Category Archives: Movies

639. 3 Quintessentially British Books (that you might not know about) with Mum

Talking to my mum about some examples of quintessentially British things, in this case it’s 3 British books that she particularly likes.

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Introduction

Hello folks! Here is the last of this 3 part series I’ve been doing about quintessentially British things. I’m assuming now that you’ve heard the previous parts of this series and you know what this is all about.

If you haven’t heard those yet, may I gently suggest that you listen to them first? There’s one with my brother and then one with my dad too.

Now it’s my mum’s turn and since she is such a bookworm – she works in a bookshop, is a member of a book club and is a voracious reader, the three things she has chosen are all novels – books about British characters going through typically British experiences, mostly in the early part of the 20th century.

So if you’re looking for some interesting books to read in English, check out these ones which are some of my mum’s favourites.

Have a look at the page for this episode on the website where you will find the names of all the books we mention plus some other references and bits & pieces.

Remember you can sign up to my mailing list on my website to receive an email notification whenever I release a new episode, and that contains a link which will take you straight to the relevant page for that episode.

Now, without any further ado let me allow you to enjoy the nice tones of my mum’s voice as she talks to you about her quintessentially British things.


Book 1

J.L. Carr “A Month in the Country

Book 2

R. F. Delderfield “To Serve Them All My Days

Book 3

R.C. Sheriff “The Fortnight in September

Also mentioned

  • Withnail & I
  • Journey’s End by R.C. Sheriff
  • The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sheriff

The previous episode with my mum about books.

The Withnail & I episode


Ending

So that was my mum and her three books. Let me say the titles again. There was “A Month in the Country” by J.L. Carr, “To Serve Them All My Days” by R. F. Delderfield and ““The Forgnight in September” by R.C. Sheriff.

It’s sort of a funny coincidence that all the writers of these books have initials at the start – J.L. Carr, R.F. Delderfield, R.C. Sheriff.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed listening to that and that you learnt a thing or two about the effects of the world wars on British people, and also that you might consider reading one of those novels yourself.

What do you think of my mum talking about books on this podcast? We did several episodes before together in which we talked a bit about books.

There was episode 488 teacherluke.co.uk/2017/10/26/488-a-rambling-conversation-with-mum-part-1-vocabulary/

And 489 teacherluke.co.uk/2017/10/30/489-a-rambling-conversation-with-mum-part-2-vocabulary/

Both of which dealt with things like my mum’s favourite podcast, some favourite people and different books she’s been reading.

What would you think of a fairly regular podcast series with my mum in which she talks about books she’s read. It could be called Mum’s Book Club. If you like the sound of that, let me know. I might be able to make it a regular feature, a bit like The Rick Thompson Report (and yes I need to make new one of them).

So would you like to hear more episodes of Mum’s Book Club? If so, let me know.

But that’s it for this episode. What did you think, overall, of this series? Did you learn anything about the UK? Did you get some good recommendations? Did you enjoy listening to my family? Let me know in the comment section.

I’ll speak to you again soon. Don’t forget to download the LEP App from the app store to get loads of bonus episodes, and consider signing up to my premium service to get regular monthly grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation lessons. Find out more at teacherluke.co.uk/premium

But for now, all that remains to be said is, good bye!

636. James & Luke Discuss Star Wars IX (SPOILERS) Final Star Wars Episode Ever?

James and Luke ramble about Star Wars IX one more time. This episode is full of little jokes, sketches, voices and full spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the podcast. Here is one more episode of film club dedicated to the ridiculous new Star Wars film – The Rise of Skywalker, which my brother James and I recently enjoyed watching at a cinema in Birmingham. 

This is a mammoth holiday season megaramble with James about Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker. 

Of course, if the Star Wars films don’t interest you then this might not be your cup of tea and I totally understand. 

Normal podcasting will be resumed shortly I promise. I have at least 3 other episodes in the pipeline that I recorded with members of my family this Christmas. I’m sticking this Star Wars one online now to be followed by plenty of other normal episodes afterwards and the usual audio and video content for premium subscribers. 

But for those of you who have seen The Rise of Skywalker and would like to listen to a funny conversation with my brother, as we have a beer and go through the plot of the film, with plenty of little jokes, criticisms and details we liked. If you’re up for it, I think you’ll enjoy this one, with a few potential “laugh out loud on the bus” moments.

Of course there will be full spoilers throughout this episode as we talk about all the details of the plot. So, watch out if you haven’t yet seen the film. 

Big Star Wars Questions

So we talk about the film’s plot and make all the comments we have about what happens,  but we also talk about some big Star Wars questions which this film raises, like:

  • Is Luke Skywalker a virgin?
  • Who would actually consent to have sex with Emperor Palpatine, and when did that happen?
  • What happens when a force-sensitive Jedi has an orgasm? Could it be a dangerous moment, and is that why the Jedi follow a strict code of celibacy?
  • Why is everything in the Star Wars universe made of such highly explosive material?
  • Can droids hack into anything? Where’s the cyber security in this universe?
  • Why does a fat pilot die in a space battle at the end of every film?
  • If “the force will be with you, always”, why do they also have to say “may the force be with you”?

Also I should point out that there is some swearing in this episode and some generally rude language at times, so you might want to bear that in mind if you’re listening to this with children or the swearing intolerant.

So, those of you who are still here, I assume you’d like to listen to us rambling on about this final Star Wars episode.

This might be the final star wars episode ever on this podcast, certainly for a while. But I might want to talk about The Mandalorian when it’s available where I live.

Part of me thinks it is a bit excessive to upload even more content about Star Wars but I actually think this conversation is much better than episode 633 which was my immediate reaction to seeing the film. Frustratingly, in that episode I struggled to talk articulately about it because I couldn’t remember the complex details of the plot! I’m afraid you may have listened to me umming and aahing as I went through the plot. 

I also missed a few points and generally struggled to be coherent about this film, partly because the film itself isn’t very coherent. 

But this conversation with James is worth a listen in my opinion. Star Wars can be quite a funny topic, with plenty of opportunities for voices, sketches and jokes. We recorded it in my dad’s office in the evening a few days after Christmas. It’s a long conversation, but I reckon it’s worth a listen. 

I would say, if I was learning a language, say French.

I would say that I would like to listen to a couple of people discussing The Rise of Skywalker in French, while defining little phrases and other points as they went along. That would be right up my street and would definitely be a good way to do some focused listening and language study. If only that podcast existed out there for French learners. Why is nobody doing that? Hey French LEPsters – where’s Le Podcast Francais de Jean-Pierre?

Anyway, hopefully this final star wars episode will be a step up from the last one and a genuinely enjoyable and useful thing for you to listen to. 

Oh, and Happy New Year.

______________

Ending

So there you go! Congratulations for listening all the way to the end of this. If you like this sort of thing – reviewing movies with some fun along the way, you might like my review of Avengers: Endgame which you can find in the LEP App in the app-only episodes category.

Apologies again for James’ sneezing and blowing of his nose but I think we can let him off because he has such bad allergies. I should say thanks again to James for taking part in this episode. I should do and I might. In fact I will. Thanks to James for this episode, to Dad for letting us use his office, for the local Sainsbury’s for providing us with some local beer for the recording.

But that’s almost it for this episode.

