Learn from natural English conversation – To know the ropes

know the ropes
Share Button

Play
esl podcastESL Podcast

Do you know your stuff? If not, you’re going to want to listen to this episode! Today’s program is all about experts and how to describe them. Join Harp and Andrew as they share many useful expressions that will come in handy when talking about skilled and smart people!

sample dialog

Andrew: And if you know something from back to front, that means you have a very detailed and complete understanding of that thing.
Harp: Yes. You know something really well.
Andrew: So to me, when I think of this expression, I think of reading a book. And I just read the book all the way though and so when I finish the last page, I’m at the back, and that means that I now know this book from the back of the book to the front. I know the whole thing.
Harp: Yes. Exactly. That’s a very good image to think about for this expression.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

An oldie but a goodie To come in handy
Bibimbap To know something inside out
To give someone a hand A heads-up
To know the ropes To be on its last legs
To know your stuff Whoa
To know something from back to front Forest Gump
To chill out A know-it-all
The Simpsons To hook someone up (with something)
Seinfeld To give someone a ring

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Culips

Posted in Catch Word Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bilingualism in Canada

Bilingualism
Share Button

Play
esl podcastESL Podcast

Have you ever wondered why Canada has two official languages, English and French? This episode is dedicated to explaining this complicated subject. Andrew and Maura chat about the historical reasons that caused Canada to be a bilingual country. They also discuss language education in Canada and what it’s like to be an English speaker in the province of Quebec. Maura also talks about how she met Harp in a French class!

sample dialog

Maura: Another great thing is that because this province wants to protect the French language so much, it’s pretty great that you can take French courses that are subsidized by the government. So you can take French language courses and they’re really inexpensive because the government pays for you. They want you to learn French.
Andrew: That is right. They’re a great deal and I know that we have both taken these classes before. And actually, I think Harp has as well, hasn’t she?
Maura: Yes. Actually, that is where I met Harp. We were taking a French class… probably about, I don’t know, 8 years ago now? And in that class, you have a large number of Anglophones and then you also have people from Latin America. I remember there were a lot of Mexicans. And then you have a few Asians. It was kind of a mixed bag.
Andrew: That’s right. But that is really a great place to get the basics of French down when you first move to Montreal. And I feel like this is sort of a rite of passage for Anglophones when they come to Montreal. They sort of get the lay of the land and get the basic French down in these cheap classes.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

To chat it out To edge someone out
Anglophones and Francophones A mixed bag
To applaud someone for something A pocket of something
A lingua franca To get something down
A rite of passage The lay of the land
Code switching To wrap something up
To scratch the surface

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Culips

Posted in Chatterbox Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Have you ever been canned?

You are canned
Share Button

Play
esl podcastESL Podcast

For a variety of reasons, people are sometimes asked to leave their jobs. This episode is all about expressions used to talk about people getting fired. Be careful using these with people who have been fired, because it can be a sensitive subject, but you’re sure to hear these expressions in movies and television shows. So give this episode a listen, but not while you’re supposed to be working!

sample dialog

Andrew: In this episode, we’re just going to describe three expressions and, yeah, just give you the rundown about them. So our first expression is to can.
Maura: That’s right. Which is funny, ’cause most people probably think of the word can and don’t think of it as a verb used in this way, but to can can mean to fire.
Andrew: That’s right. So if you’re dismissing somebody from their job or you’re firing somebody from their job, you are canning them.
Maura: Right. And in the same way, if you are the person who was fired or was dismissed, you can say that you got canned or you were canned.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

A tour To fire someone
A rundown To chill
Man A grey area
Red Tape Out of the blue
To have someone’s back To toss around an idea
To screw up A rookie mistake
To let someone go

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Culips

Posted in Catch Word Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Give me a ballpark figure

ballpark
Share Button

Play
esl podcastESL Podcast

In some situations you can’t be exact, so you have to estimate a number. There are tons of reasons why this happens, and we talk about some in this episode. And of course, we also share some fun expressions to talk about guessing and estimating. How many people were at the concert last night? How much do you think that gold watch is worth? You may have to give a ballpark figure. Listen to this episode to learn more!

