We’ve got a log fire burning in the background, just to create the right atmosphere. We’re feeling festive, we’re feeling Christmassy.
That’s right, it’s Christmas time again. This is the 11th Christmas that I have celebrated on LEP now.
I know that not all of you celebrate Christmas, but I hope you feel part of this anyway, because for me Christmas should be a season of goodwill to everyone, so – you’re all welcome to listen, enjoy and take part in this one.
The title of this episode is “29 Awful Christmas Jokes, Explained”.
Awful Christmas Jokes
This is Christmas so I’m using Christmas cracker jokes. Jokes that you find in Christmas crackers. So, this is an episode about Christmas Cracker Jokes, which are awful.
What are Christmas crackers, Luke?
Why do they have jokes in them? → They just do, ok?
Cracker jokes usually have some kind of Christmas theme, or at least some kind of seasonal theme like something involving snow or other festive images.
Christmas cracker jokes are almost always awful, cringeworthy puns, but I quite like that, personally.
Christmas cracker jokes are much more likely to make you groan than laugh, although if you are in the right mood, some of them might catch you by surprise and could make you LOL during your Christmas holiday or should I call that the Christmas LOLiday. Yep, that’s the level we’re operating at here.
Right, so in a moment I’m going to tell you the jokes, let’s see if you get them all. Afterwards I will explain them as well.
There is a lot of English to learn from this – vocabulary, or certain little features of pronunciation which form the centrepiece of the joke – the double meaning that makes your brain go BZZZ and then either you laugh or you just groan. Remember, if you don’t get the joke you have to say “I don’t get it”.
I got most of these jokes from a list I found on the Telegraph’s website.
This will actually be a good test of your general English comprehension skills, but also your knowledge of Christmas vocabulary. I’ve you’ve heard my previous Christmas episodes, like the A to Z of Christmas, then you’ll probably get these. But you definitely need to be on your toes regarding the Christmas vocabulary specifically. I’ll be going through all of that after I’ve told these jokes.
I’m going to play some generic Christmas background music in order to create a festive atmosphere.
Let’s see how many of these 29 awful jokes you can get.
Here we go.
Generic Christmas background music
29 Awful Christmas Jokes
What do you get if you cross Santa with a duck? A Christmas quacker
What do you get if you eat Christmas decorations? Tinsillitis
Did Rudolph go to school? No, he was elf-taught
Who is Santa’s favourite singer? Elfis Presley
What did Adam say the day before Christmas? It’s Christmas, Eve.
How many letters are in the alphabet at Christmas? 25 – there’s no-el
Why are Christmas trees so bad at knitting? Because they always drop their needles
What did the farmer get for Christmas? A cowculator
Why did nobody bid for Rudolph and Blitzen on eBay? They were two deer
What did one snowman say to the other snowman? “Can you smell carrots?”
Which side of a turkey has the most feathers? The outside
What do you sing at a snowman’s birthday party? Freeze a jolly good fellow
What happened to Santa when he went speed dating? He pulled a cracker
Who’s Rudolph’s favourite singer? Beyon-sleigh
Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas? Santa Jaws
What athlete is warmest in winter? A long jumper
What’s the most popular Christmas wine? “I don’t like sprouts!”
Why does your nose get tired in winter? It runs all day
What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire? Frostbite
What kind of music do elves listen to? Wrap
What kind of motorcycle does Santa ride? A Holly Davidson
What do reindeer put on their Christmas trees? Hornaments
What happened to the man who stole an Advent calendar? He got 25 days
What does Santa do when his elves misbehave? He gives them the sack
What happened when Santa got stuck in a chimney? He felt Claus-trophobic
How do snowmen get around? By riding an icicle
How did Scrooge win the football match? The ghost of Christmas passed
Why is it getting so hard to buy Advent calendars? Their days are numbered
How does Darth Vader like his Christmas turkey? On the dark side
So, how many did you get? Did you laugh? Did you groan? Did you say “I don’t get it”?
Let me now explain everything for you.
I said before that all these jokes rely on your knowledge of specific Christmas vocabulary, so to help you a little bit I’m going to say all the items of vocab, just as a reminder. Then I’ll go through the jokes one by one and you might get them.
Here is all the Christmas vocab in those 29 jokes. Listen to hear me explain all the items.
A christmas cracker
Christmas trees (they have needles and usually drop their needles during the holiday period)
An advent calendar
Santa (Claus) aka Father Christmas
Elf / elves
A sack (of presents)
To get something for christmas
To wrap presents
To get frostbite (not a typical Christmas thing, but it might happen if you’re exposed to sub-zero temperatures, which are also no-longer normal at Christmas)
A long jumper / sweater
A turkey (Do you like dark meat or white meat?)
Scrooge (A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – read out by me in episode 320)
Now let’s go through those jokes again and break them down
Scroll back up to read the jokes again.
That’s it! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2020!
Thank you for listening to Luke’s English Podcast!!
A conversation with English comedian BJ Fox, who performs stand-up in Japan and has his own TV show on NHK. Our conversation includes the story of how BJ managed to pitch the show to Japanese producers, how he learnt Japanese to a proficient level, doing stand-up in a different culture and much more.
Hi everyone, welcome back to the podcast. It’s lovely to be talking to you again. I hope the feeling is mutual.
Let me tell you about this episode. So, this one is a conversation with an English stand-up comedian, living in Japan. He goes by the name of BJ Fox and he’s doing really well over there. He’s one of the top comedians on the English language comedy scene in Tokyo (which is a relatively big scene in fact) he also performs stand-up in Japanese, which is really cool because it means that his Japanese must be really good – he makes audiences of Japanese people laugh a lot in his shows. He has also performed stand-up in lots of other countries, especially across Asia but also in the UK and now he has his own sitcom on Japanese TV – on NHK, which is basically the Japanese equivalent of the BBC. So, he’s got his own TV show.
Now this is quite an extraordinary achievement – to get your own sitcom on Japanese telly. BJ writes the show himself and also plays the main character. So, how did he manage this? How did he get his own TV show? I mean, a lot of people move to other countries, manage to learn the language and live quite successfully there, but not everyone ends up with their own TV show. Also, how did he learn Japanese to such a high level? What’s it like doing stand up in Japan? What’s his TV sitcom all about?
BJ has also worked in the video games industry, including time spent at the Pokemon company and at Rockstar Games. I don’t know if you know Rockstar Games. They’re the ones who produce the Grand Theft Auto series and also the Red Dead Redemption series, and in fact BJ was one of the people responsible for bringing Grand Theft Auto and Red Dead Redemption to the Japanese market.
I spoke to BJ over Skype recently and asked him about all these things.
Before we listen, I just want to mention that I have published a premium episode covering specific vocabulary from this conversation. I went through the recording, picked out lots of vocabulary and in the premium episode I explain it, demonstrate it and also drill it for pronunciation. Those of you who are premium subscribers will have access to that in the app and on the website. It’s Premium episode 18 (parts 1 & 2) and I think you’ll find that listening to that episode (either before or after you listen to this converstion) will really help you understand everything much better, it’ll help you notice and pick up certain phrases and to practise saying them with all the correct, natural pronunciation, and all of that is a great way to maximise your learning potential with an episode like this. That’s what my premium episodes are all about.
So check out Premium series 18 – which accompanies this episode. It’s already available in the app and on the website. To sign up to LEP Premium just go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium and the best way to listen to premium content is by using the Luke’s English Podcast App. If you have any questions, just send me an email through my website or through the app.
