Monthly Archives: December 2017

501. Merry Christmas! / Listener Correspondence

Wishing you a Merry Christmas, giving some news and responding to some messages from listeners about vocabulary lists, pronouncing “can’t” without sounding rude and more…


Pic (c) Jairo

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Episode Notes

Hello! Merry Christmas!
Seasons Greetings
Happy Holidays
All the best for the festive season

Here’s episode 501 and really the point of this is that I just want to say “Hi”, wish you all the best, share a bit of news and read through some listener correspondence.

Baby news – still nothing. Both the baby and my wife are fine and in good health, but no signs of labour yet. Apparently this is quite common for a first child. Fingers crossed in any case.

Also, this probably means that our daughter will have her birthday on Christmas Day or boxing day or later, which is not ideal for her (because people don’t care after Christmas, Christmas will overshadow the birthday etc, but it’s possible to make up for it by perhaps having an “official birthday” like the Queen – later in the year).

Listener correspondence

Another message from Jesus. (Not that one)

Original message (read out in episode 500)

Name: Jesus

Message: Hi Luke, I´m one of your ninjas who has decided to come out of the shadows.

My name is Jesus and I´ve been listening regularly to your podcast for three years. I´ve never written something like this before, and forgive me, because I´m not much of a writer.

Your podcast has been the soundtrack of many of my trips, running sessions, moments of ironing, cleaning, and especially cooking. I put my earphones on, and the magic flows in the kitchen.

In a way, you´ve been there in the good moments and also in the bad moments, sadly I´ve been through those lately. Listen to you during that time helped me to move on, and also to improve my understanding of your language and culture.

Now it has also inspired me to work on a new project, it´s something related with cooking. I´m not going to tell you more because the project is still in diapers (got it? pfff I know, it sucks…) I promise you´ll have more news if it gets to something real.

In any case I just want to thank you a lot for all the effort that you put into the podcast and wish you and your wife nothing but the best for the new challenge that you have ahead. You are a great guy, and great people deserve the best.

May the force be with you. Jesus.

Response from Jesus

Name: Jesus

Message: Hi Luke, this is Jesus again.
First off all, I didn’t mind that you read my message. I wasn´t sure that you would read it, since you are very busy these days, but what I wasn´t expecting was you giving me a few minutes in such a special episode.
I know that for you it may be a little thing but it meant a lot to me, in fact, today is my birthday ( that´s right, it´s not the 24th…hehehe), so I´ve considered your gesture as THE birthday present.

I´d like to share something with your audience that it may interest them. You were saying that there are some topics ,like religion, were you have to be careful in order to not offend anybody. Well I think that as long as you are respectful and don´t cross the line with your jokes it´s all right.

Once, I was living in Edinburgh, I went there to learn english, I thought if I go for the hard one the rest would be easy.

Let me tell you that it wasn´t easy but I love the Scots.

In there, everybody had the same reaction that you had when hearing my name, or reading it, because most of the times I had to show my ID for them to believe it.

Thanks to that I wasn´t so nervous when english speakers were talking to me, they were always joking, making me feel more confident and suddenly I was speaking with them.

If you are nervous and trembly when speaking a different language, try to find something funny in common with the other person, if you don´t find anything, whisky helps.
Luke, as I told you before, it´s my birthday. I´m 32, may this be the last one? who knows…just in case I will live it to the maximum.

You said, you don´t get an email from Jesus everyday, well you don´t get to be heard by such an audience like yours everyday either.

I don´t know if you are going to read this, but if you do, this is my birthday present for the world…

Forget your f*cking ego, and use the energy that you use to think of yourself to empathize a little bit with the person next to you. We need to stop all the b*llshit, and work together because the resources are not inexhaustible ( the last part is a message from a friend called Esther, it´s a message inside a message, she also wanted to say something to the world…).

I guess that this is what rumble feels like Luke, I´m kidding, of course.

Merry Christmas, Jesus.

Huxi – Vocabulary Lists

Hi, it’s Huxi.

I absolutely love your Podcast. Thank you for sharing all this info through transcripts and vocab lists.

Talking about lists, Would it be possible to keep posting them? I personally find them incredibly valuable for reviewing, by placing them in Anki as flashcards.

Thanks a lot!

Kristin – Vocabulary Lists

Name: Kristin

Message: Dear Luke,

Before asking a question, I want to give you a big Thank You for providing us learners of English such helpful and valuable material! :-)

I want to relate to episode 496 “Ramblecast”, in which you talk about methods of learning a language and emphasise that just repeating word lists does not make a lot of sense.

Weeell, in fact I have known that, but the problem is that, during the last 2 years, I gathered 117 lists containing 100 words respectively, so about 12,000 words. Until a year or so I managed to revise the words I had until then regularly, but now it’s become too much. To cut a long story short, I am sort of obsessed with learning words, because I just wish to get better, as I love English so so much. Whenever I read an article or a book or watch something on Youtube I kind of feel obliged to look up new words and write down on my lists. It’s depressing, though, that I realize after a few weeks that I just haven’t remembered them.

My question is: Do you know if it’s somehow scientifically confirmed (or what do you personally think about it?) that people learn a language and become more fluent by reading books, listening to audiobooks and watching films without writing down and learning and repeating all the words? I just can’t imagine that I could ever memorise all the new words I pick up by dealing with English material.

Sorry for this long text, but I think I’m going to send it now anyway, because I’m currently at work and have no more time to write it once again in a shorter version.

I would be very grateful and happy if you could send me a little answer whenever you have time.

