Talking to my wife about the latest season of the Netflix TV drama The Crown, which follows the life and times of Queen Elizabeth II and her family. We talk about Charles & Diana, Margaret Thatcher, The Queen’s accent, Prince Andrew’s BBC interview and more.
Hello listeners, How are you today? I hope you are doing well. Here’s a new episode of the podcast.
Several things before we start.
The voting is over in the WISBOLEP competition. Yep, the voting closed on Sunday 6 December at midnight. I will be announcing the results in an episode of the podcast soon. So, stay tuned for that.
LEP Premium – www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
Premium LEPsters – hello. I just want to let you know that I have uploaded several premium episodes covering language from my conversation with Lucy in the last episode. I went through the conversation again and picked out over 50 words and phrases that you might have missed, or that I think are worth highlighting and then I presented them to you with explanations, examples, a memory test and pronunciation drills. That’s P28 parts 1 and 2 and it’s in the premium section now. Also, Premium series 27 is underway and I recently uploaded parts 1 and 2 of that to the premium section – they contain some grammar and vocabulary language tips and practice, with pronunciation drills too. Parts 3-8 will be coming up in the next couple of weeks. If you want to know more about LEP Premium including how to get the episodes, and how they can really help your English in various ways – go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
— JINGLE —
694. The Crown / The Royal Family (A Royal Ramble with My Wife)
In this episode I am returning once again to the topic of the UK’s Royal Family. This time I’m talking to my lovely wife about the royals because we’ve recently been watching season 4 of The Crown and so royal stuff is definitely on our minds at the moment.
Just in case you don’t know, The Crown is a Netflix TV series about the British Royal family. I expect many of you will be aware of it too and maybe you’ve also been binge-watching season 4 recently, like us. Here’s an episode all about it.
My wife, who is French, is particularly fascinated by the bizarre lives of my country’s monarchs and we often talk about the show and the real events it is based on, so we thought it might be interesting to share some of our thoughts with you in an episode of the podcast.
If you haven’t seen The Crown yet, and you’re worried about spoilers in this conversation, I don’t really think it is possible to spoil this show as it’s all based on real events which most people know about. In fact, listening to this before you watch the show, could even help you understand it and enjoy it a bit more. Also, if you have no plans to watch The Crown, I think that you can still enjoy listening to this. It’s not just for people watching the show.
I know what some of you will be thinking. You’ll be thinking – “Do you recommend this as a good show for learning English?”
Yes, as long as you genuinely enjoy it. I think most people agree that The Crown is good and that it’s interesting – high drama, beautiful to look at, great actors, an interesting topic.
You should also be aware that the characters speak in a very posh accent, which is not how most people speak. It’s not massively different to, let’s say, “normal English” but you should be aware that they do sound very posh and have a posh accent. It’s important to hear a wide variety of accents in English, because this is the nature of the language. It’s a diverse language and you need to take that into account when learning it. You should be able to understand the various accents and hopefully be able to identify them to some extent anyway.
So, overall – yes, I think it’s a good show to watch and can definitely be useful for your English.
To get more specific tips about how to use TV shows like this to improve your English, listen to episode 660 of my podcast.
The Crown is currently in its 4th season, which deals with the period in which Maragaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister, and when Prince Charles married Lady Diana Spencer – later to be known as Princess Diana. So this is the late seventies, the eighties and the early nineties.
In this conversation you will hear us talking in the usual rambling fashion about things like:
What we think of the show, including descriptions of how it looks and the production in general
The performances by some of the actors
Accents you can hear in the show, especially the high RP which is spoken by the Queen and other royals.
What the show makes us think about specific members of the family, their stories, their relationships with each other and how they are represented in the show
What the show makes us think about the institution of the monarchy itself, including some of the pros and cons of having a royal family – for the country as a whole, but also for the individual members of the family itself who enjoy the luxuries of their privilege but are bound by the duties that they have to the crown
We also assess the reign of Elizabeth II, and talk about “Operation London Bridge is Down”, which is the codename that refers to the official plan for what will happen in the days after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, when that inevitably happens. It’s actually quite extraordinary and makes you realise how significant The Queen is to the nation.
We also end up talking about the recent scandal involving Prince Andrew, who is one of The Queen’s four children – he’s the third one in fact. I don’t know if you are aware of this scandal, but it was big news in the UK. It is actually a disturbing and shocking story, but it’s also fascinating. I am referring to Andrew’s association with Jeffrey Epstein, who was convicted of the trafficking and prostitution of underage girls. Epstein died in prison in pretty suspicious circumstances. The official story is that he committed suicide but plenty of people believe that he was killed in order to prevent the truth from coming out. Anyway, Andrew was allegedly one of Epstein’s friends or “associates” let’s say and in fact one girl who was a victim of Epstein’s has made claims against Andrew specifically. In response to those claims, Andrew chose to conduct an interview with the BBC in 2018 . He wanted to deny all the claims against him, but the interview did not go very well and it was a bit of a PR disaster for Andrew. I find it absolutely fascinating as well as disturbing and I’ve been wondering for ages whether I should discuss it on the podcast. Keep listening to find out more about this whole story.
The Royal Family Tree
Before we start properly I think it will really help if I remind you of the basic family tree in the Royal Family.
So there’s The Queen of course. Queen Elizabeth II. She has been Queen since 1952 and that’s the longest reign of a UK monarch in history. Her husband is known as Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh. In season 4 of the show The Queen is played by Olivia Coleman and Philip is played by Tobias Menzies.
The Queen’s mother was also called Elizabeth but she was commonly known as The Queen Mother. She died in 2002.
The Queen had a sister, called Margaret, known as Princess Margaret, played in the show by Helena Bonham Carter. Margaret also died in 2002, less than 2 months before The Queen Mother, in fact.
Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip had 4 children. The oldest is Charles, the Prince of Wales and the heir to the throne. Charles married Lady Diana Spencer in 1981 and she became Princess Diana of course. They had two children. The first is William, now the Duke of Cambridge and married to Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge. They have three children. The oldest is George and he is third in line to the throne after Charles and William.
Charles and Diana’s second child is Harry who is now married to Meghan Markle. Harry and Meghan are to some extent cut off from the royal family as they chose to leave their public duties fairly recently, and they were quite heavily criticised for that. William, Kate, Harry and Meghan don’t actually feature in the show, but they do come up in this conversation.
Charles and Diana’s marriage ended in divorce in 1992. Diana of course died tragically in a car crash in Paris in 1997.
Charles later married Camilla Parker-Bowles, who he had been romantically involved with since before he married Diana. Charles and Camilla are now known as the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall.
The Queen’s other children are Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.
That’s probably enough information about the family tree there, but I decided it was probably a good idea to remind you of their names and their positions in the family, just so you definitely know who we are talking about.
Anyway, I won’t go on much longer here in the introduction, except to say that my wife enjoys being on the podcast from time to time and she loves talking about this topic, but she’s a little bit self-conscious about speaking English in front of my entire audience like this. But I assured her that my audience are all lovely and non-judgemental and that she has nothing to worry about – so, listeners, don’t let me down. OK?
Right then, I hope you now can enjoy sharing some time with us in our living room, having quite a long and rambling conversation about The Crown and all things Royal and here we go…
That moment when Charles said “Whatever love means anyway…”
When The Queen met Michael Fagan after he broke into her bedroom
There’s nothing more for me to add here except this:
What do you think about all of this? I mean about the royal family and all that stuff. Do you feel sympathy for the individual members of the family? Have you seen The Crown? What do you think of it?
We didn’t talk much about Margaret Thatcher, played in this series by Gillian Anderson who first became known for playing Scully in The X Files. We are fans of hers, and my wife thinks her performance in the show was great. I’m not so sure. I partially agree. Anyway, we couldn’t cover everything in this conversation.
Finally, what do you think – should I do an episode all about the Prince Andrew interview on the BBC?
⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ YOU CAN VOTE AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE ⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️
This is an episode about the WISBOLEP competition and it is your first chance to listen to recordings sent by listeners and vote for who you think should be on LEP.
Just in case you haven’t heard previous episodes or you got abducted by aliens or something and you don’t know – WISBOLEP means “Why I should be on LEP” and it is a competition which I launched in episode 681 as a way to invite one LEPster onto the podcast to be interviewed in a full episode.
Also thank you if you listened to me talking in episode 687 about the possible options (options 1- 4) for the next stage of this competition, and thank you to those of you who gave your input in the form of comments and emails.
After thinking about it, scratching my head and trying my best to do this in the most fair way possible I have now made my decision about how to proceed with the competition.
In the end I’ve gone for a combination of Option 3 and Option 4 which I outlined in episode 687.
I just decided that this was the best way to do it, and I’ve made my decision and I’m sticking to it.
Here is that decision.
My decision for WISBOLEP
I’m being the judge for round 1 – in fact I’ve already done it.
I have now listened to all the recordings in round 1 (and there were 101 recordings in total). I’ve listened to them all a few of times, and I’ve chosen 16 people who will go through to round 2.
I made an executive decision and narrowed it down to 16. I think in episode 687 I said it would be 20 recordings, but I decided even that 20 would be a few too many and that I had to do my best to narrow it down even further to 16.
So, I’ve done the unenviable task of whittling down 101 entries to just 16 and these are the 16 people you can vote for – and you will be able to listen to their individual recordings a bit later in this episode, after I’ve done a bit of explaining.
I must say, choosing 16 candidates out of 101 was not an easy decision to make at all, but I think that ultimately doing it this way is the best way.
Why wasn’t it easy Luke? Why was it difficult?
It wasn’t difficult to listen to them all. That was great. But the tricky part is that there were so many great recordings that I had to reject. The general standard of entries was really high this time, so while attempting to select just 16 people, I had to reject lots of entries which I still thought were really strong.
Profuse apology warning
I just know I am going to feel a strong urge to constantly apologise to the 85 people who I didn’t select. I’m really sorry you didn’t get picked, and you are probably going to hear me say that a few times as you listen to this.
“It’s ok Luke – no need to apologise too much, we understand”
Ah, thank you for saying that. It reassures me.
Why have I chosen to do it this way?
(No voting in round 1, me choosing the final 16 myself)
The reason for that is that there were so many recordings that I couldn’t think of a fair way to organise it.
If I’d asked you the audience to listen to all 101 recordings, it wouldn’t have worked.
There was no way I could run the competition fairly in that way, asking the audience to listen to every single one of the 101 recordings and then choosing one person from that long list. I don’t think people would have listened to all 101 recordings, and they might not have remembered them all if they did. So I think you can see that voting like that just wouldn’t work.
So I had to be very selective myself first, which as I said, was not fun. Well – the selection process wasn’t fun. Listening to all the recordings from lovely LEPsters has been amazing (and you can still listen to them all – details in a minute). But having to reject so many of them was not a pleasure for me. But, so be it.
