Category Archives: Accents

748. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent [Part 2]

Understand more of Karl Pilkington’s rambling as we learn about the Manchester accent and pick up vocabulary along the way. Video version available on YouTube.

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Introduction

Hello everyone. Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of a double Karl Pilkington themed episode. I would recommend that you listen to part 1 of this first – it contains important context about who Karl is plus more details about Karl’s pronunciation and accent. 

Listening to that first will help a great deal in understanding this one.

I got plenty of good responses to part 1 of this, so let’s carry on.

In this part we are going to continue as we did before – listening to Karl Pilkington talking about various subjects, understanding exactly what he says, looking at features of his Manchester accent and picking up vocabulary along the way.

Karl is basically just a normal bloke from Manchester and his accent is fairly typical for people from that area so this episode aims to help you understand his accent and pick up vocabulary too.

Some responses to part 1

I disagree with Karl on most things.

Is he arrogant?

I just enjoy the way he puts things. He speaks like a comedian in the way that he expresses a point of view and has a certain way with words, but he’s not a comedian.

This is the enigma of Karl Pilkington – is he really just being himself, or is he playing a comedy character, and in real life he’s a lot more erudite.

I actually think it’s the former not the latter and that he’s just being himself. He just happens to have a funny way of putting his opinions across. 

Sometimes the best comedy comes from someone sharing a specific opinion. I think this is what I enjoy about this, rather than the opinions he is expressing, and as I said I disagree with Karl about most things, and some things he says are quite laughable – especially stuff he’s said on the Ricky Gervais podcast, like his Monkey News stories.

One other thing – apparently it is possible to be choked by a live octopus as you eat it. What I meant was that it would be impossible for an octopus to strangle you from the inside, as strangling means choking from the outside of the throat, with your hands for example, but of course a live octopus could choke you from within, by sticking its arms up into your throat or your windpipe. So, fair enough, it is possible for an octopus to choke you.

Also, in the UK we do eat oysters – which are raw seafood, so I think raw fish are generally ok in the UK but most other raw things would be considered a bit strange for us.

Quick Pronunciation Recap

In part 1 we listened to Karl talk about life, health and food and in terms of his accent I talked about H-drops

  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.
  • Look, how many do you need?

glottal stops 

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.

The ‘bath/trap’ split 

  • podcast/podcast
  • laugh/laugh
  • path/path
  • bath/bath

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

Do you go to the gym much? 

Topics: Holidays & Karl’s Fridge

This time he’s going to talk about holidays and his fridge and we will look at more features of his accent.

There’s a video version of this on youtube with text on the screen, plus you will find all the text presented on the page for this episode on my website. 

Just one more thing before we start – I have premium episodes in the pipeline for these two episodes of LEP. The Premium episodes will be a chance to review and remember the vocabulary that comes up in these episodes, and then pronunciation drills too. So, I’ll do a sort of memory quiz with you to see how much vocab you remember and then the usual pronunciation drills – but in my accent, not Karl’s. 

Sign up to LEP Premium

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 


#4 Karl on Holidays

(not Karl on Holiday)

Karl is on a camping holiday, sitting in a tent and moaning. 

  1. Why does Karl think holidays are stressful?
  2. What does Karl think of Lanzarote’s nickname?
  3. What did Karl do on his holiday there?
  4. What’s the problem with holidays in the UK?
  5. What did he think of the seal sanctuary he went to?
  6. What’s the best place Karl has been? Why?
  7. What does Karl think of holidays to the moon?

Vocabulary

You’ve got free time on your hands which you’re not used to.

We ended up walking around this seal sanctuary. 14 quid. £

They were just floating about, hardly moving.

I’m not having a go, but don’t charge me to come in, or at least let me see them again when they’re better.

The coliseum, they don’t do it up.

There’s no overheads.

That’s a mess. Get it knocked down.

At the end of the day the moon is just a big rock. You may/might as well go to Lanzarote.


PRONUNCIATION #3

Nasal

Alright so I went on holiday and it was great and all that.

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • When’s the last time you heard about a tortoise having a heart attack?

Works well with glottal stops.

Nasal sound in /aʊ/ and /ai/ sounds

/aʊ/ in words like about and now sounds more nasal.

What’s he going on about now?

If there were dinosaurs about now and that.

If we’ve run out we need to go outside and get some more.

Nasal sound in /ai/ sound

The /ai/ sound in words like alive, inside, survive, fighting, riot and dying sounds more nasal.

You’re not supposed to eat them alive.

We’ve got to stay inside if we want to survive.

If they were running about fighting and dying and that.

Running riot (sounds like “roonin raiyut”)


#5 Karl on his fridge

Karl’s fridge is broken and he called out a guy to fix it. 

Naturally he’s moaning about workmen who come to your house to do different jobs.

  1. Why does the guy charge £80?
  2. What is Karl’s main problem with engineers, plumbers, workers who have to come to his house?
  3. What advice does the fridge guy give to Karl?
  4. What’s the problem with Karl’s new fridge?

Vocabulary

The fella turned up, right.

Yeah, it’s broke. (broken)

That’s why I called you out.

That’s 80 quid

I said, “you what?” 

An 80 quid callout charge.

I tell you. They wind me up.

I had a fella come round to do the tiling

Turned up late with a carrier bag.

A pot noodle

A copy of the Daily Mirror

A crossword book

He was asking what the pub was like across the road. “What is …. like?”

Having a laugh

When did you last vac it out

Vacuum cleaner

You’re meant to vac them out, because dust and that gets in.

Can’t afford any food to put in it.

It needs wiring in. It’s got one of those fancy plug things.


PRONUNCIATION #4

A lot of other vowel sounds are nasal too.

Turn the corner /ɔː/

They becomes thee

It depends what they do with it.

Why have they only just found that? 

How did they miss that?

Also, he adds little fillers like:

(Do you) know what I mean?

Right? (just sounds like a nazal grunt, almost)

… and that

Like that

And whatnot

And stuff like that

Do you know what I mean?

I tell ya…

Watch out for those things if you like.


Ending

Ladies and gentlemen, this brings us to the end of this episode, as we now prepare to exit the world of Karl Pilkington and re-emerge blinking into the light of the normal world.

Welcome back to yourself, your own attitudes and your own personality again.

I urge you to (just wanted to use that phrase) check the page for this episode on my website where you will find a downloadable full transcript, the audio file for download in mp3 format, a text video version of this episode where you can read the entire thing as you listen and it’s all presented in a rather majestic looking font before your very eyes and of course there’s the comment section where you can share your thoughts not to mention the episode archive with all the previous episodes plus lots of bonus extra stuff. 

Teacherluke.co.uk

LEP Premium 
LEP App
LEP Merch

Have a good one and I will speak to you again soon, bye!

746. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent

Understand English as it is spoken by native speakers. Let’s listen to Karl Pilkington rambling about life, the universe & everything, and see what we can understand and learn. Karl is from Manchester, so we’ll be looking at some features of his accent, picking up plenty of vocabulary and having a bit of a laugh along the way.

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Full Episode Transcript

Hello LEPsters,

Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing today? 

In this episode we’re going to do some intensive listening and use it as a chance to learn some vocabulary and pronunciation.

This episode should be a bit of a laugh as we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of Karl Pilkington and listen to his thoughts on some big issues like health, food, animals, holidays and just existence itself.

