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Last updated at 13:10 GMT, Tuesday, 08 February 2011

Rabbit in the Headlights

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Have you ever felt like a rabbit in the headlights? Finn and Yang Li explain this phrase in The English We Speak.

Silhouettes of people wearing rabbit ears

The script from this programme:

Finn: Hello. I'm Finn.

Li:
And I'm Li.

Finn:
And we're whispering – we're talking very quietly - because we are about to watch an awards ceremony for the best dancer in the UK.

Li:
Yes – I think it's going to begin now. Shh.

Awards Host:
And the award for best dancer this year goes to… Timmy Tapper!

(Applause)

Timmy Tapper:
Erm, thank you!

Awards Host:
Timmy, would you like to say a few words?

Timmy Tapper:
Yes, erm, thank you… to… everybody! Thanks.

Awards Host:
Great. Well thank you Timmy. You've done a fantastic job this year!

Finn:
(whispers) Li, what happened? He was like a rabbit in the headlights.

Li:
I don't know, he was very nervous. But what did you say, Finn, about rabbits?

Finn:
Oh, rabbits, yes. A rabbit in the headlights. It's a phrase used to describe someone who is so nervous that they can't move or speak.

Li:
I see. Someone who is too nervous to move or speak. But why does it involve headlights – the lights at the front of a car?

Finn:
Well if you think about if you are driving a car at night and you have your headlights on. Suddenly, a rabbit appears in the middle of the road. But it is too scared by the car driving towards for it to run away. It's a rabbit in the headlights.

Li:
That's a rabbit in the headlights. Oh, Finn, I think Timmy Tapper wants to say something.

Finn:
Oh yes.

Timmy Tapper:
Oh, sorry. Can I just say one more thing?

Awards Host:
Sure, go ahead, Timmy!

(Timmy starts tap dancing)

Awards Host:
Well, isn't that amazing!

Li:
Ha ha. I think Timmy was nervous speaking in front of everyone here just now, but now he's happy to express himself through tap dancing!

Finn:
He looks very happy doesn't he? And while Timmy dances, I have some advice for everyone. If you want to speak confident English, and not be like a rabbit in the headlights, why not visit our website explore our free English learning materials?

Li:
bbclearningenglish.com

Finn:
That's it. Bye.

Li:
Bye.

(Timmy tap dancing)



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