Category Archives: Video

884. British Music: Madness (with James)

A conversation with my brother about one of the most successful British bands of all time – Madness. We talk about the story of the band, our early memories of their music, the songs, the members, their lyrics, their popularity and why we’ve always been big fans!

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Check out this playlist of our favourite Madness music videos 👇

Watch “Take It Or Leave It” – The Madness film 👇

James wearing his old Madness t-shirt (probably in about 1984) 👇

Luke & James 👇

Ambient Anthology (by James)

876. Thoughts & comments on recent episodes / A Spring Equinox Ramble 2024

Listen to me rambling about Daylight Saving Time, weird AI generated images for Luke’s English Podcast, and lots of comments and responses to recent episodes including the Birthday Party story 🎂 , the MBTI Personality Test 🙇 and the Walk & Talk in Paris 📹🚶.

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🔖 The Advanced English Summit – book your place for Luke’s Zoom talk (free) 👇

https://english-at-home.com/summit/


📄 Get the PDF 👇

Those Strange AI-generated Images 👇

874. Walk & Talk: PARIS

Here is an episode in which I walk through the streets of Paris, rambling about a particular subject. This time the subject is Paris itself. This summer Paris is hosting the Olympic Games. The city will be filled with visitors. I am very curious to see how the city will handle this moment. Will it be a huge success? What will visitors think of the city? Will anyone suffer from the mysterious “Paris Syndrome”? Join me on my walk, follow my words, look out for vocab and consider using my questions for your own speaking practice.

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Discussion Questions

Feel free to use these questions for your own speaking practice.

  1. Have you ever been to Paris? When did you come here? What did you do and see? What did you think of the place?
  2. If you have never been to Paris, would you like to? Why?
  3. What associations do you have with Paris? What do you imagine, when you think of this city?
  4. Have you ever seen any films or TV series set in Paris? What image of the city do they present?
  5. Have you ever been to London? Did it match your expectations?
  6. Think of a city that you know well. Try to talk about it.
    What is it famous for?
    What can you see and do there?
    Does your city have a reputation?
    Does the reality match the reputation?
  7. Has your city ever hosted the Olympic Games? What did residents think about it before, during and after the games took place?

Vocabulary

There will be a premium episode dealing with vocabulary, coming soon. https://www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

Ending ramble

OK, this is not actually the end of the episode, as you can probably see from the running time. There’s a lot more left in this episode.

I am now back in my podcastle, where I am much more comfortable recording and being on video.

Having reviewed the footage which you have just heard and seen I wanted to just reflect on it and give my thoughts on this experimental episode and how I might do more of these Walk & Talk episodes, and whether I will do more of them at all.

So here are my thoughts on this.

  • The footage looks fantastic. Good colours. Very clear. Smooth image stabilisation.
  • I didn’t show many landmarks in the video but I wanted to keep it natural and just show the places where I would typically go on my way home or on a trip into town to get lunch. You did see the Eiffel Tower (very briefly at the start), Les Invalides, Grand Palais, Assemble Nationale, Concorde, Louvre, La Seine, Les Tuileries, Place Vendome – so actually quite a lot of landmarks I suppose!
  • I’m slightly concerned that referring to all these visual things will make this less satisfying to listen to as an audio only episode, but I really hope not. It should be an immersive audio experience too.
  • The audio sounds good enough I think. It’s not as loud and rich as normal but that’s to be expected. It’s hard to get the mic in the right position and there’s lots of background noise, but it’s good enough.
  • I’m not overly happy about the way I look! You can see up my nose and there are not very flattering angles, but I should not be vain about this and you probably don’t care about it as much as me.
  • I was so self conscious about walking along with the cam in my face it makes me seriously doubt if I can do that regularly. It wasn’t as pleasant as I’d hoped. I felt very self-conscious and awkward and that prevented me from getting into my normal flow of speaking.
  • Putting the cam on my shirt is great – I can be completely hands free and continue to record, but the battery runs out quite fast. Also, you can’t see my face, which is reasonably important.
  • My original plan was to have a load of questions that I answer on a topic then see what topic vocab comes up in those questions and answers. You heard me mention that I’d used ChatGPT to help me write the questions quickly. In this episode about Paris I didn’t really answer many questions from my list. But you can still find some questions about cities on the episode page. Use them to practise talking about a city you know well.
  • I’ll have to review all those ChatGPT questions on other topics because the ones it came up with about Paris were actually very dry and not that fruitful. I didn’t fully answer the questions it gave me about Paris, but it’s ok. I think I still discussed the city enough.
  • It was a bit difficult to prioritise the speaking and expressing myself because I was multi tasking. Operating the camera, moving around and feeling self conscious. When I’m in the pod room I can focus more on what I’m saying.
  • I’ll try this again, and next time will focus on a specific topic with questions and vocab as I promised. Maybe I can sum up the vocab in a premium ep each time.
  • What do you think?
    I’m particularly interested in hearing from audio LEPsters.
    Audio listeners – how was it? Loud enough? Clear enough? Was there a lot of atmospheric noise? Did that make it hard to hear, or did it add to the atmosphere of the episode?

