Episode 16

Episode 16

Adam is impressed by how much you know about London. In Newcastle, Carolina meets a horrible customer in the shop and that's just the start of a very bad day.



Hello. Welcome to episode 16 of the Learn English Elementary Podcast. I’m Adam.

Rob is on a business trip at the moment, but it’s nice to be back. First of all, I’d like to say sorry that there hasn’t been a podcast for a while. Rob and I both had to travel for work this month and we haven’t been around. But one of us is back now with another great podcast for you.

Later on, we’ll be catching up with Carolina and I’m afraid she isn’t very happy this week.

But first, let’s have a look at some of your comments on the last podcast, when we asked you for your thoughts on London.

Tess and Ravi talked about Big Ben and Buckingham Palace but you, listeners, mentioned loads of other things in London: Tower Bridge, Madame Tussauds, the British Museum, Hyde Park, Camden Market, the changing of the guards, Trafalgar Square… even those of you who haven’t been to London seem to know a lot about it.

And it wasn’t just London. You also mentioned Oxford University and Stonehenge and the city of Bath - other places you’d like to visit in England. A few of you are fans of English football – like Mohammed in Jordan who really wants to visit Wembley Stadium.

Sora from Korea is lucky; she’s going to study in London in September. Write and tell us how you find it, Sora.

And there’s good news too for Tanya in Russia and Angelo in Italy. Tanya mentioned Sherlock Holmes and Angelo talked about seeing the famous double-decker buses in London. Well, both of those things will be in a future podcast – so keep listening out!

So many great comments, as usual – too many to read out all the good ones – but I do want to look at just one more. It’s from Raviha in Pakistan and it says ‘Rob, I love your Word on the Street series’.

Now, if you don’t know, Word on the Street is a TV programme made by the BBC and the British Council and you can find it on the LearnEnglish website. Go to: www.britishcouncil.org/wordonthestreet

And that’s almost the same address to send your comments to. We love hearing from you, so keep the comments coming to www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish

Right, time now to catch up with Carolina again. Carolina is from Venezuela and is studying at Newcastle University. We’ve been following her life. Last time there was good news for Carolina’s friend Emily, but this time things aren’t going too well for Carolina… 


At the shop

Carolina: That's four pounds please. Thank you. Would you like a bag? OK. Who's next?

Man: I am.

Carolina: Oh, yes. OK, that's two pounds nineteen please.

Man: How much?

Carolina: Two pounds nineteen.

Man: Ninety or nineteen? I can't understand you.

Carolina: Nineteen. Two pounds nineteen pence.

Man: "Two pounds nineteen pence". Why don't you learn to speak English?

Carolina: I… I do… I… I'm sorry…

At University

Mrs Greenwood: So that's it for today. I'll see you next week. If anyone wants to talk about their essay, I'll be in my office from two to five tomorrow afternoon. And don't forget, the deadline for the essay is Monday morning. And that's the absolute final deadline. I will not accept any essays after that time. Is that understood?

Students: Yes, Mrs Greenwood.

Mrs Greenwood: I'm looking forward to reading them. Right, OK. Have a good week.

Students: Thank you, Mrs Greenwood / Bye Mrs Greenwood

Carolina: Oh no!

Student: What's up?

Carolina: The deadline. Monday morning. Is she really serious? She really won't accept any essays after Monday?

Student: Oh yes, she's serious. I did a course with her last year. Two people failed because they didn't do their essays on time.

Carolina: Oh, God!

At the Post Office

Voice through microphone: Cashier number five, please.

Carolina: Good morning.

Clerk: Good morning.

Carolina: I want to collect a parcel. It's from Venezuela, for Carolina del Barco. Here's the card.

Clerk: Can I see some identification?

Carolina: I'm sorry?

Clerk: You need to show me some identification.

Carolina: I need to...?

Clerk: I'm sorry, but I can't give you the parcel if you don't show me some identification.

Carolina: I'm very sorry but I don't understand. Can you speak more slowly?

Clerk: I-den-ti-fi-ca-tion. Pass-port.

Carolina: Oh… yes… identification, passport... yes, of course. I'm sorry. Here you are.

At home

Carolina: It's me, Emily. I'm tired. I'm going to go straight to bed.

Emily: OK. Night. See you tomorrow.

Carolina: Goodnight. Hola mamí. I… oh… 


Oh dear! Carolina sounds really miserable, really homesick.

It happens sometimes when you’re a long way from home. It just takes a few small things to go wrong, and it can make you feel really unhappy. I remember the first time I went to church camp. My parents weren't there, and I was 10, but I was OK until I put ten pence in the payphone and heard my parents' voices. Then I ran away to cry where the other boys couldn't see me.

How about you, listeners? A lot of you don’t live at home or you lived away from home in the past. Do you ever feel homesick? If you do, what do you do to make yourself feel better? Even if you’ve never felt homesick, what advice would you give to Carolina to make herself feel better? Write and tell us what you think at: www.britishcouncil.org/learnenglish

Now, one thing that went wrong for poor Carolina was making a mistake with her English – listen to this bit again: Carolina: Oh, yes. OK, that's two pounds nineteen please. Man: How much? Carolina: Two pounds nineteen. Man: Ninety or nineteen? I can't understand you. Carolina: Nineteen. Two pounds nineteen pence. Man: "Two pounds nineteen pence". Why don't you learn to speak English? Carolina: I... I do… I… I'm sorry…

Carolina got confused about the stress of nineteen and ninety – it’s an easy mistake to make. In ‘nineteen’ we stress the second syllable – ‘teen’ and in ‘ninety’ we stress the first syllable – ‘nine’. It makes a big difference.

However, if we are giving a date, like nineteen eighty-nine, we stress the first syllable of nineteen. English can be really difficult sometimes!

If you want help with syllables and stress we’ve put some exercises on the website for you. They’ll help you recognise how many syllables you hear and which syllables are stressed.

You’ll find lots of other exercises there too so do go and look at the website, and send us your comments – it’s always great to hear from you.

We’ll be back next time with more from Tess and Ravi, talking about a famous British family… who could that be?

That’s all for now. See you next time – bye!


Language level

Average: 5 (6 votes)
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Profile picture for user kamicounciler

Submitted by kamicounciler on Fri, 03/01/2020 - 10:55

i ve never had the chance to live away from my family and city for a long time.so i cant say how it exactly would be for me,but i think i would feel homesick in that situation,when i was younger.now i can handle it easiear.
Profile picture for user Sergey Sh

Submitted by Sergey Sh on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 09:57

That’s familiar for me to feel homesick. When I used to live in city of Khabarovsk and studied at the University I had to feel this feeling amid being away from home for long time when only approach to get in touch with my family was phone and internet. There’re some manners I did to overcome. First of all and in my opinion is seemed to be the best way is to have good friends you can spend your leisure time well with. Reading a book or some good film at the cinema or having some hobby matter as well. As a student I wasn’t used to put off my homework so that to face it all at the end of semester until deadline. It can bring lots of stress then. Therefore I did all my homework in time without putting off that always livened me up and helped to feel better amid homesick. I would wish to everybody who are like Carolina to stay strong and believe in that each and every difficult make you stronger. But frankly said if I were Carolina I wouldn’t spend all my moneys given me to study to buy expensive presents to her friends in Venezuela and some cloths she bought a lot. It let her to be sick of money and low budget. If she had done with her budget wisely it wouldn’t have led her to look for a job. Otherwise she could have more time to focus on her study and to go out with friends without feeling of lack of time. As a result there’s much less stress and feeling of homesick is not so big.

Submitted by parisaach on Mon, 13/05/2019 - 05:42

I've never live in a foreign country or even other city away from my family . but whenever I go to a trip for a long time I feel homescik, and I remember the days I went to work trip alone I really felt homesick though people think I'm not much sentimental, but I totally dependent on my family and friends. By the way, time helps people to forget everything . it is definitely difficult to leave all the people or things you have and go to other place to live but people are accoustomed to every new situation so don't wory you can adapt to any circumestances.

Submitted by nikoslado on Thu, 07/02/2019 - 19:48

Dear Kirk, thanks a lot , the least I can say for your kindness and the immediate response.Please,is there any advice for the first item, (about how you do count syllables in English),or this is something complicated for foreigners students and not to important ,so let's skip it for the moment ... All the best, Nikos

Hello nikoslado,

Syllables are based around vowel sounds: one vowel sound with any surrounding consonants equals one syllable. The problem is that English spelling and pronunciation is not entirely consistent and so it is not always obvious from the spelling of a word how it is pronounced, which can affect how many syllables it has. Familiarity is the best solution to this: as your vocabulary grows, you will assimilate more and more patterns and your feel for what sounds natural will develop.



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by nikoslado on Mon, 04/02/2019 - 21:08

Dear Team, there is an absolute confusion in today's exercises for me.It has to do with the number of the syllables and their intonations.How is set and counted their number in English language? Because in Greek language we count them according to specific rules, but in English -from what I see -there is some difference, so my answers are wrong, without me knowing why.As for the intonation there is also confusing stuff.I do use only reliable dictionaries [Cambridge's ands Oxford's], with voice pronunciation, I listen carefully to them, I hear clearly their intonation, but when I transfer it to the exercises it is considered as ''wrong answer''.For example ''employee'', ''theatre'',afternoon'' etc.Could you give me some advice ?..Thanks a lot for all you are doing for us...

Hello nikoslado

Thanks for taking the time to point this out to us and I'm sorry for the confusion. I'm moved 'theatre' into the Ooo group (it was incorrectly in oOo) and removed the word 'employee' from the exercise. This is because although the most common pronunciation of 'employee' is oOo, some people pronounce it ooO. It wasn't wrong, but since we can't have it be correct in both categories for technical reasons, I've just removed it from the exercise to avoid any further confusion.

It's great that you listen to the pronunciations in dictionaries, as this is really the best way to become familiar with and to practise prounciation of words in isolation. The transcription in the Cambridge Dictionary also shows where word stress is. For example, as you can see in the entry for 'employee', you can see the two pronunciations: /ɪm'plɔɪ.iː/ or /em.plɔɪ'iː/. The ' mark is put before the stressed syllable, so the stress pattern in the first pronunciation is oOo and ooO in the second pronunciation.

My apologies if you were already familiar with this, but it's something many of my students don't know so I thought it'd be worth explaining just in case.

Thanks again for pointing out this to us!

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team


Submitted by Nancy Nguyen on Sat, 29/12/2018 - 03:24

Hello everyone, I had lived away from my home for 4 years for my study. The first time, I missed my mom so much. I felt homesick and it was terrible. I called my mom every night. After that, I knew some new friends who talked and shared to me and I had to spend a lot of time studying, that made me calm and better. I said to myself that I must be strong and try to take a good study result, complete my course as soon as possible in order to come back home soon. We should appreciate our family because it's an essential part of our life. Carolina should be stronger and have a call with her mom.

Submitted by User_User on Mon, 17/12/2018 - 09:22

Hello My topic today: If you are weak in one area what should you do to improve? Everybody knows that some people are taller than the average and some are below the average. Let's imagine the same is true for emotions. Some people have stronger emotions than the average and some people have less emotions than the average. Around ten per cent of the people have so little emotions that they have problems with other people. They many know many words or are good with grammar but they have problems to send a lot of emotions through their voice. They may be intelligent but what would you recommend they should do to improve their pronunciation/intonation? Even if it would work: Would they benefit if their level rises from below average to average, or should they concentrate on the areas where they are strong? What would you study/spend time on: areas where you are weak or areas where you are strong? If you study at university you always choose the subjects/areas/fields on which you are strong. In that sense when you make a few mistakes it's worth to concentrate on them, but if you have a general problem with your intonation than it's probably a waste of time. Of course you can mimic others voices but you may feel nothing. Bye
Profile picture for user Kostya B

Submitted by Kostya B on Sat, 15/12/2018 - 09:06

I had never feel acute homesick. My advice to Caroline is to be more patient and learning for improve her English, sooner or later she will get used.