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Lesson Transcript


Barbara: Good evening!
Braden: Braden here. Are You Able to Spell This Complicated Name in English?
Barbara: In this lesson, you’ll learn about Modal verbs–can/be able to and Bios.
Braden: This conversation takes place in the afternoon, at the office.
Barbara: And it’s between Sarah and Jonathan.
Braden: The speakers are coworkers so they’ll be speaking semi-professionally.
Braden: Let’s listen to the conversation.

Lesson conversation

Sarah: Okay Jonathan, it was your idea to write this email so help me get it right.
Jonathan: What do you need exactly?
Sarah: I need another pair of eyes on this. I've written and rewritten it so many times I can't see the errors anymore.
Jonathan: Okay. Can I see what you have?
Sarah: Have a seat and tell me what you think about this first draft.
(after reading)
Jonathan: I think it looks alright.
Sarah: Would you like to add anything?
Jonathan: The email itself I think is great. I think it'd be good if we included a draft of the schedule as an attachment.
Sarah: Okay, I have that right here.
Jonathan: It would also be good to attach those few pages of short bios on each of them. That way, all the delegates can know which other delegates have been invited.
Sarah: That sounds great. Let's see, all of their names are pretty easy to spell except for Alexi Braddaouwsckii. Would you mind spelling it for me?
Braden: So, we wanted to talk a little bit about Bios
Barbara: In the dialogue, the word “bio” is used as a short form of the word biography. A biography is a detailed description of a person's life. A biography is more than just a simple outline.
Braden: A biography entails the basic facts such as birth date, education, work, relationships, and death but also portrays the individual's perspective of those events.
Barbara: Within the context of seminars like this one, using the term “bio” refers to a short description of each individual delegate that contains only the information relevant to the seminar. For example, one of the delegates is an electrical engineer.
Braden: His experience, education, and work history in electrical engineering, is relevant to a seminar about the future of energy. However, this same delegate also has a particular affinity for fishing. This information, while interesting, has no direct relation to the seminar and therefore would be left out.
Barbara: In most seminars, a type of program is distributed to all the participants with these short “bios” about each delegate. Using this program as a source of information the participants in the seminar are able to choose which workshops, panel discussions, and speeches they would like to participate in.
Vocabulary and Phrases
Braden: Let's take a look at the vocabulary for this lesson.
: The first word we shall see is:
Barbara: exactly [natural native speed]
Braden: perfectly, not more or less
Barbara: exactly [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: exactly [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: right [natural native speed]
Braden: true or correct as a fact
Barbara: right [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: right [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: draft [natural native speed]
Braden: a preliminary version, an early version of a finished product
Barbara: draft [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: draft [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: invite [natural native speed]
Braden: make a polite, formal, or friendly request
Barbara: invite [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: invite [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: guest [natural native speed]
Braden: person invited to spend some time at another's place
Barbara: guest [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: guest [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: alright [natural native speed]
Braden: satisfactory but not ideal
Barbara: alright [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: alright [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: spelling [natural native speed]
Braden: the process or activity of writing or naming the letters of a word
Barbara: spelling [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: spelling [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: bio [natural native speed]
Braden: a short biography
Barbara: bio [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: bio [natural native speed]
: Next:
Barbara: seminar [natural native speed]
Braden: a conference or other meeting
Barbara: seminar [slowly - broken down by syllable]
Barbara: seminar [natural native speed]
Braden: Let's have a closer look at the usage for some of the words and phrases from this lesson.
Barbara: In the dialogue, we heard phrases that demonstrated Asking for Contributions.
Braden: Specifically, we heard the phrase, “Would you like to add anything?”
Barbara: Since they are working in a group, each person is expected to contribute to the final product.
Braden: In American business, group work is usually done in a delegated fashion. Each person has a specific task to complete, alone, and then they bring it to the group for revision and approval. That’s why Jonathan asked, “Can I see what you have?”
Barbara: It’s also common to hear phrases like, “What do you think about this proposal?” when asking for contributions.
Braden: Could you break this down?
Barbara: Would you like to add anything? (slowly)
Braden: And one time fast?
Barbara: Would you like to add anything? (fast)
Braden: Next we’ll look at phrases from the dialog that demonstrated Asking for Spelling. Sarah asked how to spell the name Braddaouwsckii."
Barbara: She politely requested Jonathan’s help by saying, “Would you mind spelling it for me?”
Braden: A slightly less formal way to request that someone spell something for you is by saying, “Could you spell that, please?”
Barbara: Spelling correctly in English is very important. It’s also very difficult, which probably contributes to its importance. Even more so in a situation like this when they are building an official letter to many highly educated experts.
Braden: Could you break this down?
Barbara: Would you mind spelling it for me? (slowly)
Braden: And one time fast?
Barbara: Would you mind spelling it for me? (fast)
Braden: Let’s take a look at the grammar point.

Lesson focus

Barbara: The focus of this lesson is the modal verb can meaning to be able to
Braden: In the dialogue, we heard the phrase
Barbara: Can I see what you have?
Braden: In this lesson, we’ll cover examples and uses of "can, could, be able to" for ability, and permission.
Barbara: First rule, use 'can' or 'be able to' to express ability or possibility. For example, “He can play tennis well.” Could you give us a few more examples?
Braden: Sure! How about “She is able to speak five languages.” Which would be nice, and “They can come on Friday.” and “Dustin will be able to come next week.”
Barbara: Thanks! Just a quick note, The future of 'be able to' is 'will be able to.
Braden: Also, remember that “Could” in the past means the general ability to do something. For example, “He could swim when he was five.”
Barbara: Now let’s take a look at Can as To Be Able To. 'Can' is also used to express ability. Another form that can be used to express ability is 'to be able to.' Usually, either of these two forms can be used.
Braden: For example, “I can play the piano.” which is the same as.” “I'm able to play the piano.”
Barbara: Another example is “She can speak Brazilian Portuguese.” which is the same as “She's able to speak Brazilian Portuguese.”
Braden: There is no future or perfect form of 'can.' Use 'to be able to' in both future and perfect tenses.
Barbara: For example, “Dustin's been able to golf for three years.” or “I'll be able to speak Spanish when I finish the course.”
Braden: The last thing we wanted to look at is a Special Case of the Past Positive Form.
Barbara: When speaking about a specific (non-general) event in the past, only 'to be able to' is used in the positive form.
Braden: For example, “I was able to get tickets for the concert.” NOT “I could get tickets for the concert.”
Barbara: However, both 'can' and 'to be able to' are used in the past negative.
Braden: I couldn't come last night. OR I wasn't able to come last night.


Braden: That just about does it for today.
Braden: Thanks for listening!
Barbara: See you later!