The conversation includes lots of stories and descriptions of what happened at the school this summer, including things like teenage sleeping habits, a Chinese celebrity teenager, the proper way to eat a pizza, piano-playing Italian wonder-kids, making tie-dye t-shirts, riding roller-coasters, and blossoming friendships across national borders.
Hello listeners – how are you doing? In the last episode we listened to some comedy routines by Scouse comedian John Bishop and I said we’d take a closer look at the Liverpool accent, break it down, listen to some more samples and also learn some typical words you might hear being used in Liverpool. So that’s the plan in this episode. All about the Liverpool accent.
There’s nowhere in the UK quite like Liverpool. You probably know it as where The Beatles came from, or because of the football clubs LFC and EFC. Perhaps some of you have visited it or studied there are students, because it’s a big university town.
I lived there for 4 years as a student.
My feelings when I moved there:
It’s definitely in the north! Up north.
First time I lived in the north, and there is a north/south divide in the UK
Climate is different
People are different to the people anywhere else – they’re cheeky, chatty, tough, humourous, a bit tricky sometimes, proud and also quite sentimental and sensitive about the city.
The place has a particular history that isn’t shared by other towns in England. Its cultural mix is different to the rest of the country. The accent in particular is very distinctive, and it’s confined to just the local Liverpool area – a relatively small space when you consider the accent diversity in other larger countries where the same accent may be heard for many miles, like for example in Texas. In England our accents are very specific and very local. Travel 30 minutes by car from Liverpool to neighbouring Manchester and the accent is very different and this is largely because of the history of Liverpool as an international port and the rich diversity of influences.
This is a corner of the country with a strong character and a recognisable accent to go along with it.
Scousers, or people from Liverpool are instantly recognisable by their accent. The sound of a Liverpool accent instantly conjures up certain images, certain cliches, certain reference points and a certain history which is unique to that part of the country.
In this episode the plan is to investigate the Liverpool accent, and to some extent the dialect, listen to some samples, find out some of the pronunciation features, and consider a little bit of Liverpool’s history and culture. We’ll listen to a few different people speaking in a Liverpool accent and I’ll help you to understand it all, and I’m sure you’ll pick up some nice vocabulary on the way – and not just local slang words but words that everybody in the country uses but which the Scousers might just pronounce in their own way.
The aim is to broaden your horizons, broaden your exposure to different accents and to help you get a full appreciation of English in all its forms.
The Milk Advert on TV
Let’s start with an advert that used to be on the TV and which millions of British people watched many times – The famous milk advert.This is what the whole nation (of my generation) might think of as a sample of Scouse English. Many of us heard it lots of times growing up and a lot of us even learned it. I used to be able to recite it word for word when I was a kid.
Picture two children from Liverpool who have been playing football in the garden. They come into the house to get something refreshing to drink from the fridge (or should that be “fridge”). One asks for lemonade, the other one chooses to drink milk because it’s “what Ian Rush drinks”.
Ian Rush was a famous footballer in the 80s. He played for Liverpool for years and scored many goals for them. He was Welsh. By the way, you should also know that there is a place in England called “Accrington” (north of Manchester) and their football team (Accrington Stanley) aren’t very good – so Accrington Stanley is a reference for an unknown football team that nobody wants to play for.
Audio sample 1 – The Milk Advert
Lee Mack making fun of the Scouse accent
Features of the Liverpool Accent
Let’s now take a closer look at the Liverpool accent, considering some of the main features that make Scouse English different to the kind of RP that I speak. Then we’ll listen to some more samples of Scouse speech and you can see if you understand them.
/k/ can become /x/ like in “loch” “Accrington Stanley” “milk” “Lee Mack”
/r/ sounds – alveolar tap “accrington stanley” “I’m afraid I’m not from round here” “alright”
/t/ can sound like /s/ “butter” “I’m going to go into town later, do you want something” “Come on then mate, let’s start. Come ed, Let’s get started.”
/g/ is pronounced not just with the /ŋ/ but all the way to a /g/ sound “sing” “singer” “Ere mate are you a singer? You gonna sing us a song?”
And yet sometimes it’s completely dropped like in “Eh mate what are you doing?” – “what are yew dewin? What are youse doing coming over here like that?” “Milk, that’s disgusting”
/h/ sounds are often dropped “That has never happened to be honest”
/d/ sounds instead of /th/ sounds – “They do though don’t they though?”
/ɜː/ like “bird” becomes [ɛː] like “air” – “work”, “first”, “bird” “Are you always the first one to get to work in the morning”
/a:/ sounds in the south are like /æ/ in the north (normal in the north generally) “bath” “grass” “laugh”
But sometimes it goes wider like aaaa in “card” or “pokemon cards”
/ʊ/ in book sounds like /u:/ “book” (but not every time – sometimes they say it like me, and words like ‘took’ and ‘look’ are often pronounced. I don’t know why it’s “book”)
/-er/ sounds at the ends of words normally pronounced with schwa sound are pronounced with an /e/ sound “computer” “teacher” “fitter” “singer”
/ʌ/ becomes like /ʊ/ or /ɒ/ “but erm… shut up” “shut up will ya”
/eə/ sometimes becomes /ɜː/ – “hair” “over there”
All those features are interesting, but there’s a good chance that all just went over your head. Really the best way to get used to hearing scouse English is just to listen to some people using it.
