Category Archives: Interview

747. Social Awkwardness / Very British Problems (with Michael Lavers from Level Up English)

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.

Audio Version

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and video viewers,

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?

  1. Just take it and eat it
  2. Ask if you can eat it
  3. 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?

Links

www.ewmichael.com

www.levelupenglish.school

A reminder of the LEP Design Competition

I have had some entries already. If you’ve sent me something, then thank you. Please send your designs to podcastcomp@gmail.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).
  • CLOSING DATE: 22 October 2021
  • Send your t-shirt designs to podcastcomp@gmail.com

745. Mental Factors in Learning English (with Ray Addam) [English with Ray SwapCast]

Talking to English teacher Ray Addam from Glasgow in Scotland about mental factors in learning English, such as anxiety, confidence, stress and motivation. Video version available on YouTube.

Audio Version (with extra ramble + song)

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Video Version

Introduction Transcript

Hello dear listeners,

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.

Links for Ray

Take online English lessons with Ray Addam on Preply preply.com/en/tutor/447455/

English with Ray on YouTube www.youtube.com/c/EnglishWithRay/featured

Song (audio version only) – “Questionnaire” by The Rutles genius.com/The-rutles-questionnaire-lyrics

743. Give me Tea, Please – Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language (with Natasha V Broodie) + ramble / song

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.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

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.


Give Me Tea, Please on Amazon


Ending

So that was Natasha V Broodie, talking about her book Give me tea, please – available from all good bookstores. Go ahead and pick up a copy and if you like it, leave a review on Amazon.

Thanks again to Natasha for her contribution in this episode.

A Short Ramble

T-shirts
Design comp – link here for details teacherluke.co.uk/2021/09/22/742-new-lep-t-shirts-merch-lep-design-competition-2021-with-james/
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Sneezing caused me to take a trip to tangent town…

Song – “Trouble” by Coldplay

tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/coldplay/trouble-chords-16491

732. Christian from Canguro English returns

Talking to Christian again about some of the themes and controversial opinions he talks about in his YouTube videos, plus some bits about men wearing thongs on the beach, an obsession with rabbits and if Christian was the Donald Trump of English teaching. Video version available.

Audio Version

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Video Version

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

How are you today? You are now listening to episode 732, and in this one I am talking again to Christian Saunders from Canguro English.

This is the second time I’m talking to him on the podcast. I previously interviewed Christian in episode 686 last year and got to know him a bit, but I wanted to talk to him again after having seen some of his most recent videos on YouTube about language and language learning.

In his videos Christian often challenges certain assumptions and myths about language learning, and so I thought it might be interesting to talk to him about those things, so I came up with some questions about language, learning language and teaching English on the internet.

There is a video version of this conversation on my YouTube channel too, so don’t forget to check it out and of course to like and subscribe while you’re there.

There’s no more for me to add here in the introduction. I hope you enjoy this conversation and get some good things from it. Once again, Christian’s YouTube channel is called Canguro English and his website is canguroenglish.com

Let’s get started.


So that was Christian from Canguro English. Thanks again to Christian.

And here we are, at the end of yet another episode. I wonder what you thought of the points which came up in that conversation? Feel free to let us know in the comment section or perhaps under the YouTUbe version of this. Where do you stand on things like comprehensible input, workbooks and clickbait titles? Let us know.

For me, this is one of the last episodes I’m recording before officially starting my summer holiday. As usual I have loads of stuff to record and publish before I go away, and I might end up recording some of it while I am back in the UK. But here’s a little overview of what’s in the pipeline right now.

  • A Summer Ramble
  • War of the Worlds
  • P31

So I have my work cut out.

In terms of holiday – we’re going back to the UK to stay at my parents’ place and we will have to deal with the whole quarantine thing, and the day 2 and day 8 testing process and all that. It’s quite annoying. But after we quarantine we will be going to a posh camp site for some “glamping” and generally spending a couple of weeks in the UK.

Meanwhile our new flat in Paris is being demolished (on the inside) and remade to our specifications. Let’s hope that all goes according to plan.

I’ll talk more about this stuff in that rambling episode which is coming up.

In any case, I will speak to you again soon.

But for now, it’s time to say, good bye bye bye…

730. Marie Connolly Returns (+ 2 songs)

Talking to author Marie Connolly about her new books for children, plus a story about how Jerry Seinfeld came to one of our comedy shows, with two songs on guitar at the end.

