Speaking Skills: Interrupting
In this week's Premier Skills English podcast, Rich and Jack help you with the language you need when you want to interrupt someone. This is a speaking skill that can be difficult because you have to wait for the right moment and often need to be polite. Jack and Rich look at some polite (and less polite) phrases that you can use to interrupt people. They also look at some phrases that you can use when someone interrupts you to return to the same topic after the interruption. We also have a new football phrase for you to guess so don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast. Enjoy!
Speaking Skills - Interrupting
Rich: I love knock knock jokes.
Rich: Knock, knock jokes. You know ... I say knock, knock you say who’s there and …
Jack: I know knock, knock jokes. Have you got one?
Rich: Yep. Loads. Knock, knock.
Jack: Who’s there?
Jack: Water who?
Rich: Water you doing in my house!
Jack: Knock, knock jokes are always awful!
Rich: No, they’re not. Listen. This is my favourite. Knock, knock.
Jack: Who’s there?
Rich: Interrupting cow.
Jack: Interrupting c ...
Welcome - Interrupting
Rich: Hello my name’s Rich
Jack: and I’m Jack
Rich: and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: Where we talk about football and help you with your English.
Jack: What’s happening this week, Rich?
Rich: In this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about ...
Jack: What are we going to talk about?
Rich: I was just about to say. In this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about …
Jack: I was just getting a bit of revenge for that silly interrupting cow joke.
Rich: Alright … alright … In this week’s podcast, we’re going to talk about the language we use when we want to interrupt somebody.
Jack: That’s right. We’re going to look at the language of interruption and how we can interrupt somebody politely and not so politely.
Rich: We’ve got lots of language to teach you and we’ve got a game you can play with friends or in the classroom that’s great for practising your English.
Jack: And don’t forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we’ve got a new football phrase for you too.
Rich: That cow joke is really funny. I love it.
Jack: It’s not that …
Jack: Stop it. As I was saying, it’s not that funny but it does allow us to introduce something that we often need to do in English. We often need to interrupt someone when they are speaking. We might have something important to say or we might want to respond to what a person has just said.
Rich: That’s right and when we want to interrupt it’s probably best not just to say moo!
Jack: No, probably not!
Rich: Anyway, before we start I’d like to talk about a match that I saw recently. It was …
Jack: Sorry, which match was it?
Rich: I was just getting to that. It was Tottenham’s match against Real Madrid. I went to watch it in a cafe with a couple of friends and I …
Jack: Sorry for interrupting, but why didn’t you invite me?
Rich: Erm … you’re an Arsenal fan you never show much interest in Tottenham matches. In any case, I think it might be too far to meet up to watch a match.
Jack: You’re right it is and it’s true I didn’t watch the match.
Rich: Where was I? Ah yes, the Spurs match. We got a drink but …
Jack: What did you have?
Rich: I had a coke because I was driving.
Jack: Really not very good for you.
Jack: Coke - fizzy drinks. They aren’t very healthy.
Rich: I know, I know ... but it’s not important. Anyway, the cafe was packed and we had to stand to watch the match.
Jack: Could I ask something?
Rich: What? I mean, sure.
Jack: Which cafe did you go to?
Rich: The one by the square.
Jack: Near the fountain?
Rich: No, at the other end. As I was saying...
Jack: It’s nice there. You could have invited me.
Rich: Yes. That’s why I went. As I was saying, my friends were Real Madrid fans so …
Jack: Excuse me for butting in. Are your friends from Madrid?
Rich: Not far from Madrid, yes. Anyway, as I was saying, they’re Real Madrid fans so they didn’t have a great time. I think it was already 2-0 at half-time.
Jack: Actually, just 1-0.
Rich: OK, just 1-0. But in any case, they weren’t having much fun and we actually left before Ronaldo scored a consolation goal for Madrid.
Jack: It finished 3-1.
Rich: It did. What did you do yesterday?
Jack: Well, I’m glad that you asked because I went...
Jack: Not you again.
Jack: In the last section, Rich was speaking about a football match he saw. While he was speaking I interrupted him quite a few times. I used different words and phrases to let Rich know that I wanted to say something.
