Learn English – Do you have a Bucket List?

A bucket list is simply a way to keep track of your life’s wishes and pleasurable goals.  What kind of wishes? Those activities or experiences or skills you would like to do or have before you die. Experiences that you think would be satisfying.


Hey there! Do you know what a Bucket List is?  Do you have one? Let’s talk!

(Intro: English without Fear where you can learn to speak English naturally, through listening to stories.)

What is a bucket list? What does that mean? There’s an expression in English, which goes like this: “to kick the bucket”. And that means ‘to die’. It comes from the times when people used to be hanged for crimes – a criminal.

They would make a criminal that they were going to execute or kill, stand up on a bucket. They would put a noose around his neck and then they would kick the bucket out from underneath his feet. He would drop down and the rope under his….. around his neck would break his neck. That’s where the expression to kick the bucket – it meant somebody was going to die. So, when we say, “Oh, Grandpa Bob kicked the bucket!” that means he died.

A bucket list is a series of activities or experiences that you would like to do before you die. They’re not things you should do or must do. There are things that are satisfying, that are fun. 

Who came up with this phrase ‘bucket list’? Who coined the phrase, who originated the phrase? There’s a man, an American, named Justin Zachman (really it’s Zackham). And he had written a list, he had made a list, with a title Justin’s list of things I want to do before I kick the bucket. And later he just shortened it to Justin’s Bucket List. The number one thing on his bucket list was to write the script or write the screenplay for a movie and have the movie made. 

Well, soon he got the idea. “Maybe I should write a screenplay, write a script of a movie about some people who are fulfilling everything on their bucket list.”

And that’s what he did. He made.. he wrote the screenplay. A studio produced and made the movie, and it became a hit. It’s about two old friends, I don’t know how the old they are…. seventies, eighties. And they decide to team up, to come together, and go and do all these activities together on their bucket lists.

So, that’s how it became popular within the last 15 years –  ‘Bucket List’.

What kinds of things do people put on their bucket lists? Often travel is a big topic, a big theme. So, somebody might say: ‘I want to visit the Taj Mahal in India before I die’. Or: ‘I’d like to go on a Safari in Africa’. 

Another theme of activities are athletic accomplishments, like: ‘I want to hike a certain mountain’. ‘I want to run a marathon!’ (I don’t! but people put that down). So, athletic accomplishments. ‘I want to skydive’ –  things like that.

Then there are skills. For instance, somebody might say: ‘I’d like to learn to play the piano’ or: ‘I’d like to cook’ or:  ‘I’d like to learn another language’, something like that.

I think a final category of bucket list possibilities might be lifestyle. Somebody might choose one such as: “I want to pay off all my debt”, or:  ‘I want to downsize – I want to move from a big house to one of those little ‘tiny houses’ and get rid of a lot of stuff.’ Or a family might say: ‘We want to save up our money and take a year off’ –  where the parents quit their jobs and they take their kids with them and they travel around the world and homeschool their kids. That would be a BIG bucket list idea.

Well, what about me? You know, I like the idea, but it was hard for me to come up with something that I really want to do before I die. The first thing that comes to mind is I really want to be fluent in Spanish. I know what it feels like to be fluent. I’m fluent in French. It feels great, but it takes a lot of time. If I had to mention one other, it would probably be, I’d like to live again in another country, a country where they speak a different language. I’d like to do that. 

But I don’t have too many things on a bucket list because as a Christian, I don’t believe life ends when we die. In fact, a better life is waiting for us. According to the Bible, according to what Jesus taught, when Christians die, they get a resurrected body that’s much better and they go to live with God forever on a newly re-created earth.

So, I’m looking forward to lots more adventures that won’t end. Well, what about you? Do you have a bucket list? And if so, or if not, what…what would go on a bucket list? What would you like to do? What would you like to accomplish before you die?

Leave me one or two ideas that you have thought about or are thinking about now, right below this video. And remember if you would like the transcript, the written words, just go to my website, www.englishwithoutfear.com And there you’ll see transcripts to most of these videos. And if you have a question, you can leave a comment there too. Well, that’s it for this episode, I’m Maria from English without Fear. Talk to you next time. 

(Outro: Thanks for watching. For questions or comments, here’s my email.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *