Category Archives: Uncategorized

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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

A Letter from Luke – 9 Nov. 2018

No episodes for a little while – I’ve got limited internet access.

This is not an audio or video episode – it’s a letter from me to you.

Hello dear listeners,

If you’ve listened to episode 557 you’ll know that I’m currently moving flat, which also means that I’m moving my podcast headquarters out of the sky-pod and into a new sky-pod in our next flat. (What’s a sky-pod Luke? Keep reading and I’ll tell you) We’re saying goodbye to the terrace and the magnificent view, but hello to more space!

Most of the move is finished now, and in our new flat we are surrounded by boxes and bits of furniture.

There’s no internet installed in the new place and so I can’t upload any episodes at the moment.

That’s why Luke’s English Podcast is a bit quiet at the moment with no new episodes. When we have WIFI again, more episodes will return including new episodes of A Phrasal Verb a Day (in the App), a Premium episode (or two) about the English that my wife has learned from me over the years (featuring Mrs Thompson herself) and various other normal episodes of the podcast. I’ve got people to interview, stories to tell and English to teach you.

I was recently interviewed by an online magazine called “Our Paris Stories”. It’s all about people who have moved to Paris, their reasons for moving, the challenges of living in another country and so on. They also did a photo shoot in the sky-pod (now sadly empty after our departure). If you’d like to know some personal things about me, like why I moved to Paris, what my most challenging experiences here are, and what it’s like to record episodes of my podcast at home in the flat, check out the article. There are also some nice pics of the sky-pod and the terrace. If you’re wondering what a ‘sky-pod’ is, read the article – everything is explained.

So, as I wrote before, LEP will be back after a brief pause while we wait for our internet to be installed at home.

Then I’ll tell you some recent news, like a description of the new sky-pod and what it was like to meet Louis CK (infamous comedian) just the other night. Yep, he was in Paris doing a secret comedy gig and I managed to chat with him backstage after the show. It was a bit complex because although I really like Louis’ comedy, he is currently in trouble after being involved in a sex scandal. Is it possible to still enjoy his comedy even though he did some pretty despicable things to women and took advantage of his position in the comedy industry? In fact, Amber wrote an article in The Guardian about it. You can read it here 

It’s complicated. I’ll talk to you about it soon.

But for now, I’ll just say (write) bye bye bye bye bye!



546. Death by Meteor

This episode is called Death By Meteor and it’s all about asteroids, space, science, maths, astrophysics and the end of the world! Transcript available.



I’m talking about asteroids and meteors and the possibility that one might strike the earth and what would happen in that situation, or perhaps what will happen in that situation because it is highly likely sooner or later, hopefully later.

There will be lots of English of course! Watch out for vocab on all those topics coming up in the episode, which I will be clarifying for you as we go, because I’m nice like that.
In fact, first of all, here’s a bit of vocab straight off the bat.

What’s the difference between an asteroid and a meteor, a comet and a shooting star?

Oxford dictionary

Asteroid = A small rocky body orbiting the sun. Large numbers of these, ranging enormously in size, are found between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, though some have more eccentric orbits.

Meteor = A small body of matter from outer space that enters the earth’s atmosphere, becoming incandescent as a result of friction and appearing as a streak of light.

Shooting star = A small, rapidly moving meteor burning up on entering the earth’s atmosphere

Meteorite = A piece of rock or metal that has fallen to the earth’s surface from outer space as a meteor. Over 90 per cent of meteorites are of rock while the remainder consist wholly or partly of iron and nickel.

Comet = A celestial object consisting of a nucleus of ice and dust and, when near the sun, a ‘tail’ of gas and dust particles pointing away from the sun.

Originating in the remotest regions of the solar system, most comets follow regular eccentric orbits and appear in the inner solar system as periodic comets, some of which break up and can be the origin of annual meteor showers. They were formerly considered to be supernatural omens.

There’s a lot of talk about what’s going on here on earth relating to the political situation – lots of squabbles going on between people.

