Advanced English Vocabulary Lesson
Vanessa: Hi, I'm Vanessa from SpeakEnglishWithVanessa.com. Let's talk about war, peace and you. Let's get started. Have you been thinking about war a lot in the last couple of weeks? Have you felt confused and overwhelmed and a little bit helpless and maybe even hopeless? Well, today I want to help you be able to express your feelings and understand some of the words and phrases that are used to talk about war, about peace, and also how you can best express how you're feeling during this time. I think that can be some way of healing as well when we can accurately express ourselves. So let's start off today by talking about
some war vocabulary, but before we get started, I want to let you know that, like always, I have created a free PDF worksheet with all of today's vocabulary, sample sentences and ideas, and at the bottom of the PDF worksheet, you can answer Vanessa's challenge question to help you use what you've learned and never forget. You can download that free PDF with the link in the description. All right, let's get started by talking about some vocabulary that you might have seen if you've been following the news in English over the last couple weeks. Let's talk about people. You might have heard the word allies. Allies means friends, people who are united and have the same ideas, they're working together for the same cause. So you could say, the United Nations or the UN is made up of allies who are working together to avoid war. Refugees, or we often say the refugee crisis. These are people who are fleeing war
to go to somewhere more peaceful. There are a lot of refugees fleeing Ukraine at this time. Civilians, civilians are people who are not in the military, but during a time of war, maybe this has happened during a war in your country, civilians take up arms to fight for their country. Take up arms means they are shooting guns, or they are defending their country in some way.
Civilians take up arms to defend their country. Another group of people is innocent people. This is a term that's often used in the media, and you know what? Most people in war are pretty innocent. It's often the people in power who are not innocent. But who suffers during a war? It's innocent people, innocent people are the ones that often suffer and often have the biggest cost to pay. Let's next talk about some common terms used to describe war time. Invade, invade means to go in somewhere with force. For example, the enemy invaded the capital
city. Human rights, a right is something that humans just deserve. You don't need to pay for, you don't need to do something to get it, but it is a human right. We often use the term a basic human right. During war time, we might say, he acted with no regard toward basic human rights. So this means that they did not treat humans in a peaceful kind way. He acted
with no regard towards basic human rights. A crisis, many people blame the government for this crisis. We sometimes combine these words together and say, a human rights crisis. If people are not being treated properly, it is a human rights crisis. And sometimes we use the word crisis as a softer word instead of the word war. So sometimes you might see in a headline, the crisis in a certain country. So it might be the crisis in Ukraine, the crisis in Syria,
the crisis in Yemen. These are different words that we can use to maybe soften the language a bit and not say war, but it's still a crisis. Talking about human rights, we often use the verb to violate, to violate human rights. He violated human rights during the war. This means,
he did not treat people with respect, with kindness and with dignity, those are human rights, instead he violated human rights and treated people really poorly. Meddling, meddling, this is something steeped in corruption. For example, the United States has been known to meddle in other country's politics, or we could say, the United States has been meddling in other country's politics. This is pretty tricky because it means that the United States government is not blameless, they have been meddling in other country's politics, and we don't know a lot about what really happens in politics of really any of our countries. So maybe other countries as well are meddling in the politics of other places.
Arms. Are we talking about this? No, we're talking about guns and other types of weapons. So we might say that, the citizens, like I told you before, the citizens took up arms against the enemy, they took up their guns and they fought back against the enemy. A blockade. We can kind of get the sense of this word from the root, block, to block someone is to stop someone. So when we say that the enemy troops formed a blockade around the city so that no supplies could go in and no supplies could come out, a blockade, you're kind of stopping anyone or anything from going in and out. Casualties, casualties. Notice the pronunciation of this word, casualties. The S sounds like ... casualties. There were thousands of casualties
on either side. This is people who are killed or injured. Thousands of casualties. Did you know that words are powerful? Absolutely. So let's talk about some phrases that deal with the way that we speak during war time. And they often relate to peace time as well. Propaganda, propaganda, don't believe all the propaganda distributed by the media. This is often slanted, that means incorrect information given to the people to make them believe something specific.
So an example of propaganda might be, "We are winning the war, the enemy is fleeing." But in reality, we're not winning the war and the enemy is not fleeing. But the propaganda wants the people to feel a sense of, "We are winning, we are doing it." This sense of morale in order to keep going, or maybe to make the government look better than it is. So this is an example of propaganda.
