KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 14

KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 14

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Taskmaster Lesson 14 PASSAGE 

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Taskmaster Lesson 14 MINI-TEST ONE

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Taskmaster Lesson 14 MINI-TEST TWO 

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Taskmaster Lesson 14 MINI-TEST THREE

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Please visit ESL Publishing for more Well Read titles.






 Today’s words come from four passages taken from a novel called If I Stay.  (See for your information below.)  To listen to a recording of these passages, tune into the KA Voicecast website.


It was a fluke that they even had a cello; they’re very expensive and FRAGILE.

FRAGILE is an adjective that, when talking about physical things, means easily broken or damaged.  Synonyms for FRAGILE include delicate, dainty, breakable, and fine.

Be careful not to drop Aunt Josephine’s porcelain platter on that tile floor.  It’s very FRAGILE and will shatter into a million pieces.

My grandmother is nearly 100 years old, and her bones are extremely FRAGILE, so we do everything we can to prevent her from falling. 

Make sure you mark that package you are sending overseas FRAGILE so that postal workers will know to handle it with care.

“Man is harder than iron, stronger than stone, and more FRAGILE than a rose.” (Turkish Proverb)

FRAGILE, when speaking about a situation or condition, means weak and uncertain.  Synonyms for this usage include tenuous, insecure, unreliable, shaky, and vulnerable.

Despite the surge in consumer sales over the Christmas holidays, the retail industry remains FRAGILE, with full recovery still a long way off.

Ecosystems around the world are becoming increasingly FRAGILE and threatened because of climate change, pollution, and loss of biodiversity.

FRAGILE also describes people who are weak and likely to become ill.  Similar words include frail, feeble, ailing, poorly, and sickly.   In this sense, it can also be used to describe people’s emotional state.

Two weeks after a bout of the Hong Kong flu, Cecilia was still feeling very FRAGILE and reluctant to take on too much work.

My best friend’s wife Jeannie has a FRAGILE constitution, though he insists that she’s a hypochondriac whose ailments are more imagined than real.

After more than eight years working as a celebrity agent, Madison knows how to handle the FRAGILE egos of stage and film actors and spoiled pop idols.

FRAGILELY is an adverb that means in a FRAGILE manner.

The houses in the abandoned development area were built on unstable ground and FRAGILELY put together using cheap materials.  The developers are now all in jail. 

Denise, who was badly injured in a car accident, FRAGILELY asked the attending doctor in the emergency room about her friends who had been in the car with her.

FRAGILITY (as well as its near synonym FRAGILENESS) is a noun that means the quality of being delicate, vulnerable, or easily broken.

The economic crisis in Greece has revealed the FRAGILITY of the European Union’s financial system.

Its FRAGILITY made the ancient Chinese ceramic sculpture prone to fracture, which is why the museum refuses to let it travel.

Faberge eggs are known for their delicate beauty, unique designs, and exquisite FRAGILENESS.

Last night’s documentary on the BBC depicted the FRAGILENESS of Florida’s Everglades ecosystem, which is under attack from invasive species of all kinds.



I was not like my AFFABLE, ironic dad or my tough-woman mom.  And as if to seal the deal, instead of learning to play the electric guitar, I’d gone and chosen the cello.

AFFABLE is an adjective that means pleasant, friendly, and easy to talk to.  Synonyms for AFFABLE include amiable, likable, personable, charming, and kind.

Mr. Jefferies was an AFFABLE and easily approachable music teacher who spent many extra hours a day giving his most promising students private piano lessons.

I sensed that something was not right when the normally AFFABLE Grayson kept quiet throughout dinner.  His wife later told me that he had been laid off from his job.

My dad is so AFFABLE that whenever my friends come to visit, they end up sitting and chatting with him instead of me!

AFFABLY is the adverb form.  It is used to describe someone who acts in a pleasant, friendly, AFFABLE manner.

In his latest film, Kevin James AFFABLY portrays a high-school biology teacher who raises money for his cash-strapped school by moonlighting as a mixed martial arts fighter.

Olivia AFFABLY served meals to the many homeless men, women, and children who visited the soup kitchen every day. 

AFFABILITY is a noun that means the quality of being pleasant and friendly.

It was Gordon’s AFFABILITY as much as his ability and experience that made him management material.

Say what you will about Barak Obama, but I find his sense of humor and boyish AFFABILITY a breath of fresh air compared to the staid style of the leaders of most other countries.  

Don’t let Judge Guildford’s AFFABILITY fool you.  She can be downright ruthless in the courtroom and will pass down some very stiff sentences to those she thinks deserve them.



Rusty scales and triads led to my first attempt at “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” that eventually gave way to FUNDAMENTAL etudes until I was playing Bach suites.

FUNDAMENTAL is an adjective with several uses.  Generally, it means basic or forming the base or core of something.  Synonyms include essential, primary, central, underlying, root, rudimentary, and elementary.

The FUNDAMENTAL particles that make up an atom are electrons, protons, and neutrons.

On completion of the Introduction to Philosophy course, students should understand the FUNDAMENTAL principles of Plato, Hegel, Kant, James, and Nietzsche, among others.

One FUNDAMENTAL difference between Christianity and Judaism is the role of Jesus Christ.

In the former, he’s the central concept, while in the latter, he’s a minor historical character.

A FUNDAMENTAL change in the way the government allocates funding to schools is needed to ensure promising futures and opportunities for our children.

Open debate of the issues and free exchange of opinion are FUNDAMENTAL to democracy.

According to my 97-year-old Japanese grandmother, eating healthy, taking long, lukewarm baths, and getting plenty of sleep are FUNDAMENTAL to longevity. 

FUNDAMENTAL is also the noun form. It is often, but not always, used in the plural—FUNDAMENTALS.  Synonyms include basis, foundation, groundwork, and principle.

The Basic Accounting course our high school offers covers the FUNDAMENTALS of credit and debt, income and expenses, and assets and liabilities.

Many schools these days have gotten away from teaching the FUNDAMENTALS of grammar and usage, and it shows up in most people’s writing.

FUNDAMENTALLY is the adverb form of FUNDAMENTAL and has several uses.  First of all, FUNDAMENTALLY is used as a synonym for completely or in every way that is important.

Although the Civil Rights movement FUNDAMENTALLY changed attitudes toward racial equality in the United States, lingering unfairness still exists in some areas.

My father had always been FUNDAMENTALLY opposed to the idea of my marrying outside the Jewish faith, so when I told him I was engaged to a Catholic, he was incensed.

Bacteria and viruses are FUNDAMENTALLY different; bacteria are single-celled living organisms, while viruses are organic structures that interact with other living organisms.

FUNDAMENTALLY can also mean basically or essentially.  It is often used as a sentence modifier to introduce a topic. Or it can be used to point out the most important thing about a person or object.

FUNDAMENTALLY, we want our children to grow up in a safe and happy environment, and, as parents, we would do anything to ensure that they do.

Corrine is FUNDAMENTALLY a kind person, but she is quite shy and sometimes comes across as standoffish and distant.

The book’s thesis is FUNDAMENTALLY sound, though it does make some minor factual errors.

FUNDAMENTALISM, by the way, is a noun that refers to the practice of following the basic rules and teachings of a religion very strictly.  A FUNDAMENTALIST is a person who follows a FUNDAMENTALIST religious doctrine.

My primary objection to religious FUNDAMENTALISM and FUNDAMENTALISTS is their intolerance of other views and faiths.



“You okay, Mia-My-Uh?” he asked, sitting down next to me on the steps. I shook my head, too MORTIFIED to talk.  “What’s up?” Dad asked.

MORTIFY is a verb that means to cause somebody to feel ashamed, embarrassed, or humiliated, or to suffer from wounded pride.  Synonyms include humiliate, appall, and shame.

The thought of having to stand up in front of my classmates and give a speech on the female reproductive system MORTIFIES me.

I’m convinced that whenever my boyfriend comes around, my dad walks around the house singing show tunes at the top of his voice just to MORTIFY me. 

Imagine how MORTIFIED Luka was when he got turned around, ran the wrong way, and scored a goal for the other team.

People often mistakenly say MORTIFIED when they mean to say SCARED or TERRIFIED.  It’s easy to understand why.  The root “mort” is naturally associated with death, as in mortician, mortal, and mortuary.  The etymological origin of MORTIFY is a late Middle English word meaning “put to death,” “deaden,” or “subdue by self-denial.”  Death is a frightening thought for most of us, which is probably why you often hear someone say:

I was MORTIFIED when I heard someone smash a window downstairs and break into my house.

