Tag Archives: natural

395. “Have you ever…?” with Paul Taylor and Robert Hoehn

In this episode I’m joined by Paul Taylor and Robert Hoehn and we do a speaking exercise that I often use in my classes to help my students to practise using different grammatical structures in their speaking. I thought it would be interesting to record some native speakers doing the exercise too, so that’s what you’ll hear in this episode, as well as various little anecdotes, a few jokes and general chat. The conversation contains swearing and a few humourous comments which shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

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Today I’m joined by a couple of guests. First of all I have Paul Taylor with me, fresh from an appearance on French TV.

And also, Robert Hoehn is back on the podcast.

Last time Rob was on was in episode 143, in which we hung out together in Rob’s kitchen, we made some tea cocktails and then Rob offended everyone with some obnoxious comments about American foreign policy.

Since then I have never invited Rob back onto the podcast.

Until now.

I thought it was time to bring him back on since his name has been mentioned a few times recently.

First of all, we have to deal with the fallout from his last appearance (which actually wasn’t that bad) before going on to talk about some other stuff.

How Rob offended everyone last time (well, not everyone…)

Last time Rob said some comments which were not supposed to be taken seriously. Just some stuff about America bombing other countries.

He hasn’t been on the podcast since. (except for a brief appearance during one of the Star Wars episodes, and a telephone call to Paul once)

So I think we need to deal with that and perhaps roast Rob a bit before moving on. Once he’s been roasted, his name will be cleared and his debt to my audience will have been paid.

Jokes from Rob’s roast

A roast is something that American comedians do. It usually happens on someone’s birthday. All the comedians take turns to insult the roastee. It gets pretty harsh and insulting, but that’s the whole point and everyone gets roasted. You’re not supposed to get offended. It’s a tradition.

Here’s what I said during Rob’s roast.

Hanging out with Rob is a profound experience. After you spend time with him you might have a crisis of religious faith. Not because he has persuasive arguments against the existence of god, but because if god does exist that means he has created everything, including Rob – and the question is “Why?” “Why would he bother?” “Why would an intelligent creator choose to invent Rob Hoehn? what would be the point?” It’s impossible. It wouldn’t have happened. So, Rob’s existence is basically proof that we are alone in the universe. No intelligent designer would have decided to create Rob, so there is no god and this is all the result of random chance.

But it’s exciting hanging around with Rob.

I imagine it’s a bit like spending time in the company of a great ape, like an orangutan.

It’s exciting, because you never quite know what he’s going to do next, and it’s fun to speculate on just how intelligent he really is. Whenever he manages to do something, like communicate a complex message it’s always very exciting, “Ooh! he asked for a banana! Ooh he offended everyone! Amazing!” but there’s always a fear that he’s going to get confused and start throwing things around or pull someone’s arms out of their sockets.

Rob of course is American. He’s from Minnesota in the mid-west of the USA, and he’s a great ambassador for the USA because he basically embodies all of the values that we associate with the united states. Basically I’m saying that he’s fat and ignorant.

I invited Rob onto the podcast a few years ago. I thought it would be a good idea. I’d now like to read a selection of comments that I got in response to that episode.

The first one is a message from a regular commenter, someone who regularly commented on every episode I uploaded.

“Hello Luke, as you know we all love your podcasts because they’re authentic and full of life…”

That’s nice.

“…However…”

Ooh

“However, this American was utterly arrogant and full of himself. I’ve never heard such a smart alec person in my whole life, I feel like jumping off a bridge.”

I never heard from that person ever again. Never left a comment ever again. He disappeared. I don’t know what happened to him.

Here’s another one.

“Hello Luke. I’m afraid…”

That’s not a good start.

“Hello Luke. I’m afraid I am completely disgusted by Robert. At 42mins50seconds…”

So this person continued to listen, despite being completely disgusted.

