Talking to my wife (and daughter) about the birth of our son, who came into the world just a few weeks ago. We describe what happened, and explain how it feels to become parents for the second time. This is a very personal, first-hand account of childbirth and the experience of bringing a child into the world. Watch out for the language of childbirth and children which has previously been explained in episodes 162, 491, 492 and 814.
Comedian Sebastian Marx returns to the podcast in order to talk about Yiddish words which have found their way into the English language, including common words like bagel, glitch and schmooze and plenty more.
Schmooze: To converse informally, make small talk or chat (שמועסן, shmuesn, ‘converse’, from Hebrew: שמועות, shəmūʿōth, ‘reports/gossip’; OED, MW). To persuade in insincere or oily fashion; to “lay it on thick”. Noun: schmoozer, abbr. schmooze.
Schnoz or Schnozz also Schnozzle: A nose, especially a large nose (perhaps from שנויץ, shnoyts, ‘snout’; cf. German: Schnauze; OED, MW)
Learn English with another short story. This time it’s Parson’s Pleasure by Roald Dahl, which is an intriguing tale of a dodgy antiques dealer, with a nasty twist at the end. Learn vocabulary while you enjoy a fascinating story.
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)
Steve Kaufmann is a very prolific language learner. He has learned at least 20 languages to varying degrees during his life. Some of them he learned during his career as an international diplomat and businessman, and others he has learned during his (semi) retirement. In this interview Steve talks about his language learning experiences, methods and motivations. We talk about various metaphors and similes for language learning including ocean voyages 🚢, cows 🐮, skiing ⛷ and cutting grass🏡, and I ask Steve about cross-cultural experiences he has had during his career. There is a video version but only the audio version contains my intro and ending rambles about getting my hair cut and how you need to remember that you’re a baby cow-shark on skis 🐄🦈🎿😅.
A rambling episode about making a fresh start in the new year, and some things I just have to tell you about listening to Luke’s English Podcast using a podcast app on your phone + lots of tangents. I hope you enjoy it!
I start reading at 12mins12seconds in the audio version
Sometimes I go “off-script” and say things which are not written here. I hope you can follow it all.
If you’re new to this podcast – I’m Luke, I’m an English teacher and comedian from England, and I’ve been doing this podcast for learners of English for about 14 years now.
You can use my podcast to improve your English in various ways, but the main thing is that it can help you do more listening, which is essential for acquiring natural, and instinctive English. What I mean by instinctive English is that you get an instinctive feel for the language, and this is what you can get from simply engaging with English in spoken form or written form and focusing on understanding it. It really helps if the process is fun and so I do try to keep things funny (this isn’t funny though) or just entertaining and interesting as much as possible.
This is episode 805 and it’s called A New Year Ramble 2023.
I am just going to talk to you for at least an hour. Just listen to my voice for the duration of the episode and remember – all the words and sentences I am saying are all going into your brain and a lot of it will stick there! This is perhaps more effective for your English progress than slaving away over a grammar book or staring at word lists. Just listen to me, follow my words, stick with me and hopefully enjoy it all. Let the rest happen naturally.
For this episode I’ve written some notes which I am reading from sometimes, and some stuff is spontaneous.
The main thing in this episode is that I’m just going to have a ramble. That means talking and talking, sometimes going this way sometimes that way, moving from one topic to another and one thought to another without having a very clearly defined structure. As I said, I’m just going to talk to you for a while. Join me!
New Listeners, a Fresh Start & Learning English with LEP in 2023
In January I find that new people start listening (hello!)
Also people return to the podcast and generally refocus on learning English, turning over a new leaf.
New Year’s resolutions
I like to make a fresh start every January and say some things on the podcast to explain what this is, how it works, and how you can learn English from my content.
This is the 14th time I’ve recorded an new year episode. It’s my 14th January on this show so I have done quite a lot of episodes in the past welcoming new people and talking about how you can learn English with this podcast, and what the aims of this project are.
So, instead of repeating the same things again, I’ll suggest that you check out some of these episodes. (Pick some episodes to recommend)
Where can I find all your episodes, Luke?
You can always find all my episodes in the archive on my website. If you’re watching on YouTube, not all the episodes are there. Just some.
All rest are in my episode archive on my website including episode titles, numbers, summaries of what’s in each episode and then on each page you’ll find an audio player, a download button and sometimes vocabulary notes, transcripts of some or all of the episode and more things.
Some things you should know about how to listen to LEP
I’ve noticed from quite a lot of comments and emails recently that people don’t know certain key information about my show.
Let’s just clarify a few things here about this podcast.
Free episodes (Luke’s English Podcast)
and premium episodes (Luke’s English Podcast Premium)
Free episodes are free! You’re listening to a free episode right now!
If you’re listening using a podcast app on your phone, you might notice some advertising. This helps me to continue doing the podcast and pays for things like rent, internet, food.
Premium episodes are only available if you sign up to LEP Premium for about 4$ a month. This also helps me to pay for things like food, clothes for my daughter, flowers for my wife, and loads of other things. This is how I actually live these days!
Anyway, premium episodes are for premium subscribers and they’re usually about vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar.
The premium episodes have PDFs.
Some premium subscribers don’t know how to find the PDFs.
I’ll tell you more about premium a bit later including the best way to listen to premium episodes and how to get the PDFs.
How to listen to the free episodes
My show has always been primarily an audio podcast which most people listen to using a podcast app on their phone.
You can also listen to the episodes on my website.
I publish my episodes on YouTube as well.
Over the last couple of years I’ve been filming myself with a webcam while recording my episodes and putting those video versions on YouTube. Some of those YouTube videos have sort of gone viral and I’ve ended up being a kind of YouTuber as well, but I still consider this show to be an audio podcast first and foremost.
Sometimes there is more content in the audio versions, for example if I have an interview with a guest, the video version might only contain the conversation, whereas the audio version will probably include an introduction and some talking from me at the end of the episode (perhaps a short ramble or some vocabulary explanations).
When it’s possible I add some text on the screen of video versions on YouTube so you can read while you listen, but I don’t do that every time.
Automatic subtitles are available (usually) on my YouTube videos.
But this show is primarily an audio podcast. This is how I think of it. It’s an audio show which you can listen to in the normal way people listen to podcasts, which means using a podcast app on your phone.
Now, I’m going to go a bit basic here and explain what a podcast app is.
Back to basics: What is a podcast app?
The majority of you listening already know all this stuff so I’m just patronising you, but I suppose you could just pay attention to the way I’m describing all of this. How would you explain how to listen to a podcast, to someone who is completely new to the whole thing? Here’s how I would do it.
