Tag Archives: advice

251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know about LEP

The podcast has been nominated in the Macmillan Dictionary Award and the voting is now open here www.macmillandictionary.com/love-english-awards/voting-blog-2014.html

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When I get nominated for this competition, I usually have quite a lot of new visitors to the site by people who are checking out the podcast for the first time. So, let me take this opportunity to say hello to any new visitors and to give you an idea of what LEP is all about.

In this episode I’m going to tell you 16 things you need to know about LEP. After listening to this, you should have a better idea of what this podcast is all about!

16 Things You Should Know about Luke’s English Podcast
1. I’m a teacher from London, living in Paris, with about 14 years of experience and both a CELTA and DELTA qualification. I’ve lived in Japan too, and I have experience of teaching adults and children at all levels of English, for general, business or more specific purposes. Students I’ve had in the past include Brazilian world cup winners, Scandinavian heads of state, top business executives and even a porn star. I now teach at The British Council and at a top university in Paris.

2. I started LEP in 2009 after taking a course in podcasting with The Consultants E. At the time I just felt like I wanted to have my own radio show, and I discovered ways of creating podcasts on my new Apple Mac laptop, and realised I could publish them myself on iTunes, and then get the word out using social networking. I started to get really busy producing episodes of the podcast. The aim was always to mix up teaching with general entertainment. I wanted to produce episodes that were instructive but also fun to listen to for their own sake.

3. I’m also a stand-up comedian, and I do try to use those skills in my episodes too, from time to time! I do stand-up comedy regularly in Paris, in English. This may not be obvious from this episode, as I’m not adding any jokes to it! From time to time I share some videos of my comedy on this website, and some of my listeners have come to see me perform my comedy live, which is great!

4. The podcast now has over 250 episodes, and I have a really loyal following. In fact, my listeners have lots of names – the LEPpers (yes, LEP stands for Luke’s English Podcast), LEPsters, LEPaholics, LEP Ninjas, PLEPS (people of Luke’s English Podcast) and so on.

5. Some of my listeners have created podcasts of their own, after being inspired to do so by listening to LEP.

6. There are various types of episode that you can expect on the podcast. Some are about specific aspects of English, for example – episodes about idioms, grammar points, pronunciation, vocabulary, and slang. In some episodes I try to keep my listeners locked-in and entertained by making up improvised stories off the top of my head. In some episodes I feature interviews and conversations with friends, family and special guests. Some episodes involve me just talking directly to my audience about whatever comes into my head. Some episodes are about films, music or popular culture, and some episodes deal with specific aspects of British culture and lifestyle. So the podcast covers a broad range of topics. Ultimately, I love the freedom of being able to talk about anything I like! The main thing is that it creates engaging content that encourages learners of English to do more and more listening!

Here’s a quick list of some of the more popular episodes of this podcast:
1. Introduction – this is the first episode I did back in April 2009 and it outlines my basic approach to LEP.
28. Interview with a Native Speaker: The Weather – this one follows on from a vocabulary episode about British weather and features an authentic interview with a teenager called Chris, and his odd views about foreigners in the UK
29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses – this is one of the most visited of my episodes. It teaches you narrative tenses (past simple, past continuous, past perfect) via a short mystery story that features several of the UK’s most beloved popular culture icons. The story is continued in the next episode.
71. The Ice-Cream Episode – an unplanned rant on topics such as: Amazon Kindles, robots & technology in Hollywood films and why we should put down the weapons and pick up an ice-cream instead, man.
83. How to Swear in British English – an indispensable guide to all the rudest words in British English. It’s extremely offensive, but extremely useful.
100. Going to the Pub – the guide to everything you need to know before you step into a pub in the UK.
118. Sick In Japan – the true story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital. It contains loads of medical and health related vocabulary, culture shock and a story which is engaging from start to finish!
125. The Pink Gorilla Story – one of the most popular ever, this is just an improvised story that regularly makes people laugh out loud, and which I really should convert into a one-man-show stage play!
140. Ghost Stories – just some scary true stories to keep you awake at night
167. Memory, Mnemonics and Learning English – revolutionise your learning techniques with these powerful memory devices.
174. How to Learn English with Luke’s English Podcast – this is your guide to improving your English using my podcast.
176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review – this is a very complete guide to all the main tenses in English
192. Culture Shock: Life in London – this episode deals with many of those strange aspects of the English lifestyle that foreigners find so hard to understand.
208. Travelling in Indonesia – one of many episodes about travelling experiences, this one has quite a dramatic beginning.

