Welcome to our 2020 review! It’s a video where we look back at the year we’ve had (oh, what a strange year!), talk about clips from some of the videos we’ve made and look ahead at things to come.
It’s a long video with lots of comedy sketches, so grab a coffee and make yourselves comfortable. We’d love to hear your requests for 2021 and answer any questions you may have.
Hello and welcome to the 2020 review video. This is when we look back at the year and some of the videos we’ve made.
And it’s also when we’ll ask you to think about what videos you’d like us to do next year.
Yes! So how was 2020 for you, Jay?
It was one of the worst years ever. I can’t wait for it to end!
I think a lot of people feel like that.
Obviously COVID-19 was the big story of the year and it impacted our lives, it impacted your lives, in fact it impacted everybody around the world.
Do you know. I forgot to publish a video about that.
Yeah, so we’re going to start with a video that you might not have seen before. Or at least it has different words. Let’s see it.
Are you concerned about returning to work when the corona virus dies down? Will you be able to maintain enough social distance to be safe? Do you have the PPE you need to protect yourself? It’s time to take control and create a safe work environment. Nothing protects you from COVID-19 like a big steel pan. And when you’re all done your big steel pan rinses clean. Call or go online to get your big steel pan today.
Did we make that video for something else?
Yes. We made it a few years ago when we were doing a video about sickness and illnesses. I just made you record a new audio track. Do you remember? With words like social distancing and PPE.
Well, what I remember is that my head hurts a lot.
But we actually made three videos about COVID. And the first one was about some of the new words we were found we were using.
Now hoarding is another interesting verb. It has negative connotations.
It’s when you have a secret stack of something that you don’t want to share.
With that video I felt I was going back to my business English teaching roots because it was all about stocks, supplies and shortages.
By the way, we’ve already run out of that stack of toilet paper, and the stores are running out of them again.
OK and then the next video we made about COVID was about new words that were coming into the English language. And the Oxford English Dictionary had started adding them, or adding new meanings for old words. For example, social distancing.
Good morning colleagues. Welcome back to work after the shut down. Please remember to sit six feet apart. And please remember to wear masks. And don’t forget to wear gloves.
Kathy, who plays our boss in a lot of our videos, couldn’t come here because of social distancing. But she was kind enough to record her voice to scare us into moving apart and putting our masks and gloves on.
And then I think the third video we did though was my favourite. Let’s see a clip from that.
Oh yeah, things in Paris have been really, really busy.
Well thanks for making time for this meeting. We’re just waiting for Jay. Oh here he is! Hi Jay!
Hi everyone. Sorry I’m late.
Well, let’s get started then. Shall we all look at last month’s figures?
So do you know what that video was about?
I remember. It was about the elephant in the zoom.
That’s right. Because this video was all about wordplay. As we started using new words, we would often play around with them. Well, everyone would. And we have the phrase ‘an elephant in the room’. And that’s when there’s a subject that’s there, but you don’t want to mention it. But of course, we were all involved in elephants in the zoom. So an elephant in the zoom would be when you were looking at someone’s video but they were? erm? perhaps they’d grown a big bushy beard or the house was a mess or something like that.
Or in my case obviously it was the state of my hair.
Oh that’s right. Well we did actually try to tackle that, didn’t we?
Here’s your gown sir.
Then it’s time for the haircut. How do you want me to cut your hair?
Yes but? OK, we need some words describing what you want your barber to do. Well, shorter all over, but not so short that my bald spot is uncovered.
Ooo, OK. If I? If I comb down?
And then cut it?
You’ll cut my ear off.
It will all look? it will look funny.
So you have to blend it.
That’s what they do on YouTube. Oh, I hope I haven’t taken too much off. Do you think that much was too much?
I have no idea.
I’m afraid my friend John the barber down the street has lost a customer because she’s very good.
Well we had to buy some clippers and things for that, didn’t we?
It was funny because we shot that with two cameras, and forgot to start one of them.
And it was difficult because we couldn’t go back and shoot again because I’d already cut his hair off.
