Reading an article by Gavin Lamb (PhD) about the conclusions of academic studies into language learning, and adding my own reflections and comments. What does research tell us about the best way to learn a language? What are the most important things to consider? What are the best methods? The article boils it all down to three main points.
Steve Kaufmann is a very prolific language learner. He has learned at least 20 languages to varying degrees during his life. Some of them he learned during his career as an international diplomat and businessman, and others he has learned during his (semi) retirement. In this interview Steve talks about his language learning experiences, methods and motivations. We talk about various metaphors and similes for language learning including ocean voyages 🚢, cows 🐮, skiing ⛷ and cutting grass🏡, and I ask Steve about cross-cultural experiences he has had during his career. There is a video version but only the audio version contains my intro and ending rambles about getting my hair cut and how you need to remember that you’re a baby cow-shark on skis 🐄🦈🎿😅.
Thanks again to Steve for the interview! Check out his website here https://www.thelinguist.com/
As a language learner, never forget that you are a baby cow-shark on skis!! 🐮🦈⛷
Fred Eyangoh returns to the podcast to bring some entertaining and useful word puzzles, quizzes and insights into English etymology & history.
Audio Version (Including 30min+ extra vocabulary summary and intro)
Video Version (just the conversation with Fred)
Intro Transcript & Vocabulary Notes
Hello dear listeners,
Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you are doing well. Here are just a few words before we get stuck into this episode properly.
I am currently sitting here in my pod room. I got back from my holiday last week. Here we are. Back to normal life, whatever that means these days.
It was a very nice holiday, thanks for asking. I might do a post-holiday ramble episode and talk about it a little bit – although actually there isn’t that much to tell. Just standard holiday things – sunshine, a bit of time at the beach, a bit of swimming pool, a bit of cycling, eating seafood, plenty of relaxing, reading, playing with my daughter, spending time with the family – no big adventures really, no encounters with bears or volcano climbing this time.
Anyway I might do the traditional post-holiday ramble over the next week or so, we will see.
The thing is, I actually have a bit of a backlog of episodes to publish. I recorded 3 things during the holiday. So I just want to crack on get them published really, so I might forgo the post-holiday ramble this time. We will see. In any case, freshly recorded episodes are coming, including premium content where we get into the language side of things.
It’s nice to be back in podcastland, if a little strange. You know when you’ve been away on holiday, there’s a slightly odd feeling of melancholy when you return. That September feeling. That’s how it is for me – a kind of end-of-the-holidays, Sunday evening, going back to school sort of slightly sad feeling that I always used to get as a child and I still get these days as an adult. Maybe it’s a northern hemisphere thing, at this time of year.
As September arrives there’s that little hint in the air that autumn is here and winter is just around the corner. The kids all go back to school and we start thinking about work and studies again, and the things we’re trying to achieve, maybe learning English in your case, and after all, that is why we are here.
That’s why I am here right now, talking to you on this podcast – to help you improve your English and to enjoy the whole process, which is so important. Learning English can be enjoyable and should be enjoyable because it’s probably more effective if it is enjoyable. So there. I invite you to enjoy listening to my podcast and to let the magic happen.
Now, I need to introduce this episode and I am going to do my best to keep this little introduction as brief as possible. You’ll see that the episode is long. There’s plenty of good stuff here, from beginning to end. I hope you listen to the whole thing, in several stages if you prefer.
All I want to say is that this episode is packed with English language learning potential.
There is a veritable Smörgåsbord of vocabulary here for you to notice and pick up, a few more differences between American and British English and also some general inspiration for your learning of English.
The overall message being – there are many ways to get new vocabulary into your life, but the main thing is that you need to maintain a certain level of curiosity, an open minded willingness to challenge yourself a bit, a certain readiness to be entertained while you listen and study and a focused yet relaxed approach to the acquisition of English through all manner of different avenues.
My guest, Fred, technically doesn’t have English as a first language but he has a really broad range of English vocabulary in his head. He likes to do word games and he reads a lot, and checks new words in various online dictionaries, and explores those words and phrases until they become memorable for him, and he notices them again and again, and he tests himself with word games, and learns new things from the questions he can’t answer, and has fun doing it all. I think it’s a really good attitude. Let’s explore that and do some word games.
This conversation is actually a continuation of the theme of a couple of episodes I did with Fred last year in which we looked at the New York Times Spelling Bee, and also some word quizzes on the Collins Dictionary website (episodes 720 and 721).
This time Fred came back on the podcast to talk about crossword puzzles in which you have to use clues to find missing words in a grid. Sometimes the clues are quite cryptic and contain clever little riddles which you have to work out. Fred presents a few of these crossword puzzles to me during the episode and I invite you to listen carefully to the clues and try to guess the words with me. There are about 25 different questions overall, but plenty of other words and phrases which come up along the way.
We also talk about the history of English and the etymology of English words which have their origins in other languages and which reveal things about England’s ancient history and colonial past.
So there’s lots of word quizzes and vocab games, and then at the end a bit about etymology, English history and colonialism.
If you find it hard to keep track of all the vocab during this chat, then don’t worry because I’ll give a quick summary of it all at the end of the episode, and I mean quick. Just to consolidate some of the things you heard I will list the vocabulary at the end. It won’t be the full LEP Premium treatment. It’ll just be a quick a reminder, to recap.
Check the episode page on my website for all the vocabulary notes. There’s a video version too which you might want to check out on YouTube, but it doesn’t contain this lovely introduction or the incredibly useful and generous vocab re-cap which I will do at the end of this wonderful audio version.
Now, without any further ado, let’s chat to Fred again, and here we go…
So there you are that was Fred Eyangoh, being very useful there and sharing lots of fun vocab quiz questions and also insights about how crossword puzzles work and also words which have their roots in other languages.
I’ll invite Fred back onto this podcast to play “Plant, dish or animal”, which sounds like a fun game.
My prediction for the episode length
I said 1h36min
For the video version I was very close. It’s 1h34min22sec.
This audio version though is clearly much longer.
