Hello, guys. Welcome back to another episode of the BigAppleSchool podcast where the object of the show is "Improve your English through listening". My name is Benjamin, I'm from London and today we have three guests. Our first guest today is
Today we gonna talk about learning languages through watching films and TV. So, before we had a podcast episode about learning languages, well, we are, of course, a language school, so hopefully we know a few things about this subject. We kind of want to recap about what was discussed in the previous podcasts. I mean, let's come back to the basics. How do we learn a language to a high level? And do you need to learn a language to a high level? Or do you need to only learn the language to a certain level? What do you want to get out of your language learning experience and how to reach your goals? So let's say if you want to learn a language a really high level, how would you go about it? You go speak amazing English. How would you...
Flatter. No, seriously. How did you get to that level? I mean.
And, well, when we talk about practice, how much of that practices active or passive, how much of that practices it's in the textbooks and how much of it is just casually watching TV?
Okay. I think I'll speak for both of us, for Natalie and I, because we are not a good example, because we studied at the faculty of foreign languages, which means that it is 10 to 12 hours over language every single day.
I didn't realize it was that much.
Because all of the subjects are in English or in French, in Natalie's case as well.
English and French. For me it was only English. So we had, for example, my transcript says that we had more than 1200 hours of practice of oral and written speech, about 700 hours of grammar, 600 hours of phonetics, and then all the subjects like lexicology, phonology, syntax and everything. So that was a lot of theory and hell of a lot of textbook work.
So. So you were fully immersed in your target languages. Okay. So a lot of our listeners, of course, don't have the time to just immerse themselves fully in the English language. How could we advise our listeners? What steps could they take to really speak English to a, let's say a B to or C1 level?
Well, I think that it's the same role. The more exposure you have to a language, the better it is.
Yeah. And let's just say you are a computer programmer and you work about, I don't know, 8 hours a day. How do we get English into your daily life? What could they do?
Maybe they can contact with their colleagues around the world and they have brainstorm. The things that they're doing daily.
So every day there needs to be English. You can't just only come to school and expect to have...
Absolutely. And, I mean, nowadays we live in this fantastic age of technology, so you can actually surround yourself with your target language. Listen to podcasts. Even if you think you don't understand much, you know, your brain still works. So you might remember, you know, the words and the phrases from the podcast later on. So podcasts, books, Instagram, Tik Tok, I mean, you have no idea how many words in Spanish I learned thanks to Tik Tok.
And with some students, I actually get a calculator and I show them how many hours a five year old has. Because a five year old speaks their native language pretty fluently. They can make complex question of sentences in the native language. A five year old has around 11000 to 12000 hours with their native language. So and only then can they just make a complicated sentence. Whereas if you only come to lessons for, I don't know, one or 2 hours a week or what's, how many weeks are there in a year? 52. So let's say you come to school one hour a week. It's going to be 52 hours a year. And you're not going to see results if you only rely on education. So when you come to school here, think of it as like protein powder for your.. Like if you go into the work, to the gym. And here we gonna supercharge your language learning experience, but you need to have external exposure to the language, i.e. you need to be listening to podcasts at least 2 hours a day. Maybe you don't need to be around a language for 12000, 11000 hours, but maybe to get to a C1 level, how many hours do you think roughly you would need? Like 4000 hours?
It's I think it's impossible to say because we are all different. We have different ways to receive information yet. Different, um... Yeah, different everything. Different ways.
And for some people, it's much easier, you know, to understand it's, I don't know, like to listen to things more, yeah. For some people, it's easier to understand visual information. So they are better at reading, at wrighting, I don't know. But for some people it's much easier to just pick it up just like that, you know.
It's true. Do you have some five year olds who are more talented speakers than others, and you do have some five year olds who can't even speak properly in their own native language. So yeah. Ugur, tell us about how you became essentially a native English speaker.
Uh, actually, I started my kindergarden in an American kindergarden. All of my teachers were American. And after that, it just went like that for my primary, secondary and high school to U.S. University. So it was also around with the native speakers. All our teachers were native speakers. So we couldn't speak Turkish. So that was the biggest advantage, I guess. That established a level of communication.
So all three of you just had complete immersion in English and you could not escape it and were forced to, yeah.
I watched an interesting documentary on YouTube about the French Foreign Legion. Do you know much about the French Foreign Legion, the Legionnaire?
I heard something, but like...
Because they take foreigners from many European countries and they forced them to speak French and they have no choice but to speak French. And they all end up speaking amazing.
It's a French culture. They love the language. They always kind of promote it everywhere.
Okay. I've got a question, though. How did you learn Russian? You speak such good Russian.
Well, thank you. Is still far from perfect, is it?
Exactly. Well, thing is obviously, I'm here at the school for a few hours a day. And sometimes I need to force myself outside of school to immerse myself. So, yeah, I make sure that I watch a lot of Russian TV.
Oh, wait, you came here one and a half years ago? Yeah. And at that moment, I remember speaking to you in Russian, so obviously you haven't picked it up here?
Well, none of my Russian, when I got here, it was quite elementary, to be honest. My Russian.
Oh, somebody is fishing for compliments here.
No, seriously, though, I had problems. I did have a lot of problems. I just I'm going to the supermarket..
Okay, from the point when it started to the point where you are now, what was your journey?
