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1039 Taking a Test Drive

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Complete Transcript
Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 1,039 – Taking a Test Drive.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 1,039. 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. If you do, you can download the Learning Guide for this episode and get a complete transcript of every word I say. You can also like us on Facebook at facebook.com/eslpod.

On this episode, we’re going to listen to a dialogue between Mario and Leah about buying a new car. Let’s get started.

[start of dialogue]

Mario: I’d like to test drive the new Racer.

Leah: Sure, all prospective buyers can take one of our cars for a test drive. May I see your driver’s license?

Mario: Here it is.

Leah: Okay, come with me. Why don’t you get into the driver’s seat and I’ll get into the passenger seat? All right, please buckle up and you can drive it around the block.

Mario: I think I may need to drive it a little farther to get a feel for the car.

Leah: That’s fine, but you’ll need to slow down!

Mario: Slow down? How will I know if this car is right for my driving style if I don’t put the pedal to the metal and put it through its paces?

Leah: I understand you want to get a complete driving experience, but unless you stop driving recklessly, we’ll need to return to the car lot.

Mario: You call this reckless? This isn’t reckless. It’s how I always drive. If you don’t hear the tires screeching, you’re not driving a car the way it should be driven.

Leah: Well, an interesting way of looking at it. Uh, I think we’d better head back to the car lot. I’m feeling a little nauseous.

Mario: Let me guess. You’ve never ridden in a car driven by a racecar driver before.

Leah: That’s right.

Mario: Then this is your lucky day!

[end of dialogue]

Mario says to Leah, “I’d like to test drive the new Racer.” The “Racer” is a name of a car, an imaginary car. Mario wants to test drive the car. “To test drive” is to drive a car that you’re thinking of buying, a car that someone is selling. You want to see if you like the car before you buy it, so you take it for a test drive – or, to use the verb, you “test drive the car.” The word “test” in English in this case means to try something – to do something in preparation, often, for something else. We also use the word “test” when we are talking about giving someone an examination in school, for example.

Leah says, “Sure, all prospective buyers can take one of our cars for a test drive.” Leah works for the place that sells these cars. We call that place a “car lot” – or, if they sell new cars, we call it a “dealership.” Leah says that “all prospective buyers can take one of our cars for a test drive.” A “prospective (prospective) buyer” is a possible or potential buyer. We can talk about a “prospective student” – someone who isn’t a student yet, but might be a student in the future. It’s possible.

Leah then asks Mario, “May I see your driver’s license?” Your “driver’s license” (license) is a small card given by, in the United States, the state government that gives you permission to drive a car. Here in the U.S. we don’t have a national driver’s license. Each state or territory issues, or gives you, a driver’s license. Now normally, the driver’s license allows you to drive anywhere in the United States, even outside of your own state.

However, if you move from one state to another, you often have to take another driving test in order to get a driver’s license from a different state. The reason for that is that states have slightly different rules about driving, although most of the rules are the same. Mario says, “Here it is.” He’s giving Leah his driver’s license. Leah says, “Okay, come with me. Why don’t you get into the driver’s seat and I’ll get into the passenger seat.” The “seat” (seat) is where you sit in a car. The “driver’s seat” is, in an American car, on the left-hand side of the car. That’s where the driver sits, who controls the car.

All the other seats in the car are called “passenger seats.” A “passenger” (passenger) is any person who is riding in the car who is not the driver. You could also be a passenger on a train or a passenger on a boat. You could be a passenger on an airplane. As long as you’re not the one controlling the vehicle, you are a passenger. Although on an airplane, there are other people on the airplane who are not controlling the airplane. We would not call them “passengers,” typically; they would be members of the airline staff. But back to our story.

Leah is telling Mario to “get into the driver’s seat.” Notice we use that phrasal verb “to get into” for getting into a seat, for sitting down in the seat. Leah says, “All right, please buckle up and you can drive it around the block.” “To buckle (buckle) up” means to put your seatbelt on. A “seat belt” is a strap, a piece of material, that holds your body into the seat of the car in case there’s an accident.

In the United States, I believe in every state – I could be wrong – there are laws that require you to wear a seatbelt, especially if you are in the front of the car. In California, you are required to wear a seatbelt in any of the seats in the car, the driver’s seat or a passenger seat. If you don’t wear your seatbelt, you can get fined. You can get what we would call a “ticket” from the police. You’ll have to pay money and maybe even go to jail – although you probably won’t go to jail if you don’t buckle up, but you’ll definitely get a ticket from the police.

Leah tells Mario he can drive “around the block.” A “block” (block) is a square or rectangular area that is surrounded by four streets. Mario says, “I think I may need to drive it a little farther to get a feel for the car.” “Farther” (farther) means at a great distance, or involving a large distance. “Farther” is used for physical distances. Mario is saying that he may need to drive the car more than just around the block in order to “get a feel for the car.” “To get a feel (feel) for” something means to become familiar with something, to understand what something is like.

