My friend Emina Tuzovic has learned English to a proficient level as a non-native speaker of the language. She says it has been “a long journey”. Let’s find out all about that journey of English learning in this conversation, recorded in London just a couple of days ago.
Today on the podcast I am talking to my friend Emina Tuzovic, who is an English teacher.
For ages and ages I have been meaning to have Emina on this podcast for 3 main reasons:
1. Emina is absolutely lovely and it’s just nice to spend time talking with her, plus there’s plenty I’d like to find out from her that I’ve never really asked her before. That’s a benefit of the podcast, it gives me a chance to have in-depth conversations that often just don’t happen otherwise.
2. She is a non-native speaker of English who has learned the language to a proficient level – good enough to do a masters, a PhD, and to teach English at a very high level, to deliver workshops and seminars and just to live in the UK for a good length of time. So, she must have some valuable insights and experiences about learning English because she’s done it herself, but also about the cultural experience of moving to London and living there for what must be about 15 years at least I think.
3. She is a very well-qualified and experienced English teacher and so I am sure she has loads of insights into learning English from that point of view too, including certain areas of specialist knowledge as a result of her academic studies, including things like the challenges faced by native speakers of Arabic when they learn English. I’ve never talked about Arabic speakers of English on the podcast, so hello to all my Arabic speaking listeners (or should that be marhabaan.
As I said, it’s been quite hard to pin Emina down and interview her – mainly because our timetables are different, I live in Paris, she lives in London and she goes to bed so early in the evening. Thankfully the universe has finally allowed it to happen, here at the London School of English in Holland Park, London. This is where I used to work and where Emina still does work.
So the aim here is to have a long(ish) and natural conversation with Emina, touching on topics like learning English, cultural differences in the UK, teaching English and her academic studies in linguistics.
Rambling about my birthday… My daughter is a toddler now. She toddles around.
Thank you so much for the lovely birthday messages that you sent to me.
I’d like to give a shout out to students in my class today who surprised me with presents, delicious cake and champagne – at 10.30 this morning!
We all drank champagne during the class, in the morning. It seems that champagne is the only alcohol that you can drink in the morning and it’s acceptable. You can’t really drink whiskey, wine, beer, vodka (although I’m sure in some places that a breakfast drink) – where I’m from, it’s not acceptable to drink those things in the morning and if you do you’re an alcoholic, but champagne – go for it!
It was pretty interesting for me to teach English after having drunk champagne, which was great.
Anyway, I am another year older, which I am fine with as I said in a recent episode.
But that brings me to this episode, which is a conversation with one of the pod-pals, Paul Taylor, and the conversation is all about growing up, getting older and becoming a father.
As you will know if you heard the previous episode, Paul is about to become a Dad for the first time. His wife is pregnant and the due date is at the end of June. Congrats to the two of them, on behalf of all the LEPsters! It’s a girl. Hopefully she’ll grow up to be friends with my daughter and the other kids from our circle of friends. We don’t know what the name will be yet. We’re all hoping that the rest of the pregnancy goes well, and the birth too.
Having a child can be a bit of a turning point in your life. I don’t know if you have children.
So, in this conversation Paul and I get a bit deep & meaningful and talk about where Paul is in his life at this point, including our thoughts about becoming a father, getting older and growing up.
All I have by way of an introduction at this stage, are some questions for you to consider in order to prepare you a bit for what you’re going to hear.
Questions to consider before you listen to the conversation
As you get older, does your perception of other people change?
For example, if you see a group of 18 year olds, how do you feel?
If you see people who are in their retirement, elderly people, how do you feel?
How do you feel about the passage of time and getting older?
How does life change as you move from being a teenager into a young adult and then into being middle-aged and retirement age and old age?
What do you think of the way society views old people? Are they looked after, represented or respected fully in your society?
What about having children? Does it change your life? How? Is it a change for the better? In what ways?
What about your lifestyle?
Are you good at looking after yourself?
Do you keep yourself fit and do enough exercise? If not, why not?
Have you managed to find a sport or exercise routine that suits you and that you enjoy?
How about your diet and eating habits? Do you manage your diet well? Do you make sure you’re staying healthy and eating the right things?
Do you manage to get enough stuff done in your average day?
What’s your daily routine? Could you improve it in any way? How much discipline do you have in your life?
How motivated and disciplined are you about doing things that don’t bring you instant results?
Do you think you need to change your lifestyle as you get older? Is that an easy thing to do?
What influence did your parents have on your life? Do you ever judge the way your parents brought you up?
Do you ever compare yourself to your parents? Do you ever feel like you can’t live up to their expectations or the example they set for you?
Were either of your parents often not there when you were growing up? Maybe one of them or both of them worked a lot and wasn’t always there. How do you feel about that?
At what age do people leave home and become independent, in your country?
What kind of time should you spend with your child? Should you always be there, or is it ok to be absent sometimes as long as you are working hard and making money to help support them?
If you have kids or are planning to have kids, what kind of example should you show to your children? What aspects of your personality do you want them to inherit from you? Which aspects would you rather they didn’t learn?
Do you need to say “yes” more in your life? Or do you need to learn how to say “no” more?
As you get older do you feel that you are becoming more open-minded, or less open-minded? Are you still happy to meet and get to know new people and see new places in your life as you get older?
And, is Paul ready to be a Dad? Is he looking forward to it? Is he in the right stage of his life for parenthood?
These are the sorts of questions we are talking about in this episode.
So without any further ado, here is my conversation with Paul.
Congrats again to Paul and his wife Adi. Best of luck for the birth. We’re all looking forward to meeting the new Taylor when she arrives.
You heard us mention a book there.
“Yes Man” by Danny Wallace – a great, interesting and funny book written in modern plain English.
I know my listeners are always interested in finding new books to read. This one was very popular when it came out and I think it is not too difficult to read and should be full of the right kind of English. Everyday English in a plain and modern style.
There is an audiobook version which you might want to listen to. It’s available on Audible.
That’s almost it.
Podcast News / Admin
I have two more free episodes to publish before things go a bit quiet while I work on premium content.
Those next two episodes are also conversations with guests. Earlier this week I spoke to Oliver Gee, the Australian journalist and he told me lots of interesting stories about things like the recent fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral, meeting some famous people while working as a journalist and also his experiences of learning Swedish and French.
And the other conversation hasn’t been recorded yet, but it’s going to be with my Dad. We’re going to talk on Monday next week and the idea is to somehow describe the recent situation in UK politics and some other things like a recent conference that my Dad moderated about climate change, and hopefully we’ll have time to talk a bit more about football, because my Dad follows UK football very closely. That one isn’t recorded yet, but if all goes according to plan I’ll do the recording next week and publish it quickly afterwards, then the Oliver Gee episode should go up.
After that – things will go quiet for a while and there will be no free episodes probably for a couple of weeks, but I will be working hard on new premium content which should arrive steadily during that period.
Don’t forget also that Paul’s live 1hr stand up show is now available on YouTube. Search for Paul Taylor Franglais. The bits which are in French have English subtitles. It’s about 50% English and 50% French. You can check out Paul’s excellent French skills. It’s impressive.
Episode 600 – YouTube Live Stream – I’ve chosen a date and time!!
It’s going to be Friday 7 June at 3pm CET (Paris time)
6AM on the west coast of the USA
9AM in New York
8AM in Mexico City
10AM in Rio, Brazil
2PM in London
4pm in Moscow
4pm in Ankara, Turkey
6.30pm in New Delhi
9pm in Shanghai
10pm in Tokyo
11pm in Sydney
1AM on the Saturday morning in Auckland, NZ
If it’s not at the perfect time for you, then I am sorry! There’s not much I can do about that I’m afraid. Whatever time I do it, there will be some people who won’t be able to attend.
Also, this is just when I’m free!
I will be announcing this again on the podcast, but here it is – 3PM Paris time on Friday 7 June.
I’ll also create a YouTube link for the live stream which I’ll share on my website and on social media. That’s how you’ll access the live stream.
An unedited ramble about motivation for language learning, dealing with challenges, getting started on a task, getting work done and my process for making episodes of the podcast. There’s also some news, some OPP and a couple of songs on the guitar at the end. Vocabulary notes, links, videos and song lyrics are available below.
Let’s get this show on the road.
Let’s get started.
Let’s get this whole thing underway.
Things I’m saying to myself to get myself going.
I’m on my feet in order to try and get the energy going.
It helps me toget into the right mood.
I’ve been sitting here messing around for ages.
I’ve been fiddling around. Plugging and unplugging (microphones)
Lots of messing around, farting about and faffing around.
You become very productive and you’re in the zone.
Sometimes you’re not in the right frame of mind and it feels like everything’s a bit of a struggle.
Once I get going it’s fine, but there are some days when I find myself unable to begin the episode..
Attempting to follow my own train of thought while talking.
You can probably hear handling noise (the noise of handling the microphone).
“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” ~ Nelson Mandela
Anything can seem impossible and that includes personal challenges (like recording a podcast in the window of time that I’ve got) that we have to face as individuals, and global challenges that we all face together.
“I can’t handle this. I can’t do it. It’s too overwhelming. There’s no way I can do it.”
Sometimes it seems a bit impossible, at the beginning of an episode.
I want episodes to be fun, engaging to listen to, relevant, personal, motivating, useful, natural and funny. (fun vs funny?)
What is the world coming to? I don’t know.
Fun = enjoyable (like a theme park) Funny = it makes you laugh (like a great comedy show)
It always seems impossible until it’s done.
Sometimes it’s dead easy. I have loads of ideas just waiting to come out and I can’t wait to switch on the record button and get started. (switch on the recording device and then press the record button)
With Amber & Paul I sometimes have to abandon the stuff I’ve planned and just go with the flow.
Other times it seems like having to climb a mini mountain and I feel like I just can’t do it that particular day. Getting started is the most difficult part.
Sometimes, when I’m doing the podcast, I start, get something slightly wrong or go off on a weird tangent, getting away from the main point of the episode and I stop the recording and start again. That can happen over and over!
It’s a bit of a catch 22 situation. I want it to be natural and not over-prepared, but I also want to be disciplined and to get to the point quite quickly. It’s a weird balance between being prepared and being spontaneous and sometimes it’s a bit difficult to walk that line.
But that’s just me. I think anyone attempting to do anything will feel the same. It also applies to learning a language. The challenge can feel a bit overwhelming but we know that it always seems impossible until it’s done.
Hopefully this can give you some motivation.
OPP: The Joe Rogan Experience
I was listening to the Joe Rogan Podcast (The Joe Rogan Experience) http://podcasts.joerogan.net/
Last week Joe Rogan interviewed Eddie Izzard. He’s a stand up comedy hero of mine.
Eddie Izzard’s unbelievable marathon running
Eddie Izzard ran 43 marathons in 51 days! (in 2012 in the UK)
Then (a few years later) he ran 27 marathons in 27 days (including 2 marathons in one day on the final day) in South Africa.
He did it all for charity and to commemorate the life of Nelson Mandela.
It’s a stunning achievement and almost unbelievable really.
43 marathons in 51 days 27 marathons in 27 days
Eddie Izzard must have felt so daunted before doing his 27 marathons.
The whole thing is mind over matter, being determined and not giving up.
I think it’s a mental battle. The best thing is to just get your head down and get moving, get a rhythm going and just don’t stop!
Keep going, keep going, keep going, and eventually it will be done and it won’t seem so impossible any more, because you will have done it.
Comments from Listeners on teacherluke.co.uk
Some comments with interesting and motivating things to say about learning English
Farshid One of the most important things that learning the English language teaches you is you’ll learn to have to carry on without getting any outcomes for a long time, literally working but getting nothing. That does require you to be tremendously patient, that’s a skill that you’ll develop overtime by learning English.
Sometimes you don’t notice your progress until a certain specific moment, then you realise that the work you’ve put in, or should I say the time (because it shouldn’t feel like work) has paid off.
Marta Hi Luke, I just wanted to stop by to leave a short message – I was at a concert yesterday (British singer Passenger), it was amazing and you know what? He talked quite a lot between the songs and I was able to understand 99 % of what he was saying. Those are such special moments when I’m so very much thankful for discovering your podcast because this is definitely one of the rewards. Thanks!!
All that time listening to the podcast has paid off.
Agnes Hi Luke, I just want to share my accomplishment with you that I got C1 in CAE Cambridge Exam which I took at the beginning of April :-) I want to thank you for appealing episodes keeping me motivated and hooked on English every single day :-) Obviously, I don’t want to stop doing my daily learning routine. Even though I’ve passed this exam, I treat it as a start into deep advanced side of the language, I’m totally hooked which means that English is my life! I feel terribly bad when I miss one day without English. I’m really proud of myself because I have only been learning on my own, without classrooms, courses etc. As I always say my learning process is based on listening and undoubtedly that made me person who loves learning as a whole. Once again, thank you, because of you I love British English :-) best Agnes
OPP: Other People’s Podcasts
English TVLive Podcast
I was interviewed by Jacob Teacher on the English TVLive Podcast.
Jacob featured me in an episode of his Advanced Vocabulary series
You can listen to it here.
I got various comments about Schleswig-Holstein, including one from Cat.
I said, quickly, that it was a city near the German/Danish border.
It’s not a city.
I hate getting anything wrong!
It is in fact the northernmost state of Germany – a whole area, a bit like an English county.
It’s really large (similar in size to Northern Ireland) and is a historic place and geographically interesting. It’s northern border is the border between Germany and Denmark. To the west it has a coastline on the North Sea and to the east a coastline on the Baltic sea.
I’ve never explored that area of the world (which is no excuse for not knowing about it) but I would really like to go there and visit.
This episode is unedited. I’ve decided to publish it as it is, warts and all.
2 Songs on guitar
If you don’t like music, you can check out now. (Check out here means to leave, like when you check out of a hotel)