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761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council) + Public Speaking Tips

This is a presentation I did at the British Council in Paris recently, in front of a live audience. First I talk about public speaking and my approach to doing presentations and then you can hear the recording of my talk. The Beatles were a global phenomenon when they first appeared in the 1960s and their appeal continues to this day. The world still loves The Beatles. But why is this? Join me as I take a deeper look at the social, cultural and psychological factors that make The Beatles story so compelling even after all these years.

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Introduction & Ending Transcripts

Hello listeners,

Another day, another new podcast episode. Let’s keep calm and carry on, shall we?

This is episode 761 and most of this one was recorded live at the British Council in Paris in front of an audience of people. I think it is the first podcast I’ve ever recorded with a live audience there and it sounds a bit different because you can hear the audience reacting to things I’m saying and there are some moments of interaction with the crowd and some jokes and stuff. I hope you enjoy it.

As you may know, I teach English to classes of adults at the BC in Paris but also we have some extra events there in the evening. The talk you can hear me doing in this episode was one of those extra events. I’m hoping to do more of this kind of thing in the future – podcasting in front of a live audience. 

Private Online English Lessons with the British Council

Just before we start properly I want to tell you something about taking English lessons with the British Council, which is something that you can do online. Did you realise that?

Are you interested in having private English lessons online with a British Council teacher? Because you can. 

Sometimes people ask me if I am available for private lessons, and unfortunately my answer to that question is usually no. I just spend my time making episodes of my podcast and teaching group classes in the real world so if you wanted lessons with me you’d need to be in Paris and you’d need to become a student at the BC there using the normal registration process and just hope that you end up in one of my classes. 

But, other British Council teachers are available and they are online.

So if you are looking for an English teacher for private lessons, I just want to let you know that the British Council does offer this service now – personalised one to one lessons with a British Council teacher online

And this is great because you can do it anywhere in the world, you can choose the date and time for lessons, it’s totally flexible, you can choose the teacher and you can basically have classes which are designed around your needs completely, whenever and wherever you want, basically.

Want to practise your speaking and have your errors corrected – you can.

Want to work on your grammar and vocabulary. You can.

Want to develop your pronunciation to be a clearer speaker or to work on a more British-sounding accent if you like. You can do that too.

Also, you can have lessons for specific purposes such as for exams, for job interviews, for specific work arrangements, to prepare for IELTS. It’s all possible with these private online lessons because they’re all based around what you want to do and the British Council teachers will design the lessons based on your priorities.

I’ve always said that listening to my podcast regularly (or any podcast for that matter) is an important part of your learning process – the 5 Ls – listening, listening, listening, listening, listening but of course you need to be doing plenty of speaking too and to practise all the other things – the other language systems and skills.

One to one lessons are a really great way to achieve that and doing them online with an actual human teacher face to face is now a completely normal, tried and tested way to do this. All you need is just the right service.

And the British Council does offer that service. 

It’s called British Council English Score Tutors. (Click the pic below for the details)

It’s the official 1 to 1 tutoring service from the British Council.

It’s quite new but they already have 12,500 learners of English using the platform.

There are currently over 150 teachers there.

The tutors on English Score have an average rating of 4.9 stars (out of 5), which is reassuring.

The teachers are all British Council approved and a lot of them are in the UK but there are also British Council teachers living in other countries all over the world so you can find teachers in most time zones, which means, basically, there are teachers available 24/7. So you’ll be able to find someone to match your timetable.

So, why not go ahead and find a teacher for you and book some lessons to really push your English further and gain more confidence. There’s an offer for you because you listen to this podcast by the way – I’ll tell you about it in a moment.

Maybe you listen to me regularly and you’re happy that you can understand me or that you’ve got to the stage where you’re understanding most of what I say, which is a very good sign – why not build on that and get your speaking up to a similar standard. 

If you’re working on your listening and making progress, there’s a good chance you can convert that to speaking and make progress there too. Activate your English.

Work on your fluency and accuracy and clarity and general confidence. 

The 5 Ss  – speaking speaking speaking speaking speaking.

You’re asking – What about that special offer for us Luke?
Yes.

The BC is offering you a first introductory session for just $1, just so you can see if you like it.

So the first session is just $1. 

You can try it and see if you like it.

There’s no pressure or obligation to continue after that.

But if you do choose to buy a pack of lessons (normally about 20 hours or something) the BC will throw in a free lesson for you because you’re a LEPster.

So, the first lesson is just $1. 

If you like it you can buy a pack of lessons with a teacher, and get a free lesson included because you’re a LEPster.

Sounds pretty good right?

This could be your way to really work on your speaking as well as your listening.

Think about it. Could be a really good move.

Young learners – they do young learners too. There are classes available for 13-17 year olds and you get the same deal.

To find out more and to get that special offer of the free lesson go to teacherluke.co.uk/english or click the PRIVATE LESSONS button on my website menu.

The link is also in the description of this episode.

You’ll only get that free lesson if you enter the website through my link though.

So, obviously, do that then.

teacherluke.co.uk/english

All right then. Let’s begin the episode properly. Here’s the jingle.


761. Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council)

Hello listeners! Welcome back to the podcast. Let’s get back to some normal podcasting, shall we? OK then.

This is #761 Why we love The Beatles (Recorded Live at The British Council).

As you can tell from the title, this episode was recorded live at The British Council in front of an actual audience of people, as I mentioned earlier. 

I’ll play the recording to you in a few minutes. First I want to tell you about the talk I did and how I prepared for it in order to perhaps share some personal tips I have about public speaking. This might seem like another one of my epically long introductions, but it’s not. In fact, let’s imagine that the introduction is over now and here we are in the main body of the episode, and I’m giving you some comments and advice about how to speak to an audience of people – public speaking.

Public speaking is a slightly different skill to normal podcast recording and so it might be interesting for you to hear me doing it in this episode. 

Here’s some context.

The British Council in Paris, where I work part-time, is essentially a language school in a nice building not far from the Eiffel Tower. We teach classes to adults and children and there’s also a exam centre for the IELTS test.

The BC in Paris also offers some special evening events including regular Talks In English. This is when a guest is invited to come and talk about a specific topic at the school in one of our nice big rooms on the 2nd floor. 

Everyone is invited to attend at that means students at the school but anyone else too – friends, staff in the school, other teachers, just anyone who’s interested in attending. 

The speaker does their talk and afterwards there’s a chance to socialise, drink some wine and talk in English together. 

Our marketing manager Phil is always on the lookout for people to do one of these Talks in English, and a couple of months ago he asked me if I’d like to do a talk about anything. I immediately thought of The Beatles, because it’s one of my favourite topics and it’s a very British topic, relevant to British culture and it’s the sort of thing that would probably attract some people. Also the series produced by Peter Jackson called “Get Back” had just been released on Disney+. Phil happily agreed and we put it in the diary.

I decided the title of my talk would be Why We Love The Beatles and basically I wanted to try and explain why The Beatles were and still are so popular. What is the appeal of this group? Why are they so adored by people even 60 years after they first came onto the scene? 

I also decided I’d try and record it as an episode of this podcast.

Now, I know this is another episode about The Beatles and some of you might not be that interested or keen. My talk is called Why We Love The Beatles – but some of you probably don’t Love The Beatles that much, or you just don’t know. That’s totally fine of course. I get it. I’m not here to convince you that they’re the best band. Music is subjective. It’s a question of personal taste.

But I still hope you listen to this, because I might be able to help you understand why people love them.

Public Speaking – Talking to an Audience (Some tips and comments)

I’m now going to give some tips and comments about public speaking and how I prepared for my presentation but if you’d rather just skip straight to the recording of my Beatles talk, then you can move forward to 30:00 (the 30 minute mark).

Let’s think about public speaking then, and doing a presentation to an audience. I just want to mention a couple of things about how I prepared to do this talk. 

Maybe this can help you learn a little bit about public speaking.

So I had to prepare to talk to a room full of people for about 45 minutes. 

It was a fairly small audience to be fair – about 50 people.

Is that a small number or a big number? I don’t know. I’ll let you decide.

Imagine you had to do that. 

