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Episode 1. Cómo ir de un nivel A2 a un nivel C1. Monica Stocker’s Podcast.

Episodio para descargar.

Este es el primer episodio, del que espero sea una lista larga de episodios de mi nuevo podcast: Monica Stocker’s podcast.

En primer lugar, me gustaría dar las gracias a Samuel, mi alumno, profesor de educación física en Talavera de la Reina (España), que ha aceptado acompañarme en este reto y de quien tanto he aprendido.

Como verás, Samuel nos desvela sus “armas secretas” (secret weapons /sikret wuepons/) para conseguir ir de un nivel A2 a un nivel B2, en aproximadamente 3 años.

También en este podcast hablamos del nivel advanced, C1, de las diferencias entre niveles, de la diferencia entre “say” y “tell”, de cómo traducir el tercer condicional y mucho más.

¡No te lo pierdas!



Hello and welcome to Monica Stocker’s podcast. My name is Mónica and I’m an English teacher. Si hablas español y quieres mejorar tu inglés este es tu podcast.

Episode 1. Cómo ir de un nivel A2 a un nivel C1 en inglés.

Monica: I’m very excited to start this new podcast with one student and the topic for today is going to be English levels. How to know your English level and how to use those English levels, many things related to English levels. What do you need to know for each level. I have as a guest, Samuel today.
I have known him for some time already. I would like you to tell us a little bit about yourself, so what do you do? Why are you interested in learning English

Samuel: Well, first of all my name is Samuel as you said before I work as a teacher. I’m a lucky man because I’m working in one of my passions, teaching. And what do you teach?
I’m PE, Physical Education teacher. And one of the reasons to learn English is because I would like to teach my students in English.
Mónica: Ok, You have quite a good level. And where are you from Samuel?
Samuel: I’m from Spain. I live in a small town called Talavera de la Reina, near Madrid.
Mónica: Ahh, that’s not far away from Madrid. Talavera de la Reina. Near Toledo.
Samuel: One hour
Mónica: One hour away from Madrid. Está a una hora. It’s one hour away
Samuel: Ahaha
Mónica: I’ll write it down for you.
Samuel: I’ve got it.
Mónica: So, how long have you been studying English.
Samuel: Well, seriously. I studied English since 2015 more or less seriously because when I was a kid I studied English in the school but I did not properly. And because I have never spoken, I have never listened to English like this I can say that 3 years ago I wasn’t able to understand anything in English. I wasn’t understand and communicate with anybody and now I can understand something. I can listen.
Mónica: That’s very good.What have you done to get to this level? I think your level is around B2+.
Samuel: to be honest, I think my level might be low-intermediate, low B2.
Mónica: But it depends. The level is not even.
You can have a speaking level that’s is different from the grammar level, that’s is different from the listening level, so I’m just judging your speaking level. For me it’s like a B2+. You’re quite fluent. And I think it’s more or less B2+. I think when I met you some time ago, like 2 or 3 years ago, you were like A2. Beginner, beginner, right?
Samuel: I recall.
Mónica: Incredible!
You were doing classes with one of our teachers. I think it was Sisca and you continued to work on this.
Samuel: Yeah.

Mónica: What kind of activities did you do? For example, give us an idea.
Samuel: Well, for example, the best thing that I think I have is that I have English like a habit.
Mónica: Ahh, that’s very important!
Samuel: As soon as I get up I listen to English and I study some English, about grammar or something like that. At the moment, I’m really interested in speaking and listening.
Mónica: That’s very good. That’s one of the things I always say to my students. It has to be a habit. It cannot be like something you do every once in a while, every two weeks. No, no, no. It has to be like something you do every morning.I has to be part of your everyday life, they say. That’s perfect. That’s very good advice.I think everybody should listen to but most people don’t because it’s hard.You have to get used to it.
Samuel: It’s really, really hard to understand everything.
Mónica: Yes, and so speaking about levels, different levels. You think you went from an A2 level. Let’s say A1 for the people that don’t know is almost absolute beginner and A2 is a beginner with some knowledge, you have the basic knowledge, like introductions, weather or
Samuel: some vocabulary
Mónica: basic vocabulary. And that was Samuel, I don’t know if 2 or 3 years ago.Right?
Samuel: Yes.
Mónica: And know is B2, I would say B2+. At least for speaking.What is the hardest thing for you? Is it listening? Is it writing? What do you think is the hardest (thing)?
Samuel: As I said before, as I never did, for example, listening to English or speaking with anybody for me my weakness would be speaking and listening.
Mónica: No. But now. Ok. Now speaking is not your weakness. Perhaps listening now or not?
Samuel: Yeah, it depends on the situation
Mónica: Yeah, the situation, of course.
Samuel: For example, If I can listen a basic level or for example I have a two beautiful daughters and I can see cartoons with them I can understand now because recently I can’t understand anything but now I can understand.

