Listen to KA Wordcast: Listen Up!
LESSON TWENTY-NINE 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, A Letter for Change, 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.
A Letter for Change
Listen to Listen UP! Lesson Twenty-Nine PASSAGE ONLY track:
Sometimes, all it takes is a persuasive letter to kick-start a revolution.
In 2014, while working on a school project, nine-year-old Sofia of Cambridge, Massachusetts, noticed something strange: Why did American currency only feature former U.S. Presidents and other male historical figures? Why weren’t any women so honored? This prompted Sofia to take the matter up directly with President Barack Obama himself. “I am writing to know why there aren’t more women on dollars/coins for the United States,” Sofia asked the Commander in Chief in a letter. “I think there should be more women on the dollars/coins of the United States because if there were no women there wouldn’t be men.” Sofia then suggested a dozen female figures that could “fit the bill,” so to speak: civil rights
pioneer Rosa Parks, poet Emily Dickinson, and first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton. Another name that Sofia put forth was Harriet Tubman. Tubman was the African-American slave who, during the American Civil War, worked as a nurse and spy and, at great risk to herself, helped other slaves gain freedom through an escape route known as the “Underground Railroad.” Tubman later became a devoted civil rights activist, best-selling author, and much sought-after public speaker.
Sofia was a bit disappointed when, after several months, no reply had come from the president. But then she heard that in a speech, he had mentioned a letter from a “Massachusetts girl.” Shortly thereafter, in February 2015, a letter addressed to Sofia arrived from the White House. President Obama thanked Sofia for writing to him “with such a good idea” and stated that the women she had suggested were an impressive group. On April 20, 2016, which just happened to be Sofia’s eleventh birthday, she received phone calls from U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and other government officials. They wanted to inform her “personally” that Harriet Tubman would soon be gracing the front of the $20 bill.
“I was really excited and to have it happen on my birthday. It was the best birthday present ever,” Sofia told the Associated Press. “If women do important things just like men, women should be on our currency, too. And once that happens, it’s going to be amazing.” When asked if she saw a political career in her future, Sofia said that she is more interested in science than in government work. But that doesn’t mean that Sofia isn’t concerned about the state of the world, says Kim, Sofia’s mother. “She noticed something that was unfair and decided to do something about it,” Kim said.
When the new $20 bills go into circulation in 2020, Tubman’s image will replace the portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who has adorned the currency since 1928. The Treasury Department has also announced that seven other women will be featured in upcoming designs. So kudos to you, Sofia, for the decisive role you played in righting a wrong and getting the first woman portrayed on U.S. paper money in more than a century.
And it all started with a letter.
Today’s questions are 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. Nine-year-old Sofia first noticed that women were not depicted on American currency while reading a book on the subject.
2. Currently, American paper money only honors former U.S. Presidents and other male historical figures.
3. Rosa Parks, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hillary Clinton are all former first ladies.
4. Harriet Tubman was an African-American slave who helped other slaves gain freedom during the American Civil War.
5. President Obama mentioned that he had received a letter from a girl named “Sofia” in a speech.
6. President Obama visited Sofia at her home in February 2015.
7. Sofia celebrated her eleventh birthday on April 20, 2016.
8. U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew called Sofia personally to let her know that Harriet Tubman would soon be gracing the front of the $20 bill.
9. Sofia is interested in a future career in politics.
10. When the new $20 bills with Harriet Tubman on the front go into circulation in 2020, it will be the first time in more than a century that a woman is portrayed on U.S. paper money.
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-NINE
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.
Sometimes, all it takes is a PERSUASIVE letter to kick-start a revolution.
PERSUASIVE is an adjective that is based on the verb PERSUADE, which means 1) to (try to) make others do something by giving them good reasons to do it, and 2) to make others believe that something is true. Synonyms for PERSUADE include convince, induce, influence, sway, prompt, and talk into. Look at the following examples for PERSUADE.
Jae-lin hopes to PERSUADE her parents to let her go to Canada to study English for the summer.
After months of negotiating, my children finally managed to PERSUADE me to buy them a puppy for Christmas.
