Transport Language

Vocabulary | Listenings | Travel English


Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be. The Activities here will help you to quickly develop your vocabulary.


Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library Activities will help you to develop you listening skills.  

Travel English

If you find yourself travelling to an English speaking country, these Activities will be very valuable to you. The Activities look at some of the most common vocabulary you will need in situations like buying a train or plane ticket, booking a hotel, asking for directions, and many more situations that the traveller can find themselves in.

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However you prefer to travel, be it by car, by plane, by bike, or simply walking, transport of some form is part of your life. If you don't know the vocabulary to use when travelling or deciding on which transport to use, you're going nowhere. This lesson will teach you much of the language you need to know to talk about transport. The lesson looks at canoes, boats, walking, horse riding, horses and carts, trains, planes, cars, lorries, bicycles, motorcycles, sailing ships, and more, gives you plenty of exercises to help you learn, remember, and use the new vocabulary you have learned.  


Transport Some vocabulary about how we get from A to B. Video In the beginning we walked. Walking got us from A to B and kept us fit. We were pedestrians. The pace of life was rather pedestrian and people went about their lives at a walking pace. Then we invented the boat. The first boats were simple, like these canoes. Early man became a canoeist. Eskimo types used kayaks. They paddled around in their kayaks, a paddler to a boat. The Egyptians, tired of paddling, invented the sailing boat over 5,000 years ago. The Egyptians became the first sailors. Around the time the Egyptians began sailing, other people did a deal with the horse. “We'll use you to get from A to B,” said the people. “And in return we'll give you some grass to eat. How about that?” Blessed with great strength but little intelligence, the horses agreed. Mankind became horse riders. Around this time, somebody came up with the idea of the wheel. Another man, probably a friend, invented the axle. They saw that not only could horses be ridden, but they could also pull things, too. The horses tried to argue that this was in breach of their original agreement, but mankind ignored them. And so the horse and carriage was invented and man became drivers. Women became passengers. Then women saw that the wheels on the carriages could help them in their day-to-day childcare duties and the pushchair was invented. Horses not only pulled carriages, but they also pulled wagons and carts. In some regions the horses went on strike and so men had to pull the carts themselves. Because the Egyptians had put the wind up their enemies with their early sailing boats, sailing technology developed quickly. Soon, sailing ships with multiple masts and sails came along. Not only could man get from A to B, he could now get as far along the alphabet as he wished, all the way up to Z. The world became ever smaller as man was able to trade with far distant nations. All of this international trade allowed for the rapid exchange of ideas, which in turn led to the rapid development of industrial might. This growing industry needed more strength than even the horses could provide. The key turned out to be steam and the next big breakthrough was the harnessing of the steam engine. Steam was much stronger than horses, so it turned out, and one small steam engine had the strength of many horses. All of this horsepower was harnessed into moving huge machines which people called trains. Great networks of iron rails were laid coast to coast, country to country, continent to continent and even underground. The tube or the metro, made it possible to construct new transport networks across already congested cities. The steam engine was also used to power ships, and great cargo vessels began to plough the waves from continent to continent. The steam-powered industrial machine enabled the invention of the bicycle. Also known as cycles or bikes, man quickly became a cyclist. Now cyclists and pedestrians could have coexisted very happily, had not the internal combustion engine been developed. For, thanks to the even greater power that the internal combustion engine could produce, the bicycle became the motorbike. Astride their motorcycles, bikes, or even choppers, bikers were able to enjoy a freedom of travel few had dreamed of before. But the horses were not displeased. When the horseless carriage was invented, horses were free to pursue other careers such as children's fairground ride. Were I a horse, I think I'd rather be pulling a carriage. The horseless carriage, as you can tell by it's name, didn't have a horse. What it did have was a long and unwieldy name, however, so people shortened it to car. Just as well they didn't shorten it to horseless, or you'd see adverts for “World's most advanced horseless.” And it wasn't just cars that the internal combustion engine could power. Double-decker buses and other vehicles began to clog up our streets. There's an engine in this van... This scooter... This taxi... And there's an internal combustion engine in every one of the millions of thirsty cars that devour our limited supply of oil every minute of every day as they scarcely move more than walking pace on roads choked with heavy traffic the world over. Some internal combustion powered vehicles we need, like this fire-engine. Some, we perhaps don't. A speedboat... A jet ski. We do need to eat, though, so we need boats like this fishing boat, towing its dinghy behind it. And our food now comes from distant lands like never before in human history. Huge cargo ships bring food from far flung corners of the world. I wonder what those early Egyptian sailors would make of these modern container ships. The goods in the containers must be transported from the ports on the coasts and into the shops and supermarkets in every city, town and village of every country in the world. Lorries carrying tens of millions of tons of food and goods now rumble across the motorways of every country on the planet. And with the world shrinking daily, people want to travel further afield. They still take to the high seas on ferries and cruise ships, but there is another way of travelling that no ancient Egyptian could have dreamed. Air travel. The earliest form of air travel was the balloon. The first hot air balloon took to the skies, or at least to 35 feet, in 1783. But this early form of air transport never really took off, because it was slow and you were at the mercy of the winds. A better way had to be found, and it was. Two bicycle engineers realised that their bicycle technology coupled with the internal combustion engine could get a plane in the air. The early planes were biplanes and didn't go very fast. The development of the plane was rapid, however, thanks to the need to drop bombs on the enemy in World War I. Soon the biplane gave way to the superior monoplane. Even a plane that could land and take off from water was invented. The seaplane is very useful in places where there is very little flat land but lots of water. The development of the plane did not end with the end of the war. Another war would come along, this much was, and is, certain, and better planes would be needed. More versatile than the fixed-wing aircraft was the helicopter. Helicopters are more expensive to fly than fixed-wing aircraft, but they can do things fixed-wing aircraft cannot. With the development of better and better aircraft, the passenger plane industry grew. Pilots were now able to fly their passengers to the other side of the world in under a day. On the other side of the world the tourists can windsurf... And kite-surf... And enjoy other water sports that they could not do at home. And some companies have plans afoot to allow people to travel even further afield. Companies are developing spacecraft that will take passengers to the edge of space and beyond. The day may well come when every one of us can become an astronaut, a far cry from the pedestrian beginnings of our urge to travel. Personally, I think I prefer a slower pace of life.

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