KA WORDCAST: Listen Up! Lesson 13 SOLAR ROADWAYS

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Lesson THIRTEEN HERE!

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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, Solar Roadways, 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 13 SOLAR ROADWAYS

 

How SOLAR ROADWAYS might appear in the future.

Solar Roadways

Listen to Listen Up! Lesson THIRTEEN: PASSAGE ONLY TRACK

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There are untold billions of stars in the universe, with untold numbers of planets orbiting them.  But as far as we know, Earth is the only planet that supports human life—or life of any kind.  Yet we humans are slowly but surely destroying our home.  The earth is heating up at an alarming rate, and, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, mankind is the culprit.  Burning oil, coal, and other fossil fuels releases greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, forming a warming “blanket” around the earth.  This has caused surface temperatures to rise steadily since the mid-20th century, with the steepest increases coming in the past decade.

Global warming is already damaging agriculture, ecosystems, and human health in perceptible ways worldwide.  If we continue along this destructive path, the worst effects of climate change—severe, adverse weather conditions, higher sea levels and coastal flooding, major crop loss, increased species extinction—are still to come. To forestall these life-threatening changes, we need to start cutting fossil-fuel emissions immediately and, over the next two or three decades, reduce emissions rates by 40 to 70 percent.  “We cannot play a waiting game where we bet on future technological miracles to emerge and save the day,” warned Christina Figueres, head of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

But what if one such “technological miracle” was already being developed?  What if it was only a matter of time before it could be put to practical use?

Eight years ago, Julie and Scott Brusaw started a bold project that they believe could turn America’s roads and highways into a clean, renewable energy source.  The couple has invented a glass-topped panel outfitted with solar cells and LED bulbs that could be embedded in or applied to a road’s surface.  Once installed, these panels would make the road capable of generating electricity for everyday household and industrial use.  Though still in development, the panels would be rugged enough to withstand the weight of big trucks and heavy traffic.

Scott, an electrical engineer, envisions a multitude of advantages that solar-paneled roadways could offer.  In addition to housing solar cells to collect energy, the panels would be equipped with multi-colored LEDs that would “paint” road lines and warning signs from beneath for safer night-time driving.  By adding a heating element to the surface layer (like the defrosting wires in the rear windows of cars) roads would be kept free of snow and ice build-up.

What’s more, such “Solar Roadways” would allow electric vehicles to be charged anywhere, giving them the same driving range as gasoline-powered cars, at little or no cost to the driver.  This added benefit, the Brusaws predict, would encourage people to scrap their gas-guzzlers and switch to “green” electric cars, eventually making internal-combustion engines obsolete—and relieving us of our devastating dependence on fossil fuels.  Solar-powered roadways may not be a panacea for all the world’s problems, but they hold great promise for paving the way to a cooler, more sustainable future.

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Today’s questions will be SHORT ANSWER and based on FACTUAL CONTENT, 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:

FACTUAL CONTENT

  • 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.

LOGICAL INFERENCE

  • 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 …

  1. were made of poor quality steel.
  2. had not been used for a while.
  3. were dug up and replaced with roller-coaster tracks.
  4. 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.”

PERSONAL JUDGMENT

  • 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. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says that mankind is the culprit behind global warming?  How did we cause it?

2. The earth has been heating up steadily since the mid-20th century.  When have surface temperatures increased most rapidly?

3. When the article states that global warming is damaging ecosystems, what is it referring to?

4. What might be the effect of global warming on the world’s oceans?

5.  What must we do in the next two to three decades to ensure that we don’t experience the most destructive effects of climate change?

6. What do Julie and Scott Brusaw envision for their Solar Roadways invention?

7. How would the glass-topped panels that are embedded in roadways generate electricity?

8. When the article states that the panels would be rugged enough to withstand the weight of big trucks and heavy traffic, what does it imply?

9. How might the panels make driving safer during the winter months and in colder climates?

10. How could Solar Roadways eventually make gas-guzzling, internal-combustion-powered vehicles obsolete?

 

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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. 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:

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You may also download the lesson in PDF format to keep for your reference.

PDF DOWNLOAD KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson 13 LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS and ANSWERS

 

 

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KA WORDCAST:  Listen Up!  Lesson THIRTEEN 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.

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Brazilian rain forests are disappearing at an ALARMING rate.

1. ALARMING

The earth is heating up at an alarming rate, and, according to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, mankind is the culprit. 

ALARMING is an adjective that means causing worry and fear.  Worrying, disconcerting, startling, and disturbing are the nearest synonyms.

According to a government study, the number of American men and women who are considered “clinically” obese has climbed at an ALARMING rate over the past decade.

Despite efforts to curb deforestation, Brazilian rainforests are disappearing at an ALARMING rate.

The high unemployment rate in the area has given rise to an ALARMING increase in petty crime and theft. 

ALARMINGLY is the adverb form of ALARMING.

Miss Wheatley took Rosie to the school nurse after noticing that the little girl looked ALARMINGLY ill after coming in from recess. 

Housing prices have risen ALARMINGLY in the past five years, making it nearly impossible for first-time buyers to purchase a home.  

 

 

Global warming causes ADVERSE weather conditions.

2. ADVERSE

If we continue along this destructive path, the worst effects of climate change—severe, adverse weather conditions, higher sea levels and coastal flooding, major crop loss, increased species extinction—are still to come.

The adjective ADVERSE means not likely to produce good results; in other words, negative and destructive.  Synonyms include harmful, unfavorable, dangerous, and detrimental.

Even over-the-counter-medicines can have ADVERSE side effects if not taken properly, so be sure to read the labels carefully.

Because the UK’s weather is so unpredictable, athletes taking part in the London marathon are advised to train in and be prepared for ADVERSE conditions.

Studies have shown that long-term shift work can have ADVERSE effects on the brain, including impaired thinking and increased memory loss. 

 

Visit your dentist regularly to FORESTALL tooth decay.

3. FORESTALL

To forestall these life-threatening changes, we need to start cutting fossil-fuel emissions immediately and, over the next two or three decades, reduce emission rates by 40 to 70 percent.

FORESTALL means to prevent something (usually something bad) by taking action first. Thwart, avert, fend off, and stave off are some good substitutes.

Regular visits to the dentist and daily brushing and flossing are proven methods for FORESTALLING cavities and tooth decay. 

Our plans to go to bed early and get a decent night’s sleep were FORESTALLED when my daughter woke up at midnight with a high temperature.

To FORESTALL rumors and sensational tabloid exaggeration, the aging film star held a press conference to announce his retirement. 

 

The Grand Canyon was more grand than I’d ENVISIONED.

4. ENVISION

Scott, an electrical engineer, envisions a multitude of advantages that solar-paneled roadways could offer. 

To ENVISION means to imagine what a situation might or could be like in the future. Visualize, envisage, foresee, expect, and intend are some near synonyms.

Larissa has ENVISIONED attending Oxford University since she was ten years old, and now, through hard work and dedication, she has made that dream a reality.

Our trip to Arizona made me realize that the Grand Canyon was much grander than I’d ever ENVISIONED.  It was truly magnificent.

Jayden has published two popular children’s books, something neither he nor his family ENVISIONED he would be capable of.

English businessman Richard Branson ENVISIONS a time in the not-so-distant future when anyone with the passion to do so can enjoy space travel. 

  

 

Vinyl records have been rendered OBSOLETE.

5. OBSOLETE

This added benefit, the Brusaws predict, would encourage people to scrap their gas-guzzlers and switch to “green” electric cars, eventually making internal-combustion engines obsolete …

Something that is OBSOLETE is no longer used or produced because it is outdated or because something has been invented to take its place.  Discontinued, disused, and behind the times are some good substitutes.

LP records may be OBSOLETE, but I still love the rich sound an old record produces.

With so many people turning to Google and Wikipedia for general information, hardback volumes of encyclopedias have been rendered nearly OBSOLETE. 

You’d think that with all the functions smart phones have to offer, traditional alarm clocks would become OBSOLETE, but surprisingly, many shops still carry them.

Technology has made business and manufacturing more efficient, but it has also made some jobs OBSOLETE. 

 

Oil spills have a DEVASTATING effect on marine life.

6. DEVASTATING

… eventually making internal combustion engines obsolete—and relieving us of our devastating dependence on fossil fuels. 

In the sentence above, DEVASTATING means causing serious damage and destruction.  Synonyms include ruinous, harmful, and detrimental.

Oil spills are having a DEVASTATING effect on marine life and coastal ecosystems.

A DEVASTATING storm blew through the nation’s capital today, taking out power for most of the afternoon.

Despite receiving DEVASTATING injuries in the car accident, Jake remains cheerful and optimistic about his future.

Three years after the country suffered its most DEVASTATING earthquake, charities are still working to secure affordable housing for those who lost their homes. 

Something that is DEVASTATING can also cause a person severe shock, distress, or grief.  Synonyms for this usage include shattering, shocking, traumatic, distressing, and crushing.

News that my all-time-favorite actress had passed away was as DEVASTATING to me as losing a close family friend.

That documentary that PBS aired last night about the plight of Ebola victims in Sierra Leone was too DEVASTATING and depressing to watch.

Finally, DEVASTATING can also sometimes mean impressive and powerful, as in the following:

Speaking in front of a group of university students, the actor-turned-writer charmed his audience with DEVASTATING erudition and wit. 

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PDF DOWNLOAD KA WORDCAST Listen Up! Lesson 13 KEY VOCABULARY