Well, obviously, I studied Russian. I studied Russian at university from scratch for listeners means the very beginning. And there I also studied Italian. And to be honest, I wish that I had only studied Russian because it kind of distracted me a lot. And then we had a lot of modules in English which so I did not speak like pretty, I didn't speak amazing Russian after I left university. Then I left. I completely forgot about Russian for about six years. And then I came here and I had like, I don't know, like really basic A2 kind of level of Russian and... Well, seriously, it was A2 because I had trouble doing basic things. I mean, of course, I knew how to say "Hello", and I knew how to say a couple of complex sentences, but really, I just forced myself to to watch Russian every single day.
I have at least 3 to 5 hours of Russian in my daily life. Of course, I have a Russian girlfriend, which definitely helps as well and we speak all the time. But yeah, there is no excuse. You have to dive into it. And I would say I would need like another three years until it gets really good. That does, that's my time skill. So I'm giving myself, let's say, five years to go from A2 to C1. I would say I'm somewhere like in the Bs right now and I want to like really take it to the, to the C level. And that takes a long, it's kind of like wine. It takes a long time to mature.
It's a language and wine.
Yeah, exactly. It takes a long time. You have to leave it in the barrel for a while. But you can't take it out of the barrel because if you take it out of the barrel, you're just going to forget a lot.
Was it hard to make yourself speak? I guess when I went to China and I spoke some Chinese, but, I couldn't, you know, just say anything. I couldn't force myself.
Yeah. They won't understand, you know, like they will think I'm stupid, like foreigner, who just..
You know what I've noticed, is that, this is a thought and the mentality we have over here in Russia just because, you know, I've been teaching in the U.S. and I have noticed that American students are not afraid to speak very often. They're not afraid of making a mistake, because we here in Russia, you know, we are while we are studying at school, we hear all the time from our teachers, like, you know, that's a mistake, that's a mistake. Now, instead of like a great mark, you have a good one or a satisfactory one. So and this is how we develop this fear of making mistakes. But I look at my students who are Americans, they are not afraid of anything. And this is goals, really.
Confidence is a huge bedrock of the very foundation of learning languages is motivation.
LIke why, why do you need it?
Exactly. Why do you want it? You just really, really, really want to do it. I mean, everyone has their own motivation. I'm just have a bizarre fascination with Russian, which keeps me going. But other people want to use, want to learn English for work or something. But this motivation is what gets you through this. This scary part. Because it is scary, like you said in China.
That tones, you know and like and I think they still have, you know, this prejudice against foreigners, that they can't speak good Chinese and it really presses you down, you know.
Yeah, it also depends on the language, because there are less foreigners who, well, when I say foreigners, people who did not grow up in the Soviet Union, who speak Russian. So it's more impressive to Russia, so you have that contrast. I'm kind of lucky in that sense that there are not too many English people here try to learn Russian.
You know, I'm amazed by all these people from, you know, like neighboring countries. Like Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, so they actually learn English by themselves, without teachers, without anything. It's like, wow. They can speak, I mean, some Russian.
Because I guess they only use the TV basically.
Or maybe not even that, just you know because they immersed in.
And so yeah. So confidence is a huge thing. I mean, you never have any memories of having to speak English and being scared. Well not really because I guess you learn English from a very young age.
Yeah, I don't have a kind of fear or no stress.
Yeah. For listeners it's okay to make mistakes.
You can't be scared of making mistakes.
That's part of the language. That's how you learn.
You gonna make mistakes. Like, I remember I had a speaking club last year and I mixed up. What was it? It was a "расходы" with "отходы" and it was like really funny. And then I also made a mistake with the famous verb "to писать".
And it was really funny when I, it was just a basic mistake. Like present simple. I write. I guess you guys.
When we were, you know, teenagers, like elementary school students like, oh, that's funny. It sounds so funny.
At the same time, you know, I've noticed is that whenever you make a mistake and you kind of feel embarrassed about that, that's gonna stick.
Exactly, you will remember that forever, exactly.
So, yeah. Use that as an opportunity, you know. But mistakes are totally fine.
But you know, when you succeed finally, when you can actually say something. So, it also sticks. Like, for instance, I still remember when I went to a supermarket, China again, so and asked for water. So I wanted to find some water in the supermarket and I came to the manager and I was like, so "Can you tell me where the water is?" And she understood me, and it was like such a success, you know, I still remember it.
That was a moment of victory.
Although there are moments, you know, when you are at a really high level already, you know, and then you face a person who speaks an accent you're not familiar with. And that's it, this is the moment you are teleported back to your first class school, having forgotten everything.
And also like I said at the start, some people don't need to learn a language to C1 level. I mean, some people like us, we want to. But you guys already have a really high level, extremely high level of English. Some people don't even need to get that level. You might. You don't need to be really upset with yourself if you're at a B1 level, for instance, it's okay. I mean, with B1 you can still communicate in a very..
People have different goals and priorities again. So yeah.
And do you know of any famous Russian celebrities who speak excellent English, who have never lived in, have never lived outside of Russia or who have outside of the Soviet Union? So I can only name a couple.
Well, I mean, the thing is that you wouldn't really know about that unless these people actually, like, you know, move to another country and then they immediately start speaking because, you know, for example, you can talk to a person having absolutely no idea what their level of English is like. So I think it's kind of a hard question for those who have never been to a country like of their target language.
Well, yeah, the point is that, like you said before, you have to be fully immersed in a language to speak it a really high level. And that's why you don't see too many people who speak excellent English, because they just don't have the opportunities to be fully immersed.
