On Saturday 28th March, Easy Stories in English will have its first live stream, including a puppet show and a question and answer session. Send your questions to Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com, and watch the live stream or set a reminder here!
Welcome to Easy Stories in English, the podcast that will take your English from OK to Good, and from Good to Great.
I am Ariel Goodbody, your host for this show. Today’s story is for beginners. The name of the story is Little Red Riding Hood. You can find a transcript of the episode at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Red. That’s EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Red. This contains the full story, as well as my conversation before it.
So at the moment there is only one thing that everyone is talking about. That is coronavirus or, more specifically, COVID-19. So coronavirus is everywhere in the world now and it is having a very big effect.
Here, in the United Kingdom, the situation has gotten very serious in the last week. Now, at the time I’m recording this, all the schools, pubs and restaurants in the country have been closed. Not all the businesses are closed. There are still some shops and places open but most places are closed, and the government is saying that you should not go outside unless you need to. So you should keep social contact down. Don’t go out and have a party with your friends, basically!
Because people are starting to worry about the coronavirus, many people are panic buying. So panic buying is when you are in a panic, you are very anxious, very worried, so you go and buy lots of food. Specifically, people are worried that supermarkets will not have all the products or that they will be in their homes for a very long time. So they are going to the supermarkets and buying all the toilet paper, all the dry pasta, all of the canned food.
This is very annoying because, you know, I just want to buy food and it’s very to get food right now! There is a lot of food missing in the supermarkets. So hopefully, within a few weeks it will be normal again. But it won’t really be normal because right now, effectively, we are all under quarantine.
So quarantine is when you have to stay inside because of a disease, an illness. So because of the coronavirus, many people are staying inside. Technically, a quarantine is only when they stop you from leaving. So right now in the UK you can actually travel around, so it’s not a real quarantine. But in Wuhan, in China—I’m not sure if there still is a quarantine, but there definitely was a quarantine for a long time.
Anyway, I have been pretty nervous, pretty anxious and worried because of the coronavirus. Every day, even every hour, the news has been changing. They have announced new things. Nobody knows how long we will be in quarantine, how much of an effect the virus will have. We really just don’t know. So, for now, we just have to stay calm, or as calm as we can be.
So at the moment I am doing all of my work online. Because the schools are closed, I am doing all of my classes online. And if you are interested in online classes with me, go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Classes. Actually, I have quite a lot classes, I’m quite busy. So you might have to wait a bit before we have a class, but I love teaching listeners of the podcast.
So anyway, I was very anxious and worried but now I have said, ‘Enough! I am going to just try and be positive and focus my energy on the podcast.’ Because I really do love making the podcast and, as I will tell you in a bit, I have some new things that I will be doing with the podcast.
But first, I just want to tell you a bit about today’s story. So today’s story is based on Little Red Riding Hood. Little Red Riding Hood is probably the most famous fairy tale ever. If you don’t recognise it from the name, I will explain it.
So it’s about a little girl who goes into the forest to go to her grandmother’s house, but a wolf comes and eats her grandmother, and then the little girl goes inside and she sees the grandmother, but actually it’s the wolf, and she says, ‘Oh, Grandmother, what big ears you have! What big eyes you have! What big teeth you have!’ and then the wolf attacks her and she gets help from a wood-cutter. So a man comes with an axe to attack the wolf.
If you didn’t understand some of the words I just used, don’t worry! I’m going to explain them in a bit. But hopefully, you recognise the story from my description.
Anyway, today’s story is not exactly Little Red Riding Hood. I have changed it because, as you know, I like to make the stories my own. And actually, today’s story is really about the coronavirus. So it’s a version of Little Red Riding Hood about the coronavirus. So if you don’t want to hear any more about the coronavirus, you are sick of hearing about it, maybe don’t listen to this episode. At least for now!
Oh, and by the way, a riding hood is kind of an old-fashioned word. It basically means a kind of coat that has a hood. So a hood is the part of a coat that goes over your head so that you don’t get rain in your hair. So it’s kind of like a coat, really.
So, because many people are under quarantine, many people are anxious at this time, and it is hard to go out and talk to friends, I have decided to do a live stream.
So a live stream is like a video, but with a video you wait and then the video goes online and it’s completely there. With a live stream, you go and watch the video as I make it, and you can comment and interact with me.
So the live stream will be on YouTube, and the idea is so I can talk to you listeners and hopefully together, we can feel a bit less lonely with this virus going around. In the live stream, I will talk about my life, I will do a little puppet show, tell you a little story, and there will be questions and answers. So you can ask me all the questions you have about my life, about the podcast, about whatever, anything! The live stream will be on YouTube on the 28th of March, so this coming Saturday, at 1pm, that’s 13:00, Greenwich Mean Time, GMT. So that’s British time. And that is +0 hours if you are looking at time zones.
