Category Archives: Video

746. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent

Understand English as it is spoken by native speakers. Let’s listen to Karl Pilkington rambling about life, the universe & everything, and see what we can understand and learn. Karl is from Manchester, so we’ll be looking at some features of his accent, picking up plenty of vocabulary and having a bit of a laugh along the way.

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Full Episode Transcript

Hello LEPsters,

Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing today? 

In this episode we’re going to do some intensive listening and use it as a chance to learn some vocabulary and pronunciation.

This episode should be a bit of a laugh as we’re going to take a deep dive into the world of Karl Pilkington and listen to his thoughts on some big issues like health, food, animals, holidays and just existence itself.

We’ll be looking at the different features of his Manchester accent, and there will be lots of vocabulary to pick up too as we are covering a range of different topics. You can also consider this as a little intensive listening test, as I will be setting questions that you have to find answers to, then going through each clip in detail and breaking it all down for language.

We last heard about Karl Pilkington on my podcast in episode 656 in which we listened to a couple of his Monkey News stories about a chimp that works on a building site and another chimp that pilots a space rocket. 

Do you remember that? If you don’t, then get the LEP app and listen to episode 656. It was a very popular episode and it should make you laugh out loud on a bus maybe. 

That was pretty funny stuff, and Karl is very funny even though he’s not actually a comedian.

Who is Karl Pilkington?

To be honest, Karl Pilkington was most well-known about 10 years ago
and these days he’s not in the public eye as much as he used to be,
but he’s still a fairly well-known person in the UK, especially for Ricky Gervais fans.

Karl is just an ordinary bloke from Manchester who met comedians Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant when he worked for them as a radio producer in London. 

Later, Ricky invited Karl to be on his podcast in order to broadcast his weird ideas and inane ramblings to the whole world, and the rest is history. 

The Ricky Gervais Podcast became a world record-breaker with over 300,000,000 downloads.

In episodes, Ricky, Steve & Karl would talk about big topics like religion, evolution, philosophy, nature, birth and death and Karl would often say some bizarre and hilarious things, apparently without intending to be funny.

Ricky was always slightly obsessed with Karl, and he always described him as “an idiot with a perfectly round head like an orange”. 

After being on Ricky’s podcast, Karl went on to become a fairly well-known figure in the UK, doing more podcasts with Ricky, then TV shows, books and documentaries like “An Idiot Abroad”.

Karl is known for his funny and slightly odd musings and observations about life. 

He comes from a working class background in the Manchester area, and his accent has many of the features that you would expect from that. 

Accent / Pronunciation

We will be going into the specific features of his accent in more detail as we go and this kind of follows on from episode 682 which was all about common features of pronunciation in England which are different to RP.

Which accent should you have?

So this episode is about one of the UK’s regional accents.

You might be thinking – Luke, by doing this episode are you saying that we should all learn to speak like Karl?

I’m not saying that. You can choose your accent, and many learners choose a neutral accent to learn, but it’s not all about learning an accent, it’s also about learning to understand different accents, and learning about the varieties of English that are out there.

So, you might not want to speak like Karl, but I certainly want you to understand Karl and the many millions of other people who speak English in a non-standard way.

So this episode is all about understanding an accent, rather than copying it. But of course you can copy Karl’s Mancunian accent if you like.

Vocabulary

There will also be plenty of vocabulary coming up too as we pick apart the things that Karl says and the way he says them.

You’ll find it listed on the screen on the video version and also presented in text form on the page for this episode on my website.

Video

We’re going to be using a series available on youtube in which Karl ponders certain big questions in just 3 minutes of video, originally broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK as part of their “3 Minute Wonders” series. 

These are short videos in which Karl talks about his fridge, health, food, animals and holidays, covering each topic with his usual ramblings, all delivered in that Manchester accent, know what I mean?

I have about 6 recordings, which are about 3 minutes each (this could become two episodes).

Before I play the recording I’ll give you a little bit of context and I’ll set some questions. 

Then you listen and try to get the answers. 

Then I’ll break it down – listening to each bit again, with some explanations if necessary.

We’ll also pay attention to pronunciation – specifically his Mancunian accent. I’m going to break that down too, exploring the main features of that particular accent.

And I’ll sum up some of the vocab from each clip before moving on to the next one.


#1 Karl on Life

Karl goes around a museum looking at meteorites, dinosaur skeletons and endangered animals (stuffed ones or models) and muses about life in general medical science.

  1. What does Karl wonder about the big bang?
  2. What makes the meteorite room a bit disappointing?
  3. What’s Karl’s main criticism of humanity today?
  4. What does Karl think would happen if a dinosaur got loose and started to “run riot”?
  5. What’s Karl’s main point?

Vocabulary

  • The big bang
  • Did it only seem big because there was no other noise to drown it out at the time?
  • Meteorites (on earth)
  • Meteors (flying in earth’s atmosphere)
  • Asteroids (flying in space)
  • The edge is taken off it because that isn’t the only one.
  • I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
  • Enough’s enough. If your body is that done in, call it a day.
  • The more we know, the more we interfere.
  • Don’t interfere with nature and that.
  • Even if it was going round running riot they’d go “We don’t want it to go extinct
  • The panda is dying out.

Notes on Karl’s accent

Here’s a summary of the main points regarding Karl’s Manchester accent. 

Many of these features are common in people from the Manchester area, although not all people from Manchester will speak like this, and there are different degrees of it. 

This is certainly Karl’s Manchester accent in any case. 

A lot of what I’m about to say will include things brought up in the episode I did about Key Features of English accents, episode 682.

PRONUNCIATION #1

H dropping

  • Look, how many do you need?
  • I’m not surprised they went extinct, they’re all in here.
  • She’d had a new lung, a new heart
  • He puts his hand in and goes “Yep, it’s broke”
  • They weren’t doing anything. They weren’t jumping through hoops. (talking about animals in a zoo)
  • I don’t know if it’s cruel or not, to have them in there.
  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.

Glottal stops (/t/ sounds get replaced by /ʔ/ )

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • Let me see them again when they’re better.

Go back to my episode called 682. Features of English Accents, Explained to find out more about glottal stops.


#2 Karl on Health

Karl recounts a conversation he had with a woman about going to the gym.

  1. Does Karl go to the gym?
  2. What does he think of the idea of breathing classes?
  3. What does he think of drinking 7 pints of water a day?
  4. What’s Karl’s argument for not going to the gym? Heart beats, tortoise

Vocabulary

  • I know what’s probably putting you off – the fact that it’s hard work.
  • Breathing classes – I’m 32 I think I’ve got the hang of it
  • My Dad’s like 60-odd. I’ve never seen him drink a pint of water, yet they’re telling us we should have, like, 7 pints a day or something, and then they wonder why there’s a water drought on.
  • They keep coming up with daft ways of keeping fit.
  • Chucking paint at each other. 

PRONUNCIATION #2

/æ/ not /ɑː/ (the “bath/trap split”, again)

Short A sound /æ/ in bath, podcast 

(gas and glass have the same vowel sound in Karl’s Manchester accent).

This is normal across all northern accents, and many accents in the midlands. I would use /ɑː/ because although I lived in the midlands for many years (half my childhood), my accent is mostly from the south because I’ve lived there more and my parents don’t have strong regional accents.

Come to my class. We do breathing classes.

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

The U sound in but, enough and much.

I pronounce it /ʌ/ but Karl pronounces it more like /ʊ/

Do you go to the gym much? 


#3 Karl on Food

Karl talks about a new trend – eating things which shouldn’t be eaten. 

Coming from England, Karl thinks it’s weird to eat certain things that might be eaten in other cultures, like live octopus, insects, frogs, snails, probably raw meat, raw fish and sushi.

  1. What is the danger of eating a live octopus?
  2. What’s Karl’s issue with kids and food today?
  3. What does Karl think about eating dog?

Vocabulary

  • They choke you. Why would you want to eat that?
  • If we’re eating octopuses, why are dogs getting away with it?

END OF PART 1 – TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 2

739. The Escaped Man by CT Platt (Learn English with Short Stories)

Reading a short story presented on Commaful.com. The Escaped Man is a mystery full of tension and intrigue. Listen closely as I break it all down and explain the vocabulary fully. YouTube video version also available.

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Introduction Transcript & Links

Hello listeners and video viewers,

It’s time to do another story on the podcast. This time I’m going to be reading a story called The Escaped Man which was written by CT Platt and is presented on the Commaful website.

Commaful.com is a website where you can find short stories, fan fiction and other reading texts and it’s all presented in quite a nice and easy-to-read format.

I’m going to read the story to you once and all you have to do is follow it, and hopefully enjoy it. I have a couple of questions for you to help you stay focused on your listening.

Then I’ll read through the story again and break it down line by line, explaining, pointing out and teaching you bits of vocabulary and grammar as I go.

Learning English through stories is a great idea and tends to work because it places language in a vivid context and is generally quite entertaining and fun.

So listen to the story and then let me break all the language down for you bit by bit.

