English Podcasts interviews Boris Johnson

English Podcasts interviews Boris Johnson

English Podcasts interviews Boris Johnson

This is just a bit of fun and is in no way meant to be political and does not represent any political views of the site, as we hold no political views..

At the time of recording, the colourful character, Boris Johnson was / is the prime minister of The UK.

Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson  born 19 June 1964) is a British politician, writer, and former journalist serving as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party since July 2019.

He has been Member of Parliament (MP) for Uxbridge and South Ruislip since 2015 and was MP for Henley from 2001 to 2008.

He also served as Mayor of London from 2008 to 2016 and Foreign Secretary from 2016 to 2018. Johnson identifies as a one-nation conservative.

Born in New York City to upper-middle class English parents, Johnson was educated at the European School, Ashdown House, and Eton College.

He read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he was elected President of the Oxford Union in 1986.

He began his career in journalism at The Times but was dismissed for falsifying a quotation.

He became The Daily Telegraphs Brussels correspondent, and his articles exerted a strong influence on growing Eurosceptic sentiment on the British right-wing.

He was an assistant editor of The Telegraphfrom 1994 to 1999, and edited The Spectator from 1999 to 2005.

He was elected MP for Henley in 2001, and served as a Junior Shadow Minister under Conservative leaders Michael Howard and David Cameron.

He largely adhered to the Conservatives’ party line but adopted a socially liberal stance on issues such as LGBT rights in parliamentary votes.

Resigning as an MP, in 2008 he was elected Mayor of London, and was re-elected in 2012.

During his mayoralty, he banned alcohol consumption on much of London’s public transport, oversaw the 2012 Summer Olympics, and introduced the New Routemaster buses, cycle hire scheme, and Thames cable car.

In 2015, Johnson was elected MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, stepping down as Mayor the following year.

In 2016, he became a prominent figure in the successful Vote Leavecampaign to support “Brexit”, the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

He then served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs under Theresa May’s premiership.

After May resigned in 2019, he was elected Conservative leader and appointed prime minister.

Pursuing Brexit, he unlawfully prorogued parliament and suspended 21 Conservative MPs who opposed his approach to leaving the EU.

Johnson is a controversial figure in British politics and journalism.

Supporters have praised him as an entertaining, humorous, and popular figure, with an appeal stretching beyond traditional Conservative voters.

He has been criticised for using racist, sexist, and homophobic language, and accused of dishonesty, elitism, and cronyism.

Johnson is the subject of several biographies and a number of fictionalised portrayals.

Listen to the ‘interview’ with Boris Johnson.

7 Tips to improve listening

7 Tips to improve listening

7 Tips to improve listening

Why are listening skills important, both for everyday life and for language learning?

Well, if you don’t listen, then you will never learn, as simple as that.

Listeners, and especially good listeners are the best learners, as the Dalai Lama said, “When you speak you are repeating what you already know, but when you listen it gives us an opportunity to learn.”

So here are the 7 Tips to improve listening that we discuss in the podcast :

  1. Listen to silence, focus on yourself and what is around you. Interestingly the word, ‘Silent’ includes all of the letter in the word ‘Listen.’
  2. Listen to backgground sounds, those sounds that we usually try to ignore or block out.
  3. Focus and get relaxed, open your ears (although this is not really something we can do) as you need to be able to hear before you can listen effectively and finally understand what you are listening to.
  4. Listen form differing perspectives and change the perspective by taking different standpoints – agree, disagree, criticise, empathise etc.
  5. Listen to emotion in the listening – happiness, excitedness, sadness, seriousness, anger etc.
  6. For language learners, try to skip over and ignore what you don’t understand and listen globally and not in detail.
  7. Enjoy listening, don’t see it as a chore, do it often and vary the way you listen.


A few days in New York

A few days in New York

A few days in New York.

Have you ever been to New York ? Is it on your list of things to do ? Do you like big cites ? Do you live in the USA? What do you think of tourists to your country?

Listen to this podcast in which Laura, a French-British young women talks to Sue about her holiday, or vacation as they say in American English.

If you are learning English listen very carefully to how Laura talks about her trip. She is half way through her holiday so notice how she describes actions/events in the past and then actions/events in the recent past and then actions/ events in the future. This podcast is a great way to see all these grammatical structures.

Notice the use of the Simple Past tense to indicate something that Laura did in the past. 

I booked the hotel on line. I bought a Tourist pass before I came 

Sue asks Laura; How did you cope with the jet leg when you arrived?

Notice the use of the Present Perfect tense which Laura uses to describe something she has done recently, within the last few days but without mentioning the exact day.

I have been to see the Statue of Liberty. I‘ve done so many things.  I have taken a cab. I’ve been to wrong places. I have been to Five Guys. I’ve spoken to quite a few people from new York. 

