Learn English with English, baby!

Join for FREE!

Rat Race
Rat Race English, baby! Video Lesson

Learn the Definition of the Slang Phrase 'Rat Race'

Date: Nov 20 2012

Themes: Soap Opera, Work

Grammar: Verbs with "-ing"


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

Go Super to Listen Go Super!

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

Go Super to Listen Go Super!

Big cities are full of opportunity. With so many businesses and people close together, great things happen. Gridlock also happens.

While cities are exciting, living in them can be hard. Apartments are often small and expensive, and with so many people around, there is usually lots of traffic.

We call the difficult side of city living the rat race. Working long hours and living in small spaces can make you feel like a rat.

After a long day at work, Jason and Devan sat in traffic for hours on the way home and it didn’t make them feel good. Watch this English lesson video to learn more about the meaning of the English idiom, “rat race.”




詹森和德凡结束了一天漫长的工作后,坐在回家的公车上,数小时的交通拥堵使得他们的心情差到了极点。请观看本节英文课视频,学习英语习语“rat race”的更多含义。

3. Watch - Watch the video without reading the dialog.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

Log in to Listen

2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Jason:  So much traffic.

Devan:  I know. I can’t believe it took us 90 minutes to go 6 miles. It’s so late that I don’t even want to eat dinner now. I just want to go to bed.

Jason:  Yeah, and get right back up and out into that traffic again for the morning rush hour.

Devan:  Wow, I think that’s a new record. 15 emails and 3 voicemails on the drive home? I guess I’ll reply to these.

Jason:  We need a vacation. Do you want to go camping this weekend?

Devan:  The weather is supposed to be nice. But I just have too much stuff to do on the weekends. That’s when I have to do laundry and all the other things I can’t do during the workweek.

Jason:  Yeah, like sleeping.

Devan:  I’m so exhausted. All the long hours and the stress of living in a city. The rat race is just too hard for me these days.

Jason:  Maybe we need more than a vacation.

Devan:  What do you mean?

Jason:  Maybe we should get out of the rat race altogether. I mean, Amanda bought your share of the company, right? So, we can leave anytime we want to. We have all this money in the bank. We could just travel around, see where we like it. You know, find a place and settle there. Maybe a nice, small town that doesn’t have a rat race?

Devan:  Wow, just talking about this makes me feel better. I really don’t think I can face the rat race anymore, and you’re right, there’s nothing keeping us here, except for our friends. Won’t we miss our friends?

Jason:  Of course we’ll miss our friends. But I won’t miss the rat race and to tell you the truth, I kind of miss you. I mean, all this working and commuting…I feel like we don’t get any quality time together.

Devan:  OK. Let’s do it. Let’s go!

Jason:  Alright, let’s do it!


Grammar Point

Go Super to learn "Verbs with "-ing"" from this lesson Go Super!


Go Super to take Quiz Go Super!


Lesson MP3

Go Super to download full lesson MP3 Go Super!

The iTEP® test

  • Schedule an iTEP® test and take the official English Practice Test.

    Take Now >


Go Super to Listen Go Super!

Jason and Devan arrive home after a very long commute. Devan is so tired after being stuck in traffic that she wants to skip dinner and go right to bed. Unfortunately, she has many emails and messages from work that she must respond to first. Jason is already worried about the morning rush hour. He suggests that they go camping over the weekend for a short vacation. Devan likes the idea, but she says she just has too much to do. The rat race of city life is exhausting.

Then Jason has an idea! Because Devan sold her part of the company to Amanda, the couple is now free to move away. A small town without a rat race would allow them to spend more time together. Devan and Jason agree to leave the rat race and hit the road.

Have you ever felt tired of the rat race? Do you like city life?



Log in to Comment




Yes, I feel tired of this rat race we live in. I´m also worried about people around me who suffer from stress and depression just because of modern times routines. I would love to end up far from the madding crowd when I grow older :)

08:48 AM Aug 25 2015 |





09:12 PM Jul 11 2015 |




My neighbor kept two white red-eyed RATS. They used to eat, sleep, sometimes “staged races” all around their cage. I never saw them worrying about the morning rush hour and they didn’t look stressed or tired.

Those idioms are strange sometimes :). For example, bad living conditions are called “a dog’s life”. Though I’ve seen some dogs… xD


So, let us return to the lesson.

Is Jason and Devan’s house/apartment at six miles’ distance from work? Many people in my city prefer a work where they could get on foot. City transport and gasoline rise in price. Well, things are not so bad yet. In our city gridlock may happen but very seldom.

08:09 PM Feb 03 2015 |




we didnt feel rat race yet because we lives in village

06:33 AM Dec 03 2012 |



Hong Kong


03:11 PM Nov 25 2012 |




I was born and grew up in Sao Paulo and although all of those problems with traffics and rat race i loved that big city. I have moved to small city because here i found an excellent opportunity to increase my career and this city is booming. I would go back to Sao Paulo one day if i had a good opportunity there. Why not? 

10:52 PM Nov 20 2012 |



Well, I don’t have that problem because I live in a small town and when I go to a city I don’t really matter the noise or the cars. I could live everywhere and I’m happy about that.

10:29 PM Nov 20 2012 |

1 person likes this




yep!sometimes ,i really felt tired of the rat race in a big city. even big cities usually were full of oppotunity,it often made you feel exhasted.

10:24 PM Nov 20 2012 |




yep!sometimes ,i really felt tired of the rat race in a big city. even big cities usually were full of oppotunity,it often made you feel exhasted.

10:23 PM Nov 20 2012 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

ok, so nice lesson.

but i have never experienced such opportunity with a good schedule :))

living in big cities have its own conditions so everybody should match theirself for such a life :))))

it’s ok, i don’t have problem with that.

08:08 PM Nov 20 2012 |




I live in a little town and this problem doesn’t concern me every day. However the most things I can do only in a big city ( Wroclaw) and when I have to go there in a rush hour I’m sick. I really love this city and I’ve always wanted to live there but now I’m not sure. The rat race drives me crazy. The traffic, these angry and screaming people, lights and luck parking places. I’m happy that I live where I live and I also work in a small town. The big city I visit in the evening, with pleasure ;)

07:43 PM Nov 20 2012 |




yep Julito, he said it in the dialogue, it was hilarious indeed :)

07:02 PM Nov 20 2012 |

1 person likes this




 snoopy ,hilarious , a bank account as that of Devan and Jason.Smile

06:49 PM Nov 20 2012 |

1 person likes this


United States

It is funny how some of you say you like to live in the Rat Race ha ha! Yell

that is not good that means living like… a RAT! just surving and compiting

As for me I want to be a programer to desing websites and never have to enter the Rat Race Smile




I think Jason and Devan’s wanderlust had finally kicked in. ;)

My reflection on Rat Race

     There are times when you feel you just have to break free of the rat race. You usually feel that way when you’re overcome with tasks (both for work and school) and your overall alertness is skewed due to lack of sleep. When those responsibilities you must attend to are hindered by a standstill parking-lot-traffic to and from home, you may start to get delusional.  You began to wonder; what’s the use of restricting yourself to such demanding environment. A place where it’s all about competiveness and chasing the optimal credentials society has to offer. At times like this you may wish you were on an exotic island swinging from vine to vine or zip lining over a sapphire-hued lagoon rather than being in a seemingly distasteful situation where you’re under immense pressure and noises. It’s just seems fair to pack up and start living, right? But unfortunately we live in a world called reality not reality TV, the dreamy living you wish for is only possible if you’re making a living.  If the term rat race makes you squirm because you have a phobia for rodent, well, make no mistake – making a living is just a less frightful way of saying “partake in the rat race”:). 

      I keep my nose on the grindstone ;). I’m all about earning a living and shaping the rosy future I envision. Now you must be thinking that I must enjoy waking up early every morning and smiling through traffic because I’m so hopeful.  Not true, I don’t like the rat race (I definitely hate living in the city) but the goals I set for myself are only attainable through those sacrifices I must undergo routinely.  I don’t know of any more legitimate path ;)

     If you don’t have the necessary financial means or support, the rat race might be your only option if you’re yearning for a quality lifestyle ;) – but again, quality time is very subjective. However, keep in mind that it might be tough to rejoin the race if you lag too far behind. Plan ahead and very carefully.

   I will never retire from the rat race unless my bank account looks like Jason’s Wink

04:43 PM Nov 20 2012 |


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

I live in small city and i like to experience rat race cause its new to me.the rush houre in my city is in the evening.

03:41 PM Nov 20 2012 |




I was born and I raised in a big city (Casablanca in Morocco), where people comes back home very late due to the trafick and the overcrowded public transport. Fortunately I still went to high school which lies near by our home, but my father had have to commute all the time and face the rush hours. I can remember I saw him mostly only at the weekends. Right now I live in a quite big city (munich Germany), and I don’t feel like I’m facing the rat race because my work is a little bit far from the city center and my habitation lies so close by the work that I can just walk or bike, but I have to say I like living in a big city. However it is important for all people living in a big city to go away towards outside of the town for vacation in order to work off stress and get fresh air…

02:59 PM Nov 20 2012 |

mahmoud saad

United Arab Emirates

in my opinion the life without rat race not good but i advice every body to go out the city every week end.i cant live in quote city all my life so im decide to spend my life in rat race city because it makes you so activity

02:42 PM Nov 20 2012 |

katrina Lin


i live in the small city ,i like this ,and very beautifull !my study in the GuangZhou city!

01:30 PM Nov 20 2012 |



I live in a big city (São Paulo – the biggest city in Latin America). The rush hour is terrible. This commute takes me 2 hours daily. 

I think I couldn’t live without this rat race, but sometimes I really need to escape from this life to a bucolic city. The rat race, with all the stressful commute and all the pressure I face at work make me enjoy much more a vacation.

01:13 PM Nov 20 2012 |

Likes (31):

See all >

Share this lesson:

  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Bebo
  • Share on Myspace
  • Share on Twitter
  • Email this to a friend
  • Share on Sina

Post Ebaby! lessons on your blog:

Ebaby! Cast