Tag Archives: grammar

263. Past, Present & Future – Verb Tenses

LEP is back! You might be wondering where I’ve been, or what’s going on at LEP headquarters. In this episode I’m going to explain my absence, fill you in on what’s going on at the moment, and also talk a bit about what’s coming up in the future. [RIGHT-CLICK TO DOWNLOAD]

Small Donate ButtonLanguage Focus
As I talk during this episode I’m going to use a range of different language (some tenses and vocabulary) that relates to the past, the present and the future. See if you can notice the different language I use. What are the different ways that I refer to the past, present and future? I’m trying not to plan this language too much, I’m just going to see what expressions and phrases come out of my mouth naturally. At the end of the episode I’ll review that language so that you can pick it up and start using it yourselves, broadening your English in the process. So, not only am I giving you some news, we’re also doing some language study. You could say that we’re killing two birds with one stone (and not for the first time on LEP).

Here’s the plan for this episode
– Explain why I disappeared for about a month (The past)
– Talk about what’s going on at the moment (The present)
– Mention a few plans, intentions and upcoming events (The future)
– Present and review some grammar & vocabulary

Listen to Everything!
Please listen to the full episode to get the complete experience – remember, this is a podcast and not a blog. It’s all about listening!

Where have you been Luke? (The Past)
– I’ve been super-busy and I haven’t had a chance to get into the sky pod to record anything for a month. I’ve had to focus on other things. It’s been a busy and important time.
– First of all, I got sick with flu. That knocked me off my feet for quite a few days. I lost my voice etc. The #1 priority was to get better and rest! So, everything stopped.
– I had to take time off work – and all those cancelled classes had to be replaced. So, I worked way more than normal. No free time! Also, when I wasn’t working I was knackered and needed to rest!
– I got over the flu, but the cold came back. I’ve still got it now. :(
– By the way – I’m not complaining! I promise! I’m just explaining why I disappeared and I’m being transparent. I think if you understand my situation more clearly it can help you understand my service better.
– Also – I got married! (part 1 – explain a little bit)
So, that’s why I haven’t done a podcast for a while! Sometimes, life is just completely full. Remember, it takes a few hours in total to prepare, record, upload and distribute episodes of LEP. That time is rather precious.

What’s going on at the moment? (The Present)
– I’m still getting over the flu
– I’m doing exams this week (which means that I’m going to have tons of marking to do).
– I’m dealing with the other courses I’m teaching.
– I’m enjoying the extra hours of daylight and sunshine that we’re having.
– I’m enjoying married life very much (although it’s not that different to normal life to be honest)
– My online teaching colleague Gabby Wallace (of Go Natural English) is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book she’d like to write. Click here to contribute to the Kickstarter campaign. When she gets enough money she’ll publish the book. It looks good, and this is something I have been intending to do for ages. If it works for her, there’s a good chance I’ll be doing it too! This is a new (and very cool) model of publishing learning-English materials and for it to work we need everyone’s support – from teachers, but also from you the learners too.

Don’t forget, that Audible offer still stands. If you go to audibletrial.com/teacherluke you can sign up to a free 30 day free trial which includes a free download of any audiobook of your choice, and they have over 150,000 titles to choose from. So, check out audibletrial.com/teacherluke or just click one of the audible buttons on my website. You can find all the details and frequently asked questions about this audiobook offer on my website.

What’s coming up over the next few weeks and months? (The Future)
– Wedding part 2 (the big one) is planned for July and that’s fast approaching! So the madness is going to start up again soon. We’ve got loads of things that still need to be done. There are quite a lot of of loose ends that need to be tied up. Ultimately, we’re both just really looking forward to being able to celebrate with our friends and family, and we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather.
– I’m going to have loads of marking to do, which means I might not have much time in the next few weeks either.
– The end of the university term is in sight, and then I’ll have a bit more breathing space. The thing is, my working plans are still undecided. I’m not completely sure how much I will be working. Will I give up one of my jobs to allow me to focus on online projects? Which one? Will I be able to get by? I’m not sure, but let’s see.
– By the way, I realise that sometimes these podcast episodes are a bit self-centred and I don’t really like that. But sometimes it’s just necessary to explain what’s going on in my life as a way of contextualising the service, so you know exactly what you’re getting.
– The spring holidays are just around the corner. The university will be closed for a couple of weeks. So, I’ve got some time off coming up but I’ll be focusing on marking.
– Preparations for my stag do are underway. The plan is to stay in a house in the countryside, do some outdoor activities and adventure stuff, and no-doubt spend a good deal of time in the pub. My brother is in charge. I’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for me.
– I’m seeing Kings of Convenience with my wife in May. I can’t believe I’m finally seeing them. They’re probably my (our) favourite group and they don’t tour much.
– I’ve got a few gigs in the diary. I’d like to work on new material. We will have to see about that. The Paris stand-up scene in English is developing more and more all the time. One of these days I will fulfil my dream of having my own one man show, but that requires time for marketing and publicising. I’d love to do two things: Develop a strong one hour show of written material, and regularly record podcast episodes live in front of an audience (interviews, improvised stuff and so on).
– After all this work I’m hoping to devote more time to LEP and LEP related projects – not just doing new episodes but producing other content with a view to giving you opportunities to improve your English in other ways – cool ways that will be beneficial to both you and me.
– Summer is well on its way. In fact, we’re having a little taste of it here and it’s about time!
– A bunch of new Star Wars movies are in the pipeline. In fact, the first one is due this December. I’m trying not to get too drawn into the hype.
– The next big Marvel movie is about to be released, and that will be followed by loads of others. If you thought you’d already seen enough superhero movies, well you ain’t seen nothing yet!
– The UK general election is nearly upon us.
– The EU referendum is on the horizon.

Language Review – Structures and Vocabulary for Talking About The Past, Present & Future
Did you notice the language I used? Let’s re-cap. This might not be everything. If you noticed other stuff then add it in the comments section. Also, try repeating these lines after me, and try using them when you speak English too. That’s the best way to actually add these phrases to your active vocabulary. If you don’t use it, you lose it.

The Past
Present perfect and present perfect continuous – these are both used to refer to actions in a time period that starts in the past and ends now. It’s used to explain recent news. The actions may be finished, but the time period is connected to now because it’s from the recent past until now. We use this tense for ‘catching up on someone’s news’. We often use present perfect with time expressions like ‘for ages’ and ‘for a while’, especially in the negative form.
“I haven’t seen you for ages!”
“How have you been?”
“I’ve been meaning to call you for a while now”
“What have you been up to?”
“What have you been doing?”
“I’ve been super-busy and I haven’t had a chance to get into the skypod to record anything for a month. I’ve had to focus on other things. It’s been a really busy time.”

Past simple tense for actions in a sequence.
These are finished actions that are not connected to now. It’s a sequence of events. It’s not connected to now. The whole sequence is finished. Finished actions – finished time.
“- First of all, I got sick with flu. That knocked me off my feet for quite a few days. I lost my voice etc. The #1 priority was to get better and rest! So, everything stopped.
– I had to take time off work – and all those cancelled classes had to be replaced. So, I worked way more than normal. No free time! Also, when I wasn’t working I was knackered and needed to rest!
– I got over the flu, but the cold came back. I’ve still got it now.”

The Present
Present continuous – be + -ing
This is the most common way to talk about temporary actions and situations right now.
– I’m still getting over the flu
– I’m doing exams this week (which means that I’m going to have tons of marking to do)
– I’m dealing with the other courses I’m teaching
– I’m enjoying the extra hours of daylight and sunshine that we’re having

Obviously, we have present simple for permanent facts and situations too. No need to go into that.

Other language:
Preparations for my stag do are underway.

The Future
In terms of tenses, there’s:
‘will’  (predictions, promises, facts, judgements about the future)
“I’ll have a bit more breathing space.”
‘going to’ (intentions, plans, things you’ve decided to do, predictions based on evidence)
‘present continuous’ (also plans, future plans which are fixed)
“I’m seeing Kings of Convenience with my wife in May”
Modal verbs for different levels of certainty about the future:
“I might not have much time in the next few weeks either”
Future continuous ‘will + be + -ing’ (a bit like ‘going to’ for fixed plans)
“I’ll be focusing on marking”

Other language for talking about the future:
it’s planned
it’s fast approaching
we’ve got things which need to be done
there are lots of loose ends that need to be tied up
we’re both just really looking forward to being able to celebrate with our friends and family
we are keeping our fingers crossed for good weather
The end of the university term is in sight
let’s see
The spring holidays are just around the corner
I’ve got some time off coming up
The plan is to stay in a house in the countryside
I’ll just have to wait and see what’s in store for me
I’ve got a few gigs in the diary
We will have to see about that
One of these days I will fulfil my dream of having my own one man show
I’m hoping to devote more time to LEP
Summer is well on its way
A bunch of new Star Wars movies are in the pipeline. In fact, the first one is due this December
The next big Marvel movie is about to be released
you ain’t seen nothing yet
The UK general election is nearly upon us.
The EU referendum is on the horizon.

