KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 19

KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2: Lesson 19

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Taskmaster Lesson 19 Passage 

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Taskmaster Lesson 19 Mini Test 1 

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Taskmaster Lesson 19 Mini Test 2 

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Taskmaster Lesson 19 Mini Test 3

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KA WORDCAST Taskmaster Book 2 Lesson 19

Today’s words were taken from four passages from a novel called The Switch.  (See For Your Information below).  To listen to a recording of these passages, tune in to the KA Voicecast Website.


It had no pillowcase, and though it might once have been white, it was now stained with dried-up puddles of sweat and saliva, DIVERSE shades of yellow and brown.

DIVERSE is an adjective that means showing a lot of variety. Synonyms include various, varied, different, miscellaneous, sundry, and diversified.

Using models from a DIVERSE range of backgrounds and ethnic groups is common in advertisements for clothing companies such as GAP and Benetton.

My two sisters and I have very DIVERSE ideas on how to raise children, which can make for some interesting discussions.

Coral reefs are in fact highly DIVERSE, complex communities that are under threat from global warming and ocean pollution.

Joanie loved living in central London because of the DIVERSE range of shops, restaurants, and types of entertainment available, not to mention the many different kinds of people.

The noun DIVERSITY means a range of different things or the state of being DIVERSE.  Synonyms include variety, assortment, array, and miscellany.

India’s geographical DIVERSITY is mirrored by the DIVERSITY of its people, who reflect a myriad of racial characteristics, social patterns, and cultures.

The DIVERSITY and creativity of the entries in the new school-logo design competition led to much debate among the judges and a nail-biting wait for the finalists.

Professor Majors was pleasantly surprised to find a considerable DIVERSITY in the style and political perspective of the reports submitted by his journalism students.

The verb DIVERSIFY means to make or become more varied. Synonyms include branch out, vary, bring variety to, variegate, and mix.

Marram grass was introduced to stabilize the sand dunes at Newham Beach.  Further plant species are expected to follow and help DIVERSIFY the ecosystem.

Because of the current low market price for many crops, farmers have been forced to DIVERSIFY, using their land for a range of innovative new ventures.

The trilobites, extinct marine arthropods, DIVERSIFIED into a great number of species.

In an effort to DIVERSIFY their revenue sources, many colleges now offer evening and weekend courses aimed at full-time workers who wish to upgrade their qualifications.

In economics, the term DIVERSIFY means to spread investment among different things.

The decreasing supply and increasing price of fossil fuels has forced some oil companies to DIVERSIFY by investing in the development of alternative-energy technologies.

Fair-trade producers can use their premiums to make the investments they need to DIVERSIFY into other crops.



There was a window with no curtains, but he couldn’t see out of it because the glass was the OPAQUE sort that you sometimes get in bathrooms or toilets.

OPAQUE is an adjective.  When talking about things, it means not transparent or unable to be seen through.  Synonyms include cloudy, unclear, filmy, and murky.  When talking about writing, speech, or ideas, OPAQUE means difficult to understand.  Synonyms include confusing, vague, ambiguous, uncertain, puzzling, and abstruse.

The manager had OPAQUE windows installed so workers could not see into his office.

Harvey was convinced that the once clear mountain stream, which was now OPAQUE, had been polluted by the nearby mining operation.

The city-desk editor sighed as he read the report from the trainee journalist.  It was written in long OPAQUE sentences totally unsuitable for his newspaper’s readers.

The Premier’s explanation was more OPAQUE than usual, with everyone in the audience shaking their head in confusion.

OPACITY is a noun meaning the condition of being OPAQUE.  Synonyms when used for things include murkiness, opaqueness, and cloudiness.  Synonyms when used for ideas include vagueness, ambiguity, and obfuscation.

Marge and Marvin’s scuba dive turned out to be a big disappointment because the OPACITY of water meant they couldn’t see anything.

Tropical storms over the Gulf of Mexico disturbed the sediments on the seabed, increasing the OPACITY of the gulf’s waters.

The OPACITY of much philosophical writing makes its meanings inaccessible to the average person.

The OPACITY of the admissions process was hugely frustrating for parents who hoped to enroll  their children in the prestigious local primary school.



