Podcast: Grab the bull by the horns – Inglês Online

Podcast: Grab the bull by the horns

By Ana | Podcast Inglês Online

Jan 22
Podcast-grab the bull by the horns

Hello!! How’s it going? Hoje eu falo sobre uma Uber ride que fiz recentemente no podcast, e aproveito essa historinha para ilustrar o idiom grab the bull by the horns… Uma expressão bem bacana e comum.

Obrigada a quem deixou as novas reviews no iTunes – é sempre muito gratificante saber que o podcast ajuda no aprendizado de novas expressões em particular, e do inglês no geral. :-)


Hello, how are you doing? This is Ana and I’m back with another episode of the Inglês Online podcast – our second episode of 2020!

Have you listened to the first one? If you haven’t, go back and listen. Better yet, go back and look at our archive of episodes and download them all… I mean, these are five-minute long English bites that you can have throughout the day… A little bit every day. Why not? By now, we have a huge archive with hundreds and hundreds of episodes and the great thing is… I try not to repeat any idioms – I always try to center the episode around an idiom, or a couple of idioms, that I haven’t really examined before… or I haven’t really explained before to you guys. It’s always a different theme.

All right. Now back to today’s episode: today I’m going to tell you about a recent Uber trip that I had – because the Uber driver told me… He talked about something that’s really interesting to me, which is, how he learned English. And that story is going to be a good illustration of this idiom, grab the bull by the horns or take the bull by the horns.

Picture a bull. Now picture its horns. Now imagine yourself grabbing that bull by the horns. I think you can get an idea of what the idiom means. You have a challenging situation in front of you, or a difficult situation, and you face it head-on… And you solve a problem, or you go through that difficult situation and come out (on) the other side, but… In any case, whatever the challenging situation is, you are facing it, you’re not running away. You’re grabbing the bull by the horns.

This Uber driver… He was very chatty so I started asking him How long have you been working with Uber? Do you always work in this area? What’s the traffic like today? You know. And I noticed that he spoke really good English but he had a slight accent. I could tell that he had learned British English, but he had a slight accent and then I asked him Where are you from? And how did you learn English? And he said: Well, I’m from Iran and I’ve been here in the UK for 10 years, and… When I moved to the UK I spoke exactly zero English.

And this is a guy – he’s probably close to 40 years old – it’s not like he moved here when he was a child. When he said to me I learned it on my own. And I could hear his English – very good English… Obviously I was curious, as I always am, so I asked him What did you do to learn English? And he said Well, I spent some time studying grammar, studying vocabulary… but most of all, I used to just watch TV and pay attention to what people were saying and just try to repeat it. And, you guys, you probably know that his native language… I think it’s called farsi. It’s one of those languages that has nothing to do with English. This guy was really learning a completely different thing, a completely different language from scratch. It was, for him… It was a language that didn’t make any sense – he couldn’t make any connections with his native language.

He said he just persisted by watching TV and just listening to the sounds that people were saying and he was probably, as he watched… I imagine that he was making that connection: these are the sounds these people are saying, and this is what they’re doing. That sound must have something to do with what they just did right now… Let’s say they’re at a restaurant and this woman is talking to the waitress. OK, so that means she’s ordering something… something like that.

But I just found it amazing and I’m not telling this story because I’m going to advise you to do the same, necessarily. I wouldn’t advise you to just spend hours and hours in front of a TV show watching people talk if your comprehension is nearly zero. I think there are more productive ways for you to acquire English, for you to listen to English… but what really struck me about this guy was his motivation.

And then I asked him You were really, really motivated right? He answered Oh… absolutely. I was very, very motivated, because for me… Moving into a new land and not being able to communicate, not being able to speak the language — that would be really hard for me personally because… Because of his personality. He’s a guy who likes to talk to everyone so it would be very hard for him to go to places and keep gesturing, and trying to make people understand what he wants just using his hands. He was really, really motivated.

So… here’s a motivating story. He wasn’t a teenager, he wasn’t a child when he moved. I sometimes get emails saying Hey, am I too old to learn English? Is it too difficult now? Well… if you want to, nope! It’s not! Our brains are the same, sometimes we have a few more mental barriers that we pick up along the way, but the truth is… It’s possible for everyone. I think the Uber driver grabbed the bull by the horns, that’s what I think he did. And he conquered it.

That’s it for today! Speak soon – bye.

Key expressions

  • Grab/Take the bull by the horns


face it head-on = enfrentar ou encarar de cabeça erguida/de frente

come out the other side = conseguir superar algo, sair de uma adversidade ou dificuldade

chatty = pessoa que gosta de conversar muito

on my own = sozinho, por conta própria

from scratch = do zero, a partir da estaca zero

but what really struck me = mas o que realmente me impressionou/surpreendeu

  • Larissa says:

    I have met the Inglês Online few days ago, and I’m really loving it!! I was looking for contents like that, especially podcasts. Now, I’m very happy with this opportunity to improve my listening. Thanks, Ana!!!

  • Vivi says:

    Thank you for your time and dedication.

  • Celia says:

    I enjoyed a lot this new expression and the vocabulary in this real context……and I appreciate your accent…you’re great!!!

  • Marcos says:

    Thank you Ana. So great moment you had talking with the Uber driver. By the way, the text is full of great contents and it’s an amazing real life story! Congrats Ana!

    • Ana Luiza says:

      Hey Marcos,
      Thanks for stopping by.
      Yep – I remember I used to get emails from a couple of people (including one former student) asking for more “real life” stories, so now I’m mixing things up!
      Great that you liked it!

  • isaac says:

    thansk for your great class. The driver is an example of willlpower

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