Exercise 1

B2  Listening – Easy

Gist: The arguments for and against building a new supermarket in this town.

Now tell me the arguments for and against building a new supermarket in this town.

Next week, the town council will meet to debate the possible construction of a new supermarket at the edge of the town and today we’re going to take a closer look at some of the issues that they’ll consider.

The supermarket chain has proposed building a large store and carpark on the west side of the town, on a previously undeveloped site. They say the store will bring many more jobs to the zone and also they will upgrade the roads and traffic signals around the site.

Local retailers are understandably upset about the possible new store. They point to research which says that for every supermarket which opens, an estimated two to three hundred jobs are lost in the community. They also say that the majority of the supermarket staff will be paid the minimum wage, while shops in the community try to pay their workers at fair rates.

Supermarket bosses say that their store will increase the range of goods and services in the area for consumers. They will offer dry-cleaning services and will sell sports equipment and electronic items, which are currently not sold on the local high street.

As this is an agricultural area, many farmers have also given their opinion .They would prefer to sell their products to local stores and are worried that the supermarkets will drive down prices and quality. Local environmentalists support the farmers’ point of view and add that more food and packaging is wasted in supermarkets than in local shops.

Although the supermarket has promised to clean up the surrounding area, there are many people who think that the building its self will be an eyesore. These protesters have said that it will be an ugly warehouse detracting from the beautiful surrounding countryside.

So, it’s likely to be quite a lively meeting. We’ll of course keep you updated with all the latest information on this story, but for now it’s back to the studio.

Arguments for:

More jobs
Upgraded roads and traffic signals
Increased range of goods and services for consumers
(dry cleaning, sports equipment and electronic items)
The supermarket will clean up the surrounding area

Arguments against:

Research says two to three hundred jobs are lost in the community for every supermarket built
The majority of staff with earn the minimum wage
Farmers prefer local shops (they think prices and quality will decrease in the supermarket)
More food and packaging is wasted in supermarkets than in local shops
It will be an eyesore/ ugly warehouse detracting from the beautiful countryside

 

Exercise 2

B2  Listening – Easy

Gist: Why people support, and disagree with the idea of zoos/ the pros and cons of zoos

Now listen again, and tell me why people support, or disagree with the idea of zoos .

 

What does a zoo represent for you? A place of education and entertainment or perhaps a fun day out for all the family? Supporters of zoos say that they contribute to our lives in many positive ways.

At a time when many species are threatened with extinction, zoos play a vital role in conservation. Animals in zoos are protected from hunting, habitat loss and predators. In addition, many zoos run breeding programmes in order to increase populations of endangered animals.

Zoos worldwide also claim that they serve an important function as educational establishments. They say that the experience of seeing these animals at close quarters makes the public more compassionate, and more likely to support environmental projects. In addition, zoos support science: we can learn about animal anatomy, physiology and behaviour, which might help us better understand our own species.

Many zoos help rehabilitate injured wild animals, and take in exotic pets which are no longer wanted by their owners, these animals might not otherwise survive.

However, some animal rights campaigners think that, when it comes to zoos, the negatives outweigh the positives. They say the main reason why zoos exist is because they are profitable, they make millions of pounds by providing, essentially, entertainment. They say that we have no right to deprive an animal of its liberty even for the benefit of science.

They also point to evidence which shows that many animals are stressed and bored in even quite well managed zoos. One study showed that elephants kept in captivity don’t live for as long as elephants in the wild. These critics say that taking intelligent, social animals, like elephants, away from their families is cruelty and cannot be justified.

Cute baby animals are more popular than older creatures. This means that older animals are less profitable, and some zoos sell them, and not always to caring new owners. Some zoos have sold animals to circuses, hunters and even for slaughter. Zoos can also be dangerous places. Animals can escape from their enclosures or cages, and cause harm to people or other animals.

Opponents of zoos strongly disagree with the idea that the public need to see animals at close range to care about them. Children are often crazy about dinosaurs, and they’ve certainly never seen one of them in a zoo!

A pragmatic approach would be to accept that while there is a demand for zoos, and while they are profitable, we should make the animals’ living conditions as good as possible, and raise awareness of the importance of protecting their wild cousins.

 

Support:

Zoos play a vital role in conservation
Animals are protected (from hunting/ habitat loss/ predators)
Breeding programmes
Education
Public will be more compassionate/ more likely to support environmental projects
Support science/ Learn about animals physiology/anatomy/behaviour
May help us understand our own species
Rehabilitate wild animals/take in exotic pets

Disagree:

Zoos are mainly for profit/ entertainment
Depriving animals of liberty
Animals are stressed and bored
Elephants in captivity don’t live for as long
It is cruel to split up families
Zoos sell older animals (to hunters/ circuses/ for slaughter)
Zoos can be dangerous: animals can escape and harm people/other animals
People don’t need to see animals at close range to care about them

 

 

Exercise 3

B2  Listening – Intermediate

Gist: The advantages and disadvantages of electric cars

Now listen again, and tell me the advantages and disadvantages of electric cars.

Why don’t we all have electric cars? There seem to be so many advantages, that it almost seems surprising that we aren’t all driving around in clean green vehicles.

The first electric cars were first invented in 1880, but petrol and diesel cars were more advanced and safer, and so the idea was abandoned.

After the year 2000, people started thinking again about the idea of electric cars. Conventional fuels were contributing to the greenhouse effect and we realised that the supplies of fossil fuels were not limitless.

Some major difficulties did have to be overcome: firstly the batteries of electric vehicles needed to be recharged quite frequently. However, the manufacturer Tesla has produced cars which can travel for nearly 400 kilometres without needing recharging.

The second big problem was the weight and size of the car battery. Batteries in electric cars are still quite heavy, and this means that the car will be slower. A heavier car, is however, a more stable car. This increased stability might even prevent accidents, although you won’t be able to travel as quickly.

Another, lesser known problem, with the batteries of electric cars is that they can cause explosions or fires if they break – therefore if you have an accident in an electric car you should get out of the vehicle immediately.

Electric cars are famous for their smooth acceleration and quiet motors, and most drivers see these as positive attributes, however, it has been claimed that quiet electric cars could be a hazard to pedestrians. You can’t really hear electric cars when they are moving at less than 50 kilometres per hour and so for the safety of cyclists, children and the hearing impaired, some companies have added artificial sounds to their cars.

The final consideration, and for many the deciding factor, is price. Currently electric vehicles are considerably more expensive than those using conventional fuels. This said, with the recent commercial success of some electric car companies, it’s very likely that prices will fall and that this form of transport will become more accessible for us all.

 

 

 

 

Advantages:
Better for environment – contribute less to greenhouse effect
Don’t use fossil fuels which are in limited supply
Smooth acceleration, quiet motors
Heavier cars may cause less accidents

Disadvantages:
Batteries needed to be recharged frequently
Weight and size of the car battery, car will be slower.
Batteries can cause explosions
You can’t hear the car engine/ quiet motor – may cause accidents/ be unsafe
Expensive

 

  

Exercise 4

B2  Listening – Intermediate

Gist: The pros and cons of living in London

Now tell me about the pros and cons of living in London

As many as one in three people living in London can’t afford a decent standard of living. That is to say, one that allows them to meet their basic needs and participate in society at a minimum level. This was reported by ‘Trust for London’, a charity tackling poverty and inequality in the city.

The major culprit is the high cost of housing in London: usually accounting more than half of the monthly salary of a Londoner. And the situation is getting worse, rent has risen by over 30% in the past 10 years, while wages have fallen by 10% in the same time period.

Londoners do not need cars but they do need to be able to use the underground and buses which are more expensive than public transport elsewhere in the UK.

Families living in the city are also disadvantaged, paying for childcare such as nurseries or babysitters is an estimated 40% more expensive than in other parts of the UK.

Critics of the charity say that while London is a very expensive city, the people who live there often have many advantages not available to those who live elsewhere. In particular, there many opportunities for employment and the economic crisis has been less severe here. In addition, there are many free cultural events and more green spaces and parks than in most UK cities.

Disadvantages

can’t meet their basic needs
high housing costs (rent has risen, wages have fallen)
expensive public transport
expensive childcare

Advantages

opportunities for employment
the crisis less severe
free cultural events
more parks and green spaces

 

Exercise 5

B2  Listening – Intermediate

Gist: Qualities/ characteristics of a good tour guide

Now listen again and tell me what characteristics you should have, and what you should do in order to be a good tour guide.

It can be difficult to make a living being a tour guide, it can be very seasonal work – I know many people who have other jobs in the winter.

I work for a large touring company, bus tours mostly, so I do tend to work all year round. I would say that for the most part, it’s a good job, although some people are better suited to this kind of work than others. It helps if you like talking to people and you’ve got a good sense of humour. You’ve definitely got to stay calm in crisis: traffic jams, bus breakdowns and that sort of thing.

Another important quality is being well organised: the tourists want to know what’s happening, and you need to make sure that you don’t lose anyone ! I really value good relations with bus drivers and hotel managers: you should always be professional dealing with your colleagues in the industry. Having some interesting stories and local knowledge is great: you should definitely do your research before you start!

I would say that the most important quality is patience: a lot of people get quite hot and bothered travelling in the bus, they can lose their temper easily. You should find out why they are upset and try to deal with the issue.

It helps if you are the sort of person who doesn’t mind a few early starts in the mornings. I’m a real morning person, so it’s not a problem at all for me.

