Category Archives: Advice

762. Meditation & Learning English (with Antony Rotunno)

Discussing meditation, meditation techniques, how it can help in our lives and improve us as language learners. Antony Rotunno is my guest and listen out for stories, advice, tangents and maybe one or two revelations.

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www.teacherluke.co.uk/english

Introduction Transcript / Links / Show Notes

Hello listeners and welcome back to the podcast. 

This episode is called Meditation & Learning English, and as the title suggests, this is about the topic of meditation and how it can help us in our lives in various ways, including with our learning of languages. 

My guest this time is podcaster and English teacher Antony Rotunno. Antony is back on the podcast after being on the podcast a few times last year when we did a series of episodes about John Lennon.

Antony has a few podcasts of his own and you might remember that recently I said that I’d listened to a couple of Antony’s episodes which were all about meditation. 

They were called “The Joys and Wonders of Meditation” 

I listened to them late last year, during quite a stressful period when we were having work done on our new flat, and I really felt like they helped me to find ways to keep my stress under control and get a bit of mental clarity during all of that chaos.

I definitely recommend those episodes to everyone. 

That’s Episodes 4 & 5 of “Life & Life Only”. You will find links on the page for this episode. 

lifeandlifeonly.podbean.com/e/episode-4-the-joys-and-wonders-of-meditation-part-1-of-2/

lifeandlifeonly.podbean.com/e/episode-5-the-joys-and-wonders-of-meditation-part-2-of-2/

While listening to those two episodes I immediately thought I should invite Antony back onto my podcast for an interview, this time about meditation. 

I think there’s a lot of stuff to learn from them, a lot of benefits to gain from it all and some interesting ideas to consider about learning English.

Antony Rotunno

As I said just a moment ago, Antony was on my podcast a few times last year talking about John Lennon and he’s always an insightful, articulate and thoughtful guest so it’s nice to have him back.

Just a reminder – Antony is an English teacher like me, he’s from England, he is a musician and also a podcaster. He has three podcasts in fact. You might want to check them out if you’re looking for more stuff to listen to.

“Life & Life Only” in which he explores themes of self-development, philosophy and the search for inner and outer truth. This is the one with the episodes about meditation.

Glass Onion: On John Lennon” in which Antony goes into fascinating depth about many aspects of John Lennon’s life and related topics.

“Film Gold”, which is basically a chance for Antony to discuss some of his favourite films with different guests. I was a guest in a recent episode of Film Gold in fact. We talked about one of our favourite British comedy films of all time – Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you want to listen to Antony and me chatting about that film, then check out Film Gold episode 15. 

Those are Antony’s podcasts and they are available wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll also find links in the description and on the page for this episode on my website.

There you go, lots of other things for you to listen to there! But you might be thinking “Hold on Luke, I’m already listening to this episode about mediation!” 

Ok, well, when you’ve finished this, if you’re still hungry for more, you could listen to Antony and me talking about Monty Python in episode 15 of Film Gold or Antony’s original meditation episodes from Life & Life Only, or anything else that takes your fancy.

But now let’s get back to this episode that you are listening to right now and the topic of meditation.

Meditation

  • What is it, exactly?
  • How does it work?
  • How do you do it?
  • Is it just the same as relaxation?
  • What can the benefits be?
  • What can Antony tell us about his experiences of finding out about it and doing it, including going on several silent meditation retreats? 
  • What are some simple meditation techniques that you can apply to your daily life?
  • And can meditation help you to be a better learner of English?

Those are the talking points. There are some tangents of course as we end up talking about some other bits and pieces along the way and there are also a few quick meditation exercises, or spot meditations, which you can do while you listen, if you like.

In fact, to give you an idea of what that means – what a spot meditation is – let’s do a very quick spot meditation exercise right now just before the interview starts, to help you focus. 

I’m making this one up myself of course and I’m not a meditation instructor but I’m willing to give it a shot. 

A quick meditation before listening – to help you focus

Just follow my instructions for a moment and it might put you in the right frame of mind to really concentrate on our conversation.

First – consider your body position while you are listening to this.

Just take a moment to be aware of your body and any feelings of tension that you might have.

Are your shoulders tense? Are you sitting upright or are you perhaps slumped in some way? Are you tied up in a knot? Are you standing unevenly on one leg or leaning to one side? Is your jaw clenched? 

Take a moment to find those tensions in your body and release them. Just let them relax.

Take a few deep breaths from your diaphragm and feel the sensation of the air going in and coming out, and your stomach going up and down.

Now focus on my voice. 

Focus on the shape of the words, the different kinds of sounds that are included in each syllable of each word. 

Notice the rhythm of the sentences I’m saying – where the stresses are, where the pauses are, and any times my voice goes up or down. 

Just try to follow it very carefully without letting your mind get distracted by other things.

If you feel your mind wandering off, if you get distracted or if you feel like saying “Come on Luke stop rambling, we don’t want another 15 minute introduction, just get on with it please” or something – if you feel your mind wandering at all, then just guide it back and as you listen to this conversation between Antony and me, keep going with that approach.

So that was just a very brief spot meditation to help you focus your attention a bit.

OK, so now let’s start the episode properly and here we go. 

Meditation and Learning English with Antony Rotunno.

Luke & Antony Discuss Monty Python & The Holy Grail

756. Learn English with LEP in 2022 / A New Year Ramble

In this episode I’m going to wish you a Happy New Year, ramble a little bit about what’s going on in LEPland, restate some of my aims and objectives for this podcast, and give a few comments on how you can use the podcast to improve your English, with reference to some recommended episodes from the archive.

