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 👑.
To qualify for British citizenship, one of the requirements is to pass the “Life in the UK” test. Questions cover things like British history, British life & culture, British politics, British geography and principles of modern British life. What do you think? Can you pass the test? Join me as I test online English teacher Cara Leopold (leo-listening.com). How much does she know about her own country of origin? What can you learn about Britain? What IS Britain anyway? Find out in this episode! Video version available.
☝️The audio version contains 15 minutes of extra rambling from Luke at the end.
👇Video version with questions & answers on the screen
Cara’s website 👉 www.leo-listening.com (Cara specialises in helping English learners understand fast speech by listening to films and TV series)
Life In The UK Practice Tests 👉 www.lifeintheuktests.co.uk
✍️ What do you think should be included in the Life In The UK Test?
Can you guess if these “facts” about the UK are true or false? James and Luke read out the facts and then discuss them one by one. Learn some odd things about the UK, pick up some vocabulary about laws and customs, and try not to laugh on the bus.
Video Version (with facts written on the screen) Try activating automatic subtitles
Hello everybody, before I play this episode I think I should give a kind of disclaimer about the content. I just want to say two things.
So this is an episode about Britain recorded with my brother in August, which is obviously before we all got the news that The Queen had been taken ill and had died, and we do talk about The Queen a few times during the episode, but of course she is no longer with us and now we have King Charles III.
So, firstly, the things we say about The Queen will be a bit anachronistic now as you listen to it – anachronistic, meaning belonging to the past, and a bit out of step with the present. So that’s the first thing – this was recorded when the Queen was still alive and when she was the head of state, which is now obviously no longer the case, so there are a few little anachronisms and we refer to The Queen in the present tense.
And secondly, when we do mention The Queen and a lot of other things, it’s done in a humorous way – and I’m aware that some people might find that inappropriate, but we aren’t really mocking her harshly or specifically. We copy her voice a bit and parts of the episode are just a bit silly and funny, but our intentions are decent. I don’t think we could be indicted for treason or anything like that. So, I hope you take it all in the spirit of good natured British humour, which is our intention, and let’s remember that The Queen has been praised a lot over the last week or so for her good sense of humour, so hopefully she would see the funny side (but who knows) In any case, I think it’s ok and I’ve decided to publish this. I hope you enjoy it, and actually I hope you see it as a sort of celebration of British stuff, for what it’s worth.
Alright then, now I have said that. Let’s start the episode properly. Here we go.
— Jingle —
50 Random British Facts (True or False Quiz) with James [Part 1]
Hello listeners, welcome back to my podcast.
Are you ready to do some more listening, to improve your English?
If the answer to that question is “Yes” then, good! Keep listening!
Here is a new episode featuring James, my older brother. This is a 2 part episode actually, and you’re listening to part 1.
In this one you’re going to hear James and me discussing various facts about the UK, that’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of course. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A few weeks ago, James and I came up with a list of 50 facts about British life, customs, laws, history and culture, which we could talk about on this podcast. We thought you might find it interesting.
So that’s what you’ll hear. But the thing is – some of these facts are true and some of them are not true. They’re false, completely made up, invented by James and me.
So the game is, can you guess which of these facts are true and which ones are false?
Here’s how this is going to work.
First, you’ll hear us reading out our list of so-called facts and you can decide if you think they’re true or not
and then we will discuss each fact, we’ll reveal if they are true or not and we’ll explain some bits of language and culture along the way.
On the subject of vocabulary, two things:
- You will find a list of all the “facts” on the page for this episode on my website. They’re all written there for you, so you can go and read them if you like. If you hear a word and you’re not sure what it is, you can check all the sentences there. Also, I recommend trying to read those sentences out loud. All the facts – try reading them out loud. It’s quite good pronunciation practice. You can then compare your version to the the way James and I read the sentences, and perhaps you can shadow us, or repeat the sentences after us. Some of them are actually quite challenging, quite difficult to say clearly as you’ll see. That’s just something you could try doing. There are always other ways to push your English with these podcasts beyond just listening, or if you prefer not really doing any extra practice or anything you can just sit back, listen, enjoy and eat a chocolate biscuit.
- Some of the facts presented here are about UK laws, and you might hear a few different words to describe laws – things like this:
- A rule
- A law
- To Ban / to be banned
- An act of parliament
- Provisions in an act
- A royal decree
- An initiative
- A custom / to be customary
I’ll go through those words briefly at the end of the episode, giving you a little tiny taste of LEP Premium, with definitions, explanations and a couple of examples, just to make sure you understood the full meaning and difference between them, because lots of words like that will just pop up in this episode and you might think “Hold on, how many words for laws and rules are there? What’s the difference between a law, an act, a decree and legislation?
If that’s you – just listen on until end of this part to hear some vocabulary explanations from me, which no doubt will just be really helpful.
This is an audio-only episode, but if you are listening on YouTube you will see that the facts are written on the screen with a few pictures to illustrate them in most cases, which again should help you not only understand everything but also to notice vocabulary, with your eyes, and your brain.
And you can always switch on the automatic subtitles in English on YouTube, which are surprisingly accurate these days.
But now, that’s enough waffle. Let’s get started with part 1 of this, recorded at my parents’ home in England a couple of weeks ago, during the summer holidays, just after we’d eaten a large lunch with the whole family.
OK, so, this is part 1 of 50 Random British Facts, with James.
Random British Facts 1 – 25
True or False? 👉 Listen to the episode to find out the answers.
- In a recent poll by The BBC, 71% of British people said that British food was the best in the world. Examples given included curry and lasagne.
- 8% of British people live in London.
- Work meetings in the UK often commence with a short joke before people get down to business. The joke is usually printed on slips of paper or distributed in advance by email.
- All pubs must have a picture of the Queen displayed somewhere behind the bar.
- Another way to say “thanks” in the UK is to say “Ta”
- Big Ben is the nickname of a large clock tower in Westminster.
- British people drink 100,000,000 cups of tea a day.
- Cockfighting is illegal, but heron fighting is still commonly practiced in rural areas.
- During the Second World War a fake “mock up” of London was built in the Kent countryside with an intricate system of lights, to confuse German bomber pilots during nighttime air-raids.
- Every year on the 5th November children burn an effigy of a Catholic terrorist who once attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the King’s visit.
- Every year the Mayor of London is given a dozen oxen as part of his annual pay packet. The livestock are usually donated to a charity of the Mayor’s choice, or slaughtered.
- A recent excavation of the site of Shakespeare’s former home in London turned up a number of clay pipes containing the residue of cannabis resin or “hashish”.
- In the UK, by law, if one man’s dog gets bitten by another man’s dog, the owner of the dog that did the biting must buy the other man a pub lunch, or something else of equivalent value.
- If the UK flag is flying at Buckingham Palace it means the Queen is in the building. FALSE – It’s the Royal standard.
- If you live to be 100 years old you will receive a personal letter from The Queen in the post.
- In 2020, English winemakers Langham Wine Estate of Dorset won the International Wine & Spirit Competition Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year, which is one of the most prestigious awards a winemaker can win. They beat every top French Champagne brand in the competition.
- In 1976 a huge rat was discovered in the London sewer system. The police lost 2 dogs in their attempt to capture and destroy the animal.
- In the UK we drive on the left side of the road, but in 1987 the UK government introduced plans to switch from driving on the left to driving on the right, to bring the country in line with European standards. The initiative, which was eventually scrapped, was to be phased in over a period of 6 months, with heavy goods vehicles and buses switching first, followed by cars and then motorbikes and bicycles.
- It is always raining, somewhere in the UK.
- It is customary to buy a packet of crisps to be shared while having a drink in a pub, and the crisp packet is often ripped open in a certain way to allow everyone to take crisps from the bag. (crisps, not chips)
- It is customary to make tea for any tradesmen (plumbers, decorators) who visit your house.
- When going to the pub with friends or colleagues, it is customary to order drinks in rounds.
- It is illegal in the UK to be drunk in charge of a horse.
- It is illegal in the UK to be drunk on licensed premises (a pub).
- It is illegal to carry a plank of wood along a road in the city of London.
To be continued in part 2…
So, that is the end of part 1. How many did you get right?
You are keeping track of your score, right?
It might be tricky to keep track of your score, which is fine of course.
To be honest, I don’t expect you to do that really. But I wonder if you generally managed to guess which of those things were true and which ones were bollocks.