Can I just be super clear then…
A quick summary – Just to re-cap
I received 101 recordings, but you’re not voting for the 101.
I’ve selected 16 recordings for round 2. You’re going to listen to them (in this episode) and vote for them. www.teacherluke.co.uk/wisbolep
Then a winner will be chosen based on those results and I’ll interview that person in an episode.
I think I will probably have 2 runners-up as well, who will get half an episode each.
But Luke, what about the other 85 recordings?
85 AMAZING LEPSTERS STILL WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION
I have not just thrown away all those other recordings that I didn’t choose. I didn’t just throw them in the bin. I’ve published them all on my website and in the LEP App, and you can listen to them all if you want. And I highly recommend that you do that. You can listen to 85 LEPsters who are still very worthy of your attention, and there is some sumptuous video footage there too for you to enjoy while you listen.
You will find all the recordings on the website in one long YouTube video (with timecodes so you can skip to different LEPsters quite easily if you like) and that video also includes a few little comments from me after each recording. Actually, this video turned into something amazing. Let me tell you about it. This is the WISBOLEP Round 1 video “85 Amazing LEPsters still worthy of your attention”.
You can see the video at the bottom of this page.
What happened was, I collected the 85 entries and then recorded myself playing them all one after the other, and I added little comments after each one. The whole track is about 3 and a half hours long and it’s just audio. The plan was to put it up on YouTube so I could embed it on the website page as an unlisted video. Originally I planned to just have a single static image on the screen (like my normal audio episodes on YouTube) but when I was editing it all together I thought “I wonder if I can find some video footage to accompany this recording?” So I found loads of stock video footage – video footage of things like British landscapes & monuments, street scenes in various parts of the UK, drone footage of the British countryside, some footage from other parts of the world. I collected over 3 hours of it and then added the audio track on top. The result is quite mesmerising. You can listen to all the 85 rejected recordings and my comments while gazing at stunning views of Scottish mountains, cosy English villages, the busy streets of London and other locations. I really recommend that you watch it.
You will find that video embedded on the page for this episode (at the bottom). The link to the YouTube video is in the show notes for this episode, and I’m also adding the audio track into the LEP app, as an app-only episode, so you can listen in the app if you want, and you can pause and it will remember where you stopped just like a normal episode.
So that’s the WISBOLEP Round 1 recordings “85 Amazing LEPsters still worthy of your attention”. No voting, but you can listen to them and I hope you do. The voices of 85 LEPsters from around the world who are charming, funny, who have little stories to share and who have had success in their English learning journeys. Link in the description, embedded video on the website page for this episode, audio in the app-only category in the LEP App. Check it out!
Here’s how the rest of this episode is going to work
In a moment I’m going to say some specific things for the 85 people who sent recordings but didn’t get picked for round 2. Then we’re going to move on to round 2 – that’s the voting round.
I’m going to give you some advice for making your votes.
We’re going to listen to the 16 recordings.
Then you can vote for your favourites on the website (at the bottom of this page).
I hope you listen to all of this because I want you to know my decision making process, and also I really want you to listen to all the competition entries for round 2 in order to be able to vote.
1. Some words for those people not chosen for round 2
I’m now talking about the 85 people who have not been chosen for round 2.
First and foremost I want to say a big well-done to everyone who took part and sent me recordings. Seriously → Well done. You did really well. I am really impressed by the general standard this time.
I really want everyone who sent me recordings to know that I am your fan, and that I hope that everyone who listens to this podcast – all the LEPsters – I hope that they actually choose to listen to all of the recordings that have been sent to me. It’s not difficult – the recordings are just a click away – as I outlined a moment ago.
The responsibility to actually listen to all those other recordings is now over to you – the audience. It’s your choice.
Again, those of you who sent me recordings, I want to say well done for going out of your comfort zone, making the effort and taking the time to do that.
Even if you haven’t been selected for round 2, I want you to know that I think you are great. There are plenty of recordings that I didn’t pick which are still excellent. You are all interesting and inspiring for me. I wonder if I could do the same thing in French, so please know and remember that I’m proud of you and you deserve to feel really good about entering the competition in the first place.
You probably want to know my reasons for choosing the 16 people, or not choosing 85 people. I’ll explain in a few minutes.
Why 16, Luke? Why not 20 or even 25?
The reason for choosing 16 is to make it much easier for all the LEPsters who will now have to choose their favourite in the next round. I think that limiting the number of people will make it much more practical for you the audience. Also, it will make the voting more fair. If there were too many people in round 2, it would be too difficult to listen to all the recordings, too hard to remember them all, and therefore too hard to choose.
How did I choose the 16 people? What’s my criteria?
As a teacher I don’t like rejecting people – because my job is to be encouraging, to help build people’s confidence and maintain their motivation. As well as instructing people in the ways of the English language, and correcting people and so on, my job as an English teacher is also to give my students a confidence boost. So, it has not been great fun for me to essentially say “no” to 85 people.
The criteria for my decision were simply these questions: (and I want you to think about these things when you come to vote for your favourites after listening to this episode fully).
Who do I think would be a good guest on the podcast? Who would I like to hear more from? Who do I think my audience would like to hear more from?
This is based on more than just the standard of English on display. Ultimately, it’s about connection not perfection. It’s about what you say, not just how you say it. Here’s the thing. In the end, English is just a tool. It’s a tool that we use to communicate ideas, to help people, and to connect with people, to get things done. I wanted to reflect that in the choices I made and try to pick people who have particularly specific, insightful, inspiring or entertaining things to say. Now, I don’t mean that language ability is not important. Of course it is important because having sufficient control over the language helps you to achieve things in English – it helps you make connections, it helps you effectively communicate ideas. But remember that it’s the ideas, the connections, the enjoyment – these are the important things. So, to what extent are these things being achieved?
Who has insightful things that the audience might want to hear? Who can share some really useful or interesting things about learning English? Who has some interesting or entertaining stories to share? Who grabbed my attention?
I keep saying this has been difficult because I’m worried that the people who didn’t make it to the final 16 – that you will feel like your recordings didn’t meet any of these criteria – but in many cases, they did. It was hard specifically because so many recordings did suggest insightful, interesting and entertaining things – but because I was forcing myself to narrow down the list to 16 I couldn’t pick them all.
You will see that even with just 16 candidates it will be really hard to choose a favourite. You will almost definitely want to hear more from almost everyone and I’m sure there will also be people from the 85 recordings that didn’t qualify who you will also want to hear more from.
Disclaimer – No level assessments, language feedback or error correction
I think that some of you probably expect me to give English assessments of the competition entries. You might want me to comment on things like the accent, grammar or vocabulary of each participant, perhaps giving level assessments.
Well, I am afraid that I am not able to do that. I’m not giving full responses/feedback to all the competition entries.
So if you are expecting to get an assessment of the English of each person, sorry – it’s not going to happen.
That’s not the purpose of the competition, and I believe that kind of language assessment is a very personal thing, a complex thing and also a professional thing and since this is not a level-checking test, or an official English proficiency test, or an IELTS speaking exam or a level-placement interview that I might do at school, I’m not going to go through that process.
You’ve heard me explain my criteria for choosing candidates, and so that is all I am going to comment on.
I really want to encourage you to start developing your own sense of assessment, anyway.
And by assessment I mean judging the quality of someone’s English.
Let me refer again to this idea that it’s all about successfully communicating ideas and emotions. The ability to grab people’s attention, make connections with people, to communicate ideas and feelings in a clear and concise way.
This is the ultimate assessment of someone’s English. It’s the end result.
Also, I am not going to do error correction at this stage. Some of you will hear errors and you’ll want them to be corrected. I understand that.
I’m not doing error correction in these competition episodes, but I am planning to do it in a premium episode. I’ve been noting down certain language errors while listening in order to collate them and then I will record a language-oriented premium episode involving error corrections, but I will do it anonymously. I won’t name names. That’s just what I’ve decided to do and that is that. So, an anonymous error correction episode will arrive in the premium section after doing this competition.
So, from now onwards I would like you to turn down the volume on the “language judgement” part of your mind, and turn up the volume on the “community spirit” part. Let’s enjoy hearing from all these fellow LEPsters from around the world and look forward to hearing more from one of them in an upcoming conversation.
2. Round 2 – The voting round
This is where you finally get the chance to listen to those 16 recordings and then vote.
I’m going to play them all to you in just a few minutes.
How to choose
Simply this: Who do you want to hear more from? Do you want to know more about a particular person? Maybe they have hinted at a story that you’d like to hear. Maybe they have insights into learning that you’d like to hear about. Who would you like to hear talking to me in a full interview?
Remember – it isn’t about who has the best English per se, although this may be a factor.
It’s more about whose story you want to hear the most. Remember: Connection, not perfection. [Thanks “All Ears English Podcast” :) ]
Who is the most the most intriguing, the most interesting, the most likeable, the most engaging, the most sincere, the most insightful or just the most enjoyable person to listen to? Who has the most potential for a good conversation with me?
Prepare to make a note (mental note or written note) of the people you want to choose. When you hear someone you might vote for, note down their name / nationality / other details.
Then go to the voting page and select the ones you noted. Yes I am saying “ones” and “people” because you will be able to vote for more than one person.
You can vote for up to 5 people
You can only submit your vote once and you can’t change it after you have clicked “Vote”, so be sure about your selection.
You won’t be able to see the results of the voting until the voting has closed.
The voting closes on Sunday 6 December at midnight CET.
3. Let’s listen to the 16 recordings (Finally!!)
Here are the 16 recordings for round 2. These are the people you can vote for.
I will say the person’s Name & Nationality or any other remarkable features, and then their recording.
I won’t make any other comments after them, because I don’t want to influence your decision. I will only say things to help you remember who you heard.
I am presenting them in alphabetical order by first name.
If you want to hear these recordings again, you can find them all on the page for this episode. Just go there [www.teacherluke.co.uk/wisbolep] and you can listen to them as many times as you like. You will find the audio and the voting form at the bottom of the page. You’ll need to scroll past the transcript I’m reading from.
Remember, if you sent a recording and you’re not here (that’s most of you) – please do not feel too disappointed. It’s quite possible that your recording was also fantastic – but, you know, I forced myself to pick 16. This is the way.
*Play recordings – they’re all available at the bottom of this page, with the voting form*
One thing is clear from listening to these recordings
It is possible to improve your English to a really good level in adulthood, and you can do it in your own way.
4. VOTING IS NOW OPEN – Please vote for your favourites
What happens next?
When the voting is closed on SUNDAY 6 DECEMBER AT MIDNIGHT (CET), we will see who has the most votes.
If it’s a draw, I will cast the decisive vote.
The winner will be featured in a full episode. It’ll be a conversation between me and the winner.
I also plan to feature the two runners-up in an episode too (they’ll get half an episode each).
