English Listening Practice Shopping For Food Ep 554

A shopping trolley in the middle of an aisle in a supermarket. An IELTS listening practice lesson on shopping in a British supermarket.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2647 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 14 min

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IELTS English Listening: Supermarket Shopping In Britain

An English listening practice lesson for anyone learning to speak English as a foreign language. It will help you with the specific English listening skills you need for the IELTS test and provide the real world English language needed to use in a British supermarket. Listen to the end of the lesson and you will find a practice quiz which you can join in, and my own views on how the British think of supermarkets.

I know I say this is an excellent lesson for IELTS students, but the lesson will benefit anyone who is learning to speak English and wants to improve their English language skills. It will also provide some very practical language you could use if you walk into a British supermarket.

Walk into a large British supermarket and you’ll hear some very British words and phrases. Search for the product you want, ask about a package size, or maybe even ask for help to pack your own shopping. Today we introduce you to the British supermarkets in 2022 and the English language that involves.

As a bonus. If you ever visit the UK and want to know which supermarket is right for you. I share my views on which supermarkets are best for price and which focus on quality, and which are more expensive.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 2 word phrases:

The Supermarket9
Food Shopping3
That Means2
Shopping Cart2
Talk About2
Help You2
You Might2

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The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: English Listening Practice Shopping For Food

Hi there in today's English listening practice, I'd like to help you with phrases and words about the supermarket, where you do your food shopping. I'll explain the meanings of the phrases - I'm sure the supermarket is similar in your country. And I'll do some speaking practice with you at the end. All of that is really good IELTs preparation or preparation for any other English language test that you may be taking. And right at the end, I'll give you some thoughts about the British supermarkets, some opinions on them, if you like. Are you ready to come shopping with me?

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

Supermarket or store?

OK, so first of all, the word 'supermarket', that's S U P E R M A R K E T. The supermarket is the big shop where you go for your food shopping. They sell all kinds of things in the supermarket. That's very British. In the US, they would call it the 'store', S T O R E. You would go to the 'store'.

And if you hear the word 'market' on its own, M A R K E T, that generally means 'stalls', little temporary shops outside. There may only be tables, in fact. 'Temporary' means they're not there all the time. So that is a 'market' or 'an open- air market', but supermarkets are there all year round.

Doing the 'weekly shop' and the 'big shop

In the UK, many people will do their 'weekly shop' at the supermarket. We might talk about 'doing a big shop'. That means a lot of shopping, or if you don't have a car, then you might find yourself doing lots of 'little shops', instead. Some people would talk about 'getting an order in' - that means 'to do their food shopping'.

If you do a 'big shop', then you tend to drive to the supermarket and you put the 'big shop' in the boot, B O O T of your car. So you park up, you go into the car park at the supermarket.

Trolley, cart or basket?

The first thing you do is choose a trolley - that's T R O L L E Y. Those are the things with the wonky wheels that want to go their own direction. But this is what you use to put your shopping in. It's heavy!

Again, in the US, it would be slightly different vocabulary. They would say a 'cart', C A R T, or a 'shopping cart'. Just like you see when you buy something online - 'the shopping cart'.

And if you're going to the supermarket to just do a 'little shop', then you're more likely to use a basket, B A S K E T. These are usually made of metal and have handles.

Aisles in the supermarket and for getting married?

Inside the supermarket, the things that you might buy are arranged on 'shelves'. That's S H E L V E S. And the singular is 'shelf', S H E L F. 'Shelves' are also what you may have in your house. If you have a lot of books, it's likely that you keep them on 'shelves'.

And in between the shelves in the supermarket are 'aisles', A I S L E S. Notice there is a silent A there and a silent S there in the middle of that word - 'aisle'. So an 'aisle' is a space or a gap between seats or between shelves. If you're on a plane or a train, there will be an 'aisle' between the seats. You might have an 'aisle' in a classroom, and we talk about an 'aisle' in a church.

Again, it's that gap up the middle in between the seats or pews in a church.

And in fact, an idiom we use is 'to walk up the aisle'. That means 'to get married'.

Don't go into that supermarket in a T shirt!

So, supermarkets have 'shelves' and 'aisles'. What they also have because much of the food needs to be kept cold is 'fridges'. So F R I D G E S. That's when you want your food to be cold, and if you want it to be frozen, so that's under zero degrees centigrade, then you would have it in a 'freezer'. So supermarkets have lots of fridges and freezers.

It can be quite cold in there. If you go in, in a T-shirt.


A photo of a man in a supermarket holding a shopping basket. An IELTS English listening practice lesson which identifies and explains the English phrases and vocabulary used in a British supermarket.

©️ Adept English 2022

Fruit n Veg in the supermarket

Departments in a supermarket? Well, the first one that you usually come on, just inside the entrance is 'fruit and veg'. 'Veg', V E G is short for 'vegetables'. So 'fruit and veg' as a department is where you collect your fresh, healthy fruit and salad and potatoes, et cetera.

