Tag Archives: culture shock

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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192. Culture Shock: Life in London (Pt.1)

This episode is all about common complaints made by foreign students living in London. It’s common to experience some level of culture shock when dealing with the realities of living in the capital city as a foreign visitor. In this episode I’ll try and clarify some of the confusions and frustrations relating to every day life in London. Click here to download this episode. Click here for part 2 of this episode.

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I lived in London for many years and while working as an English teacher there I heard a lot of complaints from foreign students. I also heard plenty of nice comments of course. But in this episode I’d like to focus on the complaints in order to try and explain or demystify them. Fair enough – some of the complaints are valid, but often they are the result of those students/visitors experiencing culture shock related to living in an environment that was not normal for them, or for which the cause was not obvious. It’s important to find reasons for cultural phenomena that you don’t understand because it prevents you from coming to false conclusions about that place. I don’t want people just assuming that the English people are just strange. I mean, we are a bit strange of course, just like anyone, but a lot of the things we do are quite normal when you see it from our point of view. So, what are those common complaints? And what are the reasons for these strange and annoying aspects to English life? Perhaps the Londoners have got it wrong and they do things in the wrong way, or perhaps the foreign visitors just don’t see the whole picture. Listen to find out more.

What’s in this Episode?
*There is so much to say on this subject that I expect it will be divided into two episodes!*
1. Some short interviews with my colleagues in London, in which we discuss these common complaints.
I wanted to find out if my colleagues could explain some of the weird or annoying things about life in London. You can hear our responses in this episode. Some expressions and phrases from that recording are written on this webpage (below).
2. My responses to the complaints, and some explanations.
I’ll try and explain the reasons for these particular aspects of London life as well as I can, and I’ll decide if the complaint is fair or not.

It’s not all Negative
The cup is usually half-full! Of course, foreign students in London have plenty of great things to say about the place. Certainly, there are more positive things than negative, but I find that when students have lived in London for a little while, and they start to come face to face with the realities of living here, they start to develop little gripes (complaints) about the place, which can confuse and frustrate them. Let me try and clarify!

The Complaints about Life in London (commonly said by students of English)
Here’s a list of some of the typical complaints made by foreign students studying in London, and some notes relating to my responses that you can hear in this audio episode. You might find some of the complaints bizarre – that’s normal. I found some of them really bizarre when I first heard them, but you have to remember that the people who said these things came from countries in which the situation is quite different. They’re all completely true, and very common comments. After each complaint I will judge of the complaint is “reasonable” or “not reasonable”, and then I will “reject” or “accept” the complaint. If you don’t agree with my decisions, leave a comment explaining why!

1. “Why do you have a separate hot tap and a separate cold tap? I’m always scaulding my hands.”
The old 2-taps issue! It’s due to the development of plumbing, lack of water pressure, and separate water supplies.
uk.answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20090125000341AAR51ic
Interview with Karen Robertson. Last year Karen contacted me after reading a blog post I wrote on “Two Taps in the Bathroom” on the London School of English Blog. She lives in London, but is originally from South Africa. She was studying a MA in digital journalism at London Goldsmith University, and was doing a video project on foreign students’ reactions to London’s plumbing system, specifically the two taps issue. She wanted to interview me for the project. I recorded the interview and I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to let you listen to the conversation. Karen has researched the issue a lot and is able to give some pretty good reasons for the two taps in the bathroom mystery! (Karen gave me full permission to include this interview on the podcast).

2. “Why don’t you have electrical sockets in the bathroom? How am I supposed to dry my hair after I’ve had a shower and look in the mirror at the same time?”
This is because we consider it to be dangerous and there is legislation to protect people from being electrocuted.
singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/electrical-sockets-in-bathrooms-why-not

3. “The food is so plain and unhealthy”
Why is English food so bad? Most of the famous stuff is based on ‘working class recipes’ – the recipes of poor people who had limited access to ingredients and who had to make food that would keep or was portable. This food is often specific to local regions, and naturally people are proud of their local culture and so they celebrate the food, and it becomes part of our tradition. The rich people had food too, but it’s pretty exclusive stuff and very expensive. A lot of our good food is seasonal. A lot is cooked privately, at home. Also, we have been very international for many years. English food is Indian, Chinese, French etc. We eat YOUR food, thanks very much. I think it was John Cleese who said that English food is bad because we were too busy taking over the world to focus on cooking.
answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110123154803AAwbAhZ

4. “The weather is miserable. It’s always raining”
Why is British weather so bad? It’s not that bad, it’s just changeable. Geography – we’re far north of the hemisphere and that’s just what happens up there! Deal with it. Also, it doesn’t get foggy in London like the stereotype. That’s an old myth. We had the industrial revolution which brought lots of smoke which combined with fog from the river. The result was old victorian smog made famous by Charles Dickens, Sherlock Holmes stories and others. The weather’s not that bad really, just a bit grey and chilly. The rain means the country is very green. The weather in Paris is pretty much the same.
answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110613075947AABr8zK

