Tag Archives: english

639. 3 Quintessentially British Books (that you might not know about) with Mum

Talking to my mum about some examples of quintessentially British things, in this case it’s 3 British books that she particularly likes.

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Introduction

Hello folks! Here is the last of this 3 part series I’ve been doing about quintessentially British things. I’m assuming now that you’ve heard the previous parts of this series and you know what this is all about.

If you haven’t heard those yet, may I gently suggest that you listen to them first? There’s one with my brother and then one with my dad too.

Now it’s my mum’s turn and since she is such a bookworm – she works in a bookshop, is a member of a book club and is a voracious reader, the three things she has chosen are all novels – books about British characters going through typically British experiences, mostly in the early part of the 20th century.

So if you’re looking for some interesting books to read in English, check out these ones which are some of my mum’s favourites.

Have a look at the page for this episode on the website where you will find the names of all the books we mention plus some other references and bits & pieces.

Remember you can sign up to my mailing list on my website to receive an email notification whenever I release a new episode, and that contains a link which will take you straight to the relevant page for that episode.

Now, without any further ado let me allow you to enjoy the nice tones of my mum’s voice as she talks to you about her quintessentially British things.


Book 1

J.L. Carr “A Month in the Country

Book 2

R. F. Delderfield “To Serve Them All My Days

Book 3

R.C. Sheriff “The Fortnight in September

Also mentioned

  • Withnail & I
  • Journey’s End by R.C. Sheriff
  • The Hopkins Manuscript by R.C. Sheriff

The previous episode with my mum about books.

The Withnail & I episode


Ending

So that was my mum and her three books. Let me say the titles again. There was “A Month in the Country” by J.L. Carr, “To Serve Them All My Days” by R. F. Delderfield and ““The Forgnight in September” by R.C. Sheriff.

It’s sort of a funny coincidence that all the writers of these books have initials at the start – J.L. Carr, R.F. Delderfield, R.C. Sheriff.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed listening to that and that you learnt a thing or two about the effects of the world wars on British people, and also that you might consider reading one of those novels yourself.

What do you think of my mum talking about books on this podcast? We did several episodes before together in which we talked a bit about books.

There was episode 488 teacherluke.co.uk/2017/10/26/488-a-rambling-conversation-with-mum-part-1-vocabulary/

And 489 teacherluke.co.uk/2017/10/30/489-a-rambling-conversation-with-mum-part-2-vocabulary/

Both of which dealt with things like my mum’s favourite podcast, some favourite people and different books she’s been reading.

What would you think of a fairly regular podcast series with my mum in which she talks about books she’s read. It could be called Mum’s Book Club. If you like the sound of that, let me know. I might be able to make it a regular feature, a bit like The Rick Thompson Report (and yes I need to make new one of them).

So would you like to hear more episodes of Mum’s Book Club? If so, let me know.

But that’s it for this episode. What did you think, overall, of this series? Did you learn anything about the UK? Did you get some good recommendations? Did you enjoy listening to my family? Let me know in the comment section.

I’ll speak to you again soon. Don’t forget to download the LEP App from the app store to get loads of bonus episodes, and consider signing up to my premium service to get regular monthly grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation lessons. Find out more at teacherluke.co.uk/premium

But for now, all that remains to be said is, good bye!

638. 3 Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about) with Dad

Dad picks his 3 British things to talk about in this episode which covers things like ancient history, British northern landscapes and the canal system which built the industrial revolution and changed Britain forever.

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Introduction

Hello everyone and welcome all of you this new episode. You’re listening to number 638 and this is the second part in the series I’ve decided to call Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about) in which I talk to members of my family about things that they think are significant or typical examples of Britishness in their eyes. 

I’m assuming that you’ve heard the previous episode in which James told us about 5 interesting English things, now it’s my dad’s turn and we decided to just go for 3 things this time instead of 5 to make sure the episode didn’t go on too long.

So you’re going to hear my dad describing certain aspects of Britain that include things like ancient history, the geographical and geological nature of these islands and how the industrial revolution changed the country.

There’s plenty of very descriptive language from my dad, plus quite a lot to learn in terms of history and geography.

You’ll notice that it sounds a bit like the Rick Thompson report at the beginning as we discuss what it really means to be British as opposed to English, Scottish, Irish or Welsh and there’s talk of the Scottish independence movement but my Dad assures me that his 3 things can be considered British.

We recorded this together in the living room at my parents’ place on New Years Eve and in fact we were still recording at the stroke of midnight, so you can hear Dad and me wishing each other a happy new year, enjoying some fireworks on TV and seeing in the beginning of the new decade together.

I think you know the concept of the episode now, so I will just let you enjoy listening to my dad talking about some British things that he likes in particular.


Standing stones in Orkney, Scotland
Norman Akroyd
Lindisfarne Castle
Hatton Locks

Ending

So that was my dad with his 3 quintessentially British things.

As ever I invite you to write your comments in the comment section if you have any, and don’t be a ninja hiding in the shadows like the vast majority of my listeners!

All that remains to be done is for me to remind you to download the LEP app from the app store to get the entire episode archive plus loads of bonus extras, and also to sign up to LEP Premium where I teach you grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation using target language which has occurred naturally in normal episodes of the podcast. To get started with that, go to teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Right then! Thanks for listening and I’ll speak to you again in the next one, which is going to be 3 Quintessentially British Things, with Mum.

Bye!

637. 5 Quintessentially English Things (that you might not know about) with James

Talking with James about 5 typically English things, including conversation about pop culture, writers, TV shows, British humour and more…

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Introduction

Hello and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast. This is your regular opportunity to practise your listening and develop your knowledge of British English culture.

This is episode 637 and this is the first of a three part series about Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about).

You might be wondering what quintessential means.

It’s a word that’s often used in front of places, nationalities or cultures.

For example, 

A quintessentially English summer

He’s the quintessential New Yorker

5 signs that you’re quintessentially Canadian

Quintessentially British or English is a common one. There are lots of articles and quizzes online to work out if you are quintessentially British and they all contain typical examples of Britishness, like cups of tea, Mr Bean, social awkwardness, the weather and so on.

So quintessential means a typical example of something. A thing which seems to be a perfect, unique example of something specific. Like for example a food which is uniquely British and is a great example of Britishness, like, what fish and chips maybe?

As I said there are plenty of articles about quintessentially British things online, but they always deal with the same tired old stereotypes of Englishness or Britishness that we’ve heard a million times and don’t always just apply to the UK.

For example this one, from BT

Let’s go through it quickly just to get all the usual stereotypes and cliches out of the way first.

The BT.com article

home.bt.com/news/news-extra/25-things-that-will-prove-if-youre-quintessentially-english-or-not-11363977287804

But in this series of episodes I wanted to scratch below the surface of British culture a bit, and talk about some perhaps less known things. We all know about the cliches, but what if we go a bit deeper and hear from some English people about their favourite aspects of their culture, be it modern pop stuff, history, literature or geography.

So I decided to ask my Mum, my Dad and my brother to think of some typically British things for us to talk about on the podcast. So that’s what you’re going to get. Hopefully some revealing conversation about a diverse range of British cultural items, but also some good recommendations of other stuff that you can check out in your own time, which could help with your English.

Let’s get started then with this episode with James, my brother. This is quite a long one but stick with it. I asked him to choose 5 quintessentially British things. The next two episodes are shorter as we deal with just 3 things each. But this time it’s 5 and this is what happened, and you should know there is sporadic swearing throughout this conversation, so bear that in mind depending on who you are listening to this with. Check out the page for this episode on the website to see loads of videos and links for the 5 things we talk about.


James’ 5 Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about)

1. Alan Moore

Writing, publishing, creating, the business of creating and selling books and magazines. Magic, art, politics, religion and the ethical complexity of superheroes in the real world.

2. Viz Comics

3. The Harrington Jacket

4. The Long Firm by Jake Arnott

5. The Fast Show

Ending

There you go, plenty of stuff to check out including interviews with Alan Moore, Viz comics which you can get from the  local shop if you’re in the UK, The Fast Show with some videos online, books by Jake Arnott, 

All that remains to be said is thanks to James for appearing in another episode. The next one is going to be with my dad and he has picked 3 quintessentially British things, then my Mum will be on the podcast with her three choices.

Thanks as ever for listening and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon!

Coming next…

638. 3 Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about) with Dad 

639. 3 Quintessentially British Things (that you might not know about) with Mum

636. James & Luke Discuss Star Wars IX (SPOILERS) Final Star Wars Episode Ever?

James and Luke ramble about Star Wars IX one more time. This episode is full of little jokes, sketches, voices and full spoilers for The Rise of Skywalker.

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Introduction Transcript

Hello and welcome back to the podcast. Here is one more episode of film club dedicated to the ridiculous new Star Wars film – The Rise of Skywalker, which my brother James and I recently enjoyed watching at a cinema in Birmingham. 

This is a mammoth holiday season megaramble with James about Star Wars Episode 9 The Rise of Skywalker. 

Of course, if the Star Wars films don’t interest you then this might not be your cup of tea and I totally understand. 

Normal podcasting will be resumed shortly I promise. I have at least 3 other episodes in the pipeline that I recorded with members of my family this Christmas. I’m sticking this Star Wars one online now to be followed by plenty of other normal episodes afterwards and the usual audio and video content for premium subscribers. 

But for those of you who have seen The Rise of Skywalker and would like to listen to a funny conversation with my brother, as we have a beer and go through the plot of the film, with plenty of little jokes, criticisms and details we liked. If you’re up for it, I think you’ll enjoy this one, with a few potential “laugh out loud on the bus” moments.

Of course there will be full spoilers throughout this episode as we talk about all the details of the plot. So, watch out if you haven’t yet seen the film. 

Big Star Wars Questions

So we talk about the film’s plot and make all the comments we have about what happens,  but we also talk about some big Star Wars questions which this film raises, like:

  • Is Luke Skywalker a virgin?
  • Who would actually consent to have sex with Emperor Palpatine, and when did that happen?
  • What happens when a force-sensitive Jedi has an orgasm? Could it be a dangerous moment, and is that why the Jedi follow a strict code of celibacy?
  • Why is everything in the Star Wars universe made of such highly explosive material?
  • Can droids hack into anything? Where’s the cyber security in this universe?
  • Why does a fat pilot die in a space battle at the end of every film?
  • If “the force will be with you, always”, why do they also have to say “may the force be with you”?

Also I should point out that there is some swearing in this episode and some generally rude language at times, so you might want to bear that in mind if you’re listening to this with children or the swearing intolerant.

So, those of you who are still here, I assume you’d like to listen to us rambling on about this final Star Wars episode.

This might be the final star wars episode ever on this podcast, certainly for a while. But I might want to talk about The Mandalorian when it’s available where I live.

Part of me thinks it is a bit excessive to upload even more content about Star Wars but I actually think this conversation is much better than episode 633 which was my immediate reaction to seeing the film. Frustratingly, in that episode I struggled to talk articulately about it because I couldn’t remember the complex details of the plot! I’m afraid you may have listened to me umming and aahing as I went through the plot. 

I also missed a few points and generally struggled to be coherent about this film, partly because the film itself isn’t very coherent. 

But this conversation with James is worth a listen in my opinion. Star Wars can be quite a funny topic, with plenty of opportunities for voices, sketches and jokes. We recorded it in my dad’s office in the evening a few days after Christmas. It’s a long conversation, but I reckon it’s worth a listen. 

I would say, if I was learning a language, say French.

I would say that I would like to listen to a couple of people discussing The Rise of Skywalker in French, while defining little phrases and other points as they went along. That would be right up my street and would definitely be a good way to do some focused listening and language study. If only that podcast existed out there for French learners. Why is nobody doing that? Hey French LEPsters – where’s Le Podcast Francais de Jean-Pierre?

Anyway, hopefully this final star wars episode will be a step up from the last one and a genuinely enjoyable and useful thing for you to listen to. 

Oh, and Happy New Year.

______________

Ending

So there you go! Congratulations for listening all the way to the end of this. If you like this sort of thing – reviewing movies with some fun along the way, you might like my review of Avengers: Endgame which you can find in the LEP App in the app-only episodes category.

Apologies again for James’ sneezing and blowing of his nose but I think we can let him off because he has such bad allergies. I should say thanks again to James for taking part in this episode. I should do and I might. In fact I will. Thanks to James for this episode, to Dad for letting us use his office, for the local Sainsbury’s for providing us with some local beer for the recording.

