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Learn Real English Conversations with My Mom
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Effortless English Show, with the world’s number one English teacher, AJ Hoge, where AJ’s more than 40 million students worldwide finally learned English once and for all, without the boring textbooks, classrooms, and grammar drills. Here’s AJ with a quick piece to help you learn to speak fluent English effortlessly.
AJ Hoge: Effortless English, the Effortless English Show. Welcome. I’m AJ Hoge, the author of, “Effortless English: Learn to Speak English Like A Native.” On today’s show, we’re talking about casual English. Let’s get casual, dude. Casual. We’re going to relax and talk about casual conversation. Casual means relaxed. It’s the opposite of formal. We also say informal, meaning not formal. Not formal conversation. Relaxed conversation such as between friends or family. I’m going to play a short part of a conversation with my mom. I called her on the phone. I recorded the conversation, we talk about the weather. It’s a very normal, common, casual conversation.
Also, on the show today, I will tell you about British English and American English. It’s a common question I get on Twitter, “Which one is better? Which one should I learn?
American or British English?” I will answer that question once and for all finally. When you are ready, when you are ready to become an advanced English speaker, to speak powerfully, and fluently, and to use your English to get better jobs, more money, travel, study abroad, then join my VIP program at effortlessenglishclub.com. You can try it for 1 dollars 10 days for 1 dollars, effortlessenglishclub.com. Try my VIP program today.
Casual English. What does that mean, casual? It means relaxed, right? The opposite would be formal, formal English. Formal English is the English you hear in for example the TOEFL exam, TOEFL and IELTS, actually both, teach a formal English. It’s academic.
You learned formal English in school. When you studied English in school, maybe you still are, you learn formal English. That’s what the textbooks teach. That’s what all the English schools teach. “Hello. How are you? I’m fine, and you?” That’s a very formal way of greeting. “Hello. Hello. How are you? I’m fine, and you?”
The problem is that, that’s not how most people speak, especially Americans, North Americans I would say even Canadians and people from America. We’re relaxed.
We’re very relaxed. Even in business. Even in business, we are relaxed. A lot of people have this idea that business English is very formal, everybody speaks like a professor and it’s very formal, but it’s not. It’s not. American business people are quite relaxed.
They tell jokes. They use casual conversation all the time. Only in a very, I would say formal or important presentation, like a speech, a presentation, in that situation yes you would be formal. Maybe a meeting with the big boss, the president of the company, yes then you would be formal.
In your own team or working with even customers, clients, other businesses, they’re pretty casual, quite casual. Casual English is important. Now, let me read a small section from my book. This is another little section from my book about casual English. Then we will listen to the conversation with my mom, my mom and I talking about the weather. I recorded just a few days ago. Okay, here we go. This is from my book. If you have the print version of my book, page 124. Learning casual conversation. In San Francisco, where I used to live, I met many students with high English test scores and great grades in their English classes. Yet, when they sat in a café, they couldn’t understand what people were saying around them. They had absolutely no idea what normal Americans were saying. They had been trained informal academic English with a focus on grammar rules. I think this is totally backwards. Common casual conversation should be the first thing you learn.
The first need after all is to communicate with other people. You want to chat with people in a café. You want to make friends and understand what they are saying. You want to talk to your coworkers. You want to understand TV shows and movies.
Common English should be what you learn first. Then later, and only if you need it, then you can focus on academic English. Okay, you get the idea in most situations except school, people are using common casual conversational English. They are not saying, “Hello. How are you? I’m fine, and you?”
I’d say you won’t hear the greeting, but when I call my mom or I call my friends they just say, “Hi. Hey, what’s up?” Something like that. They don’t say, “Hello. How are you? I’m fine.” I’ll say, “Hey. What’s up? How’s it going? Yeah, it’s going okay.” That kind of English and that’s exactly what you’re going to hear everywhere you go in the United States and Canada. The British mind have a slightly different version, but they also are speaking casual. I think Americans, North Americans are more casual than British in general. We’re more relaxed over here.
Okay, let’s play it. Let’s just listen to a little section of a conversation with my mom. I called her on the phone. I said, “Hey, mom.” Then we started talking about the weather. A snowstorm, in fact. Let me just find a spot here. There we go. We’re talking about the weather. I asked her about how’s the weather where she is. She lives in Indiana, which is in the middle of the United States. It’s called, “The Midwest.”
It’s the middle part of the country. I know they were getting some cold weather. Then we start talking about the snowstorm that was coming to the Northeast part of America, that’s Boston, New York area. We talk about how the news was saying, “Oh my God. It’s going to be a huge blizzard, a huge snowstorm coming from the Northeast. Oh my God, panic, fear.”
