Listen to KA Wordcast: Listen Up!
LESSON TWENTY-FOUR 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, Fear Itself, 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 TWENTY FOUR Fear Itself
Listen to Listen Up! Lesson Twenty-Four PASSAGE ONLY TRACK:
In 1933, America was in the midst of the Great Depression, an unprecedented economic crisis marked by stagnant industrial output and widespread unemployment. In a famous radio speech, newly elected President Franklin D. Roosevelt told his panic-stricken nation, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” It was, he implied, the American people’s illogical fear of the “unnamed and unjustified” that had them rushing to the banks in droves to withdraw all of their money. In other words, “fear itself” was exacerbating the crisis and hindering recovery.
A recent article in Psychology Today magazine explains why human behavior doesn’t always make sense. Our emotions, especially anxiety and fear, often drive and influence our actions. We all have fears, of course; it is only natural to be afraid of someone or something that could inflict harm or pain. But according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, millions of people have strong, uncontrollable fear reactions to things that are generally considered harmless or only slightly threatening. For example, most of us confidently travel by air to wherever we want or need to go. But not those who suffer from a fear of flying: they are simply too terrified to ever get on a plane. Such unreasonable fears, called phobias, can at times be so all-consuming as to seriously disrupt our daily lives.
Phobias come in various types and levels. Simple phobias, which tend to develop in childhood, are fears of specific things like spiders (arachnophobia), the dark (nyctophobia), and even vegetables (lachanophobia.) But other phobias are more deeply-rooted and disabling, and usually come on in adolescence or early adulthood. A person affected by social phobias, also called social anxiety, fears being judged or humiliated and avoids social situations. A sufferer of agoraphobia, the extreme fear of open or public spaces, dreads being caught in situations where escape might be difficult or help might not be available if things go wrong. When faced with the thing they fear, people crippled by these more intense phobias often experience trembling, nausea, sweating, heart palpitations, and shortness of breath. So you can easily see why phobias can limit a person’s ability to live life to the fullest.
What causes phobias? Lab experiments with mice suggest that genetics may play a part. Some experts claim that the tendency for certain phobias to run in families could actually be as high as 60%. But other scientists disagree. They point out that because family members tend to live together, it is not heredity but something in their shared environment that causes unwarranted fear. Let’s say, for example, that when Mom was a girl, she fell into a wasps’ nest and was stung all over. Now, every time a wasp buzzes near her, she panics and has an emotional meltdown. Poor Mom races around flailing her arms about and screaming hysterically. While this is going on, her kids are watching, and, since emotions are often contagious, they can develop a fear of wasps of their own.
Most psychologists agree that the most efficacious way to overcome a phobia is to gradually expose yourself to what you fear, but always in a safe and controlled way. Back to President Roosevelt and the Great Depression. Roosevelt was a politician, not a psychologist. But he instinctively knew what he was doing when he asked Americans to confront their fears and to put their faith in the nation’s leaders to set things right. And it worked. Not long after the president’s rousing speech, the American people calmed down, and the economy started back along the road to recovery.
Today’s questions are of various types. Follow the instructions for each question. Feel free to pause and listen several times if needed.
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. Write a brief answer to this question.
What was the Great Depression?
2. Decide if this statement is true or false.
During the Great Depression, many Americans deposited all their money into the banks to keep it safe.
3. Choose the best answer.
According to a recent article in Psychology Today magazine, why doesn’t human behavior always make sense?
a) Because the world is full of people and things that can actually inflict harm on us or cause us pain.
b) Psychology Today explains that our emotions, especially anxiety and fear, often drive and influence our actions.
c) Psychology Today explains that when one person becomes afraid, many others become afraid, too, causing a chain-reaction-type general panic.
d) Because political leaders like Roosevelt try to influence citizens’ actions so that people do illogical things.
4. Write a full-sentence answer to this question in your own words.
What is a “phobia?”
5. Choose the best answer to complete this sentence.
Someone who suffers from “arachnophobia” is afraid of ______________________________.
b) the dark
6. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
A person affected by social phobias fears being judged or humiliated and avoids social situations.
7. Write a brief answer to this question.
When faced with the thing he or she fears, what might someone crippled by an intense phobia experience?
8. Decide if this sentence is true or false.
Some experts claim that phobias are hereditary and that the tendency for certain phobias to run in families could actually be as high as 90%.
9. Choose the correct answer.
Why do some scientists believe that it is environment, that is, life in the home, rather than heredity that causes family members to share the same phobias?
a) Children are quite often influenced by the actions of their parents. If a child’s mother is terrified of wasps, for example, and panics every time a wasp comes near her, the child may watch this happen, perceive wasps as threat, and develop a fear of wasps of his or her own.
b) Children are quite often influenced by their parents’ opinions. If a child’s mother absolutely hates wasps and constantly talks about what horrible creatures they are, her child may also develop the opinion that wasps are horrible.
10. Write a full sentence answer to this question.
According to most psychologists, what is the most effective way to overcome a phobia?
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-FOUR
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 1933, America was in the midst of the Great Depression, an unprecedented economic crisis marked by STAGNANT industrial output and widespread unemployment.
In the above sentence, STAGNANT is an adjective that describes a situation that is not developing, growing, moving, or changing. Inactive, sluggish, static, slow, and declining are some good substitutes.
Despite an increasing number of students enrolling for university, the funds the government is allotting for education remains STAGNANT.
Most customers are pleased with the school cafeteria’s new décor and atmosphere, but they also complain that the food and menu choices have remained unchanged and STAGNANT.
For the third quarter in a row, consumer spending has declined, as a result of STAGNANT wages and high fuel prices.
Senate candidate Marshall promises to generate more jobs for millions of Americans, despite the labor market being STAGNANT.
STAGNANT is often used to describe the state of water or air that is not moving, and therefore is quite unpleasant, stifling, or smelly. Still, motionless, foul, and dirty can be used in place of STAGNANT.
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus lay their eggs in STAGNANT water.
Recent massive forest fires and STAGNANT wind conditions in Indonesia have greatly lowered air quality in the Southeast Asian nation.
Open the window! The air in here is stale and STAGNANT!
We all have fears, of course; it is only natural to be afraid of someone or something that could INFLICT harm or pain.
INFLICT is a verb that means to make someone or something suffer something unpleasant. Some synonyms include impose, force, and cause. INFLICT is sometimes used humorously or ironically, as in the last example.
Not only can a bite from a rodent INFLICT a lot of pain, rats and mice also carry a host of infectious diseases.
Some classic psychological experiments have shown that people are surprisingly willing to INFLICT pain on others if they are ordered to do so by a person in authority.
In the old days, teachers were allowed to INFLICT corporal punishment on students, but now, in most places, it is against the law.
The damage INFLICTED on the candidate by the scandal will likely cost her the election.
Non-indigenous animals such as pythons and other “exotic” pets have INFLICTED serious damage on the Florida Everglades’ natural environment by killing off many native animal species.
Nobody but Bryan likes listening to rap music, but he INFLICTS that loud angry noise on us every time we get in the car with him.
Such unreasonable fears, called phobias, can at times be so all-consuming as to seriously DISRUPT our daily lives.
DISRUPT is a verb that means to make it difficult for someone to continue doing something in a normal way. Interrupt, interfere with, disturb, unsettle, obstruct, hamper, impede, and upset are some good synonyms.
Classes were DISRUPTED this afternoon by the noise being made by construction workers working on a neighboring building.
An overturned truck carrying harmful chemicals DISRUPTED traffic on the highway for more than six hours.
In all, thirteen people were arrested in front of the Capitol building and charged with DISRUPTING the President’s inaugural speech.
Due to repair work on the Metropolitan line this weekend, train travel into London will be DISRUPTED.
DISRUPTION is the noun form of DISRUPT. It refers to a disturbance or problem that interrupts an activity, event, or progress, as in:
For the third day in a row, thick fog has caused serious DISRUPTIONS at London’s Heathrow airport.
With service DISRUPTIONS being so frequent, I think my mobile network provider should reimburse part of my monthly fee, don’t you?
The comedian finally got tired of all the DISRUPTIONS coming from hecklers in the audience, and he walked off the stage giving them an obscene gesture.
Something that is DISRUPTIVE causes problems or noise so that something cannot continue as planned or normally.
Arriving to class late is DISRUPTIVE to other students and will not be tolerated unless you have a very good excuse.
“Your son’s behavior is very DISRUPTIVE to the other children in the class,” the teacher told his parents.
The prolific author doesn’t seem to find anything DISRUPTIVE and can work happily away in even the loudest pub or coffee shop.
A sufferer of agoraphobia, the extreme fear of open or public spaces, DREADS being caught in situations where escape might be difficult or help might not be available if things go wrong.
The verb DREAD means to be very afraid of something or to fear that something bad is going to happen. Similar words or expressions include worry about and be anxious about. Today, DREAD is used more casually to mean the opposite of “look forward to”; in other words, it means to anticipate something with alarm or reluctance, as in these sentences.
I DREAD to think what would happen to my family in Japan if Mount Fuji erupted, since they live right beneath it.
I absolutely DREAD going to the dentist and have to work up all my courage just to make an appointment.
Having been elected as Class President was an achievement that Sebastian was very proud of, but he DREADED having to give speeches in front of all his peers.
Susan was DREADING having to tell her coach that she has to quit the softball team to focus on her studies.
DREAD, as used in the sentences below, is a noun that means a feeling of great fear about something that might or will happen. Synonyms include apprehension, worry, and concern.
The shy young teacher realized that she had no control over her classes, and she came to school each morning in DREAD that the principal would find out and fire her.
For the first few weeks after the 3-11 earthquake, even the slightest tremor caused us to stop what we were doing and to look around in DREAD.
David has an irrational DREAD of hospitals and refuses to see a doctor even when he is feeling desperately ill.
The idea of growing old and losing her movie-star looks filled Cindy with DREAD.
DREADED is the adjective form and is used like this:
The DREADED day has finally come. My family’s moving to Kansas next week. I’m going to miss you all so much!
Seismologists predict that the DREADED “Big One” earthquake will hit Tokyo sometime in the next ten years.
While this is going on, her kids are watching, and, since emotions are often CONTAGIOUS, they can develop a fear of wasps of their own.
In the sentence above, CONTAGIOUS is used somewhat figuratively to describe an emotion that is likely to spread and affect other people. The best synonyms for this usage are infectious and catching.
When going about your daily business, it is important to remember that happiness and positivity are just as CONTAGIOUS as negativity and gloom.
Simon’s enthusiasm was CONTAGIOUS, and before long, all of his classmates were singing Christmas carols with gusto.
In my opinion, actor Dennis Quaid, though he’s a little older now, still has one of the most CONTAGIOUS smiles in Hollywood.
When talking about a disease or illness, CONTAGIOUS means likely to spread from one person or organism to another, typically by direct contact. Infectious, communicable, and transmittable are the closest equivalents.
Cholera is a highly CONTAGIOUS disease that causes severe vomiting and dysentery.
Avoid direct contact with anyone who’s been exposed to mononucleosis, as the virus is very CONTAGIOUS.
Contrary to popular belief, yawning is not physiologically CONTAGIOUS.
People can be CONTAGIOUS, too. A CONTAGIOUS person has a disease that can be transmitted by coming in close contact with other people, as in:
Please don’t send your child to school while he or she is CONTAGIOUS. In the case of chicken pox, please wait until all of his or her blisters have scabbed over.
People with measles are CONTAGIOUS for about four days before the first rash appears, and for about four days after.
Most psychologists agree that the most EFFICACIOUS way to overcome a phobia is to gradually expose yourself to what you fear but always in a safe and controlled way.
EFFICACIOUS is a somewhat formal adjective that refers to something that is able to produce a good or intended result. Effective is the nearest common synonym.
Reviewing notes and re-reading the text are still recommended as the most EFFICACIOUS ways to prepare for a test.
There is little evidence that supports hypnosis as an EFFICACIOUS therapy for weight loss.
One of Lance’s goals as an app designer is to develop an EFFICACIOUS app that will help schools find teachers who will meet all of their search criteria.
Studies show that a solid six-hour sleep at night is more EFFICACIOUS to your ability to carry out your daily needs than eight hours of “tossing and turning” interrupted sleep.