Listen to Luke reading a text adventure story set in a summer camp. You can read the story at the same time as you listen, or just relax and have fun following this action packed horror story, and read do text adventure later. Includes some vocabulary explanations, differences between British & American English and some very dodgy jokes. Video version available.
This is an unedited monologue in which I talk about some things which are on my mind at the moment, including how my hair is stopping me from learning French (and vice versa), virtuous and vicious circles, how English is like a shark (or a river – or maybe a shark in a river), some comments about recent episodes and a visit from a friendly bat at my podcastle.
Video Version (try activating the automatic subtitles)
Some vocabulary extracts
I have been deliberating about which microphone to choose
Geeky microphone chat
I have a plethora of microphones
People who have just stumbled across this and are wondering what this is all about
Perhaps you’re in transit somewhere, maybe you’re doing some housework, maybe you’re listening to this in a classroom while your teacher takes a well-earned break, or maybe you are lying in a floatation tank or in zero gravity in the international space station
Stick with me, and enjoy being a LEPster
Here’s a run-down of some of the things I’d like to talk about.
How my hair is stopping me from learning French, and vice versa – how my French is stopping me from getting a hair cut (virtious and viciouscircles)
How my summer is looking, what my plans are and what that might mean for the podcast (busy – difficult to record podcasts in July and August – what’s new?)
Thoughts on recent episodes like Sick in Japan and Spinal Tap
Some metaphors and similes for language learning and teaching
That’s probably plenty!
I’ve been just sweeping it (my hair) back over my head
Maybe I’m being a bit precious about this but I can’t help feeling self-conscious
Taking initiative is very important but it can be hard.
It can just be taking the initiative to speak, to make an effort to communicate with someone, to risk looking a bit stupid, going out of your comfort zone.
But if you take that tiny little risk, it can pay off in various ways.
You need to keep the English moving through you like a river or the water of your English will become stagnant. We all know this.
But without that little impetus to speak, you won’t do it.
If you don’t take initiative, you don’t put yourself into situations in which your confidence can develop.
Starting a virtuous circle is a matter of taking small steps in the right direction.
Micro-decisions or micro-steps.
Now I have to go out of my way to walk to the hairdresser.
Some people commented that the crowd were quiet. Well-behaved maybe.
I should have:
Hyped the crowd up more
Done more stand up at the start
Warmed them up by getting them to make noise.
“French people make some noise!” Etc
I should have done more crowd work.
Spinal Tap – maybe not everyone’s cup of tea, but at the end of the day I am the one who decides what happens in these episodes.
I find that with my learners it’s not just listening skills or vocabulary, but just “being on the same wavelength” and that includes things like little references to culture, or just having a certain sense of humour.
It’s also important that I do stuff that I am personally invested in, or this whole thing just won’t happen. So there.
I love teaching but sometimes I get a bit frustrated because it can be a bit like banging your head against a wall.
You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
An episode with my friend Moz from the Murder Mile True Crime Podcast. Moz returns to tell us some true stories of crimes in the London area. Expect some smalltalk about living on a boat, some murder stories and an interactive detective game in which we have to solve a murder.
A return to Luke’s Film Club with the classic comedy This Is Spinal Tap, a “mockumentary” about a fictitious rock band from the 1980s. This time I am joined by my brother James and we discuss what was once voted “Funniest comedy film of all time”. Learn some famous quotes from the film, listen to some scenes and understand the comedy with help from James and me.
In this episode you are going to listen to a conversation I had with English teacher and podcaster Stephen Devincenzi who does a podcast about learning English with the news.
We recorded a video for this but we had technical problems so only one part of that is available on YouTube. If you go to my YT channel you’ll see it. It’s the part where we discuss the pros and cons of using the news to improve your English. That’s the only video part on YouTube but the audio is fine and you’re listening to it now and this audio will be available everywhere including youTube as usual, and you can check to see if the automatic subtitles are available.
We were plagued by technical difficulties while attempting to do this episode and in fact this is the 3rd time we tried to record. We did this 3 times.
About 3 weeks before this we did another full recording of over an hour which turned out to be unusable because of issues with lag and distorted sound and horrible internet based problems, and then we set up another meeting but had to cancel that due to Stephen’s poor internet connection.
Then Stephen had fibre optic internet set up in his room.
And so did I!
And then I got electricity installed.
But then my fibre optic internet went down (and still is down) but despite the gremlins in the system we managed to record this 3rd version on Zoom with my iphone working as an internet hotspot.
This episode is all about learning English with the news, the pros, the cons, the hows the whys. But is listening to the news a good idea for learners of English? How can you do it? Let’s discuss.
I’ll chat with you again briefly at the end, but now let’s get started.
THanks for listening. Thanks to Stephen from the SEND7 podcast.
Let us know your thoughts in the comment section as usual. It’s always interesting to read what you have to say.
Have you used the news to learn English?
Did you find it useful?
How do you do it? Do you have a particular method?
Talks in English – British Council Paris – 19 May (Storytelling – Culture Shock & Live Podcast Recording)
Can Luke, Amber & Paul pass this funny Russian citizenship test which was written and sent in by a Russian LEPster? Join us as we attempt to answer questions which (apparently) every Russian person would know. This could be embarrassing! P.S. I am 99% sure that this really is the final episode of 2021.
