Monthly Archives: August 2017

474. Holiday Diary (Part 1) New Arrival, New Destinations

Hi everyone, I’m back from my holiday so here’s a new episode of the podcast. In this one you’ll hear me talking about some recent news (including quite a big announcement) and then an account of what we did on holiday including some descriptions, opinions and stories. There’s talk of disturbing political events, dodgy car rental experiences, and a couple of beautiful cities where urban life meets wild nature. Enjoy!

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Notes & Transcript

Some of this text (below) is a full transcript of what I say in the episode, and other parts are just basic notes which I used while recording. So it’s not a 100% complete script.

Hello! I’m back from holiday!

How are you? Did you have a good August? Did you go anywhere?

Let us know in the comment section what you’ve been up to.

In this episode I want to just tell you about my holiday.

As you know, I’ve been away and it’s become sort of customary for me to give you a sort of holiday report whenever I come back from a trip away, so that’s what I’m going to do in this episode.

I’m going to describe places we visited, things we saw and I’ll tell a few little anecdotes along the way and give you my opinions on some things.

You will find some notes and transcriptions on the page for this episode if you want to read some of the words I’m saying, for example if you hear me say something in particular and you’re not sure what it is, check the episode page it will probably be there.

I don’t know how long this is going to be. I might divide it into a couple of episodes. It’ll be as long as it takes for me to just feel like I’ve told you the things that are on my mind and were on my mind while we were away.

Just before we start

  • Andy interview part 2 (Episode 472) – it seems a lot of people were quite moved by Andy’s story. It was an emotional one. Andy deserves some respect for sharing it with us and for managing to get through such a terrifying experience when he was relatively young. It’s also interesting to see in the comments that many of you have had similar experiences to Andy or your lives have been affected by cancer in some way, and you have used running as a way to deal with it and so you found his account to be particularly poignant. Unfortunately cancer touches many people’s lives in one way or another. But a story in which someone beats it is always a reassuring boost to anyone who knows about it.
  • Website only stuff – I hope you enjoyed some of the website only material I uploaded while I was away. There are three things in the episode archive that you won’t know about if you just subscribe to the audio podcast. One is an episode of Zdenek’s English Podcast in which he recorded us speaking in London when we met there and we had fun teaching some crime-related idioms and just making up some stuff about my supposed criminal past. The second thing is a DVD commentary track that I recorded with James for Star Wars Episode 4. We just sat down in his flat one evening, put on his Star Wars DVD and recorded our own commentary. That’s just for the Star Wars fans I suppose. You can just listen to it, or watch the film and listen at the same time and you’ll hear James and me discussing the various scenes, making fun of the film, doing some impressions of the characters and generally messing around over the top of the film. Then the third thing is a long musical mix that James and I did using his vinyl record collection. He has a lot of vinyl records, many of them original 7inch and 12inch singles from the 60s, 70s and 80s. We went through his records in a long mix and the plan was to go through a history of British music. THe mix has some speaking between the records and you’ll hear music all the way from 1961 to the mid 90s when we ran out of time. If you like music and you’d like to learn a bit about the UK’s musical history, check it out.
  • Transcript projects – The Orion Team and Andromeda Team have been busy producing more and more transcripts. You can now find over 250 finished scripts and also many scripts which are 100% proofread. Go to the transcripts page on my website for more info. I’ll be updating that page soon to make it easier for you to find the transcripts.

So, the holiday.

Where did we go? And why?

We wanted to have kind of a blowout – that’s a fairly big holiday as a celebration because my wife is pregnant. Yes, she’s pregnant, we’re going to have a baby so we wanted to go on another big trip while it’s just the two of us before the baby arrives.

That’s right – my wife is pregnant. We’re going to have a baby in December.
That’s kind of a big deal isn’t it?

If you are now thinking of writing to me by email or in the comment section to send me a message about this, and you’re wondering what to write exactly. Here are some things that would be appropriate.

Congratulations!
Very happy for you!
Fantastic news!
That’s great!
When is it due?
Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl?
Do you have any ideas for names?
Are you ready?

Those are some appropriate things.
Basically, congratulating us and wishing us well.

Needless to say, anything other than that would be inappropriate, right?

No doubt some of you will choose to think about the podcast and how that might be affected by this oncoming change in my life.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to stop doing the podcast because I’m having a baby (correction: my wife is actually the one who is going to have the baby, I’m just going stand there, let her dig her fingernails into the back of my hand and hope for the best.)

It’s true, things are bound to change in my life because of this and certainly at the beginning when the baby is newly born it might be hard to record and upload episodes as regularly as normal, but I definitely plan to carry on the podcast because honestly, this podcast is like my job these days – it is a job because I get income from sponsorship. It is a job I thoroughly enjoy and that I chose for myself.

Confucius: Choose a job you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Quotefancy-23697-3840x2160

But it is a job nonetheless.

So there are several reasons why I plan to continue doing it. I’m not about to just abandon it.

So we chose to have a big trip to celebrate our last summer holiday just the two of us.

This would be our last holiday just the two of us! We kept saying, “It’s our last summer together!”

We’ve always gone abroad for our recent holidays – it seems alternating between parts of Asia and North America. Indonesia, California, Thailand, Japan.

But we think that with kids it would be easier and also safer to go on holiday in France or the UK.

So, this year we wanted one more fairly big trip!

2 years ago we had our honeymoon in California – we had an amazing time and had a few mini adventures involving bears outside tents and injuries on hiking trails (I made something like 8 podcast episodes about it! Called California Road Trip)

But there were things we didn’t manage to do or see on that trip and we always said “We’ll come back and do it next time” – at the time it helped deal with the disappointment of knowing were missing something, like for example the Grand Canyon or something else we really wanted to experience. “We’ll get it next time” we would say.

You can’t always see everything you want.

So this time we decided to have what we’re calling a ‘babymoon’ by going back to that part of the world to do the things we missed out on last time, just as a big final holiday just the two of us.

So, we went back to the USA – to Southern California for some days and then quite a lot of time exploring the National Parks and areas within the Navajo Nation territories. Places like Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Monument Valley, Lake Powell and The Grand Canyon. Incredible landscapes, natural scenery and wild beauty – but also the kind of infrastructure that would make it possible for my pregnant wife to see all that stuff without it being too inconvenient or risky.

So this is like the California Road Trip 2 but this time we went to lots of other states too, including Nevada, Arizona and Utah.

Back to the USA and for some reason I feel slightly sheepish about telling you that.

Feeling sheepish = slightly embarrassed, uncomfortable or unsure about something.

Why?

Politics

Maybe because of the political situation over there which is throwing a weird shadow on everything. It feels like a controversial time to go over there, as if you’re somehow taking part in it, validating it or making a statement about it.

There was nothing political about our trip so that has nothing to do with it.

It was hard to escape the politics there though, but only on the TV, mostly.

In our everyday experience we didn’t see any trouble, unrest, no anti-Trump rallies, no white nationalists marching around. We saw a couple of bumper stickers saying MAGA and also a poster that said “Hillary for Prison 2016” but that was it. A couple of people we met talked about how ashamed they were that Trump was their president and seemed surprised that we still wanted to visit the country.

