LESSON TWO HERE!
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In each Listen and Learn broadcast, we present you with additional material that will give your listening comprehension skills and confidence a big boost. Each week, you will listen to a short passage on a different topic. The topics are not only interesting and useful in their own right; they are the very topics that test-makers love to include on their exams. After you listen to the passage, you will take a short quiz—ten comprehension questions that will make sure you understand and retain the information and ideas contained in the passage. Today’s passage is entitled Mankind’s Giant Leap. But before we get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.
- Always give the passage your complete attention. That means: no outside distractions, no interruptions, no day dreaming! (A passage-only track is available on the KA Wordcast website so you can listen to the passage as many times as you need.)
- It’s a good idea to make brief notes of key points and details. But don’t let your note-taking distract you from your listening. You don’t want to get so caught up in writing that you miss an important point or detail!
- Key vocabulary words from the passage are explained in the bonus track. Each word is spelled out, clearly defined, and accompanied by its most common synonyms and antonyms. Sample sentences show you how the word is used—and how to use it. What better way to build up your active vocabulary!
- The ten listening comprehension questions that follow the passage “test” three general areas or listening skills: FACTUAL CONTENT, LOGICAL INFERENCE, and PERSONAL JUDGMENT. (These are explained in detail on the website and are available to download.) The questions come in three different types: MULTIPLE CHOICE, TRUE OR FALSE, and SHORT ANSWER. The type of question varies, so be sure to listen to the instructions carefully and to know what you are being asked to do.
Mankind’s Giant Leap
Listen to Listen and Learn!
Lesson Two PASSAGE ONLY track:
On November 23, 2014, the three-man crew of the Soyuz TMA-15 M flight to the International Space Station blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. No television cameras recorded the event, and only a handful of spectators were on hand to watch as the rocket left the launch pad and soared into space. It was just another mission, no more special than the flight two months prior, or the dozens of others before that, proof that these days, manned space travel has become routine—as common as a climbing expedition up Mount Everest, say, or a sightseeing cruise to Antarctica.
Just sixty years ago, however, the idea of humans traveling into space was still little more than a far-off dream. But not for long. In the 1950’s, the United States and the former Soviet Union became embroiled in the “Space Race,” a technological and ideological competition to show the world the superiority of their respective political and economic systems
The Soviets took the early lead in the race when, in 1961, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin rode the Vostok 1 rocket into orbit around the earth for a one-hour and forty-eight minute journey. Americans were shocked and frightened: was Russia really going to “beat” us, they wanted to know? No way, said newly elected US President John F. Kennedy. He decided then and there to show America’s might by proclaiming that America would put a man on the moon within a decade. NASA—the National Aeronautics and Space Administration—accepted Kennedy’s bold challenge and made it its mission to have an American walking on the lunar surface before the end of the 1960’s.
And that is exactly what happened. On July 16, 1969, the Apollo 11 spacecraft roared away from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center and headed for the moon. Hordes of people crowded the highways and beaches near the launch site and millions more witnessed the momentous launch on TV. Three days later, on July 20, astronaut Neil Armstrong and fellow crewmember Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin flew the Apollo’s lunar module, which had been equipped with cameras to allow live broadcasting, down to the moon’s surface.
More than 600 million people around the globe were glued to their TV sets as Armstrong became the first human to set foot on the moon, saying: “This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” With these immortal words, Armstrong, in effect, ended the Space Race and set the precedent for a new era of cooperation, not competition, in space exploration. Today, manned space travel may seem routine, but in “everyday” flights like that of the Soyuz TMA-15 M, our dreams of unlocking the secrets of the universe are still very much alive.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
Listen to Listen and Learn Lesson Two LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS ONLY track:
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be SHORT ANSWER and based on FACTUAL CONTENT. 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. How many people were aboard the flight to the International Space Station that blasted off from Kazakhstan in November, 2014?
