Category Archives: Messages from Listeners

699. Welcome (back) to Luke’s English Podcast / FAQ (January 2021)

Wishing everyone a happy new year and taking stock of the main aims and methods of this podcast, plus some frequently asked questions. Video version available on YouTube.

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Video Version

Episode Notes & Transcript

In this episode the plan is to wish you a happy new year, welcome back all my regular listeners (and maybe some irregular listeners too) and also say a big hello to any new listeners who might have just discovered this podcast and are wondering what it’s all about. I normally do episodes like this at the start of the year because at this time, during the new year period, it’s normal to turn over a new leaf, make a fresh start, perhaps make some new year’s resolutions and generally try to pick up some good habits for the year to come – and that often includes working on your English and trying to find good listening resources to help you do that. 

So, in this episode I’d like to welcome you to LEP or welcome you back to LEP, just summarise what this podcast is all about, restate my objectives for doing this and generally make sure we are all on-track for a good year of podcasting and learning English in 2021.

I’ve decided to answer some Frequently Asked Questions. These are the questions people typically ask me when they find out that I have a podcast for learning English and they want to know more. 

So during the episode, you’ll learn or be reminded of what the main ideas are for this podcast, what teaching principles this is based on, what my methods are, what you can expect from my episodes in general, how you can use them to improve your English and also some info about me too, because it’s a good idea to get to know the person you’re listening to, isn’t it? I have always found, as a teacher, that it really helps when I put my personality into my English lessons. It just seems to make things more enjoyable and effective for the learners. Not because I have an award-winning personality or anything, but just that I think learning a language is a deeply personal process and so it makes sense to have a more personal approach to teaching it as well as learning it. It helps if you know who I am. It gives you context, it brings the language to life and it’s just more fun too, isn’t it. If you like, as you listen to this, you can imagine we’re in a cafe or something (even though I’m doing all the talking – but you can pause me at any time and put your thoughts into words if you want. I can’t hear or respond to you, but it’s better than nothing isn’t it? That’s the least you can say about my podcast , haha, “Well, it’s better than listening to nothing”)

By the way, other podcasts are available of course. As you probably know, there are quite a lot of podcasts for learners of English including ones by the BBC and other ones by other people, and they’re great, but obviously I hope you listen to my podcast, don’t I?

So, what’s this podcast? How can it help your English? Who are you listening to? Those are the sorts of questions we’ll be covering, but also plenty of other random bits and pieces.

JINGLE

Happy New Year!

Welcome back to the podcast! I hope you had a fairly good holiday period – as good as it can be during this mad mad time that we are all living in. When’s the world going to go back to normal? When’s that going to happen? We don’t know. Was it even normal in the first place? Probably not. In any case – I hope you’re well and that you’ve started 2021 in a reasonably positive frame of mind and that you’re ready to embark on some new audio adventures with me and my podcast.

If you are a brand new listener – then welcome. I really hope you simply enjoy listening to me talking to you, or talking with my guests in English in these episodes. I hope that this will help you to get regular English listening practise into your life, and that you enjoy it too.

Because enjoying your listening practise is so important. This will help you to listen regularly, listen for longer periods of time and listen long-term in your life as well. 

We all know that it is very important and useful to listen to plenty of clear, natural English, spoken at a fairly normal speed, focusing on a variety of topics. 

Reading is good. Studying grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation – that’s good. Doing plenty of speaking practice is really important. Watching videos in English is helpful. But do not underestimate the importance of just listening to English – for as long as possible each time. That’s what this podcast aims to help you do – at a very minimum. There is more to it than that of course. A lot more. But basically – I want you to do more listening in English.

The first and most basic aim of this podcast is just to help you to get more English in your life through listening to the spoken word – listening to English as it is spoken naturally, by me in this case, and my guests.

Let’s go through my list of frequently asked questions, which will form the backbone of this episode, which is probably quite long.

  • What is this podcast?
  • Is it for me?
    • It’s for everyone, but it might be difficult if → You’re lower than an intermediate level (intermediate might be hard – you’ll have to be extra motivated) or you are a really visual learner. (My wife doesn’t listen to podcasts – even in French. She can’t really do it. She feels she has to close her eyes or do nothing else, whereas I love just listening to audio and it works really well for me – better than watching videos because I can multi task)
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • Why did you start doing this podcast?
  • Who are you Luke? I mean, can you tell us a bit more about yourself, your background and your career so that we can feel totally confident that you know what you’re talking about and that you’re just some guy who can speak English?
  • Will it really help my English to listen to this? 
    • Yes.
  • How do you know?
    First-hand accounts from listeners.

Common sense. Of course. It’s about a billion times more effective than listening to nothing at all. Plus, what else are you going to do? Watch Netflix with subtitles (yes, do that too, but switch the subs off sometimes) REad books (yes definitely – both graded and non-graded ones if you’re ready) Speak English with people you know who speak English (yes) Take English classes (good idea as long as you take part properly and take responsibility for your learning too). You can do all of those things. But I don’t want to make this complicated. Listen to my podcast regularly and it will help with your English. 

Academic studies I’ve done – while preparing my teaching qualifications I read a lot of books and other texts based on proper academic studies into how people learn languages. 

Professional experience after having met many thousands of learners of English from many places, and working with them closely to help their English. Observing what works for them, what people respond to, the realities of learning a language. 

All of that has shown me that regularly listening to something like my podcast can help your English a lot. I could go into that more (and I have in previous episodes) but that’s all I will say at this point.

  • Will it help me improve my grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation?
    • Yes, both directly (when I teach language) and indirectly (through exposure). I can also help you think about the way that you learn, which can make you a more skillful and effective learner.
  • What’s your method then, Professor Thompson?
    • 5 Ls, 5 Ss, 5 Ps, being a smart-learner, the 5 Ms, DISCIPLINE, commitment.
      There are many ways to approach language learning. You have to choose one that works for you and that helps you to keep doing it even when it’s tough.
      Basic: Get as much English into your life as possible and make it meaningful. Hopefully I can help by giving you something you enjoy and want to listen to.
      More complex: Be a conscious learner too → notice structures and phrases, notice pronunciation (how I say things), try to record them, understand them in context, remember them, record them and repeat them. My premium content is designed specifically to help you do that. I cut out a lot of the annoying work and put it all on a plate for you. Just listen, follow the PDFs and do what I tell you to do – memory tests, repeat after me etc.
  • Can I really learn English on my own, only by listening to you Luke? 

I always recommend my podcast as “part of a balanced diet” and that does include doing other things, especially plenty of speaking practise with real people, probably qualified teachers who can help give you bits of feedback and correct your errors, but also just speaking with people helps you develop the social side of using in English for communication. 

I should also mention writing and reading of course, but since this is an audio podcast we focus mainly on the spoken version of English.

  • What level is it for?
  • Should I do anything else, other than just listening? 
    • Share your thoughts in the comment section on my website – practise little bits of writing there and chat with other listeners.
  • Your episodes are quite long. Aren’t they too long, in fact?
  • How should I listen? (the technology you can use, what you can do while listening, where you listen, how often you listen)
  • Are there transcripts for these episodes?
  • What’s your accent Luke?
  • Do you only have native speakers on your podcast?
    Most of the time my guests have English as a first language, but sometimes I talk to people who have learned English in adulthood because these people are extremely inspiring as they have done what so many people want to do, and they have great insights into the process of learning English and it’s also really important for you to listen to non-native English speakers speaking English too because it’s vital to hear a variety of English being spoken in your life. English is a diverse language. There are many people around the world using it and speaking it in slightly different ways. It’s important for you to be able to understand all those different varieties. This is true for the different accents and dialects in native English speakers too – you should become accustomed to hearing English spoken with various regional accents. If you only ever listen to my standard RP which is probably very clear to your ears, you might not be able to understand others. Also I really want to encourage you to love the different regional accents and to see their value. Sometimes learners of English will say that they only want RP and they see other accents as somehow being “lower forms of English” with less value. I don’t agree with this of course. The idea that a regional accent makes you sound uneducated or even lazy or something – that idea deserves to stay in the 1950s where it belongs. 

Having said that – let me put my cards on the table and be as clear as possible.

What accent should you develop in English?

The first thing is that you need to be clear. People need to understand you. Work on that.

It’s a good idea to pick a certain accent which you can use as a model. This is the accent/pronunciation you can aim for or try to copy. Why not choose RP? It’s a perfectly good choice as most people will be familiar with it. If you have a particular reason for wanting to copy a regional accent, then go for it. Perhaps you live in the north of England and you want to do things like your neighbours. Or maybe you just love a certain regional accent for personal reasons and you’ve decided that this is the one for you. That’s fine too. Go for it. Try to keep things natural. I could talk about this more but I won’t go on about it too much.

Basically – I love all the accents in English. I really do. But I would probably recommend RP as the one to go for, just because it’s still a standard form. I know someone is thinking “but only about 5% of English speakers use RP” yes – but I can’t think of another accent which is more common. Think of British accents in a pie chart. There isn’t one accent that really dominates that chart, I expect. Each segment in the chart is probably around the same size. So which one do you pick? Again, I think RP is fine and makes sense because it’s a standard. I don’t mean you should speak like a posh person, like The Queen or something, because that would be weird. 

  • Listening for understanding others 
    Listening in order to develop your pronunciation
  • How do I pronounce your name, actually?
  • How do I pronounce the name of the podcast?
  • What sort of episodes can we expect?
  • What are your favourite episodes?
  • You’re on episode 699 of LEP. Do you have anything special planned for episode 700? No, I don’t! I think it will just be another episode this time. I can’t think of anything specific I can do. Maybe I will do a YouTube livestream “Ask Me Anything” kind of thing. I’ll see. I know that if I do a YouTube live stream then you will all want to know about it in advance. This isn’t always possible. You’ll just have to subscribe to my YouTube channel. 
  • What are LEPsters?
  • Where are your listeners? 
    • In many places around the world! All over the world.
  • Why do you talk about ninjas sometimes? What are LEP Ninjas?
  • Can you explain the Russian Joke please? No. 
  • What do you think of Brexit? It’s a bad idea. I think it was an opportunity for a bunch of nutters to take control of my country and push it in a different direction. I think it’s the wrong direction, but now we have to live with it and make it work. I am not a fan of Boris Johnson and his gang. I feel they’re doing a bad job. That’s probably enough politics isn’t it. Oops, nearly slipped on politics there. Watch out everyone, there’s some politics on the floor. Don’t step in it. “Can someone clean that up please?”  (I have made that joke before)
  • Do you have a team of people helping you to do this? No, it’s just me. 
  • Can we see you perform stand-up comedy on stage?
  • Are you married and do you have kids and stuff?
  • What’s your favourite football team?
  • Do you like music? Do you play music? Do you have any songs stuck in your head today?
  • Can you sing songs for us on the podcast sometimes?
    Yes, I do that occasionally, when I feel inspired to do it. I’m not the greatest singer or the greatest guitarist. I’m just learning. But I love it and I feel moved to do it. If I do sing in an episode, most of the time, I do it right at the end of the episode so that people who might not like it don’t feel obliged to listen to it. But the ones who like hearing my versions of other people’s songs (I usually sing cover versions of songs) those people can listen and hopefully enjoy hearing me. I always make an effort to sing clearly so you can hear all the words of the song. I also don’t use any reverb to cover up the imperfections in my voice or guitar playing. I just get the guitar on my lap, point the microphone somewhere between the guitar and my mouth and do my best.
  • Are you on YouTube?