Did anything surprise you? Did anything amuse you?
Let us know by leaving your comments in the comment section.
That was only the first 25 facts of course. We’re not done yet. This will all continue in part 2 when we look at facts 26-50, in the same way. I guess you can just look forward to that. It will require all your patience to do so, but I believe in you. You can do it.
Now, let me go through some vocabulary, as I said I would earlier.
A lot of these facts deal with things like laws, government actions and also traditions or customs and so I thought I would just clarify some words which relate to those things. Yet again I am doing this on the free podcast as a little taste of the kind of thing you usually get in episodes of LEP Premium these days.
The words I’m going to talk about now are:
- A rule
- A law
- Legislation / to legislate
- To ban / to be banned
- An act of parliament
- Provisions in an act
- A royal decree
- An initiative
- A custom / customary
Words for different types of law or government action
- A rule (countable noun)
A rule is just something which says whether you are allowed or not allowed to do something. The difference between a rule and a law is that the word rule is more general and is used in all sorts of situations, not just by governments and the police etc.
Schools have rules (e.g. no chewing gum in the classroom), people’s homes have rules (e.g. no mobile phones at the dinner table).
Also, sports and games have rules, like the offside rule in football.
- A law (countable noun)
Laws are the rules which determine wether things are legal or illegal. They are made and introduced by the government and enforced by the police and justice system.
To break a law
We also have the word “law” (opposed to “a law”) which means the whole system of rules which determine what is allowed, not allowed, what people have the right and don’t have the right to do or have.
- Legislation (uncountable noun)
Legislation is another word for law, but it is uncountable.
Here are some sentences which basically mean the same thing:
The government created legislation banning the possession of handguns.
The government created a law (or laws) banning the possession of handguns.
So it’s the same as the word law, but we don’t say “a legislation” because it’s uncountable. Instead we would say “a piece of legislation”.
The government introduced new legislation banning the use of diesel cars in urban areas.
The government introduced a new law banning the use of diesel cars in urban areas.
Legislate is a verb
To legislate for or against something – which means to create laws to oblige people to do things, or to prohibit certain things.
The government in 2007 legislated against smoking in indoor public places.
- To ban something (verb)
This means to prohibit or stop something and it’s usually used in reference to government laws which make something prohibited.
Smoking was banned in public spaces in 2007.
The government banned smoking in 2007.
Sometimes the word ban is used in situations outside the legal system, for example –
Mobile phones are banned in the classroom.
A person can also be banned from a certain place, for example,
Dave has been banned from the golf club for starting a fight last week.
It can be a noun or a verb.
The smoking ban. There’s a ban on smoking.
The government banned smoking.
- An act of parliament
An act is a specific piece of legislation which creates law.
When politicians make laws, for example in the House of Commons in London, there’s a certain process and we use different words for that legislation during the process.
First the law is introduced by a member of parliament as a bill which is a written proposal for a law. The bill is discussed by the MPs in the House of Commons and the House of Lords and is voted on, and when that bill has been approved (including being given the Royal Assent by the Queen) it is written into law in the form of an act.
This act defines the law. It’s kind of like a contract. Each act, which contains various laws, has a name. For example, The Treason Felony Act 1848, which makes it an offence to do any action with the intention of deposing the monarch. This makes it illegal to plan or try to remove The Queen from the throne (or in fact to remove the crown from The Queen) and this includes planning and devising things in written form, spoken form and with the use of images etc. So that’s the Treason Felony Act, which was created in 1848, which makes it against the law to try to depose the monarch.
Another example is the The Data Protection Act 2018, which controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
And another example is the Homicide Act 1957, which makes it illegal to kill someone, or commit murder. By the way, it says 1957, but of course murder wasn’t legal before 1957, it’s just that in 1957 the law relating to murder or homicide would have been redefined somehow, and a new act was created, which contained provisions relating to all acts of homicide.
- A provision (countable noun)
This is like a specific section of an act of parliament, or a specific detail in an act of parliament. You also get provisions in contracts between people.
- A (royal) decree
A decree is an order that something must be done. A royal decree is when the king or queen orders that something must be done. These days it doesn’t happen in the UK, so royal decrees are only heard about when referring to history.
King Edgar in 957 decreed that all settlements (towns) in England were restricted to having only one “alehouse” per settlement. This was a law to try to control the number of pubs or places selling ale across the country. The decree lasted until after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 after which more and more alehouses, inns and pubs started arriving.
Here’s an example from The Bible, of a decree by a Roman Emperor.
The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 2 Verse 1
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David). To be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
- An initiative (countable noun)
- A custom (countable noun)
This is a way of behaving or doing something which has existed for a long time. It’s like a tradition.
The adjective is “customary” and is often used in the phrase:
It is customary to do XXX.
It was customary to do XXX.
It is customary to bring a gift to someone’s house if you are invited to lunch or dinner.
It’s customary in Japan to remove your shoes when you enter someone’s house.
It’s customary in the UK to shake someone’s hand when you first meet them, especially in more formal contexts.
- A crime
- An offence
These two words 👆 are synonyms.
End of part 1. Part 2 coming soon…
Chatting to English author & illustrator Penny Dale about her involvement in a counterculture arts movement from the 1970s, the Bath Arts Workshop. Video version and vocabulary list available.
Audio Version (with 30mins extra ramble at the end)
Transcripts and Vocabulary Notes
Intro 1 (audio – pre jingle)
Hello everyone and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast – a podcast for people learning English. British English in this case. My name is Luke. Welcome.
Here is a brand new episode for you. I hope you enjoy it! There’s a video version too on YouTube.
Yes, hello listeners! You might be able to hear my computer’s fan. There’s hiss in the background because my computer is working hard to encode the video version of this. *Luke rambles for a few sentences*
“Luke you’re rambling again!”
This is an interview episode with a guest. I should say that this might be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course! My guest and I are talking about a specific artistic and cultural movement that happened in England in the 1970s. I say specific, but it included many different types of art, theatre performance, music and community work – all packaged together in one movement, a movement which was quite revolutionary at the time, but revolutionary in the nicest possible way. That should become clear as you listen to this. Anyway – an alternative, subversive, counterculture arts movement.
The reasons I think this might be difficult for you to follow are: language (there’s a lot of vocabulary used to describe and discuss art & culture of various kinds) also the fact that there are references to things you might not know about already, including the names of artists, poets, musicians and specific locations in England (obviously, if you don’t know those reference points then things might get confusing), and simply the fact that this is quite a difficult arts movement to understand for anyone – native and non native speakers alike. Also, my guest and I aren’t really grading our English or slowing down a lot, and I’m aware of that. I am presenting this to you as a piece of authentic listening practise, which, can be really good for your English if you’re willing to tolerate the bits you don’t fully understand.
So it might be tricky to follow, but I do hope you persevere. I think that as you continue to listen, the concepts and events we are discussing will become clearer to you and really exploring things that you might not be familiar with can be a great way to pick up new language
So, this should be a chance to learn about culture and by extension the words we use to describe that culture.
The video version has some annotations on the screen (with vocabulary and pictures), and the notes on the website will also include a vocabulary list, which will help you if you check it.
Right, let’s get straight into it then. There will be another little introduction from me, but that’s what I do isn’t it? I’m only trying to help.
Leave your thoughts and responses in the comment section. I will chat to you again near the end of this conversation, but now it’s time for the jingle, and here it is.
Intro 2 😂 (after the jingle)
Hello listeners, hello video viewers,
As you know, in episodes of my podcast I often talk about language learning, and I often I teach you specific things such as vocabulary, grammar or pronunciation (especially in Premium episodes), but also on this podcast I do episodes which are not specifically about the English language or about learning or teaching English. I also like to present you with things that I hope are simply interesting to listen to, or episodes which focus on culture rather than language, and this episode is one of those. This is a conversation which focuses on British culture and art and it is an interview about an artistic movement which took place in England in the 1970s. So, it’s not about English, but it is all in English of course and I’m presenting it to you as part of your regular English listening practice.
This is an interview with artist, illustrator and author Penny Dale, who was one of the members of the Bath Arts Workshop.
Let me give you some context to explain how this interview was set up. This will not take 15 minutes, I promise.
First of all, there is a new book available – it’s just been published. It’s called “Bath Arts Workshop – Counterculture in the 1970s” and as the title suggests it is all about a counterculture arts movement which took place in the South West of England in the 1970s. We’ll explain what a counterculture arts movement means in a few minutes.
