Learning Vocabulary - Planet Super League
Jack interviews Rich Holmes, the Head of Operations at Planet Super League which aims to encourage everyone to take climate action.
Hello my name’s Jack and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English. On the Premier Skills English website, you’ll be able to find all these podcasts and the transcript and extra activities that go with them. So if you are listening to us on Apple Podcasts or Spotify or any other podcast platform, check out our website! And don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess!
Today, I am really happy to be able to share a new interview with you. I spoke to Rich Holmes from Planet Super League which is a project that helps people change their behaviour, to change what people do that is bad for the planet and support their football team at the same time. Now, Rich Holmes is not a teacher and so when he speaks, it’s normal, natural English and that means he speaks quickly and uses contractions and all the other natural features of spoken English that make it hard for learners to understand. Normally, on Premier Skills English, we present a model of English first and then focus on the language, but because this is an authentic interview, I want to break it into two segments, into two parts and talk about the important vocabulary first. So, I’m going to start by presenting some vocabulary, 10 words and phrases, and then ask you a question and then you’re going to listen to the first part of the interview.
After the first part, I’ll present some more vocabulary and ask you another question and then you can listen to the second part of the interview. If you want to read the transcript while you listen, you can find the transcript and a couple of vocabulary activities on the page for this podcast on the Premier Skills English website. There’s a link to the page in the description for this podcast.
Before I get to the interview, I want to look at last week’s football phrase. If you didn’t hear it last week, here’s one more chance to guess now.
Last week’s football phrase was a phrasal verb with a number of meanings. The phrasal verb was to **** ****. In sport, this means to do exercises, especially strength training exercises to improve your strength and to build and condition muscle. You can also use it to mean to find the solution to a puzzle. I like to **** *** in the morning because it invigorates me and makes me feel fit and healthy throughout the day.
Congratulations to Hayato from Japan, 258963 from Vietnam, Hsn from Turkey, Daniel_06 from Mexico, Taha Gashout from Libya, Mehmet Sisman and Mobekham from Turkey and Isshin and Taki from Japan. You all worked out that last week’s phrase was to work out.
Hsn from Turkey also requested that I go through the correct answers from last week’s language challenge. So I’m going to fire through the sentences now.
Number 1. I don’t mean to burst your bubble but I don’t think you are cut out for ballet, you’re just not graceful enough.
Number 2. After the government’s defeat, the opposition sensed blood in the water and launched a series of fierce attacks.
Number 3. The business executive knew that the buyer needed his product so had a strong hand going into the negotiations.
Number 4. She was so much better than me. She really ran rings around me out there.
Number 5. I thought I had a strong hand going in, but when she made her move, it really rattled me and I went to pieces after that.
Number 6. Thank you for visiting. It’s a shame you have to leave so soon. You have such spirited children. The house will seem very quiet when they have gone.
Number 7. The champions launched wave after wave of attacks, but the defenders managed to hold them at bay.
Number 8. United should have done better but they were outplayed on the night.
Rich Holmes is the Head of Operations at Planet Super League. I’m going to play the interview in two parts. Before you listen to the first part, here are 10 of the most important vocabulary items from the interview.
The first phrase I want to talk about is climate action. The word climate means the weather or weather patterns that you find in a particular place. Different places have different climates. In the Sahara Desert, it’s hot and doesn’t rain much. In the UK, it’s the opposite. The climate in the Sahara Desert is very different to the climate in the UK.
Most of the time now, the word climate is used in phrases like climate action and climate change. In this sense, it refers to climates all over the world, to every climate, it means the weather conditions all over the world. So, climate change refers to the changes in weather conditions around the world as a result of the damage that people have done to the environment by burning fossil fuels like coal and oil and increasing the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
The word action in climate action refers to all the things people do to try to deal with the problems of climate change. It’s the things people do to reduce the impact of climate change. This might be reducing the amount of carbon dioxide that we individually contribute or climate action might be campaigning and protesting against companies and actions that are bad for the environment.
