English Listening Lesson 002 ‘The Worst Bus Ride Ever!’

by Melanie on May 17, 2010

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002 The Worst Bus Ride Ever

 

Story:

I thought it would be more relaxing to take the bus downtown Toronto instead of driving, but I was wrong!

Pronunciation lesson:

When to drop the h sound at the beginning of the pronouns him, his, and he

 
This podcast is for intermediate to advanced English learners. I use core vocabulary to tell you a story about something that happened in my daily life in Canada. Each podcast also includes a pronunciation lesson that explains something I said in the story. You’ll hear the story twice. The first time, the story is a little slower than normal. After the pronunciation lesson, you’ll hear the story again, but at a regular speed. I speak naturally and with a standard American accent.

 

Transcript

[I speak with a standard American accent, but sometimes my spelling is British. That's the way we do things in Canada!]

 
On a recent Friday night, I went downtown Toronto for a night out with friends. I really don’t like driving downtown. There’s so much traffic crowded into a very small space, and parking is so expensive! I decided to take the bus instead. There’s an express bus from my suburb that will take me straight downtown without stopping. The buses are really nice and the seats are really comfortable. I thought it would be more relaxing and less stressful than driving, but I was wrong!

On that Friday night there were tons of people heading downtown, so the bus was packed. My friend and I couldn’t get 2 seats together, so we had to sit on opposite sides of the aisle. I had the great misfortune to sit next to a complete stranger who insisted on telling me his entire life story … for 45 minutes! I didn’t want to be rude to him, but I really didn’t feel like talking to him. I just wanted to rest & relax. I tried to ignore him and look uninterested, but that didn’t work. He just kept talking. It sounded like he had a really sad life. At the end of the bus trip, he asked me to go out with him and then he tried to give me his phone number. What was he thinking? I don’t think he was all that bright.

To make things worse, the bus was so packed that people were standing in the aisle and sitting on the aisle floor. There was a guy sitting on the floor next to me who had not showered for days. Not only did he smell of B.O., but he started eating the smelliest crackers ever. He ate the entire package. It was disgusting.

You know, I think I would have been better off driving downtown instead of taking the bus!

 

Pronunciation:

In the story, I used the pronouns he, him, and his frequently. Did you notice that I didn’t fully pronounce them?

Listen carefully:
I tried to ignore him
I don’t think he was all that bright.
What was he thinking?

Pronouns are functions words. They’re grammar words. They need to be there for the sentence to be grammatically correct, but they’re not important words. Function words are not fully pronounced in a sentence.

When any pronoun with h is in the middle of the sentence (and NOT at the beginning), you don’t need to pronounce the h. You can drop the h, and then link the pronoun to the previous consonant sound.

Then he becomes /ðɛni/
was he becomes /wəzi/
ignore him becomes /ɪgˈnoɚɪm/

Listen to the story again. Can you hear more examples of pronouns without the h sound?

 

Related blog posts:

How to practice listening
How to talk about transportation
How to talk about relationships

 

Reference Vocabulary

relaxing (adjective)
I thought it would be more relaxing and less stressful than driving,…
= describes something makes you feel relaxed (calm, pleasant, less tense, etc.)

stressful (adjective)
I thought it would be more relaxing and less stressful than driving,…
= describes something that causes you to feel stressed (something that causes you to feel worried, tense, anxious etc.)

aisle
…so we had to sit on opposite sides of the aisle.
…people were standing in the aisle and sitting on the aisle floor
= a passage or walkway in the middle of seats (on an airplane, train, bus, or in a theatre, church, etc.) or between shelves in a store

uninterested (adjective)
I tried to ignore him and look uninterested, but that didn’t work.
= not interested; don’t want to learn or know more about something

shower (verb)
There was a guy sitting on the floor next to me who had not showered for days.
= to take a shower

B.O.
Not only did he smell of B.O.,
= body odor; the unpleasant smell of someone’s body when they have not washed for a long time

smelliest (adjective: smelly)
…he started eating the smelliest crackers ever.
= describes something that has an unpleasant smell

crackers
…he started eating the smelliest crackers ever.
= a very thin, dry, baked biscuit, usually made of flour and water

better off (adjective: well-off)
You know, I think I would have been better off driving downtown instead of taking the bus!
= in a better position or situation

 

Phrasal Verbs:

to go out with someone
At the end of the bus trip, he asked me to go out with him and then he tried to give me his phone number.
= go on a date with someone (in this context)
(For other uses of ‘go out with,’ click here.)

 

Core Vocabulary

(What is core vocabulary?)

3*** words:
recent
traffic
space
expensive
decide
instead
seat
comfortable
wrong
heading [verb: head]
opposite
side
complete
insist (on)
entire
bright
package
frequently

2** words:
straight
tons
stranger
ignore
smell

1* words:
crowd [verb]
parking
express
suburb
packed
misfortune
disgusting

 

Collocations

(What are collocations?)

a night out
take the bus
tons of
on opposite sides
to sit next to
a complete stranger
insisted on
life story
ignore (something/someone)
to go out with (someone)
to be better off
instead of

 

Listen to more lessons here!

 
 

 


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Thank you so much for sharing this podcast with your fellow English learners! It’s because of you that this podcast is such a success, and I am grateful for your support!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 boedy buddy July 20, 2011 at 9:37 pm

hi melanie, this is very useful for support material to immprove listening. thanks melanie..I'm really grateful

Reply

2 Samantha May 9, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Hi Melanie

I have a question, when you say ‘In addition parking downtown “costs” an arm and a leg’ I heard “cost” instead of “costs” am I right? I heard the audio several times and I still continue hearing “cost”. I hope you answer me.

Reply

Melanie 3 Melanie May 10, 2012 at 2:55 pm

Hi, Samantha!

I listened to the podcast again, and I did say ‘costs.’ ‘Costs’ ends with the -sts consonant cluster. In the listening lesson ‘Baby Gifts’ and I explain how to pronounce this cluster. This might help you to hear the cluster better in ‘costs’!

I hope that helps!
= )

Reply

4 Vanessa November 30, 2012 at 10:41 am

Hi Melanie,
When I listened this podcast, I had a question to a sentence “I find it difficult to drive on roads with streetcar tracks. “. Would it be also right if I say ” I find it is difficult to…”? Thanks. Vanessa

Reply

Melanie 5 Melanie December 8, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Hi, Vanessa!

Yes, your sentence is correct, too! Both are acceptable in English conversation.

= )

Reply

6 Masanori February 14, 2013 at 12:46 am

Hi, Melanie,

I have an experience studying German when I was an university student. In the Pronunciation section above reminded me of some special way of pronouncing of “h” in German.
The words like

Ihnen, sahen, gehen,

these “h”s are not pronounced. Instead, they are signs that indicate the vowels placed just before them are long vowels. I felt some interesting analogy in pronouncing “h” .

To say the truth, I didn’t know this omission of h in pronounciation in English till today. Thank you!

Reply

Melanie 7 Melanie February 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

Hello Masanori,

It’s nice to hear from you! I did not know that the ‘h’ in many German words was silent, and an indication of long vowels. It would be great if we had something similar in English!

I am happy to hear that this pronunciation lesson helped you!

All the best,
Melanie

Reply

8 Thom April 23, 2013 at 1:41 am

There are a lot of similarities between English and German. Much of English comes from Germanic languages – the German family of languages.

Reply

9 Thom April 23, 2013 at 1:46 am

Can I tell you about MY worst bus ride ever? Here it is. I took a mini-bus (actually a van) from Nan, Thailand to Chiang Mai, Thailand. During the bus trip, the driver sped around blind corners WHILE passing other cars. That means we were on the wrong side of the road and he couldn’t see more than 50 meters. My hands were white from holding the safety strap. Now I know the reason Thailand is the 4th most dangerous place in the world to take a bus.

Reply

Melanie 10 Melanie April 24, 2013 at 9:03 pm

I’m scared. That is MUCH WORSE than my bus trip! Thanks for letting me know never to take a bus in Thailand.

= )

Reply

11 taweesak October 3, 2013 at 10:41 pm

Good morning teacher
I’m thai, I am trying to learn more in english then met you and telling everyone that I know to join this excellence webside together. I intend to listen in every lesson, for “The worst bus ride ever!” it is very funny for me, it just lovely experience of you. ^^!
Thanks for your kindness.

Reply

Melanie 12 Melanie October 8, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hello Taweesak,

Thank you so much for your kind words & for telling more people about this website! You are great!

= )

Reply

13 Dehghan April 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

Hi Dear Melanie
I m a teacher of english from Iran. I stumbled on your site by chance and believe me I found a treasure trove there. I keep introducing your site to my students and they also have found it quite innovative and helpful. Thak you for the good job.
Dehghn

Reply

Melanie 14 Melanie April 4, 2014 at 5:44 pm

Thank you so much for your kind words, Dehghan! I am so delighted that my lessons are useful to your students!

Reply

15 Oswaldo April 25, 2014 at 8:02 am

Hi dear Teacher;

Thank you for your advices and for this excellent web site to improve the English. I’m practicing a lot each lesson because one of my goals is to watching T.V. Shows without subtitle.

You make it fun to study English

Oswaldo

Reply

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