Exercise 1 – The history of English

Listen to a short movie on the history of English and mark the sentences T (true) or F (false).

 English has been changing for more than a thousand years. 

 The Latin-speaking Romans conquered the native Celts in AD 43.

 The Anglo-Saxons came to Britain from northern France after the Romans left.

 The Anglo-Saxons rejected the monks who wanted to convert them to Christianity.

 The arrival of the Vikings gave English about 2,000 new words.

 King Harold defeated the Vikings and then the Normans in just three weeks.

 The Normans didn’t introduce many French words.

 Shakespeare gave English as many new words as the Vikings.

 In the 20th century, British English “borrowed words” from American, but not vice versa.

10   Today there are more native than non-native speakers of English.


1 T   3 F   5 T   7 F   9 F

2 T   4 F   6 F   8 T   10 F


The history of English

Hello I’m Chris and welcome to London. But before we move from Big Ben to the London eye, I need to send a tweet.

Only a few years ago “tweet” was something only birds did, now everybody’s “tweeting”… often using “textspeak” or “emoticons.” But the inventiveness of the English language is nothing new. It has been evolving for over 1600 years.

In AD 43 the Romans invaded Britain, conquering the indigenous Celts and taking over most of the country. In AD 409 they left and around 50 years later several tribes from around northern Germany – including the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes, better known as the Anglo-Saxons – started to move in. They settled in the east, but unlike the Romans, the Anglo-Saxons didn’t set out to conquer. They shared many things with the Celts – including language.

Unlike Latin – which had never really caught on with the locals – people started using Anglo-Saxon terms for lots of everyday things, like “man,” “woman,” and “friend.”

But then Latin made a comeback! This time it didn’t arrive with Roman soldiers, it arrived with Christian monks. Christianity became very popular with the locals, and introduced a whole new alphabet and religious vocabulary.

Then the Vikings arrived in around 800 AD. Their warrior spirit was reflected in their language. They “raced” through the country “ransacking” towns and villages armed with “knives” and “clubs.” They “took” land, goods and slaves, but they “gave” English around 2,000 words.

The Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons battled for almost 300 years until the English King Harold won the Battle of Stamford Bridge. But only three weeks later the unlucky Harold was killed by William the Conqueror – a Norman from France – at the Battle of Hastings. William became the King of England and started building castles all over the country. French became the language of the wealthy elite. It was the native tongue of all “princes,” “dukes,” “barons,” and “dames.” But English remained the language of the peasants. Farmers herded “cows” and “sheep,” which were Anglo-Saxon words…but the nobility ate “beef” and “mutton,” which were French words.

Over the next 300 years the two languages mixed until English eventually won out, albeit with 10,000 new words from the French. This richer language was the perfect plaything for poets and playwrights, and one literary genius contributed more than most. William Shakespeare wrote 38 plays and 150 poems. He also coined around 2,000 new words and his turn of phrase transformed the entire language.

The 16th century was also the Age of Discovery and for Britain this meant the birth of an Empire that stretched across the globe. The British colonialists often used native words and soon words like “safari” from the African language Swahili, “pajamas” from the Urdu language in India and “boomerang” from the native Australian language Dharuk, had entered the language. But the country that had the most impact on English was America. The newly independent America needed a new type of English – American English. American English kept many of the old English words, so today English “curtains” are still American “drapes,” English “wardrobes” are American “closets,” and English “trousers” are American “pants.” But the language changed a lot, too. The father of American English was Noah Webster. He created a new dictionary that simplified the spelling of lots of complicated English words. He also introduced uniquely American words like “squash,” “chowder,” and “skunk.” By the twentieth century there were two main types of English – British English and American English. But throughout the twentieth century both continued to change and borrow from one another, especially with the invention of “computers” and the “internet.” Suddenly we needed new words to describe our “blogs,” “posts,” and, of course, “tweets.”

Today English is truly global. There are around 375 million native speakers, and about 1.5 billion people learn it as a foreign language. But it is always changing and shifting to suit our needs. Today the English vocabulary has over 170,000 words… and counting. We are inventing new words every day and if we don’t know them we just “Google” them on our “smartphones” or… send a “tweet.”

Exercise 2 – The comic book writer

Listen to a short movie about a comic book writer. Answer the questions.

 Where is Midtown Comics located?

 What kind of people does it attract?

 How long does Chris have to finish his comic book?

 How does Chris’ father help?

 What is the name of Chris’ superhero?

 How does Midtown Comics get people excited for new comic books?

 How does Chris describe the superhero he created?

 How many pages is Chris’ final book?

 Does the book get selected for the young artists’ event?

10   According to Chris’ father, why do people like superheroes?


 in Times Square in New York City

 all sorts of comic book fans

 four weeks

 he illustrates the book

 the Protector

 costume competitions

 strong, doesn’t give up, built on endurance

 thirty six

 yes, and it’s made the book of the week

10   they celebrate humanity


The comic book writer

N = Narrator

 In the very heart of New York City, under the bright neon lights of Times Square, lies Midtown Comics. No comic store in the US is larger. And deep shelves mean room for all sorts of comics, and comic book fans.

Gerry   There’s never a normal day at Midtown Comics.

N   It’s a place where fiction comes to life. Alongside fans, you’ll find the writers, comic book artists, and dedicated collectors who make up the community. They are drawn by the stunning artwork and thrilling adventures, which come together to unleash the imagination. Each and every comic book is the end result of a very long process, which starts with a dream.

Chris   My name is Chris Notarile. Comic books have inspired me to create my own heroes.

N   The streets and skylines of New York have been fictionalized as the backdrop for some of the best known superhero fiction. A New Yorker himself, Chris feels at home in the superhero genre. He’s all set to create his own comic book.

Chris   The dream is to bring The Protector to life and go from this comic character into ultimately a feature film. I just want it. I’ve been going to Midtown Comics on and off for most of my life. Basically, careers begin there. [to Thor] I’m making a comic book, what are some of the steps I’d have to take to get it into Midtown basically?

Thor   I get pitched ideas all the time. […] I can only put his comic on the shelves if it is good enough. Best thing you could do is work really hard on the book. Chris has got to prove to me that his comic is as good as he says it is.

N   Chris has the character designs, the script, and a couple of pages from the book. But if he wants it on the shelves for the next young writers’ event at Midtown, he is going to have to speed things up. Four weeks to go and the countdown begins.

Chris   OK cool, great, thanks. Thanks man.

Thor   Yeah, no problem.

N   The love of comic books runs in Chris’s blood.

Chris   My dad is a graphic artist. He’s actually a professional illustrator. He is one of the top illustrators in his profession.

N   So getting the book ready in full color by the agreed deadline is now a family effort. His dad has the expertise and is willing to put in the time, but it’s up to Chris to put together a successful pitch.

Chris   I need to make this happen, there is no plan B.

Chris’s dad   Succeeding against what look like insurmountable odds is a superhero characteristic. They triumph when all else fails and I think that’s where Christopher got a lot of his resolve.

N   In order to build up excitement and show off the potential the book has to become a feature film, Chris is shooting a promo. For The Protector, he must cast an actor who can pull off a look that says he’s ready to fight crime and overcome evil. No small feat, but Chris thinks Nick has what it takes.

Chris   Today we are going to be doing The Protector promo. I’m very excited. I am one step closer to pitching to Midtown.

N   Chris needs to get the Protector’s costume just right. Fans love the cosplay aspect of superhero fiction and they will spot a second rate costume from a mile away. At Midtown comics, costume competitions are a way of getting customers excited about the next big release. But no one is interested in a costume with no character. So what makes the Protector unique?

Chris   The Protector has definitely been a character who, no matter what happens to him, he stays strong he does not give up. He’s a character built on endurance. Action!

