We like to keep our English listening practice about contemporary issues, things real world people in the UK are talking about. Although the UK government and media talk about the 'Cost of living crisis...' they are not really talking about what that actually means for real people. Today in your English listening practice podcast you will get to hear what British people think, and are actually saying about the cost of living. If you listen to the end of the podcast, you will find some practical things we British are doing to save money.
The ONS says that the average working person in the UK takes home £611 per week, or approximately £31,772 a year. Now the good news is
this is the most it’s been in a long time. The bad news is the cost of essential items (things we need to live) mean that even this record average income is not enough to pay the bills and live a normal life in the UK.
We are paying almost twice what we used to for heating gas and electricity, taxes are the highest they’ve ever been, the cost of food is up, the cost of fuel is up, the cost of borrowing (Mortgages) is up, cost of transport, utilities like mobile phones, TV all up.
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Hi, there. Let's be topical today and give you some English conversation practice. What about petrol prices? Are you having a problem in your country because petrol prices have gone up enormously? Well, they have in the UK. So I'm going to discuss this situation and this will help you pick up some vocabulary about petrol, cars, driving, fuel and economics as well.
So if you've got an IELTS listening test or an IELTS speaking test coming up, this is really good vocabulary for you. Great English language listening practice today.
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.
Before I go on to talk about petrol prices, let's just take a moment to show you the photographs of our Jubilee Pudding. If you remember one of my podcasts last week, I talked about the Jubilee Pudding in the UK and how lots of people were trying to find the ingredients for the Jubilee Pudding.
Well, as predicted, we ended up making a sort of trifle. We paid homage to the Jubilee Pudding, and you can see a picture of it on the screen right now, if you're interested in what our Jubilee Pudding looked like. Photograph and food styled by Andrew of Adept English, by the way. Very nice.
So one of the things that is a talking point in the UK newspapers at the moment, and I'm pretty sure people around the world are also talking about it - the rise in fuel prices - specifically the rise in petrol and diesel prices. So that's 'petrol', P E T R O L or diesel, D I E S E L. And that's what you put in your car.
You go to the petrol station, you go to the petrol pump and you 'fill up your tank'. 'Tank', T A N K in this context means the place in your car that you store your petrol or your diesel. So there's a lot of concern at the moment about rising fuel prices. Fuel, F U E L is a general word we use for 'things that you burn'.
We talk about 'domestic fuel' - usually means gas or can be electricity - so those prices are going up as well. And fuel for your car is diesel or petrol. You also might talk about fuel for your fire, which could mean wood or coal. So 'fuel' basically is 'things...substances that you burn for certain purposes'.
And you might also hear the term 'fossil fuels', which is F O S S I L. 'Fossil fuels' are the ones that come out of the ground, so the ones that we really need to get away from using, if we can, for the sake of our planet.
The headlines this week were that the cost of filling up a typical family car in the UK, went up to 100 pounds. Ouch! That's a lot of money just for a tank of petrol. Prices of petrol and diesel are going up - often referred to in the UK as 'prices at the pumps'. The 'petrol pump' is the machine that you get your petrol out of. And 'prices at the pumps' are determined by the cost of a barrel of oil.
That's a useful measure of what's happening in the world's economy. Now, of course, barrels of oil are always priced in dollars.
During the pandemic, the price of a barrel of oil went down because there was less demand. We couldn't go anywhere. We weren't allowed to drive or travel anywhere, so the price was lower. And now because of various things happening in the world, the price of oil has gone up.
What are the prices in the UK? Well, my garage is currently charging one pound 85 per litre for petrol and one pound 86 for diesel. I'm sure that's going to change soon because diesel usually costs quite a bit more than petrol. You get more miles out of a tank of diesel - I guess that's the compensation if you're a diesel car owner.
Your 'mileage', M I L E A G E just means the number of miles. So we talk about the mileage that you get from your car.
We're probably all going to become much more aware of how much mileage we get from a tank of fuel. It's predicted that prices will go up to two pounds, 10 per litre of petrol over the summer. Oh my goodness - that's expensive!
To give you an example, and I'm quoting from the BBC News website here. If your car took around 51 pounds last year to fill the tank - t hat's in 2021, it'll now cost 72 pounds. And if you've got a big seven seater 'gas guzzler' of a car, then the cost of filling your tank will have gone up from 100 pounds in 2021, to 140 pounds per tankful of fuel. A 'gas guzzler' - that's a car that uses a lot of fuel. But either way, ouch, that's going to hurt.
Fortunately for many people who use their cars to go to work, there's a lot more 'work from home' going on since the pandemic. They may not be going into the office or their job for five days a week. That will save a little bit on fuel costs.
Other people have electric cars, but actually electric cars are still so expensive that most people can't afford one. Most people have a petrol or a diesel car still.
The cost of a barrel of oil and the cost of fuel at the pumps are related. Petrol station retailers don't always pass on the savings when the cost of oil is reduced. So often the price at the pumps, at the petrol pump just keeps getting higher and higher.
A photograph of a car being filled with fuel. English listening practice topic: You'll be shocked to see just how expensive fuel is in the UK. The cost of fuel is becoming totally insane.
Obviously that's got an effect where we use our own vehicles, but also think about deliveries. In the UK, we were really keen on online shopping anyway, before the pandemic, but we're even keener now on online shopping. But I wonder how much longer this is viable for? How much longer can we do this? The cost of delivering small items to your house has just gone up - that might not be realistic for much longer.
Why is the cost of fuel so high at the moment? Well, in the UK, one of the reasons is that the price of a barrel of oil is always expressed in dollars. And it's a very poor exchange rate from Sterling, from UK pounds to dollars at the moment - that's not helping us.
Of course, another reason everyone's aware of - Russian oil. Russia supplies quite a lot of oil to the world, and many countries are introducing sanctions because of the conflict in Ukraine. A 'sanction', S A N C T I O N means that we refuse to buy something. 'Sanctions' mean 'we're not going to do business with you'.
So the US has already introduced sanctions. And the EU and the UK are saying that they're not going to buy any more Russian oil by the end of this year. So there is less oil available and of course - simple economics - that puts up the price.
In the UK, the government are under pressure to reduce fuel duty. ' Fuel duty' means 'the tax that you pay', as a consumer, as a customer, you pay a tax on your fuel when you put it into your car. In the UK, it's quite a lot of tax as well. There are two taxes on petrol and diesel - 29% fuel tax and 17% VAT, Value Added Tax. That's 46% in total - tax that we're paying on our fuel. That's a huge amount! Now the UK government brought in a measure in March this year to reduce the amount of tax by five pence per litre. That's not really enough to help us now, is it? So there's lots of pressure on the UK government to reduce the amount of fuel tax that we pay.
I heard last night, someone estimating that the government 'tax take' from fuel - they're getting an extra 24 million pounds per day on fuel. I think perhaps they can afford to bring fuel duty down a little to help us all out in this crisis.
In the UK, we have two big motoring organisations, the AA and the RAC. Now these organisations - you can pay to become a member and they operate a 'rescue service'. If you break down, if your car breaks down, they come and fetch you. But they're also a voice for motorists. They represent motorists. The word 'motorist', M O T O R I S T just means 'car drivers'. Well, that's most adults, probably. The RAC were giving tips on how to get the most from your tank of fuel, how to reduce your fuel consumption. That means 'how much fuel you use'.
Before we move on to that, just a reminder that our Adept English Consonants Pronunciation Course is for sale on our website. It's our newest course, and it runs through all the common pronunciation problems that English language learners meet when they're trying to do correct English pronunciation.
There are lots of things to trip you up in English pronunciation. So go to our Courses page at adeptenglish.com and have a look at this pronunciation course. It's really, really helpful for your English pronunciation. It's an in-depth course. It's quite a few hours long and you will learn a huge amount of vocabulary with this course as well. There are five speakers in total on this course, so it's not just me that you'll be listening to!
OK. Some tips on how to reduce your fuel consumption.
First of all the RAC advise that if you drive between 45 and 50 miles per hour, that is the most 'fuel efficient' speed. For those of you in kilometres, that's 72 to 80 kilometres per hour is the best for fuel consumption. Slower or faster, you're using more petrol or diesel.
Switch off your air conditioning. Yes, it does use a lot of fuel! Sorry to those of you who live in hot countries, but it's better if you can open the windows and do without your air conditioning.
If you're on a motorway - use cruise control. This will make it more efficient. 'Cruise control' - that's C R U I S E. That's the automated software in your car, the automated system that controls the speed of your car when you switch it on. So 'cruise control' is great on the motorway. Not so good on other types of road for your fuel economy. 'Fuel economy' means efficient use of fuel.
Keep your tyre pressures correct. Your tyre pressure - that means how much air is inside your tyre. That's T Y R E. We're talking here about the wheels of your car. How much air is in there? If you have the correct tyre pressure, then your fuel economy will be much better. If your tyres are low in pressure, you'll use a lot more fuel.
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Last one - try not to carry extra weight around with you in your car. Now that doesn't mean a person necessarily, but have a look in your boot. Make sure that you're not using extra fuel because you've got a lot of heavy items in the boot of your car that you don't really need to drive around with. That might save you a bit of money too.
There, we have it! Plenty of great vocabulary, practical vocabulary, which is useful for driving. Bit of economics in there as well. Lots about cars, lots of vocabulary about cars and some tips on how to save money. How to save money on fuel. And if you've got an IELTS test or some other kind of English test coming up soon, then this is the sort of vocabulary that will really help you.
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
- The RAC
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- Fuel Duty rates 2022-23
- Why is petrol so expensive in the UK?
- How to save petrol and diesel
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- ONS 2022 income statistics
- 45% of fuel price is TAX in the UK
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