Just before I read the story, here are a couple of questions for you.

Where does the story take place? How do you know?
Is this American English or British English? How do you know?
What is going to happen next?

OK, let’s start.

commaful.com/play/lisa/the-escaped-man/

Full Script of the Story

www.wattpad.com/543021670-suspense-stories-the-escaped-man-c-t-platt-2017

737. A Summer Ramble 2 (Late August 2021)

I’m back in the podcast-zone after my holiday so I thought I would do another rambling episode before getting down to work on other content to be released soon. Video version also available.

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Transcript / Notes for this episode

Hello and welcome back to the podcast! 

This is episode 735 and it is a rambling episode, which means it’s just me talking to you about various things – including: whatever comes into my head while I’m recording, but specifically this time I’m aiming to talk about 

  • Being back from holiday and getting back into the podcast zone
  • Comments about my audio listeners and my video viewers on YouTube
  • News about moving flat and moving to my new pod room (You can see that the move hasn’t started yet and so the podcast has not been disrupted yet)
  • Some common questions from the YouTube comment section (new listeners)
  • Charlie Watts – the drummer from the Rolling Stones who passed away yesterday
  • A couple of comments from the comment section including one very motivational email I got from a long-term listener
  • Whatever else occurs to me as we record this!

As well as being available as a normal episode of the audio podcast, this is also available on YouTube with some text on the screen – the notes and scripts that I’m reading from, so you can read along with me and spot certain phrases and spelling and so on. 

By the way – you can always pause this and check the screen if you feel you didn’t understand something or you found a new word or phrase. 

I’m reading from a script / notes

In this episode I’m reading from a script which I wrote last night. I don’t normally read from a pre-written script when I do these rambles, but this time is different.

I wrote most of this script last night, when it wasn’t really the right time to do a podcast recording, but I still consider this to be a rambling episode because I just rambled with my fingers last night and now I’m just reading out the text-ramble that I created, so it still counts as rambling as far as I’m concerned, and I of course I can deviate from the script/notes whenever I want.

So stick with me and I hope you enjoy listening to my words as they flow out like endless rain into a paper cup – a cup which you can take and drink from, metaphorically of course. 

Drink my English – that’s what I’m saying. I hope you know what I mean!

In the podcast zone (this is what I wrote last night)

I’m sitting here in front of the computer. My wife is lying across the sofa watching a French TV show on her phone and she’s under a nice sheepskin blanket that we have so she is feeling very cosy. I’ve just made her a cup of mint tea and I’ve tucked her feet into a blanket because I’m such a great guy and a really wonderful husband. 

The child is in bed asleep, and despite the madness that is going in on the world outside, this is a little moment of peace and quiet. 

Now I’m sitting with my computer on my lap, but I’m pretty much in the podcast zone right now – meaning, that I’m thinking of ideas for the podcast, considering what I’ve been doing and what I should do next. I know I should be able to record tomorrow as the little one is going to her French grandparents for a few days and my wife has work to do, so tomorrow is podcast day.

But I’m in the podcast zone now because I’m thinking about podcast ideas and things to record tomorrow. I’m just writing down my thoughts on my computer as they come into my head. I’m trying to write down every thing I’m thinking in order to make sure this is actually a rambling episode. I’m rambling everything down in text form here and I’m trying to make it sound like I am actually speaking normally and not reading from a text. 

What I’ll have to do tomorrow is record this but make it sound like I’m just saying it all off the top of my head. 

Also I might just go off on a tangent at any point and deviate from the script, if something occurs to me. 

In fact, what I’m going to do is, the word-for-word script for this is going to stop soon and I’m going to just write down some basic notes and then expand on them as I talk into the microphone tomorrow (which is actually today – so, tomorrow is now, so, are we in the past, the present or the future? I think I might have just invented time travel. These words are from yesterday, but I’m reading them now and you’re going to listen to them in the future – let’s just say that in podcastland, time is a sort of flexible thing a bit like a jelly or something. 

Yep, in LEPland, time is jelly – which might explain why my episodes are quite long sometimes.

In any case, I would like to record this episode tomorrow as a kind of welcome back before embarking on things like premium content and other episodes I’ve been planning.

I do have other episodes I’d like to do and tbh while I was away on holiday over the last 3 weeks or so I was itching to get back to podcasting. 

I had lots of ideas popping into my head which I couldn’t quite hold onto and as I didn’t get the chance to write them down, they’ve all disappeared into the ether – little ideas, comments, stories that occurred to me at various moments, like when I’m in the shower but which I almost instantly forgot – so I was quite keen to do some recording again after being away just to satisfy the compulsive podcasting side of me. 

The holiday was fantastic and one of the best ones we have had for ages. I’ll tell you about it a bit later in this episode.

Those other episodes I could be doing right now:

P31 parts 4,5,6 

Learn English from my mum as we look at phrases which came up in our conversation in episode 717 – learn them properly with loads of examples and the chance to do plenty of listen and repeat pronunciation work with me so you don’t just learn new language, but learn how to produce it too.

War of the Worlds part 4 (conclusion?)

88 English expressions that will confuse everyone! (remember that? I never finished it)

More stories like The Mountain

Reading from more texts or books

An episode with The Thompsons which I recorded when I was in England

Some invitations to other podcasters/English teachers who have interviewed me recently

Top 10 Jokes from the Edinburgh Fringe 2021

And I have a big list of other ideas which I am slowly working my way through.

But I think before I do those ones and perhaps some others, I’d like to just do this rambling episode with you. 

These rambling episodes are where I just talk to you directly and move from topic to topic almost making it all up as I go along.

So just keep up with me, follow along and let the words flow through you like the force in Star Wars. 

Feel the English, let it flow through you. 

Be the English. 

Imagine blue lazers and Star Wars / The Matrix type stuff. 

Be one with the living English and listen with me as I chat to you about various things.

Audio listeners / Video Viewers (LEP is an audio podcast, with some videos on YouTube)

Most people listening to this – the vast majority listening to my words right now are listening to my podcast on their phone probably with headphones on, using a podcasting app of some sort, probably the native Apple Podcasts app on the iPhone or something like Spotify or another podcasting app, or perhaps you are listening on the LEP App. 

Most people listen to the audio version of this – and I’m saying this now because I’m also recording a video version of this on YouTube and I feel like YouTube is a pretty different audience. 

All the other platforms (ways to listen to the audio podcast) are united in one sort of group – the audio LEPsters and they’re more ninja-ish but they’re perhaps a bit more solid, reliable, dependable and loyal. 

I don’t mean to have a pop at (criticise) the video LEPsters on YouTube, but they seem to be a slightly different type of LEPster. I feel like YouTube LEPsters are less ninja-ish because there are many more comments.

Also, YouTube LEPsters (hello) seem to be less aware of the back catalogue of episodes, and I get a lot of people who have never heard the podcast ever before. (shocking, I know) 

But YouTube has enormous potential to go viral. In fact, in a way it’s like swimming in the deep ocean and you could catch a current and get into the very deep water. 

I mean, most episodes on YouTube get less attention than the audio versions, but then some videos go viral as they get picked up by the algorithm which is responding to the way people interact with your video and I guess that the algorithm sort of picks up on videos which are popular and promote them, as a way to always present the best content on the platform. 

So a couple of my recent videos went a bit viral (not a lot but a bit), which was nice.

So – YouTube LEPsters – here, let me just have a word for a moment. 

Really, this is an audio podcast that also has a youtube channel and recently I’ve been uploading more to it, but really this is still, mainly, an audio show and I have a big archive of audio episodes on my website and in my app. 

Not all the episode are available on YouTube and they’re not all on Apple Podcasts, but they’re all there on my website, with episode pages for each and every single one of them and audio download links. 

Go to my website teacherluke.co.uk (I know it looks like it was made in 2012) and then click EPISODES in the menu, and also in the LEP App you can get every single episode.

Most people listen to my podcast using an app on their phone and they listen when they are probably doing something else, like walking around, driving (please be careful), doing housework, doing exercise or simply breathing. 

So listening to the audio version on your phone seems to be the normal way to do it.

If you listen using a podcast app on your phone, and you need to stop listening for whatever reason, the app will remember where you stopped listening and you can then carry on from that point later. So, you don’t have to listen to an episode in one single go.

The majority of my audience listen to the audio version of this and I’ve been doing the audio podcast for over 12 years now, and I have a big back catalogue of episodes and I have talked about lots of different things over the years including some things that I’m sure you’d like to hear, so check out the episode archive for the older episodes.

LEP App

My app disappeared from the Apple App store for a couple of days (I had a payment issue with Apple) and when it came back all the ratings and reviews had gone (3 years’ worth), which was annoying. Can you do me a favour (no obligation of course) and give the app a rating and a review (if you use it)? 

How was your holiday?

It was great. No need to go into full detail like I have in the past, but basically we got lucky with the weather and had a really lovely time.

What about moving to your new flat and moving to a new pod-room?

Building work is being done in the new flat. I think the downstairs neighbours will want to murder us. 

