Learn English with this short story by British writer Roald Dahl. Intro transcript and story script available below.
Introduction Transcript (story script available as a pdf below)
Hello folks, how are you doing?
Summer is over, everyone’s going back to their jobs and their normal lives. Sun tans are fading fast. The days are getting shorter. The leaves are turning. It’s back to reality.
I hope you had a good summer. As I said to you in June or July, my podcast uploading was quite inconsistent over the summer. I didn’t manage to post as many episodes as normal. That’s because I had quite a busy time, going away on hols to different places and also looking after our daughter who was not in day care, because day care was closed during August.
In fact, her day care still hasn’t started again, so I’m being a stay at home Dad this week, looking after her during the day time. This means that it’s a bit difficult to record and upload episodes of the podcast. The baby (and she’s still a baby) tends to demand all your attention, whether it be playing, feeding, cleaning, changing, bathing or all manner of other things, it’s hard to do anything else when I’m the only one looking after her. This week my wife has some important work related deadlines which she has to attend to, so I’m looking after the little one.
What this means is that I still can’t get fully back into my podcast rhythm. That’ll happen probably mid next week when day care starts again properly and I have time to work on episodes of both LEP and LEP Premium.
By the way, LEP Premium is going well. There are now about 14 episodes – including audio and video content, with PDFs. If you want to sign up, go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium The premium episodes are where I really focus on language, helping you to improve your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.
I have lots of plans for new episodes coming up, but they all require some time and also silence in the background.
I wanted to upload something fairly quickly and simply in this episode, so I’ve decided to read you a short story written by Roald Dahl, who is one of the UK’s favourite authors. This doesn’t take much preparation from me, so it’s pretty easy to do.
Roald Dahl is most famous for his children’s stories – like The BFG, Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, James and the Giant Peach, George’s Marvellous Medicine, but also he wrote some books of short stories for adults. I grew up reading his children’s books, but then also took an interest in the books of short stories too when I’d grown up a bit. So, I’ve always enjoyed Roald Dahl’s work.
I’d like to recommend his books of short stories for you to read. If you’re looking for something to read in English (and you should always have an English book on the go – it’s vital) then these could be great.
Here are some reasons why Roald Dahl is so great for reading (for your English)
- The stories are short, so it’s less demanding and less intimidating. You can finish them. Yey!
- They’re very well written – descriptive language and just good plain English that is easy to read and modern in style
- They’re great little stories full of curiosities, mystery, strange things, funny things.
You could get any of Roald Dahl’s books of short stories, but a good recommendation from me would be “The Complete Short Stories: Volume 1 & 2” by Roald Dahl. Should be available from all good bookstores, including Amazon.
So, I highly recommend that you check out his work. It could be great for your English. Roald Dahl’s work is also available as audiobooks, which you could check out using Audible. Remember they still sponsor my podcast. If you use my link, you can sign up for a free 30 day trial which includes a free download of any audiobook you like.
www.audibletrial.com/teacherluke check it out. You could get a Roald Dahl book – and many of them are read by great British actors that you might know.
Now, in this episode I’m going to read out one of Dahl’s short stories. This one always sticks in my mind. I read it when I was a teenager. One of the things that always stuck in my mind was the descriptive language – describing the car he drives and the people he meets. Those descriptions really stuck with me. It’s one of the reasons I’m sure his stories are great for learning English.
It’s quite simple. I’m going to read the story to you. You can check out the story by following the link on my website, or if you have a copy of his book you can read it with me. This one is called The Hitch Hiker and it appears in volume 2 of The Complete Short Stories.
A hitch hiker is someone who waits by the side of the road and hopes to get a lift from someone. They don’t have a car or money for a bus or train, so they stick out their thumb and hope someone will stop and take them where they want to go.
I don’t know if you’ve ever hitch hiked. I’ve done it a couple of times. It felt a little risky. These days I wouldn’t do it probably. Feels a bit dangerous.
Anyway, here is the story called The Hitch Hiker. It’s only a few pages long. There’s a link on the page for this episode (below) which will allow you to read the story too.
Things I like about it / What to look out for
- The various descriptions of the high performance car (very modern for when the story was written)
- How it looks, the electric windows and sunroof, automatic radio aerial, the sounds of the engine, the responsiveness of the steering and brakes. He doesn’t just drive at 70, he whispers along. He doesn’t just slow down, he touches the brakes.
- His descriptions of the hitch-hiker – comparing him to a rat
- The descriptions of the appearance and manner of the police officer
- The mystery surrounding the hitch hiker
- The way the hitch hiker’s “job” is described in rather exciting and glamourous ways
- The little twist at the end of the story
That’s it! Let’s start reading.