Join me as I meet and get to know Rhiannon, an English coach whose mission is to help you feel awesome about your English. I had never met Rhiannon before this interview, so listen as I get to know her and we chat about her English & Welsh roots, moving to Edinburgh, studying theology at university, early experiences as an English teacher, why learners often feel ashamed of their English, and how she can help. We also discuss the wonders of fish & chips and deep fried Mars bars which you can buy on the streets of Edinburgh.
Fabio has written a book about language learning, based on his own personal experiences of learning English. Each chapter ends with the same sentence: “This is how to learn a language”. But each chapter disagrees with the next. There are many ways to learn a language, and none of them is the only right way to do it. In this episode, we talk all about this and Fabio shares some of his stories. Fabio is the host of “Stolariod Stories” a self-development podcast which includes lots of lessons about learning English, and learning about life in general.
☝️ The audio version has 20+ extra minutes of rambling from Luke ☝️
👉 Get Fabio’s book “Any Language You Want” https://fabiocerpelloni.com/any-language-you-want/
👉 Listen to Fabio interview Luke about stand-up comedy on Stolaroid Stories https://pod.link/1588409467/episode/5a1f614be55bdffa8513091565ef4985
👇 Video version of “The Art of Making People Laugh” on Stolaroid Stories
Also, listen to Luke’s funny story on Bree Aesie’s podcast recently 👇
TECH TALK! A conversation with Joe Dale (modern foreign language teaching consultant, EdTech guru) about the use of ChatGPT in English teaching and learning. Lots of recommendations, tips and tricks for saving time and combining ChatGPT with other software including Google Chrome extensions.
Online Communities that Joe mentioned
Google Chrome Extentions
- Magical – a tool which helps you to write text without having to write it out each time. Useful if you tend to write the same thing a lot, over and over.
- Canned Replies – similar to Magical
- Voice Control for ChatGPT – Speech to text, text to speech. This basically adds a microphone input option for ChatGPT and also converts ChatGPT’s responses into spoken word.
- Use Immersive Reader on Websites – this can read out a text for you in spoken word
- YouTube Summary with ChatGPT & Claude – summarises YouTube videos (but I question its ability to do this well enough – it doesn’t always realise which things are part of an introduction, which things are side points, and which things are the main points)
- EdPuzzle – quickly turn YouTube videos into comprehension exercises (convenient for teachers)
Other useful software
- ClozeIt – a Google Docs extension which creates gap-fills from texts
- Wheel of Names – wheelofnames.com – a spinning wheel which randomly chooses items from a list
- Microsoft Lens (part of Microsoft Tools) – allows you to scan text from a photo, and then export the text to other software
- Reading Coach (in Immersive Reader in Microsoft Tools in Microsoft Office 365) – reads (out loud) to text you have scanned, listens to you speaking and then gives you feedback on your pronunciation/speaking and you can compare your speaking with the model speech
- AudioPen.ai – allows you to record quick voice notes, which it then transcribes and neatly summarises for you
My previous episodes about ChatGPT
A conversation with accent coach Luke Nicholson, including lots of insights, advice and conclusions about improving your pronunciation in English.
☝️The audio version contains 20+ extra minutes
Questions to consider before listening
- In your language learning, how important is pronunciation for you?
- How much time do you put into practising it or researching it, compared to other things like grammar or vocabulary?
- How much do you know about the physical ways that we make sounds, and also the ways that we express pronunciation in writing – the phonetic alphabet?
- Think about your mouth, throat, tongue, teeth, nose or other parts. Do you know which parts are responsible for making different sounds in English?
- Try saying different vowel and consonant sounds, and see which parts are involved. Perhaps try counting to 20 and just notice the different parts of your mouth and areas near your mouth that you use, the shape of your lips and so on.
- Does English use sounds that you don’t use in your language? Which ones?
- Are there certain words which always seem to cause you trouble when you speak English? Which specific parts of those words cause the problem?
- How many different accents can you identify in English? Which one do you want to sound like? Why?
- Which accent would you like to have in English? What is that accent called? Why do you want that accent?
- Does it matter if, when you speak, people can tell which part of the world you are from, or that they can tell English isn’t your first language? To what extent does that matter to you, and why?
- What do you think is more important in pronunciation – intelligibility (being clear), or identity (expressing a certain identity with the way you speak).
- How can you actually go about improving your pronunciation? What steps can you take, and what resources can you use?
- What does it mean to have “good pronunciation” or a “good accent”?
- If you are an English teacher, how do you teach pronunciation? What place does it have in your lessons? What are your experiences of teaching it?
Summary of the main conclusions in the conversation
- Improving your pronunciation. According to Luke, it all boils down to these things.
- English is diverse in its pronunciation and accents, and the written word doesn’t always match how it sounds.
- You just have to accept things that seem inconsistent, irregular or complex in English pronunciation, and move forward. Those ‘irregularities’ will seem relatively normal when you get familiar with the language.
- Study pronunciation, but don’t look for “one rule to explain it all”. Instead find little patterns and other ways to help you remember English pronunciation bit by bit.
- Determine your pronunciation priorities and choose a target accent which you can aim for.
- Balance intelligibility (being clear) with expressing your identity through your accent.
- Familiarise yourself with the vocal tract and the sounds of English.
- Learn the phonemic chart and explore stress and intonation patterns.
- Don’t be put off by the phonemic chart. You probably have most of those sounds in your language. Look out for the ones which you don’t have.
- Identify which sounds in English you find difficult, or which cause people to misunderstand you, and focus on them.
- Practice making different sounds and think outside the box to find approaches that work for you.
