English For Taxi Drivers – This is a mystery story that your students will love. It comes complete with a complete lesson plan with lots of reading and comprehension questions. You can download the full lesson plan below.
It is strange. Where do other taxi drivers usually go? Or where do you want to go?
English For Taxi Drivers
Sam laid his head back and closed his eyes for a second. He couldn’t wait to go home and sleep. These long days were killing him.
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In front, a dark figure, his two large hands on a wheel. A ball fell on his eye.
Sam’s eyes flashed to the back of the driver’s head. She could just make out the collar of the man’s coat pulled from his neck. The hat fell over his ears. He could not see a single feature of the man before him.
Sam grabbed her bag and pulled the door handle. But the door didn’t open. He turned the handle a few times, but the door was locked.
Sam takes out his phone and wipes the screen. Nothing. He slipped again. He tapped on the screen. Probably from the juice. He could have sworn earlier he had batteries. He swiped again, but nothing.
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Sam looked out the side window. Opposite, a row of shops, all closed. He turned and watched the street disappear into the darkness.
“Look, I’m sorry, but I don’t know what this is about. If you want my money, I have some in my wallet. You can get it and…”
Sam looked ahead. From the front window of the taxi he could make out the deserted street. The lights on either side provide a cone-shaped illumination of the pavement.
He turned, panic in his veins, and jabbed at the doorknob. He tugged at it several times until it was in his hand.
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Sam slumped into the back seat, his breath coming out in short bursts. She wiped the tears from her eyes and wiped the pinch of salt from her eyelids.
“I have to go home,” Sam said. “I have to go home and sleep. I worked all day and I’m tired. I have to go home.’
“This is where you want to go,” says the manager. “But think. Think carefully. Where to go? he asked.
“None. Think about it. Think seriously now. Where to go tonight? What’s one place you must visit?” he asked.
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He thought about it and couldn’t think of a possible answer. He should have been at home. It was where it should have been.
He didn’t get tired. He was very tired. He had to go into his apartment, shower, have a cup of hot tea and then bed.
Sam glanced up at the rearview mirror. It can only make the driver’s eye. Steel gray with no emotion in them.
Sam looked outside. Cold, gray windows he passed a thousand times on his way to the office. It’s Windows you can’t see again.
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There may be a lot of new or unfamiliar vocabulary in the story. This is a good time to learn new and unusual words and phrases.
Write all the new words and phrases in your vocabulary notebook. Look up the meaning of new vocabulary in a dictionary or online and write the meaning next to the word or phrase.
If you do it right, it will help you learn many new words and phrases. It will build your English vocabulary, write down all the words and phrases, and write sentences for yourself, all to help you remember this new vocabulary.
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At the end of the story, Sam whispers his address to the driver. Where do you think they went?
Think about where you want to go in your life. Think of three places you should visit. Tell the class about these places and why they should go there.
Are people so busy in their lives that they only think about their immediate desires in life?
Can you help someone you know with what they need in life? Can they help you? Why/why not?
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Divide into three or four students. Work together to think of possible conclusions for the story.
Since 1961, Alec Curtis has watched the city change from behind the wheel of a black cab. This is his London story
I was born and raised in East London. I have lived here all my life, except for the war, when we were disbanded 30 miles from the city. I started driving a taxi for the first time in May 1961 after I got tired of working in a women’s clothing factory. I never thought I wanted to become a taxi driver, but many of my friends started doing “my knowledge”, so I did too.
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I was 30 at the time, which was quite late to be a taxi driver. I went out on my bicycle and learned the streets and suburbs of London by map. It is not easy, but at the time it only took about a year to learn, but now it takes four to five years – the city has developed so much.
Finally I got the badge and license. The lower your token number, the longer you will drive in London. My token number is 511. When you get your token, your number will be around 70,000 or 80,000 – and it’s going to go up.
London has changed a lot in my 58 years as a taxi driver. There are now more freeways, everywhere is busier than ever, and there are many one-way systems. If you don’t know where you’re going in central London right now, you’ll forget it – you’ll just be walking around in circles. But Blackberry drivers can save you a lot of trouble.
Having driven around London for 58 years, I’ve certainly had a few famous people in my car (although I’d say everyone is famous if they pay). I have Judi Dench, David Williams and the poet John Bettjeman. I once gave Michael Flatley a lift on our wedding anniversary: he gave me £50 and told my wife to go out for a nice meal.
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As a taxi driver, I have always helped my customers. A few years ago a lady asked me to help her carry a bottle of water up the stairs. “Did you know I’m 75 years old?” he asked me. I asked, “Then you have to be the one to help me: I’m 85!” I answered.
No luck with taxi driving, but that’s life – although I’ve noticed a big difference since Uber came to London. You can sit in hotels for hours and suddenly someone comes out with their phone, gets in the car and they leave. It certainly affected business.
I always work hard. I had a heart bypass in 1984, but that didn’t stop me driving: I had an annual medical to make sure I was safe on the road. But then a few months ago I treated a seriously ill patient with double pneumonia. Of course, at 89, I should have packed it.
Although I didn’t decide to become a taxi driver, I don’t regret it. I liked the freedom: even if you always work for someone else, you are an individual. Everyone pays their own taxes and insurance, and if you can’t get a job, you don’t get anything from the government. You can make yourself happy about where to go and when to work. Of course I love to talk!
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