🎧 Learn English with a short story. 🗣 Listen & repeat after me if you’d like to practise your pronunciation. 💬 Learn some vocabulary in the second half of the video. 📄 I found this story in answer to a post on Quora.com asking about true scary stories. I thought I could use it to help you learn English. Can you understand the story, and predict the twist at the end?
About 7 years ago I got an invitation to attend a dinner party at my cousin’s house. I have a pretty large family and I had never actually seen this particular cousin before. I had only ever spoken to him on the phone. I was surprised that his family unexpectedly invited me over, but I was curious to finally meet them.
The invitation had an address that I didn’t know and the GPS was unfamiliar with it too. It was in one of those areas where Google Maps doesn’t work properly because of poor phone reception,
so I had to use an old fashioned paper map. I marked the location on the map, tried to get a sense of where I was headed, and set off in my car.
As I was driving I started to notice how far I’d travelled into the countryside, away from civilization. I saw trees, farms and fields passing by. Just trees, farms, and fields, and more trees, more farms and more fields.
“Where the hell am I going?” I thought to myself. I’d never ventured out so far in that direction before.
I drove for quite a long time, trying to locate the address I had marked on the map.
The thing is, in this area, a lot of the roads don’t have names, or the names aren’t clearly marked by road signs. I just had to try to match the layout of the streets, to the layout I could see on the map.
I finally found a place at a location that looked like the one I had noted on my map. I was pretty sure this was the right spot, so I parked and got out of the car.
Approaching the house I noticed how dull and dreary it looked. It was completely covered in leaves, branches and overgrown trees.
“This can’t be it.” I said to myself.
But as soon as I walked onto the rocky driveway my aunt and uncle came out to greet me. They seemed excited and welcoming.
“Hello! Hello! Come in! Come in!” they said, beckoning me inside.
Walking into the house, I asked where my cousin was. Answering immediately one of them said, “Oh, he just went to run a few errands. He should be back later.”
I waited in their kitchen and we spent a couple of hours talking about my mother and my family. My aunt made a delicious homemade pot roast that I finished off in minutes.
After dinner we played an enduring game of Uno. It was surprisingly fun and competitive. My aunt in particular seemed delighted to be playing.
When we finished the game of Uno it was almost dark and there was still no sign of my cousin. My aunt and uncle assured me that he’d be back any time soon. Despite what they said, I decided that I had to leave.
It was almost dark outside and I knew it would be a nightmare to find my way out of this dreadful place after sunset, with no streetlights or road signs. As my GPS just wasn’t working, I asked my aunt and uncle the most efficient way to get to the highway.
They gave me a puzzled look.
“But, we thought you were staying the night?” they said.
I told them I couldn’t because I had work the next day and couldn’t afford to miss another day. “It’s much better if you leave tomorrow morning. Trust us. You’ll get lost” they said.
I shrugged it off and told them not to worry,
“Don’t worry. I’ve got a pretty good sense of direction. I could find my way out of the Sahara desert.” I told them.
Looking aggravated, they strongly advised me to stay the night for my own sake. Their body language was weird too as they became more serious and insistent. My uncle stood shaking his head, and my aunt began to move about the place, picking up a set of keys to unlock what I assume was a spare bedroom.
At this point I was getting annoyed and irritable. I sighed, “Fine I’ll stay the night then, but I have to get up very early for work.” I said. Both of them seemed strangely ecstatic that I was staying the night.
As soon as they went out of the room to get bed sheets and pillows,
I ran out of the door, got in my car and hastily pulled away. I know it was rude, but I suddenly felt the urge to get out of there, quickly.
It seemed to take me ages, but I finally found my way back to the main highway and drove back through the night, wondering why my cousin had never turned up.
I got home several hours later than I expected. It was after midnight and I didn’t want to wake my parents up. Climbing over my fence and entering the back door, I noticed that the kitchen lights were on.
As soon as I took my first step through the door, I saw my mom sitting there looking impatient.
In conversation with Andy Cooke, an English teacher from England who is very popular on Instagram. We talk about Andy’s background, becoming an English teacher, getting big on Instagram, ChatGPT and a few other tangents along the way. Includes a few songs on the guitar at the end of the episode.
In this final part of the series I’m going to evaluate ChatGPT’s ability to work as a dictionary with definitions, example sentences, synonyms, phonetic transcriptions, etc. I test its ability to convert texts into British English or other varieties, see if it can help with sentence stress and word stress, and check its ability to create grammar and vocabulary quizzes and other useful exercises.
This is the 3rd and final part of this little series of episodes I’ve done about using ChatGPT to learn English.
I’m experimenting with lots of different prompts to see if it can do things like:
Create study plans for you
Simulate natural conversations
Correct your errors
Provide role play practice for specific situations like job interviews
Help you with Cambridge exam tasks and practice
In this part I’m going to try to answer these questions:
Can you use ChatGPT like a dictionary?
Can it give us correct definitions, information about parts of speech, pronunciation, example sentences, synonyms, antonyms, collocations?
Can it provide information about the etymology of words and phrase?
Can it transcribe things into phonemic script?
Does it accurately transcribe things into British English pronunciation?
Can it convert between different dialects of English, e.g. will it convert American English into British English, or into specific dialects of British English?
Is it able to help us to practise reading texts or presentation scripts with the right sentence stress, word stress, pausing and intonation?
Can it help us practise grammar by creating quizzes or tests? Are those tests reliable?
Can it help you to remember vocabulary with tests?
Can it help you remember words and spelling with mnemonic memory devices?
Can it create text adventure games?
Can it adapt its English to different levels?
What are my overall thoughts and conclusions about ChatGPT?
You can get a PDF of the script for this episode which includes all the prompts I am using to get ChatGPT to do specific things.
Check the episode description and you will find a link to my website page where you can get the PDF scripts for parts 1,2 and 3 of this series.
If you are watching on YouTube I recommend using full screen mode so you can read the on-screen text more easily.
OK, so without further ado, let’s play around with ChatGPT a bit more and see how it can help you learn English.
Ask it to define words What does “rambling” mean?
It gave pretty good definitions I have to say.
Arguably it’s not as good as a proper dictionary.
Just type the words into a dictionary and you’ll get way more info, including parts of speech, pronunciation, example sentences, related phrasal verbs etc.
But having said that you can ask ChatGPT for more specific details about words, including:
Can you give me some example sentences with the verb “ramble” in different tenses?
What are common collocations with the word ramble?
What are some synonyms of the word “ramble”? (I had to specify for ways of talking)
Can you transcribe the word “ramble” in phonemic script?
What is the origin of the expression “break a leg?”
Create mnemonics to help you remember vocabulary
Can you create some mnemonics to help me remember these words and phrases?
ramble, waffle, meander, go off on a tangent, get sidetracked
It did it, and I must say this is pretty impressive.
You still need to use your imagination a bit, but these mnemonics are certainly a good starting point.
Ask it to transcribe things into phonemic script
But only in standard American?
Is it good at transcribing things in British English?