5. “Why on earth do you drive on the left? It’s like you have to do everything differently here”
Why do the brits drive on the left? We’re not that stupid actually. We’ve been doing it for centuries, ever since it was normal to ride on the left as a way of staying safe (keep your sword in your right hand to defend yourself on horseback, etc). It should make sense, right? Remember, left is right, and right is just wrong! Also, it’s not just us. Plenty of others do it too including India, Japan, Australia and large parts of Africa. Sure, most of the world drives on the right, but it would be pretty hard for us to switch. Actually, our government is considering introducing a new law so that we will all drive on the right, but they’re going to phase it in over a 5 year period. First it’ll just apply to busses, and then cars, and finally motorbikes. Those last two sentences were a joke. Well done if you noticed :P
www.straightdope.com/columns/read/634/why-do-the-british-drive-on-the-left

6. “The trains are always late, and when they arrive they are full and I can’t get on!”
This is the result of a combo of one bad decision by the government, privatisation and a powerful union for the tube.
www.gizmodo.co.uk/2012/12/what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-british-trains/

7. “Why are there so many foreigners here? I haven’t met a ‘real’ English person yet”
Why are there so many foreginers here? Oh the irony. You won’t make many British friends with that attitude, except for UKIP or BNP members but they might not want to be friends with you in return. Generally, we’re a proudly multicultural place. Also, London is much more multicultural than other parts of the UK, so it’s not an accurate representation of the country as a whole. Take a good look around before making a sweeping judgement! Also, this is partly due to Britain’s past, particularly London. At one time, the British empire spanned the globe. We’ve had interests and dealings with many foreign countries for many years. We’re tied to plenty of foreign countries in complex ways. This is reflected in the fact that we have a multicultural population. Many people have come from our former colonies. Some were invited after the war. Also, lots of people just want to come to The UK because there are plenty of opportunities here, and why should they be stopped? It’s quite hypocritical to complain about the number of foreigners in London when you’re a foreigner (even if you’re just visiting for a while). London has an appeal for many people and for many different reasons. It always strikes me as ironic when a foreign visitor turns their nose up at London saying, “there are too many foreigners here”. What did they expect? Diversity is an integral part of London’s history and identity. Do they really expect some kind of Hollywood stereotype of London in which business men with top hats wander around empty streets like it’s the 1950s, saying “Good morning” with received pronunciation accents? Wake up and smell the coffee. Welcome to the real world in the 21st century. Multiculturalism may not be normal where you’re from but London is a proudly diverse place. Regarding immigration, some people in Britain believe it has gone too far, and maybe they have a case and the local culture is somehow being swamped, or maybe they’re just using immigration as a scapegoat for other problems. Whatever the case, personally I find it very disappointing to hear students complaining about London’s diversity. The bit about “I haven’t met a real English person yet?” – well, what is a real English person I ask you? Also, if you walk around with that kind of attitude, you’re unlikely to make good friends with many Londoners, except perhaps UKIP supporters.)

Vocabulary Extracts from the Conversation with my Colleages
Look at the following language from the conversations. These are vocabulary extracts from the conversation with my colleagues in London.
Look at the phrases:
Which topics were they about?
Can you remember what each person said about these things?

Listen again to the conversation and try to notice the phrases as they are used. In the podcast I’ll explain these phrases to you a little bit.

1.
Time and time again
Maybe it’s because it’s a much drier climate
Damp
A lot of English people are lazy when it comes to …-ing
We don’t have any call for other languages
Apart from English, learning languages isn’t fun

2.
Let’s see
The server
Stuff like that
I tend to agree
I can understand that
Get run over
We’ve got that weird mentality
We’re stupid aren’t we

3.
Come up with (come up with a list of things)
What do you reckon? I mean, like, why?
In the olden days
Environmentally friendly
Have something on tap
Plumbing
To have running water
To count yourself lucky

4.
I must dash
I’m sorry Luke, really, I have to dash

5.
They’re always griping and moaning
To be honest, they do like England a lot otherwise they wouldn’t come here
Get irritated
Incensed
Now tell me if this is weird, or not, right?
Washing up liquid
That could’ve been my house. That could’ve been me.
How else would you do it?
Sorry, I didn’t catch that
You have to soap them all individually, then rinse them
It’s got soap left on! It’s got the residue!
Can I just clarify what we’re talking about?
Put them under running water
Run them under the tap

CLICK HERE FOR PART 2 OF THIS EPISODE.

191. Culture Shock: The 4 Stages

Are you living in a foreign country, or planning to live abroad for a while? This episode will be vital listening for you! Listen for some key bits of wisdom to avoid being affected by cultural differences. In this episode I talk about 4 common phases of culture shock that anyone could experience when living in a new environment, and how to make sure you get the best out of a cross-cultural experience. Right-click here to download this episode.

