B2 - Lesson 02

Part 1 : Video Lesson & Transcript

Part : Listening & Reading comprehension

Part 3 : Use of English

Part 4 : Grammar lesson

Part 5 : Writing an essay & corrections

Part 6 : Speaking, interaction, & explanations.


Please make sure you unfold each content for each part of the lesson.  Merci de déplier chaque contenu pour chaque partie de cette leçon.



See instructions beneath the video.


“How language shapes the way we think”


"How language shapes the way we think"

Lera Boronditsky discusses the affects of language on the way we think and our behaviour in different cultures




1) Listen to the video without reading the text / transcript

2) Then Listen to the video again reading the transcript as you listen.

3) Then listen to the video again without reading the transcript.



So, I'll be speaking to you using language ... because I can. This is one these magical abilities that we humans have. We can transmit really complicated thoughts to one another. So what I'm doing right now is, I'm making sounds with my mouth as I'm exhaling. I'm making tones and hisses and puffs, and those are creating air vibrations in the air. Those air vibrations are traveling to you, they're hitting your eardrums, and then your brain takes those vibrations from your eardrums and transforms them into thoughts. I hope.

I hope that's happening. So because of this ability, we humans are able to transmit our ideas across vast reaches of space and time. We're able to transmit knowledge across minds. I can put a bizarre new idea in your mind right now. I could say, "Imagine a jellyfish waltzing in a library while thinking about quantum mechanics." 

Now, if everything has gone relatively well in your life so far, you probably haven't had that thought before. 

But now I've just made you think it, through language. 

Now of course, there isn't just one language in the world, there are about 7,000 languages spoken around the world. And all the languages differ from one another in all kinds of ways. Some languages have different sounds, they have different vocabularies, and they also have different structures -- very importantly, different structures. That begs the question: Does the language we speak shape the way we think? Now, this is an ancient question. People have been speculating about this question forever. Charlemagne, Holy Roman emperor, said, "To have a second language is to have a second soul" -- strong statement that language crafts reality. But on the other hand, Shakespeare has Juliet say, "What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Well, that suggests that maybe language doesn't craft reality. 

These arguments have gone back and forth for thousands of years. But until recently, there hasn't been any data to help us decide either way. Recently, in my lab and other labs around the world, we've started doing research, and now we have actual scientific data to weigh in on this question. 

So let me tell you about some of my favorite examples. I'll start with an example from an Aboriginal community in Australia that I had the chance to work with. These are the Kuuk Thaayorre people. They live in Pormpuraaw at the very west edge of Cape York. What's cool about Kuuk Thaayorre is, in Kuuk Thaayorre, they don't use words like "left" and "right," and instead, everything is in cardinal directions: north, south, east and west. And when I say everything, I really mean everything. You would say something like, "Oh, there's an ant on your southwest leg." Or, "Move your cup to the north-northeast a little bit." In fact, the way that you say "hello" in Kuuk Thaayorre is you say, "Which way are you going?" And the answer should be, "North-northeast in the far distance. How about you?" 

So imagine as you're walking around your day, every person you greet, you have to report your heading direction. 

But that would actually get you oriented pretty fast, right? Because you literally couldn't get past "hello," if you didn't know which way you were going. In fact, people who speak languages like this stay oriented really well. They stay oriented better than we used to think humans could. We used to think that humans were worse than other creatures because of some biological excuse: "Oh, we don't have magnets in our beaks or in our scales." No; if your language and your culture trains you to do it, actually, you can do it. There are humans around the world who stay oriented really well. 

And just to get us in agreement about how different this is from the way we do it, I want you all to close your eyes for a second and point southeast. 

Keep your eyes closed. Point. OK, so you can open your eyes. I see you guys pointing there, there, there, there, there ... I don't know which way it is myself – 

You have not been a lot of help. 

So let's just say the accuracy in this room was not very high. This is a big difference in cognitive ability across languages, right? Where one group -- very distinguished group like you guys -- doesn't know which way is which, but in another group, I could ask a five-year-old and they would know. 