Reminder: If you want to listen to those 16 people again, you can find the individual recordings on the page for this episode (with the voting form)
Well done to everyone for taking part in this competition.
I want to urge you to also check out the other recordings “WISBOLEP ROUND 1 – 85 LEPSTERS STILL WORTHY OF YOUR ATTENTION” (video below) and enjoy the nice views in the video.
Feel free to leave your comments in the comment section as usual.
For the 85 other LEPsters – I must say I am still curious about what they have to say and I think they could be very interesting to hear from. I have suggested that they record themselves and make the recording into a YouTube video which I can then share on the website. Perhaps if someone out there already has their own podcast or would like to start one they could consider interviewing some of the people who took part in this competition.
I will let you get in touch with each other in the comment section of this episode. Please feel free.
That’s it! Please vote, please listen to all the other recordings and please be excellent to each other!
I will speak to you again about WISBOLEP after 6 December, when the results are in!
Audio version (also available in the App-only episodes category of the LEP App)
I’m curious to read your comments and responses to this conversation in light of the things I said in the introduction.
I would like to say again – if you have ANY questions about behaviour, customs or culture in the UK which you don’t understand or find frustrating – please write them in the comment section. I would be glad to try and answer your questions both in the comment section and potentially in a whole podcast episode.
Actually, I have done episodes about culture shock in the UK before, because I think, to be honest, I’ve probably heard all the comments, complaints, grumbles, gripes, questions and criticisms before – and so I have dealt with a lot of that stuff in previous episodes, but nevertheless I am very curious to see if I have any listeners who have experienced British culture shock. Ask me your questions and I will try my best to explain my country and my culture. This is my job, to an extent! So go ahead.
By the way, the specific episodes I did in the past about culture shock in England are episodes 192 and 193 – entitled “Culture Shock London” (focusing mainly on life in the capital city actually) and to give you an idea of the things I talked about in those episodes, here’s a little list. This is a list of some of the most common questions and complaints I have heard from foreign visitors in my country.
Questions / Complaints I have heard about London/The UK
Why do you have two separate taps in the bathroom rather than one single mixer tap? (This question has haunted me for many years actually)
Why don’t you have electrical sockets in the bathroom? I want to dry my hair with my hair dryer or use my hair straighteners but there’s no plug in the bathroom. How do British people manage this? How do you live like this??
Why is your food so plain and unhealthy?
Why is your weather quite miserable?
Why do you drive on the left? It’s like you do everything differently here.
Your trains are often late, delayed, overcrowded and too expensive. Why is this?
Why are there so many foreigners in London? I haven’t met a “real English person” yet.
Why are the houses and flats in London so old and draughty, with windows that don’t keep out the cold and yet the rent is so expensive?
Why don’t people talk to each other on the Underground, it’s like everyone’s ashamed or something, and it’s really hard to make friends with people. English people are so reserved. It’s like they’re impossible to make friends with.
Why don’t people carry umbrellas all the time, even when it’s raining?
The internet is too slow here.
You just don’t make any effort to speak other languages here. It’s just ENGLISH, and that’s it. Also, people don’t make any effort to help me when I’m trying my best to talk to them in their language.
Why oh why do the pubs close at 11PM!?? I’m just getting ready to go out at 11!
Why do you eat dinner so early?
Why do English people go to the pub after work and just drink and drink and drink, standing up, without eating. It’s not very civilised.
Cigarettes are ridiculously expensive.
When English people do the washing up (the dishes), they use too much soap and then don’t rinse the soap off when they’ve finished. That’s like leaving chemicals all over your plates.
Why do you have carpet everywhere – even in the toilet sometimes, that seems unhygienic.
Why don’t you take your shoes off when you enter a house? That’s like bringing the dirt from the street into your home!
The British have a weird sense of humour. “What is this? British humour?”
If those are some of the complaints or questions in your head, then you might want to listen to episodes 192 and 193 to hear my full responses.
But also, feel free to write new questions or indeed any responses you have in the comment section.
That’s pretty much it for this episode.
Cara’s chat with a Spanish friend attempting to adapt to life in the USA
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This is a weird period of history in which we are living? I hope you’re getting on ok. Here in France the government has just put some new lockdown restrictions in place and we’re all trying to work out what they really mean. I don’t want to go on about covid on this podcast too much, except to say “hang in there everyone” and keep calm and carry on. Check out my episode from earlier this year which is all about language for talking about lockdown and dealing with lockdown, including the word lockdown, if you’re wondering what that is.
Here’s an episode in which I’m on my own, doing a bit of housekeeping – general podcast admin. I’m mainly going to talk about the WISBOLEP competition (as you can see from the title of the episode), but also I’m going to ramble about a few other things too including teaching you a bit of English – just some simple advice about making polite requests, also an inspiring message from a listener and maybe a song on the guitar at the end, we will see.
I’m publishing this episode hot on the heels of the last episode, which was my conversation with Christian from Canguro English (LEP686). Have you heard that? I only published it a few days ago and conventional podcasting wisdom says that you shouldn’t publish another episode so quickly after the last one, because the last one will sort of get ignored, lost, forgotten or sidelined as people won’t notice it and it won’t get as many listens as it should.
I think it’s a good episode, so if you haven’t heard it – be sure to listen to episode 686 with Christian. There’s also a video version of it on YouTube. It’s had a great response with people saying generally positive things, which is nice. Some people are requesting more video content. My position on this is that most of my content will always be audio, because that’s what I do – I make audio content, but every now and then I’ll do video versions of episodes and stick them on YouTube as well. OK. So subscribe to LEP on YouTube to make sure you get notified when I publish a video episode. I’ll probably tell you on the podcast too.
Also the episode before last has had some really interesting comments on the website. That was the episode about bilingual children in which we heard Alex in Moscow and his daughter Alice. Very interesting to read the comments from LEPsters or LEPlanders who are also bringing up their kids to speak English. Go to the episode archive and find 685 and read the comments. It’s all interesting stuff. I will do more of those bilingual kids episodes at some point. It’s a bit hard to mentally keep track of everything. There are a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-yous – a lot strands in this old dude’s head, man.
The deadline for sending in your entries was 15 October, so that’s long gone. One person is now freaking out.
The results aren’t ready yet or anything. You still have to vote for your favourites and all that – “how can we vote?” Steady on, the voting’s not ready yet either. All in good time.
All the recordings are sitting there in my inbox and I haven’t had a proper chance to work on the next stage of the competition yet. Things take time around here, you know how it is.
First of all I should say that it was great to get all the entries. I’ve managed to listen to almost all of them. I should say that it’s amazing to hear the voices of some of my listeners (some of them – obviously only a tiny portion of you sent in recordings because the vast majority of you are ninjas as we know, and that’s fine). It’s inspiring to hear little snippets of people’s stories of learning English, with the help of this podcast in many cases. That’s also quite flattering – that’s not the point of it all of course – just to flatter me or something. The point was to encourage you to step out of your comfort zone a little bit and record something and send it in, to celebrate my audience a bit and also to just find a new guest with an interesting story to tell in an episode of the podcast. I want to say well done for everyone who plucked up the courage to record a sincere entry into the competition. Some of them are particularly inventive and… well, you will see.
It’s going to be very difficult to choose a winner, because there are quite a lot of really interesting people and I’m sure you are going to want to hear more from many of them.
But the thing is, I have a bit of a problem. We have a bit of a problem with this competition. It’s a logistical issue. Logistical refers to the organisation of something complicated.
It’s not a major problem. It’s not like a Tom Cruise jump out of a plane to save-the-world Mission Impossible to problem or anything – no explosions. It’s quite a good problem really, but still, I’ve been scratching my head and wondering what to do about it.
What’s the problem Luke?
The problem is… I’ve had 100 entries – each one 2 minutes in length – that’s about 200 minutes in total, and that’s about 3 and a half hours if I play all the entries back to back without any pause or comment from me between them and without any introduction from me, and I will have to do some kind of introduction at the start, and it will also be necessary for me to say the names of each person again plus maybe one or two other things to help you remember them.
So, 200 minutes or 3.5 hours, plus an introduction in which I explain the voting rules etc, and little comments from me – that’s at least 4 hours of audio.
It’s too much, isn’t it? It’s too much audio for me to expect everyone to listen to. And I need everyone to listen to it all because I want to do some kind of fair voting process for this. Hmmm.
I like doing long episodes, but this goes beyond that, especially since I would like every single two-minute entry to be heard and you’ll need to remember which one or ones are your favourites in order to vote for them on my website.
Imagine a presidential election with 100 candidates, all presenting themselves to you one after the other. You’d never remember who they were, even if they were all extraordinary.
So this is the issue. Too many entries. It’s become a bit of a logistical nightmare.
It’s my fault. I take full responsibility of course. I set the 2-minute time limit for each recording because I thought you’d need that long to say something meaningful.
What did I expect though? For some reason I thought not many people would enter, but I don’t know why I thought that. I should have known that I’d get at least 100 entries!
Anyway, what’s the problem? You might think.
Let’s go through the options I have ahead of me now and we’ll see.
Why am I telling you this?
Transparency – I want everyone to know what’s going on, so that I don’t get loads of messages from people asking my why I’m doing it this way, and not that way and why didn’t you do this, and I thought you would do that, and I’m disappointed with this and why didn’t you play my recording, and I thought you’d play them all, and I was disappointed by the last Star Wars film and English is too complicated because the spelling and pronunciation are weird and there are too many accents and why can I understand you Luke but I don’t understand other native speakers and can you explain the Russian Joke and why why why and all that kind of stuff.
To avoid confusion and questions, I want you to know the situation like I do.
Also I’m curious to see what you think and I would like you to tell me your thoughts because it can help me make the right decision. (although to be honest I think I’ve already made up my mind)
I’d like to have some input from you but ultimately, I do maintain supreme executive power, so I will still do what I personally think is best, but nevertheless, I am interested in your ideas and I want you to know my decision making process.
Some of you will think this is all unnecessary and that I’m overthinking it, but I disagree. I think it’s necessary and I’m applying the appropriate amount of thinking and talking time to this. So there.
The main things we need to do are:
I want you, the audience, to be able to hear all the entries that have been sent to me (because I think people sent them to me with the understanding that they would be published for public scrutiny) and I want you to be able to vote for your favourites, rather than it just being a solo decision from me.
I would like to give an introduction before playing all the entries, because there are things I need to say about the voting process and stuff like that. Also I would like to make one or two little comments after some or all of the entries, as well as repeating the names of the contestants. All those things will increase the time this will all take, of course – so we’re looking at 4hours plus in total.
Then, based on the voting by you the audience, I will interview the winner. There might be a couple of runners up too, we will see.
I want to do this in a way which is fair, and which gives everyone an equal chance (because I am committed to maintaining some democratic standards in this world!)