Song – You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet by Bachman Turner Overdrive

Click here for the lyrics

pastpresentfuturepic

Please leave your comments, thoughts and questions below!

253. Rapping with Fluency MC!

Chatting and rapping with Jason R. Levine aka Fluency MC! [Download]

Small Donate ButtonI’m feeling pretty excited today because I’ve got a bit of a celebrity on the podcast. Jason R. Levine, also known as Fluency MC is something of a legend in the world of online English language teaching. He’s become pretty well known on YouTube in particular for his videos in which he uses hip hop to bring a fresh approach to teaching English. Jason raps his English lessons, and many of those raps have become YouTube sensations – for example “Stick stuck stuck” the past participle rap (over 2.5million views on Youtube), and the present perfect rap which is a full on explanation of the grammar rules for the present perfect tense, delivered in rhyme. But, Jason is not only a teacher who raps – a look at Jason’s CV shows that he is involved in a number of very interesting English teaching projects – he leads workshops, has published material and is an English specialist for the US department of State – which makes him sound like a government agent, and he has a very interesting academic and personal background which has led him to take this fresh new approach to language teaching. On the musical side, Jason raps but he also plays the drums like me, and he DJs and produces his own tunes. There’s so much to ask him and so much to talk about, and hopefully Jason will do some rapping on Luke’s English Podcast too, and who knows – I might even get involved in that as well. You can look forward to all of it in this episode. (In fact, if you listen to the whole episode you will hear both Jason and me rapping on some of my brother’s music)

I’ve never met Jason before, this is the first time I’ve spoken to him in fact. I always thought Jason lived in New York, but a while ago I was on Facebook and I saw a photo of him in Paris and I assumed he’d visited for work or for a holiday, so I sent him a message saying “next time you’re in Paris, how about an interview for LEP” and he wrote back saying “Actually, I live in Paris”. Needless to say I was pretty surprised. What are the chances of that!? So naturally, I thought I’d take the opportunity to hook up with him and interview him for the podcast, and he’s sitting right next to me now so let’s get started…

Links
Click here for Jason’s YouTube Channel
Click here for colloandspark.com Jason’s website
This is FluencyMC’s Facebook page

Questions & Stuff
These are some questions that we covered in this episode of the podcast.
I’m really chuffed to have you on the podcast Jason, because as we heard in my introduction you’re sort of a living legend of English teaching. Are you famous?
What are you most known for?
What other projects are you involved in?
Where are you from?
What did you study at university?
How does psychology come into your teaching method?
How long have you been teaching?
How did you get into it?
When did you first start rapping in the classroom? Was there one particular time when you first did it? What happened?
You travel quite a lot, teaching in different locations. Do you always rap in class?
How would you describe your approach to teaching?
How is rapping a part of that?
What are the reactions of your students to your method?
What’s collo and spark? Can you explain that?
Is it related to mnemonics?

FluencyMC on YouTube
This is the original video of Jason rapping “Stick stuck stuck” – just about 3.5minutes of one of his lessons.

Luke’s Rapping (Lyrics Below)

Here are the lyrics of my rap at the end of this episode!

The Well-Spoken MC (Lyrics)
Microphone check one two one two
Let me introduce myself to you
My name’s Luke
I’m an ordinary dude
I like food, I wear shoes
I like to watch YouTube
I’m just like you,
or maybe Doctor Who
when I’m in a good suit
I’m feeling in the mood

from time to time
I like to unwind
I Drink a bit of wine
and try to write a rhyme
and when I combine
all of this all online
then surely it’s a sign
it’s my time to shine,
cos I like to feel fine
I do it all the time
and in my mind
I’m going to get mine

It’s just a natural fact
and I like it like that
so relax and sit back
and listen to this track
It’s just a natural fact
and I like it like that
so relax and sit back
and listen…

I get dizzy
with a bit of thin Lizzy,
while drinking some fizzy
getting busy with Queen Lizzy
I’m a gentleman
With a lesson plan
I’ll Help you understand it with a diagram
Of different tenses
and complex senses
or ways of saying sentences with different kinds of emphases
Yes
You could say I’m blessed
With a CELTA and a DELTA and my CV’s fresh!
I teach pronunciation
Throughout the nation
To stop alienation
Caused by poor articulation
It’s just a natural fact
and I like it like that
so relax and sit back
and listen to this track

Cos I speak like a native
and I’m here to get creative
and I have already stated
that I’m very qualificated
I’ve got a wide CV
an even wider TV
which I’d like you to see
in Confidentiality
Because between you and me
and the deep blue sea
One day I’m going to be
On the BBC

Because I’ve got that BBC style
The one that makes you think for a little while
about the way most newsreaders speak
It sounds as if they’re trying to repeat
Sentences of information But With crazy intonation
and weird enunciation that’s clearly fascinating
And at the end of every news report
There is a summary of sorts
Of all the main sports, and some afterthoughts
Where the main news anchor
Turns to the camera
And delivers an answer
in the form of a mantra
This is the voice of the BBC,
and while you’re sitting there drinking cups of tea
We’re working away inside your TV
And on the screen you will surely see
that I go by the name of the Well-Spoken MC

Good night
FluencyMCPIC

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

[Download]Small Donate Button
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!
vote for us_love english2

238. Prepositions (Part 1)

In this episode I decided to teach you about prepositions! Yes! Everyone’s favourite words in English! OK, that’s sarcasm – most learners find prepositions to be confusing and frustrating. However, the episode didn’t quite go as planned and I didn’t manage to deal with the subject as I had intended. Nevertheless, this episode contains some comments and information about prepositions, which works as an introduction to other episodes on the subject. Listen to this one before you listen episode 240, which deals with the subject in more depth. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonI’ve been meaning to do this episode for ages and now finally I’ve managed to get round to it. Well, that was the plan anyway.

Following notes I made over a year ago (which weren’t actually finished) I thought I would be able to deal with this topic without much preparation, but prepositions tend to be complex little creatures to get a hold of, and the topic proved too slippery to deal with fully in this episode, so I have promised to continue the series in the next episode, when we will look at the way prepositions collocate with other words.

So for this episode, I didn’t manage to succeed in my overall mission, but you can see this as like ‘part 1’ in a series about prepositions.

What? Another series? Yes, that’s right! The next episode will focus on ways prepositions collocate with verbs, and will feature an improvised courtroom drama featuring a whole list of verb + preposition collocations. You’ll just have to wait for that one. But for now, join me as I begin to explain prepositions, and end up going on about poor sales techniques and why you shouldn’t buy an iPhone 3 from me. Enjoy!
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176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review

This episode is all about grammar, specifically verb tenses such as: present simple, present continuous, present perfect simple, present perfect continuous, past perfect, past perfect continuous and different future forms. Part of this episode is transcribed, and part of it is spontaneous.

Download Episode  Small Donate Button
I’m going to go through lots of verb tenses in English. I’ll demonstrate them first, and then go through them with you, explaining their form, use and pronunciation.

It’s been a while since I did an episode on grammar, and so I thought I’d give you a really thorough look at different verb tenses. It’s a bit ambitious to try and cover lots of tenses in one episode, but I’ll try and keep it brief and practical.

This could be a really useful episode, which you could listen to again and again, in order to get the full value.

I don’t normally do many episodes on grammar, because let’s be honest, it’s pretty boring. Unless you’re a grammar geek, it can be pretty mind numbing stuff. In one ear and out the other. The trouble is, that in explaining the basics of grammar you end up using all kinds of complex and abstract language, which makes the whole thing more complex than it really is. For example, if you can’t use the present simple tense correctly, then you’re hardly able to understand the rules that underpin that tense.

We don’t learn a language by learning the rules first and then applying them. Instead we learn by trying to communicate a message in that language. In doing that we learn the limitations and possibilities. But, it does help to get an insight into the structures at work because you can identify areas where you’re making mistakes, or particular tenses that you’re not using.

So listen carefully while I’m talking here and try to notice the different tenses. That’s your task. Notice the different tenses I use, as I’m using them. Like, oh that’s present perfect, or that’s a 1st conditional structure, or that’s the future perfect continuous passive there, I love that one. Etc.

Then I’ll go through it all and explain it at the end. You can read this on my website.

So, let’s start. Listen closely as I tell you a few things about myself. Notice the tenses, and I’ll explain them afterwards. Eventually, the plan is for you to perhaps practise this by talking about yourself in a similar way, using the tenses as I do. Then you’ll be speaking more like a native. Some of this is written down, and some of it is improvised.

OK, it’s grammar time!

Spot the Tenses
m5e8dHello. I’m Luke. I’m from London, but at the moment I’m living in Paris. I’ve been living here for just over a year. It’s great. I’m really enjoying it. You know that originally I’m from England. I was born in a town just outside London, and then I lived in West London for a long time. My Dad was promoted and got a job in the midlands, so we moved there, and stayed for many years. I went to university in Liverpool and lived there for 4 years, and then I moved back to Warwickshire. That’s when I decided to become an English teacher. I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere. As well as studying at university and college, I’d also been playing in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I needed to think of something to do. I ended up deciding to become a TEFL teacher in 2001 and then I went to Japan and lived there for 2 years. That was an awesome time. had loads of really cool experiences and met loads of people, but I didn’t want to get stuck there, and I was keen to get back to my home country. I moved back to London and I worked there for a long time. It was while I was living in London that I came up with the idea to launch an amazing podcast for learners of English, that would save the world from the forces of evil. That’s when I created the now legendary Luke’s English Podcast, and a new cult of language learners was created. Who knows, maybe the LEPPERS will one day rise up and, just speak really fluently, and then give everyone free ice-cream sandwiches. It’s just a dream maybe, but who knows, it might just happen.

I moved to Paris in 2012. Living in Paris is pretty cool. It used to be quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I’m getting used to it now. When I first came here, I’d never visited Paris before, but my girlfriend had told me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared. I’d also been to France quite a lot as a child on holiday. But when I first arrived it was quite hard because I didn’t speak much French. I took some French lessons at school when I was a kid but I don’t remember learning much. In fact most of the time those French lessons were a bit of a doss. So, when I first arrived I couldn’t really communicate, which was not very helpful. It was usually okay because I could get by, but I remember once I was walking down the street and this guy came up to me and started talking, but I couldn’t understand him, and he got angrier and angrier and started following me down the street. It was a bit scary and weird, and I wish I could have understood him and told him to piss off or whatever.

These days things are much easier, and Paris is an amazing place to live in. I’ve seen and done quite a lot of stuff here.

things I’ve done

– I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve visited Notre Dame. I’ve been to Shakespeare and Company. I’ve tried lots of delicious French wine.

Things I’ve been doing

– I’ve been doing lots of comedy. I’ve been doing lots of gigs.

– I’ve been working at the university.

– I’ve been recording episodes of the podcast

-learning french

Today I’ve drunk a bit too much coffee so I’m pretty hyperactive. Normally I drink tea, but more recently I’ve been drinking coffee. I’ve had about 9,000 cups already today.

Work

– At the moment I’m working at the university

– I teach English, but I’m teaching at a university at the moment.

The future

– Hopefully it’ll last. Hopefully they’ll take me on again.

– I wonder what’s going to happen in the future.

going to / present continuous

– We’re going to visit New York next month

– I might do a special report from New York

– We’re going to stay in an AirBnB apartment that we’ve found

– We’re planning the trip at the moment.

– We’re flying there in the middle of April. It’s going to be good.

Will

– England will probably win.

– We probably won’t win. I imagine it will be someone like Spain or Brazil.

– It’s going to be a challenge.

– We probably won’t get to the final, but if we do it’ll be amazing.

5 years from now

– Who knows what I’ll be doing

– Hopefully I’ll still be recording episodes of LEP

– I might have had kids by then.

– I’ll probably have children. That’ll be…

– Hopefully, I will have done many more episodes of LEP and perhaps I will have expanded my work online in some way.

10 years from now

– If I’m still doing Luke’s English Podcast , I will have been doing LEP for 15 years.

– I will have been being listened to for 10 years (!!!)

The Tenses

Present simple
– I teach English, but I’m teaching at a university at the moment.

Present continuous
– I’m from London, but at the moment I’m living in Paris.
– At the moment I’m working at the university
– I teach English, but I’m teaching at a university at the moment.

Past simple
– (for) I lived in West London for a long time.
– (sequence of finished actions) My Dad was promoted and got a job in the midlands, so we moved there, and stayed for many years. I went to university in Liverpool and lived there for 4 years, and then I moved back to Warwickshire.

Past continuous
– I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere.
– It was while I was living in London that I came up with the idea to launch an amazing podcast for learners of English
– I was walking down the street and this guy came up to me and started talking, but I couldn’t understand him

Used to do vs. Get used to doing
– It used to be quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I’m getting used to it now.

Present perfect
– I’ve been up the Eiffel Tower. I’ve visited Notre Dame. I’ve been to Shakespeare and Company. I’ve tried lots of delicious French wine.
– Today I’ve drunk a bit too much coffee so I’m pretty hyperactive. Normally I drink tea, but more recently I’ve been drinking coffee. I’ve had about 9,000 cups already today.

Present perfect continuous
– I’ve been doing lots of comedy. I’ve been doing lots of gigs.
– I’ve been working at the university.
– I’ve been recording episodes of the podcast
– I’ve been living here for just over a year.

Past perfect
– That’s when I decided to become an English teacher. I’d finished uni and I was working in a pub, not really going anywhere.
– When I first came here, I’d never visited Paris before, but my girlfriend had told me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared.

Past perfect continuous
As well as studying at university and college, I’d also been playing in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I needed to think of something to do.

Modals to talk about the past
– I wish I could have understood him and told him to piss off or whatever

Going to / present continuous
– We’re going to visit New York next month
– I might do a special report from New York
– We’re going to stay in an AirBnB apartment that we’ve found
– We’re planning the trip at the moment.
– We’re flying there in the middle of April. It’s going to be good.

Future with will (not plans, but judgements, opinions, predictions)
– Who knows, maybe the LEPPERS will one day rise up.
– Hopefully it’ll last. Hopefully they’ll take me on again.
– England will probably win.
– We probably won’t win. I imagine it will be someone like Spain or Brazil.

1st Conditional
– We probably won’t get to the final, but if we do it’ll be amazing.

Future continuous
– Who knows what I’ll be doing
– Hopefully I’ll still be recording episodes of LEP

Future perfect
– Hopefully, I will have done many more episodes of LEP and perhaps I will have expanded my work online in some way.

Future perfect continuous (in a 1st Conditional structure, no less!)
– If I’m still doing Luke’s English Podcast , I will have been doing LEP for 15 years.

Future perfect continuous passive!
– I will have been being listened to for 10 years (!!!)

Modals for the future
– it might just happen.

Test Yourself

Complete the gaps in this text. Scroll up to see the answers.

Hello. I’m Luke. I’m from London, but at the moment I _______________________ (live) in Paris. I _______________________ (live) here for just over a year. It’s great. I’m really enjoying it. You know that originally I’m from England. I _______________________ (born) in a town just outside London, and then I _______________________ (live)  in West London for a long time. My Dad _______________________ (promote) and got a job in the midlands, so we _______________________ (move) there, and _______________________ (stay) for many years. I _______________________ (go) to university in Liverpool and _______________________ (live) there for 4 years, and then I _______________________ (move) back to Warwickshire. That’s when I _______________________ (decide) to become an English teacher. I _______________________ (finish) uni and I (work) in a pub, not really going anywhere. As well as studying at university and college, I _______________________ (also play) in lots of bands over the past few years, but it hadn’t really worked out, so I _______________________ (need) to think of something to do. I _______________________ (end up) deciding to become a TEFL teacher in 2001 and then I _______________________ (go) to Japan and _______________________ (live) there for 2 years. That was an awesome time. I _______________________ (have) loads of really cool experiences and _______________________ (meet) loads of people, but I _______________________ (not want) to get stuck there, and I was keen to get back to my home country. I _______________________ (move) back to London and I _______________________ (work) there for a long time. It was while I _______________________ (live) in London that I _______________________ (come up with) the idea to launch an amazing podcast for learners of English, that would save the world from the forces of evil. That’s when I _______________________ (create) the now legendary Luke’s English Podcast, and a new cult of language learners was created. Who knows, maybe the LEPSTERS _______________________ (rise up one day) and, just speak really fluently, and then give everyone free ice-cream sandwiches. It’s just a dream maybe, but who knows, it might just happen.