This is incorrect: having someone break into your house is not embarrassing; it’s very frightening.  So the person should have said:

I was TERRIFIED when I heard someone smash a window downstairs and break into my house.

Which brings us to another meaning of MORTIFY.  Used primarily to talk about religious fanatics, MORTIFY can also mean to subdue the body or its desires by self-denial or self-discipline.  Synonyms include suppress, chasten, subjugate, and control.

In Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, a member of the Catholic organization Opus Dei MORTIFIES his body as a form of self-punishment and sacrifice.

MORTIFICATION is a noun that means great embarrassment and shame.

I nearly died of MORTIFICATION when, during the Mother’s Day Assembly, my seven-year-old daughter Emily told the entire school, “I love my Mommy because she lets me take sips from her beer.”

When asked about rumors that he had lied about his college background, the look of MORTIFICATION on the governor’s face was enough to prove that the rumors were true.

MORTIFYING is the adjective form and is similar in meaning to embarrassing, humiliating, and horrifying.

The job interviewer asked me about some truly MORTIFYING photos of me at a fraternity party that someone had posted on Facebook.  I just sat there red-faced and dumbstruck.

Forgetting my lines and ruining the school play was a MORTIFYING experience to say the least, but it also somehow led to my wanting to study drama.



I can’t think about that, Mom seeping.  So instead I think about how APPROPRIATE it is that she was hit first, that she was the one to buffer us from the blow.

APPROPRIATE is an adjective that means suitable, acceptable, or correct for the particular situation or circumstance.   Synonyms include proper, fitting, relevant, opportune, and befitting.

Although the man working at the video rental shop recommended the film as suitable for family viewing, Hunger Games was not APPROPRIATE for my eight-year-old son.

APPROPRIATE security measures were implemented after the library was broken into for the third time in two months.

What’s an APPROPRIATE birthday gift for a man who’s turning 92?

Jeans and flip-flops are not APPROPRIATE attire for a wedding!  Now go upstairs and change your clothes at once!

The memorial service for the men who lost their lives when the fishing boat went down in the Bering Sea was held on a cold, wet, dreary day, which somehow seemed APPROPRIATE.

APPROPRIATELY is the adverb form of APPROPRIATE.  Similar words include properly, suitably, and relevantly.

Both state and federal government officials were accused of not responding APPROPRIATELY to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

The neighborhood park was APPROPRIATELY decorated with red-white-and-blue banners, bunting, and balloons to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebration.

An area in China’s Yunnan Province of tall limestone formations that look like petrified trees emanating from the ground is APPROPRIATELY named The Stone Forest.

APPROPRIATENESS is the noun form.

The age-APPROPRIATENESS of simulation war games should be reviewed to ensure that young children, who could be traumatized visually, do not play them.

Sgt. Hodgens questioned the APPROPRIATENESS of using classified information to entrap the suspect into making a confession.

The opposite of APPROPRIATE is INAPPROPRIATE.  Look at these examples of how INAPPROPRIATE is used in its adjective, adverb, and noun forms:

I will not tolerate INAPPROPRIATE language and behavior in my classroom at any time!

As administrator of our company’s website, I must screen each comment and posting and delete any material I deem INAPPROPRIATE.

In the novel Bridget Jones’ Diary, the protagonist Bridget was mortified when she realized she was INAPPROPRIATELY dressed in a bunny costume for her aunt’s garden party.

Although Horrid Henry is tagged as a children’s book, the INAPPROPRIATENESS of the story’s main character makes me question the scruples of both the author and her publisher.

APPROPRIATE is also a verb. It means to take someone’s ideas for your own use, especially illegally or without permission.  Synonyms include copy, poach, steal, borrow, or plagiarize.

Mrs. Burcott was accused of APPROPRIATING funds from the college’s Field Hockey Club to pay for her own extravagances.

Photo images from Lisa’s website were APPROPRIATED by an ad agency in Hong Kong, but because the images are not internationally copyrighted, she can’t do a thing about it.

APPROPRIATE also means to devote money or assets to a special purpose.  Synonyms for this usage include allocate, earmark, set aside, and allot.

Close to five million dollars was APPROPRIATED for the construction of a new community center and outdoor play park in the city’s poorest neighborhood.

The noun APPROPRIATION has two uses.  For one, it means the act of taking something that belongs to someone else, especially without permission.

The film-production company has been sued over their APPROPRIATION of a screenplay written by one of its part-time security staff members.

When I told the boss about Alex’s APPROPRIATION of all my best ideas into his proposal, the boss looked at me as if I were jealously making it all up.

It can also mean the act of keeping or saving money for a particular purpose.

The City Council is meeting this evening to discuss the APPROPRIATION of funds for new picnic tables and a jungle gym for Lion’s Park.



They must have places to go, the people in these cars, but a lot of them don’t turn back.  They climb out of their cars, hugging themselves against the cold.  They APPRAISE the scene.

The verb APPRAISE means to make a formal judgment about the value or quality of something. Synonyms include assess, evaluate, rate, gauge, and consider.

Elijah took a step back and APPRAISED the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline he’d painted for the local theater group’s upcoming production of The Producers

Once every six months, team managers must APPRAISE and rate the job performance of all their staff members.

The director, producer, and main financial backer sat in the darkened theater to APPRAISE each hopeful actress as she walked on stage to audition for the lead role.

APPRAISE can also mean to set a price or value on something.  Similar words include value, price, estimate, and quote.

Although the newly discovered Picasso etching was APPRAISED at two million dollars, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it sold for much more than that at auction.

To ensure that we get our asking price, our estate agent agreed to APPRAISE and list our house for above the market value.

APPRAISAL is one noun form that means (1) the act of assessing someone’s or something’s ulity and (2) the act of setting a monetary value on something.  Synonyms for (1) include assessment, evaluation, judgment, sizing up, and rating.  Synonyms for (2) include valuation, estimate, pricing, and quotation.

My husband is dreading his upcoming performance APPRAISAL.  He and his boss have very different work ethics and hardly ever see eye-to-eye.

Chemotherapy treatments will begin only after a thorough APPRAISAL of the patient’s overall health and physical condition has been made.

My personality APPRAISAL conducted by the school’s guidance counselor indicated that I should consider a career in accounting or finance, not art.   

The Paytons’ run-down summer home sold for ten percent below the realtor’s APPRAISAL, but they were happy just to get it off their hands.

An APPRAISER is someone whose job it is to examine something and say how much it is worth.

A popular APPRAISER from “Antiques Roadshow” will be at the county fair this weekend.  So if you think you have a hidden treasure in your attic, now’s your chance to see what it’s really worth.

Selling a property can be costly, since you will first need to hire an APPRAISER to evaluate it—and those guys don’t come cheap!



The flight from Oregon wasn’t full, so the flight attendant let it (the cello) travel in a seat next to me, just like the pros do it.  My brother Teddy thought that was HILARIOUS and kept trying to feed it pretzels.

HILARIOUS is an adjective that means extremely funny or humorous.  It can be used to talk about people or things.  Synonyms include hysterical and uproarious.  Some informal synonyms include side-splitting, knee-slapping, a scream, a hoot, and a riot. 

Last night’s episode of The Big Bang Theory was the best yet!  Both the situation and the dialogue were HILARIOUS.

Jake thinks he’s HILARIOUS and often laughs uproariously at his own jokes, but the reality is that he’s funny only to himself.

John Bishop is my favorite British comic. His stand-up routines are not only HILARIOUS but are also full of sharp insights and keen observations of contemporary society.

HILARIOUSLY is the adverb form of HILARIOUS.

I just came across this HILARIOUSLY ambiguous sentence that shows exactly why we need to use the Oxford comma:  “I’d like to thank my parents, Simon Cowell and God.”

The website posted twenty images of HILARIOUSLY inappropriate drawings of their parents made by innocent young children.

The comedian HILARIOUSLY mimicked the former vice-presidential candidate, capturing all her mannerisms and linguistic faux pas.

HILARITY is the noun form.  Synonyms include amusement, comedy, humor, delight, and merriment.

All week, I’d been dreading going to my boss’s sure-to-be pretentious dinner party, but my husband Ian’s perfectly timed jokes saved the evening by providing us with HILARITY and much-needed entertainment.



Julliard was across the country.  And expensive.  Mom and Dad were INTRIGUED with the idea of it, but I could tell neither one of them wanted to give me up to New York City or go into debt so that I could maybe become a cellist for some second-rate small-town orchestra.