But probably, you’re thinking, “Urgh, time zones are confusing!” and I agree! So if you go to the transcript at EasyStoriesInEnglish.com/Red, I will put a link to the stream on my YouTube channel at the top. And the YouTube channel for the live stream is Easy Stories in English, but probably just go to the transcript and click the link there.
Also, I have decided I want to talk to you more about, well, my life, but also about language learning tips. So I quite enjoy learning languages myself. Actually, I speak seven languages. And I have a lot of techniques and methods that I use to study other languages. So I thought, “Hmm, why don’t I share my tips and help with you?”
So if you are interested in reading about my language learning advice, you can sign up to my email newsletter. So once a week I will send you an email where I talk about language learning tips and maybe about my life, as well. Also, if you sign up to the email newsletter, I will email you an hour or two before the live stream starts so you can make sure that you don’t miss the live stream.
So to sign up to the email list, just go to EasyStoriesInEnglish.com and you will find the box to sign up on the front page.
If you can’t come to the live stream on Saturday, don’t worry! You can still send me a question and I will answer it on the live stream. So if you have any questions you want me to answer on the live stream, please email them to me at Ariel@EasyStoriesInEnglish.com. I am actually really looking forward to answering your questions and also to the live stream. I think it will be a lot of fun!
OK, I’ll just explain some words that are in today’s story.
An illness is when you are ill, or sick. So a cold is an illness, influenza is an illness and cancer is an illness. At the moment, the most important illness is coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Weak means not strong. So you might be weak because you are ill, because you never do exercise, or because you don’t eat enough food.
Fear is when you are scared, or afraid. When you are afraid, you feel fear. For example, I have a fear of heights. I am afraid of heights.
Your voice is the thing you use to speak. So right now, I am using my voice to speak. You can have a high voice or a low voice. You can have a LOUD VOICE or a quiet voice. I like to sing with my voice. [vocalises]. And so on.
Hoarse is when your voice sounds like this. Usually, your voice is hoarse because you are ill, or maybe because you are very old, or have not drunk enough water.
Smile is when you move the sides of your mouth up. You want to show that you are happy. If you like someone, you smile at them. It is like a laugh, but smaller. In some countries, people smile a lot more than in other countries. Sometimes Thailand is called “the land of smiles”.
Stupid means not intelligent, not clever. It is not nice to call someone stupid. Sometimes, we call ourselves stupid, because we can’t do something easy. But of course, nobody listening to this podcast is stupid! You are all very clever.
Attack is when you try to hurt someone. You might attack someone with a weapon, like a knife or a gun. Or you might attack someone with words, and say that they are ugly or stupid.
A wolf is a big animal like a dog. But wolves are much more dangerous than dogs. They live in groups called packs. Wolves like to sit under the moon and howl. They go awoo.
Hide, and the past tense is “hid”, is when you make it so people can’t see something. For example, maybe you are eating chocolate, but you don’t want other people to see it, because then they will want to eat the chocolate. So you hide the chocolate in the cupboard so that they won’t see it. You can also hide yourself. Maybe you don’t want your teacher to see you, because you forgot to do the homework, so you hide behind a door.
An axe is a big tool that you use to cut down trees. It has a long handle and a large blade. Nowadays, we don’t use axes so much because we have machines to cut trees for us. Axes can also be used as weapons. For example, Gimli in Lord of the Rings uses axes, and so does Jack Torrance in the film The Shining.
A frying pan is a tool you use for cooking. It is low and wide, and you fry food in a frying pan. For example, you can fry onion and garlic in a frying pan. You can also hit someone on the head with a frying pan and hurt them a lot!
If you enjoy the podcast and want more, you can support us on Patreon. For just $2 a month you can get exercises with each episode, and for $5 you get an extra story every month. You can support us at Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish.
A big thank-you to our new patrons: Daniel Rabina, Durelle Lizregbel and Massimiliano Ghiso. I hope I pronounced those correctly. Thank you so much. Your support really means a lot to us.
OK, so listen and enjoy!
Little Red Riding Hood
There was an illness in the world. It went everywhere. It went into cities, towns and villages. It went inside houses, inside factories, inside people’s thoughts. The people could not see it, but they felt it. At first, it felt like a light wind. But days passed, and then weeks, and the illness started working. It hit men and women, and made them sick for weeks. It took the old and the weak. Everywhere, people were afraid, and cold.
