E28 – interview with Luke Thompson / Luke’s English podcast


If you liked this episode, see also the interview on E16 with Kris Broholm from the actual fluency podcast.

In episode 28 of my fluent podcast, I’m trying to get my podcast to the next level by stepping out of my comfort zone.

This is the very first time I have a native English speaker as a guest and it was quite a challenge. Luke is a passionate English teacher, stand-up comedian, French learner and podcaster in which he teaches English to people from all over the world. Luke shared lots of valuable information with us in this episodes. Learning a language is hard! Even for an experienced language teacher like he is! He also shares some experiences related to that with us and he manages to talk easily about anything related to learning a language without having even prepared himself before the interview.

– Luke has published over 430 inspiring episodes so far (march 2017) – for free!

Some examples:

Episode 404. British Accents in The Lord of the Rings (Part 1)

Episode 392. What are the most essential skills of a good foreign language learner?

Episode 408. Catching up with Amber and Paul

– he has set up a Transcript collaboration in which English learners write down what Luke (and guests) is actually speaking in his podcasts so that other English learners can use the transcript as a learning resource.

– this is just a tiny insight into what he is involved. Check out his website for the whole cake!

This may also be of interest:

A related post to this episode is the episode with Piotr from Poland, with whom I had an interview on episode 20. It’s all about the TRANSCRIPT COLLABORATION – how to improve in your targe language.

If you are into learning British English then this is a good place to be: transcript collaboration at Luke’s English podcast.


So this is my fluent podcasts a kind of behind the scenes talk and I’m pretty nervous right now it’s about two hours before the interview. Or let’s say the conversation with Luke Thompson.



I’m really eager to see him or to meet him over Skype. And right now I am facing off of drinking a bottle of wine relieves my pressure.



Now I’m just kidding.



I feel a bit like a fanboy. It’s funny you know because I really like Luke’s English podcast and I use it to learn or prove my English. I think it’s good that I am feeling nervous about it because it shows us that it is important to me. This interview if you have a certain amount of nervousness you will try to give all the best and then chances are high that it’s going to be good.



Wel, we’ll see if I’m showing up completely drunk.



Hello, how are you doing.



I’m very well thanks. How are you?



Oh, I’m great. Nice to talk to you.



I’m really over the moon joke that you accepted my invitation to participate on my podcast and look is it OK if I may say a few words first. Yes certainly go ahead. OK. I see this as an opportunity to learn English for which I am really grateful to you. And actually, I first wanted to script the whole interview about. I mean who would want that. And it would be kind of difficult for me to handle. Yes Stanley and it’s also was it a challenge for me but that’s also what makes it interesting I think.



Yeah. Yeah yeah. So I say that yeah.



So I would appreciate if you could introduce yourself and perhaps also mention which languages you know and of course which language you are learning.



OK. Right well, my name’s Luke Thompson and I’m an English language teacher in teaching English for nearly 16 years. So for pretty much my whole professional life most of it anyway. And so I teach English and I teach English to adults so not as children. People often think I teach the kids but I tend to focus on the adults and as well as being an English teacher. I also do standup comedy which means standing up in front of a room full of people with a microphone and trying to make me laugh with stories and jokes and things.



And I’ve been doing that since about three thousand nine and I live in France. I live in Paris and so I perform comedy in front of mixed audiences with people from around the world. Many of them being French as well as doing those two things. I also do a podcast for people who are learning English and it’s called Lix English podcast and the general idea there is that I’m trying to sort of help people learn English around the world by using sort of combination of my English teaching skills and some of my skills of being a stand-up comedian. Although the stand-up comedy is just something I do in my free time. So mostly I’m an



English teacher who does a bit of comedy and I try and combine those things on my podcast. And so yeah I live in France in terms of the languages that I know and I definitely know English. I know English like really really well. Not perfect of course by any means but I think English pretty well but it’s obviously it’s my mother tongue so that doesn’t count really does it. That’s sort of like cheating in terms of other languages well I lived in Japan for a couple of years and there was maybe one day or something in that period when I felt like my Japanese is pretty good and that was



probably sort of late in an evening in my local bar when I had a few drinks and I was playing darts with my Japanese friends and I was able to spend the whole evening sort of playing around with them and making each other laugh and counting all the scores in the game of darts and talking to them about you know just the stupid stuff that you say to your friends when you’re playing darts you know like oh you’re rubbish you missed that was close you know. So I did get a certain level of Jeopardy’s ability but that’s all gone now that’s completely disappeared because it’s been years since I went back to Japan and now I live in France. And so



French is the is the other is my second language and to be honest with you I’m a very typically English person. Which means that I’m not great at learning other languages and I think we’ll probably talk about that in a moment. I think you might they might be. I’d like to give all my excuses and go through all of the terrible excuses I have. But yeah I’m sort of trying to learn French I’m not doing a very good a good job at it as-as I’ll tell you in a moment but I’d say my level of French is what to know.