I probably won’t get the keys to the new pod-room until mid September, and then I’ll move in there. I’ll need to get electricity and internet connected there, and to fit a desk and some shelves, and then it’ll be the official new pod-room.

Common Questions since going viral on YT

I am going to try to answer these questions as quickly and succinctly as possible without rambling at all in fact. So in this rambling episode, here is a section with no rambling. 

I hope that’s clear.

So, this is a rambling episode, with a bit where there’s no rambling.

Anyway – no rambling here, let’s just get straight to the point and keep it simple.

Common Questions from YouTube

Where are you from?

Can you do an episode about ______?

Check the episode archive on my website. There’s a chance I’ve already talked about that.

Go to the archive and do a ctrl+F search for the keywords you’re interested in.

How can I learn English by listening to your podcast?

This can really help you a lot, but it’s not the only thing you should do. 

It’s also important to read a lot (find texts which are not too tricky, use fairly modern English and which you actually want to read) study a bit (use grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation teaching materials of any kind and work with them – it’s not the only thing, but it helps) do lots of speaking if you can (ideally find someone to have meaningful conversations with, perhaps a teacher or language partner who can give you some little corrections and encouragement) and write on a regular basis too (practise writing different types of text or just write a diary every day in which you express your thoughts in English – you’ve got to express yourself in English regularly in order to find your voice).

Learning English is about learning how to do something, not just learning how to understand something, and we generally get better at things by trying to do them again and again. 

So listen and read a lot and try to speak and write a lot too. That’s quite general advice but there it is.

For more specific advice on how to use the podcast to improve your English, you could listen to these episodes

174, 568.

Should I listen to the episodes on order?

It’s up to you really. You can just listen to all the new ones as they come out, but if you really want to learn from me properly then I would suggest listening from episode 1. 

Certainly if you are a lower level learner, the first 50-ish episodes are probably a bit easier to understand and have more specific language-teaching objectives, so it would be good to start with them. 

But equally, if you just find my episodes fun and interesting you can listen to them in any order you like. Be aware though: multi-part episodes should be heard in order, and there might be little private jokes and references from earlier episodes which you might not understand (like the dreaded Russian Joke).

Can you do more story episodes?

Yes, I’m planning to do more stories.

Can you do episodes about grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation?

Consider signing up to LEP Premium for loads of episodes like that.

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo   

Can you feature ___(insert name here)___ again? (Check previous episodes)

Check the archive – a lot of my guests have been on the podcast before, especially favourites like Amber & Paul and my family. Check the archive.

Can you do video episodes every time?

Not every time, but I’ll try to do them as often as possible.

Is there a transcript for this episode?

teacherluke.co.uk

Transcripts

Episodes with transcripts

Episode archive and check

Transcript collaboration

YouTube channel – automatic subtitles

Live without subtitles – Learn to hear the spoken version of English without the aid of the written version (Although subtitles and scripts can also be a great resource, and so you should do a bit of both).

Recent appearances on other people’s podcasts

So in the last episode I mentioned:

The Level Up English Podcast

Stories of Language Learners Podcast

Since then I was also on:

English Small World Podcast (by Apex Language Consulting & Training in Taiwan) (2 episodes) apexenglishpodcast.podbean.com

The Clark and Miller English Podcast 

Charlie Watts

The Rolling Stones seem to be missing a drummer and a bass player. I hear Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney are available. Imagine if they formed a Beatles/Stones supergroup at the very end of their careers?

But of course nobody could replace the people who are gone like Charlie Watts and Lennon and Harrison, but still it would be fun for the five remaining guys to get together and perform. 

Actually I think they’d be an amazing band but there would be ego struggles between Jagger and McCartney for stage limelight. 

Paul and Keef are great mates I believe and they used to meet up together when they both stayed in the Caribbean 

and probably have a few cups of tea and have a laugh and tell stories of the old days. 

So they’re pretty tight, and Ringo is friendly with everyone and still drumming. 

The Rolling Beatles

Message from Lio in Brazil

Remember the WISBOLEP competition? That was awesome.

From Lio from Brasil who didn’t make it to the last 16.

Lio appears at about 2:24:00 in the Wisbolep 1 video.

The point is – there were so many people who sent really great recordings and who didn’t get through to the last 16. 

I want to share this because it is a very real example of someone who has connected the learning of English to their personal life in a very human way – which means, making mistakes, acknowledging motivational issues and finally coming to terms with the fact they have to take responsibility for learning and the end result is great. 

This is an excellently written email that obviously just came out of Lio without him planning it and rewriting it. He has done really well with his English, as have so many other LEPsters. This is what he wrote.

Lio from Brasil

I had so much fun during this competition, even though I didn’t pass the first round.

Let me tell you something, I’ve been meaning to write it for a long time..:)

You know, I need to be frank, I was sooo happy and keen to participate that, when I recorded my pitch, I wasn’t thinking about “what” I should have said, but only about “how” to say it, (very slowly and clearly). 

My thought was: “I want everyone to understand me”, because I guess that there are different types of lepsters, people who just started and people who have been listening for years…

So I decided to speak that way..,I guess the result was that I made myself sound like a robot 😶

I don’t want to be too hard on myself but knowing that there is always room for progress, helps me on the journey, it tells me that I could be working even harder on my English, while at the same time having fun.

I love this language and when I was younger, it was so frustrating and tiring. You know the vibe because you’re learning French and you need it in one way or another.

As a non native speaker I knew as a child that I HAD to learn English, sooner or later.

It was only 9 years ago that I started to want to learn it…and did I start then? Of course not!!! naaa, too easy!! Let’s just procrastinate for other 5 or 6 years 😜

And so, as the story goes, in 2016 (November, I swear 😂) I started googling “learn English” online, Youtube and other websites…but I wasn’t satisfied, I was looking for something that wasn’t boring or “slow-paced”. 

I desired something interesting and alive, that could help me defeat my tendency to quit learning the language. 

Why? Because English represented this scary monster in my head and I had more worries than solutions at the time. So I felt the need to challenge myself and, as a beginner your podcast seemed quite advanced and not doable, I thought I couldn’t possibly succeed in understanding everything that was being said, episode after episode.

And then, at a certain point, I don’t know when or how, it just “clicked”…I think around episode 60 or 70…I suddenly realized I was understanding everything on the podcast. 

At that point, after years of procrastination, failures and half attempts at learning the language, I felt like: “that’s it! I got it! Finally!” 

Now, let me just tell you that I was aware of how much work I still needed (and need now)..but believe me…I cracked the code, I finally unlocked this thing, I got this! That’s how I felt…

But I need to add that, although I had finally found the resource I was looking for, I wasn’t disciplined enough for self studying and I already knew very good books (Raymond Murphy’s and collegues), but as you said so many times that I couldn’t possibly remember, you need to take responsibility for the learning process.

I really liked episode 686, you and Christian from Canguro English said a very important thing.

Sometimes people think that when one wants to learn a language, he/she simply needs to take lessons from a teacher saying: “Ok, I’m here, just fill me up with English”, so to speak..but if that was the case, how much easier things would be?

There is that film with Keanu Reeves, what was its name? Oh Yeah “Johnny Mnemonic” (1995) in which they put data inside his brain and he has to carry it, as a courier I believe. 

Anyway the point is, it doesn’t work like that, us, learners, we are the ones that need to do the hard work, guided by our teachers, in the lepsters case, by you of course, 😁you’re the one who unlocks all of this.

I followed a lot of advice you gave and let me tell you… thank you, it worked wonders!

So yeah, 80% of what I know comes from here! LEP!

But there is also something I love doing as much as possible, and that’s creating my own learning bubble where I’m immersed in the language, as much as possible. Your podcast is a great way to do that ! You definitely revolutionized my English comprehension, aquisition and assimilation and I’m so thankful for that! Not only the language, but your culture too!

I remember episode 100 of Lep: “Going to the pub”, (wow, so many years ago), that’s how it felt in this journey, sitting in a pub with a friend, chatting about so many things, that was the classroom. And episode 99:” The Rotary Sushi Bar of English”, where you pick up all the different portions of English.

Let’s wrap this up, shall we? :)

Thank you for all of this! I had and I’m having so much fun with Lep and knowing that so many people are part of this community is a strong reminder that in the end we’re all from Lepland, we all share this passion for the language and, as our teacher said many times, it’s all about connection, not perfection! 

P.S. Let me do it at least once …I’m certainly rushing to get to next episode…hehe ;)

Until then…bye bye byee bye bye

All the best,

Lio

HAMAD – STOP LISTENING TO LEP IN THE BATHROOM!

Hi Luke,

Hope you are doing great in these Covid-19 times.

One of your very dedicated listeners is Hamad, my husband, who annoyingly keeps listening to your podcasts in the bathroom, while showering, even when he is changing his clothes!

He keeps waking me up from my sleep during his morning “rituals”, or anytime he goes to the bathroom to do ANYTHING.

Please let him know i sent you this message, and tell him to PLEASE stop listening to your podcasts in the BATHROOM.

