Online English Tutorial Helping You Speak English Fluently Ep 296

A photograph of red, black and white grapes with acid green grape vine leaves used to help describe the English idiom, heard it through the grapevine.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2239 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 12 min

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Online English Tutorial

If you are looking for online English tutorials to help you speak English fluently, then you’ve hit the jackpot! Adept English has hundreds of free English tutorials covering English pronunciation, fluently, speaking, listening also common phrases, grammar and finally we have lessons that cover idioms.

Here at Adept English we like to make sure that everything we teach is regular everyday English. We don’t believe in you need to learn anywhere near the 200,000+ English vocabulary words to have an everyday English conversation.

So when we focus a lesson on a particular word or phrase in English. We like to make sure it’s one that you would hear in Britain right now today.

That is how today's lesson came about, today’s podcast lesson is on idioms we literally heard on BBC radio, Jan 2020, and we can guarantee that every native English speaker who heard these idioms understood what the BBC reporter was talking about.

So these idioms definitely passed our Is it useful everyday English? test and when you listen you will learn so much more. So enjoy.

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.
⭐ E. B. White, American Author

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

Through The Grapevine16
Piece Of Information4
The ‘Rumour Mill4
The Grapevine’ Is3
A ‘Rumour Mill2

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: Online English Tutorial Helping You Speak English Fluently

Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English, your online English tutorial for this week! And remember we don’t just provide our podcasts as online English tutorials. Remember that we do also sell a multipack, a large bundle of podcasts.

For a small price, you can buy lots and lots and lots of our podcasts to download all at once, immediately. In fact, some podcast bundle news for you – we‘ve added another 50 podcasts to our podcast bundle.

So you can now buy 200 Adept English podcasts for the same price as it was for 150 of them. And if you’re one of the people who bought 150 podcasts from us, then you should’ve automatically received the next 50 podcasts for free! Just imagine how good your understanding of English will be if you’ve listened to that many English tutorials! If you’re interested in that, then check out our website at – and go to the podcast download page.

There are lots of English tutors and English teachers online, many people who teach English online, but we try to be different by making it interesting, authentic and personal – you get to know me - and we’re also very accurate when it comes to grammar and spelling.

Buy an Adept English Podcast Bundle

How about today we learn an idiom and some words which mean the same thing as the idiom? We’ve not done an idiom for a while – and as you know, English is full of them. I woke up this morning to the news and the words I heard first of all were ‘People hear through the grapevine that ...’ and then there was a discussion about what people are talking about, unofficially.

Have you heard ‘Heard it through the grapevine’?

So today’s idiom is ‘I heard it through the grapevine’. You may know the song, which is quite an old one, originally sung by Gladys Knight and the Pips, but more famously recorded by Marvin Gaye. And it was in the charts in 1968, so that’s really old. And if you don’t know this song, ‘Heard it through the grapevine’, 2 minutes search on Google and you’ll probably find it. And then you can have a listen and see if you know it. ‘I heard it through the grapevine’. Maybe there’s a whole series of podcasts, where I could take lyrics, words of songs that you might know – that’s lyrics, L-Y-R-I-C-S – to help you with English. There’s an idea! If you have a favourite song in English, but have trouble understanding the lyrics, the words, let us know!


What does ‘Heard it through the grapevine’ mean?

So what does it mean, ‘I heard it through the grapevine’? Vocabulary first of all. So ‘I heard’ - from the verb ‘to hear’, which you probably know already. ‘To hear’ means that you receive information through your ears. You’re hearing me talking right now. You hear your dog bark or your friend speak. And ‘through the grapevine’? Well, a grapevine is the plant upon which grapes grow. And a grape, G-R-A-P-E is a fruit – and grapes grow in bunches. You’d be unlikely to just eat one grape. And grapes are the fruit that you make wine from. So broadly speaking, from black grapes comes red wine – and from green grapes comes white wine. And a vine, V-I-N-E is the plant, more like a little tree or climbing plant, upon which grapes grow.

There are a lot of things to know about growing grapes and growing them well and the knowledge of that is called viticulture. And more related vocabulary – if you’re familiar with the way that grapes are grown on a larger scale, so we’re not just talking here about the vine that you might grow at the back of your house, to sit underneath in the summer. If you’re familiar with the way that grapes are grown on a larger scale, the vines are planted in rows. And they grow into one another, the vines link up, connect to each other. So a field where grapes are being grown like this in rows is called a vineyard, V-I-N-E-Y-A-R-D.

So the idea here, with this idiom, is that things can transmit along a grapevine. I don’t know anything about growing grapes in a vineyard, but I would imagine that a disease, or some other kind of problem growing grapes, would travel along the row of vines pretty quickly, because they’re all touching one another.