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What is culture shock?
It’s the disorientation that a person feels when they move to or visit a new place. It’s how you feel when you are dealing with a change of environment and an unfamiliar lifestyle. It’s usually associated with adjusting to life in a foreign country but t could also happen if you join a new company, or just move to a different local area.

The Four Phases of Culture Shock
It is generally held that culture shock affects people in a variety of ways, and that there are different stages of adaptation to a new environment. Let’s look at the four stages that are often talked about.

1. The Honeymoon phase
Differences are seen in a romantic light.
You tend to see everything through ‘rose tinted glasses’.
It’s fun to identify differences between your culture and the new culture.
It can be possible to make friends based on the shared joy of experiencing someone from another culture.
It’s probably the experience most of us have as tourists in the new place. In fact, as tourists we manage to avoid or overlook the challenges of existing in a new culture, as it’s all part of the fun of a holiday experience.

*I think there’s another phase which may occur at the beginning – and that’s the FEAR phase! This is what happens when the new culture is overwhelmingly different, causing you to feel shell shocked. You might be too scared to do anything, because of the risk of getting out of your depth, or getting lost or hurt or something. This can cause you to stay inside a lot and just hide from the world! This is how I felt when I first moved to Japan. I was very concerned about getting the wrong bus, or making a big mistake because I didn’t know what I was doing. It was quite stressful, but I was also having an amazing adventure (part of the honeymoon period).

I couldn’t remember as word while recording this episode. The word I couldn’t remember is INTOXICATING, which means that something is so exciting that you feel a bit drunk on the experience.

2. The Negotiation Phase
Here the differences between you and the host culture become obvious and problematic. This could result in frustration, anger, loneliness and homesickness. Unfavourable things make you feel like the host culture is strange and offensive. This is usually brought on by a bad experience that brings you back down to earth, such as a break up. At this point the culture can seem weird, different, stupid, or confusing. It might make you think, “how can these people live like this?”
This might also involve environmental things, like your body dealing with weather changes, light cycles or levels of bacteria. It might result in you feeling tired, irritable or sick. Language and body language can play a large part in this too. It’s important to avoid jumping to false conclusions about your host culture because your limited ability to understand them can cause you to assume certain things about them. E.g. you might assume that people don’t have a sense of humour – but it’s just that you aren’t noticing their jokes.

3. The Adjustment Phase
This is when you manage to develop an effective working routine in the new place. You develop your own problem solving skills and strategies for getting by in the new country. The issues that confused you before are now more understandable as you’ve developed a finer appreciation of the way of life in this new place. You understand the people more deeply, and this allows you to enjoy and appreciate their culture more. You might suddenly realise, “Wow, these people are really clever! Their way of life totally makes sense now!”.

4. The Mastery Stage
This is when you are able to operate in the culture without any problems at all. In fact, you’ve become completely naturalised while also maintaining your original culture too. What happens is that you become bi-cultural – the sort of cosmopolitain person who is able to adapt to different cultural contexts. You might have developed a ‘best of both worlds’ approach to your lifestyle, in which you incorporate the most effective aspects of your culture and the other culture. You’re open minded enough to realise that no culture is perfect, and that you can lose aspects of your own culture and replace them with more beneficial aspects of the other culture.

The Outcomes of Culture Shock
There are a few possible ways to react to living in a new culture. You can become one of three people (although I expect it is probably more nuanced and subtle than just 3 possibilities).

So, when faced with culture shock experiences people can become:
1. Rejectors
These people are unable to adapt to the new culture, and instead become isolated. They can’t integrate, they live in their own communities, they have lots of bad experiences with the locals and they find that the local culture is hostile. They might not even realise that they’re experiencing culture shock and just jump to lots of negative conclusions about the host culture, which then prevents them from really enjoying and adjusting to life. This may also be due to prejudice on either side, for example racism on the part of the host culture towards those who have moved there. It’s often due to a lack of awareness of culture shock and the causes of it. Ironically, these people have an even harder time re-entering their own culture, because they’re not aware of how much they’ve changed.

2. Adopters
These people integrate fully and lose their original identity. They will probably live in the country forever. Ironically, they might become “more English than the English” (if they’ve moved to England, for example), becoming excessively proud and defensive of what they perceive to be true values of the host culture, in an attempt to fully integrate.

3. Masters
These are the cosmopolitain types who adapt and learn to be flexible, moving between cultures, creating a unique blend of “the best of both worlds”. They remain open minded and have a tolerant and flexible approach to change. They might become nomadic, as moving to new places becomes the norm.

That’s it for this episode. Thanks very much for listening! Please share your culture shock experiences. Have you ever experienced culture shock? Where were you, and what happened? Please leave your comments below.
CultureShock2PODPIC

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.