Category Archives: Ramble

775. A Rambling Chat with James (June 2022)

My brother James comes back onto the podcast for a conversation about the hot weather, tricky WordPress updates, the Obi-Wan Kenobi series, Rock Music concert movies, Alan Partridge’s live show, Irish/British relations and plenty more.

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Video Version on YouTube (try activating automatic subtitles)

Introduction Transcript (the audio version might be slightly different)

Hello listeners,

I hope you are doing fine today, and I mean that and I sincerely hope that you’re doing ok and that my podcast brings you some level of comfort.

You know my main aim is to help you with your English with these episodes by either teaching you language directly or by just providing you with a natural source of spoken English with my content, but also I hope to give you some enjoyment, and if that is any kind of remedy for the more serious and difficult things going on, then I’m glad.

Recently I was in London, wasn’t I, staying at my brother James’ place for a long weekend. You might remember that. In the episode we recorded together on the Friday, about the Royal Family, I mentioned that I was planning to record two conversations with James, one about the Royals, and another episode about whatever we felt like talking about. You heard the one about the Royals of course, but we didn’t actually get round to doing the second one.

But a few listeners got in touch wondering about the second conversation with James. It seems he has a bit of a fan club out there, which is no surprise I would say. 

So just the day before yesterday I sent James a Whatsapp message to see when he might be free to record another episode, online this time, and he immediately wrote back saying “I can do it now if you want”. 

I had about 1 hour before I had to go and get my daughter from school so I wrote back saying “Yes, great – let’s do it!” And a few minutes later we were recording a conversation, and that’s what you’re going to hear in this episode.

Now, my intention with episodes like this is to let you listen to a natural conversation in English, with all the usual features of spontaneous speaking. If you like you can imagine that you’re just in the room with James and me as we have a bit of a chat. 

Now, conversations like this, between friends (or in this case brothers) usually go in lots of different directions, don’t they? They don’t usually just stick to just one topic. They move from one thing to the other, they wind this way and that, there are tangents, serious moments, funny moments. That’s how informal conversations work. We’re rambling, basically. I mean, I’m rambling right now too. I’m rambling about how this episode features plenty of rambling. It’s like rambling on the top of rambling – or like Inception for rambling.

So, here’s a run down of the topics that come up in this conversation. I’m saying this to give you a kind of road map – as if to say “here is the main route or path of this journey today. We’re going to go here, then here, then there, then here and so on” – just in order to give you an overview of the conversation which might help your comprehension. Instead of presenting you with a slow, scripted conversation I am throwing you in at the deep end, but also throwing you a rubber ring, so you have at least a fighting chance of not drowning. 

Topics (A mix of serious stuff and not-serious stuff)

  • We start with the recently hot weather in Europe, and when that turns to the slightly depressing but important subject of the climate crisis we transition to a different subject, because we’re trying to keep it light – and we talk about what we both had for lunch and about eating habits and the challenge of eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, plus the pros and cons of eating salmon on a regular basis. That’s /sæmən/ not /sælmɒn/.
  • Then James shares what he was doing before I called him – trying to update a website using WordPress php and we talk about horrible moments when you get error messages when working on a computer.
  • During my lunch that day I was watching the new Obiwan Kenobi Star Wars TV series on Disney+ and we talk about that – just a few brief comments really. Not a full review. See if you can spot the vocabulary that James uses to describe the show.
  • This leads us to wonder about Jawas from Star Wars (side characters that appear in the SW universe), and the mystery of what they really look like under their brown hoods. Don’t worry – the SW chat is kept to a minimum.
  • Then we turn to the subject of rock music concerts and Neil Young’s live concert video called Rust Never Sleeps, which appears to feature some jawas, which is odd. 
  • We also talk about some other classic rock music festival movies including Woodstock, Rolling Stones at Altamont and The Last Waltz. So get your denim jacket ready.
  • We describe Jimi Hendrix’s historic version of the Star Spangled Banner performed at Woodstock, which also became an astounding statement against the Vietnam war.
  • We give some responses to comments from listeners on our recent conversation about The Royal Family, and also questions about why James doesn’t appear on video in my episodes.
  • James describes his recent experience of seeing the Alan Partridge live comedy stage show, called “Stratagem” at the O2 Arena in London recently. He gives a kind of review of the show and the venue, and describes a fight between two guys which happened in the bar afterwards.
  • We dissect some frogs – specifically several jokes from the Alan Partridge show featuring an Irish character also played by Steve Coogan.
  • This leads us back to more serious matters and the subject of Irish protest songs associated with the IRA (Irish Republican Army) which would normally never be played on the BBC but it happened in an episode of the Alan Partridge TV show. That was quite a surprising and fairly significant moment in the history of the BBC. You might learn a little bit about Irish and British relations there, and you can hear a clip of an Irish accent too.

There are some other bits and pieces too, but I’ll say no more here in this introduction. I think that’s probably enough. I hope you can keep up with the conversation – I will chat to you again a little bit at the end, but now, let’s chat to James, or as my daughter calls him: Jamie.


Ending Notes / Script

Thanks again to James. If you want to buy him a pint by the way, or just to show your appreciation or support – the best way is to visit his page on bandcamp.com and buy some of his music. jimthompson.bandcamp.com/ YOu know what, don’t tell anyone, but you might be able to see a photo of him there. And while you’re doing that, check out his music. He makes mostly electronic music, some ambient, some techno, some hip hop. You can buy his music and most of the money (if not all of it) will go directly to him. You can support him like that and also you can get some of his “choons” too, which are getting better all the time by the way. jimthompson.bandcamp.com/ 

I’m going to ramble now for some minutes. 

