Category Archives: Work

424. With Andy & Ben from The London School of English (Part 2)

Talking to Andy Johnson and Ben Butler about teaching English to millennials, cross-cultural experiences we’ve had as English teachers and some funny stories about Andy.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

London School Online offer – 10% discount with offer code LUKE10

Before we get started here I would just like to remind you that The London School of English, where I used to work, is running a promotion for my listeners, and for a limited time you can get 10% off all their online courses, and those are proper, extensive, professionally developed courses for general English, business English, IELTS and TOEIC exam preparation, legal English and English for other specific purposes. So, if you or perhaps someone else you know is looking for a decent online course that will arm you with practical skills and language you need to be competitive in English – check out London School of English Online at www.londonschoolonline.com and use the offer code LUKE10 at checkout to get your discount.

Intro

OK here is part 2 of this conversation which I recorded with Andy & Ben in a hotel lounge recently. If you haven’t listened to part 1 yet, you might want to check that one out first. At the end of part 1 we paused the podcast in order to buy another overpriced and undersized beer from the hotel bar, and in this part we’ve bought our tiny, expensive beers and we then continue the podcast by discussing Andy’s presentation on the subject of millennials. Millennials – that generation who came into adulthood in the 21st century. This generation that so many people have written about and done management training seminars about. This generation of young people who have been labelled by some as lazy, entitled, self-centred, distracted by technology and hard to manage. This group of people that probably makes up the majority of my audience. This generation of people that probably includes you! What do you think? Is that a fair assessment? Are millennials lazy, entitled, self-centred, distracted by technology and hard to manage? Or is this just small-minded prejudice against a younger generation that’s facing just as many challenges as previous generations, but just in ways that are harder to notice?

And, how should we be teaching this generation in our English language classes? So, there’s some discussion on that – because that’s how we like to spend our Friday evenings, clearly! As you’ll hear the conversation does turn into a kind of anecdote sharing session about some cultural misunderstandings we’ve experienced as English teachers and then there are plenty of other tangents, including some detailed descriptions of what we all look like and how we’re dressed and one particularly funny story from Andy near the end of the episode … you know what? I don’t need to tell you everything you’re going to hear in this episode, do I? I don’t need to go into all the details. All you need to know is that it’s going to be brilliant and even more amazing and awesome than the last one, so strap in, let’s fly back the hotel lounge in Paris on a Friday evening, in the not too distant past, with some mini bottles of beer with giant prices and here we go.

***

Moby and Richard Ashcroft

Moby and Richard Ashcroft

I have to say it was a lot of fun to have Andy & Ben on the podcast. I hope you enjoyed it too.

London School Online

Don’t forget that you can get 10% off all the online courses run by The London School of English by going to www.londonschoolonline.com and using the offer code LUKE10 at checkout.

Previous episodes of the podcast with Andy & Ben

45. Luke & Andy’s Crime Stories

9. Travelling in India

Andy & Luke’s Presentation at The BESIG Symposium 2012

Andy’s Presentation about Millennials

Here are the slides which Andy used in his presentation about millennials. This might not make sense without Andy talking, but you can see some of the statistics, quotes and facts that relate to this subject. Click the –> arrow to move between the slides.

407. Reflections on Language Learning & Working as a Translator: Interview with Kristina from Russia, Winner of the LEP Anecdote Competition 2016

In this episode you’ll hear me talking to Kristina from Russia, the winner of the LEP anecdote competition this year. We talk about her work as a translator and interpreter, her reflections on language learning, how she learned English to a good level and some other bits and pieces.

[DOWNLOAD]
Small Donate Button

Introduction transcript

Hello! Welcome back to the podcast. In this episode I am talking to Kristina from Russia. If you’ve heard episode 403 of this podcast you’ll know that she is a listener who won my anecdote competition this year. Her anecdote was about how she ended up having to interpret for Emir Kusturica – the famous Serbian film director, on stage at a film festival in front of an audience of movie industry people with absolutely no preparation.

It sounded stressful and it’s also impressive that she managed to get through the whole thing successfully, without running screaming from the building.

Kristina’s story was the clear winner in the final round of the competition. It was interesting to hear about how she described that stressful and exciting experience and how her language skills were involved. The prize for winning, as suggested by one of my podcast listeners, was to have a one-to-one Skype conversation with yours truly (that’s me).

