This episode is all about the relationship between language, successful communication, stand-up comedy and learning English! It features an interview with the one-and-only Yacine Belhousse, who is a professional stand-up comedian in his native language and now in English too. A year and a half ago, Yacine hardly spoke any English. Now he regularly performs in English and this year he is doing a 1 hour stand-up comedy show at the Edinburgh fringe festival. How does he do it? How does he deal with the challenges of learning English while also making people laugh in English too? Listen and find out!
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I’m really pleased to present every episode of Luke’s English Podcast, but this one makes me extra pleased. Why? I just think that we come to some particularly useful conclusions during this conversation, especially related to the attitude that you need to learn English effectively. I’m also pleased to present Yacine because he’s got a great attitude towards learning English and because I think he’s really funny.
Conclusions about Learning Language
In summary here are some of the key points about learning English & communication from our conversation:
– To communicate well, you must take responsibility for communicative exchanges.
– Remember when you’re talking to native speakers, you’re just talking to another human. They have no reason to judge you if you’re just trying to communicate to achieve something. In fact, native speakers have the same responsibility for successful communication as you. So don’t feel that you’re totally responsible for any communication breakdown.
– Be confident and don’t worry about making mistakes. If you do make mistakes, you can learn from them and that’s how you improve. If you’re concerned that you can’t be confident – don’t worry. Confidence is something which just happens when you try to do something. If you focus on achieving successful communication, and don’t get upset by failure – confidence will just come naturally. So, don’t worry about confidence. Just focus on trying to achieve things.
– Have an organised approach to learning – mentally store words and phrases you like in the “good things bucket”. Reject bits of communication that didn’t work in the “bad things bucket”. Perhaps revisit the “bad things bucket” to learn from the errors, but enjoy the contents of your “good things bucket” too!
– Repeat words and phrases that you’ve learned. Repeat them lots of times in order to remember them.
– Learn by doing things. Learn to speak by speaking, failing, succeeding and moving on. You have to be active. Use your English. If you don’t use it, you lose it. You’ve got to be in it to win it!
– Be positive!
Listen to the conversation to find out more.
Would you like to play Yacine’s computer game? Click here to visit the game on his website.
Will you be in Edinburgh during the Fringe? You should check out Yacine’s show. Click here for information on Yacine’s Edinburgh show.
Transcript to #182. Learning English with Yacine Belhousse
The introduction to this episode is transcribed below. If you would like to write some more minutes of transcript, click here to visit the google document for this episode.
Here is my introduction to this episode of the podcast.
“Normally I have native speakers on this podcast; British people, Americans, Australians and stuff like that. And yet, most of the people who listen to this are non-natives learning the language. I rarely have learners of English giving their voice, which is a pity because everyone has a story to tell and interesting things to share. …
So, in today’s episode I am speaking to a friend of mine called Yacine. He’s not a native speaker. In fact, until quite recently he didn’t speak English at all. By his own admission, his English is not perfect. Sometimes he can’t find the right words, he has some trouble choosing the correct verb forms or pronouncing words naturally. These are all the normal problems faced by people learning English. However, I believe Yacine is quite special and that’s why I’ve brought him onto the podcast, despite not being a native or near-native speaker of English.
But why Luke? Why are you featuring a learner of English in one of your interviews? Well, there are lots of reasons:
– I think Yacine has a really good attitude towards learning, and I want to explore that so we can pick up some good things about language learning.
– Yacine is a professional stand-up comedian in his native language but he is also now performing shows in English. In fact, this year he is doing a regular one hour show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is perhaps the biggest comedy festival in the world, and he regularly performs comedy with the great & legendary Eddie Izzard, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest stand-ups of his generation. Eddie Izzard is not just an inspiration to stand up comedians, he is also an inspiration to language learners all over the world, and we’ll find out more about that later. Yacine is very influenced by Eddie Izzard, and he often supports Eddie when he does shows in France.
Learning a language is a challenging thing for anyone. You know when you speak you feel shy and embarrassed sometimes because you don’t want to be judged (just like me when I go to the boulangerie). These are normal fears. But, can you imagine going on-stage in front of lots of people, Scottish, English, perhaps a bit drunk because the show is on at 9.30PM, and delivering a full one hour stand-up performance in a language you’re trying to learn?
– It must be very challenging.
– You’d need a lot of self-confidence and self-belief.
– You need to focus very carefully on how to communicate your message.
– You need to be able to deal with any possible breakdown of communication.
– You need to stop worrying about errors, and if you make errors learn from them but don’t let them make you lose confidence.
I want to know how Yacine faces these challenges, but also, for me these are the challenges faced by any learner of English, but they are multiplied by the fact that Yacine is also doing this on-stage while having to make people laugh. It’s impressive and I want to know more.
So, this is what I want to investigate in this episode:
– How he’s learning English.
– Doing comedy in French vs English.
– French audiences vs UK audiences – are they different?
– Is humour universal?
– How is good communication an essential part of comedy? How do you make a successful joke? It’s about successfully communicating an idea.
Footnote: Yacine has only been learning for a few years. He hasn’t attended any courses or lessons. He’s self-taught. My professional opinion is that he’s doing really well. His English is better than it was a year ago, and his English is certainly much better than my French!
Yacine might make errors during the episode, and that’s fine. I’ll help him or even give him corrections (“yes please” – he says). This episode is not a judgement of his English, and it’s not his comedy performance either – that happens in Edinburgh. What this is, is an investigation into his English learning experiences and the relationship between language, communication, comedy and language learning!
Thanks for listening, and have a good day/evening/night!