Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
And welcome to the 100th episode of the podcast! I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show, although all of you are helping today. Today’s story is for intermediate learners. The name of the story is The Wind in Her Hand. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Hand. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Hand. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So this is the one hundredth episode. Wow! I started Easy Stories in English on the 1st of January 2019. So it’s been almost two years now, and the podcast has grown so much. I honestly never expected it to become this successful.
So let me give a brief history of the podcast.
As I just said, I started it in January 2019 in my bedroom in Bristol. Back then, I lived in a house in Bristol with a very small bedroom, and a lot of the recordings had bird noises in the background, because there were lots of loud birds in the garden.
At first, I really didn’t expect the podcast to become that successful. I thought there was the possibility because, when I had the idea of combining storytelling and English learning, I first thought, “This must exist, right? There must already be podcasts like this.”
But when I looked it up, I was very surprised to find that, actually, there weren’t. There are lots of podcasts for English learners, and I’m sure many of you listen to them, but I really couldn’t find any podcasts that had stories that were fun and interesting, easy to understand, but that also had a personal aspect.
So when I started the podcast, I knew a lot of people would listen just because it was something new, but I never expected so many people to listen. So in September of 2019, I started a Patreon account so that I could provide even more resources and also so that all of you could give a bit back to me as a way to say thank you for doing the podcast.
Because it does take a lot of time to make each episode. I have to either write a new story myself, or research a fairy tale or a folk tale, I have to adapt it into easy language, I have to write the script, I have to record it, I have to edit it. Bla bla bla bla bla! Not very interesting, but I really do love putting in the work and, the more I do it, the more I enjoy it. It’s so much fun reading all your comments on the website, your comments on the Patreon, seeing you talk in the Telegram group. It’s just been such a wild ride, and I love it.
And speaking of wild rides, we’ve all been on a very wild ride this year with coronavirus, haven’t we? I don’t think anyone in 2019 could have expected how 2020 was going to go, and certainly, I’ve been very lucky. Nobody I know has gotten seriously ill from coronavirus. I’m in a safe place. I’m OK being home all the time, you know? I don’t live alone. I’m not vulnerable. But it’s been a really difficult year for everyone.
So first of all, I want to thank all of you who have supported on the Patreon, either in the past or currently, because I understand how much that means right now with coronavirus. Many people don’t have a stable money situation, so I really, really appreciate that.
As you probably know, this year, with all of the extra time from quarantine, I went a little crazy, and I started a bunch of new projects for the podcast. I started a YouTube channel, I started doing weekly live streams, I started doing an email newsletter, and I made a chat group on Telegram.
Now, like I said, I went a bit crazy, and I overworked, and I overestimated how much I could actually do as one person. So the YouTube channel and the live streams have stopped, the email newsletter is now just once every two weeks, and the Telegram group is not as active as it used to be.
To be honest, I would love to return to these things at some point in the future, but it’s really not possible for me right now. I have to look after my mental and physical health, but more important, I’m quite busy with my online teaching, and many of you know this because so many people have asked me recently, ‘Oh, I want to book classes, but I can’t. What’s happening?’
Right now, as I’m recording this, I’m not taking any new students on italki, because I’m just too busy. But this may change in 2021. So if you ever want to book a class with me, go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Classes, and if I am not accepting new students, it will say at the top, OK? Assuming I remember to update it! You can always send me an email at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and I will let you know if I am taking on new students.
So anyway, things have come and gone with the podcast, but rest assured, I love it. I want to get to 200, 300, 500 episodes! I can’t wait and I think there are lots of exciting things that are going to happen in the future.
Now comes the really, really fun part for me! I asked you over the last few weeks to send in voice messages saying what you have gained, what you have gotten, from listening to Easy Stories in English, how it has changed the way you learn English. So now we’re going to listen to all of your messages and I’m probably going to break down crying! OK, let’s get started!
Our first message is from Adelia from Indonesia.
Thank you for the lovely message, Adelia! I’m really glad the podcast has helped with your vocabulary. Reading is actually the best way to improve your vocabulary when you’re learning a language, so that’s why I decided to do the podcast in this format. So I’m really glad it’s helping you.