Thank you so much in advance!

Kristin

Luke’s response

Hi Kristin,

This is a great question. Please don’t think that your efforts in collecting vocabulary has been a waste of time. I’m sure it hasn’t been. I think that your approach to saving words is probably evidence of your motivation to learn and your mindfulness of language while reading and listening. Perhaps just the act of recording the words in a list (words you’ve already encountered in context) could help you acquire them.

But there are other things you could and perhaps should be doing with the words, for example adding meaningful sentences in your list for each word. This can help you remember them. Also consider how you’re revising the word lists. What are you doing as you go through the list? Are you testing yourself and trying to reproduce those words in meaningful ways?

Also, it might be wise to take a selective approach. Instead of recording all the new words you encounter, you could just pick ones that you think are more useful or common. Don’t try to consume too much. Let some words go. You’ll remember more if you try to remember less. Don’t overwhelm yourself.

Also you could try googling those words and looking at the way they are used in the news (select the news tab in google results). That can reinforce the words for you.

As for the scientific studies you asked about. I don’t think there is 100% reliable scientific proof that one particular method works better than another. There are theories, like Language Acquisition Theory by Stephen Krashen and other theories too.

I think the best source of info on this probably comes from successful language learners. You could check out Olly Richard’s Podcast and blog at iwillteachyoualanguage.com He has some good methods and advice for remembering vocabulary. That might help. You could also ask him your question and he might answer it on his Podcast. I would also like to tackle your question on the podcast if I manage to fit it into my upcoming episodes! Your mail is now saved in my to-do list.

I hope my answer helps a bit although I haven’t given a fully fleshed-out response with specific steps you can take.

As a final thought, it seems that your English is really good, with a wide range of vocabulary. So perhaps your method has worked well despite what I said on the Podcast.

In the end, applying yourself to language learning, being motivated and having some kind of system – these are the things that make the difference regardless of what form they take. It doesn’t matter – in language learning all roads lead to Rome. You just have to make sure you’re always moving.

All the best,

Luke

Kristin’s response

Dear Luke,

Thank you so much for your detailed e-mail! I was very blown away by your deep thoughts about my question and I really appreciate your tips. You are probably right, it depends on HOW one tries to learn new words – just by provided lists in a book for students or by self-made lists containing words from specific contexts that one is able to relate to. I also realised that through writing down almost every new word my listening skills have improved a lot, as I’m able to recognise words better. On the other hand, I really SHOULD select at least a little bit, you’re very right in that. Since it is just frustrating to realise that after a few weeks I can’t remember anymore what I learnt.

Olly Richard’s podcast and googling are good tips, thanks for these!
Also, my English language exchange partner from England learns with Memrise nd finds it quite enriching, maybe I’m gonna have a look into it when I find the time (Christmas holidays are approaching ;-) ).

Thank you for the compliment about my English. My written English is quite good I guess, but my spoken English is sadly another story, as the little additional moment to think about the words is missing and I can’t often remember the words in the particular moments.

My dream is to go to England next year in summer for a few months. My New Year’s Resolution let’s say ;-)

Have a great Christmas and all the best to you, your wife and your almost-born baby!

Cheers,

Kristin

Serdar – Becoming a Dad

Name: Serdar

Message: Hello Luke.

I had once contacted you via this form but you didn’t reply. Hope you see this one this time. I have been listening to your podcasts over a year and really enjoying it a lot as well as learning many new vocab. So thanks for your contribution to those who thrive by learning. Recently I listened to a podcast of yours titled becoming dad and found out that you would become dad quite soon. Don’t know when you recorded it so you may even be holding your lovely baby now.

I know you have been told so many times that how difficult parenting is. As a father of 3 year old,I bet you all of it is true but i would like to emphasise how wonderful being a dad is. They used to tell me that my life would completely change after becoming dad and they’d say this change would be positive. Now I totally agree with my friends that there is no such feeling compared to being a dad. It is the greatest thing to happen to a man. I can’t even believe that there are words to express this. I couldn’t do it in my native language either. you must experience it ( maybe you have just started to ) At first weeks you really don’t know what’s happening. You look at a baby but still don’t have any idea about how it feels like a dad. It gradually starts, and this magnificent feeling gets extensive day by day and you finally find yourself and your toddler talking to each other one day. you start enjoying every single day, you rush back home to see them as soon as possible.

I even remember untying my shoe lashes in elevator just to gain few seconds! you look at their pictures when you are away. you keep thinking about them. I don’t know if you have ever fallen in love truly like mad but this overshadows it without doubt. It is much more intense than love. there is no word describing your love for your child. Although some days, especially when you are exhausted, or sleep deprived you will face to the hardest part of parenting, you will still stand up and go for it. even when you have %1 battery left :)
I hope you share your experience in a podcast. If you reply me letting me know about it, I’d be so happy.
Thanks again and good luck :)
Serdar, Istanbul

Message from Kei – Pronouncing “can’t”

Gleidson from Brazil

I’d like to see you online in video conference, would be really interesting. And I suggest you give some links to us practice grammar in sites as British Council, BBC English learning or so on related to the current episode podcast. It’s a great chance for us to practice grammar.

Your accent is really clear for us students. Don’t fear about share something about your personal life, for me, it makes your podcast quite personal and friendly.
This is the positive point for your podcast and a good way to share some vocabulary to a specific occasion, as wedding ceremony, childbirth, baptism, Christmas celebrations and so on

I am living in Ireland for 4 months, but I listen to you since as was living in my country (I have to thanks to a Brazilian friend of mine that shows me your podcast).