Some changes to premium content and how it is delivered to you.

If you’re wondering why it’s been a while since I uploaded new stuff, it’s because I am working behind the scenes to make a few changes to the way I deliver premium content to you. I have also been making a series of premium episodes but I’m holding onto them until I know exactly what is happening. That is the storytime series which I’d been meaning to do for ages. I finally got down to it and wrote about 15 stories – all true stories from my life, which I can use to teach you grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation. That’s coming up on LEP Premium. Don’t worry, I am still working on that and have no intention of stopping or anything. 

Remember if you need any information about your premium account – any questions about it, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo because I have put answers to all the frequently asked questions about the premium sub there.

I also just want to say to all of you – especially the premium subscribers and people who have donated but also to those of you who listen until the end of episodes like this and leave comments and so on – thank you for supporting my show. There are always so many episodes I want to make, things I want to say and do – including different topics, different techniques, more language-focused content, returning guests, new guests – and all the things that people often request or suggest. 

There are only so many hours in a day and days in the week though. It’s tricky to do everything – and I don’t want to overload you or myself.

These are not complaints I am making by the way – nor are they excuses. I’m just attempting to have a bit of transparency here at LEP.

It’s hot! It’s now the day after the day after I recorded this conversation with my brother. It’s Friday late afternoon as I record this and the current temperature is 34 with a “feels like” temperature of 36. So it’s 36 degrees basically. I’m flippin hot, but my pod room is not too bad. The podcastle withstands the heat quite well and I don’t get any direct sunlight in my window which helps. Another thing that helps is that if I open a window in the corridor outside my room, and open the window in my room (of course) and then prop open the door of my room just a bit (if I keep it ajar by propping it open with an object – in this case a retro plastic skateboard) then I get a slight breeze blowing through the room and this really helps to keep me cool. That’s a little tip I picked up in Japan. It’s common sense of course, but it was one of the little things I used to do to try and deal with the hot summer weather there. Always try to keep the air circulating if possible, by giving the air somewhere to come from and somewhere to go. Oops, nearly got back into cotton eye joe there. Sorry for the earworm listeners.

OK, that’s enough now. I hope you’ve enjoyed this episode. Leave your comments about these things:

  • The Obiwan Kenobi series – do you agree with James and me that it’s lacklustre, or not? 
  • Do you always get your 5 portions of fruit and vegetables a day, and how?
  • How is the weather where you are and how do you manage to cope with it? Do you have any good tips for keeping cool? Maybe you just have air conditioning, but what if you don’t?
  • What is your favourite rock concert film? We mentioned Neil Young, Rolling Stones at Altamont, The Last Waltz and Woodstock, but there are so many others. Which is your favourite? Maybe you’ve never seen one. Actually, my all-time favourite concert film is probably Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. Amazing film. 
  • That’ll probably do actually!

Have a nice day, night, morning, evening etc, keep cool and I will speak to you soon.

Videos

Jimi Hendrix – “Star Spangled Banner” at Woodstock

Santana – “Soul Sacrifice” at Woodstock

Alan Partridge meets his Irish lookalike Martin Brennan (This Time With Alan Partridge, BBC1)

Alan Partridge talks to Martin Brennan during the live “Stratagem” show

By James a pint and listen to his music – jimthompson.bandcamp.com

772. Rambling in the Podcastle (June 2022) News / Thoughts / Reflections

This is an unedited monologue in which I talk about some things which are on my mind at the moment, including how my hair is stopping me from learning French (and vice versa), virtuous and vicious circles, how English is like a shark (or a river – or maybe a shark in a river), some comments about recent episodes and a visit from a friendly bat at my podcastle.

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Video Version (try activating the automatic subtitles)

Some vocabulary extracts

I have been deliberating about which microphone to choose

Geeky microphone chat

I have a plethora of microphones

People who have just stumbled across this and are wondering what this is all about

Perhaps you’re in transit somewhere, maybe you’re doing some housework, maybe you’re listening to this in a classroom while your teacher takes a well-earned break, or maybe you are lying in a floatation tank or in zero gravity in the international space station

Stick with me, and enjoy being a LEPster

Here’s a run-down of some of the things I’d like to talk about.

  • How my hair is stopping me from learning French, and vice versa – how my French is stopping me from getting a hair cut (virtious and vicious circles)
  • How my summer is looking, what my plans are and what that might mean for the podcast (busy – difficult to record podcasts in July and August – what’s new?)
  • Thoughts on recent episodes like Sick in Japan and Spinal Tap
  • Some metaphors and similes for language learning and teaching
  • That’s probably plenty!

I’ve been just sweeping it (my hair) back over my head

Maybe I’m being a bit precious about this but I can’t help feeling self-conscious

Taking initiative is very important but it can be hard. 

It can just be taking the initiative to speak, to make an effort to communicate with someone, to risk looking a bit stupid, going out of your comfort zone.

But if you take that tiny little risk, it can pay off in various ways.

You need to keep the English moving through you like a river or the water of your English will become stagnant. We all know this.

But without that little impetus to speak, you won’t do it.

If you don’t take initiative, you don’t put yourself into situations in which your confidence can develop.

Starting a virtuous circle is a matter of taking small steps in the right direction.

Micro-decisions or micro-steps.

Now I have to go out of my way to walk to the hairdresser.

Some people commented that the crowd were quiet.  Well-behaved maybe. 

I should have:

Hyped the crowd up more

Done more stand up at the start

Warmed them up by getting them to make noise. 

“French people make some noise!” Etc

I should have done more crowd work.