Right then, let’s meet BJ Fox and find out about his stand-up, his career, how he learned Japanese and what it’s like having his own sitcom on Japanese TV.
The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast– Stuart Goldsmith interviews some of the best comedians in the world in great depth and finds out exactly how they do their comedy.
That was BJ Fox then. I’d like to say thanks again to him for coming on the podcast. It was really interesting to talk to him.
I suggest that you have a look on the page for this episode on the website where you will find a clip from Home Sweet Tokyo, links to BJ’s website and also a link to The Comedian’s Comedian Podcast, which is absolutely fascinating for anyone interested in exactly how comedians do what they do – which is, basically, to make people laugh really hard until their faces hurt. It’s like actual magic, it’s amazing.
And don’t forget that I recently published a two-part Premium episode covering language from this conversation. If you haven’t done so already, sign up to LEP Premium in order to listen to that and maximise your English learning from this podcast. The episode covers vocabulary and pronunciation, so you can expand your range of English and sound more like a native speaker. Sign up at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium .
I’ve also recently uploaded more little premium videos with pronunciation drills. They’re short videos in which I drill some sentences, you can see me saying the sentences, I highlight some features of pronunciation like sentence stress, weak forms and connected speech, you can see my mouth moving as I say them, you can copy me and also the target sentences are written on the screen with some features highlighted like the stress and the weak forms. Premium LEPsters – there’s a heads up. Check out the latest content – it’s there in the premium category in your app, and also online at teacherluke.co.uk/premium . There should be more content coming this month.
A bit of a ramble
Basically, it’s been great to get some nice feedback from listeners. The 2 episodes with James (Oasis, Do you ever…?) have had great responses. People really enjoyed them. I am lucky to have a brother who I get on with most of the time, and we make each other laugh a lot. I’m glad if that comes across on the podcast and that you can join in the laughter too.
The Emina episode – I’m very happy that lots of you found it inspiring and also that you found lots in common with her. I think it’s always interesting to speak to people who have learned English to a proficient level, and to try to work out how they did it.
The Rick Thompson Report is always popular – people often say that this is how they get informed about Brexit. Even some of my friends who are native speakers of English listen to those episodes. The UK’s general election is due to happen on 12 December (Thursday) and I would like to record something about that after the results are in. My Dad will hopefully be up for it, but I can’t guarantee it. It depends if we find the right time to do it. December is shaping up to be an extremely busy month.
I haven’t finished the 3-part series about “88 Expressions that will confuse everyone” – the series about very British expressions and slang. I do plan to finish that. I promised you 88 expressions and so far I’ve given you 50. So I owe you another 28. Check out my maths!
Also, the episode about terrible jokes went down well, so I do plan to do more of that kind of thing. Basically, we’re going to keep on trucking here at LEPHQ. I say “we” – it’s mainly just me, isn’t it? With a little help from my friends and family of course, who join me as guests sometimes and of course the support I get from you my listeners in the form of donations (thank you thank you thank you if you’ve donated) and also just the fact that you are loyal listeners, that you recommend the podcast to your friends, leave glowing reviews on places like iTunes (LEP is simply sensational, there’s no other word for it). So thank you for the support.
Crazy strikes in France
Emmanuel Macron (the French president) is currently attempting to reform pension laws here. I don’t fully understand it, but because of this, a lot of workers across many sectors are protesting and going on strike at the moment and it looks like the strikes are going to continue throughout December, which could make life extremely difficult here. It already is, in fact. The main problem is transport, but this has some major knock on effects in other areas. Almost all the public transport is closed – The Metro, busses, train lines, trams, and in Paris that makes a huge difference because almost everyone relies on it to an extent. So this means that loads of other things are affected. Lots of people can’t get to work and it causes a lot of general chaos. For us the main problems are the creche and our travel plans at Christmas.
The daycare centre (creche) for our daughter could be closed for the next couple of weeks, so my wife and I will not be able to work like normal. We’ll have to stay at home with the little one. Now, I’m not complaining – it’s always lovely to be able to spend time with her and I can walk to school when I have lessons to teach. Also, I have some sympathy with the people who are on strike but this could seriously affect my podcast output this month because while I’m looking after my daughter I can’t really do anything else, including podcasting.
Update: Our daughter is being looked after for a few days by her grandparents, leaving us free to concentrate on work we need to do before Christmas. But it’s only for a few days – so I have to cram all my content creation into these next few days. So I will be locked in the Pod-Castle, making episodes as quickly as I can!
Luke – tell us what happened yesterday, as an example of the travel chaos gripping the city.
Also it could affect our travel plans to the UK for Christmas, so everything is up in the air at the moment. The main thing for you is that it might be difficult for me to prepare, record and upload all the content I’m planning for the next few weeks, and that includes the annual Christmas episode (which this year is going to be about Christmas jokes), perhaps one other free episode of the podcast which I haven’t worked out yet, maybe a Star Wars episode if I get to see Episode 9 when it is released here on 18 December, also I’m planning another premium audio series and more premium pronunciation videos. That’s quite a lot of content but I will be off on holiday during the Christmas period so I want to publish or prepare quite a lot of content before that, but I might not be able to do anything. We will see what happens and whether we can find childcare for the little one.
Anyway, let’s see how much I can get done in the time I have. It might just be that I have to do some late night or early morning podcasting, or perhaps no podcasting at all. We will see. But I just wanted to let you know, in case you get radio silence from LEP later this month.
But now it is time to wish you all a warm farewell until next time. Check out the LEP App if you don’t already have it, check out LEP Premium, sign up to the mailing list on the website, follow me on Twitter, have a look at the page for this episode for all your BJ Fox info and I will speak to you again soon I hope, but for now it’s just time to say GOODBYE!
…but remember the best way to listen to these episodes is by using a podcast app on your phone. That way you can listen to a bit, pause the episode and when you choose to listen again your app will remember where you previously stopped. If you’re wondering which podcast app to use, let me recommend the Luke’s English Podcast App, which contains the entire episode archive and loads of bonus stuff. Just search for Luke’s English Podcast App in the app store for Apple devices or Google Play store for Android, and yes it’s completely free. Using a podcast app means that you don’t have to listen to an entire episode in one sitting, which is the best way to listen to longer podcasts like this one.
Introduction (after the jingle)
In this episode, let’s just ask each other a bunch of “do you ever?” questions.
This is going to involve using present simple tense a lot. This is the most basic verb tense we have in English, and we use it to talk about permanent facts and habitual behaviour.
In lessons at school this tense is often taught to students at low levels because it’s a really important foundation for general English, but it tends to be a little bit dull – not the way students deal with the tense, but the way it’s presented in textbooks. Usually, materials based around present simple tense just involve daily routines, what time you normally get up, eat lunch, go to bed etc.
Students at that level lack the vocabulary to be able to talk about habits and routines in a more complex way. When they do have more vocabulary at higher levels, the course books always focus on other tenses – e.g. past tenses for telling stories about the past, future tenses for making predictions about the future, conditional sentences and modal verbs for speculating and so on.
The poor present simple tense is left with this boring reputation of just being a low-level bit of grammar which we only use to talk about what time we get up in the morning and how often we go to the gym.
So, let’s come back to present simple tense and see if we can use it to talk about slightly more unusual and fun things.