But that’s almost it for this episode.

Next up on the podcast we have a few more episodes featuring members of my family. I’ll be speaking to James again, then my dad and then my mum. They’re all getting their own episodes. The theme of this little series is going to be “Quintessentially British Things” and I asked everyone to think of a few things that they thought were typically British or that they liked about the UK. So prepare for some chat about things like pop culture, literature, theatre, TV shows, British landscapes, places and history. They’re good episodes and I expect you’ll enjoy them very much.

But for now, it’s just time to say goodbye…

635. A New Year Ramble for 2020 (Part 2) Motivation / New Year’s Rules / Bilingual Daughter / Neil Innes

Luke rambles some more at the start of 2020 about new year’s resolutions, holiday stories, raising his daughter to be bilingual and a tribute to Neil Innes (with a song or two). Notes available below.

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Episode Transcript / Notes

Welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast. Here is the second part of this double episode I’m doing here at the beginning of this new decade.

In this episode I’ll be continuing to refresh the podcast for 2020 with this double-ramble in which I’m talking about the kinds of things you normally talk about in the new year period – what I did during my holiday, my new years resolutions, some of my plans for the future for the podcast and also a chance to reestablish some of the main aims for this show. Also I’ll be talking about my daughter’s English and our efforts to bring her up to be bilingual.

This is part 2, you should also listen to part 1 first.

Do you have any new year resolutions?

Luke rambles about motivation and attitude in learning English

Avoid comment sections on YT, Twitter etc

Work hard, get a good routine, eat well, don’t drink too much, be loving with my loved ones, organise things with my wife, get my bike fixed, keep working on the podcast and trying to make it better all the time.

Here’s something I saw Billy Bragg tweet the other day. It’s some New Year’s Rules by folk singer Woody Guthrie in the 50s or 60s. I thought it was quite good and I intend to follow some of these steps.

What did you get for Christmas?

Paul McCartney tickets

My second chance to see him live and my first opportunity to see him do a whole concert.

I’m very excited to see an actual Beatle doing a show and I understand that he puts on a really great show. I am very interested to see which songs he chooses to play, since I am a big fan and I know almost all of his work. I think he does a lot of Beatles songs these days and has a fantastic band that he’s been working with for ages.

Any other stories from your holiday?

Saw The Snowman with our daughter.

What’s The Snowman?
In the local church with the stained glass windows and a live orchestra playing along and some singing. They put up a screen in there.

She is now obsessed by snowmen and said “sennan” whenever she sees one, woke up saying sennan sennan in the morning. Must have been dreaming about a snowman. Kept saying sennan! Sennan! When she spotted one in the street or at the airport.

My Daughter’s English

Is she bilingual?
Are you raising her to be bilingual?
How are you working on her two languages?

I am planning a whole series of podcast episodes about this, but let’s talk about it a bit now.

Principles

  • Kids need a reason to learn another language. French is obvious, I’m working on the English.
  • It seems to help if you do English in certain situations or always with a certain person. Major language and minor language. Outside, French is the major language and I’m not worried about her picking it up like a native. She goes to daycare in French, will go to school in French, will have French speaking friends going to French speaking parties. There’s no doubt that she’ll learn French. English is the minor language there because she will use it only sometimes, usually when I’m with her. Then in the house, English is the major language and French the minor one. I speak English with her, I speak English to my wife and my wife speaks a lot of English and some French. We have English books, listen to English songs and also i just play BBC Five Live, 6 Music or Radio 4 in the background quite a lot. She likes watching some cartoons in English and is quite obsessed by The Beatles and often demands to watch Beatle videos on YouTube, which I’m very happy about of course.
  • Also, when we go back to England she spends all her time in English, talking to my parents, my brother and just people in shops and stuff. Sometimes she sees her cousins and speaks English with them, but they live in the US these days.
  • In terms of her having a reason for learning English, hopefully it will be obvious but I expect at some point I will have to explain it. English is the language of her dad and all the dad’s side of her family. She is English as well as French and so this is a whole aspect of her personality and her family. Also if she wants to really get to know me she needs to do it in English. The other persuasive things are the fact that a lot of music, TV and films are in English and English can give her way more opportunities in the future. And, hopefully, I can convince her that it’s somehow cool to be able to speak English like an English person.
  • Her English is coming along. I think her French is a bit better at the moment, but the English is not far behind.
  • Bilingual kids take a bit longer to speak, but she’s doing fine.
    (Play recording)

Quintessentially British Things

This is a podcast series that’s coming soon. I think I’ve mentioned it so I won’t go on about it too much but…

Here’s a little preview of what’s to come for the next few episodes.

First there’s the Star Wars 9 megaramble with James, and then a series of 1 to 1 conversations with members of my family.

The idea was that I wanted them to pick a few typically British or English things and then talk about them on the podcast. They could be anything that they thought was interesting or worth talking about → quintessentially British, meaning very typical examples of Britishness, and not the usual cliches like tea, fish and chips, Mr Bean etc.

The result is three conversations about some interesting aspects of British culture, history and geography and also a good chance to get to know each member of my family a bit more, through the British things they like talking about.

So, coming soon to LEP → Quintessentially British Things

Neil Innes

I interviewed James, Dad and Mum for that series, but nobody interviewed me. If they had, my QBT would be Neil Innes, who sadly died on 29 December. Neil was one of my favourite people in the world and I was really sad to know that he’d died as was everyone else in my family because we’re all big fans.

Basically, Neil Innes was a musician, song writer, comedian and a sort of absurdist as well as various other things.

He was a member of The Bonzo Dog Doodah Band (later The Bonzo Dog Band).
His song “Urban Spaceman” was produced by Paul McCartney and was a hit.
Worked with Roger McGough and Mike McCartney.
Worked with Monty Python (the 7th python) and provided music, sketches and performances.
Worked with Eric Idle on Rutland Weekend Television, where they invented The Rutles, which later became a feature film. Innes wrote two albums worth of music for it. The whole thing was a Beatles parody, but perfectly done and the music was incredibly spot on. For me The Rutles music is up there with The Beatles. I find them to be as good as a lot of my favourite Beatles songs, and yet there is an added enjoyment in that they’re postmodern comedy songs commenting on the Beatles and their age, through a perfect musical parody of them.

Neil Innes went on to record several albums which had music videos too. The albums span many genres of music and there are a lot of really interesting, funny, and spellbinding songs in his discography.

Neil Innes was a brilliant songwriter, an excellent lyricist, and a very wise, aware man who seemed to live a fairly ordinary suburban life, while also writing psychedelic masterpieces. I think he’s a national treasure, but he’s still not that well known. Still, the papers published obituaries of him and there was a lot of stuff on twitter with various people announcing the sad news and wishing his family well.

But it’s sad knowing that he is not with us any more. I used to like the fact that he was in the world and now he isn’t, so it’s sad.

My mum announced the news when my dad, me and my daughter had been out to the park. She came in with a tear in her eye and said “Neil Innes has died”. We all used to listen to The Rutles songs at home and in the car and watched the film lots of times together. James and Dad even went to see The Rutles perform in London, which was mainly just Neil Innes and his band doing all the songs.

So, a long ramble about SW and then 3 episodes about QBT, which I think you should find interesting.

That’s what’s coming up next on LEP!

As ever, thank you for sticking with the podcast all the way to the end of the episode and for being a loyal listener! Don’t forget to subscribe to the YouTube channel, download the LEP App from the app store and consider becoming a premium subscriber in 2020!

The Rutles – Unfinished Words (lyrics) genius.com/The-rutles-unfinished-words-lyrics

629. Do you ever … ? (with James) Strange Habits & Funny Observations

A funny conversation about strange habits that we don’t often talk about, with my brother James. Notes & scripts available below.

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Yes, this is a long episode…

…but remember the best way to listen to these episodes is by using a podcast app on your phone. That way you can listen to a bit, pause the episode and when you choose to listen again your app will remember where you previously stopped. If you’re wondering which podcast app to use, let me recommend the Luke’s English Podcast App, which contains the entire episode archive and loads of bonus stuff. Just search for Luke’s English Podcast App in the app store for Apple devices or Google Play store for Android, and yes it’s completely free. Using a podcast app means that you don’t have to listen to an entire episode in one sitting, which is the best way to listen to longer podcasts like this one.

Introduction (after the jingle)

In this episode, let’s just ask each other a bunch of “do you ever?” questions.

This is going to involve using present simple tense a lot. This is the most basic verb tense we have in English, and we use it to talk about permanent facts and habitual behaviour.

In lessons at school this tense is often taught to students at low levels because it’s a really important foundation for general English, but it tends to be a little bit dull – not the way students deal with the tense, but the way it’s presented in textbooks. Usually, materials based around present simple tense just involve daily routines, what time you normally get up, eat lunch, go to bed etc.

Students at that level lack the vocabulary to be able to talk about habits and routines in a more complex way. When they do have more vocabulary at higher levels, the course books always focus on other tenses – e.g. past tenses for telling stories about the past, future tenses for making predictions about the future, conditional sentences and modal verbs for speculating and so on.

The poor present simple tense is left with this boring reputation of just being a low-level bit of grammar which we only use to talk about what time we get up in the morning and how often we go to the gym.

So, let’s come back to present simple tense and see if we can use it to talk about slightly more unusual and fun things.

As a teacher, the main problem I have noticed when students are using present simple tense is just remembering to add ‘s’ or maybe ‘es’ (which often adds another syllable to the word – like ‘I wish’ and ‘he wishes’ for example). Often it’s just missing 3rd person forms. Like someone saying “He go” when it should be “he goes”. It’s so basic but it’s worth self-correcting if it happens.

Anyway, this episode is called “Do you ever?” and I’ve prepared a big list of unusual behaviour which I think we don’t often talk about, but which I think many of us do, or maybe it’s just me.

Now, I don’t necessarily do all of these things. They’re just based on observations I’ve made. Also, some of the things in this list were written by my brother during a conversation we had ages ago about weird little habits that we have.

Let’s see what happens in terms of the language that comes out. Will we switch to other tenses at any point? What kind of vocabulary will emerge? And do you ever do these slightly unusual things?

***Interruption***

I’m interrupting here because, before we go any further, I think it’s necessary to say a few things about this episode in order to help you understand it all a bit better.

First of all, you should know that this is quite a silly and rambling episode and it shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Most of what you’re going to hear is just for fun really and I hope you enjoy it.

There is quite a lot of rude language in the episode and by that I mean things like the F word (you mean the word “Fuck” – err, yes – OKay, thanks. Just checking. Wait – who are you? Never mind, carry on!) So there is some swearing but for me that’s quite normal in an informal situation but obviously – swearing is still not a good idea in polite company or at work for example. But for two people like James and me chatting informally at home, swearing might happen and, you know – I want this to be authentic, as if you’re sitting with us the whole time. So, that’s why there is swearing.

Also, I think it will probably be difficult for many of you to follow this conversation because we talk about some very specific and quite personal things, sometimes we talk quickly because we’re in a rush to say things before the other one interrupts us, we talk over each other sometimes and the topic of conversation changes a lot as we go through each question quite quickly.

So this is definitely going to be a difficult one, depending on your level of English of course. But sometimes you need a challenge!

Generally, I think I am quite easy to understand when I’m talking on my own, even when I’m speaking quickly. I just have a clear voice. But when I’m talking to friends on the podcast I think it becomes a lot more difficult to understand everything and that might demotivate you. But you need a bit of a challenge from time to time. I hope the bits that you understand will carry you through the bits that you don’t understand.

But I do want to help you understand as much as possible, so I’m now going to read out all the Do You Ever…? Questions that we answer in this episode. I’m going to read them all out now, just to give you a chance to understand them all in advance. This can make a big difference to your comprehension of this conversation.

If you have already had a chance to think about the different things that we talk about, you’ll be in a much better position to understand it all.

So, let me now go through this list of “Do you ever…?” questions and I’d like you to concentrate and just try to understand each one and then prepare to hear what we have to say about them in the rest of the conversation.

You should also consider whether you do these particular little things or not, and if you consider them to be normal, funny or weird.

Right, so listen carefully – these are the questions that James and I are going to discuss in this conversation. Here we go…

Do you ever…?

