A conversation with Anna Tyrie from English Like a Native (YouTube, Podcast) about children, the way we talk to children, and vocabulary relating to children and childcare, and some special news from the Thompson family…!
Here is another episode with more English listening practice for you to get stuck into, and I have another guest on the show today.
This time it is Anna Tyrie from English Like a Native, the channel on YouTube. You might also know her from Instagram and TikTok.
Anna has recently set up a podcast too, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts. It’s called the English Like a Native Podcast.
In fact, on the same day we recorded the conversation for this episode of my show, Anna also interviewed me for her podcast and we had a good long conversation about all sorts of things. It was very nice to be interviewed by her. You should be able to find that episode on her show now. So if you enjoy this one, go ahead and listen to the one on Anna’s podcast too. You will find a link in the description 👆.
In this conversation: Get to know Anna a bit and talk a bit about her podcast and youtube channel and what the name really means.
The main subject – talking about children. We decided that we could talk about a particular topic for this episode and that topic ended up being children. I’ve had requests from listeners in the past for more on the subject of children and the English language, including the way we talk to children, the way we talk about children and the specific words for lots of things related to children.
We talk about our own kids, and specifically about how we communicate with them, typical things we say to them (in English of course), how we should be careful about the things we say to our kids, the ways adults adapt their English when talking to little children, including examples of so-called “baby talk” or “parentese” and then there is a sort of quiz at the end with questions about specific English words for lots of the different objects, toys and bits of useful equipment that we use with babies and little kids.
As you know I have a daughter and she is 5 so a lot of that baby stuff almost seems like a distant memory now, but, well, it’s high time I remembered all of that vocab again now because – drum roll… yes, my wife is pregnant again and we going to have another baby!
Yes we are delighted.
Thank you – because at this moment of course you are now saying…
“Wow, that’s fantastic! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you!” and then all the typical questions will come to mind, including:
Can I ask when the baby is due?
Do you know if it’s a boy or a girl? Would you like to know?
Are you ready?
Do you have any ideas for names?
How’s your wife doing, is she ok?
How does your little daughter feel about it? Is she excited?
I’m sure I’ll talk about it again in another podcast, but I thought I would let you know now.
Of course the child hasn’t even been born yet, so there’s a long way to go.
But all being well, in July there will be a new Thompson arriving 😊
I don’t know how that will affect the podcast.
Of course it’s probably going to disrupt things to some extent as I will be busy at home, with my wife, looking after the baby, helping my wife with anything if she needs it, taking care of our daughter, trying to keep things ship shape and under control and generally just being at home focusing on the family.
So I won’t be able to do much podcasting around the time of the birth and in the weeks after. Who knows, maybe I’ll disappear completely for July and August, or maybe I’ll find a way to keep podcasting.
Maybe, if I’m organised and industrious enough, by the time the baby arrives I will have recorded lots of episodes beforehand, which I will be able to publish over the summer, or maybe I’ll dig into my archives for some unpublished or lesser-known material, which a lot of people haven’t heard – like app-only episodes from the LEP App (which is now defunct by the way).
In any case, there might be some kind of disruption to the show. Thank you for your understanding and your patience and your lovely messages of congratulations and support, which you are welcome to write to me.
Obviously, I’ve just said thank you for a thing you haven’t even done yet, which is kind of against the rules, but anyway. There it is. We’re very happy. We’re hoping everything goes well. I’ll probably talk about it a bit more in another episode later on.
So, now let’s get back down to earth here because this is a conversation with Anna from English Like a Native, getting to know Anna a bit and then talking about the English which we use with kids, about kids and for all the bits and pieces involved in looking after kids.
By the way, this conversation was recorded in January, which is why I say “It’s January” at the start. I probably didn’t need to say this, did I? You probably have the deductive skills to work out that when I say to Anna “it’s January” it’s because we recorded that in January. But just in case you were worried that I don’t know what month it is, don’t worry, I do know what month it is, what year it is and generally where I am and what’s going on. OK, fine.
I will speak to you a bit again at the end, but now let’s get started with the interview right now.
Ending Transcript / Notes
Thanks again to Anna.
You can find a vocabulary list and notes on the page for this episode on my website if you want to check specific words.
A reminder – after recording this, Anna interviewed me on her podcast and as I said earlier we had a good long conversation about lots of things, with little stories and jokes and stuff. A long conversation. I think it was even longer than the one you just listened to. I’m wondering how Anna is going to deal with that, but you can find out for yourself by listening to that episode on Anna’s podcast- English Like a Native, which is available wherever you get your podcasts.
Thanks for listening everyone.
Have a lovely day, morning, evening or night etc. Goodbye!
Baby-talk in English
Examples of baby talk in English
Wee / Wee-wee / pee / pee-pee
Poo / poo-poo
Dog / doggy
Cat / kitty
Icky – disgusting
Bedtime stories / Story time
Tummy / Belly
Mummy / Daddy
Grannie / Grandad
Yuk / yukky
Common words and phrases relating to babies/children/childcare
This list includes words and phrases which came up in the quiz.
