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Session 3

In this Session, we meet a London taxi driver called Rick. He talks about his job using lots of examples of would and used to. Then you have a chance to tell us something that changed in your life

Sessions in this unit

Session 3 score

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    Activity 1
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    Activity 2

Activity 1

The Knowledge

I used to know every street...

In Session 1, we read about a London taxi driver, or a London 'cabbie', as they're sometimes known in the UK. Rick is proud of his job, and rightly so - cabbies have to pass a gruelling test called the Knowledge in order to get an official licence. But sadly, Rick had a serious accident a few years ago.

What happened to him? Listen to Finn chatting to Rick.

The conversation uses many examples of would and used to to talk about the past.

Listen to the audio and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

So Rick, we're looking at a big map of London.

Look at it, it's a huge map. Yeah, 25,000 streets.

25,000, really?

And I think, hang on, that's 320 routes to learn, 20,000 landmarks... I knew them all...

Rick, you're talking about the Knowledge, aren't you? Can you tell us what that is?

The Knowledge, yes. All London cabbies have to pass it, you see. It's a test - you have to learn all the streets in a five mile radius from Charing Cross. I used to know all of them, all the fastest routes, all the one-way systems. Mind you, it did take me three years to learn.

Rick, that's incredible... What happened?

Well, that was up until my accident. A cyclist appeared right in front of me, and I swerved, you know? But I swerved into a lamppost - and I was out cold. When I woke up I couldn't remember a thing... nothing! Not even the way home.

That's terrible, Rick. Let's go back to your job before the accident. Describe the life of a cabbie.

Well, what can I say? I mean, it's the best job in the world. It really is. I would get up when I wanted, I used to get up around 9 or 10, then I'd get into the cab and just see what the day brought, really. I was my own boss.

When would you finish, normally?

Well I wouldn't stop until midnight or even later than that, you know? When the pubs closed. I used to have so much energy.

Didn't you use to get tired of driving drunk people home?

No, not at all. That was the best bit. I used to hear all their gossip. I even got a marriage proposal! Swedish, you know, gorgeous... but I am a married man...

So Rick. After the accident, tell us, what happened?

Well, there's not much to say really because I forgot everything. All those street names. Gone. But you know what? I just can't stand the idea of satnav. So, I'm doing the Knowledge, again!

To do

So Rick lost his memory in a car crash and is starting to learn the Knowledge all over again. Now, try to answer these questions.

Rick's story

5 Questions

How much did you understand? Try this quiz about Finn and Rick's conversation

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So Rick isn't giving up - he wants to learn the Knowledge again. What about you? Is there something you used to know how to do, but forgot? Next, it's your chance to tell us.

Session Grammar

  • Used to and would are used to talk about things that happened in the past. Both can be used to talk about past habits, but only used to can be used to talk about pasts states or situations.

    Would - Habit (can't be used for state)

    • When I had free time, I would practise guitar.
    • Since we were always in a hurry, we wouldn’t stop for tea on Fridays.
    • Would you often stay for lunch?

    Used to - Habit

    • Isabel used to sing in a band.
    • Pablo didn’t use to drive to work.
    • Did John use to study with you?

    Used to - State

    • Bob used to be much shorter.
    • I didn’t use to like art.
    • Did Wayne use to belong to the debate team?

    Didn’t Margaret use to hate flying?

Session Vocabulary

  • cabbie
    taxi driver

    very difficult and tiring

    ways between two places

    well known, easily recognised places

    distance from a central place

    one-way systems
    roads where cars can only drive in one direction

    turned suddenly

    out cold
    not awake usually because of a head injury; unconscious

    stories about people's private lives

    satellite navigation; a system used in cars and vehicles that tell you where you are