Frustration with technology, outrageous costs and the freedom to drive are in today’s English listening lesson. Today’s lesson takes the form of a conversation with English listening practice that will engage your interest and keep you interested in listening. All you have to do is sit back and listen, and listen as many times as you can.
Listening multiple times is the key to improving your English comprehension, which is key to storing your new English vocabulary understanding in your longer term memory, which is exactly where your language learning needs to be to help you with speaking any language fluently.
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The biggest problem encountered, while trying to design a system that was completely foolproof, was that people tended to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.
⭐ Douglas Adams, Author
Bluetooth Synchronise Synch
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. How about we do some work on English conversation today? And what that means is I’ll talk to you about something ‘real’, that happened to me this week, in the same way that I might tell it to a friend. So that you get practice at listening to real, authentic English conversation, about real things, real lives. So all of this is true.
My daughter passed her driving test last week. So she was delighted and it now means she can drive herself to work and college and she no longer depends upon me for lifts. She’s been busy all week, seeing her friends, who are about to go off to university. She herself is doing a course at a local college this year, before going to uni next year. She’s doing an Art Foundation. So she’s going to be living at home for one more year and then she’ll be off.
She already has a car, because she’s had a job in her spare time for couple of years, so she’s saved up the money. As soon as she passed her test, she needed to buy insurance for her car in her own right. ‘Insurance’, I-N-S-U-R-A-N-C-E is something that you buy – and effectively it’s an agreement between you and your insurance company, to say that they will cover the cost of any accidents or if the car is stolen, in return for money that you pay each year.
There are lots of different types of car insurance you can buy – but a type of insurance that’s really good for learner drivers is called ‘top-up insurance’. ‘Top-up’ just means that it ‘sits on top of’ something else. When you’re learning, practising in someone else’s car, as well as having driving lessons, is useful.
If you’re 18 years old like my daughter, this usually means practising in your parent’s car. So I have my own, normal car insurance which covers me to drive my car, but then we bought top up insurance for my car so my daughter could drive around and have a practice as a learner, before her test. Normally, when you buy insurance, you buy it for a whole year. But a way of making payment more manageable is to buy insurance for a shorter time – and this is good for learner drivers.
You’re hopefully not going to need learner driver insurance for a whole year, because you’re going to pass your driving test. That’s the hope. So with learner driver top-up insurance, you can buy a certain number of days – like 28 days or 40 days and then you can choose when these days are.
So you might not go driving every day. You can decide on the day and use an online app to ‘switch on’ your insurance. What a good idea - that worked really well. And we’ve driven to all kinds of places and used car parks to practise manoeuvres over the last few weeks.
Anyway, now that my daughter has passed her test, as I said, she needed to buy her own insurance. Car insurance for young drivers is really expensive in the UK. It costs more if you’re young and it costs more if you have no driving history in the UK.
This means that the first time you buy insurance in your own right, it’s expensive. So my daughter had saved up the money for her first year’s car insurance as well. The silly thing is the first year’s car insurance is so expensive, it cost about the same amount as the car. That’s crazy! But I’m sure there are many young people who’ve just passed their test for whom that’s true.
Anyway, she took out insurance as cheaply as possible, but inevitably this involved having what’s known as ‘a black box’ in her car, to make it cheaper. We’ve had this before when my older daughter first started driving. She could only get ‘black box’ car insurance. And what this means is that you have a device installed inside your car, which collects data about your driving. This then goes back to your insurance company. It means that they can monitor how safely you drive, what speed you’re doing – all kinds of information, I’m sure. And then this data helps them decide what your insurance is going to cost the next year.
So when my daughter bought her car insurance, this little ‘black box’ arrived through the post. It’s tiny and it’s now stuck on the windscreen of the car on the inside. It’s necessary to pair or ‘synch’ your phone with this device before you drive.
‘Synch’, S-Y-N-C-H is short for ‘synchronise’. And ‘to synchronise’ you mean….’synchronise’ means you ‘pair with’ or ‘set something up so that two things operate at the same time’. We do this all the time with Bluetooth – you might use it for your headphones, your fitness band on your wrist, your car stereo – all kinds of things.
A photograph of a GPS navigator in the car, black box insurance trackers use GPS to monitor your driving behaviour.
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So back to my story. I’m what’s called a ‘named driver’ on my daughter’s new insurance policy. A ‘named driver’ is another driver, who’s also covered to drive the car. We’ve done this because I’m older and I have lots of driving experience, it makes it a bit cheaper. It’s also practical – I might need to move the car to get one of the other cars out, or I might give her a lift, I guess. The problem I’m having is that the black box has arrived, it’s stuck in her car and my daughter has managed to pair her phone with the device and it’s recording her driving. But – when it comes to me and my phone, it won’t pair!
It’s driving me mad! It feels as though I’ve been sitting in the car for hours, pressing the button, trying to pair my phone with the device, the black box. And it won’t work! Arghhh! This is one of those times when you hate technology. Technology is wonderful and useful and brilliant at times, but at other times when it doesn’t work, it’s just damn frustrating and it takes up all your time!
All of us have had a look at this, and none of us can work it out. We’ve rung the insurance company and been on the phone waiting to speak to someone for an hour. We’ve also been on ‘live chat’, where we got a little bit further, but not much. We’re now waiting for ‘a technical team to get back to us’. So there’s online help as well, but it’s not very helpful if things aren’t working as they should.
Uhh – switching on and off, making sure everyone else’s Bluetooth is off. One of the problems is that when you turn on Bluetooth on your phone in our street, there are so many devices around the place, not all of them belonging to us. There are number codes and often no description. So I can see ‘Georges iPad’ – which belongs to the boy next door, I can see all my neighbour’s phones, their television sets and
even somebody’s fridge on the ‘available Bluetooth devices’! But can I see the ‘black box’ in my daughter’s car? NOoo!
The silly thing is I don’t even want to drive the car. I’m only there as a named driver for practicality and ‘cause it’s cheaper. And now they’re messaging to say that if we don’t connect the named driver’s phone to the black box, within a certain period, they’ll cancel the insurance!
This will get resolved, I know. Something will happen, so that I’m not stuck in the car, trying to pair my phone – or stuck on the phone trying to speak to the insurer. But at the moment, I’m ‘technology limbo’ and it’s using up my time. I’ve got a list of other things to do and it feels as though it’s going on forever. How many hours is it going to take to sort this out? How frustrating! It’s like a special type of ‘technology torture’.
Anyway, that’s me ‘having a moan’. It’s what we call a ‘First World Problem’ – meaning that anyone who has this problem is in a privileged position really. They’ve got a phone, they have a car, they have technology. What are they moaning about - there are people much worse off! That’s true. But at the same time, it’s a frustration that most of us who have ‘technology devices’ are familiar with!
Let us know of any occasions when it’s taken you an especially long time to sort out a technology problem, and you’ve been in ‘technology torture’ and ‘tearing your hair out’ for a period of time! There’s an idiom for you.
Anyway, enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.