English Books: How to learn English with Harry Potter!


Hey, everyone.

I'm Alex.

Thanks for clicking, and welcome to this important lesson on: "The Secret to Mastering English!"

And the secret is

-"Where am I?

And who are you?"

-"You're in Hogwarts, Alex. And I'm Dumbledore."

-"No you're not.

Dumbledore looks different."

-"I shaved.

Listen, Alex. I have an important job for you. Can you do it?"

-"Anything for you, Dumbledore. What is it?"

-"Your engVid students want you to do a lesson on Harry Potter.

Here, take this and teach them."

"Thank you."

"You're a wizard, Alex. Now, go."

We're back.

So, today we are going to talk about

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,

chapter one.

Now, I know for many of you, Harry Potter was the first book you read in English.

And the reason it's a really, really good book for you guys to read is that it is the

most popular book series ever, which means that you can find it in many languages, there

have been movies made about it, and you can find a lot of discussion about the characters,

the dialogue, the story.

So everyone knows pretty much what happens in a lot of these stories.

Now, if you don't have a copy of the book, what you can do is get a print version or

an e-book version on Amazon attached to this video.

What I recommend, though, if you want a more interactive experience with Harry Potter is

that you get the free audio book.

Now, you can get a free audio book of Harry Potter, not just this one, the entire series,

by signing up for the free trial at www.audible.com, which is attached to this video.

When you click on the link, you will have to go through a couple of different pages

and signups, but at the end you do get the book for free.

So go through it, sign up, get the book for free, and it's an excellent audio book.

Highly recommend it.

Now, why should we read Harry Potter?

Well, it has interesting characters; Harry, Ron, Hermione, the Dursleys,

Dumbledore who I met today.

How cool was that?

It has great dialogue, great plot, and the language is pretty easy to follow, but of

course, it still has a ton of useful vocabulary.

Not just for non-native English speakers, but even for, you know, kids who are already

native speakers of English.

And finally, it's just magical.

It's a magical story, a magical book.

I love it.

It's one of my all-time favourites, so let's start looking at chapter one.

So what I'm going to do is look at the actual text from chapter one.

Not every line, of course, but I'm going to pick some very specific lines that tell us

important details about the story or that tell us some important vocabulary that I think

is going to be useful for English students.

Now, you notice I gave a page number to start this.

I am going to be looking at this hard cover version of the book.

This was published by Raincoast Books in Vancouver, so this was published in Canada.

Maybe your version is this one, maybe it's not.

Maybe you're listening to the audio version, in which case page numbers are not important.

But if you want to follow with a physical copy, this is the version that I am using.


Let me put this down.

Here we go.

Page seven.

So we start Harry Potter by learning about the Dursleys, Mr. and Mrs. Dursley,

and their son, Dudley.

First we have this line:

"Mr. Dursley was the director of a firm named Grunnings, which made drills."

So, a firm is a company, and Mr. Dursley was the director of this company,

and they made drills.

Now, drills are a power tool.

Think of the tool that allows you to put screws into things, like: "[Drilling noise]".

That's a drill.


So he was a director of a firm named Grunnings, which made drills.

Now, we have a description of him: "He was a big beefy man", "beefy", think of beef.

So he was a little bit fat, and: "…with hardly any neck".

Now, "hardly any" means almost zero.

So, he was so big and round that you couldn't see his neck.

Okay? Hardly any neck.

"…although he did have a very large moustache".

So, moustache.

Right? Everyone knows what that is there.

And: "Mrs. Dursley"-Mr. Dursley's wife-

"spent so much of her time craning over the garden fences, spying on her neighbours."

So, here is a picture of a fence.

In your backyard you have a fence that separates your house from your neighbour's house, and

here is a picture of Mrs. Dursley craning her neck.

So, "to crane your neck" is to stretch it almost to the maximum point, and she's spying

on her neighbours.

So Mrs. Dursley is a very curious woman.

"The Dursleys had everything they wanted"

-I'm going to step off camera for this-

"but they also had a secret, and their greatest fear was that somebody would discover it.

They didn't think they could bear it if anyone found out about the Potters."