Mini Crossword Clues and Answers
- Helpful reference for tourists – MAP
- Dressy short sleeved shirt – POLO (Dressy means smart)
- They have meters and motors – TAXIS (A meter is what counts the distance and price of the taxi journey)
- D on a gearshift – DRIVE (In US English a “gearshift” is thing you use to change gears in a car – either an automatic or manual car, in UK English it’s more likely to be called a gear stick)
- Fighting spirit – MOXIE (Moxie means “courage” or “nerve”, “guts” in US and Canadian slang)
- Look _____ out there – LOOK ALIVE OUT THERE! (This is something that people shout at baseball players to encourage them. People also say “Attaboy” – “At her boy!”)
- Football scores, for short – TDS (this is an abbreviation for “touchdowns”, which is of course American English because touchdowns are part of what we call American Football or Gridiron Football, but in the USA they just call it football, and they’re wrong of course, it’s not football it’s hand egg – just joking, they can call it football if they want, because, they have guns)
- ____-ball – SKEE (Skee ball is a game that you might find in amusement arcades in the USA. To me it’s the kind of word that you hear sometimes in American movies or TV shows)
Fred’s Crossword Quiz Questions for Luke
- Campaigned for office – RAN (to run for president, for example)
- Urban air pollution – SMOG (A portmanteau word between smoke and fog)
- Rowing tool – OAR (also “to stick your oar in” – meaning to get involved in a situation which you shouldn’t be involved in. E.g. when two people are arguing and you interrupt and give your opinion too, but it just makes the argument worse, “Sticking your oar in doesn’t help! Just mind your own business)
- Kisses and caresses in British lingo – SNOGS
- It may pop before a toast – CORK
- Doe’s mate (the mate of a doe) – STAG
Other related words:
buck (also a male deer) to buck (when a horse kicks its legs to get someone off its back)
to buck the trend (to do something different than the trend – e.g. to focus on long form audio content, rather than short form video content)
a fawn (a young deer – pronounced /fɔ:n/ by me and /fɑ:n/ by Fred with his American accent.
- Angers – IRES (to ire someone means to make someone angry or frustrated, but I never use this word. Still it’s useful to know it and it’s the kind of thing that might come up in a book or something – also useful for crosswords and scrabble)
- Fuss, kerfuffle, trouble, tizzy, hubbub, brouhaha, ballyhoo – ADO
- Blocked, as a river – DAMMED (We also have “Damned” as a kind of swear word, which for me sounds the same as dammed)
- “Hold your horses” – WAIT
- Shush – ZIP IT!
- Current events? – TIDES (current has several meanings – a current in the water, an electrical current, and also the adjective current which means at the moment *not actual* as in some languages. Also there’s the homophone word currant which is a small dried grape, like a raisin)
- Drop a line? – FISH (“drop me a line” means “call me on the phone” but you also drop a line when you go fishing)
- Mini freezer – BRAKE (the brake is what stops a car, and a Mini is a kind of car. To freeze means to stop, so a mini freezer is a brake)
- Good or bad vacuum review – SUCKS (this vacuum sucks! Good, that’s what it’s supposed to do!)
- Locale for drawers in the study – ART SCHOOL (tricky – but it’s where you find artists involved in studying)
Draw a picture with a pencil
A drawer where you keep your knives and forks
He speaks with a southern drawl
That’s all folks!
Leave your comments in the comment section.
Leave a positive review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen.
Sign up to LEP Premium for all those bonus episodes where I focus on teaching you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, and the storytime series.
All the very best to you and your English.
Have a lovely morning, afternoon, evening or night and I will speak to you again soon.
Learn English with 22 funny jokes with explanations of vocabulary, homophones, double meanings and pronunciation.
Did you get all the jokes? Which one was your favourite? Leave your comment below.
Talking to my dad about the situation in Ukraine on 28 February 2022.
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.
Talking to my dad about the current Brexit situation, including what could actually happen in the UK if we leave the EU with no deal. Expect language relating to politics, economics and the big issues of the day. Intro and outtro transcripts available.
Hi everyone, how are you doing? Here is a new episode of the Rick Thompson Report. Long-term listeners will be familiar with this type of episode. This is where I talk to my dad about the news, which is almost always about Brexit. We’ve been doing these ever since the referendum happened, tracking the UK government as they attempt to extract the country from the EU. We’ve heard all about the leave campaign and their claims, the impossible job of negotiating a deal with an entity that you’re also leaving – like marrying someone that you’re also divorcing.
The last time I did a RTR was in December last year and we talked about the state of the UK’s negotiation with the EU, with the shaky leader Theresa May attempting to put together a new deal which could somehow keep things as good as possible while also letting us leave. Both my dad and I are quite perplexed by the desperate need to leave the EU, when it looks like just cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Sometimes I hear from people, or read things on social media that suggest that the UK as a whole wants to leave the EU. I might read comments about how Britain wants to leave, or Britain doesn’t want to be in the EU, and I feel a bit annoyed because there are plenty of British people who think Brexit is a bad idea. I’m one and so is my dad, we make no bones about that, but this isn’t for some ideological reason, or because we’ve picked sides. It’s because it doesn’t really make practical sense to close access to our biggest marketplace and a zone which also includes all sorts of environmental, scientific and security communities that we will also be leaving. Also the real prospect of leaving the EU with no deal could be catastrophic in many ways, and even the UK government is issuing advice about stockpiling food and other measures in the event of a no deal Brexit. The deadline is approaching fast and the UK still hasn’t found an agreement with the EU. What will happen next March when we leave officially? How will this affect life in the UK? Listen on to find out.
I do invive your comments of course, so if you feel like you have something to say, leave your comment in the comment section. I’m very curious to know what the rest of the world is thinking.
But now, without any further ado, let’s talk to my dad about the latest Brexit news.
So there you have it. There are my dad’s thoughts on Brexit. I certainly hope you have enjoyed this episode of the Rick Thompson Report, keeping you up to date on Britain’s tricky situation.
As I said earlier, please do leave your thoughts in the comment section. I’m curious to know what the rest of the world is thinking. I wonder how Brexit is reported and generally considered in your country? Is the leading narrative that Brexit is a good or bad thing, and why do you think that is? Do you think Brexit would help or harm your country in some way?
Thanks as ever for listening, leaving comments and generally being great audience members.
Have a great day, morning, afternoon, evening or night and I’ll speak to you again soon.