“At 42mins50seconds, on the subject of American attitudes to other countries, he said ‘The truth of the matter is that we just do not fucking care. We do not care at all what anyone thinks, because we Americans know that we can completely dominate everyone and if someone pisses us off too much – BOOM! Smart bomb.”

I’m actually quite proud of these comments because I don’t know if you noticed but they are very well written. In fact, I have used Rob’s comments a few times in class because they are very motivating. The students can’t wait to give all kinds of angry and abusive responses to what he said. They just keep producing more and more English in response to his statements. So thanks Rob you have definitely helped to improve the motivation and productivity of my listeners.

Rob originally moved to France to train to become a clown, which wasn’t necessary, let’s be honest. He wanted to become a clown because he was so inspired by his hero Ronald McDonald.

So there we are Rob – all is forgiven. You’re back to square one again. Welcome back to the podcast.

Have you ever…?

This is a conversation generator that I use in class. I usually use it in fairly low level classes in which they’re just learning to use structures like:

  • present perfect for life experiences – “Have you ever ridden a Segway?” “Yes, I have / No, I haven’t”
  • Questions in past simple tense – “When did you ride it?” “How was it?” “Did you enjoy it?”
  • ‘would like + infinitive / wouldn’t like + infinitive’ – “Would you like to ride a Segway?” “Yes, I would / No, I wouldn’t”

Have you ever…?

  • seen a ufo
  • eaten an insect
  • flown in a helicopter
  • done a jump in a car
  • made a complete fool of yourself in public
  • killed an animal by mistake
  • had a public argument or fight
  • gone scuba diving
  • slept outside (not camping)
  • met a famous person

Tell us about them in the comment section. Have a good day, evening, morning, afternoon or night and I’ll speak to you again on the podcast soon. Bye.

Luke

Paul’s TV Show

Paul is currently having a lot of success on French TV (and on YouTube) with his series of mini TV shows in which he makes fun of French culture. The show is also produced with the help of Rob Hoehn, and Amber and I have writing credits on some episodes. Check out a couple of recent episodes below.

 

Photos

grasshopper-guacamole

Paul’s grasshopper guacamole

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

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 :)
VOCABBATTLE

285. Ten More Fixed Expressions

It’s been about one month since I last uploaded an episode of the podcast, but now LEP is back! Where have I been? Well, I got married (expect a podcast about that soon) and took some time off after that, and then I had lots of work commitments, comedy commitments and honeymoon-organising commitments and I didn’t have enough time to record an episode, but of course I’ve been waiting for an opportunity to speak into the microphone, and that opportunity came today. So here it is.

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Introduction
Paul Taylor is with me for this one and we’re going to do another round of our vocabulary game, just like we did in episode 283.
That episode was called “Ten Fixed Expressions” but that now seems to be quite a dull title. Certainly, we did teach 10 expressions but the title seems a bit boring don’t you think? I’m wondering what to call this episode and I still can’t decide as I’m writing this. I always think that titles of my episodes should describe what is in each episode, and should also be fun and interesting enough to catch your attention. In this case Paul and I teach you ten expressions again, but we also have a chat about our recent news, and get very sidetracked by a negative review on TripAdvisor of one of our recent comedy shows.

The main aim of the episode is to play the vocabulary game and let you understand the meaning of ten English expressions but it also is a chance for us to mess around a bit and talk about other things if we feel like it, especially if it is entertaining or interesting for you.

So, should I call this episode “Another Ten Natural Expressions” or “Ten More Natural Expressions” or “Ten Natural Expressions (Part 2)”? Maybe “Vocabulary Game with Paul Taylor (#2)” is a better title? I can’t decide. I’ll choose the title when I’ve finished writing this and editing the episode together, and whatever title you see at the top of this page is the one I finally went for. I suppose you’ll probably be thinking – “Luke, the title doesn’t really matter. It’s the content that counts.” That’s true of course, but I do think the title is quite important for attracting new listeners to the podcast, and because it helps you to identify the main content of the episode. Let me know what you think about the title of this episode by leaving a comment below.

