🎧 Learn English with a short story. 🗣 Listen & repeat after me if you’d like to practise your pronunciation. 💬 Learn some vocabulary in the second half of the video. 📄 I found this story in answer to a post on Quora.com asking about true scary stories. I thought I could use it to help you learn English. Can you understand the story, and predict the twist at the end?
About 7 years ago I got an invitation to attend a dinner party at my cousin’s house. I have a pretty large family and I had never actually seen this particular cousin before. I had only ever spoken to him on the phone. I was surprised that his family unexpectedly invited me over, but I was curious to finally meet them.
The invitation had an address that I didn’t know and the GPS was unfamiliar with it too. It was in one of those areas where Google Maps doesn’t work properly because of poor phone reception,
so I had to use an old fashioned paper map. I marked the location on the map, tried to get a sense of where I was headed, and set off in my car.
As I was driving I started to notice how far I’d travelled into the countryside, away from civilization. I saw trees, farms and fields passing by. Just trees, farms, and fields, and more trees, more farms and more fields.
“Where the hell am I going?” I thought to myself. I’d never ventured out so far in that direction before.
I drove for quite a long time, trying to locate the address I had marked on the map.
The thing is, in this area, a lot of the roads don’t have names, or the names aren’t clearly marked by road signs. I just had to try to match the layout of the streets, to the layout I could see on the map.
I finally found a place at a location that looked like the one I had noted on my map. I was pretty sure this was the right spot, so I parked and got out of the car.
Approaching the house I noticed how dull and dreary it looked. It was completely covered in leaves, branches and overgrown trees.
“This can’t be it.” I said to myself.
But as soon as I walked onto the rocky driveway my aunt and uncle came out to greet me. They seemed excited and welcoming.
“Hello! Hello! Come in! Come in!” they said, beckoning me inside.
Walking into the house, I asked where my cousin was. Answering immediately one of them said, “Oh, he just went to run a few errands. He should be back later.”
I waited in their kitchen and we spent a couple of hours talking about my mother and my family. My aunt made a delicious homemade pot roast that I finished off in minutes.
After dinner we played an enduring game of Uno. It was surprisingly fun and competitive. My aunt in particular seemed delighted to be playing.
When we finished the game of Uno it was almost dark and there was still no sign of my cousin. My aunt and uncle assured me that he’d be back any time soon. Despite what they said, I decided that I had to leave.
It was almost dark outside and I knew it would be a nightmare to find my way out of this dreadful place after sunset, with no streetlights or road signs. As my GPS just wasn’t working, I asked my aunt and uncle the most efficient way to get to the highway.
They gave me a puzzled look.
“But, we thought you were staying the night?” they said.
I told them I couldn’t because I had work the next day and couldn’t afford to miss another day. “It’s much better if you leave tomorrow morning. Trust us. You’ll get lost” they said.
I shrugged it off and told them not to worry,
“Don’t worry. I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction. I could find my way out of the Sahara desert.” I told them.
Looking aggravated, they strongly advised me to stay the night for my own sake. Their body language was weird too as they became more serious and insistent. My uncle stood shaking his head, and my aunt began to move about the place, picking up a set of keys to unlock what I assume was a spare bedroom.
At this point I was getting annoyed and irritable. I sighed, “Fine I’ll stay the night then, but I have to get up very early for work.” I said. Both of them seemed strangely ecstatic that I was staying the night.
As soon as they went out of the room to get bed sheets and pillows,
I ran out of the door, got in my car and hastily pulled away. I know it was rude, but I suddenly felt the urge to get out of there, quickly.
It seemed to take me ages, but I finally found my way back to the main highway and drove back through the night, wondering why my cousin had never turned up.
I got home several hours later than I expected. It was after midnight and I didn’t want to wake my parents up. Climbing over my fence and entering the back door, I noticed that the kitchen lights were on.
As soon as I took my first step through the door, I saw my mom sitting there looking impatient.
This is the longest episode of LEP so far, and it’s a solo ramble. Relax, follow my words, hang out with me for 3 hours, get stranded on a desert island of the imagination, and then get rescued. Includes a haircut, a sleep and a t-shirt change during the episode.
How would the same car accident be described in over 15 completely different styles of English? What are the differences in vocabulary, grammar and organisational structure? How should I change my voice to read each description? Let’s see how English changes in different situations. Styles presented include: formal and informal English, news reports, an action movie screenplay, an Eminem rap, a romantic novel, a Shakespeare play, a politician making a speech, a stand-up comedian, Liam Neeson in the film Taken, and Luke in an episode of Luke’s English Podcast. PDF transcript available.
In this series I am evaluating ChatGPT as a language-learning tool. In this part I’m experimenting with role-play conversations, job interview practice, creating texts and dialogues and seeing if it can help you prepare for Cambridge exams like IELTS or CAE.
This is part 2 of a 3-part episode in which I am playing around with ChatGPT in order to see how it can help you learn English.
ChatGPT is a sophisticated AI chatbot. You can ask it questions and give it commands and it responds instantly. This is the most advanced AI chatbot I have ever used and it is quite impressive how it can do so many different tasks. We’re all finding out how we can use it and how it can be useful as a time-saving tool for many things, including learning and teaching English.
Of course ChatGPT is not without its critics. Some of those criticisms include the fact that ChatGPT will probably encourage cheating and will make it harder for institutions like schools to detect cheating. Noam Chomsky the well-known linguist and intellectual has described it as high-tech plagiarism, because it essentially regurgitates other people’s work and doesn’t provide citations or sources for the information it provides, and also people are suggesting that ChatGPT or AI in general could ultimately lead to a lot of people losing their jobs.
Does that include me, and other English teachers like me? Can ChatGPT replace English teachers, content creators or even the need to practise English with humans at all?
I’m not entirely sure, and we’re all working these things out at the moment, since this is perhaps the first time this kind of technology has been so accessible and now everyone’s using it, learning about it and thinking about it.
There are very interesting debates about this going on, but in this episode I’m focusing mainly on things you can do with ChatGPT, seeing how it works, and evaluating it’s effectiveness as a language learning tool.
This is part 2. In part 1 of this I asked it to create a study plan as if I was an upper-intermediate learner of English, which it instantly wrote for me. The advice was presented very clearly and a lot of it was pretty decent advice at first glance, but was it appropriate advice for the learner profile I wrote? Was the information a bit generic? What experience or research was its advice based on? We don’t really know.
Then I checked its ability to correct English errors and to explain those corrections, which it seemed to do quite well, although it lacked the ability of a human teacher to see the bigger picture and to use emotional intelligence, and then I started testing its ability to have a natural conversation, which it struggled with – mainly because as an AI language model it doesn’t have any feelings or opinions of its own and apparently these things are absolutely vital elements for a good conversation.
But is it possible to persuade ChatGPT to forget that it’s an AI chatbot and to pretend to be someone else, like a celebrity that you’d like to chat to, or your English teacher who can correct your errors while you chat?
This is what we’re looking at in part 2 here.
Also, coming up are these questions:
How well does it handle role plays in order to let you prepare to use English in specific situations?
Can you simulate job interview situations with it?
Can it create useful texts or dialogues for studying with?
Can it help you with exam preparation by providing sample written texts in response to FCE or CAE writing tasks?
Can it give you good advice for doing Cambridge exams?
Can it create reliable, useful exam practice tasks to help you prepare for IELTS?
Well, let’s find out now as we continue to play around with ChatGPT. By the way, there is a PDF script for all the things I am saying in this episode, including all the prompts I am using. You can get it on the page for this episode on my website – link in the description. If you are watching on YouTube you will see the text on the screen and I recommend that you watch this in full screen mode so you can see the text more easily.
OK, so let’s continue and here we go…
Conversation role plays for specific situations
If you need practice of using English in certain specific situations, you can ask it to help you.
I am a hotel receptionist. Can you help me deal with customer complaints?
It just gave me advice, like an article about how to deal with customer complaints.
You can ask it to create sample dialogues for you, for different situations.
Can you make a dialogue between a hotel receptionist and a customer making a complaint about their room?
It creates a pretty good model dialogue. The language you can see is professional, and polite and a good example of the kind of English you would need in that situation.
ChatGPT is good at this kind of thing. But, as a teacher in class, I might want to make sure this dialogue contained certain target language which I want to present and practise.
Again, there isn’t a brain there looking at the bigger picture, guiding you, interpreting your needs and reactions, anticipating and planning as it prepares learning materials and activities for you.
Conversation can be hard to maintain.
You need to give it very specific instructions if you want to converse with it. Otherwise it will just generate a dialogue.
Let’s do a roleplay. You pretend to be a hotel customer with a complaint, and I will be the receptionist. Can you also correct my English errors during the roleplay?
It just created the dialogue, writing lines for both people.
Let’s see what happens if I re-write the prompt more specifically.
Let’s do a roleplay. You pretend to be a hotel customer with a complaint, and I will be the receptionist. I will start by writing “Hello, can I help you”. Then give your response and wait for me to reply before writing the next line.
Can you also correct my English errors during the roleplay?
It’s very difficult to persuade it to do this.