Talking to my ex-colleague Raphael Miller about his new summer school for teenagers as well as many other topics, including British social and communication culture, growing up in Liverpool, studying at Oxford University, the famous Star Wars actor Raphael knows and remembering some of the old-fashioned ways we used to describe computers and the internet. Transcripts and links below. 👨🎓🌞🇬🇧
Your English Summer – Links
In this episode you can listen to a conversation I had with my friend Raphael Miller. Raph and I used to work together as teachers at the London School of English, along with Andy Johnson, Ben Butler and Carrick Cameron – all of whom have featured in episodes of this podcast.
Since those days, Raph has done lots of work at summer schools in the UK and has recently set up his own summer school project called Your English Summer. This is a school for teenagers from around the world who want to come to the UK to develop their English skills while having a really cool experience living away from home for a couple of weeks.
I thought I would ask Raph about his project, about the benefits of sending your teenagers to the UK for a summer school English experience and also about Raph’s own experiences of learning languages as a teenager and into adulthood.
I hadn’t spoken to Raph for a while – not since the last time he was on this podcast perhaps, and so it was really fun to catch up with him, find out about his project and also just ramble on about all kinds of other things, like his experiences at Oxford University, his childhood in Liverpool and a famous actor that he knows from university, who has had a big role in a Star Wars film. To find out all about that, just keep listening.
This might be a difficult conversation for you to follow, depending on your level. Reasons why it might be hard are:
- The conversation was done over Skype, so the sound quality isn’t 100% perfect – but it’s good to get used to listening in less-than-perfect conditions, like when you have to do tele-conferences in English at work.
- Raph has a slight Liverpool accent (but actually I think this isn’t really an issue because it’s really not that strong)
- It’s all done at natural speed and there are quite a lot of idioms, jokey bits, specific phrases and fluent speech that might be hard to understand.
But the point here is that this is an authentic chat which ultimately is good practice for you.
If you are a parent of teenage kids and you’re thinking about sending them to a summer school in the UK to learn English, you should check out Raphael’s school, which is called Your English Summer – more details at yourEnglishsummer.co.uk
Now, let’s get stuck into the conversation.
Just before I hit the record button, Raph and I had been struggling to get connected on Skype. It wasn’t working properly on his computer, but to solve the problem he just turned it off and turned it back on again, which fixed it, of course – because that’s usually how you fix technical problems. What do you do when something doesn’t work? How do you fix it? Well, have you tried turning it on and turning it off again? There are other generic solutions to typical technical problems of course… can you think of any?
After that we talk a little bit about a recent episode of LEP that Raphael had been listening to – a recent one with Amber & Sarah called “Becoming Maman”… and the conversation just keeps on flowing from there, taking in some details about the social rules related to talking to new parents about their children (in fact, like me, Raph is also a new father – his son is just 6 months old now) British social etiquette in general, how we both know each other and how we first met, and then onto the details Raphael’s project, learning English at summer schools in the UK, Liverpool, Oxford University and various other things…
So, now that you’re ready, let’s dive into this chat with Raphael Miller … and here we go.
Raph also appears in…
Liverpool Accent Episodes
Your English Summer – Links
That was a rambling chat with Raphael Miller.
Don’t forget to visit www.yourenglishsummer.co.uk
…for more details about his summer school in Liverpool. Could be a great thing for your teenage kids to do – or if you know any other parents who are looking for a small, friendly and genuinely fun English summer school experience – tell them about Your English Summer.
A note about LEP Premium
I’ve been mentioning this for a couple of weeks now. I expect it to arrive in May. Things slowed down a bit this week because I got really ill with a very nasty throat infection – tonsillitis to be exact. Tonsils are glands at the back of the throat. Mine got infected and all swollen, which was intensely painful for about 5 days. My whole head felt like it was going to explode, I felt like someone was stabbing me in the head and neck with needles, while also periodically stepping on my legs and back in a pair of Dr Marten’s boots. Swallowing was like torture. Not nice at all. It was a lot like when I was sick in Japan. Thankfully this time it was just the tonsilitis and not something more serious. Anyway, the French healthcare system and my wife, looked after me and I’m feeling a lot better. Also, for a week to 10 days this month we’re going to the UK on holiday, which means taking some more time out from podcasting duties. There should be another episode coming out while I’m away but the launch of LEP Premium is unlikely to happen until May. I’m also still working with Libsyn to actually do things like make additions to the app and some other things before LEPP can happen.
Anyway, it should come along in May and when it does you should find that one of the first Premium episodes is a language review of this episode, also there are some language features from the episode about pets I wanted to look at, so that’ll probably come up too.
Remember that one of the aims of LEP Premium is to make sure you really learn the English you’ve heard on the podcast – not just hear it but really learn it properly – the English you might not have even noticed but with which you need a guiding hand – in this case my guiding hand, with all those years of teaching experience, podcast experience – so I can help you with your English and have some fun while doing it.
So, a language review for this episode with LEP Premium coming up.
Remember too that LEP Premium will work like this:
- You’ll create a profile with Libsyn, my host
- You pay a small amount per month (e.g. the price of a coffee for me) to access the Premium content
- You can get the content in the LEP app or via a webpage – same account login.
- It’s a chance for you to get content that focuses specifically on language teaching, while also making a contribution to LEP.
- You’ll get those LEP Premium episodes, and also new Phrasal Verb episodes + more bonus stuff just for premium subscribers. You’ll be my VIP club and I’ll be happy to reward you with exclusive content.
Coming soon in LEPland.
Right, time to go now – have a great day, night, morning, afternoon, evening, milkshake smoothie or tropical fruit juice or whatever you’re having. Cheers!
Usually when I talk to my brother on the podcast we talk about fairly obscure topics, like cult films, musical subcultures or skateboarding, but this time we chose a universal topic; pets. Listen to this conversation to hear James and me remembering the pets we had as children and discussing some issues related to keeping animals as pets.
It’s national pet month in the UK from 1 April – 7 May so here is an episode all about living with animals, domesticated creatures, our furry companions, our four-legged friends – pets in their various shapes and sizes.
National Pet Month is actually a registered charity in the UK and its aims are to promote responsible pet ownership, and to make people aware of the mutual benefits of living with pets. You can find out more by going to https://www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk/
Just like everywhere else in the world, British people love pets – the most common ones being dogs, cats and fish.
Since it is national pet month I thought I would talk about pets with James, my pet chimp, I mean, brother.