We’ll be looking at the different features of his Manchester accent, and there will be lots of vocabulary to pick up too as we are covering a range of different topics. You can also consider this as a little intensive listening test, as I will be setting questions that you have to find answers to, then going through each clip in detail and breaking it all down for language.

We last heard about Karl Pilkington on my podcast in episode 656 in which we listened to a couple of his Monkey News stories about a chimp that works on a building site and another chimp that pilots a space rocket. 

Do you remember that? If you don’t, then get the LEP app and listen to episode 656. It was a very popular episode and it should make you laugh out loud on a bus maybe. 

That was pretty funny stuff, and Karl is very funny even though he’s not actually a comedian.

Who is Karl Pilkington?

To be honest, Karl Pilkington was most well-known about 10 years ago
and these days he’s not in the public eye as much as he used to be,
but he’s still a fairly well-known person in the UK, especially for Ricky Gervais fans.

Karl is just an ordinary bloke from Manchester who met comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant when he worked for them as a radio producer in London. 

Later, Ricky invited Karl to be on his podcast in order to broadcast his weird ideas and inane ramblings to the whole world, and the rest is history. 

The Ricky Gervais Podcast became a world record-breaker with over 300,000,000 downloads.

In episodes, Ricky, Steve & Karl would talk about big topics like religion, evolution, philosophy, nature, birth and death and Karl would often say some bizarre and hilarious things, apparently without intending to be funny.

Ricky was always slightly obsessed with Karl, and he always described him as “an idiot with a perfectly round head like an orange”. 

After being on Ricky’s podcast, Karl went on to become a fairly well-known figure in the UK, doing more podcasts with Ricky, then TV shows, books and documentaries like “An Idiot Abroad”.

Karl is known for his funny and slightly odd musings and observations about life. 

He comes from a working class background in the Manchester area, and his accent has many of the features that you would expect from that. 

Accent / Pronunciation

We will be going into the specific features of his accent in more detail as we go and this kind of follows on from episode 682 which was all about common features of pronunciation in England which are different to RP.

Which accent should you have?

So this episode is about one of the UK’s regional accents.

You might be thinking – Luke, by doing this episode are you saying that we should all learn to speak like Karl?

I’m not saying that. You can choose your accent, and many learners choose a neutral accent to learn, but it’s not all about learning an accent, it’s also about learning to understand different accents, and learning about the varieties of English that are out there.

So, you might not want to speak like Karl, but I certainly want you to understand Karl and the many millions of other people who speak English in a non-standard way.

So this episode is all about understanding an accent, rather than copying it. But of course you can copy Karl’s Mancunian accent if you like.

Vocabulary

There will also be plenty of vocabulary coming up too as we pick apart the things that Karl says and the way he says them.

You’ll find it listed on the screen on the video version and also presented in text form on the page for this episode on my website.

Video

We’re going to be using a series available on youtube in which Karl ponders certain big questions in just 3 minutes of video, originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK as part of their “3 Minute Wonders” series. 

These are short videos in which Karl talks about his fridge, health, food, animals and holidays, covering each topic with his usual ramblings, all delivered in that Manchester accent, know what I mean?

I have about 6 recordings, which are about 3 minutes each (this could become two episodes).

Before I play the recording I’ll give you a little bit of context and I’ll set some questions. 

Then you listen and try to get the answers. 

Then I’ll break it down – listening to each bit again, with some explanations if necessary.

We’ll also pay attention to pronunciation – specifically his Mancunian accent. I’m going to break that down too, exploring the main features of that particular accent.

And I’ll sum up some of the vocab from each clip before moving on to the next one.


#1 Karl on Life

Karl goes around a museum looking at meteorites, dinosaur skeletons and endangered animals (stuffed ones or models) and muses about life in general medical science.

  1. What does Karl wonder about the big bang?
  2. What makes the meteorite room a bit disappointing?
  3. What’s Karl’s main criticism of humanity today?
  4. What does Karl think would happen if a dinosaur got loose and started to “run riot”?
  5. What’s Karl’s main point?

Vocabulary

  • The big bang
  • Did it only seem big because there was no other noise to drown it out at the time?
  • Meteorites (on earth)
  • Meteors (flying in earth’s atmosphere)
  • Asteroids (flying in space)
  • The edge is taken off it because that isn’t the only one.
  • I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
  • Enough’s enough. If your body is that done in, call it a day.
  • The more we know, the more we interfere.
  • Don’t interfere with nature and that.
  • Even if it was going round running riot they’d go “We don’t want it to go extinct
  • The panda is dying out.

Notes on Karl’s accent

Here’s a summary of the main points regarding Karl’s Manchester accent. 

Many of these features are common in people from the Manchester area, although not all people from Manchester will speak like this, and there are different degrees of it. 

This is certainly Karl’s Manchester accent in any case. 

A lot of what I’m about to say will include things brought up in the episode I did about Key Features of English accents, episode 682.

PRONUNCIATION #1

H dropping

  • Look, how many do you need?
  • I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
  • She’d had a new lung, a new heart
  • He puts his hand in and goes “Yep, it’s broke”
  • They weren’t doing anything. They weren’t jumping through hoops. (talking about animals in a zoo)
  • I don’t know if it’s cruel or not, to have them in there.
  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.

Glottal stops (/t/ sounds get replaced by /ʔ/ )

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • Let me see them again when they’re better.

Go back to my episode called 682. Features of English Accents, Explained to find out more about glottal stops.


#2 Karl on Health

Karl recounts a conversation he had with a woman about going to the gym.

  1. Does Karl go to the gym?
  2. What does he think of the idea of breathing classes?
  3. What does he think of drinking 7 pints of water a day?
  4. What’s Karl’s argument for not going to the gym? Heart beats, tortoise

Vocabulary

  • I know what’s probably putting you off – the fact that it’s hard work.
  • Breathing classes – I’m 32 I think I’ve got the hang of it
  • My Dad’s like 60-odd. I’ve never seen him drink a pint of water, yet they’re telling us we should have, like, 7 pints a day or something, and then they wonder why there’s a water drought on.
  • They keep coming up with daft ways of keeping fit.
  • Chucking paint at each other. 

PRONUNCIATION #2

/æ/ not /ɑː/ (the “bath/trap split”, again)

Short A sound /æ/ in bath, podcast 

(gas and glass have the same vowel sound in Karl’s Manchester accent).

This is normal across all northern accents, and many accents in the midlands. I would use /ɑː/ because although I lived in the midlands for many years (half my childhood), my accent is mostly from the south because I’ve lived there more and my parents don’t have strong regional accents.

Come to my class. We do breathing classes.

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

The U sound in but, enough and much.

I pronounce it /ʌ/ but Karl pronounces it more like /ʊ/

Do you go to the gym much? 


#3 Karl on Food

Karl talks about a new trend – eating things which shouldn’t be eaten. 

Coming from England, Karl thinks it’s weird to eat certain things that might be eaten in other cultures, like live octopus, insects, frogs, snails, probably raw meat, raw fish and sushi.

  1. What is the danger of eating a live octopus?
  2. What’s Karl’s issue with kids and food today?
  3. What does Karl think about eating dog?

