43 WORKING OUT – podcast episode 43 – transcript

Which activities do you do to KEEP IN SHAPE ?
Here’s our new episode, it’s about DOING PHYSICAL EXERCISE.

Enjoy!  🙂   Marta

Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:  http://info40650.podomatic.com/entry/2013-03-02T03_54_01-08_00


M:  This episode is about  WORKING OUT !

C: Hello everybody!  It’s very important to maintain a healthy lifestyle.  We all need to have regular check-ups, we need to eat a healthful diet and to exercise.

M:   DOING PHYSICAL EXERCISE not only helps us to STAY FIT,  it also improves our emotional well-being.

C :  It’s true,  it helps us burn off stress.   In this episode you’ll learn a lot of vocabulary about EXERCISING and STAYING FIT.  But don’t worry, Marta and I have no intention of turning you into FITNESS FREAKS.

M: …into…what?

C:  a “fitness freak”  is someone obsessed with fitness, almost addicted to going to the gym.  J

M: ok, I understand.   Now, back to our episode, where do we start from?

C:  from the word “SHAPE”.  TO BE IN GOOD SHAPE or BAD SHAPE.  For example:  James goes running three times a week, he’s in good shape.  Meaning: He’s healthy and fit.

M:   He’s in good shape.  Ok.

C:   Or TO STAY / TO KEEP / TO GET IN SHAPE.   For example:  Susan is a little overweight, she has just started going to the gym, I’m sure she will get in shape very soon.  Or:   Mary goes hiking every weekend, that’s how she keeps in shape.

M :  Ok,  got it.  What kind of activities can we do to stay in shape?

C :   Watch out,  because to describe those activities in English we use three different verbs:  TO DO,  TO GO and TO PLAY.

M :  Let’s start with to do.

C :  For example:  to do yoga,  to do karate,  to do aerobics…

M :  To play?

C :  to play sports,  like in :  to play volleyball, to play baseball,  to play soccer,  to play tennis,  to play golf…

M :  to go?

C :  to go hiking,  to go swimming,  to go jogging,  to go bike riding or to go cycling,  to go skiing,  to go for a walk and  to go to the gym.

M :  How about the word “WORKOUT” ?

C :  to WORK OUT means to do physical exercise,  so what you do is a workout.

M :  to work out.  Ok.

C :  For example:  Ted is in really bad shape.  He needs to go to the gym and work out.

M :  Ok, what could this Ted do in the gym TO GET HIMSELF BACK INTO SHAPE?

C :  well, first of all, he could lay off the cheeseburgers…  🙂

M: …after that

C: Well, Ted could start with some WARM UP exercises.

M :  warm up exercises?

C :  when you do warm up exercises…or we could just call it a “warm up” you get your body ready for exercise,  for example by stretching, by doing a light workout on an EXERCISE BIKE,  by walking on a TREADMILL…

M :  wait, wait,  the exercise bike is the stationary bike we use indoors, like the exercise bike you gave me and now I have in my apartment and use quite often,  but what is a treadmill?

C :  the treadmill is that piece of equipment we use to walk or run while staying in place,  because we run on a moving belt.  I have one in my office, I love it!

M :  ok,  back to our Ted who’s trying to get fit,  what could he do after his warm-up session?

C :   Eat lettuce….  🙂

M: Hmm, good idea, but maybe he could do something more?

C: He could DO SIT-UPS and PUSH-UPS.

M :  can you explain that please?

C :  Sure, ok, Marta, lay on the floor.

M :  what?

C :  Lay down on the floor, on your back, with your legs bent.

M :  Cindy, are you my personal trainer or what??

C :  come on, Marta.  (sound of whistle blowing) On the floor. Sacrifice yourself for our podcast and our listeners. Do it for the sake of your art!

M :  all right. There, ok, give me a second, there, I’m lying flat on my back.

C :  now lift up almost to a sitting position then lie back down again,  over and over again, ok, good.  You’re DOING SIT-UPS.  You’re actually strengthening your abdominals, or your “stomach muscles”.

M :  (shortness of breath)  ok, what’s next, boss?

C :   now lie face down on the floor, put your hands on the floor under your shoulders.  Ok, now push your body up and let it down slowly.  Great, you’re DOING PUSH-UPS.   Keep going, Marta, keep your back straight,  come on,  18, 19, 20, 21….

M :  (shortness of breath)  hey hey, wait a second,  don’t you think our listeners have already understood what push-ups are??!

C :  yes,  but I’m beginning to like being a personal trainer…  Now, Marta, let’s move on to WEIGHT LIFTING.   Ok. Here are your weights.

M :  do I really have to do this?

C :  Yes, weren’t you the one talking about how physical exercise is important for our well-being at the beginning of this episode?

M :  ok, but you said that too.

C :  right,  aren’t you happy that I’m this concerned about your well-being??!?

M :  ok, ok,  I’ll lift weights,  but you have to go on with the episode and tell our listeners other useful vocabulary and idioms.

C :  No problem, all right. Here’s another way of saying to lift weights : to PUMP IRON.

M :  to pump iron.  (desperately out of breath)  like …what I’m doing…right now?

C : lifting weights over and over again -combined with a healthful diet- until you look like the female version of The Rock, Dwayne Johnson.   That’s to pump iron.

M :  oh, my!  I surrender, I just can’t keep going…

C :  ok, Marta,  do some stretching now while I explain the verb TO WORK OFF.  That means to work out in order to lose weight.  For example:   Jennifer is on a diet but she had a rich dessert at lunch.  Tonight she is going swimming to work off that dessert.  Or:  with the workout done during this episode Marta has worked off a few pounds.

M :  I hope so!   And talking about losing weight, can you explain the idiom: TO HAVE A SPARE TIRE?

C : If you have a spare tire you have fat accumulated around your waist,  a sort of roll of flesh. To have a spare tire, this idiom gives quite a visual, doesn’t it?

M : it does.  🙂

C :  so, for example,  Kate is getting a spare tire, she decided to go on a diet and work out in order to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

M :  Well, listeners,  that’s all for now.  We hope you are all in good shape.

C :  if not, we wish you to get yourself back into shape soon.


C: Thank you for listening our podcast on iTunes and on podomatic!  Thank you for liking our Facebook page, for following us on twitter, for watching our videos on youtube and for visiting our website:  www.myamericanfriendblog.com

M : We’ve had an incredible number of downloads from Vietnam lately and also from China, Japan, South Korea.

C : We’d like to send out a special thank you to our new listeners from Asia,  we welcome you into the “my American friend” family!  We’ll be waiting for your comments and suggestions for future episodes.

M :  And a heartfelt thank you to all our old friends as well! See you soon,  bye bye!

42 TO HEAR vs TO LISTEN – podcast episode 42 – transcript

What’s the difference between the verbs TO HEAR and TO LISTEN ?

Enjoy!  🙂   Marta

Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:  



M – to HEAR vs to LISTEN.  We’re dealing with PERCEPTION VS INTENTION.  (sound of phone ringing)…. Uh… Have you heard that sound, Cindy?  Is that your phone ringing?


C – Yes, it is.  Sorry, Marta,  I need to take this call.


M –  No problem.


C – Hello?  Hello? Honey, can you hear me?  Honey? I’m afraid it’s a very bad line,  I can hardly hear your voice,  can you repeat that?  Wait a second… ok, now I can hear you very well. Uh uh… you took the car to the garage… is it ok now? Ok. Go ahead, I’m listening. I’m all ears. Oh, I see, you need my credit card for the bill… mmmm… how much is it?  (gasping)… Honey? I’m afraid I can’t hear you anymore….hello?   (hanging up).


M – How come that you couldn’t hear the voice exactly when they told you the total amount you’re supposed to pay?


C –  Cell phones! :))  Com’on,  let’s move on with this episode.  Here’s a good example to understand the difference between to hear and to listen:    I was listening to my favorite song at full volume when I heard my neighbors knocking on the door.    Marta, can you comment?


M – well, you’d better use earphones.  :)))   Your neighbors shouldn’t complain, though,  you have good taste in music,  I’m sure it was a great song.


C – It was! Anyway, about to listen vs to hear?


M –  You were listening to your favorite song, intentionally, actively, when you heard your neighbors knocking,  you heard a sound unintentionally, you just heard it, without wanting to.


C – Exactly.   Another example: imagine there’s a football game on TV, let’s say….Miami Dolphins VS San Francisco 49ers.


M  –  Wow,  my husband would be excited about that!


C –  Now try and tell him something important while he’s watching his favorite football team playing.


M –  Hey, darling, I have great news!   (game commentary on the TV….)  Babe… did you hear what I’ve just said?  I have great news!!


F – …what? Oh, sorry, Marta, I wasn’t listening.


M –  are you listening now?


F – Sure, baby,  I’m all ears.  (TV :  touch down Miami…)  touch down!!  Touch down Miami !!


C –  Yeah, that’s just the way it goes!   “Did you hear what I said?  I’m sorry, I wasn’t listening.”   It’s not your fault, Marta,  it’s the power of American football.


M –  It’s ok.   Now how about using a few songs?


C –  Sure, let’s start with Adele   “I heard that you settled down….”