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Episode Notes & Links

Happy New Year everyone! (new listeners, long-term listeners, mid-term listeners and anyone else who happens to be listening)

All the best for 2022. Try to keep up your motivation for learning English throughout the year. I hope I can help. That is my aim.

How was your Christmas/New Year? Did you have a holiday? What did you do?
What’s the situation Luke, as you record this? (summarise the last couple of weeks, and what’s going on around you)

I might not be able to upload episodes regularly for the next few weeks. If LEP goes quiet – I am still here and still working, but not able to record or upload because of all the different disruptions. My life is like a puzzle at the moment and I am putting all the pieces back together.

LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST – AIMS

  • To provide a resource of authentic speech for learners of English.

Episode suggestions
All of them! Especially ones which are unscripted. 

  • To inform my audience about methods and strategies for improving their English.

Episode suggestions
174. How to learn English with Luke’s English Podcast

251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know About LEP

669. How to Learn English

  • To educate my listeners about the English language by explaining or providing examples of grammar.

Episode suggestions
Premium episodes www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo (articles, sentence structure, present perfect tense, narrative tenses, modal verbs about the past, quantifiers and more) but also a lot of episodes in the archive deal with grammar. Here’s a selection.

19. Passive Verb Forms

29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses

44. Telling Anecdotes

53. Discussing Grammar with My Brother

69. Common Errors / Typical Mistakes

176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review (should be premium really!)

263. Past, Present & Future A chance to really understand the tenses in English, with lots of context.

372. The Importance of Anecdotes in English / Narrative Tenses / Four Anecdotes This episode has a bit of everything: useful tips for telling anecdotes, a review of narrative verb tenses, some authentic spoken anecdotes by members of my family and some vocabulary explanations.

406. Grammar (Past Continuous Tense) / UK Media Bias / Brazil Football Tragedy A review of the differences between past continuous tense and past simple tense

518. Grammar Questions (Part 1) Present Perfect Continuous / Future Continuous / Language of Newspaper Headlines – Answering grammar questions from listeners, with details about verb tenses (including present continuous vs present perfect continuous & future continuous vs going to) and the language of newspaper headlines.

518b is in the LEP app – [App-only Episode] 518b Grammar Questions (Part 2) Hope vs Wish / Relative Clauses (an overview) / Prepositions

  • To enrich the vocabulary of my listeners by presenting and teaching natural English usage in context.

Suggested episodes
Check the archive here
teacherluke.co.uk/archive-of-episodes-1-149/ and try doing a command+F search for vocabulary, or search for the word vocabulary in the app.

  • To entertain my audience by producing fun and interesting content specifically targeted at learners of English as a second language.

  • To highlight particular aspects of English (language) culture including themes about Britishness, accounts of key moments in history, politics and the arts, with a particular focus on comedy and film.

Suggested episodes
Search the archive for the words British and comedy
The Rick Thompson Report, Film Club, British Comedy, Luke’s D-Day Diary, and more…

  • To raise awareness of many features of British English pronunciation and provide practice of repeating certain phrases or constructions.

Suggested episodes
All premium episode series have dedicated pronunciation episodes. Also, these ones:

224. Pronunciation: Verb Tenses & Connected Speech Learn how native speakers really pronounce sentences in different tenses.

485 & 486. Difficult Words to Pronounce in English (with Paul Taylor) (Parts 1 & 2) + video This is a double episode with two audio episodes on one page, and it’s all about difficult pronunciation in English. 

682. Key Features of English Accents, Explained – Exploring the main differences between standard English pronunciation (RP) and non-standard regional or colloquial accents. 

And various episodes about accents…

  • To keep my audience engaged in the listening process long term, by providing a resource to help them laugh while they learn.

  • To make people laugh out loud on public transport while listening to the podcast!

  • To dominate the world with an army of LEP ninjas equipped with biscuits and good English. …Ok, one of my listeners asked me to add this as an aim for my podcast, ha ha! (Thanks Chriss Benitez)

Those episodes can be found in the LEP app or via the episode archive. Most good podcasting apps will have the entire archive, but I think iTunes or Apple Podcasts doesn’t show all episodes. YouTube doesn’t show all episodes either. Only some of my episodes are on YT. I’d like them all to be there (just the audio) eventually.

HOW TO USE LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH

People from all over the world use my podcasts to improve their English, and lots of people email me to tell me how much they love the podcast and find it useful. Some of you might be wondering how you can improve your English by using the podcast. I’ll tell you more about this in a moment, but let me first recommend a couple of podcast episodes you could listen to.

Click here to listen to an episode with lots of advice and suggestions for improving your English with L.E.P. It has a transcript too. (Episode 174)

Click here for an episode called “16 things you should know about LEP”. (Episode 251)

Many people tell me they are completely addicted to the show. Usually they say that they found the podcast via one episode in particular and then start listening to all the others before becoming completely hooked. I have quite a hard-core following. The podcast won the Macmillan Dictionary Award four times and was nominated for a British Council ELTon award, so I must be doing something right!

L.E.P combines English teaching with plenty of entertaining conversation, humour and genuine insight into the culture of the English language. My methodology and approach are based on the idea that language is acquired by engaging with it in authentic form, over longer periods of time. Although this is not the only way to improve your English, listening to natural authentic speech over quite long periods of time can greatly improve your listening skills, pronunciation and vocabulary. This goes on to improve your spoken English, and your general instinct for grammar. I try to balance this approach by regularly recording episodes in which I directly teach you vocabulary, pronunciation or grammar.

