Category Archives: American & British English

881. The first non-native speaker to read the UK TV news (with Barbara Serra)

Barbara Serra is an award-winning Italian journalist who has spent much of her career reading the news in the UK on various high-profile well-established English language news networks including the BBC, Channel 5, Al Jazeera English and Sky News. Barbara has quite a specific relationship with the English language. We talk about learning English, challenges in her career, and the relationship between accent and identity.

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Intro Transcript

Hello listeners, today on the podcast I am talking to Barbara Serra, the Italian journalist who reads the news on television in the UK. She’s a very interesting guest and has lots of interesting things to say about the way her identity and career have been shaped by her relationship to the English language. 

We’re going to talk about reading the news in the UK when you sound like a foreigner, lots of questions around identity and accent, and all sorts of other things that Barbara has experienced in her time as a broadcast journalist. I think you will find it very interesting as a learner of English looking to improve your English as much as possible in different contexts, both personal and professional. 

LEPster meet-up in Da Nang Vietnam

Gordon’s Pizza (in An Thuong area) on Friday 17th May from 9pm.

Send Zdenek an email if you’re interested – teacherzdenek@gmail.com

Barbara Serra is an award-winning Italian journalist who has spent much of her career reading the news in the UK on various high-profile well-established English language news networks including the BBC, Channel 5, Al Jazeera English and Sky News. 

Barbara has quite a specific relationship with English. It’s her dominant language but not her native language. She has a certain accent, which does place her outside the UK somehow. So how has this affected her career as a news reader and reporter? 

Broadcast journalism is associated with a certain model of spoken English – in the UK that would be what is often called BBC English, and traditionally the role of newsreader has been synonymous with that kind of high-level, high-status form of spoken English. 

So what has Barbara’s experience been? 

What is the story of her English? 

How did she get the point where she was ready to do this job? What kind of challenges has she faced while reading the news in the UK? 

And what does this all tell us about learning English, what it means to improve your accent, the relationship between accent and identity, the definition of “native” and “non-native speaker”, the status of different English accents in the English speaking world?

Let’s get into it.


LINKS

👉 Barbara’s email newsletter “News with a foreign accent” https://barbaraserra.substack.com/

👉 Barbara’s website with course info https://www.barbaraserra.info/

Luke on a couple of other shows recently

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879. Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques for Spontaneous Speaking ️with Matt Abrahams

Top tips for spontaneous speaking 🏆 with communication expert Matt Abrahams, a professor at the Stamford Graduate School of Business, California. Matt is a leading expert in his field and his latest book “Think Faster, Talk Smarter: How to Speak Successfully When You’re Put on the Spot” gives you clear, academically-researched advice on how to deal with anxiety, focus on making connections, improve your mindset, learn to listen, and find really useful structures to help you become a more spontaneous and successful speaker.

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878. From Learning to Teaching and Beyond (with Elena Mutonono)

These days Elena Mutonono is an experienced business coach who helps online English teachers to gain independence and control over their own careers, but Elena’s journey started as a learner of English herself. In this conversation I ask Elena about how she learned English, making the step to becoming an English teacher, then teacher trainer and what challenges online English teachers face when trying to work in a crowded and demanding job market.

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https://youtu.be/Sp-1fX1Q15I

Links

Elena’s website https://www.elenamutonono.com/

Elena’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elenamutonono/

Elena’s podcast https://www.elenamutonono.com/podcast/

872. The Birthday Party (Learn English with a Short Story)

🎧 Learn English with a short story. 🗣 Listen & repeat after me if you’d like to practise your pronunciation. 💬 Learn some vocabulary in the second half of the video. This is a story about people watching and what you can notice about people’s relationships if you are observant enough.

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📄 Click here to read the story text 👈

