Episode 14

Rob and Adam see what you have to say about politeness, and Emily and Carolina discuss a certain boy...


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Adam and Rob

Both: Hello!

Adam: I’m Adam.

Rob: And I’m Rob.

Adam: And welcome to episode 14 of the Learn English Elementary Podcast.

Rob: In a few minutes we’ll be hearing the latest news from Carolina and her friends – Carolina and Emily are at the seaside today.

Adam: But first, as usual, let’s take a look at some of your comments from the last podcast. We asked you to tell us what you think about British politeness. Are British people really very polite? And how about people in your country? Are they polite or not?

Rob: You know, one of the things we love about reading your comments is seeing answers from so many different countries and this time we had answers from all over the world: Madagascar, Colombia, Georgia, Djibouti, Nepal, Vietnam… It’s always really interesting to hear so many different opinions.

Adam: And we were surprised to hear how many of you do think that British people are very polite. Negrota in Colombia, Angelo in Italy, Sakine in Turkey and Zineb Zineb in Algeria – to name but a few – all said that it’s true that British people are really polite. Were you surprised by that, Rob?

Rob: You know I was, yes, and another interesting thing I noticed was that several of you said that young people in your country are not as polite as they were in the past. Osmide in Spain said “Nowadays young people are impolite, and they almost never say ‘thanks’ or ‘sorry’.” And Awatefromdhani in Tunisia says “Personally, I think people are no longer as polite as in the old days” and it’s the same story in Vietnam.

Adam: Wywy in Egypt makes an interesting point. She says “I think Egyptians in the past were more polite than now but I’ve noticed that some of us have become more polite after the 25th of January revolution”. That’s an interesting idea, don’t you think?

Rob: It is. We did hear too about polite people in different countries. “Malagasy people are very polite and respectful” says Tianakely and tankamani tells us that the culture of politeness in Nepal is similar to that in Britain – namaste!

Adam: But I think we need to give the last word to two comments. Sirinel in Algeria says “I think it’s not fair to judge any country for being rude or polite. It depends on the people themselves”.

Rob: And Felix in Spain says: I don't believe in stereotypes. There are polite people from everywhere. We must not believe in stereotypes because normally they aren't totally true.

Adam: You know, Sirinel and Felix, I agree with you. I’ve met very polite people in every country I’ve ever visited – and some not so polite people!

Rob: Thanks for all your great comments, please do keep sending them. I’ll remind you of the address. You can write to us at www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish.

Adam: Now, time again to listen to Carolina. If you’re new to the podcast, I’ll tell you that Carolina is from Venezuela, but she’s studying at Newcastle University in the north-east of England. Last time we listened, Carolina went to the cinema with her boyfriend, Jamie, her friend Emily and Jamie’s friend Cameron. And Emily is quite… interested in Cameron. Let’s see what happens this time.


Carolina: Brrr. It's cold.

Emily: That's the sea air Carolina. It's good! It clears your head. You work too hard. You need to relax sometimes.

Carolina: I know. But… brrrrrr. But it is beautiful here. It's nice to see the sea. Ha! 'see the sea'. I like that.

Emily: My grandfather used to sing a song. I can't remember it all, but it was "And what did we see? We saw the sea."

Carolina: "And what did we see? We saw the sea". What a silly song. I'm going to find it on the internet when we get home.

Emily: Yeah. Perhaps Jamie and Cameron's band could play it. A cover version.

Carolina: Talking of Cameron…

Emily: Yes?

Carolina: You know. Do you like him?

Emily: Well, I don't not like him, if you know what I mean. He's very attractive, and he's a singer – that's cool – and he works in a bookshop, he likes books, he likes science fiction…

Carolina: But?

Emily: Well, that laugh! He's got the most awful laugh I've ever heard.

Carolina: Oh dear. I know. But he seems like a nice guy, and he is attractive and he likes you. Just don't tell him any jokes.

Emily: Actually, he sent me a friend request on Facebook yesterday.

Carolina: Did he? No!

Emily: Calm down. It was just a friend request. Like 'friend'.

Carolina: Oh no, he likes you. 'Friend' doesn't mean 'friend'. That's it. So did you accept?

Emily: 'Friend' means 'friend'. And I accepted.

Carolina: Yippee!

Emily: Stop it. I think he's a nice guy – it's no big deal. Look at that ship. Isn't it beautiful? I wonder where it's going.

Carolina: Why don't you phone him?

Emily: I'm not going to phone him. Stop it. Now.

Carolina: Hello Jamie. We're at the coast, having a walk. Really! That's great! She's here. With me. Wait a minute. Emily, Cameron has asked Jamie for your phone number. Emily! Can Jamie give Cameron your phone number? I'll call you back Jamie.

Emily: Eeeek!

Carolina: Ha ha! Told you so. "Friend means friend". I don't think so. Not now.

Emily: Stop it. You're making me nervous.

Carolina: There's nothing to be nervous about. Just give the guy your phone number! Emily! You're always saying that your love life is a disaster. This guy likes you, you like him. Give him your phone number!

Emily: OK.

Carolina: I’ll tell Jamie to give it to him.

Emily: OK.

Carolina: Phew. That was hard work. Listen!

Emily: What?

Carolina: I can hear Cameron.

Emily: What are you talking about?

Carolina: See?

Emily: You're terrible! 

Adam and Rob

Rob: That’s a bit unfair to say that Cameron’s laugh sounds like a foghorn. He does have a slightly strange laugh but it’s not that bad.

Adam: No… Anyway, so now Cameron has Emily’s phone number. And they’re friends on Facebook. Are you on Facebook Rob?

Rob: I am actually.

Adam: Got many Facebook friends?

Rob: No, unfortunately.

Adam: And what do you think about what Carolina said about social networking – ‘friend doesn’t mean ‘friend’’? Are your friends on Facebook people you know in real life?

Rob: No, not all of them. Actually, some of them I’ve only met once. That’s something I’m not sure I like about Facebook.

Adam: I’m not on Facebook, so I sort of have the opposite problem. I don’t have anyone following me that I don’t know, but sometimes it’s a bit hard to keep in touch with everyone I want to keep in touch with.

Rob: I see. What about you, listeners? Do you have lots of online friends? And do you know all of those friends in real life? Is online friendship different from real life?

Adam: We’d love to hear what you think. Why not write and tell us at www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish and if you’re on Facebook, remember to look for Tess and Ravi there. They sometimes answer your questions there, so watch out for that.

Rob: Now, did you hear Emily sing a little song today? Listen again. Emily: My grandfather used to sing a song – I can't remember it all, but it was "And what did we see? We saw the sea." Carolina: "And what did we see? We saw the sea".

Adam: ‘What did we see? We saw the sea’ ‘See’ the verb and ‘sea’ – the big area of water, sound exactly the same: they are homophones. Two words that have different spellings and different meanings but sound exactly the same are homophones and there are lots of them in English.

Rob: ‘Sun’ – in the sky – and ‘son’ – a boy – they’re homophones for example – piece and peace, week and weak – but of course they sound exactly the same so you need to see them in writing to understand better or understand the context. So you’ll find some activities on the website to tell you more about homophones.

Adam: You’ll also find an exercise on some of the strange noises we make in English. Listen to this:

Carolina: Brrr. It’s cold.

Adam: Carolina said ‘Brrr – it’s cold’. ‘Brrr’ is a noise we make when we’re cold. And there are other noises – do you know what these noises mean?

Rob: Hmmm.

Adam: Ow!

Rob: Oops… Any ideas? Check the website to find out the answers. And that’s all we’ve got time for today.

Adam: We’re looking forward to hearing from you and we’ll be back next time with more from Tess and Ravi talking about a famous British city. Any ideas? See you next time.

Both: Bye! 

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

Task 4

Task 5

Task 6

(Note that this exercise is designed to work with most English accents – some words may sound different in other accents.)


Task 7

Task 8


Leave a comment below!

Do you have lots of online friends? And do you know all of those friends in real life? Is online friendship different from real life?

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Language level

B1 English level (intermediate)

Submitted by Aljumhy2020 on Fri, 10/12/2021 - 18:02


I have a lot of friends on facebook from a lot of countries.
I think this relationship is not like real life.
I don't know all these friends, but they follow what l send on my page on facebook.

Submitted by Mohammedalbassami on Tue, 07/09/2021 - 09:14

Good morning everyone Actually I use facebook application for post a news and travel details so I connect with new people for any comments or information. Usually people like makes new friends but me I don't like. Also depends in your target some people use it to make dating. However totally we can't trust people in internet more than real life.

Submitted by May Thida Su on Mon, 22/02/2021 - 11:59

HELLO!!! Yeah I have 8 or 10 online friends. They are very friendly and we are becoming close friends now even we've never seen once. I think online friends and the friends in real life are all friendly in different ways. I like all my friends who are in online or in real life.

Submitted by jmajo on Wed, 13/01/2021 - 16:36

I haven't got much online friends and I know them very well in the real life because I usually like to know them in real life first and then I make online contact to keep in touch when I or they're travelling and we can't see each other for a while. I don't think you can call someone friend if you don't know him in the real life, maybe that's more like a virtual friendship or something like that, you can't get to know well someone until you see it at least once in real life. Despite that I think you can start a relationship with people making online contact but I wouldn't call that a friendship. Thanks for the episode. Great site!

