Word of the week: transport

As a child I visited Spain. It was a magical experience: the burning sand and the joy of communicating in sign language with the local children. I have loved travelling and meeting people from other countries ever since.

Talking to EF English Live students, I am not alone in this love. With Japanese students taking the bullet train, Russians taking internal flights to get to know their vast country, Europeans paying flying visits to their neighbours, and Brazilians exploring their European past, it seems that many of our students are on the move.

In fact, one of the reasons many students are learning English is to facilitate their travels.  There are certain verbs that are associated with travel, for example’ catch’ and ‘bus’, ‘take’ and ‘train’, ‘ride’ and ‘bike’ or ‘sail’ and ‘boat’.  There are also a lot of phrases that are associated with travel too.

Bus travel:  Most countries have bus services; some are local, some national, and some international. You might also have to take a ‘shuttle bus’ when travelling. A shuttle bus service is a public transport bus service designed to quickly transport people between two points. Such a bus will ‘shuttle’ backwards and forwards between the two points, normally without any intermediate stops and with a high frequency of trips. Such services are often designed to serve specific customers, such as hotels and airports.

Trams and trolleybus services:  A famous Judy Garland film features a trolley bus and these famous words:

‘Clang, clang, clang went the trolley,
Ding, ding, ding went the bell.
Zing, zing, zing went my heartstrings,
From the moment I saw him I fell.
Chug, chug, chug went the motor,
Bump, bump bump went the brake,
Thump, thump, thump went my heart strings,
When he smiled, I could feel the car shake.’

They are not as common as buses, but trolleys are found in about 45 countries around the world. They run using overhead electric wires, and trams use a track as well. One of the most famous tram systems in the world is in Vienna.

Train transport:  the oldest underground train system in the world is found in London. Also known as ‘the tube’, this form of rapid transit is 150 years old. Underground systems are now found around the world; one of the most beautiful is in Moscow.

The first mechanised train services in the world also started in England in the 1820s, but lots of other countries have contributed to the development of train travel. Starting with the opening of the first Shinkansen (bullet train) line in Japan in 1964, high-speed rail transport, functioning at speeds up to and exceeding 300 km/h, have been built in Europe, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan and South Korea.

Despite being the biggest economy in the world, the American train service is not as developed. Instead, Americans regularly take to the air to keep in touch with each other.


Flights can be internal or international, short haul or long haul i.e. within a country or between countries, and a short distance or a long distance.

However you travel, have a safe trip!

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