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December 3, 2009

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London Subway Passengers Stressed Out

A survey on London’s subway train system has found over 80 per cent of passengers are stressed. The report is called ‘Too close for comfort: Passengers' experiences of the London Underground’. It was made by a London transport committee, who questioned more than 700 commuters. The findings paint an ugly picture of the famous railway system. The situation is so bad that the majority of travellers had to “psyche” themselves up before getting on a Tube train. People had to prepare mentally for their rail journey. Overcrowding was the biggest cause of discomfort. Over half of those questioned said they couldn’t get on the first train to arrive at a station because it was too full. Others said they hated being squashed against strangers.


The London Underground carries more than 1 billion passengers a year. At the busiest times, there are four people per square metre packed onto the train. This has an impact on travellers’ behaviour. The report notes that the “overwhelming majority of passengers” think overcrowding is “a highly unpleasant and abnormal situation”. The committee listed a number of strategies people use to cope with travelling on the Tube. These include adopting a “dog-eat-dog” or “survival of the fittest” attitude, ignoring pregnant women who want to sit down, and switching off to what’s happening around them. One passenger said: “I’m a different animal on the Tube to normal life. I’m not me. I’m a bit less interested in others.”


 
 

WARM-UPS

1. SUBWAYS: Walk around the class and talk to other students about subways. Change partners often. Sit with your first partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

surveys / passengers / stressed / ugly pictures / prepare mentally / discomfort / packed / travellers’ behaviour / coping strategies / survival of the fittest / animals

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. STRESSED: What stresses you about travelling? Complete this table. Talk about what you wrote to your partner(s). Change partners and share what you heard.

Transport

Stresses

How to cope

Subway

 

 

Airplane

 

 

Car

 

 

Bus

 

 

Train

 

 

Boat

 

 

4. BEHAVIOUR: Students A strongly believe subways are a horrible way to travel; Students B strongly believe subways are the best way to travel.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. DISCOMFORT: What do you hate about trains? Rate these and share your ratings with your partner: 10 = hate, hate, hate; 1 = no problem. Change partners and share your ratings again.

  • being squashed next to someone
  • not having a seat
  • delays
  • people listening to music
  • people using mobiles
  • graffiti
  • couples kissing
  • badly-behaved children

6. TRAIN: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘train’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if  a-h  below are true (T) or false (F).

a.

Around four-fifths of London subway passengers are stressed out.

T / F

b.

There was a survey of 7,000 London Underground users.

T / F

c.

Most people surveyed hated the ugly pictures in the subway trains.

T / F

d.

More than 50% of people have to get on the second train to arrive.

T / F

e.

The London Underground has over a billion passengers a year.

T / F

f.

There is a daily average of four people per square metre on the trains.

T / F

g.

One passenger reported seeing a dog eat another dog on the train.

T / F

h.

Another passenger reported being interested in others on the train.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

1.

survey

a.

transports

2

questioned

b.

unusual

3.

majority

c.

crushed

4.

discomfort

d.

effect

5.

squashed

e.

questionnaire

6.

carries

f.

zoning out

7.

impact

g.

bulk

8.

abnormal

h.

irritation

9.

cope

i.

surveyed

10.

switching off

j.

manage

3. PHRASE MATCH:  (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

1.

Too close

a.

themselves up

2

The findings paint

b.

square metre

3.

travellers had to “psyche”

c.

against strangers

4.

Overcrowding was the biggest cause

d.

to cope

5.

being squashed

e.

majority of passengers

6.

four people per

f.

for comfort

7.

the overwhelming

g.

the fittest

8.

strategies people use

h.

of discomfort

9.

survival of

i.

happening around them

10.

switching off to what’s

j.

an ugly picture

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

A survey on London’s subway train system has ____________ over 80 per cent of passengers are stressed. The report is called ‘Too close for ____________: Passengers' experiences of the London Underground’. It was made by a London transport committee who questioned more than 700 ____________. The findings paint an ____________ picture of the famous railway system. The situation is so bad that the ____________ of travellers had to “psyche” themselves up before getting on a Tube train. People had to prepare ____________ for their rail journey. Overcrowding was the biggest ____________ of discomfort. Over half of those questioned said they couldn’t get on the first train to arrive at a station because it was too full. Others said they hated being ____________ against strangers.

