Category Archives: Social English

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.

766. Learning English with The News (with Stephen from SEND7 Podcast)

Talking to Stephen from the Simple English News Daily podcast about learning English with the news and whether BBC reporters actually speak like normal humans.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello folks, a very quick introduction from me.

In this episode you are going to listen to a conversation I had with English teacher and podcaster Stephen Devincenzi who does a podcast about learning English with the news. 

We recorded a video for this but we had technical problems so only one part of that is available on YouTube. If you go to my YT channel you’ll see it. It’s the part where we discuss the pros and cons of using the news to improve your English. That’s the only video part on YouTube but the audio is fine and you’re listening to it now and this audio will be available everywhere including youTube as usual, and you can check to see if the automatic subtitles are available.

We were plagued by technical difficulties while attempting to do this episode and in fact this is the 3rd time we tried to record. We did this 3 times.

About 3 weeks before this we did another full recording of over an hour which turned out to be unusable because of issues with lag and distorted sound and horrible internet based problems, and then we set up another meeting but had to cancel that due to Stephen’s poor internet connection.

Then Stephen had fibre optic internet set up in his room.

And so did I!

And then I got electricity installed.

But then my fibre optic internet went down (and still is down) but despite the gremlins in the system we managed to record this 3rd version on Zoom with my iphone working as an internet hotspot.

This episode is all about learning English with the news, the pros, the cons, the hows the whys. But is listening to the news a good idea for learners of English? How can you do it? Let’s discuss. 

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

Ending

THanks for listening. Thanks to Stephen from the SEND7 podcast.

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section as usual. It’s always interesting to read what you have to say.

Have you used the news to learn English? 

Did you find it useful? 

How do you do it? Do you have a particular method? 

Talks in English – British Council Paris – 19 May (Storytelling – Culture Shock & Live Podcast Recording)

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

758. Pub Quiz Trivia with Sarah The Paris Quiz Mistress

Chatting to pub quiz host Sarah Toporoff about her love of trivia, and asking each other quiz questions about history, geography, literature, language & pop culture. Can you answer the questions and follow the conversation?

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Links

Introduction Transcript & Notes

Hello listeners! I hope you’re well. Welcome back to my podcast for learners of English around the world. That’s you, I assume. You are a learner of English and you are around the world. 

Welcome to another episode of my podcast. This is where you can get English into your life in the form of some regular listening practise. This time you’re going to hear me in conversation with a guest and the guest in this episode is my friend Sarah Toporoff who also goes by the name The Paris Quiz Mistress.

This is the first time she’s been on the show and that means this one will probably be a little more difficult for you to follow, but that’s alright – it’s all good practice. 

Sarah is originally from the USA (so you will be hearing an American accent from her, and a British accent from me in the same conversation – and yes, we actually understand each other of course) Anyway, Sarah is from the states, but these days she lives in Paris like me and basically – Sarah loves pub quizzes. In fact, she loves them so much that she decided to run her own pub quiz nights here in Paris, in English, which she does every Sunday evening. 

She writes questions and reads them out in a local pub for teams of people to answer in competition with each other. Sarah also has her own podcast in which she quizzes her friends on various bits of trivia relating to their interests. Her podcast is called The Paris Quiz Mistress Podcast.

So, in this episode I thought I would chat to Sarah about her love of quizzes, and then we could quiz each other with some fun questions, and you can see if you know the answers and generally try to keep up with the conversation and develop your English in the process.

So that’s what you’re going to get – and this is a swapcast, which means that both Sarah and I are publishing this on our respective podcasts. 

Before we continue I think I should give you a little bit of support before I throw you into the deep end and make you listen to this fairly fast conversation between two native speakers. 

So, let me just clarify a couple of bits of vocabulary and some culture which are key concepts for this episode, and I also have a few questions for you to consider, in order to help you prepare to understand this episode more easily.

Some words and concepts

A quiz

(Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here) A quiz is a fun game or competition in which someone tests your knowledge by asking you questions and you compete with others to answer those questions. Quizzes are usually done just for fun, unlike tests or exams for example, which are done not for fun. They usually involve questions relating to trivia…

Trivia (noun) / Trivial (adjective)

…and trivia basically means trivial information or facts which are interesting or amusing but not really presented for a specific purpose. “Oh, that’s quite interesting isn’t it?” ← that’s usually as deep as it gets. That’s trivia.

It’s just random bits of general knowledge, just for fun – facts and figures, names, dates, places, moments in history, pop culture and so on.

A pub quiz 

As the name suggests, a pub quiz is a quiz done in a pub. Big surprise there. But pub quizzes are a very common feature of normal life in the UK where any good pub will have a quiz night. If you’ve ever spent time living in the UK you might have noticed this. Perhaps on a weekday evening in the local pub you might see teams of people sitting at tables competing against each other to answer questions which are read out by a host who might be speaking into a microphone. It’s sort of an excuse to just be in the pub and have a few drinks, but it’s also a really fun way to spend an evening with other people.

