Tag Archives: meeting

368. The LEP Annual General Meeting 2016 / QUESTIONS

Welcome to the LEP Annual Meeting 2016, which actually doesn’t take place on an annual basis. In this meeting I’m going to deal with various points of admin (including a language point about words like ‘annual’, ‘biannual’, ‘biennial’ etc, Pokemon Go, Transcript Collaboration, LEP Meet-Ups, Comedy shows, music, torrent sites and a comment from a vampire) and I’m going to ask you various questions during the episode. Please give your answers to the questions (any of them) in the comment section below.


In this episode I’m holding a Luke’s English Podcast Annual General Meeting – an LEP AGM. It’s called an ‘annual’ meeting but in fact this is an AGM that doesn’t happen on an annual basis! And by the way – on an annual basis means “every year”! In fact the last time I held an AGM was almost exactly 3 years ago on 4 August 2013. So perhaps this should be the “triennial” meeting (not tri-annual because that means three times a year).

Language Point: Time expressions – Annual, Biannual, Biennial, etc

On that note actually, there is a language point to be made here, and that’s expressions of frequency, with words like annual, biannual, weekly, biweekly etc.

Let’s start small and work outwards.

So, there’s ‘on a minute by minute basis’, which means ‘every minute’. E.g. New updates on the story are coming in on a minute by minute basis.

That also works with seconds to be honest.

Then there’s ‘hourly’, or ‘every hour’, ‘once every hour’ and ‘on an hourly basis’. E.g. the website is updated hourly. The website is updated every hour, or once every hour. The website is updated on an hourly basis.

Then, daily, every day, once a day and on a daily basis.

It starts to get more tricky when we get to ‘week’. We have ‘weekly’, ‘every week’ and then ‘on a weekly basis’ and ‘once a week’ – all of which mean that the thing happens one time per week.

But then there’s the word ‘biweekly’. E.g. “At our biweekly meeting’. Now, does that mean that the meeting happens twice in one week or just once every two weeks?

“You can also benefit from our biweekly newsletters.” – so do I get 8 newsletters in a month, or 2 newsletters in a month?

This does cause some confusion with native speakers and occasionally requires some clarification.

Of course the problem is a result of differences between North American English and British English, as is often the case with little differences of usage like this. So, in the USA “biweekly” tends to mean that the thing happens every two weeks, whereas in the UK it means that it happens twice in one week.

So, basically in the UK you get more! It seems we’re either more greedy or more generous than the USA in this particular instance.

Well, in any case the expressions are slightly different. Imagine that you get more in the UK – and so biweekly means twice a week. We also have an expression in British English to mean “once every two weeks” and that is ‘fortnightly’. A ‘fortnight’ is 2 weeks in the UK. So, we have ‘fortnightly’ too. E.g. “The newsletter is published on a fortnightly basis.”

This is all fascinating I know.

Then when we have ‘monthly’, ‘once a month’, ‘on a monthly basis’ and ‘every month’ and they all mean one time a month, so everyone’s happy there – except when you think about rent, and bills and other monthly bad things.

But when we get to two times a month, things get a bit complicated again. So, ‘twice or two times a month’, ‘every two months’ – they’re fine. But bimonthly has the same problem as biweekly, except that the Brits and Americans are both confused about this one. Everyone’s mixed up about it. According to the Oxford Dictionary website, the publishing industry has agreed that it means ‘twice a month’. Everyone else is confused, so it’s best to just use ‘twice a month’ or ‘every two months’.

Still with me? It’s pretty early in an episode to get so bogged down in a language point but here we are.

And we’re not finished yet. Because there’s ‘years’ now.

So, we have ‘annually’, ‘once a year’, ‘every year’ – and they all mean that the thing happens one time in the year. E.g. “This meeting takes place annually”. ‘Annual’ is the adjective form – “The Annual General Meeting”.  But when two are involved it becomes complex of course.

It’s a bit like ‘bimonthly’. So, ‘biannual’ or ‘biannually’ can mean either twice a year or once every two years.

People are confused about this, so it might be safer to say “twice a year” – or just make sure you only do things once on a yearly basis. Just keep your life simple. Become a monk, it’s easier than dealing with the vocabulary sometimes.

IN fact, there is an answer here according to the Wiktionary and it’s that ‘biannual’ means every two years, and the word ‘biennial’ means twice a year. But so many people confuse these words and don’t even realise that ‘biennial’ exists that it’s a bit useless – if you use it you’ll technically be correct, but people will either not know what it means or they’ll think you sound a bit too clever and pedantic. “Ooh, look at him he’s using the word biennial, isn’t he posh and sophisticated and all intelligent!”

Quick time check: Wow, I’ve already done 11 minutes – and I haven’t even got past the title of the episode! How is that even possible? Where does the time go?

SO, where the hell was I? That’s it – This is the Annual General Meeting which  doesn’t actually take place every year. In fact the last time I did this was 3 years ago so this should be the Triennial General Meeting, which does sound quite ridiculous even if it is correct. In fact, since I’m all about the details in this episode, it seems, I should say that I’ve only done this twice now, and two times is not enough to establish a pattern is it. For all we know the next time I do this could be 4 years from now, and then what?? What will I call that? Something that happens every three years in the first two instances and then every four years after that? I suppose we can just call it a Random General Meeting. What the hell, it’s not even a proper meeting who am I kidding, it’s just another episode of this podcast and I’m just dressing it up like it’s a meeting just for fun so all of this is like some weird made-up problem which could easily be solved by me just shutting my mouth and then opening it again in order to talk about something else, which I am going to do now. Like, the weather.

Ah the weather – we’re on safe ground here. Phew, that was close, we nearly got completely lost down a linguistic and mathematical rabbit hole. That was nearly the perfect storm of language and maths. And when language and maths get together you know it’s going to get complex. Well, I’m glad we got through it now and we’re onto the weather. And, talking of perfect storms, it’s looking very grey and overcast here at this moment. It might start raining at any moment, and there might be thunder.

THat’s one hell of a link there folks. Did you see the way I linked from all that stuff about trienniums and biannual meetings into the weather? That’s why this podcast has won 4 Macmillan Dictionary Awards and was nominated for a British Council ELTon. Quality in a cup, that is.

Quality in a Cup

I don’t know why I said “Quality in a cup then”. Nobody ever says “Quality in a cup”. Especially when talking about podcasts because they don’t come in cups do they? No, not unless you put it in a cup ,but I don;t recommend that, especially if the cup is full of water or coffee, because then you’ve probably put your phone in a cup of coffee and that’s a bad idea.

Alright, keep it simple now.

Anyway, in this episode I’m pretending to have a big meeting like I did in episodes 141 and 142, remember them? I’m having a meeting and you’re all invited, and in the meeting I’m going to go through some agenda items to talk about and I have some questions for you which I want you to answer! OK – so I’ll tell you a few things, and then there will be regular questions for you to answer.

Welcome to the Meeting

Welcome to the meeting. I expect you’ve all got an agenda, it was sent to you by email. Did you get the email? You didn’t get the email? You might want to join the mailing list. Let me just give you an overview first. Remember this meeting is also a feedback session. For every item on the agenda in this meeting I have a question for you and I want your answers, people! So get into the comment section and respond to my questions!

Brace yourself – Episodes are coming 
I’m not sure what they’ll be about at this stage. It depends on how much time I get to prepare them, but there will be some episodes coming quite regularly over the next week or two I expect. Then there will be another quiet period when I go away on holiday with my wife.
Have you checked out all the old episodes in the archive? (That’s more of a rhetorical question than a genuine one to be honest.)

Pokemon Go
This is the craze that’s sweeping the globe. I plan to talk about it more fully on the podcast soon, in a dedicated Pokemon episode. In the meantime, I would like to get your thoughts on this phenomenon of global pop culture.

What do you think of Pokemon Go? What are the good and bad things about this game?

Notting Hill Carnival Video Transcript
Recent episode with no number – there’s a full transcript to the Notting Hill Carnival video so if you didn’t understand something – it’s all there, including all the phrasal verbs and their definitions in a list. Damn, I’m good to you!
Do you ever visit my website, and what do you look for when you are there?
(Looking through my fingers) How would you change it?

Transcript Collaboration
Vasile Şi Diana Vaganov – 2 days ago
Hi friends! I would like to share with you some thoughts about transcribing episodes here on LEP. I’m used to listening to a lot of episodes and I think most of you too, and we enjoy the time – learning with our best teacher – Luke!
Some time ago I started transcribing and at first it was really not comfortable, because it was a new thing that I was doing, and it was really challenging.
After I had finished my first chunk, I was really exhausted but at the same time I felt like I had climbed mount Everest!
I said to myself: “I have done it! I managed to do it!”
If you decide to join, you’ll see that there will be a war inside you to do it or give it up. What I have realized is that now I understand Luke better than before.
While transcribing I have to pay attention to each sound, word and expression and it really makes me understand, feel and remember the English Luke is using.
Contact Antonio ptholome@gmail.com (not hotmail! – sorry)

Do you use my transcripts? How do you use them? Do you have a particular method? How valuable are they to you? If you don’t use them at all, please let me know too.

LEP World Tour
Watch this space. I’m still working this out. The concept is that I’d come to your city and put on a live show of some kind – it could be a stand-up comedy show, a live podcast recording or just some kind of meet-up event. I would need it to take place in a place with a bar, a stage, a microphone, a dedicated room for the event (not in the public part of the bar where people will be trying to just have a normal evening) seating, English-language-friendly staff and it should be open for every LEPster to come to, not an exclusive private space. I imagine that the event would take place in the evening and it should be something that everyone can come to. It would be good if we could do bookings. Imagine a poetry reading in a bar – but a bit bigger, and with LEPsters. Thank you very much if you’ve sent me an email promising to help me to do this. I’ve been in touch with a few people about it already and I am trying to work out how I’d do it and if I could cover my costs at the moment.

