In this episode I am talking to Martin Johnston from the Rock n Roll English Podcast. Do you know the Rock N Roll English Podcast? This is where Martin and his Rock N Roll friends and family do podcasts for learners of English that are unfiltered and frequently involve discussions of taboo subjects, but also plenty of other stuff as well. It’s very funny and bound to be good for your English and general cultural knowledge. Martin featured me in episode 250 of RnR English and we talked about what it’s really like being an English teacher with a podcast. That was a funny chat with lots of memories and funny moments. Episode 250.
In this episode though, we’re going to have a rambling chat about moving to different countries, Martin’s fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees and then some stories of travelling and getting stuck in tricky situations while abroad.
Martin has recently moved back to England after living in Italy for a number of years, so I thought I would ask him about his experiences of feeling like a foreigner in his own country, and some of his culture shock experiences both abroad and at home. Because this is a thing – reverse culture shock. When you feel like a foreigner in your own country after living abroad for a long time.
Martin has also recently launched a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees. Basically it is a learning pack with 25 stories, and transcripts and exercises. All the proceeds go to help Ukrainian refugees. You can find out more at www.rocknrollenglish.com/stories
So this is a very good cause. We know that several millions of people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of this war, invasion, operation – whatever you want to call it. This violence and aggression has separated families and made civilians homeless as well as killing thousands. This is a horrendous thing to be happening on our doorstep and so the least we can do is try to provide support in some way, so I call upon all of you to go ahead and get that PDF with those 25 stories and all the money will go towards helping these refugees. Martin talks about it during the episode if you want more details. But let’s help out some fellow citizens of LEPland here. Plus, of course, you get tons of stories with audio versions and everything. It sounds like a win win to me.
So we chat about the project a bit, which is all about learning English with stories and this then leads us to have a story-off. This is a sort of battle of stories where Martin and I trade different anecdotes and we see who comes out on top. So there are 4 or 5 funny stories of travelling experiences we’ve had, in the second half of this episode. I hope you enjoy them.
That’s it for the introduction. There is a video version on YouTube. Don’t forget to smash that like button.
I should say there is some fairly explicit content in this episode, which means fairly graphic descriptions of things like nudity, sex and bodily functions, which is completely normal for an episode of Rock n Roll English to be honest.
I’ll speak to you again briefly at the end, but now, let’s get started.
So there you are, that was Martin Johnston. I hope you enjoyed our stories.
Don’t forget, if you want to get that pack of 25 stories by the RNR English family, go to www.rocknrollenglish.com/stories It costs just 10dollars or pounds, and all the proceeds go to help Ukrainian refugees.
This is obviously a very good cause as so many people have been displaced, made homeless and so on and these people need our help.
If you enjoyed our stories in this episode, you could check out some of the episodes with those stories told in full.
Check out 118 Sick in Japan (although I should be doing a live version of that next month) and also Holiday in Thailand
or A Rambling Chat with Moz for more of the spa story
Some other things you could listen to while waiting for new episodes of LEP.
Film Gold: Monty Python & The Holy Grail
I was invited by Antony Rotunno onto one of his podcasts last week to discuss this British comedy classic.
My appearances on ZEP and RNR English at the end of last year
Episode 759 – Notes
I thought I would quickly record an episode to let you know that I’m still alive, LEP still exists, and I just want to give you a bit of an update on what’s going on and have a bit of a ramble.
I have other episodes in the pipeline and I was hoping to upload one of them this week, but for one reason or another, that’s not going to be possible so I’ve decided to record this one quickly and upload it quickly.
Again, I’m just recording this on my handheld recorder but I’m not at home because I can’t record at home, so I’m just in the street, reading some notes from my phone.
Why aren’t you recording this at home Luke?
There are guys working on the flat above ours now.
We are now experiencing what our downstairs neighbours experienced when we did work on our place.
Our flat and the flat upstairs were sold at the same time.
You can just imaging you are hanging out with me (in the streets of Paris) while I’m recording this. I’m just going walk around the neighbourhood while recording, trying to avoid noise, and trying to avoid the weird stares I might get from people in the street.