We did that the other day. We chatted on Skype for nearly an hour, with her in Saint Petersburg and me in Paris, and I thought it might be interesting to record part of the conversation for an episode of this podcast. Kristina agreed and so, in this episode you can hear the result.

So in this episode you are going to hear Kristina talking about

  • How she became a translator and interpreter
  • The differences and challenges of those two types of work
  • How she has learned English to her current level, and some general reflections on language learning (by the way she speaks several other languages including Norwegian and German)
  • The way she maintains her level of English and how listening is an important part of that process

I think Kristina is an example of someone who has not only managed to learn English to a proficient level but has also built a career around her language abilities. It was lovely to speak to her and I hope you enjoy listening our conversation.

So, without any further ado, here is Kristina from Russia, the winner of the LEP anecdote competition 2016.

* CONVERSATION *

Announcement: LEP Meeting for Conversation in Moscow

Here’s a message from a listener in Moscow called Dmitry:

Is here anybody from MOSCOW?!
A friend of mine is organizing the first MEETING of The Moscow LEPsters Conversation Club – a club for those who study English, like Luke’s podcast and want to develop speaking skills as well! Everybody is welcome on Sunday, December 11th at 4pm in the Wooden Door anti-cafe. We intend to discuss Luke’s podcast, your favorite episodes, drink tea/coffee, eat cookies, SPEAK and have fun! The meeting itself is absolutely free BUT the anticafe charges everybody 2 roubles per minute. Coffee and cookies included in this standard price. [Luke: About 1.7E per hour for free cookies and coffee? Not bad!] REGISTRATION: just send your name and several words about you (if you wish) to smartnb@mail.ru or click “I will participate” on the Facebook page
Link here: www.facebook.com/events/275649646170689/
It will be great to share emotions and ideas! See you on Sunday at 4pm!

Let me know if you’re planning an LEP Get Together in your area

If you’re planning an LEP Meeting in your area, let me know and I can spread the word!
Getting together with like-minded people and having some fun speaking English is a great idea! It can be a great way to practise speaking and you can make some friends too.

Music

Background music (introduction): Jukedeck – create your own at http://jukedeck.com

Other background music: Jim Thompson soundcloud.com/jt-2000 and here jt2000.bandcamp.com

391. Discussing Language, Culture & Comedy with Alexander van Walsum

Here is a new episode featuring a conversation with a friend of mine who originally comes from the Netherlands but he has lived all over the world. You’re going to hear us talking about cultural differences, Dutch stereotypes, doing business in France, the UK and the USA, the different communication styles in those places, doing stand up comedy and getting Darth Vader’s signature. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed recording it.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

Alex performing at Le Paname Art Cafe in Paris

You can see Alex performing at “WTF Paris? – Comedy Therapy for Expats” with Amber Minogue at the SoGymnase comedy club in Paris every Friday evening at 8pm. Details here www.weezevent.com/wtf-paris
14699828_10154359870410804_763494392_navwpic

336. Drinking Scottish Whisky at a German Business Meeting While Wearing a Kilt and Playing a Flute… and other stories (with Carrick Cameron)

This episode features another natural conversation with a native English speaker. This time I’m talking to my mate Carrick, who I’ve known for about 10 years now. He is a teacher who used to work in the same school as me, back in London. We have a few things in common, like the fact that we’ve both had strange travelling experiences as English teachers, including the time when he once attended a meeting in Germany that involved not only the usual business work but also the drinking of some very rare and expensive scotch whiskies, which meant that the meeting turned into a kind of musical party with guitar and flute playing, quite a lot of whisky drinking, a late night and then, unsurprisingly, a bit of a hangover the next day. Listen to hear a few anecdotes, some authentic English conversation and more.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]
All this took place in Germany as I said, so you could say that he had a “hangover in Hanover” (Hanover is a city in Germany). Although to be honest he was actually in Frankfurt not Hanover – yeah, I just wanted to use the line “a hangover in Hanover”. Yes, that was supposed to be clever and funny, but never mind. :P

Anecdotes

We also share a few other anecdotes about travelling experiences we’ve had, including the time when I ended up being invited to my Japanese doctor’s house on New Year’s Day to make a kind of traditional cake by bashing a ball of wet rice over and over again with a big wooden mallet while being laughed at by a group of small children. Does that sound familiar at all? Have you ever done that? You might have, if you’re Japanese, or if you’ve spent new year in Japan. Do you have any idea what I’m talking about? Well, keep listening to find out.