I moved to Paris in 2012. Living in Paris is pretty cool. It _______________________ (be) quite difficult, because I couldn’t speak the language but I _______________________ (get used to) it now. When I first came here, I _______________________ (never visit) Paris before, but my girlfriend _______________________ (tell) me a lot about it, so I was kind of prepared. I _______________________ (also go) to France quite a lot as a child on holiday. But when I first _______________________ (arrive) it was quite hard because I _______________________ (not speak) much French. I _______________________ (take) some French lessons at school when I was a kid but I don’t remember learning much. In fact most of the time those French lessons were a bit of a doss. So, when I first arrived I couldn’t really communicate, which was not very helpful. It was usually okay because I could get by, but I remember once I _______________________ (walk) down the street and this guy _______________________ (come) up to me and _______________________ (start) talking, but I couldn’t understand him, and he _______________________ (get) angrier and angrier and _______________________ (start) following me down the street. It was a bit scary and weird, and I wish I could have understood him and told him to piss off or whatever.

These days things are much easier, and Paris is an amazing place to live in. I _______________________ (see and do) quite a lot of stuff here. I _______________________(go )up the Eiffel Tower. I _______________________ (visit) Notre Dame. I _______________________(go) to Shakespeare and Company the bookshop. I _______________________ (try) lots of delicious French wine. It’s great.

Check the top of the page for the answers.

 

174. How to Learn English with Luke’s English Podcast

This episode contains lots of ideas, advice and suggestions for ways of improving your listening, reading, writing and speaking using Luke’s English Podcast. A transcript is available below. ;)

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This should be a useful episode. I’m going to go through a whole bunch of ways that you can improve your English with Luke’s English Podcast. You’ll find a list of these points on my website. I’m going to expand on them here.

I’ll be talking about key areas: listening, reading, writing, speaking, grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and discourse. Much of what I’m saying is written on my website. Just find the episode called “How to Learn English with Luke’s English Podcast”. I’ve written a lot of this down because it contains lots of specific bits of information which I wanted to make sure I included. I try not to do too many episodes in which I read things to you. I promise that the next one will be unscripted. Anyway, I’ll do my best to make this sound as natural as possible, which is an art in itself. Actually, you could use this script to help you practise your pronunciation, you could record yourself reading this too, and compare it to my version. What are the differences in your version and mine? What can you learn from that? Record yourself doing it again, and compare that to your first attempt. It’s bound to sound a lot better. In fact, I guarantee that you’ll sound more natural and convincing with each attempt. More on that later.

For now, here is a list of tips and advice for learning English with LEP. ;)

Just listen
First of all, you don’t really have to do much more than just listen to the episodes. I realised some time ago that a lot of the students of English that I met at school in London did not listen to enough authentic English. They were willing to spend money and travel across the world in order to improve their English, and yet most of them, for some reason, were not prepared to take a bit of time every day to listen to something in English. Why? I think partly this is because they didn’t know what to listen to. A lot of people watch TV and movies in English. Fine. But honestly, that might not be the best way to improve your English. Film is very visual. A lot of what you understand from a movie is the visual storytelling. It’s important to just focus on the audio – on the language. So, a lot of students didn’t know what to listen to. They thought that they didn’t have much choice. Actually, there’s plenty of choice out there. The BBC has plenty of podcasts, there are loads of podcasts on different topics on iTunes – but they’re all made for native speakers. They’re too difficult to listen to, and ultimately, that’s not motivating. There are some podcasts out there which are made for learners of English, but a lot of them are just focused on language learning, at the expense of entertainment. They’re useful, but they’re a bit dull. This is less the case now, because 5 years after starting this podcast, there are more interesting things out there for learners of English, including my podcast. So I decided that I’d try and create something for learners of English to listen to that they would actually want to listen to, beyond just learning English. Ultimately, I think to listen to English for extended periods of time, you have to have an interest in what is being talked about, or you have to find it entertaining. Otherwise, it’s hard to really sustain your concentration and it becomes like a chore. There is real value in listening to English for extended periods of time, but it’s difficult to achieve because you get put off by not understanding things, or because the recording is a bit patronising and dull. I don’t want to blow my own trumpet here too much, because I’m sure that my podcast is not always as entertaining or as engaging as it could be, but I think the only way to get people to keep listening, is to try and make it entertaining as well as informative about English. So, I record this podcast with you in mind, but I try to keep it as authentic as possible. I try to avoid being simplistic. I try not to grade my English too much. I know it might be challenging for you sometimes but I attempt to hold your attention by talking in an enthusiastic way about subjects which I personally find interesting. Hopefully, the result is that you keep listening, and that you feel personally involved in it somehow. Then, by exposing yourself to lots of English in this way, you are able to acquire the language – to pick it up, in a variety of ways.

Stephen Krashen & Language Acquisition Theory
Let me now refer to the language acquisition theory of Stephen Krashen. This theory is very well known among language learning theorists, and it underpins a lot of what we know about learning and teaching English. Krashen believed that there are two ways to develop our language learning skills. One is through language acquisition and the other is through language learning. Language acquisition means that it is possible for adults and children to learn language in a subconscious way – meaning, in a kind of passive way – by simply engaging with the language. The important thing is that you focus on the message in a bit of language. So, when listening to Luke’s English Podcast this means focusing exactly  on what I really mean, rather than just on the specific items of language I’m using. The primary focus is to just understand what I mean (hopefully at a fairly deep level – in order to laugh at something I’ve said, or feel moved by it) and then you kind of ‘pick up’ the language as a result of that. You might not be immediately aware that you’ve learned some new language in this way. In fact, this kind of acquisition probably informs your passive knowledge of the language. According to Krashen, another type of language development is language learning. This is when you focus on learning specific forms  – like studying grammar rules for example. It involves having some instruction by a teacher, perhaps in the form of error correction, or from a grammar book which explains the ‘rules of English’. The downside of this kind of learning is that it is rather dogmatic, can be boring, complex and abstract. It doesn’t necessarily replicate the organic way in which we pick up language as children, and doesn’t quite allow the subconscious acquisition of language that occurs from just engaging with the language in order to understand a message being communicated.

Alright, so how does this apply to the way you can learn English? Well, I think it’s pretty important to get both aspects of language learning into your life. This is what I call “having a balanced diet”. You shouldn’t just study the grammar rules in a dogmatic way, although that is undeniably important. You should also attempt to just engage with the language as it is used in natural, authentic and meaningful situations. How can you do that? Ideally, this would mean going out into the world and doing things in English. In fact, this might be the best way to improve your English. If you get a job that requires you to use English all day you will improve quickly. It’ll be really hard, but you’d be forced to improve. That’s like a boot camp for language acquisition because you’re not really studying the language, you’re just attempting to survive in it. You’re really focusing on the communicative acts you are trying to achieve. You’re really focusing on meaningful messages, and you naturally learn the most direct and effective way to understand and communicate meaningful messages. You might not be able to do that in your life. You might not have access to native speakers in that way. So, my podcast can be a substitute. It’s not really the same as attempting to work in an English speaking environment, but the key point is that you can replicate aspects of that experience by just attempting to follow/keep up with what I’m saying, and do that regularly, over long periods of time, and you’ll pick up massive amounts of English.

So, just listen, try to follow everything I’m saying, try to enjoy it and engage with it, listen regularly, listen for extended periods. This will all contribute to your acquisition of English, as described by Stephen Krashen.

That’s language acquisition, but you can also do more traditional language learning alongside Luke’s English Podcast. First of all, outside of listening to the episodes, you can do your formalised language studying from a book or in class, and use LEP as a companion to that. Study the language, and then try to notice aspects of the language that you’ve studied in episodes of the podcast. For example, if you’ve studied verb tenses, you can listen to a story I’ve told on the podcast and try to notice those verb tenses, how I’m using them, how I’m pronouncing them, and so on. It can back up, confirm or clarify the language study you’ve been doing. You should always refer to authentic language usage as a way of checking language that you’ve studied.

Also, you can study the things I say in the podcast more directly. The podcast can be a study tool. Here are some ways you can do some active language study with the podcast:

Use transcripts
You could read a transcript and check new words in a dictionary as you find them. Pay attention to the way I use the words, including the grammatical context, collocations between words and pronunciation. Any new words or structures you find, make a note of them and practise using them yourself.

You could attempt to write your own transcripts. This reveals a great deal about the gap between the English you know, and the English that I use in the podcast.  Try transcribing a section of one episode. You could do an episode that has already been transcribed. Listen carefully to it, and try to write down every single word. There may be certain utterances that you just can’t identify. Mark them with question marks. Listen again and again. You could just focus on a specific 5 minute section of an episode. Keep listening until you’ve done your best. Now check the proper transcript for that section and compare it to what you wrote. What are the differences? Now you can identify the gap between what you understand, and what I said. Try to close that gap. Check the words you didn’t know. Identify why you missed the pronunciation of something. Think about how I say these words and phrases, and their definitions. Then you can start working them into your English when you speak. We’ll look at ways of developing your speaking in a few minutes.