  • Get song lyrics stuck in your head (like an earworm)

  • Aim at things when you pee

  • Use a special system for getting to sleep

  • Have dreams or nightmares

  • Wave at people on boats

  • Look out of the window in a moving car and imagine that you’re running along next to the car like Mario or Sonic, jumping over obstacles, or that you’re cutting everything with a huge saw or laser as you move past

  • Shave your beard into a funny moustache for a moment when shaving

  • Talk to yourself in a different voice, when nobody else is around

  • Wipe while sitting or wipe while standing

  • Imagine doing an amazing performance in front of your old school during an assembly or something

  • Avoid stepping on the cracks in the pavement, or live by any other superstitions

  • Go to the hairdressers and have a really bad time but say nothing about it

  • Drink loads of tea or coffee at work just so you get more toilet breaks

  • Smoke cigarettes because you’re bored, or decide to smoke a cigarette because you see someone in a movie smoking

  • Imagine what you would do if a zombie apocalypse happened right now

  • Count the number of steps it takes you to get up a flight of stairs or go from the sofa to the toilet

  • Flip something, like a remote control, in the air over and over again until you drop it

  • Do fake bets with yourself or your friends

  • Badly need the loo on the way home

  • Listen to songs and completely misunderstand or mishear the lyrics

    Fugzi – Waiting Room

    The lyrics are, “I am a patient boy. I wait, I wait, I wait, I wait.”

    James thought it was, “I am a pastry boy. I weigh, I weigh, I weigh, I weigh.” 

  • Open toilet doors with your elbows

  • Use the back of your hand or certain fingers for touching your face, as if the back of your hand or your knuckle are ‘totally safe’

  • Think “that would be a good name for a band”

  • Fall asleep in public and then suddenly wake up because your head has suddenly moved, you’ve snored or you’ve made another noise, or your head has moved back and your mouth has hung open, or you’ve drooled out of your mouth

  • Throw a ball of paper at the bin, miss, pick up the ball and try again from the exact same spot as before

  • Eat any parts of yourself – e.g nails, dead skin or bogies

  • Tap your foot to the beat of other people’s music which you can overhear from their headphones, in order to show them that you can hear it (or because the music is actually good)

  • Walk past someone you know in the street and go to say hello, then realise they’ve chosen to blank you (to ignore you)

  • Not move down in public transport even though you could, because you want to save space for yourself and because you generally hate other people

  • Fall in love with a stranger on public transport and yet do absolutely nothing about it other than glance at them and hope they don’t notice

  • Add your own voiceover track to films or TV shows

  • Doodle particular things with a pen while you’re on the phone

  • Hate strangers on public transport for no reason

  • Put toast in the toaster, it comes up not done properly, then you put it back and then it’s burnt

  • Lie on your back and throw a ball or maybe an orange into the air, and fail to catch it

  • Walk for ages with a stone in your shoe – it feels massive, then you take it out and it’s tiny

  • Find everything totally fascinating, just before bedtime – especially if you promised yourself earlier in the day that you’d have an early night


Ending

That was the LEP Jingle Megamix that you heard at the end there. I haven’t played that on the podcast for a while. If you’d like to know where all those little samples in that jingle come from, check out the Jingles & Music category in the LEP App. There’s a full episode there in which I go through all the samples and explain where they all come from. It’s called “Deconstructing the LEP Jingle Megamix”.

Well done for listening to all of that. I wonder how many of you have made this far, and how many people just couldn’t handle it any longer for whatever reason, and how many skeletons there are with headphones on right now – skeletons that were perfectly healthy fresh-faced humans when they started listening to this, who slowly perished as the episode went on.

But not you – no, you made it all the way through and there’s a good chance you laughed with us, and perhaps were struck by a profound sense of shared experience when you realised that you also do some of the things we talked about.

But well done to you, in any case and I hope you also picked up some English along the way – because, after all, that is the main purpose of this whole thing, of course. I expect the lower level listeners or the more serious listeners probably stopped listening because they couldn’t keep up or because they felt that they didn’t have time. I’m not going to get into all the stuff about the pros and cons of long episodes vs shorter episodes and things like that. Anyway, the point is – if you made it this far then “nice one” and I wonder what your favourite moments were from this episode. You could share your thoughts in the comment section of course.

Let me thank James again for being on the podcast. I always enjoy our episodes together and I hope that that comes across in the recording.

Right, time to stop talking. There’s no time to mention that you should sign up to LEP Premium at www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium. No time to that, but you should anyway. There are now over 60 premium items available and more premium episodes are coming, I promise. They just take quite a lot of work and preparation. But there will be more coming before Christmas.

All I’ll say now is thank you again for listening and I will speak to you again on the podcast soon, but for now – goodbye!

What’s the music at the end of the episode, Luke?

The music you can hear at the end is called Wonderland and it was produced by James on his Akai MPC2000. You can check it out (and his other tunes) on his Soundcloud page here soundcloud.com/jt-2000

627. Emina’s Long Journey to English Proficiency

My friend Emina Tuzovic has learned English to a proficient level as a non-native speaker of the language. She says it has been “a long journey”. Let’s find out all about that journey of English learning in this conversation, recorded in London just a couple of days ago.

[DOWNLOAD]

Introduction

Today on the podcast I am talking to my friend Emina Tuzovic, who is an English teacher.

For ages and ages I have been meaning to have Emina on this podcast for 3 main reasons:

1. Emina is absolutely lovely and it’s just nice to spend time talking with her, plus there’s plenty I’d like to find out from her that I’ve never really asked her before. That’s a benefit of the podcast, it gives me a chance to have in-depth conversations that often just don’t happen otherwise.

2. She is a non-native speaker of English who has learned the language to a proficient level – good enough to do a masters, a PhD, and to teach English at a very high level, to deliver workshops and seminars and just to live in the UK for a good length of time. So, she must have some valuable insights and experiences about learning English because she’s done it herself, but also about the cultural experience of moving to London and living there for what must be about 15 years at least I think.

3. She is a very well-qualified and experienced English teacher and so I am sure she has loads of insights into learning English from that point of view too, including certain areas of specialist knowledge as a result of her academic studies, including things like the challenges faced by native speakers of Arabic when they learn English. I’ve never talked about Arabic speakers of English on the podcast, so hello to all my Arabic speaking listeners (or should that be marhabaan.

