Episode 22: Compare and Contrast

Comparing and contrasting freight trains and passenger trains is the objective of this episode of Ramping Up your English.  We use a Venn Diagram to organize our information, and two video clips to help us remember the basic characteristics of these 2 forms of rail traffic.  Watch the entire program by clicking here.

California Zephyr during the Western Pacific part of the westward journey to San Francisco.

Viewing Episode 22

Watch the entire program by clicking here.

Watch by Short Segments

Click to view: Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Language Objectives

Use connecting words and phrasesBoth, they differ in that, whereas, and however to compare and contrast similar objects. Use a Venn Diagram to organize information for comparing and contrasting.

Academic Content Objectives

Transportation: Compare and contrast freight trans and passenger trains.

Bonus Video

An earlier episode had us on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train.  Here a bonus video of a Pacific Ocean setset from the Coast Starlight Northbound.  Enjoy! Click here.

You can watch the bonus video on archive.org by clicking here.


Compare and contrast two familiar objects, using some of the vocabulary in the lesson below. Examples could be cars and trucks; trains and airplanes; boats and ship; or any other things that have traits in common as well as differences.


In the lesson, we demonstrated how to organize information for the function of comparing and contrasting.  After watching a video clip on freight trains, we listed 3 things that are true about freight trains that are not true about passenger trains.  They were:

Freight trains carry people

Most freight trains don’t run at a scheduled time; instead they leave when their consist is complete.

Freight trains have small crews.

Then we listed things that are true about passenger trains that are not true about freight trains:

Passenger trains carry people

Passenger trains run on schedules

Passenger trains have large crews

After that, we listed three things that are true for both:

They both run on rails

They both are pulled by locomotives

They both are operated by skilled crews

We then began with the middle section to compare the 2 types of trains.  We used the word BOTH to show that we’re comparing the two….showing how they’re alike.

Both Freight trains and passenger trains run on rails.

Now we used the words: BUT THEY DIFFER IN THAT… to show the contrast.

They differ in that they carry different payloads

Now we used the word WHEREAS to put these thoughts together.

Both freight trains and passenger trains run on rail.  They differ in thatthey carry different payloads.  Freight trains carry things, whereaspassenger trains carry people.

We used some closely-related facts to compare and contrast, using information from our chart.

Both freight trains and passenger trains are operated by skilled crews, however they differ in the size of the crew.  Freight trains have small crews, whereas passenger trains have large crews.

We also used the word HOWEVER in the place of whereas..

Both freight trains and passenger trains are operated by skilled crews,however, while freight trains are run by small crews; passenger trains are operated by large crews.

Video Clips:  We used 2 video clips from which to draw our information about passenger trains and freight trains:

Cardinal Westbound 1 (an example of passenger trains, one in a long series of passenger trains).

<Note: To see Cardinal Westbound 1, watch Segment 1 of this episode.  See the link above.>

Freight Trains (a clip from an earlier episode, so we have information to organize.

Frieght Trains is also on archive.org. Click here to see the video without ads.

More on Bonus Video

Congratulations!  You’ve Earned a bonus video: Amtrak’s East bound Cardinal.  It contains all three eastbound clips, plus additional video footage, including scenes from Washington, D.C. Click here to see it on archive.org

Materials Used in This Episode

Here’s the chart we used to organize our data for comparing and contrasting freight trains and passenger trains.
We start with a fact about Freight Trains that’s not true about Passenger Trains. Freights Trains carry things (Freight or Cargo)
Here’s another fact about Freight trains that’s not true about Passenger Trains.
This completes the first step in Comparing and Contrasting Freight Trains and Passenger trains. We’re ready for the second step.
Now we start on facts about Passenger Trains that are not true about Freight Trains.
Passenger Trains carry people and most run on schedules
Now we have the information we need to contrast Freight Trains and Passenger Trains. We’re half-way finished organizing our data.
Now we start comparing. This is how they are alike. Both Freight Trains and Passenger Trains move on rails.
Both are pulled by locomotives
Both are operated by skilled crews. Now we’ve completed the Venn diagram. We’ll use this to write our sentences.

Next Episode

Some viewers have commented that I must have ridden on all of Amtrak’s trains.  Not true! However, I have taken all the trains linking the West Coast with the rest of the country.  I took the legendary Empire Builder to Chicago back before I owned a video camera.  Viewers still get to see what that journey is like plus test their listening skills with an interview about that train in Episode 23.