Story: I had to spend $74 to get a new sticker to put on my car’s license plate.
Pronunciation lesson: A tip to help you remember how to pronounce some one-syllable words, like plate
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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.
[I speak with a standard American accent, but sometimes my spelling is British. That’s the way we do things in Canada!]
It’s that time of year again: Time to spend $74 to get a new sticker to put on my car’s license plate. A license plate is the rectangular piece of metal on the front & back of a vehicle. It has numbers or letters on it to identify the vehicle. Every car in the world needs one. For some reason, every year the provincial government requires that I renew my license plate by paying for a new sticker to put on it.
However, before I could get a new sticker for my license plate, there was one more layer of bureaucracy: The government also required that my car pass an emissions test to make sure it was not polluting the air. This is the same test that my car passed two years ago. I doubt my car had become a polluting machine since the last test, but I had to take my car to the mechanic anyway and spend $35 for the test. My car passed. Again.
I took the test results and drove down to the Driver and Vehicle Licence* Issuing Office, only to find that it was temporarily closed, and there was no indication of when it would reopen. That’s OK! Fortunately, there was a government service kiosk at the nearby mall where I could get a new sticker. It was easy to use the kiosk, but when I looked at the receipt, I noticed that I was charged a ‘convenience fee’ of $1.00 for using the service kiosk. I’ve been completely inconvenienced by this entire situation, yet the government charged me a ‘convenience fee.’ If this were a company, I would make myself feel better by calling the customer service department to complain. It’s the government, though, so, what can you do?
– Canada is divided into provinces. A province is like a state in the U.S. My province is Ontario. The provincial government is the government of the province.
– *In Canada, the word is spelled licence. The American spelling is license.
Here’s a quick tip to help you remember how to pronounce some one syllable words.
You’ll notice that the word plate ends with a vowel + a consonant + e.
Whenever a word ends with vowel + consonant + e, the e is silent (it’s not pronounced), but the vowel is pronounced like it’s name.
For example, in the word plate, the letter a is pronounced /eɪ/: plate
In the word these, the letter e is pronounced /i/: these
In the word drive, the letter i is pronounced /aɪ/: drive
In the word drove, the letter o is pronounced /oʊ/: drove
In the word rule, the letter u is pronounced /u/: rule
In the word cute, the letter u is pronounced /ju/: cute
You can also use this tip when vowel + consonant + e occurs in a stressed syllable, for example:
However, this tip does NOT help with unstressed syllables:
late (but chocolate)
rise (but promise)
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Time to spend $74 to get a new sticker to put on my car’s license plate.
…before I could get a new sticker for my license plate…
= a piece of paper or plastic with a picture or writing on it that is sticky on one side and attaches to another surface
an emissions test
The government also required that my car pass an emissions test to make sure it was not polluting the air.
= a test performed by a mechanic to make sure the emissions (gas and other substances coming out of my car) are not harmful to the environment
the Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office
I took the test results and drove down to the Driver and Vehicle Licence Issuing Office, …
= the local government office that looks after issuing driver licenses, vehicle permits and license plates
…and there was no indication as to when it would reopen.
= open again after being closed
I’ve been completely inconvenienced by this entire situation,…
= to cause trouble or difficulties (for someone)
customer service department
…I would make myself feel better by calling the customer service department to complain.
= the part of a company that deals with customer complaints or customer relations
(What is core vocabulary?)
front & back
put (something) on (something)
layer of bureaucracy
pass a test
an indication of
charge a fee