For those of you who don’t know, a podcast app is an app you download (free) onto your phone from the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android).
Lots of apps are available as I said. Check your phone. You might already have one. If you’re on iOS, you can look for the one with the purple icon that says Podcasts. Personally I’m not a huge fan of that app, but it will work fine.
Maybe you don’t have a podcast app on your phone, in which case, download one (PocketCasts!) then just search in the app for Luke’s English Podcast and then subscribe to it. Of course, other podcasts are available but who needs other podcasts I ask you?
New episodes will arrive there every time I publish them and it’s super convenient. You can listen to episodes on headphones (recommended) or just blare them out loud on your phone on the back of the bus or something if you want to annoy everyone around you or perhaps help them learn English too.
You can listen when your phone is connected to wifi (probably at home or maybe in the office when you should be working) or you can listen when you’re outside using your phone’s data internet connection.
Podcast apps will also save your place in the episode, if you press stop for some reason. The app will remember where you stopped. Then when you go back to the app later and start listening to that episode again, the app will remember where you stopped and you can carry on listening. Perfect! No need to worry about my episodes being too long! No need to listen to the whole thing in one single sitting.
There are also other advantages to using a podcast app on your phone, including being able to add my premium episodes to the app as well, if you sign up. I’ll explain more about that in a minute.
A lot of people use Spotify to listen to podcasts. Great! The only problem there is that you can’t add premium episodes to Spotify, because it’s not a “normal podcast app”.
Don’t use the Luke’s English Podcast App any more
By the way, I am not talking about the LEP App here. A lot of you have downloaded that on your phones.
It’s listed in the app store as “Luke’s English Podcast App” and it might appear on your phone as simply LEP.
But, don’t use the LEP app any more. It is defunct. New episodes are no longer arriving there and in a few months it will disappear from the App Store completely. So, you can forget about the LEP App now. It’s sad, I know, but it’s not the end of the world because you can continue listening in any other normal podcast app as I’ve said.
How to listen to LEP Premium and how to get the premium PDFs
Right, so let me talk a bit about LEP Premium. This isn’t a promotion by the way, it’s just information which a lot of people don’t know. No pressure to sign up to my premium subscription or anything. It’s totally up to you. Of course I hope you do, but it’s up to you right?
By the way, premium people – new episodes are coming including some storytime episodes.
So, I am constantly getting emails from people saying “I have signed up to LEP Premium but how do I listen and how do I get the PDFs?” and I just feel like a surprising number of people out there are somehow missing out on basic information which you just have to know or I might go a bit mad and stick bananas in my ears and then everyone will say “Hey you’ve got bananas in your ears” and I’ll say “What??” and they’ll say “You’ve got bananas in your ears!!!” and I’ll say “What????” and they’ll say “WHY HAVE YOU GOT BANANAS IN YOUR EARS???” and I’ll say “I CAN’T HEAR YOU I’VE GOT BANANAS IN MY EARS!!!”
That’s what will happen if everyone continues not to know certain basic information about my podcast and about how the premium part works.
Let me explain as quickly and clearly as possible, then we’ll move on to some ramblings about other perhaps more entertaining matters.
The best way to listen to premium episodes is to add LEP Premium to a podcast app on your phone.
Let’s say you’re using Apple Podcasts to listen to the normal free episodes of LEP and you’ve decided it’s time to also listen to the premium content to push your English further. Maybe one day you just say to yourself “Hey, I think it’s time to also listen to the premium content to push my English further” but then you think, but what do I do? Where do I go? And crucially – how do I get those precious PDFS????
Ok, so let’s say you’ve gone to www.teacherluke.Co.uk/premiumon your phone and you’ve signed up to LEP Premium and you are logged into Acast+ (the platform I use for the premium subscription).
You’ll see that you have the option to “Listen now” or “Add show to app”.
If you tap “listen now” you’ll see a list of all the episodes and you can play them, listen to them. But this is not a convenient way to listen.
You need to tap “add show to app”, so tap that and you can choose the podcast app which you have on your phone and which you use to listen to the free episodes, see?
Again, let’s say you’re using Apple Podcasts. Let’s use that as an example.
Where it says “Add show to podcast” you then tap “Apple Podcasts” and the Apple Podcasts app will magically open, giving you the option to subscribe to LEP Premium there. Do it! You’ve already paid, you’ve put your card details in and stuff, what are you waiting for. Add LEP Premium to Apple Podcasts! Go for it!
Now you have upgraded your LEP episode list on Apple Podcasts. You will now be able to find the premium episodes in your list. Before it was just the free episodes. Now the list includes the premium episodes too. Celebrate! It’s a miracle!
Spare a thought for LEPsters who can’t sign up to LEP Premium because of government stuff (Give peace a chance)
I think at this point it would be appropriate to spare a thought for those LEPsters who are unable to sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+, probably because of two possibilities – either Acast has been blocked by your government because they think that LEP and LEP Premium are just far too dangerous for people to listen to, because – heaven forbid, I might talk about things which perhaps directly contradict the version of reality which they are trying to pull over your eyes, OR your credit card will not work for international payments because your country is being sanctioned because your government is being very naughty indeed. In any case, if you can’t access LEP Premium, I am sorry, but have a word with your government OK? But don’t get thrown in jail. I know, that’s easier said than done. I don’t know – I don’t want to casually suggest that you all rise up in some kind of revolution or something, and overthrow the people who run your country, because you simply cannot allow this madness to continue and you simply must be allowed to sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+. This is up to you. I’ll let you weigh up the risks and the potential benefits and so on. Good luck.
OK but let’s say you’ve signed up to LEP Premium and you’ve successfully added the episodes to your podcast app of choice. The premium episodes are now in your list, along with the other episodes. It might not be obvious at first, but they are there, just waiting to be discovered and listened to.
How can you find them? Well, you’ll need to scroll through the list a bit. Just scroll down through the episode list and BINGO you’ll see them. All premium episodes start with P and a number. P42, P41 etc. Some episodes have the word [Premium] at the start.
Premium episodes P01-P36 were all added in July 2022 and they can be found between free episodes 776 and 777. Scroll down to episode 777 and look under it – see! Loads of premium episodes are there! (if you’ve signed up to the premium subscfiption and added the episodes to your app as I explained before)
ALL THIS STUFF ABOUT PODCAST APPS AND THE PREMIUM EPISODES IS GOING TO STOP IN A COUPLE OF MINUTES I PROMISE!! TRY NOT TO GET IMPATIENT OK??
