Last update: 2009-04-01

*******Last podcast for this website******

2009-04-01 Length: 10m 5s

Hello everybody, This is the last article I will put on this website as it is full! My new site is: See you there!! Bye Alan …

Transcript for 25 relaxing challenges

New site …

How much speaker how much learner?

2009-03-21 Length: 3m 35s

Hello again Today I want to make a suggestion about how we can make a decision on our language skills. People say “I am a learner of English,” “ I am learning French”, “I learn Italian” etc This means that we think of ourselves as “learners” , “students” “pupil” Then people may say: “I am a beginner of Chinese” “I speak some German” “I can get by in Russian” All the time we make these sorts of statements to other people, particularly native speakers, we make a judgement of our ability and class ourselves as a “learner”. I want to suggest that we think of ourselves as both learner AND speaker. This way we can make a judgement in a different way which I believe will help us improve and enjoy language. For example I would say that I am 80% speaker of French and 20% learner I would say that I am 60% speaker of German and 40% learner I would say that I am 10% speaker of Chinese and 90% learner I would say that I am 5% speaker of Spanish and 95% learner This rating changes as we feel we know more and are confident in speaking. Even as a native speaker of English I would also say that I am a learner I think I am maybe 98% speaker of English and 2% learner. This is because I learn new phrases and words in English as I learn new things about my language or as new words come into the language. For example I did not know the word “Podcast” two years ago, but now I use the word a lot. These figures need not be very accurate – they are just a way of judging our language skills. My idea is that we rate our speaking to learning depending on our own feelings and attitude to the language I believe the more we tell ourselves we can call ourselves a “speaker” – even if the percentage is quite low, the more we will feel proud, enjoy speaking as well as learning and make great progress. Bye for now Be good be happy …

Relaxing Challenges

2009-03-16 Length: 5m 3s
Hello everybody Today I want to talk about an idea for learning I call "Relaxing Challenges" Remember when you were a child and you liked to play? Sometimes you dared yourself to try things: climb a tree, make a snowman, build a sandcastle, catch a ball. Each of these sort of things were a physical challenge. Some other things were mental challenges: playing chess, making a jigsaw, drawing and painting. Learning a language is a big challenge. It is a huge undertaking; building up vocabulary, pronunciation, writing a text, reading a book, listening to speech and also speaking ourselves are all different challenges with language learning. When I refer to a "relaxing challenge" I don't mean having a rest. I mean setting ourselves a small challenge with a relaxed mind, but with an energetic and enthusiastic intention. For a language learning "relaxing challenge", we can think of something to do with the language we are learning that challenges us for a short while, but doesn't tire us out completely. Some examples: Reading a passage quickly to see how many words we know Speaking a text to see how well we can pronounce it Seeing if we can learn 5 new words a day Try singing a song in the language Try phoning or e-mailing someone and speak about a subject you are not very familiar with Listen to a foreign radio station to see how many words you can understand Ask a friend for their opinion on how they think you speak All these ideas and many more are a way of us using the language or practicing and pushing our knowledge and skill further....but without worrying. Like we did when we were a child. We didn't climb a tree to worry about falling We didn't build a sandcastle to worry about the sea washing it away We didn't worry about dropping a ball sometimes We can put this sort of attitude also to language study. I do not mean act like a child, I mean be "childlike" in our way of challenging ourselves to do something which excites us about language and relax after, safe in the knowledge that even if we did not do things so well, at least we had a try and enjoyed the challenge Be good be happy Bye for now …

Deutsch/English videocast

2009-03-08 Length: 3m 3s

Hrllo everyone I am back after quite a long absence. I had problems with my home internet connection. Here is something new, a German/English videocast See what you think Bye for now Alan …

Punch and Judy Shows

2008-12-20 Length: 3m 49s

I hope you like this podcast about Punch and Judy. A famous traditional puppet show in England. Bye for now Alan …

Reading and Listening Practice (Article about tea)

2008-11-30 Length: 5m 6s

China, the homeland of tea It is universally acknowledged that China is the original tea-growing area, as well as the first country to grow, produce and drink tea. In the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1271-1368) Dynasties a popular custom was tea appraising. Over the long history of drinking tea, a special and simple Chinese tea culture came into being. Drinking tea was not only for quenching thirst or for enjoyment, but also for the promotion of friendship and mutual understanding. Folk customs of drinking tea reflected the ancient Chinese people's great interest in tea culture. (to appraise – to value, to judge) to quench- to satisfy (mutual – common) People often used tea as a betrothal gift; for it could not be "transplanted." After accepting tea as a betrothal gift, a girl could not capriciously change her decision to marry her fiancé. Betrothal – promise of marriage capricious – impulsive - reckless Entertainment of guests to tea is the most fundamental social behavior in the Chinese people's contacts with each other. When a guest comes, the Chinese will offer him or her a cup of tea to express friendship. Fundamental –basic, original China is the home country of tea. Before the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Chinese tea was exported by land and sea, first to Japan and Korea, then to India and Central Asia and, in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) Dynasties, to the Arabian Peninsula. In the early period of the 17th century, Chinese tea was exported to Europe, where the upper class adopted the fashion of drinking tea. Chinese tea, like Chinese silk and China, is an outstanding contribution to the world's material and spiritual civilization. Adopted – take on China is the homeland of tea. It is believed that China had tea-shrubs as early as five to six thousand years ago, and human cultivation of tea plants dates back two thousand years. Tea from China, along with her silk and porcelain, began to be known over the world more than a thousand years ago and has since always been an important Chinese export. At present more than forty countries in the world grow tea, with Asian countries producing 90% of the world's total output. All tea trees in other countries have their origin directly or indirectly in China. The word for tea leaves or tea as a drink in many countries is a derivative from the Chinese character "cha." The Russians call it "cha'i", which sounds like "chaye" (tea leaves) as it is pronounced in northern China, and the English word "tea" sounds similar to the pronunciation of its counterpart in Xiamen (Amoy). The Japanese character for tea is written exactly the same as it is in Chinese, though pronounced with a slight difference. The habit of tea drinking spread to Japan in the 6th century, but it was not introduced to Europe and America till the 17th and 18th centuries. Now the number of tea drinkers in the world is legion and is still on the increase. Derivative – taken from, original legion – great many …

More advice on English pronuciation

2008-11-21 Length: 15m 51s

Hello everybody. Alan here. Thanks for listening to my podcast. Today I want to talk about some of the difficulties with English pronunciation. There are certain letters or combination of letters that are often difficult for people learning English. I want to demonstrate some of these difficulties and ways to help your pronunciation sound more English. Firstly, I must say that I speak with a northern English accent and as such, my English pronunciation is a little bit different to London English or American English. So let’s start with some vowel sounds. A E I O U In English, we cannot just read word and know how it is pronounced. Take the word “right” for example. The “righ” is pronounced like the word “rye” or the “ri” in the word “sterile” So we must always learn the correct pronunciation from teachers, recordings or from dictionaries that use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) So, which are the most common sounds that can often be pronounced differently by people learning English, than the pronunciation used by a native English speaker? This depends on the nationality of the person learning English I think. Many people who speak other European languages sometimes pronounce “e” as “ee” ( as in “veeseet” instead of visit) and “a” as “eh” ( “ehpple” instead of apple) However, sometimes the sound of “e” is “ee” and the sound of “a” is “eh” as in the word “eat” and the word “any”. For those of you who speak European languages, try saying this: “ When I visit my mother, if she has any, she always gives me an apple to eat because she says it does me good to eat fruit” People who speak Chinese (as a native language) often mistake an “l” sound for an “r” so “right” sounds like “light” and sometimes they add another syllable to a word when there isn’t one. As in for example the words “and” which becomes sometimes “and-a” and “is” becomese “is-a” So for those of you listening who are Chinese, try saying this: “I know when I have the right light for reading, it is when I can see the text and the text is clear to see” English vowels are often pronounced as diphthongs which sound like two vowels together Bay for example is spoken like “bay-ee” Day is spoken like “day-ee” Go is spoken like “goh-u” Fine is spoken like “fye-een” Sometimes English people pronounce some words a little different to Americans: “Stupid” (English) “ Stupid” (American) Take care with these sounds: “th” To get this sound (which I think is very difficult) is put the very tip of your tongue touching your top teeth very softly and the allow a little air out and pull your tongue back quickly. For the other “th” sound as in: “the end” for example, just allow your voice to sound at the same time Try saying: “the thing that I think is that their thoughts are thoroughly thought-out at the end” “r” To get the “r” position correct. Curl your tongue back a little and let your tongue go flat as you say a word. Try saying this: “Roger ran after the rabbit and really regretted not reaching it” “w” To get the “w” sound try putting your lips to say “oo” like “food” and as you say the “w” let your jaw slightly drop – but only a little bit. Try saying this: “when I went with my wife to Wales, we wanted to go walking but it was a wet weekend” “v” this is sometimes difficult for Spanish speakers. To get the “v” sound put your top teeth on your bottom lip softly say the “v” and lower your jaw slightly – but only a little bit Try saying this: “vans are very wonderful fun vehicles” I have put a “w” word and an ‘f” word there for you to show you the difference between “v” and”w” Try to keep the rhythm of the speech in a similar way to English peoples’ The way to do this is to listen for the word intonation (stress) on the words and copy them. Without intonation, here is a sentence: “This sentence shows where we put stress on words when we speak” With intonation “This sentence shows where we put stress on words when we speak” Can you hear the difference? Finally, for this podcast, never be afraid to speak a little bit slower, because this gives you more time to say the words and think a little before you say anything. This is very useful when reading out loud. To give you an example, which do you think sounds better? I like to show you how to speak English better, and sometimes it is better to speak a little more slowly to make the language sound clear to listeners. It is fine, no English person should ever criticise you for doing this” So you can try to break up the sentence a little bit…. So, I hope you find this podcast useful for your pronunication. The important thing is never to worry about pronunciation. The most important thing is to be understood. In fact many foreign accents sound nice to English people. Bye for now Be good be happy …

40 minutes a day language learning

2008-11-16 Length: 8m 36s

Hello everybody. The transcript for this is the next podcast. You can download it as a PDF text document. Bye for now Alan …

40 minutes a day language learning (PDF Transcript)

Here is the transcript - just download in normal way BGBH Alan …

**ADVANCED ENGLISH" (Article: Language learning")

2008-11-11 Length: 8m 25s
Hello everybody. You can download the transcript for this podcast by clicking "download" on the next podcast ***TRANSCRIPT*** PDF format Take care Alan …

Introductory phrases - PDF Transcript

Hello everybody. Here is a transcript of my most recent podcast. Just click on "download" to receive it. You can then print it. Be good, be happy Alan …

***TRANSCRIPT*** for November 11th Podcast

Here is the transcript as a PDF document for you to read. Just click on download... Bye Alan …

More on introductory phrases for opening a conversation

2008-11-09 Length: 6m 14s
Hello everybody. It’s been a while since I made a podcast. Today I wanted to give you some suggestions on how to start conversations with native speakers of English, or if you cannot find a native speaker to speak with, then try them out on anyone else you know who will speak English with you. Good luck! Take care Be good be happy Conversation starters…for students of different levels Beginning students “Please tell me about your family.” “What do you do? (student, worker, etc.) Where?” “Where do you live? Do you like it there? Why or why not?” “What did you do yesterday?” “What do you plan to do tomorrow?” “Please tell me how to get from here to your house (or the university or some hotel etc.)” “What do you like to do with your free time?” Intermediate students (can also use the above questions) "What did you do yesterday, from the time you got up to the time that you went to bed?” “Why did you choose to study _______?” “What would you like to be doing five years from now?” “Tell me about a time when you travelled somewhere.” “Please tell me about your favourite restaurant.” (favorite in USA) “Please tell me about your favourite book.” “Please tell me about your favourite movie.” “Please tell me about your favourite shop” (store in USA) “Please tell me about your best friend.” “Please tell me about an important moment in your life.” “Please tell me about your mum.” (mom in USA) “Please tell me about your dad.” “Please tell me about your brother (or sister or cousin or etc.).” “What kind of books do you like?” “What kind of films do you like?” (movies in USA) Advanced students (can also use the above questions) Note: Some of these should only be used with speakers of the same sex. “Please use a lot of detail and tell me what you did yesterday between (for example) 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.” “What qualities (or characteristics or traits) do you like in a friend?” “What was your childhood like?” “What is your first memory?” “Please tell me about the happiest day of your life.” “How important is religion in your life? Why?” “How important is politics in your life? Why?” “What is your opinion about….? (some major world event going on now) “In your opinion, what makes life worth living?” “What is the biggest mistake that you have ever made?” “What is your most embarrassing moment?” …

Bonfire Night

2008-11-01 Length: 1m 0s

Guy Fawkes Day (5th November) This is generally known as "Bonfire Night", and marks the failure of the "Gunpowder Plot" in which Guy Fawkes (the leader of the conspirators) and his fellow conspirators planned (in 1605) to blow up (with gunpowder) the Houses of Parliament in London. Once, it was common for a family with children to have its own bonfire. But now for safety reasons, the bonfires are usually organized by local councils or communities, Two essential ingredients for the occasion are a “Guy” ( a figure of a man made of (wood)sticks and old clothes put on top of the bonfire and plenty of fireworks of all types for the crowds to enjoy. Vocabulary: Bonfire = big (good) fire made from wood and built on a field or in gardens Guy Fawkes – the man that lead a conspiracy to blow up the parliament in London Conspirators – people who make a plan to do something like a crime Gunpowder – explosive used in fireworks – which is why the festival has fireworks to “celebrate” Council – local government Houses of Parliament – the building where the government of Britain is housed. Essential ingredients - the most important things necessary Figure – model of a person (in this case, the same size as a man) …

Poem - "The Donkey"

2008-10-16 Length: 42s

The Donkey I saw a donkey One day old His head was too big For his neck to hold; His legs were shaky And long and loose, They rocked and staggered And weren’t much use He tried to gambol And frisk a bit But he wasn’t quite sure Of the trick of it His queer little coat Was soft and grey, And he curled his neck In a lovely way. He looked so little And weak and slim I prayed the world Might be good to him. Anon. …

Intonation practice

2008-10-07 Length: 1m 58s
I explain a little more about using intonation in English Hello everybody I thought that today you might be interested in listening to English intonation. English has two main "tones": a "rising" tone for questions, and a "falling" tone for statements and commands. Father: "Are you not going to play with your friends today?" Son: "No, I'm not" (slight falling sound on "not") Father: "Why not?" Son: "Because I feel ill" Father: "Oh dear! what is wrong? Son: "I fell over and banged my head and I have a headache!" Father: "Ok, I think you need to rest!..." question sound: "today?" statement: "I'm not" question: why not? (sympathetically) statement "I feel ill" question: "what is wrong?" statement: "I have a headache" command: "you need to rest!" This dialogue shows how we use the falling and rising tones for conversation a bit clearer. …

Weekend words October 4th

2008-10-04 Length: 14m 4s
I hope you like my chatcast. It's a bit longer than usual and I'll put a text here in a couple of days. Be good be happy (BGBH) Alan …

Making a nice cup of English tea

2008-09-18 Length: 8m 51s

How to make a perfect English cup of tea Guest Author - Hellie T. One of the things you need to be able to do is to sit down and enjoy a really good cup of tea. As a tea drinker myself I drink tea at breakfast, eleveneses, lunch, afternoon tea and quite often in the evening as well! This gives you plenty of opportunities to enjoy a cuppa in your garden. To make a really delicious cup of English tea - just follow the instructions below. Please note that if your tap water is heavily chlorinated it will make the tea taste horrid and you will need to filter the water before boiling it. Make a Pot of Tea to drink in your English Garden · Put freshly drawn cold water into the kettle – never use water that has been boiled more than once – and make sure your kettle is kept clear of scale · Boil the kettle. · Pour a little boiling water into the empty tea pot – swirl it around carefully to warm it up. Pour away this water that you used to warm the pot. · Put tea into the teapot - one teabag for each person or one rounded teaspoon of loose tea for each cup needed. It is better to add one extra bag or teaspoon “for the pot” to get a really good flavoured cup of tea. I recommend you use a tea generally called English Breakfast tea. A tea pot taking 20oz is about right for 2 people · When the water is boiling pour it directly onto the tea. · Then leave it to brew for a few minutes. 3-5 minutes is best and a tea cosy helps the tea stay piping hot whilst brewing.(Why not make one decorated with English garden flowers?) · In an English Garden you will be sitting at your wooden table using a china teapot and china teacups.In teacups - the milk should always go in the cups first – because you have made the tea in the pot – it is different when making tea in a mug - see below!) Semi- skimmed milk tastes the best, never put cream or powdered milk in tea because they completely spoil the flavour. · Pour the tea into the cup, don’t forget to use a strainer if you are using leaf tea. · If required add a teaspoon of fine white sugar - never ever use brown sugar or honey! – stir and take into your garden carefully. Sit by your lavender or English Garden feature and sip the tea savouring the taste and enjoying your garden at the same time. If you are making tea in mugs it is important that you warm the mug before you add the tea, swirl and empty. Put in the tea in and pour the freshly boiled water onto it. Never put the water in first and add a tea bag – this will make the tea taste disgusting! Don’t put the milk in first either or prod or stir the bag whilst it is in the water! Just wait about 2 minutes before you take out the teabag. Then is the time to add the milk to taste. Now you can drink your tea! …

French Song "L'auvergnat"

2008-09-13 Length: 3m 20s
Here is my version of "L'auvergnat" (Song for the person from the Auvergne) It was written and sung by Georges Brassens It is ano old French song - and I like it a lot I hope you like my version Bye for now Alan If you want the English words - just e-mail me at …

Local Markets

2008-09-07 Length: 4m 40s

Hello everybody, I have had some nice feedback from visitors to my site. I have realised that to help people with English, it is sometimes very useful to talk about cultural activities. Today I want to talk about small markets we have in some towns in England. Today, we went to a town called Skipton, near where I live. We visited a small market. This was called a “Farmers’ market”. It is where local produce can be sold. It is an alternative to supermarkets which are the shops where most people go shopping for groceries. However, these markets give people the chance to buy some produce made locally by private business owners and which can be very good – although more expensive that supermarket equivalents. The produce we saw today was: cheese, meats, fruit and vegetables, herbal oils, sweets (called fudge) and not just food, there was also pottery and jewellery. Also in the town was a European market. These are sellers from France and Germany. They sell speciality products also, but prices are more expensive – because they have to travel from France and Germany and bring their products with them. With high fuel prices, it perhaps makes their products a little too expensive. At the European market we saw: special German beer, French cheese, biscuits from Brittany (a region in France) many types of olives and special salami sausages with meat from wildboar and wild deer. It is interesting to have the chance to visit these markets. They are held in quite a number of towns around the country, usually on a Saturday or Sunday. Of course, many towns have weekly markets. Skipton’s weekly market is held each Saturday and the stallholders put their stalls along the main street. This market sells food, clothes and many other products. Take care Be good be happy Bye for now …

Guitar tune: "Bubble and Squeak"

2008-08-25 Length: 1m 28s

Here's a guitar tune I recorded today. I hope you like it It is called "Bubble and Squeak" This is actually a food we eat in England: Bubble and squeak From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Bubble and squeak (sometimes just called bubble) is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The chief ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added. It is traditionally served with cold meat from the Sunday roast, and pickles. Traditionally the meat was added to the bubble and squeak itself, although nowadays the vegetarian version is more common. The cold chopped vegetables (and cold chopped meat if used) are fried in a pan together with mashed potato until the mixture is well-cooked and brown on the sides. …