In This Episode
Anyway, regardless of my indecisiveness about the episode title, here’s what you can expect in this episode.

1. Hi Paul, hi Luke, etc. :)

2. Conditions are almost exactly the same as in the recoding of episode 283. It’s boiling hot. I’m with Paul Taylor. We’re sitting in the shade, mostly, except for my leg which is in direct sunlight again. We’re going to play a vocabulary guessing game like last time we did this (episode 283).

3. What’s new Paul? He’s been doing more comedy gigs. We got a bad review for one of our comedy shows, and we talk about it a little bit. The wording of the review bothers us a bit (also the fact that it’s so negative of course). Here’s a picture of the review (below). What do you think of the description? Ignore the lack of a full-stop at the end of the second sentence. Is the comment slightly ambiguous? What does it really mean? Look at the review and then choose option a) or b).
Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 15.20.45
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One thing’s for sure, this person did NOT enjoy our show! You can’t please all the people all the time, and bad reviews are just a part of putting on comedy shows. So, never mind!

Anyway, in our conversation we use the negative review as a chance to talk about the importance of being dedicated, motivated and positive as a way of pushing through a barrier of resistance that you might experience if you want to really achieve something in life, like becoming a really funny comedian or learning another language to an advanced level.

4. The Ten Fixed Expressions & Vocabulary Guessing Game
The rules of this game are the same as last time. I’ll explain an expression to Paul and he has to guess which one I’m talking about. Listen to my explanations – can you guess the expressions before Paul does?

Here are the ten expressions I explain in the episode. Listen to the episode to get definitions and examples, or just google them for online definitions.

1 all’s well that ends well
2 an eye for an eye (and a tooth for a tooth)
3 and Bob’s your uncle
4 and pigs will fly!
5 that’s another kettle of fish
6 as cheap as chips
7 to ask for trouble
8 to be away with the fairies
9 to be back to square one
10 to be all ears

That’s it!

Listen all the way to the end of the episode to hear some out-takes of my introduction to this episode. What are out-takes? They’re the mistakes that are edited out of the final version of a film, song recording, or in this case a podcast episode. Sometimes it takes me a few attempts to get the introduction right. I might do nearly 10 failed introductions before I finally get it right and continue with the rest of the recording. They’re not normally intended for publication, but sometimes they’re pretty funny so I shared them with you at the end of this episode.

Don’t forget to leave your comments below this episode! Thanks for being awesome listeners and LEPsters and all that. You’re the best. Look forward to more episodes coming soon…

Luke ;)
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tenmoreexpressions

283. Ten Fixed Expressions

Recently on FB I asked my followers to send me some fixed expressions (phrases, idioms or just individual words) that they like or think are worth learning. I ended up with about 200 phrases. The idea was that I’d do one episode with these phrases, but obviously I underestimated the number of responses that I’d get and now I have a huge database of nice, chunky and rather British fixed expressions which I can deal with in episodes of the podcast. I have vetted the list for any expressions that I don’t see myself using very much, so they’ve all been given the LEP seal of approval, meaning they’re all expressions which are perfectly valid and that you should know.

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What’s a fixed expression? It’s a collection of words (a phrase) which has one specific meaning. Those words are fixed together and it might have a particular idiomatic meaning, or at least a specific meaning which is

Episode 1 in the series – I’ve invited Paul Taylor to my place, and we’re going to do an exercise to help you to learn these phrases and give you some listening practice. What we’ll do is that I will explain the phrase to him and we’ll see if he can guess which phrase it is. Then we’ll give some examples and have a quick discussion based on the expression, before moving on to the next one.

What you can do is just try to guess the phrase I’m talking about, and then check out our discussion to hear the phrase being used naturally. All the phrases are listed on the page for this episode.