Sound Quality

Another quick thing to say now is that admittedly the sound quality during the interview is a bit poor. I recorded it over Skype because I’m in France and Carrick is in England, and Carrick wasn’t able to get to a computer with a good microphone because he was (and still is) completely stuck to his sofa with a very bad back, the poor guy. He’s got a nasty slipped disc in his back which means he can’t move. So during this conversation he was basically lying on his back, talking to me over Skype with his phone in his hand.

So, yes, I know the sound is not 100% great and it might be difficult to hear his words at times, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s actually very common these days to speak English over Skype or on conference calls – like for example if you’re in an international business meeting talking to someone who’s in another country. The sound isn’t always perfect in those situations, is it? So, I think you need to get used to hearing English in less than perfect conditions. So, Audio quality is a bit bad, but don’t give up – you’ll get used to it after a while. It’s good practice.

While You Listen

As you listen, watch out for these things: the moments when Carrick (intentionally) switches from an English accent to a Scottish accent and back again, the way he describes different types of Scotch Whisky including words to describe their tastes and where they are made. So be mindful of vocabulary and grammar that you’re hearing, but above all – just enjoy being able to listen in on this conversation between a couple of mates. You can imagine you’re in the room with me listening to the conversation on speakerphone.

Ok, that’s it for my introduction. I’ll now get out of the way and let you listen to conversation in full. I’ll speak to you again when the conversation is over.

*Conversation Begins*

Talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking talking.

*Conversation Ends*

So, that was Carrick. I really hope his back gets better soon because it must be pretty miserable for him to be just lying there all the time. I expect all of us sometimes think “Ooh, I’d love to spend 3-4 weeks lying on my back all day watching TV, high on a cocktail of prescription drugs.” (well, not everyone thinks that but you know what I mean) but when that lifestyle is forced on you as a result of an accident, it’s not that much fun is it. So, I hope Carrick gets well soon for his own sake, but also I hope he gets well soon for the sake of his wife and kids too, who might want to actually sit on that sofa and watch TV themselves at some point, and I also hope Carrick gets back on his feet soon for the sake of the kids in his school who are probably missing Mr Cameron in their classes!

More Stuff about Sound Quality (actually, it wasn’t that bad, was it?)

So, this is nearly the end of the episode. I wonder how the sound quality was for you? I expect it was a bit difficult to hear every word but you got used to it. Is that right? What’s that? It was difficult at the start but you got used to it? Ah good, I thought so. Sorry? You couldn’t understand everything – it was difficult and possibly a bit frustrating at times? Ah, sorry about that, but I think it’s good practice because your brain has to work a bit harder to guess the things you don’t understand. It’s good training. What was that you said? You’d expect the audio quality to be much higher in future please. Oh, alright, well – sorry but this is a free podcast right? So, you get what you pay for ok?

No, I agree. It would be better if the quality was always perfect, but that’s not always going to happen. Sometimes when I interview people on Skype the sound might be less than perfect, but as I said before – that’s normal in the real world, sometimes the sound quality will not be perfect when you’re using English over the phone or on a conference call. It’s good for you to get used to it.

Things to remember about learning a language (encouragement)

Just remember these things: learning a language is a long-term project and you will encounter various obstacles but you mustn’t give up. One of those obstacles might be that you can’t understand every word in an episode of Luke’s English Podcast, or in a conference call. So, even if you didn’t understand all of that. Don’t give up. I realise I’m preaching to the converted here, because if you’re listening to this it means that you listened to the whole conversation and you didn’t stop. So, well done you.

Shall I do an episode in which I explain the vocab, like in episode 335?

But really, I wonder if you’d like me to record a follow-up to this conversation in which I explain and clarify the content, like I did after the Craig Wealand interview. If you would like me to do that, let me know by leaving a comment or giving me an email at luketeacher@hotmail.com. I value your feedback.

italki

Don’t forget to use italki to find a native speaker for conversations or a teacher for lessons. It really is a great way to push your English to higher and higher levels. Visit teacherluke.co.uk/talk to get started and when you make a purchase italki will give you 100 free credits which you can spend on lessons in the future.

One tip: use the “search teachers” function to find the right teacher for you, and that includes special skills like Cambridge Exam preparation and business English. teacherluke.co.uk/talk or click an italki logo on my website.

italki teacher search page

A couple of comments at the end, just before we finish up here.

