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1017 Driving an Off-Road Vehicle

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,017 – Driving an Off-Road Vehicle.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,017. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Our website is ESLPod.com. Become a member of ESL Podcast and download the Learning Guide for this episode. You could also follow us on Twitter at @eslpod, and you can like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod.

This episode is a dialogue between Claudia and Jae about driving a different kind of vehicle – a different kind of automobile or truck. It’s called an “off-road vehicle.” Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Claudia: When you invited me to go for a drive, this wasn’t what I pictured.

Jae: You’re about to have the ride of your life. Get in and I’ll strap you in.

Claudia: What is this thing?

Jae: It’s an off-road vehicle. Haven’t you seen one before? It has four-wheel drive and can travel on any terrain.

Claudia: When you say “any terrain,” what exactly do you mean?

Jae: With this baby, we can drive on sand, gravel, mud, and even snow.

Claudia: You mean you intend to take me driving on sand and gravel?

Jae: Yeah, just wait until we start spinning and skidding. You’re going to love it. You’d better put on this crash helmet – just in case.

Claudia: I was picturing a drive in the country.

Jae: But this is much more exciting, right?

Claudia: I don’t know . . .

Jae: Come on. If you’re lucky, I’ll take you mudding next weekend.

Claudia: Whoopee.

[end of dialogue]
Claudia begins by saying to Jae, “When you invited me to go for a drive, this wasn’t what I pictured.” “To go for a drive” usually means to go in your car and drive somewhere that’s pleasant, somewhere that will help you enjoy the area through which you are driving. “To go for a drive” often means that you’re not going to one particular destination – you’re just kind of going out in your car and enjoying driving your car in some, perhaps, nice area of your town or near where you live.

Jae has invited Claudia to go for a drive, but Claudia says that it isn’t what she pictured. “To picture” (picture) as a verb means to imagine how something will be, to think about how something will look or will appear. Claudia had a certain expectation, a certain idea about what going for a drive would look like, and it doesn’t look like what is actually happening. Jae says, “You’re about to have the ride of your life.” A “ride” (ride) is, in this case, when you drive in the car or you go in some sort of vehicle.

The word “vehicle” (vehicle) refers to a car, or a truck, or a motorcycle, or perhaps even something like you would find on a farm – a tractor. “Vehicles” are things that move other things, including those of us who are in the vehicle. When you go somewhere in a vehicle, you could say that you’re going on a ride. Jae tells Claudia that this will be “the ride of your life.” “The ride of your life” would be the greatest ride you have ever had.

Anything that is the “something of your life” is the best possible experience of that thing. If you talk about the “vacation of your life,” you’re talking about the best vacation that you have ever taken. Jae says to Claudia, “Get in,” meaning get in the car – or get in, in this case, the off-road vehicle – “and I’ll strap you in.” “To strap (strap) someone in” is to put something over a person so that the person doesn’t move in case there is a problem with the vehicle.

For example, in a car you have to put on what’s called your “seat belt” here in the United States in most states. You must be wearing a seatbelt. It’s like a belt, but it doesn’t go around your waist to hold up your pants. It goes across your body and connects to the seat of the car so that if there is an accident, you are going to be protected somewhat; instead of flying out of the window of the car, you will stay in the seat of the car.

That’s what we’re talking about here. Jae is going to strap Claudia in. He’s going to put on seatbelts so that she doesn’t fly out of the car in case there is a problem. Claudia says, “What is this thing?” Jae says, “It’s an off-road vehicle.” An “off-road vehicle” is usually a car, truck, or motorcycle that is designed to drive through an area that doesn’t have any roads, that doesn’t have any streets.

An off-road vehicle could be used, for example, in the desert, or it could be used out in the country, away from the city, where there aren’t any roads. Anything that is designed to ride through an area or go through an area without streets or roads is called an “off-road vehicle.” “Off-road” meaning, of course, that it is not on the road – because there are no roads, perhaps.

Jae says, “Haven’t you seen one before? It has four-wheel drive and can travel on any terrain.” “Four-wheel drive” is a feature of a car that allows it to use all four wheels in order to move forward. The motor actually is connected to all four wheels in such a way that it gives the car more power, or the vehicle more power. “Terrain” (terrain) refers to the kind of land or the surface on the land.

Claudia says, ‘“When you say any terrain, what exactly do you mean?” Jae says, “With this baby, we can drive on sand, gravel, mud, and even snow.” The term “baby” here doesn’t refer to a young child who has just been born. It refers to, informally, the vehicle. When people use the term “baby” in this way, they’re using it informally to talk about usually a thing, a piece of equipment.

You could talk, for example, about your phone. If you have an iPhone or a smartphone, an Android phone, you might say, “You know, with this baby, I can text, and I can check the Internet, and I can talk to people.” “Baby” here refers to a cool, powerful piece of equipment or object that you have. That’s what Jae is saying here when he says, “baby.” He says, “With this baby,” meaning with this vehicle, “we can drive on sand, gravel, mud, and even snow.”