As a teacher, the main problem I have noticed when students are using present simple tense is just remembering to add ‘s’ or maybe ‘es’ (which often adds another syllable to the word – like ‘I wish’ and ‘he wishes’ for example). Often it’s just missing 3rd person forms. Like someone saying “He go” when it should be “he goes”. It’s so basic but it’s worth self-correcting if it happens.
Anyway, this episode is called “Do you ever?” and I’ve prepared a big list of unusual behaviour which I think we don’t often talk about, but which I think many of us do, or maybe it’s just me.
Now, I don’t necessarily do all of these things. They’re just based on observations I’ve made. Also, some of the things in this list were written by my brother during a conversation we had ages ago about weird little habits that we have.
Let’s see what happens in terms of the language that comes out. Will we switch to other tenses at any point? What kind of vocabulary will emerge? And do you ever do these slightly unusual things?
I’m interrupting here because, before we go any further, I think it’s necessary to say a few things about this episode in order to help you understand it all a bit better.
First of all, you should know that this is quite a silly and rambling episode and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Most of what you’re going to hear is just for fun really and I hope you enjoy it.
There is quite a lot of rude language in the episode and by that I mean things like the F word (you mean the word “Fuck” – err, yes – OKay, thanks. Just checking. Wait – who are you? Never mind, carry on!) So there is some swearing but for me that’s quite normal in an informal situation but obviously – swearing is still not a good idea in polite company or at work for example. But for two people like James and me chatting informally at home, swearing might happen and, you know – I want this to be authentic, as if you’re sitting with us the whole time. So, that’s why there is swearing.
Also, I think it will probably be difficult for many of you to follow this conversation because we talk about some very specific and quite personal things, sometimes we talk quickly because we’re in a rush to say things before the other one interrupts us, we talk over each other sometimes and the topic of conversation changes a lot as we go through each question quite quickly.
So this is definitely going to be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course. But sometimes you need a challenge!
Generally, I think I am quite easy to understand when I’m talking on my own, even when I’m speaking quickly. I just have a clear voice. But when I’m talking to friends on the podcast I think it becomes a lot more difficult to understand everything and that might demotivate you. But you need a bit of a challenge from time to time. I hope the bits that you understand will carry you through the bits that you don’t understand.
But I do want to help you understand as much as possible, so I’m now going to read out all the Do You Ever…? Questions that we answer in this episode. I’m going to read them all out now, just to give you a chance to understand them all in advance. This can make a big difference to your comprehension of this conversation.
If you have already had a chance to think about the different things that we talk about, you’ll be in a much better position to understand it all.
So, let me now go through this list of “Do you ever…?” questions and I’d like you to concentrate and just try to understand each one and then prepare to hear what we have to say about them in the rest of the conversation.
You should also consider whether you do these particular little things or not, and if you consider them to be normal, funny or weird.
Right, so listen carefully – these are the questions that James and I are going to discuss in this conversation. Here we go…
Do you ever…?
Get song lyrics stuck in your head (like an earworm)
Aim at things when you pee
Use a special system for getting to sleep
Have dreams or nightmares
Wave at people on boats
Look out of the window in a moving car and imagine that you’re running along next to the car like Mario or Sonic, jumping over obstacles, or that you’re cutting everything with a huge saw or laser as you move past
Shave your beard into a funny moustache for a moment when shaving
Talk to yourself in a different voice, when nobody else is around
Wipe while sitting or wipe while standing
Imagine doing an amazing performance in front of your old school during an assembly or something
Avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement, or live by any other superstitions
Go to the hairdressers and have a really bad time but say nothing about it
Drink loads of tea or coffee at work just so you get more toilet breaks
Smoke cigarettes because you’re bored, or decide to smoke a cigarette because you see someone in a movie smoking
Imagine what you would do if a zombie apocalypse happened right now
Count the number of steps it takes you to get up a flight of stairs or go from the sofa to the toilet
Flip something, like a remote control, in the air over and over again until you drop it
Do fake bets with yourself or your friends
Badly need the loo on the way home
Listen to songs and completely misunderstand or mishear the lyrics
Fugzi – Waiting Room
The lyrics are, “I am a patient boy. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait.”
James thought it was, “I am a pastry boy. I weigh, I weigh, I weigh, I weigh.”
Open toilet doors with your elbows
Use the back of your hand or certain fingers for touching your face, as if the back of your hand or your knuckle are ‘totally safe’
Think “that would be a good name for a band”
Fall asleep in public and then suddenly wake up because your head has suddenly moved, you’ve snored or you’ve made another noise, or your head has moved back and your mouth has hung open, or you’ve drooled out of your mouth
Throw a ball of paper at the bin, miss, pick up the ball and try again from the exact same spot as before
Eat any parts of yourself – e.g nails, dead skin or bogies
Tap your foot to the beat of other people’s music which you can overhear from their headphones, in order to show them that you can hear it (or because the music is actually good)
Walk past someone you know in the street and go to say hello, then realise they’ve chosen to blank you (to ignore you)
Not move down in public transport even though you could, because you want to save space for yourself and because you generally hate other people
Fall in love with a stranger on public transport and yet do absolutely nothing about it other than glance at them and hope they don’t notice
Add your own voiceover track to films or TV shows
Doodle particular things with a pen while you’re on the phone
Hate strangers on public transport for no reason
Put toast in the toaster, it comes up not done properly, then you put it back and then it’s burnt
Lie on your back and throw a ball or maybe an orange into the air, and fail to catch it
Walk for ages with a stone in your shoe – it feels massive, then you take it out and it’s tiny
Find everything totally fascinating, just before bedtime – especially if you promised yourself earlier in the day that you’d have an early night
That was the LEP Jingle Megamix that you heard at the end there. I haven’t played that on the podcast for a while. If you’d like to know where all those little samples in that jingle come from, check out the Jingles & Music category in the LEP App. There’s a full episode there in which I go through all the samples and explain where they all come from. It’s called “Deconstructing the LEP Jingle Megamix”.
Well done for listening to all of that. I wonder how many of you have made this far, and how many people just couldn’t handle it any longer for whatever reason, and how many skeletons there are with headphones on right now – skeletons that were perfectly healthy fresh-faced humans when they started listening to this, who slowly perished as the episode went on.
But not you – no, you made it all the way through and there’s a good chance you laughed with us, and perhaps were struck by a profound sense of shared experience when you realised that you also do some of the things we talked about.
But well done to you, in any case and I hope you also picked up some English along the way – because, after all, that is the main purpose of this whole thing, of course. I expect the lower level listeners or the more serious listeners probably stopped listening because they couldn’t keep up or because they felt that they didn’t have time. I’m not going to get into all the stuff about the pros and cons of long episodes vs shorter episodes and things like that. Anyway, the point is – if you made it this far then “nice one” and I wonder what your favourite moments were from this episode. You could share your thoughts in the comment section of course.
Let me thank James again for being on the podcast. I always enjoy our episodes together and I hope that that comes across in the recording.
Right, time to stop talking. There’s no time to mention that you should sign up to LEP Premium at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium. No time to that, but you should anyway. There are now over 60 premium items available and more premium episodes are coming, I promise. They just take quite a lot of work and preparation. But there will be more coming before Christmas.
All I’ll say now is thank you again for listening and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now – goodbye!
What’s the music at the end of the episode, Luke?
The music you can hear at the end is called Wonderland and it was produced by James on his Akai MPC2000. You can check it out (and his other tunes) on his Soundcloud page here soundcloud.com/jt-2000
My friend Emina Tuzovic has learned English to a proficient level as a non-native speaker of the language. She says it has been “a long journey”. Let’s find out all about that journey of English learning in this conversation, recorded in London just a couple of days ago.
Today on the podcast I am talking to my friend Emina Tuzovic, who is an English teacher.
For ages and ages I have been meaning to have Emina on this podcast for 3 main reasons:
1. Emina is absolutely lovely and it’s just nice to spend time talking with her, plus there’s plenty I’d like to find out from her that I’ve never really asked her before. That’s a benefit of the podcast, it gives me a chance to have in-depth conversations that often just don’t happen otherwise.
2. She is a non-native speaker of English who has learned the language to a proficient level – good enough to do a masters, a PhD, and to teach English at a very high level, to deliver workshops and seminars and just to live in the UK for a good length of time. So, she must have some valuable insights and experiences about learning English because she’s done it herself, but also about the cultural experience of moving to London and living there for what must be about 15 years at least I think.
3. She is a very well-qualified and experienced English teacher and so I am sure she has loads of insights into learning English from that point of view too, including certain areas of specialist knowledge as a result of her academic studies, including things like the challenges faced by native speakers of Arabic when they learn English. I’ve never talked about Arabic speakers of English on the podcast, so hello to all my Arabic speaking listeners (or should that be marhabaan.
As I said, it’s been quite hard to pin Emina down and interview her – mainly because our timetables are different, I live in Paris, she lives in London and she goes to bed so early in the evening. Thankfully the universe has finally allowed it to happen, here at the London School of English in Holland Park, London. This is where I used to work and where Emina still does work.
So the aim here is to have a long(ish) and natural conversation with Emina, touching on topics like learning English, cultural differences in the UK, teaching English and her academic studies in linguistics.
Every version of every language has slang and also cultural reference points that are unique to that language. English is no exception of course and because it is such a diverse language in terms of the number of different dialects it has, it is quite possible for there to be slang in certain dialects that other speakers of the same language don’t understand. For example, Americans might not understand certain things said in British English. Of course it’s also difficult for learners of English to deal with slang. It’s not normally the language you encounter in the coursebooks and so on, and yet slang is very commonly used.
So, a dialect of English like British English might be difficult to understand for anyone who wasn’t born or grew up there.
That’s what this article was all about and the 88 bits of English (either words or expressions) listed, reflect this uniquely British version of English that might be confusing for everyone else in the world.
But I am here to try to lessen that confusion with my explanations and examples.
You can use this episode series to quickly learn a whole world of slang, which will help you understand and be understood by Brits more easily.
And even if you’re not planning to get chatting to some British people any time soon, you can consider this series just to be a chance to broaden your horizons as far as the English language is concerned and learn yet more of this precious vocabulary – because vocabulary probably is the most precious stuff of all. This is the difference, often, between intermediate English and advanced or proficient English – knowing how to adjust your style of English to meet various different situations. A knowledge of slang is essential, I think, in order to know all the possible light and shade in this language.
As ever with these articles, there are always a few little words or phrases that I dispute or at least don’t know. Last time it was “dench” which neither my brother nor I use, ever. (I made several edits to the episode after initially releasing it, with some comments that my brother sent to me via text). Let’s see if there are other similar words and phrases that I don’t use, perhaps because it’s a regional thing and not said in my area growing up.
As we go through the list I will let you know which ones I actually use and which ones I don’t. If you’re using me as a model for the type of English you want to speak, you can perhaps disregard any of the ones which I don’t use. But of course you should always be listening carefully to the English language as it is used and if you spot any of these expressions being used on TV, in music, films or just in normal life then that’s worth noting.
Also, I think that sometimes I use these expressions but in a knowing, ironic way. For example, if I called someone “the bee’s knees” I think I’d be doing it largely because I like the sound of the expression, but knowing it’s a bit old-fashioned. It can be fun sometimes just to use these different expressions for a laugh as a way to add colour or humour to your speaking.
So I will also let you know if I think I use these expressions with a bit of irony.
In part 1 I did 30 of these. Let’s see if I can do the next 30 and then the final 28 in part 3.
I’m going to have to be quick, so pay attention!
Text in italics has been pasted from the original article (link above).
to faff about/around
To “faff” is to waste time doing very little.
“Faff” comes from the 17th century word “faffle,” which means to flap about in the wind.
“We were just faffing about.”
Stop faffing around. Come on, let’s go!
How much time in your typical day do you spend just faffing around?
What do you actually do when you faff around?
A “fag end” is also the ratty bits towards the ends of a reel of fabric, which are the worst and the cheapest bits of the reel. Historically, “fags” were the cheaper cigarettes made of lower grade tobacco, however, the slang has spread to encompass all cigarettes.
“Could I scrounge a fag off you, please?”
In American English it’s a gay person (very offensive word) so watch out for that. – “Can I bum a fag off you mate?”
What’s the nickname you give to cigarettes in your language?
A fag butt, to stub out a cigarette, to ask for a light, a ciggie
“She’s really fit though, isn’t she?”
When I was a kid we all thought our maths teacher was really fit.
Used to describe someone physically attractive, usually referring to their physique.
“She’s got a fit body”
Obviously it also means to be in good physical condition, like an athlete.
Which actor or actress do you think is quite fit/fit/really fit?
To “flog” means to sell something — usually quickly and cheaply.
“I’m trying to flog my old sofa. Do you know anyone that might be interested?”
What is the last thing that you flogged?
Flog It (TV show)
5. “the Full Monty”
The entire thing, with all the extras included.
After “The Full Monty” film was released in 1997, there was some international confusion over the phrase in which it was taken as a euphemism for stripping. However, “the full Monty” actually refers to pursuing something to the absolute limits.
“The full Monty” historically refers to an old tailor called Sir Montague Burton. Going “the fully Monty” meant purchasing a full three-piece suit, a shirt, and all of the trimmings.
“Our Christmas dinner had everything from sprouts to Yorkshire puddings. If you’re going to have a roast, have the full Monty!”
I’m going to go for the full monty. A full English breakfast.
I very rarely use it.
Have you ever had a full English breakfast? Did you go for the full monty? How about a Sunday roast? Full monty?
6. “Full of beans”
Someone that’s energetic, lively, or enthusiastic might be described as “full of beans.”
This phrase could be a reference to coffee beans, although these claims have been disputed.
Beans generally give you energy (and gas) so the meaning is pretty clear for me.
“Goodness, you’re full of beans this morning!”
How do you feel right now? Do you feel full of bean? Or are you feeling knackered?
Where do you want to do it? Your gaff? My gaff?
“Gaff” is an informal word for “home.”
It sounds cockney to me.
“What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got a party at our gaff, if you fancy it?”
I’d use it ironically because it sounds really cockney. It’s the kind of thing you hear in Eastenders.
Have you ever seen Eastenders?
Withnail &a I?
To “gallivant” means to roam, or to set off on an expedition, with the sole intention of having some light-hearted fun. I imagine someone skipping through a forest or a hilly meadow.
You’re supposed to stay and be a princess, not go gallivanting after pirates!
I would only use this in a kind of sarcastic way, in order to complain about someone doing other things when they should be focusing on something more serious.
Off he goes, gallivanting around the South of France when he should be at home sorting out all the problems.
A “geezer” is a man that could be described as “suave” or “dapper,” and is often suited and booted. Men from east London are also commonly referred to as “geezers.”
A geezer is a slang word for a man, like a bloke.
“That guy’s got such swagger — he’s a proper geezer.”
I use this one quite a lot although it does sound quite cockney (other regional dialects use it too). You can also say “bloke”.
10. “Give me a tinkle on the blower”
“Give me a call” or “ring me.” The phrase is sometimes shortened to “give me a tinkle.”
“Tinkle” refers to a phone’s ring, while “blower” is slang or telephone and refers to the device that predated phones on Naval ships. Sailors would blow down a pipe to their recipient, where a whistle at the end of the pipe would sound to spark attention.
“Give me a tinkle on the blower.”
I never say it.
Astounded; bewildered; shocked.
“Gob” is slang for mouth, so if you’re gobsmacked, you’re shocked to the point of clasping your jaw in disbelief.
“I was gobsmacked!”
It’s a good word which everyone should know.
When was the last time you were gobsmacked? Have you ever felt gobsmacked while watching a film or TV show, like when a character dies unexpectedly?
Not to be confused with literally being disembowelled, someone that says they’re “gutted” is devastated or extremely upset.
“I was absolutely gutted.”
It’s one of the most common and recognisable bits of UK slang, along with knackered and chuffed.
How would you feel if you got invited onto Luke’s English Podcast? Would you feel gutted or chuffed?
13. “Half past”
While Americans are more likely to say “seven thirty” or “five fifty,” Brits will more often than not refer to times in “minutes past” the hour (or minutes to). Eg, “half past seven,” and “ten to six.”
It’s unclear why Brits appear to favour analogue time-telling while Americans go for the digital format. (we don’t do it so much any more)
“It’s twenty past eleven.”
On the right hand side of the clock, it’s past (including half past).
On the left hand side of the clock, it’s to.
1:10 “ten past one”
2:15 “a quarter past two”
3.20 “twenty past three”
4.25 “twenty five past four”
5.30 “half past five”
6.35 “twenty five to seven”
7.40 “twenty to eight”
8.45 “a quarter to nine”
9.50 “ten to ten”
10.55 “five to eleven”
Sometimes these are abbreviated to “half past” “quarter past” “ten to” etc.
What time do you get up?
What time did you start listening to this?
What time do you go to bed?
What time does your lunch end?
14. “Hank Marvin”
“Hank Marvin” is Cockney rhyming slang for “starving.”
“I’m Hank Marvin” means “I’m hungry” or “I’m ravenous.”
“When are we going to eat? I’m absolutely Hank Marvin.”
I do use this one, and my wife has learned to understand it.
How are you feeling right now? Full, stuffed, fine, a bit peckish, hungry, absolutely Hank Marvin?
“Innit” is an abbreviation of “isn’t it” most commonly used amongst teenagers and young people.
You can add it as a tag question on the end of a sentence, no matter what the auxiliary verb is.
He hasn’t done his homework, innit.
He ain’t done his homework innit.
You ain’t done your homework innit.
It can also be used as a response as a way to confirm something.
“It’s really cold today.”
I think also we use “Is it?” as a way to show surprise.
“My mum won the lottery”
“Is it?” or “Yo, is it fam!?”
Sounds terrible when I say it.
I use “innit” quite a lot, but ironically, meaning I know I’m not normally the type of person who uses it and I’m kind of imitating Ali G.
16. “Leg it”
Make a run for it; run away; scarper.
“That’s when all of the lights came on, and so we legged it.”
We used to say this all the time when we were kids.
I never say this and if I did it would be embarrassing. It’s the sort of thing I’d hear from schoolkids on the bus in London.
The same people who’d say things like “innit” and “blud” or “fam”.
Something that takes a lot of effort and probably isn’t going to be worth all of the effort, either, could be described as “long.” This could be due to the lengths that the person will have to go to in order to complete the task.
Something that is “long” is probably also annoying or aggravating.
“Cleaning the kitchen is long.”
18. “the Lurgy”
If someone’s “caught the lurgy,” they’re suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms.
“She’s come down with the dreaded lurgy.”
When was the last time you got the lurgy? Did you take time off work or college? How do you protect yourself from the lurgy? What’s a cure for the lurgy?
19. Making random words past-tense to mean drunk
Brits are known for favouring a drink or two, so much so that almost any noun can be used as a substitute for “drunk.”
In his stand-up show, British comedian Michael MacIntyre said: “You can actually use any word in the English language and substitute it to mean drunk. It works.”
Examples include “trollied,” “smashed,” and “gazeboed.”
I’ve never heard or used this phrase (except the “I’m on it” part).
This colloquialism might be said by someone that has the situation under control.
“I’m on it” is definitely a phrase.
“How’s the report going, Steve?”
“Don’t you worry, Alan, I’m on it (like a car bonnet).”
Alan thinks “That would have been alright if he hadn’t said ‘like a car bonnet at the end’….. He’s going to have to go.”
“Don’t worry Alan. I’m on it!”
26. “On the pull”
Someone that’s “on the pull” has gone out, usually on a night out, with the intention of attracting a sexual partner.
“Pull” can also be used as a verb. If you’ve “pulled,” you’ve kissed someone.
“You look nice. Are you going on the pull?”
“Get your coat, you’ve pulled.”
Also: on the lash
27. “Over-egg the pudding”
“Over-egging the pudding” means embellishing or over-doing something to the extent that it’s detrimental to the finished product. Going over the top.
Basically though, it means going too far, doing too much, pushing a situation to the max, but it is said in a pejorative and disdainful way, like “Don’t over-egg the pudding Luke”.
“We get it — you’ve injured yourself. Don’t over-egg the pudding.”
Do you think they over-egged the pudding at the end of Avengers Endgame? Too many superheroes?
Rubbish; terrible, really bad. Poor quality.
“This is pants.”
“That film was total pants.”
How was the film? Pants
What about the match? Pants
How was England’s performance? It was pants
What about the pub where they showed the game? Pants
The beer? Pants
How about your pants? They’re pants.
Actually no, my pants are great. They’re the only thing that isn’t pants, my pants.
That’s ironic isn’t it, that your pants are great but everything else is pants, but not meaning great.
I think it’s because pants in general are bad, but my pants just happen to be great so they’re
The exception that proves the rule.
Yes, but I’ve never understood that phrase. How can an exception prove a rule? Surely it should be the opposite?
29. Par (diss)
I never ever use this. I’m much more likely to say “diss” as in “disrespect”. So let’s replace “par” with “diss” instead.
A “diss” is a disrespectful comment.
“Diss” can also be used as a verb, eg, “You just got dissed.” “Are you dissing my English?”
It comes from the word disrespect or disrespected.
“I don’t mean this as a diss, but did you remember to wash this morning?”
I don’t think I would use it unironically.
Are you dissing me?
A situation which has quickly evolved into an accident waiting to happen might be described as “gone pear-shaped.”
The phrase is reportedly old slang from the Royal Air Force and was used to described awry expeditions and flights.
“Well, this has all gone a bit pear-shaped.”
Simon, where have you been?
Well, I went out to buy some milk but things got a bit pear shaped and I ended up going to Area 51.
An episode about British English slang and culture, featuring expressions that Brits know but everyone else finds confusing. Here are the first 30 expressions in a list of 88 that I found on independent.co.uk. Includes plenty of funny improvised examples to make you laugh out loud on the bus.
He’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic, isn’t he?
I’m a bit of a Beatles anorak.
Bagsie the front seat! Shotgun!
4. The bee’s knees
He’s the bee’s knees.
5. Bender (go on a)
I went on a 3-day bender last weekend. I feel rough as f*ck right now.
6. Blinder (to pull a)
You pulled an absolute blinder in that negotiation.
My brother has chipped in here with a comment, saying that he thinks the most common collocation with Blinder is “to play a blinder” and I admit that he’s right. Thinking about it, I’ve definitely heard “play a blinder” more than “pull a blinder”.
A quick internet search shows us the same thing.
Collins says it’s when a sports player or musician plays something really well but it’s also applied to when anyone does anything well. For example, you played a blinder in that meeting.
Or You played an absolute blinder getting us front row tickets for this show.
OK, so let’s say “play a blinder” more often than “pull a blinder”.
7. Bloody / Bleedin’
Bloody hell Harry! Bleedin‘ Heck!
8. Bob’s your uncle
Put the bag in the mug, add hot water, then some milk and Bob’s your uncle.
We’re staying in a bog-standard hotel up the road.
Put the money in theboot of the car.
11. Botch(ed) job
You did a real botch(ed) job on that chair. It is a real death-trap. You really made a botch of that, didn’t you?
Do you need a brolly?
13. Budge up
Come on, budge up a bit. I don’t have much room.
14. Builder’s tea
I like a nice cup of builder’s tea, me.
Give us a butcher’s at that! Have a butcher’s at this.
I’m really cack-handed today. I don’t know what’s the matter with me.
You’re such a cheeky little monkey!
18. Chinese whispers
It must have been Chinese whispers.
Let’s get together and have a good old chinwag.
I tell you what. It’s absolutely chockablock out there. Absolutely chocka.
You must be really chuffed!
You dropped an absolute clanger at the dinner party.
What a load of absolute codswallop.
24. Cost a bomb
Those new iPhones cost an absolute bomb.
I am absolutely cream-crackered. I think I’m going to go straight to bed.
26. Curtain twitcher
Our neighbour is a bit of a curtain twitcher.
I’m going to make some tea. Dench. (?)
I just want to add something about the word “Dench”.
I said that I didn’t know this and that I don’t use it.
My brother reckons the word is “fake”, by which I think he means that this one isn’t really used.
He’s never heard or used it either.
I don’t know why the Independent would add a fake word in their list, but let’s just say that you can probably avoid the word “Dench” and not worry about it at all.
If you’ve heard or seen the word being used, add a comment to the comment section.
I’ve just done a quick google check and there are entries for the word in Collins (but not an “official” definition – it was added by a user) and Urban Dictionary – both confirming that the word basically means “nice” or “Awesome” but there aren’t that many entries for it.
So I think we can conclude that it is a new phrase, probably only used by a few people, particularly younger generations.
Tim’s a jolly good bloke. A bit dim though.
That exam was an absolute doddle.
30. Dog’s dinner
You made an absolute dog’s dinner of that.
Follow me on Twitter @EnglishPodcast
For me, this is British humour and music at their finest, and it's part of a European absurdist art movement that started 100 years ago, and which runs through a lot of Britain's best TV and radio comedy. 2/12
Actually, it’s 17 jokes, including some simple one-liners and a few longer story-based jokes for you to remember and practise telling yourself. Listen to Luke read out and explain some pretty awful but enjoyable word puns and shaggy dog stories, and learn some English in the process.
I wasn’t originally going to get a brain transplant but then I changed my mind.
Did you hear about the guy who cut his whole left side off? Luckily he is all right now.
I’d tell you a chemistry joke but it probably wouldn’t get a reaction.
I tried eating a clock. It turns out that it’s very time-consuming.
I am reading a book about anti gravity. It’s impossible to put down.
I accidentally swallowed some food colouring. I feel like I’ve dyed a little inside.
Did you hear about the guy who got cooled to absolute zero? He is OK now.
Asked my dad if we could turn him into a salad ingredient, but he wouldn’t lettuce.
Last night I was dreaming that I had written Lord of the Rings. My bro said I was Tolkien in my sleep.
South Korea is so much more inviting than North Korea.
North Korea is a Seoulless place.
Have you heard about the difference between a hippo and a zippo?
One is REALLY heavy, and one is a little lighter.
I used to have a soap addiction,
But I’m clean now...
Next time you’re cold, go stand in the corner it’s always 90 degrees there.
To Absent Brothers
An Irishman walks into a bar in Dublin, orders three pints of Guinness and sits in the back of the room, drinking a sip out of each one in turn.
When he finishes all three, he comes back to the bar and orders three more.
The bartender says to him, ‘You know, a pint goes flat after I draw it; it would taste better if you bought one at a time.’
The Irishman replies, ‘Well, you see, I have two brothers. One is in America, the other in Australia, and I’m here in Dublin. When we all left home, we promised that we’d drink this way to remember the days we all drank together.
The bartender admits that this is a nice custom, and leaves it there.
The Irishman becomes a regular in the bar and always drinks the same way: he orders three pints and drinks the three pints by taking drinks from each of them in turn.
One day, he comes in and orders two pints. All the other regulars in the bar notice and fall silent.
When he comes back to the bar for the second round, the bartender says, ‘I don’t want to intrude on your grief, but I wanted to offer my condolences on your great loss.’
The Irishman looks confused for a moment, then a light dawns in his eye and he laughs. ‘Oh, no, ‘ he says, ‘Everyone is fine. I’ve just quit drinking!
Some Things You Just Can’t Explain
A farmer was sitting in the neighbourhood bar getting drunk.
A man came in and asked the farmer, “Hey, why are you sitting here on this beautiful day, getting drunk?”
The farmer shook his head and replied, “Some things you just can’t explain.”
“So what happened that’s so horrible?” the man asked as he sat down next to the farmer.
“Well,” the farmer said, “today I was sitting by my cow, milking her. Just as I got the bucket full, she lifted her left leg and kicked over the bucket.”
“Okay,” said the man, “but that’s not so bad.” “Some things you just can’t explain,” the farmer replied. “So what happened then?” the man asked. The farmer said, “I took her left leg and tied it to the post on the left.”
“Well, I sat back down and continued to milk her. Just as I got the bucket full, she took her right leg and kicked over the bucket.”
The man laughed and said, “Again?” The farmer replied, “Some things you just can’t explain.” “So, what did you do then?” the man asked.
“I took her right leg this time and tied it to the post on the right.”
“Well, I sat back down and began milking her again. Just as I got the bucket full, the stupid cow knocked over the bucket with her tail.”
“Hmmm,” the man said and nodded his head. “Some things you just can’t explain,” the farmer said.
“So, what did you do?” the man asked.
“Well,” the farmer said, “I didn’t have anymore rope, so I took off my belt and tied her tail to the rafter. In that moment, my pants fell down and my wife walked in … Some things you just can’t explain.”
The British Abroad
Roland, an Englishman went to Spain on a fishing trip.
While there, Roland hired a Spanish guide to help him find the best fishing spots. Since Roland was learning Spanish, he asked the guide to speak to him in Spanish and to correct any mistakes of usage.
Together they were hiking on a mountain trail when a very large, purple and blue fly crossed their path. The Englishmen pointed at the insect with his fishing rod, and announced, ‘Mira el mosca.’
The guide, sensing a teaching opportunity to teach Roland, replied, ‘No, senor, “la mosca”… es feminina.’
Roland looked at him in amazement, then back at the fly, and then said, ‘Good heavens….. you must have incredibly good eyesight.’
During Desert Storm, an American Air Force officer met a Saudi Air Force officer. Their love of flying bonded them together and soon they became friends. One day, while making small talk, the discussion turned to family. Each expressed how much they missed their wives and children. The Saudi officer decided to pull out his wallet and show pictures of his family to the American.
When the American saw the picture of the Saudi’s family, he was shocked. “Hey, that looks like my son,” he said, referring to one of the Saudi officer’s children. “That looks just like my Juan!”
The Saudi officer explained. “About 15 years ago, I went to Mexico to drill for oil. While I was there, my wife and I decided to adopt a young boy. We named him Amal and he has grown up with us.”
The American said, “Well, about 15 years ago, my wife and I were stationed at the American embassy in Mexico City. We adopted Juan and now he is in high school. I wonder if your boy and mine are twins!”
Excitedly, both officers compared the boys’ birthdays, and sure enough, the boys shared the same day. They agreed that the two boys must be twins. Immediately, they vowed that after the war ended they would meet in Los Angeles and have a big reunion to unite the two long-lost brothers.
When the news media received word of this, they created media frenzy as they eagerly promoted the day when the boys would meet. Eventually, the big day arrived and local, national and international news outlets, as well as several hundred onlookers descended on LAX airport.
There was a festive mood in the air, and representatives from the Mexican, U.S., and Saudi Arabian governments attended.
However, to the disappointment of the assembled crowd, a representative from Saudi Arabian Airlines announced that the plane had been delayed and would be over six hours late.
Juan’s mother took the podium and addressed the crowd saying, “You might as well go home. There’s no point in waiting here.”
“Why would we want to do that?” asked a reporter.
“Well,” she replied, “they’re identical twins. If you’ve seen Juan, you’ve seen Amal.”
Practise telling the jokes until you can do it comfortably without a script!
Rambling on my own about all sorts of things including Brexit news, describing my recording setup and microphones, a book recommendation for you, comments about the Beatles Abbey Road 50th Anniversary, the latest Star Wars Episode 9 trailer and Bill Bailey dissecting music in a brilliant way.
Hello everyone and welcome back to this podcast which is made by me in my flat in order to help you learn English and also enjoy learning English too!
If you heard the last episode, you’ll remember that I was planning to play an idioms game with Paul. That’s what you’re going to hear in this episode – a game with Paul in which we have to try to include some idioms into our conversation seamlessly.
What you can do in this episode is not only follow the conversation as usual, but also try to spot all the idioms as they crop up. There are 15 in total. Admittedly, about 3 of them are explained and defined at the beginning, but 12 others are slipped into the conversation and then explained and defined at the end.
So, can you spot all the idioms during the conversation? Do you know them already? Can you work out what they mean from context? This is good practice because it encourages you to pay attention and notice new language as it occurs in natural conversation. Noticing is actually an important skill which can really help with language acquisition.
When learners “notice” new language, they pay special attention to its form, use and meaning. Noticing is regarded as an important part of the process of learning new language, especially in acquisition-driven accounts of language learning, when learners at some point in their acquisition, notice their errors in production. Noticing will only occur when the learner is ready to take on the new language.
A learner might make an error in the use of a preposition, but “notice” its correct use by another learner, or in an authentic text. This might allow them to begin to use it correctly.
It’s an important skill to develop – to be able to notice language, to identify certain bits of grammar, or certain fixed expressions like idioms, notice the form (all the individual words used to create the idiom) and the meaning. It helps you identify differences between your use of English and the way it is used by natives, and that comparison allows you to then adapt your English accordingly. This awareness of what kind of English you’re aiming for is vital.
Developing noticing skills is an important part of developing learner autonomy and your language acquisition skills. The better you are at noticing, the more you are able to learn English by just listening to audio that you enjoy, rather than going through a language coursebook which teaches you specific language items. So, I encourage you to pay special attention during this episode on idioms and fixed expressions. Obviously idioms are confusing because they’re not literal – the whole phrase means something different to the individual words being used.
About the idioms you will hear. These are all very common ones. Some of them you are bound to have heard before and will not be new to you. In a way though, if you have heard them before I’m not concerned. That just means that you’re starting to learn all our idioms, which is a good thing. Remember that you also have to be able to use these idioms, not just understand them. When you do use them, be extra sure that you’re using them 100% correct – for example you’re not using a wrong little word here or there, or perhaps collocating the phrase with the wrong verb or something.
The topic of conversation just happens to be Paul’s brother Kyle who we talk about on the podcast occasionally. In case you don’t know – Kyle Taylor is a professional footballer who plays for the Premiership team Bournemouth FC, although he is still yet to make his Premiership debut. A debut is your first game. So he hasn’t played in the Premiership yet (he’s only about 20) but he has played in the FA Cup.
Alright, so you can listen to Paul and I discussing Kyle and his footballing career, amongst other things, and you have to spot the idioms, which will all be explained at the end. All the idioms are listed on the page for this episode on the website, so check them out there if you want to see specific things like spellings, the specific form of the idioms and so on.
Right, without any further ado, let’s begin!
Remember, all those idioms are listed on the page for this episode. So check them out.
The Idioms List from this game
(to go) back to the drawing board
to mind your Ps and Qs
to feel under the weather
to be all ears
to take the bull by the horns
to save something for a rainy day
to pull your socks up
to be down in the dumps
to let the cat out of the bag
to bend over backwards
to get your skates on
to call a spade a spade
to be full of beans
not a sausage
What did you think of the episodes about the mystery game? I don’t know what you all thought of that? Did you enjoy it? Was it too difficult to follow? Give me your feedback. You can do that on the website.
Find out about Paul Taylor’s life now that he’s the father of a newborn baby. How’s the baby doing? How are Paul and his wife coping? What happened during the birth? How has Paul managed to create an entirely new 1-hour comedy show, while also moving house and dealing with the madness of parenthood? How does he feel about it all? What exactly is making him angry this time? Listen on to find out.
LEP Meetup in London (Sat 28 Sept at 6pm – Fitzroy Tavern)
Calling all London LEPsters! Following on from the success of the last meetup, there’s going to be another one in London. The date is Saturday 28th September 2019. The venue is the same as before – the Firtzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY. The time – 6pm.
The Fitzroy is a classic old London pub. Various famous writers and acclaimed people have spent time there, including George Orwell, the man who wrote 1984 and Animal Farm amongst other great work. Now it’s the location of LEP meetups in London. You can get drinks and food, Zdenek Lukas is organising it again, with his board games, and I think some of the gang from the last meetup are going to return but new people are very welcome too. There will be games, friendly conversation and laughs and a good chance to practice your English and make some new friends with like-minded people.
Saturday 28th September 2019. The Firtzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY. The time – 6pm.
Hi folks, how are you all doing? And how about you, yes specifically you? How’s that thing that’s been bothering you a bit? Has it cleared up? How did that thing go? You know the thing you had to do? Did it go ok? If you’re driving while listening to this, please keep your eyes on the road at all times. If you’re running while listening (maybe for exercise, or maybe in order to escape something, like a bear) then keep it up! Don’t stop running! If you’re walking somewhere, don’t forget the old combination – right foot, left foot , right foot, left foot etc. If you’re sitting still, then I hope you are nice and comfy. Good. Now that the conditions are right, let’s continue.
So, Paul Taylor is back on the podcast. I’ve been wondering what title to choose for this episode. I was considering “Baby Update with Paul” but I thought that sounded a bit boring and flat. I considered calling it “Down in the Dumps with Paul Taylor” but that won’t make much sense until you’ve heard the next episode. Having the right title on an episode can make all the difference. It’s the thing that entices people to actually click the play button and listen. Most people probably just listen regardless of the title, but nevertheless, the title is vital as the most direct way to market the episode to your listeners. So it is something that I find myself scratching my head over sometimes.
So that’s why, this time, I’ve gone with the most clickbait-y title I could think of. “Paul Taylor Became a Dad – and you won’t believe what happened next” is exactly the sort of title you get on those annoying online articles that you somehow can’t resist clicking on. So there it is. Now you will have to listen in order to decide if the “You won’t believe what happened next” part of the title is justifiable or not. But that’s it – the title is an experiment in clickbait and a kind of ironic joke too. Anyway, to get straight to the point – this episode is about Paul’s experience of becoming a father for the first time.
For this episode I originally had a plan to do an idioms game with Paul, which would involve us talking and trying to naturally add some idioms into our conversation, but I forgot to introduce the game at the start of the episode because we immediately went flying down the rabbit hole of Paul’s baby news. So, no idioms game – that’s going to be in the next one. And this episode is slightly shorter than normal, which makes a nice change. That’s because after half an hour we decided to start doing the game and I’ve decided to make that another episode of the podcast, which will be the next one. So, an idioms game with Paul is coming up in the next episode, which means that this episode is basically a catching up chat with Paul focusing on life as a new Dad.
You might have heard the episode I did nearly 2 years ago about the arrival of my daughter. It’s episode 502.
In that one I talked with my wife about what happened when our baby arrived, what it is like, how the baby is getting on and everything. My wife and I are lucky that we had no major issues, the baby was born healthy and happy and in the weeks and months afterwards we enjoyed the experience of having a third member of the family with us and it felt all loved up and sweet, but it’s not always like that. It depends on the child and the situation you’re in. One thing’s for sure though, having a baby is a bit like a bomb going off in your life. It can cause quite a lot of difficulty, chaos and fatigue in ways that you don’t expect.
So this time it’s the turn of Paul Taylor and his wife and I will let you listen to Paul describing his experiences of looking after their newborn, what happened during the birth, and whether it has been a fairly easy ride so far, or on the contrary – something of an exhausting ordeal.
In any case, I would like to wish them both a hearty congratulations, but let’s now find out how Paul has been getting on with it all.
Your job as ever is just to try and keep up with the chat and see if there are any new words or phrases you can spot. It might be worth revisiting some of my other episodes about having kids, especially ones in which I explain all the relevant vocab (ep162 was all about that). There’s a list of episodes on the page for this episode on the website (below).
Alright then, so without further ado – let’s find out how Paul’s been getting on.
Conversation with Paul begins – How does he feel about being a dad?
That’s the end of this part. I just want to say thanks again to Paul and to wish him and his wife well. To be honest it sounds like they’ve been having a really hard time with the baby crying constantly, which is horrible. When your child cries, it is a truly horrible feeling. It gets you right in your soul and it’s like torture. It can be very tough to be stuck indoors with a crying baby all day every day. It can drive you round the bend. I really hope it gets better soon and the two of them can start to enjoy parenthood properly.
It’s tough having kids, there’s no doubt about it. It can be horrible – but somehow the good things carry you through the bad things. I just hope they get to taste some of the good stuff soon, because there is a lot of joy in having kids. For me it got much better when our daughter started interacting with us more and now it’s very funny and entertaining trying to have conversations with her. I hope Paul can enjoy that too in the near future.
I must say I am very impressed that he’s managed to come up with an entirely new 1-hour comedy show during all of this. That is very difficult, especially when your first show was developed over 3 years and was a big hit. Now he has to do it all again, but he has done it. A new 1 hour show called “So British (ou presque)” and you can see it at a venue called FLOW in Paris from 18 October to 4 January. More details on the website (below).
You heard there that I mentioned the idioms card game I had intended to play during the conversation. That’s what’s going to happen in the next episode. A game in which you can try to spot various common idioms in our conversation, and we’ll explain and clarify them for you too.
Just a reminder, you can check out previous episodes I’ve done about parenthood if you’re interested in learning more vocabulary about the subject. Check out episode 161 which was a conversation with a heavily pregnant Amber Minogue about what it’s like being 8 months pregnant. The following episode (162) covers a lot of vocabulary relating to pregnancy, childbirth and childcare. Then there’s episode 502 which is wife and me chatting. And if you remember there are also several episodes with Ben and Andy from the London School, in which they both prepare me (and scare me) ahead of the birth of my daughter. (Links at the bottom of the page)
Raising Bilingual Children
On the subject of having children and learning English, I have received quite a lot of requests about doing a podcast about how to raise children to be bilingual. I guess quite a lot of you out there are having children too and you really want them to grow up to be effective speakers of English. What’s the best way to achieve this? How do you bring up kids to speak another language?
This is actually a really complicated question and there are many different situations in which this might be a concern.
One parent speaks a different language, but the family lives in the home country of the other parent (my situation, same as many of my friends)
The two parents are from one country, but living in a different place now and bringing up a child there.
The two parents are non-natives living in a non-English speaking place, but they want their child to grow up speaking English.
How do you go about helping the child to learn English? Also, how do I talk to my daughter? What is the typical way to talk to children in English? Are there any particular phrases or words that we use.
So this is actually a pretty big project and to properly deal with it I think it’s necessary to perhaps get the benefit of qualified professionals who know about the various kinds of research into second language acquisition for kids and the ins and outs of bilingualism in children.
So, what I plan to do is interview my friends about their experiences of bringing up bilingual kids. I also would like to take advantage of my contacts at the BC and ask some of our staff for their professional opinions regarding bilingualism and how you can help your kids to learn English.
So this is a podcast series that requires some preparation but it’s one that I’m going to start working on soon.
In the meantime – I’m interested in your comments, if any of you out there has experience of raising a child to be bilingual – I want to hear from you. Let me know about techniques, experiences, challenges, methods – anything relating to bringing up kids who speak English. I am particularly interested in success stories of bringing up a child to speak English when English is not your native tongue, or the native tongue of your partner and you’re not living in an English speaking country. For example, Polish parents (who probably speak English a bit) bringing up a Polish child in Poland to speak good English from childhood. That might be you (but in a different country I expect). So, if you have things to say about this – send me a comment or an email. I’d like to gather together some thoughts, anecdotes and tips which I can make part of future episodes. So, have a think and get in touch with me via my website teacherluke.co.uk
Finally – London-based LEPsters, don’t forget about the official LEP meetup happening on Saturday 28th September 2019. The venue is the same as before – the Firtzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY. The time – 6pm.
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That’s it for this episode! Thank you for listening. The next one will feature a vocabulary game featuring about 15 different common English idioms for you to spot and learn. That’s coming soon. But for this episode it’s just time to say BYE BYE BYE!
Previous Episodes about Parenthood / Babies / Vocabulary