It’s been more than 3 weeks since I uploaded an episode and this is only the 4th episode in about 2 months I think.
I told you that the podcast would be delayed and disrupted, right? So it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Why haven’t there been any episodes for almost a month?
Time races by.
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)
I always wondered what John Lennon meant by that.
I guess he is expressing a kind of paradox that many of us live with.
While making plans for the future, real life just happens in the meantime, day by day, moment by moment.
We aim for the future, we set our sights on things we would like to achieve, and make plans for those things.
But the fact is, life is really lived in the present, and while we are making plans, life just continues to happen to us in the present moment.
I guess he is saying that we mustn’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the moment.
I suppose for me at the moment, I mean that while making plans for this podcast, mainly the space in which I’m going to record it, real life has just been happening day by day.
In fact, real life and the day to day tasks and challenges of it have been dominating my time recently, preventing me from being able to actually get to do the things I have been planning.
I’ve had a goal in mind for ages – sitting in my new podcast room which is more or less ready, with all my stuff arranged in a fairly tidy way (things on shelves, in drawers, guitars on walls, pictures or posters on the walls, a working internet connection, a decent desk, a comfy chair (which I might spend most of my life sitting on) the right kind of lights, a kettle, a backdrop for videos that looks pleasing to the eye, a computer which actually works and which allows me to record and edit audio and video properly, and so on and so forth, a kettle and cups of tea, another chair or two for guests… you know) but that goal or vision just keeps getting put back and put back.
Why? I can’t really even explain it – just general stuff has been getting in the way. I think a lot of people manage to move house and get back to their normal lives quite quickly, but this just seems to be taking ages and it’s because of lots of little things.
Here are some reasons why things are taking so long.
My daughter got sick with covid and I had to stay at home to look after her. My wife was also sick at the same time (not covid, mysteriously) and so I was off work looking after them. That was a week.
Teaching at the BC three mornings a week.
Wednesday afternoons with my daughter.
Not a massive amount of time. Normally it’s enough – in normal conditions, but these aren’t normal conditions.
I got sick – a couple of times actually. The first was a virus (not covid-19 – maybe covid-18 or one of the other covids). The second was a really bad back which caused loads of discomfort and a migraine. I couldn’t move, basically! Probably because of general stress but also the fact that I hadn’t sat on a comfortable chair for weeks. No sofa.
Washing machine delivered, but then broken – laundrette
Meeting with guy to fit radiators
Meeting with guy to get quotes for lots of other stuff at home, like making fitted shelves (beyond my skills) and other bits of carpentry
Meeting a guy for a quote for electricity at my office
Meeting guy who came to connect internet
Many other deliveries and things
The list goes on!
Now it’s the school holidays and we’re travelling tomorrow to the UK.
I might be able to record an RT Report or a Gill’s Book Club or something with my brother, but equally, I might not. Maybe we’ll just want to relax and have a holiday. I don’t know. I will see.
Oh, and there are guys working on the flat upstairs, and guys working on the building opposite us. It’s like the entire city is under construction at the moment.
This is just what is going on in my small corner of the universe.
I am not complaining at all. I have a nice life and I’m very happy. But I’m feeling quite impatient and a bit frustrated at not being able to do the things I would like to do, and the fact that my goal keeps slipping further away from me. I will get there eventually! It’s like being in a car and using GPS, and the arrival time keeps changing and getting later and later as the GPS recalculates your route with delays and traffic and so on.
Bear with me
If you’re impatient – hang in there
It’s a bit interminable – all this waiting around
But good things come to those who wait.
The podcast will be back again, properly, and I will be recording, producing and publishing audio & video episodes and premium episodes at the usual rhythm soon.
Maybe this is a good chance to catch up on episodes, or listen to episodes from the archive…
James and Luke discuss designs sent in by listeners, and choose the winner(s). The prize: to have your design featured in the LEP Merch Store, plus an £80 reward! Listen for plenty of descriptive language, diplomatic language and ways of giving positive and feedback in English. Video version also available (with all the designs on screen) below.