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Introduction & Ending Transcripts

Hello listeners,

Hello, hello, hello.

How are you doing? How is everything in your particular part of LEPland today as you listen to this? What’s going on? Where are you? How are you? Who are you? How’s your English? OK I hope. 

This podcast is here to help by giving you a source (not sauce) of authentic English to listen to on a regular basis. There are various ways you can use the podcast to improve your English but let’s just keep it simple and say – all you need to do is listen, try to follow what is being said and hopefully enjoy the process, even if it’s a bit difficult to understand every single thing. Sometimes you will find notes and transcripts on the page for each episode on my website. Checking them can also be a good idea.

I have another guest today. Marie Connolly is back on the podcast in this episode. She came over to the flat a few weeks ago to record this conversation.

I know Marie from doing stand up comedy both in London and Paris. Like a lot of my friends she does stand-up, and she has also worked as an English teacher but these days the main thing she does is write – she is mainly a writer now – an author – writing books both for adults and for children.

You might remember Marie from episode 683 in October last year, when she told us some funny stories about moments when French men have flirted with her, and the book that she wrote which contains all those stories. Episode number 683 – that’s the last time Marie was on the show.

But she is back again to tell us about a new series of books she has written, this time for children. So, if you know any kids aged 8 or above, and you want to encourage them to read something fun in English, these books could be a good choice. They are written for people with English as a first language, so they’re not for beginners, but they are fun and if your kids can read English, they might like these stories.

She’s going to tell us about those stories and the process of writing and self-publishing them  but this conversation also contains lots of other stuff too – including different types of extreme sports, the classic old topic of doing comedy to audiences from different countries, an anecdote about the time Jerry Seinfeld came to one of our comedy shows, some comments from listeners in response to Marie’s last apperance, and more stuff for your listening pleasure.

Right then. So let’s now enjoy the company of Marie Connolly once again. I will speak to you a bit more on the other side of this conversation, and here we go…

—–

Click here for links for Marie’s books: Dude’s Gotta Snowboard & More

—–

Ending Notes

Thanks again to Marie Connolly there. You can find her books on Amazon – her writing alias is Muddy Frank, and you could search for Dude’s Gotta Snowboard. 

There are also links on the page for this episode on my website.

So thanks again to Marie.

So how’s everything going with you?

I will say that things are pretty busy here, with a lot of work going on and also some fairly complicated general life stuff – basically, we are in the process of moving to a new flat, and if you’ve moved flat or moved house, you’ll know how complex and disruptive that can be. 

Of course, all our possessions will have to be packed in boxes, moved to a completely new place and then unpacked, and that’s after all the decoration and work we’re having done on the new place and all that stuff. I will be leaving my pod room, taking everything down. All the books are coming off the shelves, all my equipment will be boxed up, all the guitars are coming down, everything is moving. 

What is cool is that I am going to have my own dedicated office/recording space/pod-room. 

It’s going to be incredibly small – more of a cupboard than an office, but it will be my HQ for LEP, and it’s not going to be part of our new flat. It’s in a completely different location, but it’s 5 minutes on foot from our new place. Anyway, we have a LOT of stuff to get done and our lives will be kind of turned upside down over the next couple of months, plus we want to do a trip to the UK for a holiday and various other things, so I don’t know how this is going to affect the podcast. I suppose there’s a chance I won’t be able to record, which would be a pity, although I’m sure you’d understand. I would have to publish some premium content though.

Luckily I have a few episodes recorded and edited and ready to be published, and they will continue to arrive over the next few weeks, but meanwhile, things in LEP HQ are a little bit chaotic at the moment. I won’t go into it in further detail at this moment, but as I said I will try to publish a rambling episode with news and comments about what’s going on and maybe I’ll respond to some listener comments and stuff like that soon, ok. In any case, podcasts will be arriving as normal at least for the next 4 or 5 weeks, so everything should be ship shape in podcastland, even if things are a bit crazy behind the scenes. We will see if I can continue to create and publish content during the madness of the next few months.

I said I wouldn’t ramble here. I’ll save it all for a full on rambling episode next time.

In any case, I hope you are well out there in podcastland.

At the end of the episode I thought I would sing a couple of songs which I’ve been playing recently. 

They’re both by Beck.

Song Lyrics

Lost Cause by Beck genius.com/Beck-lost-cause-lyrics

Dead Melodies by Beck genius.com/Beck-dead-melodies-lyrics

728. English with Rob / Games, Music & Jingles

My guest today is Rob from English with Rob (podcast/YouTube). Rob is an English teacher, musician from England, and my former colleague. This episode includes lots of musical fun, some chatting about how we make our podcasts, fun word games and much more. Video version also available on YouTube.

Audio Version

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Video Version

Intro Transcript

Hello listeners, and video viewers.

In this episode I’m talking to Robert Dylan Walker, aka Rob from English with Rob – the podcast and YouTube channel.

Rob and I already know each other in fact as we used to be colleagues at the British Council, until Rob moved to Germany.

Basically – Rob is an English teacher, a YouTuber and a podcaster. He’s also a musician who likes to make music for his podcast, a photographer and video maker, who likes to use various special effects in his videos, and he’s into jokes and films and things like that, so he’s an ideal guest for me to talk to on this podcast.

The plan is to have a bit of a ramble chat, focusing on things like how we both make our podcasts, especially how we include bits of music in our episodes – and later in this episode we will be playing some of our podcast jingles, breaking them down a bit, explaining how we made them, and we had homework for this episode  – to record jingles for each other’s podcasts, but I think that we both ended up recording songs rather than jingles.

So stick around to hear some of our music and generally to get to know Rob a bit, and find out about his podcast and YouTube channel, which you might want to check out as a good resource to help you in your continuing journey to improve your English.

Ending

That was an epic one. Thanks again to Rob for his contribution. Don’t forget to check out English with Rob wherever you get your podcasts and on YouTube.

I hope you enjoyed the bits about music and making jingles and that you didn’t get too exhausted by the length. Hopefully you just got carried away and enjoyed getting a nice big dose of English listening into your week. 

If you’re interested in more stuff about jingles, then check out the Luke’s English Podcast App – free in the app store. It has a category called Jingles where you can hear most of the jingles I’ve made for the podcast, like the Amber & Paul jingle and more. There’s also that full app-only episode in which I break down every single sample from the LEP Jingle Megamix.

And on the subject of music, you can check out my recent tunes, like the English with Rob song that I did for this podcast and some other little bits of music I’ve been making recently – you can check them out on my soundcloud page. 

My user name is LEPTunes. 

Links

The last one is a link to the music page on my website where you can find all the Korg Kaossilator tunes I’ve ever made, and also old music mixes I’ve made with my brother and a few comedy tracks too with James.

So, plenty of music stuff to get into. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode. I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now it’s time to say good bye…

723. Bahar from Iran 🇮🇷 (WISBOLEP Runner-Up)

This is the final episode in the WISBOLEP competition series, speaking to Bahar from Iran about the 7-step method she used to improve her English and develop a British-sounding accent. Bahar used to be a terrible student who hated English, but then she made a decision to focus on her English in her own way. Listen to her explain how she did it.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, this is the final episode in the WISBOLEP series – Why I Should Be On Luke’s English Podcast. As you probably know, this was a competition I launched last year in which listeners chose other listeners who they would like to be interviewed in an episode of the podcast, and so far we’ve had 5 people, all of whom have managed to improve their English to a proficient level, while living in a non-English speaking environment for the most part, without having English speaking people in their family or close friends. So these have been stories of English learning success, which I seriously hope have been inspiring and interesting for you to listen to.

This conversation is with Bahar from Iran. Bahar actually came 5th in the competition, but she happened to be the last person I interviewed.

As you will hear, Bahar’s English is excellent but that wasn’t always the case. In fact, according to her she used to be a terrible student who hated English and who couldn’t string a sentence together. But now it’s a completely different story. She is proficient in English, she has a lovely clear accent and is confident and talkative, and loves this language. So how did she do it?

That is the main focus of this episode. Bahar tells us the story of her English journey, and she outlines her 7-step method for improving her English, especially her pronunciation. 

Yes, she has come up with a 7-step method. To be clear, she defined this method in retrospect, meaning that having improved her English to a good level she then looked back at what she had done and consolidated her approach into 7 clear steps, and she’s going to go through the entire thing in this episode.

Now, you can try to follow Bahar’s method, but one of the main points here is that you can actually come up with your own method for improving your English as long as you maintain certain key principles in your learning. 