Activity arch / baby arch / arch toy
Baby bouncer (like a small deck chair)
Baby carrier / sling
Baby fence / play-pen / baby-gate
Baby-grow (a one-piece outfit that babies wear)
Bib (to catch or protect against food that falls while they eat)
Blanket (a lot of children have a special blanket that they use as a comforter)
Bottle (for milk)
Breast pump (a device which allows the mother to pump her milk into a bottle)
Changing mat (where you change the baby’s nappy)
Cot (where the baby sleeps – a bed with high sides so the baby doesn’t crawl out of bed)
Drool bib (to absorb drool which comes out of the baby’s mouth when teething)
Dummy / pacifier (what the baby sucks while sleeping)
Flannel (an absorbant cloth)
High-chair (what the baby sits in while eating)
Mobile (the thing that hangs above the bed and gives the baby something to look at)
Nappy (US English: diaper)
Pram / pushchair (UK) buggy / stroller (US)
Rattle (a toy that the baby can shake to make a rattling noise)
Talcum powder / talc (powder which can be put on the baby’s bum to keep it dry)
Teddy bear / stuffed toy
Teether / Teething toy(for teething babies) (something the baby can chew while the teeth come through)
Stephen from the SEND7 Podcast asks Luke 20 quiz questions about international news stories from 2022. Do you know the answers? Can you beat Luke in the quiz? Listen for some serious moments, some funny moments and a re-cap of some key events from the year.
[Part 2 of 2] James and Luke discuss some more “facts” about the UK, but can you guess if they are true or false? Learn some interesting trivia about life in Britain, and improve your vocabulary in the process.
Video Version with facts on the screen – Automatic Subtitles Available
Hello listeners, and welcome back to the podcast.
This is part 2 of a two-part episode called 50 Random British Facts (True or False Quiz) with James.
This is part 2 – so if you haven’t heard part 1, go back and listen to that. It’s the previous episode.
In this one we’re going to go through the rest of the random facts about Britain which my brother and I put together earlier this year.
Just a reminder, of the way this works:
First, James and I will read out some more random facts about the UK
Some of the facts are true, and other facts are not true – they were completely made up by James and me.
You have to decide which facts you think are true and which ones are false
Then, after reading out the facts, James and I will reveal the answers and we will also discuss each fact a little bit.
Hopefully you can learn some odd and interesting bits of information about the UK, spot some useful English vocabualry, generally practise your listening skills and have a bit of fun in the process.
If you’d like to work on your pronunciation, here’s a challenge. Try reading the facts out loud, like James and I did. When you read them out, try to say them clearly and fluently, emphasising the right words, connecting parts of the sentence and adding pauses and intonation in the right places. It’s actually quite difficult but a good exercise. You can read the facts on the page for this episode on my website, or you will see them on the screen if you are watching the YouTube version. You could compare the way you say the sentences to the way James and I say them, and perhaps try to copy us, or shadow us. That could be a good way to push your English a bit further with this episode.
As I said at the beginning of the 1st part of this double episode, James and I recorded this in August 2022 and that was before the Queen died in September, and so this is a bit anachronistic as we talk about The Queen in the present tense as she was still alive and the head of state of the country at the time we recorded this. So just keep that in mind while you are listening to this I guess.
Oh and by the way, listen out for a cameo appearance by my daughter somewhere in the middle of the episode.
Now, are you ready to keep calm and carry on?
OK then, here we go with more random British facts – are they true or are they false?
Random British Facts 26 – 50 [True or False?] Listen to find out the answers
26. In 1657, England’s puritanical leader Oliver Cromwell passed a law making it illegal to serve richly flavoured food, believing it to be a pathway to sin.
27. It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour.
28. It is illegal to put a stamp with the queen’s head on it upside down on an envelope (it’s considered treason).
29. It’s customary to let out a little bit of gas when you accept something which has been offered to you. A small fart or a burp. Keep some gas in reserve for moments like this. This is why English people eat beans.
30. Loch Ness is the largest body of freshwater in Britain by volume. It also keeps a temperature of 6°C all year round, not even freezing in the coldest Scottish winters.
31. More than half of the London Underground network in fact runs above ground.
32. There are 6 official ‘native’ languages in the UK.
33. Queen Elizabeth II was born in the same room that Charles Dickens died in.
34. Recent studies found that skin from British people was more resistant to water compared to that of continental people, due to higher levels of wax residue found on the skin surface.
35. The Glasgow accent is so strong that people there often have trouble understanding each other when they speak.
36. Taxis are obliged to carry a bale of hay in the boot, thanks to old laws regarding the feeding of horses.
37. The Queen doesn’t have a passport.
38. The Queen owns all the swans in the UK, and as a result it is illegal to kill or eat them.
39. The department store Harrods sold cocaine until 1916.
40. The name of the UK’s flag is the Union Jack.
41. The word soccer originally comes from the UK.
42. There are 6 ravens which live at the Tower of London and an old royal decree from the reign of King Charles II states that if one of them leaves, the kingdom will fall.
43. During the time of Henry III (mid 13th century), a live polar bear was kept in the moat at the Tower of London.
44. There are more than 70 beaches in the UK.
45. There are now more parakeets in London than pigeons.
46. There’s a secret underground tunnel which runs directly from Buckingham Palace to Number 10 Downing Street.
47. Under the Salmon Act of 1986, it is an offence to handle a salmon ‘suspiciously’.
48. Until the late 70s it was common practice for doctors to recommend that pregnant women drink Guinness because the high iron content was thought to be beneficial for the pregnancy.
49. Until 1968 tobacco was commonly included in a child’s packed lunch along with bread, fat drippings, and tripe.
50. Until 1982 all buses and taxis were legally obliged to carry a bottle of brandy to revive any passengers taken ill during the journey.
That’s it listeners.
Thank you for listening.
Don’t forget, you can read all those facts on the page for this episode on my website. That could be a good way to just check some of the words and phrases that you heard in this episode.
I’m sure there’s some new vocabulary in there.
Here’s a selection (just read through them)
A pathway to sin
A suit of armour
Gas / wind / a fart
To keep something in reserve
A body of water
A bail of hay
A muzzle / to keep an animal muzzled
To handle something (two meanings)
To be taken ill
To revive someone
That’s just a selection. I’m not going into it all now, but you could pursue that vocabulary and research it and try to remember it and use it, or at least try to notice it again as you listen, read and generally come into contact with English.
Some of them are more frequently used than others. I don’t know how often you will talk about tripe or bails of hay in your life, but that’s the thing about pushing your vocabulary beyond the intermediate plateau. You have to go beyond the limits of the vocabulary that you come across on a daily basis and go into the more uncharted areas of English in order to open things out and expand.
Also, I explained some vocabulary at the end of part 1. I don’t know if you heard that, but I went into various words relating to laws, rules, regulations, government legislation and so on, as quite a lot of those things came up in the 50 facts. So go back and listen to the last 30 mins of part 1, if you haven’t already done so.
You see, it pays to listen to episodes all the way until the end.
Can you guess if these “facts” about the UK are true or false? James and Luke read out the facts and then discuss them one by one. Learn some odd things about the UK, pick up some vocabulary about laws and customs, and try not to laugh on the bus.
Video Version (with facts written on the screen) Try activating automatic subtitles
Hello everybody, before I play this episode I think I should give a kind of disclaimer about the content. I just want to say two things.
So this is an episode about Britain recorded with my brother in August, which is obviously before we all got the news that The Queen had been taken ill and had died, and we do talk about The Queen a few times during the episode, but of course she is no longer with us and now we have King Charles III.
So, firstly, the things we say about The Queen will be a bit anachronistic now as you listen to it – anachronistic, meaning belonging to the past, and a bit out of step with the present. So that’s the first thing – this was recorded when the Queen was still alive and when she was the head of state, which is now obviously no longer the case, so there are a few little anachronisms and we refer to The Queen in the present tense.
And secondly, when we do mention The Queen and a lot of other things, it’s done in a humorous way – and I’m aware that some people might find that inappropriate, but we aren’t really mocking her harshly or specifically. We copy her voice a bit and parts of the episode are just a bit silly and funny, but our intentions are decent. I don’t think we could be indicted for treason or anything like that. So, I hope you take it all in the spirit of good natured British humour, which is our intention, and let’s remember that The Queen has been praised a lot over the last week or so for her good sense of humour, so hopefully she would see the funny side (but who knows) In any case, I think it’s ok and I’ve decided to publish this. I hope you enjoy it, and actually I hope you see it as a sort of celebration of British stuff, for what it’s worth.
Alright then, now I have said that. Let’s start the episode properly. Here we go.
— Jingle —
50 Random British Facts (True or False Quiz) with James [Part 1]
Hello listeners, welcome back to my podcast.
Are you ready to do some more listening, to improve your English?
If the answer to that question is “Yes” then, good! Keep listening!
Here is a new episode featuring James, my older brother. This is a 2 part episode actually, and you’re listening to part 1.
In this one you’re going to hear James and me discussing various facts about the UK, that’s the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, of course. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
A few weeks ago, James and I came up with a list of 50 facts about British life, customs, laws, history and culture, which we could talk about on this podcast. We thought you might find it interesting.
So that’s what you’ll hear. But the thing is – some of these facts are true and some of them are not true. They’re false, completely made up, invented by James and me.
So the game is, can you guess which of these facts are true and which ones are false?
Here’s how this is going to work.
First, you’ll hear us reading out our list of so-called facts and you can decide if you think they’re true or not
and then we will discuss each fact, we’ll reveal if they are true or not and we’ll explain some bits of language and culture along the way.