A note on transcripts. You may be aware that a lot of my episodes have transcripts, which can really help you to study the language (although you shouldn’t read them all the time). But you can also contribute transcriptions to my website. If you fancy transcribing a few minutes of an episode, please send it to me and I’ll be able to correct it and publish it on my website. I have a transcript collaboration going on using Google documents. You might already know about this because I did an episode on that subject a couple of months ago. You can go to my website and click “transcripts” to find out more. Basically, writing transcripts of my episodes is not only a great way to use the podcast to improve your English, it also helps me to provide an even better service to my listeners.

So, Luke’s English Podcast is best consumed as part of a balanced diet. Listen freely and just try to enjoy and understand what I’m saying, and let your mind naturally acquire the language, but also mix this with more formalised language study to get the full 360 degree effect.

You might think the formalised language study part of that is boring and time consuming. That’s fine. You don’t have to do any of that, but as a compromise, what you can do is just be mindful when you’re listening. Your first aim is to focus on the message, but you can also try to notice specific aspects of the language too. Try to identify words, phrases and grammatical structures. You don’t have to formally study them, just notice them as you hear them. Like “oh he’s saying depend on” so it must be “depend on” in English, not “depend of”. Things like that. Just be mindful when listening.

I record different types of episode here. My main aim is to engage you and keep you interested, while presenting English to you in an authentic way. In some episodes I try to draw your attention to the language more specifically. For example, I teach/explain/demonstrate vocabulary items referring to a topic, or bring your attention to an aspect of pronunciation. In those episodes, you can just chill out and follow what I’m saying, but you can be more active, and make notes of the vocabulary, try to remember phrases, listen again and pause the recording to test your memory.

Listen in comfort, and enjoy the experience. Krashen also writes about the affective filter hypothesis. This relates to the conditions in which learning takes place, and how these can have a big effect on the successful acquisition of language. Basically, good conditions for learning are: motivation (the listener really wants to hear what’s being said, and is keen to learn the language), high self-esteem and relaxation. These things allow the flow of acquisition to move freely, without being blocked. Mental blocks occur when the learner is stressed, anxious or feeling bad about themselves. This creates a mental block to the acquisition of language. I guess this relates to one of those situations in which you’re in an unhappy language class. You feel stressed because of pressure from the teacher or from the judgement of your classmates, you feel low self-confidence because you don’t get any positive reinforcement from taking part in a communicative exchange and you’re just not enjoying the experience of being there in the classroom. As a result, there is a kind of mental barrier which really prevents you learning anything. In fact, it might even make it worse because you associate learning English with painful or boring classroom situations. The advantage of Luke’s English Podcast is that the emphasis is on fun, a lot of the time. You have nothing to fear or worry about when you listen to this. In fact, it can be an extremely pleasurable experience. I’m not just bigging myself up here. I know what it’s like to listen to your favourite podcast. It’s quite a personal experience. I listen to Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo’s Film Review Podcast on my way to work, and I can’t begin to explain the joy of listening to it. They’re like my friends, and I’m sharing a really nice conversation with them. I listen to their voices in private, through headphones, while I’m sitting on a smelly underground train with miserable people all around me, but I’m in my comfort zone. In fact, sometimes I’m disappointed when I reach my metro station, because I just want to keep listening to the podcast. Hopefully, listening to Luke’s English Podcast is a similar experience for you. That’s certainly the idea. This should be a personal and enjoyable experience for you, and I invite you to just enjoy being part of the podcast community, and remember that all around the world there are other people like you, listening to me ramble on about stuff. There’s no chance of the affective filter giving you a mental block in this situation because you should be in your comfort zone. That’s the advantage of podcasting. You really can listen to this whenever and wherever you want, and you are free to get as comfortable as you please. As I’ve said before, feel free to listen to this in the bath, on the loo, or as you softly and slowly drift off to sleep at night. Of course, you can also listen at your desk, with a pen in your hand, or while typing, in order to make notes or write transcripts. You can also sit up and read transcripts. It’s up to you. The main thing is to just enjoy yourself and let the English go into your head. Just imagine that my voice is bouncing around inside your mind, and lots of the words, and sounds are sticking in there.

You should certainly listen to episodes more than once. In fact, if you’re interested in really learning English from this podcast, I think it’s vital to listen several times. Once is not enough. In fact, you might only scratch the surface if you listen just once. Listening again and again will allow you to get really familiar with what’s being said. You’ll notice and remember things that you didn’t catch the first time. Repetition is really important as a way of helping your brain notice patterns. After a couple of listens, you’ll remember certain phrases, bits of intonation or responses and they will be reinforced when you listen again. It might be asking too much of you, but you could even start to remember and repeat some of the things you’ve heard on Luke’s English Podcast. I don’t necessarily expect you to repeat everything I say, but perhaps you could memorise the lines of a comedy sketch that I present to you, and then repeat the lines to yourself or your friends, or just while you’re listening again. I’m a bit of a geek and I love Star Wars. When I was a kid I used to watch Star Wars on heavy rotation. I’d watch it again and again. Now I can remember all the lines from the film. In fact, I don’t just remember the lines, I remember the bits of music and sound effects too, as they occur in the film. It’s the same with Monty Python films and sketches. I’ve watched them so many times that I can repeat a lot of the script from memory, and in fact some phrases from those movies have found their way into my vocabulary. You can do that too, by listening to episodes more than once, and listening to some comedy sketches which I present to you many times. Soon I’ll be doing an episode about Monty Python. For some reason, Monty Python’s sketches are very memorable. In fact, there are several generations of people in the UK and America who grew up watching Monty Python films and who are able to recite whole sketches to each other. Again, you can do the same thing, realise that there are some terrifically funny things in English, and use that as a way to pick up language.

There are a number of different areas to focus on with English.
4 skills:
Listening
Reading
Writing
Speaking

Language systems:
Grammar
Vocabulary
Pronunciation
Discourse

Listening
I’ve already talked a lot about the benefit of just listening for fun, or listening in a more active way. I did mention that it’s good to be comfortable when listening. I should add too that I think it’s important to try and listen to things that you don’t completely understand. It’s fine to listen to things that you don’t understand completely, and the general opinion on this seems to be that you should push yourself when you listen, and don’t get put off if there are things you don’t understand. It’s in that challenging experience that your brain is really piecing things together. For example, if you struggled to understand my conversation with Daniel Burt, that’s fine – in fact, that struggle is good. Listen again, and keep trying. Don’t give up. Push through those moments when you don’t understand. Keep going. Don’t let confusion stop you.
Also, try to identify subtle differences between accents. You may only notice little differences at first, but eventually you’ll be more and more aware of the differences between accents. Eventually, you’ll be able to say “this guy is from the north of England”, “This one’s from Australia” or whatever.

Reading
Reading transcripts on my webpage.
Outside of the podcast – read a variety of texts. Again, try to find things that you enjoy. You should also be aware of your purpose for learning the language. What are you going to use English for in the future? You may need to read emails, or business reports. It may be worth reading articles that talk about business trends. Otherwise, just reading any well-written text for enjoyment is a really good way to improve your literacy. I must add a page on my website with recommendations for reading. There’s loads of reading you can do – blogs, newspapers but also books which you can download free online. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m planning to give you a list of some good things to read.

Writing
Again, this is not one of the things that I focus on a lot on Luke’s English Podcast. The focus is mainly on spoken English. However, transcribing podcast episodes can be good for your writing. You could also write your own blog which contains your opinions or your outlook on a topic. Feel free to write a response to episodes of my podcast in the comments section. You should aim to concisely express your opinion, in a structured way, using the most appropriate words you can find (perhaps including some words you’ve picked up from that episode of the podcast). Think about the person reading the comment – make it easy and enjoyable for them to read, and focus on stating very clearly and efficiently exactly what it is you want to say. Considering those ideas can help you to make your writing more effective.
If, however, you need to practise writing for the IELTS test, you will need to do more specifically focused writing practice, probably using an IELTS preparation book, or following an IELTS course of some kind. My podcast can help you with general skills (vocab, etc) but for specific kinds of writing work, you should do some specific writing practice. Practice practice practice. As I said before – to get the best out of Luke’s English Podcast, use it as part of a balanced diet.