Spinal Tap – maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but at the end of the day I am the one who decides what happens in these episodes.

I find that with my learners it’s not just listening skills or vocabulary, but just “being on the same wavelength” and that includes things like little references to culture, or just having a certain sense of humour.

It’s also important that I do stuff that I am personally invested in, or this whole thing just won’t happen. So there.

I love teaching but sometimes I get a bit frustrated because it can be a bit like banging your head against a wall.

You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.

770. Boats & Murder (but mostly murder) with Moz

An episode with my friend Moz from the Murder Mile True Crime Podcast. Moz returns to tell us some true stories of crimes in the London area. Expect some smalltalk about living on a boat, some murder stories and an interactive detective game in which we have to solve a murder.

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English Comedy Show in Paris (20 mins of stand up comedy by Luke) www.panameartcafe.com/shop/stand_up/paname-english-comedy-night/

The Murder Detective Story (and advert for Penguin books)

www.penguin.co.uk/articles/children/2018/murder-most-unladylike-quiz.html

Murder Mile True Crime Podcast

www.murdermiletours.com/podcast.html

767. Amber & Paul in the Podcastle

Two hours of PodPal action for your enjoyment. This one has a bit of everything. Some audience questions, an idioms game, some dodgy jokes, accents, impressions and more. Video version available.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome to the podcast.

I’ve got a full two hours of Amber & Paul lined up for you here. Actually, it’s about an hour and twenty mins of Amber & Paul and maybe 45 minutes of just Paul as Amber had to leave to pick up her kids.

There’s a bit of everything in this one. It’s just the usual rambling from the podpals but we answer some listener questions, do a few accents, tell some stories and dodgy jokes and Paul and I play an idioms game at the end. It’s a pretty goofy episode which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. There is a video version on YouTube as well.

Just an announcement for any LEPsters in the Paris area. I am doing a live podcast recording and storytelling show at the British Council on 19 May at 7pm. It’s free, everyone’s welcome and all you need to do is sign up to reserve a seat. All the details are available at www.britishcouncil.fr and then click on EVENTS or événements. I’ll be telling the story of how I ended up in a Japanese hospital scared out of my wits. It’s a story of culture shock, comedy and misadventure. If you can’t come, you should be able to listen to it on the podcast, if the recording comes out ok and the show isn’t a complete flop!

Right, so let’s get back to this podpals episode. I want to point out a stupid slip that I make right at the very start. I wanted to say “Hi, I’m Luke and I need a haircut” but for some reason it came out “Hi, I’m Luke and I’m need a haircut”. I suppose it just shows that native speakers make language errors from time to time, although this was more of a slip than an error. A slip is when you make a mistake even though you know the rule. It just comes out wrong accidentally. An error is when you make a mistake because you don’t know something about the language.

Anyway, I will let you enjoy my language mistake and then settle into over 2 hours of Amber and Paul in the podcastle.

765. Travelling Stories / Reverse Culture Shock (with Martin Johnston from Rock n’ Roll English)

Martin joins Luke to talk about moving back to the UK, his fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees and some funny stories about travelling experiences.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

In this episode I am talking to Martin Johnston from the Rock n Roll English Podcast. Do you know the Rock N Roll English Podcast? This is where Martin and his Rock N Roll friends and family do podcasts for learners of English that are unfiltered and frequently involve discussions of taboo subjects, but also plenty of other stuff as well. It’s very funny and bound to be good for your English and general cultural knowledge. Martin featured me in episode 250 of RnR English and we talked about what it’s really like being an English teacher with a podcast. That was a funny chat with lots of memories and funny moments. Episode 250.

In this episode though, we’re going to have a rambling chat about moving to different countries, Martin’s fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees and then some stories of travelling and getting stuck in tricky situations while abroad.  

Martin has recently moved back to England after living in Italy for a number of years, so I thought I would ask him about his experiences of feeling like a foreigner in his own country, and some of his culture shock experiences both abroad and at home. Because this is a thing – reverse culture shock. When you feel like a foreigner in your own country after living abroad for a long time.

Martin has also recently launched a fundraiser for Ukrainian refugees. Basically it is a learning pack with 25 stories, and transcripts and exercises. All the proceeds go to help Ukrainian refugees. You can find out more at www.rocknrollenglish.com/stories 

So this is a very good cause. We know that several millions of people have been forced to flee their homes as a result of this war, invasion, operation – whatever you want to call it. This violence and aggression has separated families and made civilians homeless as well as killing thousands. This is a horrendous thing to be happening on our doorstep and so the least we can do is try to provide support in some way, so I call upon all of you to go ahead and get that PDF with those 25 stories and all the money will go towards helping these refugees. Martin talks about it  during the episode if you want more details. But let’s help out some fellow citizens of LEPland here. Plus, of course, you get tons of stories with audio versions and everything. It sounds like a win win to me.

So we chat about the project a bit, which is all about learning English with stories and this then leads us to have a story-off. This is a sort of battle of stories where Martin and I trade different anecdotes and we see who comes out on top. So there are 4 or 5 funny stories of travelling experiences we’ve had, in the second half of this episode. I hope you enjoy them.

That’s it for the introduction. There is a video version on YouTube. Don’t forget to smash that like button.

I should say there is some fairly explicit content in this episode, which means fairly graphic descriptions of things like nudity, sex and bodily functions, which is completely normal for an episode of Rock n Roll English to be honest.

I’ll speak to you again briefly at the end, but now, let’s get started.


Ending

So there you are, that was Martin Johnston. I hope you enjoyed our stories.

