Basic Listening Practice: NPR & VOA

 

For Students:
The Basic listening segments are designed for self-directed practice. This means you choose what level, and which program you’d like to listen to, then answer the questions. The listening broadcasts are from a variety of sources. National Public Radio (NPR), Voices of America (VOA) are the primary ones. The answers are provided at the end of each segment. The questions are labeled Easy, Medium, and Advanced. For even more advanced practice, try the video segments of Stephen Colbert.

For Teachers:
You can use any of the questions as part of a listening activity for your class. Please remember to credit this site.

Education

Volunteer Programs Offer Seniors a Way to Spend Their Time Helping Others

This interview is about retired Americans who volunteer their services to help others, then follows with a discussion in which a college education is compared to vocational training. Listen and answer the following questions, which range from easy, medium, to advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What three qualities do older citizens have that make them helpful to many people?
2. What two subjects does Chanlya Anderson need help in?
3. Who does she get help from?

Answers:

Medium
1. What is the purpose of the Experience Corps?
2. According to Kathleen Kaye, what is the main reason kids do well in this program?
3. As a volunteer, what are two benefits Irving Wilson receives from the program?
4. What does volunteer Mary Holt receive from the program?

Answers:

Advanced

Vocational Education

1. What type of vocational training programs did the U.S.government support during the colonial period?
2. Today students in high school, or in trade school can earn degrees in which areas?
3. How is technical and career education different from traditional school?
4. What is one reason for low enrollment in vocational schools?
5. Name three reasons supporters of college education give for not attending vocational school.

Answers:

Teaching the Dangers of Distracted Driving, Before It’s Too Late

The following conversation concerns American teens and the tragedies of not paying attention while they drive. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What is the meaning of distracted driving?
2. How old was Ryan Didone?
3. Who is Ryan’s father?

Answers:

Medium

1. How does Ryan’s father describe the driver of the car?
2. What’s the number one distraction for teens?
3. What example does Jim Jennings give as equivalent to using the cell phone while driving?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What is the government doing to prevent distracted driving among teens?
2. Describe some of the tests provided at a safety event for teen drivers.
3. At what age do teens have fully developed brains?
4. What did Ryan have to say about the information in this discussion? (trick question)

Answers:

Wanna, Gonna, Hafta: Getting Relaxed With Reduced Forms in Speech

This conversation is about reduced forms in spoken American English. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What does “whaddaya” actually mean?
2. What is the name of the guest speaker?
3. Name the two universities where she did her research.

Answers:

Medium

1. What were some assumptions people made about reduced speech?
2. According to Ms. Weinstein,  approximately how many common reduced forms are there in the English language?
3. What are the three most common reduced forms?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What is the reason for reduced speech?
2. Ms. Weistein states that second language speakers shouldn’t worry about using reduced forms of speech accidently, what is the reason she gives?
3. What advice does Ms. Weinstein give to students who want to sound more like native English speakers?
4. What are the top ten reduced forms?

Answers:

Technology and Science

Now We Know Just How Sharks Follow Their Nose to Dinner

The following report discusses how sharks use their keen sense of smell to locate food. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The levels of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. what is one common belief about how sharks find their prey?
2. What was the name of the type of sharks studied?
3. Where were the sharks kept?

Answers:

Medium

1. What was the purpose of the equipment placed on the sharks?
2. What sea creature is the favorite food for the dogfish shark?
3. Why is the shark called hammerhead?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What is the theory behind the head shape of the Hammerhead shark?
2. It has been suggested that sharks with widely spaced nostrils can do what better while swimming fast?
3. The military uses underwater robotic devices for what purpose?
4. How can this research with sharks help the robotic devices?

Answers:

Words and Their Stories: Computer Terms

The following report discusses computer words and new technology. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The levels of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What is a computer mouse?
2. What is the purpose of a mouse?
3. Who developed the idea for the mouse?

Answers:

Medium

1. Describe the first computer mouse.
2. Provide two meanings for the word hacker.
3. What is Google?
4. What is a search engine?

Answers:

Advanced

1. Describe a blog.
2. What is spam?
3. Where did the word spam originate?

Answers:

Light, Fuel-Driven Car Goes For 100 Mpg X Prize

The following discussion is about a team of mechanics and a new type of car they have built, and entered in the X Prize Competition. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The levels of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. Where was the car built?
2. What century is the car?
3. Who is Oliver Kuttner?

Answers:

Medium

1. What is the name of the team that built the car?
2. What is the name of the competition?
3. How much does the car weigh?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What has the team done to improve aerodynamics?
2. Can a car this light survive on the highway?
3. If Kuttner and his team don’t  win the prize money, is that the end of their car?

Answers:

Robots That Swim With The Fishes, Intentionally

The following discussion is about a robot designed as a fish, and the possible uses. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The levels of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What is robofish?
2. What was it designed to do?
3. Who is the designer of the fish robot?

