To celebrate the 25th episode of Thinking in English, today I’ve made a slightly different episode! I decided it’s time to introduce myself to all of the listeners, let you know my background, and talk about why I started Thinking in English!!

(If you can’t see the podcast player click here to listen!)

Vocabulary List

Milestone (n) – an important event in the development or history of something or in someone’s life

We’ve been married now for 20 years, a real milestone

Stereotypical (adj) – with the qualities that people usually expect of a particular type of person or thing, although this idea may be wrong

Managers need to leave behind their stereotypical ideas about women

Institution (n) – a large and important organization, such as a university or bank

This institution is over 800 years old!

To fascinate (v) – to interest someone a lot

Science has always fascinated me!

To comprehend (v) – to understand something completely

He doesn’t seem to comprehend the scale of the problem!

Colonial (adj) – relating to a colony or colonisation

Various parts of Africa have suffered under colonial rule!

Dissertation (n) – a long piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one that is done in order to receive a degree at college or university

Ann did her dissertation on Karl Marx

Immense (adj) – extremely large in size or degree

They spent an immense amount of time getting the room ready for their guests!

Indigenous (adj) – naturally existing in a place or country rather than arriving from another place

The indigenous people of Australia have suffered for many years!

To scupper (v) – to cause something such as a plan or an opportunity to fail

Arriving late for the interview scuppered my chances of getting the job!

This is the 25th episode of Thinking in English! I really wasn’t expecting to make so many episodes, or to enjoy doing this so much. What started as a vague idea to make an occasional podcast for a few English students has turned into something I’m spending most of my freetime on. In celebration of this milestone, i thought it might be a good opportunity to introduce myself in more detail. If you’ve listened to a few of the previous episodes, you’ve probably already learned a few things about me. If this is your first episode, feel free to check out some of the previous episodes. Today, however, I’m going to tell you some more specific information about myself, reveal why I started this podcast, and discuss what I wish this podcast will become in the future! It might also be a useful example of how to introduce yourself in English!

So let’s start with the basics! I’m a 25 year old from the UK called Tom. I was born and grew up in a village in the centre of England; just outside the town of Milton Keynes. The English countryside has been featured in hundreds, if not thousands, of books, TV shows and movies; the place I grew up is maybe the stereotypical English country village taken straight out of your imaginations. An old church, fields full of sheep and cows, local market, river. It has it all! 

I left my hometown in 2013 to attend the University of Nottingham, a well respected higher education institution. I decided to study History and Politics, in what is called a joint honours degree. Joint honours degrees are essentially 50% one subject and 50% the other. For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with watching historical documentaries and movies, and reading historical books and fiction. As I got older, this desire to understand the past turned into a need to comprehend the present. More clearly, I wanted to know how the world worked and why it works in that way. This is still true today! Over my time at Nottingham, I took classes ranging from colonial medical history to African politics. In addition, I wrote my dissertation on mental health in colonial India and the connections to drug use! Most of my time, however, was spent working in education; tutoring, mentoring, and planning activities for children and teenagers in the local area! 

After graduating, I spent two years teaching English in rural Japan. Living in a foreign country, and a country which is so different from your own, is full of immense challenges and extraordinary experiences. Moreover, I barely knew anything about Japan before I moved there! It was the job, not the location, that attracted me to Japan. Everyday was a new learning experience; I was learning how to teach English; I was learning how to teach Japanese children; I was learning how to speak Japanese; I was learning how to live successfully in a foreign country! After two years of many embarrassing moments and almost constant confusion, however, I grew to love the country, its culture, and language. Consequently, in 2018 I made the decision to study and research Japan and the wider region further! I returned to the UK and enrolled in a Master’s degree at SOAS, University of London. This is a specialist university focusing on teaching courses only concerning Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. I was able to specifically focus on studying what I was interested in; the politics and international relations of East Asia. My graduation thesis focused on the rights of indigenous peoples in East Asia. Furthermore, I met so many intelligent, international, and interesting people throughout that year in London. 

After a few months studying Chinese in Taiwan at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020, most of my plans for this year were scuppered by pandemic. In fact, if it wasn’t for corona i would be studying and researching at a University in Tokyo right now. Instead, I have been forced to return to my home town and spend my time stuck inside teaching English online and working part time jobs! 

So why did I start Thinking in English? The concept behind Thinking in English is to produce almost native level content on a range of topics, but to do so using a clear and well enunciated voice, as well as produce an accompanying vocabulary list and transcript. This is what i was looking for when hunting for Japanese language podcasts, and also what my students were interested in! Personally, when searching for Japanese language podcasts i found that many of the shows designed for learners covered topics i wasn’t interested in – daily life, TV shows, or simple discussions. You can probably tell that i’m more interested in politics, international relations, philosophy, and conversations that involve critical thinking! On the other hand, the podcasts that cover the topics I’m interested in are too advanced, or speak too fast with tonnes of new vocabulary. I heard the same kind of complaints from my English students. So I decided I’d try to make a podcast for learners like me! 

So what is the future of Thinking in English? When I started, I only planned to produce 1 podcast a week. Now, I’m producing 3 a week, updating a blog and Instagram page daily. Who knows what I’ll be doing at 50? Hopefully by the end of this week the content I’m creating for Instagram will be improved slightly, and the audio for the podcast should also be far better! I have plans to create a longer form podcast in the future as well. However, whatever happens in the future is really down to all of you! The more you listen and interact with the content, the more I will be able to produce!

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By Tom Wilkinson

Host and founder of Thinking in English, Tom is committed to providing quality and interesting content to all English learners. Previously a research student at a top Japanese university and with a background in English teaching, political research, and Asian languages, Tom is now working fulltime on bettering Thinking in English!

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