As I said, it’s been quite hard to pin Emina down and interview her – mainly because our timetables are different, I live in Paris, she lives in London and she goes to bed so early in the evening. Thankfully the universe has finally allowed it to happen, here at the London School of English in Holland Park, London. This is where I used to work and where Emina still does work.

So the aim here is to have a long(ish) and natural conversation with Emina, touching on topics like learning English, cultural differences in the UK, teaching English and her academic studies in linguistics.

626. The Rick Thompson Report: Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal / General Election / Football

An update from my dad about Brexit, including details about Boris Johnson’s deal, the shutting down of Parliament, the upcoming general election and more. Includes some chat about Premiership football at the end.

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Introduction

Last time we spoke it was early August. Boris Johnson had recently become the PM and was going to negotiate a new Brexit deal after Theresa May had failed to get Parliament to accept the deal she spent over 2 years to get. Brexit, at the time was due to happen on 31st October.

I just have one question, which is “What’s been going on?”

Some Vocabulary

  • I’m getting a sense of deja vu
  • it’s a fudge / it was fudged
  • “I’d rather be dead in a ditch than ask for another extension” – Boris Johnson
  • Whips / The party whip
  • The electorate
  • To put/throw a spanner in the works
  • To upset the apple cart
  • A disreputable character
  • To stand your candidate down
  • None of this is spelled out but that’s what it means
  • You can jump to your own conclusions
  • Boris Johnson has refused point-blank
  • He’s saying Parliamentary Democracy is now defunct
  • The proroguing of parliament was null and void
  • Is that a political coup?
  • It would have been the biggest constitutional crisis since they cut Charles I’s head off
  • They didn’t get away with it

Ending

So there you have it. That was the Rick Thompson Report, recorded on Wednesday 13 November 2019.

The comment section is open if you’d like to share your thoughts there.

New episodes of LEP Premium are coming. To sign up go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium

Also download my app to get the entire archive plus loads of bonus extras like the phrasal verb series, various videos and also bonus app only episodes. You can also access the premium subscription through the app.

Thanks for listening and I’ll speak to you again on the podcast soon!

625. 88 English expressions that will confuse everyone (Part 2)

Let’s continue going through this list of words from an article I found in The Independent. Here is another list of 30 items of British English slang. Notes and links available below.

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Reminder: London LEP MeetUp – Sunday 17 November

From 2PM at the Fitzroy Tavern, 16 Charlotte Street, London W1T 2LY.

Email Zdenek to let him know you’re coming – teacherzdenek@gmail.com

Introduction

Welcome to LEP#625. This episode is all about British English slang.

Let’s continue going through this list of words from an article I found in The Independent.

Here’s the original link

www.independent.co.uk/life-style/british-phrases-english-language-sayings-britain-england-uk-different-a8138046.html

A note on slang

Every version of every language has slang and also cultural reference points that are unique to that language. English is no exception of course and because it is such a diverse language in terms of the number of different dialects it has, it is quite possible for there to be slang in certain dialects that other speakers of the same language don’t understand. For example, Americans might not understand certain things said in British English. Of course it’s also difficult for learners of English to deal with slang. It’s not normally the language you encounter in the coursebooks and so on, and yet slang is very commonly used.

So, a dialect of English like British English might be difficult to understand for anyone who wasn’t born or grew up there.

That’s what this article was all about and the 88 bits of English (either words or expressions) listed, reflect this uniquely British version of English that might be confusing for everyone else in the world.

But I am here to try to lessen that confusion with my explanations and examples.

You can use this episode series to quickly learn a whole world of slang, which will help you understand and be understood by Brits more easily.

And even if you’re not planning to get chatting to some British people any time soon, you can consider this series just to be a chance to broaden your horizons as far as the English language is concerned and learn yet more of this precious vocabulary – because vocabulary probably is the most precious stuff of all. This is the difference, often, between intermediate English and advanced or proficient English – knowing how to adjust your style of English to meet various different situations. A knowledge of slang is essential, I think, in order to know all the possible light and shade in this language.

As ever with these articles, there are always a few little words or phrases that I dispute or at least don’t know. Last time it was “dench” which neither my brother nor I use, ever. (I made several edits to the episode after initially releasing it, with some comments that my brother sent to me via text). Let’s see if there are other similar words and phrases that I don’t use, perhaps because it’s a regional thing and not said in my area growing up.

As we go through the list I will let you know which ones I actually use and which ones I don’t. If you’re using me as a model for the type of English you want to speak, you can perhaps disregard any of the ones which I don’t use. But of course you should always be listening carefully to the English language as it is used and if you spot any of these expressions being used on TV, in music, films or just in normal life then that’s worth noting.

Also, I think that sometimes I use these expressions but in a knowing, ironic way. For example, if I called someone “the bee’s knees” I think I’d be doing it largely because I like the sound of the expression, but knowing it’s a bit old-fashioned. It can be fun sometimes just to use these different expressions for a laugh as a way to add colour or humour to your speaking.

So I will also let you know if I think I use these expressions with a bit of irony.

In part 1 I did 30 of these. Let’s see if I can do the next 30 and then the final 28 in part 3.

I’m going to have to be quick, so pay attention!

Text in italics has been pasted from the original article (link above).

  1. “Faff”

to faff about/around

To “faff” is to waste time doing very little.

“Faff” comes from the 17th century word “faffle,” which means to flap about in the wind.

“We were just faffing about.”

Messing around

Stop faffing around. Come on, let’s go!

  1. How much time in your typical day do you spend just faffing around?
  2. What do you actually do when you faff around?

2. “Fag”

A cigarette.

A “fag end” is also the ratty bits towards the ends of a reel of fabric, which are the worst and the cheapest bits of the reel. Historically, “fags” were the cheaper cigarettes made of lower grade tobacco, however, the slang has spread to encompass all cigarettes.

“Could I scrounge a fag off you, please?”

In American English it’s a gay person (very offensive word) so watch out for that.
– “Can I bum a fag off you mate?”

  • What’s the nickname you give to cigarettes in your language?

A fag butt, to stub out a cigarette, to ask for a light, a ciggie

3. “Fit”

“She’s really fit though, isn’t she?”