Talking to my dad about the latest in the Brexit saga, including the current fuel crisis due to lack of lorry drivers and other problems which were predicted in the run up to the Brexit referendum in 2016. Video version available on YouTube and below.
This is The Rick Thompson Report, where I talk to my dad about politics, news, current affairs – which almost always means an update to the ongoing Brexit saga.
What’s going on in the UK at the moment? How is Brexit going? Remember before the referendum when predictions were made by experts who recommended that Brexit was a bad idea – do you remember any of the predictions? They were labelled by the pro-Brexit camp as “Project Fear” suggesting that critics of Brexit were just trying to make everyone scared about leaving the EU but it was all baseless and everything was going to be wonderful in a very non-specific way. Well, we are now getting to a stage where we can see if those predictions are coming true or not?
So, how long has the UK actually been out of the EU now? How’s it going?
In this episode I am happy to present to you a conversation with my mum, dad and brother all about old family stories and anecdotes from the past.
The episode is called Do you remember…? And that’s the title of the activity I chose for this episode. The idea is that we could generate some stories about things that happened in the past and you can follow along and see if you can pick up some English in the process, or simply enjoy a bit of storytelling on the podcast.
So you’re going to hear stories of little accidents, moments when James and I got into trouble, learning to drive and failed driving tests, how my parents first met each other and how my bottom lip was always left trembling at the end of every story.
We recorded this in my parents’ living room, sitting around after dinner and if you like you can imagine that you’re there too, listening into the conversation – not taking part though. For some reason you’re not allowed to speak, you can only listen like a weird audience in our living room just lurking in the background. Anyway, you can imagine that you’re there if you like, if it helps you to tune into the conversation and follow along more easily.
I will now leave you to enjoy this relaxed conversation, follow the stories and little jokes and I will speak to you again at the end of this episode.
So, that was my family, recorded in the living room recently while I was on holiday in England. I hope you enjoyed that.
Apologies if we repeated any stories you had heard before (perhaps all of them?) but then again it can be really helpful to hear the same stories over and over when learning English. You could even try to tell the stories yourself, and then compare your story to the recorded version.
If you want other, similar episodes from the archive, check out these ones.
79. Family Arguments & Debates (Debating things like language and politics)
A pre-holiday ramble in which I talk about learning English, moving to a new flat, the podcast over the next few months, football, being on Other People’s Podcasts, a recording of my daughter speaking English and a couple of songs. Video version available.
In this episode I am talking to Vickie Kelty from vickiekelty.com about playing games for learning and teaching English.
Vickie is an English teacher from the USA, currently living in Spain, and she absolutely loves games. She loves playing word games, speaking games, card games, board games. She is nuts about games and she really enjoys using various games in her English lessons.
So in this episode Vickie and I are going to talk about games that you can play that can be a fun way to practise your speaking, or practise different bits of grammar or vocabulary.
You could consider using these games both for learning and teaching English, and Vickie and I are going to be playing the games during this episode, so you’ll hear how they work and you’ll be able to play along too.
The theme for this episode is celebrities, or famous people, so as well as us playing these guessing and describing games, you will hear plenty of celebrity and movie star rambling and gossip too.
Here’s a list of the games we play and mention.
Games to mention
Games we played
The Lying Game (which is why this episode is so long)
If you want to find out more about Vickie, including some of the online courses she has to offer, just go to vickiekelty.com
OK, so this episode is long so I don’t want to add anything else here, except that I really hope you enjoy this episode and find it fun. I will talk to you again briefly at the end, but now let’s meet Vickie and play some fun games for learning English.
Consider using some of these games in your speaking practice or in your lessons if you are a teacher. They can be a great way to add some fun and some communicative incentives to your learning or teaching.
There’s nothing more for me to add here, except to say that I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now it’s time to say, goodbye bye bye bye bye.
Talking to my mum about a book which you could read as part of your English learning routine. The book tells the story of The Beatles and their impact on society. We review the book and then discuss many aspects of The Beatles story, especially the four Beatles themselves.
This is a new episode of Gill’s Book club and I’m talking again to my mum, Gill Thompson about a specific book which you might want to read as part of your English learning routine.
Hello Mum, how are you?
The book this time is all about The Beatles, which is a band from England that you *might* have heard of.
You could read this book, and if you did I’m sure you would learn plenty of things both in terms of language and general knowledge, but there’s no pressure to do so. If you like, you can just listen to this conversation with my mum and hopefully this will be interesting and useful enough on its own.
But if you are looking for a good book to read in English, then this one could be a good choice, and hopefully this conversation will help you to understand the whole thing a bit more, which in turn should help you pick up more English from it. So, my advice is: listen to this conversation with my mum and if you’re inspired, get a copy of the book and read it, or if you prefer, just listen to us without feeling any pressure to read the book at all. Hopefully this will still be enjoyable and interesting even if you haven’t read the book and have no plans to do so.
Over 700 episodes and 12 years ago, in the 3rd episode of this podcast, I interviewed my mum about her memories of seeing The Beatles performing live on stage in the 1960s, which she did, twice.
Now, we’re going to talk about the band again, this time focusing on a book which is all about the Beatles phenomenon and their place in history. The plan is to review the book as a text for learners of English, and then have a deeper discussion about The Beatles.
You probably know that I’m a big fan of The Beatles and grew up with their music, as my parents were (and still are) fans too. For years I’ve been thinking about doing more episodes about The Beatles story, and mentally preparing myself for it, but I have never actually got round to recording anything, mainly because the topic is just too big and there’s too much to say! But finally I have actually recorded some episodes that might scratch the surface of this topic a bit, and hopefully will give you something insightful and interesting to listen to, whether you are a fan of this band or whether you know almost nothing about them at all.
So this is going to be the first in a series of episodes in which I talk about Beatle-related things. There’s this one with my mum and then a few episodes with another guest who is an English teacher and something of an expert on The Beatles, and John Lennon in particular.
So, Beatle episodes are coming. I suppose, for some of you, episodes about The Beatles are like busses. You wait ages for one and then loads of them arrive at the same time.
And by the way, I am certainly not forgetting the main focus of this podcast, which is all about helping you learn English. I think The Beatles can help you learn English, reading is very important in learning English, and so why not do some reading about The Beatles?
Plus, later in this Beatles series there will be some language-focused episodes, using The Beatles as a context – focusing on some specific descriptive vocabulary and also some analysis of the Beatles’ song lyrics.
Maybe you’re not a fan of The Beatles. This is fine. I’m not going to try to convince you that you should like their music. That’s a matter of taste. But I do think that their story is something else entirely. I think it is hard to deny the fact that the story of these 4 individuals, the things that happened to them and the impact they had on the world – this is all simply fascinating. It’s an epic story. So, even if you don’t like the music, I hope you stay just for the story.
Now, let’s start this episode of Gill’s Book Club, talking about a recently published book about The Beatles.
Length – Is it a long book?
It’s long (642 pages) but the chapters are short, so it’s possible to read it in little chunks.
It’s available in audiobook and Kindle versions.
Appropriacy for Learners of English
The language is modern and plain in style. It’s quite literary of course, because it is a book and not a screenplay or something, but generally speaking it is clearly written and should be readable for learners with an Upper Intermediate level or above, although there will be some difficult words of course, but that’s good. I would say that overall the style is modern, neutral and definitely the kind of English that I would recommend as a good model of English for my listeners.
The short chapters make the whole thing quite easy to digest. It’s in bitesize chunks.
You can dip into it and you don’t necessarily have to read it in order. It’s almost like a collection of essays.
The audiobook version on Audible is good – different voices and voice actors doing different accents, including pretty good impressions of the main people involved.
Why is it called “One Two Three Four”?
This is the first thing you hear on the first song on side 1 of The Beatles’ first album “Please Please Me”, released in early 1963 – You can hear Paul McCartney counting the band in at the start of the song by saying “1, 2 , 3 , 4”. Also, there were four Beatles, so…
So there you have it, after more than 700 episodes I finally returned to the topic of The Beatles with my mum and I think it’s fair to say that we went into quite a lot more depth than we did in episode 3 back in 2009, although episode 3 does include stuff we didn’t mention here, specifically my mum’s account of actually seeing The Beatles perform live, twice. So check out episode 3 if you haven’t done so.
