Daily English
Cultural English
Practical English

1038 Types and Characteristics of Apartments

访问量:
Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,038 – Types and Characteristics of Apartments.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,038. I’m your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

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

This episode is a dialogue between Lily and Omid about kinds of apartments. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Lily: Thanks for coming with me to meet the rental agent to view an apartment, but I think I’m lost. I’m supposed to be there in 10 minutes, but I can’t find it. There are four different apartment complexes located next to each other and they look identical.

Omid: Don’t you have the address?

Lily: Yes, but all of the complexes in this subdivision look the same, and I don’t see a street number on any of them.

Omid: Are you sure we’re looking for a block of apartments? Maybe the apartment is in a mixed-use building, like that one over there.

Lily: I’m pretty sure. At least I know it’s in a high-rise building and the apartment is on the eighth floor. That mixed-use building is only three stories high.

Omid: Oh, then it’s not a duplex or triplex, like those over there.

Lily: No, it’s definitely not one of those. I’d better call the rental agent and get directions.

Omid: Hey, look over there. I see a couple of the residents of that building walking out. Let’s ask them. Excuse me. Excuse me! Oh, they didn’t hear me.

Lily: I’ll just make the call.

Omid: Well, you can be sure of one thing if you move into one of these complexes.

Lily: What?

Omid: The bill collectors will never be able to find you!

[end of dialogue]

Our dialogue begins today with Lily saying to Omid, “Thanks for coming with me to meet the rental agent to view an apartment.” A “rental agent” is a person whose job it is to help people find a home or an apartment to rent. It’s a person who helps people who are renting, also, to find someone to rent their apartment or home.

The word “agent” (agent), when describing a person, often refers to someone who represents the interests of another party – another person or organization. We have “real estate agents” who are responsible for buying and selling homes or helping people buy and sell homes.

Lily is going with Omid to meet a rental agent who’s going to show them an apartment. When we say “apartment” in American English, we’re usually referring to a room or set of rooms in a building. The rooms are all connected. There’s typically a bedroom and a living room and a kitchen and a bathroom. Usually the rooms are on one level, or one “floor.” An apartment is what someone can rent to live in.

There are other kinds of properties that you can rent. Condominiums are also one-level, typically, living units or areas. However, an apartment is rented, whereas a condominium is typically owned by someone. Now, you could own a condominium and then rent it, so the distinction gets a little fuzzy – it gets a little difficult to make.

There are a couple of other terms that we use when talking about rental properties. One of them is “townhouse.” A “townhouse” is typically an apartment that’s more than one level, that’s more than one story – that has a first level and a second level, possibly even a third level. Here, however, we’re looking at an apartment. Lily says, “I think I’m lost. I’m supposed to be there in 10 minutes, but I can’t find it.” Lily says she’s “lost,” meaning she doesn’t know where she is.

She then says, “There are four different apartment complexes located next to each other and they look identical.” An “apartment complex” (complex) is a set of buildings, usually, that look the same or very similar, that are next to each other and usually owned by the same company. An apartment complex usually implies that there is more than one building – at least two, and often several buildings next to each other.

Because these buildings are all built by the same company, they often look identical. “Identical” (identical) means exactly the same. You can have “identical twins,” two babies born at the same time that look almost exactly alike. I have two brothers who are identical twins. But back to our story.

Omid says, “Don’t you have the address?” Lily says “Yes, but all of the complexes in this subdivision look the same and I don’t see a street number on any of them.” A “subdivision” is an area of land that is usually divided and developed by a single company. When I say “developed,” I mean the company that owns the land builds either houses or apartment buildings and then sells the houses to people – individual families and people wanting to buy houses – or it owns a set of buildings that have apartments in them that are rented.

Lily says she doesn’t see a street number on the buildings. A “street number” is the numerical part of an address, the numbered part of an address. So, if the address were 1257 Main Street, the street number would be 1-2-5-7 (1257). Notice we don’t say “one thousand two hundred and fifty-seven.” We just say either the individual numbers (1-2-5-7) or we group them in groups of two or three. So, 12-57.

Omid says, “Are you sure you’re looking for a block of apartments?” A “block” (block) is normally, when we’re talking about a town or city, a square or rectangular area that is surrounded by four streets. Some of these apartment complexes are so big that they take up an entire block. Omid says that perhaps the apartment is not in a block of apartments.

“Maybe it’s a mixed-use building like that one over there,” he says. “Mixed-use” is a building that has both businesses and apartments or condominiums in it. In big cities, it’s often the case that, especially in the downtown or central area of town, a building will be built where the first and perhaps second floors of the building are businesses – stores, offices – and the upper stories, the upper levels of the building, are condominiums or apartments. This is called a “mixed-use building.”