We did make it work eventually. It was one of the most enjoyable videos we’ve produced all year I think.
Oh we’ve got some more of those to come though.
Now, another camera. Jay went out this year and bought another camera.
Right, we’re looking at it right now.
So, if you’ve noticed a change in the way we shoot things, it’s because of that second camera.
Another thing that happened this year was that we both put on the COVID 10.
Or in my case, the COVID 25 I think.
That’s when you add an extra ten pounds or twenty five pounds or whatever it is because you’re eating too much during COVID. So we’ve recently had to tackle it.
We went on diets, both of us. And I’m very pleased to announce that I’ve lost a great deal of weight and Vicki has lost some. She didn’t need to lose as much as I did.
I can have two ounces of these. Ah. Too many. Perfect. There you go.
I can have five ounces of this.
Is that five ounces?
Well, sort of.
That video was very true to life. We really had been cheating a bit.
We tend to lie to ourselves just a little bit about how much we’re supposed to have, because our calorie intake is very strict on this diet.
Can you remember what that video was about?
I think it was about lying to ourselves, wasn’t it?
It was, and also all kinds of other phrases for lying, including white lies.
So how did the meeting go yesterday?
Did you get to show everyone my PowerPoint presentation?
Yes. They said they said it was boring.
Oh. Now I feel terrible. Why couldn’t you have told me a white lie?
Well, like they didn’t have time to see it or something.
How about the lunch I ordered? Did they like that?
They didn’t have time to see it.
One of the things we always try to do in our videos is show you words in action. Because I thinkink it’s much easier to learn and remember them that way.
Vicki likes to show you words in action when she’s being mean to me.
Usually in the comments, most years, we get comments about ‘Why is Vicki so mean to Jay?’
That’s a question I ask all the time. Why is she so mean to me?
But it’s just because I get to write the parts and I like playing at being mean to him. I really like writing comedy skits for Jay. I like it when he plays someone who’s a bit silly. And I love it when he plays someone who’s very enthusiastic. You do that really well.
Well, that’s because I’m very enthusiastic.
But you also like being a bit silly too.
I have fun with that.
I’m so excited to be here. It’s great to see you.
You too. So how did your team do this month, Jay?
Oh fantastic. This month was great!
So how did this month compare to last month.
Oh, that’s easy. Way better!
OK, but how many products did you sell?
Jay. We need some fact and figures.
Can you remember what video that was?
That particular skit was about facts and figures and I think the video was about word pairs?
Yes. Word pairs are collocations but they’re very fixed expressions. And we made a couple of videos on them. Let’s have another clip.
One, two, three, four.
What are you doing?
I’m counting the paper clips.
Well, it’s part of my job. Every year I count the inventory.
So you count the paper clips?
Each and every paper clip, each and every year. Eight? Oh no. One, two, three.
That’s an old joke. We keep using paper clips in our videos, don’t we? When we’re trying to think of something Jay can do that’s kind of silly.
It’s something I have to do, each and every year.
OK, another clip.
What are you wearing?
It’s none of your business.
Don’t tell me. It’s a helmet to prevent me from reading your mind.
How did you know?
I read your mind.
So that’s another thing I like to do to Jay. It’s erm.. make you look kind of crazy.
What? Wearing an aluminum hat is crazy?
OK, here’s another word pairs clip.
So what are you doing today?
Oh I’ve got no socks so I have to do the laundry.
I could do it for you, if you like.
Really? Oh thank you.
Perhaps you could do some things for me.
Here are a few things.
Oh, no problem.
She did it to me again.
I think we were teaching give and take there.
And, but you know the worst trick that I played on you? Well, let’s see it.
I need to learn to trust you more Vicki. How can I do that?
Oh, we could play the trust game.
The trust game. Turn around.
That’s right. And then you fall back.
And you’ll catch me.
OK. You didn’t catch me.
I’m just not very trustworthy.
Now that video didn’t come from a word pairs video. It came from one of our ‘How good is your English?’ quizzes, where we target things that we know students often make mistakes with. And then we give you a little quiz on it at the end. And they’ve been very popular.