A good host will prepare some tricky but achievable questions that make you think and that could spark some conversation later in the evening, and the host might throw in some funny comments here and there just to keep things light. The questions are often quite convoluted and might sound more difficult than they actually are. At the end, the answer sheets from each team are marked and the winning team wins a prize, typically a bottle of wine or something like that. Pub quizzes are also known as trivia nights in some places. 

Does that sound familiar? This is the world of the pub quiz. Are they a common feature in your country? Do they happen in pubs? Do you have pubs? Do you have questions? Do you have facts where you live? Are there other people? I don’t know where you are. 

Fun quizzes like this also take place in other situations – and I’m talking about the UK and other English speaking places too and often things are similar in our cultures. I’m sure it’s the same for you, but is it? I don’t know. Anyway, where I’m from quizzing is sort of part of our DNA. Any excuse for a quiz – in pubs but also at family get togethers, at school or even at work Christmas parties and things like that. 

Sorry for rambling here but seriously – thinking about this stuff might help you to focus your attention on the topic of this conversation  bit more closely and follow things more easily, and therefore learn more English from this and as a result get a feeling of accomplishment which you carry with you in your life, bringing extra positivity and confidence which ultimately helps to make you a more successful and fulfilled person in your life, which then impacts on other people in similar ways and the benefits spread out from you in concentric circles improving the lives of other people around you and they start smiling a bit more and ultimately the world becomes that bit better which makes all the difference to the global balance of everything and basically I save the world with my podcast. That’s all I’m trying to do, so don’t stand in my way, ok? The fate of the world depends on this, alright?

Now, just in case this introduction wasn’t long enough, I am now going to quickly read out the questions that Sarah and I are going to ask each other in this episode, just to give you a chance to understand them in advance so you don’t get lost in the conversation.

You see, I am COMMITTED to helping you learn English and that means I am willing to make these episode introductions at least 3 minutes longer than they should be in order to give you a helping hand in understanding fast-paced and naturalistic dialogues between native speakers of English. That is how much I care. 

Quiz Questions in this Episode

So listen to these questions, understand them, can you answer them? You’ll be more prepared. Listen to the episode to get the answers.

  • How many countries make up the UK and can you name those countries?
  • Which Eastern European country shares zero of the same borders with countries that it shared borders with in 1989 although its physical borders have not moved? (note: I hope you don’t mind the term “Eastern European country”)

Sarah’s Questions for me

These might seem a bit random, but Sarah is a great quiz mistress and there is a link between all the answers to these questions, and it’s a link that is tailored to me somehow. 

  1. For which film did the MPAA refuse to allow use of Ben Stiller’s character’s last name in the title, unless filmmakers could find an actual person with that last name?
  2. What 2nd novel by English author Charles Dickens is alternately titled “The Parish Boy’s Progress?”
  3. What film series began in 1988 and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane?
  4. In British English it means “eraser”, in American it means “condom”. What is it?
  5. What is the type of gun that features as a weapon in the board game “Cluedo”?
  6. “Scar Tissue” is the name of Anthony Keidis’ autobiography as well as one of his hits, with which band?
  7. PD James, Edgar Allan Poe and Gaston Leroux are all writers specialising in what genre? 
  8. The flags of Romania, Colombia and Moldova all primarily feature which 3 colours?
  9. The first episode of what television drama opens with the news that that RMS Titanic has sunk?

Luke’s Questions for Sarah

My questions are really quite stupid and in fact I am not listing them here because they are too silly and I will let you discover them in all their glory as you listen to the episode. So just listen on if you want to hear my questions for Sarah – but to give you a heads up they focus on music, movies (well, one movie) and British English slang, so there is definitely some vocabulary to learn here!

MMMBop by Hanson

Mmm Bop – Lyrics

Can you tell me any of the lyrics from the first verse?

Answers:

You have so many relationships in this life

Only one or two will last

You go through all the pain and strife

Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast

Oh yeah (so much wisdom from someone so young)

And they’re gone so fast, yeah

Oh, so hold on the ones who really care

In the end they’ll be the only ones there

And when you get old and start losing your hair

Can you tell me who will still care (Hair was important to them)

Can you tell me who will still care? (interesting discussion point)

Oh care

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, oh yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

Said oh yeah

In an mmmbop they’re gone

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose

You can plant any one of those

Keep planting to find out which one grows

It’s a secret no one knows

It’s a secret no one knows (Is it really a secret?)

Oh, no one knows

MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM by Crash Test Dummies

Anaconda – 1997 (Trailer)

Luke’s British Slang Questions

  • If you describe something as pants, how do you feel about it?

“That film was pants. Total pants.”

Answer: bad

  • How would you feel if you’d run out of bog roll?

You’d feel gutted of course.

Answer: Bog roll means toilet paper

  • Can you give me a reason why you might feel “chuffed”?

