Exercise 1

A. Listen to these stories about lucky breaks. What were the people doing before they got their lucky breaks? What were their lucky breaks?


What they were doing

Lucky break

1  Yang Zhifa



2  Gwyneth Paltrow



B. Listen again. How did the events change their lives?

Answers & Audioscripts


1   He was looking for water/drilling a well when he hit something hard. He discovered an important archaeological site.

2   She was at a movie theater/waiting in line to buy popcorn when she noticed Steven Spielberg. He offered her a part in a movie.


Before the discovery, Yang Zhifa was an ordinary farmer. Today he sits in the museum, signs autographs, and poses for pictures.

Gwyneth Paltrow got her first movie role. This led to a career as an actress.


1   Yang Zhifa

MAN:   About forty years ago, Yang Zhifa was just an ordinary Chinese farmer. He was living off the land and was very poor. Today he is recognized as the man who discovered a highly important archaeological site, sometimes called the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” What happened?

One morning in March 1974, Zhifa and some other local farmers were looking for water. As they were drilling a well, they hit something hard. They found pieces of pottery and ancient weapons. Immediately, the head of the village reported the news to the local government, and in May 1976, the digging began. To everyone’s surprise, there were over 8,000 soldiers made of terracotta lying underneath his land. The soldiers were over 2,000 years old, and had been buried along with Emperor Qin, who wanted to take an army with him to his next life.

Today Yang Zhifa spends much of his time at the Terracotta Army museum. He sits, poses for pictures, and proudly signs autographs for the millions of tourists who visit from all over the world.

2   Gwyneth Paltrow

WOMAN:   You could say that actress Gwyneth Paltrow was born lucky. After all, she is the daughter of two well-known talents. Her mother is an actress, and her father was a writer, producer, and director. But like all people wanting to break into movies, she had to go to drama school and learn how to act. Today, Gwyneth Paltrow is a successful international actress and has even won an Oscar award. So how did it all begin?

According to Ms. Paltrow, her lucky break came when she was 18 years old. She was at a movie theater with her parents. While they were waiting in line to buy some popcorn, she noticed that Steven Spielberg was also in line. She was just about to order when he came over to her and said, “Hey, can I ask you a favor? Would you play Wendy in the movie Hook?” “Sure,” she said, and so she got her first movie role.

Exercise 2

Listen to two other people at the party. What has happened since they last saw each other?

Answers & Audioscripts

The man has been looking for a house to buy and finally found one last month. The woman went to Italy last month. She’s been taking some classes in Italian cooking.


MAGGIE:   Hey, Bob, how’s it going?

BOB:   Pretty good, thanks.

MAGGIE:   I haven’t seen you for a while. What have you been up to?

BOB:   Well, I’ve been looking for a house to buy. I finally found one last month.

MAGGIE:   That’s terrific!

BOB:   Yeah. I’m really tired of renting. So what have you been doing lately?

MAGGIE:   Well, I went to Italy last month.

BOB:   Really? What were you doing there?

MAGGIE:   I was taking a short Italian course. But guess what! I fell in love.

BOB:   You did? Who’s the lucky guy?

MAGGIE:   Actually I fell in love with the food there. So I’ve been taking some classes in Italian cooking. That pizza you’re eating – I made it!

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