Good grammatical awareness is based on instinct as much as on active knowledge of the rules of English. When you take an English exam you have to answer questions that test your knowledge and use of grammar or vocabulary. For example, consider this question:
FILL THE GAP IN THE SENTENCE WITH THE APPROPRIATE WORD
“I just can’t rely __ this car any more. It keeps breaking down. I need a new one.”

1. with          2. from        3. on          4. to

The answer is ‘3. on’, of course.
How did you know the answer? Really think about it. How did you know that ‘on’ was right? Do you remember learning ‘rely on’ in a book, or in a class? Maybe you did. But, for many of you, the answer just felt correct. Your instinct just said ‘on’. Well, this instinct is what you develop when you read or listen to the language a lot. Your brain builds up a kind of memory bank of all the words you have seen and heard. So, when you see ‘rely ___’ you automatically feel that ‘on’ is the right answer. Why? Because you’ve seen/heard ‘rely on’ lots of times!

The point is, that listening to English a lot can really help you to get a ‘feel’ for the language. You learn grammar rules by the frequency in which you hear patterns. You learn about good pronunciation by hearing the language a lot. You develop an ‘ear’ for English.

It’s just like when you live in a foreign country to learn English. It’s the best way to learn a language. Just live in that country and get completely surrounded by the language every day. Eventually you pick it up and learn it well. That’s because you’re hearing it so much and you’re getting used the rhythm and intonation. Every language has a beat. You can learn the beat of English by hearing it a lot.

So, you can use Luke’s English Podcast to do this. It’s like living in another country. You can listen a lot, pick up bits of vocabulary, get a ‘feel’ for the language, understand pronunciation and all kinds of cultural stuff. Not only that, but many listeners tell me the best thing about the podcast is simply that it makes them laugh out loud.

So, enjoy the podcasts and good luck with your English.

CLICK HERE FOR ThE ARCHIVE OF ALL THE EPISODES OF LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST.

745. Mental Factors in Learning English (with Ray Addam) [English with Ray SwapCast]

Talking to English teacher Ray Addam from Glasgow in Scotland about mental factors in learning English, such as anxiety, confidence, stress and motivation. Video version available on YouTube.

Audio Version (with extra ramble + song)

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Video Version

Introduction Transcript

Hello dear listeners,

This is a swapcast between LEP and English with Ray, which means we are both uploading this to our podcasts/youtube channels.

Ray is an English teacher from Glasgow in Scotland (and you’ll be able to notice his accent, which is not the strongest Glaswegian accent I’ve ever heard but it’s definitely noticeable – which is great, because I love Scottish accents). Ray has recently started making videos on YouTube for learners of English. 

One of his students – Ivan (from Russia I think) who is also a LEPster, suggested to Ray that he start doing that and that he also contact me for an interview, so that’s what you’re going to listen to or watch here. This is Ray Addam interviewing me for his channel.

This is a fairly relaxed and free-ranging conversation, and after chatting a bit about playing music and performing in front of people, we ended up talking about the psychology of learning English, particularly how to manage anxiety or nerves when using English in stressful situations, and then our comments about how to work on your confidence and how to have the right mental approach to learning a language, which is one of the most important steps to take.

So listen on for some comments and tips about how to manage your stress levels in English, how to become more confident in English and how to take control of your communication skills in general.

Thanks to Ray for sending this recording to me. You might want to check out his channel on YouTube, which is called English with Ray. He only has a few videos there at the moment, but everyone’s got to start somewhere. I’ve noticed that Ray also speaks fluent Arabic so any Arabic speaking LEPsters might be particularly interested in Ray’s content as he might have some insights into differences between Arabic and English. I haven’t actually asked him about that yet, but maybe it’s something he could work on in a future video.

Anyway, that’s it for this introduction and I will now let you listen to this conversation with Ray Addam, firstly about playing music in front of audiences of people, and then about the challenges of managing your confidence when using English in stressful situations. I will probably speak to you again briefly at the end of this chat, but for now, let’s get started.

Links for Ray

Take online English lessons with Ray Addam on Preply preply.com/en/tutor/447455/

English with Ray on YouTube www.youtube.com/c/EnglishWithRay/featured

Song (audio version only) – “Questionnaire” by The Rutles genius.com/The-rutles-questionnaire-lyrics

743. Give me Tea, Please – Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language (with Natasha V Broodie) + ramble / song

Talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English understand the subtle codes of polite language when making requests and giving information in professional and personal contexts. In the conversation we explore the topic and consider some tips for making your language more culturally appropriate.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

In this episode I am talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English to find the right tone in their speaking and writing. Tone is something which is very much affected by culture and often relates to things like being direct, indirect, formal, informal, the use of modal verbs and phrasal verbs and so on. In English the general tone is often quite friendly, indirect and polite, and this can sometimes cause problems for English speakers coming from different places where codes of politeness or professionalism are different.

Natasha has worked as an English teacher and has also worked in international contexts for the UN and so she has direct experience of observing people communicating in English and not quite getting the tone right.

So in her book, “Give me tea, please. Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language” she lays out a sort of style guide with theory, practical tips and a glossary of defined vocabulary at the back.

It sounds like an interesting book which could be a worthwhile read for my listeners, so I thought it would be good to chat with Natasha a little bit and explore some of the ideas presented in her book.

“Give me tea, please” is currently available on Amazon but from 24 September should be available from all other providers too.

Right, so now you know what sort of thing we’re going to be talking about, let’s meet Natasha Broodie and find out some of those practical tips for tasteful language.


