In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

All Roads Lead to Rome


1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Can you think of some different ways to study English?


James's student, a boy named Michael, has a problem with his listening skills.

James: Hey, Michael. Whatcha doin'?
Michael: What?
James: I said, "Whatcha doin'?" It's "What are you doing?" spoken more naturally.
Michael: Oh. Sorry. You know, sometimes I can't get what other people are saying in English. So, what's the best way to improve my listening skills?
James: Actually, there's no single "best" way. After all, "All roads lead to Rome."
Michael: James... uh... I'm not going to Rome...
James: [laughs] No, Mike, I just mean that whichever way you go, you'll get there. However you study, your listening will improve.
Michael: For instance?
James: You can listen to English pop songs, and read the lyrics. Or watch movies or TV shows in English. That's really good, because you can use the subtitles to check your understanding.
Michael: OK, thanks, James.
James: No problem.


This proverb means that any way that you do something is alright. "There's more than one way to skin a cat" would be another proverb with the same meaning.

The expression comes from the medieval times (long after the Roman Empire fell). Even then, however, people were still using the roads that the Romans built (and of course Rome was still important as a political and religious capital).

More notes:
  • Whatcha doin'?: A casual way to say, "What are you doing?" It means, "What's up?" or "What's new?" We often slide our sounds together (like the famous words "wanna"="want to" and "gonna"="going to"). This makes it harder to understand native speakers.
  • Mike: "Mike" is a nickname for "Michael." A much less formal nickname is "Mickey," like the mouse!
  • read the lyrics: You can often find song lyrics (the words to the song) in English. You can listen to the song for a while, and then read the lyrics to see if you understood.
  • use the subtitles: If you use the subtitles on a DVD, first watch one scene (5-10 minutes) without subtitles. Then, watch with English subtitles to see if you heard the correct words. Finally, watch with subtitles in your language, to see if you understood the meaning. (Be sure the DVD you watch has good subtitles!)


Use each of the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. I enjoy learning a song's __________, especially if they're about love.
2. My friend Mickey's real name is __________. "Mickey" is just a nickname.
3. Hi, Jane. __________?
4. Sometimes the __________ on a film are wrong. It can be really confusing!
5. Are you __________ go to the concert?


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Can you think of a situation where you would use the expression "All roads lead to Rome"? Talk about it.
2. What's your favorite English song? Talk about some of the lyrics.
3. What's your favorite English film? Talk about some of the dialogue (words spoken) in the film.


1. lyrics; 2. Michael; 3. Whatcha doin'?; 4. subtitles; 5. gonna

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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