I mean, they don't have the opportunity to show it here in Russia, because, let's say, I learned the language mostly at university. That's where I got like, let's say, 70% of my level from university before I even had an opportunity to go abroad.
So it is possible to learn the language without traveling, you know, to the country of your target language.
It is absolute. And that's what we want to. Yeah. We want to show to listeners.
We didn't have a lot of native speakers or teachers. Because I did like at the university we had, you know, some Belgium guys, I mean, not really like native speakers.
They are essentially native speakers. And we're going to talk about this today.
Well, let's say French department had more opportunities when I came to.
Americans and some other nationalities, yeah.
Yeah, I think it only happened like in our last year. In our last year at university. Well like a fourth year. So yeah.
Seriously? Because we had like every year, you know, some people from different countries.
Really, it's like the French department. I don't know, I mean, we started to have some visiting scholars and visiting TAs, you know, when we were in our like fourth year, fifth year series. So yeah, the first three years.
Seriously? That's so interesting.
Did you say your Belgian teacher taught you French or was it English?
Exactly. So, today we gonna talk about films and how films can help us learn English. So if you notice, if you go to Belgium or the Netherlands because they're very similar countries, you will notice that the TV shows all have Dutch or French subtitles, and they watch everything in English. Exactly, they never dubbed. They have no voiceovers.
Whereas here in Russia all the films are voiced over, which I would say deprives people of the opportunity to immerse themselves in the language. So that's why, like, I wasn't surprised the Belgian guy was teaching you English because they are essentially native English speakers. The Dutch. I mean, I tried to learn Dutch a long time ago..
I don't know. A good question!
Well, it's fun. It's like a hobby. Basically, it's a hobby for me. But I tried to learn Dutch a while ago because I went to the Netherlands on holiday every year cause I like to ride my bicycle. Well, I like to ride bicycles and yes, I like to ride my bicycle. And I felt it was kind of silly to keep going to this country and not speak any of the language. And every time I went there, you would notice, of course, they speak excellent English and I tried to practice my Dutch and they said: "Oh, come on, let's just speak English".
This is terrible, yeah. Cause whereas in China you definitely notice they don't really speak much English, it's all there.
So you have that you're forced to practice. Vietnam. You were in Vietnam.
In their everyday life. So you need to learn the language somehow. Yeah.
Vietnamese is not exactly an easy language.
I spent four and half years there. I only know couple of phrases that.
Is it because of the tones or because of voice?..
Tones and that's all about intonation, the intonation and everything. So it's.
It's like Thai and so on.
So it's kind of difficult.
And also Vietnamese, I guess there are less resources for basic learners, whereas Russian and definitely, of course, English, there are so many resources out there to learn the basics, but I guess you only have like probably one little textbook or two textsbooks.
I remember, they tried to teach us the alphabet and the way you need to pronounce the alphabet. Yeah, it took like four months.
So this complete, it's a mixture of Latin alphabet and kind of old umlauts.
Yes, because it was a colony.
Yeah, kind of a French, Latin, kind of different pronunciation. So, it was hard. It was hard like four months or just an alphabet.
And also they don't, there isn't much, I guess there is, of course there are Vietnamese TV shows. Not that I know of any, but they didn't produce too much.
They have, but as you said before, they don't use any kind of subtitles or dub anything.
This is the problem of Russian as well. Like Russian, there are so many cool Russian TV shows.
But you don't understand if you don't know Russian or Vietnamese, yeah.
No subtitles. For any language. So which is a problem.
Yeah. But I was trying to watch "Brigada" which I think most of our listeners might know this, but it's um... Yeah. A crime, obviously. Yeah, it's a crime, it's like a gangster. Would you say it's a gangster? Kind of.
Some sort of TV series. And even though my Russian's pretty good, I still couldn't understand a word they were saying in the film because they were using, like, movie jargon, which is like gangster language. And I was trying to look for good English subtitles, I just could not find any.
Which is the problem with some of the TV shows, movies. So we have to have more subtitles.
Yeah, subtitles. And guys, when you're watching films, don't be ashamed to watch films with subtitles. The subtitles are there to help you.
Yeah. And a lot of people say, oh, I wanna watch this film without subtitles. And there are a B1 level. Don't worry, it's okay. It's fine to watch films.
They're going to get embarrassed because of that.
What sort of shaming is that you know, that some people say: "Oh, you still watch TV shows with subtitles, but you see too. Shut off".
Well, what I've actually started doing is I watch some English TV shows with Russian subtitles. I've actually started finding that to be even more useful than the other way round because I watched, oh, you know, Dave Chappelle is a famous comedian in America.
I was watching on Netflix, I think, two weeks ago, and I just turned on the Russian subtitles and, um, I thought, actually, this is really useful. Like, I'm thinking, how would I say that in Russian? And it just appears at the bottom of the screen. So yeah, if you guys have the opportunity to find Russian films, turn on the English subtitles.
There aren't many films with English subtitles, though. It's actually just the classics.
So possible, yeah, so possible.
Yeah. All right, so let's come on to genres of movies in which genres of..
Movies and TV shows, but which genres are appropriate for different levels? So I would say to start with comedy.
Absolutely. Sitcoms are the best for like beginners, you know, to start with. Because usually sitcoms are, you know, about life situations or comedies, you know, they're about life. So real language, all of that. Just perfect. And then you see the situations. It's kind of easier to understand.