The Danish government has kicked off an aggressive campaign to PERSUADE the Danish people to give up smoking and eat less read meat.
PERSUASIVE, therefore, means good at PERSUADING people to do or believe something. Convincing is the nearest synonym.
This week in our English composition class, we are learning how to write a PERSUASIVE letter.
“I found your arguments for my going on to college very PERSUASIVE, and I just want to let you know that I’m giving them serious thought,” Pam told her high school history teacher.
American film director Michael Moore’s latest movie makes a PERSUASIVE case for how to bring about social change in America by borrowing ideas and practices from Scandinavian countries.
PERSUASION is the noun form. It refers to the act of PERSUADING someone to do something or to believe in something.
It takes a lot PERSUASION to get my daughter to eat fish of any kind.
Archie believes that his powers of PERSUASION and his impeccable work ethic will, before long, get him the promotion he deserves.
Sofia then suggested a dozen female figures that could “fit the bill,” so to speak: civil rights PIONEER Rosa Parks, poet Emily Dickinson, and first ladies Eleanor Roosevelt, Michelle Obama, and Hillary Clinton.
As used here, PIONEER is the first person to open up a particular area of knowledge, culture, science, or other field. Innovator, groundbreaker, and trailblazer are some good synonyms.
“Many of our bright, young pupils,” the headmaster said proudly during the graduation ceremony, “are destined to become PIONEERS in science and information technology.”
“The Aviator” is a 2003 biopic about Howard Hughes, an aviation PIONEER and Hollywood producer and director.
American scientist Robert Goddard was a PIONEER in rocket technology who launched the world’s first liquid-fuelled rocket in 1926.
Last night, many of today’s most popular musicians held a concert to pay homage to Stevie Wonder, an R&B music PIONEER.
PIONEER also refers to the first person or group of people who travel to, explore, and/or settle in a new place. Some synonyms include settler and colonist.
America’s early PIONEERS left Europe hoping to find religious freedom and a brighter future in the New World.
Before PIONEERS settled Saltspring Island off the coast of British Columbia in 1859, the area was home to several Salishan tribes.
PIONEER is also used as a verb.
South African doctor Christiaan Barnard is usually credited with PIONEERING heart-transplant surgery.
British crime writer Ruth Rendell, who PIONEERED the psychological thriller genre, published her first novel From Doon with Death in 1964.
Tubman later became a devoted civil rights ACTIVIST, best-selling author, and much sought-after public speaker.
An ACTIVIST is a person who works to achieve social or political change. ACTIVISTS are usually, but not always, members of an organization that has a specific goal or aim.
At age ten, Sherri is already an ACTIVIST of sorts who is not afraid to tell her teachers when she sees something that is unfair or not right.
One of the anti-war ACTIVISTS demonstrating in front of City Hall told the press that there had been no need for the police to resort to violence, as it had been a peaceful protest.
I’ve always admired Scottish singer, songwriter, and ACTIVIST Annie Lennox for the role she has played in empowering women.
The “Where Are the Women?” group has recently successfully campaigned to have statues of women’s rights ACTIVISTS Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton erected in Central Park.
They wanted to inform her “personally” that Harriet Tubman would soon be GRACING the front of the $20 bill.
In the sentence above, GRACE is a verb that means to bring honor and recognition to something.
Apparently, the opening of the university’s new women’s studies wing will be GRACED by Her Majesty the Queen.
Joe DiMaggio was one of the most charismatic athletes to have ever GRACED the sport of baseball.
“We would be delighted if you would GRACE our afternoon tea party with your appearance,” my invitation read, which sounded a little sarcastic to me.
GRACE also means to make something more attractive. Decorate and adorn are some possible synonyms.
The school hallway is GRACED with photos of former students who have become successes in their chosen fields.
We walked into the first café we came across and sat at a small table GRACED with a vase of freshly cut lilies.
Evidently, this 18th-century desk that I found at an antiques show once GRACED President Theodore Roosevelt’s country home on Long Island.
As a noun, GRACE has several everyday uses. First, GRACE refers to a quality of movement that is smooth, elegant or controlled. GRACEFUL is the adjective form for this usage. Look at the following examples.
