Hi. Welcome to engVid. I’m Adam. In today’s video I want to talk to you about
how to improve your listening. Now, there’re a few things I’m going to talk
about. And, again, this is all from my own personal
experience having taught for nearly 20 years. And I’ve taught people from all over the world,
and there’s one aspect of listening to English that I think is very troublesome for a lot
of people. And it doesn’t really even have to do much
with English itself; not with the language. Okay? It has to do with culture. Now, a lot of people who are studying English
are using textbooks; they’re only studying from textbooks to improve their listening
and improve their vocabulary, their grammar, etc. The problem with textbooks is that they are
very limited in terms of the exposure you’re getting to the language. Now, “exposure” means what you’re basically
coming in contact with; what you’re seeing, what you’re hearing, what you’re reading. So, if you’re only looking at textbooks, you’re
getting very simple English, even if you’re doing high-level… Like, advanced-level textbooks, they’re still
very focus on very specific contexts that they want you to study. And another thing they’re not doing is they’re
not putting a lot of informal language into these books. Okay? So, now, that’s why we’re going to look at culture. Now, the thing to remember about language,
and again, this is not only English; this is… This is any language that you might want to study. Language is a living thing. It evolves. Okay? Language evolves – means it changes over time. But it has a memory. Okay? And this is the problem because you have to
keep up with the new language, plus you have to understand the references to the old language
or to the old points of reference. Okay? And that’s what we’re talking about, here:
Lack of reference. So, you might be watching a movie or even
a TV show, or you’re speaking to some people in… Local people in the place where you’re speaking
English, and they might say something. They may say a joke, for example, or they
may talk about a situation, like politics or anything like that, and they’re making
a reference to something. Now, you heard it correctly, you heard the
words, but you have no idea what they’re talking about. Okay? And the problem, here, again: It’s not the
language; it’s the fact that the thing that they referred to, you just don’t know what
that… What they’re talking about. Okay? So, for example: Sports, literature, movies
– these are major points of reference for a lot of people. Okay? And think about, again, where you’re going
to be studying… Where you’re going to be speaking English. If you’re planning to go to the US and you’re
studying American English, but then you come to the States and you have no idea what anybody’s
talking about half the time – again, some of it is just the language, but a lot of it
is the cultural references. So, let’s talk about sports as an example. Americans love sports, and sports is such
a big part of everyday life in the US that a lot of the language from sports makes its
way into everyday speech. Okay? So, if somebody says: “Okay, well, the ball’s
in your court.” They’re talking about a situation: “I’ve done
everything I can.” Like, my friend and… My friend and his girlfriend had a fight. And he apologized and he bought her some flowers,
and he did everything he could. Now the ball’s in her court. And you’re thinking there, like: “Ball? Like, what does ‘ball’ have to do with anything? What does ‘court’ have to do with a girlfriend/boyfriend
fight?” What this means: “The ball is in your court”… So, think about basketball. You have a basketball court. When the ball is in my court, when I have
the possession of the ball, it means I’m in control of the ball. So, I control the play; I decide to go this
way, this way, up the middle, up the sides, slow, fast; I control the tempo, I control
the direction. So, to say: “The ball’s in your court” means
that you have the control… The decision on how to proceed is now yours. So, if his girlfriend… If the ball’s in his girlfriend’s court, he
did everything he can, now she must decide and continue the process. Okay? That’s from basketball. So, there was a business meeting-okay?-and
we sent one of our company’s representatives to the client’s office to try to convince
them not to leave; not to go to the competitor. And the guy came back and I say: -“So, how
did the…? How did his meeting go?” -“Totally dropped the ball.” And you’re listening, and you’re going: “Ball
again? What’s with this ball? Everybody’s holding a ball? Like, was it juggling? Are they playing basketball here, too?” No. Here, they’re using football analogy. American football. So, the player catches the ball and he’s running
down the field, and he gets tackled. If he drops the ball… Now, they also call it “fumble”. You could say: “Oh, he totally fumbled it.” Or: “He… He dropped the ball.” Same meaning. If the ball drops, the other team can pick
it up and run the opposite direction, and score and you’re going to lose the game. So: “If somebody dropped the ball” means he
did a very bad job; he made a big mistake, and there’s going to be negative consequences. But if you know nothing about football and
you don’t know any of the language about football… And Americans love football, and they’re going
to use the football language all the time. In fact, I’m going to make a video about sports
