English Listening Practice for Advanced Level [The History of our World in 18 Minutes]

English Listening Practice for Advanced Level [The History of our World in 18 Minutes]

10 minutes English listening practice …

10:08But of course, life is more than just exotic chemistry. How do you stabilize those huge molecules that seem to be viable? Well, it’s here that life introduces an entirely new trick. You don’t stabilize the individual; you stabilize the template, the thing that carries information, and you allow the template to copy itself. And DNA, of course, is the beautiful molecule that contains that information. You’ll be familiar with the double helix of DNA. Each rung contains information. So, DNA contains information about how to make living organisms. And DNA also copies itself. So, it copies itself and scatters the templates through the ocean. So the information spreads. Notice that information has become part of our story. The real beauty of DNA though is in its imperfections. As it copies itself, once in every billion rungs, there tends to be an error. And what that means is that DNA is, in effect, learning. It’s accumulating new ways of making living organisms because some of those errors work. So DNA’s learning and it’s building greater diversity and greater complexity. And we can see this happening over the last four billion years.

11:26For most of that time of life on Earth, living organisms have been relatively simple — single cells. But they had great diversity, and, inside, great complexity. Then from about 600 to 800 million years ago, multi-celled organisms appear. You get fungi, you get fish, you get plants, you get amphibia, you get reptiles,and then, of course, you get the dinosaurs. And occasionally, there are disasters. Sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid landed on Earth near the Yucatan Peninsula, creating conditions equivalent to those of a nuclear war, and the dinosaurs were wiped out. Terrible news for the dinosaurs, but great news for our mammalian ancestors, who flourished in the niches left empty by the dinosaurs. And we human beings are part of that creative evolutionary pulse that began 65 million years ago with the landing of an asteroid.

12:29Humans appeared about 200,000 years ago. And I believe we count as a threshold in this great story. Let me explain why. We’ve seen that DNA learns in a sense, it accumulates information. But it is so slow.DNA accumulates information through random errors, some of which just happen to work. But DNA had actually generated a faster way of learning: it had produced organisms with brains, and those organisms can learn in real time. They accumulate information, they learn. The sad thing is, when they die, the information dies with them. Now what makes humans different is human language. We are blessed with a language, a system of communication, so powerful and so precise that we can share what we’ve learned with such precision that it can accumulate in the collective memory. And that means it can outlast the individuals who learned that information, and it can accumulate from generation to generation. And that’s why, as a species, we’re so creative and so powerful, and that’s why we have a history. We seem to be the only species in four billion years to have this gift.

13:43I call this ability collective learning. It’s what makes us different. We can see it at work in the earliest stages of human history. We evolved as a species in the savanna lands of Africa, but then you see humans migrating into new environments, into desert lands, into jungles, into the Ice Age tundra of Siberia — tough, tough environment — into the Americas, into Australasia. Each migration involved learning — learning new ways of exploiting the environment, new ways of dealing with their surroundings.

14:15Then 10,000 years ago, exploiting a sudden change in global climate with the end of the last ice age,humans learned to farm. Farming was an energy bonanza. And exploiting that energy, human populations multiplied. Human societies got larger, denser, more interconnected. And then from about 500 years ago,humans began to link up globally through shipping, through trains, through telegraph, through the Internet, until now we seem to form a single global brain of almost seven billion individuals. And that brain is learning at warp speed. And in the last 200 years, something else has happened. We’ve stumbled on another energy bonanza in fossil fuels. So fossil fuels and collective learning together explain the staggering complexity we see around us.

15:12So — Here we are, back at the convention center. We’ve been on a journey, a return journey, of 13.7 billion years. I hope you agree this is a powerful story. And it’s a story in which humans play an astonishing and creative role. But it also contains warnings. Collective learning is a very, very powerful force, and it’s not clear that we humans are in charge of it. I remember very vividly as a child growing up in England, living through the Cuban Missile Crisis. For a few days, the entire biosphere seemed to be on the verge of destruction. And the same weapons are still here, and they are still armed. If we avoid that trap, others are waiting for us. We’re burning fossil fuels at such a rate that we seem to be undermining the Goldilocks conditions that made it possible for human civilizations to flourish over the last 10,000 years. So what big history can do is show us the nature of our complexity and fragility and the dangers that face us, but it can also show us our power with collective learning.

16:28And now, finally — this is what I want. I want my grandson, Daniel, and his friends and his generation,throughout the world, to know the story of big history, and to know it so well that they understand both the challenges that face us and the opportunities that face us. And that’s why a group of us are building a free, online syllabus in big history for high-school students throughout the world. We believe that big history will be a vital intellectual tool for them, as Daniel and his generation face the huge challenges and also the huge opportunities ahead of them at this threshold moment in the history of our beautiful planet.

17:22I thank you for your attention.


Listening English Practice [Teach Every Child about Food – TED Talks]

English Listening Practice [Teach Every Child about Food – TED Talks]

10 minutes english listening practice …



10:51Ten percent of what we spend on health care, as I said earlier, is on obesity, and it’s going to double.We’re not teaching our kids. There’s no statutory right to teach kids about food, elementary or secondary school, OK? We don’t teach kids about food, right? And this is a little clip from an elementary school,which is very common in England.

11:12(Video) Who knows what this is?

11:14Child: Potatoes.

11:15Jamie Oliver: Potato? So, you think these are potatoes? Do you know what that is? Do you know what that is?

11:20Child: Broccoli?

11:22JO: What about this? Our good old friend.

11:24Child: Celery.

11:25JO: No. What do you think this is?

11:27Child: Onion. JO: Onion? No.

11:29JO: Immediately you get a really clear sense of “Do the kids know anything about where food comes from?” Who knows what that is? Child: Uh, pear?

11:36JO: What do you think this is? Child: I don’t know.

11:39JO: If the kids don’t know what stuff is, then they will never eat it.


11:46JO: Normal. England and America, England and America. Guess what fixed that. Two one-hour sessions.We’ve got to start teaching our kids about food in schools, period.


12:05I want to tell you about something that kind of epitomizes the trouble that we’re in, guys, OK? I want to talk about something so basic as milk. Every kid has the right to milk at school. Your kids will be having milk at school, breakfast and lunch, right? They’ll be having two bottles, OK? And most kids do. But milk ain’t good enough anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I support milk — but someone at the milk boardprobably paid a lot of money for some geezer to work out that if you put loads of flavorings, colorings and sugar in milk, more kids will drink it. Yeah.

12:44Obviously now that’s going to catch on the apple board is going to work out that if they make toffee apples they’ll eat more as well. Do you know what I mean? For me, there isn’t any need to flavor the milk.Okay? There’s sugar in everything. I know the ins and outs of those ingredients. It’s in everything. Even the milk hasn’t escaped the kind of modern-day problems. There’s our milk. There’s our carton. In that is nearly as much sugar as one of your favorite cans of fizzy pop, and they are having two a day. So, let me just show you. We’ve got one kid, here — having, you know, eight tablespoons of sugar a day. You know, there’s your week. There’s your month. And I’ve taken the liberty of putting in just the five years of elementary school sugar, just from milk. Now, I don’t know about you guys, but judging the circumstances, right, any judge in the whole world, would look at the statistics and the evidence, and they would find any government of old guilty of child abuse. That’s my belief.


14:03(Applause ends)

14:04Now, if I came up here, and I wish I could come up here today and hang a cure for AIDS or cancer, you’d be fighting and scrambling to get to me. This, all this bad news, is preventable. That’s the good news. It’s very, very preventable. So, let’s just think about, we got a problem here, we need to reboot. Okay so, in my world, what do we need to do? Here is the thing, right, it cannot just come from one source. To reboot and make real tangible change, real change, so that I could look you in the white of the eyes and say, “In 10 years’ time, the history of your children’s lives, happiness — and let’s not forget, you’re clever if you eat well, you know you’re going to live longer — all of that stuff, it will look different. OK?”

14:52So, supermarkets. Where else do you shop so religiously? Week in, week out. How much money do you spend, in your life, in a supermarket? Love them. They just sell us what we want. All right. They owe us to put a food ambassador in every major supermarket. They need to help us shop. They need to show us how to cook quick, tasty, seasonal meals for people that are busy. This is not expensive. It is done in some, and it needs to be done across the board in America soon, and quick. The big brands, you know, the food brands, need to put food education at the heart of their businesses. I know, easier said than done. It’s the future. It’s the only way.

15:33Fast food. With the fast-food industry you know, it’s very competitive. I’ve had loads of secret papers and dealings with fast food restaurants. I know how they do it. I mean, basically they’ve weaned us on to these hits of sugar, salt and fat, and x, y, and z, and everyone loves them, right? So, these guys are going to be part of the solution. But we need to get the government to work with all of the fast food purveyors and the restaurant industry, and over a five, six, seven year period wean of us off the extreme amounts of fat, sugar and all the other non-food ingredients.

16:08Now, also, back to the sort of big brands: labeling, I said earlier, is an absolute farce and has got to be sorted. OK, school. Obviously, in schools, we owe it to them to make sure those 180 days of the year,from that little precious age of four, until 18, 20, 24, whatever, they need to be cooked proper, fresh foodfrom local growers on site, OK? There needs to be a new standard of fresh, proper food for your children, yeah?


16:43Under the circumstances, it’s profoundly important that every single American child leaves schoolknowing how to cook 10 recipes that will save their life. Life skills.


16:57That means that they can be students, young parents, and be able to sort of duck and dive around the basics of cooking, no matter what recession hits them next time. If you can cook, recession money doesn’t matter. If you can cook, time doesn’t matter. The workplace, we haven’t really talked about it.You know, it’s now time for corporate responsibility to really look at what they feed or make available to their staff. The staff are the moms and dads of America’s children. Marissa, her father died in her hand, I think she’d be quite happy if corporate America could start feeding their staff properly. Definitely they shouldn’t be left out. Let’s go back to the home.

17:37Now, look, if we do all this stuff, and we can, it’s so achievable. You can care and be commercial.Absolutely. But the home needs to start passing on cooking again, for sure. For sure, pass it on as a philosophy. And for me, it’s quite romantic, but it’s about if one person teaches three people how to cook something, and they teach three of their mates, that only has to repeat itself 25 times, and that’s the whole population of America. Romantic, yes, but most importantly, it’s about trying to get people to realize that every one of your individual efforts makes a difference. We’ve got to put back what’s been lost. Huntington’s Kitchen. Huntington, where I made this program, we’ve got this prime-time programthat hopefully will inspire people to really get on this change. I truly believe that change will happen.Huntington’s Kitchen. I work with a community. I worked in the schools. I found local sustainable fundingto get every single school in the area from the junk, onto the fresh food: six-and-a-half grand per school.


18:41That’s all it takes, six-and-a-half grand per school. The Kitchen is 25 grand a month. Okay? This can do 5,000 people a year, which is 10 percent of their population, and it’s people on people. You know, it’s local cooks teaching local people. It’s free cooking lessons, guys, in the Main Street. This is real, tangible change, real, tangible change. Around America, if we just look back now, there is plenty of wonderful things going on. There is plenty of beautiful things going on. There are angels around America doing great things in schools — farm-to-school set-ups, garden set-ups, education — there are amazing people doing this already. The problem is they all want to roll out what they’re doing to the next school, but there’s no cash. We need to recognize the experts and the angels quickly, identify them, and allow them to easily find the resource to keep rolling out what they’re already doing, and doing well. Businesses of America need to support Mrs. Obama to do the things that she wants to do.


19:51And look, I know it’s weird having an English person standing here before you talking about all this. All I can say is: I care. I’m a father, and I love this country. And I believe truly, actually, that if change can be made in this country, beautiful things will happen around the world. If America does it, other people will follow. It’s incredibly important.

20:14(Audience) Yeah!


20:21When I was in Huntington, trying to get a few things to work when they weren’t, I thought “If I had a magic wand, what would I do?” And I thought, “You know what? I’d just love to be put in front of some of the most amazing movers and shakers in America.” And a month later, TED phoned me up and gave me this award. I’m here. So, my wish. Dyslexic, so I’m a bit slow. My wish is for you to help a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, to inspire families to cook again, and to empower people everywhere to fight obesity.


21:31Thank you.

