E1 – Listening

Episode 1 . 20:28

Episode 1 - Listening - transcript:

What’s up, my friends? Welcome to Speak Easy English: the number one podcast on the Internet (according to my mother). 

Thank you for joining us on our first episode. This podcast is designed to help you become completely fluent in English naturally, automatically, and without studying any boring grammar. That’s right, zero grammar. Using this podcast, you will become fluent by developing the habit of listening to English (and enjoying it) every single day. As always, we’re going to talk about interesting topics, 100% in English, spoken by a native English speaker – that’s me. All of the episodes are free, and all of the transcripts are also free on our website, speakeasyenglish.club. That’s speakeasyenglish.club. No need to pay, no need to log in. It’s all posted for free on the website. My name is Brandon. I’ll be your host and thank you for joining us. Make yourself comfortable. Grab a coffee, grab a beer, grab a cocktail, whatever, and let’s get this show on the road!

Later in this episode, we will talk about the power of listening: about creating the habit of daily listening and how that one simple thing will make you fluent. But first, since this is the first episode, I’m going to give you an overview of what this podcast is, how it works, and why I made it. This podcast is designed to give Intermediate English learners, like you, a free resource where you can listen to natural English, spoken by a native English speaker, talking about all sorts of useful and actually interesting topics. On top of that, the transcripts for this episode and all future episodes are free on our website. 

Why am I doing this? Well, in the future we will talk more about my experience learning Spanish and learning French. But to give you a summary, I learned that there was a ton of material for beginners – and a ton of material for advanced fluent speakers – but there was not very much high-quality audio for Intermediate language learners. Eventually, I discovered some free podcasts in Spanish and French that were entertaining and appropriate for my level. And those podcasts really helped me make huge progress in Spanish and French naturally, easily, just by listening to them as often as I could. So I created this podcast to give back to the language learning community. I know there are millions of Intermediate English learners around the world that need interesting audios designed for them, for Intermediate English Learners. I also know that many students simply cannot afford to pay for the transcripts of those episodes. That’s why I created this podcast, and that’s why all of the transcripts are free. 

In every episode of this podcast, we will talk about interesting and sometimes even controversial topics. We will talk about all sorts of stuff, sometimes science, current events, self-improvement, politics, or just whatever topic I think you’ll find interesting. I do consider myself a student of life, so I love to read and listen to podcasts and learn about new things all the time. I am fascinated by science, by history, and by other cultures and languages, by the latest technology, etc etc. I mean, really, I’m curious and interested in everything this world has to offer. But I am not an expert, I am not a researcher, I am not a scientist, I am not a professor. So nothing in this podcast should be considered expert advice or expert opinion, or a reference of any sort. Get ready though! I do plan to share my opinions with you. And guess what? Sometimes you might disagree. And that’s okay. In fact, it’s a good thing if you strongly disagree with me and want to share your opinion. That’s awesome! That’s going to really help you start thinking (and even writing) in English. So every two weeks, I will publish a new episode and post the free transcript on this website. 

I am only human. And like all of us, sometimes I’m wrong. I might misspeak, say the wrong thing, or even accidentally offend you. If that happens, I hope you can forgive me! And keep in mind that I am only human. I make mistakes, and my goal here is to help you learn English. Anything else you learn along the way is just extra. But my primary goal here is to get you fluent in English. So every two weeks, I will publish a new episode and post the free transcript on our website.

You might be wondering, how will this podcast make me fluent in English? Well, this podcast is designed to be used as a tool for natural language learning. In fact, the first ten episodes of this podcast will be a mini-series on natural language learning and how to use this to become completely fluent in English. Now, different people mean different things when they say natural language learning. When I say it, when I reference natural language learning, in this case, I mean: listening to English, reading English, and using English over and over again, every day, to allow your brain to learn, to understand, and use the language as a tool to communicate. Natural language learning means no grammar, no flashcards, no textbooks, no unnatural ways to memorize or learn. You do not need that. Your brain is a language learning machine. It has evolved (in large part) to automatically recognize patterns and use language to communicate. So natural language learning gives your brain the opportunity to do just that, to do what it does best and absorb that language as a tool to communicate. I tried learning languages the old way in school and it did not work. Then, as an adult in my thirties, I discovered natural language learning and used these techniques to become fluent in Spanish. And now I’m working to become fluent in French. So during these first ten episodes, we will talk all about how to use this podcast to naturally make huge progress in your English. And after those first ten episodes, we will start the normal format where each week is a new and interesting topic. 

In today’s episode, our first episode, we are going to talk about the most important thing. This is the foundation of natural language learning. It is the foundation of how every single one of us learned our first language. That is: listening. Active listening. So listen to me now. What I am about to say is the most important advice I will ever give you: 

Creating a daily habit of actively listening to English is 99% of what you need to do to become fluent in English. 

I will repeat that: Creating the daily habit of listening is all you need to do to become fluent in English.