Yeah. Lots of people have taken the quizzes and done very well.
We have a roof deck on our house and it gets very hot and sunny up there, so this year we bought something.
Can you guess what it is?
It’s a sun umbrella. Now why did we buy it?
We bought it because we wanted some shadow.
We bought it because we wanted some shade.
Shadow and shade both refer to the dark shape you get when an object blocks the light. When we’re thinking in terms of the shape it makes, we use shadow.
And when we’re thinking in terms of shelter from the sun, we use shade.
We wanted shelter on our deck so we wanted shade.
This is a lamp and this is its shade. It protects our eyes from the light.
And we can call these shades – notice that it’s plural. Shades is an informal word for sun glasses.
Cool shades, eh?
So the word shade is about protection.
And shadows are about shape. For example, our shadows lengthen as the sun goes down.
So here’s another quick question. Are these shadow puppets or shade puppets?
I think my monster got your rabbit.
OK, another video that’s always popular when we can make them are tricky words videos. They’re for pronunciation. Let’s see a clip.
That one was really hard.
Yeah they’re all wrong!
The spelling is misleading.
Epitome has four syllables. Epitome.
She got it right!
What does epitome mean?
If something is the epitome of something, it means it’s a perfect example.
It’s quite a formal word.
For example, I am the epitome of a fashionable man. My clothes are the epitome of good taste.
Well, they’re the epitome of 1990’s fashion.
What do you mean 1990s fashion?!
We haven’t been able to shoot any more of those videos this year because of COVID. WE normally shoot them at the Art Museum in Philly, don’t we.
The Rocky steps, if you remember that movie.
And we go there and we just ask people who are visiting Philadelphia – people who are learning English so they’re not native speakers that you saw. I think I had enough clips as well to do one more video on pronunciation.
OK, so here’s the mouth and inside is the tongue. But it’s not a good tongue for making a TH sound. Because it’s pointy. This is a good tongue for a T sound and a D sound. t t t, d d d.
So what’s the difference between the d and the t sound?
That’s a good question because your mouth position is the same.
The difference is whether you add your voice or not. So you can feel the vibration here with a d d d. But with t there’s no voice. T t t.
T t t. Well done. So what’s next?
OK Google. Tell us a joke.
Why can’t a bicycle stand on its own?
It’s two/too tired.
Now because of COVID-19 we haven’t had any of our friends or family over for dinner. So we invited the Google Assistant for dinner.
We just got bored one night and started chatting to Google.
Hey Google, will you always be our friend?
I’ll be your friend till the end.
Thank you. That’s very nice to know.
OK Google. Good night. Sleep well.
Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite. If they do, I’ll help you find and exterminator.
Thanks a lot.
So what did you think of Google as a guest?
Well, she did have a good sense of humor but she really didn’t understand human beings very well.
But a lot of you in the comments said you were going to try it out.
And one of the people who wrote to us in the comments said that as they were playing this video, their Google Assistant reacted.
It heard the video and then responded.
There was something else we asked the Google Assistant too.
OK Google, which do you prefer, British English or American English?
On the website Quora dot com they say best is a subjective quality, but I would have to say that in written English, American English is slightly more rational in its spelling, while in speech, British English is clearly better.
Of course we often make videos about the differences between British and American English. And we do them with Super Agent Awesome, but not this year. Because again, we couldn’t have anybody over because of COVID-19.
You did give me a little quiz though on American slang.
Oh yes, this is one my kids always used.
Riding shot gun. OK, if you have a car, there’s the driver of the car and then sitting next to them is the passenger.
All right, sitting next to them is the passenger.
And that seat? the person riding in that seat is riding shot gun. Is that right?
That’s exactly right. When a family would get into a car, one of the kids would shout out “I call shot gun’. That means they want to sit in that front passenger seat. Now this comes from the old west.
When the stage coaches took money and people and parcels all across the country. To protect whatever was in the stage coach, sitting next to the driver was a guy with a shot gun. He was riding shot gun.
To ride shot gun means to ride in the front passenger seat of a car or truck.
