English Listening Lesson 008 ‘My License Plate!’

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008 My License Plate

 

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

 
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!]

 
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.

Service Kiosk 1

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?

 
NOTES:
– 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.

 

Pronunciation:

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:
escape
extreme
describe
suppose
reduce

However, this tip does NOT help with unstressed syllables:
late (but chocolate)
rise (but promise)

 

Related blog posts

How to practice listening
Vocabulary spotlight on: Getting & keeping a driver’s licence

 

Reference vocabulary

sticker
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

reopen
…and there was no indication as to when it would reopen.
= open again after being closed

inconvenience [verb]
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

 

Core vocabulary

(What is core vocabulary?)

3*** words
piece
metal
vehicle
identify
government
require
layer
pass [verb]
test [noun]
air
machine
again
result [noun]
drive [verb]
issue [verb]
temporarily
notice [verb]
charge [verb]
fee
completely
entire
situation
company
department
complain

2** words
provincial
renew
bureaucracy
emissions
doubt
indication
fortunately
nearby
mall
receipt

1* words
rectangular
pollute [verb]
mechanic
convenience

 

Collocations

(What are collocations?)

piece of
front & back
provincial government
put (something) on (something)
layer of bureaucracy
pass a test
make sure
test results
temporarily closed
an indication of
charge a fee

 

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!

7 Comments on English Listening Lesson 008 ‘My License Plate!’

  1. magda
    September 26, 2010 at 12:24 am (4 years ago)

    In my country (Brazil), we have to renew the licence plate every year, too. It costs about US 50,00. We can pay this fee in a bank or in an ATM. We need a car insurance too, and every year we have to drive down to a local, where they will check if your car is polluting the air. We need to pay for it too, a good US 30,00. If the car doesn't pass in the check up, we will need to charge extra fee again for a new test. So, don't sweat it. Unfortunately, we have to deal with these things. Magda

    Reply
  2. Melanie
    September 26, 2010 at 11:00 pm (4 years ago)

    Hi, Magda!

    Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Wow, it's amazing that we live in different countries but we have to do the exact same thing! I still think it's a big money grab!

    Take care,
    Melanie

    Reply
  3. Nui
    December 10, 2012 at 8:11 pm (2 years ago)

    Hi Melanie,

    Thank you for this useful website. I hope you’ll continue on teaching and sharing the English lessons on this website.

    Thanx
    Nui

    Reply
  4. julio
    October 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm (1 year ago)

    Hi Melanie, the entire situation indicates a legal rip off .I am looking at the bigger picture . The government by keeping close the issuing office is not only saving money on operative costs, also by directing the people to the service kiosk is making a profit, as if they weren`t satisfied with the already paid 74 canadian dollars . very smart guys !!!

    Reply
    • Melanie
      Melanie
      October 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm (1 year ago)

      You are so right, Julio! I wrote this story in 2010. Since then, the price of the sticker has increased to $90!!! It is indeed a rip-off!

      Reply
  5. Lulu
    November 1, 2013 at 3:07 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you for the wonderful website. Do you think you would create a video that focus on words starting with PL (place, plate, plan) and PR (preplan, premium, previous)

    Those are very hard sounds for me and it would help quite a bit. Thank you once again for all your hard work.

    Reply
    • Melanie
      Melanie
      November 2, 2013 at 3:52 pm (1 year ago)

      Thank you for the suggestion, Lulu! I will think about how I can teach those consonant blends!

      = )

      Reply

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