21:32(Applause continues)

English Listening Practice [Do Schools Kill Creativity? – TED Talks]

English Listening Practice [Do Schools Kill Creativity? – TED Talks]

10 minutes English listening practice.



10:27Don’t they? It’s a way of getting their head to meetings.


10:36If you want real evidence of out-of-body experiences, get yourself along to a residential conference of senior academics, and pop into the discotheque on the final night.


10:48And there, you will see it. Grown men and women writhing uncontrollably, off the beat.


10:56Waiting until it ends so they can go home and write a paper about it.


11:02Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason. Around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas.

11:18Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution.

11:41And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly-talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.

12:06In the next 30 years, according to UNESCO, more people worldwide will be graduating through education than since the beginning of history. More people, and it’s the combination of all the things we’ve talked about — technology and its transformation effect on work, and demography and the huge explosion in population.

12:23Suddenly, degrees aren’t worth anything. Isn’t that true? When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job. If you didn’t have a job, it’s because you didn’t want one. And I didn’t want one, frankly. (Laughter) But now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games, because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other. It’s a process of academic inflation. And it indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence.

12:56We know three things about intelligence. One, it’s diverse. We think about the world in all the ways that we experience it. We think visually, we think in sound, we think kinesthetically. We think in abstract terms, we think in movement. Secondly, intelligence is dynamic. If you look at the interactions of a human brain,as we heard yesterday from a number of presentations, intelligence is wonderfully interactive. The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity — which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value — more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.

13:33By the way, there’s a shaft of nerves that joins the two halves of the brain called the corpus callosum. It’s thicker in women. Following off from Helen yesterday, this is probably why women are better at multi-tasking. Because you are, aren’t you? There’s a raft of research, but I know it from my personal life. If my wife is cooking a meal at home — which is not often, thankfully.


13:58No, she’s good at some things, but if she’s cooking, she’s dealing with people on the phone, she’s talking to the kids, she’s painting the ceiling, she’s doing open-heart surgery over here. If I’m cooking, the door is shut, the kids are out, the phone’s on the hook, if she comes in I get annoyed. I say, “Terry, please, I’m trying to fry an egg in here.”


14:25″Give me a break.”


14:28Actually, do you know that old philosophical thing, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, did it happen? Remember that old chestnut? I saw a great t-shirt recently, which said, “If a man speaks his mind in a forest, and no woman hears him, is he still wrong?”


14:50And the third thing about intelligence is, it’s distinct. I’m doing a new book at the moment called “Epiphany,” which is based on a series of interviews with people about how they discovered their talent.I’m fascinated by how people got to be there. It’s really prompted by a conversation I had with a wonderful woman who maybe most people have never heard of, Gillian Lynne. Have you heard of her? Some have. She’s a choreographer, and everybody knows her work. She did “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s wonderful. I used to be on the board of The Royal Ballet, as you can see. Anyway, Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, “How did you get to be a dancer?” It was interesting. When she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, “We think Gillian has a learning disorder.” She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point. It wasn’t an available condition.


15:48People weren’t aware they could have that.


15:53Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother,and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about the problems Gillian was having at school. Because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight. In the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian, and said, “I’ve listened to all these things your mother’s told me, I need to speak to her privately. Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long,” and they went and left her.

16:26But as they went out of the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said,”Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”

16:50I said, “What happened?” She said, “She did. I can’t tell you how wonderful it was. We walked in this room and it was full of people like me. People who couldn’t sit still. People who had to move to think.” Who had to move to think. They did ballet, they did tap, jazz; they did modern; they did contemporary.She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School, founded the Gillian Lynne Dance Company, met Andrew Lloyd Webber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history, she’s given pleasure to millions, and she’s a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.


17:39What I think it comes to is this: Al Gore spoke the other night about ecology and the revolution that was triggered by Rachel Carson. I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth: for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children.

18:13There was a wonderful quote by Jonas Salk, who said, “If all the insects were to disappear from the Earth, within 50 years all life on Earth would end. If all human beings disappeared from the Earth, within 50 years all forms of life would flourish.” And he’s right.

18:33What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely and that we avert some of the scenarios that we’ve talked about. And the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are.And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. By the way — we may not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it.

19:04Thank you very much.