And also, they're using punch lines as a kind of se breef ntences so they can get it easily.
Well, stand-up comedy I would say I would not watch standup comedy.
And it's because they use a lot of cultural references. So I tried to watch "Gorodok", you know, that funny TV show. I couldn't really understand a lot of it because they have a lot of cultural references that I would not know about.
But, it's pretty old, it's like 20 or 25 years ago.
So yeah, but for stand-up comedy, it's absolutely C1 preferably, because I mean, okay. I'm watching stand-up comedy, you know, from time to time. But even though I have lived in the U.S., I'm familiar with the culture, sometimes there are cultural references to the past, you know, to some famous shows and everything that I do not get. So I have to Google, you know, the names and everything.
It's fun too, you know, you learn something new.
Well, obviously, yeah, but just don't go in there if you like Intermediate.
It's going to demoralize. Yeah, discourage.
Like you said, sitcoms. So let's recommend some sitcoms for, let's say, Intermediate level. So, "Friends", for sure.
I don't really understand all the fuss about friends, I have to be honest.
Oh my God, have you seen the videos where zoomers like kids who are now, like, 18? 19?
They watched "Friends" for the first time in their life. And they are they're so they cringe all the time. They're like, oh, my God, this is the most sexist TV show, most inappropriate jokes.
So when you watch "Friends", you have to keep in mind it was in the nineties. You can't see that anymore. That was in the nineties or like you can't say that anymore. So try to find something more modern. I would surely advise a cartoon series actually. Oh, which is "We Bare Bears". How about that? It's really, I mean, every episode is 10-11 minutes. It's about situations in life, of course, it's about three bears who live in San Francisco, but still.
So let's see how they start working in a new bar or how they go to, you know, like a supermarket, something like "Whole Foods" with all organic food. And they are denied a plastic bag. So these are very life related situations very often. So, how they are evicted of their house. So 10-11 minutes, I think, it's amazing, you don't get tired, you know, from watching it.
And do you, would you advise adults who are at an Intermediate level to watch little kids shows?
I think it's a great idea because a lot of people know more advanced words, but they don't know how to say basic words about movements.
Yeah, I remember I was in the second year of education and I watched some kind of series like, it was "Friends", I think, probably. And there were some words like really simple, basic words. And I didn't know them because I learned, you know, like different tropes and stuff like that. Like metaphore, eupheumism, yeah, something that. But I didn't know like some basic words. It was like kinda embarrassing, you know.
Exactly. When I first came here, I knew some complicated words in Russian, but I didn't know some basic things. And I had a group of little kids to teach and I had to think how to tell them "Don't pick your nose".
And I looked, what was it, "Не ковырять в носу". And I just didn't know that before I came here. And you have to watch kids shows like little things like that too.
Because if you're just reading the news or just reading journalistic style pieces, you're not going to learn these basic words.
Exactly. All right. So what other genres do you recommend for Intermediate learners of English?
Romantic comedies, maybe.
Rom-coms are good, yeah, for learning.
Chick flick, what the hell is chick flick?
It's kind of more female oriented films that they can express their feelings more than the men.
Don't think it's example.
I mean, like, is it different from a rom-com?
I'm going to sound a bit sexist, but they done more for you. Sorry, guys, I'm a little bit.
I didn't say that, all right?
Cause I've never heard the term "chick flick".
Oh, chick flick. It is actually quite a big. Yeah, it's like a genre in and of itself. So that was, yeah I had some examples. I forgot. Okay, nevermind.
Films, maybe though I do have a secret chick flick that I actually liked, which is really funny. "Mean girls".
Yeah, I was about to say "Mean Girls".
That was a funny film. That was a funny film, so, yeah. "Mean girls" well just for our listeners who don't know, it takes place in an American high school and it's about girls gossiping about boys and other stuff like that.
You can also just put "Gossip Girl" as a TV series, as a chick flick.
Oh, yeah. And was the TV series "Sex and the City".
"Sex and the City", "Gossip Girl".
Yes, that's a chick flick genre.
Cause it's not just specifically for girls.
And guys wouldn't probably watch it.
I didn't understand what they are talking about, what's the point of the show. So yeah that was kind of.
Okay, okay. I've got it. Oh that's a good one. That's a good one.
Well, so have you seen that series or have you started watching that? Sex and the City".
Yeah, I just saw one episode maybe. And that's it. It's kind of, I don't know, it's boring. And at the same time, you know, it's kind of..
It's just not your thing, just not your thing.
The girls only need to know things and boys and speak about it and stuff like that. But it's not true. Girls don't only speak about these things. Yeah, I mean.
Wow, designated sexist thing.
But in general, if we're talking about genres, I think that intermediate students are kind of, they have more variety now. They have more freedom. And then when you are an Advanced level, oh, you, you can watch whatever you want. But then again, sometimes there are TV shows, let's say, oh, what is it, "M.D. House", "The Big Bang Theory". You kind of understand the plot. But then there are so many terms and people like, "Oh, I don't understand what they're saying". I'm like, look, do you understand this stuff in Russian? Because I, I sure don't understand, you know, like Theoretical Physics stuff in Russian. So I just ignore this part, whatever language I watch the TV.
You can still understand from the context.
And of course, English having so many dialects, there are going to be some dialects that you just do not understand.
So it's okay. I mean, in America. Well, the funny thing is, is for English people, we of course, we can understand Scottish people mostly and Irish people, but Americans can't understand Scots.