expressions in everyday conversation to help you guys out; but for now, an example. Sports, if you’re going to the States: Learn
about football, learn about baseball, learn about basketball because these words are going
to be used in everyday conversation. In literature. Catch-22 is a famous novel by Joseph Heller. And “catch-22” is an everyday expression;
it means either way you look at a situation, it’s a bad outcome. For example, in the common… The most common example of a catch-22: When
you graduate high… University, you want to find a job. Most companies want you to have job experience. But if you… If you need job experience to get a job, then
you can’t get the job to get the experience. Right? So, it’s a catch-22; either way, you can’t
do anything. And this came from the novel. But it doesn’t mean that everybody has read
this novel, but everybody knows this expression made famous by this novel. Or: “A rose by any other name”. Now, this is a line from Shakespeare, and
a lot of Shakespeare’s language is used in everyday conversation. Most people don’t realize it’s from Shakespeare,
but they know the expression. “A rose by any other name is still a rose.” So, you can look at something, and you can
call it something else; you don’t change the fact of what the situation is. So, if you can look at a… Let’s say politics. You look at a particular situation: The president
did this, but he called it something else that sounds good. He did something bad, he called it, like,
philanthropy – it’s still something bad. You can change the name; you can’t change
the fact. But… And another thing to keep in mind: Remember
I said: “A rose by any other name is still a rose”? People who are familiar with these expressions
– they’re going to use half the expression; they’re not going to use the full expression
because saying half is enough. Everybody understands the ending; they don’t
need to say it. Okay. So, you need to read a lot of stuff. Movies. And both of these two come from the same movie,
actually. Very famous movie. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.” I forgot the “anymore”. “I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore” means
we’re in a very strange situation; we don’t know what to do because everything is not
like the way it’s supposed to be. Or: “Well, he saw what’s behind the curtain
and he lost all hope”, or faith, or whatever. Both of these expressions come from the movie
The Wizard of Oz. Dorothy says to her dog Toto, when they wake
up after the tornado… They’re looking around. You got, like, a yellow-brick road, you got
little munchkins running around, and a witch. A good witch, a bad witch, and everything:
“Oh, what…? What’s going on? I’m a little confused. I don’t think… Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore”
means we’re in a strange situation; we have to adjust. “To see what’s behind the curtain”. So, Oz was this great and powerful wizard,
but then Toto went and pulled back a curtain, and they could see a little, old man using
some machines. So, when you see what’s behind the curtain,
you see that there’s no real secret to it; there’s no great power to something. It’s a very simple thing made to look like
something else. But, again, if you’ve never heard of the movie,
The Wizard of Oz, and somebody uses this expression, you’re not going to understand. You heard: -“I don’t think…” -“Okay. ‘I don’t think’, I know this.” -“…we are in Kansas.” -“‘we are’, okay. I think Kansas is a state in the US. We’re not in Kansas. No, we’re in New York. What does Kansas have to do with it?” So, you don’t know because that’s not what
it actually means; it means something else. Okay? “Show me the money” from the movie Jerry Maguire
– Tom Cruise: “You show me the money. Show me the money.” Right? It’s a good movie, by the way; you should
watch it. But what does this mean now? “Show me the money” means: Prove it. Talk – cheap. I don’t care about what you have to say; show
me something, do something to convince me. Now, great. All of these things… You know all the words, you heard all the
words, but you don’t understand them, so how are you going to fix this situation? You have to engage the culture of the country
you’re going to, or the country you want to learn about. If you want to learn about the States, watch
sports, watch Hollywood movies. You want to go to England, watch whatever
sports they play, like soccer, or rugby, or lacrosse, or cricket, or whatever. Learn those languages… Learn those words and expressions. Figure out what is popular in the culture. And again, there’s a reason it’s called “pop
culture”. And if you’re not sure what “pop culture”
means – “pop” means popular. Find out what is popular in the culture, because
these things will be referred to. And especially learn a little bit about the
history of the nation. Right? Americans and British, they always make references
to historical characters, or historical situations or events in modern contexts. Okay? Everybody knows Napoleon, and Napoleon is
always brought up in whatever contexts today even. Now, how are you going to do this? Read newspapers. You all have an internet connection; you’re
watching this on the internet. Start reading local newspapers, start reading
the national newspapers-okay?-from the country you’re going to, and look at the expressions
they’re using. If you come across something and you understand
