In this episode you will be able to listen to a conversation with Cara Leopold all about films.
If you are a long-term listener to this podcast, then you will know Cara. She’s been on this show a few times before.
Just in case you need a reminder, Cara is an English teacher from the UK, currently living in France, and she loves films and uses them to help people learn English. In fact she is the creator of the Leo Listening Movie Club, where she helps advanced, film-loving English learners understand and discuss iconic movies together in order to master conversational English.
Cara Loves films. I love films too, who doesn’t? We all love films, don’t we? And it’s very common to talk about films we’ve seen.
Are you able to do that in English?
I want you to think about what is involved in having a conversation about films in English.
When we talk about films, we do a number of things, including:
Summarising the plot or story of the film
Describing the main characters
Talking about actors and their performances,
Talking about directors and they way films are directed, edited, locations, effects and music.
Giving our opinions about films, including the things we like and don’t like
Discussing the meaning of films, and any social, historical or personal issues which are connected to them.
How do we do those things in English? Are you familiar with the language of cinema and the language of talking about films?
What I want to do with this episode is let you listen to a natural conversation (one that isn’t scripted in advance) about films in order to let you hear all those things being done.
So that’s what this is!
You can use this episode in several ways.
1) Just listen for enjoyment, listen to what we have to say about various different films, and just try to follow the conversation, and practice your general listening skills in the process.
2) Focus on noticing the specific vocabulary or grammar that we use to do all the things I mentioned before. Listen out for the ways we describe, summarise, give opinions and generally share our thoughts about films.
We mention lots of different films in this conversation and one thing which I’m thinking about is that those films might have different titles in your language. I hope you are able to identify the films.
You can see a list of the names of the films we mention on the page for this episode on my website. If you want to check out those movie titles, and perhaps google them to find out what they are called in your language, just go to the episode page on my website and you’ll see all the titles listed there, plus various other links to things which we mention or which you might find useful.
Right then. It’s now time to listen to my conversation with Cara.
I will talk to you again briefly at the end of this but now, let’s get started.
Thanks again to Cara.
You can check out her work.
On her website you can see details of the different courses and resources I mentioned before, which involve improving your English with films.
🎧 Learn English with a short story. 🗣 Listen & repeat after me if you’d like to practise your pronunciation. 💬 Learn some vocabulary in the second half of the video. 📄 I found this story in answer to a post on Quora.com asking about true scary stories. I thought I could use it to help you learn English. Can you understand the story, and predict the twist at the end?
About 7 years ago I got an invitation to attend a dinner party at my cousin’s house. I have a pretty large family and I had never actually seen this particular cousin before. I had only ever spoken to him on the phone. I was surprised that his family unexpectedly invited me over, but I was curious to finally meet them.
The invitation had an address that I didn’t know and the GPS was unfamiliar with it too. It was in one of those areas where Google Maps doesn’t work properly because of poor phone reception,
so I had to use an old fashioned paper map. I marked the location on the map, tried to get a sense of where I was headed, and set off in my car.
As I was driving I started to notice how far I’d travelled into the countryside, away from civilization. I saw trees, farms and fields passing by. Just trees, farms, and fields, and more trees, more farms and more fields.
“Where the hell am I going?” I thought to myself. I’d never ventured out so far in that direction before.
I drove for quite a long time, trying to locate the address I had marked on the map.
The thing is, in this area, a lot of the roads don’t have names, or the names aren’t clearly marked by road signs. I just had to try to match the layout of the streets, to the layout I could see on the map.
I finally found a place at a location that looked like the one I had noted on my map. I was pretty sure this was the right spot, so I parked and got out of the car.
Approaching the house I noticed how dull and dreary it looked. It was completely covered in leaves, branches and overgrown trees.
“This can’t be it.” I said to myself.
But as soon as I walked onto the rocky driveway my aunt and uncle came out to greet me. They seemed excited and welcoming.
“Hello! Hello! Come in! Come in!” they said, beckoning me inside.
Walking into the house, I asked where my cousin was. Answering immediately one of them said, “Oh, he just went to run a few errands. He should be back later.”
I waited in their kitchen and we spent a couple of hours talking about my mother and my family. My aunt made a delicious homemade pot roast that I finished off in minutes.
After dinner we played an enduring game of Uno. It was surprisingly fun and competitive. My aunt in particular seemed delighted to be playing.
When we finished the game of Uno it was almost dark and there was still no sign of my cousin. My aunt and uncle assured me that he’d be back any time soon. Despite what they said, I decided that I had to leave.
It was almost dark outside and I knew it would be a nightmare to find my way out of this dreadful place after sunset, with no streetlights or road signs. As my GPS just wasn’t working, I asked my aunt and uncle the most efficient way to get to the highway.
They gave me a puzzled look.
“But, we thought you were staying the night?” they said.
I told them I couldn’t because I had work the next day and couldn’t afford to miss another day. “It’s much better if you leave tomorrow morning. Trust us. You’ll get lost” they said.
I shrugged it off and told them not to worry,
“Don’t worry. I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction. I could find my way out of the Sahara desert.” I told them.
Looking aggravated, they strongly advised me to stay the night for my own sake. Their body language was weird too as they became more serious and insistent. My uncle stood shaking his head, and my aunt began to move about the place, picking up a set of keys to unlock what I assume was a spare bedroom.
At this point I was getting annoyed and irritable. I sighed, “Fine I’ll stay the night then, but I have to get up very early for work.” I said. Both of them seemed strangely ecstatic that I was staying the night.
As soon as they went out of the room to get bed sheets and pillows,
I ran out of the door, got in my car and hastily pulled away. I know it was rude, but I suddenly felt the urge to get out of there, quickly.
It seemed to take me ages, but I finally found my way back to the main highway and drove back through the night, wondering why my cousin had never turned up.
I got home several hours later than I expected. It was after midnight and I didn’t want to wake my parents up. Climbing over my fence and entering the back door, I noticed that the kitchen lights were on.
As soon as I took my first step through the door, I saw my mom sitting there looking impatient.
Join me as I meet and get to know Rhiannon, an English coach whose mission is to help you feel awesome about your English. I had never met Rhiannon before this interview, so listen as I get to know her and we chat about her English & Welsh roots, moving to Edinburgh, studying theology at university, early experiences as an English teacher, why learners often feel ashamed of their English, and how she can help. We also discuss the wonders of fish & chips and deep fried Mars bars which you can buy on the streets of Edinburgh.
Fabio has written a book about language learning, based on his own personal experiences of learning English. Each chapter ends with the same sentence: “This is how to learn a language”. But each chapter disagrees with the next. There are many ways to learn a language, and none of them is the only right way to do it. In this episode, we talk all about this and Fabio shares some of his stories. Fabio is the host of “Stolariod Stories” a self-development podcast which includes lots of lessons about learning English, and learning about life in general.
Bree Aesie is an English teacher with a background in psychology, especially child development, and in this episode she comes onto LEP with advice and encouragement for parents who want to help their children to learn English from an early age.
Intro Script for Episode 848 The Superpower of Starting English Early with Kids
As you can see, this episode is called The Superpower of Starting English early with kids and as you can probably work out from the title, we’re going back the subject of helping your children to learn English.
This is a topic I’ve touched upon in the past, notably with Alexander and his daughter Alice in episode 685 and also conversations I’ve had with my wife about this over the last few years. Also there was the fairly recent episode with Anna Tyrie about the language of children and parenting where we looked at lots of vocabulary surrounding the world of kids. That was episode 814.
This time, the focus is on how you as a non-native speaker of English, can give your kids a head start with their learning of English by talking to them in English at home. Obviously for many of you, this might not be relevant because you don’t have children, you’re not planning to have children or because you already have children and they’re all grown up now and so it’s just too late! Or perhaps your kids are all grown up and they speak better English than you! (Some of my students do say this is a reason for their learning English)
But for a lot of you out there who are parents of young children or who are going to have children, and you want them to speak English, this episode is for you. Everyone else – stick around, there are bound to be things you can gain from this.
I know that it might seem a bit strange to speak English to your children, or you might feel reluctant to do it because you think your level isn’t quite right. Well, this conversation is here to speak to you about that, to encourage you to do speak English with your kids, to show you that you can do it and to show you some ways in which you can do it.
My guest is Bree Aesie. She is a podcaster too and has a podcast for learners of English that focuses on storytelling. It’s called Into The Story. She invites guests onto her show to tell their personal stories. As you’ll hear, Bree invited me onto her show to tell a story of my own, and I told one which I haven’t shared on LEP before. It’s a funny and quite dramatic story of fatherhood, challenges with operating in a second language, with a bit of culture shock mixed in too. It should give you a laugh or two. You can listen to it on her podcast now – it’s being published by Bree on the same day I’m publishing this. “Into the Story” – it’s available where you get your podcasts. Link in the description.
Bree is an English teacher. She works with adults and children. She has a background in psychology and child development, and she’s very interested in the whole subject of language learning in children. Let’s listen to what she has to say about it, and here we go!
Join me for an unplanned rambling episode about various things including: hump day, bed bugs in Paris 🐞, fashion trends I followed when I was younger 👟👖, CDs 💿 vs cassettes 📼 vs vinyl 🎵, the most relaxing place in the world 🛏, Japanese zen gardens ⛩, Hunter S Thompson 🚬, the most disgusting job I ever had 🤮, and more…
TECH TALK! A conversation with Joe Dale (modern foreign language teaching consultant, EdTech guru) about the use of ChatGPT in English teaching and learning. Lots of recommendations, tips and tricks for saving time and combining ChatGPT with other software including Google Chrome extensions.
YouTube Summary with ChatGPT & Claude – summarises YouTube videos (but I question its ability to do this well enough – it doesn’t always realise which things are part of an introduction, which things are side points, and which things are the main points)
EdPuzzle – quickly turn YouTube videos into comprehension exercises (convenient for teachers)
Other useful software
ClozeIt – a Google Docs extension which creates gap-fills from texts
Wheel of Names – wheelofnames.com – a spinning wheel which randomly chooses items from a list
Microsoft Lens (part of Microsoft Tools) – allows you to scan text from a photo, and then export the text to other software
Reading Coach (in Immersive Reader in Microsoft Tools in Microsoft Office 365) – reads (out loud) to text you have scanned, listens to you speaking and then gives you feedback on your pronunciation/speaking and you can compare your speaking with the model speech
AudioPen.ai – allows you to record quick voice notes, which it then transcribes and neatly summarises for you
In your language learning, how important is pronunciation for you?
How much time do you put into practising it or researching it, compared to other things like grammar or vocabulary?
How much do you know about the physical ways that we make sounds, and also the ways that we express pronunciation in writing – the phonetic alphabet?
Think about your mouth, throat, tongue, teeth, nose or other parts. Do you know which parts are responsible for making different sounds in English?
Try saying different vowel and consonant sounds, and see which parts are involved. Perhaps try counting to 20 and just notice the different parts of your mouth and areas near your mouth that you use, the shape of your lips and so on.
Does English use sounds that you don’t use in your language? Which ones?
Are there certain words which always seem to cause you trouble when you speak English? Which specific parts of those words cause the problem?
How many different accents can you identify in English? Which one do you want to sound like? Why?
Which accent would you like to have in English? What is that accent called? Why do you want that accent?
Does it matter if, when you speak, people can tell which part of the world you are from, or that they can tell English isn’t your first language? To what extent does that matter to you, and why?
What do you think is more important in pronunciation – intelligibility (being clear), or identity (expressing a certain identity with the way you speak).
How can you actually go about improving your pronunciation? What steps can you take, and what resources can you use?
What does it mean to have “good pronunciation” or a “good accent”?
If you are an English teacher, how do you teach pronunciation? What place does it have in your lessons? What are your experiences of teaching it?
Summary of the main conclusions in the conversation
Improving your pronunciation. According to Luke, it all boils down to these things.
English is diverse in its pronunciation and accents, and the written word doesn’t always match how it sounds.
You just have to accept things that seem inconsistent, irregular or complex in English pronunciation, and move forward. Those ‘irregularities’ will seem relatively normal when you get familiar with the language.
Study pronunciation, but don’t look for “one rule to explain it all”. Instead find little patterns and other ways to help you remember English pronunciation bit by bit.
Determine your pronunciation priorities and choose a target accent which you can aim for.
Balance intelligibility (being clear) with expressing your identity through your accent.
Familiarise yourself with the vocal tract and the sounds of English.
Learn the phonemic chart and explore stress and intonation patterns.
Don’t be put off by the phonemic chart. You probably have most of those sounds in your language. Look out for the ones which you don’t have.
Identify which sounds in English you find difficult, or which cause people to misunderstand you, and focus on them.
Practice making different sounds and think outside the box to find approaches that work for you.
Here is a list of curious mysteries, jokes and observations about the English language and life in general. I talk about each interesting point, give some funny comments and explain bits of English vocabulary in the process. Expect to learn a few things, and have a bit of a laugh in the process.
4. Who knew what time it was, when the first clock was made?
*Well, try this now*
Ambiguities of the English Language! Enjoy.!!!
1. I wonder why the word “Funeral” starts with FUN?
Saderall would be better, because you’re all sad.
2. Why isn’t a Fireman called a Water-man?
3. How come Lipstick doesn’t do what it says?
Lipstick – it’s a stick for your lips
It’s not stuff that “sticks to your lips”.
Also, it isn’t a stick made of lips. That would be weird.
4. If money doesn’t grow on trees, how come Banks have Branches?
5. If a Vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a Humanitarian eat?
6. How do you get off a non-stop Flight?
7. Why are goods sent by *ship* called CARGO, and those sent by *truck* SHIPMENT?
ChatGPT has the answer (smartypants)
Goods that are shipped by boat are called cargo because the word “cargo” comes from the Spanish word “cargar,” which means “to load.” This makes sense because when goods are shipped by boat, they are loaded onto the vessel.
In contrast, goods that are shipped by truck are called a shipment because they are being shipped from one place to another. The word “shipment” comes from the Old French word “envoiement,” which means “the act of sending.” So, a shipment is a collection of goods that are being sent from one place to another, regardless of the mode of transportation.
8. Why do we put cups in the “Dishwasher” and the dishes in the “Cupboard“?
The word “cupboard” originated in the Middle English word “cubbert,” which came from the Old French word “couvert,” meaning “covered.” A cupboard is a type of cabinet or closet with shelves or drawers for storing household items.
The name “cupboard” likely comes from the fact that these types of storage units were originally used to store cups and other dishware. Over time, the meaning of the word “cupboard” has expanded to include any type of cabinet or closet used for storage. (yes, ChatGPTagain)
9. Why do doctors “practise” medicine?
I don’t want a doctor who practises medicine, I want one who has learned how to do it!
10. Why is it called “Rush Hour” when traffic moves at its slowest at that time?
11. How come noses run and feet smell?
Shouldn’t it be the other way around?
12. Why do they call it a TV ‘set’ when there is only one?
The know-it-all ChatGPT has the answer *yawn*
The word “set” in this context refers to a complete television system, not just the physical television itself. A television set includes the television, as well as any additional components or accessories that are required to receive and display television signals.
In the past, television sets often included components such as a VCR, DVD player, or cable box, and these additional components were often referred to as “attachments.” Even though most modern televisions are self-contained and do not require additional components, the term “television set” is still used to refer to the entire system.
