Short conversations
M: Do you remember the wonderful film on space exploration we watched together last month?
W: Sure. It's actually the most impressive one I've seen on that topic.
Q: What do we learn about the speakers?

W: Are you looking for anything in particular?
M: Yes. My son is graduating from high school and I want to get him something special.
Q: Where does the conversation most probably take place?

M: Mike told me yesterday that he'd been looking in vain for a job in the art gallery.
W: Really? If I remember right, he had a chance to work there but he turned it down.
Q: What does the woman say about Mike?

W: Would you like to come to Susan's birthday party tomorrow evening?
M: I'm going to give a lecture tomorrow. I wish I could be in two places at the same time.
Q: What does the man mean?

W: Aren't you discouraged by the slow progress your staff is making?
M: Yes. I think I'll give them a deadline and hold them to it.
Q: What is the man probably going to do?

W: Excuse me, could you tell me where the visitor's parking is? I left my car there.
M: Sure. It's in Lot C, over that way.
Q: What does the woman want to know?

W: You look great now that you've taken those fitness classes.
M: Thanks. I've never thought better in my life.
Q: What does the man mean?

W: I really admire the efficiency of your secretaries.
M: Our company selects only the best. They have a heavy workload and we give them a lot of responsibilities.
Q: What are the speakers talking about?

Conversation One

W: Hi, Leo. Why do you say English will become the world language?
M: Well, for one thing, it's so commonly used. The only language that is used by more people is Chinese.
W: Why is English spoken by so many people?
M: It's spoken in many countries of the world because of the British Empire. And now, of course, there's influence of America as well.
W: Many students find English a difficult language to learn.
M: Oh, all languages are difficult to learn. But English does have two great advantages.
W: What are they?
M: Well, first of all, it has a very international vocabulary. It has many German, Dutch, French, Spanish and Italian words in it. So speakers of those languages will find many familiar words in English. In fact, English has words from many other languages as well.
W: Why is that?
M: Well, partly because English speakers have travelled a lot. They bring back words with them, so English really does have an international vocabulary.
W: And what's the other advantage of English?
M: It's that English grammar is really quite easy. For example, it doesn't have dozens of different endings for its nouns, adjectives and verbs, not like Latin, Russian, and German for example.
W: Why is that?
M: Well, it's quite interesting actually. It's because of the French. When the French ruled England, French was the official language and only the common people spoke English. They try to make the language as simple as possible, so they made the grammar easier.

Q9: What does the man say about Chinese?

Q10: What made English a widely used language?

Q11: What is said to be special about English vocabulary?

Conversation Two

M: Hello. Yes?
W: Hello. Is that the sales department?
M: Yes, it is.
W: Oh, well, my name's Jane Kingsbury of GPF Limited. Hmm, we need some supplies for our design office.
M: Uh, what's sort?
W: Well, first of all, we need one complete new drawing board.
M: A DO44 or DO45?
W: Uh, I don't know. What's the difference?
M: Well, the 45 costs 15 pounds more.
W: Hmm, so what's the total price then?
M: It's 387 pounds.
W: Does that include value added tax?
M: Oh, I'm not sure, most of the prices do. Yes, I think it does.
W: Hmm, what are the boards actually made of?
M: Oh, I don't know. I think it's a sort of plastic stuff these days. It's white anyway.
W: Hmm, and how long does it take to deliver?
M: Oh, I couldn't really say. It depends on how much work we've got and how many other orders there are to send out, you know.
W: Ok. Now we also want some drawing pens, ink and rulers and some drawing paper.
M: Oh, dear, the girl that takes orders for supplies isn't here this morning, so I can't take those orders for you. I only do the equipment, you see.
W: OK. Well, perhaps I'll ring back tomorrow.
M: So do you want the drawing board then?
W: I'll have to think about it. Thanks very much. I'll let you know. Goodbye.
M: Thank you. Goodbye.

Q12: What is the woman's purpose in making the phone call?

Q13: What do we learn about the man from the conversation?

Q14: What does the man say about delivery?

Q15: What does the woman say she will possibly do tomorrow?

Passage One
No one knows for sure just how old kites are. In fact, they have been in use for centuries. 25 centuries ago, kites were well-known in China. These first kites were probably made of wood. They may even have been covered with silk, because silk was used a lot at that time.

