Learning Vocabulary: Giving bad news
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Rich goes for an audition for a role in a film about football and takes Jack with him. The language focus is on phrases we use to deliver bad or disappointing news and we also look at words connected to acting. In his week's task, we want you to give disappointing news to three different people. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Delivering Bad News: An Audition
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rowan: My name’s Rowan
Rich: and I’m Rich
Rowan: And welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast.
Jack: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: In this week’s roleplay, I’m going to tell you about an audition for a part in a football film that I went to a long time ago.
Rowan: You wanted to be an actor?
Rich: I did. I wanted to be an actor. I was very good at watching films so I thought I’d be good at acting in them too.
Jack: After you hear the roleplay, we’ll look at some words and phrases connected to acting, film and the theatre.
Rowan: And we’ll also look at some phrases we use to give bad or disappointing news in a kind way to avoid upsetting people.
Rich: Don’t tell our listeners too much. They might think that I didn’t get the part in the film!
Jack: This week’s task is to listen to three situations and say how you would give the bad or disappointing news in each.
Rowan: If you’re listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast platform, you should also check out our website.
Rich: On the Premier Skills English website you’ll also find
the transcript, examples and activities to help you understand the language, and a task for you to complete.
Jack: You’ll also find a community of friendly listeners to interact with, in our comments section.
Rowan: And that includes us - we’re always around to answer questions and join in the discussions.
Rich: But if you listen on Apple Podcasts you can always write answers to our questions or any other comments in the review section.
Jack: Before we do the roleplay let’s look back at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Rich: If you didn’t hear our football phrase last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now.
Rowan: Last week’s football phrase was * ********* ****. * ********* **** is something which looks impressive but doesn't usually achieve very much. It involves kicking the ball to a teammate who is on the other side of the pitch by playing a long ball, usually over the opponent’s heads. It’s often very risky because an attacker could intercept the ball.
Jack: We’ll give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase. But another clue was that the phrase is connected to films and acting in the United States.
Rich: The first listener to get it right last week was Luibomyr from Ukraine!
Rowan: Well done Luibomyr. It’s been a while since you were first.
Jack: Rowan’s phrase was very difficult last week so a big well done if you did get it right. Those people included: Mohamed Kuna from Sudan, Alex from Ukraine, and Gergo Nagy from Hungary.
Rowan: It was great to see many of you having a go at the task too. Idzingirai from Zimbabwe wrote about how a ruined city called Great Zimbabwe has changed over the years. Elghoul from Algeria wrote about how his home city of Algiers has changed and MoBeckham from Turkey wrote about how his beloved football club - Manchester United has changed since his first visit to Old Trafford.
Jack: If you haven’t heard last week’s podcast it’s called Learning Vocabulary: Similarities and Differences. You can find it on the homepage on the Premier Skills English website or on Apple Podcasts.
Rich: We’re absolutely delighted to read your reviews on Apple Podcasts too so keep them coming if that’s where you listen. This week we want to say a big hello to Joshindi from India. Thanks for your lovely review and we are so happy that you enjoy our podcasts and they are helping your English skills.
Rowan: Don’t forget that we’ll have a new task for you to do and a new football phrase later in the podcast.
Introduction to roleplay
Rowan: In this week’s roleplay we’re going to act out something that happened a few years ago.
Jack: We might have changed a few of the details though to make it a bit funnier.
Rich: A few years ago I went to an audition for a film.
Rowan: If you’re not sure what an audition is it is a short acting performance that you give so someone else can decide if you’re good enough to act in a film or play or something similar.
Jack: You see - a long time ago Rich wanted to be an actor. That much is true and he saw that there were some auditions for acting roles for a film about football.
Rich: It was an opportunity not to miss. So I called up and was sent a short script to practise and went to the audition.
Rowan: In the version you are about to hear, Jack went to the audition with Rich and guess who is auditioning the pair of them? Yes, me!
Jack: While you are listening we want you to answer two questions:
Rowan: Question one is: What confuses Rich?
Jack: Question two is: Who do you think gets a part in the film?
Rich: This is what (more or less) happened when Jack and I went to the audition.
Jack: This looks like the place.