Audio Sample 2 – Jamie Carragher “Butchers” the English Language
Just listen and tell me these things:
Who is he?
What’s he talking about? (general subject)
Audio sample 3 – Stephen Gerrard, former England captain
What is he looking forward to?
Is he worried about the regime change with Fabio Cappello (known for being a discipinarian)
Does he have a message of hope for England fans?
What would it mean to David Beckham to achieve 100 caps?
Audio Sample 4 – Wayne Gerrard – a spoof of Scouse footballers by Paul Whitehouse
Wayne Gerrard (spoof)
Just get my head down
Let my feet do the talking
Very pleased for the fans
Very pleased for the manager
One game at a time
Keep my head down
Let my football do the talking
A short history of Liverpool
Liverpool is in the north west of England. It’s a port town on the river Mersey, just where the north coast of Wales meets the west coast of England.
Liverpool started as a small trading port probably in the 13th or 14th centuries.
By the 17th and 18th centuries it was the primary port for trade with Ireland. There was lots of trade with Ireland, and also ships coming from Norway and Sweden or other scandinavian countries.
The industrial revolution, globalisation and Britain’s colonialism meant that Liverpool became a hugely important port for British ships heading to the Americas in the 19th century.
As a result by the mid 19th century, Liverpool was a hugely important city for trading with the new world.
The population of the city grew quickly with amazing diversity – everyone from around the world was there, including large numbers of Irish and Welsh workers, scandinavian sailors but also Chinese workers, Caribbean workers associated with the slave trade.
Liverpool was one of the most important and most impressive cities in the world at this time.
It was sometimes called the New York of Europe, and you can see evidence of that in some of the buildings – parts of the city resemble some of the style of New York buildings, especially in the old part of town and by the docks.
The diverse history is still evident in the cultural make-up of the city. There is still a large Chinese community and also many families of Caribbean origin in parts of Liverpool.
The biggest influences though were the Welsh and certainly the Irish communities who moved in for the manual work that was available there in the 19th century. Liverpool is heavily influenced by the Irish, and it was described as the capital of Ireland just because so many Irish people lived there.
All of these influences can be heard in the Liverpool accent – some Irish, some features of Welsh (which is a totally different language to English) and also some scandinavian influences and many others that make Liverpool so different. That’s also combined with the local Lancashire accent too. All of it combines to create this particularly rich and vibrant form of English.
The city was very rich and very important during the industrial revolution, but conditions for many people were appalling – living squeezed into dirty and dangeous slums.
Gradually Britain’s position as the global industrial imperial power started slipping, and the two world wars sped up that process. Many young men were killed in World War 1, and between the two wars Liverpool was partly redesigned with many residential areas being built around the outskirts of the city, and lots of the people who previously lived in the slums being relocated there. This changed the nature of the city, with large outlying residential areas with row upon row of terraced houses.
World War 2 was devastating to Liverpool as it was the target of bombing raids by the Luftwaffe. Like many cities in the UK, Liverpool got pounded by bombs night after night and lots of buildings were destroyed, and they stayed destroyed for many years.
When the Beatles were growing up in Liverpool in the 1950s it was common for children to play in bombsites – in the remains of buildings destroyed by bombs, and even when I was living there in the 1990s I saw lots of empty spaces in residential streets where buildings used to exist but still hadn’t been replaced since the war.
With the end of the industrial revolution, Liverpool’s importance slipped and basically since WW2 Liverpool has been a rather tough place to live, with various social problems, unemployment, poverty, and perhaps the sense that the city has been somewhat ignored or forgotten by the country which used to rely on it so much.
These days the city is known for The Beatles, the football clubs and players, some cultural things such as the vibrant art scene and just the scouse people themselves who are known for their humour and their unique character.
Here’s a female voice – Jennifer Ellison, an actress from Liverpool.
Audio sample 5 – Jennifer Ellison “Mum of the Year Awards 2013”
Here are some bits of the dialect or just typical sounding words.
To be honest, you hear most of these things in many parts of the country, but listen out for how scousers would say these things.
‘Me’ not ‘my’ – “You’ve broken all me biccies!”
‘You’ (plural) – ‘youse’ “Youse are all a bunch of bleedin eejits”
Adding “me” at the end of a sentence starting with ‘I’. “I’m dead hungry, me.”
“Boss” – That’s boss that. Have you played FIFA. It’s boss.”
“See ye later”
“Go ed” “g’wed”
“Alright! Calm daaaawn!” (cliche)
“Nice one son”
“Bacon barm” – “two bacon barms please”
“Like” – “I was like, walking down the Scotty road and I seen these two like students.”
Lots of people in the UK got to know Scouse very well from watching Brookside, a soap opera that started in the 80s. It was about middle class and working class life in Liverpool and it often showed scenes of social problems including frequent arguments between the main characters. This helped to build the stereotype that Scousers are argumentative and prone to social problems.
Audio sample 6 – Brookside argument
3 people – Barry, Barry’s mum and Billy
Barry wants his money
But the account is £500 short
Because his Mum lent it to someone else (Billy)
So, let’s cut out the middle man, give us the money
He hasn’t got it – he needed it to pay the mortgage and the car
Barry gets angry with Billy saying “you’ve got it made here”
Barry is angry with Billy because he’s borrowing money from his Mum
“I’m going to have to go back to the car fella, tell him I can’t have the car”
You’ve screwed up our Christmas!
Then he pushes him.
This cliche of argumentative Scousers was summed up in a series of sketches on a comedy TV show called Harry Enfield’s TV Programme.
This cemented the stereotype of Scousers as:
Argumentative & violent – often fighting and infighting
From large families with lots of brothers
Always wearing shellsuits
Unemployed – around the house all day
With mustaches and curly permed hair
Audio sample 7 – Harry Enfield – The Scousers (the cliched view)
Alright, calm down calm down.
Are you telling me to calm down?
Alright you two, break it up!
What’s going on here eh?
Do you have to make such a friggin fuss about it?
Just keep out of it Barry.
Are you telling me to keep out of it?
The Beatles are also famously from Liverpool, but nobody seems to really speak like them any more. The accent has become more nazal and harsher. The Beatles spoke in this kind of “Beatle voice” which you don’t hear so much any more.
You can hear the scouse in their voices though if you listen carefully.
Audio sample 8 – Beatles
Audio Sample 9 – Local documentary on YouTube
Mini doc https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIcPTpWq5jY
There’s going to be a meetup of some London-based LEPsters this coming Sunday 30th July at 7pm at the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street. It’s just north of Soho and to the west of Tottenham Court Road. There should also be a Facebook link soon.
The Fitzroy Tavern
6 Charlotte St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 2LY, UK
Sunday 30th July 7pm Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street.
Zdenek Lukas of Zdenek’s English podcast will be there with any other London-based LEPsters that choose to come out. The plan is to have conversation, a beer or two and perhaps play some board games, because Zdenek is bringing some board games too. So head on down to practise your English, meet some like-minded people in a cool part of central London.
Episode Notes & Transcripts
Hello dear listeners, welcome to the podcast. This is one of those episodes in which I go through some British comedy and help you to understand it. We will cover some vocabulary and also some cultural stuff too.
This is also chance to for you to listen to some Scouse English – the kind of English you might hear in Liverpool.
Scouse – that means from Liverpool. A Scouser is a person from Liverpool, and in that area people speak with a Scouse accent. In fact you find that accent in many parts of Merseyside – which means, Liverpool and its surrounding areas.
I’m going to tell you briefly about a popular stand up comedian from Merseyside (the Liverpool area) called John Bishop, who is often on the TV and on stage across the UK. I think he’s probably one of the most famous scousers in the UK these days. We’re going to listen to one or two of his routines which you can find on YouTube, we’ll understand them and notice some features of his Liverpool accent.
By the end of this episode I expect that you’ll have broadened your vocabulary, you’ll have become more familiar with the way people speak English in Liverpool and you’ll have learned some cultural details about family life in the UK. Also, you’re going to be introduced to the comedy of John Bishop, who you might enjoy. There are various John Bishop videos on YouTube and you can can buy his comedy DVDs which are very popular in the UK. If you like what you hear in this episode, you could get one of those DVDs and use it for both learning English and for your own general amusement.
John Bishop – some info on him
To cut a long story short, he was born in Liverpool and has lived in the Merseyside area for most of his life.
Where is Liverpool? Why is it called Merseyside?
People in Liverpool – amongst other things they are known for having a particular accent which people say is a kind of mix between Irish, Welsh (a lot of Irish and Welsh workers moved into the city during it’s time as a major industrial port in the 19th century), Lancashire and even Scandinavian influences. The accent is instantly recognisable to anyone in the UK.
So, John Bishop was born in Liverpool and has lived in the area for most of his life.
In his 20s he had what seems to have been a fairly boring and ordinary career selling pharmaceuticals. By the age of 30 he was married and had a baby son but he wasn’t particularly happy. He ended up getting separated from his wife and they were going to get divorced. He started doing stand-up during this period because he says it stopped him staying at home on his own in the evenings and drinking. It got him out of the house. The thing is, he found that he was good at it and eventually he quit his job to do stand-up full-time. Basically stand-up saved him and it rescued his marriage too – because one day his wife (who was divorcing him at the time) happened to see him on stage during a show and she went up to him afterwards and said “that was the man I fell in love with years ago” and they got back together. Since then his stand-up comedy career has taken off, and how he’s one of the most popular and well-known comedians in the UK. He’s often on the TV and his stand-up comedy DVDs are very popular.
Now he’s got quite a big family with 3 kids – all of them boys. In his comedy he talks a lot about family life and being a father – the typical frustrations, difficulties and experiences that many parents go through.
