Gabriel Clark from clarkandmiller.com joins me to discuss a short history of teaching methodology in the world of TEFL. The direct method, the grammar translation method, The Audio Lingual Method, the Structural Approach, Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), The Silent Way, Community Language Learning, Task Based Language Learning, The Lexical Approach and dogme style – all these get described and discussed. Learn how English teachers teach you English!
Any listeners in the Paris area – This is just a reminder about the talk I am doing at the British Council at the Invalides centre in Paris on Thursday 19 May at 7pm. I will be doing some storytelling in front of a live audience and you can be there if you want. It’ll be sort of a mix of stand up, storytelling and podcasting at the same time as well as a social gathering afterwards, all in English of course.
I will be on the stage telling the story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital bed, scared out of my mind because I thought I was going to die or something – now, that sounds quite scary but the idea is to make it funny and entertaining.
It is a true, personal story of travelling, living in another country, and how things can sometimes get completely lost in translation, leading to some rather dramatic experiences.
If you want to come and be part of the audience – you can. It’s free. Everyone is invited. I will be recording it for the podcast, but if you want to actually be there in the room and have a drink afterwards, socialise in English and so on – then you are welcome. You need to book a seat though, and you can do that at britishcouncil.fr and then click evenements – my event is the one called Talks in English : Le choc culturel – humoriste
In this episode you are going to listen to a conversation I had with English teacher and podcaster Stephen Devincenzi who does a podcast about learning English with the news.
We recorded a video for this but we had technical problems so only one part of that is available on YouTube. If you go to my YT channel you’ll see it. It’s the part where we discuss the pros and cons of using the news to improve your English. That’s the only video part on YouTube but the audio is fine and you’re listening to it now and this audio will be available everywhere including youTube as usual, and you can check to see if the automatic subtitles are available.
We were plagued by technical difficulties while attempting to do this episode and in fact this is the 3rd time we tried to record. We did this 3 times.
About 3 weeks before this we did another full recording of over an hour which turned out to be unusable because of issues with lag and distorted sound and horrible internet based problems, and then we set up another meeting but had to cancel that due to Stephen’s poor internet connection.
Then Stephen had fibre optic internet set up in his room.
And so did I!
And then I got electricity installed.
But then my fibre optic internet went down (and still is down) but despite the gremlins in the system we managed to record this 3rd version on Zoom with my iphone working as an internet hotspot.
This episode is all about learning English with the news, the pros, the cons, the hows the whys. But is listening to the news a good idea for learners of English? How can you do it? Let’s discuss.
I’ll chat with you again briefly at the end, but now let’s get started.
THanks for listening. Thanks to Stephen from the SEND7 podcast.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section as usual. It’s always interesting to read what you have to say.
Have you used the news to learn English?
Did you find it useful?
How do you do it? Do you have a particular method?
Talks in English – British Council Paris – 19 May (Storytelling – Culture Shock & Live Podcast Recording)
Discussing meditation, meditation techniques, how it can help in our lives and improve us as language learners. Antony Rotunno is my guest and listen out for stories, advice, tangents and maybe one or two revelations.
This episode is called Meditation & Learning English, and as the title suggests, this is about the topic of meditation and how it can help us in our lives in various ways, including with our learning of languages.
My guest this time is podcaster and English teacher Antony Rotunno. Antony is back on the podcast after being on the podcast a few times last year when we did a series of episodes about John Lennon.
Antony has a few podcasts of his own and you might remember that recently I said that I’d listened to a couple of Antony’s episodes which were all about meditation.
They were called “The Joys and Wonders of Meditation”
I listened to them late last year, during quite a stressful period when we were having work done on our new flat, and I really felt like they helped me to find ways to keep my stress under control and get a bit of mental clarity during all of that chaos.
I definitely recommend those episodes to everyone.
That’s Episodes 4 & 5 of “Life & Life Only”. You will find links on the page for this episode.
While listening to those two episodes I immediately thought I should invite Antony back onto my podcast for an interview, this time about meditation.
I think there’s a lot of stuff to learn from them, a lot of benefits to gain from it all and some interesting ideas to consider about learning English.
As I said just a moment ago, Antony was on my podcast a few times last year talking about John Lennon and he’s always an insightful, articulate and thoughtful guest so it’s nice to have him back.
Just a reminder – Antony is an English teacher like me, he’s from England, he is a musician and also a podcaster. He has three podcasts in fact. You might want to check them out if you’re looking for more stuff to listen to.
“Life & Life Only” in which he explores themes of self-development, philosophy and the search for inner and outer truth. This is the one with the episodes about meditation.