M –  In this sentence “I heard” means:   I got to know,  I found out,  I was told that…


C –  For example:  “Have you heard that Jane got married last month?”   Or   “I heard that you got promoted,  congratulations!”


M –  ok,  here’s another song:  “I heard it through the grapevine”


C –  “I heard it through the grapevine”,  it means:  I heard a rumor,  people are talking about it, so that’s how I got to know about it.


M –  And now Beyoncé :  “Listen!!”


C – Beyoncé must be angry with someone there.  If you say: Listen to me!  you’re demanding attention.   (phone ringing)  hang on just a minute Marta, oh, it’s the mechanic calling, the car must be finished.  Just a moment, I need to take this call.
…Hello?  Yes…how much? Are you f***ing kidding me?  How much? That’s a $100 job and you want how much?  No, you LISTEN to me!  I’ll be there in one hour and we’ll talk about it when I get there.


M  –  Cindy,  you scare me   :))


C – Did you hear that?


M –  Yes, I was listening!


C – Well, I’m gonna give the garage something to listen to when we’re done here.



M – And actually, we’re done here.   Ok, everybody,  we hope we helped you understand the difference between to HEAR and to LISTEN,  perception vs intention.


C – Now LISTEN UP, I’m about to tell you our website address:  www.myamericanfriendblog.com

We’ve uploaded more than 40 episodes so far…


M – And if you haven’t heard our previous episodes, HAVE A LISTEN!


C – You can hear us on youtube, podomatic and iTunes.  We’re also on Twitter and be sure to like us on Facebook.


M-  Bye bye!

41 SICK – podcast episode 41 – transcript

Are you feeling “UNDER THE WEATHER” ?   Here’s our new episode about being “SICK”.  

Learn new expressions such as:  TO CATCH A COLD,  a RUNNY NOSE,  TO FEEL LIGHT HEADED.

Wishing everybody a happy and healthy day!  🙂   Marta


Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:   http://info40650.podomatic.com/entry/2013-01-23T03_51_15-08_00


M- Today we’re talking about being SICK.

M- Hi Cindy!

C- Hi Marta! How are you today?

M- I’m great, thanks! And you?

C- Feeling great! And I’m so thankful too, because it seems as if everyone has a cold right now! Everywhere I go people are coughing, sneezing and blowing their noses!

M- It’s this crazy weather- it’s sunny on Monday…

C- ….and snowing on Tuesday!  You’re right. I always seem to CATCH A COLD when the weather changes from one season to another. My nose acts as a sort of barometer!

M- So let’s talk a bit today about being sick.

C- That will be useful because a lot of people are feeling ‘’UNDER THE WEATHER’’ right now.

M- They’re feeling ‘’under the weather’’ .

C- That means they’re feeling a little bad, not well, a bit sick. First, let’s organize our discussion by parts of the body. We’ll start with the head. If your head hurts, that’s called a ‘’HEADACHE’’.

M- But what if your headache is really strong?

C- A strong headache is called a ‘’MIGRAINE’’ and it’s terrible. Migraine headaches can cause dizziness, blurred vision (that means your eyes don’t see well), nausea & sensitivity to light.

M- A migraine. Got it. What about ear problems?

C- Well, if your ear hurts- that’s an EARACHE …which can develop into an ear infection. Pay careful attention to ear pain and see a doctor if it worsens.

M- What about when something irritates your nose, and you need to keep ‘’blowing your nose’’?

C- Then you have a ‘’RUNNY NOSE’’. That can be caused by all kinds of irritants like dust & pollen. Or maybe you’ve caught a ‘’HEAD COLD’’.  A head cold is when your whole head just feels bad. You may have a headache, sore throat, sneezing and a  cough.

M- Good times!

C- I caught a head cold a few months ago and I blew my nose through the entire month of September!
Let’s see, what else can we talk about? If you feel a little dizzy, you can also say ‘’I FEEL LIGHT HEADED’’.

M- I feel light headed. That means ‘’I feel dizzy’’. Alright.

C- If your neck hurts, maybe because you have slept the night before in a bad position, then you can say


M- I have a stiff neck.

C- Ok, let’s move a little lower down the body. If you feel a little nauseous, if your stomach feels bad, you can say ‘’I feel a little QUEASY’’. That means you feel nauseous.

M- And if your back hurts?

C- Like mine does right now?  Then you have a BACKACHE. Or maybe it’s just a STIFF BACK and when you move around and get some exercise then your back will loosen up and feel better.

M- How about an expression related to mood?

C- Sure. If you’re feeling a little depressed, you can say ‘’I’m feeling BLUE’’, we’ve talked about that in a previous episode. You can also say ‘’I’M NOT MYSELF TODAY’’.

M- I’m not myself today. Got it.

C- ‘’I’m not myself today’’ can refer to your mood or your physical self. It can either mean you are a little depressed, or you’re not feeling well.

M- Ok, give us an example. Cindy, how are you today?

C- Oh, I’m not myself today. I guess I’m a little tired. Tonight, I’ll be sure to go to bed early.

M- Let’s move on to the rest of the body.

C- Okay, muscle contractions in the legs are pretty common. They’re very painful and usually (thankfully) don’t last long. When a muscle painfully contracts, for example from sitting in an uncomfortable position for too long, we call that a ‘’CRAMP’’.

M- When a muscle contracts and causes pain- that’s called a ‘’cramp’’.

C- Right, muscle contractions can cause cramps, but when we overextend a muscle that’s called a ‘’PULLED’’ MUSCLE.

M- Can you give us an example?

C- Sure. I tried to lift the sofa by myself, and I pulled a muscle in my back. The next time I move that heavy sofa, I will surely ask another person for help.

M- What if we injure a joint, but it’s not broken?

C- If we overextend, or twist a joint, that’s called a ‘’SPRAIN’’. It’s very painful and you may have swelling, but nothing is broken.

M- Sprained ankles are very common.

C- You can sprain your ankle playing basketball. You can sprain your knee  while dancing. You can sprain your wrist  while playing tennis. There are lots of ways to sprain your joints. Marta, have you ever sprained a joint?

M –  No, I haven’t.

C – Lucky you!


C- Thanks for listening everyone! Marta & I want to wish everyone a HAPPY & HEALTHY day! Take good care of each other, be good to each other and we hope to hear from you real soon.

M- Stop by today and say hello on our Facebook page!

C- Or on our blog at www.myamericanfriendblog.com. We’re also on iTunes, Podomatic, Twitter and YouTube. Take care everyone and thanks for listening!

M- Thanks everyone! Bye bye!



1. ”….feeling under the weather.”- to feel a bit sick, not quite well, tired, the feeling you have just before you catch a cold, to feel run down.

EXAMPLE: Everyone in my office is sick with the flu. Today I am feeling a little under the weather. I feel very tired and I have a sore throat.


2. Headache- head pain as a result of many causes like stress, illness, loud noise, bright light, eye strain, injury…etc… Headaches can have many origins.

EXAMPLE: Please turn the volume down on your stereo! That loud music is giving me a headache!


3. Migraine- a very strong, painful headache.


4. Blurred vision/Blurry vision- out of focus, not clear, fuzzy

EXAMPLE: A migraine headache can be accompanied by nausea, blurred vision and sensitivity to light.


5. Earache/Ear infection- ear pain/infection in the ear canal

EXAMPLE: An ear infection should be taken seriously. If you have ear pain you should visit a doctor for treatment.


6. Runny nose- irritation of the nose causing it ”to run” . Many things can cause a ”runny nose” like dust, pollen, pet fur or illness

EXAMPLE: I love cats but unfortunately I’m allergic to cat fur. Every time I visit my sister’s house, I always leave with a runny nose. Her cat is adorable but it makes me sneeze!


7. Head cold- common cold causing you to have a runny nose, sore throat, cough, headache and fatigue

EXAMPLE: I always catch a head cold in October when the weather begins to change from warm & sunny to cold & rainy.


8. To feel ”light headed”- to feel dizzy

EXAMPLE: I’m afraid of heights. I always feel light headed when I’m up too high.


9.  To have a stiff neck- pain in your neck, usually as a result of strained muscles, for example, from keeping your head turned to one side for too long, sleeping in a bad position, or cold temperatures

EXAMPLE: Last night, I fell asleep on my couch and awoke the next morning with a stiff neck. I took a hot shower and now the pain has subsided and I feel much better.


10. to feel a little ”queasy”- to feel a bit nauseous

EXAMPLE: I can’t stand horror movies! The sight of all that blood makes me feel queasy! I prefer funny movies instead.


11. to have a ”stiff” back- to have a sore back, mild back pain

EXAMPLE: I must purchase a new mattress for my bed. My old mattress is old and worn out. It’s too soft and it sags in the middle. Every morning I wake up with a stiff back.


12. Feeling blue- feeling a little down, depressed, in a sad mood

EXAMPLE: My brother has been feeling blue all day- it’s because his favorite football team lost the Super Bowl Championship! And I’m happy because my favorite team WON! 🙂


13. I’m not myself today- I’m in a bad mood today, I’m not feeling well today, I have a lot of stress/problems and I’m unfocused (this expression can be used for many things)

EXAMPLE: I’m sorry, I’m not myself today. I’m a bit tired and I think I’m catching a cold. I have a headache today. Tonight I will be sure to go to bed early and get a good night’s rest.


