Category Archives: Phrasal Verbs

432. British TV: Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares (Part 1) [Video]

Talking about restaurant culture in the UK, an introduction to one of the UK’s most famous chefs and a chance to learn some authentic English from a popular British TV show featuring Gordon Ramsay. Video available. Includes swearing.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello, and welcome back to this podcast for learners of English. Here is a new episode for you to listen to and indeed watch, because I’m videoing this one. You’ll be able to find the video on the page for this episode on my website, or by visiting the YouTube channel for Luke’s English Podcast.

A lot of what I am saying here – particularly in this introduction is written on the page for this episode. So you can read it with me, or check it for certain words you hear me using. The best way to get access to these pages is to subscribe to the mailing list.

In the last episode of this podcast you heard me talking to Amber about restaurants and hotels and some crazy TripAdvisor reviews.

At one point in the episode we talked briefly about Gordon Ramsay – one of the UK’s most famous chefs, and his TV show “Kitchen Nightmares” which was a really popular show in the UK a few years ago, and I thought it could be interesting to do a whole episode about that.

So in this one I’m going to talk a little bit about Gordon Ramsay and then we’re going to listen to some YouTube clips from one of his TV shows and I will help you understand all the language that you’ll hear. No doubt there will be some new vocabulary in the process – probably on the subject of food, cooking, restaurants and kitchens but lots of other natural language that just comes up, including plenty of swearing, because Gordon Ramsay is known for his frequent use of swear words.

Yes, there will be quite a lot of swearing in this episode, and you know my position on this. I’m choosing to show you the language as it is really used and that includes the rude words, but don’t be tempted to start throwing swear words into your everyday English. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that swear words are a short cut to sounding exactly like a native speaker. Often it just gives people a bad impression of you. We’ll go into it more later, because there are quite a lot of unwritten social rules around swearing that you need to be aware of – the main one being, that with swearing it is much much easier to sound rude and inappropriate than it is to sound cool. Think of swearing as a motorbike – you might think it’s cool but unless you really know what you’re doing you’re likely to seriously injure yourself. Similarly, swearing can be cool when it’s done in movies or even by someone like Gordon Ramsay, but if you try and do it in your normal life there’s a good chance you’ll just offend people.

So anyway, we’ll listen to some of the English in these YouTube clips and analyse the things they’re saying so that in the end you can understand it all just like I do, which should help you learn some real English in the process. You’ll also learn a thing or two about restaurant culture in the UK and about Gordon Ramsay who is one of the most well-known people in Britain.

Who is Gordon Ramsay and what’s the TV show?

Gordon James Ramsay, is a British celebrity chef, restaurateur, and television personality.

*Difference between a chef and a cook? Basically, a chef is someone who’s had professional training – at least a culinary degree, but a cook is just someone who cooks food. Both might work in a kitchen, but mainly being a chef is about having the status of culinary qualifications and experience.

Ramsay is one of the most famous chefs in the UK and probably in the world too. He has a reputation for being an excellent restaurateur and chef, and also for his extremely strict and direct style. He’s often very rude, saying exactly what he thinks about the people he’s working with in the strongest most colourful language. Imagine an army captain shouting at a platoon of soldiers during military training, but with really good food.

Ramsay was born in Scotland, but he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is in fact not far from where I grew up in England). So, he is Scottish but doesn’t speak with a Scottish accent.
Ramsay now has restaurants all over the place – in London, in Paris and in New York. During his career he has trained at the highest level with French chefs in the UK and in Paris. He specialises in Italian, French and British recipes, and his cooking is known for being simple, unpretentious, high quality and delicious.

His restaurants have been awarded 16 Michelin stars in total. The term “Michelin Star” is a hallmark of fine dining quality. Michelin stars are very difficult to win and restaurants around the world proudly promote their Michelin Star status if they have one. His signature restaurant, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London, has held 3 Michelin stars since 2001, which is a mark of extremely high quality in restaurant dining.

As well as being a top chef, Ramsay is also a TV presenter. He first appeared on TV in the UK in the late 1990s, and by 2004 Ramsay had become one of the best known celebrity chefs in British popular culture, and, along with other chefs like Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Delia Smith, he has influenced viewers to become more culinarily adventurous.

As a reality TV personality, Ramsay is known for his fiery temper, strict demeanour, and use of expletives. He often makes blunt and controversial comments, including insults and wisecracks about contestants and their cooking abilities.

Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares used to be on British TV a few years ago – probably around 10-15 years ago now. These days you can find most of the episodes on YouTube.

Local restaurants vs manufacturing companies and processed food

Ramsay is actually very passionate about local restaurants in the UK.

In the UK our eating out culture is vibrant and successful but it is being undermined by a number of factors. One is the industrialisation of food culture. THis means that big businesses are involved in preparing food at an industrial level and then selling it to restaurants as part of a large corporate chain.

These chains might be restaurants which are all owned by one company, or food manufacturers who dominate the wholesale market, driving down their prices and pushing out competition such as local producers who sell fresh products.

In these industrial food manufacturing companies, the food is prepared in high quantities and then sold off to other companies and restaurants as part of a corporate supply chain for food.

There’s a big infrastructure for food purchasing in the UK which is dominated by these big food manufacturers. As a result, many smaller restaurants are forced to buy industrialised and mass-produced food because it is cheaper and more convenient than fresh food which you can buy direct from farms or markets.

If you were a struggling restaurant owner in a town in the UK, what would you do? Buy your food fresh from a local producer and then make sure you sell it in a short-term period, or buy similar products from a mass producer but at a lower price, and it’s food which you can store for longer because it has been processed to stay fresh.

In the end, people choose to eat at home, especially during an economic crisis.

So, economic factors are having a negative effect on the restaurant culture in the UK to an extent. Family owned restaurants should be where you get proper traditional and delicious local food, but these restaurants are being squeezed economically and forced to go along with the industrialised food manufacturing process.

Also, there are many chain restaurants which you find on high streets in the UK. These are not locally run, but are owned by big companies who have a single business model which they apply to all their restaurants. The fact that these places are part of a big corporate chain means that they can drive down their prices, making it very hard for local restaurants to be competitive. As a result, these smaller places suffer, struggle and often close down.

Gordon Ramsay believes that these local restaurants are the backbone of our restaurant culture in the UK, and he strongly believes that they need to be supported so they can compete with the corporate chains, and given training so they can serve the best food possible. Essentially that’s the concept behind Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, but also it’s just entertaining watching him shouting at incompetent chefs. You sort of let him get away with the way he bullies people because you believe that really he’s just trying to help them to learn the discipline you need to run a really good restaurant.

But he does seem really passionate about proper restaurant culture in the UK and I like that about him. Even though he’s making this reality show and he’s making money from doing it, I think he really does care about improving restaurant culture in the UK.

On the other hand, he is very good at TV. He knows how to make entertaining TV, and he’s got a good formula for it. Basically, this means that he takes the harsh discipline and the no-nonsense brutally honest approach that he applies to his kitchen management, and uses it when giving feedback to the restaurants which he visits.

Let’s listen to a few scenes and I’m going to make sure you understand everything that’s going on and everything that’s being said.

Let’s learn English with Gordon Ramsay

The TV Show

Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares used to be on UK TV about 10-15 years ago.
The format is this – Gordon Ramsay visits a failing restaurant somewhere in the UK. So, restaurants that are failing – e.g. losing money, getting terrible reviews etc. He goes into the restaurant and spends a week there, observing the way the owners run the kitchen, how the business works and what’s going on at all levels. Usually he starts by sitting down to eat the chef’s speciality dish, and it’s nearly always disgusting, and Ramsay comments on how it tastes, how it looks, and also the decor of the restaurant and the service from the staff.

Then Ramsay gives his feedback to the owner and the chef, and it’s always a massive reality check, and it usually involves very strong words and lots of swearing. This is what happens when a top-level chef enters the world of a crappy low-level restaurant.

Then over the course of the week, Gordon helps the managers turn the restaurant around. It’s almost always a huge challenge and often the most difficult part is dealing with the psychological aspects – the stubborn chefs, the relationship issues in the kitchen, the fact that these people have personal issues which are causing the business to go horribly wrong.

It is car-crash TV. We see arguments, meltdowns, unhappy customers and so on.
In almost every episode Gordon seems to go hopping mad as he can’t believe the incompetence or shockingly low standards of service shown by the people in the restaurant. He then tries to help them change everything and turn the business around. It all makes really great telly.

And by the end of the episode, with Gordon’s help they have usually turned the restaurant into a successful business again.

There’s a UK version and a US version.

If you search for Kitchen Nightmares on YouTube you will probably find the US version first, but I think the UK version is better!

But really, it is better because the US version is horrible. It’s full of really fast editing and there’s loads of music which is added in order to tell you how you should be feeling about what’s happening. It’s distracting and patronising.

Example of the US version (just listen to all the distracting sound effects and music)

The UK version just has some rock music in the background at the start, but then during the show it’s more simple and you can just focus on what’s happening without constant sweeping sounds and tense music.

Let’s listen to some scenes from one of the episodes.

These scenes actually come from an episode called “Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Nightmares” which was shown on TV between series 5 and 6 of Kitchen Nightmares. It’s basically the same as any other episode of the series.

