Category Archives: Beliefs

880. Is Paris ready for the Olympic Games 2024? (Article + Vocabulary)

I read an article about Paris’ preparations for the 2024 Olympic Games 🏊, discuss the issues, summarise the article and explain plenty of vocabulary. Is Paris ready for the games? What are the attitudes, complaints, expectations and fears ahead of this potentially controversial event.

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https://youtu.be/wayMKFFUFB4

Notes

880. Is Paris ready for the Olympic Games 2024? 🏊 (Article + Vocabulary)


Intro

I’m in Paris and it’s less than 100 days until the Olympic Games begin here. 

Is the city ready? 

Let’s read an article on the subject. 

I found this article on www.TheWeek.com  

I’ll read the article to you, then explain and discuss what is written. 

I’ll also go through vocabulary from the article – and there is plenty.

Topic → Reading/Listening → Vocabulary → Discussion

Before we read the article, here are some questions to get you thinking.

  • If you like you can stop the podcast and discuss these questions for some speaking practice. 
  • What are the benefits and costs for a city hosting the Olympic Games?
  • Has the Olympics ever been held in your city or country?
  • How did people feel before, during and after the games?
  • Were people positive about it?
  • Did it have a positive effect on the city?
  • 100 days before the Olympics are due to happen, what do you think people are worrying about?

Article link 👇 https://theweek.com/sports/olympics-2024-is-paris-ready-to-party 

Vocabulary

  1. The build-up to this summer’s Games is being ‘marred’ by rows over national identity, security and pollution
  2. The lighting of the Olympic torch today comes amid a “dampening” of enthusiasm for the Paris Games in an increasingly “fractious” France, commentators warn.

    Light – lit – lit
    To light something
    To light something up

    Lighting
    Lightening (lighten)
    Lightning ⚡
  3. “We’re ready for this final straight,” said Paris Olympics chief organiser Tony Estanguet
  4. to mark the 100-day countdown
  5. With the clock ticking down until the Games kick off on 26 July
  6. France’s “bitter politics and gloomy mindset are dampening the mood” among a “fractious” public, said The Japan Times.
     
  7. The build-up has been “marred by rows” that go to “the heart of a bitter national debate about identity and race”.
  8. Herve Le Bras, a sociologist, told the paper that the Games threaten to “underline the major fractures in France – notably the fracture between Paris and the rest of the country”.
  9. An Odoxa poll of more than 1,200 Paris region residents last November found that 44% thought the Games were a “bad thing”, and that 52% were planning to leave the city during the 16-day event.
  10. One Parisian told the BBC that staying would be “unbearable“, with the Games making it “impossible to park, impossible to move around, impossible to do anything”.
  11. Security fears are also growing amid mounting global tensions.
  12. In a break from the tradition of opening the Games in the main stadium, the organisers have devised a “grandiose” ceremony centred around a parade of barges on the River Seine, said Le Monde.
  13. The original plan was for as many as 600,000 spectators to watch from the riverbanks, but security and logistical concerns have led the government to “progressively scale back” the plan, with the spectator numbers reduced to 300,000.
  14. And President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday that the ceremony might be moved to a new location if the authorities decide that the risk of an attack, potentially by drones, is too great.
  15. “There are Plan Bs and Plan Cs”, including holding the opening at the city’s Stade de France, he told television interviewers. Asked if the Kremlin would seek to disrupt the Olympics, Macron said that he had “no doubt“.
  16. Another potential threat is sewage pollution in the Seine, where swimming events are due to take place.
  17. Bacteria, including “pollution of faecal origin”, remains dangerously high in the river.
  18. Games boss Estanguet said last week that if water quality levels worsen, “there could be a final decision where we could not swim”.
  19. The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee has “mountains of scepticism to dispel” in France and beyond, said The Associated Press.
  20. The $13 billion cost of the 2021 Tokyo Games and the “unfulfilled promises of beneficial change” for 2016 host Rio de Janeiro triggered widespread anger, and the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi were “tarnished by Russian doping“.
  21. But some previous predictions of Olympics doom have proved incorrect.
  22. In the run-up to the London 2012 Games, the Army was drafted in to bolster the security presence provided by private firm G4S, amid fears of a repeat of the riots that had broken out in the city in 2011.
  23. Journalists emitcyclical loud buzzing noises before every set of Summer Games”, said George Vecsey in The New York Times in 2004.
  24. Reporters will “continue to fret on schedule”, because it’s “in our job description“.

Estanguet acknowledged last week that “before this kind of big event, there are always many questions, many concerns“. But the Paris edition would make his nation “proud”, he said.

876. Thoughts & comments on recent episodes / A Spring Equinox Ramble 2024

Listen to me rambling about Daylight Saving Time, weird AI generated images for Luke’s English Podcast, and lots of comments and responses to recent episodes including the Birthday Party story 🎂 , the MBTI Personality Test 🙇 and the Walk & Talk in Paris 📹🚶.

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🔖 The Advanced English Summit – book your place for Luke’s Zoom talk (free) 👇

https://english-at-home.com/summit/


📄 Get the PDF 👇

Those Strange AI-generated Images 👇

873. Luke takes the MBTI Personality Test

The MBTI Personality Test (aka “16 Personalities”) is a very well-known and widely used test which claims to be able to give you a “freakishly accurate” analysis of your personality type. In this episode I take the test, explain the reasons for my answers, explain some vocabulary and give my thoughts on the test results and the test itself. Includes plenty of expressions for describing personality traits, behaviour, ways of thinking and feeling and the subject of psychological testing.

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Transcript / Notes

Hello!