Also you could check out that episode in which I asked my uncle Nic to tell us about the time he met Paul McCartney. He told the story in episode 414, and not only has he met Paul, he’s also played football with the members of Pink Floyd and hung out with The Who backstage at one of their concerts, and more. So check that one out too. Links for those episodes are on the page for this one on my website of course.
I really hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. I must admit that although I feel compelled to talk about this subject at length, part of me is concerned that this is all too much for my audience but I suppose those people who aren’t into this can just skip this stuff. It’s completely up to you. But do let me know what you think.
Remember, any time you have any thoughts about what you are hearing on this podcast, if you have responses or comments in your head as you listen, you can express them in English and I will read those comments, and so will many other LEPsters. The best place to leave your comments is on the page for the relevant episode on my website. Go to EPISODES in the menu and find the relevant episode page, scroll to the bottom and that’s where you will find the comment section. I am curious to see what you think. Any Beatle fans, get in touch. Non Beatle fans, I want to know what you’re thinking. Remember, sometimes doing this podcast is a bit like talking into the void and not quite knowing what people are thinking while I’m doing it.
I won’t talk much more at the end here, except that of course there are millions of things I wish I could have mentioned or talked about in this conversation.
We didn’t talk enough about Ringo!
There are also loads of other people and events that I wanted to mention.
I hope I didn’t talk too much.
Just in case this wasn’t quite enough rambling about The Beatles on this podcast, remember there are four (count them) four more episodes on The Beatles to come, but hopefully those episodes will be different enough to justify this series.
Anyway, 4 more Beatle related episodes are coming up.
One is a discussion about John Lennon.
Another two are language focused and we’ll be talking about adjectives for describing personality traits.
And the last one is about Beatles song lyrics and little phrases and idioms that you can learn from them.
So it’s not just rambling about The Beatles, although that will be part of it too.
Thanks again to mum for her great contribution to this episode, and yes I am lucky to have a mum who is this cool. I appreciate that and I’m really glad to get her voice on the podcast along with my other guests.
And thank you as ever for listening all the way to the end, you are the best.
Take care, look after yourselves and each other and I will speak to you again soon. I think the next episode will be Michael from Poland. But until then it’s time to say good bye bye bye bye bye.
This conversation with competition runner-up Tasha Liu is a way to get to know Chinese culture in a more personal way including the story of how Tasha’s father gave up drinking alcohol, and other interesting details about real life in the world’s most populated country.
How are you doing? Thanks for choosing to listen to my podcast today. I hope you enjoy it.
In this episode you’re going to hear me in conversation with Tasha Liu from China, the listener of this podcast who came 2nd in the WISBOLEP competition.
Let me explain quickly what the WISBOLEP competition is, for that one person who doesn’t know.
If that’s you, and you don’t know what WISBOLEP is → Hello! I’m now going to explain it to you in one single sentence. You’re welcome.
Here it is. The competition, summarised in one single sentence.
WISBOLEP stands for Why I Should Be On Luke’s English Podcast and is a competition I ran at the end of last year in which the prize was to be interviewed by me in an episode, the winner of the competition being the one who received the most votes from listeners after I played all of the 2-minute recordings sent in by the competitors in episode 692 of this podcast.
There you go.
Walaa Mouma from Syria was the overall winner. You may have heard her episode. It was published last month. If you haven’t heard it, I highly recommend that you do so! It’s episode 703 and Walaa explained in some detail how she improved her English to a good level, despite the hardships that she faced in her life. It was an inspiring episode, to say the least. We focused on Walaa’s approach to learning English – both her attitude and specific things she has done and continues to do to improve her skills. So the focus was definitely on learning English.
The conversation in this episode though, focuses mostly on cross cultural understanding.
Walaa is quite a hard act to follow, but we’re not comparing here. It’s not a competition you know! Wait, it is a competition, isn’t it? It totally is competition, isn’t it. It was a competition anyway. But for me, the competition part is done, and now it’s just a case of listening to LEPsters who were chosen by the people who voted in this competition.
And the spirit of this competition was always about this: Finding some interesting guests to talk to on the podcast and letting some LEPsters speak a bit and share their experiences. Let’s see what insights we can learn from other learners of English around the world. And let’s celebrate the citizens of LEPland! Everyone has a story to tell. We can all learn things from each other. All we have to do is just listen.
So, now that I have said that, here’s a brief overview of the content of this chat.
There’s a bit of “getting to know you”, as this is the first time I’ve ever spoken to Tasha, so we talk a bit about her studies, where she lives and so on.
Then we move onto the things she hinted at during her competition recording – and overall these things are ways to get to know China and Chinese culture a little bit more, in a personal way. So this is a cross-cultural exchange here and a chance to get beyond the stereotypes and cliches and find out some real things about life in the most populated country in the world.
There’s the story of how her father managed to stop drinking, which might tell us some things about family life in China.
Then we talk about some of the commonly-held beliefs about China (particularly beliefs held in the west) such as the way Chinese people eat (do they, as the saying goes, “eat anything with 4 legs except the table, and everything that flies except planes”? (and helicopters I suppose), or are they more discerning in their eating habits than that? Another assumption that people might have is that China is quite undeveloped in certain ways compared to the west, or how it could be ahead of the west in various ways too, like the way technology is used – payment systems for example, and the idea of the cashless society.
And there’s more detail about what it’s really like living in China today.
Just a heads up: There were some technical difficulties during the recording, due to a slightly poor internet connection between the two of us. This meant that sometimes we couldn’t hear each other properly or the connection just failed. I think I’ve saved it in the edit, but there may be a few moments where the bad connection affects our conversation. It shouldn’t be too bad, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.
OK, now I’ve done my introduction, let’s get started properly, and here we go!
So that was Tasha Liu from China. It was really interesting to talk to her and I got that amazing feeling that you get when you actually talk to someone who lives in a completely different part of the world and in a different culture but you just connect as human beings.
That’s always special – talking to people from other places and getting a glimpse of how they live their lives and the fact that although we’re different in many ways, we’re also really similar in the fact that we’re still having human experiences ultimately.
It’s easy to forget but I feel like as humans we have many more things in common than differences. We’re all humans living on earth (as far as I know – you might be an alien on another planet as far as I know) but we’re all having a human experience ultimately, and so there are many more things that unite us than divide us, aren’t there?
I’m sounding a bit pretentious there, possibly, but hopefully you know what I mean.
Here are some reflections – just things that I thought about after having that conversation.
These are reflections about cross cultural understanding.
When we think about other cultures or experience them, there is a tendency to not fully understand those other cultures, and as a result we jump to conclusions about them, probably based on the fact that we’ve never had proper experiences of those cultures, never met or talked to those people properly and never observed things from their point of view. This is normal I suppose because we can’t always be everywhere and see everything.
We end up with limited views of other cultures, which might also be informed by other people’s attitudes, like “these people are just unsophisticated” or “it’s such a backward society” and this could be in any direction. It could be, in a broad sense – the west looking at the east, or the east looking at the west, and not just east and west, any culture thinking about another culture – we often don’t see the whole picture. We are all humans, but there are all sorts of complicated reasons why we behave or live slightly differently.
We are all the same, but our contexts are different.
That’s it really. I could ramble on more, but I think I’ve said enough.
I wonder what your thoughts are, now that you’ve listened to this conversation. What reflections do you have?
I found it really interesting to talk to Tasha, and I just want to thank her again for telling us her stories, and for being willing to share her comments about her country. Also, congratulations to her! 2nd place is certainly nothing to be sniffed at.
Right then. More competition runners up will appear on the podcast in due course.
Next up in the WISBOLEP series will be William from France. That will probably arrive in a couple of episodes’ time. I had a really nice conversation with him, which I think was just as insightful as the other WISBOLEP conversations we’ve had so far. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation with Tasha and the one with Walaa, then I think you’ll like hearing William’s story as well.
That’s coming up on the podcast soon.
I’m working on new content all the time, including new Premium episodes which will arrive in the LEP app before too long.