“Glass Onion: On John Lennon” in which Antony goes into fascinating depth about many aspects of John Lennon’s life and related topics.
“Film Gold”, which is basically a chance for Antony to discuss some of his favourite films with different guests. I was a guest in a recent episode of Film Gold in fact. We talked about one of our favourite British comedy films of all time – Monty Python and the Holy Grail. If you want to listen to Antony and me chatting about that film, then check out Film Gold episode 15.
Those are Antony’s podcasts and they are available wherever you get your podcasts. You’ll also find links in the description and on the page for this episode on my website.
There you go, lots of other things for you to listen to there! But you might be thinking “Hold on Luke, I’m already listening to this episode about mediation!”
Ok, well, when you’ve finished this, if you’re still hungry for more, you could listen to Antony and me talking about Monty Python in episode 15 of Film Gold or Antony’s original meditation episodes from Life & Life Only, or anything else that takes your fancy.
But now let’s get back to this episode that you are listening to right now and the topic of meditation.
What is it, exactly?
How does it work?
How do you do it?
Is it just the same as relaxation?
What can the benefits be?
What can Antony tell us about his experiences of finding out about it and doing it, including going on several silent meditation retreats?
What are some simple meditation techniques that you can apply to your daily life?
And can meditation help you to be a better learner of English?
Those are the talking points. There are some tangents of course as we end up talking about some other bits and pieces along the way and there are also a few quick meditation exercises, or spot meditations, which you can do while you listen, if you like.
In fact, to give you an idea of what that means – what a spot meditation is – let’s do a very quick spot meditation exercise right now just before the interview starts, to help you focus.
I’m making this one up myself of course and I’m not a meditation instructor but I’m willing to give it a shot.
A quick meditation before listening – to help you focus
Just follow my instructions for a moment and it might put you in the right frame of mind to really concentrate on our conversation.
First – consider your body position while you are listening to this.
Just take a moment to be aware of your body and any feelings of tension that you might have.
Are your shoulders tense? Are you sitting upright or are you perhaps slumped in some way? Are you tied up in a knot? Are you standing unevenly on one leg or leaning to one side? Is your jaw clenched?
Take a moment to find those tensions in your body and release them. Just let them relax.
Take a few deep breaths from your diaphragm and feel the sensation of the air going in and coming out, and your stomach going up and down.
Now focus on my voice.
Focus on the shape of the words, the different kinds of sounds that are included in each syllable of each word.
Notice the rhythm of the sentences I’m saying – where the stresses are, where the pauses are, and any times my voice goes up or down.
Just try to follow it very carefully without letting your mind get distracted by other things.
If you feel your mind wandering off, if you get distracted or if you feel like saying “Come on Luke stop rambling, we don’t want another 15 minute introduction, just get on with it please” or something – if you feel your mind wandering at all, then just guide it back and as you listen to this conversation between Antony and me, keep going with that approach.
So that was just a very brief spot meditation to help you focus your attention a bit.
OK, so now let’s start the episode properly and here we go.
Meditation and Learning English with Antony Rotunno.
Luke & Antony Discuss Monty Python & The Holy Grail
Chatting to pub quiz host Sarah Toporoff about her love of trivia, and asking each other quiz questions about history, geography, literature, language & pop culture. Can you answer the questions and follow the conversation?
Hello listeners! I hope you’re well. Welcome back to my podcast for learners of English around the world. That’s you, I assume. You are a learner of English and you are around the world.
Welcome to another episode of my podcast. This is where you can get English into your life in the form of some regular listening practise. This time you’re going to hear me in conversation with a guest and the guest in this episode is my friend Sarah Toporoff who also goes by the name The Paris Quiz Mistress.
This is the first time she’s been on the show and that means this one will probably be a little more difficult for you to follow, but that’s alright – it’s all good practice.
Sarah is originally from the USA (so you will be hearing an American accent from her, and a British accent from me in the same conversation – and yes, we actually understand each other of course) Anyway, Sarah is from the states, but these days she lives in Paris like me and basically – Sarah loves pub quizzes. In fact, she loves them so much that she decided to run her own pub quiz nights here in Paris, in English, which she does every Sunday evening.
She writes questions and reads them out in a local pub for teams of people to answer in competition with each other. Sarah also has her own podcast in which she quizzes her friends on various bits of trivia relating to their interests. Her podcast is called The Paris Quiz Mistress Podcast.
So, in this episode I thought I would chat to Sarah about her love of quizzes, and then we could quiz each other with some fun questions, and you can see if you know the answers and generally try to keep up with the conversation and develop your English in the process.
So that’s what you’re going to get – and this is a swapcast, which means that both Sarah and I are publishing this on our respective podcasts.
Before we continue I think I should give you a little bit of support before I throw you into the deep end and make you listen to this fairly fast conversation between two native speakers.
So, let me just clarify a couple of bits of vocabulary and some culture which are key concepts for this episode, and I also have a few questions for you to consider, in order to help you prepare to understand this episode more easily.
Some words and concepts
(Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here) A quiz is a fun game or competition in which someone tests your knowledge by asking you questions and you compete with others to answer those questions. Quizzes are usually done just for fun, unlike tests or exams for example, which are done not for fun. They usually involve questions relating to trivia…
Trivia (noun) / Trivial (adjective)
…and trivia basically means trivial information or facts which are interesting or amusing but not really presented for a specific purpose. “Oh, that’s quite interesting isn’t it?” ← that’s usually as deep as it gets. That’s trivia.
It’s just random bits of general knowledge, just for fun – facts and figures, names, dates, places, moments in history, pop culture and so on.
A pub quiz
As the name suggests, a pub quiz is a quiz done in a pub. Big surprise there. But pub quizzes are a very common feature of normal life in the UK where any good pub will have a quiz night. If you’ve ever spent time living in the UK you might have noticed this. Perhaps on a weekday evening in the local pub you might see teams of people sitting at tables competing against each other to answer questions which are read out by a host who might be speaking into a microphone. It’s sort of an excuse to just be in the pub and have a few drinks, but it’s also a really fun way to spend an evening with other people.
A good host will prepare some tricky but achievable questions that make you think and that could spark some conversation later in the evening, and the host might throw in some funny comments here and there just to keep things light. The questions are often quite convoluted and might sound more difficult than they actually are. At the end, the answer sheets from each team are marked and the winning team wins a prize, typically a bottle of wine or something like that. Pub quizzes are also known as trivia nights in some places.
Does that sound familiar? This is the world of the pub quiz. Are they a common feature in your country? Do they happen in pubs? Do you have pubs? Do you have questions? Do you have facts where you live? Are there other people? I don’t know where you are.
Fun quizzes like this also take place in other situations – and I’m talking about the UK and other English speaking places too and often things are similar in our cultures. I’m sure it’s the same for you, but is it? I don’t know. Anyway, where I’m from quizzing is sort of part of our DNA. Any excuse for a quiz – in pubs but also at family get togethers, at school or even at work Christmas parties and things like that.
Sorry for rambling here but seriously – thinking about this stuff might help you to focus your attention on the topic of this conversation bit more closely and follow things more easily, and therefore learn more English from this and as a result get a feeling of accomplishment which you carry with you in your life, bringing extra positivity and confidence which ultimately helps to make you a more successful and fulfilled person in your life, which then impacts on other people in similar ways and the benefits spread out from you in concentric circles improving the lives of other people around you and they start smiling a bit more and ultimately the world becomes that bit better which makes all the difference to the global balance of everything and basically I save the world with my podcast. That’s all I’m trying to do, so don’t stand in my way, ok? The fate of the world depends on this, alright?
Now, just in case this introduction wasn’t long enough, I am now going to quickly read out the questions that Sarah and I are going to ask each other in this episode, just to give you a chance to understand them in advance so you don’t get lost in the conversation.
You see, I am COMMITTED to helping you learn English and that means I am willing to make these episode introductions at least 3 minutes longer than they should be in order to give you a helping hand in understanding fast-paced and naturalistic dialogues between native speakers of English. That is how much I care.
Quiz Questions in this Episode
So listen to these questions, understand them, can you answer them? You’ll be more prepared. Listen to the episode to get the answers.
How many countries make up the UK and can you name those countries?
Which Eastern European country shares zero of the same borders with countries that it shared borders with in 1989 although its physical borders have not moved? (note: I hope you don’t mind the term “Eastern European country”)
Sarah’s Questions for me
These might seem a bit random, but Sarah is a great quiz mistress and there is a link between all the answers to these questions, and it’s a link that is tailored to me somehow.
For which film did the MPAA refuse to allow use of Ben Stiller’s character’s last name in the title, unless filmmakers could find an actual person with that last name?
What 2nd novel by English author Charles Dickens is alternately titled “The Parish Boy’s Progress?”
What film series began in 1988 and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane?
In British English it means “eraser”, in American it means “condom”. What is it?
What is the type of gun that features as a weapon in the board game “Cluedo”?
“Scar Tissue” is the name of Anthony Keidis’ autobiography as well as one of his hits, with which band?
PD James, Edgar Allan Poe and Gaston Leroux are all writers specialising in what genre?
The flags of Romania, Colombia and Moldova all primarily feature which 3 colours?
The first episode of what television drama opens with the news that that RMS Titanic has sunk?
Luke’s Questions for Sarah
My questions are really quite stupid and in fact I am not listing them here because they are too silly and I will let you discover them in all their glory as you listen to the episode. So just listen on if you want to hear my questions for Sarah – but to give you a heads up they focus on music, movies (well, one movie) and British English slang, so there is definitely some vocabulary to learn here!
MMMBop by Hanson
Mmm Bop – Lyrics
Can you tell me any of the lyrics from the first verse?
You have so many relationships in this life
Only one or two will last
You go through all the pain and strife
Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast
Oh yeah (so much wisdom from someone so young)
And they’re gone so fast, yeah
Oh, so hold on the ones who really care
In the end they’ll be the only ones there
And when you get old and start losing your hair
Can you tell me who will still care (Hair was important to them)
Can you tell me who will still care? (interesting discussion point)
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba duba dop
Ba du, oh yeah
Mmmbop, ba duba dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du bop, ba du dop
Ba du, yeah
Said oh yeah
In an mmmbop they’re gone
Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose
You can plant any one of those
Keep planting to find out which one grows
It’s a secret no one knows
It’s a secret no one knows (Is it really a secret?)
Oh, no one knows
MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM by Crash Test Dummies
Anaconda – 1997 (Trailer)
Luke’s British Slang Questions
If you describe something as pants, how do you feel about it?
“That film was pants. Total pants.”
How would you feel if you’d run out of bog roll?
You’d feel gutted of course.
Answer: Bog rollmeans toilet paper
Can you give me a reason why you might feel “chuffed”?
Answer: chuffed means pleased, delighted, happy
What would a British person probably say if they wanted to claim something, like perhaps a chocolate biscuit or a comfortable chair?
If someone needed to get some kip, how would they probably feel?
Answer: You’d feel sleepy or tired, because kip means sleep (noun)
What F word is used to say that someone is physically attractive? (It’s like saying “hot”)
What L word is a generic sickness – like the flu or a bad cold? (a pre-covid expression)
Answer: The lurgy
Where do you put suitcases in a car in the UK?
Answer: in the boot
What about the engine?
Under the bonnet
In any case, whether you can answer these questions or not, I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation about trivia and that you manage to keep up with it all and pick up some English. I will chat to you again very very briefly at the end, but it’s now time to get started properly and here we go…
Listen to the episode to get all the answers to the questions!
In other news…
My pod-room still isn’t ready but it should be connected to electricity and internet in a couple of weeks.
I’m still waiting to get a WIFI internet connection at home.
My shelves haven’t fallen down yet :)
I am working on LEP Premium series 33 parts 3 and 4 and they should be uploaded soon.
Video versions of episodes will return when I have a decent internet connection (and a new computer which is coming too…)
Andy Johnson returns to talk about more “M” words – this time it’s The Metaverse and The Mandalorian. The Metaverse is an immersive and interactive 3D online environment. How can it be used for learning and teaching English? Andy’s new job is with a company that offers English learning in the metaverse, so let’s chat about it. Also, we finally talk about The Mandalorian on LEP after waiting nearly a year! This is probably the last episode of LEP in 2021 – so Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you have a Happy New Year!
Audio version (with a meta-themed introduction and a ramble about December)
Hello listeners, how are you? How’s December going for you so far? (I’m recording this in December of course, which is why I just said that – it’s the middle of December) How’s December for you?
It can be a weird month December – it’s pretty much the middle of winter and if you celebrate Christmas then December becomes a bit stressful because the Christmas holiday is coming and you have to make sure you’ve got presents for everyone, and you have to sort out your travel plans and work out how much time you are willing or able to spend with your different family members and it all gets a bit stressful, and of course everyone else is going through the same thing so generally people seem a bit stressed out at this time. If you’re late with your Christmas shopping then that becomes a mad rush and the shops are full of desperate people like in that film with Arnold Shwarzenegger…
plus work commitments seem a bit heavy because everyone’s trying to get things done before the Christmas break and so things get a bit much.
It’s certainly true here for me, because as you know (because I’ve been banging on about it since the summer) we are moving house and having work done on the new place and that’s making things so much more complicated.
Actually, I think this might be the last episode of the year, but I am not sure. I have a couple of other ones in the pipeline but time is running out very quickly, so this might be the final episode of Luke’s English Podcast for 2021.
Merry Christmas everyone – if you celebrate Christmas of course and if you don’t celebrate Christmas I will just say seasons greetings. If you don’t get more podcasts after this until January some time, then you can imagine that I’ve had to pack up all my podcast gear, switched off the internet and moved all our stuff to a new flat, which will probably be full of boxes, and maybe no internet connection, meanwhile I’ll be at my parents place in England (COVID permitting) just doing the usual Christmas things, and the podcast will return in January, probably, but we will see. I might be able to upload more before the new year, but there’s no guaranteeing that. So I will say Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to you now.
Anyway, let me talk about this episode then. It’s an interview episode and this time Andy Johnson is back on the podcast after a long absence. If you don’t know him because you haven’t heard his episodes, or if you have heard those episodes and your memory is not working to its full capacity – Andy is a friend and former colleague of mine. I won’t say more because we talk about all of that at the start of the conversation. All will become clear as you listen.
The title of this one is something like this: Learning & Teaching English in the Metaverse / The Mandalorian (with Andy Johnson)
So there are two topics here. The Metaverse and The Mandalorian. This is one single audio episode with this introduction but the video version is in two parts – one which is just our chat about the metaverse, and another one which is just our chat about The Mandalorian.
In this audio version, let’s start with The Metaverse.
Again, Andy is going to explain this himself, but to be clear The Metaverse (or maybe a metaverse – because there is more than one) is essentially a 3D open world online. A metaphysical space which exists on the internet where people can go and interact and do all sorts of things. It’s a bit like a primitive version of The Matrix from the film The Matrix, but the graphics aren’t as good, yet, and it’s not quite as scary and evil, yet.
As these sorts of open online worlds become more and more sophisticated and as we learn how to use them, we will probably all find ourselves operating within them more and more, for various things – especially for creating virtual workspaces for people working from home or working from different locations but part of a team. Currently we use things like Zoom calls with breakout rooms and screensharing, Microsoft Teams and other platforms. But eventually these shared online spaces will probably become more immersive, opening up so many possibilities for team work which perhaps are more natural and intuitive because they simulate the real world more directly, but with so much more control – we’re talking about 3D environments in which you can move anywhere, manipulate the environment and so on.
These metaverses can seem a little bit scary when you consider the frightening visions of this kind of thing we’ve had from films like The Matrix, but on the other hand they should allow us to work, collaborate and also play together in more productive and enjoyable ways than the current methods we have. Of course, many people are already using them especially for gaming.
There’s a lot to discuss regarding these sorts of new online spaces, and I say “new” but they’re not really that new – remember Second Life – the immersive 3D online world? And of course there are all the online multiplayer games that people play – including things like GTA online.
The metaverse has been around for years in various forms. So, there’s a lot to discuss here in terms of what the metaverse is, how it could be used and the philosophical ramifications of it all but what Andy and I are going to focus on in this conversation is how the metaverse could be used as an environment in which to learn and teach English, and what the advantages of that could be.
So that’s the main focus of our chat really. Then after that, we have a chat about the Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. This is quite long overdue on this podcast as I wanted to talk about it in an episode or two at the start of 2021 when The Mandalorian season 2 was first streamed on Disney+ and it was all fresh in people’s minds. Quite a few listeners got in touch to ask me to share my thoughts on it on the podcast – so, finally here we go. There’s about 25 minutes of chat about The Mandalorian, including spoilers for the end of season 2.
Now, I know that not everyone is a Star Wars fan, which is totally fine of course, so it might not be for all of you, but it’s at the end of this conversation so hopefully the Star Wars fans will be happy to hear us discuss it (quite briefly I must say) and the non-Star Wars fans can feel free just to take it or leave it. In any case, keep listening if you want to hear me talking about The Mandalorian, finally.
We’re nearly ready to start but I think I should also add something about the lexicology of the word “Meta”, since we are talking about The Metaverse here.
I would say that metaverse is something of a portmanteau word because it’s a bit like a new word which has been made by sticking together two other words: meta and universe.
The verse part is from universe of course, and also have multiverse is a trending word at the moment because of the new Spiderman film and the upcoming Doctor Strange film “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” Multiverse means a system of many interconnected universes or parallel worlds and I think now in phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have many different alternate realities all converging, which should be entertaining and quite confusing as well, potentially. But multiverse is not the word we’re dealing with here – that’s another episode for another time.
So let me just refocus on metaverse. So we know what the -verse part of that means – universe.
But what about meta?
This word (or prefix) is currently being used more than ever.
You probably saw the recent news that Facebook changed its name to Meta. Actually the social network will still be called Facebook as far as I know. The company behind it though, will be called Meta.
So what is the word meta? Is it even a word, or just a prefix? Let’s see.
The word or prefix “meta” comes from Ancient Greek and essentially means “beyond” or “about”.
There are many uses of the word. In some cases the it’s an adjective – “That’s very meta” and some cases it’s a prefix to a noun, like in metaphysical or metaverse.