Weekend words 24th August - Reading technique

2008-08-24 Length: 3m 53s
Hello everybody Alan here and welcome to And today I’m just speaking without a text. Usually, as you know, I prepare a text. To make it easier for me and also easier for you to read as I say the same things as I’ve written. But today I’m just doing a “chatcast” and what I mean by a chatcast is I just chat. I just speak about things I am interested in and hopefully you find it interesting too – well I hope so anyway. So today I’m going to speak about reading in a different language and just recently I was on holiday in France and I was reading some French newspapers and French books during the holiday and sometimes I find the text very difficult. In fact, very often I find it very difficult to follow the text as I would do in English for example. So I was trying to find was as in how to improve my reading skills and firstly I thought to myself how do I improve my understanding of the text? So I came with an idea which I seem to think works quite well and so I’d like to share this idea with you. The idea is that to understand the text better, maybe read it more than once, everyone says that of course. But I started to read each sentence more than once. Just read a sentence, then re-read a sentence quickly. So, hopefully it would not take much more time to read a text than it would do if you didn’t do that, because usually people read a text in other languages rather slowly, but my idea is to read the text quickly, but read it twice. So read each sentence twice quickly rather than one sentence read slowly to try and understand it. See if you like this idea it may help you. It certainly is helping me to read in other languages. I think reading each sentence twice helps us to understand it more because you are seeing the words twice. So that is my idea for today – my weekend words for today and I hope you find this idea useful. So, I’ll see you next time and be good be happy and I’ll see you again soon Bye …

Listening strategies #1

2008-08-21 Length: 8m 33s
Hello everybody, I’m back from my holidays in France. Today I want to talk about when people speak fast and what you can do to help understand what is spoken. I think listening is the most difficult skill of the four skills in language learning For example: With writing, we have the chance to decide what we want to write and spend time on this. With speaking, we have the chance to decide what we say With reading, we usually have the chance to read the text many times if we want to. I don’t mean that the other skills are easy, they are often very difficult. What I mean is that with listening to conversational speech we often have no control over it. To explain more details: ï‚· Often the speaker has an accent ï‚· We cannot control the speed of the words (unless we deliberately ask the speaker to slow down – and very often we can’t do that) ï‚· Maybe the speaker is using slang or expressions – sometimes dialect words ï‚· Maybe more than one person is speaking at the same time, for example at a dinner table ï‚· Maybe the subjects being discussed are cultural, social or political – and these subjects can be difficult even in our own language. So, what can we do to make it easier to understand spoken language? I have some ideas that can help sometimes. Listen for key words (important words that help understand what is being discussed) Listen for small pauses when people think a bit more what they want to say Listen carefully to the stressed words (this is useful in English because English words have stress on the pronunciation If you don’t understand something and it is possible to ask for more information, then ask a question. Instead of “could you say that again please?” , say “oh, was I correct in thinking you said this…….?” If you listen to English radio, then be careful not to listen to something very complex or you will think you understand nothing, when it is mostly because the radio speaker is using vocabulary that you don’t yet know. The most important thing to remember is not to worry –keep relaxed. The reason I say this is because I know from experience that many people can communicate well with very few words - providing people are relaxed and friendly. To demonstrate, I’ll read a text very fast and then show you why it is perhaps difficult From today’s “Daily Mail” Teenager Holly Herdman clearly hadn't heard that it's not a great idea to mention you're having a party on a social networking site. And it is especially unwise if you have been left in charge of the house while your parents are away. What she claimed was intended as a drink with a few friends ended with a mob of teenage youths running riot through a small market town. Key words: Teenager Holly Herdman not a great idea - having a party -social networking site- unwise left in charge parents away – claimed –drink with a few friends – ended up – mob of youths – running riot – through town If you listen again now to a slower version, you can see that the language is complex and only 70 words. Many news items use lots of descriptive words and the language puts a lot of information in a few sentences. This is difficult to understand if it is spoken fast as much information is there. So, knowing more about why listening is difficult helps us to think of ways we can improve our listening skills Be good, be happy …

Culture: Leeds and Liverpool canal

2008-08-02 Length: 2m 29s

Hello everybody This podcast is about the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is the longest canal in Northern England at 127 miles (204km) long. It passes through 91 locks with a summit level of 487 feet (148 metres) The canals of Great Britain are a major part of the network of inland waterways in the United Kingdom. They have a colourful history, from use for irrigation and transport, to becoming the focus of the Industrial Revolution, to today's role mainly used by pleasure boaters. Despite a period of abandonment, today the canal system in Great Britain is again in good shape, with many abandoned and derelict canals being reopened, and even the construction of some new routes under way. Along the canal bank is a nice place to walk in summer. …

Weekend Words August 2nd "More on Accent"

2008-08-02 Length: 12m 1s

Hello everybody. Many people I speak with who learn English would like to know how to “improve” their English accent. It’s always difficult for me to advise on this subject. Every nationality has a certain accent when they speak English, including the English themselves. For those of you who are interested in the way we speak in Britain, here is a good website To help answer the question, I’ve made a list of things to think about and I’ll discuss them a little here. What is an accent? This website says: Accent refers to a speaker's style of pronunciation. It may signal the regional or social identity of the speaker. Accent does not refer to the content of what is said So, this means that most of the time accent is not important for conversation. Regional Accent A “Geordie” accent is the regional speech style used by speakers in the North East of England. A “Cockney” accent is the speech style used by some people in the London area. 'Book' might be pronounced as 'Bewk' in northern England, but 'Back' in southern England. Similarly, the term 'car' might be pronounced as 'kaar' and 'caw' in these two regions. Use Every geographical area has its own characteristic and recognisable accent which is used by a group. Everybody speaks with an accent. Those people who speak with an accent called received pronunciation [RP] are just using the accent of prestige. It is quite common for a person to speak Standard English with a regional accent. Accent is not the same thing as dialect. The term dialect refers to grammar and vocabulary as well as pronunciation. That is, it describes the content of speech. Fewer than six percent [yes! - 6%] of the UK population speak Received Pronunciation (RP). Perhaps this statistic is surprising when we consider what prestige it has held historically and currently. RP was once itself a regional accent - that of the East Midlands. It acquired its status because East Midlands speakers converged on London as it became a centre for merchants. In other words, London became the power base and the financial centre, and the East Midlands accent became the spoken standard. This prestige accent developed alongside the regional accent of the London area. The co-existence of these two accents still exists today. The “ Cockney” accent is spoken in the East End of London by many original Londoners, whilst RP is spoken by many politicians and by upper-class people who live and work in the same area. The Cockney accent is a regional accent, and RP is class-based. Many regional speakers feel uncomfortable about their accent. This perpetuates the deference and prestige given to RP. Recent studies have shown that RP speakers will often be chosen for jobs, despite the superior skills of regional-speaking competitors. Some presenters on radio and television are employed even though they have strong regional accents. However, they tend to be used on programmes which are not very prestigious, such as weather forecasts, arts programs, and regional news bulletins. Accent can still be a very powerful indicator of status, and it is often an emotive item in social interaction. Speech varies subtly between individuals using the same accent. Because of this, a broad description is all that can be achieved. This applies to the classification of other accents too. (more on the website My feeling is that many people from other countries want to have an “RP” accent. My opinion is that the most important thing is clarity of speech. In other words, as long as other speakers understand, then is it so important? Of course, when a British person speaks English to an American, the American will know it is an English person speaking. Some nationalities are good at disguising accents. Dutch people often sound a little like an American when they speak English. How do we “improve” an English accent? My feelings are that we should try to: Speak as clearly as we can when we are talking. Clear speaking is always appreciated Speak a little slower than we would want to – it does make a difference Speak with clear vowel sounds: A E I O U Speak with good endings to words: clocK, workinG, gardeN, studiO, floweR Speak with the correct stress on words (use a dictionary to check the intonation) WELcome, frusTRAtion, LANGuage. Often English people like to hear different accents. They like the sound of a foreign accent. It often has a charming sound, an appeal. Even small mistakes are forgiven. So, now you know a little more about accents, you can visit the websites I have given you and make your own mind up. I only write about my own opinions, so you must always form your own opinion. That is why I prefer to call my podcasts “guides” I am on holiday now for two weeks, but when I am back on the 19th August I will try to make a podcast for you just after then. In the meantime, have a great August (summer in the northern hemisphere, and for those of you in the southern hemisphere, I hope it is not too cold) Bye for now …

More on fluency and conversations

2008-07-30 Length: 6m 52s
Fluency - setting up a conversation Hello everybody. Today I want to talk about how to make your spoken English flow better and to help you with making it a little easier to talk to people, particularly native speakers. To have a good conversation you need to start well, enjoy the conversation and make it a two way thing and to find a good way to finish. This is useful and has nothing to do with the length of time you speak for. To start off a conversation, try to remember some good opening sentences: If you know somebody already… (informal) “How are you today?” “Nice to see you, how’s it going?” “What’s new? How are things?” “It’s good to see you” If you are meeting someone for the first time (formal) “It’s a pleasure to meet you, my name is…..” “Nice to meet you, my name is, how are you?” “Let me introduce myself, I’m……(name)” The next part is to let the other person do something similar and then you have names. If they use first names, then you can also use first names. The next stage is to give yourself time to think. The small pauses seem to be a long time, but they will only be a few seconds. “I’m learning English and…………. I’m finding it so interesting” “It’s great to be able to speak with you in English………………, I’m enjoying learning it” “I would like to improve my English…..I do have a few problems now and then, so forgive me if I am a little slow at times….” “What a pleasure it is to be able to speak some English…… I like learning it and I’m hoping to improve it” Then you can follow my advice about keeping the conversation going by letting the other person speak more, asking questions, saying phrases like: “ah really?” “that’s interesting” “I see” “hmmm, well you make a good point there” “I agree with you…” (if you do agree) “That’s right!” If you are uncertain, or you don’t understand so well “Oh, I’m not sure what you mean there…” “Could you repeat that please?” “That’s interesting, but I’m not sure what you meant by……” “Really? Well, it’s certainly something to think about” Many of these sorts of sentences can be used to keep conversations going and also give you time to relax and enjoy the conversation because most of the work will be on the other person. The more time you can give yourself in a conversation, the more time you have to think of the right words you want to say . If they ask you what you think about something and you are not sure what to say, then you can use these sorts of phrases: “Oh, I’m not sure about that, tell me what you think again please?” “Well, I would think it is something to consider yes,” “I think it’s not easy to answer that, what’s your opinion?” All the time, these sentences and pauses give you more time without the other person realising that you are doing this because they are also answering your questions. Enjoy your conversations…. Bye for now …

Song Title: "I'll Be Back" by Alan Palmer (Original Artists: The Beatles from Hard Day's Night)

2008-07-19 Length: 2m 40s

Hello, Today I am playing a Beatles song for you - which I like very much. Here are the songwords: You know, if you break my heart I'll go But I'll be back again 'cause I told you once before goodbye But I came back again I love you so, oh I'm the one who wants you Yes I'm the one who wants you oh, ho, oh, ho, oh You could find better things to do Than to break my heart again This time I will try to show that I'm Not trying to pretend I thought that you would realize That if I run away from you that you would want me to But I got a big surprise Oh, ho, oh, ho, oh You could find better things to do Than to break my heart again This time I will try to show that I'm Not trying to pretend I want to go But I hate to leave you You know I hate to leave you Oh, ho, Oh, ho You, if you break my heart I'll go But I'll be back again Bye for now Alan …

Speaking with native (or near native) speakers of English

2008-07-14 Length: 4m 51s
More on conversations with native speakers Today I’d like to tell you more on starting conversations with native speakers when you are travelling to England, or another English speaking country. Also how to make the conversation more friendly. Places you can safely start conversations in the country where English is spoken: Hotel reception areas Train station platforms Bus stops Tourist information offices In shops Museums/Art Galleries Taxis Airport lounges Hairdressers Ice cream kiosks Newspaper stands Restaurants/cafes Car boot sales On the beach I don’t recommend talking to people in the street, unless it’s just to ask for the time or directions. Of course, speaking with people you don’t know isn’t the ideal way to practice English, but it is often these places where people who are learning English can have the opportunity to speak it , as they maybe don’t know any native speakers. So, be careful where you speak and to whom. This is just common sense. If you are a woman alone, then speak to people in public places. It will be surprising that maybe you can start an interesting conversation and get chance to practice. 1. Decide the reason for speaking to somebody. Maybe to find something about a place or just get to know more about what the place is like. 2. Ask a small question to start with “Could you tell me?” or “Do you know where/what time/how etc…?” 3. One the conversation has started, slow down your speech more that you want to, this will give you some time to think more about what you want to say and also give the person you are speaking with the chance to get used to your particular accent. 4. Don’t forget to add “please” or “Thank you” where you need to and also nod your head a bit to show that you understand what the other person is saying. 5. Ask small questions and if they give you a long answer that you can’t remember (for instance, with directions) say “Oh, thanks, let me just write that down please” 6. If they ask about you, be glad to tell them (but not very personal information) 7. Don’t talk about: money, politics, religion unless you get to know the person quite well (say if you are staying in the same hotel for some days) 8. Enjoy the conversation – never worry about mistakes – keep the conversation light-hearted and not too detailed. 9. When the conversations stops, don’t forget to say something like “it was nice talking with you” 10. If you want to take a photo for any reason, don’t forget to ask first if the other person minds. …

Weekend Words July 13th "Stress on words" #2

2008-07-13 Length: 7m 15s

Hello everybody, Some languages use tones or stress sounds (like Chinese) which shows meaning. Today’s Weekend words is more about how in English we use tones on different words when we speak. This is used for emphasis on meaning and also it makes language more interesting. I have found a nice text for you and I will read this out loud. 1. The first reading will be without stress on any word (this is a false way of speaking which we do not do in English, but it will show you what unstressed English would sound like. 2. The second reading will show you where I place the stress on words: ï‚· At the end of each sentence there is also a little down sound to complete the idea. ï‚· Listen to the words which have a little more stress to show that these words are important (breed, much-lamented, Christmas time) ï‚· Listen to the words in a list: (cheap tat, reality shows, makeover shows and news) We can read this with a steady sound However, please don’t worry if you can’t decide how to say the right stress on words. It isn’t so important for people learning English as a second language – you will still be understood. The reason I discuss this today is to show you some of the way native speakers speak. This text is about two comedians called “Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise” who were very popular in England. They became part of British entertainment culture in the 1960s and particularly in the 1970s. Be good, be happy Bye for now Welcome to Eric & Ern, the Morecambe & Wise website, a tribute to Britains best loved and most popular comedy double act. Double acts have come and gone, and are somewhat of a dying breed now. No longer is there the thriving club circuit to learn the trade or indeed the much-lamented entertainment shows that gave many comics their early break. Even our beloved television has been swamped with hundreds of useless channels showing nothing but cheap tat, reality shows, makeover shows and news. The bright spots used to be the yesteryear channels such as UK Gold which often showed classic Morecambe & Wise shows from the golden days. Sadly Eric and Ernie are not on as commonly as they were in the early years of satellite TV. Morecambe & Wise are, of course, usually with us at Christmas time. For fans around the globe, they will always be with us - in our hearts. Eric once said that he wanted people to remember and to keep watching the shows, or it would have all been for nothing. . Well - it wasn't all for nothing, and if this site goes some way to keeping them in our minds, then we have achieved something. …

English Castles

2008-07-07 Length: 8m 19s

History of the English Castle Many English castles were built of stone during the Medieval era. But the history of the English castle goes back much further! Exploring the History of the English Castle takes us as far back to the Neolithic Period - to Stone Age History! Understanding the History of the word 'castle' The word 'castle' is derived from the Latin words castellum, meaning fortress, and castrum meaning a ortified place. The castle can be defined as the following: "A safe place against intrusion or invasion" Another definition is: "A large fortified (strengthened)building " The history of the English Castle can date back to the time when people started to live in settled communities – which was the Stone Age over 7000 years ago! The History of the English Castle becomes clearer! When looking at the History of the English Castle we need to look for people who worked together to create, or build, a safe place to live against invasion! This would apply to the people living in England during the Neolithic Period, the Stone Age (7000 years ago) then on to the people of the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Romans and finally on to the Medieval era. By the time we reach the history of the Renaissance period (14th to 17th century)the castle was used as a symbol of wealth and power rather than a necessary safe place against invasion! At this point in time and history the castle was replaced with the 'Palace', a large or splendid residence. The History of the English Castle - The Stone Age ( 3000 - 1800 BC ) We can travel back in the History of the English Castle to discover very old buildings like Stonehenge. The History of the English Castle - The Bronze Age ( 1800 - 600 BC ) We look to Bronze Age period of history to discover the Hillforts of England, the biggest being Maiden Castle The History of the English Castle - The Iron Age and the Romans ( 600 BC - 400 AD ) The Hillforts were developed even further during the history of the Iron Age and then the Romans invaded England and made structures such as the massive Hadrian's Wall and the Roman Forts The History of the English Castle The Dark Ages, also know as Anglo-Saxon England ( 400 AD - 1066 AD ) The Fall of the Roman Empire led to a time in the history of England when the Celts of England were invaded by the Scots, the Welsh, the Saxons and the Vikings. A new National Defence system was established by Alfred the Great by the formation of fortified towns called 'Burhs' (later changed to Burghs then Boroughs) The Dark Ages - Alfred the Great - the Burhs. The History of the English Castle The Medieval Period also known as the Middle Ages ( 1066 - 1500 ) The Norman Invasion heralded the Medieval period, or the Middle Ages. The Normans introduced the wooden Motte and Bailey castles which were immediately followed by the construction of stone castles and Keeps such as the Tower of London in the History of the English Castle - . The Medieval Kings of England went on to build the magnificent Windsor Castle and Warwick Castle. The English King Edward I conquered Wales where he constructed massive fortifications called Concentric castles such as Conwy Castle, Harlech Castle and Caernarvon Castle. Here is a website where you can see photos of castles in England …

Mind your words! with "Mind word essays" (normal speed speech recording)

2008-06-15 Length: 4m 53s
Hello everybody Today I want to talk about a new idea I have had to do some language practice on our own with no more than a piece of paper and a pen. I call this idea “mind word essays”. With this idea, you can practice: Thinking in a language Writing Reading and grammar Speaking/Listening You can do this anywhere, whilst travelling, at home, with friends. I had the idea when I was flying to Germany and I wanted to practice German but I had nothing with me except a pen and paper. The idea is simple and you can do this in any language. I will demonstrate it here using English. You start with a simple sentence: “My friend has a car” – you write it down Next, you quickly think of extra words to make the sentence bigger For example: “My good friend has bought a new car” – you write this down under the first sentence Now, you make another sentence from your head – don’t worry about making mistakes “My good friend from London has bought himself a new red car which he likes very much.” You write this down also Then you make a bigger sentence “My very good friend from London, who I spoke with last week, told me he has bought himself a new red car which he likes very much” 4 sentence are probably enough although you could write more. You can then check the sentences as well as you can for grammar and spelling and then read each sentence out loud and listen to how you say it. So, from four sentences, you have a lot of chance to practice many different language skills. I believe that this will help also improve fluency The important thing is to think of it like a game and enjoy it, getting the words from your head as youy can. This will make you think more clearly in the language and help you to think of the words you need when you have conversations with people. Enjoy your mind essays, you can keep them and look at them again a few weeks later and try the same sentences again to see if you can think of words more quickly than before. Be good, be happy Bye for now …