Can you transcribe this sentence into phonemic script? I’d like a hot dog with lots of tomato sauce.
Different versions of the language
Can you convert this story into (insert dialect here)?
This is a paragraph I came up with which contains loads of words that are different between US and UK English.
Let’s see if it can convert this UK version into US English.
First I’ll read it out. See if you can identify the words which will probably be different between US and UK English.
I just popped out of my flat to get some post from the postman when I realised I had locked myself out. I was stuck outside with only a pair of slippers on and it was the middle of autumn. To make matters worse I really needed the toilet. My car was there but of course I’d left the car keys in the house as well, although I couldn’t see where they were because my curtains were closed. Then I noticed that some bloody yob had put a big scratch across the bonnet of my car. That made me really angry I can tell you. “You’ll be hearing from my solicitor” I said to myself. Just when I thought my day couldn’t get any worse the TV aerial on the roof of my house fell off and crashed into the windscreen of my car, smashing it to pieces. I thought “I’ll need to make a trip to the chemist for some medicine to help me recover from this!” I walked along the main road and on the way I stopped to get some chips from the fish & chip shop at the main crossroads near my house. When I had finished, I put the paper bag in the rubbish bin and walked under the flyover to the chemist’s. I got my medicine and headed home. Of course, I was still locked out so in the end I had to jump over the fence into my back garden and climbed into a window which I had left open. Luckily I lived on the ground floor so I didn’t actually need to climb up the wall or anything, but unfortunately I broke a mug which was on the window sill. I used my hoover to clean up the broken pieces. Suddenly I heard a siren and someone knocked at the door. “Oh no, it’s the old bill!” I thought. “They think I’m burgling my own house!” I went to answer the door, but I didn’t realise that I’d ripped my trousers climbing in the window. I opened the door and stood there with my trousers hanging open. They could see my pants and everything! How embarrassing!
Make a funny dialogue between two friends in a pub in London speaking British English. Include a joke at the end of the dialogue.
Generate the same response but the two friends are from Belfast, in Northern Ireland.
Sentence stress, pausing and intonation
Ask it to help you read out a text with the right pausing, stress and intonation.
Can you help me to read out this paragraph, showing where the pauses, stress and intonation should be?
Chat GPT or chat-based generative pre-trained transformer models, is a type of artificial intelligence that allows users to interact with a virtual assistant using natural language. This technology is based on the principles of GPT-3, the third generation of the popular generative pre-trained transformer model.
One of the key features of chat GPT is its ability to generate responses in real-time, based on the user’s input.
That is from an article about ChatGPT which I found on medium.com 👇
but it’s bad at showing word stress or sentence stress.
☝️bad bad bad bad bad! ☝️
Grammar or vocab quizzes or tests
Let’s ask it to create a grammar review test for upper-intermediate level.
Create a 10-question grammar test to help me practise English at an upper-intermediate level.
10 questions isn’t really enough to cover all areas of grammar but you would expect it to cover at least 10 different grammar points. Did it?
What happens if I ask it to make a 20-question grammar test for B2 level? Does it use a wide variety of forms? Does it require the test taker do demonstrate control over the language or is it just multiple choice?
The results are not as rigorous, complete, reliable or detailed as similar tests in published materials such as the diagnostic test at the back of English Grammar in Use by Murphy.
It’s also not focused on language that you have been studying in your course.
It always uses multiple choice.
Basically – it doesn’t produce a very reliable test.
Vocabulary review tests, to help you remember words and phrases
Create a vocabulary test to help me remember and use these words and phrases.
ramble, waffle, meander, go off on a tangent, crack on, Get away with, get by, get on with, get off on, get through to, get around to
The test it created was multiple choice and only contained definitions.
Definitions are good but not the best way to help you remember vocabulary. You need example sentences and it’s best if you have to use the words in a meaningful and contextualised way. At least give us example sentences with the words and phrases removed and ask us to put the correct words in the correct place, perhaps in the correct form.
But it’s better than nothing, and I think this could be useful if you have a list of words or phrases that you’re trying to remember.
Text adventure games to practise grammar
I’ve always wanted to create one of these but have never got round to it. One of the reasons is because it’s quite a time consuming task and requires a lot of patience to make sure I’m using plenty of good grammar questions and combining that with an interesting story with engaging choices. Maybe ChatGPT can cut out a lot of the work.
Create a 5 minute text adventure game to help me practise English grammar
Nice idea but it did a bad job. It ended up creating a game with virtually no grammar questions and then it played the game itself.
I’m sure there are other language practice exercises or activities which ChatGPT could do.
If you can think of some other things, put them in the comment section.
Ask it to adapt its English level to yours
You can write things like “please adapt your English to B1 level” or something similar.
Actually I just tested this with this prompt:
Give me some advice on how to set up a podcast studio. Please use A2 level English.
Can you adapt this passage from Hamlet by Shakespeare into elementary level (A2) English?
So you can ask it to use simple English at your level.
You can also prompt it in your first language of course, but you have to request that it responds in English.
Overview / Comments / Conclusions
It’s definitely way better than any chatbots I’ve ever seen before.
There’s no denying how impressive it is in many ways. I only scratched the surface here. It can do lots of other things including creating legal contracts, writing song lyrics, writing short stories, movie plots, essay plans, essays etc.
But I think we still need to be a bit sceptical or critical about it at this stage. It’s impressive at first, but working closely with it shows us its limitations.
Don’t assume that it is answering your questions correctly or reliably. It seems to miss things, and contradict itself sometime and also it lacks the overall vision and emotional intelligence that a good teacher can have.
There are also questions about things like how it could encourage cheating, and also other criticisms (I’ll explore some more in a few minutes).
They’ve done wonders with the marketing – allowing us all to use it freely, which has caused us all to talk about it and as a result it’s gone viral with everyone talking about it. This is helping them to make money now (by selling it as a service which people can incorporate into their websites etc, and charging people for the PRO version of it) and also it’s allowed them to get a lot more data (as millions of people have been using it) which is allowing them to develop it further. In fact it is improving and changing all the time, becoming more and more accurate and sophisticated.
For learning English, there are definitely ways it can help, including taking out some of the time-consuming things like creating little memory tests, creating sample texts and dialogues which you can use, having some limited conversation practise.
One of its main strengths is error correction. It can quickly correct errors in your writing and even explain the reasons, although the explaining is a bit limited.
It can correct your English, but don’t rely on it too much. Try to use this as a tool to help you improve your English, not just something that you rely on at the expense of making progress on your own. Learn from it, but don’t let it do all the work.
You need to have a pretty good level of English to prompt ChatGPT properly. Sometimes you need to find “clever” ways to get it to do exactly what you want and I think this requires a lot of control over your language.
As I mentioned before you often need to find different ways to ask your question or to give your prompt before you get what you’re looking for.
Remember you can tell it *exactly* what to do. So keep getting specific.
It’s still a bit early for us to completely rely on it as a personal language teacher or a conversation partner, but it can be a convenient tool for certain basic tasks that can be time consuming.