Vocabulary

  • They choke you. Why would you want to eat that?
  • If we’re eating octopuses, why are dogs getting away with it?

END OF PART 1 – TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2

729. TOEFL and the Duolingo English Test (with Josh MacPherson from TSTPrep.com)

Talking to Josh MacPherson about tips and advice for taking TOEFL and the Duolingo English Test. YouTube version also available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, here is an episode about English Tests like TOEFL and the Duolingo English Test which I hope will still be an interesting episode even for those who have no plans to take one of these tests. I’m joined by online English teacher Josh MacPherson. I guess you have heard of TOEFL, and the Duolingo English Test is a test made by Duolingo, that company which helps you learn languages on your phone, and which seems to be managed by a green cartoon owl, who is some kind of master of learning English. They make a test now, and it’s getting really big.

Some time is spent describing the tests but we don’t just spend an hour describing TOEFL. Most of the time we are doing samples from the test, commenting on my performance in a TOEFL speaking task, discussing testing methods in general and giving comments on ways to perform well, particularly in the speaking parts of a test like TOEFL and IELTS.

Also, tests should be reliable and having genuinely good English skills should (of course) cause you to get decent results, so a lot of the tips relating to getting a better score are also generally good tips for improving your level of English, so even if you’re not planning to take one of these tests, the tips and advice here should be applicable to your English anyway.

There is a video version of this episode on YouTube and you can see Josh’s screen and can observe our conversation as if you are taking part in a Zoom call with us. You can find the video on the page for this episode or on my YouTube channel.

Again, the audio is not tip top this time round and that was caused by things like microphone echo, which I have managed to fix, but in any case I think you can still hear everything clearly.

That’s it, I hope you enjoy it and you will find all the links you need on the page for this episode on my website.

Let’s get started

I am joined today by Josh MacPherson from TSTPrep.com and the TST Prep YouTube channel.

Josh is an English teacher who specialises in helping learners of English prepare for English tests, particularly TOEFL and also the fairly new DuoLingo English Test.

I thought I’d interview Josh to find out more about these tests and to get some tips from him about how to get the best result that you can.

Also, we’re going to do some test questions during this interview, so we can see how well I perform in these tests too.

Links

Ending Transcript

Thanks again to Josh for his contribution to this episode.

Don’t forget, links are available on the page for this episode for all the things Josh mentioned there including test practice, sample answers, tips and videos.

Thank you as ever for listening all the way up to this point.

There’s not much more for me to add here. I haven’t played the guitar on the podcast lately, but I will be coming back to that soon, but for now I will just wish you a fond farewell and until next time, good bye bye bye bye bye

723. Bahar from Iran 🇮🇷 (WISBOLEP Runner-Up)

This is the final episode in the WISBOLEP competition series, speaking to Bahar from Iran about the 7-step method she used to improve her English and develop a British-sounding accent. Bahar used to be a terrible student who hated English, but then she made a decision to focus on her English in her own way. Listen to her explain how she did it.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, this is the final episode in the WISBOLEP series – Why I Should Be On Luke’s English Podcast. As you probably know, this was a competition I launched last year in which listeners chose other listeners who they would like to be interviewed in an episode of the podcast, and so far we’ve had 5 people, all of whom have managed to improve their English to a proficient level, while living in a non-English speaking environment for the most part, without having English speaking people in their family or close friends. So these have been stories of English learning success, which I seriously hope have been inspiring and interesting for you to listen to.

This conversation is with Bahar from Iran. Bahar actually came 5th in the competition, but she happened to be the last person I interviewed.

As you will hear, Bahar’s English is excellent but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, according to her she used to be a terrible student who hated English and who couldn’t string a sentence together. But now it’s a completely different story. She is proficient in English, she has a lovely clear accent and is confident and talkative, and loves this language. So how did she do it?

That is the main focus of this episode. Bahar tells us the story of her English journey, and she outlines her 7-step method for improving her English, especially her pronunciation. 

Yes, she has come up with a 7-step method. To be clear, she defined this method in retrospect, meaning that having improved her English to a good level she then looked back at what she had done and consolidated her approach into 7 clear steps, and she’s going to go through the entire thing in this episode.

Now, you can try to follow Bahar’s method, but one of the main points here is that you can actually come up with your own method for improving your English as long as you maintain certain key principles in your learning. 

There’s no need for me to add much more here really, except that you will find links to the various resources Bahar mentions during this conversation. Those are resources that she has found to be especially useful. You’ll find links to those things on the page for this episode on my website.

So now I will let you meet Bahar from Iran, currently living in Italy and here we go.


Ending Transcript

So that was Bahar from Iran. Thanks again to Bahar for her contribution. She definitely put a lot of effort into preparing herself for this conversation, coming up with some clearly defined steps and thinking about how she could go into some specific details about the things that worked for her. So, thanks Bahar for doing that.

You will see the hand drawn infographic that Bahar created to show her 7 steps – you’ll see it on the page for this episode on my website, and as the image for this episode on YouTube.

Perhaps the main point is that you can create your own method for learning English. Just go with whatever works for you. There isn’t one single best approach. You just have to make sure you are working with English on a regular basis, that you do things which bring you some joy (there’s no point slogging away with something that you just don’t like doing), you should attempt to maintain a positive and beneficial cycle in your approach to English, try to find your own personal motivation for learning the language, say to yourself “I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it my way” and then just put the time in. 

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of just spending plenty of time listening and don’t apply too much pressure to yourself. Let it happen naturally and in its own time. I hope my podcast helps to make this easier.

Again, check the page for this episode on my website where you’ll find links to things that Bahar mentioned, including the BBC Sounds of English pronunciation course, British Council Elementary Podcasts and so on.

That’s for this episode. Thank you for listening. Leave your comments and feedback in the comment section and have a fantastic day, night, morning, afternoon or evening and I will speak to you soon.

But now it’s time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye.

Useful Links

The Sounds of English (BBC Pronunciation Course) www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/oromo/features/the-sounds-of-english

On YouTube www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD6B222E02447DC07

British Council Podcasts and Listening Resources at Different Levels learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/skills/listening

Pearson graded readers www.pearson.com/english/catalogue/readers.html

719. Amber & Paul are on the Podcast

Talking to pod-pals Amber & Paul about diverse topics including organ harvesting (yes), favourite fruits (exciting), accent challenges, guess the punchline, British Citizenship tests, What the “great” in Great Britain really means, and Amber’s son Hugo’s astonishing fluency in English.

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Episode Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and welcome back to my podcast for learners of English. How are you doing today? Doing ok? 

I won’t talk at great length at the start here, suffice to say that as the title of this episode suggests, Amber & Paul are on the podcast again, after a one year absence. 

Yes, the tangential trio are at it again.

I’ve been wondering What on earth I should call this episode. As you will hear, the options I had for a snappy title for this one were a bit tricky because our conversation covers some pretty diverse topics, including some quite dark themes, some potentially controversial moments and the usual fun rambling nonsense. It’s hard to sum it up in one pithy clickbait title. I think I’m just calling it “Amber & Paul are on the Podcast” but that does seem like a bit of a cop out. Anyway, we will see what I ultimately choose as a name for this episode. 

Here’s a quick hint of the diverse topics which we explore. 