Sincerely, a concerned yet disturbed wife, Aysha

Thank you.

Sent from my iPhone

That’s all folks!!!

736. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells [Part 3] Learn English with Stories

The final part of this series in which I am reading from the classic story The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, while explaining and clarifying the English which comes up. Full transcript available and YouTube video version too.

Audio Version

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Please watch parts 1 and 2 before watching this. Links in the description.

Click here for part 1

Click here for part 2

Recap of the story so far

Without realising it, the people of earth have been attacked by an aggressive alien species from Mars, with the intention of colonising our planet while escaping their home planet which has become uninhabitable.

The Martians are vastly superior to us in terms of their intelligence and technology. They are also unfriendly. Very unfriendly. Humans are now reduced to mere animals or insects in the presence of these things.

Human society has quickly turned to chaos and destruction as the Martians begin their campaign to take our planet.

The aliens first landed in a cylinder which fell from space with a green flash. After the cylinder opened, revealing the visitors to be awkward and clumsy in our atmosphere, their technology proved to be devestatingly powerful. They are armed with a heat-ray which they have used to clear out all life surrounding the fallen cylinder.

The narrator of the story witnessed the Martians emerging from their cylinder and the ruthless destructive power of their heat ray, but still does not yet realise the full scale of the invasion. He decides to escape the area and travel in the direction of London.

During the night, he sees another cylinder landing, and then sees the first Martian tripods striding over the countryside. These are the vehicles the Martians use and they are colossal and formidable. Suddenly the clumsy Martians are mobile and far more physically powerful than in their normal, naked form.

Reading an extract from chapter 12 (action packed stuff)

Summary of Chapter 11 (next part of the story)
From the upstairs window of his study the narrator observes the destruction of his village and the fires all around the common, as well as the outlines of three creatures moving in the pit, which he can see from a distance.

He hardly recognizes his surroundings. The narrator begins to comprehend that the creatures from the cylinder operate the tripods, comparing them to a human-driven steam engine.

He invites a soldier outside the house to hide inside. The man recounts the futile military efforts against the Martians, who easily destroyed both companies and their weaponry before emerging as tripods from the pit and destroying the railway station and a train. The artilleryman managed to escape.

The two men look again from the window to see three tripods at the pit. As the sun comes up the narrator sees destruction “so indiscriminate and so universal” as to be unprecedented in human warfare.

HG Wells describes the horrific feeling of realising that these Martians are far more powerful than humans. Each cylinder contains at least three tripods, and each tripod is armed with a heat ray. Later we learn more about the martians and their technology as the narrator manages to observe them more, but they are still completely mysterious.

Meanwhile, people have become like refugees from a warzone and there is general chaos as people attempt to escape, get resources, look after themselves etc.

Shepperton Station has become a target for the Martians in their tripods and they have been destroying it, the railway lines and trains. This is especially poignant because they are targeting our infrastructure and our technology seems infinitely primitive to that of the Martians, and we are often compared to animals, insects, bugs or even microorganisms in comparison to our alien visitors.

HG Wells makes a point of observing how society reacts to a moment like this and how fragile it is, while also contrasting the familiar cosy surroundings of the English home counties, with the bizarre, grotesque and strange images of these very bad aliens from Mars.

The narrator and the soldier he met choose to leave the house. The soldier wants to go to London and the narrator wants to go back to his wife in Leatherhead.

They end up in Weybridge which a town just on the river Thames, with London to the east and the Thames Valley to the west.

This is a place where the Thames meets The Wey, another river. It’s a sort of port where you can get a ferry across to the other side. Crowds of people are gathered there, hoping to get on a ferry. The army have placed rows of large artillery guns behind some trees as they expect the tripods to come from a nearby town that is currently under attack. This all happens close to the edge of the water and is full of really precise and specific vocabulary to describe the action that takes place.

XII.
WHAT I SAW OF THE DESTRUCTION OF WEYBRIDGE AND SHEPPERTON. (extract)

We remained at Weybridge until midday, and at that hour we found ourselves at the place near Shepperton Lock where the Wey and Thames join. Part of the time we spent helping two old women to pack a little cart. The Wey has a treble mouth, and at this point boats are to be hired, and there was a ferry across the river. On the Shepperton side was an inn with a lawn, and beyond that the tower of Shepperton Church rose above the trees.

Here we found an excited and noisy crowd of fugitives. As yet the flight had not grown to a panic, but there were already far more people than all the boats going to and fro could enable to cross. People came panting along under heavy burdens; one husband and wife were even carrying a small outhouse door between them, with some of their household goods piled thereon. One man told us he meant to try to get away from Shepperton station.

There was a lot of shouting, and one man was even jesting. The idea people seemed to have here was that the Martians were simply formidable human beings, who might attack and sack the town, to be certainly destroyed in the end. Every now and then people would glance nervously across the Wey, at the meadows towards Chertsey, but everything over there was still.

Across the Thames, except just where the boats landed, everything was quiet, in vivid contrast with the Surrey side. The people who landed there from the boats went tramping off down the lane. The big ferryboat had just made a journey. Three or four soldiers stood on the lawn of the inn, staring and jesting at the fugitives, without offering to help. The inn was closed, as it was now within prohibited hours.

“What’s that?” cried a boatman, and “Shut up, you fool!” said a man near me to a yelping dog. Then the sound came again, this time from the direction of Chertsey, a muffled thud—the sound of a gun.

The fighting was beginning. Almost immediately unseen batteries across the river to our right, unseen because of the trees, took up the chorus, firing heavily one after the other. A woman screamed. Everyone stood arrested by the sudden stir of battle, near us and yet invisible to us. Nothing was to be seen save flat meadows, cows feeding unconcernedly for the most part, and silvery pollard willows motionless in the warm sunlight.

“The sojers’ll stop ’em,” said a woman beside me, doubtfully. A haziness rose over the treetops.

Then suddenly we saw a rush of smoke far away up the river, a puff of smoke that jerked up into the air and hung; and forthwith the ground heaved under foot and a heavy explosion shook the air, smashing two or three windows in the houses near, and leaving us astonished.

“Here they are!” shouted a man in a blue jersey. “Yonder! D’yer see them? Yonder!”

Quickly, one after the other, one, two, three, four of the armoured Martians appeared, far away over the little trees, across the flat meadows that stretched towards Chertsey, and striding hurriedly towards the river. Little cowled figures they seemed at first, going with a rolling motion and as fast as flying birds.

Then, advancing obliquely towards us, came a fifth. Their armoured bodies glittered in the sun as they swept swiftly forward upon the guns, growing rapidly larger as they drew nearer. One on the extreme left, the remotest that is, flourished a huge case high in the air, and the ghostly, terrible Heat-Ray I had already seen on Friday night smote towards Chertsey, and struck the town.

At sight of these strange, swift, and terrible creatures the crowd near the water’s edge seemed to me to be for a moment horror-struck. There was no screaming or shouting, but a silence. Then a hoarse murmur and a movement of feet—a splashing from the water. A man, too frightened to drop the portmanteau he carried on his shoulder, swung round and sent me staggering with a blow from the corner of his burden. A woman thrust at me with her hand and rushed past me. I turned with the rush of the people, but I was not too terrified for thought. The terrible Heat-Ray was in my mind. To get under water! That was it!

“Get under water!” I shouted, unheeded.

I faced about again, and rushed towards the approaching Martian, rushed right down the gravelly beach and headlong into the water. Others did the same. A boatload of people putting back came leaping out as I rushed past. The stones under my feet were muddy and slippery, and the river was so low that I ran perhaps twenty feet scarcely waist-deep. Then, as the Martian towered overhead scarcely a couple of hundred yards away, I flung myself forward under the surface.

The splashes of the people in the boats leaping into the river sounded like thunderclaps in my ears. People were landing hastily on both sides of the river. But the Martian machine took no more notice, for the moment, of the people running this way and that, than a man would of the confusion of ants in a nest against which his foot has kicked.

When, half suffocated, I raised my head above water, the Martian’s hood pointed at the batteries that were still firing across the river, and as it advanced it swung loose what must have been the generator of the Heat-Ray.

In another moment it was on the bank, and in a stride wading halfway across. The knees of its foremost legs bent at the farther bank, and in another moment it had raised itself to its full height again, close to the village of Shepperton.

Forthwith the six guns which, unknown to anyone on the right bank, had been hidden behind the outskirts of that village, fired simultaneously. The sudden near concussion, the last close upon the first, made my heart jump. The monster was already raising the case generating the Heat-Ray as the first shell burst six yards above the hood.

I gave a cry of astonishment. I saw and thought nothing of the other four Martian monsters; my attention was riveted upon the nearer incident. Simultaneously two other shells burst in the air near the body as the hood twisted round in time to receive, but not in time to dodge, the fourth shell.

The shell burst clean in the face of the Thing. The hood bulged, flashed, was whirled off in a dozen tattered fragments of red flesh and glittering metal.