  • What would you be thinking? 
  • How would you do it? 
  • How would you prepare? 
  • What are the important things to consider?

I knew the audience would be a mix of adult learners of English (mostly French people and maybe some other nationalities) with an English level at intermediate and above and also some native English speakers.

I didn’t want to write a script, because I wanted to keep the presentation spontaneous. I find that if I write a script then I just get stressed during the talk because I’m trying to remember everything I’ve written and that’s impossible, and reading from a script can take the life out of a presentation. It can take away a certain spark, especially if the person is actually reading from the script on paper and they have to keep glancing up at the room but not really connecting with anyone. 

It depends, of course. Sometimes you need a script because in some cases every single word is vital, and you might have a prompter or something (that’s a screen which shows you your script without the audience seeing it – like in those big political speeches) or maybe if you are doing a best man’s speech at a wedding it can help to have the script in your hand. It depends on the situation of course. But for me, I decided that I didn’t want a script.

Also I didn’t want to use presentation slides on a screen with lots of words or information on them. Slides can be good, but they can also be very distracting. It’s human nature for the audience to just stare at the slides and then you lose the connection with them, and an old rule from stand-up comedy is: if it’s not adding anything, then it’s taking something away. 

Sometimes slides are not really adding anything to your talk, and so they just take away the focus from you and cause the audience to get distracted, especially when there’s lots of text and they end up reading rather than listening to you. No thanks.

Nothing is better than just trying to establish a good connection with the people in front of you. So I decided to do it without a script and without any slides, just like in a stand-up comedy who.

Doing it without a script can seem a bit daunting though, because you think “How can I get it right? How can I be sure that I’m going to say the right things?” 

Basically, in my experience, you have to just try to get to know your subject really well, create a simple structure for your talk, practice a lot and then trust yourself to be able to do it. So that’s what I tried to do. (I’m talking like I’m some expert public speaker here – I’m not, but I do have some experience from teaching and from doing comedy, so I’m just trying to share my experience with you).

In the weeks leading up to the talk I just thought about it a lot, thought about the specific focus of the talk “Why do people love The Beatles?” wrote some ideas down when they came to me, asked friends and family for their advice, talked out loud to myself a bit, imagining I was doing the talk and eventually worked out a general plan for what the content and structure should be. I did write some things down as a script but then I boiled it all down to a list of simple one or two word prompts. I then printed those prompts on some cards which I held in my hands during the talk. The idea was that I could just glance at the card in my hand and then ramble on that topic, hopefully remembering the main things I wanted to say. I also wanted to leave myself room to improvise and respond to what was happening in the room because in my experience, that’s the best way to keep things entertaining and to stop the audience falling asleep at all. 

I also wrote a few other things on the cards in pencil. Just some names, dates and quotes in case I forgot them while talking.

So that’s what I did as preparation and in a moment you can hear how it went.

Let me just say a couple of very basic facts about The Beatles for listeners who are new to the subject, just so you don’t get lost. 

The people in the room for my talk were probably already fans of The Beatles, but you might be new to them.

The Beatles

They were a group of musicians (a band) from Liverpool in England who recorded and released music together from 1962 to 1970 more or less. 

Members:

  • John Lennon (guitar & vocals)
  • Paul McCartney (bass guitar & vocals)
  • George Harrison (lead guitar & vocals)
  • Ringo Star (drums & vocals sometimes)

Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe were members of the band before they became really famous.

They formed in the late 1950s and played live concerts together from the early days in Liverpool and Hamburg until the year 1966 when they were playing stadiums and huge theatres around the world. Then they stopped performing live and concentrated on making music in the studio.

The band broke up officially in 1970 and went their separate ways.

John Lennon was killed in 1980 meaning that the four members could never reunite again as a band.

The Beatles were not just commercially successful. They represented a huge cultural shift and also were groundbreaking in many ways beyond just their influence on popular music. They were also just very funny, stylish and charming and their message was ultimately one of peace and love.

So, “Why we love The Beatles” that’s the title of my talk, that’s what I talked about a couple of weeks ago, and that’s what you can hear now in this first episode of LEP recorded in front of a live audience. I hope you enjoy it…


Ending

So, there you have it. That was my talk about The Beatles at The British Council. 

I am not completely sure if I managed to answer the question of why people love them so much, but ultimately I think I managed to entertain my small audience and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and maybe that’s the most important thing at the end of the day, and the beginning of the day, and the middle of the day…

I wonder how that was for you listening in podcastland.

A couple of questions for you. 

  1. Did I manage to tell you something new about The Beatles that you didn’t know before?
  2. If you’re not a fan of the band, did I give you a sense of why people love them so much, including the fact that it’s not just about the music, and there’s more to them than just Yellow Submarine, Yesterday, Hey Jude and Let It Be?
  3. What was it like listening to a podcast episode that was recorded live in front of an audience, and should I do more episodes like that in the future?

Actually, I have sort of already decided that I would like to do more stuff like this in the future and I would like to do talks at the British Council that can also be published as podcasts. 

One idea is that I re-record some old episodes but in front of an audience, especially episodes which are essentially stories. For example, I would love to do the Sick In Japan story because I think it’s long enough, has enough funny moments and drama in it and it’s been a long time since I published the episode (10 years in fact – omg).  

So look out for more stuff like this in the future and maybe a live version of Sick In Japan or something like that. We will see.

Anyway, let me know how it was listening to this as a podcast episode.

Thank you for listening all the way until the end.

If you got this far, let’s think of a code word you could use to show that you’ve listened until the end. Let’s say that if you got this far, you have to use the word “LOVE” in your comment, especially in a Beatles lyric such as “Love is all you need” or “All you need is love” or “The love you take is equal to the love you make” – or in fact, quote ANY Beatles lyric in the comments to show that you have listened all the way until the end, and if you mention that a semolina pilchard was climbing up the Eiffel Tower during the episode, you will get bonus points. More than just 10.

Thank you for listening.

More podcast episodes will be coming towards your ears soon.

Just a reminder – Private Lessons with British Council English Score Tutors

If you’re looking for private one-to-one lessons online with a teacher, check out British Council English Score Tutors.

At least 150 BC Approved teachers to choose from.

Classes adapted to your needs.

All from the comfort of your own home.

$1 for the first lesson so you can check it out.

Then if you pay for a pack of lessons, you’ll get one lesson free because you’re a LEPster.

For the details and to get the offer – www.teacherluke.co.uk/english

Link in the episode description.

Nice one.

Thank you for listening! I hope you loved this episode. 

My pod room is nearly ready, for goodness sake. There’s still no electricity connection! A guy came to fit plugs around the room, and to connect it to the earth. He just needs to come back to do a bit of paperwork but of course he keeps texting saying it’s not possible today and then the next day, then he says he can come on Friday afternoon which is a full week after he actually did the main part of the job. Why does everything take so bloody long? Then it’s just a few clicks and switches and I need another hard working motivated guy to come and connect the room to the fibre optic internet and then I will be able to actually get installed and start working properly again. Damn, I can’t wait! I’m buying a second-hand desk from a local company tomorrow (it was supposed to be today but yep – she had to cancel and postpone). I’m looking for a decent office chair at a good price. I will podcast standing up if I have to!

Speak to you soon but for now it’s just time to say, good bye bye bye bye bye bye

760. The Rick Thompson Report: Ukraine

Talking to my dad about the situation in Ukraine on 28 February 2022.

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Episode Introduction

Hello listeners

I’m recording this on 28 February 2022.

In this episode I’m going to talk about what’s going on in Ukraine.

I have LEPsters in both Ukraine and in Russia. 

The main thing I want to say is that I just hope that my listeners are able to stay safe – although that sounds hollow because of course some of them won’t be able to stay safe, and many people are being forced to choose not to stay safe.

I know it’s not simple, and there are various factions with different motivations. It’s not completely black and white but most people just want to be able to live their lives and live the best they can, but this war is making that impossible, and for what exactly?

In any case, I’m thinking of my listeners in Ukraine right now, and it seems that a lot of the rest of the world is also thinking of Ukraine at the moment, and sending their messages of support – and I’m talking about ordinary people here, right? Not the leaders or the regimes. 

