The Weekend Listener #4

The Weekend Listener is an eclectic weekly list of noteworthy podcasts and radio recordings, old and new, curated for your listening pleasure. Posts in this series are published on Fridays – please search the website for the previous instalments.


Speaking of Psychology: Why can some people speak dozens of languages?

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You’ve all heard of polyglots – people who have the ability to speak several languages. Perhaps you even happen to be one. But how about hyperglots, people who have mastered dozens of languages? In an interview with the MIT professor Evelina Fedorenko, this podcast from the American Psychological Association explains the phenomenon. The webpage contains a full transcript of the conversation. [Duration: 40’06’’]


In Our Time: Lyrical Ballads

William Wordsworth

Having posted on the English Romantic poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge recently (see here and here), I felt the need to include a listening tip on them, as well. In this episode of the BBC Radio programme In Our Time, Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Lyrical Ballads, an important collection of poems that marked the beginning of the Romantic era in English literature. [Duration: 42’]


Learning Vocabulary: A Halloween History

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This episode of the Learning Vocabulary series produced by the British Council will teach you some key words and phrases connected with Halloween. The webpage contains a full transcript of the audio, vocabulary quizzes, grammar explanations and additional tasks and activities. [Duration: 22’08’’]


The History of the World in 100 Objects: Early Victorian Tea Set

Starting from a tea set as an object, the programme explains the background to the dramatic rise in the popularity of tea in the Victorian era and how it was linked with mass production, capitalism, British patriotism and the imperial project. Who would have thought there was so much ideology in a cuppa? [Duration: 14’]


Ideas from the CBC: The Left-Handers

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In many cultures being left-handed is considered something bad and sinister to this day. But why exactly is that? What’s the evolutionary perspective on left-handedness? Do left-handed people possess any special talents or abilities? What’s behind the disputed research showing correlation between left-handedness and schizophrenia? There are many questions and even more possible answers regarding this – not uniquely human – trait.


The Leonard Lopate Show: Barbara Ehrenreich on Mystical Experiences and the Search for Answers

Barbara Ehrenreich

Barbara Ehrenreich, who died earlier this year, was a prolific author, journalist and activist. Best known for her books and essays critical of capitalism and social inequality, in 2014 she published an autobiographical book titled Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything, a record of her own mystical experiences and how she, as a sworn atheist, came to understand them. If you like the interview, visit the Internet Archive website to borrow the e-version of the book. [Duration: 25’39’’]

Is there a podcast episode you’d like to recommend on these or related topics? You’re very welcome to share it in the comments section below.

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