2. Which two countries were involved in the “Space Race” of the 1950’s?
3. In which year did cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin become the first human to orbit the earth?
4. How long did Gagarin’s mission in outer space last?
5. Why did President John F. Kennedy proclaim that America would land a man to the moon by the end of the 1960s?
6. What does NASA stand for?
7. Where did the Apollo 11 spacecraft blast off from on July 16, 1969?
8. How many days did it take for Apollo 11 and its crew to reach the moon and land on its surface?
9. What was the name of the Apollo 11 crewmember who, together with Neil Armstrong, flew the lunar module down to the moon’s surface?
10. What did Neil Armstrong say when he became the first human being to set foot on the moon?
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 TWO
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.
No television cameras recorded the event, and only a handful of SPECTATORS were on hand to watch as the rocket left the launch pad and soared into space.
A SPECTATOR is a person who watches an event such as an outdoor concert or sports game or match. Some possible synonyms (though each has a slightly different nuance and/or usage) include onlooker, observer, witness, audience (member), fan, and bystander.
Nearly 55,000 SPECTATORS filled Safeco Field on Monday night to watch the Seattle Mariners play an interleague game against the LA Dodgers.
Dozens of SPECTATORS were seriously injured when a section of the arena’s bleachers collapsed during the state’s high school basketball final.
Whipsnade Zoo’s beloved California sea lions, Dominic, Lara, and Bailey, are used to performing in front of hundreds of cheering SPECTATORS.
Former United States President Gerald Ford once humorously quipped, “I know I’m getting better at golf because I’m hitting fewer SPECTATORS.”
It was just another MISSION, no more special than the flight two months prior, or the dozens of others before that …
In the sentence above, the noun MISSION refers to an expedition into space. More generally, a MISSION is an official assignment given to a person or a group of people to do something, usually by traveling abroad. Expedition, journey, commission, and operation are some near equivalents.
In the popular science-fiction movie, three astronauts on a MISSION to collect mineral samples from a distant planet are abandoned when the rest of the crew are killed by hostile aliens.
Shrek and Donkey were sent on a MISSION to rescue Princess Fiona from the fire-breathing dragon that held her captive.
Local authorities called off the rescue MISSION for three missing mountain climbers when a blizzard swept through the area overnight.
A MISSION also refers to the people who are on a MISSION.
The President’s MISSION to the global-warming conference was made up of the country’s leading environmental scientists.
In religion, especially in Christianity, a MISSION is a calling to go out into the world to spread and teach the faith. The people who are involved in this type of MISSION are called MISSIONARIES.
Our church is raising money to establish a MISSION school in Kwazulu Natal.
Paul worked as a Mormon MISSIONARY in Japan for about two years.
A MISSION can also be a strongly felt personal goal, ambition, or calling to do or accomplish something important and permanent.
I have made it my MISSION to get fit and to walk 2015 miles in 2015.
Environmental activist Victoria Husband is on a MISSION to save the forests of British Columbia.
Facebook’s MISSION statement is to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.”
In British English, a “MISSION” is a difficult, laborious, or inconvenient task. This somewhat slangy expression is equivalent to “struggle” or “chore” in American English.
Going to the shops can be such a MISSION with two young children in tow, which is why I prefer to do my shopping online these days.
It’s such a MISSION for me to get my ten-year-old to sit down and do his homework every evening.
… proof that these days, manned space travel has become ROUTINE—as common as a climbing expedition up Mount Everest, say, or a sightseeing cruise to Antarctica.
In the sentence above, ROUTINE is an adjective that means normal or without variety. Something that is ROUTINE is performed as a standard procedure rather than for any special or unusual reason.
When I was in junior high school, the principal conducted ROUTINE locker inspections every Thursday morning looking for prohibited items.
We were all shocked to learn that Brody had died of a heart attack during a ROUTINE operation to have a cyst removed.
ROUTINELY is the adverb form of ROUTINE and is used like this:
ROUTINELY visiting your dentist and having your teeth cleaned every six months or so is a sure way to keep your teeth healthy and cavity-free.
Visitors to the White House are ROUTINELY checked for weapons before entering the building.
As a noun, ROUTINE is the normal order and regular way in which you do things.
I find it especially difficult to get back into a ROUTINE after a long school holiday.
If you want to drop a few pounds, why don’t you make exercise a part of your daily ROUTINE?