But I also want to say that I am also thinking of my Russian listeners too because it’s not just as simple as the Ukranians being the good guys and the Russians being the bad guys. 

Russian people are facing their own difficulties at this moment too, because plenty of Russian people are not in favour of a war in Ukraine – a war which could only make things worse for everyone. There are no winners in war. 

So, I’ve decided that I am going to talk about the situation in Ukraine.

So, just to be clear I am talking about it because: 

a) I want to show some support for my listeners who are directly involved in this and to echo the message of millions of others around the world right now that this is not what we want. 

b) I want to just talk about the situation from our perspective here in the UK.

Some will say “You’re not getting the full story. Putin is just responding to NATO aggression.” Or “Putin is defending the rights of groups within Ukraine who want independence and who are being repressed”. That’s certainly the way he’s trying to justify this. 

Some might say “Why don’t you speak about other acts of violence in the world, or times when other nations violate the sovereignty of other nation states?” 

Some people might say “What about the UK’s aggression against other countries, including invasions which were dressed up as peacekeeping missions?” Don’t assume that because I’m British I support the actions of my government.

We should also not assume that Russian people automatically support the actions of their government. 

The people of a country and the governments or regimes in control of that country are not one and the same thing.

759. Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans

Join me as I walk around my local streets in Paris, go to the laundrette and ramble about what’s going on in LEPland at the moment.

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Other podcast recommendations

Some other things you could listen to while waiting for new episodes of LEP.

Film Gold: Monty Python & The Holy Grail

I was invited by Antony Rotunno onto one of his podcasts last week to discuss this British comedy classic.

My appearances on ZEP and RNR English at the end of last year

Episode 759 – Notes

I thought I would quickly record an episode to let you know that I’m still alive, LEP still exists, and I just want to give you a bit of an update on what’s going on and have a bit of a ramble.

I have other episodes in the pipeline and I was hoping to upload one of them this week, but for one reason or another, that’s not going to be possible so I’ve decided to record this one quickly and upload it quickly.

Again, I’m just recording this on my handheld recorder but I’m not at home because I can’t record at home, so I’m just in the street, reading some notes from my phone. 

Why aren’t you recording this at home Luke?

There are guys working on the flat above ours now.

We are now experiencing what our downstairs neighbours experienced when we did work on our place.

Our flat and the flat upstairs were sold at the same time. 

etc…

You can just imaging you are hanging out with me (in the streets of Paris) while I’m recording this. I’m just going walk around the neighbourhood while recording, trying to avoid noise, and trying to avoid the weird stares I might get from people in the street. 

It’s been more than 3 weeks since I uploaded an episode and this is only the 4th episode in about 2 months I think. 

I told you that the podcast would be delayed and disrupted, right? So it shouldn’t be a surprise. 

Why haven’t there been any episodes for almost a month?

Time flies!

Time races by.

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” (John Lennon)

I always wondered what John Lennon meant by that.

I guess he is expressing a kind of paradox that many of us live with.

While making plans for the future, real life just happens in the meantime, day by day, moment by moment. 

We aim for the future, we set our sights on things we would like to achieve, and make plans for those things.

But the fact is, life is really lived in the present, and while we are making plans, life just continues to happen to us in the present moment. 

I guess he is saying that we mustn’t forget to live in the moment and enjoy the moment.

I suppose for me at the moment, I mean that while making plans for this podcast, mainly the space in which I’m going to record it, real life has just been happening day by day. 

In fact, real life and the day to day tasks and challenges of it have been dominating my time recently, preventing me from being able to actually get to do the things I have been planning.

I’ve had a goal in mind for ages – sitting in my new podcast room which is more or less ready, with all my stuff arranged in a fairly tidy way (things on shelves, in drawers, guitars on walls, pictures or posters on the walls, a working internet connection, a decent desk, a comfy chair (which I might spend most of my life sitting on) the right kind of lights, a kettle, a backdrop for videos that looks pleasing to the eye, a computer which actually works and which allows me to record and edit audio and video properly, and so on and so forth, a kettle and cups of tea, another chair or two for guests… you know) but that goal or vision just keeps getting put back and put back.

Why? I can’t really even explain it – just general stuff has been getting in the way. I think a lot of people manage to move house and get back to their normal lives quite quickly, but this just seems to be taking ages and it’s because of lots of little things.

Here are some reasons why things are taking so long.

My daughter got sick with covid and I had to stay at home to look after her. My wife was also sick at the same time (not covid, mysteriously) and so I was off work looking after them. That was a week.

Teaching at the BC three mornings a week.

Wednesday afternoons with my daughter.

Not a massive amount of time. Normally it’s enough – in normal conditions, but these aren’t normal conditions.

I got sick – a couple of times actually. The first was a virus (not covid-19 – maybe covid-18 or one of the other covids). The second was a really bad back which caused loads of discomfort and a migraine. I couldn’t move, basically! Probably because of general stress but also the fact that I hadn’t sat on a comfortable chair for weeks. No sofa.

Washing machine delivered, but then broken – laundrette

Meeting with guy to fit radiators

Meeting with guy to get quotes for lots of other stuff at home, like making fitted shelves (beyond my skills) and other bits of carpentry

Meeting a guy for a quote for electricity at my office

Meeting guy who came to connect internet

Many other deliveries and things

The list goes on!

Now it’s the school holidays and we’re travelling tomorrow to the UK.

I might be able to record an RT Report or a Gill’s Book Club or something with my brother, but equally, I might not. Maybe we’ll just want to relax and have a holiday. I don’t know. I will see. 

Oh, and there are guys working on the flat upstairs, and guys working on the building opposite us. It’s like the entire city is under construction at the moment.

This is just what is going on in my small corner of the universe.

I am not complaining at all. I have a nice life and I’m very happy. But I’m feeling quite impatient and a bit frustrated at not being able to do the things I would like to do, and the fact that my goal keeps slipping further away from me. I will get there eventually! It’s like being in a car and using GPS, and the arrival time keeps changing and getting later and later as the GPS recalculates your route with delays and traffic and so on.

So, basically:

Bear with me

Hold on

If you’re impatient – hang in there

It’s a bit interminable – all this waiting around

But good things come to those who wait.

The podcast will be back again, properly, and I will be recording, producing and publishing audio & video episodes and premium episodes at the usual rhythm soon.

Maybe this is a good chance to catch up on episodes, or listen to episodes from the archive…

Speak to you on the podcast soon!

758. Pub Quiz Trivia with Sarah The Paris Quiz Mistress

Chatting to pub quiz host Sarah Toporoff about her love of trivia, and asking each other quiz questions about history, geography, literature, language & pop culture. Can you answer the questions and follow the conversation?

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Links

Introduction Transcript & Notes

Hello listeners! I hope you’re well. Welcome back to my podcast for learners of English around the world. That’s you, I assume. You are a learner of English and you are around the world. 

Welcome to another episode of my podcast. This is where you can get English into your life in the form of some regular listening practise. This time you’re going to hear me in conversation with a guest and the guest in this episode is my friend Sarah Toporoff who also goes by the name The Paris Quiz Mistress.

This is the first time she’s been on the show and that means this one will probably be a little more difficult for you to follow, but that’s alright – it’s all good practice. 

Sarah is originally from the USA (so you will be hearing an American accent from her, and a British accent from me in the same conversation – and yes, we actually understand each other of course) Anyway, Sarah is from the states, but these days she lives in Paris like me and basically – Sarah loves pub quizzes. In fact, she loves them so much that she decided to run her own pub quiz nights here in Paris, in English, which she does every Sunday evening. 

She writes questions and reads them out in a local pub for teams of people to answer in competition with each other. Sarah also has her own podcast in which she quizzes her friends on various bits of trivia relating to their interests. Her podcast is called The Paris Quiz Mistress Podcast.

So, in this episode I thought I would chat to Sarah about her love of quizzes, and then we could quiz each other with some fun questions, and you can see if you know the answers and generally try to keep up with the conversation and develop your English in the process.

So that’s what you’re going to get – and this is a swapcast, which means that both Sarah and I are publishing this on our respective podcasts. 

