Slow English

Podcasts about Australia for intermediate learners of English

Podcast 156 – I Gave a Talk About My Podcast


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Learn English while learning about daily life in Australia, with Rob McCormack

Podcast Number 156 – I Gave a Talk About My Podcast  

(This podcast is 14 minutes and 5 seconds long.)


I recently received an exciting email from a teacher working at the Swinburne University of Technology here in Melbourne, at the Wantirna South Campus.  Her name is Leah Burgers.  She teaches adult migrants who want to develop and improve their English language skills.  She explained that she has been using my podcast in her classes and has found the materials to be very useful.  Also, she said that her students, all adults, really like them.  She said that the aspects which they liked most included the wide variety of topics, my clear Australian voice and the simple vocabulary list and quiz which follow the transcript on my website at  Naturally, I was really pleased to receive such great feedback.  Leah then asked if I would be interested in doing a class visit, to talk about my podcast and how I produce it.  This sounded like a wonderful opportunity to meet some of my listeners and to talk about my podcast.  I said I would like to come and we arranged a time.  In this podcast, I would like to talk about how I prepared and delivered my talk, and also about the students I met when I was there.

Leah had given me some good ideas on what could be in my talk.  She advised me that there would be around 100 people from around six classes at Intermediate Level.  It would be held in a large auditorium, which is a lecture room set up like a theatre with tiered seating sloping upwards from the front to the back of the room, so that everyone can see the teacher standing at the front.  I must admit that I got some feelings of nervousness when I thought of an auditorium with high ceilings, with me down at the front and looking out and up over a large audience.  Even though I have done a lot of talking to medium-sized groups in my career as a teacher and project manager, talking to this many people is a little bit frightening for those who don’t do it very often.  Since I retired 13 years ago, I have done hardly any talking to big groups.  However, I knew the audience would be very supportive and friendly, so I said to myself that I should not worry – it would go well.  Even so, that nervousness remained.

Based on Leah’s suggestions, I decided the outline for my talk would be as follows:

  1. My background.
  2. Why I started the podcast.
  3. How I set up the podcast.
  4. How I create each podcast episode.
  5. How students could use the podcast materials.
  6. Questions from the audience.

I prepared a simple one-page PowerPoint presentation showing these points, including a copy of my Slow English kangaroo banner photograph on the side, which I assumed would be displayed on a powerful projector with a wide screen at the front for everyone to see. I also prepared some notes about my favourite podcasts, in case I found I needed something extra to talk about.  It would depend how the talk went on the day.  I like the idea of being prepared for the unexpected.

Leah indicated that the auditorium had been booked for 1 hour.  Therefore, I assumed I should talk for maybe 25 minutes, followed by questions from the audience and then maybe an opportunity for me to meet and chat with some of the students afterwards.

My first challenge was to decide what personal notes I would use for my talk.  A 25-minute talk is quite long, so my notes should ideally be brief and summarized.  I decided to use mind maps to construct my talking notes. A mind map is like a skeleton outline of your talk. A mind map has only single words or short phrases connected by lines, circles, arrows and shapes.  Nonetheless, they summarize well all your ideas and points. The mind maps would allow me to remember all the points I wanted to present and the sequence of their presentation.  Using that, you then have the freedom to adlib as you go, which sounds more natural to the listener.

So, I prepared my single PowerPoint slide and also my mind maps, which went over 6 pages.  I practised my talk several times and timed how long it took.  It took somewhere between 22 minutes and 26 minutes, depending on how fast I spoke. I was ready.

On the morning of my talk, I drove to Swinburne University in Wantirna.  I hate being late, so I left home early and arrived about 40 minutes before the talk was due to start.  The campus at Wantirna is extremely well laid out with many grassed areas with beautiful trees and garden beds.  I thought to myself, what a great place to take a course of study, and also for the teachers to work.

The grounds at Swinburne University in Wantirna are well kept and have a great atmosphere.