It looks like we’re facing a pretty troubled time, and maybe we’re going to spoil everything for ourselves by blowing each other to smithereens, crashing the economy or just ruining the lives of most ordinary people to the point that the world becomes a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the super-rich 0.1% live in protected biodomes in space or something.

Like T800 says in Terminator 2 “You are humans. It is within your nature to destroy yourselves”

However, perhaps before we manage to do that, we might in fact go the way of the dinosaurs, and end up being wiped out by environmental factors, and this includes the very real threat of climate change and how that can affect the careful balance of life on earth, or by some geological event like the eruption of a supervolcano or even a threat from space.

I’m not talking about aliens here. I’m talking about the possibility of the earth being struck by a meteor. And it really could happen within our lifetime. There’s something to look forward to.
This is a real threat to us and makes our petty disputes on earth seem pretty pointless and trivial.

Fairly large asteroids hit the earth on quite a regular basis. The latest one I can remember hearing about was in Russia on 15 February 2013 when an unknown object exploded high above Chelyabinsk, with 20–30 times the energy of the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Apparently it flew through the sky at 20 miles per second.

The light from the meteor was brighter than the Sun, visible up to 100 km (62 mi) away. It was observed over a wide area of the region and in neighbouring republics. Some eyewitnesses also felt intense heat from the fireball.

The danger from things like a collision with an asteroid is very real, although it might be possible to do something about it – and protect ourselves, if we manage to work together.
The following is from the PAN STARRS website – a site dedicated to observing the sky for large objects that could collide with earth. An important project!

Since it formed over 4.5 billion years ago, Earth has been hit many times by asteroids and comets whose orbits bring them into the inner solar system. These objects, collectively known as Near Earth Objects or NEOs, still pose a danger to Earth today. Depending on the size of the impacting object, such a collision can cause massive damage on local to global scales. There is no doubt that sometime in the future Earth will suffer another cosmic impact; the only question is “when?” There is strong scientific evidence that cosmic collisions have played a major role in the mass extinctions documented in Earth’s fossil record. That such cosmic collisions can still occur today was demonstrated graphically in 1994 when Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke apart and 21 fragments, some as large as 2 km in diameter, crashed into the atmosphere of Jupiter. If these fragments had hit Earth instead, we would have suffered global catastrophes of the kind that inspire science fiction movies.

General threat – I did a bit of googling.

‘There’s an asteroid with our name on it’: Brian Cox warns a space rock could wipe out humanity (if robots don’t get there first)

  • Professor Cox says we recently had a ‘near-miss’ with a large asteroid
  • No one knows when next one could be. It ‘could be tomorrow,’ says Cox
  • Engineers are working to mitigate threat, but progress has been slow
  • As well as asteroids, threats to humanity include AI and climate change
  • ‘It’s human stupidity we need to worry about,’ claims Professor Cox
  • He says threats can be prevented through research and education

So, asteroids and the asteroid threat to earth!

There are tens of thousands of objects in space that have an orbit around the sun and their orbits cross the orbit of earth. Apparently it’s only a matter of time until there’s a collision. One of these objects, a large asteroid, could collide with the earth at a massive speed. This would cause huge earthquakes and tidal waves. It would also throw massive amounts of dust, gas, molten rock and ash very high into the atmosphere – enough to envelop the entire world in burning hot ash and lava, not to mention various noxious natural gasses and possibly dangerous chemicals from the asteroid itself. The burning ash and lava would probably destroy a lot of life on the surface, like a huge explosion. But also the resulting ash and dust would probably fill the sky above earth, blocking out the rays of the sun and basically turning the whole planet into a nuclear winter wasteland. Lovely!

As far as I know, this is pretty much what happened to the dinosaurs when an asteroid hit the earth near the Gulf of Mexico a very long time ago. Apparently there may also have been volcanic eruptions at around the same time (well, about 250,000 years before the asteroid) that had already filled the atmosphere with ash and gas, making life pretty difficult already (for 250,000 years!) and then as if that wasn’t enough, a huge space rock or two smacked into the earth and that was that. The majority of life on the planet was wiped out, but not all of it of course.

We know this because the evidence is written into the earth itself. All you need to do is explore the carbon records and you can actually see the layers of different types of matter which correspond to the different events occurring, even the remains of living things, the ash, the lava rock and so on – it’s all in layers in the ground. It’s all there.

Neil DeGrasse Tyson – Death by Meteor

Neil DeGrasse Tyson talks about the real possibility of us being struck by an asteroid that scientists have been watching very carefully.

DeGrasse Tyson is one of the world’s most famous astrophysicists. He is the director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York and is generally a very media-friendly science guy who is very entertaining on all manner of scientific subjects, especially space.

Listen to DeGrasse Tyson’s predictions with some questions beforehand

Why is the asteroid called Apophis?
How do we know where Apophis is going to go?
What’s going to happen in 2029?
What are the conditions for it hitting the earth the next time it arrives?
If it does hit the earth, what exactly will happen?


Death by Meteor – Neil DeGrasse Tyson

There is an asteroid, discovered in December 2004, called Apophis. Named for [after] the Egyptian god of death and darkness. It was named only after its trajectory was identified to intersect that of Earth. Had that not been the case we would not have named it Apophis. Could name it like Tiffany or something or Bambi. You know, something not threatening.

This one was headed towards Earth. Apophis.

Alright once you discover an asteroid you’ve got to wait a little while to get enough of a segment of its orbit to calculate what the full orbit will be, to know if it will come in harm’s way. So we did that… we the community… I wasn’t the one do it. We got ‘peeps’ who do this, okay?

So, ‘peeps’ if you’re over 30 means people. Okay.

Forgive me but, saying you got “peeps”, it’s people. It’s actually a loving phrase.

Right. It’s not little yellow marshmallow. (I assume they have marshmallows in USA called Peeps) Do not write.

So we get the orbit. [It] turns out in the Year 2029, the month of April, the 13th of April, a Friday. Thanks. Apophis will come so close to Earth that it will dip below our orbiting communication satellites and it is the size of the Rose Bowl. It will be the largest, closest thing we have ever observed to come by earth. Now of course a much bigger asteroid took out the dinosaurs but we weren’t around at the time so this is in the era of observing the cosmos with technology. This will be the closest biggest thing we’ll ever see come by.

Now the orbit we now have for it is uncertain enough, because these things are hard to measure and hard to get an exact distance for. The orbit is uncertain enough so we cannot tell you exactly where that trajectory will be. We know it won’t hit earth. We know it will be closer than the orbiting satellites.

There is a range – a 600-mile zone we call it the keyhole. If the asteroid goes through the middle of that keyhole it will hit the earth, thirteen years later, it will hit the earth, 500 miles, sorry 500 kilometres due west of Santa Monica.

So it doesn’t matter where it goes through that keyhole.

Now that’s if it goes through the center. If it goes through other places within that keyhole then the contact point shifts further into the Pacific or closer towards North America, yes okay.

But if it goes through the center it hits the Pacific Ocean, plunges down into the Pacific to a depth of three miles, at which point it explodes, cavitating the Pacific in a hole it’s three miles wide, three miles deep that will send a tsunami wave outward from that location that’s 50 feet high, five stories.

Oceans don’t like having holes in them, so this three mile high wall does what? [An audience member says something] You say that so timidly sir. It collapses! It’s a three mile high wall of water! Thank you, fall back into the hole sloshing against itself with such ferocity that it rises high into the atmosphere and falls back down to the ocean cavitating the ocean again.

So now you make a cavity a second time. This cycle takes about 50 seconds. You can calculate it okay? So here comes the first tsunami and 50 seconds later comes another tsunami. So there you are on the beaches of Malibu. [A] tsunami comes in. Now, unlike the tsunami in Indonesia which was one wave that went deep into the shore, this first wave needs a supply of water to exist so that the next wave actually sucks back on it to create itself. So this tsunami will only go in about a quarter of a mile. [Someone in the audience makes a noise] We have the sound effects person there [in the] upper row there.

So it only goes into quarter mile before it gets sucked back out for the next wave to come. Here’s the problem. Whatever was there on the coastline is now brought back out to sea and the next tsunami brings it back to the shore. All the million dollar homes in Malibu, they get taken out to the sea and then back. But this time they’re in a slightly different shape, okay?

And so what happens is all of them… all the artificial stuff, all the houses, the factories, they get churned into this ablative force that sandblasts the entire west coast of North America clean. So, have a nice day!

I’m sorry I said 13 years after 2020 I misspoke it’s April 13 2029 and if it threads the keyhole it will hit Earth April 13th 2036. So it’s a it’s a seven year [period].

Repeat what he said.

Highlight some of the language

Jimmy Carr talks to Prof Brian Cox about asteroids. Brian talks about Apophis


99942 Apophis (/əˈpɒfɪs/) is a near-Earth asteroid that caused a brief period of concern in December 2004 because initial observations indicated a probability of up to 2.7% that it would hit Earth on April 13, 2029. Additional observations provided improved predictions that eliminated the possibility of an impact on Earth or the Moon in 2029. However, until 2006, a possibility remained that during the 2029 close encounter with Earth, Apophis would pass through a gravitational keyhole, a small region no more than about 0.5 miles wide, or 0.8 km[9][10] that would set up a future impact exactly seven years later on April 13, 2036. As of 2014, the diameter of Apophis is estimated to be approximately 370 metres (1,210 ft).[3] Preliminary observations by Goldstone radar in January 2013 effectively ruled out the possibility of an Earth impact by Apophis in 2036. [12] By May 6, 2013 (April 15, 2013 observation arc), the probability of an impact on April 13, 2036 had been eliminated.[3] Using observations through February 26, 2014, the odds of an impact on April 12, 2068, as calculated by the JPL Sentry risk table are 1 in 150,000.[3] As of March 2018, there were seven asteroids with a more notable cumulative Palermo Technical Impact Hazard Scale than Apophis.[13] On average, one asteroid the size of Apophis (370 metres) can be expected to impact Earth about every 80,000 years.[14]

So, Apophis isn’t going to strike the earth in 2036, thank goodness, but there’s a slim chance that it will hit the earth in 2068, but we’ll all be dead by then so who cares? (will we?)

Still, the threat remains, doesn’t it? Every 80,000 years? I think we’re probably due one again.

What can we do? Call Bruce Willis?

How NASA would deal with the problem

So, when you think about all this it makes you realise or perhaps remember that despite all our petty troubles on earth, it could all be wiped out by an unexpected collision with an asteroid. Scientists can’t always see them coming.

For me this makes me think that I should just live every day and stop sometimes to just enjoy what I have and be grateful.

So, after listening to this, take a moment to think about all the good things in your life. Even if you’re not happy these days for whatever reason. Just think about any good thing you have and think about how grateful you are for it.

Perhaps call a friend or someone you care about and tell them how you feel and say thank you for something. It might just be a good way to appreciate all of this while it lasts.

LEP PREMIUM is now live –

LEP PREMIUM announcement.


This is an announcement to let you know that LEP Premium is now ready to go.

If you want to superpower your English into the 9th dimension, then you can get started by signing up for LEP Premium. Let me tell you about it.

I’m about to upload some premium episodes into the app. They’ll also be available online if you don’t have the app – but the app is going to be the most convenient way to listen to these episodes in the normal way, when you’re out and about or when you’re at home studying.

There will be about 3 episodes coming (probably more in fact) – probably already there by now, a couple of videos and then more episodes + bonuses every month after that.

The way this works is that you’ll need to just create a profile online with my host at, sign into the app with that profile (login and password) and you’ll get access to all the premium episodes I’ve uploaded and am going to upload. You can also log onto my premium page and get access there. to get started. Then Get Access to Premium Episodes. Complete the details and get your login codes and then bob’s your uncle. In the app the login is in the settings menu.

Make sure your version of the LEP app is updated too.

Check the PREMIUM category and that’s where you’ll find the episodes. There will be episodes coming regularly and I’ll also upload other things for premium subscribers, including pdfs, shorter episodes, phrasal verbs and videos. There will be quite a lot of content for the premium subscribers – in the app and online.