Weekend words May 4th

2008-05-03 Length: 2m 0s
Hello everyone, good evening. Alan here from England, and this time I’m speaking without a text again. It’s always interesting for me to just speak without a text, because this is how we speak normally when we speak with friends or with, mm, people we know or work with, and sometimes with my podcast I like to do this because it makes it more natural. When you’re speaking with a text, it’s not quite the same as when you’re speaking just from your head, if you like, speaking aloud, as you would when you’re speaking with friends and family. And of course it means that you can hear when I pause, when I think about things a little more, and then when I decide to say something. And for those of you who are learning English, I think this makes it more interesting - maybe more difficult to understand, but also mmm, you can hear when I stop a bit, then start again. And that is how conversations go. When someone reads from a text we just follow the words on the paper, or on the computer screen of course. But when you’re speaking normally, you’re thinking of the words in your head and then you say them. And of course this cannot be continuous, it has to have some small stops and starts, and this I think demonstrates that it’s useful when, mmm, people are learning English and they can hear that a native speaker would also sometimes stop and think about what they are saying before they say something more. And I have people asking me quite often, how can they understand native speakers better? For instance, they may watch the news to TV or listen to the radio and the speakers are very fast when they speak and they don’t always things, …, the words are sometimes complicated. And I say to myself, well, you know, when we watch TV, watch the news, all the words are prepared before, They need to get as much information in as short a time possible and so they choose the words carefully and they say them rather fast. And I think this isn’t a very good way for people learning English to improve their English. Of course the can hear new words and things, but it may be a little off-putting to hear someone speaking very fast on TV. Other people has said to me that I don’t speak as fast (here) as I do normally because they are used to hearing teachers, maybe, speaking very fast. But I say, not all English speakers, native speakers, speak quickly. Some people speak a little slower. And I don’t think that my “normal” speed is very slow but do not think it is very fast either. So my advice to those of you who are listening to me speaking and wanting to improve your comprehension, your understanding, I say listen to this podcast a few times and listen to when I make my small pauses and when I start speaking again . And you can see very easily when I think about what I am saying and when I decide to say something that I’ve thought about. So I hope this podcast has been interesting for you – it’s just me speaking, talking, chatting without a text. See you next time, excuse-me, bye for now …

Guitar Improvisation "Funny Bone"

2008-05-02 Length: 2m 40s
I hope you like my guitar piece which I played this evening and a nice sunny evening in England …

Conversations with native speakers

2008-04-24 Length: 13m 3s

Hello everyone, Today I would like to talk about how better to get conversations started. When we learn languages, we always want so much to speak with native speakers – but at the same time, we also worry about it. Will they understand us? Will they find what we say interesting? Will they get frustrated with us, or bored, or both? Lots of these sort of thoughts go through our mind. Even if we are lucky enough to have friends who speak the language we are learning as native speakers, it doesn’t mean that we don’t still think these things. Another difficulty when speaking another language is that after we have said something, it is often difficult for us to remember what we just said! In our own language, we remember what words we say better than when we say something in a different language. I think this is because we are busy trying to think of correct words to use and make sure we are understood, so we only remember the ideas of what we were talking about, not the actual words we used to say it. Often, we have little or no chance to speak with native speakers. We practice in class, at home, with friends etc, but unless we live in the country or can visit it, then the opportunities for speaking the languages we are learning with native speakers can be quite rare. Even when we visit the country, or find a native speaker to speak with in our country, maybe we don’t know who we will speak with or how long we will have to speak with them, or what we will need to say. So, what can we do that gives us a little more confidence to speak with native speakers when we have the chance? My opinion is, whenever we have the opportunity, we should take it, but also be very kind on ourselves and do not try to make it into a “language test” that we must “pass”. I also think that we should not expect so much from the people we speak with. They might be very busy or have other things on their mind. Negative experiences always make us question why we even want to learn the language. For example, someone ignores us, or says something we don’t understand, or doesn’t seem interested. We have to understand that not everyone is interested in languages and that people have their own lives to get on with. I’ve had some experiences like this over the years. This is where a relaxed attitude can be very useful. Enjoying the opportunity to speak a different language however well we can, should always be a positive thing. So we must do our best to make sure that any conversations we have are as positive and pleasant as we can make them. We have a lot to do with making sure this happens. So here are some ideas for helping any conversations we have with native speakers be as pleasant as possible: 1. Don’t expect to have a very interesting conversation, it might be a quite ordinary even a bit boring conversation. Many people just want to “pass the time of day” which means they just talk about very ordinary things such as the weather. So, be prepared to talk about the weather…a few useful phrases can really set off a conversation well: “ Oh, isn’t it cold today?” “What a beautiful sunny day!” “Oh, it’s very windy today isn’t it?” These sort of friendly openings are called “icebreakers” and nearly everybody does this. So why shouldn’t we do it also? 2. Remember that many, many people love to talk about themselves and what they are doing, subjects such as their family, their work and their hobbies. If we allow people to talk about themselves first, then we can have a perfect opportunity to listen and it gives us time to get used to the person’s accent, their preferred speed of speaking and we can get to know more about them quickly. So, maybe a conversation would go like this: (you) “Hello, how is it going?” (other person )“Oh, very well thanks. I’ve been busy and many things are happening at the moment, I have a new job, a new house. My kids are enjoying school and very soon we will be going on holiday…..” (you)“oh, that’s nice, where will you be going to?” (other person)“we will go to Spain this year, we’ve never been there and we are really looking forward to it” Even though you have not said much yourself and you may wish that you were speaking more, accept that you may need to do this at the beginning of the conversation. It shows that you are a good listener and people like knowing that they are being listened to, and also you will show that you are understanding normal conversation speed and vocabulary. This is important for you to know as much as the other person. 3. Always use polite words, even if the person you are speaking with doesn’t. This will mean everyone will always consider you as a polite, friendly person. From my experience, I know that this will make people want to speak with you more – and then you will have chances to say more about what you like, what you want to do and who knows, maybe you will make friends. 4. Always accept a compliment in a matter of fact way. “Oh, your English is great!” You should accept and acknowledge, but only a short “thanks, I keep trying my best to learn more” will be enough. You don’t need to say “oh yes! I have just passed all my English language exams and I had top marks!” Very few people would be interested in all this information. Of course, if they asked you “have you passed any exams in English?” then you could say this then. 5. Give yourself time by starting to speak in short sentences at first. “How’s it going?” “what’s new?” “I’m doing fine myself” These sort of well known conversational link phrases are fantastic at giving you chance to say something and then you should have an answer. When the other person is speaking, you just need another phrase ready in your mind “oh really?” “I see” “right, ok” – these are all useful to give yourself more time to form better sentences in your head when you need to do it – such as when they ask you a question. So, see how you find it when you next have the chance to speak with a native speaker. See if my advice works for you as it has for me. See you next time Bye for now …

Idea of checking your own progress with English

2008-04-15 Length: 7m 55s
Hello everybody It’s nice to be here again to talk to you. I’ve been having some nice feedback about my podcasts recently and it’s always nice to receive it. Thanks to those of you who sent me messages of encouragement either here or on I’m always glad to know that you find my podcasts useful and interesting. Today I want to suggest an idea for those of you who want to know how your English is progressing and also a small English practice test. My idea is this. I want to give you a topic here that you can read about and then you can write a small text in your own words to explain my text. Maybe between 50 and 100 words will be enough. Copy any words I have written – but don’t copy out my text word for word – or it will not be useful for the test. You must create a new text yourself in your own words. If you have access to recording equipment, make a recording of your voice saying my words and also read out aloud your written text. Keep this text and voice recording for a month and then do the same test again. Do not check your previous work and try to write the best text and speak as well as you can. Record your voice again copying my voice recording and also your new writing. Once you have done this – keep the text and recording safe for a few days. Then get both recordings and texts together and listen to and read to the first one and then the second. You will be able to see if you have improved: Your pronunciation, speed of speaking and confidence Your reading skills – for how easily you can read and understand my text and your own Your listening skills – how well you can understand this podcast Your writing skills – how your written language has improved from the first piece of writing to the second – 1 month later You can see how much progress you have made across all four language skills. I think this will be useful for you. Now I will read out the text below at normal speed. My country Today I want to talk about my country. Did you know that I live in 4 different places? Well, I mean that my country has four different names. My country is called England Great Britain is the name of the largest island. Eire is the name of the next biggest island. There are many other smaller islands. Together these islands are called “The British Isles (Isles also means islands) United Kingdom means England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. This is the political union of the country. The capital of the United Kingdom is London. The United Kingdom does not have an official language – but of course, most people here speak English. Although English is the most common language, there are other languages in the British Isles. These are: Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish Gaelic, Manx (Isle of Mann) There was also a language that used to be called Cornish –this was spoken by people in the south-west part of England which is now called Cornwall. There are many different people living in Great Britain. Those people who are born here are called “British” This is true even when their parents come from other countries There are 50,000,000 British people living in the United Kingdom The flag of the United Kingdom is very well know and is a red cross (for England) a blue cross for Scotland and “St Patrick’s cross” for Northern Ireland. There is no part of the flag to represent Wales – which is something that some people would like to see changed. So, when I say “I am English” I mean that I live in one country of the United Kingdom of Great Britain which is called England I hope you like this idea and I am very interested to know if it helps you judge your progress Bye for now …

Weekend words April 6th

2008-04-06 Length: 6m 18s
hello everybody For my weekend words today, I want to talk about why sometimes it is difficult to understand native speakers, even when you may have been learning English a long time. I discovered a long time ago that the language you hear in class with a teacher, or normally on sound recordings can be easily understood, and yet when you go to the country and listen to native speakers - you may not understand so much. There are many reasons for this, and firstly I want to say - don't worry about it. The more you worry, the more it will either frustrate or annoy you when this happens. Just accept that this will happen, the moment you set foot in the country. Here are some reasons I believe can make listening to native speakers difficult: 1. There is usually some background noise - some examples:street noise, other people speaking nearby, television is on. This makes it difficult to concentrate on the person speaking to you. 2. The native speaker will hear you speak first and assume you know much more than you know - and they make speak quite fast - this makes it difficult to hear everything they say and make sure you understand it, 3. The native speaker may use dialect words, slang words or common expressions that you may not be familiar with - or only some. This makes it harder for you to understand, because you have first to understand the slang words or expressions and then translate that to normal speech and then understand it. Don't be afraid to say "I am not familiar with this word/these words, what do they mean exactly?" 4. The native speaker can also make mistakes themselves--- did you think of that one? There are few native speakers who speak perfectly! 5. The native speaker may have an accent that you are unfamilar with. In England for example, there are many different accents and some accents may clip the words short, use different sounding vowels or even miss out words. In the north of England where I come from, sometimes we clip words and drop "h"'s. This is especially done when we speak with family and friends. Here is an example: Standard English: " Are you going to come with me to the cinema?" Northern accent: "Are yer goin' t'come wi' me to th'cinema?" You can easily hear that the first is easier to understand than the second, but both are saying the same thing. Don't worry.In my experience, the native speaker will not mind changing his/her speech to make it a little more controlled and easier for you to understand - providing you ask! So the key to understanding a native speaker better is to accept that you are not a native speaker - but a serious non-native learner and don't be afraid to tell people you meet this fact. It will not mean they become frustrated with you, on the contrary - the native speaker will usually be very glad to make sure you understand everything - and even explain things more precisely to you. So you end up with good communication and a language lesson for free! Bye for now See you next time …

Chatcast April 1st (Alan's tea-time chat)

2008-04-01 Length: 6m 36s

Hello everybody, Today I have just decided to talk - no text prepared. So I will listen back to it later and write down for you what I said - so you can read along with me speaking. In the meantime, for those of you who are learning English - see how you find it listening without text for the time being... take care everybody... Alan …

New Guitar Tune

2008-03-23 Length: 3m 21s

I hope you like my latest guitar tune …

Guitar tune - Cookies for Tea

2008-03-17 Length: 1m 32s

I hope you like this guitar tune I recorded today on my 12-string acoustic guitar... …

Weekend words March 15th Keeping motivated to learn languages

2008-03-15 Length: 7m 17s

Hello everybody For my weekend words today I'd like to discuss ways to make language learning more interesting. Often, people ask us why we learn one or more languages. We sometimes ask ourselves why. This question seems particularly interesting sometimes as we don't always have easy answers. Personally speaking, I often answer that I learn languages "as a hobby" like we do when we take photographs, collect things, read books, watch films. Is it a good idea to compare learning a language to these activities that we would usually consider to be hobbies? I am not sure. I suppose learning a language is something that is interesting to do, keeps our minds occupied and there is something to be gained by learning - we eventually get to communicate with other people who speak the language - whether these are native speakers, or other people learning the language. If we have no-one to speak the language with, then how do we keep interested in learning? We need to find reasons than make us more interested in keeping going to achieve success. Language learning is a long "journey" with many difficult aspects to encounter: remembering the words, understanding grammar, getting the pronunciation correct. It is easy to become demotivated. One thing I think we should never do is say "sorry" when we don't know a word, or make a mistake when we are speaking with someone who speaks the language better than us. I believe that if we do make a mistake and feel that we want to say something about the mistake, then we should say something like this: " I enjoy learning the language (English, French, Chinese or whatever) and I make some mistakes - but I keep trying to learn to speak it better" This is positive and helps us and the people we are speaking with to understand that we know we make mistakes, but we don't want it to stop us speaking the language. Keeping going when we have no native speakers to talk to is difficult. I have a some suggestions to help: 1. A simple idea is to keep a diary and write something each day, or each week in the language we are learning. This will also tell us over time how much we are learning when later we read what we have written. This is the easiest way to keep the language in our heads each time we write something in the diary. 2. Another idea is to have a conversation with yourself. In the car, on the train, on a bus. Also, we can speak (silently) with ourselves when we are waiting for something: doctor's waiting room, hotel room, train station etc. Although it's not perhaps a good idea to talk to ourselves out loud in these sorts of situation, it can work if we quietly "speak" in our heads - we can try to remember the words for some things that we can see. For example, if we are waiting for a train, there is these words to think of" train", "track", "platform", ticket etc. 3. A good idea I think is to try using a language learners website, such as this one: - here we can practice our languages with native speakers in different ways - writing, speaking , reading and listening. 4. Another interesting idea is to write a little about something that interests us. Then, when we later have the chance to speak with a native speaker - we can ask them to read it and see what they think about it. Not only will they be able to correct the text, but they will also learn something themselves from the text that we have prepared earlier - that is why I suggest making it about an interesting subject that we know enough about. I'm always happy to hear your suggestions for subjects or comments on my podcasts. See you next time Bye for now …

Weekend Words 1st March

2008-03-01 Length: 5m 41s

Hello everybody, I hope you are all well. It has been a little while since I made a podcast. Thank you for all you nice messages. Today I would like to talk about being positive and relaxed about learning languages and also being willing to take risks with language too. Learning a language is a difficult thing to do, but as I have said before, we can always enjoy our language at any level. Young children do this. When we see a small child start to learn their mother tongue – they maybe don’t say so much at the beginning, They listen and maybe try some sounds that don’t sound like words. But later, when they start to say words, their mother or father will be happy to hear them say things and then they encourage them by speaking back to them – usually in a kindly way. That way, a small child learns in a positive place with a friendly teacher (mother or father) and then the child enjoys using whatever language they have – they often don’t want to stop talking! I think that as adults, we should try to copy this method a little. Of course we can’t act like a child, but we can use some of the attitude of a child: positive about learning, relaxed when we speak, read, write or listen. We can also not worry about mistakes – of course, try to correct these mistakes when we can or when someone helps us – for example if we are in a class. My belief is that we can learn and at the same time make what we have already important. We can also be willing to take some risks too. For example, when we speak with people we know who speak the language as a native speaker – try to see if we can push the language level a bit higher when we speak with them. If we make a mistake or use a wrong word, then maybe our friend will kindly advise us – without criticising us. It is the same with writing letters – try some things that are new to us. Of course, in exams this is different, because this is a test of what we know. But with letters, e-mails, text messages with friends – always try a little extra and see if you can get things right and learn more. When we listen – try to listen to language that is a higher level than we have ourselves – because we always understand more than we can speak. The same thing with reading. Read short articles, magazines where there is conversation or interviews written down for reading like a conversation would be in reality. So, we can be relaxed and happy to learn and still try hard to become better at the same time if we think about things carefully and we can keep getting better and better. Take care and bye for now …

Weekend Words February 15th (speed of speaking in friendly conversations)

2008-02-15 Length: 6m 58s
Hello everybody. For my weekend words this week I want to talk about conversation practice and speed of speaking. Over the years, I've met a lot of people who are learning English as a foreign language. I'm always surprised how hard they try to learn English and their level of language, their high ability to handle difficult grammar points and how much vocabulary they have. In some cases, maybe it is the first time they have had an opportunity to speak with a native speaker (me) and they want to be able to have an intelligent interesting conversation. This means that very often, in order to develop the conversation, they speak much faster than they need to, and sometimes forget that a conversation is two-way - speaker and listener. I often find myself doing a similar thing when I speak French or German. I speak faster than I should do. It is like I am in a race against time, to say what I want to say and hope that I have made myself understood. As a native speaker of English, what I can tell anyone who speaks English as a foreign language is that you don't need to rush when having a friendly conversation with a native speaker. It is completely different from speaking exams or making a presentation - when accuracy and speed is very important. When you are having a conversation it is a two-way thing. You speak, the other person listens. Then the other person speaks and you listen. To make this a more enjoyable experience, try speaking a little slower than you would normally like to and always allow a small gap for the listener to use certain phrases that let's you know that they are listening. Words such as: "I see..." "really?" , "oh right.." " do you think so?", "ehm....well, you have a point..." This makes the conversation truly two-way and you can learn much more. Speaking more slowly allows you time to think of more interesting words, more appropriate words, develop the conversation and allow the listener to correct you sometimes. This way you will develop your language skills even more I believe. Now you've heard my podcast, you might like to listen to it again as I am speaking at a normal conversational speed - as I would do if I were talking with my family, to my colleagues at work and people I meet in the street. If I were to speak with a taxi driver, someone on the telephone when I am busy and situations like this, then I would of course, speak more quickly. But this podcast is just to help you to understand that whilst maybe you think English people speak fast, only a few do in a relaxed conversation - and as I believe strongly -being relaxed is the best way to learn. Stressful situations don't make good language learning situations I think. Such as: * getting information for catching a bus or a train * asking someone the time * answering the telephone when you are busy So, make use of each informal/friendly conversation you have to learn and enjoy the conversation! * meeting someone on a train journey * meeting someone on holiday * meeting someone in an online chatroom * discussing things in another language with friends who also speak the language * meeting someone in a social setting, party, church etc See you next time Bye for now …

Weekend Words February 10th (Increasing cultural understanding)

2008-02-10 Length: 7m 11s
Hello everybody. For my weekend words today I wanted to talk about using short newspaper, magazine or Internet articles to help develop language and also how, at the same time to understand more about a country's culture as well as language. Also how to "think in pictures" to help make the text interesting and to retain vocabulary. If you find interesting articles like the one I have chosen, then language and culture start to merge together a bit more. These are not just words on paper or on a screen, but they make you think of situations and events in the past, at present or in the future. I read somewhere that to learn a language well, we need to: 1. Understand the structure (grammar) of a language and have a good vocabulary. 2. Have the chance to communicate in a language with people who speak it well (Better still, those who speak it as a mother tongue) 3. Understand some of the culture of the country (or countries) where the language is spoken No small task! Having said that, all of us are learning new things all our lives and learning another language should add to the enjoyment of learning in a positive way. Always be pleased with what you know already - but keep learning as and when you can. Today, let's analyse a text that is about English culture. It's about Pub signs. Many Public houses and hotels (where the word "pub" comes from) name the building and hang painted signs outside. It's a long-standing tradition in my country. I've copied a short piece of a bigger article to discuss. The full text is here: So, I'll read the text first British Pub Signs - a short history By Elaine Saunders Everyone loves an “Olde Worlde” pub with its oak beams, horse brasses and roaring log fires. Nevertheless, no matter how old the pub itself, the name on the sign outside is probably the most historic thing about the place. The idea of the pub sign came to Britain at the time of the Roman invasion. Wine bars in ancient Rome hung bunches of vine leaves outside as trading signs but when the Romans came here, they found precious few vines in the inhospitable climate. Instead, they hung up bushes to mark out the inns and the names Bush or Bull & Bush still survive.........(text continues...) This text is full of cultural references: "Olde Worlde" is a way of describing old things as the pronunciation has a feel of times gone by when people spoke with more endings to the words Pub sign Oak beams Horse brasses Wine bar And some good short phrases like: "roaring log fires" "precious few" "vine leaves" "at the time of the Roman Invasion" "inhospitable climate" "mark out" Take some time to get a "feel" for what is being said in the text. The author wants to make it interesting and make you, as a reader think in pictures as well as words. So, rather than reading through a full article that is difficult to read and becoming frustrated with it. Chose a small part of the text - say, the introduction and read it fully, taking it apart like a puzzle and then putting it back together again. This way you can practice all four skills: Reading Listening and Speaking (as you read out the text) Writing (write about it in your own words and use the new vocabulary you learn) Finally, use a dictionary to check the meaning of words or phrases you can't guess well - more to confirm your thoughts after you have made a good attempt to guess it. See you next time …

New way to learn vocabulary?

2008-02-02 Length: 5m 3s
Hello everybody, Today I wanted to talk about my ideas on increasing fluency (which in my opinion is about how easy you can use a language at a high level) I wanted to tell you about a new idea I have had about building up vocabulary and fluency at the same time. I have a lot of trouble remembering words and I believe that everyone agrees that the secret to learning a language is knowing enough words and enough of the structure of the language (sometimes call rules of grammar) Some languages have complex grammar (like German) and other languages have simpler grammar (like Mandarin Chinese) Whichever language we learn, we need a knowledge of enough words and grammar to converse with others who speak the language. Of course other areas of language ability are important - such as pronunciation, but generally speaking, with some words and grammar and a reasonably understandable accent - most people could make themselves understood and understand what was being said to them. In English this is often called "get by". Anyway, to explain my idea. If you were wanting to learn some new words, let's pick three unusual unrelated words: A noun: condominium An adjective: straightforward A verb: perform To remember these words, explain them with easy language by using a dictionary: Condominium = apartment (or flat) straightforward = easy perform = carry something out, act/sing/dance Make up a sentence and write it down: Nothing is straightforward, there is not enough space in my condominium that I cannot perform my dance change it... I cannot perform my dance. I need to practice every day in my friend's condominium. Nothing is straightforward - as it is too small Say the sentences out loud.. then see if you remember the words and their meaning a little later. If you can't easily remember them - read the sentences again and see if you can remember them later still. I'm going to try this idea myself with learning new words in the languages I am learning. I'll let you know how it goes! Maybe this way it will not take so long to build up a good amount of words in my head and become more fluent. Take care and see you next time …

Using simple sentences to gain fluency

2008-01-30 Length: 5m 24s

Hello everybody, Today I wanted to talk about practicing phrases to make it easier to remember how to say things and the right words to use I want to go shopping because my sister is coming and we enjoy going to the shops together. It is surprising just what language you can practice with only one sentence: Because my sister is coming, I want to go shopping and we enjoy going to the shops together We enjoy going to the shops my sister and I and my sister is coming, so I want to go shopping That is three sentences saying the same thing, more or less - but if you practice the sentence in different ways - then you can become more fluent. You can then expand it a bit more: My sister is coming to see me. We always like to go shopping together because we like going to the shops together. It is always nice when my sister comes, because we like going to the shops together to do some shopping. I want to go shopping anyway - so I will wait until she comes This way, you can build up the language practice. Just keep thinking of different ways to say the same thing and If you make a mistake, it isn't such a problem because people will still understand So, say for example you said I want to go to the shopping when my sister comes, because we like shopping together (saying "shopping" instead of "shops" will still be understood) You could always simplify it more... When my sister comes, we like going to the shops together. We like going shopping together my sister and me (maybe it should be "my sister and I" but most people in England would say "my sister and me" Try making up a sentence, writing it in a few different ways and then saying it. Or you could just try making a sentence in your head and then say it - you will become more fluent! Have you ever tried learning words from a visual dictionary? I like these type of dictionaries because you can see the picture and read the word. I have just found a very good one that shows many pictures and photos with the words in 4 languages. This is called "5 Language visual dictionary by Dorling Kindersley. English, French, German, Spanish & Italian The ISBN number is ISBN 0-7513-3681-5 You can find it on It is quite expensive at around £20/ $27 but I think it would be worth every penny and a very interesting way to learn new words. Bye for now and see you next time bye! …

Placing emphasis on words when speaking

2008-01-23 Length: 4m 5s
Hello everybody. This is a continuation of my podcast about difficult sounds in English. English often uses stress or emphasis on syllables within a word. Stress is sometimes used in spoken English as a language technique to change the meaning of what is being said and emphasise a certain thing or idea. Normally this doesn't show in written English unless the word is written differently. Here's an example: 1. He wants me to give her the book 2. HE wants me to give her the book 3. He wants ME to give her the book 4. He wants me to GIVE her the book 5. He wants me to give her the BOOK Easy sentence - but stressed words make a big difference to meaning. The first sentence just has a basic meaning. There is no extra stress on the first sentence - so someone listening would just hear it as a statement. Number 2 is emphasising the person who wants me to give the book Number 3 is emphasising that the person want me in particular (that is no one else but me) to give her the book Number 4 is emphasising that the person wants me to give her the book - that is, not do something different with the book Number 5 means the person wants me to give her a book and not something else instead So, it's interesting how English uses this stress on words to change the meaning of the sentence without changing the words in the sentence. You'll notice that all the words are the same in each sentence. Take care and see you next time …

Alan's Weekend Words January 19th

2008-01-19 Length: 4m 30s

Well, I decided that for all my podcasts, I'll write a little introduction and then put the transcript for the voice recording for you. So, welcome to "Alan's Weekend Words January 19th". Today some advice on pronuciation for all you English learners! Hello, for my weekend words this week I want to talk about pronunciation difficulties for learners of English. It seems to me that there are some sounds that present more difficulties that others. For example the English "th" sound. think thought thank thesis therapy nothing tether teeth are some words starting with or containing the sound 'th". For this sound place the top of your tongue against your top teeth - push some air through without too much pressure and say the word. think, thought, thank, thesis,therapy,nothing,tether,teeth The other 'th" sound is the same tongue position - but with less air movement and more voice. See if you can hear the difference between the two different 'th" sounds the,there,those,with,feather Try practicing these "th" sounds slowly then speed up Make sure that you keep relaxed when you speak and don't worry if you find it difficult - just keep practicing when you have a little time. The other sound I wanted to talk about today is the English "r" The British version is softer sounding than the American: run ready really roaring the american sounds more "strong" - in other words add more sound to your voice as you speak - with a little more energy. run ready really roaring I can't really speak with an american accent very well - but I just wanted to show you an example. Your tongue needs to be curled back about half-way in your mouth - but not touching any part of your mouth and then curl it back forward again and keep it quite loose as you do. "a Rumanian runner was running a revolution around a really rocky racetrack" Tongue twisters like this can be very useful for pronunciation practice Take care and see you next time …

Chatcast - more about fluency in languages

2008-01-18 Length: 5m 34s
Buenos dias, bom dia,hallo, bonjour, jo napot,ni hao, Guten Tag! So many languages. But of course, as usual, I am speaking in uhm, English my mother tongue and today, I wanted to speak a little about fluency, but today I'm trying to do this as a "chatcast" - and my way of doing chatcasts now is to without a text. So, I will produce a text for the "PODOMATIC" site so that you can read what I've said, but I won't do that until after I've finished speaking. So today, "fluency". What does it mean? In fact what made me think about it was, I was speaking with a friend at work today and we were discussing..uhm..language learning because he said that he would like to learn French and I was giving him some tips and hints and we were discussing what fluency was. He said he would like to have a conversation with people (in French) and he considered that would be fluency. And my opinion is, that fluency changes the more you learn a language, or your idea, should I say, about fluency. Because the more you learn about a language, the more you think you need to learn. But my point of view is, that we should be able to be fluent... at any level. To explain what I mean, if you're having a very simple conversation - someone says, "how are you?" and you say, "I'm fine thanks and how (are) is your family? how are your children?" You say, "my children are well, my family is well" You are still speaking a language in a fluent way, because I think fluency means you can speak the language quite easily. But of course as the language level rises and the complexity of the sentences you're saying in your conversation becomes more difficult, then it affects the level of fluency. So my advice is try to stay in the level that you have and try and enjoy speaking at that level whilst trying to develop more language skills - and that way you develop your fluency. So, what I'm trying to explain from my point of view is that anyone can have a "level of fluency" that allows them to speak the language and uhm, I think it's worth thinking about because many many people will say to themselves, " I'm not very fluent, I'm not as fluent as I'd like to be". So, take your time, enjoy the conversations that you have in the language you're learning and if it is English, then practice it and say to yourself, "I'm fluent, I just need MORE fluency as I speak about more complex subjects". So that's my chatcast for Friday evening and I'll hopefully make a new "Weekend words" over the weekend. But, we have my son's girlfriend with us today so, (we) we've got a visitor here. Maybe I will have time but hopefully you'll have a nice weekend. Take care and we'll speak again soon...BYE. …

Guitar Tune - called "Prairie Sunset"

2008-01-16 Length: 2m 56s

I hope you like my latest guitar tune recorded today... …

Hola! Chatcast about Spanish learning

2008-01-14 Length: 5m 6s
hello everybody. Alan here. Buenos dias, ¿Cómo estás? hablo poco espagnol a hora! Today I wanted to talk a little about learning Spanish. I'm starting to learn some Spanish. I wanted to start seriously to learn a few months ago, but for some reason or another I couldn't get started properly. It's always difficult starting a new language I think. Anyway, recently I started to visit Alba's podomatic spanish learning site here in Podomatic and also I borrowed a course "Michel Thomas" introductory course (2 CD's) from my local library. I think now I can get started correctly. I think that the best way to start learning is to start with some good materials - and this is what Alba's site and the Michel Thomas course do. They allow you to learn without stress. I think too many people learning languages put themselves under a great deal of stress and strain in pushing themselves too hard. Trying to learn vocabulary lists, memorise phrases and expressions and remember as much as they can. Perhaps the easiest and best way is to try to learn in a relaxed way. I know this isn't easy if you are learning in a classroom situation and you have exams looming.. Well, in any case, I think things are a bit easier if you are easy on yourself - don't become your most strict teacher! So, I'm going to see how my Spanish improves over the next few months. I might even try a small podcast in Spanish if I can. It's always interesting to feel a new language developing in one's head. It reminds me of trying to complete a very big jigsaw puzzle, or crossword in some ways. As you find the answer to a clue or find a jigsaw piece that fits so to speak - so you can tell yourself - I'm learning well! Some people are natural learners and can pick things up quickly. I wish I were one of these people, but unfortunately I'm not. Even so, it's best to keep interested and that is why my motto is "enjoy what you know and the rest can only grow" in other words enjoy what level you are and then you'll always find that you will learn more. Let's keep the language learning effort going! With podcasts, it's even easier than before because you can transport the recordings around on your MP3 player. I love downloading some language podcasts and playing them later when I have time to listen to them carefully - such as when I'm driving or my lunch break at work. Take care and bye for now …

