In this Interview In Depth lesson, we’re going to study a portion of the AE 405 interview with Oliver Gee about moving to France and starting a podcast on Paris.
Read and listen to the full interview here.
How to complete this lesson:
- Listen & read
- Complete the quizzes
Do you have any advice for people learning English? Like, especially Swedish people or French people? Have you come across common errors or even just tactics or ways for learning it that sort of help?
Yeah, I think… I think it’s just… I think the best way to learn any language, in my own experience, and it must be the same for English, is to put yourself in a position where you need to speak it. So, reading in a book or… like a lot of French people, they study English at school and they study all the way until they’re adult, and then they… you meet them and you say, “Hey, do you speak English?” and they say, “No, no, no!”, ’cause they’re so nervous, ’cause they never used it, right? So, my tip would be… And I’ll give you an example. I remember when I was in Swedish and… first or second class they taught us how to say “what’s the time” or whenever, couple of classes in. So, I went out and I checked my watch just to make sure I knew the time, and I hid it, and then I just walked up to people in the street, and I said, “What time is it?”, and then I learned… like, I knew it was 10 to 2 or whatever, but like five people in a row all answered it in a different way, whether they said something like, “Oh, I’ll check my phone”, “Oh, it’s early than I thought”, or “It’s 10 to 2” or “It’s nearly two”, and I just heard them all, and I didn’t understand half of it, but I knew the rough answer, ’cause I’d looked at the clock, but the point is like, I’d gone out there, and I’d done it in a way that I had to be involved in it, you know, rather than just learning in class too and then never using it until the end of the term, and then going, “How do you say that again?”.
That comes out of too from a memory perspective, as soon as you learn something new, you should go out and use it instantly, even if it’s just talking to yourself. But I only know what you mean, and I think that’s one of the biggest things that I have to overcome with students, a lot of the time, is trying to encourage them to go out and actually use the language. Like, just… I think changing their perception of mistakes and thinking, “The more mistakes I make, the better I am, the more I’m advancing, the more that’s a sign that I’m increasing my English abilities“, as opposed to, “Oh my god I don’t want to make a mistake ’cause I‘ll look like an idiot“. It’s kind of like, “Dude, go look like an idiot it’s for your own good. Do it. Trust me. Yeah!”.
That’s the ultimate tip. Don’t… like, you will look like an idiot, and every… like, I saw a really cool thing of the day. It said, “Never mock someone’s accent because like, foreign accent, because it’s a sign of bravery they‘ve dared to learn a new language.”.
You know? And it’s totally right. Like, how embarrassing that you think to mock someone, but like if they’ve got a French accent, they’ve learned a whole language and they’re taking the time to talk to you.
That irks me, that really pisses me off so much, especially in Australia, and we can probably talk about language learning in Australia a bit, but it seems like there are, and it’s probably the same in Britain and America I would imagine and a lot of other countries, but there are a lot of people in Australia who seem to always have that attitude of “Fucking learn English!”, like “Why can’t you speak English properly? You’ve been learning. Like, come on! speak my language!”, and you’re like….at least my reaction is always, “So, how good’s your French?” You know? “Do you want to speak in your in Portuguese? How’s your Chinese?” like, “Let’s go!”, you know?
It’s just baffling that anyone would be like that, and especially… I think if these kind of people who are… I mean, some like racist people to me, but these kind of people can’t get their head around it. Like, go and culture yourself and learn a bit of a language and realise just how wildly difficult it can be, and hopefully, realise how enjoyable and how much he can open you up to stuff, but then get a bit of context and then stop criticising people about their accents. You know, if people criticised me about my accent in Swedish or French, like…I’d just be like, “Are you kidding me? I’m doing my best. You kidding me?”
First world problems. Is this the only thing that you can complain about?
Focus on what I am saying and let’s talk about that, or focus on helping me to get something correct, but let’s not focus on the accent, ’cause that’s the exact reason that people get scared to learn a different language.
So, what advice would you give people who think that they have an incredibly strong accent in a language that they’re speaking?
I tell you exactly. I’ve got the perfect advice that one of my guests on my show gave me, and he was a… it was really cool. He was like a 75-year-old guy that… from England that I just bumped into randomly on the street one day, and I said I got a radio show I’d love to have… ’cause he lived in Paris for 50 years as an expat.
And I was like, “I’d love to hear your tips for other expats”, and stuff like that. It ended up being one of the top episodes of the whole season. And he sat down with me and I said, you know, “What should I do about French and my accent and stuff?” and, he said “Listen…”, and this is the tip that I’m giving to you now, he goes “embrace that you are different because it opens doors for you“. It’s like… Firstly, let’s say you go to a job interview with 20 French people, like if I go to a job interview 20 French people, and it’s all in French. I’ll be the one where they can go on “The guy with the Australian accent” or “The guy with the British accent” or whatever I have, and I’m immediately separated from them. Whether I’m more talented or not, it’s just a way to be different, and remembering that when I speak English I have an accent, maybe not so wildly strong, but I have an accent anyway. So, I have an accent I speak French and Swedish. So, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. That’s just who I am. It’s a part of who I am. So, the tip is embrace it. And if you’re French, especially French people always think that they have like a too strong accent, who cares if it’s too strong? You are a French person. You’re French. So, just speak it and get on with it. And like, it’s interesting to talk about language, but when you’re on the streets, just get on with it. Do what you have to…
I think that’s it. You need to get to the point of being understood and anything more is a bonus.
