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

off the cuff, Episode 16> a slap in the face

off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast, Episode 16: A slap in the face

This month on off the cuff: An English learning podcast, Episode 16: A slap in the face, Clare and Annie talk about the what happened between Will Smith and Chris Rock at the Oscars this year. The story is hot off the press and we still do not know what the repercussions will be for both actor and comedian, but stay tuned to learn some vocabulary and expressions.

Vocabulary, expressions and phrasal verbs Minute 0 – 2:12

To go through the roof

There are two meanings for go through the roof. In the podcast, Annie is using this expression to talk about the first one.

  • to rise to a high level
    • The electricity prices are going through the roof.
  • to get very angry.
    • If he doesn’t give me a good explanation for why he didn’t show up I’m going to go through the roof.


  • this is when workers refuse to work because of an argument about working conditions
    • When they decided to make 20 employees redundant, the workforce went on strike.


  • a rest, usually from a difficult decision.
    • After everything that has happened the last 2 years, we can all use a bit of respite.

It hit me like a punch in the face

  • To be shocked by something.
  • To have something greatly affect you.
    • The news of his death hit me like a punch in the face.

To have punch

  • to be interesting
    • That performance was lacking/didn’t have punch


  • to hit someone with your fist
    • In my gym class we often punch the air to work out shoulders muscles.

Spur of the moment

  • a spontaneous decision
    • I decided to pick up and go on a spur of the moment decision.


Vocabulary, expressions and phrasal verbs Minute 2:13 – 3:56

In the spotlight

  • to receive public attention
    • I would enjoy being actor, but I don’t think I could handle being in the spotlight.


  • a covering of artificial hair.
    • When your hair is long enough, you can have it cut and donated to make wigs for people who have Cancer.

A bad taste in one’s mouth

  • an unpleasant memory of an experience.
    • We had a terrible argument and it really left a bad taste in my mouth

To hear something on/through the grapevine

  • to hear something from someone who hear it from someone else
    • I heard it through the grapevine that they are getting divorced. Is it true?

Have form

  • to have a history together
    • How do you know Kelly? I didn’t know you had form.


  • a large expression of emotions, usually anger.
    • My daughter had a huge outburst when I told her that we were going home. 


  • the feeling of calm
    • My aunt really lost her composure at the funeral.

Vocabulary, expressions and phrasal verbs, Minute 3:56 – 5:17

Animal instinct

  • we use this expression when someone acts as an animal
    • Some people say that in a war situation, everyone relies on their animal instincts

Something keeps me awake at night

  • when something worries me so much that I can’t sleep.
    • Sometimes I worry so much about my kids that it keeps me up at night.  

Hold something inside

  • to not say what you are feeling.
    • If you hold things inside for a long time, you are more likely to have an outburst.

Good/bad optics

  • the public’s opinion, good or bad, of a situation after seeing it through the media
    • There were only good optics about the wedding in the newspapers and magazines.


  • speaking with disrespect
    • Many rappers use very derogatory language towards women in their lyrics.

Swear words

  • rude and offensive words
    • I was never allowed to use swear words when I was younger.

Vocabulary, expressions and phrasal verbs Minute 5:17


  • to do something after spending a lot of time planning and thinking about it.
    • He was sentenced to 30 years in prison for premeditated murder.

To be the butt of a joke

  • to be the person who is laughed at
    • I don’t think it’s right to use people as the butt of a joke.

A kneejerk reaction

  • a quick response that you didn’t have time to consider something
    • When the car came at us, my kneejerk reaction was to jump.

Everyone is like a boiling pot of water

  • meaning that everyone is like a pressure cooker about to explode.
  • when people are all dealing with so much that any little thing will lead to an outburst.
    • All my students are so stressed that they are like a pot of boiling water.

Talk things out

  • to talk about problems
    • I would love to talk things out with my dad but he is not capable of doing so.

Figure out

  • to solve or understand something.
    • I can’t seem to figure out why she decided to come when she wasn’t invited.

To get past something

  • to heal from something painful
  • I know he is struggling now, but with time he will get past this.

Michael Portillo

Now that you have listened to off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast, Episode 16: A slap in the face, listen to some of our previous episodes:
off the cuff, episode 15: Big changes for 2022
off the cuff, episode 14: Squid Game

Cursos de inglés

En la Escuela de idiomas de la Cámara de Álava, creemos que el inglés no solo se puede aprender en el aula. El blog es algo complementario a las clases que tenemos. Hay cursos para todos los niveles y necesidades. ¡Ponte en contacto con nosotros!

off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast, Episode 15

An English Learning Podcast: A big change for 2022

This month on off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast: A big change for 2022, Clare and Annie complete their 15th episode of the podcast. They talk about some big changes happening in their lives and use some vocabulary and expressions to do so. Check out the vocabulary, their meanings and examples below. And stay tuned!

Vocabulary and expressions, Minute 0:00 – 1:40

Funny you should ask me (that)

  • This is something we say when there is a coincidence usually because the other person was just about to talk about that topic or because there is some interesting story to tell about that same topic.
    • Where did you buy that phone? Funny you should ask me because I was just about to tell you that I am pleasantly surprised by my new phone.