Here are the different options which I’m considering. None of them are perfect, because of the whole “too many entries” issue. (by the way, saying “too many” does sound negative, but like I said before, this is quite a good problem in a sense. It’s a bit like having too much chocolate in your cupboard or something, or too much cake. Oh we’ve got too much cake! When and how will we eat it all? We can’t throw it away can we?) You see? Yes, you see. The cake metaphor is good.
So, the options I’m considering. And I’ll say right now that I think I’m going to choose option 4. Anyway, here we go.
I play all the entries (in alphabetical order, or chronological order) in one single epically long episode – probably about 4 hours long or more.
Problem: This is obviously far too long and just not a practical length for one single episode of the podcast. The chances are, people will not listen to the whole thing and most of the entries will not be heard and so the voting will be unfair.
I play all the entries, but in a series of episodes (that all get uploaded on the same day). It would probably be 5 or 6 episodes → Introduction, WISBOLEP 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5. 20 entries in each episode. Each episode is about 45 minutes long.
Problem: It’s more or less the same as option 1. Will people listen to all the entries? The people in parts 4 and 5 might not get as much attention as the ones in the first part.
Also, I have to say that I have to be a bit careful about what I publish to my podcast feed.
Dropping 5 episodes of only competition entries into my podcast feed is not the greatest idea – and I say that as a podcaster and podcasters must be fairly careful about what they publish. I have to be honest, I think that the majority of my audience aren’t that invested in the competition and the entries.
I have a survey on my website asking people to vote for their favourite types of episode (find it in the CONTANT section) and this kind of episode – competition entries from listeners – is actually the least popular type of episode that I do. I like doing them, but I have to make sure I do it right. I think the reason this type of episode got low votes in my survey is because the last time I did this (YEP competition) I published all the entries from round 1 (8 episodes in total, all in a row) and it probably wasn’t what a lot of people wanted in their podcast feed. I shouldn’t really do that again.
I choose what I think are the best entries and create a shortlist of something like 20 entries, and play them in one episode, and let people vote on just those 20.
Problem: 80 people’s entries just get rejected and never get played or published in any way, which is a pity and I think that would disappoint about 80 people who took the time to record something thinking that it would appear on LEP. I don’t think I ever said that all the entries were guaranteed to be played on the podcast, but I may have given that impression.
This would essentially solve the main problem of there being too many entries, but I don’t really want to just just chuck 80 recordings in the bin. Those people recorded them expecting them to be heard by more than just me.
I create two rounds of voting.
The first round is done on the website only, meaning that all the entries are posted on my website but not played in an episode of the podcast.
That way, the people who really want to listen to all the entries and vote for them, can do it by going to the website and listening there. I would probably post all the audio as an unlisted YouTube video because I can create time stamps for each entry, making it easier for you to find them and hear them.
So, the episodes would all be available for listening on the website (so they are made publically available) and people can vote for their favourites there. The winners of the first round could be decided by a combination of votes from listeners and my own choices.
Round 2 would be something like the most popular 20 entries from round 1 and all of them would be played in an episode of the podcast.
This would make it much easier for the whole audience to vote.
The winner of round 2 would be interviewed on the podcast.
It might be possible for some runners up to be featured too.
So, which option do you prefer?
To be honest, I’m leaning towards option 4. I think I’m going to choose option 4 but I’d also like to run it by you to see what you all think.
The chances are, you’ll all have different opinions and different advice, which is fine.
I get the final say and you’ll just have to trust me on that.
Let me just recap
Option 1 – one mammoth 4 hour episode with all the entries. No.
Option 2 – one mammoth 5-part WISBOLEP series. I don’t fancy it.
Option 3 – I choose the top 20 entries and publish them, and just bin the rest, never to be heard by the public.
Option 4 – Put all the entries on the website and those people who want to listen to every single one, can do it, and they can vote too.The most popular 20 (let’s say) will then be published in a single WISBOLEP episode for the second round of voting. The selection process will be based on a combination of the listener voting and my own judgement (which will probably be more or less the same I expect).
Again, some of you might say I’m overthinking this whole thing. But I’m just trying to do it properly and fairly.
I think I’m going to choose option 4, but as I said, let me know your thoughts.
You might have an idea for an option 5 for example, so feel free to share that.
But do bear in mind that I also have to limit the time and cost that is involved on my side for this.
For example, if your idea for Option 5 could be for me to do a YouTube live stream in which I play all the entries one by one, with some comments from me… well, that could be fun, but it would also mean me live streaming on YouTube for a lot more than 4 hours probably, and it’s rare that I ever get 4 free consecutive hours in my life these days! So, that would just not be practical from my side. [Do it at night!] No, sorry. I need my beauty sleep.
My name is Luke not Luck / look / Mr Luke / luke (lower case L) or Luke’s
I’ve been doing this for 11.5 years, nearly 700 episodes (a lot more in fact) and I’m still talking about how to spell my name (I remember saying this in episode 1 of the podcast).
People often spell my name Luck → but maybe it’s autocorrect!
Proofread your emails and comments before you send them! (advice for us all)
So this whole “Luck English Postcard” thing might just be a conspiracy by computers and phones that are “just trying to make the world a better place” by helping us with our spelling (and yes, “postcard” is often what people type when they mean podcast – maybe that’s because they think the word is postcard – it is the sort of word people learn in lower-level English classes, or it’s because your computer doesn’t have very good English and it’s “helpfully” autocorrecting podcast to postcard. I don’t know.)
Having said that, I remember many many times when I was actually called Luck, look, ruku or rook or whatever by learners from around the world that I have met, but again that’s probably because it’s hard to pronounce Luke, or people don’t realise that Luke is a name and they think my name is Luck.
For example, if I was learning Chinese or Russian or any other language with words that look different to English I am sure I would make similar errors and worse probably. I do it in French.
Basically, what I’m saying is I forgive you. But please do remember to proofread your emails and comments. ;)
Making Polite Requests
Another language point here with reference to people getting in touch with me: making requests.
People often request certain things from me. Like for example they’re very keen to hear me talk about a certain topic.
Luke, make an episode about Peaky Blinders.
Luke, do more videos.
Luke, publish an episode about Ricky Gervais.
Honestly, when I read that, probably in the queue at the supermarket or something, my first reaction is “no”. “No-one tells me what to do! … well, except maybe my daughter, and my wife, and my boss at work, and the government, and.. well ok fine, some people tell me what to do, but you get the point.”
Even though I would quite like to do an episode about Peaky Blinders, or Ricky Gervais and I like doing videos when I can.
My first, stressed out, overloaded mind, trying to not catch COVID reaction is “no – don’t tell me what to do!”
I think this is just because of the way the request has been presented to me.
In most cases, when people request things from me, I am sure they are being very well-meaning and there is no malice behind it at all, quite the opposite. They’re showing their enthusiasm and it’s motivated by positive feelings. They like the podcast and would love to hear something about Peaky Blinders or whatever it is.
What I’m saying is, think about how you word your requests.
Think of the difference between a request and an order (or an imperative).
Requests are polite (they should be), orders are not really polite. Orders are what the police do, for example. “Get in the back of the van!”
I could get into the fine details and all the linguistic specifics, but this is not LEP Premium, so let’s just keep it simple.
Order / imperative
Make an episode about Ricky Gervais.
Even your boss at work doesn’t use imperatives.
“Write this report and send it to me by 5pm Friday, and also come in to work on Sunday, we need you.” –> if you work in a horrible place with a boss who doesn’t care about your feelings even a little bit.
Usually bosses will at least sugarcoat their requests a little bit, to help the medicine go down.
“If you could wrap up this report and ping it to me by end of play on Friday, that would be great, and I’m afraid you’re going to have to come in on Sunday – there’s nothing we can do about it – I’ll see if I can get you a day off later in the year maybe.”
Let’s consider how to turn an imperative into a simple and polite request.
Luke, make a new video with Amber and Paul.
You could add a “please” to that, because we all know that adding please makes it more polite, right?
Luke, please make a new video with Amber and Paul.
That’s better, but adding please to an order isn’t enough. It is still an order, and it just sounds like you are a rich person giving commands to a member of staff or something.
Also, adding thanks at the end makes it sound a bit dismissive and a little bit rude even.
Luke, please reunite the Beatles on the podcast. Thanks.
Saying thanks for something before it’s been done, I think, sounds a bit pushy. It’s like assuming it’s going to be done.
We sometimes write “Thanks in advance” at the end of an email with a request, but it can still come across as a bit pushy. [Thinks: I need to do an online course about writing emails…]
The issue is with the structure. Any imperative structure still sounds quite rude even if you add lots of stuff at the start or end, because it is still an imperative. It’s still an order.
Luke, please consider making an episode about James Bond. [good, you’ve added “please consider” – a nice bit of hedging but you’re still ordering me to do it.]
Luke, if you have time, please consider making an episode about James Bond. [“If you have time” is a thoughtful thing to add, but again this is still an order.]
Both those things are better, but this is still not what I’m looking for.
What are you looking for Luke?
You need to make your request into a question. To cut a long story short I just recommend that you add “Could you” at the start and “please” at the end. That’s it. That’s probably enough, probably. Don’t forget the question mark.
Luke, could you make an episode about Ricky Gervais please?
This is much better. It just comes across as much more polite and nice and I don’t feel like I’m being ordered to do something. I’m more willing to have an instantly positive response to that.
Even better would be a bit more hedging (adding things before or after the main statement), just to show more respect.
You don’t have to go too far.
Luke, your podcast is a work of genius unrivalled in all forms of art, culture and human endeavor, and I am certain that in your infinite wisdom have you have considered all possible topics for an episode of your esteemed podcast. Having said that, and I pose this most humble of requests to you with the deepest level of respect, sir, would it be at all possible if you could consider spending even a tiny speck of your most valuable time on the consideration of an episode devoted to the subject of Richard Gervais. I am certain that you would bring new insights and depth to this topic, and that all other commentary on it would pale in comparison to the profound work that you would undoubtedly produce.
That’s obviously too much.
But you could do this:
Hi Luke, thanks for your episodes. I particularly enjoy the ones about comedy, especially the one you did about Karl Pilkington. Could you do an episode about Ricky Gervais at some point, please? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on his stand up and TV shows. Don’t know if you’ve already considered that, but it would be really interesting to hear your thoughts.
Or, more simply – Luke, could you do an episode about Ricky Gervais please?
I know online culture is to just put things in the simplest and quickest way possible, but let’s not abandon the pragmatics of politeness in the process.
This is not just me by the way – I’m not just ultrasensitive or anything – this is a cultural thing and I think it’s true across the English speaking world.
Some of you might think that my comments here are waaaay too much and that it’s completely mad, unnecessary and over-sensitive to phrase your requests like this, but if you want my professional opinion I’d say → this is the right way to do it.
And that’s it.
Just to recap. If you are requesting something from me, just add “Could you…” at the start and “please?” at the end. Nice one.
