1. Listen to the interview. What are the two main ideas of a ‘smart city’ Choose two of the answers below.
1 People in it have a good quality of life.
2 It responds to people’s needs.
3 It encourages people to have new ideas.
2. Listen again. What new information do you hear about …?
1 traffic in London, UK
2 parking in Dublin, Ireland
3 energy use in Masdar, UAE
4 daily life in Songdo, South Korea
1 A system where they monitor cars, public transport system with a single card.
2 A system which monitors traﬀic congestion and tells drivers where they can find a free parking space.
3 The whole city is powered by solar panels, public transport is electric, a 100% sustainable city.
4 Residents have a 15-minute walk across a park to work and they can use the park in their lunch break.
A So what exactly is a smart city?
B Well, it can be all kinds of diﬀerent things, but there are two basic ideas. One is that the city uses technology to improve the quality of life of the local residents, so that they can live more slowly and with less stress. And the second one is that the city itself reacts to problems, rather like a living person would.
A Can you give me some examples?
B Yes, London is a good example. They have a system where they monitor cars driving into the centre and automatically charge the driver for the time the car spends there. So it cuts down traﬀic congestion and pollution, but it also means the driver doesn’t have to stop and buy a ticket or look for money – so it saves time, too. And to use the public transport system you just need a single card and you can go everywhere with it. So you don’t need to spend time queuing for tickets. Or in Dublin, in Ireland, they have a system which monitors traﬀic congestion, so drivers can avoid streets with traﬀic jams, and it also tells drivers where they can find a free parking space. Apparently 30% of traﬀic congestion in most cities is caused by people looking for parking spaces, so that’s a huge saving in time and money.
A So the main point of smart cities is to improve the environment?
B Yes, but it can take many diﬀerent forms, it’s not just about traﬀic congestion. For example, there’s a new city in the UAE called Masdar. It’s in the middle of the desert and the whole city is powered by solar panels, and public transport is electric. So it’s a 100% sustainable city – it uses zero energy and there’s no air pollution. Or there’s another new city in Korea called Sondo, which is planned around a central park. So from all the residential areas there’s a 15-minute walk across the park to get to work and people can also use the park in their lunch break. I read a report recently that said that green spaces in cities really improve people’s mental health, so the park sounds like a great idea.
A So it’s not just about the environment. It’s about urban development in general?
B Yes, exactly.
A And do you think this is how cities will be in the future?
B Oh, I’m quite sure of it. The technology is there already. We’re all connected now on the internet, so the next step is to connect the people with the city – and it’s already happening very quickly.
3. Listen to Daniela and Richard talking about the cities they live in. Answer the questions.
1 Do they like living there? Why / Why not?
2 Do they think it fits the idea of a ‘smart city’?
4. Which of these points do Daniela and Richard make? Listen again to check.
1 In many American cities, people work in the centre but live outside the city.
2 The centre of Munich is quite a relaxing place to be.
3 Munich has serious problems with traffic congestion.
4 Bangkok is disorganised but full of life.
5 It’s easy to find places to sit and relax in the city centre.
6 The centre of Bangkok is too expensive for ordinary people to live there.
1 Daniela: Yes, it’s been developed to suit the people who live there.
Richard: Yes, it’s so full of life and there are people everywhere.
2 Daniela: yes
1, 2, 4
DANIELA I think it’s a good idea to make cities better places to live because a lot of cities have developed on a kind of American model. In other words, the city centre is taken over by big companies so there are hardly any shops or people living there. Instead, most people live in big high-rise blocks around the edge of the city and they go to big shopping centres in their cars. So it’s really good to change that balance and make the city centre a place for people to live. I live in Munich, in Germany, and in a number of ways I think it is a ‘smart city’, because it’s been developed to suit the people who live there. The centre’s a pedestrian zone, closed oﬀ to traﬀic, people cycle everywhere, and there are plenty of good cafés and parks and places to sit outside. So you can wander through the city and take your time, and it’s nice and quiet. Also, there’s a very good public transport system, so people don’t need their cars as much.
RICHARD I don’t think you have to design a city to make it a nice place to live. I live in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, and it certainly isn’t a planned city – it’s just grown naturally. In some ways it’s quite a chaotic city, there are cars everywhere, lots of traﬀic jams, a lot of noise, and there are very few green spaces where you can sit, so if you want a bit of peace and quiet, forget it! But I love living here. It’s so full of life and there are people everywhere. In the street where I live, there are lots of ordinary apartments plus a few hotels, there’s a very good vegetable market, there are quite a few restaurants, and there are people selling things in the street. So there’s everything you need, plus lots of traﬀic, of course. So it certainly isn’t a ‘smart city’, but it’s very exciting to live here!