Rich: After the interruption, I wanted to return to the topic I was speaking about - the football match. To return to the topic I used a few different phrases too.
Jack: Let’s start by looking at the phrases that I used to interrupt. The most common way to interrupt someone is to say sorry or excuse me. If you want to be polite you should use these words all the time even if you are not sorry!
Rich: Jack said sorry for interrupting and excuse me for butting in and then asked his question.
Jack: Butting in, that’s an interesting phrase. It’s more common to use it when you want to join a group conversation and if someone says stop butting in the phrase can mean interrupting a conversation in a rude or impolite way.
Rich: But if you say sorry or excuse me and use the phrase yourself it means the same as sorry for interrupting.
Jack: After my interruptions, Rich wanted to return to the topic of the football match. He used different phrases to do this. One very common phrase that he used was anyway. Other common phrases are Where was I? And as I was saying.
Rich: I actually used both when I said: Anyway, as I was saying, they’re Real Madrid fans so they didn’t have a great time.
Jack: Have a look at the language activities on the website below this podcast to practise these phrases a little more.
Jack: We’re going to play a speaking game which you can practise at home with a friend or in the classroom.
Rich: We’ve got a list of topics. Jack is going to choose one and try to speak for one minute. I’m going to try to interrupt him as much as possible.
Jack: Which phrases does Rich use to interrupt me and which phrases do I use to get back to the topic?
Rich: There are the topics Jack. Take one and see what you get.
Jack: A place you’ve visited recently.
Rich: OK, you’ve got one minute to tell me as much as you can. I’ve got my watch. Are you ready?
Jack: I was born ready!
Rich: Right then, three, two, one, go!
Jack: I’d like to tell you about Cambridge. It’s a city …
Rich: Sorry to interrupt but I don’t want to hear about the city, I’d like to hear about your visit to Cambridge.
Jack: Of course, alright. As I was trying to say, I’ve recently visited Cambridge. It’s a city …
Rich: Do you mind if I interrupt again? When did you visit Cambridge?
Jack: Yes, err, it was about a month ago. Anyway, I visited Cambridge about a month ago. It’s a city that’s about an hour’s drive from London.
Rich: Can I just add something here? It’s north of London, isn’t it?
Jack: Yes, err I think so but I wasn’t driving from London. Can I get back to what I was talking about?
Rich: Please, go on.
Jack: Cambridge is most famous for its university and I went to see …
Rich: Sorry for butting in but I was wondering if you knew if Cambridge University was older than Oxford?
Jack: No it’s not. Oxford was founded in .... nevermind, we’re not talking about Oxford… where was I?
Rich: Talking about your visit to Cambridge.
Jack: Yes, thanks. As I was saying, I visited …
Rich: Moo! That’s one minute! I think I win.
Jack: What do you mean, you win?
Rich: You had one minute to tell me about your visit to Cambridge and you told me absolutely nothing!
Jack: That’s because you were interrupting me all the time!
Rich: That was the point of the game!
Jack: Right! Your turn. Let’s see how well you deal with an interrupting cow!
Rich: Our task for you this week is to challenge someone to the game that we have just played.
Jack: Do you know a friend that is learning English too? Or maybe you can ask your English teacher to play the game in class?
Rich: Or maybe if you’re listening to this in class you can do this game right now.
Jack: There’s a worksheet for you to download on the side of this page with a list of topics that you can speak about in class. If you haven’t got it, pause the podcast and download it now.
Rich: On the worksheet, there are lots of topics to choose from - favourite football team, family, best holiday, favourite food, the environment and many more.
Jack: Tell the person who is going to speak to choose one topic and tell them they have to speak about it for one minute. Give them 30 seconds to think about what they are going to say first.
Rich: Tell them you or someone else is going to interrupt and ask questions and they have to answer the questions but try to return to their topic as soon as they can.
Jack: Try to use the phrases we have used in this podcast when you are speaking. You can also look at the phrases on the lesson page for this podcast on the Premier Skills English website.
Rich: In the comments section, tell us who you played the game with and where.
