Tag Archives: Vancouver

Secret Bus Shortcuts

Recently, I’ve been teaching a group of students who have just arrived in Vancouver. They want to see our city, but they don’t know much about where the buses go. Here’s a little breakdown of bus numbers and what they mean.

Routes 1-100 all travel in Vancouver city.
Routes 101 – 149 (&155) all travel in Burnaby or New Westminster.
Routes 150 – 199 (except 155) all travel in Coquitlam, Port Moody, or Port Coquitlam.
Routes 200 – 249 all travel in North Vancouver.
Routes 250 – 299 all travel in West Vancouver.
Routes 300 – 399 all travel in Surrey, North Delta, or White Rock.
Routes 400 – 490 all travel in Richmond.
Routes 500 – 599 all travel in Langley.
Routes 600 – 699 all travel in South Delta.
Routes 700 – 799 all travel in Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.
Routes 800 – 899 are for high school students only.

Routes starting with a C, like C5, use minibuses and have very short routes. They are also called “Community Shuttles.”

Routes starting with an N, like N9, are late-night buses. They run from 1:30am to 4:00am.

Some Vancouver routes, like 4, 9, 41, and 49, travel mostly on their avenues: 49 UBC goes on 49th Avenue, for example.

Happy traveling, and I hope you find your way around Vancouver easily!

Trip and Travel Woes

Trip and Travel

These words, when used to describe journeys or voyages, are basically synonyms, but there are some differences in their connotations and grammar.

Trip is a count noun, and it is also a verb meaning “to fall over.”  A trip could be a short or long distance, and it could take a short or long time. We use it to talk about the whole voyage or journey. We usually use it with the verbs plan, take, or go on.

  • I planned a trip to Egypt to see the pyramids. (emphasizing the whole time away or the complete voyage)
  • I took many trips in Vancouver: I went to Whistler, Deep Cove, and Stanley Park. (emphasizing the number of adventures)
  • She went on a trip last week, so she wasn’t in school.

Travel is usually a non-count noun and a verb with a similar meaning. In contrast, however, it is always a long time and a long distance.

  • Last year, I traveled to 6 countries.
  • My travel took three months.

If we use it to describe a short journey, we are comparing it to a long journey. This might be a joke, or to show how unhappy we are with it.

  • I have to travel to Kitsilano every day from Granville Street. I hate my homestay!
  • Please bring me the remote control. I am sick, and I don’t want to travel to the other sofa to get it.

Funny English!

There are two joke types that came up in conversations at work today: “Knock knock” jokes and “Roses are red…” jokes. These both have a specific format, so let’s learn how to be funny in English!

Knock knock jokes need two people to participate.

Person A: Knock knock!

Person B:Who’s there?

Person A: [name]

Person B: [name] who?

Person A: [joke with name!]

Person A: Knock knock?

Person B: Who’s there?

Person A: Isabel.

Person B: Isabel who?

Person A: Isabel necessary on a bicycle? (Is a bell necessary on a bicycle?)

The best knock-knock jokes have a pun (a joke made from the sound of a word, not the meaning) that involves the name.

“Roses are Red” jokes are based upon a poem structure. The first two lines are always the same:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

After this, you add two more lines about something funny. The rhythm and the rhyme should match the first two lines.

I’m learning English,

And so are you!

We put the joke together like this:

Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

I’m learning English,

And so are you!

Most Canadians will be familiar with these kinds of jokes. Ask your homestay family or your Canadian friends to tell you some and post them here!

Confusing Words: Late and Lately

“Late” is not the same as “lately.”

Late is the opposite of early. They are both adjectives, and must modify nouns.

  • “James will be late today. He will arrive after the meeting begins.”

Lately means recently, or close to now. Lately is an adverb.

  • “I’ve taken a lot of classes in English lately.”

Lately can also move around in the sentence, like other adverbs:

  • “Lately, I’ve taken a lot of English classes.”

Memorable Moments

I had an interesting conversation yesterday about former students, why I teach, and my classes. It brought to mind so many situations, people, and feelings, but two former students really stand out.

The first is a participant in our internship program. He had come from a successful business background – completed an MBA, started and sold companies before coming to Canada – and was looking to start an international career. He had a 45 minute interview with 7 directors at a sports team, and he said it was the hardest thing he had done for school. He was accepted, and had a fantastic time with the team. I like this story because it shows accepting challenges and striving to improve oneself. My student could have stayed at home and started another company, but he chose to take on the challenge of working in English. And not at a restaurant from his country, either! Being part of his success makes me proud to teach.

My second memorable student came from a successful job as a professor, teaching surgical techniques, in a large country. He realized that his lifestyle was not one that his children could achieve, because the population was increasing rapidly and jobs would become scarce, so he moved his family to Canada. To support his family, he worked as a taxi driver. His English, he said, wasn’t strong enough to enter the medical field, and he didn’t have time to improve it. When I met him, this was 10 years in the past. His children were in high school and his wife was able to work. His wife and children were fluent, but his English was still very basic. Twelve hours a day driving a taxi doesn’t leave much time for English classes. He told me “My children don’t speak my language, and I don’t speak theirs. We can’t speak as anything more than a taxi driver and a customer, but I want them to know more of me. They will never know the poems I can write in my language, but I can meet them in theirs.” His sacrifices for his family, and then his desire to change his life again,  really made him stand out to me. My satisfaction from seeing him pass his IELTS test is a reason I do this job.

I’m sure my colleagues have similar stories. What memorable students do you have?

Grammar Grab Bag

Progressive tenses are also called continuous tenses.

“Agree” is a verb, not an adjective. A common mistake is to say: “I am agree with you.” Just say “I agree with you.”

“Should” and “had better” are both modals used to give advice. “Had better” has a stronger meaning. “Must” is stronger than both of them, and is used for regulations, obligations, or requirements.

– James, you should park underground. (mild suggestion)

– James, you had better slow down. The road is very icy and we might have an accident! (strong suggestion)

– James, you must stop at the red light. (strong obligation or requirement)

Receptive and Productive Vocabulary

Your receptive vocabulary is made up of the words that you understand. Your productive vocabulary is made up of the words you use on a regular basis. For most people, their receptive vocabulary is much larger than their productive vocabulary.

Trying to learn vocab quickly? Start by using words that you recognize more often. Notice your favourite words, and make an effort to use synonyms instead.