Ethos EnglishJan 09, 2023
Season 3 coming soon!
I'll be back with season 3 of Ethos English in September!
Spanish stalemate: a deep dive into the vocabulary of elections
Precision before adornment: EFL and George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language"
George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language" tells us a lot about what it really means to be an advanced English speaker. (Hint: Value precision over adornment.)
The monk who made Apple possible
What does Steve Jobs learning calligraphy from a Trappist monk at university have to do with the creation of what is now the single most valuable company in the world? Listen to find out.
For the shownotes go to: https://ethosenglish.com/podcast/
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Dialling it back: a metaphor that might change your life
Print over pixels: Marshall McLuhan and the cognitive benefits of reading physical books
Research shows that reading from physical books, rather than on screens, significantly enhances our ability to understand, remember and reflect on the content. Worryingly, many universities are choosing to replace readings with video content in an en effort to engage with students. Is this a step backwards?
Microfluency: SMART goals and context-specific language learning strategies
Instead of focusing on overall fluency start defining the specific contexts in which you need English. The skills you need for a given context can be thought of as a microfluency and can be developed at a faster pace. I give my own experience learning German when I was a flight attendant and discuss related concepts such as SMART goals and narrow reading and listening.
Navigating the content tsunami: stop mixing the trivial and the transformative
What is the impact of unlimited access to both trivial and transformative online content? Should we limit the information we take in and be more reflective information "consumers"? I also give informaiton on a free online event for English teachers on 27 May.
A royal pain: King Charles and monarchy idioms in English
The artist's dilemma: EU copyright law and generative AI
This week we look at articles from the Verge and Reuters on a proposed EU copyright law. Copyrighted text and images are being used to build generative AI platforms like ChatGPT through a process called scraping yet the owners of this intellectual property stand to gain nothing. What is the future for creators?
Fox News' record-setting defamation lawsuit and the unmasking of Tucker Carlson
This week we look at articles from The Financial Times and The Economist on Fox News' record-breaking $787.5 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems. Find out how corrupt journalists allowed conspiracy theories to become mainstream and the role played by former Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson in compromising media integrity.
Surprising lessons from my coaching training: being well-rounded is overrated
I share insights from my coach training programme, specifically ideas taken from a talk by Marcus Buckingham called "9 Lies About Work" and how real progress depends on our ability to focus on our strengths and giving up on the fantasy of being well-rounded.
Making language sticky - the many uses of "stake"
The word "stake" has a variety of metaphorical meanings. It can represent ownership, risk, investment, commitment - and even belonging and is used to talk about everything from territorial disputes to the health of the planet. When we explore the etymology and metaphors behind everyday expressions they become cognitively sticky and therefore easier to remember.
The overlooked skill you need to stand out in oral exams, job interviews and even on first dates
This week I share insights from Psychology Today and the book Nonviolent Communication that will help you communicate far more effectively in high-stakes situations like speaking exams, job interviews... and on your next date.
Breaking free from the native-speaker ideal: the incredible journey of Joseph Conrad
One of the greatest writers in our language only started learning English at the age of 21. This week I look at more compelling goals than sounding like a native-speaker.
Roald Dahl and the censorship debate: the ethics of bowdlerisation in children's literature
Puffin Random House, publisher of Roald Dahl’s works, has hired a company to make the author’s books more politically correct by removing references to race, gender, body size and other potentially offensive content. The move has prompted criticism that children are being shielded from difficult truths about the world, with some critics arguing that sanitising Dahl’s work removes important cultural commentary. I explore the history of bowdlerisation from Shakespeare in the 19th century to the more recent example of a revised version of Huckleberry Finn that removes the "n" word.
Unlocking inversions: the grammar shortcut to speak English confidently
Many learners overlook everyday uses of inversion. This grammar structure is not limited to formal and literary English and should be part of your repertoire as a proficient English speaker. Learn a few of the most frequently used inversions, conveniently presented in sentence frames and chunks.
Are we in a friendship recession?
Surveys suggest that we're spending far less time with friends than we used to. More and more people - especially men - report having fewer or even no close friends. This week I explore psychological concepts like learned helplessness and mere exposure to help you reflect on how to make your own social life more rewarding.
To read the transcript of the episode go to https://ethosenglish.com/podcast/
Qatargate: corruption, whistleblowers and the European Parliament
The World Cup might be a distant memory but the political scandals linking Qatar to European lawmakers are far from over. This week find out about corruption in Brussels as well as the origin of the suffix -gate to refer to scandals.