Before we continue I think I should give you a little bit of support before I throw you into the deep end and make you listen to this fairly fast conversation between two native speakers. 

So, let me just clarify a couple of bits of vocabulary and some culture which are key concepts for this episode, and I also have a few questions for you to consider, in order to help you prepare to understand this episode more easily.

Some words and concepts

A quiz

(Forgive me if I am stating the obvious here) A quiz is a fun game or competition in which someone tests your knowledge by asking you questions and you compete with others to answer those questions. Quizzes are usually done just for fun, unlike tests or exams for example, which are done not for fun. They usually involve questions relating to trivia…

Trivia (noun) / Trivial (adjective)

…and trivia basically means trivial information or facts which are interesting or amusing but not really presented for a specific purpose. “Oh, that’s quite interesting isn’t it?” ← that’s usually as deep as it gets. That’s trivia.

It’s just random bits of general knowledge, just for fun – facts and figures, names, dates, places, moments in history, pop culture and so on.

A pub quiz 

As the name suggests, a pub quiz is a quiz done in a pub. Big surprise there. But pub quizzes are a very common feature of normal life in the UK where any good pub will have a quiz night. If you’ve ever spent time living in the UK you might have noticed this. Perhaps on a weekday evening in the local pub you might see teams of people sitting at tables competing against each other to answer questions which are read out by a host who might be speaking into a microphone. It’s sort of an excuse to just be in the pub and have a few drinks, but it’s also a really fun way to spend an evening with other people.

A good host will prepare some tricky but achievable questions that make you think and that could spark some conversation later in the evening, and the host might throw in some funny comments here and there just to keep things light. The questions are often quite convoluted and might sound more difficult than they actually are. At the end, the answer sheets from each team are marked and the winning team wins a prize, typically a bottle of wine or something like that. Pub quizzes are also known as trivia nights in some places. 

Does that sound familiar? This is the world of the pub quiz. Are they a common feature in your country? Do they happen in pubs? Do you have pubs? Do you have questions? Do you have facts where you live? Are there other people? I don’t know where you are. 

Fun quizzes like this also take place in other situations – and I’m talking about the UK and other English speaking places too and often things are similar in our cultures. I’m sure it’s the same for you, but is it? I don’t know. Anyway, where I’m from quizzing is sort of part of our DNA. Any excuse for a quiz – in pubs but also at family get togethers, at school or even at work Christmas parties and things like that. 

Sorry for rambling here but seriously – thinking about this stuff might help you to focus your attention on the topic of this conversation  bit more closely and follow things more easily, and therefore learn more English from this and as a result get a feeling of accomplishment which you carry with you in your life, bringing extra positivity and confidence which ultimately helps to make you a more successful and fulfilled person in your life, which then impacts on other people in similar ways and the benefits spread out from you in concentric circles improving the lives of other people around you and they start smiling a bit more and ultimately the world becomes that bit better which makes all the difference to the global balance of everything and basically I save the world with my podcast. That’s all I’m trying to do, so don’t stand in my way, ok? The fate of the world depends on this, alright?

Now, just in case this introduction wasn’t long enough, I am now going to quickly read out the questions that Sarah and I are going to ask each other in this episode, just to give you a chance to understand them in advance so you don’t get lost in the conversation.

You see, I am COMMITTED to helping you learn English and that means I am willing to make these episode introductions at least 3 minutes longer than they should be in order to give you a helping hand in understanding fast-paced and naturalistic dialogues between native speakers of English. That is how much I care. 

Quiz Questions in this Episode

So listen to these questions, understand them, can you answer them? You’ll be more prepared. Listen to the episode to get the answers.

  • How many countries make up the UK and can you name those countries?
  • Which Eastern European country shares zero of the same borders with countries that it shared borders with in 1989 although its physical borders have not moved? (note: I hope you don’t mind the term “Eastern European country”)

Sarah’s Questions for me

These might seem a bit random, but Sarah is a great quiz mistress and there is a link between all the answers to these questions, and it’s a link that is tailored to me somehow. 

  1. For which film did the MPAA refuse to allow use of Ben Stiller’s character’s last name in the title, unless filmmakers could find an actual person with that last name?
  2. What 2nd novel by English author Charles Dickens is alternately titled “The Parish Boy’s Progress?”
  3. What film series began in 1988 and stars Bruce Willis as John McClane?
  4. In British English it means “eraser”, in American it means “condom”. What is it?
  5. What is the type of gun that features as a weapon in the board game “Cluedo”?
  6. “Scar Tissue” is the name of Anthony Keidis’ autobiography as well as one of his hits, with which band?
  7. PD James, Edgar Allan Poe and Gaston Leroux are all writers specialising in what genre? 
  8. The flags of Romania, Colombia and Moldova all primarily feature which 3 colours?
  9. The first episode of what television drama opens with the news that that RMS Titanic has sunk?

Luke’s Questions for Sarah

My questions are really quite stupid and in fact I am not listing them here because they are too silly and I will let you discover them in all their glory as you listen to the episode. So just listen on if you want to hear my questions for Sarah – but to give you a heads up they focus on music, movies (well, one movie) and British English slang, so there is definitely some vocabulary to learn here!

MMMBop by Hanson

Mmm Bop – Lyrics

Can you tell me any of the lyrics from the first verse?

Answers:

You have so many relationships in this life

Only one or two will last

You go through all the pain and strife

Then you turn your back and they’re gone so fast

Oh yeah (so much wisdom from someone so young)

And they’re gone so fast, yeah

Oh, so hold on the ones who really care

In the end they’ll be the only ones there

And when you get old and start losing your hair

Can you tell me who will still care (Hair was important to them)

Can you tell me who will still care? (interesting discussion point)

Oh care

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba duba dop

Ba du, oh yeah

Mmmbop, ba duba dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du bop, ba du dop

Ba du, yeah

Said oh yeah

In an mmmbop they’re gone

Yeah yeah

Yeah yeah

Plant a seed, plant a flower, plant a rose

You can plant any one of those

Keep planting to find out which one grows

It’s a secret no one knows

It’s a secret no one knows (Is it really a secret?)

Oh, no one knows

MMMM MMMM MMMM MMMM by Crash Test Dummies

Anaconda – 1997 (Trailer)

Luke’s British Slang Questions

  • If you describe something as pants, how do you feel about it?

“That film was pants. Total pants.”

Answer: bad

  • How would you feel if you’d run out of bog roll?

You’d feel gutted of course.

Answer: Bog roll means toilet paper

  • Can you give me a reason why you might feel “chuffed”?

Answer: chuffed means pleased, delighted, happy

  • What would a British person probably say if they wanted to claim something, like perhaps a chocolate biscuit or a comfortable chair?

Answer: Bagsee!

  • If someone needed to get some kip, how would they probably feel?

Answer: You’d feel sleepy or tired, because kip means sleep (noun)

  • What F word is used to say that someone is physically attractive? (It’s like saying “hot”)

Answer: fit

  • What L word is a generic sickness – like the flu or a bad cold? (a pre-covid expression)

Answer: The lurgy

  • Where do you put suitcases in a car in the UK?

Answer: in the boot

  • What about the engine?

Under the bonnet

In any case, whether you can answer these questions or not, I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation about trivia and that you manage to keep up with it all and pick up some English. I will chat to you again very very briefly at the end, but it’s now time to get started properly and here we go…

Listen to the episode to get all the answers to the questions!

In other news…

My pod-room still isn’t ready but it should be connected to electricity and internet in a couple of weeks.

I’m still waiting to get a WIFI internet connection at home.

My shelves haven’t fallen down yet :)

I am working on LEP Premium series 33 parts 3 and 4 and they should be uploaded soon.

Video versions of episodes will return when I have a decent internet connection (and a new computer which is coming too…)

756. Learn English with LEP in 2022 / A New Year Ramble

In this episode I’m going to wish you a Happy New Year, ramble a little bit about what’s going on in LEPland, restate some of my aims and objectives for this podcast, and give a few comments on how you can use the podcast to improve your English, with reference to some recommended episodes from the archive.