1. Listen to Antonia and Rob talk about house renovations. Do they feel the same about renovating?
2. Listen again. Answer the questions for each person, Antonia and Rob.
1 What changes has he/she made?
2 What’s the result?
3 What will he/she do next?
No. Antonia is addicted to renovating and wants to do more. Rob has started some renovating but can’t finish it.
1 Antonia: pulled out the original kitchen cabinet and replaced it; uncovered the original fireplace and chimney; repainted the kitchen; knocked down the dividing wall between the dining room and the sitting room
Rob: knocked down the wall between his cellar and his garage
2 Antonia: a lovely homestyle kitchen that she’s really satisfied with
Rob: it looks like a worksite
3 Antonia: the bedroom and the bathroom
Rob: finish it oﬀ
ANTONIA As with most things in life, I started small. Not long after I bought this apartment, I suddenly decided that the cabinet in the kitchen was ugly. It was modern and beige and I couldn’t stand it. A few days later, I found this absolutely gorgeous, old, wooden cabinet from the 1920s in a second-hand shop. I pulled out the original cabinet and replaced it with the one I found. And then everything looked wrong. I also discovered that the original fireplace and chimney were covered up and underneath there were these lovely, old red bricks. The cover had to come oﬀ. Then the paint work looked just awful … and so it went on. Now, I’ve got a lovely homestyle kitchen. I’m really satisfied with that. But I wasn’t at all satisfied with the layout of the dining room and the sitting room. They were two very small rooms. And I thought – just imagine – knock down the dividing wall and I could have this lovely open living space. So, one weekend, I got busy and the wall came down! I’ve still got some work to do there. Then there’s the bedroom … I haven’t had time yet … and the bathroom needs major attention. OK – I admit it – I’m addicted to renovation. I can’t help myself. I love doing these things myself. Getting it done by a professional isn’t nearly as much fun. But, hey, there are lots of worse things to be addicted to and my apartment’s looking better and better with every day!
ROB You see, under our house, there was a kind of cellar and a garage. And there was also a small passage between the two. They’re the kind of places where we keep things we no longer use. But I suddenly had this great idea. What if I knocked down a few walls and made the cellar and the garage one big area – a kind of basement that the kids could use as their space. I got a friend of mine who’s an engineer to have a look and make sure it was possible – I mean, I didn’t want the house to fall down! And he said, sure, no problem. And I’ve helped a lot of friends and family do this kind of thing in the past – like, I’ve got a pretty good idea about what to do. So, I had this great weekend where I knocked down the walls – I loved that – you can really see the potential – immediately. Problem is – once you knock something down, you kind of have to build a few things in their place, so it doesn’t look like a worksite. But, well, things have been busy at work and at weekends there are lots of things to do with the kids – sports matches and stuﬀ like that. I mean, I fully intend to finish it all oﬀ. That’s what I keep promising my wife. But she thinks I’ve got a ‘commitment problem’. You know, I’m not committed to finishing oﬀ the renovation. Maybe she’s right – but these things aren’t as easy as they look. I suppose I could have it done by a professional – but that’s expensive. I just say that it’s a ‘work in progress’. It’ll get there. Eventually.
1. Listen to Part 1. Where are Becky and Tessa and what are they doing?
2. Listen again and make notes on the topics below.
1 Tessa’s photo
2 the photo competition
3 Tessa’s feelings about the competition
4 Becky’s meeting with Tom
1 Tessa’s photo: good angle, could use it for the competition
2 the photo competition: it’s free, £500 prize
3 Tessa’s feelings about the competition: can’t be bothered
4 Becky’s meeting with Tom: estate agent, rent a flat after they are married, 12 o’clock
TESSA This is a really good angle.
BECKY Let’s have a look. Oh that’s great. We can use that one in the competition.
T What competition?
B Didn’t you get the email?
T I don’t think so. I don’t remember.
B It’s called ‘London architecture in photographs’. It’s a free competition. The college said they’ll enter our bridge photos.
T I’m not sure I can be bothered. I don’t really see the point.
B Well, the first prize is £500.
T OK, that’s diﬀerent! Let’s take some more.
B Oh! I completely forgot the time – I’ve got to go. I’m meeting Tom at 12.00.
T Why don’t you call him? Tell him you’ll be late.
B I can’t. We’re meeting the estate agent.
T Estate agent?
B Yeah, we’re looking at flats. You know, we want to rent a flat. For after we’re married.
T Oh, right. You’d better go then.
B Yeah. See you later.
T Bye. Good luck.
3. Listen to Part 2. Which sentence describes what happens?
1 The estate agent is positive about the flat and Tom and Becky like parts of the flat.
2 Tom and Becky like the flat, but they think it’s too small and the estate agent agrees with them.
3 The estate agent is positive about the flat, but Tom and Becky think it’s awful.
4. How does the estate agent describe the flat? Choose the words or phrases for each room.
cosy a nice view quiet practical
good-sized perfect convenient
1 the living room
2 the bedroom
3 the kitchen
5. According to Tom and Becky, what problems does the flat have?
1 good-sized, a nice view
2 perfect, cosy, quiet
3 practical, convenient
It’s tiny, too noisy, and it smelt damp.
BECKY Hi. So sorry I’m late. I was taking photos with Tessa.
TOM That’s OK. This is Katie West. She’s from the estate agent’s.
B Hi, lovely to meet you. I’m Becky.
KATIE Very nice to meet you, Becky. Good. So I’ll show you the first flat. We’ve had a lot of interest in this already. As you can see, it’s in a great location, right by the shops, close to the station. Follow me …
K Here it is. It’s a lovely flat for two people. Not too big. Just right for the two of you.
T Two rooms and a kitchen?
K Yes, two rooms, a kitchen – and a bathroom.
K So here’s the living room. Quite a good-sized room. And a nice view of the street …
K And here’s the second room. It’s a bit smaller, but it’s perfect as a bedroom. Nice and quiet in here – cosy.
K And here’s the kitchen. Quite practical and er … yeah, has everything you need for a kitchen. It’s very convenient. I’ll leave you to it.
T Well, I can see why the price is low.
T Yeah, and too noisy. Right on the main road.
B Yeah. And it smells all damp. Horrible.
T Yes, awful.
B Oh, dear.
T Well, let’s see what the next one’s like.
K So, what do you think?
T Yeah, um, it’s nice.
B It’s lovely! But maybe not quite what we’re looking for.
6. Listen to Part 3. How is this flat different from the one in Part 2? Do Tom and Becky take the flat?
7. Are the sentences true or false? Listen again and check.
1 The flat has been on the market for a few weeks.
2 Becky is worried it’s too expensive for them.
3 Tom and Becky start thinking about how to arrange the flat.
4 Two other people have expressed interest in the flat.
5 Tom needs time to decide what to do.
No, Tom will let the estate agent know this afternoon.
1 F – it has just come on the market
4 F – they’ve had one other enquiry
KATIE This one’s just come on the market. I think you might like this one better. Have a look round, see what you think.
BECKY Thank you. This is a a lovely flat. But can we aﬀord it?
TOM Well, with my promotion … I have got a bit more money now.
B It really is lovely.
T Look, this could be a kind of sitting area by the window …
B Yeah, that’s a great idea. And we could have some plants and some bookshelves, or a big lamp.
T Mm, that would work well.
B And this would make a great dining area, we could have a table and some interesting lights.
T Yeah, and I can imagine a big TV right here.
K So, what do you think?
T Yeah … it’s a brilliant flat, um …
K Well, we have had one other enquiry this morning. But if you’re definitely interested …
T We’ll think about it. Can I let you know this afternoon?
K Of course, no problem.
1. Listen to six people talking about a shopping mall planned for their local area. Is each person in favour (F) of the plan, against (A) or do they have mixed views (M)?
2. Listen again. What reasons does each person give for his/her point of view? Make notes. Use the words/phrases in the box to help you.
progress living space convenient
safe the price you pay part of a chain
1 F 2 M 3 A 4 M 5 F 6 A
1 A mall is going to ruin this neighbourhood. Why can’t they create a nice green living space instead?
2 It’s going to be really convenient to have plenty of shops nearby.
3 This will change the neighbourhood. It’ll make it a lot busier and noisier. But I guess that’s the price you pay for convenience.
4 There’ll be a large number of the same old shops. Everything’s part of a chain these days. I wouldn’t mind if they had a few more interesting shops in the mall.
5 But a new supermarket and lots of shops? That’s progress – it’ll be great.
6 We’ll have so many people and traﬀic passing through our streets. I really don’t know how safe it’ll be to live here. I’m thinking about my children.
RYAN I think it’s a really bad idea. What do we need a shopping mall for? I mean, we’ve got a local shop and that sells quite a good range of things – anything you need in an emergency. There’s a supermarket only about 5 kilometres and it’s so easy to get there by bus. A mall’s going to ruin this neighbourhood. Why can’t they create a nice green living space instead?
SUSIE I think it’s great. It’s going to be really convenient to have plenty of shops nearby. If I have to do anything like, I don’t know – go to the supermarket or get my hair cut or something – I have to go into town and it takes such a long time in the traﬀic. Can’t wait for them to build the mall – it’s exciting.
CAROL Well, I am looking forward to having a range of shops nearby. There aren’t enough in this part of town. But I know this will change the neighbourhood. It’ll make it a lot busier and noisier. And there’ll be so much traﬀic. But I guess that’s the price you pay for convenience.
DUNCAN The idea of a mall doesn’t particularly bother me, but I guess there’ll be a large number of the same old shops – very boring. Everything’s part of a chain these days. I wouldn’t mind so much if they had a few more interesting shops in the mall – you know, something like an independent music shop or something. But I know that won’t happen.
MILES Well, it’s about time. That local shop we have is useless. They never order enough of anything and they’re always running out of milk and bread and basic things like that. But a new supermarket and lots of shops. That’s progress – it’ll be great.
MARION It’s going to completely change the community. I mean, a number of families live in this part of town and we have young children. Apart from the traﬀic, we’ll have so many people passing through our streets … I really don’t know how safe it’ll be to live here. It’s just … well, I’m thinking about my children. I want them to be safe.
1. Listen to a conversation between two friends, Sam and Julie. Underline the correct words to complete the sentences.
1 Sam lives in the city centre / outside the city centre.
2 Julie lives in the city centre / outside the city centre.
3 Sam and Julie are completely / generally / not at all satisfied with where they live.
2. Listen again. Are the sentences true or false?
1 Julie wanted to use public transport to meet Sam, but it wasn’t practical.
2 Sam is able to travel to the city centre from his home without difficulty.
3 Julie and Sam do not agree about how good the entertainment opportunities in the centre are.
4 Sam and Julie do not agree about the level of pollution where Julie lives.
5 Sam doesn’t go to the parks in the centre because they’re too far from his flat.
6 Julie is considering moving back to the city centre again.
7 Julie and Sam agree that for people living in the city centre, life is faster than for people who travel in every day.
8 Julie and Sam agree that they are both lucky to live where they live.
1 in the city centre 2 outside the city centre 3 generally
True: 1, 2, 4, 8; False: 3, 5, 6, 7
JULIE Hi Sam, sorry I’m late.
SAM That’s OK, Julie. Everything OK?
J Yeah, you know, just the usual – couldn’t find a parking space. There just aren’t enough round here.
S Yeah, I know.
J I’d have used public transport, but it probably would have taken even longer. The buses from where I work take such a long time to get into the centre. There’s so much traffic congestion along the roads there.
S Yeah, I suppose I’m lucky I live so close to the centre. But sometimes I do get a bit fed up with that, to be honest.
S Yeah, well, I think the quality of life where you live is probably better. There’s so much air pollution here in the centre, and then all the traffic congestion … well, you know about that.
J Yes, I certainly do.
S Sometimes I think it would be nice to live in a big residential area like you do, instead of in the centre. In a nice detached house instead of my flat!
J Well, there are definitely advantages. I can take the underground to the centre from where I live and it’s quite quick and convenient.
S Yeah, exactly.
J But there’s not much for local residents, really. I mean, there are just flats and houses where I live, and a few supermarkets. No theatres, no cinemas. You’ve got all the entertainment you could want right on your doorstep.
S Yeah, I know – I’m lucky in a lot of ways. And if I want to get something done, it’s normally quite easy – I don’t have to travel too far.
J Yeah, and to be honest, I’m not sure if the air quality is much better where I live than in the centre. I mean, it’s still the same city, isn’t it?
S Maybe, but at least you’ve got a bit of greenery to help. I’m sure that sucks in some of the pollution. In the centre there’s what – one park?
J Err … two.
S Oh, yeah, two. You see – I never go to the parks in the centre. They’re not very nice, are they? These are people there that I don’t really feel comfortable sitting next to on a bench!
J No, I agree – we’ve got some nice parks where I live. But you’ve got your terrace, haven’t you? You’ve got some plants and flowers out there?
S Yeah, but it’s not the same.
J I know, but remember what they say – the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. You live in the centre and you dream about living where I do. And I sometimes really wish I still lived in the centre!
J Of course. Just to be in the middle of everything again. But I’m sure I’d get sick of it.
S The thing is, I don’t think things used to be so bad. There are so many more cars now than ten years ago. So many more people, I think.
S And life just gets faster and faster. People don’t know when to slow down any more. Living in the centre feels like living at double the speed of the rest of the world.
J Maybe, but it’s not too different for people who commute in, you know. Everyone hurries onto the train, hurries off, hurries to the office, hurries back home.
S Yeah but in the evening, you can relax.
J Hardly. Most evenings I just think about all the work I’ve got to do the next day!
S Oh, it can’t be that bad.
J No, I’m exaggerating. I do manage to relax in the evening.
S Me too. We should both stop complaining – I’m sure there are lots of people who’d love to live where we do.
J Agreed. Let’s go and get that coffee …
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Possibilities
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Discoveries
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Dilemmas
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Around the globe
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Chance
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Life lessons