422. Learning British Dialects with Korean Billy

Talking to Billy from Korea about his videos about regional British dialects and accents.

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Today on the podcast I’m very glad to be talking to the one and only Korean Billy.

You might already know about Korean Billy because he has recently made a name for himself on YouTube by producing videos about British English dialects showing and explaining specific words, phrases and accents you might hear in different parts of the UK, and they’re proving to be very popular, especially with people in Britain. I think the appeal of his videos is that although Billy is from another country, he’s really managed to identify a lot of the specific dialect words and pronunciation of these forms of British English that even some Brits aren’t that familiar with. Also, he just seems like a really nice guy who is not only enthusiastic about understanding different local dialects of British English but also helping other people to understand them too.

Billy used to live as a student in England. In fact he studied at university in Preston in the north of England for a few months where he met people from many parts of the country and then he started making YouTube videos about British dialects last year.

In the last few months his videos have gone viral, particularly in Britain, and he’s been featured on websites like BuzzFeed as well as on various radio and television programmes in England including several BBC programmes. He’s most famous in the UK for his videos on Scouse, Geordie, Mancunian and “Roadman” dialects. The Scouse dialect is from Liverpool, the Geordie dialect is from Newcastle, the Mancunian dialect is from Manchester and “Roadman” is a kind of dialect associated with groups of young people in London. Since recording this conversation Billy has uploaded videos about Hull dialect words and Birmingham dialect words. He’s also got some videos which feature some good clear advice for other people learning English as a foreign language, based on his own learning experiences.

I’m interviewing him on the podcast because I think he’s a really clever guy who has learned English to a good standard and he knows a lot about British accents and dialects. I want to know more about how he has done that, and I just love regional accents so I think it could just be a lot of fun to talk to Billy about this whole subject.

Let’s now talk to Korean Billy.

* * *

If you want to hear Billy doing those British regional dialects and learn about them yourself, then check out Billy’s YouTube videos. Click here for Billy’s YouTube channel

What do you think?

As a Brit, I’m interested in Billy’s work, but I wonder what you think, because you’re approaching this subject from a different point of view, as foreigners who don’t have English as a first language (most of you) and who might not be so familiar with these specific versions of British English.

How do you feel about this? What I hope is that you feel inspired by Billy,  and you feel like he’s a good example of an English language learner, and that he shows that if you’re enthusiastic and outgoing about learning English and if you apply yourself to your learning that you can make heaps of progress. I also hope that although you might not want to speak with a Scouse accent or a Geordie accent, that you’re still curious about these different varieties of British English. I think that knowing the different versions of the language helps you to develop a fully rounded and solid English, and that involves not only listening to different accents but also trying to copy those accents. It’s all good for raising your awareness of features of pronunciation and improving the range of your English in general.

Korean Billy on YouTube

Click here for Billy’s YouTube channel

Korean Billy on the BBC

Jimmy Carr explains how to do some British accents, including Scouse “I want some chicken and a can of coke” (Billy mentioned this in our converstion)

Also mentioned

Misfits (TV show) – Features lots of different UK accents and some *explicit content*

Attack the Block (Film) – South London youth dialect

What have you been thinking while listening to this episode?

Whoever you are, wherever you are – let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

Thanks to Korean Billy for taking part in this episode.


POST-RAMBLE

Some more thoughts, from me to you, at the end of this episode…

I just want to mention a few other things that might make you think a little bit.

LEPster Get-Togethers

I recently got this message from Nick Wooster, one of the guys who has been organising Get Togethers with other LEPsters in Moscow. This is basically his report about the get togethers.

Thanks for your inter­est in our meetings, Luke! It’s reall­y i­mportant and plea­sant­ for us! Almost like a­ virtual participatio­n :) Actually, on ­ave­rage 10 people “ge­t ­together” in our meetings! And it­’s ­nice to know that ­th­e­re are already so­m­e regular L­EPsters who come almost ever­­y time! BTW, are the­r­e really 50/50 male­s a­nd females among ­your ­listeners?! Acc­ording­ to our modest­ stats ­we have 80 ma­les to 20­% females h­ere in Mosc­ow:) Prob­ably the fa­ct that y­ou are alrea­dy marri­ed somehow in­fluence­s, doesn’t it?­