Chat GPT has no emotional intelligence. It isn’t great at working out what you really want it to do, which is something I have to do as a teacher all the time. I’m always interpreting my students intentions and what they want to say, and then helping them find the right words or sentences to do that, and then helping them produce that again and again, adapting and reacting all the time and also managing the students feelings and emotional responses. It’s a special kind of dance that you have to do with the student and this is extremely complicated and requires a lot of sensitivity and also plenty of teaching experience to allow you to pinpoint exactly what is needed of you as a teacher.
ChatGPT has a long way to go before it can do that.
For the time being it is no replacement for the interaction you can have with a real human and this is still one of the best ways to practise and develop proper communication skills in English. It is definitely better to practise interacting in English with a real human, preferably one who is able to help you with your English learning because they have skills and experience in this area.
Also, don’t underestimate the importance of those emotional aspects of communication with people. ChatGPT is no replacement for that, at the moment.
Maybe one day it will be so good that talking to it will be indistinguishable from talking to a real person, which is quite an unnerving prospect somehow.
But anyway, it’s important to continue practising your English by interacting with real people in social scenarios.
Talking to people can be a bit intimidating if you are shy or introverted, but it is essential to practise doing it because interpersonal skills are vital in communication.
ChatGPT doesn’t speak or listen yet, so no listening or speaking practice is possible, but no doubt that’ll come eventually.
What does ChatGPT say about its limitations as a language learning tool?
What are some possible problems with using ChatGPT for learning English?
I wonder if it will be free forever. They’ve made it free now to get our attention but eventually we’ll probably have to pay to use it fully. In fact, already the free version is quite limited. It’s slow and stops performing after about 1 hour of interaction.
I wonder if later this year ChatGPT will still be as accessible as it is now. I expect they let us all use it for a while in order to get our attention and now they’re monetising the product and limiting free access to it.
I wonder how ChatGPT will develop. It will certainly get better and better.
Perhaps one day (soon) it will flawlessly do all the things we want it to do.
There are also some frightening aspects to this when we imagine the impact this might have on the world.
Despite what I said about it being no replacement for human interaction, it is remarkably advanced and sophisticated and that is only the current version of the software.
I expect this current iteration of ChatGPT is just the tip of the iceberg and eventually it will be almost impossible to differentiate between the chatbot and a real human.
And when this is combined with life-like speech generation and real life visuals (deepfakes) as well – a video version talking and responding naturally with a lifelike face and voice, in fact so lifelike that we won’t be able to work out if we’re dealing with a human or not, that will be quite frightening because suddenly then we’re living in the film Bladerunner, ExMachina or A.I. with all the ethical and social ramifications explored by those films.
By the way, those films seem to explore questions of whether it is ethical for us to create highly intellilgent AI capable of human-like emotions, and whether it is ethical for us to treat them like slaves or as sub-human. They are like us, even better than us in many ways, but they don’t have the same rights as us.
Other films have explored the threat to humankind of artificial intelligence. This includes things like The Terminator series and The Matrix which show a world in which AI becomes self-aware and decides to fight against humans or to enslave us.
A more immediate and realistic problem with something like ChatGPT is how it can affect the job market and whether it will make lots of people redundant.
What will we do when so much of our work can be done by AI that doesn’t need to eat, sleep, or take breaks? What will happen to us? Will people still be employable? What happens when the human population continues to rise, but the number of jobs we can do in order to earn money, decreases?
I have no idea.
And will AI eventually make it completely unnecessary to even learn another language? Will we simply have simultaneous automatic translations? Will AI augment our reality completely? Will we somehow be connected in the most intimate and integral way with technology, which will mean we won’t need to learn languages any more?
I’m not sure to be honest. What people usually say in response to that question is that we will always want to learn languages because there can be no replacement for the experience of communicating with people naturally using language and no technology can replace or replicate this experience sufficiently.
Let’s ask ChatGPT some more questions about itself, relating to things like people’s fears about it and if it will cause more cheating
What are people’s fears about how ChatGPT will change the world for the worse?
How might AI become a threat to humans?
Will ChatGPT help people to cheat?
Yes, probably. I can’t see how this won’t be a problem. I mean, this will almost certainly be a problem. Surely, students will just take the easy route and get ChatGPT to write essays for them, or other assignments. That’s obviously bad, because these students will not actually learn the skills and knowledge they’re supposed to learn during their studies and also it could compromise the effectiveness of education in general.
I don’t know how this problem is going to be solved. I don’t know how OpenAI have responded to this.
Let’s see what ChatGPT says about people using it to cheat in their homework.
Will ChatGPT help people to cheat in homework and academic essay tasks?
Will there be more cheating as a result of ChatGPT?
So it encourages people to cheat and it doesn’t know how people will use its services, but let’s be honest – it’s definitely going to result in more cheating.
It will be very interesting to see how ChatGPT and other software (because it’s not just OpenAI – there are loads of other competing companies also developing similar systems all over the world) It’ll be very interesting to see how this changes the world and of course we all hope that it changes things for the better and that it ultimately improves the human experience, making our lives better, allowing us to thrive.
That’s it – thanks for listening!
Leave your comments in the comment section.
I’m probably going to do another episode about ChatGPT just because it is fun to mess around with it and really see what it can do, including asking it to plan a podcast episode for me, write an introduction to an episode, have funny conversations, write jokes and short stories and lots of other things.
An unedited conversation with Amber & Paul about toilet habits, Titanic (1997), weird videos on TikTok & YouTube and plenty more. Advanced level listening practice with the POD-PALs. Video version available.
The audio version ☝️ has about 15 minutes of extra rambling by Luke at the end, not included in the video version 👇
Hello, listeners, I hope you’re doing well today. Welcome back to my podcast. This is where you can do plenty of listening in order to improve your English. Because listening is a vital part of the process. You have to listen, listen, listen and generally get used to hearing natural English as it is spoken and my podcast can help you to do that.
In this episode Amber & Paul are back on the podcast. In case you don’t know, Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor are my friends who have been regular guests on this show for many years. They are both stand-up comedians from the UK, living in Paris, like me.
A couple of weeks ago, before I had a haircut, the three of us got together here in my room and had a conversation for this podcast. We didn’t plan the topic in advance. So you’re going to hear a lot of spontaneous natural speaking. We’re not slowing down or trying to use the easy words. This is just how we speak normally when we’re together. As you will notice, I try to explain things or clarify things as we go, in order to help you a bit, but still, it might be difficult, depending on your English level.
If you like you can think of this as a kind of listening test. Can you follow what we’re saying and keep up with all the changes in the conversation?
You’ll see that the episode title is Toilets, Titanic and TikTok which gives you a general idea of what we talk about.
We didn’t have a lot of time, so I just pressed record, and then quite quickly we found ourselves talking about toilets first of all.
So there’s a good 45 minutes of us talking about toilets.
By the way, in British English the word toilet means both the room and the thing in the room that you sit on.
In American English the toilet is just the thing you sit on, and the room in American English would probably be called the restroom or the bathroom, although when we go there we’re not resting or having a bath, but anyway… This is a conversation about toilets.
We talk about what people do in the toilet, on the toilet, near the toilet and even above the toilet in some cases.
So, be ready for some rather specific and possibly disgusting details about this topic.
I don’t know how you feel about this subject. Personally I find it quite fascinating to learn about this very private thing that we don’t always talk about, except maybe when we’re together with close friends like this.
For example, any women listening – do you know what happens in men’s public toilets? And men, do you know what goes on in women’s public toilets? I think we know what basically happens, but what about certain, other, unknown things?
For example, why is there usually a much bigger queue at the women’s loo (“loo” is UK English for “toilet”).
Do men always stand up when they pee or do they sometimes do it sitting down? And which one is actually easier or better?
How do other people deal with public toilets, which can be dirty or messy? And in fact, why are they so messy, especially in the toilet cubicles? What are people doing in there?
And have you ever argued, with someone you live with, about leaving the toilet seat up?
Women often get frustrated with men who leave the toilet seat up.
Toilet seat up? toilet seat down? What’s going on here? Why is that annoying? And who is right?
That’s just a sample of the kinds of things we’re talking about, OK?
So, brace yourself – toilet talk is coming, with some specific references to hygiene and cleanliness too.
Then, somehow we go from the toilet, to the film Titanic, and that will be generally less disgusting and problematic I think, although arguably what happened on the Titanic is much much worse than what normally happens in the toilet, but I don’t know your habits, I don’t know your life.
Then things get a bit more graphic again at the end of the conversation as we talk about some weird, disgusting and yet strangely satisfying videos we like to watch on TikTok and YouTube.
So here is an unedited talk full of tangents about tea, toilets, Titanic, TikTok trends and more, and here we go…
Ending Transcript (These are the things I say at the end of the audio version + a few spontaneous bits)
OK audio people, how was that for you?
Did you manage to keep up?
Did you learn anything new?
Do you have anything to add to this conversation?
Congratulations for making it this far. You just entered over 1 hour of English into your head. Think of the people who didn’t do that. They now have 1 hour less of English exposure.
As I said at the start, this conversation was fast (as usual) and there were probably things you missed.
I started the recording before we were ready to begin, that’s because I just needed to get started because we didn’t have a lot of time (Amber had to leave at about 3.30 as usual). So I just hit record.
Paul asked about which audience is bigger – the video viewers or the audio listeners. I said the audio listeners outnumbered the video viewers and so Paul said he wouldn’t do too many visual things, like visual jokes.
Then he pretended to take his trousers off (I guess this was in order to make a visual joke). In fact, he unzipped his jeans, but didn’t actually unbuckle his belt.
This led to Paul commenting that men only unbuckle their belt or fully undo their trousers twice each day, and then we were off and the topic turned to the topic of men undoing their trousers in the toilet, and we asked Amber about what it’s like for women to use the toilet when they are wearing a one-piece outfit, like a jump suit. Isn’t that complicated?
And that’s how it all started, you see. I guess if you’re still listening to this, you got that. I wonder how many people just gave up after the first 5 or 10 minutes.
Anyway, that’s enough waffle at the end.
Like I said before, leave your comments (if you have a comment section where you are listening – use my website if you can. The link for the relevant page for this episode is in the show notes for this – check your podcast app of choice. The notes will be there, including a link to the website page)
Actually, could you do me a quick favour? If you enjoy my episodes, give me a rating and a quick review – on the Apple Podcasts page or Google Podcasts page – wherever you listen to this podcast. If you’re able to leave a quick review and a rating, that would really help the podcast.
If you don’t want to help the podcast, then never mind. But if you’d like to help even in a small way – spread the word, leave a review, leave a rating and all that good stuff.
Of course you can also go further and send a donation to help support the show – there’s a PayPal donate button on my website.
And if you have sent me a donation recently – thank you very very much. YOu make this podcast possible and you allow this show to exist. Seriously.
And then there are the premium subscribers. More premium content is coming soon I promise. As I always say, it does take some time for me to produce the premium content because it requires a lot more preparation due to the more rigorous approach that I take to those episodes, with their PDFs and everything. I’m working on more Story episodes for the premium content. I’ve been writing and re-writing some stories about my life – childhood tales and more. That’s coming soon. Thank you if you are a premium subscriber – again you are keeping the show alive.
If you have questions about LEP Premium, including “How do I get the PDFs? How do I find all the episodes?” and more – check my website. All those questions are answered there – www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo All the frequently asked questions are there.
Thank you for your support everyone! Let’s keep this thing going.
Take care out there in LEPland. Keep your chin up, keep a smile on your face if you can. Be good to yourself, be excellent to each other, have another lovely morning, afternoon, evening or night and I will speak to you in the next instalment, coming soon. Good bye bye bye bye bye!
What do you think listeners? Leave your comments below 👇
James Harris is a writer, comedian, English teacher and language learner (French, German, Chinese) from England. In this funny chat, we talk about learning Chinese, being married to a Chinese woman and his semi-autobiographical book, “Midlands” which tells several funny and touching stories about two ex-pats living in Germany; Stuart, who is a stand-up comedian trying to understand the Germans, and Doug who gets involved in a love affair. James reads several passages from the book during the episode.
Stuart describes his early days in Germany, learning German.
Then a chance meeting in a pub had earned him an invitation to Berlin. Laura, Danish and short, was staying there for the summer, rummaging around in the archives for information about a particular Jewish family who had gone on to achieve cultural success in post-war Denmark;
Laura, a snub-nosed Danish girl with glasses who loved Israel and wheat beer. Stuart didn’t care much about her interests but did enjoy spending the days reading on her balcony and socializing with university friends at night;
by the end of the summer his hair had lengthened and his German increased fifty-fold, meaning he now knew about a hundred words. ‘Hallo!’ he would say, then ‘Weltschmerz’ and following a further pause ‘Auf Wiedersehen,’ saying a final farewell to people he would see again the next day.
He also hadn’t yet learnt to ask whether something was sugar or salt, leading to an evening eating some very sweet chips. But even speechless he wasn’t, at last, uneasy in Berlin – it seemed to him a gentle city, where the trains slid in and out and the open spaces pacified tourists drunker and rowdier elsewhere.
It was like the Germans had become one of the peaceful races in Star Trek, the ones introduced by an insert screen of their orderly, verdant planet, Bajorans, say, or some other species permanently threatened by obliteration; and what a change after the tiny cubicles and traffic-jam living of the English, who could only ever be the Borg.
Surrounded by pacifists, Stuart revelled in the license of Englishness, his ability to voice the odd mildly aggressive opinion or wildly over-celebrate during that summer’s football tournament, until England lost. He swam in lakes, and bought a bicycle, and gradually stopped thinking of England and the ashes it had fed him.
In Oxford, where he had been President of the University sketch revue, people had printed gossip about him in the student newspapers, asked him to leave parties, dealt with him as the man who had committed that deepest and most unforgivable of Oxford crimes: failure.
He had failed, as a comedian and a young man, and now publicly; his country had rejected him. He had been humiliated in front of an audience of his contemporaries and sent into an internal exile.
Afterwards, many of these young dilettantes, at the time apparently picturing future lives as bereft of unforeseen distress as possible, lives composed of simply an endless procession of success, successes occurring within a network of contacts which they had built up at University and which would continue to provide them with unstinting support throughout their adult lives, never violating the simple and essential principle that all was permissible as long as it did well – did not want his name on their social CV.
From Chapter 14
Stuart is on-stage doing stand up in Germany.
‘Don’t you sometimes get the feeling,’ said Stuart, years before on the stage in Heidelberg, ‘that if Barack Obama had been German it wouldn’t have been “Yes We Can” but ”Nein das geht nicht”? No you can’t.
‘Everyone would have been chanting it – No you can’t! No you can’t! Of course in this version Obama would not have been black.’
Stuart was closing in on the kill. ‘And this very lack of optimism,’ he said, treading across the stage, limbering, into the really good stuff now, ‘is actually built into the German language itself.
Like for example, when you’re really happy in English, you say “I’m on Cloud Nine.” But in Germany you say, “I’m on Cloud Seven.”
Does this mean that even in their happiest moments the Germans are two clouds less happy than English-speaking people?’
And after developing that bit, which meant moving into a depiction of an exemplary German, Hannes, in his German heaven, with an allotment, board games, juice and an Autobahn heading directly to Mallorca, he noting, somewhat wistfully, the celebratory Anglophones on Cloud Nine who were dancing to ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, which was an excuse to sing it, following which they – the Anglophones – called down to Cloud Eight “Hey Hannes man! Come and join us here on Cloud Nine” and Hannes replying “No thank you. Everything on Cloud Seven is perfectly satisfactory” then moving on to speculation as to the occupants of the other clouds, the French on Cloud Eight living it up, their motor scooters floating off the cloud and down to Cloud Zero where the Greeks were and below them the Cypriots who’d had to sell the cloud, and were just falling – after all these and other jokes, Stuart had them where he wanted them.
‘Isn’t it funny that, since the Second World War, the Germans have been like’, change voice, German accent, ‘”We Germans. We have done so many things wrong and there is no way we can ever put them right.”
And now Greece is like,’ pause, turn of the head, “Well, actually…”’
They laughed, and laughed, and laughed. They got it.
Santiago has a top job in the English teaching industry. He is the managing director of English teaching at Oxford University Press. But English is not his first language. He learned it as an adult when he moved to London in his twenties. This conversation explores how he progressed in his English learning and in his career, while dealing with daily challenges and failures in English.
The conclusions are that motivation and positivity are vital, you have to keep going through the difficult times, and you can achieve great things in your career in English even if you’re not perfect. This episode should be a boost for the confidence of all English learners! Keep an open mind, keep your eyes on the prize, keep going and your English WILL improve!
The audio version contains extra content, including my thoughts and conclusions after speaking to Santi
Some thoughts about language learning 👇
(To borrow a catchphrase from All Ears English Podcast) “It’s about connection not perfection“.
Use English today – what are you waiting for?
Learning a language can be painful, but we have to persevere. Keep going through the bad times. Good times are just around the corner.
Keep your chin up!
Keep calm and carry on!
Perseverance, positivity, practice.
Exposure is so important for learning English – reading a lot, listening a lot, socialising a lot in English.
Lean into failure, don’t hide from it.
But if you do hide from it, that’s ok – you’re only human.
English is a broad church – there’s a lot of diversity in it.
Your version of English is part of it too, so don’t worry about your accent too much. Work on it, practice being clear, listen & repeat, but at the same time, keep it real – don’t worry if you don’t sound exactly like me. It hasn’t stopped Santi – he’s a success in English and you can do it too.
A rambling episode about making a fresh start in the new year, and some things I just have to tell you about listening to Luke’s English Podcast using a podcast app on your phone + lots of tangents. I hope you enjoy it!
I start reading at 12mins12seconds in the audio version
Sometimes I go “off-script” and say things which are not written here. I hope you can follow it all.
If you’re new to this podcast – I’m Luke, I’m an English teacher and comedian from England, and I’ve been doing this podcast for learners of English for about 14 years now.
You can use my podcast to improve your English in various ways, but the main thing is that it can help you do more listening, which is essential for acquiring natural, and instinctive English. What I mean by instinctive English is that you get an instinctive feel for the language, and this is what you can get from simply engaging with English in spoken form or written form and focusing on understanding it. It really helps if the process is fun and so I do try to keep things funny (this isn’t funny though) or just entertaining and interesting as much as possible.
This is episode 805 and it’s called A New Year Ramble 2023.
I am just going to talk to you for at least an hour. Just listen to my voice for the duration of the episode and remember – all the words and sentences I am saying are all going into your brain and a lot of it will stick there! This is perhaps more effective for your English progress than slaving away over a grammar book or staring at word lists. Just listen to me, follow my words, stick with me and hopefully enjoy it all. Let the rest happen naturally.
For this episode I’ve written some notes which I am reading from sometimes, and some stuff is spontaneous.
The main thing in this episode is that I’m just going to have a ramble. That means talking and talking, sometimes going this way sometimes that way, moving from one topic to another and one thought to another without having a very clearly defined structure. As I said, I’m just going to talk to you for a while. Join me!
New Listeners, a Fresh Start & Learning English with LEP in 2023
In January I find that new people start listening (hello!)
Also people return to the podcast and generally refocus on learning English, turning over a new leaf.
New Year’s resolutions
I like to make a fresh start every January and say some things on the podcast to explain what this is, how it works, and how you can learn English from my content.
This is the 14th time I’ve recorded an new year episode. It’s my 14th January on this show so I have done quite a lot of episodes in the past welcoming new people and talking about how you can learn English with this podcast, and what the aims of this project are.
So, instead of repeating the same things again, I’ll suggest that you check out some of these episodes. (Pick some episodes to recommend)
Where can I find all your episodes, Luke?
You can always find all my episodes in the archive on my website. If you’re watching on YouTube, not all the episodes are there. Just some.
All rest are in my episode archive on my website including episode titles, numbers, summaries of what’s in each episode and then on each page you’ll find an audio player, a download button and sometimes vocabulary notes, transcripts of some or all of the episode and more things.
Some things you should know about how to listen to LEP
I’ve noticed from quite a lot of comments and emails recently that people don’t know certain key information about my show.
Let’s just clarify a few things here about this podcast.
Free episodes (Luke’s English Podcast)
and premium episodes (Luke’s English Podcast Premium)
Free episodes are free! You’re listening to a free episode right now!
If you’re listening using a podcast app on your phone, you might notice some advertising. This helps me to continue doing the podcast and pays for things like rent, internet, food.
Premium episodes are only available if you sign up to LEP Premium for about 4$ a month. This also helps me to pay for things like food, clothes for my daughter, flowers for my wife, and loads of other things. This is how I actually live these days!
