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For the past year, I have released weekly bonus episodes of the Thinking in English Podcast, exclusive to Patreon subscribers!

These episodes cover a wide range of topics. For example, niche and complicated vocabulary and grammar, my personal experience, behind the scenes details about Thinking in English, story readings, and more.

These are excellent resources – and they come with transcripts, sometimes vocabulary lists, and vocabulary activities.

This article will introduce and recommend a few of my favourite Thinking in English Bonus Episodes.

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Vocabulary for the Modern Traveller!

Travel is one of the major reasons people cite as motivation to learn English. Wherever you go, whether it is the busy streets of Tokyo, the bustling markets of India, or the relaxed countryside of Eastern Europe, there will probably be the English language somewhere. 

But travel is constantly changing. There are new trends and methods of travel that constantly pop up. As a child in the UK, there only seemed to be three options for travelling. Every year my family would travel to a coastal town in the UK, and either camp in a tent for a week or occasionally rent a “caravan” on a campsite. To me, this was travelling – staying on a campsite, cooking our food outside

I was always incredibly jealous of my friends who travelled abroad for their summer holidays – usually on package vacations to the south of France, Spain, Italy or Greece. Package vacations are still incredibly popular in the UK: they include the flights, hotel accommodation, buses, and sometimes even all your food and drink. 

But the way people travel today is changing and expanding. We are more careful about the environment, more adventurous, and more willing to try new experiences and discover new places. Today, I’d like to introduce you all to a few words and phrases that demonstrate some of the current popular trends in global travel! 

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Confusing Misnomers and Misleading English Words! (Bonus Episode)

Have you ever come across a word or name that turned out to be completely different from what you expected? I still remember picking up a rice ball in a Japanese convenience store that I thought said chicken on the label. My Japanese wasn’t particuarly good, and it actually said “sea chicken” … which turned out to be canned tuna.

In language and naming, such surprises are known as “misnomers.” Let me share an intriguing anecdote that will help us discover what exactly a misnomer is.

Picture this: You’re on a trip, exploring the mesmerizing landscapes of Greenland, a place that should be lush and green, right? But to your surprise, you find yourself surrounded by vast icy landscapes stretching as far as the eye can see. You wonder, “How did Greenland get its name?” It turns out that this enchanting island in the North Atlantic Ocean was named by Norse explorer Erik the Red, who gave it the appealing name “Greenland” to entice settlers. However, what they found upon arrival was a land predominantly covered in ice.

Today we are going to discuss misleading names and terms. We will explore misnomers across various categories, including animals, fruits, wars, and even numerical systems!

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A Guide to English Euphemisms and Dysphemisms! (Bonus Episode)

When it comes to talking about sensitive topics, you have probably heard some slightly strange and unusual vocabulary being used.

Let’s imagine an announcement of the death of a successful businessperson. It would probably be written like this,

“After a long and fruitful career, the distinguished gentleman gracefully departed this world and peacefully passed away in the comfort of his own home, surrounded by loved ones.”

Instead of being direct, blunt, and very open with our vocabulary in this sensitive situation, we use gentler and more positive language. These are called euphemisms. Without euphemisms, it would sound something like,

“After a successful career, the gentleman died at home with family.”

It is not as positive and sensitive.

Today, I want to give you all a more detailed introduction to euphemisms, and their opposite, dysphemisms!

Listen Here

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English Words Borrowed from Japanese (Bonus Episode)

As many of you probably know, I’m now living in Japan again! This is the third time I have moved to Japan since 2016, and I’ve been trying to learn the language for many years.

Japanese is full of words borrowed from other languages: bread is pan (from Portuguese), part-time work is arubaito from the German word Arbeit, and there are thousands of English words that have entered the Japanese language.

This is not unusual. All languages borrow and adapt from other cultures. English is a great example – despite technically being a Germanic language, most English words are Latin in origin!

Today I want to take a look at some words that originated in Japanese. Some of these may be obvious, while others may surprise you!

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The Language of Artificial Intelligence! (Bonus Episode)

Artificial Intelligence is everywhere today! I’ve recorded episodes on ChatGPT before, the popular ChatBot created by OpenAI. I’m sure many of you have tried it out before.

I also use AI often in my work creating Thinking in English episodes!

I use ChatGPT to summarise long articles, allowing me to get the key points and read more efficiently. We also use ChatGPT to help think of conversation club topics and rewrite our example answers at different English levels.

use a software called Descript to make interactive transcripts for the podcast, and sometimes for editing episodes (especially if they have interview portions or multiple speakers). Descript uses artificial intelligence to transcribe podcasts, and then allows me to edit the audio by adjusting the transcript.

It also has cool tools like learning my voice and using it to replace mistakes!

Earlier this week, I also added an AI language learning tool to the Discord server. It is made by Memrise, the popular language learning platform, and allows you to practice English in a variety of different situations. I really encourage you all to try it out – there is a leaderboard function to see who is practicing the most!

And I am also working on my own AI powered writing tool. Hopefully it will be available in the next few weeks.

As a small business owner who is not making enough money to hire a lot of staff, AI has become a really important time-saver and tool.

In fact, for millions of people around the world artificial intelligence is, or will become, a major part of work, academic, and even personal lives. Therefore, we all need to learn some of the key vocabulary surrounding this technology!

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Idioms, Expressions, and Terms with Interesting Sports Origins! (Bonus Episode)

Sports is a very important part of society.

I grew up organizing my life around sport. I played rugby multiple times a week. In fact, there was a point around the age of 14 where I played rugby almost every day of the week.

If there was ever a weekend where I wasn’t playing sports, I would be watching sport. Watching premier league football. Rugby from various parts of the world. And I often stayed up late to watch exciting boxing or MMA fights .

And I’m not alone. My country, the UK is a sport mad nation.

Back in 2019, the UK was the only country in the world with a sporting attendance greater than its population.

In other words, the attendance per capita to professional sporting events in the UK was 1.15 in 2019. This meant on average every single person in the UK went to one professional sporting game in 2019.

And as the birthplace of the English language, it is natural for sports to contribute to the way we speak and communicate in English.

English is full of idioms expressions terms and phrases with origins in a wide variety of different sports. While this vocabulary originated in the world of sport, it has spread to other parts of society.

Many of these terms are incredibly common, especially in business communication.

I actually recorded a similar episode to this a few months ago. I talked specifically about baseball idioms.

There are so many from that sport and they are used all the time in business English. So make sure you listen to that episode. Today, let’s take a look at phrases from a variety of different sports.

Listen Here




Final Thought

What do you think? Have you listened to all of these episodes already? Or will you listen now?

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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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