  • If you’ve sent me an email recently, or ever, and I haven’t responded I am sorry. I can’t respond to them all but I do read them all I promise! I also send emails to people and don’t get responses and I know how it feels. I’m a huge fan of Greg Proops and Adam Buxton. I met Greg Proops at a book signing in Paris, shook his hand and exchanged a few words (I told him I was a comedian and he nodded sagely). I wanted to talk to him for hours, but I just said “nice one” and left. I then wrote him a long email, telling him how much I enjoyed his podcast called “The Smartest Man in the World” and I wrote a very British invitation to join me on an episode of LEP some time. I never got a reply. I also tweet comments to Adam Buxton all the time, who I am sure is an absolutely lovely person but I never get a reply or a retweet or anything, but that’s ok of course, I don’t mind, but I feel a little bit ignored, you know? Again, I don’t feel entitled to a reply or any attention at all because his part of the deal has already been done – he’s already given me hours of lovely talking on his podcast so he can’t be expected to respond to every tweet or email. Totally fine with it. So, anyway, thanks for your comments, messages, emails, tweets and so on – I appreciate your thoughts very very much.
  • Again, thank you to my Japanese doctor if he’s listening (I doubt it) for not only saving my skin when I was sick by taking care of me, giving me medicine and arranging for me to spend two weeks in Kinugasa hospital. I liked the video you played to me when we were both drunk on that New Year’s Day (at about 4.30pm I believe) in which you and your band were playing a live version of “Listen to the Music” by The Doobie Brothers. It was awesome.
  • Hello to anyone who likes whisky – I hope you enjoyed this episode.
  • Hello to the people of Scotland – I hope you choose to stay in the UK, but I’d understand if you choose to leave. I hope you don’t though. (I didn’t ask Carrick about Scottish Independence – maybe that can be a future episode)
  • Hello to a Japanese LEPster called Satomi who recently came to one of my shows here in Paris. Satomi, it was very nice to meet you and your friends after the show and I am very glad that you chose to introduce yourself to me. Give my regards to Yoshi – that’s a French guy who she was with, who called himself Yoshi, and not the cute dinosaur who is friends with Super Mario. Yes, I had a Yoshi at my show. In fact, not long ago I had a Luigi at the show too. I’m yet to have a Mario there, but let’s hope so. I wonder what it would be like to have Mario in my audience. I wonder how he would laugh. Maybe he’d go “wawawawawa” (Mario noise), or maybe if I talked for too long without making a joke he’d heckle me by saying “Letsa GO!” and I’d say – “can you stop heckling?” and he’d say “It’s MARIO time!” and I’d say, “*securty* remove this man from the room please he’s disturbing the performance”.
  • Hello to the lovely Argentinian couple who listen to this podcast and who also came to another one of my recent comedy shows. It was lovely to meet you too!
  • Let’s go back to Japan for a moment – Hello to all my Japanese listeners. I love Japan very much and I miss it a lot. Whenever I see pics of Japan on Facebook or listen to music from that I used to listen to when I was there I always think “ah 懐かしい” – “Nihon Natukashii ne!” which roughly translates as “Ah, good old Japan!” That phrase is used to express feelings of nostalgia. You know those waves of nostalgia that you feel when you remember something? You might see a photo, or perhaps smell some food that brings you right back, or you might actually go to the place and immediately feel a kind of comfort in being there. That’s exactly how I feel when I drink a really good cup of Yorkshire tea or something, like “Ah, good old Yorkshire tea”, or “Yookusha tea natsukashii da-yo ne?” So, hello Japan, I know you’re listening – “O genki desu ka?” which is a bit like saying “alright?” in English. I do plan to visit Japan with my wife – I must show her around the place a bit, I think she’d love it and I’d be able to say “natsukashii”, “heeee” and “hooooo” all the time. It would be nice to go drinking (in moderation of course) in an izakaya or something. And perhaps someone might go red in the face and fall asleep after having a couple of beers. Look after yourselves, ok!
  • Photos – check below to see some pics of Carrick’s funny experience at the German business meeting in Frankfurt at Deutche Bahn. If you work at Deutche Bahn – get in touch! Perhaps you know someone who was at the meeting. It’s possible. You should also find a pic of me hammering a ball of rice with a wooden mallet to make mochi, while wondering what was going on in my life! (I now realise what was going on – I was having a lot of fun indeed).
  • You’ll also find the names of Carrick’s favourite whiskies and the other brand name whiskies we mentioned in the episode, in case you want to check them out.
  • Thanks again for listening. :)

Carrick’s Top 3 Single-Malt Scotch Whiskies

1. Lagavulin
– from the island of Islay
– It’s delicious
– It’s smokey
– It’s filtered through peat

2. Macallan
– It’s from the Highlands
– It’s got a smooth, creamy texture
– It’s like very alcoholic milk (although it doesn’t look like milk of course)

3. Caol Ila
– It has a subtle flavour
– It’s like Lagavulin but more delicate

Other types of whisky
Blended scotch whisky – it’s made from a blend of different whiskies, it’s cheaper and is easy to find in supermarkets. Typical brands: Teacher’s, Bell’s, Famous Grouse, Chivas Regal.