14. Muscle cramp- a strong contraction of a muscle, causing pain.

The marathon runner suffered a muscle cramp in his leg at the end of the race. Unfortunately, he could not finish and had to drop out.


15. Pulled muscle- to over extend a muscle, causing pain

Yesterday, I pulled a muscle in my back. I was at the gym and I tried to lift a weight that was too heavy for my body.


16. Sprain- to twist or bend a joint beyond its normal range of motion, causing pain or injury.

My brother tripped on the basketball court and sprained his ankle. The doctor said it was not a serious injury. He’s in a lot of pain, but nothing is broken. He’s keeping it elevated. The doctor said he must put ice on it to keep the swelling down.

40 HURRY UP, SLOW DOWN – podcast episode 40 – transcript

HURRYING UP  vs  SLOWING DOWN.  Here’s a lot of new expressions included in our brand new episode:

“Shake a leg!” , “to be in a mad rush” , “simmer down!”, “to be under the gun”  and many more.

Here’s the transcript.

Enjoy!  🙂   Marta

Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:  http://info40650.podomatic.com/entry/2012-12-21T06_16_05-08_00


M – Today we’re talking about  HURRYING UP and SLOWING DOWN !


M- Hi, Cindy! How are you today?

C- I’m IN A BIG RUSH today. I’m IN A HURRY. We have to MOVE QUICKLY.

M- oh, really? WHAT’S THE RUSH?

C- Yeah, sorry but we’re going to have to MOVE IT ALONG today. I’ve got to pack my suitcase for my trip back to America.

M- Cindy, CHILL OUT, RELAX. SLOW DOWN. You still have an entire week before you fly back to America.

C- I like to be prepared.

M- ok, TAKE IT EASY…you’ll be out of here IN NO TIME. Don’t worry.

C- Thank you, I’m IN A MAD RUSH today.  I’m really PRESSED FOR TIME. There’s so much to do before leaving and the days are just FLYING BY.

M- Hmm…I’m sure you have a lot to do.

C- Oh, you have no idea!

M- Alright, just SIMMER DOWN. Don’t get nervous.

C- Ok, so LET’S GET CRACKING. Let’s get started with the podcast. CHOP CHOP!

M- (silence)

C- Come on…. SHAKE A LEG! LET’S GET MOVING. How do you turn this mic on?

M- Why are you trying to skip out on me? Why are you so anxious to leave?

C- I’M UNDER THE GUN today…I’ve got a lot of pressure on me.

M- You’re under the gun?

C- Yes…and I need to be out of here IN JIFFY. I need to leave soon.

M- Okay, SETTLE DOWN, CALM DOWN…go put your feet up and chill for a second. Relax, while I get everything readyC- Ok.

M- It’s a beautiful day today. Go look outside the window and enjoy the clouds or something.   .    (Ok, let me fix this thing here…ok, the wire,  here, ok… the volume…)

C- Are you ready?

M- No! Go sit down! What’s your problem today?

C- I’m sorry, but I have a train to catch!

M- You’ve been trying to dash out of the studio AT BREAKNECK SPEED since you got here….

C- YES! BREAKNECK speed- that means I have to go very quickly! And you just keep on talking….

M- Wait…wait a second… you have to catch a train???

C- Yes.

M- Before, you said that you had to pack your suitcase for America!

C- Oh did I? I do…have to pack my suitcase…for the train…to America.

M- There is no train from Italy to America.

C- Oh…a bus?

M- Nope.

C- Taxi?

M- Too expensive! Nice try. You’re BUSTED!

C- I’m busted! Damn!  She figured out that I was lying!

M- What’s going on? You’re lying, and I want to know why.

C- …Ok, the shoe store  at the mall is having a half-price sale.

M- What?

C- The shoe store is having a half-price sale…only for today. You can buy two pairs of shoes for the price of one pair.

M- No!? Shut up!

C- Yeah, it’s true. They even have those cool black shoes that you wanted…half-price.

M- Cindy, so why are you STANDING AROUND?

C- What?


C- huh?

M- That means: Let’s go! We’ve got shoes to buy!

C- Half-price shoes!

M- Thanks for listening everyone!

C- Thanks everyone, and be sure to take a little time and say hello to us on our blog at www.myamericanfriendblog.com! Or drop us an email at ‘’myamericanfriendpodcast@gmail.com’’- and be sure to ‘’like’’ us on Facebook. We’re also on Twitter, Youtube, Podomatic and iTunes.

M- Cindy, are you still talking?? We need to get to the mall ON THE DOUBLE!

C- ok, ok…I’m coming. Just let me get my purse!





1. I’m in a big rush today- I’m in a hurry. I have a lot to do. I have a busy schedule. I don’t have much time.


2.What’s the rush?- why are you in a hurry?


3.we’re going to have to move it along today- we have to move fast/do things/work quickly today


3. chill out-relax


4. take it easy- to relax, to calm down


5. you’ll be out of here in no time- You will be able to leave quickly, in a short period of time.


6. I’m in a mad rush- I’m in a big hurry, I must do things very quickly today, I don’t have much time.


7. I’m really pressed for time- I have little time today.


8. the days are flying by- days appear to pass very quickly, as if they are ‘’flying’’’ by


9.simmer down- calm down, don’t get excited, don’t lose your temper, relax


10. get cracking- get started quickly.

EXAMPLE: We have a lot of work to finish by the end of today, so let’s get cracking!


11. We must move quickly.

EXAMPLE: We have a 24 hour deadine to finish this project, we must move quickly.

EXAMPLE: Registration for summer classes ends January 1st. You must move quickly and sign up now, otherwise you will lose the opportunity to enroll in the summer program.


12. Chop Chop!- Hurry up!

EXAMPLE: You’re waking too slowly! Come on…chop chop! Walk faster or else we will miss the train!


13. Shake a leg- move quickly, hurry up

EXAMPLE- The movie starts at 8pm and it’s 7:30 now. Shake a leg and let’s go,otherwise we won’t be able to find a good seat.


14. To skip out- to avoid responsibility

EXAMPLE: We all agreed to share the cost of the meal, but John skipped out before the end. Barbara & Susan had to pay for his dinner.


15. to be ”under the gun”- to be under a lot of pressure

We’re all under the gun to finish this project early. Our original deadline was February 1st, but now the client has moved the deadline to January 1st! Everyone in the office is working as hard as they can to finish.


16. In a jiffy- very quickly

EXAMPLE: I’m very close to your house, I’ll be there in a jiffy. See you in 5 minutes.


17. Settle down- calm down, be quiet, relax

EXAMPLE: The students would not settle down on the last day of school. They were too excited before summer vacation.


18. to dash out- to leave quickly

EXAMPLE:  I’m sorry, I must dash out of the office early today. My daughter has a dentist appointment at 2 o’clock this afternoon.


19. at breakneck speed- at a very fast speed

EXAMPLE- That car raced through the parking lot at breakneck speed! I hope the police arrest him for reckless driving.

EXAMPLE: John ran out of the office at breakneck speed today. His wife is having a baby.


20. standing around- wasting time, non-productive, doing nothing

EXAMPLE: Will you all please get back to work, instead of standing around at the water cooler?


21. wasting time- not using time productively

EXAMPLE: You are wasting your time with John. He’s not interested in a relationship.


22. Get it in gear/ Get in gear- get organized and move quickly.

EXAMPLE: Your school grades are terrible. You’re going to have to get it in gear and study hard for the remainder of the year if you want to enroll in a good university after high school.


23. On the double- to leave quickly, immediately

EXAMPLE:  We’ll have to leave on the double if we want to be at the movie theater by 7pm.

39 HAIR – podcast episode 39 – transcript

This time we’re talking about HAIR.

Have you ever had your hair cut? trimmed? styled?

LET YOUR HAIR DOWN and enjoy this new episode!

All the best,  


Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:



M –  today we are going to talk about   HAIR

M –  …(singing) then peace will guide the planet….

C –  …Marta?  Are you ok?

M –  ….(singing) age of Aquarius…!!

C – Marta we’re not talking about the musical, we’re talking about HAIR in general.

M – uh, ok….   hey, speaking of hair,  you’re a redhead now, Cindy!

C –  yes,  I’ve been blonde forever and I decided to shake things up a bit.

M –  well, you look great and you also provided us with a topic for a new episode: Hair!   First of all ‘’hair’’ is UNCOUNTABLE in English.  This is a special reminder for Italian listeners in particular.  For example:  ‘’My hair IS dark brown.’’

C –  actually, Marta,  your hair is dark brown and blue.

M –  You’re right.  I have blue HIGHLIGHTS, my fringe is blue.  Anyway, what I was trying to say was:  my hair IS.

C –  You’re right,  I noticed Italians tend to say “my hair are”,  but that’s not correct in English.  For instance my hair is curly.  Or: my hair was blonde and now my hair is red.  I had my hair colored.

M –  and that’s another important point to remember: CAUSATIVE VERBS!   For example:  I HAD MY HAIR CUT. 

C –  Yes, that means:  I went to the hairdresser and they took care of my hair.  I did not cut my hair myself.  So : I had my hair cut.

M –  Right.

C –  Other examples could be :  I had my hair styled,  I had my hair curled,  I had my hair straightened,  I had my hair trimmed.

M – Clear.

C –  Marta,  have you ever had your hair cut in The States?

M –  No, I haven’t.

C –  Ok, let’s pretend I’m a super-trendy American hairstylist.     Good Morning Madam!  How are you today?

M- I’m fine, thank you.

C- How can I help you?

M –  I need to have my hair cut, you know, to remove the split ends.

C –  Would you like to try a new style?

M – Not really, just trim the ends and fix the BANGS please.

C –  Just a TRIM?  C’mon I’m a super-trendy hairstylist. People wait months for an appointment with me! Ugh, all right.  I can see your hair has a natural wave,   how about a ‘’BLOW OUT’’ (that means straightened) then arranged into a nice PONYTAIL? That would bring out your beautiful blue FRINGE even more.

M – Ok.  That sounds nice. Thank you.

C –   That will be $259.

M –  Are you kidding me?

C –  Plus taxes.   I’m a great hairstylist, not to mention a podcast superstar.

M –  ok, now I get it,  not only you’re a redhead now,  you’re big-headed!

C –  no, I was just horsing around.   Now, back to hair:  I know a few good hair-related idioms.

M – go ahead.

C –  TO SPLIT HAIRS. For example:  it was a pointless debate,  both candidates kept splitting hairs instead of going straight to the core of the matter.

M – to split hairs.  That means : overcomplicating things.  Ok. Got it.

C – and what if I say:  Marta, LET YOUR HAIR DOWN!

M –  does it refer to the ponytail you wanted to charge me $259 for?

C –  259 USD.  no,  to ‘’let your hair down’’  means to  relax,  to let yourself go.

M –  to ‘’let your hair down.’’

C –  another idiom is:  IT MADE MY HAIR STAND ON END !   it could have both a positive and a negative meaning.  For example:   the earthquake made my hair stand on end, it was really frightening!    But also:   that singer is amazing, when she strikes those high notes she makes my hair stand on end.


M –    Ok, that’s all for now.  Everybody check out the transcript of this episode on our website:   you’ll find a list of useful hair-related vocabulary with relevant definitions.


M –  love that!

C –  salt and pepper hair?

M –  I find men with salt and pepper hair to be very hot.

C- George Clooney is a perfect example of a man with Salt & Pepper hair. His hair is gray & black. It’s Salt & Pepper-colored.

M- George Clooney is a perfect example. Period.

C –  How about you, listeners?  Let us know your favorite hair styles!  We want to hear all about it. Get in contact with us on http://www.myamericanfriendblog.com, on Podomatic.com,  Twitter, iTunes, Youtube and on our Facebook page where I will go ahead and post a picture of my new red hair!

Now, Marta, come with me to the sink… we need to start on your hair.

M –  what?  Just a trim for $259?  You must be nuts.

C – c’mon…you don’t trust me?  I’ll have you out of here in no time!

M- No way!

C- Alright, I’ll do it for $200

M – I’m not going anywhere! Wait! What is that?!?!      (sound of chainsaw starting)

C – C’mon!  Let’s go…but I’m warning you…for $200 I’m going to have to cut some corners



* “HAIR” is uncountable in English.  EXAMPLE: My hair IS brown, My hair IS curly, My hair is long, My hair is black.

* Causative verbs!  Example:  I had my hair cut, I had my hair styled, I had my hair permed, I had my hair straightened.

BANGS or FRINGE: The shorter hair that is cut to hang over the forehead. Not everyone wears a hairstyle with fringe or bangs.

PONYTAIL: to gather all your hair at the back of your head and tie it with elastic, so that it hangs like the ‘’tail of a pony (small horse)’’.

TRIM: To cut a small amount off your hair. EXAMPLE: I’m going to the salon to have my hair trimmed. I don’t want a drastic haircut. I want the same style I always have. The stylist will trim just a bit off the ends to keep my hair neat and healthy looking.

CONDITIONER: Product applied to hair AFTER shampoo to keep it soft, manageable and easy to brush. EXAMPLE: My hair is very dry & curly. It is very important for me to use a good conditioner every time I shampoo my hair. Without conditioner, it is impossible for me to comb my hair after washing it. Using conditioner keeps my hair soft.

HAIR-SPRAY: Spray lacquer used to keep styled hair looking perfect. EXAMPLE: Every morning, before I leave the house for work, I use extra strong hairspray to keep my hair looking nicely styled throughout the day. If I don’t use hairspray, my hair will become very flat and straight.

FLAT IRON: A heated, electric styling tool used to make hair flat, shiny & smooth.

HAIR DRYER: Styling device that blows hot or cool air, allowing you to dry your hair very quickly.

SALT AND PEPPER HAIR: Hair that is both black & gray.

SPLIT ENDS: Damaged hair causing the ends to ‘’split in two’’.

To have a ‘’blow out’’: time consuming process in which the hair is straightened using a hair dryer, brush, styling products & heated tools like a flat iron. The end result is shiny, silky, straight hair. If the hair becomes wet it will revert back to its natural texture (wavy, curly, frizzy…etc..).



TO SPLIT HAIRS: To overcomplicate an argument, discussion, debate. EXAMPLE: The two presidential candidates kept splitting hairs & wasting time by discussing unimportant topics instead of talking about the real problems facing our country.

LET YOUR HAIR DOWN: To relax. EXAMPLE: On Friday nights, after work, I always stop by the pub to have a beer with friends and let my hair down. Seeing good friends on Friday night is my favorite way to relax and start the weekend. EXAMPLE: My sister is always busy with work commitments. She never relaxes or does anything special for herself. On Saturday, I’m taking her out to lunch & shopping afterwards. At night we’ll have a nice dinner together. For once, my sister can relax and let her hair down! She deserves it.

IT MADE MY HAIR STAND ON END: it gave me chills, strong emotional response (either good or bad). EXAMPLE (bad response): That horror movie was terrifying! Why did you take me to it???? When that scary music started to play and the killer entered the room- my hair stood on end! I was so scared! I’m never going to the movies with you again!

EXAMPLE (good): Every time I see the old footage of Whitney Houston singing The Star Spangled Banner, my hair stands on end. She was an amazing talent.

To shake things up a bit– To change the normal course of things, life. EXAMPLE: I was bored of my normal every day routine, so I decided to shake things up a bit and enroll myself in Salsa Dancing classes! It’s so much fun! I’ve met some very interesting people and Salsa Dancing is great exercise.

I’m going to have to cut some corners– to do things quickly, take a shortcut, and possibly sacrifice quality in the process. EXAMPLE: My dinner party has ballooned from 4 guests to 10 guests! I don’t have time to cook enough food for 10 people. I’m going to have to cut some corners and buy a prepared roast, some vegetables and a prepared dessert at the grocery store.

I’ll have you out of here in no time- I’ll do it quickly, in a short period of time. EXAMPLE: The garage is empty today, we have no customers in the waiting room. We’ll change your oil & put new tires on the car quickly. Don’t worry, we’ll have you out of here in no time. You’ll be back to work before lunch.

You must be nuts!- You must be crazy! You must be mad! EXAMPLE: You must be nuts if you think I’m getting on that roller coaster ride with you! No way! EXAMPLE: You must be nuts if you think I’m going to another horror movie with you again! That last movie you took me to was terrifying! EXAMPLE: I can’t believe you’re eating those hot peppers! You must be nuts! Those are the hottest peppers in the world!

Horsing around– joking around, not being serious, play fighting EXAMPLE: Stop horsing around with video games and chatting with your friends Facebook… and start studying for your History exam! This grade is very important. EXAMPLE: Stop horsing around and be quiet, your father is trying to sleep and the noise is going wake him!

Big-headed: Arrogant, to have an overly high, inflated opinion of oneself. EXAMPLE: My supervisor is the most arrogant, big headed, selfish person I have ever met. She is concerned with no one but herself. If an employee has a good idea, she immediately steals the credit for it. My coworkers and I are very happy because next month she’ll transfer to another department & we’ll be free of her! EXAMPLE: I can’t stand my sister’s boyfriend. He’s just a big headed jerk. All he does is talk about himself and his car. What an idiot! The whole family will have a party when she finally decides to get rid of him.




38 ANNOYED – podcast episode 38 – transcript

This time our episode is about being ANNOYED.

“being sick and tired of….” , “I can’t take another minute of it” , “quit it! you’re bugging me!” , “Knock it off!”…

Here’s the transcript.

All the best,  


Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:



M- Today we’re talking about being ANNOYED.
M- Cindy, it’s been an exciting time in America recently because the American Presidential Elections have just ended.
C- …and thank goodness for that! I was so sick and tired of hearing about politics, I couldn’t take another minute of it! By November 6th I think we’d all had enough.
M- Well, that’s not exactly the response I had anticipated…but ok.
C- By the time Election Day rolls around, that means by the time Election Day has arrived, we’re all annoyed and completely tired of it. It’s a circus of political ads & negativity.
M- So you…
C- …me, and probably most of my fellow Americans…
M- You were all ‘’sick & tired’’ of politics? Does that mean you were physically ill?
C- No, that’s means we were exhausted, annoyed, ready for it to stop. I’ll give you another example: I’m so sick & tired of listening to my colleagues argue. I really wish they would learn to cooperate with each other.
M- And when you say ‘’I couldn’t take another minute of it’’?
C- That means I could not tolerate another minute. Here’s another example: Please turn the music down, lower the volume! That’s it! I’ve had it! I can’t stand it anymore! I can’t take another minute of thrash metal!
M- Ok! Ok! You’ve made your point!
C- Thank you! Oh! ‘’You’ve made your point’’ that’s another great expression! It means: You’ve expressed your opinion clearly, I understand what you’re saying. ‘’You’ve made your point’’. That’s a very useful expression!
M- Well, at least something good has come from all your bitching and complaining this afternoon! You’ve got a major bug up your ass today!
C- I do not!
M- Yes, you do!
C- Do not!…oh wait a minute, let’s elaborate on that more, otherwise everyone will think I’m suffering an infestation of insects! ☺
M- Good idea! Let me repeat: You’ve got a MAJOR BUG UP YOUR ASS TODAY!
C- Thank you, Marta …and by the way everyone- don’t use that language in front of your grandmother, ok? Alright, my dear friend…what was that again? ☺ You’ve got a bug…?
M- …a MAJOR bug!
C- …A MAJOR BUG! Sorry…’’You’ve got a major bug up your ass today’’ okay, that means you’re annoyed today, not in a good mood, you’ve got a problem, something is bothering you and you’re being unpleasant to the people around you.
M- Can you use that in a sentence?
C- Ugh…you’re killing me! Alright, here’s an EXAMPLE: John’s got a major bug up his ass today. He’s been in a bad mood ever since he found out his wife was cheating on him with the mailman.
M- Got it. But, Cindy, I know there’s another bug-related expression out there: ‘’You’re bugging me’’.
C- We usually combine it with ‘’Quit it!’’ So, we would say: ‘’Quit it! You’re bugging me’’…or …’’Quit it! You’re starting to bug me!’’
M-that means ‘’Stop it! You’re annoying me!’’
C- uh huh, ‘’Quit it! You’re bugging me!’’ I always say that to my neighbor’s dog, but he never listens! ☺
M- Do you have another one for us?
C- Here’s one for all of you moms & dads out there. You can use this, for example, when your kids are fighting in the backseat and you need to concentrate on driving.
M- Ok, let’s hear it.
C- Knock it off!! Right now!!
C- Marta? Are you still here?
M- That depends, are you going to bite my head off?
C- No, I’m not going to bite your head off ☺
M- You’re starting to grate on my nerves. Now you’re starting to annoy ME! Why don’t you go sign up for a yoga class or something?
C- Oh! I’ve done it now! I’ve annoyed the woman of steel!
M- I think it’s time to call it a day and finish up here. Thanks for listening everyone!

C- Thanks everyone! Come and catch up with us later on our Facebook page, iTunes, Podomatic, Twitter, YouTube and on our blog at www.myAmericanfriendblog.com . We’re looking forward to hearing from you. Have a great day!
M- Bye bye!
C- Who are you calling?
M- I’m signing you up for yoga lessons.
C- I do not need yoga!
RECEPTIONIST- Good afternoon, Sleepy Acres Mental Institution…How can I help you today?
MARTA- Yes, I have a patient…when can I bring her over?
RECEPTIONIST- We have an opening today. See you at 3?
MARTA- We’ll be right over
CINDY- Hang up the phone!

35.1 SONGS – podcast episode 35.1 – transcript

This is the follow-up episode about how useful songs can be in order to improve your English.   We collected the comments and ideas of our listeners Igor, Sergio Leon, Laura, Manfred, Letizia and Ilaria.

Check it out !  


Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:



M – Let’s talk again about SONGS!

C  –  Hi everyone!  as we mentioned in episode #35,  songs are precious tools to help you improve your English.   We’ve asked you to let us know which idioms and new words you learnt thanks to songs. Well, we’ve heard back from you and we’ve collected your ideas and suggestions.

M – Let’s start with our dear friend Sergio Leon from Mexico.

C –  Sergio wrote us that music and songs really helped him go beyond the English he studied in grammar books …

M- …that’s true…

C- …and listen to the real everyday English you speak when you travel the world.  He knows a lot of country songs, so he’s familiar with the accent of the American South.

M – Sergio also mentioned how he noticed the difference in accent between Sting (British) and Paul Simon (American).

C –  And Sergio’s favorite band is…take a guess?  Bon Jovi!

M – Good choice!

C – Sergio told us that he learnt that the contraction of “I WOULD” is “I’d” by listening to the song “I’ll be there for you” by Bon Jovi

M –   “I’d live and I’d die for you” .   Oh, I think I had listened to that song at least a million times when I was in high school, it brings back tons of memories!!  Thanks Sergio!

C –  And now:  Igor from Moscow!  Another dear friend of ours. While driving his daughters Ann and Nastya to school, the three of them listen to songs in English together.  Igor has an interesting method to suggest in order to better understand the words of a song.  He has found the file of a song by Linkin Park with separate vocal tracks, so that you can listen to the voice only.

M –  That’s very smart!

C –  Isn’t it?  Igor also told us that he learnt the expression “poker  face” thanks to Lady Gaga.

M –  Yes, and who didn’t?  She made that expression incredibly popular all over the world with her song.

C –  To keep a poker face means not to show your thoughts and emotions.

C – Ok, now our Facebook friend Manfred, from northern Germany.  He mentioned a song by The Kinks entitled “Dandy”.  This is the sentence he talks about:   ‘Hubby’s gone away and while the cat’s away the mice are gonna play’.   The word ‘’Hubby’’ means husband, plus there is the idiom: “when the cat’s away the mice will play”. It gives a great visual. Just be sure you are not the cat!

M – Thank you Manfred for sharing this with us.  Who else do we have?

C –  Laura,  our Italian friend now living in Australia.   She learnt the expression “to feel blue” thanks to a song by Dolores O’Riordan titled “Fly through”.    “You’re older now and you’re feeling blue”.

M – To feel blue.

C – It simply means to feel sad.

M – Laura also mentioned the song “Paid my dues” by Anastacia

C – Oh, LOVE Anastacia!! She actually learnt quite a strong expression thanks to that song  J   “I don’t give a damn about who’s around”    I don’t give a damn means I don’t care.

M – Thank you Laura for sending us your comments too.

C – Laura used to study English with you at your course English Amplifier before moving to Australia, right?

M – Right.

C – Wow. Laura, learned English sooo fast! She’s amazing. Can you think of any other students of English Amplifier who could add their comments to this episode?

M – Sure!  I remember Letizia once wrote on Facebook that “Payphone” by Maroon 5 helped her revise the Second Conditional.

C – Which line is she referring to?

M – If happy ever after did exist I would still be holding you like this.  It is a second conditional, she’s right.

C- And Adam Levine is a very good-looking grammar teacher!

M – And another of my students, Ilaria, learnt the expression “out of the blue” thanks to Adele.

C –  Oh, I know that song,  “someone like you”.  “I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited…”  ‘’Out of the blue’’ means suddenly, without notice.

M –  Out of the blue.  Easy.  Songs make everything much easier!

C – They do!   Now Marta give us an interesting expression in English from one of your songs.

M – mmmm, one of my songs….let me think,  ok:  to make blood promises.  Everybody listen to this line :   “They made blood promises they couldn’t keep,  but they were innocent,  wishing their time would never end”.

C – I know this song very well!

M – You bet!  I wrote the music of this song together with Cindy’s husband. He’s a great guitar player.

C – Your husband too.  Two podcasters married to two guitar heroes!

M – ….ok, back to the song:  “They made blood promises they couldn’t keep”.  To make blood promises.

C –   That’s a very solemn ritual typical of brotherhoods, making promises and adding a few drops of your blood to show you truly mean what you say. Generally speaking “making blood promises” means to be  very serious about those promises.

M – Promises you should keep, you should not break.

C – Right.  To keep one’s promise, to break one’s promise.  Everybody, promise you’ll go check out this song on iTunes:  it’s called “TWO DAYS AND THREE NIGHTS” and it’s included in Marta’s acoustic duo EP 2012.  Marta, can you give us the name of your acoustic duo again? And in as many languages as possible? :)))

M –  :)) Sure… it’s called…twelveNotes…dodiciNote…douzeNotes…doceNotas…12N…

C- available now on iTunes…Thank you!

M- Thank you! And thanks again to our wonderful listeners for helping us out with this episode:  Sergio Leon, Igor, Manfred, Laura, Letizia & Ilaria.

C –  Everyone, come visit us at our webpages and drop us a note!  “my American friend” is on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, iTunes, Podomatic.com  and of course there is also our website  :  www.myamericanfriendblog.com

M – See you soon!  And keep listening to songs in English!

C – And to our podcast!  Bye bye!


Marta’s acoustic duo :

12N (twelveNotes)


2012 EP available on iTunes !

37 CHEATING – podcast episode 37 – transcript

This episode is about CHEATING.  Learn new expressions, such as: “I smell a rat”, or “it sounds fishy”, “a dodgy deal”, “a con-artist” and many more.

