Category Archives: Uncategorized

693. English With Lucy / A Conversation with Lucy Earl

Chatting to Lucy Earl from the English with Lucy channel on YouTube.

Small Donate Button


Introduction & Ending Transcripts

Hello everyone, How are you doing today? 

I hope you are fine and completely ready to listen to this new episode of my podcast. 

A couple of things before we get started.


Voting is currently underway in the WISBOLEP competition, as you may know if you have heard the previous episode of this podcast. If you haven’t voted yet, head over to to hear all the entries and to choose who you think should be interviewed in an episode of the podcast. Find the voting form, tap the names of the people you want to vote for and then click vote. The voting closes on 6 December at midnight CET. 

LEP Premium 27 & 28 –

Also, hello premium subscribers – you might have seen that I’ve uploaded parts 1 & 2 of premium series 27. P27 is an error correction series. It’ll be an 8-part series in total. Parts 1 & 2 are available for you now. In that series I’m not just correcting some common errors but using those errors as a starting point to teach various bits of vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Check it out in the LEP app or on the website. Premium 27 parts 1 & 2 are already available for you.

Also – coming very soon to LEP Premium (and possibly even available now, depending on when you listen to this) – coming soon is an episode with over 50 phrases from the conversation you’re going to hear in this episode. I’ve picked out over 50 things which I think that you might miss or that you might not know. It will help you to understand this conversation a lot more and will help you use it to expand your English beyond the benefits of only listening to it.  

To find out how to access the premium episodes and to get all the relevant information about LEP Premium go to

A Conversation with Lucy

In this episode you can hear me in conversation with Lucy Earl from the English with Lucy YouTube channel.

Do you know English with Lucy on YouTube?

I’d be surprised if you didn’t. She has to be one of the most famous English teachers on YouTube, certainly one of the most well-known British English teachers on that platform.

Her YouTube channel currently has over 5 million subscribers and that number is growing all the time. The last time I checked it was 4.something and then checking today it says 5.06 million, so she’s doing quite well, isn’t she? 

Yes, it is a huge success and earlier this year Lucy actually mentioned this podcast in one of her videos and recommended it as a good way to learn English through listening and I thought, “Hello, Lucy knows about LEP, and apparently she likes it. That’s nice. Maybe I should invite her onto the podcast for a bit of a chat.”

So that’s what I did and that’s what you’re going to get here. A friendly chat with Lucy Earl from English with Lucy.

Here is a quick run-down of what comes up in the conversation you are about to hear. 

We talk about…

  • Our accents and how they change sometimes, depending on who we’re with.
  • Lucy’s educational background & university life.
  • Learning Spanish and how she managed to get fluent
  • Getting recognised, or not getting recognised by people who have seen her videos
  • How she got into teaching and how she started her YouTube channel 
  • Some stories of living and hanging out in London, where she went to university
  • What it’s like sharing a flat with lots of other people and the conditions we lived in and things we did when we were students
  • The process of making video content and her approaches to managing her time
  • The experience of being a content creator at home, including how to stay focused and motivated and avoiding distractions like social media and procrastination in general.
  • How organised or disorganised we both are, in various aspects of our lives – including how tidy our bedrooms are.
  • Life on the farm (because Lucy lives on a farm these days) and how the weather is so important
  • What Lucy plans to do in the future, including some details of a new pronunciation course she has set up. 

Spot the moments of humour

As you listen to this I would like you to spot the moments of humour that come up. Maybe you’ll notice them, which is great, but I just want to flag this up as a little thing to focus on. I wonder if you will spot all the humorous moments. Try to listen out for these things.

Self-deprecation —> putting yourself down in order to be modest or not arrogant, perhaps saying things which aren’t really true but saying them just to be humorous and to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously.

Innuendo —> pointing out things that could have a sexual meaning or outright saying things that obviously have a double meaning which is sexual. Basically this means saying things which are rude and sexual but not saying them directly. Just hinting at it, suggesting something that has a sexual meaning, saying something a bit ambiguous that could also be rude if you think about it. This often involves things like the verb “do” which can mean several things including “having sex”.

If you don’t really get what I’m talking about then don’t worry, I will explain it all later in the episode.

But there are a couple of moments of self-deprecation and 4 or 5 specific innuendos to listen out for.

I’ll highlight them more specifically at the end. 

Also, there is a video version of this conversation on my youtube channel (just the conversation without my intro and outro). So, if you’d like to watch the two of us speaking, and for example you want to see me blush when at one point Lucy mentions taking off her clothes, then you can. Just go to my channel and check out the video there. Don’t forget to like and subscribe as well, ok guys?Smack that like button. Actually, just clicking it or tapping it is fine. No need to actually smash the like button. You might damage your computer, or phone, or tablet.

Anyway, so I will now let you listen to our chat. Watch out for the things I mentioned, try to keep up and I hope you simply enjoy listening to this conversation with Lucy Earl from English with Lucy. Here we go…

YouTube Version (doesn’t include 25 minutes of intro/ending content)



So, that was my chat with Lucy and it was very nice to actually meet her and chat to her like that, person to person. It’s always lovely to meet people and actually talk to them properly, especially when you only know them from YouTube videos or something. – offer code LUKE15

Don’t forget that you can get a 15% discount on all of Lucy’s new pronunciation courses if you use the offer code LUKE15 (that’s l u k e, not l o o k or l u c k, ok?) A little spelling test there – if you fail to spell my name properly, you will not get the 15% discount. 

Use the offer code LUKE15 to get 15% off Lucy’s pronunciation courses.

We’re not done yet. I still have plenty of things to say here. 

Those moments of humour

I asked you at the beginning to listen out for certain bits of humour – self-deprecating humour and also some innuendos. Did you notice them? They were probably quite obvious, but let’s see.


A reminder of what an innuendo is – it’s a comment which is indirectly rude or sexual. Not a directly sexual comment, but one which is a bit ambiguous and could have a sexual meaning. I talked about this in episode 447 which was all about British humour with Amber Minogue. 

Anyway, here are the innuendos in this episode.

Lucy: A language exchange 

Luke: were they just exchanging languages or…

~exchanging languages, or exchanging other things – bodily fluids perhaps, or as Lucy pointed out, tongues. Bear in mind that this was in reference to people in their teens or 20s on Erasmus programmes, socialising at infamous nightclubs like Tiger Tiger in London where people typically go to pick people up or get picked up by people and exchanging tongues is quite a normal thing that happens there.

Lucy: Being with a Spanish guy – that is, I’m sad to say, one of the best ways to get fluent in another language… is to shack up with someone!

Luke: Learning by doing, as it’s called.

~Learning by doing. This normally refers to learning a skill by actually doing it, or perhaps learning English by doing something in that language, such as learning English by doing a cooking course in English. Or learning to cook by actually cooking rather than just being shown how to do it by a cooking instructor. 

But “doing” can also mean having sex. Not always of course. It depends heavily on the context. Don’t be scared of the word do. If you said “I’m doing my homework” I don’t think anyone would misunderstand that. It only becomes an innuendo in certain contexts, like this one. Getting into a relationship with someone, and no-doubt getting into bed with them too, can be a great way to learn a language. Learning by doing. You see. OK. I’ve made that joke on the podcast a few times before. Have you ever noticed it before?

Lucy also mentioned the phrase “to shack up with someone”. This is not “to shag someone”, although it sounded like that. To shag someone means to have sex with them. It’s a fairly rude slang expression, which I don’t count as a proper swear word by the way.

Anyway, that’s not what Lucy said. What she said was, “One of the best ways to get fluent is to shack up with someone”. This means to move in with them. It’s quite an informal expression. A shack means a place to live, like a house (specifically it’s a sort of little house made of wood or something) but the point is “to shack up with someone” means to move in with someone and live with them. But the suggestion is also that this means being in a relationship with them too, and the suggestion is also that you’re sleeping with them, right?

Lucy: I have a terrible habit of removing my clothing… Oh, and putting it on the floor.

Luke: Not just removing your clothes.

Lucy: Well that’s another habit, but I’ve had therapy for that. [I don’t think she has actually had therapy for this – she’s just being self-deprecating so she doesn’t sound like an exhibitionist]

Luke: (Talking about shepherds and saying something like “You don’t have sheep on your farm though do you?”)

