Tortoises And Turtles


Interesting Facts in Easy English

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • turtle: a marine-dwelling (fresh or saltwater) hard-shelled reptile; used in some regions as a generic word for turtles, terrapins, and tortoises
  • tortoise: a land-dwelling reptile with a dome-shaped shell
  • streamlined: features a design that allows air or water to pass by easily
  • glide: to move smoothly without effort
  • bask: to relax in the warmth and light
  • limb: arm or leg

Tortoises And Turtles

Many people are the words tortoise and turtle. This is partly due to regional differences. In British English, turtles and tortoises are two different , egg-laying reptiles. The main difference is their habitat. Turtles live mainly in the water while tortoises live mainly on land. Turtles have a streamlined shell that is ideal for gliding in the water. Turtles also have feet. Tortoises, on the other hand, are not good swimmers. They have dome-shaped shells and sturdy limbs for walking and digging on land. Just as turtles leave the water to bask in the sun or in the mud, tortoises enter the water to clean themselves. Terrapins are tortoise-like turtles that live in the water and on land. To add to the , in some North American regions, the word turtle is used for all three of these reptiles, while in Australia some use the word tortoise for freshwater turtles and turtle for sea turtles.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What is a tortoise in British English?
  2. Why is there confusion with the words tortoise and turtle?
  3. What is a terrapin?

Discussion Questions: Do you agree that all tortoises are turtles, while not all turtles are tortoises? Why or why not?

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