Next up on the podcast we have a few more episodes featuring members of my family. I’ll be speaking to James again, then my dad and then my mum. They’re all getting their own episodes. The theme of this little series is going to be “Quintessentially British Things” and I asked everyone to think of a few things that they thought were typically British or that they liked about the UK. So prepare for some chat about things like pop culture, literature, theatre, TV shows, British landscapes, places and history. They’re good episodes and I expect you’ll enjoy them very much.

But for now, it’s just time to say goodbye…

632. Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker (No Spoilers!)

A new Film Club episode in which Luke rambles about Star Wars IX, including various speculations and theories. NO SPOILERS. Transcript/Notes available.

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Transcript / Notes

Star Wars thoughts…

This is a Film Club episode about Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker. It contains no spoilers for the film beyond what has been revealed in the trailers already.

So, no spoilers – it’s just going to be my speculation about what’s going to happen in the film.

If you’re interested in the new Star Wars film I hope you can enjoy listening to this before seeing the film. I’ll be doing another one after having seen the film and that will contain all the spoilers.

I’m going to see Star Wars 9 tomorrow. Creche is open. It’s on. (not at the creche)

Talking about Star Wars has become something of a tradition on this podcast now. I’ve done numerous film club episodes about it on this podcast. Everyone should know that I am somehow invested in this series and this goes right back to childhood when I was quite obsessed with it, had the toys, believed I was Luke Skywalker and everything and this continued as I grew up. At university I used to sit around with my friends and speculate about Star Wars.

I saw the prequel trilogy from 1999 to 2005 and didn’t really like it. There are some good moments, but it wasn’t really my cup of tea overall.

Now we have the new Disney produced films and overall I’ve been enjoying them a lot. I think they’ve got the tone just about right. There have been some films which were like big Star Wars sand pit games like Rogue One and there have been the weird, unexpected moments in The Last Jedi.

I’ve done episodes about the original films and all the new releases. They’re all there in the episode archive.

It’s become something of a tradition on LEP to talk about Star Wars at Christmas. In fact this is now the 4th Star Wars film we’ve had at Christmas time and also the 4th time I’m talking about it on the podcast at Christmas.

By the way – yesterday I uploaded the annual Christmas episode of LEP. It’s all about awful jokes you might find in a Christmas cracker. Check it out for laughs, some groans and a nice review of Christmas vocabulary. Also I’ve been uploading some premium videos and more premium stuff coming later this week.

So don’t miss the Christmas Jokes episode. I’m concerned that because I uploaded it just yesterday and I’m now uploading another one, that you’ll miss number 631. So, don’t miss it!

So back to Star Wars. I know that for some of you Star Wars is not your cup of tea, in that case this episode might not be for you.

Also if you’re not a fan of the rambling style episodes this also might not be for you.

So, now I expect I’ve got people listening who are interested in the new Star Wars film and want to listen to me talk about it in a rambly kind of way. OK, let’s go.

I’m excited to see the new film. It’s always fun to see new Star Wars, especially if big things are going to happen, and they definitely are going to happen in this new episode.

But I am also prepared for disappointment. It’s Star Wars for goodness sake, there’s bound to be some kind of disappointment and it’s the culmination of the whole 9 part series. The trilogy of trilogies is going to conclude with this episode. No pressure! I wonder how JJ Abrams is going to deal with this.

Chris Terrio???

A quick look back at the last few films

Episode 7
It was pretty good. Right tone. Some nostalgia value. Felt like old Star Wars again.
Criticisms: It was too derivative of episode 4. Rey’s character is overpowered.

Rogue One was also pretty good but was criticised for too much fan service.

Apparently we wanted something where different things happen, and not too much fan service.

The result was Episode 8 The Last Jedi which was all about subverting expectations and changing the rules. Luke is a washed up hermit who has lost his faith. The Jedi are considered a failed project, responsible for the creation of the Sith. I think it’s pretty cool! I liked how it subverted expectations. I enjoyed not knowing what would happen next.

But it took the series in a weird direction and now JJ has to kind of land the plane.

I feel like the hype leading up to this film has been a bit muted. Is it just me, or is that true?

Answers vs mystery

JJ Abrams is good at the mystery
Episode 7 was quite good for that.
They came up with more questions than answers.
Many fan theories.
Everyone was looking for answers in ep 8 and instead it was all about subverting expectations.

But in this JJ has to provide some answers and I think we’ll get most of them.

  • Who is Rey?
  • Who was Snoke?
  • Why did Kylo turn to the dark side?
  • What did Rey’s cave scene mean?

We’ll probably get answers to those things, more or less.

So it’s going to be exciting to get some big conclusions, hopefully. But of course there’s always the potential for the answers to be disappointing.

But maybe we’ll get some mystery too. And I think mystery and open ended ness and less is more, is what SW is all about when it’s good. OT was more about mystery and PT was more about answers. You knew what would happen next.

This trilogy is still interesting to me but it all rides on this episode.

There’s a lot of pressure on this one to bring it back to classic Star Wars but also to kind of provide answers.

Anakin will probably return with the prequel actor. We might see him as a force ghost.

Maybe we’ll get Yoda. We will definitely get Luke. We might get Anakin and also Obi Wan and quignon. They really should. Possibly even Mace Windu.

Maybe Anakin is the Skywalker in the title. They did say they’d bring the whole saga to an end. How could Anakin not be part of it?

Snoke we know is probably a fake person created by the Emperor. In the clip Palpatine says he created all the voices in Kylo’s head including Vader and Snoke. Maybe Snoke was just some kind of creation of Palpatine.

I bet Palpatine in the film calls to Kylo and brings him to a certain place and reveals himself. But will kylo go with him? And how do the others find that place??

Who is Rey? Maybe she is related to someone. Maybe she is nobody.

The cave scene in ep 8 / Is Rey a clone?

Or is it something about how her future is written. Destiny. But what is her destiny?

It would be odd if the force cave was just saying, “you have a destiny”.
What does it mean? Weirdest scene ever.

They must be planning a big reveal though, more than just the return of Palpatine which is basically confirmed. There will be another big reveal because we haven’t had one yet. Kylo REN was revealed as Han and Leia’s son right at the start and we’ve had nothing about Rey.

In the cave she knows that what she will see in the mirror is the answer she’s looking for.

We see two shadows come together to become one person who is revealed to be Rey. So she sees herself in the mirror. This could also mean she’s a clone.

Clones featured heavily in the prequel trilogy and Abrams has said that this film will tie together the whole narrative. There may be elements from the prequels in here.

Clones might be back.

Maybe Rey is a clone. Dark Rey – is that a cloned Rey or a vision?

Palpetine might have cloned himself somehow.

Maybe palpatine cloned someone else, like Anakin.

I’m really clutching at straws here.

Is the Star Wars story broken?

Not at all. Lots of loose ends.

So Rey has become all trained up and awesome, maybe with the help of force ghosts.

Kylo is now in charge of the first order and is full in dark side mode. Maybe he’s being haunted by Luke. Maybe Luke will turn him good.

I think the Emperor has called out to him somehow. Maybe he’s using Vader’s helmet and making him think he’s talking to Vader.

He still knows he has a connection with Rey. Maybe they style Skype sometimes.

Finn and Poe – god knows. Maybe they have a mission to collect some artefact.

The resistance has grown after people around the galaxy have joined including Lando.

But I have no idea what’s going to happen!