Here’s the transcript, enjoy!


Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:




Marta- Today we’re talking about ‘CHEATING ‘’

C- We’re talking about Cheating and being dishonest on all levels, from cheating someone in business to cheating on your partner.

M- Sadly, cheating is a common thread throughout our daily lives!

C- You really need to be ON YOUR GUARD! You need to be cautious and KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED for unsavory and dishonest characters!

M- What got you thinking about cheating?

C- Well, I don’t want to DRAG ANYONE’S NAME THROUGH THE MUDthat means I don’t want to say bad things about someone and destroy their reputation. I don’t want to drag anyone’s name through the mud.

M- Wow, what happened?

C- Okay, I’M NOT GOING TO NAME NAMES but we were in a popular resort town in Italy last week.  It was a hot day so we stopped off for an ice cream and some cold water. Our server returned with 2 two filthy water glasses marred in greasy fingerprints….

M- Ewww!

C- …and my ice cream was covered in brown, rotten sliced strawberries.

M- That’s gross! Maybe they were raisins?

C- Nope, they were strawberries…and it cost us 16 Euros! J

M- What a RIP-OFF! They really took advantage of you two tourists.

C- But it immediately made me think of a wonderful idiom: SHOOTING FISH IN A BARREL!

M- Shooting fish in a barrel.

C- That means something is really easy, there’s no challenge to it. This ice cream shop has customers all day long, simply because of where they are located. The customers just FALL INTO THEIR LAP and they probably couldn’t care less about providing good service or decent food- they’ll make money no matter what.

M- That’s terrible!

C- No, it’s not terrible because we’re going to turn a negative situation into a positive and do a whole podcast about it! J

M- I like the way you think! J

C- Believe me, by the time I had picked off my last decrepit strawberry I had a whole episode in my head!

M- So where should we begin?

C- Let’s begin with the dreaded TOURIST TRAP!

M- A tourist trap.

C- Tourist traps are located all around the world and they’re designed to take your hard earned vacation money and give you bad service in return.

M- Restaurants can be awful tourist traps!

C- Uh huh… Tourist trap-type restaurants are eating establishments, located in major tourist destinations, which target travelers. They’re a total rip-off. They offer bad food, lousy service & high prices because they know that chances are they will never see your face again. This is why I always check online for restaurant suggestions and reviews before I waste my money on vacation.

M- Be careful because some vacation destinations can be filled with CON-ARTISTS looking to SWINDLE you out of your hard earned money!

C- A con-artist is a dishonest person who intentionally tricks or deceives people in order to take their money.

M- A con-artist cons people out of their money.

C- …and con-artists are everywhere, they can be found in every type of business! I’m immediately reminded of two SHADY car dealerships I had purchased vehicles from. If we call someone ‘’shady’’ that means they are untrustworthy..

M- Yes, and everyone if you are buying a car please be sure to purchase from a reputable, reliable car dealer.

C- That’s very important. Do some research, check online reviews and talk to friends who have purchased cars. Don’t do business with shady, disreputable, dishonest car dealers… like I did!! J

M- Cindy, what happened with your car? Was it a DODGY DEAL?

C- I experienced two dodgy deals! They were both bad deals! One car died at the end of the street when I drove it away and the other cost me thousands of dollars in repairs just in the first year.

M- They were dodgy deals!

C- They were! J But, thankfully, THEIR REPUTATIONS CAUGHT UP WITH THEM and neither one is in business today! We’re safe! J

M- We all need to be aware and make careful business decisions with our money.

C- Be cautious of ‘’GET RICH QUICK’’ SCHEMES and deals that ‘’SOUND TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE’’.

M – If something sounds too good to be true… it is !

C – If a business offer promises to make you a millionaire overnight then I would say ‘’IT SOUNDS FISHY’’– that means it doesn’t sound right. It sounds suspicious.

M- It sounds fishy. Got it.

C- We can also say: ‘’I SMELL A RAT!’’

M- I smell a rat.

C- Just one rat…I smell a rat. You would never say ‘’I smell rats’’ , plural, that means you can actually smell rodents. Which is pretty bad, but we’re making references to cheating today…

M- Not rodents.

C- When something sounds wrong, when you suspect someone may be lying to you and the story doesn’t seem quite right…

M- I smell a rat!

C- Exactly!  Often times we can decide whether someone is dishonest or not just by looking them in the eye. If sometime fails to maintain eye contact, if they keep looking over their shoulder nervously- be careful. We call them ‘’SHIFTY-EYED’’ and it means exactly that- their eyes ‘’shift’’ or move from place to place. The eyes are the window to the soul! So pay attention to them!

M- So Cindy, if someone looks mean, shifty-eyed and nervous they may be lying or generally untrustworthy.

C- Uh huh, and this brings us to our final subject- CHEATING ON YOUR PARTNER!

M- Cindy, what do you call a man who cheats on his girlfriend or wife?

C- Low down dirty good for nothing low life sleaze ball loser rat bastard !!!!

M- Uhm?? That’s a bit complicated. You need to simplify that…and then go to anger therapy.

C- J I’m just joking. And by the way- girls cheat too. Both sides can be guilty in love. I know.  I’ve been reading those Hollywood gossip sites. There was that super famous Kristin what’s-her-face who cheated on her boyfriend Robert something-or-other?

M- You have no idea what you’re talking about, do you?

C- No. Actually, I don’t. Hey, do you remember Shaggy, he’s a Jamaican-American performer? He had a huge hit song in The States all about cheating! It was sort of a catchy hip hop- reggae fusion style song.

M- That’s right, it was called “It wasn’t me”  and  it came out in 2000.

C- Great song! Y’know Marta, we’re making light of the subject of Cheating by playing Shaggy.

M- You’re right.

C- Cheating on your partner really isn’t funny. People get hurt and families are destroyed by it, so everybody think twice about the consequences before you stray from your relationships.

M- An extra-marital affair could have a very serious ripple effect.

C- An EXTRA-MARITAL AFFAIR is a relationship outside of marriage. A RIPPLE EFFECT refers to the waves in the ocean. When a large object, like a boat, passes though the water the waves generated by that boat can be felt all the way to the shore.  That’s a ripple effect.  Our actions affect not only ourselves but those around us as well.

M- Well said.

C- Thank you!


C – Well everyone, that’s it for today. Thank you for listening and we hope you’ve found this episode useful.

M- …and remember- stay away from tourist traps!

C- …and shifty-eyed characters!

M- Thanks everyone!

C- Stop by today and say hello on our Facebook page or on our blog at www.myamericanfriendblog.com. You can also download this episode and past episodes of ‘’my American friend’’ on  Podomatic.com  and  iTunes. We’re also on Twitter and we are now available for private lessons via Skype. Just email us at myamericanfriendpodcast@gmail.com  and we’ll respond with all the details.




As defined by Merriam Webster:

a : to practice fraud or trickery

b : to violate rules dishonestly <cheat at cards> <cheating on a test>

c : to be sexually unfaithful —usually used with on <was cheating on his wife>

d : to position oneself defensively near a particular area in anticipation of a play in that area <the shortstop was cheating toward second base>

2. To be ‘’on your guard’’to be cautious, to watch out carefully, to be aware of your surroundings and ready to deal with a situation.

EXAMPLE: It’s important to pay attention and be on your guard when walking through certain neighborhoods in Los Angeles at night. There are some parts of the city that are quite dangerous after dark.

3. To ‘’keep your eyes peeled’’to keep your eyes open, to be cautious, alert, aware, attentive.

EXAMPLE: Keep your eyes peeled for a gas (petrol) station! The car is almost out of gas. We must find some fuel soon- otherwise we’ll have to walk home!

4. To ‘’drag someone’s name through the mud’’- To publically speak ill of someone, to say impolite, bad things about someone and destroy their reputation professionally or personally.

EXAMPLE: We ate dinner at a terrible restaurant last week!

ANSWER: Really? Which restaurant was it?

ANSWER: I’m not going to drag anyone’s name through the mud by mentioning the name of the restaurant. It wouldn’t be fair. The staff was very nice and maybe the food will be better the next time we visit.

5. ‘’I’m not going to name names’’- I’m not going to identify anyone by mentioning their name.

EXAMPLE: You arrived home very late last night. Were you on a date? Who were you with?

ANSWER: Sorry, but I’m not going to name names. I’m going to keep that private. I never talk about my personal life and who I am dating.

6. Shooting fish in a barrel- something is very easy to do, no challenge.

EXAMPLE: There is a new ice cream shop in town. It opened across the street from the high school! The ice cream is delicious and the shop earns a lot of money. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel, every day after school the students, teachers and parents all line up to buy ice cream! It was a very good business decision to open a shop where everyone enjoys ice cream! The shop has been a great success.

7. Fall into your lap- if something just ‘’falls into your lap’’ it means you didn’t have to work hard or long to earn it. It came easily to you.

EXAMPLE: How did you get this excellent job?

ANSWER: Honestly, my supervisor, John, is a friend of my family. When I graduated from university, my mother told him I needed a job. John hired me 2 weeks after I graduated. So, I guess you could say this job just fell into my lap. I am very grateful to John for giving me the chance to prove myself worthy of this opportunity.

8. Tourist trap- a business designed to attract tourists while giving them little value for their money. Some restaurants in popular tourist destinations are famous for being tourist traps.

EXAMPLE: On our first night in Paris, we ate dinner in a total tourist trap! It was a restaurant located near the Eiffel Tower and it was filled only with tourists. The prices were high, the food was terrible and the service was even worse. On the second night, we dined in a corner bistro near our hotel. It was filled with local French people, the food was excellent and the prices were very reasonable.

9. A ‘’rip-off’’- a bad deal, when the money you have paid for a purchase does not match its value.

EXAMPLE:  That hotel charges an extra $35.00 per person, per day for a buffet breakfast. It’s a complete rip-off! The food is awful and it’s very expensive. You’re better off going to the coffee shop for a nice pastry and a fresh cup of coffee for $3.00. Save your vacation money and spend it on entertainment instead.

10. Con-artists/con man- People who try to cheat you out of your money.

EXAMPLE: Don’t ever buy a car from that car dealership! The owner is nothing but a con-artist. His cars are in terrible condition and you will be very sorry if you purchase a car from him.

11. To be conned- to be taken advantage of, lied to, deceived, tricked into giving up your money.

EXAMPLE: My grandmother was conned out of her entire life savings by an unscrupulous, deceitful lying business man who promised to invest her money wisely. In the end, she lost all of her money because of his bad investments. Now my grandmother lives with us and the business man is in jail.

12. Shady- untrustworthy, suspicious.

EXAMPLE: What do you think of your sister’s new boyfriend?

ANSWER: I don’t know, he seems kind of shady to me. He has no job, yet he wears a big gold chain, drives a nice car and his clothes are very expensive. I think he’s involved in some kind of shady business dealings. I don’t trust him.

13. Disreputable- to have a reputation for bad business, poor customer satisfaction, low quality merchandise.

14. A dodgy deal- a bad or deceptive business deal.

EXAMPLE: The mayor was eventually convicted and went to jail for his many dodgy deals and unscrupulous business practices in the city. He & his associates were taking bribes from everyone and stealing money from city funds since the first day they took office!

15. Their reputations caught up with them- EXAMPLE: After years of deceiving customers and selling poor quality automobiles, their reputation finally caught up with them! That awful car dealership finally went out of business because everybody knew they were crooks! Eventually, no one would a car from them! They had a terrible business reputation in this town!

16. A ‘’get rich quick scheme’’- a suspicious business deal that promises to make a lot of money in a short period of time.

17. It sounds too good to be true- EXAMPLE:Yesterday, I got an email announcing that I had just won a new laptop. I knew it was ‘’too good to be true’’ so I quickly deleted it for fear that the email contained a virus!

18. ‘’ sounds fishy’’it sounds suspicious.

EXAMPLE: I’m sorry, but your explanation sounds fishy. I just don’t believe you. Your excuse sounds highly unlikely and I think you are lying to me.

19. ‘’I smell a rat!’’- something sounds suspicious, I think someone is lying/deceiving/stealing etc..

EXAMPLE: I smelled a rat when I noticed that some of my jewelry went missing. Our babysitter was stealing from our family!

20. shifty-eyed- when a person has ‘’shifty-eyes’’ they look untrustworthy because their eyes are always looking about the room, they look nervous, mean, deceptive and will not keep eye contact with you.

EXAMPLE: I don’t think you should buy jewelry from that store. The owner looks shifty-eyed and untrustworthy. His diamonds are probably fake!

21. To cheat on your partner- to have a physical relationship with someone other than your husband, wife, partner.

22. Extra-marital affair- a relationship outside of marriage

23. A ripple effect- a large effect generating from a single point (refers to waves in the water)

EXAMPLE: When one student became disobedient there was a ripple effect throughout the classroom. As a result, all the students became noisy, unruly and disobedient. The teacher threatened to give them 10 extra pages of homework if they didn’t behave. The students quickly calmed down and order was restored in the classroom.

24. Making light of the subject/ to make light of something-  to make jokes in the face of a more serious situation.

EXAMPLE: Sorry, I know I’m making light of this situation by making jokes about your girlfriend leaving you- but hey, you’ve been depressed for DAYS! I’m just trying to cheer you up!


36 Making EXCUSES – podcast episode 36 – transcript

How to politely say “no” and make an excuse in English.

Here’s the transcript.  

All the best,  


Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:



M- Today we’re talking about ‘’Making Excuses’’

C- Hi Marta! How are you?

M- I’m great thanks!

C- You’ve had a really busy week, haven’t you? Congratulations on your new EP! It’s a fantastic CD!

M- Thank you! I’m very attached to this album. Everyone of these songs means a lot to me.

C- Hey, let’s go out for a nice lunch tomorrow. My treat, I’ll pay for it.We’ll celebrate the release of your new album!

M- Oh thank you, Cindy, I would really love to go out for lunch but I have a lot on my plate right now. September is a very busy month for me. Can I get a rain check?

C- Sure, no problem. I understand. To ‘’HAVE A LOT ON YOUR PLATE’’ means to have a full schedule, to have many commitments or problems at one time.

M- To have a lot on your plate…that’s my life!

C- You need to start buying smaller plates! So, we’ll take a RAIN CHECK on lunch- that means we’ll postpone lunch for another time when you are less busy.

M- A rain checkto postpone to a later date. Got it.

C- and…

M- AND, IT’S YOUR TREAT that means you’re going to pay for it! I have witnesses!

C- yes, you do have witnesses- all over the world! I’m happy to pay for lunch, you’ve worked really hard and this is an excellent album.

M- Thank you and I’m happy to share it with the world finally!

C – So, how can we find it?

M – It’s available on iTunes! Just search for “12n” that’s the name of my acoustic duo, it stands for TWELVE NOTES (dodici note, doce notas, douze notes). 12n. 1 2 n (website: www.12n.biz ) ** So we’re talking about how to make excuses to people today.

C- Right, sometimes we have to say ‘’no’’ to people or ‘’TURN SOMEONE DOWN’’ (that means to reject or refuse) and we need to say ‘’no’’ politely without being rude.

M- …without hurting someone’s feelings and making them feel bad.

C- Right, so today we’ll give you a few examples on how to pardon yourself, make an excuse or say ‘’no’’

M- Politely and without lying!

C- Right, because we don’t want to encourage anyone to lie! Where should we begin?

M- How about the phone?

C- Good idea since we all live on our phones nowadays. Let’s give an example of how to excuse yourself and interrupt a phone conversation. Have you got a telephone?

M- Sure, one moment…

C- I’ll pretend to phone you and you’ll politely make an excuse and offer to call me back later.

M- Do I have to call you back?

C- Yes.


C- (talking very fast) Hi Marta, it’s Cindy…listen, you’re totally not going to believe the day I’ve had…it was AWFUL!…First, I got stuck in traffic and I was like 20 minutes late to work and I totally had a good excuse for being late but my boss didn’t want to believe me and my coworkers are like whatever you’re like always late so like we totally do not believe a word you’re saying and I’m all “it’s true!”

M- Wow.

C- Yeah, but listen that’s not the worst of it because like at lunch they totally messed up my food order and I had to go back twice and I’m all….

M- Cindy, I’m sorry, excuse me…

C- What? Was I talking too fast? Do you want me to start over, from the beginning?

M- NO!!… I mean…no, that’s okay. Listen, dear, I’m sorry you’ve had a tough day.

C- Awful day!

M- Right, awful day…I’m sorry, I’ve got a lot to get done today. I’VE GOT MY HANDS FULL at the moment. Can I call you back a little later?

C- Oh sure, any time.

M- Thanks…I’ll give you a ring later…

C- Good, ‘cause you’re totally gonna want to hear what happened to me this afternoon….

M- I’m sure…talk to you later, dear….

C- Don’t forget! You won’t believe it!

M- I promise…I’ll call you later….Bye!

C- You’re not going to call me back. Just admit it.

M- No. I’m not going to call you back. Now let’s give everyone another example of an excuse.

C- Alright, how about an excuse that you girls can use at the disco? Sometimes we’re asked to dance by a guy we don’t want to dance with. Perfect. Now we’re going to need a little help here from our friend Freddie.

Freddie- Hello!

C- Hi Freddie. So, Freddie is a nice guy.

Freddie- I’m a nice guy.

C- And it takes some balls to approach a girl in a disco and ask her to dance, so let’s be polite and let him down easy. To ‘’LET SOMEONE DOWN EASY’’ is to say no, reject, disappoint or give bad news to someone gently to ‘’let them down easy’’.

Freddie- Would you like to dance?

C- I’m sorry, thank you, but I’m hanging out with my girlfriends tonight.

Freddie- Ok, bye

C- Thanks, for helping out Freddie

Freddie- No problem. Any time.

C- I’m hanging out with my girlfriends tonight. That’s it.

M- Tolet them down easy. Cindy, how about when you’re having a conversation in person? How can we excuse ourselves and end the conversation?

C- First of all, be sincere and let people know that you really do enjoy talking with them, but you have to go. Then, you can use phrases like:





M- Well, Cindy, I think we should really get going now.

C- Thanks for listening everyone! Come and catch up with us later on our Facebook page, iTunes, Podomatic, Twitter, YouTube and on our blog at www.myAmericanfriendblog.com . We are also available for private lessons via Skype, just email us at myamericanfriendpodcast at gmail.com and we’ll respond with all the details.

M- Thanks everyone!

C- Are you going to call me later?

M- No! I am not going to call you later.

C- Come on! Just call me.

M- No! Oh look…there’s someone more interesting at my door right now

C- That’s a fake doorbell! You’ve got an app for it!

M- Sorry, gotta run!



1. It’s my treat/I’m treating– I’m paying for it.

EXAMPLE: Let’s go out for a nice lunch tomorrow.

ANSWER: Sorry, I can’t go anywhere. I’m broke and my paycheck won’t arrive for another week.

ANSWER: Don’t worry! It’s my treat. Lunch is on me. I’ll pay for it.

2. I have a lot on my plate right now- I have a lot of commitments or problems right now.

EXAMPLE: Hey, let’s go to the movies this weekend!

ANSWER: Sorry, I can’t go out this weekend. I have a lot on my plate right now. I’m studying for final exams and babysitting my little sister while my parents are out of town. Maybe we could go out next week instead?

3. to take a ‘’rain check’’to reschedule for a later date.

EXAMPLE: Don’t forget we’re all getting together at the pub Friday night.

ANSWER: Sorry, I’ll have to take a rain check. My car is at the mechanic. I’ll catch up with you at the pub next time.

4. to ‘’turn someone down’’/ to get ‘’turned down’’- to be rejected, refused

EXAMPLE: John asked me out on a date last week, but I turned him down because I’m not attracted to him.

EXAMPLE: I turned down the new job offer. The salary is good, but it would take me away from my family and I would really miss my wife & kids. I’ll stay with my present job until something better comes along.

5. to hurt someone’s feelings- to insult or hurt someone emotionally.

EXAMPLE: Susan & I had a big argument at work. I said a lot of things that were nasty & hurtful to her. I’m afraid I have hurt her feelings and our friendship is broken beyond repair. I don’t think she will ever forgive me.

6. I’ve got my hands full-to have a lot of commitments or problems at one time.

EXAMPLE: I’ve got my hands full at work. Three employees are out sick, so I’m doing their jobs in addition to my own!

7. I’ll give you a ring- I’ll call you.

EXAMPLE: Would you like to go out this weekend? Give me your phone number and I’ll give you a ring sometime tomorrow.

8. let them down easy- to reject, disappoint or give bad news gently without trying to hurt someone’s feelings.

EXAMPLE: We gave the promotion to Susan instead of Barbara. It was a big disappointment to Barbara, so I had to let her down easy and carefully explain why we had chosen Susan over Barbara.

9. Phrases to end a conversation:

‘’I’m sorry, I need to run. Can we talk later?’’ or

‘’I’m running late, can I catch up with you/email /text you later?’’ or

‘’I should really get going now’’ or

‘’I’m going to have to cut this short, can I give you a ring later?’’

8 the AMERICAN DREAM – podcast episode 8 – transcript

We posted this episode some time ago, it’s about the American Dream and it’s perfect to revise words and expressions about DREAMS and AMBITIONS.  For example: “The sky is the limit!”.

Here’s the transcript.

Enjoy!!  Marta

Listen to the episode on iTunes or here:



M – So, this time we’re talking about … the AMERICAN DREAM !

C – Marta, since you are not American, I’m curious to know your perception of the American dream.

M – I’ve always thought of it as the right to aspire and to pursue what makes you feel happy in life, the freedom to build up your future brick by brick through hard work and determination. Having the opportunity to somehow feel successful in your life. But why don’t you give us some hints about the American dream?

C – Well, since the very beginning, when the first settlers came to the New World the USA was founded on values and ideals, like democracy, equality, justice and liberty. Of course sometimes there is a great distance from the ideals and the actual reality, I mean, everyday life is still harder for the poorest part of the population even in a country based on the right of equality.

M – Those values still have deep roots in the American culture. There is this general feeling that you should be given a chance to pave your way, that your future could depend on your individual choices and not only on your social class, race or family.

C – And this is what the Declaration of Independence stated in fact, that all men are created equal and that they have inalienable rights, including Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

M – The ideal was to create a country where everyone could express their talents, where everyone could get the merit for their work and perseverance.

C – Yes, and again, let me point out that it’s just a promise of the possibility of prosperity and success, that doesn’t mean that every single person achieves it, not to mention nowadays with this difficult economic crisis we’re facing worldwide.

M – Yeah, now those that believed the American Dream to be only about getting money, goods, fame and fortune, must be thinking that the dream has turned into a nightmare!

C – Yeah, while the idea of the so called American Dream is far from being only materialistic, it’s about improving your life and the society you live in. This is what James Adams wrote in 1931: “The American Dream is the dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. (…) A dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

M – And let me add that you can call it American Dream or not, but it was the main reason for millions of people to move to the USA along the centuries. They came in search of a free, happy and richer life.

C – All those immigrants leaving their families and taking the risk to cross the ocean, came to the New World to seek justice, religious freedom and economic opportunity. It’s certainly a part of my family’s history.

M – And all those immigrants were welcomed by The Statue of Liberty!

C – The Statue of Liberty is a real landmark. Marta, I know you wrote a song about her.

M – Yes, the title is ‘Miss Liberty’.

C – May we listen to it?

M – Sure, at the end of this episode! Now, there is something else really worth mentioning about the Statue, the sonnet entitled “The new colossus”

C – You’re right, it was written by Emma Lazarus in 1883 and when visiting the Statue you can read this sonnet engraved on a bronze plaque. The most famous sentence is “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..”

M – Hey listeners, you can read the whole sonnet in the transcript of this episode, don’t miss it !


C – Marta, how about giving our listeners some vocabulary about dreams and ambitions?

M – Ok, how do you define the desired, sought-after object?

C – It’s your aim, your goal, your target.

M – And what about the verbs we use in this kind of context ?

C – To pursue your dream, to make your dreams come true, to achieve your goal, to fulfill your ambitions, to accomplish…

M – Any idioms about ambitions and dreams?

C – Oh, yeah. “The sky’s the limit!” meaning there is no limit to your possibility of success, so dream big! For example, Marta, how many downloads do you think that our podcast will get next month?

M – Who knows? The sky’s the limit!

C – You got it! An idiom about effort and hard work in order to reach your target is : “blood, sweat and tears”. So, Marta, when we hit #5 on The Podomatic language courses chart….

M – it was not due to luck, it was blood, sweat and tears !

C – Well… I don’t think either one of us actually shed blood during the making of this podcast… Maybe some sweat though….and a few tears of joy when we hit #5!….

M – ….And let us not forget the over 10,000 listener downloads from around the world! Thank you everyone! It’s been a lot of work, but we’ve had a lot of fun too.


C – Is this episode almost over?

M – Yes, almost. I’d love to quote a movie before we go because I think it’s a good example of what the American Dream is like in the 21st century.

C – Which one?

M – “The Pursuit of Happyness” by Gabriele Muccino.

C – Is that the film starring Will Smith and his son?

M – Yes, and this is the quote I chose. The scene is a father (Will Smith) talking to his child : “You got a dream… You gotta protect it. People can’t do somethin’ themselves, they wanna tell you you can’t do it. If you want somethin’, go get it. Period.”

C – Go get it, listeners! And good luck!

M – Thanks for listening, we await your comments, questions and suggestions.

C – Come visit us on facebook, podomatic.com, martainnocenti.com and iTunes- and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter. And remember to always read the transcripts!

M – And now…

C – …your beautiful song about The Statue of Liberty, right?

M – Yes, enjoy! See you guys very soon!

C – Bye bye!


‘THE NEW COLOSSUS’ (sonnet by Emma Lazarus, 1883)
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, *
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name *
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand *
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, *
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” *


Song: “MISS LIBERTY”, written and performed by Marta Innocenti.  (song available on iTunes).
For any additional information visit  the acoustic duo website www.12n.biz

The lyrics:


Here I am *
Walking down the streets *
Leaving my footprints *
On the sidewalks *
In New York *
I’m part of a multiethnic place *
In the dawn of century 2K *
the land of opportunities… it must be, it must be! *
I crossed the ocean and now I look inside *
Miss Liberty’s eyes *
She holds up the torch and she lights up the fear that I’m *
Trying to hide *
Got my dreams in my pocket, Miss Liberty knows it *
I take my chance *
from Miss Liberty’s hands *
Here I am *
Blinded by the lights *
USA skyline *
On the top floor *
Of New York *
I’m part of the army of the brave *
And I know that I am here to stay *
the land of opportunities…. believe me, believe me! *
I crossed the ocean and now I look inside *
Miss Liberty’s eyes *
She holds up the torch and she lights up the fear that I’m *
Trying to hide *
Got my dreams in my pocket, Miss Liberty knows it *
I take my chance *
from Miss Liberty’s hands *
Here I am, here I am, October 12th…
Welcome in New York ! *