Although she is only eight years old, Ava walks with the GRACE of a fashion model.
“Unfortunately, Lily just doesn’t have the GRACE to make it as a ballerina,” my daughter’s ballet teacher told me over the phone.
Muhammad Ali was so smooth and agile that he made boxing, which I find rather barbaric, look almost GRACEFUL.
GRACE also refers to a person’s polite good will.
At last night’s award ceremony, our former school principal, Mr. Docket, accepted a plaque in his honor with his customary GRACE and humility.
Even though Dolly’s family was very poor, her mother taught her to always hold herself with GRACE and dignity.
GRACE as a noun has another usage: it refers to extra time that is given to someone to enable him/her to pay a bill, turn in an assignment, finish a piece of work, and so on.
“I’ll give you a one-week GRACE, but if you don’t finish your term paper by then, I will have no choice but to fail you,” the history teacher told Daniel.
Had it not been for the 10-minute GRACE period allowed at all local parking lots, I would have gotten a ticket.
And FYI: GRACE is also a short prayer of thanks that is said before or after a meal, as in:
As we are not a religious family, we never say GRACE before we sit down to eat.
When the new $20 bills go into CIRCULATION in 2020, Tubman’s image will replace the portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who has adorned the currency since 1928.
In the passage, CIRCULATION is a noun that refers to the movement, availability, or exchange of money in a particular country, as in:
The re-designed £5 note will go into CIRCULATION later this year.
How long has the Euro been in CIRCULATION?
CIRCULATION also refers to the usual number of copies a newspaper or magazine sells each day, week, or month. Distribution is the closest synonym for this usage.
The total CIRCULATION of our local newspaper is just over 5,000.
India Today, the most popular magazine in India, has a bi-weekly CIRCULATION of nearly one million.
You are most likely to hear CIRCULATION used when someone is talking about the continuous flow of blood through all the parts of the body. A doctor, for example, while conducting a physical exam, may say that you have “poor” or “good” CIRCULATION. A related usage for CIRCULATION refers to the movement of fluid or air within a room or other closed area. Flow is the nearest synonym.
Let’s take a rest. My shoes are so tight that they are cutting off the CIRCULATION to my feet.
My mother has poor CIRCULATION, which makes her very sensitive to cold weather.
It’s so stuffy in here. Can’t we do something about improving the air CIRCULATION?
CIRCULATION is based on the verb CIRCULATE, which, in its most common usage means to move continuously or freely through a closed area.
The heart’s main function is to act as a pump that CIRCULATES blood through our bodies.
Since it’s such a lovely day, why don’t we open the windows to get some fresh air CIRCULATING in the house?
But when talking about people at social events or functions, CIRCULATE has a more figurative usage. A person who CIRCULATES moves around the room or hall to talk to and get to know many different people. Mingle and socialize are some good synonyms.
During our after-school dances, how can we encourage the girls and boys to CIRCULATE rather than to just stand on opposites sides of the gym?
“I’ve enjoyed speaking with you,” Maggie said to Johnny, ”but I think I will CIRCULATE now and say hello to some of my friends.”
CIRCULATE also means to send information around in a group or to spread a story, news, or even gossip from one person to another.
There is a rumor CIRCULATING the playground that Mrs. McCarthy, the school librarian, will be retiring at the end of the school year.
Students are CIRCULATING a petition that asks teachers to assign less homework over spring break.
When the new $20 bills go into circulation in 2020, Tubman’s image will replace the portrait of President Andrew Jackson, who has ADORNED the currency since 1928.
ADORN means to make things or people more beautiful or attractive by decorating or embellishing them.
Phoebe has ordered colorful banners, balloons, and fairy lights to ADORN the community hall for her daughter’s Sweet Sixteen party.
Although my grandmother has long given up painting, some of her artwork still ADORNS her house.
When you step into the academy’s main entrance hall, you will see photos of former graduates who have become professional athletes ADORNING the wall.
The Atomic Burger restaurant in Oxford is ADORNED with decorations and memorabilia from comic books and science fiction.
The crowds lined the red carpet hoping to get a glimpse of the stars ADORNED in the latest haute couture fashion.