Listen to KA Wordcast: Listen Up!
LESSON THIRTY-TWO 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 Rise of Megacities, 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 Rise of Megacities
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson Thirty-Two PASSAGE ONLY track:
In 2014, the United Nations released a report on future urbanization trends that predicted incredible growth in megacities—areas with a total population of ten million inhabitants or more. In 1990, there were just ten cities around the globe that fit this criterion. By 2015 that number had spiked to 35, and included Mumbai, Los Angeles, Beijing, and Paris, to name a few. Tokyo and Shanghai are the largest megacities, with each boasting over 30 million inhabitants. Today, approximately 3.2 billion people—just under half the world’s population—live in urban areas, with the current 35 megacities housing roughly 12% of all urban dwellers.
The UN report projects that by 2030, the growing global population will have pushed people into a staggering 41 megacities. Some of these new entrants in the “Megacity Club” will be vibrant financial and cultural centers, but others will struggle, particularly those in developing countries in Africa and Asia where over the next 25 years the most dramatic urban growth is expected to take place. This sudden population surge, says the UN, will bring with it a plague of social and economic problems.
Perhaps the most serious will be the spread of slums or shantytowns that sprout up because of insufficient sanitation, housing, education, healthcare, and other public services and infrastructure. In Mumbai, for example, where an estimated 100 to 300 new families arrive every day, more than half of its 20 million inhabitants currently live in slums. Not only does living in such squalor pose dangerous health and sanitation concerns, but it can also breed public discontent, leading to heightened crime and unrest. Megacities such as Karachi, Rio de Janeiro, and Lagos already have some of the world’s highest crime rates.
Another major problem is that megacities are an environmental disaster. In a recent study, UK and German researchers analyzed existing studies on the carbon footprint left by megacity dwellers. The researchers found that the world’s largest cities emit tremendous amounts of greenhouse gases, accounting for a whopping 12% of all of the carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere. Megacities are also the primary contributors to the clogging of the air we breathe with pollutants of all kinds. The UN forecasts that as the 21st century progresses, these disturbing trends will continue at an exponential rate.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done to curb the growth of megacities. They are here to stay, which gives us two options. On the one hand, we can take a cynical, defeatist approach and prophesy a dystopian, “Mad Max” future where millions of people battle over scarce resources in slums ravaged by poverty and disease. Or, on the other hand, we can see things in a more positive light. We can look upon megacities as places that offer inhabitants a plethora of cultural, educational, and employment opportunities. We can see them as places where brilliant minds come together and dream up innovative ways to ensure that Planet Earth remains inhabitable for the foreseeable future—innovative ways, in fact, to alleviate the many ills that come with the growth of megacities.
Today’s listening comprehension questions will be SHORT ANSWER and based on FACTUAL CONTENT.
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. What classifies a city as a “megacity”?
2. What two megacities were named as having populations of more than 30 million inhabitants?
3. According to the UN, how many megacities are there likely to be by 2030?
4. Where is the most dramatic urban growth expected to take place over the next 25 years?
5. What causes slums and shantytowns to spread in highly populated areas?
6. How many new families arrive in Mumbai every day?
7. What do Karachi, Rio de Janeiro, and Lagos have in common?
8. What did the UK and German researchers analyze in a recent study?
9. What environmentally harmful substance do the world’s largest cities emit?
10. How would someone with an optimistic or positive view of megacities describe the advantages of living in one?
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-TWO
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.
In 1990, there were just ten cities around the globe that fit this CRITERION.
A CRITERION is a standard or principle by which something is judged, labeled, or decided. Basis, specification, yardstick, and benchmark are some possible synonyms. Keep in mind that CRITERION is the singular form, while CRITERIA is the plural form.
One CRITERION for judging essays is the student’s ability to write an attractive, persuasive opening paragraph.
Our new homeroom teacher stressed that learning how to manage our time well is the most important CRITERION for success in high school.
Since art appreciation is mainly subjective, there is really no set CRITERION that can tell you if a work of art is good ort bad. You either like it or you don’t.
When Alex learned how demanding the CRITERIA were for getting into an Ivy League university, he decided to try for a state school instead.
Students in our Master’s Degree program are graded according to the CRITERIA described in the course outline.
To be considered for NASA’s space program, candidates must meet extremely strict educational, mental-health, and physical-fitness CRITERIA.
Some of these new entrants in the “Megacity Club” will be VIBRANT financial and cultural centers, but others will struggle, particularly those in developing countries in Africa and Asia where over the next 25 years the most dramatic urban growth is expected to take place.
In the passage, VIBRANT is an adjective that means full of life and energy. A VIBRANT person is energetic, animated, dynamic, and vivacious. A VIBRANT place is exciting, thrilling, stimulating, compelling, and powerful.
As a child, I loved visiting my VIBRANT, fun-loving Aunt Jennifer, who always sang and danced her way through her household chores.
Although I like her policies, I’m afraid the candidate’s less-than-VIBRANT personality will hurt her chances to win.
KA prides itself on the stimulating, VIBRANT, all-English learning atmosphere that it offers its students.
China is at its most VIBRANT during its New Year’s celebrations in January and February.
The first stop on our Mediterranean cruise is in La Palma de Majorca, which is known for its beautiful beaches and VIBRANT nightlife.
VIBRANT is also used to talk about colors that are very bright and strong. Vivid, striking, brilliant, and intense are some good synonyms.
Donna picked out a VIBRANT, retro-style dress to wear to her high school prom.
Stir-fry the red peppers until they attain a VIBRANT color and then add in the other vegetables.
A VIBRANT oil painting of our village done by a local artist hangs over the mantelpiece in our living room.
When talking about sound or music, VIBRANT means loud and powerful, as in:
As I walked along the boardwalk, I was drawn to the most VIBRANT Peruvian music I’ve ever heard coming from a small café.
Visitors to the Glastonbury music festival in Somerset, England, can take in theater, circus, and cabaret shows as well as enjoy all the VIBRANT musical performances.
This sudden population SURGE, says the UN, will bring with it a plague of social and economic problems.
In the passage, SURGE is a noun that refers to the sudden increase in the amount or number of something. Rise, upswing, upsurge, and escalation are some near equivalents.
Educational budget cuts have led to a nationwide SURGE in school mergers and closures.
The great success of the singer’s newest CD has brought a SURGE in sales of her previous albums.
SURGE is also used to talk about the sudden increase of a strong feeling. Rush is the nearest synonym.
Every year, two or three months before the entrance-exam season starts, our students experience a SURGE in energy and motivation.
Tara felt a SURGE of jealousy when she learned that her twin sister Sara had been named the school’s Student Most Likely to Succeed.
I feel a SURGE of excitement every time I see a TV trailer for the newest “Star Wars” movie.
A SURGE is also a sudden, strong forward or upward movement of something, as in:
When I opened the window, I was hit by a SURGE of hot, humid August air.
Finally, as a noun, SURGE also refers to a sudden increase in the flow of electrical power through something.
A sudden electrical SURGE destroyed my computer’s hard drive.
The metropolitan grid was hit by a huge power SURGE during last night’s electrical storm.
SURGE is also a verb. It means 1) to suddenly increase in value, 2) to fill someone with a sudden strong feeling, 3) to move quickly and with force, and 4) to increase the flow of electric power. Look at the following sample sentences.
According to the Times, the President’s support has SURGED by over 12% in the past six months.
Facebook’s share prices SURGED to a record high after the company bought photo-sharing network Instagram for $1 billion.
The Japanese currency SURGED to 105 yen to the U.S. dollar when the new BOJ interest rate was announced.
Housing prices all along the new rail line to London are already SURGING, even though construction has just gotten under way.
A feeling of relief SURGED through Jake when he was found out he’d been accepted into the grammar school of his choice.
Whenever I feel anger or frustration starting to SURGE through me, I take a deep breath and count to ten.
Ecstatic Leicester City fans SURGED onto the field to celebrate their team’s winning the Premier League championship.
On the third day of incessant rain, the river SURGED over its banks, flooding the surrounding farmlands.
By tinkering with the fuse box, Bond caused power to SURGE through the building’s grid, destroying the enemy’s central intelligence database.
Not only does living in such SQUALOR pose dangerous health and sanitation concerns, but it can also breed public discontent, leading to heightened crime and unrest.
SQUALOR is a noun that refers to the state of being extremely dirty and unpleasant as a result of living in poverty or neglect. Some synonyms for SQUALOR include filthiness, wretchedness, abjectness, and destitution.
Though his people live in SQUALOR and famine, the notorious dictator does nothing to relieve their suffering.
To better illustrate the SQUALOR of migrant life during the Great Depression, the director filmed his controversial docu-drama in black and white.
Lindy heard that her old high school boyfriend high school was a drug addict and living in SQUALOR somewhere in the slums of Newark, Jersey.
A neighbor told the police that she had found the two children, both under age ten, living alone in SQUALOR after their mother had abandoned them more than a week before.
Megacities are also the primary contributors to the CLOGGING of the air we breathe with pollutants of all kinds.
CLOG is a verb that means to block something or to become blocked with an accumulation of something unpleasant. Obstruct, congest, jam, and fill up are some possible synonyms. A common phrasal verb is CLOG UP.
As I walked by, I saw that the pachinko parlor’s air was CLOGGED with cigarette smoke, and I wondered how anyone could breathe in there.
The pipes in the home economics classroom’s sink became CLOGGED when someone washed vegetable and fruit peelings down the drain.
Every morning and afternoon, the road in front of the school drop-off zone becomes CLOGGED with big cars driven by parents dropping off and picking up their children.
Foundation can CLOG your pores, so if you are prone to acne, avoid wearing make-up.
Kaitlin complained that the ceilings in her new apartment leak whenever it rains and that the drains regularly CLOG UP.
The earth’s atmosphere is becoming increasingly CLOGGED UP with greenhouse gases and pollutants of all kinds.
FYI: The noun CLOG refers to a type of shoe with a thick wooden sole. Traditional CLOGS are often made entirely of wood.
CLOGS with leather uppers seem to be making a fashion comeback this summer, but I’m not a fan of the shoes and won’t be buying into that fad.
The first European CLOGS were made in Amsterdam in the 13th century, and the wooden shoes figure in many famous Dutch folktales.
We can look upon megacities as places that offer inhabitants a PLETHORA of cultural, educational, and employment opportunities.
People often associate the word PLETHORA with “abundance” (as in the sentence from the passage), but strictly speaking, PLETHORA isn’t an abundance of something but is an excessive amount of something. These days, however, the new, looser sense of the word has become so dominant that it is now accepted as standard English.
A PLETHORA of complaints flooded into the headmaster’s office about the new social-science teacher’s radical political rants.
Despite the PLETHORA of DVD’s we have on our shelves, my children always seem to choose the same ones to watch over and over.
Although the travel brochure promised that the hotel offered a PLETHORA of activities for children, there was only one swimming pool and a very small play park.
Rhonda eagerly accepted the job because not only did it pay well, but also because it came with a PLETHORA of fringe benefits.
This year marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, and there is a PLETHORA of celebratory productions of the Bard’s plays on offer in theaters all over the world.
The Best American Short Stories series offers readers a small but satisfying sampling of the PLETHORA of short fiction published in U.S. and Canadian periodicals each year.