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0461 Using a Guidebook

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 461: Using a Guidebook.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 461. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in the beautiful City of Los Angeles, in the golden State of California.

We invite you to visit our website at eslpod.com and download a Learning Guide for this episode, an 8- to 10-page guide that will help you improve your English even faster.

This episode is about using a “guidebook,” which is a special book for “tourists,” people visiting another city or another country, that tells him about that country: where they should eat, where they can sleep, where they can stay, and so forth. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Nicki: Wow, did you buy out the bookstore?!

Tony: Very funny. I just got a few guidebooks for our trip to Vancouver. I want to study up on what the must-see sights are, and then decide whether we can do some self-guided tours or need to book guided tours.

Nicki: That’s very conscientious of you. The trip isn’t for three months.

Tony: I know, but I want to start sketching out an itinerary now. I’m going to start out by reading the orientation chapters so I get a feel for the city.

Nicki: Good, then at least one of us will know where to go and what to do.

Tony: After that, I’m going to read the helpful hints in the accommodations section. I want to make sure we stay in the heart of the city with plenty of nightlife. I’ll read the section on day trips, too, in case we have some extra time.

Nicki: It sounds like you’ve got it covered.

Tony: I do. I also want to spend some time learning some survival phrases so I can talk to the locals.

Nicki: Survival phrases? To visit Vancouver?

Tony: Yeah, we won’t be able to get around without learning some French, you know.

Nicki: Really? Hmm. I think you’d better keep reading.

[end of dialogue]

Nicki begins the dialogue by saying, “Wow, did you buy out the bookstore?!” To “buy out” means to buy everything in a store. For example, if you really like chocolate and you go to the grocery store and you buy all of the chocolate they sell – everything, that would be to buy out the store. Nicki is asking Tony if he bought out the bookstore because, apparently, Tony has a lot of books.

Tony says, “Very funny,” which means I don’t think you’re very funny. When someone says something to you making a joke and you don’t like the joke, you can say, “very funny,” but you have to say it in a way that shows that you don’t think it’s very funny. Tony says, “I just got a few guidebooks for our trip to Vancouver,” he says, “I want to study up on what the must-see sights are.” To “study up on (something)” is a phrasal verb meaning to spend a lot of time learning about something, usually by reading. Someone might say, “I’m going to study up on Greek philosophy.” I’m going to read Greek philosophers, Plato and Aristotle, in order to know more about them. That’s “to study up on.” You can also say, “to read up on.”

Tony is studying up on the must-see sites in Vancouver, which is a city in western Canada. If someone says, “this is must-see,” they mean it is highly recommended, it is something that you really ought to – you really should see. Here in the U.S., one of the television networks had a slogan – had an advertising expression “must-see TV,” meaning these were shows that everyone had to watch because they were so popular. “Sights” (sights) here means interesting or famous things that people would want to visit. Here in Los Angeles, for example, some of the must-see sights would be Hollywood Boulevard, the Santa Monica Pier and Beach, probably the Getty Museum, and the Hollywood Sign, which is famous as a symbol of Hollywood.

Tony says he wants to decide whether he and Nicki can do some self-guided tours or if they need to book guided tours. “Self-guided tours” are tours (visits; trips to somewhere) where you’re not with anyone who’s a professional tour guide, you’re just using, typically, a book that tells you about things. The word “self” added to the beginning of another word usually means by yourself, without anyone else’s help. Someone could say they are “self-taught,” meaning they didn’t have a teacher, they taught themselves. So, self-guided tours are tours that you go on by yourself. If you want someone to help you, to go with you, that would be a guided tour.

Nicki says, “That’s very conscientious of you.” “Conscientious” means very careful, paying attention to all the little details, doing everything you’re supposed to do. If you say, “she’s a conscientious worker,” you mean she does all of her work, she’s very careful. I am not very conscientious!

Nicki says, “The trip isn’t for three months,” meaning we aren’t going to go on this trip for three more months. Tony says, “I know, but I wanted to start sketching out an itinerary now.” To “sketch out” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to write down some ideas, what we might call “rough ideas.” You’re not exactly sure but you want, at least, to have a beginning plan. “Itinerary” is the schedule for your trip: what you’re going to do on the first day, the second day, the third day, and so forth. Tony says, “I’m going to start out (I’m going to begin) by reading the orientation chapters so I get a feel for the city.” An “orientation” is an overview, something that gives you general knowledge about a thing or a place before you actually begin it, or in this case, before you actually go there.

