Listening sample #4

by Anne Height, IB English B, Ivanhoe Grammar School, Melbourne, Australia

“Culture Shock: First Impressions of China and Japan”

"After two years in Tokyo, North Asia Correspondent Matthew Carney has just arrived for his new assignment in Beijing. To his surprise, he says, it's been a bit of a culture shock."   ...from the programme 'Correspondents' Report', ABC Radio    

This sample recording is designed to practise skills in dealing with two types of questions: 'identify true statements' and 'short answers'. Here is some general advice to pass on to your students, about how to handle these question types.

Identify true statements

For this section, students may need to understand general ideas expressed in the text OR they may need to understand specific facts or opinions.

Students should note that:

  • The statements provided may be paraphrases of sentences heard in the text (i.e., the same meaning in different words).
  • On the other hand, the statements provided could be opposite in meaning to sentences heard in the text.
  • Students must read these statements very carefully during reading time, before they hear the text.
  • For “Culture Shock” (which is comparing two countries) it would be very easy to give the wrong answer if students did not pay attention to important key words which indicate difference or degree:

 A – “more”

 B – “little”

 C – “Although”, “never”

 D – “more”

Some questions focus on the emotions and feelings of the speaker. So students need to listen for adjectives which describe feelings or actions:

E -  “helpful”

F -  “confident”

G  - “excited”

A variation on “matching statements with their sources”

In this particular task, “Culture Shock”, students are asked to match a statement about a country with the name of the country. The statements are direct quotations from the audio text. Throughout the text, the speaker alternates between describing Japan and describing China, so students need to maintain their focus and be aware of which country is being described. Note that the country may be named either at the beginning of a sentence, or at the end of a sentence (so it may involve some “backward reference”).

Short Answer questions

  • All short answer questions require students to focus carefully on specific details from the text. It is not possible to give an answer based on general knowledge or personal experience.
  • Often focus on specific information, such as names, dates, places, statistics, or may ask for a description of something
  • Usually focus on literal meaning of a text, rather than implied meaning
  • May require one or two words, a phrase, or a complete sentence
  • Students need to identify the information that is being asked for and express it as concisely as possible, without omitting any information needed to answer the question fully.
  • Students must read the wording of the question carefully. It might ask students to QUOTE words used by the speaker to express a particular point. (e.g. Q 7)
  • Students should always do exactly what the question asks - in Qs 5, 6 & 7, several answer are possible, but the instruction is to "Provide ONE..."

(NOTE: By the way, English B comprehension questions usually address one specific 'target phrase' only - questions to which there may be multiple answers are unusual.)

  • For some questions, it is acceptable for students to express the information in their own words (e.g. Q 8)
  • Students must be familiar with all possible question words/phrases:

“Who”, “What”, “Which”, “How many”, “Why”, “How often”, “When”  -  should pose no difficulties for most students.

“How” – identify the ways in which something is done or should be done, according to the text.

  • The following two question formats might possibly occur, but this is unlikely, since both demand a degree of personal interpretation which is not common in IB testing mechanisms:

“To what extent…” -  requires students to judge the degree or level of something.  Responses might include words such as “mostly” or “a little” or “very” or “slightly”.

“Explain” – students would need to elaborate (in their own words) on the information provided in the text.

  • Comparative words may be embedded in a question (“more”, “less”, “better”, “worse”, “bigger”, “smaller”……). Answers should include comparison of two or more things.

Multiple Choice

In this particular Listening Task, “Culture Shock”, the possible answers in the Multiple Choice relate to the final section of the audio text.

Students could be given the following advice:

  • The text will be played twice. Students should try to eliminate one or two incorrect answers on their first listening. In this particular example, none of the statements could be easily eliminated as obviously wrong – all sound quite plausible. But in some listening tasks, it may be possible to quickly identify one or two options as “unlikely”.

The materials

The stimulus recording - here is the basic audio recording, uploaded to SoundCloud...

   Culture shock 

... and here is a video version, if you have difficulties accessing the audio version

... and finally, the handouts -

Using the sample

Under 'The stimulus recording' above, click on 'Culture shock' - this will give you access to the recording uploaded in SoundCloud

Print out the handout 'Culture shock worksheet' - this has the listening comprehension questions. Copy as required.

Standard good practice is to follow this sequence:-

  1. ask the students to skim through the questions, in order to have some idea of what each is about. (If you're introducing the whole system, it might be wise to discuss this skimming process with the class, deciding what is useful to look for.)
  2. Play #1 - play the recording through for the first time
  3. pause for students to consider, and pencil in their answers - remembering that they may well not be quite sure of some of them, and will need to check during the second play-through
  4. Play #2 - play the recording for the second time
  5. final pause for students to decide on their definitive answers

And when everyone is ready, discuss the correct answers.

(And by the way, click on this icon to see the expected answers...

ANSWERS “Culture Shock” (1 mark per question)

1.   C

2.   D

3.   E

4.   G

5.  life-threatening; cars won’t stop for you; horns are constant; rules are broken

    (any one of these would be acceptable)

6. they are polite and ordered; they follow strict etiquette; they are concerned about the common good; they are obsessed with order and detail; the exquisiteness of their culture

    (any one of these would be acceptable)

7. more open; easier to be let in and get to know the people; more energy; exciting; one of the biggest stories in the world

    (any one of these would be acceptable)

8. people have offered to pay for me and guided me to the right platform

      (different words with similar meaning would be acceptable)

9. the exquisiteness of Japanese culture; their obsession with order and detail.

       (either of these would be acceptable)

10. China

11. China

12. Japan

13. China

14. Japan

15. B


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