Episode 01

LearnEnglish Podcasts is back! Some things are the same (Tess, Ravi and Carolina) and some things are new, for example the presenters. So whether you're new to LearnEnglish Podcasts or have been listening since Series 1, give it a try!


Rob and Adam – Welcome back!

Adam: Hello and welcome to the all new Learn English podcast from the British Council. My name’s Adam.

Rob: And I’m Rob. In just a moment you’ll hear from Tess and Ravi, but first I’ll tell you something about the new podcasts. We’ve changed the way we give the podcasts to you and there are two important things. Firstly, the podcasts are shorter, but there are more of them. We’re going to have a podcast every two weeks. Secondly, there are more ways for you to get in touch with us and we can answer your questions or your comments. If you have a question about English or about the podcast or about Tess and Ravi, then send it to us. Here’s how you can do it.

Adam: You can leave a comment on LearnEnglish at www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish. You can follow us on Facebook – look for Elementary podcasts. And you can follow Tess and Ravi on Twitter – they’re tessandravi. Ask us a question or tell us what you think and we can answer it in the next podcast.

Rob: Now, we’re new presenters, so where are Tess and Ravi? Well, we’ve given them something new to do. In this series of podcasts Tess and Ravi have a project and we hope they’ll help you learn.

Adam: Now, when you think about Britain, what do you think about? Do you think about big red buses? Cups of tea? Something else? We asked that question to hundreds of our listeners around the world – what do you think about when you think about Britain? And Tess and Ravi have the answers. They’re going to help you find out more about some of the most British things you can think of. So, let’s find out what the topic is this week.

Tess and Ravi

Ravi: Hi everyone, I’m Ravi.

Tess: And I’m Tess.

Ravi: And our job is to tell you about some of the things you think are typically British. In this series we’ll tell you about British weather, the Royal Family, British pets… lots of ‘typical’ British things. But today we’re going to tell you about a very famous British food – a dish that lots of people think is the typical British thing to eat. Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s fish and chips.

Tess: Mmm, nice. It’s true that lots of people think that fish and chips is what British people eat all the time. My Spanish friends really wanted to try fish and chips when they came to visit. So, OK then Ravi – tell us what you’ve learnt.

Ravi: Well, first of all, I’ll say a little bit about what fish and chips are – people don’t always know. It’s a piece of fish, covered in batter and deep fried.

Tess: Can you tell us what batter is?

Ravi: It’s a mixture of flour and water, usually. You cover the fish...

Tess: What kind of fish is it?

Ravi: Good question. It can be different kinds of fish but the most popular are cod and haddock – two fish that were very common in the sea around Britain.

Tess: Are they not so common now?

Ravi: No, they aren’t – but I’ll talk about that in a minute. So, you cover the fish in batter and then you deep fry it – that means you cook it in a deep pan of very hot oil, vegetable oil usually. You cook the chips the same way, you deep fry the potatoes in very hot oil.

Tess: And chips are chips, aren’t they? Americans call them ‘fries’ or ‘French fries’ but we call them chips.

Ravi: I think chips are sort of bigger and thicker than French fries but yes, you’re right. Anyway, you deep fry the fish and the chips, then you serve them with salt and vinegar.

Tess: Ugh, I hate vinegar.

Ravi: When I was a kid, fish and chips would always be served in newspaper. They wrapped your fish and chips up in a sheet of old newspaper, but they don’t do that any more. They use special paper, not newspaper.

Tess: Yeah, I remember the newspaper. But, you know what, I hardly ever eat fish and chips any more. All that oil and deep frying, it’s not very healthy, is it?

Ravi: It’s not, no. But once every now and then, Tess, it’s OK to eat unhealthy things, you know.

Tess: How often do you eat fish and chips, then?

Ravi: Well, I found some information about this. Nowadays, fifty per cent of British people say they eat fish and chips once a month and fourteen per cent say they eat them once a week. I’d say I’m about once a month.