Tony is going to read the orientation chapters of the book so he can get a feel for the city. “To get a feel for (something)” means to become familiar with something, to understand it very well. Nicki says, “Good, then at least one of us will know where to go and what to do.” Tony says, “After that (after he finishes reading the orientation chapters), I’m going to read the helpful hints in the accommodations section.” Guidebooks normally have lots of information about different things you can do in a city or a place. A “hint” is additional or useful information or suggestion, so “helpful hints” are useful ideas, useful suggestions. “Accommodations” refers to places where you sleep overnight: hotels, for example.

Tony says, “I want to make sure we stay in the heart of the city with plenty of nightlife.” The “heart of the city” is the main business and entertainment area of the city – the center of the city. In many cities, that’s the downtown. In New York City, Manhattan is the heart of the city; it’s the major, main area in the city. People often complain that Los Angeles is a city that doesn’t really have a heart. That is, there isn’t one center place where thing happens. Tony says that he’s looking for someplace with lots of nightlife. “Nightlife” is entertainment that happens in the evening, at night. It usually refers to bars, restaurants, dance clubs, concert halls – places where people would go to enjoy themselves at night.

Tony says, “I’ll read the section on day trips, too, in case we have some extra time.” A “day trip” is when you go to, say, a large city such as Los Angeles, and then you want to visit a smaller city close to there, but you don’t want to stay overnight. You’re just going to go in the morning and come back in the afternoon or evening. So if you come to L.A., you might want to take a day trip to Santa Barbara, which is about two hours north of the city; or San Diego, which is two hours south of the city; or Palm Springs, which is two hours east of the city. These would be day trips from Los Angeles.

Nicki says, “It sounds like you’ve got it covered.” If someone says they’ve “got it covered,” they mean they are able to do something, they are in control of the situation, they are prepared. Tony is very prepared; Tony says, “I do. I also want to spend some time learning some survival phrases so I can talk to the locals.” “Survival phrases” are basic expressions that you might learn when you are visiting a country that uses a language you don’t speak very well. So, if I were to go to Japan, I would have to learn things like “Where is the bathroom?” “How much does this cost?” Those would be survival phrases. When Tony says he wants to be able to talk to the “locals,” he means he wants to talk to the people who live in the city – people who are not tourists, people who are permanent residents, people who live all year round in the particular area. “Local” has a couple of different meanings in English; take a look at our Learning Guide for some additional explanations.

Nicki says, “Survival phrases? To visit Vancouver?” Tony says, “Yeah, we won’t be able to get around without learning some French, you know.” But, of course, this isn’t true. Vancouver is in the western part of Canada, and although there are people who speak French there, it is mostly an English-speaking city. Nicki says, “Really? Hmm. I think you’d better keep reading,” meaning you obviously don’t know very much about Vancouver if you think you have to learn French to visit there.

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed.

[start of dialogue]

Nicki: Wow, did you buy out the bookstore?!

Tony: Very funny. I just got a few guidebooks for our trip to Vancouver. I want to study up on what the must-see sights are, and then decide whether we can do some self-guided tours or need to book guided tours.

Nicki: That’s very conscientious of you. The trip isn’t for three months.

Tony: I know, but I want to start sketching out an itinerary now. I’m going to start out by reading the orientation chapters so I get a feel for the city.

Nicki: Good, then at least one of us will know where to go and what to do.

Tony: After that, I’m going to read the helpful hints in the accommodations section. I want to make sure we stay in the heart of the city with plenty of nightlife. I’ll read the section on day trips, too, in case we have some extra time.

Nicki: It sounds like you’ve got it covered.

Tony: I do. I also want to spend some time learning some survival phrases so I can talk to the locals.

Nicki: Survival phrases? To visit Vancouver?

Tony: Yeah, we won’t be able to get around without learning some French, you know.

Nicki: Really? Hmm. I think you’d better keep reading.

[end of dialogue]

The script for this episode was written by the always conscientious Dr. Lucy Tse.

From Los Angeles, California, I’m Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us next time, will you, on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2009, by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to buy out – to buy everything in a store so that nothing is left

* If she had more money, she would have bought out the store. She really loves that clothing designer!


guidebook – a book that is written for tourists and contains information about a place

* According to this guidebook, all the downtown hotels cost more than $150 per night.


to study up on (something) – to spend a lot of time learning about something, especially by reading

* Did you study up on the company and its history before you interviewed for a job there?


must-see – something that is highly recommended and should be seen by everyone who goes to a particular place; something that should not be missed

* The Statue of Liberty is a must-see if you visit New York City.


sight – an interesting or famous thing or place that people want to see when they visit a particular city or country

* The Space Needle is a popular sight in Seattle, Washington.