 

 

 

ugly
squashed
found
commuters
mentally
comfort
majority
cause

The London Underground ____________ more than 1 billion passengers a year. At the busiest times, there are four people per square metre ____________ onto the train. This has an ____________ on travellers’ behaviour. The report notes that the “overwhelming majority of passengers” think overcrowding is “a ____________ unpleasant and abnormal situation”. The committee listed a number of strategies people use to ____________ with travelling on the Tube. These include adopting a “dog-eat-dog” or “survival-of-the-____________” attitude, ignoring pregnant women who want to sit down, and ____________ off to what’s happening around them. One passenger said: “I’m a different ____________ on the Tube to normal life. I’m not me. I’m a bit less interested in others.”

 

 

highly
switching
packed
fittest
carries
impact
animal
cope

LISTENING – Listen and fill in the gaps

A survey on London’s subway train system ________________ 80 per cent of passengers are stressed. The report is called ‘Too close for comfort: Passengers' experiences of the London Underground’. ________________ London transport committee, who questioned more than 700 commuters. The findings ________________ picture of the famous railway system. The situation is so bad that the majority of travellers ________________ themselves up before getting on a Tube train. People had to prepare mentally for their rail journey. Overcrowding was the ________________ discomfort. Over half of those questioned said they couldn’t get on the first train to arrive at a station because it was too full. Others said they hated ____________________ strangers.

The London Underground carries more than 1 billion passengers a year. At the busiest times, there are four people ________________ packed onto the train. This has an impact on travellers’ behaviour. The ________________ the “overwhelming majority of passengers” think overcrowding is “a highly unpleasant and abnormal situation”. The committee listed a number of strategies people ________________ travelling on the Tube. These include adopting a “dog-eat-dog” or “survival-________________” attitude, ignoring pregnant women who want to sit down, and ________________ what’s happening around them. One passenger said: “I’m a different animal on the Tube to normal life. I’m not me. ________________ interested in others.”


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘rail’ and ‘journey’.

rail

journey

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • 80
  • close
  • paint
  • majority
  • cause
  • hated
  • carries
  • packed
  • highly
  • cope
  • dog
  • animal

STUDENT SUBWAY SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about subways in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

SUBWAYS DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘subway’?

c)

What do you like and dislike subways?

d)

What stresses you out most about travelling?

e)

What does “too close for comfort” mean?

f)

What’s your image of London’s Underground system?

g)

Do you ever have to prepare mentally for something?

h)

When was the last time you were somewhere that was overcrowded? How did it make you feel?

i)

What should London Underground do to make passengers feel better?

j)

What things do you have to psyche yourself up for?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

What’s your worst experience of travelling?

c)

Does your behaviour change when you travel on packed trains?

d)

What’s the most highly unpleasant experience you’ve had on public transport?

e)

What do you do to cope with travelling?

f)

What do people do in dog-eat-dog situations?

g)

What do you understand by the term “survival of the fittest”?

h)

Do you always offer your seat to pregnant women?

i)

What do you do to switch off from what’s going on around you?

j)

What questions would you like to ask the boss of London Underground?

LANGUAGE – MULTIPLE CHOICE

A survey (1) ____ London’s subway train system has found over 80 per cent of passengers are stressed. The report is called ‘Too close for (2) ____: Passengers' experiences of the London Underground’. It was made by a London transport committee, who questioned more than 700 (3) ____. The findings paint an ugly picture of the famous railway system. The situation is so bad that the majority of travellers had to “psyche” (4) ____ up before getting on a Tube train. People had to prepare (5) ____ for their rail journey. Overcrowding was the biggest cause of discomfort. Over half of those questioned said they couldn’t get on the first train to arrive at a station because it was too full. Others said they hated being (6) ____ against strangers.

