Episode 01

LearnEnglish Podcasts is back! Join Adam, Tess, Ravi and a new presenter for Series 4 as they talk about pets and whether it's true that the British are crazy about animals. Please join us, and let us know what you think!


Jo and Adam – Welcome back!

Adam: Hello! I’m Adam and I’m happy to say ‘Welcome’ to Episode 1 of the new series of LearnEnglish Elementary Podcasts. Yes, that’s right – we’re back! With all your favourites, too – Tess and Ravi, Carolina and her friends – and, of course, more of your comments to share. But first, let me introduce you to someone. This is Jo.

Jo: Hello everyone!

Adam: Jo’s going to be helping me with this series of Elementary Podcasts. She’s an English teacher, like me, and together we’re going to talk to you about some of the language that you hear in the podcasts.

Jo: That’s right. And I’m quite excited about it! I’ve been reading all your comments from the last series, and I think I’m going to enjoy working with you all.

Adam: Great to have you here, Jo. Now, if you remember the last episode of Series 3, Carolina, Emily and Jamie visited a city farm and had fun making animal noises. And Emily told them that she’s going on a first date with Jamie’s friend Cameron. So we asked you what noises animals make in your country and, also, where you think Emily and Cameron should go for a first date. Let’s start with a few animal noises! And I hope I get the pronunciation of these right!

Tanya Klimova from Russia said ‘A dog barks “gaf-gaf”, the sheep bleats “beeee”, a pig says “hru-hru”.’

Jo: (laughs) That’s a funny one!

Adam: Chihirochan89 from Vietnam says ‘In my country, dogs usually say “go go”, goats say “be be”, cows say “muz muz”.’ And in Turkey, according to M Nur, ‘dogs say “hav hav”, donkeys say “ai ai”, and sheep say “meee meee” ’.

Jo: So dogs can say ‘woof woof’ or ‘gaf gaf’ or ‘hav hav’ – they’re all quite similar. But then in Vietnam they say ‘go go’ – that’s completely different. In Spain, where I live, they go ‘guau guau’.

Adam: ‘Guau, guau’! And where to go for a first date? Most of you said a restaurant or the cinema. Hassan from Egypt would choose a restaurant because you can’t talk in the cinema, but if you are shy you can always talk about the food in a restaurant. Fred09 from Brazil thinks a restaurant is ‘too fancy for a first date’ and would choose the cinema. Yenson from Venezuela went to the cinema for his first date with his wife, but unfortunately it was a horror film and she was so scared that she dropped her popcorn! But she married you, Yenson, so it wasn’t a complete disaster!

Jo: That’s a good story!

Adam: And a lot of you left comments about how much you like the podcasts and how much they help you with your English and how much you wanted to hear Series 4. It’s important for us to hear that you like what we’re doing, so thank you very much to everyone.

Now it’s time to hear from Tess and Ravi. If you’re new to Elementary Podcasts, let me explain that Tess and Ravi always talk about something that people think is typically British – like the Royal Family or drinking tea, or even the Loch Ness Monster. Let’s hear what it is this time.


Tess and Ravi

Tess: Hello again, everyone. My name's Tess.

Ravi: And I'm Ravi.

Tess: And, as usual, we're here to talk about Britain. The things that you know about it …

Ravi: … and the things you think you know. We've already talked about a lot of different topics – things that you think are typically British. And today we've got something nice. Tess, how's Oscar?

Tess: He's fine, thanks. Why?

Ravi: I'm introducing the topic, Tess. Pets.

Tess: Ahh. Very clever.

Ravi: Oscar is Tess's cat.

Tess: And a member of the family.

Ravi: Hmm ... A lot of people believe that the British are crazy about animals. We're often called 'a nation of pet lovers'. But is it true? To begin with – do we have more pets than anyone else? So I did a bit of research. And yes, a lot of people in Britain have pets – 49 per cent of British homes – that's nearly half – have an animal.

Tess: Is that a lot?

Ravi: That's nearly 30 million pets – cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, parrots – but not including fish! That's a lot of pets. But there are a lot of other places with as many pets as Britain, or even more ... the USA, New Zealand, some countries in Europe – 62 million homes in Europe have pets. Britain isn't that unusual.

Tess: And it depends what you count as a pet.

Ravi: Well, yes, that's true.

Tess: Cats and dogs are the most common pets in Britain, right?

Ravi: Well, actually, they now think that the most popular pets in Britain are ...?

Tess: Well, if it isn't dogs or cats … um … I don't know. Rabbits?

Ravi: Nope ... Give up? ... Reptiles. Snakes and lizards and iguanas and things. And insects – spiders are really popular now.

Tess: Yeuk. I'm not sure I could love a spider.

Ravi: Nor me.

Tess: Do you want to know something interesting?

Ravi: Erm, yes.

Tess: Well, Britain was the first country to have an organisation to look after animals. The RSPCA. That's the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It was started in the nineteenth century when things were bad for animals in Britain – for horses, dogs, all of them. So some people started the RSPCA. But – and this is the important thing – there were no organisations or charities at that time to protect children or babies or people at all. And life was really hard in the nineteenth century.

Ravi: Wow.

Tess: So people started to say that the British care about animals more than people.

Ravi: But don't you sometimes think it's true? That the British like animals more than people? We give more money to animal charities, like the RSPCA, than to charities for people. That's a fact. And there are lots of programmes about animals on television and stories in the newspapers.

Tess: I know. It's true. And do you know, people who ask for money on the street, well, if they have a dog with them, then they get more money.

Ravi: Ha! Is that true? Money for the dog, but not for the person?

Tess: Yep.

Ravi: So we are crazy about animals. It's true. You'll have to go home and tell Oscar.

Tess: I think he already knows.


Jo and Adam

Adam: Do you have any pets, Jo?

Jo: We’ve just got some goldfish. Have you got any pets, Adam?

Adam: No, I don’t. We had dogs when I was living with my parents, but not any more. I’d like to in the future, but I think it’s a lot of work to care for a dog properly.

Jo: Yeah, I live in the country now, so it’s fine to have some dogs around. But when I lived in a big city, the dogs used to annoy me a bit. I don’t think that big cities are good places for dogs to live.

Adam: What about where you live? Are people kind to animals? Do people keep pets? Write and tell us. The address is www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish. And now it’s time to talk about some of the language that you heard in the podcast.

Jo: That’s right. Today we're talking about ways of saying how things are the same or different. Listen to Ravi. What does he want to know?

Ravi: A lot of people believe that the British are crazy about animals. We’re often called ‘a nation of pet lovers’. But is it true? To begin with – do we have more pets than anyone else?

Jo: He’s asking about the number of pets the British have compared to other countries. Listen again. What’s the question?

Ravi: A lot of people believe that the British are crazy about animals. We’re often called ‘a nation of pet lovers’. But is it true? To begin with – do we have more pets than anyone else?

Jo: He said ‘Do we have more pets than anyone else?’ ‘More than’.

Adam: You can say ‘He's got more money than me’, or ‘I like London more than New York’.

Jo: Now listen to the next comparison. British people have a lot of pets ...

Ravi: But there are a lot of other places with as many pets as Britain.

Jo: ‘There are other places with as many pets as Britain’. ‘As many as’. Britain has a lot of pets – but other countries have the same number. We use ‘as many as’ when the thing we’re comparing is countable – pets. But we use ‘as much as’ when we’re comparing something uncountable.

Adam: For example ‘I want to have as much money as Bill Gates’ – I want the same money!

Jo: Now listen to the last way of comparing things.

Tess: Cats and dogs are the most common pets in Britain, right?

Ravi: Well, actually, they now think that the most popular pets in Britain are ...?

Jo: Yes – ‘the most common’, ‘the most popular’, ‘the most’. Cats are popular, dogs are popular, but reptiles are more popular than cats and dogs – so reptiles are the most popular pets in Britain.

Adam: There are exercises on the website to give you practice with this, and other things, too. And please send us your comments about animals in your country.

Jo: And about your pets.

Adam: We’ll read some of them out on the next podcast. See you then! Goodbye!

Jo: Bye!

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The abandoned pets on the streets is a very sad thing. That makes me think that people should not buy an animal, they should adopt it.

Submitted by Pello2 on Sun, 14/05/2017 - 08:42

Thanks a lot for your work. I like those podcasts and I think those are very useful. I hope, you´ll develop more this system. I would like to have option to speak and write something, sometimes with you. It would be great! Speaking about pets. I live in the Basque Country and here day a day I see more pets. I think mostly dogs and cats but I don´t know if it´s so. Why is the reason of this increase? I don´t know, but I´d say people are looking for more affectivity, more company and seems that the affective partner is more difficult, more problematic

Hello Pello,

Thanks for letting us know that you've enjoyed Elementary Podcasts. We are working on a fifth series, though it will be some months at the last before it's ready.

You're welcome to write texts and contribute them here. I'm afraid we don't provide the service of correcting texts, though we can answer a specific question about a specific sentence if you have one. Neither do we provide the service of speaking with our users, I'm afraid, but you might find some ideas on how to speak with others on our Facebook page.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by tiari on Fri, 28/04/2017 - 01:56

I don't have animals, but i find them interesting!! good night

Submitted by khinpapa naing on Wed, 26/04/2017 - 10:46

Hi, I am from Myanmar (Burma).I lives in Yangon which is city of Myanmar. I loves dog and cat as much as in my country people. I have a cat and she is very clever and lovely.In our country stray dog are many so people are afraid to become rabies. But most of people love dog than cat because they believe that dog is faithful to human.

Submitted by AbrahamG17 on Thu, 20/04/2017 - 23:39

very difficult. help me?

Hello AbrahamG17,

We have some pages at an easier level. You can find them in Part 2 of our Find out your English level page. Where it says 'Level', choose 'A1' or 'A2'.

I would suggest you try Starting Out and our Vocabulary Games to begin.

By the way, you must write in English on LearnEnglish, so that everyone can understand you.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by TatiNovik on Wed, 12/04/2017 - 08:30

Hi! In my country many people have a pets, the mostly dogs and cats. Last year our dog died after being bitten by a neighbor's dog. We are very grieved at this moment, since the dog was a family member. Now we have only a cat Cornish-Rex breed, he is bald and ugly , but very affectionate. I love fluffy and cute animals.

Submitted by Mydinh boy on Wed, 05/04/2017 - 09:55

The postcard is really interesting, and useful. I love it so much. Through the postcard I just know that British people love pet more than person and there used tobe have an organization to protect animals only in 19th century. This is quiet amazing.

Submitted by Fantasmadehielo on Sun, 26/03/2017 - 17:00

I love the animales like me very much. I have a dog and parrot. Also like me this podcast britishcouncil are the best.I love the voice of the girl of this podcast I love it so much it's beautiful. I send greetings from El Salvador

Submitted by ejossue on Fri, 24/03/2017 - 17:13

I love animals all kind of animals, and of course I have pets, actually I have four dogs, three of them are Labrador and the other one we don't know because we pick him up from street, he's smaller than the others, the baby. Here in Mexico many people have a pet, mostly dogs and cats, they are a good friend for people. Although many people look after them, others are not aware of the time and respect animals need and many people here just neglect or leave them on the street, many of them are mowed down, it's so sad but that happens a lot. It's fair to say that also many people over protect, treat and take care of their pets as a human being hehe, even some people treat pets better than humans. XD

Submitted by Funny Cicade on Sun, 19/03/2017 - 15:13

Hi! Tess and Ravi. I'm Daniel and I'm from Poland. I live on country near Kraków. In my opinion people are usually kind to animals but sometimes you can meet people who hate animals and that is strange for me. In my point of view a lot of people have pet. It's outstanding to have a pet. I have a dog and it's awesome to go out with him for a walk. Dogs are special becouse they can feel what you feel for example when you are sad your dog is sad too. You can always play with them and becouse of this aspect dogs are really delighted. My dogs name is Leo and he really likes to run and have fun outside. He likes eating sausage aswell. Thanks for your show. Now, I would say my english is better.

Submitted by Aniga12 on Sun, 05/03/2017 - 22:01

Hello, my name is Jamal, from Somalia and I live in Sweden, I have joined this website one week ago because of to improve my language and communicate better with people. It was a very interesting topic and it was easy to understand the topic

Submitted by MiguelSanchez0287 on Sun, 05/03/2017 - 19:05

Hi, my name is Miguel and I'm Spanish I'm living near Valencia which is the third city in Spain. Here the dogs says guau, guau, cats says miau, miau, sheep says beee,beee and the cows and bulls say muuuuuu

Submitted by saubo1 on Mon, 20/02/2017 - 06:48

Hello, i'm from Vietnam. that's right. it's very interesting that the sound of dogs in many country is different and then dogs in my country say in other meaning " go go" which is the way it protects itself.

Submitted by ghparak on Tue, 07/02/2017 - 22:15

Good morning My name is Ghader Parak . I'm from Iran. I'm newcomer in this site and happy to join here .This is my first podcast that I listend . and I really enjoyed .Thanks for all. By the way I like most of animals and pets too .

Submitted by ioannanioti on Thu, 19/01/2017 - 19:33

Hello, my name is Ioanna, I'm from Greece and I live in Athens. I love all animals but my great love are cats. These days I live with a mother cat and her daughter. I adore them and I a'm sure that they love me very much too. We spent a lot of time together and usually we have fun. Sometimes. of course, I wonder if my bed is actually mine or theirs, if me sofa is mine, if...,if...,if...So many if ,but so many happy moments of playing, of giving, of taking. I could write o lot for this amazing relationship but I think it's better stopping here.

Submitted by FRADJA on Mon, 09/01/2017 - 11:21

Sometimes I watch on TV some documentary about pets and animals, and I note that a lot of British people love pets who are treated very well, sometimes better than human in some poor countries. Most dogs who are treated well in my country are used to guarding, cats are more common than dogs. Some kinds of birds are really loved like carduelis bird canary bird.