In this much-requested episode I am going to take the MBTI personality test and use it to help you learn English.

I’ll go through the test, answering all the questions, and I will explain vocabulary that comes up along the way.

I expect there will be plenty of English here that we use to describe personality, behaviour, feelings, psychology and psychological testing.

I also want to discuss this test, which despite its massive popularity, is criticised for not being reliable or accurate. 

What’s going on here? Why is the test so popular? Can it really identify our true personality? What kind of personality type am I? And what about you?

You can take the test yourself if you want. It’s free and you’ll find a link in the description. 

A comment from a listener

Here’s a comment I received ages ago in response to the Q&A I did for episode 800.

JiaqiThese Q&A episodes are so fun! Thanks Luke!
I agree with one question – it’d be really interesting if you do the MBTI personality test and talk us through your choices! On 16personalities.com they have really good questions and good analysis of your result 😄
I have a feeling that you might be ENFJ aka The Protagonist, Luke👀… Extroverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Judging. I’m INFJ (the introverted version).

OK then!

What is the MBTI Personality Test?

The MBTI Personality Test, in case you don’t know, is a very popular personality test which promises to help you learn all about yourself. 

Wikipedia

The Myers–Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a pseudoscientific[1][2] self-report questionnaire that claims to indicate differing personality types

The test attempts to assign a binary value to each of four categories: introversion or extraversion, sensing or intuition, thinking or feeling, and judging or perceiving. 

One letter from each category is taken to produce a four-letter test result representing one of sixteen possible personalities, such as “INFP” or “ESTJ”.

The MBTI was constructed by two Americans: Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers, who were inspired by the book Psychological Types written by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. The test was first published in the 1960s, and was based on work done by Katherine and Isabel in the 1940s. 

This test claims to be backed up by research and is used by millions of people around the world, especially in the world of work where employers often use it to work out the competences of their staff. They use it to put employees into different personality categories in order to help place them into roles at work that they are most suitable for. 

The test is divided into questions and your answers put you somewhere on a sliding scale between certain “opposite” personality traits. At the end, the test gives you a personality profile, putting you into one of 16 personality categories or personality types. I’ll go through those types in a moment. 

This test is extremely popular and actually Jiaqi is not the first person to ask me to take the test and talk about it.

Episode Plan

The plan is to do 3 things:

  • Take the test and talk you through my decision making process for each question – I’m curious to see what personality type I’m going to get. Will Jiaqi be right about me being an ENFJ?
  • Explain different vocabulary or possibly grammar that comes up in the test. I’m sure there will be loads of words and phrases to describe things like personality traits, feelings, ways of thinking, decision making processes and so on.
  • Talk about the test itself – I want to evaluate the test and consider whether it really is a valid and reliable test of someone’s character.

16 Personalities

Let’s look at the 16 personality types developed by Myers-Briggs.

As we go through these profiles, consider these things.

  • What category type are you?
  • Which one do you think I am? (You’ll find out, apparently)

https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types

Interestingly, there are no negative categories. All the categories are positive. 

Surely there must be some negative personality traits in people? 

Why don’t they come up in this evaluation?

For example, there are no categories like these.

7 Negative Personality Types (NOT in the MBTI test) 

Couch potatoes
Lazy time-wasters who avoid all sense of responsibility or personal challenge by spending the day lying in bed, scrolling through TikTok and maybe ordering a pizza. 

Internet trolls
Hate-filled nerds who use the anonymity and lack of accountability of the internet to provoke negative emotional responses from other users, probably because they have trouble establishing genuine loving relationships in the real world.  

Selfish scumbags
The type of person who would push your elderly grandmother out of the way while getting off a bus, these are completely self-interested psychopaths whose only motivations are to gain wealth, power and influence over others, all for their own benefit.

Scroungers
Never willing to pay their own way, scroungers are always looking for opportunities to get things for free or to benefit from the hard work of others, while making the least amount of effort possible and spending none of their own money.

Cowards
Weak-willed losers who run away from any challenge due to a fear of failure which is actually caused by an underlying narcissistic tendency with an overriding sense of self-preservation combined with the feeling they have been wronged somewhere down the line and therefore deserve to be given everything they want without taking any risk themselves. 

Bullies
Bullies make themselves feel better by making other people feel worse. They belittle, abuse and pick on people in weaker, lower-status positions in order to cover up for a deep-seated sense of inadequacy probably stemming from a problematic loveless relationship with one or both of their parents, who probably bullied them too, sending them into a vicious cycle of abuse. 

Other possible categories:
Creepy weirdos
Manipulative gaslighters
Compulsive liars
Sociopaths
Politicians

We all know people like that, but interestingly the test contains no descriptions like that, or in fact any negative descriptions whatsoever. 

Some comments before I begin

This will probably take a lot of time because I think there are lots of sentences in this test, but that’s fine isn’t it. (By the way, I am glad so many people agree with my thoughts from episode 871 about longer episodes).

As I discuss these questions, you might think I am over-analysing or thinking about each question too much, but I’m not. I’m going to answer the questions in the most honest way I can, but I also want to use my critical thinking to analyse the thinking or assumptions behind each one. 

Full disclosure, I am sceptical about this test. I will discuss why as we go through the questions.

I did an A Level in Psychology (I got a B – check me out) so I am vaguely familiar with some of the science behind this kind of thing. 

Test reliability and test validity

For a test like this to be objectively, measurably accurate it should be both reliable and valid. 

These are standard concepts in scientific testing, which any good test should comply with in order to produce results which we can reasonably accept to be accurate.

Test reliability – tests should be reliable

This refers to the consistency of a test – how the test consistently produces the same results, time and time again. 

