Tag Archives: learning

883. A Last-minute Rambling Episode

A spontaneous monologue about being taken by surprise by public holidays in May (in France), a podcast recommendation, and seeing a hard-rocking and hilarious band perform live in a big arena last week. Includes a song at the end as a tribute.

[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]



Want something else to listen to?

Listen to my interview with my friend Martin on his new podcast “Aarballs” 👇

Podcast links for Aarballs 👇 https://pod.link/1742336735

881. The first non-native speaker to read the UK TV news (with Barbara Serra)

Barbara Serra is an award-winning Italian journalist who has spent much of her career reading the news in the UK on various high-profile well-established English language news networks including the BBC, Channel 5, Al Jazeera English and Sky News. Barbara has quite a specific relationship with the English language. We talk about learning English, challenges in her career, and the relationship between accent and identity.

[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

Intro Transcript

Hello listeners, today on the podcast I am talking to Barbara Serra, the Italian journalist who reads the news on television in the UK. She’s a very interesting guest and has lots of interesting things to say about the way her identity and career have been shaped by her relationship to the English language. 

We’re going to talk about reading the news in the UK when you sound like a foreigner, lots of questions around identity and accent, and all sorts of other things that Barbara has experienced in her time as a broadcast journalist. I think you will find it very interesting as a learner of English looking to improve your English as much as possible in different contexts, both personal and professional. 

LEPster meet-up in Da Nang Vietnam

Gordon’s Pizza (in An Thuong area) on Friday 17th May from 9pm.

Send Zdenek an email if you’re interested – teacherzdenek@gmail.com

Barbara Serra is an award-winning Italian journalist who has spent much of her career reading the news in the UK on various high-profile well-established English language news networks including the BBC, Channel 5, Al Jazeera English and Sky News. 

Barbara has quite a specific relationship with English. It’s her dominant language but not her native language. She has a certain accent, which does place her outside the UK somehow. So how has this affected her career as a news reader and reporter? 

Broadcast journalism is associated with a certain model of spoken English – in the UK that would be what is often called BBC English, and traditionally the role of newsreader has been synonymous with that kind of high-level, high-status form of spoken English. 

So what has Barbara’s experience been? 

What is the story of her English? 

How did she get the point where she was ready to do this job? What kind of challenges has she faced while reading the news in the UK? 

And what does this all tell us about learning English, what it means to improve your accent, the relationship between accent and identity, the definition of “native” and “non-native speaker”, the status of different English accents in the English speaking world?

Let’s get into it.


LINKS

👉 Barbara’s email newsletter “News with a foreign accent” https://barbaraserra.substack.com/

👉 Barbara’s website with course info https://www.barbaraserra.info/

Luke on a couple of other shows recently

Take Acast’s podcast survey here

834. The best way to learn a language, according to research (Article) 📖

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.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

📖 Gavin Lamb’s article on Medium.com https://medium.com/the-faculty/what-does-the-research-say-about-the-best-way-to-learn-another-language-797882ee0b45

https://medium.com/the-faculty/what-does-the-research-say-about-the-best-way-to-learn-another-language-797882ee0b45

Some previous episodes which are also about how to learn English 👇

813. Language Learning is a Voyage of Discovery / Steve Kaufmann Interview

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 🐄🦈🎿😅.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

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!! 🐮🦈⛷

785. Crossword Puzzles & Word Origins (with Fred Eyangoh)

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)

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD AUDIO]

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…

Ending

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.

Vocabulary Summary

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.

760. The Rick Thompson Report: Ukraine

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

[DOWNLOAD]

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.

544. The Rick Thompson Report: No Deal Brexit

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.

[DOWNLOAD]

Introduction Transcript

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.


Ending Transcript

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.

Bye…

522. Learning English at Summer School in the UK (A Rambling Chat with Raphael Miller)

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. 👨‍🎓🌞🇬🇧

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

Your English Summer – Links

Website www.yourenglishsummer.co.uk

Facebook www.facebook.com/yourenglishsummer/

Introduction Transcript

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…

160. The A to Z of Christmas

Liverpool Accent Episodes

469. British Comedy: John Bishop

470. Understanding the Liverpool Accent

Your English Summer – Links

Website www.yourenglishsummer.co.uk

Facebook www.facebook.com/yourenglishsummer/

Ending Transcript

That was a rambling chat with Raphael Miller.

Don’t forget to visit www.yourenglishsummer.co.uk

and https://www.facebook.com/yourenglishsummer/

…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!

Luke

521. Talking about Pets (with James)

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.

Small Donate Button[DOWNLOAD]

Introduction

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.


Ending

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.

Luke

Phrases and vocab from episode 521. (contributed by Jack)

I don’t know if you can tell but my voice sounds a bit funny
Domesticated creatures
Furry companions
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
Chomp
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.
Morality
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
Distraction
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.
Spare bedroom
You try and stroke her, tickle her or something and invariably she would strike out or hiss…..
They had a litter of cats
Kitten
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

Hyperactive
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.
Castrated
They spray pheromones and stuff
Vet
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.
Door mat
Bitting the rabbit’s head off
Spleen
Fluffy tail
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
Poker faced
Squashy faced

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
Medieval times

Luke : like if people in the city were rioting.

James: bring out some bad tempered cats on leads and sort out the protestors.

Leopard
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
Drool
I think we are going on a bit of a tangent here.
Dalmatians
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.

Full moon
…….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.

Sawdust
They’d be gnawing a piece of wood which would be like rattle and tap against the glass.

Suburban farce
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!

A ferret
They are like a mink.
Pole cat
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
Mishaps
A dog can around a whole load of sheep and get it through a fend a gate.
Paper round
Some of the dogs are very yappy
Ring the creature in half (break the neck)
They can be mean.
Roulette
It would come tearing towards you.
Whippy stick
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.

Boa constrictor
Babboon
Scratch his face
Vibe
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.