There’s no need for me to add much more here really, except that you will find links to the various resources Bahar mentions during this conversation. Those are resources that she has found to be especially useful. You’ll find links to those things on the page for this episode on my website.

So now I will let you meet Bahar from Iran, currently living in Italy and here we go.


Ending Transcript

So that was Bahar from Iran. Thanks again to Bahar for her contribution. She definitely put a lot of effort into preparing herself for this conversation, coming up with some clearly defined steps and thinking about how she could go into some specific details about the things that worked for her. So, thanks Bahar for doing that.

You will see the hand drawn infographic that Bahar created to show her 7 steps – you’ll see it on the page for this episode on my website, and as the image for this episode on YouTube.

Perhaps the main point is that you can create your own method for learning English. Just go with whatever works for you. There isn’t one single best approach. You just have to make sure you are working with English on a regular basis, that you do things which bring you some joy (there’s no point slogging away with something that you just don’t like doing), you should attempt to maintain a positive and beneficial cycle in your approach to English, try to find your own personal motivation for learning the language, say to yourself “I’m going to do this and I’m going to do it my way” and then just put the time in. 

Also, don’t underestimate the importance of just spending plenty of time listening and don’t apply too much pressure to yourself. Let it happen naturally and in its own time. I hope my podcast helps to make this easier.

Again, check the page for this episode on my website where you’ll find links to things that Bahar mentioned, including the BBC Sounds of English pronunciation course, British Council Elementary Podcasts and so on.

That’s for this episode. Thank you for listening. Leave your comments and feedback in the comment section and have a fantastic day, night, morning, afternoon or evening and I will speak to you soon.

But now it’s time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye.

Useful Links

The Sounds of English (BBC Pronunciation Course) www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/oromo/features/the-sounds-of-english

On YouTube www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLD6B222E02447DC07

British Council Podcasts and Listening Resources at Different Levels learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/skills/listening

Pearson graded readers www.pearson.com/english/catalogue/readers.html

722. Discussing John Lennon with Antony Rotunno

The second in a short series about The Beatles, this one focuses on the life of John Lennon, with an overview of his life story, some thoughts about his psychology and some rambling discussion questions about this iconic British musician, with podcaster, English teacher and musician Antony Rotunno.

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Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, I hope you’re doing well today and that you are ready for this new episode of my podcast. You join me here in my pod-room as the rain falls down above my head. Conditions are perfect for learning British English. Let’s get started.

This is a continuation of this short series of episodes I’m doing about The Beatles and this one focuses mostly on John Lennon. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this iconic British musician then this episode is for you. Also, if you’re already a Beatles fan or a John Lennon fan then I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear this conversation too.

My guest for this episode is Antony Rotunno from England and Antony is very knowledgeable about John Lennon and his life. In fact I feel like I couldn’t have found a better person to talk to about this subject.

One of the reasons for that is that Antony is also an English teacher. He’s been teaching English as a foreign language to adults for over 18 years, and for obvious reasons it’s always useful to have a guest who has experience of working with learners of English.

Antony is also a podcaster so he is used to talking to audiences over the internet from his home in England. Antony’s podcast is all about John Lennon.

And he probably knows all there is to know about John Lennon because he’s read everything out there on the subject and for his podcast he has interviewed lots of people connected to Lennon, including authors and people who actually knew John himself – people with first-hand accounts of meeting him.

So Antony really knows a lot about John Lennon.

And we had a really good, really long conversation for this podcast, covering various things like John Lennon’s life story. This is the first part of that conversation.

Let me just explain my reasons for doing this series of episodes about the Beatles. I probably don’t need to explain this, but allow me to give my reasons.

So, this is a 5 part series actually. I published the first part with my mum in episode 717, which was a review of a book about The Beatles, followed by a general Beatles ramble.

The rest of the series will be this conversation I had with Antony divided into 4 parts. But it’s not just going to be us rambling on about Lennon for all that time. I’ve also decided to employ some of Antony’s English teaching skills in order to cover some language too, specifically in parts 3, 4 and 5 of this series as we focus on descriptive adjectives for describing personality traits, and then some analysis of the lyrics from Beatles songs, with various nice phrases and idioms to learn. So there should be plenty of English learning opportunities to take from this whole series.

John Lennon is a hugely significant person in terms of modern history, and of course being English he is very much part of our culture, and as we move forwards in time it seems that the significance of the Beatles and everyone’s interest in them is not waning. If anything, they continue to grow in stature. 