American brands of bourbon whiskey (they’re not Carrick’s ‘bag’ = he doesn’t really like them, they’re not his cup of tea)
Jack Daniel’s, Jim Beam, Maker’s Mark.

That Japanese “best whisky in the world”
I think Carrick was talking about this one – Nikka Whisky (it doesn’t begin with a Y, unless you mean “Why?” – and the answer is – “Because it tastes so good!”) www.worldwhiskiesawards.com/nikka-whisky-taketsuru-pure-malt-17-years-old.13912.html

Photos

Other useful episodes of LEP

This episode featured several anecdotes. Click here to listen to an episode about how to tell anecdotes in English.

Click here to listen to the full story of how I got sick in Japan. 

334. Interview with Craig Wealand (from InglesPodcast)

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

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

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

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

swearing-at-workA Note on Swearing in the Podcast

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

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

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

Craig Wealand and his podcast – InglesPodcast.com

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

button-16

[DOWNLOAD]

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

 

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

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

 

Vocabulary

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

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

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

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

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

*Interview Begins*

So, that was my chat with Craig Wealand

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

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

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

Some more announcements

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So that’s blab.

italki

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

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

New comment system

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CraigWealandPODPIC

315. Do me a favour – Take my Business English Survey!

Hello listeners, this episode of the podcast is entitled: Do me a favour – Take my business English survey! It’s called that because I’d like to invite you to take a very quick survey on my website. You can find the survey at teacherluke.co.uk/businessenglishsurvey. Please do take the survey. It’ll just take you a couple of minutes, but it will be extremely helpful for me because I’m planning new ways to help you. So, do me a favour and take the survey! Listen to this whole episode to find out all the details. There’s a transcript available too.

Here’s the survey (just below). The audio and transcript for this episode are under the survey. Just scroll down a bit and you’ll find them. Please do take the survey. Listen to the episode to find out more. Thanks! Luke

SURVEY: What do you want to know about business English?

Don’t worry – I will not give your email address to anyone else, I hate spam.


Thanks!


Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

Hi listeners, I hope you’re well and fine and fit and healthy and all that. This episode of the podcast is called: Do me a favour – Take my business English survey! I’m going to tell you more about that in just a moment but first…

I hope you’ve been enjoying recent episodes of the podcast, including the ones about Words of the Year, the one about comedian Tim Vine (which I might follow up with a second part soon) and then the relaxing sleep meditation episode that I uploaded the just other day. Don’t forget to send me your photos for the LEP photo competition – podcastcomp@gmail.com. For more details of the photo competition, just go back to episode 313, I explained it all then. The photo competition closes on 15 January 2016, so you have plenty of time to find out all the details and then send me your photos. I’ve already received some photos and there are some really interesting images in there, which I’m looking forward to sharing. A lot of people have sent me photos of them listening in the car while driving. I should say – please do be careful when taking a photo in the car. Remember to pay attention to the road at all times. Be careful when taking a photo while driving.

Now, let’s talk about episode 315, that’s this one. And this is not really a normal episode of Luke’s English Podcast – it’s just a quick spoken message from me to you, because I’d like you to do me a favour and take a survey on my website.

Essentially – I’m looking at ways of expanding my online services and I’m planning to do a business English course, alongside LEP (not instead of it) and I’d like to find out what you really want to know about learning business English. That’s the purpose of the survey.

I’ve been teaching business English for over 10 years and I really enjoy it. I have taught business English to thousands of people from around the world who work in many different jobs. It’s fascinating meeting these people because I get to explore their work and I can help them directly with the communication skills in English that they can then use to get more success in their lives.

I actually think it’s my favourite thing to teach, but I’ve never taught business English on Luke’s English Podcast. I’ve always focused this podcast on ‘general English’, just because that gives me the freedom to focus episodes of the podcast on absolutely any topic under the sun, whereas in business English you need to keep it more specific. I know from listener feedback that LEP is really helpful. But, I know that I can also help you a lot with the English you might need for your job or career.