I've seen an interview with James McAvoy is in college. And you remember he played an X-Men, you know, like Magneto, I think. So and the director of the show, he told him to speak with an American accent, even outside of the set. Yeah. Even offset. And he was like, oh, you, you, you worry that I won't be as good with my American accent while acting. He's like, "No, James, I just have no idea what you say when you're speaking with your Scottish accent".
The funniest things is that it's actually easier for Americans to imitate British accents, whereas it's much harder for British people to do.
I can't imitating American accents in the office. I can't.
It's difficult. The English accents easier to imitate, because I guess it's stiffer and it's easier to make a stiff mouth.
Rather than saying all the R's.
Whereas the American accent is has a much looser mouth and it's kind of hard to make your mouth loose once.
Yeah, and... Yeah. So it's really funny how Americans can't understand Scots, but Scots can completely understand Americans, mainly because coming back to the subject of immersion in England and Scotland, we're completely immersed with American TV's. Yeah. Whereas in Scotland they don't.
And English, British English, American English, they're almost two kind of almost two different languages in a way. You actually have translators, especially in translation.
You know what, and you know what. So I spent all five years at university, we were taught British English, the RP and everything. And I still cherish that moment. I'll remember it forever when people in London thought I was a local.
Good old days. So I came to the U.S. and I understood immediately that I have to learn some words over there when I asked, you know, for an aubergine and then.. You know, in a supermarket. Like "The what?"
So, and the thing is that I was having conversation, I was using some words and people like, "Oh, what?" Like, what is it? Oh, honey, like, you know, it's a different word, you made a mistake and was like, "Oh, damn, still don't know". Long was only to realize after, you know, like a year that I did not make a mistake. That was just a British word. Really mad.
And by the way, for people sitting IELTS exams. Well, I don't think you can do an IELTS exam..
But in Kazakhstan, if you do an IELTS exam, you have to choose one. You can only do American English or British English.
Can you imagine how annoying that is? Cause for example I am now a mix of different words from British and American language like American English. I do not tell them apart. I do not remember where I picked up this word from. You just picked it up.
And even in England, we use American words in our daily life, for instance, um, do you know the word "ballpark"? So we hit it out to the ballpark, or there's a ballpark figure. That's a ballpark figure. That's an American word. It comes from baseball. And we use this even in England as well. Or we could even say the word "couch", which is like a more American word for "sofa" and.. Yeah.
Yeah, there are so many differences, though, in little words like "trunk". What would you call a "trunk", boots?
Yeah, it is the "bonnet".
"Petrol", "gas". So many things.
Yeah. When I worked in a hotel in Las Vegas, I asked people for: "What's your surname?" And they said, "But what do you mean, surname?" Last night is boss name. Yeah.
Like, "What's your major"? What's my wall?
Guys, what do you teach more? Like, okay, if we speak about these examples or anything, "last name" in some student's books they still is like "surname". For example, "Empower" take that, yeah. So what do you teach more?
That's a really good question, actually. I actually even though I'm, I would actually say American English, probably. It's a factor too. It's better to introduce to. To learners of English.
A spelling. Well, my computer's British English. So whenever I mark homework or do something like that, it will be British. But American English is more accessible. Not because it's easier.
Much more people speak it.
Exactly, exactly. Much more people understand it through popular culture. Yeah.
Anyway. Would you guys say that you are a fiction person or nonfiction person?
That's so interesting, why boys are nonfiction, girls like fiction.
I'm just, you know, I'm escaping from reality. Not only am I a fiction person. I'm a fantasy-genre-person.
Documentaries all the way. Sometimes I like a little bit of fantasy in nonfiction or.. I don't know, some reason I really like James Bond because even though it is fantasy, it is fantasy, but it's real as well. Like a kind of picturing my daily life. Whereas, "Lord of the Rings" all get out of here. I can't stand that.
Lot of people, actually. Maybe it's just me, but I hate "Lord of the Rings".
Well, it was really nice knowing you, Benjamin, have a good luck!
Bells Creek, meow and the talking trees. Get out of here. I don't want..
That's so fun. You can see imagination working, you know. It's like...
So, okay, what is it a "documentaries" for you?
Well, let's bring it back to learning languages. So, for instance, for learning languages much rather watching reality TV, fantasy TV. So any, and also in reality TV, this is a gold mine for dialog.
Okay, for love, for the sake of learning languges.
Sake of learning languages.
With this goal in mind. Yeah, absolutely.
So for instance, I watch "Беременна в 16", "Pregnant at 16". Brilliant show. Amazing show, I would never..
Ah, when we talk about nonfiction, we talk about that as well?
That's nonfiction and this kind of nonfiction, I guess, reality TV.
But at the same time, it depends on what exactly you watch or read. But takers. I was reading a book about trees and I'm not sure I'm going to use the word like "fundie" or "lovey" in my life.
But that's another point, because if you want to get to a C1 or above level, you need to know words like this.
You will never know when this will come your way.
Somebody would say this word to you and you won't understand.
And I guess the genre when we talk about the genres, it all depends on what your goal is. Like, to learn the words or, you know, to get some new information, nonfiction it is. Just to have some sort of extensive watching to get used to the accent maybe. It can be anything. I mean, look, when I was training my accent, I would turn on an episode of "Doctor Who" and just watch it and then turn all the subtitles, read it together with a character trying to mimic that intonation.
