off the cuff: episode 5

off the cuff: Merry Covid Christmas

In this fifth episode, we discuss what Covid Christmas is like and how immigrants often have to be away from their families. We also discuss what we want the new year to look like. Don’t forget to check out the vocabulary listed below and Enjoy!

  • Shadenfreude- pleasure derived by someone from someone else’s misfortune
  • Pleasure- enjoyment, happiness, satisfaction
  • Pain- a physical or emotional discomfort
  • I must admit- I have to say  
  • Taken aback- surprised  
  • Been there, done that- this is not new to me
  • Life goes on- life continues
  • Rearrange- to change the order, position or time of something already arranged.
  • To go down in history – to be recorded or remembered in history
  • D, all of the above- reference to multiple choice tests when you want all the options offered to you
  • Running after your tail – to be busy doing a lot of things and not accomplishing much
    Burnout – extreme tiredness or a feeling of not being able to work anymore, caused by working too hard
  • Have a laugh – have a good time

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

PLaza en Uruena

Welcomed and feared: How tourists in Spain are being received amid the coronavirus crisis… El Pais

“We are only asking for the same level of responsibility in the village as is practiced in the city – masks and safe distancing measures,” he says. “That people don’t let their guard down just because a village seems like a safer place.”

While reading this quote, it made me realize not just how important it is for us to be careful when going on vacation for our own health, but to also consider the people in the towns we will be visiting. We all feel like we are ‘safer’ in villages but only if we keep people safe there. Click here to read the full article.

off the cuff with Clare and Annie

Off the cuff : an English Podcast with Clare and Annie

‘Off the cuff’ is a common expression meaning to improvise or to do something in an unprepared manner. The meaning comes from journalists or even actors who wrote down short notes on their cuffs (puños), later having to improvise on what they had written.

Episode 1: Locked up in Lockdown


Locked up – to be in jail
Lockdown – a temporary situation imposed by the government where the population must stay at home and/or limit activities outside your home for public safety.
Face to Face – in person, commonly written as f2f
Roller-coaster – Montaña Rusa – in the context here, it’s used to say there have been a lot of emotional ‘ups and downs’
A state of shock – an upsetting feeling due to an unexpected situation
To climb the walls – to feel anxious or frustrated because you want to do something but can’t or because you have lots of energy but can’t do anything with that energy.
Up-skill – to acquire more advanced skills in a specific area   
Tele-working – working from home or from another location through the internet
Hybrid learning – learning using a mix of face to face and on-line classes
Hybrid working – working partially from home and in the office
The silver lining – comes from the expression ‘Every cloud has a silver lining’ meaning that there is always a positive side (the sun coming out behind the storm cloud) to every bad situation
To have teething problems – having problems when starting something new – comes from babies who have problems when their teeth come in
To be ‘techno’ – to be good with technology
Furlough – to temporarily lose your job (erte)
To let someone go – to fire them 
Quarentini – comes from quarantine and martini- refers to a mixed drink you have while on lockdown
To get locked – a colloquial Irish expression to say you have consumed too much alcohol ex: He got locked last weekend drinking too many quarentinies!

Bill Gates BBC Breakfast

BBC One – Breakfast

Last month we shared a video of Bill Gates from years ago predicting the epidemic we are currently living. This month we are sharing a video of him talking about what should be done now and in the future on BBC Breakfast (Another great source for English!). It’s an interesting watch and we think we need to start listening to him and scientists who know what they are talking about, so click here to go to BBC Breakfast or watch the Youtube video of the same interview below (remember with Youtube videos you can also put on automated subtitles).

8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You

Everyone is working from home right now or maybe just home and not working. Either way, in order to keep your sanity (and mine) these 8 tips are actually quite useful. Click here to read the full article and take a minute or two to comment on what’s working for you right now?

NPR is a great source of news. They have articles but also a number of wonderful radio programs. My favorite program is This American Life. I posted one of the shows here on the Blog.

Bill Gates: The next outbreak? We’re not ready

Bill Gates warned everyone of this possible outbreak that we are experiencing over 5 years ago. Take a look at the audience’s faces. Do you think they see this as urgent and are going back to work to start developing a plan? I think not. Watch to find out.

Also take a look at other TED talks. It’s a great way to stay connected to English while you’re home. You can turn on the subtitles in English or Spanish.