In the 19th century Britain went to war with China over the drugs, causing the downfall of ancient China and a 'century of humiliation'.
Discover what happened, why Britain did this, and why this story is vitally important if you want to understand modern China.
The Prime Minister of the UK has a unique way of using language, which shows his privileged upbringing and elite education.
Learn about how he uses language, why he talks in this way, why this appeals to the British people, and what similarities he has with Donald Trump.
It's the 193km long canal that links the Mediterranean and the Red Seas.
The Ancient Egyptians dreamed of it, the Venetians did too, the French engineered it, the British bought it, the Egyptians nationalised it, it caused a Cold War crisis, and now it's a hugely important stretch of water for global trade.
It's time to tell the story of The Suez Canal.
The Medici family rose to power in Florence in the 1400s, and controlled the city for a large part of the Renaissance. Their legacy lives on through much of the art, culture, and architecture that we now take for granted.
In this episode we tell the story of how they rose to power and developed the idea of modern philanthropy.
He was the baddest of the bad-boy painters, and lived a remarkable life of crime, all while creating some of the most influential art of the 17th century.
From attacking waiters to murder, the story of his turbulent life takes us from Italy to Malta, making enemies at every step of the journey.
Whales are some of the most amazing animals that have ever existed.
From where they come from to how they live their lives, through to the threats that they have faced and how they bring new life in death, it's time to learn more about the amazing life these animals lead.
Is it really the most powerful secret society is the world?
Does it really control everything we do?
Or is it a conspiracy theory that has only a small basis in truth?
It's time for the true story of The Illuminati.
The history of electric cars goes back a lot further than Tesla and Elon Musk.
Indeed, the 'golden age' of electric cars was over 150 years ago.
Discover how electric cars have evolved, why some people say they aren't as green as people think they are, and we run the calculations to see what the true environmental cost of electric car ownership is.
These 17 chemical elements are vital for lots of modern technologies, from smartphones to laptops, wind turbines to electric cars.
But our dependence on them comes at a large cost, a cost that very few people are aware of.
Tito, the former president of Yugoslavia, survived 21 assassination attempts, fought in two world wars, and managed to stand up to Josef Stalin and live to tell the tale.
In this episode we tell the tale of the fascinating life of Josip Broz, 'Tito'.
It's the area of the Atlantic Ocean that some people think is incredibly dangerous for ships, and people have claimed that giant squids, large storms, and even the ancient underground city of Atlantis are responsible for countless sailors' lives.
In this episode we lift the curtain on the mystery of The Bermuda Triangle.
The President of The United States of America uses a kind of English you won't find in a textbook.
Here we take a look at how he speaks, why he speaks like he speaks, and what Donald Trump can teach you about speaking English effectively.
Deep in the Arctic Archipelago, under an icy mountain, lies a real-life Noah's Ark.
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is where a copy of almost every seed in the world is kept, just as a backup. Enjoy this fascinating story of global cooperation, and hear about one of the most amazing places on Earth.
It's one of the biggest financial frauds in history, and involves bankers, politicians, Hollywood celebrities, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
It's time to find out what happened to the missing Malaysian billions.
From what you can and can't do to a swan, to what happens if you have a drink and ride a horse, the UK is full of very strange laws.
In today's episode we discuss some of the strangest, and ask ourselves whether the law is any stranger in the UK than anywhere else in the world.
The pirates of the 21st century don't have parrots and swords, but night-vision goggles and AK47s.
Discover why pirates have re-emerged, how they work, and what the effect of piracy is on the areas in which they operate.
Anyone can send a letter, anywhere in the world, and it will be hand-delivered to any country in the world, for less than the price of a cup of coffee.
How did we arrive at this system, and how does it all work?
It's one of the world's most important financial institutions, but also one of the most controversial.
Discover what the World Bank actually is, how it works, what happens when it gets things right, and what happens when things go badly wrong.
It's one of Italy's oldest and largest criminal organisations, and its story is inextricably linked to the city of Naples.
