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Learn English with Audio: Listening Practice About Bullied Reindeer

A photograph of a real raindeer pulling a sled on a snowy day, Used as the cover image for Article “Learn English with Audio: Listening Practice About Bullied Reindeer Cover Image”

​Summary: Learn English Audio

​Before you can learn to speak any language, you need to understand much more of what you hear than you can speak. If I were to take a guess about how much more I would say you need to hear and understand 3 times the vocabulary of the language, you intend to use in a spoken conversation. So if you want to speak for 5 minutes about a topic you need to listen to 15 minutes of conversation in that language on the same topic and understand it all.

Sounds unfair doesn’t it but it makes sense. When you start a conversation with someone, neither of you know where the conversation might lead. Even when the topic being discussed is very obvious.

For example, you might stop someone on the street and ask someone for the time. You are listening for the response and expect to hear the time 1:30pm but they talk about how they lost their watch this morning at the swimming pool and left their mobile phone at home and don’t know the time.

If all you had listened to to prepare for this conversation was English audio lessons on time, clocks and watches. You would not be ready for a normal conversation. You need to listen to lots and lots and lots of English conversation which include times and the things that get mentioned when time is part of the conversation.

Adept English provides a lot of free English audio lessons designed to help you learn through listening.

​Audio Transcript: Learn English with Audio: Listening Practice About Bullied Reindeer

​Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. This is our Thursday podcast and therefore slightly easier, maybe a bit shorter sometimes than our Monday podcast. And we are here with our usual purpose, which is to help you learn English and in particular, helping you to improve your spoken English conversation through listening.

​So today’s podcast. Let’s have a talk about a topical subject. So this is a ‘Learn English by Listening’ podcast. I talk about something that’s topical, meaning that it’s a subject that’s being discussed right now. I will call out any words or phrases which may be difficult vocabulary, words that you don’t know. And it gives you something interesting to listen to in English, for practice. Even though, it’s not specifically about the English language. Does that sound good? OK then. So as usual, if you listen to this podcast a number of times, until you understand all the vocabulary and this will really help you improve your understanding of spoken English and help you speak English more fluently.

​Huffpost posts suggest banning a popular Christmas song

​So this week Huffpost, which is a US-based news website and blog. It used to be known as ‘Huffington Post’ or ‘The Huffington Post’ and it’s been around since 2005. So it’s an American website and people express opinions on there, so sometimes it’s a good measure of what people are thinking. Well, last week, there were calls on Huffpost to ban ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. Now this is a very famous Christmas story written originally in 1939 – and the song, which you may know, is based on the book. Now in case you don’t know this song, you can put ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ into your search engine to find it and you soon will know it! Rudolph is a name, Red-Nosed simply means that Rudolph’s nose is red and a Reindeer is a deer – an animal, the kind that is meant to pull Santa or Father Christmas’s sleigh. I’m pretty sure that wherever you are in the world, even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you may well be aware of this story and the song.

A photograph of three girls bullying another girl. Used as an article image for the article “Learn English with Audio: Listening Practice About Bullied Reindeer Article Image”

​Anyway, in America this week, there were calls for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to be banned. ‘Banned’ means ‘not allowed’, nobody must listen to it or hear it. Rudolph must be stopped. And the reason? Well, apparently the story of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ‘promotes bullying’. So vocabulary here – ‘to promote’ means here to give support to, to put something forward as a good idea, a good thing. And the verb ‘to bully’ means that you’re not nice to someone who is smaller, or younger or less powerful than you are. So when they say ‘it promotes bullying’, they mean that the story of Rudolph will encourage people to bully others. The story is saying – apparently – that bullying is a good idea.

​Why this is silly

So in the story of Rudolph, the other reindeers laugh at his red nose and they call him names. It’s true, that’s part of the story. So I would agree that bullying is in the story. But surely that’s different from ‘promoting bullying’. The story isn’t saying that bullying is a good thing. Rudolph wins out in the end – ‘All the reindeers loved him’, that’s what the song says. So it’s a happy ending, and if anything, it’s a story about how someone succeeded in overcoming bullying. Rudolph turns things around, he becomes popular in the end instead.

Even more bizarrely, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was accused of being racist and homophobic. ‘Racist’ means when you are against someone because of their race or because of the colour of their skin. And homophobia is when you’re against someone because they’re gay, because they are attracted to people of the same sex. Now, I don’t remember there being anything about race or being gay in the story of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’. Where I think this idea comes from is that Rudolph was different because of his red nose – and that the bullying which happened to him, and the not being accepted was because he was different. And that might be how you feel if you suffer from racism or homophobia. But surely then, this is a good story – because people who suffer from racism or homophobia may feel the same as Rudolph, they may identify with him. And then when he overcomes the problem and everyone loves him, surely this is an encouraging story for anyone who’s being bullied? Or for anyone who is being badly treated because they’re different?

I think the idea that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer should be banned ‘because it promotes bullying’ is crazy! It’s actually an encouraging story of how to overcome bullying. But in order for the story to make sense, you do have to show in the story Rudolph being bullied. It makes you feel sorry for Rudolph and then you are all the more pleased when the ending comes!

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​Summary and context

​So this news story is part of a wider tendency, which we can see at the moment, to people being overly-sensitive and often missing the point. It happens in the US – HuffPost is a US website and it certainly happens in the UK too. A similar thing, which I was reminded of when I did my bit of research on the HuffPost website for this podcast. And I’m being slightly contentious here! Why do Americans insist on saying ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Happy Christmas’? No other religious festival in the world would call itself something else like ‘Holidays’ in case it offends someone. That’s crazy too. Why don’t we just call it ‘Happy Christmas’! Maybe we should add a ‘Bah, humbug!’ in there too if you know what that means?

​Summary of English Language Vocabulary Used

Anyway, there it is. This has been a podcast about silly people wanting to ban Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, but actually, we’ve covered some good vocabulary – what a reindeer is, the verb ‘to bully’, the verb ‘to promote’ and the words ‘racism’ and ‘homophobia’. So if you have a strong opinion about this, or you think I’m wrong, then please post something on the Adept English Facebook page, or on our site. In English, so that you can practise of course!


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

​PS: Listening to English TV, or videos will not help you

​Although the topic today covered a lot of strange vocabulary and some difficult words to pronounce, you had every advantage I could give you to help you listen and learn the English language quickly:

If you try to learn English by watching TV or a movie, you find that there are many distractions, there is unlikely to be a transcript. There may be many voices with lots of different accents. Sound effects may obscure the voices. It’s just not going to work.

I hope you agree with me and the 150,000 monthly listeners that listen to this English audio podcast every month. Adept English is exactly the help you need to learn to speak English.

​We have lots of other tips on learning to speak English .

If you like this English podcast and want to know when the next podcast is published you can subscribe for an .

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