Activities. At the ve­­­ry beginning newcom­e­r­s tell the rest of the group a­bo­ut­ themselves and­ ho­w they happened to start­ list­ening to ­you:)­ After­ that­ we shif­t to th­e main­ topic­ mention­ed in t­he a­genda – e­ach one sha­res his/her op­inion ­and the others ­ask s­everal questions­ or ­give comments if­ the­y have some. Usually ­t­he discussion is qu­it­e lively and not a­ me­ss. I mean, we do ­with­out loud interru­ption­ or arguing, wh­ile th­e talk is quit­e inte­ractive itself­, which­ is surprisin­gly good­ for people ­from dive­rse backgro­unds who h­ardly know­ each other­! We also­ share our o­wn life ­stor­ies conn­ected w­ith th­e topic­s. Nex­t time w­e are ­going­ to pla­y a lyin­g ga­me (to guess if s­mb.­’s story is true or f­alse) at ­the very be­­ginning – it should ­b­e fun and also a go­­od chance to work on­ ­our speaking skills­. Also, Luke, if you ­have some ideas, piec­es of advice, maybe j­ust interesting and e­ffective games or wha­tever we would be gra­teful to you for shar­ing best practices:) ­with us!

We also publish on­ F­­B and VK the lin­k­s­ to useful resource­­­s discussed at the ge­­­t-togethers.

Most of the participa­­nts have known about­ ­these meetings due ­to­ your announcement­ of­ the first one. T­hat’­s why we were th­inkin­g if we could a­sk you­ to announce t­hat our­ Get-Together­s are al­ready regula­r! Curren­tly we meet­ every Sun­day at 6 p­m. The best­ way to b­e informed o­f agenda­, place and t­ime is ­to join our gr­oups o­n FB  m.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425?ref=bookmarks an­d VK ­http://www.vk.com/clubnu1

Previously a­s far as I remember w­e and you posted link­s for a particular ev­ent, if LEPsters join­ the group, they will­ be always aware of a­ll the events. Everyb­ody is welcome!

All in all, current M­oscow LE­­Psters are ­really gl­ad that we ­have s­uch a club now­ and can sh­are their­ thoughts on topics y­ou have raised­ in yo­ur episodes and gener­ally just s­peak Engl­ish with lik­e-minded­ people! Than­k you, ­­Luke, for suc­h an o­pp­ortunity;)

Nick.

P.S. Regards from my ­frien­d Dmitry who al­so contacted you!

Hello Nick, hello Dmitry and hello to all the other listeners who have got together recently in a conversation club. It’s odd, normally I imagine my listeners as individuals on their own, but I suppose there are some people out there who listen as a shared experience with other people, not necessarily at the same time, but there are other people you know who also listen – so I just want to say a special hello to listeners who listen with other people – like, if you listen with a brother or sister “Hello”, if you listen with your husband, wife, boyfriend of girlfriend “hello”, if you listen with your kids or parents, “hello” and if you listen with your teacher or some classmates or something, then “hello” to you too. If you listen with a pet animal or even a wild animal “hello”, and if you listen with friends or indeed any other living beings, then “hello” to you – the communal LEPsters out there.

My thoughts on LEP Get Togethers

I want to encourage this sort of thing in general. Meeting publicly, or meeting online. Let’s be clear about it – what you’re doing is creating your own peer group for improving your English, and that’s a really important part of your English learning.

The more I speak to people who have learned English to a proficient level, the more I notice that one of the habits or features of their learning was the fact that they spent regular time with a group of friends who talked in English. For example, there’s Kristina from Russia – a good example, but also Korean Billy and plenty of other people. Another thing worth noticing about this is that you don’t necessarily have to be hanging around with native speakers. Just spending meaningful and enjoyable time in the company of others and doing it in English, building friendly relationships and all that – it’s all very good for your English, even if you’re not mixing with native speakers. If you’re getting exposure to English in your life, having a peer group to interact with is going to allow you to develop your communication skills as a natural social process. So I fully agree with the idea of these get togethers and I think it’s great!

Also, the more my listeners get together in local communities like this, the easier it might be for me to come and visit at some point and put on a show or have a live podcast recording or something. So, carry on everyone, you’re doing it right!

Several Get Togethers have also happened between LEPsters in Tokyo and in London if I remember correctly. So it’s not just the Moscow LEPsters. And you could do it too in your town. Just set up an FB page and let me know, I’ll give you some publicity if I can.

What to talk about or do?
Playing a game or having a topic – good ideas, definitely. I recommend using all your creativity, playing the lying game for fun or any other parlour games like the name game for example. Also, consider playing different board games in English too. As long as you’re having a relaxing and pleasant time and you’re exchanging information in English, it’s good.

One idea is simply to agree on your topic beforehand and simply write down a load of discussion questions relating to that topic. Then you can fall back on those questions if you need to. You can just let the conversation go wherever it feels like going, but go back to the questions if you want.