There are plenty more episodes which are popular with listeners, in fact everyone seems to have a different favourite. But that’s just a selection of some of the most visited pages on my website.

7. Yes, my episodes are quite long, but I always explain it like this: Firstly, all my favourite podcasts are long, and I think that it’s quite normal for podcasts to be about an hour long. Radio shows also tend to be at least an hour long too, so why not my podcast? It’s better for my listeners if they listen for an extended period. Why should listening only last 15 minutes? I can’t achieve very much in just 10-15 minutes, and I want my episodes to have some depth and rigour to them. Also, listeners can just pause the episode when they’ve had enough, and come back to it later!

8. I have a transcript collaboration project on my website, which allows listeners to transcribe sections of episodes and build a whole library of transcripts for other LEPsters to use. This is good for the transcribers because it is a big challenge and a good way to improve their English, and it’s good for the other listeners because we have an ever-growing library of transcripts which they can use to help them understand episodes. The collaboration is hosted on my website and is done using google documents.

9. I have won this award three times before and that is completely thanks to my devoted audience, who every year come out in force to vote for me. I hope to repeat the success this year, but I am up against stiff competition! Whatever the result, I’m just happy to have been nominated again.

10. The podcast has had 3 million listens in just over a year, since moving to a new audio host (audioboom.com) which is amazing!

11. I also have some videos on YouTube and they are pretty hot as well! My channel has had about 2.5 million views in total, but I haven’t uploaded anything for a while. The popular videos are ones I did in 2009 and feature me interviewing members of the public in the centre of London. There’s also a video called “16 Ways to Say I Like It”, which you may have seen too.

12. I launch competitions of my own from time to time, for listeners to take part in. The last one was called “Your English Podcast” and I invited listeners to send me short recordings of them doing their own versions of LEP. I received lots of entries and votes and the winner was interviewed on the podcast as a prize.

13. These days I record episodes of my podcast in a room at the top of my apartment, where I have great views of the rooftops of Paris from the windows. I call it the “SpacePod” or “SkyPod” and it’s the podcast HQ!

14. I have another podcast, called A Phrasal Verb a Day. It’s on iTunes and on my website. That is made up of short episodes devoted to individual phrasal verbs. I give definitions, examples and explanations. It’s a great way to pick up more of those tricky items of vocabulary – phrasal verbs. My goal was to record one a day in 2014. I didn’t reach my goal, but I haven’t given up and I still add episodes to the series when I can.

15. I love playing the drums, guitar, bass and ukulele (but not at the same time) and occasionally at the end of podcast episodes I play a song on the ukulele – but you have to listen all the way to the end of the episode to hear it.

16. I put my heart, soul, time, energy, humour, money and love into making episodes of LEP. It’s become quite a big thing in my life after having done it now for nearly 6 years. I enjoy a close and warm relationship with my listeners, I always welcome new additions to the LEP family, and in the future I plan to build my service more and more until I can perhaps do this for a living somehow. The future’s bright and I hope that many more people will join me on this journey to create authentic, entertaining and interesting content that helps you not only to improve your English but to enjoy yourself while doing it. So, I invite you to start listening today and like thousands of others get addicted to LEP – it’s good for your English!

If you haven’t already done it, I invite you to vote for LEP by clicking here. Thank you for your continuing support!
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186. Understanding Culture Shock – with Lindsay & Gabby

This episode is all about culture shock and culture shock experiences and I’m glad to be joined by Lindsay & Gabby from the All Ears English podcast. Right-click here to download the episode.

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Lindsay & Gabby from All Ears EnglishLindsay McMahon and Gabby Wallace are well-qualified and well-experienced teachers of English from Boston, USA. They’re also the girls from the All Ears English Podcast. Last month I was a guest on their podcast and we talked about being funny and telling jokes in English. So, I returned the favour a few days ago and invited them onto LEP. Lindsay & Gabby have plenty of experience of not only meeting & teaching foreign visitors to the USA but also of travelling abroad and living in foreign countries. In this episode I talk to the girls about our experiences related to culture shock. Listen to the episode to find out more!