Mónica: I couldn’t understand anything.Past Tense.
Samuel: Ok, thank you. Or wasn’t able.
Mónica: Or I wasn’t able. That’s also possible.
Samuel: Okay, Okay.
Mónica: Continue please.
Samuel: And now I can understand for example, Pepa Pig, Ben y Holly and I’m so glad …
Mónica: To be able to do this. So you watch cartoons with your daughters.You have two daughters. No?
Samuel: Yeah, two daughters.
Mónica: They watch cartoons in English? You ask them to watch in English? Do they complain?
Samuel: Obviously.
Mónica: So, that’s very important. That’s another thing that I would like to emphasize. That if you have children one of the most important things you should do is have them listening to English all the time.
Samuel: All the time, all the time. Every single day.
Mónica: If it’s possible.
Samuel: It’s important, it’s important. It’s like a sport because-
Mónica: It’s like a Sport.

Samuel:It’s like a Sport because. Actually I’m keen on doing Sports.
Monica: Actually. What do you mean? Currently? That’s also false friend.Or do you mean really? Actually is a false friend. Be careful with that word, cause actually means “realmente”. It doesn’t mean “actualmente”. If you want to say “actualmente”, you have to say “currently”.
Samuel: As a matter of fact, for example.
Mónica: That’s a different thing. Currently means Actualmente. OK?
Samuel: Ok
Mónica: Did you mean realmente o actualmente?
Samuel: Realmente. Really
Mónica: Actually is correct. Sorry, what were you saying?
Samuel: I forgot.
Mónica: You forgot. You were talking about your daughters and about doing sports.
Samuel: As I said before or as I mentioned, I’m really keen on doing sport and my main sport now is English. Ok? And because I need to train a little bit (of) English, every single day because it makes me feel good. It makes me feel happy. Because I felt more confident than before.
Mónica: I feel more confident.
Samuel: I feel more confident and I’m so happy.
Mónica: Also you made a very big effort. That’s very good because it’s not easy to do it. If you, if you have to give a piece of advice to teachers that are in your situation what would you say to them?
Samuel: Well, fortunately I realize that English can, could be really, really useful, ok? And I figured out that I can say there are three secret weapons. (RIGHT pronunciation is: wuepons) for me to learn a new language. In my case, English.
The first one, I would to say that you have to live the language. You can use, you can speak, you can listen every single day. You can talk in English.It’s the first one I think.
The second one, I would say that your English makes me, you feel good. It means that it has enjoyable.
Mónica: That it has to be enjoyable.
Samuel: Enjoyable, yeah. You can find a thing that you, which you like, for example, as I said before, I’m really fond of doing exercise or doing sports and I try to find things about it and it’s really, really motivating for me. It’s the key. And, finally, I guess that the final thing, I would like to that it doesn’t matter or I don’t mind making mistakes. Mistake (s) are not bad. It’s totally different. Mistakes are excellent opportunities or excellent thing to learn. And for me, three things would be the key for me to learn a new language.
Mónica: Let’s summarize this.I think there are very wise pieces of advice. You know, advice is not countable so you have to say “pieces of advice” or “advice”. The first one is to live the language. I found that sentence very nice. To live the language, that express everything. To live with the language, one of the things that I always say and this also fits into the idea of getting into your habits, part of your habits. The second one is that you have to enjoy it.
Samuel: Absolutely.
Mónica: And how do you enjoy it if you -that’s a question I have- if you are not especially motivated by English. How do you get that motivation?
Samuel: For example in my case I really love watching Youtube videos, about for example, personal develop.
Mónica: Personal development?
Samuel: Personal development I recommend it and…
Mónica: And what you mean is that you love to watch them in English these videos. Right?
Samuel: How to learn English, or how to pronounce different words. There are -as you know- hundred and thousands webs about how to to learn English in our case.
Mónica: Yeah, of course. There are many, there are thousands. So what you’re saying, what I understand is that there has to be a connection between something that you like and the English language.
So for example, I like to watch videos on personal development and it so happens that most of these videos are in English, so that’s one reason why I would like to know what they are saying, that’s motivates me to learn English. That’s what you’re saying? You find a connection between the two.
Right, Samuel?
Samuel: I agree. It’s right.
Mónica: That’s very good. That’s a very good idea.I must say I do the same.
Samuel: For example, I recommend I was thinking about it, there is an excellent web called “big speeches in English”, with subtitles.
Mónica:Big speeches, discursos.
Samuel: Aha
Mónica: With subtitles?
Samuel: With great subtitles. And you can watch celebrities and famous people to make a speech.
Mónica: Talking?
Samuel: Or TV shows or programs, it’s a select, it’s a …some famous videos and I recommend it because it’s really, really amazing videos. It’s a great…
Mónica: Why do you say “great subtitles”? With “big subtitles”? What do you mean? You can adapt the size of the subtitles?
Samuel: Yeah because these subtitles is high …. according to talk, the…. for example. You can follow easily.
Mónica: Of course if the subtitles are bigger, it’s easier to follow and you can adapt the speed or only the size?
Samuel: Everyhting.
Mónica: Everything, the speed and the size?
Samuel: Yeah.
Mónica: Ok. But this is on Youtube or is it on another platform?
Samuel: No, I found it on Youtube.
Mónica: That’s a good tip. Let’s rewind a little bit .Rebobinar, to rewind because we are going sidetracks. Estamos yendo por laterales. One is to live the language, you already said it. Make it a habit. To enjoy it, and my question there was how do you enjoy it if you don’t enjoy it. For example, there are some situations…
Samuel: There is another good option.
Mónica: Yeah.
Samuel: To enjoy it, for example, if I want to practice my English I will connect with native people through specific web, or a specific app such as Italki or YouTalk.
Mónica: This is language exchange?
Samuel: Language exchange.
Mónica: So, you teach them Spanish and they teach you English. Is it easy to find people or is it difficult?
Samuel: It depends on your interest. Ok? Because first it’s not easy, but you can insist, you can text a lot different people and you can find a partner that he can, or he wants to learn Spanish and you can help him or her, and some days you can connect with him or with her and in my case I’m a lucky man because I didn’t have any problems to find people. I have some native friends and I can connect with them.
Mónica:That’s a very good topic also to speak in another podcast: what exactly to do with the language exchange. So, this is another topic because I think some people don’t know exactly what to talk about, what can you teach, who are you going to meet. Let’s go to the third point.
Samuel: Yeah,the third point is..
Mónica: You shouldn’t worry about your mistakes. Right?
Samuel: Yeah, absolutely.
Mónica: I completely agree with that because we are very worried about our mistakes and that prevents us (impide) from talking and that’s not very good because at the end you don’t say anything. That’s very important, but sometimes this is not possible when you are very shy (tímido). if you are very shy then it’s not so easy to do this because you are always worried about what are the people going to think about me. But Samuel doesn’t have that problem because he decided to record with me this podcast.
Samuel:I don’t have any problem.
Mónica:That’s very good. So what? Sometimes I say to myself. I used to be very shy too. I remember at the beginning when I started on the internet and I thought, my god, what are they going to think? There was a moment when you just don’t worry anymore, you just say “I’ll do it”, “who cares”, besides there are so many people doing thins nowadays online. Especially young generations, they start not only podcasting, Youtubers, instragrammers or… they are doing so many things. They expose themselves so much, you know. So, who is going to care about you? I always think, who is going to notice you? there are so many people doing the same. This is what I think.
Samuel: I agree with you.
Mónica:Nobody really notices this.
Samuel:For example, I don’t mind speaking English with native people and whatever in English obviously and I can try to speak every single day.
Mónica:Yeah, that’s also very important because you make the time and you save a lot of money because if you have to take classes, it’s also more expensive.Ok, so going back to our topic, because we are always going sidetracks.To our topic of levels. I was saying at the beginning that there are different levels, really and one student can have different levels regarding the different aspects of the language. So one level for the grammar, one level for the speaking and sometimes, for example, I find many times people who have a very high level in Use of English or grammar and a very low level in speaking. Th
at is because of the way they studied. Right?
Samuel: ..It depends on the skills, because there are four main skills and Spanish people are good at writing, reading and Use of English and grammar, but …

Mónica: But it has to do with the method they used to study. And the method was basically more reading and not listening or speaking and that’s the problem that most people have. Right?
But, then you have …I would like to describe a little bit the levels. For you, what is your target level? What level do you think will make you feel comfortable with the English language?
Samuel: First of all, I would like to take an advanced level.
Mónica: Advanced level.
Samuel: I would like to polish my English right now to be honest my level might be an intermediate level, but I think, there is a huge step to intermediate.
Mónica: From intermediate to advanced.
Samuel: From intermediate to advanced, I think. Because as you say me before (should be: as you told me before).
Mónica: As you said before or as you told me.
Samuel: As you told me, not only are you good at, in grammar or Use of English, or in English but also should be good at, in all the skills, like speaking and listening.
Mónica: Yes, yes. It takes a long time. So, under your view what do you think you need to get to an advanced level?
Samuel: I guess that if you want to get an advanced level you won’t have any problems with simple things, like verbs or grammar and also you can understand everything in English in whatever situation.
Mónica: Ok, but I would say under my view I have thought a lot about this. I even wrote a course about this and under my view the most important thing is to start with the structures and especially the verb tenses. The verb tenses is the first thing that makes a difference between a B2 level and a C1 level, for example. When people can…when people have a good command of the English tenses normally they can be categorized as C1, as an advanced level. The vocabulary, you also have to have a lot of vocabulary. But that’s another thing. The first thing I think for me is the verb tenses. And one of the things, for example, at the beginning when we were speaking, when we started this conversation I asked you, how long you had been studying English and you said to me…..How do you say that? Can you answer to me how long you have been studying English?
Samuel: Yeah. I’ve been studying English since 2015.
Mónica: I don’t know if I didn’t hear you well or but I thought you said: “I had studied English” or something like that.
There is a structure there, for example, “llevo hablando inglés”, “llevo viviendo en esta ciudad” . To say that in English, you have to say: I have been or I’ve been studying English for… (lo que sea) or since (specific date, 2015). It’s very important to make these correlations because in you head you are thinking: “llevo” and then you choose the wrong tense.
Samuel:There are subtle details.
Mónica: Exactly. Subtle details. Sutiles detalles.
Samuel:Subtle details are crucial.
Mónica:Yes, exactly.
Samuel: To show your level.
Mónica: And the other very, very important factor that makes a difference between a B2 and C1 is use of conditionals, because many times people have a B2 level and they know how to use the conditionals. And the moment you ask them a conditional, they have trouble thinking how do I answer this. For example, I’m going to test Samuel. Let’s see if he can make it.