Anyway, premium episodes are for premium subscribers and they’re usually about vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar.
The premium episodes have PDFs.
Some premium subscribers don’t know how to find the PDFs.
I’ll tell you more about premium a bit later including the best way to listen to premium episodes and how to get the PDFs.
How to listen to the free episodes
My show has always been primarily an audio podcast which most people listen to using a podcast app on their phone.
You can also listen to the episodes on my website.
I publish my episodes on YouTube as well.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been filming myself with a webcam while recording my episodes and putting those video versions on YouTube. Some of those YouTube videos have sort of gone viral and I’ve ended up being a kind of YouTuber as well, but I still consider this show to be an audio podcast first and foremost.
Sometimes there is more content in the audio versions, for example if I have an interview with a guest, the video version might only contain the conversation, whereas the audio version will probably include an introduction and some talking from me at the end of the episode (perhaps a short ramble or some vocabulary explanations).
When it’s possible I add some text on the screen of video versions on YouTube so you can read while you listen, but I don’t do that every time.
Automatic subtitles are available (usually) on my YouTube videos.
But this show is primarily an audio podcast. This is how I think of it. It’s an audio show which you can listen to in the normal way people listen to podcasts, which means using a podcast app on your phone.
Now, I’m going to go a bit basic here and explain what a podcast app is.
Back to basics: What is a podcast app?
The majority of you listening already know all this stuff so I’m just patronising you, but I suppose you could just pay attention to the way I’m describing all of this. How would you explain how to listen to a podcast, to someone who is completely new to the whole thing? Here’s how I would do it.
For those of you who don’t know, a podcast app is an app you download (free) onto your phone from the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android).
Lots of apps are available as I said. Check your phone. You might already have one. If you’re on iOS, you can look for the one with the purple icon that says Podcasts. Personally I’m not a huge fan of that app, but it will work fine.
Maybe you don’t have a podcast app on your phone, in which case, download one (PocketCasts!) then just search in the app for Luke’s English Podcast and then subscribe to it. Of course, other podcasts are available but who needs other podcasts I ask you?
New episodes will arrive there every time I publish them and it’s super convenient. You can listen to episodes on headphones (recommended) or just blare them out loud on your phone on the back of the bus or something if you want to annoy everyone around you or perhaps help them learn English too.
You can listen when your phone is connected to wifi (probably at home or maybe in the office when you should be working) or you can listen when you’re outside using your phone’s data internet connection.
Podcast apps will also save your place in the episode, if you press stop for some reason. The app will remember where you stopped. Then when you go back to the app later and start listening to that episode again, the app will remember where you stopped and you can carry on listening. Perfect! No need to worry about my episodes being too long! No need to listen to the whole thing in one single sitting.
There are also other advantages to using a podcast app on your phone, including being able to add my premium episodes to the app as well, if you sign up. I’ll explain more about that in a minute.
A lot of people use Spotify to listen to podcasts. Great! The only problem there is that you can’t add premium episodes to Spotify, because it’s not a “normal podcast app”.
Don’t use the Luke’s English Podcast App any more
By the way, I am not talking about the LEP App here. A lot of you have downloaded that on your phones.
It’s listed in the app store as “Luke’s English Podcast App” and it might appear on your phone as simply LEP.
But, don’t use the LEP app any more. It is defunct. New episodes are no longer arriving there and in a few months it will disappear from the App Store completely. So, you can forget about the LEP App now. It’s sad, I know, but it’s not the end of the world because you can continue listening in any other normal podcast app as I’ve said.
How to listen to LEP Premium and how to get the premium PDFs
Right, so let me talk a bit about LEP Premium. This isn’t a promotion by the way, it’s just information which a lot of people don’t know. No pressure to sign up to my premium subscription or anything. It’s totally up to you. Of course I hope you do, but it’s up to you right?
By the way, premium people – new episodes are coming including some storytime episodes.
So, I am constantly getting emails from people saying “I have signed up to LEP Premium but how do I listen and how do I get the PDFs?” and I just feel like a surprising number of people out there are somehow missing out on basic information which you just have to know or I might go a bit mad and stick bananas in my ears and then everyone will say “Hey you’ve got bananas in your ears” and I’ll say “What??” and they’ll say “You’ve got bananas in your ears!!!” and I’ll say “What????” and they’ll say “WHY HAVE YOU GOT BANANAS IN YOUR EARS???” and I’ll say “I CAN’T HEAR YOU I’VE GOT BANANAS IN MY EARS!!!”
That’s what will happen if everyone continues not to know certain basic information about my podcast and about how the premium part works.
Let me explain as quickly and clearly as possible, then we’ll move on to some ramblings about other perhaps more entertaining matters.
The best way to listen to premium episodes is to add LEP Premium to a podcast app on your phone.
Let’s say you’re using Apple Podcasts to listen to the normal free episodes of LEP and you’ve decided it’s time to also listen to the premium content to push your English further. Maybe one day you just say to yourself “Hey, I think it’s time to also listen to the premium content to push my English further” but then you think, but what do I do? Where do I go? And crucially – how do I get those precious PDFS????
Ok, so let’s say you’ve gone to www.teacherluke.Co.uk/premiumon your phone and you’ve signed up to LEP Premium and you are logged into Acast+ (the platform I use for the premium subscription).
You’ll see that you have the option to “Listen now” or “Add show to app”.
If you tap “listen now” you’ll see a list of all the episodes and you can play them, listen to them. But this is not a convenient way to listen.
You need to tap “add show to app”, so tap that and you can choose the podcast app which you have on your phone and which you use to listen to the free episodes, see?
Again, let’s say you’re using Apple Podcasts. Let’s use that as an example.
Where it says “Add show to podcast” you then tap “Apple Podcasts” and the Apple Podcasts app will magically open, giving you the option to subscribe to LEP Premium there. Do it! You’ve already paid, you’ve put your card details in and stuff, what are you waiting for. Add LEP Premium to Apple Podcasts! Go for it!
Now you have upgraded your LEP episode list on Apple Podcasts. You will now be able to find the premium episodes in your list. Before it was just the free episodes. Now the list includes the premium episodes too. Celebrate! It’s a miracle!
Spare a thought for LEPsters who can’t sign up to LEP Premium because of government stuff (Give peace a chance)
I think at this point it would be appropriate to spare a thought for those LEPsters who are unable to sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+, probably because of two possibilities – either Acast has been blocked by your government because they think that LEP and LEP Premium are just far too dangerous for people to listen to, because – heaven forbid, I might talk about things which perhaps directly contradict the version of reality which they are trying to pull over your eyes, OR your credit card will not work for international payments because your country is being sanctioned because your government is being very naughty indeed. In any case, if you can’t access LEP Premium, I am sorry, but have a word with your government OK? But don’t get thrown in jail. I know, that’s easier said than done. I don’t know – I don’t want to casually suggest that you all rise up in some kind of revolution or something, and overthrow the people who run your country, because you simply cannot allow this madness to continue and you simply must be allowed to sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+. This is up to you. I’ll let you weigh up the risks and the potential benefits and so on. Good luck.