Organ harvesting – yes, that’s right, organ harvesting. To get this, you will need to have listened to the previous episode of this podcast (#718), which was a conversation with Michael the hitchhiking shaman from Poland. In that episode Michael explained how, when hitchhiking once, he almost got kidnapped by several people who he suspected were organ harvesters – people involved in the illegal trade of human internal organs. Amber heard that podcast and was sceptical.

This prompted nearly 30 minutes of conversation about the ins and outs of organ harvesting, including how, where, why and who would do this. 

Then we go on to do various random questions & challenges from my list of random questions and challenges, so you will get some accent fun, a thrilling discussion of Amber’s favourite fruit and vegetables, a story about Amber’s son Hugo and his surprising articulacy in English, a joke about Spanish firemen, some British citizenship questions about Easter holidays, British overseas territories and why Great Britain is actually called Great Britain, and plenty more besides. So, other than organ harvesting, there isn’t just one theme for this episode, hence the rather generic title.

It’s a thrill ride of an episode which has everything you could expect from a a conversation with Amber & Paul. I hope you enjoy it. Nothing more needs to be said except that you are about to hear a rapid conversation between friends and it might be difficult to follow, so strap in, hold on tight and let the tangential chat commence…


Episode Ending Transcript

Well, there you have it. Amber & Paul reunited on the podcast once more. We’d been waiting for ages for that to happen, and I hope you were not disappointed.

Just in case you were wondering what “tangential” means (and you’re not a long-term listener)

A tangent or a conversational tangent is when someone starts talking about something that is unrelated from the main topic of the conversation. To go off on a tangent.

Tangential is the adjective and it refers to something different from the subject you were talking about. This is typical of all my podcast conversations, but especially those ones with Amber & Paul, and so we are the tangential trio.

As ever I am curious to know what you think about all of this. 

Sometimes our conversations become quite rude and inappropriate, but I’m just presenting you a natural conversation between friends, and this sort of thing is normal when socialising in English. 

Here are some questions for your consideration:

  • What do you think of Michael’s organ harvesting story? Do you believe it? Is it possible?
  • What is your favourite fruit or vegetable?
  • Why is Great Britain called Great Britain?
  • Did you hear about the Spanish fireman and his two sons?

Let us know your thoughts and comments in the comment section.

I’ve got a ton of episodes in the pipeline which will be coming out over the next few weeks and months.

Here’s a little taster of things to come:

Bahar from Iran

A couple of episodes about expanding your vocabulary using word quizzes and dictionaries with a returning guest

More episodes in the vague Beatles season including some stuff about the psychology of John Lennon, adjectives for describing personality traits and some analysis of Beatle song lyrics, with a sort of expert guest.

Various stories which I have been searching for and then reading out on the podcast, with YouTube versions (this is because the recent Roald Dahl story I read out was a popular one)

More special guests for interviews and collaborations, more bits of comedy analysed and broken down, and plenty of other things too…

I am still waiting for my shiny thing from YouTube but when it arrives I will be doing another YouTube live stream. Who knows, I might do one before it arrives, but I will let you know. 

Premium subscribers, I have the rest of the “What did Rick say” series coming up, and then a similar series called “What did Gill say?” focusing on language from my recent conversation with my mum about The Beatles, following a suggestion from a listener.

So, new premium content is either being published, written or recorded all the time, so watch out for new episodes. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo if you’d like to find out more.

I will be back soon with more episodes, but for now it’s time to say goodbye…

718. Michael the Shaman 🇵🇱 (WISBLOEP Runner-Up)

Talking to competition runner-up Michael from Poland about two top English learning tips, scary hitch-hiking stories and the practice of shamanism using psychoactive substances.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everybody and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast. How are you today? I hope you’re doing well as you listen to this, wherever you are in the world at this particular moment in time.

This is the 5th in the WISBOLEP competition series – Why I Should Be On Luke’s English Podcast, talking to winners and runner ups from the listener competition I did at the end of last year. 

So far I have spoken to Walaa from Syria, Tasha from China, William from France and Robin from Germany. Now it’s the turn of Michael from Poland, also known as Michael the Shaman (this is the nickname that he often uses, for reasons which will become clear later in this episode). Michael actually came sixth, and Bahar from Iran was fifth, but at the time of recording this I haven’t spoken to Bahar yet. Her interview is coming soon though.

So, let me tell you a little bit about Michael the Shaman, from Poland.

Michael, who for the record is not an English teacher, has a lot to offer both in terms of language-learning tips that have worked for him and some very interesting stories and insights into some pretty deep and fascinating things, and I think this should be a great episode. So, listen closely.

Here’s a quick overview of the things we cover.

First we talk about language learning and those specific tips from Michael. These are resources and approaches that he has used to work on his English, especially his vocabulary and pronunciation, with some success I would say. I won’t go into them now, but pay attention so you can hear him describe these things, how he uses them and how they have helped him make some significant improvements to his English. I will summarise them again at the end and give a few extra comments.

Secondly, Michael tells us some of his hitch-hiking stories. Michael has spent lots of time travelling around in neighbouring countries near Poland and doing it by hitch-hiking, which basically means getting picked up by drivers who are going in the direction he wants to go, and hitching a ride with them as a way of travelling around. Now, this sounds adventurous and possibly a bit risky, because it does involve travelling in the cars of strangers, and Michael has some genuinely frightening and incredible stories of doing this. Again, listen closely to hear the specifics of the edgy situations that Michael has found himself in. 

Then, thirdly we have the topic of shamanism, or being a shaman. Michael is probably better placed to describe this than me, but being a shaman basically refers to the use of certain rituals and practices to enter different states of consciousness, which can lead to new discoveries, new perspectives, new ways of thinking and different ways of seeing the world, or the universe in fact, and our place within it. This is something that Michael has explored and for him it has been very beneficial to his life in various ways. So let’s listen to what Michael has to say about shamanism and the use of psychedelics.

At this point I feel I need to say something about the use of psychedelic substances, which is part of what Michael describes as being a shaman, and we’re talking about using substances that occur in nature, like certain magic mushrooms and ayahuasca as well as the synthetic chemical LSD or acid as it is also known. 

So I would like to just say one or two things about this topic as a sort of disclaimer or preface to our conversation.

First of all, the substances I just mentioned are controlled substances in most countries, which means that they are illegal to some extent. So, we are certainly not suggesting that people go out and start using them. 

By the way, I’m referring to these things here as controlled substances, but in many cases they are also called drugs, and they’re not just prohibited by law, but also in the general culture. For a lot of people drugs are a serious taboo and people often have quite strong and negative feelings towards this subject. I am aware of this, and I hope that you are comfortable listening to us talking about it on this podcast. I think it’s alright, but I am aware that for some people drugs are just not ok, and that’s fine.

I feel it’s necessary to say that in talking about psychedelic drugs here we are not condoning their use in any kind of flippant way, and “condoning” means promoting or supporting something. We take this seriously and as you will hear Michael is very articulate and quite serious about the subject. He’s very well-read and knowledgeable, and we are just talking about his personal experiences and knowledge, which I do think are interesting as well as being new as a subject on this podcast. I’ve never really talked about this kind of thing in depth before on the podcast.

Also I think it’s worth making a distinction between different types of drug or substance.

There are many different types of drug, and they are extremely different to each other. 