My mom talks about how, at first she thought that the news said they were going to get 12-feet of snow, which is a huge amount. 12-feet of snow is let’s see, it’s 4meters. We’re talking about it and then I started thinking, “Wait, that’s too much. It can’t be 12-feet.” Then we realized that, “No, it’s actually 12-inches. 12-inches is 1/3 of a meter. Big difference.” Then we talk a bit about how the news in general is always trying to create this fear, everything’s so exaggerated and that actually 12inches of snow, it’s a lot, but it’s nothing to fear, especially in the Northeast. They are used to getting a lot of snow. They get a lot of snow up there in the winter, so yeah, 12-inches is really not that big of a problem. Not a big deal means it’s not a big issue.
It’s nothing to worry about. Not a big deal.
All right, so let’s just listen as I talk to my mom for, this is about, two and a half minutes. I’m going to play two and a half minutes. I’m not going to stop, not going to interrupt, and see how much you understand. How’s the weather there? Is it cold?
AJ’s mom: Because I need to do them the last time. It is cold. It’s turned cold again, but boy up in the east, they’re going to get hammered. We got a little few flakes today. That’s all we’ve really had. We haven’t even had anything, we got to scoop up. Up north, oh my gosh like New York, I can see there, they’re getting, what do they say? I thought they said 12-feet.
AJ Hoge: 12-feet of snow?
AJ’s mom: Because they said that you should go out every hour and do it.
AJ Hoge: Good Lord, wow.
AJ’s mom: I thought, “Maybe they meant 12-inches, but 12-inches wouldn’t be a big deal up there.”
AJ Hoge: Yeah.
AJ’s mom: A foot of snow wouldn’t be that big. They call it, is it called the Northeastern or something like that?
AJ Hoge: Oh, because the storm comes from the Northeast, yeah.
AJ’s mom: 12-feet doesn’t sound logical, but at the same time, they’re making a huge deal of it. I wouldn’t think 12-inches would be a real big deal there, would you?
AJ Hoge: Yeah, one-foot, it’s a lot of snow, but it’s not horrible for way up north like that in the Northeast. I don’t know, but 12-feet sounds too much.
AJ’s mom: I thought it’s, another number was 12, but they were saying about going out every hour and shoveling, and you wouldn’t have to do that with even 12-inches.
AJ Hoge: Yeah, you have to know.
AJ’s mom: I’m not sure now.
AJ Hoge: The fake news media, they just love to dramatize everything now. We probably got that amount of snow in Virginia onetime, I remember when we were a kid.
AJ’s mom: We did. Yes, we did.
AJ Hoge: You said, it just didn’t seem the same level of hysteria, “Oh my God.” I think they just pump it up for try to ratings and things, and I don’t know. It just seems like things that to me storms like, “Oh, it’s a hot spell or it’s raining a lot.” Where you actually go out and it’s not that big a deal like this. It is just one-foot of snow. That’s a lot. It’s a big snowstorm, but it’s not catastrophic.
AJ’s mom: No, and [inaudible 00:13:14] more quick up there too. [crosstalk 00:13:17] heavy equipment.
AJ Hoge: If it happened in Georgia, that would be catastrophic. Okay, that’s enough for that.
How was it? Could you understand everything? Was it easy or was it difficult? Just to give you an idea, that should be very easy. That should be an easy casual conversation. Nothing in there too difficult. However, I know that some people, maybe many, maybe you will have some trouble with that conversation. Why?
There’s no super difficult vocabulary in there, so why is it more difficult? It’s because you learned formal English in school. They taught you formal English in school.
How is formal English different than real English, than casual conversational English?
We can hear some things in this conversation that will give you an idea of how it’s different, what’s different. Okay, number one, idioms. Idioms and slang, okay? Idioms and slang make casual conversation more difficult and we use them a lot. Now, that conversation with my mom, we just used a few not many, but a big deal. That’s an idiom, right? It’s not a big deal. Not a big deal means it’s not important, it’s not a problem. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a big problem.
If you don’t know that idiom, you might know the words, “Big deal, not a …” You know each individual word, but the phrase, “Not a big deal,” if you don’t know that, then you will be confused. What does that mean? I don’t know. Now, in some conversations we use a lot more. My dad, I’m going to record my dad soon. My dad uses a lot of idioms. He uses more than my mom. My mom uses them too, but my dad uses them a lot. If you listen to a conversation with my dad, you might be confused, because he’s using idioms so much. I made a course with my dad, businessenglishconversations.com. It’s a business English course, but you learn a lot of idioms in that course too, just because my dad uses them so much.
What else? What else is different about casual conversations that makes them seem different than school English? Another one, pauses. We have breaks in casual conversations, but they’re not always at the end of a sentence. In formal English in school, they always pause at the end of the sentence. “Hi. How are you doing?”
Pause. “I am fine, and you?” Pause. In real conversations, casual conversations, we’re thinking. Many times, we’re thinking. Sometimes we’re thinking two things at the same time. We will pause anywhere. We’ll say, “How are you?” I’m, and then just pause. Just right in the middle of the sentence.