On the subject of vocabulary, two things:
You will find a list of all the “facts” on the page for this episode on my website. They’re all written there for you, so you can go and read them if you like. If you hear a word and you’re not sure what it is, you can check all the sentences there. Also, I recommend trying to read those sentences out loud. All the facts – try reading them out loud. It’s quite good pronunciation practice. You can then compare your version to the the way James and I read the sentences, and perhaps you can shadow us, or repeat the sentences after us. Some of them are actually quite challenging, quite difficult to say clearly as you’ll see. That’s just something you could try doing. There are always other ways to push your English with these podcasts beyond just listening, or if you prefer not really doing any extra practice or anything you can just sit back, listen, enjoy and eat a chocolate biscuit.
Some of the facts presented here are about UK laws, and you might hear a few different words to describe laws – things like this:
To Ban / to be banned
An act of parliament
Provisions in an act
A royal decree
A custom / to be customary
I’ll go through those words briefly at the end of the episode, giving you a little tiny taste of LEP Premium, with definitions, explanations and a couple of examples, just to make sure you understood the full meaning and difference between them, because lots of words like that will just pop up in this episode and you might think “Hold on, how many words for laws and rules are there? What’s the difference between a law, an act, a decree and legislation?
If that’s you – just listen on until end of this part to hear some vocabulary explanations from me, which no doubt will just be really helpful.
This is an audio-only episode, but if you are listening on YouTube you will see that the facts are written on the screen with a few pictures to illustrate them in most cases, which again should help you not only understand everything but also to notice vocabulary, with your eyes, and your brain.
And you can always switch on the automatic subtitles in English on YouTube, which are surprisingly accurate these days.
But now, that’s enough waffle. Let’s get started with part 1 of this, recorded at my parents’ home in England a couple of weeks ago, during the summer holidays, just after we’d eaten a large lunch with the whole family.
OK, so, this is part 1 of 50 Random British Facts, with James.
Random British Facts 1 – 25
True or False? 👉 Listen to the episode to find out the answers.
In a recent poll by The BBC, 71% of British people said that British food was the best in the world. Examples given included curry and lasagne.
8% of British people live in London.
Work meetings in the UK often commence with a short joke before people get down to business. The joke is usually printed on slips of paper or distributed in advance by email.
All pubs must have a picture of the Queen displayed somewhere behind the bar.
Another way to say “thanks” in the UK is to say “Ta”
Big Ben is the nickname of a large clock tower in Westminster.
British people drink 100,000,000 cups of tea a day.
Cockfighting is illegal, but heron fighting is still commonly practiced in rural areas.
During the Second World War a fake “mock up” of London was built in the Kent countryside with an intricate system of lights, to confuse German bomber pilots during nighttime air-raids.
Every year on the 5th November children burn an effigy of a Catholic terrorist who once attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament during the King’s visit.
Every year the Mayor of London is given a dozen oxen as part of his annual pay packet. The livestock are usually donated to a charity of the Mayor’s choice, or slaughtered.
A recent excavation of the site of Shakespeare’s former home in London turned up a number of clay pipes containing the residue of cannabis resin or “hashish”.
In the UK, by law, if one man’s dog gets bitten by another man’s dog, the owner of the dog that did the biting must buy the other man a pub lunch, or something else of equivalent value.
If the UK flag is flying at Buckingham Palace it means the Queen is in the building. FALSE – It’s the Royal standard.
If you live to be 100 years old you will receive a personal letter from The Queen in the post.
In 2020, English winemakers Langham Wine Estate of Dorset won the International Wine & Spirit Competition Sparkling Wine Producer of the Year, which is one of the most prestigious awards a winemaker can win. They beat every top French Champagne brand in the competition.
In 1976 a huge rat was discovered in the London sewer system. The police lost 2 dogs in their attempt to capture and destroy the animal.
In the UK we drive on the left side of the road, but in 1987 the UK government introduced plans to switch from driving on the left to driving on the right, to bring the country in line with European standards. The initiative, which was eventually scrapped, was to be phased in over a period of 6 months, with heavy goods vehicles and buses switching first, followed by cars and then motorbikes and bicycles.
It is always raining, somewhere in the UK.
It is customary to buy a packet of crisps to be shared while having a drink in a pub, and the crisp packet is often ripped open in a certain way to allow everyone to take crisps from the bag. (crisps, not chips)
It is customary to make tea for any tradesmen (plumbers, decorators) who visit your house.
When going to the pub with friends or colleagues, it is customary to order drinks in rounds.
It is illegal in the UK to be drunk in charge of a horse.
It is illegal in the UK to be drunk on licensed premises (a pub).
It is illegal to carry a plank of wood along a road in the city of London.
To be continued in part 2…
So, that is the end of part 1. How many did you get right?
You are keeping track of your score, right?
It might be tricky to keep track of your score, which is fine of course.
To be honest, I don’t expect you to do that really. But I wonder if you generally managed to guess which of those things were true and which ones were bollocks.
