real English Conversations

    Introduction

    Hi English learners! Lori here, your teacher from Betteratenglish.com. Last week I shared the first part of a cool conversation I had with Dr. BJ Fogg, all about making the most of your motivation. Today you’ll be hearing part two, the final part of this conversation. If you missed the first part, make sure to go back and listen to part one before you listen to part two.



    At the end of part one, BJ was telling me about his goal to get better at writing neatly on a whiteboard. He knew that he needed to practice a lot if he wanted to improve, so he wanted to make it as easy as possible to practice every day. In this part of the conversation, you’ll hear what he did to change his environment to make practicing easy, even on days when his motivation is low. You’ll also hear about how his practice routine is working for him.



    As always, you can find the full transcript of this conversation, including a bonus vocabulary lesson at betteratenglish.com/transcripts.



    Are you ready for the conversation? Let’s go!



    Conversation transcript

    BJ: One of the habits I’m doing right now is, I’m practicing whiteboarding. I’m practicing with markers writing on a whiteboard. You know, like teachers do.



    Lori: Right.



    BJ: And I want my handwriting to get much, much better and so, I’m practicing every day. But anyway, what I did was I went out and I got some marker paper, I got a bunch of markers, I got different whiteboards so I have whiteboards in different parts of my house. I have the marker paper, I have markers, I have a marker in my bathroom, one in my sun room, I have a whole set in my office, I have a whole set in my other office. In other words, I made it really, really easy to practice writing with markers by getting all the materials and getting everything set up. And I did that when I was in a period of high motivation. So now, it’s really easy just to pick up a marker and practice. I don’t have to be super motivated.



    Lori: Right. And– and you can tell yourself that, you know, “You have all your materials. It’s all easy right at hand.” You could even tell yourself, “I’m just going to write one sentence. That’s all I feel like doing right now and —



    BJ: Yeah. In fact, just before your call, that’s what I did. I was sitting down and I was going to read but I was like, “No, no. I’m just going to, like, get out the marker board and write one sentence.” And I ended up filling up the entire marker board because I thought, “Oh, this is kind of fun. I’m going to keep going.”



    Lori: Yeah —



    BJ: And then, you called.



    Lori: Have– have you — oh, I’m sorry to interrupt your practice…

    [laughs]



    BJ: [crosstalk] No, I was expecting your call.



    Lori: …while you were on a roll. But yeah, and I guess…how’s your writing? Has it been improving? It must be improving.



    BJ: Oh my gosh, it’s so much better.



    Lori: And that —



    BJ: Yeah.



    Lori: Because I can imagine when you start seeing that your efforts are paying off, that that makes it more likely that you’re going to pick up those pens and do your practicing.



    BJ: Yeah, and I– I think there are some behaviors or skills where it becomes clear pretty quickly — your progress. And then there are some, at least outcomes, where it’s harder to measure like, “Wow, am I really reducing my stress? Am I really getting healthier? Am I really...,” you know, whereas the whiteboarding — and then, I practice guitar every day…

    Lori: Oh! Cool.



    BJ: …and– and other things. Yeah, but in those two cases, it’s very clear that you’re getting better. It’s just obvious that you’re getting better. And the writing is one that I may have other people join me in because…and then take pictures before and after beca...

    041 – Make the most of your motivation – a conversation with BJ Fogg (part 1 of 2)

    041 – Make the most of your motivation – a conversation with BJ Fogg (part 1 of 2)

    What can you do when you're not feeling motivated? What is the best way to use your motivation when you ARE motivated? Find out in this episode of Real English Conversations from Better at English. Lori talks to Dr. BJ Fogg about how to make the most of the motivation that you have, no matter if it's high or low.

    • 11 min
    040 – Daily Rituals part 5 of 5 – Real English Conversations

    040 – Daily Rituals part 5 of 5 – Real English Conversations

    This episode of Real English Conversations is part 5 of Lori and Kyla's discussion about a book they both liked: Daily Rituals, by Mason Currey. This is the FINAL part of this conversation. First they talk about feeling overwhelmed by the never-ending stream of emails that land in their inboxes. Then they discuss what Kyla learned from William James about structuring the mundane parts of your day so you can have time and space to do your really important work. This episode is marked explicit because at the end of the conversation, Lori says a couple of mildly vulgar swear words. Nothing serious, but if you are extremely sensitive to any kind of rude language, you will want to skip this one.



    The transcript includes explanations of the vocabulary and key grammar and usage points. It's a great tool for you to test your listening comprehension, or to use as a basis for discussion with your teacher, your language exchange partner, or your other friends who are learning English.



    A Real English Conversation podcast from Better at English. Learn informal American English, idioms, phrasal verbs and more.

    • 11 min
    039 – Daily Rituals part 4 – Real English Conversations

    039 – Daily Rituals part 4 – Real English Conversations

    This episode of Real English Conversations is part 4 of Lori and Kyla's conversation about the book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. In this part of the conversation they digress to talk about interruptions and distractions, and how these affect them when they are trying to work. Kyla tells Lori about how she had to stop the internet service at her house in order to finish recording her band's album.



    The transcript contains the full text of the conversation, plus a bonus vocabulary lesson and language usage notes.

    • 10 min

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