WhiteTiger - Listening

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Unit 1, page 11, Listening

One: Yeah, it was a real shame, because we used to be quite close. We don’t really see each other these days. You know, I trusted him a lot, told him some things that I didn’t tell most of my friends, and he let me down, it wasn’t a huge amount, but he didn’t stick to our agreement. In fact, he still hasn’t paid me back completely. I’ve discussed it with other friends and they agree with me that it was unacceptable. He and I had a big argument about it, and that was that, really.

Two: You don’t realiy think about it when you’re very young. Your twin is just there all the time. As you get older, though, you realise you’re different from most people. I always had someone there who understood me and helped me. It could also be very funny, and people were often really embarrassed when they didn’t know who was who. It wasn’t always easy to get people to see me for who I was, rather than just one half of ‘the lones twins’, but I wouldn’t change it for the world, despite the difficulties.

Three: Uh huh...yeah...well, things have been really busy at the office recently, and I haven’t had time to go round and fix it. Maybe this weekend...uh huh...do you think so? Okay. I’ll see what I can do, although I can’t promise anything. Did you speak to Dad? What did he say?... Right. Well, Mum, you know, never even wanted it in the first place. I’ll give you a call tomorrow and we’ll arrange to go round, unless something comes up. All right, mate. Speak to you later.

Four: He’s fourteen now, and he’s growing up so fast! It seems like only a few years since he was complaining about having to put his toys away. I always had to force him to do anything around the house! It was like one constant argument. He’s completely different now. It’s as if he’s realised that I’m not just there to be his mum, and he understands that sometimes I’ve had a hard day at work. I see some other parents with their difficult teenagers who just give one-word answers to every question and I feel quite fortunate.

Five:

Man: So how are things going?
Woman: Oh, can’t complain. I suppose. Everyone’s fine. I've been working a lot, and my boss is making life difficult, but that's nothing new.
Man: Oh, mine can be like that. It’s an old family business and they’re very traditional. I keep making suggestions, but the brothers who run it never listen. You’re at Walker’s, aren't you?
Woman: That’s right. In the accounts department. Nearly six years now. Oh, there’s my bus. Nice to see you again. Say hello to your sister from me.
Man: I will.

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Unit 2, page 19, Listening

Interviewer: I’m in the Australian city of Perth, and with me is Rita Wentworth, who works as a tour guide in and around the city. Now, Rita, first of all, could you tell us a little about the city?

Rita: Sure. Well, Perth has been here since it was started by Captain James Stirling, back in 1829. There were native Australians in the area before that, but that was when the British first arrived. And unlike other cities, such as Sydney, whose first residents were mostly prisoners from Britain, the people who first lived in Perth were free. They came to Australia from Britain to make a better life for themselves and their families.

Interviewer: What’s Perth like today?

Rita: It’s a very large city of over 1.5 million people, so there’s lots to do and lots to see. It’s on the coast, so of course lots of people go surfing in the area, but away from the beaches there are some very interesting parts of the city. Art lovers will be interested in the West Australian Art Gallery, which often has modern art exhibitions, and there’s lots for music lovers too at the Perth Concert Hall. And Perth is famous for its sports.

Interviewer: Really?

Rita: Oh, yes. The local cricket team is very popular, and so is the Australian rules football team - you know, that's a game like rugby that we play in Australia. There’s also a lot of support for the Perth Wildcats, the basketball team. And there are a lot of facilities for local people, and visitors, to play sports themselves.

Interviewer: Thanks, Rita. Now, I’m going to speak to some local people to find out what they think about living...

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Unit 3, page 27, Listening

Speaker 1: I wanted a digital camera for Christmas because my friend was coming to stay with me and I wanted to take some photos. My husband said he would get me one, and he did. Well, I’ve never really been very good with modern technology, and I hadn’t used one before. I took some photos during the Christmas holiday and let my husband put them on the computer. When we saw them, though, the quality wasn’t very good. It was a bit disappointing, but it seems I had it on the wrong setting. I should have studied the book that came with it, but I don’t have the patience for that kind of thing.

