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Episode 02

Elementary Podcasts

In this episode Tess and Ravi talk about weekends away, and their guests talk about Shakira and dancing tango in Argentina. You can also follow Carolina’s journey in the UK. Will she find her way out of the airport?

Listen to the podcast then do the first exercise to check your understanding. If you have more time choose some of the language practice exercises.


Section 1 - “Where did you go?” – a weekend away

Tess: Hello and welcome to LearnEnglish Elementary podcast number two. I’m Tess.

Ravi: And I’m Ravi. We’re the presenters and we’re here in the studio with our producer, Gordon. Hi Gordon!

Gordon: Hello!

Ravi: And he’ll be back later with another one of his …. erm, jokes. Now, last week I told you that Tess loved riding her mountain bike and you’ve been away riding your bike this week, haven’t you.

Tess: I have, yes.

Ravi: Where did you go?

Tess: We went to the Lake District, in the North West.

Ravi: Oh. Beautiful. For our listeners who don’t know, the Lake District is in the north west of England and it’s a really beautiful part of the country. I went there last year, you know. It’s a difficult place to ride a bike though – lots of hills.

Tess: I like riding up hills!

Ravi: I prefer riding down them. Did you stay in hotels?

Tess: No, we were camping. We took two small tents with us and at the end of every day we just put the tents up on a camp site. It was great. Really relaxing.

Ravi: What was the weather like? Camping’s great when the weather’s OK but when it’s raining …. it’s horrible.

Tess: Yeah, we were really lucky. It was really sunny. Well, it rained one day but that was OK.

Ravi: Sounds great – I need a holiday! But, well, I think I prefer to spend my holidays on the beach. It sounds like a lot of hard work Tess.

Tess: I love it! I’m going again next year. I can’t wait! But it’s time to move on to the rest of the show – I know we’ve got lots of interesting people to hear from.

Section 2: I’d like to meet

Ravi: So, let’s start with our ‘I’d like to meet’ section. In this part of the show we ask people a simple question – which famous person, dead or alive would you like to meet? And of course, we ask them to explain why. Our guest today on ‘I’d like to meet’ is Yasmin from Cardiff. Hello Yasmin and welcome to the show.

Yasmin: Hello. It’s nice to be here.

Tess: Hello Yasmin. Can you tell us something about yourself?

Yasmin: Well, erm, my name’s Yasmin, I’m 18 years old, I live in Cardiff - that’s in Wales - and I’m training to be a beauty therapist.

Tess: Hmm. A beauty therapist! That’s a great job. Now I’m going to ask the question. So Yasmin, which famous person, dead or alive would you like to meet?

Yasmin: Oh, I’d like to meet Shakira.

Ravi: Shakira. This’ll be interesting. Can you tell us something about her?

Yasmin: Sure. She’s a singer – and a dancer too – she’s from Colombia and she sings in Spanish and English.

Tess: And why did you choose Shakira to talk about today?

Yasmin: Erm, for quite a lot of reasons. First, I think she’s a fantastic singer. I just fell in love with her voice the first time I heard her sing. It’s so different. And then, … she writes her own songs – she wrote her first song when she was only 8 I think. I love singing and I write my own songs too, so I understand how difficult it is – and I’d love to sit down with her and write a song together. I’m sure she could teach me a lot.

Tess: Can you play any musical instruments?

Yasmin: The guitar and the piano. In the beginning she wrote songs and sang in Spanish, and she was very famous in Latin America, but she didn’t speak English, so she had to learn it. And I think she learnt it really well. I admire her because she didn’t just translate her old songs from Spanish to English – she wrote new ones in English. It isn’t easy to write songs in a foreign language, but her words are great I think. She still sings in Spanish too – she records two versions of her songs, one in English and one in Spanish. Another reason I like her is because she’s a mixture of different cultures, and that makes her music interesting. Her mother is from Colombia but her father is Lebanese, so there’s a lot of Arabic influence in her music – and not only Arabic – there’s Indian, Brazilian, Iranian - she’s interested in all sorts of music. And I think she’s a nice person too. Her videos are very, well you know, sexy, but I don’t think she’s really like that – she’s got four dogs and she likes working in her garden, and she doesn’t drink alcohol and she doesn’t smoke. 

Ravi: Thanks Yasmin. Erm, one more question. What would you like to talk to Shakira about, if you could meet her?