The next word is effectively. This is an adverb that normally means that something is happening in a way that is successful. The adjective is effective and it means something works or does what it’s supposed to do. So, the covid vaccine is effective in reducing the seriousness of covid. However, in the interview, the adverb is used as a discourse marker that means a statement is a reasonable description, though it might not be completely accurate. It may be a simplified description, for example. You can also use the phrase in effect in the same way. Another way of thinking about it is thinking about the effect or result of a situation. It’s like saying, whatever the original intention of the action, the effect is what’s most important. So if you are working and you get a 2% pay rise, but inflation is at 5%, you are effectively still losing money. You are effectively getting a pay cut. At least, that’s one way of looking at it and an example of effectively or in effect that I have read recently.
The word impact is used a lot in the British Council to talk about the effect of the different programmes that the British Council run. The impact of an event means the effect that the event has. This can be positive or negative. You might hear people talk about the impact of a change in the law, or the impact of a natural disaster or the impact of promotion to the Premier League. So we normally talk about impact when there’s a change that has a powerful effect.
Another word that Rich will use in the interview is the word consumption. This is a technical sounding word that means the amount that something is eaten or used. The verb to consume, normally means to eat. It’s quite formal so you might read it in technical or medical stories. You can also talk about fuel consumption, and this means the amount of petrol or diesel that a vehicle uses.
The next word I want to describe before you listen to Rich is alternative. An alternative is something you can use instead or in the place of something else. In football, a manager has substitutes. These are alternative players. Sometimes, the word alternative is used to contrast with the normal or most common version of something. So you have pop music which is the most popular and alternative music which is less popular and sometimes is defined in contrast with pop music.
In the interview, Rich uses the word thermostat. A thermostat is the temperature control on a device that heats things up or if you are using air conditioning, cools things down. In the UK, a thermostat is usually a little box on the wall with a small dial on it that you use to set the temperature of your central heating.
The word household can be a noun or an adjective. The noun household refers to a group of people who live together. My household includes me and my wife and my two sons and … my dog. But a household doesn’t have to be a family, it’s just the people who live together in the same house. The word household can also be an adjective and then it is used to describe things for a house or flat.
Rich talks about things you can do to preserve energy. This is quite a common collocation, but I will have to admit, that I would probably not teach it. To me, the collocation conserve energy feels stronger but, in this phrase, the meaning is very similar. I think to preserve something means to keep something as it is, to stop it from being damaged or used. So if you preserve energy, then you don’t use it. To conserve something means to protect something, but it’s not as strong as preserve so to me, if you use something carefully and without wasting it, you are conserving it. So preserve means to keep something as it is and conserve means to protect from damage or waste.
One of the ways Rich talks about of preserving energy is to use the eco-setting on a washing machine. On lots of electronic devices, there are eco-settings that use less power. Even my phone has an eco-setting. The prefix eco comes from the word ecology and is used to connect things with the environment. I recently read a book by Stephen Fry called Mythos that talks about the original Greek word that the prefix eco derives from. This word originally referred to the hearth or the fireside in a house where food would be cooked and water heated. There is a Greek word that refers to this concept that we use in ecology and economics, but the modern eco prefix I think derives from ecology.
OK, the last word I want to look at before you listen to the first half of the interview is passion. Passion is a noun that means a very powerful feeling. If you have a very powerful feeling about something, you are passionate about it. It’s often connected to sexual attraction, but you can be passionate about anything. People are passionate about football. Some people are passionate about film or art. Some people are passionate about politics and social issues.
Right. That’s the most important vocabulary covered. Listen out for these words in the first part of the interview. The words are: climate action, effectively, impact, consumption, alternative, thermostat, household, preserve energy, eco-setting, and passion.
While you listen to the interview, I want you to try to answer the following question:
How can you score goals for your team on Planet Super League?
Today, I’m talking to Rich Holmes, who is head of operations at Planet Super League. So, Rich, can you tell me, what is Planet Super League?
Hi Jack. Yeah, of course. So … um … Planet Super League effectively works to engage people, … engage football fans on taking climate action.
So, can you can you tell me a bit more? What do you mean by climate action?
So, what we try and do is we try and help people take just small everyday steps and small behavior changes that have a little impact on the planet but collectively a big impact on the planet. So lots of people doing lots of little everyday things that that have a positive impact.
OK. Can you give us an example of what … what sort of activities do people do?
