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LESSON TWENTY-NINE HERE!
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In today’s lesson, entitled Pay It Forward, you will be listening to a passage about the philosophy of “forward giving” and how it may have gotten its start in a play written more than 2,300 years ago. 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.
Pay It Forward
Listen and Learn
Lesson Twenty-Nine PASSAGE ONLY track:
Not long ago, at around seven A.M., a woman in St. Petersburg, Florida, pulled up to a Starbucks drive-thru window. She ordered an iced coffee and then asked to pay for the caramel macchiato for the stranger in the car behind her. The stranger returned the favor by paying for a drink for the customer in the car behind him. This “pay it forward chain” continued unbroken throughout the morning and afternoon. In the end, it lasted eleven hours, with 378 customers taking part. One participant, 19-year-old Tim Burnside, had visited the store in the morning and returned later in the day to see whether the chain was still going on. Seeing that it was made him feel ecstatic and empowered. “It’s nice just to do a random act of kindness for someone you don’t know,” he later told the Tampa Bay Times.
“Paying it forward,” or repaying a good deed to others instead of to the original benefactor, is not a modern concept by any means. Over the centuries, many works of literature have touched on the theme of unselfish giving. Take, for example, Dyskolos, a comedy written by the ancient Greek playwright Mendander in 317 B.C. In the play, a cantankerous old farmer named Knemon attempts to prevent his only daughter from marrying a wealthy young Athenian. One day, Knemon falls in a well, but he is saved from drowning by one of his servants, a man whom the mean old farmer has mistreated horribly. This magnanimous act softens Knemon’s stance, and he gives his blessing for the marriage.
Many centuries later, the American statesman Benjamin Franklin introduced the theme in a letter dated April 25, 1784. After agreeing to loan a friend a sum of money, Franklin wrote, “I do not pretend to give such a deed. I only lend it to you. When you meet with another honest Man in a similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him.” Franklin then proposed that his friend instruct the future beneficiary to also “pay it forward” when the opportunity arises. “I hope it may thus go through many hands,” Franklin continued, “before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress.”
The term “pay it forward,” however, only gained popularity in the mid-twentieth century, when the American writer Robert A. Heinlein used the phrase in his science-fiction novel Between Planets. Heinlein not only preached the philosophy of “forward giving.” He also practiced it by mentoring other writers, including science-fiction novelist Ray Bradbury, and encouraging them to reciprocate in kind. After Heinlein’s death in 1988, his wife Virginia founded the “Heinlein Society” to “pay forward” her husband’s legacy to future generations. The humanitarian organization promotes blood drives, awards scholarships to worthy young people, and provides educational material to teachers and librarians.
While many people may not be familiar with the Heinlein Society’s efforts, more and more people are embracing altruistic giving as a way of life. This may be largely due to the Hollywood film Pay It Forward, about a young boy who tries to make the world a better place by launching a good-will movement based on the philosophy. Since the movie’s release in 2000, more than three million people in 70 different countries have taken part in “Pay It Forward Day” every April.
But shouldn’t we be kind to others every day and not just on a designated day? “Absolutely,” says Pay It Forward Day founder Blake Beattie. “We should be looking for ways to help others every day as a way to remind ourselves that from what we get, we make a living—from what we give, we make a life.”
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Twenty-Nine LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE or 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. Choose the choice that best completes this sentence.
Not long ago, a woman in St. Petersburg, Florida, pulled up to a Starbucks drive-thru window and_______________________.
a) bought a cup of coffee for every customer in the shop
b) offered to pay for the next 378 customers to come to the drive-thru window
c) ordered an iced coffee for herself and a caramel macchiato for her passenger
d) ordered an iced coffee for herself and paid for a caramel macchiato for the passenger in the car behind her.
2. Decide if this statement is true or false.
The Tampa Bay Times interviewed 19-year-old Tim Burnside about his “pay it forward” experience at Starbucks.
3. Decide if this statement is true or false.
“Paying it forward,” or repaying a good deed to others instead of to the original benefactor, is an idea that only very recently occurred to people.
4. Choose the best answer.
Who wrote the comedy Dyskolos in 317 B.C.?
a) Dyskolos was written in 317 B.C. by the Greek playwright Knemon.
b) The author of the play is unknown.
c) Dyskolos was written by the ancient Greek playwright Mendander.
d) The play was written by a wealthy young Athenian.
5. In the play Dyskolos, who saved the cantankerous old farmer from drowning in a well?
a) The farmer’s only daughter saved him.
b) One of his servants saved him.
c) A wealthy Athenian man jumped in and saved him.
d) A neighboring farmer pulled the old man from the well.
6. Decide if this statement is true or false.
In a letter dated April 25, 1784, American statesman Benjamin Franklin agreed to loan his friend a sum of money, provided that the friend pay Franklin back in full in the near future.
7. Choose the answer that best completes this sentence.
American writer Robert A. Heinlein coined the phrase “pay it forward” when he used it ______________________________.
a) during a lecture to his philosophy class
b) when speaking to fellow science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury
c) in his futuristic novel Forward Giving
d) in his mid-twentieth-century science-fiction novel Between Planets
8. Decide if this statement is true or false.
After Heinlein’s death in 1988, his wife Virginia founded the Heinlein Society to “pay forward” her husband’s legacy.
9. Choose the best answer to this question.
What does the Heinlein Society do for teachers and librarians?
a) The Heinlein Society awards them academic scholarships.
b) The Heinlein Society provides them with educational materials.
c) The Heinlein Society provides them with mentoring services.
d) The Heinlein Society awards them prizes for donating blood to worthy young people.
10. Decide if this statement is true or false.
“Pay It Forward Day” founder Blake Beattie would like everyone to perform at least one act of kindness each year.
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 TWENTY-NINE
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.
“Paying it forward,” or repaying a good deed to others instead of to the original BENEFACTOR, is not a modern concept by any means.
A BENEFACTOR is a person who gives money or other help to a person, organization, or specific cause. In the above sentence, BENEFACTOR simply means the original “giver.” In more formal situations, synonyms for BENEFACTOR include supporter, backer, promoter, donor, contributor, and Good Samaritan.
Thanks to an anonymous BENEFACTOR who donated presents for everyone, none of the children who live in the shelter will have to go without this Christmas.
Plans for a new library wing were drawn up after the university received a $2-million gift from an alumni BENEFACTOR.
I really can’t afford to be a financial BENEFACTOR to your charity, but I’m happy to volunteer some of my time to help your cause.
In contrast, a BENEFICIARY is a person or organization that receives money, property, and so on from a BENEFACTOR. Just to make it clear, a BENEFACTOR “gives” while a BENEFICIARY “receives.”
As the eccentric billionaire’s only BENEFICIARY and living relative, John-Pierre will receive the old man’s entire estate.
If the BENEFICIARY of the academic scholarship doesn’t attend at least 60% of his or her classes, he or she will lose the grant.
In addition to leaving her his five-bedroom house and priceless collection of classic cars, Grandad also listed my sister Maggie as the sole BENEFICIARY in a huge life-insurance policy.
This magnanimous act softens Knemon’s STANCE, and he gives his blessing for the marriage.
In the sentence above, STANCE is a noun that refers to the opinion or attitude that a person has about something in particular. For this usage, viewpoint, position, perspective, way of thinking, and way of looking at things are the nearest synonyms.
What is the school’s STANCE on the government’s plan to make the school day longer?
Isla claims that since openly announcing her STANCE against the war, she’s been receiving a lot of malicious emails from her colleagues.
Not surprisingly, the Presidential candidate’s STANCE on immigration has upset a lot of second-, third-, and even fourth-generation Americans of all ethnic and racial backgrounds.
A STANCE is also the way in which a person stands, especially when he or she is playing a sport such as baseball, golf, or cricket.
“Widen your STANCE a little,” the softball coach told Keiko as he nudged her right foot a little farther forward in the batter’s box.
In the instructional DVD, all the basics of the golf swing, including grip, STANCE, take-back, and follow-through, are covered.
Heinlein not only PREACHED the philosophy of “forward giving,” he also practiced it by mentoring other writers, including science-fiction novelist Ray Bradbury, and encouraging them to reciprocate in kind.
In the sentence above, the verb PREACH is used somewhat colloquially to mean to earnestly advocate and give advice about a particular belief or course of action. Because “Forward giving” is a positive moral course of action, in this instance, PREACHING has a positive connotation. But PREACHING can also have a negative or disapproving sense. For example, when a person PREACHES to another person about moral practices or behavior, the PREACHER can come across as annoying or boring or unpleasantly aggressive.
I wish my dad would stop PREACHING to me all the time about how to behave and dress like a “lady.”