OK, our next message is from Chandra from Indonesia, as well.
Aww, thank you so much, Chandra! It really means a lot to hear you say that I’m your favourite teacher that you found online, ’cause there are so many different resources out there, so that means a lot to me. Thank you so much.
OK, our next message is from Gabriella.
Thank you for the lovely message, Gabriella! I do have to admit, sometimes I think of getting to a thousand episodes, I dream of getting to a thousand episodes, but if I do the current rate of one episode a week, that will take me a long time. That will take me, uh, 18 years? Which, let’s see, in 18 years I will be 45, if my maths is correct, and my maths is often incorrect. So that’s a scary idea! So I might have to start making them a bit quicker, huh?
OK, our next message is from Giusy from Italy.
Thank you, Giusy! It’s so lovely to hear what people get up to while listening to the podcast, what they do. I also love listening to podcasts while going for a walk. I think it’s a great exercise mentally, because you’re getting movement, you’re moving your body, while exercising your mind, as well.
And I’m really glad that you find the episodes easy to understand. I really try hard to make every episode at the beginner and the pre-intermediate levels very understandable, because there is research that shows that, when we understand as much as possible, we actually learn a lot more. So that’s why I do that.
OK, our next message is from Gosia from Poland.
Thank you so much, Gosia, for your message. It’s very true that if we stop studying a language for a while and then we come back, we feel like, “Oh my God, we’ve forgotten everything!” I actually don’t believe that we forget the language, it just goes deeper in our brain. So listening to easy material, like Easy Stories in English, is a fantastic way to revive the language, to bring the language back to life, before moving onto difficult things like books and films.
OK, our next message is from Guido.
Thanks for the lovely message, Guido! You’re not actually the first person this week to tell me that they listen to the podcast to help them fall asleep, and I have to say, every time I hear that, I’m amazed, because it’s so intimate! Like, listening to my stories and my voice to help you sleep? I couldn’t sleep to that! But I’m glad that you can, and I’m really glad that the podcast is helping you. I would love to visit Argentina at some point. It is on the list of countries that I really want to visit.
OK, our next message is from Jimena.
Thank you so much, Jimena! It’s really lovely to listen to your message. And speaking of countries I want to visit, I really want to visit Peru, as well. I hear the food is amazing. So yeah, I’m really glad the podcast could help you!
OK, our next message is from Matthias from Germany.
Thanks so much for the lovely message, Matthias! You have some ambitious goals. For those of you who don’t know, Terry Pratchett is a British author who writes very funny fantasy novels. He’s actually one of the most famous authors in the country, although I should say ‘was’, because he passed away a few years ago. But those books are really, really fun. They’re quite difficult because they have a lot of jokes that are related to British culture, but I think you’ll really enjoy them, Matthias. And it sounds like you’re progressing really well already, so keep up the study!
OK, our next message is from Nicole.
Aww, Nicole, I’m so glad to hear you use that phrase ‘kill two birds with one stone’. That’s really fantastic. I don’t know if you learned that from the podcast, but it came very naturally out of your lips, and I’m also loving hearing that you listen to the podcast while walking in the woods, because the woods are just such a mysterious place, you know? There could be wolves there or something. So it’s really great to hear that the podcast is helping you and that you enjoy it, because when we have fun, we learn so much more.
OK, our next message is from Pedro from Columbia.
Thanks for leaving a message, Pedro! Pedro I’ve actually taught a few times online, so it’s really great to hear from you again. It’s sounding like you’re picking up a bit of the local accent. The way you said ‘lo’ of’ instead of ‘lot of’, that’s very British, so good job, Pedro!
And I’m loving hearing that the podcast is still helping you, even though you’re living in the UK. Of course, with quarantine, it’s probably quite hard to go out and use the language, but it’s important to remember that we can learn so much wherever we are in the world. You don’t have to be living in an English-speaking country to get really fluent, because, hopefully, there are lots of great resources that you will find interesting. Hopefully, my podcast can be part of those resources as well!
OK, the next message is from Ray.