So, they're a very happy family, they have everything they need, but they have a secret,

a family secret: They are ashamed of part of their family, and that part of the family

is the Potters.

Now, here: "They didn't think they could bear it",

so if you can bear something or you can't bear something

it means that you can't handle it, support it, survive it.

So they would not be able to handle it if someone, if their neighbours found out about

the Potters, part of their family.

So the Dursleys have a very clean image that they want their neighbours to follow.

All right?

Let's keep going.

And we're back.

So, continuing with page seven:

"Mrs. Dursley pretended she didn't have a sister",

so she has a sister and she doesn't like her sister, but she pretended, she acted like

she didn't have a sister because

Excuse me.

I like magic.

"…because her sister and her good-for-nothing husband were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be."

First, some excellent vocabulary, here.

A good-for-nothing person is someone who is good for nothing.

So, this is an insult, a negative, very negative thing to say about someone.

So: "Your good-for-nothing son", "Your good-for nothing sister", etc.

Her good-for-nothing husband, he had no value, no use,

were as unDursleyish as it was possible to be.

You will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever use this word outside of this book.

So, Dursley is the last name of the family, and I guess, you know, if you act in a specific

way you are Dursleyish.

"Dursleyish" is kind of an adjective that

J.K. Rowling made here.

And if you are unDursleyish, you are not acting like a Dursley acts.

Next: "The Dursleys shuttered to think what the neighbours would say if the Potters had

a small son too, but they had never seen him."

So, they shuttered to think.

If you shutter to think, it means you are just very afraid of what other people would

say about you.

They didn't want to think: What would happen if their neighbours discovered that their,

you know, Mrs. Dursley's sister had a son, and they had never seen Mrs. Dursley's son,

Mr. Dursley's sister's son.

It's a mouthful. Sorry.

Moving on to page eight: "Mr. Dursley hummed as he picked out his most boring tie"

-I'll get off screen, here-

"for work and Mrs. Dursley gossiped away happily as she wrestled a screaming

Dudley into his highchair."

So this is the morning routine of the Dursleys.

Mr. Dursley hummed: "Hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm",

this is humming, so he hummed as he picked out his most boring tie for work, and Mrs. Dursley gossiped

Phrasal verb: "to gossip away".

So, "to gossip" is to tell secret information or kind of talk about people when they are not there.

Say: -"Hey, did you hear that [mumbles]?"


Did you hear that [mumbles]?"

This is gossiping.

So she gossiped away happily as she wrestled

"To wrestle", think of wrestling.

She has a small child, his name is Dudley, into his highchair.

So, a highchair is what you put babies in or young toddlers in to feed them.

So in this book, their son, you know, Dudley, is very, very small.

He's just a baby.

All right. Let's keep going.

Okay, to continue:

"None of them noticed a large tawny owl flutter past the window."

So, "tawny" is a colour.

It means light brown, or a mix of brown and orange.

Okay? So a light brown, brown-orange owl flutter past the window.

So, when you think of a bird and the wings going

Just swinging back and forth, the wings are fluttering.


So the owl flutter

Fluttered, past tense, past the window.

All right.

"At half-past eight, Mr. Dursley picked up"

-phrasal verb, "picked up"-"his briefcase,"

-for work, his case for work with his papers-

"pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek and tried to kiss

Dudley goodbye but missed, because Dudley was now having a tantrum

and throwing the cereal at the walls."

So, a lot of information here.

So, Mr. Dursley is getting ready to go to work.

He pecked Mrs. Dursley on the cheek.

So this is your cheek, a peck can be a quick kiss, like:

"[Kisses]", that's a peck.

Also think of birds eating seeds, they peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck, peck.


So this action is quick movement of the mouth, is a quick peck.

All right?

On the cheek.

He tried to kiss Dudley, but Dudley was throwing cereal at the walls.

So, a tantrum is like an emotional episode, a period where a child or an adult sometimes

is acting really, really emotionally and angrily, like: "Ah."

If you go to a department store and you see a child lying on the floor crying, and the

parents are saying: "Come on, let's go, let's go", the child is having a tantrum.

It's not a nice scene.

And: "There was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive.