Give Me Tea, Please on Amazon


Ending

So that was Natasha V Broodie, talking about her book Give me tea, please – available from all good bookstores. Go ahead and pick up a copy and if you like it, leave a review on Amazon.

Thanks again to Natasha for her contribution in this episode.

A Short Ramble

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Design comp – link here for details teacherluke.co.uk/2021/09/22/742-new-lep-t-shirts-merch-lep-design-competition-2021-with-james/
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Sneezing caused me to take a trip to tangent town…

Song – “Trouble” by Coldplay

tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/coldplay/trouble-chords-16491

737. A Summer Ramble 2 (Late August 2021)

I’m back in the podcast-zone after my holiday so I thought I would do another rambling episode before getting down to work on other content to be released soon. Video version also available.

Audio Version

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Video Version


Transcript / Notes for this episode

Hello and welcome back to the podcast! 

This is episode 735 and it is a rambling episode, which means it’s just me talking to you about various things – including: whatever comes into my head while I’m recording, but specifically this time I’m aiming to talk about 

  • Being back from holiday and getting back into the podcast zone
  • Comments about my audio listeners and my video viewers on YouTube
  • News about moving flat and moving to my new pod room (You can see that the move hasn’t started yet and so the podcast has not been disrupted yet)
  • Some common questions from the YouTube comment section (new listeners)
  • Charlie Watts – the drummer from the Rolling Stones who passed away yesterday
  • A couple of comments from the comment section including one very motivational email I got from a long-term listener
  • Whatever else occurs to me as we record this!

As well as being available as a normal episode of the audio podcast, this is also available on YouTube with some text on the screen – the notes and scripts that I’m reading from, so you can read along with me and spot certain phrases and spelling and so on. 

By the way – you can always pause this and check the screen if you feel you didn’t understand something or you found a new word or phrase. 

I’m reading from a script / notes

In this episode I’m reading from a script which I wrote last night. I don’t normally read from a pre-written script when I do these rambles, but this time is different.

I wrote most of this script last night, when it wasn’t really the right time to do a podcast recording, but I still consider this to be a rambling episode because I just rambled with my fingers last night and now I’m just reading out the text-ramble that I created, so it still counts as rambling as far as I’m concerned, and I of course I can deviate from the script/notes whenever I want.

So stick with me and I hope you enjoy listening to my words as they flow out like endless rain into a paper cup – a cup which you can take and drink from, metaphorically of course. 

Drink my English – that’s what I’m saying. I hope you know what I mean!

In the podcast zone (this is what I wrote last night)

I’m sitting here in front of the computer. My wife is lying across the sofa watching a French TV show on her phone and she’s under a nice sheepskin blanket that we have so she is feeling very cosy. I’ve just made her a cup of mint tea and I’ve tucked her feet into a blanket because I’m such a great guy and a really wonderful husband. 

The child is in bed asleep, and despite the madness that is going in on the world outside, this is a little moment of peace and quiet. 

Now I’m sitting with my computer on my lap, but I’m pretty much in the podcast zone right now – meaning, that I’m thinking of ideas for the podcast, considering what I’ve been doing and what I should do next. I know I should be able to record tomorrow as the little one is going to her French grandparents for a few days and my wife has work to do, so tomorrow is podcast day.

But I’m in the podcast zone now because I’m thinking about podcast ideas and things to record tomorrow. I’m just writing down my thoughts on my computer as they come into my head. I’m trying to write down every thing I’m thinking in order to make sure this is actually a rambling episode. I’m rambling everything down in text form here and I’m trying to make it sound like I am actually speaking normally and not reading from a text. 

What I’ll have to do tomorrow is record this but make it sound like I’m just saying it all off the top of my head. 

Also I might just go off on a tangent at any point and deviate from the script, if something occurs to me. 

In fact, what I’m going to do is, the word-for-word script for this is going to stop soon and I’m going to just write down some basic notes and then expand on them as I talk into the microphone tomorrow (which is actually today – so, tomorrow is now, so, are we in the past, the present or the future? I think I might have just invented time travel. These words are from yesterday, but I’m reading them now and you’re going to listen to them in the future – let’s just say that in podcastland, time is a sort of flexible thing a bit like a jelly or something. 

Yep, in LEPland, time is jelly – which might explain why my episodes are quite long sometimes.

In any case, I would like to record this episode tomorrow as a kind of welcome back before embarking on things like premium content and other episodes I’ve been planning.

I do have other episodes I’d like to do and tbh while I was away on holiday over the last 3 weeks or so I was itching to get back to podcasting. 

I had lots of ideas popping into my head which I couldn’t quite hold onto and as I didn’t get the chance to write them down, they’ve all disappeared into the ether – little ideas, comments, stories that occurred to me at various moments, like when I’m in the shower but which I almost instantly forgot – so I was quite keen to do some recording again after being away just to satisfy the compulsive podcasting side of me. 

The holiday was fantastic and one of the best ones we have had for ages. I’ll tell you about it a bit later in this episode.

Those other episodes I could be doing right now:

P31 parts 4,5,6 

Learn English from my mum as we look at phrases which came up in our conversation in episode 717 – learn them properly with loads of examples and the chance to do plenty of listen and repeat pronunciation work with me so you don’t just learn new language, but learn how to produce it too.

War of the Worlds part 4 (conclusion?)

88 English expressions that will confuse everyone! (remember that? I never finished it)

More stories like The Mountain

Reading from more texts or books

An episode with The Thompsons which I recorded when I was in England

Some invitations to other podcasters/English teachers who have interviewed me recently

Top 10 Jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe 2021

And I have a big list of other ideas which I am slowly working my way through.