Yes, I have a YouTube channel as you may know. 

I post my audio episodes there, usually with a single static image. I don’t think YouTube is necessarily the best way to listen to my content, but I guess if you are sitting at your computer, perhaps doing something else (like gaming or working or something) then it’s convenient to have one of my episodes running in the background. But also, YouTube’s automatically generated subtitles are usually pretty accurate. When I’m talking on my own, the accuracy is about 95% but when I’m with guests that accuracy can drop to about 85-90% I think. That’s not 100 perfect, but it’s pretty good. 

I’m always working on ways to deliver 100% correct transcripts to you because I know how useful and important they are. To an extent I’m just waiting for the technology to catch up. I think it won’t be long before automatic transcriptions are basically perfect but we’ll see.

I’ve been working with some new software which is quite mind-blowing. I don’t want to make any promises about it because I’m just experimenting with it at the moment, but basically it allows me to generate transcripts for episodes in a really convenient way, then edit those transcripts quite easily while also editing the audio. This is too complicated to get into now.

  • Have you forgotten anything? 

Yes, I am certain that I have forgotten to mention something really important, and someone is going to think “Hey you forgot to mention this specific thing! Or You didn’t mention this specific person!” Sorry about that.

You ramble quite a lot Luke, you sometimes talk too much and repeat yourself a bit. 

Yes, I do. Sue me. To paraphrase Shakespeare: There is a method in my madness.

From Shakespeare’s Hamlet, 1602. The actual line from the play is ‘Though this be madness yet there is method in it’.

The main message I want to give you here is this: 

  • Listen to my episodes regularly and enjoy doing it.
  • Download my app to get easy access to all the episodes on your phone. (more than in Spotify and anywhere else)
  • Become a premium listener if you want to go further in your learning with me.
  • Don’t be a ninja – come out of the shadows and write a comment from time to time.

That’s it.

Thanks for listening. 

Happy new year.

Take care and be excellent to each other.

Speak to you next time.

Bye bye bye bye bye

696. WISBOLEP Competition Results + RAMBLE

Join me as I potter around my flat and give the results of the WISBOLEP competition then make a cup of tea and have a ramble about things like listening to non-native English speakers, reducing clutter in your home, renting vs owning a property, what it must be like to have only one hand, Zatoichi the blind swordsman, The Mandalorian TV series, Christmas plans and more. Includes a song on the guitar at the end.

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Episode Notes

Here are the competition results in full. Congratulations to Walaa for taking the top spot!

I’ve decided to talk to the top 6 candidates on the podcast in order to find out their stories, ask for their comments on learning English and more. Walaa will get a full episode for herself, and the others might share several episodes. We’ll see. The episodes will probably be recorded and uploaded in January.

Those people are: Walaa, Bahar, Robin, William, Tasha Liu and Michał. I’ll be in touch by email 👍

WISBOLEP Results (in reverse order)

  • 16th place: Ksenia from LEPland – 29 
  • 15th place: Rasul from Ukraine – 92
  • Joint 13th place:  Patrick from LEPland – 113 -&- Leisan from Russia – 113
  • 12th place: Evgenia from Russia – 120
  • 11th place: Priscilla from Indonesia – 121
  • 10th place: Ezio from China – 137
  • 9th place: Vladimir in Moscow – 154
  • 8th place: Vadim from Russia – 173
  • 7th place: Jane from Russia, living in China – 178
  • 6th place: Michał from Poland – 300
  • 5th place: Bahar from Iran – 337
  • Joint 3rd place: Robin from Hamburg – 361 – William from France – 361
  • 2nd place: Tasha Liu from China – 391
  • 1st place: Walaa from Syria – 2,801

Other words, names and links mentioned in this episode

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

The Japanese art of decluttering (reducing clutter) and organizing.

Zatoichi the Blind Swordsman

All the WISBOLEP Recordings

In case you’d like to listen to all the competition entries again, including the 85 people who you didn’t hear in LEP#692.

Song Lyrics: “One of those People” by Neil Innes

I’m just one of those people who want to feel good all the time
I don’t want no bad news messin’ with my mind
I don’t want no smart ass media clown
Wising me up and then dumbing me down
I’m just one of those people who puts up with crap all the time

Not just ordinary crap
I’m talking about a constant stream here
Continually getting in my way
I’ve got crap in the workplace
Crap on TV
Crap in the global economy
I’m just one of those people who puts up with crap all the time

I’m just one of those people who want to feel good all the time
Oh Lord I ask you, is it such a crime?
The last thing I need is a feeling of guilt
When I’m wading through treacle on balsa wood stilts
I’m just one of those people who some people call paranoid

Well who is and who isn’t these days, it’s hard to tell
When so many people have so many good reasons to feel more than just a little annoyed
What can you do when you’re sure somebody
Is fooling around with your reality
I’m just one of those people who some people call paranoid

The last thing I need is a feeling of guilt
When I’m wading through treacle on balsa wood stilts
I’m just one of those people who want to feel good all the time

What can you do when you’re sure somebody
Is fooling around with your reality
I’m just one of those people who want to feel good all the time

692. WISBOLEP Competition Entries – Listen & Vote!

Listen to recordings sent in by listeners and vote for who you think should be on LEP.

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⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ YOU CAN VOTE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️

Episode Transcript

Introduction

This is an episode about the WISBOLEP competition and it is your first chance to listen to recordings sent by listeners and vote for who you think should be on LEP.

Just in case you haven’t heard previous episodes or you got abducted by aliens or something and you don’t know – WISBOLEP means “Why I should be on LEP” and it is a competition which I launched in episode 681 as a way to invite one LEPster onto the podcast to be interviewed in a full episode.

Also thank you if you listened to me talking in episode 687 about the possible options (options 1- 4) for the next stage of this competition, and thank you to those of you who gave your input in the form of comments and emails.

After thinking about it, scratching my head and trying my best to do this in the most fair way possible I have now made my decision about how to proceed with the competition.

In the end I’ve gone for a combination of Option 3 and Option 4 which I outlined in episode 687.

I just decided that this was the best way to do it, and I’ve made my decision and I’m sticking to it.

Here is that decision.

My decision for WISBOLEP

I’m being the judge for round 1 – in fact I’ve already done it.

I have now listened to all the recordings in round 1 (and there were 101 recordings in total). I’ve listened to them all a few of times, and I’ve chosen 16 people who will go through to round 2.

I made an executive decision and narrowed it down to 16. I think in episode 687 I said it would be 20 recordings, but I decided even that 20 would be a few too many and that I had to do my best to narrow it down even further to 16.

So, I’ve done the unenviable task of whittling down 101 entries to just 16 and these are the 16 people you can vote for – and you will be able to listen to their individual recordings a bit later in this episode, after I’ve done a bit of explaining.

I must say, choosing 16 candidates out of 101 was not an easy decision to make at all, but I think that ultimately doing it this way is the best way.

Why wasn’t it easy Luke? Why was it difficult?

It wasn’t difficult to listen to them all. That was great. But the tricky part is that there were so many great recordings that I had to reject. The general standard of entries was really high this time, so while attempting to select just 16 people, I had to reject lots of entries which I still thought were really strong.

Profuse apology warning

I just know I am going to feel a strong urge to constantly apologise to the 85 people who I didn’t select. I’m really sorry you didn’t get picked, and you are probably going to hear me say that a few times as you listen to this.

“It’s ok Luke – no need to apologise too much, we understand”

Ah, thank you for saying that. It reassures me.

Why have I chosen to do it this way?

(No voting in round 1, me choosing the final 16 myself)

The reason for that is that there were so many recordings that I couldn’t think of a fair way to organise it.

If I’d asked you the audience to listen to all 101 recordings, it wouldn’t have worked.

There was no way I could run the competition fairly in that way, asking the audience to listen to every single one of the 101 recordings and then choosing one person from that long list. I don’t think people would have listened to all 101 recordings, and they might not have remembered them all if they did. So I think you can see that voting like that just wouldn’t work.

So I had to be very selective myself first, which as I said, was not fun. Well – the selection process wasn’t fun. Listening to all the recordings from lovely LEPsters has been amazing (and you can still listen to them all – details in a minute). But having to reject so many of them was not a pleasure for me. But, so be it.

Can I just be super clear then…

A quick summary – Just to re-cap

  • I received 101 recordings, but you’re not voting for the 101.
  • I’ve selected 16 recordings for round 2. You’re going to listen to them (in this episode) and vote for them. www.teacherluke.co.uk/wisbolep
  • Then a winner will be chosen based on those results and I’ll interview that person in an episode.
  • I think I will probably have 2 runners-up as well, who will get half an episode each.

But Luke, what about the other 85 recordings?

85 AMAZING LEPSTERS STILL WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION

I have not just thrown away all those other recordings that I didn’t choose. I didn’t just throw them in the bin. I’ve published them all on my website and in the LEP App, and you can listen to them all if you want. And I highly recommend that you do that. You can listen to 85 LEPsters who are still very worthy of your attention, and there is some sumptuous video footage there too for you to enjoy while you listen.

You will find all the recordings on the website in one long YouTube video (with timecodes so you can skip to different LEPsters quite easily if you like) and that video also includes a few little comments from me after each recording. Actually, this video turned into something amazing. Let me tell you about it. This is the WISBOLEP Round 1 video “85 Amazing LEPsters still worthy of your attention”.

You can see the video at the bottom of this page.

What happened was, I collected the 85 entries and then recorded myself playing them all one after the other, and I added little comments after each one. The whole track is about 3 and a half hours long and it’s just audio. The plan was to put it up on YouTube so I could embed it on the website page as an unlisted video. Originally I planned to just have a single static image on the screen (like my normal audio episodes on YouTube) but when I was editing it all together I thought “I wonder if I can find some video footage to accompany this recording?” So I found loads of stock video footage – video footage of things like British landscapes & monuments, street scenes in various parts of the UK, drone footage of the British countryside, some footage from other parts of the world. I collected over 3 hours of it and then added the audio track on top. The result is quite mesmerising. You can listen to all the 85 rejected recordings and my comments while gazing at stunning views of Scottish mountains, cosy English villages, the busy streets of London and other locations. I really recommend that you watch it.

You will find that video embedded on the page for this episode (at the bottom). The link to the YouTube video is in the show notes for this episode, and I’m also adding the audio track into the LEP app, as an app-only episode, so you can listen in the app if you want, and you can pause and it will remember where you stopped just like a normal episode.

So that’s the WISBOLEP Round 1 recordings “85 Amazing LEPsters still worthy of your attention”. No voting, but you can listen to them and I hope you do. The voices of 85 LEPsters from around the world who are charming, funny, who have little stories to share and who have had success in their English learning journeys. Link in the description, embedded video on the website page for this episode, audio in the app-only category in the LEP App. Check it out!

Here’s how the rest of this episode is going to work

  1. In a moment I’m going to say some specific things for the 85 people who sent recordings but didn’t get picked for round 2.
    Then we’re going to move on to round 2 – that’s the voting round.
  2. I’m going to give you some advice for making your votes.
  3. We’re going to listen to the 16 recordings.
  4. Then you can vote for your favourites on the website (at the bottom of this page).

I hope you listen to all of this because I want you to know my decision making process, and also I really want you to listen to all the competition entries for round 2 in order to be able to vote.

1. Some words for those people not chosen for round 2

I’m now talking about the 85 people who have not been chosen for round 2.

First and foremost I want to say a big well-done to everyone who took part and sent me recordings. Seriously → Well done. You did really well. I am really impressed by the general standard this time.

I really want everyone who sent me recordings to know that I am your fan, and that I hope that everyone who listens to this podcast – all the LEPsters – I hope that they actually choose to listen to all of the recordings that have been sent to me. It’s not difficult – the recordings are just a click away – as I outlined a moment ago.

The responsibility to actually listen to all those other recordings is now over to you – the audience. It’s your choice.

Again, those of you who sent me recordings, I want to say well done for going out of your comfort zone, making the effort and taking the time to do that.

Even if you haven’t been selected for round 2, I want you to know that I think you are great. There are plenty of recordings that I didn’t pick which are still excellent. You are all interesting and inspiring for me. I wonder if I could do the same thing in French, so please know and remember that I’m proud of you and you deserve to feel really good about entering the competition in the first place.

You probably want to know my reasons for choosing the 16 people, or not choosing 85 people. I’ll explain in a few minutes.

Why 16, Luke? Why not 20 or even 25?

The reason for choosing 16 is to make it much easier for all the LEPsters who will now have to choose their favourite in the next round. I think that limiting the number of people will make it much more practical for you the audience. Also, it will make the voting more fair. If there were too many people in round 2, it would be too difficult to listen to all the recordings, too hard to remember them all, and therefore too hard to choose.

How did I choose the 16 people? What’s my criteria?

As a teacher I don’t like rejecting people – because my job is to be encouraging, to help build people’s confidence and maintain their motivation. As well as instructing people in the ways of the English language, and correcting people and so on, my job as an English teacher is also to give my students a confidence boost. So, it has not been great fun for me to essentially say “no” to 85 people.

The criteria for my decision were simply these questions: (and I want you to think about these things when you come to vote for your favourites after listening to this episode fully).

Who do I think would be a good guest on the podcast?
Who would I like to hear more from?
Who do I think my audience would like to hear more from?

This is based on more than just the standard of English on display.
Ultimately, it’s about connection not perfection.
It’s about what you say, not just how you say it.
Here’s the thing. In the end, English is just a tool. It’s a tool that we use to communicate ideas, to help people, and to connect with people, to get things done.
I wanted to reflect that in the choices I made and try to pick people who have particularly specific, insightful, inspiring or entertaining things to say.
Now, I don’t mean that language ability is not important. Of course it is important because having sufficient control over the language helps you to achieve things in English – it helps you make connections, it helps you effectively communicate ideas. But remember that it’s the ideas, the connections, the enjoyment – these are the important things. So, to what extent are these things being achieved?

Who has insightful things that the audience might want to hear?
Who can share some really useful or interesting things about learning English?
Who has some interesting or entertaining stories to share?
Who grabbed my attention?


I keep saying this has been difficult because I’m worried that the people who didn’t make it to the final 16 – that you will feel like your recordings didn’t meet any of these criteria – but in many cases, they did. It was hard specifically because so many recordings did suggest insightful, interesting and entertaining things – but because I was forcing myself to narrow down the list to 16 I couldn’t pick them all.

You will see that even with just 16 candidates it will be really hard to choose a favourite.
You will almost definitely want to hear more from almost everyone and I’m sure there will also be people from the 85 recordings that didn’t qualify who you will also want to hear more from.

Disclaimer – No level assessments, language feedback or error correction

I think that some of you probably expect me to give English assessments of the competition entries. You might want me to comment on things like the accent, grammar or vocabulary of each participant, perhaps giving level assessments.

Well, I am afraid that I am not able to do that. I’m not giving full responses/feedback to all the competition entries.

So if you are expecting to get an assessment of the English of each person, sorry – it’s not going to happen.

That’s not the purpose of the competition, and I believe that kind of language assessment is a very personal thing, a complex thing and also a professional thing and since this is not a level-checking test, or an official English proficiency test, or an IELTS speaking exam or a level-placement interview that I might do at school, I’m not going to go through that process.

You’ve heard me explain my criteria for choosing candidates, and so that is all I am going to comment on.

I really want to encourage you to start developing your own sense of assessment, anyway.

And by assessment I mean judging the quality of someone’s English.

Let me refer again to this idea that it’s all about successfully communicating ideas and emotions. The ability to grab people’s attention, make connections with people, to communicate ideas and feelings in a clear and concise way.

This is the ultimate assessment of someone’s English. It’s the end result.

Also, I am not going to do error correction at this stage. Some of you will hear errors and you’ll want them to be corrected. I understand that.

I’m not doing error correction in these competition episodes, but I am planning to do it in a premium episode. I’ve been noting down certain language errors while listening in order to collate them and then I will record a language-oriented premium episode involving error corrections, but I will do it anonymously. I won’t name names. That’s just what I’ve decided to do and that is that. So, an anonymous error correction episode will arrive in the premium section after doing this competition.

So, from now onwards I would like you to turn down the volume on the “language judgement” part of your mind, and turn up the volume on the “community spirit” part. Let’s enjoy hearing from all these fellow LEPsters from around the world and look forward to hearing more from one of them in an upcoming conversation.

2. Round 2 – The voting round

This is where you finally get the chance to listen to those 16 recordings and then vote.

I’m going to play them all to you in just a few minutes.

How to choose

Simply this: Who do you want to hear more from?
Do you want to know more about a particular person?
Maybe they have hinted at a story that you’d like to hear.
Maybe they have insights into learning that you’d like to hear about.
Who would you like to hear talking to me in a full interview?


Remember – it isn’t about who has the best English per se, although this may be a factor.

It’s more about whose story you want to hear the most. Remember: Connection, not perfection. [Thanks “All Ears English Podcast” :) ]

Who is the most the most intriguing, the most interesting, the most likeable, the most engaging, the most sincere, the most insightful or just the most enjoyable person to listen to? Who has the most potential for a good conversation with me?

Tips

Prepare to make a note (mental note or written note) of the people you want to choose.
When you hear someone you might vote for, note down their name / nationality / other details.

Then go to the voting page and select the ones you noted. Yes I am saying “ones” and “people” because you will be able to vote for more than one person.

Voting rules

  • You can vote for up to 5 people
  • You can only submit your vote once and you can’t change it after you have clicked “Vote”, so be sure about your selection.
  • You won’t be able to see the results of the voting until the voting has closed.
  • The voting closes on Sunday 6 December at midnight CET.

3. Let’s listen to the 16 recordings (Finally!!)

Here are the 16 recordings for round 2. These are the people you can vote for.

I will say the person’s Name & Nationality or any other remarkable features, and then their recording.

I won’t make any other comments after them, because I don’t want to influence your decision. I will only say things to help you remember who you heard.

I am presenting them in alphabetical order by first name.

If you want to hear these recordings again, you can find them all on the page for this episode. Just go there [www.teacherluke.co.uk/wisbolep] and you can listen to them as many times as you like. You will find the audio and the voting form at the bottom of the page. You’ll need to scroll past the transcript I’m reading from.

Remember, if you sent a recording and you’re not here (that’s most of you) – please do not feel too disappointed. It’s quite possible that your recording was also fantastic – but, you know, I forced myself to pick 16. This is the way.

Let’s start.

*Play recordings – they’re all available at the bottom of this page, with the voting form*

One thing is clear from listening to these recordings

It is possible to improve your English to a really good level in adulthood, and you can do it in your own way.

4. VOTING IS NOW OPEN – Please vote for your favourites

What happens next?

When the voting is closed on SUNDAY 6 DECEMBER AT MIDNIGHT (CET), we will see who has the most votes.

If it’s a draw, I will cast the decisive vote.

The winner will be featured in a full episode. It’ll be a conversation between me and the winner.

I also plan to feature the two runners-up in an episode too (they’ll get half an episode each).

Reminder: If you want to listen to those 16 people again, you can find the individual recordings on the page for this episode (with the voting form)

Final words

Well done to everyone for taking part in this competition.

I want to urge you to also check out the other recordings “WISBOLEP ROUND 1 – 85 LEPSTERS STILL WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION” (video below) and enjoy the nice views in the video.

Feel free to leave your comments in the comment section as usual.

For the 85 other LEPsters – I must say I am still curious about what they have to say and I think they could be very interesting to hear from. I have suggested that they record themselves and make the recording into a YouTube video which I can then share on the website. Perhaps if someone out there already has their own podcast or would like to start one they could consider interviewing some of the people who took part in this competition.

I will let you get in touch with each other in the comment section of this episode. Please feel free.

That’s it! Please vote, please listen to all the other recordings and please be excellent to each other!

I will speak to you again about WISBOLEP after 6 December, when the results are in!


Audio version (also available in the App-only episodes category of the LEP App)

[DOWNLOAD Audio Version of WISBOLEP Round 1 – 85 LEPsters – 310MB]

688. Sean Connery

I recorded an episode about Sean Connery, who died yesterday. I didn’t expect to get emotional, but I did (a bit). Here it is. Hope you like it.

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Episode Transcript & Notes

Hello listeners, 

Sean Connery died at the weekend. Sir Sean Connery as maybe I should call him. So here is an episode about Sean Connery, or at least an episode in which I ramble on about Sean Connery.

Just in case you don’t know – Sean Connery was an actor from Scotland who played James Bond (technically not the first, but he’s considered to be the first proper James Bond) and plenty of other roles in other films. Which ones?

Right, so hopefully you know now who I’m talking about.

Did you hear the news? Is this a big moment for you, or for people where you are? I don’t know how significant this is to you, although I know that some of you were definitely moved by the news and that you want me to talk about it. 

I’ll tell you about how I learned about his death yesterday, and I’ll give some of my personal thoughts and stuff in a minute.

Of course, it’s sad because we loved him in films and he’s gone now and it’s also strange whenever anyone dies because we can’t quite come to terms with the fact that someone who we knew is no longer in the world, they’re just gone now. It’s difficult to come to terms with that.

At times like this, when a public figure dies, I think we want to hear or read tributes to them, to revisit some of their finer moments, to appreciate them, maybe to re-evaluate their significance in the world, which may be the case with Sean Connery because to some extent he was quite divisive. 

I wasn’t planning to do this episode, because well, as you know, I’ve got my work cut out at the moment (I’ve got lots of work to do) with things like the WISBOLEP competition (still working on it), LEP Premium content (also working on it) and other upcoming episodes. 

I have another interview/conversation episode with one of my friends who you haven’t heard before, coming soon – probably in the next couple of days – here I am again, probably uploading too many episodes too close together… I hope you listen to them all.

But I digress. The point I was making was that when I heard the news of Sean Connery’s death I did feel sad (as I’ll describe in a minute) but I didn’t immediately think “Oh I must do an episode about this”  – the main reason being that although I used to enjoy watching Sean Connery in films, and I’ve always had fun imitating his voice, and people sometimes say my dad looks like him (my Japanese friend Moto was really struck by this when he met him once “Your dad looks like Sean Connery!” I think he was a bit intimidated) Despite those things, I don’t feel I really know enough to record a full episode on him – or at least I feel I don’t know enough about him to do the sort of tribute that you might expect. I mean, one filled with all the key facts about his life. A full retrospective of the man’s life and work. That kind of thing. I’m not really able to do that, in the time that I have. All I can do is just talk to you about what he meant to me personally. 

As I said, I’ve always enjoyed watching him in films (and by the way the James Bond films are not my favourite Sean Connery films) and I’ve always enjoyed having fun with his very characteristic voice, I was never a massive Sean Connery fan. 

Some of you out there listening are probably bigger fans of his than I am and you might know more details about his life than I do (and please feel free to add things in the comment section if you feel I have missed something significant) You may have read books about him and so on. I haven’t read those books, or seen all the documentaries about him, or watched all the interviews with him (but I have seen a few), but I will talk about him because he was a huge figure in popular culture, and he was British, of course. Although actually, I think he was Scottish, first and foremost. He was a very proud Scot and a vocal supporter of Scottish independence, so let’s say that while, technically, he was British (because Scotland is part of the UK) in his heart he considered himself to be Scottish first and foremost.

Also, another reason for me to do this episode is that I think quite a lot of you out there have been expecting me to talk about Sean Connery. I know this mainly from social media and comments on my website over the last 24 hours. I’ve had messages requesting an episode on Sean or messages from people saying that when they heard the news they immediately thought of me and expected an episode about him, which is interesting, because I suppose for many people I am your portal to British culture and you’ve heard me do my Sean Connery voice on this podcast quite a few times.  

Anyway, I think that when I get a few comments from people it’s usually just the tip of the iceberg and those few comments probably reflect the thoughts of many more of my ninja listeners who don’t get in touch with me.

So, I’m mainly doing this episode in response to the desire of my listeners to hear me talking about this. 

It’s going to go like this.

I’m going to give my personal thoughts about how I learned about his death and what went through my mind.

I’ll read from a BBC article about Sean Connery – just so I can cover some of the main facts about him, and perhaps read some quotes from public figures who have paid tribute to him in the last few days.

And finally I think it could be fun to consider his voice and do some impressions of him and tell a couple of jokes, because his voice was definitely one of the iconic things about him. 

So, once again, I will probably explain to you how to do a Sean Connery impression. We might listen to some samples of him speaking too, if I can find something appropriate.

My personal thoughts

How did I hear about it?

What was my response?

I posted a picture on Twitter which probably just confused everyone, I think. Let me explain.

BBC Article with Tributes

www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-54761824

Sean Connery on whether he was worried about being typecast

Jokes

What time does Sean Connery arrive at Wimbledon?

  • Tennish

Why does Sean Connery hate crabs?

  • Because they’re shellfish

What did Sean Connery say when a book fell on his head?

  • I can only blame my shelf.

687. WISBOLEP Problem / Polite Requests / An Inspiring Email / Fly Me To the Moon

A rambling episode with some news about a problem I have with the WISBOLEP competition (ooh!), some tips on making polite requests, an inspiring email from a LEPster and a song on guitar at the end.

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Episode Transcript (95% complete)

Hello everyone,

How are you doing? 

This is a weird period of history in which we are living? I hope you’re getting on ok. Here in France the government has just put some new lockdown restrictions in place and we’re all trying to work out what they really mean. I don’t want to go on about covid on this podcast too much, except to say “hang in there everyone” and keep calm and carry on. Check out my episode from earlier this year which is all about language for talking about lockdown and dealing with lockdown, including the word lockdown, if you’re wondering what that is.

Here’s an episode in which I’m on my own, doing a bit of housekeeping – general podcast admin. I’m mainly going to talk about the WISBOLEP competition (as you can see from the title of the episode), but also I’m going to ramble about a few other things too including teaching you a bit of English – just some simple advice about making polite requests, also an inspiring message from a listener and maybe a song on the guitar at the end, we will see.

I’m publishing this episode hot on the heels of the last episode, which was my conversation with Christian from Canguro English (LEP686). Have you heard that? I only published it a few days ago and conventional podcasting wisdom says that you shouldn’t publish another episode so quickly after the last one, because the last one will sort of get ignored, lost, forgotten or sidelined as people won’t notice it and it won’t get as many listens as it should. 

I think it’s a good episode, so if you haven’t heard it – be sure to listen to episode 686 with Christian. There’s also a video version of it on YouTube. It’s had a great response with people saying generally positive things, which is nice. Some people are requesting more video content. My position on this is that most of my content will always be audio, because that’s what I do – I make audio content, but every now and then I’ll do video versions of episodes and stick them on YouTube as well. OK. So subscribe to LEP on YouTube to make sure you get notified when I publish a video episode. I’ll probably tell you on the podcast too.

Also the episode before last has had some really interesting comments on the website. That was the episode about bilingual children in which we heard Alex in Moscow and his daughter Alice. Very interesting to read the comments from LEPsters or LEPlanders who are also bringing up their kids to speak English. Go to the episode archive and find 685 and read the comments. It’s all interesting stuff. I will do more of those bilingual kids episodes at some point. It’s a bit hard to mentally keep track of everything. There are a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous – a lot strands in this old dude’s head, man.

WISBOLEP Problem

The deadline for sending in your entries was 15 October, so that’s long gone. One person is now freaking out.

The results aren’t ready yet or anything. You still have to vote for your favourites and all that – “how can we vote?” Steady on, the voting’s not ready yet either. All in good time. 

All the recordings are sitting there in my inbox and I haven’t had a proper chance to work on the next stage of the competition yet. Things take time around here, you know how it is. 

First of all I should say that it was great to get all the entries. I’ve managed to listen to almost all of them. I should say that it’s amazing to hear the voices of some of my listeners (some of them – obviously only a tiny portion of you sent in recordings because the vast majority of you are ninjas as we know, and that’s fine). It’s inspiring to hear little snippets of people’s stories of learning English, with the help of this podcast in many cases. That’s also quite flattering –  that’s not the point of it all of course – just to flatter me or something. The point was to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone a little bit and record something and send it in, to celebrate my audience a bit and also to just find a new guest with an interesting story to tell in an episode of the podcast. I want to say well done for everyone who plucked up the courage to record a sincere entry into the competition. Some of them are particularly inventive and… well, you will see.

It’s going to be very difficult to choose a winner, because there are quite a lot of really interesting people and I’m sure you are going to want to hear more from many of them. 

But the thing is, I have a bit of a problem. We have a bit of a problem with this competition. It’s a logistical issue. Logistical refers to the organisation of something complicated.

It’s not a major problem. It’s not like a Tom Cruise jump out of a plane to save-the-world Mission Impossible to problem or anything – no explosions. It’s quite a good problem really, but still, I’ve been scratching my head and wondering what to do about it.

What’s the problem Luke?

The problem is… I’ve had 100 entries – each one 2 minutes in length – that’s about 200 minutes in total, and that’s about 3 and a half hours if I play all the entries back to back without any pause or comment from me between them and without any introduction from me, and I will have to do some kind of introduction at the start, and it will also be necessary for me to say the names of each person again plus maybe one or two other things to help you remember them. 

So, 200 minutes or 3.5 hours, plus an introduction in which I explain the voting rules etc, and little comments from me –  that’s at least 4 hours of audio.

It’s too much, isn’t it? It’s too much audio for me to expect everyone to listen to. And I need everyone to listen to it all because I want to do some kind of fair voting process for this. Hmmm.

I like doing long episodes, but this goes beyond that, especially since I would like every single two-minute entry to be heard and you’ll need to remember which one or ones are your favourites in order to vote for them on my website.

Imagine a presidential election with 100 candidates, all presenting themselves to you one after the other. You’d never remember who they were, even if they were all extraordinary.

So this is the issue. Too many entries. It’s become a bit of a logistical nightmare.

It’s my fault. I take full responsibility of course. I set the 2-minute time limit for each recording because I thought you’d need that long to say something meaningful.

What did I expect though? For some reason I thought not many people would enter, but I don’t know why I thought that. I should have known that I’d get at least 100 entries! 

Anyway, what’s the problem? You might think.

Let’s go through the options I have ahead of me now and we’ll see.

Why am I telling you this? 

Transparency – I want everyone to know what’s going on, so that I don’t get loads of messages from people asking my why I’m doing it this way, and not that way and why didn’t you do this, and I thought you would do that, and I’m disappointed with this and why didn’t you play my recording, and I thought you’d play them all, and I was disappointed by the last Star Wars film and English is too complicated because the spelling and pronunciation are weird and there are too many accents and why can I understand you Luke but I don’t understand other native speakers and can you explain the Russian Joke and why why why and all that kind of stuff. 

To avoid confusion and questions, I want you to know the situation like I do.

Also I’m curious to see what you think and I would like you to tell me your thoughts because it can help me make the right decision. (although to be honest I think I’ve already made up my mind)

I’d like to have some input from you but ultimately, I do maintain supreme executive power, so I will still do what I personally think is best, but nevertheless, I am interested in your ideas and I want you to know my decision making process.

Some of you will think this is all unnecessary and that I’m overthinking it, but I disagree. I think it’s necessary and I’m applying the appropriate amount of thinking and talking time to this. So there. 

The main things we need to do are:

  • I want you, the audience, to be able to hear all the entries that have been sent to me (because I think people sent them to me with the understanding that they would be published for public scrutiny) and I want you to be able to vote for your favourites, rather than it just being a solo decision from me. 
  • I would like to give an introduction before playing all the entries, because there are things I need to say about the voting process and stuff like that. Also I would like to make one or two little comments after some or all of the entries, as well as repeating the names of the contestants. All those things will increase the time this will all take, of course – so we’re looking at 4hours plus in total.
  • Then, based on the voting by you the audience, I will interview the winner. There might be a couple of runners up too, we will see.
  • I want to do this in a way which is fair, and which gives everyone an equal chance (because I am committed to maintaining some democratic standards in this world!)

Options

Here are the different options which I’m considering. None of them are perfect, because of the whole “too many entries” issue. (by the way, saying “too many” does sound negative, but like I said before, this is quite a good problem in a sense. It’s a bit like having too much chocolate in your cupboard or something, or too much cake. Oh we’ve got too much cake! When and how will we eat it all? We can’t throw it away can we?) You see? Yes, you see. The cake metaphor is good. 

So, the options I’m considering. And I’ll say right now that I think I’m going to choose option 4. Anyway, here we go.

Option 1

I play all the entries (in alphabetical order, or chronological order) in one single epically long episode – probably about 4 hours long or more.

Problem: This is obviously far too long and just not a practical length for one single episode of the podcast. The chances are, people will not listen to the whole thing and most of the entries will not be heard and so the voting will be unfair.

Option 2

I play all the entries, but in a series of episodes (that all get uploaded on the same day). It would probably be 5 or 6 episodes → Introduction, WISBOLEP 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. 20 entries in each episode. Each episode is about 45 minutes long.

Problem: It’s more or less the same as option 1. Will people listen to all the entries? The people in parts 4 and 5 might not get as much attention as the ones in the first part. 

Also, I have to say that I have to be a bit careful about what I publish to my podcast feed.

Dropping 5 episodes of only competition entries into my podcast feed is not the greatest idea – and I say that as a podcaster and podcasters must be fairly careful about what they publish. I have to be honest, I think that the majority of my audience aren’t that invested in the competition and the entries. 

I have a survey on my website asking people to vote for their favourite types of episode (find it in the CONTANT section) and this kind of episode – competition entries from listeners – is actually the least popular type of episode that I do. I like doing them, but I have to make sure I do it right. I think the reason this type of episode got low votes in my survey is because the last time I did this (YEP competition) I published all the entries from round 1 (8 episodes in total, all in a row) and it probably wasn’t what a lot of people wanted in their podcast feed. I shouldn’t really do that again.

Option 3

I choose what I think are the best entries and create a shortlist of something like 20 entries, and play them in one episode, and let people vote on just those 20.

Problem: 80 people’s entries just get rejected and never get played or published in any way, which is a pity and I think that would disappoint about 80 people who took the time to record something thinking that it would appear on LEP. I don’t think I ever said that all the entries were guaranteed to be played on the podcast, but I may have given that impression.

This would essentially solve the main problem of there being too many entries, but I don’t really want to just just chuck 80 recordings in the bin. Those people recorded them expecting them to be heard by more than just me.

Option 4

I create two rounds of voting. 

The first round is done on the website only, meaning that all the entries are posted on my website but not played in an episode of the podcast.

That way, the people who really want to listen to all the entries and vote for them, can do it by going to the website and listening there. I would probably post all the audio as an unlisted YouTube video because I can create time stamps for each entry, making it easier for you to find them and hear them.

So, the episodes would all be available for listening on the website (so they are made publically available) and people can vote for their favourites there. The winners of the first round could be decided by a combination of votes from listeners and my own choices.

Round 2 would be something like the most popular 20 entries from round 1 and all of them would be played in an episode of the podcast.

This would make it much easier for the whole audience to vote.

The winner of round 2 would be interviewed on the podcast.

It might be possible for some runners up to be featured too.

So, which option do you prefer? 

To be honest, I’m leaning towards option 4. I think I’m going to choose option 4 but I’d also like to run it by you to see what you all think.

The chances are, you’ll all have different opinions and different advice, which is fine.

I get the final say and you’ll just have to trust me on that.

Let me just recap

  • Option 1 – one mammoth 4 hour episode with all the entries. No.
  • Option 2 – one mammoth 5-part WISBOLEP series. I don’t fancy it.
  • Option 3 – I choose the top 20 entries and publish them, and just bin the rest, never to be heard by the public.
  • Option 4 – Put all the entries on the website and those people who want to listen to every single one, can do it, and they can vote too.The most popular 20 (let’s say) will then be published in a single WISBOLEP episode for the second round of voting. The selection process will be based on a combination of the listener voting and my own judgement (which will probably be more or less the same I expect).

Again, some of you might say I’m overthinking this whole thing. But I’m just trying to do it properly and fairly.

I think I’m going to choose option 4, but as I said, let me know your thoughts. 

You might have an idea for an option 5 for example, so feel free to share that. 

But do bear in mind that I also have to limit the time and cost that is involved on my side for this.

For example, if your idea for Option 5 could be for me to do a YouTube live stream in which I play all the entries one by one, with some comments from me… well, that could be fun, but it would also mean me live streaming on YouTube for a lot more than 4 hours probably, and it’s rare that I ever get 4 free consecutive hours in my life these days! So, that would just not be practical from my side. [Do it at night!] No, sorry. I need my beauty sleep.


My name is Luke not Luck / look / Mr Luke / luke (lower case L) or Luke’s

I’ve been doing this for 11.5 years, nearly 700 episodes (a lot more in fact) and I’m still talking about how to spell my name (I remember saying this in episode 1 of the podcast).

People often spell my name Luck → but maybe it’s autocorrect!

Proofread your emails and comments before you send them! (advice for us all)

So this whole “Luck English Postcard” thing might just be a conspiracy by computers and phones that are “just trying to make the world a better place” by helping us with our spelling (and yes, “postcard” is often what people type when they mean podcast – maybe that’s because they think the word is postcard – it is the sort of word people learn in lower-level English classes, or it’s because your computer doesn’t have very good English and it’s “helpfully” autocorrecting podcast to postcard. I don’t know.)

Having said that, I remember many many times when I was actually called Luck, look, ruku or rook or whatever by learners from around the world that I have met, but again that’s probably because it’s hard to pronounce Luke, or people don’t realise that Luke is a name and they think my name is Luck. 

For example, if I was learning Chinese or Russian or any other language with words that look different to English I am sure I would make similar errors and worse probably. I do it in French. 

Basically, what I’m saying is I forgive you. But please do remember to proofread your emails and comments. ;)


Making Polite Requests

Another language point here with reference to people getting in touch with me: making requests.

People often request certain things from me. Like for example they’re very keen to hear me talk about a certain topic.

  • Luke, make an episode about Peaky Blinders.
  • Luke, do more videos.
  • Luke, publish an episode about Ricky Gervais.

Honestly, when I read that, probably in the queue at the supermarket or something, my first reaction is “no”. “No-one tells me what to do! … well, except maybe my daughter, and my wife, and my boss at work, and the government, and.. well ok fine, some people tell me what to do, but you get the point.”

Even though I would quite like to do an episode about Peaky Blinders, or Ricky Gervais and I like doing videos when I can. 

My first, stressed out, overloaded mind, trying to not catch COVID reaction is “no – don’t tell me what to do!”

I think this is just because of the way the request has been presented to me.

In most cases, when people request things from me, I am sure they are being very well-meaning and there is no malice behind it at all, quite the opposite. They’re showing their enthusiasm and it’s motivated by positive feelings. They like the podcast and would love to hear something about Peaky Blinders or whatever it is.

What I’m saying is, think about how you word your requests. 

Think of the difference between a request and an order (or an imperative).

Requests are polite (they should be), orders are not really polite. Orders are what the police do, for example. “Get in the back of the van!” 

I could get into the fine details and all the linguistic specifics, but this is not LEP Premium, so let’s just keep it simple.

Order / imperative

Make an episode about Ricky Gervais.

Even your boss at work doesn’t use imperatives.

Write this report and send it to me by 5pm Friday, and also come in to work on Sunday, we need you.” –> if you work in a horrible place with a boss who doesn’t care about your feelings even a little bit.

Usually bosses will at least sugarcoat their requests a little bit, to help the medicine go down.

If you could wrap up this report and ping it to me by end of play on Friday, that would be great, and I’m afraid you’re going to have to come in on Sunday – there’s nothing we can do about it – I’ll see if I can get you a day off later in the year maybe.

Request

Let’s consider how to turn an imperative into a simple and polite request.

Luke, make a new video with Amber and Paul.

You could add a “please” to that, because we all know that adding please makes it more polite, right? 

Luke, please make a new video with Amber and Paul.

That’s better, but adding please to an order isn’t enough. It is still an order, and it just sounds like you are a rich person giving commands to a member of staff or something. 

Also, adding thanks at the end makes it sound a bit dismissive and a little bit rude even. 

Luke, please reunite the Beatles on the podcast. Thanks.

Saying thanks for something before it’s been done, I think, sounds a bit pushy. It’s like assuming it’s going to be done.

We sometimes write “Thanks in advance” at the end of an email with a request, but it can still come across as a bit pushy. [Thinks: I need to do an online course about writing emails…]

The issue is with the structure. Any imperative structure still sounds quite rude even if you add lots of stuff at the start or end, because it is still an imperative. It’s still an order.

Luke, please consider making an episode about James Bond. [good, you’ve added “please consider” – a nice bit of hedging but you’re still ordering me to do it.]

Luke, if you have time, please consider making an episode about James Bond. [“If you have time” is a thoughtful thing to add, but again this is still an order.]

Both those things are better, but this is still not what I’m looking for.

What are you looking for Luke?

You need to make your request into a question. To cut a long story short I just recommend that you add “Could you” at the start and “please” at the end. That’s it. That’s probably enough, probably. Don’t forget the question mark.

Luke, could you make an episode about Ricky Gervais please? 

This is much better. It just comes across as much more polite and nice and I don’t feel like I’m being ordered to do something. I’m more willing to have an instantly positive response to that.

Even better would be a bit more hedging (adding things before or after the main statement), just to show more respect. 

You don’t have to go too far. 

Luke, your podcast is a work of genius unrivalled in all forms of art, culture and human endeavor, and I am certain that in your infinite wisdom have you have considered all possible topics for an episode of your esteemed podcast. Having said that, and I pose this most humble of requests to you with the deepest level of respect, sir, would it be at all possible if you could consider spending even a tiny speck of your most valuable time on the consideration of an episode devoted to the subject of Richard Gervais. I am certain that you would bring new insights and depth to this topic, and that all other commentary on it would pale in comparison to the profound work that you would undoubtedly produce.

That’s obviously too much.

But you could do this:

Hi Luke, thanks for your episodes. I particularly enjoy the ones about comedy, especially the one you did about Karl Pilkington. Could you do an episode about Ricky Gervais at some point, please? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on his stand up and TV shows. Don’t know if you’ve already considered that, but it would be really interesting to hear your thoughts.

Or, more simply – Luke, could you do an episode about Ricky Gervais please? 

I know online culture is to just put things in the simplest and quickest way possible, but let’s not abandon the pragmatics of politeness in the process.

This is not just me by the way – I’m not just ultrasensitive or anything – this is a cultural thing and I think it’s true across the English speaking world. 

Some of you might think that my comments here are waaaay too much and that it’s completely mad, unnecessary and over-sensitive to phrase your requests like this, but if you want my professional opinion I’d say → this is the right way to do it.

And that’s it. 

Just to recap. If you are requesting something from me, just add “Could you…” at the start and “please?” at the end. Nice one.


Inspiring message from Daniel ER on Facebook

Dear luke, [actually it should be Luke with a captal L :) ]

I´m not sure whether you will have time to read this comment but here it goes anyway.

Three years ago, I got a ticket to Australia. With no English at all, I was determined to have an amazing adventure, live in another country, and obviously, learn English.

To be honest, it was really hard at the beginning. I had to play music in the street to earn some cash and I felt bad when I couldn´t say what I thought to the kind people of Australia.

Six months went by like nothing so I grabbed my backpack and accordion and took a road trip towards the north of Australia (Queensland).

I could [was able to] get a job in a resort as maintenance and although I [‘ve] gotta say that Australian English “is a thing”, all of them helped with my English, they were really patient with me.

Most of the time I was sad: People speak too fast, where is that accent from? What do you mean by “smoko” mate? It was then when I found your podcast. I had lots of time to listen to Spotify while I was fixing something at the resort so I took advantage of that. This really helped me a lot, I couldn´t be more grateful. I won´t forget episode 297 called “be positive” as I listened to it just on time, just when I was feeling that this fight wasn´t worth it.

Now, being fully aware that my English is not the best one, it is at least functional and that´s the point of all this, isn´t it? We must keep improving but at the end of the day you should be nicer to yourself, I mean that we have to recognize the achievements done so far.

I am back in my country (Chile) and I could [was able to] get an amazing job in which I speak English all day long, and you don´t know how awesome that is to me.

I honestly believe that maybe you are not fully aware of what do you actually do… you help people to achieve their dreams so be proud of all your efforts because we – your listeners- will be eternally grateful.

If someone out there is reading this comment and you are feeling frustrated and sad, just keep going! You can do this, it is not impossible and you have everything you need to learn this beautiful language. The key, in my opinion, you must be willing to go through the tough and uncomfortable moments that are on this path. You will remember them since they are the ones that teach us most. (quite sure I wrote that badly hahaha)

Thanks a lot for everything and I´ll certainly be listening to the podcast.

A huge hug from Chile.

Daniel — in Santiago, Chile.


www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

I’m working on Premium content which will arrive soon. This will be audio premium episodes and hopefully some pronunciation videos too. 


SONG – Fly me to the moon

Lyrics & Guitar Chords

tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/frank-sinatra/fly-me-to-the-moon-chords-335196

681. New Competition: Why I Should Be On LEP (WISBOLEP) / Story: The First Time I Said F*ck

Announcing a new LEP competition which everyone is welcome to enter, plus an anecdote about the first time I said a rude word in front of my parents. Send your competition entries to podcastcomp@gmail.com

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LEP Premium Promo

LEP is brought to you by LEP Premium. This is how I pay for this podcast, along with donations from kind philanthropic listeners using the PAYPAL DONATE BUTTONS. LEP Premium though is my paid subscription service which includes loads of audio and video content to help develop your grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. You can get episodes in the LEP App or online, with PDFs, tests and pronunciation drills. For all the information you need go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 

Notes & Transcriptions for #681

Hello everyone! In this episode I’m going to tell you about a new competition for LEP, which you can enter, and then I’m going to tell you a true story of something that happened to me when I was a child. In fact, the title of the story is “The First Time I Said F*ck”. I’m reluctant to blurt out the F word so early in the episode, but anyway, the story is about the first time I swore in front of my parents, and it’s a story I wrote for doing stand up comedy on stage, but I’m going to read it out on the podcast today.

But first, what about this new…

Competition

I’ve decided to launch a new competition and I’m going to tell you all about it in this episode.

I hope you feel welcome to take part. Everyone is invited to enter this competition, and that includes you, so I hope you consider taking part this time.

I mentioned this in the last episode and got a number of positive responses from people saying things like “I really hope you do the competition!” and so on.

Again, I want to say thanks to a listener called Vadim for prompting me to do this. 

It’s been ages since the last competition (the last one concluded with episode 407 – the interview with Kristina from Russia) and I sort of wasn’t planning to do a new one, but then Vadim sent me this email and I just thought “OK, why not!?”

Here is Vadim’s message (with some error correction).

There are a few errors in here I’m afraid, Vadim. I’m going to correct those errors as I go along, hope you don’t mind.

New Competition?

Vadim

Hello, Luke!

I have an idea for new competition! It’s been awhile, since you have launched one.

I have an idea for a new competition. It’s been a while since you launched one.

So, an idea is very simple. It will be called WSIBOLEP, or Why Should I Be On Luke’s English Podcast [Actually, I’ll call it WISBOLEP – Why I should be on LEP]. 

So, the idea is very simple. It will be called WSIBOLEP

All you need, it’s just ask your listeners to record a little voice message, telling Why you MUST interview them on your Podcast. 

All you need to do is just ask your listeners to record a little voice message saying why you must interview them on your podcast.

Because I believe that you have a lot of interesting people listening to you. Russian oligarchs, pornstars, ex-nazis hiding in Argentina, bobsleigh world champions, writers, celebrities, presidents, royal family members etc, etc.

And then your listeners will vote for the person who has a story that they want to listen to in more detail.

What do you think about it? I believe that it will be a good way to encourage people to do a bit of a practice and stop being a ninjas [being ninjas]. And those who don’t want to take part in this competition can just have a fun [just have fun], listening to exciting intriguing stories from all around the world.

Well, I actually think this is a fine idea and I’m curious to see what happens. 

Let’s do another competition on LEP.

The prize this time – being interviewed in a full episode. I hope you consider that to be a prize!

WISBOLEP (Why I should be on LEP)

So let me summarise the plan for this competition.

You have to:

  • Record up to 2 minutes of audio explaining why you should be interviewed on LEP, then send it to me at podcastcomp@gmail.com (only)
  • Listeners will hear all of the clips and vote for the person they want to hear, then I’ll interview the winner.
  • Remember: You are talking to the listeners, not to me. 
  • You can use a script, or no script, but I encourage you to not use a script, and instead make some notes and do some improvising too. If you do read from a script, make an effort to make it sound natural, rather than robotic.

Also, if you’re wondering how to record – it’s pretty easy these days. You could make a voice recording on your phone and send it to podcastcomp@gmail.com or you could use Quicktime on a Mac or the equivalent on a PC and then email it to podcastcomp@gmail.com or you could use SpeakPipe.com – just go to speakpipe, record a message, put your name on it, then send the link to podcastcomp@gmail.com

What am I going to say?

Now, you might be thinking, “what am I going to say?”

Well, first, remember that you’re trying to persuade the audience that you should be on the podcast, so think of some reasons you should be on, and not just because you really want to (although that’s ok too).

Basically, you’re saying “Hi listeners, Hi Luke. Thanks for this opportunity, and this is why I think I should be on LEP…”

Then you’d need to explain why you should be on LEP (obviously).

Remember, you have UP TO 2 minutes. This means that you don’t have to do 2 minutes. It could be 1 minute if you like, but no more than 2 minutes. 

2 minutes is your maximum allotted time. 

You might be thinking “Just two minutes?? That’s not very long.” 

I’ve chosen 2 minutes because I need to keep this manageable! I have no idea how many people will send me entries to this competition, but since I’m going to be playing the audio recordings on the podcast, I need to limit how long they are, otherwise I’ll have too much audio. So, 2 minutes MAX, please. If your recording is over two minutes, it might not be entered into the competition.

Here are some ideas of why you should be on LEP.

Ideas

  • Maybe you have an interesting story to tell – either related to English, to the podcast, or to neither of these things! Do you have something interesting you could share with us? Some kind of story, perhaps related to you or someone else?
  • Maybe you want to talk about how you learn or have learned English, and give some advice.
  • Perhaps you’ve had some success with a particular technique that you could share with the listeners. 
  • Perhaps you have experienced progress in some way, and you could share that. 
  • Perhaps you discovered the podcast in a special way. 
  • Perhaps the podcast has been a way for you to connect with other people. 
  • Perhaps you met your partner because of LEP, or got a job because of LEP.
  • Maybe you have an interesting story or experience relating to English that you can share.
  • Perhaps you have a cross-cultural experience you could talk about.
  • Maybe you are involved in something interesting that you think people will want to know about.
  • Perhaps you are particularly funny, or have something to offer to the audience.
  • Or maybe you’re just up for a proper conversation with me, on the podcast!
  • And maybe you just have something original to say.

In any case, prepare two minutes – with or without a script – in which you convince the audience that you should be picked for a feature length episode of LEP. 

Then record it and send it to me! And then maybe you will be on LEP.

This competition is open to everyone. Anyone and everyone can take part, regardless of your level of English. 

This is Why I Should Be On LEP – WISBOLEP

I expect the rules this time might limit the number of participants, because some people will be too shy. But I still hope that people send me recordings! 

I expect there will be fewer entries than before, but hopefully I’ll still get some people! 

So, if you have something to offer the audience, get in touch and try to persuade everyone to pick you for LEP!!

In terms of level of English, as I said – there are no rules at all. 

You can have a low level, you can have a high level. 

It’s not about who has the best English. 

It’s more about who would be the most interesting and engaging guest, not just because of their level of English. 

DEADLINE

15 October. That’s your last chance. Midnight on 15 October 2020. [Previously the date was 31 October, but I have changed it]

As I said, I’ll probably get fewer people sending me recordings this time, but we’ll see – I often underestimate this kind of thing. 

Last time I had over 100 recordings which was great, but obviously that was a ton of preparation work for me – downloading all the recordings, preparing them, balancing out the sound levels of each one, making them into podcast episodes, dealing with the voting and counting etc. Quite a lot of work as you can imagine! I don’t mind of course, I liked hearing from everyone, but it messed with my workflow quite a lot!

But do send me your recording, especially if you have something interesting to say to the audience. 

When I’ve received all the recordings, I’ll edit them together, play them on the podcast and let you vote for the one you want.

Then I’ll arrange an interview with that person, and Bob’s your uncle.

So there you go! That is the new competition – WISBOLEP – Why I Should Be On LEP.

  • 2 minutes max
  • Persuade the audience to choose you for a full-length interview
  • Send your recordings to podcastcomp@gmail.com
  • Competition closes at midnight 15 October 2020.

I hope you take part even if you’re not completely sure. 

Go to the page for this episode on my website to read the rules and the details again if you like. Teacherluke.co.uk then click EPISODES and this is episode 681.

Feel free to ask questions in the comment section.

———

Premium LEPsters, I just wanted to remind you that P24 is drawing to a close. We’ve been through my massive list of homophones and expanded your vocab a bit in the process, now there are just two episodes left and they’re the ones that feature the jokes (not just crap ones made up by me). So P24 parts 11 and 12 are in the pipeline and will be coming to your Premium subscription soon.

To get the premium episodes, download the LEP App on your phone to listen to the episodes, or listen online. For all the info you need, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

677. A Post-Holiday Ramble / Holiday Vocab / Stories

I’ve come back from my holiday so it’s time to ramble on about some holiday stories, holiday vocabulary, podcast stats and other bits and pieces including an appearance by my daughter.

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675. An Unplanned Pre-Holiday Ramble (July 2020)

This episode is unedited and contains all my pauses, mistakes and thoughts while I attempt to talk about what’s coming up on LEP, my recent appearances on other people’s podcasts, comments and emails of the week and a couple of songs on the guitar.

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Luke on Other People’s Podcasts

The Real English Conversations podcast with Amy Whitney

Can you learn English without studying grammar?

Listen here

realenglishconversations.com/english-lessons-learning-tips/

Instant Feedback podcast with Markus Keeley

Talking to comedian Markus Keeley from Northern Ireland about identity, accents and a test of my knowledge of the Ulster Scots dialect of English.

instant-feedback.pinecast.co/episode/ffccfed122c9438c/32-luke-thompson

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Emails / Comments of the Week

An Amazing Beatle-inspired email from Elma

What’s your name? Elma

Do you have any other comments or feedback?: “Please please me” and read this email!

Dear Luke
„Because“ I don‘t know if I deleted my first email or if I sent it „Across the universe“ to the other Luke, I decided to write another special one „ From me to you“ „ With a little help from my friends“! I‘ve been listening to your Podcast since February and „Do you want to know a secret“? The „Chains“ are broken, „I‘ve got a feeling“ for the English language and my listening skills are „Getting better“ and better all the time. I listen to LEP „Here, there and everywhere“ „Eight days a week“!Don‘t „Ask me why“ I discovered it so late. With LEP „In my life“ „I feel fine“ every day, especially in these difficult times.
„Your mother should know“, that she has an amazing, kind, honest, funny and creative son (her two „Boys“ are so special) and an amazing family!
I want to tell you, that LEP is a great „Help“ for English learners! „Yes, it is“! I hope, „It won‘t be long“, till my English is as good as I would like it to be. „Don‘t let me down“ and please keep going in „What you‘re doing“!
I send „All my loving“ to you and your family especially your sweet little „Girl“. I wonder if her name is „Michelle“;) Stay healthy, take care and if it is too much loving at „The end“ because we don’t know each other I just say
„Good night“!
Greetings from Elma


PS. :) I hope, this is not a grammar disaster!! It is not my fault, my friends from Liddypool whispered the words in my ear!;)

Luke’s Reply:

I am the Eng-man! Goo-goo-ga-joob!

Hi Elma,

I love getting emails like this “Any Time At All” because it makes me feel like it’s my “Birthday” or “Something”. I’m “Flying”! I really “Dig It”. “Every Little Thing” in that email is impressive!

Would you mind if I read out the email on the podcast at some point? I’d like to share this with my listeners. I won’t reveal your email address, and If you prefer I can keep your name anonymous, or not – it’s up to you. Some of my listeners don’t want their name to be read out on the podcast for some reason.

Anyway, I should probably “Get Back” to my wife and daughter because “I Don’t Want To Spoil The Party” we are having together this Sunday afternoon.

So, let me say again, “Thank You Girl” for sending your “Words of Love” about my podcast.

More episodes are coming soon, and when you want to listen to something in English, “You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)”.

All the best!

Luke

Another comment of the week from Victoria

This appeared under episode 674 about driving insurance claims and car crashes.

I did some corrections and edits while reading the comment on the podcast. This version is how the comment was originally written.

Really enjoyed this episode! And you singing at the end of episodes is like the cherry on the cake!
And as for the topic of the episode… I’ve never been in a car crash myself, though, Ihave a story to tell.
It happened about 6 years ago when I was in my second year in college.
It was a few minutes after a class started when my friend – Lena – stormed into a classroom and slumped into a chair in front of me. Her winter coat was slightly dirty, her hair was a bit of a mess and her hands were trembling while she was fishing out her textbook and other stuff. Lena is a type of person who always is in a rush and bumps into something. And so knowing that, I didn’t ask her what happened right away. However, as time went on, I noticed that she was rubbing a side of her body and occasionally her knees. My other friend who was sitting right next to me noticed that, too. When we asked Lena what’s wrong she said that a car hit her just a few minutes ago. To say that we were gobsmacked would be an understatement… Her tone of voice was casual and it seemed that she didn’t give much attention to the whole situation. We asked her how she feels and she said that she feels a bit dizzy. My friend and I told her to go to a nurse. But Lena refused and carried on writing in her notebook. We tried several times convince her to go to a nurse but she didn’t want to hear us out, apparently. All this time Lena didn’t stop rubbing some spots on her body… When it was time for a short break we noticed that she was paler than usual. Though, she smiled and chatted with us. She told us that when she was in the middle of a zebra crossing a traffic light changed to red all of a sudden. It was supposed to blink green a few seconds before going red. This traffic light was known for its acting up. She started running towards the other side of a road but was hit by a car. Lena was a lightweight girl. The next thing she registered was that she was laying on a bonnet of that car. Apparently, a driver of the car started pulling off without looking at a zebra crossing so they didn’t notice a rushing pedestrian. Lena hopped off the hood of the car and headed over to a college building. To be honest, I don’t really remember whether the driver got out of the car and offered some help or not. After Lena told us this story she lifted up her sweater slightly and we saw a few forming bruises. Shortly after that she said that she feels worse. In the end, she went to a nurse and then was sent home.
She didn’t show up at classes a few weeks after the incident. She got a concussion.

————-

Song Lyrics

For No One by The Beatles (Paul McCartney was the main writer) 1966

www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/fornoone.html

Here, There & Everywhere by The Beatles (also mainly by Paul McCartney) 1966

www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/beatles/herethereandeverywhere.html

The only time John Lennon paid Paul McCartney a compliment (the only time he told Paul he liked one of his songs)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hho-TIY1L2w

Thanks for listening! Premium content is coming soon, and hopefully some free episodes before I go on holiday in August.

668. LEP LIVE! Ask Me Anything / Hang Out With Luke (AUDIO VERSION)

Listen to the audio version of the recent LEP Live Stream on YouTube including an audience Q&A, learning English tips, some crap ‘Dad Jokes’ and 3 songs on the guitar.

Small Donate Button

[DOWNLOAD]

Intro Transcript

Hello dear listeners, how are you? I hope that you are well, wherever you are in the world, whatever you are doing, whatever situation you currently find yourself in at this moment in time.

Because we do often just find ourselves in situations, don’t we? I do, anyway. Oh, I’m living in France, and I’m married and I have a daughter now… wow, how did that happen? Now I’m in a French bakery ordering a baguette. Now I’m walking down the street with the baguette under my arm and I’m stopping to say “Bonjour” to a shop owner that I am on speaking terms with. Not something I really planned to be doing a few years ago before I moved here. That’s just life, isn’t it? Wwe just find ourselves in different situations, unless of course your life only contains moments which you have prepared, expected, planned for and constructed. In which case, congratulations. How did you manage that?

And then last Wednesday I found myself sitting in front of my computer about to start live streaming on YouTube, the tube of you – a tube full of you. I was about to start talking into a camera to who knows how many people, to talk about who knows what. I did it. It went fine, I had lots of fun, it was cool to talk so directly to my listeners (or viewers as they were on Wednesday) – maybe you were there – if you were, then hello! I hope you enjoyed it too… and now, in this episode in fact you can listen to the audio of that recent live stream I did on YouTube. That’s what this episode is. 

Obviously, this was a video live stream and I was talking to viewers who could see me and send messages and questions to me via the chat and I was responding to those messages and questions during the live stream and because this was a video live stream, some of this might come across a little bit weirdly in the audio version because you’ll be missing certain visual clues like the expressions on my face, body language, objects I’m showing you on the screen, the text in the chat and so on, but if you prefer to consume your LEP content with your ears rather than your eyes, then here is the audio track of the live stream for your listening pleasure, and I hope it is pleasant to listen to, even if it is a bit different to a normal audio episode.

The experience of doing YouTube lives is a bit odd for me because it’s hard to do anything other than respond to the comments coming in from the chat, which is different to the way I usually record audio episodes, because normally I get to prepare myself more in advance and I know that people aren’t watching me, and it’s not live so I can edit afterwards, in case I say something that, on reflction, I probably shouldn’t say, and that sort of thing. This means that doing live videos is a bit intense, it’s quite hard to think straight and I found myself saying stuff off the top of my head that I might not have said if I had had time to really think about it. But I did find it fun. It’s just a bit different and takes some getting used to. 

You’ll hear me jump from one topic to the next quite quickly. Some of the questions that came in were quite serious, and others were a bit more silly. Also, I sang 3 songs. You can find links to the lyrics to those songs on the page for this episode on my website. There are some crap jokes and In terms of the other stuff it’s a mix of questions related to learning English, some fairly personal questions, slightly bizarre questions and some funny questions.

Anyway, I will let you discover it for yourself. If you haven’t seen the video and would like to, you’ll see the video embedded on the page for this episode on my website. Also you can see it on my YouTube channel (search for Luke’s English Podcast on YouTube – and subscribe / hit the bell icon to get notified if I do more live streams in the future).

If you watch it on my youtube channel you’ll be able to watch the live comment feed as well, so you can see the comments I was reading at the time. I might upload the video to the LEP App as well, but it’s a large file and so it would be a bit costly for me to do so (I get a certain amount of uploading data per month).