An Avengers Endgame style ending with all Jedi and with doing battle somehow.

I haven’t seen The Mandalorian yet but I’m looking forward to it. I’ve seen the Baby Yoda memes around but to be honest I don’t know what it is yet. I think Disney+ is coming to France in March or something.

I’ll probably do a full spoiler review of the film on Wednesday after I’ve seen it. I might also go to see it again with my brother and my dad and we might get the chance to talk about it too, but that might be a bit too much Star Wars chat. It could just go into the app or something, for those who want to get it.

Full spoiler review coming tomorrow…

627. Emina’s Long Journey to English Proficiency

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.

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Introduction

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.

622. General Ramble (Oct 2019) Learning English / Politics / Recording Setup / Book Recommendation / Beatles / Star Wars / Bill Bailey

Rambling on my own about all sorts of things including Brexit news, describing my recording setup and microphones, a book recommendation for you, comments about the Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary, the latest Star Wars Episode 9 trailer and Bill Bailey dissecting music in a brilliant way.

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Episode Notes & Videos

Rick Thompson Report/Politics

🤷‍♂️

My Recording Setup

A Shure SM57 into a CL1 Cloudlifter then into a Behringer Q502 and then into the Zoom H5.

Book Recommendation

One Train Later by Andy Summers

The Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary

Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker

Episode 9 Trailer

RedLetterMedia predict the plot of Star Wars 9

Bill Bailey & Music

590. [2/2] Film Club: Avengers Endgame / Marvel Cinematic Universe (with Fred Eyangoh)

Here’s part 2 of this film club episode, including the rest of my chat with Fred Eyangoh and then a monologue from me. This one contains predictions for Avengers Endgame, the future of Marvel Studios and some other film franchises including Star Wars. No spoilers given! Notes, scripts and videos available.

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Introduction

Here is part 2 of this film club episode about Avengers Endgame, which is hitting the cinemas this week.

You should listen to part 1 of this first, obviously, because that is how numbers work.

I am a fan of these films and so I like talking about them and listening to other people talk about them. I hope that is also true for you. Hopefully if you’re into this stuff, it’ll provide you with some engaging audio content in English to help you get that all-important listening practice into your weekly routine.

In this episode you’re going to hear the rest of my conversation with Fred and then some rambling from me about things like fan theories and predictions for Avengers Endgame. We still haven’t seen Avengers Endgame (I’m seeing it later this afternoon) so this episode contains no spoilers for the film.

In this part of the conversation you’ll hear Fred and me talking about these things:

  • A quick re-cap of Thanos’ plan from Avengers: Infinity War
  • Some predictions for Avengers Endgame and the future of the franchise
  • The conversation then turns to Star Wars, and our responses to Star Wars Episode VIII vs fan responses on YouTube, what we liked about it, what wasn’t so good about it
  • The new trailer for Star Wars Episode IX and our thoughts about the future of the Star Wars franchise

This part of the conversation lasts about 30 minutes, and after that, as I said before, I’m going to keep rambling on my own about some things we missed.

As ever, check the page for this episode on my website teacherluke.co.uk for some scripts, notes and videos.

Right, so let’s jump back into my conversation with Fred, and here we go.


Luke & Fred continue talking for about 30 minutes…


Luke’s ending monologue at the end (‘monologue’ makes it sound serious and important)

Fan theories and various other ramblings about the characters

I take the theories with pinch of salt. Like Fred was saying, I like to go into a film with no expectations but with the intention to enjoy it. But nevertheless I do quite enjoy considering the possibilities and I quite like feeding my curiosity about what might happen next. So, let me go through some of those fan theories now and also share a few other thoughts, before I go off to the cinema later this afternoon with my friend to see Avengers Endgame.

Basically it seems that in Endgame the Avengers and other remaining characters…

The “Thanus” theory (just a stupid joke, but pretty amusing if you like that kind of thing!)

Couldn’t Ant Man crawl into Thanos’ ear or the pores in his skin?

There are tons of jokes, memes and Reddit threads about Ant Man killing Thanos by shrinking down to a tiny size, crawling into Thanos’ ear (or perhaps another orifice – yes, it’s his anus) and then expanding instantly – killing Thanos in the process.

Someone else wearing the infinity gauntlet (Nebula like in the comics? Tony in a special infinity suit, Captain America who will die while doing it, Hulk).

Loki isn’t dead (he stabbed Thanos with his left hand – somehow this is significant)

Potential deaths of characters / The main characters (still alive) one by one

Characters might get killed off in order to give closure to certain character arcs, to add drama and emotional punch to the story and also because some of the actors’ contracts are expiring.

I’m now going to talk about some of the main characters, what might happen with them and whether they will die in the film.

Captain America / Steve Rogers

I hope none of them die, but I can imagine that Captain America will die, just because it fits in with certain themes in his narrative. He’s willing to sacrifice himself for others (when he jumps on the grenade in his first film) and he keeps saving other characters who try to sacrifice themselves by saying “We don’t trade lives”. I think that despite saying this, he might trade his own life somehow, probably to save everyone. But I’d like to think he doesn’t die. Instead I think it would be sweet it there was a way for him to go back in time to be with the love of his life, Peggy Carter.

Iron Man / Tony Stark

Maybe Tony will die, but that would be really tragic because he has always been trying to give up the Iron Man armour in order to be with his sweetheart, Pepper Potts and in Infinity War they talked about the idea of getting married and having children. I have a feeling that Tony will just retire to be with Pepper and they’ll get married at the end of the film.

Also, Tony seems important because Dr Strange asked Thanos to spare his life in return for the time stone, saying it was the only way.

Thor

I don’t think Thor will die because he’s too powerful and they’re talking about making a Thor 4 in a few years. Thor had an amazing arc in IW and a brilliant entrance onto the battlefield. What’s he going to do in this one?

Hulk / Bruce Banner

Hulk probably won’t die either. Instead it’s more likely that he will make peace with his alter ego Bruce Banner and they will combine to create some sort of new Hulk that combines Banner’s intelligence with Hulk’s power. Some people call this Professor Hulk.

Black Widow / Natasha Romanov

Black Widow might die, but I don’t feel like it’s going to happen. Hopefully she will find a way to be with Bruce Banner, because I found that romantic storyline to be touching and I think it would be sweet for Natasha to find some love after basically her emotional life was taken from her while being trained as an agent.

Hawkeye / Ronin / Clint Barton

Hawkeye is back, but he seems to have gone all ’emo’. I mean, he’s dark, he’s perhaps on some kind of revenge mission in Japan fighting against the Yakuza or something. People are saying this is his other incarnation from the comic books, Ronin. He’s using some kind of samurai sword. He also has a new haircut, which sometimes looks cool and sometimes looks terrible. I don’t know what the deal is with that. Maybe he lost his family during the snap and he’s grief-stricken and in a lapse of judgement he got a weird haircut. What’s he doing in Japan? We don’t know. I read one theory which said he was tracking down the remains of Mjolinr, Thor’s hammer which was crushed into pieces by Thor’s evil sister Hela in Thor: Ragnarok.

Anyway, I’m glad that Hawkeye is back because he was one of my favourite characters. A more down to earth and normal person who has a family and no super powers. This makes him pretty human and relatable. He has a few funny lines as well. There are some theories that he’ll pass on his skills to his daughter maybe. So maybe Clint will pass away to be replaced by his daughter.