Inspiring message from Daniel ER on Facebook
Dear luke, [actually it should be Luke with a captal L :) ]
I´m not sure whether you will have time to read this comment but here it goes anyway.
Three years ago, I got a ticket to Australia. With no English at all, I was determined to have an amazing adventure, live in another country, and obviously, learn English.
To be honest, it was really hard at the beginning. I had to play music in the street to earn some cash and I felt bad when I couldn´t say what I thought to the kind people of Australia.
Six months went by like nothing so I grabbed my backpack and accordion and took a road trip towards the north of Australia (Queensland).
I could [was able to] get a job in a resort as maintenance and although I [‘ve] gotta say that Australian English “is a thing”, all of them helped with my English, they were really patient with me.
Most of the time I was sad: People speak too fast, where is that accent from? What do you mean by “smoko” mate? It was then when I found your podcast. I had lots of time to listen to Spotify while I was fixing something at the resort so I took advantage of that. This really helped me a lot, I couldn´t be more grateful. I won´t forget episode 297 called “be positive” as I listened to it just on time, just when I was feeling that this fight wasn´t worth it.
Now, being fully aware that my English is not the best one, it is at least functional and that´s the point of all this, isn´t it? We must keep improving but at the end of the day you should be nicer to yourself, I mean that we have to recognize the achievements done so far.
I am back in my country (Chile) and I could [was able to] get an amazing job in which I speak English all day long, and you don´t know how awesome that is to me.
I honestly believe that maybe you are not fully aware of what do you actually do… you help people to achieve their dreams so be proud of all your efforts because we – your listeners- will be eternally grateful.
If someone out there is reading this comment and you are feeling frustrated and sad, just keep going! You can do this, it is not impossible and you have everything you need to learn this beautiful language. The key, in my opinion, you must be willing to go through the tough and uncomfortable moments that are on this path. You will remember them since they are the ones that teach us most. (quite sure I wrote that badly hahaha)
Thanks a lot for everything and I´ll certainly be listening to the podcast.
A conversation with English-teaching stand-up comedian Elspeth Graty, which covers lots of different topics including Elspeth’s background in England, teaching English, cultural differences, “French-bashing”, old-fashioned telephones and The Tellytubbies. Enjoy!
This podcast is made possible thanks to donations from lovely listeners (click a yellow PayPal button on the website if you’re feeling generous) and also the premium subscription, which costs, per month, slightly less than a pack of 80 Yorkshire Gold Teabags from Sainsbury’s. So if you would like to make sure I never run out of tea, then consider signing up.
There are now well over 100 audio and video episodes in the premium archive and you can access them all, plus new ones that are coming. That’s what you get when you become a premium lepster. To get all the information, including how it works and exactly how wonderfully reasonable the prices are – go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
How are you today? Doing alright all things considered? I do hope you’re managing to keep calm and carry on during this weird and difficult period of history that we are all experiencing.
Shall we start the episode? OK.
Here’s the second in a series of interviews I’ve been doing lately featuring people I’ve been meaning to talk to on the podcast for quite a while (quite a while — is that a short time or a long time? Quick answer: It means a long time.)
I just wanted to record natural conversations with some new guests so you can hear their voices, their stories, their thoughts so you can notice bits of language and practise your English listening as usual.
The first of these recent interviews was with Marie Connolly from Australia, which was the last episode of course. I hope you all enjoyed it.
This conversation is with a friend of mine called Elspeth who is from England.
Elspeth is an English teacher and she also does stand-up comedy in the evenings, which is how we met each other. Yep, she’s another English-teaching comedian friend of mine.
Explaining this episode’s title
The title of this episode is “Chasing the Tangent Train with Elspeth”.
The title is just a metaphor – please don’t expect a conversation about train travel!
It’s just a metaphor to explain the fact that this conversation is full of tangents and I hope you can keep up with it. In fact, it’s mainly tangents.
What is “a tangent”? Long term listeners should know this, but plenty of people won’t know so let me explain.
In a conversation, a tangent is when the topic changes to something quite different and seemingly not related to the main point of that conversation.
It’s when you digress from the main point, go away from the main point or get sidetracked.
“To go off on a tangent”
There are lots of tangents in this conversation. So, for the title of the episode, I was trying to think of a way to describe the experience that you will have of just following the changes in direction in a conversation and seeing where it goes.
I ended up with “chasing the train”, which is not actually an expression you will find in the dictionary – I made it up.
Let’s imagine, then, that this conversation is a train and it’s going down the tracks and every now and then it switches to new tracks and continues for a while, then it switches to another new track and then does it again, and again and so on. Can you keep up with the train? I think you get the idea.
My overall aim for this interview was mainly to get to know Elspeth in more depth and to capture an authentic conversation to help you learn English. That is the destination for this train journey. But as I said, the topics move around a bit, which is totally normal in a conversation. Just ask David Crystal, he wrote a book all about it and he’s a professor and definitely knows what he’s talking about.
What I’m getting at is that this might be hard for you to follow – depending on your level of English.
So you’ll have to focus.
Nevertheless, I can help you keep up with this if I let you know what the main changes will be in advance.
So I’m now going to give you a quick overview of the main changes in topic in this chat.
The main points in this conversation are, thus: (these aren’t spoilers)
We talk about
Where Elspeth comes from originally, and how her family moved around parts of England
Being the daughter of a vicar (that’s her, not me obviously) A vicar is a priest in the Anglican church – the church of England. The cliche of the typical English vicar is that they wear black with a little white collar, they’re often softly-spoken grey haired men with glasses who ride bicycles around their parish and love drinking tea, eating cake and generally worshipping god.
Our accents, which are not strongly affected by the region where we grew up (we actually come from the same general area in England)
Having harvest festivals at church when we were children
Then there’s a big, random tangent → Remembering the old dial telephones we had in our houses when we were children. Remember them? You had to put your finger in and turn numbers around a dial, and it went went kkkkkkkkk. You don’t remember? That must be because you’re young, or you’re old and you’ve lost your memory.
Services you could get on the old analogue telephones, like the operator (a person who you could speak to and who would deal with your telephone-related enquiries) and the talking clock (a recorded voice that was constantly telling the time and you could call a number and listen to it)
Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, which was almost destroyed during World War 2 but was rebuilt and is now definitely worth a visit if you’re in the city
Elspeth’s life in France, her French, and whether or not she feels French or English after living here for quite a long time
Some of the cultural differences between England and France that frustrate us a bit, like the usual things – being punctual, walking down the street and in particular, queueing – standing in line to wait for things in public
Teaching English to young engineers, and the challenges that French students have when learning English
Some of Elspeth’s experiences of learning French
How Elspeth can behave slightly differently in English and in French, especially when doing stand-up comedy in the two languages
Elspeth’s thoughts on her own clothing choices and fashion sense, and how people react to it, especially the Nike Air Max trainers that she wears
Teaching English online using Zoom – and what that is like
Doing stand-up (going on stage and telling people jokes and stories to make them laugh) and Elspeth’s favourite and least favourite things about doing that Where her inspiration for comedy material comes from and “flow activities” or being in a “flow state”
If there is a connection between stand-up and English teaching
A little story about The Tellytubbies that Elspeth uses in her English lessons, which makes the students laugh (The Tellytubbies is a children’s TV show) The story involves The Tellytubbies, William Shakespeare, the county of Warwickshire in England and April Fool’s Day. Basically, the county council of Warwickshire played an April fool’s trick on the people of Warwickshire, and it involved The Tellytubbies and Shakespeare, and people didn’t like it.
Why English people get into rages – like road rage, or trolly rage in the supermarket
The concept of French-bashing (criticising or making fun of the French and French culture) and why Parisians seem to complain about each other’s behaviour quite a lot (Parisians are people living in Paris)
How people’s behaviour in public in Paris compares to behaviour in the UK and in Tokyo
Things we love about France – because there’s a lot to love about this country too
Finally, a bit at the end where we both conclude that Paul Taylor is basically a cake – a delicious British cake.
Actually, reading out that list – it doesn’t seem like there are that many tangents, but there are tangents ok? What I’ve just given you there is the main flow of the conversation.
Right. Now that you have an overview of the track layout, let’s get this train rolling.
Let’s just get started. Here is my conversation with Elspeth, and here we go.
Luke’s fuddy-duddy slippers (a Christmas present from a couple of years ago)
Right, so that was my conversation with Elspeth. I enjoyed it a lot, especially because we have quite a lot in common, not least because we are from the same neck of the woods (a local area where someone lives).
How did you get on? Did you manage to follow it ok? Well, you must have done, because you made it. You’ve caught up with the train. You can have a rest now. Well done for keeping up.
I expect you’re getting out your phone now. If that’s what you’re doing, open up Instagram on your phone and check out Elspeth’s page, which is @elslostinfrance which I now realise would have been the perfect name for this episode, right?
I could do a lot of rambling on now, about all sorts of things, like what’s been going on and the WISBOLEP competition (which is now closed by the way – no more entries please. The deadline has passed, unless maybe you’re in a part of the world where it is still the 15th October – in which case, you have until midnight).
I’ve received loads of entries and let me tell you – it is going to be difficult to choose just one winner. There are so many really interesting recordings and stories of how people learned English and all kids of other things. It will be hard to pick just one person. Also I’m now wondering how I’m going to manage the whole thing. I’ve had nearly 90 entries. I don’t know why I didn’t expect to get so many. Each entry is about two minutes long and so – 180 minutes, even without my comments (and I really want to make even very short comments).
Shall I play them all on the podcast? That’s a lot, isn’t it?
I think the best way to do it might be to make a YouTube video of all the audio (if that makes sense) and then I can add time stamps for each person, which will make it much easier for everyone to find each recording.
In any case, I will find a way to manage this. It could take a while though, so be patient.
I do want to re-state that it has been amazing listening to all the recording (I’ve had brief listens to most of the recordings sent). There are some awesome people in my audience. I just want to give a shout out to anyone who sent in a recording. Well done for plucking up the courage to do that. The competition is going to be a bit of a celebration of my audience from around the world.
Not much more to add here, except the usual mention of LEP Premium which you can find out more about by going to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo I’ve been getting some very positive feedback about it. There are now over 100 episodes of LEPP now in audio and video form. Check it out to see what you’ve been missing.
I’ll be back again soon with another episode, perhaps one in which I just ramble on about all the stuff that I’ve been meaning to say on the podcast for a while, a few listener emails, some songs perhaps and more…
Let me say thank you again to Elspeth for her contribution to this episode. Thank you Elspeth.
Everyone: Hang in there. Keep your chin up.
