Learn English from the News: A Rescue at Sea

Hi students! This is Shayna, your teacher from EspressoEnglish.net, and this month I’ll be teaching you English vocabulary from the news.

Today’s article is about two women and their dogs who were recently rescued after their boat broke down in the middle of the ocean. If you’re interested in reading the original article, you can click here.

The women spent five months on their boat in the middle of the ocean, and the article calls it a five-month ordeal. This word, ordeal, means a difficult or painful experience, especially one that lasts a long time or that is just a very big challenge. Surviving on a boat without any help is definitely an ordeal.

The women and dogs were rescued by the U.S. Navy. The word “navy” refers to a specific department of the military – it’s the part of the military that works on the ocean, with ships and submarines.

How did the women get into this situation? Their boat broke down and they were left drifting – if something is drifting, it means it’s carried by currents of air and water (and isn’t really making any movements on its own). We sometimes talk about a person “drifting” through life if the person doesn’t take action/initiative and just kind of goes with the circumstances around them.

While the boat was drifting, it was attacked by a group of sharks – a shark is a very big fish with sharp teeth. But fortunately, the hull of the boat was strong enough to withstand the onslaught.

Let me explain three words in that phrase. The hull of the boat refers to the outside part of the boat’s body.

The verb withstand means to be undamaged and successfully resist an attack, a storm, an accident, etc. So the hull (exterior) of the boat was strong enough to withstand (resist) the onslaught of the sharks.

The word onslaught can refer to a violent attack or a huge quantity arriving. In this case, it was both – there was a group of sharks, and they were violently attacking the boat.

One day, a fishing boat from Taiwan spotted the women’s boat. The verb spot means to see something, often something that is difficult to see/find. It’s hard to see a small boat in the middle of the ocean, so it’s a good thing that this other boat spotted their boat. The fishing boat then alerted the U.S.

The women were very relieved when they saw the U.S. Navy ships on the horizon. The horizon is the line between the earth and the sky. If you’re on land, it’s the line between the ground and the sky, and if you’re at sea, it’s the line between the water and the sky.

The women said that their dogs helped keep their spirits up. This expression, “keep their spirits up” means to keep someone in a positive attitude and not let them get sad or depressed. Another way to say this is to “lift someone’s spirits” – for example, maybe after a bad day, seeing a funny movie would lift your spirits and make you happier.

After being rescued, the women contacted their families. The mother of one of the women said she never gave up hope that her resourceful daughter would be found. This word, resourceful, describes a person who can find creative solutions in difficult situations, using whatever resources they have at the moment. That’s what it means to be resourceful.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this English lesson based on the news!

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