Don’t forget, if you want to get that pack of 25 stories by the RNR English family, go to www.rocknrollenglish.com/stories It costs just 10dollars or pounds, and all the proceeds go to help Ukrainian refugees.

This is obviously a very good cause as so many people have been displaced, made homeless and so on and these people need our help.

If you enjoyed our stories in this episode, you could check out some of the episodes with those stories told in full. 

Check out 118 Sick in Japan (although I should be doing a live version of that next month) and also Holiday in Thailand 

or A Rambling Chat with Moz for more of the spa story

763. Rambling in the new Pod-Room / Choose The Adverb / Deal or No Deal

This is a chance for me to just let loose and have a ramble while inviting you to this kind of housewarming party (or perhaps just the first part of the party) in my new pod-room. In this one I am going to welcome you into the new room and do a ramble challenge in which I am restricted to only talking about things inside the room, plus reading from some random books on my shelves. Grammar rules, adverbial collocations and a game show story.

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Episode Notes

Private Lessons with British Council English Score Tutors www.teacherluke.co.uk/english Episode page

LEP Premium www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

LEP T-Shirts & Merch www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch

Rules of the Ramble

  • Welcome everyone to the pod-room.
  • Give a tour.
  • I’m restricted to only talking about things inside the room.
  • Maybe describe some of the items on the walls and pictures.
  • Include some descriptive language.
  • Pick up a book and do a random exercise from it.
  • Keep talking without pausing or saying “errr”.

Contents

  • 00:00:00 Hello
  • 00:00:52 Promo
  • 00:02:30 Introduction
  • 00:03:44 Ramble Rules
  • 00:05:26 Welcome to the new pod-room
  • 00:05:42 The Electricity & Internet Situation
  • 00:10:37 Sound Recording Setup
  • 00:17:01 Let me show you around the room
  • 00:22:32 The desk
  • 00:24:30 A Book from the `Bookshelf
  • 00:25:17 English Grammar in Use by Ramond Murphy
  • 00:25:38 Present Perfect Simple vs Continuous
  • 00:27:04 Build Your Vocabulary 3
  • 00:27:31 Choose The Adverb
  • 00:47:23 Lighting
  • 00:49:25 Random Book: Jon Ronson – Lost At Sea
  • 00:51:01 Deal or No Deal story
  • 01:00:48 Ending

759. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans

Join me as I walk around my local streets in Paris, go to the laundrette and ramble about what’s going on in LEPland at the moment.

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Other podcast recommendations

Some other things you could listen to while waiting for new episodes of LEP.

Film Gold: Monty Python & The Holy Grail

I was invited by Antony Rotunno onto one of his podcasts last week to discuss this British comedy classic.

My appearances on ZEP and RNR English at the end of last year

Episode 759 – Notes

I thought I would quickly record an episode to let you know that I’m still alive, LEP still exists, and I just want to give you a bit of an update on what’s going on and have a bit of a ramble.

I have other episodes in the pipeline and I was hoping to upload one of them this week, but for one reason or another, that’s not going to be possible so I’ve decided to record this one quickly and upload it quickly.

Again, I’m just recording this on my handheld recorder but I’m not at home because I can’t record at home, so I’m just in the street, reading some notes from my phone. 

Why aren’t you recording this at home Luke?

There are guys working on the flat above ours now.

We are now experiencing what our downstairs neighbours experienced when we did work on our place.

Our flat and the flat upstairs were sold at the same time. 

etc…

You can just imaging you are hanging out with me (in the streets of Paris) while I’m recording this. I’m just going walk around the neighbourhood while recording, trying to avoid noise, and trying to avoid the weird stares I might get from people in the street. 

It’s been more than 3 weeks since I uploaded an episode and this is only the 4th episode in about 2 months I think. 

I told you that the podcast would be delayed and disrupted, right? So it shouldn’t be a surprise. 

Why haven’t there been any episodes for almost a month?

Time flies!

Time races by.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)

I always wondered what John Lennon meant by that.

I guess he is expressing a kind of paradox that many of us live with.

While making plans for the future, real life just happens in the meantime, day by day, moment by moment. 

We aim for the future, we set our sights on things we would like to achieve, and make plans for those things.

But the fact is, life is really lived in the present, and while we are making plans, life just continues to happen to us in the present moment. 

I guess he is saying that we mustn’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the moment.

I suppose for me at the moment, I mean that while making plans for this podcast, mainly the space in which I’m going to record it, real life has just been happening day by day. 

In fact, real life and the day to day tasks and challenges of it have been dominating my time recently, preventing me from being able to actually get to do the things I have been planning.

I’ve had a goal in mind for ages – sitting in my new podcast room which is more or less ready, with all my stuff arranged in a fairly tidy way (things on shelves, in drawers, guitars on walls, pictures or posters on the walls, a working internet connection, a decent desk, a comfy chair (which I might spend most of my life sitting on) the right kind of lights, a kettle, a backdrop for videos that looks pleasing to the eye, a computer which actually works and which allows me to record and edit audio and video properly, and so on and so forth, a kettle and cups of tea, another chair or two for guests… you know) but that goal or vision just keeps getting put back and put back.

Why? I can’t really even explain it – just general stuff has been getting in the way. I think a lot of people manage to move house and get back to their normal lives quite quickly, but this just seems to be taking ages and it’s because of lots of little things.

Here are some reasons why things are taking so long.

My daughter got sick with covid and I had to stay at home to look after her. My wife was also sick at the same time (not covid, mysteriously) and so I was off work looking after them. That was a week.

Teaching at the BC three mornings a week.