But generally speaking, everyone we met – including people I imagine had voted for Trump and others who hadn’t – everyone was very polite and nice to us and apparently to each other too.

On the TV though, there were scenes of violence and chaos as fighting broke out between white supremacists and anti-facists in Charlottesville Virginia, on the other side of the country.

On TV it was fighting, chaos, debates, angry tweets, all kinds of drama. I took a look at Twitter a few times and there was a lot of quite angry debate on there with strong opinions on both sides – those who were clearly against the white supremacist groups and those who defended them. It felt at times like the country was in turmoil.

Then we looked out of the window and it was just silence, maybe a car driving by.

It just showed me the sharp contrast between the reality of TV and the internet (because I think the internet is the new mainstream media – despite what all the YouTubers think – it’s fast becoming the mainstream media, especially when they get more views than many TV shows). It showed the contrast between what you get in the media, and what you actually experience, but then again we were just tourists and were probably just scratching the surface.

Reminds me of Bill Hicks www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGjuPJskNRE

I could go into all the complicated politics of what happened in Charlottesville but I think I won’t, in this episode.

I could describe the reasons why white nationalists were marching through a town in Virginia (on the other side of the country to California), why they were waving confederate flags, why some of them had swastika flags, why they were shouting Trump Trump Trump and MAGA. I could go into how they fought with anti-facist protestors, and how we’re not sure who started the fighting. I could talk about how someone from the white supremacist side drove a car into the anti-facists, killing a woman and injuring 20 others, and I could go into why many people feel so upset and angry with their president for not taking a clear position on these people who some describe as fascists and neo-Nazis, and how lots of people believe Trump is somehow encouraging these people.

I could go into all of that, but this episode is supposed to be about a travelling experience, not about a fight in a town on the other side of the country.

I might come back to it in another episode. I’ll see how I feel.

The Holiday

Itinerary
Paris – Montreal (half a da) – L.A. (a few days) – Vegas (one evening is enough!) – National Parks & Canyons – Vegas (for about 2 hours) – L.A. (a few more days) – Paris – Bed!

Cities and national parks. Urban areas with metropolitan life and amazing geological features in desert canyons.

Montreal

One afternoon and an evening.

We hung out mainly in the Mont Royal area and the old town.

  • Reasons Montreal is an awesome place
    People are really friendly and polite.
    Everyone’s bilingual, which is amazing. It’s shows that it’s totally possible for a whole city to be bilingual. No need to panic and freak out about several languages being spoken in a city at the same time.
  • It’s really diverse and in a good way because everyone’s really chilled out and there seems to be a lot of mixing between ethnic groups and not a lot of tension or anything.
  • They have this food called “poutine” which is basically French fries covered in cheese and gravy – not that healthy but it is seriously tasty.
  • The city has this nice colonial vibe to it and there’s loads of greenery everywhere. In the streets we walked down there were leafy trees, big bushes outside people’s houses, just plants growing everywhere – some of them planted, some of them weeds, but it felt like there was lots of plant life almost taking over the city, which is great. In Paris, it’s all stone and as a result it can feel a bit brutal. The greenery adds some much-needed calm to the place and also oxygen.
  • The buildings are really cool-looking, with really interesting looking staircases outside them and awesome wrought iron balconies and verandas.
  • Montreal has access to some amazing wilderness areas like local mountains, lakes and forests so you can get into nature really quickly while also enjoying the benefits of living in a city.

We were walking around going, “oh my word this is the perfect city for us”.

But, the bad side is that in winter it’s totally freezing and everything gets covered in 4 feet of snow, which makes life really inconvenient.

I know some of you listening to this live in similar places. What’s that like? How bad is that really?

Anyway, I loved Montreal and would gladly return there one day.

I like all the space, the convenience, the feeling of being in the ‘new world’, the vast natural landscapes and all that, but it’s Canada so you don’t get the feeling you’re in a completely crazy country where people shoot each other and stuff like that. I’d love to go back to Canada again one day. I did travel there for a month when I was 19 with my cousin Oliver and we had an amazing time then too. We’d very much like to go back there. We were even talking of moving there, but we don’t want to leave our family and friends behind.

Left Montreal and Flew to Los Angeles

Nightmare rental car experience with “Right Cars”.

Arrive and the woman at the info desk doesn’t know the company. Not a good start.
We work out that we need to get a shuttle to a car park a couple of kilometres away from the airport. A car park.

Everyone else is getting out of the shuttle at the proper rental places, getting greeted with smiling service agents from Enterprise and Avis.

We’re the last ones on the bus. Dropped off and told to go around the corner. “Round the corner! Round the corner! Just go on round the corner sir.”

At least they called me sir.
Tried to call them. Call centre hell.
Now I’m on hold in blazing sunshine in a car park, or parking lot.

It’s even called the cell phone lot. There’s no chance of not standing there on your cell phone, that’s the name of the place.

Finally get through to someone. There’s a driver coming.
We’re expecting a shuttle.
Dude turns up in a rental car.

We get in, asking questions. He tells us the shuttles are in the garage. Both of them just broke down this week.

OK.

We pick up the car, they add some other charges we didn’t know about like a toll road charge. Never went through a toll road.

And the bill and the receipt didn’t match but we were told it would be sorted out because the guy wasn’t there.

Shady dealings.

I’d ordered a GPS with it too and he said “Do you still want the GPS?” after we’d already paid.

Nah, that’s fine I took a good look at the city from the plane window, I think I’ve got it all worked out. I’ve played a lot of GTA5 I think I know my way around this city.
I watch a lot of movies, I know LA like the back of my hand, I’ll be fine.
Of course we wanted the GPS. “Do you still want it?”
No it’s ok, I’ve decided to just use the force. Thanks.

What’s it like walking around in LA? (I talked about this a bit in previous episodes)
Like being in a movie
GTA5
Sunset Boulevard
Cool looking little shops and bars.
Hippie stuff everywhere.
Shops selling jewelry and cool clothes.
Constant smell of vaping, but not seeing where it came from.
Vegan coffee shops and stuff.
Amazing sunshine, lazy cars drifting past.
50s style burger joints and dudes on cool bicycles.
Tattoo’d people, bikers.
Stopped at a sports bar.
First hearing of Hotel California (this ubiquitous song that you hear everywhere)

Los Angeles is a big city with millions of people, an urban place where everyone drives, but there is a surprising amount of nature there with lots of wild plants, cactuses, trees, animal life, and hills with tree-filled canyons. You feel like it’s not difficult to get into nature quite easily. It’s not exactly like it is in the movies. In many ways, it’s better.

To be continued in Part 2 with some content about: Modern art, astronomy vs astrology, flat-earth conspiracy theories and more descriptions & stories!

Thanks for listening.

Luke

Oasis of calm - in the middle of Silverlake, Los Angeles.

Oasis of calm – in the middle of Silverlake, Los Angeles.

[Website only] A History of British Pop – A Musical Tour through James’ Vinyl Collection


A History of British Pop – a musical tour through James’ vinyl collection

This is a LONG musical mix using James’ vinyl record collection. Think of it as Jim & Luke’s Rock Radio Show with a history of British pop.