That can be a little more difficult to understand sometimes, because the pauses are in strange places. You’re not used to it. You’re used to everyone speaks in a full sentence and that’s the next thing that makes casual conversations difficult. Lots and lots of partial sentences. Partial means not complete, not whole. A part, it means part. This is super common and you hear it in this conversation that we don’t speak with a complete full sentence. We’ll just say half a sentence, “Yeah, I’m doing fine and … “
Then we might just change the topic.
We’re thinking we might start saying one thing and then stop in the middle of a sentence and then change to something else. This also happens a lot, because the speaker will say something, say part of a sentence and then they expect you, they think you will know what they’re going to say. They will expect that you understand, so they won’t say all of it, because they think, “Okay, you know enough and,” they’ll just say something like, I’m trying to think of an example. In this sentence so I’ll say, “Yeah, 12-feet’s not enough, because up there,” then I might just stop, “You know up there.” If you just saw this on a paper you would say, “Up there, what? What’s the rest of the sentence AJ?” In the middle of this conversation, my mom would understand up there, it’s not a problem. Up there is not a big deal. She would understand up there meaning in the Northeast, in the north. It’s not a problem.
I might just use a part of the sentence, and we do this a lot. We do this as we’re thinking, so we’ll say, “Half a sentence,” and then we’ll change what we’re going to say. In this way too, the grammar might change, this is why sometimes it sounds like someone is making a grammar mistake and say, “Oh my God, you’re a native speaker and you use the wrong grammar,” which usually it’s not actually a grammar mistake.
Usually, what happens is you start to say once sentence and then you change it.
I might say, for example I do this a lot. I’ll say, “There is one actually, two or three important things we need to discuss.” If I say, “There is two things we need to discuss,” there is two topics. That’s wrong English, right? If I say, “There is two, there is two topics.” Someone say, “Oh my God, you made a mistake AJ.” “Why is the grammar wrong?” “Because in my mind, probably I started to say the sentence and I was thinking one. I was thinking there is one topic, one important topic.” Then in the middle of the sentence before I finish, I realize, “Oh no, actually there are two things I want to say.” I’ll finish the sentence with the idea of two. I’ll say, “There is two important topics.”
See, technically, formal English, that would be wrong, but in a normal real life conversation, we’re thinking. See, you can think faster than you can speak. Your thinking is probably four, five, six, ten times faster than your mouth. This is why we change in the middle of sentences. This is why we, suddenly might change the grammar, because we start with one idea and then another idea comes in before we finish the sentence.
Finally, another thing, the last thing that makes casual conversations more difficult, seem more difficult. You hear a little on this conversation is that sometimes the speakers talk at the same time. In the textbook CDs, it’s always one person speaks, then the other one speaks. Then the other one speaks, then the other one speaks, right? It’s, “Hello. How are you? I’m fine, and you?” In real conversations, people get excited and sometimes we start talking at the same time. Because one person’s talking and my mom is talking and then she’s maybe in the middle of a sentence, but I already know what she’s saying. I already know what she’s saying for the rest of the sentence.
I start talking before she finishes so I can ask her the next question or I can make a comment, “Yeah,” and I’ll … It’s not really interrupting. We do interrupt sometimes also, but sometimes we just talk over, because one person’s in the middle of a sentence, you already know what they’re going to say and then you come in before they finish. Then they do that to you. They overlap, we say, right? Sometimes it’s happening at the same time. When you’re not a native speaker, when you are an English learner, oh my God, that can be tough, because now you got two English speakers speaking at the same time and you’re trying to understand both at the same time. That also makes it much more difficult than just one formal speaker.
You can see, for all of these reasons and others, casual conversation is much different than the English you learned in school. The important point is, this is the real English.
This is the real spoken English. Casual conversation, what you just heard with my mom, that’s the real English. That’s what you will hear every single day if you visit America. Everywhere you go, that’s how people speak. If you go to a restaurant, if you go to a café, if you meet other people, if you go to a party, if you have a business meeting. It doesn’t matter. Anywhere you go, that’s how people speak.
You’ve got to learn the real spoken English. That’s why in Effortless English, we teach you real spoken English, not formal school English. Okay, well, I hope you enjoyed that. Let’s go to our Twitter. All right my Twitter is AJ Hoge, AJ, H-O-G-E, AJ Hoge. Twitter.
All right now, today’s topic, it’s not actually, just one question. This is a question I get a lot on Twitter. People ask me different versions of this question all the time. They ask me, “Which should I learn, American English or British English? Which is better, American English or British English? Which accent should I learn, American or British?
Which is most useful, American English or British English?” It’s the same basic question again and again.
Here today, I will finally answer this question. I will give you my final answer, the number one answer. Are you ready for my answer to this question? Okay, here it is.