Song: “The Look You Give That Guy” by Eels

864. A Winter Ramble ❄️ Learn English with LEP

Join me as I talk without a script about lovely cold weather ❄️ being too lazy to wash my cups 🍵 feeling exhausted because my son won’t sleep 👶😮‍💨 New Year’s Eve celebrations 🛋 performing stand up comedy to 4200 people 🎤 a recommended YouTube channel about adventurous missions in the UK countryside 🥾 and recent horror films I’ve seen 🙀.

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GeoWizard’s Mission Across Wales #1 👇

855. Discussing Films with Cara Leopold

Talking to Cara about films, movies, her movie club for English learners and a discussion about films and what they mean.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello!

In this episode you will be able to listen to a conversation with Cara Leopold all about films. 

If you are a long-term listener to this podcast, then you will know Cara. She’s been on this show a few times before.  

Just in case you need a reminder, Cara is an English teacher from the UK, currently living in France, and she loves films and uses them to help people learn English. In fact she  is the creator of the Leo Listening Movie Club, where she helps advanced, film-loving English learners understand and discuss iconic movies together in order to master conversational English.

Cara Loves films.
I love films too, who doesn’t?
We all love films, don’t we? 
And it’s very common to talk about films we’ve seen.

Are you able to do that in English?

I want you to think about what is involved in having a conversation about films in English.

When we talk about films, we do a number of things, including:

  • Summarising the plot or story of the film
  • Describing the main characters 
  • Talking about actors and their performances, 
  • Talking about directors and they way films are directed, edited, locations, effects and music.
  • Giving our opinions about films, including the things we like and don’t like
  • Discussing the meaning of films, and any social, historical or personal issues which are connected to them.

How do we do those things in English? Are you familiar with the language of cinema and the language of talking about films?

What I want to do with this episode is let you listen to a natural conversation (one that isn’t scripted in advance) about films in order to let you hear all those things being done.

So that’s what this is! 

You can use this episode in several ways. 

1) Just listen for enjoyment, listen to what we have to say about various different films, and just try to follow the conversation, and practice your general listening skills in the process. 

2) Focus on noticing the specific vocabulary or grammar that we use to do all the things I mentioned before. Listen out for the ways we describe, summarise, give opinions and generally share our thoughts about films.

We mention lots of different films in this conversation and one thing which I’m thinking about is that those films might have different titles in your language. I hope you are able to identify the films. 

You can see a list of the names of the films we mention on the page for this episode on my website. If you want to check out those movie titles, and perhaps google them to find out what they are called in your language, just go to the episode page on my website and you’ll see all the titles listed there, plus various other links to things which we mention or which you might find useful.

Right then. It’s now time to listen to my conversation with Cara. 

I will talk to you again briefly at the end of this but now, let’s get started.


Ending Transcript

Thanks again to Cara.