Luke’s Vocabulary Notes

  • In your early / late twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, sixties, seventies, eighties
  • To look married (look good, look tired, look happy, look married, look bored)
  • Unmistakably married
  • They were married. It was unmistakable.
  • Mistakable = easily confused for something else
  • Unmistakable = not easily confused for something else – you can immediately identify it
  • The unmistakable smell of fresh bread in the air
  • They looked unmistakably French / unmistakably English / unmistakably yours/hers/his (this handwriting is unmistakably his)
  • Why are they unmistakably married? What does she mean? She’s alluding to subtle behaviour. When a couple are unmarried or perhaps in the early stages of a relationship they tend to give each other a lot more attention. They might be still trying to seduce each other somehow, or to attract each other. There’s still mystery and interest. Brand new couples can hardly take their eyes off each other. I imagine this couple is unmistakably married because they show signs of the relationship suffering from over familiarity. They mystery is gone, maybe. Perhaps they seem very familiar with each other, or very comfortable with each other. Marriage can make people feel stuck (not always!) especially if the marriage is based on the wrong things. 
  • A banquette = a long, fitted seat or bench, typically found in restaurants
  • Narrow – opposite of wide – a long narrow corridor 
  • We get the sense this is a small, intimate space. It’s also uncomfortable, painfully so. 
  • The couple and other guests in the restaurant are all so close and this makes the man’s humiliation and the woman’s heartbreak even more painful. 
  • The narrator is unable to stop “people watching” here – observing this couple opposite.
  • Also the couple sit side by side, not facing each other, which suggests that they’re not all that interested in each other. 
  • You start to speculate – what does this woman mean to this man? Is she there just to sit by his side and look glamorous? 
  • A round face
  • Self-satisfied (definitely a negative word) smug, arrogant, not charming
  • Fadingly pretty 
  • Fading  = gradually becoming less clear, less bright, less colourful. Her prettiness was fading. 
  • A big hat – I imagine it was one of those hats with a big brim, which can be very glamorous but also hides the face. 
  • Conspicuous = noticeable, easy to notice, eye-catching (apparently in those days big hats were not uncommon in New York restaurants)
  • Basically, they looked quite ordinary really, and weren’t trying to grab/attract everyone’s attention.
  • An occasion – a particular event, a birthday, an anniversary, something to celebrate
  • The wife had planned a surprise for him (past perfect because she planned this before any of the events in this story) without past perfect it could mean that the wife planned the surprise there at the table
  • A surprise in the form of a cake – “in the form of” here means that this is how the surprise was actually manifested. I mean, what was the surprise, how did this surprise take shape? The surprised arrived in the form of a cake.
  • The gift came in the form of a beautifully wrapped package.
  • Their support came in the form of encouraging words during a difficult time.
  • The solution to the problem arrived in the form of an innovative new technology.
  • Help arrived in the form of my wife who came to rescue me (from an awkward conversation for example)
  • A glossy birthday cake = shiny & smooth, so the light reflects off the top. It’s one of those smart, fancy cakes that you see in good quality cake shops. 
  • One pink candle burning in the center (American English spelling) – this is a little bit sad, isn’t it? Also, if this guy takes himself quite seriously, he might find that a tiny bit embarrassing – bringing attention to him, and this little cake with a pink candle might make him feel a bit ridiculous, especially if he is full of himself and takes himself seriously. But it is a lovely, sweet gesture and we just want him to be embarrassed but also touched and it would be a great moment for him to blush and smile and kiss his wife and maybe acknowledge the other diners with a smile, but he doesn’t.
  • The head waiter – so the wife probably asked the restaurant to make a special effort here, which again shows how much care she put into this.
  • He placed it before the husband. This means he carefully put it down.
  • Meanwhile = at the same time
  • The wife beamed with shy pride over her little surprise
  • Beamed = her face glowed, she smiled, she seemed proud. To “beam” means that light comes out – like a torch, or a light house. In this case the woman’s face beamed with a certain emotion or an expression. 
  • Pride – to feel proud = she’s happy and satisfied with what she has done. She’s put a lot of effort into this and expects it to go well. She’s trying.
  • It became clear (obvious) at once (immediately) that help was needed (passive voice – needed by who?) We feel that the narrator suddenly sees that this woman is helpless in this situation. She’s in trouble. But nobody can help her without making it worse. 
  • The husband was not pleased.
  • He was hotly embarrassed. – not a common collocation but it tells us that his face probably went red and he was angry.
  • He was indignant = angry, annoyed, frustrated with his wife because of what she’s done. 
  • Don’t be like that = don’t be that way
  • As soon as the little cake had been deposited  on the table = quite formal and impersonal language, meaning put in a certain place. Money is deposited in an account. It’s quite cold, transactional language.
  • The birthday piece – a piece of music
  • The general attention had shifted = moved
  • I saw him say something to her under his breath  = in a very quiet voice, in a whisper, so other people can’t hear
  • Some punishing thing  = a comment which was designed to punish her, to make her feel bad
  • Quick (just a few words) and curt (rudely brief – rude because it is so short) and unkind (cruel).
  • I couldn’t bear to look
  • Can’t bear to do something
  • Can’t stand doing it
  • Can’t bring myself to do something
  • When I finally glanced over there = looked quickly
  • This is heartbreaking!
  • Adverbs
  • Crying quietly 
  • Crying heartbrokenly
  • Crying hopelessly
  • All to herself (she was doing it all by herself, but also crying to herself – a very lonely feeling where you are the only one witnessing your crying – the husband doesn’t care it seems)
  • All to herself / all by herself
  • Under the big gay brim of her best hat. (Gay in it’s original meaning, “carefree” “happy”)
  • The brim of the hat = the wide edge
  • This is a particularly sad image because of the contrast between this lovely hat that should be worn on a happy and carefree occasion, but under it this poor woman is crying. 

