Listen to KA Wordcast: Listen Up!
LESSON THIRTY-THREE HERE!
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 Age of Humans, 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 Age of Humans
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson Thirty-Three PASSAGE ONLY track:
Earth is billions of years old. During those countless millennia, our planet has been through myriad geological changes—covered with oceans of magma, buried under thick ice and snow, baked by a relentless sun, flooded with rivers of rain. Geologists can read this tumultuous past by examining the earth’s rock layers, each of which represents a chapter in the planet’s evolving story. And they have given each chapter a meaningful “title.” For example, they call the time when most of the major animal groups first appeared the Cambrian Period, which extended from 541 to 485.5 million years ago. The Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, in that order, make up what scientists have dubbed the 160-million-year-long Mesozoic Era, which is when the dinosaurs appeared, thrived, and then disappeared.
In Earth’s 4.6-billion-year history, we humans are a mere blip. We’ve been around for roughly 200,000 years, or less than one one-hundredth of 1% of Earth’s timeline. Yet in that snippet of time, we’ve had an inordinate impact. To get on with the business of life, we’ve altered more than 50% of the earth’s landscape by clearing forests and grasslands, damming rivers, and even tearing down whole mountains. To build our towns and cities, we’ve replaced much of Mother Nature with steel, bricks, pavement, and glass.
We’ve also transformed our atmosphere. Did you know that the carbon dioxide emitted during the early days of the Industrial Revolution is still heating up our planet today? Add to that the CO2 we’ve been pouring into the atmosphere ever since, and, well, it should come as no surprise that the resulting climate change has put scientists on high alert. Even if we were to cut our CO2 emissions to zero right now, the greenhouse gases we’ve already pumped into the air will continue to warm the earth’s surface and raise sea levels long into the future.
Our actions are also affecting animal and plant species around the world. Scientists estimate that as many as 200 plant, insect, bird, and animal species die out every 24 hours. This is between 1,000 and 10,000 times higher than the “natural extinction rate,” the rate that would occur naturally if we humans were not in the picture. The current pace of extinction, say some experts, is greater than anything the world has experienced since the dinosaurs vanished nearly 65 million years ago.
All this change, all this death and destruction, has pushed Earth into a new geological epoch, a new chapter of Earth’s story, which some scientists are calling “The Anthropocene,” or “The Age of Humans.” But while earlier epoch-making changes in the earth’s geological history were brought about by natural forces, this time, we alone are culpable. And what makes “our” epoch so unique is that we know what we are doing. We are aware of the dire consequences.
Talk about depressing! But there is—or can be—a bright side to the story. We humans also know that we have the power to set things right. We know that if we act now, we can shape a different future for our planet and for ourselves. If we wise up, we can give the “Anthropcene” a happy ending. But that’s a big if.
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be TRUE or FALSE and 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 each question carefully and write or speak your answer. Feel free to pause the recording if you need a moment or two to think about the question.
LISTENING COMPREHENSION QUESTIONS
1. Geologists can read our planet’s tumultuous past by examining Earth’s different rock layers.
2. Most of the major animal groups on Earth first appeared during the 160-million-year-long Mesozoic Era.
3. Dinosaurs first appeared on Earth during the Jurassic Period.
4. Humans have been around for less than one one-hundredth of 1% of Earth’s 4.6 billion-year timeline.
5. Humans have altered more than 80% of the earth’s landscape.
6. The carbon dioxide emitted during the early days of the Industrial Revolution is not a contributor to the global warming we are experiencing today.
7. If we were to cut our CO2 emissions to zero right now, the greenhouse gasses we’ve pumped into the air would most likely disappear within our lifetime.
8. Scientists estimate that as many as 200 plant, insect, and animal species die out every day.
9. If human beings were not in the picture on Earth, the “natural extinction rate” would be between 1,000 and 10,000 times lower than it is now.
10. Some scientists are calling Earth’s new geological epoch “The Anthropocene,” or “The Age of Human Mass Destruction.”
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 THIRTY-THREE
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.
During those countless millennia, our planet has been through MYRIAD geological changes—covered with oceans of magma, buried under thick ice and snow, baked by a relentless sun, flooded with rivers of rain.
In the passage, MYRIAD is an adjective that means countless or extremely great in number. Synonyms include numerous, innumerable, untold, and immeasurable.
YouTube offers MYRIAD clear-and-easy instructions for almost any skill you hope to master.
If you’re going to New York City for your next family vacation, you will find MYRIAD attractions and places to visit.
Many recent studies have shown MYRIAD long- and short-term mental and physical problems associated with teenagers’ not getting enough sleep.
In May and June, the forest floor is a lush green carpet dotted with MYRIAD bluebells and other wild flowers.
Even today, there are MYRIAD uninhabited and unexplored islands in the South Pacific.
MYRIAD is also a noun. A MYRIAD is a very large number of people or things.
Choosing the smartphone that is right for you is more difficult when there is a MYRIAD of models, styles, and colors to choose from.
If you log on to the website, you’ll find a MYRIAD of school yearbook templates to choose from.
The cruise ship offers a MYRIAD of port excursions, ranging from guided sightseeing tours to cycling adventures.
Geologists can read this TUMULTUOUS past by examining the earth’s rock layers, each of which represents a chapter in the planet’s evolving story.
TUMULTUOUS is an adjective that means involving a lot of change, confusion, or violence. Turbulent, volatile, intense, and chaotic are some words you can use in place of TUMULTUOUS.
After a TUMULTUOUS start to his teaching career, the young teacher eventually learned how to control and motivate his pupils.
Last year’s hurricane season was particularly TUMULTUOUS in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
Despite the country’s TUMULTUOUS past, Tunisia has seen some positive changes in recent years, particularly in its treatment of women.
