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LESSON FORTY-FOUR HERE!
In today’s lesson, entitled Going Bananas, you will listen to a passage about why bananas are often called “Nature’s Perfect Power Snack.” You will also learn about a disease that could wipe out banana crops all over the world. 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-Four PASSAGE ONLY:
Often called “Nature’s Perfect Power Snack,” bananas are one of the most widely consumed foods in the world—and for good reason. The delicately curved yellow fruit tastes great on its own or in a salad or smoothie. Bananas are an excellent source of dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamin C, and they come in their own convenient protective packaging, making them ideal for lunchboxes and people on the go. Best of all, bananas are cheap–a real bargain. No wonder people around the world eat more than 100 billion of them every year.
But now bananas are facing a crisis. A highly contagious fungal disease is making its way to South America, where more than 80 percent of the world’s bananas are grown.
During the first half of the 20th century, supermarket bananas didn’t look like the bananas we see today. They were slimmer and not as curved and, apparently, more flavorful. But in the 1950s, a deadly strain of a disease known as Tropical Race 1 destroyed the crops of almost all the banana plantations in Central and South America. The most popular variety, Gros Michel, could no longer be commercially grown and was replaced by the less tasty, but disease-resistant Cavendish banana, which we all know and love today. Sadly, more than 60 years after the fungal assault that wiped out Gros Michel, history is repeating itself. The Cavendish is under threat.
Tropical Race 4, a new strain of the old disease, has been moving swiftly across Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, killing crops wherever it goes. According to Guatemalan banana exporter Peter Fairhurst, the fungus attacks the banana tree’s roots and vascular system. “In other words,” he explains, “the fluid in the plant ceases to flow, and the plant turns black and dies.” The fungus’s spores thrive even after they have been treated with aggressive compounds that sterilize the soil. And because they can also travel in the wooden pallets used for transport, it’s only a matter of time, says Fairhurst, before they reach Latin America. Our beloved Cavendish banana could very well become extinct in the next few years.
Plant pathology professor Randy Ploetz believes it is too early to make such extreme claims. While Cavendish bananas may eventually become “rare and more and more difficult to produce,” they won’t disappear altogether, he believes. Even the Gros Michel variety still grows in small quantities on farms in Southeast Asia, on some Pacific islands, and in California. But as was the case with the Gros Michel, large-scale production and export of Cavendish bananas will most likely come to an end. Supermarkets will then have to begin stocking different, or new, genetically modified species.
But don’t expect these new bananas to look or taste like the Cavendish, warns Ploetz. Bananas come in blue, orange, and red, and in all different shapes and sizes. These species have not been widely available because most of us have preconceived ideas of what makes a banana a banana. “People need to get past the social perception of the perfect, spotless, yellow banana,” he says. The first challenge is to convince consumers that a brown, spotted banana is a good banana, or that a blue banana tastes just as yummy in a smoothie as a yellow one. When that happens, Ploetz is sure that people will “go bananas” over the new varieties—spots and all.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn: Lesson Forty-Four LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be TRUE/FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Bananas are an excellent source of protein and vitamin D.
2. Some 100 million bananas are consumed globally every year.
3. More than 80 percent of the world’s banana crops come from Asia and Africa.
4. Gros Michel bananas were slimmer and not as curved as the bananas we see in supermarkets today.
5. Tropical Race 4 is a fungal disease that attacks the banana tree’s roots and vascular system.
6. The spores of Tropical Race 4 are very tough and can even survive and travel in the wooden pallets used to transport the bananas.
7. The Cavendish bananas that we all know and love today are tastier than the old Gros Michel variety.
8. The Gros Michel variety of banana has now become extinct.
9. Not all bananas are yellow and the same size and shape. Some come in blue, orange, and red, and in all different shapes and sizes.
10. Randy Ploetz believes that eventually people will get over their old ideas of what makes a banana a banana and will accept many different types of banana.
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-Four
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.
FYI: STRAIN has a variety of uses, both as a noun and a verb. For this lesson, we will look at how STRAIN is used in the passage. For more explanations of and sample sentences using STRAIN, please refer to KA Wordcast: Passages Lesson 19.
But in the 1950s, a deadly STRAIN of a disease known as Tropical Race 1 destroyed the crops of almost all the banana plantations in Central and South America.
In the sentence above, STRAIN is a noun that refers to a particular type of plant or animal, or a type of bacterial disease. Variety and type are some synonyms.
Remember that your flu shot will only protect you against one particular STRAIN of flu.
According to the local paper, a very mild STRAIN of bird flu was recently discovered on a nearby farm.
This particular STRAIN of rabbits is unmistakable thanks to their small size and unusually large ears.
A STRAIN can also mean a hereditary or natural characteristic, tendency, or trait.
A STRAIN of artistic talent runs through our family that goes back to my great-great grandfather Jacob, a well-known painter of his day.
Donovan is friendly enough, but, coming from a wealthy family, there is a definite STRAIN of snobbery in him.
Sadly, more than 60 years after the fungal ASSAULT that wiped out Gros Michel, history is repeating itself.
In the passage, ASSAULT is a noun that is synonymous with attack. An ASSAULT can come in various forms, including physical, military, verbal, or written. Look at the following examples for clarification.
More and more computers and computer users are under ASSAULT by hackers these days.
On June 6, 1944, Allied Forces launched a major attack against Nazi troops in Normandy, France, an ASSAULT known as D-Day.
Examples of written ASSAULTS include bomb threats posted to governments, institutions, or individuals.