Be interested in what the others are saying. Really interesting people are interested in others. It’s important to create an atmosphere in which people listen to each other – this is really important because it makes people feel valued, and when you really listen to what people are trying to say and you show your interest in those people, it’s like giving water to a plant – it just helps it grow. Imagine you’re in a social situation. If you feel like people are interested and listening, you’ll feel far more comfortable and ready to talk. So, listen to each other and remember that everyone’s got a story to tell, you just need to be ready to notice it. So, your get-togethers are not just speaking sessions, they’re listening sessions too.

It might be worth assigning a leader to each session who is generally in charge of things, but also each participant should take the initiative to ask questions and start conversations and things, but of course it shouldn’t feel like a role or a job, just let it happen naturally.
Just have fun and keep me informed about how it’s all going!

I encourage other people to set up their own conversation groups. I’m calling them “Get-Togethers” – what do you think of that? Do you think the name works? You could call them Meetups, or Gatherings or Meetings or whatever you like really.

I just want to remind you that this sort of thing used to happen every week online on Skype in the ChatCast which was setup by Guillaume from Switzerland. It was basically a Skype group that recorded their group conversations and also published it as a podcast. I appeared on it a few times. They picked a different topic each week and just discussed it in a friendly and open way. The ChatCast is having a break at the moment but you can hear some of the episodes in the ChatCast archive at chatcast.ch/

There was also an LEP Whatsapp group and an LEP Skype group that used to share contact details in my website forum. I have closed the forum now because I streamlined my website recently, but I don’t know if the WhatsApp group and Skype groups are still running. So, if you are still chatting to other LEPsters as part of a conversation group on Whatsapp or Skype, please let me know because I can find a way for you to continue to share your contact details with each other on my website. I still have an archive of the Forum posts about the skype and whatsapp groups by the way.

There are lots of LEP related projects going on and I think it’s cool.

The comment section, with lots of friendly chatting about episodes, the topics of episodes and other tangents.

The LEP Get Togethers.

The Transcript Collaboration – run by The Orion Team – an awesome band of podcast listeners who work together to transcribe episodes of this podcast and proofread each others’ work.

Podcasts done by listeners to this podcast (although I can’t claim credit for all of them of course) but still, it’s great that they’re doing it. Notable ones of the moment are Zdenek’s English Podcast and Daniel Goodson’s My Fluent Podcast. There was also Chriss’ English Podcast and Guillaume’s Engilsh Podcast as well as the Chatcast and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone else.

Podcasting is brilliant anyway and of course I recommend that you try it, experiment with it and have fun. And of course Korean Billy could be an inspiration to you. You could consider sharing your learning experiences on your own YouTube channel. You might catch people’s attention, and who knows what cool things could happen to you. At the very least you’ll practise your English a lot.

All right, thanks for listening. This podcasting thing is pretty amazing isn’t it? Yes it is. OK good, I’m glad you agree. I’ll speak to you soon. Bye!

  • Cristina Ricciardo

    Amazing boy! So is it so important to imitate native English? It’s not so easy to me, as I started learning English after 24, but I’ll try. I’m aware that strong Italian accent is not good as well, however, I recently listened to a compatriot speaking kind of a strong Estuary English and he sounded a bit inauthentic, to be honest.

  • Orion team

    Hi LEpsters,

    The episode 422 is ready for people wanting to test their real English knowledge and help Luke to do this podcast better and useful.

    docs.google.com/document/d/1e73-HiVSylBUi6CBnwojOrP8H0zi6oE00O_3Rfm9IsU/edit?usp=sharing

  • Sergio

    Hello,
    I was quite impressed by Billy’s ability in producing english language… very good pronaunciation even though he haven’t been living in England for more than 6 months actually.
    I’m very passioned about english language, culture, tradition and I was wondering if someone can suggest me a book to read about these topic. a more indepth lecture about England and his beauties. Thank you

  • Catherine

    For Eri and Hiro — for practising R sound :))

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrfNsf3AUX8

    • Catherine

      Girls, the Alphablocks have short vids for every phoneme. So you can practise with it, if you want. I hope you don’t find it too childish or so. :))
      There is also this lovely L letter there, always singing some beautiful lullabies. :)
      Enjoy!

      • Hiro

        Thanks Cat, it’s fantastic! That’s very kind of you.
        5 blocks singing A E I O U…must be Japanese. :)
        I’m going to watch L later. Thanks.

      • Catherine

        Yes, each letter has his own temperament. :))
        The L-girl looks Japanese too, with her beautiful almond-shaped eyes. :))

      • Eri Taguchi

        Thank you, Cat, very much!!
        I loved it so much and I want to watch videos for all letters!!!!
        So lovely and I like the letter “R” who always sounds like some American with a trill and “D” who is always druming.
        Now, “L” is singing for me that it is a bed time which is exactly true(^^ゞ

      • Catherine

        Is really good, is it not? :)
        I enjoy them too. We used to play games with BBC CBeebies on their website. But one day they changed something and we couldn’t play any longer (putting words together to train the spelling).

      • Eri Taguchi

        Wow, is is??
        Could you find out why you can’t play games on the BBC web site??
        If it is all right, I would love to visit there to play nice game.
        And I just check the web site.

  • Eri Taguchi

    This is great episode and I do feel who made those videos is not native English or some one from UK is amazing.
    I speak Kansai diarects and I love it. I prefer speak Japanese with diarects, not standard Japanese which you may hear from NHK(national TV in Japan)
    I also feel diarects have benn milder with younger generations and some has died.
    I spent a time with my grand parents who speak strong Sasamama diarect, but although I spend times with them when I was younger, my diarect is not so strong and I kind of get used to the current diarect.
    When we think about culture, diarects are one of the most important things!!
    So I do not want diarects to die.
    That is very interesting thing that the Japanese which is spoken up north (eg. Aomori, Akita or some other Tohoku area) or down south (eg. Okinawa, Kagoshima or another Kyusyu area) I just do not feel that they are talking in Japanese…

    • Catherine

      Eri, do you know the song Soran Bushi? It’s the only song I used to sing in my old international choir. Is that song also in a dialect? I guess so, because it is a fishermen song. It must be in some kind of a dialect… :)

      • Eri Taguchi

        Yes, Soran Bushi is one of the most famous Japanese folk songs.

        I surprized that you sang it in a choir group.
        The song is from far north part of Japan which is close to Sakhalin.

        We have variety of diarects which is same as UK. If you travel a bit, diarects or accent might be changed.

        In this video which is an ad from a company about IPS, 47 girls from every prefectures in Japan say exaclty same phrase. I am Japanese, but I still can not understand some of them….

        www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYZZdpu8pPk&index=2&list=PLqVoWbC684PIKHHJR-h4RPMK25iSeefMC

      • Catherine

        Thanks for the facts. My singing was in one of my previous lifes. :)

      • Nick

        I have an impression that some of them say really different phrase…

      • Eri Taguchi

        Nick, you mean different phrase but sounds same???

      • Nick

        You say that they all say the same phrase and I believe you, but apparently their pronunciation so different that to my ear it seems like they say different phrases.

      • Eri Taguchi

        OK.
        I am sorry. I might be wrong.
        It’s meaning is exactly same and some words are slightly different. And although they say same words, it sounds quite different and that is Japanese diarects.

      • Nick

        By the way what’s the phrase?

      • Eri Taguchi

        The IPS company made that ad and it says about their wi-fi connection at home.
        Just like…
        “Ouchi wi-fi(which is the name of their wi-fi connection service at home) is extremely early. Because it is very comfortable, you should use it”

      • Nick

        Okay, thanks for the explanation :)

      • Eri Taguchi

        (*^▽^*)

    • Hiro

      Hi Eri,
      I’m from Kansai and love Kansai accent, too!
      I usually speak with Kansai accent even when I talk with people from other regions.
      That’s my small effort to keep the accent alive in this modern period when a lot of beautiful dialects have been gradually dying.

      • Eri Taguchi

        Great to konw that you are also lives in Kansai!!!
        I always speak with Kansai diarect and I sort of can not manage to use Tokyo diarects or standard Japanese from NHK(I would say…)
        I used to live in Hiroshima when I was a university student, but my Kansai diarect did not die.
        And it is very sad that some strong diarects are dying. Also, altohght I use to live with my grand parents, I can not speak as same as them who have been using strong one.

      • Hiro

        Yes, I prefer using Kansai dialect except for very formal occasions. And generally speaking, we Kansai people are proud of our dialect, aren’t we?
        I like the way Hiroshima people speak. It sounds very warm.
        Each dialect has its own peculiar rhythm, intonation, tone of voice, etc. One of my clients is from Kyoto, and whenever I try to imitate her, I find out Kyoto accent is really difficult for outsiders.

  • Jack

    This is propah. I hope some day King does 10-15 episodes speaking in a semi-cockney accent.

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=wSodvRnD3Qc