Essentially, meta refers to going beyond something or going outside something, and becoming self aware.
In the case of the metaverse, which is a metaphysical online universe, this means going beyond the normal physical limitations of the real world, and entering a world which is somehow outside that reality – a world, like The Matrix, which is free from the limitations of the real world. So that’s an example of when meta means “beyond”.
Sometimes meta means “about”, and for me this is like going outside of something and then looking back at the thing you have transcended and commenting on it, talking about it and so on.
For example, a film might be described as meta when the the film becomes self-aware and starts commenting the medium of film itself. This is hard to explain.
Let’s say this – the TV series Friends was not very meta, I think. The characters lived in their world and lived their lives and there was never a sense that they knew they were living in a fictional made up place. But, if at any point the characters in the film started commenting on their world but from an outside view, then that would be meta. For example, if Chandler and Joey started commenting on how their apartment building wasn’t real or that they lived inside a TV show, or if Rachel said something like “I’m a waitress, so how can I afford to live in this nice big apartment in Manhattan??” maybe even looking at the camera while doing it, then that would be quite meta – if the show started to realise it was just a show, and in fact was commenting on that. Then the show would be outside of itself and commenting on itself – self aware.
So that’s meta the adjective, meaning self-referential, or self-aware – the “about” part of that old Greek meaning.
Another example of meta.
In learning English we talk about metacognitive strategies. These are ways of thinking about how you learn, and the way you think about learning. You go outside of your normal learning behaviour, observe it, consider it and think about it, perhaps creating new ways to think about and approach your learning habits. For example, many of the things that Bahar from Iran talked about in her episode of the WISBOLEP competition this year – these were metacognitive strategies. Her first approach to learning English didn’t work, so she actually stepped out of her position, reconsidered her whole approach, and created other ways of thinking and learning, and the results worked well. She applied some metacognitive strategies to her learning of English.
Meta can also be a noun, in gaming especially. People talk about a meta while gaming. I’m not completely sure about this because I’m not really a gamer, but as far as I can tell, a “meta” is the best strategy to use in order to win a game. I’ve even read that it’s an acronym – the “Most Effective Tactics Available”. That’s a bit specific and only for the L33T gamers out there.
There are also other uses of the word meta, but they’re very specific and relate to things like different mathematical and scientific systems. But I think that’s probably enough about the word or prefix meta at this stage.
Let’s now go back to the metaverse again, and consider how immersive 3D online worlds can help us learn and teach English. That’s the main aim for this conversation.
You’re probably fully primed for some metaverse and Mandalorian chat now, but of course there is about 10 minutes of general chat and catching up with Andy before we get into the topic properly. That’s just the way things are done on LEP. This is the way.
OK, so now that you’re prepared for the episode, let’s get started!
It’s like Andy and I only exist in a parallel universe where everything begins with an M.
Bonus points for any listeners who can find any other significant M words in this conversation.
(I found one: metacognitive strategies)
This might be the last episode of LEP in 2021. I’m now moving to the new apartment and the new office, and spending some time in the UK for Christmas. Speak to you in 2022 (unless I manage to squeeze out another episode during the Christmas break)!
Author and illustrator Penny Dale talks about the process of creating successful books for children, including some of her most popular books such as Ten In The Bed and the Dinosaur series. Video version available. Audio version has 30mins extra rambling.
Audio Version (with 30mins extra rambling at the end)
Just before I introduce the episode properly, I have some Amber & Paul news for you. First of all, Amber and Paul will be back on the podcast very soon. It’s been a while since they made an appearance, but probably the next episode will be with them, which is nice. But also, Amber and I will be on Paul’s YouTube live show on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time.
Every Monday Paul does a live show called Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – you can find that by searching for it on YouTube. In the show he features guests and they respond to comments from the audience and generally talk and have fun. His next guests will be Amber and me (finally – we’re both going to be on it together) and that’s on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time. If you’re listening to this after that date and you’ve already missed it or if you can’t watch it live, you will be able to see the replay on Paul’s YouTube channel.
OK? So, if you’re keen for more Amber, Paul and Luke action – check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live on Monday 6 December at 8pm, either live or on replay.
Another thing – my merch stores are currently offering discounts, so if you’d like to get an LEP t-shirt or mug or hoodie or something – for yourself or as a Christmas present for another LEPster, now might be a good time because of discounts. Just go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch to find the merch stores.
Also, I hope you enjoyed the previous episode of this podcast – also with Penny Dale. I just wanted to let Premium LEPsters know that there is a premium episode in the pipeline, which will be called “What did Penny say?” and that’s going to cover vocabulary from our conversation about the Bath Arts Workshop. So, that’s coming. For all the info about LEP Premium, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
~ Jingle ~
Hello, so, let me tell you about his episode, briefly. In this one I am talking again to Penny Dale. This time we focus on her work as an author and illustrator of children’s books – and she’s had a very successful career doing that, which is quite rare.
I think this conversation is absolutely lovely – and I hope you agree. It’s just nice listening to Penny talking about her work, especially as the work itself is so thoughtful and done with a lot of care and attention, and it’s all for children.
Just to give you an overview, you are going to hear Penny talking about these things:
The process of creating successful books for children
Collaborating with editors and other writers
Adapting an old nursery rhyme into one of her most popular books
Inspiration vs craft
Managing to create a coherent story which would appeal to children (and publishers) within just 12 page spreads (usually)
Applying her fine art training to her work
The way language is used in children’s books – incorporating rhythm, rhyme, repetition, storytelling and perspectives – the point of view from which the story is told.
How she uses models in her illustration process to create the hyperreal and very detailed style that she is known for – in fact, several of the models she has used in the past are toys that she borrowed from a certain bedroom in a certain house.
This conversation includes references to some of her most popular titles, including Ten In The Bed, Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur Farm and Dinosaur Rocket.
The video version includes some pictures – that’s mostly Penny showing pages from her books, but she describes the images in some detail so even without the video version you should still get you a good idea of what her work actually looks like. But you can see the work in the video version. The audio version of this, which you listening to now, has more content in it – this introduction and there will an ending ramble from me of some kind too, so – take your pick. Video version on YouTube, audio podcast version, or both!
OK then, without any further ado, let’s find out about how Penny has created successful books for children.
Luke rambles about some upcoming content, the new Beatles documentary, and a few other things.
Amber & Paul on location in a famous museum – talking about some amazing works of art from various periods, including the Mona Lisa – that famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.
Don’t forget Paul Tayor’s Happy Hour Live (watch the replay if you missed the live stream) Monday 6 December at 8PM CET.
Andy Johnson will be back on the podcast soon (long term listeners might remember Andy)
I’m desperate to talk about the new Beatles documentary, and I think I will – when I get the chance!
Talks in English at the British Council in Paris – “Why we love The Beatles” <– my talk, which is scheduled for Thursday 27 January 2022 – 19.00
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]
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 Georgianarchitecture.
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 propsostensibly and it was an eye-popping experience.
It was a really tight outfit (a band, not clothes)
A pivotalfigure 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, centralhub 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!
Talking to Michael Lavers from the Level Up English Podcast about learning Japanese, embarrassing moments in language learning, social awkwardness and some “very British problems”. Are you as socially awkward as a British person? Let’s see how you and Michael would respond to some quiz questions that will test your British awkwardness to the max. Video version available.
Today on the podcast I am talking to Michael Lavers who is an English teacher from Cornwall in the South West of England. Michael also has a podcast for learners of English. It’s called The Level Up English Podcast – you might want to check it out if you haven’t already done so. It’s available wherever you get your podcasts.
As well as being an English teacher, Michael is also a language learner himself and in his podcast episodes he often talks with guests about experiences of learning other languages, including those embarrassing or awkward moments that happen when you feel shy or you make mistakes. Also, Michael has described himself as a socially awkward person who lacks a certain amount of confidence in himself. In fact, he says that one of the reasons he started his podcast was to try and gain some confidence by going out of his comfort zone.
So this is what I thought I would ask Michael about: his language learning experiences and those awkward and embarrassing moments, and then I’d like to chat about social awkwardness and whether this is a uniquely British thing. And we’re going to go into some specific examples of how this so-called British awkwardness manifests itself.
That’s the plan, so now, let’s meet Michael Lavers from the Level Up English Podcast.
Awkward Situations – Very British Problems
Here are some questions based on some tweets by the popular Twitter account, Very British Problems. Each one describes a specific problem that British people typically experience in social situations. They seem to sum up the experience of being a British person. We’re socially awkward – I don’t know why.
Let’s see how you respond to these questions. And listeners, I want you to consider your answers to these questions too, then we’ll see what Michael says, and then we’ll see the original tweets and we can see if they match up.
Questions & Tweets
How do you feel when you walk through the “nothing to declare” gate at an airport?
You’re sitting with a group of people. It’s time for you to leave. What do you say as you kind of slap your hands on your knees and stand up?
If someone says something to you but you don’t hear it, how many times are you willing to ask them to repeat themselves?
What do you say to your taxi driver as they approach the point where you want to get out of the cab?
If you’re on a train, sitting in the window seat with a passenger next to you, and your stop is approaching, what do you do to signal to the passenger in the aisle seat that you will need to get up?
You’re standing at the exit door of the train as it is pulling into the station, slowly coming to a stop, and there is a crowd of other passengers right behind you, eager to get off the train. The “Open door” button isn’t yet illuminated. What do you do? Do you press the button?
How do you feel when the ticket inspector inspects your perfectly valid ticket?
What do you say, modestly, to guests arriving in your home, even though you spent some time before their arrival, tidying things up?
There’s one last roast potato on the table at Sunday lunch. You want to eat it. How do you achieve this?
Just take it and eat it
Ask if you can eat it
Offer it to everyone else first
Do you ever tell your housemates or family that you are “off to bed” but then just stare at your phone in bed for an hour?
Imagine you are walking through a hallway with lots of doors in it, like in a library or something and you’re walking just behind a stranger who keeps having to hold the doors for you. How many different ways of saying “thanks” can you think of?
How do you end an email? Is there a subtly less friendly difference between kind regards and just regards?
What do you do when you get an incoming call from an unknown number?
How good are you at overtaking someone on foot?
Do you feel it necessary to speed up at all, when walking over a zebra crossing?
If you pay for something with exactly the right change, and you know it’s exactly the right change, do you wait for the cashier to count the money?
I have had some entries already. If you’ve sent me something, then thank you. Please send your designs to email@example.com and my brother and I will review the entries we receive, talk about them on the podcast and pick at least one to be featured in the LEP Merch store.
Think of a t-shirt that LEPsters would want to wear
PRIZE: The winning design will be put on t-shirts, mugs and other merch, and the winner will also win £80!
SPECS: A high-resolution transparent .PNG at 150dpi. Minimum dimensions of at least 1500px by 1995px (not including outer transparent pixels).
This is a swapcast between LEP and English with Ray, which means we are both uploading this to our podcasts/youtube channels.
Ray is an English teacher from Glasgow in Scotland (and you’ll be able to notice his accent, which is not the strongest Glaswegian accent I’ve ever heard but it’s definitely noticeable – which is great, because I love Scottish accents). Ray has recently started making videos on YouTube for learners of English.
One of his students – Ivan (from Russia I think) who is also a LEPster, suggested to Ray that he start doing that and that he also contact me for an interview, so that’s what you’re going to listen to or watch here. This is Ray Addam interviewing me for his channel.
This is a fairly relaxed and free-ranging conversation, and after chatting a bit about playing music and performing in front of people, we ended up talking about the psychology of learning English, particularly how to manage anxiety or nerves when using English in stressful situations, and then our comments about how to work on your confidence and how to have the right mental approach to learning a language, which is one of the most important steps to take.
So listen on for some comments and tips about how to manage your stress levels in English, how to become more confident in English and how to take control of your communication skills in general.
Thanks to Ray for sending this recording to me. You might want to check out his channel on YouTube, which is called English with Ray. He only has a few videos there at the moment, but everyone’s got to start somewhere. I’ve noticed that Ray also speaks fluent Arabic so any Arabic speaking LEPsters might be particularly interested in Ray’s content as he might have some insights into differences between Arabic and English. I haven’t actually asked him about that yet, but maybe it’s something he could work on in a future video.
Anyway, that’s it for this introduction and I will now let you listen to this conversation with Ray Addam, firstly about playing music in front of audiences of people, and then about the challenges of managing your confidence when using English in stressful situations. I will probably speak to you again briefly at the end of this chat, but for now, let’s get started.
Talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English understand the subtle codes of polite language when making requests and giving information in professional and personal contexts. In the conversation we explore the topic and consider some tips for making your language more culturally appropriate.
In this episode I am talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English to find the right tone in their speaking and writing. Tone is something which is very much affected by culture and often relates to things like being direct, indirect, formal, informal, the use of modal verbs and phrasal verbs and so on. In English the general tone is often quite friendly, indirect and polite, and this can sometimes cause problems for English speakers coming from different places where codes of politeness or professionalism are different.
Natasha has worked as an English teacher and has also worked in international contexts for the UN and so she has direct experience of observing people communicating in English and not quite getting the tone right.
So in her book, “Give me tea, please. Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language” she lays out a sort of style guide with theory, practical tips and a glossary of defined vocabulary at the back.
It sounds like an interesting book which could be a worthwhile read for my listeners, so I thought it would be good to chat with Natasha a little bit and explore some of the ideas presented in her book.
“Give me tea, please” is currently available on Amazon but from 24 September should be available from all other providers too.
Right, so now you know what sort of thing we’re going to be talking about, let’s meet Natasha Broodie and find out some of those practical tips for tasteful language.