Tesla – Part 2

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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk. There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript and a task for you to do in the comments section.


Today, you are listening to the second part of a pair of podcasts about Tesla. I made this podcast after taking the advice of a listener called Antonio. There is so much important language related to Telsa that I had to split this podcast into two and this is the second part. If you haven’t heard the first part, it’s probably a good idea to look for that podcast on your podcast app or visit LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk and look in the advanced section.

In this podcast, I’m going to read two parts of an article I wrote about Telsa   and then after each part, I’ll stop and focus on the vocabulary. 

OK – let’s get back to Tesla.

Tesla Motors became Tesla in 2017 and they also make batteries, solar panels and solar roof tiles, and provide other related services. 

So, why is Tesla important? What’s so special about electric cars? 

Everybody knows that we have to stop burning fossil fuels. Petrol and diesel vehicles used for domestic travel contribute something like 20% of the carbon that we are pumping into the atmosphere which is the biggest contributing factor causing climate change. 

We need to stop driving vehicles that burn fossil fuels and Tesla has helped change people’s minds about electric vehicles. When I was a kid, we used to see electric vehicles all the time. In the UK, there were milk floats, these were little electric trucks used to deliver milk. They were quiet. They hummed about the streets in the early hours, accompanied by the clinking of glass bottles. They have pretty much disappeared these days as people buy milk from the supermarket, but lots of people will remember them and associate electric vehicles with milk floats. Milk floats were not cool, but the Tesla Roadster was. The Model S is as fast as a sports car. Even the 7 seater Model X which looks like a family minivan is incredibly fast. This made people think about electric vehicles differently.

There are just a few items to look at from this passage. The first is burning fossil fuels. Although this language is quite advanced, it’s very common in the media these days so I think that you will probably know it. It’s still quite interesting though, because of the word fossil. A fossil is the remains of a bone or a plant that has been trapped in rock for millions of years. Most famously, dinosaur bones turn into fossils if they are trapped in rock. Fossil fuels are fuels that were created through a process similar to fossilisation. Billions of years ago, algae and bacteria and later plants lived and died, but there wasn’t any fungus to break them down so all that mass was crushed and compressed and over the next two or three billion years coal, oil and natural gas was trapped under the ground. When this is dug up and burned as a fuel today either in power stations or in cars or planes or other vehicles, it is burning fossil fuels.

We use the word domestic in two ways. It can refer to things that happen in the home. So a domestic cleaner or appliance is a cleaner or machine that is used in the home. However, that’s not the meaning here. In the phrase domestic travel, the word domestic is used in contrast with international travel. So if you go to the airport, you might see signs for domestic flights. Some airports have domestic terminals for flights that are within the same country. Domestic travel is all the travel that happens within a country so that’s usually journeys by car, train or lorry.

The last word from this section that I want to talk about is associate which means to connect two things in your mind. So you could ask someone what foods they associate with Italy or what they associate with the USA and they might say baseball or Hollywood or Jazz. 

OK – let’s get back to Tesla one more time.

I don’t think that Tesla’s vehicles will solve the problems of CO2 emissions. These vehicles are big and heavy and the electricity they run on is still mostly generated by burning fossil fuels. However, they have shown that cars don’t have to run on petrol. 

People are funny about cars. Cars make people feel powerful. Some people treat transportation as a competition. They want to go faster and in bigger and more powerful cars. But comfort, safety, and efficiency should really be the qualities we look for. Tesla has produced electric vehicles that have demonstrated that cars don’t have to have petrol engines, but they still appeal to people because of their speed and power. They are massive heavy cars and I think we need to be looking at much smaller and more efficient forms of transport. Tesla may represent an important step towards more efficient private transport, but it’s only a small step. That said, if I had the money and a driveway that I could use to charge it, I would love a Tesla … until the next step is available.

In this last section, there were four words and phrases that I want to talk about. The first is CO2 emissions. CO2 is the molecular formula for carbon dioxide, the gas that is released when fossil fuels are burned. The word emissions is the noun form. It is related to the verb to emit which means to send out. Usually things emit light or rays of some kind, a sound, a high pitched whine or beeps for example, or a smell or gas. It’s quite technical; it’s the E in LED lights. LED stands for light emitting diode. 

I said that people are funny about cars. Funny has two main meanings. The first is straight forward, it describes something that makes you laugh. Jokes are funny, comedians are funny. However, it has another meaning which is similar to strange. It means odd and slightly unsettling. If you have a funny feeling about something, it’s a strange feeling that might be a mixture of confusion and slight fear. When I said people are funny about cars, I meant that people have strange feelings about their cars and these feelings can make people irrational.  

I said that Tesla may represent an important step towards something. A step is normally what you do when you are walking. Each individual leg and foot movement is a step. It’s also what each level of stairs are called. In my house there is a flight of stairs with 15 steps. We also use the word to talk about the stages of a set of instructions. So if you are building something out of lego, each page of the instructions could be called a step. Step 1, find the corner pieces. We also use the word in a figurative sense to talk about technological developments in phrases like the next step or a significant step. When Neil Armstrong was the first man on the moon, he stepped out of the little space craft and onto the surface of the moon and said: ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’

The last word I want to talk about is the word efficient. Efficient is an adjective that means working quickly and effectively without wasting energy or time. You can use it to talk about machines or systems. So a machine that uses lots of energy to perform a task is not as efficient as a similar machine that uses less energy. Small cars are usually far more efficient than large cars. In the UK, fuel efficiency for cars is measured in mpg or miles per gallon. As miles and gallons are both imperial metrics, I imagine most countries measure fuel efficiency in kilometres per litre, but I’m not sure. The opposite is inefficient.  

OK – that’s a lot of advanced  language related to Tesla and electric cars. I hope you have enjoyed it Antonio. I appreciate it has taken me a while to get round to it, but I hope you found it useful. 

To everyone else, if you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a comment or a rating or a review. I love to hear from you and any comments or suggestions you have. If there are any topics or songs or scenes from a film that you would like me to talk about or anything else you would like to hear, I would be delighted to make a podcast for you. So please visit LearnEnglishVocabulary.co.uk and say hello.

Thanks for listening.

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1 Comment

  • Martha
    Posted 16/06/2022 at 7:09 am

    Thanks for your great podcast

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