the words, but you don’t understand the sentence – look it up; figure out what you can… What it means. An… One place to do this, you can Google this:
Look for an urban dictionary. An urban dictionary is the dictionary not
like Merriam-Webster’s or an Oxford dictionary. It will tell you the meanings of certain words
and expressions as they are used in pop culture. Right? An urban dictionary can be very useful. Don’t learn grammar from it; don’t study it
for your IELTS, TOEFL, CAE, whatever exam you’re taking. Use it to learn how to speak to everyday people
on the street. Watch TV shows from the area you’re going
to. Watch movies made from the area you’re going
to. Now, if you want to pick up on the slang and
a bit more of the pop culture-and this might sound a little bit weird-watch YouTube videos
created by young people in the area you’re going to. Now, I’m not too young. I’m not that old, but I’m not that young either. There are… There’s a lot of slang that people use these
days that I don’t even know what they mean. I can guess because of the context and I can
guess because some of the references, but for somebody learning English, this will sound
like complete jibberish. Now, it’s still pretty popular, but if you
talk about a person who’s a “trainwreck”, okay? So, especially when you’re talking about,
like, Hollywood actors or actresses: “Oh, she… Like, I think Lindsay Lohan”… I don’t know if everybody knows Lindsay Lohan:
“She was a total trainwreck.” Now, if you think about a train, you have
one train going this way, another train going this way – it’s a big mess. And when you say someone is a trainwreck – means
that… That person’s life is a complete mess; it’s
a disaster. They destroyed everything that they had, and
now they’re, like, basically nothing. Okay? Now, on the other hand… And we’re… I’m still going to go on the motif of trains. I don’t know if this is still popular, but
it was popular for a little while. “Off the rails”. Again, when we’re talking about “off the rails”,
you have your train tracks – those are called rails. So, these guys are the rails. If it’s off the rails, it means it’s, like,
lost control. But this is actually a good thing. If you go to the party and: -“How’s the party?” -“Oh, it’s off the rails”, or whatever. It’s really good. It’s so out of control that it’s really good. But at the same time, “off the rails” can
also be very bad. Right? So: “The meeting went off the rails” means
we lost control and the whole thing fell apart, and the whole meeting was a terrible failure. Now, if you’re going to hear this… People are going to use this in everyday speech. This is not so common in writing because it’s
too casual, but in everyday speech you’re going to hear these words all the time. Now, if you understand what a train is and
you understand what a wreck is, it doesn’t mean you’re going to understand what the people
are talking about because you don’t have the cultural connection; you’re not connected
to the culture of the place. So, the bottom line here: Get out of the text
books, at least a little bit, and learn real English. But do it as a complement. Complement your textbook studies with real
studies; books, newspapers, magazines, online articles, TV shows, movies, YouTube channels. Now, I’m personally shocked by just how many
channels there are on YouTube now and how many different ways you can learn to put on
makeup, or how many different ways you can learn DIY. Everything these days is DIY: Do It Yourself. DIY decorating, DIY this, DIY that. Or: “lifehacks”, this is another buzzword. And I’ve watched some of these lifehack videos,
and I… I mean, kind of… Some of them are a bit ridiculous; some of
them are, like, kind of funny; some of them are actually pretty useful. But for you, these are all very good videos
because you’re going to hear real people without a script just talking, talking like they would
to their friends because they view their audience as their friends. Listen to your friends. Let your friends talk to you. Join the comment section. Get into the comments, start, you know, getting
involved in dialogues. Some of them get a little bit mean, and rude,
and nasty – stay away from those ones; but, you know, the good dialogues in the comment
section, get in there, start talking sort of, but: Listen, listen, listen. It’s not all about textbooks. Okay? Learn the textbooks for the tests; learn real
English for real English. And, again: Practice what you’re learning. Find someone to speak with. Use these expressions in everyday life, and
your listening will just improve, and improve, and improve. Okay? So, these are just some tips. There are other sources; sports, literature,
movies, history – lots of different sources. Figure them out, learn from them, improve
your listening skills, and your speaking skills as you go. So, if you have any questions about this,
please go to www.engvid.com and join the forum, and you can ask me questions about anything
you learned in this video. There’s also a bit of a review quiz you can
take there to review what we talked about here. And if you like my channel, please subscribe
to it on YouTube and come back for more good tips to improve your English. Bye.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. 😂😆what the ball has to do with gf and bf fight awesome this also happens when you aren't aware of idioms or phrasel verb