What could he have been thinking of?"

So before this line it is important to note that now Mr. Dursley has left his house, he's

in his car, he has left his driveway, and before this line he thinks he sees a cat reading

a map.

Okay? So he's like: "There's a cat reading a map. Wait, wait?"

So he sees the cat reading a map, he does what he keeps doing, he looks back and then

he says:

"Okay, there was a tabby cat standing on the corner of Privet Drive."

This is the street the Dursleys live on.

"Ah, what could he have been thinking of?"

What could Mr. Dursley have been thinking of?

He couldn't have seen a cat reading a map, could he?

So a tabby cat

Tabby refers to kind of like the fur of the cat.

Any cat that has a lot of stripes of different colours, and usually an "M" pattern on their

forehead is a tabby.

Many native speakers only think of orange cats as being tabby cats, but it's actually

all cats, so we learned something new today.

Yeah, I love this book, too.

Okay, we'll talk later.

Okay, see ya.

All right.

So: "Mr. Dursley couldn't bear people who dressed in funny clothes - the get-ups you saw on young people!"

So before this, Mr. Dursley is driving to work and he sees lots of people dressed in

really bright cloaks, which are these kind of long robes. Okay?

So he couldn't bear

He couldn't handle people who dressed in funny clothes.

The get-ups you saw on young people today.

So, a get-up is kind of like a costume.


Or a funny uniform.

So if I say: "That's a nice get-up", that's a nice kind of uniform or costume, or something

that is different than a regular set of clothes.

So he's saying: "These people are dressed weird on the street today.

I think I saw a cat reading a map.

There are people running around. There's an owl."

And then: "Mr. Dursley was enraged to see that a couple of them"

-a couple of the people on the street-"weren't young at all.

Why, that man had to be older than he was, and he was wearing an emerald-green cloak!"

So he thinks: "Hah, these young people today with their weird clothes."

But he said: "No!

This guy is as old as I am or older, so what's going on here?"

And finally: "Mr. Dursley"…

After getting to work.

Now he's at work, he's at Grunnings.

He's in his office, he said: "Mr. Dursley always sat with his back to the window"…

I'll move out so you can read this completely.

So he: "…always sat with his back to the window in his office on the ninth floor.

If he hadn't, he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning.

He didn't see the owls swooping past in broad daylight, though people down in the street did."

So here we have a conditional, so: "If he hadn't sat with his back to the window, he

might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning",

so this book is written in the past tense.

Here, we're using the third conditional, so:

"If he had not sat with his back to the window,

he might have found it harder to concentrate on drills that morning.

He didn't see the owls"-hoo-hoo-"the birds that are flying everywhere,

swooping past in broad daylight".

So, swoop.


Kind of these motions.

Swooping back and forth.

In broad daylight, this means in the open day.

So everyone can see.

It's sunny and there are owls flying everywhere, which is strange because owls are night animals.


Okay, let's continue.

So, it is now lunchtime for Mr. Dursley at his firm, Grunnings, and what he sees are

a bunch of men in green cloaks still walking around, so there are people dressed strangely

around Mr. Dursley's workplace.

It says that Mr. Dursley: "He eyed them angrily as he passed."

So, "to eye someone" is to look at them like this.

So if he's eyeing them angrily, he's looking at them angrily.


Now, you can use this to say that you have been, for example, wanting to buy something

for a very long time.

So if you want a new iPhone, for example, you can say:

"Ah, I have been eyeing that phone for a long time."

You've been paying attention to it and looking at it for a long time.

So, he eyed the men in green cloaks angrily.

Now, here he hears these men talking and he hears them say something about the Potters,

their son, Harry.

Wait a minute, why are these men whom I've never met in my life mentioning my wife's

family's name and a possible son?

So: "The PottersTheir son, Harry."

They say this, and then: "Mr. Dursley stopped dead.

Fear flooded him."

This doesn't mean he died, it just means he's walking, he hears: -"The Potters

Their son, Harry."

-"Why? Why are they talking about me?"

So he stopped like he was dead.


"Fear flooded him."

So fear filled him.


Now: "Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot."

This is after work now, he's going home, and after being hugged by a man in a violet cloak

after work.