  1. A bad egg
    A person in a group who has a negative effect on the rest of that group. “He’s a bit of a bad egg”, or just simply a bad person.
    Have you ever had a bad egg in a training group at work?
    Were there any bad eggs in your group of friends as a child growing up?
  2. A cash cow
    An investment that brings in a reliable source of steady income. E.g. an apartment which you rent out, or shares that you purchased in a thriving business.
    What’s the most common form of cash cow?
    If you had 50,000 to invest, what would you invest it in?
  3. a fine line between x & y
    When there is a very subtle or small difference between two rather distinctly different things. E.g. “There’s a fine line between madness and genius”.
    www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/fine_line.html
    Do you think there is a fine line between madness and genius?
    Other fine lines?
    Stand up comedy and … ?
  4. a flash in the pan
    Something that is a very quick and sudden success, but it’s a success that doesn’t last. Brief success.
    Would you rather be a flash in the pan (make loads of money but then disappear from fame – become anonymous) or a long lasting success who is constantly in the public eye?
    Can you think of anything that we thought would be a flash in the pan but wasn’t?
    What do you think will be a flash in the pan now? Is the Apple Watch a flash in the pan?
  5. a pain in the neck
    Something really irritating or annoying. Something really inconvenient in your life.
  6. a shoo-in
    Someone who is certain to succeed, or certain to win a competition. Someone or something which we assume will be a success. For example, for an entrance exam to a university – we expect this girl to pass. In fact, it’s almost impossible to imagine that she won’t qualify for the course. She’s a shoo-in.
    I always thought it was spelled ‘shoe’ – like somehow there’s a shoe in something, or it’s really easy to throw a shoe into something.
    Where did you go to university? Were you a shoo-in for entrance? How about your exams?
    Do you follow football? Who do you think will qualify/win the 2018 world cup?
  7. A total cock up
    A complete mess – when someone messes something up completely. They tried to rob the bank but they forgot to load their guns and one of them got trapped in the vault and the other didn’t know what to do. They both were recorded by CCTV cameras and got arrested.
    Origin unknown (it doesn’t refer to a penis) – it’s more likely to refer to a bird, like perhaps the accidental startling of a woodcock during a hunt.
    What’s the biggest cock up you’ve ever made?
  8. Ace
    Great, brilliant, fantastic. British slang. Also the name of one of the picture cards in a deck of playing cards.
    When was the last time you said “That was ace!”
    What was the last film you saw that you thought was ace?
  9. All gone to pot
    It’s all gone bad. It’s deteriorated. Like, “it’s all gone to the dogs”.
    E.g. “My diet has gone to pot since coming home for Christmas.” or “London’s just gone to pot since Boris Johnson took over” or “The whole country is going to pot under this conservative government”.
    Has its origins in the idea that farm animals would be eaten (cooked in a pot) when they were past their best (for producing eggs or whatever).
    Do you think the world is going to pot?
  10. All hell broke loose
    When things suddenly become chaotic and out of control.
    E.g. When they announced a flash sale of Louis Vuitton handbags, all hell broke loose in the department store.

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255. Taken 3 / Expressions with ‘Take’

My response to the film Taken 3, plus 12 expressions with the word ‘take’. [Download]

The Film
*Spoiler alert* – I might give away some details of the story line, although I think you probably have a good idea what kind of thing you can expect. Someone did something to his family, and Liam Neeson will use his very particular set of skills to find them, he will hunt them down and he will kill them. There will be loads of high-octane action, some very questionable moral actions, and the usual offensive stereotypes of foreign people.

You should know that I’ve talked, at length, about Taken 1 already on this podcast.

Yesterday I went to the cinema and tweeted “I’m on my way to see Taken 3…” Naturally, some people wanted me to talk about it on the podcast, so here it is.

In a nutshell, this film is bad – it’s total pants, it’s piss poor, it’s lame, it’s cheesy, and frankly, it’s dull. It’s like a b-movie, but with Liam Neeson. It retains few of the redeeming qualities of the original, brings nothing new to the table and just looks like everyone involved is just doing it for the money. That’s not to say it was without enjoyment – I did enjoy it a bit, perhaps because I’d lowered my expectations before going into the cinema.