I did very well in that quiz. But the big American event this year was, of course, the election.
Well, here’s the ballot and here’s the secure envelope you’re supposed to put it in. And if you don’t put it in this envelope, and you send it in to the county election board without it, this is a naked ballot.
And it doesn’t count. In Pennsylvania, your vote will not be counted. Erm ? But you’ve also got different envelopes there.
So in addition to the one that I have to put the ballot in before I send it back, there’s another envelope here and this one says voter’s declaration, and it’s got a space for my signature over here. And I have to sign it in the same way as the county election board’s book has my signature.
Now the other thing that has to happen Jay is we have to turn the camera’s off. Because you have to do this in secret.
I will. I just want to point out that we put the one envelope inside the other one before we mail it back.
So I did. I voted by mail and as far as I know, my ballot was counted. I’m just so glad the election is over. Well I think that the whole of America is, aren’t they?
Well the night that Joe Biden was declared the winner by the news media, Philadelphia erupted in parties.
There was dancing in the streets. The car horns were honking.
It was pretty amazing.
One of the things we tried to do in the election videos was to stay non-partisan. So not to take the side of a political party.
And most of our viewers recognized that we’ve done that. We specifically did not want to endorse either candidate,
Well we were interested in giving you the vocabulary you’d need so you could join in the discussions. And there was a similar video to that, well, let’s have a little clip.
So do you remember that video?
Oh yes! It was about protests and racism.
Yes, and I made you paint. Jay is not a painter. He doesn’t really like it. You were very worried about that.
I was concerned. As it turned out I didn’t do too badly.
You did very well!
After George Floyd was murdered by a policeman in Minneapolis, Minnesota, protests erupted all over America.
Yes, and all over the world. So we wanted to give you some vocabulary so you could join in the discussions.
There’s something that I’ve become more conscious of here and maybe it’s a British and American thing, or maybe it’s just because I’m getting older.
But, there’s the idea of the right to free speech being your right – it’s something you are able to do – but there’s also the idea here I think of it being a civic duty. It’s the correct thing to do and something you should do, so if you see injustice, you should speak up.
In the comments some of you were wondering about how we made this video. And basically we just got the painting things out and chatted.
When we looked at it later we realized we hadn’t explained a lot of words so we filmed other littlw bits, but we just slotted them in, didn’t we?
Right, actually it was a very interesting video and I think the protests movements in the United States, going back to when I was in school when the Vietnam war was going on, is something that’s always been a part of American life.
This was a common phrase in the 1960s when we were protesting against the Viet Nam war, but I think it’s still relevant today.
This is the idea that if you see injustice, you should speak up. If you stay silent, you’re part of the problem.
This has become a powerful message for change and it’s struck a chord all around the world.
This is a phrase we use when we think something shouldn’t continue any longer. For example, we’ve been ignoring climate change for too long. Enough is enough.
This is about voting being our duty. If we don’t vote, democracy will be destroyed.
This is about joining together to fight for what’s right.
What does it say in the middle?
When – when we are united. I forgot the n.
This has become a political issue in the US. I don’t know why. Please, just wear a mask.
This is my new favourite phrase. It means get educated so you become aware of racial injustice.
So we couldn’t go out into the streets because of COVID, but we had our own protest at home.
Exactly. So what’s next?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
So that video was about July the fourth, the day you celebrate independence.
The Declaration of Independence was written and released at Independence Hall, just a few blocks down the street from where we are right now.
Yes, we live in Philadelphia. And you had a costume.
That was kind of fun to use that in the video. I enjoyed that.
And we plan to make some more videos about American history I hope.
And so you may see me in that costume again.
We just need a vaccine so we can go back out into the streets again.
OK, another video.
Fly by night security.
Hi. I’m calling with a question about your security software. Will I be able to install it myself?
Oh, you sound very intelligent. How long have you been using computers?
About 40 years I guess.
Wow! Then it’ll be a piece of cake for a guy like you.
Thanks. Wait a minute. Are you trying to butter me up?
Oh no! It’s just everybody loves this software. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.