Submitted by Sajja on Tue, 05/01/2021 - 12:10

I haven't a lot of online friends and I don't know all of I have of them in the real . To be honest , there are many friends I know them in the real but I forgot who are they on internet. That's not my mistake why they make their accounts by fake name. It's impossible for me to remember all of them. You know what? I am not an active pearson on the social media in general . I have accounts on it to follow news and some of good and useful influencers not to make new relationships . I think often of friends on Facebook or anther social media apps not a real friends.

Submitted by Qoo on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 12:37

I don’t have any online friends. I’ve met all of my friends on Facebook. I don’t want to be a friend with someone who I’ve never met because I can’t trust him or her. After saying so, you may not believe this but I got married with someone who I knew online. In Japan online dating apps are very common now and some of my friends found the partner there. I’m one of them. I want to know if the situation is similar in Britain. Do people find their partner online?

Submitted by Mazoon AL.Ghssani on Wed, 07/10/2020 - 15:38

Hi I don't have an online friends and I think online relationship is not like the relations at in the real life because in the real life you know the friend more and you know how he or she character .

Submitted by Ahmed 99 on Sat, 12/09/2020 - 23:58

I have friends an online service not a lot like the famous but in real life, I only know half of them, and few of them know them real knowledge and the online friendships different from the real-life friendships in real life you know your friends well you can hang out with them and trust them but in online you know friends from anywhere in the world you can play with them and talk to but you can’t trust them as the real-life friend.

Submitted by Bruno2020 on Wed, 29/04/2020 - 22:07

What about you, listeners? Do you have lots of online friends? And do you know all of those friends in real life? Is online friendship different from real life? Well,I don't have a lot of friends on line but I have a few.I think I know all of them in real life,but I am not 100% sure. A friendship in real life is totally diferent from the virtual friendship,in real life,you have more a real contact.I don't think that an online friendship is a real friend.

Submitted by msoriano on Fri, 14/02/2020 - 18:30

Hi everyone! I don't have a lot of online friends because i don´t like social network; I dont like the virtual life, i prefer go out with my friends and talk face to face. In my opinion the social network is a good tool to keep in touch with friend who live away and it is a good media.
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Submitted by Sergey Sh on Wed, 02/10/2019 - 02:06

I don’t say I have lots of online friends and I’m not hooked on any social websites. Several ones of them I have, I don’t dedicate enough of time. It doesn’t mean I’m unsocial person. On the contrary I more tend to communicate with my friends in real life when you see a person you talk to with. I guess online friendship is different from real life. When you have friends from other countries or just from far away and it’s difficult to maintain communication, the only thing is left is to do it online. This is the best side of being online and the worst is when people are hooked on internet so they don’t almost go outside.
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Submitted by Last biker on Tue, 20/08/2019 - 08:56

Hi everyone, I'm not sure I've understood very well the meaning of this sentence: ''Well, I don't not like him, if you know what I mean.'' That "..don't not..". I appreciate if you'll help me giving a clue. Thank you so much

Hello Last biker

Emily means that she doesn't dislike Cameron, but that she's not sure that she really likes him either. It's as if 'not like' is a verb here; by putting 'don't' in front, it negates the already negative meaning of 'not like'.

Does that make sense?

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by kuchkarovamuhayyo on Mon, 15/07/2019 - 21:07

whose friend or partner in real life. Friendship on the Internet is very different from real life, because you cannot believe or share something with a stranger. Everything can be a fake from social networks. We should appreciate the people around us in real life. We have everything that needs to be excluded: I have never had a friend online. But, my girlfriend had many friends on the Internet. They’ve been on Skype for 4 years with each other, until then they sometimes talk and talk about work, life, study ... and motivate each other, even when I have never met him in real life. So interesting.
Profile picture for user Oksi1001

Submitted by Oksi1001 on Fri, 28/06/2019 - 12:35

Hi there! I think most of people have a lot more online friends than real life friends. Actually we understand that many of online friends are "Fake" friends. It can be just unfamiliar people, that you so once or twice a life. Also it can be your old friends from scool or university, old job and not always friends. There are a lot of sort of online friends.Very popular sale something online or provide services. As to me I'v got about 250 online friends and 40-50 friends-salespersons. Some people i'v meet in the internet and never seen their in real life.We have same interests, usally it's footboll fans of Barcelona. Other online friends i can put to the above categorys online friends. Of cource we have huge differnce between online friendship and real life.