“Hit!” shouted I, with something between a scream and a cheer.
I heard answering shouts from the people in the water about me. I could have leaped out of the water with that momentary exultation.

The decapitated colossus reeled like a drunken giant; but it did not fall over. It recovered its balance by a miracle, and, no longer heeding its steps and with the camera that fired the Heat-Ray now rigidly upheld, it reeled swiftly upon Shepperton. The living intelligence, the Martian within the hood, was slain and splashed to the four winds of heaven, and the Thing was now but a mere intricate device of metal whirling to destruction. It drove along in a straight line, incapable of guidance. It struck the tower of Shepperton Church, smashing it down as the impact of a battering ram might have done, swerved aside, blundered on and collapsed with tremendous force into the river out of my sight.

A violent explosion shook the air, and a spout of water, steam, mud, and shattered metal shot far up into the sky. As the camera of the Heat-Ray hit the water, the latter had immediately flashed into steam. In another moment a huge muddy tidal wave, almost scaldingly hot, came sweeping round the bend upstream. I saw people struggling shorewards, and heard their screaming and shouting faintly above the seething and roar of the Martian’s collapse.

For a moment I heeded nothing of the heat, forgot the patent need of self-preservation. I splashed through the tumultuous water, pushing aside a man in black to do so, until I could see round the bend. Half a dozen deserted boats pitched aimlessly upon the confusion of the waves. The fallen Martian came into sight downstream, lying across the river, and for the most part submerged.

Thick clouds of steam were pouring off the wreckage, and through the tumultuously whirling wisps I could see, intermittently and vaguely, the gigantic limbs churning the water and flinging a splash and spray of mud and froth into the air. The tentacles swayed and struck like living arms, and, save for the helpless purposelessness of these movements, it was as if some wounded thing were struggling for its life amid the waves. Enormous quantities of a ruddy-brown fluid were spurting up in noisy jets out of the machine.

My attention was diverted from this death flurry by a furious yelling, like that of the thing called a siren in our manufacturing towns. A man, knee-deep near the towing path, shouted inaudibly to me and pointed. Looking back, I saw the other Martians advancing with gigantic strides down the riverbank from the direction of Chertsey. The Shepperton guns spoke this time unavailingly.

At that I ducked at once under water, and, holding my breath until movement was an agony, blundered painfully ahead under the surface as long as I could. The water was in a tumult about me, and rapidly growing hotter.

When for a moment I raised my head to take breath and throw the hair and water from my eyes, the steam was rising in a whirling white fog that at first hid the Martians altogether. The noise was deafening. Then I saw them dimly, colossal figures of grey, magnified by the mist. They had passed by me, and two were stooping over the frothing, tumultuous ruins of their comrade.

The third and fourth stood beside him in the water, one perhaps two hundred yards from me, the other towards Laleham. The generators of the Heat-Rays waved high, and the hissing beams smote down this way and that.

The air was full of sound, a deafening and confusing conflict of noises—the clangorous din of the Martians, the crash of falling houses, the thud of trees, fences, sheds flashing into flame, and the crackling and roaring of fire. Dense black smoke was leaping up to mingle with the steam from the river, and as the Heat-Ray went to and fro over Weybridge its impact was marked by flashes of incandescent white, that gave place at once to a smoky dance of lurid flames. The nearer houses still stood intact, awaiting their fate, shadowy, faint and pallid in the steam, with the fire behind them going to and fro.

For a moment perhaps I stood there, breast-high in the almost boiling water, dumbfounded at my position, hopeless of escape. Through the reek I could see the people who had been with me in the river scrambling out of the water through the reeds, like little frogs hurrying through grass from the advance of a man, or running to and fro in utter dismay on the towing path.

Then suddenly the white flashes of the Heat-Ray came leaping towards me. The houses caved in as they dissolved at its touch, and darted out flames; the trees changed to fire with a roar. The Ray flickered up and down the towing path, licking off the people who ran this way and that, and came down to the water’s edge not fifty yards from where I stood. It swept across the river to Shepperton, and the water in its track rose in a boiling weal crested with steam. I turned shoreward.

In another moment the huge wave, well-nigh at the boiling-point had rushed upon me. I screamed aloud, and scalded, half blinded, agonised, I staggered through the leaping, hissing water towards the shore. Had my foot stumbled, it would have been the end. I fell helplessly, in full sight of the Martians, upon the broad, bare gravelly spit that runs down to mark the angle of the Wey and Thames. I expected nothing but death.

I have a dim memory of the foot of a Martian coming down within a score of yards of my head, driving straight into the loose gravel, whirling it this way and that and lifting again; of a long suspense, and then of the four carrying the debris of their comrade between them, now clear and then presently faint through a veil of smoke, receding interminably, as it seemed to me, across a vast space of river and meadow. And then, very slowly, I realised that by a miracle I had escaped.

Summary (AKA – what the hell just happened?)

The two men reach a chaotic scene in Weybridge as people crowd the railway station and the ferry in an effort to leave.
Suddenly they hear gunfire and a large explosion, and four tripods come into view across the river.
The narrator hides in the river.
Six guns hidden in the woods fire on the nearest tripod.
One shell strikes the tripod and gruesomely kills the Martian inside.
Unguided but still moving, the tripod smashes into a church and falls into the river.
The other Martians come to the fallen tripod, shooting their Heat-Rays at the village and destroying the opposition.
The Heat-Ray from the fallen tripod heats the water in the river and scalds the narrator before he manages to escape.

Final comments and analysis

It’s possible to see various interpretations of this story, or subtexts to the story.

Here are some.

The complacency of humans
As the dominant species on earth for hundreds of thousands of years, we have become complacent about our position in the natural hierarchy, and this is a mistake. Humans could easily be removed from this dominant position by things we aren’t even aware of. In the story this means intelligent creatures from another planet. In reality this could be something like the coronavirus or just something else we don’t usually think about.

How would human society cope with a crisis like this?
This is a common theme in disaster movies, zombie films, science fiction etc. All it takes is for something to disrupt our carefully organised society and things can descend into chaos quite easily, and this often brings out the worst in people. Normal citizens can quickly become immoral and do bad things, when the structure of society collapses and we end up having to fight for our survival.

Treatment of Animals
The story makes us think about the way we treat animals, which are below us in the power hierarchy on earth. Perhaps we should be more compassionate and kind to animals. In fact this is one of the only conclusions the narrator reaches in this story, as he suddenly understands what it means to be ruled over by a superior species.

The bigger they come, the harder they fall.

Microorganisms and viruses might be the most powerful forces on earth.

More themes here including technology, fear, power, and Familiar versus Strange
www.coursehero.com/lit/The-War-of-the-Worlds/themes/

A sample from coursehero.com
Technology
The benefits, possibilities, and potential threats of technology—represented in the Martian tripods—make technology a pervasive theme in the novel. Following the Industrial Revolution, technology changed society dramatically—from travel, to work, to communication. Virtually no part of life was untouched by new inventions. The benefits provided by these new machines meant people could accomplish tasks faster, easier, and often independently.

But as ever with modern science fiction stories, there is an element of fear regarding advancements in technology and how we may ultimately be surpassed by technological innovations.

This is where we’re going to stop.


I seriously hope you enjoyed this!

If you’re still listening or watching, then “hello”. Thanks for sticking with this. I guess it must mean you’ve been enjoying it.

I’m sure it’s been challenging at times, but to be honest I also feel this is difficult to follow when I read it. There’s a sense that things are just beyond your imagination, and that your mind has to do quite a lot of work to understand the fairly complex descriptions being given. This is not quite the same as watching a film where everything is shown. Or maybe it’s like watching a really well-directed film where you never quite see clearly what is happening, and this adds to the drama and excitement.

Anyway – thank you for sticking with this and listening all the way through.

Let me know what you think of this, and I highly recommend reading the rest of the story. There’s a lot more action and a few more close encounters with the Martians and their tripods, and of course the ending is very clever. I won’t spoil it. The book is better than the film though, I assure you!

In terms of English, I hope you have found it interesting to hear some samples of old fashioned English from the 19th century. I would say it is broadly modern English, but with a more formal style. It’s really enjoyable though. I love the descriptiveness and the general command over the language is a joy to behold.

Don’t forget you can get the full text for this episode printed right there on the page for this episode, and there’s the YouTube video version as well to enjoy where you can see text on the screen as you read it.

Listen to LEP wherever you get your podcasts. Don’t forget to like and subscribe.

Leave a positive review on iTunes and check out my free app.

And consider signing up to LEP Premium to get specific lessons on vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar. teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

Thanks for listening.

All the best,

Bye bye bye bye

734. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells [Part 1] Learn English with Stories

Luke reads extracts from The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells. This is a classic bit of science fiction writing from the Victorian era, with some thrilling passages and scary descriptions. It’s one of my favourite books of all time and I hope you enjoy it too and learn some English from it. Full transcript available and YouTube version too.

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Full Episode Transcript (starts after the jingle)

Hello listeners,

It’s story time in this episode because I’m going to tell you a classic English science fiction story.