OK, I’ll talk to my manager about it.
Well, you’d better hurry up, because it’s selling like hotcakes.
Yeah, and you need to buy it right now to get the sale price.
OK. Then I’ll buy it right now.
Great decision! I can tell you’re one smart cookie.
It’s like taking candy from a baby.
That was about food idioms, of course, but I have to point out that you looked really good in that wig.
I loved that wig! I think you’re going to see it again more often.
I’m thinking we might make some more idioms videos next year.
Good idea. So what kinds of videos are we planning?
Well, I’ve got a long list of different language points to teach. But not so many comedy sketches yet. How do we come up with ideas for them?
Usually we take them from real life.
We do that a lot, don’t we? I also think that thinking of you and your character, I mean not necessarily your real character, but the characters you play can be quite inspiring.
I’m really glad she said that.
And maybe you can think of comedy sketches we can do. And sometimes we think of things as we go along.
Hello. Hello? I am sick and tired of robo calls.
So we were teaching ‘sick and tired’ there, but it was funny because when we shot that video, first of all I was going to be sitting next to you. And then when we actually started shooting it, we suddenly realized, hang on, it shouldn’t be me sitting there. There should be a robot.
You mean that wasn’t you?
OK, I have a question for you.
Can you remember what the very first video was this year?
It was a busy day in Manila. The sun was shining and everyone was hurrying to work. Michael decided to take a different route to college, and something caught his eye.
A young puppy was limping along the road. He looked very sick and he was starving.
Michael found him some food and water, but he couldn’t afford to adopt him because he was supporting both himself and his younger brother through school.
So he turned to his friends for help. He posted a message on Facebook with a map of the dog’s location and asked everyone to share it.
The message made its way to the US where Geri picked it up. She contacted her friends in the Philippines and found someone to take Jay to the vet.
Jay was suffering from mange, a skin disease that made him lose his fur. He was always scratching because his skin was itchy, but not any more. Jay was adopted by Ninfa and just look at him now. What a bundle of lovely white fur and what a happy dog!
What a cute dog!
Yes. It’s a true story, and in fact I think we had three or four stories there, And we used them to look at how we use the past continuous tense. But we were very lucky to get hold of those videos of the dogs.
Yeah, we have a friend, Geri, who’s from the Philippines, and she runs a charity for dogs in the Philippines.
And I was helping her by making a video for her about the dogs, and she kindly said we could use the clips. And of course we always love a good story.
I didn’t know what to get Vicki for her birthday. I thought about getting her something to wear. Then I wondered about something for her car, or something for the deck, or something for the house.
I thought for a long time and eventually I decided to get her flowers.
Ah, thank you. They’re beautiful.
I think that was one of our quiz questions about the word ‘eventually’.
Because it’s a false friend in many languages.
What does that men – false friend.
A false friend is a word that sounds like a word in your language, but actually it doesn’t have the same meaning as the meaning it has in English.
Right. You’re not a false friend are you?
No you can always trust me.
OK, I have a different question for you. What was your favourite video this year?
That we made.
That’s really hard. I really liked them all. What was your favorite?
Oh, I think you probably know.
Welcome to the 2020 SEVY Awards
The awards for students who rise to the challenge of speaking English.
Speaking English to the world!
We’re thrilled to present members of the Simple English Videos family.
People from all over the world who’ve risen to our communication challenge.
People of great courage!
And amazing creativity.
At a time when we’re on lock down from the corona virus.
And many of you are too.
Let’s share and connect.
Oh yeah, that was my favorite too.
We know that we’re asking a lot when we ask people to perform in English and video themselves. And then we share it with the world. So it’s a big ask. I always wonder if we’ll have any responses. And then for the next couple of weeks all these wonderful videos arrive.
They were amazing. You guys are just terrific. Thank you so much.
And this year the challenge was to tell us what you like doing. And it turned out to be a great question to ask because a lot of people didn’t just tell us, they showed us.
Hi. My name is Jakub. I’m from Poland. What I love doing is wild life photography. I’ve been photographing wildlife since I was eight. I have recently taken up micro photography and underwater photography. Would you like to see some of my photos?