Have you ever met other LEPsters? How many people do you think I could get together in a space in your local area?

Hideki Kanasawa – wants to meet other LEPsters in Tokyo.
How are you going to connect? I suggest you look in the forum because I’ve added a forum thread about Hideki’s suggestion.

Hello Luke and everyone! How are you doing?
I hope you are fine.

Recently I came up with an idea.
I want to meet LEPsters!

I’m not sure it’s okay but I want to hold a meeting (maybe just drinking) of LEPsters if I can.
And because I live in Tokyo now, I want to hold it in Tokyo.

Is anyone interested in this idea?
If you are, please contact me.
It will be fun.


Are you interested in meeting up with Hideki in Tokyo?

“Sorry, we’re English”

The show has ended for the summer and possibly forever! It was really cool to meet some LEPsters who came to the show. There was always one or two at each show, which is nice considering I’m in Paris and I don’t have many listeners here. Paul’s one-man show is going from strength to strength as he has now moved into a new venue that seats over 100 people and it’s been sold out the last few weeks. He’s also filming episodes of his TV show which will be on French television in the not too distant future. Amber and I have been helping him to write it, which is cool!

I might start my own show in September, and I’ll be thinking about it. Pros and cons.

I’m always trying to build material for my shows and sometimes I improvise some pretty funny things on the podcast. You might remember certain funny moments.

So, what is a funny moment or episode that you remember from my podcast? Tell me a funny bit that you remember? It could become part of my live comedy show.

LEP Tunes done on KORG Kaossilator S2
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Do you have any music which you would like me to talk about? I know I mentioned this quite some time ago but I might be able to feature your music in a special LEPster-music themed episode soon, with my bro. If you have some music which you’d like us to talk about on the podcast, send it to me at podcastcomp@gmail.com

People selling my content
This podcast is 100% free and it should be free to everybody. If you had to pay to listen to this from anybody other than me (like, who knows I might one day decide to restrict access to my episodes) but if, while I’m offering this free online, you bought this from someone else – perhaps someone who has burned all my episodes onto DVDs and then sold them to you, then you got ripped off. And if anybody is out there are taking my content, packaging it into DVDs and selling it – then you’re a tosser and that’s not okay.

Torrenting sites – loads of my content goes out on torrents too. I guess nobody profits from that and my content is reaching a bigger audience. The problem with that is that I don’t get any indication of who is listening and where they’re listening. All those listeners are hidden from me completely. I don’t know the volume of torrent downloads – I don’t know who is listening or where they are. It could be a lot. Maybe I’m more popular than I think. I don’t know exactly who is out there listening to me via torrent sites, in the dark, like a ninja. It seems I have a whole silent ninja army hiding in the shadows. I wonder who you are and what you’re thinking! So, if you’re making my stuff available on torrent sites, or downloading from torrent sites – just remember about me as the creator of this content.

Did you get my episodes as part of a torrenting site? Do you have any idea how many people might be listening to me that I don’t know about?

A comment from a Vampire
Keithb Brandon • 23 days ago
I’m a vampire and i know you will be surprised to think how i can write articles on this site if am a vampire. I can change any time any day to either human or vampire. Yes it is true. How I become a vampire with the help of the Hindu priest vampirelordtransformerchangings@gmail.com
I will tell you later. I live in north India here we are called Pisach. My life changed from that day when I met a sweet handsome pandit hindu priest. He is also a pisach called vampirelordtransformerchangings@gmail.com
I will not tell you my exact location. But I will tell you how to become a vampire. My English is not so good so excuse me. The Hindu priest learned the procedure from a secret book. This dark art has been revealed by a rich Hindu landowner who find a book from the library of a Danish king and with the help of a vampire lord whose email is vampirelordtransformerchangings@gmail.com If you become vampire you can still be a ordinary man or woman but you will get more power and gain more height, you will become much younger than your mates of same age, you never become bald, you don’t need any sex, you will always get satisfied. But to become a vampire is a very difficult task . if after giving you the procedure, I will no longer be responsible for your nature but you will become lone like me. i was so much amazed at first when i contacted vampirelordtransformerchangings@gmail.com At first i become very scared and afraid to offer the sacrifice to them just to be a full blooded vampire but i later changed my mind and strong in spirit and i did what was needed and now am not just an ordinary vampire but a powerful and famous type too, i have powers and many doos, no human life needed for you to be a full blooded vampire just get what they want from you and i promise you that you will be so glad and happy being among the clan vampires if you are being interested becoming a vampire like me then contact the Hindu priest on these email vampirelordtransformerchangings@gmail.com if you also want to know more about it then email me asap on my email to help you with information to become a full blooded vampire keithbrandon@gmail.com or keithbrandon@outlook.com good lucks.

Are you a vampire? What’s it like? Would you like to be a vampire? What did you think of the Twilight movies? Have you listened to my episode about Vampires? It’s episode 6 – EPISODE 6! Check it out in the archive.