Did anything surprise you? Did anything amuse you?
Let us know by leaving your comments in the comment section.
That was only the first 25 facts of course. We’re not done yet. This will all continue in part 2 when we look at facts 26-50, in the same way. I guess you can just look forward to that. It will require all your patience to do so, but I believe in you. You can do it.
Now, let me go through some vocabulary, as I said I would earlier.
A lot of these facts deal with things like laws, government actions and also traditions or customs and so I thought I would just clarify some words which relate to those things. Yet again I am doing this on the free podcast as a little taste of the kind of thing you usually get in episodes of LEP Premium these days.
The words I’m going to talk about now are:
Legislation / to legislate
To ban / to be banned
An act of parliament
Provisions in an act
A royal decree
A custom / customary
Words for different types of law or government action
A rule (countable noun)
A rule is just something which says whether you are allowed or not allowed to do something. The difference between a rule and a law is that the word rule is more general and is used in all sorts of situations, not just by governments and the police etc.
Schools have rules (e.g. no chewing gum in the classroom), people’s homes have rules (e.g. no mobile phones at the dinner table).
Also, sports and games have rules, like the offside rule in football.
A law (countable noun)
Laws are the rules which determine wether things are legal or illegal. They are made and introduced by the government and enforced by the police and justice system.
To break a law
We also have the word “law” (opposed to “a law”) which means the whole system of rules which determine what is allowed, not allowed, what people have the right and don’t have the right to do or have.
Legislation (uncountable noun)
Legislation is another word for law, but it is uncountable.
Here are some sentences which basically mean the same thing:
The government created legislation banning the possession of handguns.
The government created a law (or laws) banning the possession of handguns.
So it’s the same as the word law, but we don’t say “a legislation” because it’s uncountable. Instead we would say “a piece of legislation”.
The government introduced new legislation banning the use of diesel cars in urban areas.
The government introduced a new law banning the use of diesel cars in urban areas.
Legislate is a verb
To legislate for or against something – which means to create laws to oblige people to do things, or to prohibit certain things.
The government in 2007 legislated against smoking in indoor public places.
To ban something (verb)
This means to prohibit or stop something and it’s usually used in reference to government laws which make something prohibited.
Smoking was banned in public spaces in 2007.
The government banned smoking in 2007.
Sometimes the word ban is used in situations outside the legal system, for example –
Mobile phones are banned in the classroom.
A person can also be banned from a certain place, for example,
Dave has been banned from the golf club for starting a fight last week.
It can be a noun or a verb.
The smoking ban. There’s a ban on smoking.
The government banned smoking.
An act of parliament
An act is a specific piece of legislation which creates law.
When politicians make laws, for example in the House of Commons in London, there’s a certain process and we use different words for that legislation during the process.
First the law is introduced by a member of parliament as a bill which is a written proposal for a law. The bill is discussed by the MPs in the House of Commons and the House of Lords and is voted on, and when that bill has been approved (including being given the Royal Assent by the Queen) it is written into law in the form of an act.
This act defines the law. It’s kind of like a contract. Each act, which contains various laws, has a name. For example, The Treason Felony Act 1848, which makes it an offence to do any action with the intention of deposing the monarch. This makes it illegal to plan or try to remove The Queen from the throne (or in fact to remove the crown from The Queen) and this includes planning and devising things in written form, spoken form and with the use of images etc. So that’s the Treason Felony Act, which was created in 1848, which makes it against the law to try to depose the monarch.
Another example is the The Data Protection Act 2018, which controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. The Data Protection Act 2018 is the UK’s implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
And another example is the Homicide Act 1957, which makes it illegal to kill someone, or commit murder. By the way, it says 1957, but of course murder wasn’t legal before 1957, it’s just that in 1957 the law relating to murder or homicide would have been redefined somehow, and a new act was created, which contained provisions relating to all acts of homicide.
This is like a specific section of an act of parliament, or a specific detail in an act of parliament. You also get provisions in contracts between people.
A (royal) decree
A decree is an order that something must be done. A royal decree is when the king or queen orders that something must be done. These days it doesn’t happen in the UK, so royal decrees are only heard about when referring to history.
King Edgar in 957 decreed that all settlements (towns) in England were restricted to having only one “alehouse” per settlement. This was a law to try to control the number of pubs or places selling ale across the country. The decree lasted until after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 after which more and more alehouses, inns and pubs started arriving.
Here’s an example from The Bible, of a decree by a Roman Emperor.
The Gospel According to Luke, Chapter 2 Verse 1
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David). To be taxed with Mary, his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her first-born son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
This is the second part of my recent conversation with Fred Eyangoh about learning new vocabulary. This one includes a word quiz with homophones and commonly confused words from the Collins Dictionary website.
Hello listeners, how are you doing today? I trust that all is well in podcastland.
This is the second part of a double episode about learning vocabulary with one of my friends Fred Eyangoh.