Notice the use of the Present Continuous tense to describe a current situation.

Sue asks Laura: How are you getting around ? 

People in the street are all carrying a cup of soda or coffee.

Notice the use of the future tenses.

Sue asks Laura: What are you doing after this diner? When are you heading back ?

I’m going to visit Brooklyn Bridge and the Highline later this afternoon.



To learn more vocabulary don’t forget to do the New York Skyline Quiz… it’s awesome !

The New York Skyline Quiz

The New York skyline is world famous, but how well do you really know it ?


Spelling place names in English

Spelling place names in English

Spelling place names in English

Spelling place names in English can be difficult, especially if the sounds of the letters are similar to the letters of the alphabet in your own language as this can lead to confusion.

Spelling place names in English is not difficult, but it takes a lot of practice for you to become proficient, especially if you are trying to understand spelling over the phone, for example.

Most people read words more accurately than they spell them. The younger the learners are, the truer this is.

Spelling, however, is a very different matter.

Once learners have learnt more than one way of spelling particular sounds, choosing the right letter or letters depends on their either having made a conscious effort to learn the words or having absorbed them less consciously through their reading.

The problem is generally that learners have not had enough time to learn or absorb the accurate spelling of all the words that they may want to write.

This illustrates the need to fully use the fours skills in language learning ; Listening, Speaking, Reading and writing – it is a little like making a cocktail, too much of one ingredient and not enough of another and the cocktail can taste either delicious or horrible.

In language learning, learners need to use all four skills in a balanced way – reading and writing will ultimately help spelling, but practice is needed to become fully familiar with the sounds of words and letters in order to become skillful in spelling words, which will improve with practice.

Have a go at spelling some of the longest words in the English language.

10 Killer questions Emmanuel

10 Killer questions Emmanuel

10 Killer questions Emmanuel

The Proust Questionnaire is a questionnaire about one’s personality. Its name and modern popularity as a form of interview is owed to the responses given by the French writer Marcel Proust.

At the end of the nineteenth century, when Proust was still in his teens, he answered a questionnaire in an English-language confession album belonging to his friend Antoinette, daughter of future French President Félix Faure, titled “An Album to Record Thoughts, Feelings, etc.” At that time, it was popular among English families to answer such a list of questions that revealed the tastes and aspirations of the taker.

Proust answered always with enthusiasm. The original manuscript of his answers of 1890, at the time of his volunteer internship or some little time afterwards, titled “by Marcel Proust himself,” was found in 1924. It was auctioned on May 27, 2003 for the sum of €102,000.

The French television host Bernard Pivot, seeing an opportunity for a writer to reveal at the same time aspects of his work and his personality, traditionally subjected his guests to the Proust questionnaire at the end of the French broadcast Apostrophes.

Inspired by Bernard Pivot, James Lipton, the host of the TV program Inside the Actors Studio, gives an adapted version of the Proust Questionnaire to his guests. Lipton has often incorrectly characterized the questionnaire itself as an invention of Pivot.

A similar questionnaire is regularly seen on the back page of Vanity Fair magazine, answered by various celebrities. In October 2009, Vanity Fair launched an interactive version of the questionnaire, that compares individual answers to those of various luminaries.

Another version of the questionnaire, as answered by various Canadian authors, is a regular feature on the radio program The Next Chapter.

For the benefits of this quick-fire question podcast, we have simplified it even further and we make no claims that it reveals the true personality of the person – especially as the questions are asked in English to a non-native person.

What it is, is a lot of fun.

What is in a name?

What is in a name?

What is in a name?

In this podcast we talk about surnames in The UK, especially including some famous names and where they originate from – so we are looking at what is in a name.

Everyone has one, no matter where you are from (with a few notable exceptions) and they are what make us, ‘us’.

Your surname, or family name, links you to thousands of people around the world, and the development of surnames, and their unique qualities are something that has interested people from all over the world for many years. 

Your surname is your last name, your family name, and gives you a sense of belonging to that group of people with the same name as you.

Surnames originated in places where highly concentrated populations meant that first names were not sufficient enough to differentiate between people, some were from physical appearances, some from family, some from geographical features and some were from trades and jobs.

The variation in the meaning behind a surname is wide and far reaching.

In some areas around the world, the surname is written first, but the aim of the surname is still for the same common goal, to differentiate people from other groups.

Some surnames originated in far off lands and were changed slightly to fit into the country where people emigrated to and some are composite names, made from both the mother’s and fathers family to make what we call a double-barrelled name.

During the reign of King Richard 1, known as “The Lionheart”, 1189 – 1199 surnames became necessary when governments introduced taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to “develop” often leading to some unusual variants of the original spelling.

Let us know your surname and if you know the origins, then please share it with our listeners in the comments below.

Find your surname here 

And here and here and here

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