I wish all the best to you.
Keep posting your amazing podcasts and thanks again.

Send a warm Hello to all Brazilian that listening to you.

(sorry for English mistakes, I am learning, so I can not write in English as a write in my native language yet).

Kind regards,
See you.

VP – Withnail & I episode.
Hiya everyone! This is my first comment ever. #497 is so cool an episode I couldn’t keep a low profile anymore! First of all, I want to thank you tremendously, Luke, for all you’ve done for us lovers of English. Your podcast means a lot and it’s extremely helpful for me in my effort to keep learning the language all by myself now. I’ve been listening to LEP for quite a while, and it’s always ace but this time that was something special. The thing is, Withnail &I is one of the most hilarious and unique British films I’ve watched. Boy, was I chuffed when I saw the name of a new episode! I guess I found this film after I’d seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, which perhaps has something in common with Withnail&I. Indeed, I failed to enjoy the film from the start, but its dialogues, humour and Richard E.Grant’s superb performance made me grow fond of it finally! By the way, I also like ‘How to Get Ahead in Advertising’ with this actor and am a huge fan of Mike Leigh’s works, ‘Naked’ featuring David Thewlis, for instance. Has any of you LEPsters seen any of those movies, by any chance? I wonder what British people think of Leigh’s films.
P.S. The description of a person who likes Withnail&I was merciless!

Marta KL • 19 days ago
I’ve just downloaded the film (with subtitles – I don’t think I’m able to make it without them) – looking forward to watch it in the next days.
Btw I have just noticed that James’s voice is quite similar to your dad’s voice :)
Thanks for the new episode, cheers!
Luke Thompson
Yep – he’s a chip off the old block
Hope you enjoy the film.
Cat
Could one say ‘He is a chop off the old wood’ as well?
Luke
Nope!

**UPDATE: Technical problems with the website :( **

I’m having some technical problems with my website at the moment. Some pages are not displaying properly and this is also affecting the Disqus comment system, so the comment section might be unavailable. Sorry! I hope to have it fixed soon.

Observations on the Paris Metro… from Inside the Metro (Listen to my appearance on Oliver Gee’s podcast “The Earful Tower”)

Hello website LEPsters! Here is some more listening you can do while waiting for the next episode of LEP.

I was recently invited onto The Earful Tower Podcast by Oliver Gee (remember him from episode 495?) We recorded an episode all about the Paris Metro while riding the Paris Metro. You can listen to it here.

You’ll hear us talking about our experiences of using the Metro, some of the things we find fascinating, funny, weird, cool and even disgusting about it. You can hear various background noises and experience what it’s really like to travel through Paris on line 2 with Oli and me.

Keep listening to the end to hear a cool story from Paris’s history, read by Oliver’s regular storytelling guest Corey Frye.

Click the link below to see photos from our trip and to check out other episodes of The Earful Tower podcast with Oliver Gee.

Click link below for photos from our trip and more info:

theearfultower.com/2017/12/07/observations-on-the-paris-metro-from-inside-the-metro/

Oliver Gee is a journalist from Australia now living in Paris. His podcast is all about Paris and episodes include interesting stories, bits of history, chats about language and comments about the cultural differences. It’s all in English and you should check out his episode archive – you’ll find several appearances by Amber Minogue, one episode with Paul Taylor and two with me (including this one). Enjoy!

p.s. You might be wondering whether our baby daughter has been born yet. Well – not yet! We are still waiting. She’s currently one day overdue, but everything’s fine. She could still arrive at any time. We’re waiting with bated breath.

More episodes of LEP coming before too long.

Don’t forget to download the LEP App and enjoy listening to some full-length episodes only available in the app, plus more bonus content.

Cheers!

Luke

500. EPISODE 500 CELEBRATION! (PARTS 1 & 2)

Celebrating 500 episodes of LEP with a mega-ramble featuring lots of messages from listeners, expressions of gratitude, a cool announcement for all my listeners, some singing, some talk of becoming a dad, the future of the podcast, Star Wars, and loads of fun and good times. Thank you for listening! Parts 1 & 2 are both available on this page.

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Thank you to everyone who took part in episode 500 by sending me a message.

This became a massive celebration. I didn’t expect to receive so many messages. Thank you for all of your kind words, support, and joyful sentiments. I really appreciate it!

Thank you for listening to my podcast all these years. It means a lot to me. I’m looking forward to making more episodes in the future. Seasons greetings for the festive period and have a Happy New Year!

The Luke’s English Podcast APP is NOW AVAILABLE

Get the app on your phone. Download links below.

This is the best way to keep up with episodes of the podcast and get access to special app-only content.

All episodes of LEP are available in the app – every archived episode, all new releases and some exclusive app-only content. Also, check out the bonus gifts and easter eggs, pdfs and more…

Download Luke’s English Podcast App from the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store or the Microsoft App Store. Links below.

 iPhone/iPad – APPLE APP STORE |ANDROID – GOOGLE PLAY STORE 📱

Description

This is the most convenient way to access all episodes of Luke’s English Podcast on your iPhone, including special bonus episodes only available in the app.

This app gives you complete access to Luke’s English Podcast and if you’re a fan of the show you will not want to live without it!