Weekend words Jan 6th (2)

2008-01-06 Length: 6m 0s
Punctuation has been defined in many ways. Some grammarians use the analogy of stitching: punctuation as the basting that holds the fabric of the language in shape. Another writer tells us that punctuation marks are the traffic signals of language:they tell us to slow down, notice this, take a detour, and stop. But the best of all, I think, is the simple advice given by the style book of a national newspaper:that punctuation is "a courtesy designed to help readers to understand a story without stumbling.". Examples: "What would you do with the king?" "What? Would you? With the king?" "A woman, without her man, is nothing." "A woman:without her, man is nothing." "Why English is crap" Have you ever asked yourself... Why when the stars are out, that can be seen, but when the lights are out, they cannot be seen? Why when one gets fit one is healthy, but when one has a fit one is ill? Why a fast horse runs and fast colours don't Why one can ship by truck and send a truck by ship? Why a seeded loaf of bread has seeds in it, but seeded raisins have them taken out? Why one's house goes up in flames at the same time as it is burning down? Also, examples of the "double-negative" which is regarded as sub-standard English where there is no intention of having the two negatives cancel each other out. In other words it does nothing for language. However some people who pride themselves on speaking standard English are sometimes caught out by a no no. "He can't make friend with no one" "She doesn't never eat since she's been on that diet" " I never saw nobody" "They didn't know nothing" …

New Year's resolutions

2008-01-01 Length: 5m 8s New Year's resolution success tip have chance to Only 25% of people succeeded in quitting smoking Most of us will make a New Year's resolution - maybe to quit smoking or lose weight - but only one in 10 of us will succeed, say researchers. But before you give up altogether, it is possible to boost your chances of success, UK psychologists report. A year-long study of 3,000 people found men should set specific goals and women should tell the world about their resolution if they are to succeed. And the key for everyone is not to leave the decision to New Year's Eve. TIPS FOR SUCCESS Men should set specific goals Women should tell others about their resolution Choose a new approach Do not leave the decision to New Year's Eve Study leader Professor Richard Wiseman, who is based at the University of Hertfordshire, found more than half of those in the study believed they would be able to stick to their resolution. But by the end of the year, just 12% had been successful. Giving up smoking seemed to be the hardest goal to stick to, with three-quarters of people lighting up again in the New Year. Only 28% of people succeeded in losing weight and 29% of people who vowed to improve their fitness managed to do so. Tips Men were 22% more likely to succeed when they set goals for themselves, such as losing a pound a week rather than just saying they wanted to lose weight. Telling others increased women's chance of keeping resolutions by 10%. They benefited from family and friends encouraging them to stick to their goals. Deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment. Choose something new, or approach an old problem in a new way Professor Richard Wiseman Professor Wiseman said it was possible to increase the likelihood you will keep your resolution. "Deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment. "Choose something new, or approach an old problem in a new way. "Think through exactly what you will do, where you will do it, and at what time." He said those who made vague plans were more likely to fail - for example instead of planning to go running twice a week you should plan to go running at specific times every week. He added: "Men may be more likely to adopt a macho attitude and have unrealistic expectations, and so simple goal setting helps them achieve more. "Likewise, women might be reluctant to tell others about their resolutions, and so benefit more from the social support provided by friends and family once they have made their goals public." …

Just a New Year chat cast

2008-01-01 Length: 6m 14s
Hello, Text is below this time (for those who can't view my blog)  Well hello everyone and welcome to my podcasts and also to 2008! This time, uhm, for this time I thought I would just chat. Usually I try to prepare a script of sorts, a text… and then I use the text to make the podcast. But this time round I thought it might be more interesting for you to just hear me speaking. I will make a text, but I will obviously listen to what I have said and then write it down afterwards. So, at the moment, I’m just speaking , uhm, as I think about things and hopefully you will find this podcast just as interesting as the others. Uhm, I’m using a new microphone. Hopefully it will have a good sound. It’s just something I got before Christmas but I didn’t have chance to try. So, I’m trying it today and hopefully it will be clear and you will be able to listen to what I am saying without any problem. So, 2008 is here. It’s a quiet day in England and I’m just relaxing before I go back to work. So, what will 2008 bring I think for us this year? Let’s hope it brings some good things. You know, for my part I’d like to learn more French, German and as you know, I’m learning Mandarin and I’ve just started Spanish again so, language is my hobby, my main hobby. I do play guitar as you know, you’ve heard my guitar tunes and I’ll play a few more guitar tunes I think on my podcasts. I’ve also planned to make a musical podcast in other words make some songs and record them and do a bit of singing maybe and put them on another podcast website and then you can listen to them if you want to. So, it’s a bit different for me just chatting to you, because I’ve got to think as I speak, well will you find this interesting? I think for those of you who are learning English, it will be interesting for you to listen to just a very normal “everyday” conversation, or whatever I can make that seem to be – as I’m speaking really to myself but obviously I know people will listen to it. So I just wanted to speak a little and hopefully you’d hear when I do the pauses and when I make some corrections and when I hesitate a bit. That’s. uhm, all the things that happen when people are speaking in their native language. No one is perfect of course in their native language, I make mistakes just like other people do. So, I thought maybe a “conversational type” podcast just speaking about not so much (laughs) would be just as interesting for you as one that I prepared about a certain subject – and I don’t have any subjects today because I’ve been relaxing over Christmas. I didn’t.. prepare anything. But I thought, well I’ll still make a podcast on January 1st – New Year’s Day and say hello to everyone. I’ve had (some) quite a lot of downloads. I think I’ve had something like 1700 last week which…well not downloads…”views”… I think downloads were about 600 but even so, 600 downloads is a lot So, somewhere out I think there people are listening, hopefully getting something from my podcasts, uhm, and I do listen to other peoples’ podcasts. I find some of those interesting and some I find quite boring but it depends what subject your interested in doesn’t it? So, anyway, Happy New Year to everyone. To all the people who have listened and who are listening and who will listen to my podcasts and for the moment and for the future and so – have a nice time. If you are still on holiday, if you are back to work or you’re busy doing other things….well you know, don’t work too hard and enjoy yourself in 2008. And I’ll speak to you all very soon so bye for now …

More about questions

2007-12-27 Length: 6m 45s

Alan's Weekend Words December 2nd

2007-12-02 Length: 8m 25s

New intro tune Words on my blog Take care Alan …

Alan's Weekend Words 24th November

2007-11-24 Length: 8m 43s

I hope you like my new podcast - sorry no music recorded this time Transcript here: …

Informal style

2007-09-04 Length: 11m 8s

Here’s a podcast about informal style of conversations in English As usual, the text is on my blog Any comments welcome – see you next time …

English can be a bit silly sometimes....

2007-08-04 Length: 4m 39s
I'm on holiday for a week - so here are my weekend words - see you in a week! Take care! Alan …

Alan's Weekend Words July 22nd

2007-07-22 Length: 2m 46s

This time I talk about sleep words in English Text here: I hope you don't fall asleep listening - haha See you next time! …

Thanking people in English

2007-07-04 Length: 5m 56s
This chatcast is about how we thank people in England using different words and phrases. Don't forget that the transcript for the recording is here: Take care - see you next time - keep the comments coming!! …

Asking questions in English

2007-06-26 Length: 5m 56s
I talk about the way we ask questions in English - well, in England anyway I hope you find it interesting As usual, the text is on my blog …

Alan's Weekend Words June 17th

2007-06-17 Length: 5m 56s
I talk about how we shorten sentences in conversation with friends and family You can find the transcript here: …

Rock Abby Lee

2007-06-17 Length: 2m 11s
A guitar interlude for you - I hope my playing gets you on your feet! The title is actually "rockabilly" - but I decided that it looked better as "Rock Abby Lee" …

Alan's Weekend Words # 2

2007-05-24 Length: 6m 1s
Hello again. I've often wondered why so many people learning English want to have "near-native" accents. I discuss this phenomenon a little here... Transcript at: See you in after the 3rd of June! Keep the messages coming... …

Alan's Weekend Words #1

2007-05-19 Length: 5m 55s
This is a new idea. I'm calling this "Alan's Weekend Words" I'm going to just chat about things I hope you find interesting You can find the transcript on my blog: Let me know what you think! Thanks Alan …

Language "Chatcast"

2007-05-14 Length: 7m 27s
I'm just "chatting" about language here today Transcript at my blog: …

More thoughts on motivation and language learning

2007-05-13 Length: 5m 37s

More thoughts on language learning …

Common mistakes in English

2007-05-13 Length: 4m 15s
Just some thoughts about common mistakes people make when learning English and a few more thoughts besides …

Alan's language learning top 10 tips!

2007-05-13 Length: 8m 45s

My English language learning tips! More information about my language learning experiences and transcripts for the podcasts are available at:: Alan's language chat room at Category: "Education/Learn different languages" …

About this podcast:

Alan Palmer's Language Chat podcasts

MY E— MAIL Bonjour, Guten Tag, Buenos dias, Bom dia, goedendag, 你 好, Jó napot...... I love learning languages and in discovering all the opportunities that the Internet gives us to develop our language skills. I will post mostly in English, but don't be surprised if some of my podcasts are in other languages... Please leave feedback if you have time - it's great to receive it I might see you on or MSN Your chathost Alan (November 2008)

Alan Palmer's Language Chat podcasts