A word you might also see is disinformation, disinformation. This is talking about information that is intentionally, which means on purpose, twisted so that it's incorrect, and it makes people believe something else. This is very similar to propaganda. So we might say, "The media can manipulate its audiences with some clever disinformation." Maybe
you're showing one statistic, but you're not showing the other. This is slightly less serious than the word propaganda, but really in reality, it has the same effect. It makes people believe exactly what you want them to believe instead of the truth. Rhetoric, rhetoric,
notice the pronunciation of this word. The T in the middle sounds like a D in American English, rhetoric, rhetoric. This is talking about language that is very influential and it often has to do with something that's manipulative and something that's not quite so truthful. So we often pair this with the word political, political rhetoric. You might say, "During his speech, I realized that none of it was true, it was all just political rhetoric." Something that
he's trying to say to get people to believe, but in reality, none of it's actually true. Dissent, dissent. This is talking about having an opinion opposite of what is the majority or often the opposite of what is acceptable. It might not be the majority opinion, but if you're living in a country that says, "This is the best thing." And then you think, "Eh, that's probably not true." Maybe if your country is feeling like, or your politicians are saying, "War is the best option." And you're thinking, "You know what? It's not the best option." That is dissent, and is quite dangerous to say that out loud. Because oftentimes as we can see in this sentence,
politicians try to suppress dissent. That means that they try to have opposite views silenced. Whether that means having some kind of censorship, you're not allowed to publish certain things or say certain things, or actually taking people away who express dissent. But this is something that's dangerous to do, but it has often changed a lot of wars and it changed a lot of history by people being courageous enough to express dissent. Let's talk about a couple of idioms about war that you might hear in the media, or you might want to use as you're talking about our news events. An act of war, invading Ukraine is an act of war. It is not an act of peace, it is not an act of
negotiation, it's an act of war. When you invade another country, it's an act of war. This doesn't mean that there was a signed declaration that said, we are having war, but we can all agree, invading a country is an act of war. To cut ties with someone. So this is a way we can kind of fight back against war aggressors. We could say, "A lot of companies and organizations are cutting ties with people who violate human rights." So this means they're stopping to purchase items from that country, they are trying to stop political leaders from doing certain things by not giving them privileges. They are cutting ties with the country. To add fuel to the fire. Oftentimes media adds fuel to the by spreading lies or propaganda. This means there's already a fire,
there's already a problem. We have war happening, we have lots of human rights issues happening all around the world. There are problems, it's a fire. But what happens when we add fuel? So let's imagine figurative, logs, wood, gasoline, add fuel to that fire. It doesn't help,
it makes it worse. So the media often adds fuel to the fire and doesn't help promote peace. Look for who stands to gain something. I love this expression because it really challenges us to dig deep. It means who benefits. So of course, war is a terrible thing, death of innocent people is a terrible thing. Our homes, people fleeing, all of this is awful. So why does it happen? Well, we can
look for who stands to gain something. We're not talking about standing up, it's just part of this expression. And it means who will gain something by blowing up things, who will gain something by invading, who will gain something by having complete power. Well, I think this challenges us to dig deeper, look into history as well, and to see who really stands to gain something. Our final expression in this war vocabulary section, before we go on to peace is something that touches me deeply. It's the expression high and mighty, high and mighty. For me, I'm from
the US, but in my opinion, Americans can't act high and mighty, especially American politicians cannot act high and mighty. This means superior because they have also caused senseless or meaningless wars and bloodshed. So, in this situation, if American politicians say, "Oh, we would never do something like this, we are completely uninvolved and completely innocent. It is only them." This is acting high and mighty. I think it makes the situation very complicated because as Americans, a lot of us know that our country has been involved in similar situations, senseless invasions, senseless violations of human rights. So while we want to help,
we might not feel like we are completely innocent too. Okay. That was all really heavy. Let's go on to the next section. I want to share with you a quote from a famous children's show host. When I was a child, I watched Mister Rogers a lot. If you have children, you can see some of the clips on YouTube from Mister Rogers, a wonderful TV show. And he dealt with some incredibly difficult topics for children. He often talked about divorce, war, racial segregation. He tackled a lot of difficult topics.