At the end of this episode, Lindsay & Gabby mentioned an eBook which they’ve written and is available for you to download. It’s full of useful advice on how to integrate into a new English-speaking culture. Click this link for more information, and to download the eBook: allearsenglish.com/luke

In this episode
We talk about:
Lindsay & Gabby’s teaching experiences.
Our travelling experiences, and instances of ‘culture shock’ that we have experienced in different countries.
Examples of culture shock experienced by visitors to the USA & UK.
Some reflections and conclusions on how to understand and deal with culture shock when it happens to you.

Thanks for listening, and look out for some more episodes about culture shock coming soon to LEP.

182. Learning English with Yacine Belhousse

This episode is all about the relationship between language, successful communication, stand-up comedy and learning English! It features an interview with the one-and-only Yacine Belhousse, who is a professional stand-up comedian in his native language and now in English too. A year and a half ago, Yacine hardly spoke any English. Now he regularly performs in English and this year he is doing a 1 hour stand-up comedy show at the Edinburgh fringe festival. How does he do it? How does he deal with the challenges of learning English while also making people laugh in English too? Listen and find out!

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I’m really pleased to present every episode of Luke’s English Podcast, but this one makes me extra pleased. Why? I just think that we come to some particularly useful conclusions during this conversation, especially related to the attitude that you need to learn English effectively. I’m also pleased to present Yacine because he’s got a great attitude towards learning English and because I think he’s really funny.

Conclusions about Learning Language
In summary here are some of the key points about learning English & communication from our conversation:
– To communicate well, you must take responsibility for communicative exchanges.
– Remember when you’re talking to native speakers, you’re just talking to another human. They have no reason to judge you if you’re just trying to communicate to achieve something. In fact, native speakers have the same responsibility for successful communication as you. So don’t feel that you’re totally responsible for any communication breakdown.
– Be confident and don’t worry about making mistakes. If you do make mistakes, you can learn from them and that’s how you improve. If you’re concerned that you can’t be confident – don’t worry. Confidence is something which just happens when you try to do something. If you focus on achieving successful communication, and don’t get upset by failure – confidence will just come naturally. So, don’t worry about confidence. Just focus on trying to achieve things.
– Have an organised approach to learning – mentally store words and phrases you like in the “good things bucket”. Reject bits of communication that didn’t work in the “bad things bucket”. Perhaps revisit the “bad things bucket” to learn from the errors, but enjoy the contents of your “good things bucket” too!
– Repeat words and phrases that you’ve learned. Repeat them lots of times in order to remember them.
– Learn by doing things. Learn to speak by speaking, failing, succeeding and moving on. You have to be active. Use your English. If you don’t use it, you lose it. You’ve got to be in it to win it!
– Be positive!

Listen to the conversation to find out more.

Links
Would you like to play Yacine’s computer game? Click here to visit the game on his website.

Will you be in Edinburgh during the Fringe? You should check out Yacine’s show. Click here for information on Yacine’s Edinburgh show.

Transcript to #182. Learning English with Yacine Belhousse
The introduction to this episode is transcribed below. If you would like to write some more minutes of transcript, click here to visit the google document for this episode.

Introduction
Here is my introduction to this episode of the podcast.

“Normally I have native speakers on this podcast; British people, Americans, Australians and stuff like that. And yet, most of the people who listen to this are non-natives learning the language. I rarely have learners of English giving their voice, which is a pity because everyone has a story to tell and interesting things to share. …

So, in today’s episode I am speaking to a friend of mine called Yacine. He’s not a native speaker. In fact, until quite recently he didn’t speak English at all. By his own admission, his English is not perfect. Sometimes he can’t find the right words, he has some trouble choosing the correct verb forms or pronouncing words naturally. These are all the normal problems faced by people learning English. However, I believe Yacine is quite special and that’s why I’ve brought him onto the podcast, despite not being a native or near-native speaker of English.