Hey, do you want some anti-covid funk music to cheer you up? (Yeah)
OK. This is something that I recorded this morning. I probably should have been doing some work but after dropping off my daughter at school I suddenly felt compelled to play some bass, and one thing led to another and I ended up recording a little 2-minute funk groove. The drums are from a youtuber called Dimitri Fantini (link on the episode page). I needed a 90bpm 16-beat funk groove and he delivered. Credit to Dimitri for the drum track. I’ve added bass using my Mexican-made Fender P-Bass, some rhythm guitar with my Fender Stratocaster (also made in Mexico) as well as some string sounds which are from my Yamaha P-45 electric piano.
I called the track Funk in the Kitchen, because it’s supposed to make you dance in your kitchen, or indeed in any other location.
Brace yourselves – music is coming… In 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, let the funk commence…
Exploring the main differences between standard English pronunciation (RP) and non-standard regional or colloquial accents. How do people really speak in different parts of England, and how does this accent differ from the accent you probably hear in English language course books and dictionaries? Notes & videos available below.
Hello everyone, this episode is brought to you by LEP Premium which is my paid subscription service in which I focus on teaching you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation to really boost your English. It includes a big library of audio episodes, video episodes and PDFs plus new content arriving all the time. You get episodes in the LEP App or online. To get started go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
Hello and welcome to the podcast!
I hope you’re doing fine today. I’m alright thanks for asking. It’s a Thursday afternoon. I have finished my teaching for the day. I’m at home. I’ve had lunch. It’s now pouring with rain outside. The conditions are perfect for learning and teaching English in another new episode.
This one is going to be a deep dive into English accents and we’re going to look at some pronunciation features that are common in the non-standard forms of English accents, which basically means the regional accents that differ in various ways to standard English RP. This should help you identify key differences between RP and the other accents and remember – most people have a regional accent. RP isn’t actually that common. It’s only a small percentage of all the English speakers in the world, and yet the coursebooks, pronunciation guides, dictionaries and so on tend only to present RP as their model for learning English. As a result you might find it really hard to understand people speaking in the real world or in realistic TV shows and films. This episode is about helping you understand how non-standard English accents differ from RP.
Just before we start on that though, I just have three announcements and bits of podcast admin to make.
1. WISBOLEP – The New Deadline for the Competition is 15 October 2020.
The latest LEP competition is now open, since I launched it in the last episode. WISBOLEP. If you’re interested in taking part, just listen to the previous episode of this podcast to find out. I thought I wouldn’t get many entries, but of course I always underestimate this kind of thing.
Thank you for those of you who have entered the competition – I have already had more than I thought I would get. Now I’m worried that I’ll get too many entries. At this stage, the competition closes on 31 October but I have decided to bring forward the end date of the competition, otherwise I will get so many entries and I won’t be able to deal with them all.
So – is that clear? The new end date for WISBOLEP is midnight on 15 October 2020.
2. LEPster Meetup in Prague – Sat 17 October
I want to say “hello” to any LEPsters in Prague in the Czech Republic. Hello.
There is another LEPster meeting happening in Prague on Sat 17 Oct 2020, 5pm-10pm. I suggest you join in, speak English, meet some like-minded people and play some board games in English, which is a really great way to work on your communication skills because it’s fun and makes you use English in specific ways.
Date & Time: Sat 17 Oct, 5-10pm.
Venue: Bohemia Boards and Brews
Host: Zdenek Lukas
It’s a board game cafe. A lot of expats go there and the owner is American.
Join a Facebook group called Prague Lepsters and sign in there because of the reservation and/or send me an email at email@example.com.
3. Listen to Luke on the IELTS Speaking for Success Podcast
Recently I was interviewed on the IELTS Speaking for Success podcast, which is co-hosted by Maria Molashenko. The podcast is all about succeeding in the IELTS test, but our episode was all about how to use podcasts to improve your speaking. We talked about approaches to using podcast episodes to learn English in various ways, including listening passively and actively and specific techniques you can use. Maria is a successful language learner herself (and she’s a LEPster) and she has loads of good input too. So, you could listen to that. It’s for everyone hoping to improve their English with podcasts. Also, there’s a PDF summary of all our advice, which you can download free. Find both the audio and the PDF linked on the page for this episode on my website, or search your generic podcast app for IELTS speaking for success. I was in Series 4 Episode 10 “Learning English Through Podcasts”.
This episode is all about English accents – the regional versions that exist all over the country, and how they generally differ from a standard English accent like mine for example.
We’ll be looking at some very common features of English that are very typical in England, and which generally mark someone out as being from a certain place and from a certain background.
We’re not going into all the differences between each regional accent, like “this is Liverpool, this is Manchester, etc”. I’ve done that before in previous episodes (search the archive for British accents and dialects). Rather we are just going to look at some features which are shared by lots of the different regional accents.
This feels like a premium episode because it’s all about language, but I’m keeping it free and what I’m going to do is record a follow up premium episode which will be full of pronunciation drills for you to practise saying things with these pronunciation features and without, like me.
There’s really only one main difference there in the way Paul and I speak, but it’s quite a big one in the world of English accents. Paul says things like “It’s really overly complicated and it’s not, it’s not complicated but it’s stuff that is irrelevant if you want to live and work in England” “He’s pretty decent. He knows a lot about history and stuff.”
The difference there is the way Paul pronounces certain T sounds with a glottal stop. I might do it occasionally, but I think generally I pronounce most of my Ts, certainly the ones in the middle of words, most of the time.
So Paul uses a glottal stop and I usually don’t – that’s the main difference, but it’s quite a big one.
What does this mean then? How does this distinguish Paul and me then?
The difference is just a subtle one in the way that we speak, which means that Paul’s accent is influenced a bit more by where he comes from, and maybe he’s from a slightly lower social class, but we’re splitting hairs really. It’s probably more of a cultural one in the households in which we grew up.
I grew up in what I often call a BBC household with a dad who went to Oxford and worked at the BBC for most of his career and in our house there wasn’t much of a trace of an accent. Maybe a bit of midlands, or Yorkshire but generally it was RP. Maybe this is because my dad studied English at university, and my mum studied history as well and then my dad went into broadcast journalism, so speaking in this standard way was just the norm. Also my grandparents spoke mostly in this way, with slight northern accents coming through sometimes in the way they said certain words.
I don’t know all about Paul’s background that much, but I guess his accent stems from the time he spent in Kent growing up, which is very similar to London really, and glottal stops are very common in that entire region. I don’t think Paul is from a hugely different social class to me, but if I had to call it, I’d say that I’m more on the side of upper-middle class and Paul is, I don’t know, middle middle class, not that it’s important. It’s more that I want you to be able to pick up on these little signifiers of people’s backgrounds, like English people do when they hear each other speak. I’m not inviting you to judge people, just to be aware of certain social clues that you might not otherwise notice.
I don’t want to get bogged down in class here. That’s another story for another time.
Let’s get back to talking about different types of English that you might hear, and their differences.
How about the way people speak on the BBC news and the way people speak in the street? [There are stylistic differences, but mainly the BBC news is spoken in standard RP]
Have you ever come to the UK after studying English in your home country for many years and then got into a taxi and found you have no idea what the taxi driver was saying?
It’s probably because his pronunciation didn’t follow the usual, standard conventions. It probably wasn’t something you were used to hearing if you’ve been studying from course books or other published materials.
What are some of the differences between my accent and so many regional accents in the UK?
Email of the Year
Every now and then I get an email which asks me lots of questions and also answers them at the same time, which is great. Here’s one which I received flippin ‘ages ago ( 5 years ago in fact – Email of the decade?) I’ve only managed to get round to it now but anyway, here we go.
Name: Koji Watanabe
Message: Hi Luke!
My name is Koji. I’m a big fan of your show.
First of all, congratulations on your marriage! I hope your honeymoon will be stunning and that you love it.
If I (can) introduce myself, I was born and raised in Japan and moved to Sydney 2 and a half years ago. However, I have been using various visual study materials (tv shows) from the UK and my English is British rather than Australian.
I started playing cricket and am deeply saddened by the defeat by England in the recent Ashes series. In one episode you said you and your father loved the game so I would love to hear you talking about it for the whole show.
I listened to your episodes about the cockney accent, (Northern) Irish accent, British accents and dialects, and they covered some of my questions I would like to ask you today.
I apologise in advance for asking you questions in the first communication. Only if you think it is something you might want to bring up in one of your podcast episodes, please read it through – otherwise, you can just disregard this email.
My questions are about accents and dialects.
Luke: What follows is a pretty detailed description of different pronunciation features in British English (TH sounds, T sounds and glottal stops, H sounds and more), with a few questions thrown in.
What I’ve done is taken Koji’s notes and worked on them, adding details, thoughts, ideas and so on, while also keeping Koji’s original text. Let’s go through that now then.
Before we go into this, I just want to make a point about accents and identity.
What kind of accent do you want?
When we’re talking about accent, we need to bear two things in mind.
One is intelligibility – can people understand you?
The other is identity – who are you? Who do you want to be? What do you want people to think of you? Who are you talking to?
Regarding the colloquial English we’re going to be looking at now, I think it is absolutely vital to know about these different varieties and how they affect pronunciation. But should you be speaking like this too? As I said, it’s totally up to you. I personally think being intelligible is the most important thing. You might also want to sound like a local, I suppose. In that case, go for it. But in the words of David Crystal, keep it natural. Don’t force an accent too much.
There’s also the rather sensitive subject of accentism or snobbishness in accents, and how people’s opinions of you are affected by the way you speak. The fact is, a colloquial accent can cause people to subconsciously judge you in certain ways. People might see you as being less educated or sophisticated if you drop all your Ts, pronounce TH sounds in certain ways, don’t pronounce H sounds and so on.
I’m not saying that colloquial English will make you stupid or anything. That’s obviously false, but colloquial English does carry with it certain associations such as a working class background.
What am I saying? Basically, you’re more likely to find colloquial English like this from a guy working on a building site than from a qualified lawyer working in a top London law firm. So, which one are you? If you’re working on the building site with the other lads, I expect the colloquial English would seem more appropriate. If you’re doing an internship in the law firm, the standard RP would probably be more appropriate – but please don’t assume that I mean that colloquial English sounds stupid or is only used by uneducated people. I’m just saying – be aware of the baggage that comes with this kind of accent.
For example, my dad tends not to like glottal stops. If I said “Can you pass the butter?” he’d probably correct me. “It makes you look bad” is what he might say. Certain linguists might find that to be snobbishness, but the fact is, it’s a common attitude.
Should you speak like this? It’s up to you! The main thing is: you need to understand the varieties of English.
This episode is as much about understanding natural English when you hear it, as it is about actually learning to speak like this. In my honest opinion, I reckon you should probably aim to produce standard English. Try to be clear and use pronunciation that most people understand and let your own identity give some colour to the language as you doubtless will be imprinting your English with influence from your first language anyway.
In all honesty, it is very hard for an adult learning a second language to lose all trace of their accent. There are almost always traces of your accent in your English. That’s not so bad. Your English is just one of the many varieties out there. We don’t all speak the same. That’s the cool thing about English. It’s quite adaptable. If you’re using it, communicating effectively with it, and yet you sound different to everyone else – welcome to the club. English is like a village.
