Do you enjoy the podcast, but you want someone to speak to in English? After all, you’ve learned all these cool new words and phrases, and now you want to put them into practice!
Well, I’d like to recommend italki. italki is the world’s biggest online language learning website. On italki you can take classes with teachers from around the world, at a time that works for you. You get personal, one-to-one lessons from excellent teachers, and it’s much cheaper than in-person classes.
With italki, you can take lessons when you want, how you want. You can have a casual conversation class on the bus, or an exam-preparation class with lots of homework. There really is something for everyone.
If you use that link and buy a class, you’ll even get $10 for free to spend on more classes! Plus, I get a bit of money, too. Thanks!
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 It’s a Small World. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Small. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Small. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So in 2019, I applied to do a PGCE. PGCE stands for ‘post-graduate certificate in education’. Basically, it’s a course you do at a university, kind of similar to a Master’s degree. You study part of the time at the university and then for the other part of the time you work in a school, or several schools. So it is a practical teaching qualification after which you are allowed to work in public schools, so state schools, in the United Kingdom.
I say ‘state schools’ because, in many countries, ‘public school’ means schools that the government pays for, but in the UK, ‘public school’ is actually what we call some very old-fashioned schools that you do have to pay for. So ‘state school’ is what we say instead. So yes.
To work in a state school, you have to do a PGCE. I applied to do this in 2019 to teach modern languages at secondary school, so to teach French, German and Spanish to children between the ages of 11 and 16. But I decided not to do it in the end because of coronavirus and also I was really worried about the stress.
Teaching in the UK is very stressful, at least in state schools. We actually have the youngest teaching workforce in the world [actually, this is only in the developed world]. On average, our teachers are very young because so many people quit the job. There are lots of extra expectations about administrative work, problems with marking exams and so on. So I kind of thought, well, why do I wanna get into this stressful thing? Especially right now with coronavirus.
But very recently, I rethought my decision and now I’m applying again to do a PGCE starting in September 2022.
First of all, the coronavirus situation has gotten quite a bit better, so I don’t think it will be so stressful working in schools, and when it comes to stress, well, I’m much more confident in my ability to handle it now. I’m much healthier, I eat more healthily, I exercise more, and mentally, I’m much more relaxed and calm than I was two years ago.
I really had to get to know myself better, I think, and also just get more teaching experience. There were definitely aspects of teaching before that I found really stressful, and I told myself that, by moving it online and doing all my teaching online, I was making it less stressful.
However, you might remember, I mentioned earlier this year, that I was getting kind of burnt out on online teaching. I was starting to feel really tired and unexcited by it. And after taking a bit of a break, I realised that teaching is still something I really enjoy, that I think is really important, but I don’t like doing it online. I really like doing it in person, and especially with young people. Children and teenagers bring such a great energy that I think really makes it a unique experience.
Plus, the other reason is I really want to live in London. I’ve wanted to live in London for years, but it’s very difficult, right? Given, you know, I was working online and not making a lot of money, I just couldn’t afford to live in London. But, if I do a PGCE, I get a big bursary, a big financial aid, from the government, so I will actually be able to do it in London, and the university I want to go to is also in London.
And I have some friends who work at a school in London where I can probably do my placement. So your placement is when you are studying the PGCE and you go and work at a school, you do a placement there. So you’re working there as part of your course, and you’re learning the skills from the other teachers and getting assessments and so on.
So all of the conditions seem really great, plus, because I applied in 2019 already, it’s actually much easier this time. I can basically reuse a lot of my application from last time and I don’t have to go and look at the universities first. I’ve already chosen the universities I want to apply to.
So I’m really excited about that! I’m still finishing my application, and I’ve already started doing some reading for the course about educational theory, and so on.
If you’re interested in hearing more about this, you can go to Patreon where I talk about it a lot on Elevenses with Ariel. That’s my other podcast I do. It’s a five-minute podcast every day Monday to Friday and it’s aimed at intermediate and advanced learners. I’ll talk a bit more about it later.