Lucy: I think his dad did do sheep at one point. I think everyone’s done sheep at one point. You’re not a real farmer unless you’ve tried sheep.

Luke: You mean breeding sheep. Sheep-on-sheep action. Not anything else.

Lucy: Oh lord no! 

Luke: You did talk about doing sheep. I felt compelled to highlight the innuendo. I’m very good at digging myself into holes here. 

Lucy: I think that’s what the farmers were doing.

Self-deprecating humour

My podcast is massive. It’s got global reach. It’s very influential. I’m working on Vladimir Putin, subliminally. [I’m not really] Sarcasm + self-deprecation

50+ bits of language highlighted in Premium 28, coming soon…

There may be other specifics that you didn’t notice or didn’t understand in this conversation. If you want to make sure you got it all, and learn loads of English from this episode, check out P28 which is either coming very soon or available now, depending on when you listen to this. I’ve got about 50 extracts from this conversation, full of target language for you to pick up and add to your active vocabulary. Check it out. That’s Premium episode 28 in the LEP Premium subscription, available for premium subscribers now or at least very very soon. To find out more about the premium subscription go to 

Song on the Guitar

Some Might Say by Oasis – chords & lyrics here

Thanks for listening – speak to you again soon!

686. Christian from Canguro English

A conversation with YouTube English teacher Christian Saunders from Canguro English about the realities of learning and teaching English, motivation and goal-setting in language learning, Paul McCartney recording an album in his kitchen and plenty more. Video version also available on YouTube.

Audio Version (with extra content)

Small Donate Button


Video Version (just the conversation)

LEP Premium Promo

Hello folks, let me tell you about LEP Premium. There’s a thing called LEP Premium and it’s my paid subscription service. In premium episodes I do my best to help you expand your vocabulary, understand grammar and improve your pronunciation. I publish the episodes on my website and in the LEP App. If you’d like to sign up or just get more information go to

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

In this episode you can hear me having a conversation with Christian from Canguro English. 

Do you know about Canguro English? Some of you will already be aware of it. 

Canguro English is a YouTube channel, it’s an Instagram account, it’s a Facebook page, it’s a Twitter account and it’s also an audio podcast, and it’s all the work of Christian Saunders, an English teacher who originally comes from Australia but now lives and works in Spain. 

By the way, the “Canguro” part is spelled c a n g u r o – and it’s spelled like that because it is pronounced exactly the same as the word kangaroo when pronounced in Christian’s Aussie accent, the kangaroo of course being one of the symbols of Australia (Do you know what a kangaroo is? It’s that animal that has a long tail, large hind legs and a pouch on its belly. They jump around the Australian outback and in fact can only be found in Australia). Say kangaroo in an Aussie accent and it sounds like it should be spelled c a n g u r o.

I’ve been aware of Christian and his work for a few years now as his videos often pop up in my suggested videos section on YouTube. Christian teaches English in his videos like many other YouTube English teachers, but over the last few years he has focused on delivering messages about changing the way we learn and teach languages, the importance of taking responsibility for your own language learning, and generally exploring the psychology and philosophy of learning other languages, especially English.

When I see Christian’s videos, I’m always struck by how passionate he is about his work, how he manages to communicate quite complex ideas using simple language in a clear and engaging manner, his use of metaphors and visual demonstrations and a generally thoughtful and generous approach to helping people not only learn English, but to think about how they approach the learning of English.

Then recently Christian did an event on social media in order to raise money for educational charity. Some of you might have seen it. The video involved him reading every single word from a copy of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, live on YouTube, which is actually much harder than it sounds. 

He sat in front of the camera with the dictionary in front of him and proceeded to read each word one by one, and he continued doing it for 18 solid hours. You can find the video on YouTube.

I watched some of it and it was impressive – not just because it was for a good cause but because it seemed so tough! 

After 10 hours or something he seemed to be totally exhausted! His eyes were hurting, his face was hurting, his brain was hurting! He must have been going mad sitting in front of that huge tome with so many thousands of words ahead of him, and the whole time there were people in the comment section encouraging him, cheering him on and donating money to the educational charity he was promoting – the aim being to raise $50,000 to go towards the building of a school for poor children. 

After watching Christian for a whileI went to bed, and when I woke up early the next morning, he was still going!

I decided there and then that it was about time I talked to him on my podcast, just because I wanted to know what it was like for him, to let him explain why he was doing it, and also to get stuck into a wider conversation about lots of other things, and that’s what you’re going to hear. I sort of had a feeling that we’d get on quite well and that we’d have plenty to talk about, and I wasn’t wrong as you’ll hear in our chat.

This was a long conversation but it went by really quickly and it was really enjoyable to actually talk to Christian properly after having seen his thought provoking videos on YouTube. 

Our conversation covers things like, catching COVID-19, the charity dictionary-reading marathon, Christian’s story of moving to Spain and renovating an old barn into a home for him and his family, what it’s like being an English teacher in classrooms and also a content creator for learners of English online, motivation in language learning, my personal situation learning French, Christian’s speaking style, how Barack Obama speaks, Paul McCartney recording an album in his kitchen and loads of other things too. 

I’m very happy that I spoke to Christian because the conversation you’re about to hear does contain some really important principles about language learning – including many big conclusions that both Christian and I have reached after being involved in language teaching and learning for many years. Listen carefully – there is definitely some good wisdom to be picked up from this (I hope so anyway) and at the very least, it’s nice to just get to know Christian in a bit more detail.

You should know that there is a YouTube video version of this conversation in which you can see both Christian and me talking to each other, so head over to my YouTube channel “Luke’s English Podcast” on YouTube to find it, and don’t forget to like and subscribe when you do that (that’s right “smash that like button” guys). You will also find the YouTube video of this conversation embedded on the page for this episode on my website.

That’s it for my introduction. I’ll talk to you again briefly at the end of this episode. But now I will let you get stuck into this conversation with Christian from Canguro English, and here we go.

Ending Transcript

So, that was Christian from Canguro English. Come on, that was good wasn’t it? I hope you agree that there were plenty of solid bits of insight about language learning there, from two teachers who’ve been working for years to actually help people learn English. 

Thank you again to Christian for talking to us and for giving his sincere and thoughtful comments on all the stuff that I asked him about.

Remember, there is a video version of this episode and you’ll find it on YouTube – Luke’s English Podcast is the channel name. Don’t forget to like and subscribe, ok guys. Smash that like button, etc. Seriously though, why not watch the video now that you’ve heard the audio. It could be a good way to reinforce what you’ve heard and there’s a good chance you’ll understand a lot more the second time round. My episodes are often long and have a lot in them, so listening or watching more than once is definitely worthwhile, if you can find the time to do it.

Also, check out Canguro English on YouTube. Have a look at his dictionary challenge if you want to see a man suffering! Otherwise, have a look at the various videos he has made about the psychology of learning English and more.

A quick note about WISBOLEP – I am working on the next part of that, so stay tuned and watch this space.

Also, I’m working on premium content which should be coming soon, but otherwise there’s a large library of episodes there for you to work with, including pronunciation drills which I think might be some of the most valuable of the premium episodes. 

Finally, I feel inspired to sing a song with my guitar. 

The tune I’m going to do is called Wonderful World – not the Louis Armstrong one, although that is lovely. This is the one by Sam Cooke and it is dedicated to my lovely wife who has more patience than I gave her credit for in this episode :)

You’ll find the chords and lyrics on the page for this episode if you’d like to sing along or learn it for yourself.

Wonderful World by Sam Cooke (Lyrics and guitar chords)

682. Key Features of English Accents, Explained

Exploring the main differences between standard English pronunciation (RP) and non-standard regional or colloquial accents. How do people really speak in different parts of England, and how does this accent differ from the accent you probably hear in English language course books and dictionaries? Notes & videos available below.

Small Donate Button [DOWNLOAD]

Notes & Transcripts for this Episode Start HERE

LEP Premium Promo

Hello everyone, this episode is brought to you by LEP Premium which is my paid subscription service in which I focus on teaching you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation to really boost your English. It includes a big library of audio episodes, video episodes and PDFs plus new content arriving all the time. You get episodes in the LEP App or online. To get started go to 

Hello and welcome to the podcast!

I hope you’re doing fine today. I’m alright thanks for asking. It’s a Thursday afternoon. I have finished my teaching for the day. I’m at home. I’ve had lunch. It’s now pouring with rain outside. The conditions are perfect for learning and teaching English in another new episode. 

This one is going to be a deep dive into English accents and we’re going to look at some pronunciation features that are common in the non-standard forms of English accents, which basically means the regional accents that differ in various ways to standard English RP. This should help you identify key differences between RP and the other accents and remember – most people have a regional accent. RP isn’t actually that common. It’s only a small percentage of all the English speakers in the world, and yet the coursebooks, pronunciation guides, dictionaries and so on tend only to present RP as their model for learning English. As a result you might find it really hard to understand people speaking in the real world or in realistic TV shows and films. This episode is about helping you understand how non-standard English accents differ from RP.

Just before we start on that though, I just have three announcements and bits of podcast admin to make.

1. WISBOLEP – The New Deadline for the Competition is 15 October 2020.

The latest LEP competition is now open, since I launched it in the last episode. WISBOLEP. If you’re interested in taking part, just listen to the previous episode of this podcast to find out. I thought I wouldn’t get many entries, but of course I always underestimate this kind of thing. 

Thank you for those of you who have entered the competition – I have already had more than I thought I would get. Now I’m worried that I’ll get too many entries. At this stage, the competition closes on 31 October but I have decided to bring forward the end date of the competition, otherwise I will get so many entries and I won’t be able to deal with them all.

So – is that clear? The new end date for WISBOLEP is midnight on 15 October 2020.

2. LEPster Meetup in Prague – Sat 17 October 

I want to say “hello” to any LEPsters in Prague in the Czech Republic. Hello.

There is another LEPster meeting happening in Prague on Sat 17 Oct 2020, 5pm-10pm. I suggest you join in, speak English, meet some like-minded people and play some board games in English, which is a really great way to work on your communication skills because it’s fun and makes you use English in specific ways.


Date & Time: Sat 17 Oct, 5-10pm. 

Venue: Bohemia Boards and Brews

Host: Zdenek Lukas

It’s a board game cafe. A lot of expats go there and the owner is American.

Join a Facebook group called Prague Lepsters and sign in there because of the reservation and/or send me an email at

Prague Lepsters on Facebook

3. Listen to Luke on the IELTS Speaking for Success Podcast

Recently I was interviewed on the IELTS Speaking for Success podcast, which is co-hosted by Maria Molashenko. The podcast is all about succeeding in the IELTS test, but our episode was all about how to use podcasts to improve your speaking. We talked about approaches to using podcast episodes to learn English in various ways, including listening passively and actively and specific techniques you can use. Maria is a successful language learner herself (and she’s a LEPster) and she has loads of good input too. So, you could listen to that. It’s for everyone hoping to improve their English with podcasts. Also, there’s a PDF summary of all our advice, which you can download free. Find both the audio and the PDF linked on the page for this episode on my website, or search your generic podcast app for IELTS speaking for success. I was in Series 4 Episode 10 “Learning English Through Podcasts”.

Listen to the episode

Get the PDF

Key Features of English Accents

This episode is all about English accents – the regional versions that exist all over the country, and how they generally differ from a standard English accent like mine for example. 

We’ll be looking at some very common features of English that are very typical in England, and which generally mark someone out as being from a certain place and from a certain background.

We’re not going into all the differences between each regional accent, like “this is Liverpool, this is Manchester, etc”. I’ve done that before in previous episodes (search the archive for British accents and dialects). Rather we are just going to look at some features which are shared by lots of the different regional accents.

This feels like a premium episode because it’s all about language, but I’m keeping it free and what I’m going to do is record a follow up premium episode which will be full of pronunciation drills for you to practise saying things with these pronunciation features and without, like me.

That’s coming soon to 

Have you ever noticed any differences in the way I speak and the way that some other British people speak, like some of my guests, for example the way Paul Taylor speaks? 

The difference is quite subtle.

Luke’s Accent vs Paul’s Accent

From episode 527 – Can Paul Taylor Pass the UK Citizenship Test (from 12:50)

There’s really only one main difference there in the way Paul and I speak, but it’s quite a big one in the world of English accents. Paul says things like “It’s really overly complicated and it’s not, it’s not complicated but it’s stuff that is irrelevant if you want to live and work in England” “He’s pretty decent. He knows a lot about history and stuff.”

The difference there is the way Paul pronounces certain T sounds with a glottal stop. I might do it occasionally, but I think generally I pronounce most of my Ts, certainly the ones in the middle of words, most of the time.

So Paul uses a glottal stop and I usually don’t – that’s the main difference, but it’s quite a big one.

What does this mean then? How does this distinguish Paul and me then? 

The difference is just a subtle one in the way that we speak, which means that Paul’s accent is influenced a bit more by where he comes from, and maybe he’s from a slightly lower social class, but we’re splitting hairs really. It’s probably more of a cultural one in the households in which we grew up. 

I grew up in what I often call a BBC household with a dad who went to Oxford and worked at the BBC for most of his career and in our house there wasn’t much of a trace of an accent. Maybe a bit of midlands, or Yorkshire but generally it was RP. Maybe this is because my dad studied English at university, and my mum studied history as well and then my dad went into broadcast journalism, so speaking in this standard way was just the norm. Also my grandparents spoke mostly in this way, with slight northern accents coming through sometimes in the way they said certain words. 

I don’t know all about Paul’s background that much, but I guess his accent stems from the time he spent in Kent growing up, which is very similar to London really, and glottal stops are very common in that entire region. I don’t think Paul is from a hugely different social class to me, but if I had to call it, I’d say that I’m more on the side of upper-middle class and Paul is, I don’t know, middle middle class, not that it’s important. It’s more that I want you to be able to pick up on these little signifiers of people’s backgrounds, like English people do when they hear each other speak. I’m not inviting you to judge people, just to be aware of certain social clues that you might not otherwise notice.

I don’t want to get bogged down in class here. That’s another story for another time.

Let’s get back to talking about different types of English that you might hear, and their differences.

How about the way people speak on the BBC news and the way people speak in the street? [There are stylistic differences, but mainly the BBC news is spoken in standard RP]

Have you ever come to the UK after studying English in your home country for many years and then got into a taxi and found you have no idea what the taxi driver was saying?

It’s probably because his pronunciation didn’t follow the usual, standard conventions. It probably wasn’t something you were used to hearing if you’ve been studying from course books or other published materials.

What are some of the differences between my accent and so many regional accents in the UK?

Email of the Year

Every now and then I get an email which asks me lots of questions and also answers them at the same time, which is great. Here’s one which I received flippin ‘ages ago ( 5 years ago in fact – Email of the decade?) I’ve only managed to get round to it now but anyway, here we go.

Name: Koji Watanabe

Message: Hi Luke!

My name is Koji. I’m a big fan of your show.

First of all, congratulations on your marriage! I hope your honeymoon will be stunning and that you love it.

If I (can)  introduce myself, I was born and raised in Japan and moved to Sydney 2 and a half years ago. However, I have been using various visual study materials (tv shows) from the UK and my English is British rather than Australian.

I started playing cricket and am deeply saddened by the defeat by England in the recent Ashes series. In one episode you said you and your father loved the game so I would love to hear you talking about it for the whole show.

I listened to your episodes about the cockney accent, (Northern) Irish accent, British accents and dialects, and they covered some of my questions I would like to ask you today. 

I apologise in advance for asking you questions in the first communication. Only if you think it is something you might want to bring up in one of your podcast episodes, please read it through – otherwise, you can just disregard this email.

My questions are about accents and dialects.

Luke: What follows is a pretty detailed description of different pronunciation features in British English (TH sounds, T sounds and glottal stops, H sounds and more), with a few questions thrown in. 

What I’ve done is taken Koji’s notes and worked on them, adding details, thoughts, ideas and so on, while also keeping Koji’s original text. Let’s go through that now then.

Before we go into this, I just want to make a point about accents and identity.

What kind of accent do you want?

When we’re talking about accent, we need to bear two things in mind.

One is intelligibility – can people understand you? 

The other is identity – who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want people to think of you? Who are you talking to?

Regarding the colloquial English we’re going to be looking at now, I think it is absolutely vital to know about these different varieties and how they affect pronunciation. But should you be speaking like this too? As I said, it’s totally up to you. I personally think being intelligible is the most important thing. You might also want to sound like a local, I suppose. In that case, go for it. But in the words of David Crystal, keep it natural. Don’t force an accent too much.

There’s also the rather sensitive subject of accentism or snobbishness in accents, and how people’s opinions of you are affected by the way you speak. The fact is, a colloquial accent can cause people to subconsciously judge you in certain ways. People might see you as being less educated or sophisticated if you drop all your Ts, pronounce TH sounds in certain ways, don’t pronounce H sounds and so on.

I’m not saying that colloquial English will make you stupid or anything. That’s obviously false, but colloquial English does carry with it certain associations such as a working class background. 

What am I saying? Basically, you’re more likely to find colloquial English like this from a guy working on a building site than from a qualified lawyer working in a top London law firm. So, which one are you? If you’re working on the building site with the other lads, I expect the colloquial English would seem more appropriate. If you’re doing an internship in the law firm, the standard RP would probably be more appropriate – but please don’t assume that I mean that colloquial English sounds stupid or is only used by uneducated people. I’m just saying – be aware of the baggage that comes with this kind of accent.

For example, my dad tends not to like glottal stops. If I said “Can you pass the butter?” he’d probably correct me. “It makes you look bad” is what he might say. Certain linguists might find that to be snobbishness, but the fact is, it’s a common attitude.

Should you speak like this? It’s up to you! The main thing is: you need to understand the varieties of English.

This episode is as much about understanding natural English when you hear it, as it is about actually learning to speak like this. In my honest opinion, I reckon you should probably aim to produce standard English. Try to be clear and use pronunciation that most people understand and let your own identity give some colour to the language as you doubtless will be imprinting your English with influence from your first language anyway.

In all honesty, it is very hard for an adult learning a second language to lose all trace of their accent. There are almost always traces of your accent in your English. That’s not so bad. Your English is just one of the many varieties out there. We don’t all speak the same. That’s the cool thing about English. It’s quite adaptable. If you’re using it, communicating effectively with it, and yet you sound different to everyone else – welcome to the club. English is like a village.

So, as someone from Bristol has their own version of English, then why not someone from Barcelona?

My main advice is – understand this, absorb it all, notice it when people speak, but just try to be clear when you speak. Try to focus on being understood in your communication, rather than trying to sound like a certain type of person. Clearly communicate your own ideas and just be yourself.

[Koji’s words are presented in italics]


This means that TH sounds become either F or V. 

Thirty Three – “Firty Free”

Mother and Father – “muvver and favver”

It’s particularly common in the south of England, although apparently TH fronting has started to spread to areas in the north too.

Unvoiced TH /θ/

Those who speak with th-fronting use “f” if “th” is pronounced as “θ”. 

For example:

Heath, bath, both, think, lethargic, catheter, Thursday

Danny Dyer on “Who do you ‘fink’ you are?”

“I was bowled over when I found out I was related to royalty on Who Do You Fink You Are.”

“Edward the Fird”

“My great-grandfaver “

And does this also apply to names as well? (Luke: Yes, of course)

Thor, Beth, Theodore, Thurgate, Matthew

Voiced TH /ð/

If “th” is pronounced as “ð”, the sound becomes “v” only when “th” is used in the middle or at the end of the word. Is this correct? [So, basically – not at the start of the word]

> Yes: Leather [le-va], mother [ma-va], writhe [raiv]

> No: that [vat], those [vouz], them etc..

I would agree. Occasionally  you hear TH at the start of the word becoming F or V but very rarely (it’s probably just a speech impediment that some people have).

It’s interesting that native speakers also seem to struggle with TH sounds, because learners often find this really really hard. 

*t-glottalisation (the glottal stop)

A glottal stop in English is a replacement for a T sound in the middle or at the end of the word. It’s most typically associated with a cockney accent from London.

Interview with Adele (from 1:31)

“I got really excited as if it wasn’t me, and afterwards I tried to check Twitter but I didn’t have a Twitter account so I just saw what was on there if you’re not on there”



Instead of making the T sound in your mouth, the glottal stop comes from closing and then opening the glottis, which is an opening between the vocal cords – basically it’s in your throat.

When we make a T sound, the tip of the tongue presses against your gum just behind your teeth and when the tongue is released, the air and sound that comes out is a T sound.

With a glottlal stop, we make that sound from the vocal chords rather than the tongue and the gums. When we open the glottis, air is released in a similar way to when we use our tongue on our gums.

  • Later 
  • Started
  • Water
  • Bottle
  • Computer

But we don’t do this for every single T sound. It depends on certain things.

It’s interesting to know this but I would advise against doing it too much in your speech. I’ve heard learners of English who try to use glottal stops on purpose perhaps because they’ve discovered that it makes you sound authentically English, but used too much and in a slightly wrong way it can have a weird effect. So, know about the glottal stop, know how to use it, but use it all the time at your own risk.

Quick Test

Imagine you’re a native English speaker who uses glottal stops ( you could be Paul Taylor maybe).

Can you say these words with a glottal stop? Where does the glottal stop go? Which words have no glottal stop?

  • Better
  • British
  • Antique
  • Letter
  • Entitled
  • Security
  • Hotel
  • Restaurant
  • Lost
  • Sit
  • Return
  • That
  • Thirty
  • Twitter
  • Wants
  • Potato

When do we add a glottal stop and when not?

YES: At the end of words  — not, hot, got, lot, start

YES: After a vowel sound (previous examples)

YES: In the weak/unstressed syllable

No: At the start of words

No: After a consonant sound

No: In the stressed syllable

Potato has two Ts in it. One is replaced with a glottal stop and other isn’t. Which T is glottalised, then?


Which T is in an unstressed (weak) syllable? 

It’s the second one.



But not in hotel, antique, return – because the t sound appears in the stressed syllable.


Pronounce the first T because it’s in the stressed syllable.

The second T becomes a glottal stop because it’s in the unstressed syllable and follows a vowel sound.



No glottal stop after a consonant (it’s impossible anyway!)

Koji – I’m sure there are some words in which t’s should not be dropped if I’m not mistaken.

For example, we can say:

Water [wa’er], pathetic [pa-fe’ik]

But we cannot use a stop for words such as:

Fountain (?), maintain, hotel, hostel..

Yes – because of the reasons given above.

Water and pathetic – The Ts in these words follow vowel sounds and are not in the stressed syllable.

Fountain, maintain and hostel – follow a consonant sound /n/ /s/

Maintain and Hotel – the T is in the stressed syllable

If a word has two elements then we do not drop “t”:

re-trieve, pre-text..

[This is a bit like the T at the start of the word. The prefixes could be considered as separate words.]

Are there any patterns or rules in which ts can be omitted? (we’ve just been through them but let’s recap)

YES: At the end of words  — not, hot, got, lot, start

YES: After a vowel sound (previous examples)

YES: In the weak/unstressed syllable

No: At the start of words

No: After a consonant sound

No: In the stressed syllable

Or do I just need to get the feel of it and remember which one can and cannot?

Get a feel for it is my advice, and like Koji mentioned before, the best way is not to do it too strongly. Don’t push it too much and try to use it everywhere. But try it out, test yourself, repeat after me. There will be a premium pronunciation episode for this, with drills for all the stuff in this episode. Both the colloquial version with things like glottal stops and also the standard version – how I would normally say it.

So, back to my advice for Koji.

Yes, on one hand, practise things like glottal stops – for fun mainly, but also to learn about how these sounds are made and how they feel, which will definitely help your listening, which in turn helps everything else. Helping your pronunciation can help your vocabulary, because it allows you to suddenly understand other people more, which then helps you identify what people are saying, allowing you to add those words and expressions to your active vocabulary.

So on the one hand, play with glottal stops and other things. But also consider to what extent you want to introduce these things into your normal speech, and in fact my advice would be to pronounce the Ts in your words when you are talking normally in your life. Pronouncing the Ts, especially at the ends of words, does tend to make you sound really clear and nice. It’s also probably a bit easier for you to do. As an example I am reminded of my friend Emina who was on the podcast a while ago, who has a great accent and I noticed she often makes a point of pronouncing the T sounds at the end and in the middle of words. 

But’s that’s just what I think. It’s up to you really! You can choose who you want to sound like, I just also want you to know what all the accents mean in the UK.

Glottal stops are very natural, but you should know that some people don’t like them and find them to be a sign of a lack of education. 

That’s not really true of course – you can be extremely well educated and still pronounce words with glottal stops, but there are plenty of people who don’t like glottal stops that much. 

So, regardless of all the arguments about the equality of accents (which I believe in) I think there is nothing wrong with pronouncing your Ts. (listen to Luke pronounce all the words in the list again, with T sounds)

This is especially true at the end of words, where a nice crisp T sound can sound very clear and nice.

  • I think we should start.
  • What time would you like to eat?
  • He’s intent on completing this project on budget.


This is pretty simple. It’s when h sounds aren’t pronounced.

It’s quite common in a cockney accent, but also plenty of others.

Here’s an example of Karl Pilkington who comes from Manchester, talking about getting his fridge fixed. 

“He says ‘let’s ‘have a look then’. He opens it, sticks his hand in…”

But when does h-dropping happen?

I thought I would just add this from Wikipedia, largely because of the last line, as a way of saying “yep, what they said.”

H-dropping is the deletion of the voiceless glottal fricative or “H sound”, [h]. The phenomenon is common in many dialects of English, and is also found in certain other languages, either as a purely historical development or as a contemporary difference between dialects. Although common in most regions of England and in some other English-speaking countries, H-dropping is often stigmatized and perceived as a sign of careless or uneducated speech.” Wikipedia

It’s worth noting that social stigma, related to this kind of speech. I think that you need to know that some people look down on those who speak English like this. For some, this kind of speech is a sign of a lack of education or class. There it is. Of course plenty of well known people, successful people, well educated people speak like this, but there is a bit of a stigma attached to all these pronunciation features, and that is probably related to a certain kind of class-based snobbishness.

But H-dropping is found in dialects all over England and Wales.

It’s more frequently found in working class accents in England (which are pretty much the same thing as regional accents anyway). 


  • harm, heat, and behind
  • he, him, her, his, had, and have
  • Should have
  • Would have
  • Could have

The dropping of H in weak forms is normal in all accents, including RP.

We do pronounce H after saying “a”

  • A hundred
  • A house
  • A hotel

But you might just turn it into “an”, then drop the H

  • An ‘undred
  • An ‘house
  • An ‘otel

Koji: Are h-dropping accents applied to pronouns and names as well?

e.g. Heidi [eye-dee], Hugo [o0-go], Henry, Hamish.. (yes, they are)

For example

  • Hello Harry, How’s it going Harry? Here, have you been having a sneaky look at my house.
  • Sorry, what?
  • Have you been sneaking around my house.
  • Your what?
  • My house!
  • Oh your house!
  • Yeah, my house!

*”me” as a way to say “my” and “us” to say “me”

  • Hey, give us the remote control.
  • I’ve lost all me fags.

Michael The Geordie – “He’d eaten all me fags”

Michael the Geordie talking about throwing a monkey in the sea because he’d
“Eaten all me fags”. (From 0:21 )

Koji: Where can this mainly be observed? Is this very common among Northerners? I think I heard this in London before but I’m not 100% sure.

Definitely common in the north.

Also in “Pirate” (the sort of English that pirates used, usually in films and things), so probably the south west.

Not so sure about London though. It’s common to reduce “my” to a weak form but is it a full-on “me”? I don’t think so.

And again, is this not applied to the beginning of the sentence?

Yes: Wait until I pop me shoes on.

No?: My date was cancelled. (Is “Me date” acceptable?)

Not true. You can use “me” at the start of the sentence.

In a Northern Accent

  • What’s the matter with you? Why have you go the hump?
  • Me bloody date cancelled on me didn’t she.

I think this is largely found in the northern part of UK, and I find it very interesting. 

I wonder if hearing Tohoku accent is nearly the same experience for you hearing people from the north speak. What is your impression about the accent? [those accents]

What do I think when I hear a northern accent?

I like northern accents. I don’t feel there is anything particularly different about a person with a northern accent, although people in the north are often said to be more friendly, more open to visitors, more down to earth and proud of where they come from of course.

This is just an example of a pretty strong northern accent (Bolton, in Lancashire).

Peter Kay in The Ice-Cream Man Cometh

Or a more normal one…

Jarvis Cocker on the Johnathon Ross Show in 2001

I like hearing northern accents, like I enjoy all accents. There’s a certain lyrical quality to any northern accent, which is a pleasure to hear.

This is a pretty excellent tour of the north of England in accents, which was originally broadcast on BBC radio 4. It’s dialect coach Elspeth Morrison and she pretty much nails all the accents here. 

See if you can follow each accent as she goes around the map. Imagine the north of England like a triangle leaning to the right. The top of the triangle is Northumberland (bordering Scotland) and below that on the north east are Newcastle and Middlesborough. From there go down the left side of the triangle to the north west (actually in the bottom left corner) and you get parts of Lancashire, Liverpool and moving inland a bit you get Manchester. There are some mountains called the pennines which run between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Over the pennines you get to places like Leeds and Wakefield. Keep going east and you get to East Yorkshire and cities like Hull. Then back up the right side of the triangle you get to Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Northumberland again.

So, for this clip all credit goes to dialect coach Elspeth Morrison and BBC Radio 4. 

A Tour of English Accents by Elspeth Morrison

Koji: Like Tohoku people do not mix their dialect with Kansai dialect, you wouldn’t speak with your received accent with the ones above? 

Nope, unless it’s for fun and I’m imitating different accents. Sometimes I slip into different accents when I speak or when I’m around the house. My accent might shift a little bit if I’m with mates who have Birmingham accents or London accents.

I know it is weird if I speak with an accent, but my workmates say I do not have Japanese accent…


Please just ignore this message if you think it is inappropriate for me to ask you those questions.

One more thing (well, two actually)


This is more a dialect feature than a pronunciation feature, but it’s worth noting anyway. 

You might have heard this in songs, films, TV series and lots of other places.

  • He ain’t coming
  • I ain’t got no money
  • Ain’t no mountain high enough

It either means “be not” or “have not”

Like all of these things:

  • Isn’t – This isn’t my car. This ain’t my car.
  • Aren’t – Those aren’t your keys. Those ain’t your keys.
  • Am not – I’m not lying. I ain’t lying.
  • Haven’t – They ain’t finished yet.
  • Hasn’t – Finished? She ain’t even started yet.

It’s considered to be an error in fact, but it’s very common.

Quick Task

Convert these lines into “correct” English

  • I ain’t finished yet –> I haven’t finished yet
  • He just ain’t smart enough  – 
  • You ain’t coming with us, you’re staying here
  • She ain’t got time to hang around with us
  • You know I ain’t lying

It’s quite common in double negatives.

  • I ain’t done nothing wrong.
  • She ain’t done nothing all day.
  • We ain’t said nothing to nobody/no-one.

And since we’ve had ain’t we might as well include innit.


This one mainly replaces “isn’t it” and that’s very common.

At a stretch it can replace all the different tag questions, but this is less common and more typical of a certain accent among young people in the London area. Ali G says it a lot, innit. (doesn’t he)

  • Isn’t it – “That’s the right answer, innit.”
  • Aren’t you – “You’re our new teacher innit miss”
  • Did he – “He went home innit”
  • Have – “We’ve gone the wrong way, innit”

So that’s it.

And Koji finishes his email…

Good luck with your honeymoon plan. I wish you a bright and the happiest married life together!

Best regards,


Well let’s all say thanks to Koji for providing what could be the email of the decade, forming the backbone of this episode, which looked at various features of colloquial accents common in regional accents all over England, including

  • TH sounds
  • Glottal stop
  • H drop
  • Me / my
  • Us / me
  • Ain’t 
  • Innit

I hope you feel you have learned something from this.