There are also really big differences in how people think about time. So here I have pictures of my grandfather at different ages. And if I ask an English speaker to organize time, they might lay it out this way, from left to right. This has to do with writing direction. If you were a speaker of Hebrew or Arabic, you might do it going in the opposite direction, from right to left. 

But how would the Kuuk Thaayorre, this Aboriginal group I just told you about, do it? They don't use words like "left" and "right." Let me give you hint. When we sat people facing south, they organized time from left to right. When we sat them facing north, they organized time from right to left. When we sat them facing east, time came towards the body. What's the pattern? East to west, right? So for them, time doesn't actually get locked on the body at all, it gets locked on the landscape. So for me, if I'm facing this way, then time goes this way, and if I'm facing this way, then time goes this way. I'm facing this way, time goes this way -- very egocentric of me to have the direction of time chase me around every time I turn my body. For the Kuuk Thaayorre, time is locked on the landscape. It's a dramatically different way of thinking about time. 

Here's another really smart human trick. Suppose I ask you how many penguins are there. Well, I bet I know how you'd solve that problem if you solved it. You went, "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight." You counted them. You named each one with a number, and the last number you said was the number of penguins. This is a little trick that you're taught to use as kids. You learn the number list and you learn how to apply it. A little linguistic trick. Well, some languages don't do this, because some languages don't have exact number words. They're languages that don't have a word like "seven" or a word like "eight." In fact, people who speak these languages don't count, and they have trouble keeping track of exact quantities. So, for example, if I ask you to match this number of penguins to the same number of ducks, you would be able to do that by counting. But folks who don't have that linguistic trick can't do that. 

Languages also differ in how they divide up the color spectrum -- the visual world. Some languages have lots of words for colors, some have only a couple words, "light" and "dark." And languages differ in where they put boundaries between colors. So, for example, in English, there's a word for blue that covers all of the colors that you can see on the screen, but in Russian, there isn't a single word. Instead, Russian speakers have to differentiate between light blue, "goluboy," and dark blue, "siniy." So Russians have this lifetime of experience of, in language, distinguishing these two colors. When we test people's ability to perceptually discriminate these colors, what we find is that Russian speakers are faster across this linguistic boundary. They're faster to be able to tell the difference between a light and dark blue. And when you look at people's brains as they're looking at colors -- say you have colors shifting slowly from light to dark blue -- the brains of people who use different words for light and dark blue will give a surprised reaction as the colors shift from light to dark, as if, "Ooh, something has categorically changed," whereas the brains of English speakers, for example, that don't make this categorical distinction, don't give that surprise, because nothing is categorically changing. 

Languages have all kinds of structural quirks. This is one of my favorites. Lots of languages have grammatical gender; every noun gets assigned a gender, often masculine or feminine. And these genders differ across languages. So, for example, the sun is feminine in German but masculine in Spanish, and the moon, the reverse. Could this actually have any consequence for how people think? Do German speakers think of the sun as somehow more female-like, and the moon somehow more male-like? Actually, it turns out that's the case. So if you ask German and Spanish speakers to, say, describe a bridge, like the one here -- "bridge" happens to be grammatically feminine in German, grammatically masculine in Spanish -- German speakers are more likely to say bridges are "beautiful," "elegant" and stereotypically feminine words. Whereas Spanish speakers will be more likely to say they're "strong" or "long," these masculine words. 

Languages also differ in how they describe events, right? You take an event like this, an accident. In English, it's fine to say, "He broke the vase." In a language like Spanish, you might be more likely to say, "The vase broke," or, "The vase broke itself." If it's an accident, you wouldn't say that someone did it. In English, quite weirdly, we can even say things like, "I broke my arm." Now, in lots of languages, you couldn't use that construction unless you are a lunatic and you went out looking to break your arm -- (Laughter) and you succeeded. If it was an accident, you would use a different construction. 

