Into the Story



Episode 40: A Story About Just Diving In

Nivel: Intermediate
Acento: British English

Learning a language takes practice. Even after studying for years, many of us find it hard to feel confident using it in real life. Nervousness or the fear of making mistakes can hold us back. Sometimes, wanting to be perfect stops us—we think if we don’t use the language perfectly, it doesn’t ‘count.’ But most importantly, this mindset slows down our journey to fluency. Our guest, Lindsay, does things differently.

In today’s episode of Into The Story, Lindsay will tell us about a multilingual experience she had while traveling in Morocco. Over the years, Lindsay has managed to achieve various levels of fluency in many languages, and she thinks everybody is capable of doing the same. As you listen to her story, you will learn useful expressions such as ‘TO RETRACE ONE’S STEPS’ and ‘IN GOOD CONSCIENCE’. Listen to the end to hear more about Lindsay’s language learning philosophy.

What’s my English level?

Take our level test and check your result immediately. This is one of the most accurate level tests you’ll find. Start the test!


[00:00:02.890] – Intro

Did you know that listening to stories in English helps you remember new words and expressions while improving your listening skills? And what if while you enjoyed different stories and different accents you also got top life tips from each person? Welcome to Into the Story.

[00:00:26.670] – Bree

I have a confession to make: I still get nervous when I need to have a complex conversation in Spanish. Sometimes I’m just afraid of using the wrong word, but in the end, I need to use Spanish to communicate on a daily basis. Being understood is way more important than whether I use the subjunctive tense correctly. Today’s guest Lindsay is from the website Lindsay Does Languages and she’s also the co-host of The Fluent Show podcast. Lindsay loves languages. She loves learning them, and more importantly, she loves using them.

[00:01:09.570] – Lindsay

This was quite an unexpected day. It was 2013, so it was round about the time when I was beginning to realise oh I can learn languages on my own. Okay.

[00:01:25.770] – Bree

Years ago, Lindsay and her friend Hannah decided to go on a trip together. They had met while taking a Spanish class and quickly became friends. Initially, they were going to travel to Spain, but flights to Morocco were cheap, so they decided to get on a flight for Marrakesh. Neither of the girls spoke Arabic, but French has also spoken in Morocco, which Lindsay speaks. Little did she know that she’d also need six other languages just to find a hotel room. She wasn’t going to have perfect pronunciation and perfect grammar in all six languages, but she would have to make herself understood.

[00:02:08.610] – Bree

A really quick thing before we talk about the vocabulary in today’s Story, did you know that there are about 1.1 billion English speaking people in the world and guess how many of us are native English speakers? Only 400 million. That means that 700 million English speaking people are so called non-native speakers. On Into The Story. We feature speakers from all over the world so that you become familiar with accents from everywhere. If you have a friend who needs help understanding different accents in English, then share this podcast with them. Just click the share icon on whatever podcast app you’re listening on and send it right on over to them.

[00:02:55.310] – Bree – Vocabulary Section

Thank you so much. Okay, let’s look at five words and expressions that Lindsay uses in her story. And remember, you have an extended vocabulary list, the transcript, and a quiz on our website, acingles.com. You’ll see the link in the show notes.

[00:03:14.910] – Bree – Vocabulary Section

Firstly, “people watching”. People watching is the act of watching people, usually in a public place. For example, if you’re at an airport and you have some time to wait before your flight, you’ll just sit and watch people. I find people watching especially fun when I’m in a foreign country. People watching

[00:03:40.410] – Bree – Vocabulary Section

Next, “in good conscience”, we use the phrase in good conscience to talk about what we believe to be fair or right. For example, I couldn’t allow my friend to pay for my lunch in good conscience. In good conscience is another way of saying, without feeling guilty, I couldn’t allow my friend to pay for lunch without feeling guilty. In good conscience.

[00:04:09.510] – Bree – Vocabulary Section

To be “drawn out”. To be drawn out literally means that something is drawn out by hand. In today’s story, Lindsay explains that she had a map drawn out. Drawn out can also mean that something takes longer than necessary. For example, yesterday’s meeting was drawn out. It lasted longer than necessary to be drawn out.

[00:04:38.610] – Bree – Vocabulary Section

To “retrace one’s steps”. Okay, let’s look at an example. So yesterday I got to my car and I realised that I didn’t have my keys. So I retraced my steps. I walked back to my house. I looked in all the places I had been before leaving the house. To retrace your steps is when you go back along the way, you’ve come to retrace one’s steps.

[00:05:07.290] – Bree – Vocabulary Section

Finally, to “dive in”. So to dive in literally means to jump into water headfirst. But you’ll often hear to dive in use to mean becoming suddenly and enthusiastically involved in something. You’ll hear Lindsay talk about the importance of diving in when you’re learning a new language. To dive in. Okay, let’s get into the story.

[00:05:37.290] – Lindsay

Everything in Marrakesh felt really like terracotta. Like real warm terracotta, sandy and dusty, and all the leather and all the big piles of spices, all these colours creating this palette of oranges and yellows and browns and just bright and vibrant and warm. Just so warm. So hot. We’d had a lovely time in Marrakesh. There’s so much to experience, I think, is the word, for Morocco.

[00:06:09.750] – Bree

Lindsay and Hannah had fallen in love with Marrakesh, a city in Western Morocco known for its palaces, gardens and especially the marketplace. A labyrinth of small streets and shops selling traditional textiles, pottery, jewellery and spices. But as those of you who have travelled know, right, when you fall in love with a place, it’s already time to leave. The friends get on a bus for Essaouira, a Port city on Morocco’s Atlantic Coast.

[00:06:41.370] – Lindsay

So we sit down, we’re next to each other on the right side of the bus, and I can see in the aisle seat opposite, a couple of rows in front, I’m watching this guy and he’s got his phone out and he’s clearly sending a message. He’s texting someone, but he’s not typing with his thumbs. He’s using his finger to draw essentially these characters. And I’m looking and I’m thinking, that’s Chinese. This guy is writing in Chinese, but drawing every character with his finger. This is amazing. And because he wasn’t right next to me, he was that little bit in front. I could get away with watching and people-watching and observing what was happening. And so we arrived in Essaouira. We had our hotel booked. It was, I think, $2 a bed and probably would have been a terrible dorm.

[00:07:39.210] – Bree

As soon as they get off the bus they’re surrounded by lots of people trying to sell them different hotel rooms. It’s an overwhelming scene with lots of shouting.

[00:07:50.490] – Lindsay

Hey, I’ve got a great hotel for you to come and stay. Do you have somewhere to stay? Do you have a taxi? Do you need this? Do you need that? And you’re like, I just need a minute more than anything. Just let me breathe. We were ready because we had our hotel. We were ready to just walk away. But I watched this Chinese guy and it was clear to me that these people knew he couldn’t speak English, so they had no common language and they were ready to exploit him. And I couldn’t in good conscience let that happen. So I went over and I thought, I’m pretty sure that if I speak a bit of Mandarin, he’s going to understand me. So I just need to risk. And there’s a thing I find with language learners, and I notice this all the time. We want perfection, right? We want almost to learn and then we speak. We go out in the world and we speak perfectly. That is rarely what happens.

[00:08:55.470] – Bree

When we speak a foreign language we can pay attention to form or we can pay attention to meaning. When we pay attention to form, we’re making sure that everything is perfect: the grammar, the word order, the pronunciation. But when we pay attention to meaning, we just need to communicate with someone. The most important thing is to be understood.

[00:09:20.670] – Lindsay

When you’re in a situation like this, you’re stood there at the side of the road. There are people surrounding you, trying to get you to make one decision or another, and you see someone being exploited. You don’t have time to pay attention to form. You can’t think, I need to help this person. Let me just get my Mandarin perfect. No, you don’t have that chance. You have to pay attention to meaning because you’re in the moment, you are there. So that’s what I did. And I went across and I said in French, leave him alone. I can see what you’re trying to do. It’s not fair. He doesn’t speak English. Stop trying to exploit him. Oh, but I have a hotel. I have a hotel. You don’t know him. I said, he’s with us. I know him. And I turned to reassure the Chinese gentleman. I said, in Chinese, hello, I speak little Chinese. You speak Chinese? Completely flawed, but attention to meaning. I got the meaning across and his eyes lit up and he said, oh, yes. And you could see there was this element of relief, I think, for both of us when we realised that we could communicate even if they couldn’t.

[00:10:31.410] – Bree

The Chinese gentleman looks like a quintessential tourist. He even has a camera around his neck. Lindsay is feeling happy for saving him from all the men at the bus station. As they walk away, she asks if he has a hotel. And he says that, no, he doesn’t. And now she feels responsible for him.

[00:10:51.630] – Lindsay

So we walked into the town along the street from the bus station. And it’s blue, it’s white, it’s light grey and completely different place. Eventually we make our way into the centre and things narrow, the markets reappear. But this time you’ve got piles of fresh green mint. And we’ve got our map. Again, 2013 on the cusp of roaming charges becoming more available. So we didn’t have any internet access, but we’ve got it drawn out. We’ve got the address and, yeah, we’re ready. This is this street. So we need to go that way. There’s nothing here. Strange. So we try again. We retrace our steps, we go back to the main street. We’re thinking, we can’t take this poor man around the streets, back and forth and back and forth. We need to find where we’re going. So we stand there, we look at the map and we look up and there’s a side street and we think, that’s it, that’s the name. Okay, so we turn. We walk down. Again, trying to reassure this man that we know where we’re going. And we turn down the side street and there’s nothing. It narrows and it gets darker. There’s an archway going across the top of us and there’s no sign for a hotel.