ST = something
SW = somewhere
SO = someone
A bonus – ST good that you get in addition to what you expect
- Seeing you after work today was a bonus!
A tactic – a particular method or plan for achieving ST
- Do you have a tactic for winning this game?
A tip – a useful suggestion
- Have you got any tips to help me learn English?
An ability – an acquired or natural capacity or talent to do ST
- His abilities in speaking English are amazing.
An expat – an expatriate – a person who temporarily or permanently resides in a country other than their native country
- There’re many Aussie expats living in Thailand.
And stuff like that – used to refer to things that are similar or related to the subject that you’re discussing, but can’t be bothered listing
- I love surfing, playing footy, exercising, and stuff like that.
Are you kidding me? – Is this a joke? – used to emphasise that you believe ST can’t be serious
- When someone stole my car, I yelled out, “Are you kidding me?!”.
Baffling – (for ST to be) unable to be understood or solved
- His abilities in learning languages are baffling!
Be involved in ST – take part in an activity or event, or be connected with it in some way
- How did you get involved in the local footy club?
Bravery – brave behaviour
- The knight who fought the dragon was full of bravery.
Bump into (SO) randomly – meet SO by chance – ‘random’ or ‘randomly’ is often used in informal language to mean ‘completely by chance’
- I just bumped into an old school friend randomly in the street.
Come across ST – find ST by chance
- Where did you come across my wallet?
Dare (to do ST) – if you dare to do ST, you’re not afraid to do ST, even though it may be dangerous or shocking or may cause trouble for you
- He got in trouble because he dared to be different.
Didn’t understand half of it – used to emphasise that ST was difficult to understand
- I was listening to your podcast about science and didn’t understand half of it.
Dude,… – used for emphasis. Similar to ‘Man,…’ and ‘Mate,…’, or even ‘Pete,…’
- Dude, why do you have to be so annoying?
Embrace SO/ST – hug SO/ST
- I embraced my girlfriend when she got home from work.
End up – be in a particular place or state after doing ST or because of doing it
- We ended up going to the beach today.
Enjoyable – pleasurable; fun
- Surfing and bodyboarding are incredibly enjoyable beach sports.
From a memory perspective – from a memory stand point – used to say you’re thinking of ST in regards to ‘memory’ (in this case)
- From an Australian perspective, the beach is incredibly important.
Get on with it – finish it – give your time to ST and make progress with it
- Are you going to sit around all day or are you going to get on with your work?
He was like a 75-year-old guy – He was approximately a 75-year-old guy
- I think he was like 50 years old or so.
Hide ST – put ST in a place so that no one can see or find it
- He hid his favourite food at the back of the fridge.
Immediately – straight away
- We need to call the cops immediately.
In a row – one after another, without anything different happening in between
- That guy won three gold medals in a row!
Irk SO – annoy SO
- People complaining really irks me.
It opens doors for you – it gives you many opportunities
- When you learn foreign languages, it opens many doors for you.
Like – used to give the speaker time to think, similar to ‘Um…’
- Like, what was I supposed to do?
Look like an idiot – appear silly or stupid
- I’d wear that, but I feel like I’ll look like an idiot.
Mock SO – make fun of ST; ridicule ST
- The kid’s friends mocked him for wearing a pink t-shirt.
Nervous – feeling excited and worried, or slightly afraid
- I feel really nervous before this job interview.
Open SO up to ST – be willing to accept or try new opportunities or possibilities
- When you start being more adventurous, you open up to many new opportunities.
Overcome ST – surpass ST; succeed in dealing with ST (e.g. a problem or difficulty)
- How did you overcome these difficult times?
Perception (of ST) – the way in which ST is regarded, understood, or interpreted
- It’s important to try to change the perception of racist people.
Piss SO off – annoy SO; make SO angry
- Annoying people often piss me off.
Properly – correctly; appropriately
- Can you please make your bed properly?
Racist – prejudiced against other races
- There aren’t as many racist people in Australia as it’s rumoured.
Rough – approximate; not exact
- What’s the rough answer to this question?
That attitude of ST – that opinion/feeling about ST
- He has an attitude of, “Get on with it!”, and won’t accept excuses.
That’s it – exactly; what you said is correct
- Yeah, that’s it. You’re 100% correct.
There’s nothing to be ashamed of – there’s no reason to feel guilty or embarrassed about ST
- The doctor told me there’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to my disease.
Totally – completely
- I totally agree with you.
Walk up to SO – approach SO
- I walked up to the stranger to ask for directions.
Whatever – used to refer to anything or everything when you may not know what it is or can’t be bothered saying
- I’m happy to go shopping, or go to the beach, or whatever.
Wildly – extremely; used for emphasising what you’re saying
- My salary increased wildly this year!