University student creates reliable AI detection app
Find out how a 22 year-old year old undergraduate has managed to create a tool that detects AI-generated text with a low margin of error. Is this a dream come true for educators?
New year same old you? My experience choosing an alcohol-free life
Interested in changing your habits? Start with your beliefs! In this episode I share two books that helped me quit drinking and smoking and how my experience is relevant even if you don't have ANY bad habits to speak of! I also recommend an episode of the brilliant NPR podcast Hidden Brain that is more insightful than 99% of the information on personal transformation out there. As always, I provide definitions and examples for all of the advanced English vocabulary in this week's show. Go to the show notes at https://ethosenglish.com/podcast/ to subscribe to my monthly newsletter for a monthly Quizlet flashcard study set of that month's vocabulary.
Nuclear fusion breakthrough and adjectives ending in -worthy
This week I explore news reports of advances in nuclear fusion from The Financial Times and The Economist and discuss adjectives that end in -worthy.
Is ChatGPT the future of language learning?
In this week's show I talk about how ChatGPT and artificial intelligence more generally will affect language learning. I discuss articles from The Atlantic and The New York Times and explain the concept of neo-Luddites.
The power of patterns: why your brain loves alliteration
This week I'm going to teach you about the importance of alliteration. From advertising to journalism to fiction, alliteration is all over the place. Listen to become a better English speaker.
Celebrating 1 year and 30 episodes of Ethos English
In this episode I discuss my first year of podcasting why I'm happy that my early episodes make me cringe... and why they're still worth listening to!
I go over my some of my favourite episodes and some useful language related to advent.
Back on the royal road to fluency - adverbs, reading and two powerful writing tools
This week I continue my exploration of adverb collocations and share with you two powerful (and free!) online writing tools to dramatically improve your writing.
Want to make the leap from B2 to C2? Understanding adverb use is key!
Advanced English learners use adverbs in strikingly different ways. (You see, I just did it! Strikingly different - that's an adverb + adjective collocation.) Research has shown that C2 English speakers use not only more adverbs but also a wider range of them. In this week's episode I draw your attention to some key adverb + adjective collocations to help you make the shift from an intermediate to a truly advanced English learner.
Of slow growing coconuts, the true nature of genius and MC Hammer
We live in a world that seems to value productivity and external accomplishments over everything else. How can we shift our mindset so that we not only survive but thrive as teachers, students and human beings? Today I explore the deceptively simple insights of Zena Hitz on the true nature of genius. (Hint: think attitude not inborn trait). As a bonus I share one of my favourite websites for thought-provoking essays and articles.
Blind dates, hot button issues and an introduction to cognitive biases
This week I share with you an entertaining and very unintellectual newspaper column that will have you laughing out loud and ask whether you are as open-minded as you think. I discuss a fascinating New York Times video on the hypocrisy of the political left and how the concepts of belief perseverance and the backfire effect will have you rethinking how you argue with others.
Putting my tips into practice - a vocabulary scavenger hunt
In this week's show I remind you of the importance of resetting your attentional filter to notice key categories of vocabulary in English, including "empty" verbs and binomials. You'll be putting into practice my tips and I've even come up with a scavenger hunt for you to play while listening.
For the complete show notes, including the transcription of the entire episode and the scavenger hunt results, go to https://ethosenglish.com/advancedenglishpodcasts2e3/
Neuroscience and language learning: what's the attentional filter?
This week I explore key concepts from neuroscience in Daniel J. Levitin's book The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload and how they apply to language learning. Specifically, I explain the concept of the attentional filter as it relates to language learning and how using categories allows us to learn better. I go over last week's tip related to delexicalised verbs as exemplified in news stories on the political situation in the UK and then introduce this week's tip on binomials as a useful category of chunk in everyday English. As always, at the end of the episode I go over key vocabulary with definitions and examples.
The zombies in our midst: an antidote to bad economics and bad English
What does the recent political and economic turmoil in the UK have to do with improving your English? Listen and find out how to avoid becoming an intellectual zombie. For the shownotes go to https://ethosenglish.com/podcast/
Ethos English: a new name and a new season
The US Supreme Court and abortion
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, thereby depriving women in many parts of the U.S. access to legal abortion. In this episode we look at key vocabulary related to the law as well as discuss the American Supreme Court and new evidence-based studies on abortion.
Pesticides, scientific fraud and the moral arc of the universe
In this week's episode I discuss a recent court ruling in the United States on the safety of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the world's most widely-used pesticide and why this coming year is crucial for improving food safety and wildlife protection in the European Union.