Yeah, it's a good idea to parrot people.
So what I'm doing now with one of the TV shows as well, just, you know, a fun. It's actually became a habit, I got used to that, I can't stop doing that, which is a problem.
Yeah, it's a good idea to make fun of people's accents. And that way you can actually kind of copy it in a way. Ugur, can you do a funny British accent?
I don't think so, but one of the lines from the "Doctor Who" I remember, he was saying "surrender" in a really funny way: "Surrender!"
Oh my God, speaking of "Doctor", I have to share. Oh, well, you know, I'm waving my nerd flag, you know, with pride, so in the latest season, Doctor had a new companion so and the name of the actor who played him was, I think, it's John Bishop, who happens to be from Liverpool. So when I was watching his, you know, like an interview with him or something and he's like the BBC accused him of leaking, you know, the information that his character is going to be from Liverpool. He's like, "Listen to me, I have the thickest Liverpool accent that can possibly be". And when I was listening to him, he's like, "I would expect something like Aminu companion for Doctor Who", instead I heard "Aminu Companio for Doctor U".
Yeah, Scouse accent is a Liverpudlian accent. Yes, to be honest.
Yeah, that's that accent, I'm sorry. I know I sound horrible here, but it makes me laugh so much.
Oh, trust me, I've got into a lot of bad situation when I was making fun of Scottish accent, so I understand.
Well, yeah. They get very sensitive about it, but it's really funny when they do English accents, it makes me laugh a lot. There's this famous comedian called Frankie Boyle, and he's a very dark, dark Scottish comedian. And it's really funny when he imitates British English people.
You know what I have to say about accent, though? We as non-native speakers, have the freedom to choose whatever accent we have.
Well, it goes practically all natives, or, you know, you're basically there..
I mean, you know, when we are learning... It's whatever you prefer. You want to switch to American, you can have class and then switch to that. Nobody's going to say a thing. For example, if you suddenly switched American accent, I'm pretty sure your family and friends are just gonna mock you. Make fun of you.
Yeah, if I went on holiday somewhere and I come back with a Russian accent.
So it was like whenever students tell me, like, I want to work in my accent, I don't want to sound like a Russian, I would say, "But why"? Accent is part of who you are. And then, you know why choose one? Like you can speak with whatever accent you want as long as you don't make mistakes, you know, and get confused and misunderstood. You have this freedom, enjoy it.
This is how industry of accent reduction in Russia and I just don't see why people should buy into it. The most important thing is just that you speak correctly. You stress the words correctly. So for instance, let's say, let's just give an example of a word that you need to stress correctly. Um, "read" and "read" or "live" and "life", you don't wanna say "I live" in England.
Oh, for example, you know, you have this problem with the first sound, yeah. "Mouse" - "mouth". Yes. Everybody makes mistakes. So, it's kind of confuses people a bit maybe.
Occasionally, you know, not, occasionally quite often it does. That's the most important thing because still speak beautiful English with a heavy Russian accent and still sounds really cool.
I have, I always give an example when people like, "Well, you know, what if I speak with a Russian accent, like I know a lot like. While I was in the U.S., I got to meet and got to work with a lot of professors from different universities, including Yale, MIT, Harvard, and for example, I know personally, you know, professor from Yale, who teaches Russian as a Ph.D., really respected professor with a very thick Russian accent. Does that make her any less respectable? Well, no.
Yeah. If anything, it's more respectable because if you can use very complicated words and still keep your accent, actually makes you sound even more intelligent than authentic. Whereas if you have like a like kind of plastic surgery to your accent is kind of like, oh, it's like you were born in the country. You should know these words if you see what I mean. So, whatever you think of him, Sergei Lavrov, you know the foreigners, his English is impeccable.
It's absolutely amazing, which is why he's been foreign minister for so long. And even though he still has a heavy Russian accent, It's amazing listening to him in interviews because he doesn't use basic words. He uses very complicated words. He understands idioms. And this sounds great. And it's, yeah.
Yeah. But I still remember a head teacher of French at the university. And she had like really, really heavy accent in French.
That's like, and I mean most of us were already speaking with better accent than her, like, second year, you know. So, and we were kind of making fun of her, you know? It's like "I love".. Something that.
The French accent is probably one of the coolest accents in English.
No-no-no, she was speaking French with Russian accent.
Oh, okay. That's hilarious. Yeah.
My favorite... Yeah, my favorite combination is Chinese with Italian. I remember when I was in Italy, I heard a lot of Chinese people. It was good Italian, but it was quite interesting to hear.
Oh, I can't even imagine.
Yeah, yeah. Oh. So, guys, you don't need to get rid of your accent. You can keep your accent. Just focus on speaking correctly. Only own it. Exactly. Focus on expanding your vocabulary and, of course, making your grammar as tight as possible. All right, well, what would you say? Let's move on to British TV versus American TV. What would you say are the main differences between British humor and American humor. Have you noticed any major differences in the modern day? Was it only a few decades ago that you would notice the differences?
British humor is more straightforward than American, I guess. American humor is kind of dark, hidden. And you need to just...
I would say British viewers can be... Well, maybe not so much now in modern days, but it's very dark.
A lot of Americans don't understand it.
You can go out if you like.
But then again, some Americans have funny dark humor. So for instance, like I said before, Dave Chappelle, he has hilariously dark humor.
I think, nowadays, you know, with the globalization, all that stuff. It's kind of like erasing the difference.
And, you know, if we think about some of the movies like, you know, high budget movies, really popular ones. They no longer American movie or British movie. It's a combination. Well, let's say think about a TV show, "Black Mirror". Like it's American comedian and British.
Mm hmm. So speaking about the humor, have you seen "The Boys"?
"The Boys", you said. Actually, no.
This is the third season came out.
Yes, actually, I've just watched the first episode.
So, "The Boys" is based...
It is American. And it's really dark humor. It's basically the idea of...
Superheroes being commercialized so they do stuff for money.
They save people for money, you know, they like pop stars, basically
But there is one character over there who's British and, you know, it shows. It's a very, It's very gory, though. Like a so much blood.
Oh, by the way, "gory". Great word for our listeners. Violence, horror. Yeah. It's "gory". Definitely use it, yeah.
Oh, how would you explain "explicit" to our audience? That's a great word.
I would say "explicit" -- with a lot of, like, sexual scene.
So, and basically, you know, "The Boys" is gory and explicit in a nutshell. Like, that's these are the two words that...
Mm hmm. This is why Katya's C1, because she says "in a nutshell", "gory", "explicit". All right, so, guys, you've got some work to do, you have to immerse yourself in TV and films to get that kind of level, yeah.
Or in lessons with us. So, visit BigAppleSchool website for more information.
So, yeah, the point is that nowadays it's no longer just a British thing or an American thing. It's a universal thing. Like, I would say that there is no difference anymore. Sometimes, you know, the humor might be a little bit different, but then you can't really explain what it is like. You just feel it like it's different.
Yeah, just the cultural differences in terms of, well, for instance, if you go, well, coming back to Stand-up comedy, if you watch a British Stand-up comedy show, you'd have to know everything about life in England, for instance. Do you know what it would mean if I said: "You should have gone to Specsavers"? What does that mean? You should have gone to space. You have to live in England to understand what that means, because "Specsavers" is a chain of opticians. It's like a it's a shop, it's a chain of opticians.
And they have a TV adverts in the UK which says, which makes fun of people who can't see things properly and, and when they can't see the advert says at the end you should have gone to Specsavers and bought glasses. And I remember there was a comedy, it was a comedian who made a joke about this. And how would you understand that unless you lived in that country?
So, or another thing, "nectar points". You should have got your nectar points. What is that?
The juice shop or something?
Yeah. Next is obviously juice, but "nectar points" was in the points cards that you get at "Sainsbury's" which is a big supermarket in the UK, so, yeah.
Interesting. It's like equivalent to the "brownie points" in America?
"Brownie points" are, yeah, cause I guess brownies were the girls who would go around.
Yeah. It's from the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts thing. So yeah, it is all the cultural stuff. So makes a kind of different.
Yeah. That's what makes it different, the two different from each other. But other than, I guess you're right, the humor is kind of the same nowadays because you have some dark people, you have some not so dark people.
Whereas in the past, I definitely would say that English humor used to be darker. People did not understand Monty Python when it came out because it was...
It's funny. A lot of Americans didn't understand it, yeah.
Actually, I have a friend, and surprisingly, he recommended me "Monty Python". You know, and it was quite so funny. I've never heard of it. Okay, I have heard of it.
It was really controversial what the "Life of Brian" you said, that's controversial when it came out because, obviously, people used to be much more religious the "Life of Brian" so basically it's about the life of Christians, it's mocking, yeah, Jesus Christ and it is a funny film.
So the Brits, the British people, they're more about, you know, kind of making fun of the church. Something like that. Whereas in the USA there's still some kind of respect.
Well maybe not so much these days, but.
What I'm trying to think because I remember some of the stand up comedy shows that I watched and I am trying to desperately trying to remember the name of the comedian who's really, you know, who's really successful in Britain. But in America they're like no, that is.
Oh, Jimmy Carr. He got in trouble recently. He made a..
Lot of them got in trouble.
He made a yeah, he's funny.
But he's like one of those next.
It's one of those things that you watch and you're laughing and then you say, like, I shouldn't be laughing at the kids who are.
The reason that he got in big trouble, I think it was almost like a career ending. So I would urge, you know, what joke this was? I'm probably not good. I'm just not going to say.
No, no, no, no, no. I think you've had to be safe.
Yeah. So yeah, basically it's about the Holocaust and we're not going to.
Jokes about things you shouldn't ever joke, you know.
I mean, some people, I mean, like myself, like a bit of dark humor, but some people don't.
It's okay to like, yeah, whatever, you know, whatever floats your boat, which is a great idiom to know. "Whatever floats your boat" means whatever you prefer, essentially. So yeah, we were talking about differences between British and American comedy. I guess they have kind of melted in together.
One of the biggest examples is the Peter Sellers.
So this blending of American and British comedy, the "Pink Panther".
Yes. That's a great example.
The Inspector Clouseau character is kind of.
Yeah, he was great. "Pink Panther". Yeah. Wait, when did he die? He died a while back and he.. Peter Sellers.
I guess it's, it was around nineties or something. Yeah, that was nineties. "The party", the "Pink Panther" and "Being there" or.. "Being There".
"Being There", Yes I remember that film. That was a great film about the president and the gardener, yeah.
The life of the gardener and all the downs and everything.
Yes. Classic film. Moving on platforms. Which platforms would you recommend to our listeners to access?
