Category Archives: Learning

768. English Teaching Methodologies (with Gabriel Clark)

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!

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Video Version (with no ramble at the end)

Come to my talk at the British Council in Paris – 19 May 7PM – www.britishcouncil.fr/evenements/talks-english-comedie

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


766. Learning English with The News (with Stephen from SEND7 Podcast)

Talking to Stephen from the Simple English News Daily podcast about learning English with the news and whether BBC reporters actually speak like normal humans.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello folks, a very quick introduction from me.

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.

Ending

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)

762. Meditation & Learning English (with Antony Rotunno)

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.

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www.teacherluke.co.uk/english

Introduction Transcript / Links / Show Notes

Hello listeners and welcome back to the podcast. 

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. 

lifeandlifeonly.podbean.com/e/episode-4-the-joys-and-wonders-of-meditation-part-1-of-2/

lifeandlifeonly.podbean.com/e/episode-5-the-joys-and-wonders-of-meditation-part-2-of-2/

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.

Antony Rotunno

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.

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

756. Learn English with LEP in 2022 / A New Year Ramble

In this episode I’m going to wish you a Happy New Year, ramble a little bit about what’s going on in LEPland, restate some of my aims and objectives for this podcast, and give a few comments on how you can use the podcast to improve your English, with reference to some recommended episodes from the archive.

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Episode Notes & Links

Happy New Year everyone! (new listeners, long-term listeners, mid-term listeners and anyone else who happens to be listening)

All the best for 2022. Try to keep up your motivation for learning English throughout the year. I hope I can help. That is my aim.

How was your Christmas/New Year? Did you have a holiday? What did you do?
What’s the situation Luke, as you record this? (summarise the last couple of weeks, and what’s going on around you)

I might not be able to upload episodes regularly for the next few weeks. If LEP goes quiet – I am still here and still working, but not able to record or upload because of all the different disruptions. My life is like a puzzle at the moment and I am putting all the pieces back together.

LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST – AIMS

  • To provide a resource of authentic speech for learners of English.

Episode suggestions
All of them! Especially ones which are unscripted. 

  • To inform my audience about methods and strategies for improving their English.

Episode suggestions
174. How to learn English with Luke’s English Podcast

251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know About LEP

669. How to Learn English

  • To educate my listeners about the English language by explaining or providing examples of grammar.

Episode suggestions
Premium episodes www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo (articles, sentence structure, present perfect tense, narrative tenses, modal verbs about the past, quantifiers and more) but also a lot of episodes in the archive deal with grammar. Here’s a selection.

19. Passive Verb Forms

29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses

44. Telling Anecdotes

53. Discussing Grammar with My Brother

69. Common Errors / Typical Mistakes

176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review (should be premium really!)

263. Past, Present & Future A chance to really understand the tenses in English, with lots of context.

372. The Importance of Anecdotes in English / Narrative Tenses / Four Anecdotes This episode has a bit of everything: useful tips for telling anecdotes, a review of narrative verb tenses, some authentic spoken anecdotes by members of my family and some vocabulary explanations.

406. Grammar (Past Continuous Tense) / UK Media Bias / Brazil Football Tragedy A review of the differences between past continuous tense and past simple tense

518. Grammar Questions (Part 1) Present Perfect Continuous / Future Continuous / Language of Newspaper Headlines – Answering grammar questions from listeners, with details about verb tenses (including present continuous vs present perfect continuous & future continuous vs going to) and the language of newspaper headlines.

518b is in the LEP app – [App-only Episode] 518b Grammar Questions (Part 2) Hope vs Wish / Relative Clauses (an overview) / Prepositions

  • To enrich the vocabulary of my listeners by presenting and teaching natural English usage in context.

Suggested episodes
Check the archive here
teacherluke.co.uk/archive-of-episodes-1-149/ and try doing a command+F search for vocabulary, or search for the word vocabulary in the app.

  • To entertain my audience by producing fun and interesting content specifically targeted at learners of English as a second language.

  • To highlight particular aspects of English (language) culture including themes about Britishness, accounts of key moments in history, politics and the arts, with a particular focus on comedy and film.

Suggested episodes
Search the archive for the words British and comedy
The Rick Thompson Report, Film Club, British Comedy, Luke’s D-Day Diary, and more…

  • To raise awareness of many features of British English pronunciation and provide practice of repeating certain phrases or constructions.

Suggested episodes
All premium episode series have dedicated pronunciation episodes. Also, these ones:

224. Pronunciation: Verb Tenses & Connected Speech Learn how native speakers really pronounce sentences in different tenses.

485 & 486. Difficult Words to Pronounce in English (with Paul Taylor) (Parts 1 & 2) + video This is a double episode with two audio episodes on one page, and it’s all about difficult pronunciation in English. 

682. Key Features of English Accents, Explained – Exploring the main differences between standard English pronunciation (RP) and non-standard regional or colloquial accents. 

And various episodes about accents…

  • To keep my audience engaged in the listening process long term, by providing a resource to help them laugh while they learn.

  • To make people laugh out loud on public transport while listening to the podcast!

  • To dominate the world with an army of LEP ninjas equipped with biscuits and good English. …Ok, one of my listeners asked me to add this as an aim for my podcast, ha ha! (Thanks Chriss Benitez)

Those episodes can be found in the LEP app or via the episode archive. Most good podcasting apps will have the entire archive, but I think iTunes or Apple Podcasts doesn’t show all episodes. YouTube doesn’t show all episodes either. Only some of my episodes are on YT. I’d like them all to be there (just the audio) eventually.

HOW TO USE LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH

People from all over the world use my podcasts to improve their English, and lots of people email me to tell me how much they love the podcast and find it useful. Some of you might be wondering how you can improve your English by using the podcast. I’ll tell you more about this in a moment, but let me first recommend a couple of podcast episodes you could listen to.

Click here to listen to an episode with lots of advice and suggestions for improving your English with L.E.P. It has a transcript too. (Episode 174)

Click here for an episode called “16 things you should know about LEP”. (Episode 251)

Many people tell me they are completely addicted to the show. Usually they say that they found the podcast via one episode in particular and then start listening to all the others before becoming completely hooked. I have quite a hard-core following. The podcast won the Macmillan Dictionary Award four times and was nominated for a British Council ELTon award, so I must be doing something right!

L.E.P combines English teaching with plenty of entertaining conversation, humour and genuine insight into the culture of the English language. My methodology and approach are based on the idea that language is acquired by engaging with it in authentic form, over longer periods of time. Although this is not the only way to improve your English, listening to natural authentic speech over quite long periods of time can greatly improve your listening skills, pronunciation and vocabulary. This goes on to improve your spoken English, and your general instinct for grammar. I try to balance this approach by regularly recording episodes in which I directly teach you vocabulary, pronunciation or grammar.

Good grammatical awareness is based on instinct as much as on active knowledge of the rules of English. When you take an English exam you have to answer questions that test your knowledge and use of grammar or vocabulary. For example, consider this question:
FILL THE GAP IN THE SENTENCE WITH THE APPROPRIATE WORD
“I just can’t rely __ this car any more. It keeps breaking down. I need a new one.”

1. with          2. from        3. on          4. to

The answer is ‘3. on’, of course.
How did you know the answer? Really think about it. How did you know that ‘on’ was right? Do you remember learning ‘rely on’ in a book, or in a class? Maybe you did. But, for many of you, the answer just felt correct. Your instinct just said ‘on’. Well, this instinct is what you develop when you read or listen to the language a lot. Your brain builds up a kind of memory bank of all the words you have seen and heard. So, when you see ‘rely ___’ you automatically feel that ‘on’ is the right answer. Why? Because you’ve seen/heard ‘rely on’ lots of times!

The point is, that listening to English a lot can really help you to get a ‘feel’ for the language. You learn grammar rules by the frequency in which you hear patterns. You learn about good pronunciation by hearing the language a lot. You develop an ‘ear’ for English.

It’s just like when you live in a foreign country to learn English. It’s the best way to learn a language. Just live in that country and get completely surrounded by the language every day. Eventually you pick it up and learn it well. That’s because you’re hearing it so much and you’re getting used the rhythm and intonation. Every language has a beat. You can learn the beat of English by hearing it a lot.

So, you can use Luke’s English Podcast to do this. It’s like living in another country. You can listen a lot, pick up bits of vocabulary, get a ‘feel’ for the language, understand pronunciation and all kinds of cultural stuff. Not only that, but many listeners tell me the best thing about the podcast is simply that it makes them laugh out loud.

So, enjoy the podcasts and good luck with your English.

CLICK HERE FOR ThE ARCHIVE OF ALL THE EPISODES OF LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST.

754. Learning & Teaching English in The Metaverse / The Mandalorian (with Andy Johnson)

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)

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Video Versions (just the conversation with Andy, in two parts)

Find out more about learning English in the metaverse using Fluent Worlds Academy here academy.fluentworlds.com/

Introduction Transcript

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!


Learn English in the metaverse with Fluent Worlds Academy here academy.fluentworlds.com/


Ending

How many M words came up in this episode? 

  • Millenials
  • Marathons
  • Moving
  • Moby
  • Metaverse
  • Multiverse
  • Metaphysical
  • Mandalorian
  • Marvel
  • Matrix

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)!

Bye bye bye!

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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Video Version

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

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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

741. Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Learn English from some jokes in this episode as we go through 9 jokes chosen as the best of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe stand up comedy scene this year (2021). Let me tell you the jokes, see if you understand them, and then I will break them down for language learning opportunities. Video version available.

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Episode Transcript / Notes

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Hello listeners, hello video viewers. How are you? How is the world treating you today? Not too badly I hope. 

Here’s a new episode. So stick with me. Listen closely. Pay attention. You can definitely learn some new English from this. Let’s get started.

Introduction

It’s time to dissect the frog again as we look at some of the most popular jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of this year 2021. I’m going to read them to you and then explain them so you can understand them fully and also learn some new vocabulary in the process. 

This is something I’ve been doing every year at the end of the Ediburgh Festival when the list of the most popular jokes is published in the newspapers. 

Last year I didn’t do one of these episodes because Ed Fringe got cancelled due to Covid-19. 

But the festival was back this year, so here we go again. Let’s find some popular jokes told by comedians at the fringe and use them to learn English.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Just in case you don’t know, the Edinburgh Fringe (full name: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe) is a huge comedy festival that happens every August in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

Sometimes it’s called The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe, The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, Ed Fringe, just The Fringe or simply Edinburgh.

It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and every August comedians travel to the city in order to perform comedy to the large crowds of people who travel there. 

For comedians August in Edinburgh is a huge opportunity to get exposure and experience, but it is very tough, especially at the beginning when you have to drum up an audience of people to come to your shows every day.

Just in case you didn’t know, stand-up is a form of entertainment that involves one comedian standing on stage with a microphone telling stories and jokes in an effort to make the audience laugh. It is an extremely popular form of entertainment in the English speaking world.

This episode is about specific jokes told by comedians during the fringe this year, but stand-up comedians don’t really just go up and tell individual jokes one after the other (except in the case of some specific comedians), rather they fit their jokes into stories, observations about the world or confessions about themselves.

However, this list of the “best jokes from the fringe” just picks simple one or two line jokes from people’s performances.

Lower Your Expectations Now 😅

I expect that taking these jokes away from their original performances will not help the jokes. 

They will probably be less funny outside the comedy show that they came from because we’re going to remove the context of the joke, the attitude and personality of the comedian who told the joke and what was happening in the room that particular evening. All those elements have a huge impact on how funny the joke will be.

So, it’s not very fair to judge these jokes on their own like this, outside of their original context, but this is still an interesting experiment in learning English, so here we go.

Here’s how we’re going to do this

  1. First I will read each joke one by one. 
  • There are 9 jokes in total. 
  • How many jokes do you “get”?
  • If you “get” a joke, it means you understand why it is funny.
  • Ideally you will laugh, but you can also groan.
  • If you don’t understand it you need to say “I don’t get it!
  • The main thing is: You have to notice and acknowledge that a joke has been told to you.

So, listen to the jokes, do you get them all?

  1. Then I will go through each joke one by one and I will break them all down, explaining exactly how they work, showing you double meanings, explaining any specific vocabulary or cultural reference points and giving you all the information you need to be able to understand these jokes properly.

There is a lot of vocabulary to be learned from this, which I will highlight as we go through and recap at the end.

So, get ready, it’s time to dissect the frog again.

Of course, I have to say the quote: 

Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You can learn something from it, but the frog dies in the process.

I expect I will be killing all these jokes by explaining them. 

You’re not meant to explain jokes, and if you do, the joke suddenly becomes less funny. 

Most jokes work by surprise. 

Getting the double meaning instantly is usually the only way to find a joke funny. 

So I can’t guarantee that you will laugh at these jokes, but this is certainly going to be good for your English in any case.

Joke types

A lot of these jokes use 

  • synonyms (different words with a similar meaning),
  • common fixed expressions and sayings
  • homophones (different words that sound the same)
  • similies (finding similarities between otherwise different things), 
  • pull back & reveal (revealing extra information to change the situation)

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021

I’m getting this list from the website Chortle.co.uk which is the UK’s number 1 comedy website.

www.chortle.co.uk/news/2021/08/22/49087/masai_graham_wins_the_dave%2A_joke_of_the_fringe

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.”

– Masai Graham 

2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” 
– Ivor Dembina

3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” 

-Tom Mayhew

4. “The roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.”

– Adele Cliff

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.”

– Leo Kearse

6 “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.”

– Will Mars

7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” 

– Sameer Katz

8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” 

– Rich Pulsford

9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” 

– Sameer Katz

Vocabulary Focus

Now let’s go through those jokes again and break them down so you can understand them fully, picking up bits of vocabulary along the way.

Broken down versions (sorry frogs)

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.” 

– Masai Graham

Vocabulary

A caesarean

A C-section


2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” – Ivor Dembina

Vocabulary

Common phrase: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Quid

Halved (verb)


3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” – Tom Mayhew

Vocabulary

To be into role play

Role play – pretending to be someone else, often during sex to make it more interesting.

To pretend to be someone / to do something

He pretended he was James Bond

She pretended she still loved him.


4. “The Roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.” – Adele Cliff

This is a pun – a word joke and it’s just that one thing sounds like something else.

“Julius Caesar” sounds like Julius sees her, which is why his wife hates playing hide and seek because Julius always sees her. Julius Caesar. I think you get it.

Vocabulary

To play hide and seek

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.” – Leo Kearse

Oooh, this is a bit of a groaner. That’s where you go Oooooh like it almost hurts. 

“Heard it through the grapevine” is one of Marvin Gaye’s most famous songs.

“Herd” can mean to move a group of animals in a certain direction, like sheep or cows. You herd your sheep into a field.

Marvin used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. A vineyard is a place where you grow grapes for wine. 

The grapevine is where the grapes grow, but there’s also an idiom “through the grapevine” meaning when you hear people gossiping about something, or you over hear people talking about something. 

In the case of the song, he hears that his girlfriend is cheating on him and he hears it through the grapevine. 

He heard it through the grapevine. He heard rumours or gossip about it.

He’d herd it through the grapevine. He attempted to move the sheep around through the grapevines of the plants in the vineyard.

Vocabulary

To herd sheep

To hear something on/through the grapevine

Vinyard

This is too much of a stretch and if you get the joke please let me know. Write a comment in the comment section – do you get the Marvin Gaye joke?


6. “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.” – Will Mars

This is quite a clever little joke. Everything took longer in the past – travelling, communicating etc. 

Marriages seemed to last longer, but everything took longer back then.


7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” – Sameer Katz

This is quite funny and of course it hits two of my favourite notes, well three in fact: Star Wars, France and speaking English. 

There is a common misconception that French people arrogantly refuse to speak English in Paris let’s say, 

but I find that French people are more willing to speak English than it seems, and in fact they’re a bit more shy than arrogant, and if a French person in Paris speaks French to you, that’s quite normal as you are in France. 

Also, rather than being arrogant, a lot of French people just feel quite self conscious about their accent and certain common mistakes that French people often make. They also might have bad memories from English lessons at school which knocked all the confidence out of them, and they’re afraid to be judged by each other. So it’s more likely to be shyness than arrogance.


8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” – Rich Pulsford

This is a clever little joke. 

To have an inkling means to have a suspicion or an idea of something.

“I don’t know who stole the last biscuit, but I have an inkling. Or I have an inkling of an idea who took that biscuit, and I think it was you!”

But an inkling does sound like a small spillage of ink from a pen. A small puddle of ink, or ink on your hand. An inkling. 

What do we call that? I don’t know, but I have an inkling!”

Vocabulary

To have an inkling

A spillage


9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” – Sameer Katz

I’m not sure I have to explain that, do I?

Being humane means treating people in reasonable and humanistic manner. 

Treating people with respect, dignity, justice. 

Inhumane is the opposite – and although it includes the word human, we do use this word to refer to the cruel treatment of animals.

Keeping animals in a cage is inhumane. 

Even though they’re animals, we still use the word inhumane, and this is just a funny little thing that can make you laugh when you notice it.

Vocabulary

Humane

Inhumane


Vocabulary Review

  • A caesarean
  • A C-section
  • “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  • Quid
  • Halve (verb)
  • To be into role play
  • To pretend to be someone / to do something
  • To play hide and seek
  • To herd sheep
  • To hear something on/through the grapevine
  • Vinyard
  • To have an inkling
  • A spillage
  • Humane
  • Inhumane