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Elementary Podcasts are suitable for learners with different levels of English. Here are some ways to make them easier (if you have a lower level of English) or more difficult (if you have a higher level of English). You can choose one or two of these suggestions - you don't have to do all of them!
Making it easier
- Read all the exercises before you listen to the podcast.
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- Read the transcript after you have listened to the podcast.
Making it harder
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Do you live in a country which has a king or queen? Did you have to learn the names of kings and queens in history at school? Are the names for family members more specific in your language than in English? And do tell us about your family!
Adam: Hello! Welcome to Episode 17 of the LearnEnglish Elementary Podcast. I’m Adam. Rob is on another business trip this week. I think I’m going to have to find a new presenter if he’s never here!
Today we’re going to hear from Tess & Ravi again and, as usual, they’ll be talking about something British - a famous British family - and I'm sure you've got a pretty good idea who that's going to be.
But first, let's talk about some of your comments on the last podcast. We're following the story of Carolina, a student from Venezuela who's studying in Newcastle in Britain. And in the last podcast Carolina had a very bad day - so we asked you to tell us about your experiences of being homesick and what you did to make yourself feel better. A lot of you felt very sorry for Carolina and talked about times when you feel (or felt) the same. And you had a lot of good advice for Carolina and other people in the same situation.
Elaheh, who is from Iran but studying in Germany, says she feels very homesick, especially when the weather is cold and rainy! But she can make herself feel better by listening to Persian music, watching Persian films or going to a Persian restaurant. I like Persian restaurants, too.
And our friend Umi, who has lived away from home since she was thirteen, has a lot of suggestions. For example, she says "explore a new place… visit some interesting places in your second home… go out if you feel a bit down". She also talks about how easy it is to keep in touch with your family and friends at home with modern technology, like mobile phones, Skype or sites like Facebook.
And Ahmed from Algeria says Carolina should talk to a friend - "ideally someone who's going through the same experience - she might feel better when she can cheer up someone else". That's good advice.
Some of you are feeling a bit nervous about going abroad in the future, like ewcielinka from Poland and D-life from Turkey. And the good news is that most of you said that feelings of sadness and being homesick don't last for ever. Aigerim from Kazakhstan says she cried a lot when she first left home, but she says "this world is not without kind people and they helped me".
And some of you told Carolina not to worry about her English. Julia from Hong Kong said "It's natural for you to have difficulty speaking English fluently." Julia told Carolina to remember that she can speak in English, but the rude man in the shop probably doesn't speak any Spanish at all.
And to really cheer Carolina up, both Johnny from Brazil and Manasset from Cameroon said how much they liked her voice and her Venezuelan accent.
A big thanks to everyone who wrote in with comments and suggestions. There might be a lot of people around the world feeling homesick and sad, and your messages can be a great help - so keep them coming at www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish or look for us on Facebook.
We'll be finding out how Carolina's getting on next time. But now it's time to hear from Tess and Ravi, talking about that famous British family.
Tess and Ravi
Ravi: Hello there, we’re back again to talk about the things you think you know about Britain. I’m Ravi.
Tess: And I’m Tess. And today’s topic from the things you chose is… the royal family. We’re going to tell you something about the Queen and her family – the British royal family. What could be more British than that?
Ravi: Let’s take turns, Tess. I’ll start with the Queen. Well, she’s Queen Elizabeth the Second and she’s been queen for a really long time, since 1952. Her father was King George VI and he died when she was 26, so she was quite young when she became Queen and she’s quite old now. She’s married to… Tess?
Tess: She’s married to Prince Philip. He’s five years older than her and he’s Greek; he was part of the Greek royal family. He’s also known as the Duke of Edinburgh and he’s also known for being quite… down to earth, he speaks his mind…
Ravi: OK, Tess, I know what you mean. The Queen and Prince Philip have got three children…
Ravi: Yes – four children. The oldest one is Princess Anne…
Tess: No she isn’t. Charles is the oldest.
Ravi: Is he? Are you sure?
Ravi: Really? OK then, Princess Anne is the second oldest…
Ravi: And she’s also called the Princess Royal. It’s tricky this when everyone seems to have two names. Members of the royal family usually have a title, like The Duke of Edinburgh or the Princess Royal. Anyway, Anne’s the second oldest…
Tess: And the Queen’s oldest child is Prince Charles. That means he’s the heir to the throne, the next one to be king, after the Queen. His title is the Prince of Wales, so Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, is the heir to the throne. He’s married to Camilla.
Ravi: What’s her title – Duchess of Cornwall, isn’t it?
Tess: That’s right.
Ravi: But everyone knows he used to be married to Princess Diana, who died in 1997. Now, Charles and Diana had two children.
Tess: Hang on! We said the Queen and Prince Philip had four children. We haven’t done all of them yet. The other two are Andrew and Edward.
Ravi: Oh yeah, that’s right. Prince Andrew – he’s the Duke of York – used to be married to Sarah Ferguson - and Prince Edward, he’s the… erm, Tess?
Tess: The Earl of Wessex. I looked it up.
Ravi: He’s the youngest of the Queen’s children. Anyway, as I said, Charles and Diana had two children, two boys, Prince William and Prince Harry. William’s the oldest, so he’ll be king after Prince Charles. Charles will be King Charles the Third and after that William will be King William the… Fifth, won’t he?
Tess: Yeah, William the Fifth. He’s second in line to the throne after his dad, Prince Charles.
Ravi: And he’s just got married to Kate Middleton. Right, I hope you’ve remembered all that - lots of names and titles! I think it’s important to say that the Queen isn’t in charge of the country; she doesn’t have any real political power. The Prime Minister is the most important person politically in the country but the Queen is important as a sort of symbol, don’t you think?
Tess: Yeah. I mean, you know, some people don’t think we should have a King or Queen but I think the royal family are quite popular, don’t you? People like them.
Ravi: Yeah, I agree. And I wouldn’t like to be a member of the royal family. They don’t get any privacy – cameras and journalists everywhere! It must be terrible.
Tess: Don’t worry Ravi. I don’t think you’ll ever be a prince.
Ravi: You never know, Tess, I might meet a princess.
Tess: Yes, Ravi.
It isn't easy to explain all the names and titles for the British Royal family, especially when everyone has two names. At school, it was hard to remember the names of the kings and queens, because so many have the same name! There are 8 Henrys, for example, and you have to remember the number. And to make it worse, you write the number with old Roman numbers, so I is one and V is five – so Henry VIII is actually Henry the Eighth!
Did any of you have to learn kings and queens at school? And how many of you live in countries which still have kings and queens? Write, and let us know.
Another thing is I noticed when I was listening to Tess and Ravi is how difficult it can be to describe your family in English - how people are related to you and to each other, who's the oldest and who's the youngest. It can be especially complicated when people get divorced and then get married again. For example, one of my friends has two mothers, two fathers, and three brothers. His parents got divorced and then they both remarried. So now he has a mother, a father, a stepmother, a stepfather, a brother, and two stepbrothers! That’s complicated!
I know in some languages, all the family relationships are very clear. In some Asian languages, you have different words for your uncle on your mother's side and on your father's side, as well as different words for older and younger brothers, sisters, and cousins, but in English, you have to explain everything! Is that true in your language?
There are some exercises on the website to help you with the vocabulary and grammar that you need to talk about families. We've got some exercises to practice the different words for family relationships, and some to help you explain who is older and younger. There's even a puzzle to test your logic skills! And if you're as confused as Ravi about the British Royal family, don't worry. There are comprehension exercises to help you with that, too.
Don't forget you can do them online or download the pdf file and print them.
Remember to write and tell us about your families – or your Royal families. You know we really like getting to know more about you. The address is www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish. We always enjoy reading your messages.
And, unfortunately, that’s all we’ve got time for today. But we'll be back soon, with more news about Carolina. So see you next time. Bye!