Category Archives: Music

769. Film Club: This Is Spinal Tap (with James)

A return to Luke’s Film Club with the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap, a “mockumentary” about a fictitious rock band from the 1980s. This time I am joined by my brother James and we discuss what was once voted “Funniest comedy film of all time”. Learn some famous quotes from the film, listen to some scenes and understand the comedy with help from James and me.

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761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council) + Public Speaking Tips

This is a presentation I did at the British Council in Paris recently, in front of a live audience. First I talk about public speaking and my approach to doing presentations and then you can hear the recording of my talk. The Beatles were a global phenomenon when they first appeared in the 1960s and their appeal continues to this day. The world still loves The Beatles. But why is this? Join me as I take a deeper look at the social, cultural and psychological factors that make The Beatles story so compelling even after all these years.

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Introduction & Ending Transcripts

Hello listeners,

Another day, another new podcast episode. Let’s keep calm and carry on, shall we?

This is episode 761 and most of this one was recorded live at the British Council in Paris in front of an audience of people. I think it is the first podcast I’ve ever recorded with a live audience there and it sounds a bit different because you can hear the audience reacting to things I’m saying and there are some moments of interaction with the crowd and some jokes and stuff. I hope you enjoy it.

As you may know, I teach English to classes of adults at the BC in Paris but also we have some extra events there in the evening. The talk you can hear me doing in this episode was one of those extra events. I’m hoping to do more of this kind of thing in the future – podcasting in front of a live audience. 

Private Online English Lessons with the British Council

Just before we start properly I want to tell you something about taking English lessons with the British Council, which is something that you can do online. Did you realise that?

Are you interested in having private English lessons online with a British Council teacher? Because you can. 

Sometimes people ask me if I am available for private lessons, and unfortunately my answer to that question is usually no. I just spend my time making episodes of my podcast and teaching group classes in the real world so if you wanted lessons with me you’d need to be in Paris and you’d need to become a student at the BC there using the normal registration process and just hope that you end up in one of my classes. 

But, other British Council teachers are available and they are online.

So if you are looking for an English teacher for private lessons, I just want to let you know that the British Council does offer this service now – personalised one to one lessons with a British Council teacher online

And this is great because you can do it anywhere in the world, you can choose the date and time for lessons, it’s totally flexible, you can choose the teacher and you can basically have classes which are designed around your needs completely, whenever and wherever you want, basically.

Want to practise your speaking and have your errors corrected – you can.

Want to work on your grammar and vocabulary. You can.

Want to develop your pronunciation to be a clearer speaker or to work on a more British-sounding accent if you like. You can do that too.

Also, you can have lessons for specific purposes such as for exams, for job interviews, for specific work arrangements, to prepare for IELTS. It’s all possible with these private online lessons because they’re all based around what you want to do and the British Council teachers will design the lessons based on your priorities.

I’ve always said that listening to my podcast regularly (or any podcast for that matter) is an important part of your learning process – the 5 Ls – listening, listening, listening, listening, listening but of course you need to be doing plenty of speaking too and to practise all the other things – the other language systems and skills.

One to one lessons are a really great way to achieve that and doing them online with an actual human teacher face to face is now a completely normal, tried and tested way to do this. All you need is just the right service.

And the British Council does offer that service. 

It’s called British Council English Score Tutors. (Click the pic below for the details)

It’s the official 1 to 1 tutoring service from the British Council.

It’s quite new but they already have 12,500 learners of English using the platform.

There are currently over 150 teachers there.

The tutors on English Score have an average rating of 4.9 stars (out of 5), which is reassuring.

The teachers are all British Council approved and a lot of them are in the UK but there are also British Council teachers living in other countries all over the world so you can find teachers in most time zones, which means, basically, there are teachers available 24/7. So you’ll be able to find someone to match your timetable.

So, why not go ahead and find a teacher for you and book some lessons to really push your English further and gain more confidence. There’s an offer for you because you listen to this podcast by the way – I’ll tell you about it in a moment.

Maybe you listen to me regularly and you’re happy that you can understand me or that you’ve got to the stage where you’re understanding most of what I say, which is a very good sign – why not build on that and get your speaking up to a similar standard. 

If you’re working on your listening and making progress, there’s a good chance you can convert that to speaking and make progress there too. Activate your English.

Work on your fluency and accuracy and clarity and general confidence. 

The 5 Ss  – speaking speaking speaking speaking speaking.

You’re asking – What about that special offer for us Luke?
Yes.

The BC is offering you a first introductory session for just $1, just so you can see if you like it.

So the first session is just $1. 

You can try it and see if you like it.

There’s no pressure or obligation to continue after that.

But if you do choose to buy a pack of lessons (normally about 20 hours or something) the BC will throw in a free lesson for you because you’re a LEPster.

So, the first lesson is just $1. 

If you like it you can buy a pack of lessons with a teacher, and get a free lesson included because you’re a LEPster.

Sounds pretty good right?

This could be your way to really work on your speaking as well as your listening.

Think about it. Could be a really good move.

Young learners – they do young learners too. There are classes available for 13-17 year olds and you get the same deal.

To find out more and to get that special offer of the free lesson go to teacherluke.co.uk/english or click the PRIVATE LESSONS button on my website menu.

The link is also in the description of this episode.

You’ll only get that free lesson if you enter the website through my link though.

So, obviously, do that then.

teacherluke.co.uk/english

All right then. Let’s begin the episode properly. Here’s the jingle.


761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council)

Hello listeners! Welcome back to the podcast. Let’s get back to some normal podcasting, shall we? OK then.

This is #761 Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council).

As you can tell from the title, this episode was recorded live at The British Council in front of an actual audience of people, as I mentioned earlier. 

I’ll play the recording to you in a few minutes. First I want to tell you about the talk I did and how I prepared for it in order to perhaps share some personal tips I have about public speaking. This might seem like another one of my epically long introductions, but it’s not. In fact, let’s imagine that the introduction is over now and here we are in the main body of the episode, and I’m giving you some comments and advice about how to speak to an audience of people – public speaking.

Public speaking is a slightly different skill to normal podcast recording and so it might be interesting for you to hear me doing it in this episode. 

Here’s some context.

The British Council in Paris, where I work part-time, is essentially a language school in a nice building not far from the Eiffel Tower. We teach classes to adults and children and there’s also a exam centre for the IELTS test.

The BC in Paris also offers some special evening events including regular Talks In English. This is when a guest is invited to come and talk about a specific topic at the school in one of our nice big rooms on the 2nd floor. 

Everyone is invited to attend at that means students at the school but anyone else too – friends, staff in the school, other teachers, just anyone who’s interested in attending. 

The speaker does their talk and afterwards there’s a chance to socialise, drink some wine and talk in English together. 

Our marketing manager Phil is always on the lookout for people to do one of these Talks in English, and a couple of months ago he asked me if I’d like to do a talk about anything. I immediately thought of The Beatles, because it’s one of my favourite topics and it’s a very British topic, relevant to British culture and it’s the sort of thing that would probably attract some people. Also the series produced by Peter Jackson called “Get Back” had just been released on Disney+. Phil happily agreed and we put it in the diary.

I decided the title of my talk would be Why We Love The Beatles and basically I wanted to try and explain why The Beatles were and still are so popular. What is the appeal of this group? Why are they so adored by people even 60 years after they first came onto the scene? 

I also decided I’d try and record it as an episode of this podcast.

Now, I know this is another episode about The Beatles and some of you might not be that interested or keen. My talk is called Why We Love The Beatles – but some of you probably don’t Love The Beatles that much, or you just don’t know. That’s totally fine of course. I get it. I’m not here to convince you that they’re the best band. Music is subjective. It’s a question of personal taste.

But I still hope you listen to this, because I might be able to help you understand why people love them.

Public Speaking – Talking to an Audience (Some tips and comments)

I’m now going to give some tips and comments about public speaking and how I prepared for my presentation but if you’d rather just skip straight to the recording of my Beatles talk, then you can move forward to 30:00 (the 30 minute mark).

Let’s think about public speaking then, and doing a presentation to an audience. I just want to mention a couple of things about how I prepared to do this talk. 

Maybe this can help you learn a little bit about public speaking.

So I had to prepare to talk to a room full of people for about 45 minutes. 

It was a fairly small audience to be fair – about 50 people.

Is that a small number or a big number? I don’t know. I’ll let you decide.

Imagine you had to do that. 

  • What would you be thinking? 
  • How would you do it? 
  • How would you prepare? 
  • What are the important things to consider?

I knew the audience would be a mix of adult learners of English (mostly French people and maybe some other nationalities) with an English level at intermediate and above and also some native English speakers.

I didn’t want to write a script, because I wanted to keep the presentation spontaneous. I find that if I write a script then I just get stressed during the talk because I’m trying to remember everything I’ve written and that’s impossible, and reading from a script can take the life out of a presentation. It can take away a certain spark, especially if the person is actually reading from the script on paper and they have to keep glancing up at the room but not really connecting with anyone. 

It depends, of course. Sometimes you need a script because in some cases every single word is vital, and you might have a prompter or something (that’s a screen which shows you your script without the audience seeing it – like in those big political speeches) or maybe if you are doing a best man’s speech at a wedding it can help to have the script in your hand. It depends on the situation of course. But for me, I decided that I didn’t want a script.

Also I didn’t want to use presentation slides on a screen with lots of words or information on them. Slides can be good, but they can also be very distracting. It’s human nature for the audience to just stare at the slides and then you lose the connection with them, and an old rule from stand-up comedy is: if it’s not adding anything, then it’s taking something away. 

Sometimes slides are not really adding anything to your talk, and so they just take away the focus from you and cause the audience to get distracted, especially when there’s lots of text and they end up reading rather than listening to you. No thanks.

Nothing is better than just trying to establish a good connection with the people in front of you. So I decided to do it without a script and without any slides, just like in a stand-up comedy who.

Doing it without a script can seem a bit daunting though, because you think “How can I get it right? How can I be sure that I’m going to say the right things?” 

Basically, in my experience, you have to just try to get to know your subject really well, create a simple structure for your talk, practice a lot and then trust yourself to be able to do it. So that’s what I tried to do. (I’m talking like I’m some expert public speaker here – I’m not, but I do have some experience from teaching and from doing comedy, so I’m just trying to share my experience with you).

In the weeks leading up to the talk I just thought about it a lot, thought about the specific focus of the talk “Why do people love The Beatles?” wrote some ideas down when they came to me, asked friends and family for their advice, talked out loud to myself a bit, imagining I was doing the talk and eventually worked out a general plan for what the content and structure should be. I did write some things down as a script but then I boiled it all down to a list of simple one or two word prompts. I then printed those prompts on some cards which I held in my hands during the talk. The idea was that I could just glance at the card in my hand and then ramble on that topic, hopefully remembering the main things I wanted to say. I also wanted to leave myself room to improvise and respond to what was happening in the room because in my experience, that’s the best way to keep things entertaining and to stop the audience falling asleep at all. 

I also wrote a few other things on the cards in pencil. Just some names, dates and quotes in case I forgot them while talking.

So that’s what I did as preparation and in a moment you can hear how it went.

Let me just say a couple of very basic facts about The Beatles for listeners who are new to the subject, just so you don’t get lost. 

The people in the room for my talk were probably already fans of The Beatles, but you might be new to them.

The Beatles

They were a group of musicians (a band) from Liverpool in England who recorded and released music together from 1962 to 1970 more or less. 

Members:

  • John Lennon (guitar & vocals)
  • Paul McCartney (bass guitar & vocals)
  • George Harrison (lead guitar & vocals)
  • Ringo Star (drums & vocals sometimes)

Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe were members of the band before they became really famous.

They formed in the late 1950s and played live concerts together from the early days in Liverpool and Hamburg until the year 1966 when they were playing stadiums and huge theatres around the world. Then they stopped performing live and concentrated on making music in the studio.

The band broke up officially in 1970 and went their separate ways.

John Lennon was killed in 1980 meaning that the four members could never reunite again as a band.

The Beatles were not just commercially successful. They represented a huge cultural shift and also were groundbreaking in many ways beyond just their influence on popular music. They were also just very funny, stylish and charming and their message was ultimately one of peace and love.

So, “Why we love The Beatles” that’s the title of my talk, that’s what I talked about a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what you can hear now in this first episode of LEP recorded in front of a live audience. I hope you enjoy it…


Ending

So, there you have it. That was my talk about The Beatles at The British Council. 

I am not completely sure if I managed to answer the question of why people love them so much, but ultimately I think I managed to entertain my small audience and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and maybe that’s the most important thing at the end of the day, and the beginning of the day, and the middle of the day…

I wonder how that was for you listening in podcastland.

A couple of questions for you. 

  1. Did I manage to tell you something new about The Beatles that you didn’t know before?
  2. If you’re not a fan of the band, did I give you a sense of why people love them so much, including the fact that it’s not just about the music, and there’s more to them than just Yellow Submarine, Yesterday, Hey Jude and Let It Be?
  3. What was it like listening to a podcast episode that was recorded live in front of an audience, and should I do more episodes like that in the future?

Actually, I have sort of already decided that I would like to do more stuff like this in the future and I would like to do talks at the British Council that can also be published as podcasts. 

One idea is that I re-record some old episodes but in front of an audience, especially episodes which are essentially stories. For example, I would love to do the Sick In Japan story because I think it’s long enough, has enough funny moments and drama in it and it’s been a long time since I published the episode (10 years in fact – omg).  

So look out for more stuff like this in the future and maybe a live version of Sick In Japan or something like that. We will see.

Anyway, let me know how it was listening to this as a podcast episode.

Thank you for listening all the way until the end.

If you got this far, let’s think of a code word you could use to show that you’ve listened until the end. Let’s say that if you got this far, you have to use the word “LOVE” in your comment, especially in a Beatles lyric such as “Love is all you need” or “All you need is love” or “The love you take is equal to the love you make” – or in fact, quote ANY Beatles lyric in the comments to show that you have listened all the way until the end, and if you mention that a semolina pilchard was climbing up the Eiffel Tower during the episode, you will get bonus points. More than just 10.

Thank you for listening.

More podcast episodes will be coming towards your ears soon.

Just a reminder – Private Lessons with British Council English Score Tutors

If you’re looking for private one-to-one lessons online with a teacher, check out British Council English Score Tutors.

At least 150 BC Approved teachers to choose from.

Classes adapted to your needs.

All from the comfort of your own home.

$1 for the first lesson so you can check it out.

Then if you pay for a pack of lessons, you’ll get one lesson free because you’re a LEPster.

For the details and to get the offer – www.teacherluke.co.uk/english

Link in the episode description.

Nice one.

Thank you for listening! I hope you loved this episode. 

My pod room is nearly ready, for goodness sake. There’s still no electricity connection! A guy came to fit plugs around the room, and to connect it to the earth. He just needs to come back to do a bit of paperwork but of course he keeps texting saying it’s not possible today and then the next day, then he says he can come on Friday afternoon which is a full week after he actually did the main part of the job. Why does everything take so bloody long? Then it’s just a few clicks and switches and I need another hard working motivated guy to come and connect the room to the fibre optic internet and then I will be able to actually get installed and start working properly again. Damn, I can’t wait! I’m buying a second-hand desk from a local company tomorrow (it was supposed to be today but yep – she had to cancel and postpone). I’m looking for a decent office chair at a good price. I will podcast standing up if I have to!

Speak to you soon but for now it’s just time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye bye

733. A Summer Ramble

A pre-holiday ramble in which I talk about learning English, moving to a new flat, the podcast over the next few months, football, being on Other People’s Podcasts, a recording of my daughter speaking English and a couple of songs. Video version available.

Audio Version

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Notes

There’s no script for this episode. All I have is a list of one-word prompts to help me remember what I should be saying.

  • YouTube 
  • Beard
  • English
  • Moving
  • Holiday
  • Premium
  • Football
  • OPP
  • Daughter
  • Music

Luke on Other People’s Podcasts

The Level Up English Podcast with Michael Lavers

English 2.0 Podcast with Al Slagle

Glass Onion: On John Lennon by Antony Rotunno

Luke on the Stories of Language Learners Podcast

Luke on other podcasts  (coming soon)

731. Beatles Song Lyrics / Idioms & Expressions (with Antony Rotunno)

Learn English with The Beatles as we explore lyrics from Beatles songs and pick out some idioms, descriptive language and other vocabulary for you to learn. Featuring Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion: On John Lennon podcast.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello everyone,

In this episode you can learn English with The Beatles as we look at specific bits of English which appear in the lyrics of their songs.

I’m joined again by Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion on John Lennon Podcast. Antony is also an English teacher and something of a John Lennon expert. He is also a musician, and a lot of the credit for this episode goes to him, because he did most of the preparation, going through lyrics of Beatles songs and picking out specific use of English, including certain phrases and idioms.

This is like a quiz actually. Can you name the songs when Antony plays them? 

Can you beat me?

Can you name the songs from the lyrics and from the music?

There are a few references to The Rutles and Neil Innes of course, but for us those songs are all part of The Beatles extended universe.

I’ll chat to you again at the end of the episode and will sum up some of the bits of language that come up, but now let’s get started.


Phrases / Vocabualry

  • Using lots of pronouns, me, you, us, I etc
  • Using more imagery in the lyrics
  • I’m going to love her until the cows come home
  • A chip on my shoulder
  • My heart went boom when I crossed that room
  • Buzz, hum, boom (Onomatopoeia)
  • It won’t be long ‘til I belong to you
  • I don’t know why she’s riding so high
  • To be on your high horse
  • I’ll make a point of taking her away from you
  • I sat on her rug biding my time, drinking her wine
  • This bird has flown
  • Please don’t spoil my day, I’m miles away, and after all, I’m only sleeping
  • If she’s gone I can’t go on, feeling two foot small
  • Feeling 10 foot tall
  • Ouch, you’re breaking my heart
  • To upset the applecart
  • Where there’s a will there’s a way
  • He was like a wolf in sheep’s clothing
  • Or an iron hand in a velvet glove
  • Working like a dog
  • Sleeping like a log
  • Sleeping like a baby
  • If you need a shoulder to cry on
  • To give someone a shoulder to cry on
  • To open up the doors
  • My independence seems to vanish in the haze
  • It was another string to their bow

Colours

  • There is a place, where I can go, when I feel low, when I feel blue
  • To feel blue
  • Everybody’s green because I’m the one who won your love
  • Green = 1. Jealous 2. inexperienced 
  • Oh dear what can I do, baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue

Imagery

  • When the sun shines they slip into the shade, and sip their lemonade
  • With tangerine trees and marmalade skies, cellophane flowers of yellow and green
  • No-one I think is in my tree
  • Nobody is on my wavelength
  • Semolina pilchard climbing up the Eiffel Tower
  • The clouds will be a daisy chain, so let me see you smile again
  • Her hair of floating sky is shimmering, glimmering, in the sun
  • My mother was of the sky, my father was of the earth but I am of the universe and you know what it’s worth
  • Words are flowing out like endless rain into a paper cup
  • Pools of sorrow, waves of joy
  • Don’t need a gun to blow your mind
  • No longer riding on the merry go round, I just had to let it go
  • Mother, you had me, but I never had you

Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

728. English with Rob / Games, Music & Jingles

My guest today is Rob from English with Rob (podcast/YouTube). Rob is an English teacher, musician from England, and my former colleague. This episode includes lots of musical fun, some chatting about how we make our podcasts, fun word games and much more. Video version also available on YouTube.

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Video Version

Intro Transcript

Hello listeners, and video viewers.

In this episode I’m talking to Robert Dylan Walker, aka Rob from English with Rob – the podcast and YouTube channel.

Rob and I already know each other in fact as we used to be colleagues at the British Council, until Rob moved to Germany.

Basically – Rob is an English teacher, a YouTuber and a podcaster. He’s also a musician who likes to make music for his podcast, a photographer and video maker, who likes to use various special effects in his videos, and he’s into jokes and films and things like that, so he’s an ideal guest for me to talk to on this podcast.

The plan is to have a bit of a ramble chat, focusing on things like how we both make our podcasts, especially how we include bits of music in our episodes – and later in this episode we will be playing some of our podcast jingles, breaking them down a bit, explaining how we made them, and we had homework for this episode  – to record jingles for each other’s podcasts, but I think that we both ended up recording songs rather than jingles.

So stick around to hear some of our music and generally to get to know Rob a bit, and find out about his podcast and YouTube channel, which you might want to check out as a good resource to help you in your continuing journey to improve your English.

Ending

That was an epic one. Thanks again to Rob for his contribution. Don’t forget to check out English with Rob wherever you get your podcasts and on YouTube.

I hope you enjoyed the bits about music and making jingles and that you didn’t get too exhausted by the length. Hopefully you just got carried away and enjoyed getting a nice big dose of English listening into your week. 

If you’re interested in more stuff about jingles, then check out the Luke’s English Podcast App – free in the app store. It has a category called Jingles where you can hear most of the jingles I’ve made for the podcast, like the Amber & Paul jingle and more. There’s also that full app-only episode in which I break down every single sample from the LEP Jingle Megamix.

And on the subject of music, you can check out my recent tunes, like the English with Rob song that I did for this podcast and some other little bits of music I’ve been making recently – you can check them out on my soundcloud page. 

My user name is LEPTunes. 

Links

The last one is a link to the music page on my website where you can find all the Korg Kaossilator tunes I’ve ever made, and also old music mixes I’ve made with my brother and a few comedy tracks too with James.

So, plenty of music stuff to get into. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode. I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now it’s time to say good bye…

727. Describing John Lennon / Adjectives of Personality J-Z (with Antony Rotunno)

The second part of my conversation with Antony Rotunno (John Lennon podcaster, English teacher) in which we discuss adjectives of personality, with John Lennon as a case study. Vocabulary list available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

Welcome to this brand new episode of Luke’s English Podcast. Here it is, another episode of my podcast, from me to you, in which I help you try to learn this wonderful language that we call English, and I am here to try to help you do it, in ways that I hope you will find interesting and motivating.

So, how are you doing out there in podcastland today? I hope things are pretty good all things considered.

You are now listening to the fourth in my Beatles mini-series and the second part of this double episode I’m doing about describing John Lennon using various adjectives of personality.

I’m assuming here that you have heard the first part of this. If you haven’t heard the first part of this double episode then you need to go and listen to that. It’s probably the previous episode to this one, ok?

I’m still talking to Antony Rotunno from the Glass Onion: On John Lennon podcast. Antony is also an English teacher with plenty of experience. So I think he’s the perfect guest for this podcast series, and let’s continue going through this list of adjectives we compiled, and let’s see if we can use them to discuss John Lennon’s life, his psychology, his personality.

In the last episode we covered adjectives from A to I. It’s a sort of a rough A-Z, and we did A to I last time so let’s do the rest of the alphabet, more or less.

We might skip a few letters here and there but I’m sure that you’ll forgive us.

Just before we continue, let me read out the list of adjectives. Like last time, we don’t go into full detail about all of these, but have a listen and consider these things: whether you know these words, whether you don’t know them, whether you use them and whether you don’t and also what’s the word stress for these adjectives? How many syllables are there and which syllables are the stressed ones? It can also be useful to consider what the noun or verb forms of these adjectives are, if they have them, and sometimes you’ll hear us using the different forms of these words in these word families as well.

Adjectives of Personality J-Z

O o o <—- these symbols show the number of syllables and word stress in a word. For example, “podcast” = O o (two syllables, the first syllable is stressed)

  • Jealous O o, Jittery O o o (Also: to have the jitters, to be on edge, to be nervous, to be anxious)
  • Knackered O o, Kind-hearted o O o
  • Lovable O o o
  • Misunderstood o o o O, Multi-faceted o o O o o
  • Narcissistic o o O o, Nasty O o, Nervous O o, No-nonsense o O o
  • Open O o, Original o O o o
  • Paranoid O o o, Progressive o O o
  • Questioning O o o, Quick-witted O- O o (Also: to have the gift of the gab)
  • Reclusive o O o, Restless O o, Revered o O
  • Sensitive O o o, Sensible O o o, Sentimental o o O o, Superstitious o o O o
  • Talented O o o, Tragic O o, Traumatised O o o, Troubled O o
  • Uncompromising o O o o o, Unconventional o o O o o
  • Violent O o
  • Warm-hearted o O o, Well-read o O, Wise, Witty O o
  • (not) Xenophobic o o O o (this is the only adjective I could think of that begins with an X!) (xylophone and x-ray are other words beginning with x – but they’re not adjectives of personality)
  • Yellow O o / Yellow-bellied O o – O o (cowardly), Youthful O o
  • Zealous O o, Zen

Also: Childish O o / childlike O o

We also cover a few common false friends in this episode, so listen out for those.

False friends

  • Embarrassed o O o
  • Suburbs O o / slums
  • Sensitive O o o / sensible O o o

That entire list is available for you to see on the page for this episode on my website. The link is in the description.

Now, I read that list of adjectives pretty quickly. If you didn’t catch the word stress, or in fact if you feel you need to explore these words more slowly, you can always just check the word list on the website page … and copy+paste them into an online dictionary, where you’ll see phonemic transcriptions of the words (so you’ll know how they are pronounced, including word stress) you’ll be able to hear someone say the words, and you’ll get definitions and examples and so on.

OK, so – I always encourage you to check words that you discover in episodes of this podcast in your own time, and I refer you back to episode 720 for more information about how to do that.

OK, so without any further ado, let’s jump back into my conversation with Antony about John Lennon, and here we go.


Ending Transcript

Thank you again to Antony for his contribution to this episode.

Let me suggest again that you check out Antony’s podcast if you’d like to hear more in depth discussions about John Lennon. It’s called Glass Onion: On John Lennon and you can get it wherever you get your podcasts. I must say, it is an excellent listen.

Right, so that’s not quite it for Beatle-themed episodes. The last in the series is with Antony too, and that’s where we turn to look at the music (or should I say listen to the music?) In any case, the next part of this series is all about the music and lyrics, especially the lyrics and Antony is going to guide us through a little exploration of words and phrases in Beatles songs, looking at nice idioms, uses of metaphor and other features that you should find interesting from a language learning point of view. And Antony got his guitar out for that too, so we also get treated to little snippets of songs as we go.

So, you can look forward to the final episode in the series, coming soon.

I say final episode, there’s nothing stopping me from doing more episodes with Beatle themes in the future, and I do plan to do that actually. I’d like to do some specific song breakdowns in which I could explore the story behind a particular song, then play the song for you and analyse the lyrics. That could be great.

Anyway, thank you for listening as usual! I hope this has been interesting and useful, and I will speak to you very soon in the next episode of this podcast. BUt for now it’s time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye.

726. Describing John Lennon / Adjectives of Personality A-I (with Antony Rotunno)

Learn useful adjectives for describing personality traits with John Lennon as a case study. Episode 3/5 in my Beatles series, with returning guest Antony Rotunno from the podcast “Glass Onion: On John Lennon”. 

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and welcome back to LEP.

Here is the next episode in my Beatles season, and this is where we look at some language too.

In this episode I’m joined again by Antony Rotunno who is a podcaster and English teacher from England. Antony’s main podcast is called Glass Onion: On John Lennon and as the title suggests it is all about John Lennon, particularly his psychology and his life story. Antony’s other podcasts are called Film Gold, a film review series and Life & Life Only which is about personal development and psychology, so Antony knows a thing or two about psychology and John Lennon, and of course as an English teacher he’s well experienced in helping learners to conquer this language of English.

In this one we’re going through a big list of adjectives which I prepared earlier. All the adjectives are words you could use to describe someone’s personality. We have loads of these adjectives, so Antony and I made a list of words which could be used to describe John Lennon. It’s an ABC in fact. Now we didn’t manage to talk about every single adjective in the list, but we certainly had a good go at them, and what you’re going to get in this episode is a sort of English lesson with John Lennon as a case study.

Here are the adjectives (I’m going to read them out)

  • Consider which ones you know
  • Which ones you use
  • Which ones you don’t know
  • Which ones you don’t use
  • Word stress

Adjectives of Personality

  • Abrasive, Aggressive, Ambitious, Anti-authoritarian, Anti-social, Articulate, Artistic
  • Bad-tempered, Brave
  • Charismatic, Charming, Contradictory, Creative, Cruel, Curious, Cutting, Cynical
  • Damaged, Disobedient, Disturbed
  • Egotistical, Experimental, Eccentric
  • Fearless, Fragile, Funny
  • Generous, Gentle, Gregarious (sometimes!)
  • Headstrong, Honest
  • Imaginative, Indulgent, Inquisitive, Intelligent, Inspiring, Irreverent

I’ll let you discover which ones we actually talk about in detail in this episode. The rest of the list will come up in the next part.

Also, I’ve collected a set of other expressions from this conversation, not using adjectives of personality, but just useful expressions and examples of language you could use, and I’m planning to use that set in an upcoming premium episode.

teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo if you want to sign up to LEP Premium to get all the premium content unlocked.

Now, let’s consider John Lennon’s personality, things he did and said in his life and try to work out what kind of person he was, with a few useful adjectives in the process.

Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

Ending Notes

Thank you again to Antony. 

We will be back in the next part of this series. I’m not sure when that’s going to arrive. 

It might be the next episode, or it might arrive in a short while.

Let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

Don’t be a ninja. 

If you were a ninja and then you left 1 comment, and went back to being a ninja, you’re 2nd level ninja now, ok?

1st level ninjas are the ones who never comment

2nd level ninjas are ones that commented and then disappeared

You don’t want to know what makes a 3rd level ninja.

I will speak to you soon but now it’s time to say goodbye…

722. Discussing John Lennon with Antony Rotunno

The second in a short series about The Beatles, this one focuses on the life of John Lennon, with an overview of his life story, some thoughts about his psychology and some rambling discussion questions about this iconic British musician, with podcaster, English teacher and musician Antony Rotunno.

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Links to Antony’s Podcasts

Glass Onion: On John Lennon

Film Gold

Life and Life Only

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, I hope you’re doing well today and that you are ready for this new episode of my podcast. You join me here in my pod-room as the rain falls down above my head. Conditions are perfect for learning British English. Let’s get started.

This is a continuation of this short series of episodes I’m doing about The Beatles and this one focuses mostly on John Lennon. If you’ve ever wanted to know more about this iconic British musician then this episode is for you. Also, if you’re already a Beatles fan or a John Lennon fan then I’m sure you’ll be glad to hear this conversation too.

My guest for this episode is Antony Rotunno from England and Antony is very knowledgeable about John Lennon and his life. In fact I feel like I couldn’t have found a better person to talk to about this subject.

One of the reasons for that is that Antony is also an English teacher. He’s been teaching English as a foreign language to adults for over 18 years, and for obvious reasons it’s always useful to have a guest who has experience of working with learners of English.

Antony is also a podcaster so he is used to talking to audiences over the internet from his home in England. Antony’s podcast is all about John Lennon.

And he probably knows all there is to know about John Lennon because he’s read everything out there on the subject and for his podcast he has interviewed lots of people connected to Lennon, including authors and people who actually knew John himself – people with first-hand accounts of meeting him.

So Antony really knows a lot about John Lennon.

And we had a really good, really long conversation for this podcast, covering various things like John Lennon’s life story. This is the first part of that conversation.

Let me just explain my reasons for doing this series of episodes about the Beatles. I probably don’t need to explain this, but allow me to give my reasons.

So, this is a 5 part series actually. I published the first part with my mum in episode 717, which was a review of a book about The Beatles, followed by a general Beatles ramble.

The rest of the series will be this conversation I had with Antony divided into 4 parts. But it’s not just going to be us rambling on about Lennon for all that time. I’ve also decided to employ some of Antony’s English teaching skills in order to cover some language too, specifically in parts 3, 4 and 5 of this series as we focus on descriptive adjectives for describing personality traits, and then some analysis of the lyrics from Beatles songs, with various nice phrases and idioms to learn. So there should be plenty of English learning opportunities to take from this whole series.

John Lennon is a hugely significant person in terms of modern history, and of course being English he is very much part of our culture, and as we move forwards in time it seems that the significance of the Beatles and everyone’s interest in them is not waning. If anything, they continue to grow in stature. 

And even if you’re not into the Beatles, hopefully this can be a chance to learn some new things about this band that is held in such high esteem by so many people.

I promise you – I’m willing to say I promise you here, that if you listen to this, you will know more about John Lennon than before you listened to it.

And if you’re wondering when we’re going to get to the music, part 5 will be all about Beatles lyrics and there will be some guitar playing as well.

First we will get to know Antony a bit and ask him about his podcasts, and then you’ll hear him talk about how he got into The Beatles and John Lennon in particular, then Antony is going to give a brief overview of John’s life and career and finally I’m going to ask Antony a few John Lennon discussion questions.

Let’s get started.

Ending Transcript

So that was episode 2 in this 5 part Beatles mini series, all about John Lennon.

Thanks again to Antony for his expertise. 

The other John Lennon episodes will follow over the next few weeks.

Do you feel that you know more about John Lennon than you did before you  listened to this?

I hope so.

I wonder what new things you learned from this. Feel free to leave your comments below.

I won’t say much more here, except that it’s been really interesting to talk to Antony and I look forward to the next few episodes in which we go into teacher mode and look at some descriptive adjectives and then song lyrics.

But that’s it for this episode. Thanks for listening. Be excellent to each other and I will speak to you soon.

717. Gill’s Book Club: “One Two Three Four – The Beatles In Time” by Craig Brown

Talking to my mum about a book which you could read as part of your English learning routine. The book tells the story of The Beatles and their impact on society. We review the book and then discuss many aspects of The Beatles story, especially the four Beatles themselves.

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Introduction Notes & Transcriptions

Hello listeners, and welcome to the podcast. 

This is a new episode of Gill’s Book club and I’m talking again to my mum, Gill Thompson about a specific book which you might want to read as part of your English learning routine. 

Hello Mum, how are you? 

Introduction

The book this time is all about The Beatles, which is a band from England that you *might* have heard of.

You could read this book, and if you did I’m sure you would learn plenty of things both in terms of language and general knowledge, but there’s no pressure to do so. If you like, you can just listen to this conversation with my mum and hopefully this will be interesting and useful enough on its own. 

But if you are looking for a good book to read in English, then this one could be a good choice, and hopefully this conversation will help you to understand the whole thing a bit more, which in turn should help you pick up more English from it. So, my advice is: listen to this conversation with my mum and if you’re inspired, get a copy of the book and read it, or if you prefer, just listen to us without feeling any pressure to read the book at all. Hopefully this will still be enjoyable and interesting even if you haven’t read the book and have no plans to do so.  

Over 700 episodes and 12 years ago, in the 3rd episode of this podcast, I interviewed my mum about her memories of seeing The Beatles performing live on stage in the 1960s, which she did, twice. 

Now, we’re going to talk about the band again, this time focusing on a book which is all about the Beatles phenomenon and their place in history. The plan is to review the book as a text for learners of English, and then have a deeper discussion about The Beatles. 