People often just say “drugs” without making any distinction between them. They just lump them all together as if they are all the same, basically. But I think it is worth making a distinction. Despite that fact that controlled substances are often grouped together as drugs, they are not really the same as they have very different effects and different levels of risk and we are certainly not talking about things like cocaine, crack cocaine or heroin, which are obviously very dangerous substances and very serious substances. We are not talking about those things here.  

So, I thought it would be worth making that distinction and I’m trying to be responsible about this topic, but I’m also attempting to manage your expectations here because I don’t want you to get the wrong impression or to be shocked or to have a knee-jerk reaction while listening to us mention psychoactive substances in the latter part of this conversation. For many of you, these words are not really necessary, you’re fine with it, but there it is. I felt I should make those points. We’re not promoting any kind of illegal behaviour, we are not talking about those damaging and addictive things that ultimately will destroy a person’s life, instead we are taking what I hope is a more reasonable and rational approach here and discussing the more intellectual and spiritual aspects of shamanism and how certain psychoactive substances are part of that.

Right, now before we get to the talk of psychedelics in the second half of our conversation, you can first hear Michael’s specific language learning tips, which I think are really useful, and then his crazy hitch-hiking stories, which are pretty mind-blowing and entertaining.

Right, no need for me to add anything else here. I really hope you enjoy this conversation. I’ll be recapping and summarising some details later but let’s now meet Michael the Shaman from Poland, another runner up in the WISBOLEP competition. 

Are you ready? Listening carefully? OK, here we go.

Bruce Parry’s short film about Ayahuasca

Ending Transcript

So that was Michael from Poland, and wow, that was awesome stuff, wasn’t it? It got very deep there, and cosmic, didn’t it? I hope you liked it. As usual, I’m very interested to read your responses to the things that Michael said. 

I’m going to sum up some of the things Michael said at the start of the conversation about learning English, because after all that mind-expanding talk of psychedelic trips and also the hitch-hiking stories, it seems like we talked about his language learning methods ages ago, and I think he made some really great recommendations that you could find really useful for your English.

Now, considering Michael’s English again. I think it’s fair to say that it’s good, right? 

I do want to repeat a couple of points.

Don’t compare yourself to others too much

Don’t compare yourself to other people too much. This can lead you to judge yourself a bit harshly, which is totally normal. Whenever we listen to other language learners, the tendency is to either judge their language level, or judge our own level in comparison to theirs, but this isn’t a very healthy thing to do in terms of language learning, and what I’d encourage you to do is only judge yourself by your own success, and rather than comparing yourself to others, try to notice how your English is better than it was before. 

Just compare yourself to yourself at earlier points in your language learning journey. Notice improvements you’ve made, and celebrate them. This is more likely to put you in a better mental space than comparing yourself with others. 

Just think how far you’ve come as a learner of English and take note of your progress. That’s probably healthier than falling into any kind of negative thinking which can happen if we compare ourselves unfavourably to other language learners.

So, try not to judge others too harshly, and don’t compare yourself to others too much. 

And hopefully listening to other language learners can give you some inspiration and some practical ideas which you can use to work on your English in ways you hadn’t considered before. Even little things like changing certain habits can make a big difference to your learning of English. 

And with that in mind, let me quickly just go over the tips Michael had for learning English, which worked for him. Have you tried these things or used these resources?

Michael’s Language Learning Resources

There were two things really:

  • Use English/English dictionaries to expand your vocabulary with correct definitions, examples, phonemic transcriptions and synonyms. My 5 favourites are www.collinsdictionary.com  www.cambridge.dictionary.org  www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/ www.macmillandictionary.com and Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English www.ldoceonline.com/
    I have been planning to do a full episode on using online dictionaries to improve your English (in fact I’ll be touching on this a bit in a couple of upcoming episodes), but I will just say that these dictionaries are fantastic resources not just for getting definitions, but getting synonyms, examples, phonemic transcriptions and more – all of which are really important ways of really getting to know new words. Bookmark the dictionaries, use them all (because they have slightly different examples and details which you can cross reference) and get into the habit of checking words in them and exploring the information they can give you. Never before have we had access to so many wonderful language learning resources, completely free of charge, and at our fingertips at all hours of the day. It’s like living in a massive library. So, use those online dictionaries to explore new words.
  • The second resource Michael mentioned was the website www.dialectsarchive.com  – a website full of voice recordings used by actors and voice coaches trying to learn different accents, and especially the text Comma Gets a Cure, which is designed to reveal a huge variety of pronunciation features in English. You can hear the text being read in different accents, you can shadow the text, repeat it, record yourself repeating it and more. I plan to do some premium episodes using this text and other similar texts too. There is a lot to explore and use there, including some podcast episodes by the creators. www.dialectsarchive.com 

OK, so just two tips there, but they are solid ones.

And returning to the hitch-hiking stories. I just want to sum up the main one, just to be sure you got it. I think it was probably clear, but I want to retell that story just because I think it was such an exciting story, and maybe you didn’t catch the specifics.

Michael’s Hitch-hiking Story – recap

So Michael and his friend Kuba were hitchhiking from Poland to Amsterdam and they got picked up by a couple of very dodgy guys in a van. They didn’t realise it when they first got in the van but these guys were drinking alcohol and smoking some kind of crystal – perhaps crystal meth, like in the TV series Breaking Bad. Meth is a pretty nasty drug.

Michael is an intuitive person and he picked up on a very bad vibe from these guys and became convinced they were planning to do something very nasty with Kuba and him. Like I said, it sounds like something from a horror film. Listening to their comments, watching their demeanour and generally reading between the lines, Michael became convinced these guys were organ traffickers, who are people that kidnap healthy people in order to steal their internal organs and sell them on the black market. Certainly these guys seemed to be very dodgy and probably involved in organised crime.

Michael decided he would subtly let the guys know that he and Kuba were actually not that healthy and therefore their organs were not worth taking, which would convince them to just let them go.

It’s crazy I know, but I kind of know what Michael is talking about when he said he just knew something wasn’t right and that they were in danger. I feel like I’ve been in similar situations before, where you realise that the people you are with are dangerous and up to something, and so you just have to get out. It’s a weird feeling. I can’t remember any specific stories from my own life, but I’ve met guys in pubs before who just seemed dangerous and untrustworthy, even though there were no specific things that would give me that impression. It’s more of a vibe that certain people give off.

Anyway, Michael said that he heard the guys making jokes about stealing their organs, which appeared to be jokes, but there was a sinister undercurrent which suggested that perhaps they were not really joking. Michael’s friend Kuba was not quite as observant maybe and he didn’t seem to realise something was wrong, but anyway Michael sent him text messages to convince him that something wasn’t right. They managed to persuade the drivers to stop the van at a petrol station because Michael needed to be sick or had diarrhea and then they escaped at a petrol station.

They then decided to continue their hitchhiking trip to The Netherlands, but decided they would not accept lifts from any more Polish people, nobody drinking or using drugs and no vans. This is because they didn’t want to risk running into any similar people or perhaps their friends who they suspected were also on the road, but somehow the next car that picked them up, by coincidence maybe, contained the friends of the dodgy guys they had just escaped from. So, it was a case of “out of the frying pan, into the fire”.