Wednesday afternoons with my daughter.

Not a massive amount of time. Normally it’s enough – in normal conditions, but these aren’t normal conditions.

I got sick – a couple of times actually. The first was a virus (not covid-19 – maybe covid-18 or one of the other covids). The second was a really bad back which caused loads of discomfort and a migraine. I couldn’t move, basically! Probably because of general stress but also the fact that I hadn’t sat on a comfortable chair for weeks. No sofa.

Washing machine delivered, but then broken – laundrette

Meeting with guy to fit radiators

Meeting with guy to get quotes for lots of other stuff at home, like making fitted shelves (beyond my skills) and other bits of carpentry

Meeting a guy for a quote for electricity at my office

Meeting guy who came to connect internet

Many other deliveries and things

The list goes on!

Now it’s the school holidays and we’re travelling tomorrow to the UK.

I might be able to record an RT Report or a Gill’s Book Club or something with my brother, but equally, I might not. Maybe we’ll just want to relax and have a holiday. I don’t know. I will see. 

Oh, and there are guys working on the flat upstairs, and guys working on the building opposite us. It’s like the entire city is under construction at the moment.

This is just what is going on in my small corner of the universe.

I am not complaining at all. I have a nice life and I’m very happy. But I’m feeling quite impatient and a bit frustrated at not being able to do the things I would like to do, and the fact that my goal keeps slipping further away from me. I will get there eventually! It’s like being in a car and using GPS, and the arrival time keeps changing and getting later and later as the GPS recalculates your route with delays and traffic and so on.

So, basically:

Bear with me

Hold on

If you’re impatient – hang in there

It’s a bit interminable – all this waiting around

But good things come to those who wait.

The podcast will be back again, properly, and I will be recording, producing and publishing audio & video episodes and premium episodes at the usual rhythm soon.

Maybe this is a good chance to catch up on episodes, or listen to episodes from the archive…

Speak to you on the podcast soon!

757. Setting up my new Pod-Room / DIY (Do It Yourself) Vocabulary & Expressions

Describing how I am setting up my new pod-room with a couple of stories and plenty of vocabulary for talking about DIY and doing improvements to your home. Vocabulary list available.

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Episode Notes & Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome to LEP#757. In this one I am going to talk to you about how I am setting up my new podcasting room (is it an office, is it a studio?) and I’m going to teach you some vocabulary related to doing practical work with your hands at home.

Just before we start I just want to say hello properly to everyone in LEPland and deal with a little bit of podcast admin. 

Hello

I hope you’re doing well. It’s been over 2 weeks since I published the last episode because of the house move (I moved house a few weeks ago). If you’re wondering how that’s going – I’ll talk about it a bit in this episode, but let’s just say that the phrase my wife and I have been using over and over is “it’s coming along” which means we are making progress, bit by bit, slowly but surely – unpacking our stuff from boxes, setting up the new place, getting things sorted out such as an internet connection at home and the important appliances like a cooker, a washing machine etc. Things are getting slightly less chaotic every day. Also I was ill for week (not COVID thankfully) which didn’t help. Anyway, if you’ve been waiting patiently for a new episode – thanks for waiting. If you’ve been waiting impatiently, I’ll still say thanks for waiting. Things are still up in the air so I can’t get back into the usual podcasting routine yet, which means there might be another delay after I publish this episode, but when I have my new podcast room set up and have done lots of other things that need doing, normal podcasting will resume. Hopefully this slowdown has allowed a lot of you to catch up with me.

3 of announcements and bits of admin before we start properly:

  1. Premium subscribers – I am currently working (when I can) on P33 parts 3 & 4 which are turning into quite substantial episodes. Part 3 is all about word families, parts of speech and word stress patterns. That means how word stress patterns can change from the noun form of a word to the adjective, verb and adverb forms etc. (Politics – politician – political – politically, Economics – economist – economic – economically, architecture – architect – architectural – architecturally, etc) Part 4 will be pronunciation drills with full sentences, not just words on their own. So that’s coming soon to LEP Premium. If you want to sign up to LEP Premium to get all those episodes – go to teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo to get all the info. If you ever have problems with the registration process – try using other browsers, and not on a mobile phone.
  2. Spotify listeners – hello! Recently loads of my episodes disappeared on Spotify. I don’t know if you noticed but episodes 1-664 just disappeared. Well, they should be back now or soon. It was just an automatic update which changed some settings, but those settings have now been reset. So everything should be normal, the episodes should be available again and you should be able to listen on Spotify as usual. In any case you can always get all the episodes in the LEP App which you can download free from the app store on your phone (just search for Luke’s English Podcast App). That’s the whole episode archive, plus about 10 bonus episodes which are only available in the app, all the mini phrasal verb episodes, some music and videos and access to the premium content too if you have a subscription.
  3. OPP – If you’re looking for other things to listen to while waiting for new episodes of LEP at the moment, you could check out my appearances on several other podcasts. Recently several of my podcast friends reached milestone episodes and they both chose to invite me as a guest as a way of marking the occasion. Apparently I am the pod-father. First of all, Rock n’ Roll English hosted by Martin Johnston – he reached episode 250 recently and invited me on to have a chat about the ins and outs of making podcasts for learners of English and it’s a typically funny and unfiltered conversation. That’s episode 250 of Rock n’ Roll English. Also Zdenek’s English Podcast reached episode 400 recently and Zdenek invited me as a guest. I love the way Zdenek and Martin decided to pay their dues to the podfather in this way! I had an epic chat with Zdenek about loads of things including how his podcast has been inspired by mine in some ways and about the development of him as a teacher and podcaster. I think it’s a good conversation with insights about various things including what it’s like making podcast content and how confidence develops, the creative process and generally another inside look into podcasting for learners of English. Check them out – you will find links on the page for this episode. 2 other episodes of other people’s podcasts you could check out.