In today's episode we tell the story of the Camorra: how it got to where it is today, how one of the biggest bosses was found hiding in an old lady's house, and why the new generation may not be as smart as the last.
This far-right conspiracy theory has gone from niche internet forums to President Trump's Twitter account.
Discover the story behind QAnon - where does it come from, what do they believe, and is it really the most dangerous conspiracy theory in America?
Discover the story of the man who escaped the Nazis, built up a publishing empire in Great Britain, then died mysteriously off the coast of the Canary Islands after stealing £500 million from his employees’ pension pots.
In 1971, Richard Nixon declared The War On Drugs. Almost 50 years later, in a war that has cost the US over a trillion dollars, we take a look at the effect that this war has had on society.
Why was it declared, what actually happened, and who are the real winners?
In the 19th century, young British and Russian men played a dangerous diplomatic game in central Asia.
Discover the unknown story of how these two empires fought for power in Afghanistan, and the men behind the story.
In 1948 the United Nations signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which set out the 30 'inalienable' rights that all humans on Earth should get at birth.
But where did this come from? How effectively does it actually work?
And what comes next for human rights?
It's the world's most famous man-made language, and is spoken by up to 2 million people.
In this episode we take a look at the fantastic history of Esperanto, how it works, why people love it, why people fear it, and what has made it attract so many devoted followers.
There are 7,000 languages spoken across the world.
Yet 80% of the population speaks just 1.1% of the languages, and 43% of the languages are endangered.
What happens when they die out?
You probably know about the invention of the light bulb, the telephone, and the aeroplane.
But do you know anything about the weird history of brandy, the microwave oven, viagra, velcro, or the stethoscope?
It's time to tell the unorthodox stories of how these five inventions were discovered.
Discover the amazing story of how a young woman from France befriended the royal family, escaped the guillotine, made death masks of revolutionaries, and then created the world's most successful waxworks museum.
The story of Madame Tussauds has a lot more to it than meets the eye.
It's now the most popular soft drink in the United States.
Yet 50 years ago barely anyone drunk it.
Today, we tell the story of how the world became addicted to bottled water.
Food delivery apps have taken over cities across the world, promising delicious food at the tap of a button.
But is it really that simple?
In this episode we discuss what the rise of food delivery apps means for us, for restaurants, and for the people who do the deliveries.
In 1983, a 16 year old girl who lived in the Vatican City didn't return home after a music lesson.
This true story involves the pope, gangsters, Turkish ultra-nationalists, and The Vatican Bank.
It's time to tell the story of Emanuela Orlandi.
When a country finds gold, oil or diamonds, you might think this would be a good thing.
But in many cases, it is a curse for that country, and it would have been better off leaving its natural resources in the ground.
In 2015, the boss of an American company decided to pay every employee a minimum wage of $70,000, and cut his salary from $1.1M to $70,000.
Some people said he was mad, and it would never work. Others thought it was a fantastic decision.
In today's episode we tell the story of this company, and find out how it is doing 5 years later.
People in Britain have a unique sense of humour.
For lots of foreigners it's difficult to understand and confusing. But British people are fiercely proud of their sense of humour, and the UK has produced some of the world's best comedies.
In this episode we take a look at what makes Brits laugh, and tell a few jokes along the way.
In 1851, in London's Hyde Park, an immense glass structure towered above the trees.
Inside was an exhibition of the latest technologies, available for all to see.
It was so impressive that 1/3 of the British population came to see it, and Queen Victoria even visited 41 times.
In this episode, we tell the story of The Great Exhibition, and the mark it left on Britain, and the world.
It has revolutionised our lives, made cars lighter, food fresher, and water safer.
But at what cost?
In this episode we take a look at the history of plastic, and ask ourselves what comes next.
Margaret Thatcher was the Prime Minister of the UK during the 1980s, and left a lasting impact on the country.
She was "perhaps the most admired, hated, fascinating, boring, radical and conservative leader in the Western world."
In this episode we talk about what she did, what it meant, and why she divided opinion so much.
It's one of the most isolated countries in the world, ruled by an authoritarian leader with a passion for horses and Guinness World Records.
It's time to find out about the weird and wonderful country of Turkmenistan.
From evil spirits to the Roman army, we look at the influences that have shaped the English language.
We'll discuss some of the weirdest ones, bust some myths about the origins of words, and talk about the mystery of where words come from.
It's one of the most famous department stores in the world, catering to the world's rich and famous.
But it hasn't always been this way.
In this episode we take a look at the story of Harrods, and discover the fascinating and unusual history of this iconic London location.
It's the internet's 'dark' side, where people go to do things that they don't want other people to know about.
In this episode we take a look into the hidden part of the internet, and discuss how it works, what you can do there, and whether it is really as bad as the media make it out to be.
It's a collection of the biggest, fastest, and weirdest things in the world.
But how much do you really know about The Guinness World Records?
Today we look at the story behind the book, and discover how an argument about a bird turned into one of the best selling books in the world.
It is Britain's best known family, and its head has one of the most recognisable faces in the world.
But how much do we really know about Britain's Royal Family?
In this episode we ask ourselves what Brits really think of The Queen and The Royal Family, and what the future might hold for them.
A quick announcement of some exciting developments at Leonardo English.
New memberships, request an episode, and exclusive Q&A sessions for members.
You recognise the name. You recognise the label.
You've seen it on bananas, chocolate, coffee, and all over thousands of everyday products.
But how much do you really know about Fairtrade?
In today's episode we take a look at how it really works, who benefits, and why some companies are starting up alternatives to Fairtrade.
The Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 infected 1/3 of the world's population, and it's estimated that it killed up to 100 million people.
In today's episode we take a look at what really happened, how it spread so quickly, and what countries did to contain it.
It's one of the most powerful television channels in the United States, the current US president’s preferred news channel, and referred to by some as 'state TV'.
In today's episode we take a look at Fox News: who watches it, how it really makes money, and what event could cause its downfall.
From sharia law to public executions, The Taliban ruled Afghanistan with a iron fist.
In this episode we look at the origins of this group, what life was like under its rule, how it has managed to survive so long, and what the future might have in store.
In the early hours of November 5th, 1605, a man was found in a cellar under The Houses of Parliament. He was moments away from blowing everything up, killing the King, and changing the course of British history forever.
Today we tell the story of Guy Fawkes, and how we went from religious terrorist to anti-establishment icon.
The Enigma machine, used by the Nazis in World War II, had 158,962,555,217,826,360,000 possible combinations, and was thought by many to be impossible to crack.
In this episode we tell the story of the man who cracked the code, and his tragic end.
In Holland in the 1600s the price of tulips rose so much that a single bulb reportedly cost more than a townhouse on Amsterdam's grand canal.
In this episode we look at the real story behind one of the greatest bubbles in history.
The passport sales industry is booming, and is worth around $1 billion a year.
In today's episode we take a look at how it all works, how much it all costs, and the people and countries that make it all possible.
In 1963 a criminal gang managed to stop a Royal Mail train, steal £2 million pounds in cash (£55 million in today's money), and escape.
It took them just 15 minutes.
Today we tell the story of this infamous robbery, and the hunt to find the men who did it.
It's the day of the year where people, newspapers, TV shows, and companies play practical jokes on the public.
Today we take a look at some of the best April Fool's Day jokes in history, and talk about what happens when they go wrong.
Every self-respecting English learner wants to improve their English pronunciation.
But how to actually do it isn't so clear.
Today we talk about the truth about pronunciation in English.
In 1755, Samuel Johnson published an English dictionary that has gone down in history.
Not only was it the first of its kind, it was full of funny jokes.
Today we tell the story of this fantastic dictionary.
George Orwell, author of books like Animal Farm and 1984, is considered to be one of the finest writers in English.
Today, we discuss his six rules on how to write effectively.
300 years ago, London experienced a gin craze of epic scale, with the average Londoner drinking 10 times the amount of gin that the world's biggest gin drinking country does now.
Today, it's time to learn about how gin almost destroyed London.
"We are here not because we are law-breakers, we are here in our efforts to become law-makers"
Hunger strikes, chaining yourself to railings, and being killed by the King's horse.
It's time to tell the story of The Suffragette movement in Britain, and how women got the right to vote.
After water and air, it's the most used natural resource in the world. But are we really running out of it?
If so, why? And what happens if we do?
Vocabulary is the building blocks with which language is formed. But there are a lot of myths around the best way to learn vocabulary.
Today we'll bust some of the most common myths, talk about some techniques you can use to build your vocabulary, and about the joy of pointless words.
It's the most populous bird in the world, outnumbering humans 3:1.
Today we are asking ourselves how an obscure bird from South East Asia went from jungle floor to being eaten at a rate of two every millisecond.
What would happen if the government just gave everyone money?
That's the idea of Universal Basic Income, and it's an idea that has supporters from all across the political spectrum.
Today we're going to take a look at how it works, why people love it, why people hate it, and what happens when you just give people money without asking for anything in return.
His 36-year rule saw England break ties with the Catholic church and two of his six wives lose their heads.
Today we're taking a look at Henry VIII of England, and his unfortunate wives.
Today it's time to take a look at how World War One is remembered through poetry.
We look at the words of the young men, and how public feeling towards the war changed over its four-year course.
And of course, we look at some of the most iconic and moving poems written during the period.
It's the most visited website in the world, with 80,000 searches per second.
But have you ever actually wondered how it really works?
In 1888 a serial killer terrorised the streets of London's East End, brutally murdering women.
Over 2,000 people were questioned, but the killer's true identity has never been revealed.
Today it's time to tell the story of Jack The Ripper.
You might know nothing about it. But it certainly does (or could do) know a huge amount about you.
Let's take a look at this incredibly powerful company that can see into everything we do.
A very different episode to normal.
Today it's time to ask for your help...
Curious? It's only 9 minutes long.
The media might portray it as just a failed state run by a mad dictator, but today we'll find out that it might be just a little bit more complicated than things seem.
Why do so many jobs seem quite so pointless?
Today we're taking a look at the phenomenon of the bullsh*t job, and its effect on us individually and as a society.
Confused about the difference between Great Britain and The United Kingdom, and always wondered when to call someone British instead of English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish?
Let's clear it up, and explain how we got to this, admittedly, pretty complicated situation.
It's time for Part 2 of our most common mistakes people make when learning English.
Learn about why you shouldn't worry about grammar, why 'survival' listening isn't the answer, why you don't need to go to an English-speaking country to learn English, and how to set yourself effective goals and not get disheartened.
From how to get over the fear of opening your mouth to why you shouldn't speak too fast, we go into some of the most common mistakes English learners make, and how to avoid them.
Have you always wondered how to properly use a dictionary to learn English?
Here are our top tips for how to use a dictionary to help you remember words and become a more effective English learner
The fake meat industry is booming.
Today we take a look at why that is, and ask ourselves whether there will ever be a day that 'real' meat vanishes from our dinner tables altogether.
Today we are taking a look at conspiracy theories.
Why people believe them, why they can be so seductive, and the damage that they can do.
We'll also take a look at three of the wackiest ones out there - from why people believe Disney made Frozen to why people think the dinosaurs built the pyramids.
You've probably heard of carbon offsetting, and heard people praise it as one potential tool in the fight against climate change.
But how much do you really know about it?
In today's podcast we go into how it really works, why people love it, why others hate it, and discuss whether it's a positive or a negative force in the fight to prevent global warming.
It was called "Britain's biggest contribution to gastronomy" by the Wall Street Journal.
Today, in part 4 of our mini-series on British food, we're looking at the sandwich, the story behind it, why it is so important for people in Britain, and how it reached such an iconic status.
