Tag Archives: native speakers

494. Who Wants to be Good at English? (The Rematch) with Rick Thompson

Testing my Dad on his knowledge of English, using words that are frequently confused by native English speakers. Will my dad be able to identify the words, spell them and explain the differences? Listen to learn 20 words and phrases which native English speakers often get wrong. You will also hear Dad and me discussing topics such as catching a squirrel, what he would say to Donald Trump and Paul McCartney if he met them, stories of police drug busts at university, how my dad would deal with a zombie apocalypse, and which one is worse – Brexit or Yoko Ono’s ‘singing’? Vocabulary list with definitions and examples available.

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Introduction Transcript

About 18 months ago my Dad tested me with his evil gameshow, called “Who wants to be good at English”. I say it was an evil gameshow because I think it was designed for me to fail (although arguably, I didn’t fail, OK!?) It was basically a quiz he created in order to highlight some common mistakes that people make (especially journalists) with certain English words.

You can listen to that, and take the test as well, by finding episode 373 in the archive – or just click here teacherluke.co.uk/2016/08/10/373-who-wants-to-be-good-at-english/

So I thought we’d play another game of “Who Wants to be Good at English” but this time I’m asking the questions. My questions are based on an article I found on the Indy100 (an online magazine) written by Paul Anthony Jones  which is all about some of the most commonly confused words in English (for native English speakers). Apparently these are some of the words that many English native speakers confuse – meaning they use one word when they should be using another. I wonder if my Dad is able to tell the difference between all of these pairs of words. Let’s see if he really is that clever and articulate. I think he probably is, but let’s see.

As we are playing the game I invite you to join in. Can you guess which words we’re talking about here?

If you don’t know the words, listen carefully because we will define them and then also have a little chat using the words so you can hear them in context.

Also, you’ll hear us talking a little bit about the origin of some of these words, which is quite interesting because it shows how many English words come from latin and in some cases words from other origins like old English and even Turkish.

Check the page for the episode on the website too, where you will see all the words listed with definitions.

www.indy100.com/article/ten-of-the-most-commonly-confused-words-in-the-english-language–bJRDKGNwlZ


  • Dad, how are you?
  • Are you confident that you know English better than most other Brits?
  • Did you study latin at school?
  • Does a knowledge of latin help with English?
  • Do you think it will help you in this test?

10 rounds – 10 pairs of words which are commonly confused.

I will ask you questions – you have to tell me the word I am looking for. I will also ask you for the spelling and pronunciation.

ROUND 1

  1. If you’re waiting for something with great anticipation, literally to the point that you are having some trouble breathing – for example you’re desperately waiting for the next episode of Luke’s English Podcast – what expression would you use?
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. If you go fishing, what do you need in order to catch a fish?
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. How are they pronounced?

Answers:

Bate (verb) = abate = become less strong, to suppress. Formal, old fashioned.
The storms had abated by the time they rounded Cape Horn. [VERB]
…a crime wave that shows no sign of abating. [VERB]
To wait with bated breath = to wait eagerly and impatiently

Bait = (noun) – food you put on the end of a fishing line or in a trap in order to catch something

Also – figuratively something which is used in order to catch someone. E.g. ‘clickbait’

(verb) – to put food on a line or in a trap

(verb) If you bait someone, you deliberately try to make them angry by teasing them.

He delighted in baiting his mother. [VERB noun]

Synonyms: tease, provoke, annoy, irritate

According to Oxford Dictionaries, around 1 in every 3 records of the phrase “bated breath” in the Oxford Corpus is spelled incorrectly, as “baited.”
Baited with an I is the same bait that you use when going fishing.
Bated without an I is totally unrelated, and comes from an ancient English word, bate, meaning “to beat down,” “restrain” or “suppress” – it’s the same word we use when we say that a storm has abated – which makes “bated breath” literally “held breath.” (Indy100.com)

Quick Discussion Questions

  • Are you currently waiting for anything with bated breath?
  • What is the best way to catch a squirrel? How about a crab? What kind of bait should you use?

ROUND 2

  1. If you see someone that you don’t want to meet or talk to – perhaps a person who you don’t like, or imagine a drunk man in the street who might bother you or even attack you. You’d walk around him, putting space between you and him. What would you give him?
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. What word is this often confused with? It’s something that generally happens at the beginning of someone’s life.
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. How are they pronounced?

Answers:

Berth (noun) = (nautical term) originally means “sea room” – the room that a boat needs for mooring, but also generally room or space for ships. So, to give a wide berth in terms of shipping – you can imagine needing to go around a rocky point or perhaps another ship with lots of space, to avoid any possible collision.

Give something a wide berth = avoid it, go around it, put distance between you and it.

Birth / Give birth (to someone) = have a baby

Quick Discussion Questions

  • If you saw these people in the street, would you give them a wide berth or would you go up to them?
    • Donald Trump
    • Harvey Weinstein
    • Kim Jong Un
    • Madonna
    • Boris Johnson
    • Paul McCartney
  • Were you there when Mum gave birth to me? What was it like for you?

ROUND 3

  1. What word is a synonym of advice – for example legal advice? It can also be a verb, meaning to give advice. (also another noun – it can mean the lawyer too)
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. What about a group of people brought together to make decisions? E.g. a local administrative group who make decisions about how the local town should be run.
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. How are they pronounced?

Answers:

counsel (noun) = advice
[formal]
He had always been able to count on her wise counsel.
The community requested his counsel on various matters.

counsel (noun – person) = a lawyer
The defence counsel warned that the judge should stop the trial.

counsel (verb) – to give advice

[formal]
If you counsel someone to take a course of action, or if you counsel a course of action, you advise that course of action. 
My advisers counselled me to do nothing. [VERB noun to-infinitive]
The prime minister was right to counsel caution about military intervention.

Council and counsel can both be used as nouns (in the sense of “an assembly of people” and “good advice or direction”) but only counsel with an SE can be used as a verb (“to give advice or direction”).

Both are derived ultimately from Latin, but while council comes from the Latin word calare, meaning “to call or proclaim officially” (which makes it an etymological cousin of calendar), counsel with an S comes from the same root as consult. So while a council is “called” together, you might “consult” someone for their good counsel. (Indy100.com)

Quick Discussion Questions

  • Have you ever needed to take legal counsel for anything work related?
  • Have you ever been asked to provide counsel on any local matters?
  • Is there a local council where you live?

ROUND 4

  1. As a teacher, sometimes it’s necessary to draw out certain language from my students. Often if I’m teaching some words, or doing an introduction, rather than just lecturing them about a subject, it’s a good idea to get them to give me certain words – it tends to keep the students involved and makes them a bit more productive, and it also allows you to see which words they know and don’t know. What verb means to get a piece of information, a word or a reaction from people by asking certain questions?
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. What adjective is a synonym of ‘illegal’ and means ‘not allowed or approved by a rule’.
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. How are they pronounced?

Answers:

Elicit (verb)
Illicit (adjective)

The E of elicit is the prefix ex–, which is here used to form a word bearing some sense of “out” or “from”, like exhale and exterior. The –licit in both words is also entirely unrelated: in illicit it comes from the Latin verb licere, meaning “to allow” (as in licence), whereas in elicit it derives from the Latin lacere, meaning “to lure” (which is also where the word delicious comes from). (indy100.com)

Quick Discussion Questions

  • When you were growing up in the 60s, were you ever given information about illicit drugs? Did many people use illicit substances at that time?
  • The Shakespeare play “Macbeth” – what feelings do you think it elicits in its audience? What’s the main feeling that it elicits?
  • How about films. How do they elicit reactions from the audience? Think of a horror film for example.

ROUND 5

  1. What is the difference between the word ‘affect’ (with an ‘a’) and ‘effect’ (with an ‘e’)?
  2. How are they pronounced?

Answers:

Affect (verb)
Effect (noun)

The root of both is the Latin facere, meaning “to make”, but while the E of effect comes from the same prefix as elicit, ex–, the A of affect comes from the prefix ad–, which is used to form words bearing some sense of “towards”, “on” or “a coming together” like adjoin or ashore. To affect ultimately means to have an effect on something, while an effect is an outcome. (indy100.com)

Quick Discussion Questions

  • How does wine affect you? Does it affect you in the same was as it affects other people?
  • What are the good and bad effects of wine?

ROUND 6

  1. How would you describe someone whose hair is going grey, making them look quite cool and perhaps even quite tough. It’s the sort of word you might use to describe a police detective or a cowboy who is getting older and has had some tough experiences, which you can see in his greying hair – but he’s not really old yet, just experienced.
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. What’s another word for a brown bear? They type of bear you might come across in Yellowstone National Park in the USA. They’re brown but they have some grey-ish hair around the shoulders, head and ears.
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. What adjective would you use to describe the disgusting or explicit details of a murder. Something which is very unpleasant and that would be horrible to look at.
  6. How do you spell that?