Rich: It sure is. Look at the poster. Football is coming home. Auditions today at 1200.
Jack: Now, are you sure you want to do this, Rich? Acting might not be your thing you know.
Rich: What do you mean? I was born for this. My name up in lights. Hollywood here we come.
Jack: I’m not sure it’s a Hollywood production but …
Jack: Hello there.
Rowan: Come in, come in. It looks like you two are the last of the day. We’ve been run off our feet today. It seems everybody wants to be in this film.
Rich: Football’s coming home. It’s coming home ...
Rowan: Ah you know the song as well. I’ve heard it a few times today. I’m not a huge fan of football songs - I’ve got to say.
Jack: Me neither.
Rich: I’m not much of a singer either, I’m afraid. It’s a good job you are here for my acting skills and not my singing voice. Well, I’ve been learning my lines all week.
Rowan: Come on then. Let’s start with you. Name?
Rich: Rich Moon.
Rowan: Is that your real name or a stage name?
Rich: It is my real name.
Rowan: Well, you’ve got a good acting name so that’s a start. Moon with the stars would definitely work in Hollywood.
Jack: That’s where he wants to be. Break a leg, Rich.
Rich: I think I’ll be all right. It’s a stage, not a football pitch.
Jack: It’s just a saying, Rich.
Rich: Testing one, two, one, two, testing (tapping mic). Football’s coming home (horrible feedback).
Rowan: No need for a sound test. It’s all working.
Rich: Yes, sorry, of course.
Rowan: Let’s start with the warm-up. I’m going to shout out a few adjectives and you’re going to act them out.
Rich: Got it.
Rowan: No, no sorry. I think you might have misunderstood. I want you to be hungry - you can choose the words. Let’s start again. Hungry.
Rowan: What’s he doing?
Jack: I think he’s shouting. Angry?
Rowan: Oh dear ... A wannabe actor who is hard of hearing.
Rowan: Cut! I think you may have misheard me, sorry. We’re looking for hungry, not angry.
Rich: Oh, sorry. I’m a bit nervous. Hungry right. Yes, of course. Here we go. Yummy! Yummy!
Rowan: What’s he doing?
Jack: I think he’s rubbing his belly.
Rowan: Cut! Frightened.
Rowan: Is he doing angry again?
Jack: I don’t think so. I think he’s being scared.
Rowan: But why is rubbing his belly again?
Jack: I’m not sure. He might be frightened, angry and hungry. How many actors can do that at the same time?
Rowan: There’s not an easy way to say this but I don’t think Rich is the actor we’re looking for.
Rich: Shall I do that again?
Rowan: Cut! No need. Thanks for that. OK, now for the football commentary which we sent you. Are you ready?
Rich: I’m ready.
Rowan: Go for it.
Rich: United are still alive here.
Rowan: Cut! It’s City. You’re commentating on City not United.
Rich: Yes, of course. I was confused. I'm a United fan you see.
Rowan: Don’t worry. It’s an easy mistake to make. From the top.
Rich: City are still alive here. Balotelli … Agueroooooooooooooooo!!!! I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again! So watch it and drink it in! They've just heard the news at the Stadium of Light. Two goals in added time for City to snatch the title away from United. Stupendous!
Rowan: Thank you, Rich Moon and thanks so much for coming by and for your time. We’ll be in touch.
Rich: Shall I give you a call next week?
Rowan: No, that’s OK. We’ll be in contact. Don’t call us, we’ll call you. We’ll be in touch.
Rich: How did I do? Did I nail it?
Jack: Yeah, I thought so but I’m afraid I might have a bit of bad news on that score.
Rowan: So, it looks like you are last up, today.
Jack: I’m not so sure.
Rowan: Come on. We’re still looking for the right person.
Rowan: Well, we’ve obviously got a shortlist of those we’re going to call back. Let’s just do the commentary.
Jack: All right. I’ll give it a go.
Rowan: From the top.
Jack: Manchester City are still alive here. Balotelli … Aguero!!!! I swear you’ll never see anything like this ever again! So watch it and drink it in! They've just heard the news at the Stadium of Light. Two goals in added time for City to snatch the title away from United. Stupendous!
