martes, 24 de marzo de 2015

Madrid Teacher: Plastic bag debate

Today's Madrid Teacher video has to do with the environment and the use and abuse we make of plastic bags. In my opinion, it's a bit harder than usual, as the conversation doesn't flow as naturally as some other days, as if the teacher taking part in the conversation were a bit unsure about what to say. However, it gives us the chance to pay attention to some features of spoken English.

First, watch the video through to get the gist, the main idea, of what it is about.

Now watch the video more carefully, paying attention to the following:
  • Use of really to emphasize the verb.
  • Use of just to emphasize the comparison.
  • Use of hedging (I think) to tone down our opinion.
  • Showing agreement: Yeah; That's true; Of course; There you go!; Yeah, exactly; Absolutely
  • Conversation fillers to gain thinking time: You know; like; Well
  • Use of vague language: or so
  • Rephrasing our ideas to make ourselves clear: I mean
  • Use of question tags asking for confirmation and to involve listeners in conversation

… my main thing. What, what are we supposed to do with our rubbish if we haven’t got plastic bags? Now’s the government who want to get rid of the plastic bags.
You can buy bin bags but it is great to have a free alternative.
But bin bags…
We would have the same problem if any of that is true.
The problem is that with so many of these problems there are much better alternatives and what we're really facing is a massive global climatic crisis. We need to look at different alternatives. Bin bags certainly that is one of the biggest issues blocking the phasing out of plastic bags but, of course, that's another system that needs renovation,  it’s trash collection.
I think that now they’ve developed bin bags that are actually biodegradable…
That’s what I'm talking about.
Yeah, so that would be…
But nothing really degrades, nothing degrades in a landfill.
No, that’s true.
So they cover it up.
You know, it’s because of all the plastic in there, insulating everything.
Yeah, everything's completely airtight and…
They say like a plastic bag takes a thousand years to decompose or so.
Yeah. I bet it is longer than that
I mean, it’s a big problem, you know, you get marine life die, you know. They mistake it for squid and fish they eat it and they choke on it.
Well, they can be quite dangerous. I mean, you know, if you leave them lying around animals which could get trapped inside, birds could get trapped too.
They always say those warnings, don’t they, don't put those on your head or something, you know.
Oh yeah, in case of suffocation yes.
And if you want to talk about danger, I mean let's look at where plastic comes from. It’s petroleum-based. How many people are dying right now in wars fought over oil. I mean, the world survived before there were plastic bags and it's just like that cell phones, just like the Internet.
Was it all part of the consumer society, isn’t it, mass consumerism and the plastic bags just go hand in hand, don’t they?
Of course.
They’re part of the distribution system.
Whatever happened to paper bags, I mean… you know.
Thank you.
I don’t know, they cost more to produce, I mean, they still look the same problems, you need, you know, you need to use wood and continue to cut down forest, but yeah, I mean paper bags
Or even grocers use paper bags.
And there’s  recycled paper, you don't have to try to cut down forests.
That’s true.
Newspaper, newspaper has a multitude of uses.
In England, in Britain we used to get our fish and chips in newspaper.
There you go!
Oh yeah!
And then they banned it because apparently there’s lead in the ink
Yeah, health and safety, isn’t it, all around, yeah.
So remove the lead from the ink, come back to the newspaper.
Yeah, exactly.
Fish and chips did taste good in newspaper, absolutely.
You know,   I bet it was charming to.
Oh, yeah, you could eat your chips and read…
And read while you are eating.