Sexually attractive

When I was a kid we all thought our maths teacher was really fit.

Used to describe someone physically attractive, usually referring to their physique.

“He’s fit.”

“She’s got a fit body”

Obviously it also means to be in good physical condition, like an athlete.

Hot

  • Which actor or actress do you think is quite fit/fit/really fit?

4. “Flog”

To “flog” means to sell something — usually quickly and cheaply.

“I’m trying to flog my old sofa. Do you know anyone that might be interested?”

  • What is the last thing that you flogged?

Flog It (TV show)

5. “the Full Monty”

The entire thing, with all the extras included.

After “The Full Monty” film was released in 1997, there was some international confusion over the phrase in which it was taken as a euphemism for stripping. However, “the full Monty” actually refers to pursuing something to the absolute limits.

“The full Monty” historically refers to an old tailor called Sir Montague Burton. Going “the fully Monty” meant purchasing a full three-piece suit, a shirt, and all of the trimmings.

“Our Christmas dinner had everything from sprouts to Yorkshire puddings. If you’re going to have a roast, have the full Monty!”

I’m going to go for the full monty. A full English breakfast.

I very rarely use it.

  • Have you ever had a full English breakfast? Did you go for the full monty? How about a Sunday roast? Full monty?

6. “Full of beans”

Someone that’s energetic, lively, or enthusiastic might be described as “full of beans.”

This phrase could be a reference to coffee beans, although these claims have been disputed.

Beans generally give you energy (and gas) so the meaning is pretty clear for me.

“Goodness, you’re full of beans this morning!”

  • How do you feel right now? Do you feel full of bean? Or are you feeling knackered?

7. “Gaff”

Where do you want to do it? Your gaff? My gaff?

“Gaff” is an informal word for “home.”

It sounds cockney to me.

“What are you up to this weekend? We’ve got a party at our gaff, if you fancy it?”

I’d use it ironically because it sounds really cockney. It’s the kind of thing you hear in Eastenders.

Have you ever seen Eastenders?

Peep Show? 
'I'm gonna blow this gaff wide open. '
Veep? 
I've been running this gaff for 25 years.
Layer Cake? 
- That was quick. - The gaff is rotten in there.
Withnail &a I? 
Do you realize this gaff's overwhelmed with rodents?

8. “Gallivanting”

To “gallivant” means to roam, or to set off on an expedition, with the sole intention of having some light-hearted fun. I imagine someone skipping through a forest or a hilly meadow.

You’re supposed to stay and be a princess, not go gallivanting after pirates!

I’m going to gallivant right over (Game of Thrones S6E5) getyarn.io/yarn-clip/6b807166-bb4c-482d-99fd-ad1247186bcc

“Off they go again, gallivanting.”

I would only use this in a kind of sarcastic way, in order to complain about someone doing other things when they should be focusing on something more serious.

Off he goes, gallivanting around the South of France when he should be at home sorting out all the problems. 

9. “Geezer”

A “geezer” is a man that could be described as “suave” or “dapper,” and is often suited and booted. Men from east London are also commonly referred to as “geezers.”

A geezer is a slang word for a man, like a bloke.

“That guy’s got such swagger — he’s a proper geezer.”

I use this one quite a lot although it does sound quite cockney (other regional dialects use it too). You can also say “bloke”.

10. “Give me a tinkle on the blower”

“Give me a call” or “ring me.” The phrase is sometimes shortened to “give me a tinkle.”

“Tinkle” refers to a phone’s ring, while “blower” is slang or telephone and refers to the device that predated phones on Naval ships. Sailors would blow down a pipe to their recipient, where a whistle at the end of the pipe would sound to spark attention.

“Give me a tinkle on the blower.”

I never say it.

11. “Gobsmacked”

Astounded; bewildered; shocked.

“Gob” is slang for mouth, so if you’re gobsmacked, you’re shocked to the point of clasping your jaw in disbelief.

“I was gobsmacked!”

It’s a good word which everyone should know.

  • When was the last time you were gobsmacked? Have you ever felt gobsmacked while watching a film or TV show, like when a character dies unexpectedly?

12. “Gutted”

Not to be confused with literally being disembowelled, someone that says they’re “gutted” is devastated or extremely upset.

“I was absolutely gutted.”

It’s one of the most common and recognisable bits of UK slang, along with knackered and chuffed.

  • How would you feel if you got invited onto Luke’s English Podcast? Would you feel gutted or chuffed?

13. “Half past”

While Americans are more likely to say “seven thirty” or “five fifty,” Brits will more often than not refer to times in “minutes past” the hour (or minutes to). Eg, “half past seven,” and “ten to six.”

It’s unclear why Brits appear to favour analogue time-telling while Americans go for the digital format. (we don’t do it so much any more)

“It’s twenty past eleven.”

On the right hand side of the clock, it’s past (including half past).
On the left hand side of the clock, it’s to.

Quiz – say these times

Answers below

1:10
2:15
3.20
4.25
5.30
6.35
7.40
8.45
9.50
10.55

Answers

1:10 “ten past one”
2:15 “a quarter past two”
3.20 “twenty past three”
4.25 “twenty five past four”
5.30 “half past five”
6.35 “twenty five to seven”
7.40 “twenty to eight”
8.45 “a quarter to nine”
9.50 “ten to ten”
10.55 “five to eleven”

Sometimes these are abbreviated to “half past” “quarter past” “ten to” etc.

  • What time do you get up?
  • What time did you start listening to this?
  • What time do you go to bed?
  • What time does your lunch end?

14. “Hank Marvin”

“Hank Marvin” is Cockney rhyming slang for “starving.”

“I’m Hank Marvin” means “I’m hungry” or “I’m ravenous.”

“When are we going to eat? I’m absolutely Hank Marvin.”

I do use this one, and my wife has learned to understand it.

  • How are you feeling right now? Full, stuffed, fine, a bit peckish, hungry, absolutely Hank Marvin?

15. “Innit”

“Innit” is an abbreviation of “isn’t it” most commonly used amongst teenagers and young people.

You can add it as a tag question on the end of a sentence, no matter what the auxiliary verb is.

He hasn’t done his homework, innit.
He ain’t done his homework innit.
You ain’t done your homework innit.

It can also be used as a response as a way to confirm something.