The Great Stink of 1858
What can London's sewage crisis of the 19th century teach us about our own environmental crisis?
Do we have grounds for optimism? Read the interactive transcript and self-study materials, including Quizlet flashcards by clicking here.
Eco-anxiety, ikigai and the power of art
What is eco-anxiety? How we can use art as a way of processing grief caused by climate change? I have a brief chat with the environmental scientist, policy maker - and award-winning mosaic artist - Julie Sperling about the therapeutic value of art and how we can use the principles of ikigai to find ways to do our part in the fight against climate change.
We all have an inner voice - what's yours telling you?
In this episode I look into the concept of ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) and rumination. I discuss three techniques for coping with self-criticism. As it turns out, speaking to ourselves in our second (or third/fourth/etc.) language can help us when dealing with emotionally charged situations. Click here for the interactive transcript and Quizlet self-study materials.
Speaking exams: Key language to boost your performance
In this episode I delve into key words and phrases to help you talk about a topic that is very common in speaking exams, namely the importance of learning English or another foreign language. This is a very popular topic and one for which you can prepare yourself by learning some key vocabulary that will help you boost your performance. What's more, I explore the idea of educational inequality and how requiring English for professional and academic use has a dark side. Specifically I discuss a BBC article on subtractive bilingualism in Holland.
I also raise the issue of anticipating the kinds of questions you might be asked and how vital it is to avoid superficial answers. The questions you're asked may be boring but your answers shouldn't be!
Go to the episode page for a full interactive transcript and Quizlet flashcards to review all key vocabulary.
Of binomials, jingoism and inhumane empires
In this episode we find out about binomials as well as some interesting facts about the British Empire, jingoism and why British civil servants are threatening to revolt agains the government's latest plans to deal with refugees.
Talking about Atomic Habits with Tim Warre
The teacher, writer and podcaster Tim Warre joins me to discuss the book Atomic Habits by James Clear. We talk about ways in which language teachers and learners can benefit from this insightful book on habit formation. To watch the video recording of this conversation go to https://betterlanguagelearning.com/episode-15/
The road to Ukraine is paved with good intentions
"The road to hell is paved with good intentions" is a common saying in English. In short, having good intentions does not always lead to good outcomes. I argue that condemnation of Putin's war in Ukraine is not enough. We need to understand the conditions that allowed his rise to power and the ways in which Western powers might be partly responsible for this tragic war. I bring in Slavoj Žižek, Aditya Chakrabortty, Naomi Klein, John Mearsheimer and Masha Gessen. Lots of food for thought.
Talking about supply chain economics with Iván
In this conversation with Iván, who's both a student and teacher of English, we talk about an issue of interest to him, namely economics and supply chain issues that have been affecting the world economy. We also exchange ideas on effective language learning approaches, and discuss things such as translation and the use of flashcards.
Carrie Bradshaw and the overlooked advantages of being single
In this episode I discuss Valentine's Day and its Catalan equivalent Sant Jordi as well as delve into research on the hidden benefits of being single. What's more, I look into the concept of "greedy marriages" and why it's okay to want a relationship if you aren't in one. As always, you'll find an interactive transcript and Quizlet flashcard sets by going to my podcast page.
Talking about books you've never read
What does it mean to be well-read? In this episode I talk about Pierre Bayard's book How to Talk About Books You Haven't Read and why book reviews are an underrated tool for your personal development.
Seek and ye shall find
In this episode I talk about embracing being a nerd and the expression "Seek and ye shall find" and how the Bible, specifically the King James translation, has provided English with a wealth of idioms still in use today.
Is text messaging killing your social life?
J'accuse! Overcoming the philistinism of English language teaching
In this episode I talk about some counterintuitive yet helpful advice from one of my favourite columnists and address the issue of philistinism in English language teaching. Why does literature play such a small role in the teaching of English? Why are we so unambitious in our approach to writing?
An oasis in the desert? Dubai Expo and post-covid culture
In this week's episode I talk about my recent trip to Dubai. This year the emirate is hosting Expo, so I decided to explore a bit of the cultural impact of this international event throughout history. I come to the conclusion that the post-Covid world needs more catharsis-inducing art.
New Year's resolutions worth making
In this episode I talk about New Year's resolutions. Where did they originate? Are they worth making?
Go to betterlanguagelearning.com/ep06 for the interactive transcript and Quizlet flashcards.