What animals we have in Russia instead of Tom and Jerry?
A) Wolf and hare
B) Bear and bee
C) Dog and cat
D) Elephant and mouse
(See the answer below)
The answer is…
A) Wolf and Hare
From the “Nu, Pogodi” (eng. “Well, Just You Wait!” ) animated series, (1969 – 1986).
In the 2014 all-Russian poll “Well, Just You Wait!” won as people’s favorite cartoon/animated series of all time.
The series follows the comical adventures of Wolf, trying to catch – and presumably eat – Hare. The series’ most common line is the eponymous “Nu, pogodi!” yelled by the wolf when his plans fail.
Fun fact: Since the 1990s, when the fall of the Iron Curtain allowed better exchange of films, both Russian and Western audiences have noted similarities between Nu, pogodi! and American cartoons, the most noticeable being Tom and Jerry. The director has admitted that he was learning from Disney animated films which were brought into the USSR from Germany immediately after World War II, particularly Bambi. However, he did not see any Tom and Jerry episodes until his on bought a VCR in 1987.
What animal does every Russian see on the streets every day?
The answer is…
The GAZelle is a series of light commercial vehicles: pickup trucks, vans and minibuses made by Russian car manufacturer GAZ. Until now, it is actively used in all Russian cities as a “marshrutka” – shuttle or public bus.
Side mission: Can you say “marshrutka”?
September 3rd in Russia is a good day to …
A) Drink vodka from balalaika
B) Crush wooden sleds with axes
C) Turn calendar upside down
D) Hang winter boots out of window
The answer is…
C) Turn calendar upside down
“The third of September” is a well-known Russian lyric song, first performed by Mikhail Shufutinsky in 1993. The chorus of this song contains the lines:
I’ll turn the calendar upside down
And there will be the third of September again
Of course, the singer meant, “I’ll turn a calendar page in a loose-leaf calendar” but many Russians making fun of it. It gave rise to many funny pictures of upside-down calendars. These lines have become a popular meme in Russia, and the third of September in itself has become a kind of holiday, when people joke about the calendar and listen to this song whole day. The singer, by the way, has a positive attitude to this meme and to the popularization of his song among young people.
What do Russians expecting the lobster to do on the top of a mountain?
B) go to war
The answer is…
“When a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain” – it is a Russian idiom. In fact, it is an adynaton — a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility. The implication of such a phrase is that the circumstances in question will never occur.
“The pigs will fly when a lobster whistles on the top of a mountain”. Oh, I’d like to see it.
What French name is most often mentioned on the New Year’s Eve in Russia?
The answer is…
Olivier salad (Russian: салат Оливье, salat Olivye) is a traditional salad dish in Russian cuisine, which is also popular in other post-Soviet countries. It is usually made with diced boiled potatoes, carrots, brined dill pickles, green peas, eggs, onions, diced boiled chicken or bologna sausage, with salt, pepper, and mustard added to enhance flavor, dressed with mayonnaise. In many countries, the dish is commonly referred to as Russian salad.
In Russia and other post-Soviet states, as well as in Russophone communities worldwide, the salad has become one of the main dishes served during New Year’s Eve (“Novy God”) celebrations.
Additional information: The original version of the salad was invented in the 1860s by a cook of Belgian origin, Lucien Olivier, the chef of the Hermitage, one of Moscow’s most celebrated restaurants. Olivier’s salad quickly became immensely popular with Hermitage regulars, and became the restaurant’s signature dish.
The exact recipe—particularly that of the dressing—was a zealously guarded secret, but it is known that the salad contained grouse, veal tongue, caviar, lettuce, crayfish tails, capers, and smoked duck, although it is possible that the recipe was varied seasonally. The original Olivier dressing was a type of mayonnaise, made with French wine vinegar, mustard, and Provençal olive oil; its exact recipe, however, remains unknown.
What tree do Russians always want to hug when sad?
The answer is…
Birch is considered as a tree of “Russian nationality”.
«While traveling for a long time abroad, a Russian often misses his “native birches”. To hold a birch tree tight and cry… that’s the only thing a Russian wants to do in a melancholic mood.
According to multiple folk proverbs and beliefs, ancient pagan Slavs considered hugging a birch tree as a sign of good luck. Birches were compared to humans – its thin trunk was frequently associated with a thin body of a young lady.
Modern Russians would never confess they hug birch trees on a daily basis. However, some of us have done it or at least thought of it. And for sure, when we see those leaves and branches trembling by the wind, our harsh northern hearts melt. And the one certain sign that Russians love birches is the fact that they make fun of it, even creating “go hug a birch” memes and jokes.»
B) Looking into each other’s eyes shouting “Na zdorovye!”
C) In small sips from a large glass
D) No matter how – it has to be drunk!
The answer is…
A) Only for the reason and with lots of food
Most Russians never drink without a reason. A birthday, wedding, funeral, national holiday – these are all appropriate reasons to drink Vodka. However, it doesn’t need to be so pretentious; you can always make up a good reason for drinking, but the important thing is that you should always have one.