Answers:

Medium

1. What is Maurizio Porfiri’s profession?
2. What happened when the robot fish was placed in the swimming pool with real fish?
3. Is this the only fish robot designed?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What are some of the differences in the newer robot?
2. What might be some possible uses for a robotic fish?
3. How might fishermen use a robotic fish?

Answers:

Signing, Singing, Speaking: How Language Evolved

The following discussion is about the origin of language and communication among humans compared to communication among other species. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. There are no easy questions for this segment so the levels of questions range from Medium to Advanced.


Questions:

Medium

1. Do scientists know when we began using language?
2. According to Jeff Elman, what distinguishes humans from baboons?
3. What information do bees communicate to each other?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What is the name of the module in the brain that produces language?
2. According to the discussion, “…language is a behavior” true or false?
3. Is the following statement true or false, ” We don’t  know when people began to speak, but we do know when they began to use sign language.”

Answers:

Forget Hybrids; Make Your Own Electric Car

The following discussion is about the increasing popularity of electric cars, and ways people are converting their current gas cars to run on electricity. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. There are no easy questions for this segment so the levels of questions range from Easy to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. Where is the Electro Automotive company located?
2. What year did the company start?
3. Who is Mike Brown?

Answers:

Medium

1. What group of people did Mike Brown target to buy his electric cars?
2. What is a major concern about these electric cars?
3. What type of electric motor did Brown and his crew use for the converted gold 1984 VW Rabbit?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What is the problem with using accessories like air conditioning, and four-wheel drive in these cars?
2. According to Daniel Marcon, what is the advantage to building your own car?
3. Marcon states, “It’s about having [an] electric vehicle for my enjoyment as well as doing good for the environment.” How is an electric car better for the environment? Answer in your own words.

Answers:

Health

The Greenhouse Effect And Health

This broadcast concerns global warming and the effects that climates changes have had on people, and what can be expected for the future. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What has been the effect of excessive heat on people from 1979 until 2002?
2. As the heat waves continue, will more people die?
3. What type of weather is best for insects that carry illnesses such as the West Nile and Lyme diseases?

Answers:

Medium

1. During the hot, humid weather are there more or less people with respiratory problems?
2. What procedures did Dr. Carter have to do to help the 60-year-old man who was a long time smoker?
3. Did the man survive?

Answers:

Advanced

1. According to epidemiological studies, when is the worst time of the year for people with respiratory problems?
2. According to engineer Mark Jacobson, how many additional deaths per year are caused by global warming?
3. In addition to increased deaths, what other problems is global warming causing?

Answers:

Fighting Childhood Obesity in the US

This conversation is about The new White House program launched by first lady Michele Obama to help obese American children. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. How many American children are overweight?
2. What are the two main ingredients found in unhealthy food?
3. Name two bad eating habits American children and teens indulge in.

Answers:

Medium

1. What is a major problem in low-income areas?
2. What is the name of the program Mrs. obama started?
3. What two important issues does it stress?
4. What major disease is linked to obesity?

Answers:

Advanced

1. Why is it important for children to begin eating and exercising at a young age?
2. What type of garden has Michelle Obama started on the lawn of the White House?
3. Who were the participants in the planting?
4. What’s the average amount of time that American children spend on watching television and playing electronic games?
5. What did sixteen major food manufacturers promised to do to aid in the anti-obesity program?

Answers:

Learning First Aid: What to Do Until Medical Help Arrives

The following discussion is the importance of people learning first aid techniques. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. There are no easy questions for this segment so the levels of questions range from Medium to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. What type of poisoning is most seen in emergency hospitals?
2. What are some common causes of poisoning?
3. In cases of poisoning, how soon should medical help be called for?

Answers:

Medium

1. What three things should people do when helping a person who has been poisoned?
2. What did people do in the past to help victims of poisoning?
3. What was the harm in using this method?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What is the abdominal thrust procedure?
2. Can it be used on pregnant women?
3. Can a person help themselves if they are chocking?
4. What is CPR?

Answers:

Can You Be Fat And Fit? More Health Experts Say Yes

The following conversation concerns fitness. Some health experts think that people can be overweight and fit . Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. Which weighs more muscle or fat?
2. How many minutes can a fit person walk without stopping?
3. Which parts of the body benefits from walking?

Answers:

Medium

1. Can a questionnaire be used to measure a person’s fitness?
2. What is a stress test? What results does it show?
3. Women who exercise are less likely to suffer from what problems?

Answers:

Advanced

1. What are some general health tips people should follow?
2. When can having extra weight be beneficial?
3. In general, is extra weight a good idea even if one exercises?

Answers:

Business

Tribal Lands Struggle To Bring Clean Power Online

This broadcast discusses how American Indian tribes are contributing to California’s plan of distracting electricity from renewable sources.
Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. Name the state where the tribe lives?
2. What new building opened in 2001?
3. How did the Indians feel about the new building?

Answers:

Medium

1. What were some of the positive things the money from the casino enabled the Campo Kuemyaay Nation to do?
2. Why did the Campo Kuemyaay tribe look for another source of income?
3. What was the new source of income for the tribe?

Answers:

Advanced

1. Monetarily speaking, why hasn’t the wind farm helped the tribe?
2. How do they plan to rectify this in the future?
3. According to Mike Connolly the Campo Nation has been living under a neocolonial system. Describe this system.
4. What does President Obama plan to do to help tribes trying to finance new energy projects?

Answers:

At Amazon, E-Book Sales Outpace Hardbacks

The following discussion is about Amazon and the reasons for its increase in the sales of e-books. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The questions for this segment range from Easy, Medium to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. How long has Amazon been selling hardback books?
2. How long has Amazon been selling its Kindle and e-books?
3.Who is Joseph Janes?

Answers:

Medium

1. According to Janes, what is the reason for the shift from hardcover books to e-books?
2. What are two improvements that could improve the digital readers for people with reading impairments?
3. What is the average price of an e-book?

Answers:

Advanced

1. Why did Amazon reduce the price of the Kindle?
2. Out of the total number of books Amazon sells, which type is the most popular?
3. According to Amazon, how many Kindle devices have been sold?
4. Who are the other retail book sellers that sell e-books?

Answers:

Fishermen Break Tradition To Keep Jobs

The following broadcast is about the severely depleted fish stocks in New England. This shortage has caused many fishermen to lose their jobs, and for many their only source of income for their families. One group of men are trying to change the market with the hope of improving business. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The questions for this segment range from Easy, Medium to Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. Where is the fishing village located?
2. What is the profession of most of the people in the village?
3. How old was Dougie Anderson when he started fishing?

Answers:

Medium

1. Why did commercial fishing become easier by the 1970s?
2. What was the result of making it easier to catch fish?
3. What did the fishermen in Port Clyde realize they had to do to survive?

Answers:

Advanced

1. In order to save money and obtain the best prices for their fish, what was the Port Clyde Cooperative  plan?
2. Who were the target customers of the Cooperative?
3. With the new improvements, how long will it take the fishery to be repaired?

Answers:

Arts and Entertainment

The Vampires Are Back, Along With Talking Toys and a Huge Dog

The following broadcast are reviews of movies here in the U.S. Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The questions range from Medium, to Advanced.


Questions:
Medium

  1. What was the name of the first movie by Stephenie Meyer?
  2. What was the name of the second book?
  3. What is the name of the current movie based on her third book?
Answers:

Advanced

  1. Who is Carrie Bradshaw?
  2. Which female singer stars in the movie Just Wright?
  3. In the movie Iron Man, who is Tony Stark?
  4. Describe the character Jonah Hex.
Answers:

Michael Jackson Stacks Paper From The Grave

The following broadcast is about singer Michael Jackson, and the effect his death has had on people, and on increased record sales . Listen to the conversation, then answer the questions. The questions in this segment are only Advanced.


Questions:
Advanced

  1. What effect did Michael Jackson’s death have on his estate?
  2. According to the manager of Amoeba Records, Daniel Tures, what happened to the old Michael Jackson records after his death?
  3. Michael jackson made a lot of money, so how did he get into debt?
  4. Since the increase in the Jackson estate, how will the children of Michael Jackson live?
  5. What about Michael’s grandchildren, will they have to worry about finances?
Answers:

Sports

As Soccer Grows, Passions Rise For World Cup

The following broadcast discusses the growing popularity of Soccer, especially after the World Cup Competition. Listen to the conversations, then answer the questions. The level of the questions are Advanced.


Questions:
Advanced

1. Which sports in the United States have had a decline in popularity?
2. Which sports are receiving more attention in the U.S.?
3. What is the reason for this?
4. How is the World Cup described in this discussion?

Answers:

American Life

Getting Married in America: A Wedding for Every Budget

The following broadcast discusses the wedding of Chelsea Clinton and general facts about weddings here in the U.S. Listen to the conversations, then answer the questions. The level of the questions range from Easy, Medium, Advanced.


Questions:
Easy

1. Who did Chelsea Clinton marry?
2. What was the date they got married?
3. Did the Clintons want the public to know about the wedding plans?

Answers:

Medium

1. What are the popular months for marriage?
2. How many weddings occur each year in the U.S.?
3. In recent years spending on weddings has dropped. Why?
4. Name two ways couples save money on their wedding.

Answers:

Advanced

1. Name the two types of ceremonies couples might have.
2. What is the old tradition for brides? Why is it important?
3. What does the groom traditionally wear? What animal does the article claim the groom resembles?
4. Name the two traditional music selections usually played at weddings.

Answers:

World