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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, The Bilingual Advantage, 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.
The Bilingual Advantage
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson ELEVEN: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK
Today, the world has more bilingual or multilingual people than ever before. Research suggests that up to 66 percent of global children are being raised in bilingual households. Even in the United States, which is widely considered to be monolingual, some 20 percent of children over the age of five speak a language other than English at home. All this is encouraging news, because in addition to facilitating cross-cultural communication, the ability to speak, read, and understand more than one language comes with a host of practical advantages.
A new UK study indicates that children fluent in two languages learn better in noisy classrooms than monolingual pupils. The research involved forty children, aged seven to ten, from two primary schools in Cambridge. Of these, half spoke only English, while the other half spoke English plus another language: Russian, Italian, Dutch, Polish, or Spanish. The children were shown two animals on a split computer screen: one animal was on the left side, the other on the right. Researchers then had the children listen to recorded statements describing one animal doing something bad to the other. Participants were asked to identify the “naughty animal.” As the descriptive statements were being spoken, another voice in another language broke in with irrelevant comments. The bilingual children were not as distracted by the interruptions as the monolingual children and were much better able to identify correctly. And the older they were, the better they performed.
The authors of the study suggested that the older bilingual children performed better because they have more years of experience using two languages and have honed their ability to filter out one language while using another. Psycholinguist Robert Filippi says that the results showed “the importance of learning a second language early.” Primary schools “are remarkably noisy,” he added. “In such an environment, the ability to filter out auditory interference is particularly important.”
Bilingualism also improves problem-solving skills and stimulates creative thinking, as a test conducted among 121 nine-year-olds in Scotland and Sardinia, Italy, makes clear. Researchers found that the 62 bilingual children among the participants were “significantly more successful in the tasks set for them” than the monolingual children. The test included such exercises as reproducing patterns of colored blocks, orally repeating a series of numbers, giving clear definitions of words, and mentally solving math problems. Dr. Fraser Lauchlan, a lecturer at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, said that bilingual children “demonstrate a clear aptitude for selective attention and a superior ability to filter and focus on information which is important.”
Related studies have shown that bilingual children who use their second language regularly are better at prioritizing tasks and multi-tasking than their monolingual counterparts. And when bilingual children are exposed to or immersed in a new culture, they learn the local language much more quickly. These and other similar studies clearly demonstrate the importance and benefits of bilingualism in today’s increasingly globalized and competitive world.
Today’s questions will be MULTIPLE CHOICE and based on LOGICAL INFERENCE and your understanding of key vocabulary words.
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. When the article states that the U.S. is widely considered to be monolingual, it implies that most Americans
a) speak more than one language.
b) speak only one language.
c) are poor at language learning.
d) are interested in learning a second language.
2. According to a new study conducted in the U.K., children who are fluent in two languages learn better in noisy environments. A child is considered fluent when
a) he or she knows a few important words and phrases in a second language.
b) he or she can read but not speak two languages.
c) he or she uses body language and simple everyday phrases to communicate in a second language.
d) he or she are able to communicate freely and express their thoughts and feelings well in two languages.
3. The expression “the naughty animal” refers to
a) the animal that appeared on the left side of the computer screen.
b) the animal that appeared on the right side of the computer screen.
c) the animal on the computer screen that did something bad to the other animal on the screen.
d) the animal that was treated badly by the other animal.
4. When the article states that bilingual children were not as distracted by the interruptions as the monolingual children, it implies that
a) the monolingual children were not paying close attention.
b) the bilingual children are better able to focus on the task at hand.
c) the bilingual children are better listeners.
d) the monolingual children did not understand the instructions.
5. According to the research, older, bilingual children are better at filtering out one language while using another because
a) they have more years of experience using two languages.
b) they use both sides of their brain.
c) they are more focused, even under pressure.
d) they don’t let their minds wander as much as younger children do.
6. The ability to filter out auditory interference is particularly important in primary schools because
a) primary schools are remarkably noisy.
b) many teachers are soft-spoken.
c) children from different cultural backgrounds often share a classroom.
d) there are no older bilingual children to help the younger children.
7. Listen to this sentence from the passage.
“In such an environment, the ability to filter out auditory interference is particularly important.”
The nearest synonym for the noun interference as used in the sentence is
8. Listen to this sentence from the passage.
Bilingual children “demonstrate a clear aptitude for selective attention and a superior ability to filter and focus on information which is important.”