Tess: I’d say about once a year, for me. Are the numbers of people eating fish and chips going down? As I say, it’s not very healthy and people are more concerned about healthy eating these days.

Ravi: People are more concerned about healthy eating but the British still eat a lot of fish and chips. There are more than ten thousand fish and chip shops in the country and they sold more than two hundred and fifty thousand meals last year. One thing is, having fish and chips is cheaper than going to a restaurant so sales are even going up when people haven’t got a lot of money to spend on restaurant meals.

Tess: What about the fish, though? You said there weren’t so many fish any more.

Ravi: That’s right. Cod, the most popular fish for making fish and chips, is not as common in the sea around Britain any more – numbers have really gone down. And if the numbers go down, the price goes up, so fish and chip shops now sell lots of other kinds of fish as well – but lots of people think they’re not as nice… Do you know, Tess, I could talk about this for hours – I’ve not even mentioned the history of fish and chips yet, but we’re running out of time. Shall we go and get some fish and chips?

Tess: OK, then, let’s go.

Rob and Adam

Adam: That talk about fish and chips earlier has made me really hungry. How often do you eat fish and chips?

Rob: As often as I can, but not as often as when I was young.

Adam: Mmm. Right, if you’ve listened to the LearnEnglish podcast before, you might remember Tom the Teacher. Tom talked about the English you heard in the podcast. Tom’s not around this time – he’s got a job teaching in China – but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about what you heard. Listen to this:

Ravi: So, you cover the fish in batter and then you deep fry it – that means you cook it in a deep pan of very hot oil – vegetable oil usually. You cook the chips the same way – you deep fry the potatoes in very hot oil.

Rob: Ravi talked about how to cook fish and chips. He said you ‘cover the fish in batter’ and you ‘deep fry it’. Frying is a way of cooking something in oil – olive oil, vegetable oil or another kind of oil. What other ways of cooking are there?

Adam: Well, you can boil things – vegetables usually – in hot water. Errr… You can grill things. Umm… and you can bake things, in an oven. And how about the language of preparing food?

Rob: You can chop meat or vegetables, slice things, erm... grate things like cheese. We’ll put a list on the website for you. And you’ll find some other activities to help you learn and a transcript of what Tess and Ravi said.

Adam: I’ll tell you what would be great though. Ravi told you how to cook fish and chips – the instructions on how to cook something are a recipe – and it would be great to hear some recipes from you. If you send them to us we can put them on LearnEnglish and on Tess and Ravi’s Facebook page. Remember the ways you can get in touch with us?

Rob: On LearnEnglish, that’s www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish. On Twitter - TessandRavi – or on Facebook – we’re Elementary podcasts on Facebook. Just time now to look at a couple of comments from LearnEnglish and the Facebook page. Khalid Al Busaidi said ‘I miss Tess and Ravi so much’ – well, I hope you’re happy you’ve got them back, Khalid – and lots of you saying you want to improve your English – Jinhee, Manjit, Abner – lots of you. Well, we’re here to help and I hope we’ll speak to you next week – we’d love to hear from you. That’s all for now.

Both: Bye!

Check your understanding

What can you remember about Tess and Ravi's conversation?


Task 1

Can you remember what Ravi said about making fish and chips?


Task 2

Practise words that describe ways of cooking, ways of preparing food or things you use when cooking.


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Language level

Submitted by Jenny liu on Wed, 28/06/2017 - 11:23

Except fish and chips what kind of food was more popular in the UK ? CURRY or roast beef Could you tell me please .

Hello Jenny,

I'm afraid I just don't know the answer to this question. The UK is a very diverse place, and different people around the UK have such different habits that it's difficult to generalise. Curry is certainly very popular and roast beef is a more traditional dish which is also very popular.

Sorry, but I hope this helps you!

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jenny liu on Tue, 27/06/2017 - 07:36

Now fish and chips more experience than others food .sone fish and chips shop charge around 10 pounds per person . That true because I cone back to London last years for holidays.