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
A throne is a big chair that kings and queens sit on. Thrones are usually at the centre of a throne room. In Game of Thrones, there is a big throne made out of swords called the Iron Throne.
A beehive is where bees live. It is a yellow dome that hangs in trees. Inside the beehive, the bees make honey and beeswax. In the past, if you wanted to eat honey, you had to steal it from a beehive.
Some animals have sharp parts of their bodies that they use to hurt other animals. These are called stings. For example, bees have stings. When bees sting you, and the past tense is stung, they die. But when scorpions sting you with their tail, they don’t die.
Your gut instinct is the feeling you get in your stomach, your gut, that tells you what decision to make in a certain situation. For example, maybe you walk into a house and you sense that something is wrong. Your gut instinct tells you to get out. Later, you find out that the house had a gas leak, and that you could have gotten carbon monoxide poisoning. Or maybe there was a killer hiding in the house. Either way, your gut instinct was right and you survived!
The apocalypse is the end of the world. Some people think the apocalypse will happen tomorrow. According to the Mayan calendar, the apocalypse was supposed to happen in 2012, but we’re still here. Some people think we’ll have an apocalypse through war, others think it might be aliens or monsters.
When you want to grow a plant, you first need a seed. A seed is a small, brown thing that you put in the ground. You put water on a seed, and the sun shines on it, and slowly it grows into a plant. You can also eat seeds, and they’re very good for you. Common types of seeds are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds.
Shrink, and the past tense is shrank and the past participle is shrunk, means to get smaller, or make something smaller. When you get a new shirt, and then you wash it in the washing machine, it often shrinks. This can be annoying, because then it might not fit anymore. There is a film from 1989 called Honey, I Shrunk the Kids about a man who accidentally creates a machine that shrinks his family.
A nuclear weapon is a kind of bomb or missile that uses nuclear energy to make a massive explosion. Nuclear weapons are made with uranium or plutonium, and they are very dangerous. Because of this, they are not used anymore. In the past, nuclear bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, cities in Japan, during World War II.
A cure is something that you use to stop an illness or health problem. Medicine is used for a long time, but a cure only needs to be used once. For example, if you are turned into a vampire, you might look for a magic drink so you can be human again. Of course, in real life cures rarely work so easily, but they can often help you live a normal life again. Antibiotics are an example of a cure that is often used.
A squirrel is a small grey or red animal that lives in trees and eats nuts and seeds. Squirrels are very cute, and they have big tails. Traditionally, red squirrels lived in the UK, but then grey squirrels came from America, and because of them most red squirrels have died out. Anyway, if you go to a park in the UK, you’ll often see squirrels running around.
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support me on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5, you get an extra story every month, as well as Elevenses with Ariel, a daily conversational podcast for intermediate learners. Last week I talked about my plan to become a good student when I go back to university and gaming addiction. You can support the show and get all the extra content at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
Thank you to everyone supporting me on Patreon. You help me buy delicious bread!
OK, so listen and enjoy!
It’s a Small World
Before Queen Beelizabeth III became queen, the throne room was a sad place. Only the Queen and the most important bees in the beehive could come to the throne room, and they only talked when the Queen said they could. There were no bright colours or happy people.
But Queen Beelizabeth III changed all that. She was a happy bee, and she wanted a happy throne room. So now, the place was filled with bright yellows, oranges and blues. There were pools of honey that bees swam in, and plenty for everyone to eat. Every day, brilliant bee dancers and bee musicians came to perform for the Queen.
But one day, a human soldier walked in.
Humans never came to the beehive. How could they? They were too big. But this human was as small as a bee, and he carried a big, black gun. All the dancing, singing and swimming stopped, and everyone turned to look at him.
‘Stop him!’ said the Queen.
Two bee soldiers flew at the man. They tried to sting him, but he held up his gun and shot them. They fell to the ground.
‘No!’ shouted the Queen.
The soldier was standing in front of her now. The Queen tried to hide her fear, but she couldn’t. This was a nightmare.
‘What do you want?’ she said, shaking.
‘We’re here to take all your honey,’ said the soldier.
She couldn’t believe it. Humans already took their honey. Their beehive was free, but most bees lived on human farms, working for humans, making honey for them and only them.
‘I don’t understand,’ said the Queen. ‘How are you so small? And why can’t you just buy honey from your supermarkets?’
The soldier held the gun to her face. ‘Give us the honey. Now.’
The door to the throne room opened, and more human soldiers came in.
The Queen didn’t know what to do. There were more bees than humans, but all the humans had guns. Normally, bees couldn’t fight back against humans. They had all sorts of ways to kill and control them. Now they were the size of bees, but the bees could still do nothing.
‘Fine,’ said the Queen. ‘But you must explain what is happening. Why are you so small?’
The soldier pushed the gun in her face.
‘I don’t have to explain anything to you.’
The bees started putting honey in jars to give to the humans. The Queen watched as all the honey, her people’s food and money, went into the jars.
But she knew something that the humans didn’t. They had a secret room full of honey, deep in the hive. There was enough honey there to eat for several months, so that they wouldn’t die. Then they could make more honey. And while they did so, they could find out what had happened to the humans.
They could find out how to kill them.
The humans made sure that all the jars were full, and then started to leave.
‘Wait,’ said the soldier, when he reached the door. He sniffed. ‘Show us all the rooms in the beehive.’
The Queen chose a bee to show them, but the soldier said, ‘No. You show me, Queen.’
So the Queen took the humans around. Of course, she didn’t show them the secret room. But when they came to one of the rooms, the soldier started hitting the wall.
‘It sounds like there’s another room behind here.’
‘You’re wrong,’ said the Queen. ‘What would a human know about beehives?’
‘I don’t know,’ said the soldier. ‘I just have a gut instinct. I’ve lived long enough to know when to trust my gut. Boys, let’s break it.’
‘No!’ said the Queen.
But it was too late. The human soldiers all started hitting the wall, and soon they broke through it. And there it was, their secret room.
‘I knew it,’ said the soldier. ‘I’m a nice guy, Queen. But next time, if you lie to me, I’ll shoot you.’
So the Queen watched as all her people’s food was taken. The humans left, and the Queen and all the other bees cried.
‘What are we going to do?’ said one of the other bees. ‘We have no food.’
‘We’ll get our honey back,’ said the Queen. ‘And we will kill the humans.’
‘You know, for an apocalypse, we live quite well.’
The soldier was eating seeds with honey. Normally, the food would have been very small, but he was small, too. So each seed was the size of his head. They were sitting in a small house made of dried grass.
‘You know I hate that word,’ said his friend.
His friend was not a soldier, but a chef. In this new world, after the ‘apocalypse’, chefs were suddenly very important. All their food had changed. They couldn’t eat hamburgers or sushi anymore, because cows and fish were big enough to eat them. So they had had to change what they ate, and how they cooked.
‘It is an apocalypse,’ said the soldier, drinking some water. ‘It’s not the apocalypse we thought would happen, but it’s still an apocalypse.’
‘We’re very lucky, you know,’ said the chef. He was putting salt on some seeds. They didn’t have much salt or pepper, but they didn’t need a lot now. ‘I mean, you know, because the shrink guns hit all those buildings. If they hadn’t, we would have nothing. Crazy to think, huh?’
‘You’re such an optimist,’ said the soldier. ‘The world almost ended, and you’re saying we’re lucky.’
‘You’re the one who said we live quite well.’
‘Yeah, well, it is an apocalypse, though. Do we have more honey, by the way?’
The soldier tried to take more, but the chef hit him with a wooden spoon.
‘Stop! Just because you attacked that beehive yourself, doesn’t mean that you can eat all the honey. Think about other people, maybe?’
‘Relax,’ said the soldier. ‘The days of worrying about food are behind us. We can get fat again now.’