Ant Man / Scott Lang

I really enjoyed the Ant Man films, but all that stuff about the quantum realm made my head spin a bit. I know it’s all just comic book entertainment and it doesn’t have to make sense, but I don’t really get the quantum realm. I know it’s essentially like another dimension. If you shrink so small you eventually get to another level of reality where the normal laws of physics don’t apply. Anyway, Ant Man was in there, collecting quantum energy (whatever that is!) when Thanos snapped his fingers and so he survived the decimation. Assuming he can find his way out, he now has the suit and the portal van thing (explain?) and we see in the trailer that he then goes to the Avengers base. Perhaps The Avengers can use Ant Man’s technology to travel through time (apparently there are worm holes or time holes in the quantum realm). He might do a Marty McFly and somehow contact the Avengers in the past and then alter the course of history. We know that messing with time travel in films makes things very complex and prone to paradoxes and stuff, but time travel can be a cool way to solve certain problems in films, like in the X-Men Days of Future Past story in which Wolverine is somehow sent back to the 70s where we get a cool new story. So, Ant Man could be one of the most important characters. Maybe he’s going to go back to the events of previous films in order to find some way to attack Thanos.

Captain Marvel

I don’t completely understand Captain Marvel and her powers. Apparently she’s one of the most powerful characters. She can fly, she can kind of glow up with super energy and become indestructible. I’m not sure if she is immune to the powers of the infinity gauntlet. Can she just fly towards Thanos and blast him into smithereens? I don’t know. From what we see in the trailers, it seems to me that Captain Marvel is a little bit too keen to just go and kill Thanos, maybe arrogantly assuming that she is powerful enough to stop him. Maybe her over-confidence will be a weakness and this might end in failure somehow. I don’t think it will be as easy as just flying into space, finding Thanos and Captain Marvel blasting him. This is a 3 hour film. There will be more to it than that and I reckon something is going to keep her powers in check.

Rocket Raccoon

I have no idea what part he will play in this except as the pilot of the spaceship that’s going to fly the Avengers into space to get Thanos. Hopefully we’ll see some funny and touching moments from him. After all, he is the only member of the Guardians of the Galaxy left alive. Now he’s completely alone again, although he’s probably been accepted by the Avengers, so he has another new family of sorts. Still, he’s bound to be sad about the loss of his friends Groot and the other Guardians.

War Machine / James Rhodes

No idea what’s going to happen to him. I have seen nothing about his storyline, but I expect he will still be an important member of the team somehow.

Nebula

She’s one of my favourite characters because she been through so much pain at the hands of Thanos but she’s so determined to keep going. I find it funny and touching that she was hell-bent on getting her revenge on her sister Gamora but she always lost against her and eventually she reveals that she just always wanted a sister. That was sweet. I also feel sorry for her. As Thanos’s adopted daughter (adopted against her will) she has a lot of personal reasons for wanting to stop him. She might even be the one who has more grievances against him than any of the others. Perhaps she’ll be the one to kill him in the end. In the comics she does actually wield the infinity gauntlet at some point. Thanos takes his revenge on her in a pretty cruel way though, by turning her into some kind of zombie. I hope that doesn’t happen. I hope she gets redemption in some way.

Okoye

She’s one of the bodyguards of T’Challa (aka Black Panther) who fought against Thanos’s army on Wakanda. Black Panther was dusted when Thanos snapped his fingers, so I don’t know what Okoye is going to do. Maybe she’ll join the Avengers because she is a powerful fighter, or maybe she’ll stay in Wakanda. Who knows. I like the actress who plays her (she’s also Michonne in The Walking Dead) so I’m always happy to watch her on screen. She’s pretty intense and just enjoyable to watch.

Other characters: Valkyrie, Pepper Potts, Wong. 

I bet I’ve missed someone or something. There are loads of other theories and things to ramble about but I think I will stop here. Please add your comments if you have other things to add or if I’ve missed something.

Also, by the time you listen to this the chances are you might have seen the film and all this speculation and guess-work will be redundant. Still, it’s fun to talk about this stuff. If you have seen the film, please don’t put spoilers in the comment section.

If you want more of this kind of thing…

I talked about superheroes a couple of years ago when Captain America: Civil War was released. I did a couple of film club episodes about Civil War, but also a conversation with another geeky friend of mine which was all about superheroes, their powers and their background stories.

Those episodes are linked on the page for this episode

347. Film Club: Marvel / Captain America Civil War (Part 1)

348. Film Club: Marvel / Captain America Civil War (Part 2)

349. Who’s the best superhero? (with Paul Langton)

Need a reminder of the story so far? Here’s a complete recap.

Feel free to leave your comments below but no spoilers please!

589. [1/2] Film Club: Avengers Endgame / Marvel Cinematic Universe (with Fred Eyangoh)

Part 1 of a big ramble about Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general with my friend, comedian Fred Eyangoh. No spoilers! Part 2 coming soon…

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Introduction

Hello everybody, welcome to episode 589 of Luke’s English Podcast.

This episode is a big ramble about Avengers Endgame, Marvel Studios and comic book movies in general with my friend Fred Eyangoh. I should point out that this episode contains no spoilers for Avengers Endgame, because neither of us have seen the film yet.

We’re both fans of these films and we become a bit like excited children when talking about this subject and so we end up talking quite quickly, interrupting each other, talking over each other sometimes, just like people normally do when having lively conversations. Some of you will be glad because you like the challenge of the faster conversations on this podcast, but others might find it harder. If you find it difficult to follow, my advice is to stick with it. You will get used to Fred’s voice and the general speed of the conversation after a while.

Fred is very articulate and insightful about these films, particularly the business side of comic book movies in general. Watch out for loads of really useful descriptive language throughout this conversation as we talk about characters, plot points and Marvel Studios’ approach to the business of movie making.

The whole conversation is long, but so is Avengers: Endgame. It seems appropriate somehow. Unlike Avengers Endgame, this episode is in two parts. You’re listening to part 1. Part 2 should be available very soon.

The film is 3 hours and 1 minute long. People are wondering how they are going to get through the film’s marathon running time without taking a toilet break. I think you won’t have the same issue while listening to this double podcast episode because you can just pause, answer the call of nature, and carry on, or perhaps even do your business while listening on headphones. Please just remember to wash your hands when you are finished.

I hope you enjoy our chat and that you are also looking forward to seeing Avengers Endgame in cinemas soon. I’m going to see it tomorrow.

I’ll talk to you more at the end of this episode. But now, let’s jump into my conversation with Fred, and here we go.


Fred & Luke start talking…


Some scripts & other notes

Here’s a new episode of Luke’s Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast. It’s been a while since the last episode of film club. In this series I like to talk about films – sometimes obscure ones that you might not know, and sometimes big blockbusters that lots of people are talking about. This episode is firmly in the second category as we are talking about one of this year’s most highly anticipated film releases,  Avengers: Endgame!

But here is a disclaimer before we start.

This entire episode is devoted to the discussion of this new Avengers Film but also to the subject of Marvel movies in general – I mean, superhero films produced by Marvel Studios. That’s stuff like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Avengers, etc. There might also be some Star Wars chat as well here, maybe at the end of the episode.

I just want to say right at the start – if you’re not a fan of those films, then this episode probably won’t be for you. I realise this might not be for everyone, okay?