One of the people involved in that artistic movement, and also involved in the publishing of this book is Penny Dale. Penny is an illustrator and also an author of children’s books – an award-winning author, I might add. She’s illustrated and written some very popular kids’ books in the UK and we have a lot of them at home – my daughter loves them, but back in the 1970s she hadn’t begun that part of her career yet and was involved in this conceptual and subversive arts movement – The Bath Arts Workshop.
Penny is a friend of the family. She is a very good friend of my mum and dad, and in fact it was my mum who suggested that Penny could be a good person for me to interview and that both the Bath Arts Workshop and her career as a childrens’ author would be interesting things to ask her about.
So that’s the plan. This will be two separate episodes I think – one about the arts movement, and another one about the writing of childrens’ books. Part 1 and part 2. This is part 1 of course, so let’s focus on the Bath Arts Workshop.
And by the way – Bath is a town in the South West of England – we’re not talking about bath tubs where you go to wash yourself and play with yellow rubber ducks and little boats. No, this isn’t an art movement that involved people sitting in bathtubs – but then again it was the 1970s so that isn’t completely far-fetched.
Ok that’s probably enough of an introduction from me. Let’s now meet Penny and start the interview properly.
Vocabulary list for the Interview
[A premium episode about this language is in the pipeline]
- A workshop
- Inclusion / inclusivity
- Countering the elitism of modern art
- A hub for alternative technology, alternative art, alternative artists
- Students had grants that they didn’t have to pay back
- There was time and breathing space
- Being critical of the current state of affairs
- It was open to everyone, accessible. That was the ethos.
- Inclusivity was the thing.
- The workshop had sprung out of the London Arts Lab.
- He’d written letters to councils from all over the uk.
- Bath is a medium- size, fairly touristy city but full of incredible Georgian architecture.
- People coalesced really quickly
- Some finance was eventually achieved through grants from the local council
- The first event had been rained off
- We encountered these events before we knew what the workshop were (yes, “were” for a workshop – a collective noun, like team, government, group, police)
- A pastiche group
- I went along to a gig, just to help with costumes and props ostensibly and it was an eye-popping experience.
- It was a really tight outfit (a band, not clothes)
- Really glittery clothes
- You brushed shoulders with the likes of Roxy Music
- Conventional / unconventional
- We made domes out of scaffolding. Geodesic domes. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geodesic_dome
- Windmills, solar panels.
- Allen Ginsburg came and he was a real trooper.
- A pivotal figure in what came to be known as the counterculture.
- I’m flagging up these names that are well known, but there were also… the breadth of the programme in these festivals was huge.
- A wide variety of different things
- It seems like quite a large and complex organism. It can seem like a chaotic kind of thing. It’s all a bit vague and nebulous.
- It was potentially quite chaotic, but it wasn’t. It was quite a strong, central hub for arts and community.
- One thing was – premises. We had a really good premises for a while, that was a rehearsal space were you could cook and have an office and everything.
- premises = the building and land used by a business or organisation
– It is always wrtten with an S
– ⚠️ People say “a premises“,
– “the premises is” or “the premises are“
– All☝️are considered correct
- I found the music part the bit I was most intrigued by, myself.
- It was very all-consuming and busy, but fun.
- Maybe we can talk about impact. What about the impact of the BAW?
- Legacy is the word now, isn’t it?
Ending (with a bonus ramble in the audio version)
[This is a transcript of some of the things I said, but there’s a lot of extra, spontaneous talking in the audio version.]
So that was Penny Dale talking about the Bath Arts Workshop. Thanks again to Penny for that. I found it very interesting and it makes me think about my parents’ generation and the approach many of them had to things. That whole baby boom generation and the counterculture movement in general which I suppose includes things like the beat poets, hippies and all that stuff. I especially think of the music and the general ethos, which was that they could change the world with love. Were they idealistic and naive? Or not? I don’t see what’s wrong with a bit of peace, love and understanding myself. Love is all you need, right? Yes, but a bit of cash, a nice car, a decent apartment and maybe a new computer, and to have someone fix our washing machine, oh and a pair of shoes that fit me just right and don’t squeeze the sides of my toes – all those things would definitely help. I don’t know really, but I do think that the Bath Arts Workshop sounds like quite a beautiful venture, if you ask me, and it sounds like they had some great fun while doing it, and so on and so forth. I could go on.
You can leave your comments in the comment section as usual, if you have them.
Hello there! You’re still listening to the podcast. Nice one! Did you manage to follow this conversation?
Remember I said at the beginning that I’d put a vocabulary list on the website page for this episode. Well, I’ve done that, with some words or phrases that I think might have been hard, or which are worth picking up from the conversation.
I’m planning to do a premium episode in which I fly though them, just clarifying them a bit.
Sometimes I think I might go into too much detail in those premium episodes, and it’s ok to just say a few things about each bit of target language each time. So I will aim to do a kind of express premium episode as a way to recap and highlight some nice language from this conversation.
Let’s have a mini ramble here – and this is one of those times when I’m doing a written ramble – writing things down which I will record when the time is right. I like to mix up spontaneous speech and pre-written speech on this podcast. There are good and bad points of both. Mainly – the advantage of spontaneous speech is that it’s more natural and authentic and therefore a bit more human and engaging, but the advantage of pre-written stuff is that I can get some more control over what I’m saying. Anyway, I am still rambling here – pre-written or not.
My computer has stopped making that loud noise – it failed to encode the video, because there wasn’t enough storage space left on the hard drive. I’m sure you know the problem. Hard drive storage just gets eaten up so easily. Not only do I have to keep my flat tidy and organised, I also have to keep my computer tidy and organised and free of clutter, and my phone too for that matter! This is the world we live in. I will try encoding the video again later, after throwing a load of unwanted files into the trash – or rubbish bin as it should be called, if computers were British.
What’s going on in podcastland? Well, I’m recording this late on a Friday evening – maybe because I’ve got nothing better to do! Well, I could be watching TV or reading a book, playing the guitar or something else, but my wife and daughter are both asleep downstairs and so I thought I’d take this opportunity to catch up on a bit of podcasting.
I’m recording this probably before recording episode 750. This is episode 751 I think, which I will upload after 750, because that’s how numbers work, but I haven’t recorded 750 yet.
Does that make sense? I have a vague plan for episode 750 – probably something about being busy.
I like to record and publish in the same order, so there’s at least some sense of continuity. I know some podcasters will record something and then leave it for ages and kind of publish things in a different order to how they recorded, but I prefer to just publish and record as soon as possible.
I don’t know what I will say in episode 750, which means I don’t know what you have already heard me say, because even though right now I haven’t recorded that episode yet, there’s a good chance you are listening to this later and in your world you might have listened to episode 750 – I wonder what I said in that episode, or should that be, I wonder what I will say, or even, I wonder what I will have said? I’m in that weird limbo land where all those different verb tenses are possible. (Some people are confused now – even more confused than they were earlier).
Anyway, I think I will call it a day here. In a moment. I said before that things are a bit intense in my life at the moment – I am certainly not complaining, not at all, but I have a lot on my plate which means I’ve got less time for recording, editing etc. This means that I have lots of ideas building up in my head – podcast ideas – they sort of come to me at various moments, like when I’m teaching or when I’m walking to work, but then I can’t really turn those ideas into podcasts because of time constraints, but I’m trying to note them down for later.
I expect I’m repeating myself here, because I have a vague idea that I’ll talk about being busy and having things on your plate in episode 750. So, no need to continue at the risk of repeating myself, which is obviously a shocking crime that must be met with the harshest of punishments.
OK, the next episode will also be with Penny and it’s all about how she creates books for children, and this is actually a bit of a scoop because Penny is a really successful author of children’s books. They have won awards. They are in all the bookshops. One of her books was read out on BBCTV by Rob Delaney – a popular comedian. And her work is really great. Her illustrations in particular are absolutely lovely – very cute and adorable. So in episode 752 we can hear her talk about her process of creating these books, and it’s a nice cosy topic and I think it should be of interest to most LEPsters. So that’s something to look forward to.
So, I think this is a good moment to stop. Thank you so much for listening!
Speak to you again soon, but now it’s time to say good bye bye bye!
Learn English from some jokes in this episode as we go through 9 jokes chosen as the best of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe stand up comedy scene this year (2021). Let me tell you the jokes, see if you understand them, and then I will break them down for language learning opportunities. Video version available.