Click here to listen to episode 6 – Vampires!

Join the mailing list at the top of the page

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Check out my YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/LukesEnglishPodcast

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Good luck(s)

299. The Bank Robbery (Part 2) with Amber, Paul & Sebastian

Welcome back to this special double episode in which we are planning a bank robbery as part of a communication game. I strongly recommend that you listen to the previous episode because it will help to make this one much easier to understand. In part 1 I explained the rules of this communication game, which involves a team coming up with a plan to rob a bank. I gave you all the key information which the team has to share, I clarified some useful language that you’ll hear and then we listened to the first part of the bank robbery meeting, with our team of Amber, Paul and Sebastian. In this episode you’re going to hear the rest of the meeting, and then we’ll find out exactly what happens to them, and the full solution to the whole puzzle.

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To read all the key information for this bank robbery, go back to episode 298. You can read all the important details there.

Below you can read about the different outcomes of each possible plan, including which plans will get you the most money, and which plans will result in you being caught or killed.

The purpose of these bank robbery episodes is to highlight certain key language for problem solving in meetings, and to enjoy simulating a big bank heist, like in the movies!

When the group have finished planning, and presenting their plans, use this information to find out what will happen as a result of the plan.

Which day?
Monday – The gold will not have been delivered yet! You will get no gold and no diamonds on Monday. Just the cash (£20,000)
Tuesday – If you rob the bank after 11.10AM then you’ll be able to get the gold and cash but not the diamonds.
Wednesday – The diamonds will not be delivered until the evening so robbing the bank on Wednesday means you’ll only get gold and cash, and no diamonds.
Thursday – This is the best day to steal the gold, cash and diamonds.
Friday – This is a bad day because the extra security guards will delay your exit and you’ll be caught in a fire-fight. You’ll either be arrested or killed if you rob the bank on Friday. If you have The Shooter, you won’t be killed (because he’ll kill the cops), but you will be arrested.
Saturday & Sunday – The bank is closed so you can’t go in the front door.

If you choose to enter by tunnel you must rent the shop on Monday and start digging with The Tunnel Expert on Tuesday. Then you can take the gold from the vault on Sunday 8th and escape before anyone notices anything. However, you will only be able to keep the gold. The cash and diamonds won’t be there any more. So, just £100,000,000 – half the money.

What time?
In the morning – Robbing the bank in the morning will delay the cops by an extra five minutes (because of traffic and donuts) so you’ll be able to leave before they arrive. However, you will find it too hard to escape by car because of bad traffic and eventually you’ll be caught.

In the afternoon – The police will arrive in 15 minutes, and your robbery will take 15 minutes so you will meet the police as you leave the bank. If you have guns you’ll be able to provide covering fire to help you escape. If you have The Shooter he will shoot some police and allow you to escape. If you have The Driver you will be able to escape. However, in the afternoon witnesses will see the car chase and will report your number plate to the police. You will be caught eventually.

In the dark (between 6PM and 8PM) – This is the best time to do the robbery. It will take the police 15 minutes to respond. Your robbery will last 15 minutes and you’ll meet the police as you leave the bank. If you have guns you’ll be able to provide covering fire to help you escape. If you have The Shooter he will kill some police officers and help you escape. If you have the inside man he will delay the alarm and the cops by an extra 5 minutes and you don’t need to have a gun fight at all. If you have The Driver he will help you escape the police and get to the safehouse, and it’ll be too dark for witnesses to see your number plate.

 Who to take:
The Shooter – If you have chosen to enter the bank by the front door he can help you to escape the bank if the cops arrive as you are leaving. However he will probably kill police officers and possibly some hostages too, and you want to avoid unnecessary killings. If you are caught eventually, your prison sentence will be far more severe.

The Inside Man – You need him to find the correct entry point in the vault for the tunnel. Without the Inside Man your tunnel will not find the vault and you won’t get any of the money. Also, if you enter by the front door he will delay the alarm and the police by an extra 5 minutes. This means you don’t need to have a gun fight and no killing will be necessary.

The Driver – If you choose to enter the bank by the front door you will definitely need the driver to escape from the cops by car. If you raid the bank by front door without The Driver you will be caught or shot. If you have The Shooter and The Driver – you’ll definitely be shot. It’ll be a bloodbath.

The Safe Cracker – He is unnecessary as you can either dig into the vault or persuade a member of staff to let you in. You don’t need The Safe Cracker and you will fail if you pick him (because the other people are more useful)

Jimmy The Informant – Don’t trust Jimmy The Informant. He’s made a deal with the police to keep him out of prison. He will tell you nothing useful about the police. In fact, he will just tell the police everything about your plans. The police will already be there, undercover, and you’ll be either arrested or killed.

The Tunnel Expert – You need his skills and expertise if you plan to enter the bank by tunnel. If you tunnel into the bank without him it will take 7 days and that is too late.