But Lily says, “I’m pretty sure,” meaning she’s fairly certain that she’s looking for a block of apartments. She says, “At least I know it’s a high-rise building and the apartment is on the eighth floor. That mixed-use building is only three stories high.” A “high-rise (rise) building” is a very tall building. If it’s a business building and it’s really tall, we might call it a “skyscraper.”

A “high-rise” could be a tall apartment building. Usually the building is several floors tall. A “floor” is the same as a level. The word “story” is also used to mean level or floor when we’re talking about a building. Lily says that the apartment she’s looking for is “on the eighth floor.” Now, in the United States, the ground level – the level that you walk into from the street – is considered the first floor. In other countries, the first floor is actually the floor that’s one above the ground floor.

That’s why Americans sometimes get confused when they go to Europe, for example, and someone says it’s on the first floor, but the floor is not the one that’s on the ground. It’s the one that’s above the one on the ground. Americans would call that the second floor. We don’t have a floor zero; we just have a first, second, third, fourth, and so on floor. The mixed-use building that Omid is pointing out to Lily is a three-story-high building. Lily says the building “is only three stories high.” That means it’s three levels, three floors, high.

Omid says, “Oh, then it’s not a duplex or a triplex, like those over there.” A “duplex” (duplex) is a building with two apartments, usually one on the first floor and one on the second floor. Each apartment has its own entrance, there’s separate living areas, and they’re rented separately. A triplex (you can probably guess from the prefix “tri-”) is a building with three apartments. We also sometimes use the word “fourplex” for a building with four apartments. Lily says, “No, it’s not a duplex or a triplex.”

She says, “I’d better call” – I ought to, I should call – “the rental agent and get directions.” Omid says, “Hey, look over there. I see a couple of residents of that building walking out. Let’s ask them.” A “resident” is a person who lives in a particular area or a particular building. I am a resident of Los Angeles. That’s where I live. That’s my permanent home.

Omid says that there are a couple of residents walking out of one of the buildings, and so perhaps he and Lily should go over and ask them. Omid goes over and says, “Excuse me.” “Excuse me” – that’s how we get someone’s attention in a polite way. “Oh, they didn’t hear me,” Omid says. Lily says, “I’ll just make the call,” meaning I’ll just call the rental agent.

Omid says, “Well, you can be sure of one thing if you move into one of these complexes.” Lily says, “What?” Omid says, “The bill collectors will never be able to find you.” Omid is making a joke here. He’s saying that it’s so difficult to find these buildings that no one would be able to find them, even people who are looking for you, such as bill collectors.

What is a “bill collector?” A bill collector is a person who goes and finds people who haven’t paid their bills – money they owe to a company – and gets them to pay them. If, for example, you buy a telephone, and you use the telephone but then you don’t pay for the minutes that you use, the telephone company will try to find you and get you to pay for them. They will usually hire another company – a collection agency – that will go and try to find you and call you and go to your house to get the money from you. That is a bill collector.

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

[start of dialogue]

Lily: Thanks for coming with me to meet the rental agent to view an apartment, but I think I’m lost. I’m supposed to be there in 10 minutes, but I can’t find it. There are four different apartment complexes located next to each other and they look identical.

Omid: Don’t you have the address?

Lily: Yes, but all of the complexes in this subdivision look the same, and I don’t see a street number on any of them.

Omid: Are you sure we’re looking for a block of apartments? Maybe the apartment is in a mixed-use building, like that one over there.

Lily: I’m pretty sure. At least I know it’s in a high-rise building and the apartment is on the eighth floor. That mixed-use building is only three stories high.

Omid: Oh, then it’s not a duplex or triplex, like those over there.

Lily: No, it’s definitely not one of those. I’d better call the rental agent and get directions.

Omid: Hey, look over there. I see a couple of the residents of that building walking out. Let’s ask them. Excuse me. Excuse me! Oh, they didn’t hear me.

Lily: I’ll just make the call.

Omid: Well, you can be sure of one thing if you move into one of these complexes.

Lily: What?

Omid: The bill collectors will never be able to find you!

[end of dialogue]

Our scriptwriter is also a resident of Los Angeles, California – the wonderful Dr. Lucy Tse.

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
rental agent – a person whose job is to help people find a home or apartment to rent, and who helps property owners find tenants to live in their buildings

* Finding a place to live in some New York City neighborhoods can be almost impossible without the help of a rental agent.

apartment – a smaller home with a sleeping area or one or more bedrooms, a bathroom, a living area, and a kitchen, in a large building with many other apartments

* Their first apartment was so small that there was barely enough room for a bed!

lost – not knowing where one is or how to get to one’s destination

* We’re lost. Let’s stop to ask someone for directions to this address.

apartment complex – a set of buildings in a similar style and built around the same time, each with many apartments

* Most of the university students live in one of the apartment complexes near campus.

identical – the same; with the same appearance; without any differences

* Some psychologists say it isn’t a good idea to dress twins in identical clothing.

