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Let's Learn English - Level 2

Lesson 21: Trash to Treasure, Part 1

Let’s Learn English - Level 2 - Lesson 21: Trash to Treasure, Part 1
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Let’s Learn English - Level 2 - Lesson 21: Trash to Treasure, Part 1

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Let’s Learn English - Level 2 - Lesson 21
Let’s Learn English - Level 2 - Lesson 21


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Anna: (on phone, to Pete) Got it. Pete, I promise. I won’t tell anyone. (to herself) Bye. He is so strange.

Ashley: Hey, Anna!

Anna: Hi, Ashley!

Ashley: Are you talking to yourself again?

Anna: No, not this time. I was talking to Pete.

Ashley: How’s he doing?

Anna: Good. He has a birthday coming up! But he told me not to tell anyone.

Ashley: Why?

Anna: Well, from the way he was speaking, I don’t think he likes cake or presents or fun.

Ashley: That sounds like Pete.

Anna: Well, I don’t care. I’m getting him a present. Do you know where I can buy something unique?

Ashley: I do -- Tanglewood Works. You will definitely find something unique there.

Anna: Great. I’ll go this weekend. Now, speaking of Pete’s birthday, what else should I do? I know. I’ll rent him a clown!

Ashley: Yeah, he’ll never speak to you again.

Professor Bot: Did you hear Ashley and Anna using the words talk and speak?

Talk and speak both mean “to say words.” And, many times, you can use either word without losing any meaning. But there are some differences in when we use these words.

The word talk is usually used:

  • for conversations between two or more people
  • and informal situations, such as between friends or family

For example, Ashley asks Anna: “Are you talking to yourself again?”

Speak is usually used:

  • for one-way communication, such as presentations
  • formal situations, such as a boss speaking with her workers
  • to talk about language ability
  • and in polite requests

Keep watching, and listen for the words talk and speak.

(Anna goes to Tanglewood Works.)

Sue: Hey there. Welcome to Tanglewood Works! I’m Sue. How can I help you today?

Anna: Hi Sue, I’m Anna. A friend told me about your store. She said, “Anna, this place is really unique!”

Sue: We are! Here at Tanglewood Works, we focus on things that are handmade, reclaimed and recycled.

Anna: Wow! That is really good for the environment.

Sue: It’s good for you too. Local artists made all of these one-of-a-kind pieces. And I paint most of the furniture.

Anna: Can I look around?

Sue: Oh, please do.

(Anna walks around the store.)

Sue: So, Anna, do you like to make things?

Anna: Me? Oh, no. Every time I try to make something, something goes wrong.

(She knocks down many things.)

Anna: Oh, sorry. Sorry.

Sue: It’s okay. Anna, everybody can make something.

Anna: Sue, this piece is very interesting!

Sue: You know, when I found these pieces, they were broken and in a dumpster. But they spoke to me. And they said, “Save me, Sue! Save me!”

Anna: Sue, what do you mean they “spoke” to you?

Sue: When I see something special that someone has thrown away, I can almost hear it talk.

Anna: It’s not saying anything!

Sue: Anna, it’s not easy to see the treasure in trash.

Anna: Or hear it talk.

Sue: But you can learn. In fact, I teach private classes. And one is called Turning Trash to Treasure.

Sue: Next week, bring in some trash and we’ll turn it into treasure. Just remember – pick some trash that “speaks” to you.

Anna: Got it! I’ll see you next week!

Professor Bot: Will Anna find trash that “speaks” to her? What will it say? We’ll find out next week!

Anna tries to find trash that "speaks" to her.
Anna tries to find trash that "speaks" to her.

Listening Quiz

See how well you understand this lesson by taking a listening quiz. Play each short video, then choose the best answer.​

Quiz - Lesson 21: Trash to Treasure, Part 1

Quiz - Lesson 21: Trash to Treasure, Part 1

Start the Quiz to find out

Free Materials

Word Book
Word Book

Download the VOA Learning English Word Book for a dictionary of the words we use on this website.

For Teachers

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Let's Learn English - Level 2 is a new course for English learners. Certified American English teachers designed the course for intermediate learners.

Each week, there will be a new lesson with a video showing the lives of young Americans. The lesson includes instruction in speaking, vocabulary, and writing.