English Listening Exercises for A2 – A life of crime

Listening Strategy

The information that you need to understand in the recorded text may be expressed differently in the task. Listen out for synonyms (e.g. hate /can’t stand) and antonyms (e.g. win /lose), and also for information and ideas that are paraphrased (worded differently).

1. Read the sentences and choose the best synonym ore paraphrase for the underlined words (a, b or c).

The image of an outlaw appeals to a lot of people

is attractive to

is similar to

c   annoys

Members of the gang made large amounts of money.

were very short of money

needed a lot of money

c   became very rich

They stole rings and necklaces from shops.

treasure

jewellery

c   clothes

Many people were unemployed at that time.

didn’t have jobs

were working

c   were poor

The robbery did not last very long.

was not successful

was short

c   was the first of many

6 She told the police that she didn’t own the car.

a she disliked the car

b she didn’t use the car

c the car didn’t belong to her.

Show answers

12 c  34 a  5 b  6 c

2. Listen to six short monologues. Answer the questions about each speaker.

1 Does speaker 1 usually buy clothes or jewellery for his wife’s birthday?

 __________.

2 Did speaker 2 have a long or short illness after a holiday in Africa?

 __________.

3 Does speaker 3 like or dislike the idea of going BASE jumping?

 __________.

4 Did speaker 4’s computer company make her rich?

 __________.

5 Did speaker 5’s parent own the house he lived in when he was a child?

 __________.

6 When speaker 6 lived in Greece, was her father employed or unemployed?

     _________.

Show answers

1 He usually buys jewellery.

2 She had a short illness after her holiday.

3 He likes the idea.

4 No, she never made large amounts of money.

5 No.

6 He was employed.

Transcript

1 Last year, I bought wife a coat for her birthday – but that was quite unusual. (And she didn’t like it anyway. She took it back to the shop!) I normally get her some earrings, or a necklace – sometimes a ring. That kind of thing, anyway. She says I’ve got good taste!

2 I went to West Africa last summer and when I got back, I didn’t feel well. I had a high temperature and a really bad headache. I thought I had a really nasty tropical disease – but it didn’t last long. I went to see the doctor and she said I probably just caught a cold on the flight home!

3 I’ve tried a few unusual sports in time, like cave diving and paragliding – but I’ve never tried BASE jumping. It really appeals to me, actually. Although it looks pretty frightening and I’m sure it’s dangerous.

4 When I first left university, I started own company. It was a computer business – I gave computer advice to people who couldn’t afford a contract with a large company. It went quite well, but I never made large amounts of money. Now I work for a software company in London.

5 When I was a kid, we lived in a fantastic house on the coast. It was only a five minute walk to the beach, and we went there every day after school – even in the winter! But the house didn’t belong to parents, and when I was about seven or eight, we moved to the city.

6 We spent a few years in Greece when I was a teenager. I went to school there and everything. We lived in a village – because parents found a beautiful house there and fell in love with it. But I always felt quite different from the other children. dad had a well-paid job in Athens. So they always thought of us as the rich foreign kids who didn’t speak Greek very well!

3. Choose the word which makes sentence b mean the same as sentence a.

1   a   They were like celebrities.

b They wereweren’t very well-known.

2   a   We made up some of the stories about them.

     b   AllNotall of the stories about them were true.

3   a   He was a good student.

b He did badlywell at school.

4   a   They were always in trouble with the law.

b The police oftennever caught them committing crimes.

5   a   We rarely argued.

b We oftenhaddidnotoftenhave disagreements.

6   a   Neither of them got out of the castle alive.

b They both died insideoutside the castle.

7   a   He never killed anyone.

b He waswasnot a murderer.

Show answers

1 were  2 not all  3 well 4 often

5 did not often have  6 inside 7 was not

4. Listen to a radio programme about a famous criminal called Ma Barker and her sons. Complete the fact file.

img

Show answers

Born: 1872    Real name: Arizona     Husband: George Barker

Number of sons: four     Died: 1935

Transcript

see exercise 5.

5. Listen again. Chose the correct answer, a or b. Sometimes both answers are correct.

During her own lifetime, Ma Barker was

a very well-known criminal.

the only well-known criminal in the USA.

The newspapers printed some stories about Ma Barker which were

true.

invented.

At school, Ma Barker’s sons.

were not good students.

behaved well most of the time.

George Barker argued with his wife because

she did not support their sons.

he did not want their sons to be criminals.

In 1935, the police killed

Ma Barker.

Ma Barker’s son, Fred.

Show answers

1 F   2 T   3 T   4 F   5 F   6 F   7 T

Transcript

Host Continuing our series on Public Enemies, I’m talking to Martin Bagwell, an expert on American criminal gangs from the 1930s. And today we’re discussing a fascinating figure called Ma Barker. Was she a well-known figure in her day?

Martin Yes, she certainly was. At that time – in the 1930s – there were quite a few famous criminals in the United States. For example, Bonnie and Clyde, Baby Face Nelson and John Dillinger. The United States government called these people “Public Enemies” because they had committed large numbers of serious crimes. The public were very aware of these people and the newspapers had a lot of stories about them. Although they made up some of the stories!

H So they were almost like celebrities.

M Yes, they were. They were celebrities really. Remember, these were the days before TV and the Internet. People were fascinated by the lives of these criminals – and sometimes it’s difficult to know which of the stories about them are true and which are false.

H So what do we know for sure about Ma Barker?

M Well, we know she was born in 1872 and that her name was Arizona – but people called her Arrie. She was married to a man called George Barker and they had four sons. The sons’ names were Herman, Lloyd, Arthur and Fred. Fred was the youngest boy – and he was Ma’s favourite.

H And were they a fairly normal family at first?

M No, not really. They were very poor. The boys did badly at school and probably never learned to read or write. They were always in trouble with the law.

H What did Ma and her husband think of that?

M Well, Ma always supported her boys. If they ended up in prison, Ma tried to get them out. But their father, George, had a different opinion and often had disagreements with his wife about their sons. He hated living in a family of criminals – and when the boys grew up into adults, he left. The boys committed crime after crime, including murders and robberies – and Ma Barker was always with them – right until the end.

H What happened at the end?

M Well, police officers from the FBI were determined to find Ma Barker. One day in January 1935, they found the house where Ma and her favourite son, Fred, were hiding. Fred and Ma refused to give themselves up. There was a gunfight with the police and neither Fred nor Ma Barker got out of the building alive. After their deaths, Ma Barker became even more famous. The head of the FBI said that Ma Barker had been the most dangerous criminal of the past ten years. Today, though, most experts think that this probably wasn’t true. In fact, it is likely that she never killed anyone – and perhaps did not commit any crimes at all, although she certainly helped her boys to commit them.

H Martin Bagwell – thank you.