Submitted by maged hussien … on Sat, 24/06/2017 - 03:34

ahh okay ,, let's talk about a traditional food in Egypt the dish called " Kosry " and the recipe to cook it we need to get some rice and some lentils , onions then we going to chop the onions into slice like rings then fried it in hot oil , then we going to boil the rise in hot water will be better to put some salt and butter to the water while we boiled the rice will be more tasty , then we going to boil the lentils also in hot water with some salt and then after the both of rice and lentils was boiled we going to mix both of them and then but the ring fried onions on the surface of the dish and then we served by tomato hope all enjoy the dish , bon apetit . i hope to know my level as i write this recipe of this dish thanks for the people who worked in this site .

Hi Maged,

That sounds delicious! I think in English it's usually called 'koshary' and I think I'll have to try cooking it someday.

We don't assess users' levels on the site as to do that we would need to do an individual test and interview, which is not possible for the hundreds of thousands of users we have. We do have an online test you can take which will give you a rough orientation as to your level. You can find it here. You can then search for materials at or around your level.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by meeraach on Sun, 07/05/2017 - 07:14

Hi my friends,i want to give you recipe of tas kabab,this is one of iranian traditional foods for cooking this food,in a big pot we put a layer of onion rings in floor,then we fill the pot with layer of lamb meat,tomato, carrot and potato rings and put a few prunes in pot ,then boil this materials in water,finally we serve it with bread and fresh vegetable,it is really delicious food

Submitted by LKA on Sat, 06/05/2017 - 15:38

Let me intruduce a Vietnamese dish. Its Vietnamese name is goi cuon but i dont know its international name (^^). We prepare a lot of things such as meat, shrimps, cucumbers, salads, lettuces, basils, shallots, soft noodles, ... and girdle cakes. We boil meat and shrimps. Then we slice meat and make shrimps be without peels. Beside we slice cucumbers. Afterall, we wrap some slices of meat, some shrimps, some slices of cucumber, some vegatables and a little soft noodles in a girdle cake. It means we made one goi cuon. We must eat it and sauces. Huhm so yummy!!!
Hi LKA, as I know, "goi cuon" is Vietnamese fresh spring roll, it's one of the most popular appetizers in Vietnamese food culture. So yummy yummy!

Submitted by Piotr17 on Mon, 03/04/2017 - 22:06

Hi, I am Piotr. I am thirty seven years old. I am from Poland and I started learning English about six month ago. My English is not good. Sorry for my mistake when I write it. I have stared learned English when I was on university in Poland but it was fifteen years ago. Now I have started learn English once again because I have forgot this language. The Elementary Podcast for my is very useful when I study English. I like fish and chips very much. In Poland fish and chips is very popular meal.

Hi Piotr17,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! Please visit, if you haven't already, our section for new members: Getting Started. You'll find tips there on how best to use the site and the resources here. You should also take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page, which has suggestions and advice on particular aspects of English (improving speaking, listening, vocabulary etc.).


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by babkinevgeny on Sat, 01/04/2017 - 12:39

Hi guys. This is my first message :) I want to tell you about shaverma. This dish came to Russia from countries of the Middle Asia and Caucasus. It have different names in different countries, for example in Europe it names like donar-kebab or just kebab. And even different districts of Russia names this dish differently (in Moscow it names shaurma, in St. Petersburg - shaverma). Shaverma is a junk food, but it's very tasty and not expensive. Shaverma is a mixture of chopped vegatables like tomatoes, cucambers, onion and grilled meat like chicken, pork and so on. All these ingridients wrappes in lavash and pours sauce which usually maiden from sour cream and different spices. If you want to know more about shaverma you can watch youtube-show by Khovansky which names "shaverma patrol" :)

Submitted by dianthus on Thu, 30/03/2017 - 08:27

"Are the numbers of people" expression is used in the text. As far as I know , this expression must be "Is the number of people". I'm confused. Please can you inform me on this subject.