Yeah. So, it's really simple stuff. So, if you think about just your everyday routine, … and we try and make little, to help people make little tweaks to that that have a positive impact. So, just as a couple of quick examples, um … so, many people will get out of bed in the morning and jump in the car to drive a couple of miles to work, in some cases, and a really, really simple change to that, is by getting out and having a little bit of a walk instead or a cycle or if it's a longer distance, perhaps, using public transport. So, that's one really easy example. Another one is, you know, just every now and then trying to reduce our meat consumption or our dairy consumption. So, maybe we try a meat-free meal once in a while or try a switch from cow's milk to oat milk or soy milk.
But there's so many alternatives out there at the moment … um … turning the thermostat down in the household or the air conditioning, for example, to try and preserve energy, eco cycles on things like washing machines and dishwashers, you know, there's so many simple things like that, that people don't think about that add up and make a difference and we've tried to collate as many of them as we possibly can. So, we've got around 160 different actions and activities across a range of topics from food and travel and energy and household waste and recycling and nature. And all of those different topics just try and make those little differences that collectively add up.
And, how do you how do you measure them as activities? how do people … uh … participate in the league?
So, this is the fun bit because those actions by themselves, some of them, might not necessarily sound fun. So, if I said to you: ‘we're gonna have a great time today, we're gonna set the washing machine off on an eco setting!’ You're gonna look at me like I’m crazy because that doesn't sound exciting, right? But, actually, if I’m representing the football club that I support … so I myself, I’m an Aston Villa fan, right? So, we know that globally, football is this amazing tool, where people, kind of, treat their club almost like a religion… OK, and … and they have this real passion and attachment to their football club. So, on Planet Super League, what you do is, you represent your football club and you have the opportunity to score goals for your football club, actually. So, these actions that you're completing are rewarded with goals that are attributed to the football club that you support. So, if … let's take two examples; we've got Liverpool versus Everton, right? A big, big derby in the UK, a real big rivalry and Liverpool fans and Everton fans would love nothing more than to get onto the pitch one day and score a goal against their big rivals, but for most people, that is never going to happen. OK, because it's such a competitive way to get into football, but here what happens is you get the opportunity to score points for your club. So a Liverpool fan could complete these actions, they could do the eco settings on the dishwasher or walk to work or try a meet-free meal or whatever it might be and in doing so, score goals for Liverpool to beat teams like Everton and the other clubs taking part. And what that does then is, that helps their football club climb the league table so not only are you helping the planet and having an impact on the planet by making these small behaviour changes but you're actually competing for your football club. We've got, you know, we've got a trophy that is awarded to the … the winning club at the end of each season. And as a football fan, when do you ever get the opportunity to win a trophy for your club? It's … it's normally you, supporting the players, but having no physical control over whether there's a victory or whether there's a goal in that game. And here, you actually you hold the keys … you have the impact and you are the one making the difference.
OK. Before you listened to the first part of the interview, I asked you how you can score goals for your team on Planet Super League. The answer is: you can score goals by completing actions that are good for the environment.
Now it’s time for me to present some more vocabulary. I want to talk about another 10 words and phrases that Rich is going to use to help you understand what he says.
The first word is strand. The most common use of strand is to describe a piece of thread or hair. Your hair is made up of lots of individual strands of hair. The word strand has another meaning which is related an that is a part that combines with others to form a complete subject or situation. So a book might have several stories that weave together. Each of the stories could be described as a strand. Or a business might have different ways of working or different types of customer and these ways or types could be described as different strands.
The next word is appeal. This can be a noun or a verb. The noun means the quality of a thing that makes people like it. You can talk about the appeal of football which means the way football is enjoyed and attractive to people. The verb appeal means to interest or attract someone. We say that something appeals to someone. Some things appeal more to women than men. If you don’t like the idea of something, you can say that it doesn’t really appeal to you. You can also use the noun and say I don’t see the appeal. Some people like extreme sports, like jumping out of an aeroplane, but I don’t really understand the appeal. It doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest.
The word community is quite interesting. Mostly, it means the people that live in a particular area, but there’s more to it than that. A community is made up of people who are interested in the well-being of that community. If you think of a village or a small town, the people who live there might work together to look after the place they live. They might organise gatherings and festivals or cultural events. However, in some places, people live in the same area, but there’s very little community.