Website only – no download available, but you can listen using the Mixcloud app.

We decided to do this mix (with comments) featuring key moments in British pop and rock music only using the records in James’ vinyl collection, starting in 1961 and ending in the mid-nineties.

Please enjoy this musical journey through British history, with some commentary by James and me.

Track list

Part 1

  1. The Shadows – The Savage
  2. The Beatles – Twist & Shout
  3. The Kinks – You really got me
  4. The Who – Pictures of Lily
  5. The Rolling Stones – Get offa my cloud
  6. The Beatles – I am the Walrus
  7. Cream – Strange brew
  8. Procul Harum – A whiter shade of pale
  9. The Beatles – Come together
  10. The Kinks – Lola
  11. Black Sabbath – Paranoid
  12. Status Quo – Ride my paper plane
  13. Led Zeppelin – Rock & Roll
  14. The Rolling Stones – Tumbling dice
  15. T Rex – Children of the revolution
  16. Roxy Music – Virginia plain
  17. David Bowie – Fame
  18. The Who – Success story
  19. The Sex Pistols – Pretty vacant
  20. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Sex & Drugs & Rock n Roll
  21. The Buzzcocks – Lipstick
  22. Dr Feelgood – ?
  23. The Police – So Lonely
  24. Madness – My Girl
  25. Joy Division – Transmission

Part 2

  1. The Specials – Ghost Town
  2. Depeche Mode – I just can’t get enough
  3. Fun Boy Three (feat. Bananarama) – It ain’t what you do (it’s the way that you do it)
  4. Musical Youth – Pass the dutchie
  5. The Smiths – How soon is now?
  6. Pet Shop Boys – West end girls
  7. The Stranglers – Golden brown
  8. Motorhead – Iron Fist
  9. David Bowie – Let’s Dance
  10. The Cure – Close to you
  11. The Jesus & Mary Chain – April Skies
  12. The Stone Roses – Elephant stone
  13. The Happy Mondays – Hallelujah
  14. A Guy Called Gerald – Voodoo ray
  15. 808 State – Pacific
  16. Orbital – Chime
  17. Primal Scream – Don’t fight it, feel it
  18. Saint Etienne – Join our club
  19. Manic Street Preachers – Motorcycle emptiness
  20. Oasis – Supersonic
  21. The Prodigy – No good start the dance

There are so many other tracks we wanted to play but couldn’t because there wasn’t enough time. Maybe one day we can do this again! Leave your comments below to tell us which tunes are your favourites! Thanks for listening. :)

473. Explaining the Rules of Cricket (with Dad)

Everything you need to know about the world’s 2nd most popular spectator sport, cricket. I’m joined by my Dad, Rick Thompson and we describe the rules, the appeal of the game and also some expressions in English that come from cricket.

[DOWNLOAD]

It’s summer in the UK and at this time of year there are various sounds that you might hear in a typical English village, the sound of bees buzzing, kids playing in the playground, an ice-cream van and perhaps the smack of leather on willow (the sound of a cricket ball – a hard, heavy ball covered in leather, being hit by a wooden cricket bat made of willow) those sounds coming from a game of cricket on the local village green.

Also, the sounds of cricket make their way into your home during the summer months as people listen on the radio or watch the coverage on TV.

International test match cricket is a feature of the summertime in England and is somehow deeply rooted into English life. It’s one of those cliches of rural England – sandwiches, afternoon tea and cricket on the green.

But for many foreign people who don’t play cricket it can seem like a weird antiquated slow game with rules that nobody understands. People are surprised that a game of cricket can last several days. Americans are often horrified to discover that games often end in a draw with no winner at the end.

The fact is, cricket is a fantastic game which requires strategy but there are many moments of dramatic action and great skill and ability shown by the players.

My Dad is a big fan of cricket. He used to play it when he was younger and has always followed the matches on the radio. I’ve been threatening for a while to do an episode about cricket, to somehow achieve the impossible and explain cricket to the world, and my Dad is going to join me.

So sit back, have a cup of tea and some cake, and try to get your head around this wonderful game.

And stay tuned for some nice idiomatic expressions which we use in English and which originally came from the game of cricket.


Well, that was a valiant effort by us. I hope you agree! But I wonder if you managed to keep up with all of it! If you are listening all the way to the end and you’re still alive – well done!

You may have got lost at some point along the way, or did you follow all of it? Let me know.

In any case I hope you got something out of that conversation, even if it is a sense that cricket is worth getting enthusiastic about even if you don’t fully understand it, and that it’s a big thing in the UK and many other countries around the world.

I recommend that you have a look at some cricket being played. There are videos showing you different aspects of cricket on the page for this episode, so check them out.

Also, there was that vocabulary.

Let me just go through the vocabulary again here, just to make it clear.

Vocabulary

  • On a sticky wicket = in a difficult situation (We’re on a bit of a sticky wicket here because of the result of the EU referendum) (NYTimes “It’s a sticky wicket for Obama,” said Bruce Buchanan, a political science professor at the University of Texas at Austin, saying any aggressive move on such a high-profile question would be seen as “a slap in the face to his supporters right after they’ve just handed him a chance to realize his presidential dreams.”)
  • To have a good innings = to have a good long life (How old was he when he died? 94? Oh, so he had a good innings)
  • It’s just not cricket = it’s not fair! (Getting queue jumped, it’s just not cricket, is it?)
  • It hit me for six = it surprised, shocked and stunned you. (When my ex-girlfriend told me she was getting married to my best friend it really hit me for six)
  • I was absolutely bowled over = I was really surprised and amazed (“Bowled over” actually comes from bowling not cricket – when a pin is knocked over by the ball) (We were really bowled over by your presentation, you did a fantastic job!)
  • I’m completely stumped. You’ve stumped me there. = I’m unable to answer that question because it’s too complicated. (I did ok in the listening part, but I was completely stumped by the grammar questions)
  • You’ve caught me out there. = You’ve asked me a difficult question which has shown that I’ve made a mistake. (What about the outstanding tax payments on your public accounting report? There’s 300 pounds missing! – Oh, you’ve caught me out there, hah, yes I forgot to include them!)

Videos

Stephen Fry explains LBW in cricket

Shane Warne from Australia – the greatest spin bowler ever

Great bowling

Excellent batting

Amazing catches

Thanks for listening!

[Website Only] Star Wars DVD Commentary (with James) ***Contains swearing – Not suitable for Children***

Star Wars: DVD Commentary

Only available on the website, here is a Star Wars DVD commentary by James and me.

If you’re not a Star Wars fan, this might not be for you.

Warning: Contains swearing – Not suitable for children!

This episode is full of rambling, comedy sketches, impressions and descriptions of what happens in Star Wars Episode 4 A New Hope, the original Star Wars film.

Get yourself a copy of the Special Edition version, on DVD or on iTunes and get ready to watch it with us. It’ll be just like you’re sitting there with us, watching this classic movie.

If you’re not watching Star Wars while listening, perhaps we can just keep you entertained for the next two hours!

Unfortunately, this episode is not available for download, but you can listen to it on the Mixcloud app, or at the top of this page. :)

Why does the UK have so many accents? (Recorded February 2017)

This episode was originally recorded in February 2017 and is being uploaded in August 2017. In this episode I’m going to answer several questions from listeners about accents, including how regional accents occur in the UK and why there are so many accents there. Video available.

[DOWNLOAD]

Video – I’m not sick, I’m English, and it was winter. ;)

uk accents

There is a very wide variety of accents in the UK (not to mention the accents you find in other English-speaking countries like Ireland, Canada, the USA, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and more. English is a hugely diverse language and in my experience foreign learners of English don’t usually know a lot about the different accents – particularly all the regional varieties in the UK, and they often just find it difficult to understand them, and as a result learners of English can’t enjoy the great variety of sounds in English and the sheer diversity of character and personality you get from the different varieties of English, and therefore it’s worth talking about on the podcast.

This is such a big subject that to do it justice would require me to write a whole book about it. Instead I just do episodes about accents fairly regularly in an effort to cover as much of the topic as possible. For example, I recently did some episodes about British accents that you hear in the Lord of the Rings films, which gave me a chance to talk about the different associations we have with different accents in the UK and how those associations were used to provide some colour and character to the movie versions of Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings stories. I also did episodes about the accents you might hear in Glasgow and I spoke to Korean Billy about regional dialects and accents too.

Since uploading those episodes I’ve noticed a few comments from listeners wondering why there are so many accents in the UK, so I’ve prepared this episode which I hope will help you understand that a bit more.

The plan, in this episode (or episodes) is to talk about these things:

  • Why there are so many accents in the UK
  • How our accents develop as part of a natural psychological process
  • What this means for learners of English and teachers of English

Also, we’ll listen to someone speaking in a Liverpool accent and I’ll help you understand it

So, this episode is about the way people speak, but it’s also about history, psychology, how to learn English, what my friends sound like, and how to understand a football player from Liverpool.

How are all those things connected? Listen on and you’ll find out!

Why do we have so many accents in the UK? (Communication Accommodation Theory)

One of the things I said in those episodes about LOTR was that there is a really wide variety of accents in the UK, and that your accent reveals lots of things about you such as where in the country you’re from and what social background you come from.

Remember, when I say “Accent” this means simply the way that you pronounce the words you’re using.

If you remember, one of the things I mentioned in one of those episodes was a quote from George Bernard Shaw, which said “It is impossible for an Englishman to open his mouth without making some other Englishman hate or despise him”, George Bernard Shaw.

This gives the impression that we all hate each other of course, and I don’t agree. The point which is made by this quote is that we all have prejudices about each other’s accent and this is an expression of the class system probably. That middle class people probably look down on people with strong regional accents and resent people who speak with very posh accents and so on…

Here’s a comment from Nick in response to those episodes.

Nick 2 hours ago – [These bits in brackets are Luke’s comments]
What a complicated life there in the UK… Everybody resents each other because of their accents… [we don’t resent each other really, but we do judge each other a bit – we also love each others accents too] Wow I never thought that accents in the UK had such an important role in people’s lives. [Yes, they’re very important indicators of our identity – but they’re also a source of great fun, joy, amusement and celebration] Luke, thanks for this episode. You opened up the UK in a new way for me. Even though I knew about different accents in the UK (and from your podcast too) I somehow didn’t realize the deep meaning of accents in English life.
But I don’t really understand how it happened that you have so many accents in quite a small area. I can understand that different levels of society may have different words in their vocabulary, but why they should have SUCH different accents especially when they live in one city or region… maybe it was people’s desire to make something with the language, or at least with pronunciation in order to be somehow unique from others. Like different groups of people or subcultures dress in different clothes or different nations have their own folk costumes.

This is a really good question and there are so many interesting aspects to the answer. I’m now going to try and deal with that question.

Why do we have so many accents in the UK?

It could be explained by “Communication Accommodation Theory” or CAT for short.

Collins dictionary: “Accommodation” 3. countable noun
Accommodation is a kind of agreement between different people which enables them to exist together without trouble. (not a written agreement, but a social or psychological tendency to come closer to each other and form communities based on shared behaviour)

Communication Accommodation Theory suggests that the way we communicate is an expression of our desire or natural tendency to become part of a social group.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communication_accommodation_theory (Wikipedia)

E.g. When I was living in Japan I picked up a lot of the body language because I wanted to fit in, basically. I didn’t even realise I was doing it.

That’s non-verbal communication, but we’re talking about verbal communication.

Also, it’s not just limited to individuals. Imagine whole communities of people, over many many generations being affected by this process.

scottthornbury.wordpress.com/2013/01/06/a-is-for-accommodation/ (Thornbury)

This could explain:

  • Why there are so many different accents associated with different regions in the UK
    For example, why people in Liverpool speak differently to people in Manchester, or why the ‘cockney’ dialect came about (more on this kind of thing in a bit)
  • Why we naturally change the way we speak depending on the people around us
  • Why speaking to a diverse range of people is very good for your accent
  • Why native English speakers sometimes change the way they speak when talking to foreigners – e.g. when travelling or meeting a foreign person.

The tendency is to unconsciously adapt.

I’m going to try and deal with all these things, but not quite in that order!

Why native speakers sometimes adapt their language when talking to foreigners
According to Scott Thornbury (a well-known teacher and author of teaching materials and a bit of a legend in the world of English teaching) there are two versions – ‘caretaker talk’ and ‘foreigner talk’.

“This is especially obvious in the way we talk to children and non-native speakers, [using] forms of talk called ‘caretaker talk’ and ‘foreigner talk’, respectively. Both varieties are characterized by considerable simplification, although there are significant differences. Caretaker talk is often pitched higher and is slower than talk used with adults, but, while simpler, is nearly always grammatically well-formed. Foreigner talk, on the other hand, tolerates greater use of non-grammatical, pidgin-like forms, as in ‘me wait you here’, or ‘you like drink much, no?’”
I’ve seen this happening to some English teachers. They adapt their speech to the students, speaking this weird form of English that’s easy for foreigners to understand but might not be helping them learn.

It’s really difficult to judge it correctly as a teacher. How much do you grade your language, and how do you do it? It’s important to speak correctly – meaning in the sort of full English that you normally would use and in the same way that most native speakers talk to each other, while making sure it’s comprehensible. If you’re too ‘natural’ your students won’t understand you. But if you simplify your English too much, you end up doing this ‘foreigner talk’ which is just not a good model of the language.

I guess this is part of being a good teacher; knowing how to strike the balance between being comprehensible and yet also realistic and natural.

I always try to keep these things in mind when I speak. It’s probably why my voice becomes more and more like standard RP, which I think is just generally accepted to be clearest version of the language, and that’s how I was brought up to speak by my parents. That’s not to say other versions of the language aren’t correct of course, and as I’ve said many times before I love the different accents.

Do I accommodate when I talk to native speakers with different accents?

Yes I do – a bit – I mean, only to accents that are a part of me. I have a few slightly different accents in me and my speech slides in slightly different directions depending on who I am with. They’re not radical changes because I’m still being myself, but my speech does change a little bit. When I’m back in Birmingham my speech becomes a bit more Brummie. When I’m in London it does the same. Only a little bit of course. This is totally normal.

It’s also why it’s important to speak to other people on this podcast because it’s in the interaction with others that language really becomes most alive and natural. When I’m talking to you on my own I speak in my neutral voice, but when I’m in conversation with others you might hear my voice changing slightly. You might not notice to be honest because it’s a pretty mild change. Perhaps it doesn’t happen that much because I am still aware that I’m being listened to by my audience.

For example, when I spoke to Rob Ager from Liverpool about movies last year, my accent didn’t change that much. But maybe if I’d spent the weekend in Liverpool, just hanging out and talking, my accent might have changed a little bit.

When I lived in Japan I spent a lot of time working with people from Australia and apparently I picked up some of accent – particularly the rising intonation pattern. So, the conclusion – I do accommodate a bit, but usually to an accent that I have personal history with, and only if I’m exposed to it for fairly long periods of time and when I’m feeling self-conscious it happens less.
Certainly when I’m back in Birmingham my accent changes a bit, because that’s where I spent a lot time when I was younger.

Cat’s question: What are Paul and Amber’s accents?
Amber & I are pretty similar. It’s just RP. Paul speaks RP too but with a bit more local influence. He’s from Kent so he speaks with some traces of a Kentish accent – e.g. glottal stops. “Native speaker” “Excited” Maybe some “th” sounds sound a bit like “d” or “v” sounds.

Some people seem to think that his voice is influenced by French. It’s isn’t.

That kind of influence would only happen if French was Paul’s first language, and he’d learned English as a second language in adulthood. That’s not the case – in fact to an extent he learned both languages while growing up. He’s certainly native level in English, and he probably is native level in French too. He certainly sounds it. So, because he’s got, basically, two native level languages, they exist independently in his head and therefore don’t influence each other much in terms of accent. Every now and then it influences his vocabulary but he instantly recognises it and self-corrects. You might have heard him do it on the podcast sometimes.

Paul speaks very clearly, which is evident in the way people always tell him that they can understand what he’s saying. His English accent is influenced more by where he grew up in the south-east of England and by the wide variety of people he’s spoken to in his life. He spent many years travelling with Apple, studying and living in different parts of the UK. RP again is probably the default setting for someone like Paul, when trying to speak clearly, but those glottal stops and some dropped consonant sounds reveal that his most formative time for English was in Canterbury, and he is also not the sort of person to listen to a lot of BBC Radio 4.
Paul is also a natural mimic. He’s able to hold different accents in his head at the same time and switch between them. He’s something of a chameleon in that way. Put him in with a bunch of Scottish people for a long time and he’d probably emerge with traces of that accent I expect. Anyway, when he’s with Amber and me his accent is pretty much like ours but with traces of his Kentish background, which is why he says “Native speaker” like that.

So, that’s a bit about ‘accommodation theory’ in relation to my friends and me.
What about Nick’s original question about the diversity of accents in the UK. I’m going to talk more specifically about that in a moment.

But first let’s check out a funny example of a professional footballer from Liverpool who moved to France to play for Olympique de Marseille football club.

Now this is an example of an English person accommodating to French people around him, and we see that this is certainly not happening to Paul Taylor

Joey Barton’s weird French accent

Who is Joey Barton? What was the situation?

Joey Barton speaking with this weird French voice

He was heavily criticised for this – a lot of people mocked him and called him stupid.
He’s definitely not stupid. Maybe he wasn’t aware of the different ways he could have changed his voice – e.g. speaking with RP probably just wasn’t something that would occur to him. This lad is a scouser through and through. He’s not going to start speaking RP – he’s going to accommodate to the French instead.

The reason he’s doing it, as explained by accommodation theory is to make it easier for the French journalists to understand him. His scouse accent is difficult for the French to understand. He was just trying to be intelligible and he ended up accommodating to their speech.

Also he did it to win social approval. I imagine being the only English guy there, in front of all those French journalists, with the pressure of playing for this big club and not speaking French, he wanted to win their approval. This probably happens in Football quite a lot because of the emphasis on teamwork. I expect during training and while bantering with other players and staff, Barton had to very quickly adapt his speech to be part of the team. I imagine speaking Scouse English more clearly wouldn’t help the French.

(Joey Barton talks about the French accent incident)

It’s not just speech – it’s also non-verbal communication. Barton does a couple of typically French things, including the kind of ‘sigh’ or blowing of air through the lips which is really common.

According to research we are naturally wired to copy the speech and behavioural patterns of the people we’re talking to. It’s a natural, neurological process that humans engage in when they want to communicate, be understood and be accepted by others.

Significance for Learning English
For learning English this suggests some of the most important ways to improve your English pronunciation and your English in general are to a) actually communicate with people in real conversations about real things b) have the desire to understand others and really be understood by others c) have the desire to share things (info) with the people you’re communicating with d) have the desire to be socially accepted by the people you’re talking to.

So, spend time talking naturally with English speakers because you want to! Or at least, practise communicating in English not just because you think it’s important for your career or for your English, but because you are genuinely interested in sharing ideas, finding out about people and the world, and broadening the scope of your identity. The more motivated you are by these things, the more you’re opening yourself up to the natural neurological conditions for language learning.

Got it? Talking to different people with good English and who come from diverse origins about things you are interested in, really helps your English and your accent in particular!
Being engaged in genuine communication because you care about sharing ideas is going to help your brain in a natural process of language learning.

Other work helps too – like studying the phonemic chart, analysing the physical ways we pronounce different sounds, how speech is connected and all that stuff, and doing plenty and plenty of mechanical, physical practice – it’s important too, but certainly this theory suggests that our brains are wired to adapt our speech patterns in the right conditions as part of a social process.

But also, it may be vital for you to learn how to accommodate yourself to the English of the people you’re talking to. This from Scott Thornbury:

So, what are the implications for language teaching? In the interests both of intelligibility and establishing ‘comity’, Joey Barton’s adaptive accent strategy may be the way to go. For learners of English, whose interlocutors may not themselves be native speakers, this may mean learning to adapt to other non-native speaker accents. As Jenkins (2007: 238) argues, ‘in international communication, the ability to accommodate to interlocutors with other first languages than one’s own… is a far more important skill than the ability to imitate the English of a native speaker.’

So, when you’re chatting to other non native speakers in English, how should you make yourself more intelligible in order to establish good relations? Do you suddenly start sounding like Luke Thompson, or do you accommodate to their way of speaking, following the rule of accommodation theory?

What do you think? Feel free to either agree with accommodation theory here, or disagree with it, but do give a good reason why.

But why are there so many accents in the UK?

It’s a really complex question which probably needs to be answered by someone with a PhD on the subject, but here’s my answer!

It’s probably a big mix of geography, culture, politics, history and human nature.
Tribalism.

Perhaps it’s because we’re a small nation with quite a high population.

Geography. We’re an island (group of islands actually) so that creates a clear land border – meaning that we’re a bit more ‘penned in’ than some other cultures.

The class system. RP was the standardised version, but ordinary folk spoke in their own way and weren’t expected to speak RP because they knew their place. They could never break away from that. We never had a revolution proclaiming everyone as equal, so working people didn’t take on the standard form of English.

Irregular relationship between the written word (spelling) and the spoken version mean that the spoken version is perhaps more open to interpretation than others. Our written language is not phonetic, therefore the pronunciation is not tied down. There’s no solid rule book on how to pronounce English – there’s the phonetic chart, but that is based on RP and that’s where the class system comes into it. RP is associated with a certain class of people and then identity politics come into play.

Perhaps the multicultural ‘mongrel’ nature of the Brits has something to do with it. We’re a mongrel nation. Maybe the diversity of accents is the result of this patchwork or melting pot of different people and languages. E.g. celtic, nordic, germanic, norman French, gallic French, latin, Irish celtic, Scots celtic, commonwealth nations like Jamaica, India & Pakistan – especially Jamaica which has had a massive influence the way young people in London speak, and now media, like American and Australian English that we hear on a daily basis.

Our islands have been visited, invaded, populated and influenced by migrating people and their voices for many many years. This goes deep into the past and continues to this day, even though the official version of history will suggest that we have one unbroken family line (The Royal Family that we all learn about in school). There’s a lot more diversity than this narrative would suggest. This could result in a wide variety of influences, creating diversity which is not obvious just by looking at people. It’s also interesting to me that the narrative of the ‘unbroken line of history’ which we get from the monarchy, is also aligned with a certain way of speaking – this old-fashioned RP which is the standard form. Underneath that standard form, or next to it, there is a lot more variety and diversity.

There was a long period before the emergence of the single unifying monarchy in which the country was essentially split up into different, independent areas, ruled by competing monarchs. Tribalism was seriously important. Think: Game of Thrones. Community, loyalty, rejection of others – these were vitally important principles. It was the breeding ground for different local versions of a language. It must be the same in many other countries.

This relates to aspects of the accommodation theory. Convergence is when people pull together in a community and naturally speak in the same way to express this shared identity. At the same time there is divergence – pulling away from other communities which could be rivals or whatever. If you’re part of one community you’ll speak like them and you won’t speak like the others. Either you’re in one or the other. This could account for why people in Liverpool and Manchester speak differently even though the two cities are pretty close. Just look at the football fans to see how much of a rivalry there is between the two cities.

I expect a number of other factors have come together to cause the UK to have this wide diversity. But perhaps we’re just a lot more aware of the diversity because the place is really connected – it’s a pretty small island and we’re all squeezed in together with a clear natural border of the sea, and the industrial revolution happened there bringing the train – mass transport which suddenly brought everyone much closer together, making us a lot more aware of our different versions of English. I imagine if you examined other countries you would find similar differences in Accent. The USA for example has definite differences, and it’s quite a young country in comparison. So, I expect many countries have similar diversity in accent and dialect, perhaps we’re just a lot more aware of it in the UK.

We also have the class system which has added another dividing line – another factor which pushes communities together (convergence) or pushes them apart (divergence). Perhaps working class communities held onto their accents as a way of expressing their sense of local identity as a contrast to the less region specific upper classes, who seemed to be less fixed geographically. E.g. The Royal Family has it’s own geography, which moves between international borders and not just across domestic community borders. I mean, Prince Phillip for example was born in Greece. The QUeen’s ancestors were German. Despite the fact that they are the figureheads for the UK, they are not really fixed to local areas within the country.

This also would apply to the nobility – the proper upper classes, who probably owned land that perhaps their families hadn’t lived on for centuries. I expect one area of England for example was ruled by one family for a period, then another family became the rulers – either by conquest, trade, marriage etc. The ruling class probably were quite mobile. The people who lived and worked on the land, were of that land for generations. So, working class people have stronger regional accents than upper class people. It’s absolutely nothing to do with so-called “lazy pronunciation”, it’s more to do with identity – strengthening local communities by having their own version of the language. Power, identity and economics.

No governing body to standardise English. Just powerful people through their influence have guided the narrative that RP is the standard form – this also happens to be the English that the educated, wealthy class use.

So, that’s my fairly long and rambling answer Nick.

We’re not finished with accents though. I’ve just talked about how C.A.T. might explain why we have so many accents in the UK, and also what the theory can tell us about things like my accent, the accents of my friends and also how you can work on your accent too. I still plan to spend some more time focusing on specific accents and playing around.

Now, I would like to ask all of you a few questions

  • How many different accents can you identify in your country?
  • Are accents in your country related to geography?
  • Is there a standard accent? Is that accent associated with a particular region?
  • What attitudes to people have about accents where you come from?
  • In English, which accent do you prefer? If you don’t know a region, can you think of an individual person whose accent you like? Feel free to say Amber Minogue of course.
  • If you’ve been shipwrecked and you get washed up on a remote island populated by a local tribe of native people who seem to use English as their main language and yet look like they might be hostile, or hungry, or both, what’s the best way to get into their good books? Speak like me, or speak like them? Or get back in the sea and swim?

[Website content] Luke’s Criminal Past (ZEP Episode 185)

Learn some crime-related idioms and find out some things about Luke’s back-story that may or may not be true. This is an episode of Zdenek’s English Podcast, originally posted by Zdenek on 4 August. Download available below.

[DOWNLOAD]

On 30 July I dropped in on the LEP meetup in London and spent an hour or two chatting to Zdenek Lukas, the English teacher from Czech Republic who is also the man behind Zdenek’s English Podcast.

Zdenek almost always has his voice recorder with him, and this was no exception. We ended up recording an episode of his podcast standing outside the pub together.

If you follow Zdenek’s podcast, you might have already heard it. In any case, I’m presenting it to you here as some extra website content that you might enjoy.

Crime Idioms

In this episode, Zdenek had prepared some crime-related idioms and decided to try and simulate some exchanges with me in order to use the idioms and present them to you. Can you notice the idioms? Do you know what they mean, and how to use them?

By the way, most of the time I was exaggerating, making up stories or playing along with Zdenek’s examples. I’m not really a murderer!

Thanks for listening. Watch out for more website content coming soon.

Luke

472. Andy Johnson at The London School (Part 2) Why Andy runs marathons

Talking to Andy about why he runs marathons, including vocabulary relating to doing exercise, health, fitness, technique, injuries and medical care.

[DOWNLOAD]

Intro Transcript

Here’s the next part of my conversation with Andy Johnson, recorded at The London School of English a few days ago.

Andy is an English teacher, a father of 2 kids, and also a regular runner. He’s done at least one marathon and a few half marathons, and I thought since many of you listening to this podcast will also be runners (in fact some people will be running right now while listening to this) that it might be interesting to hear Andy talking about his reasons for running, the way he does it, the benefits, the difficulties and all the rest of it. So here’s a conversation about running.

If you’re not into running I would still recommend that you listen to this. You might be surprised at how personal it gets when Andy explains his reasons for training for the London marathon 10 years ago. It turns out that running has special significance for Andy and that running the London marathon was a key moment in his life as it marked a significant milestone for him – and running acts as a regular reminder of a particularly difficult experience Andy had when he was younger.

So, this episode is about running, but it’s also about much more than that. I’d like to thank Andy again for taking part in another episode of the podcast and for sharing so much of his story.

Vocab hunters: Watch out for vocabulary relating to doing exercise, health, fitness, technique, injuries and medical care.

So, without further ado you can now listen to our conversation about running.


Outtro Transcript

I just want to thank Andy again for coming on the podcast and telling us about his story. It was a very interesting conversation and I think the closest we’ve come to having tears on the podcast – it was a moving story but no tears this time! I wonder if you held it together out there in podcast land, or did you start welling up at any moment?

Don’t forget that Andy would like you to take his survey about self-directed learning. You can find a link to that on the page for this episode. Andy just wants to know about how you learn English on your own, outside of the classroom environment, and that includes how you use LEP to help with your English.

TAKE ANDY’S SURVEY ABOUT LEARNING

Click the link, the questionnaire will take a couple of minutes and you’ll help Andy with research for his next IATEFL conference talk.

That’s it for this episode. Watch out for some website-only content coming soon. Subscribe to the mailing list to get informed when that is released.

I hope you are continuing to have a good August, if indeed it is August as you listen to this. I’m still on holiday, relaxing and having a lovely time, I hope – I’m actually recording this before I went on holiday, so this is a very weird time situation. Which tense should I be using here, because I’m actually recording right now, in the past, but as I’m talking it’s the future, so my present is your past and your present is my future, so that’s the present past perfect future continuous or something. I am will have been being having a great time and I will have been had been hoped that you will be being having a wonderful time too, in the future.

Thanks for listening to this episode and I’ll speak to you again soon. Bye!

471. Andy Johnson at The London School (Part 1) Lego, Self-directed learning, accents

Talking to Andy about stepping on Lego, Andy’s job, self-directed language learning, accent, and British/American English.

[DOWNLOAD]

Intro Transcript

Today on the podcast I’m talking to Andy Johnson my friend and former colleague from the London School of English, who also looks a bit like Moby if you remember.

Andy has been on this podcast 4 or 5 times before so if you’re a regular listener you’ll know his voice already.

Andy is an English teacher, a marathon runner and a father of two children – in fact his second son was born very recently.

In this conversation you will hear us talking about:

  • The pain of stepping on Lego
  • Recording the podcast in what used to be the boss’s office at The London School of English
  • Developments in Andy’s job and his career
  • Andy’s next conference talk about self-directed learning
  • Where Andy comes from and his accent, including the ways we both say certain words like “Bath, grass, laugh, podcast, ask and after.”
  • The time when my Dad visited The London School of English
  • British and American people speaking English

This is part one of a two part conversation.

Without any further ado, here is part 1.


Andy’s survey

At the next IATEFL conference Andy is planning on doing a presentation about self-directed learning. You heard him talking about it in this episode.

Andy would like some help from you in preparing for the talk. He needs to do some research and he’d like to ask you a few questions about your English learning, particularly how you use this podcast, my website and any other resources for learning English.

He’s created a quick questionnaire and you can find it on the page for this episode. Click the link, answer the questions and you’ll help Andy a lot in his next presentation.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE ANDY’S SURVEY

It basically asks how useful LEP / teacherluke.co.uk and other sites are for learning English and how you find these sites. Andy also asks whether you pay for – or would pay for – additional language tuition. He’s trying to investigate why people are choosing LEP over traditional language courses (if indeed they are).

Stay tuned for the next episode, coming soon, in which you will hear Andy talk about his very personal reasons for training to run the London marathon – and I have to say that the conversation was much more surprising than I had expected and was also quite moving for a few reasons, so check that one out when it arrives.

Don’t forget to join the mailing list so that you’ll get email notifications whenever new episodes are uploaded over the coming days and weeks, and don’t forget to watch out for some website-only content coming soon too.

Thanks for listening and have a great morning, afternoon, evening, night or day whichever part of the world you’re in and whatever you’re up to.

Bye!
Andy and Luke

I’m going on holiday – back in a few weeks !

I’m going on holiday until the end of the month, so I’m going to disappear for a while.

Listen to this message because it has a few announcements about what’s happening with the podcast while I’m gone. Transcript available below.

[DOWNLOAD]

LEPster Meetup Events – Links

Alicante Spain meetup link on FB (6 August)
www.facebook.com/events/132540147345936/

Saint Petersburg LEP group (6 August)
www.facebook.com/spbenglishLEPclub/

Moscow LEP group (6 August)
www.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425/

Tokyo Meetup FB link (19 August)
www.facebook.com/events/874795806006891/

Andromeda Proofreading Team

Email Antonio at ptholome@me.com

Transcript collaboration page https://teacherluke.co.uk/episodes-with-transcripts/transcripts/

Episode Transcript

Here’s a message for you with some announcements that will explain what’s going to be happening with the podcast over the next few weeks, so listen up!

I’m currently sitting in my brother’s flat in South London.

I’m just visiting London for a couple of days to see my brother, to visit LSE, attend to a bit of business and to sort some other things out here.

I was at London School of English the other day, to meet Andy Johnson and to see some of my former colleagues.

But now I’ve got a little bit of time before I head back to Paris on the Eurostar.

So, I’m taking a moment to record this message for you. I’ve got a few things to tell you so listen up!

  1. I’m going away for a while. I’m leaving…

…on holiday for a couple of weeks.

Don’t worry – I will be back of course! The podcast will return.

But, I’m going to be away on holiday until the end of August.

What this means is that I won’t be doing the podcast while I’m away and I probably won’t be on social media a lot either so I might not be able to respond to questions or comments by email, in the comment section and so on because I’ll be taking time off, getting away from it all and just relaxing with my wife on holiday.

You might be thinking – will there be no podcasts until September Luke? When will the podcast return?

There should be some episodes and some website content arriving while I’m on holiday.

2. While I’m away

I’ve recorded a few things recently – including a couple of things here in the UK, and before I go away I’m going to edit them, make them into audio files and then set them to automatically publish while I am away. So, keep an eye on your podcast app, the website, your email inbox if you are subscribed to the mailing list.

Some new content should arrive while I am away, including:
Something I recorded with my Dad at the weekend – not about politics this time
A couple of things with Andy Johnson – recorded at London School of English the other day.
And maybe something else if I have time.

It depends how much I can get done before I leave.

As well as that, there should be one or two website-only episodes too. These will be episodes which won’t appear on the podcast, but which you will be able to listen to on the website – probably a couple of things I’ve done with James – something movie related and something music related.

So, watch out – some podcast episodes will arrive while I’m gone, and there will be a couple of website-only episodes too.

The best way to keep up with both the podcast episodes and the website-only content is to join the mailing list.

If you join the mailing list on the website you’ll receive an email when I upload new stuff.
The “website only” stuff will have a link saying something like “WEBSITE ONLY”.

Less than 5% of my podcast audience actually visits the website. I’m not sure why, considering the amount of content that’s there for you, including all the notes, transcriptions, videos and stuff for each episode, not to mention the episode archive which contains some stuff you will never have discovered if you just listen to podcast episodes through an app on your phone or on iTunes or something.

I know the site is blocked in some places, so there’s not much you can do.

But if you can, check out the website – it doesn’t work very well on a phone, I know, it’s best on a computer.

Have a look in the episode archive for some content that you won’t have seen if you only listen to the podcast.

Anyway, check the website, join the mailing list – confirm the email and then watch out for new podcast episodes and also some website-only content.

3. A WHOLE BUNCH OF LEPSTER MEETUPS

Spain (Alicante)
Japan (Tokyo)
Russia (Moscow and SPB)
London (already occurred)

ALICANTE LEPsters meetup

Attention all LEPsters in ALICANTE Spain!
A meetup is happening there on 6 August with a Rushin’ listener called Alex (from the Moscow meetup group)
Details here www.facebook.com/events/132540147345936/
6 August at 6pm.
Queen Victoria pub/bar/cafe
Calle Mar, 03189 Orihuela (Alicante), España

3 reasons why it’s a good idea for you to go:

  • You can do lots of speaking practice and this is really good for your English. We all know this. You have to take advantage of any opportunities to speak English. This is one of those opportunities.
  • Alex, who is hosting the meetup, is a really nice, friendly guy and an interesting person to talk to. He’s been involved in almost all the Moscow LEPsters meetings, he’s got lots of experience of doing these things, and he’s very interested in meeting up with any LEPsters who are in the area. He’s especially keen to meet podcast listeners from different countries – so this is a cool Russian/Spanish crossover.
  • You can meet friendly people and just have a good time. In my experience LEPsters are nice, interesting people who share a similar outlook on life. It’s definitely worth meeting up with each other because you’ll make friends and you’ll have a good experience meeting like-minded, chatty people.

I heartily encourage you to take part.
Alexander Suvorov is the host.
I expect you will be able to find him there – he won’t be hiding, but perhaps you could ask at the bar if they know where the LEP Meeting is happening.

If you like you can do it discreetly, like you’re a secret agent, but that’s not really necessary.

Saint Petersburg
6 August
Kazanskaya 7, meeting point “Kazanskaya, 7”, 2nd floor of the Cafeteria
6pm – 8pm
www.facebook.com/spbenglishLEPclub/

Moscow
Also on Sunday 6 August, but I’m not sure where! Details should arrive on their FB and VK pages v soon.
www.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425/

Tokyo
Hello Luke, what have you been up to?

Today I have some exciting news!
A LEPster from Russia is coming to Tokyo! He contacted us on facebook
and we decided to have a meet up with him.

www.facebook.com/events/874795806006891/

This is a kind of first joint meet up for us. So I’m very excited.
We are going to have it on 19th of August.
Could you please, by any chance, announce our new meet up on your
podcast or your web site?

Thank you as always.
Cheers
Hideki

They’re getting together in an Izakaya in Shinbashi – they haven’t chosen the exact location yet, but check out the FB page for the event and you’ll see where they decide to do it.

Tokyo Meetup FB link:
www.facebook.com/events/874795806006891/

4. Recent London Meetup

It was organised at quite late notice and I announced it just a few days before it happened, so there wasn’t a big turnout.

In fact, to be honest, only 5 people turned up.

One of them was Zdenek Lukas who was officially hosting it at The Fitzroy Tavern.
The second person was me – yes, I was there! I didn’t mention that I would be coming because when I announced it I wasn’t sure if I could make it, but I was in the UK visiting my parents and I came to London a bit earlier than expected and decided to drop in on the meetup.

The third, fourth and fifth people, it seems, were there but Zdenek and I didn’t see them. One of them was Tomasz – (based on his comment on the FB page it looks like Tomasz turned up at the pub with a couple of friends but couldn’t find anyone!)

We were standing outside the pub drinking and talking – both Zdenek and I were there from 7 to 8.30 – just outside the door on the Charlotte Street side. I’m really sorry you missed us!

Anyway – London LEPsters – and I know there are lots of you out there, you missed out because Zdenek and I had a very nice evening, a couple of drinks, we did a lot of talking and also Zdenek recorded a 30 minute episode of his podcast with the two of us, as he likes to do in situations like that. I expect he’ll be uploading that quite soon – and I’ll probably post the episode on my website if it gets published before I go on holiday.

5. Well done to the Orion Team – they transcribed 100 episodes.

Orion Transcription Team reach 100 episodes
I want to give some respect to all the people who joined the Orion team and did the 100 episodes.
This was done by the Orion team, some ninjas, and a few people working alone.
Check out the huge list of Orion Team members in the comment under Transcript Collaboration page.

TRANSCRIPT COLLABORATION – Write a transcript

So the situation is this

Transcribing and proofreading is a collaborative project done by listeners at a variety of levels, working together for mutual benefit.

The Orion Team is dedicated to transcribing episodes of the podcast, by dividing each episode into 3 minute sections – each member transcribes a section and the transcription is made like that. It’s all done on Google documents.
100 episodes finished.

The next step is proofreading.
This job is for more advanced listeners.

There is now a new team, dedicated to proofreading transcriptions written by the Orion team. This proofreading team is called The Andromeda Team – another group of stars.

Andromeda team use their more advanced skills to check the transcriptions done by the Orion team, and proofread them.

At this stage the Andromeda Proofreading Team is quite small, so I’m making a request for new members.

Calling all listeners with a high level of English. We need you for the Andromeda proofreading team. What you can do is read a finished transcript, and make any changes or corrections which you think are necessary.

On the transcript collaboration page on my website you will see blue boxes (scroll down a bit) including one blue box that says “Finished Transcripts – please help to correct them” – those are the ones that need to be proofread.

You could get into that folder and pick an episode to proofread.

I recommend that you listen to the episode that you’re proofreading.
You can turn any text that you’ve proofread blue, so you and everyone knows what’s been done.
Fully proofread documents will then be moved into the Andromeda Team folder to show that they’ve been proofread.

Transcribing and proofreading – they’re both very good ways to work on your English more intensively and turn listening input into intake. It’s good training that allows you to focus on specific language, specific pronunciation, spelling, grammar and many other things. It’s a great exercise.

It helps me because it means I have more transcripts to offer my listeners.
It helps other listeners because they can read the words they are hearing in episodes.
So, everyone’s a winner.

The best way to get started is to go to the Transcript Collaboration page on my website, and leave a comment saying “I want to join the Andromeda Team” or “I want to do some proofreading!” – Someone should reply to you and then they’ll tell you what to do next.

Or you can send an email to Antonio at ptholome@me.com and say “Hi Antonio, I’d like to join the Andromeda Team – what shall I do?”

It’s all done on Google documents that are shared online.

That’s it then…

So to sum up – I’ll be going away on holiday in a few days and then i’ll disappear for a few weeks, but watch out for some content in the form of a few podcast episodes and some website-only content which should be arriving while I’m away.

Over the coming few weeks I hope you continue to practise your English. Just listening to new episodes is good, or you could check out old ones again because that helps you pick up language more effectively.

Have a lovely August and I’ll be back properly at the end of the month.
All the best,
Luke