How to enter the bank
By the front door – You will need to employ The Driver and either The Inside Man or The Shooter to help you deal with the police when you leave. If you enter by the front door without The Driver and one of the other guys then you will fail.

By tunnel – You’ll need to rent the shop on Monday so you can start digging on Tuesday. You must bribe the shop owner so he doesn’t tell the police your real name (so, deduct £5m). You need The Inside Man to tell you how to find the vault. You need The Tunnel Expert to dig the tunnel in 5 days. If you start digging on Tuesday then you can enter the vault on Sunday and take the gold without anyone noticing. However, if you do this you’ll only take the gold and no diamonds or cash. Total amount: £95m in gold.

Masks or no masks?
With masks – The staff will immediately realise it is a robbery. Then they will raise the alarm. You’ll have 15 minutes before the police arrive. That is enough time, especially if you use The Inside Man to delay the alarm.

Without masks – Your face will be captured by the CCTV cameras and you will eventually be caught by the police, even years later.

You don’t need masks if you choose to enter by tunnel.

Guns or no guns?
Guns – You can use them to persuade a staff member to open the vault, so you don’t need The Safe Cracker. Using guns will make the punishment more serious, but who cares!

No guns – This will reduce your prison sentence if you get caught. You will need The Safe Cracker to get into the vault because you won’t be able to persuade someone to do it for you in time. You won’t be able to fight the police and escape. You will need guns for this robbery. You should definitely take some guns. Without guns you will fail the robbery.

How will you enter the vault?
If you have chosen guns then you can persuade someone to let you into the vault. If you are tunnelling, then you need The Inside Man to help you find the location of the vault.

What will you steal?
This depends when and how you plan to enter the bank. The best option is to steal all the gold, cash and diamonds but you can only do this on Thursday after 6PM by entering through the front door (see Thursday above). If you tunnel in and arrive on Sunday you can only steal the gold.

The BEST plan
Rob the bank on Thursday between 6-8pm when it is dark. Wear masks and carry guns. The Inside Man will delay the alarm, delaying the cops by 5 key minutes. You can use a gun to persuade someone to open the vault. You can get the gold, cash and diamonds into the van in 15 minutes and drive away without being spotted at all. The police will arrive 5 minutes late because of the delayed alarm. The police will have no idea who robbed the bank, you will not have to kill anyone and you can get maximum money this way.
People: The Driver and The Inside Man

Another good plan: Rent the shop on Monday. Bribe the shop owner and give a fake name for the rental records. Start digging on Tuesday. The Inside Man will tell you where to dig the tunnel. The Tunnel Expert will help you to dig it properly. Finish digging on Sunday. Move the gold out of the vault before Monday morning. Take the gold to the shop through the tunnel. Drive the van to the safehouse. No one will ever know who did it. …however, there is a weak link here – the shop owner. He has to pretend that he had no idea about the plan, and he has to be very discreet about the money. If the police threaten him, he might give in under pressure and describe your appearances.
People: The Inside man and The Tunnel Expert.

The Plan Chosen by Amber, Paul and Sebastian
Go in with masks but no guns, on Thursday evening at 6.30. The alarm goes off. The police are on their way. Use the safe cracker to open the vault in 2 minutes. Fill your bags with gold, cash and diamonds, in 10 minutes. You’re out and in the car about 3 minutes before the police arrive. You manage to escape with all the money! It’s a bit risky because it’s a bit tight because you’re leaving just 3 minutes of escape time, but with the getaway driver you can do it because there isn’t too much traffic on the streets, due to the big international football game between England and France, which is on the TV.
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298. The Bank Robbery (Part 1)

Hello listeners, welcome to Luke’s English Podcast. In this episode we’re going to plan a bank robbery. Not a real one – if any police are listening to this I should say it’s just a simulation, I’m not actually going to rob a bank, so relax… eat another donut. This is the bank robbery episode and I hope that it involve the usual magic ingredients of a good episode of LEP – authentic spoken English, native speakers communicating naturally, presentation of some specific language in context, the voices of some of my friends, a sense of fun and imagination. That’s the idea anyway. I hope that you will stay engaged throughout the episode. I suggest that you imagine what you would say and do if you were there in the room with us. As ever, you can leave your comments on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk

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Basically, in this episode you’re going to hear a group of my friends do a communication game in which they have to plan a bank robbery. We’ll listen to the whole meeting, hear their plan come together and then find out what happens in their version of the robbery. We’ll also consider some of the language used in the planning process. If it makes it more exciting, let me tell you that the stakes are very high in this episode – the team could get away with about £200 million in gold, cash and diamonds, or die trying.

What’s going to happen? How will the team organise the perfect bank heist? What language will emerge during the process? Will the team survive and escape with the money, or will they get caught red handed by the police in a dramatic shootout situation.? Listen, and you’ll find out… because this, is the bank robbery episode…

What is “The Bank Robbery”?
Sometimes in my classes at school, I give my students big communication tasks. These are like team building exercises which test the communicative competence of the group.

