lunes, 30 de marzo de 2015

Listening test: English superstitions

In this week's listening test we will be practising the open-ended questions that students sometimes have to answers in exams.

Listen to this BBC radio programme about English superstitions and answer questions 1-7 below.

0 What should you touch if you want good luck? Wood

1 What doesn’t Alice like doing because it brings bad luck?
2 What example does Alice give of a lucky charm?
3 What do the seagulls following boats represent in Scotland?
4 What does each of the calls of the cuckoo represent?
5 What do they have in Switzerland, Germany and Austria?
6 What advice does Alice give for when you hear a cuckoo?
7 How does Alice define the superstitions known as old wives’ tales?

Rob: Today we're talking about superstitions. Superstition is the belief that certain events can bring good luck or bad luck. For example, a lot of people think that the number 13 is unlucky, or that you can avoid bad luck if you touch wood.
Alice: Mm, in fact people even say 'touch wood' if they're hoping for something good to happen.
Rob: That's right. So Alice, are you superstitious?
Alice: Well I am, a bit. I don't like (1) walking under ladders for example.
Rob: Me too. Now animals, birds and nature feature a lot in British superstitions. We've already mentioned that people touch wood or knock on wood for luck. So could you tell us a few more British superstitions involving nature Alice?
Alice: Well one that I can think of off the top of my head is a (2) lucky rabbit's foot. Apparently if you carry a rabbit's foot around it will bring you good luck. It's what we call a lucky charm. So a rabbit's foot is a charm that brings good luck to the person carrying it.
Rob: But not to the rabbit! Dr Paul Walton, from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, spoke to the BBC about some superstitions surrounding birds in Scotland. Here he is talking about seagulls and the traditions associated with them.

Partly it must be because Scotland's such a fantastic place for birds, I think over the years these superstitions have developed because these are the living things that we share our lives with. For example, there's a long tradition in Scotland among sailors and fishermen of seeing the gulls that follow the boats as actually being the embodiment of (3) dead sailors, and to kill a gull is still in many places considered to be very back luck.

Rob: So it's bad luck to kill a seagull in Scotland because they're the embodiment of dead sailors. Let's listen to another bird superstition from Scotland. This is Paul Walton again talking about another of his favourite superstitions. Listen out for the bird noises in this clip and see if you can identify which bird he's talking about. What you should do when you hear its call?

One of my favourites is the cuckoo [Cuck-oo cuck-oo] If you hear a cuckoo calling and then you start to run away from it as quickly as you can, the number of times you hear the cuckoo calling before it fades into silence is (4) the number of years you've got left to live.

Rob: The cuckoo is a bird with a long tail and a very distinctive cry.
Alice: You can find (5) cuckoo clocks in Switzerland, Germany and Austria, with the cuckoo making a distinctive cry every hour.
Rob: But in Scotland, if you hear the cuckoo calling then you should run away from it as quickly as you can. And the number of times you hear the cuckoo is the number of years you've got left to live.
Alice: Oh dear. So surely you should (6) walk away very slowly – then you'd hear more calls and live longer? It seems like a very odd superstition to me – it's a real old wives' tale. An old wives' tale is what we call superstitions that are (7) totally untrue and ridiculous sometimes.
Rob: Thanks Alice.
Alice: See you next time!
Both: Bye!