sample dialog

Maura: The first expression today is a ballpark figure.
Andrew: Yup. A ballpark figure.
Maura: Hey, yeah. We say that second word a little bit differently, don’t we? I say a ballpark figure.
Andrew: And I say a ballpark figure
Maura: Yours sounds actually right. It sounds like how it’s spelled. Mine sounds strange.
Andrew: Yeah, well, I think this is interesting because Canadians don’t really have too much variation in their accent, but I am from the West Coast and you’re from Ontario, and sometimes there are some slight vowels that we say differently and this is an example of that. I say figure and you say figure.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

Stoked To pass away
Expressions to use when someone has died The best way to go
Yuppers Full blast
A ballpark figure On the spur of the moment
In the market for something A beater
Happening An educated guess
A margin of error A cut of something
The more you know A stag and doe
To blow money

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Culips

Posted in Catch Word Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Death and cultural traditions

funerals
Share Button

Play
esl podcastESL Podcast

When learning another language, we need vocabulary for all kinds of situations. That’s why we decided to do an episode on a more difficult topic. We also got a request from a listener! In this episode, Harp and Andrew talk about expressions that you can use when someone you know has a friend or family member who has passed away. They also share their own experiences with funerals in Canada. This is something that is very cultural!

sample dialog

Harp: So what we’re gonna do is we’re gonna start with talking about what to do when you find out that someone has died that’s close to you. And then we’re going to talk about funerals. And we’re gonna finish with talking about some of our personal experiences.
Andrew: Mmhmm. So today, why we’re talking about this is that we had a listener request, actually. And this person emailed us and asked us for some explanations on what you can say when somebody passes away, or dies. So that’s what we’ll start off with today.
Harp: Yup. So let’s get started. OK. So I want to start with talking about some pretty simple, but very important vocabulary, because talking about death is quite difficult and it’s awkward. It’s awkward for us, so we’re going to try to make it a bit easier. And for me, I think, one thing I do when I find out, let’s say, a friend’s father has died, I always use the expression pass away. I’m so sorry to hear your father passed away. I don’t like to say dead. It seems very harsh to me.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

Stoked To pass away
Expressions to use when someone has died The best way to go
A wake/a viewing Open-casket and closed-casket funerals
Funerals In lieu of
Yeah, no Mkay
Sikh funeral traditions

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Culips

Posted in Chatterbox Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Dancing at different ages

dancing
Share Button

Play
esl podcastESL Podcast

Whether you love it or hate it, at some point in your life, you’ve probably danced. In this episode, Harp and Maura talk about dancing in Canada throughout a person’s life. What do children often learn about dancing? Where do people dance when they get older? As always, they also share their personal experiences with getting down. Listening to this one might give make you want to cut a rug!

sample dialog

Maura: So, Harp, when you were young, when you were a kid, did you take any dance lessons?
Harp: I never did, but I really always wanted to.
Maura: Oh yeah? Well, what kind of dance lessons did you want to take?
Harp: Well one of my friends took tap dance, and I always wanted to try that because it just looked fun. ’Cause you’re doing very little motion. ’Cause she did very little in terms of movements, but she made so much noise. It was just such a cool dance to do.
Maura: Yeah. It is fun to hear the clickity-clack of your feet when they’re moving around with the steps.
Harp: Yup. I would always try to do it with just normal shoes and pretend I was being a tap dancer.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

To roll around Mouth-watering
To cut a rug To break something down
Hardcore An extracurricular activity
One hundred percent VJs and DJs
Choreography To pop up
A fix To dance up a storm
To be game

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image ACB Dance

Posted in Chatterbox Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

You killed it

killed it
Share Button

Play
esl podcastEnglish Podcast

Would you ever guess that to kill something could mean to do it well? In English it can mean exactly that! In this episode, we’re looking at expressions that mean to do something very well. They’re casual expressions that can be used to talk about a big performance or a small school project. Check out this episode if you want to give someone a high compliment in a natural way!

sample dialog

Andrew: So our first expression is to kill it.
Maura: Mmhmm. It sounds so violent. To kill it.
Andrew: Yeah. It’s very violent, I guess, when you think about it. But in reality, this just means that you performed well when you were doing something.
Maura: Right. So, when a person does something really well, you can say that that person killed it.
Andrew: Mmhmm. And it does sound gruesome, I agree. But this just means that this person did an excellent job on a certain task.
Maura: Right. It could be also maybe a performance or something like that, where you could say that somebody killed it. And again, it’s not violent. It just means that someone did something very well. They succeeded in some way.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

To reach peak something To kill it
Gruesome A hit
Harsh Ultra
To nail it An antique
To be down someone’s alley To go easy on someone
A prodigy To rock it
To pull off a look To cross someone’s mind

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image My offering to you

Posted in Catch Word Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Movers and Shakers

movers and shakers
Share Button

Play
esl podcastEnglish Podcast

In these times of international business, many movers and shakers find it important to be able to speak English! In today’s episode, we talk about people who have ambition and drive, and can make things happen. Some people are really motivated to innovate, make changes, and work hard, so we’ve got names for them. Check out this episode to learn some terms that describe these kinds of people. Are you a go-getter?

sample dialog

Andrew: Usually we call people who are very successful, who are rich or good businessmen or politicians, these are movers and shakers. These are, like, really big figures in society.
Harp: Yeah. Rich and powerful people. We call them movers and shakers. And with this expression, when I think of a mover and a shaker, I think of someone who’s really energetic and actually physically moving a lot to try to get things done.
Andrew: Yeah. And we should warn you that when you use this expression, you have to use both mover and shaker together. You have to say somebody is a mover and a shaker. If you say they’re just a shaker or just a mover, it doesn’t work. Both together.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

An outlet A mover and a shaker
To move (on) up the ladder Drive
A go-getter To give your all
What a/an… Quicker or more quickly
To float around To pick up
A self-starter Thanks for having me
To pull the trigger

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image AMC Mad Men

Posted in Catch Word Tagged with: , , , , , , , , ,

Let’s just play it by ear

Play it by the ear
Share Button

Play
esl podcastEnglish Podcast

Are you the kind of person who likes to plan everything? Or would you rather just play it by ear? This episode is about being in the moment, not planning too much, and accepting what happens. To play it by ear is a very common expression used when people are deciding not to make plans. Listen in to hear more about this expression and some similar ones.

sample dialog

Maura: Andrew, do you have any guesses about the origin of this expression?
Andrew: Hmm. To play it by ear. It sounds musical to me.
Maura: Yes. That’s why I asked you, because you’re a musician. So I thought you would probably figure it out.
Andrew: Mmhmm. Yeah. When I play music, actually, I play a lot of different instruments, and I’ve always been really bad at reading music. And music theory is not something that comes easily to me. So usually when I play music, I play it by ear. I just listen and try to figure out what I’m doing while I’m playing.
Maura: Exactly. So that’s where this expression comes from. That people would play music without looking at any notes and they just improvise the music in the moment. Maybe they’re jamming with some other musicians. And so it’s the same idea, except now we’re not talking about music anymore. We’re talking about plans for something.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

To take things as they come To play it by ear
Set in stone On the spur of the moment
To come easily (to someone) To be down (with something)
Or what To pull it off
To go with the flow To roll off the tongue
A big step When in doubt
To roll with the punches It’ll happen for you

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Atari magazines

Posted in Catch Word Tagged with: , , ,

Interview with Jade

Jade
Share Button

Play
esl podcastEnglish Podcast

A Culips listener on Facebook recently requested that we do more interviews, so here’s another one! This time it’s our friend Jade who’s talking to you. In this episode, Andrew asks her about her life growing up in the province of British Columbia, about going off to university, and about what she’s up to now. Listen in to learn about Jade and the dynamic life of another Canadian!

sample dialog

Andrew: Did you have any special farming jobs? Like, I know some country kids have to wake up at the crack of dawn every day and go and milk the cows. Did you have any special farm chores?
Jade: Well, we actually didn’t have the farm for too long. It was a pretty-short lived hobby, I think, of my parents’. So when I was maybe three until seven was the only years our farm was really that active, so I mean, a three-year-old isn’t that functional as a farmhand. But I did really like helping slaughter the chickens. I don’t know. Does that count?
Andrew: OK. That’s a little strange. Yeah, that definitely counts. That’s part of country life. Right? So I guess I wanna skip forward a little bit now. And when we first met was when we were both living on Vancouver Island, in Victoria. And we both moved there to go to the University of Victoria.

Expressions from this episode included in the Learning Materials:

I wouldn’t miss it for the world At the crack of dawn
A farmhand Does that count?
UVic and UBC Guess I wouldn’t have met you
To bounce all over the place To branch out
The common denominator To hold something in a very special place in your heart
To move on to bigger and better things If you will
Shoot A morning person or a night owl

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Photo Huffington Post

Posted in Chatterbox Tagged with: , , , , , , ,