This is an episode about DIY – or Do It Yourself

This is not an episode about how you can teach yourself English, although I could talk about that a bit, later in the episode.

DIY is a common expression in English, meaning Do It Yourself and it relates to doing practical work at home. 

People talk about doing DIY. We say things like “I’m going to do some DIY this weekend” “I’ve been doing some DIY”, “I did a bit of DIY at the weekend”,  “I’m no good at doing DIY” “My husband does all the DIY in our house” “My wife tends to handle all the DIY because I’m rubbish at it, etc etc”. 

DIY (Do It Yourself) means all the practical work that you might do at home from time to time – the things we do in order to make improvements to our home. I’m talking about things like putting up shelves, painting & decorating, fixing things and other similar work that you do to improve your own home without having to call someone in to do it for you, like a plumber, carpenter, decorator or electrician. You don’t call someone in to do it, you do it yourself. DIY.

It’s the sort of thing you might do at the weekend. Putting up shelves seems to be the most common example of DIY as far as I can tell. Putting up shelves – that thing that seems so simple on paper, but in reality is the sort of thing that can bring a person to their knees – and I don’t mean kneeling down in order to do some work, but to kneel down in a desperate plea to the gods of (what – wood? Screwdrivers?) in order to beg for mercy because your attempt to put up the shelves is proving to be too difficult a task. What do you mean, Luke? I mean, doing DIY, for example, putting up shelves can be a nightmare if you don’t know what you’re doing. 

As I said, on paper it doesn’t seem that bad, but to do it right you have to do it properly. You have to read up on how to put up shelves, maybe watch some tutorials online, then plan a specific time to do it, go to the hardware shop or DIY shop to get all the right materials and tools. You put on some old clothes, maybe prepare an area of the home where you’re going to do your work and make sure no pets or children go anywhere near it, you get the stepladder out, and then you try and actually put some shelves on the wall, or build something or whatever, and if you’re not very good at it, if you’re not a practical person, it can be stressful and you end up making a total mess of it, and you hit your thumb with a hammer and then you start swearing and maybe break something and fall off the ladder, and have an argument with your spouse or something and then just give up and go to the pub or something. It depends how handy you are, how practical you are or not. For many of you, this isn’t a problem and the idea of putting up shelves being diffiult is laughable to you. I don’t know your life. 

But I do know, that DIY is a very common thing in life and surely this is something that unites all of us to some degree. Either because we all have to do DIY sometimes, or at least we know someone who has to do DIY and it’s just a thing that happens in our lives. Do you know all the English that you need to talk about DIY? The tools, the verbs, the specific phrases for all of it? That’s what I’m dealing with here. 

The reason I’m doing this episode right now might be obvious for those of you who are regular listeners. I have just moved into a new flat and also I’m setting up a new office/studio for myself and this is involving a lot of this kind of work. 

In fact, this is what is taking up most of my time at the moment, which is why the podcast has been a bit delayed recently. When I’m not teaching English classes at the British Council or spending time with my wife and daughter doing family things, I’m working on the flat and working the office. 

What I’m going to do in this episode, then, is:

  1. Describe exactly what I’ve been doing in the office and talk about how I’m trying to set it up as a good base for my podcast work. I’m going to describe the DIY I’ve been doing.
  2. Go through a vocabulary list of various words and phrases for talking about the fascinating subject of DIY.

Setting Up The Pod-Room

  • What is it?
  • Where is it?
  • What does it look like?
  • What does it need to be?
  • What are you doing with it?

Tell us about the shelves you put up, in as much detail as possible.

Vocabulary – DIY

Putting up shelves

  • Tape measure – to measure things (length, depth, width, height, distance from x to y etc)
  • Spirit level – to check that things are level (horizontally or vertically)
  • Pencil – to mark lines or crosses/spots 
  • A drill – to drill holes (into thing)
  • A cordless drill
  • Battery / battery pack – charge it regularly
  • Drill bits (different bits for different materials) – to drill holes of the right size / to drill (into)
  • Types of material – masonry (stone and brick), wood panels (MDF, chipboard, wood (pine, oak etc)
  • Wall plugs / Rawlplugs – to hold screws in place and prevent damage to the walls (you push them into the holes and then when you screw in the screw, the plug expands inside the hole and grips the inside of the hole, preventing the screw from falling out) they ensure a tight and secure fit for screws in material which is brittle or porous.
  • Screws – screw them into the wall or into wood to attach things
  • Nails – hammer them into the wall or wood to attach things
  • Screwdriver – to screw in screws, or unscrew screws
  • Electric screwdriver / power screwdriver – a convenient way to screw screws
  • Hammer – to hammer nails or pull nails out of walls
  • Mallet / rubber mallet – to hammer other things, without causing damage. You can use a mallet to hammer rawl plugs into the holes, for example.
  • Pliers – to hold things firmly, to grip things
  • A saw – to saw wood (handsaw, hacksaw, etc)
  • Sandpaper – to sand things and make them smooth or take off rough edges – like wood, dried filler or rough patches of paint
  • A plane – to remove layers of wood
  • File – to rub against wood (usually) and change the shape, remove layers (e.g. if a door sticks and doesn’t close properly)
  • Rags – to wipe things, clean things, dust things (remove dust)
  • Dustpan and brush – to clean up dust and other bits and pieces
  • A multi-tool – a convenient thing to help you do lots of things, including cut your arm off if it gets trapped under a rock in the desert 