N   Protecting people from the dangers of the city is just as important as fighting criminal masterminds. And it’s in the every-day superhero struggle that he’s able to prove his worth. The same goes for Chris, who during the filming is faced with his fair share of unexpected obstacles.

Chris   Good! Get inside, get inside! And that’s a wrap. [Clapboard sound]

N   Four long weeks of working around the clock has all come down to this one moment of truth. Is The Protector worthy of the famous Midtown shelves?

Chris   The book’s finally finished, as you can see. Thirty six pages of pure awesomeness. This book will be on the shelves by the end of the day.

Thor   This is it?

Chris   This is the book.

Thor   It looks awesome, it really does.

Chris   Not only did I make you a comic book, I made you a film.

N   The promo speaks the universal language of superhero blockbusters.

Thor   That’s pretty impressive. It’s the first time I’ve ever seen somebody come in with their own movie and their book.

N   Not only does Chris make the young artist’s event at Midtown, the Protector is made the book of the week, kick starting Chris’s career.

Chris’s dad   The superhero celebrates humanity. It’s what we all aspire to be and it gives us hope that we can be that.

N   People might look at the Midtown family and wonder why they spend so much time and effort on comic books or dressing up as superheroes. What is all the fuss about? But to Chris, the answer is crystal clear.

Exercise 3 – Giving presentations

Listen to a short movie on giving presentations. Complete the sentences with two or three words.

1   The one thing Louise hates about her job is _______ _______.

2   Nowadays in most jobs you need to be able to deliver a message _______ and _______.

3   RADA opened in the Haymarket in _______ in the year _______.

4   Actors and public speakers use a lot of the _______ _______ to engage an audience.

5   The RADA approach can be summarized as “_______, _______, _______.”

6   After Louise’s first presentation, the instructor gives her some _______ _______.

7   If you can get your _______ _______ right it will help your breathing.

8   In public speaking it’s important to _______ an _______ from the beginning.

9   It’s equally important to end on a _______ _______.

10   The RADA technique gives you the skills to _______ in _______.


 public speaking


 London; 1904

 same skills

 think, breathe, speak

 interesting feedback

 body language


 positive note

10   grow…confidence


Giving presentations

Hi, I’m Louise. I work for a local newspaper here in London. I love writing and I really enjoy interviewing, but there’s one thing about my job I really hate – and that’s public speaking.

The problem is that no matter what work you do, speaking in public is almost impossible to avoid. These days, most roles require communication skills. From small presentations to big conference speeches, you need to be able to deliver a message clearly and confidently.

But for people like me this isn’t easy. I find speaking in public terrifying. I become tense and nervous and find it very difficult to relax. So that’s why I’ve come here – to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

RADA first opened in the Haymarket in London in 1904. It offers training for theater specialists, including actors, stage managers, directors, and designers. It has become one of the most famous acting schools in the world and some of the entertainment industry’s biggest names have studied here.

But what am I doing here? Well, it’s about time I overcame my fear of public speaking, and to do this I need to become a good actor.

After all, actors and public speakers use a lot of the same skills. Both should tell a story and both should engage an audience. Because of this, RADA runs several public speaking courses into a series of individuals and of course, individuals are never as scary as the mass. Does that make sense?

People come here to develop an actor’s approach to speaking effectively and Sandie – an actor for over 30 years – is going to show us the way.

The RADA approach to public speaking can be summarized in three words – think, breathe, speak. First, we’re going to focus on the ‘think’ part.

“Tell me if anything doesn’t make sense.” “No, it does and I’ve always wanted a really grown-up …”

First, we’re going to focus on the “think” part.

“First of all, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but why are you here?”

“Um, well I tend to do a lot of one-to-one work with people when I’m interviewing them …”

At this stage, you talk through your concerns and set an objective for the session.

“… there’s a big group of people and they’re not behind a microphone or TV camera, I get so nervous – even when I’m meeting new people at parties or dinner parties, so it would just be good to learn a few techniques to feel more confident “ “OK, so …”

Then you give a presentation in your usual style and get some interesting feedback from Sandie.

“… So, that’s about it.” “Very, very well done. Thank you very much indeed. Really well done, Lou. How was that for you? So I think you’re absolutely charming, Lou. You come across with a real positive energy. You’ve got a lovely open face. You very clearly are naturally engaging, which means I, as your audience, am naturally engaged. You’re friendly, you’re affable and you’ve got a great smile, which is wonderful. Things, small things, that I think you might be able to do differently: so, you were playing with your feet. You were playing with your feet like a five-year old. So, if I say that you were doing that on your heels …” “Right. Oh, yeah.” “Do you know what I mean?” “Yeah, yeah, yeah.” “And then you crossed your legs.” “Right.”

“Probably the most significant thing that I noticed that you could do differently is to slow down.” “…see yourself and feel yourself confident and sure …”

If you can get your body language right, it will help your breathing and controlling your breath is central to good public speaking. You learn to relax and find the power behind the voice through warm-up and breathing exercises.

“I trust, Lou, that you are aware of that amazing range you have. Yes?”

“Yeah.” “So, you’re breathing in, sighing in, pushing out. Pushing all the air right out. Waiting …”

Once you have mastered the thought and the breath you can finally speak. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds.

“Good afternoon.” “Brilliant, you’ve done that really, really well. You’ve got the hang of that. So now we’re going to get a bit of oomph into our voice by doing it like an opera singer.” “Good afternoon.” “Good afternoon.”

It isn’t always easy to speak naturally, but eventually – after a lot of practice – the words start to flow. Then you can move on to a full paragraph.

“I’ll share some very embarrassing stories and I’ll explain the impact that our work has on very lonely people.”

You have to make an impact from the beginning and Sandie gives you the A, B, C, D of the perfect opening. And it’s just as important to end on a positive note.

… body language and anticipate finishing by 4 p.m.

Speaking and communicating are two very different things, and communicating effectively takes skill, perseverance, and lots of hard work. Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as just reading the right words; you need to tell the story, too. But if you can do this you will draw in your audience, and as they relax, you’ll relax, too.

“Yeah, I thought your pace was excellent: it was really measured, it was clear. I would have understood exactly what you were about to do, who you were and why you were doing that. So, as far as I’m concerned, that was really effective communication.” “Thank you.” “Pleasure.”

I still feel nervous about speaking in front of people, but at RADA I enjoyed public speaking for the first time, and the more I enjoyed it, the better I became. And that’s what the RADA technique is all about. It gives you the skills to grow in confidence so, like an actor, you can face your audience with assurance rather than fear.

Exercise 4 – The history of penicillin

Listen to a short movie on the history of penicillin and mark the sentences T (true) or F (false).

1   Alexander Fleming was the first person to find a way to prevent infection.

2   After discovering penicillin, his problem was that he couldn’t produce enough of it.

3   Florey and Chain weren’t interested in Fleming’s results.

4   By early 1940, they had discovered a way to produce penicillin in large quantities.

5   The drug was urgently needed because of World War II.

6   In 1945, Fleming, Florey, and Chain won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

7   Doctors are not to blame for the reduction in effectiveness of antibiotics.

8   Antibiotics can be bought without a doctor’s prescription in some countries.

9   If we do not control the use of antibiotics, it will be impossible to carry out operations.

10   We need national legislation to restrict the use of antibiotics.


1 F   2 T   3 F   4 F   5 T   6 F   7 F   8 T   9 T   10 F


The history of penicillin

I’m Nigel and this is St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Humanity has always fought against disease and infection, but it wasn’t until the 19th century that people began to understand the role bacteria and other germs had to play. This led to rapid improvements in hygiene and, for the first time, people could prevent infection. But it wasn’t until 1928 that Alexander Fleming found a way to treat infection, when he discovered penicillin here at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Alexander Fleming was a Scottish doctor and scientist. He was born in 1881 and began research here in 1906. Fleming was a brilliant researcher, but he was notoriously messy. After a month’s vacation he returned to find a mold growing on a bacteria sample he had discarded. As he was throwing it away he noticed the mold was actually killing the bacteria. When he investigated further he found the type of mold was Penicillium. Fleming named the substance it released penicillin.