Hello dianthus,

Both 'the number of people' and 'the numbers of people' are used in English. I think the first of these is more common, which is probably why you are more famiiar with it, but both are used and have very similar meaning. I think the plural tends to be used when there are multiple figures involved, such as a dataset which covers a period of time, or a statistic which changes over time.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ihsan69 on Mon, 20/03/2017 - 09:12

Hi my friends. I am a new English language learner and this is the first message that I leave for yours. we have a food, It's name is Warjali a mixture of rice, leaves of peas, garlic, and other eatable saag. the leaves of different saag are cut into small pieces and then put into the rice for boiling together with oil plus water. after cooking it is eaten with milk and cow's oil which is a delicious food.

Submitted by behzad81 on Sat, 18/03/2017 - 08:49

Hi my friends. I am a new English language learner and this is the first message that I leave for yours. In my country we have many traditional foods. For example we have a food that it's name is Ab Goosht. In this food we boil lamb meet , potato , tomato , pea and onion. It is a delitious food for Iranian people.

Submitted by dianthus on Wed, 15/03/2017 - 08:01

hello everyone, ı want to tell you about very famous Turkish food which called stuffed grape leaves. Firstly, you chop up onion and put it in a pan which is add vegetable oil priorly. Then fry the onions until pink in colour and add rice that was washed, black pepper, salt. After that you fry all things together and pour in water. You cook this mix until drain all water which you add. To assemble the dolmades, lay a grape leaf on a work surface. Put 2 dessertspoons of the rice filling near the stem end of the grape leaf. Fold the stem end over the filling, then fold both sides toward the middle, and roll up into a cigar. Repeat with remaining grape leaves and filling. Then put all stuffing in a saucepan and add upon lemon slices. Pour olive oil and water. Then cover the saucepan lid and cook it lower heat during 30-40 minutes.

Submitted by zeeshan islam on Sun, 12/03/2017 - 16:18

i want to improve my English grammer .. can you suggest me how i can improve my english

Hello zeeshan,

We have a section on this question precisely because, of course, we are often asked this.

You can find our Getting Started section here. You'll find information about the site, how to use it and some tips there.

Make sure you also take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions page. You'll find advice there on specific aspects of English, such as reading, grammar, vocabulary and so on.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ejossue on Tue, 07/03/2017 - 00:52

And the jokes!? They're bad jokes but I like and enjoy them hehe! XD It is good to try new things for the podcasts and that shows the energy and hard work you do for us. Thank you!

Submitted by Natalia Sh on Mon, 27/02/2017 - 12:26

I do like Tess and Ravi , but I think it's a great idea to exchange presenters from time to time , because people get used to particular voices and hardly understand others . Bad news - it's only ten minutes now !

Submitted by DEM240 on Wed, 22/02/2017 - 15:57

Anyone knows what happened with teacher tom?

Hello DEM240,

The form of the podcasts changes from time to time and in this series Teacher Tom does not appear. Please let us know any thoughts you have - we're always keen to hear what you like and don't like about our materials.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AnneNguyen on Sun, 12/02/2017 - 12:46

What happened to this podcast? Where Tess and Ravi. The men replaced them speaking so slowly and clearly in a way that no native English speaker speaks

Hello Anne,

We make changes in the format of Elementary Podcasts from time to time. If you listen ahead to episode 2, you'll find Tess and Ravi again. I can assure you that all the people who participate in the podcasts are native speakers, though it's true that sometimes they speak more slowly and sometimes more quickly. In general, series 3 and 4 are a little bit easier to understand this way.

By the way, series 5 is in production. Some things will be the same, but others will be different. We hope you enjoy them, but if you're looking for something else in the meantime, Word on the Street is a good next option.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hazem Ebrahim on Sat, 28/01/2017 - 13:31

You can Cook fish by prepare a mixture of garlic,onion,lemon and vegetables then bake it in a hot oven for 30 minuites