Answers:

Grizzled (adj) = going grey (usually used in a literary context)
Grizzly (adj) = also going grey, like ‘grizzled’ but usually ‘grizzly’ is just the word for a type of brown bear
Grisly (adj) = extremely unpleasant and horrible

If something is horrible to look at then it’s grisly, not grizzly. Grizzly with two Zs is a descendent of the French word for “grey”, gris, and comes from the older use of grizzled to mean “grey-haired” (despite grizzly being another name for a brown bear, of course).
Grisly with an S is a descendent of grise, a Middle English word meaning “to shudder with fear”. (Indy100.com)

  • What kind of movie star would you rather watch in a film – a fresh faced young-looking hero or a grizzled hero? Can you think of any examples?
  • Have you ever seen a grizzly bear?
  • Do you think the news should report all the grisly details of a story?

ROUND 7

  1. Imagine there’s going to be a zombie apocalypse. It’s a terrifying thought. It would be a good idea to collect and store lots of food, drink and supplies. To stockpile things, and hide them so that nobody else can find and use them, but you’ll be able to keep them and survive. What verb am I thinking of?
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. Now imagine loads of zombies in a huge group, or in fact many large groups of zombies surrounding your house or out in the street. What noun could you use to describe these groups of the undead. Of course this word could also be used to describe groups of ordinary people too, but it sounds a bit negative – frightening or unpleasant, perhaps.
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. Pronunciation?

Answers:

To hoard something (verb) = If you hoard things such as food or money, you save or store them, often in secret, because they are valuable or important to you.
They’ve begun to hoard food and gasoline and save their money. [VERB noun]
The tea was sweetened with a hoarded tin of condensed milk. [VERB-ed]

A horde of something (noun) = a large group of people, usually considered quite threatening or scary.

This attracts hordes of tourists to Las Vegas. [+ of]
…a horde of people was screaming for tickets.

Around a quarter of all the citations of the word hoard (a noun meaning a store of valuables, or a verb meaning “to accumulate” or “stockpile”) in the Oxford English Corpus are incorrect, and should really be horde (a large group of people).
In English, hoard is the older of the two and derives from an Old English word for treasure – wordhoard was an Old English word for a person’s vocabulary. Horde is completely unrelated, and has an E on the end of it because it comes from an old Turkish word, ordu, for an encampment. (Indy100.com)

Quick Discussion Questions

  • What would you do if you found out that there would be a zombie outbreak? What kinds of things would you hoard?
  • What would you do if your house was surrounded by a horde of zombies?

ROUND 8

  1. Imagine a road which is full of twists and turns. How would you describe it? How about a piece of writing or perhaps a process which is really complicated and time consuming. Which word would you use to describe those things?
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. Which adjective could you use to describe something that causes great pain and suffering?
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. Pronunciation?

Answers:

Tortuous = twisting and turning (road), complex and time consuming (process, writing)
The only road access is a tortuous mountain route.
…these long and tortuous negotiations aimed at ending the conflict.
The parties must now go through the tortuous process of picking their candidates.
Torturous = like torture – very painful and agonising.
This is a torturous, agonizing way to kill someone.

Confusion often arises between these two not only because of their similar spellings, but because something that’s tortuous can often seem torturous.
Tortuous without the extra R means “full of twists and turns”, and is derived from a Latin word, tortus, for a twist, or a twisting, winding route. If something is torturous then it’s akin to torture, hence the extra R. (Indy100.com)

Quick Discussion Questions

  • Would you like to be involved in the Brexit negotiations? Why not?
  • You wrote a book once. How was that experience? Was it tortuous? (complicated) Was it torturous? (painful)
  • How would you describe Yoko Ono’s singing?
  • What about the experience of having your teeth pulled out, by Yoko Ono, while she’s singing? (Torturous, right?)


ROUND 9

  1. Imagine your wife is pregnant (I know!) and you go to a doctor for a scan. You and your wife are very worried about the health of the baby because a previous test suggested that there might be a problem. So, you’re both feeling very worried and nervous, and you really want the doctor to put your worries at rest, but the doctor seems completely insensitive to this and doesn’t even seem to realise that you’re worried. You think, is he being deliberately like this? This word means slow to understand something and also insensitive.
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. How would you describe something that was really complex to understand, abstract, deep, highly intellectual. E.g. a book about abstract existential philosophy, or the rules of cricket.
  4. How do you spell that?
  5. Pronunciation?

Answers:

Obtuse (adj) = mentally slow or emotionally insensitive
“How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?”
Abstruse (adj) = hard to understand because of being extremely complex, intellectually demanding, highly abstract, etc.; deep; recondite
[formal disapproval…fruitless discussions about abstruse resolutions.

How can you be so obtuse? The Shawshank Redemption – Andy discovers evidence that proves he is innocent. The warden seems to choose not to realise how this could get Andy out of prison. Andy says “How can you be so obtuse? (slow to realise the significance of this) Is it deliberate?

No questions, your honour.


ROUND 10

  1. Imagine a long summer evening, long shadows, golden sunlight, a pleasant temperature. You can just relax in a chair and take your time, soaking up the pleasant rays of deep golden light. How would you describe that weather?
  2. How do you spell that?
  3. What about someone who’s a bit crazy and foolish?
  4. Spelling?
  5. Pronunciation?

Answers:

Balmy (adj) = Balmy weather is fairly warm and pleasant.
…a balmy summer evening.

Barmy (adj) = If you say that someone or something is barmy, you mean that they are slightly crazy or very foolish.
[British , informal , disapproval]
Bill used to say I was barmy, and that would really get to me.
This policy is absolutely barmy.
UNITED! BARMY ARMY! UNITED! BARMY ARMY! (football chant)

Is the weather balmy or barmy? It’s balmy with an L if you’re talking about something pleasantly warm—literally, something as pleasant as balm, in the sense of an aromatic, healing lotion or salve.
It’s barmy with an R when you’re talking about something (or someone) foolish or crazy—literally, someone as frothy and as flighty as barm, which is the froth that forms the head of a pint of beer. (Indy100.com)

  • How was the weather in the UK this summer? Did you have any balmy summer evenings?
  • At what time of the year is the weather at its balmiest? What do you like to do when the weather is balmy?
  • What do you think of Brexiteers? Are they a bit barmy or is there something else going on?

 

Thank you for listening!

Don’t forget to join the mailing list on the website to get an email with every new publication on the website.

Luke

399. The Return of Molly Martinez (with Dane Nightingale)

Talking with two American friends about journalism, how the internet works, the US presidential election results, California’s new marijuana laws and puffins.

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In this one you’ll hear me in conversation with Molly Martinez and Dane Nightingale.
Molly has been on the podcast before – she was in episodes 198 and 199 – have you heard those? They’re fun episodes. In those episodes we talked about her studies as a journalist, we tested each other’s general knowledge of the UK and the USA and I tried to teach her how to do different regional accents in British English. That was episodes 198 and 199, in 2014 – ah, 2014, such fun times, such innocent times… Those episodes are still available for you to hear in the episode archive.

198. A Cup of Tea with Molly Martinez

199. The UK/USA Quiz

For a few days Molly is back in Paris seeing friends and visiting her old haunts, and this time she is accompanied by Dane Nightingale, who I think you will agree has a rather fantastic surname. (by the way, a nightingale is a bird that sings a beautiful song but only during the night time).

They’re both here for a couple of days and thankfully I managed to grab them both (not physically of course, just figuratively) for about an hour of conversation on this podcast.