Expressions with Take
There are loads. Here are 12. Listen to the episode to hear full explanations and examples.

1. Take someone for a ride = to rip someone off
2. Take someone to the cleaners = to rip someone off, or to beat someone
3. Take something for granted = to undervalue something which is actually very valuable to you
4. Take it on the chin = to be strong and resilient in the face of criticism or adversity
5. Take it out on someone = to express your anger/frustration by being nasty or aggressive towards someone else
6. Take advantage of something = to make the most of it, to exploit it
7. Take it easy = relax
8. Overtake = to move in front of someone (e.g. in a car)
9. Take over = to take control of something (to acquire)
10. Takes one to know one = In order to know something you have to be that thing too
11. To have what it takes = to have the necessary qualities to do something
12. Give or take = approximately

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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

251. Welcome to LEP / 16 Things You Should Know about LEP

The podcast has been nominated in the Macmillan Dictionary Award and the voting is now open here www.macmillandictionary.com/love-english-awards/voting-blog-2014.html

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When I get nominated for this competition, I usually have quite a lot of new visitors to the site by people who are checking out the podcast for the first time. So, let me take this opportunity to say hello to any new visitors and to give you an idea of what LEP is all about.

In this episode I’m going to tell you 16 things you need to know about LEP. After listening to this, you should have a better idea of what this podcast is all about!

16 Things You Should Know about Luke’s English Podcast
1. I’m a teacher from London, living in Paris, with about 14 years of experience and both a CELTA and DELTA qualification. I’ve lived in Japan too, and I have experience of teaching adults and children at all levels of English, for general, business or more specific purposes. Students I’ve had in the past include Brazilian world cup winners, Scandinavian heads of state, top business executives and even a porn star. I now teach at The British Council and at a top university in Paris.

2. I started LEP in 2009 after taking a course in podcasting with The Consultants E. At the time I just felt like I wanted to have my own radio show, and I discovered ways of creating podcasts on my new Apple Mac laptop, and realised I could publish them myself on iTunes, and then get the word out using social networking. I started to get really busy producing episodes of the podcast. The aim was always to mix up teaching with general entertainment. I wanted to produce episodes that were instructive but also fun to listen to for their own sake.

3. I’m also a stand-up comedian, and I do try to use those skills in my episodes too, from time to time! I do stand-up comedy regularly in Paris, in English. This may not be obvious from this episode, as I’m not adding any jokes to it! From time to time I share some videos of my comedy on this website, and some of my listeners have come to see me perform my comedy live, which is great!

4. The podcast now has over 250 episodes, and I have a really loyal following. In fact, my listeners have lots of names – the LEPpers (yes, LEP stands for Luke’s English Podcast), LEPsters, LEPaholics, LEP Ninjas, PLEPS (people of Luke’s English Podcast) and so on.

5. Some of my listeners have created podcasts of their own, after being inspired to do so by listening to LEP.

6. There are various types of episode that you can expect on the podcast. Some are about specific aspects of English, for example – episodes about idioms, grammar points, pronunciation, vocabulary, and slang. In some episodes I try to keep my listeners locked-in and entertained by making up improvised stories off the top of my head. In some episodes I feature interviews and conversations with friends, family and special guests. Some episodes involve me just talking directly to my audience about whatever comes into my head. Some episodes are about films, music or popular culture, and some episodes deal with specific aspects of British culture and lifestyle. So the podcast covers a broad range of topics. Ultimately, I love the freedom of being able to talk about anything I like! The main thing is that it creates engaging content that encourages learners of English to do more and more listening!