Gordon Ramsay’s Great British Nightmare – Dovecote Bistro

Summary
Gordon goes to visit a restaurant in Devon called Dovecote Bistro, which is run by a guy called Mick.
Mick is a former truck driver and burger van operator who has opened this bistro with his wife and adopted daughter, Michelle. Ramsay is firstly appalled by the psychedelic wallpaper decorating the restaurant, and then his attention turns to the food and the way it is cooked. While Ramsay is impressed with the simple menu, he is furious to find that Mick has very little cooking ability, using orange squash to make a sauce and using vacuum-sealed pre-cooked lamb shanks in a microwave bag. Not only does he show little responsibility in the kitchen, he is also secretive with his spending and is hugely in debt. Mick is adamant that the problems in the kitchen are not his fault, and his stubbornness causes a rift with his wife and daughter. Ramsay solves the crisis by taking the business matters out of Mick’s hands and kicks him out of the kitchen. His daughter, Michelle, is placed in charge of the kitchen despite having no cooking experience. She rises to the challenge, and while Mick is not convinced over replacing his microwave food, the reopening is a success.
Months later, Ramsay returns to find that the restaurant is making profit. He sent Michelle for further culinary training, and she impresses Ramsay with freshly cooked food.
The restaurant was renamed Martins’ Bistro during production.

Video 1 – Flourescent duck cooked in orange squash

Vocabulary

Let’s see what this ex-trucker can do
Lamb shanks
Fuck me! (surprise / shock)
Your blouse matches the wallpaper
I feel like I’m tripping out!
I’ve never touched the stuff but I feel like I just swallowed an E.
The hideous wallpaper
On paper it looks delicious
Orange squash
A spoonful of gravy
Fuck me do I need sunglasses!
That’s worse than fucking Benylin
They’re actually vacuum packed
They can last for about a year
They’re bought in, they’re vacuum packed
They’ve got a shelf life of about a year
Well, fuck me!
That might be the worst food I’ve ever come across
He might be beyond my help
It doesn’t need refrigerating
How in the fuck could you charge 11 pounds for that?
E numbers, like Tartrazine
Do you feel like having a shit?
Thank fuck I didn’t eat it.
I’m surprised you haven’t killed off half the population of Okehampton

End of part 1 – part 2 available very soon!

429. RAMBLENEWS!

A video is available for this episode (see below). Here is an episode with some rambling about recent news, LEPster meetups, transcript project team, listener comments & questions, teaching phrasal verbs with ‘in on’ and some music. This episode is also on YouTube. See below for details.

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Video (with some extra content)

Links

Moscow LEPster Conversation Club on Facebook www.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425/

Tokyo LEPsters 3rd Meetup www.facebook.com/events/1850850918464336/

A Phrasal Verb a Day teacherluke.co.uk/archive-of-episodes-1-149/phrasal-verb-a-day/

Introduction

I’m just checking in on you. How are you? I’m videoing this one. You can see it on the page for this episode, or on YouTube. I might do this more often if I can. (more about this later)

Are you growing a beard?
I’m not really doing anything! It’s just coming out of my face.
Someone in one of my classes said to me “Oh you’re wearing a beard!” – we don’t really saying this. You might say “Oh you’ve grown a beard!” or “Oh, you’ve got a beard”.

Here’s an overview of stuff I’m going to talk about in this episode

  • Some news, some admin, some language tips, some phrasal verbs and probably some rambling!
  • LEPster get togethers in Moscow and Tokyo
  • The pros and cons of uploading LEP videos onto YouTube
  • A quick reminder about The Transcript Collaboration
  • Playing the podcast at different speeds
  • Some recent comments from the website and other places
  • A question about phrasal verbs with ‘in’ and ‘on’
  • An update about a phrasal verb a day
  • A song on the guitar
  • Plus the usual rambling and stuff!

A lot of what I’m reading is written on the page for this episode, so check it out.
Also, if you’re transcribing – don’t forget to check the page for the episode because some content might already be written there and you can copy it into the transcript.

LEPster get togethers

Moscow

Moscow LEPsters – every weekend in cool anticafes where you pay a fixed price and then get as much tea, coffee and cake as you can stuff into your face. Sounds cool.

You can see from the FB pics that these spaces are interesting – one of them has a big lizard in a glass tank (like an aquarium, not a tank for war).

Click here for the FB page for the Moscow LEPsters Conversational Club

Alex (one of the Moscow LEPsters) sent me a message. It was his birthday and he asked me if I could talk to them for a few minutes. It looked like – or sounded like they were in a Russian sauna or something (!) but they were just crowded around the phone.

  • Alex said “You look good in the frame” – The phrases in English would be: ‘Photogenic’, ‘the camera loves you’, ‘you look good on camera’
  • I didn’t tell Alexander to say that thing about italki – but it’s true!
  • “Mafia” sounds like a fun game. They played the Lying Game the previous week.

Doing YouTube videos

Advantages

  • There’s a much bigger audience there. As Alexander said, many people don’t know what podcasts are (or how to spell or pronounce “podcast” either). He’s right, it’s still a bit of a niche, which I quite like in a way – if you’re taking the time to find this, get it on your phone and listen to it, it probably means you’re the sort of person who will like it, and YouTube is full of lots of general viewers who might discover my videos without really knowing what it’s all about, and they might not be the sorts of people who want to listen to me – but that’s a bit negative isn’t it. I’m sure there are plenty of people on YouTube who could like what I do, so I should try it more. Lots of YouTubers get high numbers of views. It could be successful for me. I could reach an even bigger audience.
  • Some people prefer to watch, like visual learners etc. You can see my mouth moving and my body language. We know that the majority of the message we communicate is visual, so it might be good to see the way I move, the expressions on my face and so on.

Disadvantages

  • Video is much more complex, inconvenient and time-consuming to produce. It takes up much more storage space and processing space on my computer. It slows down my computer a lot. I prefer audio for that reason – it cuts down the time I have to spend on this and allows me to produce more work.
  • It can actually be a distraction from the language. Ultimately, I want you to focus on the spoken language and not get too distracted by the things you can see.
  • But when possible I will try to video myself doing podcasts. Like Alex said, it shouldn’t require much extra effort to have the camera running while I’m talking and then upload the video straight onto YouTube, except that I won’t have the option to edit the video – as soon as I start trying to edit a 1hr video, everything takes absolutely ages.
  • Perhaps I should also do more short videos on YouTube, rather than just the . It’s something I am thinking about certainly.
  • Another thing I’ve been asked about is whether I’ve considered doing Facebook Live or Instagram Live videos. I keep thinking about doing that and I really should. I’m basically in the habit of doing the audio podcast and it’s working really well for me. BUt from time to time it would be cool to do FB live (I don’t have Instagram) and just hang out with some of my listeners. Some of you will be thinking – but I don’t have FB or Instagram! I’d have to video myself doing it on a separate camera and then upload that to YouTube. You wouldn’t be able to send comments and likes during the video, but you’d at least be able to watch it.

Facebook page for Moscow LEPsters: www.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425/

Tokyo!

Tokyo LEPsters are getting together on 3 March. Click here for the FB page!
www.facebook.com/events/1850850918464336/

We’re still coming to Tokyo in April – first and foremost it’s a holiday, because I’ve always wanted to show Japan to my wife who has never been, and I haven’t been back since 2005. But I am hoping to do a gig there, perhaps on the evening of Saturday 15th April.

Transcript collaboration

re-establish the rules and the benefits, and answer a few common questions.
How does it work
Rules on the page
Leave messages next to your chunks
Everyone has access to all the scripts, including the ones that are fully transcribed now.

Play the podcast at different speeds!

At 0.5x speed – I sound totally drunk.

Comments on the website

The comment section is alive with conversation these days in a way that’s never happened before. This is largely due to a few listeners like Cat, Nick, Eri, Antonio, Jack and Hiro who have been very chatty there recently – but also because of other listeners who drop in and leave comments – which is lovely to see and it’s adding some lively conversation and extra content under each episode because people are sharing videos, thoughts, pictures and other content.

Phrasal Verb Question

Frank asked me about the expression ‘in on’

Would you do me a favour? Can you sometime explain the usage of the expression “in on”? I don’t know in what cases it’s appropriate and why it is used in that way.
The last time I came across with it, was when I watched the first movie of Grey’s Anatomy. The young doctors, who came fresh from the university to the hospital in Seattle to work there, were welcomed by the director with the words: “Each of you comes here today hopeful, wanting in on the game.”

This expression is a little confusing to me. Usually, we use in or on in a sentence. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the other example I have seen it. I hope this makes more sense for you. Thank you for all your effort.

Have a great weekend!

Response

“In on” doesn’t mean anything really. It’s all about how that combines with other parts of the sentence.

At the beginning of this episode I said “I just want to check in on you and see how you’re doing”

Don’t focus on ‘in on’. You need to focus on “check in on you” or “check in on someone”.

So this is not about the meaning of the prepositions ‘in and on’ but the meaning and grammar of verbs, like “Check in on”.

Some people say this is a phrasal verb, or a multi-word verb, or an intransitive prepositional phrasal verb. To be honest we could spend ages trying to categorise this kind of grammar/vocabulary, to get exactly the correct term for these slightly different types of verbs – there are many different names in different books, and I guarantee that if we did spend loads of time defining what a phrasal verb is and what they should be called, it will just give you a headache. Phrasal verbs are notoriously difficult to understand from a grammatical point of view and as a result people don’t really agree on what to call them. Type 1 phrasal verbs, type 2 phrasal verbs, separable phrasal verbs, inseparable phrasal verbs, transitive or intransitive, prepositional verbs, intransitive non-separable idiomatic particalized verb phrases! Let’s just call them bastards, ok.

Because they are bastards, certainly when you first encounter them properly – I mean, they’re difficult and tricky, so they can seem like bastards if you’re learning the language or trying to teach it.

When you first encounter them, they can seem like bastards. Of course, once you get beyond that feeling and you learn a few phrasal verbs and get comfortable using them, they become less like bastards and more like slight bastards and then not bastards at all, and eventually you can call them your friends.

You’re already friends with some of them. E.g. “Take off” “Give up” “Shut up” “Carry on” “Find out” – you probably know all of those and you’ve discovered that they’re not really that bad. They’re pretty cool actually. And you have a sort of deep respect for them after a while, to the point at which you can call them bastards again, but in a good way. Like, “you cool bastard” or “Ah, you’old bastard you! Come here ya bastard! How have you been!?”

Anyway – ‘in on’. Let’s have a look.

The phrase you quoted from Grey’s Anatomy was “Each of you comes here today hopeful, wanting in on the game.” The director of the hospital is giving a speech to the new trainee doctors.

This phrase “To want in on something” means to want to be part of something, to want a piece of something, to want to be involved in something.”

E.g. “I’m putting together a team of people for a bank job. We’ve found out that 100 million dollars in diamonds is being delivered to the city bank next month, and we’re going to take it. We’ve got an inside man at the bank. Everything’s cleared. Security’s been paid off. We need a driver and some muscle to carry the bags and take the money to the safe house. Who wants in? Who wants in on this job?”

Some phrasal verbs have ‘in on’ as part of the phrase.

Copy me in on any correspondence (copy me in) – to be included in the email chain (to be CCd)
I want in on this job (to want in) – to want to be included in the job.
Are you in on the joke? (to be in on a joke) – to be included in the joke.
It took me ages to catch on to what he was talking about. (to catch on)
I’m just checking in on you. (to check in on someone) – suggests visiting a person to check how they are doing – also used for phone calls. Imagine popping into someone’s office and saying “How are you guys doing? I just thought I’d check in on you, see if you need anything.”

Mainly these are intransitive phrasal verbs with a dependent preposition.

Now, verbs in English aren’t always one word. Sometimes they’re two or even three words. We have a lot of verb phrases, also called phrasal verbs.

Just like normal verbs, some phrasal verbs are intransitive.

Intransitive means the verb doesn’t need an object.

Comment – would you like to comment?
Participate – I’ll participate.
Object – He strongly objected.
Complain – She didn’t like it. She complained.

But if you add an object you have to use a preposition.
Comment – would you like to comment? Would you like to comment on the game?
Participate – I’ll participate. I’ll participate in the workshop.
Object – She strongly objected. She strongly objected to the decision.
Complain – She didn’t like it. She complained. She complained about the changes.

This works with some phrasal verbs too.
E.g.
Copy in.
Catch on.
Drop in.
Talk back.

When you add an object, you need another preposition.
Could you copy me in on the email.
Did you catch on to the secret plan.
Shall we drop in on Jeff in his new flat?
What do I have to do to keep ahead of the competition?
The teachers hate it when Dave talks back to them.

So, in the end, I would suggest that you try to learn this kind of language as a chunk of vocabulary and choose not to be too distracted by the vocabulary.

So, try to notice all the phrasal verbs in this paragraph.

“I’m just checking in on you. Just thought I’d drop in on you, just to see how you’re getting on with the project. I’m really glad to see you working hard on this one. It’s exactly the sort of thing we need to do in order to keep ahead of the competition. Make sure you keep copying me in on all the email correspondence with the clients and suppliers so that I can keep up to date with all the work that you’re doing, while I sit in my office smoking a cigar and watching the cricket, ok?”

You’ll see that written on the page for this episode. Try to learn them and add them to your active vocabulary.

A Phrasal Verb a Day

I haven’t done one of those episodes for months. The reason is that it’s hard to get back into the habit, and because there isn’t enough incentive for me to keep doing them.

Hi I’ve started listening to your phrasal verb podcast. I found that It is the perfect content to study by myself since I can use phrasal verbs in my real life right after listening to it. I can rather easily find written version of phrasal verb list but actually listening to your explanation is better for me to understand and memorize it.
Though It’s a shame that you couldn’t reach your goal, which is making 365 list of it. but I also understand It will be very hard for you to carry on this without any sponsorship. I actually think this content is worth to pay, you might want to publish it through another platform.
Thank you again^^
DY from Korea.

Even though episodes are short, it does take quite a lot of time – I have to create lots of pages on my site, manage transcripts for each one, and it’s taking time and I have to wonder what’s in it for me?

Click here for A Phrasal Verb a Day – Episode Archive

Spotify playlist

Song

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (Part 1) – Lyrics

 

 

346. Rambling on a Friday Afternoon

Phrasal Verbs & Idioms / More NY Stories / Politics / Leicester City / Google Adverts
Welcome back to another podcast episode. It’s nice to be back in your headphones or speakers. In the last episode of this podcast I talked to you about some recent bits and pieces such as the ELTon award nomination, my recent trip to New York and some other stuff. I also gave you a language task to keep you on your toes. I’m going to continue along the same lines in this episode and I have a list of things here to talk about and we’re going to continue with the language spotting exercise.

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It’s a Friday afternoon, I’ve just seen the latest Marvel movie, the weather is mad, and I’m going to talk to you about various things again but first I’ve got to respond to a couple of comments that have arrived here on my website in just the last hour.

Phrasal Verbs & Idioms Listed Below

But first…

Some comments from listeners

Abensour • 4 minutes ago
Hello Luke, Your podcast is fantastic.
Nevertheless, could you please speak a bit faster. I guess you must lower the pace when you record your podcasts and it would be very interesting to hear you with your natural english speaking pace.

Jeremie • 1 minute ago
By the way, I am a french listener as well! :)

Wesley
Hello Luke and LEP listeners,
It’s with absolute delight that I receive the news that LEP has been nominated for the 2016 ELTons and I genuinely believe other long-term listeners share the same feeling. The British Council and Cambridge English couldn’t have a better candidate for the Digital Innovation category.
One thing that troubled me though was when Luke said it was unlikely that he could win. Luke, I don’t know if you’re being far too English or just trying to be modest but, as I see it, you shouldn’t take this defeatist attitude and underestimate yourself. As you said, LEP is a project you have been working on for over seven years and it keeps getting better as time goes on. Because you’re kind-hearted and keep LEP free, people all over the world listen to you. Your episodes have millions of downloads and are a complete success and, even though you’re up against five other great nominees, I cannot conceive why LEP might not be in the running for the award.
LEP is innovative because it allows learners to listen to genuine English – rambling included – outside a classroom environment. Everyone who has reached a proficient level knows how important being in touch with the language is in order to learn it well. LEP is great because it enables us to hear natural English for pleasure and entertainment or while doing housework, cooking and commuting to college. I am not aware of any other equivalent English teaching resource that suits our busy lives just as well as LEP. I believe any sensible judge on the panel will allow for all those reasons when they vote.
I wish you luck and I’ll keep my fingers crossed.
All the best,
Wesley

Language Task – Spot the Phrasal Verbs & Idioms

So, that language task from the previous episode was to listen out for a few phrasal verbs and idioms that I’d taken randomly from a dictionary and which I tried to insert into my speech, seamlessly. You had to identify the ones I had added. The purpose of that is to encourage you to notice lexical items – to notice vocabulary. It’s a good habit for a learner of English. On one hand just follow what I’m saying and connect with that, but also try to notice features of the language you’re listening to. That’s what I’m encouraging you to do.

I chose 5 phrasal verbs and 5 idioms and I managed to slip in just one of those phrasal verbs and two of the idioms.
Remember what they were?

There was “to come up against” something.
Also, “to be on the edge of your seat”
and “to get your knickers in a twist”

There were also plenty of other bits of vocabulary which just cropped up in the episode, including these ones:
– to listen out for something
– to watch out and look out for something (not too complicated)
– to keep your eyes peeled
– to prick up your ears

So, as we move forwards now, watch out for the 4 remaining phrasal verbs and 3 remaining idioms. I’m not telling you what they are in advance. It’s up to you to identify them. You’ll probably hear a few phrasal verbs and idioms, but which are the ones that I took from the dictionary? When we get to the end of this episode I’ll tell you the phrases, and clarify them for you, because I’m nice.

Keep reading – the phrasal verbs and idioms are listed below.

Topics in Today’s Ramble

In this one I’m going to carry on just talking about various subjects, including a couple of other anecdotes about New York, some comments about politics in the USA and in the UK at the moment, some more rambling about movies, and various other bits and pieces that will crop up as we go along.

I’ve got no idea how long this is going to take of course! I could talk the hind legs off a donkey this afternoon, but as ever I’ll just divide the whole thing into several more episodes if necessary. Ultimately – it’s all spoken English from me to you, so here we go…

Some more anecdotes about the time spent in NYC
– The hasidic jews jamming in the music store

– Jack Whitehall at the Comedy Cellar

– Billy Cobham at the Blue Note

Politics
The American presidential elections – Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton
London Mayor – Sadiq Khan is the new mayor
The EU referendum / Brexit
The Panama papers
These are very important political issues that really deserve to be covered in proper depth, and I plan to do that.
I’m particularly keen to talk about Brexit in one more special Brexit themed episodes.
Leicester City won the Premiership.
Small club, 5000-1 odds of winning. The title has been dominated by the big names. Leicester is in the East Midlands and it’s less famous than a lot of the other big cities in England but this is going to help. All in all it’s just fantastic to see a smaller club win this title. They were absolutely fantastic.

Google Adverts
I bought some new trainers online and now the internet is madly trying to get me to buy them again. WTF?

Movies
I’ve just seen the new Marvel movie and also there’s a new Star Wars film coming this Christmas, but that’s going to come in another episode soon…

The Phrasal Verbs & Idioms – Definitions and Examples

Thank you to a LEPster called Valeriya for writing these vocabulary notes in the comment section for the benefit of all listeners.

Valeriya: I wrote some notes. Hope they will be useful for the LEPstors.

to ease off/up – to gradually stop or become less
e.g. At last the rain began to ease off.
e.g. I am leaving soon, but I am just waiting for the traffic to ease off a bit.

to ease off/up – to start to work less or do things with less energy
e.g. As he got older, he started to ease up a little.

to ease off/up – to start to treat someone less severely
e.g. I wish his supervisor would ease up on him a bit.

to fork out (on something) – spend a lot of money on something, probably spend a lot of money in one go in order to buy something; to spend a bunch of money on something in one purchase
e.g. If you advertise nice guitars to me for a long enough period of time, eventually I will fork out on a new guitar.

to splash out (on something) – spend a lot of money on something; to spend a lot of money on something which you want but do not need
e.g. He splashed out on the best champagne for the party.

to go down with something – you catch an illness, you get sick; you become sick; to start to suffer from an infectious disease
e.g. Half of Martha’s class has gone down with flu.

to come down with something – to get an illness; заболеть чем-либо
I came down with the flu at Christmas.
e.g. You need to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, so you’ve got lots of vitamins, because if you don’t, you might come down with a cold.

to bring the house down – if someone or something brings the house down during a play or show, they make the people watching it laugh or clap very loudly; you make everyone laugh as part of a performance; to put on a really great performance and to be a huge hit; to make a group of people or an audience react in a very enthusiastic way, especially by laughing
e.g. I saw Jack Whitehall at the Comedy Cellar, and he absolutely brought the house down.

to go on the offensive – you begin to take strong action against people who have been attacking you
e.g. The West African forces went on the offensive in response to attacks on them.

to go on the offensive – to begin to attack or criticize someone who you think is attacking you
Under pressure from his critics, the minister decided to go on the offensive.
Luke was going on the offensive about Google’s Advertising.

to go on the defensive – in an attitude or position of defense, as in being ready to reject criticism; you start defending yourself or something
e.g. He’s so sensitive. Whenever you give him any feedback he immediately goes on the defensive.

to take/bring somebody down a peg or two – to do something to show someone that they are not as good as they thought they were; to lower someone’s high opinion of themselves
e.g. He’s one of these super-confident types who really needs to be brought down a peg or two.

to dabble in something – to try an activity but not seriously, just as an experiment to see if you like it. To do something for a short time, or not regularly, in order to see if you like it. To do something sometimes, but not in a fully serious way, only in a casual way.
e.g. He dabbled in left-wing politics at university.

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

316. British Comedy: Tim Vine (Part 2)

Listen to Luke explain the rest of Tim Vine’s stand up routine from the video “One Night Stand”. Learn some natural phrases and bridge the linguistic and cultural gap between you and native speakers of English. Click here to listen to part 1 of this episode. Watch the video below.

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British Comedy: Tim Vine (part 2)
In episode 313 I played you part of a ten minute stand up routine by Tim Vine, who is a much loved British stand up comedian who specialises in telling one liners – those are very short jokes which usually involve some kind of word-play.
I played you 3 minutes of Tim’s routine.
I expect you didn’t get all the jokes.
I explained them all for you.
I expect you still didn’t find them all funny because explaining a joke often kills the humour of the joke.
BUT at least you learned a lot of language in the process.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s difficult to understand jokes in another language. You might go to a comedy show or watch it on TV and everyone else laughs but you’re the only one who has no clue what’s going on. This is because there’s a linguistic and cultural gap between you and everyone else who gets the jokes. Maybe it’s hard for you to hear exactly what’s been said as the lines of a joke are usually delivered quickly and with naturalistic speech patterns. Also, there’s the general cultural difference, which includes certain reference points but also the general mindset of British humour, like the fact that we enjoy laughing at ourselves, and we also enjoy the ironic fun of self-consciously bad jokes. I’m interested in closing that linguistic and cultural gap. The result, I hope, will be that you’ll learn some key bits of language and culture, and you’ll be a few steps closer to understanding natural British English like a native speaker.

In episode 313 I promised that I’d play you all of Tim Vine’s routine and explain it all. In fact, I only managed to get through 3 minutes in that episode. You might be wondering – what about the rest of Tim Vine’s routine? I want to understand that too! Well, that’s what I’m going to do now. In fact, I had one Japanese listener in particular who was very keen to hear me explain the rest of the routine. I’m sorry – I can’t remember your name or how you got in contact with me – it could have been an email, a FB message, a comment on the website, a tweet or some other way. I can’t keep up with the different ways people contact me sometimes – so if you don’t get a reply, I’m very sorry. My email address and other inboxes are often completely swamped by different notifications and messages. I do read everything, but then I don’t always get the chance to immediately respond, and then the message just gets forgotten about. So, I’m sorry if you have contacted me and I haven’t replied.

Anyway, this particular listener was quite desperate to understand the rest of Tim Vine’s routine, so here we go.

Bear in mind that there are some visual jokes in the routine and you’ll have to watch the video to really get them. I’ll explain it all for you step by step in just a moment. This routine is about 10 minutes in total. We’ll start by listening to the first 3 minutes again, which should work as a reminder of what you heard before. Then I’ll let you listen to the next 3 minutes, then I’ll pause it and explain everything before letting you hear the rest of the routine with my explanations.

OK? Got it? OK, let’s go. And remember, if you don’t understand anything at all – just hang in there because all will be explained in the fullness of time.

Let’s go. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome onto the stage again, the one and only, Mr Tim Vine – let’s hear it for Tim Vine everybody! Take it away Tim!!!

Full video: Tim Vine – One Night Stand

275. The Phrasal Verb Chronicles #2

100 episodes ago I recorded The Phrasal Verb Chronicles #1 – remember that? The point of that episode was to improvise a made-up story as a way of reviewing the first 50 phrasal verbs from my other podcast which is called A Phrasal Verb A Day. I had to just come up with a random story, and add in a load of phrasal verbs. Your task was to try and spot the phrasal verbs as I used them, while also following the story. It’s time to do it again because I’ve done over 100 episodes of A Phrasal Verb A Day. So now, in this episode I’m going to attempt to improvise another story using phrasal verbs #51-100. Click here to listen to The Phrasal Verb Chronicles #1.

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Click here to visit Luke’s English Podcast on iTunes and leave a review. :)
Click here to visit A Phrasal Verb a Day on iTunes and leave a review. :)

A quick note about A Phrasal Verb a Day
Do you know about my other podcast? It’s a real thing, there are currently about 107 episodes available free for you. You can find all the details, every episode and the RSS feed and iTunes links on teacherluke.co.uk. Just click “A Phrasal Verb a Day” in the menu. You can also find it in iTunes. I started it at the beginning of last year and my aim was to record an episode every day. I managed to keep up that rhythm of one a day for the first few months, but then I found that I couldn’t keep doing them every day. So, the recording and uploading of APVAD has become very sporadic as my daily routine has been really hectic (as usual). But, it is still alive and kicking and I plan to go back to it regularly to upload more episodes. Eventually, the plan is to hit 365 episodes and then it will be finished. In each episode I teach you a different phrasal verb, give you explanations and provide loads of examples of the different meanings and other things you should know. There are also transcripts for all 104 episodes (to date). Phrasal verbs are a vitally important part of fluent and natural sounding English, and are often one of the hardest aspects of the language to learn. You can use my series as a way to get a grip on this difficult aspect of English. Listening to my short phrasal verb episodes regularly can make a really big difference to your English learning, so if you haven’t already done so I recommend that you check it out today. Teacherluke.co.uk and then click A PHRASAL VERB A DAY in the menu, or just google “A Phrasal Verb a Day”. You can subscribe to it in iTunes, download them, listen to them on my website or whatever is most convenient for you – just like episodes of Luke’s English Podcast.

Now, back to this episode.
It’s important to review vocabulary – it’s vital to go over language again and again and we also know that it’s important to get vivid and meaningful connections to words to help you remember them. Hopefully this story will help that process.

I’ve already gone through meanings and explanations of all these phrases in each phrasal verb episode. If you want to go back and study them in more detail, you can just go back to those individual little episodes – the links to all of them are available on the page for this episode. You’ll see a list, and you can click on each phrasal verb to listen to that episode.

In this episode let’s focus on you just noticing these phrases as they are used in natural speech within the context of a story. You’re going to play a game of Vocab Hunter! (exciting) Does that help to make it interesting? If you need extra excitement you can imagine you’re shooting the vocab from the sky whenever you hear it. You can even do a hand gesture, like you’re shooting a gun, like ‘pow’ every time you hear one. Obviously, watch out if you do that on public transport. People tend to be a bit funny about people pretending to shoot imaginary words that only they can see, while on a bus surrounded by people – but on the plus side, you’ll probably get an empty seat next to you and plenty of space to stretch out and really relax while you listen to this episode and play vocab hunter.

Anyway, as I was saying, it’s important to get used to noticing language as it is being used in context, rather than just being spoon fed vocabulary bit by bit, by a teacher, in a slightly mechanical way. Ultimately, it really helps you pick up language when you actually hear it being used to serve a communicative purpose. So your challenge in this episode is just to try to follow the story while noticing 50 phrasal verbs as they’re being used. The phrasal verbs will appear in alphabetical order. In fact, there may be more than 50 as I’m sure other phrasal verbs will just naturally crop up in my speech (there was one already – to crop up).

My challenge is just try try and make this a coherent story, while including all the phrasal verbs. I have no idea where my story is going to go! I just hope that it all makes sense and that I find a way to use every single phrasal verb in order.

It’s going to be difficult, it’s going to be fun and I hope you enjoy the story. I will go through the list when I’ve finished so you will know which ones you should have noticed. Remember, the list of these phrasal verbs, with mini podcast episodes explaining each one, is available on the page for this episode.

So, let’s begin the phrasal verb chronicles, episode two – phrasal verbs 51-100.


phrasalverbchronicles2.2

239. Prepositions: Verb Collocations

In the last episode I attempted to explain ways that prepositions are used in English, and I failed because I wasn’t prepared. I managed to get across the idea that prepositions are complicated because they’re used in combination with other words, and that you have to remember vocabulary in ‘chunks’ but the idea was also to present you with some useful lists of preposition collocations. This time around I’ve done some more preparation. I’ve spent a bit more time on it and so for round 2 I think we should get a proper grip on the subject, while also having some fun noticing prepositions in an improvised story. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonWe all know that prepositions are one of the most difficult aspects of English grammar and vocabulary. That’s also why they’re hard to teach. They don’t conform to easy-to-teach rules, like other aspects of grammar. Instead, it’s about patterns and collocations. So, often the best way to learn these collocations is to see them as chunks of vocabulary, and try to notice them as they are used naturally. In this episode the idea is to give you a chance to do that by listening to a made-up story which includes loads of verb + preposition collocations.

Some Facts
Let me break it down in a simple way. Here are some “facts” about prepositions.
1. A preposition is always followed by a noun or something like a noun (e.g. a gerund or a noun phrase).
2. We use prepositions to talk about time, position and movement – and these are the easy ones. For example, “The cat is on the chair, the mouse is under the table, the monkey is on the branch. I’ll see you on Sunday at 3 o’clock. The train went into the station. The monkey fell out of the tree. The cat jumped off the chair.” etc etc. These are ‘easy’ because the prepositions seem to have specific meanings of their own, and they don’t change depending on which noun or verb you’re using.
3. The more difficult part is the way we use prepositions to attach nouns to other parts of the sentence. Prepositions tend to collocate with different adjectives, verbs and nouns. For example we say “He’s been accused of murder” and “I’m accustomed to the smell from the restaurant downstairs” and “This flat has really good access to the underground station”. What does collocate mean? It means that these words ‘just go together’. They’re friends. They always hang out with each other. Why? That’s the difficult thing to explain. I’d say – don’t focus on the individual meanings of prepositions. Instead focus on the way they just collocate with other words, and then learn those words together. So, don’t just learn the word “accuse” but learn the phrase “to accuse someone of something”. Don’t just learn the word “doubtful” but learn the phrase “doubtful about”, don’t just learn the word “comply” but learn the phrase “to comply with” and also the noun “compliance” and “to be in compliance with”.
4. Prepositions can be hard to hear because of the way they’re pronounced. They’re not usually the ‘meaning words’ in sentences, and so they can be pronounced using ‘weak forms’ of pronunciation (schwa sounds). Pay attention to the way prepositions are pronounced by native speakers in fluent speech.

There are 4 key points about prepositions, and also reasons why they’re tricky for learners of English.

Sorry.

Really, I am sorry. This makes life much more difficult for you, but you must get used to it right here and now. Accept that you’re now learning phrases, and once you’ve accepted that, every step you’ll take from now on will be in the right direction.

So, it’s these preposition collocations which are the tricky things. Learners of English struggle to know which preposition to use in the right moments. Sometimes these are influenced by the first language. For example, many French people say “It depends of…” e.g. “It depends of the cost” and of course it should be “it depends on the cost”. Watch out for the L1 influence.

What can you do?
– When you’re learning words – don’t learn them in isolation. See how they connect with other words in a sentence. Remember the prepositions that go with them. This will actually help you to become more fluent as prepositions are good transition words. They help you turn individual words into phrases, and those phrases into full sentences.
– Notice when you listen. Just pay attention to the preposition collocations you hear.
– Listen a lot and read a lot. Eventually, a lot of the most common preposition collocations will just go into your subconscious after being exposed to them so many times. After a while you’ll develop an instinct for the right collocation.
– Check out some lists to help you. You could test yourself by looking at some collocation lists (e.g. on this page). Cover the preposition and then try to remember it. Say it out loud. Check your answer. Say the phrase (it’s important that it passes through your mouth, and across your lips). Make full sentences, in different tenses in order to practise.
– Listen to Luke’s English Podcast (of course!)

Let me explain my approach for this episode of the podcast.
In this episode I’m planning to do this:
– I’ve prepared fairly long lists of common collocations with prepositions. Verb + prep, adjective + prep and noun + prep lists. You can check them out on the webpage if you like. Those lists are really useful in themselves. So this is already a really useful resource.
– I’m not just going to read out the lists. That would be boring and not that useful.
– I’m going to try and just make up some kind of story – completely improvise it – and use as many of the preposition collocations as I can. Try to notice them. You could go through the list and kind of ‘tick’ them off as you hear them, or try to notice them without the list.
– Bear in mind that the story is completely made up. The main thing is I want to keep it fun and interesting, while also presenting some language to you.
– There are 3 lists. They’re all quite long. I don’t know how much I can achieve in one episode. I might end up dividing this into three stories. One for verb + prep collocations, one for adj + prep and one for noun + prep. We’ll see.
– When I’ve finished I’ll go through the lists, and I’ll give you a chance to test yourselves.
– Then you can revise by testing yourselves using the lists, you can write your own stories using the prepositions and vocabulary, or you could record yourself reading or improvising a story. Don’t worry if you can’t improvise. That’s a different thing altogether. You should try to produce meaningful sentences using these phrases though. It’ll help you to remember them. Try to make your sentences personalised and very vivid – that’ll help you remember them all.
– You’ll also be picking up vocabulary here from the verbs, adjectives and nouns that collocate with all these prepositions. Just google them or look them up in a dictionary if you don’t know what they mean. I’m not explaining word meanings here, just presenting language.

That’s it!

Verb + Preposition
Let’s go with the first story.oldbaileycourt-room
*Start by opening your eyes – you’re standing in a courtroom. You ask the lawyer what’s going on. You’ve been accused of stealing a biscuit. You’ve got no idea what happened. Then the judge comes in…*

accuse (someone) of ([doing] something)
add (something) to (something else)
admire (someone) for ([doing] something)
agree on (topic)
agree with (someone)
apologise to (someone) for ([doing] something)
apply to (a place) for (something)
approve of (something)
argue with (someone) about (topic)
arrive at (a building, room, site, event)
arrive in (a city, country)
ask (someone) about (someone/topic)
ask (someone) for (something)
believe in (something)
belong to (someone)
blame (someone) for ([doing] something)
borrow (something) from (someone)
care about (someone/something/topic)
comment on (topic)
compare (something) to/with (something else)
complain to (someone) about (something)
concentrate on ([doing] something)
congratulate (someone) for/on ([doing] something)
consist of (some things)
consent to ([doing] something)
contribute to (something)
count on (someone) to (do something)
cover (something) with (something else)
decide on (topic)
depend on (someone) for (something)
discuss (something) with (someone)
distinguish (something) from (something else)
dream about/of (someone/something)
escape from (somewhere)
explain (topic) to (someone)
excuse (someone) for ([doing] something)
forgive (someone for ([doing] something)
get rid of (something)
graduate from (a place)
happen to (someone)
help (someone) with (something)
hide (something) from (someone)
insist (up)on (something)
introduce (someone) to (someone else)
invite (someone) to (an event)
keep (something) for (someone)
matter to (someone)
object to (something)
participate in (something)
pay (price) for (something)
plan on ([doing] something)
pray for (someone/something)
prefer (something) to (something else)
prevent (someone) from ([doing] something)
prohibit (someone) from ([doing] something)
protect (someone) from (something)
provide (someone) with (something)
recover from (something)
rely (up)on (someone/something)
remind (someone) of (something)
rescue (someone) from (something)
respond to (someone/something)
save (someone) from (something)
search for (something)
separate (something) from (something else)
scold (someone) for ([doing] something)
smile at (someone) for ([doing] something)
speak to/with (someone) about (topic)
stare at (something/someone)
stop (someone) from ([doing] something)
subscribe to (something)
substitute (something) for (something else/someone)
subtract (something) from (something else)
succeed in ([doing] something)
suffer from (something)
take advantage of (someone/something/ situation)
take care of (something/someone)
talk to/with (someone) about (topic)
thank (someone) for ([doing] something)
travel to (somewhere)
vote for (someone)
vouch for (someone)
wait for (someone/something)
wish for (something)
work for (company/something/someone)

Screen Shot 2015-06-01 at 00.20.34

175. The Phrasal Verb Chronicles #1

This is both a phrasal verb review, and a random made-up story. 50 phrasal verbs reviewed within the context of a completely improvised comedy story. Click here for The Phrasal Verb Chronicles #2.

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I decided to do this episode as a way to remind you of the first 50 phrasal verbs I’ve taught you in my Phrasal Verb a Day series of mini-episodes. When I’ve reached 100 phrasal verb episodes, I’ll do another episode of The Phrasal Verb Chronicles, to help you remember #51-100.

Here are the phrasal verbs I use in this episode. Can you notice how I use them in my weird story? You could also attempt to make up your own story using these phrasal verbs. You don’t have to do all 50. Try just using 5, then 10, then 20 and so on. Eventually you should be able to make meaningful sentences using all the phrases.

I wonder what you think of the idea of “Story Time Club with Luke from Luke’s English Podcast”? Let me know ;)

167. Memory, Mnemonics & Learning English

How to improve your memory and learn English more effectively with memory techniques & mnemonics.

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The following is a transcript of this episode of the podcast.
Hello, and welcome to the podcast. Today, we are going to take a journey into the palace of the mind! We are going to venture into the deepest parts of your brain, and in the process we’re going to clean it up, brighten it up, sweep out the cobwebs and make it a much more effective place for learning and remembering English. Have a glass of water, take a deep breath and get ready for a brain upgrade because this episode of the podcast is all about memory, mnemonics and learning English!

Recently I’ve been doing a series of mini podcast episodes called “A Phrasal Verb a Day”. It’s quite a popular series, which is great. Lots of people have been listening to it, and I’m updating it every day. You can find a link to the episodes on my webpage audioboo.fm/LukeThompson. I’m hoping to do 365 phrasal verbs this year, that’s one a day, which may be a little ambitious but we’ll see. 365, that’s a large number of phrases for me to teach, but also a large number for you to remember. You might be thinking – this is great Luke. 365 phrasal verbs, all explained by you with examples and transcripts, but how am I going to remember them all? Well, you don’t have to remember all of them, but you definitely can. Your brain is an amazing thing. It’s capable of remembering massive amounts of information. It’s just a question of how you get the information in there.

English has one of the largest vocabularies of any language in the world, which is quite an overwhelming prospect for those of you who are trying to learn all of those words, even just a portion of them – like the commonly used ones. But it’s not just the words, it’s the phrases, the idioms, the spelling, the rules of grammar. It’s a challenge, but you can do it. The question is: How? Well, let’s look into it.

In this episode we’ll be looking at ways to improve your memory and some specific mnemonic devices for remembering English vocabulary and spelling. So strap in, this is going to be a useful one. With the methods in this episode, you’ll be able to remember massive amounts of vocabulary, and you’ll be able to remember the spelling for loads of difficult-to-write English words. There’s also a transcript for this which you can read at www.teacherluke.wordpress.com. You’re welcome.

The techniques I talk about here are well-known methods, used by lots of people including some of the most famous brains in the world. The illusionist Derren Brown is an example. He’s famous for being able to remember vast sequences of information, and uses this technique in his magic shows. Then, there’s the world famous detective Sherlock Holmes. I know he’s not a real person, but in the modern TV adaptation called “Sherlock” starring Benedict Cumberbatch, he uses a mnemonic device known as a  mind palace in order to remember all kinds of information, which allows him to solve deeply complex criminal cases. You can create your own mind palace too, or just use memory techniques to help your remember names of people at a party, business contacts, telephone numbers, lists of phrasal verbs or the way English words and spelled and pronounced. We’ll be looking at all these things in this episode.

These are tried and tested techniques and I invite you to try them for yourself, even if you’ve never considered the idea of improving your memory. They’re a lot of fun and surprisingly useful, and you don’t need to try very hard to just play along. I don’t want to go on about it too much, but if you just listen – it’ll be quite entertaining, but you’ll get the most benefit from actually trying these things yourself, and if you do that – if you try to apply the memory techniques in this episode, it could transform your English learning in a really exciting way.

You might need a pen and paper, so you can join in with some activities. Don’t forget you can read everything I’m saying by visiting teacherluke.wordpress.com.

Let me give you a run-down of the systems I’m going to talk about here:

1. Firstly I’ll talk about some advice for learning English more effectively, based on mnemonic devices. I’ll give you a summary of what I’ve learned from reading about this subject.

2. Then I’ll outline some specific systems for remembering lists of things such as a shopping list, people’s names, the order of adjectives in English, or lists of vocabulary.

3. Then, we’ll go through some specific mnemonics for remembering English spelling, which can help you to improve your spelling massively.

Just to explain, a mnemonic is a method of remembering something. It’s a memorising technique. Mnemonic has slightly weird spelling. It’s spelled M-N-E-M-O-N-I-C but the first M is silent. So that’s pronounced “NEMONIC”. There is a mnemonic device for learning the spelling for the ‘mnemonics’. It goes like this Mnemonics Now Erase Man’s Oldest Nemesis, Insufficient Cerebral Storage. The first letters of the first words in that phrase all spell “mnemonics”. Say it again… Mnemonics Now Erase Man’s Oldest Nemesis, Insufficient Cerebral Storage. Again, you can read that on the webpage, and you can check out words like insufficient (not enough), cerebral (of the brain) and storage (where things are stored, or kept.

I’ve discovered while reading about this subject that the key aspect of mnemonics seems to be that you have to push the thing you’re trying to remember deep into your mind, and make links to things you already remember well. The more personal the the connection to that word, the more likely you are to remember it. How do we do it? This means creating an image in your head and making it as vivid and clear as possible, attaching some kind of narrative or story to it or connecting it to an already existing deep memory. I guess this is because in your brain there are electrical pathways – the brain is like an electrical system. Each electrical pathway is a connection to that word. It’s a way for your brain to access that particular bit of information. So, the more electrical pathways, or connections you have to something in your brain, the more likely are to be able to access that thing later, and remember it.

How does this relate to learning English? Let’s see if you this confirms that you are already learning in the right way, or if there are some new approaches that you can pick up.

First, you should really engage with the learning process. Don’t let information just go in one ear and come out the other. It has to go deeply into the brain. So, as a learner, you need to put yourself and your personality right into it, and become an active member of your class (if you’re studying in a class) with a sense of independent responsibility for your own learning. Remember that the stuff you’re studying (like vocab or grammar) is not just abstract information but something that involves you in a very personal and specific way.

So we’re talking about personalising new words. Think of examples or definitions of new vocabulary in a way that is meaningful specifically to you or your life. Put yourself into the examples of vocabulary you use. Imagine that you’re living these words and phrases somehow. Picture yourself acting it out. If I teach you a phrase like “to doze off”, meaning to go to sleep, just imagine a time when you’re really tired and can hardly keep your eyes open, even though you want to stay awake. Then imagine yourself reacting to that by saying “oh god I keep dozing off!”. Imagine people you know in your examples of new grammar or vocabulary. Vividly picture something familiar to you when you’re trying to remember the words. Bring the language to life in your own head. Create stories with the new language. Involve you, your friends or family in those stories, and make them really vivid, colourful and dramatic – like my Pink Gorilla story for example. Make your own pink gorilla story and aim to include lots of new language in it.

When you’re trying to practice using new grammar or vocabulary, don’t just make a random sentence. Make a sentence which you really feel or really mean. Obviously, this is not always possible – for example if you’re doing an exam practice exercise in a book or if you just have to play with the grammatical structure of a phrase quickly – in that case you might have to just dash off a quick sentence with the phrase in it, for structural purposes. But at some point you should aim to use the phrase to express something meaningful and personal to you.

This works for teachers as well. When explaining new words, try to give vivid examples. Bring the expression to life. The more vivid and colourful, the better. If you can, try to attach some personal element to it. Put yourself into the example perhaps. If you need to use the 3rd person, pick a real person, like a famous person or someone in the class, rather than just a name. I know it’s not always possible to think up these vivid examples, or you can’t always share personal details, but just remember – the more lively and vivid the example, the easier it is for the students to internalise. It also might encourage them to personalise the language enthusiastically too, when it’s their turn to use the language.

New words can be quite abstract, so try making them familiar by attaching them to things you already know. For example, maybe the English word looks like a word in your language, or perhaps it reminds you of somebody’s name. You can then associate the English word with that name, and it sticks in your mind more effectively. For example, the Japanese word for apple is ‘ringo’. I always remember this because Ringo is one of the Beatles and the Beatles’ record label is called Apple, so now I think of an apple, and I think of The Beatles, and Ringo. This method is common sense really, but we often just don’t apply these techniques to remembering things as much as we could. Instead we just try to cram information into our head, without doing it in a meaningful way, and as a result we just fail to remember things.

It works with names as well. I have to remember lots of names in my classes. At the moment at university I have over 200 names to remember. Sometimes the only way I can do it is to make an association to something. For example, I had a Saudi student once called Faisa. It can be difficult for me to remember Arabic names, because they’re quite foreign to me. We don’t have many Arabic names in English. So, Faisa was quite a difficult one to remember at first, and it’s important to remember names in class because referring to someone by their name helps get their attention, but it’s also a nice way to establish rapport with that person. So, Faisa – F-A-S-I-A. In English, we have a similar sounding word, which is ‘phaser’, spelled p-h-a-s-e-r. A phaser is a kind of laser-gun, like the guns they have in Star Trek. “Set phasers to stun!” for example.  I imagine the old Star Trek TV series, in which they used these laser guns, with cheesy special effects and sounds. In the classic 1960s version of Star Trek which I used to watch on TV during the 80s and 90s there was always a scene in which Spock and James T Kirk went to an alien planet, and they took their phasers with them. So, I just imagined my student Faisa, in Star Trek, beaming down onto an alien planet (England?) with her phaser set to stun. It didn’t take long – just that image of Faisa in Star Trek, with a phaser, maybe shooting an alien. I didn’t tell her this. She had no idea she was in Star Trek, but it helped me to remember her name. This could work for anybody, at a party for example – when you’re introduced to someone, as soon as you get their name, make a point of connecting that name to something you know well. For example, if the person’s name is John – imagine him with John Lennon, or imagine him wearing John Lennon glasses, walking across Abbey Road. JOHN. Perhaps you have another friend called John. Imagine the new John and the other John together, perhaps having a fight – like Street Fighter 2. John vs John. “Round 1 – fight!!! Hello John, hello John! PERFECT… John, wins….” You won’t forget it. Do that with everyone at the party, or everyone at the business conference. You’ll remember their names, and you’ll have fun doing it. Just remember not to tell them. For example, if you get drunk a bit later, don’t go up to John and say “Hey John! How’s John Lennon?? How are all the other Beatles. When’s the new album coming out?? JOHN! I love you John… ” Don’t do that.

Sometimes it works against me though. I have a student called Charles, and to me he looks just like Roger Federer, the tennis player. Sometimes I call him Roger by mistake, and he has no idea why I keep calling him Roger. I haven’t explained that I think he looks like Roger Federer, and that’s because he doesn’t look enough like Federer for everyone else to agree with me. They’d probably just think I was weird, and I’m supposed to be a professor, y’know. Anyway, there’s just something Federer-ish about this student. So, I mistakenly call him Roger sometimes, even though his name is Charles. What I need to do is imagine Federer meeting Prince Charles, and perhaps being knighted by Prince Charles for being such a great tennis player. Roger Federer and Prince Charles. – that should help. You might think that remembering all these connections is more complex than remembering the individual words or names themselves, but it’s not true. We’re just making connections to things that already exist in our heads. The more connections there are, the more likely you are to remember the words. Words that exist with no connections at all, are just lost in space, in your brain. Disconnected and missing. Words like to hang out with other words. They’re all connected in some way. It’s worth remembering that, and people often draw mind-maps to create visual representations of the connections between words. This is a good vocabulary learning strategy.

Also, it can help people to learn new words when they find out the origin of those words. There are lots of TEDed videos which explain the origins of many words. You can find TEDed’s youtube channel online. Again, go to my page and I’ll give you a link. Here is the link to the TEDed YouTube channel: ed.ted.com/series/mysteries-of-vernacular

So, in all these mnemonic devices, the words that come up a lot seem to be these ones: vivid, personal, funny and weird. So, when you’re linking a word to an image – make it vivid, personal, funny and weird. That’s how you really lodge the word deep in your brain. You could probably create a mnemonic to remember that! Vivid – meaning bright and clear, personal – meaning related to yourself or something you know personally, funny – just something that makes you laugh, and weird – something bizarre, out of the ordinary and strange. I’m just imagining The Simpsons, like Homer Simpson, just glowing! They’re vivid because they’re bright yellow and have big bulging eyes. They’re funny, obviously. At its best The Simpsons is one of the funniest shows on TV (in English – I’m not convinced it’s as funny in other languages, but in English it is generally hilarious sometimes). They’re personal because it’s about a family, we know them well, we’ve grown up watching them on TV. Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa and Maggie. They’re weird – because they’re yellow, that’s strange. They only have 4 fingers, and the sense of humour in the show is pretty bizarre. Also, they’ve been on TV for 20 years and yet they’ve always stayed the same age. Bart has never grown up. That’s pretty weird. So, vivid, funny, personal and weird. Those are the key qualities for mnemonic images.

So, I’ve just given you some quick memory techniques for learning English, as they occurred to me, but let’s have a closer look at some specific tried and tested memory techniques and mnemonic devices.

Some specific memory systems

These might seem like pretty weird techniques, but as I said earlier, if you just listen to this you won’t get the full benefit. You’ll just enjoy listening to it as entertainment. So I invite you to try them for yourself, because only then will you realise just how effective these things are. It can make a huge difference to your life.

Let’s listen to a short presentation from The University of Western Sydney. This video is available on YouTube and also on my website. This video is about 5 minutes long and it clearly explains some mnemonic systems. The guy in the video speaks with an Australian accent. It’s not a strong one, but you might be able to notice the way he says some words, like numbers 1 – 9 for example.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=VoYOb2sPnqA&w=500&h=281%5D

So, that’s Acronyms (a word – each letter represents something, eg. ROY GBIV), Acrostics (a sentence in which the first letter of each word spells out the thing you need to remember),  The Peg System (words represent numbers, and you can then create an image using those words), Image Mnemonics (I’ve talked about this with the John Lennon example), Chunking – grouping individual bits of info together to make them easier to remember (This helps with vocab because words are often grouped together – so you should not just remember a word, but remember a whole group or chunk of words – for example if that word is followed by a particular preposition or verb form), Mind Maps (we talked about this – but you can make your mind maps as personal as you like – create any kind of connection between words that will help you remember them)

At my university course, I have to remember some details of the assessment procedure. Students often ask me. For some reason, they can’t remember it themselves so they’re always asking me. They should remember, and I definitely have to remember. Basically the grading system was continual assessment which included lots of different criteria, like their development through the course, their English in a presentation, their attendance, absences and the way they took part in class. To be honest, it was hard to remember those 5 items, but I managed to group it together as “the 5 Ps” – progress, presentation, presence, punctuality and participation. Knowing that there were 5 things, and that they all began with a P, allowed me to quickly recall and summarise the assessment type, in the middle of a lesson.

Let’s consider the linking system. This can help you to remember lists of apparently unrelated items. It could be a list of nouns, or it could be a shopping list. I’ve taken this explanation from a book actually. It’s a really great book called “Tricks of the Mind” by Derren Brown, who, in my opinion, is one of the world’s best illusionists, and a bit of an expert into mind control techniques, hypnotism and mentalism. If you’re interested in the subject, I suggest you get a copy of Tricks of the Mind by Derren Brown. He deals with the subject in a very common-sense and scientific way, without all the mysticism that often accompanies this subject. So, let’s try an experiment.

[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=mhZcHoU-QR8&w=500&h=375%5D

Mind Palace
This is what Sherlock Holmes uses in the TV show. It’s an amazing idea – apparently you can remember massive amounts of information if you create your own memory palace. That’s a massive space, in your own head, where you keep memories. It works by making connections to a place you know really well. It could be your house, for example, or the route you take to work (if you know it well) or a part of a city that you know well, or your school building or something. You imagine you’re walking around this place, and in key spots you plant a vivid image of each thing you’re trying to remember. Then, all you need to do is imagine walking around the place, and you’ll be able to remember everything. Also, when you’re doing it you can say “Hold on, let me go into my mind palace” which sounds pretty cool – especially if you’re a Sherlock Holmes fan.

Let’s hear Derren Brown explaining how he uses his mind palace.
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WPY3I8yTkY&w=500&h=281%5D

Spelling Mnemonics
I may have left the best until last here, because now we’re going to look at lots of common mnemonics for learning difficult spelling in English. Don’t forget you can read all this on my website, which is teacherluke.wordpress.com

Let’s get started. I’ve taken this list from Wikipedia, and added some of my own as well.

Characteristic sequence of letters

  • I always comes before E (but after C, E comes before I)

In most words like friend, field, piece,pierce, mischief, thief, tier, it is i which comes before e. But on some words with c just before the pair of e and i, like receive, perceive, e comes before i. This can be remembered by the following mnemonic,

I before E, except after C

But this is not always obeyed as in case of weird and weigh,weight,height,neighbor etc. and can be remembered by extending that mnemonic as given below

I before E, except after C
Or when sounded “A” as in neighbor, weigh and weight
Or when sounded like “eye” as in height
And “weird” is just weird

Another variant, which avoids confusion when the two letters represent different sounds instead of a single sound, as in atheist or being, runs

When it says ee
Put i before e
But not after c
  • Where ever there is a Q there is a U too

Most frequently u follows q. e.g.: Que, queen, question, quack, quark, quartz, quarry, quit, Pique, torque, macaque, exchequer. Hence the mnemonic:

Where ever there is a Q there is a U too (But this is violated by some words; see:List of English words containing Q not followed by U)
  • When two vowels go walking the first does the talking

For words like “oat” or “eat”, here the second letter a is silent and first letter o and e respectively are pronounced in the examples

Letters of specific syllables in a word

  • BELIEVE
Do not believe a lie.
  • SECRETARY
secretary must keep a secret
  • PRINCIPAL
The principal is your pal.
  • TEACHER
There is an ache in every teacher.
  • MEASUREMENT
Be sure of your measurements before you start work.
  • FRIEND
A friend is always there when the end comes.
Fri the end of your friend
When Friday ends, you go out with your friends.
  • SPECIAL
The CIA have special agents
  • BEAUTIFUL
Big Elephants Are Ugly
  • SLAUGHTER
Slaughter is laughter with an S at the beginning.
  • PIECES
Pieces of a pie
  • ASSUME
When you assume, you make an ass of u and me.
  • SEPARATE
Always smell a rat when you spell separate
There was a farmer named Sep and one day his wife saw a rat. She yelled, “Sep! A rat – E!!!”

Distinguishing between similar words

  • Difference between Advice & Advise, Practice & Practise, Licence & License etc.

Advice, Practice, Licence etc. (those with c) are nouns and Advise, Practise, License etc. are verbs.

One way of remembering this is that the word ‘noun’ comes before the word ‘verb’ in the dictionary; likewise ‘c’ comes before ‘s’, so the nouns are ‘practice,licence,advice’ and the verbs are ‘practise,license,advise’.
  • Here or Hear
We hear with our ear.
  • Complement and Compliment
complement adds something to make it enough
compliment puts you in the limelight
  • Principle and Principal
Your principal is your pal
A rule can be called a principle
  • Sculpture and Sculptor
A sculpture is a kind of picture
  • Stationary and stationery
Stationery contains er and so does paper; stationary (not moving) contains ar and so does car
A for “at rest”, e for envelope

First letter mnemonics of spelling

  • DIARRHOEA
Dashing IA Rush, Running Harder OElse Accident!
Dining IA Rough Restaurant: Hurry, Otherwise Expect Accidents!
Diarrhoea IA Really Runny Heap OEndless Amounts
  • ARITHMETIC
A Rat IThe House May Eat The Ice Cream
A Red Indian Thought HMight Eat Tulips IClass
  • NECESSARY
Not Every Cat Eats Sardines (Some Are Really Yummy)
Never Eat Crisps, Eat Salad Sandwiches, And Remain Young!
  • BECAUSE
Big Elephants Can Always Understand Small Elephants
Big Elephants Cause Accidents Under Small Elephants
Big Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Exits
Big Elephants Can’t Always Use Small Entrances
  • MNEMONICS
Mnemonics Now Erase Man’s Oldest Nemesis, Insufficient Cerebral Storage
  • GEOGRAPHY
George’s Elderly Old Grandfather Rode A Pig Home Yesterday.
  • TOMORROW
Trails OMOld Red Rose Over Window
  • RHYTHM
Rhythm Helps Your Two Hips Move

So, there we are. The transcript ends here!
OH BY THE WAY – CAN YOU REMEMBER THE LIST OF WORDS IN THE MEMORY TEST? I BET YOU CAN!

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Do you love this subject, and want more? Here’s a fascinating TED Talk about amazing feats of memory that anyone can do:
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6PoUg7jXsA&w=500&h=281%5D
Oh, and here’s another one! This one is about mind mapping, which is particularly important in recording new vocabulary.
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=nMZCghZ1hB4&w=500&h=281%5D
memoryPODPIC

132. Pronouncing ~ed Endings (with Added Romance and Horror)

Some pronunciation, some vocabulary, some romance and a little bit of horror-movie gore in this episode.

Right-click here to download this episode.

Hi everyone, I decided to teach you some essential language this time. Here’s what to expect from this episode:

The first part is about the pronunciation of ~ed endings (e.g. agED, beggED or wastED, etc)
The second part involves some -ed adjectives.
Then I teach you some idioms and very natural expressions.
The episode also includes a romantic story with sentences you can repeat, and a little bit of horror movie violence, just in case you were bored of all the ‘romance’.

For vocabulary notes, see below.

You can make donations by clicking PayPal donate buttons on my site. It’s my birthday next Wednesday. Just saying…

VOCABULARY NOTES AND TRANSCRIPT FOR THE FIRST PART OF THE EPISODE
In this episode I’m going to teach you some really useful things. It’s been a while since I taught you things, or focused on language. Recent episodes have been interviews, which are really useful because you can listen to authentic English as it really is spoken, but I also think it’s important for us to look closely at some features of language too: either vocabulary, pronunciation or grammar (even though grammar is usually pretty boring unless you’re a grammar geek).

So, in this episode we’re going to focus on a few things.
First we’re going to look at pronunciation of –ed endings. That’s often a tricky area for many people around the world. We’re going to practice that a bit.
There will also be some vocab – some regular verbs that you might find useful, but also some –ed adjectives.

If that sounds a little basic, then worry not because I’m also going to throw in some more idiomatic language as we continue, and anyway this is Luke’s English Podcast. It’s always really fun and entertaining anyway. Darn it, I will make this entertaining as well as useful, if it’s the last thing I do!

There are language notes related to all of this on the website. I still have two websites; teacherluke.podomatic.com and teacherluke.wordpress.com.

-ED ENDINGS
So first; let’s look at ed endings.
They’re tricky for many people (particularly Brazilians)
They’re very common, so you really should be able to pronounce them all correctly
There are 3 ways to pronounce them
/t/ /d/ or /id/
Examples: asked agreed wanted
How do you know the correct pronunciation? It depends on the sound at the end of the word, before you add the –ed part.
If it’s an unvoiced sound then the –ed is pronounced /t/
If it’s a voiced sound then the –ed is pronounced /d/
If it’s a t or d sound then you add a syllable by using the /id/ sound
It’s hard to remember and process those rules during fluent speech, so don’t worry about it too much.
What you should do is practice repeating the words in sentences with correct pronunciation so you get used to saying them correctly.
For many of you this will involve unlearning many years of speaking in your native language, or many years of saying the words wrong (becquse you read the words from a page, or because no-one told you otherwise)
If you’re young then congratulations you stand a better chance of fixing this potentially fossilized error.

The verbs: Listen to the episode to hear the pronunciation of them. They’re all regular verbs ending in -ed.
touch / stop / stroll / suggest / walk / want / agree / ask / arrive / beg / blush / chat / decide / drop / enjoy / explain / gaze / grab / jump / knock / look / miss / open / phone / pick / recommend / reply / seem / scream / shock / show / skip / smile / squeeze / start

The Complete Story
1. I was sitting alone in my office when someone knocked on the door, and I stopped working.
2. The door opened, and a pretty woman walked in.
3. When she looked at me, my heart jumped. She was very beautiful. I gazed back at her for a moment.
4. My heart started beating faster. I couldn’t help noticing that she seemed nervous too. She blushed slightly when I looked at her.
5. “Are you Mr Thompson?”, she asked me.
6. “Yes, I am”, I replied. “How can I help you?”
7. “Sorry to bother you” she said. She smiled sweetly. “I’m the new girl in the office, I just arrived yesterday”
8. “Yes, I missed you yesterday, I was out of the office.”, I explained.
9. “Oh, it’s no problem, I phoned you, but you weren’t in. I just wanted to say that I’m really glad to be working with you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”
10. I blushed. She was being so nice. I decided to stop working, so I could show her around the office.
11. We strolled through the building, and I showed her around. As we chatted, we connected on a deep, meaningful level.
12. She asked me if I knew any nice restaurants in the area. I recommended a really good English one near the station.
13. She said she wanted a coffee, so I used the new machine to make her one. When I gave it to her, our hands touched briefly and my heart skipped a beat.
14. After a moment, I suggested that we go to the English restaurant together, for a romantic meal of fish and chips.
15. She agreed, and inside I was delighted. Later that evening, I picked her up on my scooter. As we rode through the bumpy streets, she squeezed my waist to hold on. When I sped up to 32mph she screamed with excitement!
16. We enjoyed a wonderful evening together. She was amazing! When I dropped her off at her house, I made a quick decision. “Will you… marry me?” I asked.
17. “…get …married?” she said, shocked. “The thing is… I can’t…”
18. “Why not?!” I begged. “I love you! Please marry me!!”
19. She grabbed my arm, and said. “I love you too, but I can’t marry you, because…”
What happened next? Leave a comment to give your opinion.

-ED ADJECTIVES AND SOME IDIOMATIC ALTERNATIVES
Confused
I didn’t know what was going on
I couldn’t get my head around it
It really messed with my head

Disappointed
I was gutted
I felt really let down
I felt really dejected

Terrified
I was absolutely petrified
I nearly shat myself (very rude!)
I was shit scared (very rude!)

Embarrassed
I just wanted the ground to swallow me up
I felt like such an idiot

Delighted
I was so chuffed
I was over the moon
I felt amazing
I couldn’t believe it

Interested
I was riveted
It was absolutely fascinating
I was on the edge of my seat

Excited
I’m well up for it (enthusiastic)
I’m stoked
I’m buzzing

Exhausted
I’m knackered
I’m shattered
I just want to crash out

Shocked
It was like a slap in the face
I was stunned
I couldn’t believe my ears/eyes

Surprised
I jumped out of my skin

Nervous doesn’t mean angry or annoyed.
It means stressed and scared (like before the dentist).
Dentist: nervous
If someone is playing loud music, or clicking a pen: annoyed or angry.

That’s it!