But I think before I do those ones and perhaps some others, I’d like to just do this rambling episode with you. 

These rambling episodes are where I just talk to you directly and move from topic to topic almost making it all up as I go along.

So just keep up with me, follow along and let the words flow through you like the force in Star Wars. 

Feel the English, let it flow through you. 

Be the English. 

Imagine blue lazers and Star Wars / The Matrix type stuff. 

Be one with the living English and listen with me as I chat to you about various things.

Audio listeners / Video Viewers (LEP is an audio podcast, with some videos on YouTube)

Most people listening to this – the vast majority listening to my words right now are listening to my podcast on their phone probably with headphones on, using a podcasting app of some sort, probably the native Apple Podcasts app on the iPhone or something like Spotify or another podcasting app, or perhaps you are listening on the LEP App. 

Most people listen to the audio version of this – and I’m saying this now because I’m also recording a video version of this on YouTube and I feel like YouTube is a pretty different audience. 

All the other platforms (ways to listen to the audio podcast) are united in one sort of group – the audio LEPsters and they’re more ninja-ish but they’re perhaps a bit more solid, reliable, dependable and loyal. 

I don’t mean to have a pop at (criticise) the video LEPsters on YouTube, but they seem to be a slightly different type of LEPster. I feel like YouTube LEPsters are less ninja-ish because there are many more comments.

Also, YouTube LEPsters (hello) seem to be less aware of the back catalogue of episodes, and I get a lot of people who have never heard the podcast ever before. (shocking, I know) 

But YouTube has enormous potential to go viral. In fact, in a way it’s like swimming in the deep ocean and you could catch a current and get into the very deep water. 

I mean, most episodes on YouTube get less attention than the audio versions, but then some videos go viral as they get picked up by the algorithm which is responding to the way people interact with your video and I guess that the algorithm sort of picks up on videos which are popular and promote them, as a way to always present the best content on the platform. 

So a couple of my recent videos went a bit viral (not a lot but a bit), which was nice.

So – YouTube LEPsters – here, let me just have a word for a moment. 

Really, this is an audio podcast that also has a youtube channel and recently I’ve been uploading more to it, but really this is still, mainly, an audio show and I have a big archive of audio episodes on my website and in my app. 

Not all the episode are available on YouTube and they’re not all on Apple Podcasts, but they’re all there on my website, with episode pages for each and every single one of them and audio download links. 

Go to my website teacherluke.co.uk (I know it looks like it was made in 2012) and then click EPISODES in the menu, and also in the LEP App you can get every single episode.

Most people listen to my podcast using an app on their phone and they listen when they are probably doing something else, like walking around, driving (please be careful), doing housework, doing exercise or simply breathing. 

So listening to the audio version on your phone seems to be the normal way to do it.

If you listen using a podcast app on your phone, and you need to stop listening for whatever reason, the app will remember where you stopped listening and you can then carry on from that point later. So, you don’t have to listen to an episode in one single go.

The majority of my audience listen to the audio version of this and I’ve been doing the audio podcast for over 12 years now, and I have a big back catalogue of episodes and I have talked about lots of different things over the years including some things that I’m sure you’d like to hear, so check out the episode archive for the older episodes.

LEP App

My app disappeared from the Apple App store for a couple of days (I had a payment issue with Apple) and when it came back all the ratings and reviews had gone (3 years’ worth), which was annoying. Can you do me a favour (no obligation of course) and give the app a rating and a review (if you use it)? 

How was your holiday?

It was great. No need to go into full detail like I have in the past, but basically we got lucky with the weather and had a really lovely time.

What about moving to your new flat and moving to a new pod-room?

Building work is being done in the new flat. I think the downstairs neighbours will want to murder us. 

I probably won’t get the keys to the new pod-room until mid September, and then I’ll move in there. I’ll need to get electricity and internet connected there, and to fit a desk and some shelves, and then it’ll be the official new pod-room.

Common Questions since going viral on YT

I am going to try to answer these questions as quickly and succinctly as possible without rambling at all in fact. So in this rambling episode, here is a section with no rambling. 

I hope that’s clear.

So, this is a rambling episode, with a bit where there’s no rambling.

Anyway – no rambling here, let’s just get straight to the point and keep it simple.

Common Questions from YouTube

Where are you from?

Can you do an episode about ______?

Check the episode archive on my website. There’s a chance I’ve already talked about that.

Go to the archive and do a ctrl+F search for the keywords you’re interested in.

How can I learn English by listening to your podcast?

This can really help you a lot, but it’s not the only thing you should do. 

It’s also important to read a lot (find texts which are not too tricky, use fairly modern English and which you actually want to read) study a bit (use grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation teaching materials of any kind and work with them – it’s not the only thing, but it helps) do lots of speaking if you can (ideally find someone to have meaningful conversations with, perhaps a teacher or language partner who can give you some little corrections and encouragement) and write on a regular basis too (practise writing different types of text or just write a diary every day in which you express your thoughts in English – you’ve got to express yourself in English regularly in order to find your voice).

Learning English is about learning how to do something, not just learning how to understand something, and we generally get better at things by trying to do them again and again. 

So listen and read a lot and try to speak and write a lot too. That’s quite general advice but there it is.

For more specific advice on how to use the podcast to improve your English, you could listen to these episodes

174, 568.

Should I listen to the episodes on order?

It’s up to you really. You can just listen to all the new ones as they come out, but if you really want to learn from me properly then I would suggest listening from episode 1. 

Certainly if you are a lower level learner, the first 50-ish episodes are probably a bit easier to understand and have more specific language-teaching objectives, so it would be good to start with them. 

But equally, if you just find my episodes fun and interesting you can listen to them in any order you like. Be aware though: multi-part episodes should be heard in order, and there might be little private jokes and references from earlier episodes which you might not understand (like the dreaded Russian Joke).

Can you do more story episodes?

Yes, I’m planning to do more stories.

Can you do episodes about grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation?

Consider signing up to LEP Premium for loads of episodes like that.

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo   

Can you feature ___(insert name here)___ again? (Check previous episodes)

Check the archive – a lot of my guests have been on the podcast before, especially favourites like Amber & Paul and my family. Check the archive.

Can you do video episodes every time?

Not every time, but I’ll try to do them as often as possible.

Is there a transcript for this episode?

teacherluke.co.uk

Transcripts

Episodes with transcripts

Episode archive and check

Transcript collaboration

YouTube channel – automatic subtitles

Live without subtitles – Learn to hear the spoken version of English without the aid of the written version (Although subtitles and scripts can also be a great resource, and so you should do a bit of both).

Recent appearances on other people’s podcasts

So in the last episode I mentioned:

The Level Up English Podcast

Stories of Language Learners Podcast

Since then I was also on:

English Small World Podcast (by Apex Language Consulting & Training in Taiwan) (2 episodes) apexenglishpodcast.podbean.com

The Clark and Miller English Podcast 

Charlie Watts

The Rolling Stones seem to be missing a drummer and a bass player. I hear Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are available. Imagine if they formed a Beatles/Stones supergroup at the very end of their careers?

But of course nobody could replace the people who are gone like Charlie Watts and Lennon and Harrison, but still it would be fun for the five remaining guys to get together and perform. 

Actually I think they’d be an amazing band but there would be ego struggles between Jagger and McCartney for stage limelight. 

Paul and Keef are great mates I believe and they used to meet up together when they both stayed in the Caribbean 

and probably have a few cups of tea and have a laugh and tell stories of the old days. 

So they’re pretty tight, and Ringo is friendly with everyone and still drumming. 

The Rolling Beatles

Message from Lio in Brazil

Remember the WISBOLEP competition? That was awesome.

From Lio from Brasil who didn’t make it to the last 16.

Lio appears at about 2:24:00 in the Wisbolep 1 video.

The point is – there were so many people who sent really great recordings and who didn’t get through to the last 16. 

I want to share this because it is a very real example of someone who has connected the learning of English to their personal life in a very human way – which means, making mistakes, acknowledging motivational issues and finally coming to terms with the fact they have to take responsibility for learning and the end result is great. 

This is an excellently written email that obviously just came out of Lio without him planning it and rewriting it. He has done really well with his English, as have so many other LEPsters. This is what he wrote.

Lio from Brasil

I had so much fun during this competition, even though I didn’t pass the first round.

Let me tell you something, I’ve been meaning to write it for a long time..:)

You know, I need to be frank, I was sooo happy and keen to participate that, when I recorded my pitch, I wasn’t thinking about “what” I should have said, but only about “how” to say it, (very slowly and clearly). 

My thought was: “I want everyone to understand me”, because I guess that there are different types of lepsters, people who just started and people who have been listening for years…

So I decided to speak that way..,I guess the result was that I made myself sound like a robot 😶

I don’t want to be too hard on myself but knowing that there is always room for progress, helps me on the journey, it tells me that I could be working even harder on my English, while at the same time having fun.

I love this language and when I was younger, it was so frustrating and tiring. You know the vibe because you’re learning French and you need it in one way or another.

As a non native speaker I knew as a child that I HAD to learn English, sooner or later.

It was only 9 years ago that I started to want to learn it…and did I start then? Of course not!!! naaa, too easy!! Let’s just procrastinate for other 5 or 6 years 😜

And so, as the story goes, in 2016 (November, I swear 😂) I started googling “learn English” online, Youtube and other websites…but I wasn’t satisfied, I was looking for something that wasn’t boring or “slow-paced”. 

I desired something interesting and alive, that could help me defeat my tendency to quit learning the language. 

Why? Because English represented this scary monster in my head and I had more worries than solutions at the time. So I felt the need to challenge myself and, as a beginner your podcast seemed quite advanced and not doable, I thought I couldn’t possibly succeed in understanding everything that was being said, episode after episode.

And then, at a certain point, I don’t know when or how, it just “clicked”…I think around episode 60 or 70…I suddenly realized I was understanding everything on the podcast. 

At that point, after years of procrastination, failures and half attempts at learning the language, I felt like: “that’s it! I got it! Finally!” 

Now, let me just tell you that I was aware of how much work I still needed (and need now)..but believe me…I cracked the code, I finally unlocked this thing, I got this! That’s how I felt…

But I need to add that, although I had finally found the resource I was looking for, I wasn’t disciplined enough for self studying and I already knew very good books (Raymond Murphy’s and collegues), but as you said so many times that I couldn’t possibly remember, you need to take responsibility for the learning process.

I really liked episode 686, you and Christian from Canguro English said a very important thing.

Sometimes people think that when one wants to learn a language, he/she simply needs to take lessons from a teacher saying: “Ok, I’m here, just fill me up with English”, so to speak..but if that was the case, how much easier things would be?

There is that film with Keanu Reeves, what was its name? Oh Yeah “Johnny Mnemonic” (1995) in which they put data inside his brain and he has to carry it, as a courier I believe. 