Be provoked by something

  • This is when something persuades us or causes a reaction in us
    • I was provoked by the ad to buy the alarm system even though I never really thought I needed one.

360 degree change  

  • We say this when we want to express that we have made a compete change in our lives.
    • After having a baby, she made a 360 degree change in the way she spends her time.

To swap something for something else  

  • To give something for something else in return.
    • We swapped my old mini-van for a new Ford C-Max

Town council

  • The local government of a town
    • All of the events for today were sponsored by the town council

Something pops up

  • Something appears suddenly and unexpectedly
    • I hate when I am working online and advertisements keep popping up.

Vocabulary and Expressions from minute 1:40 – 4:45


  • an effort to do something, usually something new.
    • She is off to start her new endeavor in Navarra.

To learn on the job

  • to gain a new skill while you are working, instead of having that skill before you starting doing a particular job.
    • It’s important to have training but a lot of the hand-on skills you will learn on the job.

To be a bit of a jump

  • a change
  • We often use this expression to say something is not that similar to what we were previously talking about or doing.
    • I said she was nice, but to to say that she’s extremely friendly is a bit of a jump.  

Opportunities come and go

  • In this case, Clare was trying to say that sometimes things present themselves in life, particularly opportunities, and we can either chose to take them or leave them. So, the idea of come and go is that if you don’t decide to take them, they will disappear and your chance or opportunity will be gone.
    • I got a grant to study abroad in London for 6 months, but I don’t know if I should go or not. Well, opportunities come and go (so, you shouldn’t miss this opportunity)

To not know what lay ahead of you

  • What lies ahead of you is your future. If you don’t know what lies ahead of you, you don’t know what the future will bring, so there is a lot of uncertainty.
    • The reason why this pandemic is so difficult to handle is that we never know what lies ahead of us.

One-way ticket

  • One way ticket is obviously when you buy a ticket to go somewhere without buying a return ticket. But there is more to this concept because if you don’t have a return ticket, it means your future is unknown and you don’t know what lies ahead.
    • I feel like buying a one way ticket to a small island that is warm and welcoming.

On a day-to-day basis

  • On a day to day basis is the same as saying on a daily basis. Meaning, something that occurs every day.
    • I use my computer on a day-to-day basis.
  • It can also be used to say that you will focus on what you need to accomplish slowly and each day focus on what you need to do.
    • I have so much to deal with but I am trying to take it all on a day-to-day basis to not feel too overwhelmed.

Vocabulary and expressions minute 4:45 – end

Throw in the towel

  • To stop doing something because you realize you are defeated or you do not want to do it anymore.
    • I have had enough of working in restaurants! I’m throwing in the towel and going back to school.

To make something rock

  • To do a great job with something or to make something exciting.
    • Clare is going to make the hotel rock in no time.

To walk a fine line

  • This means that you are very close to two different ideas at the same time. Annie in this case says there is a fine line between crazy and stupid, meaning there is very little difference.
    • When doing extreme sports, people sometimes walk a fine line between adventure and danger.


  • Someone who is afraid of or dislikes technology and tries to avoid using it.
    • Oh, don’t be such a technophobe and buy yourself a smart TV.

To be pulling pints

  • To be serving a beer properly.
  • Pint is what a beer is referred to in many countries as they give you a pint (a measurement) of beer.
    • He’s pulled over 50 pints tonight at the party.

To not be a stranger to something

  • This means that you are familiar with someone or something. Stranger is someone you don’t know.
    • I’m not a stranger to taking risks since I have taken quite a few in my life.

Double trouble

  • This means that the amount of trouble is going to be twice as big. It is often used in a jokingly way.
    • My daughters are double trouble when they are left alone.

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Now that you have heard off the cuff, An English Learning Podcast: A big change for 2022, listen to our previous episodes
off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast, Episode 14: Squid Game
off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast: Episode 13: Phrasal verbs

off the cuff - The Squid Game Phenomenon

off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The Squid Game Phenomenon

Everyone is talking about it so we are too. This month on off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The Squid Game Phenomenon is what we are talking about. Why is it internationally popular? Listen to our podcast and check the vocabulary below. Enjoy!

Vocabulary, expressions and phrasal verbs to listen for.  

Vocabulary minute 0:00 – 3:30

On everybody’s tongues

  • If something is on your tongue, it means you are talking about it.
  • When Claire says, what’s on everyone’s tongue, she means what is everyone talking about.
    • The new COVID restrictions are on everyone’s tongues these days.

Fancy that

  • this expression is used to comment on something that is hard to imagine.
  • In American English, the expression ‘Imagine that’ is more commonly used in the same situation.
    • Her parents bought her a new car for her birthday. Fancy that!


  • snippet is used to talk about a small and interesting piece of news or information.
    • I listened to a snippet of the off the cuff podcast and I wanted to hear more.

Smashed the record

  • to defeat or destroy something (the record, in this case) completely.
    • Adele smashes all sorts of records every time she releases a new album.

