off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast, Episode 17 - back to our bubbles

off the cuff: An English learning podcast, episode 17

On off the cuff: An English learning podcast, episode 17, Clare and Annie talk about how things seemed almost better in pandemic times. Also, how the World Cup is more than questionable this year, how the Iran protests are a sign of hope and how remembering our bubbles can be a survival tactic during these trying times. Have a listen to ‘back to our bubble’.

How to use the podcast for learning English

  • Turn on the subtitles to follow the conversation more clearly
  • Have a look at the full transcript attached below
  • Read the list of vocabulary words below to learn the words, expressions and phrases that we think are important to understand.
  • Listen to the pronunciation. Annie is from the US, Clare is from Ireland. Note the differences.
  • Pay attention to our overall intonation. When and where do our voices go up and down?
  • Listen and repeat sentences.
  • Enjoy
off the cuff: an English learning podcast

Vocabulary, Episode 17

To go nuts

  • To be out of control, crazy
  • Finding it hard to organize/control/accomplish everything.
    • The world is going nuts.
    • She is so overwhelmed at work that I think she’s going nuts.

Doom and gloom

  • unavoidable events that are unpleasant (death, war, etc)
    • There is so much doom and gloom in the news that I can’t even watch it anymore.
    • I enjoy talking to Tom, but sometimes I need a break from all the doom and gloom stories he shares.


  • light and not serious
    • I enjoy reading books that are lighthearted and easy to read.
    • I’ve never been one to watch lighthearted romance films. They just bore me.


  • accept defeat of a situation after fighting against it for some time.
    • I don’t understand why we have to succumb to this treatment at work.
    • They are not going to succumb easily.

Not to mention

  • used to emphasize other equally important issues in a list
    • ‘The whole world has to succumb to a country where human rights are not recognized, not to mention women’s rights, homosexual rights…’
    • I just don’t feel well. My head hurts, not to mention I have a fever and an ear ache.

To a certain extent

  • partly but not completely
    • I understand how the metaverse works to a certain extent. I just don’t understand some of the technology behind it.
    • She only trust John to a certain extent. He is kind but he looks out for his personal interest.


  • to put someone in jail
  • Detain someone.
    • People will not be arrested at the World Cup for homosexual displays of affection.
    • Last night 10 people got arrested after fighting in a bar.

Female protests in Iran

  • In September 2022, a 22-year-old Iranian woman, Mahsa Amini, was arrested by the Iranian morality police for not wearing her hijab properly. She died in their custody
  • After this event, women began protesting throughout Iran by removing their hijabs in public, an illegal act in Iran.
  • To learn more from the Guardian newspaper, please click here
  • For more on the Iranian protests from Aljazeera, click here.

Silver lining

  • Comes from the phrase, every cloud has a silver lining.
  • Means that every bad situation has something positive, just like the light shining from behind a dark cloud.
  • With these types of phrases, we usually only use half of the statement but everyone know what you refer to.
    • She lost her job but the silver lining is that she is now working for a great company and is very happy.
    • Is there a silver lining in all this bad news?


  • The LGBTQ Flag, also referred to as the (gay) Pride Flag or Rainbow Flag is the flag (bandera) that represents the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans, Queer community.
  • Click here to see the LGBTQ rainbow flag.
    • The LGBTQ Flag is allowed inside the stadium at the World Cup in Qatar.
    • The Pride Flag is now quite commonly known all over the world.

To know which way is north/south

  • This phrase is used to express confusion about a certain topic or situation.
    • He may be the new director but he doesn’t know which way is north.
    • Everything feels so confusing, that I don’t know which way is north and which is south.


  • referring to the daily activities of one’s life or job.
    • I find the day-to-day housework to be very tedious.
    • The simple day-to-day events are what makes life special.


  • When we talk about our bubbles, we are referring to our daily events and lives.
  • Usually, the concept of ‘living in your bubble’ was seen as a negative thing to mean that you are not aware of what is going on in the world.
    • Americans are often criticized for only living in their bubbles and not knowing what is happening outside the US.
    • Sometimes I enjoy just focusing on my bubble and making sure the people I love are OK.

Survival tactic

  • Techniques one uses to live their daily life or situation.
  • A strategy to live through a very difficult situation.
    • It is quite common for people to use denial as a survival tactic.
    • There are many healthy and unhealthy survival tactics that we can all use to deal with stress.

To be grateful

  • To feel lucky and thankful for everything you have
    • I am grateful for being happy and healthy.
    • She didn’t seem very grateful for all the help they are giving her.

off the cuff

Now that you have listened to On off the cuff: An English learning podcast, episode 17, listen to our other off the cuff posts:
off the cuff: An English learning podcast, Episode 16: A slap in the face
off the cuff: An English learning podcast, Episode 15: A big change for 2022