So, as someone from Bristol has their own version of English, then why not someone from Barcelona?
My main advice is – understand this, absorb it all, notice it when people speak, but just try to be clear when you speak. Try to focus on being understood in your communication, rather than trying to sound like a certain type of person. Clearly communicate your own ideas and just be yourself.
[Koji’s words are presented in italics]
This means that TH sounds become either F or V.
Thirty Three – “Firty Free”
Mother and Father – “muvver and favver”
It’s particularly common in the south of England, although apparently TH fronting has started to spread to areas in the north too.
Unvoiced TH /θ/
Those who speak with th-fronting use “f” if “th” is pronounced as “θ”.
I would agree. Occasionally you hear TH at the start of the word becoming F or V but very rarely (it’s probably just a speech impediment that some people have).
It’s interesting that native speakers also seem to struggle with TH sounds, because learners often find this really really hard.
*t-glottalisation (the glottal stop)
A glottal stop in English is a replacement for a T sound in the middle or at the end of the word. It’s most typically associated with a cockney accent from London.
Interview with Adele (from 1:31)
“I got really excited as if it wasn’t me, and afterwards I tried to check Twitter but I didn’t have a Twitter account so I just saw what was on there if you’re not on there”
Instead of making the T sound in your mouth, the glottal stop comes from closing and then opening the glottis, which is an opening between the vocal cords – basically it’s in your throat.
When we make a T sound, the tip of the tongue presses against your gum just behind your teeth and when the tongue is released, the air and sound that comes out is a T sound.
With a glottlal stop, we make that sound from the vocal chords rather than the tongue and the gums. When we open the glottis, air is released in a similar way to when we use our tongue on our gums.
But we don’t do this for every single T sound. It depends on certain things.
It’s interesting to know this but I would advise against doing it too much in your speech. I’ve heard learners of English who try to use glottal stops on purpose perhaps because they’ve discovered that it makes you sound authentically English, but used too much and in a slightly wrong way it can have a weird effect. So, know about the glottal stop, know how to use it, but use it all the time at your own risk.
Imagine you’re a native English speaker who uses glottal stops ( you could be Paul Taylor maybe).
Can you say these words with a glottal stop? Where does the glottal stop go? Which words have no glottal stop?
When do we add a glottal stop and when not?
YES: At the end of words — not, hot, got, lot, start
YES: After a vowel sound (previous examples)
YES: In the weak/unstressed syllable
No: At the start of words
No: After a consonant sound
No: In the stressed syllable
Potato has two Ts in it. One is replaced with a glottal stop and other isn’t. Which T is glottalised, then?
Which T is in an unstressed (weak) syllable?
It’s the second one.
But not in hotel, antique, return – because the t sound appears in the stressed syllable.
Pronounce the first T because it’s in the stressed syllable.
The second T becomes a glottal stop because it’s in the unstressed syllable and follows a vowel sound.
No glottal stop after a consonant (it’s impossible anyway!)
Koji – I’m sure there are some words in which t’s should not be dropped if I’m not mistaken.
For example, we can say:
Water [wa’er], pathetic [pa-fe’ik]
But we cannot use a stop for words such as:
Fountain (?), maintain, hotel, hostel..
Yes – because of the reasons given above.
Water and pathetic – The Ts in these words follow vowel sounds and are not in the stressed syllable.
Fountain, maintain and hostel – follow a consonant sound /n/ /s/
Maintain and Hotel – the T is in the stressed syllable
If a word has two elements then we do not drop “t”:
[This is a bit like the T at the start of the word. The prefixes could be considered as separate words.]
Are there any patterns or rules in which ts can be omitted? (we’ve just been through them but let’s recap)
YES: At the end of words — not, hot, got, lot, start
YES: After a vowel sound (previous examples)
YES: In the weak/unstressed syllable
No: At the start of words
No: After a consonant sound
No: In the stressed syllable
Or do I just need to get the feel of it and remember which one can and cannot?
Get a feel for it is my advice, and like Koji mentioned before, the best way is not to do it too strongly. Don’t push it too much and try to use it everywhere. But try it out, test yourself, repeat after me. There will be a premium pronunciation episode for this, with drills for all the stuff in this episode. Both the colloquial version with things like glottal stops and also the standard version – how I would normally say it.
So, back to my advice for Koji.
Yes, on one hand, practise things like glottal stops – for fun mainly, but also to learn about how these sounds are made and how they feel, which will definitely help your listening, which in turn helps everything else. Helping your pronunciation can help your vocabulary, because it allows you to suddenly understand other people more, which then helps you identify what people are saying, allowing you to add those words and expressions to your active vocabulary.
So on the one hand, play with glottal stops and other things. But also consider to what extent you want to introduce these things into your normal speech, and in fact my advice would be to pronounce the Ts in your words when you are talking normally in your life. Pronouncing the Ts, especially at the ends of words, does tend to make you sound really clear and nice. It’s also probably a bit easier for you to do. As an example I am reminded of my friend Emina who was on the podcast a while ago, who has a great accent and I noticed she often makes a point of pronouncing the T sounds at the end and in the middle of words.
But’s that’s just what I think. It’s up to you really! You can choose who you want to sound like, I just also want you to know what all the accents mean in the UK.
Glottal stops are very natural, but you should know that some people don’t like them and find them to be a sign of a lack of education.
That’s not really true of course – you can be extremely well educated and still pronounce words with glottal stops, but there are plenty of people who don’t like glottal stops that much.
So, regardless of all the arguments about the equality of accents (which I believe in) I think there is nothing wrong with pronouncing your Ts. (listen to Luke pronounce all the words in the list again, with T sounds)
This is especially true at the end of words, where a nice crisp T sound can sound very clear and nice.
I think we should start.
What time would you like to eat?
He’s intent on completing this project on budget.
This is pretty simple. It’s when h sounds aren’t pronounced.
It’s quite common in a cockney accent, but also plenty of others.
Here’s an example of Karl Pilkington who comes from Manchester, talking about getting his fridge fixed.
“He says ‘let’s ‘have a look then’. He opens it, sticks his hand in…”
But when does h-dropping happen?
I thought I would just add this from Wikipedia, largely because of the last line, as a way of saying “yep, what they said.”
“H-dropping is the deletion of the voiceless glottal fricative or “H sound”, [h]. The phenomenon is common in many dialects of English, and is also found in certain other languages, either as a purely historical development or as a contemporary difference between dialects. Although common in most regions of England and in some other English-speaking countries, H-dropping is often stigmatized and perceived as a sign of careless or uneducated speech.” Wikipedia
It’s worth noting that social stigma, related to this kind of speech. I think that you need to know that some people look down on those who speak English like this. For some, this kind of speech is a sign of a lack of education or class. There it is. Of course plenty of well known people, successful people, well educated people speak like this, but there is a bit of a stigma attached to all these pronunciation features, and that is probably related to a certain kind of class-based snobbishness.
But H-dropping is found in dialects all over England and Wales.
It’s more frequently found in working class accents in England (which are pretty much the same thing as regional accents anyway).
harm, heat, and behind
he, him, her, his, had, and have
The dropping of H in weak forms is normal in all accents, including RP.
We do pronounce H after saying “a”
But you might just turn it into “an”, then drop the H
Koji: Are h-dropping accents applied to pronouns and names as well?
e.g. Heidi [eye-dee], Hugo [o0-go], Henry, Hamish.. (yes, they are)
Hello Harry, How’s it going Harry? Here, have you been having a sneaky look at my house.
Have you been sneaking around my house.
Oh your house!
Yeah, my house!
*”me” as a way to say “my” and “us” to say “me”
Hey, give us the remote control.
I’ve lost all me fags.
Michael The Geordie – “He’d eaten all me fags”
Michael the Geordie talking about throwing a monkey in the sea because he’d “Eaten all me fags”. (From 0:21 )
Koji: Where can this mainly be observed? Is this very common among Northerners? I think I heard this in London before but I’m not 100% sure.
Definitely common in the north.
Also in “Pirate” (the sort of English that pirates used, usually in films and things), so probably the south west.
Not so sure about London though. It’s common to reduce “my” to a weak form but is it a full-on “me”? I don’t think so.
And again, is this not applied to the beginning of the sentence?
Yes: Wait until I pop me shoes on.
No?: My date was cancelled. (Is “Me date” acceptable?)
Not true. You can use “me” at the start of the sentence.
In a Northern Accent
What’s the matter with you? Why have you go the hump?
Me bloody date cancelled on me didn’t she.
I think this is largely found in the northern part of UK, and I find it very interesting.
I wonder if hearing Tohoku accent is nearly the same experience for you hearing people from the north speak. What is your impression about the accent? [those accents]
What do I think when I hear a northern accent?
I like northern accents. I don’t feel there is anything particularly different about a person with a northern accent, although people in the north are often said to be more friendly, more open to visitors, more down to earth and proud of where they come from of course.
This is just an example of a pretty strong northern accent (Bolton, in Lancashire).
Peter Kay in The Ice-Cream Man Cometh
Or a more normal one…
Jarvis Cocker on the Johnathon Ross Show in 2001
I like hearing northern accents, like I enjoy all accents. There’s a certain lyrical quality to any northern accent, which is a pleasure to hear.
This is a pretty excellent tour of the north of England in accents, which was originally broadcast on BBC radio 4. It’s dialect coach Elspeth Morrison and she pretty much nails all the accents here.
See if you can follow each accent as she goes around the map. Imagine the north of England like a triangle leaning to the right. The top of the triangle is Northumberland (bordering Scotland) and below that on the north east are Newcastle and Middlesborough. From there go down the left side of the triangle to the north west (actually in the bottom left corner) and you get parts of Lancashire, Liverpool and moving inland a bit you get Manchester. There are some mountains called the pennines which run between Lancashire and Yorkshire. Over the pennines you get to places like Leeds and Wakefield. Keep going east and you get to East Yorkshire and cities like Hull. Then back up the right side of the triangle you get to Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Northumberland again.
So, for this clip all credit goes to dialect coach Elspeth Morrison and BBC Radio 4.
A Tour of English Accents by Elspeth Morrison
Koji: Like Tohoku people do not mix their dialect with Kansai dialect, you wouldn’t speak with your received accent with the ones above?
Nope, unless it’s for fun and I’m imitating different accents. Sometimes I slip into different accents when I speak or when I’m around the house. My accent might shift a little bit if I’m with mates who have Birmingham accents or London accents.
I know it is weird if I speak with an accent, but my workmates say I do not have Japanese accent…
Please just ignore this message if you think it is inappropriate for me to ask you those questions.
One more thing (well, two actually)
This is more a dialect feature than a pronunciation feature, but it’s worth noting anyway.
You might have heard this in songs, films, TV series and lots of other places.