And when the kidnappers were finally caught (and of course they would be), he would have to go to court to TESTIFY.

The verb TESTIFY has a number of meanings.  First, it means to make a declaration of truth or fact under oath, as in a court of law or before a government body.  Synonyms include take the stand, give evidence, or attest.

The police officer accused of falsifying evidence TESTIFIED that a fellow officer had forced him to tamper with the evidence. 

Dr. Fitz was a forensic accountant by trade, and would regularly be called upon to TESTIFY in court using his math and accounting knowledge.

Mr. Torrence was called before a Congressional committee to TESTIFY on his role in the sub-prime fiasco.

TESTIFY also means to make a statement based on personal knowledge in support of an asserted fact.  Synonyms include swear, declare, and avow.

Many astronauts have TESTIFIED that the feeling of weightlessness they experience in space is exhilarating.

Thousands of satisfied customers have TESTIFIED to the new model’s ease of use and durability.

TESTIFY can also mean to declare one’s faith in something.

The cult’s members are required to stand up before the group every evening and TESTIFY their undying allegiance to and love for His Supreme Masterfulness.

TESTIFY can also be used to mean affirm, verify, prove true, and serve as evidence for.

Recent archeological excavations TESTIFY to the fact that the region’s iron-age settlers lived in communities and cultivated the land.

The exhibits at the Padstow Sculpture Weekend, which will be held on the 8th and 9th of June, TESTIFY to the talents and versatility of the local sculptors.

The fact that so many people wanted to pitch in with Marion’s surprise 70th birthday party TESTIFIES to her popularity.

Thirty-six pages of bibliographical references TESTIFY to the breadth of research that has gone into this monumental work.

The noun TESTIMONY means a formal statement given in a court of law or other official body.

The accused’s childhood foster mother’s TESTIMONY as a character witness was an important element of the defense’s case.

The bankers were ordered to give TESTIMONY before the Secretary of the Treasury.

The suit against the government is based on the TESTIMONY of residents who will be displaced if the proposed highway construction project goes through.

TESTIMONY (and the related noun TESTAMENT) can also mean something that serves as evidence for something else, or it can be an assertion offering firsthand authentication of a fact.

Winning the graduate study grant is TESTIMONY to the exchange student’s diligence and intelligence.

Alexander Fleming’s accidental discovery and isolation of penicillin in September 1928 serves as TESTIMONY to the role of serendipity in scientific research.

As TESTIMONY to our good faith, we are offering passengers who were inconvenienced by the computer-system error 20,000 bonus miles on our Fly-Hi mileage program.

The new downtown library’s “living building” design is TESTAMENT to the city’s commitment to the environment.

One more related noun is TESTIMONIAL, which is a written affirmation of or a public tribute to something or someone.

Celebrities often give TESTIMINONIALS on TV to some product’s excellence, but I wonder if they really use those products.



The room was DOMINATED by a large fold-down bed, and now he realised that there were two people inside it, buried beneath a blanket that rose and fell as they breathed.

The word DOMINATED is the past tense of the verb DOMINATE, which has a number of meanings. For one, DOMINATE means to govern or rule by superior authority or power.  Synonyms include control and command.

Successful leaders DOMINATE politics and business by anticipating problems and phenomena rather than just reacting to them.

Dictators and tyrants DOMINATE their countries by controlling the media and restricting the flow of information to the populace.

DOMINATE also means to enjoy a commanding or controlling position in some field or area.

Krispy Kreme still DOMINATES the doughnut market in America, though the popularity of the fattening snack has been waning of late.

Smartphone use is surging, and these handy, multifunctional devices are likely to DOMINATE the field of consumer electronics for the foreseeable future.

Alternative energy sources like wind and solar power will eventually take over for fossil fuels, which have DOMINATED the energy market since the Industrial Revolution.

The Midwest was once DOMINATED by huge herds of bison, whose numbers have now dwindled to next to nothing.

Finally DOMINATE can mean to overlook from a height.

The view from the Cliffside Bed-and-Breakfast chalet that DOMINATES the valley is alone worth the price of the stay, though the food and service are also spectacular.

The scenery in Glenfinnan in the highlands of Scotland is DOMINATED by an old railway viaduct, which has recently been featured in the Harry Potter films.