Rowan: Beautiful. Someone who can act.
Jack: Really? That’s very kind of you.
Rowan: Well, I think that’s everything for today. Like I say we’ll be in touch.
Rich: Next week?
Rowan: Yes, very soon. So, Jack, you’ve never taken acting classes …
Jack: So, you never made it as a Hollywood actor did you, Rich?
Rich: No, they didn’t call back but I did get a nice letter. They let me down very gently although it made me realise that acting wasn’t for me.
Rowan: Before the roleplay, we asked you two questions; let’s have a look at the answers to them now.
Jack: Question one was: What confuses Rich?
Rich: Well I was confused by a couple of things. First of all, I couldn’t hear Rowan very well. I didn’t hear the adjectives very well. I started being angry when she wanted me to be hungry.
Jack: I thought it was very good acting, Rich. A hungry lion or something.
Rich: And then I got the football clubs muddled up. I started talking about United when it was supposed to be City. I suppose I got stage fright.
Rowan: Yes, stage fright is quite common. Stage fright are the nervous feelings you get when performing in front of an audience.
Jack: And the second question was: Who do you think gets a part in the film?
Rich: Well, definitely not me. Jack was much better. I was rather wooden and stilted.
Rowan: Those are a couple of nice adjectives: wooden and stilted. If an actor is wooden they don’t show enough emotion and aren’t animated enough.
Jack: And stilted is similar; it is used to describe speaking that is not natural or relaxed; maybe a bit robotic or too formal sounding.
Rich: Yes, my commentary was wooden and stilted. Oh well.
Rowan: Let’s have a look at some more words and phrases connected to acting that we used in the roleplay.
Jack: I really like the phrase break a leg. I told Rich to break a leg before he did his audition.
Rich: It doesn’t sound very nice but it’s actually a phrase we use to wish someone luck before a performance.
Rowan: Jack said break a leg to Rich before he went on stage.
Jack: The stage is the area that is higher than everywhere else in a theatre. It’s where the actors stand.
Rowan: I thought Rich Moon was Rich’s stage name and not his real name.
Rich: I have a brilliant name, don’t I? Rich Moon - a night with the stars.
Jack: All right. Calm down. A stage name is a name that an actor uses instead of their real name.
Rowan: We looked at a few more words and phrases connected to acting and the theatre in the roleplay. Things like: learning lines, up in lights, script, from the top, act out, production and wannabe.
Rich: We’ll look at these in a bit more detail on the Premier Skills English website where there will be explanations and activities where you can check your understanding.
Jack: Now, we’re going to take a look at some more language.
Rowan: We’re going to look at some phrases you can use when you need to give someone bad or disappointing news.
Rich: In the roleplay when talking about my audition, Jack said ‘Rich, I’m afraid I might have some bad news.’
Rowan: When we give bad or disappointing news to someone we try not to be too direct because we don’t want to upset the person we’re speaking to.
Jack: A common phrase to use is ‘I’m afraid’. Normally, afraid means ‘scared’ or ‘frightened’ but in this situation, it means ‘sorry’.
Rich: Jack could have also said ‘I’m sorry but I might have some bad news’. The two sentences mean the same. One thing to notice is that we usually use sorry with but. ‘I’m sorry but I have some bad news’. We can’t use afraid with but here.
Rowan: When we have bad news for someone we usually want to let them down gently. To let someone down gently means to give bad news in the kindest way possible.
Jack: Rowan said ‘there’s not an easy way to say this but’ when talking about Rich’s not so good acting talent.
Rich: We might add this phrase before some disappointing news to be kinder. Here’s another example:
Rowan: There’s no easy way to say this but I’m afraid you haven’t got the job.
Jack: There are other ways we can try to be kinder when we have bad news and we want to let people down gently.
Rich: In more formal situations someone might say ‘It is my unfortunate duty to tell you’. An example could be a boss talking to her staff:
Rowan: It’s my unfortunate duty to tell you that the office will be closing next month.
Jack: We might use the adverb: unfortunately.
Rich: Unfortunately, we won’t be able to take your job application any further.