I found the auditorium building and entered. The auditorium was empty so I waited outside in the foyer, feeling a little apprehensive but also excited to be there.  After only a few minutes, a lady approached me and introduced herself as Leah.  She was very welcoming and she took me inside.  Very quickly she set up the auditorium and I was able to email to her my PowerPoint slide which she quickly displayed on the big screen at the front of the auditorium.  She then told me about the students, where they came from and how positive they were about their studies.  She told me they were undertaking the Adult Migrant English Program (AMEP), a government program designed to encourage and support migrants to learn English.  I talked about this program in more detail in Podcast 100 Languages in Australia (see  You should visit the government website at this link for more detailed information (

As we talked, some students started arriving and some of them immediately approached me.  We started talking.  Their welcome for me could not have been better.  They were so friendly and enthusiastic.  I really appreciated that. Just before we started, Leah took some photos to record the experience.

Before the talk began, it was great to talk to some students from the audience. (Frank and I are talking here.) They were very polite and keen to hear about my podcast. They spoke well.


Here I am posing in the auditorium with the audience, before my talk. (Photo by Leah Burgers)

My talk went very well.  Luckily, I had the use of a microphone so I tried to talk clearly and not too fast.  The students seemed very interested, with some even taking notes as I talked.  I even made them laugh when I told them the funny story about how I took the photograph of the 4 kangaroos which I use on the top of my website page.  I successfully delivered my talk in around 30 minutes, which seemed about the right length. Then there were some questions from the audience, which I answered as best I could.

I enjoyed answering their questions at the end of my talk. (Photo by Leah Burgers)

After the questions, two students came down to the front and gave a short speech of thanks to me in very good English and gave me a small gift of some chocolates and a thankyou card, which I thought was a really nice gesture.  My wife and I enjoyed the chocolates and they were all eaten by the next day!

I was very impressed by the attentiveness and friendliness of the students, some of whom are as old or older than me (I’m 72).  At the end, many of them came down from their seats to talk with me and make photos of themselves standing with me.  My smile was very wide.  I felt like a movie star.  Their kind words about my talk, my podcast and my efforts on Slow English are greatly appreciated.  I was most impressed by them all.  They came from countries such as China, Iran, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Taiwan, Thailand, Iraq, Myanmar, South Korea and Vietnam.  I really admire and respect their desire to learn English and to make the very best of their opportunity in their new home in Australia. I wish them every success as they learn English and make their new lives here.

Here I am after the talk, posing with Leah Burger and her class of students.


Here I am posing with a group from the audience, after my talk.

If you have a question or comment to make, please leave it in the comments box at the bottom of this page. Or, you can send me an email at  I would love to hear from you.  Tell me where you live, a little bit about yourself and what you think of my Slow English podcast.  I will write back to you, in English of course.  If you would like to take a short quiz to see if you have understood this podcast, you will also find it on my website. Goodbye until next time.


Podcast 156 Quiz - Did you understand the podcast?

You can take the quiz as many times as you like.


adlib = to make it up as you go along (in a speech, in music, etc)

adult = a person who is grown up, 18 years of age or older

advised = when someone gives you ideas

appreciated = feeling thankful

apprehensive = nervous, when you are worrying about something

approached = came towards me

arranged = organised, set up, agreed

aspects = parts of an idea, experience or concept

attentiveness = when you look at something closely or listen hard to someone

audience = the people who are listening to a speaker

banner photograph = a photograph which is shown at the top, usually on every page

campus = the place where a university is located

career = the different jobs someone has over their working life

ceilings = the roof (when looking up inside a room)

challenge = something that is hard to do

chat = to talk with someone

delivered = (here) given

desire = what someone wants

displayed = shown

due = (here) planned

encourage = to help someone to do something (such as learning a language)

enthusiastic = to be positive about something, to really want to do something

extremely = very

garden beds = a place in a garden where plants are grown, usually flowers

gesture = an action which shows that you are thankful to somebody for what they have done

hardly any = almost none, close to zero (but not zero)

indicated = (here) explained

intermediate = a medium or middle level (not basic, but not advanced)

lecture = when someone gives a speech or a talk

materials = (here) information, ideas and/or exercises to use in learning

medium-sized = not small, and not large

microphone = a device that you speak into, so that your voice is made louder

migrants = people who go to live in another country, never to return

nervousness = the feeling of being nervous or a little scared

opportunity = when you have a chance to do something which you can’t do at another time