Early kites were built for certain uses. In ancient China, they were used to carry ropes across rivers. Once across, the ropes were tied down and wooden bridges were hung from them. Legend tales of one general who flew musical kites over the enemy’s camp. The enemy fled, believing the sounds to be the warning voices of angels. By the 15th centuries, many people flew kites in Europe. Marco Polo may have brought the kite back from his visit to China. The kite has been linked to great names and events. For instance, Benjamin Franklin used the kite to prove that lightening is electricity. He flew the kite in a storm. He did this in order to draw lightening from the clouds. He tied a metal key and a strip of silk to the kite line. The silk ribbon would stop the lightening from passing through his body. Benjamin’s idea was first laughed at, but later on it led to the invention of the lightening rod.

With such grand history, kite flying is sure to remain an entertaining and popular sport.

Q16: What does the speaker say about kites?

Q17: What did ancient Chinese use kites to do?

Q18: Why did Benjamin Franklin fly a kite in a storm?

Passage Two

I have learned many languages, but I have not mastered them the way a professional interpreter or translator has. Still, they have opened doors for me. They have allowed me the opportunity to seek jobs in international contexts and help me get those jobs. Like many people who have lived overseas for a while, I simply got crazy about it. I can’t imagine living my professional or social life without international interactions. Since 1977, I have spent much more time abroad than in the United States. I like going to new places, eating new foods and experiencing new cultures. If you can speak the language, it’s easier to get to know the country and its people. If I had the time and money, I would live for a year in as many countries as possible.

Beyond my career, my facility with languages has given me a few rare opportunities. Once just after I returned from my year in Vienna, I was asked to translate for a German judge at an Olympic level horse event. I learned a lot about the sport. In Japan, once when I was in the studio audience of a TV cooking show, I was asked to go up on the stage and taste the beef dish that was being prepared and tell what I thought. They asked, “Was it as good as American beef?” It was very exciting for me to be on Japanese TV speaking in Japanese about how delicious the beef was.

Q19: What does the speaker say about herself?

Q20: What does the speaker say about many people who have lived overseas for a while?

Q21: How does the speaker’s experience of living in Vienna benefit her?

Q22: What was the speaker asked to do in a Japanese studio?

Passage Three

Doctor Ben Carson grew up in a poor single parent household in Detroit. His mother, who had only a third-grade education, worked two jobs cleaning bathrooms. To his classmates and even to his teachers, he was thought of as the dumbest kid in the class, according to his own not so fond memories. He had a terrible temper, and once threatened to kill another child. Doctor Carson was headed down a path of self-destruction until a critical moment in his youth. His mother, convinced that she had to do something dramatic to prevent him from leading a life of failure, laid down some rules. He could not watch television except for two programs a week, could not play with his friends after school until he finished his homework, and had to read two books a week and write book reports about them. His mother’s strategy worked. “Of course, I didn’t know she couldn’t read, so there I was submitting these reports.” He said. “She would put check marks on them like she had been reading them. As I began to read about scientists, economists and philosophers, I started imaging myself in their shoes. As he got in the habit of hard work, his grades began to soar. Ultimately, he received a scholarship to attend Yale University. And later, he was admitted to the University of Michigan Medical School. He is now a leading surgeon at John’s Hopkins Medical School, and he’s also the author of three books.

Q23. What do we learn about Ben Carson?

Q24. What did Ben Carson classmates and teachers think about him when he was first in school?

Q25. What does Ben Carson mother tell him to do when he was a school boy?

When you look up at the night sky, what do you see? There are other (26) heavenly bodies out there besides the moon and stars. One of the most (27) fascinating of these is a comet.

Comets were formed around the same time the Earth was formed. They are (28) made up of ice and other frozen liquids and gases. (29) Now and then these “dirty snowballs” begin to orbit the sun, just as the planets do.

As a comet gets closer to the sun, some gases in it begin to unfreeze. They (30) combine with dust particles from the comet to form a huge cloud. As the comet gets even nearer to the sun, a solar wind blows the cloud behind the comet, thus forming its tail. The tail and the (31) generally fuzzy atmosphere around a comet are (32) characteristics that can help identify this (33) phenomenon in the night sky.

In any given year, about a dozen known comets come close to the sun in their orbits. The average person can’t see them all, of course. Usually there is only one or two a year bright enough to be seen with the (34) naked eye. Comet Hale-Bopp, discovered in 1995, was an unusually bright comet. Its orbit brought it (35) relatively close to the Earth, within 122 million miles of it. But Hale-Bopp came a long way on its earthly visit. It won’t be back for another four thousand years or so.