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Entrance exam season is right around the corner, and we’re here to make sure you are 100 percent ready for it. For the next several weeks, we will be providing you with additional listening material that you can use to practice and improve your aural comprehension skills.
Each week, you will listen to a short passage on a different topic—one that is interesting and useful in its own right, but one that is also the type of topic test-makers love to include on their exams. Then, after listening to the passage, you will answer ten comprehension questions. Before we listen to today’s passage, Under the Sea, here are a few tips:
- It goes without saying that you should always listen to the passage carefully. Give it your undivided attention. That means: no outside distractions. (A passage-only track is available on the KA Wordcast website so you can listen to the passage a second or third time.)
- You can make brief notes of key points and details, but don’t let your note taking distract you from your listening.
- Key vocabulary words are explained in the bonus track. Each key word is clearly defined and accompanied by common synonyms and antonyms as well as sample sentences that show you how the word is used, and how to use it. What better way to augment your active vocabulary!
- The comprehension questions “test” three general areas: FACTUAL CONTENT, LOGICAL INFERENCE, and PERSONAL JUDGMENT. (These are explained on the website and are available to download.) The questions come in three different types or formats: MULTIPLE CHOICE, TRUE OR FALSE, and SHORT ANSWER. The question format will vary, so be sure to listen to the instructions carefully before you answer the questions.
PDF DOWNLOAD KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson 10 UNDER THE SEA
Under the Sea
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson TEN: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK
Man has always been fascinated with the sea. Countless artists, musicians, and poets have made it the subject of some of their greatest works. Ships and sailors have been navigating the “Seven Seas” for millennia. But what we know about the oceans is still largely superficial—limited to the surface and a relatively few meters below it. Much of what lies deep beneath the waves is still uncharted territory. But it is a chart that man’s instinctive curiosity and advancing technology are slowly but surely filling in.
Modern, scientific deep-sea exploration only truly got underway in the mid-nineteenth century. In 1864, Norwegian researchers obtained a sample of a stalked sea-lily at a depth of 3,109 meters. In the 1870s, the British government’s Challenger expedition discovered more than 4,700 new species of marine organisms. These and other studies whetted our appetite for more knowledge of the “deep” and accelerated efforts to develop equipment that would let us “get to the bottom of it.”
What we are most intrigued by are deep-sea creatures, those organisms that live 300 feet or more beneath the ocean’s surface. At this depth, there is very little or no sunlight, and the deeper you go, the more hostile the environment becomes. Any creature that can survive at such depths has had to evolve ways to adapt to the extreme pressure, severe cold, absolute darkness, and various other harsh conditions. Take the dragonfish, for example. This small but ferocious predator, with an outsized head and dozens of tiny piranha-like fangs, inhabits the world’s tropical oceans at depths of 1,500 meters. To survive in the dark, it has a special light-producing organ that it uses like a fishing lure, flashing it on and off and waving it back and forth to attract prey. When an unsuspecting fish is tempted to take a look, it gets snapped up in the dragonfish’s powerful jaws.
Then there’s the super-ugly blobfish. Not much is known about this gruesome creature, but scientists are eagerly studying the few specimens that have been caught. What they’ve found is remarkable. The blobfish is little more than a muscle-free gelatin mass with a density of slightly less than water. This extraordinary physiognomy allows it to withstand great pressures and to suck up any edible matter that happens to float past.
Despite these ongoing efforts, so far only a fraction of the seafloor has been fully explored. The good news is that new deep-sea species are being discovered and categorized after each dive. In 2012, Titanic director James Cameron dove to the bottom of the Pacific’s Mariana Trench for his film Deepsea Challenge 3D. He and his team captured many hours of video footage of previously unknown deep-sea life, including a sea cucumber living some eleven kilometers below the surface. “I love exploration,” Cameron told the Australian Guardian. “The deeper you go, the higher the likelihood I might see something that nobody’s ever seen before.” Which is what exploration has always been about.
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be SHORT ANSWER based on FACTUAL CONTENT and LOGICAL INFERENCE.
Listening comprehension questions fall into three main types or areas to be tested, as explained below:
- The answer is specifically stated as a detail in the text.
If the text reads, “John Birks Gillespie was born in 1917 in Cheraw, South Carolina,” you might be asked where Gillespie was born or in which year was he born.
- The answer may not be directly stated in the text, but can be understood or inferred from the details given. A direct hint may be given, from which you would have to work out the most logical answer (usually based on a MULTIPLE CHOICE or TRUE OR FALSE question).
For example, if the text describes a “hot and muggy afternoon,” you might be asked what season it is. If the text reads, “In 1872, an abandoned railroad track in the mountains of Pennsylvania became the first roller coaster ride in America,” you may be asked a question like:
“The railroad tracks …
- were made of poor quality steel.
- had not been used for a while.
- were dug up and replaced with roller-coaster tracks.
- were too damaged to use.
You must use the hints given in the passage to work out the most likely answer. In this case, the answer, based on “hot and muggy,” to the first question would be “summer,” and the answer to the second question would be B, with the hint being the word “abandoned.”
- The answer is not directly stated in the text and you might have to read more deeply or “between the lines.”
You may be asked to describe a character’s feelings, reactions, or intentions. For example, if the question is, “How do you know Joanna felt sad on the last day of school?” you would have to find evidence in the descriptive language the author uses. Perhaps Joanna had tears on her cheeks, or she was walking with her head hanging low, or perhaps she had a frown on her face.
Listen to the question carefully and write your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
1. How have artists, musicians, and poets expressed their fascination with the sea?
2. Why is our knowledge of the ocean still largely limited to the surface and just a few meters below?
3. What did the British government’s Challenger expedition discover during the 1870s?
4. What is a deep-sea creature by definition?
5. What hostile environmental conditions have deep-sea creatures had to adapt to in order to survive the ocean’s depths?
6. Where are you more likely to find a dragonfish, in the South Pacific or North Atlantic?
7. How does a dragonfish lure an unsuspecting victim into its powerful jaws?
8. What extraordinary physiognomic feature of the blobfish allows it to withstand great pressure?
9. Why did Titanic director James Cameron take hours of footage at the bottom of the Mariana Trench?
10. Can some species of deep-sea organism survive depths of ten kilometers or more?
Now that you have completed today’s listening comprehension exercise, it’s time to check your answers and see how well you did. Answers to today’s listening comprehension questions will follow immediately after the closing jingle , so please stay tuned in.
Listen to the Listening Comprehension Questions and Answers HERE:
You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.
KA WORDCAST: Listen Up! Lesson TEN KEY VOCABULARY
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.
In the 1870s, the British government’s Challenger expedition discovered more than 4,700 new species of marine organisms.
EXPEDITION is a noun that refers to a trip undertaken by a group of people who have a particular purpose or interest, usually to find out about a place that is not well known. Synonyms include journey, voyage, undertaking, mission, quest, and operation.
Dr. Martin is planning an EXPEDITION to the Iguazu National Park in Argentina to study the elusive jaguar.
The very first EXPEDITION that famed polar explorer Roald Amundsen led was a search for the Northwest Passage in 1903.
EXPEDITION can also refer to the group making the journey, as in:
On average, a climbing EXPEDITION to the peak of Mount Everest costs about $60,000 per person.
The ten-man North Pole EXPEDITION is scheduled to return at the end of September, provided there are no mishaps along the way.
Six members of the Matterhorn EXPEDITION have been reported missing after being caught in an avalanche.
EXPEDITION is also used (often ironically or humorously) to refer to more mundane (everyday) situations, as in:
This December, rather than going on a mini-cruise to the Canary Islands as we usually do, my sister Lily and I are going to Germany on a Christmas-shopping EXPEDITION.
In the 1870s, the British government’s Challenger expedition discovered more than 4,700 new species of marine organisms.
An ORGANISM is a living thing such as an animal, plant, or single-celled life form, especially one that is very small.
When scientists discover a new ORGANISM, for classification purposes they compare it to other existing living samples.
New research has suggested that “methanogens,” which many scientists consider one of the simplest and oldest ORGANISMS on Earth, could survive on Mars.
Parasites are ORGANISMS such as tapeworms or viruses that benefit from living on or in another living creature.
At this depth, there is very little or no sunlight, and the deeper you go, the more hostile the environment becomes.
In the sentence above, HOSTILE means unfavorable to life or growth. Synonyms include adverse, alien, and inhospitable.
Some of the world’s most HOSTILE conditions are found in the super-arid Sistan Basin of Afghanistan.
Far from being a HOSTILE environment for flora and fauna, the soil near a volcano is often highly fertile, since the volcanic ash is full of nutrients and acts as a fertilizer.
The adjective HOSTILE can also describe people who are unfriendly and filled with ill will. Synonyms include unkind, belligerent, and antagonistic.
The Education Secretary faced the HOSTILE student protesters and tried to reason with them, but she was shouted and forced to leave.
Any comedian knows how unpredictable audiences can be. Some are receptive and will laugh at anything, while others are openly HOSTILE and filled with hecklers.
HOSTILE also describes an enemy during wartime or other conflict.
With the town surrounded by HOSTILE troops, the townspeople had no option but to settle in for a siege and await rescue.
Intelligence agents believe that there are HOSTILE rebel forces hiding out in the mountains surrounding the capital, and that attack is imminent.
Any creature that can survive at such depths has had to evolve ways to adapt to extreme pressure, severe cold, absolute darkness, and various other harsh conditions.
In the sentence above, EVOLVE is a verb most often used by scientists to talk about living things that change over time from one form to another.
Paleontologists now agree that modern birds EVOLVED from dinosaurs.
Though many of us believe that human beings have stopped EVOLVING, that is simply not the case; we are changing and developing all the time, albeit nearly imperceptibly.
EVOLVE can also be used in general writing or speech to mean to develop gradually, especially from a simple to a more complex or improved form. Synonyms include grow, advance, progress, and change over time. It is usually used intransitively, as in the following:
From its beginnings in the early eighties as a large, cumbersome instrument, the mobile phone has now EVOLVED into the small, flat, pocket device that we all know and love today.
I am reporting live from NASA headquarters, where the situation is EVOLVING rapidly as data flows in from the Mars probe, which has just landed on the surface of the Red Planet.
EVOLVE can also be used as a transitive verb with a direct object, as in:
We have now EVOLVED a system that allows people to register as organ donors on a central database so that matches can be made quickly when organs become available.
I think it was Toyota that first EVOLVED the “just-in-time” manufacturing method whereby parts are brought to the production line only as needed.
This small but ferocious predator, with an outsized head and dozens of tiny piranha-like fangs, inhabits the world’s tropical oceans at depths of 1,500 meters.
The verb INHABIT means to live in a particular place. Synonyms include occupy, populate, colonize, reside, settle, or lodge in or on.
Though such sightings are rare, some lucky visitors to Yellowstone National Park may catch a glimpse of the dozen or so bobcats that still INHABIT the park.
Today, descendants of the area’s original Mayan people continue to INHABIT the Yucatan Peninsula in southeastern Mexico.
INHABIT can also be used figuratively to mean to be present in or to occupy in some manner or form.
There’s a romantic, even sentimental quality that INHABITS all of Donna’s poetry, though she herself can be quite cold and aloof.
Not much is known about this gruesome creature, but scientists are eagerly studying the few specimens that have been caught.
Something that is GRUESOME is extremely unpleasant or causes repulsion. Some synonyms include hideous, repulsive, repugnant, horrendous, and abhorrent.
Don’t you think your Zombie costume is a bit too GRUESOME for a school Halloween party? Why don’t you tone down the blood a bit?
Should television news reports be allowed to show GRUESOME scenes of death and violence during prime time?
With symptoms such as bleeding from the eyes, Ebola may be GRUESOME, but compared to malaria, which kills more than half a million people a year, Ebola is still not the biggest threat.
PDF DOWNLOAD KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson 10 KEY VOCABULARY