outline = a summary of a talk, book, film or play

PowerPoint = software that allows you to do a summary of a talk and show it on a projector

practised = to do something many times in order to improve and do it without errors

present = (here) to give

produce = (here) make

projector= a device used to show a picture or PowerPoint slide onto a screen

recently = when something happened not very long ago.  For example, last week or month

sequence = the order in which you do something

skeleton outline = a picture showing all the high-level points in a book, speech, film, etc

sloping = going from low to high (like the side of a hill)

suggestions = ideas which someone gives to you, which you can use to do a job

summarized = when you show only the high-level points (leave out the details)

supportive = when someone likes what you do and tells you to keep doing it

theatre = a big room where a film is seen by an audience

tiered = rows of seating where each row behind is a little higher than the row in front

transcript = when a speech or talk is written down

undertaking = doing

unexpected = when you see something which you did not think would happen

variety = many types, each a little different to the others


  1. Hi Rob,
    My English name is Lisa I am one of Lean’s students.I thank the teacher for inviting you, and we have an opportunity to learn how podcasts are made. The man who was talking with you in the second photo is my husband, named Frank. When I saw your 156 podcast, I was very excited and read it immediately.But I have about thirty-five new words, so I checked the dictionary to learn vocabulary. I really enjoyed 156 podcast . Because I’m a member of this podcast, I watched and listened to it three times. And I did the quiz, getting 90%. You are a great volunteer to record about Australian life, famous public landmarks, nice places, animals, sports, and other activities.I can continue to see your new and old podcasts, I’m your big fan. By the way, I want to say the picture of four kangaroos is a moment of brilliance that became a classic. cool!
    Best Regards,

    • Hi Lisa,
      Many thanks for another very interesting comment. Well written! I appreciate your kind words. It was a pleasure to meet you and your husband Frank at Swinburne. I am impressed that you got 90% on the quiz. Well done! Also impressive is your checking of new vocabulary words in the dictionary. That’s how you grow your speaking vocabulary.
      Yes, the photo of the kangaroos was a classic moment for me. Those kangaroos don’t realise it but they are the stars of Slow English!
      Best regards,

  2. Hi Rob,
    I am a student of Leah, When Leah told us you would come to Swinburne having a report for us that day, I felt very exciting,Finally able to meet you and listen to you up close!
    I followed your podcast to learn English in 2019, when I had just arrived in Australia, they are very interesting and useful, It not only improved my English, but also allowed me to understand the culture and customs of Australia, which is very useful for those of us who have just moved here. Thank you very much for your efforts over the years. I believe there are many fans like me who have been silently following you to learn but have never expressed their gratitude, I am so sorry!
    I am also very grateful to Leah for inviting you to give a report for us, and I have also shared your photos with my family and friends. It is an amazing time!
    Thank you so much, hope you and your family have a wonderful day,


    • Hi Claire,
      Many thanks for your comment. I appreciate your kind words about my podcast. I am glad that you have found my podcasts useful. To come to another country to live, especially one where you don’t speak the language, must be very challenging. Your adventurous spirit and your determination to succeed are an inspiration to me. I wish you well for the future, and also in your English studies. I can tell from your comment that your English is already impressive. Well done!
      Best regards,

  3. Hi Rob,

    I become your big fan.Your podcast is very useful for me. I can learn English and many knowledge. Thank you very much! Thank Leah too. You are my teacher also. Your podcasts can improve my English skill. I’m feeling very happy!

    Hope you all best.
    Frank Sun

    • Hi Frank,
      Many thanks for your comment and for your kind words. It was great to meet and chat with you at Swinburne. Good luck with tour English. You are doing well.
      Best regards,

  4. Hi Rob,
    Great work! I really appreciate your efforts in making those episodes. My parents will be older than you are now if they would receive their PR given the current waiting time is about 12 years. I sincerely hope your podcasts will continue to prosper and help more people.
    Thank you very much for making those great episodes.
    Kind regards,

    • Hi Wendy,
      Many thanks for your comment and for your kind words about my podcast. Thanks also for the info about the waiting period for a PR.
      Best regards,

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