So, at lunch he hears these men talking about the Potters, their son Harry.

After work, a man in a cloak comes up to him, gives him a hug.

And Mr. Dursley stood rooted to the spot.

So, "rooted", think of a tree.

All right?

Here's the ground, you have a tree, and this tree has roots under the ground.

So Mr. Dursley stood rooted like his feet had roots in them into the ground.

He couldn't move because he's so uncomfortable by this man in a cloak hugging him.

And then he goes home.

We're on page 11.

And Mr. Dursley asks his wife if she has talked to her sister lately, because he's thinking

about the cat with the map, the men with the cloaks, the mentioning of Harry and the Potters,

and he's at home, he said: "Have you talked to your sister lately?"

And: "Mrs. Dursley"-the wife-"sipped her tea through pursed lips."

So she does not like her sister or hearing about her sister.

She sipped, like I'm going to sip this hot coffee through pursed lips.

So, pursed lips are like this. Like

Okay? So,


Like she doesn't want to say anything.

So she's angry.

Pursed lips.

"While Mrs. Dursley was in the bathroom,"-later in the evening-

"Mr. Dursley crept to the bedroom

and peered down into the front garden."

So, "to creep", the verb "creep" means to move very slowly and quietly, secretly almost.

Okay, so he's creeping through his house, and he's peering.

So, "to peer" is to look with intensity, but with a little difficulty, like he's looking,

he's trying to see something, but he's just not sure what he's looking for because it

has been a really messed up, weird day for Mr. Dursley.

Now it's nighttime, the Dursleys have gone to sleep.

Everyone on Privet Drive is in their beds, and on the corner of the street there is a

man, Albus Dumbledore.

This Dumbledore right here.

The man I spoke to at the start of this video, apparently, so he says.

He's got magic, so I guess it was really him.

All right, so: "Nothing like this man", like Albus Dumbledore

"Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive."

So here you have the past perfect.

So remember this book is written in the past simple, which means if something happened

before, you know, the present of the book which is written in the past, it must be spoken

in the past perfect.

So: "Nothing like this man had ever been seen on Privet Drive."

No one had ever seen a man like Albus Dumbledore.

Page 13.

We have Dumbledore, he's walking to, you know, around the Dursley's house.

He sees a cat, and he says to the cat: "Fancy seeing you here, Professor McGonagall."

And the cat is actually Professor McGonagall who is another person from, later we learn

Hogwarts, the school of magic, that's what it is.


So, if you say: "Huh, fancy that, fancy seeing you here."

This means it's a surprise to see you here.

Wow, it's cool to see you here.


I didn't expect to see you here.

So if you see something shocking or surprising in daily life, and you say:

"Huh, fancy that", then that means: "Well, isn't that a surprise?"

So this is more of British English than North American English, which is why it's in this book.

Now, Dumbledore says this, and then Professor McGonagall is talking about today and everyone

talking about the Potters, everyone talking about their son Harry, and everyone talking

about you know who.

Now, "you know who" whose name is Voldemort, is an evil dark lord.

So McGonagall says about today with people talking about him:

"People are being downright careless out on the streets in broad daylight."

So she is talking about the community of wizards, magicians, witches, and it seems like they're

celebrating something, and she's saying: "They are not being careful enough."

So, "downlight careless" means absolutely careless without any care, without being careful.

They're so excited about something today in the magician community.

And then Dumbledore mentions Voldemort.

Professor McGonagall refers to Voldemort as "you know who",

and Dumbledore says: "Use his name. His name is Voldemort",

and Professor McGonagall flinched at the mention of Voldemort.

So when you flinch you kind of, like, put your body back, close your eyes like this, like

Okay? So, if Voldemort is a name that's scary, that is not supposed to be said and Dumbledore says:

"Voldemort" and she says

Not says, but goes

She flinches.


If someone comes up to you, for example, I'm coming up to the camera and I go

Did you flinch?

Because you thought I was going to like hit you or something.

Maybe we have 3D laptops now and my fist is coming through the screen.

I don't know.

I erased this with my back, that's okay.

Page 16.