Speaker 2: I needed a new laptop, so I went along to my local shopping centre and had a look at what they had there. I found one I liked and asked a shop assistant to show it to me. It seemed okay, but he said that I would really need something faster and that had many more features. In the end, I spent more money and got one that is much more powerful than I really need. I wish I’d just got the one I liked.

Speaker 3: I had a problem with a dishwasher. After I got it, a friend told me that you have to clean the filter in the bottom and add special salt to it. I hadn’t known that, but I thought it should be easy. You just take the filter out, clean it and put it back. Then there’s a place to put the salt. I did it and left the filter to dry. When I came back later, it had gone. Couldn’t see it anywhere. I’ve got no idea what happened, but now the dishwasher doesn’t work properly.

Speaker 4: I’ve got a new mobile phone now, but it’s the first new one I’ve had for about five years. My last one was quite old and didn’t have all these complicated features that new ones do. People kept telling me to get a new one, but I never seemed to have enough money at the right time. To be honest, my friends started to make fun of it, so I stopped taking it out with me and left it at home - which is a bit of a waste of time with a mobile! I’m much happier with this one.

Speaker 5: My dad always says that the cheap one will cost you more money in the end, and I realise now that he’s right. I got a microwave, and I tried to spend as little money as I could. When I got it home, I realised that there weren’t any instructions and no guarantee. It stopped working after a week, and I had to take it back to the shop. They gave me another, and that developed a problem within a couple of months. Finally, I paid more for a better one.

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Unit 4, page 35, Listening

Interviewer: Hello, and welcome to the Money Show. I’m joined today by Tessa Crowe, who is a financial expert, and we’re talking about money problems. Tessa, tell us what kind of problems people come to you with.

Tessa: Well, it varies. My customers sometimes want advice about which bank account is best for them and sometimes they want to know about investing money. The biggest category is probably money owed on credit cards, though. Many people use them to buy things, and later they realise that after paying their household bills they don’t have enough money left to pay back what they’ve borrowed. It’s a problem that seems to be increasing.

Interviewer: And how does that happen?

Tessa: Credit cards work on a ‘buy now, pay later’ basis. So when people are thinking of buying something, let’s say a new pair of shoes or the latest bit of modern technology, they are thinking about what they want, not what they can afford. When they look at the price tag, they think it’s okay to go for the more expensive one because they don’t have to pay for it immediately. Unfortunately, though, if they do that too often, they end up with a large monthly bill.

Interviewer: What’s your advice?

Tessa: First of all, if you’re concerned about your credit card bills, don’t just sit there and worry and try to ignore them. One thing the credit card companies hate is not knowing what’s happening. Before you get in touch with someone like me, call them and explain the situation. They may be able to help. If they’re not very helpful, then it’s time to speak to your bank manager, or maybe an advisor like me.

Interviewer: And what can you do for people?

Tessa: When I sit down with people, the first thing I do is explain that I can’t wave a magic wand and make it all disappear. But I can at least stop it getting bigger. I tell them to immediately stop using their cards. Many people just put them away somewhere, perhaps in a iocked drawer, but I prefer my customers to cut them up, so that there’s no chance of them being used again. Then we work out how much they can afford to pay back.

Interviewer: What happens to people after they see you?

Tessa: Most of them manage to sort their problem out and eventually pay off the money they owe, and they might even start using a card sensibly again. Of course, there are a few who find themselves in the same situation a year or two later. It’s very hard to know how to help those people. For some, credit cards are just too tempting and it’s just too easy to spend a lot of money.

Interviewer: Tessa Crowe, thanks for coming to talk to us today.

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Unit 5, page 43, Listening

One: That sounds great. We haven’t done that for a long time. Do you remember what happened last time? Yeah, that was funny. Danny tried to kick it like a football and hurt himself. In the end, though, he was really good at knocking them down, wasn’t he? It’ll make a change from losing to him at pool every weekend, anyway. You contact everyone and see if they want to join us for a coffee afterwards, at that place round the corner.