Fleming realized that penicillin could treat infection, but he couldn’t produce enough of the antibiotic agent to be truly effective. It looked like the end of the road for penicillin, until two Oxford scientists took up the challenge.

Howard Florey was an Australian pharmacologist and pathologist working at Oxford University. He led a team researching antibacterial agents produced by microorganisms.

Ernst Boris Chain had fled Nazi Germany to work as a scientist in England. He was one of Florey’s most talented colleagues and was studying naturally-occurring chemicals that could kill bacteria.

Together they started looking into Fleming’s discovery and decided they had better reinvestigate some of his findings. Based here, at Lincoln College, an entire team of Oxford-based scientists were soon working on penicillin and by late 1940 they had invented a way to mass-produce the drug. They had also trialed the drug here, at Oxford’s Radcliffe Infirmary.

By this time another war – World War II – had started. Suddenly there was a great need for a drug which could fight infection and the American War Production board was willing to spend big money. By 1945 they were able to produce enough penicillin to treat the entire Allied forces. That same year Fleming, Florey, and Chain won the Nobel Prize in Medicine and penicillin was being hailed as a wonder drug.

Penicillin was the first antibiotic, a range of drugs used to treat and prevent infections. There are now more than a hundred antibiotics which can treat all kinds of illnesses, from mild conditions like acne to serious infections like meningitis. For over 70 years they have saved countless lives, but scientists warn we are now facing a new threat – antibiotic resistance.

Bacteria are living organisms, and like any living thing they adapt to survive. Many strains of bacteria have evolved to fight off antibiotics and this means some infections are now resistant to treatment.

Although some of this resistance is naturally occurring, much of it is our own fault. Antibiotics have become far too widely used, meaning that many strains of bacteria have been overexposed to these drugs and, as a consequence, have developed resistance.

There are several reasons for this, but one of the most damaging is over-prescription. Some doctors have used antibiotics as a “cure-all” treatment, prescribing them for minor illnesses. As a result, many patients now demand them, regardless of what they are suffering from or how effective the drugs will be. In some countries antibiotics are even available over-the-counter, so there are almost no restrictions on how they’re supplied.

This over-use of antibiotics has fueled the rapid growth of resistance, and if it continues, it will have disastrous consequences. Suddenly illnesses we regard as minor could be deadly, and most major surgery – such as heart operations or cancer treatment – will be impossible to carry out because the risk of untreatable infection will be too high. But if we can control our use of antibiotics, we can limit the spread of resistance. Global legislation is required to restrict the over-supply of antibiotics and we all – doctors and patients – need to make sure we use the drugs sparingly and responsibly.

But while we can certainly slow down the development of antibiotic resistance, we will never stop it entirely. That is why scientists are urgently trying to discover new forms of antibiotic that bacteria may not yet be resistant to. The issue is now so serious that if this can be achieved, it will be the most important anti-bacterial breakthrough since Fleming’s discovery of penicillin.

Exercise 5 – Ellis Island

Listen to a short movie on Ellis Island and answer the questions.

 Which three countries does the host say she has ancestors from?

 Who was Annie Moore?

 How many people passed through Ellis Island between 1892 and 1954?

 Why was 1907 a significant year?

 Which passengers were allowed to disembark in Manhattan?

 What was the Great Hall used for until 1924?

 What did the doctors check immigrants for?

 What kind of people got sent back?

 Roughly how many people left New York for other parts of America?

10   Who are the three well-known immigrants mentioned, and what did they become famous for?


 Russia, Austria, Puerto Rico

 She was the first immigrant to be processed on Ellis Island.

 12 million

 It was the busiest year.

 first- and second-class passengers, American citizens

 It was used as the Registry Room.

 signs of physical weaknesses or illness

 those who didn’t pass the medical check and the 28 questions

 two thirds

10   Isaac Assimov became a science fiction writer; Max Factor became a cosmetic giant; Elia Kazan became a film director


Ellis Island

Hi, I’m Amy Burser. Like most Americans, my family background is quite diverse. My surname was originally Bursorsky, which is Russian, but my ancestors came here from all over the world, including Austria and Puerto Rico. And many of them came through the Immigration Station here at Ellis Island.

The island’s first immigration point opened on New Year’s Day 1892, when a young Irish woman called Annie Moore became the first immigrant to be processed here. From 1892 to 1954, 12 million people passed through here and today an estimated 40 percent of America’s population can trace their ancestry to this tiny island in New York Harbor.

1907 was the busiest year with over 1 million immigrants processed here. The largest number came from Italy, but there were many from Poland, Germany, Hungary, and Scandinavia too. As they sailed past the Statue of Liberty many of them must have been filled with hope and joy. After all, they had just spent weeks – if not months – in cramped conditions aboard overcrowded ships. Finally, they had arrived. But for most of them their ordeal wasn’t quite over. The ships moored in Manhattan. The first- and second-class passengers could disembark here, along with any American citizens. But passengers in steerage – the poorest on the ship, all of whom were immigrants – were ferried over to this building for further inspection. The building – built in 1900 after the first station burned down in 1897 – was very impressive. It had a large dining hall and kitchen, dormitories with 600 beds, a hospital, and a roof garden with a play area for children.

But the jewel in the crown was this – the Great Hall. With its 60-foot vaulted ceiling it resembles an old-fashioned ballroom, but from 1900 to 1924 this was the Registry Room. Each day it was filled with new arrivals. On some days 5,000 people waited here. The noise was deafening and the atmosphere chaotic. Dozens of languages filled the air as each person fearfully awaited a series of citizenship tests.

In fact, each person had undergone a “six-second medical exam,” before they had even entered the hall. Here doctors checked for signs of physical weaknesses or illnesses, especially tuberculosis or trachoma, an infectious disease of the eye. If they failed, they were marked with a chalk letter and were sent to the hospital for a full examination. If they passed, they shuffled into the Great Hall and waited on benches like these. On average this wait lasted three and four hours, but could take much longer. Those still here in the evening had to sleep in the dormitory and start the process again the next morning.

Eventually they were called by the clerks, who stood at desks like these with a full list of each ship’s passengers. They found each person’s name and then asked 28 further questions. It was their job to find out if a person could work and had money to support themselves. They also had to weed out any “undesirables,” including criminals, and political radicals. If someone failed these tests they were sent back home. This only happened to around two percent of the passengers, but for the unlucky ones and their families it was a traumatic experience – a dispiriting end to a long and arduous journey. But for those who were approved could walk through the doors out into their new lives. Some were met by relatives here at the “kissing post,” others emerged alone into a completely new world. Around a third stayed in the New York area while the rest scattered across the country.

The Immigration Act of 1924 effectively ended the era of mass immigration. But for just over three decades Ellis Island was America’s gateway for millions of people. Some became authors, like science fiction writer Isaac Asimov, who came here from Russia. Others became successful businessmen like cosmetics giant Max Factor, whose real name was Maksymilian Faktorowicz and who moved to America in 1904. And some worked in film, like Elia Kazan, a Greek-American who directed classic films such as On the Waterfront and A Streetcar Named Desire. Others became doctors, shopkeepers, and builders. They all settled down and started families. And they all created the country we know today.

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