Learning Vocabulary: Pros & Cons
In this week's Premier Skills English Podcast, Rich is buying a car. He's looking at two very different options. Jack thinks he should choose one car and Rowan thinks he should choose the other. The language focus is on phrases we use to talk about advantages and disadvantages. In this week's task, we want you to listen to three different situations and give advantages and disadvantages about each. Don't forget to listen to the end of the podcast because we have a new football phrase for you to guess.
Learning Vocabulary: Pros & Cons
Jack: Hello my name’s Jack
Rowan: My name’s Rowan
Rich: and I’m Rich and welcome to this week’s Premier Skills English podcast
Jack: In the Premier Skills English podcast, we talk about football and help you with your English.
Rich: In this week’s roleplay, I’m thinking of buying a new car and I’ve got a couple of options
Rowan: What do you think will be important for Rich when buying a car?
Jack: The price definitely and probably the colour. Nothing else.
Rich: Thanks very much.
Rowan: This week we’re going to focus on vocabulary and we’re going to take a look at the language we use to talk about advantages and disadvantages.
Jack: This type of language is very useful but it’s especially useful if you ever have to take an English speaking exam.
Rich: That’s right. One of the most common tasks you get in a speaking exam is to talk about the advantages and disadvantages of a situation. And I should know because I’m an examiner!
Rowan: After the roleplay, we’ll look at some words and phrases you can use to talk about advantages and disadvantages and then we’ll have a task for you to do.
Jack: This week we’re going to give you three situations or dilemmas where you have two very different options. You need to tell us which option you would choose and why saying what the advantages and disadvantages are.
Rich: If you’re listening to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or any other podcast platform, you should also check out our website.
Rowan: That’s because on the Premier Skills English website you’ll also find the transcript, examples and activities to help you understand the language, a task for you to do and a community of friendly listeners to interact with, in our comments section.
Jack: And that includes us - we’re always around to answer questions and join the discussions.
Rowan: But if you do listen on Apple Podcasts you can always write answers to our questions or any other comments in the review section.
Rich: A lot to get through today! Before we get into all that we need to look back at last week’s football phrase.
Last week’s Football Phrase
Rich: If you didn’t hear our football phrase last week we’re going to give you one more chance to guess now.
Jack: Last week’s football phrase was * *****-*****. This phrase is used to describe the situation when two players are competing for a loose ball. Each player has more or less an equal chance of getting the ball. To win * *****-***** you need to be stronger in the tackle than your opponent.
Rowan: Outside of football this phrase is used as an adjective to describe things that are split equally between two people or when you have an equal chance of winning or losing.
Rich: We’ll give you the correct answer at the end of the show when we give you a new football phrase.
Jack: The first listener to get it right last week was Wsanta from Argentina!
Rich: Well done Wsanta. I think it’s the first time you’ve been first with the right answer.
Rowan: Lots of people got the answer last week. A big well done to Nicolas from Colombia, Marco Zapien from Mexico, Mohamed Kuna from Sudan and Hayato from Japan.
Jack: And well done also to Elghoul from Algeria, Lakerwang from China, Mario from Mexico and Alex from Ukraine all of you got the correct answer.
Rich: Yes, well done to all. It was also great to see many of you having a go at last week’s task. Many of you seemed to think that it was Rowan that must have eaten my muffin.
Rowan: But it wasn’t me. It was Jack!
Jack: Rich’s muffins are just too good.
Rich: If you haven’t heard last week’s podcast it’s called Who stole the oranges? You can find it on the homepage on the Premier Skills English website or Apple Podcasts
Introduction to Roleplay
Rowan: In this section, you’re going to hear a roleplay. Rich’s car has broken down again and he’s fed up and wants to buy a new one.
Jack: While you are listening, we want you to answer a couple of questions:
Rich: What type of car does Rowan want me to buy?
Rowan: And what type of car does Jack think Rich should buy?
Rowan: Coffee. Brilliant. How are you doing Rich?
Rich: I’m all right. I’m in the market for a new car. On my way home last night, I broke down on the motorway. The flippin’ engine went on the M1 last night.
Jack: Morning Rowan. Morning Rich. How did you get into work this morning?
Rich: I got the bus. Thanks for coming to pick me up from the garage last night.
Jack: No worries.
Rowan: What happened? Did you crash? Are you OK?
Rich: I’m fine. I didn’t have a crash. Smoke started coming out of the engine and the car just got slower and slower. I had to pull over to the side and stop on the hard shoulder. I had to get towed to the garage.
Jack: What did they say about the car?
Rich: It’s basically a write-off. It’s going to cost more to fix than it’s worth. I’m looking for something else.
Rowan: Well, one plus is that you won’t have to drive around in that heap of junk any more.
Jack: Yeah but the downside is that he’s going to have to fork out for a new car. Have you got the money? That’s what you’re circling in the newspaper - cars for sale.
Rowan: A newspaper - that’s a bit old school. What have you found then?
Rich: I’ve got a couple of options here. I’ve got to weigh up the pros and cons of each. I’m not sure which way to go - I had that car for over 10 years. It was always very dependable - not very fast but never broke down. Maybe I want something different … something with a bit more oomph you know.
Jack: A bit more oomph? What are you talking about? Let’s have a look at that newspaper.
Rich: They’re just ideas at the moment.
Jack: A Mazda MX-5. A two-seater convertible. A sports car. This is a bit of a radical change from your old hatchback. Are you having a mid-life crisis, Rich?
Rowan: There’s nothing wrong with a sports car if that’s what he wants. One advantage is that he’d get to work quicker.
Rich: Quicker than the bus that’s for sure. That’s definitely a plus.
Rowan: I remember renting a convertible once. It was great. Driving along on a sunny day with the wind in your hair. It was brilliant and everyone was dead jealous I could tell. I can only see upsides, Rich.
Jack: Were you on holiday?
Rowan: Yeah, I was in the Canary Islands - Tenerife.
Jack: It’s one thing when you’re on holiday but one drawback is the weather. Here in the UK when do you get to put the top down. It’s raining all the time and another negative is when it is sunny you’re in a traffic jam breathing in all that pollution.
Rich: He’s got a point.
Jack: And another argument against a sports car is that they’re super expensive to run. The petrol will cost a fortune and another disadvantage is that sports cars are not reliable at all. When it breaks down it’ll be expensive to repair and don’t even think about the insurance. It’ll be astronomical!
Rowan: You are being a bit of a spoilsport. I think the main benefit is that you’d look great in a Mazda MX-5, RIch.
Rich: It’s red as well. Look.
Rowan: A red sports car. It’d be brilliant.
Jack: Don’t be daft, Rich. It’d be a money pit. What’s the other option you’ve circled. Here we go. A grey Ford Mondeo. Five-doors and plenty of boot space. One hundred and twenty-six thousand miles on the clock. That’s more like it. That ticks all the boxes.
Rowan: That’s so boring. Why would he want that? 2008! It’s probably got a cassette player.
Rich: Grey? Yeah, that’s definitely a minus, isn’t it?
Rowan: It’s too old and it’d break down. It’s cheap because it’s not very good.
Jack: It’s cheap because it’s a bargain. It’s a sensible price and a sensible car. I think you should call up about that one.
Rowan: But, after you’ve taken the Mazda for a spin, right?
Rich: Too right.
Jack: Before the roleplay, we asked you two questions.
Rowan: The first question was: What type of car did I want Rich to buy? Well, I wanted him to buy a fast, flash sports car.
Rich: And the second question was: What type of car did Jack want me to buy?
Jack: I wanted him to buy a more practical car that had more space and was reliable and not too expensive. I think he’ll probably go for that option.
Rich: You’re probably right. I’m so boring.
Rowan: OK, let’s look at some language. In the roleplay, we were talking about the good things and the bad things about two different cars. We were talking about the advantages and disadvantages of the cars.
Jack: If you ever need to do an English speaking exam you often need to speak about the advantages and disadvantages of something.
Rich: And it gets very boring and repetitive if you keep saying another advantage is this or another disadvantage is this.
Rowan: So, we want to tell you some other words and phrases you can use instead. We used quite a few in the roleplay.
Jack: Let’s start with words and phrases we can use to talk about advantages. In the roleplay, Rowan said one advantage is that Rich would get to work quicker in a faster car.
Rich: We only used the word advantage once in the roleplay, because as I said it can get repetitive if you use the same words all the time.
Rowan: Some words that can be used to replace advantage include benefit, positive, plus and upside.
Jack: In the roleplay, Rowan said I think the main benefit is that you’d look great in a Mazda MX-5.
Rich: Rowan also said, one plus is that you won’t have to drive around in that heap of junk any more.
Rowan: And I told Rich I can only see upsides to getting a sports car.
Jack: All these words can be used to replace advantage in a sentence. We might also use phrases such as on the positive side, on the plus side to talk about advantages.
Rowan: We often use these phrases to make a contrast with a negative thing we’ve been speaking about. Here’s an example:
Rich: I know the sports car doesn’t have space for my family, it is super expensive and really bad for the environment but on the plus side I will look so cool.
Jack: We might use short phrases with the word point in a similar way. We can say things like one good point is or another positive point is.
Rowan: Let’s have a look at some of the words and phrases we can use when we talk about the disadvantages.
Rich: Some words that can be used to replace disadvantage include drawback, negative, minus and downside.
Jack: These words can be used to replace the word disadvantage to stop us from sounding repetitive. We used some of these words in the roleplay.
Rowan: Jack told Rich that one drawback to having a convertible is the weather in the UK. It’s always raining.
Rich: But I said that getting a grey car was definitely a minus for me.
Jack: I told Rich that another negative was breathing in all that pollution when he’s in a traffic jam.
Rowan: He also told Rich that the downside of getting a new car was that he has to pay a lot of money for it.
Rich: All these words can be used to replace disadvantage in a sentence. We might also use phrases such as on the negative side, on the minus side to talk about the disadvantages.
Rowan: We often use these phrases to make a contrast with a positive thing we’ve been speaking about. Here’s an example:
Jack: The Mondeo is a bargain. It’s cheap, it’s reliable and it has lots of space. On the minus side, it’s grey but I’m sure you can live with that.
Rich: So there are some words and phrases you can use to replace the words advantage and disadvantage when you are speaking.
Rowan: Before we finish the language focus let’s have a look at a couple of other phrases we used in the roleplay connected to advantages and disadvantages.
Jack: The first is to weigh up the pros and cons. In the roleplay, Rich said he had to weigh up the pros and cons of the two cars he was looking at.
Rich: To weigh something up is a phrasal verb which means to think about the good and bad things about something so you can make a decision.
Jack: We can weigh up the pros and cons of something, we can weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of something or we can weigh up the positives and negatives of something.
Rowan: A nice idiom we used in the roleplay is to tick all the boxes. In the roleplay, Jack said that the Ford Mondeo ticks all the boxes.
Rich: To tick all the boxes means to have or do all the right things to make someone happy.
Jack: I thought that the Mondeo was the perfect car for Rich. It ticks all the right boxes.
Rich: Your task this week is to listen to three different situations where someone has a decision to make.
Rowan: We want you to tell us the advantages and disadvantages in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website. Here’s situation one:
Rich: Guys. You know that Liverpool are going to win the Premier League very soon.
Rowan: No, I never knew! You’ve not mentioned it!
Rich: OK, I know maybe I’ve talked about it a bit too much. Well, me and a few other Liverpool fans have been thinking how to celebrate.
Jack: A few drinks?
Rich: Yeah, that’s what I thought but someone came up with the idea of us all getting a tattoo this weekend.
Rowan: Liverpool haven’t won it yet.
Rich: I know - there are good and bad reasons to do it. I’m really not sure ...
Jack: What are the advantages and disadvantages of Rich and his friends all getting a tattoo to celebrate Liverpool’s nearly certain Premier League title win? Let’s hear situation two:
Rowan: You’ve been offered how many jobs?
Jack: Three. They’re like buses - you wait ages for one and then three come at the same time.
Rich: And you don’t know which one to take?
Jack: No they’ve all got plusses and minuses.
Rowan: What are the jobs again?
Jack: The first is a computer programmer. I can work from home. The money is OK.
Rich: Working from home would be good.
Jack: Then there’s this job at Arsenal football club working as an English teacher. I’d love to do it but it’s part-time so the money isn’t so good.
Rowan: And the third. Well. it’s working in an office - it looks really boring but the money is fantastic!
Rich: Which job should Jack take? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? Let’s hear scenario three:
Jack: How’s the house-hunting going, Rowan?
Rowan: Good - I’ve seen loads of places. Houses and flats.
Rich: It’s exciting moving to a new place.
Rowan: And terrifying. A job in Paris is what I’ve always dreamed of but now that it feels so real …
Jack: You’ll be fine and the family will love it.
Rowan: I want to live in the centre of Paris but you know I could only afford a small place. We’re also thinking of a house outside the city but then I’d have to commute.
Rich: Where should Rowan and her family live? In the centre of Paris or outside of Paris in the countryside? What are the advantages and disadvantages of living in the city and the countryside?
Jack: Write all your answers in the comments section on the Premier Skills English website and try to use some of the modals of deduction we’ve introduced in this podcast.
Rowan: or write your answers in the review section on Apple Podcasts if that’s where you listen to us.
Jack: Our final section as always is our football phrase. It’s your turn this week, Rich.
Rich: And here it is. This week’s football phrase is not a phrase but an acronym. An acronym is a word that is created by the first letters of a name of something or of a short phrase. An example is WHO which stands for the World Health Organisation or another could BTW which stands for by the way.
Rowan: OK so this week’s football phrase is a football acronym.
Rich: Yes, this week’s football acronym is **** which is used to describe players that are the best ever. Maybe I could use this acronym to describe Alan Shearer or Thierry Henry in the Premier League but maybe most people would choose Pele, Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi.
Jack: The acronym also spells out the word of a farm animal.
Rowan: Pele is the SHEEP!
Rich: Not correct, Rowan. Let’s see who can get it right? Before we leave you we also need to tell you last week’s football phrase. The answer was a fifty-fifty.
Jack: Right, that’s all we have time for this week! Don’t forget to write your answers to our questions and make a guess at our football phrase in the comments below. If you get it right, we’ll announce your name on next week’s show.
Rowan: If you have any questions or comments or suggestions for the podcast or anything football or English related, you can leave them on the website in the comments section, on social media, on apple podcasts or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rich: Bye for now and enjoy your football!
How much did you understand?
Here is the vocabulary you saw at the top of this page and how Rowan, Rich and Jack used it in the roleplay. Do you know the words in bold?
I broke down on the motorway last night.
Thanks for coming to pick me up.
The car just got slower and slower. I had to pull over to the side and stop on the hard shoulder.
I had to get towed to the garage.
It’s basically a write-off. It’s going to cost more to fix than it’s worth.
Well, one plus is that you won’t have to drive around in that heap of junk any more.
A Mazda MX-5. A two-seater convertible. A sports car. This is a bit of a radical change from your old hatchback.
Listen to the roleplay again to hear how Rich, Rowan and Jack used these words and phrases.
In the roleplay, Jack and Rowan had very different ideas about the car that Rich should buy. Rowan wanted Rich to buy a sports car and Jack wanted Rich to buy a family car. During the roleplay, they spoke about the advantages of the car they thought Rich should buy. When we are talking about advantages there are lots of different words and phrases we can use. Have a look at the following sentences that we used in the roleplay and think about the phrases in bold:
One advantage is that you’d get to work quicker in the sports car.
I think the main benefit is that you’d look great in a Mazda MX-5.
One plus is that you won’t have to drive around in that heap of junk any more.
I can only see upsides to getting a sports car.
Having space for your family is a positive!
All the words in bold mean the same (advantage). It's a good idea, especially if you need to talk about advantages and disadvantages in a speaking English exam, to try to use a variety of synonyms in your speaking to avoid sounding repetitive.
Jack and Rowan also spoke about eh disadvantages of the car that they thought Rich shouldn't buy. As with advantages, there are lots of different words and phrases we can use to speak about disadvantages. Have a look at the following sentences that we used in the roleplay and think about the phrases in bold:
The petrol will cost a fortune and another disadvantage is that sports cars are not reliable at all.
One drawback to having a convertible in the UK is the weather. It’s always raining.
Getting a grey car is definitely a minus for me.
Another negative is breathing in all that pollution when I'm in a traffic jam.
The downside of getting a new car is that you have to pay a lot of money for it.
All the words in bold mean the same (disadvantage). It's a good idea, especially if you need to talk about advantages and disadvantages in a speaking English exam, to try to use a variety of synonyms in your speaking to avoid sounding repetitive.
Advantages & Disadvantages
In this week’s task, you need to tell us the advantages and disadvantages of the three situations Rowan, Rich and Jack gave you in the podcast.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Rich and his friends all getting a tattoo to celebrate Liverpool’s nearly certain Premier League title win?
Which job should Jack take? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each?
Where should Rowan and her family live? What are the pros and cons of living in the city and the countryside?
Try to use some of the words and phrases we’ve introduced in this podcast. Write all your answers in the comments section below and don't forget to make a guess at this week's football phrase!