And even if you’re not into the Beatles, hopefully this can be a chance to learn some new things about this band that is held in such high esteem by so many people.

I promise you – I’m willing to say I promise you here, that if you listen to this, you will know more about John Lennon than before you listened to it.

And if you’re wondering when we’re going to get to the music, part 5 will be all about Beatles lyrics and there will be some guitar playing as well.

First we will get to know Antony a bit and ask him about his podcasts, and then you’ll hear him talk about how he got into The Beatles and John Lennon in particular, then Antony is going to give a brief overview of John’s life and career and finally I’m going to ask Antony a few John Lennon discussion questions.

Let’s get started.

Ending Transcript

So that was episode 2 in this 5 part Beatles mini series, all about John Lennon.

Thanks again to Antony for his expertise. 

The other John Lennon episodes will follow over the next few weeks.

Do you feel that you know more about John Lennon than you did before you  listened to this?

I hope so.

I wonder what new things you learned from this. Feel free to leave your comments below.

I won’t say much more here, except that it’s been really interesting to talk to Antony and I look forward to the next few episodes in which we go into teacher mode and look at some descriptive adjectives and then song lyrics.

But that’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening. Be excellent to each other and I will speak to you soon.

716. Interview with a Pop Star from the 1960s – Megan Brady from The Applejacks

An interview with Megan Brady, who was the bass player in The Applejacks – a pop band from Birmingham in the 1960s who had a top 5 record, met The Beatles and performed on TV shows and at concerts in the UK.

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Introduction (After the main LEP Jingle)

Hello listeners. In this episode you’re going to listen to me in conversation with Megan Brady who was a pop star in the 1960s. Yes, a proper pop star. She was in a band which had a top 10 single, she was on the radio, she appeared on a lot of the music TV shows, she met loads of other pop stars of the moment including the Beatles – yes she met The Beatles, and in fact John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave her band a song which they recorded – their second single actually, the band were featured in the music magazines and no doubt many teenagers all over the country had her photo on their bedroom walls. Yeah, proper pop star stuff. So this is the story of Megan’s career in music in the 1960s.

You might be thinking – which band was Megan in? Well the band was called The Applejacks – you might not have heard of them. They’re not one of the big bands that we now think of when we look back at the 1960s, and they didn’t really reach fame on an international level but they were certainly part of the scene, and were well known at the time. My mum was a fan of The Applejacks, for example. 

Of course we know about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones but there was a whole wave of other groups from all over the UK who were playing a new form of music and so many young people were really into it, and that includes The Applejacks who were from the Birmingham area. 

The 1960s was a really fruitful period in terms of modern British culture and I am proud of that part of our history. I find it fascinating, I like the music and I like the stories of the people involved, and I hope you do too.

My guest is Megan Brady (although she was known as Megan Davies in those days) Megan was the bass guitar player in the band, and at the time it was quite uncommon to have a female musician in a group. We’re talking about the early to mid 1960s. There were female singers, but you hardly ever saw girls actually playing instruments in bands, and so that was one of the unique things about The Applejacks. 

So, yes, you’re going to hear Megan talking about all of this, as well as other details like her other career as a clinical physiologist in neurophysiology in the National Health Service (that basically involves studying people’s brain waves) and just stuff about playing the bass guitar, how she’s still working on her technique and things like that.

I know Megan because I’m mates with one of her sons, Jake – or Jacob as she calls him. I met Jake at sixth form college and we played music together in bands over the years.

I was always really impressed by the fact that his parents were both professional musicians, or had been professional musicians at various times because I was so into music from the 60s and 70s including a lot of the artists that Jake’s Mum and Dad had worked with or brushed shoulders with over the years. 

For example, I was really into Jimi Hendrix when I was 16 or 17 and I remember talking to Jake about Hendrix and he told me that they actually had Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal at their home somewhere. A wah-wah pedal is a kind of guitar pedal. Jake wasn’t bragging really, he thought it was cool too, and he just wanted to share it with me and I believed him! “Hey, you like Jimi Hendrix – check this out, we’ve got Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal at home! Come over I’ll show it to you!” Whaaat? Etc. 

Also, I went to Jake’s house one day and I was hanging out in his bedroom listening to some of his music, and his mum’s bass guitar was sitting there – a nice Fender Jazz bass – and I picked it up and played it a little bit, and Jake said to me “Oh yeah, Jimi Hendrix played that bass once!” I couldn’t believe it! Hendrix played the same bass that was actually in my hands. It turned out that Jake’s mum knew Hendrix a bit, back in the old days and he once had a little go on her bass guitar – the same one that was in Jake’s bedroom that time.

Eventually I learned more and my parents told me more about Megan and that she had played bass in The Applejacks in the 60s and they were one of the popular groups of the time. 

So that’s how I know Megan. I am friends with her son, and now I’ve finally taken the initiative to interview her on this podcast. Megan is lovely and she was happy to do this, which I really appreciate.

Vocabulary

Before we start, I need to just explain a few words that you’ll hear but you might now know. 

  • The Scouts / The Scout Association / Cub Scouts / Girl Guides / Brownies – The Scouts is a worldwide movement for young people (it used to be just boys, but these days it’s for boys and girls I think), founded as the Boy Scouts in England in 1908 by Lord Baden-Powell with the aim of developing character and responsibility. My brother and I used to be Scouts and so did my dad. What kinds of things did we do?Megan was in the Scouts and so were most of the other members of The Applejacks. That’s how they met.
  • Gang show
  • Cub mistress
  • Scout hut
  • Skiffle
  • Skiffle numbers (songs)
  • The Shadows
  • A cruise / a cruise ship / Cunard Cruises
  • The Queen Mary and the QE2
  • Top of the Pops
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital – a famous hospital in London specialising in pediatric care (medical care for children) Where Megan has worked since the late 1990s.
  • Bass guitar stuff – Just a heads up – things will get a bit geeky and specific sometimes in this conversation as we talk about playing the bass guitar, different types of bass guitar and Megan’s bass playing technique. During lockdown she’s been practising with an online bass guitar teacher called Scott Divine from Scott’s Bass Lessons. I didn’t want to cut those parts out of the conversation because I personally find those things really interesting, Megan was enthusiastic about them and so who’s to say that you won’t find them interesting too?
  • Parts of a guitar – The head, the machine heads & tuning pegs, the neck, the body, the pickups, the scratchplate (or pickguard), the pick, the bridge.
  • Fender Jazz Bass vs Fender Precision Bass

Right, without any further ado then, let’s listen to Megan Brady talking about playing the bass guitar and her story of being a pop star in the 1960s. 

And to lead us into this I’m going to play a little sample of The Applejack’s first and most successful single which was called Tell Me When, released in 1964…


Ending

Ending song – Baby Jane by The Applejacks

Thanks again to Megan for taking the time to talk to us about all of that.

You might be wondering why I didn’t get Megan to play some bass for us, which would have been really nice of course.

I didn’t want to put her on the spot, plus for us to hear it properly she’d need to plug it into something like an amplifier and connecting an electric guitar to a computer and playing the sound during a call is a bit tricky too, so it wasn’t really possible at that particular moment.

But you can hear songs by The Applejacks on Spotify and YouTube.

I’ll be sharing some bits and pieces on the page for this episode, including a video filmed in 1964 I think, of Megan performing with The Applejacks, which is a great little sample of the time and you can see her playing I think her Hohner semi-acoustic bass.

The super-long introduction that I recorded but didn’t use – you’ll find it as bonus audio in the app. I go into more details about how I first met Megan’s son Jake and also some other ramblings about The Applejacks…

Tell Me When (Their biggest hit)

Like Dreamers Do (by Lennon/McCartney)

I Go To Sleep (by Ray Davies of The Kinks)

Baby Jane

The Applejacks on Spotify

715. Catching up with Craig Wealand [LEP/AIRC Swapcast]

Exchanging questions with English teacher Craig Wealand from “Apprender Ingles con Resa y Craig” about COVID-19, living in Europe post-Brexit, my daughter’s English, getting proper tea in France and Spain, teaching English on Zoom, the worst jobs we’ve ever had + more, with a song on the guitar at the end.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

I hope you are doing well today. Here’s another new episode of my podcast for you to get stuck into as part of your regular English listening practice.

This is episode number 715 and this is the very first swapcast I’ve ever done. After over 12 years of this podcast, here is the first swapcast  and I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking “But Luke, what is a swapcast?”

You might be wondering what a swapcast is. A swapcast, in the world of podcasting, is when two podcasters get together to record one episode which is then published, often simultaneously, on the two respective podcast feeds. So, that’s one recording that’s published on both podcasts. It can be a good way to introduce audiences to new podcasts that they might want to listen to, and it’s just a way for podcasters to collaborate with each other. A swapcast. 

And that brings me to the guest I have on this podcast today.

Over 5 years ago now, in early 2016, I spoke to Craig Wealand in episode 334 of this podcast. He also interviewed me on his show as well … and then just recently we decided to do it again, this time in the form of a swapcast.

I feel like using the word swapcast is unnecessary but it’s one of those podcast things. Podcast people kind of like (often say) “OK guys we’re going to do a swapcast this week” and so I feel like “Ooh, I’d like to use the word swapcast too please.” So that’s why I’m saying it! Anyway… Craig Wealand. 

Now some of you will know Craig, not only because you might have heard episode 334, but also because you might listen to his podcast. You’ll hear us talking about it a bit in this conversation, but here are some basic Craig facts.

Craig is originally from England, but for over a decade now he’s been living in Spain, in Valencia, to be more specific … Craig is an English teacher with loads of experience, and he also has a podcast, called Apprender Ingles con Resa y Craig, which he does with his friend Resa, who is also an English teacher. That’s in Spanish. Basically it means Learn English with Resa and Craig.

I really want to recommend AIRC (let’s call it that – as an acronym). I really want to recommend Craig’s podcast – AIRC, as it is also known, to any LEPsters out there who speak Spanish as a first language, because Craig and Resa often focus specifically on teaching English to speakers of Spanish as a first language. They focus on themes and language issues that are relevant to the Spanish speaking world. I think it can also be really interesting for non-Spanish speaking people too, and I think in their audience they have people from various other places as well that don’t have Spanish as a first language, but it is especially useful for Spanish speakers from all over the world. You can find Craig’s podcast in all the usual places, but his website is inglespodcast.com

So for this swapcast we decided to catch up with each other after not having spoken for 5 years. I won’t say much more, but we kind of take turns asking each other questions and our conversation covers things like living in Spain or France post-Brexit, my daughter’s English, teaching English in the post COVID-19 world both in classrooms and on Zoom, and plenty of other things. I’ll let you discover them all as you listen.

One thing I should say is that our interview was plagued by a few interruptions and background noises (on my side of my conversation – for some reason everything was very noisy on this particular day) including the sound of a vacuum cleaner (a Hoover), air-raid sirens in Paris (which make a similarly distracting noise) and also the postman arriving at my door to deliver a package.

*Luke rambles and rants for a few minutes about his postman, who doesn’t want to climb the stairs in the building.

Sorry about all the noises and interruptions that you might hear, but I think I’ve managed to remove most of the noises, so it’s probably not a big issue, and I didn’t even need to say this! But apologies in advance for any distracting noises, and also when you hear Craig and me referring to those interruptions, at least now you’ll know what we’re talking about.

OK, that’s enough for this introduction. I’ll let you now listen to this swapcast conversation which will also be published on the AIRC podcast, between me in Paris and Craig in Valencia. I will chat to you again on the other side of the conversation. But now, let’s get started!

Links for Craig’s podcast and website

Podcast links for Apprender Ingles con Resa 7 Craig

Website link for InglesPodcast.com

Ending Transcript

So that was me talking to Craig Wealand from the Apprender Ingles con Resa y Craig podcast, which is available at inglespodcast.com and wherever you get your podcasts. It was nice to talk to Craig again. It’s always nice to talk to Craig. 

Let’s see. I’m going to ramble a little bit at the end and maybe sing a song right at the end of the episode with my guitar, but I will leave it until the end. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of my singing, that’s fine.

So, what shall I say? I should say that links to our previous conversations are available on the page for this episode. You can find them easily☝️. That includes Episode 334, and also episode 335 which is a language review of the vocabulary that came up in episode 334, and Episode 335 is similar to the kind of thing I do in LEP Premium episodes these days – going through a conversation, picking out bits of language, highlighting them, demonstrating them, giving more examples, collocations, synonyms, that kind of thing. So episode 335 is a bit similar to the sort of thing I do in premium episodes these days but with a bit less detail and no pronunciation drills. But still, I do recommend that you listen to episode 335 either before or after hearing episode 334.

334. Interview with Craig Wealand (from InglesPodcast)

335. VOCABULARY REVIEW: Phrases & Expressions from Episode 334.

So – 334 and 335. Also you’ll find a link to Craig’s interview with me which actually was published in early 2015.

www.inglespodcast.com

And of course there’s Craig’s version of this conversation which will be published to all his AIRCoholics. You might want to check it out too because it might be slightly different to this one, depending on how Craig chooses to edit it.

I’m quite curious to see how Craig has managed to deal with the various audio issues that we had during this conversation, but Craig is a bit of an audio maestro so he should know what he’s doing. But, the vacuum cleaner, the air raid sirens, the delivery of my Herbie Hancock book and so on. I wonder how Craig’s managed to deal with those bits.

I actually had to cut out entire sections of our conversation due to the high-pitched sound made by the vacuum cleaner in the next room. I thought it was just too distracting. I thought, “No, I’m not going to publish that. There’s, like, EEEEEEEEEE. An EEE sound.” We don’t want that, do we? EEE sounds.

By the way, as you know I normally don’t record with other noises in the background, I try and make sure there aren’t noises around although long-term listeners will remember the sounds in previous episodes. I have been interrupted by different noises in the past, like for example the sounds of police sirens, sounds of police cars in the background when I lived in London and I recorded my podcast in my flat there, also the sound of my washing machine spinning like mad in the background, the sound of breaking glass and the bottle bins being emptied in the street below my sky-pod where I used to record episodes where I used to live, and the sounds of angry drivers beeping their horns and arguing in the streets below me and other things. So there have been noises in the past.

But in this particular case, we had a guy round to our flat to do a spring clean … and he was the one doing the hoovering, the vacuuming and there was just no other time he could do it.

I’m not apologising, in this instance anyway. I just thought you might be wondering who was doing the vacuuming, and if it was my wife. I just got this idea that some of you imagined that my wife was downstairs doing the vacuuming. But here’s a revelation for you – I’m normally the one who operates the hoover in our flat, so there. I do hoovering, washing up, dishwasher stuff, and my wife handles laundry, and we share everything else pretty much.

I’m actually not allowed to do laundry because of all the times I’ve ruined items of my wife’s clothing by washing them on the wrong settings … I’ve shrunk sweaters and spoiled other items of clothing … I’m oversharing now, but anyway, there was a glimpse into my domestic life. Talking of my domestic life – my wife and my daughter, I must get them back onto the podcast at some point, in fact.

As you may know, my wife is like the Royal correspondent for LEP. She’s just slightly obsessed with the royal family in the UK and we might record a royal family update at some point, in which we chat about Prince Philip, who sadly passed away recently, and of course the whole Meghan and Harry thing.

I say “might” because it’s not certain. I’m not completely sure that I want to weigh in on the Meghan and Harry vs Buckingham Palace controversy. I’m not sure what to think about it, and anyway, I feel like the world has moved on from the story recently. Anyway, it would be nice to talk to my wife on the podcast again soon, and it’s encouraging to know that the citizens of LEPland enjoy listening to her contributions.

Also, it’s probably time to do another recording with my daughter in order to observe the progress of her English. As I said to Craig, she does speak quite a lot of French, which is great of course, but for this English podcast we want her to speak English, right? As I said, she still uses a mix of French and English in her sentences, often switching between the two languages mid-sentence.

For example “Can I have some rigolo fromage, please Daddy cherie? Parce-que je like that, me.

That means, “Can I have some funny cheese please Daddy, darling? Because I like that, me.”

… Luke rambles briefly about being judged for his dodgy French…

We’re still waiting for the languages to diverge. They will, eventually, in time. 

Anyway, this is pretty much it now for this episode. Thanks for listening all the way up to this point.

I think I will do a song on the guitar now, so if that’s not your cup of tea then feel free to hit the ejector seat at this point. You can eject at this point if you don’t want to hear my song.

Otherwise, if you carry on listening I’m assuming you’re happy to hear me sing, and so I don’t need to be concerned about you losing your hearing or anything as a result of this.

OK, so I will say bye bye bye bye bye to you now, but stick around for the song if you want.

Thank you for listening as ever, take care, be excellent to each other, good luck with your English. I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now – bye bye bye bye bye.

Song

Tired of Waiting For You by The Kinks

Chords and Lyrics here tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-kinks/tired-of-waiting-for-you-chords-1055168