Now, this has consequences. So, people who speak different languages will pay attention to different things, depending on what their language usually requires them to do. So we show the same accident to English speakers and Spanish speakers, English speakers will remember who did it, because English requires you to say, "He did it; he broke the vase." Whereas Spanish speakers might be less likely to remember who did it if it's an accident, but they're more likely to remember that it was an accident. They're more likely to remember the intention. So, two people watch the same event, witness the same crime, but end up remembering different things about that event. This has implications, of course, for eyewitness testimony. It also has implications for blame and punishment. So if you take English speakers and I just show you someone breaking a vase, and I say, "He broke the vase," as opposed to "The vase broke," even though you can witness it yourself, you can watch the video, you can watch the crime against the vase, you will punish someone more, you will blame someone more if I just said, "He broke it," as opposed to, "It broke." The language guides our reasoning about events. 

Now, I've given you a few examples of how language can profoundly shape the way we think, and it does so in a variety of ways. So language can have big effects, like we saw with space and time, where people can lay out space and time in completely different coordinate frames from each other. Language can also have really deep effects -- that's what we saw with the case of number. Having count words in your language, having number words, opens up the whole world of mathematics. Of course, if you don't count, you can't do algebra, you can't do any of the things that would be required to build a room like this or make this broadcast, right? This little trick of number words gives you a stepping stone into a whole cognitive realm. 

Language can also have really early effects, what we saw in the case of color. These are really simple, basic, perceptual decisions. We make thousands of them all the time, and yet, language is getting in there and fussing even with these tiny little perceptual decisions that we make. Language can have really broad effects. So the case of grammatical gender may be a little silly, but at the same time, grammatical gender applies to all nouns. That means language can shape how you're thinking about anything that can be named by a noun. That's a lot of stuff. 

And finally, I gave you an example of how language can shape things that have personal weight to us -- ideas like blame and punishment or eyewitness memory. These are important things in our daily lives. 

Now, the beauty of linguistic diversity is that it reveals to us just how ingenious and how flexible the human mind is. Human minds have invented not one cognitive universe, but 7,000 -- there are 7,000 languages spoken around the world. And we can create many more -- languages, of course, are living things, things that we can hone and change to suit our needs. The tragic thing is that we're losing so much of this linguistic diversity all the time. We're losing about one language a week, and by some estimates, half of the world's languages will be gone in the next hundred years. And the even worse news is that right now, almost everything we know about the human mind and human brain is based on studies of usually American English-speaking undergraduates at universities. That excludes almost all humans. Right? So what we know about the human mind is actually incredibly narrow and biased, and our science has to do better. 

I want to leave you with this final thought. I've told you about how speakers of different languages think differently, but of course, that's not about how people elsewhere think. It's about how you think. It's how the language that you speak shapes the way that you think. And that gives you the opportunity to ask, "Why do I think the way that I do?" "How could I think differently?" And also, "What thoughts do I wish to create?" 


  1. Listen to the video and answer all questions below  without reading the transcript /text of the video.
  2. Then read the transcript of the video and check your answers, before looking at the corrections.



Some vocabulary: to exhale = expirer, to hiss=sifler, to puff = souffler, eardrum = le tympan


1. How many languages are there in the world?

2. What is the key question she asks at the beginning?

3. True or false? At the moment, there is nothing to prove a connection between our language and the way we think.

4. What do the Aboriginal Kuuk Thaayorre people use as an alternative to directions “left” and “right”?

5. How do the KuuK Thaayorre people greet each other?

6. True or false? Some language structures can influence our sense of direction.

7. For the Kuuk Thaayorre what affects the way they think about time? And how is this different to how Westerners and Arab and Hebrew speakers organise time?

8. What are the following two systems that vary between different languages?

9. How does the gender of words like “bridge” in German and Spanish affect how the Germans and the Spanish think about these words?

10. In Lera’s “broken vase” example what is the difference in the way English people Spanish people think about the broken vase?

11. True or false? Diversity in languages is currently diminishing.




1. 7,000

2. Does the language we speak shape the way we think?

There is scientific data to debate this question.