Two: My husband got the tickets, and it had been ages since we went to the theatre, so I was really looking forward to it. I don’t know if you’ve been to the Royal Theatre, but they’ve changed it recently. Do you remember? It used to be really cold and uncomfortable until they modernised it. We had seats near the front, so we could see everything. The performance looked great, and I loved the dresses the women were wearing. The only thing that spoiled it was that some of the people on stage... I just wasn’t convinced by their performance, really. I thought they were quite bad and needed more training.

Three: No ... on the sixteenth ... that’s right, Mr Reeves, Gordon Reeves ... and we’re in seats 35F and 35G ... have you found it? Right, well, the thing is that I’ve got my brother and his wife visiting then, and I realised that they don’t have tickets, so I was wondering whether there are any left... oh ... right... that’s a shame. We’ll have to go on the following Friday, then ... yes, if you can change those, that’s great... and the seats are 35F and G. Right... thank you.

Four: We saw it on DVD last night. What a load of rubbish! I just don’t believe that a man like that would leave his job and go and live in the country. And then meet the girl of his dreams. I did think their relationship was handled quite well in the end, I suppose, but the plot was so simple and predictable that I started falling asleep. I prefer films that are more true to life, where people have understandable reasons for doing things. I wasn’t impressed.

Five: I don’t play video games so often, but someone got me this one for my birthday, so I tried it out. It’s great! The idea is that you’re trying to rescue a princess, and you have to fight tots of monsters to get to her. It might look a bit old-fashioned, but I loved the bits where you have to fight. You have to be really quick on the controls, but when you do it right, it’s awesome. The background music can get a bit annoying, but that’s not a major problem. You should come round and play it some time.

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Unit 6, page 51, Listening

Interviewer: Today on Nature Watch, we’re talking about the local environment and what we can all do to help protect it. We’ll be talking to local people to get their opinions, but first I’m talking to Robert Jackson. Robert, why don’t you start by telling us what exactly you do.

Robert: Well, I’m a scientist and I travel all over the country and I speak to local councils to help them develop their environmental programmes. This means that I study the local needs and the local problems and try to come up with ideas that councils can use to deal with the problems.

Interviewer: And what problems have you been looking at in our area?

Robert: This area is quite interesting because there used to be a lot of factories in the past. These have mostly been replaced now by shopping centres or by housing for local people, but there are still some pollution problems left behind.

Interviewer: What kind of problems?

Robert: These places often burned a lot of fossil fuels, which of course adds to global warming, but there’s not much we can do about that at a local level. However, many of them gave off chemicals that can still be found in the soil or even in some rivers. One of my jobs is to help the council find ways to get rid of those chemicals and help nature recover in those areas.

Interviewer: What kind of things do you suggest?

Robert: There are realty two main stages. The first is to clean the soil and water using filters and special chemicals. Then we need to build nature reserves to protect the area and to allow nature to do the rest of the job. You know, nature is very good at recovering from this kind of thing, as long as we give it the chance to. With proper management, any areas affected by this kind of pollution should be back to normal within ten years. Part of my job is to follow that process and check that everything is going well.

Interviewer: Thanks, Robert, for telling us about what you do. Now let’s listen to the opinions of a few local people.

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Revision Unit 1, page 56, Listening

One: I realised I had some free time on my hands, and I wanted to do something useful for my local area, so I got involved in an environmental scheme. It’s run by the local council. They come up with a plan for which areas need cleaning up, and we do it. It’s very varied - last week it was a beach, this week it’s a river. None of us get paid, it’s purely voluntary, and it’s not easy for everyone to spare the time, but we're all very proud of what we do. I wish I’d got involved years ago, because it’s a great feeling to know that you’re making a difference.