Answer: chuffed means pleased, delighted, happy

  • What would a British person probably say if they wanted to claim something, like perhaps a chocolate biscuit or a comfortable chair?

Answer: Bagsee!

  • If someone needed to get some kip, how would they probably feel?

Answer: You’d feel sleepy or tired, because kip means sleep (noun)

  • What F word is used to say that someone is physically attractive? (It’s like saying “hot”)

Answer: fit

  • What L word is a generic sickness – like the flu or a bad cold? (a pre-covid expression)

Answer: The lurgy

  • Where do you put suitcases in a car in the UK?

Answer: in the boot

  • What about the engine?

Under the bonnet

In any case, whether you can answer these questions or not, I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation about trivia and that you manage to keep up with it all and pick up some English. I will chat to you again very very briefly at the end, but it’s now time to get started properly and here we go…

Listen to the episode to get all the answers to the questions!

In other news…

My pod-room still isn’t ready but it should be connected to electricity and internet in a couple of weeks.

I’m still waiting to get a WIFI internet connection at home.

My shelves haven’t fallen down yet :)

I am working on LEP Premium series 33 parts 3 and 4 and they should be uploaded soon.

Video versions of episodes will return when I have a decent internet connection (and a new computer which is coming too…)

748. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent [Part 2]

Understand more of Karl Pilkington’s rambling as we learn about the Manchester accent and pick up vocabulary along the way. Video version available on YouTube.

Audio Version

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Episode Transcript

Introduction

Hello everyone. Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of a double Karl Pilkington themed episode. I would recommend that you listen to part 1 of this first – it contains important context about who Karl is plus more details about Karl’s pronunciation and accent. 

Listening to that first will help a great deal in understanding this one.

I got plenty of good responses to part 1 of this, so let’s carry on.

In this part we are going to continue as we did before – listening to Karl Pilkington talking about various subjects, understanding exactly what he says, looking at features of his Manchester accent and picking up vocabulary along the way.

Karl is basically just a normal bloke from Manchester and his accent is fairly typical for people from that area so this episode aims to help you understand his accent and pick up vocabulary too.

Some responses to part 1

I disagree with Karl on most things.

Is he arrogant?

I just enjoy the way he puts things. He speaks like a comedian in the way that he expresses a point of view and has a certain way with words, but he’s not a comedian.

This is the enigma of Karl Pilkington – is he really just being himself, or is he playing a comedy character, and in real life he’s a lot more erudite.

I actually think it’s the former not the latter and that he’s just being himself. He just happens to have a funny way of putting his opinions across. 

Sometimes the best comedy comes from someone sharing a specific opinion. I think this is what I enjoy about this, rather than the opinions he is expressing, and as I said I disagree with Karl about most things, and some things he says are quite laughable – especially stuff he’s said on the Ricky Gervais podcast, like his Monkey News stories.

One other thing – apparently it is possible to be choked by a live octopus as you eat it. What I meant was that it would be impossible for an octopus to strangle you from the inside, as strangling means choking from the outside of the throat, with your hands for example, but of course a live octopus could choke you from within, by sticking its arms up into your throat or your windpipe. So, fair enough, it is possible for an octopus to choke you.

Also, in the UK we do eat oysters – which are raw seafood, so I think raw fish are generally ok in the UK but most other raw things would be considered a bit strange for us.

Quick Pronunciation Recap

In part 1 we listened to Karl talk about life, health and food and in terms of his accent I talked about H-drops

  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.
  • Look, how many do you need?

glottal stops 

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.

The ‘bath/trap’ split 

  • podcast/podcast
  • laugh/laugh
  • path/path
  • bath/bath

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

Do you go to the gym much? 

Topics: Holidays & Karl’s Fridge

This time he’s going to talk about holidays and his fridge and we will look at more features of his accent.

There’s a video version of this on youtube with text on the screen, plus you will find all the text presented on the page for this episode on my website. 

Just one more thing before we start – I have premium episodes in the pipeline for these two episodes of LEP. The Premium episodes will be a chance to review and remember the vocabulary that comes up in these episodes, and then pronunciation drills too. So, I’ll do a sort of memory quiz with you to see how much vocab you remember and then the usual pronunciation drills – but in my accent, not Karl’s. 

Sign up to LEP Premium

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 


#4 Karl on Holidays

(not Karl on Holiday)

Karl is on a camping holiday, sitting in a tent and moaning. 

  1. Why does Karl think holidays are stressful?
  2. What does Karl think of Lanzarote’s nickname?
  3. What did Karl do on his holiday there?
  4. What’s the problem with holidays in the UK?
  5. What did he think of the seal sanctuary he went to?
  6. What’s the best place Karl has been? Why?
  7. What does Karl think of holidays to the moon?

Vocabulary

You’ve got free time on your hands which you’re not used to.

We ended up walking around this seal sanctuary. 14 quid. £

They were just floating about, hardly moving.

I’m not having a go, but don’t charge me to come in, or at least let me see them again when they’re better.