Samuel: I’m afraid, I’m afraid.
Mónica: It doesn’t matter as you said it. One of the three things that you have to have to learn English well is not to be afraid of making mistakes. I also make mistakes because I’m not perfect.
Samuel: Ok. Let’s get the ball rolling.
Mónica:Very good. Let’s get the ball rolling.
So my question is: how would you translate “Si lo hubiera visto te lo habría dicho”.
Samuel: If I had seen
Mónica:seen it. If I had seen it.
Samuel: I would’ve say it to you.
Mónica:Normally, we would use tell. How would it be with “tell”.
Samuel: I would’ve told you.
Mónica:Very good. Can you say it again?
Samuel: If I had seen
Mónica: seen it porque es “lo”.
Samuel: Ok. If I had seen it, I would have told you.
Mónica: Very good, excellent. You see, you are getting to the advanced level
Samuel: I wish.
Mónica: That’s the third conditional and that’s not very easy to translate. Most people make mistakes with this conditional because the structure is very complex, also complex in Spanish, but you have to get to the point where you don’t even have to think about.Right? You just say it. Si lo hubiera visto no lo habría dicho. There is one thing. Now I remember. You were talking about say and tell. Do you know the difference? What is the difference?
Samuel: More or less.
Mónica: Ok. Tell me.
Samuel: I know not the difference, but I know when I use “say”, I know that after that you can use “to”, “say to you”, “say to everybody”.
Mónica:That’s correct.
Samuel:But on the other hand, if you use “tell”, you can use the pronoun before, following the verb: Tell you.
Mónica: Tell me, tell him. But that’s one difference. It’s more, that’s a difference related more to grammar but not to the meaning.
Samuel: It would be “say things”. And “tell”, “tell story”.
Mónica: Yeah, that’s called in English a “collocation”. Collocation is when two words or three words go together in a certain order. For example, tell a story. You don’t say: say a story. So basically we have two differences. Say is to say only one thing. That’s why it’s: say a word, say your name. Only one thing. And that’s why is incorrect sometimes to use “say” when you mean something longer. When you mean something longer, so meaning more than one thing, you use “tell”. Right? So that’s the main difference.And then, there is another difference and this is collocations. This means that you have to use “say” with certain words like “say good-bye”, “say hello”, “say a
word”, “say your name”. All these are collocations. And “tell”. “Tell a joke”, “tell a story”. You have to know the collocations and then you can also say that “tell” is used for an order or instruction. For example, “I told you not to do that”. You use that with little children. This kind of expression. Te dije que no lo hicieras. I told you. In that case, it’s not “say”. So, “I told you to clean up your room”. Te dije… it’s confusing for a Spanish speaker because “decir” in Spanish is only one. You can use as say and as tell. Te dije que limpiaras tu habitación. I told you to clean you room and you didn’t do it. So it’s an order. An order or an instruction.
In our next class I’m going to ask you. What I usually do is to ask the vocabulary and I start asking this grammar rule for example. So what I do is I write the rule on Skype, this is like my notebook and the next class I’m going to ask the vocabulary. If we have any vocabulary or any rule. Because at the beginning we were talking about, I was telling you, I was saying “make sure there is no background noise”. So what’s the meaning of background noise?
Samuel: Background noise is in Spanish “ruido de fondo”.
Mónica: Yeah. So, make sure there is no background noise. Sometimes you cannot make sure. It’s the best.

So, a little bit to wrap up about the level.

For example, if you want to know if you have a B2 level you can take a mock exam, un “mock exam” es un examen de prueba, and see what your score is. First Certificate for example. If you do this mock examination there you can check your level. That’s a way to test it. You would need somebody to do the speaking and the writing, but you can test the grammar, the use of English, and the reading. Another way could be just talking to a native and see how far you can go. If the native speaker has any idea about levels, if you are kind of fluent, you are between a B2 and C1. C1 is more like you don’t make so many mistakes with the verb tenses. I said one important thing in order to tell your level is how you manage the verb tenses. Let me do the last one. The last challenge for Samuel. “¿Se lo hubieras contado si ella te lo hubiera pedido?”. That’s very difficult.
Samuel: If I had told…
Mónica:¿Se lo hubieras contado? It’s a question. This is inverse, the “if” is in the second place. ¿Se lo hubieras contado si …?
Samuel:Had you told her?
Mónica:No. It’s a question. Would you have? Would you? It’s the other way around. It’s not an affirmative, it’s a question and we start with “would”. Would you have told…?
Samuel: Would you have told her or him?
Mónica: Her or him if…si yo te lo hubiera pedido.

Samuel: If I had asked?
Mónica: asked you. Very good.Would you have told him or her If I had asked you? Asked you? That case is the past perfect, the sentence that goes with if is the past perfect and the question is: Would + subject + have + past participle of the main verb.
Samuel:I have to practice.
Mónica. That’s very difficult translation. That’s a C1 translation. C1-C2. No wonder it’s difficult for you, but you did it quite well I thought.
Samuel:My next challenge.
Mónica: If we can, we’ll meet another time and we’ll continue with this conversation and we’ll choose a topic for every week. Bye-bye.
Samuel: Bye.

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