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Episode Notes & Links

Happy New Year everyone! (new listeners, long-term listeners, mid-term listeners and anyone else who happens to be listening)

All the best for 2022. Try to keep up your motivation for learning English throughout the year. I hope I can help. That is my aim.

How was your Christmas/New Year? Did you have a holiday? What did you do?
What’s the situation Luke, as you record this? (summarise the last couple of weeks, and what’s going on around you)

I might not be able to upload episodes regularly for the next few weeks. If LEP goes quiet – I am still here and still working, but not able to record or upload because of all the different disruptions. My life is like a puzzle at the moment and I am putting all the pieces back together.

LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST – AIMS

  • To provide a resource of authentic speech for learners of English.

Episode suggestions
All of them! Especially ones which are unscripted. 

  • To inform my audience about methods and strategies for improving their English.

Episode suggestions
174. How to learn English with Luke’s English Podcast

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

669. How to Learn English

  • To educate my listeners about the English language by explaining or providing examples of grammar.

Episode suggestions
Premium episodes www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo (articles, sentence structure, present perfect tense, narrative tenses, modal verbs about the past, quantifiers and more) but also a lot of episodes in the archive deal with grammar. Here’s a selection.

19. Passive Verb Forms

29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses

44. Telling Anecdotes

53. Discussing Grammar with My Brother

69. Common Errors / Typical Mistakes

176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review (should be premium really!)

263. Past, Present & Future A chance to really understand the tenses in English, with lots of context.

372. The Importance of Anecdotes in English / Narrative Tenses / Four Anecdotes This episode has a bit of everything: useful tips for telling anecdotes, a review of narrative verb tenses, some authentic spoken anecdotes by members of my family and some vocabulary explanations.

406. Grammar (Past Continuous Tense) / UK Media Bias / Brazil Football Tragedy A review of the differences between past continuous tense and past simple tense

518. Grammar Questions (Part 1) Present Perfect Continuous / Future Continuous / Language of Newspaper Headlines – Answering grammar questions from listeners, with details about verb tenses (including present continuous vs present perfect continuous & future continuous vs going to) and the language of newspaper headlines.

518b is in the LEP app – [App-only Episode] 518b Grammar Questions (Part 2) Hope vs Wish / Relative Clauses (an overview) / Prepositions

  • To enrich the vocabulary of my listeners by presenting and teaching natural English usage in context.

Suggested episodes
Check the archive here
teacherluke.co.uk/archive-of-episodes-1-149/ and try doing a command+F search for vocabulary, or search for the word vocabulary in the app.

  • To entertain my audience by producing fun and interesting content specifically targeted at learners of English as a second language.

  • To highlight particular aspects of English (language) culture including themes about Britishness, accounts of key moments in history, politics and the arts, with a particular focus on comedy and film.

Suggested episodes
Search the archive for the words British and comedy
The Rick Thompson Report, Film Club, British Comedy, Luke’s D-Day Diary, and more…

  • To raise awareness of many features of British English pronunciation and provide practice of repeating certain phrases or constructions.

Suggested episodes
All premium episode series have dedicated pronunciation episodes. Also, these ones:

224. Pronunciation: Verb Tenses & Connected Speech Learn how native speakers really pronounce sentences in different tenses.

485 & 486. Difficult Words to Pronounce in English (with Paul Taylor) (Parts 1 & 2) + video This is a double episode with two audio episodes on one page, and it’s all about difficult pronunciation in English. 

682. Key Features of English Accents, Explained – Exploring the main differences between standard English pronunciation (RP) and non-standard regional or colloquial accents. 

And various episodes about accents…

  • To keep my audience engaged in the listening process long term, by providing a resource to help them laugh while they learn.

  • To make people laugh out loud on public transport while listening to the podcast!

  • To dominate the world with an army of LEP ninjas equipped with biscuits and good English. …Ok, one of my listeners asked me to add this as an aim for my podcast, ha ha! (Thanks Chriss Benitez)

Those episodes can be found in the LEP app or via the episode archive. Most good podcasting apps will have the entire archive, but I think iTunes or Apple Podcasts doesn’t show all episodes. YouTube doesn’t show all episodes either. Only some of my episodes are on YT. I’d like them all to be there (just the audio) eventually.

HOW TO USE LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST TO IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH

People from all over the world use my podcasts to improve their English, and lots of people email me to tell me how much they love the podcast and find it useful. Some of you might be wondering how you can improve your English by using the podcast. I’ll tell you more about this in a moment, but let me first recommend a couple of podcast episodes you could listen to.

Click here to listen to an episode with lots of advice and suggestions for improving your English with L.E.P. It has a transcript too. (Episode 174)

Click here for an episode called “16 things you should know about LEP”. (Episode 251)

Many people tell me they are completely addicted to the show. Usually they say that they found the podcast via one episode in particular and then start listening to all the others before becoming completely hooked. I have quite a hard-core following. The podcast won the Macmillan Dictionary Award four times and was nominated for a British Council ELTon award, so I must be doing something right!

L.E.P combines English teaching with plenty of entertaining conversation, humour and genuine insight into the culture of the English language. My methodology and approach are based on the idea that language is acquired by engaging with it in authentic form, over longer periods of time. Although this is not the only way to improve your English, listening to natural authentic speech over quite long periods of time can greatly improve your listening skills, pronunciation and vocabulary. This goes on to improve your spoken English, and your general instinct for grammar. I try to balance this approach by regularly recording episodes in which I directly teach you vocabulary, pronunciation or grammar.

Good grammatical awareness is based on instinct as much as on active knowledge of the rules of English. When you take an English exam you have to answer questions that test your knowledge and use of grammar or vocabulary. For example, consider this question:
FILL THE GAP IN THE SENTENCE WITH THE APPROPRIATE WORD
“I just can’t rely __ this car any more. It keeps breaking down. I need a new one.”

1. with          2. from        3. on          4. to

The answer is ‘3. on’, of course.
How did you know the answer? Really think about it. How did you know that ‘on’ was right? Do you remember learning ‘rely on’ in a book, or in a class? Maybe you did. But, for many of you, the answer just felt correct. Your instinct just said ‘on’. Well, this instinct is what you develop when you read or listen to the language a lot. Your brain builds up a kind of memory bank of all the words you have seen and heard. So, when you see ‘rely ___’ you automatically feel that ‘on’ is the right answer. Why? Because you’ve seen/heard ‘rely on’ lots of times!

The point is, that listening to English a lot can really help you to get a ‘feel’ for the language. You learn grammar rules by the frequency in which you hear patterns. You learn about good pronunciation by hearing the language a lot. You develop an ‘ear’ for English.

It’s just like when you live in a foreign country to learn English. It’s the best way to learn a language. Just live in that country and get completely surrounded by the language every day. Eventually you pick it up and learn it well. That’s because you’re hearing it so much and you’re getting used the rhythm and intonation. Every language has a beat. You can learn the beat of English by hearing it a lot.

So, you can use Luke’s English Podcast to do this. It’s like living in another country. You can listen a lot, pick up bits of vocabulary, get a ‘feel’ for the language, understand pronunciation and all kinds of cultural stuff. Not only that, but many listeners tell me the best thing about the podcast is simply that it makes them laugh out loud.

So, enjoy the podcasts and good luck with your English.

CLICK HERE FOR ThE ARCHIVE OF ALL THE EPISODES OF LUKE’S ENGLISH PODCAST.

754. Learning & Teaching English in The Metaverse / The Mandalorian (with Andy Johnson)

Andy Johnson returns to talk about more “M” words – this time it’s The Metaverse and The Mandalorian. The Metaverse is an immersive and interactive 3D online environment. How can it be used for learning and teaching English? Andy’s new job is with a company that offers English learning in the metaverse, so let’s chat about it. Also, we finally talk about The Mandalorian on LEP after waiting nearly a year! This is probably the last episode of LEP in 2021 – so Merry Christmas everyone and I hope you have a Happy New Year!