Job interview role plays
Can you interview me for a job as a TEFL teacher at a new language school in Paris?
This worked quite well. It generated questions one after the other. It also responded when I asked for clarification.
Let’s see it it can help you prepare for an interview for a specific position.
Can we do a job interview role play? I’ll input a job advertisement and can you then interview me for the position?
You can input all the details from a job advertisement.
Just paste all the text from an online job advert, like “Marketing manager job advert” or “TEFL teacher France job advert” or “Podcast host job advert”
Inputting a large amount of text can confuse ChatGPT and it tends to just summarise the text. But then you can say “Ask me interview questions based on the job description I gave you”.
It should ask you some pretty good questions, relevant to that job, which will allow you to simulate the interview on your own, or at least prepare some answers. You could type your answers into ChatGPT and ask it for feedback.
But beware of just practising English through typing. Don’t forget that in the real world you have to speak spontaneously and you have to use social skills while doing it including things like body language.
Sample dialogues or texts
Ask it to produce sample texts or sample dialogues which you can then study with.
To be fair, this isn’t really necessary as there are so many texts and resources already available for you, including ones which are specifically created to help you learn English, but yes they are in published books and materials that you might not have immediate access to. Also, it’s simple to just go to ChatGPT and ask it to create any text or dialogue you want, following your specific instructions.
Can you write a 300 word text containing useful phrases for talking about using the toilet?
No speaking: Remember, Chat GPT won’t “say” any of these sentences because it is only in text form.
Can you create a 200 word story to present the use of narrative verb tenses in English?
What I want from this is a range of verb tenses. Past simple, past continuous, past perfect, with good clear examples of how those forms are used and how they are different to each other.
Did it do that?
Was it a good story?
Can it help with Cambridge Exam test preparation?
Let’s see if it can do a Cambridge First Certificate writing task.
Sample answers can help us to practice our writing by providing a model which we can learn from.
Let’s input a task directly into ChatGPT.
CAE Writing Part 1
You have received this email from your English-speaking friend David.
Subject: touring holiday
Some college friends of mine are visiting your area soon for a week’s touring holiday. They would like to travel around and learn about your local area and its history.
Can you tell me about some of the places they could visit? What’s the best way to travel around – car, bike or coach?
Write your email.
Write 140 – 190 words in an appropriate style.
It’s great to hear from you!
I’d be happy to give some recommendations for your college friends’ touring holiday in our area.
There are plenty of places to visit and explore around here. If your friends are interested in history, I would suggest they start with a visit to the local museum, which houses exhibits on the area’s past, including its early settlements and industrial heritage.
Another must-visit is the old castle, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the region. Your friends can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its history and its role in the area’s development.
As for the best way to travel around, I would recommend a car. There are several car rental agencies available in the area, and it’s an efficient and flexible way to travel and explore. However, if they are more comfortable with public transport, there are several coach tours available that take visitors around to the most popular sites.
I hope your friends enjoy their time here and get to experience everything that the area has to offer.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.
Can you give me some advice on how to do a Cambridge FCE writing task, like the one I gave you?
The answer was pretty good but it got some things wrong.
It said that I should use a formal tone, but this isn’t always the case.
The email to David shouldn’t be formal. In fact this advice contradicts what it did in the writing task. It used some informal language there.
It didn’t refer to any assessment criteria.
I’m not sure ChatGPT is consistent or reliable enough to replace proper English language teaching.
Ask it to create IELTS practice tests
I asked it:
Can you create an IELTS reading section 3 practice test?
It created a test which looked good at first glance, but it was not a proper section 3 reading test.
The test format was different and did not follow the true, false, not given format of IELTS part 3.
So this means it is not providing sufficient practice for IELTS reading section 3.
Each part of IELTS is specifically designed to test different reading skills and each reading test is very carefully created to test those skills.
Chat GPT didn’t do this to the same standard as you would find in proper IELTS test preparation materials.
Part 2 ending
That is where we are going to stop part 2.
I hope you’re enjoying these episodes and finding them useful.
Don’t forget to leave your comments in the comment section if you have something to say.
We are going to continue in part 3 of this episode, which will be available soon. In fact it might be available for you now – check the episode description for links.
In part 3 I will be attempting to get answers to these questions:
Can you use ChatGPT like a dictionary?
Can it give us the same information about words that we can find in a good dictionary?
Can it give us correct definitions, information about parts of speech, pronunciation, example sentences, synonyms, antonyms, collocations?
Can it provide information about the etymology of words and phrases?
Can it transcribe things into phonemic script?
Does it accurately transcribe things into British English pronunciation or is it just standard American?
Can it convert between different dialects of English, e.g. will it convert American English into British English, or into specific dialects of British English?
Is it able to help us to use the right sentence stress, word stress, pausing and intonation when reading things out loud?
Can it help us practise grammar by creating quizzes or tests? Are those tests reliable?
Can it help you to remember vocabulary with tests and quizzes?
Can it help you remember words and spelling with mnemonic memory devices?
Can it create text adventure games?
Can it adapt its English to different levels?
What are my overall thoughts and conclusions about ChatGPT?
A rambling episode about making a fresh start in the new year, and some things I just have to tell you about listening to Luke’s English Podcast using a podcast app on your phone + lots of tangents. I hope you enjoy it!
I start reading at 12mins12seconds in the audio version
Sometimes I go “off-script” and say things which are not written here. I hope you can follow it all.
If you’re new to this podcast – I’m Luke, I’m an English teacher and comedian from England, and I’ve been doing this podcast for learners of English for about 14 years now.
You can use my podcast to improve your English in various ways, but the main thing is that it can help you do more listening, which is essential for acquiring natural, and instinctive English. What I mean by instinctive English is that you get an instinctive feel for the language, and this is what you can get from simply engaging with English in spoken form or written form and focusing on understanding it. It really helps if the process is fun and so I do try to keep things funny (this isn’t funny though) or just entertaining and interesting as much as possible.
This is episode 805 and it’s called A New Year Ramble 2023.
I am just going to talk to you for at least an hour. Just listen to my voice for the duration of the episode and remember – all the words and sentences I am saying are all going into your brain and a lot of it will stick there! This is perhaps more effective for your English progress than slaving away over a grammar book or staring at word lists. Just listen to me, follow my words, stick with me and hopefully enjoy it all. Let the rest happen naturally.
For this episode I’ve written some notes which I am reading from sometimes, and some stuff is spontaneous.
The main thing in this episode is that I’m just going to have a ramble. That means talking and talking, sometimes going this way sometimes that way, moving from one topic to another and one thought to another without having a very clearly defined structure. As I said, I’m just going to talk to you for a while. Join me!
New Listeners, a Fresh Start & Learning English with LEP in 2023
In January I find that new people start listening (hello!)
Also people return to the podcast and generally refocus on learning English, turning over a new leaf.
New Year’s resolutions
I like to make a fresh start every January and say some things on the podcast to explain what this is, how it works, and how you can learn English from my content.
This is the 14th time I’ve recorded an new year episode. It’s my 14th January on this show so I have done quite a lot of episodes in the past welcoming new people and talking about how you can learn English with this podcast, and what the aims of this project are.
So, instead of repeating the same things again, I’ll suggest that you check out some of these episodes. (Pick some episodes to recommend)
Where can I find all your episodes, Luke?
You can always find all my episodes in the archive on my website. If you’re watching on YouTube, not all the episodes are there. Just some.
All rest are in my episode archive on my website including episode titles, numbers, summaries of what’s in each episode and then on each page you’ll find an audio player, a download button and sometimes vocabulary notes, transcripts of some or all of the episode and more things.
Some things you should know about how to listen to LEP
I’ve noticed from quite a lot of comments and emails recently that people don’t know certain key information about my show.
Let’s just clarify a few things here about this podcast.
Free episodes (Luke’s English Podcast)
and premium episodes (Luke’s English Podcast Premium)
Free episodes are free! You’re listening to a free episode right now!
If you’re listening using a podcast app on your phone, you might notice some advertising. This helps me to continue doing the podcast and pays for things like rent, internet, food.
Premium episodes are only available if you sign up to LEP Premium for about 4$ a month. This also helps me to pay for things like food, clothes for my daughter, flowers for my wife, and loads of other things. This is how I actually live these days!
Anyway, premium episodes are for premium subscribers and they’re usually about vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar.
The premium episodes have PDFs.
Some premium subscribers don’t know how to find the PDFs.
I’ll tell you more about premium a bit later including the best way to listen to premium episodes and how to get the PDFs.
How to listen to the free episodes
My show has always been primarily an audio podcast which most people listen to using a podcast app on their phone.
You can also listen to the episodes on my website.
I publish my episodes on YouTube as well.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been filming myself with a webcam while recording my episodes and putting those video versions on YouTube. Some of those YouTube videos have sort of gone viral and I’ve ended up being a kind of YouTuber as well, but I still consider this show to be an audio podcast first and foremost.
Sometimes there is more content in the audio versions, for example if I have an interview with a guest, the video version might only contain the conversation, whereas the audio version will probably include an introduction and some talking from me at the end of the episode (perhaps a short ramble or some vocabulary explanations).
