"We are doing Chapter 6: Hobbies, I like doing..." Robert Seatter has been an English teacher, an actor and a journalist. This poem takes us into part of an English lesson for adult learners.

Poems: English Lesson


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English Lesson

By Robert Seatter

Roberto is playful and wants to talk about sex in cars
and gear sticks. We lose ourselves in body parts:
engine, carburettor, vroom, vroom.

Carla likes cooking, the gnocchi
her grandmother taught her how to make – a whole day set
aside, potatoes in piles, all the family peeling.
Her fingers forgetful of typewriter keys.

Giancarlo bicycles twenty kilometres every Sunday
(we imagine his overfed thighs in lycra and laugh).
He lists all the cups he won when the weekend was just
one long white road, his podgy hands making circles,
his moustached mouth the whirring of spokes.

Gianni goes back to his village, kisses his seven
little sisters, loves checking his row of reddening tomatoes.
He wears different shoes, screwing his face up at
buckled black leather. No briefcase. No boss.

Francesca likes going to the mountains, the lakes, the sea –
wherever her friends have houses. We are all invited.
When you open the windows all the houses have
beautiful views, and there is panettone for breakfast.

Franco plays cards in the bar with his friends.
Same bar, same friends: every evening playing poker
at Vittorio's place. He counts the years on his fingers
as if he had never counted before.

Lucia says she cries all weekend, every weekend –
since Massimo left her. She sits in the flat and cries.
There is nothing else to do.

The silence pulls at her words, dangling cut-out and
foreign on the air, begging to be mistakable:
a disappearing trick against the classroom's white walls.

Then Roberto claps his hands. He meant to say
he likes practising English. We all groan.


With kind permission of the poet, previously published in Poetry as a Foreign Language, edited by Martin Bates, White Adder Press, 1999

Task 1

Decide if the statements are true or false.






It's very helpful matériel, I like reading the business books and watch the movies, can you advise me to speaking english easy.

Thank you very much for all

I would like to join Campaign series

Hello !
I'd like to know how to speak English naturally when I talk to someone.
I mean, where, when I have to pause .

Actually, I have some books such as English Pronunciation In use but it contains only 2 pages about what I told.

There are a lot of good materials in this site but that's too hard to me.. They talk really fast!!!
And also I wonder how do children can talk like that? So fast.. also have intonation ..!
I mean they even don't know grammar..! but they already communicate there ideas to others.

I think listening audio books for toddler is good for me..? (It is difficult to listen to broadcast even for kids.)

Could you give me some advice, please?

Hello Rachel Han,

There are no explicit rules which I can give you for when to pause, I'm afraid.  People pause for rhetorical effect, to signal a change of topic or to let a point sink in, or just because of signals they receive from their audience.  The best advice I can give you is to do what you are doing: listen to as many examples of natural speech as you can.  Remember that our audio materials have transcripts available on the page, so you can use these to help you practise.  After you have finished doing the exercises on the page, listen again and try to read the transcript aloud while you listen, going at the same speed as the speaker and pausing at the same time.  This will help you to get a feel for the rhythm of the language and to develop natural delivery.

I hope that helps you.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your advice Peter.
I'm doing now as you said to me.
I hope to improve my speaking skills ! Thank you all!

Best wishes,


Hello everybody. This is a good stuff. I find these stories and poems as a good teaching material. I'm intending to use them in my classroom. I'm grateful....

Hello British Council Team
Thank you for your helps to us. wish health and success

is cool everthing the postcads in fact all, so I want listen, listen. it is very educational. well I am surprised with this much material and the grammar is cool :D

Thanks, Gabriel123!
Glad you like our materials - it's really good to know we're helping you!
Enjoy your stay on the site,
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team