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LESSON FORTY HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled Drone Worry, you will listen to a passage about why remote-controlled drones and airplanes have the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration worried. You will also learn about some of the practical ways in which drones are being used today. Listen carefully to the passage and then answer the questions that follow. It’s always a good idea to take notes as you listen, but remember: don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening.
Listen and Learn
Lesson Forty PASSAGE ONLY track:
The Alpine skier Marcel Hirsch was midway through his run at the World Cup Slalom Race in Italy when a camera-carrying drone plunged from the sky and crashed into the slope, just centimeters behind him. Footage shows Hirsch, who appears to be oblivious to his near miss, carrying on down the hill towards the finish line. Later, the rattled skier told the BBC, “This can never happen again. This can be a serious injury.” The incident prompted the International Ski Federation to immediately ban camera drones from all World Cup events. Drones, announced the federation, are “a bad thing for safety.”
The sporting world is not alone in its concern for drone safety. One 2015 report painted a disconcerting picture of how dangerous the skies can be when crisscrossed with both drones and manned aircraft. From December 2013 to September 2015, there were 327 “close encounters” in U.S. airspace in which drones put airplanes at risk. At least 241 of those incidents met the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) definition of a “near-collision”—two aircraft flying within 500 feet of each other. And about a third of those involved commercial jets carrying numerous passengers.
These disturbing statistics have forced the FAA to come up with new measures to ensure air traffic safety. Drone owners aged thirteen or over will now have to register their drones on the FAA website to make it easier for the administration to identify owners when a close encounter occurs. The FAA has also prohibited drones from flying higher than 400 feet and has stipulated that they cannot be flown within five miles of an airport. The requirements cover drones and remote-controlled airplanes that weigh more than half a pound. This means that most commercially sold “toy” drones would need to be registered, too.
Despite these sterner rules and tighter restrictions, drone flying is attracting an ever-larger number of hobbyists and enthusiasts. And with drones becoming increasingly affordable—some costing as little as $30—children, too, can easily get their hands on them. In the United States, an estimated 1.6 million small, unmanned aircraft were sold in 2015 alone. Of that total, more than half were purchased in the three months leading up to Christmas.
But drones, especially those equipped with cameras and payload carriers, aren’t just for fun and games: they are finding practical applications in fields of all kinds. The possibilities are endless. Already, drones are being deployed in emergency search-and-rescue operations, police surveillance, traffic control, TV and movie aerial photography, scientific and environmental research, and wildlife protection activities like spotting and capturing poachers. In the not-too-distant future, we can expect drones to deliver our mail, bring piping hot pizzas to our doorstep, and airlift us supplies during times of natural disaster. And like it or not, drones have a multitude of military uses as well.
While “drone spotting” is still something of a novelty, experts contend that it’s only a matter of time before drones become as commonplace as cars and mobile phones. This makes it all the more imperative that we raise drone safety awareness now, before the skies are swarming with them like a cloud of gnats.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn: Lesson Forty: LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions are of various types. Follow the instructions for each question. Feel free to pause and listen several times if needed.
1. Write a brief answer to this question.
What happened when Marcel Hirsch was halfway through his run at the World Cup Slalom Race in Italy?
2. Decide if this statement is true or false.
Hirsh was seriously injured when a drone crashed in front of him as he was skiing down the slope towards the finish line.
3. Choose the best answer to complete this sentence.
Following the incident at the World Cup Slalom Race, the International Ski Federation immediately banned __________________________________.
a) camera drones from all downhill skiing events
b) the use of camera drones at all ski resorts
c) camera drones from all World Cup skiing events
d) the use of camera drones at all international sporting events
4. Write a brief answer to this question.
What is the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of a “near-collision” between two aircraft?
5. Choose the true statement.
a) There were more than 300 close encounters between drones and manned aircraft between December 2014 and September 2015 that met the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of a “near collision.”
b) About a third of the close encounters between drones and manned aircraft that met the Federal Aviation Administration’s definition of a “near collision” involved commercial jets carrying passengers.
6. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
U.S. high school students who own drones or remote-controlled airplanes will have to register their aircraft with the FAA.
7. Reading between the lines. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.
Why most likely did the FAA prohibit drones from flying higher than 400 feet and stipulate that they must not be flown within five miles of an airport?
8. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
Toy drones that weigh under one pound do not need to be registered on the FAA website.
9. Complete this statement with the best answer.
Drones are being deployed for scientific and environmental research as well as wildlife protection activities, including ______________________________________.
a) spotting and capturing poachers
b) police surveillance
c) spotting and tracking wild animals for big game hunters
d) airlifting food supplies to hungry animals
10. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.