You can check out her work. 

On her website you can see details of the different courses and resources I mentioned before, which involve improving your English with films.

www.Leo-listening.com 

Also check out her YouTube channel where she has been posting videos lately. Some of the videos there include things like:

  • The best movies for English learners
  • The 5 best podcasts for movie loving English learners
  • Should you watch movies in English with or without subtitles?
  • How to understand movies in English without subtitles
  • And more

Also you will find a link to Cara’s LinkedIn page where she has been writing posts about various things.

Cara Links

As well as that, on the page for this episode on my website you’ll also find 

  • Links to those previous episodes of this podcast about using films and TV series to improve your English. That’s episodes 523 and 660 

Also! Links to the episodes about Groundhog Day that we mentioned.

Episode 129 (parts 1 & 2) of Daniel Goodson’s podcast “My Fluent Podcast” in which Daniel and Cara discuss Groundhog Day

And a list of all the names of the films Cara and I mentioned in this conversation, in case you wanted to google them to find out what they are called in your language.

Here are a few questions which you could answer in the comment section if you like:

  • Have you seen any good films recently? 
  • Do you prefer films or TV series? Why?
  • What films have helped you learn English? How did they help you? 

Films we mentioned in this conversation

  • Pétaouchnok  (The French film starring Philippe Rebbot, who Cara saw at a cafe recently)
  • Films which Cara has watched in her film club recently
  • Get Out
  • Groundhog Day

    Jane Austen adaptations
  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Pride and Prejudice

    Richard Curtis films
  • Love Actually
  • Four Weddings & A Funeral
  • Notting Hill
  • About Time
  • Yesterday 

    Danny Boyle films
  • 28 Days Later
  • 28 Weeks Later

    Horror films 
  • Paranormal Activity
  • Insidious
  • John Carpenter films
  • Halloween
  • The Thing

    Paul Verhoven films
  • Robocop
  • Total Recall

    David Fincher films
  • Se7en
  • Fight Club

    One of my all-time favourite films
  • Taxi Driver

    More recent films
  • The Barbie Movie
  • Killers of the Flower Moon

854. The Invitation (Learn English with a Short Story)

🎧 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?

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Story Script

The Invitation

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.

“Where have you been?” 

She asked.

“I was at aunt Debra’s. I told you.”

I replied.

“Then why did she call saying you never arrived?”

To this day, I still have no idea who I visited.

Read the original version on Quora.com

830. English With Cooke / A Chat with Instagram English Teacher Andy Cooke

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.

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👆The audio version has 30+ minutes of extra content

Links

👉 🎧 Listen to Luke’s Podcast using a podcast app on your phone (audio episodes have more content) https://plinkhq.com/i/312059190?to=page

👉 Andy’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/englishwithcooke/

👉 Andy’s Website https://ewcooke.com/

823. ChatGPT & Learning English PART 3

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.

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DOWNLOAD THE PDF TRANSCRIPT FOR 823. ChatGPT & Learning English PART 3

Episode Transcript

Hello listeners,

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?

Etymology

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 👇

All you need to know about ChatGPT & Why its a threat to Google | by Deladem Kumordzie | Medium

It’s good at showing where the pauses should be, 

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

Also, this:

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?

Other issues

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. 

🙏

809. Toilets, Titanic & TikTok with AMBER & PAUL

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.

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The audio version ☝️ has about 15 minutes of extra rambling by Luke at the end, not included in the video version 👇

Introduction Transcript

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! 

Call me a photoshop master

What do you think listeners? Leave your comments below 👇

808. James Harris returns to talk about his book 📖🗣

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.

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👉 Get James’ book ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ https://www.amazon.co.uk/Midlands-James-Harris/dp/B0B38CX11P

👉 Sign up to James’ email newsletter “Stiff Upper Quip” for regular short articles in English & more https://stiffupperquip.substack.com/

👇 Listen to James’ first episode on LEP


Extracts from “Midlands” by James Harris 📖

From Chapter 2

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.

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