The verb represent means to speak for or act for someone else or for another group of people. When I was at school, I joined a sports club and there was a competition between all the schools in the local area. The best people from the different school’s sports clubs were sent to compete against each other to find out which school had the best athletes. The best athletes from my school were sent to compete. These kids represented my school when they joined in the competition. Unfortunately, I wasn’t good enough to be chosen to represent my school. In many countries, politicians are called representatives because it’s their job to speak for the people from the area they represent.
The next word is element. An element is a part of something. I think it’s most commonly used in chemistry to talk about the basic parts of molecules. Carbon and oxygen are elements that combine to form carbon dioxide. We use the word more generally to talk about the different parts of something. So you might ask: what are the main elements of a successful football team? Or you might join an online course that teaches you the elements of music theory.
The next word is an adverb: equally. The adjective equal means in the same amount or of the same size. Equality means the right of different groups of people to receive fair treatment. The adverb equally has a similar meaning. It is important for referees to judge teams equally. It is also used in a similar way as a discourse marker to add another idea that you want to make clear is as important as the ones you have already said. So you might hear someone say: a balanced diet is essential for good health. Equally, exercise is very important.
The phrase carbon footprint is one we have spoken about before in these podcasts. It’s a very important concept when talking about the environment because it describes the amount of carbon dioxide that an activity produces. You can describe the carbon dioxide that is produced because of someone’s actions as their carbon footprint. For example, we know that beef creates a lot more carbon that chicken so if a person eats a beef steak, their carbon footprint will be larger than someone who eats a chicken meal.
A useful phrase to describe actions that are not harmful to the environment is environmentally friendly. This phrase is quite simple. Cycling is an environmentally friendly method of transport. Flying is not environmentally friendly because of the amount of fuel aeroplanes burn.
The next phrase I want to describe is in comparison to. This phrase is used to say that something is true when comparing the situation with another situation. So, you might compare cycling with driving a car and say cycling is good for the environment in comparison to driving. You can say in comparison to and in comparison with. My friend’s house is massive in comparison with mine.
The last phrase I want to talk about before you listen to the second part of the interview is the phrase get involved. This is quite an easy phrase. It means to become part of an activity or event, but it’s a good phrase to know because it sounds quite active and positive. If there is a project, perhaps a community project or something for refugees, you might ask: how can I get involved? This means how can I take part or contribute to this project.
OK. That’s the most important vocabulary from the second part of the interview covered. Listen out for these words in the second part of the interview. The words and phrases are: strand, appeal, community, represent, element, equally, carbon footprint, environmentally friendly, in comparison to and get involved.
While you are listening to the second part of the interview, I’d like you to try to answer this question: How can you get involved with Planet Super League?
Do you think you could tell us a little more about what you do and who you work with? Who are the people that represent their teams on Planet Super League?
So, we kind of work across three main strands and … and football being our theme as … as a kind of organization and almost our language to use is around football, but obviously we're not physically playing football, so it still appeals to a non-football audience as well.
Now, we're working with football clubs in the UK. We've got more than 60 professional clubs taking part at the moment, from, you know, Champions League and Premier League teams, down to the Championship, League One, League Two, and some National League clubs. We have a team in the Scottish Premier League as well, so we're working with lots of clubs, all over the UK.
But in addition to that, we also work with, uh … school communities. So, we've run seasons where, as well as representing your favourite football club, you get to represent your school. So, you know, we get a lot of children and families taking part as well as adults and, you know, those children can represent their football club but, at the same time, they could represent the primary or secondary school that they attend and have a separate league table, all together, to try and get their school to the top of the league. So, we've got that football club element, we've got this school element and then the third element that we're working with is … is businesses across the UK, as well. So, um businesses could join our league and use it as an employee engagement program, so, you know, people in the office can compete against each other to be their best, the best and high scoring employee or the most impactful. Or we could have departmental competition, as well, so, the sales team might be playing against the finance team, against the admin team, and, you know, we can have that real competition internally as an organization, but equally that collaboration to try and get your … your organization that you work for, the most goals and the most impact as possible. So, yeah, the three strands; we've got the football clubs, the um schools and businesses, as well.
What could Premier Skills English podcast listeners do?