[00:12:22.170] – Bree

Lindsay is feeling a bit embarrassed. She and Hannah are leading the Chinese gentleman up and down different streets looking for their hotel. She starts thinking that maybe she made a mistake. Maybe she should have let the men at the bus stop take him to an overpriced hotel.

[00:12:39.570] – Bree

I’m trying to say things like, all good, everything good in my minimal Chinese. So we stopped a couple of tourists who looked – they look like they know where they’re going. They’ve been here a day or two. And we said, Excuse me, do you speak English? Oh, no, hablas español. Si si si bueno, bueno, bueno. And so we asked in Spanish, do you know where this street is? Do you know where this hotel is? Oh, no, sorry. We stopped the next people we see. Hi, excuse me, do you speak English? No. español. Maybe they’re Spanish too. No. Italiano. Italiano. Bene bene. And so again, no time to think. Attention to form. Must be perfect. Just thinking. Meaning. Attention to meaning. Get my meaning across. And then we go into Italian. No, they didn’t know where to go either. Okay, what do we do now? So we stand a little bit longer and someone else comes along and we say, Hi, excuse me, do you speak English? English? Deutsch. Okay, German.

[00:13:55.730] – Bree

Every single time they stopped someone to ask for directions, Lindsay and Hannah realised that they were using all different languages. But eventually they decided to stop looking for the hotel they had booked and try to find a different solution.

[00:14:13.430] – Lindsay

We said to the man, we said, we don’t know where the hotel is, we’ll find one together. And he said yes, okay, no problem. So we thought, right, there’s a sign that says hotel. It looks okay, let’s ask. So we go in and it was all fine. We found a triple room. And so we were able to still be together, which meant we got to speak a little bit more and find a bit more out about each other, which is where then the camera came into play. And it turned out that this man was a photographer who travels the world internationally taking photographs and then selling his photographs. And so, yeah, it was quite amazing to then be able to see some of his work. We went out for dinner together and it was just really very nice. And at the end, we kept looking at each other, thinking, how many languages? What’s the tally? So we had Arabic, we had Polish, English, Chinese, Italian, German, French and Spanish. It was unbelievable. There’s something to be said for diving in and just thrusting yourself into a situation where you need to use a language. Speak right away. Go. Just do it. Push yourself off the edge.

[00:15:31.610] – Bree

Today, Lindsay describes herself as obsessed with helping people find the best way to learn a language. She has a coaching programme where she gives her students the knowledge of how to learn a language. As we heard in her story, Lindsay speaks several languages. So I asked her if she thinks she has a special gift.

[00:15:55.370] – Lindsay

I don’t think that I have an extraordinary talent or a gene or anything like that to learn languages. I think it’s just something that once you have done, you can replicate. And that applies even if you choose to learn one language really well throughout your entire life. Once you’ve done a thing, once you can tweak it, you can adjust it, you can make it better the next time. And I find learning a new language is that same thing. It gives me that same chance to try again and to experiment and to see that worked really well for Japanese. Is it going to work for Korean? So I think that over the years I’ve got better at learning languages, but I don’t think that I have any kind of extraordinary, unusual gift. I think it’s something that we can all get better at.

[00:16:47.660] – Bree

You can find a link to her website, lindsay does languages and also see a photo of Lindsay, Hannah and the Chinese tourist during their trip in Essaouira by visiting acingles.com.

[00:17:00.740] – Bree

And that’s all we have for you today. This is the last episode of the season, but we’ll be back soon with more stories and life tips of people from all over the world. Make sure to subscribe to Into the Story. And while you’re there, support us by leaving a five star rating on Apple Podcast or Spotify. It really helps other listeners find us. Thank you so much. Okay, everyone, until next time, we hope you have a good time, or at least a good story to share.

Quote of the episode

Once you’ve done a thing once, you can replicate it, tweak it, do it better the next time. It’s the same with languages. I don’t think I have any kind of extraordinary gift for them, they are something we can all get better at.

Wonderful Words

A brownish-red clay that has been baked and is used for making things such as flower pots, small statues, and tiles.

An aisle is a long narrow gap that people can walk along between rows of seats in a public building or vehicle.

To treat someone unfairly for personal gain.

The act of giving a person special teachings in a particular subject.

Excellent Expressions

 The act of observing people and their interactions from afar.

To do something without feeling guilty or bad.

1. When something lasts longer than you would like.
2. Unfold something that was previously folded.

To go back along the one way has come.

Listening Exercise

Lindsay, Hannah, and their Chinese friend, in Morocco.

Lindsay, Hannah, and their Chinese friend, in Morocco. 

We hope you enjoyed today’s episode of Into The Story. Si quieres saber más de Lindsay y sus secretos para aprender lenguas, puedes encontrarla en su web Lindsay Does Languages y el podcast The Fluent Show. Y si quieres seguir avanzando con tu inglés con nuevos episodios, vídeos, masterclasses y más goodies, suscríbete a la AC family newsletter rellenando el formulario de aquí abajoWe can’t wait to see you there!