“Sand” (sand) is what you would find in a desert, or on a beach by the ocean, or by a lake. “Gravel” (gravel) are many small rocks that are often used for areas where you can walk or drive where there is no formal road. Gravel is sometimes used when there is a road but it doesn’t have any concrete or asphalt – it’s not a smooth road.

When I was growing up in the country in Minnesota, in the areas outside of the city there were lots of gravel roads, and you would have these little rocks on the road, and the rocks were what you drove over. You didn’t have a regular street like you have in the city. So, “gravel” is a material – the small little rocks – that is put on the road or some path that you travel on. “Mud” (mud) is basically wet dirt. So, an off-road vehicle can travel on all these different kinds of surfaces.

Claudia says to Jae, “You mean you intend to take me driving on sand and gravel?” She’s asking Jae if his plan is to take her driving on sand and gravel. Jae says, “Yeah,” meaning yes. “Just wait until we start spinning and skidding. You’re going to love it.” “To spin” (spin) means to move in circles, often when you don’t have complete control over your movement, although that’s not always the case. You could spin around on your legs. You could take your body and turn it 360 degrees. That would be to spin your body like a ballet dancer.

A car can also spin, and it can spin around in a circle, especially if it’s on a surface that isn’t very stable – like ice, for example. “To skid” (skid) means to have your vehicle move in such a way that you’re not controlling it completely. It’s moving in a direction that you don’t want it to move, perhaps because the surface that you are driving on is slippery like ice, or that you are going too fast and you are trying to turn your car or vehicle. That could also cause it to skid.

Usually when a car skids, there are marks on the road – what we call “skid marks” – and these are caused by the rubber of the tires on the vehicle. If you see someone stop suddenly, you’ll often hear a high noise, a high-pitched sound, and if you look on the street, you’ll see black lines. These are skid marks from the tires of the car.

Jae says, “You’d better put on this crash helmet, just in case.” A “crash helmet” is something you wear over your head, like a motorcyclist would wear, to protect your head in case you fall out of the vehicle and hit your head. Claudia says, “I was picturing a drive in the country.” She’s saying she thought that they were going to go on a nice, pleasant drive in a car through an area close to the city. Jae says, “But this is much more exciting, right?” Claudia says, “I don’t know.”

Jae says, “Come on. If you’re lucky, I’ll take you mudding next weekend.” Jae is trying to encourage Claudia to go with him. He says if she is lucky – if she has good luck, if she is fortunate – Jae will take her mudding. “To go mudding” (mudding) is to drive your vehicle in an area that has a lot of mud in it. Some people think this is fun. I don’t know why, but it apparently is popular in certain places in the country. People take their cars or trucks or motorcycles, and they drive in the mud. I know it’s weird – Claudia thinks it’s weird, too.

She says at the end of the dialogue, “Whoopee.” “Whoopee” (whoopee) is an expression we use normally to show how excited you are about something. However, it’s often used as it is here, “sarcastically,” meaning you’re trying to make a joke. It’s not meant to be serious. You’re being funny. You are in fact saying the opposite – that this is not going to be exciting, that you are not excited about this particular activity. Claudia is clearly not excited to go mudding, and I don’t blame her.

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

[start of dialogue]

Claudia: When you invited me to go for a drive, this wasn’t what I pictured.

Jae: You’re about to have the ride of your life. Get in and I’ll strap you in.

Claudia: What is this thing?

Jae: It’s an off-road vehicle. Haven’t you seen one before? It has four-wheel drive and can travel on any terrain.

Claudia: When you say “any terrain,” what exactly do you mean?

Jae: With this baby, we can drive on sand, gravel, mud, and even snow.

Claudia: You mean you intend to take me driving on sand and gravel?

Jae: Yeah, just wait until we start spinning and skidding. You’re going to love it. You’d better put on this crash helmet – just in case.

Claudia: I was picturing a drive in the country.

Jae: But this is much more exciting, right?

Claudia: I don’t know . . .

Jae: Come on. If you’re lucky, I’ll take you mudding next weekend.

Claudia: Whoopee.

[end of dialogue]

All our scripts are 100 percent safe. You don’t need a crash helmet to listen to them, thanks to the wonderful work by Dr. Lucy Tse, our scriptwriter.