How you feel about pirating? Because I'm using a platform which I pay for, but you can watch like all the TV shows, a lot of movies that come out, you know, and they came out recently and actually as they come out, they are uploaded to the platform. And technically it's not really legal to upload all these, you know, movies and TV shows over there, but they position themselves as an English learning platform.
That's they're not really breaking any laws because they are not doing and uploading the videos for people to download.
Don't really get a purpose.
For them to learn English.
Yeah. I mean, it's "ORORO".
And it's like €5 per month, so it's really affordable, you know?
Okay, that's interesting.
Yeah. Yeah. "Ororo", yeah.
I mean, like, whatever comes out, it's there the very same day. Because, let's say, I used to be a Netflix user, but you can't use Netflix anymore.
Well you can use Netflix with a VPN. Or is it not legal to watch Netflix?
I'm having troubles. with Netflix for couple of days like.
And then you can't pay for it.
Of course you can't pay for it.
If you have a Russian card, you can't pay for it. It limited with options these days, but...
You still have YouTube or YouTube is still here. So at least YouTube, I mean.
But I mean YouTube, you can't just type in like "Doctor Who" season 13, episode 15, you know.
Yeah. For TV seasons. Yeah, you're right. You don't have too many..
But for nonfiction, for reality, it's a goldmine.
Well, not. They don't upload everything because I was trying to watch. Okay, don't laugh at me, but "My 600-lb Life".
Oh, is that like really heavy person?
Yeah. So it's about people who weigh about like £700, which is like 300 kilograms, and their life and how they try to get...
Or something, like what's the name of the doctor?
Yeah, something. Oh, yeah.
So and it's about people who tried to get the surgery of the stomach reduction and everything.
I'm going to watch that when I get home.
That's interesting to watch how people got to this stage when they started to weigh, you know, £600. And it kind of shows the problem with the food system in America as well. You know, it's kind of like, you know, it's about people, but at the same time, it's about bigger problem. So I sometimes watch it.
No pun intended, I guess.
A bigger effect by my show.
But I would imagine that show is a goldmine for learning English because you have a lot of dialog, whereas films you have many minutes of just silence and music.
The thing is that movies as well, you know, they are how many cuts they can have. Like no idea. But let's say in videos, TV shows seem like they're great, but still it's not a real speech sometimes. Let's say YouTube people, let's say interviews. I find interviews amazing because you show people, you know, an interview. For example, I recently showed my students in interview with Chris Evans.
Typical American accent. But he was speaking then, changing his mind that he was saying this and then that and there's this and they're like, "What?" Like, this is real speech. It's, you know, pop pauses and everything.
It's not rehearsed, it's just.
Exactly. Exactly. So interviews are also great thing. YouTube is helpful with that because it has all of the episodes of like "Jimmy Fallon Talk Show", "Graham Norton Show".
"Graham Norton Show" also would be quite hard for people to understand as well because who are not from the UK, because they have many little cultural references as wel.
But at the same time it have a lot of American.
It's true. They do, actually. Yeah. So you guys, you have no excuse. You have YouTube there, you have no more Netflix.
But what other English language platforms would you recommend? I would just say it's a pure YouTube video on YouTube. I know. I know this is not new information for most of you, guys, unless you're 90 years old. So yeah, it's not groundbreaking. Tik Tok. Great. Great suggestions. Instagram? Oh yeah. Definitely.
You know it, I mean, look, you have, you may learn so much from Instagram as well. Like when you start watching reels, for example, let's say there is a common situation when people, let's say my students, when they want to say about money, they're like, "Oh, can you send money to my card?" I'm like, "You may say, Can you top up my card?"
Where did I learn that from initially? Yeah, Instagram.
Absolutely. So guys, to wrap it up. You need to be immersed in the language in order to learn the language to a really high level. Do not be upset with yourself if you've been learning or if you've been trying to improve your English for six months and you don't see much progress.
Oh yeah, I have the students, you know, especially elementary students. And you learn for, you know, one month. And they like: "I don't see the progress".
You don't understand yet.
Lifehack, which I kind of wish I had done sooner. But now when I start having classes with some new students, I record them six months and they're like, "I don't really feel something like have I made much progress?"
I show them the video. They're like, "Oh, my God, that was me." Yeah, exactly. You didn't know how to read or didn't know that. And now you do. Or show them, you know, some of our first chats from Zoom. "Do you know this was, like, easy. Like, why did you show them to me?" "Like, because these were words you did not know when we started having classes."
Exactly, it's like a flower or a tree growing. It takes a bloody long time to really, yeah, to mature in your language learning. So, yeah. But you're only going to get there if you have at least an hour to three or more hours immersed in language every day. You have to watch TV.
Even like half an hour would help, if you're intimidated by the sound of 1-2 hours every day, just trust me. As long as you do even the minimum thing. Consistently helps.
Yes. But as long as you do it consistently, like Katya said, you will make progress almost. It is guaranteed. It is guaranteed. And of course, if you come to us at the BigAppleSchool, it is definitely going to help as well. But that's part of it. We're the protein powder. Your home is your gym. So yeah, come to our actually, you know, we're not protein powder, we're steroids. We gonna boost you.
So, yeah. All right, let's finish that for today. Thank you very much, guys, for participating. And we definitely recommend that you check out our social media platforms and like us on those platforms, including VK and Telegram and also check out our website www.bigappleschool.com for more information about the courses we offer. And you can also find other interesting podcasts like this one on our website. So that's it. Thank you very much. See you next time.