The London Underground carries more than 1 billion passengers a year. At the busiest times, there are four people (7) ____ square metre packed onto the train. This has an impact (8) ____ travellers’ behaviour. The report notes that the “overwhelming majority of passengers” think overcrowding is “a (9) ____ unpleasant and abnormal situation”. The committee listed a number of strategies people use to (10) ____ with travelling on the Tube. These include adopting a “dog-eat-(11) ____” or “survival-of-the-fittest” attitude, ignoring pregnant women who want to sit down, and switching off to what’s happening around them. One passenger said: “I’m a different animal on the Tube to normal life. I’m not me. I’m a (12) ____ less interested in others.”

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

in

(b)

up

(c)

at

(d)

on

2.

(a)

comfortable

(b)

comfort

(c)

comforted

(d)

comforts

3.

(a)

commuters

(b)

commuting

(c)

computers

(d)

computing

4.

(a)

himself

(b)

them

(c)

themselves

(d)

they

5.

(a)

mental

(b)

mentality

(c)

mentally

(d)

mental age

6.

(a)

squatted

(b)

squashed

(c)

swatted

(d)

squared

7.

(a)

per

(b)

par

(c)

purr

(d)

pore

8.

(a)

in

(b)

at

(c)

of

(d)

on

9.

(a)

heighten

(b)

highly

(c)

highs

(d)

higher

10.

(a)

rope

(b)

hope

(c)

nope

(d)

cope

11.

(a)

cat

(b)

wolf

(c)

dog

(d)

lion

12.

(a)

bit

(b)

bite

(c)

byte

(d)

bitten

WRITING

Write about subways for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about the London Underground. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. SUBWAYS: Make a poster about different subways around the world. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. STRESS: Write a magazine article about subway travel. Include imaginary interviews with one person who loves subways and another who hates it.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to the boss of the London Underground. Ask him/her three questions about the rail network. Give him/her three ideas on how to improve things for passengers. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

T

b.

F

c.

F

d.

T

e.

T

f.

F

g.

F

h.

F

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

survey

a.

questionnaire

2

questioned

b.

surveyed

3.

majority

c.

bulk

4.

discomfort

d.

irritation

5.

squashed

e.

crushed

6.

carries

f.

transports

7.

impact

g.

effect

8.

abnormal

h.

unusual

9.

cope

i.

manage

10.

switching off

j.

zoning out

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

Too close

a.

for comfort

2

The findings paint

b.

an ugly picture

3.

travellers had to “psyche”

c.

themselves up

4.

Overcrowding was the biggest cause

d.

of discomfort

5.

being squashed

e.

against strangers

6.

four people per

f.

square metre

7.

the overwhelming

g.

majority of passengers

8.

strategies people use

h.

to cope

9.

survival of

i.

the fittest

10.

switching off to what’s

j.

happening around them

GAP FILL:

London subway passengers stressed out

A survey on London’s subway train system has found over 80 per cent of passengers are stressed. The report is called ‘Too close for comfort: Passengers' experiences of the London Underground’. It was made by a London transport committee who questioned more than 700 commuters. The findings paint an ugly picture of the famous railway system. The situation is so bad that the majority of travellers had to “psyche” themselves up before getting on a Tube train. People had to prepare mentally for their rail journey. Overcrowding was the biggest cause of discomfort. Over half of those questioned said they couldn’t get on the first train to arrive at a station because it was too full. Others said they hated being squashed against strangers.

The London Underground carries more than 1 billion passengers a year. At the busiest times, there are four people per square metre packed onto the train. This has an impact on travellers’ behaviour. The report notes that the “overwhelming majority of passengers” think overcrowding is “a highly unpleasant and abnormal situation”. The committee listed a number of strategies people use to cope with travelling on the Tube. These include adopting a “dog-eat-dog” or “survival-of-the-fittest” attitude, ignoring pregnant women who want to sit down, and switching off to what’s happening around them. One passenger said: “I’m a different animal on the Tube to normal life. I’m not me. I’m a bit less interested in others.”

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - d

2 - b

3 - a

4 - c

5 - c

6 - b

7 - a

8 - d

9 - b

10 - d

11 - c

12 - a

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