As used here, INTRIGUED is used as an adjective that means very interested in something and wanting to know more about it.  It can come before a noun or after a linking verb, as in:

As soon as I said “easy money,” everyone in the audience looked up with an INTRIGUED look on their face.

You’re a man of science.  I’m INTRIGUED to know what you think about NASA’s plan to capture and park an asteroid near the moon to mine it for metals.

The teachers at our elementary school are INTRIGUED with the idea of establishing a foreign-exchange-student program with a private international school in Tokyo.

INTRIGUING is the other adjective form. It describes something that arouses curiosity and interest.  Synonyms include fascinating, interesting, absorbing, engaging, appealing, and compelling.

The discovery of a rocky, roughly earth-sized planet 4.4 light years away has led to some INTRIGUING speculation among astronomers and extraterrestrial enthusiasts.

Bentley found the new office summer intern Sophia INTRIGUING, so he worked up the courage to ask her for her phone number. 

A completely carbon-emission-free and zero-waste society is not only an INTRIGUING vision, but in our era of global warming and climate change, an essential one.

The verb INTRIGUE means to make someone very interested and curious about something.  Synonyms include interest, fascinate, arouse someone’s curiosity, pique someone’s interest, and attract.

The little that you’ve told me so far has really INTRIGUED me.  I would love to hear all about your backpacking trip through India. 

INTRIGUED by the discrepancies between the two witnesses’ accounts, Detective Adams took it on herself to dig deeper and find out what really happened.

INTRIGUE can also mean to make secret plans to do something illicit or to harm someone.

Tired of the government’s empty promises, rebel militias INTRIGUED with local villagers to kidnap the president’s daughter and hold her hostage until he made radical changes in social policy.

INTRIGUE is a noun that means (1) the activity of making secret plans to achieve an aim, often by tricking people, or (2) a secret plan or relationship, especially one that involves someone else being tricked.

The new book deals with the political INTRIGUE and illegal maneuvering that turned the recent presidential election into such a mockery of democracy.

John le Carre’s bestselling and highly acclaimed novels about George Smiley examine the world of danger and INTRIGUE that spies on both sides of the Cold War lived in. 

Why do so many used-car salesmen think they have to resort to INTRIGUE and deception to sell cars?  An honest price for a decent car—that’s the way to make a sale.



So in the spring of eighth grade, I decided to quit.  I planned to trail off quietly, by cutting back my OBSESSIVE practice and not giving recitals. 

OBSESSIVE is an adjective that means affected by or suffering from an OBSESSION, which is an unreasonable concern about or preoccupation with something.   Similar words include fanatical, neurotic, compulsive, and excessive.

Unlike my sister Andrea, who is OBSESSIVE about cleanliness and tidiness, I like to live in what I call “comfortable chaos.”  

Connor is a rather OBSESSIVE fan of Shakespeare and can recite nearly all of the Bard’s plays and sonnets word for word. 

These days, I avoid video games like the plague.  I know from sad experience just how OBSESSIVE I can become about winning or clearing the next level.

For more uses and forms of OBSESSIVE, or OBSESS, please refer to Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 10.






The reading passages for today’s lesson all come from a widely admired novel for young people entitled If I Stay.  It was written by Gayle Forman, a Brooklyn, New York, writer who was born in 1971 and began her writing career as a columnist for Seventeen MagazineIf I Stay came out in 2009 and won several prestigious awards both in the United States and in the United Kingdom.  The story is narrated by Mia, a gifted young cellist who, in the blink of an eye, loses everything she loves, forcing her to make a very difficult choice.  The story also has a supernatural element to it:  Mia, while in a coma after an accident, finds herself having out-of-body experiences that enable her to walk unseen through the hospital and see people and listen to their conversations.  Because it involves some disturbing questions about life and death and has some quite realistic accident and hospital scenes (as well as some swearing and sexual references), If I Stay might be more appropriate for slightly older readers.  At the same time, however, the book is moving, thoughtful, witty, inspiring, and full of great scenes and intriguing characters.  It also has a lot to teach us about the joy of music as well as life in a large hospital (even better than ER or House).  If you would like to check If I Stay out and see if it is for you, you can do so at the KA library.



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