When it’s possible I add some text on the screen of video versions on YouTube so you can read while you listen, but I don’t do that every time.
Automatic subtitles are available (usually) on my YouTube videos.
But this show is primarily an audio podcast. This is how I think of it. It’s an audio show which you can listen to in the normal way people listen to podcasts, which means using a podcast app on your phone.
Now, I’m going to go a bit basic here and explain what a podcast app is.
Back to basics: What is a podcast app?
The majority of you listening already know all this stuff so I’m just patronising you, but I suppose you could just pay attention to the way I’m describing all of this. How would you explain how to listen to a podcast, to someone who is completely new to the whole thing? Here’s how I would do it.
For those of you who don’t know, a podcast app is an app you download (free) onto your phone from the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android).
Lots of apps are available as I said. Check your phone. You might already have one. If you’re on iOS, you can look for the one with the purple icon that says Podcasts. Personally I’m not a huge fan of that app, but it will work fine.
Maybe you don’t have a podcast app on your phone, in which case, download one (PocketCasts!) then just search in the app for Luke’s English Podcast and then subscribe to it. Of course, other podcasts are available but who needs other podcasts I ask you?
New episodes will arrive there every time I publish them and it’s super convenient. You can listen to episodes on headphones (recommended) or just blare them out loud on your phone on the back of the bus or something if you want to annoy everyone around you or perhaps help them learn English too.
You can listen when your phone is connected to wifi (probably at home or maybe in the office when you should be working) or you can listen when you’re outside using your phone’s data internet connection.
Podcast apps will also save your place in the episode, if you press stop for some reason. The app will remember where you stopped. Then when you go back to the app later and start listening to that episode again, the app will remember where you stopped and you can carry on listening. Perfect! No need to worry about my episodes being too long! No need to listen to the whole thing in one single sitting.
There are also other advantages to using a podcast app on your phone, including being able to add my premium episodes to the app as well, if you sign up. I’ll explain more about that in a minute.
A lot of people use Spotify to listen to podcasts. Great! The only problem there is that you can’t add premium episodes to Spotify, because it’s not a “normal podcast app”.
Don’t use the Luke’s English Podcast App any more
By the way, I am not talking about the LEP App here. A lot of you have downloaded that on your phones.
It’s listed in the app store as “Luke’s English Podcast App” and it might appear on your phone as simply LEP.
But, don’t use the LEP app any more. It is defunct. New episodes are no longer arriving there and in a few months it will disappear from the App Store completely. So, you can forget about the LEP App now. It’s sad, I know, but it’s not the end of the world because you can continue listening in any other normal podcast app as I’ve said.
How to listen to LEP Premium and how to get the premium PDFs
Right, so let me talk a bit about LEP Premium. This isn’t a promotion by the way, it’s just information which a lot of people don’t know. No pressure to sign up to my premium subscription or anything. It’s totally up to you. Of course I hope you do, but it’s up to you right?
By the way, premium people – new episodes are coming including some storytime episodes.
So, I am constantly getting emails from people saying “I have signed up to LEP Premium but how do I listen and how do I get the PDFs?” and I just feel like a surprising number of people out there are somehow missing out on basic information which you just have to know or I might go a bit mad and stick bananas in my ears and then everyone will say “Hey you’ve got bananas in your ears” and I’ll say “What??” and they’ll say “You’ve got bananas in your ears!!!” and I’ll say “What????” and they’ll say “WHY HAVE YOU GOT BANANAS IN YOUR EARS???” and I’ll say “I CAN’T HEAR YOU I’VE GOT BANANAS IN MY EARS!!!”
That’s what will happen if everyone continues not to know certain basic information about my podcast and about how the premium part works.
Let me explain as quickly and clearly as possible, then we’ll move on to some ramblings about other perhaps more entertaining matters.
The best way to listen to premium episodes is to add LEP Premium to a podcast app on your phone.
Let’s say you’re using Apple Podcasts to listen to the normal free episodes of LEP and you’ve decided it’s time to also listen to the premium content to push your English further. Maybe one day you just say to yourself “Hey, I think it’s time to also listen to the premium content to push my English further” but then you think, but what do I do? Where do I go? And crucially – how do I get those precious PDFS????
Ok, so let’s say you’ve gone to www.teacherluke.Co.uk/premiumon your phone and you’ve signed up to LEP Premium and you are logged into Acast+ (the platform I use for the premium subscription).
You’ll see that you have the option to “Listen now” or “Add show to app”.
If you tap “listen now” you’ll see a list of all the episodes and you can play them, listen to them. But this is not a convenient way to listen.
You need to tap “add show to app”, so tap that and you can choose the podcast app which you have on your phone and which you use to listen to the free episodes, see?
Again, let’s say you’re using Apple Podcasts. Let’s use that as an example.
Where it says “Add show to podcast” you then tap “Apple Podcasts” and the Apple Podcasts app will magically open, giving you the option to subscribe to LEP Premium there. Do it! You’ve already paid, you’ve put your card details in and stuff, what are you waiting for. Add LEP Premium to Apple Podcasts! Go for it!
Now you have upgraded your LEP episode list on Apple Podcasts. You will now be able to find the premium episodes in your list. Before it was just the free episodes. Now the list includes the premium episodes too. Celebrate! It’s a miracle!
Spare a thought for LEPsters who can’t sign up to LEP Premium because of government stuff (Give peace a chance)
I think at this point it would be appropriate to spare a thought for those LEPsters who are unable to sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+, probably because of two possibilities – either Acast has been blocked by your government because they think that LEP and LEP Premium are just far too dangerous for people to listen to, because – heaven forbid, I might talk about things which perhaps directly contradict the version of reality which they are trying to pull over your eyes, OR your credit card will not work for international payments because your country is being sanctioned because your government is being very naughty indeed. In any case, if you can’t access LEP Premium, I am sorry, but have a word with your government OK? But don’t get thrown in jail. I know, that’s easier said than done. I don’t know – I don’t want to casually suggest that you all rise up in some kind of revolution or something, and overthrow the people who run your country, because you simply cannot allow this madness to continue and you simply must be allowed to sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+. This is up to you. I’ll let you weigh up the risks and the potential benefits and so on. Good luck.
OK but let’s say you’ve signed up to LEP Premium and you’ve successfully added the episodes to your podcast app of choice. The premium episodes are now in your list, along with the other episodes. It might not be obvious at first, but they are there, just waiting to be discovered and listened to.
How can you find them? Well, you’ll need to scroll through the list a bit. Just scroll down through the episode list and BINGO you’ll see them. All premium episodes start with P and a number. P42, P41 etc. Some episodes have the word [Premium] at the start.
Premium episodes P01-P36 were all added in July 2022 and they can be found between free episodes 776 and 777. Scroll down to episode 777 and look under it – see! Loads of premium episodes are there! (if you’ve signed up to the premium subscfiption and added the episodes to your app as I explained before)
ALL THIS STUFF ABOUT PODCAST APPS AND THE PREMIUM EPISODES IS GOING TO STOP IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES I PROMISE!! TRY NOT TO GET IMPATIENT OK??
What about the PDFs for those premium episodes?
The links for the PDFs can be found in the show notes for each premium Episode.
Anyway, what are “show notes” for podcast episodes?
In podcast apps, all podcast episodes have some text notes. This is where podcasters can add maybe a summary of the episode or some links to other things online.
See if you can find the show notes or episode notes for each episode. Go on, have a look right now?
Some of you are saying “Come oooon Luke I know where the show notes are” OK then, find them right now and look at them and then say to yourself “Yes, I know where the show notes are, thank you Luke”
On Apple Podcasts, while you have an episode selected (you’ll see the LEP logo, the name of the episode and a play button) just drag the screen up and the notes will be revealed below. Again, it’s like magic or a miracle or something. An actual miracle. Thanks Jesus!
(one of my new year’s resolutions is to have more FUN in my episodes again, because life is too short)
This is where you will find the links to download the PDF for the episode.
Tap one of the links, open the PDF and read it while you listen or send it to your computer where you can study it more carefully, annotate it with a pdf reader or even print it on paper in the old fashioned way. Then use a pencil to do the tasks.
If you’re not signed up to LEP premium: Hello! That’s fine!
You don’t have to sign up to the premium service if you don’t want to, can’t afford to or aren’t allowed to due to confusing global events and the actions of powerful men who sit at tables deciding your future.
You are still a LEPSTER and you can still enjoy all the free episodes and all the rest of it, until of course the thought police completely turn off your access to the internet. Which country are you talking about Luke? Well, whichever country is doing it.
There are show notes for all the free episodes too. (For many of you I’m teaching grandma how to suck eggs)
If you’re listening in a podcast app. Have a look – you’ll always find a link to the “episode page”. That’s where you can read any vocab notes, find the associated youTube video (if there is one) and other information that I mention in the episode.
YouTube Comments / Keeping My Episodes Varied / I’m the boss round here (yes, I am a powerful man who sits at a table and decides YOUR future)
Now we’re talking about YouTube which is another platform where I publish my episodes – either in video format (where you can see me talking, if that’s your cup of tea) or just listen to episodes without video and maybe switch on the automatic subtitles (don’t forget to smash that like button and click the bell icon and all that jazz).
One thing about being on YouTube is that there are more comments.
This is because it is much easier to comment on YouTube than it is if you are in audioland (listening on a podcast app on your phone, probably).
On YouTube the comment section is right there, and it is an integral part of the YouTube experience.
So, people comment a lot more, which is great. It is lovely to get your feedback and it’s encouraging when people respond to what you’re doing.
Sometimes it is amazing, especially if people write genuinely positive and appreciative things.
It’s mostly great, but it’s sometimes a bit irritating.
As you know, if you are a human being, the negative things tend to stick with us a bit more than the positive things.
By and large, my audience (like any audience of learners of English it seems) is incredibly thankful and appreciative, which is lovely. But naturally there are some people who are not so thoughtful and who write comments which probably tell us more about them than they do about the content that they’re commenting on.
Now, while I do believe it is really important to take criticisms on board, to consider them and to learn from them, some comments are just a bit annoying!
Well, obviously just abusive or directly rude comments are just the kind of “bird shit on the window of life” but there are some comments which are not exactly abuse, but which just show a certain lack of consideration for the content creator. I’m not going to list all the things that irritate me, because what’s the point, but one thing I have noticed is when I upload an episode, let’s say it’s a story episode, and the comment is “I miss your rambling episodes” or “Please make content about phrasal verbs” or “Please make short videos like “Don’t say please” or “stop saying thank you”.
Or I upload a rambling episode and someone comments “Make more stories, we want stories” or I do an Amber & Paul episode and the comment is “We want a Rick Thompson Report!” You get the idea.
I do a variety of episodes, and I’ve always tried to keep the episodes varied for the whole time I’ve been doing this podcast, for better or worse. This is because:
You can’t please all the people all the time (You might think that one type of episode is the best, but plenty of others will think that another type of episode is the best – in the end, I decide)
Keeping things varied keeps me motivated
It’s important for you to hear a variety of things – not just stories, not just teaching phrasal verbs etc, but also conversations, monologues, some easier episodes, some which are more difficult etc
I don’t think anyone thinks about this more than I do. I put my experience, my professional knowledge and also my heart and soul into making these episodes. They’re not always exactly perfect, but there is no such thing as “perfect” and it’s a fruitless mission to try and chase it.
Ah shit I feel like I’m being too negative now, and also overthinking everything. Ah well.
Is my show blocked in China?
Chinese LEPsters – how do you listen to my podcast? Do you use a VPN? Is my podcast available in Apple Podcasts? Is it available on any other apps? Let me know :)
Happy New Year! LET’S HAVE FUN IN ENGLISH IN 2023! GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!
Leave a comment to let me know you’re not a skeleton 👇
Learn English with another short story. In fact, this episode contains two stories. Listen until the end for the 2nd one. Repeat after me to practise your pronunciation. Learn some vocabulary & grammar in the second half of the episode, with an explanation of modal verbs of deduction in the past and present. Video version available.
Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing out there in podcast land? Surviving?
Here’s a new episode. It’s time to do some more English learning with a story.
In this episode, I’m going to read another short story to you, and use it to teach you some English.
I recommend that as well as listening to me read the story out loud to you today, that you read this story out loud too, and I will give you a chance to do that by repeating after me.
We’ll also look at some vocabulary and grammar from the story during the episode. And if you listen until the end, I will tell you another story too.
That’s all going to come later in the episode. If you’re watching the video version – hello. Don’t forget to like & subscribe.
If you are listening to the audio version. Click the link in the description to visit the page for this episode where you will be able to read a transcript for the whole things. You’re welcome.
Recently I have been looking for short stories to help me teach English, the shorter the better, and I found lots of 100-word stories on several websites. A 100-word story is a story with no more than 100 words.
Anyone can submit a story to these sites. The stories are then checked by the website editors and then published for everyone to read.
The only rule for the writers, is that the stories have a 100-word limit. I think the minimum is 75 words, but the maximum is 100. So, a story with no more than 100 words.
That’s quite a challenge.
The writers need to be very disciplined. They have to choose their words carefully, and as a result these stories are very minimal and manage to convey descriptions and emotions using only a few words.
As a teacher of English, I think these stories are great because it gives us compelling and concise samples of English to work with.
Get the book
I want to just point out that there is a book full of these very short stories, which you could buy.
It’s called Nothing Short of 100: Selected tales from 100 Word Story
OK so let’s start with a story which I’ve selected from the Nothing Short of 100 book.
This story is called DOPPELGÄNGER
By the way, we don’t usually use an umlaut in English → ä
What is a doppleganger?
A doppelganger is someone who looks exactly like someone else, but it’s creepy and scary, like a ghostly copy of someone.
I think the word has its origins in German (hence the umlaut in the title), and translates directly as “double goer”. So your doppelganger is your double, a copy of you, who looks exactly like you and who goes around, walking the earth.
In my case, that would be Luka Modric, the Croatian footballer. That’s what people say anyway, that Luka Modric is my doppelganger.
Yes, he is my doppelganger. I’m not his doppelganger, ok? He’s my doppelganger. I was here first!
We do use the word in conversational English.
We say things like “Oh, I saw your doppelganger in the street today!” (meaning, “I saw someone who looked just like you”) or “It’s amazing, he’s your complete doppelganger!” etc.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever seen someone who looks exactly like someone you know? Have you ever done a double take and been confused for a split second? Has anyone told you that they’d seen your doppelganger?
OK, I’m now going to read the story
Just one question 👇
How did the person feel at the end of the story? Why?
Answer: She felt shocked, upset, sad, surprised and possibly heartbroken. Maybe she couldn’t believe her eyes, because she saw her lover with another woman, or she saw someone who looked exactly like her lover with another woman.
Listen to the episode to hear me summarise and explain the story.
Let me give my comments and explanations, line by line (listen to get my comments)
DOPPELGÄNGER I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you. I was walking past the outdoor tables of the French café, and just at the last second, I caught a familiar hand gesture, and looked again. It couldn’t have been you though, my love, because your other hand was clasping the hand of the woman opposite. Your heads were too close. She was laughing, that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment, totally in love. I walked on, heels tapping out a staccato rhythm, as I no longer wanted to look at the you who wasn’t you.
It was her husband/boyfriend, cheating on her, having an affair with another woman.
It wasn’t her husband/boyfriend. It was just someone who looked like him, but it still disturbed her because she’s terrified that he could cheat on her.
It was her ex, someone she is still in love with. They’re not together any more. He’s moved on, but she hasn’t.
It was a guy who she loves but they’re not together and she can’t bear the fact that he’s with someone else.
Perhaps she lost her husband (he died) and she just saw someone who reminded her of him.
Vocabulary & Grammar
The you who wasn’t you (Although you normally takes are/were, it is not plural, and so the relative pronoun who is singular)
Just at the last second
To catch (a look at) something (to get a glimpse of something)
Clasping her hand
To be totally in the moment
To walk on
A staccato rhythm
It couldn’t have been you, my love 👇
Modal Verbs of Deduction
Who is that?
I’m sure/certain it’s Dave
It must be Dave
It’s possible (that) it’s Dave-not sure
It could be DaveIt might be DaveIt may be Dave
It’s impossible (that) it’s Dave
It can’t be DaveIt couldn’t be Dave
Who was that?
I’m sure/certain it was Dave
It must have been Dave
It’s possible (that) it was Dave-not sure
It could have been DaveIt might have been DaveIt may have been Dave
It’s impossible (that) it was Dave
It can’t have been DaveIt couldn’t have been Dave
Repeat the story after me, line by line.
Try to say each line with no pauses between words.
Notice which word has the main emphasis (stress) in each line.
Don’t sound like a robot! 🤖
I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you.
I was walkingpast the outdoor tables of the Frenchcafé,
and just at the last second,
I caught a familiar hand gesture,
and looked again.
It couldn’t have been you though, my love,
because your other hand was clasping the hand of the woman opposite.
Your heads were too close.
She was laughing,
that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment,
“This book says everyone has a doppelganger, a mirror image, and if you meet yours face to face, you’ll die.”
Janice, my flatmate, closed the book, finished her tea and toast, and slammed out of the door for her A&E shift at St. Margaret’s hospital just down the road. She loved any kind of fantasy literature, always immersed in some supernatural genre book. Not my cup of tea at all. Give me a good Nordic Noir mystery anytime.
After taking a shower I went to brush my teeth. If you meet your doppelganger face to face you’ll die, my reflection in the bathroom mirror laughed as I recited the words, but they’d begun to worm their subliminal way into my subconscious, waiting to claw their way to the surface and pounce.
One day, a couple of weeks later, I headed for the front door ready to set off into town where I worked at a music store. Doppelganger, I froze as my mind hissed the insidious word. What if I saw me on the train? Or stood behind me in the line at the coffee place? What if I came into the shop to buy a record and had to serve myself? The words shot through my mind. I let go of the door handle as if I had been electrocuted, and phoned in sick.
“Do you fancy a night out at that new wine bar down the street?” Janice bounced through the front door one afternoon, chirpy as a blue bird, her shift trauma-free for once.
“Not tonight, Janice, I’m still not feeling very good.” The image of my other self perched on a stool at the far end of the bar, possibly raising a toast, was too hard to stomach.
‘You haven’t been outside for ages, Natalie, not even for work…you’ll end up getting fired. What’s going on with you?” Janice pressed.
“I’ll meet my doppelganger and die if I go outside,” I burst into tears, knowing how ridiculous I sounded.
“You know there’s no such thing. You need to get help, Natalie. I’ve got a therapist friend who works at the hospital. I’ll fix you up an appointment.” She wrapped me in a comfort hug.
“You’re booked in for ten o’clock this morning.” Two days later Janice grabbed my arm and pulled me through the front door; I didn’t stand a chance.
“You won’t meet yourself between here and St. Margaret’s.” She smiled reassuringly and we set off down the street.
“Excuse me,” a hand tapped my shoulder as we waited to cross the busy main road. I turned around and my shriek froze the blood of everyone close by, before I stepped backwards off the footpath into the path of an articulated lorry.
“I didn’t mean to frighten her,” tears ran down the anguished face of one of the two men who’d been standing behind me. He was holding a large six-feet square mirror which they were carrying across to the framing workshop across the road. “I just wanted to ask her to step to one side.”
Summary of Story 2
The narrator, let’s call her Sue (although I realised after recording this that she’s actually called Nathalie in the story!) lives with her flatmate Janice.
One day Janice reads a line from a scary book she’s reading. It says that if you ever meet your doppelganger, you’ll die.
Sue doesn’t usually believe that kind of thing, but the idea gets into her head and as she is leaving the house one day, she suddenly gets scared that she might meet her doppelganger, and die.
So she decides to stay at home.
In fact she keeps staying at home, every day. The idea of meeting her doppelganger has made her too terrified to leave the house.
Janice gets worried about Sue and arranges for her to meet a therapist, and assures Sue that nothing can happen to her on the way.
Sue agrees to leave the house, but at the main road someone taps her on the shoulder.
Sue turns around and sees her own reflection.
The man who tapped her on the shoulder was trying to carry a mirror across the road.
He wanted to ask her to step to one side, to make space.
But Sue turned around and saw her doppelganger – her reflection in the mirror and screamed!
Then she stepped back, into the road, and was hit by a large lorry.
That’s the end of the episode, but check out LEP Premium.
I’m going to do a premium episode all about this second doppelganger story.
All the vocabulary (with a memory test), some grammar, some pronunciation practice.
I’ll go through the vocabulary and some grammar and I’ll do some pronunciation practice with it too, just like I did with the 100-word story.
Reading out loud can have lots of surprising benefits for our memory and our mental health. How can it also help with your English? In this episode I read an article to you, help you understand it and give comments on the importance of reading, both quietly in your head, and out loud. Video version and full transcript available.
Welcome to this new episode. This one is about reading and the power of reading aloud (reading out loud) and I think it can definitely help you with your English in various ways. Stick with me, there’s a lot to discover here.
I found an article the other day on the BBC’s website and I thought it was really interesting and definitely something I could turn into an episode of this podcast.
I am going to read the article to you in this episode. You can read it with me if you like. The link for the article is in the description, or if you are watching the video version you will see the text on the screen.
I’ll help you understand it all, we’ll consider the main points being made by the writer, I’ll give my thoughts on how this all relates to learning English and I’ll point out some bits of vocabulary for you to learn along the way.
Reading out loud ← what does this mean?
Normally when we read, we read silently. We read in our heads. 📖👀
But when we read out loud we actually say the words we are reading with our voice so that other people can hear you. 🗣️ That’s what out loud means.
Aloud and out loud are synonyms.
To read out loud (I had to read out loud in front of my class during my French lesson and it was a bit embarrassing)
To say something out loud (Don’t say that out loud, it’s supposed be a secret!)
To think out loud (What are you talking about? Oh, sorry, never mind, I’m just thinking out loud really)
To laugh out loud (LOL)
The title of the article I found is The Surprising Power of Reading Aloud, and I found it in the “Future” section of the BBC’s website.
BBC Future is a section of the BBC website where you can read some really interesting articles about lots of different subjects.
The articles are written in an academic style (so we are looking at academic English here to an extent), but these articles are very readable and they are exactly the type of reading text that you might find in an IELTS reading test. You often find academic texts about scientific subjects, or history, or psychology in IELTS tests.
So, it would be really good practice for you to read articles like this on a regular basis, whether you are preparing for IELTS or you’re just interested in developing your English generally. The articles on BBC Future are quite advanced – they are for native English speakers, but with a good dictionary and a bit of motivation, they could really help your English.
I’m going to help you do that in this episode with this particular article. I’ll take you through it and will explain things.
Let’s get started.
Before we start reading, I’ve got two tasks for you (and they’re important)
1st task: Consider some questions
Here are some questions to get you thinking 🧐🤔💭
I want you to consider these questions because this will get you in the right mental space to understand the article we’re going to read. It’s important to do this because this is how you get your mind ready before you read. So, consider these questions (below).
If you like you can pause this episode after I say these questions in order to actually answer them, in your own head or out loud.
Saying your answers out loud would be the best thing to do – to practise your speaking and putting your thoughts into words. So, if you can do that, do that, right now, with these questions.
Questions to consider before reading
When was the last time you read something in English? What was it, and why did you read it?
When you read in English or in your first language, do you usually read silently in your head or do you read out loud? Why?
In what situations do people sometimes read out loud?
Do you think reading out loud is more or less common these days than it used to be? Do people read out loud more these days, or did they do that more in the past? Why could this be?
Can you remember a time when someone read something out loud to you? What was the situation? How did it make you feel?
How about when you were a child? Can you remember any moments when someone read out loud to you? How do you feel about those memories?
What do you think is better for your English – reading texts silently in your head, reading texts out loud, or listening to other people read out loud to you? Why?
2nd task: Read the text 📖
Here’s a reading task for you
Before I read this article to you, I want you to read it yourself. Twice.
🔗 link in the description 🔗
First, read the text silently, then try reading it out loud.
You don’t have to read the whole thing. Maybe just do the first few paragraphs if you prefer.
But try it. Go on.
Read it silently first, then read it out loud.
Try not to sound like a robot 🤖
Put some life into the reading ❤️🔥
If/When you read it out loud, consider these questions. you .
Where are the pauses? Where should you pause when you read?
Which words in each line should be stressed (emphasised)?
Where does the voice go up and where does the voice go down?
How would you read it out like a TV presenter or a university lecturer?
Imagine you are reading this out for an audience.
It might affect the way you read it. 🗣️
You can do that now. The link to the article is in the description.
Read it – first silently, and then out loud like a presenter.
I’ll let you pause the episode right now and do that. I’ll continue speaking to you again in a moment.
– – – –
This is where you pause to read the article
– – – –
OK, welcome back. I know some of you didn’t pause the episode and read the text, which is totally fine.
But some of you did. Nice one.
I wonder how it was for you.
Was difficult or not?
Was it difficult to read the text?
It’s a different experience isn’t it, reading it out loud.
It has its own challenges.
Unknown vocabulary, difficult pronunciation, understanding the overall flow and structure of the text.
Now, let me read the article to you. You can read it with me too, or just listen. It’s up to you.
I’ve broken the text into sections. I’ll read a section of the article, then paraphrase what I read, add my comments and explain some words. Then we’ll move to the next section.
Whenever there’s a break in the text like this, it’s the end of a section.
– – – – – – – – –
When that happens, I’ll stop and explain things, then we’ll move on to the next section.
You’ll see some words highlighted in bold. These are words that you might not know, so I’ll explain them as we go.
Try reading aloud with me to work on your pronunciation if you like.
Most adults retreat into a personal, quiet world inside their heads when they are reading, but we may be missing out on some vital benefits when we do this.
For much of history, reading was a fairly noisy activity. On clay tablets written in ancient Iraq and Syria some 4,000 years ago, the commonly used words for “to read” literally meant “to cry out” or “to listen”.
“I am sending a very urgent message,” says one letter from this period. “Listen to this tablet. If it is appropriate, have the king listen to it.”
Only occasionally, a different technique was mentioned: to “see” a tablet – to read it silently.
Today, silent reading is the norm. The majority of us bottle the words in our heads as if sitting in the hushed confines of a library. Reading out loud is largely reserved for bedtime stories and performances.
But a growing body of research suggests that we may be missing out by reading only with the voices inside our minds. The ancient art of reading aloud has a number of benefits for adults, from helping improve our memories and understand complex texts, to strengthening emotional bonds between people. And far from being a rare or bygone activity, it is still surprisingly common in modern life. Many of us intuitively use it as a convenient tool for making sense of the written word, and are just not aware of it.
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Colin MacLeod, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, has extensively researched the impact of reading aloud on memory. He and his collaborators have shown that people consistently remember words and texts better if they read them aloud than if they read them silently. This memory-boosting effect of reading aloud is particularly strong in children, but it works for older people, too. “It’s beneficial throughout the age range,” he says.
MacLeod has named this phenomenon the “production effect”. It means that producing written words – that’s to say, reading them out loud – improves our memory of them.
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The production effect has been replicated in numerous studies spanning more than a decade.
In one study in Australia, a group of seven-to-10-year-olds were presented with a list of words and asked to read some silently, and others aloud. Afterwards, they correctly recognised 87% of the words they’d read aloud, but only 70% of the silent ones.
In another study, adults aged 67 to 88 were given the same task – reading words either silently or aloud – before then writing down all those they could remember. They were able to recall 27% of the words they had read aloud, but only 10% of those they’d read silently. When asked which ones they recognised, they were able to correctly identify 80% of the words they had read aloud, but only 60% of the silent ones. MacLeod and his team have found the effect can last up to a week after the reading task.
MacLeod says one reason why people remember the spoken words is that “they stand out, they’re distinctive, because they were done aloud, and this gives you an additional basis for memory”.
We are generally better at recalling distinct, unusualevents, and also, events that require active involvement.
For instance, generating a word in response to a question makes it more memorable, a phenomenon known as the generation effect.
Similarly, if someone prompts you with the clue “a tiny infant, sleeps in a cradle, begins with b”, and you answer baby, you’re going to remember it better than if you simply read it, MacLeod says.
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Another way of making words stick is to enact them, for instance by bouncing a ball (or imagining bouncing a ball) while saying “bounce a ball”.
This is called the enactment effect. Both of these effects are closely related to the production effect: they allow our memory to associate the word with a distinct event, and thereby make it easier to retrieve later.
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The production effect is strongest if we read aloud ourselves. But listening to someone else read can benefit memory in other ways. In a study led by researchers at the University of Perugia in Italy, students read extracts from novels to a group of elderly people with dementia over a total of 60 sessions. The listeners performed better in memory tests after the sessions than before, possibly because the stories made them draw on their own memories and imagination, and helped them sort past experiences into sequences. “It seems that actively listening to a story leads to more intense and deeper information processing,” the researchers concluded.
Reading aloud can also make certain memory problems more obvious, and could be helpful in detecting such issues early on.
In one study, people with early Alzheimer’s disease were found to be more likely than others to make certain errors when reading aloud.
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There is some evidence that many of us are intuitively aware of the benefits of reading aloud, and use the technique more than we might realise.
Sam Duncan, an adult literacy researcher at University College London, conducted a two-year study of more than 500 people all over Britain during 2017-2019 to find out if, when and how they read aloud. Often, her participants would start out by saying they didn’t read aloud – but then realised that actually, they did.
“Adult reading aloud is widespread,” she says. “It’s not something we only do with children, or something that only happened in the past.”
Some said they read out funny emails or messages to entertain others. Others read aloud prayers and blessings for spiritual reasons. Writers and translators read drafts to themselves to hear the rhythm and flow. People also read aloud to make sense of recipes, contracts and densely written texts.
“Some find it helps them unpack complicated, difficult texts, whether it’s legal, academic, or Ikea-style instructions,” Duncan says. “Maybe it’s about slowing down, saying it and hearing it.”
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For many respondents, reading aloud brought joy, comfort and a sense of belonging. Some read to friends who were sick or dying, as “a way of escaping together somewhere”, Duncan says. One woman recalled her mother reading poems to her, and talking to her, in Welsh. After her mother died, the woman began reading Welsh poetry aloud to recreate those shared moments. A Tamil speaker living in London said he read Christian texts in Tamil to his wife. On Shetland, a poet read aloud poetry in the local dialect to herself and others.
“There were participants who talked about how when someone is reading aloud to you, you feel a bit like you’re given a gift of their time, of their attention, of their voice,” Duncan recalls. “We see this in the reading to children, that sense of closeness and bonding, but I don’t think we talk about it as much with adults.”
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If reading aloud delivers such benefits, why did humans ever switch to silent reading? One clue may lie in those clay tablets from the ancient Near East, written by professional scribes in a script called cuneiform /ˈkjuːnɪˌfɔːm/.
Over time, the scribes developed an ever faster and more efficient way of writing this script. Such fast scribbling has a crucial advantage, according to Karenleigh Overmann, a cognitive archaeologist at the University of Bergen, Norway who studies how writing affected human brains and behaviour in the past. “It keeps up with the speed of thought much better,” she says.
Reading aloud, on the other hand, is relatively slow due to the extra step of producing a sound.
“The ability to read silently, while confined to highly proficient scribes, would have had distinct advantages, especially, speed,” says Overmann. “Reading aloud is a behaviour that would slow down your ability to read quickly.”
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In his book on ancient literacy, Reading and Writing in Babylon, the French assyriologist Dominique Charpin quotes a letter by a scribe called Hulalum that hints at silent reading in a hurry. Apparently, Hulalum switched between “seeing” (ie, silent reading) and “saying/listening” (loud reading), depending on the situation. In his letter, he writes that he cracked open a clay envelope – Mesopotamian tablets came encased inside a thin casing of clay to prevent prying eyes from reading them – thinking it contained a tablet for the king.
“I saw that it was written to [someone else] and therefore did not have the king listen to it,” writes Hulalum.
Perhaps the ancient scribes, just like us today, enjoyed having two reading modes at their disposal: one fast, convenient, silent and personal; the other slower, noisier, and at times more memorable.
In a time when our interactions with others and the barrage of information we take in are all too transient, perhaps it is worth making a bit more time for reading out loud. Perhaps you even gave it a try with this article, and enjoyed hearing it in your own voice?
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As a language practice exercise, try reading texts out loud.
You don’t have to do it all the time, but simply trying to read a text out loud as if you are reading it to some people, can be a good exercise.
Research suggests that it could help you remember words more effectively. The production effect means – producing words (saying them out loud) makes a difference to your ability to remember them later. Even just mouthing words when you read them helps them to go into your brain.
So, read aloud and mouth words when you read them.
Also, being prompted with a clue helps you remember words. This is called the generation effect. This encourages me a lot, because it confirms things I have been doing as a teacher, including in LEP Premium episodes when I use little prompts to help you recall words. For you, you could always create your own clues to help you remember words or phrases, or play word games in English in which you define words and then have to guess which words they are. Do this with new vocabulary. Of course, you would need friends or language partners to play with.
Acting words out, or linking them to physical movements also helps you remember words. So, when trying to remember words, add a physical element somehow, even if it means imagining yourself doing the word or being in a certain physical space when thinking of new words. For example if the expression is “to be wary of doing something” – put your hand to your chin and pretend you are being nervous about something or reluctant to do it. Make a sound like “Naaaaaaah, I’m a bit wary of doing that”. Perhaps imagine yourself at the end of a dark street and say “I’m a bit wary of going down there on my own. I think I’ll take the main road.”
Listening to other people read to you also helps a lot. So, the conclusion here is just keep listening to LEP of course! I am sure this works when someone is just speaking to you as well, especially if you are involved and caught up in what they are saying. That’s what I’ve always thought and I am sure scientific research would suggest that it’s true. My hypothesis is that people will remember more L2 words when they are presented in a meaningful context. It’s pretty obvious really.
Reading aloud might be good for your mental health. It seems that the exercise can reveal signs of dementia. Maybe reading aloud does require quite a lot of brain work – not only are you reading and decoding the words, but your brain is involved in some motor exercise too – meaning, muscle work, movement work. Surely, making your brain multi-task like this can only be good as a way of keeping it active. Brain training, basically.
It’s a good way to keep your brain young.
Reading aloud also makes you feel quite good, especially if you do it with others. It could be a good exercise with other learners of English, or with your English teacher. Of course, don’t only read aloud, but include it as part of your regular English practice. It’s especially enjoyable if you are reading out some interesting texts, and try to mix it up – some non-fiction stuff and also some stories and so on.
When you read aloud, consider where you need to chunk the text, pause, emphasise and use intonation.
Reading texts out loud is something I often do with my students in class. I ask my students to work out where the pauses should be, which words to emphasise and where the voice goes up or down.
This exercise reveals things about the text, including the structure and the real meanings and intentions of the writer.
Try reading aloud from time to time. Also try reading out loud with me, at the same time as me sometimes (if there is a transcript with the episode). It might help you notice more aspects of the language in the text, help you remember it more, and help you practice your pronunciation as well as your reading. It might also just make you feel good.
What do you think?
Leave your comments below.
What have you been thinking while listening to this?
Has it given you any ideas about learning English?
Do you have anything to add?
Put your thoughts into English in the comment section.
A Premium Series
I’m also publishing a 3-part premium series all about the language in this episode. It’ll be available soon or maybe it’s already available now. I’m going to record them right away in fact. They are the next things I’m going to record.
In those premium episodes I will go through the vocabulary which I highlighted in the text again, and I’ll expand things with slightly more detailed explanations and examples, then I’ll test your memory of those words and phrases (with some prompts and some sentences with missing words) and give you a chance to practise pronouncing all the words in sentences.
There will also be an episode where we practise reading aloud some of the paragraphs from the text, with advice about where to pause, which words to emphasise and so on, with sentences to repeat after me.