Talk about polar opposites

  • When we use the phrase ‘talk about’ we use it to emphasize something in an obvious way.
    • I read that book last year. Talk about boring!
  • Polar opposites means that two things are complete opposites.
    • My daughter is very serious and organized whereas my son is always losing things and making jokes. Talk about polar opposites.


  • The people who watch something, especially a TV show or series.
    • In the middle of October this year, over 111 million viewers watched Squid Game.


  • A set of numbers that give information about a process, activity or event.
    • The metric that Netflix uses to count viewers is called ‘chose to watch’ and counts anyone who watches a show, even if it’s only for a few minutes.


  • Adjusted View Share. This is a Netflix metrics that they use to determine the value each of the viewers hold.
    • Squid Game rated over 9 out of 10 on their own metrics, AVS.
  • Click here to read more about the AVS for Squid Game.

Enlighten me

  • To provide someone with information or facts about something.
  • Clare in this case was saying it a bit sarcastically since Annie is only giving her personal opinion.
    • I don’t understand why you think you need to do this. Enlighten me.

Sink in/into

  • To allow something to gradually make sense or realize the effect something will have on you.
    • I can’t believe he’s gone. It still hasn’t sunk in yet.  

Vocabulary minute 3:30 – 5:00

To be put under pressure

  • The act of someone making or convincing you to do something by arguing or persuading you.
    • Teachers are increasingly put under a lot of pressure to pass their students even if they are not performing well.

To be in debt

  • To owe someone or several people money.
    • It is very common in the US to be in debt since many people live above their means.


  • Someone who risks money in the hopes of winning more money.
    • In the show Squid Game, lots of the players were gamblers and had a lot of debt to pay off.


  • To be able to buy something because you have enough money to do it.
    • I can’t afford to buy a new phone this year.
  • Sometimes this can also be emotional. If someone can emotionally afford to do something it means that they are emotionally capable of doing it.
    • I can’t afford to lose her. She is so important to me.

Desperation point

  • The moment that someone feels that they are in such a bad situation that they are willing to take risks to change it.
    • The players in Squid Game where at such a point of desperation that they were willing to risk their own lives and those of others to change their current situation.

Subtle way

  • To do something in a way that is quiet and clever way as to not attract too much attention.
    • Clare suggested in off the cuff that using children’s games was a subtle way for the director to attract children and younger viewers to watch.


  • To be shocked by something.
    • Annie was flabbergasted to hear that children were watching Squid Game since she believed the message of the show to be too mature for such young viewers.

To consume (the episode)

  • to consume is usually used in this way with food or drink, but Annie is using it to suggest she is taking in the episode and trying to understand it.
    • I consumed the whole series in just two days and am now trying to understand everything that happened.  

To deal with something

  • To take of something. I can’t talk right now.
    • I’m dealing with a bit of a tough situation at work right now.

 Vocabulary minute 5:00 – end

Quentin Tarantino

  • An American writer-director of movies such as Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained and other movies known for being violent.
    • Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors because he films are unique.
    • Learn more about Quentin Tarantino here.

You know what I mean?

  • This is a common expression used to ask someone if they understand or agree with you.
    • I’m so tired of talking about COVID all day long. You know what I mean?

Wrap my head around something

  • To understand something that is difficult to comprehend.
    • I’m still trying to wrap my head around the idea that my sister is dating my ex-husband.


  • A way streaming serves talk about how well a show ‘sticks’ or remains interesting to someone. If everyone watches a series to the end, then it’s stickiness is good.
    • This TV series has a high stickiness rating on Netflix because people usually watch the entire series.

To stick something out

  • To stay with something until the end. I had to leave that job.
    • There was no way I could stick it out until the end of the year there.


  • The income that a company receives.
    • We had very little revenue this year as the supply chain really had an effect on our productivity.

The Crown

  • A TV series on Netflix that follows the life of the Royal family in England.
    • I tried to watch The Crown but didn’t make it through an episode as I found it quite boring.
  • Learn more about The Crown here.

To lose out

  • To not have the same advantage as others.
    • He really lost out on an opportunity to work in a prestigious firm.

To take off

  • To start to be successful or popular.
    • Although there wasn’t much attention around Disney+ in Spain in the first months, it has really taken off now.

To overcome

  • To succeed in dealing with a difficult situation.
    • The children really learned to overcome their difficult upbringing and are all now raising families of their own.


  • Something that makes you see things in a different way.
    • Having friends that are different from you from a very early age can be very mind-opening.


  • Information about the end of a tv show or movie that may ‘spoil’ the enjoyment for you.
    • Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the ending of Squid Game, stop reading.

To turn against someone

  • To go from supporting someone or something to opposing them.
    • A lot of fans turned against him when he left the team to make more money.

To hit (the next big thing to hit)

  • To become popular. The next TV series to become a success.
    • I can’t wait to see what the next big thing to hit this Christmas season is at the movie theatre.  

Watch this spot

  • Pay attention to this topic because something is going to happen.
    • To learn more English and keep up with your phrasal verbs, watch this spot!