We both had pets growing up together as children, so we thought we’d take a little trip down memory lane in this episode and remember some of those cute little animals that we loved so much when we were young.
Yes – pets! It’s a simple topic. It’s a universal topic – I think pets are popular the world over. And it’s a fun topic which we can use as a way of presenting you with some authentic listening practice in English.
When you think about it humans have a pretty diverse relationship with animals. Sometimes we farm them and breed them for various purposes, sometimes we ride around on them (for transport or sport), sometimes we eat them (quite often, for lunch maybe), sometimes they eat us (less often, admittedly) sometimes we just like to watch them eating each other (in BBC nature documentaries for example) and sometimes we like to offer them a friendly invitation into our home so they can live with us, like little hairy members of the family almost, just because we love them, we find them cute and they help to lower our blood pressure. Apparently they are good for us, they can keep us healthy. They’re like little furry doctors with no qualifications except a degree in being warm and cuddly.
That is something people say – having a pet can help you live longer. But surely it depends what kind of pet. If you have a silverback gorilla or a saltwater crocodile as a pet you’re probably not going to live to a very old age. In fact, you’d be lucky to survive beyond a couple of minutes with a crocodile in the house. “Oh that’s a lovely 23 foot long crocodile you’ve got. Oh how original. They’re basically dinosaurs aren’t they? Oh what’s his name – Bitey? Bitey the crocodile. There there Bitey, hello little bitey – CHOMP. Oh he’s bitten my arm off, how adorable… CHOMP CHOMP oh and now he’s grabbed me by the leg and is pulling me underwater where he’ll drown me and then eat me in one go. How lovely.”
It does depend on the pet you choose of course. Crocodiles don’t usually make great pets I expect. But I don’t know maybe they’re very loving and gentle. Let me know if you have a croc as a pet.
Anyway, the most common pets in the world are generally lovely and fluffy and not usually our natural predators of course. Here’s some data.
Pet data https://stevedalepetworld.com/world-pet-population-data-mixed-bag/ https://www.petfoodindustry.com/articles/5845-infographic-most-of-world-owns-pets-dogs-are-tops?utm_source=KnowledgeMarketing&utm_medium=Watt%20Products&utm_campaign=Pet%20Weekly%20Roundup%20All%20Others%20List&eid=237316200&bid=1430132
Around the world there may be different cultures of pet keeping, for example whether it is normal to neuter or spay your pets (that means giving them an operation on their reproductive systems so as to make them infertile – unable to breed – in some places that’s normal, in other places you might consider that to be a horrible thing to do!) or whether it is normal to keep your pets mostly indoors or outdoors. In some countries you wouldn’t dream of letting your dog or cat stay outside all night, whereas in other places it’s the other way around.
The cultures may be different, but one thing’s for sure – humans seem to have the desire to live with animals as companions and over time we have developed a symbiotic relationship with certain animals – notably dogs, who seem to express a sense of duty towards their owners and perform various functions for humans.
There are ethical issues relating to keeping pets too of course – it’s always hard to escape issues of morality and ethics even in a seemingly innocent topic like this. For example, is it somehow cruel to keep animals as pets and how do pets affect the natural world around them?
My conversation with James touches on some of these things, but the main reason we chose to talk about this topic was to let you hear a conversation in English about a subject that I’m sure you can all relate to and the main focus of our conversation is to remember the various pets we had when we were growing up as children.
So listen out for some little stories and memories and also descriptions of typical behaviour in the past. See if you can notice certain features of grammar and vocabulary in the way we express these ideas.
The specific vocabulary and grammar relating to that are things I can deal with specifically in another language-focused episode.
But this one is all about listening to some real British English conversation and so, without any further ado – let’s talk to James about pets.
So there you go, that was my chat with James about pets.
In the comment section please write about pets that you have or that you have had in your lives. Tell us about cute or funny things your pets do. Do you have an unusual pet? Have you got any good little pet stories? Put your thoughts into words and add them in the comment section.
Now, in terms of language – this conversation obviously contained some vocabulary that would be worth reviewing and clarifying.
Also, there was some grammar there. We were talking a lot about the past, so there were the usual past tenses, but also some very specific aspects of grammar that you might not have noticed and I’m talking about the ways in which we don’t just tell stories in the past but the way we describe habits in the past. There are certain grammatical forms that we use for that, and it might not be immediately obvious to you how it is done.
I can help you learn these things – learn how to notice them, learn how to understand them and learn how to use them to listen and speak like native English speakers.
It would be useful if I published a follow-up episode to this in which I go through all that language. THat’s the sort of thing you can expect from LEP Premium when it arrives.
You’ve heard me talk about LEP Premium in recent episodes. I’m setting it up at the moment. If all goes according to plan then at some point soon I’ll make that service available to you and you’ll be able to sign up, support my work and gain access to some extra episodes in which I focus more carefully and specifically on the aspects of language that you need. Analysing and explaining the grammar and vocabulary in my conversation with James is an example of what you could expect from LEP Premium Episodes.
Also, not just language that’s come up in conversations and monologues, but also it could be a way for me to focus on other aspects of language that I think you need to know.
As I said, I’m still in the process of setting this up at the moment. I’ll be setting it up with my host Libsyn, so that I can publish the premium content into the App (you’ll be able to sign in to get premium content there) and also online from a computer, so expect more information soon.
Thank you again for listening. Visit the website to see my transcriptions for the intro and outtro to this episode. Join the mailing list. Download the app to get all the bonus content there and to be ready to get LEP premium episodes. Send me a donation through the website if you want to support the show.
Have a great day and if you have a pet, give them a little treat like a snack, a stroke, a scratch or a nice walk in the park.
Speak to you again soon, but for now…
Bye bye bye.
Phrases and vocab from episode 521. (contributed by Jack)
I don’t know if you can tell but my voice sounds a bit funny
And since it’s a national pet month I thought I’d talk about pets with my pet chimp James.
We thought we’d take a trip down memory lane…..
Pets are popular the world over
Humans have a pretty diverse relationships with animals. Sometimes we farm them and breed them for various purposes. Sometimes we ride around them for transport or for sport.
Sometimes they eat us – less often admittedly.
Warm and cuddly
Salt water crocodile
Silver back gorilla
He’s bitten my arm off
You’ve got to throw in some data
Neuter or spay your pets
You wouldn’t dream of…..