Overview of this episode (to help you keep up)

This episode has a light-hearted bit at the beginning, then quite a serious bit in the middle, then another light-hearted bit at the end. The serious bit is when we start talking about the election, and there is a palpable shift in tone in the conversation at that point – so look out for that.
In the first light-hearted bit we establish these things:
They’re an item – they’re going out with each other – they’re going steady (I think this is the expression in NAmE) – they’re boyfriend & girlfriend, but they don’t live together – so they’re not living in sin, as you’ll hear them say.
Molly is a journalist for CBS in SF. She’s mostly on the production side but she does some on-air stuff (like reports to camera) as well as video editing and writing for anchors.
Molly is also a stand-up comedian who tells jokes on stage. She also tells quite a lot of jokes off-stage too. I think it’s fair to say that she’s something of a compulsive joke teller, which is alright in my book.
You’ll hear that Molly makes a joke about how I’m the heir to the BBC fortune, which makes me sound like I’m set to inherit the entire BBC (quite funny). I then explain in huge detail how in fact the BBC is publicly funded (not very funny).
Dane works for a start-up called Fastly, which makes the internet faster.
He tells us how the internet is basically just a series of tubes, and how my audio episodes travel from my servers in Tower Bridge, London to users all over the world, and how the start-up company that he works for, Fastly, aims to make this process faster by allowing data to be stored locally. I’m not sure I understand how it works!
Molly tells us about the 5 things that make something newsworthy: relevance, time, novelty, proximity and cats.
Then the serious bit begins when I ask them about their reaction to the US election. Hopefully you’ll find it interesting to hear about this story directly from the mouths of two US citizens from San Francisco. We try to understand how Trump won and Hillary lost, including the motivations of the voters, the campaigns of both candidates and also how the electoral system had an impact on the result.
Then the podcast becomes slightly less serious again and  the conversation turns to the subject of marijuana laws in the USA, how Molly once met Tommy Chong (one half of the stoner comedy duo Cheech & Chong on an airplane – high in the sky, especially him) and then how both Molly and Dane are going to Iceland where it might be very cold, and where people might eat puffins – lovely little birds with colourful beaks.
You should also be aware of the meaning of these two words:

puffin

A puffin, puffing.

Puffins – cute birds which are protected by law in the UK but are very common in Iceland and apparently eaten there as a traditional delicacy.
Puffing – the gerund form of the verb ‘to puff’ which means to take smoke from a cigarette or perhaps a pipe, or a perhaps joint in the case of California. “To puff a joint, or take a puff from a joint, or toke a joint or take a toke from a joint”.

So – “enjoy your puffin”, can have two meanings – enjoy eating a little Icelandic bird as a delicacy, or enjoy smoking some weed (especially in California where it has recently been made legal).

Right, you are now ready to listen to the conversation, so here we go!

*Conversation starts – light-hearted bit – serious bit – light-hearted bit – conversation ends*

I just want to thank Molly and Dane again for coming on the podcast. They took some time out from their holiday to talk to me, and you, and some of that time was spent going over the election, and things did get a little heated during the serious part of that conversation.

Molly expressed her frustration about the standards that people seem to have about women in positions of power – something which Sarah Donnelly also talked about when she was on the podcast talking about Hillary Clinton recently.

Specifically regarding the public’s perception of female candidates, maybe it is harder for a woman to capture the trust of the nation, because she’s expected to have so many conflicting qualities all at the same time. If she’s too warm she’s considered too emotional, but if she keeps the emotions in she’s judged as cold. That’s, I think, what Molly was talking about when she said it’s a double-standard. The point I was trying to make was that I think voters respond to certain personal charisma regardless of their gender, but thinking about it maybe women are judged differently than men and it’s harder for them to strike the right balance.

Anyway, that’s quite enough politics for this episode. I just wanted to say thanks to Molly and Dane for talking about the election because they’re on holiday and this is probably a story that they’re quite sick of, after a year and a half of election coverage in the media back home, and I expect they’re glad to be away from it all for a few days. So, I hope you’ll join me in expressing your gratitude to them for taking the time to talk about it to us on this podcast. I very much enjoyed having them on the podcast, for their honest reactions and for the light-hearted bits at the beginning and the end.

Notes

~Lots of people have shown interest in hearing a conversation with my Dad about the recent news, including the election results and about recent political developments in the UK. I am planning on talking to him soon, so that episode should arrive before long – as long as I don’t get snowed under with work, or snow, or fall into a wormhole or something like that. I’m a bit wary of doing politics too much, for obvious reasons, but many of my listeners have sent me messages assuring me that they appreciate the commentary, so I won’t abandon the subject, but I will be getting on to other topics on this podcast as well as getting back to basics with some episodes about language.

~The next episode is #400, which is cool isn’t it? Not bad really, considering how long some of my episodes are. That must be about 400 hours of podcasting for you to hear. I’m quite proud to have made it this far. It’s mainly thanks to my listeners, your enthusiasm for this podcast, your support and the support of my sponsors. I’m not sure to what extent I’ll celebrate during episode 400 or anything. I did quite a lot of celebrating in episode 300 in which I had contributions from many of the guests I’ve had on this podcast over the years, as well as a few daft celebrity impressions by me and my brother. We’ll see… perhaps I’ll just switch on the mic and have a ramble, perhaps I’ll have some guests. We’ll see.

~Amber and Paul are both very busy at the moment. Paul continues to have success with his TV series which is called WTF France – an affectionate piss-take of French culture from the English point of view. It seems the French, generally speaking, are being very good-natured about it and are lapping it up. The show is now being broadcast now on Saturday evenings on Canal+, which is one of France’s major TV channels. That’s quite a big deal. Paul is now Saturday evening prime time entertainment! Amber and I are proud of him of course, and also pleased because we helped him to write some of the episodes. You can see them all on the YouTube channel called “What The Fuck France”.

“What the Fuck France” – YouTube Channel

Now, you might not understand the appeal of the videos if you don’t understand the specifics of French culture and it might just look like he’s insulting everyone, but the humour comes from the familiarity with French life, particularly in Paris and really he’s saying the sorts of things that most Parisian people think, but doing it in English. Also, the videos are really nicely produced and directed. They look great.

~The LEP anecdote competition is still open – in episode 396 you heard 10 anecdotes so please do vote in the poll. You can find that page by clicking the blue button on my website. I’ve decided that as a prize I’ll spend some time talking to the winner 1-to-1 on Skype. I hope the winner considers that to be a prize. It may or may not be recorded and published, we will see.

~Don’t forget to join the mailing list
~Follow me on FB and Twitter where I post other bits and pieces from time to time.
~Thank you if you have sent me messages in various forms and apologies if I haven’t replied.

More episodes are coming. I have lots of ideas and things in the pipeline, but there’s no telling sometimes what’s coming next. Often I just record and publish on an episode by episode basis – and the topic and content is often decided by whatever inspiration strikes me at a given moment. It seems quite random, but there’s a method to the madness.

Have a lovely day, night, evening, morning or whatever and speak to you soon. X

351. BREXIT: Should the UK leave the EU? (A Conversation with my Dad)

Hello everyone, I hope you’re well. Here is an episode featuring a conversation with my Dad about Brexit – The UK’s referendum on the EU. Finally! I’ve been mentioning this for a while so here it is. You’ve seen it in the news, you’ve read it in the papers – the UK is having a referendum on membership of the European Union and who knows, we might end up leaving. It’s all over the news and the internet in the UK at the moment, everyone’s talking about it – you can’t escape it and it’s going to get more and more intense the closer we get to 23 June, the date of the referendum. I’ve had plenty of messages from listeners asking me to talk about this on the podcast, so here we go.

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Brexit: A Complex Issue

I’ve been wondering how to approach this topic for ages. It’s actually a very complex issue which I would like to cover properly, taking into account the different arguments in some detail in order to bring some genuine insight to the issue. I think that one of the problems with the subject of the EU and Brexit is that the issues are genuinely difficult to understand, and it takes proper effort and patience to understand them fully. I think it’s fair to say that these days people just don’t feel they have the time or the willingness to look deeply at the issues, and instead just arrive at their opinions based on an emotional reaction. There’s little tolerance for nuance or broad-mindedness it seems. So, I could just skate over the issues and cover this in just one short episode – but you know, I don’t like to do that on this podcast, and in fact podcasting as a medium is generally a great way to have an extended conversation on a topic. You rarely get extended, natural conversations on TV or on the internet about subjects like this. More and more there’s a pressure to make TV broadcasts short and quick, but as a result some of the subtleties are lost. There’s a tendency towards soundbites and short emotion-driven arguments. As a result, some of the more complex arguments are not heard. Certainly with the issue of Brexit in the media – our emotions are being played upon all the time – it’s either ‘fear’ like in the case of David Cameron who suggested that a Brexit could lead to World War 3 or it’s patriotic nationalism on a ridiculous level, like Boris Johnson comparing the EU to Hitler and saying that Britain could be the heroes of Europe. That’s all highly emotional political rhetoric. But let’s have a normal conversation about it shall we?

I think there are several ways to deal with the Brexit subject on this podcast. I could start with the vocabulary and terminology – because there’s a lot of specific language involved in this, when you consider that the whole thing relates to issues like the economy, immigration, sovereignty, legislative procedure, social policy, the environment, security and the workings of the EU institutions. So, I could take a bottom up approach and start with the terminology or the language of Brexit. Or I could go with a top down approach and just talk about the subject. In the end I’ve decided to go with the latter – and that’s to just jump right into the topic here by having a conversation about it. And who better to talk to than my Dad, Rick.

