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So that’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/italki. Take your English to the next level today!
OK, let’s start the episode.
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is The Paper Man. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Paper. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Paper. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So before the main story today, we have a personal story from a listener. Last week we had a personal story from Sudha Saravanan and today we have a personal story from Nguyễn Ngọc Tiến. I hope I pronounced your name correct, Nguyễn!
This is a really motivating story. If you feel like it is really hard to study, you are losing energy, hopefully this story will give you some motivation, some energy, to continue. Nguyễn emailed me this story and I really wanted to share it because it is very personal and I think you will enjoy it.
So I’ll just explain a few words that are in Nguyễn’s story.
Someone who is blind cannot see. Some people are blind from birth, and never see the world. Some people become blind because of an accident or disease. Some people are partially blind, and some people are fully blind. Blind people usually wear black glasses to show that they are blind, and some use sticks to walk around. You can also be colourblind, which is when you can’t see certain colours.
Someone who is disabled has something that makes it harder for them to live. For example, some disabled people cannot walk and use a wheelchair, a chair with wheels. Some disabled people are blind, they cannot see. Some disabled people have a disability to do with their brain, how they see the world. Unfortunately, disabled people are often treated badly in society.
When you insult someone, you say something mean, something unkind to them. For example, if you say ‘You’re ugly!’ that’s an insult. You hurt someone with words.
If someone is jealous of you, they want something that you have but they don’t have. For example, maybe you have a Playstation, and your friend wants a Playstation as well. They see you playing it and they feel really jealous. Why can’t they have a Playstation, too?
OK, let’s get into Nguyễn’s story.
Most people are born into this world with a healthy body, but I am not like most people. I was born blind.
Growing up, I asked myself many questions. Will I be OK? Will people make fun of me? Can I go to school? I was so different to everyone else.
My parents sent me to school, but things went badly, and I don’t like to remember that time. In the end, I left elementary school at age 9.
Instead, I went to a school for disabled and non-disabled students. Bit by bit, I opened up. The insults stopped, and I made friends, and I grew closer to the non-disabled students.
After 9 years of school, I learned something: when people say something bad behind your back, it’s because they are jealous of what you are doing.
I am studying English so that one day I can study in another country. I know it will be difficult for me, but if I try my best, then even if I fail, it will be a great experience for me.
I also use my English knowledge to teach those less lucky than me, because I strongly believe that nobody should be left behind.
That’s the kind of person I am. I never give up.
Thank you again, Nguyễn, for your lovely story. And thank you for listening to the podcast!
Today’s main story I wrote with one of my students, Lina. Lina is a young writer with some brilliant ideas and I think she is going to become a really good writer. So thanks again, Lina, I really enjoyed writing this story with you.
By the way, there will be some more conversation, some more talk, but after the story, because now, for the beginner episodes, I am doing the conversation after the story. So when the story finishes, keep listening!
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A human is a person. A human is not an animal, insect or alien. Another name for human is “homo sapiens”.
Keep away means to stay away, to not go near. For example, if you are sick and you don’t want to make other people sick, you might say, ‘Keep away!’
When you burn something, you put fire on it. If you put your hand on the cooker and the cooker is on, you will burn your hand and it will go red. If you burn wood, it goes black. If you leave food in the oven for too long, it will also go black.
When the wind blows, it goes whoosh whoosh. If the wind is blowing very strongly, it can be hard to walk around.
When you scrunch up a piece of paper, you crush it, you destroy it in your hand. It sounds like this: [scrunches up piece of paper]. Usually, you scrunch it into a ball. If you are drawing and you make a big mistake, you might scrunch up the paper into a ball and throw it in the bin.
If you then decide that you actually want that drawing, you will have to take the paper out of the bin and flatten it out—that’s flatten out. When you flatten out something, you make it flat.
Cardboard is like paper, but harder. When you order something online, or buy something in a shop, it often comes in a cardboard box. If you are very creative, you can cut up cardboard to make art with it.
A giant is a magical creature that is very, very big. Basically, a giant is a very big person. In Harry Potter, Hagrid is half-giant. In fairy tales, giants are very scary, and they sometimes eat humans.
If you attack someone, you are trying to hurt them. You might attack them with a weapon, like a knife or a gun. Or you might attack someone with words, and say that they are ugly or stupid.
When you save someone, you take them out of danger. For example, if a cat is in a tree and can’t get down, you can climb up and take it out, and you are saving it. If you save someone’s life, they will like you very much, usually. At least, that’s what happens in films!
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Paper Man
Once there was a man made of paper. He was called the Paper Man. He lived in a town called Dull. In Dull, the people hated anyone strange. They hated clowns, they hated magic people and they hated anyone who didn’t do what they did. Of course, they hated the Paper Man as well, because humans are not made of paper!
Because of this, the Paper Man hated himself. It was a hard life being made of paper. Every time someone made fire he had to keep away, or he would be burnt. Every time the wind blew, he went flying down the street. Every time it rained, he got wet and it took him hours to dry out. When he had an accident, he got scrunched up and had to flatten himself out again. Sometimes, when he sat in a café or an office, people came and tried to write on his arm. He had a very hard life, and he just wanted to be a human like everyone else.
So one day the Paper Man decided to change how he looked. He went out and bought some paint. He painted a human body over himself. He painted a normal-looking man, and he hoped that people would see him and think he was real. He went outside to show his new body to everyone.
First, when people saw him walking down the street, they thought he was a normal person just like them. But when he came closer, his pages moved in the wind. But his hair did not move, and his eyes didn’t move, and when he spoke his mouth didn’t move. He was clearly not a human. Then it rained, and all the paint came off, and he was just a Paper Man again. Everyone laughed at him, and he ran home crying.