  2. The guy is wrong. He's a Canadian, not an American (though Canada is technically a part of North America), and he speaks with a Canadian accent. So please don't waste your time learning about football. Only morons express themselves with football lingo, not educated people. Watch some American movies and shows if you want to learn about the culture, but don't waste your time picking up American slang and jargon. In the US, a person who barely speaks English while using idioms and slang sounds very silly. Learn the language and proper pronunciation first, the rest comes later.

  3. Thank you, Adam! Grate job! And as for me, it would be better if some written sentences were typed benease of the video, IMHO. I've got a small screen of my phone and it's hard to read from whiteboard for me. Thanks a lot, again!

  4. Dearest ADAM. I am CARLOS RENE PEREZ from ARGENTINA. I've learnt my english when i was a little kid living in the states. So I can' t say english is a second language to me but my first language side by side with spanish. when my family came back to ARG. because of my father's job i went on practicing english at schools. ANYHOW I remember my teachers correcting me all the time the expressions i used because they used to speak like characters came out from a very old classic movie. THEY WERE COMPLETELY OLD FASHIONED AND ANACHRONIC. AND THE TOUGHT STUDENTS TO SPEAK THIS RIDICULOUS WAY.

  5. You are a very good teatcher! I'm from Brasil 🇧🇷 and I'm learning too mutch whit you, thank you! 👌👍👏

  6. Hi…Can any one help me? An IELTS tutor told me that we shouldn't use any (') in writing…Even for possession. Is it right??? so how we show possession then? he said that (workers' declaration) is wrong and I should write (workers declaration)…why???? plz helppppp

  7. Hi this is Kalai… I like your way of teaching… outstanding… pls can you make a video about where to use the word ONLY in a sentence… please

  8. Hi Adam! Talking about sports, you forgot golf 🙂 E.g., much medical slang came from golf terminology AFAIK

  9. I would like to thank you Adam for this particular video I just watched in your channel. It was not only interesting but very useful. I am going to watch the others. I did not know there was a dictionary called "Urban dictionary." For expressions and two word verbs I always consulted specific books. They were useful too! I continue learning more from you in your videos so please do not stop making them.

  10. YOU'RE SO WRONG. Most of the difficulties in listening come from the student's limited knowledge of connected speech. Only at the highest levels of their English education they are supposed to have a good cultural competence, but frankly, that's not even so crucial then, I'm sorry. And it's ridiculous that you should blame textbooks. At what level would you teach "the ball is in your court"? Let me tell you: CEFR B2 (upper intermediate), possibily while trying to expand the students' knowledge of sports vocabulary (including the word "court", btw). Before that? Not so necessary I'm afraid.

  11. I think Adam made a very interesting point that most English teachers either don't care about or are afraid to teach. Books, as he said, have a very specific vocabulary that in most cases will only be used when having a conversation of that certain topic, references and slangs should be taught in regular English classes so the students can get used to the real way people talk… There are obviously thousands of these references or slangs but they do help a lot. I would personally recommend Urban Dictionary for those type of things, there's a lot of useful information in it.

  12. Hi, you are so great. could you explain how we can make nouns from verbs? tnx, you for helping people to improve our language.

  13. Hi! I´m Levy from Amazonas, Venezuela.

    I would like you to make a video of the pronunciation of some words that confuse me and maybe many people who are learning English. They are the following words: were and where; there and their; and other words that have similarities. Thank you

  14. Is there anyone can tell me what does script mean here? I googled but still didn't get it. Thanks a lot

  15. If I was to be in your class I would of learn better English most teachers now just don’t teach well.

  16. I highly recommend watching a travel vlogs on YouTube in order to Improve your listening skills, for several reasons.
    First of all, even if you understand only basic English, you can still enjoy watching: landscapes, museums, and local dances.

    Secondly, when you watch a funny film or dramatic movie, you can feel frustrated because you can't understand the jokes or the movie plot.

    Moreover, travel vlogs usually use vocabulary from varied fields: history, geography, culinary, etc.

  17. One of the most useful English as second language channels 👍
    Must know tips for ESL learners. Knowing the culture to learn slang, idioms, and phrases is great and necessary. We can also search for categories of idioms in a culture like 'food idioms', 'animal idioms', 'sports idioms', etc.

  18. The best and most humble teacher I ever seen. You're brilliant Adam! I wish I could retribute all the good lessons you provide on your channel. Thank you so much

  19. i've tried watching other videos regarding the english language, but i just can't bring myself to watch it all the way through.

    it's frustrating, really. especially when they speak too slow, too forced, and/or too cheerful.

    so my last resort is to go back this channel. it's worth it, mind you. no slow tones, no too much formality; all chill with a little bit of "millenial language" here and there as if you're only in your classroom during the usual days.

    kudos to you, buddy!

  20. Hi Adam. Greetings from Colombia. You are the best English teacher I ever had at the moment. Thank you for the lessons.

  21. Congrats on the video!
    Learning English?
    Irregular Verbs.The Ultimate Guide. /Amazon.
    A book simple in form but rich in content!

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