So this is the first thing you’ll hear on the subject – a conversation with my Dad – before I expect to go into Brexit in a bit more detail in some later episodes.

Now, you’ve probably heard my Dad on this podcast before. I thought it could be interesting for you to hear on this podcast a conversation between a well-informed, articulate and intelligent man, and his father. (ha ha)

 

Just one final point here before we listen to the conversation. The day before I spoke to my Dad for the podcast, I posted a question on social media, saying “My Dad’s going to be on the podcast talking about Brexit – do you have any questions?” I got loads of questions from interested LEPsters. Thank you very much if you wrote one. What I did was to consolidate all your queries and points into a just a few simple questions which I then used as a basis for this discussion. So, I don’t actually read out your questions or mention any names, but thank you for your questions – I think we managed to cover a lot of them in our conversation. Anything we didn’t deal with, I’ll come back to later on.

Alright, so without any further ado, let’s now hear the conversation with my Dad Rick about the UK’s referendum on Europe, and here we go.

*Conversation Begins*

The questions below are a summary of the questions I received from LEPsters on Facebook.

1. WHAT IS BREXIT?

2. WHY HAS THE BREXIT QUESTION COME UP NOW?

3. WHAT ARE THE MAIN ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST BREXIT?

  • The ‘leave’ campaign
  • The ‘remain’ campaign
  • What are the main arguments of the ‘leave’ campaign?
  • What are the main arguments of the ‘remain’ campaign?

4. WHAT WOULD BE THE CONSEQUENCES? (I don’t think we really answered this – so I’ll come back to it)

5. WHAT DO WE THINK PERSONALLY?

*Conversation Ends*

I said there at the end that it’s all a bit complicated. While recording that interview I was thinking that it was bound to be very difficult to follow. Actually, after listening back to that conversation, I think we managed to deal with it in a fairly clear way, especially my Dad, who is very articulate and well-informed on the subject.

I have a variety of listeners with varying levels of knowledge of this subject, so I’m sure some of you followed that without too many problems whereas others might have been a bit lost at times.

So, I do think it’s worth talking more about Brexit on the podcast and I plan to go through some of the key vocabulary associated with this and also revisit the main arguments in forthcoming episodes. Also, as we move closer to the referendum date I am sure more things will happen in the news and it will be interesting to keep an eye on the opinion polls. So watch out for more Brexit-related commentary in the near future.

As ever I am very keen for you to express your opinions on the website. So please leave your comments. What do you think? What do you think about my Dad’s opinions in this episode, and how would you vote in the referendum?
Should the UK leave the EU or should the UK remain a part of the EU?

The LEP EU POLL

In fact, let’s do an LEP EU Referendum of our own, shall we? I wonder how the LEPsters would vote in this referendum.
I have opened up a Brexit poll on my website (you can see it below) – so please visit and cast your vote. It’s anonymous and you don’t need to add your email address.

[socialpoll id=”2363089″]

Thanks very much for listening and take care! BYE!

Luke

Comments & Questions from LEPsters on Facebook

General questions and points of view

Luciano: What is BRETIX??!!
Elizabeth: Right now the UK has some bargaining power. Instead of leaving they should use that to see if they can’t get the worst transgressions off their back. Right?
Roland:  UK has been EU member since 1973. I am wondering why did brexit question come up now? Isn’t it because of the massive migration problem in continental Europe and part of Uk population tend to mix up the two different issues (migration vs. uk-eu renegotiation)?
Mollie:  Happy Birthday , Teacher Luke !
Luciana:  I’d like to know what is the real motivation behind the pro exit campaigners. Will they have any personal gain? Or is it only an ideological matter?
Alessandro:   Hello everybody, hi Luke, I’ve spoken to many Britons so far and all of them are for remaining in Europe. Is there anybody who’s really going to vote leave? In my view many are unable to decide what to do because they have different feelings or there are different things they want. My question is: is the referendum ripping apart British society?
PROs & CONS
What are the main arguments for and against us leaving?
Ricardo:   Hi Luke, my name’s Ricardo and I’m from Brazil. for that Reason I don’t understand why Uk still have a Queen and what’s pro and con for UK’s to be membership of EU.
Aritz:  Hello Richard! Hope you are fine!
My question: why do you think it’ll be better for the UK to stay or to go out? (depending on your point of view).
I’d like a precise answer, and nothing vague please. I’m from Spain and I live and work in London, so I am deeply interested in this issue.Thank you very much!!!
CONSEQUENCES

Anna :  If the UK finally decides to abandon the EU, would it still be a member of Schengen area? Yaron:   I would like to know how it going to affect you personally, if UK will leave (as English man who currently live and work in France)… In addition, I would find it interesting if you will discuss whether UK will leave the EU, would it be the start of the end of the EU. ie, would other countries will also leave the EU eventually (maybe not France and Germany… But other nations)

Kenichi : I would you like to summarise how people supporting the Conservative party or the labour one think about the Brexit. And If the Brexit happens, what would happen on daily goods imported from other EU countries such as wine, beer, sausage, etc. The reason why I’m asking is because I suppose the UK has been getting a lot of benefits from the cheaper trade as a member of EU so far, and those benefits would be lost after the Brexit.

Robert:  If UK leave UE, it will mean that citizens other EU other country (for example Polish) have to leave UK? What do you think. If UK leave UE it would be end of EU?

PERSONAL OPINION

Anna:  Luke, what is your personal attitude towards this issue? How are you going to vote?

Jairo:   I am going to borrow a question from BBC News and ask your dad :

What do you think the EU referendum says about Britain ? ,
tell us in ” six ” words 😊.
Adam:    However, I think I know how you are going to vote, but am curious to hear your father’s point of view, cheers
Piedad:  What will happen with EU citizens already living in UK?
Gabor:  and the same question from a different point of view, what will happen with the UK citizens living abroad in the EU?
Jean:   what will be the real consequences if UK choice to exits from UE… Try, please, to explain us this complicated topic with some examples. Thanks 😉
Abdelhmide:   Hi Luke , my question is ; if the UK leave the EU will you would need visas to go to EU ??Thanks
Other comments from listeners
Burak: Dont exit from EU ..
Adam :  I believe that if Brexit actually happens, the EU will then browbeat the UK to accept some new treaties like those of Switzerland or Norway so that the UK wouldn’t be totally free of the EU anyway. Moreover, this argument is actually being skated around by the Brexit campaigners. Not that I am particularly fond of the EU myself, but still don’t think there is an alternative to it than just being part of the block and fight for a shift.
Nataliya :  Boris Johnson VS David Cameron on this matter
Francesco :  I’m gonna answer you with a Pink Floyd quote: “Together we stand divided we fall”.
Konstantinos : Hello Luke. Thanks for asking.. I don’t think that the Euro-zone has any future in case that the citizens of the United Kingdom, would like / take the decision to continue their destiny as a country, outside from the Europe. The question there is, what are the advantages or disadvantages from this kind of catalytic decision? ..and what’s will be going on with a large group of people who live and work in the UK? Of course, and as we all understand, there’s a domino under the possibility of the negative answer, but from the other side, the British have the opportunity with that referendum to think finally, what are their interests for them and for their country.. My point of view..(?) I think the result surprise us positively.. The sure is that would be a historical moment for the England, which the humanity will remember forever.. and by the way If I have a title earlier in advance for this mini article that would be “The Funeral of the Europe”..
Francesco:   It’s more of an opinion than a question, but here it is: i think it would be really bad for us all if you left the EU and the UK would lose a great deal!

 

325. Catching Up with Oli / Future Predictions (Part 1)

Here’s a 2-part episode featuring a conversation with my cousin Oliver in which we talk about first some challenges he faced over the last few years (including dramatic things like a scooter crash, a tropical disease, a burglary and how he completely flooded his own house) and then some more positive things about being a father and predictions for how society will be different in the future. Also, listen for some general news and announcements about Luke’s English Podcast.

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Announcements & News

  • I hope you enjoyed the episodes I recorded as a tribute to David Bowie. Unfortunately, so soon after we lost Bowie, the news came that another great person has died – the British actor Alan Rickman, who like Bowie was 69 years old and died from cancer. He’s most famous for playing the part of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, and the part of Hans Gruber the bad guy in the film Die Hard with Bruce Willis – both very enjoyable and distinguished performances, but he played many other roles too. Alan Rickman was known for his sardonic humour, his wonderfully rich and unique voice, and for bringing a great amount of weight and humanity as well as humour to his roles. He will be missed too.
  • And, I haven’t even mentioned Lemmy – the lead singer of the group Motorhead, who also died recently. Lemmy played a massive part in the invention of heavy metal music, and was generally a huge personality in the world of British rock. He was on the scene all the way from the 60s until this year when he passed away due to cancer. Lemmy was known for his gravelly voice, his appearance (he looked like a biker dressed in leather with big mutton-chop sideburns and moles on his face – he wasn’t a pretty guy like Bowie by any means), his hard-drinking speed fuelled lifestyle and his bizarre obsession with Nazi regalia – clothing, weapons and so on from the Nazi era. He wasn’t a bad guy, he just liked the designs and imagery from that time – it had nothing to do with the ideology, and at heart he was just committed to playing loud and fast music and living a loud and fast lifestyle – and he will surely go down in history as a true legend of the music world. So, that’s three people, at least. So, can famous British people stop dying please!? If we carry on at this rate there’ll be none left by the end of the year.
  • But let’s not dwell on these dark things any more! I’m glad to present you this episode today because this one is all about the future, and new life because my cousin Oli is going to be a Dad for the first time – his wife is expecting a baby daughter at any time, so let’s look to the future, with new life and positivity and all that stuff! We’ll start that in just a minute, but first – a little bit of admin…
  • The comments issue on the website is fixed. I just needed to do a few updates. You can now post comments on the homepage again. No worries!
  • Email subscribers – are you still receiving emails when I post new episodes? I had a couple of messages from listeners recently who said they hadn’t received emails with new episodes. How about you? If you’re an email subscriber, could you let me know if you received emails for the David Bowie episodes, the episode called With the Thompsons, and the Star Wars spoiler review.
  • Picture comp is finished – so, don’t send me any more photos please! Thank you for the photos I have received in my email account, and, of course, I have loads of pictures. They’ll go up on the website soon and you can pick your favourite. I’m a little bit concerned about how that’s going to work because there are about a billion photos, but I’ll work something out.
  • I’ll be meeting Paul and Amber again soon. Firstly to catch up with them both – because quite a lot has happened since we last spoke on the podcast. Amber went to Costa Rica, and Paul Taylor is now something of a celebrity as his comedy video about kissing in France went super-viral over the last few weeks. His video, “Paul Taylor – La Bise” is about his frustration with the French custom of kissing people when you meet them. It was uploaded onto Robert Hoehn’s YouTube channel French Fried TV on new year’s day and within the space of just a few days it got over 1 million views. He was featured on lots of French websites, radio and TV, and then the video went global on the BBC’s website and more. Paul also has a new solo comedy show every Saturday (as well as the one with me on Thursdays) and it’s completely sold out for the next 10 weeks or something. Wow! Remember when he was on this podcast talking about how he quit his job to do comedy? Remember how difficult it was in Edinburgh? Well, things seem to be working out for him now! Good news!

  • Also, I hope to get Amber and him on this podcast again (if he’ll come on now that he’s such a big celebrity) in order to do that interactive version of the Lying Game – remember that? Listen to “318. The Rematch (Part 2)” to find out the details. Basically, this is a chance for you to get involved in another version of the lying game.  All three of us said some statements, and you now have to write questions in the comments section for episode 318. IN the episode we’ll ask each other your questions, and answer them. Then you can decide if they’re true or lies. Again, listen to 318. The Rematch (Part 2) for all the details (listen until the end).

Introduction to this Episode

As you know at Chrimbo I want back to the UK and stayed with my family, and with my cousin at his home in Bristol. It’s been a while since he was last on the podcast, and quite a lot has changed with him. In our conversation we talk about lots of things and I really think this is an interesting episode, and a very valuable one from a language point of view. The topics we talk about are diverse and quite in-depth and as a result we use lots of different features of grammar and vocabulary. I always encourage you to notice language while listening to native speakers on this podcast, so try to do that in this episode if you can. First we talk about what happened to Oli since the last time he was on the podcast, so watch out for the ways in which we talk about the past – tenses, and other forms. Oli faced a few difficulties and challenges, so watch out for the ways he describes those things. Essentially, he tells me a few anecdotes about some of his difficulties in London, watch out for past tenses and so on. Then we talk about the future, and about various predictions for the next 10-20 years, so naturally you can try to notice the specific language, tenses and modal verbs that we use to describe the future, make predictions and make judgements about the future. As well as that, there’s a lot of vocabulary related to technology, transport and communication.

In my opinion this is a very useful conversation for you to listen to. I loved catching up with Oli and I sincerely hope you enjoy listening to it, and by the way, listen all the way to the end to hear Oli play a bit of guitar – and he’s a really good guitarist.

That’s it!

olipodnew1

308. The Lying Game (Part 1)

Hello, welcome back to LEP. This episode is called the lying game, and it’s one of those ones in which I play a speaking game with my friends Amber and Paul. A transcript for the first 15-20 minutes is available here on the page for this episode. In the introduction you’ll hear me welcome new listeners, talk a bit about my speaking speed on the podcast, mention the importance of listening to native speakers of English (even if it’s a bit difficult to understand every word) and explain some of the content of the conversation you’ll hear between Amber, Paul and me. Then, the speaking game begins properly. I really hope you have as much fun listening to this as we did recording it, because we really enjoyed ourselves! In part 2 (coming soon) you’ll hear the conclusion of the game and I’ll explain how I use this activity with my students in my English classes.

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Introduction Transcript Starts Here (+ more information below)
Hello, welcome to LEP. This episode is called the lying game, and it’s one of those ones in which I play a speaking game with my friends Amber and Paul.

Before you listen to that, I’d like to just say a few things here at the beginning of the episode. Firstly, hello to all my regular listeners, the LEPsters as they are sometimes known. How are you all? I hope you’re fine and having a lovely day or night or evening or morning or whatever time of day it is. Thanks for recent comments on my website. It’s always nice to read your messages. Recently I did episodes about The Battle or Britain and Back To The Future, and I’m feeling a lot of love in the comments section – particularly from my Polish listeners because of things I said in episode 303, which is really great. It’s very motivating to read the positive things you have to say in response to my episodes. I do think about my podcast a lot, and I always hope that you’re enjoying it and finding it useful. So, your comments are valuable bits of encouragement. Thanks also to those of you who have never left a comment on my website in your life – you’re my ninja listeners, and I think there are a lot of you out there, choosing to remain silent in the shadows, but listening to everything.

Secondly, just in case you’re new to LEP, let me just quickly introduce myself. My name is Luke Thompson and I’m an English language teacher from England, which is in Britain, which is in the UK, which is in Europe, sort of. I’m originally from London (in the south-east) but I went to university in Liverpool (in the north-west) and I also spent many years growing up in Warwickshire which is near Birmingham, which is in the midlands, which is in England, which is in Britain, which is in Europe, which is on Earth… etc. OK, I’ve been teaching English for nearly 15 years, wow has it been that long? Time flies when you’re having fun, and I do enjoy my job. I’m DELTA qualified, and in my career I have taught English to adults and children from many different countries, at many different levels, at many different times of the day – morning, afternoon, evening and at night sometimes, in any season, in all weather conditions – rain, snow, hail, wind, lightning, and even during a couple of earthquakes. I’ve taught courses in general English, business English, academic English, English for exams, English for doctors, English for pharmacists, English for engineers, English for lawyers, English for HR, English for secretaries of state, English for journalists, English for unemployed people, English for retired people and English for people who haven’t chosen what to do with their lives yet. Basically, if you need English, I’m your man. If I was a superhero for English teaching, you could call me Englishman! Which is appropriate, because I am an English man. Haha, I’m just joking, I’m not a superhero, I’m just an ordinary humble man, well as you can hear from this introduction I may not be that humble, but I am a man – definitely, I checked this morning. I am proud to be an English teacher – a profession which includes many bright and brilliant people all around the world, who have either chosen this vocation, or just ended up doing it because they didn’t know what else to do with their lives. As well as being an English teacher, I’m also a stand-up comedian, and I’m a podcaster. I do a podcast for learners of English called Luke’s English Podcast. You should listen to it. It’s quite popular and I have lots of downloads these days. I’m happy to say that I have a lovely community of people around the world who regularly listen to my podcast episodes in order to improve their English, but also (hopefully) because they just enjoy listening to each episode I produce. Did I mention that the podcast has won a few awards? No. Ok, well, the podcast has won a few awards. Am I sounding a bit arrogant? I hope not. I don’t mean to sound full of myself, I really don’t – it’s just that sometimes I think I should try and sell myself on the podcast, just a little bit, to remind you who I am. I don’t mean to just go on about myself a lot because it’s a bit self-indulgent isn’t it? But I do think it’s important to convince you that listening to this is very good for your English, and that you should keep doing it. It’s not just me who says that, I also have lots of testimonies from listeners of my podcast who have commented on my website, saying some very positive and nice things indeed, like this one which arrived just a couple of days ago, from someone called “Teddy WS” who simply wrote Screen Shot 2015-11-04 at 18.02.11“Thank God I find this page.” He sounds a bit desperate maybe, like he’s been walking through some kind of English teaching desert, and my website is like an oasis for him, where he can drink from this refreshing wellspring of natural English. It’s certainly a positive endorsement.

Thanks Teddy, that’s nice. Now, admittedly, Teddy did make a mistake in his comment – he wrote  “Thank God I find this page” and it should be “Thank God I found this page” but to be fair, he has only just found the page, and he has been walking through a desert for days and days, and he probably hasn’t listened to many of the episodes yet. I expect if Teddy writes on the page again in a few months, after he’s listened to more episodes and refreshed himself, he won’t make a mistake like that. I certainly hope so. Teddy, if you’re listening – don’t feel bad about making that mistake – mistakes are an essential part of the learning experience. Just brush it off, carry on and try not to do it again. By the way Teddy, I’m looking forward to reading another comment from you on my site in the future.

The main philosophy of my podcast is to give learners of English the chance to listen to authentic British English as it is really spoken. Sometimes it’s just me talking, sometimes I have interviews and conversations with friends, family or other interesting people. I try to keep it real – meaning I try not to adapt my language level too much. I don’t want to talk to you in a very simple way because that’s not how people usually speak in the real world. I think I speak clearly on the podcast, but at a fairly normal speed. I believe, ultimately, that’s better for your English.

So, it’s better for your English in the long run, but in the short-term, you might find it difficult to understand every single word I say, or every single word my friends say. So, I often remind you, that if you don’t understand what I’m saying or if you get lost during conversations on the podcast – keep listening! Keep going! Don’t be put off when you lose the thread of the conversation. Persevere, don’t give up. In the long run, it will be better for your English. So don’t stop.

If you want to pay close attention to every single word, and study those words, you can. Many of my episodes have transcripts, or at least some notes which you can read. You can then study the words and phrases I’m using and improve your English that way. Or, you can simply relax and listen to the episodes wherever you are in the world – just find a comfortable place, or even an uncomfortable place – it doesn’t matter that much, but comfortable is better, just put your headphones in, or turn your speakers on, and just listen for fun. It should be enjoyable to listen to English. It doesn’t have to be a boring study exercise. So, I invite you to just relax, kick off your shoes, make a cup of tea, listen to my episodes, and enjoy doing it. :)

This episode is entitled The Lying Game. The title of the episode has absolutely no connection to the things I’ve just said to you in the opening minutes of this introduction.

No, the reason this episode is called The Lying Game, is because in a few moments you’re going to listen to my friends and me playing a speaking game which involves either lying or telling the truth. It’s just a fun guessing game that involves some lying. So that’s why this episode has that title.

So let me tell you what you can expect from this 2-part episode of LEP.

What’s The Lying Game? This is a speaking activity I play with my students in my English language classes. In this episode you’ll hear me playing this game with my friends Amber and Paul, who are native speakers of English.

In a few minutes the episode is going to start (we haven’t started yet, this is still the introduction). I just wanted to say right now, that this was a very fun conversation for Amber, Paul and me. We really enjoyed talking and playing the game. I hope you enjoy it too. The thing is, we got pretty excited during the game and so we speak pretty quickly and sometimes we speak over each other. That might make it difficult for you to understand everything that’s being said. Still, like I said a few moments ago – keep listening anyway, even if you don’t understand everything. OK, I think I’ve made my point about that now!

The recording begins mid conversation. Let me just tell you a few things to help you understand what we’re saying, right from the beginning.

You’ll hear me say to Paul, “Do you really think I change the way I speak?” This is because Paul thought I sometimes change my voice when I’m recording the podcast. Like, I have a podcast voice that comes on when I start recording. We agree that it’s quite normal as a way of catching the attention of the audience from the beginning, or “pulling people in” as Paul says.

Just a couple of other things that will help you understand the beginning of the conversation:

Paul starts whispering subliminal messages into his microphone. This is because just the other day he was on a “film shoot” and he did that to the sound man – he whispered into the microphone and only the sound man could hear him. Just for fun.

I make a (lame) joke about something Amber says about it being a grey day. I thought she said ‘grade A’, referring to the sofa she was sitting on. A grade A sofa would be a top quality sofa. My sofa on the other hand is not that good, so it’s more likely to be a grade B or grade C sofa.

Then we make a few references to things you won’t know about, like my stand up routine, and a joke I made earlier about Philips lightbulbs, you know the technology company called “Philips”. Watch out for that. We found is hilarious. You might be confused by it. Let me know.

Then I realise that we’re having too much fun, and that could be annoying, like my favourite film critic Mark Kermode says that comedy is hard work. If people say they had fun making a comedy you’ll know it’s not funny.

It looks like they had a lot of fun making it which is always a recipe for disaster, when it comes to comedy. Because most really funny comedies are not fun to make – On reviewing Mortdecai 23 Jan 2015 show

So I hope that is not the case for this episode.

So, after that Mark Kermode reference, we settle down a bit, the conversation continues, we talk a bit about lying, and we start playing the game.

OK, I’m now going to stop explaining everything before it’s happened, and just let you listen to the episode. So, here we go!

Intro 2 (This is the second introduction which I say at the beginning of the conversation with Amber & Paul!)
Sometimes I play a fluency speaking game with my students, which involves telling lies. I call it The Lying Game. It’s an imaginative title. It’s just a fun game to practice giving information, and forming questions. I’ve been using it in class for years and it’s always a pretty popular exercise. This time on the podcast I thought I’d play the game with some native speakers. When you listen you can focus on noticing these things: question forms, how people describe events in the past (tenses and pronunciation of ed endings), how people describe present habits (verb forms and adverbs – not just present simple tense) and also the intonation that we use when asking questions in a suspicious, open or challenging way.

With me I have Paul Taylor & Amber Minogue.

How are you?
Do you think you’re good liars? Are you gullible?
Do you ever lie in your life?
Is it wrong to lie? Is it ever ok?
Are you ready to play the game?

Rules

  1. Tell us something – it could be something that happened in the past, a habit, someone you’ve met – anything about you that we don’t already know. Try to make it interesting – partly ridiculous, partly believable.
  2. We will then interrogate you about it, asking you all sorts of questions to investigate your statement. You can expand on it. This is the hilarious bit where we’re not sure if you’re lying or not. Ha ha ha.
  3. Then, when we’ve run out of questions we will say if we think you’re lying or telling the truth, justifying why we think so.
  4. Then, reveal if you were lying or not. It’ll be dramatic and entertaining.
  5. Points: For everyone who guesses wrong, you get two points. Every person who guesses correctly gets 1 point.
  6. Everyone has a go, and at the end we count the scores to see not only who is the best liar, but also who is the most gullible or untrusting person. If you’re gullible, you won’t score much. If you’re too trusting, you won’t score much either. If you’re a bad liar you won’t score much, if you don’t appear trustworthy you won’t score well either. So, the winner of this game will be some kind of psychopath, basically. Or, the winner will be a good liar and good at detecting lies too.

Luke, Paul and Amber’s Statements from the Game

Luke: I once met Dave Grohl (drummer from Nirvana, singer in Foo Fighters) at a buddhist temple in Japan.

Paul: I once spent Valentine’s Day with Elijah Wood and John Hurt.

End of part 1! You can hear Amber’s turn in the next episode, where you will find out what happens and who wins the game in the end! (exciting)

Scores at the end of part 1
At this stage, the scores are like this:

Luke – 2 / 0   Total = 2 points

Amber – 1 / 1   Total = 2 points

Paul – 0 / 2   Total = 2 points

So it’s even stevens!

Listen to part 2 (coming soon) in order to hear Amber’s story, and to see who wins.

The photo of Dave Grohl that I took on my J-Phone:
Dave Grohl

:) Thanks for listening!

The Invention of Lying – Film by Ricky Gervais

Woman with crossed fingers

299. The Bank Robbery (Part 2)

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!

Outcomes
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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287. VOCAB BATTLE!!! WITH AMBER & PAUL (exciting title)

aka “Vocabulary Game with Amber & Paul” or “Fifteen Fixed Expressions” (less exciting titles)

Learn more English expressions in this episode by listening to another vocabulary game with Amber Minogue and Paul Taylor.

The series of episodes featuring ‘fixed expressions’ and vocabulary games continues in this episode. The previous ones, entitled “Ten Fixed Expressions” (283) and “Ten More Fixed Expressions” (285) featured me testing Paul’s knowledge of multi-word expressions in English. He did better in the second episode than the first, although maybe that’s because of the way I explained the expressions rather than because of Paul’s lack of vocabulary. Nevertheless, the wider aim of these episodes is to teach you, my listeners, some vocabulary in the form of multi-word expressions.

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What is a ‘fixed expression’?
Essentially, a fixed expression (according to me) is a vocabulary item comprising of a few words that always go together. That includes idioms, sayings, phrasal verbs, well-known quotes and collocations. All these things are lexical items which are included in the catch-all title of ‘fixed expressions’. The words are fixed together. They’re not just individual words combined, but they are discrete items of vocabulary in their own right.

So, fixed expressions are essentially ‘lexical chunks’. They’re not types of shelf unit or ikea furniture or anything like that. They’re just phrases in English. That should be clear.

I realise that the more I explain, the more confusing it is, so I’ll stop explaining now and we can start playing the game.

Let’s Play the Game
This time Amber is involved.
All three of us have short lists of five expressions.
We’re going to do three rounds of this game.
Round 1: Amber vs Paul (Luke is the Question Master)
Round 2: Paul vs Luke (Amber is the Question Master)
Round 3: Luke vs Amber (Paul is the Question Master)

Rules of the Game
The Question Master defines an expression without using the words in the expression.
The QM can also give little hints if necessary.
The two competitors race to guess the expression.
A point is awarded to the one who guesses the question right. If both competitors guess the expression at the same time, they both get a point.
Listeners can try to guess the expressions too. Did you guess them? Did you beat us?
If you don’t know the expression, listen carefully because we will explain, repeat and give examples.

So, it’s a fun game and a learning opportunity too, in one Great British package.

The Expressions in the Game
Here you’ll find lists of the fixed expressions in this episode. Listen to the episode to get the full definitions and examples, or search for the definitions online.

Luke’s Expressions
1. to be hard up
2. to be in the loop / to stay in the loop / to keep someone in the loop
3. “been there, done that, got the t-shirt”
4. to bend over backwards (for someone) (to do something)
5. to give someone the benefit of the doubt

Amber’s Expressions
1. to get your foot in the door
2. to show your true colours
3. over my dead body
4. in mint condition
5. to bite the bullet

Paul’s Expressions – Theme: Body Parts
1. to have two left feet
2. to be/fall head over heels in love with someone
3. (to do something) by the skin of your teeth
4. (give it some) elbow grease / (put some) elbow grease (into it)
5. to put your foot in your mouth

There are plenty of other expressions in this episode, so if you notice any other good ones please add them in the comments section below.

Enjoy!

p.s. I’m going on my honeymoon in a couple of days so there will be no new episodes for a couple of weeks, but LEP will be back :)
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271. Catching Up with Amber & Paul

Today I’m joined by my mates Paul Taylor and Amber Minogue, both of whom have been on the podcast before. Let’s catch up with them and see what they’ve been doing. Listen to the episode to hear a completely unscripted and authentic chat between 3 native speakers from England, as we talk about having babies, pedestrian crossings, having ginger hair, the difficulties of being English in the sunshine, and some of our favourite TV shows and films.

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Amber
Click here to listen to Amber’s previous interview on LEP, in which she talked about having a baby.
How was the birth?
You said you would go with a natural birth before. Did you?
What’s it like being a mum?
Best things? Worst things?
Sleep? Nappies?

Paul
Click here for Paul’s previous episodes on LEP. Part 1 and Part 2.
What have you been doing?
Click here to visit Paul’s YouTube channel for Taylor’s Top Tips

Topics in this Episode
We talk about various things including:
– Amber’s baby, the birth and what it’s like to be a Mum
– Paul’s news, including his short YouTube videos called Taylor’s Top Tips (started on Instagram, then moved it to YouTube).
– The sound effects from my terrace (the sounds of the street, the sounds of people stepping in dog poo in the street)
– Pedestrian crossings in Paris vs Dog poo
– The dangers of crossing the road in Paris
– The difficulties of being English in the sunshine
– Struggling with a folding chair while avoiding a spider
– Ginger people / having a ginger beard / being a ‘ginger ninja’
– Are Italian people obsessed with ginger people?
– Game of Thrones and other TV shows like Breaking Bad, Suits, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Lost, House of Cards etc.
– TV series vs Films
– J.J. Abrams the director of the new Star Wars film, and his love of lens flare.
– Amber doesn’t like ‘wiggly camera’ – shaky, handheld camera effects – like in the Jason Bourne films and the Taken films.
– The film Cloverfield (directed by J.J. Abrams)
– The Blair Witch Project (1999)
– Recommended TV series (plural – series, singular – series). Amber: Game of Thrones and The Wrong Man’s, Paul: Fawlty Towers, Luke: Louie.
– Vocabulary: A TV series (e.g. Game of Thrones) – not a serie, a season (e.g. season 1, season 2 etc – in the UK we used to say ‘series’ not ‘season’ but now most people say ‘season’)
– Serial? It’s an adjective to describe a series of things – e.g. a serial publication. In my opinion we don’t say a ‘TV serial’, we say a ‘TV series’. Amber and Paul don’t agree.
– Criticisms of French television (a bit of French bashing here? or genuinely valid criticisms of French TV?)
– Summarising the conversation: Jumping into gingers (“Don’t jump into anyone too quickly, you have to give them fair warning in advance”), we detoured into TV, the escapade/debacle with the chair, spending time in the sun
– Orphan Black (TV show)

Taylor’s Top Tips

For the Geeks: What is lens flare?

The trailer for Cloverfield
Directed by J.J. Abrams. Lots of shaky, handheld camera (or ‘wiggly camera’ as Amber described it)

Orphan Black trailer

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253. Rapping with Fluency MC!

Chatting and rapping with Jason R. Levine aka Fluency MC! [Download]

Small Donate ButtonI’m feeling pretty excited today because I’ve got a bit of a celebrity on the podcast. Jason R. Levine, also known as Fluency MC is something of a legend in the world of online English language teaching. He’s become pretty well known on YouTube in particular for his videos in which he uses hip hop to bring a fresh approach to teaching English. Jason raps his English lessons, and many of those raps have become YouTube sensations – for example “Stick stuck stuck” the past participle rap (over 2.5million views on Youtube), and the present perfect rap which is a full on explanation of the grammar rules for the present perfect tense, delivered in rhyme. But, Jason is not only a teacher who raps – a look at Jason’s CV shows that he is involved in a number of very interesting English teaching projects – he leads workshops, has published material and is an English specialist for the US department of State – which makes him sound like a government agent, and he has a very interesting academic and personal background which has led him to take this fresh new approach to language teaching. On the musical side, Jason raps but he also plays the drums like me, and he DJs and produces his own tunes. There’s so much to ask him and so much to talk about, and hopefully Jason will do some rapping on Luke’s English Podcast too, and who knows – I might even get involved in that as well. You can look forward to all of it in this episode. (In fact, if you listen to the whole episode you will hear both Jason and me rapping on some of my brother’s music)

I’ve never met Jason before, this is the first time I’ve spoken to him in fact. I always thought Jason lived in New York, but a while ago I was on Facebook and I saw a photo of him in Paris and I assumed he’d visited for work or for a holiday, so I sent him a message saying “next time you’re in Paris, how about an interview for LEP” and he wrote back saying “Actually, I live in Paris”. Needless to say I was pretty surprised. What are the chances of that!? So naturally, I thought I’d take the opportunity to hook up with him and interview him for the podcast, and he’s sitting right next to me now so let’s get started…

Links
Click here for Jason’s YouTube Channel
Click here for colloandspark.com Jason’s website
This is FluencyMC’s Facebook page

Questions & Stuff
These are some questions that we covered in this episode of the podcast.
I’m really chuffed to have you on the podcast Jason, because as we heard in my introduction you’re sort of a living legend of English teaching. Are you famous?
What are you most known for?
What other projects are you involved in?
Where are you from?
What did you study at university?
How does psychology come into your teaching method?
How long have you been teaching?
How did you get into it?
When did you first start rapping in the classroom? Was there one particular time when you first did it? What happened?
You travel quite a lot, teaching in different locations. Do you always rap in class?
How would you describe your approach to teaching?
How is rapping a part of that?
What are the reactions of your students to your method?
What’s collo and spark? Can you explain that?
Is it related to mnemonics?

FluencyMC on YouTube
This is the original video of Jason rapping “Stick stuck stuck” – just about 3.5minutes of one of his lessons.

Luke’s Rapping (Lyrics Below)

Here are the lyrics of my rap at the end of this episode!