Dairy in the supermarket

Another section of the supermarket is 'dairy' D A I R Y. And in the dairy section, you'll find all products related to milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter. All of that is in the 'dairy' section of the supermarket. You'll find on sale in British supermarkets, lots of products which are made from cow's milk, but you'll also find different types of milk there. Soya milk, oat milk or almond milk are also very common.

The Deli

You will find in most British supermarkets, a 'deli' D E L I, which is short for 'delicatessen', D E L I C A T E S S E N. This is where you go for your specialist cold meat, pies, coleslaw, salad, ham pickles. Lots of nice things there.

You may also find there's a 'fish counter' or a 'fishmonger'. That's F I S H M O N G E R. So that's quite an old fashioned word for someone who sells fish and seafood.

The fishmonger and bakery

Another department that supermarkets usually have is a bakery, B A K E R Y. This is where you'll find bread and cakes and biscuits and pies. Bread of all kinds in British supermarkets. Often they cook it on the premises. They cook it in the shop. So behind the counter, there may be ovens where the bread is cooked. O V E N is an 'oven' where you might cook bread.

The supermarket check-out

So you filled your trolley full of goods. Now you want to go to the checkout. You want to go and pay for your goods. So the checkout, C H E C K O U T is where you go when your trolley is full and you finish shopping and you want to pay.

Here you may 'scan' your products yourself. So that's S C A N. That means that you present them to the machine and the barcode is read. The 'barcode', B A R C O D E is the little black and white stripy bit on the package that the computer can read to tell you what it is, how much it is. You can scan your shopping yourself, or you can go to a checkout where there's a cashier. That's a person who will do it for you. And that's 'cashier', C A S H I E R.

You'll also find in many supermarkets, there's an 'express checkout'. That's usually available to people who only have a basket. And it means that you get to check out more quickly.

Shop assistants and carrier bags

Other people who might work in a supermarket? Shop assistants, supermarket assistants. So an assistant is A S S I S T A N T. And they're called an 'assistant' because they're there to help you. 'To assist' means 'to help'.

And 'carrier bags'. These are the plastic bags that you might put your shopping into so that you can carry it to the boot of your car. So 'carrier bag', C A R R I E R. That means it's just a bag to carry things in. Be careful you'll be charged 5p or 10p for carrier bags in the UK to discourage using them. Much more eco, much more friendly to the environment to bring your own bags with you.


What everyone knows about the different UK supermarkets

And what do I think of supermarkets in the UK? Well, there is a wide range. Our main supermarkets are Tesco, Sainburys, Marks and Spencers, Waitrose, Co-op, Asda, Aldi, and Lidl. You've probably heard of some of those. If you're talking about high quality, but quite expensive, that means Marks and Spencers and Waitrose. It's really nice food in there, but it costs quite a lot. It's also very 'polite' in Waitrose and Marks and Spencers!

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Tesco and Sainsburys are somewhat in the middle. Those are the most popular supermarkets where most people shop. And then at the other end, you have places like Asda and the Co-op. The food's much cheaper there, but it might not be quite such good quality. People also like the German supermarkets - Aldi and Lidl are very popular in the UK.

Even the people who're quite well-off, who you might expect to shop in Waitrose and Marks and Spencers also do like to go in Aldi and Lidl. Well-off people like a bargain too! A 'bargain', B A R G A I N means that you 'get something for a really good price'. You feel pleased at the price you've paid for it.

So lots of people find themselves in Aldi and Lidl. Of course, we have a 'cost of living crisis' at the moment, so all of this could change! But that's the range of British supermarkets at the moment.

Practice sentences on 'supermarket vocabulary'

Let's practise these phrases and this vocabulary with some speaking practice. Try to repeat these sentences after me and say them as I say them, or as close as you can.

  1. In the UK, we take our trolley around the supermarket, but in the US, you would take your cart around the store.
  2. In the UK, we take our trolley around the supermarket, but in the US, we would take our cart around the store.
  3. Most UK supermarkets have a dairy section, a delicatessen and a bakery.
  4. Most UK supermarkets have a dairy section, a delicatessen, and a bakery.
  5. In supermarkets, you'll find lots of food on the shelves and in the fridges and freezers.
  6. In supermarkets, you'll find lots of food on the shelves and in the fridges and freezers.
  7. If you ask a supermarket assistant where to find something, they'll usually tell you an aisle number.
  8. If you ask a supermarket assistant where to find something, they'll usually tell you an aisle number.
  9. I need to get fresh fruit and veg and go to the dairy section, the bakery and the fish monger.
  10. I need to get fresh fruit and veg and go to the dairy section, the bakery and the fish monger.

OK practise those sentences - it'll help you remember the phrases and help you with your English speaking practice.

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Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




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