Ultimately, most people who work as tour guides go on to other jobs in the industry, but if you like people and want to get into tourism, it’s a great foot in the door.

You like talking to people
Good sense of humour
Stay calm in a crisis
Being well organised
You shouldn’t lose anyone
Be professional
Having some interesting stories and local knowledge helps
Do your research
Patience
You don’t mind early mornings/ you are a morning person

 

Exercise 6

B2  Listening – Advanced

Gist: The downsides/drawbacks of being famous

Now tell me about the downsides of fame (as described by this famous person).

I wish I had been prepared for the downsides of fame. As a young singer it’s your goal to make it big, to land a dream contract and sing all over the world. In retrospect, I should have been much more cautious.

When you hit the big time, you just feel like everyone is your friend, and they can’t do enough for you – but not everything is as it seems. Most people want to manipulate you, or gain access to your money and status, I understand that now.

People are interested in every tiny detail of your life: what you eat, where you shop, what car you drive: crazy stuff. Photographers would wait outside my house, follow me to the hairdressers, on holiday, you name it; your life is never your own.

I became really paranoid. One of my band members had his phone tapped: journalists were listening to his conversations. It’s illegal of course, but it’s always a risk, you still have to be careful what you say.

Some singers have problems with stalkers, fans who are obsessed with you in a really scary way. I’ve got really loyal fans, but I’ve never felt intimidated or threatened by them.

I never read the papers anymore. You can’t imagine how hurtful it is to be constantly criticised: for your work, your looks, what dress you wore at an award ceremony. They aren’t always negative, but the occasional compliment doesn’t cancel out all the other abuse.

Even your own family can betray you. Newspapers will pay a lot of money for an exclusive story about your life… it’s difficult… if your friends or family are struggling for money they might sell some photos, or an embarrassing story from your past.

I’ve learnt my lesson: trust no-one.

People want to manipulate you/ gain access to money or status
People are interested in every tiny detail of your life
Photographers wait outside your house
Journalists listening to conversations/ phone tapped
Stalkers/ fans who are obsessed
Being constantly criticised (looks/ work/ dress)
Family can betray you/ newspapers pay for stories from your life

 

Exercise 7

B2  Listening – Advanced

Gist: Advantages and disadvantages of the fishing industry

Now listen again and tell me about the advantages and disadvantages of the fishing industry.

Increasingly, global food production has profound effects on our planet, but feeding the global population and providing jobs must be balanced against the environmental effects of these industries.

An interesting example of this is the fishing industry. We need this industry because fish is an essential source of protein in the human diet: it accounts for 16% of protein consumed worldwide. In many parts of the world fish also supplies local residents with essential nutrients such as zinc and omega 6 fatty acids.

An estimated 500 million people in developing countries earn a living from fishing, but what is truly amazing is that these local fishermen, using traditional methods are not nearly as environmentally destructive as a much smaller number of large commercial boats.

Largely due to the activities of commercial fishing companies, many parts of the world are now suffering from a “fish crisis”. The problem occurs because the companies are catching young fish which don’t have time to breed. In Chile and Peru, the numbers of fish in the costal regions have reached dangerously low levels – and they are not alone. In other countries with very high fish consumption such as Iceland, Japan and Portugal, the local governments have taken measures to stop over-fishing.

The commercial fishing companies say that they are making fish and seafood more affordable for the average consumer, and that many other products such as pearls, ink and fertiliser depend on their industry too.

Environmental groups accept the need for fishing – but they say the methods used currently are unacceptable.

As they want to catch the maximum number of fish, for a minimum effort, large fishing companies often use methods which kill indiscriminately. A famous example is that of the dolphins and sharks which often get caught in nets originally designed to catch smaller fish.

Some companies use toxic chemicals to kill the fish before taking them out of the sea, but these chemicals also kill plants and algae, and cause illness in larger fish. The companies have denied that they could also cause illness in humans.

Another highly criticised commercial fishing strategy is to use explosions in the sea which destroy the sea floor, and therefore disrupt this delicate ecosystem of corals, crustaceans and fish.

Now, and moving into the future, the nutritional needs of a growing population need to be met. However it’s clear that if we want a sustainable food supply we may need to re-think some of our current practices with regard to harvesting that food.

Advantages

Fish is an essential source of protein
Fish has essential nutrients (zinc, omega 6 fatty acids)
Traditional fishing methods are not so damaging to the environment
Fish and seafood is more affordable for the average customer
They provide other products such as pearls, ink and fertiliser

Disadvantages

Some countries are suffering from a fish crisis/ dangerously low levels of fish
Use methods which kill indiscriminately/ large fish get caught in nets designed for smaller fish
Toxic chemicals kill plants and algae, and cause illness in larger fish
Explosions destroy the sea floor/ explosions disrupt ecosystem (corals, crustaceans and fish)

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