Thanks for the message, Ray! Maybe I should hire you to do the marketing for me, ’cause you did a fantastic job of selling the podcast! But I’m really glad to hear that you enjoy the podcast and that you find it easy to understand. I have to also say thank you to you because you’re from Taiwan and Taiwan is the place where bubble tea was invented, and bubble tea is, like, the best thing ever, so thank you to your country for inventing bubble tea. You changed my life.
OK, the next message is from Uğur.
Aww, Uğur, that’s such a sweet message for you to leave me! You know, I’ve never thought about whether I have a good heart or not, but it’s always nice to hear that from someone else. And yeah, when it’s possible to travel safely, I would love to visit Turkey, Vietnam, India, Italy, all of the countries where there are lots of listeners of the podcast.
I was actually talking with some people in the Telegram group about maybe doing a real-life Easy Stories in English event in northern Italy, perhaps. Or maybe in Turkey, I don’t know. It’s definitely not going to be very soon, but at some point I would love to do an in-person event so I can meet you all.
So thank you again for your message, Uğur, and our last message is from Valentina from Argentina.
Thank you so much, Valentina! It’s so lovely to hear your voice, and I’m so glad the podcast has helped you in your reading comprehension. It’s something that a lot of learners struggle with, but we really need to start off with easy texts that give us a lot of feeling of success, like, that make it feel easy, and then gradually build up to the harder stuff. We want to set ourselves up for success, and it sounds like that’s exactly what you’re doing!
So, thank you all so much for your audio messages! It was such a pleasure to listen to them. I have to say, uh, I didn’t cry, which is probably a good thing, because the last thing you all want to hear is me blubbing away on the podcast! That means crying very loudly. Um, but it was really heartwarming to hear all your messages, and as we now know, I have a good heart, so I guess it deserves to be warm. I have no idea what I’m saying!
But seriously, thank you all so much. I love doing this podcast for all of you.
OK, so I guess we should get onto today’s story, huh? Today’s story is one that I actually originally wrote in a class with one of my students, Lina. There is a previous story on the podcast that I wrote with Lina called The Paper Man, which you can read at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Paper.
In this story, some of the planets are mentioned. So the planets are, for example, Earth, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter and so on. I decided not to explain each planet in the vocab section because I thought, you know, you don’t need to know exactly which planet is which to enjoy the story.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A parasol is a type of umbrella. Umbrellas are used to protect you from the rain, but parasols are used to protect you from the sun. Parasols can be small, ones that you carry about, or they can be big ones that cover entire tables.
Your fist is your hand, but when you close the fingers. You make a fist when you want to punch someone, to hit someone, or when you are really angry. You might also make a fist to hold something in your hand.
The palm is the part of your hand between the fingers and the wrist, the flat part in the centre. Your palm has three big wrinkles on them called life lines, and some people believe you can read your palm to find out your future.
Suck is when you go [sucks]. You pull air quickly into your mouth in order to move something into it, for example a peppermint. Or you might suck on an ice lolly to eat it. A tornado is a type of strong wind that moves around, sucking things into the air.
To snake means to move like a snake. So if you are crawling on the ground, you can say that you are snaking along the ground.
Flutter means to move back and forth, backwards and forwards, very quickly. For example, a flag flutters in the wind. A bird’s wings flutter when it flies. In autumn, leaves flutter to the ground.
A mansion is a big, expensive house where a rich person lives.
Candy floss, or cotton candy, is a sweet that is often sold at fairs and carnivals. Sugar is heated and spun around very quickly onto a stick, making a kind of pink cloud that you can eat. Candy floss is very fun to eat, but it makes a mess of your face, usually.
When you crush something, you squash it, make it completely flat. You usually crush things with your hand or your foot. For example, after you finish drinking a can of Coke, you might crush it for fun. Or if you are very cruel, you might enjoy crushing insects. When cooking, you often need to crush garlic with a knife.
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Wind in Her Hand
Once upon a time, there was a land where the sun never set. Every hour of every day, it shone bright and hot. The people of this land lived in huge cities, where everyone who walked down the street held a parasol. All the parasols pressed together and formed a wall that blocked out the sun, and yet, the people still felt its heat. At night, they covered their windows with thick curtains, and yet, they still felt its light. Whatever they did, they could not escape the sun, and gradually, they came to hate it.
One day, a traveller came to this strange land. She was an old woman with long hair as black as the night, and skin as pale as the moon. Only, in this land nobody knew what the night and the moon were, and so they had no way of describing this woman’s beauty. She held her fists tightly closed, and would not shake anyone’s hand.
‘I can help you,’ she said to the king. ‘I have powerful magic. When I open my palm, a tornado forms. I can suck away the sun so that it won’t bother you ever again.’
The King was surprised by this. ‘That sounds dangerous. Let us test your magic first.’
So he ordered his men to put a pile of paper in the centre of the room. Then the woman carefully opened her palm, and a thin tornado snaked out. The pieces of paper fluttered through the air and were sucked inside.
‘Impressive,’ said the King, ‘but can you handle something heavier?’
So she directed the tornado at the chairs in the room, and one by one they disappeared, too.
‘Very good, but the sun is much larger than that.’
So the woman went outside and pointed to the stones far away on the hill. Then she opened her palm wide, stretching it out, and created a tornado so large that it sucked the heavy stones up like they were nothing.
‘Fantastic,’ said the King. ‘Then I accept your offer. But what do you want in return?’
She pointed to a mansion on the edge of town. ‘I have wandered for many years, and seen most of the world. Now I want to live quietly and not worry about money. So I would like that gorgeous house overlooking the sea, and all the treasure in your castle.’
The King was not happy about this, but he had little choice. If he did not make the people happy, they would get rid of him and make someone else king.
‘I agree to your deal.’
The woman smiled and got to work. She opened both her palms and placed her hands side-by-side. Then she stared up at the sun and concentrated. A huge, fluttering tornado jumped out and blew for several minutes, but the sun didn’t move in the sky.
The city, however, did. Clothes, money and furniture flew out of windows and were eaten up. Fish jumped out of the sea and danced into the air. The clouds themselves were sucked up like candy floss eaten by a greedy child.
But still, the sun did not move.
The woman stopped, panting loudly. She had never created such a powerful tornado before.
‘Take a break,’ said the King, ‘and continue tomorrow.’
‘No,’ she said. ‘I will do this now.’
She clapped her hands together and called up an even bigger tornado. Now roofs ripped off houses, trees tore out of the earth, and cows and pigs flew screaming into the tornado.
‘Stop!’ cried the King.
But the woman did not stop. The tornado blew and blew, and then a horrible sound came from the sky. From far away, circles of blue, red, purple and orange appeared, growing bigger and bigger.
‘What are those?’ said the King, and then screamed when he realised.
They were the very planets themselves: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter… And they were heading straight for the city!
‘Stop right away!’ shouted the King.
But it was too late. The woman could not control the tornado anymore, and the planets continued to fall.
And then, suddenly, everything stopped. The planets froze in the air, mere metres away from crushing the entire country. For the first time ever, the sun’s rays did not reach the land.
‘What is happening?’ hissed the King.
‘I don’t know,’ said the woman. The tornado had frozen like a piece of ice.
And then, a huge voice broke through the sky.
‘If you wanted me to leave, you only needed to ask.’
The people gasped. It was the sun itself!
‘I chose to rule over this land without interruption, because I thought it would bring joy to your people. I have seen how the humans complain in other places, about the cold nights and wet rains. I thought I could convince you to love me for all my beauty, but now I see that I was wrong. The planets are my friends, and I will be taking them back now.’
And with that, the sun opened her lips wide and sucked in all the air in the universe. The planets flew back into the sky, shrinking and shrinking until they disappeared, and the tornado was sucked along with them.
The woman clapped her hands together a few times, but no wind came out.
‘You have failed,’ said the King. ‘The sun still beats down on our land, and now my city is ruined.’
But then something started to happen, something that had never happened in this land.
The sun began to set.
The people came out of their houses, pointed and whispered at the sky, as another figure rose to create the night: the moon.
‘Amazing!’ said the King. ‘I will give you everything you asked for.’
But the woman was gone, as if blown away by a strong wind. The mansion she’d wanted, at any rate, had been sucked up by her tornado. She had wandered away once more.
And so night came to the land of the sun, along with the cold, the rain, and all other such things. Now the people had something new to complain about.
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