Listen to KA Wordcast: Listen Up!
LESSON TWENTY-EIGHT 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, Totally Awesome, 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.
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson Twenty-Eight PASSAGE ONLY track:
Perhaps nowhere else on Earth underscores the majesty of Mother Nature like Arizona’s Grand Canyon. No matter how much you’ve heard about it, no matter how many pictures you’ve seen, nothing prepares you for the sense of awe that comes over you when you stand at the rim and look down at the massive gorge that took the Colorado River six million years to carve out.
But of course, you don’t have to travel all the way to Arizona to appreciate the awe-inspiring wonders of the world we live in. Taking a moment to stop and look up at the sky on a starry night, for example, can stir in us a feeling of deep gratitude and respect for life. It can also bring home to us that we are but a tiny part of something much bigger than what our minds can imagine. And it turns out that that sense of awe and humility actually makes us better, nicer, more generous people.
New research from the University of California suggests that experiencing “awe”—the “mixed feeling of respect and slight fear or wonder,” as The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines it—prompts us to act more benevolently towards others. “For hundreds of years, people have talked about the importance of awe to human life and interpersonal relations, and just now we are beginning to devise tools for testing and understanding it,” says UC’s Professor Paul Piff.
Piff and his team conducted several experiments to find out how awe affects human behavior. In one study, volunteer participants were asked how often they experienced genuine awe and then took a test that measured their generosity. Those who felt awe more frequently tended to behave more altruistically. In a second study, subjects were asked to recall a moment when they felt awe or another emotion like pride. They were then asked to complete an ethical decision-making task. Once again, those who experienced awe showed significantly more positive ethical behavior.
Asked how awe affected them, most participants reported that it gave rise to “a reduced sense of self importance.” Subsequent tests confirmed that this “small self” sensation triggered feelings of generosity and positive behavior. The findings held true even when the subjects were taken outside of the lab. When a researcher “accidentally” dropped a box of pens on the ground, participants who had been asked to gaze at a grove of eucalyptus trees were more eagerly helpful than those directed to just look at a large building.
Piff’s team is now investigating whether awe, like laughter, can spread and how far the positive behavior that awe gives rise to extends. “When people experience awe, they really want to share that experience with other people, suggesting that awe has a viral component to it,” says Piff. Whether awe is contagious or not has yet to be confirmed, but don’t let that stop you from actively seeking those magical moments. And if you feel like sharing the experience the next time you see a magnificent sunrise or other breathtaking view, make sure you do.
Today’s questions are of various types. Follow the instructions for each question.
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. Write a brief answer to this question.
How long did it take Mother Nature to carve out the Grand Canyon in Arizona?
2. Write a full sentence answer to this question.
How does the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary define “awe”?
3. Choose the true statement.
a) You have to travel to Arizona and see the Grand Canyon for yourself to truly appreciate the awe-inspiring wonders of the world we live in.
b) Experiencing awe, along with having a sense of humility about our place in the universe, prompts us to behave more kindly towards other people.
c) People have only recently started talking about the importance of awe to human life and interpersonal relationships.
d) Researchers at the University of California have been studying how awe affects ethical behavior for hundreds of years.
4. Choose the best answer to complete this sentence.
In one study, participants were asked how often they experienced genuine awe and then took a test that measured their_________________________________.
5. Write a full-sentence answer to this question in your own words.
How did the volunteer participants in one UC study who had experienced awe more frequently tend to behave towards other people?
6. Choose the best answer to complete this sentence.
In a second study, volunteer participants were asked to recall a moment when they felt awe or another emotion such as_________________________________.
7. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
Participants who were asked to recall a moment when they felt an emotion other than awe showed significantly more positive behavior.
8. Write a full-sentence answer to this question.
When asked how awe affected them, what did most of the participants report?
9. Write a full sentence answer to this question.
What happened when a researcher “accidentally” dropped a box of pens on the ground?
10. Choose the true statement.
a) According to Professor Paul Piff, when people experience awe, they tend to keep the experience to themselves, confirming that awe is a personal, private emotion that cannot be shared.
b) According to Professor Paul Piff, when people experience awe, they really want to share that experience with other people, suggesting that awe has a viral component to it.
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 TWENTY-EIGHT
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.
And it turns out that that sense of awe and HUMILITY actually makes us better, nicer, more generous people.
HUMILITY is a noun that refers to the quality of not thinking that you are better or more important than other people. Modesty and humbleness are some synonyms for HUMILITY.
Why doesn’t Duncan get along well with his classmates? Simply because he lacks HUMILITY and thinks he is the smartest kid in the school.
Rather than acknowledge his errors and fumbles, the quarterback showed a shameless lack of HUMILITY by blaming his teammates for the loss.
During her graduation speech, Millie showed her HUMILITY by acknowledging that it was her teachers’ and parents’ encouragement that enabled her to become class valedictorian.
Unlike most other people who strike it rich, Martin hasn’t lost his HUMILITY and still treats everyone with his usual kindness and generosity.
New research from the University of California suggests that experiencing “awe”—the “mixed feeling of respect and slight fear or wonder,” as The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines it—prompts us to act more BENEVOLENTLY towards others.
BENEVOLENTLY is an adverb based on the adjective BENEVOLENT, which, when referring to a person’s character, means generous, helpful, and kind. Some useful synonyms include big-hearted, compassionate, considerate, thoughtful, and altruistic. Look at how the word is used as both an adjective and an adverb.
Volunteering in a soup kitchen to help the homeless is an example of a BENEVOLENT act.
Thanks to a BENEVOLENT anonymous donor, the hospital now has the funds it needs to add on a children’s cancer wing.
In the opening scene of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, the BENEVOLENT Benvolio tries to stop the Capulets and the Montagues from fighting.
Children will be children, so it is the parents’ responsibility to teach their sons and daughters to behave BENEVOLENTLY towards their peers.
A BENEVOLENT organization is one that serves a charitable rather than a profit-making purpose, as in:
The Red Cross is an example of a typical BENEVOLENT organization.
There are many BENEVOLENT organizations around the world that help children from low-income families go to university and achieve their dreams.
“For hundreds of years, people have talked about the importance of awe to human life and interpersonal relations, and just now we are beginning to DEVISE tools for testing and understanding it,” says UC’s Professor Paul Piff.
DEVISE is a verb that means to plan or invent something new or to develop a new way of doing something. Conceive, think up, come up with, formulate, and produce are some good synonyms.
“We need to DEVISE a plan to get Mrs. Wormwood to postpone our history test until next week,” Holly whispered to some classmates.
The IT department has to DEVISE a new software program that will help teachers grade and keep track of their students’ papers.
We need to DEVISE a strategy to encourage more students to get involved in after-school activities.
DEVISING an effective communication system among parents, teachers, and students is vital.
Our current system of naming clouds according to their shape, appearance, and altitude was DEVISED in 1803.
Those who felt awe more frequently tended to behave more ALTRUISTICALLY.
In the sentence above, ALTRUISTICALLY is the adverb form of the adjective ALTRUISTIC, which means showing selfless concern for the well-being of others. An ALTRUISTIC person is unselfish, generous, compassionate, and magnanimous. Look at how the word is used as both an adjective and an adverb.
Grant’s affable personality and ALTRUISTIC nature make him the perfect school counselor.
When I announced to my family that I would be traveling to Myanmar to work with orphans, my Aunt Jessica scoffed at my ALTRUISTIC motives.
Carmen donated all the proceeds from her best-selling illustrated storybook to a hospice, an ALTRUISTIC gesture that has helped hundreds of sick children.
According to the BBC, ALTRUISTIC organ donations in the U.K. have risen by almost 300 percent in the past year.
Although the young actress is actively involved in charity work, some skeptics say that her intentions are not truly ALTRUISTIC and that she is only after media exposure.
Volunteers are more likely to act ALTRUISTICALLY if they care deeply about the cause they are supporting.
Is Jason really ALTRUSITICALLY giving his time at the animal shelter, or is he just trying to impress his new girlfriend?
They were then asked to complete an ETHICAL decision-making task. Once again, those who experienced awe showed significantly more positive ETHICAL behavior.
In the sentence above, ETHICAL is an adjective that means morally acceptable or correct. In a nutshell, ETHICAL means knowing the difference between right and wrong. Some possible synonyms include moral, principled, virtuous, honest, just, scrupulous, and commendable.
Principal Gomez was known for being ETHICAL and objective in all her dealings with troubled students.
In my Advanced English class, we often discuss ETHICAL issues such as immigration and human embryo research.
Greg was faced with the ETHICAL dilemma of choosing between telling the truth or protecting his friends.
Do you think it is ETHICAL to conduct scientific testing on animals?
ETHICAL is also used to describe activities, organizations, or practices that do not harm people, animals, or the environment. Look at the following examples for clarification.
Our family’s goal this year is to only buy clothing and shoes from companies that have adopted ETHICAL practices.
After graduation, I want to work for an ETHICAL company—one with a solid corporate social-responsibility policy.
Bryan vowed that he would only buy an engagement ring for his girlfriend from a jeweler that sells ETHICAL diamonds.
ETHICALLY is the adverb for both the above uses.
The new teacher’s ETHICALLY questionable teaching methods caused quite a scandal.
The hospital committee decided that the doctor had not acted ETHICALLY towards the deceased girl’s parents, and gave him a three-month suspension.
I’m a vegetarian myself, but I don’t have a problem with others eating meat, though I would hope that the animals are raised and killed ETHICALLY.
“When people experience awe, they really want to share that experience with other people, suggesting that awe has a VIRAL component to it,” says Piff.
In its most literal sense, VIRAL refers to a virus that spreads from one person to another, as in these sentences:
Peter had to take a week off from school to recover from a VIRAL chest infection.
As far as I know, smallpox is the only human VIRAL disease that has been eradicated.
But these days, as in the sentence from the listening passage above, VIRAL is most often used figuratively to talk about images, videos, and so on that are circulated widely and rapidly over the Internet, as in:
The young girl’s joy at meeting the Queen went VIRAL, making her an instant global celebrity.
The students in my fifth-grade class conducted an Internet safety experiment to see just how quickly a photo could go VIRAL.
When her partner posted the dash-cam video of the police officer’s lip-syncing to “Shake it Off” on YouTube, it went VIRAL, getting more than 3 million views.