Michael said that these other guys seemed more intelligent and perhaps were the bosses of the other two they had met previously, and the only way Michael and Kuba got away without being taken, was because the guys ended up liking them, as they played along with their jokes and generally tried not to antagonise them at all. So, phew! What a lucky escape! 

And Michael said that hitchhiking was not that dangerous! 

Actually I do believe that on balance his experiences of hitch hiking have been much more positive than negative, but what a scary story! And I do believe it is true. I find it very believable. There are dodgy people in the world.

And finally, a few more words on the topic of psychedelics like magic mushrooms.

A final note on Magic Mushrooms

All the things Michael mentioned about Amanita muscaria (Fly Agaric) are definitely worth researching. In his words (from a recent email exchange we had) “I think I talked about maybe 1% of things you can do with this mushroom. I’d like to stress once again that I don’t recommend everybody uses this mushroom. I’m all about education and knowledge. The mushroom can have medical, therapeutic and spiritual effects, but only if one does it correctly. It is not easy to work with this mushroom.

An excellent resource for Amanita muscaria is Amanita Dreamer on YouTube and her website www.AmanitaDreamer.net. Also, a recently published book: ‘Fly Agaric: A compendium of History, Pharmacology, Mythology & Exploration’ by Kevin Feeney is also great.

These resources are essential as there are many dangerous myths regarding Amanita muscaria. Remember, it’s important to make sure that you are fully knowledgeable about this mushroom. You can’t just pick the caps and eat them. 

I think the same goes for all kinds of psychedelic substance that Michael talked about. Please remember that we’re not condoning the use of these things in any kind of casual way. You must be very careful, very well-read and personally very prepared before going any further.

Right then, what did you think of this episode?

Any thoughts on Michael’s language learning resources, his hitchhiking tales or his comments on the use of psychedelics? If you have things to say, just express your thoughts in English, ideally in the comment section on my website.

That’s all from me. Have a good morning, afternoon, evening or night. Be excellent to each other, good luck with your English and do take care.

Speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now it’s just time to say good bye bye bye bye bye.

713. Lucky Dip with Paul Taylor

More random questions, talking points, accent challenges and “guess the idiom” with pod-pal Paul Taylor. Includes discussion of accents in English, cancel culture in comedy, some rude Spanish phrases and more. Video version available.

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Luke on Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour (5 April 2021)

Transcript for the Introduction

Hello everyone,

I hope you’re doing well today.

Here is a brand new episode, hot on the heels of the last one and my friend Paul Taylor is back on the podcast again this time and I just wanted to add a few things here before we start properly. This is not going to be a 15 minute introduction though, I promise. It’ll be 14 minutes.

Firstly, there is a video version of this episode and you can watch it on my YouTube channel or on the page for this episode on my website and if you’re watching on YouTube, don’t forget to like and subscribe.

By the way, I reached 100,000 subscribers on YouTube the other day, which is nice. Thank you very much if you wrote me a message saying congratulations. It’s a nice milestone and if YouTube decides I’m eligible, I should receive one of those shiny things from them – a kind of plaque which I can proudly display in my pod-room at home. If and when that shiny plaque arrives I’ll do some kind of YouTube livestream in which I unbox the plaque and do some of the usual live streaming shenanigans. So listen out for announcements about the time and date for that on the podcast soon.

*By the way – this text is all written on the page for this episode*

Talking of YouTube live, after recording this episode, Paul invited me onto his Happy Hour Live – his weekly YouTube live stream, and we had a lot of fun celebrating my 100,000 subscriber milestone with a bottle of nice champagne, some funny accent challenges – reading famous lines and quotes from films in different accents, and also we looked at some common French idioms and tried to translate them into English.

You’ll be able to find that on Paul’s YouTube channel for Happy Hour Live and also that will be embedded on page for this episode on my website, along with the video for the episode you are listening to now. So, plenty of video content for you to check out if you like.

This episode is very similar to the last one featuring Paul, which was episode 698, published just before Christmas last year.

I decided to use the same format as last time, with a few random questions and little challenges and things, the idea being that we’d get a selection of different topics and bits of language during the conversation. So, it doesn’t really focus on one thing in particular, but a variety of things, some of them quite silly and others more serious.

You’ll see that this time I chose to call the episode “Lucky Dip with Paul Taylor”. I also could have called it “Pot Luck with Paul Taylor”.

I thought that would be a slightly snappier title than what I went with before, which was “Random Questions with Paul Taylor” although that is more descriptive. It’s possible to overthink the titles of episodes – it probably doesn’t matter that much as I expect or hope that most of you will listen to my episodes regardless of the title. Anyway, I should probably explain what those things mean now.

Lucky Dip and Pot Luck – they both refer to situations where you don’t really know what you are going to get, but you hope they will be good things.

A Lucky Dip is a game that you might play at a funfair or at a children’s party.

This is when some items, or gifts, are put into a bag and you have to dip your hand into the bag, rummage around and pick something out. You don’t know what you’re going to get, although you know it will be some kind of gift, prize or treat – like a bag of sweets, a little toy or something like that.

I thought that was a good title for this one because this episode is a bit like a lucky dip – Paul is essentially blindly dipping into my list of questions and picking things out, not knowing what he’ll get, and it’s just supposed to be a bit of fun.

Pot luck is another phrase which could be used to describe a game like the lucky dip, but it’s also a general phrase for any situation in which you don’t know exactly what you’re going to get, but you hope that it’ll be good.

Here are some examples of pot luck (A couple are from the Oxford Dictionary for Learners of English – other dictionaries are available)

  • It’s pot luck whether you get good advice or not.
  • When you sign up to English lessons at a school it’s pot luck what kind of teacher or fellow classmates you’ll get.

So I think you can see how those phrases relate to the concept for this episode.

Just a heads-up – there is some swearing in this episode, and not just in English. There’s a bit of Spanish swearing in here too, which I hope you don’t mind too much if Spanish is your first language – it’s probably ok isn’t it? I expect so, but I should say that I hope my mum doesn’t listen to this episode. I’ll let you find out more as you listen.

There was certainly no intention for us to be offensive to anyone in particular during this conversation and we only talk about rude expressions in order to understand them and perhaps laugh about them a bit (because some rude expressions in Spanish seem pretty funny when you translate them into English).

Also, there’s the usual fast talking that you get from episodes with my friends, so I hope you’re ready for that.

Alright, that’s it for my introduction then. I just couldn’t help doing some kind of introduction here at the start of the episode, but you can now listen to our conversation in full and completely unedited. So, let’s begin.

Song Lyrics for “I’m Only Sleeping” by The Beatles

tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-beatles/im-only-sleeping-chords-1768241

712. A Chat with Charlie Baxter

Chatting with Charlie from The British English Podcast and Real English with Real Teachers on YouTube. We talk about the north/south divide in England, Charlie’s background in psychology & NLP, his decision to become an online English teacher and his travelling experiences in Chile, Germany and Australia. Video version available.

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Links for The British English Podcast

Some language notes from my introduction

Typical responses to “How are you?”

Some of these sound a bit negative, but they’re quite normal.

  • Not too bad.
  • Could be worse.
  • Mustn’t grumble.
  • Can’t complain.
  • Not so bad, thanks for asking.