Here’s a quick list of some of the more popular episodes of this podcast:
1. Introduction – this is the first episode I did back in April 2009 and it outlines my basic approach to LEP.
28. Interview with a Native Speaker: The Weather – this one follows on from a vocabulary episode about British weather and features an authentic interview with a teenager called Chris, and his odd views about foreigners in the UK
29. Mystery Story / Narrative Tenses – this is one of the most visited of my episodes. It teaches you narrative tenses (past simple, past continuous, past perfect) via a short mystery story that features several of the UK’s most beloved popular culture icons. The story is continued in the next episode.
71. The Ice-Cream Episode – an unplanned rant on topics such as: Amazon Kindles, robots & technology in Hollywood films and why we should put down the weapons and pick up an ice-cream instead, man.
83. How to Swear in British English – an indispensable guide to all the rudest words in British English. It’s extremely offensive, but extremely useful.
100. Going to the Pub – the guide to everything you need to know before you step into a pub in the UK.
118. Sick In Japan – the true story of how I ended up sick in a Japanese hospital. It contains loads of medical and health related vocabulary, culture shock and a story which is engaging from start to finish!
125. The Pink Gorilla Story – one of the most popular ever, this is just an improvised story that regularly makes people laugh out loud, and which I really should convert into a one-man-show stage play!
140. Ghost Stories – just some scary true stories to keep you awake at night
167. Memory, Mnemonics and Learning English – revolutionise your learning techniques with these powerful memory devices.
174. How to Learn English with Luke’s English Podcast – this is your guide to improving your English using my podcast.
176. Grammar: Verb Tense Review – this is a very complete guide to all the main tenses in English
192. Culture Shock: Life in London – this episode deals with many of those strange aspects of the English lifestyle that foreigners find so hard to understand.
208. Travelling in Indonesia – one of many episodes about travelling experiences, this one has quite a dramatic beginning.

There are plenty more episodes which are popular with listeners, in fact everyone seems to have a different favourite. But that’s just a selection of some of the most visited pages on my website.

7. Yes, my episodes are quite long, but I always explain it like this: Firstly, all my favourite podcasts are long, and I think that it’s quite normal for podcasts to be about an hour long. Radio shows also tend to be at least an hour long too, so why not my podcast? It’s better for my listeners if they listen for an extended period. Why should listening only last 15 minutes? I can’t achieve very much in just 10-15 minutes, and I want my episodes to have some depth and rigour to them. Also, listeners can just pause the episode when they’ve had enough, and come back to it later!

8. I have a transcript collaboration project on my website, which allows listeners to transcribe sections of episodes and build a whole library of transcripts for other LEPsters to use. This is good for the transcribers because it is a big challenge and a good way to improve their English, and it’s good for the other listeners because we have an ever-growing library of transcripts which they can use to help them understand episodes. The collaboration is hosted on my website and is done using google documents.

9. I have won this award three times before and that is completely thanks to my devoted audience, who every year come out in force to vote for me. I hope to repeat the success this year, but I am up against stiff competition! Whatever the result, I’m just happy to have been nominated again.

10. The podcast has had 3 million listens in just over a year, since moving to a new audio host (audioboom.com) which is amazing!

11. I also have some videos on YouTube and they are pretty hot as well! My channel has had about 2.5 million views in total, but I haven’t uploaded anything for a while. The popular videos are ones I did in 2009 and feature me interviewing members of the public in the centre of London. There’s also a video called “16 Ways to Say I Like It”, which you may have seen too.

12. I launch competitions of my own from time to time, for listeners to take part in. The last one was called “Your English Podcast” and I invited listeners to send me short recordings of them doing their own versions of LEP. I received lots of entries and votes and the winner was interviewed on the podcast as a prize.

13. These days I record episodes of my podcast in a room at the top of my apartment, where I have great views of the rooftops of Paris from the windows. I call it the “SpacePod” or “SkyPod” and it’s the podcast HQ!

14. I have another podcast, called A Phrasal Verb a Day. It’s on iTunes and on my website. That is made up of short episodes devoted to individual phrasal verbs. I give definitions, examples and explanations. It’s a great way to pick up more of those tricky items of vocabulary – phrasal verbs. My goal was to record one a day in 2014. I didn’t reach my goal, but I haven’t given up and I still add episodes to the series when I can.