Yep – you will also have to pay for the premium episodes, but it will be a small amount – just a few dollars – like the price of a coffee, and finally this is a way for me to monetise my online work, and for you to support this whole project.


  • All the usual episodes of LEP, sometimes with bonuses if you’re using the app, (obviously).
  • Minimum 2 premium episodes per month (MINIMUM – probably more) + various bonuses
  • Premium episodes will be primarily focused on teaching you language. Helping you to develop your vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with a special interest in looking at how English really sounds vs how it is written. It’s all about decoding language, helping you realise how it really sounds as well as how it is structured.
  • Pdfs with transcripts, vocab lists and notes for each P episode – available in the app or downloadable online.
  • More phrasal verb episodes – New ones :)
  • Video versions of LEP Episodes sometimes (not every single episode, but when possible)
  • Invitations to live YouTube streaming events – e.g. live podcast recordings or online workshops & Q&A sessions – only for premium subscribers (arrange a date, tell them you’ll send the email 30 mins before the live stream, set up the live stream as unlisted, send the email with link, start)
  • All content in the app and online

So the podcast will continue as normal with normal episodes being free, but premium subscribers can access all this other stuff too.

Premium Episode content

Every premium episode will primarily be about teaching language to you. Grammar, vocab or pron.

Episodes will be either:

  • Language Reviews focusing on English which has come up naturally in normal episodes of LEP (e.g. unpacking the grammar, vocab or pron in conversations or monologues). Learn real English as it is spoken by my friends and guests.
  • Language Lessons focusing on grammar, vocab or pronunciation (similar to recent grammar lessons). I’ll pick useful, important or requested areas of language and analyse + explain them in proper detail.

You might think – what’s the difference between premium and normal?

Normal LEP episodes can be divided into 2 functions:

  • To give you listening practice. Exposure to plenty of spoken English is vital for developing proper English skills. Listen a lot and you learn language as a consequence. Sometimes I explain things as I go in order to help make things clear and because as a teacher for over 16 years, I’m always teaching you language, even if that’s not the primary aim of the episode. The primary aim of episodes like this is to explain a topic to you, to teach you about culture, tell you stories, make you laugh, interview people and generally encourage you to listen to English as it is spoken naturally. Language learning happens as a consequence, and you can push it further and more effectively by using the transcripts and notes that I publish free on my website.
  • To teach you language directly, rather than just giving you listening practice. I pick certain language points and explain them explicitly with definitions and made up examples. Or I pick out language that has come up in conversation and teach it back to you, helping you to notice features of natural speech. I’ve been teaching English for over 16 years. I’m well-qualified and experienced. I have a particular set of skills for teaching. I can use those skills to explain, define and demonstrate aspects of English directly to help you learn directly. This is about focusing on language from the bottom up.

Putting it simply, Type 1 = topic episodes. Type 2 = language episodes.

Most episodes deal with the first option, with a bit of the second option thrown in too.

E.g. the recent episodes with Andy or other conversations in which I explain the vocab and language afterwards.

Some episodes deal with the second option, with a bit of 1 thrown in.
E.g. language focused episodes, like the recent Grammar Questions, or ones about phrases with GET or plenty of episodes in the archive in which I teach idioms, verb tenses, connected speech, etc.

Type 2 episodes often take a long time to prepare. They also involve me using professional skills that at this point in my career should come with a fee!

Premium episodes will primarily be type 2 episodes.

I’ve decided that I need to try and monetise some of my podcast work.
I’ve been doing it for 9 years. This April was the 9 year anniversary of LEP.
Doing the podcast is my part-time job. I teach at the BC and I do my podcast.
I really want to continue doing it, I want to support your English, but I also need to support my family!
I think you understand.
I want the podcast to remain free, and that will happen. Normal episodes of LEP will still be free. There might be slightly less of them, but so be it. But they will be free.
If you want to support LEP after all these years you can by becoming a premium member and you’ll get a bunch of serious bonus content too.

