Answer Key What They Say…

Post and Lesson Plan Here

 II. While Reading Tasks

Vocabulary-Word Inference

1. The brain isn’t always entirely accurate

accurate |ˈakyərit|-adjective-of information, measurements, statistics, etc.) correct in all details; exact: accurate information about the illness is essential | an accurate assessment.

2. This has something to do with what are known as semantic illusions.

From the reading: semantic illusions These are words that may fit the general context of a sentence, even though they don’t actually make sense

3…language processing which assumes we develop our understanding of a sentence

assume |əˈso͞om|-verb [ with obj. ] suppose to be the case, without proof: you’re afraid of what people are going to assume about me

4…our language processing is based only on  shallow and incomplete interpretations

interpretation |inˌtərpriˈtāSHən|-noun the action of explaining the meaning of something: the interpretation of data.

5…volunteers used these shallow processing methods…

shallow |ˈSHalō|-adjective-not exhibiting, requiring, or capable of serious thought: a shallow analysis of contemporary society.

6…the volunteers used  these …methods …when they were stressed...

stress |stres| (as adj. stressed) : mental or emotional strain or tension in:she should see a doctor if she is feeling particularly stressed out .

7. We know that we process a word more deeply if it is emphasized in some way.

emphasize |ˈemfəˌsīz|-verb [ with obj. ] give special importance or prominence to (something) in speaking or writing: he emphasized that the drug works in only 30 percent of cases.

8. So, for example in a news story, a newsreader can stress important words.

stress |stres|-verb-[ reporting verb ] give particular emphasis or importance to (a point, statement, or idea) made in speech or writing: [ with obj. ] : they stressed the need for reform.

9. The way we construct sentences can also help reduce misunderstandings.

construct-verb |kənˈstrəkt| [ with obj. ]• Grammar form (a sentence) according to grammatical rules.

10. Researchers believe the findings not only offer better insight into the various processes

insight |ˈinˌsīt|-noun-the capacity to gain an accurate and deep intuitive understanding of a person or thing: this paper is alive with sympathetic insight into Shakespeare.

Sources: New Oxford American Dictionary

 Reading Comprehension Fill-ins

Consider this  example: “After a plane crash, where should the survivors be buried?” Many of us pick up on words like “plane crash” and “buried,” so we may think we’re being asked where those who died in the crash should be buried, rather than realizing the question is about those who actually survived the crash.

The study shows that roughly half the people asked this question answer it as if they are being asked about the victims and not the survivors. Or try this: “Can a man marry his widow’s sister?” According to the study, most people answer in the affirmative, not realizing they’re agreeing that a dead man can  marry his bereaved wife’s sister.

This has something to do with what are known as semantic illusions. These are words that may fit the general context of a sentence, even though they don’t actually make sense. They can challenge  traditional methods of language processing, which assumes we develop our understanding of a sentence by thoroughly weighing the meaning of each  word.

Instead, the researchers  found  these semantic illusions show that, rather than listening and analyzing each word, our language processing is based only on  shallow and incomplete interpretations of what we hear or read.

 Grammar Focus: Identifying Parts of Speech 

 Looking at the EEG patterns of volunteers who read or listened to sentences containing semantic anomalies, researchers found that when  volunteers were tricked by the semantic illusion,  their brains had not even noticed the unusual words.

The researchers’ analysis also showed that the volunteers used these shallow processing methods even more when they were stressed or faced more difficult or multiple tasks.If you want to make sure that the correct message gets across to your listener or reader, the study suggests a few  tricks.

Verbs: Looking, read,  listened, tricked, noticed, showed, used, stressed, faced, make, gets, suggests,

• Free Writing for fun


  1. How many animals of each kind did Noah take on the Ark? two
  2. What is the name of the Mexican dip made with mashed-up avocados? guacamole
  3. What country was Margaret Thatcher prime minister of? England
  4. By flying a kite, what did Franklin discover? electricity
  5. What is the name of the shape whose area is “pi-r-squared”?
  6. circle.
  7. What is the name of the carved pumpkin displayed on Halloween? Jack-o-lantern.
  8. What phrase followed “To be or not to be” in Hamlet’s famous soliloquy? “that is the question.”
  9. What English rock group did the late John Lennon sing with? The Beatles.
  10. What is the name of the man in the red suit and long white beard who gives out Christmas presents from his sleigh?
  11. Santa Claus.
  12. What is the name of the famous prize issued by Sweden for contributions to science and peace?
  13. Nobel Prize.
  14. What statue given to us by France symbolizes freedom to immigrants arriving in New York Harbor?
  15. Statue of Liberty.
  16. What is the name of the long sleep some animals go through during the entire winter? hibernation.

IV. Listening Activity   

Video Clip: The Illusion of Speech.  By Dr.Jamshed Bharucha, Neuroscientist, Tufts University, World Science Festival.

While Listening Tasks: True  /False statements

  1. F- Dr. Bharucha gave a demonstration of how the brain hears sound in a highly contextual way.
  2. F- Dr. Bharucha, described the brain as being a pattern recognition machine.
  3. T-According to Dr. Bharucha, the brain tries to find patterns. It doesn’t like random sounds.
  4. T-Sometimes the patterns are illusory, it will grasp at something that isn’t there.
  5. F- Dr. Bharucha played sounds for the panel.
  6. F- According to the panel, The first sound played t sounded like a bird song.
  7. T- The panel said sound number  2  was either another bird song or whistling.
  8. T- The third sound was identified as R2-D2.
  9. T-When all three sounds were played together, the panel first thought it was a synthesizer .
  10. F-The final time all three sounds were played  together, the sentence was “where were you a year ago?”
  11. F- The original sentence was made by a person.
  12. T-This original sentence was analyzed on a computer.
  13. T- The brain is really putting pieces together in ways that it might find to be familiar, and then creating an illusion (illusory speech).
  14. T- In psychology this is sometimes called a Gestalt, where the whole is greater then the sum of its parts, and then you no longer hear the  individual whistling or birds sounds you hear the whole thing.