One of the quotes from Mister Rogers that I'd like to share with you today is this. "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers, you will always see people who are helping.'" This is a beautiful way to talk about war with children. Yes, there is senseless tragedy and there are also people who are helping,
the helpers. So we can focus on the helpers in trying to be helpers ourselves. So now let's talk about some helper vocabulary or words that are related to wanting peace. Volunteers. Thousands of volunteers have flooded to Ukraine in the surrounding countries to help with the refugee crisis. These volunteers. Relief, relief can be a feeling. I feel ... relief. But in this situation it's more physical. It means giving aid, maybe you're giving some money or food,
or actually you are going there physically and helping, you are giving relief. The people in need are getting relief. So we might say that, for example, the organization, Doctors Without Borders gives relief to thousands of people in need. Donations or charitable contributions. Thanks to donations, thousands of people are getting the help that they need. This is usually financial contributions, but sometimes it means, for your local community, people are giving cans of vegetables or soup to families who don't have food. This is a donation, it's a charitable
contribution. It's something physical. It might even mean, you are donating your time. If you live in the surrounding countries, maybe you live in Poland and you're wanting to help people who are fleeing Ukraine, maybe you donate an extra bedroom in your house, maybe you donate your time to help those people who are fleeing from their home. This is great to do, to give a donation. A little more formal word that we use to talk about the same thing is humanitarian or humanitarian aid. And this is something similar that charities do when they go to a place that's in a crisis. They give humanitarian aid, maybe that's money, food, their time, medicine. They're giving something that humans, humanitarian, that humans need. Stability, we all hope that stability will come to Ukraine and Russia soon, as well as many other places around the world that are experiencing instability. We hope that stability will come soon.
Next let's talk about three words that involve the end of war. Peace talks, ceasefire, and truce. We all hope that there will be peace talks soon. These are official conversations between politicians or leaders of a country about ending a war or having a ceasefire. Cease means stop, and
fire has to do with guns and shooting. So we hope that there will be a ceasefire soon. And truce is the official moment or the official document that you sign. We signed a truce. We shook hands in a truce, that means that there is no more war. When war is over, it's time to rebuild. Rebuild deals with rebuilding buildings and also rebuilding our emotional morale. It's important to rebuild your cities after war. Reconciliation, reconciliation means you are unifying and not
necessarily becoming friends, but not being enemies anymore. So, we hope when the war is over, the countries will be able to have some kind of reconciliation, there won't be as many tensions as before. But sometimes truth is that it takes a long time to recover after a war. To recover. This is emotionally, physically, economically, all of these things. It takes a long time to recover. Now let's talk about some peace idioms. To be up in arms. Now we already talked about how
arms are guns. So how can that be about peace? Well, if we said people around the world are up in arms because no one wants there to be war in Ukraine and other countries around the world. Are up in arms, this means they are frustrated and angry and upset about the war. "We're up
in arms. Why is there war?" Maybe your physical arms are raised, and it means that you are upset about something. People around the world are up in arms because no one wants war. To give the shirt off your back. Does this mean you're literally taking off your shirt and giving
it to someone else? Usually it's not quite so literal. It means that you're willing to give everything to help someone in need. So we might say, a lot of people are willing to give the shirt off their back to help the refugees who are leaving Ukraine at this time. They are really generous and willing to give the shirt off their back to help someone else. You might even say this to your friend. If your friend is having a hard time, you might say, "Hey, you know what? I'm
willing to give you the shirt off my back during this hard time. So please call me whenever you need me." It shows you are generous and you care. To lend a hand. You're not letting someone borrow your hand, it just means you are willing to help. So we might say that there are thousands, most likely millions of people around the world who want to lend a hand to those in need. And oftentimes those people take action and they actually do lend a hand. It doesn't mean that
you need to physically be there and be on the ground helping people, it could be that you give a charitable donation or maybe you helped to organize something and volunteer in your city. Okay, this means that you are lending a hand to those in need. Our final peace expression is the light at the end of the tunnel. It might not feel like it right now, but at some point there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. This means you're looking through the darkness and you see a little spot of hope. This is something that we all look for
when we're going through hard times. As you look for that light at the end of the tunnel, it might feel like it's a really long tunnel, but we can all hope that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel coming soon. The final section in this long and quite heavy video is an important one. It's how to talk about you and how you feel. Millions of people
around the world, whether it is over the last couple weeks or over the last 100 years, have felt some really serious feelings when it comes to unrest and war and danger. So let me give you some expressions that you can use to describe how you're feeling. Sometimes just saying it, telling a friend, telling a family member, can help you to heal as well. Let me give you some ideas. I feel so afraid about what war might mean for the world. I'm so angry that such a small number of people are responsible for hurting so many people.
