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.


Comparing and Contracting freight trains and passenger trains
Awaiting a passenger train in Alaska


View by Segments:

Click to view: Segment 1

Segment 2

Segment 3

Language Objectives: Use connecting words and phrases Both, 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 Objective: 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.


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 that they carry different payloads.  Freight trains carry things, whereas passenger 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.


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.

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.

Materials Used in Program: Click image to enlarge; use back arrow to return to page.

RUE EP 22.001 Comparing and Contrasting Freight Train and Passenger Trains
Here’s the chart we used to organize our data for comparing and contrasting freight trains and passenger trains.
RUE EP 22.002
We began with Freight trains. This is the first of three characteristics we listed about freight trains.


RUE EP 22.003

RUE EP 22.004
This completes the first step in Comparing and Contrasting Freight Trains and Passenger trains. We’re ready for the second step.








RUE EP 22.005
Now we listed unique characteristics of passenger trains.








RUE EP 22.006

RUE EP 22.007
Now we have our information to contrast. We’re half-way through the process.



RUE EP 22.008

RUE EP 22.009
Now we began listing the characteristics that both types of trains have in common.


RUE EP 22.010
Now the Venn Diagram chart is complete. This is the information we used to compare and contrast freight trains and passenger trains.
RUE EP 22.011
This simple, four-letter word is crucial for comparing.
RUE EP 22.013
The word “whereas” indicates that objects are being contrasted. It transitions between comparing and contrasting.
RUE EP 22.012
These words begin the contrasting process.
RUE EP 22.014
Here’s an example of how we would communicate how Freight Trains and Passenger trains are alike and how they are different.
RUE EP 22.015
Here’s another compare/contrast communication. This one uses the third set of facts. It’s even more congruent because each fact relates to the train crews.







RUE EP 22.016
The word “however” is also a conjunction that can be used as a transition between comparing and contrasting.