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In today’s lesson, entitled To Binge, or Not to Binge, you will be listening to a passage about how cable and satellite television networks have changed the way viewers watch television and why “just one more,” has become an increasingly commonly used expression. 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.
To Binge, or Not to Binge
Listen and Learn
Lesson Fourteen PASSAGE ONLY track:
Once upon a time, long before cable television, satellite TV, and the Internet, almost every American family had a weekly tradition. On Saturday mornings, the kids would wake up bright and early, tiptoe past Mom and Dad’s bedroom, stealthily creep downstairs, switch on the TV, and watch hours and hours of cartoons. Back then, you see, there were only four or five TV channels to choose from. Saturday morning was the one time in the week when TV was just for kids.
But those days are long gone. In October 2014, all three major American television networks scrapped Saturday-morning cartoon programming for good. This doesn’t mean that cartoons have disappeared. But the way kids watch them has changed radically. Thanks to cable networks like Nickelodeon, the Cartoon Network, and Disney Junior, kids nowadays can turn on the TV any day, anytime, and watch Tom and Jerry or Scooby Doo to their heart’s content. If they feel there’s “nothing to watch” on cable, they have thousands of programs and movies to choose from on Netflix and other Internet streaming services.
Television viewing has changed for grownups, too. Prime-time television programs used to be aired just once a week. If you happened to miss an episode of your favorite drama or sit-com, you had to wait months for the reruns (or even years for the program to go into syndication) before you could see it: there was no such thing as Catch-up TV or Plus One. The introduction of the videocassette recorder (VCR) in the late 1970s helped somewhat. But unless you owned a pre-programmable model, you had to be right there to push the record button when your show came on. In short, if you missed an episode, you were pretty much out of luck.
Not today. You can miss an entire season or even an entire series and still catch up, almost instantly. Practically everything on TV becomes available on DVD or BluRay as soon as the season finale airs. But even this style of TV-viewing is “old school.” What with satellite TV and on-demand services offering box sets of everything from all ten seasons of Friends to the latest season of Game of Thrones, you never have to miss a thing.
This has given rise to a new viewing trend: binge-watching, that is, watching multiple episodes of the same show in one sitting. While the term “binging” has negative connotations in most contexts, TV audiences don’t seem to feel guilty about binging on their favorite shows. In fact, more than a third of the viewers polled in a recent Netflix survey say that they prefer to “save” whole series or seasons to binge-watch at a more convenient time.
And who can blame them? The content of TV has changed, too. Sure, much of what is on offer is, to put it bluntly, still a “wasteland.” But with BBC, HBO, and others producing shows of an unprecedentedly high quality, binge-watching can be as productive a way to spend your time as staying up all night to read through a great novel.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Fourteen LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be TRUE or FALSE and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and mark your answer. For the best results, always try to listen to the question without looking at the written questions on the website. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
1. Back in the days before cable television, satellite TV, and Internet streaming services, there were only two or three television channels to choose from in the United States.
2. In 2014, all three major American television networks stopped airing Saturday morning programming just for kids.
3. Children nowadays can still only watch cartoons at select times during the week.
4. In the past, if you happened to miss an episode of your favorite TV drama, you could always watch it an hour later on one of the Plus One channels.
5. Videocassette recorders, which allowed you to record television programs onto a VHS tape, were introduced in the late 1970s.
6. These days, even if you miss an entire season of a television series, you can still get caught up almost instantly.
7. On-demand services such as Netflix only offer box sets of older TV shows like Friends.
8. Binge-watching refers to the act of watching multiple episodes of the same program back-to-back in one sitting.
9. Most TV audiences feel guilty after watching more than one episode of their favorite program.
10. More than half the viewers polled by Netflix prefer to “save” whole series or seasons of a television program to binge-watch at a later time.
Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. The correct answers will follow immediately after the closing jingle, so stay tuned. Answers are also available on the KA Wordcast website as a separate track. You can also download the lesson in PDF format and keep it for your reference. And be sure to listen to the Key Vocabulary bonus track. This will improve your understanding of the passage itself and give you a bigger, better active vocabulary.
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 FOURTEEN
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.
On Saturday mornings, the kids would wake up bright and early, tiptoe past Mom and Dad’s bedroom, STEALTHILY creep downstairs, switch on the TV, and watch hours and hours of cartoons.
In the sentence above, STEALTHILY is the adverb form of the adjective STEALTHY, which means doing something quietly or secretly so as to not be seen or heard. Synonyms for STEALTHILY include quietly, secretly, surreptitiously, and slyly.
Sometime in the middle of the night, an intruder entered the house STEALTHILY through the back door and robbed the Muller family of all their valuables.
Rare video footage of a lion STEALTHILY sneaking up on a herd of wildebeest has had more than two million hits on YouTube.
Kyra crept STEALTHILY past the living room where her parents were watching TV and snuck out the front door to meet her friends.
The thief thought he was being STEALTHY, but he was caught on CCTV camera and eventually apprehended for breaking into the pharmacy and stealing prescription drugs.
Ninjas, often regarded as the greatest athletes of their day, were trained to be STEALTHY and “invisible.”
STEALTH is another adjective that means designed in such a way to make something difficult to be detected by radar. It is almost always used as a modifier in military applications, as in:
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe recently announced that Japan would be joining the bidding to sell Australia a fleet of STEALTH submarines.
Just this week, a stunning photo of a U.S. STEALTH bomber being refueled over the Cornwall coastline went viral on many social media sites.
In October 2014, all three major American television networks SCRAPPED Saturday-morning cartoon programming for good.
In this sentence, SCRAP is a verb that means to cancel something that is no longer considered practical. To withdraw, do away with, and drop are some good synonyms.
If the weather doesn’t improve, we’ll have to SCRAP our plans to go to the seaside this weekend.
Sadly, budget cuts have forced many schools in the United States to SCRAP their music and art programs.
How can our politicians even think about SCRAPPING the national health care program when other countries are actively trying to make theirs even better?
SCRAP is also another way to say to throw something away. To dispose of, get rid of, toss out, throw out, and discard are some near synonyms.
Instead of SCRAPPING most of the set after the play’s run, why don’t we just take it down and use it for future productions?
We were able to save most of our living room furniture from damage in the flood, but we did have to SCRAP the coffee table and one bookcase.
The oldest of the school desks were SCRAPPED to make room for new ones.
As a noun, SCRAP (often used in its plural form, SCRAPS) has a couple of everyday uses. For one, a SCRAP is a small piece or amount of something, especially something that is left over after most of it has been used.
I wrote Jessica’s number on a SCRAP of paper, but I can’t find it now.
The quilt Barbara made for her baby granddaughter is beautiful. It’s amazing what she can create with a few SCRAPS of leftover material.
Any SCRAP of information you have will help us in our investigation to find the missing schoolgirl.
“Jasper’s only a puppy, Alice,” Kate scolded her daughter. “Stop throwing your SCRAPS under the table. He’ll get sick.”
Nothing gets wasted on Henry’s farm. SCRAPS of food are either fed to the pigs or used to make compost.
SCRAP also refers to something (like an old car or computer) that is no longer wanted or can no longer be used for its original purpose, but that will have some value when it is taken apart and reprocessed. SCRAP is also sometimes used as a modifier, as in the last two examples.
Grandpa’s old clunker of a car had so many miles on it that we eventually had to sell it for SCRAP.
It seems wrong to fill our landfills with old discarded computers when we should be taking them apart and selling them for SCRAP.
The artist uses SCRAP wood, plastic, metal, and glass to create some of the most interesting sculptures I have ever seen.
A.G. Evans is a local company that will collect any kind of SCRAP metal to be melted down and reused.
But the way kids watch them has changed RADICALLY.
RADICALLY is the adverb form of the adjective RADICAL, which, when talking about change or actions, means extensive, thorough, or complete.
The countries of Eastern Europe went through RADICAL political, social, and economic changes after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Attitudes towards child adoption in Japan have changed RADICALLY in recent years, with more and more couples seeking to adopt children from overseas.
Cameron’s behavior changed RADICALLY for the better once he was put on medication to treat ADHD.
In the early 20th century, the introduction of tanks, automatic rifles, airplanes, and other weaponry brought about RADICAL changes in the nature of warfare.
RADICAL is also used to describe new ideas or methods that are likely to have a great or permanent impact. Synonyms include revolutionary and progressive.
Our science teacher, Mr. Greer, is known for his RADICAL approach to teaching physics.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once remarked, “When you are right, you cannot be too RADICAL, but when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative.”
As a noun, a RADICAL is a person or a group of people with RADICAL ideas or opinions, usually about politics or social reform.
The anti-war demonstration in front of the White House was peaceful until some right-wing RADICALS started throwing glass bottles and stones at the demonstrators.
This has given rise to a new viewing trend: BINGE-watching, that is, watching multiple episodes of the same show in one sitting.
In the sentence above, BINGE is a noun that means doing too much of something in a very short period of time. A BINGE usually refers to something negative like overeating or drinking steadily.
One of the symptoms of depression is BINGE-eating.
Last night, Frances went out on a drinking BINGE to celebrate a friend’s birthday, and she says she’ll never again touch a drop of alcohol.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling a bit bored, I go on a shopping BINGE, only to regret it a month later when I get my credit-card bill.
The verb BINGE means to lose control of yourself and overindulge in something.
What’s wrong with you? You’ve been BINGING on chocolate all day.
If you want to lose weight, Paula, you’ll have to stop BINGING on bread, pasta, and other foods high in carbohydrates.
Once I got into it, I couldn’t stop BINGING on that popular American sit-com, The Big Bang Theory. Last night, I watched eight episodes, back-to-back.
While the term “binging” has negative CONNOTATIONS in most contexts, TV audiences don’t seem to feel guilty about binging on their favorite shows.
A CONNOTATION is an idea or sense that a word suggests in addition to its literal or primary meaning. Synonyms include overtone, implication, nuance, hidden meaning, and suggestion.
When learning new vocabulary, it is important that you learn all a word’s CONNOTATIONS as well as its main definition.
The word “skinny” is similar in meaning to slender or trim, but it has a less flattering CONNOTATION.
The CONNOTATION of some of the words that our daughter Sally’s teacher used during our parent-teacher conference implied that Sally was a bit of a troublemaker.
CONNOTATION can sometimes refer to other things besides words, as in this sentence.
Getting a tattoo may be trendy today, but if you’re job hunting, tattoos still have a negative CONNOTATION and can send out the wrong message to potential employers.
But with BBC, HBO, and others producing shows of an unprecedentedly high quality, binge-watching can be as PRODUCTIVE a way to spend your time as staying up all night to read through a great novel.
PRODUCTIVE is an adjective that means doing or achieving (or being capable of doing or achieving) a lot of something (usually work or study) in a certain period of time. Useful, constructive, valuable, worthwhile, and rewarding are some near synonyms. PRODUCTIVELY is the adverb.
Saturday, I had a very PRODUCTIVE morning grading my students’ essays, but by midday, I was exhausted, and all I wanted to do was sit on the sofa and watch TV.
After spending five PRODUCTIVE hours working on her graduation thesis in the school library, Hannah treated herself to a latte and apple pie at her favorite coffee shop.
While my colleagues and I prefer to work with the radio playing in the background, our boss, Mr. Daniels, insists that we will be more PRODUCTIVE without distractions.
You only have two weeks until your finals, so I suggest that you start using your time more PRODUCTIVELY.
PRODUCTIVE also refers to the ability to make goods in large quantities or to grow abundant crops.
At the end of each shift, the factory’s three most PRODUCTIVE line workers are awarded a free movie pass at the local Cineplex.
By maximizing the machine’s PRODUCTIVE capacity, we were able to assemble 12% more units per day.
Thanks to new technologies, Israeli cows are now among the most PRODUCTIVE milk producers in the world.
Once called the “Breadbasket of Africa,” Zimbabwe’s farming lands are not nearly as PRODUCTIVE as they were twenty years ago.
While COUNTERPRODUCTIVE may sound as if it means NOT PRODUCTIVE, it has a slightly different nuance. Something (an activity, policy, attempt, etc.) that is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE has the opposite effect of the one desired or sought.
It seems COUNTERPRODUCTIVE to send a person like Donovan to Japan to represent our company. He has almost no experience with overseas clients.
“All this bickering is COUNTERPRODUCTIVE,” the planning committee chairperson said. “It’s time we agreed about what we want to do at this year’s school fair!”