3. They use cardinal directions e.g. North, North-west, South etc

4. They ask “which way are you going?” with theresponse “North-North East in the far distance, what about you?”

5.They can get better orientated

6. They think about time based on cardinal directions whereas Westerners organise in the direction of writing – right to left and then for Arabic and Hebrew speakers it’s the opposite – left to right.

7.The way people count and talk about colour differs.

8. The German’s view “bridge” as a feminine word and will describe it using stereotypically feminine adjectives whereas the Spanish view it as masculine and will describe it using more masculine words.

9. The English will see the broken vase and think “he broke the vase” even though it may have been an accident whereas the Spanish will think “the vase broke” and remember more that it was an accident rather than who did it. This changes perception of blame and punishment.

10. One language is lost a week.




Here is a texte about Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, one of the most famous linguistic theories.


After reading the text can you find the synonym (A orB) for the words from 1 to 6



The Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis Linguistic Theory



By Richard Nordquist


Updated on July 03, 2019

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis is the linguistic theory that the semantic structure of a language shapes or limits the ways in which a speaker forms conceptions of the world. It (1) came about in 1929. The theory is named after the American anthropological linguist Edward Sapir (1884–1939) and his student Benjamin Whorf (1897–1941). It is also known as the theory of linguistic relativity, linguistic relativism, linguistic determinism, Whorfian hypothesis, and Whorfianism.

History of the Theory

The idea that a person's native language determines how he or she thinks was popular among behaviorists of the 1930s and on until cognitive psychology theories came about, beginning in the 1950s and increasing in influence in the 1960s. (Behaviorism taught that behavior is a result of external conditioning and doesn't (2) take feelings, emotions, and thoughts (2) into account as affecting behavior. Cognitive psychology studies mental processes such as creative thinking, problem-solving, and attention.)

Author Lera Boroditsky gave some background on ideas about the connections between languages and thought:

"The question of whether languages shape the way we think goes back centuries; Charlemagne proclaimed that 'to have a second language is to have a second soul.' But the idea went out of favor with scientists when Noam Chomsky's theories of language gained popularity in the 1960s and '70s. Dr. Chomsky proposed that there is a universal grammar for all human languages—essentially, that languages don't really differ from one another in (3) significant ways...." ("Lost in Translation." "The Wall Street Journal," July 30, 2010)

The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was taught in courses through the early 1970s and had become widely accepted as truth, but then it (4) fell out of favor. By the 1990s, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis was left for dead, author Steven Pinker wrote. "The cognitive revolution in psychology, which made the study of pure thought possible, and a number of studies showing meager effects of language on concepts, appeared to kill the concept in the 1990s... But recently it has been resurrected, and 'neo-Whorfianism' is now an active research topic in psycholinguistics." ("The Stuff of Thought. "Viking, 2007)

Neo-Whorfianism is essentially a weaker version of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and says that language influences a speaker's view of the world but does not inescapably determine it.

The Theory's Flaws

One big problem with the original Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (5) stems from the idea that if a person's language has no word for a particular concept, then that person would not be able to understand that concept, which is untrue. Language doesn't necessarily control humans' ability to reason or have an emotional response to something or some idea. For example, take the German word sturmfrei, which essentially is the feeling when you have the whole house to yourself because your parents or roommates are away. Just because English doesn't have a single word for the idea doesn't mean that Americans can't understand the concept.

There's also the "chicken and egg" problem with the theory. "Languages, of course, are human creations, tools we invent and hone to suit our needs," Boroditsky continued. "Simply showing that speakers of different languages think differently doesn't tell us whether it's language that shapes thought or (6) the other way around."


1) came about                           A) happened             B) returned

2) take ......... into account         A) calculate            B) consider

3) significant ways (colocation) A) noticeable pattern B) path to follow

4) fell out of favor (idiom)         A) not considered anymore B) don't owe anything to anybody

5) Stems (v)                             A) converge             B) results

6) other way around (idiom)    A) round trip             B) opposite





1 A          2 B            3 A           4 A             5 B           6 B



Lire les phrases suivantes du texte du listening en francais. Il faut les traduire vers l'anglais sans regarder le texte d;abord et puis vous les trouverez dans les paragraphes 7 et 9

1. Beaucoup des langues utilisent du genre pour les noms. Chaque nom a un genre, souvant masculin ou feminin. Ces genres sont differents pour des differents langues. 

2. Certains langues n'ont pas des mots precis pour des numeros. Il existe des langues qui n'ont pas le mot "sept" ou "huit". En fait, les gens qui parlent ces langues ne compte pas et ils ont des difficultés pour comprendre des quantités exactes. 




Relative clauses:

We can use relative clauses to join two English sentences, or to give more information about something.

I bought a new car. It is very fast.
I bought a new car that is very fast.

She lives in New York. She likes living in New York.
She lives in New York, which she likes.

Defining and Non-defining

defining relative clause tells which noun we are talking about:

  • I like the woman who lives next door.
    (If I don't say 'who lives next door', then we don't know which woman I mean).

non-defining relative clause gives us extra information about something. We don't need this information to understand the sentence.

  • I live in London, which has some fantastic parks.
    (Everybody knows where London is, so 'which has some fantastic parks' is extra information).

Defining relative clauses:

1: The relative pronoun is the subject:

First, let's consider when the relative pronoun is the subject of a defining relative clause.

We can use 'who', 'which' or 'that'. We use 'who' for people and 'which' for things. We can use 'that' for people or things.

The relative clause can come after the subject or the object of the sentence. We can't drop the relative pronoun.

For example (clause after the object of the sentence):

  • I'm looking for a secretary who / that can use a computer well.
  • She has a son who / that is a doctor.
  • We bought a house which / that is 200 years old.

More examples (clause after the subject of the sentence):

  • The people who / that live on the island are very friendly.
  • The man who / that phoned is my brother.
  • The camera which / that costs £100 is over there.

2: The relative pronoun is the object:

When the relative pronoun is the object of the clause, we can drop the relative pronoun if we want to. Again, the clause can come after the subject or the object of the sentence. Here are some examples:

(Clause after the object)

  • She loves the chocolate (which / that) I bought.
  • We went to the village (which / that) Lucy recommended.
  • John met a woman (who / that) I had been to school with.

 (Clause after the subject)

  • The bike (which / that) I loved was stolen.
  • The university (which / that) she likes is famous.
  • The woman (who / that) my brother loves is from Mexico.

Non-defining relative clauses:

We don't use 'that' in non-defining relative clauses, so we need to use 'which' if the pronoun refers to a thing, and 'who' if it refers to a person. We can't drop the relative pronoun in this kind of clause, even if the relative pronoun is the subject of the clause.

(Clause comes after the subject)

  • My boss, who is very nice, lives in Manchester.
  • My sister, who I live with, knows a lot about cars.
  • My bicycle, which I've had for more than ten years, is falling apart.

 (Clause comes after the object)

  • Yesterday I called our friend Julie, who lives in New York.
  • The photographer called to the Queen, who looked annoyed.
  • Last week I bought a new computer, which I don't like now.




Practice 1:

Make one sentence from the two short ones. The sentence in italics should become the relative clause. The relative pronoun is the subject of the relative clause.

1. She worked for a man. The man used to be an athlete. _______________________________________________________________

2. They called a lawyer. The lawyer lived nearby. _______________________________________________________________

3. I sent an email to my brother. My brother lives in Australia. _______________________________________________________________

4. The customer liked the waitress. The waitress was very friendly. _______________________________________________________________

5. We broke the computer. The computer belonged to my father. _______________________________________________________________

6. I dropped a glass. The glass was new. _______________________________________________________________

7. She loves books. The books have happy endings. _______________________________________________________________

8. They live in a city. The city is in the north of England. _______________________________________________________________

9. The man is in the garden. The man is wearing a blue jumper. _______________________________________________________________

10. The girl works in a bank. The girl is from India. _______________________________________________________________

11. My sister has three children. My sister lives in Australia. _______________________________________________________________

12. The waiter was rude. The waiter was wearing a blue shirt. _______________________________________________________________

13. The money is in the kitchen. The money belongs to John. _______________________________________________________________

14. The table got broken. The table was my grandmother’s.


Practice 2:

Make a new sentence by joining the two short sentences. The sentence in italics should become the relative clause, and the relative pronoun is the object.

