A piece of advice - English VivaLing Podcast

EN Podcast: A piece of advice for you! CEFR level B1 and above

This podcast gives you a snippet of advice about uncountable nouns,  expressions you can use and of course some historical trivia and fun games.  
All delivered in the friendly tone of our host Tom. 

A piece of advice

Welcome to the Vivaling English Podcast. My name is Tom and I’d like to give you some advice – a piece of advice – a snippet- and I hope it might be a nugget of advice – worth its weight in gold.

But first of all let me give you my customary promotional message – did you know that at Vivaling you can study English, French, Spanish, German and Mandarin in live 1-1 sessions with the best teachers in the world? Well, we think they are. Claim your free trial session by registering at vivaling.com

 Claim your free trial session, registerint at VivaLing

In this podcast I`d like to do three things.

1 Remind you of the importance of uncountable nouns

2 Teach you some useful fixed expressions you can use to give advice


3 Try to identify whether some tips I have found are good or bad advice.

Let’s start by looking at one of the most common mistakes I hear students of English making.

Please can you give me an advice? No – No. Disaster.

But what is the problem?

Surely if advice is singular why can’t you say – an advice? Well, the reason is that advice is one of those words in English that is neither singular nor plural. It is uncountable. That means that we never use the indefinite article with it, and we certainly can’t use it in the plural. For example -my mother gave me three advices last week.

So – if you want to refer to just one item of advice – you should say “a piece of advice”.

There are in fact quite a few other words like this in English. I`m going to give you five examples of other nouns which are uncountable in complete sentences.

See if you can see which one is used incorrectly.

1 You are only allowed one piece of luggage on this flight.

2 I heard an excellent piece of news on the radio today – the president has decided to cut taxes.

3 We were unable to complete your order because an equipment broke down.

4 If you want to know how to win the game I`ll give you a very useful piece of information.

5 The antique table in the dining room is my favourite piece of furniture.

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What do you think?

Well – all five nouns used in these sentences – luggage, news, equipment, information and furniture – are all uncountable – like advice. This means that the incorrect sentence was number 3 because I said an equipment – and not a piece of equipment.

Well done if you got that right

Giving advice is a very common function in any language.

People often ask you for help but you don’t want to use the same expression over and over again.

Knowing a variety of expressions can impress bosses, examiners, teachers and they can also be good fun.

Here are 5 pieces of advice related to learning languages. I want you to remember them and the expressions – so I won’t give you any more than 5

expressions can impress - Vivaling english podcast

If I were you, I’d keep a record of the new words you learn.

The sooner you buy a dictionary, the better.

You ought to find someone you can practise your speaking with.

You should definitely try Vivaling.

How about joining a language club?

Let’s quickly recap

The expressions were – If I were you . I’d – the sooner you _, the better – you ought to – you should – finally, how about – but don’t forget that after how about – you need to use the – ing form of the verb. How about joining, not how about to join.

So far so good – but let’s take a step back into history and have a bit of fun.

What famous historical incident that involved advice not being taken am I talking about?

If you guess it after one sentence you get three points – if you guess it after two sentences you get two points and if you guess it after 3 sentences you get one point.

Piece of advice number 1 – The lookout on the SS California said to the radio operator “If I were you, I’d go more slowly”

Any idea so far?

Piece of advice 2 – The radio operator said to the captain “The sooner you turn round, the better”

Maybe you have an idea now

Piece of advice 3 – The chief engineer said “How about telling the passengers to get into the lifeboats?”

Surely you have worked it out now. The incident was the sinking of the Titanic and it’s true that around 1500 people died because advice from a number of people was not listened to – the radio operator, the chief engineer and the lookout on another boat passing by called the SS California which had seen the iceberg.

If you are listening to the Vivaling English Podcast you are probably very clever so I imagine you got three points.

Words have power

Now it’s time for your final challenge

On the internet there are lots of sites offering good advice and some which offer really bad advice for a joke. I like boredpanda.com

You challenge is to listen to these tips and work out if they were created as good advice or as a joke for bad advice.

If you ‘re frustrated that you never win the lottery you should buy as many tickets as you can afford, This will increase the probability of you winning a lot of money.
BAD ADVICE – of course it’s bad advice. The more you spend on the lottery, the more money you’ll waste.

If you have difficulty making a decision- how about tossing a coin to help you decide – the fact of tossing the coin will programme your mind to select the best option, and you won’t even need to choose heads or tails.
This is actually from a site giving GOOD ADVICE, but I’m not sure if I agree.

Save time spent brushing your teeth. If I were you, I’d add the toothpaste to your
food. Then you don’t need to brush your teeth before you go to bed.

BAD ADVICE – in my opinion you’d have to be a little bit crazy to do this.

If you don’t want to lose an object you ought to say out loud where you put it. For example – I am putting the car keys on the coffee table. Your mind will automatically remember where you left them
GOOD ADVICE – I often lose my car keys, so I will try this and tell you if the neuroscience research behind it is effective.

5 If you have bought a new TV – how about leaving the empty box outside your neighbour’s house. This means the criminals and the burglars won`t steal your new TV. Instead, they’ll go to your neighbour’s house.

BAD ADVICE – this was actually a joke and it is not a good idea to encourage criminality, whether it’s in your house or your neighbour’s.

Disclaimer – VivaLing Online Language Academy does not accept responsibility for any accidents or mishap that should arise from you taking or not taking this advice.

Never stop learning

I hope you enjoyed this short podcast about advice. Think about the last time someone asked you for advice. What advice did you give them? Try and write it down using the 5 different structures we looked at today. This will help to fix them in your mind. That is my piece of advice for today.

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cha ching register Muska 666
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Small crowd applause Yannick Lemieux
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