This episode is based on one of the games that I created, called “The Bank Robbery”.
The game is all about sharing information and working together as a group to come up with the right plan. It’s all about successful communication. If the team members share the information well, they’re more likely to plan a successful robbery. If they don’t communicate properly, they’ll probably miss some vital details, and they’ll get arrested or even worse, killed by the police.

Of course no one actually gets killed, it’s just a simulation. But if it helps to bring more drama to this episode – then yes you can imagine that there is real money involved, and real cops and real guns and bullets and all that kind of stuff.
The bank robbery game gives students the chance to practise speaking in a scenario that’s like a typical business meeting but with a fun twist. They can also get some feedback on their communication skills.
I find it fascinating to see how students deal with this game, especially from a language point of view, but also from a behavioural point of view, and I’ve always wondered how a group of native speakers would handle it.
And that’s what you’re going to get in this episode.

Here’s what’s going to happen
You’ll hear me explain the scenario of the game, I’ll go through some specific language that you might hear them use, then you’ll listen to them plan the robbery, and then they’ll present their plan. After that, based on their plan I will tell them exactly what happens in their robbery – we’ll see if they manage to get away with any money, or if the whole thing goes horribly wrong and they end up in jail or worse – in a body bag!
So, Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s meet the team…

The Team
Who is this team that I have assembled?
We have none other than: Paul Taylor (Daniel Radcliffe, or Tom Hardy), Amber Minogue (played by Audrey Tatou, or Anne Hathaway perhaps) , and Sebastian Marx (Woody Allen, or maybe Ryan Gosling).
Thank you for coming to this meeting. I have brought you together today because you have a very specific set of skills… skills that allow you to communicate effectively in English… skills that could be utilised in order to plan something as a group, like a buffet dinner bank robbery for example…. skills that I take a keen interest in, as a teacher of English as a foreign language… and skills that my listeners (the lepsters) enjoy observing through their ears via the medium of Luke’s English Podcast, which has won a number of awards for being the best blog for learners of English even though it’s not a blog it’s a podcast. OK?
Basically, what I’m getting at is that I’ve brought you all together this afternoon in order to record you doing a communication exercise because I think it will be really interesting for my listeners to hear. OK? I might be wrong, it could be dull as hell, and that kind of depends on you, but let’s see…
You are going to do an exercise in which you have to work together as a team in order to achieve a shared objective. Your success in the task depends on your management of information and effective communication between each other.
The stakes are particularly high in this simulation because you are going to organise a bank robbery. If you succeed you could escape with millions of pounds in gold, cash and diamonds. Sounds nice doesn’t it?
If you fail you could spend the rest of your life in jail, or be killed or badly wounded by police. It all depends on how well you and your team plan the robbery.

The situation
You are a gang of specialist bank robbers – think Oceans 11, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, that kind of thing. You have identified a small bank in West London (not as glamourous as Las Vegas, but anyway…) a bank which you know is about to receive a delivery of £100m in gold bullion. The bank also has cash reserves of £20m in its vault. There may also be some diamonds in the bank which you could take as well. Why not, if there are diamonds too, take the diamonds.
So you could make upwards of £120 million – £40m each – not to be sniffed at.
Anyway, the bank is situated on a street corner. It has one main entrance (that’s a glass double door) and a smaller secutiry entrance on the side (that’s a solid, protected security door). It’s quite a small bank with a main room for doing business with customers, and a small back office on the ground floor, and a medium sized vault in the basement. The money (gold, cash, diamonds) is kept in the vault, which is protected by a solid locked door. Imagine a solid metal door with a huge lock on it.
You 3 are the core members of the team, but you can’t do this alone. You’ll need some assistance – especially from people with very special skills, specific to organised theft like this. Luckily you have a few connections in the criminal underworld. You can choose a maximum of 2 other specialists to help you.

Here’s a list of the other gang members you could employ. You’ll get more information about them during the game.
The Driver
The Shooter
The Inside Man
The Safe Cracker
The Tunnel Expert
Jimmy The Informant

You (the team) are going to plan to steal that money.

Have a meeting to decide these points
• VALUABLES – What exactly is available and what will you steal?
• DAY – The day on which you will do the robbery
• TIME – The time of the robbery
• GANG MEMBERS – Which two extra gang members you will employ for the job (you can employ two other people)
• ENTRANCE – How you will enter the bank
• MASKS – Will you wear masks or not?
• GUNS – Will you use guns or not?
• VAULT – How will you get into the vault?

Today is Saturday 1 October
You’re planning to rob the bank next week – that’s the week starting on Monday, because that’s when the gold and other money will be in the bank. You’ve left it a bit late to be honest.

But you’ve all spent quite a lot of time watching the bank, and collecting information to help you plan the perfect crime.
(I’ve written this information on small pieces of paper and I’ll deal it out to you all randomly, in a minute)
You will need to share the information in order to pool your knowledge. Please don’t let each other read the info you have. You’ll have to do it all by spoken communication.

When you are ready, present your plan to Luke (that’s me) and the listeners (Lepsters). Then I will tell you the final result of your bank robbery. We’ll find out what happens in the robbery, based on your plan.

There are a few different ways to complete the task and steal the money, but only one of those approaches will allow you to get away with the most money possible. Some options will get you arrested, some options will get you killed. Some options will allow you to escape with only some of the money. Only one option (I think) will allow you all to escape with the maximum amount of money, with no loss of life or jail time. (Which is at least £120,000,000 – 30m each)

I am the gamesmaster – I’m just going to sit back and let you get on with it. I might give you bits of guidance and advice at times. I’m like Obiwan Kenobi or something. “Paul… use the crow-bar Paul…” that kind of thing.

You can ask me questions if you want – I might help, or I might be a bit mysterious and say something like “That is a question which only the sands of time may reveal” or “Sorry, I can’t answer that”.

OK, is everything clear? Do you have any questions at this point?

Key Information
While the team are reading the information I’ve just handed out to them, I’d like to talk to you about a few things, to help you follow the meeting more easily.

So, the team is looking at various key information which is on small pieces of paper. The information relates to these things:
• Info about the money – What exactly is available, and when it’s available. There is only one particular period next week when the gold, cash and diamonds are in the bank at the same time.
• Info about the DAY & TIME – when the bank is open, when the money is in the bank, and other information about the best time and day to do the robbery, including things like traffic, extra security in the bank and hours of daylight.
• GANG MEMBERS – Info about the 5 other team members they could employ for the robbery. They can pick two. Certain gang members are crucial for the robbery. Other gang members will cause your robbery to go horribly wrong.
• ENTRANCE – Different ways to enter the bank and get into the vault. Basically, it’s either through the front door, through a side door when the gold is delivered, or through an underground tunnel directly into the vault.
• MASKS – Will you wear masks or not? With masks on, the team’s identities will be protected from CCTV, but everyone will instantly know it’s a robbery.
• GUNS – Will you use guns or not? Guns will allow the team to persuade the bank staff to do things, but could be dangerous.

I’m now going to read to you all the information they have in their hands. Then you’ll know everything they know, and it should help you to follow their meeting more easily.

Also, it might allow you to work out your own plan. BTW, all this information is on the page for this episode at teacherluke.co.uk

So now, listen to all the relevant information. I’ll try to make it clear for you. Listen carefully and try to make your own plan. Think about the best day and time.

Here is all the info which the team members have on small pieces of paper.
You can also download this information as a Word document, which you can then print and then cut up. Click the link below to download the Word doc. (Thanks to Zdenek Lukas for preparing the doc)

  • The bank will receive the gold bullion at 11AM on Tuesday 4 October.
  • The gold will be removed from the vault on Monday 10 October at 8AM.
  • When gold is delivered at the bank, two security guards always take it through a back door and down the stairs into the vault. This takes 5 minutes.
  • The gold is easiest to steal when the security guards are taking it from the van to the vault.
  • The gold and cash are fitted with anti-theft devices such as paint and a tracking device.
  • These are removed when the money has been safely delivered into the vault.
  • The £20m in cash will be removed from the vault on Friday evening.
  • You have just discovered that the vault will also contain £80m of diamonds next week! They arrive on Wednesday evening but they will be removed on the evening of Friday 7 October.
  • It takes approximately 10 minutes to fill your bags with gold, cash and any other valuables.
  • The bank is open from 8AM to 8PM, Monday to Friday. The bank is closed on Saturday and Sunday.
  • When the bank is closed the doors are very securely sealed and protected. It is impossible to break in when the bank is closed.
  • The side door of the bank is reinforced and cannot be opened from the outside.
  • The bank is unstaffed at night. Nobody is in the bank after 8pm.
  • The sun goes down at 6PM. The sun comes up at 6AM.
  • A robbery in the morning will be more of a surprise, and the police tend to be slower in the morning as they are usually eating donuts and drinking coffee.
  • You are much more likely to be identified by witnesses during daylight hours.
  • A robbery in the dark is more likely to be a success because the roads are quieter. It will be easier to escape by car in the dark.
  • There is less traffic on the street at night.
  • No-one goes into the bank at the weekend. After leaving the bank on Friday evening, the next member of staff to come back is the security guard. He arrives on Monday morning at 7AM.
  • Friday is the busiest day in the bank. The bank employs two extra security guards armed with Remington shotguns on this day. They stay in the bank from 8AM to 8PM.
    You will find it very difficult to get away from the bank quickly in the morning because of bad traffic.
  • You can enter the bank by the front door but you will appear on the CCTV cameras in the front entrance.
  • When the bank alarm is set off, the police are automatically called. They will take approximately 15 minutes to arrive at the bank.
  • The police will take an extra 5 minutes to arrive at the bank in the morning, because of busy traffic and because they’ll be eating donuts and drinking coffee in a local diner.
  • It will take approximately 5 minutes to persuade a staff member to open the vault for you.
  • If you have guns you will quickly be able to persuade the staff to open the vault for you.
  • Robbery with guns is more serious than robbery without guns, and therefore carries a much stricter prison sentence. Also, the police are more likely to open fire on you if you are armed.
  • You can use masks to hide your identity. They will prevent you from being identified during the robbery, but if you enter the bank wearing masks, the staff and customers will immediately know it is a robbery and the alarm will be set off.
  • There is a disused shop opposite the bank. The shop has a basement with an earthen floor, and vacant space for soil in the yard. The shop is available for rental.
  • It will take 5 full days and 5 full nights to dig a tunnel from the shop to the bank vault.
  • It will take 24 hours to arrange rental of the shop opposite the bank. The rental office is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
  • To rent the shop opposite the bank you need to provide your name, ID number and address. The shop owner might accept a fake name if you bribe him with at least £5m.
  • The Driver is an excellent getaway driver. He is a professional stunt driver and he can escape from anyone, traffic permitting.
  • The Shooter is an expert with a shotgun. His speciality is crowd control and hostage situations. He has just spent 10 years in prison after his last bank job went wrong. He absolutely hates the police, because they killed his brother.
  • The Safe-Cracker can open any lock in just 2 minutes.
    The Inside Man works in the bank as a clerk. He knows about everything that goes on inside the bank. He can delay the alarm by 5 minutes. Also, he can give you blueprints of the vault.
  • His knowledge of the vault is essential if you plan to tunnel in. You need him to tell you where to enter the vault by tunnel.
  • Jimmy the Informant has a close relationship with the police and for the right price he will tell you everything that the police know about your bank job. He wants £10m for this information. He is not particularly loyal to anyone – either you, or the cops.
  • The Tunnel Expert is brilliant at digging tunnels. Without him it will take you 7 days and 7 nights to dig the tunnel, and even then it might not reach the bank vault correctly.

Now you know all the information they have, so in fact, you know more than the team as a whole now.

Perhaps you have some ideas about a plan of your own. If you were paying attention and you’re clever, you could work out the best plan already.

In a moment, you’ll listen to them sharing the information and they’ll start building their plan.

Before we listen to that I’d like to bring your attention to some language you’re going to hear.

Here are some things you will hear. Watch out for these things.

Essentially, you’ll hear them
– sharing information – giving info and asking for info
– evaluating that information and making conclusions,
– rejecting irrelevant information,
– making suggestions,
– interrupting each other,
– agreeing

Summarising and Rephrasing
This shows that you’re listening, that you’ve understood, clarifies and establishes the information which has been presented.
You summarise your point (intro), give details, then summarise it again (conclusion).
E.g. “I think tunnelling in is not such a good idea, because if we tunnel in we can only get half the money. So tunnelling is not an option.”
Summarise what the other person said. Rephrase to show you understand.

Giving information – Signpost the point you’re making
Can I just say one thing about time? It fits in.
Timing-wise, the 20m in cash will be removed …
So, speaking of Remingtons…
More things regarding time here…

Ask for information
What have you got?
What else have you got in terms of timing?
Is that all you’ve got for timing?
Do we know when the bank is open?
Who are the other people that could help us?
When’s the gold going to be delivered?

Making Conclusions
So, we can’t do it on Monday. (“So” is a word that signposts that you’re making a conclusion)
So, this means, we have to do it on Thursday.
Tunnelling isn’t really an option.
Thursday seems like a good spot right now.
It seems like it’s closed at the weekend.
Wednesday doesn’t seem to be a good day.

Clarifying, or when you don’t hear something
Sorry, 8AM to…?
Sorry, I missed what you just said.
Let me say that again.

Magic Words
Sorry – interrupt or repeat
Hold on – make someone wait
So – make a conclusion
Seems – for facts that look true but you’re not sure

Rejecting Information
We can disregard this because it doesn’t matter.

Make suggestions
I wonder if we should do this…
Shall we say no guns?
Let’s think about how we can get in the back door.
I would say after 6pm is best.

Conditionals – 0, 1st & 2nd
0 conditionals – the speakers think they’re absolute facts – definitely will happen.
“So if we do it on Monday the gold is gone.”
“If we want to get everything, we can’t tunnel in.”
“If we tunnel, we can get some stuff, but we’re aiming for all of it.”
“If we go in with masks, everyone knows right away.”
“If we have the safe cracker we don’t need to persuade anyone.”
1 conditionals – the speakers think they’re realistic – will probably happen.
“If you go in with masks, they’ll know.”
2 conditionals – the speakers think they’re unlikely – just hypothetical things.
“The inside man would save us more time…”

I hope you can keep up with all of that.

Let’s now listen to the rest of the meeting. How do native speakers manage information in a meeting? Also, will they come up with the right plan?

Here we go…

bank map

What do you think is the best plan?
Please leave your comments below. :)
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Image: http://therealasset.co.uk/gold-robberies/