Everyday conversations: Do you want to win a car? [audio]

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Six students from around the world meet. What do they have in common? They are all exchange students studying at a U.S. university for a semester. Throughout the semester, they learn more English, learn about U.S. culture, and learn more about their fields of study. This series of Everyday Conversations is about these six students and their experiences during a semester at a university in the U.S. These conversations are for intermediate-level English-language learners or higher.

A student (Lee) takes another student (Jana) to see an electric car. They talk about electric cars and their positive effects on the environment.

Jana: Lee, I have a class soon on the other side of campus. Why did you drag me all the way over here to the parking lot of one of the environmental science buildings?

Lee: It won’t take long, and you’re gonna love it. Close your eyes. Ready? Check it out!

Jana: Is that what I think it is? For real?

Lee: Yup. Isn’t it great? The best electric car on the market! Energy efficiency and beautiful engineering in one car. I thought you’d appreciate that.

Jana: I totally do. I’d love to have one. But why does your class have this car here?

Lee: Well, energy efficiency is one of the easiest ways to combat climate change, right? But that alone doesn’t seem to get people’s attention. Even though energy efficiency reduces energy costs, people still need a little nudge to start making changes.

Jana: I think this car will get people’s attention.

Lee: Exactly. Our entire department is holding an event to get people more interested in ways to be more energy-efficient. And an alum donated the car as a raffle prize!

Jana: When is that event? I’m definitely going to come and buy a raffle ticket!

Now let’s review the vocabulary.

To drag someone somewhere means to make someone go somewhere he/she does not want to go.

Gonna is a shortened form of going to. It is used in informal spoken English.

For real is an informal phrase used in spoken English. It is used to emphasize that something is actually true and accurate.

An electric car is a car that uses an electric motor. It uses electrical energy stored in rechargeable batteries or another storage device.

Energy efficiency is using less energy to provide the same service. For example, light bulbs that are energy-efficient use less energy but still provide the same amount of light as other light bulbs.

Climate change means changes in the Earth’s weather, especially due to the increase in temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere that is caused in part by the increase in carbon dioxide.

A nudge is a small push or encouragement to do something.

Alum is a shortened version of alumnus or alumna. An alumnus is a man who was a student at a particular school, college or university and has graduated from that school. An alumna is a woman who was a student at a particular school, college or university and has graduated from that school.

A raffle is a contest in which people buy numbered tickets in exchange for a chance to win a prize. Raffles are usually organized to make money for a good purpose.

Ready to learn more English? Our materials can help.

The American English website offers a variety of free resources for learners and teachers of English. The American English Facebook page posts learning materials for English-language learners daily.

Everyday Conversations are developed by the State Department’s Heidi Howland, a senior program officer in the Office of English Language Programs, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.