Painting

  • Paint – to cover surfaces, to coat surfaces, to add colour, to make things look nice
  • Layers of paint or coat:
  • Primer – to prepare the wood by covering dark colours or patches, prevents things from leaking through (like some oil or sap which comes from knots in the wood) and makes the surface smooth (MDF is absorbent so the primer helps to stop the MDF from absorbing all your paint – it also causes wood fibres to stand up, so you can then sand them down) etc 
  • Sealer – seals the wood and creates a watertight layer
  • Undercoat 
  • Topcoat
  • Types of paint, with different appearances:
  • Matt (flat surface, low “sheen”, not reflective, harder to wash, prone to marks and scuffs, easy to add other coats without showing up brush strokes) 
  • Eggshell / satin (higher level of “sheen” than matt, easier to wipe than matt, more durable than matt)
  • Gloss (highly reflective, has a very high “sheen” level, sometimes used in kitchens because it can be wiped clean and is therefore a bit more hygienic)
  • Oil-based paint
  • Water-based paint
  • A brush – to apply paint to things 
  • A roller – to apply paint evenly and conveniently to large surfaces
  • A tin/tub of paint – the containers the paint comes in
  • Masking tape – to cover parts which you don’t want to paint, like skirting boards, windows, handles etc
  • Plastic sheets – to cover and protect the floor from drops of paint

That’s it!

When the pod-room is set up and I have a proper internet connection (and maybe a new computer) I will be doing podcasts with videos like in 2021 and you will be able to see the amazing and inspiring work I did on the shelves 😂

Speak to you soon! Bye bye bye…

756. Learn English with LEP in 2022 / A New Year Ramble

In this episode I’m going to wish you a Happy New Year, ramble a little bit about what’s going on in LEPland, restate some of my aims and objectives for this podcast, and give a few comments on how you can use the podcast to improve your English, with reference to some recommended episodes from the archive.

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Episode Notes & Links

Happy New Year everyone! (new listeners, long-term listeners, mid-term listeners and anyone else who happens to be listening)

All the best for 2022. Try to keep up your motivation for learning English throughout the year. I hope I can help. That is my aim.

How was your Christmas/New Year? Did you have a holiday? What did you do?
What’s the situation Luke, as you record this? (summarise the last couple of weeks, and what’s going on around you)

I might not be able to upload episodes regularly for the next few weeks. If LEP goes quiet – I am still here and still working, but not able to record or upload because of all the different disruptions. My life is like a puzzle at the moment and I am putting all the pieces back together.

LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST – AIMS

  • To provide a resource of authentic speech for learners of English.

Episode suggestions
All of them! Especially ones which are unscripted. 

  • To inform my audience about methods and strategies for improving their English.

Episode suggestions
174. How to learn English with Luke’s English Podcast

251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know About LEP

669. How to Learn English

  • To educate my listeners about the English language by explaining or providing examples of grammar.

Episode suggestions
Premium episodes www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo (articles, sentence structure, present perfect tense, narrative tenses, modal verbs about the past, quantifiers and more) but also a lot of episodes in the archive deal with grammar. Here’s a selection.

19. Passive Verb Forms

29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses

44. Telling Anecdotes

53. Discussing Grammar with My Brother

69. Common Errors / Typical Mistakes

176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review (should be premium really!)

263. Past, Present & Future A chance to really understand the tenses in English, with lots of context.

372. The Importance of Anecdotes in English / Narrative Tenses / Four Anecdotes This episode has a bit of everything: useful tips for telling anecdotes, a review of narrative verb tenses, some authentic spoken anecdotes by members of my family and some vocabulary explanations.

406. Grammar (Past Continuous Tense) / UK Media Bias / Brazil Football Tragedy A review of the differences between past continuous tense and past simple tense

518. Grammar Questions (Part 1) Present Perfect Continuous / Future Continuous / Language of Newspaper Headlines – Answering grammar questions from listeners, with details about verb tenses (including present continuous vs present perfect continuous & future continuous vs going to) and the language of newspaper headlines.

518b is in the LEP app – [App-only Episode] 518b Grammar Questions (Part 2) Hope vs Wish / Relative Clauses (an overview) / Prepositions

  • To enrich the vocabulary of my listeners by presenting and teaching natural English usage in context.

Suggested episodes
Check the archive here
teacherluke.co.uk/archive-of-episodes-1-149/ and try doing a command+F search for vocabulary, or search for the word vocabulary in the app.

  • To entertain my audience by producing fun and interesting content specifically targeted at learners of English as a second language.

  • To highlight particular aspects of English (language) culture including themes about Britishness, accounts of key moments in history, politics and the arts, with a particular focus on comedy and film.

Suggested episodes
Search the archive for the words British and comedy
The Rick Thompson Report, Film Club, British Comedy, Luke’s D-Day Diary, and more…

  • To raise awareness of many features of British English pronunciation and provide practice of repeating certain phrases or constructions.

Suggested episodes
All premium episode series have dedicated pronunciation episodes. Also, these ones:

224. Pronunciation: Verb Tenses & Connected Speech Learn how native speakers really pronounce sentences in different tenses.

485 & 486. Difficult Words to Pronounce in English (with Paul Taylor) (Parts 1 & 2) + video This is a double episode with two audio episodes on one page, and it’s all about difficult pronunciation in English. 

682. Key Features of English Accents, Explained – Exploring the main differences between standard English pronunciation (RP) and non-standard regional or colloquial accents. 