OK but let’s say you’ve signed up to LEP Premium and you’ve successfully added the episodes to your podcast app of choice. The premium episodes are now in your list, along with the other episodes. It might not be obvious at first, but they are there, just waiting to be discovered and listened to.
How can you find them? Well, you’ll need to scroll through the list a bit. Just scroll down through the episode list and BINGO you’ll see them. All premium episodes start with P and a number. P42, P41 etc. Some episodes have the word [Premium] at the start.
Premium episodes P01-P36 were all added in July 2022 and they can be found between free episodes 776 and 777. Scroll down to episode 777 and look under it – see! Loads of premium episodes are there! (if you’ve signed up to the premium subscfiption and added the episodes to your app as I explained before)
ALL THIS STUFF ABOUT PODCAST APPS AND THE PREMIUM EPISODES IS GOING TO STOP IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES I PROMISE!! TRY NOT TO GET IMPATIENT OK??
What about the PDFs for those premium episodes?
The links for the PDFs can be found in the show notes for each premium Episode.
Anyway, what are “show notes” for podcast episodes?
In podcast apps, all podcast episodes have some text notes. This is where podcasters can add maybe a summary of the episode or some links to other things online.
See if you can find the show notes or episode notes for each episode. Go on, have a look right now?
Some of you are saying “Come oooon Luke I know where the show notes are” OK then, find them right now and look at them and then say to yourself “Yes, I know where the show notes are, thank you Luke”
On Apple Podcasts, while you have an episode selected (you’ll see the LEP logo, the name of the episode and a play button) just drag the screen up and the notes will be revealed below. Again, it’s like magic or a miracle or something. An actual miracle. Thanks Jesus!
(one of my new year’s resolutions is to have more FUN in my episodes again, because life is too short)
This is where you will find the links to download the PDF for the episode.
Tap one of the links, open the PDF and read it while you listen or send it to your computer where you can study it more carefully, annotate it with a pdf reader or even print it on paper in the old fashioned way. Then use a pencil to do the tasks.
If you’re not signed up to LEP premium: Hello! That’s fine!
You don’t have to sign up to the premium service if you don’t want to, can’t afford to or aren’t allowed to due to confusing global events and the actions of powerful men who sit at tables deciding your future.
You are still a LEPSTER and you can still enjoy all the free episodes and all the rest of it, until of course the thought police completely turn off your access to the internet. Which country are you talking about Luke? Well, whichever country is doing it.
There are show notes for all the free episodes too. (For many of you I’m teaching grandma how to suck eggs)
If you’re listening in a podcast app. Have a look – you’ll always find a link to the “episode page”. That’s where you can read any vocab notes, find the associated youTube video (if there is one) and other information that I mention in the episode.
YouTube Comments / Keeping My Episodes Varied / I’m the boss round here (yes, I am a powerful man who sits at a table and decides YOUR future)
Now we’re talking about YouTube which is another platform where I publish my episodes – either in video format (where you can see me talking, if that’s your cup of tea) or just listen to episodes without video and maybe switch on the automatic subtitles (don’t forget to smash that like button and click the bell icon and all that jazz).
One thing about being on YouTube is that there are more comments.
This is because it is much easier to comment on YouTube than it is if you are in audioland (listening on a podcast app on your phone, probably).
On YouTube the comment section is right there, and it is an integral part of the YouTube experience.
So, people comment a lot more, which is great. It is lovely to get your feedback and it’s encouraging when people respond to what you’re doing.
Sometimes it is amazing, especially if people write genuinely positive and appreciative things.
It’s mostly great, but it’s sometimes a bit irritating.
As you know, if you are a human being, the negative things tend to stick with us a bit more than the positive things.
By and large, my audience (like any audience of learners of English it seems) is incredibly thankful and appreciative, which is lovely. But naturally there are some people who are not so thoughtful and who write comments which probably tell us more about them than they do about the content that they’re commenting on.
Now, while I do believe it is really important to take criticisms on board, to consider them and to learn from them, some comments are just a bit annoying!
Well, obviously just abusive or directly rude comments are just the kind of “bird shit on the window of life” but there are some comments which are not exactly abuse, but which just show a certain lack of consideration for the content creator. I’m not going to list all the things that irritate me, because what’s the point, but one thing I have noticed is when I upload an episode, let’s say it’s a story episode, and the comment is “I miss your rambling episodes” or “Please make content about phrasal verbs” or “Please make short videos like “Don’t say please” or “stop saying thank you”.
Or I upload a rambling episode and someone comments “Make more stories, we want stories” or I do an Amber & Paul episode and the comment is “We want a Rick Thompson Report!” You get the idea.
I do a variety of episodes, and I’ve always tried to keep the episodes varied for the whole time I’ve been doing this podcast, for better or worse. This is because:
You can’t please all the people all the time (You might think that one type of episode is the best, but plenty of others will think that another type of episode is the best – in the end, I decide)
Keeping things varied keeps me motivated
It’s important for you to hear a variety of things – not just stories, not just teaching phrasal verbs etc, but also conversations, monologues, some easier episodes, some which are more difficult etc
I don’t think anyone thinks about this more than I do. I put my experience, my professional knowledge and also my heart and soul into making these episodes. They’re not always exactly perfect, but there is no such thing as “perfect” and it’s a fruitless mission to try and chase it.
Ah shit I feel like I’m being too negative now, and also overthinking everything. Ah well.
Is my show blocked in China?
Chinese LEPsters – how do you listen to my podcast? Do you use a VPN? Is my podcast available in Apple Podcasts? Is it available on any other apps? Let me know :)
Happy New Year! LET’S HAVE FUN IN ENGLISH IN 2023! GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!
Leave a comment to let me know you’re not a skeleton 👇
The third (and final) adventure in this series of mini-mysteries on LEP. Can I improve my detective skills to work out the disappearance of a priceless painting and a series of gruesome murders? Story by Peter Carlson and available on textadventures.co.uk
Celebrating episode 800 by answering a massive list of questions from listeners. This episode covers things like how to improve your speaking when you live in a non-English speaking country, the headphones and microphone I use, my current favourite episode, the afterlife and spirit world, my favourite brands of tea, my favourite video games, being a father and the recent Star Wars series Andor and plenty plenty more. Video version available.
I recorded parts 1 & 2 on Thursday 8 December. Since then England got knocked out of the World Cup by France (ouch!) and also I got ill with a horrible case of flu which put me in bed for 4 days. I’m still ill, but definitely starting to feel better. I’m going to record the rest of these episodes when I am well again, but time is running out fast before Christmas arrives. I am not sure I will have time to do a World Cup episode, but who cares now that England are out? 😂 (I’m joking – I’d love to talk about the football, but I don’t know if there will be time. We’ll see.) Anyway, enjoy the part 2 of this episode 800 mega-ramble! 🎆🎆🎆
QUESTIONS (Listen or watch the video to hear/see me correcting some errors)
I kicked off listening to your podcact because of your Mom. In one of your first episodes, you were talking about the Beatles. I so much liked her wise answers to your questions, her voice, accent, and most of all her straightforward way of speaking . She’s great!