You probably know that I’m a big fan of The Beatles and grew up with their music, as my parents were (and still are) fans too. For years I’ve been thinking about doing more episodes about The Beatles story, and mentally preparing myself for it, but I have never actually got round to recording anything, mainly because the topic is just too big and there’s too much to say! But finally I have actually recorded some episodes that might scratch the surface of this topic a bit, and hopefully will give you something insightful and interesting to listen to, whether you are a fan of this band or whether you know almost nothing about them at all. 

So this is going to be the first in a series of episodes in which I talk about Beatle-related things. There’s this one with my mum and then a few episodes with another guest who is an English teacher and something of an expert on The Beatles, and John Lennon in particular.

So, Beatle episodes are coming. I suppose, for some of you, episodes about The Beatles are like busses. You wait ages for one and then loads of them arrive at the same time. 

And by the way, I am certainly not forgetting the main focus of this podcast, which is all about helping you learn English. I think The Beatles can help you learn English, reading is very important in learning English, and so why not do some reading about The Beatles? 

Plus, later in this Beatles series there will be some language-focused episodes, using The Beatles as a context – focusing on some specific descriptive vocabulary and also some analysis of the Beatles’ song lyrics.

Maybe you’re not a fan of The Beatles. This is fine. I’m not going to try to convince you that you should like their music. That’s a matter of taste. But I do think that their story is something else entirely. I think it is hard to deny the fact that the story of these 4 individuals, the things that happened to them and the impact they had on the world – this is all simply fascinating. It’s an epic story. So, even if you don’t like the music, I hope you stay just for the story.

Now, let’s start this episode of Gill’s Book Club, talking about a recently published book about The Beatles.

LengthIs it a long book?

It’s long (642 pages) but the chapters are short, so it’s possible to read it in little chunks.

It’s available in audiobook and Kindle versions.

Appropriacy for Learners of English

The language is modern and plain in style. It’s quite literary of course, because it is a book and not a screenplay or something, but generally speaking it is clearly written and should be readable for learners with an Upper Intermediate level or above, although there will be some difficult words of course, but that’s good. I would say that overall the style is modern, neutral and definitely the kind of English that I would recommend as a good model of English for my listeners.

The short chapters make the whole thing quite easy to digest. It’s in bitesize chunks.

You can dip into it and you don’t necessarily have to read it in order. It’s almost like a collection of essays.

Audiobook version

The audiobook version on Audible is good – different voices and voice actors doing different accents, including pretty good impressions of the main people involved.

Why is it called “One Two Three Four”?

This is the first thing you hear on the first song on side 1 of The Beatles’ first album “Please Please Me”, released in early 1963 – You can hear Paul McCartney counting the band in at the start of the song by saying “1, 2 , 3 , 4”. Also, there were four Beatles, so…


Ending

So there you have it, after more than 700 episodes I finally returned to the topic of The Beatles with my mum and I think it’s fair to say that we went into quite a lot more depth than we did in episode 3 back in 2009, although episode 3 does include stuff we didn’t mention here, specifically my mum’s account of actually seeing The Beatles perform live, twice. So check out episode 3 if you haven’t done so.

Also you could check out that episode in which I asked my uncle Nic to tell us about the time he met Paul McCartney. He told the story in episode 414, and not only has he met Paul, he’s also played football with the members of Pink Floyd and hung out with The Who backstage at one of their concerts, and more. So check that one out too. Links for those episodes are on the page for this one on my website of course.

I really hope you enjoyed listening to this episode. I must admit that although I feel compelled to talk about this subject at length, part of me is concerned that this is all too much for my audience but I suppose those people who aren’t into this can just skip this stuff. It’s completely up to you. But do let me know what you think.

Remember, any time you have any thoughts about what you are hearing on this podcast, if you have responses or comments in your head as you listen, you can express them in English and I will read those comments, and so will many other LEPsters. The best place to leave your comments is on the page for the relevant episode on my website. Go to EPISODES in the menu and find the relevant episode page, scroll to the bottom and that’s where you will find the comment section. I am curious to see what you think. Any Beatle fans, get in touch. Non Beatle fans, I want to know what you’re thinking. Remember, sometimes doing this podcast is a bit like talking into the void and not quite knowing what people are thinking while I’m doing it.

I won’t talk much more at the end here, except that of course there are millions of things I wish I could have mentioned or talked about in this conversation.

We didn’t talk enough about Ringo!

There are also loads of other people and events that I wanted to mention.

I hope I didn’t talk too much.

Just in case this wasn’t quite enough rambling about The Beatles on this podcast, remember there are four (count them) four more episodes on The Beatles to come, but hopefully those episodes will be different enough to justify this series. 

Anyway, 4 more Beatle related episodes are coming up.

One is a discussion about John Lennon.

Another two are language focused and we’ll be talking about adjectives for describing personality traits.

And the last one is about Beatles song lyrics and little phrases and idioms that you can learn from them.

So it’s not just rambling about The Beatles, although that will be part of it too.

Thanks again to mum for her great contribution to this episode, and yes I am lucky to have a mum who is this cool. I appreciate that and I’m really glad to get her voice on the podcast along with my other guests.

And thank you as ever for listening all the way to the end, you are the best.

Take care, look after yourselves and each other and I will speak to you again soon. I think the next episode will be Michael from Poland.  But until then it’s time to say good bye bye bye bye bye.

716. Interview with a Pop Star from the 1960s – Megan Brady from The Applejacks

An interview with Megan Brady, who was the bass player in The Applejacks – a pop band from Birmingham in the 1960s who had a top 5 record, met The Beatles and performed on TV shows and at concerts in the UK.

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Introduction (After the main LEP Jingle)

Hello listeners. In this episode you’re going to listen to me in conversation with Megan Brady who was a pop star in the 1960s. Yes, a proper pop star. She was in a band which had a top 10 single, she was on the radio, she appeared on a lot of the music TV shows, she met loads of other pop stars of the moment including the Beatles – yes she met The Beatles, and in fact John Lennon and Paul McCartney gave her band a song which they recorded – their second single actually, the band were featured in the music magazines and no doubt many teenagers all over the country had her photo on their bedroom walls. Yeah, proper pop star stuff. So this is the story of Megan’s career in music in the 1960s.