The closest definition of the adjective selective as used in the sentence is
a) affecting some things but not others.
b) being able to choose carefully.
c) having excellent taste.
d) requiring special skills.
9. When the article states that bilingual children are better at prioritizing tasks and multi-tasking than their counterparts, who or what are the “counterparts” they are referring to?
a) other bilingual children.
b) studies involving bilingual children
c) monolingual children.
d) second and third languages.
10. As suggested in the article, bilingual children are able to learn a third language more quickly than monolingual children when
a) they are exposed to or immersed in a new culture.
b) they take a new language subject at school.
c) they study with other bilingual children.
d) there are no auditory distractions.
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 ELEVEN 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.
All this is encouraging news, because in addition to facilitating cross-cultural communication, the ability to speak, read, and understand more than one language comes with a host of practical advantages.
In the sentence above, FACILITATE is a verb that means to make an action or process possible or easier. Synonyms include make possible, enable, aid, and promote.
Although many schools are switching to Montessori-type educational practices, we believe that traditional, structured teaching FACILITATES learning in most pupils.
Discussion points are listed at the back of the book to help FACILITATE dialogue in the classroom.
Donations from the private sector will FACILTIATE efforts to develop drugs and vaccines to help treat Ebola.
As the descriptive statements were being spoken, another voice in another language broke in with irrelevant comments.
Something that is IRRELEVANT is not important or connected with something. Unconnected, not pertinent, inapplicable, inconsequential, and unrelated are some near equivalents.
I’ve heard that Mr. Dorman was forced to retire from teaching because he would often break into IRRELEVANT discussions about fighter planes and submarines while teaching algebra.
Please note that offensive, disruptive, or IRRELEVANT comments will be deleted by the website administrator.
The judge ruled that evidence presented by the witness is IRRELEVANT to the case.
The authors of the study suggested that the older bilingual children performed better because they have more years of experience using two languages and have honed their ability to filter out one language while using another.
In the sentence above, the verb HONE means to develop and improve something, such as a skill, over a period of time. Refine, polish, and improve are some closely related terms.
Your use of dialogue in this creative writing piece is truly wonderful Jenna, but you’ll need to HONE your grammar and punctuation if you want to submit your story to the Young Author’s Club.
Jerry says he HONED his debating skills in high school, but I reckon he’s had a bit of private coaching too.
Dennis spent his summer HONING his body at the gym so he could compete in the Mr. Muscles competition.
HONE also means to make a blade sharper using a whetstone.
To keep your knives sharp, never put them in the dishwater, and HONE them after every use.
Dr. Fraser Lauchlan, an honorary lecturer at Strathclyde University in Glasgow, said that bilingual children “demonstrate a clear aptitude for selective attention and a superior ability to filter and focus on information which is important.”
If you have an APTITUDE for something, it means that you have a natural talent or ability to do that thing. Some synonyms include talent, gift, flair, skill, ability, and proficiency.
Evie showed an APTITUDE for math and problem solving when she was only six years old.
It was while Masaki was studying abroad that he discovered his APTITUDE for translating English to Japanese.
Applicants for the section manager position must have a strong technical APTITUDE, a creative drive, and a positive attitude.
Further studies have shown that bilingual children who use their second language regularly are better at prioritizing tasks and multi-tasking than their monolingual counterparts.
To PRIORITIZE means to put tasks, problems, and so on, in order of importance so that you can deal with the most important item first.
Ben’s teacher told us on parent’s evening that Ben needs to work on managing his time more efficiently and PRIORITIZING his workload.
Since we are running short on time this term, perhaps we should PRIORITIZE lessons and focus on what students will find most useful for the final exam.
My dad always taught me to PRIORITIZE clear goals and devise a strategy to accomplish them.
And when bilingual children are exposed to or immersed in a new culture, they are more likely to learn the local language quicker than children who don’t speak a second language.
In the sentence above, IMMERSE means to become deeply involved with a new culture because you are living in that particular country. More generally, IMMERSE means to involve yourself deeply in a particular activity or interest.
While in China, try to IMMERSE yourself in the local culture by visiting markets and pop up restaurants, rather than just the main tourist attractions.
Yoko and Doug have been sitting on the sofa, IMMERSED in conversation for the past hour.
Derek IMMERSES himself in every role he gets and really takes on the persona of the character he is playing.
IMMERSE also means to put someone or something in water or other liquid so that they are completely covered.
Peeling blanched tomatoes can be tricky, but if you IMMERSE them in ice-cold water immediately after taking them out of boiling water, the skin just falls right off.