Different kinds of grapevine

So if you ‘hear something through the grapevine’, the meaning of this idiom is that you’ve heard some information, unofficially, it’s come ‘by word of mouth’ - from person to person. So, ‘through the grapevine’ is an idiom for this effect. Often information travelling ‘through the grapevine’ means that it’s a bit gossipy, people discussing other people’s business for their own enjoyment. But at the same time, it’s human nature to talk to one another, to discuss things. And the grapevine is particulary in action at work, in a working environment. There’s often a lot of discussion about ‘what’s going on’ in your place of work. That’s just how things go. So back to the Marvin Gaye song ‘[I] heard it through the grapevine’, the next line is ‘Not much longer would you be mine’ - i.e. that means his girlfriend is about to finish their relationship. Not a good way to find out, your girlfriend is about to finish with you – no wonder he’s upset at hearing it through the grapevine! In fact, social media – Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram – they’re all grapevines really, aren’t they? Improve your English online through social media too!

Rumours and the ‘rumour mill’

So other words for this sort of communication in English? Well, you might hear people talk about ‘the rumour mill’. The word ‘rumour’ - it’s spelt differently in US English, so R-U-M-O-R and in UK English, it’s R-U-M-O-U-R. ‘A rumour’ is a story or a piece of information, which you hear because people are talking about it, but you’re not sure whether it’s true, or whether the story is accurate.


And the ‘rumour mill’? That means what happens when people get talking, when people pass on rumours. A mill, M-I-L-L – well, that’s an industrial building. It’s where things are made. So a flour mill, F-L-O-U-R is where flour is made. A cotton mill – is where cotton is made into fabric and clothes. So a ‘rumour mill’ means, as an idiom, a place where rumours are made. On an industrial scale, perhaps! So that once people start talking and share rumours, things which noone is certain whether they’re true or not, it often generates more rumours. I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where there’s a rumour mill.

Chinese Whispers

Another related saying we have in English is ‘Chinese whispers’. ‘Chinese’ means something that comes from ‘China’ and a whisper – that’s both a noun, ‘a whisper’ or a verb ‘to whisper’, spelt W-H-I-S-P-E-R. It means when you speak quietly like this. That’s a whisper. This refers to the effect of a piece of information being passed on, which slowly changes, because people just change the meaning slightly and it passes ‘along the grapevine’. So when a piece of information is repeated as a whisper, it gets changed slightly, each time, perhaps because people don’t hear it properly – or because they take a slightly different meaning from it. So as the information has been exchanged, passed on a number of times, it changes. It becomes a different piece of information.


A photograph of a man with a woman whispering something into his ear, used to help explain the British game Chinese whispers.

©️ Adept English 2020

So if someone says ‘Oh, that’s Chinese whispers’, they‘re referring to the fact that information passed on from person to person, may be inaccurate, incorrect, wrong. It’s an effect we all know. And it’s also a game that children play, in a line, whispering to each other along the line. And the last child in the line, then says out loud what was whispered – and of course, it might be different from what was whispered at the beginning. Why Chinese Whispers? I’m not sure – probably a very westernized view of the world, when westerners first encountered the Chinese languages and found them impossible to understand perhaps.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

So there we are ‘to hear something through the grapevine’ is one idiom and another useful piece of vocubulary – a rumour and ‘the rumour mill’. And ‘Chinese Whispers’ is both a game children play – but also an effect of ‘hearing things through the grapevine’. There you are – three idioms in one podcast!


Don’t forget, if you know other people who want to learn English free online, who would benefit from an online English tutorial every week, then pass on the information about Adept English – through the grapevine, if you like! Learn English online with Adept English.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

P.S. YouTube Channel

I thought I would take a few minutes and mention how our YouTube channel is doing. If you don’t know about it, it’s basically our recent podcast audio lessons, the ones you hear on Spotify or Apple Podcasts reworked to play as videos with the English PDF transcripts converted to closed captions.

The idea is, you can listen to the English lesson audio as normal and also read the transcript at the same time. This is helpful to you, if during your listening you are not sure of an English word or phrase, and you can look it up right away. I like to think of it as the audio and transcript all in one place.

When we started our new YouTube channel, as you might imagine, we were just a tiny drop in an ocean of YouTube videos, and we had so few subscribers and views we actually at one point thought we should just keep to podcasts.

With 250,000+ podcast listeners every month, it was weird only having 100 views for a whole month on YouTube! Like all things on the Internet, it takes time to get noticed, and slowly at first, but now much faster, we are building up the YouTube channel, with 2,000+ subscribers and getting thousands more views.

If you haven’t checked the channel out, you might find it helps you and you can find it here-> YouTube Channel



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