Two: In the end I stopped going to German lessons, so I’ll have to find something else to do with my weekend. I don’t know. It was fun for a while, and I met some nice people. It just became harder to justify the expense when the course fees went up, and I knew there wasn’t much chance of me going there on holiday. I was just learning for personal interest, and I think I got what I wanted. Now, for example, I could probably read a novel in German, as long as I had my dictionary with me. So I’m looking for something else, preferably something free. Any suggestions?

Three: In my opinion, we are all too eager to accept modern technology and everything it brings. Companies bring out the latest thing and we all rush out and buy it, without really thinking about it. The main problem is that we start to believe that we can have everything without making an effort. We spend a relaxing evening online, and in order to communicate with people on the other side of the world, all we have to do is press a few buttons. We come to think that anything that isn’t available to us instantly and easily is a waste of time, and I think that’s the real problem.

Four: Oh, it’s so annoying! I wish I hadn’t gone now. What happened was, I was going to stay over at Emma’s place, and I told my mum we were going to revise for the exam, which was true. She rang Emma’s mum to check that everything was all right and that I could go over, but it turned out that Emma was in trouble for not doing something, the washing up, I think. Anyway, that meant I couldn’t go round. She’s always doing things like that. It’s so annoying!

Five: I’ve always loved insects, ever since I was a little boy. There are so many different kinds that you could spend your whole life studying them and still only know a tiny amount. They manage to find a way to live almost anywhere on Earth, even in places where lots of other things can’t, and that’s what I find most impressive about them. Whether it’s social species like ants, which work together to build a large colony, or solitary species who live on their own, you’ll find an insect almost everywhere you look. Isn’t that amazing?

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Unit 7, page 65, Listening

Speaker 1: Well, we did rugby in the winter, football in the spring and cricket in the summer. And that was about it, really. Whatever the weather, that’s what we played. I was quite good at cricket, actually. I was captain of the school team in my last year. I wish we’d done the kind of things my kids do today. You know, canoeing, karate, aerobics, cycling, that kind of thing, but it was only a small school, and they just didn’t have the facilities, more’s the pity.

Speaker 2: I went to rather an unusual school where we were encouraged not to see sport in terms of winning or losing. I think the head teacher didn’t like the idea of competition. We did play hockey and tennis, but only for fun, really, and I remember being really jealous of children at other schools who, if they were good enough, had the chance to play in the school team. We didn’t have any, you see. As far as I remember, we didn’t even have a school sports day. Though I do remember going on cross-country runs when it was too wet to play hockey. We’d all run in a group - no winners again, you see! - and we’d all come back soaked. I think we all quite enjoyed that, really.

Speaker 3: It’s only in the last five years or so that I’ve discovered the pleasures of doing sport. I hated it at school. I think it’s because we were forced to do it. I’m the kind of person who enjoys things they choose to do, but resents being made to do something. Especially playing football in the rain. Anyway, I know most of the kids used to really look forward to two hours of games every afternoon, but I used to dread it. At least I never ended up in a school team. That would have been awful!

Speaker 4: Do you know what really put me off sport at school? It was the fact that such a great emphasis was placed on being good. Do you know what I mean? I think these days, it’s all about taking part and having fun, and who cares how many goals you score? At my school it wasn’t like that at all. The kids who made it into the school teams were worshipped by the other kids - and by the teachers, to tell you the truth - and the other kids, like me, who weren’t particularly good, well, we were looked down on.

Speaker 5: I think I’d have enjoyed it all a lot more if it hadn’t always been so cold and wet. I went to school in Tavistock in Devon, which is famous for its dreadful weather. It was either pouring with rain, or the ground was frozen hard. Horrible! I remember once, near the start of term, I was tackled in a game of rugby. I landed badly, and broke my arm. I couldn’t do any sport for the rest of term, and I remember feeling so relieved that I wouldn’t have to stand out there on the rugby pitch shivering for two hours like my friends!

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Unit 8, page 73, Listening

Presenter: Susan Blake joins me now to talk about the newspaper The Daily Post, which was launched this week. Susan, we’ve seen four issues of The Daily Post now. Is it going to be a success, do you think?