But, then again, Avengers Endgame, which is the culmination of a massive 21-film narrative, is coming out in cinemas at the end of this month and it is hotly anticipated. This is an international phenomenon along the lines of other big franchises like Star Wars, Game of Thrones and so on. People are predicting that this film is going to become the highest grossing film on its opening weekend, worldwide, of all time, ever.

So, this is an event movie on an international scale and I am certain that plenty of my listeners will be interested in this and will want to hear us talking about it. That’s why I’m doing this episode.

If I was learning English, I think I would want to listen to people talking about this film! I’m really excited to see it. Perhaps you’re planning to watch it too, maybe in the original English version if that’s possible where you live.

But I just want to, in the most British way possible, apologise in advance for those of you who have no interest in this film franchise at all. Sorry.

Maybe you will choose to listen to this and it will be a sort of introduction to Marvel movies and you’ll decide to check them out and you’ll enjoy them. Or maybe you’ll skip this episode altogether. It’s up to you. Other episodes will be coming along soon, and of course, if you’re looking for other content from me you could always sign up to my premium service to hear episodes focusing specifically on grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

But anyway, that’s the disclaimer out of the way. So now, let’s get stuck in shall we?

The plan is to talk about Avengers Endgame, but also to cover most of the other Marvel films we’ve had so far, and also talk about the main characters. This could easily become several episodes.

I’m joined today by Fred Eyangoh, making his third appearance on the podcast. Fred is a friend of mine from the Paris comedy scene. He’s from Cameroon but he lives in Paris, and he’s a big fan of films. Fred’s first appearance was in episode 430 and you can go back to that one if you’d like to learn more about Fred, his background and how he learned English.

So now, let’s get started with this episode of Film Club on Luke’s English Podcast…

Avengers: Endgame – Trailer

Plot summary from Wikipedia

Adrift in space with no food or water, Tony Stark sends a message to the love of his life, Pepper Potts as his oxygen supply starts to dwindle. Meanwhile, the remaining Avengers — Thor, Black Widow, Captain America and Bruce Banner — must figure out a way to bring back their vanquished allies for an epic showdown with Thanos — the evil demigod who decimated the planet and the universe in the previous chapter of the series Avengers: Infinity War.


A run-down of the conversation in the episode:

  • Getting excited about Avengers Endgame
  • Reasons why the MCU has been a success
  • Iron Man, the film that launched the MCU over 10 years ago.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron – Tony Stark’s technological AI defence system goes wrong and tries to kill all humans
  • Boring CGI battles at the end of all superhero films
  • Watching 200 million dollars on screen (Avengers: Infinity War)
  • How much we are anticipating Avengers: Endgame
  • The balancing act of bringing so many different characters together in the same film. Balancing the tone of each character, and the enjoyment of watching these characters interact in different situations.
  • Smaller, weirder characters that balance out the more serious ones, like The Guardians of the Galaxy, particularly Rocket Raccoon who we both think is a great character.
  • Captain America: his origin story and what the character represents.
  • Great casting. The list of great characters in the films: Glenn Close, Robert Redford, Hayley Atwell, Cate Blanchett, Jeff Bridges, Michael Douglas, Kurt Russell, Benicio Del Toro, Tilda Swinton. The list goes on and on…
  • Kevin Feige and his success as producer of all these films. The unifying figure around all these films. The one person who was at the centre of all the operations. He managed to give away enough power to creative people to get these movies out there. He found the right actors, screen writers, directors… He didn’t lose his judgement, unlike someone like George Lucas who, arguably, lost his judgement after making his original trilogy. Arguably.
  • Marvel (so far) have never released a film that completely divided the audience (like The Last Jedi) or got panned by the critics (like the more recent DC films). They haven’t made a film that was weak enough to break the franchise, unlike DC.
  • Man of Steel. We think it’s pretty terrible.Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We also think it’s terrible. Why?
  • Shazam (the latest DC film). Fred thought it wasn’t good. Luke doesn’t want to see it because of the main character’s haircut.
  • Is Shazam similar to Deadpool?
  • The way Ant-Man works because of the humour.

End of Part 1


Episode ending – script

This is where we are going to pause this conversation and we will carry on in part 2.

I hope you’re keeping up with all of this! As I said at the beginning, I think it might be difficult for some of you to follow, but challenges are good and it’s important to try and listen to these fast conversations. Hopefully you’re into the subject enough to keep listening and that’s the main thing! Practice practice practice!

So, part 2 will be available to you soon and our conversation will carry on there, talking mostly around the subject of Avengers Endgame but also there’s some talk of Star Wars because episode IX is coming out later this year and a new Star Wars trailer arrived recently. If you’re a fan, then these things are quite important actually!

So, there’s about 30 minutes more conversation from Fred and me in part 2, and then also I will talk a bit on my own about some other stuff, like fan theories for Avengers Endgame and just some of my own thoughts about the film.

Feel free to leave your comments. If you have now seen the film, please avoid writing spoilers in the comment section, or at least flag up the fact that your comment contains spoilers by writing the phrase SPOILER WARNING at the top of your comment.

I’m going to see Avengers Endgame tomorrow (because new films are released on Wednesdays here in France) and I might record some kind of reaction to the film or a ‘non-spoiler review’ of some kind.

Then, of course, after all this hype has died down, it will be back to podcasting as usual. There might be a little gap because I’m going away on holiday, but normal podcasting will return, as you would expect.

That’s it for part 1 then. I expect part 2 will be available very soon so you can carry on and get into some of the excitement.

Part 2 available soon…

586. The Importance of Listening

Recently I was reading a book about listening and learning English. This episode is a summary of what I read, including details of how listening fits in with learning English, some considerations of the importance of listening and also some tips for how to improve your English with audio.

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Episode Transcript

This episode is all about the importance of listening in the learning of English. It’s full of various thoughts and reflections about this topic and my aim to a large extent is to give you ideas and inspiration to help you keep learning through listening and to keep doing it more effectively, also to consider some things we know about learning through listening, to encourage you to reflect and form some metacognitive strategies towards your listening and also to give you some practical tips to help you learn English through listening and to improve your listening skills. I suppose ultimately I’d like to develop your process of understanding the place of listening in your learning so that you can take more and more responsibility for that learning. So that’s what this episode is all about. It’s quite appropriate I suppose considering this is an audio podcast for learners of English and you’re listening to this as a way to improve your English through listening, it’s worth taking time to think about the academic points on this subject.

Before we start I just want to say to any premium subscribers that I’ve got a series of episodes probably coming out next week all about grammar, focusing on tenses. We’ll be looking mainly at present perfect, but also comparing it to other tenses. So it’ll be a sort of tense review, focusing mainly on present perfect. There’s also going to be a series about the language which came up in my conversation with James that you heard on the podcast earlier in the year. So, grammar stuff coming next week and vocabulary later. If you want to get access to that stuff and all the other premium content go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Recently I was thumbing through some books at work. One of the books was a copy of Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom by Tricia Hedge, which is something of a bible for English teachers. A lot of teachers use this book during their DELTA and CELTA courses as it is absolutely filled with insights about language teaching and learning, all based on academic studies done over the years. It is a great book and covers most aspects of the work of an English teacher, including how people learn English and how, accordingly, English teachers should adapt their teaching methods.

I remember reading the book intensely while taking my DELTA. You heard me talking about the DELTA course with Zdenek earlier this year.