I'm anxious about the threat of a nuclear war. I'm so confused about why this war is even happening. Watching the news and scrolling on social media just makes me feel depressed. I feel so helpless about not being able to do anything to stop the war. I feel numb when I
think about the long term effects of war. This word numb has to do with not feeling anything, oftentimes because you're overwhelmed with all of the bad things that are happening, you just feel nothing, you have to block it out in order to live your daily life. So you might feel numb. There's just nothing I can really do, I can't have any impact and I'm just going to live
my daily life. I feel numb because you feel so overwhelmed. I feel overwhelmed. The word we just used. I feel overwhelmed when I think about citizens of all ages being affected by war. I feel a lot of resentment towards political leaders who have let this happen. I feel resentment. This is kind of a burning feeling inside of you. Like, "How could they do this? Why would they not care about the people?" This kind of resentment that can be deep inside of us.
I feel so sad for the innocent victims of war. I feel scared for the future of the children affected by war. I was shocked when I found out that these nations were going into war. I was stunned when I heard about the invasion. One of the most common expressions is, I wish I could help, or I wish I could do something. We often do feel in this state of helplessness, beside donating money to send to a charity, we feel very disconnected from people who are suffering. So in
this way, we might say an expression like this. I wish I could do something. You might even say this to people in your own life who are going through a hard time, I wish I could do something to help them, but I just don't know what I can do. This relates to our own personal lives as well, and how we care and we want to give, and we want to help other people. But the reality is, we often feel helpless about it. But at the end of this video, I'd like to give you a couple of recommendations for something that you can do. Our final expression before we go today is
a little bit more positive. It is hopeful, despite all of the bad that I see in the world, I feel hopeful that peace will come again. I feel hopeful that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For all of my students in Ukraine and in other countries experiencing war right now, and also for my innocent Russian students who are courageously expressing dissent and fighting against war, I want to say, thank you for learning English with me. I hope that my lessons can bring you a little bit of joy, a little bit of hope, and today, some expressions to be able to describe what you are experiencing. For the rest of you living in the rest of the world, I know that you want to be able to do something, that's how I feel, I want to be able to reach out and help, but we often feel helpless. So I want to give you three options. The first one
is a wonderful organization called Doctors Without Borders. They are providing medical care all around the world to places in need. It's not just to Ukraine, but also to many other countries who are in need and need medical help. The next organization is called Save the Children. It's pretty self explanatory. Their goal is to be able to aid children in times of crisis. So they're going into Ukraine and surrounding countries and to many other countries around the world.
The final idea is something that I saw the other day and I decided to try for myself. If you have ever booked a vacation stay using the website, Airbnb, you can book a stay with someone in Ukraine, someone who has an Airbnb property, and basically this is just a way to directly give someone money. You're not going there, you're not staying at their house, but you're saying, "Hey, here's some money I'd like to be able to individually support you. So I'm going to book your Airbnb stay and use this money to be able to make it through the next couple of months." I have one final bonus way that you can help, and that is, in the comments to say something positive to our friends, all around the world, Ukraine and other countries who are experiencing human rights violations, a crisis, a war, say something nice to them in the comments, help them to feel our unity and support. It's not just money that counts, it is also this emotional support that can help people to get through a hard time. Well, thank you so much for learning English with me. Don't
forget to download today's free PDF worksheet so that you can remember all of these words and be able to use them to understand the news and be able to express yourself during hard times. I hope that this is useful to you. You can click on the link in the description to download that free PDF worksheet. Well, thank you so much for learning English with me, and I will see you again next Friday for a new lesson here on my YouTube channel. Bye. The next step is to download the free PDF worksheet for this lesson. With this free PDF, you will master today's lesson and never forget what you have learned. You can be a confident English speaker.
Don't forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel for a free English lesson every Friday. Bye.