13. What are you vacating when you go on a “vacation“?
We can never find the answers
If you have the *Spirit* of understanding everything in a positive manner – You’ll enjoy every moment in LIFE, whether it’s *PRESSURE or PLEASURE*
So just enjoy the PUN and FUN of the English language.
Enjoy and have fun.😘👍
Hana Fakhoury Hajeer, PhD.
A Note about the words “STUFF” and “THINGS”
Also, just at the end here I thought I could explain a couple of points about the words “stuff” and “thing(s)”.
So, here is a note about that.
Of course you are aware of these words. People use them all the time. They certainly came up in this episode.
For example, at the beginning of the episode I said “Let’s talk about some stuff. Here’s some more stuff to help you learn English” and I think the episode is in fact going to be called
“Things that make you go ‘Hmmm’.”
So what about these words? I often notice that my learners of English don’t use them very much, but I think they are very useful.
Of course you shouldn’t overdo it and use them all the time, when a more specific word is appropriate, but still, they are useful and very common.
The main thing here, the main point, is that the word thing is a countable noun, and the word stuff is uncountable.
That’s the only difference really.
In English, countable and uncountable nouns have different rules regarding their usage. Here’s a general overview.
1. Countable nouns refer to items that can be counted as individual units.
2. They can be used in both singular and plural forms.
3. Singular countable nouns are typically preceded by an article (a/an) or a specific determiner (e.g., this, that, my).
4. Plural countable nouns usually take an “s” at the end, but irregular plural forms exist as well.
5. Countable nouns can be quantified using numbers or words like “many,” “few,” “some,” etc.
6. They can be used with “a few,” “several,” or “many” to indicate a specific quantity.
– “I have two cats.”
– “She bought some books.”
– “He needs a new car.”
– “There are many students in the classroom.”
1. Uncountable nouns refer to substances, concepts, or ideas that cannot be counted as separate units.
2. They are typically singular and do not have a plural form.
3. Uncountable nouns do not usually take an indefinite article (a/an) but can take a definite article (the) when specified.
4. They cannot be quantified directly with numbers, but words like “some,” “a little,” “a lot of,” etc., can be used.
5. To express a specific quantity, you can use measurement words like “a cup of,” “a bottle of,” “a piece of,” etc.
– “I need to buy some milk.”
– “She has a lot of experience.”
– “Could you pass me the salt, please?”
– “He drank a glass of water.”
It’s important to note that some nouns can be both countable and uncountable, depending on the context. For example, “water” can be uncountable (as in “I need water”) or countable (as in “There are three waters on the table”).
Just as a quick test, which word would you use to complete these sentences?
Thing / things or stuff?
There is just one _______ I need to tell you before you go.
Can you pass me one of those _______ on that box over there?
Can I have some more of that _______? It was really good.
Ugh, what’s all that sticky _______ on the table?
I need to go into town to buy one or two _______ for dinner, would you like to come?
Your bag is so heavy. How many _______ do you have in here?
There’s too much _______ in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
How much _______ did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those _______.
Sit down, we have some important _______/_______ to tell you.
There is just one thing I need to tell you before you go.
Can you pass me one of those things on that box over there?
Can I have some more of that stuff? It was really good.
Ugh, what’s all that sticky stuff on the table?
I need to go into town to buy one or two things for dinner, would you like to come?
Your bag is so heavy. How many things do you have in here?
There’s too much stuff in the back of the car. I can’t see out of the window.
How much stuff did you bring with you? You don’t need all of those things.
Sit down, we have some important things/stuff to tell you.
❌There are some amazing stuff in this shop. ✅There are some amazing things / There is some amazing stuff
❌Can you pass me that stuff on the table? (talking about one object) ✅Can you pass me that thing on the table?
❌We need to get some more stuffs from the shop. ✅We need to get some more stuff… ✅We need to get some more things…
This is the longest episode of LEP so far, and it’s a solo ramble. Relax, follow my words, hang out with me for 3 hours, get stranded on a desert island of the imagination, and then get rescued. Includes a haircut, a sleep and a t-shirt change during the episode.