What are some ways that drones might be used in the not-so-distant future? Use examples from the passage.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS HERE!
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson Forty
KEY VOCABULARY WORDS
Be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will help you improve your understanding of the passage itself and give your vocabulary a big boost.
Footage shows Hirsch, who appears to be OBLIVIOUS to his near miss, carrying on down the hill towards the finish line.
OBLIVIOUS is an adjective that means to be unaware of or unconcerned with what is happening around you. Depending on the context and situation, OBLIVIOUS can also be used as a synonym for ignorant, blind, indifferent, removed, and unconcerned.
The young woman sat on the train chatting loudly on her cell phone, OBLIVIOUS to the contemptuous looks the other passengers were giving her.
When Martin gets engrossed in a good book, he becomes completely OBLIVIOUS to what is happening around him.
Unfortunately, too many young people are still OBLIVIOUS to the risks the Internet can pose.
The noun form, OBLIVION, has two definitions. It can mean the state of being unaware of what is going on around you, or it can mean the state of being completely forgotten, as in these two examples.
The elderly driver sat in her car in OBLIVION, unaware that the light had changed, and that all the drivers around her were honking their horns at her.
The young idol was popular for only a year or two and then disappeared into OBLIVION.
One 2015 report painted a DISCONCERTING picture of how dangerous the skies can be when crisscrossed with both drones and manned aircraft.
In the passage, DISCONCERTING is an adjective that means causing people to feel worried or unsettled. Upsetting, unsettling, worrying, alarming, troubling, and disturbing are some good synonyms.
As I got off the train and started walking home, I couldn’t shake the DISCONCERTING feeling that I was being followed.
As DISCONCERTING as it may be for parents to have to do so, they need to make sure their children, especially the younger ones, understand the dangers of speaking to strangers.
In his new documentary, the director shows in DISCONCERTING detail the terrible effects global warming will have on all living things over the next 100 years.
DISCONCERTING is based on the verb DISCONCERT, which means to make people feel anxious or embarrassed. Disturb, fluster, bewilder, confuse, and startle are some near synonyms. The past tense form, DISCONCERTED, is sometimes used as an adjective, as in the last example.
The film’s shocking ending thrilled most of the audience but DISCONCERTED the more faint hearted.
Traveling through the rural parts of India and seeing poverty first hand DISCONCERTED Arthur much more than he had anticipated.
My mother appeared DISCONCERTED when I told her that I was going to take a gap year after high school rather than go straight to college.
At least 241 of those incidents met the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) definition of a near-collision—two aircraft flying within 500 feet of each other. And about a third of those INVOLVED commercial jets carrying numerous passengers.
If a situation, event, or activity INVOLVES someone or something, as in the sentence above, that person or thing plays an important or necessary part in it, or is directly affected by it, as in:
The headmaster was dismayed to learn how many students were INVOLVED in the cyber-bullying incident.
As many as 2,000 students were INVOLVED in the anti-racism protest that took place outside of the dean’s office.
“Just to give you a heads-up,” the teacher told his biology class, “this week’s test will INVOLVE several essay questions about the human brain and nervous system.”
Although my job INVOLVES a lot of traveling, I enjoy having the opportunity to visit places I would otherwise never get to see.
INVOLVE also means to get others to participate in some activity, job, or event.
We’d like to INVOLVE as many people from the community as possible in this year’s village festival.
It was gratifying to see all the children and parents INVOLVED in last week’s Sports Day event.
Mrs. Warden tried to INVOLVE everyone in the class discussion, but as usual, Chloe and Rosie had nothing to add to it.
When you are INVOLVED IN something, you are fully occupied or engrossed in that thing.
We asked Osamu to go to the movies with us, but he was too INVOLVED IN writing his English essay.
It’s never a good idea to get INVOLVED IN the personal lives of one’s neighbors.
Eileen has been INVOLVED IN local theater productions for over ten years, so if you’re thinking about taking part, she is the right person to talk to.
If you are INVOLVED WITH someone, you are in a relationship with that person.
Professor Jordan was fired for getting INVOLVED WITH one of her students.
David’s mom was concerned that he was getting INVOLVED WITH kids at his new school who were a bad influence on him.
These disturbing statistics have forced the FAA to come up with new MEASURES to ensure air traffic safety.
In the passage, MEASURES is the plural form of the noun MEASURE, which is a plan or a course of action that is taken to achieve a particular purpose. Step, initiative, statute, law, legislation, and bill can be used as substitutes for MEASURE, depending on the situation and context.
Britain’s educational authorities have introduced tougher MEASURES to discourage parents from taking their children out of school during term time to go on family holidays.
“We have been forced to take drastic MEASURES to reduce crime in the city’s transit system,” the mayor announced at the press conference.
When the tornado sirens were sounded, the students were all quickly moved into the gymnasium as a safety MEASURE.
MEASURE has several other uses as well. For one, a MEASURE is a standard unit used to state the size, quantity, or degree of something.
Which weight MEASURE do pharmacists in America use, the metric system or the Imperial system?
A MEASURE is also an indication of the degree, extent, or quality of something, as in:
Christina achieved some MEASURE of success as an actress, but in the end, she chose to return to college and become a pediatrician.
My grandma always said that making sure you send a “Thank You” note after you receive a gift is a MEASURE of how well you were brought up.
In music, a MEASURE is one of the short sections of equal length that a piece of music is divided into.
How many MEASURES are in a typical jazz chorus?
A song written in 4/4 time will hold four quarter-note beats per MEASURE.
MEASURE is also a verb that means to find the size or quantity of something using standard units.
Earthquakes are MEASURED using a device known as the Richter scale.
Every year on Christmas morning, our mom MEASURES us to see how much we have grown over the last year.
Paula has gone to the bridal shop to be MEASURED for her wedding dress.
MEASURE also means to judge the importance or value of something. Assess is the nearest synonym.
Students are given reading tests once a month to MEASURE their progress.
In some African countries, a family’s status in the community is MEASURED by the number of cattle it owns.
But drones, especially those equipped with cameras and payload carriers, aren’t just for fun and games: they are finding practical APPLICATIONS in fields of all kinds.
APPLICATION is based on the verb APPLY, which has several everyday uses. For each definition of APPLICATION below, we will give sample sentences for both the noun and verb forms.
 In the above sentence, APPLICATION refers to the practical use that something can be put to.
Despite everything my former math teacher told me, I have yet to find a practical APPLICATION for trigonometry.
Solar-powered batteries have a wide range of APPLICATIONS, especially in areas where there is abundant sunshine.
Just about everything you learn in an accounting class can be APPLIED in the real world.
 An APPLICATION is a formal request for something such as a job, a place in school, or permission to do something.
When filling out a job APPLICATION, be sure to provide details of your previous work experience.
To be considered for enrollment, you must return your completed APPLICATION by no later than March 31st.
Like most aspiring doctors, Isla had to APPLY for a student grant to help her get through medical school.
Immigrants have to live in the country for at least five years before they can APPLY for permanent residency.
 APPLICATION also refers to the act of putting or spreading something such as make-up, paint, or medical ointments or creams onto something else.
It took three APPLICATIONS of paint to cover up the pen marks my daughter scribbled on the wall.
The ad promises that a daily APPLICATION of this new cream will cure acne.
Suzy sneaked into her parents’ bedroom and clumsily APPLIED her mom’s lipstick and rouge to her mouth and cheeks.
 APPLICATION can also refer to the determination or effort needed to achieve some goal or skill.
Teaching a class of 30 fourth graders takes a great deal of patience and APPLICATION.
I’m sure you would have done better on the exam if you had APPLIED yourself a little more.
FYI: The verb APPLY can also be used to mean to be relevant or necessary, as in:
The new no-cell-phone rule APPLIES to all pupils while they are on school property.
And APPLY can also mean to exert or put on, as in:
When I cut my shin chopping wood, I had to APPLY pressure with a cloth for nearly half an hour before the wound finally stopped bleeding.
Make sure you APPLY plenty of pressure with your pen so that all three copies of the form are legible.
Jack APPLIED his considerable charm on his teacher to get her to give him a better grade on his essay, but it didn’t work.
Already, drones are being DEPLOYED in emergency search-and-rescue operations, police surveillance, traffic control, TV and movie aerial photography, scientific and environmental research, and wildlife protection activities like spotting and capturing poachers.
In the passage, DEPLOY means to use something or someone effectively for a specific purpose.
Last year, thousands of trained medical professionals were DEPLOYED to help out with disaster relief efforts in various parts of the world.
Oxygen masks are DEPLOYED when an aircraft flying above 14,000 feet loses its cabin pressure.
After a long, high-speed chase along Highway 5, the police finally got close enough to DEPLOY a stinger device to puncture the tires of the thieves’ car.
But the verb DEPLOY is most often used to mean to move troops or weapons into a position where they are ready for military action. Position, station, and post are some good synonyms.
How many more young men and women is the president planning to DEPLOY to the war-torn region?
By the time A.J. was 25, he’d already been DEPLOYED to Afghanistan three times.
The noun form is DEPLOYMENT and is often used like this:
The High Court ruled that the DEPLOYMENT of troops without the consent of Parliament is unconstitutional.