He’s definitely a mainstream comedian. I mean, his routines are not political, they’re not particularly challenging or controversial. They’re not super intellectual. It’s just straight forward observational comedy and storytelling. He’s not my #1 favourite, but I just love stand-up and I definitely enjoy his work even if he’s not my absolute favourite. But he is very successful. I think his appeal is that he’s an ordinary guy and his stories and routines are very relatable – people enjoy them because they can relate to them.
Scousers have a reputation in the UK for a few things – one of them is for being funny. This maybe a cliché or a stereotype, but I do think it’s quite true, having lived in Liverpool for 4 years. I met lots of Scousers who were very funny – just characters with stories to tell and who had the gift of the gab and good comic timing.
John Bishop is a good example of that. Partly it’s to do with the Liverpool accent which has so much character and I think helps the delivery of his routines. He tells endearing stories in a relaxed way. He wears a suit and tie so he’s well-presented. He is quite handsome and charming, but in an average kind of way. He’s like the ‘boy next door’ kind of guy. Just a normal bloke. His delivery is quite casual and easy-going, he keeps it pretty short and simple with pauses in the right places which is always a good approach to storytelling.
His attitude on stage is quite dry or deadpan (Wikipedia defines “dry” or “deadpan” like this: Deadpan or dry humor/wit describes the deliberate display of a lack of or no emotion, commonly as a form of comedic delivery to contrast with the ridiculousness of the subject matter. The delivery is meant to be blunt, sarcastic or apparently unintentional).
Usually his stories allow us to see that his life is actually quite frustrating and ridiculous – just like normal life is for everyone from time to time. Watching observational comedy like this makes you feel good because you totally understand what he’s going through because in fact your life is quite frustrating and ridiculous too. So it’s therapeutic – that’s what’s great about comedy. It lets you laugh at life and realise that you’re not alone and that we all experience these frustrating things.
Let’s listen to John Bishop, with his Liverpool accent, telling a couple of stories of family life from some of the videos on YouTube and let’s pick up some English in the process.
I’m going to play the first clip to you in just a moment.
As you listen, I wonder what you will be thinking. We’ve done this before, listening to English with different regional accents. You might feel that you can’t understand him completely – I think he speaks pretty clearly, delivering stories in a slow but punctuated way, but the accent might be hard for you to understand. You might think “Oh his accent is too strong”. I wouldn’t be at all surprised. But remember, English is a very diverse language. You might not want to speak like John Bishop (or maybe you do I don’t know) but you certainly should try to understand him. English comes in many different forms – many different accents – and even if you’re not familiar with those accents, they are normal and perfectly valid forms of the language which everyone can not only understand but appreciate.
It would be a pity for you to only understand one standard form of English. It would mean your English was limited. Anyone with a decent sense of English should be exposed to different accents. David Crystal said it, we all know it’s true. So let’s listen to some Scouse English. And please, do not think “Oh god his English is bad”. That’s not fair and it’s simply not true. I understand all of it, so do his audiences. British people do not struggle to understand him at all, quite the opposite – he’s very understandable and relatable. He draws in very large crowds of people to his shows all across the country. All those people understand and enjoy the things he says. His Liverpool accent is a very important part of his charm. If it’s hard to understand him I think it would be wise to consider that maybe you’re just not familiar with his accent, and that you just need to broaden your exposure to English a bit, and that this is a chance for you to do that.
Anyway, maybe you won’t have trouble understanding him at all and you’ll just enjoy listening to his story. Let’s see.
Here’s John talking about going on holiday with teenage kids (I wonder what teenagers are like in your country.)
You’re going to hear him say that he had a massive tour one year and he was away from home a lot so he wanted to spend some quality time with his kids – in a kind of nostalgic way – like he imagines it used to be when he was a kid – go somewhere in the countryside where there’s no internet so he can spend some quality time with his teenage sons, spending a sort of idyllic Christmas and New Year’s Eve sitting around the fireplace playing board games, like it was in the good old days. But, his kids are modern British teenage boys who are addicted to the internet – so that might make things difficult…
You’ll also hear a few sound effects from the video, which you can see on the page for this episode.
Holidays with the kids (video 1)
White trainers, growing up, puberty, hormones and getting your head kicked in by your own son. (video 2)
John Bishop gets a new fridge and takes his old one to the dump (video 3)
Here is some of the vocabulary you could learn from this episode.
Going on holiday with the kids (video 1)
Sitting around a log fire playing board games
Addicted to the internet
It’s on the border between Scotland, england and Narnia
Internet, it’s Berwick son, we haven’t even got ceefax
We turned up at the cottage
In the middle of nowhere
Youse three, go in the living room, put the telly on
Looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses
In the middle of nowhere
White trainers (video 2)
You don’t realise how much of a cock you are
They do your (bleedin) head in don’t they?
Going through puberty
You have a week off school for half term (holiday)
You do P.E. (physical education)
You walk into the showers all self-conscious
Some kid walks in with a beard and bollocks by his knees!
Your voice breaks and that’s when you don’t get control over your voice
The hormones just come flying in and you’ve got no control over them
It’s the funniest thing on the planet bar none
I’m not asking you, I’m telling you!