If the MBTI test is reliable, it should always produce the same results every time someone takes it. 

Because, as the makers claim, we have fixed personalities and so it should always put us in the same category each time.

Also, if a test is unaffected by measurement errors or random effects like the person’s mood, environmental factors, the weather on that particular day etc – if it is unaffected by these things, it makes the test stronger and more reliable.

Test validity – tests should be valid

This means that the test actually tests what it says it tests, and nothing else.

It’s different from reliability because even if a test gets the same results each time, it might not be valid, meaning that the results still might not be accurate. 

If the MBTI test is valid, it means that, for example, it is accurately labelling people – it is putting people in the right categories. For example, when it says that someone has a certain personality type and would be well suited for a particular job, this is actually true

Let’s take the test 👉 https://www.16personalities.com


Luke’s result on 6 March 2024: INFP “The Mediator”

I have taken the test before (did I get the same results?)

Luke’s Result on 11 December 2023: INTP “The Logician”

Results when I took the text on 11 December 2023. I was at work and I had a bad stomach.

Luke’s Result on 19 Jan 2023: INFJ “The Advocate”

The results when I took the test on Friday 19 January 2023 and I felt a bit tired.

Problems with the MBTI test / Criticisms

  • Poor validity
    According to its critics, the test does not accurately predict a person’s performance in any way.

    It’s basically meaningless and comparable to a horoscope in terms of its validity.

    But of course plenty of people believe horoscopes, including you maybe and you might disagree with my criticisms here because you like horoscopes and you like this test because you feel that it gives you a meaningful sense of perspective and insight into yourself.

    But if horoscopes are true and we really can predict someone’s future, why don’t newspapers put them on the front page? Instead they always put them in the middle of the newspaper, down at the bottom somewhere next to the puzzles?

    More about horoscopes in a moment.
  • Poor reliability
    People typically get different results when they take the test multiple times.
  • Inaccurate representation of character traits
    The test presents its character traits as independent from each other and mutually exclusive, but they’re not. In each question you are either one or the other (introvert or extrovert) but in reality these things are not mutually exclusive concepts and we can be a bit of both, and maybe it depends on the situation.

It is possible to be a bit of both, but the test rigidly divides you into one or the other with every single question. This is true for all its categories which are presented as mutually exclusive. Even though there is a middle position in each question, you will ultimately be put in one of the categories.

  • Conflict of interest
    There are huge questions of independence, bias and conflict of interest.
    All the research behind the test is done by the same organisation that produces and sells the test worldwide making a large profit from it. 
  • Barnum effect
    The test has been likened to horoscopes as both rely on the Barnum effect, flattery, and confirmation bias, leading participants to personally identify with descriptions that are somewhat desirable, vague, and widely applicable.

    People believe the results because they want to. It confirms what they already (want to) believe about themselves, and it flatters them in the process – it makes them feel good. Everyone is a winner and nobody has any particular reason to disagree or criticise the results of the test.

    117. Psychics / Cold Reading / Barnum Statements | Luke’s ENGLISH Podcast
  • This is in fact just a glorified version of online quizzes such as “Which Harry Potter character are you?” but in fact it is more successful than that because it presents itself as serious, backed up by research and all the results are positive, unlike in the Harry Potter quiz because nobody is happy if they end up being Draco Malfoy or something.

Debunking the test 

Jordan Peterson actually does a good job of debunking the test. I’m not a big fan of his, but he seems to be spot on here.

Summary of his main points

The probability that a company will use a personality test is inversely related to the accuracy of the test. 

Meaning that the less accurate the test, the easier it is to sell. 

So there are other factors which cause this test to be so popular – it’s really nothing to do with its ability to accurately describe your personality or predict what you will be good at.

Companies buy the MBTI test. It sells about one million units per year. But it has ZERO predictive utility with regards to performance prediction. It does not predict performance. 

Why do people use it? Because it doesn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. In fact, it makes people feel good. Companies ultimately want their staff to have high morale. 

The test is old, it’s based on unsound and outmoded psychological techniques and should be replaced by another test called “The Big Five”.

An article on vox.comCLICK HERE TO READ

A summary of the article 

The arguments against the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test presented in the article can be summarized as follows:

1. Lack of scientific evidence: The test lacks empirical evidence to support its claims. It doesn’t predict job success, marital happiness, or overall performance in various situations.

2. Theoretical basis: The MBTI was formulated in the 1940s based on Carl Jung’s untested theories. Even Jung himself cautioned that his personality “types” were rough observations rather than strict classifications.

3. Unsupported principles: Jung’s theories were not grounded in controlled experiments or data but were rather theoretical. The test was developed by individuals without formal psychology training, further lacking scientific credibility.

4. Limited and false binaries: The test’s binary questions oversimplify complex human traits that usually exist along a spectrum. It categorizes individuals as one extreme or the other, ignoring the nuanced nature of human behavior.

5. Inconsistent and inaccurate results: The test often yields inconsistent results when taken multiple times by the same person, indicating its unreliability. It fails to measure traits consistently different among individuals.

6. Disregarded by psychologists: The Myers-Briggs test is mostly disregarded by contemporary psychologists, as it lacks significant research support in reputable psychology journals. Newer, empirically driven tests focus on different personality categories backed by actual data.

7. Entertainment value vs. practical use: While the MBTI might serve as entertainment, it lacks practical validity. Despite its widespread use in corporations and government agencies, its reliability and effectiveness have been debunked by psychologists.

Also the test assumes that you are a good judge of your own character. We might choose options based on how we want to be perceived, rather than on who we really are.