Yasmin: Oh, lots of things. Like I said before, I’d like to ask her about how she writes her songs. And I’d like her to teach me how to dance. She’s an incredible dancer.

Tess: She certainly is!

Ravi: Thanks Yasmin, that was great. I think I’d really like to meet Shakira too.

Tess: Mmm. I’m sure you would, Ravi. Have you ever met anyone famous?

Ravi: No, I don’t think so. Only you, Tess.

Tess: Right, listeners, remember that we’d like to hear from you. Which famous person, dead or alive , would you like to meet? And why? Email us at ‘learnenglishpodcastATbritishcouncilDOT org, that’s learnenglishpodcast - all one word - at- britishcouncil – all one word DOT org, that’s o-r-g. Let us know which famous person you would like to meet and you could appear on the programme.

Section 3: Quiz

Ravi: OK, now it’s quiz time. This week we’re going to play Hot Seat, and here to play are Ben and Poppy. Hi!

Ben & Poppy: Hello.

Ravi: You’re brother and sister, aren’t you? Who’s the oldest?

Ben: I am. I’m 15.

Poppy: And I’m 14.

Ravi: OK, great. Now, I’ll explain how to play Hot Seat and then we can start. OK? These cards have all got words on. One of you has to explain the words and the other one has to guess them, but remember, you can’t use the word on the card. You have to guess as many words as you can in one minute. OK? So, who’s going to be in the Hot Seat?

Poppy: I am. I’ll guess and Ben will explain the words.

Ravi: OK. You’ve got one minute. Are you ready Ben?

Ben: Ready

Ravi: Ready Poppy?

Poppy: Ready

Ravi: Go!

Ben: It’s yellow, it’s a fruit.

Poppy: Banana

Ben: Erm. It’s got four wheels. You drive it.

Poppy: Car?

Ben: Yes. Erm. You eat it. You make sandwiches with it.

Poppy: Bread!

Ben: You write in it.

Poppy: Diary

Ben: No, you use it in school and you write in it.

Poppy: Is it ‘exercise book’?

Ben: Yes! It’s a sport.

Poppy: Football

Ben: No. You hit the ball over the net. Wimbledon!

Poppy: Tennis!

Ben: It tells the time. It’s got two hands.

Poppy: A watch

Ben: No. It’s on the wall.

Poppy: A clock.

Ben: A big shop. You do all the shopping there. You buy food there.

Poppy: Supermarket

Ben: Yes! It’s an animal. It’s a pet. It says “Woof!”

Poppy: Dog!

Ben: It’s green. It …

Ravi: Stop! Wow! Well done. Let’s count them. How many was that? I think it was eight. Yes – eight. Well done you two.

Tess: Well done. And if any of you listening have a good game we can play in quiz time, write to us and let us know. The address is learnenglishpodcastATbritishcouncilDOT org. We’d love to hear your ideas for games we can play.

Section 4: Our person in...

Ravi: OK, now it’s time for ‘Our Person In’. This is the part of the show where we hear from people in different countries around the world. This week we’re going to listen to Rachel Glover – Rachel is Our Woman in Argentina.

Rachel: I came to live in Buenos Aires, the capital city of Argentina, in 1998. On my first night in this beautiful city I went for a walk in the streets near my new flat. In a small square, close to my home, I heard music. I went to have a look, and for the first time I saw people dancing the tango. The tango is a dance that Argentina gave to the world – but no-one knows exactly when or where people first danced the tango – or even where the word ‘tango’ comes from. At the start of the twentieth century the population of Buenos Aires got much bigger as people arrived from all over the world to start a new life in South America. More than a million people came from Africa and from Europe – Spain, Italy, France, Russia, Poland. The tango began around this time. For me, the dance shows both the sadness of these people who had said goodbye to their homes and also the hope of new start in Argentina. An Argentinian friend told me that you have to learn the tango if you want to understand Argentina. I decided to learn this beautiful dance. I went to a tango school in the centre of Buenos Aires and joined a class. I was very surprised to find that my teacher was not Argentinian but Scottish. Her name was Claire Flanagan – she came to Buenos Aires 15 years ago – because of her love for tango. “I fell in love with the tango and now I’ve fallen in love with Buenos Aires” she says.

Ravi: Great. Can you dance the tango, Tess?

Tess: No I can’t. I’d love to learn.

Ravi: We can learn together.

Section 5: Your turn

Tess: OK then. And don’t forget that you can write in and tell us something interesting about your city or town. You can send it to us at learnenglishpodcastATbritishcouncilDOT org. Right. Earlier, we listened to Yasmin talking about Shakira. Remember Yasmin told us that Shakira records two versions of her songs – one in Spanish and one in English. For this week’s Your Turn we asked some students in London this question – ‘What do you prefer – songs in English or songs in your language?’

Ravi: Good one. Songs in English or songs in your own language. Let’s hear what they said.

Voice 1: I prefer songs in English because I watch MTV all the time and the songs I like are always in English. Russian songs – I come from Russia – are not as good to dance to as songs in English. And it can help me learn English too!

Voice 2: I like some songs in English and some songs in Japanese but I think I like songs in Japanese best because the words are very important to me. In English songs you can’t always hear all the words or you don’t understand some words but when I listen to Japanese songs I can really understand the meaning of the song.

Voice 3: I really like rap music so I listen to a lot of music in English – mostly American music. There are some singers in Germany who rap in German but it doesn’t sound very good to me. I don’t think German is a good language for rapping. I learn some new English words from rap music but I think some of them are words I can’t say in the classroom!

Voice 4: I come from Mexico and I like songs in Spanish best because I think a lot of the songs I hear in English are a bit stupid … I mean it’s only “I love you, baby”, or “I wanna dance with you baby”. The songs I listen to in Spanish are better because the words are about real things and feelings.

Voice 5: Well, I think it’s a strange question. It’s too difficult to answer. It depends. Sometimes I like to listen to songs in English and I study the words and learn some new things but sometimes I just listen to songs in Greek where I understand all the words. I like some songs in English and some songs in Greek. If the music’s good – I like it!

Ravi: Interesting. What sort of music do you like, Tess?

Tess: Oh, I listen to all kinds of music, but I love music I can dance to.

Ravi: And always in English?

Tess: Usually, yeah.

Ravi: How about you, listeners? Do you prefer songs in English or songs in your own language? Why not send us an email and let us know? You can send your emails to us at learnenglishpodcastATbritishcouncilDOT org - we’d love to hear from you.

Section 6: Carolina

Tess: Right, now it’s time to meet Carolina again. Remember that Carolina is from Venezuela. She’s come to Britain to live, study and, she hopes, have a good time – and we’re going with her!

Ravi: She speaks very good English, but this is her first visit to Britain, so some things are very strange for her. Last time we heard Carolina at the immigration desk at the airport where they checked her passport. Next, Carolina went to collect her suitcase but, unfortunately, her suitcase didn’t appear.

Carolina: Oh. Excuse me. Can you tell me where the Lost Luggage Office is please?

Airport worker: It’s over there. That desk over there, near the exit.

Carolina: Thank you.

Carolina: Hello. Erm.. My bag hasn’t arrived. What do I have to do?

Lost luggage clerk: OK. Where have you arrived from?

Carolina: From Venezuela. Caracas. 

Lost luggage clerk: And you’re sure that your bag isn’t on the carousel?

Carolina: I’m sure. I’ve waited for an hour. All the other people on my flight have gone. There are no more bags coming out.

Lost luggage clerk: Hmm. OK. We’ll need to fill in a report. Can I have your name please?

Carolina: It’s Carolina. And my surname is….

Lost luggage clerk: OK. Now we need a description of the bag. Can you tell me what it looks like?

Carolina: Erm, it’s a black suitcase. Quite big.

Lost luggage clerk: Look at these pictures. Which one looks most like your suitcase?

Carolina: Erm, this one, I think.

Lost luggage clerk: The biggest one?

Carolina: Yes, I think so.

Lost luggage clerk: And is it all black? The handle as well?

Carolina: Yes, everything. A black suitcase and a black handle.

Lost luggage clerk: OK. Anything else?

Carolina: Yes. There was a label on it. With my name. And there’s a little white star on the top, next to the handle. So I can see that it’s mine.

Lost luggage clerk: Little ..white …star. OK. Anything else?

Carolina: No. I think that’s everything.

Lost luggage clerk: OK. Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find it. Can you wait a few minutes while I make some calls?

Carolina: OK. Thank you.

Tess: Oh! Poor Carolina. I hope they found her bag.

Ravi: Me too.

Section 7 - The joke

Ravi: We’ll hear more next time but that’s almost everything for today before we listen to Tom, our English teacher.