Speaking
Perhaps the best way to improve your speaking is to actually practise it in real-life situations. The requirements of that situation will train you to say the right things at the right time, with the right tone. You should certainly be aware of how intonation is important in affecting a message. These are things you can learn from trying to enter into meaningful acts of communication and learning from your mistakes. You might also need a teacher to actively correct your errors. But, you can definitely use Luke’s English Podcast to improve your speaking too. Let’s look at some ways to do that:
Just try to take some aspects of my speech and apply it to your speech. You could just add some words or phrases you’ve heard from me, and use them yourself. Or you can pick up some speech patterns, pronunciation from me and add that to your speech too. If you like, you could use my speaking as a kind of model for your own speech.
More specifically, you could copy and repeat some of my sentences. Listen to a line I say, and then repeat it and try to sound exactly like me. You could listen to phrasal verb episodes, and whenever I present an example sentence, pause the episode and repeat it after me. Keep doing that until you feel you’re version is pretty similar to mine. So, just listen and repeat until you’ve worked out how to make the same sounds as me. Think about vowel & consonant sounds, combinations of consonants and how to make those sounds with your mouth, think about connected speech – what happens when words are pronounced fluently together in a sentence – they might get pronounced differently, certain sounds may be dropped when words are linked, and some sounds may be added when words are linked too. Pay attention to these aspects of pronunciation. I should do a whole episode on connected speech, and it’s one I’ve had in the back of my mind for ages.
Pick an extract from the podcast, with transcript, and record yourself saying it. Compare your version with my version. Then, work on the transcript. Underline the stressed words, add lines to represent pauses for emphasis, identify word links in pronunciation. Listen to me saying that extract again, and check your ‘sound scripted’ transcript. Now record yourself doing it again, this time adding the intonation, pausing and sentence stress. Compare that to the original. This can help you develop awareness, and control of speech patterns.
Record yourself just talking in response to one of my podcast episodes. If I’ve talked about UFOs for example (not yet, but I will!) then you could record yourself talking about UFOs too. Try to include any words I’ve presented to you on that topic. If you like you could leave an audio comment on my Audioboo page, and let the world know how you feel about something.
Or, you could start doing your own podcast, like Zdenek from Zdenek’s English Podcast. He’s not a native speaker, but following a suggestion in one of my episodes he decided to do his own podcast. He now has followers and listeners and he’s really into it. Listening to his episodes I get the sense that his confidence is developing and he’s finding his own voice. It must be very good for his English (which, of course, is already excellent). You could do it too if you want.
The main thing is practice. Use as many opportunities to practise as you can. Join clubs to meet English speakers. Use the internet. Find groups on Meetup.com in which people are doing language exchanges. Put yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t be shy, give it a try. Take the initiative. No-one can do the speaking for you. There’s no shame in making mistakes. You have to be in it to win it, so open your mouth and get talking. Remember that English is about what you can do, not just about what you know. Be active, find your voice in English. If you’re in a classroom – don’t be one of those quiet students. It’s completely up to you to start talking, and why not do it in the safety of a language class. That’s the whole point! Speak up in class and use that as a safe place to experiment and make mistakes. Experiment! Switch off your editor! Don’t listen to the voice in your head which is telling you to keep quiet, or telling you that you can’t say something because it might be wrong. It does not matter if you’re wrong. Remember that you have to say something wrong about 5 times before you get it right. Get through those 5 times nice and quick, and then you’ll be fine! Sometimes, opening your mouth is the hardest thing to do, but once you’ve started speaking it gets easier. Keep up the momentum. Keep your voice warm. Stay positive, enjoy expressing yourself. Your teacher will love it if you are an active member of class. In fact, you need to prove to your teacher that you’re making an effort. We always like those talkative and positive students. Use that to your advantage – you’ll be more likely to get good grades, and get levelled up. Be nice, be friendly, be talkative. But also listen to others and help them too. That’s a recipe for success for any language learner!
Actually, I just sent Zdenek a message and asked him for his comments on the subject of using LEP to improve your English (particularly speaking) and here are his comments, which I agree with wholeheartedly. In fact, before I read his comments it may be necessary to remind you that Zdenek is a well-qualified teacher of English from the Czech Republic who lived in the UK for a number of years and who has got a master’s degree in English Language. So, he definitely knows what he’s talking about. I’m sure many of you listening to this have similarly good advice and comments on this subject. I am very keen to encourage you to share that information – you can leave text or audio comments under this episode. So here are Zdenek’s comments:
How can listening to LEP improve your speaking skills? It can mainly improve the following skills/subskills:
1) listening (obvious)
2) reading, spelling (reading scripts, additional notes)
3) writing, spelling (script, feedback or thanksgiving emails to Luke),
4) grammar (listening to grammar patterns as part of exposure theory)
5) vocabulary (learning new vocab also guided by the exposure theory),
6) pronunciation (passive listening)
As for the speaking, it is a different question. If you want to improve your speaking through LEP, you have to approach this actively. Not everyone is willing to do this. Some people tend to be shy, have approach anxiety etc…and prefer listening to the podcast as passive recipients. That is fine. However, here are some suggestions on how you can actually improve even your speaking skills.
1) Contact someone via LEP community. There are a lot of interesting people eager to learn English from all around the world. Contact those who have a similar level as you – this way you can both benefit and learn from each other and no one will get bored. Ideally, have an interest in common (sci-fi films, sport, you already have one important topic in common = LEP)…try to befriend these people, add them on facebook, start skype conversations with them or something.
2) Record yourself speaking about a topic. Ask yourself questions related to LEP. Answer these questions or just practice vocabulary Luke teaches you. Listen back to yourself. Try correcting your errors. Re-record. Compare your recordings you made some time later to see your improvements.
3) Record comments in Audioboo (max 3 minutes) –why is everyone so shy? Is everyone afraid that they will be judged? Who cares? Just be friendly and you should be accepted by the community. Luke is a teacher. He deals with mistakes every day. We all make mistakes. Never be afraid to make mistakes. A man who never made mistakes, never made anything. Are you afraid to take on a challenge and face our greatest fear – public humiliation? Well don’t be! If we fight it actively without fear, we can significantly improve our speaking skills this way.
[I just want to add a couple of points here about making a fool of yourself, my experience of speaking French, and of fear of public speaking]
4) Try running your own podcast. Most of you can do it. Again it is only about facing your fears of making mistakes and exposing yourself to the public. This podcast can be just for you and your friends. I make loads of mistakes in my podcast and I am a teacher. I feel ashamed; I have to edit them out. But if you are not teachers, why worry? And even as teachers? You shouldn’t worry.
5) You can always speak to yourself in the mirror and go crazy. Become the next Hamlet. Speaking is not about passivity so move your arse and find some interaction
Note: By following these tips, you will work on your English speaking skills, pronunciation (actively), grammar, vocab (you can focus on trying to use expressions Luke has taught you), listening skills (as you listen to your friends talking for example). There are so many benefits to active speaking practice.

Thank you Zdenek. As I said before, I welcome your comments too. Let’s share our thoughts on this subject together. It’s time for my LEP ninjas to come out of the shadows and deliver some powerful advice! LEP NINJAS – ASSEMBLE!!!

Regarding language systems, I have some things to say about grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation and ‘discourse’.
To be honest, I’ve already spoken enough about grammar & vocab. Let me just remind you of the theory of ‘exposure’. I have talked about this before. The idea is that by listening to lots of English over extended periods, you’re feeding your subconscious with all the patterns of English usage. Your brain is hearing all these patterns of English, including frequent word combinations (like prepositions), tenses, features of pronunciation etc. Ultimately, it all goes into your head, and informs your sense of instinct for the language, so that when you come to do a test in English, you feel the answer. You know that this particular preposition goes with this particular verb, just because you’ve heard it a number of times before and so it feels natural. Feed your head with English. Feel the English rather than knowing it. Use the force young jedi, and remember, the force will be with you… always. Oh, and don’t forget – you’re never too old for this. Language study is a great way to keep your mind fresh and supple. My grandfather is over 90 years old and he’s still really sharp. Perhaps this is because he’s still going to French and Spanish classes on a regular basis.

Regarding pronunciation – a lot of the tips you’ve been given here will help with that. But, I just want to add that improving your listening skills will naturally improve your pronunciation skills too. The two things go hand in hand. The more you’re able to understand natural spoken English, the more you are able to decode the sounds used to make it. Understanding this natural sound code can allow you to start using it too. There is a direct connection between listening and pronunciation, but to fully reap the benefits, you need to need to actively practise pronunciation. The methods I’ve mentioned already in this episode – repeating, recording, re-recording, comparing, speaking in front of the mirror, etc – they’re all good approaches to practising and improving your pronunciation. Don’t be shy, give it a try. You’ve got nothing to lose, just things to gain. Go for it!