Get up them (those) stairs and take them off.
It’s like the little lion is taking on the big line and all the other lions are running around going “it’s kicking off here!”
We’re stood toe to toe
I can take you!
There’s a chance he can take me here.
Thinking you’re going to get your head kicked in with your shoes
Taking the fridge to the dump (video 3)
To get rid of some stuff
It’s health and safety gone mad
It’s political correctness gone mad
A silver fridge that’s the size of a bungalow
That hasn’t half changed our lives (that has changed our lives a lot)
Put it next to the sink
I’m saving meself (myself) a yard of walking
We had a spare fridge
I turned up at the dump
There’s a fella there with a yellow vest and a clipboard
He’s done an NVQ in clipboard management
You can’t just dump a fridge now
You’ll have to phone us up
Then we come and get it
Who do I ring?
The phone in his hut rang
I’m outside dickhead!
Talking to Billy from Korea about his videos about regional British dialects and accents.
Today on the podcast I’m very glad to be talking to the one and only Korean Billy.
You might already know about Korean Billy because he has recently made a name for himself on YouTube by producing videos about British English dialects showing and explaining specific words, phrases and accents you might hear in different parts of the UK, and they’re proving to be very popular, especially with people in Britain. I think the appeal of his videos is that although Billy is from another country, he’s really managed to identify a lot of the specific dialect words and pronunciation of these forms of British English that even some Brits aren’t that familiar with. Also, he just seems like a really nice guy who is not only enthusiastic about understanding different local dialects of British English but also helping other people to understand them too.
Billy used to live as a student in England. In fact he studied at university in Preston in the north of England for a few months where he met people from many parts of the country and then he started making YouTube videos about British dialects last year.
In the last few months his videos have gone viral, particularly in Britain, and he’s been featured on websites like BuzzFeed as well as on various radio and television programmes in England including several BBC programmes. He’s most famous in the UK for his videos on Scouse, Geordie, Mancunian and “Roadman” dialects. The Scouse dialect is from Liverpool, the Geordie dialect is from Newcastle, the Mancunian dialect is from Manchester and “Roadman” is a kind of dialect associated with groups of young people in London. Since recording this conversation Billy has uploaded videos about Hull dialect words and Birmingham dialect words. He’s also got some videos which feature some good clear advice for other people learning English as a foreign language, based on his own learning experiences.
I’m interviewing him on the podcast because I think he’s a really clever guy who has learned English to a good standard and he knows a lot about British accents and dialects. I want to know more about how he has done that, and I just love regional accents so I think it could just be a lot of fun to talk to Billy about this whole subject.
As a Brit, I’m interested in Billy’s work, but I wonder what you think, because you’re approaching this subject from a different point of view, as foreigners who don’t have English as a first language (most of you) and who might not be so familiar with these specific versions of British English.
How do you feel about this? What I hope is that you feel inspired by Billy, and you feel like he’s a good example of an English language learner, and that he shows that if you’re enthusiastic and outgoing about learning English and if you apply yourself to your learning that you can make heaps of progress. I also hope that although you might not want to speak with a Scouse accent or a Geordie accent, that you’re still curious about these different varieties of British English. I think that knowing the different versions of the language helps you to develop a fully rounded and solid English, and that involves not only listening to different accents but also trying to copy those accents. It’s all good for raising your awareness of features of pronunciation and improving the range of your English in general.
Jimmy Carr explains how to do some British accents, including Scouse “I want some chicken and a can of coke” (Billy mentioned this in our converstion)
Misfits (TV show) – Features lots of different UK accents and some *explicit content*
Attack the Block (Film) – South London youth dialect
What have you been thinking while listening to this episode?
Whoever you are, wherever you are – let us know your thoughts in the comment section.
Thanks to Korean Billy for taking part in this episode.
Some more thoughts, from me to you, at the end of this episode…
I just want to mention a few other things that might make you think a little bit.
I recently got this message from Nick Wooster, one of the guys who has been organising Get Togethers with other LEPsters in Moscow. This is basically his report about the get togethers.
Thanks for your interest in our meetings, Luke! It’s really important and pleasant for us! Almost like a virtual participation :) Actually, on average 10 people “get together” in our meetings! And it’s nice to know that there are already some regular LEPsters who come almost every time! BTW, are there really 50/50 males and females among your listeners?! According to our modest stats we have 80 males to 20% females here in Moscow:) Probably the fact that you are already married somehow influences, doesn’t it?
Activities. At the very beginning newcomers tell the rest of the group about themselves and how they happened to start listening to you:) After that we shift to the main topic mentioned in the agenda – each one shares his/her opinion and the others ask several questions or give comments if they have some. Usually the discussion is quite lively and not a mess. I mean, we do without loud interruption or arguing, while the talk is quite interactive itself, which is surprisingly good for people from diverse backgrounds who hardly know each other! We also share our own life stories connected with the topics. Next time we are going to play a lying game (to guess if smb.’s story is true or false) at the very beginning – it should be fun and also a good chance to work on our speaking skills. Also, Luke, if you have some ideas, pieces of advice, maybe just interesting and effective games or whatever we would be grateful to you for sharing best practices:) with us!
