Monday, November 18, 2013

Small car for city use

Photo copyright Lit Motors
Lit Motors has developed the C-1, a "fully-enclosed, all electric vehicle that is a motorcycle in all but name," according to an article on BBC News website (section Future). The article describes the vehicle as a "hi-tech, streamlined egg on two wheels."

Link to article:

My engineering students are always interested in innovations relating to cars, and this article presents not only interesting information about the innovation, but also different kinds of language work.

The information focuses on the advantages and disadvantages of this vehicle (which students can add to) and presents the pros and cons of the C-1 being classified as a motorcycle or not. In this description, there is a lot of language referring to size and comparison. For example:
  • most
  • twice as many
  • cut in half
  • less / more
  • fewer / more
  • very few
  • halving the length / width
  • much less so than
In addition, the description includes useful technical vocabulary for cars, and vocabulary useful for the text type of process description. This includes the kinds of examples I tell my students to use so that a non-engineer would understand the description. For example:
  • Imagine if you could cut the size of a car in half, ...
  • ... looks like a hi-tech, streamlined egg on two wheels.
  • A spinning disc has a tendency to stay upright, just like a child's spinning top.
  • If you were ever made to hold a spinning bicycle wheel horizontally at school then you will have experienced the physics at work.
Finally, there is a good variety of linking and transition words for students to notice, and examples of modals and "if" clauses.

The article refers to an earlier innovation - the Smart Fortwo - so I showed a picture of each vehicle and had students discuss the pros and cons of each (which would they rather drive and why; which would be more efficient on the road, etc.).

In general, my students found this topic very interesting, and the short, focused article was workable even for my lower-intermediate groups.

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