The English Breakfast is a truly British institution, and its history goes back 700 years.
In today's episode we go into the story behind the meal, and reveal how it went from favourite of lords and ladies to the way the working classes started the day.
It's a British classic, but how much do you really know about it?
Today we are diving into the fascinating history of fish and chips, and we'll discover that it might be not quite so British as you might think.
Part 1 of our 4-part mini-series on British food. First up it's the oyster.
It's not something that people normally associate with British food, but this little creature was hugely important in British cuisine.
In this podcast we'll learn about how it went from the choice of emperors to food of the poor, hear about how one man (supposedly) ate 1,200 in a single sitting, about a time when the average Londoner used to eat 1 oyster a day, and when they used to be given away for free outside pubs.
Why is the news always full of disasters?
What would the world be like if it wasn't?
In today's episode we take a look at some of the theories about why the news is always so negative, and imagine what kind of world might exist if it wasn't.
Why are babies so good at language learning, and what can we learn from them to make us better English students?
Today we take a look at 5 qualities that babies have that we should all incorporate into our language learning.
Have you ever wondered why January 1st is the start of the new year?
In today's episode we'll discuss the history of new year, talk about the longest year ever (it had 445 days), and you'll find out why new year is celebrated on January 1st, and not on any of the other 364 days of the year.
Today we're going to talk about a sea that disappeared, and find out what happens when a country tries to start a hub for cotton farming in the middle of a desert.
Spoiler alert: it doesn't go well.
Today we take a look at the book that is fundamental to our modern understanding of what makes Christmas, Christmas.
No, it's not the Bible. It was written in Victorian London, and tells the story of an old miser who discovers the Christmas spirit.
Today we take a look at three of the most successful advertising slogans of all time.
We'll explain how they work, why they work, and we'll go through any clever twists on language that they use.
We humans do a pretty good job of dividing up ownership of the world.
But what about beyond that?
Who owns space? Who decides who owns that, and why does it matter?
Part 2 of our 3-part series on who owns the sea, sky and stars.
Ever wondered who actually owns the sky?
Today we'll discuss who owns it, why it's still not clear who does own most of it, and why that doesn't actually really matter.
Part 1 of our 3-part series of who owns the sea, sky and space.
Every wondered who actually owns the sea?
Learn about who actually owns 2/3 of the surface area of the world, why countries want to claim ownership of rocks in the middle of nowhere, and why this matters.
Ever wondered how the Russian oligarchs actually managed to get so rich?
Today we're going to be taking a look at how 22 men managed to gain control of 39% of Russia's entire economy, while the the rest of the country suffered.
You can then decide whether you agree with Putin, who in 2019 said "We do not have oligarchs in Russia anymore".
How do other countries win the political game without force?
Why is language such a fantastic tool to project power across the world? What is Donald Trump doing for US interests outside the US?
Learn about how soft power is a vital tool in the global diplomatic toolbox.
Ever wondered how you can use podcasts to learn English?
This episode explains why listening to podcasts is the serious English learner's secret weapon, how it is 10x more effective than watching videos on YouTube or Netflix, and why you should start doing it today.
We'll explain some of the best techniques to maximise your learning, and give you an actionable plan on what steps you can take today to use podcasts to improve your English speaking, listening, reading and writing.
From a Korean yoga expert to a wooden pistol, we take a look at the most ingenious ways in which people have escaped their captors.
Ever wondered if there are places in the world where planes can't fly?
From mountainous regions to hostile states, from theme parks to ancient temples, it's time to find out where planes can and can't fly.
Wondering what the English Learning for Curious Minds podcast is all about, who is behind it, and whether it's for you?
Well, this should clear things up. In today's inaugural episode, we'll cover who should be listening to the podcast (hint - if you want to improve your English and learn interesting things about the way the world works, this is you), who is behind the podcast (an English avid language learner), and talk about some of the quick things you can do to get the most out of the podcast.