We also publish on FB and VK the links to useful resources discussed at the get-togethers.
Most of the participants have known about these meetings due to your announcement of the first one. That’s why we were thinking if we could ask you to announce that our Get-Togethers are already regular! Currently we meet every Sunday at 6 pm. The best way to be informed of agenda, place and time is to join our groups on FB https://m.facebook.com/groups/734996946664425?ref=bookmarks and VK http://www.vk.com/clubnu1
Previously as far as I remember we and you posted links for a particular event, if LEPsters join the group, they will be always aware of all the events. Everybody is welcome!
All in all, current Moscow LEPsters are really glad that we have such a club now and can share their thoughts on topics you have raised in your episodes and generally just speak English with like-minded people! Thank you, Luke, for such an opportunity;)
P.S. Regards from my friend Dmitry who also contacted you!
Hello Nick, hello Dmitry and hello to all the other listeners who have got together recently in a conversation club. It’s odd, normally I imagine my listeners as individuals on their own, but I suppose there are some people out there who listen as a shared experience with other people, not necessarily at the same time, but there are other people you know who also listen – so I just want to say a special hello to listeners who listen with other people – like, if you listen with a brother or sister “Hello”, if you listen with your husband, wife, boyfriend of girlfriend “hello”, if you listen with your kids or parents, “hello” and if you listen with your teacher or some classmates or something, then “hello” to you too. If you listen with a pet animal or even a wild animal “hello”, and if you listen with friends or indeed any other living beings, then “hello” to you – the communal LEPsters out there.
My thoughts on LEP Get Togethers
I want to encourage this sort of thing in general. Meeting publicly, or meeting online. Let’s be clear about it – what you’re doing is creating your own peer group for improving your English, and that’s a really important part of your English learning.
The more I speak to people who have learned English to a proficient level, the more I notice that one of the habits or features of their learning was the fact that they spent regular time with a group of friends who talked in English. For example, there’s Kristina from Russia – a good example, but also Korean Billy and plenty of other people. Another thing worth noticing about this is that you don’t necessarily have to be hanging around with native speakers. Just spending meaningful and enjoyable time in the company of others and doing it in English, building friendly relationships and all that – it’s all very good for your English, even if you’re not mixing with native speakers. If you’re getting exposure to English in your life, having a peer group to interact with is going to allow you to develop your communication skills as a natural social process. So I fully agree with the idea of these get togethers and I think it’s great!
Also, the more my listeners get together in local communities like this, the easier it might be for me to come and visit at some point and put on a show or have a live podcast recording or something. So, carry on everyone, you’re doing it right!
Several Get Togethers have also happened between LEPsters in Tokyo and in London if I remember correctly. So it’s not just the Moscow LEPsters. And you could do it too in your town. Just set up an FB page and let me know, I’ll give you some publicity if I can.
What to talk about or do?
Playing a game or having a topic – good ideas, definitely. I recommend using all your creativity, playing the lying game for fun or any other parlour games like the name game for example. Also, consider playing different board games in English too. As long as you’re having a relaxing and pleasant time and you’re exchanging information in English, it’s good.
One idea is simply to agree on your topic beforehand and simply write down a load of discussion questions relating to that topic. Then you can fall back on those questions if you need to. You can just let the conversation go wherever it feels like going, but go back to the questions if you want.
Be interested in what the others are saying. Really interesting people are interested in others. It’s important to create an atmosphere in which people listen to each other – this is really important because it makes people feel valued, and when you really listen to what people are trying to say and you show your interest in those people, it’s like giving water to a plant – it just helps it grow. Imagine you’re in a social situation. If you feel like people are interested and listening, you’ll feel far more comfortable and ready to talk. So, listen to each other and remember that everyone’s got a story to tell, you just need to be ready to notice it. So, your get-togethers are not just speaking sessions, they’re listening sessions too.
It might be worth assigning a leader to each session who is generally in charge of things, but also each participant should take the initiative to ask questions and start conversations and things, but of course it shouldn’t feel like a role or a job, just let it happen naturally.
Just have fun and keep me informed about how it’s all going!
I encourage other people to set up their own conversation groups. I’m calling them “Get-Togethers” – what do you think of that? Do you think the name works? You could call them Meetups, or Gatherings or Meetings or whatever you like really.
I just want to remind you that this sort of thing used to happen every week online on Skype in the ChatCast which was setup by Guillaume from Switzerland. It was basically a Skype group that recorded their group conversations and also published it as a podcast. I appeared on it a few times. They picked a different topic each week and just discussed it in a friendly and open way. The ChatCast is having a break at the moment but you can hear some of the episodes in the ChatCast archive at http://chatcast.ch/
There was also an LEP Whatsapp group and an LEP Skype group that used to share contact details in my website forum. I have closed the forum now because I streamlined my website recently, but I don’t know if the WhatsApp group and Skype groups are still running. So, if you are still chatting to other LEPsters as part of a conversation group on Whatsapp or Skype, please let me know because I can find a way for you to continue to share your contact details with each other on my website. I still have an archive of the Forum posts about the skype and whatsapp groups by the way.