The app contains the following features:
* Option to stream or download all episodes for offline listening
* Access to exclusive app-only episodes and pdfs
* Episode notes and transcripts available in the app
* Always updated with the latest episodes – and the full episode archive
* You can *star* your favourite episodes and save them to a list in order to easily enjoy them over and over again
* Speed control so you can listen faster or slower if you want
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* Sleep timer so you can fall asleep to my voice without missing anything!
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* Quick access to all the contact methods for Luke like email, website, Facebook and Twitter. Don’t be a ninja! Send me an email through the app whenever you want.

Thank you for downloading this app and supporting the show!

Luke

Luke’s English Podcast is a free audio podcast for learners of English as a foreign language, hosted by Luke Thompson – a comedian and English teacher from London, UK. Listen, learn and have fun while picking up natural British English as it really is spoken.

499. Prince Harry & Meghan Markle / Royal Family Quiz (with Amber)

Talking to Amber about the UK’s Royal Family, including our thoughts on the upcoming wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, some royal gossip & rumours, and also a Royal Family Quiz with questions about the monarchy today and in history. So, expect to hear our thoughts and some facts about this very traitional British institution. Notes available.

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Introduction Transcript

Here’s an episode about the Royal family.

You probably know that recently we had the news that Prince Harry is going to marry his gorgeous girlfriend Meghan Markle. I don’t know if that made the news where you are.

There’s going to be another royal wedding next year. This is actually quite a big deal for the UK.

You might be wondering what British people think about all of this. What do we think about Harry and Meghan and what do we think of the Royal family in general?

Well, I can’t ask every single Brit what they think, but I can give you my opinions and the opinions of Amber, who I am talking to in this episode..

Also this gives us an opportunity to chat generally about the Royal Family on the podcast again, and that’s usually a subject which attracts quite a lot of interest from abroad.

Also, in this episode Amber and I have prepared some quiz questions about the royal family.

I wonder if you know the answers.

So first you’ll get a discussion of Harry and Meghan, and then a royal family quiz.

Let’s see how much you know about the royals and hopefully this episode can help you you learn a few things about the British monarchy that you didn’t know before, including some scandals, some rumours, some big moments in history and other interesting facts about this most traditional of British institutions.

—- Conversation Notes and My Quiz Questions —

Amber mentions “Christmas-abilia” – this is not a word! She just made it up. She meant ‘bits and bobs relating to Christmas, like decorations and things in her flat.

It sounds like “memorabilia” which means: ​objects that are collected because they are connected with a person or event that is thought to be very interesting. (Cambridge Dictionary)

e.g. Beatles memorabilia, or memorabilia from the royal wedding. Stuff like this:

 

Prince Harry is marrying Meghan Markle next May.

  • Who is Meghan Markle?
    An actress from the TV show “Suits”
    Background – Rachel Meghan Markle[5][6] is of Dutch, English, and Irish descent through her father. Don’t know about her Mum but apparently she was African-American. She was born on August 4, 1981, in Los Angeles.[7] Describing her parents, she has said, “My dad is Caucasian and my mom is African-American … I have come to embrace [this and] say who I am, to share where I’m from, to voice my pride in being a strong, confident, mixed-race woman.” [8] (Wikipedia)
    Divorced
    American
    Catholic (sounds like Wallace Simpson – the woman Edward VIII chose to marry)
  • What do we think of her?

Royal Family Quiz – Luke’s Questions

How much does it cost the UK taxpayer per year (on average) to maintain the royal family?

About 66p in 2016. That’s the part that comes from the treasury.

The family also gets money from other places. (see article)

Where do the royals get their money from?

2 or 3 main sources.

Sovereign Grant – about 15% of the profits made by the Crown Estate. That’s money made from all the properties owned by the Queen. I’m not sure how the money comes in – it’s probably rent, ground rent, entry fees for visitors etc. All that money goes to the government, who give back 15% of it two years later.

The Privy Purse – profits from all the land and assets that have been owned by the royal family for generations. Residential, commercial and agricultural properties. It’s about 184 km2. Between 2015-2016 that was about £17.8m. That pays for expenses incurred by other members of the family.

Private savings and personal fortune. The Queen herself owns properties which she inherited from her father, including Balmoral castle in Scotland. She also has a large art collection apparently. This is all worth about £340m.

www.businessinsider.com/where-does-the-royal-family-get-money-2017-1?IR=T

Who was Edward VIII and what did he do?

How many monarchs can you name from the Queen back?
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_monarchs

Who has to die for Harry to take the throne? (Can you tell me the line of succession?)
The Queen, Prince Charles, George, Charlotte – they all have to go before Harry can become king.

Queen – Charles – William – George – Charlotte – Harry – Harry’s Kids (none) – Andrew – Andrew’s kids (Beatrice and Eugenie) – Edward – Edward’s kids – Anne – Anne’s kids – no idea.

Queen Elizabeth II (born 1926)
(1) Charles, Prince of Wales (b. 1948) B D W
(2) Prince William, Duke of Cambridge (b. 1982) B D W
(3) Prince George of Cambridge (b. 2013) B D W
(4) Princess Charlotte of Cambridge (b. 2015) B D W
(5) Prince Henry of Wales (Prince Harry) (b. 1984) B D W
(6) Prince Andrew, Duke of York (b. 1960) B D W
(7) Princess Beatrice of York (b. 1988) B D W
(8) Princess Eugenie of York (b. 1990) B D W
(9) Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex (b. 1964) B D W

Which living royals (in the nuclear family) are divorced? Did they have affairs?
Charles
Anne
Andrew
(Diana, Sarah Ferguson – both had affairs which were leaked in the press)

Which royal was once given a toe-job?
Fergie’s Toe-Sucking Scandal

What gives the monarch his/her power?
It’s a covenant with god! Haven’t you seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail?

What would happen if the Queen murdered someone?
Nothing, apparently. She can’t be prosecuted. Amber disagrees.

True or false?

  • The Queen has her own poet. True – poet laureate is officially the poet to the monarch and is paid in sherry. TRUE
  • The Queen can fly and regularly pilots her own helicopters and light aircraft. Her favourite is a Harrier Jump Jet which she sometimes flies over Dartmoor where she enjoys blowing up deer. FALSE
  • By law, all pubs in the UK must display a picture of the Queen behind the bar. FALSE
  • The Queen and Winston Churchill once had an affair. FALSE
  • The Queen doesn’t really like Scottish people. FALSE
  • The Queen smokes cigarettes. FALSE
  • The Queen smokes pot. DUNNO – probably FALSE. Queen Vic used it.
  • The Queen owns all dolphins which swim in British waters. TRUE
  • The Queen owns all the Swans on the River Thames. TRUE
  • The Queen writes ‘the laws of the land’. FALSE – she gives them ‘royal assent’.
  • The Queen is in charge of the government, including the PM. FALSE – not really in charge of them, but she officially invites them to form a government on her behalf.
  • The Queen’s powers include visa free travel, veto (refusal of royal assent) and invisibility. TRUE (except the invisibility – we think)

Will Megan be a princess when she marries Harry?

Which member of the royal family talks to trees and believes in homeopathy?

Outro Transcript

What you just heard there was The Queen’s speech from 2015. That was actually the Queen’s voice. Have you heard her speak before?

She speaks in a heightened RP, or as some might say “very posh English”.

I don’t know if you can recognise it, but to me it’s unmistakable. For you it might just sound like clear speech (which it is – she does speak very clearly), but for me there are certain features of her voice that are a dead giveaway that this person is really posh, and honestly this kind of “posh” accent isn’t how most people speak. For example, my Dad and I speak clearly but we don’t have this posh accent.

Every now and then I’ll hear someone speaking with this kind of accent and it’s a sign that they come from an upper-class background. There’s a lot more to say about this subject and I intend to explore it further in later episodes.

Anyway, thank you for listening to this episode. I look forward to reading your responses in the comment section.

Have a great day, morning, afternoon, evening or night and if you are celebrating Christmas this year I hope you’re starting to get into the Christmas spirit.

By the way, our baby hasn’t arrived yet, but it could be any day now. I don’t know how that will affect the podcast, but if there are no new episodes for a week or two, that’s why. I think I should be able to record something for you, so I don’t think there will be a big delay, but anyway – if you don’t hear from me from a bit, it’s probably because I’m changing nappies, dealing with visiting family members, and generally in a sleep deprived condition.

Alright then, thanks for listening and speak to you soon I hope.

For now, bye bye bye!

Harry & James Hewitt 

They look pretty similar, don’t they? 

498. The Rick Thompson Report: Brexit Negotiations

Talking to my Dad about the current situation with the UK’s Brexit negotiations with the EU. Listen to hear explanations of what is going on with Brexit, how Northern Ireland is involved, what motivates Brexiters and some comments about other bits of international news – all delivered by my Dad with his clear and coherent English. Notes and transcriptions available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone, here’s a new episode of the Rick Thompson Report. It’s been a while since the last one of these. If you’ve never heard a Rick Thompson Report on the podcast before, these episodes are when I talk to my Dad about the news – usually politics and especially Brexit.

It started last year when I spoke to Dad about Brexit in an effort to explain the subject and to see what kind of language would come out of our conversation. People told me they liked hearing my dad’s comments and so we made it a more regular feature on the podcast.

My Dad has a clear voice and he’s able to explain these complicated political stories in a fairly coherent way. Also he is a former journalist who likes to keep up with the news so he’s a good person to talk to.

It’s no secret that my dad believes the UK is better-off in the European Union, even if the EU is by no means a perfect institution. I have to agree. This is not the BBC – we don’t have a duty to try and present a balanced view, although I think it’s really important to deeply consider both sides of the argument. But this isn’t the BBC so we can give our personal opinions, and after plenty of consideration we think leaving the EU is an unnecessarily reckless thing to do and we often wonder about the motivations of the people who campaigned and voted for it in the referendum in June last year.

Since the referendum, Dad and I have followed the story of Brexit on this podcast in episodes of the Rick Thompson report.

If you want explanations of the specific language of this topic, I suggest you go back into the archive and check out episode 352

352. BREXIT: Key Vocabulary and Concepts

Brexit: The Story so Far

As a recap, here is the story so far.

Former UK prime minister David Cameron called a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU largely in order to satisfy the wishes of the growing Eurosceptic elements within his own party. Some members of the Conservatives are so anti-Europe that it could have split the party in two (with the Eurosceptics breaking away perhaps to join UKIP or to set up another party or something), and this would have effectively destroyed the Conservative party. So I think, when he called the referendum, Cameron didn’t really believe the country would vote to leave, and that by having a referendum with a ‘remain’ result, this would silence the Eurosceptics and it would bring his party together again, mending the divisions.

So, arguably, this whole thing has happened just to settle a dispute within the Conservative party.

It didn’t happen in the way that Cameron expected of course. As we know, the people of the UK actually voted to leave by a narrow margin – 51.9% of the country voted to leave and 48.1% voted to remain. This was a result that nobody really expected and therefore we are now in completely new territory. Instead of silencing the Eurosceptics, many of them are now in charge.

So, why did people vote to leave the EU, especially when so many experts and commentators predicted that leaving would be highly damaging to our economy and therefore to the general standards of living in Britain?

It’s very complicated and there are various reasons. Partly it seems to be about immigration – that many people see the EU as a gateway through which immigrants can come into the UK – and many people think that immigrants are bad because they take jobs away from local British people and bring with them a culture which is incompatible with life in the UK – namely the culture of those people coming through Europe from Arabic nations where Islam is the main religion, and that preventing these people from coming is more important than pretty much anything else like being part of the European marketplace, having access to all the EU protections and programs and being able to travel freely throughout Europe and so on.

Many Brexiters see the EU as an undemocratic institution threatening the sovereignty of the UK. Others think that the UK pays too much money to the EU and that it’s an unfair arrangement, and that we could be better-off making trade deals with the rest of the world, instead of Europe.

None of them ever talked about the various benefits of EU membership, which would be lost if we left.

All those reasons for leaving the EU that I mentioned are thoroughly debatable and questionable and are considered by many people to be simply not true. Is the EU really an undemocratic institution? Is it any more undemocratic than the UK’s own political system? Is EU immigration so bad for the country? The majority of EU citizens coming to Britain come from European nations and bring with them skills that contribute to UK life – for example nurses and doctors who are vital to our national health system. Will closing the doors to the EU really stop muslims from coming to the UK? Aren’t many of the terrorists who launched attacks on the UK born and bred there? And what’s wrong with muslims anyway? The Brexiters (as they’re called) seem to have the position that Islam is intrinsically at odds with British life and that it’s a direct threat to our culture, as if the values of extreme groups like ISIS are true of all muslims and that somehow getting out of the EU is the solution to this issue, even if that means breaking away from European security services which work with the UK to monitor and prevent terrorist attacks.

This is very tricky territory. We all agree that ISIS, DAESH or whatever you want to call them – that these people are dangerous and awful. We also know that the words of the Koran are interpreted in many ways – some more aggressively than others, but is leaving the EU the right response to this situation? It seems like a knee-jerk reaction to the issue and an expression of a desire to just isolate from the world and somehow go back to the way things were in the past when Britain enjoyed a more powerful position on the world’s stage and generally things were a bit more simple, when we didn’t have global warming, the banking crisis, overpopulation, the internet and all the rest of it.

Also, the leave campaign was accused of exploiting the fears and emotions of the people unfairly, making false promises, using the platform for selfish reasons and generally not having any sort of plan for Brexit beyond “Let’s just get out and make Britain great again”.

Anyway, after the referendum result the UK parliament voted to go through with it and so that’s that.

David Cameron resigned of course, straight after the referendum result came out, effectively just walking away from the mess he’d created. He’d campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU, and so the argument was that he wasn’t in a position to oversee the negotiations for our departure. So, who took over? Various people lined up to become the next PM and there was a bit of backstabbing and shifting of positions, and in the end everyone else dropped out except Theresa May, who by the way also wanted to remain in the EU. So Cameron left because he was a remainer, and was replaced by May who was also a remainer… Yes, it doesn’t make sense. That’s the thing – not a lot of what has happened since the referendum has made sense – mainly because there was no Brexit plan beyond “Let’s just take back control and make Britain great again.” How? Ummm…. Stop complaining and get on with it!!!

So after triggering Article 50 to formally begin the process of leaving, the UK’s government led by Theresa May have had to start negotiating with the EU to work out the terms of the deal.

That’s pretty much where we left things in the last Rick Thompson report. Since then a long time has passed and honestly hardly any progress has been made, and all sorts of really difficult problems have come up – problems which many people think might be impossible to resolve, like for example what is going to happen on the land border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU). Nobody wants a hard border there, with passport checks and visas required for movement. Also – what about the rights of people from the EU who are living in the UK and perhaps are settled there with children and families? What about the rights of UK citizens living in Europe, in a similar situation, like me? What about all the companies that rely on trade with Europe? What will stop them just moving their operations to somewhere in the EU when they realise that it won’t be profitable to carry on trading from outside the EU? And what about the so-called “divorce bill” that the UK will have to pay to the EU before it leaves – the money that it owes? And what will be the impact on the UK’s economy? What about the different industries that require membership of the single market to be able to do their business – because the majority of our trade deals are done within the EU. How will this affect our economy, to totally uproot our trade deals? Will the UK be able to make a new deal with the EU that will be anywhere near as good as the one we have now?

These are extremely hard questions to resolve, especially for the UK – and the EU is not in a mood to make lots of concessions to the UK – they will not want to make it easy for the UK to leave with a great deal because they need to set an example to other EU nations to say “Look, don’t you think about leaving too! We need to stick together!” So it’s going to be a very tricky negotiation, especially for the UK who aren’t in a great position to get concessions from the EU but as I say these words the UK government and representatives from the EU are negotiating these issues, while the clock is ticking. The clock is ticking because in March 2019 the UK will be leaving the EU whether there is a good deal or not.

So, I spoke to my Dad yesterday evening and we talked about all of this, and you’ll hear that my Dad is very doubtful that Theresa May can get a good deal here, but, Immediately after the recording, during the night Theresa May and EU negotiators made some progress and, the EU have decided they can proceed to talk about the future relationship between the EU and the UK. If you’ve seen the news today you might have seen the story that “significant progress” has been made in the negotiation.

This basically means that the EU have said “OK, we reckon we could do a deal” – this is the first major step in the negotiations. This includes promises that there will be no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. But all the specific details will need to be agreed in the coming months – and they only have a few months to negotiate everything, and the Irish border issue hasn’t really gone away. We still don’t know how goods and people will be treated between north and the Republic of Ireland. To get a sense of how tricky this is – listen on and you’ll hear Dad expand on it a bit.

So things have already changed in this situation since we recorded the conversation yesterday. That’s just the way things go – we’re on shifting sands here.

This is quite a long introduction, and I’m nearly finished but I’m just trying my best to keep this clear for everyone out there in podcastland, including those of you who are far removed from this story and perhaps don’t really know anything about it. I always try to make things clear and simple for you in episodes of this podcast, but sometimes it’s just not possible when I want to talk about a subject in proper depth! And that’s the real world! This, like certain other episodes of my podcast, could be a difficult one to follow, but I hope you stick with it and that even if you don’t understand all aspects of this unprecedented political situation, that this helps clarify things at least a bit, that you can notice certain bits of nice language in our conversation and that you at least enjoy listening to my Dad’s descriptions and views on all of it.

Alright, so here is the Rick Thompson report for December 2017, recorded yesterday evening, that’s the 7th December.


CONVERSATION WITH DAD


Outtro Transcript

So that was the Rick Thompson report for 7 December 2017.

How are you, are you ok? How’s your head after all that talk of politics and stuff?

I’m aware that the political scene is constantly changing, especially right now with regard to Brexit. Shifting sands as I said, so by the time you listen to this things may have changed a bit, including the announcement today that Theresa May has achieved a preliminary agreement in the negotiations.

This from theweek.co.uk:

Trade talks to start after Brexit deal struck
The UK has reached a draft agreement with the EU on the first phase of Brexit talks following a long night of negotiations. Theresa May flew to Brussels this morning for a meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who said negotiations could now move on to the terms of the new UK-EU trade deal. May has promised there will be no hard border for Ireland.

May’s 15 pages setting out the last-minute Brexit deal “give her what she needed for now”, says the BBC’s political reporter Laura Kuenssberg, but “this is a political agreement, not a practical one that answers every single question”.

www.theweek.co.uk/brexit/65461/brexit-davis-admits-there-are-no-economic-impact-studies

So, basically, all the specific details still need to be worked out, and there are a lot of them.

So let’s see what happens. I wonder how things will turn out.

That’s the end of this episode.

No vocabulary to go through here I’m afraid, although you heard quite a lot of expressions relating to international relations and politics in there. For this episode I can’t do a vocab review because I’m a bit pushed for time today and I want to get this episode published as soon as possible so I can get back to work.

Baby News

There is no baby news at this moment. The new Thompson still hasn’t arrived, but it could be any day now!

Pod News

I have already recorded episode 499 and that will be all about the royal wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, plus a discussion about the Royals with a Royal Family quiz. So everything you wanted to know about the royals, and in that one I’m joined by Amber – so you will get to hear her lovely voice on the podcast again.

And after that it’s episode 500.

I wonder if I will be able to work on that and get it published before Thompson Jnr arrives on the scene. If not, it might take a little while for it to arrive. We will see. In any case I will speak to you again on the podcast soon in episode 499.

I was on the Earful Tower Podcast this week

Also, remember Oliver Gee from Australia? I talked to him on the podcast recently. I was on his podcast yesterday – we recorded an episode all about the Paris Metro, recorded while riding on the Paris Metro. It was quite fun – we talk about our observations of the Metro and some of the funny things I’ve experienced during my many hours spent travelling around the city.

You can listen to it by going to theearfultower.com/ I think I might publish that episode in a website post too so that if you’re an email subscriber you’ll get the link in your inbox.

OK, thanks for listening, speak to you again soon. Bye!!!

497. Film Club: Withnail & I (with James and Will)

Talking about a classic British film which not many learners of English know about. Listen for explanations of the film, its appeal, descriptions of the characters and events, the type of people who like the film and a few bits of dialogue too. Notes available.

[DOWNLOAD]

Introduction Transcript

Today on the podcast I am going to be talking about a cult classic of British cinema – a film called Withnail & I.

This is a slightly ambitious episode because in my experience this film is usually very difficult for learners of English to fully appreciate. Even the title of the film somehow fails to register with many people when I tell them.

“Can you recommend British films?” one of my students might say.
And I say “Yes, definitely. You should watch Withnail & I”
And the person’s face creases into an expression of “what was that you just said?”
“Withnail and I” I repeat.
But still, this clearly just seems like a noise to this person.
He doesn’t know what to write. He doesn’t know how many words that is. He doesn’t know how to spell “Withnail and I”. He’s lost for a moment.
So I write it on the board “Withnail and I”.
Still, this doesn’t help much. The person doesn’t even recognise the word “Withnail”. It’s difficult to spell, it’s difficult to pronounce, it doesn’t seem to mean anything.

Then I think – “There’s no way this guy is going to enjoy this film, he can’t even get past the title.”

But something inside me says – “Luke, Luke… I am your father…” No, it says “Luke, you need to make these people watch this film. It is your duty as a British person teaching people your language and culture. These people need to see this film. They need to know what a Camberwell Carrot is, they need to know about cake and fine wine, they need to know why all hairdressers are under the employment of the government. It is your duty Luke, to teach these people about the wonderful world of Withnail and I – even if they don’t want it!”

So now I feel duty bound to tell you all about this cult British film. By the way, the title of the film “Withnail and I” – these are just the two characters in the film. Withnail and another guy whose name we don’t know. He’s simply “I”.

If you’re interested in British films, if you like slightly dark comedies with good acting, interesting characters, an excellent script and some top level swearing – this is a film for you.

You might never have heard of it, I realise, and that’s partly why I’m doing this episode. I like to recommend things that you might not know.

Withnail and I is a cult film which means it’s very very popular with a certain group of people. It’s not a mass-appeal sort of film. It might not be the film you think of when you consider typical “British films” – you might think of something like Love Actually or a Jane Austen adaptation, but Withnail & I is a film that you will definitely know if you a proper lover of British films. It is a cult classic and those who love it – really love it with a passion as if they’ve lived the film themselves in their own lives.

But not everybody gets it. Certainly, in the UK it is very highly regarded by people who have a special love for films, but it’s not a film like Four Weddings or James Bond which seem to appeal to everybody. Plenty of Brits don’t get it. Also learners of English hardly ever know about it (because in my experience most learners of English understand British cinema as things like Hugh Grant, Harry Potter and even Mr Bean). It can be a difficult film to understand if you’re not a native speaker from the UK. It’s not well known in the USA even.

But as I said, it’s a cult success in the UK.

Cult has two meanings. A cult can be a sort of small religious group devoted to a particular person, but when cult is used as an adjective with something like “film” then it means that this film is extremely popular with certain people.

  • What kinds of people like this film?
  • Why do people love this film so much?
  • What is the appeal?
  • What can this film tell us about British culture?
  • Why should you as a learner of English take any interest in this film at all?
  • How can you learn some real British English from this?

Let’s find out in this episode of Luke’s Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast all about Withnail & I.

I’m a huge Withnail & I fan but in this episode I’m also joined by several other Withnail fans who are very keen to talk to you about one of their favourite films.

Those two fans are my brother James and his mate Will.

I just sincerely hope that we can somehow explain this film and its appeal, and make this interesting for you to listen to (that’ll be hard considering it’s three blokes with similar voices talking about an obscure film that you’ve probably never seen).

***

Links & Videos

The Wall of Withnail – superfan Heidi’s collection of objects seen in the background of Withnail & I. wall-o-withnail.blogspot.fr/

Withnail and Us – a great documentary about the making of the film, by the people who made the film.

Bruce Robinson interview

Bruce Robinson & Richard E Grant at the London BFI

The Hamlet Monologue (Act 2, Scene 2, Page 13)

“I have of late—but wherefore I know not—lost all my mirth, and indeed it goes so heavily with my disposition that this goodly frame, the earth, seems to me a sterile promontory; this most excellent canopy, the air—look you, this brave o’erhanging firmament, this majestical roof fretted with golden fire—why, it appears no other thing to me than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapors. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world. The paragon of animals. And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me. No, nor woman neither.”

In plain English:

“Recently, though I don’t know why, I’ve lost all sense of fun —the whole world feels sterile and empty. This beautiful canopy we call the sky—this majestic roof decorated with golden sunlight—why, it’s nothing more to me than disease-filled air. What a perfect invention a human is, how noble in his capacity to reason, how unlimited in thinking, how admirable in his shape and movement, how angelic in action, how godlike in understanding! There’s nothing more beautiful. We surpass all other animals. And yet to me, what are we but dust? Men don’t interest me. No—women neither.”

Outtro

What you just heard there is the final scene of the film in which Withnail repeats lines from Hamlet by Shakespeare and it’s quite a tragic ending, but you’ll have to watch the film to find out what happens.

So that was an ambitious episode! I honestly think this one is as ambitious as the one about the rules of cricket. All the way through that conversation alarm bells were ringing in my head.

Sometimes I get alarm bells when I’m teaching. From experience I know what my learners of English will and won’t understand. For example, if there’s a listening that we’re doing and it contains a few phrasal verbs or connected speech or a specific accent, the alarm bells ring in my head and sure enough none of my students have understood it.

So for this episode alarm bells are ringing like mad. First of all the film is like kryptonite to students of English (which is a pity because there’s a lot to enjoy), but also because you were listening to three guys talking with fairly similar voices in a comfortable way – meaning, not graded for learners of English to make it easier, and also we’re talking about a film that you’ve probably never seen. Also the little clips in particular were, I’m sure, rather difficult to follow.

So a big well done if you made it this far. I promise you that this film is an absolute gem and if you give it a chance it will actually improve your life.

I have talked about this film on the podcast before and in fact I do remember getting a message from a listener who said that she had watched the film on my recommendation with her boyfriend and that now they enjoy repeating lines from the script when they are about the house.

So if they can get into it then you can too, although of course this film is not for everyone, that’s why it’s a cult film.

I’ve just remembered, I promised to play the Withnail & I swear-a-thon. That’s like a marathon isn’t it, but with swearing.

Withnail and I is celebrated for its swearing and there is a lot of colourful rude language in the film. For the 20th anniversary DVD box set someone edited together all the swearwords from the film in order. This is the Withnail and I swear-a-thon. Now, as you would expect the next minute or so is going to be absolutely filled with swearing so brace yourselves. YOu’re going to hear all sorts of rude words like bastard, shit, fuck and also cunt. Here we go.

I hope you’ve enjoyed listening to this episode of Luke’s Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast.

Check out the page for the episode for some notes, transcriptions and also a bunch of video documentaries, clips and interviews that are definitely worth watching if you’d like to know more.

Have a great morning, evening, breakfast, lunch, dinner, sleep, commute or run!