Reading an emotional short story, with vocabulary explanations and differences between British and American English.
Read the story on Commaful here commaful.com/play/aknier/the-mountain/
Hello listeners, welcome back to my podcast. I hope you’re doing well and that you’re ready to learn some more English with me in this new episode.
This one is called The Mountain and I’m going to read you a short story and then use it to teach you some English.
There is a video version of this available on YouTube with the text on the screen, so you can read and listen at the same time and you can see my face while I’m recording this, if that’s what you’d like to see. You can find that video on the page for this episode on my website or on my YouTube channel – Luke’s English Podcast on YouTube, don’t forget to like and subscribe of course.
Stories are great for learning English, and I’m always searching for various stories that I could read out on the podcast. I’ve found a few stories and texts, both online and in books that I have on my bookshelves, so you can expect more story episodes like this coming in the future as I read things in different styles, from different texts, including some well-known published work and some independently published stuff and fan fiction that is available online.
Stories make ideal material for language learning. They are compelling and often the text of the story is also available which makes it extra useful for language learning because it works as a transcript for what you are listening to.
Today I googled “Free short stories online” and I ended up on a website called commaful.com
This website is described as the largest library of multimedia stories online. Commaful.com
On Commaful you can read and share stories written by users of the site, fan fiction, poetry and comics, and they have a picturebook format, which means that their stories are presented in a slightly different way, which makes them a bit more pleasant to read online or on mobile devices – more pleasant than just reading text on a screen, which is never a pleasant way to read literature. So rather than just presenting their texts on screen, they put each line of the story on top of an image of some kind (like a picture of a lake or a landscape or something) and you can swipe from one image to the next, reading each line of the story as you go, which is quite nice.
When reading these stories out loud the format encourages you to pause as you read each line, which is quite a good habit. Pausing is a good presentation skill.
It can be a good discipline to practise because pausing can add some space for the audience to think and can change the atmosphere slightly, adding extra weight to each line that you say. So pausing and taking your time can be good presentation skills to practise.
First I’m just going to read the story to you. You can just follow along and try to understand what’s going on.
Then I’ll read it again and I will stop to explain some bits of English that come up, and there are various nice bits of English in here – phrasal verbs, expressions and other nice bits of vocabulary mainly.
The story is written in American English, which is mostly the same as British English really, but I will point out any differences and will give you the UK English equivalents, so this can be a chance to learn some British and American English equivalents.
I’ll do a vocabulary and language summary at the end too.
As I said, there will be some pauses between the lines of the story, because of the way the story is presented to me on the website. I don’t normally pause like this when doing this podcast, but it could be useful because it might help you absorb what I’m saying and you can use those pauses to repeat after me if you like. This will be easier if you can read the lines with me, and again you can do that by watching the youtube video, or visiting the story on commaful.com.
Or you can try repeating without seeing the lines if you want an extra challenge.
And of course you can simply enjoy listening to the story without worrying about repeating or anything like that.
The story is about 10 minutes long, just to let you know what to expect.
The rest of this episode is me explaining and describing the language in the story.
By the way, this story was posted on commaful.com by a user called Aknier and I am assuming that Aknier is the author of this, so credit goes to him or her for writing it.
Follow the link in the description to access the story and you can leave comments there if you like.
I hope you enjoy it!
But now let’s begin the story…
OK so that is where the video ends, but I’m adding a bit more here to the audio version in order to do a quick language summary of the bits of vocabulary that came up in that.
How was that for you? Did you enjoy the story? As I said, there weren’t many narrative elements. It was more an emotional story, but quite an interesting one.
Again, I do recommend that you try reading the story out loud, either by repeating after me or not.
Now let me recap some of the vocabulary items and British and American English differences that you heard there, just to sum up and help you remember what you’ve just heard. I’ll be as brief as I can while jogging your memory here.
You can find this vocabulary list on the page for this episode on my website of course.
- I hardly cried (I didn’t cry a lot)
- To work hard / to hardly work
- To fuss / to make a fuss (Fuss = anxious or excited behaviour which serves no useful purpose. “What’s all the fuss about?” “Everyone’s talking about this Meghan & Harry interview. What’s all the fuss about?” “Why don’t you complain?” “Well, I don’t want to make a fuss”)
- To make a scene = do something which attracts a lot of attention, like angrily shouting at staff in an airport terminal or hotel lobby
- Siblings (brothers and sisters)
- To bet that something will/would happen (to be sure it will/would happen) “I bet that England get knocked out of the World Cup on penalties” or “I bet it rains this afternoon”.
- To shrug your shoulders
- To grit your teeth = (literally) clench your jaw so your teeth are held tightly together (idiom) to decide to do something even though you don’t want to “I had to tell my dad that I’d crashed his car, so I just gritted my teeth and told him”)
- A cast / a plaster cast
- To be able to afford something “We couldn’t afford it” “We can’t afford it” (use ‘be able to’ after modal verbs when you can’t use ‘can’ – “We won’t be able to afford it”)
- A cripple (offensive word)
- To get picked on
- To get teased
- To make fun of someone
- To get bullied
- To get catcalled
- To flash a smile
- A blinding smile
- To take that as a yes
- To get upset
- To get fired
- To skip lunch
- A scholarship
- To be stunned
- To soften your voice
- To talk back
- To sneak into the kitchen
- To sneak money back into your wallet
- Fight – fought – fought
- Buy – bought – bought
- To cheat on someone
- To freak someone out
- To make it up to someone
- To raise your voice
- To shout
- To scream
- To cave (in)
- Emotional outbursts
- To melt
- To punch someone in the jaw
- To stare blankly
- Stand up for yourself
- A mess
- Deadly / the deadliest
American English / British English
- Fifth grade – Fifth year
- Pants – trousers
- Mad – angry
- To figure something out – to work something out
- To yell – to shout
- A jerk – an idiot
- To take out the trash – to take the rubbish out
- Chores – housework
- To punch someone in the jaw – to punch someone in the face