In conclusion, the arguments highlight the lack of scientific basis, the test’s reliance on outdated theories, its oversimplification of human traits, inconsistency in results, and the absence of support from the psychology community, suggesting that the MBTI is unreliable and largely disregarded by reputable psychologists.

The Big Five (another personality test)

Apparently this is a more accurate personality test, and interestingly it has its roots in language. The developers listed every single adjective they could find which describes personality and distilled them into 5 broad concepts. Basically, all personality descriptions boil down to these 5 areas:

The test is based on these 5 factors then, and on other more valid research and methods.

Take the test 👉 Big Five Personality Test 

But that is another story for another time. 

Your Comments?

  • What do you think?
  • Do you think the test is valid or reliable? (actually this is not a question of opinion – it isn’t!)
  • What did you think of my result? Do you agree?
  • Have you taken the test? What result did you get? What did you think?

853. A Conversation with Rhiannon Carter

Join me as I meet and get to know Rhiannon, an English coach whose mission is to help you feel awesome about your English. I had never met Rhiannon before this interview, so listen as I get to know her and we chat about her English & Welsh roots, moving to Edinburgh, studying theology at university, early experiences as an English teacher, why learners often feel ashamed of their English, and how she can help. We also discuss the wonders of fish & chips and deep fried Mars bars which you can buy on the streets of Edinburgh.

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Work with Rhiannon 👉 https://www.rhiannonelt.com/

Instagram 👉 https://www.instagram.com/rhiannonelt.coaching/

Rhiannon’s podcast 👇

840. Things that make you go “Hmmm” 🤔 Life, Laughter & Learning English

Here is a list of curious mysteries, jokes and observations about the English language and life in general. I talk about each interesting point, give some funny comments and explain bits of English vocabulary in the process. Expect to learn a few things, and have a bit of a laugh in the process.

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☝️Audio version has 15+ extra minutes, with some grammar and vocabulary explanations.

Episode Transcript / Notes

Mini-Mysteries, Jokes & Observations about The English Language (and Life in General) 

Aka “Things that make you go “Hmmm🤔😅

A while ago I got an email from a listener called Hana (hello Hana!) 

In the email Hana sent me a list of little jokes, funny observations about life and some peculiarities and ‘mysteries’ of the English language. 

A collection of whimsical and amusing questions and jokes.

To give you an idea of the kind of thing I’m talking about, it’s stuff like this:


English is funny – a ‘fat chance’ and a ‘slim chance’ are the same thing.

When you’re a child, you don’t realise that you’re also watching your mum and dad grow up.

The word QUEUE is just the letter Q followed by four completely unnecessary letters.

The last 10% of a tube of toothpaste lasts about as long as the first 90%.

Every time you check your pockets for your wallet, keys, and phone, you do 25% of the Macarena.

We have all, at one point, kicked a pregnant woman.


You get the idea.

Hana said the list had been sent to her by someone on WhatsApp so she forwarded them to me, just for fun. 

Well, thanks Hana. This is all useful stuff I could use to make an episode of my podcast. 

It’s all just a bit of light-hearted fun (in theory) and I’m sure there’s English to learn from this too. 

So, while you are listening, watch out for vocabulary which comes up during this episode.

Let’s get started.

Hello Luke,I just received these jokes on my WhatsApp and I thought of you. Best wishes, Hana

*When you have nothing better to do*

*Just try to find answers for these*


1. If poison expires; is it more poisonous or is it no longer poisonous? 🤔

The expiry date

The sell-by date

The use-by date


2. Which letter is silent in the word “Scent” (perfume) the S or the C? 🤔


3. Do twins ever realise that one of them is “unplanned”?   🤔

(ouch)


4. Why is the letter W, in English, called double U? Shouldn’t it be called double V? 

🤔

(The Grammarphobia Blog: Why isn’t a W called a double v? )


5. Every time you clean something, you just make something else dirty.

🤔

We’re just moving dirt from one thing to another thing.

Where does all the dirt end up?


6. The word “swims” upside-down is still “swims”    🤔

Ambigrams – Wikipedia 


7. 100 years ago everyone owned a horse and only the rich had cars

Today everyone has cars and only the rich own horses. 🤔


8. If you replace “W” with “T” in the words “What, Where and When“, you get the answer to each one  🤔

What? → That

Where? → There

When? → Then


*Still have time for fun..?*

*Let’s try this*

Four Great Confusions

Which are still unresolved

😄😂


1. At a movie theatre (cinema), which arm rest is yours?


2. If people evolved from monkeys, why are monkeys still around?

*this is not unresolved – evolutionary biology has the answer


3. Why is there a ‘D’ in ‘fridge’, but not in ‘refrigerator’?

Why Is There a D in “Fridge” but Not in “Refrigerator”? 


4.  Who knew what time it was, when the first clock was made?


*Well, try this now*

Ambiguities of the English Language! Enjoy.!!!

😀


1. I wonder why the word “Funeral” starts with FUN?

Saderall would be better, because you’re all sad.


2. Why isn’t a Fireman called a Water-man?


3. How come Lipstick doesn’t do what it says?

Lipstick – it’s a stick for your lips

It’s not stuff that “sticks to your lips”.

Also, it isn’t a stick made of lips. That would be weird


4. If money doesn’t grow on trees, how come Banks have Branches?

5. If a Vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a Humanitarian eat?


6. How do you get off a non-stop Flight?


7. Why are goods sent by *ship* called CARGO, and those sent by *truck* SHIPMENT?

ChatGPT has the answer (smartypants)

Goods that are shipped by boat are called cargo because the word “cargo” comes from the Spanish word “cargar,” which means “to load.” This makes sense because when goods are shipped by boat, they are loaded onto the vessel. 

In contrast, goods that are shipped by truck are called a shipment because they are being shipped from one place to another. The word “shipment” comes from the Old French word “envoiement,” which means “the act of sending.” So, a shipment is a collection of goods that are being sent from one place to another, regardless of the mode of transportation.


8. Why do we put cups in the “Dishwasher” and the dishes in the “Cupboard“?

The word “cupboard” originated in the Middle English word “cubbert,” which came from the Old French word “couvert,” meaning “covered.” A cupboard is a type of cabinet or closet with shelves or drawers for storing household items. 

The name “cupboard” likely comes from the fact that these types of storage units were originally used to store cups and other dishware. Over time, the meaning of the word “cupboard” has expanded to include any type of cabinet or closet used for storage. (yes, ChatGPT again)


9. Why do doctors “practise” medicine? 

I don’t want a doctor who practises medicine, I want one who has learned how to do it!


10. Why is it called “Rush Hour” when traffic moves at its slowest at that time?

​​


11. How come noses run and feet smell


Shouldn’t it be the other way around?


12. Why do they call it a TV ‘set’ when there is only one? 

The know-it-all ChatGPT has the answer *yawn*

The word “set” in this context refers to a complete television system, not just the physical television itself. A television set includes the television, as well as any additional components or accessories that are required to receive and display television signals. 

In the past, television sets often included components such as a VCR, DVD player, or cable box, and these additional components were often referred to as “attachments.” Even though most modern televisions are self-contained and do not require additional components, the term “television set” is still used to refer to the entire system.


13. What are you vacating when you go on a “vacation“?


We can never find the answers

Can we❓

If you have the *Spirit* of understanding everything in a positive manner – You’ll enjoy every moment in LIFE, whether it’s *PRESSURE or PLEASURE*

So just enjoy the PUN and FUN of the English language.

😂🤣😂

Enjoy and have fun.😘👍

Hana Fakhoury Hajeer, PhD.


A Note about the words “STUFF” and “THINGS”

Also, just at the end here I thought I could explain a couple of points about the words “stuff” and “thing(s)”. 

So, here is a note about that.

Of course you are aware of these words. People use them all the time. They certainly came up in this episode. 

For example, at the beginning of the episode I said “Let’s talk about some stuff. Here’s some more stuff to help you learn English” and I think the episode is in fact going to be called 

“Things that make you go ‘Hmmm’.”

So what about these words? I often notice that my learners of English don’t use them very much, but I think they are very useful. 

Of course you shouldn’t overdo it and use them all the time, when a more specific word is appropriate, but still, they are useful and very common. 

The main thing here, the main point, is that the word thing is a countable noun, and the word stuff is uncountable. 

That’s the only difference really.

In English, countable and uncountable nouns have different rules regarding their usage. Here’s a general overview.

Countable Nouns 

1. Countable nouns refer to items that can be counted as individual units.

2. They can be used in both singular and plural forms.

3. Singular countable nouns are typically preceded by an article (a/an) or a specific determiner (e.g., this, that, my).

4. Plural countable nouns usually take an “s” at the end, but irregular plural forms exist as well.

5. Countable nouns can be quantified using numbers or words like “many,” “few,” “some,” etc.

6. They can be used with “a few,” “several,” or “many” to indicate a specific quantity.

Example sentences

– “I have two cats.”

– “She bought some books.”

– “He needs a new car.”

– “There are many students in the classroom.”

Uncountable Nouns

1. Uncountable nouns refer to substances, concepts, or ideas that cannot be counted as separate units.

2. They are typically singular and do not have a plural form.

3. Uncountable nouns do not usually take an indefinite article (a/an) but can take a definite article (the) when specified.

4. They cannot be quantified directly with numbers, but words like “some,” “a little,” “a lot of,” etc., can be used.

5. To express a specific quantity, you can use measurement words like “a cup of,” “a bottle of,” “a piece of,” etc.

Example sentences

– “I need to buy some milk.”

– “She has a lot of experience.”

– “Could you pass me the salt, please?”

– “He drank a glass of water.”

It’s important to note that some nouns can be both countable and uncountable, depending on the context. For example, “water” can be uncountable (as in “I need water”) or countable (as in “There are three waters on the table”).

Just as a quick test, which word would you use to complete these sentences? 

Thing / things or stuff

  1. There is just one _______ I need to tell you before you go.
  2. Can you pass me one of those _______ on that box over there?
  3. Can I have some more of that _______? It was really good.
  4. Ugh, what’s all that sticky _______ on the table?
  5. I need to go into town to buy one or two _______ for dinner, would you like to come?
  6. Your bag is so heavy. How many _______ do you have in here?
  7. There’s too much _______ in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
  8. How much _______ did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those _______.
  9. Sit down, we have some important _______/_______ to tell you.

Answers

  1. There is just one thing I need to tell you before you go.
  2. Can you pass me one of those things on that box over there?
  3. Can I have some more of that stuff? It was really good.
  4. Ugh, what’s all that sticky stuff on the table?
  5. I need to go into town to buy one or two things for dinner, would you like to come?
  6. Your bag is so heavy. How many things do you have in here?
  7. There’s too much stuff in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
  8. How much stuff did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those things.
  9. Sit down, we have some important things/stuff to tell you.