I’m fed up with my daily ROUTINE! I need to go somewhere warm and exotic to recharge my batteries.
A ROUTINE also refers to the things (jokes, songs, dance steps) that make up a performance.
Lynda’s Bollywood-style dance ROUTINE was the highlight of the school’s talent show.
It took newcomer Sara some time to learn the ROUTINE, but when she finally did, she really outshone the rest of the pep squad.
My first gig as a stand-up comic is tomorrow night. May I rehearse my ROUTINE with you?
He decided then and there to show America’s MIGHT by proclaiming that America would put a man on the moon within a decade.
Although MIGHT is commonly used as a modal verb, in the sentence above, MIGHT is a noun that means great strength, power, or energy.
After accidentally closing the bathroom door shut behind me, I pushed and pulled with all my MIGHT, but it just wouldn’t open. I was stuck in there for nearly thirty minutes!
In a battle known historically as Custer’s Last Stand, three Native American tribes fought against and defeated the MIGHT of the US Army, led by General George Armstrong Custer.
MIGHTY is the adjective form of MIGHT and means very strong and powerful or large and impressive.
Wallace struck Donovan with a MIGHTY blow in the fifth round of their heavyweight title bout, sending Donovan to the canvas.
Many of Mark Twain’s most memorable stories are set along the banks of the MIGHTY Mississippi River.
HORDES of people crowded the highways and beaches near the launch site and millions more witnessed the momentous launch on TV.
A HORDE is a large crowd of people, often with negative connotations as in the last two samples below. Throng and mob are the nearest synonyms.
Participants in the Zombie Apocalypse Adventure have to find their way out of an old, abandoned shipyard while battling HORDES of zombies.
Harry Potter fans turned up in HORDES to catch a glimpse of the Hogwarts Express train that was being delivered to the Warner Brothers Studio lot in Hertfordshire.
No matter what time of year you visit London, there are HORDES of tourists at every attraction, so be prepared to do a lot of standing in line.
I went to see the Cezanne exhibit at the Museum of Western Art, but because of the HORDES of visitors, I wasn’t able to get close to any of the paintings.
HORDE is often confused with HOARD, which refers to a collection or an accumulation of objects. Synonyms include cache and stockpile.
After he went away to college, I found my son’s HOARD of FIFA trading cards in a cardboard box under his bed.
As a verb, HOARD means to collect and to keep a large amount of something, often to the point where the collection becomes unwieldy and out of control. Squirrel away and stockpile are the nearest synonyms. A HOARDER is someone who collects and keeps a large amount of things, often irrationally.
“Mom! Charlie is HOARDING all of the Halloween candy in his bedroom again!”
The weatherman on TV insisted that there was no need to HOARD food, water, and other supplies, as the snow was expected to melt away in a day or two.
My husband has been HOARDING newspapers and magazines and catalogues for so long that the garage is now so full of junk that there’s no room to put our car in it.
When I married my wife, I had no idea she would turn out to be a HOARDER who never threw anything away.
With these immortal words, Armstrong, in effect, ended the Space Race and set the PRECEDENT for a new era of cooperation, not competition, in space exploration.
PRECEDENT is a noun that refers to an action or decision that has happened or been made in the past—a new way of doing things that paves the way for future actions and decisions. Model, standard, and yardstick are some near equivalents.
Clara’s excellent three-minute speech about active volcanoes around the world set the PRECEDENT for the rest of third-grade class.
Electric vehicle maker Tesla’s Supercharger stations have set a PRECEDENT for all electric car manufacturers.
Going against PRECEDENT, the new restaurant no longer allows customers to tip the wait staff.
The noun PRECEDENT forms the basis of the very commonly used adjective UNPRECEDENTED, which describes something that has never been done or seen or known before.
In an UNPRECEDENTED move, the Prime Minister made a full and unconditional apology for his nation’s wartime actions.
The school district’s decision to force teachers to stop assigning homework is UNPRECEDENTED as far as I know.
PDF DOWNLOAD: KA WORDCAST Listen and Learn LESSON TWO KEY VOCABULARY