The Well-Spoken MC (Lyrics)
Microphone check one two one two
Let me introduce myself to you
My name’s Luke
I’m an ordinary dude
I like food, I wear shoes
I like to watch YouTube
I’m just like you,
or maybe Doctor Who
when I’m in a good suit
I’m feeling in the mood

from time to time
I like to unwind
I Drink a bit of wine
and try to write a rhyme
and when I combine
all of this all online
then surely it’s a sign
it’s my time to shine,
cos I like to feel fine
I do it all the time
and in my mind
I’m going to get mine

It’s just a natural fact
and I like it like that
so relax and sit back
and listen to this track
It’s just a natural fact
and I like it like that
so relax and sit back
and listen…

I get dizzy
with a bit of thin Lizzy,
while drinking some fizzy
getting busy with Queen Lizzy
I’m a gentleman
With a lesson plan
I’ll Help you understand it with a diagram
Of different tenses
and complex senses
or ways of saying sentences with different kinds of emphases
Yes
You could say I’m blessed
With a CELTA and a DELTA and my CV’s fresh!
I teach pronunciation
Throughout the nation
To stop alienation
Caused by poor articulation
It’s just a natural fact
and I like it like that
so relax and sit back
and listen to this track

Cos I speak like a native
and I’m here to get creative
and I have already stated
that I’m very qualificated
I’ve got a wide CV
an even wider TV
which I’d like you to see
in Confidentiality
Because between you and me
and the deep blue sea
One day I’m going to be
On the BBC

Because I’ve got that BBC style
The one that makes you think for a little while
about the way most newsreaders speak
It sounds as if they’re trying to repeat
Sentences of information But With crazy intonation
and weird enunciation that’s clearly fascinating
And at the end of every news report
There is a summary of sorts
Of all the main sports, and some afterthoughts
Where the main news anchor
Turns to the camera
And delivers an answer
in the form of a mantra
This is the voice of the BBC,
and while you’re sitting there drinking cups of tea
We’re working away inside your TV
And on the screen you will surely see
that I go by the name of the Well-Spoken MC

Good night
FluencyMCPIC

240. Politicians Avoiding Questions

In this episode we’re going to look at the way politicians deal with tough and challenging questions from TV and radio interviewers. We’ll listen to some examples of politicians avoiding questions in interviews and examine some of the ways they get themselves out of tight situations while also promoting their ideas. [Download]

Small Donate ButtonI’m not sure what you think about politics. I don’t talk about it a lot on Luke’s English Podcast. I did an episode a couple of years ago called “82. Votings, Elections, Government“, in which I talk about the political system, and various vocabulary related to politics, voting and elections. Now, a lot of people find politics to be quite boring, and I used to think that too, but more and more (perhaps because I’m growing up finally!) I think that politics is fascinating and really important. I’m particularly keen on watching debates between politicians, and watching the way in which politicians cleverly deal with challenging questions in interviews. It’s fascinating to watch them very skilfully squirm their way out of tight situations, or use all manner of linguistic and rhetorical skills to persuade people live on TV.

British journalists tend to interview politicians in an aggressive manner. Politicians are getting very good at avoiding questions. And this is what I’m particularly interested in studying in this episode of the podcast. How do politicians avoid questions? Let’s have a listen, and find out.

Here’s a clip from the satirical comedy show “The Day Today”. This programme makes fun of the news. It takes the mickey out of the way that news readers speak, and their interview style. In this clip we hear an interview with a politician who is facing allegations of ministerial misconduct – he’s being accused of lying in front of the House of Commons about a deal. The interviewer is not aggressive or challenging enough, and in the end he lets the politician get away with lying to the house. He’s too nice! Then the newsreader in the studio takes over and has a go at the interviewer for not asking challenging or tough questions. I think it’s really funny. Let’s have a listen and then consider the ways that politicians deal with tough interviews in TV.

That’s just a comedy clip, but in terms of real situations, here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Here the interviewer wants the politician to admit that he was wrong about the Euro. Clearly the politician doesn’t want to admit he was wrong, and so he pushes another line: The UK at the moment is not willing to be part of the Euro. Listen to the way the interviewer asks about his mistake over the Euro, how the politician attempts to avoid the question, and how the interviewer has to quite aggressively force him to deal with the Euro problem.

The politician: The energy secretary Chris Hune (in government)
The issue: He said that the Euro was going to be a big success and that the UK is missing out.
The politician doesn’t want to admit that he’s wrong, and instead wants to push the idea that the UK is not willing to be part of the Euro at the moment.

Some ways that politicians avoid questions
They have a pre-planned message, or line, which they have prepared carefully before going into the interview. Often this is in the form of soundbites – snappy, quotable phrases which can be used in newspapers.
Their aim is to present this line, despite the questions they will be asked.
As long as they are talking on the same topic, and they look presentable, reasonable and professional, we just don’t notice that they are not responding to the question.
Social conventions of politeness and communication make it hard for the interviewer to break this down. If the politician doesn’t really answer the question, it’s hard for the interviewer to a) identify that it has happened, b) respond to it quickly, c) find the right questions that will force the politician to really answer the question.

Smooth interviews break down when an interviewer is tough, aggressive and skeptical. The interviewer has to take an aggressive line in order to fight against the slick tactics of the politician. It’s very hard for these interviewers because they have to go against instinctive social conventions in order to break the politician’s spell. If the interviewer is too aggressive or emotional, the interviewee wins because he comes out of it better – he looks like a calm reasonable person, and the interviewer looks like a mad man. If the interviewer is not precise enough in his questions, the interviewee wins again, because the interviewer does too much talking, while the politician sits there in innocent silence.

The best politicians manage to make it very hard for the interviewer to put them on the spot. They use techniques to distract the conversation away from the tough questions, they don’t get emotional, they manage to come across as reasonable, modest, ordinary people. Likeability is vital to a politician’s career nowadays. We tend to vote for people who we like, rather than thinking purely of their policy, which is a terrible symptom of our image driven culture. So, clever politicians are able to construct a likeable image – as family oriented, hard-working, sympathetic, strong or humorous. That likeablilty acts as a kind of defence mechanism or even a distraction, so that viewers on TV let them avoid questions and so on. Research has shown (and I refer to a Harvard Business Paper called Conversational Blindness: Answering the Wrong Question the Right Way Authors: Todd Rogers and Michael I. Norton Publisher: Harvard Business School, Working Paper No. 09-048 Date Published:  October 2008) that we just don’t notice that a politician has avoided a question when the answer is related to the question asked and is given with confidence and conviction. So, it goes like this:
The interviewer asks a question.
The politician responds with an answer that relates to the topic of the question, but doesn’t really answer the question specifically.
We don’t notice that the question is being avoided, because the answer is on-topic.
Politicians also use the phrase “Let’s be clear…” as a way to redirect their answer towards their point, while making it look like they are clarifying and directly answering the question. “Let’s be clear…” + their point.

This all breaks down, when tough interviewers manage to put politicians on the spot. Perhaps they take them by surprise, perhaps they are willing to come across as crazy by repeating the question over and over, or perhaps they manage to keep the courage of their convictions in order to verbally spar with these master debaters. So, when interviewers bring their A game, it can be pretty fascinating to watch a politician have a really hard time. It’s like car crash TV. It’s also pretty bizarre. These kinds of conversations rarely happen in normal situations. People talking over each other without stopping. People answering direct questions with completely unrelated answers. It’s weird.

Let’s listen to some examples!

“Did you threaten to overrule him?” Paxman vs Michael Howard
The accusation: Paxman questioned Howard relentlessly about a meeting he had had with prisons chief Derek Lewis about the possible dismissal of the head of Parkhurst Prison.

Chloe Smith on Newsnight (total disaster for Chloe Smith)

Excerpt from The Thick of It. “Answer the question you fat fuck!”

Why do interviewers in the UK have such a direct style? Because we believe they should be accountable for everything they do. We don’t have much deference for people in positions of power (and The Queen is not a person in a position of power actually! If she did exercise genuine power over us, we wouldn’t have the same level of respect for her I can assure you) and this style is a way to prevent politicians avoiding the question. If you’re too soft on people (and it’s not just politicians – it’s also heads of corporations or anyone with some duty to the public) then they will just use the interview for their own purposes. Also, I think audiences in the UK (and I’m sure it’s the same in many other places) believe that these people should be given a tough time, especially the ones who are not serving us well, or who are privileged in some way.

If an interviewer is too soft on a politician, we feel that they’ll just get away with murder.

Sometimes it seems to me that interviewers have got into the habit of being tough in interviews, and sometimes they do it when it’s not appropriate or necessary.

The Day Today – Jam Festival

This is funny on two levels: On one hand, it parodies the aggressive style of BBC journalists (especially Paxman). It’s also poking fun at people who do charity work just so they can make themselves look good.

PoliticiansPIC
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