So I remember reading the book very thoroughly when I was doing my DELTA. Can you believe it, that was 13 years ago! It stuns me to imagine that it was so long ago. Anyway, during that time, when I was taking the DELTA and I had nothing else going on in my life – I used to work, come home from work, make myself tea and then retire to my bedroom where I would listen to ambient music and desperately try to focus on my work without getting distracted by absolutely everything in the universe! Because, somehow, when you’re working – everything becomes a major distraction. Anyway, one of the books I used to pour over was this one. I had loads of post-it notes marking various important pages.

Anyway, the other day I was at work and I noticed the very same book on the shelf, so I picked it up and started thumbing through it. 13 years later my situation has changed a bit. These days I’m doing this podcast and the majority of the people I am essentially teaching English to are not in the same room as me, they’re not even in the same country and in fact the only way I can communicate with them is through the medium of audio. I can also write things and post pics and videos on the website, but most of my audience don’t check the website – only about 10% actually go to the page.

Anyway, the point is – it’s now all about listening, which is amazing.

One of my aims in the beginning was to get people listening more, and it’s working. I have always thought listening to English must be an essential way to learn the language. It’s got to be a vital part of the learning process, surely. It’s like music – there’s music theory, music technique and all that, but for most musicians the best way to learn how to play well is to listen to plenty of music, and to practise every day. Listening probably comes first, right? Then it’s a question of practice x 5 and trying to replicate what you’re hearing. But first you have to get to know what music can sound like and to hear the way it is produced. When I first learned to play the drums I became obsessed with listening to my favourite drummers, who were: Mitch Mitchell, Stuart Copeland and Ringo Starr. Playing the drums at the beginning gave me a sense of how the music was produced, so I could listen to those songs and hear what the drummers were doing. I knew how they were doing it – which parts of the kit they were hitting, how those sounds were made. It was all a question of practising until I could do it too. In most cases I couldn’t replicate what they were doing (except in the case of Ringo!) but in practising like that I developed my own style, my own ease, my own technique and ultimately I was able to do things on the drums, play the kinds of beats I wanted to play, fit in with a band in the way I wanted. Obviously, listening was vital. It sounds ridiculous, obvious, right? To learn music, you must listen to it a lot – pay attention to how it all works. It’s the same thing with learning a language.

Obviously there are differences – the thing about music is that you understand it from birth without having to learn it first, right? It’s just something you feel. But anyway, I think the point still stands – that listening is a vital part of the learning process, just like it is with music.

So, back to the book. Now I’m interested in listening and I’m interested in what Tricia Hedge has to say on the subject of listening. So when I had the book in my hands, I flicked straight to the sections about listening and I made a note of what I found there.

In this episode I’m going to explain some of the things I’ve read and reflect on them.

Academics often write that listening is overlooked in ELT

Think about the average English lesson. Most of the time is spent on other language skills and language systems.

Listening is one of the 4 Skills

It is one of the 4 skills and it is a very important part of Cambridge Exams such as FCE, CAE and IELTS. Those exams give equal weight to the 4 skills, so listening is 25% of the whole exam. Is 25% of your study time in class devoted to listening?

We don’t do much listening in class

The majority of classroom work is devoted to other things, probably speaking and writing skills, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. I totally understand why. I wouldn’t spend all my time doing listening in my English classes. It wouldn’t make sense to get a bunch of learners of English together and just make them do only listening. Class time should be spent on other things, like communication skills, speaking and remedial work by the teacher.

We often listen to scripted listenings in class

Listening is in a lot of course books but the focus still seems to be on scripted dialogues which are designed specifically to present certain language, such as vocab or grammar. There just isn’t time to do extended listening, using unscripted dialogues that don’t follow a pre-planned agenda, but this is the sort of thing people need to practise listening to. Normal speech, which is a bit random, contains things like sentences that don’t end, false starts, moments when people talk over each other, moments of humour or spontaneous reactions and tangents in the conversation. So, real listening is overlooked.

Listening is vitally important in everyday life

The majority of interactions you will have will involve you speaking to a person, and it’s so important to be reactive to what they’re saying, and this relies on your ability to quickly follow what’s being said. It’s like fluency in a way – being able to follow fluid speech without thinking about it too much. That’s very important, of course.

Listening is linked to pronunciation and speaking

Raising your listening skills means raising your awareness of the connection between the written word and the spoken word – meaning that a good listener is able to recognise English as an oral language and this means being able to decode connected speech, elision of sounds, weak forms, how meaning is expressed through intonation and sentence stress. Getting good at listening means getting to know English as a spoken language. This in turn should help you make your English more natural, rather than just a version of the written language which comes out of your mouth, and that is a big problem. When I listen to learners of English (and I have met many thousands of them over the years) it’s amazing how often their mistakes are a consequence of them essentially speaking English as it looks when it’s written down. So many learners of English got to know English as a written language, to the point that the spoken version is so foreign to them that it’s almost like another language.

How much communication time do we spend on listening?

How much time do we spend on listening, when we communicate, compared to the other 3 skills? Research has been done into communication in English, focusing on the average time spent on the different skills of writing, reading, speaking and listening. How much time, on average, do we spend writing, reading, speaking and listening when we are communicating? The research shows that 9 per cent of communication time is devoted to writing, 16 per cent to reading, 30 per cent to speaking and 45 per cent to listening. (Rivers & Temperley 1978, Oxford 1993, Celce-Murcia 1995). There’s no doubt then that listening is really important and is perhaps the first thing you must master when you’re learning the language, followed by speaking. That’s if we decide that time spent during communication is the most important factor. Of course it depends on your situation. Maybe you work in an office and you have to write a lot of emails in English but you never speak it. I guess for you, writing would be the most important thing. But anyway, the numbers speak for themselves. We seem to spend most of our time listening. But we don’t spend most of our learning time on listening. The result is that when we are learning, we focus on learning words, learning structures and so on, but when we actually interact with the spoken version of the language, it all seems totally weird because the way we deliver those words and structures with our mouths often bears no relation to the English we have become familiar with during our studies.

Listening will be more and more important

Listening will only get more important. It’s almost definitely true that society in general is moving away from print media towards sound, so listening has become and continues to become more and more important as we move forward. Much more of our information comes through audio than ever before. With the internet a lot of the news we’re exposed to on social media is small video clips, we send each other audio messages, talk via Skype, FaceTime or WhatsApp, there are frequent audio and video conferences at work, we have a plethora of podcasts available to us and much more than ever we are tapping into entertainment on a global level with platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime where there are loads of English language TV programmes in the original language version, perhaps with subtitles in your language. The internet has allowed us to use listening as the primary source of information transfer today. So, listening is more and more important all the time.

How do people learn English through listening?

But what do we know about how people can learn English from listening? How does this affect the way I can produce LEP and how my listeners can consume LEP?

Input vs intake

Comprehensible input

This is part of the theory of language acquisition which is very popular. The principle is that if learners listen to English which is understandable but slightly higher than their level, and they focus on understanding the message within a meaningful context, that they can then pick up the language as a by-product of the process. This is good news for LEPsters. It means that you can pick up the language from my episodes by listening carefully to the main message being communicated. By interacting with English like this, you’re just naturally exposed to language and learn the functions of phrases and grammar through context. The argument is that you learn a language when you can understand it, and the process of getting to fluent speech comes first through a lot of exposure to the language, at the right level. It’s important that you understand most of what you hear, and that allows you to learn the new things you are hearing.

Intake

This is the principle that people only learn from the bits which are genuinely important to them. Learners won’t learn everything they hear. They’ll be selective, based on their own personal motivations. For whatever reason, each person will value certain parts of the listening content more than others. This is the stuff they’ll really learn. This means, there are certain things that will make the listeners prick up their ears, and a lot of that is based on the preconceptions of the listeners, their values and so on. For example, learners might believe that they can only learn from an authority figure like a teacher, and therefore their words will carry more value and will become part of the intake. On the other hand, words spoken by someone they don’t respect will just go in one ear and out the other side. It’s not just respect of course. It could be other things. E.g. if a listener is an engineer, they’re naturally going to be more motivated towards the language of engineering. What this means for my podcast is that I have to constantly think of ways to keep you engaged in order to turn most of the listening input into intake. It also means trying to cover a wide range of topics, which I try to do. But I also think it’s something to do with being personable, real and relatable while talking. I try to always address my listeners and think about what it’s like for you and hopefully this keeps you focused, which is good for your English.

The point is that the language should be understandable yet not without challenge, and the content should be presented as valuable but with the understanding that you can’t please everyone all the time – that each individual brings their own personal motivation to the listening experience, which means that different parts are valuable to different people. Each person will focus their attention on slightly different parts based on their feelings and attitudes.

What can I do on LEP?

What I can try to do is make each individual feel personally involved, in any way I can. I believe this is done best when I address the listener directly and sometimes avoid speaking from a script. It’s more human and engaging to talk ‘off the cuff’. Also I should keep the topics varied and also have a variety of people on the podcast.

Why listening is more difficult than reading

The language is transient – I mean, the words are only audible for a moment before they disappear. You can’t normally go back and listen again, unlike when reading when you can simply read the sentence again or scan the text to find something again. Listening comes and goes into the ether very quickly. You need to learn to think in a slightly different way and get used to interacting with the listening text by remembering what is being said, predicting what’s going to come next, and so on.

The written word has a standardised spelling system which everyone more or less follows. Also there are gaps between words on the page, and punctuation to show when one sentence begins and ends etc. With listening you don’t get any of these things. It’s not standardised like writing. You’re dealing with a lot of diversity in terms of accent and different ways the language can sound (and English is an extremely diverse language in which there are many, equally valid, versions of the spoken word).

What can you do?

It’s important to bridge the gap between the spoken version of the language and the written version. One way to do this is to do plenty of listening and reading, so that you’re familiar with the conventions of both versions of the language, but also there are other things you can do.

  • Listen and read at the same time
  • Dictation or listen + repeat dictations (use audio with a script)
    This allows you to turn an interconnected stream of sounds into sentences, words, syllables, phonemes.
    I’ve talked about this on the podcast before and I will no doubt talk about it again because I think it’s a great technique and in fact I’ve been working on some content which is designed specifically for this technique. Basically, listen to some audio, repeat what you hear bit by bit, then compare it to the script. You can then do things like use a pen to mark emphasis, intonation, connected speech, pauses on the script, then record yourself reading out the script, then try and replicate the main ideas without reading (it doesn’t matter if you say it differently – it’s not a memory test, you just have to communicate the main ideas in your own voice – and you might find that you remember some of the lines that you repeated before. You can also try writing down what you’re hearing and comparing that to the script as well. All of it can help you turn fluent speech into individual words, phrases and sentences, helping you work on pronunciation and speaking skills too.
  • Engage with the subject, not just the language. We know that we tend to understand what we hear more when we are engaged in the subject. This means that you should think about the topic being talked about and perhaps predict some of the things we’re going to hear. Basically, before you listen to something, just take a moment to make sure you are intellectually and perhaps emotionally engaged in that subject. Find some way to relate it to yourself personally. Use your imagination to picture the whole subject, issues relating to it and the things which might be said. We know that this helps you to listen more accurately, rather than just going straight into the listening, cold.
  • Learn the phonetic chart and practise it. Get an app, like Sounds or Sounds Right by the British Council. Do all the exercises, learn the phonetic alphabet. These are the basic building blocks of English and can really help you to break down, recognise and replicate sounds, words and so on.
  • When you’re repeating, pay attention to the emphasis. Which word in a sentence is being emphasised? Why? When you repeat, try to say the whole sentence like a word with the emphasis on the same part that you heard it. This can help you not only learn good sentence stress (which arguably is the most important factor in pronunciation) but also can help you identify the key information when you are listening.
  • Listen to a variety of things. Different genres of audio tend to follow their own “macro-script”, meaning that they follow the same kinds of conventions. For example, listening to the news you’ll notice certain things they always say, certain things that they only do on the news. Sports reports have their own characteristics, political speeches have their own style, a radio drama sounds unmistakably like a radio drama, an academic lecture sounds like an academic lecture, etc. You’ve got to get used to recognising certain conventions of different types of audio recording. So listen to a variety of audio.
  • But also, listen to the same thing again and again. Listen to your favourite English podcast every day for a month. You should wait about a month before you make a judgement. Listening to just one episode isn’t going to make a huge difference. Listening to many episodes, regularly, over a longer period – this is what makes the difference. It is a compound effect and to an extent it’s not even noticeable, but keep it up! This is one of the main issues today. People want instant, measurable results, but the reality is that language learning occurs over time and is sometimes not noticable. It sort of happens under the surface. But you have to be in it to win it. If you don’t use it you lose it. So keep listening every day for at least a month, then you’ll see that suddenly you can understand more and more and a whole new world of English can open up for you.
  • Listen to things you enjoy and are really motivated to hear. This helps turn input into intake.
  • Listen several times.
  • Don’t assume that movies and TV series are the best things to listen to. They tend to focus on visuals first. There’s music and other sound effects which actually get in the way. Sometimes dialogue is so naturalistic that it’s kind of impossible to follow. Often I can’t actually hear what’s being said in movies. Audio podcasts are probably better because they’re made for you, and you can just focus on the English exclusively. But, of course, if you like watching films in English don’t let me stop you. If you’re a big fan of the MCU for example – go ahead and watch Avengers: Endgame in English, twice!
  • Watch out for subtitles. Watching Netflix with English subtitles is something that everyone assumes is a great idea, and it is good. You can read what you’re hearing, notice the way the written language is expressed in speaking, you can pick up new words and phrases and so on. But for working on listening skills alone, it’s important to try some other ideas. For example, try to spend time listening without subtitles, then rewind and listen to that section again with subtitles and see what you’ve understood. Use subtitles or scripts after you’ve listened, in order to identify which bits you got and which bits you didn’t. But don’t get too used to always having subtitles when you listen, because this means you don’t develop proper listening skills. Also, don’t feel you always have to have the subtitles on or off. Switch between having them on, having them off, watching scenes several times with and without subtitles. Good learners of English actively use TV and films and think outside of the box a bit. It’s not just a case of switching Netflix to English and then just relaxing on your sofa.

Another thing is this – if you listen to podcasts a lot, then you’re immediately pushing yourself ahead of your peers who don’t do this. Think of the advantage you’re getting over other people who just don’t do any listening.