BBC News says that the ASSAULT on the soccer star was not racially motivated.
ASSAULT is also the official name given to the crime of attacking someone physically.
Robert was arrested and charged with ASSAULT after getting into a fight in a Tring pub.
Criticizing someone severely is also a kind of ASSAULT.
The Presidential candidate refused to apologize for the verbal ASSAULTS he made against a TV journalist.
ASSAULT is also used to talk about the act of trying to achieve something difficult or dangerous.
A memorial service for the three mountaineers who died during an ASSAULT on Mount Everest will be held on Sunday.
The school board has mounted a new ASSAULT on truancy. Parents of delinquent students will be fined up to $100 per day.
As a verb, ASSAULT means to attack someone violently.
According to the survey, a shocking four out of ten U.K. schoolteachers say that they have been ASSAULTED by students.
The movie star was arrested late last night after ASSAULTING a paparazzi photographer.
“In other words,” he explains, “the fluid in the plant CEASES to flow, and the plant gets black and dies.”
CEASE is a verb that means to stop happening or existing or to stop something from happening or existing. End, come to an end, bring to an end, conclude, and discontinue are some synonyms.
“CEASE that talking at once!” Mr. Scarborough shouted at two noisy students in the back of the classroom.
Someone once told me that a true friend is a person who believes in you when you CEASE to believe in yourself.
KEVIN hasn’t attended his classes for nearly a month now, which means that his grant payments will CEASE.
Fortunately for me, the union voted to CEASE the tube strike just hours before I had to travel into London for a job interview.
FYI: The word CEASE is often used to form a noun, CEASEFIRE, which is a temporary period in a war when fighting stops.
Unless both sides agree to a CEASEFIRE soon, the United Nations will have to intervene and send peacekeeping troops to the region.
The fungus’s spores thrive even after they have been treated with AGGRESSIVE compounds that sterilize the soil.
In the sentence above AGGRESSIVE is an adjective that describes something that is powerful and determined to succeed or bring about a certain result.
Principal Robinson has introduced an AGGRESSIVE literacy campaign to get all our students passionate about reading.
Lewis is a skilled football player, but he sometimes needs to be more AGGRESSIVE on the pitch.
The Finnish game manufacturer has been AGGRESSIVE in expanding into the Asian market.
Salespeople need to be AGGRESSIVE, of course, but they also have to be good listeners who understand their customers’ needs.
AGGRESSIVE can also describe a person or animal that is angry and acting in a threatening way.
Do you think playing violent video games makes children more AGGRESSIVE?
“As children are present, please ensure that AGGRESSIVE dogs are kept on leads,” the sign at the entrance to the park read.
Mary’s cat becomes AGGRESSIVE whenever anyone tries to get near her kittens.
AGGRESSIVELY is the adverb form of AGGRESSIVE for both of the above uses.
As far as I’m concerned, television networks need to cut back on toy commercials that are AGGRESSIVELY aimed at children.
In Tokyo, if you don’t drive your car somewhat AGGRESSIVELY, you’ll never get anywhere.
FYI: The word STOCK has many uses. It can be a noun, verb, or adjective. For today’s lesson, we will look only at how STOCK is used in the passage.
Supermarkets will then have to begin STOCKING different, or new, genetically modified species.
In the passage, STOCK is a verb that means to keep a supply of a particular type of product to sell in a shop or store. Supply, have for sale, and keep on hand are some words and phrases you can use in place of STOCK.
Convenience stores in Japan STOCK all the daily essentials, from tasty bentos and soft drinks to socks and toothpaste.
“We don’t normally STOCK that brand of shampoo,” the cashier said, “but we can special order it for you.”
Can you recommend a good camping-goods store that STOCKS inflatable tents?
Our corner shop recently started STOCKING a variety of ethnic and gourmet foods.
STOCK also means to fill something—such as a cupboard, refrigerator, or library—with products or goods that you intend to keep or use.
People living in Tokyo are encouraged to STOCK up on water and basic foodstuffs in case of a major earthquake.
When I was sixteen years old, I worked STOCKING shelves in a local grocery store.
STOCK can also be used as an adjective, as in:
My dream is to someday have a well-STOCKED library filled with great works of literature, history, and biography.
The noun STOCK refers to the supply of something that is for sale in a store or shop or of something that is available for use. Look at the following examples.
I try to read at least one encyclopedia entry every day to build up my STOCK of general knowledge.
We apologize for the inconvenience, but the store will be closed on Sunday to allow us to do an inventory of our current STOCK.
The decline of fish STOCKS in the waters off the coast of Peru is a serious problem for the South American nation’s economy.
These species have not been widely available because most of us have PRECONCEIVED ideas of what makes a banana a banana.
PRECONCEIVED is an adjective that refers to an idea or opinion about something that is formed before you have enough information or experience of something. Predetermined, prejudiced, and biased are some good synonyms.
Mr. Dennis didn’t fit my PRECONCEIVED notion of what a science teacher should be like.
I’m afraid I had a pretty negative PRECONCEIVED opinion about Stephen King’s writing, but reading his latest novel changed all that for me.
In a trial, “jury selection” is the process whereby lawyers try to find out if potential jurors have any PRECONCEIVED biases for or against the defendant or victim.
The noun form, PRECONCEPTION, is an idea or opinion about something that we form before we have enough information or experience to really understand it.
There is a PRECONCEPTION that if you like the “Star Wars” movies, you are a nerd.
I recently came across a really interesting magazine article that challenged every PRECONCEPTION I had about education in China.