DOMINANT is an adjective meaning chief or foremost, or exercising the most influence or control. Synonyms include primary, principal, influential, and prevailing.

The leaders of the DOMINANT labor unions were called in to the White House to try to find a way out of the current nationwide strike.

Now, with the emergence of all-electric cars, lithium is set to challenge petroleum as the DOMINANT fuel of the future.

Osprey eggs don’t hatch all at once, but are staggered in time so that some siblings are older and more DOMINANT.

The verbose DOMINANT stockholders had to be restrained to allow some of the lesser members to have their say at the annual meeting.

DOMINANT can also mean occupying an elevated or commanding physical position.  Synonyms include prominent, prevailing, and paramount.

The new Shard Tower is the DOMINANT building in the London skyline, and looks just like its name implies.

Start with a visually DOMINANT plant of an appropriate height and scale, and make it the centerpiece of your flower garden.

The noun DOMINATION means the state of being DOMINATED or the act of DOMINATING. Synonyms include rule, influence, command, repression, and supremacy.

Becky has finally got out from under the DOMINATION of her demanding father, and is now feeling liberated and invigorated.

DOMINANCE is another noun meaning the condition or fact of being DOMINANT.  Synonyms include ascendance and control.

Your dog needs to realize that all humans are higher up on the DOMINANCE ladder than he is. 

When several great white sharks congregate, they express their DOMINANCE with body bumps and controlled biting.

The team’s perennial DOMINANCE of the league has been challenged recently by two teams with only half the budget.

By the way, in genetics DOMINANT is a term used to refer to a gene that is expressed in an organism and masks the effect of the recessive gene.

The gene for brown eyes is DOMINANT while the gene for blue eyes is recessive.



A slow MALICIOUS smile spread across his face, making the cigarette twitch.  “Have you been at the glue again?” he muttered.

MALICIOUS is an adjective that means having the nature of or resulting from MALICE.  So first of all, let’s take a look at the noun MALICE.  MALICE is a desire to harm or hurt others, or to see others suffer. Synonyms include animosity, hatred, ill will, spite, resentment, vengeance, and bitterness.

The prosecutors claimed that the defendant acted with MALICE and had deliberately knocked the cyclist off his bike.

June tried to talk to her friend Barbara about her weight problem, and even though there was no MALICE in what June said, Barbara took offense and stormed off.

Richard was subjected to people’s stares and cruel remarks because of his facial disfigurement, but he magnanimously bore no MALICE towards anyone.

Now let’s go back and look at the adjective MALICIOUS.  Synonyms include malevolent, resentful, and spiteful.

Maya was the victim of a MALICIOUS rumor, and she swore to find out who had started it.

It is important to regularly update the virus-detection software on your PC, as MALICIOUS new software is being created all the time.

It is inevitable that at some time or other most celebrities will find themselves the target of MALICIOUS gossip in the tabloid press.

MALICIOUSLY is an adverb describing something done with MALICE or ill intention.

The Democratic mayor’s reputation was tarnished by a false police report that had been MALICIOUSLY fabricated and spread by his Republican opponent.

Freddie was MALICIOUSLY attacked by students from a rival school, even though he had done nothing to provoke it.

Wanda MALICIOUSLY let the air out of her ex-boyfriend’s tires when she saw his car parked in front of his new girlfriend’s house.



“What?” Tad’s legs were COLLAPSING beneath him. 

The word COLLAPSING is the progressive form of the verb COLLAPSE, which has a number of different uses.  First, it means to suddenly fall down or crumple inward.  Synonyms include cave in, fall in, give way, sag, crumble, and slump.

The warehouse roof COLLAPSED under the weight of the snow, but thankfully, no one was inside the building at the time.

In the accident, Paula suffered a COLLAPSED lung and some minor cuts and bruises, and was lucky to escape alive.

The February 2011 Christchurch earthquake caused many buildings in the country’s second-largest city to COLLAPSE, and the deaths of nearly 200 people.

The COLLAPSE of the footbridge that linked Eel Pie Island in the Thames to the riverside in Twickenham meant that island dwellers had to use boats to travel the short distance to and fro.

