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Episode 2: Swimming
Episode 2 - Swimming
In this episode of English Bites you can learn a few things about English as Michelle learns to swim.
Transcript
This story is about Michelle, a student learning to swim. We'll look at the words breath and breathe and how to give instructions and praise. Why does Michelle need swimming lessons?
My dad taught me to swim in Yuan River when I was about three or five years old. I was just hanging around in a life-saving ring and while my dad was chatting to his friend.
I was being naughty and I accidentally slipped through. So within a few seconds - I wasn't really panicked - I knew I probably would die and I was lucky enough, and I got pulled, right on my hair, and I was saved. But since then I just never feel really comfortable to learn how to swim.
She nearly drowned when she was little so she doesn't like the water. She told the story using the past continuous tense, which combines 'was' with the –ing form of the verb. She said 'while my dad was chatting', 'I was just hanging around' and 'I was being naughty.' Listen:
I was just hanging around in a life-saving ring and while my dad was chatting to his friend.
I was being naughty and I accidentally slipped through.
The past continuous is useful when telling stories because you can talk about more than one thing that happened at the same time.
Now listen to the way the instructor talks to her.
Okay, just turn around. Just turn around this way so we're walking backwards.
Just breathe naturally, make sure you breathe out. You don't want to hold your breath.
You wouldn't talk like this if you were asking someone you didn't know to do something. You would be more polite and say “please turn around”. But when giving instructions it's best to ask directly:
Okay, just turn around. Just turn around this way so we're walking backwards.
Just breathe naturally, make sure you breathe out. You don't want to hold your breath.
She said 'you don't want to hold your breath'. To hold your breath is to not breathe. Notice that the verb is breathe – spelled with an 'e' on the end and the noun is spelled without the final 'e' and pronounced with an 'eh' sound – a breath.
What does Michelle say about her lessons?
I have to say that having a professional instructor, it helps me to relax, yeah, rather than just trying to figure out what's wrong and what I'm gonna do by myself.
Having a professional instructor helps her relax and shows her the best way to do the right things.
She doesn't have to 'figure out' or think about what to do. Now listen to her teacher:
You can feel my fingers, but I'm not supporting you. Wonderful.
Congratulations. You're doing that all by yourself. You're self-powered
She doesn't just give instructions, she uses praise and encouragement. Listen again:
Wonderful.
Congratulations. You're doing that all by yourself. You're self-powered
You use words like 'wonderful' and 'congratulations' to encourage and praise. And what's the result of this encouragement?
I want to try to maybe doing the full lap.
Ah, beautiful, fantastic.
I did it!
So we've seen that giving instructions involves directly telling people what to do and using encouraging words such as beautiful, fantastic and wonderful. The verb is breathe, spelled with a final 'e' and the noun is breath, spelled without the 'e'. We'll finish with Michelle talking about her achievement:
For the past five years I was always looking at my friends, families enjoying getting to the pool, or sea. Now I can join them. You know, I'll definitely feel more involved, yeah and you know, it's great to share the fun.
Watch More
See the complete story of Michelle from China as she faces her childhood fear and learns to swim in episode 6 of My Australia.


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