Anyway the point is, it doesn’t work like that, us, learners, we are the ones that need to do the hard work, guided by our teachers, in the lepsters case, by you of course, 😁you’re the one who unlocks all of this.

I followed a lot of advice you gave and let me tell you… thank you, it worked wonders!

So yeah, 80% of what I know comes from here! LEP!

But there is also something I love doing as much as possible, and that’s creating my own learning bubble where I’m immersed in the language, as much as possible. Your podcast is a great way to do that ! You definitely revolutionized my English comprehension, aquisition and assimilation and I’m so thankful for that! Not only the language, but your culture too!

I remember episode 100 of Lep: “Going to the pub”, (wow, so many years ago), that’s how it felt in this journey, sitting in a pub with a friend, chatting about so many things, that was the classroom. And episode 99:” The Rotary Sushi Bar of English”, where you pick up all the different portions of English.

Let’s wrap this up, shall we? :)

Thank you for all of this! I had and I’m having so much fun with Lep and knowing that so many people are part of this community is a strong reminder that in the end we’re all from Lepland, we all share this passion for the language and, as our teacher said many times, it’s all about connection, not perfection! 

P.S. Let me do it at least once …I’m certainly rushing to get to next episode…hehe ;)

Until then…bye bye byee bye bye

All the best,

Lio

HAMAD – STOP LISTENING TO LEP IN THE BATHROOM!

Hi Luke,

Hope you are doing great in these Covid-19 times.

One of your very dedicated listeners is Hamad, my husband, who annoyingly keeps listening to your podcasts in the bathroom, while showering, even when he is changing his clothes!

He keeps waking me up from my sleep during his morning “rituals”, or anytime he goes to the bathroom to do ANYTHING.

Please let him know i sent you this message, and tell him to PLEASE stop listening to your podcasts in the BATHROOM.

Sincerely, a concerned yet disturbed wife, Aysha

Thank you.

Sent from my iPhone

That’s all folks!!!

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.

Audio Version

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Video Version

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

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.

711. William from France 🇫🇷 (WISBOLEP Runner-UP)

William started learning English at 12 years old and continued at university and beyond, spending a couple of years in England as a teaching assistant and then returning to France to work as a school teacher, in some pretty tough classrooms and less-than-perfect teaching conditions. William talks about how he continues to maintain his English, the importance of finding good language exchange partners, and more.

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Notes for the Introduction and Ending Monologues (not a 100% complete transcript)

Hello listeners, I hope you’re doing well. In this episode you’re going to listen to a conversation with another LEPster picked by other LEPsters for an appearance on this podcast. This time it’s the turn of William from France who came joint 3rd in the competition – it was a tie between William and Robin from Hamburg, and Robin will be on the podcast soon as well.

Right so this episode is the latest in the WISBOLEP series and WISBOLEP means Why I Should Be On Luke’s English Podcast and it was a competition I launched last year in which listeners sent in short recordings to persuade members of the audience to vote for them to be chosen for an interview on my podcast. So far I have spoken to the winner – Walaa from Syria and the 2nd place contender Tasha from China. Let’s now return to Europe and talk to William who lives in France. Shout out to all the French LEPsters. Salut les francais, et les francophone, ca va? 

I think these WISBOLEP interviews are really interesting and there is a lot to gain from listening to them.

Sure, there will be some people who will decide that they just can’t listen to another learner of English and only native speakers of English are worth listening to. I can understand that to an extent, but I do think that completely dismissing non-native speakers of English like that is a mistake. 

Learning English is a complex and personal process and I think there is a great deal to be gained from listening to other learners describe their experiences and methods of learning English. This can give you inspiration in terms of specific things you can do to improve your learning, and generally it can give you a lot of perspective about what it really means to be a learner of English or a speaker of English as a second language, what proficiency really is, what fluency really means, how important perfection is compared to having the initiative to just go out there and start using English. Also it can give you a sense of camaraderie with other fellow learners, and it’s very healthy to know that you are part of a community of similar language learners around the world, all of whom are trying to work on their English level in various ways. Some people are better than others, but everyone is going through a similar process.

We are all learners of English in a way, including me, and it’s wrong to think that learning English has a specific end point or conclusion to it. It’s a never ending process and there are always things to learn and ways to improve in terms of how we use this tool to communicate with people more effectively.

Perfection is not necessarily the thing to expect from yourself or others. It’s a high ideal to strive towards but if you only accept perfect English, then prepare to be disappointed, both by yourself and by others. Setting perfection as your ultimate goal is quite unrealistic and doesn’t really reflect the nature of English as a pragmatic language. When you’re using English in the real world, it’s not necessarily about having flawless English but about the results that you achieve with your English. It’s “connection not perfection” as the girls from AEE always say. 

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be ambitious or that you shouldn’t try to do your very best in English. It’s important to try to be better at English of course. But little mistakes are inevitable, holes in your knowledge of English are inevitable and you should not let these things stop you on your journey with this language. We have to try to accept that we will make mistakes and we have to learn from them. You have to be philosophical about it. 

Another idea that strikes me as I listen to these WISBOLEP episodes is that curiosity and a willingness to take a few risks are really important. It seems to help your progress in English if you are willing to go out of your comfort zone a bit and throw yourself into situations that will ultimately help your English to develop. Be curious all the time and keep moving forwards in your quest to know more, learn more and get more control over the language, even if you never really get to the end – in fact there isn’t really an end point. Be patient and don’t let little obstacles get in your way.