The story is called War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells the classic storyteller who also wrote The Invisible Man and The Time Machine, and you have probably heard of War Of The Worlds because it is definitely one of the most famous and most influential science fiction stories ever written.

Now, I know that science fiction is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I do hope you stick around and listen to this story because I think this is just particularly good writing and the story is very exciting, immersive and memorable so it should be a really enjoyable way to pick up some more English.

I won’t be reading the whole book of course but I will be reading some selected extracts and giving you a summary of the key details in the first part of the story.

The aims of this episode

To entertain you with a really engaging story in English.
Stories are a great way to get more English into your head and if they are exciting and immersive, then that’s even better.

To show you a slightly old-fashioned version of English, which is really rich in descriptive language and more formal in style than today’s English.
It’s good to be exposed to diverse versions of the language.
Old fashioned English is much more like modern formal English, so it’s a good lesson in style.
This can really strengthen your English in various ways.

To help you notice some nice bits of vocabulary along the way.
Having a broad range of vocabulary is essential in achieving truly advanced English. This story is very rich in descriptive language.

To inspire you perhaps to read the rest of the book.
Reading is such an important thing to do for your English, and maybe you’re looking for interesting books to read. You could consider this one. It’s not too long.

This is also available as a video episode on YouTube and if you watch you can see me recording the podcast with the text on the screen next to my face. So you can listen and read at the same time and see me telling the story.

You can read the entire text I am reading from on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk.

Context of the story and the writing style

War of the Worlds has been adapted lots of times – in films (most famously the 2005 Stephen Spielberg film with Tom Cruise – which you might have seen) and another film version in the 1950s set in Los Angeles, an audiobook musical version read by Richard Burton and an infamous dramatised radio series by Orson Welles.

This is the original alien invasion story. This book was one of the very first stories to ever explore these themes and to describe these kinds of things in such a realistic way.

This is the one that has inspired so many others and in my opinion, none of the other versions of this story or copies of this story can compare to this original version from 1897.

The writing is very realistic and journalistic in style, written from the first person perspective of a guy just experiencing the events as they happened and describing everything in great detail.

A note about the language and the writing style

The language is pretty old fashioned (1897) but it’s really well written and it should be interesting for you and useful for your English to explore another version of this language. Exposure to different types of English makes your English stronger I think.

As we go through this I will point out particular words or phrases as we go and perhaps compare this to normal modern plain English.

Comparing the styles of languages actually gives you more perspective on normal modern English and how formal written English today still retains some aspects of old fashioned language.

There is quite a lot of language you might find in legal documents or other very formal situations.

Words like therein, hereby, forthwith and things like that are quite common, as well as certain structures, longer sentences and choices of words which mark this out in a particular style.

This is very descriptive literary language from over 100 years ago. It’s more complex than today’s English, more formal than today’s English and very specific in its descriptions.

This will probably be a challenge for you but I’m here to help and I will explain things as we go.

This is quite scary stuff

I have to add actually, that having re-read some of this story in preparation for this episode, I hadn’t realised just how terrifying this story is.

Personally I really enjoy the thrills you get from a story like this, but if you are feeling a bit force-sensitive today you might want to get a pillow or hide behind the sofa or something.

Useful Links & Sources

Here are a couple of links I have found useful in making this episode.

Project Gutenberg
I have several paperback copies of this book, but I also found it on www.gutenberg.org – a website which shares stories and books which are now in the public domain.

Link to War of the Worlds html version
www.gutenberg.org/files/36/36-h/36-h.htm

CourseHero Study Notes
Also there’s a website called coursehero.com which has useful summaries of the story and other useful information.
www.coursehero.com/lit/The-War-of-the-Worlds/

Summarising the opening chapters

These are the opening paragraphs of the book, which set the scene in which the events take place. Note the sombre tone and specific choice of language.

Main Character

The story is told by an unnamed narrator.

He is a middle-class educated man who writes philosophical papers and is interested in science. That’s all we know. The story is written in the past tense, as if he is looking back on those events and has written a full account of what happened.

I.
THE EVE OF THE WAR.

No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. [one sentence!]

With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.

No one gave a thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable.

It is curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most, terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise.

Yet across the gulf of space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish, intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes, and slowly and surely drew their plans against us.

And early in the twentieth century came the great disillusionment.

Summary of the story up until Chapter 4: The Cylinder Opens

That opening chapter describes how a species of intelligent creatures on Mars had been observing us for many years before the events of this story. The opening chapter goes on to explain that the Martians were planning to invade earth because their home planet was steadily getting cooler year after year due to the fact that it is further from the sun than the earth. They faced extinction on their own planet, and so they set their sights on their nearest neighbour – Earth – with its warmer atmosphere and closer position to the sun, and with their superior mathematical knowledge and technology they decided they would colonise earth in order to survive. They spent years observing us and planning the invasion.

Note: I am using present tenses from now on to describe this story. This is a normal way to retell the plot of a book, film, or play. It’s because the events of the story are permanent because they never change, they are written that way. So we can use present tenses to summarise the story of a book or film.

Ogilvy the Astronomer

The narrator has a friend called Ogilvy who is a respected astronomer. He has a telescope and uses it to observe the night sky, including the surface of Mars, our nearest neighbour.

So Ogilvy is our friend and he’s an astronomer.

6 years before the main events of the story Ogilvy invites the narrator to an observatory to study Mars after another astronomer reported a dramatic explosion of gas on the surface of the planet, which seems to be directed toward Earth. The narrator observes a similar explosion as he watches through the telescope.

Ogilvy doubts the existence of life on Mars and speculates the phenomenon may be related to meteorites or volcanoes. Many other people witness the phenomenon, which repeats itself at midnight over a total of 10 days.

Nobody at the time is concerned or worried about the explosions on Mars.

6 years later some people see a falling star – a meteorite which flies through the night sky with a bright green flash and lands nearby on Horsell Common – a large area of grass, meadows and trees. Again, nobody assumes there is anything weird going on. Ogilvy the astronomer is interested in the meteorite and finds it on the common.

As it has landed it has formed a large crater of sand. So the object is lying at the bottom of a kind of large sand pit in the middle of an open area of grassland surrounded by buildings and trees.

The meteorite that he finds is quite odd. It’s in a cylindrical shape – like a long can of coke, but he thinks its made of rock as it is covered in a kind of crusty layer. It’s also extremely hot and he can’t get near it, but he notices there are weird sounds coming from inside it. He assumes these are noises caused by the object cooling, but as he continues to observe it he realises that something funny is going on.

The crusty layer is slowly falling off as the object cools, revealing a kind of metallic surface underneath, and even weirder than that, the end of the cylinder appears to be turning, as if it is unscrewing very slowly. Ogilvy suddenly assumes that the cylinder has people inside it and decides to get help, but nobody believes him.

Eventually he finds a journalist who is willing to check the cylinder. A crowd of people begins to gather as word spreads about “men from space stuck inside a cylinder on the common”. People don’t quite realise what’s going on but they are incredibly curious. Normal life continues, with people stopping by to have a look at the object in the sand pit, before continuing their normal routines.

The narrator goes down to Horsell Common to check out what’s going on. A larger crowd has gathered there. He manages to squeeze through the crowd which is getting more and more excited and agitated. A small group of scientists, including the narrator’s friend Ogilvy are in the pit attempting to work out what is happening.

The narrator observes what is going on and comments on how most people are not really educated about this kind of thing and they haven’t worked out what’s going on, but he assumes that the cylinder must be extra-terrestrial. He observes the end of the cylinder moving and as it turns it’s revealing a kind of shining metal thread.

The next chapter describes what happens when the end of the cylinder finally drops off, revealing what is inside.

Reading chapters 4 and 5 with comments and explanations

The narrator approaches the pit containing the cylinder.
Crowds of people are all around the pit, trying to see what’s happening. They’re pushing each other a bit, and things are quite tense. (You know, when a large crowd forms, people start pushing and shoving and it’s stressful)
Ogilvy and some other scientists are in the pit.

IV.
THE CYLINDER OPENS.
The crowd about the pit had increased, and stood out black against the lemon yellow of the sky—a couple of hundred people, perhaps. There were raised voices, and some sort of struggle appeared to be going on about the pit. Strange imaginings passed through my mind. As I drew nearer I heard Stent’s voice:
“Keep back! Keep back!”
A boy came running towards me.
“It’s a-movin’,” he said to me as he passed; “a-screwin’ and a-screwin’ out. I don’t like it. I’m a-goin’ ’ome, I am.”
I went on to the crowd. There were really, I should think, two or three hundred people elbowing and jostling one another, the one or two ladies there being by no means the least active.
“He’s fallen in the pit!” cried some one.
“Keep back!” said several.
The crowd swayed a little, and I elbowed my way through. Every one seemed greatly excited. I heard a peculiar humming sound from the pit.
“I say!” said Ogilvy; “help keep these idiots back. We don’t know what’s in the confounded thing, you know!”
I saw a young man, a shop assistant in Woking I believe he was, standing on the cylinder and trying to scramble out of the hole again. The crowd had pushed him in.
The end of the cylinder was being screwed out from within. Nearly two feet of shining screw projected. Somebody blundered against me, and I narrowly missed being pitched onto the top of the screw. I turned, and as I did so the screw must have come out, for the lid of the cylinder fell upon the gravel with a ringing concussion. I stuck my elbow into the person behind me, and turned my head towards the Thing again. For a moment that circular cavity seemed perfectly black. I had the sunset in my eyes.
I think everyone expected to see a man emerge—possibly something a little unlike us terrestrial men, but in all essentials a man. I know I did. But, looking, I presently saw something stirring within the shadow: greyish billowy movements, one above another, and then two luminous disks—like eyes. Then something resembling a little grey snake, about the thickness of a walking stick, coiled up out of the writhing middle, and wriggled in the air towards me—and then another.
A sudden chill came over me. There was a loud shriek from a woman behind. I half turned, keeping my eyes fixed upon the cylinder still, from which other tentacles were now projecting, and began pushing my way back from the edge of the pit. I saw astonishment giving place to horror on the faces of the people about me. I heard inarticulate exclamations on all sides. There was a general movement backwards. I saw the shopman struggling still on the edge of the pit. I found myself alone, and saw the people on the other side of the pit running off, Stent among them. I looked again at the cylinder, and ungovernable terror gripped me. I stood petrified and staring.
A big greyish rounded bulk, the size, perhaps, of a bear, was rising slowly and painfully out of the cylinder. As it bulged up and caught the light, it glistened like wet leather.
Two large dark-coloured eyes were regarding me steadfastly. The mass that framed them, the head of the thing, was rounded, and had, one might say, a face. There was a mouth under the eyes, the lipless brim of which quivered and panted, and dropped saliva. The whole creature heaved and pulsated convulsively. A lank tentacular appendage gripped the edge of the cylinder, another swayed in the air.
Those who have never seen a living Martian can scarcely imagine the strange horror of its appearance. The peculiar V-shaped mouth with its pointed upper lip, the absence of brow ridges, the absence of a chin beneath the wedgelike lower lip, the incessant quivering of this mouth, the Gorgon groups of tentacles, the tumultuous breathing of the lungs in a strange atmosphere, the evident heaviness and painfulness of movement due to the greater gravitational energy of the earth—above all, the extraordinary intensity of the immense eyes—were at once vital, intense, inhuman, crippled and monstrous. There was something fungoid in the oily brown skin, something in the clumsy deliberation of the tedious movements unspeakably nasty. Even at this first encounter, this first glimpse, I was overcome with disgust and dread.
[It’s a bit like if you spend any length of time staring at a nasty looking insect, or even just staring at a picture of one]
Suddenly the monster vanished. It had toppled over the brim of the cylinder and fallen into the pit, with a thud like the fall of a great mass of leather. I heard it give a peculiar thick cry, and forthwith another of these creatures appeared darkly in the deep shadow of the aperture.
I turned and, running madly, made for the first group of trees, perhaps a hundred yards away; but I ran slantingly and stumbling, for I could not avert my face from these things.
There, among some young pine trees and furze bushes, I stopped, panting, and waited further developments. The common round the sand-pits was dotted with people, standing like myself in a half-fascinated terror, staring at these creatures, or rather at the heaped gravel at the edge of the pit in which they lay. And then, with a renewed horror, I saw a round, black object bobbing up and down on the edge of the pit. It was the head of the shopman who had fallen in, but showing as a little black object against the hot western sun. Now he got his shoulder and knee up, and again he seemed to slip back until only his head was visible. Suddenly he vanished, and I could have fancied a faint shriek had reached me. I had a momentary impulse to go back and help him that my fears overruled.
Everything was then quite invisible, hidden by the deep pit and the heap of sand that the fall of the cylinder had made. Anyone coming along the road from Chobham or Woking would have been amazed at the sight—a dwindling multitude of perhaps a hundred people or more standing in a great irregular circle, in ditches, behind bushes, behind gates and hedges, saying little to one another in short, excited shouts, and staring, staring hard at a few heaps of sand. A barrow of ginger beer stood, a queer derelict, black against the burning sky, and in the sand-pits was a row of deserted vehicles with their horses feeding out of nosebags or pawing the ground.

Summary of Chapter 4

As the sun sets, the narrator returns to the pit, where a few hundred people have gathered.
A boy warns the narrator that the end of the cylinder has unscrewed itself, and the narrator forces his way to the front of the crowd to get a better view.
Ogilvy warns the people to stay away and reminds them of its unknown contents.
One man is pushed into the pit by the jostling of the crowd.
The end of the cylinder comes off and falls into the pit.
The narrator and the crowd are horrified by the grotesque octopus-like appearance of an alien who slowly and painstakingly emerges from the cylinder. They seem heavy and struggling to breathe in the atmosphere.
The narrator and the crowd run away from the pit, but many, including the narrator, stop to watch the aliens from the nearby tree line.
The sun sets, leaving enough light to just see the silhouette of the shopkeeper as he tries and fails to get out of the pit alive.

To be continued in part 2…

732. Christian from Canguro English returns

Talking to Christian again about some of the themes and controversial opinions he talks about in his YouTube videos, plus some bits about men wearing thongs on the beach, an obsession with rabbits and if Christian was the Donald Trump of English teaching. Video version available.

Audio Version

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Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners,

How are you today? You are now listening to episode 732, and in this one I am talking again to Christian Saunders from Canguro English.

This is the second time I’m talking to him on the podcast. I previously interviewed Christian in episode 686 last year and got to know him a bit, but I wanted to talk to him again after having seen some of his most recent videos on YouTube about language and language learning.

In his videos Christian often challenges certain assumptions and myths about language learning, and so I thought it might be interesting to talk to him about those things, so I came up with some questions about language, learning language and teaching English on the internet.

There is a video version of this conversation on my YouTube channel too, so don’t forget to check it out and of course to like and subscribe while you’re there.

There’s no more for me to add here in the introduction. I hope you enjoy this conversation and get some good things from it. Once again, Christian’s YouTube channel is called Canguro English and his website is canguroenglish.com

Let’s get started.


So that was Christian from Canguro English. Thanks again to Christian.

And here we are, at the end of yet another episode. I wonder what you thought of the points which came up in that conversation? Feel free to let us know in the comment section or perhaps under the YouTUbe version of this. Where do you stand on things like comprehensible input, workbooks and clickbait titles? Let us know.

For me, this is one of the last episodes I’m recording before officially starting my summer holiday. As usual I have loads of stuff to record and publish before I go away, and I might end up recording some of it while I am back in the UK. But here’s a little overview of what’s in the pipeline right now.

  • A Summer Ramble
  • War of the Worlds
  • P31

So I have my work cut out.

In terms of holiday – we’re going back to the UK to stay at my parents’ place and we will have to deal with the whole quarantine thing, and the day 2 and day 8 testing process and all that. It’s quite annoying. But after we quarantine we will be going to a posh camp site for some “glamping” and generally spending a couple of weeks in the UK.

Meanwhile our new flat in Paris is being demolished (on the inside) and remade to our specifications. Let’s hope that all goes according to plan.

I’ll talk more about this stuff in that rambling episode which is coming up.

In any case, I will speak to you again soon.

But for now, it’s time to say, good bye bye bye…

728. English with Rob / Games, Music & Jingles

My guest today is Rob from English with Rob (podcast/YouTube). Rob is an English teacher, musician from England, and my former colleague. This episode includes lots of musical fun, some chatting about how we make our podcasts, fun word games and much more. Video version also available on YouTube.

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Intro Transcript

Hello listeners, and video viewers.

In this episode I’m talking to Robert Dylan Walker, aka Rob from English with Rob – the podcast and YouTube channel.

Rob and I already know each other in fact as we used to be colleagues at the British Council, until Rob moved to Germany.

Basically – Rob is an English teacher, a YouTuber and a podcaster. He’s also a musician who likes to make music for his podcast, a photographer and video maker, who likes to use various special effects in his videos, and he’s into jokes and films and things like that, so he’s an ideal guest for me to talk to on this podcast.

The plan is to have a bit of a ramble chat, focusing on things like how we both make our podcasts, especially how we include bits of music in our episodes – and later in this episode we will be playing some of our podcast jingles, breaking them down a bit, explaining how we made them, and we had homework for this episode  – to record jingles for each other’s podcasts, but I think that we both ended up recording songs rather than jingles.

So stick around to hear some of our music and generally to get to know Rob a bit, and find out about his podcast and YouTube channel, which you might want to check out as a good resource to help you in your continuing journey to improve your English.

Ending

That was an epic one. Thanks again to Rob for his contribution. Don’t forget to check out English with Rob wherever you get your podcasts and on YouTube.

I hope you enjoyed the bits about music and making jingles and that you didn’t get too exhausted by the length. Hopefully you just got carried away and enjoyed getting a nice big dose of English listening into your week. 

