This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
  More 6 minute English  
6 Minute English


- The wisdom of keeping quiet


- Asteroid mission


- Problem pronunciation


- Big hills and small mountains


- Dhaka traffic

A wise old man

The wisdom of keeping quiet


For many people across the world, one of life's most valuable qualities is wisdom. In this week's programme, Yvonne is joined by one of BBC Learning English's wisest people - Callum Robertson! But can talking about 'wisdom' make them wiser? And can a few words of wisdom really help us all lead more successful lives?

This week's question: Who said, 'Life is like an onion: you peel it off one layer at a time and sometimes you weep?'

a) Carl Sandburg
b) Alan Bennett
c) Confucius

Listen out for the answer to this question at the end of the programme!


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Vocabulary from the programme

a quality which develops with increased knowledge and experiences in life

a skill which enables someone to say and do things without offending other people

ways of letting other people know what you think, how you feel and what you want

to keep schtum
to stay quiet and not say anything at all (informal Yiddish as spoken by Jewish people)

to ride out a bad situation
to wait until things get better without doing or saying anything

to sit on the fence
to keep your opinion to yourself and not make a decision

laid back
easy going, not making a fuss, not arguing

someone who is shy and prefers to stay away from other people is retiring

to state your case
to clearly tell other people what you want or believe

wise and intelligent (adjective)

a sage
a person who is wise

download audioDownload this programme (mp3 - 2.9 MB)
download scriptProgramme script (pdf - 28 K)

Related Links

Reith Lectures 2008: Confucian ways
Alan Bennett - biography
Carl Sandburg - biography*

*The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites
^^ Back to top More 6 minute English