Why? Why is listening so powerful? Well, we are actually evolved to learn languages by listening. Spoken language existed for at least 100,000 years before writing. 100,000 years before anyone started writing language, we were already speaking and learning language by listening! That means the way we teach language in school is completely backwards. They teach you the rules and make you memorize the individual grammar rules and individual words and spelling with almost zero effort on actually listening and speaking – almost zero emphasis on listening and speaking. In other words, they don’t even try to use the language for communication. That would be like trying to learn to play guitar by memorizing a book about how to play guitar… but never actually playing the guitar. Doesn’t that sound insane? Well, that’s what we’re doing in school. We learn all the words and rules all out of context, which makes them very hard to remember and on their own. Out of context, words and rules mean nothing. Even if you could memorize the entire dictionary, you would still not be able to speak English. Again, even if you could memorize the entire English dictionary, you would still not be able to speak English. Why? Well, because you will never be able to recognize and translate fast enough to have a conversation with a native speaker. That is not how it works. It has to be all automatic for your brain. Language is a pattern. All of the words in the phrase are connected, and they all impact each other. You need to be able to understand the meaning of the entire phrase and not try to translate word by word. You will never be able to translate fast enough to be fluent. 

So, what does this have to do with listening? Well, when you listen, all of the words are in context. They’re all connected to each other, anchored to each other, and anchored to all of the words and phrases that surround them. They are also anchored to the meaning of that sentence, and that sentence is anchored to the meaning of the entire episode. So listening to (and understanding) these words and phrases in context is much, much more powerful than memorizing out of context. When you learn, your neurons are making connections in between each other and they are strengthening connections with one another. The more things that are connected to that new memory – the more words and meaning and context that is connected to that new memory – the stronger that memory will be. So when you learn a new word in context, that memory will be dramatically stronger, longer lasting, and more durable compared to a new word that you memorized on a flashcard, for example. To recap, we were evolved to learn languages by listening. Additionally, when we listen, all of the words are in context, which is a huge advantage. 

So if listening is so powerful, how do we use that power? Well, step one, create a daily habit of listening to English! Step two, you will become fluent. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. If you can create a habit of actively listening to English every day, you will be fluent. That’s it. You don’t need to try and figure out which magical course to buy on the internet, or which book to buy, or which class to take, which strategy to implement, or which application on your phone you need to subscribe to. No, none of that. All you need to do is create a daily habit of listening to English and you will automatically become fluent. That’s why podcasts are so helpful and so useful, because everyone has time each day that is currently going to waste. Any mindless activity that you do every day – you could be listening to a podcast during that time. For example, when you wash the dishes, or when you clean up the house, or when you drive to work, or take the metro to work. All of those times you could be listening to English. Listening, and in particular listening to podcasts, is so powerful and so effective precisely because it is easy to install in your daily life. You can do that! Making it a habit to listen every day is the one and only step you need to take to become fluent in English. 

Pause right now! Take a few minutes and think about your life, your daily routine. What will your habit look like? You need to make a plan! You do not want to have to “figure it out” every day. It needs to be automatic. It needs to be a habit, or you will not do it long term. Is there something you do every day that does not require much thinking? For example, [washing] the dishes or riding in the metro? That is a great place to make your habit. Your habit can simply be listening to English while you do something that you already do every day. So then you don’t need to find time every day! Automatically, when you ride the metro, or when you clean up the house, you will automatically put in your headphones and listen to English. 

Okay, I will give you one more really important piece of advice about how to use listening to become fluent. Repetition is the key. You need to listen to each episode multiple times. Many, many times. I listen to each episode dozens and dozens of times. But you do not want to listen to each episode back-to-back. You do not want to finish one episode and immediately start listening again to the same episode. No. You need to space those repetitions. Listen in the morning – and then listen again in the afternoon, or the next day. There needs to be some space in between those repetitions. That is called spaced repetition and it is very powerful to help your brain absorb all of the new words, constructions, and phrases in that podcast. 

Okay, we’ve talked a lot about listening today. It truly is the miracle of language learning. Active listening, spaced repetition, and creating a habit to do that every single day. Honestly, that is all you will ever need to do to become fluent. Focus on that. Start here. In the next episode, we will talk about reading: using the transcripts to go even further to the next level. But listening is the foundation. So please start creating your habit of daily listening right now.

Alright. Thank you for joining us on our very first episode. If you appreciate having this free resource along with the free transcripts, don’t forget to leave a five star review! That will help us so much to gain visibility and reach even more people (just like you) that are working to become fluent in English. Feel free to email me with questions, comments, or suggestions. All of the free transcripts along with my email address are posted on the website speakeasynglish.club. That is speakeasynglish.club. As always, don’t forget to listen to this episode multiple times. Not just once, but multiple times. Spaced repetition will help you make awesome progress toward your goal of becoming completely fluent in English. See you next time. Cheers.