martes, 3 de junio de 2014

Madrid Teacher series: Political protest

In this week's Madrid Teacher series video four teachers, Sophia, Vicky, Joyce and Louise discuss some violent methods to protest. The protests they talk abut are old news, but the topic is really fashionable these days, with so much unrest going on everywhere.

As usual, the teachers' conversation gives us a wonderful opportunity to learn about specific features of spoken English.

First of all, watch the video through and enjoy the discussion. What political leaders are mentioned? What are the stories about them?

Now let's have a look at some of the strategies the speakers use in conversation:
Use of like as a connector.
Use of like to introduce an example: like the guy who attacked Berlusconi; like Tony Blair being attacked
Use of so as a connector.
Fillers when we don't know how to start or go on with the sentence: er; erm; well; Mmm
Hedging (so as not to sound too categorical): I think
Showing agreement: Yeah; I think so; I know; Yeah, that’s right; Yeah, of course
Making yourself clear: I mean
Vague language: kind of; the seventies or something; the thing is
Use of actually to introduce some surprising information
Showing surprise: Oh, really?

Sophia: I got a great big shock on Christmas Day. I watched the news and I see that the Pope had been attacked by a woman. Knocked over, and I was like, “the Pope! He’s an old man, leave him alone.” OK, he has some controversial views about condom use, saying that the use, er, actually will decrease AIDS, or not, not using, not using condoms will, will decrease AIDS, so I was like…[I] don’t know about that. But don’t attack the guy. But yeah it’s, erm… it’s an interesting way to express your opinion: knock the guy down.
Vicky: Yeah.
Joyce: But why was she attacking him? Like, does anybody know, like…what was her…
Louise: I think she was, er, I think she actually has a history of mental illness, and…
Sophia: Right, like the, the guy that attacked, er, Silvio Burlusconi.
Louise: Yeah.
Vicky: Well, there’s a lot more reason to attack Silvio Burlusconi than the Pope. Let’s face it.
Louise: Yeah, I think so too. Just his plastic surgery, for starters.
Vicky: Yeah, that comes out of taxpayers’ money! 
Joyce: I never, I never quite knew what it was that they threw at him. It was a miniature cathedral, but I don’t remember the name of the cathedral, but it was a…
Louise: Yeah, a spikey one, I think.
Vicky: Yeah, yeah. With the spires and everything.
Joyce: But was it sym-… Oh yeah? But was it, like, symbolic, like that it, it, it was this cathedral that they threw at him, or…?
Louise: Mm, I don’t think so.
Sophia: I don’t know, but that, that guy also had a history of mental illness so I think he just got, bought the souvenir from the nearest shop and then went for him.
Louise: Yeah, yeah.
Vicky: Yeah.
Joyce: Something heavy.
Vicky: Something very dangerous. I mean, I really dislike Silvio Burlusconi…
Louise: Me too.
Vicky: [He’s] just got some very controversial views but, to attack a seventy-year-old, now matter what, is really full-on, you know? It’s really…
Louise: I know. Really, it is.
Joyce: What about Bush, when he…, with the shoes?
Sophia: [With the shoe…]
Joyce: When the journalist…threw the shoe?
Vicky: That’s fine. He’s not seventy.
Sophia: I guess that’s OK for him, he’s a… He’s kind of younger.
Louise: He also did, he did such a good job of dodging that shoe!
Joyce: Yeah, that’s right.
Sophia: He was ready for it.
Vicky: That’s the fastest, fastest mental agility he’s ever exhibited.
Joyce: That’s right, he really did.
Sophia: He might have been expecting it, though. I mean, erm, in the UK, erm, if we are opposed
to someone, we, we could write a letter but sometimes we, we throw things, so… It, it’s kind of like the thing to do. Like Tony, Tony Blair being attacked with Tomatoes. And there was the case when John Prescott actually punched a guy back, so, an egg was thrown with him and he punched the guy in the face. Do you remember that?
Louise: Yeah…yeah…yeah.
Vicky: Yeah, yeah.
Sophia: So I was like, “[you] can’t punch the guy back cos it’s what we do, we, we throw eggs! You have to take it, or dodge it.”
Joyce: Well see, I didn’t really, I didn’t really know that, but I know that, er… I’m, I’m from Quebec, and the last time the Queen of England, er, was in Quebec, which was, like, in the seventies or something, they threw eggs at her.
Vicky: Oh really?
Joyce: Yeah, yeah, and she said, “I am never going to step there again.” And then she never came back to Quebec and all the Quebecers were, “Yay!” Because they didn’t want her.
Sophia: [The Queen!]
Louise: Well, that’s…that’s not very hospitable.
Vicky: No. No, no.
Sophia: The Queen!
Joyce: Yeahwell, the thing is, you know, I mean it’s a historical thing in Quebec. I mean, it was New France, and then the British came, and they got kicked out, and… So I mean, it was, you know. It was for political reasons, obviously.
Vicky: Yeah, of course.
Louise: Yeah, well… it’s not nice to hurt anybody, but… a bit of a squashed tomato…
Sophia: Yeah, just to humiliate them.
Louise: Yeah. Maybe it’s OK.