1. We ate the fruit. I bought the fruit. _______________________________________________________________

2. She bought the computer. Her brother had recommended the computer. _______________________________________________________________

3. He lost the money. I had given him the money. _______________________________________________________________

4. We called the taxi company. Julie often uses the taxi company. _______________________________________________________________

5. John met a girl. I used to employ the girl. _______________________________________________________________

6. Lucy called the doctor. My mother knows the doctor. _______________________________________________________________

7. He brought a woman. I used to often meet the woman . _______________________________________________________________

8. We employed the lawyer. Julie recommended the lawyer. _______________________________________________________________

9. The fruit is on the table. I bought the fruit. _______________________________________________________________

10. The wallet belongs to John. Lucy found the wallet in the garden. _______________________________________________________________

11. The food was delicious. David cooked the food. _______________________________________________________________

12. The car was stolen. My father gave me the car. _______________________________________________________________

13. The man was arrested. I reported the man to the police. _______________________________________________________________

14. The doctor was right. Lucy asked the doctor about her problem.



Answers 1:

1. She worked for a man who / that used to be an athlete.

2. They called a lawyer who / that lived nearby.

3. I sent an email to my brother who / that lives in Australia.

4. The customer liked the waitress who / that was very friendly.

5. We broke the computer which / that belonged to my father.

6. I dropped a glass which / that was new.

7. She loves books which / that have happy endings.

8. They live in a city which / that is in the north of England.

9. The man who / that is wearing a blue jumper is in the garden.

10. The girl who / that is from India works in a bank.

11. My sister who / that lives in Australia has three children.

12. The waiter who / that was wearing a blue shirt was rude.

13. The money which / that belongs to John is in the kitchen.

14. The table which / that was my grandmother’s got broken.

Answers 2:

1. We ate the fruit (which / that) I bought.

2. She bought the computer(which / that) her brother had recommended.

3. He lost the money (which / that) I had given him.

4. We called the taxi company (which / that) Julie often uses.

5. John met a girl (who / that) I used to employ.

6. Lucy called the doctor (who / that) my mother knows.

7. He brought a woman (who / that) I used to often meet.

8. We employed the lawyer (who / that) Julie recommended.

9. The fruit (which / that) I bought is on the table.

10. The wallet (which / that) Lucy found in the garden belongs to John.

11. The food (which / that) David cooked was delicious.

12. The car (which / that) my father gave me was stolen.

13. The man (who / that) I reported to the police was arrested.

14. The doctor (who / that) Lucy asked about her problem was right.




To outline : souligner, mettre en évidence

Supplies : approvisionnements

Injury : une blessure

Sting : une piqûre

Spell : un sort

To be pregnant : tomber enceinte

Politely : gentiment

Record : un registre

To oversee : surveiller

Thin : maigre

To beg : supplier

Advice : conseil



Peseshet is a doctor and a teacher. The video describes a typical day of her life.

Now it is you turn. Write a text :

- Present yourself.

- Describe your profession.

- Tell what you did to get this job.

- Describe a typical day of your life : what usually happens when you are at work?




You can book a one to one class with a teacher who will correct your writing exercise.  One to one classes can be online, with a video call, anytime of the day. 

This gives you full flexibility for your timetable.

Please send us an email at afterschool at afterschoollyon.com.




You can book a one to one class with a teacher for the speaking.  One to one classes can be online, with a video call, anytime of the day. 

This gives you full flexibility for your timetable.

Please send us an email at afterschool at afterschoollyon.com.

Our online classes range from A1 to C2 levels, including specific class contents and online video classes.  They are designed to improve communication of spoken and written English with learner-centred lessons which help build students’ confidence, accuracy and fluency.

Our online learning classes offer an extensive level of flexibility for individual students, with comprehensive syllabus and content.