Hard to tell but only on a good day. It’s about one. And so I sort of you know I’ve got a jacket profile in French which means that you know some areas of my French are better than others. So there you go. So how long have you been learning French then?



Well I mean that’s a difficult one to say really because I did stuff I did study French for three years at school so that was when I was you know I started doing that when I was about 12 or 13 and I spent three years secondary school until I was 16. I you know I had French lessons in school. I don’t know if that counts really because the I I get the impression that the French I learned in those classes is really quite different to the French that I hear every day and that I attempt to speak but I’ve been I suppose you could say I’ve been learning French for about four or



five years but I mean you know if you hear that many of your listeners will who are I’m sure like very motivated language learners I’m sure that you’ll think oh four or five years you’ve been living in France your French must be perfect by now.



The embarrassing thing that it’s not it’s really far from perfect but I’m happy to talk about that.



Yeah that’s a funny fact because you are conducting podcasts to teach others to learn a language. And probably the problem is that you are. Or while it’s not a problem but you are focused on your podcast each other because it’s more fun to you to do that. Right. And I think that is is it good luck for all the English learners out there because without you there would be about I guess 500 hours of content less






Yes, it’s something in that region. Yeah, it has to be I guess I’ve done nearly 430 episodes of my podcast now and many of them are now more than an hour long. Not to mention all of the episodes of the phrasal verb series that I’ve done and there’s about 130 of them. So it’s going to be in the region of about 500 hours of content. Yeah, that’s right.



Five hundred hours of my life spent not learning French but it’s actually amazing because what you intend to do it’s it’s incredible for me it’s not only that you have one subject or one topic now. You have competitions you have. You have topics like dialects you have a vocabulary you culture you have kind of a film plup. There are even English podcasts but podcasts meetings I think I found around the world. Yep. That is incredible.



A place I’m trying to take over the world Daniel.



I know I’m trying to create a global empire. It’s all part of an insidious plan which I’m using to try and gain ultimate control over all of the world’s resources.



I’m joking of course like Pinky and brain if you’re not with them.



Yeah. Yeah those two cartoon characters are attempting to kind of they cover the world. Yeah. Yeah like that or like a James Bond bad guy. That’s kind of how I see it that I’m essentially just trying to take the world but now I’m not ready I’m just joking about that. But I guess that’s what’s happened is because I’ve been working on this podcast for nearly eight years it has grown into a bit of a monster in a good way. You know when I first started doing it you know the first hundred episodes it was just like you know I was just trying to make content and I still am just trying to make content that I think people will be interested in listening to and that over time has sort of broadened out into



you know these other areas including things like you know various interactive projects with my listeners and also the fact that some of my listeners are now getting together and in physical spaces and having social clubs and and the competitions I’ve done and all that stuff. So yeah it’s just grown over time it’s because it’s great. I’m obviously completely into it and I love doing it and it’s kind of a dream come true for me because it’s just a chance for me to combine sort of everything that I’ve been into including English teaching and comedy and broadcasting and media and culture and just you know it’s just a space where I can throw everything all



my creative stuff and all my interests can be thrown into this thing which can then be conceived by people around the world and it’s kind of it’s just for me but from my point of view it’s just a really fun and satisfying personal project. But it’s more than that. It’s also something that other people can use and I’m very happy if you know if people are finding it useful for learning English because you know that’s part of the the whole plan. But yes it does take up a lot of time and it takes up a lot of my mental space and a lot of my motivation. And you know that might account for why my French isn’t as



isn’t improving as rapidly as it should do. I’ve got a whole series of excuses if that’s what I what I usually say is that you know my French isn’t improving but my excuses are getting better every day. And lots of fluids and excuses in terms of my French.



Luke what do you think. What could you have done better if you would start from scratch again if you would learn French from scratch. Well I mean are there any tips. Maybe.



Yes sure. I mean technically every day is like starting again from scratch really in terms of learning a language because I guess the thing that when you say what would I’ve done differently that the I guess the most important thing would be to start earlier you know like that. The main thing in learning a language is it’s a battle against time because that you know time is this great resource that we can use in our favor when we’re learning a language. And so the more time you spend on whatever it is you’re doing in your learning process the better. So the greatest thing that I guess a language learner can regret



is that they didn’t start earlier. But for me it’s also about starting today because there are many different habitual routine things that I don’t really do in French that I should do. And you know I mean that goes back to school like I should have paid more attention at school and just generally made more effort. But I think also I should be trying to get regular little habits into my daily life. I’ve got that a bit. I have a I have to pay obviously on being a bit self-deprecating about my French but honestly my assessment of it being be one I think is quite accurate.



Depending on the context.



But have you have you ever recorded yourself.



No, I haven’t. No. That’s a good question. I haven’t really done that. But I do talk to myself in French sometimes and actually, I do imagine that I’m doing Luc’s French podcast occasionally because. Because in the past people have asked me about my learning of French and I’ve always been planning to do a whole episode of my podcast in English about my French and I thought that it might be fun for me to do a few minutes of Luc’s French podcast in Luke’s English podcast just to give people an idea of how bad my French is just as an experiment you know. And so



occasionally I kind of think about this idea.



And when I’m like preparing my lunch or whatever if I’m on my own I might start talking as if I’m doing Luc’s French podcast. And actually I think it’s really helpful and it’s something that I am starting to do more and more is just sort of start to develop this internal monologue and just talk to myself while I’m going around doing things like if I’m just sort of getting brushing my teeth in the morning I’m in the bathroom and I’m just sort of like naming the different things in the in the bathroom and just sort of commenting on the stuff in the room. But I haven’t actually recorded myself doing



it yet. I mean I would record it. But the thing is that there are various reasons for recording yourself in another language. One of them is that you can listen back to it and you can kind of get some perspective. You can sort of notice little mistakes that you’re making and trying to correct them but also you can record yourself and listen back to it. You can actually see how good you are. You know people always think oh we should record yourself and then you can see your mistakes. Not just that you can also actually hear in fact how fluent you really are because when you just think about your own fluency often we’re quite hard on ourselves we’re naturally quite modest as people. I



think most of us are quite sort of self-effacing quite modest people and when we when we come to think about our English or you know French or whatever language it is we are learning we always think it’s not good enough but it’s worth sometimes taking a moment to just step back and go actually know you’re pretty good. It’s not perfect but you know you should feel quite good about it because it’s important to feel good about you know your language learning because if you end up in a sort of negative cycle of feeling bad and then making excuses and then not doing anything and continuing to fail bad it can put you



in a really bad place. And I fully admit that I’m often in quite a bad place in terms of my French learning because I beat myself up about it. I come across difficulty quite a lot in my everyday life when I’m trying to talk to Parisian people in French and I lack as you know I lack the support of a teacher and things like that so it’s important to sometimes just check your your language level and and feel good about it as well as identifying room for improvement.



OK and that sounds really interesting. And what about conversations with French people. Does it occur to you that all of a sudden your conversation partner switches to English.



Oh yes yes oh absolutely. This is one of my excuses. Daniel this is. I want it can I. Can I go through my list of excuses. I’ll do it quick. All right sir.



Excuse number one. And well first of all I should say that obviously these are all excuses and there’s And it’s not it’s not good enough. You shouldn’t do this. But I need to get them out of my system. OK. So excuse number one about my lack of French is that I don’t really need it yet. OK.



Because actually in my everyday life I can survive and live quite well even though I live in France. I can survive and live fairly well doing everything in English. Scraping by with the with the broken French that I have. So that’s one reason a lot of people learn a language as a pure survival. But you go to another country you get a job there and you’re just trying to survive and just trying to manage interactions. But I rarely experienced that because at home I speak English with my wife. She’s French but when we met each other everything was always in English from the very beginning. And so our relationship has been defined



by communication in English. We do switch to French sometimes but then when something important happens it goes straight back to English. Work as an English teacher I work in English all day every day and my colleagues all speak English so I’m in a little English bubble in that situation. I’m thinking about English or marking English I’m preparing English stuff. I’m even you know reading up on English grammar and things like that in preparation for my classes and in my social life. You know a lot of my friends speak English. I do have friends who who don’t really speak English and those are the occasions where really you know those are the only times really where I’m



actively participating in conversations in French for example with my my wife’s grandparents or with some other friends who don’t really speak English. And what happens there is that often we’re sitting around a table and there’s lots of people who know each other very well. All speaking French super fast. And I just sort of you know can’t keep up. And it’s very difficult in a way I feel really bad about it.