He ain’t coming
I ain’t got no money
Ain’t no mountain high enough
It either means “be not” or “have not”
Like all of these things:
Isn’t – This isn’t my car. This ain’t my car.
Aren’t – Those aren’t your keys. Those ain’t your keys.
Am not – I’m not lying. I ain’t lying.
Haven’t – They ain’t finished yet.
Hasn’t – Finished? She ain’t even started yet.
It’s considered to be an error in fact, but it’s very common.
Convert these lines into “correct” English
I ain’t finished yet –> I haven’t finished yet
He just ain’t smart enough –
You ain’t coming with us, you’re staying here
She ain’t got time to hang around with us
You know I ain’t lying
It’s quite common in double negatives.
I ain’t done nothing wrong.
She ain’t done nothing all day.
We ain’t said nothing to nobody/no-one.
And since we’ve had ain’t we might as well include innit.
This one mainly replaces “isn’t it” and that’s very common.
At a stretch it can replace all the different tag questions, but this is less common and more typical of a certain accent among young people in the London area. Ali G says it a lot, innit. (doesn’t he)
Isn’t it – “That’s the right answer, innit.”
Aren’t you – “You’re our new teacher innit miss”
Did he – “He went home innit”
Have – “We’ve gone the wrong way, innit”
So that’s it.
And Koji finishes his email…
Good luck with your honeymoon plan. I wish you a bright and the happiest married life together!
Well let’s all say thanks to Koji for providing what could be the email of the decade, forming the backbone of this episode, which looked at various features of colloquial accents common in regional accents all over England, including
Me / my
Us / me
I hope you feel you have learned something from this.
My next plan is to prepare a pronunciation episode of LEP Premium in which we can practise some pronunciation with and without these colloquial features.
Thanks for listening.
Actually, before we go, I thought I would make this episode just that little bit longer by adding something at the end here.
Jack & Dean on BBC Radio 1 – reading out song lyrics as if they’re being spoken by an angry northern dad. I thought it might be fun to hear them saying these lines that you might know from pop songs, but in the voice of a northern man. There’s quite a lot of laughing in this, which might distract you a bit, and some things might be a bit unintelligible, but generally I hope you like it. All the videos from this episode are on the episode page on my website of course, including this one. Right.
The songs and lyrics
Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Call the police and the fireman
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Make a dragon wanna retire man
I’m too hot (hot damn)
Say my name you know who I am
I’m too hot (hot damn)
And my band ’bout that money
Break it down
Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass
Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two
But I can shake it, shake it, like I’m supposed to do
‘Cause I got that boom boom that all the boys chase
And all the right junk in all the right places
Hozier – Take me To church (weird lyrics?)
I was born sick, but I love it
Command me to be well
A-amen, amen, amen – Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins, and you can sharpen your knife
My dad has written a book and it’s all about the wildlife you can find in an urban English park. He’s on the podcast to tell us all about it, and there are some collective nouns for animals too, plus some bonus stand up comedy at the end.
Hello listeners, this is a reminder about LEP Premium, which is my other podcast service. With episodes of LEP Premium I focus specifically on language, helping you understand, remember and pronounce target vocab and grammar. I’m currently still deep into premium series 24 which is about homophones, but also you can access an archive of over 80 episodes now both audio and video, all about teaching you the kind of English that I speak, and there are plenty of stupid improvisations and jokes and things too. Get started by going to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo
Welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast – this award-winning podcast for learners of English. Yes, the podcast has won a few awards over the years, but not lately. The last few years have been quiet, on the award front. If you see any competitions for best podcast for learners of English, or something, let me know!
Speaking of competitions, I’ve been thinking of launching another listener competition, and I’m wondering what you think. The competition would involve you recording yourself speaking and sending it into the podcast, then people would vote for their favourite and that person would then get interviewed in a full episode of the podcast. This idea was sent to me some time ago by a listener called Vadim. What do you think? I haven’t fully decided to do it yet, so let me know what you think of this new competition idea from Vadim.
But anyway, what about this episode then?
Park Life – A Year in the Wildlife of an Urban Park
As promised, this episode features my dad, which should be good news for all the Rick Thompson fans out there. As you might know we sometimes call my dad Rickipedia because he knows so much stuff about so many things, although it might be unreliable from time to time.
People often say that my dad should start his own podcast, as his episodes are so popular. He still hasn’t created a podcast of his own, but I am glad to say that he has written a book.
The book is called “Park Life – A year in the Wildlife of an Urban Park”
In this episode I’m going to talk to my dad about the book he’s written including a broader discussion of urban parks in the UK – green public spaces which perform an increasingly important role in UK life.
We start by talking about the book, what it’s about, how he was inspired to write it and what style it’s written in. Then we move on to describe some of the wildlife you can find in a local English urban park. Then we discuss some history of urban parks and the health benefits of spending time in green spaces.
Also there are some collective nouns for different animals, including things like “a murder of crows” and “an unkindness of ravens”. Keep listening to hear some more.
I hope you enjoy the conversation. I’ll chat with you a bit afterwards, but now, here is Rick Thompson talking about his new book.
Thanks again to Dad for being on the podcast today. Once again, check Amazon or BookDepository for Rick Thompson Park Life to pick up a copy of my dad’s book for yourself.
In fact the book has already picked up a 5 star rating on Amazon from someone called Princesslizzykins
I have no idea who she is, but this is her review.
5.0 out of 5 stars
A wonderful read.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 5 September 2020
What a beautifully and thoughtfully written book.
A super balance of content between wildlife and local history, with some lovely poetic references thrown in, this book shows how anyone can escape the haste of urban life and take a moment to look at and love the world around them.
I live in Warwick, so have the added benefit of knowing the localities mentioned, but would recommend this to absolutely anyone that has an urban park near them and enjoys a damn good read.
Thumbs up for Dad. Nice one.
We’re not done here yet, I have some more things to do in this episode.
First of all, you heard me mention the stand up comedy gig that I had on Sunday and I did the gig and it went fine. I recorded it so I’ll play a few minutes of that at the end of the episode.
But first, let me go through some more collective nouns for animals. This is a really interesting and curious aspect of English – the way we use different words to collectivise different animals.
You heard us mention some there, and I’ve included them in this list too. So here is a list of common collective nouns for animals.
As promised earlier, here are a few minutes from my stand up set on Sunday evening. There was one LEPster in the audience by the way, who had come because he’d seen the gig advertised on my facebook page www.facebook.com/lukecomedian So, shout out to that LEPster!
Anyway, this was my first gig since Christmas, but it was great to be back on stage again and I should be doing more gigs this year, lockdown permitting.
So this is me on stage at the New York Comedy Night in Paris last Sunday. Thanks for listening and speak to you again soon. Bye…
This episode is sponsored by LEP Premium. With Luke’s English Podcast I have two podcasts in fact. There’s the free episodes, which feature monologues, conversations with guests or specific topics. That’s where you get to listen to natural English on a regular basis, presented to you, for you. Then the premium episodes are all about language. Often I take samples from free episodes, then break them down for target language which I teach to you, help you remember and pronounce correctly. So the double whammy is to listen to LEP and also be a premium subscriber, to get the maximum benefit from my work. To get started with LEPP go to www.teacherluke.co.uk/premiuminfo for more info.
Welcome to Gill’s Book Club, on Luke’s English Podcast.
This is the second Gill’s Book Club episode and this is where I talk to my mum, Gill Thompson, about books that she’s enjoyed.
My mum loves books, she’s a voracious reader, a member of a book club with her friends and she works in a second hand bookshop.
She gets through loads of books, and so this is naturally a topic that we can explore together on the podcast.
How does this work?
We pick a book a few months in advance, give people a chance to read it, then talk about it on the podcast, including some of the main plot points (no spoilers) characters, context and details.
Do you have to read the book too?
No. We’ll explain the main plot points without giving away any spoilers. But you can read the book if you like, or get the audiobook version.
You could read the book first, then listen. Or listen first, then read the book, or just listen without reading the book at all, and enjoy hearing my mum talking about it, the characters, the story and so on. There might also be some nice vocabulary coming up which you can notice as we go along. As usual, check the episode page on my website to see some vocabulary notes and transcripts.
For other episodes I’ve done with advice on reading books to improve your English, check the episode archive.
I said earlier this year that the book we’d be talking about is A Gentleman In Moscow, by Amor Towles, and so that’s the main topic of conversation here.
A Gentleman in Moscow is a 2016 novel by Amor Towles. It is his second novel, following the release of the New York Times bestselling novel Rules of Civility. The novel concerns Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a man ordered by a Bolshevik tribunal to spend the rest of his life in a luxury hotel in the heart of Moscow. Wikipedia
There’s a bit of smalltalk at the beginning, and then we get stuck into the book.
I’ll talk to you again on the other side of this conversation, but now, let’s listen to my mum talking about her latest book recommendation.
Vocabulary Notes & Questions
Can you comment on these things with reference to the characters and events in the book? Manners Integrity Loyalty Vocabulary Class
Do these words apply to Count Alexander Rostov? Witty Likeable Standoffish Spoiled Privileged Glass half full / Glass half empty
Does he change during the book?
House arrest Did this book make you think of the lockdown? If you had to be on house arrest, but you can choose any building you like, which building would you choose? Which building would you choose to be locked inside? (not your own home)
Book club What did the women from the book club think of it?
Book recommendation The Year of Reading Dangerously by Andy Miller
Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on 16 November 1581 is a painting by Russian realist artist Ilya Repin made between 1883 and 1885.
So there you are. That was my lovely mum talking about a lovely book and it was all lovely lovely lovely.
Again, check out the page for this episode on my website for vocabulary notes, and the names of the different books and things that we mentioned, plus the chance to see that painting of Ivan the Terrible and more.
I’m still deep inside P24, having published 9 out of 12 parts. More coming for premium subscribers soon…
Later today I’m interviewing my dad.
I don’t like to talk on the podcast about stuff I’m going to do, because I’ve learned that often things don’t go as you expect and it’s unwise to make the listeners think that something is coming when it actually can’t happen because of a technical issue or a scheduling problem or something.
So, who knows, we might not be able to actually do the recording, but the plan is to talk to my dad later today, also about a book. But this isn’t a book that he’s read, written by someone else, it’s actually a book he’s written himself. Yep, he wrote a book during the lockdown. What’s with all these books!? About 5 people I know have written books during the lockdown, including my dad. So stay tuned to LEP in order to (hopefully) listen to a conversation with Rick Thompson about his new book.
Thanks again to my mum for her contribution to this episode.
I hope you all enjoyed listening to it and as ever I look forward to reading your comments and responses to this episode in the comment section on my website, but also on YouTube where you can find all my episodes, and you can keep in touch on social media, my favourite being Twitter and my handle is @EnglishPodcast
Take care everyone. I’ll speak to you again soon, but for now, good bye…