Fitness advocates PREACH the value of regular, cardiovascular exercise and healthy eating.
In an effort to promote clean energy use, the government has been aggressively PREACHING the benefits of installing solar panels on all newly built homes and buildings.
PREACH in its most common usage means to teach or tell others about a particular religion. To give or deliver a sermon, spread the gospel, and sermonize are the nearest synonyms.
When he was not PREACHING to his congregation, Father Thomas spent his time volunteering in soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
Several years ago, Kenneth traveled to Botswana as a Baptist missionary to PREACH in a small, rural church.
The idiomatic phrase PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH (which is used in today’s listening passage in a somewhat altered form) means that you yourself should do what you tell other people to do, as in:
My dad, who is an avid gamer, always tells us that we shouldn’t play more than an hour of video games a day, but we all know that he doesn’t PRACTICE WHAT HE PREACHES.
I know that I should PRACTICE WHAT I PREACH to my children and read more, but I just don’t seem to have the time these days.
If politicians would only PRACTICE WHAT THEY PREACH, the world would be a far better place.
Heinlein not only preached the philosophy of “forward giving.” He also practiced it by MENTORING other writers, including science-fiction novelist Ray Bradbury, and encouraging them to reciprocate in kind.
In the sentence above, MENTOR is a verb that means to advise or train someone, especially someone who is younger and has similar interests or goals. (The American Heritage dictionary defines “mentor” as “to serve as a trusted counselor and teacher,” like Mentor, the advisor to Odysseus in Greek mythology.)
Bennie decided that even if he could no longer play baseball because of his career-ending injury, he could “stay in the game” by becoming a coach and MENTORING young players.
This week, several celebrity dancers were invited to MENTOR the contestants on the TV show “Dance, Dance, Dance.”
Now that she is retired and has more free time, Jillian hopes to use her years of teaching experience to MENTOR newly qualified teachers.
MENTOR is also a noun that refers to an experienced person who gives advice and helps someone with less experience. Advisor, guru, and master are some similar words.
All the kids on my son’s football team look up to Coach Hamilton as a MENTOR.
When you’re starting out in your career, you need a MENTOR to help you learn the ropes and set you on the right path.
Have you ever thought about becoming a MENTOR to young, aspiring actors?
He also practiced it by mentoring other writers, including science-fiction novelist Ray Bradbury, and encouraging them to RECIPROCATE in kind.
RECIPROCATE means to respond to a person’s gesture or action by doing the same thing for or to that person. Do the same, return in kind, return the favor, and repay tit for tat are some good phrases you can use in place of RECIPROCATE.
“Thanks for helping me with my physics homework,” Donna told Domingo. “I’ll definitely RECIPROCATE the favor if and when you need help with an English assignment.”
When traveling to Japan, it is a good idea to take along an assortment of small gifts so that if you are unexpectedly presented with a gift, you will be able to RECIPROCATE.
Since Hiroshi did not RECIPROCATE by sending me a New Year’s card this year, I’ll be scratching him off my mailing list.
I’ve made it a policy not to loan money to anyone, because I’ve learned that most people are unwilling to RECIPROCATE the favor.
When talking about a person’s feelings, to RECIPROCATE means to have the same feelings for someone as he or she does for you, as in:
In last night’s episode of the hit TV situation comedy, Joey started to develop romantic feelings for Rachel, but she did not RECIPROCATE them.
As far as I’m concerned, life is too short to waste time on people who don’t RECIPROCATE one’s feelings of friendship, respect, or love.
While many people may not be familiar with the Heinlein Society’s efforts, more and more people are embracing ALTRUISTIC giving as a way of life.
ALTRUISTIC is an adjective that means showing selfless concern for the well-being of others. An ALTRUISTIC person is unselfish, giving, generous, compassionate, and magnanimous.
Grant’s affable personality and ALTRUISTIC nature make him the perfect school counselor.
When I announced over Thanksgiving dinner that I would be traveling to Myanmar in the new year to work with orphans, my Aunt Jessica scoffed at my ALTRUISTIC motives.
Carmen donated all the proceeds from her best-selling illustrated storybook to a hospice, an ALTRUISTIC gesture that has helped hundreds of very sick little children.
According to the BBC, ALTRUISTIC organ donations in the U.K. have risen by almost 300 percent in the past year.
Although the young actress is often praised for her charity work, there are skeptics who say that she is only after media exposure, and that her intentions are not truly ALTRUISTIC.