Lesson

6 Big English-Learning Mistakes with Christian Saunders

In this Interview In Depth lesson, we’re going to study a portion of the episode: AE 453 – Interview: 6 Big English-Learning Mistakes You Should Avoid with Christian Saunders.

Read and listen to the full interview here.

How to complete this lesson:

  1. Listen & read
  2. Complete the quizzes


AE 453 – 6 Big English-Learning Mistakes with Christian Saunders

Difficulty: Beginner

G’day, guys, and welcome to this episode of Aussie English! I have Christian back again. And today it’s going to be a bit of a bitch fest. It’s going to be a bit of a complaining session, I guess, about how English is taught and how English is often learnt by… English as a second language learner. So, we want to talk about it, have a bit of a chat and I know Christian, I’m always following him at Canguro English on his Instagram, his YouTube and his Facebook page. If you haven’t, follow him. But he’s always complaining, he‘s always bitching about how people are learning English or teaching English wrong. And so, I wanted him on the podcast to discuss this with me. So, Christian, welcome!

Thanks. Thanks Pete. Thanks so much for inviting me. It’s always a pleasure to talk to you and I’m sorry that I come across as so much of a complainer.

You don’t! (It’s) A good ‘complaining’ you know. it’s like you smile whilst doing it so I don’t feel as bad inside. I feel like “here come the knowledge bombs! I’ll put my helmet on. I’ll get some cover and then I’m ready to receive the onslaught of how I’m teaching English wrong.

Yeah well, I try to bring everything with positivity. As you say, it’s negativity with a smile, right?

Exactly. And the purpose of it is to build confidence. It’s to give people… It’s to empower people who are learning English and to sort of relieve their anxiety with regards to “Am I good enough? Should I make mistakes? Am I good enough to talk to other people blah blah blah?” So, I love that aspect of it.

Yeah, exactly. Well, I mean you asked me to sort of think about the things that I think are wrong with the world of English teaching and so I came up with a list of six things. And the first thing on my list, which I think is the biggest problem, is what I call false promises.

So, can I guess what this is relating to?

Please, yea!

Is this relating to teachers? Teaching people who are who are learning English and giving them the idea that they can become native speakers or…?

Yeah Exactly. So, there’s, for example, people saying you can have a native accent. You can get fluent in 30 days. You can be like a native speaker in [x] amount of time.

So that’s one of those things where I think that’s true. But it depends. Right? It depends on how much time you’re talking about. It depends on how obsessive the learner is and it depends on they have raw talent for it. So not everyone can do it but it depends on the person right? Because there are definitely people I’ve met where I’ve been blown away to know they’ve been speaking English for five or even 10 years and I would never have known they were foreign!

Yeah! No, look sure. Of course, everybody’s individual level of motivation is different and, yeah, some people are obsessive and they can produce incredible results within a year. You know you can see… You can have people who are very confident – able to not only speak but listen and have a really engaging conversation, of course but… But I think the thing is more that… I think the philosophy, in general, about what it means to learn a language is very similar to the idea of healthy eating and exercise.

I was about to draw the analogy!

Because my sister is a fitness instructor. And when she talks with me about the whole idea of being healthy and exercise, there’s so many similarities because it’s the reason that people fail at diets, you know, they try to lose 10 kilos in a month. Yeah maybe you’ll do it – through dehydration and malnutrition. But really, like healthy living and healthy life is not something you do for 30 days and then it’s over. It’s a mentality. It’s a commitment for life. And I think…

I had to tell my dad that…

Language learning should be the same, right?

Exactly, I had to tell my dad that. My dad has had trouble with his weight for a lot of his life and I remember recently… Like, he’s been on a diet, lost 10 kilos, he‘s gained it again. He’s been on a diet, he’s lost 12 kilos, he’s gained it again. And I had to say to my dad you can’t just treat this like it’s a short-term thing. This is your life: Your habits, your behaviour, your psychology has to change permanently. It doesn’t have to change overnight like dramatically but you have to be thinking of it more like “These are habits you’re trying to build to use forever,” as opposed to “I’ll just do this for 30 days and then I‘ll be sweet for the rest of my life.”.

Exactly! And I think the other problem with false promises is if somebody has the idea that learning the language is something that sort of begins and ends, that you can do in 90 days. When the 90 days is up, and of course they haven’t got very far at all because you can’t do anything in 90 days, when the time is up what do they do? They quit. So, you have a whole generation of people quitting, giving up, because they… Because nobody tells them, “Hey, if you’re going to do this, it’s just like a dog; It’s not just for Christmas.”.


Vocab:

ST = something

SW = somewhere

SO = someone

A bitch fest(very informal) – ‘a bitch festival’ – a get together where you can complain a lot (i.e. bitch) about ST
A commitment for life – the state of being dedicated to a cause or activity for one’s entire life
A complainer – SO who expresses dissatisfaction or annoyance about ST
A complaining session – a get together where two or more people can express dissatisfaction or annoyance about ST
A false promise – a promise that is made with no intention of it being carried out or occurring
A fitness instructor – a certified personal trainer who helps people train to get fit
A helmet – a hard or padded protective hat, often worn by police, soldiers, etc.
A mentality – a state of mind; the way SO thinks
A really engaging conversation – a chat or discussion that is incredibly interesting
A short-term thing – ST that doesn’t last very long
An onslaught (of ST) – a fierce or destructive attack
Anxiety – a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about ST with an uncertain outcome
As opposed to ST – distinguished from or in contrast with
Be sweet for the rest of one’s life – be in a good position or state for one’s entire life
Bitch about ST(informal) complain about ST
Blown away – surprised, impressed, or shocked
Build confidence – create the feeling or belief that one can have faith in or rely on SO or ST (i.e. themselves)
Change overnight – become different incredibly quickly
Come across as ST – appear or seem as ST
Come up with ST – produce (ST), especially when pressured or challenged
Dehydration – the loss or removal of water from ST
Dramatically – significantly
Draw the analogy – create an analogy (i.e. a comparison between two things, typically for the purpose of explanation or clarification)
Empower SO – make SO stronger and more confident
Everybody’s individual level of motivation – everyone’s personally degree to which they are motivated
Foreign – from another country
Gain (weight) – increase in (weight)
Give SO the idea that… – cause SO to think that…
Give up (on ST) – cease making an effort (to do ST); admit defeat
Here come the knowledge bombs – here come the intelligent statements (from SO)
In [x] amount of time – in [you can insert or imagine any period of time]
Malnutrition – the lack of proper nutrition caused by not eating healthily
Negativity – the expression of criticism of or pessimism about ST
Obsessive – to be preoccupied with ST to a troubling extent
Philosophy – a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour
Positivity – the practice of being or tendency to be optimistic in attitude
Raw talent – being extremely good at ST naturally, i.e. without much training
Relating to ST – connected to ST; linked to ST