Audio version (with a meta-themed introduction and a ramble about December)

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Video Versions (just the conversation with Andy, in two parts)

Find out more about learning English in the metaverse using Fluent Worlds Academy here academy.fluentworlds.com/

Introduction Transcript

Hello listeners, how are you? How’s December going for you so far? (I’m recording this in December of course, which is why I just said that – it’s the middle of December) How’s December for you? 

It can be a weird month December – it’s pretty much the middle of winter and if you celebrate Christmas then December becomes a bit stressful because the Christmas holiday is coming and you have to make sure you’ve got presents for everyone, and you have to sort out your travel plans and work out how much time you are willing or able to spend with your different family members and it all gets a bit stressful, and of course everyone else is going through the same thing so generally people seem a bit stressed out at this time. If you’re late with your Christmas shopping then that becomes a mad rush and the shops are full of desperate people like in that film with Arnold Shwarzenegger…

plus work commitments seem a bit heavy because everyone’s trying to get things done before the Christmas break and so things get a bit much. 

It’s certainly true here for me, because as you know (because I’ve been banging on about it since the summer) we are moving house and having work done on the new place and that’s making things so much more complicated. 

Actually, I think this might be the last episode of the year, but I am not sure. I have a couple of other ones in the pipeline but time is running out very quickly, so this might be the final episode of Luke’s English Podcast for 2021. 

Merry Christmas everyone – if you celebrate Christmas of course and if you don’t celebrate Christmas I will just say seasons greetings. If you don’t get more podcasts after this until January some time, then you can imagine that I’ve had to pack up all my podcast gear, switched off the internet and moved all our stuff to a new flat, which will probably be full of boxes, and maybe no internet connection, meanwhile I’ll be at my parents place in England (COVID permitting) just doing the usual Christmas things, and the podcast will return in January, probably, but we will see. I might be able to upload more before the new year, but there’s no guaranteeing that. So I will say Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year to you now. 

Anyway, let me talk about this episode then. It’s an interview episode and this time Andy Johnson is back on the podcast after a long absence. If you don’t know him because you haven’t heard his episodes, or if you have heard those episodes and your memory is not working to its full capacity – Andy is a friend and former colleague of mine. I won’t say more because we talk about all of that at the start of the conversation. All will become clear as you listen.

The title of this one is something like this: Learning & Teaching English in the Metaverse / The Mandalorian (with Andy Johnson)

So there are two topics here. The Metaverse and The Mandalorian. This is one single audio episode with this introduction but the video version is in two parts – one which is just our chat about the metaverse, and another one which is just our chat about The Mandalorian. 

In this audio version, let’s start with The Metaverse. 

Again, Andy is going to explain this himself, but to be clear The Metaverse (or maybe a metaverse – because there is more than one) is essentially a 3D open world online. A metaphysical space which exists on the internet where people can go and interact and do all sorts of things. It’s a bit like a primitive version of The Matrix from the film The Matrix, but the graphics aren’t as good, yet, and it’s not quite as scary and evil, yet.

As these sorts of open online worlds become more and more sophisticated and as we learn how to use them, we will probably all find ourselves operating within them more and more, for various things – especially for creating virtual workspaces for people working from home or working from different locations but part of a team. Currently we use things like Zoom calls with breakout rooms and screensharing, Microsoft Teams and other platforms. But eventually these shared online spaces will probably become more immersive, opening up so many possibilities for team work which perhaps are more natural and intuitive because they simulate the real world more directly, but with so much more control – we’re talking about 3D environments in which you can move anywhere, manipulate the environment and so on.

These metaverses can seem a little bit scary when you consider the frightening visions of this kind of thing we’ve had from films like The Matrix, but on the other hand they should allow us to work, collaborate and also play together in more productive and enjoyable ways than the current methods we have. Of course, many people are already using them especially for gaming. 

There’s a lot to discuss regarding these sorts of new online spaces, and I say “new” but they’re not really that new – remember Second Life – the immersive 3D online world? And of course there are all the online multiplayer games that people play – including things like GTA online. 

The metaverse has been around for years in various forms. So, there’s a lot to discuss here in terms of what the metaverse is, how it could be used and the philosophical ramifications of it all but what Andy and I are going to focus on in this conversation is how the metaverse could be used as an environment in which to learn and teach English, and what the advantages of that could be.

So that’s the main focus of our chat really. Then after that, we have a chat about the Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian. This is quite long overdue on this podcast as I wanted to talk about it in an episode or two at the start of 2021 when The Mandalorian season 2 was first streamed on Disney+ and it was all fresh in people’s minds. Quite a few listeners got in touch to ask me to share my thoughts on it on the podcast – so, finally here we go. There’s about 25 minutes of chat about The Mandalorian, including spoilers for the end of season 2. 

Now, I know that not everyone is a Star Wars fan, which is totally fine of course, so it might not be for all of you, but it’s at the end of this conversation so hopefully the Star Wars fans will be happy to hear us discuss it (quite briefly I must say) and the non-Star Wars fans can feel free just to take it or leave it. In any case, keep listening if you want to hear me talking about The Mandalorian, finally.

We’re nearly ready to start but I think I should also add something about the lexicology of the word “Meta”, since we are talking about The Metaverse here.

I would say that metaverse is something of a portmanteau word because it’s a bit like a new word which has been made by sticking together two other words: meta and universe. 

The verse part is from universe of course, and also have multiverse is a trending word at the moment because of the new Spiderman film and the upcoming Doctor Strange film “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” Multiverse means a system of many interconnected universes or parallel worlds and I think now in phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe we have many different alternate realities all converging, which should be entertaining and quite confusing as well, potentially. But multiverse is not the word we’re dealing with here – that’s another episode for another time.

So let me just refocus on metaverse. So we know what the -verse part of that means – universe.

But what about meta?

This word (or prefix) is currently being used more than ever.

You probably saw the recent news that Facebook changed its name to Meta. Actually the social network will still be called Facebook as far as I know. The company behind it though, will be called Meta.

So what is the word meta? Is it even a word, or just a prefix? Let’s see.

The word or prefix “meta” comes from Ancient Greek and essentially means “beyond” or “about”. 

There are many uses of the word. In some cases the it’s an adjective – “That’s very meta” and some cases it’s a prefix to a noun, like in metaphysical or metaverse.

Essentially, meta refers to going beyond something or going outside something, and becoming self aware.

In the case of the metaverse, which is a metaphysical online universe, this means going beyond the normal physical limitations of the real world, and entering a world which is somehow outside that reality – a world, like The Matrix, which is free from the limitations of the real world. So that’s an example of when meta means “beyond”.

Sometimes meta means “about”, and for me this is like going outside of something and then looking back at the thing you have transcended and commenting on it, talking about it and so on. 

For example, a film might be described as meta when the the film becomes self-aware and starts commenting the medium of film itself. This is hard to explain. 

Let’s say this – the TV series Friends was not very meta, I think. The characters lived in their world and lived their lives and there was never a sense that they knew they were living in a fictional made up place. But, if at any point the characters in the film started commenting on their world but from an outside view, then that would be meta. For example, if Chandler and Joey started commenting on how their apartment building wasn’t real or that they lived inside a TV show, or if Rachel said something like “I’m a waitress, so how can I afford to live in this nice big apartment in Manhattan??” maybe even looking at the camera while doing it, then that would be quite meta – if the show started to realise it was just a show, and in fact was commenting on that. Then the show would be outside of itself and commenting on itself – self aware.

So that’s meta the adjective, meaning self-referential, or self-aware – the “about” part of that old Greek meaning.

Another example of meta.

In learning English we talk about metacognitive strategies. These are ways of thinking about how you learn, and the way you think about learning. You go outside of your normal learning behaviour, observe it, consider it and think about it, perhaps creating new ways to think about and approach your learning habits. For example, many of the things that Bahar from Iran talked about in her episode of the WISBOLEP competition this year – these were metacognitive strategies. Her first approach to learning English didn’t work, so she actually stepped out of her position, reconsidered her whole approach, and created other ways of thinking and learning, and the results worked well. She applied some metacognitive strategies to her learning of English.

Meta can also be a noun, in gaming especially. People talk about a meta while gaming. I’m not completely sure about this because I’m not really a gamer, but as far as I can tell, a “meta” is the best strategy to use in order to win a game. I’ve even read that it’s an acronym –  the “Most Effective Tactics Available”. That’s a bit specific and only for the L33T gamers out there.

There are also other uses of the word meta, but they’re very specific and relate to things like different mathematical and scientific systems. But I think that’s probably enough about the word or prefix meta at this stage.

Let’s now go back to the metaverse again, and consider how immersive 3D online worlds can help us learn and teach English. That’s the main aim for this conversation. 

You’re probably fully primed for some metaverse and Mandalorian chat now, but of course  there is about 10 minutes of general chat and catching up with Andy before we get into the topic properly. That’s just the way things are done on LEP. This is the way.

OK, so now that you’re prepared for the episode, let’s get started!


Learn English in the metaverse with Fluent Worlds Academy here academy.fluentworlds.com/


Ending

How many M words came up in this episode? 

  • Millenials
  • Marathons
  • Moving
  • Moby
  • Metaverse
  • Multiverse
  • Metaphysical
  • Mandalorian
  • Marvel
  • Matrix

It’s like Andy and I only exist in a parallel universe where everything begins with an M. 

Bonus points for any listeners who can find any other significant M words in this conversation. 

(I found one: metacognitive strategies)

This might be the last episode of LEP in 2021. I’m now moving to the new apartment and the new office, and spending some time in the UK for Christmas. Speak to you in 2022 (unless I manage to squeeze out another episode during the Christmas break)!

Bye bye bye!

752. Creating Award-Winning Books for Children (with Penny Dale)

Author and illustrator Penny Dale talks about the process of creating successful books for children, including some of her most popular books such as Ten In The Bed and the Dinosaur series. Video version available. Audio version has 30mins extra rambling.

Audio Version (with 30mins extra rambling at the end)

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Video Version

www.pennydale.co.uk

Episode Introduction

Hi listeners, welcome back to the podcast.

Just before I introduce the episode properly, I have some Amber & Paul news for you. First of all, Amber and Paul will be back on the podcast very soon. It’s been a while since they made an appearance, but probably the next episode will be with them, which is nice. But also, Amber and I will be on Paul’s YouTube live show on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time.

Every Monday Paul does a live show called Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live – you can find that by searching for it on YouTube. In the show he features guests and they respond to comments from the audience and generally talk and have fun. His next guests will be Amber and me (finally – we’re both going to be on it together) and that’s on Monday 6 December at 8pm Paris time. If you’re listening to this after that date and you’ve already missed it or if you can’t watch it live, you will be able to see the replay on Paul’s YouTube channel.

OK? So, if you’re keen for more Amber, Paul and Luke action – check out Paul Taylor’s Happy Hour Live on Monday 6 December at 8pm, either live or on replay.

Another thing – my merch stores are currently offering discounts, so if you’d like to get an LEP t-shirt or mug or hoodie or something – for yourself or as a Christmas present for another LEPster, now might be a good time because of discounts. Just go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch to find the merch stores.

Also, I hope you enjoyed the previous episode of this podcast – also with Penny Dale. I just wanted to let Premium LEPsters know that there is a premium episode in the pipeline, which will be called “What did Penny say?” and that’s going to cover vocabulary from our conversation about the Bath Arts Workshop. So, that’s coming. For all the info about LEP Premium, go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo

~ Jingle ~

Hello, so, let me tell you about his episode, briefly. In this one I am talking again to Penny Dale. This time we focus on her work as an author and illustrator of children’s books – and she’s had a very successful career doing that, which is quite rare.

I think this conversation is absolutely lovely – and I hope you agree. It’s just nice listening to Penny talking about her work, especially as the work itself is so thoughtful and done with a lot of care and attention, and it’s all for children.

Just to give you an overview, you are going to hear Penny talking about these things:

  • The process of creating successful books for children
  • Collaborating with editors and other writers 
  • Adapting an old nursery rhyme into one of her most popular books
  • Inspiration vs craft
  • Managing to create a coherent story which would appeal to children (and publishers) within just 12 page spreads (usually)
  • Applying her fine art training to her work
  • The way language is used in children’s books – incorporating rhythm, rhyme, repetition, storytelling and perspectives – the point of view from which the story is told.
  • How she uses models in her illustration process to create the hyperreal and very detailed style that she is known for – in fact, several of the models she has used in the past are toys that she borrowed from a certain bedroom in a certain house.

This conversation includes references to some of her most popular titles, including Ten In The Bed, Dinosaur Dig, Dinosaur Farm and Dinosaur Rocket.

The video version includes some pictures – that’s mostly Penny showing pages from her books, but she describes the images in some detail so even without the video version you should still get you a good idea of what her work actually looks like. But you can see the work in the video version. The audio version of this, which you listening to now, has more content in it – this introduction and there will an ending ramble from me of some kind too, so – take your pick. Video version on YouTube, audio podcast version, or both!

OK then, without any further ado, let’s find out about how Penny has created successful books for children.

Ending Ramble

Luke rambles about some upcoming content, the new Beatles documentary, and a few other things.

Amber & Paul on location in a famous museum – talking about some amazing works of art from various periods, including the Mona Lisa – that famous portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.

Don’t forget Paul Tayor’s Happy Hour Live (watch the replay if you missed the live stream) Monday 6 December at 8PM CET.

Andy Johnson will be back on the podcast soon (long term listeners might remember Andy)

I’m desperate to talk about the new Beatles documentary, and I think I will – when I get the chance!

Talks in English at the British Council in Paris – “Why we love The Beatles” <– my talk, which is scheduled for Thursday 27 January 2022 – 19.00

Link to reserve your seat www.britishcouncil.fr/en/events/talks-english-beatles or just go to britishcouncil.fr and then What’s On.

If you’re in Paris – come along to that. I’m going to record a podcast while doing it, I hope.

I’ve still got a lot on my plate! I will upload as regularly as possible, but we will see if the podcast gets disrupted by the move which is still yet to happen. New pod-room.

LEP Merch – Christmas present ideas? All the designs, including competition winners – they’re all there. Watch out for discounts in the merch stores.

750. An Unedited Ramble / How to talk about Being Busy in English

In this unedited episode I share some of the thoughts that have been running through my head, talk about being busy and look at some vocabulary to describe busy times in your life. Video version available.

Audio Version

[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Video Version

Vocabulary Notes

How to talk about being busy in English

1. The word “busy”

Pronunciation

/bɪzi/ “Bizzy” – like “business”

Not “Buzzy”

Collocations

  • A busy time
  • To be extremely busy
  • To be busy with something
  • To be busy +ing
  • To be too busy + infinitive
  • awfully, extremely, really, terribly, very | exceptionally, particularly | desperately, frantically | a bit, fairly, pretty, quite, rather | constantly

2. Expressions for when you have too many things to do and you don’t have time for everything

  • To have a lot to do (It’s possessive have, so don’t put it in the continuous form)
  • To have an awful lot to do, to have a hell of a lot to do
  • To have a lot of things to doTo have loads of things to do
  • To have tons of things to do
  • To have a lot on
  • To have a lot going on
  • To be rushed off your feet = Always in a hurry because you have so many things to do
  • To be up to your ears/neck in work, admin, marking, assessments
  • To be under a lot of pressure
  • To work well under pressure
  • To be snowed under (with something)
  • To be swamped (with)
  • To be overwhelmed
  • To have your hands full
  • To have a lot on your plate

A busy time

  • A full day/month/year
  • Hectic
  • It’s all go (go go)
  • Things are a bit mad/crazy/hectic/Full-on
  • (to be in) a mad rush

3. Expressions for when being busy is good, because having time on your hands and doing nothing is bad

  • To keep yourself busy
  • I’m keeping myself busy

That’s all for this episode. Speak to you next time! Bye bye bye…

749. LEP DESIGN COMPETITION 2021: Discussing the Entries & Choosing the Winners with James

James and Luke discuss designs sent in by listeners, and choose the winner(s). The prize: to have your design featured in the LEP Merch Store, plus an £80 reward! Listen for plenty of descriptive language, diplomatic language and ways of giving positive and feedback in English. Video version also available (with all the designs on screen) below.

