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Last updated at 10:59 BST, Tuesday, 11 June 2013

A leopard can't change its spots

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Feifei and Jen are visiting the zoo. Jen likes the leopards in particular, which inspires her to talk about one of her favourite phrases in English. Listen to this programme to find out more.

A leopard

Can a leopard change its spots?

The script for this programme

Jennifer: Hello, I'm Jennifer and this is The English We Speak. I'm with Feifei, and we're here at the zoo!

Feifei: Hi there everyone. Yes, the sun is out, so we thought we would come and take a look at some of our favourite animals. We've already seen the elephants and penguins – I love the penguins, they're so funny.

Jennifer: Well we're moving on now to my favourites – the big cats!

Feifei: According to this leaflet, they have lions, tigers, pumas and leopards!

Jennifer: Fantastic – I love leopards. They're so beautiful and they also feature in one of my favourite phrases in English.

Feifei: Let me guess, it's "a leopard can't change its spots"?

Jennifer: Absolutely, Feifei. The phrase "a leopard can't change its spots" is used to describe a person's character, particularly if they have some bad habits.

Feifei: Just as a leopard can't change the spots on its fur, a person can't change their personality, even if they say they have. It's part of them.

Jennifer: Let's hear some examples of how you might use this phrase.

  • John promised me that he would stay out of trouble at school, but I don't believe him. A leopard can't change its spots.
  • Katie used to have a reputation for gossiping and spreading rumours. I've heard she's changed now, but I don't trust her: a leopard can't change its spots.


Feifei: Great phrase. Let's see if we can find a real life leopard then!

Jennifer: Well, the big cat area is over there, according to this map. Oh look! I can see lions… They have little baby ones too… Ah! But where are the leopards?

Feifei: Er, Jen…

Jennifer: They must be here somewhere, a big spotty cat like that can't be too hard to find.

Feifei: (whispering) Jen, I think you should…

Jennifer: Hurry, they must be this way. I want to see a leopard right now! A leopard can't change its spots and I can't change the fact that it's my favourite animal in the whole wide world!

Feifei: I think you should turn around!

(huge growl and roar)

Jennifer: (terrified) Oh. Hello Mr Leopard. You're a lot bigger in real life…

Feifei: (whispering) Join us again for another edition of The English We Speak from BBC Learning English… Bye!

(roar)

Jennifer: Here kitty, kitty, kitty. Nice kitty…

(roar)

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