Susan: Well, that’s actually a very difficult question, and I think the only real answer is that time will tell. But, I do think they’ve got off to a good start, and I gather that two million people who bought yesterday’s copy tend to agree.

Presenter: So, what are they doing right, in your opinion?

Susan: Well, to start with, I think people like the fact that this is the size of a typical tabloid newspaper - it’s not difficult to hold when you’re standing on a train or bus, for example - but that there is actually quite a lot of news in it. You know, real news, not just stories about celebrities and soap stars. Secondly, a lot of newspapers only really appeal to people in their forties and fifties. You know, people with houses and families and quite good jobs. The Daily Post seems to be aimed at a younger audience too. I can imagine some teenagers reading it, and students, and people in their twenties and thirties. There’s still plenty for people who are in their forties or older, of course, too.

Presenter: Now, many newspapers side with one political party against the other parties. Do you get the feeling The Daily Post does that too?

Susan: Well, they certainly claim that they're politically independent, and judging from the first four issues, I think that’s probably true. They've attacked the government on some things, and supported them on others. We’ll see if that changes over the next few months. I suspect it might.

Presenter: Right. Are there any things you don’t like about the paper?

Susan: There are definitely some things they can improve. They’ve only got one page for the day’s TV schedule, which isn’t really enough. It would be a lot easier to read if it was spread over two pages. Also, they’re going to be producing a free magazine every Tuesday called The Tuesday Magazine. We saw the first one yesterday, and that really was a bit poor. I know it’s just an extra that you get with the paper, but it was so full of adverts, it was actually difficult to find any articles in it. They’ll have to do better than that, I’d say.

Presenter: One final question. Do you think the other newspapers should be worried?

Susan: Yes, I do. They’re definitely going to see their sales drop as people switch to The Daily Post. They’re going to have to try hard to get them to come back, but I’m sure they will try. I imagine in a couple of months or so the other papers will drop their prices a little to encourage people to buy them again.

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Unit 9, page 81, Listening

Presenter: Joining me in the studio today is the well-known author Craig Danton. Craig, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming in today.

Craig: You’re very welcome!

Presenter: Craig, your latest novel, The Forgotten Children, has sold over a million copies and these days you’re a highly respected writer. Was it easy to get your first novel published?

Craig: My first novel? To be honest, I didn’t even try to get that published! I wrote it when I was a university student, and, once I’d finished it, put it away in a drawer and started on the next one.

Presenter: Really? Do you think you’ll publish it at some time in the future?

Craig: No, no. It really wasn’t very good at all. I don’t think I developed the characters properly, and the plot was a bit weak, to tell you the truth. But the thing about being a writer is that the more you write, the better you get, so it wasn’t a waste of time. Without it, I couldn’t have written my second novel.

Presenter: And that was Darkness at Midday?

Craig: Darkness at Midday, that’s right.

Presenter: And how easy was it to get that published?

Craig: Well, it took me about three years! When I finished it, I sent it off to a publisher in London. A few months later, they politely replied that it wasn’t for them, so I sent it to another one. And the same thing happened again and again and again.

Presenter: How many rejection letters did you get in total?

Craig: Seventeen!

Presenter: There must have been times when you wanted to give up, when you thought, ‘I’m never going to get this book published.’

Craig: There were definitely times when I thought that, but no, I never wanted to give up. There are so many stories of successful books being turned down initially, you just need lots of determination to keep going. If the book’s good enough, you’ll find a publisher in the end.

Presenter: Like you did.

Craig: Yes. Well actually, for that book, I entered it into a competition for unpublished writers and it won first place. From that moment on, publishers we’re queuing up to publish it!