There are lots of LEP related projects going on and I think it’s cool.
The comment section, with lots of friendly chatting about episodes, the topics of episodes and other tangents.
The LEP Get Togethers.
The Transcript Collaboration – run by The Orion Team – an awesome band of podcast listeners who work together to transcribe episodes of this podcast and proofread each others’ work.
Podcasts done by listeners to this podcast (although I can’t claim credit for all of them of course) but still, it’s great that they’re doing it. Notable ones of the moment are Zdenek’s English Podcast and Daniel Goodson’s My Fluent Podcast. There was also Chriss’ English Podcast and Guillaume’s Engilsh Podcast as well as the Chatcast and I’m sure I’m forgetting someone else.
Podcasting is brilliant anyway and of course I recommend that you try it, experiment with it and have fun. And of course Korean Billy could be an inspiration to you. You could consider sharing your learning experiences on your own YouTube channel. You might catch people’s attention, and who knows what cool things could happen to you. At the very least you’ll practise your English a lot.
All right, thanks for listening. This podcasting thing is pretty amazing isn’t it? Yes it is. OK good, I’m glad you agree. I’ll speak to you soon. Bye!
Today on the podcast I’m talking to Rob Ager from Liverpool, who is probably best known for his film analysis videos on YouTube in which he discusses classic Hollywood thrillers, sci-fi and action movies in quite astonishing levels of detail, often focusing on deep psychological and political themes and hidden messages that most viewers probably wouldn’t even notice. His videos are carefully constructed documentaries, made for educational purposes and all of them feature a voice-over commentary by Rob in which he analyses the film and gives his observations.
I think I first came across Rob’s work on YouTube about 5 or 6 years ago. Sometimes I start watching YouTube and I get sucked into a kind of YouTube worm hole. That’s where you start watching one video, and that leads you to watch another one and then another one and eventually you find yourself watching something really fascinating and unexpected and that you wouldn’t normally have come across. I think that’s what happened with Rob’s videos. I think I first came across a short documentary he made about a horror movie called The Thing by John Carpenter, which is one of my favourite films. It’s really scary, tense and well directed, and it has a terrifying monster in it. Also it has a complicated story line which creates an eerie sense of paranoia that invites the viewer to speculate on who is or who isn’t a monster. It was really interesting to listen to Rob talking about The Thing in so much detail and it made me think about the movie in ways that I hadn’t considered before.
Then after that I kept noticing other videos by Rob and I would always watch them with interest. He has videos about The Matrix, Star Wars, The Shining, Alien and more.
Sometimes I find his comments to be a bit too specific, like he is perhaps over-analysing the films, but then again I think this is what’s great about movies – that everyone can interpret them in any way they want – and that a film might mean one thing to you, but mean a completely different thing to someone else. Even the director of the film might have a very specific message in the movie, that most of us don’t even notice. I think most modern film makers understand these ideas and they often leave their movies open to interpretation. Think, for example about the ending of Inception starring Leonardo DiCaprio – what does it really mean? We’re supposed to imagine and discuss our own interpretations of it, and I think it’s one of the strengths of the film and one of the reasons it is so popular. Everyone can leave the movie with their own theory on what it was about and what had happened at the end. Rob Ager takes this principle – that there are multiple readings of a movie – and really runs with it in his documentaries, suggesting that many of these great films that we love could in fact be about political events in the real world, our deep desires and psychological motivations or even about hidden power structures.
Another interesting thing for me is that Rob comes from Liverpool. He’s a scouser (that’s the word for people who come from Liverpool) and he speaks with a scouse accent, which really reminds me of the people I used to meet, talk to and work with when I lived in Liverpool years ago. The Liverpool accent is really distinctive, and I always want to feature different British accents on this podcast, so on this one you’ve got the chance to get used to listening to a scouse accent, or Liverpool accent.
Also, I think Liverpool is a fascinating city and not enough people know about it. Most people know The Beatles or Liverpool and Everton football clubs, but there’s more to Liverpool than that. I’m hoping that Rob will tell me a few things about what it’s really like to live and grow up in this important English city.
His website – CollativeLearning.com reveals all sorts of interesting things – like that fact that Rob is a filmmaker himself and he is very prolific with his analysis videos. He has loads of documentaries which you can download from the website. What becomes clear after reading and watching his work is that Rob is a very observant and articulate person with a great interest in film, but he is also knowledgeable about a wide range of academic theories and he incorporates ideas from psychology, sociology and philosophy in his film analysis. All of that reminds me a lot of the things I read and wrote about while doing my Media & Cultural Studies degree at university in Liverpool. What’s also notable about Rob though is that he has received no formal academic education or training in all of these subjects – he’s completely self-educated.
I’ve never spoken to Rob before, and I’m recording this introduction before our interview, which is due to start in just a few moments. I’ve got no idea how the conversation will go or what directions our conversation will take but I really hope it’s an insightful and engaging listening experience and that Rob and I get on with each other. I suggest that you listen out for differences between my standard Southern British RP accent and Rob’s accent, and let’s see what kind of vocabulary emerges from our talk.