Errors

  • ❌There are some amazing stuff in this shop.
    There are some amazing things / There is some amazing stuff
  • ❌Can you pass me that stuff on the table? (talking about one object)
    Can you pass me that thing on the table?
  • ❌We need to get some more stuffs from the shop.
    We need to get some more stuff…
    We need to get some more things…

836. Life & Life Only with Antony Rotunno [Part 2] David Blaine, Food & Diet, The Shining, Conspiracies, Comedy, Happiness

Since recording part 1 of this conversation, Antony caught COVID-19 and lost a bit of weight, but he managed to talk for about 100 minutes here about more topics he has previously covered in episodes of his podcast “Life & Life Only”. Here we discuss diverse things, including the extraordinary feats of endurance by David Blaine 🕴🏻, food and dieting 🍔, Stanley Kubrik’s film “The Shining” 🪓, the term “conspiracy theory” 🤫, the ways that comedy shows can reveal the truth 🎭, and the complex art of happiness 🙂.

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☝️The audio version includes some extra content at the end, including a song on the guitar

Topics covered in this episode

David Blaine

  • Who is David Blaine? 
  • What can we learn from his tricks?

Food

  • Do you watch what you eat or have a particular diet?

Films

  • What are your favourite films? 
  • What’s so interesting about The Shining?

Conspiracy Theories

  • What’s wrong with the phrase “conspiracy theory”?

Comedy

  • What’s your favourite comedy show?
  • Is British and American comedy different?

Happiness

  • What is the art of happiness?

Song Lyrics – “Coffee & TV” by Blur

https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/blur/coffee-and-tv-chords-800996

Luke & Antony talk about the film “Sorcerer” (1977) on the Film Gold podcast

835. Life & Life Only with Antony Rotunno [Part 1] Cats, Titanic, Travelling, Teaching & Life Coaching

Antony is an English teacher, podcaster, life-coach and writer and he returns to LEP today for a conversation about topics which he has discussed in episodes of his podcast called “Life & Life Only”. Listen to us chat about why cats are good for your health 🐱, what the Titanic disaster tells us about social class 🚢, how losing his backpack while travelling taught Antony a valuable life lesson 🎒, how psychology is involved in English teaching 🧠 and more.

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Antony’s Podcast 👉 Subscribe to Life & Life Only wherever you get your podcasts https://plinkhq.com/i/1549021296?to=page

Topics for discussion in this episode

Life & Life Only (the podcast)

  • What is Life & Life Only, and what’s it all about?

Cats

  • What do you like about cats?

The Titanic

  • Why are you interested in the Titanic?
  • Can you give us a quick version of the story?

Travelling

  • Tell me about your travelling experiences.
  • Where have you been?
  • Did the experience change you at all?
  • What about losing your luggage? What happened?

Teaching English

  • How have you found the group dynamics and interpersonal dynamics of teaching?
    • Groups
    • Individuals
  • Have you had good and bad groups? What’s the difference?
  • What have you done in order to try to get the right atmosphere in a classroom?
  • Have you ever had bad or difficult experiences with students?
  • What are some of the weirdest situations in which you have taught English?

Life Coaching

  • What is life coaching and how do you do it?

Antony & Luke talk about the film “Sorcerer” (1977) on Antony’s Film Gold podcast

824. The Coronation of King Charles III (with Mum & Dad) The Rick & Gill Thompson Report

Talking to my parents about the coronation ceremony of King Charles III which happened in Westminster, London on Saturday 6 May. Includes descriptions of the ceremony and discussion of some of the issues related to it, plus a few dodgy jokes along the way 👑.

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Listen to the audio version for 15+ minutes extra rambling from Luke at the end! ☝️

795. DOPPELGANGER (Learn English with a Short Story)

Learn English with another short story. In fact, this episode contains two stories. Listen until the end for the 2nd one. Repeat after me to practise your pronunciation. Learn some vocabulary & grammar in the second half of the episode, with an explanation of modal verbs of deduction in the past and present. Video version available.

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Video Version (with on-screen text)

Sign up to LEP Premium for a premium series with another story (P41)

Download the episode transcript here

Episode Transcript

Hello everyone, 

Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing out there in podcast land? Surviving?

Here’s a new episode. It’s time to do some more English learning with a story. 

In this episode, I’m going to read another short story to you, and use it to teach you some English. 

I recommend that as well as listening to me read the story out loud to you today, that you read this story out loud too, and I will give you a chance to do that by repeating after me. 

We’ll also look at some vocabulary and grammar from the story during the episode. And if you listen until the end, I will tell you another story too. 

That’s all going to come later in the episode. If you’re watching the video version – hello. Don’t forget to like & subscribe.  

If you are listening to the audio version. Click the link in the description to visit the page for this episode where you will be able to read a transcript for the whole things. You’re welcome.

100-Word Stories

Recently I have been looking for short stories to help me teach English, the shorter the better, and I found lots of 100-word stories on several websites. A 100-word story is a story with no more than 100 words.

There are a couple of sites where you can find a lot of these. One site is called https://100wordstory.org/ and the other is https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/ 

Anyone can submit a story to these sites. The stories are then checked by the website editors and then published for everyone to read.

The only rule for the writers, is that the stories have a 100-word limit. I think the minimum is 75 words, but the maximum is 100. So, a story with no more than 100 words.

That’s quite a challenge.

The writers need to be very disciplined. They have to choose their words carefully, and as a result these stories are very minimal and manage to convey descriptions and emotions using only a few words. 

As a teacher of English, I think these stories are great because it gives us compelling and concise samples of English to work with. 

Get the book 

I want to just point out that there is a book full of these very short stories, which you could buy. 

It’s called Nothing Short of 100: Selected tales from 100 Word Story

It is a collection of stories from the https://100wordstory.org/ website. 