Before you begin drinking, make sure you have something to eat. In Russia we call it “zakuska” – literally means “snack”, but it isn’t that simple. Its history goes back to the traditional Russian ritual of greeting important guests with “bread and salt” – and, in most cases, an alcoholic drink. Other Traditional Russian «zakuska» is cold cuts, cured fishes, mixed salads, kholodets (meat jelly), pirozhki, various pickled vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, sauerkraut, pickled mushrooms, open sandwiches, and breads. The fact is – you should never drink vodka without eating immediately something afterwards.
And here is a fact: Russians never looking into each other eyes while drinking – it would be considered very strange and weird. And they will never shout “Na zdorovye!” NEVER.
Now, let’s count your stars, comrade.
If you got…
Congratulations! From now on, you are officially Russian. You can go to the embassy and get your balalaika. The pet bear will be send to your place later this evening.
Nice try, comrade! A couple more shots of vodka and the citizenship will be in your fufaika’s pocket!
Well, you will get your citizenship one day, but first you have to ask the lobster to get to the mountain and do some action. Is he still waiting for Gazelle?
If only you dare touch a birch, it will turn you upside down, like a calendar!
(Just kidding. It doesn’t matter how many stars you got – everyone is welcome to Russia. Zakuski are waiting for you!)
This is a swapcast between LEP and English with Ray, which means we are both uploading this to our podcasts/youtube channels.
Ray is an English teacher from Glasgow in Scotland (and you’ll be able to notice his accent, which is not the strongest Glaswegian accent I’ve ever heard but it’s definitely noticeable – which is great, because I love Scottish accents). Ray has recently started making videos on YouTube for learners of English.
One of his students – Ivan (from Russia I think) who is also a LEPster, suggested to Ray that he start doing that and that he also contact me for an interview, so that’s what you’re going to listen to or watch here. This is Ray Addam interviewing me for his channel.
This is a fairly relaxed and free-ranging conversation, and after chatting a bit about playing music and performing in front of people, we ended up talking about the psychology of learning English, particularly how to manage anxiety or nerves when using English in stressful situations, and then our comments about how to work on your confidence and how to have the right mental approach to learning a language, which is one of the most important steps to take.
So listen on for some comments and tips about how to manage your stress levels in English, how to become more confident in English and how to take control of your communication skills in general.
Thanks to Ray for sending this recording to me. You might want to check out his channel on YouTube, which is called English with Ray. He only has a few videos there at the moment, but everyone’s got to start somewhere. I’ve noticed that Ray also speaks fluent Arabic so any Arabic speaking LEPsters might be particularly interested in Ray’s content as he might have some insights into differences between Arabic and English. I haven’t actually asked him about that yet, but maybe it’s something he could work on in a future video.
Anyway, that’s it for this introduction and I will now let you listen to this conversation with Ray Addam, firstly about playing music in front of audiences of people, and then about the challenges of managing your confidence when using English in stressful situations. I will probably speak to you again briefly at the end of this chat, but for now, let’s get started.
Talking to my dad about the latest in the Brexit saga, including the current fuel crisis due to lack of lorry drivers and other problems which were predicted in the run up to the Brexit referendum in 2016. Video version available on YouTube and below.
This is The Rick Thompson Report, where I talk to my dad about politics, news, current affairs – which almost always means an update to the ongoing Brexit saga.
What’s going on in the UK at the moment? How is Brexit going? Remember before the referendum when predictions were made by experts who recommended that Brexit was a bad idea – do you remember any of the predictions? They were labelled by the pro-Brexit camp as “Project Fear” suggesting that critics of Brexit were just trying to make everyone scared about leaving the EU but it was all baseless and everything was going to be wonderful in a very non-specific way. Well, we are now getting to a stage where we can see if those predictions are coming true or not?
So, how long has the UK actually been out of the EU now? How’s it going?
Talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English understand the subtle codes of polite language when making requests and giving information in professional and personal contexts. In the conversation we explore the topic and consider some tips for making your language more culturally appropriate.
In this episode I am talking to author Natasha V Broodie who has written a book which aims to help learners of English to find the right tone in their speaking and writing. Tone is something which is very much affected by culture and often relates to things like being direct, indirect, formal, informal, the use of modal verbs and phrasal verbs and so on. In English the general tone is often quite friendly, indirect and polite, and this can sometimes cause problems for English speakers coming from different places where codes of politeness or professionalism are different.
Natasha has worked as an English teacher and has also worked in international contexts for the UN and so she has direct experience of observing people communicating in English and not quite getting the tone right.
So in her book, “Give me tea, please. Practical Ingredients for Tasteful Language” she lays out a sort of style guide with theory, practical tips and a glossary of defined vocabulary at the back.
It sounds like an interesting book which could be a worthwhile read for my listeners, so I thought it would be good to chat with Natasha a little bit and explore some of the ideas presented in her book.
“Give me tea, please” is currently available on Amazon but from 24 September should be available from all other providers too.
Right, so now you know what sort of thing we’re going to be talking about, let’s meet Natasha Broodie and find out some of those practical tips for tasteful language.