Episode Transcript / Notes
Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained
Hello listeners, hello video viewers. How are you? How is the world treating you today? Not too badly I hope.
Here’s a new episode. So stick with me. Listen closely. Pay attention. You can definitely learn some new English from this. Let’s get started.
It’s time to dissect the frog again as we look at some of the most popular jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of this year 2021. I’m going to read them to you and then explain them so you can understand them fully and also learn some new vocabulary in the process.
This is something I’ve been doing every year at the end of the Ediburgh Festival when the list of the most popular jokes is published in the newspapers.
Last year I didn’t do one of these episodes because Ed Fringe got cancelled due to Covid-19.
But the festival was back this year, so here we go again. Let’s find some popular jokes told by comedians at the fringe and use them to learn English.
Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Just in case you don’t know, the Edinburgh Fringe (full name: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe) is a huge comedy festival that happens every August in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.
Sometimes it’s called The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe, The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, Ed Fringe, just The Fringe or simply Edinburgh.
It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and every August comedians travel to the city in order to perform comedy to the large crowds of people who travel there.
For comedians August in Edinburgh is a huge opportunity to get exposure and experience, but it is very tough, especially at the beginning when you have to drum up an audience of people to come to your shows every day.
Just in case you didn’t know, stand-up is a form of entertainment that involves one comedian standing on stage with a microphone telling stories and jokes in an effort to make the audience laugh. It is an extremely popular form of entertainment in the English speaking world.
This episode is about specific jokes told by comedians during the fringe this year, but stand-up comedians don’t really just go up and tell individual jokes one after the other (except in the case of some specific comedians), rather they fit their jokes into stories, observations about the world or confessions about themselves.
However, this list of the “best jokes from the fringe” just picks simple one or two line jokes from people’s performances.
Lower Your Expectations Now 😅
I expect that taking these jokes away from their original performances will not help the jokes.
They will probably be less funny outside the comedy show that they came from because we’re going to remove the context of the joke, the attitude and personality of the comedian who told the joke and what was happening in the room that particular evening. All those elements have a huge impact on how funny the joke will be.
So, it’s not very fair to judge these jokes on their own like this, outside of their original context, but this is still an interesting experiment in learning English, so here we go.
Here’s how we’re going to do this
- First I will read each joke one by one.
- There are 9 jokes in total.
- How many jokes do you “get”?
- If you “get” a joke, it means you understand why it is funny.
- Ideally you will laugh, but you can also groan.
- If you don’t understand it you need to say “I don’t get it!”
- The main thing is: You have to notice and acknowledge that a joke has been told to you.
So, listen to the jokes, do you get them all?
- Then I will go through each joke one by one and I will break them all down, explaining exactly how they work, showing you double meanings, explaining any specific vocabulary or cultural reference points and giving you all the information you need to be able to understand these jokes properly.
There is a lot of vocabulary to be learned from this, which I will highlight as we go through and recap at the end.
So, get ready, it’s time to dissect the frog again.
Of course, I have to say the quote:
Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You can learn something from it, but the frog dies in the process.
I expect I will be killing all these jokes by explaining them.
You’re not meant to explain jokes, and if you do, the joke suddenly becomes less funny.
Most jokes work by surprise.
Getting the double meaning instantly is usually the only way to find a joke funny.
So I can’t guarantee that you will laugh at these jokes, but this is certainly going to be good for your English in any case.
A lot of these jokes use
- synonyms (different words with a similar meaning),
- common fixed expressions and sayings
- homophones (different words that sound the same)
- similies (finding similarities between otherwise different things),
- pull back & reveal (revealing extra information to change the situation)
Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021
I’m getting this list from the website Chortle.co.uk which is the UK’s number 1 comedy website.
1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.”
– Masai Graham
2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.”
– Ivor Dembina
3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.”
4. “The roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.”
– Adele Cliff
5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.”
– Leo Kearse
6 “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.”
– Will Mars
7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.”
– Sameer Katz
8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.”
– Rich Pulsford
9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.”
– Sameer Katz
Now let’s go through those jokes again and break them down so you can understand them fully, picking up bits of vocabulary along the way.
Broken down versions (sorry frogs)
1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.”
– Masai Graham
2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” – Ivor Dembina
Common phrase: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” – Tom Mayhew
To be into role play
Role play – pretending to be someone else, often during sex to make it more interesting.
To pretend to be someone / to do something
He pretended he was James Bond
She pretended she still loved him.
4. “The Roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.” – Adele Cliff
This is a pun – a word joke and it’s just that one thing sounds like something else.
“Julius Caesar” sounds like Julius sees her, which is why his wife hates playing hide and seek because Julius always sees her. Julius Caesar. I think you get it.
To play hide and seek
5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.” – Leo Kearse
Oooh, this is a bit of a groaner. That’s where you go Oooooh like it almost hurts.
“Heard it through the grapevine” is one of Marvin Gaye’s most famous songs.
“Herd” can mean to move a group of animals in a certain direction, like sheep or cows. You herd your sheep into a field.
Marvin used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. A vineyard is a place where you grow grapes for wine.
The grapevine is where the grapes grow, but there’s also an idiom “through the grapevine” meaning when you hear people gossiping about something, or you over hear people talking about something.
In the case of the song, he hears that his girlfriend is cheating on him and he hears it through the grapevine.
He heard it through the grapevine. He heard rumours or gossip about it.
He’d herd it through the grapevine. He attempted to move the sheep around through the grapevines of the plants in the vineyard.
To herd sheep
To hear something on/through the grapevine
This is too much of a stretch and if you get the joke please let me know. Write a comment in the comment section – do you get the Marvin Gaye joke?
6. “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.” – Will Mars
This is quite a clever little joke. Everything took longer in the past – travelling, communicating etc.
Marriages seemed to last longer, but everything took longer back then.
7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” – Sameer Katz
This is quite funny and of course it hits two of my favourite notes, well three in fact: Star Wars, France and speaking English.
There is a common misconception that French people arrogantly refuse to speak English in Paris let’s say,
but I find that French people are more willing to speak English than it seems, and in fact they’re a bit more shy than arrogant, and if a French person in Paris speaks French to you, that’s quite normal as you are in France.
Also, rather than being arrogant, a lot of French people just feel quite self conscious about their accent and certain common mistakes that French people often make. They also might have bad memories from English lessons at school which knocked all the confidence out of them, and they’re afraid to be judged by each other. So it’s more likely to be shyness than arrogance.
8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” – Rich Pulsford
This is a clever little joke.
To have an inkling means to have a suspicion or an idea of something.
“I don’t know who stole the last biscuit, but I have an inkling. Or I have an inkling of an idea who took that biscuit, and I think it was you!”
But an inkling does sound like a small spillage of ink from a pen. A small puddle of ink, or ink on your hand. An inkling.
What do we call that? I don’t know, but I have an inkling!”
To have an inkling
9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” – Sameer Katz
I’m not sure I have to explain that, do I?
Being humane means treating people in reasonable and humanistic manner.
Treating people with respect, dignity, justice.
Inhumane is the opposite – and although it includes the word human, we do use this word to refer to the cruel treatment of animals.
Keeping animals in a cage is inhumane.
Even though they’re animals, we still use the word inhumane, and this is just a funny little thing that can make you laugh when you notice it.
- A caesarean
- A C-section
- “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
- Halve (verb)
- To be into role play
- To pretend to be someone / to do something
- To play hide and seek
- To herd sheep
- To hear something on/through the grapevine
- To have an inkling
- A spillage
Going through 11 topical Christmas jokes for 2020, then a ramble about podcast statistics for 2020 and more… Merry Christmas everyone!
Introduction Transcript & Jokes
How are you doing today? I hope you are feeling fine. Are you feeling festive? Is it even possible to feel festive this year? Hopefully you’re finding a way to keep your spirits up as we speed towards Christmas.
I’m attempting to get the conditions just right here. I’m wearing a warm sweater, a nice thick pair of socks and I’ve got a log fire going on here (I haven’t really – it’s just a video loop of a log fire – I couldn’t have a real fire going, it’s far too warm for that, I’ve got the windows open! But let’s imagine I’m in front of a lovely cosy warm log fire and that it’s all snowy and freezing outside and I’ve just taken some time out from wrapping presents and drinking brandy to do this recording for you.)