But there’s more there’s more. And the other thing you said is that you know when people switch to to English and it’s true here in Paris the stereotype is that people don’t want to speak English. Well in my experience that’s not true because I’ll go to a place like a restaurant and I’ll start speaking to the waiter in French and you can see if you can see the look on his face. Basically you can see what he’s thinking. And sometimes they even say it. They say they think Oh well clearly your French is appalling. So let’s switch to English. You know they feel a lot better about themselves.



They feel a lot better about their English when they hear when they hear my French like if if you go into a French place and you immediately speak English Hello I’d like some bread please. Then often you’ll get the response in French Yeah because they speak French back to you but if you go in and start speaking French but not good enough then they will switch to English which is like almost as insulting really because it’s kind of like oh you’re French is terrible let’s just do this in English.



So you know oh yeah I like that. That’s an idea.



But those are all excuses and I’m fully aware of the fact that one must not make excuses when attempting to learn a language. It’s all about taking responsibility and not letting negative experiences stop you. And and so on.



Yes I I used to listen to a podcast of one of your friends Paul Taylor. Oh yes. And the special thing is that he used to do both broadcasts one in French and one in English. Yeah. And it was actually I want one translation and it was just amazing. So in your case I suppose that will definitely not happen that you translate one of your episodes into France.



No no no no. But one of my episodes or an hour long my French version would be about one minute long because I’d be like you know welcome to Luke’s French podcast. Right. Well that’s about it. By you know not all can’t do that. I mean polls amazing because you know he’s bilingual basically and you know he learnt French in childhood and stuff like that and he’s naturally very good at picking up languages and things I think. But you know I used to listen to Paul’s podcast he stopped doing it now but I used to listen to the English versions and the French version and it really



helped me with my French because I know him I know the things he was talking about. And so I used to listen to it in French and I’d sometimes walk around repeating poles podcast but then he stopped. Which is a noir.



Yeah. And I am continuing to look for good podcasts in French that I really want to listen to. I found one recently which is called French voices.



It’s called Oh hold on oh I can’t find it on my phone but I think it’s called French voices podcast and that’s the sort of thing I’m interested in it’s actually a French teacher talking to other native French speakers in a natural way and sort of then giving you a bit of support and commentary on the conversations and all the French podcasts I find really low-level podcasts for tourists who are coming to France and it’s all about you know or how to order a coffee and stuff like that.



Yeah. So you are Paul’s podcast was actually very useful until he stopped doing it.



Yeah. And what about your podcast is it really just for English learners. Because I think that there are also many English speaking guys who are listening to it.



Yeah I guess so. I mean what I try to do with the podcast is try to make it first and foremost I suppose entertaining and interesting to listen to. I mean I’d be very happy if I learned that there were native English speakers listening to it out of pure enjoyment I mean that would make me very happy indeed. I mean I try to help learners of English to continue listening by making the podcast personalized and hopefully entertaining or at least interesting to some extent. And I think that yeah I do actually think some native English speakers listen to the podcast they do. I mean some of my



podcast stats show me that I have the USA and the UK are both countries in my top 10 countries. But that could just be all the learners of English who are living in those countries you know are listening to it. But yeah I know a few native speakers who listen but you know not that many. The vast majority of people who have English as a second language like you know not many of my friends listen to my podcast unfortunately but I don’t I don’t go around trying to make them listen to it because I think that would be a bit annoying. Or you know if you listen to a podcast you know that that would be a bit irritating so I tend to keep it to myself really.



What about your students.



Yeah well some of the students listen. Some of them don’t. Again I try not to actually go on about it too much to my students because it’s a bit funny like I don’t necessarily want to be the kind of person who’s constantly trying to promote myself to the people I’m teaching for my for my students. I do you know I give gentle sort of suggestions to them like at the end of the class I’ll give them a homework and I’ll say Oh by the way if you’re interested you could listen to this episode of my podcast. It’s about the same subject we were talking about today. And some of them pick up on that and they listen to it. So yeah a few of my students get into it which is really cool. And



I can tell actually that the students who are listening because they start to actually get on the same wavelength as me and they start making references to things I’ve picked up from my episodes and stuff. So yeah. Yeah. Some of my students do listen but I’m not always pushing the podcast on them.



OK thanks. Yeah. I imagine you could open up a school on your own. And yeah from all over the world would come to you and lessons.



Yes yes that would be pretty amazing but I mean that’s always kind of been open to me and it’s something I might do one day.



But to be honest I kind of just enjoy the experience of being in the classroom and teaching.