I remember listening to the pink gorilla episode about a year ago and during the episode you said “OK, never mind”. Same thing happened again and when it happened the second time I thought : Why does Luke say “OK, never mind” why doesn’t he just say “OK” ? What does “never mind” mean? And that curiosity led me to google and that’s how I learned that word :) So with LEP Premium episodes you are essentially explaining the listeners all the language without them having to do any hard work :P they just have to listen to that episode everyday until it clicks.


Your vocabulary is going to get so good

This is a double whammy of just absorbing English through exposure and having things carefully pointed out and clarified, explained

How do teachers choose what English to teach you?

It’s based on general corpora of English. With this method the corpora is LEP. Learn the English you hear on the podcast.

So, not only will you be hearing a lot of vocabulary just coming up naturally in context in normal episodes (which is a really solid way to build awareness of English into your life steadily, bit by bit) but also you’ll regularly have things clarified and taught to you by me afterwards. I think it should be a powerful combination of natural exposure to English in full context and also good old fashioned language teaching from me – all based on the same language.

I think to get this full LEP experience you’ll need to be a premium subscriber.

It’ll also help you to understand and appreciate the normal episodes of the podcast that much more. For example, imagine hearing a conversation with Amber & Paul – you might enjoy it because of the fun vibe we have between us, but there’s bound to be loads of things you’ll miss. Then you can hear a premium episode which clarifies so much of what we said. You could then go back and listen to the original episode again, armed with so much more understanding – you’d understand much much more of it and as a result a lot of that language is going to stick with you.

It’s the ideal combination I reckon.

Also, your grammar is going to get more and more solid as I will make a point of highlighting features of grammar, as well as vocabulary as we go.

LEPP episodes won’t just be about explaining vocab and grammar you’ve heard. Some episodes will be lessons that just focus on important bits of language that you need to know anyway, even if they haven’t come up specifically in other episodes.

It’s all about language – raising awareness, raising your understanding, improving your accuracy so you avoid common errors, making you more confident with the language but not in an abstract way – in a way that connects it to how the language is actually used and has actually been used in conversations you’ve already heard on the podcast.

That’s the thinking behind LEP Premium. I hope you jump on for the ride.

Now, there are 3 premium episodes recorded and ready to go and they’ll be available to you almost immediately.

Remember, they’ll be in the LEP App in the premium category, and on the LEP Premium page at

That’s where you’ll find the episodes and you’ll be able to get the pdfs in those places too.

Use the website to set up your premium profile with a login code and password.

Then you can sign into the app and gain access to premium content there, and also sign in online and get episodes there, including any premium players on my website which will be locked unless you’re a subscriber.

Choose your payment plan. This is where you are going to help me out with a contribution each month.


How much do you reckon you’d expect to pay for all this stuff? Think of it as a contribution towards helping the podcast.

$3.99 per month = Buy me a pint of beer in a pub
$19.99 every six months ($3.29 per month) Buy me a Big coffee – 15% discount
$34.99 per year ($2.89 per month) Buy me a Small coffee – 30% discount

Remember all the stuff you’ll be able to get:

  • Minimum 2 premium episodes per month (MINIMUM – probably more)
    Pdfs with transcripts, vocab lists and notes for each P episode – available in the app or downloadable online.
  • More phrasal verb episodes
  • Video versions of LEP Episodes (not every single episode, but when possible)
  • Invitations to live YouTube streaming events – e.g. live podcast recordings or online workshops & Q&A sessions
  • All content in the app and online

Any questions, let me know at

There will also be at least one page on the website where you can leave comments for premium content.

First thing, get your premium profile set up and get access to about 3 episodes which will be available in the next couple of days.

Then look forward to regular content coming in – language reviews of conversations with guests, grammar and pronunciation lessons – all the things you need to progress in your English with Luke’s English Podcast. to get started

In the app you sign in in the settings page.

I hope you’re as excited as me to really dig deep into British English and learn the same stuff that people actually say on a daily basis, rather than just some words on paper or in a book which look nothing like the way they sound when people speak. to get started

Speak to you again soon.