15. I love playing the drums, guitar, bass and ukulele (but not at the same time) and occasionally at the end of podcast episodes I play a song on the ukulele – but you have to listen all the way to the end of the episode to hear it.

16. I put my heart, soul, time, energy, humour, money and love into making episodes of LEP. It’s become quite a big thing in my life after having done it now for nearly 6 years. I enjoy a close and warm relationship with my listeners, I always welcome new additions to the LEP family, and in the future I plan to build my service more and more until I can perhaps do this for a living somehow. The future’s bright and I hope that many more people will join me on this journey to create authentic, entertaining and interesting content that helps you not only to improve your English but to enjoy yourself while doing it. So, I invite you to start listening today and like thousands of others get addicted to LEP – it’s good for your English!

If you haven’t already done it, I invite you to vote for LEP by clicking here. Thank you for your continuing support!
vote for us_love english2

234. Making “Choons” with My Brother

Hi everyone, how are you doing? In this episode I’m joined again by my brother James. The last time you heard from him he was talking about how he had dislocated his shoulder after falling off his skateboard. In this episode he gives us an update on his shoulder injury and then we talk about the music (his “choons”) that he has been making recently. What is a “choon”? Basically, it’s a “tune” – a piece of music, typically a piece of dance music, hip-hop, house music, drum & bass or techno. When you hear a really good tune, it’s quite typical to say “Ah this is a CHOOOON!” My brother makes instrumental hip-hop CHOONS. You can hear him talking about his music making process in this episode. [Download this episode] Click here to download my brother’s album, called “JT2000 – Volume 4”.

Small Donate ButtonJim’s Choons
Jim is quite modest about his music making, but for years he has been quietly producing lots of instrumental hip-hop on his own using an old Akai MPC2000, which is a bit of music making hardware used by some of the most well known hip-hop, drum and bass and techno producers from the past 15 years or more. Jim bought a second-hand MPC2000 about 5 years ago and he’s been learning how to use it, producing lots of tracks, and they’re getting better and better all the time, and now he’s at a point where he’s released a 10 track album which is available for purchase online via the website Bandcamp – click here to listen to or download the album. He doesn’t like to talk about his stuff too much because it’s very personal, but in this episode he was quite willing to talk about how he comes up with ideas and how he then turns them into pieces of music. In our conversation you’ll hear us using various technical language related to music and music production.

Download Jim’s Album
Jim’s album is available here: jt2000.bandcamp.com/releases
You can download it free, or if you think he deserves to be paid, you can choose to purchase the music and you can choose the price! $0 – $1,000,000 – it’s your choice.

Listen to Jim’s tune “Sympathy” (Unofficial remix of “Life’s a Bitch” by Nas) on YouTube here:

images

177. What Londoners Say vs What They Mean

Here are some cliches that you might hear Londoners say, and some explanations of what they really mean.

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This podcast is based on an article from the trendy/hipster website “Buzzfeed”. It’s about some common things that Londoners say, and what they really mean. It’ll not only teach you some vocabulary, but will allow you to get under the skin of London and find out some real inside knowledge of what it’s like to live there for real.

I’ll go through the list and explain everything for you.

Article originally published on BuzzFeed here.
Photo illustration by Matt Tucker, Dan Kitwood / Getty/paulprescott72/Thinkstock