Next, he tried using cardboard boxes to make a human body. Then he painted a body on the cardboard, and put some clothes on it. Finally, he made eyes and a mouth out of cardboard. He had a human suit! He could move the eyes and mouth from inside the suit. He practised a lot with his human suit, and finally he went into the world.
This time, people thought it really was a human. But the Paper Man couldn’t see where he was going, and it was hard to walk and move the mouth and eyes at the same time. One day, he was walking down the street and he fell over. The cardboard broke, and it looked like he had had a horrible accident. The people around him screamed.
‘This man is hurt! Call an ambulance!’
The Paper Man got up and ran home, and after that day he never went outside again.
But one day, a giant came and attacked the city. He picked up houses and ate all the people inside. He broke everything he saw, and all the townspeople screamed and ran away.
The Paper Man did not run away, however. He did not have anything to live for. He would never be a real human, and there was no need for him to live. So he walked out to meet the giant.
‘Come on, you big horrible thing!’ said the Paper Man. ‘Kill me!’
The giant turned around and laughed. ‘Hah, OK then!’ he said, and stood on the Paper Man.
But the Paper Man did not die. Because he was made of paper, he was just scrunched up. When the giant moved his foot, he quickly flattened himself out.
‘What is this little thing?’ said the giant. ‘I stood on it and it didn’t die!’
‘Come on, you horrible giant! Kill me!’
So the giant stood on the Paper Man again and again, but every time the Paper Man was just scrunched up, and he flattened himself out again. The Paper Man was not hurt at all.
But the giant’s foot was not so lucky. It had lots of small paper cuts on it, and blood was coming out of them.
‘Ow, ow, ow! How is this horrible man hurting me?! Owwww!’
The Paper Man was tired of this. If the giant couldn’t kill him, he wanted to go back home.
‘Go away!’ shouted the Paper Man. ‘Go eat some other city! Or I’ll cut your whole body!’
‘Eep! No, thank you!’
The giant ran away and all the people came back and cheered.
‘You saved us! You saved us!’ cried the people.
‘Did I?’ said the Paper Man. He had not thought about it, but it was true. The city was safe because he made the giant leave.
The people lifted the Paper Man up and carried him through the town. It was easy because paper is light. They had a big party, and sang songs about the Paper Man and the giant.
Everyone loved him. Sure, he wasn’t human like the others, but it didn’t matter. He had saved the town!
After that day, the people of Dull did not hate strange things anymore. Now they loved everything strange. Every time a new person came to town, it did not matter if they were a clown, a magic person or even a man made of paper. The people of Dull welcomed them all.
I hope you liked the story. This story was inspired by Dixit cards.
Inspired means I got the ideas for this story, or rather, we, because I wrote the story with Lina, so we got the ideas for this story from Dixit, which is a game.
So Dixit is a fantastic game. If you go the Easy Stories in English live stream, you will know Dixit. So it is a collection of cards and the cards have beautiful pictures on them. The pictures are very interesting. Sometimes they are strange, sometimes they are funny, sometimes they are scary. But they are all very different.
Normally, when you play Dixit, you have three-to-six people and everyone takes a few cards. Then each person has a turn. So your turn is when you play.
When it is your turn you choose a card in your hand and you say a sentence or a word that described it. It could be a very clear sentence, or it could be a very unclear sentence. Basically, you are trying to tell a little story with the card.
Then everyone else chooses a card from their hand that they think is similar, that also works with that word or sentence.
After that, all the cards are mixed and then they are put in the centre of the table. Then comes the really interesting part. Everyone has to choose a card. They choose the card they think is the original card, so the card that the first person chose. If everyone chooses the original card, then that person does not get any points. But if nobody chooses that card, then they don’t get any points. So you want to choose a word or sentence which is clearly linked, clearly related, to the card but not really, really obvious. So it is a really difficult game and it is very creative, very fun.
But I use the cards when I teach in a slightly different way. I use the cards to inspire stories. So we used three Dixit cards to get ideas for today’s story.
Recently, I also got a tarot deck. Tarot is a kind of card, well, a collection of cards that is often used for fortune telling, for reading the future. But these tarot cards that I got are really beautiful, they all have interesting pictures, so I also use those to help think of ideas for stories. Really, when you write, the more you write, the more ideas you have, but it’s nice to have some help sometimes.
A lot of people use writing prompts. So a prompt is an idea, a piece of writing that helps you. So maybe you don’t know what you want to write so you have a writing prompt, and the writing prompt says, ‘Imagine you live in a castle but the castle is made of glass,’ for example. And then you write a story about that.
Writing prompts can be really good but I think sometimes they are too much, they give you too much ideas. I mean, they give you a very specific idea, and so you will not produce a very interesting story. But I find pictures are really great because pictures, you can come up with lots of different ideas from just one picture, and they can be good just to help you start and then once you start writing, the ideas will come more easily.
A lot of people think that when it comes to writing stories, you just have to wait for the good ideas to come. That doesn’t really work. Actually, often the ideas that come are OK ideas, but to have really good ideas you have to think about it a lot and write a lot. So ideas are not something passive, something you just receive, you have to also be a bit active, you have to help ideas grow.
I think of it like a garden. You put an idea in the ground, you plant an idea, and you water it, and some ideas grow into beautiful plants and some do not.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the story. By the way, you may have noticed that today I am talking very slowly and very clearly. I know in the beginning of the podcast I talked really slowly and clearly, and I think recently I have been talking more quickly, and that is not good because I want everyone to understand my stories and understand what I am saying.
But maybe for you it’s too slow. So if you could comment and tell me, I would really like that. Please comment and say what your level is, are you beginner, intermediate or advanced in English, and is this speed a good speed? Am I talking slowly, too slowly, too quickly? Please let me know, OK? Because I want the podcast to be useful and understandable for everyone.
If you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.