Alright, it’s time to speak to Rob now. So, here we go.
*Conversations starts (after I remembered to press ‘record’ on my device)*
Links & Videos
Rob’s website http://www.collativelearning.com
Some interesting videos from Rob’s YouTube channel
Luke’s Intro Hello listeners, this episode is all about football! Saturday afternoon, down the pub, going to a match, listening to the radio, the results coming in on your phone, the mixed emotions of a big game, the joy, the tension the disappointment, the celebrations, the rivalries, the joy of being a kid and playing football in the park, jumpers for goalposts, to the international spectacle of The World Cup – huge moments of drama witnessed by the whole world simultaneously, star players, controversial refereeing decisions, angry & stressed out managers, tears & injuries, that magic sponge that they use to cure injuries, the glamourous and sexy footballers’ wives, the sight of a perfectly struck free-kick – the ball spinning and curling in the air in slow motion as it glides over the wall and over the heads of defenders, curving in space and beyond the tips of the goalkeeper’s fingers as it sails majestically right into the top corner of the goal, sending the net billowing back and cascading behind it – the goalkeeper still falling, the player staring – there’s that brief moment of silence before the entire stadium explodes like a million tonnes of dynamite, but in a good way!
FOOTBALL! Our old friend.
Or maybe you can’t stand it. Maybe for you it’s just 90 minutes of crushing boredom – watching powerless while a bunch of overpaid prima donnas kick an air-filled sack around a green rectangle, while nothing happens, nothing changes. Men get either drunk, depressed and violent, or even worse; drunk, depressed and violent. The inarticulate players cheat, dive onto the floor like broken flowers – injured beyond repair, and then jump up back to full health, their wounds miraculously cured, to argue with the referee. The managers shout and just look stressed, no-one makes any sense when they talk about it, there’s way too much money involved and it never ever ends. Football.
But we love it, yes we do. It’s the world’s number 1 sport…
James Simpson James is an English actor, comedian and Sheffield United fan. He now lives in Paris, and is one of the voices behind The Paris Pod, which is a great podcast about the life of English ex-pats in Paris.
Here are the notes which I used to record this podcast episode. It’s not a transcript, but I do read from these notes during the episode.
Accents and Dialects
I’m going to do a series of podcasts about accents. I’ve already done one about British and American accents, but I think accents are fascinating and a lot of fun so I’m going to do more. They are also very important for you, because:
-You need to be aware of different styles of English
-You shouldn’t listen to just ONE style of English because there’s a wide range of ways to say the same thing
-You need to be aware of the different sounds in English and what they mean
-You need to choose the accent you want, and then copy it
-You need to be able to understand different accents when you hear them
One of the most interesting things for me about accents is what and accent can tell you about a person. When I hear someone speak, their accent immediately gives me lots of associations. Just the sound of someone’s voice might tell me; their social class, which part of the country they are from, if they’re from the town or countryside, what their background might be, what their attitudes might be.
Obviously we shouldn’t judge people by their accents, and these are just pre-conceptions but the point is, I get all these associations but learners of English don’t. They can’t tell if someone is from the north or south or what social class they might come from. Native speakers usually can.
I’m interested in bridging that gap between what a native speaker knows/understands about accents and what a learner knows/understands.
Firstly, what is an accent and what is a dialect. A dialect is the usage or vocabulary that is characteristic of a specific group of people. An accent is the way in which a language is pronounced. So, dialect is differences in vocabulary and accent is differences in pronunciation.
Secondly, how many accents can you find in the UK? There are lots! At least 10.
How many accents are there in the world? Again, there are lots. Between different English speaking countries, and also within those countries. There are lots of ways of saying the same sentence in English!
Is it true that there is such thing as a British accent and an American accent? It’s not true that there is just one American or British accent. There are so many in America and so many in Britain but you can group accents as ‘British’ because they share many features and come from Britain. You can do the same for America too. But there is not just 1 British accent or 1 American accent.
If we focus on the UK we can see lots of different accents that are linked closely with different regions and cultures in the UK.
The standard accent which is used by the BBC World Service, Oxford & Cambridge dictionaries and the commonly used phonemic chart is called RP (received pronunciation) or BBC English. This is a standard form without a specific region. It’s traditionally associated with educated people who speak ‘correctly’. These days we’re more politically correct so any accent is ‘correct’ but RP is considered to be clear and non-region specific. I would say that it is more common in the south. I would also say that I speak with an RP accent with a few traces of accents I have picked up, particularly the Birmingham accent, because I lived there for a few years.
Then there are regional accents. I can’t go into great detail, but I will run through a few. There will be more podcasts in which I play you real samples of these accents. Here’s a list of different accents from the UK: Cornwall, Bristol (South West), London, East Anglia, Midlands (Birmingham), Wales, Liverpool, Manchester, Yorkshire, Newcastle, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland.
In the next few episodes I will play you extracts of different accents and highlight their features. Hopefully you’ll get familiar with a range of accents.
An interesting video in which an actor goes around the map of England, doing the different accents:
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