Jack: And only be an interrupting cow when the time is up!
Rich: Have you got a football phrase for us this week?
Jack: Yes, I have, but first, last week’s football phrase. The phrase was to be over the moon. It’s an idiom which means to be very, very happy and it is something that football managers often say after their team has won.
Rich: Quite a lot of you got it right this week so well done to Violinka, Sabanoleg and Liubomyr from Ukraine, Lakerwang from China, CaroleAnnMarie from Italy, Ahmed Adam from Sudan and Khaldoun83 from Algeria. What’s this week’s phrase, Jack?
Jack: This week’s phrase is **** *** match or just **** ***. A **** *** is a match between two teams that decides which team progresses to the next round. At the end of the season, there are a series of **** *** matches to decide the third team that is promoted to the Premier League. It can also be a verb. The teams that finish between third and sixth **** *** against each other.
Rich: Ah, yes. I know it. Actually, this weekend there are **** *** matches to decide which countries will qualify for the World Cup this summer.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
In the podcast, Rich and Jack used some words and phrases that might be new for you. You can see two examples here:
I was just getting a bit of revenge for that silly cow joke.
We actually left before Ronaldo scored a consolation goal for Madrid.
There were a few more tricky words in the podcast. Can you remember all of them? Try the activity below, then, listen to the podcast again to hear how we used the words in context. This can really help with understanding.
In this week's podcast, the main focus was on the language we use when we interrupt someone; when we say something to make someone else stop talking or doing something. Interrupting someone can be done in a polite way or an impolite way. The way people interrupt can be different in different cultures and countries. In this podcast, we discussed the language of interrupting but if you want to learn more about cultural differences, take a look at this article from the BBC. If we look just at the language of interrupting there are phrases that are more polite than others. Take a look at these two sentences:
Sorry for interrupting but why didn't you invite me to the match?
Hold on! Why didn't you invite me to the match?
In the sentences above, the first sentence is much more polite than the second which could be a bit rude or impolite. In this activity, take a look at some more phrases we use to interrupt people and decide if they are polite or impolite.
Returning to the topic
When someone interrupts you it is often necessary to return to the topic that you were talking about. In the podcast, Rich interrupted Jack a lot when he was talking about Cambridge.
Jack: Excuse me for butting in, but are your friends from Madrid?
Rich: Not far from Madrid, yes. Anyway, as I was saying, they're Real Madrid fans so didn't ...
In the example above, Rich answers Jack's question but tries to return to the topic that he was speaking about as quickly as possible. He uses two different phrases to do this: anyway and as I was saying. These are both polite ways of returning to what you want to say or an earlier topic. Here is a list of other phrases you can use to return to a topic:
Phrases to practise
- Where was I?
- Anyway ...
- As I was saying ...
- I was just getting to that.
- In any case ...
- Can I get back to what I was talking about?
- Can I return to what I was saying?
Your task is to play the game that Rich and Jack played in the podcast. First, you need to find someone to play the game with. Find a friend who is learning English or ask your English teacher to play the game in class.
The objective of the game is for one person to speak for a minute about one of the topics in the table below. The other person needs to interrupt the speaker with relevant questions using some of the phrases in activity two. The speaker then needs to answer the questions and use the phrases above to return to the topic. Here are some example topics for you to speak about:
|Favourite Football Team
|Something in the news
|Favourite musician or band
|Favourite Football Player
|The last party you went to
|A place you've visited recently
|Someone in your family
|The best football match you've ever seen
- The speaker has one minute
- Try to use the phrases we used in this podcast
- Give the speaker 30 seconds to think about the topic
Tell us in the comments section who you played the game with and where!
What do you think?
In this week’s podcast, Jack and Rich spoke about different phrases we use to interrupt people and phrases we use to return to a previous topic.
Do you find it difficult to interrupt people when they are speaking? Do you know anyone who interrupts people a lot? Is it polite?
Were the phrases introduced in this podcast new for you? Is this type of language easy to use? Is it easy to learn these phrases?
Look at the task above and write your answers. Don't forget to reply to other listeners too.
Remember to write your guess for this week's football phrase, too!