The coliseum, they don’t do it up.

There’s no overheads.

That’s a mess. Get it knocked down.

At the end of the day the moon is just a big rock. You may/might as well go to Lanzarote.


PRONUNCIATION #3

Nasal

Alright so I went on holiday and it was great and all that.

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • When’s the last time you heard about a tortoise having a heart attack?

Works well with glottal stops.

Nasal sound in /aʊ/ and /ai/ sounds

/aʊ/ in words like about and now sounds more nasal.

What’s he going on about now?

If there were dinosaurs about now and that.

If we’ve run out we need to go outside and get some more.

Nasal sound in /ai/ sound

The /ai/ sound in words like alive, inside, survive, fighting, riot and dying sounds more nasal.

You’re not supposed to eat them alive.

We’ve got to stay inside if we want to survive.

If they were running about fighting and dying and that.

Running riot (sounds like “roonin raiyut”)


#5 Karl on his fridge

Karl’s fridge is broken and he called out a guy to fix it. 

Naturally he’s moaning about workmen who come to your house to do different jobs.

  1. Why does the guy charge £80?
  2. What is Karl’s main problem with engineers, plumbers, workers who have to come to his house?
  3. What advice does the fridge guy give to Karl?
  4. What’s the problem with Karl’s new fridge?

Vocabulary

The fella turned up, right.

Yeah, it’s broke. (broken)

That’s why I called you out.

That’s 80 quid

I said, “you what?” 

An 80 quid callout charge.

I tell you. They wind me up.

I had a fella come round to do the tiling

Turned up late with a carrier bag.

A pot noodle

A copy of the Daily Mirror

A crossword book

He was asking what the pub was like across the road. “What is …. like?”

Having a laugh

When did you last vac it out

Vacuum cleaner

You’re meant to vac them out, because dust and that gets in.

Can’t afford any food to put in it.

It needs wiring in. It’s got one of those fancy plug things.


PRONUNCIATION #4

A lot of other vowel sounds are nasal too.

Turn the corner /ɔː/

They becomes thee

It depends what they do with it.

Why have they only just found that? 

How did they miss that?

Also, he adds little fillers like:

(Do you) know what I mean?

Right? (just sounds like a nazal grunt, almost)

… and that

Like that

And whatnot

And stuff like that

Do you know what I mean?

I tell ya…

Watch out for those things if you like.


Ending

Ladies and gentlemen, this brings us to the end of this episode, as we now prepare to exit the world of Karl Pilkington and re-emerge blinking into the light of the normal world.

Welcome back to yourself, your own attitudes and your own personality again.

I urge you to (just wanted to use that phrase) check the page for this episode on my website where you will find a downloadable full transcript, the audio file for download in mp3 format, a text video version of this episode where you can read the entire thing as you listen and it’s all presented in a rather majestic looking font before your very eyes and of course there’s the comment section where you can share your thoughts not to mention the episode archive with all the previous episodes plus lots of bonus extra stuff. 

Teacherluke.co.uk

LEP Premium 
LEP App
LEP Merch

Have a good one and I will speak to you again soon, bye!

747. Social Awkwardness / Very British Problems (with Michael Lavers from Level Up English)

Talking to Michael Lavers from the Level Up English Podcast about learning Japanese, embarrassing moments in language learning, social awkwardness and some “very British problems”. Are you as socially awkward as a British person? Let’s see how you and Michael would respond to some quiz questions that will test your British awkwardness to the max. Video version available.

Audio Version

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners and video viewers,

Today on the podcast I am talking to Michael Lavers who is an English teacher from Cornwall in the South West of England. Michael also has a podcast for learners of English. It’s called The Level Up English Podcast – you might want to check it out if you haven’t already done so. It’s available wherever you get your podcasts.

As well as being an English teacher, Michael is also a language learner himself and in his podcast episodes he often talks with guests about experiences of learning other languages, including those embarrassing or awkward moments that happen when you feel shy or you make mistakes. Also, Michael has described himself as a socially awkward person who lacks a certain amount of confidence in himself. In fact, he says that one of the reasons he started his podcast was to try and gain some confidence by going out of his comfort zone.

So this is what I thought I would ask Michael about: his language learning experiences and those awkward and embarrassing moments, and then I’d like to chat about social awkwardness and whether this is a uniquely British thing. And we’re going to go into some specific examples of how this so-called British awkwardness manifests itself.

That’s the plan, so now, let’s meet Michael Lavers from the Level Up English Podcast.


Awkward Situations – Very British Problems

Here are some questions based on some tweets by the popular Twitter account, Very British Problems. Each one describes a specific problem that British people typically experience in social situations. They seem to sum up the experience of being a British person. We’re socially awkward – I don’t know why.

Let’s see how you respond to these questions. And listeners, I want you to consider your answers to these questions too, then we’ll see what Michael says, and then we’ll see the original tweets and we can see if they match up.

Questions & Tweets

How do you feel when you walk through the “nothing to declare” gate at an airport?

You’re sitting with a group of people. It’s time for you to leave. What do you say as you kind of slap your hands on your knees and stand up?

If someone says something to you but you don’t hear it, how many times are you willing to ask them to repeat themselves?

What do you say to your taxi driver as they approach the point where you want to get out of the cab?

If you’re on a train, sitting in the window seat with a passenger next to you, and your stop is approaching, what do you do to signal to the passenger in the aisle seat that you will need to get up?

You’re standing at the exit door of the train as it is pulling into the station, slowly coming to a stop, and there is a crowd of other passengers right behind you, eager to get off the train. The “Open door” button isn’t yet illuminated. What do you do? Do you press the button?

How do you feel when the ticket inspector inspects your perfectly valid ticket?

What do you say, modestly, to guests arriving in your home, even though you spent some time before their arrival, tidying things up?

There’s one last roast potato on the table at Sunday lunch. You want to eat it. How do you achieve this?

  1. Just take it and eat it
  2. Ask if you can eat it
  3. Offer it to everyone else first

Do you ever tell your housemates or family that you are “off to bed” but then just stare at your phone in bed for an hour?

Imagine you are walking through a hallway with lots of doors in it, like in a library or something and you’re walking just behind a stranger who keeps having to hold the doors for you. How many different ways of saying “thanks” can you think of?

How do you end an email? Is there a subtly less friendly difference between kind regards and just regards?

What do you do when you get an incoming call from an unknown number?

How good are you at overtaking someone on foot?

Do you feel it necessary to speed up at all, when walking over a zebra crossing?

If you pay for something with exactly the right change, and you know it’s exactly the right change, do you wait for the cashier to count the money?

Links

www.ewmichael.com

www.levelupenglish.school

A reminder of the LEP Design Competition

I have had some entries already. If you’ve sent me something, then thank you. Please send your designs to podcastcomp@gmail.com and my brother and I will review the entries we receive, talk about them on the podcast and pick at least one to be featured in the LEP Merch store.

  • Think of a t-shirt that LEPsters would want to wear
  • PRIZE: The winning design will be put on t-shirts, mugs and other merch, and the winner will also win £80!
  • SPECS: A high-resolution transparent .PNG at 150dpi.  Minimum dimensions of at least 1500px by 1995px (not including outer transparent pixels).
  • CLOSING DATE: 22 October 2021
  • Send your t-shirt designs to podcastcomp@gmail.com

745. Mental Factors in Learning English (with Ray Addam) [English with Ray SwapCast]

Talking to English teacher Ray Addam from Glasgow in Scotland about mental factors in learning English, such as anxiety, confidence, stress and motivation. Video version available on YouTube.

Audio Version (with extra ramble + song)

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Video Version

Introduction Transcript

Hello dear listeners,

This is a swapcast between LEP and English with Ray, which means we are both uploading this to our podcasts/youtube channels.

Ray is an English teacher from Glasgow in Scotland (and you’ll be able to notice his accent, which is not the strongest Glaswegian accent I’ve ever heard but it’s definitely noticeable – which is great, because I love Scottish accents). Ray has recently started making videos on YouTube for learners of English. 

One of his students – Ivan (from Russia I think) who is also a LEPster, suggested to Ray that he start doing that and that he also contact me for an interview, so that’s what you’re going to listen to or watch here. This is Ray Addam interviewing me for his channel.

This is a fairly relaxed and free-ranging conversation, and after chatting a bit about playing music and performing in front of people, we ended up talking about the psychology of learning English, particularly how to manage anxiety or nerves when using English in stressful situations, and then our comments about how to work on your confidence and how to have the right mental approach to learning a language, which is one of the most important steps to take.

So listen on for some comments and tips about how to manage your stress levels in English, how to become more confident in English and how to take control of your communication skills in general.

Thanks to Ray for sending this recording to me. You might want to check out his channel on YouTube, which is called English with Ray. He only has a few videos there at the moment, but everyone’s got to start somewhere. I’ve noticed that Ray also speaks fluent Arabic so any Arabic speaking LEPsters might be particularly interested in Ray’s content as he might have some insights into differences between Arabic and English. I haven’t actually asked him about that yet, but maybe it’s something he could work on in a future video.

Anyway, that’s it for this introduction and I will now let you listen to this conversation with Ray Addam, firstly about playing music in front of audiences of people, and then about the challenges of managing your confidence when using English in stressful situations. I will probably speak to you again briefly at the end of this chat, but for now, let’s get started.

Links for Ray

Take online English lessons with Ray Addam on Preply preply.com/en/tutor/447455/

English with Ray on YouTube www.youtube.com/c/EnglishWithRay/featured

Song (audio version only) – “Questionnaire” by The Rutles genius.com/The-rutles-questionnaire-lyrics

743. Give me Tea, Please – Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language (with Natasha V Broodie) + ramble / song

Talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English understand the subtle codes of polite language when making requests and giving information in professional and personal contexts. In the conversation we explore the topic and consider some tips for making your language more culturally appropriate.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

In this episode I am talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English to find the right tone in their speaking and writing. Tone is something which is very much affected by culture and often relates to things like being direct, indirect, formal, informal, the use of modal verbs and phrasal verbs and so on. In English the general tone is often quite friendly, indirect and polite, and this can sometimes cause problems for English speakers coming from different places where codes of politeness or professionalism are different.

Natasha has worked as an English teacher and has also worked in international contexts for the UN and so she has direct experience of observing people communicating in English and not quite getting the tone right.

So in her book, “Give me tea, please. Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language” she lays out a sort of style guide with theory, practical tips and a glossary of defined vocabulary at the back.

It sounds like an interesting book which could be a worthwhile read for my listeners, so I thought it would be good to chat with Natasha a little bit and explore some of the ideas presented in her book.

“Give me tea, please” is currently available on Amazon but from 24 September should be available from all other providers too.

Right, so now you know what sort of thing we’re going to be talking about, let’s meet Natasha Broodie and find out some of those practical tips for tasteful language.


Give Me Tea, Please on Amazon


Ending

So that was Natasha V Broodie, talking about her book Give me tea, please – available from all good bookstores. Go ahead and pick up a copy and if you like it, leave a review on Amazon.

Thanks again to Natasha for her contribution in this episode.

A Short Ramble

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Design comp – link here for details teacherluke.co.uk/2021/09/22/742-new-lep-t-shirts-merch-lep-design-competition-2021-with-james/
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Sneezing caused me to take a trip to tangent town…

Song – “Trouble” by Coldplay

tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/coldplay/trouble-chords-16491

741. Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Learn English from some jokes in this episode as we go through 9 jokes chosen as the best of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe stand up comedy scene this year (2021). Let me tell you the jokes, see if you understand them, and then I will break them down for language learning opportunities. Video version available.

Audio Version

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Video Version

Episode Transcript / Notes

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021, Explained

Hello listeners, hello video viewers. How are you? How is the world treating you today? Not too badly I hope. 

Here’s a new episode. So stick with me. Listen closely. Pay attention. You can definitely learn some new English from this. Let’s get started.

Introduction

It’s time to dissect the frog again as we look at some of the most popular jokes from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe of this year 2021. I’m going to read them to you and then explain them so you can understand them fully and also learn some new vocabulary in the process. 

This is something I’ve been doing every year at the end of the Ediburgh Festival when the list of the most popular jokes is published in the newspapers. 

Last year I didn’t do one of these episodes because Ed Fringe got cancelled due to Covid-19. 

But the festival was back this year, so here we go again. Let’s find some popular jokes told by comedians at the fringe and use them to learn English.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Just in case you don’t know, the Edinburgh Fringe (full name: The Edinburgh Festival Fringe) is a huge comedy festival that happens every August in Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland.

Sometimes it’s called The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh Fringe, The Edinburgh Comedy Festival, Ed Fringe, just The Fringe or simply Edinburgh.

It’s one of the biggest comedy festivals in the world, and every August comedians travel to the city in order to perform comedy to the large crowds of people who travel there. 

For comedians August in Edinburgh is a huge opportunity to get exposure and experience, but it is very tough, especially at the beginning when you have to drum up an audience of people to come to your shows every day.

Just in case you didn’t know, stand-up is a form of entertainment that involves one comedian standing on stage with a microphone telling stories and jokes in an effort to make the audience laugh. It is an extremely popular form of entertainment in the English speaking world.

This episode is about specific jokes told by comedians during the fringe this year, but stand-up comedians don’t really just go up and tell individual jokes one after the other (except in the case of some specific comedians), rather they fit their jokes into stories, observations about the world or confessions about themselves.

However, this list of the “best jokes from the fringe” just picks simple one or two line jokes from people’s performances.

Lower Your Expectations Now 😅

I expect that taking these jokes away from their original performances will not help the jokes. 

They will probably be less funny outside the comedy show that they came from because we’re going to remove the context of the joke, the attitude and personality of the comedian who told the joke and what was happening in the room that particular evening. All those elements have a huge impact on how funny the joke will be.

So, it’s not very fair to judge these jokes on their own like this, outside of their original context, but this is still an interesting experiment in learning English, so here we go.

Here’s how we’re going to do this

  1. First I will read each joke one by one. 
  • There are 9 jokes in total. 
  • How many jokes do you “get”?
  • If you “get” a joke, it means you understand why it is funny.
  • Ideally you will laugh, but you can also groan.
  • If you don’t understand it you need to say “I don’t get it!
  • The main thing is: You have to notice and acknowledge that a joke has been told to you.

So, listen to the jokes, do you get them all?

  1. Then I will go through each joke one by one and I will break them all down, explaining exactly how they work, showing you double meanings, explaining any specific vocabulary or cultural reference points and giving you all the information you need to be able to understand these jokes properly.

There is a lot of vocabulary to be learned from this, which I will highlight as we go through and recap at the end.

So, get ready, it’s time to dissect the frog again.

Of course, I have to say the quote: 

Explaining a joke is like dissecting a frog. You can learn something from it, but the frog dies in the process.

I expect I will be killing all these jokes by explaining them. 

You’re not meant to explain jokes, and if you do, the joke suddenly becomes less funny. 

Most jokes work by surprise. 

Getting the double meaning instantly is usually the only way to find a joke funny. 

So I can’t guarantee that you will laugh at these jokes, but this is certainly going to be good for your English in any case.

Joke types

A lot of these jokes use 

  • synonyms (different words with a similar meaning),
  • common fixed expressions and sayings
  • homophones (different words that sound the same)
  • similies (finding similarities between otherwise different things), 
  • pull back & reveal (revealing extra information to change the situation)

Top Jokes from Edinburgh Fringe 2021

I’m getting this list from the website Chortle.co.uk which is the UK’s number 1 comedy website.

www.chortle.co.uk/news/2021/08/22/49087/masai_graham_wins_the_dave%2A_joke_of_the_fringe

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.”

– Masai Graham 

2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” 
– Ivor Dembina

3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” 

-Tom Mayhew

4. “The roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.”

– Adele Cliff

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.”

– Leo Kearse

6 “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.”

– Will Mars

7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” 

– Sameer Katz

8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” 

– Rich Pulsford

9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” 

– Sameer Katz

Vocabulary Focus

Now let’s go through those jokes again and break them down so you can understand them fully, picking up bits of vocabulary along the way.

Broken down versions (sorry frogs)

1. “I thought the word ‘Caesarean’ began with the letter ‘S’ but when I looked in the dictionary, it was in the ‘C’ section.” 

– Masai Graham

Vocabulary

A caesarean

A C-section


2. “My therapist told me, ‘A problem shared, is a hundred quid’.” – Ivor Dembina

Vocabulary

Common phrase: “A problem shared is a problem halved.”

Quid

Halved (verb)


3. “Me and my ex were into role play. I’d pretend to be James Bond and she’d pretend she still loved me.” – Tom Mayhew

Vocabulary

To be into role play

Role play – pretending to be someone else, often during sex to make it more interesting.

To pretend to be someone / to do something

He pretended he was James Bond

She pretended she still loved him.


4. “The Roman emperor’s wife hates playing hide and seek because wherever she goes Julius Caesar.” – Adele Cliff

This is a pun – a word joke and it’s just that one thing sounds like something else.

“Julius Caesar” sounds like Julius sees her, which is why his wife hates playing hide and seek because Julius always sees her. Julius Caesar. I think you get it.

Vocabulary

To play hide and seek

5. “Marvin Gaye used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. He’d herd it through the grapevine.” – Leo Kearse

Oooh, this is a bit of a groaner. That’s where you go Oooooh like it almost hurts. 

“Heard it through the grapevine” is one of Marvin Gaye’s most famous songs.

“Herd” can mean to move a group of animals in a certain direction, like sheep or cows. You herd your sheep into a field.

Marvin used to keep a sheep in my vineyard. A vineyard is a place where you grow grapes for wine. 

The grapevine is where the grapes grow, but there’s also an idiom “through the grapevine” meaning when you hear people gossiping about something, or you over hear people talking about something. 

In the case of the song, he hears that his girlfriend is cheating on him and he hears it through the grapevine. 

He heard it through the grapevine. He heard rumours or gossip about it.

He’d herd it through the grapevine. He attempted to move the sheep around through the grapevines of the plants in the vineyard.

Vocabulary

To herd sheep

To hear something on/through the grapevine

Vinyard

This is too much of a stretch and if you get the joke please let me know. Write a comment in the comment section – do you get the Marvin Gaye joke?


6. “My grandparents were married for forty years, but everything took longer back then.” – Will Mars

This is quite a clever little joke. Everything took longer in the past – travelling, communicating etc. 

Marriages seemed to last longer, but everything took longer back then.


7. “I think Chewbacca is French because he understands English but refuses to speak it.” – Sameer Katz

This is quite funny and of course it hits two of my favourite notes, well three in fact: Star Wars, France and speaking English. 

There is a common misconception that French people arrogantly refuse to speak English in Paris let’s say, 

but I find that French people are more willing to speak English than it seems, and in fact they’re a bit more shy than arrogant, and if a French person in Paris speaks French to you, that’s quite normal as you are in France. 

Also, rather than being arrogant, a lot of French people just feel quite self conscious about their accent and certain common mistakes that French people often make. They also might have bad memories from English lessons at school which knocked all the confidence out of them, and they’re afraid to be judged by each other. So it’s more likely to be shyness than arrogance.


8. “I don’t know what you call a small spillage from a pen but I have an inkling.” – Rich Pulsford

This is a clever little joke. 

To have an inkling means to have a suspicion or an idea of something.

“I don’t know who stole the last biscuit, but I have an inkling. Or I have an inkling of an idea who took that biscuit, and I think it was you!”

But an inkling does sound like a small spillage of ink from a pen. A small puddle of ink, or ink on your hand. An inkling. 

What do we call that? I don’t know, but I have an inkling!”

Vocabulary

To have an inkling

A spillage


9. “People say zoos are inhumane. But that’s because they’re for animals.” – Sameer Katz

I’m not sure I have to explain that, do I?

Being humane means treating people in reasonable and humanistic manner. 

Treating people with respect, dignity, justice. 

Inhumane is the opposite – and although it includes the word human, we do use this word to refer to the cruel treatment of animals.

Keeping animals in a cage is inhumane. 

Even though they’re animals, we still use the word inhumane, and this is just a funny little thing that can make you laugh when you notice it.

Vocabulary

Humane

Inhumane


Vocabulary Review

  • A caesarean
  • A C-section
  • “A problem shared is a problem halved.”
  • Quid
  • Halve (verb)
  • To be into role play
  • To pretend to be someone / to do something
  • To play hide and seek
  • To herd sheep
  • To hear something on/through the grapevine
  • Vinyard
  • To have an inkling
  • A spillage
  • Humane
  • Inhumane 

738. Do you remember…? with Mum, Dad & James / Family Stories with The Thompsons

Chatting to my family about some old anecdotes and stories from the past. Listen for some enjoyable chat, memories, descriptions and tales from days gone by.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the podcast. 

In this episode I am happy to present to you a conversation with my mum, dad and brother all about old family stories and anecdotes from the past.

The episode is called Do you remember…? And that’s the title of the activity I chose for this episode. The idea is that we could generate some stories about things that happened in the past and you can follow along and see if you can pick up some English in the process, or simply enjoy a bit of storytelling on the podcast.

So you’re going to hear stories of little accidents, moments when James and I got into trouble, learning to drive and failed driving tests, how my parents first met each other and how my bottom lip was always left trembling at the end of every story.

We recorded this in my parents’ living room, sitting around after dinner and if you like you can imagine that you’re there too, listening into the conversation – not taking part though. For some reason you’re not allowed to speak, you can only listen like a weird audience in our living room just lurking in the background. Anyway, you can imagine that you’re there if you like, if it helps you to tune into the conversation and follow along more easily.

I will now leave you to enjoy this relaxed conversation, follow the stories and little jokes and I will speak to you again at the end of this episode.


Ending Transcript

So, that was my family, recorded in the living room recently while I was on holiday in England. I hope you enjoyed that.

Apologies if we repeated any stories you had heard before (perhaps all of them?) but then again it can be really helpful to hear the same stories over and over when learning English. You could even try to tell the stories yourself, and then compare your story to the recorded version.

If you want other, similar episodes from the archive, check out these ones.

79. Family Arguments & Debates (Debating things like language and politics)

teacherluke.co.uk/2012/01/23/family-arguments-and-debates/

322. With the Thompsons (Answering random conversation questions)

teacherluke.co.uk/2016/01/07/322-with-the-thompsons/

372. The Importance of Anecdotes in English / Telling 4 Family Anecdotes

teacherluke.co.uk/2016/08/09/372-the-importance-of-anecdotes-in-english-narrative-tenses-four-anecdotes/ 

413. With The Family 1 Talking about cooking christmas dinner

teacherluke.co.uk/2017/01/03/413-with-the-family-part-1-mums-cooking-vocabulary-with-uncle-nic/

414. With The Family 2 – My Uncle Met a Rock Star – Nic tells stories of meeting famous musicians including Paul McCartney

teacherluke.co.uk/2017/01/05/414-with-the-family-part-2-my-uncle-met-a-rock-star/ 

415. With The Family 3- Meeting Famous People – We tell stories of meeting famous people and what happened

teacherluke.co.uk/2017/01/10/415-with-the-family-part-3-more-encounters-with-famous-people/

542. Talking Rubbish & Having Fun with The Thompsons (More random topics and fun)

teacherluke.co.uk/2018/08/21/542-talking-rubbish-just-having-fun-with-the-thompsons/ 

554. ODD News Stories with Mum & Dad (Speculating about and discussing some weird news stories)

teacherluke.co.uk/2018/10/18/554-odd-news-stories-with-mum-dad/ 

605. Unexpected Road Trip (The story of a road trip that went horribly wrong, wth James as my co-pilot)

teacherluke.co.uk/2019/07/18/605-unexpected-road-trip-with-james/ 

But for now I will leave you to go back to your life, unless you choose to listen to another episode which you will find in the archive.

Don’t forget to check out LEP Premium. P31 parts 4,5, 6 are on their way and may have already been published by the time you listen to this.

But in the meantime, be excellent to each other, have a lovely day, morning, afternoon, evening or night and I will chat to you later but now it’s just time to say good bye bye bye bye bye.