“It’s really cold today.”

“Innit though.”

I think also we use “Is it?” as a way to show surprise.

“My mum won the lottery”

“Is it?” or “Yo, is it fam!?”

Sounds terrible when I say it.

I use “innit” quite a lot, but ironically, meaning I know I’m not normally the type of person who uses it and I’m kind of imitating Ali G.

16. “Leg it”

Make a run for it; run away; scarper.

“That’s when all of the lights came on, and so we legged it.”

We used to say this all the time when we were kids.

17. “Long”

I never say this and if I did it would be embarrassing. It’s the sort of thing I’d hear from schoolkids on the bus in London.

The same people who’d say things like “innit” and “blud” or “fam”.

Something that takes a lot of effort and probably isn’t going to be worth all of the effort, either, could be described as “long.” This could be due to the lengths that the person will have to go to in order to complete the task.

Something that is “long” is probably also annoying or aggravating.

“Cleaning the kitchen is long.”

18. “the Lurgy”

If someone’s “caught the lurgy,” they’re suffering from cold or flu-like symptoms.

“She’s come down with the dreaded lurgy.”

  • When was the last time you got the lurgy? Did you take time off work or college? How do you protect yourself from the lurgy? What’s a cure for the lurgy?

19. Making random words past-tense to mean drunk

Brits are known for favouring a drink or two, so much so that almost any noun can be used as a substitute for “drunk.”

In his stand-up show, British comedian Michael MacIntyre said: “You can actually use any word in the English language and substitute it to mean drunk. It works.”

Examples include “trollied,” “smashed,” and “gazeboed.”

“I was absolutely car-parked last night.”

sloshed, sozzled, wasted, pissed, badgered, rat-arsed

  • Do you do the same thing in your language? (Not get drunk, but use various words to describe it)

20. “Miffed”

Slightly irritated or annoyed.

“I was a bit miffed, I can’t lie.”

  • When was the last time you felt a bit miffed? What happened?

21. “Minging”

Something unpleasant, unappetising, or highly unattractive might be described as “minging.”

The term comes from the Scottish slang word “ming,” meaning faeces.

“What’s in that sandwich? Is that ham and tuna? That’s minging.”

It’s rude but sometimes people use the word to describe an ugly person, especially an ugly woman, but that’s not very nice at all.

“Your sister’s minging.”

22. “Mint”

“Mint” might be used when referring to something of the highest calibre.

Derived from “mint condition,” which refers to something pre-owned that retains its pristine condition, although something that’s just “mint” doesn’t have to be pre-owned.

“Those shoes are mint!”

  • Can you name something that you own that you think is mint?

My new Dr Martens are mint.

23. “Mortal”

I never use it.

Derived from the Newcastle sociolect, “mortal” was made widely known across the country in 2011 by reality TV show “Geordie Shore.”

“Mortal” describes someone highly intoxicated or drunk in a sloppy manner.

“Did you see Scott last night? He was mortal.”

24. “Nick”

in the nick = in prison

To get nicked = to get arrested

To nick something = to steal something

“The Nick” can refer to prison, while “to nick” also means to steal.

“Did you just nick that?”

“If you nick that you’ll get caught, or you’ll end up in the Nick. You’ll get nicked!”

Terrible accent by Don Cheadle in Oceans 11 (supposed to be Cockney)

That's a great idea, Albert. Let's all get nicked.

  • Have you ever got nicked? I have. You can hear about it in this episode.

45. Luke & Andy’s Crime Stories (with Andy Johnson)

25. “I’m on it (like a car bonnet)”

I’ve never heard or used this phrase (except the “I’m on it” part).

This colloquialism might be said by someone that has the situation under control.

“I’m on it” is definitely a phrase.

“How’s the report going, Steve?”

“Don’t you worry, Alan, I’m on it (like a car bonnet).”

Alan thinks “That would have been alright if he hadn’t said ‘like a car bonnet at the end’….. He’s going to have to go.”

“Don’t worry Alan. I’m on it!”

26. “On the pull”

Someone that’s “on the pull” has gone out, usually on a night out, with the intention of attracting a sexual partner.

“Pull” can also be used as a verb. If you’ve “pulled,” you’ve kissed someone.

“You look nice. Are you going on the pull?”

“Get your coat, you’ve pulled.”

Also: on the lash

27. “Over-egg the pudding”

“Over-egging the pudding” means embellishing or over-doing something to the extent that it’s detrimental to the finished product. Going over the top.

Basically though, it means going too far, doing too much, pushing a situation to the max, but it is said in a pejorative and disdainful way, like “Don’t over-egg the pudding Luke”.

“We get it — you’ve injured yourself. Don’t over-egg the pudding.”

  • Do you think they over-egged the pudding at the end of Avengers Endgame? Too many superheroes?

28. “Pants”

Rubbish; terrible, really bad. Poor quality.

“This is pants.”

“That film was total pants.”

How was the film? Pants
What about the match? Pants
How was England’s performance? It was pants
What about the pub where they showed the game? Pants
The beer? Pants
How about your pants? They’re  pants.
Actually no, my pants are great. They’re the only thing that isn’t pants, my pants.
That’s ironic isn’t it, that your pants are great but everything else is pants, but not meaning great.
I think it’s because pants in general are bad, but my pants just happen to be great so they’re
The exception that proves the rule.
Yes, but I’ve never understood that phrase. How can an exception prove a rule? Surely it should be the opposite?

29. Par (diss)

I never ever use this. I’m much more likely to say “diss” as in “disrespect”. So let’s replace “par” with “diss” instead.

A “diss” is a disrespectful comment.

“Diss” can also be used as a verb, eg, “You just got dissed.” “Are you dissing my English?”

It comes from the word disrespect or disrespected.

“I don’t mean this as a diss, but did you remember to wash this morning?”

I don’t think I would use it unironically.

Are you dissing me?

30. “Pear-shaped”

A situation which has quickly evolved into an accident waiting to happen might be described as “gone pear-shaped.”

The phrase is reportedly old slang from the Royal Air Force and was used to described awry expeditions and flights.

“Well, this has all gone a bit pear-shaped.”

Simon, where have you been?
Well, I went out to buy some milk but things got a bit pear shaped and I ended up going to Area 51.

To be continued in part 3…