Here you go!
Wow. Oh my goodness. That’s beautiful.
Hello, my name is Derya. Here’s Onur. He’s three years old. He’s my baby boy and I’m a full-time mother.
I love spending time with my sweetie. Right now we are painting and I’m teaching him English as I can, now Onur is going to say you the colours. Onur, which colour is it?
Which colour is it?
Oh hello. Hello Mrs Vicki and Mr Jay. My name is Leven ? and I am from Sakartvelo, also known as Georgia. My favourite thing to do is botany. I like to take care of my plants. It is here and it looks pretty healthy, huh?
Hello Miss Vicki and Mr Jay. Thanks for this nice challenge. This is Marcello from Chile and what I love doing is playing basketball. It’s an excellent exercise. And finally I’m going to score a basket, for you guys. Let’s try. I’m going to jump. Wow!
Hi. I’m Roxana. I’m from Romania. You know, the country from where the Dracula phenomenon spread all over the world. Well today I’m going to share with you two things about me. The first thing is that I’m into arts and crafts. Like these adorable hearts that go so well for Mother’s Day. The second thing is that despite coming from Romania, the home of vampires, ghosts, zombies, you name it, we are nothing else but friendly adorable people, so don’t be afraid of us. Have a lovely day. Bye!
They were terrific.
I wish I could have shown you more. I mean that was just a small sample. But I’ll put the link here and you can check it out.
So are we going to have another SEVY challenge next year?
And what’s the subject going to be.
Ooo, I’ve been thinking about that, and I think I’ve got a good one, but you’ll have to check out our channel to see and find out. And I hope you’ll join in the challenge.
But you had another favorite video.
My favourite thing about Spain is the child-friendly culture. It’s a lovely place to bring up children. Whenever we went out with my grandson, we were stopped by strangers in the street.
They all wanted to talk to him and tell us how wonderful he was.
And when we went into shops, he got given little gifts, like stickers or sweets.
He was given lots of candy.
And the funny thing is, he’s only one so he doesn’t actually know what sweets are. His Mum and Dad don’t let him eat sugar.
So what happens to the candy. Do they it throw it away?
Oh no! I think it all gets eaten. His dad likes sweets.
Ah, you’re right. I loved that video too because it had my grandson in it.
And it was about our trip to Spain in 2019, which was really extraordinary.
And we were looking at passives in that. But you know there was another video that he was in. In one of the word pair videos.
Have we heard from Tom yet?
No. Oh hi. Are you there yet?
Yeah, we’ve just walked in. Yes, we’re all home safe and sound.
And how was your flight?
That was about the word pair safe and sound, meaning well and in no danger.
We hope you’re all safe and sound in these difficult times.
We know from your comments that some of you have lost loved ones to COVID-19.
And we want to say our hearts go out to you. We’re so sorry for the pain we know you’re going through.
2020 has been a terrible year for so many people.
It’s very upsetting. And we wish you strength to get through it and peace and a better future in 2021
So how should we finish this video?
Well, why don’t we have some video clips to show us we’re human and make us chuckle.
Now I want you to look carefully at this. July’s figures were up on?.Excuse me. Could you please concentrate on these figures?
To chuckle means to laugh quietly. 2020 has been such a difficult year so perhaps a good chuckle is a good way to say goodbye to it.
And to lead in to a better 2021.
With a happier future.
Oh wow! You’ve made some soup.
You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble for me. Oh and some wine too. Are you having anything?
I can’t log in to the company website.
Oh, It’s the new security software. You just have to hit control delete.
Great! Now it says it’s deleted my account.
Nonsense. It’s as easy as pie. Look. Oh.
Well that’s a fine kettle of fish. Now neither of us can log in.
I got such a good deal on it.
You mean you paid for this software?
It cost peanuts.
Yeah, but it’s a lemon. We can’t get into the website now.
Does management know that you bought this software?
Looks like your goose is cooked.
Please take care of yourself and stay safe
Safe and sound. That’s the most important thing.
Away from danger.