This is the longest episode of LEP so far, and it’s a solo ramble. Relax, follow my words, hang out with me for 3 hours, get stranded on a desert island of the imagination, and then get rescued. Includes a haircut, a sleep and a t-shirt change during the episode.
In this series I am evaluating ChatGPT as a language-learning tool. In this part I’m experimenting with role-play conversations, job interview practice, creating texts and dialogues and seeing if it can help you prepare for Cambridge exams like IELTS or CAE.
This is part 2 of a 3-part episode in which I am playing around with ChatGPT in order to see how it can help you learn English.
ChatGPT is a sophisticated AI chatbot. You can ask it questions and give it commands and it responds instantly. This is the most advanced AI chatbot I have ever used and it is quite impressive how it can do so many different tasks. We’re all finding out how we can use it and how it can be useful as a time-saving tool for many things, including learning and teaching English.
Of course ChatGPT is not without its critics. Some of those criticisms include the fact that ChatGPT will probably encourage cheating and will make it harder for institutions like schools to detect cheating. Noam Chomsky the well-known linguist and intellectual has described it as high-tech plagiarism, because it essentially regurgitates other people’s work and doesn’t provide citations or sources for the information it provides, and also people are suggesting that ChatGPT or AI in general could ultimately lead to a lot of people losing their jobs.
Does that include me, and other English teachers like me? Can ChatGPT replace English teachers, content creators or even the need to practise English with humans at all?
I’m not entirely sure, and we’re all working these things out at the moment, since this is perhaps the first time this kind of technology has been so accessible and now everyone’s using it, learning about it and thinking about it.
There are very interesting debates about this going on, but in this episode I’m focusing mainly on things you can do with ChatGPT, seeing how it works, and evaluating it’s effectiveness as a language learning tool.
This is part 2. In part 1 of this I asked it to create a study plan as if I was an upper-intermediate learner of English, which it instantly wrote for me. The advice was presented very clearly and a lot of it was pretty decent advice at first glance, but was it appropriate advice for the learner profile I wrote? Was the information a bit generic? What experience or research was its advice based on? We don’t really know.
Then I checked its ability to correct English errors and to explain those corrections, which it seemed to do quite well, although it lacked the ability of a human teacher to see the bigger picture and to use emotional intelligence, and then I started testing its ability to have a natural conversation, which it struggled with – mainly because as an AI language model it doesn’t have any feelings or opinions of its own and apparently these things are absolutely vital elements for a good conversation.
But is it possible to persuade ChatGPT to forget that it’s an AI chatbot and to pretend to be someone else, like a celebrity that you’d like to chat to, or your English teacher who can correct your errors while you chat?
This is what we’re looking at in part 2 here.
Also, coming up are these questions:
- How well does it handle role plays in order to let you prepare to use English in specific situations?
- Can you simulate job interview situations with it?
- Can it create useful texts or dialogues for studying with?
- Can it help you with exam preparation by providing sample written texts in response to FCE or CAE writing tasks?
- Can it give you good advice for doing Cambridge exams?
- Can it create reliable, useful exam practice tasks to help you prepare for IELTS?
Well, let’s find out now as we continue to play around with ChatGPT. By the way, there is a PDF script for all the things I am saying in this episode, including all the prompts I am using. You can get it on the page for this episode on my website – link in the description. If you are watching on YouTube you will see the text on the screen and I recommend that you watch this in full screen mode so you can see the text more easily.
OK, so let’s continue and here we go…
Conversation role plays for specific situations
If you need practice of using English in certain specific situations, you can ask it to help you.
I am a hotel receptionist. Can you help me deal with customer complaints?
It just gave me advice, like an article about how to deal with customer complaints.
You can ask it to create sample dialogues for you, for different situations.
Can you make a dialogue between a hotel receptionist and a customer making a complaint about their room?
It creates a pretty good model dialogue. The language you can see is professional, and polite and a good example of the kind of English you would need in that situation.
ChatGPT is good at this kind of thing. But, as a teacher in class, I might want to make sure this dialogue contained certain target language which I want to present and practise.
Again, there isn’t a brain there looking at the bigger picture, guiding you, interpreting your needs and reactions, anticipating and planning as it prepares learning materials and activities for you.
Conversation can be hard to maintain.
You need to give it very specific instructions if you want to converse with it. Otherwise it will just generate a dialogue.
Let’s do a roleplay. You pretend to be a hotel customer with a complaint, and I will be the receptionist. Can you also correct my English errors during the roleplay?
It just created the dialogue, writing lines for both people.
Let’s see what happens if I re-write the prompt more specifically.
Let’s do a roleplay. You pretend to be a hotel customer with a complaint, and I will be the receptionist. I will start by writing “Hello, can I help you”. Then give your response and wait for me to reply before writing the next line.
Can you also correct my English errors during the roleplay?
It’s very difficult to persuade it to do this.
Job interview role plays
Can you interview me for a job as a TEFL teacher at a new language school in Paris?
This worked quite well. It generated questions one after the other. It also responded when I asked for clarification.
Let’s see it it can help you prepare for an interview for a specific position.
Can we do a job interview role play? I’ll input a job advertisement and can you then interview me for the position?
