My Interview on Zdeněk’s English Podcast

Recently I was interviewed by Zdeněk Lukas on his podcast. Zdeněk is a big fan of LEP and so he treated me rather like a celebrity, which was both flattering and fun! We met while I was in London recently and spent a couple of hours in St James’s Park discussing podcasting, English teaching, the TV show “Mind Your Language” and all kinds of other things. I thought you might like to listen to the interview, so here it is (below). There are 2nd and 3rd parts to this interview and I will put them on this page when Zdeněk has published them.
Right-click here to download part 1 of this episode of Zdeněk’s English Podcast.

Right-click here to download part 2.

Right-click here to download part 3.

In part 4 Zdenek responds to some comments he’s had about these three episodes, and then does some language analysis of our interview. Right-click here to download. He’s still beating himself up a little bit, but he is willing to dissect his own English (and mine) for your benefit.
Download the language analysis episode here.

Zdeněk is an MA-qualified English teacher from the Czech Republic. He has been podcasting for about 2 years now (or possibly more) and about a year and a half ago he discovered Luke’s English Podcast and became a big fan. In fact, it inspired the tone of his own English-teaching podcast, called Zdeněk’s English Podcast. Zdeněk has published lots of episodes in the last year or two, and while it is clearly quite inspired by LEP (he says so himself) I believe he is becoming more and more original all the time. On his podcast he teaches plenty of vocabulary and likes interviewing native speakers as a way of sampling authentic English. He also interviews learners of English, focusing on insights into their learning experience, often giving language feedback and correction of any errors that might crop up during the conversations.

You can check out ZEP by clicking the links below, and I hope you support Zdeněk in his mission to publish interesting podcasts for learners all over the world while also pushing his own English to new heights.
Zdeněk’s English Podcast on
Zdeněk’s English Podcast in iTunes
Zdeněk’s English Podcast (friendly) Facebook group

  • Anonymous

    I think the duck the aproached you probably thought, when you quacked at him: “I think it would be a nice idea to make a podcast on duck’s language. Somebody must be interested in. Surely this guy.” :)
    Great job, great interview. The things we learned when we do something should be the subject of daily analysis. This made me think a lot of my achieves and everyday doings.
    Thanks you both for that.
    A big fan of you, Luke. And very inspired of your job, Zdenek.
    Best wishes.

  • Your (new) fan ;)

    In response to Zdenek’s comment, below
    Hi, I am not a teacher, but I do understand you.
    I really like what you´ve said. I gave my personal opinion based on my first impression, but your arguments made me think about it and now I can understand you better. I would never expose myself as much as you to public eye, maybe that´s the reason I stuck with my English in a middle of the way :p
    I wish you all the best!

  • In response to a comment from “Your Fan”, below

    Thank you for the support and I understand the critique as well.
    I will try to explain this from my point of view.

    1) I know I can be funny even in English, but not in the same way as Luke – clearly my options are limited there especially because my fluency as well as my vocabulary is limited and also I am not a stand-up comedian and my sense of humour is I guess also different. I agree that I was boring in this and my listeners know I admitted it it as I rightly beat myself up over it in my podcast many times.

    2) This interview doesn’t reflect me as a person. I was completely starstruck and I could hardly relax. Just try to put yourselves in my shoes. Would you suddenly all become cool and funny people meeting someone you admire so much? After listening to this I suddlenly have hundreds of ideas what I could have said differently, how I could have responded in a cooler way. But it is a bit late now :).

    3) Just to make it clear for everyone, I am not competing with Luke. I am learning English as much as you all are. I got stuck at my level so I had to do something about this (I know some people may find this ridiculous) and I will have to take even harder steps in future. I am not afraid of disapproval and booing. Being a teacher, I know exactly what it takes to push your English to another level. I cannot possibly compete with Luke – we are both totally in different positions. I am a fan of his style so I may learn couple things from him but ultimately I am always a learner of English in combination with a teacher, whereas Luke is a combination of a performer and a teacher therefore we both are in totally different positions.

    4) What I believe might be a strenght of my podcast is that it can show the learners a way to lose their fear and anxiety by giving them my own example. Clearly Luke’s podcast has power to appeal to the audience who seek good comedy and it is in particular deadly combination because he adds the teacher expertise.
    Look at Guillaume’s English Podcast. Just check it out. As a Lepper you will say no, I won’t listen to this because it is not as funny and Luke’s English Podcast and Guillaume’s English is not as good as Luke’s. But come on, this is not what it is about. He is doing something amazing for his English. It is extremely challenging but hey, he can do it and he will be getting better and better at this and it will massivelly improve his English because he has a positive attitude. What are you doing for your English productive skills?
    You know what makes me most proud as a teacher? Not when I successfully teach someone to use present perfect correctly, or when they pass the test because I taught them everything. It is when I manage to motivate my students to a degree that they fall in love with the language and they become autonomous learners.

    If you were a teacher “Your Fan”, you would understand what I am saying. Anyway. No hard feelings. I was just trying to explain my perspective. And It wasn’t supposed to be an essay…but shit happens.

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  • Your fan

    The podcast is OK, Zdenek has a lot of vocabulary and speaks clearly which is relevant for beginners, but… his manner of speaking is a little annoying and after 5 mins of listening becomes a little boring and hard to catch a listener’s attention. Knowing the Luke’s podcasts.. I go for them. I buy Luke’s style and sense of humour, I buy him all. In Zdenek’s case- I guess he needs more practise and experience. However, Luke has real talent (a comedian preparation helps as well) and is hard to compete with him :) Greetings for both and keep at it! :)

    • Thanks for your comments & encouragement.

      I think that Zdenek is a bit different to me and so the comparison between us doesn’t quite work, and therefore is not completely fair on him. I think Zdenek set out to do his podcast as a personal project – which means that his podcast is partly for his audience, and partly an effort to improve his skills as a presenter and speaker of English. As a native speaker it is much easier for me. The level of challenge is quite different. Doing it in a second language must be very challenging, so I respect that. You can only develop yourself by actually taking the initiative to take a risk and do something, and that’s what Zdenek does by recording podcasts in a second language. There are risks and rewards in exposing yourself like that. The rewards are obvious. The risks are that you let yourself be judged by others. I know how this feels from doing stand-up comedy. I’ve had bad reviews which really hurt me, and I’ve had bad responses from audiences which hurt even more, but in the end you have to learn from those experiences and ultimately remember not to take it all too seriously!

      • Your fan

        Yes, I totally agree. I haven’t thought about it in that way. It’s true that people can be cruel (especially on Internet where we are anonymous). Without doubts Zdenek shows he has “eggs” ;) releasing his own podcasts and clearly letting people know that you are his, let’s say, idol, because it immediately leads to comparisons. However, I suppose you both have your own specific audience (which not necessary have to be the same), and it’s great that there is a variety of teachers and teaching styles on the Internet, so everyone can find something that best suits to him/her needs. Working using only your voice is a really challenging task, you can’t help yourself with facial espressions or gestures. You have to take in mind not only what are you talking about but also how it sounds. What’s more- what to do to make listeners engaged to the very end. It’s really difficult.

        I hope Zdenek keeps doing his podcasts, achieve his goals and feel more comfortable as a presenter, definitely his English level is great. I wish you all the best guys!

      • Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it ;)

  • Anna

    Well done, Zdenek!!!I’m bursting with admiring envy with you! To have got ahold of Luke Thompson and to have recorded a nice podcast with him is more than luck – it’s GREAT luck! It’s very interesting and engaging! Many things you are touching upon in the interview just coincide with my own experience, they really do!)) For example, when I came across LEP a fell in love with it there and then and it has been my favourite since that time. And “Mind your English” is also my favourite sitcom. I adore it! I even have downloaded many of the episodes and watch them time and again. Despite it being old-fashioned in the way the show was made (as Luke said) I like it for all that. I find it very funny and not at all off-colour))) I have a sense of humour and even the episodes ridiculing Russians did not hurt my feelings at all, it just made me laugh- and that’s all there is to it)). Of course, it would be great if somebody (it may be Luke- why not?!!) could create a new version of “Mind your English”. So, Zdenek, it’s not for nothing that your surname and your interviewee’s name coincide practically). Thank you very much!! It’s a good job! Looking forward to the two other parts!

    • Thanks for the comment Anna, I’m sure Zdenek’s going to be happy to read it.
      I’d love to remake Mind Your Language (UK title) as you noticed. The point I was trying to make about the original 70s show is that I personally don’t find it offensive, but a UK audience would be turned off by the general tone. We’re pretty sensitive about that kind of thing, perhaps too much, perhaps not. If I got the chance to remake it, I would do it in a realistic, documentary style, like The Office. ;)