Episode 14

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?

Language level


Average: 3.9 (7 votes)
Profile picture for user Sergey Sh

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.
Profile picture for user Last biker

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