What about the PDFs for those premium episodes?
The links for the PDFs can be found in the show notes for each premium Episode.
Anyway, what are “show notes” for podcast episodes?
In podcast apps, all podcast episodes have some text notes. This is where podcasters can add maybe a summary of the episode or some links to other things online.
See if you can find the show notes or episode notes for each episode. Go on, have a look right now?
Some of you are saying “Come oooon Luke I know where the show notes are” OK then, find them right now and look at them and then say to yourself “Yes, I know where the show notes are, thank you Luke”
On Apple Podcasts, while you have an episode selected (you’ll see the LEP logo, the name of the episode and a play button) just drag the screen up and the notes will be revealed below. Again, it’s like magic or a miracle or something. An actual miracle. Thanks Jesus!
(one of my new year’s resolutions is to have more FUN in my episodes again, because life is too short)
This is where you will find the links to download the PDF for the episode.
Tap one of the links, open the PDF and read it while you listen or send it to your computer where you can study it more carefully, annotate it with a pdf reader or even print it on paper in the old fashioned way. Then use a pencil to do the tasks.
If you’re not signed up to LEP premium: Hello! That’s fine!
You don’t have to sign up to the premium service if you don’t want to, can’t afford to or aren’t allowed to due to confusing global events and the actions of powerful men who sit at tables deciding your future.
You are still a LEPSTER and you can still enjoy all the free episodes and all the rest of it, until of course the thought police completely turn off your access to the internet. Which country are you talking about Luke? Well, whichever country is doing it.
There are show notes for all the free episodes too. (For many of you I’m teaching grandma how to suck eggs)
If you’re listening in a podcast app. Have a look – you’ll always find a link to the “episode page”. That’s where you can read any vocab notes, find the associated youTube video (if there is one) and other information that I mention in the episode.
YouTube Comments / Keeping My Episodes Varied / I’m the boss round here (yes, I am a powerful man who sits at a table and decides YOUR future)
Now we’re talking about YouTube which is another platform where I publish my episodes – either in video format (where you can see me talking, if that’s your cup of tea) or just listen to episodes without video and maybe switch on the automatic subtitles (don’t forget to smash that like button and click the bell icon and all that jazz).
One thing about being on YouTube is that there are more comments.
This is because it is much easier to comment on YouTube than it is if you are in audioland (listening on a podcast app on your phone, probably).
On YouTube the comment section is right there, and it is an integral part of the YouTube experience.
So, people comment a lot more, which is great. It is lovely to get your feedback and it’s encouraging when people respond to what you’re doing.
Sometimes it is amazing, especially if people write genuinely positive and appreciative things.
It’s mostly great, but it’s sometimes a bit irritating.
As you know, if you are a human being, the negative things tend to stick with us a bit more than the positive things.
By and large, my audience (like any audience of learners of English it seems) is incredibly thankful and appreciative, which is lovely. But naturally there are some people who are not so thoughtful and who write comments which probably tell us more about them than they do about the content that they’re commenting on.
Now, while I do believe it is really important to take criticisms on board, to consider them and to learn from them, some comments are just a bit annoying!
Well, obviously just abusive or directly rude comments are just the kind of “bird shit on the window of life” but there are some comments which are not exactly abuse, but which just show a certain lack of consideration for the content creator. I’m not going to list all the things that irritate me, because what’s the point, but one thing I have noticed is when I upload an episode, let’s say it’s a story episode, and the comment is “I miss your rambling episodes” or “Please make content about phrasal verbs” or “Please make short videos like “Don’t say please” or “stop saying thank you”.
Or I upload a rambling episode and someone comments “Make more stories, we want stories” or I do an Amber & Paul episode and the comment is “We want a Rick Thompson Report!” You get the idea.
I do a variety of episodes, and I’ve always tried to keep the episodes varied for the whole time I’ve been doing this podcast, for better or worse. This is because:
You can’t please all the people all the time (You might think that one type of episode is the best, but plenty of others will think that another type of episode is the best – in the end, I decide)
Keeping things varied keeps me motivated
It’s important for you to hear a variety of things – not just stories, not just teaching phrasal verbs etc, but also conversations, monologues, some easier episodes, some which are more difficult etc
I don’t think anyone thinks about this more than I do. I put my experience, my professional knowledge and also my heart and soul into making these episodes. They’re not always exactly perfect, but there is no such thing as “perfect” and it’s a fruitless mission to try and chase it.
Ah shit I feel like I’m being too negative now, and also overthinking everything. Ah well.
Is my show blocked in China?
Chinese LEPsters – how do you listen to my podcast? Do you use a VPN? Is my podcast available in Apple Podcasts? Is it available on any other apps? Let me know :)
Happy New Year! LET’S HAVE FUN IN ENGLISH IN 2023! GIVE PEACE A CHANCE!
Leave a comment to let me know you’re not a skeleton 👇
Learn English with another short story. In fact, this episode contains two stories. Listen until the end for the 2nd one. Repeat after me to practise your pronunciation. Learn some vocabulary & grammar in the second half of the episode, with an explanation of modal verbs of deduction in the past and present. Video version available.
Welcome back to the podcast. How are you doing out there in podcast land? Surviving?
Here’s a new episode. It’s time to do some more English learning with a story.
In this episode, I’m going to read another short story to you, and use it to teach you some English.
I recommend that as well as listening to me read the story out loud to you today, that you read this story out loud too, and I will give you a chance to do that by repeating after me.
We’ll also look at some vocabulary and grammar from the story during the episode. And if you listen until the end, I will tell you another story too.
That’s all going to come later in the episode. If you’re watching the video version – hello. Don’t forget to like & subscribe.
If you are listening to the audio version. Click the link in the description to visit the page for this episode where you will be able to read a transcript for the whole things. You’re welcome.
Recently I have been looking for short stories to help me teach English, the shorter the better, and I found lots of 100-word stories on several websites. A 100-word story is a story with no more than 100 words.
Anyone can submit a story to these sites. The stories are then checked by the website editors and then published for everyone to read.
The only rule for the writers, is that the stories have a 100-word limit. I think the minimum is 75 words, but the maximum is 100. So, a story with no more than 100 words.
That’s quite a challenge.
The writers need to be very disciplined. They have to choose their words carefully, and as a result these stories are very minimal and manage to convey descriptions and emotions using only a few words.
As a teacher of English, I think these stories are great because it gives us compelling and concise samples of English to work with.
Get the book
I want to just point out that there is a book full of these very short stories, which you could buy.
It’s called Nothing Short of 100: Selected tales from 100 Word Story
OK so let’s start with a story which I’ve selected from the Nothing Short of 100 book.
This story is called DOPPELGÄNGER
By the way, we don’t usually use an umlaut in English → ä
What is a doppleganger?
A doppelganger is someone who looks exactly like someone else, but it’s creepy and scary, like a ghostly copy of someone.
I think the word has its origins in German (hence the umlaut in the title), and translates directly as “double goer”. So your doppelganger is your double, a copy of you, who looks exactly like you and who goes around, walking the earth.
In my case, that would be Luka Modric, the Croatian footballer. That’s what people say anyway, that Luka Modric is my doppelganger.
Yes, he is my doppelganger. I’m not his doppelganger, ok? He’s my doppelganger. I was here first!
We do use the word in conversational English.
We say things like “Oh, I saw your doppelganger in the street today!” (meaning, “I saw someone who looked just like you”) or “It’s amazing, he’s your complete doppelganger!” etc.
I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that. Has it ever happened to you? Have you ever seen someone who looks exactly like someone you know? Have you ever done a double take and been confused for a split second? Has anyone told you that they’d seen your doppelganger?
OK, I’m now going to read the story
Just one question 👇
How did the person feel at the end of the story? Why?
Answer: She felt shocked, upset, sad, surprised and possibly heartbroken. Maybe she couldn’t believe her eyes, because she saw her lover with another woman, or she saw someone who looked exactly like her lover with another woman.
Listen to the episode to hear me summarise and explain the story.
Let me give my comments and explanations, line by line (listen to get my comments)
DOPPELGÄNGER I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you. I was walking past the outdoor tables of the French café, and just at the last second, I caught a familiar hand gesture, and looked again. It couldn’t have been you though, my love, because your other hand was clasping the hand of the woman opposite. Your heads were too close. She was laughing, that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment, totally in love. I walked on, heels tapping out a staccato rhythm, as I no longer wanted to look at the you who wasn’t you.
It was her husband/boyfriend, cheating on her, having an affair with another woman.
It wasn’t her husband/boyfriend. It was just someone who looked like him, but it still disturbed her because she’s terrified that he could cheat on her.
It was her ex, someone she is still in love with. They’re not together any more. He’s moved on, but she hasn’t.
It was a guy who she loves but they’re not together and she can’t bear the fact that he’s with someone else.
Perhaps she lost her husband (he died) and she just saw someone who reminded her of him.
Vocabulary & Grammar
The you who wasn’t you (Although you normally takes are/were, it is not plural, and so the relative pronoun who is singular)
Just at the last second
To catch (a look at) something (to get a glimpse of something)
Clasping her hand
To be totally in the moment
To walk on
A staccato rhythm
It couldn’t have been you, my love 👇
Modal Verbs of Deduction
Who is that?
I’m sure/certain it’s Dave
It must be Dave
It’s possible (that) it’s Dave-not sure
It could be DaveIt might be DaveIt may be Dave
It’s impossible (that) it’s Dave
It can’t be DaveIt couldn’t be Dave
Who was that?
I’m sure/certain it was Dave
It must have been Dave
It’s possible (that) it was Dave-not sure
It could have been DaveIt might have been DaveIt may have been Dave
It’s impossible (that) it was Dave
It can’t have been DaveIt couldn’t have been Dave
Repeat the story after me, line by line.
Try to say each line with no pauses between words.
Notice which word has the main emphasis (stress) in each line.
Don’t sound like a robot! 🤖
I almost didn’t see the you who wasn’t you.
I was walkingpast the outdoor tables of the Frenchcafé,
and just at the last second,
I caught a familiar hand gesture,
and looked again.
It couldn’t have been you though, my love,
because your other hand was clasping the hand of the woman opposite.
Your heads were too close.
She was laughing,
that abandoned laughing you do when you’re totally in the moment,
“This book says everyone has a doppelganger, a mirror image, and if you meet yours face to face, you’ll die.”
Janice, my flatmate, closed the book, finished her tea and toast, and slammed out of the door for her A&E shift at St. Margaret’s hospital just down the road. She loved any kind of fantasy literature, always immersed in some supernatural genre book. Not my cup of tea at all. Give me a good Nordic Noir mystery anytime.
After taking a shower I went to brush my teeth. If you meet your doppelganger face to face you’ll die, my reflection in the bathroom mirror laughed as I recited the words, but they’d begun to worm their subliminal way into my subconscious, waiting to claw their way to the surface and pounce.
One day, a couple of weeks later, I headed for the front door ready to set off into town where I worked at a music store. Doppelganger, I froze as my mind hissed the insidious word. What if I saw me on the train? Or stood behind me in the line at the coffee place? What if I came into the shop to buy a record and had to serve myself? The words shot through my mind. I let go of the door handle as if I had been electrocuted, and phoned in sick.
“Do you fancy a night out at that new wine bar down the street?” Janice bounced through the front door one afternoon, chirpy as a blue bird, her shift trauma-free for once.
“Not tonight, Janice, I’m still not feeling very good.” The image of my other self perched on a stool at the far end of the bar, possibly raising a toast, was too hard to stomach.
‘You haven’t been outside for ages, Natalie, not even for work…you’ll end up getting fired. What’s going on with you?” Janice pressed.
“I’ll meet my doppelganger and die if I go outside,” I burst into tears, knowing how ridiculous I sounded.
“You know there’s no such thing. You need to get help, Natalie. I’ve got a therapist friend who works at the hospital. I’ll fix you up an appointment.” She wrapped me in a comfort hug.
“You’re booked in for ten o’clock this morning.” Two days later Janice grabbed my arm and pulled me through the front door; I didn’t stand a chance.
“You won’t meet yourself between here and St. Margaret’s.” She smiled reassuringly and we set off down the street.
“Excuse me,” a hand tapped my shoulder as we waited to cross the busy main road. I turned around and my shriek froze the blood of everyone close by, before I stepped backwards off the footpath into the path of an articulated lorry.
“I didn’t mean to frighten her,” tears ran down the anguished face of one of the two men who’d been standing behind me. He was holding a large six-feet square mirror which they were carrying across to the framing workshop across the road. “I just wanted to ask her to step to one side.”
Summary of Story 2
The narrator, let’s call her Sue (although I realised after recording this that she’s actually called Nathalie in the story!) lives with her flatmate Janice.
One day Janice reads a line from a scary book she’s reading. It says that if you ever meet your doppelganger, you’ll die.
Sue doesn’t usually believe that kind of thing, but the idea gets into her head and as she is leaving the house one day, she suddenly gets scared that she might meet her doppelganger, and die.
So she decides to stay at home.
In fact she keeps staying at home, every day. The idea of meeting her doppelganger has made her too terrified to leave the house.
Janice gets worried about Sue and arranges for her to meet a therapist, and assures Sue that nothing can happen to her on the way.
Sue agrees to leave the house, but at the main road someone taps her on the shoulder.
Sue turns around and sees her own reflection.
The man who tapped her on the shoulder was trying to carry a mirror across the road.
He wanted to ask her to step to one side, to make space.
But Sue turned around and saw her doppelganger – her reflection in the mirror and screamed!
Then she stepped back, into the road, and was hit by a large lorry.
That’s the end of the episode, but check out LEP Premium.
I’m going to do a premium episode all about this second doppelganger story.
All the vocabulary (with a memory test), some grammar, some pronunciation practice.
I’ll go through the vocabulary and some grammar and I’ll do some pronunciation practice with it too, just like I did with the 100-word story.
Reading out loud can have lots of surprising benefits for our memory and our mental health. How can it also help with your English? In this episode I read an article to you, help you understand it and give comments on the importance of reading, both quietly in your head, and out loud. Video version and full transcript available.
Welcome to this new episode. This one is about reading and the power of reading aloud (reading out loud) and I think it can definitely help you with your English in various ways. Stick with me, there’s a lot to discover here.
I found an article the other day on the BBC’s website and I thought it was really interesting and definitely something I could turn into an episode of this podcast.
I am going to read the article to you in this episode. You can read it with me if you like. The link for the article is in the description, or if you are watching the video version you will see the text on the screen.
I’ll help you understand it all, we’ll consider the main points being made by the writer, I’ll give my thoughts on how this all relates to learning English and I’ll point out some bits of vocabulary for you to learn along the way.
Reading out loud ← what does this mean?
Normally when we read, we read silently. We read in our heads. 📖👀
But when we read out loud we actually say the words we are reading with our voice so that other people can hear you. 🗣️ That’s what out loud means.
Aloud and out loud are synonyms.
To read out loud (I had to read out loud in front of my class during my French lesson and it was a bit embarrassing)
To say something out loud (Don’t say that out loud, it’s supposed be a secret!)
To think out loud (What are you talking about? Oh, sorry, never mind, I’m just thinking out loud really)
To laugh out loud (LOL)
The title of the article I found is The Surprising Power of Reading Aloud, and I found it in the “Future” section of the BBC’s website.
BBC Future is a section of the BBC website where you can read some really interesting articles about lots of different subjects.
The articles are written in an academic style (so we are looking at academic English here to an extent), but these articles are very readable and they are exactly the type of reading text that you might find in an IELTS reading test. You often find academic texts about scientific subjects, or history, or psychology in IELTS tests.
So, it would be really good practice for you to read articles like this on a regular basis, whether you are preparing for IELTS or you’re just interested in developing your English generally. The articles on BBC Future are quite advanced – they are for native English speakers, but with a good dictionary and a bit of motivation, they could really help your English.
I’m going to help you do that in this episode with this particular article. I’ll take you through it and will explain things.
Let’s get started.
Before we start reading, I’ve got two tasks for you (and they’re important)
1st task: Consider some questions
Here are some questions to get you thinking 🧐🤔💭
I want you to consider these questions because this will get you in the right mental space to understand the article we’re going to read. It’s important to do this because this is how you get your mind ready before you read. So, consider these questions (below).
If you like you can pause this episode after I say these questions in order to actually answer them, in your own head or out loud.
Saying your answers out loud would be the best thing to do – to practise your speaking and putting your thoughts into words. So, if you can do that, do that, right now, with these questions.
Questions to consider before reading
When was the last time you read something in English? What was it, and why did you read it?
When you read in English or in your first language, do you usually read silently in your head or do you read out loud? Why?
In what situations do people sometimes read out loud?
Do you think reading out loud is more or less common these days than it used to be? Do people read out loud more these days, or did they do that more in the past? Why could this be?
Can you remember a time when someone read something out loud to you? What was the situation? How did it make you feel?
How about when you were a child? Can you remember any moments when someone read out loud to you? How do you feel about those memories?
What do you think is better for your English – reading texts silently in your head, reading texts out loud, or listening to other people read out loud to you? Why?
2nd task: Read the text 📖
Here’s a reading task for you
Before I read this article to you, I want you to read it yourself. Twice.
🔗 link in the description 🔗
First, read the text silently, then try reading it out loud.
You don’t have to read the whole thing. Maybe just do the first few paragraphs if you prefer.
But try it. Go on.
Read it silently first, then read it out loud.
Try not to sound like a robot 🤖
Put some life into the reading ❤️🔥
If/When you read it out loud, consider these questions. you .
Where are the pauses? Where should you pause when you read?
Which words in each line should be stressed (emphasised)?
Where does the voice go up and where does the voice go down?
How would you read it out like a TV presenter or a university lecturer?
Imagine you are reading this out for an audience.
It might affect the way you read it. 🗣️
You can do that now. The link to the article is in the description.
Read it – first silently, and then out loud like a presenter.
I’ll let you pause the episode right now and do that. I’ll continue speaking to you again in a moment.
– – – –
This is where you pause to read the article
– – – –
OK, welcome back. I know some of you didn’t pause the episode and read the text, which is totally fine.
But some of you did. Nice one.
I wonder how it was for you.
Was difficult or not?
Was it difficult to read the text?
It’s a different experience isn’t it, reading it out loud.
It has its own challenges.
Unknown vocabulary, difficult pronunciation, understanding the overall flow and structure of the text.
Now, let me read the article to you. You can read it with me too, or just listen. It’s up to you.
I’ve broken the text into sections. I’ll read a section of the article, then paraphrase what I read, add my comments and explain some words. Then we’ll move to the next section.
Whenever there’s a break in the text like this, it’s the end of a section.
– – – – – – – – –
When that happens, I’ll stop and explain things, then we’ll move on to the next section.
You’ll see some words highlighted in bold. These are words that you might not know, so I’ll explain them as we go.
Try reading aloud with me to work on your pronunciation if you like.
Most adults retreat into a personal, quiet world inside their heads when they are reading, but we may be missing out on some vital benefits when we do this.
For much of history, reading was a fairly noisy activity. On clay tablets written in ancient Iraq and Syria some 4,000 years ago, the commonly used words for “to read” literally meant “to cry out” or “to listen”.
“I am sending a very urgent message,” says one letter from this period. “Listen to this tablet. If it is appropriate, have the king listen to it.”
Only occasionally, a different technique was mentioned: to “see” a tablet – to read it silently.
Today, silent reading is the norm. The majority of us bottle the words in our heads as if sitting in the hushed confines of a library. Reading out loud is largely reserved for bedtime stories and performances.
But a growing body of research suggests that we may be missing out by reading only with the voices inside our minds. The ancient art of reading aloud has a number of benefits for adults, from helping improve our memories and understand complex texts, to strengthening emotional bonds between people. And far from being a rare or bygone activity, it is still surprisingly common in modern life. Many of us intuitively use it as a convenient tool for making sense of the written word, and are just not aware of it.
– – – – – 1/10 – – – – –
Colin MacLeod, a psychologist at the University of Waterloo in Canada, has extensively researched the impact of reading aloud on memory. He and his collaborators have shown that people consistently remember words and texts better if they read them aloud than if they read them silently. This memory-boosting effect of reading aloud is particularly strong in children, but it works for older people, too. “It’s beneficial throughout the age range,” he says.
MacLeod has named this phenomenon the “production effect”. It means that producing written words – that’s to say, reading them out loud – improves our memory of them.
– – – – – 2/10 – – – – –
The production effect has been replicated in numerous studies spanning more than a decade.
In one study in Australia, a group of seven-to-10-year-olds were presented with a list of words and asked to read some silently, and others aloud. Afterwards, they correctly recognised 87% of the words they’d read aloud, but only 70% of the silent ones.
In another study, adults aged 67 to 88 were given the same task – reading words either silently or aloud – before then writing down all those they could remember. They were able to recall 27% of the words they had read aloud, but only 10% of those they’d read silently. When asked which ones they recognised, they were able to correctly identify 80% of the words they had read aloud, but only 60% of the silent ones. MacLeod and his team have found the effect can last up to a week after the reading task.
MacLeod says one reason why people remember the spoken words is that “they stand out, they’re distinctive, because they were done aloud, and this gives you an additional basis for memory”.
We are generally better at recalling distinct, unusualevents, and also, events that require active involvement.
For instance, generating a word in response to a question makes it more memorable, a phenomenon known as the generation effect.
Similarly, if someone prompts you with the clue “a tiny infant, sleeps in a cradle, begins with b”, and you answer baby, you’re going to remember it better than if you simply read it, MacLeod says.
– – – – – 4/10 – – – – –
Another way of making words stick is to enact them, for instance by bouncing a ball (or imagining bouncing a ball) while saying “bounce a ball”.
This is called the enactment effect. Both of these effects are closely related to the production effect: they allow our memory to associate the word with a distinct event, and thereby make it easier to retrieve later.
– – – – – 5/10 – – – – –
The production effect is strongest if we read aloud ourselves. But listening to someone else read can benefit memory in other ways. In a study led by researchers at the University of Perugia in Italy, students read extracts from novels to a group of elderly people with dementia over a total of 60 sessions. The listeners performed better in memory tests after the sessions than before, possibly because the stories made them draw on their own memories and imagination, and helped them sort past experiences into sequences. “It seems that actively listening to a story leads to more intense and deeper information processing,” the researchers concluded.
Reading aloud can also make certain memory problems more obvious, and could be helpful in detecting such issues early on.
In one study, people with early Alzheimer’s disease were found to be more likely than others to make certain errors when reading aloud.
– – – – – 6/10 – – – – –
There is some evidence that many of us are intuitively aware of the benefits of reading aloud, and use the technique more than we might realise.
Sam Duncan, an adult literacy researcher at University College London, conducted a two-year study of more than 500 people all over Britain during 2017-2019 to find out if, when and how they read aloud. Often, her participants would start out by saying they didn’t read aloud – but then realised that actually, they did.
“Adult reading aloud is widespread,” she says. “It’s not something we only do with children, or something that only happened in the past.”
Some said they read out funny emails or messages to entertain others. Others read aloud prayers and blessings for spiritual reasons. Writers and translators read drafts to themselves to hear the rhythm and flow. People also read aloud to make sense of recipes, contracts and densely written texts.
“Some find it helps them unpack complicated, difficult texts, whether it’s legal, academic, or Ikea-style instructions,” Duncan says. “Maybe it’s about slowing down, saying it and hearing it.”
– – – – – 7/10 – – – – –
For many respondents, reading aloud brought joy, comfort and a sense of belonging. Some read to friends who were sick or dying, as “a way of escaping together somewhere”, Duncan says. One woman recalled her mother reading poems to her, and talking to her, in Welsh. After her mother died, the woman began reading Welsh poetry aloud to recreate those shared moments. A Tamil speaker living in London said he read Christian texts in Tamil to his wife. On Shetland, a poet read aloud poetry in the local dialect to herself and others.
“There were participants who talked about how when someone is reading aloud to you, you feel a bit like you’re given a gift of their time, of their attention, of their voice,” Duncan recalls. “We see this in the reading to children, that sense of closeness and bonding, but I don’t think we talk about it as much with adults.”
– – – – – 8/10 – – – – –
If reading aloud delivers such benefits, why did humans ever switch to silent reading? One clue may lie in those clay tablets from the ancient Near East, written by professional scribes in a script called cuneiform /ˈkjuːnɪˌfɔːm/.
Over time, the scribes developed an ever faster and more efficient way of writing this script. Such fast scribbling has a crucial advantage, according to Karenleigh Overmann, a cognitive archaeologist at the University of Bergen, Norway who studies how writing affected human brains and behaviour in the past. “It keeps up with the speed of thought much better,” she says.
Reading aloud, on the other hand, is relatively slow due to the extra step of producing a sound.
“The ability to read silently, while confined to highly proficient scribes, would have had distinct advantages, especially, speed,” says Overmann. “Reading aloud is a behaviour that would slow down your ability to read quickly.”
– – – – – 9/10 – – – – –
In his book on ancient literacy, Reading and Writing in Babylon, the French assyriologist Dominique Charpin quotes a letter by a scribe called Hulalum that hints at silent reading in a hurry. Apparently, Hulalum switched between “seeing” (ie, silent reading) and “saying/listening” (loud reading), depending on the situation. In his letter, he writes that he cracked open a clay envelope – Mesopotamian tablets came encased inside a thin casing of clay to prevent prying eyes from reading them – thinking it contained a tablet for the king.
“I saw that it was written to [someone else] and therefore did not have the king listen to it,” writes Hulalum.
Perhaps the ancient scribes, just like us today, enjoyed having two reading modes at their disposal: one fast, convenient, silent and personal; the other slower, noisier, and at times more memorable.
In a time when our interactions with others and the barrage of information we take in are all too transient, perhaps it is worth making a bit more time for reading out loud. Perhaps you even gave it a try with this article, and enjoyed hearing it in your own voice?
– – – – – 10/10 – – – – –
As a language practice exercise, try reading texts out loud.
You don’t have to do it all the time, but simply trying to read a text out loud as if you are reading it to some people, can be a good exercise.
Research suggests that it could help you remember words more effectively. The production effect means – producing words (saying them out loud) makes a difference to your ability to remember them later. Even just mouthing words when you read them helps them to go into your brain.
So, read aloud and mouth words when you read them.
Also, being prompted with a clue helps you remember words. This is called the generation effect. This encourages me a lot, because it confirms things I have been doing as a teacher, including in LEP Premium episodes when I use little prompts to help you recall words. For you, you could always create your own clues to help you remember words or phrases, or play word games in English in which you define words and then have to guess which words they are. Do this with new vocabulary. Of course, you would need friends or language partners to play with.
Acting words out, or linking them to physical movements also helps you remember words. So, when trying to remember words, add a physical element somehow, even if it means imagining yourself doing the word or being in a certain physical space when thinking of new words. For example if the expression is “to be wary of doing something” – put your hand to your chin and pretend you are being nervous about something or reluctant to do it. Make a sound like “Naaaaaaah, I’m a bit wary of doing that”. Perhaps imagine yourself at the end of a dark street and say “I’m a bit wary of going down there on my own. I think I’ll take the main road.”
Listening to other people read to you also helps a lot. So, the conclusion here is just keep listening to LEP of course! I am sure this works when someone is just speaking to you as well, especially if you are involved and caught up in what they are saying. That’s what I’ve always thought and I am sure scientific research would suggest that it’s true. My hypothesis is that people will remember more L2 words when they are presented in a meaningful context. It’s pretty obvious really.
Reading aloud might be good for your mental health. It seems that the exercise can reveal signs of dementia. Maybe reading aloud does require quite a lot of brain work – not only are you reading and decoding the words, but your brain is involved in some motor exercise too – meaning, muscle work, movement work. Surely, making your brain multi-task like this can only be good as a way of keeping it active. Brain training, basically.
It’s a good way to keep your brain young.
Reading aloud also makes you feel quite good, especially if you do it with others. It could be a good exercise with other learners of English, or with your English teacher. Of course, don’t only read aloud, but include it as part of your regular English practice. It’s especially enjoyable if you are reading out some interesting texts, and try to mix it up – some non-fiction stuff and also some stories and so on.
When you read aloud, consider where you need to chunk the text, pause, emphasise and use intonation.
Reading texts out loud is something I often do with my students in class. I ask my students to work out where the pauses should be, which words to emphasise and where the voice goes up or down.
This exercise reveals things about the text, including the structure and the real meanings and intentions of the writer.
Try reading aloud from time to time. Also try reading out loud with me, at the same time as me sometimes (if there is a transcript with the episode). It might help you notice more aspects of the language in the text, help you remember it more, and help you practice your pronunciation as well as your reading. It might also just make you feel good.
What do you think?
Leave your comments below.
What have you been thinking while listening to this?
Has it given you any ideas about learning English?
Do you have anything to add?
Put your thoughts into English in the comment section.
A Premium Series
I’m also publishing a 3-part premium series all about the language in this episode. It’ll be available soon or maybe it’s already available now. I’m going to record them right away in fact. They are the next things I’m going to record.
In those premium episodes I will go through the vocabulary which I highlighted in the text again, and I’ll expand things with slightly more detailed explanations and examples, then I’ll test your memory of those words and phrases (with some prompts and some sentences with missing words) and give you a chance to practise pronouncing all the words in sentences.
There will also be an episode where we practise reading aloud some of the paragraphs from the text, with advice about where to pause, which words to emphasise and so on, with sentences to repeat after me.
To get those episodes, sign up to LEP Premium on Acast+. You can add the premium episodes to your podcasting app, and also access PDFs and video versions that way. www.teacherluke.co.uk/premium for the premium series focusing on the language in this episode.
That’s it for this episode, but I will be back soon with more things for you to listen to, including more stories which I would like to read to you, and conversations with guests, and all the other types of episode I like to present to you on my show.
Thanks for listening, but for now – good bye bye bye!
Welcome back to the podcast. I hope you are doing well. Here are just a few words before we get stuck into this episode properly.
I am currently sitting here in my pod room. I got back from my holiday last week. Here we are. Back to normal life, whatever that means these days.
It was a very nice holiday, thanks for asking. I might do a post-holiday ramble episode and talk about it a little bit – although actually there isn’t that much to tell. Just standard holiday things – sunshine, a bit of time at the beach, a bit of swimming pool, a bit of cycling, eating seafood, plenty of relaxing, reading, playing with my daughter, spending time with the family – no big adventures really, no encounters with bears or volcano climbing this time.
Anyway I might do the traditional post-holiday ramble over the next week or so, we will see.
The thing is, I actually have a bit of a backlog of episodes to publish. I recorded 3 things during the holiday. So I just want to crack on get them published really, so I might forgo the post-holiday ramble this time. We will see. In any case, freshly recorded episodes are coming, including premium content where we get into the language side of things.
It’s nice to be back in podcastland, if a little strange. You know when you’ve been away on holiday, there’s a slightly odd feeling of melancholy when you return. That September feeling. That’s how it is for me – a kind of end-of-the-holidays, Sunday evening, going back to school sort of slightly sad feeling that I always used to get as a child and I still get these days as an adult. Maybe it’s a northern hemisphere thing, at this time of year.
As September arrives there’s that little hint in the air that autumn is here and winter is just around the corner. The kids all go back to school and we start thinking about work and studies again, and the things we’re trying to achieve, maybe learning English in your case, and after all, that is why we are here.
That’s why I am here right now, talking to you on this podcast – to help you improve your English and to enjoy the whole process, which is so important. Learning English can be enjoyable and should be enjoyable because it’s probably more effective if it is enjoyable. So there. I invite you to enjoy listening to my podcast and to let the magic happen.
Now, I need to introduce this episode and I am going to do my best to keep this little introduction as brief as possible. You’ll see that the episode is long. There’s plenty of good stuff here, from beginning to end. I hope you listen to the whole thing, in several stages if you prefer.
All I want to say is that this episode is packed with English language learning potential.
There is a veritable Smörgåsbord of vocabulary here for you to notice and pick up, a few more differences between American and British English and also some general inspiration for your learning of English.
The overall message being – there are many ways to get new vocabulary into your life, but the main thing is that you need to maintain a certain level of curiosity, an open minded willingness to challenge yourself a bit, a certain readiness to be entertained while you listen and study and a focused yet relaxed approach to the acquisition of English through all manner of different avenues.
My guest, Fred, technically doesn’t have English as a first language but he has a really broad range of English vocabulary in his head. He likes to do word games and he reads a lot, and checks new words in various online dictionaries, and explores those words and phrases until they become memorable for him, and he notices them again and again, and he tests himself with word games, and learns new things from the questions he can’t answer, and has fun doing it all. I think it’s a really good attitude. Let’s explore that and do some word games.
This conversation is actually a continuation of the theme of a couple of episodes I did with Fred last year in which we looked at the New York Times Spelling Bee, and also some word quizzes on the Collins Dictionary website (episodes 720 and 721).
This time Fred came back on the podcast to talk about crossword puzzles in which you have to use clues to find missing words in a grid. Sometimes the clues are quite cryptic and contain clever little riddles which you have to work out. Fred presents a few of these crossword puzzles to me during the episode and I invite you to listen carefully to the clues and try to guess the words with me. There are about 25 different questions overall, but plenty of other words and phrases which come up along the way.
We also talk about the history of English and the etymology of English words which have their origins in other languages and which reveal things about England’s ancient history and colonial past.
So there’s lots of word quizzes and vocab games, and then at the end a bit about etymology, English history and colonialism.
If you find it hard to keep track of all the vocab during this chat, then don’t worry because I’ll give a quick summary of it all at the end of the episode, and I mean quick. Just to consolidate some of the things you heard I will list the vocabulary at the end. It won’t be the full LEP Premium treatment. It’ll just be a quick a reminder, to recap.
Check the episode page on my website for all the vocabulary notes. There’s a video version too which you might want to check out on YouTube, but it doesn’t contain this lovely introduction or the incredibly useful and generous vocab re-cap which I will do at the end of this wonderful audio version.
Now, without any further ado, let’s chat to Fred again, and here we go…
So there you are that was Fred Eyangoh, being very useful there and sharing lots of fun vocab quiz questions and also insights about how crossword puzzles work and also words which have their roots in other languages.
I’ll invite Fred back onto this podcast to play “Plant, dish or animal”, which sounds like a fun game.
My prediction for the episode length
I said 1h36min
For the video version I was very close. It’s 1h34min22sec.
This audio version though is clearly much longer.
Mini Crossword Clues and Answers
Helpful reference for tourists – MAP
Dressy short sleeved shirt – POLO (Dressy means smart)
They have meters and motors – TAXIS (A meter is what counts the distance and price of the taxi journey)
D on a gearshift – DRIVE (In US English a “gearshift” is thing you use to change gears in a car – either an automatic or manual car, in UK English it’s more likely to be called a gear stick)
Fighting spirit – MOXIE (Moxie means “courage” or “nerve”, “guts” in US and Canadian slang)
Look _____ out there – LOOK ALIVE OUT THERE! (This is something that people shout at baseball players to encourage them. People also say “Attaboy” – “At her boy!”)
Football scores, for short – TDS (this is an abbreviation for “touchdowns”, which is of course American English because touchdowns are part of what we call American Football or Gridiron Football, but in the USA they just call it football, and they’re wrong of course, it’s not football it’s hand egg – just joking, they can call it football if they want, because, they have guns)
____-ball – SKEE (Skee ball is a game that you might find in amusement arcades in the USA. To me it’s the kind of word that you hear sometimes in American movies or TV shows)
Fred’s Crossword Quiz Questions for Luke
Campaigned for office – RAN (to run for president, for example)
Urban air pollution – SMOG (A portmanteau word between smoke and fog)
Rowing tool – OAR (also “to stick your oar in” – meaning to get involved in a situation which you shouldn’t be involved in. E.g. when two people are arguing and you interrupt and give your opinion too, but it just makes the argument worse, “Sticking your oar in doesn’t help! Just mind your own business)
Kisses and caresses in British lingo – SNOGS
It may pop before a toast – CORK
Doe’s mate (the mate of a doe) – STAG Other related words: buck (also a male deer) to buck (when a horse kicks its legs to get someone off its back) to buck the trend (to do something different than the trend – e.g. to focus on long form audio content, rather than short form video content) a fawn (a young deer – pronounced /fɔ:n/ by me and /fɑ:n/ by Fred with his American accent.
Angers – IRES (to ire someone means to make someone angry or frustrated, but I never use this word. Still it’s useful to know it and it’s the kind of thing that might come up in a book or something – also useful for crosswords and scrabble)
Blocked, as a river – DAMMED (We also have “Damned” as a kind of swear word, which for me sounds the same as dammed)
“Hold your horses” – WAIT
Shush – ZIP IT!
Current events? – TIDES (current has several meanings – a current in the water, an electrical current, and also the adjective current which means at the moment *not actual* as in some languages. Also there’s the homophone word currant which is a small dried grape, like a raisin)
Drop a line? – FISH (“drop me a line” means “call me on the phone” but you also drop a line when you go fishing)
Mini freezer – BRAKE (the brake is what stops a car, and a Mini is a kind of car. To freeze means to stop, so a mini freezer is a brake)
Good or bad vacuum review – SUCKS (this vacuum sucks! Good, that’s what it’s supposed to do!)
Locale for drawers in the study – ART SCHOOL (tricky – but it’s where you find artists involved in studying) Draw a picture with a pencil A drawer where you keep your knives and forks He speaks with a southern drawl
That’s all folks!
Leave your comments in the comment section.
Leave a positive review for the podcast on iTunes or wherever you listen.
Sign up to LEP Premium for all those bonus episodes where I focus on teaching you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation, and the storytime series.
All the very best to you and your English.
Have a lovely morning, afternoon, evening or night and I will speak to you again soon.
This is a free sample of LEP Premium, available for everyone. In this episode I’ll tell you about my technique for learning English with stories and transcripts, with full details about how to improve your English with my stories. Then I’ll tell you a story about a time I had an encounter with a bear, and then I’ll give you some language practice exercises for your grammar and vocabulary, and some pronunciation drills to let you repeat after me. Full PDF transcript available + video version available too.
🏆 LEP Premium is a series of bonus episodes from Luke’s English Podcast in which I teach you vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. LEP Premium is now available on Acast+ Episodes are usually in audio format (with some bonus videos), and you can listen to them in any normal podcast app.