Callum: Hi Jen – happy New Year!
Jennifer: Have you made any New Year’s resolutions this year? A resolution is
something that you decide you are going to do for that year – my
resolution is that I’m going to get fit and go to the gym at least twice a
Callum: Well, I don’t really believe in making resolutions, as I can never stick to
them, but for the sake of the programme, I’ll say that my resolution is to
eat less junk food and to be a bit healthier in general.
Jennifer: That’s not a bad idea. But what would you think about becoming kinder in
Callum: Don’t you think I’m kind enough already?
Jennifer: I do think you’re quite a kind person, but maybe you could try harder?
Callum: Now, hang on a second!
Jennifer: Before you get cross, listen to today’s story – it’s all about a study in
America, which has shown that performing a kind act every day can have
lots of benefits for you in your work life and your social life.
Callum: That sounds interesting…
Jennifer: … but before we get to the story, I’ve got a question for you to answer.
We’ve talked already about New Year’s resolutions, so what is the most
commonly broken resolution – what’s the thing that people start out
doing, but then don’t continue? Is it:
a) stopping smoking;
b) losing weight and getting fit;
Callum: Well, I’m going to go with b) losing weight and getting fit; I think that’s
something that’s very difficult for people to actually do. Maybe we should start doing kind acts in Learning Mandarin for our New Year’s Resolution?
Jennifer: We’ll find out if you’re right at the end of the programme. Now, let’s take
a closer look at today’s story. It’s about a study done on schoolchildren in
6 Minute English © British Broadcasting Corporation 2012
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America. They were asked to carry out three random acts of kindness
Callum: If something is random, it means it’s unplanned. So, a random act of
kindness means that you do something for someone that you haven’t
planned to do, just to be nice.
Jennifer: It’s a lovely idea. But what could a random act of kindness be?
This team of psychologists instructed classrooms of nine to eleven-year-old students to
carry out three random acts of kindness per week. These could be anything from giving
a stressed parent a hug to offering to share lunch with a friend.
Jennifer: What random acts of kindness did she mention?
Callum: The first example given was giving a stressed parent a hug. If you’re
stressed, you’re worried and under pressure.
Jennifer: So that’s a random act of kindness that makes you feel good and doesn’t
cost anything to do. What other examples were given?
Callum: Offering to share lunch with a friend. Would you be prepared to share
your lunch with me?
Jennifer: No! You said you wanted to lose weight for your New Year’s resolution, so
keep your hands off my lunch! Seriously, though, children between the
ages of nine and eleven took part in this kindness study, so what effects
did being kind have on the children? Listen to the second part of Victoria
Gill’s report: what positive effects did the study have?
At the end of the four weeks, these kind acts had boosted the children’s wellbeing, but
they’d also shifted the dynamics of the whole classroom. The short period of enforced
kindness made children significantly more popular with their peers; something the
researchers measured by asking every child to nominate classmates that they would
most like to spend time with.
Jennifer: We heard that the acts boosted the children’s wellbeing – that means it
made them feel better about themselves. It also changed the dynamics
of the classroom. Can you explain the word ‘dynamics’, Callum?
Callum: The word ‘dynamics’ here refers to the feel – the atmosphere – of the
classroom; the things that are important to the people in it and the way
people act. So, being kinder has changed the general feeling in the
classroom, and made it better.
Jennifer: Another positive effect was that children became more popular with their
classmates – so people will like you more if you are kind to them! Let’s
hear the final part of the report and see if you can identify an adjective
which describes a kind and selfless act.
The researchers say that encouraging schoolchildren to perform small and simple
altruistic acts could make the classroom a happier place, and even help to discourage
social problems such as bullying.
Jennifer: That word was ‘altruistic’. If you do something which is altruistic, you do
it to help someone else and not gain anything yourself.
Callum: It’s easy to see how performing kind acts can make classrooms or offices
happier places. Maybe we should start doing kind acts in Learning English for our New Year’s Resolution?
Jennifer: Now that’s not a bad idea! Speaking of New Year’s Resolutions, we’re
nearly at the end of the programme, so we have to answer the quiz
question! I asked what the most commonly broken resolution was. Was it:
a) stopping smoking;
b) losing weight and getting fit;
c) travelling more
Callum: And I said b) losing weight and getting fit.
Jennifer: Well you were… wrong, it was a) stopping smoking. According to Time
magazine, only 15% of people who stop smoking in January actually
succeed. But we’re not very good at getting fit, either – 60% of gym
memberships taken out in January are never used and people don’t stick
to their diets, either.
Callum: Hmm – that’s not very good, is it? Well if I’m not going to stick to my
resolution to lose weight, then there is some good news…