In fact, I’ve been waiting for ages to share my business English teaching experience with you, and I think that I’m ready to start doing that now – not on Luke’s English Podcast – don’t worry – I’m not about to announce a big change or anything – LEP will stay the same. I’m talking about offering you another service, separate to Luke’s English Podcast, which will focus on communication skills for professional life.

That brings me to this survey. The survey I’d like you to take is a way for you to tell me exactly how I can help with your business English. I just want you to get involved by giving me your thoughts.

You can find the survey on my website – either on the page for this episode (episode 315) or on teacherluke.co.uk/businessenglishsurvey. It’s a very simple survey in which you just have to answer a couple of questions. It’ll take only a couple of minutes, but it will really help me to focus my service on your specific needs. So, go to teacherluke.co.uk/businessEnglishsurvey or just find the page for this episode (315).

It’s really simple – just answer a few questions and bob’s your uncle.
Basically, I’m doing this in the same way that I would run a business English course at school. I always start by asking my students for their input before I plan the course – that way I can make sure it’s designed to meet their needs, and ultimately it’s the best way to get results.

I’m pretty excited because I think I could make a big difference to your professional English, in ways that can really help your life and career, and because I’m about to embark on a new creative project – and that’s what I love doing.

So, I really want to know any questions you have about learning business English.
What are your thoughts, worries, needs or doubts about English for work?
Even if you think business English is somehow boring, corporate or formal or something – I want to know what you think.

I’m not saying LEP is going to become a business English podcast. Don’t worry, that’s not going to happen. At this point, I’m just planning other ways to help you.

So, please take the survey – I’m waiting to hear from you!

Business English doesn’t have to be boring and corporate
I know what many of you might be thinking – “I don’t like ‘business English’ – it’s boring and corporate. It reminds me of work and bosses and management and job interviews and stuff like that.

Not necessarily. English for work does not have to be boring and corporate. Quite the opposite. For me, the English you use in a professional context is pretty much the same English you use in your personal life, it’s just a bit more specific and practical.

In fact, business English and general English are pretty much the same thing, it’s just that business English is a bit more specific.

Let me explain what I mean a bit.

Firstly, business English isn’t boring.
It can be funny, fascinating, exciting and perhaps most importantly – very useful. The bottom line is, it can help you get success, personal value and money which you can use to do the things that you love. This makes it useful and empowering for you.

Secondly, the language of business English is just as vibrant and personal as general English.
Any moment that you use English, or any language, you’re doing it for a purpose. It could be to build relationships, buy something, ask for information when you’re travelling, make someone laugh, or even try to get someone into bed. These are all situations in which you’re using English to achieve a particular goal, and to do them successfully you need certain communication skills – using the right words, speaking and understanding clearly, communicating with confidence, using the tone of your voice to indicate specific meanings, and using subtle shifts in language in order to be more persuasive, charming, direct, indirect, polite, respectful and powerful etc. It’s exactly the same in a business context. In fact, we use much the same language and language skills in general English as we do in business English, and people with good general English skills tend to do well in business English situations too – because at the end of the day, it’s about establishing meaningful human connections – like trust, respect, compromise and reward, and if you can do that – if you can make the right connections – you’ll have success. The thing I like about business English is that it’s all about focusing specifically on the communication skills you need for quite specific things – like how to quickly make a point in a meeting, how to disagree without offending someone, how to ask someone to do something without being rude, or how to persuade someone to do something for you. These are specific communication scenarios that require specific language.

Thirdly, it doesn’t have to be all about technical language.
It’s not just about knowing technical language, or understanding business theory, it’s about refining your ability to communicate effectively, and that’s why it’s actually fascinating and fun.

Fourth, business English shouldn’t be scary – it’s best when it’s fun.
In my experience people really learn business English best when they just play around, have fun and experiment with the language. It doesn’t have to have the bad atmosphere of work. You’re not at work, you’re in a classroom, building your communication skills and having fun at the same time.

Because of those reasons, I find business English to be really motivating to teach, and I’m looking forward to sharing my teaching experience with you somehow.

So, take the quick survey so that you can give your input – share your thoughts, doubts, questions, ideas with me.

Find episode 315 or just go to teacherluke.co.uk/businessEnglishsurvey

Have a good day!

Luke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

onion