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

English as a Second Language Podcast was written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2014 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
to go for a drive – to spend time riding in a vehicle for pleasure, with emphasis on the experience and the journey, not the destination

* They really enjoyed going for a drive in October, when all the leaves were changing color.

to picture – to envision; to imagine how something will be, especially how something will appear

* When Nora talked about her home, I pictured a small cottage, but it was actually a huge mansion.

the (something) of (one’s) life – the most exciting and interesting version of something that one will ever experience or do

* That vacation was so much fun. We had the time of our life!

to strap (someone) in – to buckle or fasten straps designed to keep one attached to a vehicle for safety

* The amusement park workers help to strap people in before they start the roller coaster and other rides.

off-road vehicle – a car, motorcycle, or other vehicle that is designed for exploring trails or undeveloped natural areas, not for use on regular roads or freeways

* Hunting from an off-road vehicle makes it almost impossible for the animal to run away.

four-wheel drive – a vehicle’s ability to move forward or backward by making all four wheels turn with force, not just two, especially for steep hills, mud, or slippery surfaces

* In Colorado, most people drive cars and trucks with four-wheel drive because the roads are often covered with snow and ice.

terrain – the type of land in an area; the surface of the land

* With such sandy terrain, it’s a miracle that anything except cactus can grow here!

baby – an informal word used to refer to a vehicle or a piece of equipment that is powerful and cool, and that one likes very much, especially a “toy” for an adult male

* When Piotr bought a new table saw, he said, “With this baby, I’ll be able to make any type of furniture we need.”

sand – a grainy, brown-, tan-, or yellow-colored substance found on ocean beaches

* The kids were disappointed when their sand castle was washed away by the waves.

gravel – many small rocks, especially when used for unpaved roads or landscaping

* If you drive too quickly on these gravel roads, the people behind us will be driving through a lot of dust.

mud – wet dirt; the soft, sticky mixture that results when water is mixed with earth

* The children love digging in mud to search for worms.

to spin – to move in tight (small) circles, especially when one is not in control of the movements

* It’s amazing how ice skaters can spin so quickly, but never become dizzy.

to skid – for a vehicle to move out of control sideways or diagonally over slippery ground or because one has stopped or turned too quickly

* The little girl was racing her bike down the hill when it skidded over the wet leaves and she fell off.

crash helmet – a protective covering for the top, back, and sides of one’s head, especially for people driving or riding in vehicles that might collide forcefully with other objects

* Professional car racers are required to wear crash helmets.

to mud – to go mudding; to drive a vehicle in a very muddy area to have fun by getting the vehicle and the people inside it very dirty, covered in mud

* Please don’t go mudding in our fields. It destroys the soil structure and makes it more difficult for plants to grow next year.

whoopee – a phrase used to show one’s excitement and express that one is pleased, sometimes used sarcastically to show that one does not want to do something

* Whoopee! I’ve been admitted to McQuillan University!

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Jae mean when he says, “I’ll strap you in”?
a) He’ll teach her how to drive the vehicle.
b) He’ll help her fasten her seat belt.
c) He’ll open and close the door for her.

2. Which of these is the wettest?
a) Sand
b) Gravel
c) Mud

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to picture

The verb “to picture,” in this podcast, means to envision or to imagine how something will be or appear: “When Cheryl was younger, she pictured being married by the time she was 24.” A “moving picture” is a movie, especially a very old movie: “Which moving picture was the first one to have sound?” The phrase “Picture-perfect” describes something that is absolutely perfect in every way and could not be better: “Everything about their wedding was picture-perfect.” The phrase “the picture of health” means very healthy: “Hal runs and bikes every day, and he is the picture of health.” Finally, the phrase “to get the picture” means to understand a situation, or to understand what is really happening: “I could keep describing it, but I think you get the picture.”

baby

In this podcast, the word “baby” is used informally to refer to a vehicle or a piece of equipment that is powerful and cool, and that one likes very much: “How much did you have to pay for that baby?” The word “baby” can also be used as a term of endearment or affection for a woman or for a young child: “Hey, baby, are you ready for our date?” Or, “I can’t believe my baby is all grown up!” Calling someone a “baby” is the same as saying that someone is a coward who is scared or fearful: “Hans screamed and cried during the horror movie. He’s such a baby.” Finally, a “cry-baby” is someone who complains, whines, and cries too much, like a young child: “Jasnery is a cry-baby who is used to getting her way.”

Culture Note
Mud Bogging

“Mud bogging,” which is also known as “mud racing,” “mud running,” and simply “running,” is a sport that is becoming increasingly popular in North America. Instead of simply “mudding” for fun, participants have to drive their trucks or other vehicles through a large and very muddy “pit” (a big hole in the ground). Normally, the winner is the car that goes the furthest distance through the pit before “getting stuck” (becoming unable to move any further). But if multiple vehicles are able to “traverse” (go across) the pit, then the winner is “determined” (decided) by considering how quickly each vehicle crossed the pit, with the fastest vehicle winning the competition.

In the United States, mud bogging is most popular in the South, especially in the State of Mississippi. Some events “attract” (bring in) “up to” (as many as) 40,000 spectators in a single weekend. Important mud bogging events are also “televised” (shown on television).

Professional organizations such as the American Mud Racing Association, the National Mud Racing Organization, and the Southwest Mississippi Mud Racing Association organize the events, build relationships with “track owners” (the people who own the land with the muddy pits), create “facilities” (buildings or seating areas) for “spectators” (people who watch the event but do not participate in it), and make arrangements with “sponsors” (businesses and other organizations that provide funding for a race in exchange for publicity and advertising). The sport of mud bogging has become an industry representing millions of dollars, with many annual, monthly, and even weekly events.

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - c