Category Archives: Idioms

433. British TV: Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (Part 2) [Video]

Learn more authentic English directly from the mouths of these native speakers in an episode of the popular British TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” with famous chef Gordon Ramsay. Videos and vocabulary lists available below. 

**This episode includes swearing and some rude content** 

Audio


[DOWNLOAD]

Video

Video clips and vocabulary lists

Video 2 – The orange sauce looks like “sci-fi sperm”

Vocabulary

Let’s watch the family in action
Is there any chance you could talk to her
If you open up and ask…
You don’t remember after 5 minutes
Like fuck do I!
You try to make me look small
It’s like a one man band in there
It’s totally upside down
A backlog of orders
Mick starts to crumble
I don’t want no (*any) more food sent down
He can’t handle it
I’ll get my head bitten off / to bite someone’s head off
I’d rather you didn’t take it out on me

Video 3 – The family at war

Vocabulary

Michelle’s impressive
She’s left to face the fallout of Mick’s incompetence
The meals are now being sent back
He can’t handle it / can’t cope / can’t take it / can’t deal with it
I’ll go and sort it out
My husband’s big fucking dream is a complete farce
I’m not having a heart attack over this
My heart’s booming
He speaks to me like shit
I try and take all the knocks
Even I have a breaking point

Video 4 – Catching up with the Martin family at the end

The entire episode (with Korean subtitles)

410. Teaching 12 Idioms in the Street / On the Set of Paul’s TV Show (with Amber)

Amber & I teach you 12 idiomatic English phrases while attending the filming of an episode of Paul’s TV show on the street in Paris. See below for videos and photos, and a list of the idioms with definitions.

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Introduction

In the last couple of episodes do you remember what happened? Do you remember what our plans were? Yes, Amber & I talked about Christmas and all that. But also, you might remember that we were planning to go and visit Paul on the set of his TV show and record a podcast while we were doing it, and that’s what we did last Thursday afternoon. We went to the 7th Arrondissement – a rather posh district on the left bank of the river Seine. We saw the film crew, a few scenes being filmed and Amber & I even appeared in one of those scenes as extras in the background. When the video is released you’ll be able to see us, briefly! It will be the one about French cinema, when that is released. By the way Paul’s TV show is broadcast on Saturday evenings on French TV station Canal+ and then released onto YouTube the following week. His YouTube channel is called “What the Fuck, France?”

Unfortunately they weren’t filming in the English pub as expected because they did that in the morning – so no beer or crisps or warmth or beer. Instead we joined them while they were filming in the street outside a little church. So, a street, a church and no warmth or beer.

Despite the harsh conditions and lack of beer I brought my recording equipment and we did a podcast while standing around with the film crew there, and all the local Parisian people in the street going about their lives, walking past us and even talking to us at certain moments.

You’re going to hear descriptions of what was happening during the recording, and some general chat with Amber. There were also a couple of moments where Paul stopped shooting and came over to join us, with a few other people too in some cases, including Robert Hoehn who you might remember from the “Have you ever…?” episode recently.

As well as the conversation and descriptions, there’s some English teaching in this episode because while standing there on the street I realised I had 12 idioms in my pocket, written on little bits of paper. Of course I did because as an English teacher that’s the kind of thing I have in my pocket – a bunch of idioms in pieces of paper. It pays to always be prepared as an English teacher! I sometimes have teaching materials in my pocket or up my sleeve! I actually had the idioms on me for another podcast episode that I’d planned ages ago but didn’t do – but the idioms came in handy this time and provided us with some teaching content for you.

All of the idioms you’re going to hear were taken from the Oxford Idioms Dictionary and I chose them quite carefully because I think they’re all expressions which are commonly used today.

You can find the list of those idioms on the page for this episode. I wonder if you know them all. You might know some, but do you know them all, and do you use them?

Now, I could list them all for you here in the introduction in advance, and even teach them to you in advance, but I’m not going to do that because I want to encourage you to notice them for yourselves. That’s a good skill to develop if you can. You should always be on the lookout for bits of language which you can identify and eventually make part of your active vocabulary. So, listen carefully to notice the idioms, and then keep listening because in the second part of the lesson Amber & I explain all the idioms for you.

So, that’s what you’re going to get – a podcast recorded in the street in Paris, with all the sound effects of what was happening around us, a couple of guest appearances, and then 12 common English idioms taught by Amber and me!

So, I hope you are feeling comfortable and that you’re cosy and warm – because it was bitterly cold on the streets of Paris when we recorded this! I recommend listening to this one when you are indoors, with the heating turned on and a hot drink nearby, or if you are outside make sure you’re wearing a pair of thick woolen mittens or gloves and a warm hat – unless of course you’re in a hot place like Australia or something, in which case you can just bask in the hot weather and try to avoid being bitten by a snake or spider or something. If you’re in Brazil then go to the beach or something like that and get ready for that big party you’re going to have on Christmas Eve.

Anyway, now let’s go back in time to last Thursday afternoon on the very chilly streets of the 7th Arrondissement of Paris with a film crew and rich old Parisian ladies walking around, and let’s begin the episode, and remember – can you spot the 12 idioms, do you know them and can you use them? Here we go.

The 12 Idioms

  1. To cost an arm and a leg = to be expensive (those cameras must have cost an arm and a leg)
  2. As a rule of thumb = as a general rule
  3. To flog a dead horse = to be futile
  4. To get back to the drawing board = to start again
  5. To be over the moon = to be delighted
  6. To hit the nail on the head = to say something which is totally accurate
  7. To drive someone up the wall = to drive someone mad / to make someone very annoyed
  8. To find your feet = to establish yourself
  9. Break a leg! = good luck! (for performers)
  10. Hold your horses! = hold on! Wait! Slow down!
  11. To go the extra mile = make an extra effort
  12. The ball is in your court = it’s your turn to make a decision

Also

  • To get fired / to be let go
  • A housewarming party
  • To see red
  • To have your cake and eat it too

Over to you!
What is your version of the idiom “You can’t have your cake and eat it too”?

Photos & Videos

Introduction

In the street

From left to right: Rob, Amber, Luke, Josephine (costume lady), Paul

From left to right: Rob, Amber, Luke, Josephine (costume lady), Paul

 

with Josephine (costume lady), Vlad (Director of Photography) & Robert Hoehn

The finished episode of WTF France

This is the episode that was being filmed during this episode. Check out the cameo apperances by Rob (2:26), Amber (2:30) & me (2:35).

Outro (with mistakes & no edits!)

Other stuff

Message from a Chinese LEPster about “Pudong” near China

I’d like to just clarify something that was said on the podcast in episode 408 when Paul and I made some silly jokes about the word “Pudong” and we talked about Pudong area near Shanghai in China. Paul brought it up when we were talking about pudding and none of us were too sure about the name Pudong and what it really means. I got a message which clarifies that.

Here’s the message from Sylvia from China. I was a bit worried that she was offended by our crappy jokes (particularly mine), but she assures me that she’s not offended and that she still loves us, so that’s alright. In any case I wanted to read this out because it’s got proper information about Pudong. If you remember, Paul said that he wasn’t sure exactly what the name meant and that one of our listeners could clear it up. Well, here is that clarification.

Dear Luke,

I want to make several things clear here in episode 408, in which Paul talked about Pudong in Shanghai. I live in Shanghai now, and the content of the conversation made me a bit uncomfortable.

1. It’s not ‘Pudong River’, it’s called ‘Huangpu River’.
2. It is ‘Pu’, not ‘Poo’.
3. ‘dong’ in Chinese means ‘east’, Chinese character ‘东’.
4. ‘Pudong’ is an area, which is on the east bank of the Huangpu River.
Pudong is situated on the east coast of the Huangpu River of Shanghai, and sits at the intersection of China’s coastal belt for international trade and the Yangtze River estuary. It is backed up by the Yangtze River Delta urban megalopolis and faces the boundless Pacific.

Pudong New Area (“Pudong” or the “New Area”), in eastern Shanghai, is named because it is located to the east of the Huangpu River.

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-16-10-08

Now Pudong New Area has become the economic, financial, trade and shipping center regionally and internationally. In 20 short years, a dramatic change has taken place in Pudong, changing from farmlands into high buildings and from out-of-the-way villages into a prosperous urban area. Pudong has become the “Pearl of the Orient” with world attention, acclaimed as the “epitome of Shanghai’s modernization” and the “symbol of China’s reform and opening up”.

screen-shot-2016-12-20-at-16-10-16

Cruising on the Huangpu River, you can see many European style buildings on the western bank, because Shanghai used to be a foreign concession before 1949. At that time, Shanghai was known as the ‘paradise of foreign adventures’. Many foreigners, mostly Europeans, came to try their luck here. That’s why you can see buildings of different architectural styles here, Spanish, Greek, Roman and Russian. While on the other bank, skyscrapers in the Pudong New Area rear high into the sky, which were all built by Chinese people after 1990.

Luke, welcome to China, welcome to Shanghai, welcome to Pudong. And I hope when Paul comes to your place again, you can show him this, and let him make it clear.

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Luke
I’m sorry this made you uncomfortable. No offence intended – I was just making a joke, and failing (as usual). I appreciate the information about Shanghai – would you mind if I read out your message on the podcast?

Sylvia
hello Luke
I knew it was a joke, that’s okay. It’s just that Pudong New Area has alway been a prosperous Area in my mind, but from now on everytime i think of it or come to there it will remind me of those jokes you made…Haha…
It would be great if you could read it on the podcast. Because i don’t want Paul to mislead people around the world thinking that China has a ‘poo dong river’. You can say my name, that’s okay.
And I know Amber And Paul didn’t mean any offence.
Always love you!
Sylvia

spoken_full_logo_transparentSPOKEN

Don’t forget to check out Spoken. 2 free lessons and then 20% off! English lessons for Professionals on WhatsApp, sent straight to your phone by an English teacher. www.getspoken.com/lep

374. Alex’s Edinburgh Fringe Report

Hello listeners, this episode features another chat with Alex Love who was on the podcast recently in episodes 366 and 367. I decided I’d get Alex back on the podcast for several reasons. The first reason is because he is now in Edinburgh at the Festival and his show seems to be doing very well. In fact, so far every performance has been completely sold out and he’s making a nice profit. I’m happy to hear that and I thought we could get a little Edinburgh report and actually have a conversation without it being derailed by a poor internet connections and other distractions, and that’s what we’ve managed to do. The second reason I brought him on is to do our own LEP Pub Quiz in which we ask each other questions, and that’s what you’ll hear in part 2.

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I have divided this conversation into two parts again, to make it more manageable for you. In part one we talk about Alex’s show, some details about the culture of pub quizzes in the UK and we go off on several quite instructive tangents about stag and hen parties, male strippers, The Smurfs and the anatomy of giant squid, which are large sea creatures with tentacles. That sounds quite random but it’s not really. It’s actually perfectly logical and it will all become clear as you listen to the conversation, and I think there’s quite a lot to learn about British culture in this episode as you’ll see. There’s also quite a lot of vocabulary to watch out for and I will go through that in a moment.

Then in part 2 you’ll hear Alex and I playing our own pub quiz in which we ask each other various questions in order to test our general knowledge.

I expect that by the time you listen to this episode Alex’s Edinburgh show will probably be over and all his shows seem to be sold out anyway, but what the hell – I’ll mention the details of it anyway. It’s called “How to Win a Pub Quiz” and it takes place at 12 o’clock lunchtime at The Stand in rooms 5 & 6 until 14 August. Details and bookings tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/alex-love-how-to-win-a-pub-quiz

Vocab from Part 1 – Watch out for these words and expressions

I’ve made another list of words and phrases from this episode. This is language that you might not know and which you might want to learn. I’m not defining and explaining this vocabulary here, I’m just encouraging you to notice it, and hopefully making it a bit easier for you to notice it. Being mindful of language while you’re listening to this podcast is important. If you’re switched on and attentive, taking mental note of different features of English as you move through these episodes, you’re in a much better position to retain words and phrases and add them to your own active vocabulary. Also, if you’re into studying while you listen you will find all these phrases written on the page for this episode and you can then look them up in a dictionary – and you can try Oxford, Cambridge, Macmillan or Collins dictionaries online. They’re all freely available, which is nice. Now I’m going to just read out each phrase and you can try to notice them as they come up naturally in our conversation.

old habits die hard – it just goes to show that old habits die hard

the love interest – she plays the love interest in the movie

a hen-do – there was a group of girls on a hen-do sitting on the front row

a stag-do – there was a group of lads on a stag-do in the audience

a mixed bag – how was the show? It was a bit of a mixed bag to be honest

self-deprecating – we make lots of self deprecating jokes

a bit hit and miss – the show was a bit hit and miss

inconsistent – it was quite an inconsistent show

bland – it was a bit bland and boring

I died on my arse” – he absolutely died on his arse on stage at the show last night

to slag someone off – We used to slag off the entire audience in our show

to bad-mouth someone – we bad-mouth the audience at the beginning of the show

it’s frowned upon  – being brutal with a hen-do is frowned upon, you’re not supposed to do it, whereas it’s ok to insult a stag-do

a sash – there was a girl on the front row wearing a sash

the first album I ever bought – “Smurfs Go Pop” was the first album I ever bought

anthropomorphic – Smurfs are quite anthropomorphic

the gestation period – humans have a 9 month gestation period

promiscuous – everyone says she’s quite promiscuous

to beat around the bush – don’t beat around the bush, just say it straight

to cast aspersions – I don’t mean to cast aspersions on Smurfette

to hear something

to hear about something

a squid / a giant squid

tentacles – they have ten tentacles, whereas Octopuses have 8 limbs

10 inches in diameter – their eyes are 10 inches in diameter

a beak = what birds have at the end of their faces – like the mouth of a bird, or a squid

your eyes are too big for your stomach

dismal = terrible

to come in third place – Paul is coming in a dismal 3rd place

So, that’s it for the vocabulary and this introduction, let’s now join the conversation I had with Alex Love yesterday afternoon, watch out for the vocabulary and see what you can learn about hen dos, stag dos, male and female strippers, the Smurfs and giant squid. There’s a bit of swearing – so you have been warned.

*Conversation Starts*

Talking talking talking – no robot invasions! – talking talking talking

*Conversation Ends*

That’s it for part 1. Did you notice all the vocabulary I listed at the beginning?

In part 2 we do a pub quiz in which we ask each other various questions, including some questions about the English language. So, if you want to know what our questions are, and who wins, check out part 2 now!

Thanks for listening.

Join the mailing list.

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Send a donation if you want to say thanks.

Have a good day, night, morning, evening, afternoon, bus journey, train journey, gym session, walk, nap, jog or sleep.

Speak to you in part 2.

Luke

fringe2

345. ELTon Award Nomination / Phrasal Verbs & Idioms / Brooklyn / The Revenant / Museum of Natural History & More

Breaking News! LEP Nominated for a British Council ELTon Award for Digital Innovation.
In this episode you’ll hear me talking about what’s been going on since I recorded the last episode, including: LEP’s nomination in the British Council ELTon awards, Leonardo DiCaprio fighting a bear in The Revenant, my adventure to the American Museum of Natural History and more. Also – for all the vocab hunters out there – watch out for some phrasal verbs and idioms.

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Luke’s English Podcast is nominated for a British Council ELTon Award!

The first thing I’d like to say is that I have some great news for the podcast, and certainly great news for me, and I’d like to share it with you. I’ve been nominated for a British Council ELTon award. This is really fantastic and I feel absolutely delighted. The ELTons are basically the Oscars of the English teaching world. Really, they are. It’s a real honour to be nominated for one. It’s top-level stuff. The ELTons are run by the British Council and by Cambridge English – these are top institutions in the world of English teaching. The ELTons happen every year and they celebrate and reward innovation in English language teaching. I’m nominated in the Digital Innovation category along with 5 other nominees. englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/events/eltons/years-eltons/years-eltons

You might be thinking – can we do anything to help you win? Is there a vote or something? Nope. It’s all decided by a panel of judges and they are taking it very seriously, with judging being done following a very thorough and impartial method. I am aware that at this moment, some industry people might be investigating my podcast. Some of the judges might be listening to this right now in fact! If you are a judge in the ELTons or a bigwig of the TEFL industry – hello! Welcome to my podcast. I hope you like it. I hope you consider it to be a genuine innovation in the world of EFL, in its own way. I’m delighted to be nominated and to receive some recognition from the industry after working on this podcast for over 7 years! Let me introduce you to my audience. TEFL industry people, meet the LEPsters. Industry people – lepsters. LEPsters – industry people. There. You’ve been introduced! Everyone’s very nice and friendly around here so just make yourself comfortable. Pull up a chair. Can I take your coat? Feel free to have a biscuit or a cup of tea, or indeed both if you fancy that. Anyway, just relax and take it easy. This is a no-pressure zone. There are some bean bags over there if you want to get more comfortable. Mi casa su casa. That’s Spanish – I don’t normally do that. It’s pretty much 99% English here. Anyway, I’m rambling… but that’s the idea of this podcast as you will see if you stick around!

OK that was a little nod to the ELTons judges or any other high level industry executives listening to this.

There is a red-carpet award ceremony on 2 June and I’ll be going to that. I don’t think I’ll win – I’m competing with some excellent work by the other nominees and I wonder if my work on a podcast will be recognised – I have no idea. I do think podcasting is an innovation because I think it allows teachers to connect with learners of English in a new way and it allows learners to connect with the English language in a new way. I’ve got a sort of long-running relationship with my listeners that I think is tremendously important in allowing you, my listeners, to really plug yourselves into an authentic source of English. I could go on about that more, but I won’t here in this episode. I’ll just say I’d be surprised and completely bowled over to win because the other nominations are brilliant, but I really hope I do win of course because that would just be incredible and unexpected.

As I said – I’ve basically been working away on this podcast on my own for years and, well, you know the story. But anyway, I’m delighted to be nominated. Please keep your fingers crossed for the podcast. I think the more established it becomes the more I am able to do this podcast regularly, and I have so many plans for other entertaining online services for learners of English which I could work on if I had the chance.

So, back to this new episode of the podcast

I’ve been away from the podcast for about 3 weeks! I’m very happy to be back because there are so many things to talk about. Some of those things are about what I’ve been up to (which are not that important really) and other things are about what’s been going on in the world in general (more important), because it seems to be an intensely busy and dynamic time at the moment with all sorts of big events in politics, sport, entertainment and stuff like that.

5 Phrasal Verbs and 5 Idioms

What about Language? Will there be language teaching in this episode?
Well, mainly in this episode I’m just talking to you directly about some topics and anecdotes. But if you are in the mood to focus only on the language, and you couldn’t really give a monkey’s about what I’m saying (ha ha) then here is a little task.

During the course of the episode I am going to use (at least) 5 phrasal verbs and (at least) 5 idiomatic fixed expressions, at certain points.

I’ve randomly chosen these words and expressions from a couple of dictionaries that I have just lying around. This time I’m using the Cambridge Phrasal Verb dictionary and the Oxford Idioms dictionary. Both very nice dictionaries published by very lovely publishers, (hello industry people).
So your challenge is this: Try to notice the 5 phrasal verbs and the 5 idioms as they come up in this episode.
Got it? I’ve picked out 5 phrasal verbs, and 5 idioms and I’m just going to randomly include them in the episode as I go – that’s going to be difficult for me because I don’t want it to be too obvious and easy – and you just have to notice them.

So, as we move forwards you’ll be looking out for any phrasal verbs that come up, and you’ll be keeping your eyes peeled for idioms. I say keeping your eyes peeled – obviously, you’ll be trying to hear them not see them, but you know what I mean.

Don’t you?

Do you know the expression ‘keep your eyes peeled‘?
Well, that was an idiom. ‘To keep your eyes peeled (for something)’ means to be on the lookout for something – to be ready to see or notice something. It means ‘keep your eyes open’. You can imagine an orange – you know you peel and orange – remove the skin. Similarly you can keep your eyes peeled – keep the eyelids open. I like that one. In this case of course you’re listening not looking, but still… Perhaps the equivalent for your ears would be ‘prick up your ears‘ – like a wild animal in a field that hears something, its ears go up a bit – like a cat or a fox, you can imagine its ears suddenly standing to attention. It’s pricking up its ears. So, prick up your ears. If you’re reading a transcript of this then you can keep your eyes peeled. Look out for idioms and phrasal verbs, or listen out for idioms and phrasal verbs.
And yes, there were a couple of phrasal verbs. “Look out for” and “listen out for” – they’re quite easy ones really because the meaning of the phrase is quite obvious, quite literal. Others might be idiomatic – the meaning might be less obvious.

Phrasal Verbs

They’re very common in English. They’re not slang, but they are often a bit more informal than the longer equivalents. They are used all the time in many situations, and are absolutely essential if you want to learn natural English – British and American. Some of you know all about this because you listen to my other podcast, “A Phrasal Verb a Day” – and if you haven’t heard of that, just go to teacherluke.co.uk/pv to check out my phrasal verb podcast where you can learn a different phrasal verb in each episode – and I teach them to you properly, quickly, without any messing about or rambling.

Click here for my phrasal verb podcast: teacherluke.co.uk/pv

So we’ve already had 2 idioms and 2 phrasal verbs and the episode hasn’t even started yet. “To listen out for something”, “to look out for something”, “to keep your eyes peeled” and to “prick up your ears”.

So, I’ve set up a language challenge for the episode – just try to notice 5 phrasal verbs and 5 idioms. At the end I will tell you the answers – I’ll tell you which phrasal verbs and idioms I picked from the dictionary, and I’ll explain what they mean.

Now, there are so many things to talk about that I’m not sure how long this is going to take. I will just keep recording and when I get to about an hour I’ll pause and carry on in the next episode. IS that alright by you? Yes? I’m glad you said that because you haven’t got any choice really have you. No, you don’t.

Anyway, let’s get started properly. I’m going to now ramble on about various things including some personal news, some travelling stories, some world news, some politics, some movie-related stuff and probably some other things that just come to mind while I’m talking – and remember to watch out for those 5 phrasal verbs and 5 idioms.

*JINGLE*

Mayumi’s comment: “Hi, Luke. Hope you are well.”
Hi Mayumi, I’m fine thanks. In fact I’ve been really busy lately so it’s good to be back.

Columbo “My wife…”

The podcast episode continues…

Did you notice any phrasal verbs and idioms?

Do you remember that at the beginning of the episode I chose 5 phrasal verbs and 5 idioms from the dictionaries?

I only used 1 phrasal verb and 2 idioms from the list. Here they are:

to come up against something – “Leonardo DiCaprio comes up against all kinds of problems in the film” = to face difficulties www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/come-up-against

to be on the edge of your seat – “I was on the edge of my seat while watching The Revenant” = to be very excited and interested in something you are watching www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/on-the-edge-of-your-seat-chair

to get your knickers in a twist – “This guy was really getting his knickers in a twist in the museum” = to get upset or angry www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/get-your-knickers-in-a-twist

Part 2 – coming soon

334. Interview with Craig Wealand (from InglesPodcast)

This episode features an interview with English teacher and podcaster Craig Wealand from InglesPodcast.com Craig is originally from Essex in England, but now lives in Valencia in Spain where he works as an English teacher and Cambridge examiner for the British Council. Craig has been an English teacher for over 20 years, and for the last few years he has also been producing episodes of his learning English podcast, which won the award for Best Educational Podcast in the UK Podcaster awards last year. In the episode we find out about Craig, talk about his career, his teaching experiences, his podcasting and also I ask him some random “quick fire” questions, just like he does with guests on his podcast.

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Preamble (some stuff about swearing and vocabulary before the interview begins)

Before we get to the interview, I’m going to do a preamble where I mention a few things about swearing and vocabulary. This might take about 10-15 minutes. The interview is coming! A preamble is a ‘preliminary statement’ or ‘information that comes before the main content’ – before the main, “meat” of the episode. It’s a starter, essentially. This is a 3 course meal, this episode. You’ll get preamble, which is the starter. Then the main course, which is the interview, and then a desert, which is just some more info and announcements at the end. So, here’s the preamble. You don’t mind a preamble do you? Do you? No? Not really? Maybe a little bit? What’s that? Oh, “get on with it Luke?” oh, ok.

swearing-at-workA Note on Swearing in the Podcast

You should know that there is a little bit of swearing in this episode (just a couple of s- words in the middle of the interview). I know most of you don’t mind swearing but I thought I’d let you know just in case you’re particularly bothered by it.

I just want to mention these points about swearing though, just to be clear about it:

  • Swearing is pretty common in English language culture – but it’s still very rude if you use swear words in the wrong situations.
  • Usually, we just swear when we are with close friends, or in certain informal situations like at a football game, in a comedy club, or when we’re particularly angry – like when you’re driving and another driver does something dangerous on the road, or when you hit your thumb with a hammer, or something like that.
  • For you as a learner of English I’d say – just be aware of the impact of swearing in some situations and remember that, of course, you shouldn’t do it in business meetings (usually) or in classrooms, or with your host family or something. In fact, swearing is quite a subtle and complex art and if you do it wrong and in the wrong moment it can make you look really bad. I’d say – if in doubt, don’t swear.
  • However, I want this podcast to be an authentic reflection of natural English and so I include some swearing some times. My aim is not to offend anyone.
  • Personally, I’m not bothered by swearing. I am rarely offended by it, and in fact in the right circumstances I find it quite enjoyable.
  • But I know you might be listening with kids in the car or something, or you might not like these words, so when swearing happens in an episode I’ll just try to give you fair warning in advance.
  • For a while I used to bleep out swear words when they happened in interviews. You might have heard a “BEEP” instead of a swear word. Actually, I got a few messages saying “Why are you beeping out the swear words? I want to hear them? I want to be able to hear every word, especially the swear words!” So – in fact a lot of you really want to hear the swear words. Click here to listen to episode 83. “How to swear in British English”
  • I know what most of you are thinking. You’re thinking – “It’s fine Luke. There’s no need to justify it. We don’t mind. No worries. Now, get on with the podcast! Bring it on!” OK then. Yes, I don’t need to go on about it so let’s carry on. And that brings us back to…

Craig Wealand and his podcast – InglesPodcast.com

Craig produces and records episodes of InglesPodcast himself and there are 3 types of episode on the show. There’s “Learn English with Reza and Craig” in which he’s joined by his friend Reza, and there’s “Pass FCE” which is all about the Cambridge FCE exam and then there’s “Mansion Interviews” in which Craig interviews various interesting people that he has discovered in one way or another. Last year Craig contacted me for an interview on his podcast, and I was very happy to be considered interesting enough to be invited on to the show. You can listen to that episode of InglesPodcast, with me, by clicking the link below.

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[DOWNLOAD]

By the way, you ought to know that Craig’s website and podcast are both created specifically for speakers of Spanish, who are learning English. So, if you’re a Spanish speaker you should be particularly interested in Craig Wealand’s work and I suggest that you check it out. But it’s not just for Spanish speakers – the majority of the content on the podcast is for anyone learning English. Some Spanish words crop up every now and then.

 

Craig and I have a few things in common as we are both English teachers who do podcasts and who live in foreign countries, so it was really nice to chat to him and I hope you enjoy listening to this episode as much as we enjoyed recording it.

Just a reminder: Check out MansionIngles.com and InglesPodcast.com for Craig’s work and his podcast.

 

Vocabulary

Now, during this conversation various nice chunks of vocabulary came up, and I’d like you to listen out for them. These are just bits of vocabulary that I think you should notice – natural expressions that you could add to your vocabulary. I have listened to the interview again and prepared a list of those expressions and I’ve printed them on the page for this episode – so you can go there, take the expressions, put them in your vocab list or flashcards app or whatever. I’m also going to read them out to you now. As a listening exercise you can then try and notice these expressions as they appear naturally in the conversation. That’s right – you can play a game of vocab hunter! (or just have a cup of tea and a biscuit if you prefer)

Here are the phrases you should try to identify. There are about 35 of them. I’m going to read them out but it’ll be super-duper quick. The main thing is I just want you to be mindful and notice these phrases. I’m not going to explain them all now, I’m just reading them out for you quickly. But, in the next episode of this podcast, which I’ll upload soon, I’m going to go through all these phrases properly, explaining and clarifying them. That should help you to really learn them.

So now, let me quickly just list these expressions like a robot – these are expressions to look out for in the episode. They will be fully explained and clarified in the next episode. OK, here we go…

  1. I thought it was about time that I got you (back) on LEP (it’s about time I did something)
  2. It’s been getting on for 3 years. (to be getting on for xxx years)
  3. How did you end up being an English teacher? (to end up doing something)
  4. He ended up marrying an Israeli girl.
  5. I took part of the credit for that. (to take the credit for something)
  6. I didn’t see myself doing a clerical job. (to see yourself doing something)
  7. You couldn’t just give away money willy nilly. (to do something willy nilly)
  8. You must have brushed shoulders, as it were, with Essex’s finest. (to brush shoulder’s with someone) (Essex’s finest)
  9. As soon as I got over the fear of standing in front of people… (to get over something)
  10. I came back to Spain with my tail between my legs. (with your tail between your legs)
  11. You start looking at things in a different light. (to look at something/see something in a different light)
  12. The grass is always greener on the other side.
  13. I lived in an English cocoon for the first year. (a cocoon)
  14. As drivers, they’re very erratic and dangerous! (erratic)
  15. It was just a scrape – a small dent in the car. (a scrape, a dent)
  16. Lots of tailgating goes on when you’re driving. (tailgating)
  17. Customer service sometimes falls a bit short. (to fall short)
  18. I’m always on a mission to go to the pub. (to be on a mission to do something)
  19. I want to sit in a pub, nursing a pint of Guinness. (to nurse something)
  20. To be constipated.
  21. My French is coming along. (to be coming along)
  22. It’s a question of trying to squeeze (in) bits of learning into the lifestyle. (to squeeze something in)
  23. It doesn’t just magically rub off on you. (to rub off on someone)
  24. They had to use the language in order to get by in a work environment. (to get by)
  25. If I don’t pull out the stops and work on the language then it’s not going to improve. (to pull out the stops)
  26. I’m turning the tables on you now Craig! You’re going to be in the hot-seat this time. (to turn the tables on someone / the hot seat)
  27. I guard my work desk with my life. (to guard something with your life)
  28. If she dares to put a pen on my desk I shout at her and we have an argument. (to dare to do something)
  29. You’d keep them in a bag and every now and then you’d take a look and have a whiff of the petrol. (to have a whiff of something)
  30. They (cats) look down their nose at you.  (to look down your nose at something)
  31. I’ve never been very keen on cats. (to be keen on something)
  32. I can’t talk you round. (to talk someone round)
  33. The thing about dogs is that they’re too needy, too high-maintenance. (needy / high-maintenance)
  34. Doesn’t that bother you, that they’re so fickle? (fickle)

Ok, so there are some phrases that you’re going to hear. Visit the page for this episode to read those expressions – you could google them or look them up in a dictionary, or just wait for the next episode when I will clarify them properly. The interview is about to start. See if you can spot the phrases I just mentioned, or alternatively, just kick back, relax and enjoy this mellow conversation with Craig Wealand.

*Interview Begins*

So, that was my chat with Craig Wealand

Hope you enjoyed it! Head over to his website to check out the podcast, especially if you’re a Spanish speaker and I know there are a lot of you listening to this – but promise me one thing – don’t forget me ok?

Remember all the vocab and expressions I listed earlier in the episode? That’s all going to be explained and clarified in the next episode, unless I get abducted by aliens and I can’t upload it.

So, we’ve had the starter – the preamble, we’ve had the main course – the interview, now here’s the dessert. Let’s say it’s a cake made from announcements.

Some more announcements

Here are just some other announcements and bits of news for you.

I’ll be on Blab, speaking to Craig + guests tomorrow (Thurs 10 March) at 5pm CET
If you enjoyed the conversation in this episode and you’d like to hear more than you might like to check out our blab conversation. We’re going to talk about comedy, and you can join us if you want. Just click this link to check it out blab.im/craig-wealand-comedy-with-luke-thompson

That’s really a message for those of you who listen to this as soon as it is published because I expect many of you will have missed the conversation now but never mind – I think you should have a look at Blab anyway, it’s a cool platform which is an interesting way to just listen to people talking online, or do some speaking if you’re feeling up for it.

You might be thinking – What’s Blab, Luke? OK, I’ll tell you.

Blab is an app and a website that allows you to have video conversations online. It’s a bit like Periscope, but 4 people can talk not just one, and everyone else can watch the conversation and add comments and questions. You can get Blab as an app on your phone or just through your web browser on your computer. If you’d like to join us, just click this link  blab.im/craig-wealand-comedy-with-luke-thompson (or find the conversation by searching my Twitter feed – I’m @englishpodcast )

To take part you’ll have to sign up with Blab (it’s free and easy to use). Then you can watch the conversation (you’ll see 4 video screens with the 4 people talking to each other), leave comments or questions, or if there is an open spot you can join the conversation yourself, and be one of the 4 people on video in the discussion. It’s fun, it’s free and it’s a chance to just listen to English, ask questions or even do some speaking practice if you feel up for it. Our blab conversation is going to start at 5pm tomorrow (Thurs 10 March). Here’s the link again blab.im/craig-wealand-comedy-with-luke-thompson

If you’re too late and you missed that, have a look at Blab anyway. It’s pretty interesting, and I might be doing more things on Blab in the future.

So that’s blab.

italki

Here’s a quick reminder about italki, the sponsor for this podcast. Go to teacherluke.co.uk/talk to check out italki where you can find native English speakers and qualified teachers for conversation or tailored lessons just for you. It’s one of the best ways to improve your spoken fluency and is also cheaper and more convenient than taking language lessons offline. This interview with Craig was done on Skype just like lessons on italki and it’s easy easy easy. Also, because you’re a listener to this podcast italki will give you a voucher worth 100ITC (about 10 dollars) which you can use on subsequent purchases of lessons and stuff. That’s not too shabby! teacherluke.co.uk/talk to start talking now! Oh, and if you’re shy – don’t be – the native speakers there are very friendly and it’s a totally cool and relaxed atmosphere in which you can just take your time and start speaking. Don’t be shy, give it a try.

Alright, that’s almost it for this episode, but I would still like to ramble on a bit more about some other podcast-related news and admin.

New comment system

As ever I invite you to leave your comments on the page for this episode.

You might have noticed that I have a new comment system on the website now. I’m now using the Disqus system. That’s basically an in-built comment system on my website. If you’ve seen it, let me know how it’s working for you. It should be smoother and more user-friendly than the previous comment system. For me, the improvements are these things:

You can now easily upload pictures into your comments. So that means you can share images, your own photos, memes etc.

If you include a link in your comment it should appear and will automatically be clickable (the old comment system used to do weird things with links sometimes – make them disappear etc). Some video content will automatically embed, which means that a link to a youtube link will automatically become an embedded youtube video in your comment.

Disqus is used on lots and lots of websites, so if you sign into Disqus you can then comment on lots of other websites using the same profile, and you can keep track of all the comments you’ve made on my website and any other website using Disqus.

Comments can now be deleted or edited by you, so if you’ve made an error or something, you can correct it later.

If you sign up to Disqus you can also get email notifications when other people reply to your comments. So it should now be easier to keep track of the conversations between you and other LEPsters on different pages of my website.

When you leave a comment with the new system, it won’t reload the whole page when you submit your comment. That used to happen with the old system, which was a bit annoying if you wanted to comment and listen at the same time. Now you can listen and comment and it won’t interrupt the episode by reloading the page. Nice.

Show us yer face! The Disqus system lets you show your own photo next to your comments. If you sign in with Twitter or Facebook it’ll show your Twitter or Facebook pic, or you can just upload another photo to your Disqus profile. If you just log in as a guest when you leave a comment (that means you just give a name and an email address but not a full Disqus user) you will appear as an LEP Ninja, with a little photo of an LEP Ninja – as you jump out of the shadows, leave your comment and then disappear into the night. ;)

All the old comments are still there and can still be read. At this moment in time, the website has had about 10,000 comments in total across all the pages on the site. They’re all still there.

The Disqus system should help to build more of a community feeling on teacherluke.co.uk

For full details about comment notifications (and how to control comment notifications from the old WordPress system), just click here: How to control comment notifications from WordPress and Disqus.

It’s good to see that so many of you have written about your commitments to learning English after listening to episode 332 with Olly Richards. It’s also nice to see that Olly himself is getting involved and writing some messages of encouragement there for you in the comment section for episode 332.

Also, I’m glad that lots of you enjoyed the misheard lyrics in the last episode. That was just a bit of a laugh wasn’t it? One thing I’d like to correct is that Meg and Jack from the White Stripes aren’t brother and sister. In fact, they were married to each other for many years. So, I just wanted to clarify that. For some reason I always thought they were siblings, but no – they were an item. That’s a bit weird. Maybe that explains why Jack was so upset about what happened with me at band practice, and why he chucked me out of the band. If you have absolutely no idea what I’m talking about, go back to episode 333 and listen to the whole thing!

Another nice thing I wanted to add here in this post-interview bonus section is that so many people have voted for their favourite pics in the LEP Photo Competition. Voting is now closed for that, so if you forgot to vote, that’s just your hard cheese! I’ll let you know about the winning pictures in due course.

That’s it – remember that the next episode should be about that list of vocab and expressions from the interview with Craig. I’ll explain and clarify them, which should help you both understand and pick up some more vocabulary, in this long and enjoyable journey into the acquisition of natural English. So, next stop – vocabulary in episode 335. (unless for some reason I can’t upload episode 335, like because I get abducted by aliens, or something less exciting, like I have to much work to do).

Small Donate ButtonThanks for listening all the way to the end of another long episode of LEP – you are a truly wonderful, attentive and patient human being and good things are bound to come your way sooner or later if there’s any justice in this world. Bye!

CraigWealandPODPIC

313. British Comedy: Tim Vine

In this episode we’re going to listen to some stand-up comedy by a popular British comedian called Tim Vine, which should be pretty challenging because he tells lots of puns and fast jokes.

But before that, I just want to tell you about a new competition that I’m launching today for listeners to this podcast. This is the Luke’s English Podcast photo competition. See below for all the details, to download this episode and to watch a video of Tim Vine.

[DOWNLOAD] [LISTEN TO PART 2]
The LEP Photo Competition
It’s been a great year for Luke’s English Podcast with loads of new episodes. All kinds of things have happened this year and I’ve talked about a lot of them on the podcast. I’ve had lots of responses from you my listeners and the podcast is still going from strength to strength in terms of audience numbers.

One of the things that’s made it great for me is that I have such awesome listeners all over the planet. It’s great for me to imagine people listening to my podcast in different situations, in different places all over the world. But I’d like to do more than imagine those situations, I’d love to actually see them. I think it would be really cool if you, the listeners of this podcast, could all share photos of your surroundings while listening to LEP.

Maybe you’re on a bus or train, maybe in your car, maybe just walking around, maybe you’re at home with your pets or a cup of tea, maybe you’re climbing a mountain, maybe you’re on the international space station orbiting the earth or something.

Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing – send me your photos. I want you to take a photo that shows the situation you’re in while you listen. Now, you might think “Nah, you don’t want to see a picture of my surroundings…” Yes, I do! Even if you think it’s boring – I want to see it. If you’re on the bus, take a pic of the bus or your view from the window. If you’re walking along a street, take a pic of the street so we can see what it looks like. If you’re on an alien spaceship listening to this from outside the earth’s atmosphere, send me a photo of the spaceship or your view of earth from a distance. Just take a picture of what you can see while you’re listening.

There’s just one rule – the photo has to contain something that shows you’re listening – so include in the photo the LEP logo or some headphones or a screen with the logo on it or some other indication that you’re listening. You don’t have to include a picture of yourself, but you can if you want to. It’s up to you. The main thing is – I want you to show us something that you can see in your surroundings while you listen to LEP and your photo should contain something that proves you’re listening. So if you’re taking a photo of the street, or the view from your hike in the mountains, make sure there’s a headphone in the photo or the LEP logo or even you listening. Yes, just a headphone in the photo is enough for me.

Send your photos by email to podcastcomp@gmail.com. Closing date for photos is Friday 15 January at midnight London time.

When I’ve collected all the photos, I’ll put them all up on the website and you all the LEPsters can vote for their favourite. Then I’ll pick 3 winners. The top winner will get an LEP mug plus another gift of their choice (another mug, a t-shirt or a bag). The two runners up will get LEP mugs. 

OK, so start taking some photos to show us what it’s like where you are while you’re listening to the podcast. Feel free to get creative! Just make sure you insert something in the photo to show that you’re listening. I want it to be a real picture, not a faked one. OK!

Mailing list
From messages I receive it seems that some of my listeners just can’t wait for me to upload new  episodes and they keep going to my page to see if there’s new content there. You should join the mailing list and then you’ll get an email whenever I post a new episode on the website. On my website near the top on the right there’s a field that says “Subscribe by email” just enter your email address there and click confirm.

Top 10 countries this week (number of ‘plays’ in the last 7 days)

Russia 12254
Japan 10443
China 10428
Spain 7434
United Kingdom 6175
Germany 5588
Poland 4740
United States 4570
Italy 4068
South Korea 3038

Do you want your country to go up in the list? Tell your friends!

British Comedy: Tim Vine
Tim Vine is a British stand up comedian who is famous for doing lots of one-liners. He’s one of the UK’s favourite stand-up comedians. His jokes are all clean and family friendly with no rude language or explicit content. He’s a self-deprecating cheeky chappie who makes everyone laugh. The thing that makes Tim Vine different to other comedians is that he always does a succession of one line jokes in his performances. It’s just joke after joke after joke and often they don’t relate to each other at all, it’s just a relentless and rapid stream of unrelated gags and puns.  British audiences love him, but I wonder what you’ll think of his comedy.

I think to an extent, his comedy is quite challenging for non-native speakers of English. By that I mean that he’s the sort of guy that, if you’re a learner of English, you’ll be watching TV with a group of native English speakers, and Tim Vine will come on TV, and all the native speakers (let’s say youre with an English family or some English friends) all of them will suddenly say, “Oh, I love Tim Vine, he’s soooo funny, you’ve got to check this out, you’ll love this, all his jokes are so clever – they’re all based on double meanings and word play, you’ll love it.” You then watch his set, and he tells joke after joke after joke, the audience on TV is loving it, the other people in the room are all laughing, but to you he’s just saying lots of really quick little sentences without pronouncing the words properly, and he’s acting like a total amateur, and he looks all shy and apologetic on stage, and you think – I can’t believe these English people find this guy so funny, what’s wrong with everyone. Or, what’s wrong with me?

There’s nothing wrong with anyone of course, it’s just a language and culture gap that might stop you from enjoying his jokes, and it’s a big pity because there is a lot of joy and pleasure to be gained from watching Tim Vine do comedy.

So, in this episode I’m going to do something a bit ambitious – I’m going to try to help you understand and enjoy one of Tim Vine’s comedy performances. We’re going to listen to about 10 minutes of Tim Vine’s act, and then I’ll break it down and help you understand exactly what he’s saying and why the audience is laughing. If you laugh at his jokes too – fantastic, that’s wonderful. If laughter happens, then success has been achieved. If laughter doesn’t happen – no problem, we’ll still have success because I will explain the language and you’ll learn some really natural English.

I expect that while we listen to Tim Vine some of you will start thinking – this just isn’t funny. Well, let me just say – Tim Vine definitely is funny and many many people agree with that. In fact, I think that  The only reason someone won’t find him funny is because they just don’t get the jokes. He’s not offensive, he’s not rude, he’s a lovely man who just wants to make people laugh. There’s no other reason for not liking him other than the fact that you don’t understand his jokes.

A few facts to prove my point: Tim Vine is the holder of the Guiness World Record for most jokes told in an hour. He told 499 jokes. The criteria for the record is that the jokes received a laugh from the audience. So, 499 jokes got laughs in one hour. That’s over 8 jokes a minute.

He has won the “Joke of the Year” award twice. That’s the prize for the best joke at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

My Mum and Dad are both huge fans of Tim. They went to see one of his live shows, and absolutely loved it. And, you should know that my parents have exceptional taste in most things.

Now, if those three things don’t convince you that Tim Vine is funny, then I don’t know what will.

Alright, so now we have agreed that Tim Vine is definitely funny, and that if you don’t find him funny then it’s almost certainly because of the language and cultural gap – let’s listen to Tim telling some jokes and then we’ll work on closing that linguistic and cultural gap. Hopefully the result will be that your understanding of English will be significantly raised in the process, even if it requires a bit of work. In fact, this could be the perfect test – teach – test model for learning English.

I’m not saying that you’re not going to understand any of this – I’m sure many of you will get a lot of the jokes without any problem, but honestly I think that if you’re not proficient at English you’ll struggle to get them. And watch out – don’t assume you’ve understood the joke because you understand the words. There’s always a double meaning.

So, let’s go.

Let’s now listen to the first 3 minutes of Tim Vine’s stand up routine from a show called One Night Stand, which is a popular stand-up comedy show on a British TV channel called Dave.

Stop listening after Tim’s song called “It’s easy”.

Then go back through the jokes one by one. If you already got these jokes, then sorry if I’m telling things you already know.

Cultural point: Tim knows, and the audience knows, that the jokes are pretty stupid and crap. On their own they have pretty much no value. But when the jokes come one by one, relentlessly, so fast they build into a rhythm. You don’t get a chance to think about how silly they are, you just laugh at the pun and the next one comes along immediately. That  part of the enjoyment – and if you don’t understand them, or if you think about the individual jokes too much, that can kill the fun. So, analysing the jokes like this is probably the best way to KILL the humour, but anyway…

 

Now, you should watch the whole video on the page for this episode. You should do that so you can actually see Tim performing the jokes, including the expressions on his face and everything.

That’s it! Remember – don’t give up even if it’s difficult.

And, remember, the force will be with you, always…

Tim Vine – One Night Stand

307. The Mystery of Corporate Jargon & Management Speak (Part 2)

‘Peeling back the onion’ on management speak and corporate jargon.
This episode focuses on defining and explaining the examples of language you heard at the beginning of the last episode. You’ll hear Paul and me going through all the phrases and by the end you should be able to understand it all, and you could create your own version of bullsh*t bingo! See below for definitions and to print some bulls*t bingo cards.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]
The intro to part 1 – This contains all the language we define in this episode
Hi Paul, thanks for taking time out to talk to me today.
I just wanted to touch base with you in order to get all our ducks in a row, OK, so let’s peel back the onion and have a good look under the bonnet on this podcast situation here. At the end of the day, we’ve brought you on board here because we think you bring a lot to the table and I think that impacts favourably on our key market component players, and I think this is something we can leverage to bring about greater penetration, ultimately pushing our growth potential above and beyond just the low hanging fruit and into the stratosphere on this one. I’m talking streamlining, I’m talking synergy and with yourself on board we can push the strategic staircase all the way up to eleven. I’m talking 110% mate.  After all, that’s part of our DNA here at LEP solutions isn’t it. We’re all about cascading relevant information and branching out across new frontiers and web 2.0 platforms and that’s why I thought I’d reach out to you, offline like this, just so we can have a bit of downtime to go over this, get a helicopter view to make sure nobody drops the ball going forward. I think you know what I’m talking about. Feedback says restructuring has been working very well, I mean, clearly this is not a come to Jesus moment, far from it and in fact I think there’s no need for much more of a drill down on this one or it’ll just turn into a case of paralysis by analysis, so let’s keep our eyes on the prize ok Paul?  Wait, don’t say anything. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “but Luke, how can we truly push the envelope and come up with genuinely competitive deliverables across multiple platforms to upscale our market diversity moving forward” and that’s what I like about you Paul. You don’t beat around the bush, you just say it like it is. So, just to finish up here, I’d say –  don’t let the grass grow too long on this one, okay, what I’m looking for is for you to have a get together with your team, unpack these issues, have an idea shower, really think outside the box – blue sky thinking,  and then by end of play, shoot me over an exit strategy that will allow for true organic growth maximising our potential for upstream stratcom. So, if you could action that, then we’ll just run it up the flagpole, you know, put the record on and see who dances, and then ideally we can look to open the kimono and truly take it to the next level going forward, firing on all cylinders. OK?

List of Jargon & Definitions (Explained in this episode)
Action = as a verb, to mean “do”. “Can you action that?” (Redundant – why say this when you just mean ‘do’? Sounds self important)
At the end of the day = ultimately (why are things different at the end of the day? And anyway, it’s no the end of the day, it’s 11AM) (Cliche)
Bring to the table = What table? This means to offer skills, services, ideas etc. “What are you bringing to the table?” = what are you bringing to the team in terms of skills, knowledge etc.
Cascading relevant information – speaking to your colleagues. If anything, this is worse than touching base offline. From the flourish of cascading through to relevant, and onto information – this is complete nonsense. It sounds way more self-important than necessary.
a Come-to-Jesus moment (A meeting in which one person has to be disciplined and brought back in line with the philosophy or ethos of the organisation, a meeting or situation in which a person/organisation comes back to core values, often admitting mistakes in the process) Sounds really pretentious.
a Deliverable (a thing that has to be provided) – “the company’s primary method of measuring customer feedback on deliverables” Why not just products, services or information? It sounds annoying because it’s a noun which used to be an adjective. I think it’s not that bad.
Don’t let the grass grow too long on this one = work fast. I’m looking for a polite way of suggesting that you get off your backside and get on with it. What grass anyway? This is just an annoying use of metaphor, obscuring the fact that you’re telling me to hurry up.
Drill down = go into details, investigate the details. Seems unnecessarily aggressive and even overtly sexual?
Drop the Ball = rugby based expression, meaning fail or make a mistake.
End of play = This means by the end of the day, or by the end of the week. I guess it’s used to make it sound like sport or a game, but sorry – it’s work.
Exit strategy = a planned way of exiting a situation (e.g. investors need an exit strategy)
Get all your ducks in a row – be organised and in line with everyone else. You may think I’m disorganised, but there’s no need to talk to me like a five-year-old.
Going forward / Moving forward = in the future
Helicopter view – need a phrase that means broad overview of the business? Then why not say “a broad view of the business” or “an overview”?
Idea shower – brainstorm
Impact – instead of ‘effect’ as a noun. What will be the impact on our sales? How will this impact our sales?
Issues (not problems)
Leverage – used as verb to mean magnify, multiply, augment, or increase.
Look under the bonnet – analyse a situation. Most people wouldn’t have a clue about a car engine. When I look under a car bonnet I scratch my head, try not to look like I haven’t got a clue, jiggle a few pipes and kick the tyres before handing the job over to a qualified professional.
Low hanging fruit – easy win business
Open the kimono = to be open and transparent, usually with external people
Organic growth = naturally occurring development
Outside the box = usually, “think outside the box” – this just means thinking without any restrictions, like ‘blue sky thinking’. But I didn’t realise we were in a box.
Paradigm shift – just a big change in the way we do things.
Paralysis by Analysis = thinking about things too much and not actually doing anything
Part of our DNA = an intrinsic part of our nature, usually the DNA of a company. But companies don’t have DNA.
Peel back the onion = analyse the situation in detail, going through numerous layers.
Penetration = e.g. market penetration. This means going into something deeply. Again, it’s a bit sexual isn’t it.
Push the envelope = make things better, challenge current standards, go further.
Put a record on and see who dances – as above. Unfortunately the kind of person who says this is likely to put on Gangnam Style because they think that’s cool too. Think David Brent to the power 10.
Reach out – as in “I’ll reach out to sales to get the latest figures”.
Restructuring = usually this means firing people or making redundancies, or at least changing the structure of the company and moving people
Run it up the flagpole – Try it and see what happens, or ask for the opinions of everyone, or show it to everyone to get their feedback.
Square the circle – not entirely sure what this means! I think it means to standardise it, get it under control , solve a difficult problem. It comes from geometry – making a square with the same surface area as the circle. It’s difficult, basically.
Strategic Communication (also known as “Stratcom“) = communicating with customers in a planned way. “stratcom” just doesn’t sound like English.
The strategic staircase = a business plan. Thanks, but I’ll take the lift.
to Streamline something / streamlining = like restructuring. A nice way of saying “getting rid of people we don’t need”
Synergy = cooperation of different parts of a business. Different departments working together well.
Touch Base = to talk to someone
Touch base offline – meaning let’s meet and talk, in a more informal setting. Because, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to communicate without a Wi-Fi signal. No, really, it is. Fancy a coffee?
Unpack (as in “Let me unpack that statement.”) = explain and go into details

Bullsh*t Bingo
Use these cards to play your own version of bullsh*t bingo.
You can use the intro to episode 306 (in which I use a lot of management speak).
Play with 4 players.
Hand out the cards.
Listen to the intro to episode 306.
When you hear a phrase, cross it out.
The first person to cross out 3 phrases in a line shouts “BINGO” (or if you prefer: “BULLSH*T!”)

Links
13 most hated corporate jargon phrases www.theguardian.com/careers/careers-blog/worst-office-jargon-phrases-staff-love-hate-management-speak
Weird Al Yankovic – Mission Statement. Buy Weird Al’s Album on iTunes here itunes.apple.com/us/album/mandatory-fun/id891836396

UK career’s service career player. People talking about management speak.

onion

306. The Mystery of Corporate Jargon & Management Speak (Part 1)

Why do people in meetings at work keep talking about “thinking outside the box”? Why does my boss say we need to “get all our ducks in a row”? And why does my project manager want to “touch base with me offline”? If it’s all a mystery to you, don’t worry – LEP is here to decode all this weird language.

If you work in an office in an English-speaking country I’m sure you’ll have heard of ‘corporate jargon’ or ‘management speak’. This is one of the things that people complain about the most, in offices all around the UK. It seems that managers, bosses, project managers, corporate leaders all speak a strange version of English full of bizarre idioms, over-complicated metaphors and unnecessarily big words. But what is ‘management speak’, why do people use it, and why do people find it so annoying? In this episode I’m joined by former Apple employee Paul Taylor as we ‘peel back the onion’ and decode the phenomenon of management speak. Listen to find out all the details and to learn some management speak in the process.

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Intro monologue featuring lots of ‘management speak’ (all explained in part 2)
Hi Paul, thanks for taking time out to talk to me today.
I just wanted to touch base with you in order to get all our ducks in a row, OK, so let’s peel back the onion and have a good look under the bonnet on this podcast situation here. At the end of the day, we’ve brought you on board here because we think you bring a lot to the table and I think that impacts favourably on our key market component players, and I think this is something we can leverage to bring about greater penetration, ultimately pushing our growth potential above and beyond just the low hanging fruit and into the stratosphere on this one. I’m talking streamlining, I’m talking synergy and with yourself on board we can push the strategic staircase all the way up to eleven. I’m talking 110% mate.  After all, that’s part of our DNA here at LEP solutions isn’t it. We’re all about cascading relevant information and branching out across new frontiers and web 2.0 platforms and that’s why I thought I’d reach out to you, offline like this, just so we can have a bit of downtime to go over this, get a helicopter view to make sure nobody drops the ball going forward. I think you know what I’m talking about. Feedback says restructuring has been working very well, I mean, clearly this is not a come to Jesus moment, far from it and in fact I think there’s no need for much more of a drill down on this one or it’ll just turn into a case of paralysis by analysis, so let’s keep our eyes on the prize ok Paul?  Wait, don’t say anything. I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking, “but Luke, how can we truly push the envelope and come up with genuinely competitive deliverables across multiple platforms to upscale our market diversity moving forward” and that’s what I like about you Paul. You don’t beat around the bush, you just say it like it is. So, just to finish up here, I’d say –  don’t let the grass grow too long on this one, okay, what I’m looking for is for you to have a get together with your team, unpack these issues, have an idea shower, really think outside the boxblue sky thinking,  and then by end of play, shoot me over an exit strategy that will allow for true organic growth maximising our potential for upstream stratcom. So, if you could action that, then we’ll just run it up the flagpole, you know, put the record on and see who dances, and then ideally we can look to open the kimono and truly take it to the next level going forward, firing on all cylinders. OK?

Paul says “I have no idea what you’re talking about”
Just… it’s nice to have you on the podcast again.
So, what you all just heard there was me using a lot of what we call “corporate jargon” or “management speak”. If you didn’t understand it all, we plan to come back and explain it for you in this episode. Also, you can see it all written on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk.

Management Speak / Corporate Jargon
We’re talking about management speak, or corporate jargon. That’s the focus of the episode – what is corporate jargon or management speak, how do people feel about it, what’s wrong with it (or not) and what are some of the most common examples of management speak that people don’t like?

Did you understand what I said Paul?
Have you heard that stuff before?
Paul talks about a couple of experiences at Apple.

CNN skit with loads of management speak

What is jargon?
Definition from the Cambridge Dictionary for Learners of English
jargon
noun [U] /ˈdʒɑːɡən/
› words and phrases used by particular groups of people that are difficult for other people to understand:
e.g. legal jargon, technical jargon, medical jargon, English teaching jargon (activate schemata, facilitate the non-deductive process of lexical acquisition, etc), also corporate jargon or just the jargon of managing people.

What is Corporate Jargon or Management Speak?
management speak (or corporate jargon)
noun [U] (also management-speak)
› WORKPLACE words and expressions that are used by ​managers and in ​management ​theory, but may not be understood by ordinary ​people:
“Relationship ​marketing” is ​management speak for ​selling ​products by ​offering ​discounts and ​benefits to existing ​customers.

Corporate jargon is basically the same thing, and just refers to words and expressions used in the corporate world.

Why do people use management speak?
Info about Corporate Jargon from a Guardian article, which includes reference to the Plain English Campaign (a movement which has been going since 1979 to promote plain, simple and clear English free of jargon and misleading public information. It’s been supported by numerous well-known and respected public figures including heads of state such as Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, and the Prince of Wales – did I say respected public figures?) Anyway, here is what The Guardian wrote about the subject of management speak.
The Plain English Campaign says that many staff working for big corporate organisations find themselves using management speak as a way of disguising the fact that they haven’t done their job properly. Some people think that it is easy to bluff their way through by using long, impressive-sounding words and phrases, even if they don’t know what they mean, which is telling in itself. (So, people use it to make themselves sound more important)

Furthermore, a recent survey by Institute of Leadership & Management, revealed that management speak is used in almost two thirds (64%) of offices, with nearly a quarter (23%) considering it to be a pointless irritation. “Thinking outside the box” (57%), “going forward” (55%) and “let’s touch base” (39%) were identified as the top three most overused pieces of jargon.

Why does Paul hate it?
Bullsh*t bingo?

Is there anything wrong with it?
Isn’t it just the language of work? People need to use complex language to talk about complex specialist things. But sometimes, it’s used to build power structures and not to achieve tasks. E.g. Legal English in contracts is so difficult to understand that it doesn’t help the parties to the contracts, only the lawyers who are needed to decide it all. So, arguably lawyers (even subconsciously) fill contracts with legalese to make sure they are indispensable to their clients, possibly justifying their very high fees. Similarly, managers might use this language to make themselves sound more important, confident, impressive or expert. This lack of sincerity is what irritates people. It just sounds like self-important BS, and that’s annoying when we’re just trying to get things done.

Arguments For and Against

For: Some phrases are actually pretty useful and accurate and there’s nothing wrong with them really, and it’s just pedantic and uptight to get so annoyed. E.g. “Going forward” is quite descriptive and positive, and is not grammatically incorrect.

Against: But sloppy cliches, impenetrable jargon and meaningless, redundant language does not help proper communication and can just be used to distract attention away from the real work that has to be done. Also, it irritates so many people, and that is a reason alone to look further.

Some comments from an article by Financial Times journalist Lucy Kellaway on management speak (this one news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/magazine/7453584.stm#

Actually, this first one is from the Plain English Campaign Website www.plainenglish.co.uk

‘Human relationships depend on communication. Bad writing is a barrier to communication. When a large organisation such as the Government tries to communicate with the man and woman in the street the scope for misunderstanding is enormous. Too often clarity and simplicity are overwhelmed by pompous words, long sentences and endless paragraphs.

If we all wrote in plain English, how much easier – and efficient – life would be. It is no exaggeration to describe plain English as a fundamental tool of good Government.

Some people think that flowery language and complicated writing is a sign of intellectual strength. They are wrong. Some of our greatest communicators were – and are – passionate believers in the simplicity of the written word. As Winston Churchill described a particularly tortured piece of ‘officialese’: ‘This is the sort of English up with which I will not put.’

The Civil Service and public administration generally have made great strides in the use of plain English in recent years. Jargon and ‘officialese’, while far from extinct, are dying out. I would like to see them banished forever. Plain English must be the aim of all who work in government.’
Baroness Margaret Thatcher, former Prime Minister

No-one wishes to be reactionary and oppose all linguistic evolution; the efforts in France to “protect” their language are absurd and rightly the butt of much ridicule. However, Lucy Kellaway usefully points out how much of these recent changes are intended to deceive and mislead. Most of the phrases are merely empty, but some are deliberately dishonest and designed to distort meaning. (She takes her examples from the business world but this kind of malevolent misuse of language is at the heart of the “political correctness” fanaticism which can be seen in the political and social realms.)
Douglas McCallum, Kingdom of Bahrain (temporary); otherwise, Bullwood, by Dunoon (Agyll)

 

Many people hate it, but here’s why you still need to know it
If you’re doing business with native speakers, and let’s face it you probably will, you’ll need to try and decode what the hell they’re talking about.
I’ve met many people from lots of countries who do business with the Brits and Americans and they often struggle to penetrate their idiomatic language.
Native speakers should really cut down on it, but it will be useful if you know some of it, or are at least aware that it exists.

So, should management speak and corporate language be banned or something?
That would also be ridiculous. We don’t want a situation like in France, where a bunch of stuffy academics sit around deciding what we can and can’t say. But what we want is to cut out the bullshit factor – people just using language to lie, cover the truth, make themselves sound important or intelligent, to patronise, to be passive aggressive and all those other insincere and slightly dishonest things that people do, via language. 

This episode is not just to moan about corporate jargon, but to decode it, help you learn some of it, and also to decide how bad it is really.

List of Jargon & Definitions (Explained in Part 2)
Action = as a verb, to mean “do”. “Can you action that?” (Redundant – why say this when you just mean ‘do’? Sounds self important)
At the end of the day = ultimately (why are things different at the end of the day? And anyway, it’s no the end of the day, it’s 11AM) (Cliche)
Bring to the table = What table? This means to offer skills, services, ideas etc. “What are you bringing to the table?” = what are you bringing to the team in terms of skills, knowledge etc.
Cascading relevant information – speaking to your colleagues. If anything, this is worse than touching base offline. From the flourish of cascading through to relevant, and onto information – this is complete nonsense. It sounds way more self-important than necessary.
a Come-to-Jesus moment (A meeting in which one person has to be disciplined and brought back in line with the philosophy or ethos of the organisation, a meeting or situation in which a person/organisation comes back to core values, often admitting mistakes in the process) Sounds really pretentious.
a Deliverable (a thing that has to be provided) – “the company’s primary method of measuring customer feedback on deliverables” Why not just products, services or information? It sounds annoying because it’s a noun which used to be an adjective. I think it’s not that bad.
Don’t let the grass grow too long on this one = work fast. I’m looking for a polite way of suggesting that you get off your backside and get on with it. What grass anyway? This is just an annoying use of metaphor, obscuring the fact that you’re telling me to hurry up.
Drill down = go into details, investigate the details. Seems unnecessarily aggressive and even overtly sexual?
Drop the Ball = rugby based expression, meaning fail or make a mistake.
End of play = This means by the end of the day, or by the end of the week. I guess it’s used to make it sound like sport or a game, but sorry – it’s work.
Exit strategy = a planned way of exiting a situation (e.g. investors need an exit strategy)
Get all your ducks in a row – be organised and in line with everyone else. You may think I’m disorganised, but there’s no need to talk to me like a five-year-old.
Going forward / Moving forward = in the future
Helicopter view – need a phrase that means broad overview of the business? Then why not say “a broad view of the business” or “an overview”?
Idea shower – brainstorm
Impact – instead of ‘effect’ as a noun. What will be the impact on our sales? How will this impact our sales?
Issues (not problems)
Leverage – used as verb to mean magnify, multiply, augment, or increase.
Look under the bonnet – analyse a situation. Most people wouldn’t have a clue about a car engine. When I look under a car bonnet I scratch my head, try not to look like I haven’t got a clue, jiggle a few pipes and kick the tyres before handing the job over to a qualified professional.
Low hanging fruit – easy win business
Open the kimono = to be open and transparent, usually with external people
Organic growth = naturally occurring development
Outside the box = usually, “think outside the box” – this just means thinking without any restrictions, like ‘blue sky thinking’. But I didn’t realise we were in a box.
Paradigm shift – just a big change in the way we do things.
Paralysis by Analysis = thinking about things too much and not actually doing anything
Part of our DNA = an intrinsic part of our nature, usually the DNA of a company. But companies don’t have DNA.
Peel back the onion = analyse the situation in detail, going through numerous layers.
Penetration = e.g. market penetration. This means going into something deeply. Again, it’s a bit sexual isn’t it.
Push the envelope = make things better, challenge current standards, go further.
Put a record on and see who dances – as above. Unfortunately the kind of person who says this is likely to put on Gangnam Style because they think that’s cool too. Think David Brent to the power 10.
Reach out – as in “I’ll reach out to sales to get the latest figures”.
Restructuring = usually this means firing people or making redundancies, or at least changing the structure of the company and moving people
Run it up the flagpole – Try it and see what happens, or ask for the opinions of everyone, or show it to everyone to get their feedback.
Square the circle – not entirely sure what this means! I think it means to standardise it, get it under control , solve a difficult problem. It comes from geometry – making a square with the same surface area as the circle. It’s difficult, basically.
Strategic Communication (also known as “Stratcom“) = communicating with customers in a planned way. “stratcom” just doesn’t sound like English.
The strategic staircase = a business plan. Thanks, but I’ll take the lift.
to Streamline something / streamlining = like restructuring. A nice way of saying “getting rid of people we don’t need”
Synergy = cooperation of different parts of a business. Different departments working together well.
Touch Base = to talk to someone
Touch base offline – meaning let’s meet and talk, in a more informal setting. Because, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to communicate without a Wi-Fi signal. No, really, it is. Fancy a coffee?
Unpack (as in “Let me unpack that statement.”) = explain and go into details

287. VOCAB BATTLE!!! WITH AMBER & PAUL (exciting title)

aka “Vocabulary Game with Amber & Paul” or “Fifteen Fixed Expressions” (less exciting titles)

Learn more English expressions in this episode by listening to another vocabulary game with Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor.

The series of episodes featuring ‘fixed expressions’ and vocabulary games continues in this episode. The previous ones, entitled “Ten Fixed Expressions” (283) and “Ten More Fixed Expressions” (285) featured me testing Paul’s knowledge of multi-word expressions in English. He did better in the second episode than the first, although maybe that’s because of the way I explained the expressions rather than because of Paul’s lack of vocabulary. Nevertheless, the wider aim of these episodes is to teach you, my listeners, some vocabulary in the form of multi-word expressions.

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What is a ‘fixed expression’?
Essentially, a fixed expression (according to me) is a vocabulary item comprising of a few words that always go together. That includes idioms, sayings, phrasal verbs, well-known quotes and collocations. All these things are lexical items which are included in the catch-all title of ‘fixed expressions’. The words are fixed together. They’re not just individual words combined, but they are discrete items of vocabulary in their own right.

So, fixed expressions are essentially ‘lexical chunks’. They’re not types of shelf unit or ikea furniture or anything like that. They’re just phrases in English. That should be clear.

I realise that the more I explain, the more confusing it is, so I’ll stop explaining now and we can start playing the game.

Let’s Play the Game
This time Amber is involved.
All three of us have short lists of five expressions.
We’re going to do three rounds of this game.
Round 1: Amber vs Paul (Luke is the Question Master)
Round 2: Paul vs Luke (Amber is the Question Master)
Round 3: Luke vs Amber (Paul is the Question Master)

Rules of the Game
The Question Master defines an expression without using the words in the expression.
The QM can also give little hints if necessary.
The two competitors race to guess the expression.
A point is awarded to the one who guesses the question right. If both competitors guess the expression at the same time, they both get a point.
Listeners can try to guess the expressions too. Did you guess them? Did you beat us?
If you don’t know the expression, listen carefully because we will explain, repeat and give examples.

So, it’s a fun game and a learning opportunity too, in one Great British package.

The Expressions in the Game
Here you’ll find lists of the fixed expressions in this episode. Listen to the episode to get the full definitions and examples, or search for the definitions online.

Luke’s Expressions
1. to be hard up
2. to be in the loop / to stay in the loop / to keep someone in the loop
3. “been there, done that, got the t-shirt”
4. to bend over backwards (for someone) (to do something)
5. to give someone the benefit of the doubt

Amber’s Expressions
1. to get your foot in the door
2. to show your true colours
3. over my dead body
4. in mint condition
5. to bite the bullet

Paul’s Expressions – Theme: Body Parts
1. to have two left feet
2. to be/fall head over heels in love with someone
3. (to do something) by the skin of your teeth
4. (give it some) elbow grease / (put some) elbow grease (into it)
5. to put your foot in your mouth

There are plenty of other expressions in this episode, so if you notice any other good ones please add them in the comments section below.

Enjoy!

p.s. I’m going on my honeymoon in a couple of days so there will be no new episodes for a couple of weeks, but LEP will be back :)
VOCABBATTLE

285. Ten More Fixed Expressions

It’s been about one month since I last uploaded an episode of the podcast, but now LEP is back! Where have I been? Well, I got married (expect a podcast about that soon) and took some time off after that, and then I had lots of work commitments, comedy commitments and honeymoon-organising commitments and I didn’t have enough time to record an episode, but of course I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to speak into the microphone, and that opportunity came today. So here it is.

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Introduction
Paul Taylor is with me for this one and we’re going to do another round of our vocabulary game, just like we did in episode 283.
That episode was called “Ten Fixed Expressions” but that now seems to be quite a dull title. Certainly, we did teach 10 expressions but the title seems a bit boring don’t you think? I’m wondering what to call this episode and I still can’t decide as I’m writing this. I always think that titles of my episodes should describe what is in each episode, and should also be fun and interesting enough to catch your attention. In this case Paul and I teach you ten expressions again, but we also have a chat about our recent news, and get very sidetracked by a negative review on TripAdvisor of one of our recent comedy shows.

The main aim of the episode is to play the vocabulary game and let you understand the meaning of ten English expressions but it also is a chance for us to mess around a bit and talk about other things if we feel like it, especially if it is entertaining or interesting for you.

So, should I call this episode “Another Ten Natural Expressions” or “Ten More Natural Expressions” or “Ten Natural Expressions (Part 2)”? Maybe “Vocabulary Game with Paul Taylor (#2)” is a better title? I can’t decide. I’ll choose the title when I’ve finished writing this and editing the episode together, and whatever title you see at the top of this page is the one I finally went for. I suppose you’ll probably be thinking – “Luke, the title doesn’t really matter. It’s the content that counts.” That’s true of course, but I do think the title is quite important for attracting new listeners to the podcast, and because it helps you to identify the main content of the episode. Let me know what you think about the title of this episode by leaving a comment below.

In This Episode
Anyway, regardless of my indecisiveness about the episode title, here’s what you can expect in this episode.

1. Hi Paul, hi Luke, etc. :)

2. Conditions are almost exactly the same as in the recoding of episode 283. It’s boiling hot. I’m with Paul Taylor. We’re sitting in the shade, mostly, except for my leg which is in direct sunlight again. We’re going to play a vocabulary guessing game like last time we did this (episode 283).

3. What’s new Paul? He’s been doing more comedy gigs. We got a bad review for one of our comedy shows, and we talk about it a little bit. The wording of the review bothers us a bit (also the fact that it’s so negative of course). Here’s a picture of the review (below). What do you think of the description? Ignore the lack of a full-stop at the end of the second sentence. Is the comment slightly ambiguous? What does it really mean? Look at the review and then choose option a) or b).
Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.20.45

One thing’s for sure, this person did NOT enjoy our show! You can’t please all the people all the time, and bad reviews are just a part of putting on comedy shows. So, never mind!

Anyway, in our conversation we use the negative review as a chance to talk about the importance of being dedicated, motivated and positive as a way of pushing through a barrier of resistance that you might experience if you want to really achieve something in life, like becoming a really funny comedian or learning another language to an advanced level.

4. The Ten Fixed Expressions & Vocabulary Guessing Game
The rules of this game are the same as last time. I’ll explain an expression to Paul and he has to guess which one I’m talking about. Listen to my explanations – can you guess the expressions before Paul does?

Here are the ten expressions I explain in the episode. Listen to the episode to get definitions and examples, or just google them for online definitions.

1 all’s well that ends well
2 an eye for an eye (and a tooth for a tooth)
3 and Bob’s your uncle
4 and pigs will fly!
5 that’s another kettle of fish
6 as cheap as chips
7 to ask for trouble
8 to be away with the fairies
9 to be back to square one
10 to be all ears

That’s it!

Listen all the way to the end of the episode to hear some out-takes of my introduction to this episode. What are out-takes? They’re the mistakes that are edited out of the final version of a film, song recording, or in this case a podcast episode. Sometimes it takes me a few attempts to get the introduction right. I might do nearly 10 failed introductions before I finally get it right and continue with the rest of the recording. They’re not normally intended for publication, but sometimes they’re pretty funny so I shared them with you at the end of this episode.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below this episode! Thanks for being awesome listeners and LEPsters and all that. You’re the best. Look forward to more episodes coming soon…

Luke ;)


tenmoreexpressions