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415. With the Family (Part 3) More Encounters with Famous People

Here’s the final part in this trilogy of episodes recorded at my parents’ house on Boxing Day. In this one my mum, dad and brother tell us a few more anecdotes about their encounters with some well-known people.

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Introduction Transcript + some ad-libs

The conversation you’re about to hear was recorded with my family on the same day as the last couple of episodes. It was quite late in the evening, after my uncle and aunt had gone home and after dinner and number drinks had been consumed. Picture a very warm and cosy living room with a wood burning stove going in the background.

After listening to Nic describing his encounters with some famous rock stars earlier in the day, the other members of my family wanted to get in on the action too with their stories about brushing shoulders with the stars. So here are a few other anecdotes from my dad, my brother and my mum.

It turns out that my family have met some genuine legends. I didn’t even realise that a couple of these things had happened. You’ll have to wait and see who they are. But here are some slightly cryptic clues.

Can you guess which people I’m talking about?

  • One of the UK’s favourite authors who wrote a series of beloved books which have also been made into successful films.
  • A British comic actor who likes eating ice-creams and fighting zombies, criminals and aliens, in his movies (not real life of course).
  • A small but very important woman who often appears in public but is also a very private person.
  • A nonagenarian who once said that he was “the only man in the country not allowed to give his name to his own children.” A nonagenerian is someone in their nineties – also, septuagenarian (70s) and octogenarian (80s).

There are others too, including an American punk rock star with lots of tattoos and muscles, a Shakespearean actor who has become a successful film director and an actor who had a bit part in the British TV series The Office.

I should perhaps remind you of several other anecdotes which you might have heard on this podcast before, which are mentioned in this conversation.

Anyway, you can now sit back and enjoy some more time with The Thompsons.

***

Outro Transcript + ad-libs

Funny, isn’t he? My brother. I would like him to be on the podcast more often, if he’s up for it. The thing is that he’s a bit modest really and isn’t the sort of outgoing person who likes to broadcast his thoughts and opinions over the internet, although he obviously should because he’s got a lot to offer. He ought to do a podcast or something like that, right? He does have a YouTube channel but it’s mainly skateboarding. www.youtube.com/user/VideoDaze/videos

*All the background music in this episode was also made by James*

The people mentioned in this episode

If you liked this one, try listening to these ones

79. Family Arguments and Debates

322. With The Thompsons

372. The Importance of Anecdotes in English / Narrative Tenses / Four Anecdotes

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265. Telling Jokes in English (Part 2)

This is part 2 in a short series on jokes. In the last one we considered some of the social codes around joke telling, including when, why and how we should tell jokes and respond to jokes. I suggest that you listen to that if you haven’t already done so. [CLICK HERE FOR PART 1]


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Introduction
In this episode we’re going to look at some typical joke structures, consider what makes a joke funny, and then I’m going to tell you lots of jokes. So, more entertaining and useful listening practice, with some jokes you can learn and share, and plenty of vocabulary teaching too. Again, there might be a part 3 to this episode, depending how long it is.

Just a reminder: This episode is all about jokes, but even if you don’t laugh at any of these jokes (many of which are, admittedly, quite bad jokes!) that is fine – because you’re learning lots of vocabulary. Perhaps, if you don’t get the jokes the first time, after you’ve understand the vocabulary, you can listen to these episodes again, come back to the jokes and see if any of them strike you as funny on a second listen. Also, I don’t expect you to remember all of these jokes, but you could pick a couple of jokes that you like, learn how to say them, and then share them with a couple of English-speaking friends. But be prepared to explain the jokes if nobody understands!

What are some typical joke structures?
Usually it’s this:
Question (setup)
“I don’t know” (response)
Answer (punchline)

e.g.
Why didn’t the ghost go to the dance?
– I don’t know
Because he had no body to go with.
Ha ha.

There are plenty of other joke types
Here’s a short list of examples

Knock Knock Jokes
Knock knock
Who’s there?
Luke
Luke who?
Luke through the window and you’ll see.

Doctor Doctor Jokes
Doctor doctor I feel like a bell
Well, take these pills and if they don’t work just give me a ring.

‘What do you call a…?’ jokes
What do you call a deer with no eyes?
No idea.

What do you call a deer with no eyes and no legs?
Still no idea.

‘What’s the difference between…?’ jokes
Q. What’s the difference between a tennis ball and the Prince of Wales?
A. One is thrown to the air and the other is heir to the throne.

Shaggy dog stories
E.g. the pink gorilla story

Light bulb jokes
How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?
None – the light bulb will change when it’s ready.

‘A man walks in to a bar’ jokes
A man walks into a bar…
and bangs his head.
It was an iron bar.

A man walks into a bar, sits down and orders a pint.
There’s a pianist in the corner, playing a song. The pianist has a monkey dancing on top of the piano.
As soon as the man’s drink arrives, the monkey jumps up, runs along the bar, pulls out its willy and pees into the man’s pint of beer.
Furious, the man walks over to the pianist and says “Do you know your monkey’s just pissed in my beer?”
The pianist says, “No I don’t, but if you sing the melody I’m sure I can pick it up”.

‘An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman’ jokes (pretty old-fashioned and a bit racist)
An Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman are lost in the desert and their jeep breaks down. They’re going to have to walk. The Englishman takes the bottle of water, so if he gets thirsty he can drink it. The Scotsman brings a hat, so if the sun shines he can protect himself. The Irishman takes the car door and says “If it gets too hot I can wind down the window.”
– yes, the premise is that Irish people are stupid. It’s old-fashioned and a bit racist, as I said.

What makes a joke good?
It’s all a matter of taste. It’s completely subjective. There is no universal ‘best joke’ because different people with different tastes will laugh at different things at different times. In fact, the jokes which are totally safe and inoffensive will often be quite crap and boring. They lack any real punch, admittedly like a lot of the dad jokes in this episode. But there are certain things that will make a joke better – clever word play with double meanings of words being exploited, a bizarre or curious situation, the way the joke is told with correct timing, intonation, naturalness etc. There are also themes or subjects which will appeal to a wide audience, helping your joke get a better response from more people. These all help, but ultimately it’s a question of subjective personal taste.

The LaughLab Experiment
A study was done by a British scientist called Professor Richard Wiseman to discover the funniest joke in the world. The experiment, the results of which have been published on a website called laughlab.co.uk, went like this: People were invited to enter their favourite jokes into the website. Then other people from different countries around the world were asked to sign in, read the jokes and then rate the one they found the funniest. 40,000 jokes and 1.5 million ratings were received by the study. Do you want to know the joke? Here we go: (text reproduced from Prof Richard Wiseman’s website. Listen carefully. Do you get it?

The winning joke

After much careful scrutiny, we finally found the joke that received higher ratings than any other gag. Here it is:

Two hunters are out in the woods when one of them collapses and falls to the ground. He doesn’t seem to be breathing and his eyes are glazed. The other guy gets out his phone and calls the emergency services. He gasps, “My friend is dead! What can I do?”. The operator says “Calm down. I can help. First, let’s make sure he’s dead.”
There is a silence, then a shot is heard. Back on the phone, the guy says “OK, now what?” 

This joke was submitted by Gurpal Gosall, a 31 year old psychiatrist from Manchester in the UK. He told LaughLab:

“I like the joke as it makes people feel better, because it reminds them that there is always someone out there who is doing something more stupid than themselves.”

The joke is interesting because it works across many different countries, appeals to men and women, and young and old alike. Many of the jokes submitted received higher ratings from certain groups of people, but this one had real universal appeal.

Also, we find jokes funny for lots of different reasons – they sometimes make us feel superior to others, reduce the emotional impact of anxiety-provoking events, or surprise us because of some kind of incongruity. The hunters joke contains all three elements – we feel superior to the stupid hunter, realise the incongruity of him misunderstanding the operator and the joke helps us to laugh about our concerns about our own mortality.

What do you think? Did you get it?

Let’s hear a short extract from a documentary about jokes produced by the History Channel. It’s presented by an American comedian called Louis Black. In this extract he meets Professor Wiseman and they talk about the LaughLab study and the joke that won. As you listen, just consider this question: What does Louis think of the joke? What’s his opinion?

What did Louis Black think?
He thought it was a bad joke, and that there is no such thing as “the funniest joke in the world” because all humour is subjective. What’s funny to one person will not be funny to the next guy, and so on. It’s your humour, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. The only way to find out what is funny, is to actually go out and tell jokes and see what makes people laugh.

So, with that thought in mind, let me now tell you some jokes. If you don’t understand them, don’t worry – I will explain them all afterwards.

JOKE LIST 
I’ll read all these jokes to you, then explain them afterwards. I think I’ll read out 10, and then explain those, and then do the next 10 and so on…

How Many Jokes Can You Understand?
If you like, you can count how many of the jokes you get. If you get a joke, you get one point.
So, count how many jokes you get.
9/10 or 10/10 = You will probably laugh at anything, and you’re probably on drugs.
6-8/10 = well done! Either your English is brilliant or you just have a natural sense of humour.
4-6/10 = not bad! Jokes are difficult to understand, and if you got 50% that’s actually a very good score.
2-4/10 = Don’t worry too much if you didn’t understand many of the jokes – don’t feel bad, but I think you should watch more comedy in English.
1/10 = Never mind! Listen to this episode again to build up your vocabulary, and I expect you’ll understand more of the jokes. Don’t forget, I’m going to explain them afterwards.
0/10 = hello? Are you alive? – Just kidding. It’s quite normal if you didn’t find any of these jokes funny. Remember, understanding jokes and laughing at them is very hard in another language.

So, just laughing at a couple of these jokes is enough. I don’t expect you to laugh at them all. Just focus on understanding the meaning. If you laugh, that’s a bonus.

You Should Practise Saying the Jokes Too
Also – remember that the delivery is important. I suggest you practise telling these jokes yourself. Listen to the way I say them (I hope I’ll say them correctly) and try and copy the rhythm, intonation and sentence stress. Notice which words are emphasised and how. That’s important. You can read all these jokes on the page for this episode.

Round 1 (and yes, I know these jokes are really cheesy!)
1. Why was 6 afraid of 7?

Because 7 8 9.

2. What’s brown and sticky?
A stick.

3. A man walked into a bar and said “Do you have any helicopter crisps?”
The barman said, sorry we only have plane crisps.

4. What do you call a fly with no wings?
a walk

5. What do you call a fly with no wings and no legs?
a crash

6. What do you call a man with a car on his head?
Jack

7. How much fun do monks have?
Nun.

8. What do you call a blind dinosaur?
Doyouthinkhesaurus.

9. What’s black and white and red all over?
A newspaper in the bin.

10. A: My dog’s got no nose.
B: How does it smell?
Awful
Jokes2PODPIC
PLEASE LEAVE YOUR COMMENTS BELOW AND SHARE YOUR JOKES!

256. Reading Books in English (and listening to them too)

This is an episode all about the benefits of reading books and listening to audiobooks in English. It contains lots of advice for using books for improving your English, and several lists of recommended books too. Also, claim your free audiobook from Audible.com – read below for details.


[Download] [Audiobook Offer]Small Donate ButtonThis episode is sponsored by Audible.com – the website for downloadable audiobooks. Audible.com has over 150,000 audiobooks for you to download, from almost any genre imaginable. If you like books, and you like listening in English, why not try an audiobook from Audible.com. In fact you can use a special link on teacherluke.co.uk to claim a free audiobook from Audible.com today – that’s right Audible.com would like to give listeners to LEP one free audiobook each to download. Where’s the link for this Luke? On teacherluke.co.uk on the right side, scroll down a bit – there’s an image which says “Download a free audiobook today” – click that to go to Audibile.com for your free book. For more details just listen to the rest of this episode. But now, let’s get started!

This episode is all about books and how reading books can really improve your English. I’m going to give you some recommendations for books you can read, and also tell you about some of my personal favourite books.

Before we start properly, let me tell you about how to get your free audiobook.

How to Get Your Free Audiobook from Audible.com
Amazon have set me up as an ‘affiliate’ which means they would like me to promote their audiobook downloads from Audible.com from time to time. What they’re offering to listeners of LEP is the chance to download one audiobook free of charge from their massive online selection.
Here are some reasons why you should definitely do it:
– You get a free audiobook. That’s any book you like. It could be The Hobbit, it could be The Lord of the Rings, it could be a biography of John Lennon, it could be some Charles Dickens, it could be Stephen King, it could be Harry Potter, it could be Jane Austen, it could be David Crystal or even Stephen Fry. Just click the link and add your details – and you can have any book you want.
– “What’s the catch?” – well, the catch is that when you get your book you also sign up for monthly membership with Audible.com – but the cool thing is that you can cancel your membership immediately after downloading your book, and you don’t have to pay anything at all. There is no legal obligation to continue membership, or pay for anything. So, if you don’t mind just clicking a few buttons, you can get your free book. All I ask is that you do it by clicking this link on my website so I can get a small reward from Audible.com.
Here’s what you do, and this is going to take just a couple of minutes – go to teacherluke.co.uk and on the right side you’ll see a pic that says “download a free audiobook today” click that, then click “Get my free Audiobook”, enter your details (and don’t worry about entering card details here – it’s just like buying something from Amazon, it’s the same company as Amazon – it’s extremely secure, and they won’t get any money because you’re going to cancel your membership) complete your purchase of a 30 day free trial, browse Audible and choose your book, download it by clicking on ‘library’ then ‘my books’.
You can download an mp3 to iTunes, or choose a number of different options for your audiobook, such as an audible app for android and apple phones and tablets.
Then, to cancel your membership, follow these steps: At the top is says “Hi, Luke” (not Luke, but your name) – From that menu select account details, then on the left it says ‘cancel my membership’. At the bottom of the next page, choose a reason for cancelling and then click continue. On the next page click “Continue cancelling” and then do it again on the next page, then click “Finish cancelling” then eventually you will be cancelled and you can enjoy your audiobook free of charge, and you avoid paying for monthly membership in the future. It’s even easier if you have an Amazon account.

I just did it, right now, and bought “Revolution in the Head” by Ian MacDonald – which is a brilliant book about every single Beatles song ever recorded and features amazing insights into all of their work. The audio version is recorded by actors such as David Morrissey, who starred recently in The Walking Dead as The Governor – he’s actually an excellent British actor from Liverpool. It’s in my iTunes now and I can listen to it whenever I want. And just in case you were thinking that this is rather a complex process for basically some audio that you can download free somewhere else – let me remind you that this is a whole book, read out by top actors, in English of course. A whole book – that’s a massive amount of work that you can just get for free, and Audible is the world’s number 1 provider of audiobooks, so they have a very complete library to choose from. This one about the Beatles I just downloaded is about 12 hours long. I just got 12 hours of listening, absolutely free. I strongly recommend that you do it. It’s good for you because you get a free book, it’s good for Audible because they get some publicity, and it’s good for me because I get a little kickback from Audible – only a small kickback of course, but a man’s got to make a living somehow! Little bits of income like that help me to keep doing this free service for you, and I’m edging in the right direction. You could send me a donation, but this is quite a good alternative to doing that, and you get a whole book out of it too.

The book that you download free is worth about 15$ in fact, so I am basically giving you a $15 audiobook for free, and to get it you just have to click a few things. Imagine if I’d sent you a gift through the post but you had to pick it up from the post office? Walking to the post office would be a lot more inconvenient than just adding some details on the computer, downloading and then cancelling your membership! By the way, you don’t have to cancel your membership to Audible, you could keep the account open and download more books. If you do nothing, your account stays open and for about $15 a month you can download more books

Right, you might now be thinking of which book you would like to get. Well, let me go through a list of some recommended books for learners of English, some of my favourite books too, and here’s an idea – perhaps you could buy the book itself, and then get the audiobook version too – that way you can read and listen at the same time!

Also, I am sure that I have some voracious readers listening to this podcast and I am always very keen to get your input too. So please, if you have some good book recommendations then please mention them in the comments section.

The Benefits of Reading for your English
There’s a lot of academic research which shows that reading is really good for your English. It’s no real surprise that students who do extensive reading outside class, perform a lot better in tests. In a 1992 article in College ESL, “Let Them Read Books,” Martino and Block mention studies in which students who are in courses involving extensive reading perform better on reading tests than students who are in courses that deal mainly with skill-building strategies. So, that seems to mean that just doing lots and lots of reading is the best way to improve your English, rather than studying lots of different strategies about reading. It does reinforce what I’ve said about listening in the past. It’s the seven P’s: practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice, practice.

I’ve often noted over the years that the students who are reading books outside class are almost always the ones who progress much faster and get better test results. It’s the same case with podcasts and things. When I question my classes about their reading and listening habits, it’s always the great students who reveal that they have a novel in their bag, or some podcasts in their phone.

By reading books, you are fast-tracking English into your brain! Simply by reading and following a story, you are practising a number of key reading skills. Firstly, you’re having to deal with a number of unknown words, but you don’t let these individual words prevent you from losing the story or the general context of what’s happening. You have to just fill the blanks in what you understand, and usually that’s enough to keep you going with the story. What happens is that your mind creates unconscious strategies for dealing with new words. You start to guess the meaning of new words, especially if they are used again and again. It’s exactly the same as when we are children. I remember growing up that I would often come across new words, and I’d just have to carry on and work it out. The more I came across these words, the more the meaning would be defined – by a process of elimination really, until I’d have a good sense of the word. This still happens if I’m reading particularly old books with words that aren’t used any more.

Another skill is that you improve your spelling, although pronunciation is not directly developed by reading alone. You should listen and read at the same time for that – a lot of books have audiobook versions.

By reading a lot you’re exposing yourself to pages and pages of language, so that reinforces collocations, grammatical structures and other lexical patterns.

Also, you learn to detect differences in general meaning, attitude of the writer and so on. These are all reading skills tested in Cambridge exams.

If you read lots of well-written work you will, sooner or later, come across almost all the different communicative strategies which are used to perform all kinds of functions in English. Persuasion, tension, joy, description and so on – these will all be part of what you read. How can you really expect to be able to use a language, without actually knowing what that language is? You need to see and hear a lot of English in order to know exactly what you’re dealing with, and what you can equip yourself with.

It’s also just a pleasing and motivating process.

You know that feeling when you first start reading a book. Usually the first few pages are a bit tricky, and you feel like you’re not really into it, but there always comes a point with any book that you suddenly get gripped by it, and you can’t wait to continue reading. I love that moment, and I think you should look for that moment when reading a book in English. Imagine how motivating it could be to get that feeling with an English book.
Some students believe it’s not possible to read books in English and enjoy them, and so they don’t. But wait a minute – it definitely is possible. Are you not reading books in English for some reason? Wise up – open a book. You can read it. In fact, if someone asked me: “How do I read a whole book in English?” my answer: “Just keep going. Just read it!” You might surprise yourself and understand a lot of it and really enjoy it too!
I just love the whole atmosphere of a book. Just imagining that someone has spent so much time working on it, and it’s such an ancient form of art. It’s so personal, because only you are reading it, and it’s like a one to one with the writer, and yet you feel connected to the common mindset of everyone else who’s read it.
Listening to an audiobook can also be great because essentially someone is doing the tricky part of reading the words and is reciting it for you. Often the readers are great actors themselves, so it’s a bit like being a privileged king who has his books read to you by the best storytellers in the land. In fact, before books were written down, stories would have been told by word of mouth. So, listening to stories is an even more ancient tradition than reading.

My Recommendations
The main thing is that you read a lot. That should be your main aim – just do a lot of reading.
Also, you should pick something that you really enjoy. According to experts like Stephen Krashen, the more you enjoy what you’re reading, the more you learn from it.

You do need to consider what kind of English you’ll be reading. Ideally, you want something which is in a neutral style/register, which contains some conversational English, normal every day English, up-to-date English and so on.
So, you’ll need to make your decision based on what will keep you reading, and what will be enjoyable.
In terms of length, choose a shorter book, just so you can get that satisfaction of finishing it and moving on to something else. Ploughing through a huge tome in English is likely to be a very long process, unless it’s a book you are particularly fascinated by.

So, choose short, engaging books that you’ll enjoy reading and which are written in a plain form of normal English. The main thing though is: a book that you’ll enjoy and that you’ll finish.

Here are some other tips:
Choose page turners & best sellers – books that encourage you to read at speed, desperate to get to the next page to find out what happens. You need something that will catch your attention and have a story that is easy to follow. So I do recommend that you read some popular novels by authors like Stephen King, Agatha Christie or even the Da Vinci code series. I don’t particularly like the Da Vinci Code books, but they are very easy to read and you can fly through them pretty quickly.
You need books with lots of action and a clear storyline. Again, page turners – mysteries, crime dramas and so on are good for this. I do consider Harry Potter to be a page turner.
Pick a book you know in your first language. This can prevent you from losing the plot and you can just focus on the language being used. In fact, why not read your favourite book in English. If it’s your favourite you will probably want to keep reading it, and you’ll know what happens so you’ll just be able to focus on the English.
Watch the film of the book, in English, then read the book. But watch out because they often change the books, like with the Hobbit series and other examples.
Read graphic novels. There are plenty of great graphic novels with intelligent stories and ideas. It can be a new way of reading, and you certainly fly through them quickly. I’ve added a few graphic novels to my list.
Watch out for the type of English being used. Some books set in the past will involve an outdated form of English, like Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Tolkien – they tend to use an old-fashioned register. You might want to focus on something clear, modern and up to date. But then again it can be a lot of fun to explore different aspects of English. Generally, British writers in the 19th and 18th centuries wrote beautiful texts, and dialogue between people is particularly enjoyable.
Consider Penguin Readers. www.penguinreaders.com
Some books use lots of fantasy language, like Harry Potter or The Lord of the Rings. Watch out for that.
Non-fiction can be a great alternative to fiction, and there are many very practical and useful books on a range of subjects. You could also choose the self-help sections, history or other specialist subjects. IN fact there are so many books about improving your life, your memory, your spending, your career – and they are often the most irresistible books you can read. They’re written in an incredibly direct and engaging manner, often because they are holding your attention in order to sell you an idea.
Biographies of people you respect can be very fascinating, especially auto-biographies, written by the people themselves. They are some of my favourite books. I love reading about musicians and the crazy lives they had.
I did mention earlier that you can guess unknown words by reading, but you can also actively study with a dictionary while reading. IN fact, there’s nothing stopping you from writing notes in the margins of books so that you can see them again next time you read it. Reading and checking words in a dictionary has been a tried and tested way of developing your English for years. As the saying goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” In fact, you may be able to improve on this method by using technology such as the Amazon Kindle.
I’ve talked about the Kindle before – about 4 years ago, when I ranted about how nobody really needs Kindles. I still agree basically with that point, but I do now see the value of Amazon Kindles for learners of English, and I’m not just saying that because I’m an Amazon Affiliate (I get no kickback from Kindle sales), but because it’s true. The Kindle has a built-in dictionary, so you can immediately look up new words when you find them.
I think you’ll find that as soon as you get drawn into the story, you’ll stop picking up the dictionary all the time and you’ll start guessing or ignoring unknown words.

Easier Books that Non-natives Can Read
The Old Man and the Sea by Hemingway
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time by Mark Haddon

Page Turners
The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
Anything by Agatha Christie
Any James Bond books (Ian Fleming)
The Time Traveler’s Wife (Audrey Niffenegger)
The film adaptation is worth seeing. It’s unusual and moving.

Just Good and Appropriate Books
Nick Hornby – I like High Fidelity (and there’s a film version) or indeed About A Boy.
Anything by Roald Dahl, like for example Fantastic Mr Fox, or a collection of his short stories. Revolting Rhymes is particularly fun as well.
Bridget Jones’ Diary by Helen Fielding. It’s personal, it’s informal, it’s funny, there’s a film version, and girls tend to like it.
Animal Farm by George Orwell – it’s short and it’s brilliant.
The Beach by Alex Garland – it’s gripping if you’re into travelling

Non-Fiction & Biography
Watching The English – Kate Fox
Revolution in the Head – Ian McDonald
Freakonomics – by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
The World According to Clarkson (if you can stand Jeremy Clarkson that is)
Mr Nice by Howard Marks

Graphic Novels
There’s absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t go for some graphic novels.
There’s a great series of Sherlock Holmes cartoons which are really well made.
I find almost anything by Frank Miller to be great – especially the Sin City series or Batman Year One or Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. They don’t have to be superhero comics. There are plenty of comics for other topics.
For childish ones, I love Japanese manga, translated into English – The Dragonball and Dragonball Z series, or Dr Slump.

My Personal Favourite Books
These are just some books that I love. There are so many books that I have enjoyed over the years, and I can’t remember them all now, but here’s a selection of books which come to mind as I write this.
The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. I read it when I was a teenager and it meant a lot to me then. I love the ‘unreliable narrator’ and the fact that this kid is lost. He’s also quite funny, but it’s sad and lonely at the same time. I love that version of New York – big and scary and a bit dangerous.
Lord of the Rings
Nick Hornby – High Fidelity
Keith Richards – Life
Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
Born Standing Up by Steve Martin
Factotum by Charles Bukowski
All The Pretty Horses by Cormack McCarthy
The Road by Cormack McCarthy
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Fight by Norman Mailer
Miles by Miles Davis (but watch out because this one is written just like the way Miles used to speak – in a kind of dialect)
I’m also a big fan of Kurt Vonnegut- Slaughterhouse 5.

A website for e-books
english-e-books.net/

The LEP forum thread about reading books
teacherluke.co.uk/forums/topic/what-is-the-last-book-youve-read-so-far/

In conclusion
You can read novels in English, and you should. They provide tons of “comprehensible input” and if you believe in the studies of Stephen Krashen, this means you’ll be on the right track when it comes to acquiring some really great English.

Now, don’t forget – if you want to claim that free audiobook from Audible.com – just click this link

PLEASE ADD YOUR OWN BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!
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251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know about LEP

The podcast has been nominated in the Macmillan Dictionary Award and the voting is now open here www.macmillandictionary.com/love-english-awards/voting-blog-2014.html


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When I get nominated for this competition, I usually have quite a lot of new visitors to the site by people who are checking out the podcast for the first time. So, let me take this opportunity to say hello to any new visitors and to give you an idea of what LEP is all about.

In this episode I’m going to tell you 16 things you need to know about LEP. After listening to this, you should have a better idea of what this podcast is all about!

16 Things You Should Know about Luke’s English Podcast
1. I’m a teacher from London, living in Paris, with about 14 years of experience and both a CELTA and DELTA qualification. I’ve lived in Japan too, and I have experience of teaching adults and children at all levels of English, for general, business or more specific purposes. Students I’ve had in the past include Brazilian world cup winners, Scandinavian heads of state, top business executives and even a porn star. I now teach at The British Council and at a top university in Paris.

2. I started LEP in 2009 after taking a course in podcasting with The Consultants E. At the time I just felt like I wanted to have my own radio show, and I discovered ways of creating podcasts on my new Apple Mac laptop, and realised I could publish them myself on iTunes, and then get the word out using social networking. I started to get really busy producing episodes of the podcast. The aim was always to mix up teaching with general entertainment. I wanted to produce episodes that were instructive but also fun to listen to for their own sake.

3. I’m also a stand-up comedian, and I do try to use those skills in my episodes too, from time to time! I do stand-up comedy regularly in Paris, in English. This may not be obvious from this episode, as I’m not adding any jokes to it! From time to time I share some videos of my comedy on this website, and some of my listeners have come to see me perform my comedy live, which is great!

4. The podcast now has over 250 episodes, and I have a really loyal following. In fact, my listeners have lots of names – the LEPpers (yes, LEP stands for Luke’s English Podcast), LEPsters, LEPaholics, LEP Ninjas, PLEPS (people of Luke’s English Podcast) and so on.

5. Some of my listeners have created podcasts of their own, after being inspired to do so by listening to LEP.

6. There are various types of episode that you can expect on the podcast. Some are about specific aspects of English, for example – episodes about idioms, grammar points, pronunciation, vocabulary, and slang. In some episodes I try to keep my listeners locked-in and entertained by making up improvised stories off the top of my head. In some episodes I feature interviews and conversations with friends, family and special guests. Some episodes involve me just talking directly to my audience about whatever comes into my head. Some episodes are about films, music or popular culture, and some episodes deal with specific aspects of British culture and lifestyle. So the podcast covers a broad range of topics. Ultimately, I love the freedom of being able to talk about anything I like! The main thing is that it creates engaging content that encourages learners of English to do more and more listening!

Here’s a quick list of some of the more popular episodes of this podcast:
1. Introduction – this is the first episode I did back in April 2009 and it outlines my basic approach to LEP.
28. Interview with a Native Speaker: The Weather – this one follows on from a vocabulary episode about British weather and features an authentic interview with a teenager called Chris, and his odd views about foreigners in the UK
29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses – this is one of the most visited of my episodes. It teaches you narrative tenses (past simple, past continuous, past perfect) via a short mystery story that features several of the UK’s most beloved popular culture icons. The story is continued in the next episode.
71. The Ice-Cream Episode – an unplanned rant on topics such as: Amazon Kindles, robots & technology in Hollywood films and why we should put down the weapons and pick up an ice-cream instead, man.
83. How to Swear in British English – an indispensable guide to all the rudest words in British English. It’s extremely offensive, but extremely useful.
100. Going to the Pub – the guide to everything you need to know before you step into a pub in the UK.
118. Sick In Japan – the true story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital. It contains loads of medical and health related vocabulary, culture shock and a story which is engaging from start to finish!
125. The Pink Gorilla Story – one of the most popular ever, this is just an improvised story that regularly makes people laugh out loud, and which I really should convert into a one-man-show stage play!
140. Ghost Stories – just some scary true stories to keep you awake at night
167. Memory, Mnemonics and Learning English – revolutionise your learning techniques with these powerful memory devices.
174. How to Learn English with Luke’s English Podcast – this is your guide to improving your English using my podcast.
176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review – this is a very complete guide to all the main tenses in English
192. Culture Shock: Life in London – this episode deals with many of those strange aspects of the English lifestyle that foreigners find so hard to understand.
208. Travelling in Indonesia – one of many episodes about travelling experiences, this one has quite a dramatic beginning.

There are plenty more episodes which are popular with listeners, in fact everyone seems to have a different favourite. But that’s just a selection of some of the most visited pages on my website.

7. Yes, my episodes are quite long, but I always explain it like this: Firstly, all my favourite podcasts are long, and I think that it’s quite normal for podcasts to be about an hour long. Radio shows also tend to be at least an hour long too, so why not my podcast? It’s better for my listeners if they listen for an extended period. Why should listening only last 15 minutes? I can’t achieve very much in just 10-15 minutes, and I want my episodes to have some depth and rigour to them. Also, listeners can just pause the episode when they’ve had enough, and come back to it later!

8. I have a transcript collaboration project on my website, which allows listeners to transcribe sections of episodes and build a whole library of transcripts for other LEPsters to use. This is good for the transcribers because it is a big challenge and a good way to improve their English, and it’s good for the other listeners because we have an ever-growing library of transcripts which they can use to help them understand episodes. The collaboration is hosted on my website and is done using google documents.

9. I have won this award three times before and that is completely thanks to my devoted audience, who every year come out in force to vote for me. I hope to repeat the success this year, but I am up against stiff competition! Whatever the result, I’m just happy to have been nominated again.

10. The podcast has had 3 million listens in just over a year, since moving to a new audio host (audioboom.com) which is amazing!

11. I also have some videos on YouTube and they are pretty hot as well! My channel has had about 2.5 million views in total, but I haven’t uploaded anything for a while. The popular videos are ones I did in 2009 and feature me interviewing members of the public in the centre of London. There’s also a video called “16 Ways to Say I Like It”, which you may have seen too.

12. I launch competitions of my own from time to time, for listeners to take part in. The last one was called “Your English Podcast” and I invited listeners to send me short recordings of them doing their own versions of LEP. I received lots of entries and votes and the winner was interviewed on the podcast as a prize.

13. These days I record episodes of my podcast in a room at the top of my apartment, where I have great views of the rooftops of Paris from the windows. I call it the “SpacePod” or “SkyPod” and it’s the podcast HQ!

14. I have another podcast, called A Phrasal Verb a Day. It’s on iTunes and on my website. That is made up of short episodes devoted to individual phrasal verbs. I give definitions, examples and explanations. It’s a great way to pick up more of those tricky items of vocabulary – phrasal verbs. My goal was to record one a day in 2014. I didn’t reach my goal, but I haven’t given up and I still add episodes to the series when I can.

15. I love playing the drums, guitar, bass and ukulele (but not at the same time) and occasionally at the end of podcast episodes I play a song on the ukulele – but you have to listen all the way to the end of the episode to hear it.

16. I put my heart, soul, time, energy, humour, money and love into making episodes of LEP. It’s become quite a big thing in my life after having done it now for nearly 6 years. I enjoy a close and warm relationship with my listeners, I always welcome new additions to the LEP family, and in the future I plan to build my service more and more until I can perhaps do this for a living somehow. The future’s bright and I hope that many more people will join me on this journey to create authentic, entertaining and interesting content that helps you not only to improve your English but to enjoy yourself while doing it. So, I invite you to start listening today and like thousands of others get addicted to LEP – it’s good for your English!

If you haven’t already done it, I invite you to vote for LEP by clicking here. Thank you for your continuing support!
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199. The UK/USA Quiz

Molly and I ask each other general knowledge questions about the USA and the UK. How much do we know about each other’s countries? How much do you know about the USA and the UK? Can you answer the questions too? Listen and find out! Right-click here to download.


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This is the continuation of the conversation I started with Molly in episode 198. In our quiz we ask each other questions about the history, geography, politics and even accents & dialects of the USA & UK.

If you fancy writing part of the transcript for this episode, click here to visit the google document.

That’s it for now! I’ve nearly reached 200 episodes of LEP. We should have some kind of celebration, shouldn’t we?

All the best,
Luke
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196. Cycling from Coast to Coast

Almost exactly one year ago, Ben Fisher was on the podcast telling us about his cycling trip from London to Paris. Now he’s back to tell us about his latest cycling adventure. Last time he cycled a total of 484.7km. This time he more than doubled that distance cycling 1223.42km from the north coast of France all the way down to the south coast. It was a much longer and more difficult trip and he’s here on the podcast to tell us all about it! Right-click here to download this episode.


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Click here to revisit 136. Cycling from London to Paris. (Have I really uploaded 60 episodes in the last 12 months? Wow.)

Click here to visit Ben’s blog where you can read all about this cycling trip, look at photos and read all the stats about his journey. drainbamms.wordpress.com

Follow Ben on Twitter @DrainBamms: twitter.com/drainbamms

Click here to visit WarmShowers.org. That’s the website for cyclists who would like to share accommodation with each other. www.warmshowers.org

If you’d like to contribute a transcript for this, click here to access a google doc for 196 Cycling from Coast to Coast.

Picture (c) Kate Fisher (Ben’s sister) – Check out her great illustrations at www.damefishy.com
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186. Understanding Culture Shock – with Lindsay & Gabby

This episode is all about culture shock and culture shock experiences and I’m glad to be joined by Lindsay & Gabby from the All Ears English podcast. Right-click here to download the episode.


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Lindsay & Gabby from All Ears EnglishLindsay McMahon and Gabby Wallace are well-qualified and well-experienced teachers of English from Boston, USA. They’re also the girls from the All Ears English Podcast. Last month I was a guest on their podcast and we talked about being funny and telling jokes in English. So, I returned the favour a few days ago and invited them onto LEP. Lindsay & Gabby have plenty of experience of not only meeting & teaching foreign visitors to the USA but also of travelling abroad and living in foreign countries. In this episode I talk to the girls about our experiences related to culture shock. Listen to the episode to find out more!

At the end of this episode, Lindsay & Gabby mentioned an eBook which they’ve written and is available for you to download. It’s full of useful advice on how to integrate into a new English-speaking culture. Click this link for more information, and to download the eBook: allearsenglish.com/luke

In this episode
We talk about:
Lindsay & Gabby’s teaching experiences.
Our travelling experiences, and instances of ‘culture shock’ that we have experienced in different countries.
Examples of culture shock experienced by visitors to the USA & UK.
Some reflections and conclusions on how to understand and deal with culture shock when it happens to you.

Thanks for listening, and look out for some more episodes about culture shock coming soon to LEP.

69. Common Errors / Typical Mistakes (and their corrections)

Learn to avoid some really common errors, and fine-tune your English! This episode is about typical mistakes that learners of English make when they speak. Do you make any of these errors when you speak?


Right-click here to download this episode.
Luke’s English Podcast is an audio download for learners of English as a foreign language.

Common errors made by learners of English, and their corrections
Recently I made a list of some of the most common mistakes I hear from my students of English. Here they are, with corrections.
Listen to the audio above to hear me explain the corrections in more detail. This is not a blog article, it’s just the text which accompanies an audio podcast episode. :)

ERROR: I am agree
CORRECTION: I agree

ERROR: I said you something
CORRECTION: I told you something

E: Luke told that…
C: Luke told us that…

E: If I will…
C: If I go… I will…

E: If I would go…
C: If I went…

E: If I would have gone to university…
C: If I had gone to university

E: A present to someone
C: A present for someone

E: to buy a gift to someone
C: to buy a gift for someone

E: Let’s have a coffee to that cafe
C: Let’s have a coffee in that cafe

Rise = to go up “taxes rose by 5%”
Raise = to make something go up “The government raised taxes by 5%”

E: I am living here since/during 1 year
C: I have been living here for 1 year

E: a girl who she lives in Brazil
C: A girl who lives in Brazil

E: What do you do tonight?
C: What are you doing tonight?

E: Tonight I will go to the pub
C: Tonight I’m going to the pub

E: go to shopping
C: go shopping

a holiday = a vacation ( a week or two with no work)
a day off = one day in which you don’t work
a public holiday / a bank holiday = days when everyone in the country has a day off, e.g. Christmas Day or Easter

E: almost people in my country
C: most of the people in my country / almost all of the people in my country / most people in my country

E: I explain you something
C: Let me explain something (to you)

E: I haven’t any money
C: I don’t have any money / I haven’t got any money

E: some advices
C: Some advice / some pieces of advice

E: some informations
C: some information / some pieces of information

E: a new
C: Some news / a news story

E: question – /kestchun/
C: question – /kwestchun/

E: I had learned that when I was at school
C: I learned that when I was at school

E: I don’t know what means this word
C: I don’t know what this word means

E: Can you tell me where is the station?
C: Can you tell me where the station is?

E: In the next years / in the next months / in the next weeks
C: In the next few years / in the next few months / in the next few weeks

E: a four hours journey
C: a four hour journey

E: a £1m pounds cut
C: a £1m pound cut

E: I forgot my book at home
C: I left my book at home / I forgot to bring my book

E: I backed to my country
C: I went back to my country

E: Are you from England, aren’t you?
C: You’re from England, aren’t you?

E: I feel myself sick
C: I feel sick

E: I bought me an iPod
C: I bought myself an iPod

lend = give (temporarily)
borrow = take (temporarily)

E: I went to home
C: I went home

E: I went by walk
C: I went on foot

at midnight = at 12.00
in the middle of the night = from midnight until sunrise

E: I came to London for study English
C: I came to London to study English

E: You are the same like me
C: You are the same as me

E: Popular sports as football and tennis
C: Popular sports such as football and tennis / Popular sports like football and tennis

E: women /womens/
C: women /wimmin/

E: in spite of he was tired, he did the washing up
C: in spite of the fact that he was tired… / despite the fact that he was tired… / although he was tired… / in spite of being tired… / despite being tired…

E: We are used to live in a cold climate
C: We are used to living in a cold climate

E: What is he like? -He likes football
C: What is he like? -He’s a really nice guy

E: We have to wait during three weeks
C: We have to wait for three weeks

E: Finish the report until Friday
C: finish the report by Friday

That’s it! Don’t forget to donate to help me keep doing these useful podcasts. Have fun!

40. Health / Feeling ill – Phrasal Verbs & Expressions


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This episode is filled with vocabulary relating to health, feeling ill, catching a cold and common symptoms. Luke’s English Podcast is a free service for people who are learning English as a foreign language. Download each episode free. Subscribe to the podcast using iTunes. Use it to practise listening, develop vocabulary and learn about the culture of the English language. Luke is well qualified and has lots of experience of teaching English for general life and for business/legal purposes. This podcast is designed to be useful, but also entertaining and fun.

Here are the lyrics to the “Feeling Sick Rap”

I’m sick, I’m sick
I’m under the weather
But in a few days
I’m gonna feel better

I’ve been coughing and sneezing
all day and all night
But don’t worry about me
I’m gonna be alright

Cos (because) I think I’m coming down with a cold
It gets worse and worse, the more you get old

My doctor told me
It’s gonna be fine Luke
It’s just a cold
You’re not suffering from swine flu!

Here’s a list of the phrasal verbs and expressions I teach in this episode.

To be under the weather – To feel a bit ill / have a cold because of the weather
To be off colour – To feel a bit ill
To pick something up – to catch something “I picked up a cold last week”
To come down with something – To catch something “I think I’m coming down with a cold”
To look after someone – To take care of someone
To fight something off – To try your best to get better “I’m trying to fight off my cold by going to work”
To shake something off – To try to get better “I’ve been trying to shake off this cold for days and days”
To pass out – To faint / suddenly fall asleep from weakness or sickness
To throw up – to vomit / to puke
To swell up / swollen – to expand because there’s a problem with it “My glands have swollen up”

Here’s the conversation which includes the list of symptoms. To get definitions of the symptoms, you’ll have to listen to the podcast:

Friend: Hi, how’s it going?

Luke: Oh, not too good really

Friend: No, you sound a bit ill

Luke: Yeah, I’m a bit under the weather actually

Friend: Oh really? What’s the matter?

Luke: Oh, I think I’ve got flu or a cold or something, I don’t know

Friend: Really? What are your symptoms?

Luke: Just the usual things, you know. A sore throat, a headache, a cough, aches and pains, cold chills, a stomach ache, it hurts when I swallow, my glands are swollen up, I’ve been throwing up quite a lot, I’m sneezing all the time, I’ve got a stiff neck and a bad back, my lips are dry, I feel a bit dizzy, I’m losing my voice, I’ve got gas and indigestion, I’ve got diarrhea, my joints ache, I’ve lost my appetite and I don’t have any energy or enthusiasm for anything really, my hands are shaking, I feel drowsy, I’m wheezing quite a lot, I’ve got a lot of phlegm and catarrh, I get cold sweats at night, I’ve got lots of mouth ulcers and I feel quite de-hydrated, I can’t sleep properly or get comfortable when I sit down, I keep sniffing and blowing my nose and I’ve got a cold sore on my lip, and to top it all off I’ve got athlete’s foot, and a sprained ankle and a broken leg as well. That’s it really.

Friend: Uh huh? Have you seen a doctor?

Luke: Um, no. No I haven’t. That’s a good idea. I’ll do that then.

Friend: Yeah, you should do that because you sound really really really ill.

Luke: Oh ok, I’ll go to the doctor’s. Thanks for your advice.

Friend: That’s no problem. Have a nice day.

Luke: Thanks, you too. Bye bye *coughs* bye bye bye

Here’s the link to the BBC’s information page about swine flu. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8021958.stm