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Episode 12

Carolina goes to the river and goes on a rowing boat with Jamie. Adam and Jo talk about difficult aspects of English such as homographs and homophones.

Elementary Podcasts

Task 1

Task 2

Task 3

Task 4

Task 5

Task 6

Task 7

Task 8


Leave a comment below!

  • What about you – what's difficult for you in English?
  • Do you agree with Carolina that English spelling and pronunciation 'is impossible!'?
  • And what's easy for you? Do you agree with Jo's students when they say that verbs are easy but prepositions are horrible?

Leave a comment and we'll discuss some of your answers in the next podcast.


Language level

Intermediate: B1
Pre-intermediate: A2



Every word in English tends to carry with it multiple meanings. For instant, searching up a word like "destroy" under any dictionary will yield multiple meanings such as "to kill an animal", or "to physically damage something" or "to defeat an opponent in a game". My question is does this make words like destroy a homonym? or is it words like "bark (which can refer to the sound a dog makes or to the outer covering of a tree" which are homonyms? If so, what's the difference between say "destroy" and "bark" when it comes to considering whether a word is or is not a homonym?

Hello magnuslin,

My students often tell me that English is difficult because words have so many different meanings. What they don't realise is that Catalan and Spanish (and I expect all other languages) also have many, many polysemic words.

'homonym' can be a somewhat imprecise term, as it can cover 'homographs' (words with different meanings that are spelled the same) and 'homophones' (words that are pronounced the same), though it also has a more specific meaning.

I think the articles I linked to will help you, but if you have any other questions about this, please let us know.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

for me the difficult skill in English is listening because I am not native speaker and I live in middle east . natives speakers sometimes have special accent I can not easy to understand like . there are many different accent like Australian accent or south Africa . writing also difficult specially when you write formal letter .yes I agree with carolina pronunciations difficult because they have same meaning but different uses i think the easies things in English IS READING actually I likes reading books

I think, learning new languages depends on two main factors, the first one is the capability of a person to learn new languages, and the second one is the age of the person. Each language has sophisticated rules that couldn't be learnt without practising. I think the biggest problem I am facing with learning English that I learnt it in the wrong way when I was a kid so that I have problems with everything, prepositions, phrasal verbs...., with a horrible pronunciation. because of that, I have to duplicate my efforts in order to learn faster.
I hope that the world could find useful and effective instructions to learn English and force all countries to follow them or to give up teaching English. Finally, I wish all the world speak one language to save the time we spend to learn a new language in order to communicate with the outer world.

I think that english lenguage not so difficult.

lucky to you

Phrasal verbs I guess. I don’t think spelling and pronunciation are impossible. There are some people native Russians who managed to learn English and speak as a native without any accent. That’s about them, not me, cause I also find pronunciation to be one of the hardest part in English for me. Verbs are easy part, I agree, as well as prepositions.

Sorry, but could you please let me know what does Adam mean by the following sentences?
Vocals on a garage track? A new member of One Direction?
Thanks in advance for you valuable support.

Hello corflz

If you are the 'vocals' of a band, it means you sing in the band's music. 'garage' refers to a kind of fast, electronic music in this context. One Direction is the name of a band that was very popular at the time this episode was recorded.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team


What is difficult for me in English?

I've no problems with prepositions. I've watched a youtube video about prepositions from engVid and several video lessons from Anglo-Link.
I also listened to the elementary podcasts without reading them four times and then with reading four times again.

I've heard so much English that I know the most common prepositions in the most common contexts by heart.

So, what is then difficult for me?

Well, when I know the rules and I try to apply them I sometimes/often get them wrong because there is always an exception. But when I use the expression which sounds better to me I usually get them always right.

This happened to me when I had to decide whether to use the adjective or the adverb in a given context (with a gap). I only use the rules when I'm unsure because I don't know the expression by heart.
If I've never heard a word before and I don't know whether it's and adjective or adverb then the rules don't help me at all.