When referring to a person, COLLAPSE also means to break down suddenly in strength or health and thereby to cease to function.  Synonyms include faint, pass out, black out, and keel over.

Exhausted after a double shift in the emergency room, the new resident COLLAPSED on the locker room bench and fell straight to sleep.

The fireman had lost his mask and COLLAPSED from smoke inhalation, and was carried to the waiting ambulance on a stretcher.

We all almost COLLAPSED with laughter when Agnes showed us the ridiculous outfit she planned to wear to the Halloween costume party.

When referring to an institution or undertaking, COLLAPSE also means to fail suddenly or completely.  Synonyms include fall through, founder, go wrong, and break down.

The peace talks COLLAPSED when it became clear that the two sides’ agendas were diametrically opposed and neither side was willing to negotiate.

The Great Depression of the 1930s came after the stock market COLLAPSED and panic set in.

The negotiations over the sale of the apartment building COLLAPSED when no agreement could be reached among the owners of the various units.

COLLAPSE can also be used as a noun to mean breakdown and can refer to things or people.

Trapped by the COLLAPSE of a passageway, the miners waited in the dark for three days before finally being rescued, just as their oxygen supply was about to run out.

The recent COLLAPSE of the President’s approval rating does not bode well for his re-election.

Following her COLLAPSE on stage, the young opera star was still in the hospital and reported to be in serious condition, though no details of her exact ailment have been released.

Kazu suffered a COLLAPSE from overwork, and his doctor ordered him to take at least two weeks off to rest and recuperate.

The adjective COLLAPSIBLE means capable of COLLAPSING or being COLLAPSED.

Fed up with the overcrowded trains on his morning commute, Javier bought a COLLAPSIBLE bicycle and now cycles to work in the morning and takes his bike home on the train in the evening.

When you have limited space in your home or flat, the answer might be COLLAPSIBLE tables and chairs that can be stored away when not in use.



Thick cables snaked across the ground, joining everything to everything in a COMPLEX tangle.

In the passage above, the word COMPLEX is used as an adjective meaning consisting of many different and connected parts.  Synonyms include complicated, involved, intricate, and convoluted.

In the rice paddy fields of Bali, a COMPLEX network of water channels is used to ensure that the fields are properly irrigated.

Blind mole rats navigate effortlessly through their COMPLEX underground burrows.

COMPLEX also describes something that is not easy to analyse or understand.  Synonyms include complicated and intricate.

Basil is an aromatic herb that has a bright, COMPLEX, and slightly anise flavor and is used as a seasoning in a wide variety of dishes and cuisines.

Some snowflake shapes are so COMPLEX that no computer has ever been able to generate a model of them.

The COMPLEX group behavior of social insects such as ants and bees has long intrigued scientists and other observers.

The acting in the movie was superb, as was the camerawork, but the thriller plot was simply too COMPLEX and convoluted for me to follow.

The word COMPLEX can also be used as a noun meaning a group of buildings or facilities on the same site.  Synonyms include network, system, and web.

Our city’s new public leisure COMPLEX boasts a skate-park, climbing wall, indoor caving system, running track, fitness center, and Olympic-size pool.

A COMPLEX of hotels, restaurants, and entertainment venues sits alongside the picturesque lake, making this the ideal weekend getaway.

The new industrial COMPLEX to be built on the old slum site is expected to create thousands of new jobs for city residents.

As a noun COMPLEX can also be used informally to mean obsession, phobia, or preoccupation.

I told my husband that there was no point in developing a COMPLEX about losing his hair.  “There is nothing you can do about it,” I said. “You just have to accept it.”

In the old days, a person who was shy and docile and too eager to please was said to have an inferiority COMPLEX, a term that has now dropped out of favor.

The noun COMPLEXITY means the state or quality or being COMPLEX.  Synonyms include complication, difficulty, intricacy, and confusion.

The contemporary video game involves a fully realized imaginary world, dense with detail and levels of COMPLEXITY.

The COMPLEXITY of the current billing system for electricity and gas customers in the UK means that many people have no idea if they are being charged correctly.

The paper’s crossword puzzles progress in COMPLEXITY as the week goes on, with the Saturday puzzles being by far the most challenging.



Although the rain had eased off, it was still drizzling, and this, along with they gray light of early morning, made the scene even more WRETCHED.

