CULTURE: Inside a British Newsagents!

Full video transcription, explanations and glossary below!

In this lesson we visit another typical British place: A NEWSAGENT'S


This is part of a B1 level (or above) course English Language Course.

The story is that maverick English teacher ZakWashington is taking a group of students around London to visit some funny ‘alternative’ tourist sights, so you learn genuine English language and culture in an authentic environment.


The students learn about real English, street language and slang… as well as the type of artificial ‘standard’ English that you can learn at the BBC and British Council


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In today’s video we are going to learn how to speak better English and understand real native speakers.

The lesson takes a step-by-step look at the vocabulary for the news, the press and the media. We will learn what the difference is between a ‘newsagents’ and a ‘news agency’.  We help you understand about native Brits’ tastes.


(This video is dedicated to Josephine.)


The video is, as usual, a comical ironic sketch with glorious high-definition animation mixed with real images. It is all 100% original content for everything: the music, the script, the graphics and the photos. We show you, not only the good, nice side of the country, but also some of the less glamorous sights.    


What you get for free on the Learn English with ZakWashington course: Youtube videos, audio listenings, glossary, monthly magazine, detailed explanations, music, exercises, fun quizzes, class communication games and activities, and feedback to all your comments, etc.

The video is accompanied by the Lesson 12 here at the Zak Washington website:


The lesson can also be used in EFL, ELT, ESL, TESOL and TEFL classroom environments.

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¡ZakWashington el curso más gracioso del inglés, ya tiene subtítulos, traducciones y un glosario en ESPAÑOL!

ZakWashington, Il più divertente corso di inglese ora ha i sottotitoli, traduzioni e un glossario in ITALIANO!



Photo of ZakWashington in a typical English newsagents with a magazine rack

Video Transcription

ZAK WASHINGTON: A very good morning to you students! Here we are at 11.25a.m. on a chilly[1], grey, typical London morning. We are going to the newsagent’s.

MARIA: Newsagents? Like Reuters?

ZAK WASHINGTON: No, that’s a news agency. This a type of shop like in every high street. In we go! Come on! Good morning Mrs. Chopra.

MRS. CHOPRA: Oh hello darling.

ZAK WASHINGTON: What do you see Ahmet?

AHMET: It’s full of magazines, newspapers, and chocolate. There are thousands of other things on sale too.


Listening exercise. Listen to the song. Draw the interior of this typical newsagent’s according to the descriptions. The teacher will walk around the class pretending to be working.


ZAK: In the shop we can see that there is a magazine rack[2] with five large shelves[3]. In front of the rack there are some newspapers piled up. The shelves contain a selection of magazines on various subjects; The top shelf has many magazines wrapped up in plastic. It’s difficult to see the names, but there’s one called Reader’s Wives Christmas Edition.

MRS. CHOPRA: You’ve already bought that one last week.

ZAK: At the side of the magazine rack, there are more shelves with two rows of chocolate (how many syllables?) bars. These are above six plastic containers full of jelly sweets. The English are sweet-tooths, aren’t you, you fatties? Facing the door is the cash till[4], which is on a counter that extends from one side of the shop almost to the other. Behind the counter is an Indian woman with a gold tooth.

MRS. CHOPRA: What are you looking at?

ZAK:  She must have been eating too much chocolate!

MRS. CHOPRA: Don’t be so bloody cheeky!

ZAK: She has a diamond-shaped jewel in the middle of her forehead.

MRS. CHOPRA: I’ll tell my husband!


ZAK: In front of the till is more chocolate. All the daily newspapers are lined up on the counter to the right of the cash till. Directly behind the Indian lady is a cigarette rack. On the right of the cigarette rack there is a large doorway that leads to another room where there is a family watching television. Also hanging from the ceiling, going from one side to the other, are Christmas decorations. It’s September.

Compare results. Who has drawn the picture which looks most like the description?


ZAK: Let’s have a look at the cover of the newspapers and see what’s in the news today. A s*x scandal? Violence?

SOPHIE: Actually, no! There’s a picture of Ali Fred with a group of drunken idiots at the Royal Revue Strip Bar! They look… they look just like…. us. Oh my God! We’re on the cover of the newspaper.

AHMET: It says, ‘SLEAZY SHEIKH’S BOOZE BINGE AND BIRD BENDER[5]!’ I don’t understand a word of that. What does that mean? 12.2. Explain the newspaper headline if you can.

ZAK WASHINGTON: What this means is that we are in big, big trouble. Where is Ali?

AHMET: Ali’s at home in the squat. I woke him up at seven this morning to give him his ‘medication’, a vodka and tonic, then he smiled and went back to sleep…


[1] Chilly (adj.) quite cold, but unpleasantly cold due to the wind.

[2] Rack (noun) a frame or a shelf for storing things. There are many different varieties. A vegetable rack is what is used in the kitchen to keep vegetables in. A car’s roof rack would be where you put objects that are too big to fit inside.

[3] Shelf (noun) a flat object attached to the wall for storing and putting things on. Libraries and shops are full of them.

[4] Cash till (noun) the machine for registering and keeping the money, as well as giving the receipts. Normally referred as the till.

[5] Booze (noun) a slang word that refers to any type of alcohol.  A boozer can refer to the person who drinks, but more commonly means ‘the pub’. ‘Are you going to the pub?’ ‘Yes. We’re going down the boozer!’ Variations on the same theme include to be on the booze, to booze it up etc. All of which are slang. A binge (noun)(verb) is quick, intense consumption of something that is normally quite bad for you. For example, ‘She went on a chocolate binge,’ means that she ate a large amount of chocolate in a short space of time. Other common binges involve drugs and alcohol. A bender (noun) is basically the same as a binge but refers to the whole process; going out, drinking a lot, laughing, shouting, spending more money than you can afford, having fun etc. A bender doesn’t usually specify the substances consumed and doesn’t have such negative connotations. Compare ‘He went on an enormous bender last night and woke up with a terrible hangover,’ and ‘He went on a cocaine binge, and didn’t stop talking rubbish all night.’ Bird (noun) an unattractive slang word that describes an attractive woman. This is a typical ‘macho’ way to talk about women, particularly by those people who have little or no experience on the subject. 

Graphic of an old vintage TV with a 1950s woman drinking a cola
Photo of two piles of Penny Post newspaper - a libertarian / anarchist economics and current affairs newspaper
Photo of Mrs. Chopra, an indian lady with a diamond shaped jewel on her forehead and a gold tooth.
Photo of Mrs. Chopra, an indian lady on the front cover of Readers' Wives magazine

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