My question Mr Thomson.
What are High Hopes in your mind ? I’m now referring to Pink Floyd’s song.
Hi Luke ️I have a suggestion for creating a discord server in order to connect LEPsters around the world therefore they would be able to talk and have a chat with each other, what’s your take on this Luke? (anyway you can easily notify LEPsters through discord about contents too and it’s utterly free, that’s awesome isn’t it?) and thanks a lot for your awesome contents, have a blessed day
Hello Luke . Can you make a video about how to be confident on camera? Maybe you could interview some of your YouTuber friends or maybe Paul and Amber , they haven’t been on the podcast for a while have they ?
Hi Luke～How do we improve our speaking skills if we are not living abroad～I mean English language speaking country～ Do you have any practical suggestions? I feel like my listening is much better than speaking~Your podcast is awesome ~thanks~
4 ways of speaking to yourself
Repeat after me, shadowing
Just chatting to yourself “I’m going to do this, and that’s a bottle of shampoo with soap all over it’ etc
I have a suggestion for you to make your podcast greater. You should make more episodes about vocabulary, like topic vocabulary, everyday expressions and some difficult grammatical structures, for example:
I ate anything but an apple
which means I only ate an apple.
I ate nothing but an apple
[Luke: actually this isn’t correct – listen to the episode to hear my comments]
Teacher luke, good morning, greetings from a small country in the horn of Africa called SOMALIA. my question is, can you connect me to an online English Teacher or School where I can study English. Thank you so much.
Hello, Luke! I’m a new listener of your podcast, but I already like it a LOT! I love your sense of humor! Have you seen the movie Hot Fuzz? What do you think about it? Maybe you can recommend some interesting movies with great British humor? Good luck to you and thank you very much for your excellent job!
Hello, Luke! Could detective stories and poetry be more frequent or somehow regular in your podcast? Do you think they are like boosters for vocabulary, or they can make listeners feel a little bit passive? Do you have a special formulae for the balance between different types of lessons?
Celebrating episode 800 and responding to lots of questions sent in on social media. Expect questions about my ill-fated music career, grammar, favourite authors, my daughter, life as an English teaching podcaster and plenty more. Video version available.
Here we are. It’s episode 800. It’s a big occasion but the emphasis is on chill in this episode. We’re just going to chill together and celebrate episode 800. So let’s sit back, relax and enjoy podcasting together.
This episode might take absolutely ages – I don’t know how long this is going to be, but we’re not going to worry about that, or anything else in this episode. No concerns, no worries.
For this one I thought I would answer some questions from listeners on social media, YouTube and my website. I recently asked for questions and I got loads. Billions. I got billions of questions.
I’m going to try and answer them almost all of them in this episode.
That might be seriously over ambitious and this could end up being the longest episode ever, we’ll see. If I have to divide it into parts, so be it. We’ve had episode 300 part 1 and 2, as well as several episode 666s, we can have episode 800 in a few parts. But in fact that does prove that I’ve already done more than 800 episodes. In fact I reckon it’s over 1000 if you include premium ones, bonus ones, app-only ones, phrasal verb ones.
In any case, I’m going to go through the questions and try to answer as many as possible. This is bound to take bloody ages. I mean, hours.
I’ve chosen nearly all the questions which came to me, except for world cup ones because I’ll talk about that in another episode.
They’re presented here in no particular order, from various social media platforms.
And I’m going to correct errors if and when I find them.
So this will be a sort of error correction episode too, I expect.
We will start in a minute, but first I just want to take this moment to celebrate getting to 800 episodes!
What does this really mean to me?
A long term professional project which has been a success and continues to be. No mean feat!
It’s a nice big number
800 is a large amount of anything – name a thing and imagine 800 of it. It’s always a lot!
Satisfying to reach a milestone, but I have my sights on 1000 now.
No need to dwell on it too long…
Thank you for continuing to listen to this podcast, allowing me to keep doing this all these years.
Recently the podcast hit 100,000,000 downloads since it started.
I love doing this podcast and I hope you love listening to it too.
I love the fact that I can do this – spend most of my working time on making content for learners of English, doing it my own way, being my own boss. It’s all thanks to the podcast, which means it’s all thanks to you, and the way it works is that those people who can afford it can become premium subscribers, which keeps the show completely free for those people who can’t afford it, and I get to keep making the episodes.
Let’s get on with the listener questions.
By the way, I’ve removed all World Cup questions because I think I’m going to talk about that in a separate episode.
Hi Luke, thanks for this mini episode :) Congratulations on the 800 episodes. My question is if you are considering doing more rambling episodes because they are fun and I think it is an excellent way to learn how to speak naturally and talk about daily life. Looking forward to seeing more rambling episodes.
800 is a long way, congratulations Tr Luke. I would like to suggest that it would be great if you could upload one story telling episode per week (is it too much?) because as a lazy learner, your story telling can carry me to the end of the episode.
Hey Luuuke! I really like what you do and I’m a fan of your sense humor. I was wondering as a kid at school were you this type of guy who bravely says a joke loudly so that the whole class hears and giggles afterwards?
And do you feel that via humor you make the atmosphere (any place: job, school, family pre Christmas hassle, etc.) more amicable and lighthearted?
Hey Luke, what’s cracking!?Thanks for your fantastic podcast, IMHO for the time being it’s one of the most fascinating podcasts in terms of immersing in British English/humor (or at least I would like to think like that) that I’ve come across. My question is, do you consider moving to somewhere from Paris in particular and from France in general? Cheers.
In your opinion, approximately how many words do you need to have in your vocabulary to be able to speak like you do in your ramble episodes? and is there an efficient method for determining the amount of vocabulary for a non-native speaker?
How does it work? Read the text on the website.
Native speakers know 20,000 – 30,000 words.
I got about 25,000.
Learners of English who get 10,000 can be near-native.
Hello Luke. I really enjoyed your podcasts about comedy TV series, like Alan Partridge. However, I asked you (very politely) quite a long time ago about the possibility of doing an episode (likely more then one) about Peep show. I believe that we could all learn from Peep show loads of useful British expressions/phrases which never occur in textbooks for students. Is there any chance that some comedy episodes are in the pipeline? Respect and best wishes from Poland 🇵🇱️
Hi, Luke! I’m really into your podcasts and watch every single episode no matter what length it is. My favorite videos are about detective and horror quizzes/stories. Are you planning to make a podcast on this topic? If so, I’m looking forward to seeing new episodes soon.
Hi Luke, how is it going? First of all, thank you for teaching us. My question is : is it possible to speak like you, if I only listen to your podcast, I mean your intonation and your pronunciation. You speak very clearly. I like your speech that is why I usually listen to your podcast
My name is Berdiyev Azamat from Khiva in Uzbekistan