But why Luke? Why are you featuring a learner of English in one of your interviews? Well, there are lots of reasons:
– I think Yacine has a really good attitude towards learning, and I want to explore that so we can pick up some good things about language learning.
– Yacine is a professional stand-up comedian in his native language but he is also now performing shows in English. In fact, this year he is doing a regular one hour show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, which is perhaps the biggest comedy festival in the world, and he regularly performs comedy with the great & legendary Eddie Izzard, who is considered by many to be one of the greatest stand-ups of his generation. Eddie Izzard is not just an inspiration to stand up comedians, he is also an inspiration to language learners all over the world, and we’ll find out more about that later. Yacine is very influenced by Eddie Izzard, and he often supports Eddie when he does shows in France.

Learning a language is a challenging thing for anyone. You know when you speak you feel shy and embarrassed sometimes because you don’t want to be judged (just like me when I go to the boulangerie). These are normal fears. But, can you imagine going on-stage in front of lots of people, Scottish, English, perhaps a bit drunk because the show is on at 9.30PM, and delivering a full one hour stand-up performance in a language you’re trying to learn?
– It must be very challenging.
– You’d need a lot of self-confidence and self-belief.
– You need to focus very carefully on how to communicate your message.
– You need to be able to deal with any possible breakdown of communication.
– You need to stop worrying about errors, and if you make errors learn from them but don’t let them make you lose confidence.
I want to know how Yacine faces these challenges, but also, for me these are the challenges faced by any learner of English, but they are multiplied by the fact that Yacine is also doing this on-stage while having to make people laugh. It’s impressive and I want to know more.

So, this is what I want to investigate in this episode:
– How he’s learning English.
– Doing comedy in French vs English.
– French audiences vs UK audiences – are they different?
– Is humour universal?
– How is good communication an essential part of comedy? How do you make a successful joke? It’s about successfully communicating an idea.

Footnote: Yacine has only been learning for a few years. He hasn’t attended any courses or lessons. He’s self-taught. My professional opinion is that he’s doing really well. His English is better than it was a year ago, and his English is certainly much better than my French!

Yacine might make errors during the episode, and that’s fine. I’ll help him or even give him corrections (“yes please” – he says). This episode is not a judgement of his English, and it’s not his comedy performance either – that happens in Edinburgh. What this is, is an investigation into his English learning experiences and the relationship between language, communication, comedy and language learning!

Click here to transcribe more of this episode using a google document.

Thanks for listening, and have a good day/evening/night!

Luke

yacine PODPIC

My interview on the All Ears English Podcast

Hi everyone,

Today I am featured as a guest on the All Ears English podcast. In the episode you can hear me talking about comedy, humour and telling jokes in English. Click the picture to listen to the episode on the All Ears English website or use this embedded player.

Luke Episode 122-2

You might already know All Ears English. It’s a podcast produced by two American girls called Gabby & Lindsay. They’re both English teachers with lots of experience who also do a podcast for learners of English.

Recently I got a tweet from Lindsay asking if I would like to be interviewed for one of their episodes, and I was glad to accept. It’s fun to be featured on someone else’s podcast for a change. Also, it’s good to establish contact with other podcasters. It was pretty exciting to talk to the girls on Skype and find out how we have a lot of things in common even though we are from completely different countries. Because I am a comedian (as well as a teacher) they were interested in hearing my perspective on differences between British & American humour, and some of my tips on telling jokes in English. Of course, there’s a lot to say on that topic so it is something I plan to revisit fully on LEP.

Here’s a summary of my tips on how to tell jokes in English. As I said, I plan to revisit this subject fully on LEP as there is so much to say!

Luke’s advice on how to tell jokes in English:

  • Be careful about telling jokes in social situations
  • Know when it’s appropriate to tell a joke. Sometimes there might be an informal joke-telling situation with your friends. That’s a great time to try your joke.
  • Be careful about the subject of the joke. Don’t make jokes about race, age, weight, gender or sexual orientation (especially in the United States)
  • Try to tell a spontaneous joke rather than a preplanned joke. The joke is more of an attitude than a specific joke. Instead, develop an attitude that is funny and lighthearted.
  • Make sure that you know the joke well when you are telling the joke so that you don’t forget the punchline.
  • Keep it short and sweet.
  • It should sound natural.
  • Don’t laugh too much at your own joke.
  • Be prepared if your joke doesn’t work, but don’t worry about it too much.
  • Look out for more episodes on humour in social situations in the future!

26. Are you a good learner of English?


Right-click here to download this episode.

Hello everyone. I’m really glad so many of you liked my Notting Hill Carnival video. I’m planning some longer ones which I will produce and upload soon. Before I do that, I hope you enjoy this one which is about being a good learner of English.

I was thinking about all the learners I have met, and what made some of them ‘good learners’. I realised that it was their attitude towards learning, and towards life in general, that affected how they learned the language. I thought it would be good if I wrote some statements that a good learner of English might say. You can just think about these statements. Can you relate to them? Are they true for you? Try repeating them to yourself. It will help you if you really believe them! It’s good for your attitude, and that’s good for your English.

Here are the statements I wrote, and which I read out in the podcast. Thanks a lot, and keep listening!

1. English is not just something I know, it’s something I can do. It’s no good if you can just learn words, and just understand what people say – it doesn’t stop there. English is not just something I know, it’s something I can do.

2. I love using new words that I’ve learned. New words to me are like golden coins which I collect and then use later. (cheesy!)

3. English is part of my personality. There is no separation between the English language, and me. We exist together. It’s not separate from me, it’s part of me. When I use English, it’s my language too.

4. I might not think in English every day, but I know that English exists in my sub-conscious and it helps me to understand and to communicate effectively.

5. I feel like a better person now because I can do more with English.

6. I know that I don’t need to learn everything in one go. I’m becoming a good speaker of English every day, bit by bit, step by step.

7. English gives me the freedom to become a different person when I use it.

8. I love to really listen and investigate the English that I hear. When I study something in English, I feel like a detective solving a puzzle.

9. Because it’s a mental challenge, learning English is a really good way for me to keep my brain fresh and young.

10. English gives me an opportunity to take risks, and I know that when I take risks I learn more quickly.

11. English is frustrating sometimes, but I enjoy the challenge. And what is life if it isn’t a challenge?

12. I like to ask questions because if I don’t ask, I don’t learn.

13. I don’t just need English. I’ve learned that I want English too.

14. We’re all individuals, and we have our own unique ways of learning English. I like discovering my own particular learning strategies and then using them.

15. I am a bit embarrassed by my mistakes sometimes, but I see them as a great opportunity to learn.

16. I like learning English with others, because it makes me feel like I’m part of a group of people who are sharing the same experience as me.

17. I love the variety, colour and history of the English language. It’s amazing to see how people in history have used it for so many things, and when I use English I become part of that long tradition.

18. Speaking English is a physical action. I don’t just use my mouth to do it, I use my whole body.

19. The culture of the English language is different to my first language. So it’s fun to think and act in a new way when I speak English.

20. English liberates me. It gives me the freedom to communicate with everyone, and connect with the whole world.

21. Oops – I missed this one! I got the numbers wrong… It should be: I know that if I had the time, I could master this language.

22. I enjoy finding out about things I love in English. I use the internet to help me to do this. I watch YouTube videos and listen to podcasts in English, for fun.

23. Sometimes English is confusing for me, but I can make sense of it if I have time.

24. The journey is the best part, not just the destination. This is true in English, but also in life.

25. Actually, I do use English well and I do communicate in English every time I use it. So, really, I’ve already started speaking English and I’ve already started communicating in English effectively.

26. I’m a brilliant, and special person because I listen to Luke’s English Podcast, and I know that Luke’s English Podcast is probably the best way of learning English in the whole world!

I realise that some of these statements are quite cheesy. Cheesy is quite a difficult word to explain. Here’s a list of explanations of what cheesy means:

-it has been said many times before and so now it sounds quite silly, boring or tiresome
-it is too sincere, and so it sounds ridiculous
-it is old-fashioned, or out of date
-it is over-emotional, or sentimental

Here are some examples of things that are cheesy:
-The emotional happy endings of Hollywood films
-The predictable things that Hollywood heroes always say, like James Bond making a joke about killing a bad guy with a telephone cable, and then the telephone ringing, and Bond saying “I’m afraid he’s a little tied up at the moment”, or when Arnold Schwarzenegger says “I had to let him go” after he drops a man off a building
-80s rock bands with big hair and spandex jump-suits (e.g. Van Halen)

Actually, the word ‘cheesy’ is such a big concept that I could do a whole podcast episode on it!