To get those episodes, sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+. You can add the premium episodes to your podcasting app, and also access PDFs and video versions that way. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium for the premium series focusing on the language in this episode.
That’s it for this episode, but I will be back soon with more things for you to listen to, including more stories which I would like to read to you, and conversations with guests, and all the other types of episode I like to present to you on my show.
Thanks for listening, but for now – good bye bye bye!
This is a free sample of LEP Premium, available for everyone. In this episode I’ll tell you about my technique for learning English with stories and transcripts, with full details about how to improve your English with my stories. Then I’ll tell you a story about a time I had an encounter with a bear, and then I’ll give you some language practice exercises for your grammar and vocabulary, and some pronunciation drills to let you repeat after me. Full PDF transcript available + video version available too.
🏆 LEP Premium is a series of bonus episodes from Luke’s English Podcast in which I teach you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. LEP Premium is now available on Acast+ Episodes are usually in audio format (with some bonus videos), and you can listen to them in any normal podcast app.
This is episode 735 and it is a rambling episode, which means it’s just me talking to you about various things – including: whatever comes into my head while I’m recording, but specifically this time I’m aiming to talk about
Being back from holiday and getting back into the podcast zone
Comments about my audio listeners and my video viewers on YouTube
News about moving flat and moving to my new pod room (You can see that the move hasn’t started yet and so the podcast has not been disrupted yet)
Some common questions from the YouTube comment section (new listeners)
Charlie Watts – the drummer from the Rolling Stones who passed away yesterday
A couple of comments from the comment section including one very motivational email I got from a long-term listener
Whatever else occurs to me as we record this!
As well as being available as a normal episode of the audio podcast, this is also available on YouTube with some text on the screen – the notes and scripts that I’m reading from, so you can read along with me and spot certain phrases and spelling and so on.
By the way – you can always pause this and check the screen if you feel you didn’t understand something or you found a new word or phrase.
I’m reading from a script / notes
In this episode I’m reading from a script which I wrote last night. I don’t normally read from a pre-written script when I do these rambles, but this time is different.
I wrote most of this script last night, when it wasn’t really the right time to do a podcast recording, but I still consider this to be a rambling episode because I just rambled with my fingers last night and now I’m just reading out the text-ramble that I created, so it still counts as rambling as far as I’m concerned, and I of course I can deviate from the script/notes whenever I want.
So stick with me and I hope you enjoy listening to my words as they flow out like endless rain into a paper cup – a cup which you can take and drink from, metaphorically of course.
Drink my English – that’s what I’m saying. I hope you know what I mean!
In the podcast zone (this is what I wrote last night)
I’m sitting here in front of the computer. My wife is lying across the sofa watching a French TV show on her phone and she’s under a nice sheepskin blanket that we have so she is feeling very cosy. I’ve just made her a cup of mint tea and I’ve tucked her feet into a blanket because I’m such a great guy and a really wonderful husband.
The child is in bed asleep, and despite the madness that is going in on the world outside, this is a little moment of peace and quiet.
Now I’m sitting with my computer on my lap, but I’m pretty much in the podcast zone right now – meaning, that I’m thinking of ideas for the podcast, considering what I’ve been doing and what I should do next. I know I should be able to record tomorrow as the little one is going to her French grandparents for a few days and my wife has work to do, so tomorrow is podcast day.
But I’m in the podcast zone now because I’m thinking about podcast ideas and things to record tomorrow. I’m just writing down my thoughts on my computer as they come into my head. I’m trying to write down every thing I’m thinking in order to make sure this is actually a rambling episode. I’m rambling everything down in text form here and I’m trying to make it sound like I am actually speaking normally and not reading from a text.
What I’ll have to do tomorrow is record this but make it sound like I’m just saying it all off the top of my head.
Also I might just go off on a tangent at any point and deviate from the script, if something occurs to me.
In fact, what I’m going to do is, the word-for-word script for this is going to stop soon and I’m going to just write down some basic notes and then expand on them as I talk into the microphone tomorrow (which is actually today – so, tomorrow is now, so, are we in the past, the present or the future? I think I might have just invented time travel. These words are from yesterday, but I’m reading them now and you’re going to listen to them in the future – let’s just say that in podcastland, time is a sort of flexible thing a bit like a jelly or something.
Yep, in LEPland, time is jelly – which might explain why my episodes are quite long sometimes.
In any case, I would like to record this episode tomorrow as a kind of welcome back before embarking on things like premium content and other episodes I’ve been planning.
I do have other episodes I’d like to do and tbh while I was away on holiday over the last 3 weeks or so I was itching to get back to podcasting.
I had lots of ideas popping into my head which I couldn’t quite hold onto and as I didn’t get the chance to write them down, they’ve all disappeared into the ether – little ideas, comments, stories that occurred to me at various moments, like when I’m in the shower but which I almost instantly forgot – so I was quite keen to do some recording again after being away just to satisfy the compulsive podcasting side of me.
The holiday was fantastic and one of the best ones we have had for ages. I’ll tell you about it a bit later in this episode.
Those other episodes I could be doing right now:
P31 parts 4,5,6
Learn English from my mum as we look at phrases which came up in our conversation in episode 717 – learn them properly with loads of examples and the chance to do plenty of listen and repeat pronunciation work with me so you don’t just learn new language, but learn how to produce it too.
War of the Worlds part 4 (conclusion?)
88 English expressions that will confuse everyone! (remember that? I never finished it)
More stories like The Mountain
Reading from more texts or books
An episode with The Thompsons which I recorded when I was in England
Some invitations to other podcasters/English teachers who have interviewed me recently
Top 10 Jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe 2021
And I have a big list of other ideas which I am slowly working my way through.
But I think before I do those ones and perhaps some others, I’d like to just do this rambling episode with you.
These rambling episodes are where I just talk to you directly and move from topic to topic almost making it all up as I go along.
So just keep up with me, follow along and let the words flow through you like the force in Star Wars.
Feel the English, let it flow through you.
Be the English.
Imagine blue lazers and Star Wars / The Matrix type stuff.
Be one with the living English and listen with me as I chat to you about various things.
Audio listeners / Video Viewers (LEP is an audio podcast, with some videos on YouTube)
Most people listening to this – the vast majority listening to my words right now are listening to my podcast on their phone probably with headphones on, using a podcasting app of some sort, probably the native Apple Podcasts app on the iPhone or something like Spotify or another podcasting app, or perhaps you are listening on the LEP App.
Most people listen to the audio version of this – and I’m saying this now because I’m also recording a video version of this on YouTube and I feel like YouTube is a pretty different audience.
All the other platforms (ways to listen to the audio podcast) are united in one sort of group – the audio LEPsters and they’re more ninja-ish but they’re perhaps a bit more solid, reliable, dependable and loyal.
I don’t mean to have a pop at (criticise) the video LEPsters on YouTube, but they seem to be a slightly different type of LEPster. I feel like YouTube LEPsters are less ninja-ish because there are many more comments.
Also, YouTube LEPsters (hello) seem to be less aware of the back catalogue of episodes, and I get a lot of people who have never heard the podcast ever before. (shocking, I know)
But YouTube has enormous potential to go viral. In fact, in a way it’s like swimming in the deep ocean and you could catch a current and get into the very deep water.
I mean, most episodes on YouTube get less attention than the audio versions, but then some videos go viral as they get picked up by the algorithm which is responding to the way people interact with your video and I guess that the algorithm sort of picks up on videos which are popular and promote them, as a way to always present the best content on the platform.
So a couple of my recent videos went a bit viral (not a lot but a bit), which was nice.
So – YouTube LEPsters – here, let me just have a word for a moment.
Really, this is an audio podcast that also has a youtube channel and recently I’ve been uploading more to it, but really this is still, mainly, an audio show and I have a big archive of audio episodes on my website and in my app.
Not all the episode are available on YouTube and they’re not all on Apple Podcasts, but they’re all there on my website, with episode pages for each and every single one of them and audio download links.
Go to my website teacherluke.co.uk (I know it looks like it was made in 2012) and then click EPISODES in the menu, and also in the LEP App you can get every single episode.
Most people listen to my podcast using an app on their phone and they listen when they are probably doing something else, like walking around, driving (please be careful), doing housework, doing exercise or simply breathing.
So listening to the audio version on your phone seems to be the normal way to do it.
If you listen using a podcast app on your phone, and you need to stop listening for whatever reason, the app will remember where you stopped listening and you can then carry on from that point later. So, you don’t have to listen to an episode in one single go.
The majority of my audience listen to the audio version of this and I’ve been doing the audio podcast for over 12 years now, and I have a big back catalogue of episodes and I have talked about lots of different things over the years including some things that I’m sure you’d like to hear, so check out the episode archive for the older episodes.
My app disappeared from the Apple App store for a couple of days (I had a payment issue with Apple) and when it came back all the ratings and reviews had gone (3 years’ worth), which was annoying. Can you do me a favour (no obligation of course) and give the app a rating and a review (if you use it)?
How was your holiday?
It was great. No need to go into full detail like I have in the past, but basically we got lucky with the weather and had a really lovely time.
What about moving to your new flat and moving to a new pod-room?
Building work is being done in the new flat. I think the downstairs neighbours will want to murder us.
I probably won’t get the keys to the new pod-room until mid September, and then I’ll move in there. I’ll need to get electricity and internet connected there, and to fit a desk and some shelves, and then it’ll be the official new pod-room.
Common Questions since going viral on YT
I am going to try to answer these questions as quickly and succinctly as possible without rambling at all in fact. So in this rambling episode, here is a section with no rambling.
I hope that’s clear.
So, this is a rambling episode, with a bit where there’s no rambling.
Anyway – no rambling here, let’s just get straight to the point and keep it simple.
Common Questions from YouTube
Where are you from?
Can you do an episode about ______?
Check the episode archive on my website. There’s a chance I’ve already talked about that.
Go to the archive and do a ctrl+F search for the keywords you’re interested in.
How can I learn English by listening to your podcast?
This can really help you a lot, but it’s not the only thing you should do.
It’s also important to read a lot (find texts which are not too tricky, use fairly modern English and which you actually want to read) study a bit (use grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation teaching materials of any kind and work with them – it’s not the only thing, but it helps) do lots of speaking if you can (ideally find someone to have meaningful conversations with, perhaps a teacher or language partner who can give you some little corrections and encouragement) and write on a regular basis too (practise writing different types of text or just write a diary every day in which you express your thoughts in English – you’ve got to express yourself in English regularly in order to find your voice).
Learning English is about learning how to do something, not just learning how to understand something, and we generally get better at things by trying to do them again and again.
So listen and read a lot and try to speak and write a lot too. That’s quite general advice but there it is.
For more specific advice on how to use the podcast to improve your English, you could listen to these episodes
Should I listen to the episodes on order?
It’s up to you really. You can just listen to all the new ones as they come out, but if you really want to learn from me properly then I would suggest listening from episode 1.
Certainly if you are a lower level learner, the first 50-ish episodes are probably a bit easier to understand and have more specific language-teaching objectives, so it would be good to start with them.
But equally, if you just find my episodes fun and interesting you can listen to them in any order you like. Be aware though: multi-part episodes should be heard in order, and there might be little private jokes and references from earlier episodes which you might not understand (like the dreaded Russian Joke).
Can you do more story episodes?
Yes, I’m planning to do more stories.
Can you do episodes about grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation?
Consider signing up to LEP Premium for loads of episodes like that.
Can you feature ___(insert name here)___ again? (Check previous episodes)
Check the archive – a lot of my guests have been on the podcast before, especially favourites like Amber & Paul and my family. Check the archive.
Can you do video episodes every time?
Not every time, but I’ll try to do them as often as possible.
Is there a transcript for this episode?
Episodes with transcripts
Episode archive and check
YouTube channel – automatic subtitles
Live without subtitles – Learn to hear the spoken version of English without the aid of the written version (Although subtitles and scripts can also be a great resource, and so you should do a bit of both).
Recent appearances on other people’s podcasts
So in the last episode I mentioned:
The Level Up English Podcast
Stories of Language Learners Podcast
Since then I was also on:
English Small World Podcast (by Apex Language Consulting & Training in Taiwan) (2 episodes) apexenglishpodcast.podbean.com
The Clark and Miller English Podcast
The Rolling Stones seem to be missing a drummer and a bass player. I hear Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are available. Imagine if they formed a Beatles/Stones supergroup at the very end of their careers?
But of course nobody could replace the people who are gone like Charlie Watts and Lennon and Harrison, but still it would be fun for the five remaining guys to get together and perform.
Actually I think they’d be an amazing band but there would be ego struggles between Jagger and McCartney for stage limelight.
Paul and Keef are great mates I believe and they used to meet up together when they both stayed in the Caribbean
and probably have a few cups of tea and have a laugh and tell stories of the old days.
So they’re pretty tight, and Ringo is friendly with everyone and still drumming.
The Rolling Beatles
Message from Lio in Brazil
Remember the WISBOLEP competition? That was awesome.
From Lio from Brasil who didn’t make it to the last 16.
Lio appears at about 2:24:00 in the Wisbolep 1 video.
The point is – there were so many people who sent really great recordings and who didn’t get through to the last 16.
I want to share this because it is a very real example of someone who has connected the learning of English to their personal life in a very human way – which means, making mistakes, acknowledging motivational issues and finally coming to terms with the fact they have to take responsibility for learning and the end result is great.
This is an excellently written email that obviously just came out of Lio without him planning it and rewriting it. He has done really well with his English, as have so many other LEPsters. This is what he wrote.
Lio from Brasil
I had so much fun during this competition, even though I didn’t pass the first round.
Let me tell you something, I’ve been meaning to write it for a long time..:)
You know, I need to be frank, I was sooo happy and keen to participate that, when I recorded my pitch, I wasn’t thinking about “what” I should have said, but only about “how” to say it, (very slowly and clearly).
My thought was: “I want everyone to understand me”, because I guess that there are different types of lepsters, people who just started and people who have been listening for years…
So I decided to speak that way..,I guess the result was that I made myself sound like a robot 😶
I don’t want to be too hard on myself but knowing that there is always room for progress, helps me on the journey, it tells me that I could be working even harder on my English, while at the same time having fun.
I love this language and when I was younger, it was so frustrating and tiring. You know the vibe because you’re learning French and you need it in one way or another.
As a non native speaker I knew as a child that I HAD to learn English, sooner or later.
It was only 9 years ago that I started to want to learn it…and did I start then? Of course not!!! naaa, too easy!! Let’s just procrastinate for other 5 or 6 years 😜
And so, as the story goes, in 2016 (November, I swear 😂) I started googling “learn English” online, Youtube and other websites…but I wasn’t satisfied, I was looking for something that wasn’t boring or “slow-paced”.
I desired something interesting and alive, that could help me defeat my tendency to quit learning the language.
Why? Because English represented this scary monster in my head and I had more worries than solutions at the time. So I felt the need to challenge myself and, as a beginner your podcast seemed quite advanced and not doable, I thought I couldn’t possibly succeed in understanding everything that was being said, episode after episode.
And then, at a certain point, I don’t know when or how, it just “clicked”…I think around episode 60 or 70…I suddenly realized I was understanding everything on the podcast.
At that point, after years of procrastination, failures and half attempts at learning the language, I felt like: “that’s it! I got it! Finally!”
Now, let me just tell you that I was aware of how much work I still needed (and need now)..but believe me…I cracked the code, I finally unlocked this thing, I got this! That’s how I felt…
But I need to add that, although I had finally found the resource I was looking for, I wasn’t disciplined enough for self studying and I already knew very good books (Raymond Murphy’s and collegues), but as you said so many times that I couldn’t possibly remember, you need to take responsibility for the learning process.
I really liked episode 686, you and Christian from Canguro English said a very important thing.
Sometimes people think that when one wants to learn a language, he/she simply needs to take lessons from a teacher saying: “Ok, I’m here, just fill me up with English”, so to speak..but if that was the case, how much easier things would be?
There is that film with Keanu Reeves, what was its name? Oh Yeah “Johnny Mnemonic” (1995) in which they put data inside his brain and he has to carry it, as a courier I believe.
Anyway the point is, it doesn’t work like that, us, learners, we are the ones that need to do the hard work, guided by our teachers, in the lepsters case, by you of course, 😁you’re the one who unlocks all of this.
I followed a lot of advice you gave and let me tell you… thank you, it worked wonders!
So yeah, 80% of what I know comes from here! LEP!
But there is also something I love doing as much as possible, and that’s creating my own learning bubble where I’m immersed in the language, as much as possible. Your podcast is a great way to do that ! You definitely revolutionized my English comprehension, aquisition and assimilation and I’m so thankful for that! Not only the language, but your culture too!
I remember episode 100 of Lep: “Going to the pub”, (wow, so many years ago), that’s how it felt in this journey, sitting in a pub with a friend, chatting about so many things, that was the classroom. And episode 99:” The Rotary Sushi Bar of English”, where you pick up all the different portions of English.
Let’s wrap this up, shall we? :)
Thank you for all of this! I had and I’m having so much fun with Lep and knowing that so many people are part of this community is a strong reminder that in the end we’re all from Lepland, we all share this passion for the language and, as our teacher said many times, it’s all about connection, not perfection!
P.S. Let me do it at least once …I’m certainly rushing to get to next episode…hehe ;)
Until then…bye bye byee bye bye
All the best,
HAMAD – STOP LISTENING TO LEP IN THE BATHROOM!
Hope you are doing great in these Covid-19 times.
One of your very dedicated listeners is Hamad, my husband, who annoyingly keeps listening to your podcasts in the bathroom, while showering, even when he is changing his clothes!
He keeps waking me up from my sleep during his morning “rituals”, or anytime he goes to the bathroom to do ANYTHING.
Please let him know i sent you this message, and tell him to PLEASE stop listening to your podcasts in the BATHROOM.
Sincerely, a concerned yet disturbed wife, Aysha
Sent from my iPhone
That’s all folks!!!
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