Mario is saying that he needs to drive the car for a longer period of time or for a longer distance in order to really see if he likes the car not. That’s what he means here. Leah says, “That’s fine, but you’ll need to slow down.” She’s telling Mario not to drive so fast. Mario says, “Slow down?” He’s confused. “How will I know if this car is right for my driving style if I don’t put the pedal to the metal and put it through its paces?”

Mario is asking how he can know if this is the right car for him, if this is the right car for his “driving style,” if he doesn’t “put the pedal to the metal.” Your “driving style” is the way that you like to drive. Some people drive fast. Some people drive slow. Some people drive like idiots, such as here in Los Angeles. The driving style of Mario is to go fast. That’s what he means by the expression “put the pedal (pedal) to the metal (metal).” “To put the pedal to the metal” is an old expression meaning to drive a car really fast.

The “pedal” is the thing that your foot steps on in order to make the car go faster. The “metal” would be the car itself – the metal of the car, I suppose. “To put the pedal to the metal” means to drive really fast. Mario wants to do this in order “to put the car through its paces” (paces). “To put something through its paces” means to use the machine or whatever it is that your testing at the maximum capacity to determine the limits of what it can do.

So, if you are putting a car through its paces, you would want to drive the car very fast, or perhaps you would want to go around in circles to see how well the car handles, how well it drives, going around in circles. In general, to put something through its paces means to test it to see how much it can do of whatever it is the thing is supposed to do. If I was going to put my computer through its paces, I might, for example run a bunch of different programs at the same time and see how quickly or how slowly the programs operated.

Leah is a little worried here. She says, “I understand you want to get a complete driving experience, but unless you stop driving recklessly, we’ll need to return to the car lot.” “To drive recklessly” (recklessly) means to drive without being careful – carelessly, dangerously. The “car lot” is the place where the cars are kept, where they are parked. Mario says, “You call this reckless?” “You call” is an expression we use to mean “Are you saying that this is something?” Mario’s asking Leah if she considers the way he is driving to be reckless. Obviously, Mario doesn’t.

In fact, he says, “This isn’t reckless. It’s how I always drive. If you don’t hear the tires screeching, you’re not driving a car the way it should be driven.” “Tires” (tires) are the pieces of rubber that go around the wheel on the car. The verb “to screech” (screech) means to make a very loud, high pitched sound. This would be an example of a tire screeching. Mario says if you don’t hear the tires screeching, you’re not driving a car correctly. Of course, most people would say just the opposite – that you driving the car too fast.

Leah says, “Well, an interesting way of looking at it.” She’s trying to be polite because, of course, Mario is a prospective buyer of this car. She doesn’t want to make him angry, but she also doesn’t want to die. She says, “Uh, I think we’d better head back,” meaning return, “to the car lot. I’m feeling a little nauseous.” If you feel “nauseous” (nauseous), you feel as though you might vomit, or throw up. Your stomach is not right and you feel sick.

Mario says, “Let me guess. You’ve never ridden in a car driven by a race car driver before?” A “race car driver” is someone who drives cars very quickly in a competition such as the Indianapolis 500 or other car competitions where people drive cars very fast. Leah says, “That’s right.” Mario says, “Then this is your lucky day.” Mario thinks it’s a good thing for Leah to be driving with him, and Leah does not agree.

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

[start of dialogue]

Mario: I’d like to test drive the new Racer.

Leah: Sure, all prospective buyers can take one of our cars for a test drive. May I see your driver’s license?

Mario: Here it is.

Leah: Okay, come with me. Why don’t you get into the driver’s seat and I’ll get into the passenger seat? All right, please buckle up and you can drive it around the block.

Mario: I think I may need to drive it a little farther to get a feel for the car.

Leah: That’s fine, but you’ll need to slow down!

Mario: Slow down? How will I know if this car is right for my driving style if I don’t put the pedal to the metal and put it through its paces?

Leah: I understand you want to get a complete driving experience, but unless you stop driving recklessly, we’ll need to return to the car lot.

Mario: You call this reckless? This isn’t reckless. It’s how I always drive. If you don’t hear the tires screeching, you’re not driving a car the way it should be driven.

Leah: Well, an interesting way of looking at it. Uh, I think we’d better head back to the car lot. I’m feeling a little nauseous.

Mario: Let me guess. You’ve never ridden in a car driven by a racecar driver before.

Leah: That’s right.

Mario: Then this is your lucky day!

[end of dialogue]

When it comes to scripts, Lucy Tse is in the driver’s seat here at ESL Podcast. Thank you, Lucy.

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 test drive – to drive a car that is for sale to determine whether one likes it and wants to buy it

* We can’t afford a Porsche, but it’s fun to test drive one anyway.

prospective – potential; possible; with the possibility of becoming a customer or client

* Is it better to spend our time and other resources on building relationships with current clients, or trying to find potential clients?

driver’s license – a small card issued by the government that officially gives one permission to drive a car

* The police officer asked to see Michel’s driver’s license, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance.

driver’s seat – the chair where the driver of a car sits while driving

* From the driver’s seat, the driver can reach all the controls for the car, the heating system, and the radio.

passenger seat – the chair where a passenger sits next to the driver, not in the back

* If nobody else is riding the car, Chelsea usually puts her purse and jacket on the passenger seat so she can reach them while driving.

to buckle up – to fasten one’s seatbelt; to put on the strap that holds one’s body onto the seat in a car or airplane

* For safety, Zeida never starts her car until all the passengers have buckled up.

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

* To get to the pharmacy, walk down the next two blocks and then turn left.

farther – at a great distance away; involving a bigger distance

* Do you think you can run farther than 10 miles without stopping?

to get a feel for – to become familiar with something; to understand what something is like

* Heather took an introductory class in Korean just to get a feel for the language.

driving style – the way in which one drives, especially referring to how quickly and aggressively one drives

* Kyle has a courteous driving style, and he always lets cars pass in front of him and stops to let pedestrians cross the street.

to put the pedal to the metal – to push the accelerator with one’s foot so that a car goes very fast

* We’re late! Put the pedal to the metal and let’s go!

to put (something) through its paces – to use a machine or vehicle to its maximum capacity or limits to determine what or how much it can do

* Let’s put this robot through its paces and see if it can really do everything the engineers say it can do.

recklessly – carelessly; without caution; without worrying about dangers to oneself or other people

* Teenage boys have to pay more for automobile insurance because the insurance companies believe they often drive recklessly.

car lot – the paved, open area of a car dealership, where cars that are for sale are parked so that buyers can see them

* The northern part of the car lot has new cars, and the southern part has used cars.

tires screeching – for the tires of a car to make a loud, high-pitched sound because they are accelerating very quickly

* With tires screeching, the bank robbers left the bank.

nauseous – feeling as if one will vomit (throw up); with an upset stomach and possibly some dizziness

* About an hour after eating that fish, we all felt nauseous.

racecar driver – a person who drives sports cars very quickly in competitions to see who can finish the racecourse first

* Racecar drivers wear helmets, goggles, and fireproof clothing to protect themselves in case they crash into something.

Comprehension Questions
1. What does Leah mean when she says, “Buckle up”?
a) Put on your seatbelt.
b) Adjust the mirrors.
c) Look carefully before backing up.

2. How does Leah feel after the test drive?
a) She’s worried that he isn’t going to buy the car.
b) She wants to buy the car herself.
c) She feels like she might throw up.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to buckle up

The phrase “to buckle up,” in this podcast, means to fasten one’s seatbelt, or to put on the strap that holds one’s body onto the seat in a car or airplane: “Do the police officers really give tickets to people who don’t buckle up?” The phrase “to buckle down” means to start working very hard: “Final exams are in just two weeks. It’s time to buckle down and really study.” The verb “to buckle” means to bend, especially under a lot of weight or pressure: “Charles was so nervous about his presentation that his knees buckled as he walked onto the stage.” Or, “The earthquake caused all the bridge supports to buckle.” Finally, the phrase “to buckle under pressure” means to do something that one doesn’t want, because the situation was too extreme: “The senator finally buckled under pressure from his constituents and decided to support the law.”

car lot

In this podcast, the phrase “car lot” means the paved, open area of a car dealership, where cars that are for sale are parked so that buyers can see them: “Are any of the newest models on the car lot yet?” A “parking lot” is a flat, paved area where many cars can park: “When you come to our office, park in the parking lot off of 14th Street.” The phrase “to draw lots” means to decide something randomly, so each person picks a piece of paper, only one of which has a mark, and the person who picks that piece of paper is selected: “Nobody wanted to volunteer for the project, so we decided to draw lots.” Finally, at an auction, a “lot” is a group of things that are being sold together: “Let’s start the bidding for Lot 34 at $100.”

Culture Note
Driver's Ed

In most states, people can get their “learner’s permit” (permission to drive under the supervision of an adult) at age 15. They spend the next year learning how to drive, and when they are 16 they can try to pass the written and driving tests to “earn” (get something through hard work) their driver’s license. Most people learn how to drive with the help of parents or an older “sibling” (brother or sister), but many also take “driver’s ed” or “driver’s education” classes.

Many “insurance companies” (companies that make payments if one gets in an accident, in exchange for monthly payments) will lower the “premium” (the amount paid per month to have insurance) for drivers who have completed driver’s ed, so there is a significant “incentive” (reason or motivation to do something) for parents to put their teenagers in driver’s ed. Some larger high schools offer driver’s ed courses for students, but in most cases families pay for driver’s ed classes offered by local businesses or a community college.

In a driver’s ed course, students learn “the rules of the road” (laws about how one should drive) and the importance of becoming a “defensive driver” (a driver who is always looking ahead for potential problems and doing things to avoid getting into accidents). Once students have “mastered” (completely understood) the basics, they “get behind the wheel of” (drive) a “modified” (changed; adapted) car. The instructor sits in the passenger seat, but has access to emergency controls to stop or turn the car as needed, in case the student gets into a dangerous situation.

Students begin by driving in empty parking lots, learning how to “accelerate” (increase speed), “brake” (slow down or stop), and park. Then they go onto regular roads, but the car is marked with the words “student driver” so that other drivers can be “cautious” (careful).

Comprehension Answers
1 - a

2 - c