We have developed a symbiotic relationship with animals.
My conversation with James touches on these things.
About a subject that I’m sure you can all relate to
So listen out for some…..
Do you think the audience are expecting this to be riveting and hilarious
I wouldn’t want to build it up too much
Are you a pet person?
A pair of gerbils
They come from the Gulf
They tend to gnaw on things
I suspect dad probably named them
The idea of keeping them in a little cage is a bit messed up
Deep ethical implications
They’re not immortal
Luke: One of them had escaped
James: I didn’t remember that, no
Run out of food
Bullied by mice and cats
They thought we’d be traumatised
It was rigid, stiff as a board and it was half way through a loo roll tube.
…..at that moment something clicked.
They’d make bedding out of them
The cats were obsessed with catching the gerbils
I don’t remember there were any gerbil cat crossover
Luke : Just so I can…..
James : fill me in on bits of my life
….and she would curl up in the casserole dish.
You try and stroke her, tickle her or something and invariably she would strike out or hiss…..
They had a litter of cats
Posy (bunch of flowers)
We took it to the doctors to get it checked out.
She never quite got over that really. He was always screwed up about that.
James : He was mental. Really manic looking face, wild looking eyes. White flash very fluffy. White flash running down its front. And just Bizarre weird animal
Luke : Bonkers
Running up your trouser leg
Always go for the liveliest one when choosing a cat.
Went to the doctor not to just have it checked out but have it spayed.
They spray pheromones and stuff
Climbing underneath the underside of the sofa.
Introduce a pet into a wild ecosystem where he’ll just ravage all the wild life.
….and somehow he dragged this rabbit through the cat flap as well.
Luke :Several times I would come back, we had a little room between the kitchen and the back garden which is where we’d put the cat’s food down and there was a cat flap….to let the cat into that little space. We wouldn’t let the cat into the house at night. He (posy) would have that utility room area and outside and he would bring in the animals into the utility room onto the door mat and then eat them there. Couple of times I went into the utility room and saw posy in a moment of wildness.
Lions taking down a wilder beast.
Bitting the rabbit’s head off
They’ll stick around and pretend to be cute for food.
Cat isn’t really self aware
…..but yet it is petted, softened and domesticated. They are kind of bipolar.
Run over a dog
They’re pretty nasty psychopaths
Crossbreed to make them smaller, cuter and more manageable
A waste of space
Luke :They have those creased up faces. And they have those broad front legs, stocky little back legs. And they have the lower jaw sort of…..
James : protruding
Luke : prominent lower jaw…..
Lower centre of gravity
It’s harder for other dogs to flip them over.
Wrinkles and creases in their face are so that the blood can drain off.
That sounds a bit far fetched
Luke : like if people in the city were rioting.
James: bring out some bad tempered cats on leads and sort out the protestors.
I think they’d be too skittish to be of any good.
Do you think you could disperse a riot by introducing a bunch of big cats into the streets?
All the big cats that are just loose in London.
Drug sniffing cats
Cat nip – It makes them all high
I think we are going on a bit of a tangent here.
We may need to fact check that one
Sleeping on a window sill
We used to put out the cat at night.
Posy was getting up to things at night outside.
Howling and screeching sounds going on in the garden.
James : It’s like having a Mexican stand off. Staring at each other, wailing.
Luke : staring wailing and just arching their backs.
…….have a big stand off around a flowerbed; the patio in our garden.
Posy was just lounging like some sort of mafia boss
So he was either the alpha male or the most beta-ish male.
………Lowest rung of the cats.
Debating the best way to overthrow the humans.
a stick insect
Intact you might as well just get a stick
Brown twiggy thing – Stick
James : Now he’s picked the most obscure, not obscure the sort of random words to explain…. They can understand all this but the one word they get hung up on is stick
Luke : I might have been teaching English for 15, 16 years!
James: Stick is something you throw to a dog if it’s fallen off a tree.
They’d be gnawing a piece of wood which would be like rattle and tap against the glass.
Posy would sort of trot through the kitchen and would be on the floor by the door just casually and he’d spot one of the gerbils out of the corner of his eye and just go bonkers and just launch himself at the gerbilarium and scrabble in the corner.
Metal edged aquarium
Their fins start drooping and you start fretting – May be I haven’t fed them enough
Morsels of food.
It was really very lively.
I don’t know the workings of a gold fish.
We had a tiny little pond; basically an overflow from the gutters. Fairly clean water. It was rain water.
Luke :They’re probably happier there then in a bowl or in a box
James : oh yeah I would have thought so!
They are like a mink.
They are pretty versatile, pretty tough little creatures.
They are lively……
They are very good at crawling through tunnels in the ground.
And also up north they have a sport of putting ferrets down your trousers.
Blokes tie strings down the bottom of their trousers and shovel load of ferrets down their trousers and they wriggle around.
Chuck em down their trousers
A dog can around a whole load of sheep and get it through a fend a gate.
Some of the dogs are very yappy
Ring the creature in half (break the neck)
They can be mean.
It would come tearing towards you.
It’s a reflection on the owners of how the dog behaves.
Tug of war
It would come bounding up to you.
Bit far fetched
We’d have to walk past the house to get to the station.
I always thought it would leap over the fence.
They are cold blooded animals and they need to be kept warm and I can’t be bothered with that.
Wardrobe full of snakes. She bought a wardrobe and adapted it. Put a glass front on it; I think it might be on the side of it. And there’s two compartments.
Quite affectionate, they purr.
Scratch his face
But you can tell he’s panicking and scared
Where they decided to bring up a monkey or a chimp.
Bunch of hippies decided to rear it.
And it’s miming back
And as it gets bigger it gets more and more unruly.
They start giving it booze and they start giving it weed. And this f***** chimp is smoking spliffs around a table with them.
It’s a bit of a symbiotic relationship.
The ethics of having a pet.
All that is contributing to deforestation
And those cows fart all the time apparently.
And they cut down rain forests to put down cattle farms and stuff
If you’re vegan and you have a pet – You’re a f***** hypocrite.
James : let us know if you’re a vegan dog owner. Actually don’t bother.
How do you justify that?
Cultish following for these dogs.
If they are well looked after they can be very cool.
Dog straining on the lead.
I think that’s a suitable note to end this chat.
He’s gone into the cheesy radio host voice now in case you are wondering.