Of course you can say:

  • I’m fine thanks
  • I’m good thanks
  • I’m very well thanks

Or (more positively)

  • I’m radiant (a nice word meaning “glowing with happiness” but nobody really uses it)

-ish

My guest on the podcast in this episode is Charlie Baxter. Charlie is an online English teacher, a YouTuber and a podcaster too and you might well know him from his YouTube channel, which is called Real English with Real Teachers (which he does with his friend Harry) and you might also know him from his newish podcast which is called The British English Podcast

  • I’ll see you at 12-ish.
  • Dave’s car is a kind of greyish-blue colour.
  • Charlie’s podcast is newish. He started it about 6 months ago.

Here’s that photo of David Crystal presenting an award to Andy Johnson and me.

David Crystal, me and Andy Johnson

And here’s that tweet from The British Podcast Awards – as proof that I genuinely came 3rd in the competition!

Check out other details of the highly prestigious awards we talked about here teacherluke.co.uk/awards-2/

699. Welcome (back) to Luke’s English Podcast / FAQ (January 2021)

Wishing everyone a happy new year and taking stock of the main aims and methods of this podcast, plus some frequently asked questions. Video version available on YouTube.

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Episode Notes & Transcript

In this episode the plan is to wish you a happy new year, welcome back all my regular listeners (and maybe some irregular listeners too) and also say a big hello to any new listeners who might have just discovered this podcast and are wondering what it’s all about. I normally do episodes like this at the start of the year because at this time, during the new year period, it’s normal to turn over a new leaf, make a fresh start, perhaps make some new year’s resolutions and generally try to pick up some good habits for the year to come – and that often includes working on your English and trying to find good listening resources to help you do that. 

So, in this episode I’d like to welcome you to LEP or welcome you back to LEP, just summarise what this podcast is all about, restate my objectives for doing this and generally make sure we are all on-track for a good year of podcasting and learning English in 2021.

I’ve decided to answer some Frequently Asked Questions. These are the questions people typically ask me when they find out that I have a podcast for learning English and they want to know more. 

So during the episode, you’ll learn or be reminded of what the main ideas are for this podcast, what teaching principles this is based on, what my methods are, what you can expect from my episodes in general, how you can use them to improve your English and also some info about me too, because it’s a good idea to get to know the person you’re listening to, isn’t it? I have always found, as a teacher, that it really helps when I put my personality into my English lessons. It just seems to make things more enjoyable and effective for the learners. Not because I have an award-winning personality or anything, but just that I think learning a language is a deeply personal process and so it makes sense to have a more personal approach to teaching it as well as learning it. It helps if you know who I am. It gives you context, it brings the language to life and it’s just more fun too, isn’t it. If you like, as you listen to this, you can imagine we’re in a cafe or something (even though I’m doing all the talking – but you can pause me at any time and put your thoughts into words if you want. I can’t hear or respond to you, but it’s better than nothing isn’t it? That’s the least you can say about my podcast , haha, “Well, it’s better than listening to nothing”)

By the way, other podcasts are available of course. As you probably know, there are quite a lot of podcasts for learners of English including ones by the BBC and other ones by other people, and they’re great, but obviously I hope you listen to my podcast, don’t I?

So, what’s this podcast? How can it help your English? Who are you listening to? Those are the sorts of questions we’ll be covering, but also plenty of other random bits and pieces.

JINGLE

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to the podcast! I hope you had a fairly good holiday period – as good as it can be during this mad mad time that we are all living in. When’s the world going to go back to normal? When’s that going to happen? We don’t know. Was it even normal in the first place? Probably not. In any case – I hope you’re well and that you’ve started 2021 in a reasonably positive frame of mind and that you’re ready to embark on some new audio adventures with me and my podcast.

If you are a brand new listener – then welcome. I really hope you simply enjoy listening to me talking to you, or talking with my guests in English in these episodes. I hope that this will help you to get regular English listening practise into your life, and that you enjoy it too.

Because enjoying your listening practise is so important. This will help you to listen regularly, listen for longer periods of time and listen long-term in your life as well. 

We all know that it is very important and useful to listen to plenty of clear, natural English, spoken at a fairly normal speed, focusing on a variety of topics. 

Reading is good. Studying grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation – that’s good. Doing plenty of speaking practice is really important. Watching videos in English is helpful. But do not underestimate the importance of just listening to English – for as long as possible each time. That’s what this podcast aims to help you do – at a very minimum. There is more to it than that of course. A lot more. But basically – I want you to do more listening in English.

The first and most basic aim of this podcast is just to help you to get more English in your life through listening to the spoken word – listening to English as it is spoken naturally, by me in this case, and my guests.

Let’s go through my list of frequently asked questions, which will form the backbone of this episode, which is probably quite long.

  • What is this podcast?
  • Is it for me?
    • It’s for everyone, but it might be difficult if → You’re lower than an intermediate level (intermediate might be hard – you’ll have to be extra motivated) or you are a really visual learner. (My wife doesn’t listen to podcasts – even in French. She can’t really do it. She feels she has to close her eyes or do nothing else, whereas I love just listening to audio and it works really well for me – better than watching videos because I can multi task)
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • Why did you start doing this podcast?
  • Who are you Luke? I mean, can you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and your career so that we can feel totally confident that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re just some guy who can speak English?
  • Will it really help my English to listen to this? 
    • Yes.
  • How do you know?
    First-hand accounts from listeners.

Common sense. Of course. It’s about a billion times more effective than listening to nothing at all. Plus, what else are you going to do? Watch Netflix with subtitles (yes, do that too, but switch the subs off sometimes) REad books (yes definitely – both graded and non-graded ones if you’re ready) Speak English with people you know who speak English (yes) Take English classes (good idea as long as you take part properly and take responsibility for your learning too). You can do all of those things. But I don’t want to make this complicated. Listen to my podcast regularly and it will help with your English. 

Academic studies I’ve done – while preparing my teaching qualifications I read a lot of books and other texts based on proper academic studies into how people learn languages. 

Professional experience after having met many thousands of learners of English from many places, and working with them closely to help their English. Observing what works for them, what people respond to, the realities of learning a language. 

All of that has shown me that regularly listening to something like my podcast can help your English a lot. I could go into that more (and I have in previous episodes) but that’s all I will say at this point.

  • Will it help me improve my grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation?
    • Yes, both directly (when I teach language) and indirectly (through exposure). I can also help you think about the way that you learn, which can make you a more skillful and effective learner.
  • What’s your method then, Professor Thompson?
    • 5 Ls, 5 Ss, 5 Ps, being a smart-learner, the 5 Ms, DISCIPLINE, commitment.
      There are many ways to approach language learning. You have to choose one that works for you and that helps you to keep doing it even when it’s tough.
      Basic: Get as much English into your life as possible and make it meaningful. Hopefully I can help by giving you something you enjoy and want to listen to.
      More complex: Be a conscious learner too → notice structures and phrases, notice pronunciation (how I say things), try to record them, understand them in context, remember them, record them and repeat them. My premium content is designed specifically to help you do that. I cut out a lot of the annoying work and put it all on a plate for you. Just listen, follow the PDFs and do what I tell you to do – memory tests, repeat after me etc.
  • Can I really learn English on my own, only by listening to you Luke? 

I always recommend my podcast as “part of a balanced diet” and that does include doing other things, especially plenty of speaking practise with real people, probably qualified teachers who can help give you bits of feedback and correct your errors, but also just speaking with people helps you develop the social side of using in English for communication. 