TUMULTUOUS also describes an uproar or a lot of noise, as in:
When my son Jason won the “Player of the Year” award at yesterday’s end-of-season ceremony, the audience filled the room with TUMULTUOUS applause.
Although the famous actress hoped to sneak unnoticed into the airport, a TUMULTUOUS crowd of fans greeted her the moment she stepped out of her limo.
The candidate’s speech was followed by TUMULTUOUS booing from supporters of his rival candidate.
The Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods, in that order, make up what scientists have DUBBED the 160-million-year-long Mesozoic Era, which is when the dinosaurs appeared, thrived, and then disappeared.
DUB is a verb that means to give someone or something an unofficial name or nickname.
When I was in junior high school, I was extremely skinny, so some of my friends DUBBED me “Bones.”
The first solar airplane, DUBBED “Si2,” completed its first Transamerica flight earlier this year.
The corner of 103rd street in New York’s Upper West Side was recently DUBBED “Norman Rockwell Place” in honor of the beloved 20th-century artist.
The American actress and writer Lena Dunham has been DUBBED the voice of her generation because she seems to speak for all young people.
In the U.K., DUB also means to make someone a knight by ritually touching the person’s shoulder with a sword.
Little boys used to love to play Knights of the Round Table, taking turns being King Arthur and DUBBING one another Sir Lancelot and Sir Galahad with a hand-made wooden sword.
Musician Rod Stewart, astronaut Tim Peake, and footballer Alan Shearer top the list of honorees recently DUBBED by the Queen.
DUB also means to replace the original speech in a movie or television program with words in another language.
Here in Tokyo, English-language movies for children are almost always DUBBED for the Japanese theater audience.
In Germany, many U.S. and U.K. television programs are DUBBED, whereas in Sweden, most of them are subtitled.
Although the actress appeared to sing in many of her films, her voice was almost always DUBBED.
Yet in that snippet of time, we’ve had an INORDINATE impact.
INORDINATE is an adjective that is used to describe something—a person’s action, a government policy, or an important event, say—that is unusually large or influential. Disproportionate, unreasonable, excessive, and extreme are some possible substitutes. The adverb form is INORDINATELY. (FYI: The noun “snippet” is an informal term for a very small piece, bit, or fragment of something.)
My son’s history teacher seems to spend an INORDINATE amount of class time discussing the current U.S. presidential election.
An INORDINATE amount of the taxes we pay in our country go to military spending, at the expense of much-needed social reforms.
Many people complain that an INORDINATE number of sumo wrestlers these days are non-Japanese.
If you ask me, the new school rule INORDINATELY favors those students who come from wealthier families.
Bobby is INORDINATELY competitive and will do just about anything to make sure he comes out on top.
The Chinese university entrance, the gaokao, is so INORDINATELY difficult that it encourages widespread cheating and causes serious emotional problems among test takers.
But while earlier epoch-making changes in the earth’s geological history were brought about by natural forces, this time, we alone are CULPABLE.
CULPABLE is an adjective that means responsible and deserving blame for having done something wrong. At fault, to blame, guilty, blamable, and accountable are some useful synonyms.
In my opinion, any teacher who turns a blind eye to bullying is just as CULPABLE as the student bully.
Do you think drug dealers should be held CULPABLE for the crimes committed by their “customers”?
If you drink and drive, you are CULPABLE for any accidents you are involved in, whether you caused them or not.
Following investigations into the “accidental” deaths of more than a dozen patients under the hospital’s care, three staff members were arrested on charges of CULPABLE homicide.
And what makes “our” epoch so unique is that we know what we are doing. We are aware of the DIRE consequences.
DIRE is an adjective that is often used to talk about a threat or potential disaster. Synonyms include ominous, grim, gloomy, unfavorable, and pessimistic.
If you continue to waste your time and neglect your studies, you face a DIRE future.
Despite DIRE predictions that tuition increases would mean a crisis for England’s universities, enrollment remains strong.
Former Vice President Al Gore argues that the consequences of global warming are a far more DIRE threat to U.S. national security than the threat of terrorism.
When describing a situation or event, DIRE means extremely serious, urgent, or poor in quality. Synonyms for this usage include dreadful, desperate, appalling, and pressing.
The hot-water tank in the school’s kitchen is in DIRE need of replacement, yet budget cuts mean that we cannot afford to buy a new one.
Slumdog Millionaire is about a young man who appears on the TV quiz show “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?” and wins, despite having grown up in DIRE poverty in the slums of Mumbai.
The situation following the earthquake in China’s Sichuan Province is DIRE, with thousands of people living without food, water, or shelter.
My mother always used to say, “You should be ashamed of yourself for complaining about such petty things when people living in poor countries face DIRE, life-and-death crises every day.”
The acting in Twilight: Breaking Dawn was as DIRE as I expected, but the special effects and cinematography made the movie well worth watching.
A commonly heard related expression is DIRE STRAITS, which means a very difficult situation.
The team found itself in DIRE STRAITS when it fell behind by eight runs in the very first inning.
The trend towards online shopping has put many small local shops and stores, and even some supermarkets and department stores, in DIRE STRAITS.
DIRELY is the adverb form of DIRE. Similar words include urgently, seriously, pressingly, and desperately.
Your opinions are clearly stated in your essay, but evidence to back them up is DIRELY lacking.
Clothing, clean water, and non-perishable food are still DIRELY needed in the areas devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
DIRENESS is the noun form of DIRE and refers to a very serious, even very dangerous situation.
The DIRENESS of the situation in the world’s 34 “biodiversity hot spots,” where plant and animal life is dying out at an alarming rate, cannot be overemphasized.