Motivation, reducing anxiety and building confidence. Listening a lot can really help you with these things, because you become friends with the spoken word. Imagine if you’re a regular and long term LEPster and you have to do a listening test. While other people are probably panicking because listening is a nightmare for them, for you it’s like you’re entering your comfort zone. Make listening your friend. Get to know the spoken version of the language and get a leg up on the competition.

So finally, the points are…

  • Listen a lot! Yey! This is probably good news because if you’re a regular listener to this podcast you just need to keep going! Keep it up!
  • Listen to various things. I’ll try and keep it varied here, but consider checking out some other things. Check out BBC podcasts on different subjects and shop around a bit.
  • Use some techniques, like listening and repeating audio that has a script and learning the phonemic script.
  • But ultimately, just relax and enjoy the process! Take time to reflect personally on what you’re listening to and enjoy yourselves!

I am sure that many of you have some interesting things to add here – either stories of how you’ve improved your English through listening, or specific things that you do relating to learning through listening. So please, add your comments under this episode. Your input is extremely valuable because as well as all these academic studies that underpin many of the things in this episode, it’s the testimony and personal experience of people who have learned English to a decent level that is what counts. So, please, tell us your stories, give us your thoughts regarding learning through listening.

And thank you for listening to this!

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Let me know your thoughts and experiences of learning English through listening. Leave a comment below.

576. Talking about Comedy, Books, Films & Music with James

My brother James is back on the podcast for a 90min+ mega-ramble about things like: taking sick days from work, snowboarding, doing stand-up for the first time, the new film about Laurel & Hardy, Steve Coogan / Alan Partridge, The Beastie Boys and making mix tapes on cassette tapes in the 1990s. Intro transcript available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners. In this episode I’m talking again to my brother James, who has appeared on this podcast quite a lot over the years, usually talking about things like books, films, music and other bits of pop culture, and in fact that’s what we’re talking about in this episode too.

The conversation is about 90 minutes long so if this was the 1990s we could have recorded almost the entire thing on a C90 cassette tape and then just posted it to you. Do you remember those days? When we all used cassette tapes for our music and you had to rewind them, and stick labels on them and sometimes the tape would get all chewed up inside your walkman? Ah good times.

Anyway, this is a 90min+ mega-ramble with James that covers quite a lot of different things, but I think that’s what you’ve come to expect from this podcast over the years, isn’t it?

You are mainly listening to this for your English of course, in the knowledge that listening to natural conversations like this is generally a healthy thing for your language learning.

Your English is more likely to benefit from this if you know generally what we’re talking about throughout the episode, even if you don’t get every single word. So, to help you follow the whole thing, let me now give you a quick overview of what you’re going to hear in this conversation.

First James tells us about how he’s been feeling a bit unwell recently after he got something in his eye while skateboarding, and we kick off the episode by explaining a few nice bits of language for talking about that.

Then he describes a recent trip he did to the French Alps where he did some snowboarding.

After that we talk about his experiences of doing stand-up comedy for the first time (he recently started doing it), and we talk about what he’s learned from that particular challenge, including some details about coming up with funny ideas and dealing with the nervous tension that you get from speaking in front of people. We also talk about the recent gig that I did with Paul Taylor at the comedy store in London. James was in the audience at that show.

There are lots of tangents, moments when we’re just making each other laugh and also references to some things that you might not know about. For example there are some references to comedy TV shows, including a tangent about the BBC science fiction comedy show Red Dwarf (actually the second time that show has randomly been mentioned on the podcast recently) and also we mention Alan Partridge, who I did some episodes about in October.

We mention the new film about Laurel & Hardy (the old comedy double act from the black and white film era). That film is called Stan & Ollie and it stars Steve Coogan in one of the roles. James saw the film recently, so he shares some of his thoughts on that and we then make fun of some TV voice overs and advertising that you see on television these days.

Following that we talk about a couple of books James has read recently, including the Alan Partridge book Nomad and then we talk about The Beastie Boys book, which was published at the end of last year.

I’m not sure if you know about The Beastie Boys. Some of you definitely will, but others might not. They were a very famous band in their heyday – three guys from New York called Adam Yauch (or MCA), Adam Horovitz (Ad Rock) and Michael Diamond (Mike D) that made rap, punk and jazzy instrumental music in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s. Sadly the band stopped making music after Adam Yauch died in 2012. That’s the Beastie Boys.

I’m pretty sure the Beastie Boys were famous in many countries around the world. They released their memoir last year – The Beastie Boys book, which James got as a present for Christmas. I also listened to the audiobook version. It’s a collection of stories about the band written by the two surviving members.

So, we talk about The Beastie Boys, what they meant to us when we were younger (because we are both big fans) and we then talk about the pros and cons of listening to music on cassette tapes in the 1990s.

So there you go, that’s the “road map” for the episode.

This is a long episode, so don’t forget to hit that pause button and come back later if you’ve got stuff to do. If you haven’t got stuff to do, then you can just brew up a nice pot of tea, put your feet up and listen on.

Alright, now you’ve got your brew in your hand and maybe a pack of chocolate digestive biscuits open on the table in front of you, let’s get started properly.


Ending Transcript

So there you are. Thanks again to James for coming back on the podcast.

Leave your comments on the website in response to any of the things that came up in the conversation. Generally, we’d love to know what you’re thinking, unless you’re thinking something really disgusting – in which case, please keep that to yourself.

We talked a bit about books there.

For me I tend to use audiobooks these days. I just can’t seem to find the time to actually do much normal reading, so using audiobooks is a good solution for me.

I use Audible for my audiobooks, and I just wanted to remind you that they sponsor this podcast and in fact they have an offer that you could take advantage of – a free audiobook of your choice. Audible have a free app which you can get on your phone. You buy the audiobooks on Audible’s website or on Amazon and then download them onto your app so you can listen anywhere. It’s a really cool way to consume books while doing other things, and often the books are read out by interesting people, like talented actors and voice-over artists.

About that offer from Audible.

They’re offering you a 30 day free trial that includes a free audiobook of your choice.

If you like you can just sign up for the free trial, get a free audiobook, listen to it and then cancel your subscription and you don’t pay anything. Audible are totally cool with that. Or you could keep the subscription and get more books, including one book each month as part of your package.

You could listen to the Alan Partridge audiobooks which are read out by Steve Coogan himself and are genuinely hilarious, or if you’re a Beastie Boys fan, check out the Beastie Boys audiobook, which is amazing in my opinion. To get the offer and for all the details go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/audiobook

Click here for the Audible special offer

Also, consider signing up for LEP Premium at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium to get the benefit of my teaching skills as I focus on teaching you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. New premium episodes come out every month, and I expect to do a premium episode focusing on language that came up in this conversation with James in fact. So you can use my premium episodes to maximise your English learning with my podcast. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Click here for LEP Premium

But for now – that’s it. Congrats on making it to the end another super-long episode in 2019.

Do live long and prosper, and please remember to be excellent to each other.

Speak to you again on the podcast soon. But for now, goodbye.


Links, Videos and Other Bits & Pieces

The Classic Breaks Megamix

Here’s the classic breaks megamix I did with my PlayStation and a minidisk recorder back in 2001. My “MCing” will either make you laugh out loud, or just annoy you. I’m not sure! But I am sure that the music mix in the background is 100% pure solid gold.

For more of my music mixes – click here

Stan and Ollie Trailer (James’ review: It was fine.)

Some dude unboxes the Beastie Boys book