But the soldier didn’t eat any more honey. He sat in his chair and thought about the last few years.
That first year had been horrible. Nobody knew how to deal with being so small. It was hard to find any food. And to see other soldiers, friends, family getting eaten by dogs and cats, stood on by cows…
It was hard to remember life before World War IV. How had they gotten here?
It had all started with the Second Geneva Convention of 2089, of course. After World War III, nobody could imagine that there would be another war. So they all agreed to destroy their nuclear weapons and never make more.
Of course, as the years passed, peace couldn’t stay. This was not a world for peace. Technology got better, and everyone knew that if someone made a nuclear weapon, it would be more powerful than before. It could destroy the whole world in minutes.
When World War IV started, everyone knew that nuclear weapons weren’t an option. So they got creative. They made robot animals, diseases and other secret weapons. Russia, China and the USA fought each other and everyone else in secret. Nobody could prove that anyone was actually using weapons. It was all crazy.
It couldn’t go on forever, though. The USA was the first to attack directly. They made shrink guns and started shrinking the people in other countries. It was much more dangerous than what the other countries were doing. They shrank whole countries at once and then dropped bombs, killing them all. It was like walking on ants.
But Vietnam had been different. They heard about the shrink gun, and they prepared. They wouldn’t let America walk all over them again. They decided that America had broken the Second Geneva Convention, so they would, too. They made a nuclear weapon in secret, but this nuclear weapon only worked on people of a certain size.
Just like that, they killed all the big Americans, and all the countries who had been shrunk were now free. The war ended in days. Now, the only people left were those who had been shrunk.
They went into America, to find the cure for the shrink gun. They were sure that there was a cure. They looked everywhere.
But there was none. The American scientists hadn’t thought about a cure, because they didn’t think anyone would live after their bombs.
So now everyone left alive was shrunken, and they had no cure for it. They were as small as bees.
Most people had died. But the soldiers, and those who were brave and strong, had fought to stay alive. They found buildings of equipment that had been shrunk: guns, weapons and so on. And they used them to find new food, to build a new society.
‘I should go,’ said the soldier, getting up. ‘You have lots of work to do, and I’m busy tomorrow, as well.’
‘Going back to the beehive?’ said the chef.
‘No,’ said the soldier. ‘We’ve controlled them.’
One of the beehives had tried to attack them a few weeks ago. It was the first beehive the soldier had ever entered. He remembered the Queen there, how shocked she was by it all. But the humans killed them easily.
What a waste. They could’ve made so much honey for them.
‘I’m going to the squirrel farm,’ said the soldier. ‘One of them ate a soldier yesterday.’
The chef looked like he was going to be sick. He was a strange man. Even after all these years, he still hated seeing people die like that.
‘You’re going to kill it, then? Show the other squirrels what will happen to them if they don’t behave?’
‘I can’t,’ said the soldier. ‘If it were me, I would shoot the squirrel like that.’ He clicked his fingers. ‘But the boss says we need them. They bring us a lot of our seeds. So I’m there to help control them. I’ll make sure to punish it for you, though.’
‘Good,’ said the chef. ‘I hate those monsters.’
The soldier said goodbye and left the grass house. The sun was setting now.
It was strange to think that he could never go back to his true home. He dreamed about it sometimes. The big house with those glass windows, beautiful wooden tables, a kitchen where they could all sit down and eat together.
Now, it was too big. Now it was a place of danger. He could never go back, never watch the sunset through those glass windows again.
The soldier walked through the long grass to his new home. As he walked, he sang to himself. It was a song he had learned in America, when he visited as a child.
‘It’s a small world, after all…’
If you enjoyed the story and want to say thank you, you can buy me a coffee on Ko-Fi. Just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and click the orange button that says Buy me a coffee! Then you’ll be able to send me $3 so that I can buy a coffee, but really, I’ll probably get a bubble tea. And I’ll think of you while I drink it! Thank you for listening, and until next week.