Now that you’ve listened to off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The Squid Game Phenomenon, listen to our other podcasts below.
off the cuff: An English learning podcast – Phrasal verbs
off the cuff: An English learning podcast – The rat race

off the cuff: An English learning podcast: Phrasal verbs

off the cuff: An English learning podcast: Phrasal verbs

In episode 13 of off the cuff: An English Learning Podcast: Phrasal Verbs, we are using just that!!! Phrasal verbs! We start off with our typical off the cuff style of improvisation but then we mix things up to use a total of 27 phrasal verbs in just a short conversation. Phrasal verbs are everywhere in English and if you want to understand natives and speak like one, you need to start using them today.

Phrasal verbs from minute 0 – 1

Off the cuff

  • to do something without preparation. To improvise.
    • On out podcast, off the cuff, we do not prepare things beforehand, we try to improvise and go off the cuff with our ideas so that it is more natural for our listeners.

Opened up

open up can mean different things depending on the topic.

  • It can mean to open a door for example.
    • Open up the window and let some air in.
  • It can also mean to start to talk more about yourself and how you feel.
    • If you don’t open up about how you’re feeling, you will never start feeling better.
  • It can mean to become available to new things.
    • Living abroad has really opened her up to new experiences. 
  • Here, Clare is asking Annie if she has been literally out on the street lately since COVID has had everyone inside their homes for so long.
    • I’m having a hard time getting my parents to open up and get outside ever since COVID started.

Floating around

Floating around has two slightly different meanings.

  • If something is floating around it is not far away but you cannot see exactly where.
    • She let the balloon go and it is floating around somewhere outside.
  • If an idea or story floats around, it is repeated by a lot of people.
    • The fact that he is running for governor has been floating around for months.  

Come out of

  • This refers to what we can extract from a situation. It’s the result of a situation.
    • The best thing to come out of me losing my job was finding this new one. I’m much happier now.

Going back

There are three different definitions for this phrasal verb.

  • to return to a place or time.
    • I’d like to go back to when my kids were little again.
  • To be returned.
    • When do the library books need to be returned?
  • To have existed since a certain time.
    • The Cathedral goes back to the 15th century.


There are two definitions for walk through.

  • To check on something in order to find possible problems.
    • I did a walk-through of the school to see what it was like before I enrolled my children there.
  • Giving a detailed explanation of something.
    • Let me walk you through the instructions.

Phrasal verbs from minute 1 – 3.30

Look at

  • to observe or consider something in a certain way.
    • We were looking at buying a new home, but I’ll think we will wait.
    • We were looking at the ducklings in the pond this morning.

Connect with

  • to feel a connection with someone.
    • After 20 years of not seeing each other, Annie connected with her old friend. 

Keep going

  • to continue to do something.
    • Even if you may make some mistakes, you must keep going and eventually you will speak fluently.

Get on

  • to get along. To have a good relationship with someone.
    • He doesn’t really get on with his family ever since the accident.

Bring on

To bring something on can have two different meanings.

  • a request for something to occur.
    • We asked the waiter to bring on the ice cream after we finished dinner.
  • to be the cause of something bad.
    • His lung cancer was brought on by his smoking.

Move on

Although move on has two different meanings, they are very similar.

  • to continue with something.
    • Now that you passed the B2 English test, you should move on to the next level.
  • To leave a place to go somewhere else.
    • I know you miss him, but you really need to move on.

Be/get bogged down

  • to be very busy and occupied doing something, especially something difficult.
    • They’ve been really bogged down at work since it is tax season.

Work out

There are three different meanings for work out.

  • It could mean to go to the gym and do exercise.
    • I like to work out at least 3 times a week.
  • It can also mean for something to go well.
    • I’m so glad your new job is working out for you.
  • To calculate something to find the answer.
    • I can’t work out the answer to this math problem.  

Talk about

  • to make plans to do something in the near future.
    • We are talking about going to Chicago for Christmas.

Turn someone off of something

  • to not like something anymore due to an unpleasant experience.
    • He’s turned off beer ever since he started having stomach problems.

Sink in

  • for something to be clearly understood.
    • It just doesn’t sink in that you are moving next week!

Phrasal verbs minute 3.30 – 4:45

Pick something up

  • to learn something usually without any formal training.
    • Hearing phrasal verbs in a podcast and listening to how they are naturally used with help you pick up on how to use them.
  • To obtain something.
    • I need to stop at the store and pick up some milk.

Get at

  • what someone is trying to say.
    • I think we should just be friends. What are you getting at? Are you breaking up with me?

Be on about / Go on about

  • to be talking about a certain topic in an annoying manner.
    • I am happy they had a nice vacation, but they just kept going on about it all night long.

Come up

There are three different situations in which we can use come up.

  • to move closely to someone.
    • He just came up on me and I got scared.
  • To be mentioned.
    • Your name came up yesterday at school.
  • For something to happen in an unexpected way.
    • I’m sorry I can’t make it tonight, but something has come up.  

Start with

  • first, to begin.
    • First we will start with two cups of flour and we will gradually add the sugar and butter mixture.

Come out

Come out can be used in three different situations.

  • to come out (of the closet) is often referred to LGBTQ telling their family of friends that they are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender or Queer.
    • He was very nervous about coming out to his parents but they were very understanding and comforting.
  • Come out can also mean to leave somewhere.
    • She finally came out of the bathroom after 10 minutes.
  • To go somewhere with someone, usually for a social meeting.
    • Will you come out with me tonight to see this band play?  

Run away

To run away from something can be physical or psychological.

  • to leave a place where you should be in a secret way.
    • She ran away from home when she was a teenager.
  • To avoid dealing with something difficult.
    • You can’t run away from this conversation.   

Keep up with

  • to continue to be informed about a particular topic.
    • I read The Guardian to keep up with what is happening in the world.

Tune in

  • to watch or listen to a television, radio or podcast programme.
    • Thanks for tuning in and listening to off the cuff. 

Look forward to something

  • to be happy about an upcoming event.
    • I look forward to making our upcoming podcast.

Off the cuff: An English Learning podcast: Phrasal verbs is just one way to hear them being used in a natural conversation, but now it’s time for you to give them a try! Don’t forget to stay tuned to our up-coming podcast teaching vocabulary. We are busy working on it now and hope to have it out as soon as possible.

In the mean time, have a listen to last year’s off the cuff episode about Halloween by clicking here.

Ver nuestros cursos de inglés en la escuela de idiomas de la Cámara de Comercio pinchando aquí.

off the cuff Episode 11

A learning English podcast: off the cuff

In this month’s episode of #offthecuff, a learning English podcast, we talk about experiences from #Vitoria #Madrid #Mexico where we thought people should have spoken up about what they saw instead of just being a #bystander. This July 2021 episode is full of vocabulary so check it with subtitles. A learning English podcast is a great way to learn using authentic conversations.

Vocabulary and Phrases from the first 3 minutes

  • Cat fight – an intense argument or physical fight usually between two women.
    • Yesterday two young girls for into a cat fight right in front of my house and I tried to stop them.
  • Shame on you – used to tell someone that they should be ashamed (embarrassed) of their behavior.
    • Shame on you for not helping that older woman with her groceries when her bad broke.
  • Two steps forward one leap back – used to express that we are evolving by moving forward in society but then we go backward and seem to lose some things that we have learned.
    • I feel like I took two giant steps forward with my English but then COVID hit and not I have taken a leap back.
  • Build up – a gradual increase of something
    • I haven’t told her how I feel yet, so my anger seems to just be building up and I am worried I may explode.
  • Excuse – A reason you give to explain why you have done something wrong.
    • They decided to fire him because he kept giving them one excuse after another and were fed up.
  • Peer pressure – a strong influence of a group of people who are similar to you in age or social circle, who want everyone to act as they do.
    • There is too much peer pressure on young girls to have the same hair style, clothes and body that many of them end up having some real problems with self-esteem.
  • Bullying – the behavior of a person who hurts or frightens someone smaller or less powerful, often making them do something they do not want to do.
    • Bullying has always been a problem but today kids also have to deal with online bullying which adds even more pressure.
  • Bully – the person who does the bullying
    • In many cases, the kids who are the bullies often come from unstable situations at home.

Vocabulary and phrases from the minute 3 – 5

  • To stand up to someone – to deal with someone in an effective manner.
    • They are trying to teach young kids to stand up to bullies.
  • Lynching – the act of killing someone without a legal trial, usually by hanging them. In the context of the podcast. Clare was using this expression to say that people publicly attack people for no reason.
    • They gave him a real lynching even though they weren’t sure he was the one who committed the crime.
  • Clip on the ear – a quick hit on the side of one’s head.
    • In the past, it was quite normal for a parent to give their children a clip on the ear. Today it is not so common.
  • Instilling values –to put a value or principle gradually into someone’s mind, so that it has a strong influence on the way that person thinks or behaves.
    • We try to instill values such as community and bonds between people in our children instead of technology.
  • Name and shame – a phrase used to say that someone should be called out for what they are doing and shamed for their bad behavior.
    • I saw someone stealing a wallet so I said in a loud voice, ‘That man is stealing your wallet’ . That way we could name and shame for doing it.

Vocabulary and phrases from minute 5 – the end

  • Bystanders/Onlookers – someone who is standing by watching something take place but does not take part in it.
    • As the police began to hit the man on the ground the bystanders just watched or took videos.
    • There were many onlookers for the street performers, but in the end no one gave them any money.
  • Calling someone out – when someone says out loud that someone is doing something wrong.
    • Janet and her boyfriend were fighting and she called him out about every lie he ever told her.
  • One bad apple spoils the bunch – people use this to refer to a situation where they believe one person’s negative demeanor or bad behavior can affect a whole group of people, influencing them to have a similar negative attitude or to engage in the same bad behavior.
    • Everything was fine until Jimmy came and then everyone was running around screaming. Well, you know what they say, one bad apple spoils the bunch.  
  • Down with …! – something you say, write or shout to show your opposition to someone or something.
    • Jenny always used to say ‘Down with love!’ but now she’s about to be married and is as happy as ever.
  • Feeble – weak, without energy, strength or power
    • I think the opposition party needs a stronger response to the new amendment than the feeble one they gave last night. 

If you enjoyed this month’s A learning English Podcast, check out other episodes

Off the cuff, Episode 10: a Carp load of football
Episode 10

Off the cuff, Episode 10: a Carp load of football

Learning English Podcast : Off the Cuff : A crap load of football

In Episode 10 of off the cuff, A Learning English podcast, Clare and Annie talk about #Ronaldo #UEFA #football #CocaCola and the topic of influencers. How much influence should they really have on us and on things like #LGBTQ rights? Find vocabulary and transcripts below. This Learning English podcast is a way to learn using authentic conversations.

Vocabulary from Episode 10

Vocabulary from minute 0:00 – 3:20

  • What’s on the menu today – this is a fun way of asking what the topic of the show is today. You can use it in any situation where there is a planned schedule, although it may not always be appropriate for work settings. In the example below, we want to know what the activities for the day are.
    • I know you’ve been planning this trip for months, so what’s on the menu today?
  • Obscure – not known by many people. In this case, Annie is being sarcastic, since football is well-known all over the world, particularly in Spain, where they currently reside.
    • I forgot the name of the island they are visiting. It’s some obscure place off the coast.
  • To be glued to your television – If someone is glued to their television, it means that they are very attentive to what is happening on TV.
    • I don’t watch much TV, but when the Olympics are on, I am just glued to the TV.
  • Crap load – this is a way to express a large quantity of something but in a way that shows your disapproval of the amount.
    • Those kids have a crap load of toys and yet they’re always bored.
  • 31 million – 31,000,000
    • I do not make 31 million euros a year.
  • to get/take a hit from something – this is used to say that you will be negatively impacted by what happened.
    • The economy took a huge hit from COVID.
  • to be down something, usually money – having less than you expected or usually have.
    • I lost a bet and now I’m down 100 euros.
  • to get wind of a something – to find out about something, especially a secret.
    • I don’t want my boss to get wind of my new job.

Vocabulary from minute 3:20

  • LGBTQ – Acronym used for referring to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Queer people.
    • Pride month is celebrated in order to acknowledge and support the LGBTQ community.
  • Paedophiles – People who are sexually attracted to pre-pubescent children.
    • There is a controversial online website where you can see if there is a registered paedophile living near your home.
  • God forbid – This expression is usually used to show sarcasm as Clare is doing here in the podcast. We usually use this expression to show that we think the other person is overreacting or wrong.
    • God forbid I come into work 2 minutes late because I was stuck in traffic!
  • UEFA – acronym for Union of European Football Association.
    • UEFA decided not to punish the German player who showed his support for the LGBTQ community.
  • get down on two knees – here Clare is referencing the players who supported Black Lives Matter by kneeling down on one knee. Since players may not be able to wear any kind of arm bands for Gay Pride, getting down on two knees could be an alternative. She is showing irony that one thing is ok, but not the other.

To find out more about the topics discussed today, you can find them at the following links:
NYT: Munich Wanted to Light Its Stadium in a Pride Rainbow. European Soccer Said No.
The Guardian: Hungary passes law banning LGBT content in schools or kids’ TV
Business Standard: Footballer Cristiano Ronaldo knocks off $4 billion from Coca-Cola’s value

Listen to other off the cuff: A Learning English Podcast

off the cuff Episode 9
off the cuff Episode 8

off the cuff: episode 9

off the cuff: Episode 9 – MAY we talk about education?

This month on off the cuff: Episode 9 – MAY we talk about education, we do just that. We talk about education. Have a listen.

  • to come from the perspective – to have a point of view
    • She comes from the perspective that the world is changing and so must we.
  • old habits die hard – an expression to say that it is very difficult to break habits.
    • He has been trying to quit smoking for years, but as they say, old habits die hard.
  • in a heartbeat – to do something as fast as the time it takes for your heart to beat.
    • Children learn languages in a heartbeat when they are taught in a fun and dynamic way.
  • to be zooming – the very of zoom (the popular program used for video conferencing)
    • I can’t talk to Sara right now because she is zooming with her class.
  • to google – to look something up on google.
    • I didn’t have the address so I googled it.
  • to be worth something – to not be important or interesting enough to receive a particular action.
    • I don’t think it’s worth talking to him about what happened because he is very angry.
  • antiquated language – old-fashioned or unsuitable language for modern society.
    • Many teachers teach antiquated language that is not very useful in the real world.
  • How’s it goin’? – an informal way to say hello to someone.
    • Hey Mark. It’s nice to see you. How’s it goin’?
  • Wa’s up? – an informal way to ask someone how they are doing. Short for “what is up”?
    • Hey man, wa’s up?
    • Nothing, wa’s up with you?
  • to grow as a person – to mature and learn from experience.
    • Learning a language helps you grow as a person because you learn to listen.
  • hence – the reason or explanation for something.
    • We needed a name that was easy to say in Spanish and English, hence we chose Lucia.
  • to change the chip – to change one idea or way of thinking for a different one.
    • We need to change the chip on how we learn languages.
  • mere – used to emphasize how strongly someone feels about something or how extreme a situation is.
  • The mere fact that you asked me that question means you were listening to me at all!
  • hot-desking – a way of saving office space in which workers do not have their own desk and are only given a desk when they need it.
    • By hot-desking we are able to save a lot of money on rent space.
  • a shift – when something moves or changes from one position or direction to another
    • There needs to be a shift in the way we think about learning and education.
  • something doesn’t sit right – when something feels uncomfortable or incorrect.
    • There is something about this situation that doesn’t sit right with me.
  • to be open to criticism – able and willing to accept negative feedback about yourself or your work without reacting overly emotionally.
    • Please let us know what you think about the podcast. We are open to criticism.
  • utility – the usefulness of something, especially in a practical way.
    • We are discussing the utility of learning such things as names of rivers or specific dates now that information is readily available on the internet.

Now that you’ve listened to off the cuff: Episode 9 – MAY we talk about education?, listen to more of our episodes.
Click here to listen to off the cuff: Episode 8 – Spring has sprung

off the cuff episode 8: spring has sprung

off the cuff: Episode 8: Spring has sprung

The spring has come
The flowers’s ris
I wonder where the birdies is
The people say they’re on the wing
But that’s absurd
I always thought the wing was always on the bird.


  • On the wing – migrating
  • Sesame StreetBarrio Sesamo
  • Calving  – referring to spring time when cows give birth to
  • Lambing  –  the time in spring when sheep give birth to lambs calves.
  • Kooky – Strange
  • To set on fire – to cause something or someone to start burning
  • Fatalities –  a death caused by accident or on purpose
  • Sechseläuten (Switzerland Spring festival)  – a Swiss spring festival where they burn a stuffed snowman to highlight the beginning of spring. Learn more here:
  • Hollowed out – to make an empty apace inside something
  • Polish decorative eggs
  • Mass – a religious ceremony that often takes place in a church.
  • The Stations of the Cross – a series of 14 pictures showing the last days of the life of Jesus Christ which are put up on the walls inside many Roman Catholic Churches. To do the Stations of the Cross, the story about the 14 pictures was told during a mass.
  • Good Friday –  The Friday before Easter Sunday
  • Black Friday – In Ireland, people would call Good Friday, ‘Black Friday’ since they were not allowed to drink and bars were closed.  
  • Nonsensical  –  an action or behavior that is not logical 
  • Take precedent over – to be more important than something else
  • Economically sound – to not waste money, to be economically good for someone or something
  • To have a black cloud over your head – an idiom to express irritation, disturbance or feelings of misfortune
  • Guilt – a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong
  • Easter lily – a flower (cala in Spanish) that was worn on Easter day to commemorate those that died during the 1916 uprising in Ireland. Learn more here:
  • Stickies – people who wore stickers (pegatinas) to represent themselves as part of the Sinn Féin political party. Learn more here
  • Sinn Féin – In Irish, Sinn Féin means ‘We Ourselves’ or ‘Ourselves Alone’. They are a left wing political party in Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland who strive to end the political partition of the island of Ireland. Learn more here:,of%20Ireland%20and%20Northern%20Ireland.
  • In favor of – in support of
  • Pin – a small thin piece of metal with a point at one end, especially used to hold something temporarily in place
  • 1916 uprising – Also known as the Easter Rising or Easter Rebellion – a six day battle where the Irish Republicans aimed to establish an independent Irish Republic against the British rule. Learn more here  
  • Politicized – to make something or someone political
  • Explicit – clear and exact
  • Cimburijada – Bosnian spring celebration – Bosnians in Zeneca share scrambled eggs by the river to celebrate new life. Learn more here:  
  • That wraps it up – to finish something successfully
off the cuff, episode 7: The elephant in the room

off the cuff: The elephant in the room

Que quiere decir el ‘Elephant in the room’? ¿Por que tintan el río de Chicago verde este mes? ¿De donde viene St. Patrick? Todas las respuestas y más en este episodio de #offthecuff


  • March Madness- the time period in March when the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) college basketball tournament takes place in the US.
  • The ides of March – March 15, best known as the day Julius Cesar was assassinated
  • The elephant in the room – an obvious problem that no one wants to talk about
  • To march – to walk through the streets, usually to protest something.
  • Lockdown – an emergency situation where people are not allowed to leave. See episode 1 of off the cuff.
  • To feel at ease – to feel relaxed or comfortable with someone or about something.
  • Amnesty Day – to not have to follow a rule or law for that day. See episode 6 of off the cuff
  • St. Patrick’s Day – a day to celebrate the Irish Patron Saint (Patrick) who brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • Parades – to walk or march somewhere, usually as part of a public celebration.
  • Dye – to change the color of something using a specific liquid
  • Punishment – to make someone do something they don’t want to do because they have done something wrong
  • Gaelic – a Celtic language spoken by some people in Ireland and an official language of the Republic of Ireland
  • Famine – A situation in which there is not enough food for a large amount of people, causing illness and death
  • To find your roots – to find your family origins, the place they came from and the customs that they held in order to feel connected to them.
  • Blow something away – to be very surprised by something
  • Rowdy – noisy and possibly violent
off the cuff: a month of Tuesdays

off the cuff: A month of Tuesdays

This month on #offthecuff we explore the similarities that many religions do to prepare for their celebrations, such as fasting, but most importantly, we discover that February is really just a month of Tuesdays. Listen to find out what we mean and check the long list of vocabulary below.

  • Nippy – when the air is cold.
  • A different ballgame – an American phrase meaning that two things are very different from one another
  • If you say so – Here this expression is being used to say that since the speaker doesn’t know the answer, they trust what the other person has said.
  • Savory- Salty or spicy, but not sweet.
  • Pancake Tuesday – A holiday in Ireland that is the day before Ash Wednesday where people eat a lot of pancakes in preparation for their fast during Lent.
  • Ash Wednesday – A Roman Catholic holy day where palm ashes from the previous year are put on the forehead in a shape of a cross to mark the beginning of Lent.
  • Lent – a six week period leading up to Easter. This usually involves fasting and giving something up in preparation for Easter.
  • Shrove Tuesday – The name given to the day before Ash Wednesday by the Christian community which is usually used for prayer or confession.
  • To fast – to not eat a certain food for a period of time  
  • Judaism – The name of the religion of Jewish people
  • Cleansing – to clean yourself emotionally or rid yourself of something unpleasant.
  • Stuff yourself – to eat too much
  • To give up something – to stop doing something
  • Amnesty – a fixed period of time where you are not punished for doing something wrong.
  • Saint Patrick’s Day – A holiday to celebrate the life of Saint Partick (March 17th) who is Ireland’s Patron Saint who was thought to have brought Christianity to Ireland.
  • To be gypped – To be cheated, to get less than you paid for.
  • Dry January – A fast where people give up alcohol for the month of January.
  • Trendy – modern and with the latest fashions
  • Fad diets – a diet that is very famous for a short period of time.
  • To impose something on someone – to force someone to do something
  • Burnout – having no energy or enthusiasm because you have been working too hard or living in a stressful situation for a long time (in a pandemic, for example)

off the cuff – Thanksgiving and Black Friday

We are back! Last week we talked about Halloween and today we talk about some myths about Thanksgiving and the origins of Black Friday. Listen, check the vocabulary below and enjoy!


Thanksgiving – Día de Acción de Gracias Fast forward – move forward quickly
Myth – something that people say but may not be true Crashing stock market – the value of the all tradable investments fail
pilgrims – the first people from England
to move to the US
Change the narrative- change the story that people know and hear
Mayflower- the name of the boat the
pilgrims came on
Black Friday – The day after Thanksgiving when all the Christmas sales begin
harvest- the time to collect food from the
Christmas season- The time dedicated to celebrating Christmas
whitewashing – an attempt to stop people finding out the true facts about a situation Stuff your face – eat too much
in any way, shape or form – in any way at all Retail – the act of selling goods to the public
disease – and illness caused by infection or
failure of health
Retail therapy – the act of buying things for yourself in order to feel better when you areunhappy

Off the cuff – Episode 3: Halloween!

One of Clare and I´s favorite times of year is Halloween. We love the holiday, but also the smells and colors of autumn. Listen to our third podcast where we try to explain some of the misconceptions about Halloween. Read below to find out what a misconception is and learn more vocabulary.


Misconceptions – idea equivocada  
Pitch dark – oscuridad total
trick or treat – truco trato
costume – disfraz
sinister – siniestro
play a trick on someone – gastar una broma
elderly – mayores
goodies – dulces
coin – moneda
pennies – un centimo en EEUU
barmbrack – un pan típico de Irlanda
savory-sweet – agri-dulce
Askance – de reojo
pea – guisante

ring – anillo  
rag – trapo   
risk – riesgo
loved ones – seres queridos  
flavor – sabor
lack – falta
death – la muerte
elaborately – detalladamente
mezcal – liquor típico del sur de México
autumn – otoño
neighbors –vecinos
to go commercial – hacerlo al grande
to dress up – ponerse un disfraz
carve pumpkins – esculpir calabazas
turnips – nabos

Trail of Tears

This American Life: Trail of Tears

I’ve posted podcasts from this American Life before. I think they do an excellent job telling stories. This one is told by two sisters who take a road trip to learn about the history of their Native-American ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears.

Between 1838 and ’39, the US army uprooted 16,000 people from their homes, rounded them up in stockades, and marched them across the country. 4,000 died. Click here to learn more about the story. Remember, at the top of the webpage you have the option of reading the transcripts while listening. Enjoy!

off the cuff

Off the cuff – Episode 2: Staycation

Off the cuff: Episode 2: Staycation


Staycation – a holiday that you take at home or near your home
rest – relax
to turn out that way – to end up as
offspring – children
exotic – different and interesting
tick things off – mark down that you have completed a task or visited a place on your list
there’s a lot to be said for… – it’s a good idea with good reasons
day outings – a day trip
it all makes sense – everything is clear
overwhelming – large or strong feeling
apps – applications
shades of tan – different colors of skin after being in the sun