Now, we're not finished yet with all the activity on Privet Drive.

"A small rumbling sound had broken the silence around them."

Rumbling, something that vibrates a little bit had broken the silence around them, so

it's quiet and in the background they hear: "[Rumbling noise]".

"Dumbledore and Professor McGonagall bent forward over the bundle of blankets."

So, before this, the rumbling sound is actually Hagrid.

Now, Hagrid comes on a motorcycle and he has a baby in his hand.

It's Harry Potter.

And when he shows the baby to Dumbledore and McGonagall they bent forward over

the bundle of blankets.

"Bent" is the past of "bend", so they bent forward.

Right? To bend forward over the bundle of blankets.

So if a baby is wrapped in a lot of blankets, we call this a bundle.

Okay? A bundle of blankets.

Now we're nearing near

Now we're nearing near?

We're nearing the end of chapter one.

Now, Dumbledore asks for Hagrid to give Harry to him.

He says: "Well, give him here, Hagrid - we'd better get this over with."

So, this is a complete expression: "to get something over with".

If I say: "Let's get this over with", it means: "Let's finish this, let's end it",

even though sometimes it's unpleasant.

So you want to do something that you don't want to do, but you have to do it, so you

say: "Let's get it over with."

Right? Let's finish it. Let's justLet's do it. Okay?

So, Dumbledore takes Harry, and then Hagrid says goodbye to Harry, and then:

"Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket",

so "wiping", wipe, wipe, wipe.

"Wiping his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve, Hagrid swung himself on to the motorbike and

kicked the engine into life."

So, "streaming".

He was crying because there was this little baby, he's giving him away, and he's wiping

his streaming eyes on his jacket sleeve.

This is a sleeve on a jacket.

He's wiping his eyes on the sleeve, and he swung himself

"To swing", okay?

A baseball bat, you can swing a baseball bat.

Hagrid swung himself on to his motorbike, and he kicked the engine into life and he

flew away because it's a flying motorcycle.

Pretty cool.

Finally, page 18 of chapter one.

Dumbledore and McGonagall, they have been saying and talking about Harry a lot.

So apparently last night Lord Voldemort killed Harry's parents.

Killed Harry's parents.


However, he was not able to kill Harry.

And somehow for some reason Lord Voldemort, this evil dark lord disappeared after not

being able to kill Harry.

So, they leave him at the Dursleys house.

Harry is now going to stay with the only family he has left, the awful Mr. Dursley, the awful

Mrs. Dursley, the awful Dudley Dursley because he has no parents anymore, and this is his

only family.

So Dumbledore writes a letter, puts it in the basket with Harry, they leave him on the door,

and Dumbledore says: "Good luck, Harry."

"'Good luck, Harry,' he murmured."

To murmur is to speak softly because it's nighttime.

Kind of like

Not a whisper.

A whisper is like this.

A murmur is like this.


So: "Good luck, Harry. Good luck."

And finally, Harry:

"He couldn't know that at this very moment people meeting in secret

all over the country were holding up their glasses and saying in hushed"

-shh, quiet, hushed-"voices:

'To Harry Potter - the boy who lived.'"

So, what is happening here is that everyone is celebrating, magicians and wizards all

over England are celebrating because Lord Voldemort is gone.

He's dead, and it's because of Harry Potter and Harry Potter is now going to stay with

his family, with his aunt and his uncle who are not very nice people.

From here the story only gets more exciting and more interesting.

All right, so this was a very long lesson.

If you're still here with me, thank you, and I hope that you enjoyed it.

If you did enjoy it, don't forget to like the video, comment on it, subscribe to the

channel, and check me out on Facebook and Twitter.

Now, like I mentioned at the start of this video: If you want to have a really interactive

experience with Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone or any of the Harry Potter books, I

really recommend that you check out the link to audible.com attached to this video

for the free audio book.

Now, again, you will have to click probably two or three links after the original link

to get to the end, but after signing up, you do get the free audio book

and that's pretty cool.

So, again, audio books are great ways for you to practice your listening,

to practice your pronunciation, to hear the natural speed of English being spoken fluently.

So I really recommend that you do that.

Till next time, thanks for clicking.