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Unit 10, page 89, Listening

One: I was about fifteen or sixteen, I suppose. It had never crossed my mind to become a nurse before then, even though my mum was one. I don’t think I ever really knew what she did, to be honest, though I guess I’d watched hospital dramas on TV. Anyway, I had to go into hospital for an operation, and this nurse was just really kind and friendly and I thought: ‘That’s the kind of job that I’d like to have.’ Mum gave up nursing a few years ago now, and I think she’s rather pleased I’ve chosen the same job she had.

Two: Certainly at the hospital where I work a lot has been spent on new equipment over the past few years, and in that respect I think we’re one of the best hospitals in the whole region. Having said that, though, I can really only give a patient coming to see me about ten minutes for an initial consultation. Fifteen minutes maximum. So I think it often feels to the patient like it’s all a bit rushed, which is a shame. We do have a lot of forms to fill in, of course, but that’s just part of the job, really, and you have to find time for it somehow.

Three: The thing is, Debbie, I know you really want to go on this diet, but you’re actually not overweight at all and I don’t really know anything about it. They’re always warning people not to go on special diets without talking to a doctor first, so how about we make an appointment for you to see Dr Marshall? If he says it’s okay, then we can talk about it further.

Four: For about three days before I went, I was realty scared. It’s silly, isn’t it, but I'd just got it into my head that it would be really painful and I’d have to sit in the chair for ages and it would just be a really unpleasant thing. Well, when I got there, he was so friendly and just put me at my ease, that I didn’t even mind when he said I had to have three fillings. It was clear he knew what he was doing, and I was just happy to let him get on with his job.

Five:

Vet: So, what seems to be the problem with old Buggies, here?
Boy: Well, I’m not sure, but something’s not quite right. Usually he spends several hours a day running round the living room, but he hasn't done that recently. If you look in his eyes, it’s like he’s a bit sad or something. Depressed. He just sits there.
Vet: I see. What about his eating habits? Have they changed at all?
Boy: Let me think. No, he’s still eating the same amount each day. Yeah, that hasn’t changed.

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Unit 11, page 97, Listening

Speaker 1: I took my driving test about twenty years ago, and it really was the strangest experience ever. I was driving along, doing what I was told. You know, ‘turn left at the end of the road, then take the next right.’ That kind of thing. When all of a sudden the examiner shouted ‘Stop!’ I didn’t know what I’d done wrong. A man ran up to the car, and said his wife was really ill and had to get to the hospital now. Well, we took them. I didn’t actually know the way to the hospital, so all the way it was ‘turn left at the end of the road’! I did drive faster than you do in the normal test, though. We got there okay and the examiner said it had been the most unusual test he’d ever been involved in. I passed!

Speaker 2: I’d just moved to Scotland, and really needed a car where I lived, so I decided to have lessons. They were fine, but when it came to the test, the person testing me had a really really broad Scottish accent, and I just couldn’t make out anything he said. Every time he gave me an instruction, I had to ask him to repeat it at least three times. He was very kind, though, and didn’t penalise me for that, thank goodness.

Speaker 3: I was so nervous in my test and I made a really stupid mistake. We’d been driving around for about three minutes when the examiner said ‘I’d like you to turn left at the T-junction up ahead.’ Now, I know the difference between left and right, and I did hear him clearly say ‘left’, but for some reason which I’ll never understand -1 guess I just wasn’t thinking clearly - I indicated to go right, and actually turned right at the T-junction. I failed that time, but passed the next time I took the test.

Speaker 4: I suppose it’s what everyone dreads happening in their test - and it happened to me. We’d just started the test and I was changing gear-1 think I was going from first to second gear - when the gear stick came right off in my hand. I couldn't believe it! It was totally broken. It wasn’t my fault, of course, and the examiner was very good about it. We had to start the test again in a different car.

Speaker 5: I was in a panic when I took my test. The whole day had gone badly, and I nearly didn’t make it to the test centre on time. Anyway, I definitely wasn’t relaxed at all, and we were doing that bit where you have to reverse around a corner. So what did I do? I drove straight into a parked car. I didn’t do a lot of damage - there was just a tiny bump really - but it was enough for me to fail the test, of course.