You can input all the details from a job advertisement.
Just paste all the text from an online job advert, like “Marketing manager job advert” or “TEFL teacher France job advert” or “Podcast host job advert”
Inputting a large amount of text can confuse ChatGPT and it tends to just summarise the text. But then you can say “Ask me interview questions based on the job description I gave you”.
It should ask you some pretty good questions, relevant to that job, which will allow you to simulate the interview on your own, or at least prepare some answers. You could type your answers into ChatGPT and ask it for feedback.
But beware of just practising English through typing. Don’t forget that in the real world you have to speak spontaneously and you have to use social skills while doing it including things like body language.
Sample dialogues or texts
Ask it to produce sample texts or sample dialogues which you can then study with.
To be fair, this isn’t really necessary as there are so many texts and resources already available for you, including ones which are specifically created to help you learn English, but yes they are in published books and materials that you might not have immediate access to. Also, it’s simple to just go to ChatGPT and ask it to create any text or dialogue you want, following your specific instructions.
Can you write a 300 word text containing useful phrases for talking about using the toilet?
No speaking: Remember, Chat GPT won’t “say” any of these sentences because it is only in text form.
Can you create a 200 word story to present the use of narrative verb tenses in English?
What I want from this is a range of verb tenses. Past simple, past continuous, past perfect, with good clear examples of how those forms are used and how they are different to each other.
Did it do that?
Was it a good story?
Can it help with Cambridge Exam test preparation?
Let’s see if it can do a Cambridge First Certificate writing task.
Sample answers can help us to practice our writing by providing a model which we can learn from.
Let’s input a task directly into ChatGPT.
CAE Writing Part 1
You have received this email from your English-speaking friend David.
Subject: touring holiday
Some college friends of mine are visiting your area soon for a week’s touring holiday. They would like to travel around and learn about your local area and its history.
Can you tell me about some of the places they could visit? What’s the best way to travel around – car, bike or coach?
Write your email.
Write 140 – 190 words in an appropriate style.
It’s great to hear from you!
I’d be happy to give some recommendations for your college friends’ touring holiday in our area.
There are plenty of places to visit and explore around here. If your friends are interested in history, I would suggest they start with a visit to the local museum, which houses exhibits on the area’s past, including its early settlements and industrial heritage.
Another must-visit is the old castle, which is one of the most famous landmarks in the region. Your friends can take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its history and its role in the area’s development.
As for the best way to travel around, I would recommend a car. There are several car rental agencies available in the area, and it’s an efficient and flexible way to travel and explore. However, if they are more comfortable with public transport, there are several coach tours available that take visitors around to the most popular sites.
I hope your friends enjoy their time here and get to experience everything that the area has to offer.
Let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.
Can you give me some advice on how to do a Cambridge FCE writing task, like the one I gave you?
The answer was pretty good but it got some things wrong.
- It said that I should use a formal tone, but this isn’t always the case.
- The email to David shouldn’t be formal. In fact this advice contradicts what it did in the writing task. It used some informal language there.
- It didn’t refer to any assessment criteria.
- I’m not sure ChatGPT is consistent or reliable enough to replace proper English language teaching.
Ask it to create IELTS practice tests
I asked it:
Can you create an IELTS reading section 3 practice test?
It created a test which looked good at first glance, but it was not a proper section 3 reading test.
The test format was different and did not follow the true, false, not given format of IELTS part 3.
So this means it is not providing sufficient practice for IELTS reading section 3.
Each part of IELTS is specifically designed to test different reading skills and each reading test is very carefully created to test those skills.
Chat GPT didn’t do this to the same standard as you would find in proper IELTS test preparation materials.
Part 2 ending
That is where we are going to stop part 2.
I hope you’re enjoying these episodes and finding them useful.
Don’t forget to leave your comments in the comment section if you have something to say.
We are going to continue in part 3 of this episode, which will be available soon. In fact it might be available for you now – check the episode description for links.
In part 3 I will be attempting to get answers to these questions:
- Can you use ChatGPT like a dictionary?
- Can it give us the same information about words that we can find in a good 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 phrases?
- Can it transcribe things into phonemic script?
- Does it accurately transcribe things into British English pronunciation or is it just standard American?
- 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 use the right sentence stress, word stress, pausing and intonation when reading things out loud?
- Can it help us practise grammar by creating quizzes or tests? Are those tests reliable?
- Can it help you to remember vocabulary with tests and quizzes?
- 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?
All of that, coming up in part 3!
End of part 2
An episode all about studying at university in the UK, with loads of advice about student visas, funding your studies with scholarships, extra-curricular social activities and opportunities at the Students’ Union and more. Features a conversation with a German student currently studying a master’s in clinical neuropsychology at UCL in London. This bonus episode is published in paid partnership with Study UK and the British Council’s GREAT Britain campaign. For more information, follow the links below.