Rowan: Or we might use the word regret. This is more common in writing:
Jack: We regret to inform you that your audition was unsuccessful on this occasion.
Rich: More informally we might just say things like I’ve got some bad news or I’m sorry but I’ve got some bad news for you.
Rowan: If it was really serious you might ask someone to sit down or take a seat as it might be an emotional moment if you think the person might be shocked by your news.
Jack: A more difficult idiom that you might hear is to be the bearer of bad news. This is used when someone is describing themselves as the person with bad news - the bearer.
Rich: Yes, it’s common to say “I hate to be the bearer of bad news”
Jack: We’ve got more explanations on the website but in the next section, we want you to think about what you would say in some difficult situations.
Rowan: In this week’s task we’ve got three pieces of bad or disappointing news that you have to give.
Rich: It’s not very nice to have to give bad news and it can be especially difficult to give in a second language.
Jack: Listen to each situation and decide what you will say to each person. Use some of the language we used in the roleplay and the language focus.
Rowan: Situation one: You are a coach at a football club and you have to tell a youth player that the club is not going to give them a professional contract.
Rich: Situation two: You’re a manager in a large telecommunications company. You have to tell your best employee that she can’t have the promotion you promised a year ago because of financial restraints.
Jack: Situation three: You can’t go to your best friend’s wedding because your sister is getting married in a different city on the same day.
Rowan: Write all your answers in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website and try to use some of the language we’ve introduced in this podcast.
Rich: or write your answers in the review section on Apple Podcasts if that’s where you listen to us.
Rich: It’s your turn with the football phrase, Jack.
Jack: This week’s football phrase is a phrasal verb and it’s *** **. It means to provide a chance. Kevin De Bruyne ran down the wing and *** ** a great chance for Aguero but he could only hit the post.
Rowan: Quite an easy one this week I think. Not like last week. If you are still wondering what the answer was to last week’s football phrase it was a Hollywood pass.
Rich: 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. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Jack: If you have any questions or comments or suggestions for the podcast or anything football or English related, you can leave them on the website in the comments section, on social media, on apple podcasts or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rowan: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
Here is the vocabulary you saw at the top of this page and how Rowan, Rich and Jack used it in the roleplay. Do you know the words in bold?
I was born for this. My name up in lights. Hollywood here we come.
I’ve been learning my lines all week.
Is that your real name or a stage name?
I think I’ll be all right. It’s a stage, not a football pitch.
Oh dear ... A wannabe actor who is hard of hearing.
I think he’s rubbing his belly.
Two goals in added time for City to snatch the title away from United.
We’ve obviously got a shortlist of those we’re going to call back.
Listen to the roleplays again to hear how Rich, Rowan and Jack used these words and phrases.
Giving disappointing news
In the roleplay, Rich went to an audition for a part in a film about football. He wasn't successful and got this disappointing news from Jack, Rowan and a letter. It can be difficult to deliver or give bad news to someone else. We often use certain phrases to give the news in the kindest way we can. Have a look at the following sentences that we used in the roleplay and think about the phrases in bold. Which do you think are more formal?
Rich, I’m afraid I have some bad news about the audition.
Rich,I’m sorry but I have some bad news about the audition.
There’s not an easy way to say this but I don't think Rich is the actor we're looking for.
It’s my unfortunate duty to tell you that the office will be closing next month.
Unfortunately, we won’t be able to take your job application any further.
We regret to inform you that your audition was unsuccessful on this occasion.
Don't call us, we'll call you
The saying 'don't call us, we'll call you' is a stereotypical request from a hiring organisation to a potential candidate, suggesting that the candidate will not be hired. It's unlikely that a company or a potential employer would use this phrase as it not very polite.
In this week’s task, we want you to deliver disappointing or bad news to the three people we spoke about in the podcast.
- The youth player: You are a coach at a football club and you have to tell a youth player that the club is not going to give them a professional contract.
- The employee: You’re a manager in a large telecommunications company. You have to tell your best employee that she can’t have the promotion you promised a year ago because of financial restraints.
- Your best friend: You can’t go to your best friend’s wedding because your sister is getting married in a different city on the same day.
Try to use some of the words and phrases we’ve introduced in this podcast. Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!