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Unit 12, page 105, Listening

Woman: And in other news today, a bizarre burglary in Leeds has left police baffled. Joseph and Mary Carter woke up yesterday morning to find that all the doors and windows of their three-bedroom house in the Wakefield district of the city had been stolen. Toby Marsh tells us more.

Toby: Before Joseph and Mary Carter went to bed last night, they shut the windows and locked the front door as usual. But when they woke up this morning, they were gone.

Mary: I got up first, at about six o’clock, and I pulled back the curtains in the bedroom, and this cold blast of air hit me. The window had gone. I woke Joseph, and that’s when we discovered what had happened.

Joseph: We couldn’t believe it. We didn’t hear a thing in the night. How on earth could someone take all the doors and windows of our house without us hearing a thing? It doesn’t make sense. The worst thing is we only had them fitted a couple of months ago. They were brand new.

Toby: Police officers on the scene are baffled.

Police officer: It’s one of the strangest crimes I’ve ever witnessed, and I’ve been on the force for over fifteen years. There are so many things about this we don’t understand. Why would someone take all the doors and windows? How did they do it so quietly? Why didn’t they take anything else? The Carters had a brand-new colour TV in the living room. That’s still there. It’s quite peculiar.

Toby: Officers are currently interviewing neighbours in the hope that someone saw or heard something. Meanwhile, Joseph and Mary Carter and boarding up their windows and doors until they can be replaced.

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Revision Unit 2, page 110, Listening

Presenter: In the news again this week is another story about language and genetics. Scientists are claiming they have more evidence for there being a ‘language gene’. So, I’m glad to have Carol Dickinson, Professor of Linguistics at Charleston University in the studio with me to try to make sense of all this. Carol, thanks for coming in.

Carol: My pleasure.

Presenter: Carol, the idea that there’s a specific gene in our bodies that gives us language strikes many of us as being a bit silly. Can it possibly be true?

Carol: Yes, it does seem silly, doesn’t it? The problem is often with the way this is reported. Journalists take something a scientist has said, and report it as something entirely different. We both speak English. People in Japan speak Japanese. Now clearly it’s nothing to do with genetics, with our DNA, that we speak English and they speak Japanese. Which language you speak is purely down to environmental factors.

Presenter: So, if it’s nature versus nurture, it’s nurture that determines what language we speak?

Carol: That's right, and that’s just common sense. What scientists have been asking for a while now, though, is why do humans acquire language so easily, whereas other animals, apes for example, don’t? And what the evidence suggests is that there is something in our DNA, in our genes, that gives us the ability to pick up language. And that’s what some people call ‘the language gene’, although of course it may be more than one gene that helps it all happen.

Presenter: But, what you seem to be talking about - a language gene - if it’s true, then it applies to all languages in the world, right?

Carol: That’s right.

Presenter: But - and maybe I’m wrong here - languages are very very different. How can there be something in all of us that can enable us to learn so many different languages? Do you see what I mean? Chinese has a totally different set of grammatical rules to English, doesn’t it?

Carol: That’s actually a really interesting, and important question. If you’re right, if there are languages in the world that have absolutely nothing in common, then it’s unlikely that there’s a language gene in all of us. But what we’ve found is that in fact all the languages in the world do share a large number of characteristics.

Presenter: For example?

Carol: Well, for example, all human languages have nouns, verbs and adjectives. And all languages follow certain rules. If I say to you ‘You are a radio presenter’, in English we can make that a question by swapping round the subject and the verb: ‘Are you a radio presenter?’ Other languages do it differently, of course, but there isn’t a single language in the world where they make a question by reversing the word order of the whole sentence: 'Presenter... radio ... a ... are ... you?’. So all languages follow quite strict rules, which we sometimes call ‘the universal grammar’. The differences are minor in comparison. It’s been said, and I agree with this, that if a Martian came down to Earth, he’d think we alt spoke the same language, with just a few minor regional differences.

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