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brief; blunt; rude
international
confident
excellent
curt
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ESL Story: Driving lessons

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Driving lessons
Learning to teach
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The language of silence
The language of pessimism
The language of optimism
The language of relaxation
The language of work
The language of yes
The language of numbers
The language of army
Gerund or infinitive?
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A matter of degree
The Knoblauch-Garlic Story
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Knit
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"Confidence, competence and control. That's what they're really looking for." These were the words that were drummed into me with each driving lesson I took with my instructor, Jock... The three "C's" he called them. My throat was dry and there was a nasty sweat in the palms of my hands. There was a slight flutter in my knees too. And the reason for all this – I was taking my final lesson the evening before the driving test... The car seemed very impersonal that evening as I tried hard to remember all that Jock had told me during the course. It was as if it had decided to be as unhelpful as possible.

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All my friends had either passed or given up. I'd had endless tips of course. People who had got their driving licence would sit back and make smug comments like: "There's nothing to it really. Just drive carefully." "Well, I was lucky actually. I used to ride a motor bike." That wasn't very much encouragement and certainly didn't exactly boost my confidence. After all, you're so alone at the wheel. And then – "You're staying too long in third." I could hear Jock's voice nagging me.

That was the thing about Jock. He was friendly but he was very hot on any lapses. A lot of people never take lessons. They try to make you feel stupid because you have had to pay an arm and a leg for your lessons. They'd say things like: "I grew up with cars, you know. Driven since I was a kid." Well, I am an idiot as far as mechanical things are concerned. I imagined that driving a car was as straight-forward as steering a lawn mower between the flower beds. I'd mastered that when I was a child. Just imagine coming out with a remark like this: "Well, I was lucky actually I used to use a lawn mower." As a learner driver you're treated as an outcast by other drivers on the road mainly because you've got a large red-lettered 'L' stuck on the back and the front of your car. You gain a little confidence, however, by the fact that you can't actually see the L-plates yourself.

It was getting dark as we returned to the school of motoring. I relaxed in the knowledge that there was a good night's rest between now and the test. There was a policeman in front, doing things just like the friendly looking one in the Highway Code. "He's asking you to stop," whispered Jock, using the dual controls. Jock and I parted tensely, having arranged the time to meet for the next day. It was all right; I passed. Jock couldn't contain himself with joy. He'd been getting very edgy towards the last. Funny really, I mean I wasn't that bad. I suppose he was getting on a bit and showing his age... Still, all things considered, it was after all only my 10th attempt.

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Next:ESL Story: Learning to teach

Author: Alan Townend


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