Submitted by parisaach on Sat, 11/05/2019 - 06:17

I used to have many online friends. I was a member of a forum. A forum is a virtual place that many people write about different things it has different sections , each section is allocated to a subject for example art, science, etc. I was chatting with people on that forum about 3 years and I made friends with them . Moreover we connected to each other with yahoo messenger too. I met some of those forum members several times but I've never seen some of them. then the forum was filtered and simultaneously I started working and I stopped visiting that forum, so I gradually forget those people some of them had my number and called sometimes but after one or two years we were totally disconnected. I still remember those days .Those people were really important to me then, and I was thinking of them all the day but now I don't have any feeling to them. This is the life the people who are very important to you today maybe be strangers in future. Now I use Instagram, Telegram, whatsApp to connect to my friends or my familly I' m not interested in find a friend in virtual world anymore. I'd rather spend my time with real people in the real world

Submitted by Nancy Nguyen on Tue, 25/12/2018 - 14:14

Hello everyone, I don't have lots of online friends. I just only add the account whose is my friend or my partner in real life. The friendship on the internet is very different from real life because you can't believe or share anything with a stranger who you don't know in real life. Everything can be fake from social media. We should appreciate people around us in real life. But I still have an exception, I have had a friend on Skype for 4 years, until now, sometimes we talk and share about work, life, study...and motivate each other even when I have never met him in real life. So interesting. I think everything has advantages and disadvantages too.

Submitted by eldi on Wed, 05/12/2018 - 01:32

hello.. actually i am’t sure about uses of social media...but i think it depends on what we do and how we use it..for me when i feel nervous about it i do inactivate to my account..and go to take some fresh air and have fun

Submitted by eldi on Mon, 03/12/2018 - 22:27

Hi , i don’t know if i am getting better with lessons..but i feel like i can’t organize my time in learning .. so can you give me advice..like "how many hours should i take , and what should i focus in it ?"

Hello eldi,

I can't give you any really specific information because I don't know you well enough. I don't know how you learn, what your strengths and weaknesses are and how busy you are. In general, the more time, the better. However, motivation is important and spending too long doing something can mean that you get tired or bored. I think it's helpful to organise your time so that you study regularly, and to study in a place where you will not be disturbed. At the moment, for example, I'm learning German and I make sure that I have some time each day for study. During that time I turn off my phone and make sure that no emails or messages can interrupt me. If I feel tired then I stop.

We have a page with some tips and suggestions for learning English here.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by User_User on Thu, 29/11/2018 - 18:03

Hello About my social networking activities: I've thought it would be a good idea to communicate via facebook and later on skype. A few hours after I have filled in the form with my name, email and set my settings the access to facebook was prohibit. They believe that I'm not the person who is accessing their site. I haven't posted anything and I hadn't had any friends on facebook. I've just dowloaded two times a picture from me for my profile and searched the words 'British Council' several times. I was looking for Elementary Podcast. Meanwhile I've sent facebook a copy of my identity card and an explanation why my email address is real. It seems to me that they don't need me as a member. People have more than 2,000,000,000 profiles on facebook. I would prefer to use facebook with my real name but I may use it later with a fake name. Meanwhile I've enough to learn so I don't care about it now. Bye
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Submitted by Kostya B on Sun, 18/11/2018 - 19:46

I have very few friends in online none of them I met in real life, in the internet it is simpler to make friends and to communicate with people, but it's different experience than in real life.

Submitted by Shiiya on Mon, 07/05/2018 - 13:13

Hello folks, I have account on Facebook too , but I don´t use it so much and I just use to do a networking because nowadays you can´t avoid this kind of digital media , I do believe that on social media people have a lots of notorious and known not a really friends , in your entire life you can count your really friends just on finger of hands

Submitted by Hal55 on Wed, 11/04/2018 - 08:48

Hello, Everyone. I have an account on Facebook. but I don't update my page nowadays. I have so many friends on Facebook. Unfortunately, it's not like my real life. I don't have so many friends in my real life. but it's not disappointing for me.

Submitted by Muhammad Erad on Sun, 11/03/2018 - 09:15

Glad to have a platform like this. I want to know the difference between "Got" and "Became"? For example, we use "God became pleased" or sometimes we use "God got pleased". Which one is better or if one of them is incorrect then do educate me. Thank you.

Hi Muhammad Erad,

Both 'get' and 'become' have several uses. In this case, they both mean 'start to be' and you could also say 'was' here. In the sentence you ask about, I would probably use 'was', but 'became' is also correct. 'got' isn't very appropriate in more formal contexts, which this one seems to be.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by alberto bastos on Fri, 23/02/2018 - 21:10

Hi everbody! I have lot of online friends and i know great number of them. They are not different of real life because between them are my classmates, children, cousin, nephew, old colleagues of work , brothers, sisters,neighbor and i see normally. so then which i do not know in real life i think that opinion or think it is not most important that my real friends. Anyway thing is necessary in my life i am sheltering in my heart and unnecessary opinion i forget for always. Thanks.
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Submitted by Vadim V on Wed, 24/01/2018 - 16:53

One of my online friends became my girlfriend in real life. Like this :)