In the comments section please write about the pets that you’ve or that you’ve had in your life.
Now, you might have heard me talk about LEP Premium in recent episodes. I’m setting it up at the moment.
And if you’ve a pet give them a little treat like a snack or a stroke or a scratch or just a nice walk in the park.
Sharing my experiences of learning French (or not learning it). My French and Me – How I learned some French as a child and how I’m failing to learn it properly as an adult. Includes conclusions about language learning, immersion and the importance of motivation, habit and simply applying yourself. Notes & transcriptions available. *Includes some swearing and general frustration!
Some rambling about attempting to record while holding the baby, and new content in the LEP app…
In this episode I’m going to talk about my experiences of learning French (or not learning it as the case may be), I’m going to read from an old diary I kept for a while when I was taking some French lessons a few years ago and I’m going to reflect on the things I have done, or more specifically have not done and how these things have affected my progress, or lack of progress, in French.
I hope that you find this interesting and applicable to your experiences of learning English. Perhaps we can use my experiences to consider various things about how we learn languages as adults in classroom environments, using self-guided learning and by being immersed in the culture and language of another country.
I’d like to start the episode by speaking some French. I know you will now be judging me, even if you can’t understand me, but what the hell, here goes – and I’m doing this just as a sort of act of solidarity with those of you who have struggled to express yourself in English. Perhaps you’ll get some comfort in hearing me struggling in another language…
And by the way, if you don’t speak French – keep listening because I will switch back to English in a moment I promise. Perhaps you can just try to work out what I’m saying? Here we go…
*Luke speaks French quite badly*
So that was some of my French. There you go, if you find it tricky sometimes speaking English – I know how you feel, I really do.
Aims for the episode (some are dealt with in part 2)
In this episode I just want to talk about my experiences of learning French, tell you a few stories and use them as a way to consider things like:
- What it’s like to learn a language in a classroom environment vs learning on your own
- How to learn a language in a classroom and indeed whether you should study in a group class at all
- What it’s like to teach language in a classroom environment
- Just other little things that occurred to me about learning languages during my experiences with French
Backstory: My French and Me – How I learned some French as a child and how I’m failing to learn it properly as an adult
My first words in French on holiday.
I was sent on a mission to the boulangerie to get the bread and stuff for breakfast.
My parents taught me the phrase: “Bonjour, quatre croissants et deux baguettes s’il vous plait!”
The interaction went something like this:
“Bonjour! blah blah blah blah blah?”
“Quatre croissants et deux baguettes s’il vous plait!”
blah blah blah blah blah! Blah blah blah blah blah! *shouting to someone in the back of the boulangerie* BLAH BLAH BLAH BLAAAH BLAAAH!
Blah blah blah blah!!
“Merci!” *leaves quickly with delicious bread and croissants*
Anything outside this interaction was impossible. E.g. if someone asked a question or did anything else, I’d just look sweetly at the person and perhaps repeat the line.
In a way, not much has changed – I’m still doing it today!
French lessons at school – not really learning anything, feeling awkward, the other kids were hopeless and so was I. I wasn’t in a great class. They streamed you. I should have tried harder because then I would have been in a better class and then I would have learned even more – I’d have been with better kids. All I remember of my French classes at school was mucking about in the language lab recording rude messages over the top of the French tapes, our teacher bringing in a dusty old tape player and listening to dialogues in the street. “Tricolore”
One day the teacher rolled in an old TV and video, and played us a video of young people (13 or 14 years old) of our age socialising. I was horrified. They all dressed like adults and acted like adults. They all kissed each other and brought each other gifts. I feel like they drank wine with lunch but this is just my imagination. It seemed like they were just socialising like a bunch of adults, and it all happened on a Wednesday. It seemed so far from my life where I was incapable of communicating with other kids of my age unless it was via a game of football, piss taking or very awkward giggling and embarrassment, especially if there were girls around. The French kids in this video all seemed so confident, sophisticated and grown up and they felt a billion miles away from us.
It didn’t help also that the sex education videos we watched were French I think (translated into English) again I might have misremembered this I’m not sure, and they showed a French family naked on the beach and that was tremendously awkward. I imagined these French kids just hanging around naked with their family and friends and being so confident and the whole time speaking in this French that made them sound so grown up and scary.
One of the other things I remember from French class was the fact that the other kids misbehaved so much. First of all it was almost impossible for the teacher to get them to actually speak French and I witnessed a number of awkward meltdowns by teachers who just couldn’t hack it. Once, one of the girls at the back of the class (seemed like a trouble maker type girl, and it felt like she was a good 2 years older than me and she probably was in terms of her hormone levels). She pretended to faint in class and there was a big drama with lots of the other girls making a big fuss and the whole class stopped for ages while the teacher attempted to deal with it and obviously didn’t really know what to do and I’m certain the whole thing was fake just so this girl could get out of class, and I even felt that the teacher was playing for time as well because she couldn’t wait for the lesson to end, and the whole time I just sat there and probably talked about Super Mario Brothers with the kid next to me or something, in English.
So, I don’t remember learning much more than “Je m’appelle Luke. J’habite a Solihull. J’ai treize ans. Je joue le football and le babyfoot” etc. Hilarious moments in class were when certain words sounded like something rude in English, notably the words “banque” (sounds like “bonk”) and “piscine” (sounds like “pissing”).
But I came out with a B at GCSE level so I must have been ok. I remember in my spoken interview I felt that I did pretty well. I seem to remember holding down a conversation that wasn’t too bad. I actually feel quite proud of myself.
Then I grew up and decades passed before I had to speak it again.
Now I actually live in France and I feel that I carry so much baggage that holds me back, or maybe that’s just another excuse.
Got together with a French girl. Our relationship is in English.
Moved to France.
Just before I moved, I took conversation classes with colleagues in London.
That helped quite a lot.
What were those classes like?
Who were you with?
What did we do?
Then moved to France
I expected to be able to speak French as a result of just living here. I thought – it’ll happen as a consequence because I will simply have to learn, or being here will mean I’ll just pick it up like magic.
The thing is, I think my life is fixed in a certain way and it doesn’t involve much need for speaking French. As well as that, hand-on-heart – I think my heart isn’t in it. Frankly, I didn’t move here to learn French, I moved here for love – which is probably the most French thing about my life!
But really, I don’t need that much French, or I can get by without it.
There are moments when it would definitely help, and moments when my lack of French reflects really badly on me. But basically I can get by without it and the vast majority of how I live my life is in English.
However – you should know that I am very ashamed of this for lots of reasons, but also because I feel like a hypocrite. I spend most of my time preaching about second language acquisition and I don’t do it myself. I don’t practise what I preach.
Some of you might be thinking “How is it possible that you haven’t learned the language?”
Well, I say “I haven’t learned the language”. I can speak a bit, but my level is nowhere near what it should or could be after 5 years here. I’m genuinely not proud of it and sometimes I feel genuinely bad about it, like when I’m with friends or family who have known me for years now and have seen no development really. I sit there at the dinner table with everyone speaking in French around me and it’s like I’m watching a tennis match, but after a while I have no idea where the ball is any more. I can follow the conversation for an hour maybe, but then my head starts spinning and I just can’t keep up or even stay conscious. It’s terribly exhausting, but nobody seems to really realise. Perhaps they think I’m being modest. Most French people will say “Oh my English is terrible” but then they’re just being modest or something and in fact their English is pretty good on balance. I say “My French is terrible” and they think I’m being modest too, like them, – they think they know what that means, but when I start attempting to say something, they realise and are shocked like “holy shit your French really is terrible!” and I feel like saying – “Yes, I told you!”
Also, Parisians can be very judgemental, I have to be honest. They’re extremely judgemental of each other’s English, and I’m certain they’re judgemental of my French. They can be just very direct and seem to spend a lot of time being brutally frank about things, including their assessments of other people. I just feel like rather a sad case in some people’s eyes. It’s rubbish, I have to tell you. I also believe that some people have no clue who I am. They think I’m this timid guy or something, with no personality – I’m certain. I’m sort of invisible or just one-dimensional. I’m sure of it. So much of who I am is connected to my understatement, sarcasm, irony, humour and general ironic detachment from everything – and all those things are communicated in my subtle use of language in English. In French I am just a completely one-dimensional person, and that one dimension is a kind of 14-year-old who hasn’t developed a personality yet. I’m basically my 14-year-old self, surrounded by all these very confident and well-dressed French kids in that video except that we’re all adults.
Imposter syndrome – yep. Then we speak English and it’s better, but I feel a bit bad about speaking English so I don’t really let go in that situation either.
I’m making it sound worse than it is – I have lots of French friends now that know me well and I am myself with them, but sometimes I get stuck at a party or at a dinner and it is exactly as I’ve described it.
I have lots of excuses.
Like I’ve said before “My French isn’t very good, but my excuses are improving all the time.” I’m fluent in excuses.
I don’t want to make excuses for what I consider to be a lack of French, but I can give reasons why my French hasn’t improved as much as I want.
I’m wary of doing this, because frankly I think it will make me look bad, especially considering how I often give advice on language learning. But perhaps there will be some of you out there who take some comfort in hearing me talk about my hangups, failures and general rubbishness in language learning. As a learner (or non-learner) of French, let me tell you – I’d love to hear other people’s stories of how they struggle. It would bring me a lot of comfort to know that there are other people out there like me who feel generally awful about their language learning. We so often hear from successful language learners, who deliver their advice like a sales pitch for how to learn a language and although I know there’s a lot of great advice in there, sometimes it feels a bit sickening to hear about other people’s great successes in language learning. I personally want to hear about people who are crap at learning languages, or at least crap at applying themselves. That would make me feel better.
So in that spirit let me talk about doing all the wrong things in learning French.
The first wrong thing is to make loads of excuses, which is what I’m going to do now.
By the way, there’s a difference between an excuse and a reason. A reason is why something happened or didn’t happen. An excuse is also a reason but it also is a way of passing the blame onto something else, or a way to avoid taking responsibility.
Here are my excuses, which ultimately are my ways of avoiding my personal responsibility for learning French, but perhaps they’re also legitimate reasons…
I think, ultimately, it comes down to motivation. Clearly I’m not that motivated to learn the language. Even though I live here, I have to go out of my way to learn the language, and the fact that I don’t makes me feel bad because I’m basically not adapting to my host culture properly.
But, I feel I should at least list some of the reasons why my French hasn’t improved as much as it should – just to get them out-of-the-way. But I realise they are all excuses.
As a teacher I feel added pressure to be an excellent language learner, and I hardly ever meet my own high standards. A lot of my friends who learned French didn’t have that expectation. They were just young and living in Paris and it happened as a consequence of their whole journey of discovery here.
I live in an English-speaking bubble – I work in English, I speak English at home, I listen to English podcasts (there are so many that I can’t give up), I watch YouTube in English, I do stand-up in English, I do LEP in English, in fact I find that I am often studying English when I prepare for lessons or do other language work in preparation for teaching or content creating
My world is predominantly in English but this doesn’t mean I have no interactions with French people. I regularly interact with local people but it often happens in English!
People’s level of English is often better than my French, so they automatically switch to English. This includes waiters, people in the street, and also people at parties etc.
Sometimes people speak good English to me, but they say their English is no good. A lot of French people are hung up about their English and are convinced they’re no good, but they’re capable of having a conversation quite confidently, but they talk about their lack of English and there’s a lot of competition here. People are very competitive about it but also quite modest, or perhaps self-critical. Then I say that my French is no good and I think they assume I mean the same thing – that it’s just not excellent. They assume that, but the fact is I really mean it! My French is no good! Then it’s embarrassing when they really hear it.
Once at a party a guy I was talking to said to me “You need to start speaking French, ok? So, don’t talk to me until you’ve learned French. He just walked away from me and left me standing on my own at this party. I felt terrible – both because of my shitty French, but also because the guy was a dick head.”
I really shouldn’t feel like this – but I often feel really ashamed and embarrassed about my level of French. This means I end up in a vicious cycle of having an embarrassing experience or a failure, and then feeling bad, and that affects my confidence, which leads to more failures – because you have to be confident to communicate well.
I actually think I’m quite a wordy person. I tend to ramble a bit and sometimes I don’t get straight to the point. In French I can’t do this, so I find it hard to really be myself. I still haven’t found myself in French yet. I feel like every time I open my mouth, I just make things more complicated and I bring more problems, because people misunderstand and misinterpret.