There’s a Kindle version or a print version. 

It is published by OUTPOST 19 and it was put together by the team behind the website, including Grant Faulkner, Lynn Mundell and Joshua Michael Stewart. 

It is available for you to purchase and I recommend it if you are looking for bite size stories to use for learning or teaching English. 

I also recommend visiting https://100wordstory.org/ and www.fridayflashfiction.com where you can find absolutely loads of stories like this with new ones arriving each week.

Today’s story

OK so let’s start with a story which I’ve selected from the Nothing Short of 100 book.

This story is called DOPPELGÄNGER 

By the way, we don’t usually use an umlaut in English →  ä  

What is a doppleganger?

A doppelganger is someone who looks exactly like someone else, but it’s creepy and scary, like a ghostly copy of someone.

I think the word has its origins in German (hence the umlaut in the title), and translates directly as “double goer”. So your doppelganger is your double, a copy of you, who looks exactly like you and who goes around, walking the earth.

In my case, that would be Luka Modric, the Croatian footballer. That’s what people say anyway, that Luka Modric is my doppelganger. 

Yes, he is my doppelganger. I’m not his doppelganger, ok? He’s my doppelganger. I was here first!

We do use the word in conversational English.

We say things like “Oh, I saw your doppelganger in the street today!” (meaning, “I saw someone who looked just like you”)
or “It’s amazing, he’s your complete doppelganger!” etc. 

I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever seen someone who looks exactly like someone you know? Have you ever done a double take and been confused for a split second? Has anyone told you that they’d seen your doppelganger?

OK, I’m now going to read the story

Just one question 👇

  • How did the person feel at the end of the story? Why? 

Answer: She felt shocked, upset, sad, surprised and possibly heartbroken. Maybe she couldn’t believe her eyes, because she saw her lover with another woman, or she saw someone who looked exactly like her lover with another woman.

Listen to the episode to hear me summarise and explain the story.

Let me give my comments and explanations, line by line (listen to get my comments)

DOPPELGÄNGER
I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you.
I was walking past the outdoor tables of the French café, and just at the last second, I caught a familiar hand gesture, and looked again. 
It couldn’t have been you though, my love, because your other hand was clasping the hand of the woman opposite.
Your heads were too close.
She was laughing, that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment, totally in love.
I walked on, heels tapping out a staccato rhythm, as I no longer wanted to look at the you who wasn’t you.

Possible interpretations

  • It was her husband/boyfriend, cheating on her, having an affair with another woman.
  • It wasn’t her husband/boyfriend. It was just someone who looked like him, but it still disturbed her because she’s terrified that he could cheat on her.
  • It was her ex, someone she is still in love with. They’re not together any more. He’s moved on, but she hasn’t.
  • It was a guy who she loves but they’re not together and she can’t bear the fact that he’s with someone else.
  • Perhaps she lost her husband (he died) and she just saw someone who reminded her of him.
  • Something else?

Language Analysis

Vocabulary & Grammar

  • The you who wasn’t you
    (Although you normally takes are/were, it is not plural, and so the relative pronoun who is singular)
  • Just at the last second
    • on time
    • in time
  • Familiar
  • A gesture
  • To catch (a look at) something (to get a glimpse of something)
  • …though
  • Clasping her hand
  • Abandoned laughing
  • To be totally in the moment
  • To walk on
  • Heels
  • Tapping
  • A staccato rhythm
  • It couldn’t have been you, my love 👇

Modal Verbs of Deduction

Present

Who is that?

I’m sure/certain it’s DaveIt must be Dave
It’s possible (that) it’s Dave-not sureIt could be DaveIt might be DaveIt may be Dave
It’s impossible (that) it’s DaveIt can’t be DaveIt couldn’t be Dave

Past

Who was that?

I’m sure/certain it was DaveIt must have been Dave
It’s possible (that) it was Dave-not sureIt could have been DaveIt might have been DaveIt may have been Dave
It’s impossible (that) it was DaveIt can’t have been DaveIt couldn’t have been Dave

Pronunciation

  • Repeat the story after me, line by line.
  • Try to say each line with no pauses between words.
  • Notice which word has the main emphasis (stress) in each line.
  • Don’t sound like a robot! 🤖

DOPPELGÄNGER

I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you.

I was walking past the outdoor tables of the French café,

and just at the last second,

I caught a familiar hand gesture,

and looked again.

It couldn’t have been you though, my love,

because your other hand
was clasping the hand of the woman opposite.

Your heads were too close.

She was laughing,

that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment,

totally in love.

I walked on,

heels
tapping out a staccato rhythm,

as I no longer wanted to look
at the you 

who wasn’t you.


Do you want more of this kind of thing?

Sign up to LEP Premium www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium 

I do language analysis, vocab & grammar explanations and pronunciation practice.

There are stories and language reviews for conversations which have appeared in episodes of LEP. 

If you sign up you can add all the premium episodes to your podcast app of choice, and also get links for video versions and PDF worksheets.

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium 

🔗 Link in the description 🔗 

How about another story?

We’re not finished yet. 

I’m going to read you another story. This one is also about a doppelganger.

I’ll just read the story to you, and then I’m going to do language work in a premium episode which is coming soon to the premium subscription. 

OK, I am trying to persuade you to sign up to my premium subscription, but I think it’s worth it, and if you do you’ll be supporting the podcast. No pressure though. 

If you don’t want to sign up or you can’t, no worries.

I’m still going to read the story to you in this free episode, now. 

I hope you enjoy it. 

I’ll quickly summarise it at the end (in case you don’t understand), but I’ll do the detailed language teaching in premium series, coming soon.