My answer is …
Speaker 4: America. America. America, fuck Yeah. Coming again to save the mother fucking day, yeah. America, fuck Yeah. Freedom is the only way, yeah. Terrorists, your game is through, because now you have to answer to, America, fuck yeah.
AJ Hoge: Oh yeah, America. If you know the movie, what movie does that song come from? If you know, tell me on Twitter. Let’s see who will be the first person to tell me the movie that that song comes from. What’s the movie of that song? I love that song. It’s funny. It’s very funny. It’s a funny movie too actually. It’s quite funny. Okay, so America. America, of course is the answer. America. American English is much better than British English. British English is finished. They’re an old small little island and America’s big and very influential.
Of course, I’m joking a little bit. I like to joke, because some of the British English teachers online like on YouTube and they get really upset about this question. You’ll see this in comment sometimes on YouTube videos and things people talking about this question. The American or British English. Yeah, usually the Americans are funny.
The Canadians are funny. The Australians are just funny about it. We don’t really care.
Some of the British people are very, “British English is the real English.” They get very upset and angry. I like to joke about it, because I know it bothers them.
The truth is of course, it doesn’t matter. It’s the same language. It’s the same language still. We like to talk about the differences, but in fact, the differences are fairly small. Now, on the other hand of course, you have to answer this question yourself if you want to focus more on American or more on British, or more on Australian. Why do we always forget the poor Australians? Hey, mate. Okay. When I say American, I really mean North American, so that would be America and Canada together. Quite similar accent. Basically the same accent, a little different, but most are the same.
Now, I will say this, not joking, being serious, that I believe the American accent and American English is the most useful in general in the world. Simply because as we all know, America is huge, really big, very powerful, very rich. Most of the media is American English. Hollywood movies, Hollywood television, there’s just so much of it everywhere in the world. British is less. Britain is small. It’s much smaller. It’s a small little island country that used to be big, but not anymore. America’s still really big, huge.
In general, I would say American English is the most useful. The American accent would be the most useful, but it really does depend on you. If you plan to live in England, then the British accent would certainly be more useful to you. If you’re planning to go live in Australia or study in Australia, you should probably learn Australian English. Now, here’s the good news, you don’t have to choose. You do not have to choose. It’s not a choice. This is a false choice. It’s the school thinking again.
It’s this or this. No, it’s not. You can do both. You can combine them as the same language.
Listen to some British stuff. Listen to some American stuff. You can learn both. Yes, sometimes we use a little bit different vocabulary for a few things. Just learn both of them. If you listen to some British English, you’ll learn some of that British vocabulary.
When you listen to American English, you’ll learn some of that American vocabulary.
99% of the vocabulary is exactly the same. Same with the accent, you can get used to both, so you can understand both. This helps your listening. When you listen to some different accents, you get used to people speaking a little differently and your listening ability actually in general gets better. Mix in some different accents.
You could even try some regional accent sometimes, not all the time, but try listening to a New York accent. Try listening to something with a Southern accent. On my Twitter, we have some people who watch The Walking Dead, TV show, The Walking Dead. A lot of characters in the walking dead have Southern accents from the south of the United States. That’s where I’m from. Now, I’m not speaking with a southern accent right now, but I know the Southern accent, because I lived around it my whole life. Walking Dead, you’ll hear the Southern accent, so you can mix it around. Don’t get so worried about this. It’s not one or the other. You can do both.
All right, now in general, you can ask me questions on Twitter, you can make comments on Twitter. You can suggest the topic for a show. VIP members suggest topics for VIP lessons. What do you want to learn? What problems do you have in your life? Not just with English, but in general for making money, having a better career, with relationships, with your health. What problems do you have that you need help solving? Tell me on Twitter. I will do VIP lessons about those topics.
Also, if you have a specific movie scene or part of a book, or part of an audio you want me to teach the vocabulary, you want me to use the movie technique, use my mini story technique with the VIP lessons, then tell me on Twitter. I’ll do it. I like to get suggestions. I like to get requests. My Twitter is A-J-H-O-G-E, that is AJ Hoge. Okay then, you will succeed. You will speak English and you will learn real English like we heard today. Keep listening every day. Keep working every day. Most of all, enjoy the process. This is so important. When you listen to my podcast, just relax and enjoy it.
You don’t need to get stressed about it. You don’t need to try to memorize anything.
Just enjoy the topics. Relax. Pretend you’re listening to a radio show, you’re listening to a radio show in English. That’s amazing. Be happy about that. Listen every day.
When you want to get serious, you want to be serious, you want to really reach advanced level, you want to be fluent, you want to be a confident powerful English speaker. When you want this, then join my VIP program at effortlessenglishclub.com.
That’s effortlessenglishclub.com. Have a great day. See you next time. Bye for now.
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