Welcome to Season 2 Episode 5 of Ethos English, the podcast with heart and soul for advanced English learners and the people who teach them. If you want to build your vocabulary, refine your study strategies and improve your critical thinking, keep listening – you’re in the right place! At EthosEnglish.com/podcast you’ll find the show notes with extra resources including a text version of the episode with links to the resources I mention. By going to my site you’ll be able to sign up for my monthly newsletter to receive free study materials. Also, by following me on Instagram at EthosEnglishWithSean you’ll see my daily posts and can interact with me to practise using the vocabulary you’ve learned.
I want to tell you about an acquaintance of mine. An acquaintance is someone you know but not well enough to consider them a friend. This acquaintance of mine has a successful podcast that I enjoy a lot. It’s to help English teachers do their job more effectively while at the same time feel less stressed. You might say I consider her a role model, that is, someone I’d like to emulate, or in more everyday English, be like. On her show she’s relaxed and funny and she shares truly insightful ideas. The thing is, we were recently exchanging messages and she was telling me how frustrated she was that her show wasn’t getting as many downloads as usual.
Her comment struck a chord with me, that is, I agreed with it and understood it because I’ve experienced the very same thing. Just like her I want to feel recognised for my efforts and sometimes wonder whether all the time and effort I put into this podcast will bear fruit, that is “be successful”. Interestingly enough, according to the Longman online English dictionary, which longtime listeners know is my favourite dictionary, the definition for “bear fruit” is the following: “If a plan, decision, etc. bears fruit, it is successful, especially after a long period of time.”
When you think about it, this metaphor for success makes sense. In nature everything follows its own evolution. While an apple tree can take as little as two years to yield fruit, that is produce fruit, the coco de mer, a coconut tree found only on two islands in the Seychelles, takes between 20 and 40 years to blossom and then it takes a further six to ten years for its fruit to ripen. Once ripe the coco de mer is the world’s heaviest fruit – you can check out a picture by clicking on the link in the transcript.
I know you saw this coming, the moral of the story, but I’m going to say it anyway. Things take the time that they take. But what if our dream, our project is less like an apple tree and more like a coco de mer? We’re busy looking at our metaphorical fruit tree going “What’s wrong with you plant?” Meanwhile something unique is germinating within that plant and we could spare ourselves the suffering that impatience brings about.
What’s the antidote to this anxiety? Everyone these days seems to be in a rush to get somewhere, to that promised land called success, and yet, in our heart of hearts, that is deep down inside, we know that all this busyness is kind of foolish. What then is the alternative? Why am I recording this podcast? Why are you listening?
I can’t recommend this video highly enough. Zena Hitz reminds us that being an intellectual is not about social status, it’s not about being better or smarter than others. It’s a very humble act of curiosity and it belongs in our everyday lives. Indeed, it’s an attitude that can brighten up our days. So go watch Zena Hitz. It’s only five minutes long and she makes a compelling case. What’s more, on her blog there’s a short video reposted from Twitter with an endorsement of her book from the legendary rapper MC Hammer.
Now, before I go over today’s vocabulary I’m going to share a website with you if you want some interesting reading material to spark your hungry intellect. It’s called The Electric Typewriter and has links to some of the best articles and essays written in English. You can find texts by author, including people like Margaret Atwood, Malcolm Gladwell and James Baldwin to name but a few, or by topic, such as life, death, love, food and sex. They’ve got it all. So check it out and send me an email to sean@EthosEnglish.com to tell me what you read and what you got from your reading. I love hearing from my listeners so don’t hesitate to get in touch.
an acquaintance: someone you know, but who is not a close friend
a role model: someone whose behaviour, attitudes, etc. people try to copy because they admire them
emulate: do something or behave in the same way as someone else, especially because you admire them
insightful: adjective: able to understand, or showing that you understand, what a situation or person is really like SYN perceptive
strike a chord with someone: say or do something that other people agree with or have sympathy with – remember that the past form of strike is struck as in “Their story struck a chord with the other parents in the meeting who’d had similar experiences.”
bear fruit: if a plan, decision etc bears fruit, it is successful, especially after a long period of time – note that the past form of bear is bore, as in “Charles’s diplomacy eventually bore fruit.”
yield: (formal) produce crops, profits, etc.
- Each of these oilfields could yield billions of barrels of oil.
- The tourist industry yielded an estimated $2.25 billion for the state last year.
- These investments should yield a reasonable return.
spare somebody the trouble/difficulty/pain etc (of doing something): prevent someone from having to experience something difficult or unpleasant
- I wanted to spare them the trouble of buying me a present.
- Thankfully, she had been spared the ordeal of surgery.
bring about: phrasal verb, make something happen, synonym: cause
- How can we bring about a change in attitudes?
- A huge amount of environmental damage has been brought about by the destruction of the rainforests.
in your heart of hearts: if you know, feel, or believe something in your heart of hearts, you are secretly sure about it although you may not admit it
hone your skills: improve your skill at doing something, especially when you are already very good at it
put someone on a pedestal: admire someone so much that you treat them or talk about them as though they are perfect
make a compelling case: make a convincing argument so that people are likely to agree with you
to name but a few: a phrase used when you are mentioning only a small number of people or things as examples of a large group