self-guided – without the services of a professional guide, where one visits places alone, often with the help of information in a book

* We didn’t have enough money to pay for a tour guide, so we did a self-guided tour of the museum, reading a brochure to learn about what we were seeing.


conscientious – careful and paying attention to detail, doing everything that one is supposed to do

* Javier is a very conscientious student, always completing all of his assignments on time.


to sketch out – to write down a rough idea of something, without very many details

* Many professional artists sketch out their ideas before they start painting.


itinerary – schedule; a plan for a trip that shows where one will be on which days

* Their itinerary shows that they’ll be in Austin for three nights.


orientation – an overview that provides general information before one begins to learn about things in more detail

* The conference began with an orientation where people could meet each other and learn about the schedule before deciding which sessions to attend.


to get a feel for (something) – to become familiar with something and understand what it is about without necessarily understanding the details

* She stayed in Minneapolis for two weeks, which was enough time to get a feel for the city, but not enough time to get to know all the neighborhoods.


helpful hint – a useful suggestion or idea

* The instructor gave us a lot of helpful hints to prepare for the exam.


accommodations – lodging; the hotels and other places where one will sleep during a trip

* Do you want to have really nice accommodations, or would you prefer to save money and stay at a hotel that isn’t very fancy?


the heart of the city – the center of a city; the most active part of the city

* Most of the big office buildings are in the heart of the city.


nightlife – entertainment that happens in the evening, usually at bars, restaurants, dance clubs, and concert halls

* Boston has some great nightlife, so we stayed out until 3:30 a.m.!


day trip – a trip to and from a place so that one returns to where one started on the same day

* He didn’t want to change hotels every night, so he decided to stay in just one hotel and take a lot of day trips from there.


to get (something) covered – to be able to do or handle something; to be in control of something or a situation; to know what to do; to be prepared

* - Did you remember to pack all our toiletries?

* - Yes, don’t worry. I’ve got it covered.


survival phrase – an important phrase that one memorizes to use in a foreign country when one doesn’t speak the language there

* Whenever he travels, he always learns two survival phrases in the local language: “Where’s the bathroom?” and “How much does it cost?”

Comprehension Questions
1. What would you expect an itinerary to include?
a) An orientation.
b) Accommodations.
c) Survival phrases.

2. Who would want to get a feel for a city?
a) A guide.
b) A tourist.
c) A local.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to buy out

The phrase “to buy out,” in this podcast, means to buy everything in a store so that nothing is left: “During the storm, people bought out flashlights and canned food at the local grocery stores.” The phrase “to buy (somebody) off” means to give someone money so that he or she will stop doing something that makes one’s work difficult, especially if one is involved in illegal activities: “The people who sell drugs were able to buy off the policemen.” Finally, the phrase “to buy (something) up” means to buy as much of something as possible as quickly as possible: “Many people buy up concert tickets as soon as they go on sale so that they can resell them to other people for more money.”

local

In this podcast, the word “local” means a person who lives in a particular area and knows it well: “When he travels to another country, he tries to stay with a local instead of in a hotel.” The word “local” also means nearby, or relating to a particular neighborhood or area: “Why is it so much more expensive to shop at a local store than at one of the big, national stores?” A “local call” is a phone call made within a city, so that one does not have to dial the first three numbers and does not have to pay extra for the call: “The hotel guests can make local calls for free, but they have to pay to make long-distance calls.”

Culture Note
In the United States, there are many different kinds of guidebooks. Most people take them along when they travel to a new place. Other people enjoy reading guidebooks at home to learn about a new place (this is called “armchair tourism”). Many guidebooks are part of a “series” (a group of books) written about many different places by the same person, company, or organization.

One popular guidebook series is called Off the Beaten Path, which is a phrase used to talk about exploring areas where most tourists don’t go. This guidebook series is good for people who don’t want to have a “typical” (normal) vacation and are “seeking” (looking for) unusual adventures.

The Rough Guide and Lonely Planet are other popular guidebook series. They are mostly “aimed at” (intended and written for) people who are traveling “on a budget” (without very much money), but still want to enjoy their trip.

Fodor’s guidebooks usually provide more detailed information about the culture and history of a place, in addition to providing information about restaurants, hotels, and popular sights.

A man named Rick Steves has also written a series of guidebooks. He offers many articles and even “audio tours,” where travelers can listen to him describe a place while they are visiting it.

There are many, many other guidebook series in the United States. Before you travel somewhere, you might want to go to the library and “check out” (borrow) a few different guidebooks to decide which one you’d like to have with you while you travel.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - b