Practice Listening English Exercises for B1 – Famous People

Getting Ready

Match the famous people on the left with the descriptions on the right.

1 Leonardo da Vinci

2 Mozart

3 Norma Jean Baker

4 Ronald Reagan

5 Bill Gates

6 Amelia Earhart

a She changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.

b He was an actor who became a U.S. president.

He founded Microsoft and started a charity for educations.

d He wrote his first piece of music at the age of five.

e He painted the Mona Lisa.

She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic.

Show answers

1 e   2 d   3 a   4 b   5 c   6 f

Listening 1

These conversations are about famous people. Listen and circle each famous person’s job.

1   a  political leader

b actress

2   a  political leader

b writer

3   a  actor

b writer

4   a  painter

b athlete

5   a  actor

b singer

6   a  singer

b scientist

Show answers & Transcript

1 b   2 a   3 b   4 a   5 b   6 b

Transcript

1

A:  Hey, Lisa, are you free Thursday night? Some friends and I are going to see the new Halle Berry movie. Would you like to come along?

B: Oh, I’d love to go! She’s so beautiful. Didn’t she win a bunch of beauty pageants when she was younger?

A: Yeah, she did. And she’s so talented, too. She’s the first African American woman to win the Acade Award for Best Actress.

B: Yeah! That was really exciting.

2

A: Would you hand me that book on the table?

B: Sure. Here you go. What’s it about?

A: It’s about Gandhi.

B: Oh, yeah? He helped India become independent, right?

A: Right. It’s interesting stuff. He inspired so many people. But did you know he started out as a lawyer?

B:  No, I had no idea. So when did he become such an important leader in India?

A:  No until he was in his 40s.

3

A:  You look tired today, Nick. Here. Have a cup of coffee.

B:  Thanks. Could you pass me the cream? I was up all night reading the new Stephen King novel.

A:  He’s the one who writes those horror stories, right?

B:  That’s right.

A:  And haven’t they made a lot of his books into movies?

B:  Yeah, like Carrie and The Shining. They’re really good, and the books are even better. And really scary, too. This new book is giving me nightmares.

4

A:  How’s it going, A?

B:  Oh, all right. I’m writing a research paper on Leonardo da Vinci, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the library.

A: Isn’t he the one who painted the Mona Lisa?

B: Yeah. He also did a lot of other great paintings. And he was a scientist and an inventor, too!

5

A: Hey, Josh! Is that a Bob Marley poster?

B: Yeah. Do you like his music?

A: I sure do. He made reggae music famous all over the world. I love that song of his called “No Woman No Cry.” Have you heard that one?

B: Yeah. I downloaded a great version of it just last week. Do you want to hear it?

6

A: Hey, Jen, do you know where Albert Einstein was from? I need it for this crossword puzzle I’m doing.

B: Well, he’s from Germany, originally. That’s where he discovered the Theory of Relativity. It completely changed the study of physics.

A: Yeah, I know. I somehow thought he was American.

B: No, but he lived in the United States for a long time. He taught science at Princeton University.

Listening 2

Task 1

A writer is talking about the life of the actor James Dean. Did these events in Dean’s life happen in Indiana, California, or New York? Listen and check (✓) the correct answer.

Indiana

California

New York

1 He was born.

2 His mother passed away.

3 He lived with his aunt and uncle.

4 He went to college.

5 He did more stage acting.

6 He died in a car crash.

Show answers

1 Indiana   2 California

3 Indiana   4 California

5 New York   6 California

Task 2

Listen again. How did James Dean become famous? Number the events from 1 to 6.

He won an award as “Most Promising Newcomer.” ____

He had a starring role in East of Eden. ____

He acted in school plays. ____

He went to college ____

Rebel Without a Cause made him famous. ____

He did modeling for advertisements. ____

Show answers & Transcript

4 5 1 2 6 3

Transcript

A: Good evening and welcome to tonight’s edition of Legendary Lives. Our subject this evening is James Dean, actor and hero to the young people of his time. Edward Murry is the author of a new biography of Dean. Good evening, Edward.

B:  Hello, Tina.

A:  Edward, could you please tell us what you know about Dean’s early life.

B:  He was born in Indiana in 1931, but his parents moved to California when he was five. He wasn’t there long, though, because when his mother passed away just four years later, Jim’s father sent him back to Indiana to live with his aunt and uncle. While growing up there, he played baseball and basketball, rode horses, and played ice hockey. He used to ride his motorcycle all over the farmers’ fields, speeding and chasing cows.

A:  So, how did he get into acting?

B:  Well, first, he acted in school plays at his high school, where he won a drama award. He also won arts and sports awards in high school, and a speech contest, too. He went to college in California, and that’s where he seriously started to get into acting. He did modeling for advertisements and appeared in some TV shows. In 1951, he moved to New York to do more stage acting. In fact, he won an award as “Most Promising Newcomer” for 1954.

A: Well, when did his movie career really start?

B:  1955. His first starring role was in East of Eden. He was fabulous! James Dean became a huge success. But the movie that really made him famous was his second one, Rebel Without a Cause. That was about teenagers who felt like they didn’t fit into society.

A: So, how many more movies did he make?

B: Just one more. Then he died in a car crash in California, in 1955. He loved driving fast. In fact, he was driving his Porsche on his way to take part in a car race when he died.

A:  What a tragedy. He only made three movies, so what made him the legend he still is today?

B:  Well, I guess his looks, his acting ability, his short life, and maybe the type of character he played in his movies. Many young people saw him as a symbol of American youth.

Listening 3

Task 1

This person is talking about the life of South Africa leader Nelson Mandela. When did these events happen? Listen and write the years.

He was born in: ________ .

He joined the ANC in: ________ .

He became deputy president of the ANC in: ________ .

He was sentenced to life in prison in: ________ .

He was released from prison in: ________ .

He became State President in: ________ .

He retired in: ________ .

Show answers

1 1918   2 1942   3 1952   4 1964

5 1990   6 1994   7 1999

Task 2

Listen again. Are these statements true or false? Check (✓) the correct answer.

True

False

1 Mandela’s father was an assistant to a chief.

2 Mandela studied law.

3 The ANC encouraged people to be violent.

4 Mandela helped poor people stay on the land where they lived.

5 South Africans forgot about him while he was in prison.

6 As soon as he was released from prison, he retired.

Show answers & Transcript

1 True   2 True   3 False

4 True   5 False   6 False

Transcript

Nelson Mandela, the first African president of South Africa, was born in 1918. His father was an assistant to an important African chief, and as a young boy, Nelson often helped his father. While he listened to people telling the chief about their problems, Mandela decided he wanted to become a lawyer so that he could help his people with their struggle for freedom.

After high school, Mandela studied for a bachelor of law degree. In 1942, he started his political life by joining an organization called the ANC. “ANC” stands for African National Congress. The ANC fought against the laws of the South African government, because these laws made life difficult for black people. Even though most of the country’s population was black, the people who ran the government and had all of the power were white. Over the next few years, he and other members of the organization worked hard, and the ANC became a powerful national movement. The group encouraged people to resist the government in a peaceful and non-violent way.

Mandela became deputy president of the ANC in 1952. He was now an important leader of black South Africans. As a lawyer, he helped poor people stay on the land where they lived, instead of being forced to move to areas where the government wanted them to live. He also fought against laws that said that black and white people could not live in the same areas or go to the same schools.

During the early 1960s, the government began watching Mandela carefully, and he was soon arrested. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1962. He was not released from prison until 1990. Even while he was in prison, he inspired people in his own country and others all over the world.

After he was released, Mandela continued to try to achieve the goals he had set almost forty years earlier. In 1994, he became the first democratically elected State President of South Africa. He remained president until he retired in 1999. Today, the world remembers him as South Africa’s best known and best loved hero.

Conversation Corner: Celebrity sightings

Task 1

Listen to the conversation. Write the missing words.

A: So what ______. ______. ______. this weekend?

B: friends and I went to Los Angeles for the weekend.

A: Oh, really? Did ______. ______. ______. famous?

B: Yeah! We saw Leonardo DiCaprio in a cafe and Jackie Chan walking down the street!

A: No way! Did you get their autographs?

B: No. We were too shy to ask. What ______. ______. ______. if you saw someone famous? Would you ask for an autograph?

A: Maybe. I was at a restaurant once, and I took a picture of ______. ______. ______.!

Task 2

Practice the conversation with a partner. Be sure to reduce could you, would you.

Show answers & Transcript

A: So what did you do this weekend?

B: friends and I went to Los Angeles for the weekend.

A: Oh, really? Did you see anyone famous?

B: Yeah! We saw Leonardo DiCaprio in a cafe and Jackie Chan walking down the street!

A: No way! Did you get their autographs?

B: No. We were too shy to ask. What would you do if you saw someone famous? Would you ask for an autograph?

A: Maybe. I was at a restaurant once, and I took a picture of a big celebrity !