And then the management of a school is a whole other ball game which involves all these economic decisions financial concerns. Classroom numbers ordering textbooks employing teachers providing discipline to teachers if it’s necessary. All that stuff.



I’m not sure I fancy that Randi. I prefer the actual direct application of English teaching. You know just like I’m happy to let school get a bunch of people in a room for me and then I you know I want to just teach them English. That’s kind of what I’m into. But yeah maybe one day I could set up the English podcast Academy or the English school. I have been thinking about that or even thought of trying to think of good names for my school. I was thinking of calling it Thompson English language learning which would be called tell and you could say tell your friends about topics in English language learning.



It’s just an idea you know.



And I what about your business class. I think you wanted to create something new. Or how is this evolving.






It’s a work in progress so this is the big thing that I’m attempting to to complete right now and it’s it is quite a challenge really getting all done on my own but essentially that that will be an online English course for professional situations the kinds of English that you would need in your professional life. So English for professionals on how to speak English like a pro or I was considering calling it how to speak English like a boss.



I don’t know if that sounds serious enough but I dunno I don’t know what you think. What do you think. To think how to speak English like a boss. Well it has quite a negative connotation to it. It sounds like the sort of English you’d use to push people around and tell people what to do. Now.



So I’m preparing an online course that will be a series of videos downloadable videos and hopefully downloadable PTF worksheets a whole series of modules exploring the practical kind of functional English that can be really important for effective communication in a professional context. So things like English that you need to be effective in meetings and in negotiations how to give good presentations how to socialize in English and also how to speak English over the telephone



and in conference calls because you know basically that’s there’s a whole series of skills that you need in order to be competent at using English in those situations. That’s what I’m focusing on with this one. And I’ve never done that on Luc’s English podcast I’ve always made a conscious decision not to touch on professional English. Maybe a little bit but generally not because I’ve always wanted to do a separate project about English for professional life and you know because I’ve been teaching English to business executives and stuff for for most of my career



I’ve taught English to all sorts of people in different work environments and things like that so it’s just something I’ve never done on line.



So it’s like a little kind of extra thing I’ve been I’ve been keeping up my sleeve all this time and it’s just a question of getting myself organized and getting out there.



That sounds really cool to me. I’m definitely in.



Oh cool cool cool. All right.



Well hopefully you won’t have to wait much longer but I do need to pull my finger out and get my you know get working on it. As much as possible.



Yeah. So I want to thank you very much for this conversation to talk and hopefully the next conversation will be in French I guess.



Yes that might be nice yeah yeah. OK let’s hope so.



And what do you think Daniel. What’s it like to get my French in order. If you go any any other extra tips for me I mean as a as a person who’s been improving their English by doing a podcast. Do you find doing that during the podcast is helping your English.



I think so you should start out with the podcast in French. It doesn’t mean to be one. Our podcast could be only three minutes or two minutes. But for instance in my case I could improve a lot. I am doing this now almost one year yeah and I can certainly say that I am a better speaker and also a better listener because the very first thing is to just comprehend others to understand what others say.



And for example, as we are speaking now together I am really concentrated to get all the verts and that pushes you further you know. Yeah. So basically what I want to say is you need to start really small with small goals and then maintaining the training. Continuity is important.



Yeah yeah, that makes total sense to me. OK. All right. Good. Yeah. I will. I’ll do that. I don’t know if I’m going to start publishing my potassium French because I don’t know if anyone would actually listen to that yet but what I will do is continue to do my own little private episodes of Luke’s French podcast while I’m preparing my lunch. And then maybe I can sort of push that further. And I you know I’ve got I’ve got lots of little things that I should be adding into my daily routine. I’ve been reading graphic novels in French and that’s great. I’m loving that.



Yeah I’m loving that too. I’m I’m reading also comic scene in English. It’s yeah it’s a good way to learn. It’s fun isn’t it. It’s fun. It’s great fun.



Yeah. OK.



Daniel thank you for inviting me onto your fluid podcast. It’s been a pleasure.



Yeah. Thank you very much.






So people I survive it just before I finish up this episode I want to share some of my thoughts. So Luke Thompson is a really experienced teacher and it is quite interesting to know that even he had some issues in learning. A target language so people don’t give up if it gets difficult. Yeah sometimes it is difficult. We all need to continue our language journey. So set yourself small goals and you will achieve



your target this is my fluent podcast I am your host. Daniel good son. Have a good one.






  • Paolo Magnaghi

    well done Daniel !! Luke is a very good teacher. In these days i enjoy 425 episode with Amber and Paul, it is difficoult and a little complicated, but funny.