In the last episode you heard about how Fred has been using a spelling game to discover new words, and this led to a discussion about what to do when you come across new bits of vocabulary, including how using online dictionaries can be a really good way to expand your knowledge of words, and also about how just staying curious about new words is very beneficial, and how learning one word leads you to another word and before you know it your vocabulary has expanded exponentially. It certainly works for Fred, whose vocabulary is really strong.
And at the end of the last episode, Fred and I were on the Collins Dictionary website and we were about to do one of the word quizzes that you can find there. The one we chose was about easily confused words. Words that sound the same but are in fact different.
So that’s what happening in this episode. Listen to Fred and me doing a quiz about some homophones – words which have different spelling, different meanings and yet the same pronunciation. So there’s vocabulary, pronunciation and spelling to learn here as we go through various words, but also there are the usual tangents, little jokes and things like that. I hope you learn some things from it and that you have fun while listening.
I will recap the various bits of vocabulary you’ll hear on the other side of this conversation, and it’s a list of at least 30 vocabulary items. I’ll go through that list at the end of the episode to make sure you’ve got it. You’ll see the word list on the page for this episode on my website.
But now, I will let you rejoin my chat with Fred about learning vocabulary, using online dictionaries and a word quiz about homophones.
OK so that was Fred and me doing a word quiz about easily confused words on the Collins Dictionary website.
I certainly hope you found that useful, and perhaps you could consider checking out those word quizzes as well on the Collins Dictionary website – again, they don’t sponsor this podcast, but maybe they should. I’ve even got the perfect line for the advert, “Are you confused about which word to use? Just think, ‘What would Colin say?’ and go to collinsdictionary.com”
It’s not actually Colin’s dictionary by the way, a dictionary owned by a man named Colin. “Hello, I’m Colin. This is my dictionary. It’s got lots of words in it.” No, I think that Collins is a surname (double L), like Phil Collins. In fact, the name comes from William Collins, an industrialist from Glasgow who set up a printing press in the 1820s, and in the early 1840s he started printing illustrated dictionaries, and the rest, as they say, is history. The publishing company is now known as HarperCollins, and in fact they are based in Hammersmith in the W6 postcode of London, which is where I was living when I first started my podcast. That’s why there’s a W6 on my logo by the way. It’s because that’s my London postcode.
So, wow! That’s interesting isn’t it!? In any case, you can find more of those word quizzes and things at www.collinsdictionary.com
Right, so just like the previous episode about the New York Times spelling bee, there are a few words that I feel I should re-cap at the end here.
Let me just quickly go through some of those words again, just to make sure you got them.
A coal miner
A minor (person)
Evocative – “The minor key is so much more evocative”
Seller / Buyer
Cellar (a room below the house for storage)
Basement (an underground floor which could be furnished – more common in US English)
The stakes are high
That terrible joke:
A man walks into a butcher’s shop and inquires of the butcher: “Are you a gambling man?” The butcher says yes, so the man says: “I bet you £50 that you can’t reach up and touch that meat hanging on the hooks up there.” The butcher says “I’m not betting on that”, “But I thought you were a gambling man” the man retorts. “Yes I am” says the butcher “but the steaks are too high!”.
Shellfish (molluscs and crustaceans that we eat)
Seafood (food that includes fish, octopus, squid, crab, lobster, shellfish etc)
Moolah (a slang word meaning cash)
Thyme / Time
You also heard us talking briefly about Wandavision at the end there. Wandavision is a new-ish TV series by Marvel Studios. We also mentioned The Madalorian, which is a Star Wars TV series. I really must talk about all this new pop culture at some point on the podcast. There’s new Star Wars TV stuff, Marvel TV stuff (like Falcon & The Winter Soldier which I’ve also been watching) and even Zack Snyder’s Justice League, but it’s all going to have to wait I’m afraid. There are so many things to talk about and do on this podcast but there are only so many hours in the day. Also, I have quite a big backlog of episodes in the pipeline at the moment, so I’ll have to publish all of those before I can think about new stuff.
In this episode you can listen to Amber, Paul and me as we take an online quiz and try to find out what school of philosophical thought we belong to. Are we empiricists, epicurianists, existentialists, hedonists, humanists, platonists, skeptics or stoicists? Listen on to find out more and to hear a full-on discussion of life, the universe and everything.
In this episode you can listen to Amber, Paul and me as we take an online quiz and try to find out what school of philosophical thought we belong to. Are we empiricists, epicurianists, existentialists, hedonists, humanists, platonists, skeptics or stoicists? Listen on to find out more and to hear a full-on discussion of life, the universe and everything.
If all those terms are completely new to you (empiricists, epicurianists, existentialists, hedonists, humanists, platonists, skeptics or stoicists), don’t worry. I don’t expect you to be an expert in philosophy or anything – but this can be a good way to practise listening to a slightly complex discussion in English.