My next plan is to prepare a pronunciation episode of LEP Premium in which we can practise some pronunciation with and without these colloquial features.

Thanks for listening.

Actually, before we go, I thought I would make this episode just that little bit longer by adding something at the end here.

Jack & Dean on BBC Radio 1 – reading out song lyrics as if they’re being spoken by an angry northern dad. I thought it might be fun to hear them saying these lines that you might know from pop songs, but in the voice of a northern man. There’s quite a lot of laughing in this, which might distract you a bit, and some things might be a bit unintelligible, but generally I hope you like it. All the videos from this episode are on the episode page on my website of course, including this one. Right.

The songs and lyrics

Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars

I’m too hot (hot damn)

Call the police and the fireman

I’m too hot (hot damn)

Make a dragon wanna retire man

I’m too hot (hot damn)

Say my name you know who I am

I’m too hot (hot damn)

And my band ’bout that money

Break it down

Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass

Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two

But I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do

‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase

And all the right junk in all the right places

Hozier – Take me To church (weird lyrics?)

I was born sick, but I love it

Command me to be well

A-amen, amen, amen – Take me to church

I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies

I’ll tell you my sins, and you can sharpen your knife

Offer me that deathless death

Good God, let me give you my life

671. Aussie English with Pete Smissen

A conversation with genuine Aussie Pete Smissen, about differences and similarities between the UK and Australia, cultural and historical details, language similarities, and more. Check YouTube for the video version.

Small Donate Button


Subscribe to LEP Premium

Video Version

Transcript for the Introduction and Ending

Hello and welcome to the podcast. This is episode 671 and it is a free roaming conversation with Pete Smissen from Aussie English.

Aussie English is a podcast and YouTube channel about learning Australian English and recently Pete and I did a podcast crossover YouTube thing where he interviewed me about my stuff and then I did this interview with him for my podcast, which is what you’re going to listen to now.

This is also available as a YouTube video on my YouTube channel. So check it out there too. You’ll find the link in the show notes. You could try turning on the automatic subtitles if you are watching on YouTube.

So this is quite a free ranging conversation in which I talk to Pete about all things British and Australian including

  • Swearing
  • Teaching swearing to learners of English
  • Swearing in a second language
  • Accents and diversity of accents
  • Accents in Australia and the UK
  • Football Hooliganism in the UK and Australia
  • Removing statues of slave traders
  • COVID-19 in Australia
  • Politics in the UK and Australia
  • Bushfires in Australia
  • Our ancestry
  • What Australia thinks of the UK and USA
  • The Queen on Australian money
  • Australian English vs British English vs American English
  • Class in the UK vs class in Australia
  • Plus a few Aussie and British cliches.

So that’s it. I hope you enjoy the conversation. For more information, visit my website where you can also sign up for my premium service.

Also, check out Pete’s channel Aussie English to see the interview he did with me, which covered lots of stuff about swearing, particularly the C word, and then some stuff about how I got started in podcasting and comedy.

But now you can enjoy listening to a bit of British English and some Aussie English.


Thanks again to Pete from Aussie English there. Check the page on my website for this episode to check out links to his stuff and don’t forget to check out his YouTube channel to see his interview with me that we did on the same day.

So, to everyone on YouTube and on the podcast it’s just time for me to say, good bye!

Pete’s video interview with me for Aussie English 

Check out the audio version and Aussie English here

644. The Rick Thompson Report: Is Brexit Done?

Talking to my dad about the latest in the Brexit saga including the general election result, Brexit day on 31 January 2020 and the latest government shenanigans by PM Boris Johnson and co.

Small Donate Button



Hello everyone this is an episode of The Rick Thompson Report on Luke’s English Podcast. This is where I talk to my dad about politics, especially Brexit and here is the latest update since the last episode in November.

Here’s a quick summary to help you keep up during the conversation. It’ll only take a minute or two. It’s important to understand the overall context when listening to this so you don’t get lost and you can also notice language more easily.

Since the last episode in November

The Tories won their election majority in December and pushed through Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement because all their MPs voted for it. Then the UK officially left the EU on 31 January this year (2020 – for any aliens listening to this – the year 2020 in earth years) but nothing really changed because we are now in the transition period in which everything stays the same for a year and the UK and the EU have to bash out a new agreement for things like trade and regulations and stuff – a process that usually takes years. So, did the Tories “Get Brexit Done” like they promised or is there a lot more of this story yet to come?

Also, what has this Conservative majority led by Boris Johnson been doing since coming to power? What about the removal of certain journalists from their lobby briefing, their wish to replace the judiciary, the resignation of chancellor Sajid Javid because 10 Downing Street asked him to fire his team of civil servants.

If none of this makes any sense to you then listen on because you’re going to hear a chat with my dad who has been following this story very carefully as you have heard in previous episodes of the Rick Thompson Report.

Basically, what is the government up to? Who is really pulling the strings of power at the moment and what are they seeking to do? How could Brexit actually be a power grab by a party intent on exerting more executive control on the democratic framework?

Listen on, to find out more…


So that was another episode of the Rick Thompson Report. How long will this Brexit saga go on? I don’t know. But thanks again to Dad for making another valuable contribution to the podcast again.

So it’s actually valentine’s day as I record this. I hope you have some nice plans, or maybe if you’re single you also have nice plans just doing something else. I have prepared a series of episodes with a valentine’s day theme but I have to publish the RT report as soon as I’ve recorded it because it is quite time-sensitive content. I mean, stuff that’s relevant to the moment, although the RT reports could also serve as a kind of historical document – a history of Brexit. But I can’t publish this series with the VD theme today so that will have to wait. So next week probably you’ll get the first in a series about British comedy and there’s a sort of Valentine’s Day theme running through it. I hope that gives you a little teaser there of what’s coming soon.

Don’t forget about LEP Premium. I recently published a big series about articles which covers all the main errors people make and exactly how we use articles and pronounce them properly too. To sign up go to

THat’s it for this episode. Have a lovely weekend or week or end or whatever and I will speak to you next time but for now, bye!!

642. The Lying Game Returns (with Amber & Paul)

This should make you laugh out loud on the bus – it’s the return of the Lying Game with Amber & Paul. Listen to our 3 stories. Do you think they are true, or lies?

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]


Hello folks, welcome back to the podcast. This is episode 642 and it is called The Lying Game Returns with Amber and Paul and in this one you can hear us playing this classic game on the podcast once again.

This is actually the seventh Lying Game episode that we’ve had. All the others are 308, 309, 317, 318, 343 & 436. Check them out if you haven’t already done so.

I won’t go into the rules of the game now, suffice to say that essentially this game is about telling stories, and we all know the importance and usefulness of listening to stories for learning languages.

So, this game is a way to draw a story out of someone using questions. Someone makes a statement (usually a thing they did in the past) and the others have to ask questions to get all the details (this is when the story starts to emerge) until they’re satisfied that the story is either true or a lie. It becomes pretty entertaining I think as we investigate each other’s stories with varying levels of scepticism.

I also use this the game in class a lot as a way to practise storytelling, using past tenses and question formation, and it’s just a lot of fun to imagine you are a detective like Columbo who always has one more question to ask.

So, you can think of these as little stories from Amber, Paul and me, but are they true or are they lies? Listen carefully as we go through this funny conversation that might have you laughing out loud on a bus somewhere in podcastland, but try to work out if we are lying or telling the truth. Focusing on that part of the game can help you to pay attention more, which helps you remember the language you’re hearing in the process.

Check the page for this episode on the website for all the links and stuff like that.

But now, let’s play The Lying Game again, with Amber & Paul…

Luke’s Story

I saw a famous French actor on the roof of my apartment.

True, or a lie?

Amber’s Story

I’ve decided to take part in the 2021 Paris Marathon.

True, or a lie?

Paul’s Story

My daughter was cured of her excessive crying by a drunk Scottish man.

True, or a lie?

Videos / Links

In case you were wondering about “The Russian Joke”

641. Catching Up with Amber & Paul #9

The pod-pals are back on the podcast and it’s time for the usual catching up session in which we talk about how very-pregnant Amber has moved to the suburbs of Paris, the difference between a terrace, veranda, porch and conservatory, the difference between a cave and a basement, Paul’s showbiz news, the ongoing joys and struggles of parenthood, the strikes in France, raising bilingual children and more.

Small Donate Button



Hello there, how are you? Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you’re basically doing ok wherever you are in the world. Walking around, on public transport, driving, sitting somewhere, lying down – whatever your current body position, welcome. Here’s a new episode and in this one I am joined once again by Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor.

It’s been a while since Amber & Paul were on the podcast. Is it nearly a year? Anyway, for those of you who don’t know, Amber Minogue & Paul Taylor have been two of the most frequent guests on this podcast. They’ve got their own jingle, their own nicknames – the pod-pals, the talkative trio, the tangential three and their own fan club of sorts, in the form of listeners who often say that the Amber & Paul episodes are their favourite.

I met both Amber and Paul on the English stand up comedy scene in Paris, back in the early days when the only English nights were being run by Sebastian Marx and Robert Hoehn. We sort of teamed up because we’re all brits. I used to have them on the podcast to play vocabulary games and have rambling conversations on the terrace of my old apartment.

Amber made her first appearance in episode 161 “She’s Having a Baby” and Paul in episode 158 “A Cup of Christmas Tea with Paul Taylor”. Amber had her baby, little Hugo and there have been various funny stories of what he’s got up to, meanwhile Paul became an overnight sensation with his comedy video about “La Bise” the French custom of kissing people when you meet them. His video went viral on YouTube and picked up over a million views in a few days. It was on the BBC’s website and stuff like that. Then Canal+ the TV company in France offered him a TV show and he went for it, bringing some of his comedy Friends with him to help write the show. So, Amber and I helped Paul a bit with his popular show What the Fuck, France?

That, along with his first one man show #Franglias has made Paul something of a celebrity in France, and now it’s not uncommon for him to be recognised and stopped in the street for a selfie. Often when we are out getting lunch, people will stop to say hello to him, which is funny! Amber & I have been lucky enough to be invited by Paul to performed with him on big shows in Paris, at venues including The Bataclan and Casino de Paris.

On the podcast Amber is famous for having a lovely voice, and Paul is famous for having a funny and infectious laugh. Amber is also known to be the cleverest of the three probably because of her excessive reading and listening of BBC Radio 4. She is also something of a history buff when it comes to Paris and does tours here as well as a podcast about Paris called Paname Podcast. Amber is also quite strategic when it comes to playing games. Paul seems to be less good at the games and it appears that he doesn’t even know his own language sometimes. He’s a good impressionist and often gets angry about life in general. Both Amber & Paul speak French fluently.

Anyway, we don’t get to have Amber & Paul on the podcast that often, so the tradition has become to have one “catching up” episode, in which we do just that – find out what’s been going on with them since the last time we spoke and so there’s the usual mix of stories about general life as well as some stuff about language, some bits about kids learning English and also the usual bits of inside showbiz information as we continue to follow Paul behind the scenes in his career.

So there’s the catching up episode, and then if there’s time I usually try to get them to record another one and we did just that, this time. I managed to record two episodes with Amber and Paul, so the second one will be coming soon. I won’t tell you what that is about or what happens in it, yet, but it will arrive quite soon after this one.

But now, without further ado, let’s catch up with Amber & Paul.

In case you were wondering about “The Russian Joke”

VOCAB: porch / veranda / terrace / balcony / patio / conservatory

In the UK a porch usually looks like this

And a veranda looks like this (UK)

But in the USA, a porch can be bigger (a bit like a veranda), like this

And a veranda looks like this in the USA (longer, and often around the house, sometimes on several floors)

A terrace in the UK is like this

A balcony looks like this

A patio looks like this

And a conservatory is like this

So Amber has a large terrace on part of the roof of her new house in the Paris suburbs.


So that was Catching Up with Amber & Paul #9. I hope you enjoyed that.

Check out the page for this episode on the website to see pictures of a porch, veranda, terrace, patio, balcony and conservatory so you can work out what’s really going on with those words! I wonder if you have one of these features on your home or in the garden maybe.

You heard there us talking about recording another episode, and we did. So the next episode will also feature Amber & Paul again and it’s going to be the return of … that’s right The Lying Game. There’s a full lying game episode coming up next on the podcast. That should arrive in the next few days.

I’m very happy with the responses I’ve had to the last 3 episodes about Quintessentially British Things. I’ve had lots of comments about Mum’s Book Club or Gill’s Book Club. It seems there is quite a lot of enthusiasm for that, so I’ve been talking to my mum about it and we might be able to do some fairly regular episodes in which we talk about 3 books, or other works of art (because Mum is also into theatre, galleries, exhibitions, cinema and stuff like that). Watch this space, that should happen at some point. What should I call those episodes? Gill’s Book Club (because my dad uses his name in his episodes) or should it be Mum’s Book Club? Or should we call it Culture Club (a bit like the band) or something else? Let me know what you think in the comment section.

LEP Premium

I’ve been working really hard on a mammoth series about grammar for LEP Premium. It’s all about articles – a, an, the, no article. This is a particularly tricky aspect of English grammar and I’ve had plenty of requests for it ,so I’ve been slaving away, consulting various grammar books, coming up with loads of real examples. We’re using extracts from interviews with The Beatles in this series ,seeing how John, Paul, George & Ringo have used articles in interviews and using that as a way to learn this grammar. Also I’ve been looking through various grammar books for all the rules. Long story short, I have a long and very detailed look at articles for LEP Premium, which should already be published – either all of it or part of it, and it will also include the usual test and pronunciation drills. So check it out –

But for now, that’s it!

Thank you for listening and stay tuned for the next episode which should arrive in a few days.

But for now it’s just time to say, BYE!

640. IELTS Speaking Success with Keith O’Hare

Talking to IELTS speaking coach Keith O’Hare about how to get your best score in the IELTS speaking test, plus some chat about the right approach to learning English.

Small Donate Button



Hello folks, welcome to the podcast. I hope you are fine whatever you’re doing at this moment, wherever you are in the world, and at whatever time of day you have chosen to listen to this new episode of my podcast for learners of English.

If you’re listening while watching on YouTube, don’t forget to like and subscribe to my channel so you don’t miss a new episode. Also, you could consider turning on the automatic subtitles as you will find they are about 95% correct.

And if you listen in any other way, I hope this podcast finds you in good form and happy to receive another episode.

Today I’m talking to Keith O’Hare who is an English teacher specialising in helping people prepare to take the IELTS test, specifically the speaking part.

Keith got in touch with me a while ago to invite me onto one of his videos. I mentioned it on the podcast recently. One of the things Keith likes to do is invite native speakers onto his YouTube channel to take an IELTS speaking exam and then give feedback on their performance at the end. This is great for learners of English because you can observe how a native speaker deals with all the tasks and you can pick up loads of nice bits of English in the process. It’s also a good way to get strategies for dealing with each part of the test.

So Keith had heard of my podcast and he wanted to record me doing an IELTS speaking test, so we did that in December. You can see me doing the test by watching the video which will be embedded on the page for this episode on my website and maybe in the show notes in your app.

We had a little chat afterwards about teaching English and I thought it might be interesting to invite him onto my podcast to talk about IELTS speaking tips, his teaching career, any good advice he has for learning English, and any stories of good and bad students he’s had over the years.

So this is mainly about IELTS with some general English chat as well. IELTS is a huge thing in the world of learning English. Anyone who plans to travel and use their English at work or just to get a visa or something will probably come across it. I know that a lot of my listeners are interested in IELTS, but even if you’re not – the kinds of speaking skills and strategies that will help in IELTS can also be applied to the learning of English in general, and certainly you will find in this conversation lots of stuff about the right approach to producing spoken English discourse in test conditions, and to learning English in general.

As we go through the episode I give Keith an IELTS speaking test himself, so we can see how he gets on.

Again, if you want to see me doing the IELTS speaking test in one of Keith’s videos, check the page for this episode on my website.

But now, without any further ado, let’s meet Keith O’Hare.


So there you go folks that was my conversation with Keith O’Hare from 

So what’s up?

I strongly expect that you understood nearly all of that, am I right?

I have a sneaking suspicion that this conversation was dead easy for all of you, right? 

I think it’s just because both Keith and I are English teachers and so we naturally speak clearly after nearly 50 combined years of English teaching between us, also because we’re used to presenting on a podcast or on YouTube so we are used to talking as if there’s an audience listening, and also because this wasn’t one of those conversations where my guest and I are struggling to say what we want to say about a topic without interrupting each other too much, which is usually what happens when I’m with my brother or my friends on the podcast.

So if this episode was easier to listen to than normal, it’s probably because there were fewer things getting in the way and you were able to focus only on the English being spoken.

And if it was at all easy to understand, I think that’s a great sign that your listening is improving all the time, especially with plenty of practice like you get on this podcast.

I also noticed plenty of nice chunks of vocabulary and other bits of pieces in English that I think were worth noticing and so I may do a premium episode about this at some point soon.

But right now all that remains to be said is that I will speak to you soon but until then, goodbye!

609. The LEP MeetUp in London / Brexit / Talking to my Daughter

Here’s an end-of-summer ramble, including details of what happened at the LEP meetup in London in July and some recordings of LEPsters who attended the event. There’s also talk of Brexit and some interviews with my daughter who is beginning to speak.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

Episode Notes and Transcriptions

The world appears to be burning

No-deal Brexit

Hello, Luke. I’ve got a question related to the latest podcast. What is the word combination that appears from time to time and sounds like NO DEAL? What does leaving the EU ‘without a deal’ mean?


To explain the whole ‘no deal Brexit’ thing:
The EU is our largest trading zone. Most of our stuff is bought and sold there. It’s an extremely beneficial position to be able to trade freely, help create laws, be part of close collaboration, be a gateway to investment and so on. Leaving that union would mean cutting ties and access to the market without any defined terms in an agreement. The UK would end up paying extremely high export tariffs while low import tariffs would allow our market to become flooded. That’s the way it would be set out in WTO terms.
The UK would face losing access to its biggest marketplace while having to create new agreements with other markets from scratch. International trading agreements take years to put together and within the EU we are in a much more advantageous position for creating trade deals with other countries while working as a bloc.
But with no deal in place for things like trade, customs, tariffs, security and so on, the UK would be in a weaker position I think.
Leaving with no deal would also bring up the Northern Ireland problem because it would create a hard border on the island of Ireland. We are very aware from recent history how things can flare up badly in that region when there are border posts.
Leaving the EU with a deal is something that has been made possible due to several years of negotiating with the EU for a withdrawal agreement, which would mean a total withdrawal from the union – no MEPs or other officials taking part in lawmaking, not being subject to standard EU laws, but would also include details for things like access to the single market or the customs union. There is the shaky Northern Ireland backstop which would put northern Ireland somehow in the customs union, with a border in the sea between Britain and Ireland.
So, basically, leaving with a deal means leaving the legal framework of the EU, but making an agreement setting out terms for membership of the single market or customs union like the Norway model.
But leaving with no deal would mean having no agreements in place with our nearest and largest marketplace for both goods and services.

Weekend in London


LEP Meetup

Questions from the Meetup

Pick a question, answer it, then say anything else you want for 2 to 3 minutes.

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be able to grow plants faster and better than anyone else
  • or to be able to fly

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be one of the best stage musicians
  • To be the world’s videogame champion

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be the strongest person in the world
  • To write the funniest play ever

What would you miss more if it ceased to exist?

  • Live concerts
  • Role playing games

Whom do you consider worse?

  • Those who get drunk to avoid dealing with their problems

Which of these would you choose?

  • To never need to use the toilet
  • To be the best football player in the world

Which of these would you choose?

  • To invent faster-than-light travel
  • To conclusively prove the existence or non-existence of god

What do you consider worse?

  • Destroying posters put up by rival political parties
  • Trolling a forum where people want to discuss their hobby

What would you miss more if it ceased to exist?

  • Bicycles
  • Television series

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be the richest person in the world
  • To write the best-selling novel of all time

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be able to read wifi signals with your mind
  • to discover something that extends life expectancy by one year

Which of these would you choose?

  • To age half as fast from now on
  • To need no food or drink

Whom do you consider worse?

  • Someone who offers a cigarette to a friend who has just quit smoking
  • Someone who knows a friend’s spouse is cheating on him but doesn’t say

Whom do you consider worse?

  • Someone who claims anything they don’t understand is stupid nonsense
  • Someone who steals a handful of coins from a blind pan-handler

Which of these would you choose?

  • To write the most beautiful song ever sung
  • To be the fastest runner in the world

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be able to read minds
  • To be able to comfort anyone sad

What would you miss more if it ceased to exist?

  • Hot showers and baths
  • Comic books

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be the best martial artist in the world
  • To have a pet unicorn

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be able to instantly sober up when you want
  • To be able to see any map you want in your mind’s eye

Which of these would you choose?

  • To be able to see through the eyes of any nearby animal
  • To be able to play any musical instrument perfectly


What you can do, how you can organise them (set up an event, let me know about it and I’ll give you some publicity. Choose a place with space where you can perhaps get a drink, bring some board games or question points, speak and relax!) The LEP Meetup page on the website. Exchange ideas and contact details. Check in every now and then.

My daughter’s English

Photos and Videos from the LEP MeetUp

There’s a video as the bonus file in the app for this episode


Quick Hello / OPP / Living Through Comedy / Somewhere Else Dreamin’

Just a quick “hello” to let you know about some other things you could listen to this month, including my appearances on some other people’s podcasts.


Transcript & Links

Hello folks, how are you doing? How’s your English coming along?

This is not a full episode, more of an update and a chance to tell you about some things you could listen to, specifically a couple of appearances I made on other people’s podcasts recently.

I’ve been preparing lots of premium episodes for this month. I’m halfway through series 13. Parts 1 and 2 of this series have been published and they deal with lots of expressions with prepositions, specifically prepositions of place and movement combined with little verbs like get. As usual there are tests and pronunciation drills. Parts 3 and 4 will arrive this week.

If you want to hear all the premium stuff, get the LEP App from the app store then go to to sign up and get started, use your details to sign into the app to access the premium content. PDF worksheets are all available too.

Other People’s Podcasts

Now then, if you’re looking for stuff to listen to other than the podcast episodes in the archive and the premium content, here are a couple of things you could listen to in the meantime. Here are my recent appearances on other people’s podcasts.

Living Through Comedy – James’ new podcast

1. I was interviewed on my brother’s podcast. It’s called Living Through Comedy and it’s all about my time as a comedian, including how I got into stand up, what my influences were, my experience of developing my act and also some stories of good and bad gigs. There are several other episodes of Living Through Comedy too that you might like. Both feature conversations about comedy, doing stand up and life in general. You should be able to find Living Through Comedy on iTunes, but if you can’t you can listen to it on the page for this episode.

You could also visit and listen there, on a mobile.

So that’s nice. About an hour of conversation between James and me, on his new podcast.

Somewhere Else Dreamin – ExPat stories with Noman Hosni (video)

2. I was interviewed by Noman Hosni for Somewhere Else Dreamin’, his new YouTube series which is all about interviewing people (comedians usually) about their experiences as an ExPat – that means someone who is living in another country. I suppose it’s a nice way to say “immigrant”. And because I am an immigrant, living here in France and I’ve spent time in Japan too, Noman decided I would be a good person to interview.

Noman Hosni is a very funny professional stand up comedian here in France. I interviewed him on the podcast once. He is doing very well as a comedian in France, but he has decided to move to LA in order to pursue his career there. Before going he is working on his English and also finding out about people’s experiences of moving to different countries.

I love hanging out with Noman and in this interview I tell a few stories including the time I got sick in Japan (which I spoke about in a podcast a few years ago) and my experiences of English teaching and moving to France. Check it out!

It’s available on YouTube “somewhere else dreamin luke thompson” and embedded on the website here, but also it’s on Spotify in audio format. It’s a YouTube video and you’ll see me and Noman talking, but Spotify has the audio version.

I’m doing a lot of premium content this month, but I also have some free episodes in the pipeline including some more stuff about British comedy and an episode about Queen, the rock band, which has been requested many times by listeners, so it’s nice to finally be getting around to talking about Queen on the podcast after 600 episodes. There are still many more topics and things to talk about on this podcast.