868. How the USA is changing (with Lindsay McMahon from All Ears English)

Lindsay has been observing social, economic and political trends in her home country and comes on the podcast today to talk about them.

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Introduction Notes / Transcript for Episode 868

Hello!

Today on the podcast I am talking to Lindsay from All Ears Engish. 

Do you know the All Ears English podcast? If you don’t know it, then that is a surprise to me because All Ears English is an extremely popular, well-known and high ranking podcast for learners of English. 

I’m sure you’ve come across it before. Yellow logo, Lindsay and her co-hosts Michelle, Jessica and Aubrey. American English. Their episodes are always full of positive energy. They promote personal growth through learning English and their mantra is “connection not perfection”. All Ears English. Over a million subscribers on Apple Podcasts and Spotify, ranked in Best of Apple Podcasts categories in 2018 and 2019, and #1 in US Education Language Courses category. Lindsay and her team have been featured in Podcast Magazine, Language Magazine, and Forbes. When your podcast is in a magazine, when you’ve crossed from one medium into another, you know you’re doing something right. You know, All Ears English! https://www.allearsenglish.com/

Lindsay is a returning guest on my podcast. She has been on this show a few times before. Long, long term listeners might remember her first appearance way back in episode 186 in 2014 talking about culture shock. So we’ve collaborated quite a few times. I have also been on All Ears English a number of times too, including recently.

Just a couple of months ago, Lindsay and I decided that it was about time we collaborated again on a couple of episodes so we invited each other onto our respective podcasts. I was on her show just a couple of weeks ago, in episode 2140 talking about differences between American and British English. We compared the vocabulary differences, communication style differences and more. If that sounds interesting, you could check it out. AEE 2140: The Subtle Differences Between American and British English with Luke’s English Podcast

Listen to Luke on All Ears English talking about differences between UK and USA English (audio version)

And for Lindsay’s appearance on my show in this episode, we agreed that it could be really interesting to talk about Lindsay’s home country – the USA and what’s going on there at the moment in terms of economic, political and cultural changes.

You’re going to hear us talking about things like:

The actions of unions and how that has been affecting workers’ rights. 

The way cities are evolving because of changes in people’s working lives especially since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Property prices, the energy crisis, American people’s attitudes about their government, trust in public institutions and other things of that nature.

Also, I couldn’t help adding my own comments about what’s been going on in the UK as well, in order to compare and find similarities between our two countries.

It’s a big year for both the UK and the USE – we have big elections coming up – a presidential election in the USA at the end of the year and a general election in the UK at some point. 

There’s plenty to talk about. I hope you find it all interesting. I’ll talk to you again a little bit at the other end of this conversation, but now, without any further ado, let’s get started. 

“Across the Universe” – Lyrics and Chords

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-beatles/across-the-universe-chords-202167

858. Trivia Quizzing with Sarah and Fred (Part 2)

This is part 2 of this double episode. Please listen to part 1 first! Sarah and Fred are trivia quiz nerds with a new trivia podcast. In this episode they joined me for some trivia quizzing and conversation. In this second part you can listen to my quiz for Sarah and Fred, and then Fred’s quiz for me. Can you answer the questions? Can you follow the whole conversation? Listen carefully!

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☝️ The audio version contains 7 extra minutes at the start of the episode


🎧 Listen to Luke’s first episode on Sarah & Fred’s podcast “Not An Alias Podcast”

📸 Fred on Instagram @FredMeUp

📸 Sarah on Instagram @ParisQuizMistress

857. Trivia Quizzes with Sarah and Fred (Part 1)

Sarah and Fred are trivia quiz nerds who have been doing trivia nights in Paris for years and now have a new trivia-themed podcast. In this episode we get together to discuss trivia quizzing, and to quiz each other with our own trivia questions. In this first part we get to know Sarah and Fred again, talk about their new podcast and then Sarah quizzes me with some cleverly-written questions. The quizzing continues in part 2.