I mean the … the platform is open for them to take part, if listeners want to take part, and … and if you were to take a look at our website at planetsuperleague.com, you know, if you sign up, which as an individual, it is completely free to do, you choose the football club that you want to represent. Now, it might be that your football club isn't based in the UK, but you might have a UK club that you do support as a second or third team. So, they can absolutely take part and represent one of those clubs that are taking part in our platform. So, if listeners are thinking, you know, this sounds interesting, and I would like to take part, our activities on the website are always open. They will never disappear. You can go on and do it at any time, but our competitions come and go at certain times. So, a competition will last for anywhere between four and eight weeks. So, our next big competition will be kicking off in October, but before October, people can still register. They can choose their club, they can complete activities and see how much impact they're making and almost warm up and have your … your pre-season, if you like, before the big competition kicks off in October, where they can represent whichever club it is they've chosen in the competition to try to win the trophy. So, yeah. Absolutely. Listeners can … can get involved and take part and score as many what we call green goals as they can.
Do you think that scoring green goals can actually make a difference?
What we say to a lot of, well all three of our strands really so from a football club, from a school, from a business, is these three organizations so whether it's the club itself the school itself or the business itself, they will all be trying to do things to reduce their carbon footprint and to … to be more environmentally friendly. And that's really important, and that's key. And we don't want to take away from that. However, if you think about a football stadium, even a moderately sized football stadium, so … let's … let's take a 40 000 seater stadium, which is probably mid mid-table for the Premier League, and that football club does its little bit by changing to led light bulbs to save energy or you know reducing … reducing meat products and giving more vegetarian options; whatever it might be, they can do that and that will have an impact. But think about how much that impact will be amplified if even 10% of the stadium, so we said 40,000, so 4 000 people, not a lot, go home and make these changes at home as well as in the stadium. That impact is going to be absolutely huge in comparison. And the same with the business. So it's … it's about, yes the … the clubs, the organizations, the schools, need to do their bit as a … as an entity to help the planet, but if we all take individual action on top of that, that's how we're going to really make a difference to the planet. Because so many people say either why should I do anything? I won't make a difference, but if everybody says that we can see the problem and … and that's where the more people we can mobilize and get involved in these things and just change these small behaviours, that the bigger difference we can have. And hopefully, we can really make a change to the way the planets going and make a difference and look after the only planet that we've got.
That sounds absolutely fascinating. And thank you very much for … for joining us today Rich and telling us about Planet Super League and the activities that … uh … the people are doing and that Premier Skills English listeners can … can join in with. It's been really great having you here and I look forward to hearing what our listeners think about the project in the comments section.
I hope you enjoyed this interview and all the vocabulary that I focused on, that Rich used. What do you think of Planet Super League? Do you think it’s a good way to get people to make the small changes that can add up to something more significant? What green goals do you score in your home and work or school? Share your ideas in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website.
Now it’s time for a new football phrase. This week, I’ve chosen a hard phrase from the Premier Vocabulary section. The phrase I’ve chosen is *** ***** **. This means to become involved in a situation, usually with enthusiasm. On the pitch, you sometimes hear it as an instruction yelled by fans when they want a player to try to tackle an opponent. Off the pitch, we use it before starting or getting involved with something, often food. I once stayed in a hotel that had an amazing breakfast. When I walked into the dining room every morning, the smell would get my tastebuds going and I couldn’t wait to *** ***** **.
If you know the answer to this week’s football phrase, let us know in the comments section on the page for this podcast on Premier Skills English.
That’s all I have time for today. Before I finish, I just wanted to say that I hope you found this podcast useful, and I hope all of you stay fit and healthy and safe.
Bye for now and enjoy your football.
Planet Super League - Interview part 1 vocabulary
In this activity, you need to match the words from the podcast with the descriptions.
Planet Super League - Interview part 2 vocabulary
In this activity, you need to match the words from the podcast with the descriptions.
What do you think of Planet Super League?
Do you think it’s a good way to get people to make the small changes that can add up to something more significant?
What green goals do you score in your home and work or school?
Share your ideas in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website.
This week, the phrase is from the hard vocabulary in the Premier Vocabulary section.
The phrase is *** ***** **. This means to become involved in a situation, usually with enthusiasm. On the pitch, you sometimes hear it as an instruction yelled by fans when they want a player to try to tackle an opponent. Off the pitch, we use it before starting or getting involved with something, often food. I once stayed in a hotel that had an amazing breakfast. When I walked into the dining room every morning, the smell would get my tastebuds going and I couldn’t wait to *** ***** **.