Free English Lessons

Train Ticket Problems – Listening Lesson (A2)

If you travel to an English-speaking country, you might want to travel by train. Learn how to ask about train times and different types of ticket in this free English listening lesson from Oxford Online English. This is a lesson for pre-intermediate learners.

Listen to the dialogue at normal speed here:

or listen to a slower version here:

Woman: I’d like a ticket to London, please.
Man: Are you coming back today?
Woman: Why do you need to know?
Man: Well, if you’re coming back today, you can buy a day return ticket, which is cheaper. Otherwise, you need a period return1.
Woman: Okay, a day return please.
Man: And what time are you coming back?
Woman: Why are you asking me all these questions? I just want my ticket.
Man: I’m sorry, madam, but if you want to come back at peak time2, you’ll need a more expensive ticket.
Woman: I want to come back around 5.30.
Man: Well, that’s peak time I’m afraid. You’ll either need to buy a peak-time ticket, or you’ll only be able to take slow trains.
Woman: This is ridiculous3. It’s so complicated! I just want a ticket… So how much is a peak ticket.
Man: £60. Off-peak tickets are £22.
Woman: That’s crazy!
Man: I’m sorry, madam, I understand it’s annoying4, but I don’t make the rules.
Woman: So if I take an off-peak ticket, how do I know what trains I can take?
Man: Here’s a list. You have to change either at Didcot or at Reading.
Woman: These take twice as long5. Aren’t there any direct6 trains?
Man: Yes, I know. If you wait until 6.00, you can…
Woman: Just give me the ticket, please.

The notes in this section contain many of the answers for exercise 3. You may wish to try the exercises first and return to this section if you need to.

1. A day return is a ticket to go and come back on the same day. A period return is a ticket to come back on another day. Period returns are usually more expensive.
2. Peak time is similar to rush hour. It means the time of day when people are going to work or coming home. In the UK, tickets to London at peak time are very expensive.
3. Ridiculous = stupid. Ridiculous is quite a strong adjective.
4. Annoying = something which makes you a little bit angry. You can also say irritating, which has the same meaning.
5. If journey A takes one hour, and journey B takes two hours, then journey B takes twice as long.
6. A direct train (or plane, or whatever) means you don’t have to change trains.

Train Ticket Problems – exercise 1
Listening skill: using a transcript

It’s a good idea to listen without a transcript then repeat while reading the words, to fill in any parts that you did not understand the first time. You should also use transcripts even when you do understand everything! Focus on the pronunciation of the words to raise your awareness of what word combinations sound like.

Before you focus on the meaning of language in the dialogue, listen to five excerpts and read the sentences as you listen. Each time, identify the word that is in the transcript but not the recording.

Train Ticket Problems – exercise 2
Grammar and pronunciation: the verb to be

To be is the most common verb in English. For such a common verb, there should be no difficulty understanding it – but there’s a problem: because it’s so common, speakers say it very fast and sometimes it’s hard to hear. In fact, it can totally disappear and you have to use grammar to know that it’s in the sentence!

Look at five full forms of the verb to be. Some are ‘hidden’ in contractions in the dialogue or pronounced very quickly.

Train Ticket Problems – exercise 3
Vocabulary: tickets and train travel

Let’s check some of the words from the dialogue that refer to trains and tickets.

Listen to the full dialogue and put the words in the order you hear them.

Train Ticket Problems – exercise 4
Comprehension: identifying details

In exercises 1 and 2, you studied the sound of the language in the dialogue. In exercise 3, you checked the meaning of key vocabulary.

Now listen to the full dialogue again and answer the multiple-choice questions about the details.

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