Luke Nicholson’s Websites
Antony is an English teacher, podcaster, life-coach and writer and he returns to LEP today for a conversation about topics which he has discussed in episodes of his podcast called “Life & Life Only”. Listen to us chat about why cats are good for your health 🐱, what the Titanic disaster tells us about social class 🚢, how losing his backpack while travelling taught Antony a valuable life lesson 🎒, how psychology is involved in English teaching 🧠 and more.
Antony’s Podcast 👉 Subscribe to Life & Life Only wherever you get your podcasts https://plinkhq.com/i/1549021296?to=page
Topics for discussion in this episode
Life & Life Only (the podcast)
- What is Life & Life Only, and what’s it all about?
- What do you like about cats?
- Why are you interested in the Titanic?
- Can you give us a quick version of the story?
- Tell me about your travelling experiences.
- Where have you been?
- Did the experience change you at all?
- What about losing your luggage? What happened?
- How have you found the group dynamics and interpersonal dynamics of teaching?
- Have you had good and bad groups? What’s the difference?
- What have you done in order to try to get the right atmosphere in a classroom?
- Have you ever had bad or difficult experiences with students?
- What are some of the weirdest situations in which you have taught English?
- What is life coaching and how do you do it?
Antony & Luke talk about the film “Sorcerer” (1977) on Antony’s Film Gold podcast
A conversation with Hadar Shemesh, a non-native speaker who has improved her English to a very high level, and who now shares her knowledge and experience with the world through her podcast and YouTube channel. Hadar describes her own experiences of learning English and mastering pronunciation. This episode is all about the voyage of discovery that is learning a language.
👉 Hadar’s website https://hadarshemesh.com/
👉 Hadar’s podcast (InFluency Podcast) https://hadarshemesh.com/influency-podcast/
👉 Hadar’s YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UClPyOwXLnSMejFdLvJXjA5A
👉 Hadar’s episode with Luke 👇
Audio & podcast links 👉 https://hadarshemesh.com/magazine/interview-with-luke-from-lukes-english-podcast/
Video version 👇
In conversation with Andy Cooke, an English teacher from England who is very popular on Instagram. We talk about Andy’s background, becoming an English teacher, getting big on Instagram, ChatGPT and a few other tangents along the way. Includes a few songs on the guitar at the end of the episode.
👆The audio version has 30+ minutes of extra content
👉 🎧 Listen to Luke’s Podcast using a podcast app on your phone (audio episodes have more content) https://plinkhq.com/i/312059190?to=page
👉 Andy’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/englishwithcooke/
👉 Andy’s Website https://ewcooke.com/
Carlos Soares, from the University of Aveiro in Portugal, is doing a master’s degree dissertation all about language learning podcasts. He contacted me to conduct an interview as part of his research, and he agreed for me to publish it as an episode of my podcast. Carlos asks me about my thoughts on learning English through listening, my approach to making my podcast and some other details.
👉 Take Carlos’ survey here https://forms.ua.pt/index.php?r=survey/index&sid=699278&lang=en
Comedian Sebastian Marx returns to the podcast in order to talk about Yiddish words which have found their way into the English language, including common words like bagel, glitch and schmooze and plenty more.
👆The audio contains extra content, including an introduction and a short ramble at the end 😉
Word list for this episode 📖
These are the Yiddish words we discussed. Words marked with an X are the ones I couldn’t find in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary.
- Meshuggeneh x
- Oy or Oy vey
- Schlemiel x
- Schmuck: (vulgar) A contemptible or foolish person; a jerk; (שמאָק, shmok, ‘penis’, probably from Old Polish smok, ‘grass snake, dragon’; MW, EO)
- Schmutz x
- Schlong: (vulgar) A penis (שלאַנג, shlang, ‘snake’; cf. German: Schlange; OED)
- Shtick: Comic theme; a defining habit or distinguishing feature or business (שטיק, shtik, ‘piece’; cf. German: Stück, ‘piece’; AHD)
- Schmaltz: Melted chicken fat; excessive sentimentality (שמאַלץ, shmalts or German: Schmalz; OED, MW)
- Schmooze: To converse informally, make small talk or chat (שמועסן, shmuesn, ‘converse’, from Hebrew: שמועות, shəmūʿōth, ‘reports/gossip’; OED, MW). To persuade in insincere or oily fashion; to “lay it on thick”. Noun: schmoozer, abbr. schmooze.
- Schnoz or Schnozz also Schnozzle: A nose, especially a large nose (perhaps from שנויץ, shnoyts, ‘snout’; cf. German: Schnauze; OED, MW)
- (keep) Shtum: Quiet, silent (שטום, shtum, ‘mute’; cf. German: stumm); OED)
- Shul x
- Shvitz x
- Tuchus x
- Verklempt x
- Yenta x
- Shm-reduplication can be used with most any word; e.g. baby-shmaby, cancer-shmancer and fancy-shmancy. This process is a feature of American English from Yiddish, starting among the American Jews of New York City, then the New York dialect and then the whole country.
I found 25/33 of the words in the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary (English).
Previous episodes with Sebastian on LEP 👇
Is that a confusing title? Hopefully not. As you might expect, it’s a little summary of what’s included in the episode. To give you some more details, Alastair Budge is the host of a podcast called “English Learning for Curious Minds” and he has created a new audio drama for English learners called “Pioneers of the Continuum”. It’s a time-travel adventure for English learners, and Alastair asked me to be the narrator for episode 1. In this episode of LEP, we talk about Alastair’s story, living in Malta, learning English by immersion, cliches and complaints from English speakers visiting Paris and Alastair’s story about playing the bagpipes on the streets of Paris. The audio version includes 30+mins of rambling from me at the end. Enjoy!