As for discourse, this is really about how you structure your speaking. How do you link your ideas up? When you listen, try to notice any specific phrases I use to link my ideas together, move from one topic to another, deal with moments when I don’t know what I’m saying and so on. What are the tools I use to perform certain functions. Can you identify these things and take them on yourself? Try talking about a topic for 5 minutes. See how difficult it is to talk on your feet. Do it again and again until you develop methods of thinking and talking at the same time. Listen to discussions and focus on the ways in which people interrupt, agree, disagree or whatever. Think about the way we use the language to be polite or indirect. How is humour added to what we say? How does intonation affect the hidden meaning behind our words? Explore these ideas when you listen, and then test them out in your speaking.

That’s it for this episode. I hope you have found it motivating, and inspiring. Leave your comments, and I wish you all the very best of luck keeping up your English. I’m sure you’re doing great. Well you must be, because you’re already listening to Luke’s English Podcast – and long may it continue.

BYE!

156. British Comedy: Ali G

Check it! This is the first in a series of episodes about British comedy. In this one we look at a character called Ali G. In the episode I’ll explain everything you need to know about him, then we’ll listen to an interview from his TV show and I will explain all the language and vocabulary that you hear. In the end, you’ll understand all of it, just like a native speaker innit.


Right-click here to download this episode.
Aiiiight?! So, in this episode you’ll learn about lots of things, including some slang vocabulary, some pronunciation features of a London dialect, and some terms relating to education. You’ll also learn more about British pop culture.

Please be aware that there is some explicit content and rude language in this episode. The audio that you will hear contains some adult content including references to sex and drugs. If you’re easily offended then watch out! If you don’t mind, then great! Let’s have a good time learning some more British English, shall we? Yes Luke! Ok great…

NUFF RESPECT! Below you will find vocabulary definitions and other notes, and a youtube video for the interviews you hear in this episode of the podcast. I recommend that you watch the videos – it will help you to enjoy the comedy more. BOOYAAA!

Vocabulary Definitions and Notes
Here are some bits of language you’ll hear in this episode.
Ali G – Education. An interview with Sir Rhodes Boyson. Slang terms are written in italics.
Corporal punishment = this is a kind of physical punishment which used to be used in schools as a way of instilling discipline into childen
a cane / to cane someone / to get caned / to be caned = a cane is a long, thin stick which is used to hit a child as punishment. The word is also a verb (regular)
to get caned / to be caned = this is also a slang expression which means to get  stoned/high on cannabis/weed/marijuana
my main man = this is a slang expression to refer to someone you like or someone you respect a lot

wicked! = a slang term meaning “brilliant!”
respect = this is said just to show respect to someone – “respect man” “nice one”
you have to have a good cane = in its slang sense, this means you have to smoke a lot of weed
“they have more boning experience than anybody else”
boning = having sex
a boner = an erection
me feelin dat (I’m feeling that) = I understand that, I get that impression
for real = definitely
to deal in ounces, half ounces, quarter ounces, eighths of ounces = in the UK cannabis is usually sold by the ounce, quarter ounce etc
one ounce (1 oz = about 28 grammes)
he’s down for a 40 year stretch = he’s going to prison for 40 years / he’s facing a 40 year prison sentence
“boys would spend all their time chasing muff”
muff = a woman’s ‘private parts’, her genitals, her vagina
“I got an A+ in pounani”
pounani = the same as muff !
you know what I’m getting at = you know what I’m trying to say, you know what I’m suggesting

Video of Ali G interviewing Sir Rhodes Boyson
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=OV1fq75aWtY&w=500&h=375%5D
Sacha Baron Cohen on Letterman
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrBfaUDUlt4&w=500&h=375%5D
Sacha Baron Cohen won the outstanding achievement to comedy at the British Comedy Awards
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcjpP6dKuS0&w=500&h=281%5D
Fluency MC’s Present Perfect Rap (what do you think?)
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDl3T339718&w=500&h=281%5D

73. Steve Jobs


Right-click here to download this episode.
Listen to Steve Jobs’ famous speech to graduates of Stanford University, read the transcript, notice some useful features of English, and learn some important lessons about life.

Tributes to Steve Jobs from Reuters News Feed
(Reuters) – President Barack Obama was among the many people who paid tribute to Steve Jobs, calling the Apple co-founder a visionary and great American innovator.

“Steve was among the greatest of American innovators — brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it,” Obama said of Jobs, who died on Wednesday.

“The world has lost a visionary. And there may be no greater tribute to Steve’s success than the fact that much of the world learned of his passing on a device he invented.”

The president was joined by political, technology, entertainment and business leaders around the world in paying tribute to Jobs. A selection:

BILL GATES, MICROSOFT CO-FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN

“Steve and I first met nearly 30 years ago, and have been colleagues, competitors and friends over the course of more than half our lives. The world rarely sees someone who has had the profound impact Steve has had, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come. For those of us lucky enough to get to work with him, it’s been an insanely great honor.”

STEPHEN ELOP, NOKIA CEO

“The world lost a true visionary today. Steve’s passion for simplicity and elegance leaves us all a legacy that will endure for generations. Today, my thoughts, and those of everyone at Nokia, are with the friends and family that he leaves behind.”

FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY ON FACEBOOK

“His capacity to revolutionize entire sectors of the economy by the power of imagination and technology is a source of inspiration for millions of engineers and entrepreneurs across the world. His efforts to render new technologies more attractive and simple to use have made a success of businesses that have changed the world of computing, the distribution of cultural content, telecommunications and even animated cinema.”

RUPERT MURDOCH, CEO OF NEWS CORP

“Today, we lost one of the most influential thinkers, creators and entrepreneurs of all time. Steve Jobs was simply the greatest CEO of his generation.”

Full Reuters Article Here: mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7950GT20111006?irpc=932

Steve Jobs’ Stanford University Speech
This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife, except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We’ve got an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out later that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would go to college. This was the start, in my life.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path, and that will make all the difference.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents’ garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life’s going to hit you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and thankfully I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300.
Watch a video of the speech here:
[youtube www.youtube.com/watch?v=UF8uR6Z6KLc&w=480&h=360%5D

69. Common Errors / Typical Mistakes (and their corrections)

Learn to avoid some really common errors, and fine-tune your English! This episode is about typical mistakes that learners of English make when they speak. Do you make any of these errors when you speak?

Right-click here to download this episode.
Luke’s English Podcast is an audio download for learners of English as a foreign language.

Common errors made by learners of English, and their corrections
Recently I made a list of some of the most common mistakes I hear from my students of English. Here they are, with corrections.
Listen to the audio above to hear me explain the corrections in more detail. This is not a blog article, it’s just the text which accompanies an audio podcast episode. :)

ERROR: I am agree
CORRECTION: I agree

ERROR: I said you something
CORRECTION: I told you something

E: Luke told that…
C: Luke told us that…

E: If I will…
C: If I go… I will…

E: If I would go…
C: If I went…

E: If I would have gone to university…
C: If I had gone to university

E: A present to someone
C: A present for someone

E: to buy a gift to someone
C: to buy a gift for someone

E: Let’s have a coffee to that cafe
C: Let’s have a coffee in that cafe

Rise = to go up “taxes rose by 5%”
Raise = to make something go up “The government raised taxes by 5%”

E: I am living here since/during 1 year
C: I have been living here for 1 year

E: a girl who she lives in Brazil
C: A girl who lives in Brazil

E: What do you do tonight?
C: What are you doing tonight?

E: Tonight I will go to the pub
C: Tonight I’m going to the pub

E: go to shopping
C: go shopping

a holiday = a vacation ( a week or two with no work)
a day off = one day in which you don’t work
a public holiday / a bank holiday = days when everyone in the country has a day off, e.g. Christmas Day or Easter

E: almost people in my country
C: most of the people in my country / almost all of the people in my country / most people in my country

E: I explain you something
C: Let me explain something (to you)

E: I haven’t any money
C: I don’t have any money / I haven’t got any money

E: some advices
C: Some advice / some pieces of advice

E: some informations
C: some information / some pieces of information

E: a new
C: Some news / a news story

E: question – /kestchun/
C: question – /kwestchun/

E: I had learned that when I was at school
C: I learned that when I was at school

E: I don’t know what means this word
C: I don’t know what this word means

E: Can you tell me where is the station?
C: Can you tell me where the station is?

E: In the next years / in the next months / in the next weeks
C: In the next few years / in the next few months / in the next few weeks

E: a four hours journey
C: a four hour journey

E: a £1m pounds cut
C: a £1m pound cut

E: I forgot my book at home
C: I left my book at home / I forgot to bring my book

E: I backed to my country
C: I went back to my country

E: Are you from England, aren’t you?
C: You’re from England, aren’t you?

E: I feel myself sick
C: I feel sick

E: I bought me an iPod
C: I bought myself an iPod

lend = give (temporarily)
borrow = take (temporarily)

E: I went to home
C: I went home

E: I went by walk
C: I went on foot

at midnight = at 12.00
in the middle of the night = from midnight until sunrise

E: I came to London for study English
C: I came to London to study English

E: You are the same like me
C: You are the same as me

E: Popular sports as football and tennis
C: Popular sports such as football and tennis / Popular sports like football and tennis

E: women /womens/
C: women /wimmin/

E: in spite of he was tired, he did the washing up
C: in spite of the fact that he was tired… / despite the fact that he was tired… / although he was tired… / in spite of being tired… / despite being tired…

E: We are used to live in a cold climate
C: We are used to living in a cold climate

E: What is he like? -He likes football
C: What is he like? -He’s a really nice guy

E: We have to wait during three weeks
C: We have to wait for three weeks

E: Finish the report until Friday
C: finish the report by Friday

That’s it! Don’t forget to donate to help me keep doing these useful podcasts. Have fun!

29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses in English


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This podcast is about narrative tenses (past simple, past continuous & past perfect – see details below). We use these tenses to sequence stories about the past. To master the use of these tenses you have to deal with their form, their use and their pronunciation – both for listening and speaking. Use this podcast to help you deal with all of those things, and then start using narrative tenses fluently whenever you describe something. Make your descriptions more detailed and colourful!

Below you can read the mystery story from the podcast, and then grammar details and a tense review exercise.

Listen to the story, and notice the different verb forms being used. If you like you can try to remember the story and repeat it to yourself until you’re using all the tenses correctly. You can then transfer what you’ve learned and remembered from the story when you talk about something else.

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The mystery story:
Last night I was walking home next to the river Thames, when something strange happened to me. It was late at night and I’d had a long and difficult day at work. There was a large full moon in the sky and everything was quiet. I was tired and lonely and I’d just had a few pints of beer in my local pub, so I decided to stop by the riverside and look at the moon for a while. I sat on some steps very close to the water’s edge and looked up at the big yellow moon and wondered if it really was made of cheese. I felt very tired so I closed my eyes and after a few minutes, I fell asleep.

When I woke up, the moon had moved behind a cloud and it was very dark and cold. The wind was blowing and an owl hooted in a tree above me. I rubbed my eyes and started to get up, when suddenly I heard a splash. I looked down at the water and saw something. Something terrible and frightening, and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Something was coming out of the water and moving towards me. Something green and strange and ugly. It was a long green arm and it was stretching out from the water to grab my leg. I was so scared that I couldn’t move. I’d never been so scared in my whole life. The cold green hand was moving closer and closer when suddenly there was a blue flash and a strange noise from behind me. Someone jumped onto the stairs next to me. He was wearing strange clothes and he had a crazy look in his eyes. He shouted “Get Back!” and pointed something at the monster in the water. There was a bright flash and the monster hissed and disappeared.

I looked up at the man. He looked strange, but kind. “Don’t fall asleep by the river when there’s a full moon”, he said “The Moon Goblins will get you.” I’d never heard of moon goblins before. I didn’t know what to do. “Who… who are you?” I asked him. “You can call me… The Doctor.” He said. I was trying to think of something else to say when he turned around and said, “Watch the stars at night, and be careful of the full moon”. I was trying to understand what he meant, when there was another blue flash and I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, he had gone.

I couldn’t believe what had happened. What on earth were Moon Goblins, and who was the mysterious Doctor? And why had he saved me? I was determined to find the answers to these strange questions. I stood up, looked at the moon and quickly walked home.

Listen to just the story again here [Download audio]

Narrative Tenses
Past simple tense
Form: the simple past form of the verb. E.g. “We met on holiday, we talked about art and music, we fell in love, I asked her to marry me and when she said yes I kissed her passionately on the lips.”
Use: To explain the main events of the story in sequence. We use ‘then’, ‘after that’, ‘first’ and ‘finally’ to link them up. E.g. “First I finished work, then I went to the pub, after that I had a few pints, then I sat down by the river and then I fell asleep, after that the moon moved, and then I woke up and then an owl hooted and after that I heard a splash and then a monster tried to grab my leg and after that the Doctor rescued me and then he disappeared, and finally I went home.
We can also use conjunctions to link up clauses with past simple verb forms. ‘When’ is probably the most common. E.g. “When I woke up, and owl hooted.” Or “An owl hooted when I woke up”.

Past continuous
Form: was/were + -ing E.g. “We were talking about my Swiss bank account when suddenly she pulled me close and kissed me again.”
Use: To describe longer or repeated actions. It’s often used to describe the general situation at the beginning of a story. E.g. “I was walking home when something strange happened.”
Also, we use it to sequence events when it is combined with the past simple. Past continuous is the long or repeated action which is interrupted by a short, quick past simple action. E.g. “The green hand was moving towards me when suddenly there was a blue flash and a man jumped onto the stairs next to me”.
We use ‘when’ or ‘while’ to link the actions in a sentence. E.g. “When I woke up, the wind was blowing. The wind was blowing when I woke up. While I was walking, something happened. Something happened while I was walking.”

Past Perfect
Form: had + past participle E.g. “When I arrived at the airport I realised that she had stolen my wallet and passport”.
Use: To express that an action happened before the main events of the story. E.g. “When I woke up, the moon had moved” [the moon moved, then I woke up], which is different to “The moon moved when I woke up” [I woke up, then the moon moved].
Sometimes it is used a bit like present perfect, but when everything is in the past. E.g. “I’ve never heard of moon goblins before” But for yesterday it would be “I had never heard of moon goblins.”

Pronunciation drills:

1. Andrew had done the test before, so he found it very easy.

2. I didn’t laugh at the joke because I had heard it before.

3. We left the restaurant when we had finished dinner.

4. When I found my wallet, I discovered that somebody had taken all the money from it.

Practice:
Here’s the transcript to the mystery story, but with some of the verbs ‘gapped’. Try to put them in the correct tense. Listen again to check.
The mystery story:
Last night I _________________ (walk) home next to the river Thames, when something strange _________________ (happen) to me. It was late at night and I _________________ (have) a long and difficult day at work. There was a large full moon in the sky and everything was quiet. I was tired and lonely and I _________________ (just have) a few pints of beer in my local pub, so I decided to stop by the riverside and look at the moon for a while.

I _________________ (sit) on some steps very close to the water’s edge and looked up at the big yellow moon and wondered if it really was made of cheese. I felt very tired so I _________________ (close) my eyes and after a few minutes, I _________________ (fall) asleep. When I woke up, the moon _________________ (move) behind a cloud and it was very dark and cold. The wind _________________ (blow) and an owl _________________ (hoot) in a tree above me. I rubbed my eyes and started to get up, when suddenly I _________________ (hear) a splash. I _________________ (look) down at the water and saw something. Something terrible and frightening, and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Something _________________ (come) out of the water and _________________ (move) towards me. Something green and strange and ugly. It was a long green arm and it _________________ (stretch) out from the water to grab my leg. I was so scared that I couldn’t move. I _________________ (never be) so scared in my whole life. The cold green hand _________________ (move) closer and closer when suddenly there was a blue flash and a strange noise from behind me. Someone _________________ (jump) onto the stairs next to me. He _________________ (wear) strange clothes and he had a crazy look in his eyes. He shouted “Get Back!” and _________________ (point) something at the monster in the water. There was a bright flash and the monster hissed and disappeared.

I looked up at the man. He looked strange, but kind. “Don’t fall asleep by the river when there’s a full moon”, he said “The Moon Goblins will get you.” I _________________ (never hear) of moon goblins before. I didn’t know what to do. “Who… who are you?” I asked him. “You can call me… The Doctor.” He said. I _________________ (try) to think of something else to say when he turned around and said, “Watch the stars at night, and be careful of the full moon”. I was trying to understand what he meant, when there was another blue flash and I closed my eyes. When I opened them again, he _________________ (go).

I couldn’t believe what _________________(happen). What on earth were Moon Goblins, and who was the mysterious Doctor? And why had he saved me? I was determined to find the answers to these strange questions. I stood up, looked at the moon and quickly walked home.

Would you like to know what happens next in the story?
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE NEXT EPISODE IN WHICH THE STORY CONTINUES: EPISODE 30 “THE MYSTERY CONTINUES”

Other episodes:
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO ANOTHER EPISODE ABOUT VERB TENSES
CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO AN EPISODE ABOUT THE DOCTOR WHO TV SHOW