That’s just shyness and social awkwardness though, and I must not let that get the better of me.
People want to practise their English and they want to be nice, so we switch to English.
My wife often helps me when I need help. She’s nice like that, but it means that I don’t face the sort of ‘survival challenges’ that are necessary for developing in the second language.
I’m not making time for moments of French in my daily routine. I already feel like I have too many things to do and so I don’t fit French into my life. It’s the same with sport. I don’t do any because I think “when the hell am I going to do it?” God knows what will happen when my daughter arrives on the scene. In terms of language learning – people tell me I’ll learn because I’ll have to do more things in French for her. But also I just wonder if there’ll be any time for anything.
Note to self: Don’t be negative!!!
Paris is a very busy place and I feel people are impatient and even judgemental. This adds pressure to me. I feel like such a dumbass when I speak French and some people don’t always react in the way I need them to – there’s not that much sympathy and I feel they’re just thinking – oh god you’re mangling my language, let’s just speak English. Again: These are 100% excuses and I know it.
I am very good at speaking English to non-natives and they usually understand me really well, and so it’s just much easier to talk in English! Their English has to be pretty bad for French to be the choice of language!
I am a lazy student. I don’t really do any studying – I have done some but I found it to be impenetrable and frustrating. I used to do conjugation exercises in a big book but I found it hideously dull and boring. For example, I found the example sentences and gap fills frustrating because the sentences were so stupid and idiotic. I feel like a terrible person right now.
Sometimes the fact that English is the global language and most people can speak it and want to learn it – this frankly works against me and I will only learn French if I really go out of my way to learn it, even though I am living in the country itself.
I could go on but I won’t…
What my situation proves is this:
Unless you apply yourself to the task, you won’t learn a language, even if you live in a country where that language is spoken. This contradicts the old adage that immersion alone is the path to fluency in another language. Applying yourself to the language really means being prepared to spend time with that language – consuming it and producing it – either by studying it or by engaging in communication with it. If you don’t apply yourself properly, it won’t happen.
There are three important factors, which you have to have in place to learn a language. Simply living in the country where they speak that language is not enough unless you have these three factors involved.
Motivation – the desire to learn it which drives your behaviour, your curiosity, your patience and your will to continue practising and overcoming obstacles. Motivation is vital. It could be short-term motivation – like, you work as a waiter in French and you just have to understand people or you will have a miserable time – on a daily basis. So, the motivation to just get some control over the panic in every moment of the day. Or it could be a more long-term sort of motivation, which is usually the idea that you’re learning the language because you want to have it as part of your identity. You’re just drawn to it because you simply want to be a person who can speak that language.
Habits – regular practice and contact with the language. The longer and more frequent the better. Also, a certain organised approach to keeping a record of what you’ve learned, and measuring your goals and your progress.
Resources – these are the things that can help you – text books, reading books, listening materials, also people who you can talk to.
It does depend on the person too, I think. I believe some people just soak up the language – but this is down to motivation a lot of the time. The ones who soak up the language and just learn it through contact and immersion seem to be the ones who just enjoy exploring this world of the second language and who embrace their new life in a second language. I haven’t embraced my “french side”.
Perhaps I need a structured system – a regular study plan that I can apply. E.g. working through coursebooks or simply reading and listening to dialogues and doing exercises.
But ultimately motivation is the main one. If you’re motivated – you’ll actually do things to improve your level. I just don’t do enough things. I don’t apply myself. My excuse: I’m just too caught up in my world of English.
These three things (motivation, habits, resources) may be the most important factors for learning a language. Motivation is probably the big one. If you really want to learn a language, you will.
If you’re not that bothered about learning it, you won’t learn it – even if you live surrounded by that language.
So I suppose that I feel bad because my lack of French seems to suggest that I don’t care about it. That makes me feel bad because I don’t want people to think that I don’t care, or that I’m not invested in the country where I live, or that I’m not integrating with the culture. I feel bad that ultimately I’m not learning French because I just don’t care about it. I’m a bit conflicted about this. I think I do care of course, but perhaps not enough to actually do anything about it. Habit is involved here too though, because I think it’s a question of changing certain things in my lifestyle – like, basically, including some French practice into my lifestyle on a daily basis – but it’s hard to break the habits of a lifetime.
I think it is a vicious cycle.
If I don’t learn the language, I can’t appreciate the culture properly and I get alienated, and if I can’t appreciate the culture properly, I can’t really learn the language because I’m alienated from it. Add a sense of shame and the fact that I really should be a better learner because I’ve been a language teacher for a long time – the result is a bit of a mess in my head, and it all blocks my ability to learn French.
I’m also quite modest. I’m probably beating myself up a bit and I’m not utterly hopeless or anything. But my honest assessment is that I’m far from good enough especially after having lived here surrounded by French people for a few years. I think I’m A2/B1. I’m only capable of limited conversations about familiar things. I need help and patience from the person I’m talking to. I frequently come across moments where I just can’t carry on because I didn’t understand something or because I don’t have the words. I can follow a group conversation for about 20 minutes but then I get lost. Honest assessment – Pre-intermediate. Intermediate on a good day. Strengths – listening, reading, general communicative competence (all my other things are good – active listening, body language, I’m very aware of what makes a good communicator – I’m a reactive person and I’m not completely stupid). Weaknesses – speaking (fluency, accuracy, vocabulary range, pronunciation, grammatical accuracy) writing – no idea how to spell a lot of what I’m hearing, for example. Sometimes I can’t distinguish a phrase from a single word. I’m illiterate, basically! I feel like I have a similar level of intelligence as a really clever ape (like a particularly gifted chimp) or an average 4-year-old child.
Also, being a language teacher myself might actually exacerbate the problem. I’m so aware of what I should be doing, of how far I have to go, how much work I need to be doing, that I’m just defeated before I’ve even started. I’m essentially just down at the foot of the mountain, running around doing lots of things, constantly aware of the mountain looming above me and how much climbing I have to do.
Alright this isn’t supposed to be some sort of self-flagellation session or a confessional. Let me get on to those classroom experiences I was supposed to be talking about.
In Part 2:
- Reading from the diary I wrote while taking French classes a few years ago.
- Learning language in the classroom vs on your own.
Thanks for listening!
I might be able to respond to your comments in part 2 so go ahead and write your thoughts and questions.