I expect those terms aren’t completely new to you actually, because I’m assuming that you listened to the previous episode of this podcast, although it’s entirely likely that some of you have skipped that episode and jumped straight to this one because you were attracted by the prospect of listening to Amber & Paul on the podcast again.
You might have thought “meh, I’ll skip that one about philosophy and language and I’ll hurl myself towards this new Amber & Paul episode instead.”
Well, allow me to gently guide you back towards episode 509 at this moment because in that episode I explained what those types of philosophy involve, using various examples including how they relate to language learning. So I highly recommend that you listen to the previous episode if you want some explanations and general clarification of some of the concepts involved. It’ll help you to make sense of this episode a bit more, I promise.
And I think the combination of this episode and the last episode should be quite useful for understanding not just the general concepts we’re discussing but also for your English too. So, as you listen watch out for some of the ideas that I was talking about in the last episode.
Often, understanding something you’re listening to is a question of familiarity with the general subject. If you just listen to this conversation without hearing episode 509 (or without having general knowledge of philosophy – which admittedly some of you might have anyway), the topic area might be unfamiliar to you because it’s not every day that we talk about how we understand the meaning of life is it?
So listening to the previous episode could help you get more familiar with the topic and that will make this episode so much more accessible, the things you’ll hear will be a bit easier to understand and it should reinforce some of the language and terms that come up in the conversation and that should all lead to a more effective and satisfying listening and learning experience.
Are you convinced? Yes? You’ve already heard episode 509? Just get on with it? OK then…
So, in this episode you’ll hear Amber, Paul and me discussing the questions in a quiz that I found on Facebook, called “Which Philosophical School of Thought Do You Fall Into?” and generally talking about our approaches to life in general.
You can take the quiz with us if you like. You’ll find the link on the page of course. Click the link and follow the quiz with us. You can read the questions and different options that we’re discussing. You might need to pause the podcast in order to consider your answers on your own before hearing what we say and which options we choose.
Or you can just listen along without looking at the quiz – it’s up to you of course. You have free will don’t you? Or do you? Maybe all of this is predetermined either genetically, socially or as part of some divine plan by an intelligent (or perhaps not so intelligent) creator.
Now, I would like to just share some concerns with you at this point. I have a few concerns, and here they are.
I recorded this a few months ago and I’ve been sitting on it ever since. Not literally. I mean I’ve just been holding on to the recording, and wondering what to do with it. The reason for that is that, the conversation didn’t turn out exactly as I had planned or hoped. What I planned and hoped was that taking this quiz with my mates Amber & Paul could be a fun and clear way to explore some philosophical concepts for you my audience of learners of English. But what actually happened, as you’ll hear, is that we got quite frustrated by the way the quiz was written. These quizzes are always a bit annoying aren’t they? You always notice the flaws in the questioning and you wonder how accurate they will be. This quiz is no exception. Frankly, the questions and options don’t make complete sense – they’re quite vague and conceptual and you’ll hear that we spend quite a lot of time just trying to work out what each question actually means. There’s a lot of us interpreting the quiz itself, rather than discussing the philosophy.
On balance I’ve decided it’s still worth listening to, but I just want you to know that I know that it might be quite a heavy conversation for you to contend with. Of course, abstract stuff is harder to follow than down-to-earth stuff. I’m just saying – if you get overwhelmed by this one, then don’t worry – I am aware of that. I don’t mean to underestimate you, but there it is. Anyway, I’m just saying – I know that this is pretty complicated stuff, but I think you should listen to it anyway because ultimately we do finish the quiz and we do find out what school of philosophy we all belong to. It will really help if you take the quiz with us, so do get your phone out and click the link on the page or just google “which school of philosophy do you fall into?” and if you’re walking along in the street while listening to this and you’re looking at your smartphone please be careful where you are walking because I don’t want you to be doing a different quiz later, called “which hole in the street did you fall into?”
We did this recording at my place and Amber’s young son Hugo was there in the background watching “Andy’s Wild Adventures” which is a CBeebies TV show (BBC for kids). I realise that you can hear the TV in the background a bit. I don’t think it’s too disturbing, but you can hear it a bit. I don’t expect you’ll mind, but remember that I don’t record this podcast in a studio, so sometimes there might be the noise of real life going on around us.
Of course we kept an eye on Hugo during the conversation and every now and then we had to pause the podcast just to check up on him and so Amber could respond to him when he sometimes said “Mummy!”, which you might hear sometimes.
So, I just wanted to explain some of the background noises you might hear while you’re listening to this.
OK then, so get the quiz ready on your phone or computer – the link is on the page for this episode, or just search for “What school of Philosophical Thought Do You Fall In?” – and get ready for some philosophical ramblings from 3 people who quite possibly don’t really know what they’re talking about!
Alright, no more faffing about. Let’s go…!
I told you it was a heavy one didn’t I?
Are you ok? Are you still alive?
