The English We Speak

The English We Speak


Every week, we look at a different everyday English phrase or piece of slang in this fun three-minute programme. From BBC World Service


Cat got your tongue?  

There's a cat about and Feifei's not talking. Learn an expression that questions her quietness

It takes two to tango  

Neil's doing a partner dance on his own in the studio to help you learn English. Learn an expression which means two people need to accept the blame for a bad situation

Knee-jerk reaction  

Feifei kicks Neil in the face after he hits her knee with a hammer. It's all to teach you a useful English expression

To have an axe to grind  

An expression with three related but slightly different meanings connected to strong opinions

Close, but no cigar  

Why is Neil trying to smoke a cigar in the studio? Learn an English expression about almost succeeding

Get somebody's goat  

Neil's goat Fred is a bit smelly but useful for teaching an English expression. Feifei's not happy

Bust a gut  

Neil's wearing a vest in the studio to teach an expression about effort. Feifei's concerned he'll injure himself


Feifei has written a letter to her family. Find out why Sian finds this old-school in the programme


Sian has received lots of emails! Learn another way to say 'lots' in the programme


Sian is irritable today because she skipped breakfast! Learn an adjective to describe people who feel angry when they get hungry

To pull something out of the hat  

What can you pull out of a hat? Learn an expression that describes doing something that saves the day

In the blink of an eye  

This expression to show speed is associated with our eyes blinking, can you guess what it is?

Off the hook  

Are you obliged to do something you can't or don't want to? We teach you what to say

Off the hook  

Are you obliged to do something you can't or don't want to? We teach you what to say


Is someone telling an outrageous lie? Here's an expression we can use

To make a mountain out of a molehill  

Someone making a big fuss about something small? Here's a phrase to describe what they're doing

The last straw/final straw  

When friendship is under test, something tiny and as light as a straw could cause a huge problem

The university of life  

Want to learn about life? Here's a place most of us have studied at

White collar worker / blue-collar worker  

When a colour describes the kind of work you do. Learn about colours representing jobs

Drama queen  

No need to be in the theatre to find a drama queen. We teach you where to find them…

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