I’m in Paris at the moment. I’m not making the usual trip with my wife and daughter back to England to see my parents and brother this year, because of obvious reasons. It’s a Parisian Christmas this year, which is also very nice. “Christmas in Paris is such a wonderful thing, red wine and roses, are perfect for staying in” – you could imagine some crooner singing that.
2020 is nearly at an end. It’s been a weird year hasn’t it!?
In this Christmas episode I’m going to go through 11 Christmas themed jokes that might put a smile on your face. These jokes make fun of the year that we’ve just had to deal with – 2020.
I’m going to tell you 11 jokes, then explain them of course one by one, and then I’ll have a bit of a ramble about podcast statistics, upcoming episodes and my best wishes for Christmas.
11 Christmas Cracker Jokes for 2020
What is a Christmas cracker? What is a Christmas cracker joke?
I probably explain this every Christmas time, but let me cover it again briefly. The Christmas cracker joke is a hallmark of a normal Christmas at home with the family. Everyone’s gathered around the table for a feast of roast turkey with all the trimmings and of course there are Christmas crackers decorating the table, one placed in front of each chair.
A cracker is like a tube which is pinched at both ends, and inside the tube there’s a paper party hat, a toy or puzzle or tool and a joke. The jokes are usually pretty awful things like “What does Santa have for breakfast? Snowflakes”. That kind of thing.
I did an episode last year about Christmas cracker jokes, it’s episode 631. https://teacherluke.co.uk/2019/12/16/631-29-awful-christmas-jokes-explained/
But this year I have trawled the internet for some alternative jokes that have some topical elements focusing on things like the British government, the coronavirus and things like that.
These jokes are being shared all over the internet on a lot of newspaper websites at the moment. They’re trending at the moment, especially the one about Dominic Cummings.
It would be good if Christmas crackers contained more topical jokes like these each year, instead of things like “How does Santa keep track of all the fireplaces he’s visited? He keeps a logbook.”
So I’ll read through the jokes, then I’ll explain them one by one. Let’s see how many of these you can get. It might also be a way to review some of the themes which have dominated our lives this year, certainly in the UK.
After I’ve been through the jokes I’m going to have a bit of a ramble again, and will do a little review of the year in podcasting, and wish you all a merry Christmas again.
By the way, this is the official Christmas episode. Happy Christmas everyone! If you don’t celebrate Christmas, then I’ll say simply “Seasons greetings to one and all!” Also, happy new year and good riddance to 2020.
There will be one other episode arriving after this one – that’s an episode with Paul and a hint of Amber too. I’ll release that during the holidays. Then I might take a bit of a break during the holiday, but I’ll be working on premium stuff to be uploaded when possible, and I’ll probably be doing a few little interviews, maybe a conversation or two with James, Dad, Mum. Those will probably be published in the new year, but we will see.
In any case, let’s now go through this list of dodgy jokes for Christmas 2020 and then I’ll ramble on to you a bit more.
11 Christmas Cracker Jokes for 2020
Let’s see how many of these you get. They’re either word jokes or cultural references to things that have happened this year. Also, there are bound to be words and phrases to learn here, and I will be going through all that properly during this episode.
- What is Dominic Cummings’ favourite Christmas song?
Driving Home for Christmas
- Why are Santa’s reindeer allowed to travel on Christmas Eve?
They have herd immunity
- Why couldn’t Mary and Joseph join their work conference call?
Because there was no Zoom at the inn
- Why can’t Boris Johnson make his Christmas cake until the last minute?
He doesn’t know how many tiers it should have
- How is the pandemic like my stomach after Christmas?
It’ll take ages to flatten the curve
- How can you get out of talking to your boss at this year’s staff Christmas party?
Just put him on mute
- How is Christmas exactly like your job?
You do all the work and some fat guy in a suit gets all the credit.
- Why is Parliament like ancient Bethlehem?
It takes a miracle to find three wise men there.
- Christmas dinner is a lot like Brexit. Half the family were told they needed to make room for Turkey, so opted to leave Brussels.
- Why doesn’t Jeremy Corbyn ever visit Santa?
Because he struggles in the poles.
- Why was the snowman looking through the carrots?
He was picking his nose.
A Year in Podcasting
Top 20 episodes this year
I released about 100 episodes this year, including all the premium content and other bits and pieces I’ve created and uploaded this year. That’s got to be the most productive year ever for LEP.
I guess since COVID-19 came along I’ve spent a lot of time indoors this year. Not much travelling and as a result I was very productive and you were also very attentive, listening more this year than in previous years.
In 2020 the podcast got over 13 million downloads (13,663,983 to be exact – at the time of counting – 18 December 2020), which is awesome and I think it’s the biggest year so far.
Here are the top 20 episodes from 2020
- 676. David Crystal: Let’s Talk – How English Conversation Works
- 660. Using TV Series & Films to Improve Your English
- 661. An Englishman in Los Angeles (with Oli)
- 682. Key Features of English Accents, Explained
- 655. Coping with Isolation / Describing Feelings and Emotions – Vocabulary & Experiences
- 663. The Lockdown Lying Game with Amber & Paul
- 637. 5 Quintessentially English Things (that you might not know about) with James
- 640. IELTS Speaking Success with Keith O’Hare
- 673. Conspiracies / UFOs / Life Hacks (with James)
- 669. How to Learn English
Here are the top countries for 2020
It’s the usual list to be honest!
- 20 Australia
- 19 Hong Kong
- 18 Saudi Arabia
- 17 France
- 16 Brazil
- 15 Vietnam
- 14 Thailand
- 13 Turkey
- 12 Italy
- 11 Ukraine
- 10 Korea
- 9 Germany
- 8 Spain
- 7 United States
- 6 United Kingdom
- 5 Poland
- 4 Taiwan
- 3 Japan
- 2 Russia
- 1 China
Top Podcasting Platforms
How are you listening?
- Apple Podcasts App
- Chrome – which must be Google Podcasts I expect, or maybe web browsers.
- The LEP App
Paul’s episode (with a hint of Amber)
Maybe something with James in which we ramble about a load of nonsense.
Something about The Mandalorian (perhaps with James, perhaps with someone else) but I don’t know all the comic book backstories and even the animated series like Star Wars rebels.
Some kind of Rick Thompson report, but we might be waiting until Brexit day, when the transition period ends. Boris Johnson is attempting to create a deal but there’s no way that deal would be better than just being in the EU itself, and anyway he probably won’t even get a deal at this rate. Will there be huge disruption at the borders, lack of stock in the shops and other repercussions?
Gill’s book club – 1,2,3,4 by Craig Brown – the book about the Beatles. McCartney III is out now by the way.
I keep wanting to do something about the Beatles but the topic is so huge that it’s hard to cover it all. Perhaps what I can do is a rambling story of the Beatles episode or series which tells the story, and it is an epic story with many elements to it. It’s hard to tell it because there are 4 people involved and more, but I might have a go at it. I could just try and do it all from memory. Probably be a 10 part series or something like that!
WISBOLEP conversations. These will be dotted out over the next few months I think.
More conversations with guests.
I have something in the pipeline about legal English, which is actually a lot more interesting than it sounds as we look at various aspects of the law and legal English, including stories of landmark cases involving dead snails and jaffa cakes. It should be a bit of an eye opening episode if you’re unfamiliar with legal English, but also just the thing you want if the world of law is your thing.
But now I will bid ye farewell for the time being.
When the Paul episode drops it probably won’t have a long intro or anything. It’ll go straight into the conversation. When I talk to you again, I’m not sure but it shouldn’t be too long before new episodes start arriving again.
So, merry Christmas one and all, seasons greetings and a happy new year to you and yours. Stay safe, be excellent to each other and I will speak to you again next time.
Dad picks his 3 British things to talk about in this episode which covers things like ancient history, British northern landscapes and the canal system which built the industrial revolution and changed Britain forever.
Hello everyone and welcome all of you this new episode. You’re listening to number 638 and this is the second part in the series I’ve decided to call Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about) in which I talk to members of my family about things that they think are significant or typical examples of Britishness in their eyes.
I’m assuming that you’ve heard the previous episode in which James told us about 5 interesting English things, now it’s my dad’s turn and we decided to just go for 3 things this time instead of 5 to make sure the episode didn’t go on too long.
So you’re going to hear my dad describing certain aspects of Britain that include things like ancient history, the geographical and geological nature of these islands and how the industrial revolution changed the country.
There’s plenty of very descriptive language from my dad, plus quite a lot to learn in terms of history and geography.
You’ll notice that it sounds a bit like the Rick Thompson report at the beginning as we discuss what it really means to be British as opposed to English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh and there’s talk of the Scottish independence movement but my Dad assures me that his 3 things can be considered British.
We recorded this together in the living room at my parents’ place on New Years Eve and in fact we were still recording at the stroke of midnight, so you can hear Dad and me wishing each other a happy new year, enjoying some fireworks on TV and seeing in the beginning of the new decade together.
I think you know the concept of the episode now, so I will just let you enjoy listening to my dad talking about some British things that he likes in particular.
So that was my dad with his 3 quintessentially British things.
As ever I invite you to write your comments in the comment section if you have any, and don’t be a ninja hiding in the shadows like the vast majority of my listeners!
All that remains to be done is for me to remind you to download the LEP app from the app store to get the entire episode archive plus loads of bonus extras, and also to sign up to LEP Premium where I teach you grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation using target language which has occurred naturally in normal episodes of the podcast. To get started with that, go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium
Right then! Thanks for listening and I’ll speak to you again in the next one, which is going to be 3 Quintessentially British Things, with Mum.
Luke wishes you a Happy New year and rambles about recent podcast statistics, new year in the UK, welcoming new listeners to the podcast, and some stories about travelling to the UK with a toddler by plane. Transcript available below.
Transcript (95%) and Notes for this Episode
Hello there and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast. I hope you’re doing fine wherever you are in the world. I’m back from my holiday and am now ready to record a new episode for you, and here it is – this is it right now, it’s actually happening and you are actually listening to it with your actual ears which should be connected to your actual head which contains your very real brain which is now processing sentences in English as you are hearing them. Welcome back to the podcast!
I have listeners all over the world. Let’s have a look at my top ten countries for 2019 to get a sample of where my audience is located.
In this one I’m going to do a few things, including welcoming any new listeners that I have here at the beginning of this new decade. I’m going to give a reminder about the aims and methods of this podcast for learning English. I’m going to talk about what I did during the Christmas holiday, give an update on my daughter’s English progress, give some news about the podcast and upcoming episodes, new year’s resolutions, a comment about one of my heroes who died on 29 December, and a few other bits and pieces. This might get long so it could be a double-ramble. We’ll see.
- How are you?
- Where are you?
- What are you doing?
- What’s the weather like?
- How are you listening to this?
- How long have you been listening to the podcast?
- How’s your English coming along?
New Year – New Decade – New Start → here’s to fresh new challenges for the 2020s and to another decade of listening to English with this podcast. I am looking forward to making more and more episodes this year and into the future, and I can’t wait to actually take ideas that are swimming around in my head and make them happen in upcoming episodes of this podcast. So many things to talk about, so many things to do, so much English to teach you.
Transcript / Notes on the website
By the way, I am reading most of this from a script that I’ve been writing for a couple of weeks. 90% of the episode is transcribed in advance, and the rest is being read from notes.
I haven’t been able to podcast during the last 3 weeks or so, but in spare moments I’ve been writing notes in a google document on my computer and my phone and I’ve put them together to make a sort of transcript for this episode. You can find the transcript on the page for this episode in the archive at teacherluke.co.uk You’re listening to episode 634.
Happy New Year!
Happy new year! I hope you had a good celebration. I expect new year is a bigger celebration around the world than Christmas. Certainly, in my experience living in other countries I’ve noticed that new year’s eve is recognised all over the world as the big event, with fireworks in all the major cities and so on. It’s pretty cool.
I wonder what you did out there in podcastland. What are the typical things that happen on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day in your country?
In the UK it sort of depends on your age.
When I was younger it was sort of mandatory to go out to a party or a club or something and when you get back to college or work everyone’s asking each other what they did for New Year’s. I remember many occasions when I went out in the centre of town with some mates for a nightmare evening of loud music, too much drinking, singing, hugging and shaking hands and an impossible mission of getting back home to bed when all the public transport is closed and the taxis are all taken.
I actually had a very quiet New Year’s Eve this year. I generally don’t really like to do much on new years eve these days, maybe because I’m so boring now, or perhaps it’s because I just like the company of friends or family at home to see out the old decade and see in the new one, in some comfort. Also the fact that we’ve got a 2 year old daughter can make it a little bit more tricky to go out and party like I used to.
Anyway, this year I was in, my wife had gone back to Paris a bit early, I was at my parents’ house. My mum went to bed to get her energy back and so Dad and I sat up and from about 11pm we started podcasting, recording a conversation about some of his favourite aspects of Britain, which will be coming in an episode soon. We were actually podcasting while Big Ben counted down to midnight and you’ll be able to hear it soon.
Welcoming New Listeners
First of all I’d like to welcome any new listeners that I have. Welcome! My name is Luke and this is my podcast for learners of English. I expect you’ve found the podcast by searching things like iTunes or Spotify for podcasts for learning English, or maybe a friend recommended it for you or something – leave a comment in the comment section (my website is the best place for that) saying how you found the podcast.
So I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and I’ve been teaching English for nearly 20 years now. This podcast has won awards, don’t you know. Yep, 4 awards based on audience votes, a British Council Elton nomination, and I came third in the British Podcast Awards in 2017 – not bad!
In these episodes I talk about all sorts of things, but the main aim is to help you improve your English through listening. The principle is twofold. Firstly, we all know that doing plenty of listening in the target language is a vital part of developing your English. You can’t expect to learn a language unless you actually listen to it, get to know how it sounds, the rhythms of English and also the typical ways in which it is structured. You need to do plenty of listening, regularly, long term – and hopefully this podcast can help you achieve just that.
In each episode you have to just follow what I’m saying or follow a conversation with someone else and just try to keep up. I try to make my episodes entertaining as well as educational. I talk about learning English, give tips and advice, but also talk about loads of other topics in some depth to give you a chance to hear a range of different vocabulary.
The second part of the principle here is that you can develop your vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation a lot through listening. The grammar and vocab come from both trying to notice new language while you’re listening, and from the episodes in which I am specifically teaching or explaining new language to you.
The pronunciation part comes from copying me, shadowing me, and doing the pronunciation drills that I also publish. I also have a premium subscription in which I specifically teach language and give you plenty of pronunciation practice.
So if you keep up with my episodes, follow the advice I give, enjoy the different topics and conversations and follow my instructions for working on your English, you should find that your English improves accordingly.
Of course, this podcast is best consumed as part of a balanced diet. I mean, it’s also necessary to practise your speaking, your reading and your writing too in active ways. You could check out my sponsor italki for the speaking practice and check out my episode archive for plenty of other episodes in which I give specific advice about other areas of your English and also for specific things like the IELTS test.
The best way to listen to my podcast is through the LEP app which is available free in the app store. With the app you have the whole archive, some app-only episodes and access to the premium content. When you listen with a podcast app on your phone, the app will remember where you stopped listening (like at the end of your morning commute to work) and when you press play again (like at the end of your working day) the episode will continue where you left off.
Also on YouTube you can check most of my episodes (just audio but some videos) and there you can find the automatic subtitles which are 99% accurate.
I also have a transcription project done through my website in which a team of keen LEPsters (listeners to this podcast) transcribe my episodes by dividing each one into 3 minute chunks, then each member of the team transcribes his or her chunk and the whole episode is then completed. After that the more high-level listeners proofread the scripts, the end goal being for me to eventually publish them on the website or turn them into an ebook perhaps. Transcribing 3 minute chunks of my episodes is an excellent way to work on your skills as it requires a lot of things – being able to listen intensely for every single word, being able to recognise different words and phrases and how they are actually said by native speakers, being able to write with correct spelling, grammar and punctuation, being able to reproduce exactly what you hear. It’s great training for your English.
Check my website for the entire episode archive and loads of other things. The episode archive on the website also contains loads of other content, like episodes of other people’s podcasts that I’ve been invited on, YouTube interviews with me and so on.
Sometimes I’m featured on other people’s shows and I usually will add a post in the archive so you can listen to it or watch it.
IELTS Speaking with Keith O’Hare
For example, recently I was featured in a video with a YouTube English teacher called Keith O’Hare. He specialises in helping people prepare for the IELTS speaking exam and he’s been doing a series in which he asks other online teachers to take a speaking test on video so you can learn how it is done.
He interviewed me in December and it’s now available on YouTube (link below). So, watch the video in order to see me taking an IELTS speaking test, to learn some of the language I used and also to get feedback from Keith on my performance. I also give some tips for learning English. I’ll be having Keith on the podcast at some point to interview him about IELTS speaking.
Language Analysis & more on Keith’s website
So if you are new to the podcast – a hearty welcome to you. I hope you stick around and listen to the other episodes too, and consider becoming part of my online community by putting your comments in the comment section and maybe taking part in the transcription project. You can find the details for that on my website.
A New Year Ramble, meaning that I’m talking about all the stuff that has been building up in my brain over the holiday period.
Obviously, it has been very busy, with looking after the little one, travelling to London, Birmingham, other parts of the country, dealing with the stress of Christmas, but also having an amazing time catching up with the family, exchanging presents, eating delicious food cooked by my mum and walking in the park to get some fresh air.
Normally I am podcasting quite a lot during any given week, pouring out ideas or teaching content into my podcast feed. Then I go on holiday and things start backing up a bit – I mean it feels a bit like a traffic jam with things that want to come out but the road is closed. So I’ve been imagining doing this episode and planning the next few episodes ahead.
And this episode is going to be me pouring those things out onto the podcast..
Let me talk you through what I’ve been thinking at certain quiet moments when my mind has been able to think about the podcast a little bit. Sometimes, like when my daughter is having a nap and I sort of have a nap too, or just before I go to sleep or something, my mind drifts to what I’m going to do on the podcast when I come back in January. I think about what my audience seems to like, what excites me about doing this, what things I think would be fun or useful for you to listen to and I turn it all over in my head, planning and thinking about the next episodes and waiting for some kind of inspiration to strike. Normally I keep thinking like this until I get a tangible idea of what the episode is going to be like, then it’s just a case of preparing for it and recording it. But once I know basically where the thing is going to go, the rest is just a case of trying to make the vision in my head into some kind of reality.
So during the holiday, I didn’t have many chances to record things, but plenty of chances to just think about it all.
Order of upcoming episodes and thoughts about previous ones
Whenever I go away on holiday and leave the podcast for a couple of weeks, the most recently uploaded episode gets loads of downloads. It stands to reason. The top episode in the list is going to be listened to more because it’s there. And so if you upload one episode and another one straight after it, the first one gets fewer downloads because they don’t know it’s there. It gets hidden behind the next one, which should be an argument for spacing out your episodes a bit more to give them time to breathe and for the audience to catch up. But then again, you want to keep uploading regularly to keep the interest up. For me, I tend to just upload whatever I make, and I try to give enough time for people to notice and listen to all the episodes, and there are those times when I go away on holiday and everyone can catch up.
But I do have to consider which episode I will be leaving at the top of the list when I go on holiday. This will be the episode that everyone will notice for the next 2 or 3 weeks, and if that’s the new year period it is especially important because a lot of people choose to start listening to podcasts as a resolution, and so they’ll be looking and new people will be finding Luke’s English Podcast, so the first impression is important.
So, sometimes I was worrying a bit, because the last two episodes I uploaded (except for some premium ones) were about Star Wars episode 9 and that’s not really a fair representation of what I do on this podcast. Also, I was stressing because I think the last episode, number 633 is not that great because I couldn’t remember the plot of the film and I was umming and ahhing.
So I wasn’t completely pleased with that episode and also not too pleased it was the episode at the top of the list for all those new listeners.
But I still wasn’t done with Star Wars, because it has become something of a tradition that at Christmas time, James, Dad and I go to see the new Star Wars film and this is the 4th time it has happened. The Force Awakens in 2015, Rogue One in 2016, The Last Jedi in 2017 and then The Rise of Skywalker in 2019 and the tradition also includes a long rambling podcast to dissect the film afterwards, so James and I duly went off to Birmingham on the train to see the film, had a beer afterwards and chose to discuss it all on the podcast. The result I think is very funny and quite interesting, and I’m much more pleased with it than my previous spoiler review. Anyway, I thought “I can’t wait all that time and then upload yet another Star Wars episode, which is nearly 2 hours long!!”
So I’ve decided to record this episode first, which is why it has taken so long. I have already edited and prepared the James & Luke Star Wars Discussion which will go up quite soon after this episode appears. So, it will be there so all you Star Wars fans can check it out and then we will continue with podcasting as usual. More about that later.
Christmas / New Year Holiday? What did you do?
What have you been up to during the break then Luke?
My wife, my daughter and I travelled to the UK -first to London and then to the midlands where my parents live. We spent just over 2 weeks away.
On new year’s eve I was actually with my dad and we decided to do a podcast from 11pm until midnight when the year ended. I’ll mention that again later.
Travelling with a toddler – describe what it’s like taking a child on a plane journey
Years of helping drunk friends in nightclubs to get home has really prepared me for this.
Little kids or babies are a lot like drunk friends on a Friday night.
They fall over a lot and might hurt themselves.
They’re liable to suddenly run into the street.
They sing like hooligans.
They might break down and start crying, and could easily piss themselves, shit themselves and puke on themselves all at the same time.
And they’re quite rowdy, annoying and loud too, which makes them a liability in things like queues and the confines of a seat on a plane, surrounded by other passengers.
Describe taking a toddler on a flight with just one person. With two it’s better, even though you have more bags, but with one adult it’s tricky.
This is what I described to Paul recently, because he basically can’t imagine flying with his daughter because she cries all the time and thinks it would be a huge operation to travel somewhere with all the equipment and baggage that you need for a child, with the travel cot, the car seat, the pram, the bottles and devices, the cleaning stuff and nappies, spare clothes and then all your stuff too! Paul can’t imagine it, and he listened sort of wide eyed as I explained it to him, like this.
One large suitcase (really big) with all our clothes, bottles, powdered milk, powdered cereal, washbag, thermometer, doliprane (paracetamol), books, toys, pacifier, doodoo (teddy bear or comforter), sleeping bag, my computer, my podcast stuff, leads, microphones, recorders, the pram, the waterproof cover for the pram (we’re going to England), A bag with food, drink, snacks, a bag with nappies, wipes and a towel, a change of clothes, some cartoons downloaded on netflix as a last line of defence, colouring books, pencil, sticker book, story book, maybe a farm animal, a book for me which I will never read, passports and my daughter.
So a pram (foldable) a huge suitcase, a backpack and my daughter and me.
Taxi to the airport. It’s expensive, but it’s just a much much smoother and efficient way to get this show on the road and get to the airport. Otherwise it’s taking a metro, walking a lot, then onto the RER, many many lifts and corridors and horrible air. The taxi option is amazing as they drop you right at arrivals.
Cruise through the terminal like a sort of huge articulated lorry, with the pram in front, my daughter probably sitting forwards and taking it all in, then me with my backpack and my other arm dragging the huge suitcase behind on its little wheels. A huge articulated truck moving through the airport.
Straight to the display, then probably to area C to queue up and check in the massive suitcase which could easily be overweight.
At this point JNR (my daughter) is sitting in the pram and probably demanding to be given the passports to be held. This could be her outstretching her hand, pointing at your pocket and saying “hand hand!” or even some mangled version of “passport”.
She’s being very insistent and we’re surrounded by silent queueing zombies so I give her the passports and just hope that she doesn’t drop them. She’s normally pretty good at holding onto them because she knows they’re important, which is why she wants to hold them.
But she has dropped things in airports before. Maybe the last time we were going through the airport and she was holding her doodoo (a teddy bear) . After walking for a while I noticed that bear was not with us any more and I went to JNR, where’s bear? And she looked around herself and then just went “huh!?” like, “Oh my god, where’s bear!?” This is like, worse than losing your phone for her.
So we wheel backwards and retrace our steps, both of us scanning the floor for bear, and I see him on the floor in the distance, lying next to a wall, slumped, and a woman is picking him up and having a look, she’s a member of staff and other people are gathering around. I just get there in time and explain that the bear belongs to my daughter and they are reunited and all’s well that ends well. Everyone sort of laughs and maybe waves at JNR and she says “bye bye “ and maybe “Aassiii” which is a combination of “thank you” and “merci”.
By the way, her languages are coming along quite well. She spends most of her time in French during the day at creche, but at home it’s mostly English. Her French has come on quicker than her English as she has certain standard phrases like “encore” and “oui” and “Cel-la” but the last two weeks she was in the UK really boosted her English.
First we spent some time with my cousin Oli and his family. He’s got three kids, one of whom is a couple of years older than my daughter, and another is the same age as her and they speak English so it was a real boost for her there.
Then with my parents and my brother it was all English for quite a long time, and her English really improved. She was saying things like “and that?” , which is quite a big step I think, and “please” “thank you” “bread” “Nice!” “Happy” “bird” “TV” “Farm” and “Beatles!”
Also a few other sentences that I can’t really remember now. She also babbles a great deal in a weird alien language and makes up songs with nonsense words and sometimes sings like a hooligan while standing on a chair.
Anyway, I give my daughter the passports and she can give them to the woman behind the counter, which is quite cute and a good way to ingratiate myself with the Air France woman, so I can try to get a better seat, maybe with nobody next to us.
She does her best and finds one for me.
Air France are pretty awesome.
Also, my bag is 26kg and the limit is 23kg but she says she can see it’s for both of us so she lets me off too. Nice.
Then it’s “Operation Get to the Gate” and also “Operation Energy Cancel”.
Operation Get to the Gate basically means getting through all the stuff like passport control, security and duty free and then being able to set up a base from which you can send out the child on exploratory missions to research and discover everything in the general area. That can be difficult because you have to deal with another queue, and then go through x-ray security, which means taking everything out of my backpack, separating all the baby food and water for the milk, take JNR out of the pram, fold it up and put it through as well, then coax my daughter to walk through and pretty much command her to stand in one spot while you get everything off the trays and your belt on and keys in your pocket and everything.
Then there’s a fight because I want her to get back in the pram but she’s not having it. I eventually decide that sometimes there’s no point struggling with a kid who doesn’t want to do something so we agree to walk, I push the pram and she sort of follows along and I have to constantly give her pointers like “this way” and “come on” “we’ve got to get to the gate” and she goes “GATE” and I say “Yes”. And there’s plenty of “no” “stop” Don’t do that, don’t touch. No hands. No, No No. Etc.
I try not to say no too much and to always explain to her what we’re doing and involve her somehow too.
So we keep going and I get her to push the pram, but it gets a bit tricky when we get to the big hall with all the gates because there are loads of distractions and also large open spaces. There are the arcade games and she always wanders in among the games of street fighter, fifa and pac man. I have to go and grab her, pick her up even though she doesn’t want to go and carry her, explaining that we have to get to the gate, then find some water for her and sandwiches for me.
So we get in the queue at Pret a Manger, leaving the pram over there, keeping one eye on it, while my daughter is wandering along the sandwich fridge, picking up salads and I’m telling her to put them back and come here. She wanders around but generally is quite cute and nice so people don’t get too annoyed. She wants to use the card machine and hold my credit card, anything that means she’s involved in what’s happening.
Normally it’s pretty good but sometimes it can be quite difficult following her around and picking her up as she kicks and screams if she doesn’t want to go, but usually it’s fine because I’ve explained exactly what’s happening and she likes that. I explain a day or so before that we’re going to the airport (she has an airport book) and do the motion of a plane in the sky and she knows what that is and she does it too and she goes “fly , fly” and maybe “plane!” or “avion!”. So she knows what’s going on and I’ve tried to explain that she needs her seatbelt, so the seatbelt is always in the story. Now she’s ok with seatbelts and says “seatbelt”.
Then there’s some running around after we’ve found our base of operations at one of the chairs next to our gate, and it’s “Operation Energy Cancel” or energy drain or something. The main aim here is to burn off as much of her energy as possible, and usually this involves running along side her going “run run run run run run run” and she gets really excited and giggly and runs along with you, looking like super mario. Run run run run run run. We do that up and down until she’s pretty tired or we have to queue up for the plane.
This bit might also involve lunch depending on how much time you have, and sometimes lunch is done on the plane. In any case lunch is always more like a drug that you give to your child than an actual meal! You know that when you’ve given them lunch, they’ll probably fall asleep about an hour later, so lunch is more like a sleep drug that you apply to your child so you can have a break. In fact all meals, milk, food are more like drugs that you give to your children.
The aim is to make her tired on the plane. At this point it is difficult to keep everything under control because I have a heavy backpack on my back full of podcasting equipment and kid stuff, a folded pram over my shoulder and my slightly hyper daughter investigating everything and kind of giggling or pointing at things.
When people start queuing for the plane I like to hang back until almost everyone is on board. Why would you want to get on board early and spend even more time sitting in that cramped little seat. I prefer to wait until all the stressed out people have struggled with their bags before sliding in at the end while everyone else watches you get on board and my daughter walks along the aisle looking at everyone. I have a huge backpack and a pram over my shoulder so I’m probably bumping people in the arm or in the head if I turn quickly. I have to shove some bags out of the way to push the folded pram in the overhead locker.
Then it’s operation distraction, subtitled “I hope she goes to sleep”.
There are basically six levels of “kid on a plane”
Distracted by something quite wholesome, like drawing, stickers, reading a book. She’s quite happy to sit on your lap and try to pick up stickers and put them in places. I also don’t care at all if she puts stickers all over the seat or the magazine. Not a problem, if my daughter isn’t making a fuss, it’s all good. I might have to try and ingratiate myself with the person next to us, like a smile or just by talking to my daughter and hoping she does something cute, which usually works. So level 1 is – doing an activity.
Walking up and down. This one is vital for when level 1 just doesn’t work and your child has some pent up energy. I walk her up and down the plane and also let her hang around at the end near the weird little shelves and kitchen area at the end of the plane. That tends to use up some energy and stop her kicking the chair in front or complaining or making a police siren noise.
Changing the nappy. This can be quite a big operation depending on whether it is a #1 or a #2 and if there has been some kind of “leak”.
Obviously the worst possible one is a leaked #2 which can be a sort of Armageddon in the underpants, and can be really tricky to deal with in a plane toilet. You hope to hell that there’s a baby changing table, and if there is my daughter hardly even fits on it. She’s tall for her age. Anyway, I put her on the table and she’s a bit freaked out but very curious about everything in this grotty plane toilet. Then you change the nappy making sure she doesn’t touch it and you use loads of wipes to clean everything up, meanwhile your arse is pressed against the unit behind you, your left shin is pressed against the edge of the toilet and your head might be pressed against the curved ceiling on some planes. It might also be necessary to change her clothes, which is why it is vital to bring the other outfit. So that’s level 3.
Watching a video on your phone. This is a sort of fallback position which might help you to get to Level 5. It’s not ideal because you don’t really want your child to be watching a phone for any length of time, and sometimes she tries to play with the phone and ends up going into your emails or photos or something. But it can be a great way to pacify a child who is being boisterous.
We tend to show her Babar The Elephant, which is basically like Downton Abbey for kids. They’re exactly the same thing. In fact it’s the other way round, Downton Abbey is like Babar The Elephant for grown ups.
It’s very cute and they have adorable Canadian accents.
Blissful sleep when you can just take a break and even have a nap yourself which is the thing you’ve been craving all this time, ever since you were woken up at 6AM by her crying, then you take her in bed with you and she sort of kicks you and falls asleep until 7AM when she starts wailing for milk like a heroin addict and then after she downs it in about 2 minutes, she spends the next half an hour sort of rolling around and kicking in a half asleep trance, maybe in a bad mood, before sort of waking up and immediately giggling and playing around. So, getting the chance for a nap is just sensational.
…is meltdown. There are different stages of meltdown of course, but this is what you are trying to prevent at all times.
Wrestling in your arms
Refusing to cooperate
Pushing your hands away so you end up doing some weird Chinese gung fu together
Wailing and crying loudly
Going red, tears
Sometimes this develops into a full on raging demonic possession but that has only ever happened once on the Eurostar in the evening when she was really tired but didn’t want to sleep or go in the pram, and it was like The Exorcist or something.
Anyway, normally it is a mix of levels 1-4 which is basically ok. Then there are more queues, more giving her passports and then fighting with her to get her in the pram and possibly failing, waiting for the huge bag and then going to meet my dad, get her in the back of the car and drive, and she always falls asleep within the first 2 minutes of the ride.
I’ll talk a bit more about my daughter later, including some details about her English and her bilingualism.
I don’t normally talk about her this much but I did spend loads of time with her this holiday so it’s pretty fresh in my mind.