1. Think about how to learn something new. Do you agree or disagree with sentences 1-5? Why?
1 My teacher will get angry if I make mistakes.
2 Children learn faster than adults.
3 I must practise every day in order to make progress.
4 If something seems very easy, I must be doing it wrong.
5 Long practice sessions are best.
2. Listen to an experienced teacher talking about the same sentences. Are his ideas similar to yours? Do you agree with his ideas?
NARRATOR My teacher will get angry if I make mistakes.
TEACHER I don’t really think that’s the case. Teachers really do prefer students who try hard, you know, make an eﬀ ort. It doesn’t matter if they make mistakes. In fact, it’s better if they do because if we know what their mistakes are, we can help fix them.
N Children learn faster than adults.
T I guess you could say that children aren’t as busy as adults – they probably have a bit less going on in their lives. And that helps. They’re less distracted and, you could say, a bit more open to learning. But adults – well, they often have really good motivation. They’re often quite focused and they’re really keen to learn. So this motivation can make them faster learners than children.
N I must practise every day in order to make progress.
T Well, in my experience you can practise too much! It’s actually better to take two or three days oﬀ each week. The thing is our brains need a bit of a rest. It’s like muscles when you’re doing physical exercise – you need to rest them. So we need to rest our brains when we’re learning and practising something new.
N If something seems very easy, I must be doing it wrong.
T Yeah, a lot of people believe this, but I think the opposite is true. In reality, if it’s easy, it probably means you’re doing it right. But if something’s diﬀicult or it’s a physical activity that’s causing you pain, then you’re probably doing something wrong. Learning doesn’t always need to be hard!
N Long practice sessions are best.
T It’s much, much better to have shorter practice sessions. You’ve got to remember that most people get tired after about fifteen minutes and they need a short break. The thing is, though, during the fifteen minutes of practice, you really want people to concentrate on what they’re doing – really focus. They’ll get more benefit that way.
3. Listen to Seamus, Fiona and Henry talk about their learning experiences. Answer the questions.
1 Who talks about …?
a the best time to learn
b learning hours
c the strength of memory
2 Do the speakers think the learning ideas they talk about work for them?
4. Listen again and make notes about the things they talk about.
a copying comics
c graphic design
b system for remembering symbols
c colleagues’ attitudes
a tour preparation
b daily learning routine
1 a Henry b Seamus c Fiona
1 a started when eight years old
b friends were really into comics and enjoyed reading his stories
c got a job as a graphic designer after university
2 a loves chemistry because it’s about the things that make up the world
b the letter or letters of the table of elements remind her of the name of a person, and that reminds her of a face and something about the way it looks reminds her of the element
c the system is not a very scientific way of remembering elements
3 a practising full-time, getting them all down
b morning: writing new material, learning words and music; after lunch: physical learning
c working pretty well, songs easier to remember, producing better sound
SEAMUS Ever since I was first able to read, I’ve loved comic books. I just think it’s a brilliant way of telling a story. I’ve read literally thousands of them. But, at the same time, I discovered I was quite good at drawing. When I was about eight years old I started copying some of the pictures in comics and even my parents were surprised by how good my copies were. It wasn’t long before I started making up my own stories. All of my friends were also really into comics, but none of them tried coming up with their own stories. But they quite liked reading mine, so I’d share the comics I wrote with them. This was helpful because it gave me a good idea of what worked and what didn’t. I studied design at university and then got a job as a graphic designer. But all the time I was writing and drawing my own comics – comics for adults and children. I’ve just signed a contract with a major comics publisher in the USA and I can now give up my job as a graphic designer. I think my career in comics is beginning to take oﬀ … well, I hope to do really well. Ten thousand hours? You bet. I’ve probably spent more time than that, but I loved every minute of it.
FIONA I’m a chemist and I’ve been lucky enough to get a research position at a university. I love chemistry because it’s all about the things that make up the world we live in. I find it fascinating. It’s funny, whenever I say that I’m a chemist, one of the first things people mention is the table of elements – you know, all the symbols for all the diﬀerent metals and gases. They can never figure out all those symbols. Well, I have this system where the letter or letters remind me of the name of a person, and that reminds me of a face and something about the way he or she looks reminds me of the element.