***Please be aware – there is some rude language and swearing in this episode***

1. “London prices” — Rip-off prices.
2. “Sorry” — I’m not sorry.
3. “Sorry” — You have just trodden on my foot, and I loathe you with every fibre of my being.
4. “Excuse me” — You have paused momentarily at the ticket barrier and I am boiling with rage.
5. “My fault entirely” — Your fault entirely.
6. “I’m fine, thanks” — I am barely managing to conceal a churning maelstrom of emotions.
7. “How are you?” — Fine. Just say fine.
8. “See you Saturday!” — Don’t forget to email me twice to make sure that we’re actually meeting on Saturday.
9. “Let’s have lunch” — Let’s walk to Pret and back as fast as we can.
10. “I’m having a party in Wimbledon, come along” — Please travel for four and a half hours as I live in the middle of bloody nowhere.
11. “Open for business” — Oligarchs welcome.
12. “Centre of global finance” — Money launderers’ paradise.
13. “My commute? It’s not too bad. About average” — It involves three modes of transport, takes hours each day, and is slowly crushing my spirit.
14. “Could you move down a bit please?” — I’m not asking, I’m telling.
15. “Could you move down a bit please?” — I am seconds away from a devastating mental collapse.
16. “Could you move down a bit please?” — If you don’t, I will start killing indiscriminately.
17. “Due to adverse weather conditions” — It was a bit windy earlier.
18. “Due to the wet weather conditions” — A tiny amount of rain has fallen.
19. “Please take care when…” — Don’t you dare blame us if…
20. “We apologise for the inconvenience caused” — Via the medium of this dehumanised pre-recorded message.
21. “Due to a signalling failure…” — Due to an excuse we just made up…
22. “Rail replacement bus service” — Slow, agonising descent into madness.
23. “There is a good service on all London Underground lines” — Though this very much depends how you define “good”.
24. “Planned engineering works” — That’s your weekend plans fucked, then.
25. “Would Inspector Sands please report to the operations room immediately” — Ohgodohgod everybody panic, we’re all about to die.
26. “Annual fare increase” — We’re rinsing you suckers for even more money. Again.
27. “House party in Tooting? See you there!” — South of the river? No fucking chance.
28. “I live in Zone One” — I am unimaginably wealthy.
29. “The area is really up and coming” — Only one tramp shouts at me in the morning.
30. “Vibrant” — Actual poor people live here.
31. “Gentrification” — I am so glad they’re rid of the poor people.
32. “Gentrified” — Oh bollocks now I can’t afford to live here either.
33. “Efficient use of space” — Microscopic.
34. “Studio flat” — Bedsit.
35. “Incredible potential” — Absolute shithole.
36. “Affordable” — Uninhabitable.
37. “Deceptively spacious” — Basically a cupboard.
38. “Good transport links” — There’s a bus stop 10 minutes’ walk away.
39. “Authentic” — Fake.
40. “I just bought a flat” — My parents just helped me buy a flat.
41. “Swift half” — Many, many, many, many halves.
42. “Quick pint” — In the pub until closing time.
43. “We’re going on a date” — We’re getting pissed together.
44. “Picnic” — Daytime piss-up.
45. “Barbecue” — Piss-up in the garden.
46. “South London” — Here be monsters.
47. “West London” — Here be posh people.
48. “East London” — Here be young people.
49. “North London” — Here be newspaper columnists.
50. “Oxford Circus” — Roiling hellscape.
51. “Tech city” — Bunch of start-ups you’ve never heard of.
52. “London has some of the best restaurants in the world” — So how come I always end up at Nandos?
53. “London is full of cultural delights” — Which I never visit.
54. “Gourmet coffee” — Ludicrously overpriced coffee.
55. “Exciting pop-up restaurant” — You guys like queuing, right?
56. “We have a no bookings policy” — We hate our customers.
57. “This pub has character” — This is not a gastropub, and I’m scared.
58. “Traditional boozer” — Pub that does not serve wasabi peas.
59. “What do you do?” — How much do you earn?
60. “He works in finance” — He’s a psycho.
61. “He works in media” — He’a a wanker.
62. “He works in PR” — He’s a bullshitter.
63. “He works in tech” — He’s got a blog.
64. “Working hours” — Waking hours.
65. “Greatest city on earth” — Apart from New York.
66. “You know what they say: He who is tired of London…” — I am so tired of London.