I could bang on about this kind of stuff all day, but I will conclude by saying that it’s up to you to find your own motivation to keep going with English. There is no “one perfect way”. Everyone has to find their own path, and I think it’s a long-term thing. At the very least, certainly for the next hour or so I hope you simply enjoy listening to William and me talking about his experiences, with an open mind and a sense of curiosity, and don’t underestimate the value of listening to fellow learners of English. 

I would say, try not to compare yourself to others too much, and equally, don’t judge others too harshly. Just try to take inspiration from other people’s stories and examples.

This brings us to William from France, and in fact this conversation demonstrates a lot of those ideas that I just mentioned. 

Just a little bit of background info on William before we start, just to give you a sense of the context from which he learned English.

William is from a town just outside Paris, called Combs de Ville. His parents are from the French West Indies and more specifically from an island called Guadeloupe, which is a French overseas department and region of France in the Caribbean. So his parents were from there originally and they moved to France in their twenties. William was born in France. He grew up learning French as his first language, but his parents did still speak Creole (the local language from Guadeloupe – but no English. In his own words “Creole and French were the main languages used at home but my parents didn’t want me to use Creole. We were in France so French was the only language I was allowed to use. So it was a bit strange to be able to understand a language without being able to use it.” 

As you’ll hear, English didn’t come into William’s life until he started learning it at school like everyone else in France at the time, at about the age of 12. But he took to it and liked it. I wonder if having several languages in the household growing up had anything to do with that. It’s possible. But in any case, William didn’t get a head start on his peers in terms of English.

I’m not going to explain in advance all the main points in our conversation. Instead, I will let you discover it as you go. What I will say is that I really enjoyed this chat, and you will find that it gets more focused, more specific and more insightful as it goes on. 

That’s it from me now. I will speak to you again on the other side of this conversation with a few reflections and thoughts, but now, let’s hear from William from France, who came joint 3rd in the WISBOLEP competition.

Oh one other thing, before I forget. William wanted me to add something at the start of this episode – and that is to say a big thank you to all the people who voted for him in the competition, giving him the chance to be featured in an episode of the podcast. So, thanks from William.

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Ending

So that was William from France. I really enjoyed talking to him. He’s a lovely guy and here are some of the things I took away from this. Here are some thoughts and reflections.

  • English is a journey not a destination.
  • There’s no end point in terms of learning English. It’s like being a musician or a sports player. There’s always training to be done and room to improve in terms of technique, general fitness and fluency and so on. You have to practise all the time and there are always ways in which you can gain more control and more efficiency in how you use English to express ideas. This is true for native speakers of the language as well, including me. I see myself as a work in progress too, in terms of how effective I am as a speaker or writer of English.
  • Finding language partners for language exchanges can be a great way to get regular practice into your life, but you have to find the right person, and this can take a long time, but don’t let that stop you – keep searching, keep talking to different people until you find someone who is right for you. This could be true of one to one teachers as well. Sometimes you need to shop around a bit. Remember, like William you can find language exchange partners, conversation partners and English teachers on italki. Italki is both a sort of marketplace for online teachers, but also a social network which you can use to find other language learners, and that could include fluent English speakers who want to learn your language, and like William you could just informally set up conversations with these people and spend some time speaking English and some time speaking in your language, and if you get the right person that can be an invaluable source of practice for you. To sign up for italki you can still use my link, which is www.teacherluke.co.uk/talk and if you access italki that way and then buy some lessons with a teacher, italki will send you a discount voucher worth 10 dollars which you can use next time.
  • BUt the point there is → be patient, be dedicated, keep searching, don’t give up and you could find someone who you can practise your English with on a regular basis in a mutually beneficial way. It could be a way to make new friends as well.
  • Finally – stay curious, about English – especially in terms of learning about how the language works in order to work on your grammar in a sort of organic way – just trying to work out how the language works, referring to grammar books (a tip could be Practical English Usage by Michael Swan – a good reference book for English grammar and usage) and also stay curious about other people, because this is really important in developing good communication skills. It’s not just about how well you can speak and express yourself, it’s about how well you interact with other people and listening to others is a big part of that. So, be curious about the language, but just be curious about people you meet and be interested in other people when you talk to them and you’ll find that your communication skills will thrive as a result of that. I feel that that’s something William does – he is interested in other people and that’s a strength of his. It’s one reason why he communicates well. 

OK, just some thoughts that occurred to me at the end of this episode here.

Feel free to share your thoughts too in the comment section.

I would also like to say that talking to William gave me a little boost. He said some nice and sincere things about this podcast, about how it has helped him and how I might be helping other people and I appreciated it. So good luck to you William and all the listeners who are still listening all the way up to this point in the episode. 

That’s it from me,

I will speak to you in the next episode. Again – a reminder that I am also working on Premium series 29 – What did Rick Say? And so premium subscribers – look out for new episodes in that series arriving very soon. teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo for more details and to sign up.

Have a lovely day, morning, evening, night! Stay safe! Stay positive! Stay curious!

Speak to you soon.

Bye bye bye bye bye.

Song: Don’t Let Me Down by The Beatles

Lyrics here www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/dontletmedown.html

Podcast Image: Cork Map by “Miss Woods” in Barcelona misswood.eu/fr/collections/mapas-de-corcho

P.S. I think I found my meme 👇

703. Walaa from Syria – WISBOLEP Competition Winner 🏆

Walaa Mouma from Syria has an amazing and inspiring story for all learners of English around the world, and some specific tips on how to improve your English long-term. Listen to this episode to hear all about it. Transcript and text video available.

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Let us know your thoughts in the comment section!