👉 The Study UK website with all the info you need https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/
👉 Student Visas https://www.gov.uk/study-uk-student-visa
👉 Scholarships and funding https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/scholarships-funding
👉 Study in Wales https://www.studyinwales.ac.uk/
👉 Scholarships for Welsh universities https://www.studyinwales.ac.uk/scholarships-and-funding
👉 German Academic Exchange for information about scholarships https://www.daad.de/en/
👉 German Federal Ministry of Education and Research https://www.xn--bafg-7qa.de/bafoeg/de/home/home_node.html
👉 International Health Insurance Surcharge Refund www.gov.uk/healthcare-immigration-application/refunds
👉 Working while on a student visa – The UK Council for International Student Affairs https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/
👉 Study Guides for Parents in Germany https://www.britishcouncil.de/sites/default/files/studyuk_guide_parents_en_2023_final.pdf
Santiago has a top job in the English teaching industry. He is the managing director of English teaching at Oxford University Press. But English is not his first language. He learned it as an adult when he moved to London in his twenties. This conversation explores how he progressed in his English learning and in his career, while dealing with daily challenges and failures in English.
The conclusions are that motivation and positivity are vital, you have to keep going through the difficult times, and you can achieve great things in your career in English even if you’re not perfect. This episode should be a boost for the confidence of all English learners! Keep an open mind, keep your eyes on the prize, keep going and your English WILL improve!
The audio version contains extra content, including my thoughts and conclusions after speaking to Santi
Some thoughts about language learning 👇
- (To borrow a catchphrase from All Ears English Podcast) “It’s about connection not perfection“.
- Use English today – what are you waiting for?
- Learning a language can be painful, but we have to persevere. Keep going through the bad times. Good times are just around the corner.
- Keep your chin up!
- Keep calm and carry on!
- Perseverance, positivity, practice.
- Exposure is so important for learning English – reading a lot, listening a lot, socialising a lot in English.
- Lean into failure, don’t hide from it.
- But if you do hide from it, that’s ok – you’re only human.
- English is a broad church – there’s a lot of diversity in it.
- Your version of English is part of it too, so don’t worry about your accent too much. Work on it, practice being clear, listen & repeat, but at the same time, keep it real – don’t worry if you don’t sound exactly like me. It hasn’t stopped Santi – he’s a success in English and you can do it too.
That’s it! Thanks for listening!
Stephen from SEND7 podcast becomes the host to interview me about how I started LEP, the ins and outs of doing this, plus some advantages and challenges for podcasting to learners of English. Video version available.
Video Version (automatic subtitles)
Andy Johnson returns to talk about more “M” words – this time it’s The Metaverse and The Mandalorian. The Metaverse is an immersive and interactive 3D online environment. How can it be used for learning and teaching English? Andy’s new job is with a company that offers English learning in the metaverse, so let’s chat about it. Also, we finally talk about The Mandalorian on LEP after waiting nearly a year! This is probably the last episode of LEP in 2021 – so Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you have a Happy New Year!
Audio version (with a meta-themed introduction and a ramble about December)
Video Versions (just the conversation with Andy, in two parts)
Find out more about learning English in the metaverse using Fluent Worlds Academy here https://academy.fluentworlds.com/
Hello listeners, how are you? How’s December going for you so far? (I’m recording this in December of course, which is why I just said that – it’s the middle of December) How’s December for you?
It can be a weird month December – it’s pretty much the middle of winter and if you celebrate Christmas then December becomes a bit stressful because the Christmas holiday is coming and you have to make sure you’ve got presents for everyone, and you have to sort out your travel plans and work out how much time you are willing or able to spend with your different family members and it all gets a bit stressful, and of course everyone else is going through the same thing so generally people seem a bit stressed out at this time. If you’re late with your Christmas shopping then that becomes a mad rush and the shops are full of desperate people like in that film with Arnold Shwarzenegger…
plus work commitments seem a bit heavy because everyone’s trying to get things done before the Christmas break and so things get a bit much.
It’s certainly true here for me, because as you know (because I’ve been banging on about it since the summer) we are moving house and having work done on the new place and that’s making things so much more complicated.
Actually, I think this might be the last episode of the year, but I am not sure. I have a couple of other ones in the pipeline but time is running out very quickly, so this might be the final episode of Luke’s English Podcast for 2021.
Merry Christmas everyone – if you celebrate Christmas of course and if you don’t celebrate Christmas I will just say seasons greetings. If you don’t get more podcasts after this until January some time, then you can imagine that I’ve had to pack up all my podcast gear, switched off the internet and moved all our stuff to a new flat, which will probably be full of boxes, and maybe no internet connection, meanwhile I’ll be at my parents place in England (COVID permitting) just doing the usual Christmas things, and the podcast will return in January, probably, but we will see. I might be able to upload more before the new year, but there’s no guaranteeing that. So I will say Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to you now.
Anyway, let me talk about this episode then. It’s an interview episode and this time Andy Johnson is back on the podcast after a long absence. If you don’t know him because you haven’t heard his episodes, or if you have heard those episodes and your memory is not working to its full capacity – Andy is a friend and former colleague of mine. I won’t say more because we talk about all of that at the start of the conversation. All will become clear as you listen.
The title of this one is something like this: Learning & Teaching English in the Metaverse / The Mandalorian (with Andy Johnson)
So there are two topics here. The Metaverse and The Mandalorian. This is one single audio episode with this introduction but the video version is in two parts – one which is just our chat about the metaverse, and another one which is just our chat about The Mandalorian.
In this audio version, let’s start with The Metaverse.