Story 2

Doppelganger, by Sue Clayton 

From → www.FridayFlashFiction.com and adapted slightly by me. 

“This book says everyone has a doppelganger, a mirror image, and if you meet yours face to face, you’ll die.”

Janice, my flatmate, closed the book, finished her tea and toast, and slammed out of the door for her A&E shift at St. Margaret’s hospital just down the road. She loved any kind of fantasy literature, always immersed in some supernatural genre book. Not my cup of tea at all. Give me a good Nordic Noir mystery anytime.

After taking a shower I went to brush my teeth. If you meet your doppelganger face to face you’ll die, my reflection in the bathroom mirror laughed as I recited the words, but they’d begun to worm their subliminal way into my subconscious, waiting to claw their way to the surface and pounce.

One day, a couple of weeks later, I headed for the front door ready to set off into town where I worked at a music store. Doppelganger, I froze as my mind hissed the insidious word. What if I saw me on the train? Or stood behind me in the line at the coffee place? What if I came into the shop to buy a record and had to serve myself? The words shot through my mind. I let go of the door handle as if I had been electrocuted, and phoned in sick.

“Do you fancy a night out at that new wine bar down the street?”
Janice bounced through the front door one afternoon, chirpy as a blue bird, her shift trauma-free for once.

“Not tonight, Janice, I’m still not feeling very good.” The image of my other self perched on a stool at the far end of the bar, possibly raising a toast, was too hard to stomach.

‘You haven’t been outside for ages, Natalie, not even for work…you’ll end up getting fired. What’s going on with you?” Janice pressed.

“I’ll meet my doppelganger and die if I go outside,” I burst into tears, knowing how ridiculous I sounded.

“You know there’s no such thing. You need to get help, Natalie. I’ve got a therapist friend who works at the hospital. I’ll fix you up an appointment.” She wrapped me in a comfort hug.

“You’re booked in for ten o’clock this morning.” Two days later Janice grabbed my arm and pulled me through the front door; I didn’t stand a chance.

“You won’t meet yourself between here and St. Margaret’s.” She smiled reassuringly and we set off down the street.

“Excuse me,” a hand tapped my shoulder as we waited to cross the busy main road. I turned around and my shriek froze the blood of everyone close by, before I stepped backwards off the footpath into the path of an articulated lorry.

“I didn’t mean to frighten her,” tears ran down the anguished face of one of the two men who’d been standing behind me. He was holding a large six-feet square mirror which they were carrying across to the framing workshop across the road. “I just wanted to ask her to step to one side.”

Summary of Story 2

The narrator, let’s call her Sue (although I realised after recording this that she’s actually called Nathalie in the story!) lives with her flatmate Janice. 

One day Janice reads a line from a scary book she’s reading. It says that if you ever meet your doppelganger, you’ll die.

Sue doesn’t usually believe that kind of thing, but the idea gets into her head and as she is leaving the house one day, she suddenly gets scared that she might meet her doppelganger, and die.

So she decides to stay at home.

In fact she keeps staying at home, every day. The idea of meeting her doppelganger has made her too terrified to leave the house.

Janice gets worried about Sue and arranges for her to meet a therapist, and assures Sue that nothing can happen to her on the way.

Sue agrees to leave the house, but at the main road someone taps her on the shoulder.

Sue turns around and sees her own reflection.

The man who tapped her on the shoulder was trying to carry a mirror across the road.

He wanted to ask her to step to one side, to make space.

But Sue turned around and saw her doppelganger – her reflection in the mirror and screamed!

Then she stepped back, into the road, and was hit by a large lorry.


That’s the end of the episode, but check out LEP Premium.

I’m going to do a premium episode all about this second doppelganger story. 

All the vocabulary (with a memory test), some grammar, some pronunciation practice.

I’ll go through the vocabulary and some grammar and I’ll do some pronunciation practice with it too, just like I did with the 100-word story.

791. ADJECTIVE + PREPOSITION with Amber & Paul (A+P with A&P on LEP)

Amber and Paul join me in my pod room again for a rambling discussion about everything! Includes a language point about adjective + preposition collocations. Notice the phrases and try to find examples of them in context. Video version available.

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Video Version (Automatic subtitles available)


Check out the premium series which accompanies this episode (P39 parts 1-3) 👇

Sign up to LEP Premium to get the 3-part series of episodes (audio, video, PDFs) about the language point in this episode.

  • P39 Part 1 – All about the grammar of prepositions and how they fit into sentences, including plenty of vocabulary and a quick pronunciation exercise at the end
  • P39 Part 2 – Let’s go through my list of adjective + preposition phrases from the conversation with Amber & Paul. I’ll test your memory and help you notice the target language, while clarifying some of the adjectives. Also includes discussion questions for free practise.
  • P39 Part 3 – Pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation, pronunciation. The 5 Ps. There’s a focus on weak forms of prepositions, -ed endings of adjectives and 40 sentences to repeat after me.

Sign up for LEP Premium here and then add LEP Premium episodes to an app on your phone.


Some vocabulary in the episode

Here are a few words and phrases that you will hear us saying at the start of the episode.

  • Let’s do a wager. How long do you think it’s going to be?
  • I think he’s probably written a short introduction. The problem is he gets waylaid.
  • To go down a rabbit hole.
  • There is room for random rambling and tangents. I have factored that into the exercise. That’s all been factored in
  • If I’d been left to my own devices I think I would have cracked that in about 2 minutes, but because I kept getting interrupted by you two, it took longer!
  • Zero rigour. I’m not rigorous enough.