If you found that conversation difficult to follow and yet you are still listening, I just want to say “Well done” for staying the distance and sticking with it. Some people didn’t, they didn’t get here, and frankly they are just weak, generally weaker and will probably die out in the next evolutionary stage, so there. I don’t mean to say that you should feel glad that some members of our species just won’t make it, but rather that you can feel good that you’ll survive. I’m talking nonsense here of course.
Please, leave us your comments. What’s up with you? What are you thinking? What’s going on in your brain-head? We would like to know, and when I say “we” I mean the collective consciousness and the entire human race on a metaphysical level, not just me and the other members of the comment section crew.
Basically, write something in the comment section and express yourself in English!
The podcast will be back, doing it to your eardrums soon. Thanks for listening and take it easy out there in pod-land.
6 quick things left to say:
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Write something in the comment section, and that includes just the word “something” if you like.
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This episode is a game show hosted by my Dad, with me as the contestant. The aim of the game is to see how many words I know. My Dad designed this quiz for his students of journalism at the university where he works sometimes. The quiz is specifically designed to highlight what he considers to be common misuses and misunderstandings of words. His opinion is that journalists writing and presenting on television should use words in exactly the right way, even if many people use those words to mean different things in general everyday use.
Frankly this is an evil game show, created by my evil father (a.k.a Darth Vader) and it is designed to make normal people fail, allowing him to then prove a point about using words correctly on TV. Listen to the episode to see how many questions in his evil quiz I got wrong and right! While you listen you can try to guess the correct answers too. Let’s see how many you get right. Can you beat me?
This is the second in a 2-part series all about zombies. In part 1 I talked about the zombie in popular culture, analysis of the zombie as a metaphor and then some rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse. To listen to part 1 – click here. In episode 2 I’m going to take a couple of zombie survival quizzes and then do a language focus on conditionals. [Download]
Part 3: Conditionals
I’m going to explain them and give examples. For pronunciation you should repeat the sentences after me. Listen for connected speech and weak forms.
Generally speaking, conditionals refer to sentences with an ‘if’ clause (the conditional clause) and a consequence clause. Sometimes other conjunctions are used, like ‘when’, ‘as soon as’ or ‘unless’.
These are used to refer to facts that are always true and the consequences that always happen. It’s a present tense in the ‘if’ clause and a present tense in the consequence clause. For example, “When the sun comes up, the day begins” or “When the sun goes down, the night-time begins and all the evil monsters come out!”
Sometimes we use “when” instead of “if” and this just emphasises that this always happens. Using “if” suggests that it doesn’t always happen, but nevertheless the consequence is always the same. “If I talk about zombies, my girlfriend gets scared”. You could also say, “Every time” or “whenever”.
Also, we can use imperatives in the conditional clause. “If I get bitten, shoot me in the head before I turn into a zombie.”
These are used to talk about a future event (which you think is likely) and its logical consequence. It uses a present tense in the ‘if’ clause and a future form in the consequence.
*Don’t put ‘will’ (or any future form) into the ‘if’ clause.
“Shh! Be quiet! If you make too much noise you’ll attract more zombies!”
“If we see another zombie again I’ll lose my mind”
Use ‘when’ to emphasise that you think it’s definitely going to happen.
“When we arrive, we’ll need to check all the rooms for walkers”
Use ‘as soon as’ to emphasise that the consequence will happen immediately.
“As soon as he comes in the room, I’ll smash him in the head with this baseball bat!”
Use these when you’re talking about hypothetical future or present events – not the past. For the future it means things that you don’t expect to happen, but you’re speculating on them anyway. If you think they’re likely, use 1st conditionals. If you think they’re unlikely, use a 2nd conditional. Use a past tense in the ‘if’ clause and then would in the other clause.
*Don’t put ‘would’ in the if clause.
“If I met a zombie in real life, I’d probably be fine”
“You’d be screwed if you met a zombie in real life”
“I reckon I’d survive if a zombie outbreak happened”
It’s also for imagining an alternative present.
“If I was a zombie I’d just stay at home.”
“If I were you I’d get yourself a weapon.”
Here we are imagining an alternative past. It’s not the real past, but a hypothetical one. Use ‘had + past participle’ in the ‘if’ clause and then ‘would + have + past participle’ in the other clause. This one’s tricky because of all the auxiliary verbs.
“If you hadn’t saved me I would have been absolutely fucked” (You saved me and I wasn’t absolutely fucked)
“If he’d been more careful he wouldn’t have got bitten”.
“We wouldn’t have survived very long if we hadn’t stayed together!”
This could be a hypothetical past action with a present result.
“If he’d been more careful he’d be alive today”
Or a hypothetical present with a past result (yes it’s possible).
“If the government wasn’t so corrupt, this would never have happened.”
Molly and I ask each other general knowledge questions about the USA and the UK. How much do we know about each other’s countries? How much do you know about the USA and the UK? Can you answer the questions too? Listen and find out! Right-click here to download.
This is the continuation of the conversation I started with Molly in episode 198. In our quiz we ask each other questions about the history, geography, politics and even accents & dialects of the USA & UK.