I should also mention writing and reading of course, but since this is an audio podcast we focus mainly on the spoken version of English.

  • What level is it for?
  • Should I do anything else, other than just listening? 
    • Share your thoughts in the comment section on my website – practise little bits of writing there and chat with other listeners.
  • Your episodes are quite long. Aren’t they too long, in fact?
  • How should I listen? (the technology you can use, what you can do while listening, where you listen, how often you listen)
  • Are there transcripts for these episodes?
  • What’s your accent Luke?
  • Do you only have native speakers on your podcast?
    Most of the time my guests have English as a first language, but sometimes I talk to people who have learned English in adulthood because these people are extremely inspiring as they have done what so many people want to do, and they have great insights into the process of learning English and it’s also really important for you to listen to non-native English speakers speaking English too because it’s vital to hear a variety of English being spoken in your life. English is a diverse language. There are many people around the world using it and speaking it in slightly different ways. It’s important for you to be able to understand all those different varieties. This is true for the different accents and dialects in native English speakers too – you should become accustomed to hearing English spoken with various regional accents. If you only ever listen to my standard RP which is probably very clear to your ears, you might not be able to understand others. Also I really want to encourage you to love the different regional accents and to see their value. Sometimes learners of English will say that they only want RP and they see other accents as somehow being “lower forms of English” with less value. I don’t agree with this of course. The idea that a regional accent makes you sound uneducated or even lazy or something – that idea deserves to stay in the 1950s where it belongs. 

Having said that – let me put my cards on the table and be as clear as possible.

What accent should you develop in English?

The first thing is that you need to be clear. People need to understand you. Work on that.

It’s a good idea to pick a certain accent which you can use as a model. This is the accent/pronunciation you can aim for or try to copy. Why not choose RP? It’s a perfectly good choice as most people will be familiar with it. If you have a particular reason for wanting to copy a regional accent, then go for it. Perhaps you live in the north of England and you want to do things like your neighbours. Or maybe you just love a certain regional accent for personal reasons and you’ve decided that this is the one for you. That’s fine too. Go for it. Try to keep things natural. I could talk about this more but I won’t go on about it too much.

Basically – I love all the accents in English. I really do. But I would probably recommend RP as the one to go for, just because it’s still a standard form. I know someone is thinking “but only about 5% of English speakers use RP” yes – but I can’t think of another accent which is more common. Think of British accents in a pie chart. There isn’t one accent that really dominates that chart, I expect. Each segment in the chart is probably around the same size. So which one do you pick? Again, I think RP is fine and makes sense because it’s a standard. I don’t mean you should speak like a posh person, like The Queen or something, because that would be weird. 

  • Listening for understanding others 
    Listening in order to develop your pronunciation
  • How do I pronounce your name, actually?
  • How do I pronounce the name of the podcast?
  • What sort of episodes can we expect?
  • What are your favourite episodes?
  • You’re on episode 699 of LEP. Do you have anything special planned for episode 700? No, I don’t! I think it will just be another episode this time. I can’t think of anything specific I can do. Maybe I will do a YouTube livestream “Ask Me Anything” kind of thing. I’ll see. I know that if I do a YouTube live stream then you will all want to know about it in advance. This isn’t always possible. You’ll just have to subscribe to my YouTube channel. 
  • What are LEPsters?
  • Where are your listeners? 
    • In many places around the world! All over the world.
  • Why do you talk about ninjas sometimes? What are LEP Ninjas?
  • Can you explain the Russian Joke please? No. 
  • What do you think of Brexit? It’s a bad idea. I think it was an opportunity for a bunch of nutters to take control of my country and push it in a different direction. I think it’s the wrong direction, but now we have to live with it and make it work. I am not a fan of Boris Johnson and his gang. I feel they’re doing a bad job. That’s probably enough politics isn’t it. Oops, nearly slipped on politics there. Watch out everyone, there’s some politics on the floor. Don’t step in it. “Can someone clean that up please?”  (I have made that joke before)
  • Do you have a team of people helping you to do this? No, it’s just me. 
  • Can we see you perform stand-up comedy on stage?
  • Are you married and do you have kids and stuff?
  • What’s your favourite football team?
  • Do you like music? Do you play music? Do you have any songs stuck in your head today?
  • Can you sing songs for us on the podcast sometimes?
    Yes, I do that occasionally, when I feel inspired to do it. I’m not the greatest singer or the greatest guitarist. I’m just learning. But I love it and I feel moved to do it. If I do sing in an episode, most of the time, I do it right at the end of the episode so that people who might not like it don’t feel obliged to listen to it. But the ones who like hearing my versions of other people’s songs (I usually sing cover versions of songs) those people can listen and hopefully enjoy hearing me. I always make an effort to sing clearly so you can hear all the words of the song. I also don’t use any reverb to cover up the imperfections in my voice or guitar playing. I just get the guitar on my lap, point the microphone somewhere between the guitar and my mouth and do my best.
  • Are you on YouTube?

Yes, I have a YouTube channel as you may know. 

I post my audio episodes there, usually with a single static image. I don’t think YouTube is necessarily the best way to listen to my content, but I guess if you are sitting at your computer, perhaps doing something else (like gaming or working or something) then it’s convenient to have one of my episodes running in the background. But also, YouTube’s automatically generated subtitles are usually pretty accurate. When I’m talking on my own, the accuracy is about 95% but when I’m with guests that accuracy can drop to about 85-90% I think. That’s not 100 perfect, but it’s pretty good. 

I’m always working on ways to deliver 100% correct transcripts to you because I know how useful and important they are. To an extent I’m just waiting for the technology to catch up. I think it won’t be long before automatic transcriptions are basically perfect but we’ll see.

I’ve been working with some new software which is quite mind-blowing. I don’t want to make any promises about it because I’m just experimenting with it at the moment, but basically it allows me to generate transcripts for episodes in a really convenient way, then edit those transcripts quite easily while also editing the audio. This is too complicated to get into now.

  • Have you forgotten anything? 

Yes, I am certain that I have forgotten to mention something really important, and someone is going to think “Hey you forgot to mention this specific thing! Or You didn’t mention this specific person!” Sorry about that.

You ramble quite a lot Luke, you sometimes talk too much and repeat yourself a bit. 

Yes, I do. Sue me. To paraphrase Shakespeare: There is a method in my madness.

From Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602. The actual line from the play is ‘Though this be madness yet there is method in it’.

The main message I want to give you here is this: 

  • Listen to my episodes regularly and enjoy doing it.
  • Download my app to get easy access to all the episodes on your phone. (more than in Spotify and anywhere else)
  • Become a premium listener if you want to go further in your learning with me.
  • Don’t be a ninja – come out of the shadows and write a comment from time to time.

That’s it.

Thanks for listening. 

Happy new year.

Take care and be excellent to each other.

Speak to you next time.

Bye bye bye bye bye

698. Paul is on the Podcast / Random Questions with Paul Taylor

Paul Taylor joins me for some random questions and challenges, including various little discussion points, accents, citizenship test questions, idioms, jokes and more.

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Links, Notes, etc

Happy Hour Live with Paul Taylor (with Luke Thompson)

UK Swearing / Road Rage compilation