KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn LESSON NINETEEN: The Winton Children

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Perhaps you’ve heard the name Oskar Schindler. He was the hero of Steven Spielberg’s Academy Award- winning film Schindler’s List, and heroic Schindler was. During World War II, at great personal risk, Schindler saved the lives of over 1,000 innocent Jewish people. In today’s lesson, entitled “The Winton Children,” you will listen to a passage about a remarkable Englishman named Nicholas Winton who is often called “Britain’s Schindler.” When the Second World War broke out, Winton masterminded an operation that rescued 669 Jewish children from almost certain death. (There were a couple of “Japanese Schindlers,” too, by the way. Do you know who they were?) 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.

 

nicholas wintonThe Winton Children

Listen and Learn

Lesson Nineteen: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK

 

            The year is 1938. Hungarian entrepreneurs Lazlo and George Biro invent the ballpoint pen. Cartoonists Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster create comic-book superhero Superman. American novelist Pearl Buck wins the Nobel Prize in Literature for her “rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China.” And Europe is on the brink of World War II.

By then, much of the continent had been overrun by German “fuhrer” Adolf Hitler and his Nazi troops. Anti-Semitism—discrimination against Hitler’s hated Jews—had become law. Jews were being systematically persecuted, and violence against Jewish-owned buildings and businesses was increasing. Then, on November 9, 1938, the situation became a true nightmare. Nazis all over Germany attacked Jewish homes, synagogues, and shops, smashing windows and setting buildings on fire.   Over 30,000 Jews were killed or imprisoned, just for being Jewish. This incident, known as Crystal Night, marked the beginning of the Holocaust—the mass murder of six million Jews in Nazi death camps like Dachau and Auschwitz.

            Shortly before Christmas that same year, a 29-year-old British stockbroker named Nicholas Winton was in London planning a skiing holiday in the Swiss Alps. He received a call from his close friend Martin Blake, who urged Nicholas to cancel his ski trip and join him in Prague. Blake was working in a refugee camp in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and asked for Winton’s help in getting Jewish refugees to freedom. Without a moment’s hesitation, Winton answered Blake’s call.

Following the horror of Crystal Night, Britain’s House of Commons approved a measure to allow refugees under seventeen to enter Britain. But there was a catch. Each child needed a guaranteed place to stay. So Winton single-handedly set up an organization in his hotel room and arranged for the safe passage of as many children as he could out of Prague and across four countries by rail. Then, using his considerable powers of persuasion, he pressured the British Home Office into allowing eight trainloads of endangered Czech children to enter Britain. And throughout the summer of 1939, he placed ads in British newspapers seeking the families who were eventually to accept the children into their homes. By the time war broke out on September 1, 1939, Winton’s rescue operation, later known as Czech Kindertransport, had successfully evacuated 669 Jewish children—boys and girls who would otherwise almost certainly have been put to death in Nazi camps.

            Incredibly, the story of Winton’s exploits remained untold until 1988, when his wife Grete, rummaging about in the Wintons’ attic, came across an old scrapbook with photographs and the names of the evacuees Nicholas had saved. Word got out, and an article appeared in the Sunday People newspaper. That, in turn, led to an episode of the TV show “That’s Life!” At one point in the program, the presenter took out Nicholas’s old scrapbook, thumbed through it for a minute or two, and then suddenly revealed that Winton was in the TV audience. Sitting on either side of the unsuspecting hero were two women who, as children, had fled Prague on the Winton trains. In fact, the whole audience was made up of “Winton Children.” One of the most compelling moments in television history, the clip of the show has had more than 24 million views on YouTube.

            Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2002, Sir Nicholas Winton passed away peacefully in his sleep on July 1, 2015.   He was 106 years old.

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LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS

Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Nineteen LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:

 

Today’s listening comprehension questions will be SHORT ANSWER and based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE. Listen to each question carefully and write 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.  What useful household item did Hungarian entrepreneurs Lazlo and George Biro invent in 1938?

           

2. What is Anti-Semitism?

           

3. What happened on November 9, 1938, a day historically known as Crystal Night?

          

4. How many European Jews were killed during the Holocaust?

           

5. What was Nicholas Winton planning to do over the Christmas holidays in the winter of 1938?

           

6. What new measure had Britain’s House of Commons approved following the horrors of Crystal Night?

           

7. What form of transport was used to provide the children of Jewish families living in Prague safe passage to England?

 

8. What did Nicholas Winton do during the summer of 1939 to guarantee that the children he rescued had a home to stay in once they arrived in Britain?

 

9. How was Winton’s story discovered more than forty years later?

 

10. In 1988, while sitting in the “That’s Life!” TV audience, did Nicholas Winton know he was surrounded by the children he had saved?

 

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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.

PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Nineteen THE WINTON CHILDREN

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KA WORDCAST: Listen and Learn! Lesson NINETEEN

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.

 

Pearl Buck's EPIC novel.

Pearl Buck’s EPIC novel.

1. EPIC

 

American novelist Pearl Buck wins the Nobel Prize in Literature for her “rich and truly EPIC descriptions of peasant life in China.”

In the sentence above, EPIC is an adjective, meaning very great and impressive. But let’s first look at the noun, EPIC. In modern usage, EPIC usually refers to a long action-packed dramatic movie or book that is often, but not always, based on a historical subject.   EPIC is also a genre of poetry about great men or women or about a nation’s history. Look at these examples.

Titanic director James Cameron says that he had to wait fifteen years for his sci-fi EPIC Avatar to hit the big screen.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring series is considered by many to be the greatest fantasy EPIC of all time.

 An Indian author recently broke a record of sorts when he retold the thousand verses of the world’s longest EPIC, The Mahabharata , in thirty-six tweets.

These days, you might hear someone refer (quite informally and usually humorously) to a long, difficult job or activity as an EPIC.

Sorting out the visas and passports for our school orchestra’s trip to China was an EPIC that took much longer than expected.

Now back to EPIC as an adjective. Look at these examples.

Some parents at our school have launched an EPIC statewide campaign to raise money to help a pupil who is battling cancer.

During the 16th century, the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs in the “New World” caused human and ecological disasters of EPIC proportions.

Every year, tens of thousands of people gather along the banks of Lake Union to watch the EPIC fireworks display that marks the end of Seattle’s month-long summer Seafair Festival.

An EPIC journey.

An EPIC journey.

Something such as a journey that takes place over a long period of time can also be described as EPIC.

On the next season of The Amazing Race, sixteen teams will battle it out in an EPIC 80-day journey across six continents.

The thirteen-hour stopover in Copenhagen made my journey from London to Tokyo more EPIC than it needed to be.

And just for fun: You may also hear someone (usually someone very young) use EPIC to mean “Awesome!” or “Incredible!” or “Amazing!” Just keep in mind that this usage is slang and should not be used in formal writing (except, where necessary, in fictional dialogue).

Last night’s concert was EPIC! Bruno Mars really rocked the house.

“Did you see that goal?” Cameron shouted to his dad. “That was EPIC!”

White rhinos are on the BRINK of extinction.

White rhinos are on the BRINK of extinction.

2. BRINK

And Europe is on the BRINK of World War II.

Literally, BRINK is a noun that refers to the extreme edge or limit of something like a cliff or piece of land.

Jonathan hesitated on the BRINK of the cliff for a moment before diving into the cool, clear lagoon below.

In the season finale of the popular TV series, the main characters are trapped in a car, teetering on the BRINK of a precipice high above the roiling waters of the North Atlantic.

More figuratively, as in the sentence above from the listening passage, the phrase “ON THE BRINK OF” means about to, almost, or not far away from in time. On the verge of is a very close equivalent.

Our school football team was ON THE BRINK OF victory when our opponent scored two quick touchdowns in the last three minutes of play.

Polar bears are one of scores of animal species that are ON THE BRINK OF extinction caused by global warming and habitat loss.

With Greece’s economy ON THE BRINK OF collapse, tourists are avoiding the country in droves.

Charles Dickens was ON THE BRINK OF giving up writing when he wrote “A Christmas Carol,” which became a huge commercial and critical success and encouraged him to keep going.

Scientists claim that they are on the BRINK of discovering how to reach warp speed. Really?

 

Millions of European Jews were PERSECUTED during WWII.

Millions of European Jews were PERSECUTED during WWII.

3. PERSECUTE

Jews were being systematically PERSECUTED, and violence against Jewish-owned buildings and businesses was increasing.

To PERSECUTE means to treat someone in a very cruel or unfair way, especially because of his or her race, religion, politics, or sexual orientation. Oppress, victimize, mistreat, discriminate against, and torment are some near synonyms.

The police must ensure that they treat all members of society equally and fairly and not PERSECUTE people based on race, gender, or religious beliefs.

Millions of people were murdered and millions more PERSECUTED during China’s Cultural Revolution.

PERSECUTE can also mean to harass someone deliberately to make his or her life very unpleasant. Some useful synonyms include pick on, intimidate, annoy, bully, and give a bad time.

Nicola was PERSECUTED by some of the more popular girls at school for not wearing the “right” clothes.

Many people these days go on social media sites and openly PERSECUTE others for having different opinions from their own.

Constantly PERSECUTED by the paparazzi and tabloid press, the young actress was forced to go out in public incognito.

PERSECUTION is the noun form of PERSECUTE.

During the latter half of the 18th century, many Irish people immigrated to America to avoid religious PERSECUTION at home.

Even today, women and minorities continue to face discrimination and outright PERSECUTION in many countries around the world.

FYI: PERSECUTE is often confused with PROSECUTE, which means to officially charge someone with a crime in court, as in:

Jennifer was caught shoplifting at the local stationery store, but because she was only 13, the shop owner did not PROSECUTE.

People who leave their children or pets in their cars in hot weather should be PROSECUTED, convicted, and thrown in jail.

 

urge4. URGED

He received a call from his close friend Martin Blake, who URGED Nicholas to cancel his ski trip and join him in Prague.

URGE is a verb that means to try hard to persuade someone to do something.  Synonyms include plead, implore, exhort, and encourage.

I would never have pursued a career in music if my junior high school music teacher hadn’t praised my talent and URGED me to do so.

Buffalo police are URGING anyone who was near the scene of Monday’s bank robbery to contact them immediately.

It had been snowing heavily all night, so I URGED my husband to not risk the treacherous roads and to stay home from work.

Following the tragic drowning of an eight-year-old boy at the local pool, the community is URGING all school-age children to attend a free intensive swimming course.

“Oh, come on,” Mariko URGED me at the rotary sushi counter.  “How do you know you don’t like sea urchin if you haven’t tried it?”

URGE can also mean to recommend something strongly to someone.  Synonyms for this usage include advise, counsel, and suggest.

The Red Cross is URGING that more medical treatment supplies be provided for the tens of thousands of Syrians who are now living in refugee camps.

The magazine article URGED caution against “helicopter parenting,” which, it said, can produce kids who have trouble fending for themselves in the real world.

URGING a donkey up the Grand Canyon.

URGING a donkey up the Grand Canyon.

Finally, as a verb URGE can also mean to make a person or an animal move more quickly in a particular direction.  Synonyms for this usage include spur on, drive, force, and propel.

Karen URGED her horse up the narrow, winding mountain path. 

On the way to Woodland Park Zoo, the young kindergarten teacher URGED her class across the intersection.  “Hurry up, before the light turns red,” she shouted.

To URGE someone ON is a commonly used phrasal verb that means to support someone so that he or she does something better.   Two useful common informal synonyms are cheer on and root on.

Emmy felt like giving up at the 18th mile, but the thousands of spectators URGING her ON gave her the strength and determination to finish her first marathon.

URGE is also a noun that means a strong desire or impulse to do something.  Similar words include desire, wish, compulsion, hankering, impulse, yearning, and instinct.

Kenny was a spoiled kid whose parents had satisfied all his URGES and demands.

The pain was intense, and I felt the URGE to cry, but with all my teammates looking at me, I had to grit my teeth and hold back my tears.

I felt a sudden URGE to hug my art teacher when she told me that I had won first prize in the state “Help Prevent Forest Fires” poster contest.

Charlotte was on a diet and, at the birthday party, resisted the URGE to eat the pizza and cake that all her much slimmer classmates were eating.

 

Residents were EVACUATED following a flood.

Residents were EVACUATED following a flood.

5. EVACUATE

By the time war broke out on September 1, 1939, Winton’s rescue operation, later known as Czech Kindertransport, had successfully EVACUATED 669 Jewish children—boys and girls who would otherwise almost certainly have been put to death in Nazi camps.

In the sentence above, EVACUATE means to move people from a place of danger to a safer place. To remove, clear out, flee, depart from, and escape from are the nearest synonyms.

During the war, many Tokyo children were EVACUATED and sent to live with families in the countryside.

Residents of the village were EVACUATED after heavy rainfall caused the near-by river to overflow and flood the streets.

Make sure you have a disaster supplies kit on hand with items you may need if you ever have to EVACUATE your home after an earthquake or other natural disaster.

Those who had failed to EVACUATE their homes after the first warning were told to stay inside and board up their windows until the hurricane passed.

Although the lunch ladies swiftly put out the small fire in the kitchen, we were all EVACUATED from our classrooms and told to wait outside.

World War II EVACUEES.

World War II EVACUEES.

In today’s passage, you also heard the sentence below, which has a noun in it that is derived from EVACAUTE:

Incredibly, the story of Winton’s exploits remained untold until 1988, when his wife Grete, rummaging about in the Wintons’ attic, came across an old scrapbook with photographs and the names of the EVACUEES Nicholas had saved.

An EVACUEE is a person who is sent away from a place, usually in time of war or natural disaster, because it is too dangerous to remain there.

A 58-year-old EVACUEE from Fukushima told the press that while her house is still standing, she believes that the earthquake’s jolt has left it unstable and unsafe to return to.

When he was a young boy during World War II and the London Blitz, my grandfather spent two years in rural Hertfordshire as an EVACUEE.

The Kite Runner: A COMPELLING novel.

The Kite Runner: A COMPELLING novel.

6. COMPELLING

One of the most COMPELLING moments in television history, the clip of the show has had more than 24 million views on YouTube.

In the sentence above, COMPELLING is an adjective meaning causing interest, attention, or admiration in a powerfully irresistible way. Synonyms include enthralling, captivating, gripping, engrossing, riveting, spellbinding, entrancing, mesmerizing, and absorbing.

The Kite Runner is a COMPELLING film based on a best-selling novel about the friendship between two boys in Afghanistan and the events that irrevocably change their lives.

At a funeral service last week, President Obama delivered one of his most COMPELLING speeches on modern race relations in America.

COMPELLING can also mean not able to be argued against or refuted.  Synonyms include plausible, credible, valid, rational, weighty, and irrefutable.

The opinions you expressed in your essay would be more COMPELLING if you had some quotes from experts to back them up.

There are COMPELLING arguments from both those for and against the proposed construction of a prison on the outskirts of the village.

There is COMPELLING evidence against the defendant, but his lawyer still thinks the young man is innocent and that she can win him a “not guilty” verdict.

COMPELLING can also mean not able to be resisted, as a temptation.  Synonyms include irresistible, forceful, powerful, and potent.

Halfway up the rock climb, the temptation to give up was COMPELLING, but Hannah was determined to make it to the top.

COMPELLINGLY is an adverb meaning in a persuasive manner.

The principal argued COMPELLINGLY in favor of adopting a strict dress code, citing evidence from other schools where such a code had improved discipline and academic performance.

COMPEL is a verb that means to force or make someone do something.  Synonyms include obligate, oblige, urge, enforce, and necessitate.

The prime minister is contemplating a law that would COMPEL all young people to put in two years of national service.

Coco the Clown is a very successful children’s entertainer whose unusual appearance COMPELS attention, and whose slapstick routine has kids and parents rolling in the aisles. 

A sense of loyalty COMPELLED Harry to stick up for Grace in the argument, even though he wasn’t entirely sure she was in the right.

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PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn Lesson Nineteen KEY VOCABULARY WORDS