subdivision – an area of land that has been divided for sale and development, typically with all the buildings having a very similar appearance

* A lot of farmland is being sold and converted into subdivisions for the growing city.

street number – the numerical part of an address; the numbered part of an address that appears before the street name

* There’s the street we’re looking for. Now what’s the street number of their home?

block – a square or rectangular area of land surrounded by four streets

* Omid’s best friend lives just two blocks away.

mixed-use – a building or neighborhood that is used for a combination of residential (housing), commercial (business), and retail (sales; stores) purposes

* The city planners want to develop more mixed-use neighborhoods where businesses and stores are on the ground floor, and apartments are built above them.

high-rise – referring to a very tall building; a skyscraper

* This high-rise office building offers some incredible views of the city.

floor – story; one level in a building, connected to other levels by elevators and/or stairs

* The living room, dining room, and kitchen are on the main floor, and all the bedrooms are on the second floor.

story – floor; one level in a building, connected to other levels by elevators and/or stairs

* Sandra lives at the top of a four-story building without an elevator, so she has been getting a lot of exercise from walking up and down the stairs.

duplex – a building with two apartments; a house divided into two apartments with separate entrances

* They bought a duplex so that they can live on one side, and Omar’s parents can live on the other side.

triplex – a building with three apartments; a house divided into three apartments with separate entrances

* As a college student, Isidro moved into a triplex so that he could be independent, but still have close interactions with other people in the building.

resident – a person who lives in a particular building, neighborhood, or city

* The electric company has a special program to help low-income residents pay their electric bills.

bill collector – a person whose job is to find people who owe money to a company and make them pay

* When Jacob lost his job, his family didn’t have enough money to pay the bills, and soon the bill collectors started calling.

Comprehension Questions
1. Why is Lily meeting with a rental agent?
a) To find a new apartment to live in.
b) To buy an apartment as an investment.
c) To find tenants for the apartment she owns.

2. Which of these buildings would have the most residents?
a) A high-rise apartment building.
b) A duplex.
c) A triplex.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
lost

The word “lost,” in this podcast, means not knowing where one is or how to get to one’s destination: “We were lost in the middle of a dangerous neighborhood, so we didn’t want to stop to ask anyone for directions.” The word “lost” also means confused and not able to follow a conversation or understand something: “I understood the first part of the lecture, but I was completely lost in the second part.” The phrase “long-lost” refers to something that has been missing for a long time: “Hannah went to Mongolia to search for her long-lost relatives.” Finally, the phrase “lost-and-found” refers to a box or drawer were items that have been misplaced are kept until the owner comes looking for them: “I lost my glasses. Has anyone turned them into the lost-and-found?”

floor

In this podcast, the word “floor” means a story or one level in a building, connected to other levels by elevators and/or stairs: “Our offices are on the sixth floor, overlooking he harbor.” The phrase “floor-length” refers to a piece of clothing that reaches down to the ground: “Floor-length skirts used to be common, but it’s unusual to see women wearing them now.” A “floor plan” is the design or layout of a building, used as a map to build something: “Can we change this floor plan to make the laundry room a little bigger?” Finally, a “floor lamp” is a light that is on a tall pole, so that it rests on the ground, but the part that produces light is at the height of an adult or taller: “This room is so dark! Let’s get a few table lamps and floor lamps.”

Culture Note
The Impact of the Book How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York

How the Other Half Lives: Studies Among the Tenements of New York is a “photojournalism” (telling stories about the world through the use of photographs, with few or no words) publication that was “released” (made available to the public) in 1890. It “documented” (put on paper) the “squalid” (dirty and unclean) conditions of apartments in New York City in the 1880s. The “horrid” (terrible; awful) condition of the “slums” (dirty, poor, and unsafe neighborhood) “shocked” (surprised in a negative way) many people.

Photographs in the book show “immigrants” (people who have come from another country) who live in “overcrowded” (with too many people), dirty, and “crumbling” (falling apart) apartments. The photographs of young children are perhaps the most “heartbreaking” (making one feel sad and helpless).

The photojournalist, Jacob Riis, believed that if middle- and upper-class people were “made aware of” (informed about) the terrible conditions, they would be “motivated” (have a reason to want to do something) to improve conditions in the slums. He argued that people would benefit financially from making improvements, and also that people had a “moral obligation” (a need to do something because it is right) to help their “less fortunate” (not as wealthy or lucky) “peers” (people of the same age).

Riis’ book was very successful and people were “indeed” (truly; really) motivated to act. As a result of his work, the worst “tenements” (poor housing) were “torn down” (destroyed) while others were improved. Over the next few years, the slums were “transformed” (changed in a significant way) with “sewers” (systems for transporting waste water), garbage collection, and “indoor plumbing” (running water inside the home).

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - a