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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 pre-intermediate learners. The name of the story is The Mirror of Misurina. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Mirror. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Mirror. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So today’s story is a legend about the origin, the beginning, of a lake and a mountain. This is quite a common idea, I think. In many countries there are beautiful lakes and mountains and the people who live there come up with legends and stories to explain how the lakes and mountains got there. There was a previous episode, The Legend of Lake Toba, that was about a lake in Indonesia. So you can listen to that episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Lake.
Today’s story actually comes from Italy. So it is about the origin of a lake and some mountains in Italy. And today’s story was written and sent in Beatrice Valleferro. So thank you so much, Beatrice. I really enjoyed reading your story and adapting it for the podcast.
And remember that you can send in a story to put on the podcast by emailing me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. It can be a personal story or it can be a legend, a story from your country, or just a story you wrote yourself. I would love to read it and put it on the podcast.
So last week was my birthday. It was my birthday on the fifth of May, and I had a lovely birthday-themed live stream on Saturday, and many of you came, so thank you so much. I had a lot of fun. I ate cake. And if you want to watch the live stream, even though you weren’t there, you can still watch the recording. You can go to the Easy Stories in English YouTube channel. Go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/YouTube.
You will find there that there is not only live streams but also videos. So I have started making videos. As I said before, I asked for some equipment for my birthday to make videos, so now I have some lovely lights, a whiteboard and I can record lovely videos in my room.
So what is the difference between the podcast and the YouTube channel? Well, I have had several people say they love the podcast, but they are complete beginners, or maybe they are a teacher and they have students who are complete beginners. So the beginner stories in the podcast are too difficult for them.
So the main idea of the YouTube channel is to bridge the gap, to solve the problem, the difference, between the beginner level of the podcast and people who are just starting with English. Basically, the videos are mainly for people who are below the beginner level on the podcast.
I am doing that on YouTube rather than the podcast, because if I make a video I can use gestures, I can move my hands, and I can draw pictures to explain the meanings of words, so it is much easier to make very beginner-level podcasts with videos rather than audio.
However, it’s not just going to be videos for beginners. There will also be some videos about my life, some puppet shows, some improvisations, and also some videos on the scientific theory of how we learn languages.
I think it is useful, very useful, to know a bit of the science because then it can help you know how best to study language. And unfortunately, there is a lot of wrong information. A lot of teachers, a lot of books, a lot of websites say things about language which simply aren’t true based on very old scientific evidence, and the modern evidence is actually quite different. We have a very different understanding of language than what it actually is. But anyway, that’s a topic I will cover on a video! I won’t go into it here.
So, to go to the YouTube channel and subscribe, go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/YouTube. Or you can go to YouTube and search “Easy Stories in English”.
Today, before the main story, we have a personal story from a listener, Sudha Saravanan. Sudha is a very faithful listener, she has been listening for a long time, and she always comes to the live streams, and I have talked to her quite a bit through email. Sudha sent a very personal story about her English-learning journey, and I found it very moving, but also very motivating. So I wanted to share it on the podcast. Hopefully, if you are feeling like studying English is really hard, you are losing motivation, this story will give you the energy to continue.
So I will just introduce some words before her story, and then get into it.
NHS stands for, it means, the National Health Service. In the UK, we have a free healthcare system that anyone can use, and this is the NHS. You never have to pay to use it, and they will cover all kinds of problems. Well, in theory. In reality, there are some parts of the NHS you have to pay for, for example dentistry, getting your teeth fixed. The NHS is in a very bad situation at the moment as the government is trying to privatise it, to sell it off to private companies, and so there are many problems with the NHS right now. You have to wait a long time to book an appointment, and sometimes you have to pay to get treatment.
A state is a part of a country. The United States of America is made up of lots of states, e.g. California, Texas and New York. Usually, states only exist in large countries, like America and India. In some countries, states are called prefectures, e.g. China and Japan. In the UK, we do not have states, but we do have counties, although they are not very important. Often when a country has states, they have some independence and can make some decisions on their own.
When someone is humble, it means that they do not boast a lot, they do not talk about how great they are. Even if someone is very clever, very strong or very skilled, if they are humble they will not talk about these things unless someone asks them about it.
“I don’t have a clue” is a phrase that means “I have no idea” or “I don’t know anything about that”. For example, I can say “I don’t have a clue when it comes to mathematics,” because I really don’t know very much about it.
OK, let’s start Sudha’s story.
I am Sudha, 26 years old, nurse by profession and from the southern part of India. I got my nursing licence in the middle of 2016 and by the end of the same year I started working as a nurse. When I was younger I dreamed of going abroad to earn money and travelling around the world, and therefore I chose a profession in medicine.
I have been practising for two-and-a-half years. While I was working I had an opportunity to attend an interview to work for NHS London and I was selected. I had the qualifications and the experience but I didn’t have the required level of English language. So I decided to quit my job and work on my language skills.
In the middle of March 2019 I left home, moving about 800km away to the state of Kerala to take classes for the Occupational English Test (OET). Kerala is a wonderful place, as it has lovely nature spots and is famous for its schools. India is one country, but has 30 different states and many different cultures and languages, which change across the different regions.
I found a nice place to live and started going to classes at the school. At first, things went well and I was excited, but I was very bad at writing sentences and speaking English. I began to feel worried and sad. I had left my job and spent every last penny of my savings to go there. Then one of my new friends suggested I go to another school, where they give individual attention to weak students.
So I changed to this school. They held a basic English test and I got 36%—not enough to pass my OET exams. One of the English-teaching experts suggested I take part in basic English classes for a month. I felt depressed because of my poor English and because I was alone and away from my family, but I decided to join the basic class anyway.
I still remember my first class. It was the second of April, an amazing day, and in my class were about 25 students. I was wearing a gray shirt and sky-blue jeans. Most importantly, our teacher was a kind and humble man called Mr. Meharsha.
To be honest, I didn’t have a clue when it came to English, and I thought the class would consist of boring grammar explanations, and that the teacher would not be a very good English speaker.
I couldn’t have been more wrong! His pronunciation was excellent and his teaching methods were special and interesting. He was not only a good teacher but also a great motivator. He didn’t give us boring lectures, but rather made us take part in dramas, speeches, read a lot of books, watch videos, listen to podcasts and songs etc.
By the end of the April I felt much better. I could speak in a basic way, read and write English. But I still lacked the confidence to take the IELTS or OET exams. So I returned home and spent another month studying.
At the beginning of June I went back to the same school and started three months of IELTS preparation. Since I left, my confidence had gone down, but when I met Mr. Meharsha he suggested lots of helpful tips and techniques which I carefully followed.
After a lot of work, I finally took my exams. I got very stressed waiting for my results. In the end, I got a band 5.5 in IELTS, when I needed a band 7.0. I felt awful about it. I had tried so hard! I spent a few days at my friend’s house and two weeks later I returned home and started working in Rela Hospital.
After a lot of thinking, I realised that it’s not the end of my English-learning journey, but rather the beginning. Every day I practise my reading, listening, speaking and writing. I especially enjoy your podcasts, Ariel!
As Mr. Meharsha always said to us, if you want to succeed in your journey you can’t make any excuses. He also said that practice makes perfect.
I will definitely clear my way and pass my IELTS so I can go and work in the NHS!
Thank you, Sudha, for sending in the story, and thank you for the work you do.
Obviously, at this time, nurses and doctors are doing very important work. In many countries including the UK, on certain days, people go outside and clap, applaud, for nurses and doctors. This is lovely, because it shows appreciation, it shows that people care about nurses and doctors, but I think it’s not perfect, right? Because you can’t eat applause, you can’t eat claps, and you can’t buy food with it. It’s not money.
And really, in this time of coronavirus, we are realising what jobs are really important for society: nurses, doctors, food sellers and the people who collect and empty bins. Without these people, we would have no cities, no peaceful society. They are so important and in many countries they are paid very badly. I know recently in the UK, a few years ago, they lowered the pay of doctors, and nurses don’t really get paid enough for the work they do.
So I really, really hope now, as we are perhaps starting to leave quarantine, we can remember how important these jobs are and push for better pay and better working conditions.
Anyway, thank you again, Sudha, and if you want to send in your own story, you can email me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
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.
When you play a joke on someone, you are trying to make them feel embarrassed so that you can laugh at them. For example, a classic joke is to put a whoopee cushion, a little toy, on someone’s chair, and when they sit on it it goes [fart noise]. Then everyone will think that they farted. Another classic joke to play on someone is to put a bucket, a container, of water or paint on a door, so that when they open the door the water falls on them. The first of April, April Fool’s Day, is a holiday based around playing jokes on people. Personally, I don’t like playing jokes on people.
Spoiled, or spoilt, means that someone always gets what they want and they become a horrible person because of it. If you give your child videogames, chocolate, sweets and toys whenever they want, your child might become spoiled. They will say, ‘I want that!’ and ‘That’s not fair!’ a lot.
When you throw a tantrum, you get very angry and start crying and screaming. Children throw tantrums when they do not get what they want. They start crying, screaming, ‘That’s not fair!’, and maybe even rolling around on the ground. If a child throws a tantrum in public, it can be very embarrassing for the parents.
When you tell off someone, you tell them they did something wrong. Usually, parents tell off children. For example, if a child steals a biscuit the parent might say, ‘No! Those biscuits aren’t yours. Give it back.’ If a child throws a tantrum, they might get told off.
Curiosity is the feeling when you want to know something. Some children have a big curiosity, and are always asking, ‘Why? Why? Why?’. It is good to be curious about the world, I think. If adults keep their curiosity, then they can learn all kinds of interesting things.
A fairy is a magical creature. Fairies have wings and can fly around, and fairies can do magic. Sometimes, fairies are very small, like the size of your hand. But sometimes fairies are as big as people.
Throughout means in every part of something. So “throughout the world” means all around the world. If you lose something important, like your wedding ring, you might search throughout the house. In England, the weather is unpredictable throughout the year, all year round.
Smack means to hit something, but with your hand open. If I smack my arm, it sounds like this: smack. It is like a slap. Sometimes, parents smack their children on the bottom, on the behind, to punish them. I think this is horrible, and is a very bad way to tell children off. In some parts of the UK, smacking is still legal, but in many countries it is illegal to smack children. Don’t worry, there is no smacking in this story, just talk of smacking.
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OK, so listen and enjoy!
The Mirror of Misurina
Once upon a time there was a father and his daughter. The father was called Sorapis, while his daughter’s name was Misurina. Misurina’s parents were the King and Queen of the land, and they were both giants. Misurina, however, was a tiny little girl. She could comfortably sit in her father’s jacket pocket and ride around. She often did this, and she made many jokes about her father, who was slow and heavy.
Sorapis’s wife often told him off. ‘You are too nice to that girl! She rides around all day, and she never does any work.’
‘But she is so nice! She is so much smaller than us. I cannot be mean to her.’
‘Just because she is small does not mean she can do as she wants! If you do not tell her off, she will become spoilt.’
But still, even when Misurina played jokes on Sorapis, he could never tell her off.
So as the years went by, Misurina became even more spoiled. She started playing jokes on all the other people in the castle, because she knew her father would never tell her off. Whenever people saw her, they ran away, because she played jokes on everyone she met.
‘My King, Misurina has stolen my pig!’
‘My King, she has hidden my knife!’
‘My King, she put ink in my coffee!’
Sorapis listened to all these stories and then said, ‘Hmph! Well that does sound very bad. I think we will have to do something, indeed. As for my daughter, please remember how small she is. She probably didn’t know what she was doing!’
But as Misurina grew older, her jokes got worse.
‘My King, she stole my child’s homework and said it was hers!’
‘My King, she put a bucket of paint on my door, so that it fell on me when I opened it!’
‘My King, she threw salt in my horse’s eyes, so he can’t see!’
Sorapis tried telling her off, but every time, Misurina threw a tantrum, and afterwards her jokes were worse than before. Even the ladies in the castle, who did not like jokes at all, started complaining.
‘My King, Misurina replaced my perfume with old milk!’
‘My King, she cut up my dress!’
‘My King, she put a frog in my bed!’
‘Well, it’s good to have a bit of fun in the castle, isn’t it?’ said the King. ‘Otherwise it is so boring here.’
Not only this, Misurina made huge requests. She would ask her father to bring her the moon, and when he did she said, ‘That’s all? I deserve the sun and stars, too!’
Worst of all, she had an enormous curiosity. She asked about everything, even things that nobody knew the answer to, or things that were better not to know.
‘I want to look inside a person’s soul!’ she said. ‘I wonder what it looks like? I want to know!’
One day, Misurina was having class with her teacher. As usual, he was very angry at her, and finally he said, ‘For a princess like you, the Magic Mirror would be perfect.’
Misurina sat up. ‘The Magic Mirror? What’s that? What does it do?’
‘It allows you to look inside your own soul. Perhaps if you did that, you would realise how awful you are.’
‘Wow! I want it!’
She ran out of the room and went to her father.
‘Dad, Dad!’ she shouted up at him. ‘Will you give me a present?’
The King laughed and picked her up in his hand. ‘Of course, my love. What do you want?’
‘First you have to promise you’ll give it to me!’
‘Oh, my love. I can’t promise you if I don’t know what it is you want.’
Misurina burst into tears and cried like a baby. It didn’t take long for the King to give in.
‘Alright, alright. I promise. What do you want?’
Misurina stopped crying immediately. ‘The Magic Mirror!’
Sorapis’s face went pale. ‘My love, you don’t know what you are asking me. Don’t you know that the Magic Mirror belongs to the fairy of Mount Cristallo? He is a horrible creature.’
‘Yes, yes, I have heard of him. No problem! You can buy it with all your gold, or maybe steal it.’
‘Misurina, please, listen to me.’
The girl saw that her father wasn’t going to do it, so she started crying again, shouting, ‘But, but, but you promised! Oh Father, if you don’t bring me the Magic Mirror I’ll kill myself!’
If any normal child had said such a thing, it would only be a joke, and they would soon forget about it. But King Sorapis knew that his daughter would do it.
The King put the girl down. ‘Alright. I will go.’
Sorapis put on his coat, walked out of the castle and went through the forest to Mount Cristallo. He knocked on the door and a low voice came from inside.
‘Who are you and what do you want?’
‘I am King Sorapis of the neighbouring land. I would like to have the Magic Mirror.’
The fairy laughed, opening the door. He was much smaller than the giant, but he had a powerful energy.
‘Oh, fairy. Please don’t laugh at me. If you do not give me the mirror, my daughter will die.’
‘Who is your daughter?’
‘Her name is Misurina.’
The fairy laughed, even harder this time. ‘Oh, you poor man! I have heard of your daughter. She is hated throughout your land and mine. I can hear her screams every time she throws a tantrum. “Father, give me this! Father, I want that!” And now she wants you to get her the Magic Mirror. Fine then, I will give you the mirror.’
‘Oh, thank you!’
‘Under one condition. Every day the sun shines on my fields. I think sunlight is far too happy for a place like this. I want some shadow. You are big and strong, and I think you would make a perfect mountain. It’s simple magic. You become my mountain, and I give Misurina the mirror.’
‘A mountain? But I won’t be able to speak to my wife, or help my people…’
‘Hmm… Fine then, I will give you another option. Go to your daughter and tell her this: she will get the mirror, as long as she is a good girl for one whole year. No jokes and no tantrums.’
‘Thank you! Oh, you are a kind fairy.’
‘No I am not. If I were you, I would simply smack the girl on the bottom and tell her to grow up. But that is why I am not a parent… Now go, before I change my mind.’
The King ran home and told his daughter what the fairy had said.
‘It’s simple! If you are good for a year, you will have the mirror.’
‘A whole year? That’s not fair! And I am a good girl, aren’t I, Father? That fairy is playing a mean joke on us. No, I will not do it! You love me, don’t you? Become a mountain for me. It will be fun! You won’t have to eat anymore, and you will have beautiful woods on your back that I can play in! I can climb you every day. Won’t that be fun?’
The King went pale. He thought that this would convince Misurina. After all, she cared about him, surely? She would not want her father to turn into stone, would she?
‘Misurina, you know I can’t do that. I have a kingdom and people to look after.’
Misurina burst into tears again. ‘Why do you hate me, Father? I just want a mountain to play on and a magic mirror. It’s not that much! I, I, I’m going to kill myself!’
Sorapis realised now, too late, that his daughter was too spoilt. She was a horrible little child, and yet, he could not see her die.
‘Alright, my love. I will do it for you. I will become a mountain.’
The fairy heard the King’s words and used his magic. The Magic Mirror appeared in Misurina’s hands.
‘I have it! The Magic Mirror! Oh, my soul is so pretty…’
But as she looked into it, Sorapis grew bigger and bigger. He broke through the castle walls and into the sky, turning into stone as he went. Forests grew on his back like hairs, and he became almost as tall as Mount Cristallo. Misurina was lifted up on his back, but the whole time she looked into the mirror.
Only when the mountain had fully grown did Misurina look up. She was stood on the peak, and she was so surprised that she screamed and fell over.
Down and down she fell, hitting into sharp rocks and finally landing in a bloody mess on the ground. The Magic Mirror landed beside her, breaking into a thousand pieces.
Unable to do anything, Sorapis watched his daughter die before him. He had been a bad father, and now he had lost everything because of it. He cried and cried, and his tears rained down onto the ground. They drank up Misurina’s body and the Magic Mirror. As the mirror had broken, its magic flew all around, and Sorapis’s tears began to form into a huge lake.
That lake still stands there today, Lake Misurina, and standing over it is the great Mount Sorapis. Every day, the King looks down, crying for his dead daughter who he loved so much. Those who visit the lake often say that the surface is so clear it is like a mirror, reflecting the sad mountain above it.
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.