You might be thinking – which band was Megan in? Well the band was called The Applejacks – you might not have heard of them. They’re not one of the big bands that we now think of when we look back at the 1960s, and they didn’t really reach fame on an international level but they were certainly part of the scene, and were well known at the time. My mum was a fan of The Applejacks, for example. 

Of course we know about The Beatles and The Rolling Stones but there was a whole wave of other groups from all over the UK who were playing a new form of music and so many young people were really into it, and that includes The Applejacks who were from the Birmingham area. 

The 1960s was a really fruitful period in terms of modern British culture and I am proud of that part of our history. I find it fascinating, I like the music and I like the stories of the people involved, and I hope you do too.

My guest is Megan Brady (although she was known as Megan Davies in those days) Megan was the bass guitar player in the band, and at the time it was quite uncommon to have a female musician in a group. We’re talking about the early to mid 1960s. There were female singers, but you hardly ever saw girls actually playing instruments in bands, and so that was one of the unique things about The Applejacks. 

So, yes, you’re going to hear Megan talking about all of this, as well as other details like her other career as a clinical physiologist in neurophysiology in the National Health Service (that basically involves studying people’s brain waves) and just stuff about playing the bass guitar, how she’s still working on her technique and things like that.

I know Megan because I’m mates with one of her sons, Jake – or Jacob as she calls him. I met Jake at sixth form college and we played music together in bands over the years.

I was always really impressed by the fact that his parents were both professional musicians, or had been professional musicians at various times because I was so into music from the 60s and 70s including a lot of the artists that Jake’s Mum and Dad had worked with or brushed shoulders with over the years. 

For example, I was really into Jimi Hendrix when I was 16 or 17 and I remember talking to Jake about Hendrix and he told me that they actually had Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal at their home somewhere. A wah-wah pedal is a kind of guitar pedal. Jake wasn’t bragging really, he thought it was cool too, and he just wanted to share it with me and I believed him! “Hey, you like Jimi Hendrix – check this out, we’ve got Jimi Hendrix’s wah-wah pedal at home! Come over I’ll show it to you!” Whaaat? Etc. 

Also, I went to Jake’s house one day and I was hanging out in his bedroom listening to some of his music, and his mum’s bass guitar was sitting there – a nice Fender Jazz bass – and I picked it up and played it a little bit, and Jake said to me “Oh yeah, Jimi Hendrix played that bass once!” I couldn’t believe it! Hendrix played the same bass that was actually in my hands. It turned out that Jake’s mum knew Hendrix a bit, back in the old days and he once had a little go on her bass guitar – the same one that was in Jake’s bedroom that time.

Eventually I learned more and my parents told me more about Megan and that she had played bass in The Applejacks in the 60s and they were one of the popular groups of the time. 

So that’s how I know Megan. I am friends with her son, and now I’ve finally taken the initiative to interview her on this podcast. Megan is lovely and she was happy to do this, which I really appreciate.

Vocabulary

Before we start, I need to just explain a few words that you’ll hear but you might now know. 

  • The Scouts / The Scout Association / Cub Scouts / Girl Guides / Brownies – The Scouts is a worldwide movement for young people (it used to be just boys, but these days it’s for boys and girls I think), founded as the Boy Scouts in England in 1908 by Lord Baden-Powell with the aim of developing character and responsibility. My brother and I used to be Scouts and so did my dad. What kinds of things did we do?Megan was in the Scouts and so were most of the other members of The Applejacks. That’s how they met.
  • Gang show
  • Cub mistress
  • Scout hut
  • Skiffle
  • Skiffle numbers (songs)
  • The Shadows
  • A cruise / a cruise ship / Cunard Cruises
  • The Queen Mary and the QE2
  • Top of the Pops
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital – a famous hospital in London specialising in pediatric care (medical care for children) Where Megan has worked since the late 1990s.
  • Bass guitar stuff – Just a heads up – things will get a bit geeky and specific sometimes in this conversation as we talk about playing the bass guitar, different types of bass guitar and Megan’s bass playing technique. During lockdown she’s been practising with an online bass guitar teacher called Scott Divine from Scott’s Bass Lessons. I didn’t want to cut those parts out of the conversation because I personally find those things really interesting, Megan was enthusiastic about them and so who’s to say that you won’t find them interesting too?
  • Parts of a guitar – The head, the machine heads & tuning pegs, the neck, the body, the pickups, the scratchplate (or pickguard), the pick, the bridge.
  • Fender Jazz Bass vs Fender Precision Bass

Right, without any further ado then, let’s listen to Megan Brady talking about playing the bass guitar and her story of being a pop star in the 1960s. 

And to lead us into this I’m going to play a little sample of The Applejack’s first and most successful single which was called Tell Me When, released in 1964…


Ending

Ending song – Baby Jane by The Applejacks

Thanks again to Megan for taking the time to talk to us about all of that.

You might be wondering why I didn’t get Megan to play some bass for us, which would have been really nice of course.

I didn’t want to put her on the spot, plus for us to hear it properly she’d need to plug it into something like an amplifier and connecting an electric guitar to a computer and playing the sound during a call is a bit tricky too, so it wasn’t really possible at that particular moment.

But you can hear songs by The Applejacks on Spotify and YouTube.

I’ll be sharing some bits and pieces on the page for this episode, including a video filmed in 1964 I think, of Megan performing with The Applejacks, which is a great little sample of the time and you can see her playing I think her Hohner semi-acoustic bass.

The super-long introduction that I recorded but didn’t use – you’ll find it as bonus audio in the app. I go into more details about how I first met Megan’s son Jake and also some other ramblings about The Applejacks…

Tell Me When (Their biggest hit)

Like Dreamers Do (by Lennon/McCartney)

I Go To Sleep (by Ray Davies of The Kinks)

Baby Jane

The Applejacks on Spotify