The worst illness of all is fear. The illness killed people, but it was fear that took away their life. Everyone was afraid of everyone else, because anyone could have the illness. No place was safe. Nobody was safe. So people hid inside their houses and waited.
Strangely, children did not get the illness. They were safe and healthy. But the fear was all around them, and they became sick in their hearts.
Little Red Riding Hood lived alone with her mother. Her real name was Martha, but everyone called her Little Red Riding Hood, because she wore a long red coat. She was “Red” for short.
‘Red,’ said her mother to her one day. ‘You love your grandmother, don’t you?’
‘Of course!’ said Red.
‘Can you bring her the food this week? I cannot go outside. I might get sick.’
Red’s grandmother lived alone in the forest. Once a week, her mother took bread and fruit to her.
Red’s mother gave her a bag of food.
‘I’m afraid, Mother,’ said Red. ‘There are no people outside, and there is the illness…’
‘You are a child. The illness does not hurt children.’
‘But there are many scary animals in the forest, like dogs and wolves…’
‘You are friends with all the animals!’ said her mother. ‘Please, Red. Go for me. I must go and sleep, now. I am very tired.’
Red’s mother went to bed. The girl sat and thought. She did not want to go outside at all. There were no people out in the town, and everything felt cold and dark. And it was a long walk to her grandmother’s house—several hours. The forest was dangerous.
TAP TAP. Red jumped. There was a sound at the window. It was a small bird. She went and opened the window.
‘Hello, Red!’ said the bird.
‘Hello, Chirpy,’ said Red.
‘I am sorry. I heard you talking to your mother. She wants you to take food to your grandmother.’
‘Well, you can’t go!’ said Chirpy. ‘There is the illness.’
‘But Mother said that children can’t get the illness.’
‘Oh no, you can get it. Simply, when you get it, you don’t get sick.’
‘I don’t understand,’ said Red.
‘Hmm, let me explain… Let’s say that you are wearing a black dress, and your friend is wearing a white dress. You both eat spaghetti with tomato sauce for dinner, and you both get food on your dress. Your friend with the white dress, her dress would be all red from the sauce. But your dress, because it is black, would look clean. But really, it also has sauce on it. That is what the illness is like. You might not feel bad, but you still have the illness inside you, and you could give it to someone else.’
‘Oh no!’ said Red. ‘Do you mean that I could have the illness already?’
‘Yes, but don’t worry. If you stay inside, you will not give it to anyone. So, you cannot take the food to your grandmother, because she could get sick and die.’
‘But what can we do?’ said Red. ‘If I do not take her food, she will die as well!’
‘Ah, don’t worry about that!’
Chirpy called, and five more birds flew to the window.
‘We will take the bag for you,’ said Chirpy.
So Red handed the birds the bag of food and told them where to go.
That evening, Red made soup and brought it to her mother in bed.
‘How are you feeling, Mother?’ said Red.
‘Fine,’ she said. But her voice was hoarse. ‘Did you bring the food to your grandmother? I didn’t hear you going out.’
Red smiled. ‘Do not worry. I did not want to bring the illness to Grandmother, so I gave the bag to my friends. They took it to her.’
‘Oh, Red, don’t play games! You know that birds cannot talk, and they certainly cannot bring a heavy bag of food into the forest. What did you really do with the food?’
‘I’m telling you! The birds took it to her.’
‘Red, you can’t play games at a time like this!’ Her mother looked very red and angry. She sat up in bed, and she sounded very tired.
‘I’m sorry, Mother. But the birds told me that I can carry the illness. Even if I do not get ill myself, I could give it to Grandmother.’
‘That’s not true! Oh, you are a bad little girl! If your grandmother dies…’
Red started crying, and ran to her bed. She didn’t want her grandmother to die. Of course she didn’t! That was why she had sent the birds. But her mother didn’t want to believe her!
The next day, Red went to make food for her and her mother. Her mother was still in bed, and now she looked very red. Red thought she had the illness, but her mother didn’t want to talk about it.
When Red went to the cupboard, there was no food there.
‘Mother,’ she said. ‘We have no bread, no cheese and no vegetables. What can we do?’
‘Here,’ her mother said. She went under the bed and found some money. ‘Go out and buy food. No, wait.’
Slowly, she got out of bed, huffing and puffing. ‘I don’t know if you will actually do it. I will go and get the food myself.’
‘No, Mother, you are too sick!’
‘I am just fine!’ said her mother. ‘Stay here and be good, and don’t go and talk to any of your animal friends.’
So Red sat downstairs and waited while her mother went and bought food. Her mother was very weak, and she could make other people sick… But Red couldn’t do anything, so she just sat and waited.
TAP TAP. There was a sound at the window. Red ran to it. She thought she would see all six birds, but there was just Chirpy there. Chirpy had a big cut on his body—he was hurt!
‘Chirpy, what happened?’ asked Red, opening the window.
‘We took the food to your grandmother, but we were attacked. There is a Big Bad Wolf in the forest. He waited, and after we left the food, he attacked us. He took the food and ate it all up! I watched him for a while. Red, it is terrible! He waits outside your grandmother’s house. He knocks on the door and says, “Hello, Granny! It is Little Red Riding Hood. I have food for you!” ’
‘Oh no!’ said Red. ‘The wolf wants to eat her.’
‘Yes,’ said the bird. ‘But there is a wood-cutter, in the forest. He can help you. He can kill the wolf. Oh, I feel so tired. I am just going to sleep for a while…’
Chirpy closed his eyes, and he did not wake up.
Red started crying. She cried and cried. She ran into her bed and cried even more. She cried for hours, but her mother did not come home.
‘Oh, what am I going to do? Chirpy is dead, and the Big Bad Wolf wants to eat my grandmother. And Mother is gone! What can I do?’
She wanted to go out and find the wood-cutter, but she was afraid. The Big Bad Wolf might find her and eat her up! And she probably had the illness. She could give the wood-cutter the illness, and he would die before he killed the wolf!
But she could not do anything else. So she got out of bed and pulled on her red coat.
‘Red, let’s go and save your grandmother,’ she said to herself.
Carefully, she opened the door of the house. She looked around, but she saw no people. Everyone was hiding in their houses. So she walked out, and went into the forest.
It was dark and cold there. She had walked through the forest many times, and she always thought that it was beautiful. But now, the flowers and the trees all looked horrible. She did not want to be there. The Big Bad Wolf could be hiding anywhere.
She didn’t know where the wood-cutter lived, so she looked all around, very carefully. Finally, she saw a wooden house, far away.
‘He must live there!’ she said.
She ran to the house, but then she heard a growling noise. She stopped and hid behind a tree.
Then she saw him. The Big Bad Wolf. He was twice as big as a normal wolf, and his teeth were twice as long. His eyes were red, and he was horribly hairy. He was walking around the wood-cutter’s house, banging on the walls.
‘Open up, open up, Mr. Wood-Cutter! It’s the Big Bad Wolf. You want to kill me, don’t you? So do it! I’m here. I’m waiting.’
‘Go away!’ shouted the wood-cutter from inside.
The Big Bad Wolf laughed. ‘You are a weak little man. But don’t worry. I will eat you in the end. Even if the illness kills you first, I will eat your body. Yum yum.’
And the wolf ran away into the forest.
Red felt sick, but she had to keep going. The wolf was probably going to her grandmother’s house.
Red ran to the wood-cutter’s house and knocked on the door.
‘I’m sorry, Mr. Wood-Cutter? I’m Red. My grandmother lives in the forest, and the Big Bad Wolf wants to eat her. My friend told me you could kill him.’
‘Do you think I’m stupid?’ said the wood-cutter.
‘I know it’s you. You’re the wolf again. You can change your voice, but I know it’s you.’
‘I’m not the wolf! I’m just a little girl!’
The wood-cutter came up to the window and looked out. He was a tall man, but he looked weak. His face was all red, and his eyes looked very tired.
‘What are you doing here? The wolf will eat you!’
‘Please help me! I know you are strong. You can kill him!’
‘I’m not strong,’ said the wood-cutter. ‘Nobody is strong. This illness is killing us all. Now go home, little girl.’
And the wood-cutter closed the curtains.
Red didn’t know what to do. If the wood-cutter couldn’t help her, who could? She walked around the house, and almost started crying, but she stopped herself.
And then she saw something. Behind the house there was lots of wood that the wood-cutter had been cutting. And in one of the pieces of wood was his axe.
‘Well, he doesn’t need this.’
She took the axe. It was heavy, but she could carry it with both arms. She ran away from the house.
‘Hey, that’s my axe!’ shouted the wood-cutter, but Red didn’t listen to him.
She ran to her grandmother’s house as fast as she could. She looked around the house, but she did not see the wolf. So she went and knocked on the door.
‘Grandmother, Grandmother, it’s me, Red! Please open the door!’
Her grandmother’s voice came from inside. It was low and hoarse. ‘How do I know it is you, Red?’
“Oh no,” thought Red. “Her voice is so hoarse. She must have the illness!”
‘Come to the window and look,’ said Red.
So her grandmother looked out and saw that it was her. She opened the door.
Red’s grandmother looked very strange. She was wearing a long white dress and white gloves. She had a big hat on, and it was hard to see her face.
‘My dear, what a big axe you have,’ said her grandmother. ‘Come inside and put it down. Did you run here? You look very tired.’
Red was so happy to see her grandmother. For a moment, she thought that everything was going to be OK. She came and sat down, and she put the axe on the table. Her grandmother made her a cup of tea, and they sat and talked.
‘Oh, Grandmother, you must be so afraid. That wolf wants to eat you! Where is he now?’
Her grandmother laughed. ‘He is just a little dog, really. I shouted at him and told him to go away. He will not come back.’
‘Really?’ said Red.
Her grandmother was so strong. Of course she was fine. Red had worried and worried, but Grandmother had stopped the wolf on her own.
‘I’m so happy to see you,’ said Red. ‘Oh, I was so worried. Mother went to go and find food, and she didn’t come back. And Chirpy came to see you, but the wolf attacked him, and he died.’
Grandmother was putting on white makeup. That was strange. Normally she didn’t wear makeup.
‘Who is Chirpy?’ she said. ‘That is a strange name.’
‘Oh, you know Chirpy! My friend who is a bird.’
‘A bird?!’ said Grandmother.
‘Yes, Grandmother. You know I can talk to animals.’
‘Oh yes, of course… Drink your tea, dear. It will get cold.’
Red drank her tea, but she felt strange. Her grandmother was being… strange.
‘Grandmother, your voice sounds hoarse. Are you sick?’
‘Oh no, dear. I am just a little tired.’
Red looked more carefully at her.
‘But Grandmother, what big ears you have!’
‘All the better to hear you with, my dear.’
‘But Grandmother, what big eyes you have!’
‘All the better to see you with, my dear.’
Her grandmother smiled.
‘But Grandmother, what big teeth you have!’
Her grandmother laughed. ‘All the better to eat you with, my dear!’
Her grandmother jumped up, and her hat fell off. In fact, it was not her grandmother at all, but the wolf! He was wearing her clothes, and had white makeup on his face, but it was the Big Bad Wolf!
Red took the axe off the table and attacked the wolf. But she was not strong enough, and all she did was cut her grandmother’s dress.
The wolf laughed, and picked her up. ‘Stupid little girl! You cannot kill me. Mmm, I think you will be much nicer than your grandmother! She was too sick. I don’t like my food to be sick!’
‘Grandmother is alive?’ said Red.
‘Yes, but you will not live to see her!’
The wolf went to eat her up, but Red said, ‘Wait!’
‘I am friends with all the animals. You like to eat cats and dogs, don’t you? And birds and fish? I can give you all the animals. They will not be sick. You could eat and eat and eat!’
‘Hrmm,’ said the wolf. ‘But I will still eat you in the end, you know?’
‘I know. But please. I just want to see my grandmother before you—’
BANG! The wolf let go of Red and fell to the floor. Behind him was Red’s grandmother, holding a big frying pan. She had hit the wolf on the head, and now he was sleeping on the floor.
‘Grandmother!’ said Red, and she went to kiss her.
‘No, no!’ said her grandmother. ‘You could make me sick.’
‘Oh, of course!’ said Red. ‘So you are not sick already?’
‘No.’ Her face was red, but she put some water on it, and it came off. ‘I just put on some makeup and talked in a hoarse voice. I knew the wolf would not want to eat me if I was sick. He came in and put me in a cupboard, but I got out. Oh, my lovely Red! Let us drink some tea. But first, we need to do something with this wolf.’
So they put the wolf in a cupboard, and then they sat down and drank tea, and Red told her everything that had happened.
‘That wood-cutter is a very stupid man,’ said Grandmother. ‘He always says he is so strong, but really he is very weak.’
‘Grandmother, what can I do? I think Mother is dead. I can’t go and live alone.’
‘Well, if she is dead, then you will come and live here.’
‘But I might make you sick!’
‘Of course you won’t! I will put you in a room for two weeks, with lots of food and drink. When we are sure that you are not sick, you can come and talk with me, and play games.’
‘But how will we get food?’
Grandmother laughed. ‘You are the friend of all animals, aren’t you? You can go and get food from them. They will not make you sick. This illness is for people, only. I live in the forest, and I have not seen a single sick animal.’
So Red went home the next day. Her mother was not there. But Red did not cry. She had already cried enough. She took her things, said goodbye to the house, and went and lived with her grandmother.
And no wolf, big or bad, came to hurt them ever again.
If you enjoyed the story, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Go to Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. That’s Patreon.com/EasyStoriesInEnglish. For just a few dollars a month you can get extra episodes, exercises, and much more. Thank you for listening, and until next week.