As an adjective, WRETCHED can be used in many different ways.  In the passage above it is used to describe harsh, grim, or miserable conditions or circumstances.

The family’s living conditions were particularly WRETCHED, and the social worker assigned to the case immediately placed the children in foster care.

On October 5, 1990, a New York Times report exposed the WRETCHED conditions that existed in many Romanian orphanages.

The annual scout camp was abandoned after several days of WRETCHED weather.

WRETCHED can also describe a person’s very unhappy or unfortunate mental or physical state, or the state of being unwell or sickly.

The WRETCHED dwellers of the shantytown don’t choose to live there; they are the victims of circumstance over which they have little or no control.

The WRETCHED look on the little girl’s face as she stood in the pouring rain waiting for the bus melted Miguel’s heart, and prompted him to offer her his umbrella.

I cannot describe how WRETCHED I felt when I thought I might never see you again.

Being sick in bed with the flu for a whole week was awful.  I have never felt so WRETCHED.

The adverb WRETCHEDLY means in a WRETCHED manner. Synonyms include miserably, poorly, and painfully.

Conditions in the prison were WRETCHEDLY overcrowded, which led to the spread of disease and growing unrest.

The noun WRETCH means an unfortunate or unhappy person.  Synonyms for this usage include poor creature or poor soul.

In the movie, the poor WRETCH of a protagonist loses his job, his home, and then his wife and kids, all because of a case of mistaken identity.

A WRETCH can also be a mean or unpleasant person.  Synonyms include villain, tyrant, scoundrel, rascal, and rogue.

I wouldn’t trust that old WRETCH if I were you.  She’d just as soon stab you in the back as look at you!

By the way, the verb RETCH, a homonym for WRETCH, means to vomit, or to try to vomit.

People who suffer from bulimia make themselves RETCH after every meal.



The man waved a LANGUID hand.  “Please sit down.”

LANGUID is an adjective meaning displaying or having a disinclination for physical exertion or effort. Synonyms include relaxed, unhurried, leisurely, listless, and weak.

It is natural to feel LANGUID after a long illness, which is the body’s way of keeping you from overexerting yourself.

Feeling LANGUID and lazy, I spent the weekend in bed reading one detective story after another.

LANGUID can also describe things or places.

Hawaii’s LANGUID atmosphere is a big part of its charm.  No one rushes around from place to place as they do here in Tokyo.  Hawaiians just take things as they come.

The LANGUID breezes took the edge off the summer heat and made for a perfect outdoor evening.

The adverb form is LANGUIDLY, which means in a relaxed and listless manner.

Standing on the ship’s deck, Patricia LANGUIDLY waved a handkerchief at her parents, who were both waving back with tears in their eyes from the dock far below.

LANGUISH is a related verb that means to become weak or feeble, or to feel miserable or wretched.

Children who don’t get enough attention and tender loving care are apt to LANGUISH both mentally and physically.

This year, the flowers and plants in my garden are LANGUISHING from lack of rain, and water-use restrictions mean I can’t water them.

Wrongfully convicted, Mr. Patterson LANGUSIHED away in prison waiting for his lawyer to uncover evidence that would exonerate him.




One of the most popular young people’s authors anywhere, Anthony Horowitz, from whose 1996 novel The Switch the reading passages for this lesson were taken, is also a famous screenwriter for TV and films.  The British author’s many Alex Rider adventure stories are read and loved by millions of fans throughout the world.  As today’s readings from The Switch no doubt have told you, Thomas Arnold David Spencer, otherwise known as Tad, is a spoiled rich kid who lives in a mansion, gets driven around in a Rolls-Royce limousine, and has more toys and gadgets than he knows what to do with.  One morning, after wishing the night before that he could get away from his control-freak parents and be someone else, Tad wakes up in a shabby cramped caravan and finds himself turned into poor Bob Snarby, the son of wretched carnival workers.  Suddenly Tad is thrust into a world of poverty and squalor, of malicious criminals and mysterious fortunetellers.  But then Tad also finds himself in possession of an important and dangerous secret.  If you like what you’ve read of The Switch so far and would like to see how it all comes out, feel free to check the novel out from the KA library.



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