Again, Andy is going to explain this himself, but to be clear The Metaverse (or maybe a metaverse – because there is more than one) is essentially a 3D open world online. A metaphysical space which exists on the internet where people can go and interact and do all sorts of things. It’s a bit like a primitive version of The Matrix from the film The Matrix, but the graphics aren’t as good, yet, and it’s not quite as scary and evil, yet.
As these sorts of open online worlds become more and more sophisticated and as we learn how to use them, we will probably all find ourselves operating within them more and more, for various things – especially for creating virtual workspaces for people working from home or working from different locations but part of a team. Currently we use things like Zoom calls with breakout rooms and screensharing, Microsoft Teams and other platforms. But eventually these shared online spaces will probably become more immersive, opening up so many possibilities for team work which perhaps are more natural and intuitive because they simulate the real world more directly, but with so much more control – we’re talking about 3D environments in which you can move anywhere, manipulate the environment and so on.
These metaverses can seem a little bit scary when you consider the frightening visions of this kind of thing we’ve had from films like The Matrix, but on the other hand they should allow us to work, collaborate and also play together in more productive and enjoyable ways than the current methods we have. Of course, many people are already using them especially for gaming.
There’s a lot to discuss regarding these sorts of new online spaces, and I say “new” but they’re not really that new – remember Second Life – the immersive 3D online world? And of course there are all the online multiplayer games that people play – including things like GTA online.
The metaverse has been around for years in various forms. So, there’s a lot to discuss here in terms of what the metaverse is, how it could be used and the philosophical ramifications of it all but what Andy and I are going to focus on in this conversation is how the metaverse could be used as an environment in which to learn and teach English, and what the advantages of that could be.
So that’s the main focus of our chat really. Then after that, we have a chat about the Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. This is quite long overdue on this podcast as I wanted to talk about it in an episode or two at the start of 2021 when The Mandalorian season 2 was first streamed on Disney+ and it was all fresh in people’s minds. Quite a few listeners got in touch to ask me to share my thoughts on it on the podcast – so, finally here we go. There’s about 25 minutes of chat about The Mandalorian, including spoilers for the end of season 2.
Now, I know that not everyone is a Star Wars fan, which is totally fine of course, so it might not be for all of you, but it’s at the end of this conversation so hopefully the Star Wars fans will be happy to hear us discuss it (quite briefly I must say) and the non-Star Wars fans can feel free just to take it or leave it. In any case, keep listening if you want to hear me talking about The Mandalorian, finally.
We’re nearly ready to start but I think I should also add something about the lexicology of the word “Meta”, since we are talking about The Metaverse here.
I would say that metaverse is something of a portmanteau word because it’s a bit like a new word which has been made by sticking together two other words: meta and universe.
The verse part is from universe of course, and also have multiverse is a trending word at the moment because of the new Spiderman film and the upcoming Doctor Strange film “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” Multiverse means a system of many interconnected universes or parallel worlds and I think now in phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have many different alternate realities all converging, which should be entertaining and quite confusing as well, potentially. But multiverse is not the word we’re dealing with here – that’s another episode for another time.
So let me just refocus on metaverse. So we know what the -verse part of that means – universe.
But what about meta?
This word (or prefix) is currently being used more than ever.
You probably saw the recent news that Facebook changed its name to Meta. Actually the social network will still be called Facebook as far as I know. The company behind it though, will be called Meta.
So what is the word meta? Is it even a word, or just a prefix? Let’s see.
The word or prefix “meta” comes from Ancient Greek and essentially means “beyond” or “about”.
There are many uses of the word. In some cases the it’s an adjective – “That’s very meta” and some cases it’s a prefix to a noun, like in metaphysical or metaverse.
Essentially, meta refers to going beyond something or going outside something, and becoming self aware.
In the case of the metaverse, which is a metaphysical online universe, this means going beyond the normal physical limitations of the real world, and entering a world which is somehow outside that reality – a world, like The Matrix, which is free from the limitations of the real world. So that’s an example of when meta means “beyond”.
Sometimes meta means “about”, and for me this is like going outside of something and then looking back at the thing you have transcended and commenting on it, talking about it and so on.
For example, a film might be described as meta when the the film becomes self-aware and starts commenting the medium of film itself. This is hard to explain.
Let’s say this – the TV series Friends was not very meta, I think. The characters lived in their world and lived their lives and there was never a sense that they knew they were living in a fictional made up place. But, if at any point the characters in the film started commenting on their world but from an outside view, then that would be meta. For example, if Chandler and Joey started commenting on how their apartment building wasn’t real or that they lived inside a TV show, or if Rachel said something like “I’m a waitress, so how can I afford to live in this nice big apartment in Manhattan??” maybe even looking at the camera while doing it, then that would be quite meta – if the show started to realise it was just a show, and in fact was commenting on that. Then the show would be outside of itself and commenting on itself – self aware.
So that’s meta the adjective, meaning self-referential, or self-aware – the “about” part of that old Greek meaning.
Another example of meta.
In learning English we talk about metacognitive strategies. These are ways of thinking about how you learn, and the way you think about learning. You go outside of your normal learning behaviour, observe it, consider it and think about it, perhaps creating new ways to think about and approach your learning habits. For example, many of the things that Bahar from Iran talked about in her episode of the WISBOLEP competition this year – these were metacognitive strategies. Her first approach to learning English didn’t work, so she actually stepped out of her position, reconsidered her whole approach, and created other ways of thinking and learning, and the results worked well. She applied some metacognitive strategies to her learning of English.
Meta can also be a noun, in gaming especially. People talk about a meta while gaming. I’m not completely sure about this because I’m not really a gamer, but as far as I can tell, a “meta” is the best strategy to use in order to win a game. I’ve even read that it’s an acronym – the “Most Effective Tactics Available”. That’s a bit specific and only for the L33T gamers out there.
There are also other uses of the word meta, but they’re very specific and relate to things like different mathematical and scientific systems. But I think that’s probably enough about the word or prefix meta at this stage.
Let’s now go back to the metaverse again, and consider how immersive 3D online worlds can help us learn and teach English. That’s the main aim for this conversation.
You’re probably fully primed for some metaverse and Mandalorian chat now, but of course there is about 10 minutes of general chat and catching up with Andy before we get into the topic properly. That’s just the way things are done on LEP. This is the way.
OK, so now that you’re prepared for the episode, let’s get started!
Learn English in the metaverse with Fluent Worlds Academy here https://academy.fluentworlds.com/
How many M words came up in this episode?
It’s like Andy and I only exist in a parallel universe where everything begins with an M.
Bonus points for any listeners who can find any other significant M words in this conversation.
(I found one: metacognitive strategies)
This might be the last episode of LEP in 2021. I’m now moving to the new apartment and the new office, and spending some time in the UK for Christmas. Speak to you in 2022 (unless I manage to squeeze out another episode during the Christmas break)!
Bye bye bye!
Author and illustrator Penny Dale talks about the process of creating successful books for children, including some of her most popular books such as Ten In The Bed and the Dinosaur series. Video version available. Audio version has 30mins extra rambling.
Audio Version (with 30mins extra rambling at the end)
Hi listeners, welcome back to the podcast.
Just before I introduce the episode properly, I have some Amber & Paul news for you. First of all, Amber and Paul will be back on the podcast very soon. It’s been a while since they made an appearance, but probably the next episode will be with them, which is nice. But also, Amber and I will be on Paul’s YouTube live show on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time.
Every Monday Paul does a live show called Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – you can find that by searching for it on YouTube. In the show he features guests and they respond to comments from the audience and generally talk and have fun. His next guests will be Amber and me (finally – we’re both going to be on it together) and that’s on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time. If you’re listening to this after that date and you’ve already missed it or if you can’t watch it live, you will be able to see the replay on Paul’s YouTube channel.
OK? So, if you’re keen for more Amber, Paul and Luke action – check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live on Monday 6 December at 8pm, either live or on replay.
Another thing – my merch stores are currently offering discounts, so if you’d like to get an LEP t-shirt or mug or hoodie or something – for yourself or as a Christmas present for another LEPster, now might be a good time because of discounts. Just go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch to find the merch stores.
Also, I hope you enjoyed the previous episode of this podcast – also with Penny Dale. I just wanted to let Premium LEPsters know that there is a premium episode in the pipeline, which will be called “What did Penny say?” and that’s going to cover vocabulary from our conversation about the Bath Arts Workshop. So, that’s coming. For all the info about LEP Premium, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
~ Jingle ~
Hello, so, let me tell you about his episode, briefly. In this one I am talking again to Penny Dale. This time we focus on her work as an author and illustrator of children’s books – and she’s had a very successful career doing that, which is quite rare.
I think this conversation is absolutely lovely – and I hope you agree. It’s just nice listening to Penny talking about her work, especially as the work itself is so thoughtful and done with a lot of care and attention, and it’s all for children.
Just to give you an overview, you are going to hear Penny talking about these things:
- The process of creating successful books for children
- Collaborating with editors and other writers
- Adapting an old nursery rhyme into one of her most popular books
- Inspiration vs craft
- Managing to create a coherent story which would appeal to children (and publishers) within just 12 page spreads (usually)
- Applying her fine art training to her work
- The way language is used in children’s books – incorporating rhythm, rhyme, repetition, storytelling and perspectives – the point of view from which the story is told.
- How she uses models in her illustration process to create the hyperreal and very detailed style that she is known for – in fact, several of the models she has used in the past are toys that she borrowed from a certain bedroom in a certain house.
This conversation includes references to some of her most popular titles, including Ten In The Bed, Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur Farm and Dinosaur Rocket.
The video version includes some pictures – that’s mostly Penny showing pages from her books, but she describes the images in some detail so even without the video version you should still get you a good idea of what her work actually looks like. But you can see the work in the video version. The audio version of this, which you listening to now, has more content in it – this introduction and there will an ending ramble from me of some kind too, so – take your pick. Video version on YouTube, audio podcast version, or both!
OK then, without any further ado, let’s find out about how Penny has created successful books for children.
Luke rambles about some upcoming content, the new Beatles documentary, and a few other things.
Amber & Paul on location in a famous museum – talking about some amazing works of art from various periods, including the Mona Lisa – that famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.
Don’t forget Paul Tayor’s Happy Hour Live (watch the replay if you missed the live stream) Monday 6 December at 8PM CET.
Andy Johnson will be back on the podcast soon (long term listeners might remember Andy)
I’m desperate to talk about the new Beatles documentary, and I think I will – when I get the chance!
Talks in English at the British Council in Paris – “Why we love The Beatles” <– my talk, which is scheduled for Thursday 27 January 2022 – 19.00
Link to reserve your seat https://www.britishcouncil.fr/en/events/talks-english-beatles or just go to britishcouncil.fr and then What’s On.
If you’re in Paris – come along to that. I’m going to record a podcast while doing it, I hope.
I’ve still got a lot on my plate! I will upload as regularly as possible, but we will see if the podcast gets disrupted by the move which is still yet to happen. New pod-room.
LEP Merch – Christmas present ideas? All the designs, including competition winners – they’re all there. Watch out for discounts in the merch stores.
Talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English understand the subtle codes of polite language when making requests and giving information in professional and personal contexts. In the conversation we explore the topic and consider some tips for making your language more culturally appropriate.
In this episode I am talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English to find the right tone in their speaking and writing. Tone is something which is very much affected by culture and often relates to things like being direct, indirect, formal, informal, the use of modal verbs and phrasal verbs and so on. In English the general tone is often quite friendly, indirect and polite, and this can sometimes cause problems for English speakers coming from different places where codes of politeness or professionalism are different.
Natasha has worked as an English teacher and has also worked in international contexts for the UN and so she has direct experience of observing people communicating in English and not quite getting the tone right.
So in her book, “Give me tea, please. Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language” she lays out a sort of style guide with theory, practical tips and a glossary of defined vocabulary at the back.
It sounds like an interesting book which could be a worthwhile read for my listeners, so I thought it would be good to chat with Natasha a little bit and explore some of the ideas presented in her book.
“Give me tea, please” is currently available on Amazon but from 24 September should be available from all other providers too.
Right, so now you know what sort of thing we’re going to be talking about, let’s meet Natasha Broodie and find out some of those practical tips for tasteful language.
So that was Natasha V Broodie, talking about her book Give me tea, please – available from all good bookstores. Go ahead and pick up a copy and if you like it, leave a review on Amazon.
Thanks again to Natasha for her contribution in this episode.
A Short Ramble
Design comp – link here for details https://teacherluke.co.uk/2021/09/22/742-new-lep-t-shirts-merch-lep-design-competition-2021-with-james/
Sneezing caused me to take a trip to tangent town…
Song – “Trouble” by Coldplay
Talking to English teacher Matt Halsdorff about a project to train native English speakers how to communicate better with non-natives. We talk about the reasons why native speakers are often bad at communicating with non-natives, what they should do to fix this and the wider issues relating to this project. Video version available.
Episode Introduction Transcript
Hello listeners and video viewers, how are you doing today?
In this episode you’re going to listen to me in conversation with Matt Halsdorff who is an English teacher with many years of teaching experience, and we’re going to be discussing the question of whether native English speakers are in fact the worst communicators in an international English environment.
Matt is currently working on a project with Christian Saunders from Canguro English. I think the project sounds really interesting and raises a few good questions about how native speakers of English and non-native speakers communicate with each other, what non-natives really struggle with in this language, and whether native speakers can do anything to help.
If you saw my latest video interview with Christian from Canguro English and you watched until the end you might remember us discussing this project briefly. If you remember, Christian mentioned a training course in communication in English – but the twist is that it’s for native speakers – more specifically it is for native English speakers who need to communicate internationally.
Because, It’s not just learners of English who need training in this language. Apparently – It’s native speakers too.
English is a global language, and everyone is using it for business and also for travel purposes. Everyone needs to use this language to communicate successfully so the world can continue spinning.
Everyone uses English, and everyone has to work on the way they use it, in the same way that we all have to work on our email writing and IT skills to make them as efficient and effective as possible.
As a non-native speaker of English, of course you’ve got to work on the entire system – you need vocabulary, you need correct grammar, you need clear pronunciation, fluency, confidence and so on – obviously, that’s what’s involved in trying to use another language.
You learn as you go and try to do your best and you almost certainly feel a great deal of responsibility, pressure, and challenge when communicating in English. You are probably keenly aware of your performance in English and sensitive about any kind of failure in communication and how that might be your fault.
But do native speakers share a similar sense of responsibility?
In fact here are a number of other questions which arise when thinking about this topic.
- Do native English speakers do all they can in international situations to make sure they are understood clearly, just like everyone else does?
- Are native speakers aware of what it is like to operate in a second language?
- Might there be other reasons why native English speakers don’t adapt the way they speak in order to improve shared communication?
- Who is responsible for the success of any act of communication? Just one side, or both?
- Should native speakers adapt their English? Or is it up to the non-natives to do all the heavy lifting in this situation?
- And if native speakers should adapt their English, how should they do it?
- What kind of English should they avoid and what kind is likely to be the most successful?
- And what about other considerations and questions, such as what happens to the English language when it is being adapted in this way?
Well, I am interviewing Matt today in order to discuss these things and find out about this project in general. First we’re just going to take a few minutes to get to know him, and then we’re going to dive into this training project for native speakers, which is called The Travel Adaptor by the way. We’re going to find out about the project, about what native speakers do and say which can be so confusing, how native speakers can facilitate communication with non-natives, and the wider issue of global English and successful international communication.
As well as getting into the specifics of this conversation, you can certainly learn about some of the major obstacles that non-native speakers have when understanding natives.
So there’s plenty to pick up from this. There is a YouTube version too just in case you need to see our faces as well as listen to us.
Let’s get started!
*This is a conversation about language*
Well, that was Matt Halsdorff talking about The Travel Adapter – a training course for native-speakers of English, to help them communicate better globally.
So, what do you think? I’m very keen to read your comments and I am sure you had things popping into your head during this conversation. Why not express them in English here in the comment section?
- Do you have experiences of communicating with native speakers in English? What was it like? Did they adapt their speech? What was difficult?
- Do you think native speakers should adapt their speech when talking to non-natives, or not? Why?
But that’s it for now. Thank you for listening and I will speak to you again soon. I’ve got a little announcement coming in the next few weeks that’s pretty cool, plus the usual free episodes and premium episodes on their way as usual.
Speak to you soon, but for now – goodbye bye bye bye bye bye bye!
Exchanging questions with English teacher Craig Wealand from “Apprender Ingles con Resa y Craig” about COVID-19, living in Europe post-Brexit, my daughter’s English, getting proper tea in France and Spain, teaching English on Zoom, the worst jobs we’ve ever had + more, with a song on the guitar at the end.
I hope you are doing well today. Here’s another new episode of my podcast for you to get stuck into as part of your regular English listening practice.
This is episode number 715 and this is the very first swapcast I’ve ever done. After over 12 years of this podcast, here is the first swapcast and I know what you’re thinking now. You’re thinking “But Luke, what is a swapcast?”
You might be wondering what a swapcast is. A swapcast, in the world of podcasting, is when two podcasters get together to record one episode which is then published, often simultaneously, on the two respective podcast feeds. So, that’s one recording that’s published on both podcasts. It can be a good way to introduce audiences to new podcasts that they might want to listen to, and it’s just a way for podcasters to collaborate with each other. A swapcast.
And that brings me to the guest I have on this podcast today.
Over 5 years ago now, in early 2016, I spoke to Craig Wealand in episode 334 of this podcast. He also interviewed me on his show as well … and then just recently we decided to do it again, this time in the form of a swapcast.
I feel like using the word swapcast is unnecessary but it’s one of those podcast things. Podcast people kind of like (often say) “OK guys we’re going to do a swapcast this week” and so I feel like “Ooh, I’d like to use the word swapcast too please.” So that’s why I’m saying it! Anyway… Craig Wealand.
Now some of you will know Craig, not only because you might have heard episode 334, but also because you might listen to his podcast. You’ll hear us talking about it a bit in this conversation, but here are some basic Craig facts.
Craig is originally from England, but for over a decade now he’s been living in Spain, in Valencia, to be more specific … Craig is an English teacher with loads of experience, and he also has a podcast, called Apprender Ingles con Resa y Craig, which he does with his friend Resa, who is also an English teacher. That’s in Spanish. Basically it means Learn English with Resa and Craig.
I really want to recommend AIRC (let’s call it that – as an acronym). I really want to recommend Craig’s podcast – AIRC, as it is also known, to any LEPsters out there who speak Spanish as a first language, because Craig and Resa often focus specifically on teaching English to speakers of Spanish as a first language. They focus on themes and language issues that are relevant to the Spanish speaking world. I think it can also be really interesting for non-Spanish speaking people too, and I think in their audience they have people from various other places as well that don’t have Spanish as a first language, but it is especially useful for Spanish speakers from all over the world. You can find Craig’s podcast in all the usual places, but his website is inglespodcast.com
So for this swapcast we decided to catch up with each other after not having spoken for 5 years. I won’t say much more, but we kind of take turns asking each other questions and our conversation covers things like living in Spain or France post-Brexit, my daughter’s English, teaching English in the post COVID-19 world both in classrooms and on Zoom, and plenty of other things. I’ll let you discover them all as you listen.
One thing I should say is that our interview was plagued by a few interruptions and background noises (on my side of my conversation – for some reason everything was very noisy on this particular day) including the sound of a vacuum cleaner (a Hoover), air-raid sirens in Paris (which make a similarly distracting noise) and also the postman arriving at my door to deliver a package.
*Luke rambles and rants for a few minutes about his postman, who doesn’t want to climb the stairs in the building.
Sorry about all the noises and interruptions that you might hear, but I think I’ve managed to remove most of the noises, so it’s probably not a big issue, and I didn’t even need to say this! But apologies in advance for any distracting noises, and also when you hear Craig and me referring to those interruptions, at least now you’ll know what we’re talking about.
OK, that’s enough for this introduction. I’ll let you now listen to this swapcast conversation which will also be published on the AIRC podcast, between me in Paris and Craig in Valencia. I will chat to you again on the other side of the conversation. But now, let’s get started!
Links for Craig’s podcast and website
So that was me talking to Craig Wealand from the Apprender Ingles con Resa y Craig podcast, which is available at inglespodcast.com and wherever you get your podcasts. It was nice to talk to Craig again. It’s always nice to talk to Craig.
Let’s see. I’m going to ramble a little bit at the end and maybe sing a song right at the end of the episode with my guitar, but I will leave it until the end. Don’t worry if you’re not a fan of my singing, that’s fine.
So, what shall I say? I should say that links to our previous conversations are available on the page for this episode. You can find them easily☝️. That includes Episode 334, and also episode 335 which is a language review of the vocabulary that came up in episode 334, and Episode 335 is similar to the kind of thing I do in LEP Premium episodes these days – going through a conversation, picking out bits of language, highlighting them, demonstrating them, giving more examples, collocations, synonyms, that kind of thing. So episode 335 is a bit similar to the sort of thing I do in premium episodes these days but with a bit less detail and no pronunciation drills. But still, I do recommend that you listen to episode 335 either before or after hearing episode 334.
So – 334 and 335. Also you’ll find a link to Craig’s interview with me which actually was published in early 2015.
And of course there’s Craig’s version of this conversation which will be published to all his AIRCoholics. You might want to check it out too because it might be slightly different to this one, depending on how Craig chooses to edit it.
I’m quite curious to see how Craig has managed to deal with the various audio issues that we had during this conversation, but Craig is a bit of an audio maestro so he should know what he’s doing. But, the vacuum cleaner, the air raid sirens, the delivery of my Herbie Hancock book and so on. I wonder how Craig’s managed to deal with those bits.
I actually had to cut out entire sections of our conversation due to the high-pitched sound made by the vacuum cleaner in the next room. I thought it was just too distracting. I thought, “No, I’m not going to publish that. There’s, like, EEEEEEEEEE. An EEE sound.” We don’t want that, do we? EEE sounds.
By the way, as you know I normally don’t record with other noises in the background, I try and make sure there aren’t noises around although long-term listeners will remember the sounds in previous episodes. I have been interrupted by different noises in the past, like for example the sounds of police sirens, sounds of police cars in the background when I lived in London and I recorded my podcast in my flat there, also the sound of my washing machine spinning like mad in the background, the sound of breaking glass and the bottle bins being emptied in the street below my sky-pod where I used to record episodes where I used to live, and the sounds of angry drivers beeping their horns and arguing in the streets below me and other things. So there have been noises in the past.
But in this particular case, we had a guy round to our flat to do a spring clean … and he was the one doing the hoovering, the vacuuming and there was just no other time he could do it.
I’m not apologising, in this instance anyway. I just thought you might be wondering who was doing the vacuuming, and if it was my wife. I just got this idea that some of you imagined that my wife was downstairs doing the vacuuming. But here’s a revelation for you – I’m normally the one who operates the hoover in our flat, so there. I do hoovering, washing up, dishwasher stuff, and my wife handles laundry, and we share everything else pretty much.
I’m actually not allowed to do laundry because of all the times I’ve ruined items of my wife’s clothing by washing them on the wrong settings … I’ve shrunk sweaters and spoiled other items of clothing … I’m oversharing now, but anyway, there was a glimpse into my domestic life. Talking of my domestic life – my wife and my daughter, I must get them back onto the podcast at some point, in fact.
As you may know, my wife is like the Royal correspondent for LEP. She’s just slightly obsessed with the royal family in the UK and we might record a royal family update at some point, in which we chat about Prince Philip, who sadly passed away recently, and of course the whole Meghan and Harry thing.
I say “might” because it’s not certain. I’m not completely sure that I want to weigh in on the Meghan and Harry vs Buckingham Palace controversy. I’m not sure what to think about it, and anyway, I feel like the world has moved on from the story recently. Anyway, it would be nice to talk to my wife on the podcast again soon, and it’s encouraging to know that the citizens of LEPland enjoy listening to her contributions.
Also, it’s probably time to do another recording with my daughter in order to observe the progress of her English. As I said to Craig, she does speak quite a lot of French, which is great of course, but for this English podcast we want her to speak English, right? As I said, she still uses a mix of French and English in her sentences, often switching between the two languages mid-sentence.
For example “Can I have some rigolo fromage, please Daddy cherie? Parce-que je like that, me.”
That means, “Can I have some funny cheese please Daddy, darling? Because I like that, me.”
… Luke rambles briefly about being judged for his dodgy French…
We’re still waiting for the languages to diverge. They will, eventually, in time.
Anyway, this is pretty much it now for this episode. Thanks for listening all the way up to this point.
I think I will do a song on the guitar now, so if that’s not your cup of tea then feel free to hit the ejector seat at this point. You can eject at this point if you don’t want to hear my song.
Otherwise, if you carry on listening I’m assuming you’re happy to hear me sing, and so I don’t need to be concerned about you losing your hearing or anything as a result of this.
OK, so I will say bye bye bye bye bye to you now, but stick around for the song if you want.
Thank you for listening as ever, take care, be excellent to each other, good luck with your English. I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now – bye bye bye bye bye.
Tired of Waiting For You by The Kinks
Chords and Lyrics here https://tabs.ultimate-guitar.com/tab/the-kinks/tired-of-waiting-for-you-chords-1055168