One colleague pointed out that this wasn’t a very scientific way of remembering these elements. In fact, some scientists look down on this kind of thing, but it works for me. I find all these ways of making your memory stronger really interesting and I think making associations to help you remember is really useful. I have to remember so much information in my research work, so I want to look into these techniques in more depth.
HENRY I’m a musician – I play saxophone in a band. We’re just about to go on a tour so we’re practising full-time to get ready. We’ve got so much to do before the tour – so much that it’s getting us all down a bit. Apart from needing to practise playing together, we’ve got to write some new songs and learn some others. I read about this idea of learning diﬀerent things at diﬀerent times of the day, so we decided to try it out and see if it’d help. So now we focus on writing new material in the morning, and we also use that time to learn the words and music of some classic songs we want to play – actually studying the notes and remembering the words of songs. After lunch we play together – you know, do the physical learning. And I have to say it’s working pretty well. We’re putting in a lot of work and we feel we’re using the time well. The songs are getting easier to remember and I think our playing in the afternoon is tighter – we’re producing a better sound. The only problem is that some days we get a bit carried away in the afternoon and keep playing into the evening, which means we stay up late and aren’t so good in the morning!
1. Listen to the first part of a programme in which people discuss the book The Sports Gene. Answer the questions.
1 What do we know about Barbara McCallum?
2 What does she think of the ideas in the book?
2. Answer the questions. Then listen again and check.
1 What is the main message of the book?
a The best athletes are often genetically different from most other people.
b There is a particular gene which makes you a good athlete.
c Being a good athlete is mainly a question of luck.
2 Which of these factors does Barbara say are important in Kenyans’ success in running?
a They start running at an early age.
b Many people have long legs.
c Children learn to run in bare feet.
d They train for hours every day.
1 She’s a professional runner and trainer.
2 She mainly agrees with them.
1 a 2 a, b, c
PETER This week on The Book Show we’re talking about David Epstein’s The Sports Gene, in which he claims that many sports professionals are so good simply because they’re lucky enough to have the right genes. According to him, top athletes and other sportsmen are simply diﬀerent from the rest of us. With us is athlete Barbara MacCallum, who is a professional runner and trainer. Barbara, you’ve read the book. Do you think Epstein is right – is it all about having the right genes?
BARBARA Well, I think he’s right that genes are important. And of course we all know that many Kenyans are tall and thin and so on, and also as the book says they live at a high altitude – 1,000 metres – so they have more red blood cells. So these things are important. But I think there’s much more to it than that.
P You’ve lived in Kenya yourself.
B Yes, I’ve lived in Kenya myself and I’ve trained with Kenyan runners, I’ve also worked with Kenyan children. And there really are lots of very good runners in Kenya. But it’s not just about having long legs. They also have a culture of running, everyone runs, even small children, so they have this background, they all see themselves as runners, as good runners. And if you’re poor in Kenya, becoming an athlete is a way to change your life, so everyone wants to be a runner.
P And they run in bare feet. Does that help?
B Yes, it does. It gives you a much better running technique, so that’s important too. So yes, I think it is partly genetic, but it’s also to do with lots of other factors, like having lots of practice, lots of encouragement to run, believing in yourself, and also learning to run in the right way.
P So could I run as fast as a Kenyan?
B Well, yes, you could, but you’d have to start early in life and you’d have to get very fit.
P Well, I haven’t run anywhere for years, so maybe it’s a bit too late to start.
B Absolutely not, it’s never too late. Start training now and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.
3. Listen to the second part of the programme and answer the questions.
1 What do we know about Marta Fedorova?
2 What does she think of the ideas in the book?
4. Listen again and discuss the questions.
1 What does Marta notice about the people she has played against?
2 What conclusion does she reach from that?
3 In what way does she say sporting events like the Olympics are ‘unfair’?
4 Do you agree with her conclusion? Why / Why not?
1 She’s been playing tennis since she was a child and she’s been a professional tennis player for ten years.
2 She completely agrees with them
1 They have physical things in common, like long arms or good eyesight, or being aged between 18 and 25.
2 These are things which can’t be changed, sport isn’t always fair.
3 Some people don’t need to train as much as others because they have a natural advantage.
4 Students’ own answers.
PETER Thank you, Barbara. Well, also with us now is Marta Fedorova. Marta, you’ve been playing tennis since you were a child and you’ve been a professional player for ten years.
P You’ve also read the book. Do you think he’s right? Are some sports people naturally better? Or is it a question of technique and practice, as Barbara says?
M Well, yes, I’ve been thinking a lot about this recently. I used to think that it was mainly practice and technique that were important. You know, if you practise a lot, if you get fit, if you improve your technique, then you’ll win. But after reading this book I’m not so sure. For example, I’ve played maybe 50 serious matches this year. And I’ve won about half of them. If I think about the people who beat me, they all have certain things in common physically. Short bodies but longer arms for example.
P Like you.
M Well, yes, I suppose so! And very good eyesight, obviously. And mostly aged 18 to 25. And these are things that you can’t really change. So yes, there is something in it.
P So sport isn’t as fair as we like to think?
M That’s right, and that’s really what he’s saying in this book. When we watch the Olympics, for example, we think it’s a fair competition between equals, but it isn’t. We’re watching a competition between very diﬀerent types of people who have diﬀerent natural advantages. So there will be people who need to train very hard to get where they are and others who don’t need to train so much, and there will be some people who can naturally finish 40 seconds ahead of all the others, and so on. So fairness in sport doesn’t really exist.
1. Listen to Part 1. Answer the questions.
1 Where have Becky and Tom been?
2 What has happened?
2. Are the sentences true or false? Listen again to check.
photographs Becky has taken Tom’s colleagues
dinner Becky’s café job Tom’s promotion
Becky’s classmate, Tessa
3. Listen again. What do they say about the topics?
1 the supermarket
2 They’ve both bought two bags of cheese (on oﬀ er).
photographs Becky has taken
Becky’s classmate, Tessa
photographs Becky has taken. She’s taken very good photos and she’s gradually got better.
Becky’s classmate, Tessa: amazing natural ability, maybe she’s been practising for years
Tom’s promotion: He will tell his parents on Saturday.
Dinner: cheese on toast
BECKY So when are you going to tell your parents about your promotion?
TOM This weekend, I think. We’re seeing them on Saturday, remember?
B Oh yes. Anyway, as I was saying – about Tessa …
T Tessa, yes, your classmate …
B She’s just got this amazing natural ability.
T So have you.
B But I’ve been taking photos for years …
T Very good ones too …
B … and I’ve gradually got better, but Tessa …
T Maybe she’s been practising for years, too. In secret! So what’s for dinner then?
B Well, I got some cheese, some chicken and some salad.
T Cheese? You mean the one on oﬀer?
B Yeah. Two for one – bargain.
T Yes, it was a bargain. That’s why I got some.
B Well, I guess I know what we are having for dinner.
T Cheese on toast?
B Cheese on toast.
4. Listen to Part 2. What wedding plans do Becky and Tom talk about?
5. Listen to Part 2 again and answer the questions.
1 What’s the first decision they have to make?
2 Who seems more focused on wedding plans? Why do you think so?
the date, guests, the venue, the cake
1 Who they should invite.
2 Tom seems to have the more serious attitude towards planning the wedding.
TOM Anyway, as I was saying … about the wedding. I was thinking we should start making some decisions if we want to get married in June.
BECKY Yes, you’re right.
T So what do we need to think about?
B Well, the usual things: guests, a venue for the reception, the cake.
T So maybe the first thing to decide is …
B … who should we invite?
T I mean, do we want a large wedding with lots of guests or just a small one?
B How about … how about we invite … no one?
B We can just have a secret wedding. You know, go to Las Vegas in America – or something like that.
B It’s an idea …
T Seriously Becky – don’t you think it’s a good idea to set a limit? Say no more than 80 guests?
B Yes, I suppose it is.
B And … Tessa!
T Sure – we can invite her.
B … Well, yes … but I was thinking … we’ll need a photographer.
T Well, yes.
B But don’t you agree that Tessa would be perfect as the photographer?
T Um … Becky … that’s kind of an unnecessary detail right now.
B Yes. Of course.
T To go back to the guests …
B OK, so how many relatives, how many friends?
6. Listen to Part 3. What is the main topic of Becky and Tom’s conversation?
1 food for the weeding
2 their wedding clothes
3 the guests they’ll invite
7. Listen again. What do they say about the topics below? Make notes.
1 Aunt Clare
2 Uncle Fred
3 Tom’s colleagues
4 Regent’s Lodge
5 after they get married
1 Aunt Clare: she’s mad
2 Uncle Fred: he’ll sit next to Aunt Clare; he never says anything
3 Tom’s colleagues: Becky suggests inviting them to the evening reception; Tom thinks it’s easier not to invite them
4 Regent’s Lodge: wedding venue; near where Becky’s cousin lives; lovely old hotel
5 after they get married: where they will live
TOM So, if we just invite close family and friends …
BECKY We’ll have to invite Aunt Clare.
T Your mad Aunt Clare?
B We have to invite her.
T Of course, we could sit her next to my Uncle Fred.
B But he never says anything.
T Exactly – the perfect pair.
B Who else? What about the people you work with?
T Hmm – I don’t know about that.
B We could always invite them to the evening reception.
T Don’t you agree that it’d be easier not to invite them?
B But I would like to invite Tessa.
T As I said – that’s fine. Anyway, I think we need to limit it to close friends and family members. Even the scary ones.
B I sort of get both excited and nervous when I think about it.
T It’ll be fine. So the next question is where?
B Well, there’s that lovely old hotel … you know, near where my cousin lives.
T Oh … ‘Regent’s Lodge’.
B Actually … thinking about where … after we’re married. Where are we going to live?
T Hm. Good question.
B What you might call a necessary detail?
1. Marco talks to three people at a sports complex: Lizzie, Barry and Patricia. Listen and match the speakers to the sports in the photos.
2. Listen again and make notes for each speaker:
1 reasons for choosing their sport
2 experience of the sport
3 future plans
Lizzie: wanting to do exercise, not good at sports; been doing it just six months, trains four days a week on a track and on the open road; going to compete in small local race
Barry: finds it uncomfortable to run, initially he did it to have fun; been doing it just over a year – realised he’s good at it; going to compete in championships this winter
Patricia: good at basketball and wanted a sport to get fit; been doing it for about nine months, practises once a week; her team is thinking about entering some championships
REPORTER This is Marco Forlan reporting from the multi-million pound Market Street Sports Complex. It’s huge – it’s got so many diﬀerent courts for diﬀerent sports – tracks for athletics and cycling. It’s even got its own indoor snow slope. It’s been up and running for a year now, so I’ve come down to see just how much use it’s getting. So, Lizzie, you haven’t been doing this long, have you?
LIZZIE No, just over six months.
R And before that?
L Well, nothing. I was one of those people who was pretty hopeless at sport at school. In basketball I could never catch the ball very well and I couldn’t throw it far enough. And I’ve never been a fast runner.
R So you were always last to be picked for a team?
L Yeah, that was me! Everyone else was so much more talented and they looked down on me. But I wanted to do some kind of exercise, and, to be honest, I almost don’t consider this a sport – it’s just something I used to do to get to school. I train four days a week now and I do a mix of track and open road. It’s my favourite part of the day.
R And in the future?
L Next month I’m going to compete in a race. It’s just a small local one, but it gives me a goal to aim for. I’ve been training quite hard for the past six months now. I train here on the track, but also on the open road.
R Good luck with your race.
R Hey, Barry – that was quite an impressive jump.
R So how long have you been doing this?
B Just over a year. I took it up after I recovered from a foot injury. You see, I used to run marathons, but now I find it really uncomfortable to run long distances.
R And did you get started here at the centre?
B Yeah, that’s right. In the beginning I was just having fun – you know … And then I realised I was quite good at it. What I enjoy is … it’s mostly about skill and the way you use your whole body – it’s not just about strength.
R And have you ever tried it out in the open?
B Yeah, last winter I went to France and had my first go on real snow. I met a lot of amazing people there including a few professionals. They told me that I’ve got a naturally good style.
R Any plans for the future?
B I’m going to compete in some championships this winter and I’ve just bought myself this new board. I just wish we had real mountains in England.
R That’s a great-looking board. Have fun!
R That was a pretty energetic game, Patricia.
PATRICIA Yeah, it was fun.
R So you’re new to the game?
P Yeah, I started about 9 months ago.
R How did you get into it?
P I took it up because I wanted a sport for myself. You see, I’ve spent the past six or seven years taking my two children to diﬀerent sports events. They’re older now and can get to sports practice on their own. So I had to figure out what I’d like to do.
R How did you decide?
P Well, I was always quite good at basketball, but I wanted to try something new. And I wanted a sport that would get me fit, and this certainly does. Once I’d looked into a range of options – the choice was easy.
R This is a fairly new sport in the UK …
R So how is it diﬀerent from basketball?
P Well, you can actually take three steps with the ball – so long as you do it in three seconds.
R That’s not long. And how often do you practise?
P Once a week and then we have a friendly game. I enjoy the social side of things as much as the competing. Next year my team’s thinking about entering some championships.
R Well, I hope you continue to enjoy it.
1. Listen to a conversation between two friends about their school days. Match names 1-5 with a-e to make sentences.
3 Mr Edwards
5 Mrs Taylor
a argued with Mark.
b believed in Mark.
c was good at maths.
d was good at sports.
e was good at teaching grammar.
2. Listen again. Look at the opinions. Who has these opinions – Tina, Mark, or both? Tick (✓) the correct box.
Both Mark and Tina
1 Martina is likely to have a successful career now.
2 Julia was very arrogant.
3 Mr Edwards was a very good teacher.
4 Sarah didn’t have a good relationship with anybody at the school.
5 Learning French at school wasn’t very enjoyable.
6 The school trips were not always educational.
1 d 2 c 3 b 4 a 5 e
1 Both Mark and Tina 2 Tina 3 Mark
4 Mark 5 Mark 6 Both Mark and Tina
TINA Mark, I’ve been going through my cupboards and I’ve found some old photos from school. Do you want to look at them?
MARK Yeah, of course!
T Right, well, here they are. There are quite a lot … Look at this one – do you remember her? Martina?
M Oh yes, Martina … I do. She was brilliant at maths, and all those kinds of subjects, wasn’t she?
T Yeah. I wonder what happened to her. Probably became an economist or something.
M Yeah, I reckon. Anyway, I bet she’s really successful, whatever she’s doing.
T Oh, and here’s one with you in it.
M Yeah, but who’s that with me? I don’t recognise her.
T That’s Julia. Don’t you remember her?
M Oh yeah, Julia, of course. She was really talented at sports, wasn’t she?
T Yeah, tennis especially, I think.
M Well, I haven’t seen her for years anyway.
T No. I know that she lives in Madrid now.
T Yeah, she’s been living there a while. I don’t know what she’s doing there though.
M I didn’t like her much, to be honest. She was always a bit too … competitive.
T Yeah, I know what you mean. She wasn’t exactly my favourite person either. We both represented the school at athletics, but she was always so arrogant. Like she thought she was better than us. And she was always going on about tennis!
M I wouldn’t say she was arrogant, to be honest. Just too competitive for me!
T Hmm, look at this one. It’s me, you, and Mr Edwards.
M The best teacher ever!
T Hmm, I’m not sure about that.
M Come on! I thought he was exceptional. He was the only one that made me really feel I had any ability. You know what I was like at school. But he really seemed to believe in me.
T Well, I suppose what I liked was that he made us try out new things. But anyway … have a look at this one.
M Oh, that’s Sarah.
T Yeah. Didn’t you fall out with her once? At a party or something?
M More than once, I think. We didn’t get on – in fact, nobody at school got on with her.
T Right, let’s move on quickly then! Here, look – it’s our whole class, after a French lesson, isn’t it?
M Yeah, look, there’s the French teacher.
T Mrs Taylor.
M Yep. That classroom doesn’t bring back too many happy memories, I have to say.
T But you have a talent for languages. You speak French really well now, and Spanish.
M Yeah, but the lessons at school weren’t for me. I’d say that Mrs Taylor was skilled at teaching grammar, but we never did any kind of speaking practice, did we? I can only actually speak French because I’ve been to France so often, and spoken to real French people.
T Mmm. Ah well, here’s the last one. A school trip, but I don’t know where we were.
M No, nor do I. That just looks like a field in the middle of nowhere! I used to love the school trips, though.
T Yeah, they were fun. And sometimes we even learned something!
M Sometimes, yeah. But most of the time it was just good to get out of school for a day!
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Possibilities
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- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Dilemmas
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – City living
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Around the globe
- Practice English Listening B2 Exercises – Chance