And various episodes about accents…

  • To keep my audience engaged in the listening process long term, by providing a resource to help them laugh while they learn.

  • To make people laugh out loud on public transport while listening to the podcast!

  • To dominate the world with an army of LEP ninjas equipped with biscuits and good English. …Ok, one of my listeners asked me to add this as an aim for my podcast, ha ha! (Thanks Chriss Benitez)

Those episodes can be found in the LEP app or via the episode archive. Most good podcasting apps will have the entire archive, but I think iTunes or Apple Podcasts doesn’t show all episodes. YouTube doesn’t show all episodes either. Only some of my episodes are on YT. I’d like them all to be there (just the audio) eventually.

HOW TO USE LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH

People from all over the world use my podcasts to improve their English, and lots of people email me to tell me how much they love the podcast and find it useful. Some of you might be wondering how you can improve your English by using the podcast. I’ll tell you more about this in a moment, but let me first recommend a couple of podcast episodes you could listen to.

Click here to listen to an episode with lots of advice and suggestions for improving your English with L.E.P. It has a transcript too. (Episode 174)

Click here for an episode called “16 things you should know about LEP”. (Episode 251)

Many people tell me they are completely addicted to the show. Usually they say that they found the podcast via one episode in particular and then start listening to all the others before becoming completely hooked. I have quite a hard-core following. The podcast won the Macmillan Dictionary Award four times and was nominated for a British Council ELTon award, so I must be doing something right!

L.E.P combines English teaching with plenty of entertaining conversation, humour and genuine insight into the culture of the English language. My methodology and approach are based on the idea that language is acquired by engaging with it in authentic form, over longer periods of time. Although this is not the only way to improve your English, listening to natural authentic speech over quite long periods of time can greatly improve your listening skills, pronunciation and vocabulary. This goes on to improve your spoken English, and your general instinct for grammar. I try to balance this approach by regularly recording episodes in which I directly teach you vocabulary, pronunciation or grammar.

Good grammatical awareness is based on instinct as much as on active knowledge of the rules of English. When you take an English exam you have to answer questions that test your knowledge and use of grammar or vocabulary. For example, consider this question:
FILL THE GAP IN THE SENTENCE WITH THE APPROPRIATE WORD
“I just can’t rely __ this car any more. It keeps breaking down. I need a new one.”

1. with          2. from        3. on          4. to

The answer is ‘3. on’, of course.
How did you know the answer? Really think about it. How did you know that ‘on’ was right? Do you remember learning ‘rely on’ in a book, or in a class? Maybe you did. But, for many of you, the answer just felt correct. Your instinct just said ‘on’. Well, this instinct is what you develop when you read or listen to the language a lot. Your brain builds up a kind of memory bank of all the words you have seen and heard. So, when you see ‘rely ___’ you automatically feel that ‘on’ is the right answer. Why? Because you’ve seen/heard ‘rely on’ lots of times!

The point is, that listening to English a lot can really help you to get a ‘feel’ for the language. You learn grammar rules by the frequency in which you hear patterns. You learn about good pronunciation by hearing the language a lot. You develop an ‘ear’ for English.

It’s just like when you live in a foreign country to learn English. It’s the best way to learn a language. Just live in that country and get completely surrounded by the language every day. Eventually you pick it up and learn it well. That’s because you’re hearing it so much and you’re getting used the rhythm and intonation. Every language has a beat. You can learn the beat of English by hearing it a lot.

So, you can use Luke’s English Podcast to do this. It’s like living in another country. You can listen a lot, pick up bits of vocabulary, get a ‘feel’ for the language, understand pronunciation and all kinds of cultural stuff. Not only that, but many listeners tell me the best thing about the podcast is simply that it makes them laugh out loud.

So, enjoy the podcasts and good luck with your English.

CLICK HERE FOR ThE ARCHIVE OF ALL THE EPISODES OF LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST.

750. An Unedited Ramble / How to talk about Being Busy in English

In this unedited episode I share some of the thoughts that have been running through my head, talk about being busy and look at some vocabulary to describe busy times in your life. Video version available.

Audio Version

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Video Version

Vocabulary Notes

How to talk about being busy in English

1. The word “busy”

Pronunciation

/bɪzi/ “Bizzy” – like “business”

Not “Buzzy”

Collocations

  • A busy time
  • To be extremely busy
  • To be busy with something
  • To be busy +ing
  • To be too busy + infinitive
  • awfully, extremely, really, terribly, very | exceptionally, particularly | desperately, frantically | a bit, fairly, pretty, quite, rather | constantly

2. Expressions for when you have too many things to do and you don’t have time for everything

  • To have a lot to do (It’s possessive have, so don’t put it in the continuous form)
  • To have an awful lot to do, to have a hell of a lot to do
  • To have a lot of things to doTo have loads of things to do
  • To have tons of things to do
  • To have a lot on
  • To have a lot going on
  • To be rushed off your feet = Always in a hurry because you have so many things to do
  • To be up to your ears/neck in work, admin, marking, assessments
  • To be under a lot of pressure
  • To work well under pressure
  • To be snowed under (with something)
  • To be swamped (with)
  • To be overwhelmed
  • To have your hands full
  • To have a lot on your plate

A busy time

  • A full day/month/year
  • Hectic
  • It’s all go (go go)
  • Things are a bit mad/crazy/hectic/Full-on
  • (to be in) a mad rush

3. Expressions for when being busy is good, because having time on your hands and doing nothing is bad

  • To keep yourself busy
  • I’m keeping myself busy

That’s all for this episode. Speak to you next time! Bye bye bye…