If you’re interested in more stuff about jingles, then check out the Luke’s English Podcast App – free in the app store. It has a category called Jingles where you can hear most of the jingles I’ve made for the podcast, like the Amber & Paul jingle and more. There’s also that full app-only episode in which I break down every single sample from the LEP Jingle Megamix.

And on the subject of music, you can check out my recent tunes, like the English with Rob song that I did for this podcast and some other little bits of music I’ve been making recently – you can check them out on my soundcloud page. 

My user name is LEPTunes. 

Links

The last one is a link to the music page on my website where you can find all the Korg Kaossilator tunes I’ve ever made, and also old music mixes I’ve made with my brother and a few comedy tracks too with James.

So, plenty of music stuff to get into. 

I hope you enjoyed this episode. I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now it’s time to say good bye…

BONUS: EURO2020 Swapcast with Martin Johnston (RnR) & Zdenek Lukas (ZEP) Part 1 & 2

A fun chat about the UEFA Euro2020 Football Championship, with Luke Thompson (Luke’s English Podcast), Martin Johnston (Rock N’ Roll English) and Zdenek Lukas (Zdenek’s English Podcast), with a special prize giveaway in which you can win prizes from all 3 of us. Non-football fans, feel free to skip this, of course! Video version available.

Part 1 – Audio Version

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Part 1 – Video Version

Part 2 – Audio Version

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Part 2 – Video Version

Martin Johnston – Rock N’ Roll English

Martin is an English teacher from England, now living in Italy. In his podcast, he has unfiltered conversations with friends with funny & embarrassing stories – all to help you learn English. Find out more on his website, including details of his community – The Rock N’ Roll English Family. rocknrollenglish.com/

Zdenek Lukas – Zdenek’s English Podcast

Zdenek is an English teacher from the Czech Republic. He’s a private English teacher and podcaster. He loves to teach English with board games, he loves football and he has a special course for learning English with role plays. Visit his website for more information www.teacherzdenek.com/

Luke Thompson – Luke’s English Podcast

I think you probably know me already, right LEPsters? Check out LEP Premium to access all the audio (and video) lessons I make specifically to help you learn vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

Giveaway Competition details. Prizes to be won!

The competition is now closed – winners were announced in part 2 of this conversation.

The prizes

  • Martin’s prize: Free access to the Rock & Roll English Family for 1 month.
  • Zdenek’s prize: Free entry to Zdenek’s English through Role Plays course.
  • Luke’s prize: An LEP Mug, signed by Luke.

Unboxing my Shiny YouTube Award for 100,000 Subscribers (Audio and Video Versions)

YouTube sent me an award for reaching a subscriber milestone, so I opened the box live on video, answered some questions from the audience and played a song on the guitar. Audio and video versions available here.

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Song Lyrics

Family Affair by Sly & The Family Stone genius.com/Sly-and-the-family-stone-family-affair-lyrics

724. The Mountain (Short Story) + Video

Reading an emotional short story, with vocabulary explanations and differences between British and American English.

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via Commaful

Read the story on Commaful here commaful.com/play/aknier/the-mountain/

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, welcome back to my podcast. I hope you’re doing well and that you’re ready to learn some more English with me in this new episode.

This one is called The Mountain and I’m going to read you a short story and then use it to teach you some English.

There is a video version of this available on YouTube with the text on the screen, so you can read and listen at the same time and you can see my face while I’m recording this, if that’s what you’d like to see. You can find that video on the page for this episode on my website or on my YouTube channel – Luke’s English Podcast on YouTube, don’t forget to like and subscribe of course.

Stories are great for learning English, and I’m always searching for various stories that I could read out on the podcast. I’ve found a few stories and texts, both online and in books that I have on my bookshelves, so you can expect more story episodes like this coming in the future as I read things in different styles, from different texts, including some well-known published work and some independently published stuff and fan fiction that is available online. 

Stories make ideal material for language learning. They are compelling and often the text of the story is also available which makes it extra useful for language learning because it works as a transcript for what you are listening to.

Today I googled “Free short stories online” and I ended up on a website called commaful.com 

This website is described as the largest library of multimedia stories online. Commaful.com 

On Commaful you can read and share stories written by users of the site, fan fiction, poetry and comics, and they have a picturebook format, which means that their stories are presented in a slightly different way, which makes them a bit more pleasant to read online or on mobile devices – more pleasant than just reading text on a screen, which is never a pleasant way to read literature. So rather than just presenting their texts on screen, they put each line of the story on top of an image of some kind (like a picture of a lake or a landscape or something) and you can swipe from one image to the next, reading each line of the story as you go, which is quite nice.

When reading these stories out loud the format encourages you to pause as you read each line, which is quite a good habit. Pausing is a good presentation skill.

It can be a good discipline to practise because pausing can add some space for the audience to think and can change the atmosphere slightly, adding extra weight to each line that you say. So pausing and taking your time can be good presentation skills to practise.

First I’m just going to read the story to you. You can just follow along and try to understand what’s going on.

Then I’ll read it again and I will stop to explain some bits of English that come up, and there are various nice bits of English in here – phrasal verbs, expressions and other nice bits of vocabulary mainly.

The story is written in American English, which is mostly the same as British English really, but I will point out any differences and will give you the UK English equivalents, so this can be a chance to learn some British and American English equivalents.

I’ll do a vocabulary and language summary at the end too.

As I said, there will be some pauses between the lines of the story, because of the way the story is presented to me on the website. I don’t normally pause like this when doing this podcast, but it could be useful because it might help you absorb what I’m saying and you can use those pauses to repeat after me if you like. This will be easier if you can read the lines with me, and again you can do that by watching the youtube video, or visiting the story on commaful.com

Or you can try repeating without seeing the lines if you want an extra challenge.

And of course you can simply enjoy listening to the story without worrying about repeating or anything like that. 

The story is about 10 minutes long, just to let you know what to expect.

The rest of this episode is me explaining and describing the language in the story.

By the way, this story was posted on commaful.com by a user called Aknier and I am assuming that Aknier is the author of this, so credit goes to him or her for writing it.

Follow the link in the description to access the story and you can leave comments there if you like.

I hope you enjoy it!

But now let’s begin the story…

Ending Transcript

OK so that is where the video ends, but I’m adding a bit more here to the audio version in order to do a quick language summary of the bits of vocabulary that came up in that. 

How was that for you? Did you enjoy the story? As I said, there weren’t many narrative elements. It was more an emotional story, but quite an interesting one.

Again, I do recommend that you try reading the story out loud, either by repeating after me or not.

Now let me recap some of the vocabulary items and British and American English differences that you heard there, just to sum up and help you remember what you’ve just heard. I’ll be as brief as I can while jogging your memory here.

You can find this vocabulary list on the page for this episode on my website of course.

Vocabulary List

  • I hardly cried (I didn’t cry a lot)
  • To work hard / to hardly work
  • To fuss / to make a fuss (Fuss = anxious or excited behaviour which serves no useful purpose. “What’s all the fuss about?” “Everyone’s talking about this Meghan & Harry interview. What’s all the fuss about?” “Why don’t you complain?” “Well, I don’t want to make a fuss”)
  • To make a scene = do something which attracts a lot of attention, like angrily shouting at staff in an airport terminal or hotel lobby
  • Siblings (brothers and sisters)
  • To bet that something will/would happen (to be sure it will/would happen) “I bet that England get knocked out of the World Cup on penalties” or “I bet it rains this afternoon”.
  • To shrug your shoulders
  • To grit your teeth = (literally) clench your jaw so your teeth are held tightly together (idiom) to decide to do something even though you don’t want to “I had to tell my dad that I’d crashed his car, so I just gritted my teeth and told him”)
  • A cast / a plaster cast 
  • To be able to afford something  “We couldn’t afford it” “We can’t afford it” (use ‘be able to’ after modal verbs when you can’t use ‘can’ – “We won’t be able to afford it”)
  • A cripple (offensive word)
  • To get picked on
  • To get teased
  • To make fun of someone
  • To get bullied
  • To get catcalled
  • To flash a smile
  • A blinding smile
  • To take that as a yes
  • To get upset
  • To get fired
  • To skip lunch
  • A scholarship
  • To be stunned
  • To soften your voice
  • To talk back
  • To sneak into the kitchen
  • To sneak money back into your wallet
  • Fight – fought – fought
  • Buy – bought – bought
  • To cheat on someone
  • To freak someone out
  • To make it up to someone
  • To raise your voice
  • To shout
  • To scream
  • To cave (in)
  • Emotional outbursts
  • To melt
  • To punch someone in the jaw
  • To stare blankly
  • Stand up for yourself
  • A mess
  • Serene
  • Tranquil
  • Deadly / the deadliest

American English / British English

  • Fifth grade – Fifth year
  • Pants – trousers
  • Mad – angry
  • To figure something out – to work something out
  • To yell – to shout
  • A jerk  – an idiot
  • To take out the trash – to take the rubbish out
  • Chores – housework
  • To punch someone in the jaw – to punch someone in the face