Anyway, enough rambling. I’ll now let you listen to the audio from the slightly chaotic but fun YouTube live stream from last Wednesday, 10 June 2020. I’ll speak to you a bit on the other side of this recording.

_____________

Song Lyrics & Chords

Walk On By (Dionne Warwick)
tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/dionne-warwick/walk-on-by-chords-848867

Piggy In The Middle (The Rutles)
genius.com/The-rutles-piggy-in-the-middle-lyrics

I’m Looking Through you (The Beatles)
genius.com/The-beatles-im-looking-through-you-lyrics

_____________

Ending Transcript

Again, to actually watch that video, go to my youtube channel. You’ll also find various other videos there, including last year’s YouTube live for episode 600, plus some videos of me recording a few other episodes from the archive, including a couple of episodes with Amber & Paul and more…

I had fun with this but, to be honest (and don’t tell YouTube) I still prefer doing normal audio episodes of the podcast. This is what I do. I make audio podcasts. I’ll do more YouTube stuff and live streams in the future, but I’m still going to focus my main energy on these audio episodes. I love doing audio content.

If you’re wondering when the next YouTube live will be. Honestly, I don’t know yet. I might even just randomly go live like I did the week before. 

Anyway, if I do another proper live stream I will let you know in advance.

Coming up on the podcast I have some more interview episodes, plus some more episodes with funny stuff like some comedy, plus some more specific content about learning English and plenty of other things.

Thank you to those of you who have sent me messages of encouragement on social media, on my website and by email. It’s great to get your messages, especially when they are basically first hand accounts of how regularly listening to my content has helped with your English. That’s really encouraging. I am always very happy to find out that people enjoy the podcast, but I am especially pleased when people tell me that it has made a genuine difference to their English. I actually find that I am becoming more and more convinced of the value of podcasting for people’s English, so that this is probably the most rewarding teaching experience I have – more rewarding than classroom teaching in many ways.

Anyway, the point is – thank you for your messages and I apologise if I haven’t got back to all of you.

Also, thank you sincerely for donations. You are keeping the project alive.

And thank you to my premium subscribers. I hope you’ve been enjoying the premium content, including P23 which I uploaded recently. I’ve had some great comments about the pronunciation drills in particular recently, proving to me that I am doing the right thing and so I will keep pushing on with that kind of content, so stay tuned for more premium content coming soon, with specific language teaching from me to you.

OK, enough rambling! Thank you for listening and for being a stakeholder in LEP.

Until next time, good bye bye bye bye bye!


658. [2/2] Why do Brits sing with American accents?

This is part 2 of a double episode exploring the question of why British people often change their accent when they sing. This episode contains more examples, including some (dodgy) singing from me in order to hear how it sounds when different songs are sung in different accents. Notes, lyrics and transcriptions available on the page below.

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Notes & Transcriptions

Introduction

Hello, welcome back to the podcast. I hope you’re doing ok out there in podcastland during this difficult period.

It’s necessary to say that isn’t it these days. You have to acknowledge the fact that everyone’s struggling, or you have to explain that things are perhaps not happening normally because of the coronavirus and there are various ways of saying it – both informal and formal, perhaps in a work email or something. I saw something on Twitter which made me laugh and I retweeted it. If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen that. My Twitter handle is @EnglishPodcast by the way. So the thing I saw on Twitter was just a little meme about how in normal English we say “because of the coronavirus” but in  formal writing (like in a work email) we have to dress that up in more fancy language, like “due to the ongoing situation regarding covid-19”.

So I hope that you are not having too much of a bad time because of the coronavirus, or perhaps I should say “I trust that you are managing to maintain your working routines effectively in the context of the current situation regarding covid-19.” 

This is episode 658 and it’s part 2 of a double episode. This is part 2. Don’t listen to this, until you’ve heard part 1. Seems obvious, doesn’t it, but I just want to make it clear. Part 1 contains loads of context and details which I think you should hear before listening to this.

In part 1 I started answering a question from a listener, and the question is “Why do British people sound American when they sing?” It’s actually a bit complicated. It’s all about the conventions of modern pop music which has its roots in the USA. But there are also plenty of examples of British singers singing in British accents. It’s a mix of language, identity, music and phonology. In part 1 I answer the question in some detail and also point out some features of what I’m calling the American Singing Accent, including things like the way certain words which I pronounce with diphthongs (that’s double vowel sounds) become ‘flattened’ to single long vowel sounds, like in the words I, find, time, mine in the line “I need to find my time to get what’s mine”.

So let’s continue and in this part, which is part 2 I’m going to continue to explore this whole area by singing some songs in different accents and by listening to some samples of music. I hope you enjoy it and find it interesting. Feel free to add your thoughts in the comment section or perhaps links to YouTube videos with other examples that you can think of – examples of British artists singing with American accents, or perhaps British artists singing with British accents, or artists from anywhere else for that matter, singing in any other accent. It’s not just British and American of course, there are so many other accents that you might hear in English language songs. Reggae music from Jamaica for example is usually sung with a Jamaican accent of course.

Anyway, let’s carry on with part 2 and here we go…


Singing songs in different accents

I want to experiment with this by singing some well-known songs in either an American accent (The American Singing Accent as defined above) or a British accent (again, which one? Probably my own standard British RP but also I might try some cockney or maybe Liverpool or something).

Brits singing with American accents

What happens when you sing certain American songs in a British accent (let’s be more specific, let’s say my British RP)

If you sing some songs in a British accent they usually sound weird and wrong. You might disagree, because you might have a soft spot for British accents (and in fact more recently there have been some very successful artists who seem to sing in British RP as a stylistic choice) but I think overall, most people would think it sounded wrong, like my previous example with “Shallow”.

My Girl by The Temptations

Tell the story (briefly) of someone who sang “My girl” at a party once. It was ridiculous.

I’m now going to sing the songs in their normal American voice, then in a British accent.

“My Girl, talking about, my girl!”

Lyrics: tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-temptations/my-girl-chords-86366

Take it Easy by Eagles

Eagles’ “Take it Easy” in a British accent (especially the 2nd verse)

Lyrics: tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/eagles/take-it-easy-chords-14322

Hit me Baby One More Time by Britney Spears

Lyrics: tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/britney-spears/baby-one-more-time-chords-279810

Under The Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers

Lyrics: tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/red-hot-chili-peppers/under-the-bridge-chords-44981

Songs by British artists sung in an American accent

I could pick almost any song by a British pop artist and the chances are that it’ll be sung in an American singing accent.

Whole Lotta Love by Led Zeppelin

We Are the Champions by Queen

Weirdly, Freddie seems to drift from an English sounding voice in the verse to an American one in the chorus. Listen to how he sings “time” (Time after time) in the verse and then “time” in the chorus (No time for losers).

This is so tricky! The accents seem to drift around while people sing.

Ultimately, I think this shows that when people sing they change their voice to suit the music. Freddie Mercury wasn’t just a rock singer, he was also quite operatic and theatrical and I think he probably chose to sing in different ways depending on the feeling he was choosing, including some bits where he sings with a more English sounding voice and some bits where he’s in full-on rock mode and sounds American.

British bands/singers singing with British accents

Let’s consider some songs which are clearly sung in British accents, or moments where British accents are more obvious. 

There will be billions of examples of great British bands who sing in British accents. Here are some ones which I can think of right now.

The Beatles

They’re a difficult case because it’s quite hard to tell when they’re singing with American accents, when they’re singing with Liverpool accents but there are definitely times when their Liverpool accents came through.

It seems to me that their accents became a bit more English as they went on because in the early days they were (to an extent) imitating American artists they loved like Elvis, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Chuck Berry & so on (especially when doing cover versions like “Long Tall Sally” (“Oh baby, some fun tonight”) and “Twist & Shout” (“And let me know that you’re mine”).

But later as they wrote more of their own music and became more original, their own accents came in. They also used to make a point of singing in a Liverpool accent sometimes.

Penny Lane by The Beatles

“In Penny Lane the barber shaves another customer” 2:00

Lennon singing Polythene Pam (intentionally putting on a strong Scouse accent)

John Lennon – Norwegian Wood “I once had a girl” – the “I” is rounded like Lennon would say it.

Paul McCartney – I’m Looking Through You

Paul McCartney’s English accent is quite recognisable in “I’m Looking Through You”
“I thought I knew you… what did I know?”
“Why tell me why did you not treat me right?”

Although some bits still sound a bit American – “You’re naaat the same”

Steve Earle – I’m Looking Through You

But when US country singer Steve Earle did a cover version of it, he did it in a Southern sounding American accent.

“Aaah thought aaah knew yewwww whut did aaaaah know?”
“Yurrr voice eis soootheuyin , but the wrrrrrds arrrrnt clearrrr”
“Whaaaaa tell me whaaa did you naaat treat me right?”

The Smiths – Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now

“Why do I give valuable time” –all with rounded diphthongs

The Undertones – My Perfect Cousin

The Undertones were from Northern Ireland and you could hear it in some of their songs, like this one.

“He’s sure to go to heaven”
“He thinks that I’m a cabbage because I hate university challenge”

A lot of Britpop bands sang with British accents, because it was Britpop. BRITpop, you see.

Blur – Parklife (they were making a point of singing in a British accent)

There are billions of other examples, I’m sure.

But it’s weird and not black and white.

It’s not like all punk bands or all Britpop bands sang with their local accents. Sometimes they did, sometimes it was definitely American.

There’s no escaping that rock & roll is basically American.

Singing in an American accent when it should be British, and people get annoyed

Alesha Dixon sings the national anthem in a “soul” voice. Basically, she sang the word “god” in an American accent, which pissed off the Daily Mail readers.

She got quite harshly criticised for this. She said she did it on purpose because it was a “soul” version of the anthem. Naturally a lot of Brits were triggered by this.

What’s the conclusion?

  • Singing is different to speaking.
  • Accents change to suit the music and the social rules are a bit different when people sing.
  • Singing is a more open and free form of expression than speaking. Our accent when we speak is completely tied to our identity. But when we sing it’s more tied to the feeling we are trying to create or express.
  • Some types of music or some songs just have to be sung in an American accent and it’s usually not a big deal.
  • Some artists sing with British accents because they are expressing something uniquely British, like a folk singer such as Billy Bragg or a rapper like Stormzy.
  • It’s also interesting to note that a lot of non-native speakers of English can sing in a native-like accent, but when they speak English it’s not the same story.

    For example: Paul Taylor’s bit about his wife saying “Hello how are you?” –> His wife can sing “Hello” when she’s singing along with Adele’s song but when she has to say it, she says “‘ello ‘ow ‘are you?”

Leave your comments, thoughts and video suggestions below