Audio Version

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[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Video Version (with all the designs on the screen, automatic subtitles and chapters for each section of the episode)

LEP Merch – available here: www.teacherluke.co.uk/merch

Do you want an LEP t-shirt, mug or something else? Could be a good Christmas present idea for a LEPster that you know.

DESIGNS FROM LISTENERS 1-18

All designs are presented in the order in which they arrived in my email inbox.

Listen to hear all our comments and to discover the winners.

1. Iwona

2. Kyoungjin Lee

3. Francisca

4. Silvia & Sara

Design 1
Design 2

5. Giuliana

6. Adel

7. Lenka

8. Evgeniya

9. Alyona

10. Denis

Design 1
Design 2

11. Jakub

13. All4Band.com team

14. Sia

15. Andrey

16. Max

17. Sophia

18. Julie

Who won? Listen to the episode to find out!

Thank you to everyone who threw their hat in the ring!

Congratulations to the winners. You will receive emails from me with the next steps.

James’ Music

Click here to find James’ recent music on Bandcamp.

748. Karl Pilkington’s 3-Minute Wonders / Manchester Accent [Part 2]

Understand more of Karl Pilkington’s rambling as we learn about the Manchester accent and pick up vocabulary along the way. Video version available on YouTube.

Audio Version

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Video Version

Episode Transcript

Introduction

Hello everyone. Welcome back to LEP. This is part 2 of a double Karl Pilkington themed episode. I would recommend that you listen to part 1 of this first – it contains important context about who Karl is plus more details about Karl’s pronunciation and accent. 

Listening to that first will help a great deal in understanding this one.

I got plenty of good responses to part 1 of this, so let’s carry on.

In this part we are going to continue as we did before – listening to Karl Pilkington talking about various subjects, understanding exactly what he says, looking at features of his Manchester accent and picking up vocabulary along the way.

Karl is basically just a normal bloke from Manchester and his accent is fairly typical for people from that area so this episode aims to help you understand his accent and pick up vocabulary too.

Some responses to part 1

I disagree with Karl on most things.

Is he arrogant?

I just enjoy the way he puts things. He speaks like a comedian in the way that he expresses a point of view and has a certain way with words, but he’s not a comedian.

This is the enigma of Karl Pilkington – is he really just being himself, or is he playing a comedy character, and in real life he’s a lot more erudite.

I actually think it’s the former not the latter and that he’s just being himself. He just happens to have a funny way of putting his opinions across. 

Sometimes the best comedy comes from someone sharing a specific opinion. I think this is what I enjoy about this, rather than the opinions he is expressing, and as I said I disagree with Karl about most things, and some things he says are quite laughable – especially stuff he’s said on the Ricky Gervais podcast, like his Monkey News stories.

One other thing – apparently it is possible to be choked by a live octopus as you eat it. What I meant was that it would be impossible for an octopus to strangle you from the inside, as strangling means choking from the outside of the throat, with your hands for example, but of course a live octopus could choke you from within, by sticking its arms up into your throat or your windpipe. So, fair enough, it is possible for an octopus to choke you.

Also, in the UK we do eat oysters – which are raw seafood, so I think raw fish are generally ok in the UK but most other raw things would be considered a bit strange for us.

Quick Pronunciation Recap

In part 1 we listened to Karl talk about life, health and food and in terms of his accent I talked about H-drops

  • I’m 32, I think I’ve got the hang of it.
  • Look, how many do you need?

glottal stops 

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.

The ‘bath/trap’ split 

  • podcast/podcast
  • laugh/laugh
  • path/path
  • bath/bath

/ʊ/ not /ʌ/

Do you go to the gym much? 

Topics: Holidays & Karl’s Fridge

This time he’s going to talk about holidays and his fridge and we will look at more features of his accent.

There’s a video version of this on youtube with text on the screen, plus you will find all the text presented on the page for this episode on my website. 

Just one more thing before we start – I have premium episodes in the pipeline for these two episodes of LEP. The Premium episodes will be a chance to review and remember the vocabulary that comes up in these episodes, and then pronunciation drills too. So, I’ll do a sort of memory quiz with you to see how much vocab you remember and then the usual pronunciation drills – but in my accent, not Karl’s. 

Sign up to LEP Premium

www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo 


#4 Karl on Holidays

(not Karl on Holiday)

Karl is on a camping holiday, sitting in a tent and moaning. 

  1. Why does Karl think holidays are stressful?
  2. What does Karl think of Lanzarote’s nickname?
  3. What did Karl do on his holiday there?
  4. What’s the problem with holidays in the UK?
  5. What did he think of the seal sanctuary he went to?
  6. What’s the best place Karl has been? Why?
  7. What does Karl think of holidays to the moon?

Vocabulary

You’ve got free time on your hands which you’re not used to.

We ended up walking around this seal sanctuary. 14 quid. £

They were just floating about, hardly moving.

I’m not having a go, but don’t charge me to come in, or at least let me see them again when they’re better.

The coliseum, they don’t do it up.

There’s no overheads.

That’s a mess. Get it knocked down.

At the end of the day the moon is just a big rock. You may/might as well go to Lanzarote.


PRONUNCIATION #3

Nasal

Alright so I went on holiday and it was great and all that.

  • I’ll have a look at the meteorites.
  • If you’re going to eat a live animal, don’t eat one that’s got eight arms that can get hold of your neck.
  • When’s the last time you heard about a tortoise having a heart attack?

Works well with glottal stops.

Nasal sound in /aʊ/ and /ai/ sounds

/aʊ/ in words like about and now sounds more nasal.

What’s he going on about now?

If there were dinosaurs about now and that.

If we’ve run out we need to go outside and get some more.

Nasal sound in /ai/ sound

The /ai/ sound in words like alive, inside, survive, fighting, riot and dying sounds more nasal.

You’re not supposed to eat them alive.

We’ve got to stay inside if we want to survive.

If they were running about fighting and dying and that.

Running riot (sounds like “roonin raiyut”)


#5 Karl on his fridge

Karl’s fridge is broken and he called out a guy to fix it. 

Naturally he’s moaning about workmen who come to your house to do different jobs.

  1. Why does the guy charge £80?
  2. What is Karl’s main problem with engineers, plumbers, workers who have to come to his house?
  3. What advice does the fridge guy give to Karl?
  4. What’s the problem with Karl’s new fridge?

Vocabulary

The fella turned up, right.

Yeah, it’s broke. (broken)

That’s why I called you out.

That’s 80 quid

I said, “you what?” 

An 80 quid callout charge.

I tell you. They wind me up.

I had a fella come round to do the tiling

Turned up late with a carrier bag.

A pot noodle

A copy of the Daily Mirror

A crossword book

He was asking what the pub was like across the road. “What is …. like?”

Having a laugh

When did you last vac it out

Vacuum cleaner

You’re meant to vac them out, because dust and that gets in.

Can’t afford any food to put in it.

It needs wiring in. It’s got one of those fancy plug things.


PRONUNCIATION #4

A lot of other vowel sounds are nasal too.

Turn the corner /ɔː/

They becomes thee

It depends what they do with it.

Why have they only just found that? 

How did they miss that?

Also, he adds little fillers like:

(Do you) know what I mean?

Right? (just sounds like a nazal grunt, almost)

… and that

Like that

And whatnot

And stuff like that

Do you know what I mean?

I tell ya…

Watch out for those things if you like.


Ending

Ladies and gentlemen, this brings us to the end of this episode, as we now prepare to exit the world of Karl Pilkington and re-emerge blinking into the light of the normal world.

Welcome back to yourself, your own attitudes and your own personality again.

I urge you to (just wanted to use that phrase) check the page for this episode on my website where you will find a downloadable full transcript, the audio file for download in mp3 format, a text video version of this episode where you can read the entire thing as you listen and it’s all presented in a rather majestic looking font before your very eyes and of course there’s the comment section where you can share your thoughts not to mention the episode archive with all the previous episodes plus lots of bonus extra stuff. 

Teacherluke.co.uk

LEP Premium 
LEP App
LEP Merch

Have a good one and I will speak to you again soon, bye!