Tess: Just time for one more thing. (raises voice) Gordon!

Gordon: Yes, here I am.

Ravi: OK then Gordon, let’s hear your joke for today.

Gordon: OK. It’s a camping joke. Tess, you’ll love it.

Ravi: Come on then.

Gordon: Well, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson are on a camping trip in the countryside. Late at night, Holmes and Watson are lying on their backs looking up at all the stars in the sky. Sherlock Holmes says, “Doctor Watson, look at all the stars and tell me what important question we have to ask.” Doctor Watson says, “Well, OK. There are millions and millions of stars in the sky. No-one knows exactly how many. There are planets out there that no-one has seen with a telescope. Maybe there is a planet somewhere that is just like Earth. I think the question we have to ask is, “Is there life in another part of our universe?” And Sherlock Holmes says, “Watson, you idiot! The question we have to ask is “WHERE IS OUR TENT?”

Ravi: That’s quite good, actually Gordon. Not bad.

Tess: Well that really is all we’ve got time for. We have to go now but don’t go away. After this little break you’re going to hear Tom, our studio English teacher. After every podcast, Tom talks about the language you heard and gives you ideas to help you learn. So, don’t go away, but we’ll say goodbye now. See you next time.

Ravi: Bye! Don’t forget to send us your emails! Here’s that address one more time. It’s learnenglishpodcastATbritishcouncilDOT org.

Tom the teacher

Tom: Hello again. I’m Tom. At the end of every programme I’ll talk about some of the language you heard in the programmes and talk about ways to help you learn English.

Let’s start by looking at something Carolina said. Listen to how she asked for directions.

Carolina: Oh. Excuse me. Can you tell me where the Lost Luggage Office is please?

Airport worker: It’s over there. That desk over there, near the exit.

Tom: When she asked for directions Carolina said “Can you tell me where the Lost Luggage Office is, please?”. But that isn’t the only way to ask for directions. Can you think of other ways? Carolina could also say “Can you tell me the way to the lost luggage office, please?” or “Can you tell me how to get to the lost luggage office, please?”. There are different ways to ask for directions – you might know some other ways.

One thing though that’s very important is that Carolina asked politely. 

Carolina: Excuse me. Can you tell me where the Lost Luggage Office is please?

Tom: Carolina said “Excuse me” and “please” when she asked. In Britain we say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ a lot. We’re very polite! Some people might not be very happy if you forget to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ so try to remember it.

Now, Carolina used ‘Can you tell me’ to ask for directions but we heard ‘can’ in other parts of the programme too. Listen.

Ravi: Great. Can you dance the tango Tess?

Tess: No I can’t. I’d love to learn.

Tom: And Tess asked Yasmin…

Tess: Can you play any musical instruments?

Tom: Ravi said “Can you dance the tango?” and Tess asked “Can you play any musical instruments?” In these questions ‘can’ is used to talk about ability – ‘I can swim’, ‘I can play the piano’. When Carolina asked for directions – ‘Can you tell me?’, ‘can’ is used as a request – when you ask someone to do something. We use ‘can’ to talk about ability and we also use it to make a request.

Let’s listen again to how Ravi introduced the Hot Seat game.

Ravi: OK, great. Now, I’ll explain how to play Hot Seat and then we can start. OK? These cards have all got words on. One of you has to explain the words and the other one has to guess them.

Tom: Ravi had a pile of cards and each card had a word on it. Now maybe you don’t have anyone around to play ‘hot seat’ with but writing words on cards can still be useful. When I learnt Russian I got a pile of cards and I wrote a Russian word on one side of the card and the English translation on the other side. I put the cards in my coat pocket and everyday on the bus to work I read the cards to see how many I remembered. Every time I learnt a new word in my Russian class I made a card for it – so there were always new cards in my pocket. It really helped me remember new words – you should try it. And if you’ve got a friend to play ‘hot seat’ with – that’s even better!

OK. I want to have a quick look at something else. After every podcast I’ll show you something that you can try to use in your own English – an expression or something like that. This week it was something that Carolina heard in the airport. Listen again to Carolina describing her bag to the man. Listen to the questions that the man asks.

Lost luggage clerk: Look at these pictures. Which one looks most like your suitcase?

Carolina: Erm, this one, I think.

Lost luggage clerk: The biggest one?

Carolina: Yes, I think so.

Lost luggage clerk: And is it all black? The handle as well?

Carolina: Yes, everything. A black suitcase and a black handle.

Lost luggage clerk: OK. Anything else?

Carolina: Yes. There was a label on it. With my name. And there’s a little white star on the top, next to the handle. So I can see that it’s mine.

Lost luggage clerk: Little .. white … star. OK. Anything else?

Carolina: No. I think that’s everything.

Lost luggage clerk: OK. Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll find it.

Tom: When Carolina described her bag the man said “Anything else?” Carolina said “No, that’s everything”.

‘Anything else’ is something you hear quite a lot. You hear it in shops and restaurants – when you ask for something the shop assistant or waiter may say “Anything else?” to check if your order is finished. You can reply “That’s everything” or, of course, you can ask for something else! Remember that we usually use anything in questions and negative sentences. That’s why the question is ‘Anything else?’ Try to use ‘Anything else?’ before the next podcast!

OK. I’m going to stop there. I’ll talk to you all again next time. Remember you can send your questions to me at learnenglishpodcastATbritishcouncilDOT org. I’ll be happy to answer them.

In a moment you’ll hear the address for the website where you can read everything you’ve heard in this podcast. Right. That’s all for this time. Bye for now! See you next time.

Check your understanding


Tess and Ravi

Practise the language you heard in Tess and Ravi’s introduction [00:20].

Task 1


Task 2



Practise the language you heard in the soap opera about Carolina [13:45].

Task 1


Task 2


Task 3


Tom the teacher

Practise the language you heard in Tom the teacher’s summary [18:10].

Task 1


Task 2


Task 3




Language level

Intermediate: B1
Pre-intermediate: A2


I prefer songs of my native language, but I can`t teach English easily if listen music only of Bulgarian :) about that I listen English music, I like Ed Sheeran, Adele and many others singers not only from England :) I like them because sometimes I try to catch some sentences, words and they awake my curiosity and I check what`s mean and can keep in my mind :)

I have some questions about English grammar. Could you answer them, please? I know they are a lot, sorry about that.... Well, here they are:

Could you help me with these exercises, please?
You have identify the one words which are between parentheses or phrase that must be changed for the sentence to be considered correct

1) Boolean algebra is (most often) used to solve problems in (logic), probability, and (engineer)

2) A (number of) the materials used in manufacturing paint (are potential) dangerous (if mishandled)

* In these exercises you have to choose the right word or phrase for the gap. Here are the options:

a) In that
b) Through
c) Since
d) Into

3) __________ experimental studies of the aging process, psychologist Ross McFarland determined that people could work productively much longer than had previously been thought

4) Designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi_________________________

a) The United States was given the Statue of Liberty by the people of France

b) The people of France have the Statue of Liberty to the United States

c) The Statue of Liberty was given to the United States by the people of France

d) The French people presented the United States with a gift, the Statue of Liberty

5) ______________ are a form of carbon has been known since the late eighteenth century

a) Diamonds
b) Because diamonds
c) That diamonds
d) Diamonds, which

Also, I have an additional question: Can you tell me what the phrase "stand beside someone" means in this context: " Her mother could have stood beside her and said no to the marriage, but she didn't do it" and could you also tell me in which situations I can use the phrase "stand beside someone", please?

Well, that's all. I hope you can help me with my English issues, please

Hello GiulianaAndy,

I'm afraid we don't normally help our users with questions from other sources, as it's challenging enough for us to keep up with all the questions about our own materials.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

I prefer listening songs in English to listening songs in Spanish, which is my native language, because I love One Direction, Ed Sheeran, Elie Goulding. They are between my favorite singers. I love English lyrics. I consider that there are some songs in English which have no sense but you have to know how to select your favorite English singers

Hello teacher
It is very interesting and helpful for me. Thank you so much.

Hello Teacher,

Could you answer me, please
This the second one, the podcast I have listened. Could I answer the tests while I am listening podcast or shouldanswer after listening the whole podcast.

Hello Mai Khin Nway Shein,

You can do it in the way that works best for you, but in the beginning it's probably better to do the exercises while you are listening. Or you could listen, then pause the recording to do the exercise, and then continue with the next section of the podcast. Try different methods and use the one that works best for you!

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks Teacher

I prefer English music. If I with my friends I prefer Russian.

i prefer listnening to Arabic songs ,sometimes i hear english songs especially old songs its good for me