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🎧 Listen to Luke’s first episode on Sarah & Fred’s podcast “Not An Alias Podcast”

📸 Fred on Instagram @FredMeUp

📸 Sarah on Instagram @ParisQuizMistress

850. Any Language You Want 📖 with Fabio Cerpelloni

Fabio has written a book about language learning, based on his own personal experiences of learning English. Each chapter ends with the same sentence: “This is how to learn a language”. But each chapter disagrees with the next. There are many ways to learn a language, and none of them is the only right way to do it. In this episode, we talk all about this and Fabio shares some of his stories. Fabio is the host of “Stolariod Stories” a self-development podcast which includes lots of lessons about learning English, and learning about life in general.

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☝️ The audio version has 20+ extra minutes of rambling from Luke ☝️

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK3zmdowd_A&ab_channel=Luke%27sEnglishPodcast

👉 Get Fabio’s book “Any Language You Want” https://fabiocerpelloni.com/any-language-you-want/

👉 Listen to Fabio interview Luke about stand-up comedy on Stolaroid Stories https://pod.link/1588409467/episode/5a1f614be55bdffa8513091565ef4985

👇 Video version of “The Art of Making People Laugh” on Stolaroid Stories


Also, listen to Luke’s funny story on Bree Aesie’s podcast recently 👇

848. The Superpower of Starting English Early with Kids (with Bree Aesie)

Bree Aesie is an English teacher with a background in psychology, especially child development, and in this episode she comes onto LEP with advice and encouragement for parents who want to help their children to learn English from an early age.

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☝️ The audio version has extra content – an introduction and an ending ramble from Luke☝️


Listen to Luke’s funny & dramatic story on Bree’s podcast 👇 “Into The Story: Learn English with True Stories”

Visit the episode page on Bree’s website with full transcript & vocabulary notes


Intro Script for Episode 848 The Superpower of Starting English Early with Kids

Hello folks, 

As you can see, this episode is called The Superpower of Starting English early with kids and as you can probably work out from the title, we’re going back the subject of helping your children to learn English.

This is a topic I’ve touched upon in the past, notably with Alexander and his daughter Alice in episode 685 and also conversations I’ve had with my wife about this over the last few years. Also there was the fairly recent episode with Anna Tyrie about the language of children and parenting where we looked at lots of vocabulary surrounding the world of kids. That was episode 814. 

This time, the focus is on how you as a non-native speaker of English, can give your kids a head start with their learning of English by talking to them in English at home. Obviously for many of you, this might not be relevant because you don’t have children, you’re not planning to have children or because you already have children and they’re all grown up now and so it’s just too late! Or perhaps your kids are all grown up and they speak better English than you! (Some of my students do say this is a reason for their learning English)

But for a lot of you out there who are parents of young children or who are going to have children, and you want them to speak English, this episode is for you. Everyone else – stick around, there are bound to be things you can gain from this. 

I know that it might seem a bit strange to speak English to your children, or you might feel reluctant to do it because you think your level isn’t quite right. Well, this conversation is here to speak to you about that, to encourage you to do speak English with your kids, to show you that you can do it and to show you some ways in which you can do it.

My guest is Bree Aesie. She is a podcaster too and has a podcast for learners of English that focuses on storytelling. It’s called Into The Story. She invites guests onto her show to tell their personal stories. As you’ll hear, Bree invited me onto her show to tell a story of my own, and I told one which I haven’t shared on LEP before. It’s a funny and quite dramatic story of fatherhood, challenges with operating in a second language, with a bit of culture shock mixed in too. It should give you a laugh or two. You can listen to it on her podcast now – it’s being published by Bree on the same day I’m publishing this. “Into the Story” – it’s available where you get your podcasts. Link in the description.

Bree is an English teacher. She works with adults and children. She has a background in psychology and child development, and she’s very interested in the whole subject of language learning in children. Let’s listen to what she has to say about it, and here we go!

831. Learning How to Learn with Hadar Shemesh

A conversation with Hadar Shemesh, a non-native speaker who has improved her English to a very high level, and who now shares her knowledge and experience with the world through her podcast and YouTube channel. Hadar describes her own experiences of learning English and mastering pronunciation. This episode is all about the voyage of discovery that is learning a language.

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👉 Hadar’s website https://hadarshemesh.com/

👉 Hadar’s podcast (InFluency Podcast) https://hadarshemesh.com/influency-podcast/

👉 Hadar’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClPyOwXLnSMejFdLvJXjA5A

👉 Hadar’s episode with Luke 👇

Audio & podcast links 👉 https://hadarshemesh.com/magazine/interview-with-luke-from-lukes-english-podcast/ 

Video version 👇