"End of the World" - Listening Comprehension

In the digital book, we offer new ideas as to how to exploit the comprehension exercises, in particular, the worksheets for oral pairwork training. As with "Honesty" and "The Iceberg Project," there are written and oral worksheets for "The End of the World is Near." This narrative is based on the radio play adapted by Orson Welles in 1938 from the science-fiction novel "The War of the Worlds." The exercises are found in QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book 2.0, but below you will find the recordings and the script of Part 1 in PDF.

Can people even today be deceived by the media into believing what is not true?

I believe this is a very topical theme today with the proliferation of messages (often fake) that we receive every day through the media.

This narrative (in podcasts Nos. 34 & 35) consists of two parts with an introduction, a continuous reading, and a listen-and-repeat section for each one. There are also "opinion" questions in the recording that students can take down in dictation and prepare orally or silently after completing each part. These recordings are appropriate for all levels from A2 to C1—thus good for mixed level classes. The oral files can be used in labs, in class or as "oral" homework when students have access to computers.

Two podcasts from "Your English" on the "End of the World"

You can download them here:

  • Your English No. 34 for "End of the World Part 1"


MP3 - 14.7 Mb
Your English 34: End of the World Pt1

PDF script: Your English 34 End of World - Part 1 + Qs for Debate

  • Your English No. 35 for "End of the World Part 2"


MP3 - 16.4 Mb
Your English 35: End of the World Pt2

The following exercises and keys are found in our Digital Resource Book:

- Scripts in DOC for Parts 1 and 2
- Listening comprehension fill-ins
- Exercises on dates and hypotheses
- Keys for listening comprehension fill-ins + exercises*
(*Teachers can modify the key using the native language of their students)

  • If you prefer you can go to iTunes, type my name "Marianne Raynaud," and get the whole series of "Your English" including Nos. 34 & 35 free of charge.

Intensive pairwork "oral" worksheets with keys in the Digital Book

As many teachers have to deal with large classes of 20 or more students, I thought it might be good for the students to work on the listening comprehension in pairs—after listening to the recorded version several times and having completed the fill-in + exercise worksheet. This pairwork activity is a different, oral way of working on listening comprehension compared to the use of a gap-fill grid. There are also debate questions and written assignment available.

The QualityTime-ESL Lesson Plan

So after working on the recording of part one to the class (playing it or reading it aloud yourself) and having the student do the fill-ins and the exercise, you hand out one recto-verso paper (the worksheet found below) to each pair of students. They take turns at being the "teacher," i.e., they read the text aloud (without letting their partner see the text). Then they do the listen-and-repeat part having their partner repeat, and then they ask the sort of questions we teachers tend to ask the whole class. The "student-teacher" gets help through the keywords given on the sheet. Of course, you will have even better results if you do this during the following session when the students have learned the text by heart.

PDF - 162.8 kb
Your English 34 End of World - Part 1 L&R+Qs

Straightforward, closed questions

On the paper, the questions to be asked by the “student teacher” are printed with specific words (given in parentheses) that the “student” should be using when answering. Again the “student teachers” are instructed not to show the paper to their partners.

The teacher will have to walk around to see and hear whether the students are speaking correctly, but I can assure you they will all be active and they will enjoy this activity much more than having the teacher put the questions to the whole class and answering one after another.

A short list of debate questions

There is an additional page, which the teacher should not print out or give to the students. It is a page with advice as well as the short list of debate questions found at the end of the recording (Podcast 34). The teacher can write these questions on the board or project them to the class. I strongly suggest that before starting the discussions, the students should change partners. These activities (reading, simple questions and then debate questions) should take about 30 minutes after which the teacher may decide to open up the discussion to the whole class—in that case, do look at my suggestions on the "Questions for Debate" page.

The assignment

The assignment after the first session should be to learn that second part by heart. It can also be to write 150 words on one of the debate questions and be ready to talk about their opinions in class without referring to their papers. A written assignment is provided in DOC and can easily be modified.

Part 2 of "End of the World" on a different day

I think it is advisable to do "End of the World Pt 2" on a different day. The students should first be asked to memorize part one and be ready to recite it to a partner at the next session. If they seem reluctant, tell them that this narrative is full of the type of expressions that are on international tests and that they will be reciting to a partner and not in front of the whole class. That should reassure and motivate them. I would like to point out that all the verbs in part one are in the simple present (giving opinions and information) and all the verbs in part two are in the simple past (telling what happened). So this narrative provides practice with useful structures and essential tenses.

One recto-verso paper for part two & debate questions

During the second class, you put the students in pairs. First, they recite Part 1 to each other—an essential phase. Second, they listen to the recording of Part 2 (or you can read it aloud yourself), and they complete the gap-fill exercise. Finally, you give out the oral worksheet, and they start the different activities leading up the debate questions that you project or write on the board. It is best to ask the students to change partners for this second pairwork activity.

Groups of three or four to "talk" about their essays

At the end of the second session, instead of having a whole class discussion this time you can ask the students to get up, form different groups of three or four, and (while they are standing) talk about what they said to their partners concerning the debate questions.

The assignment

The assignment after the second session should be to learn that second part by heart. It can also be to write 150 words on one of the debate questions. This work can be a graded written assignment. In that case, it is best to correct it, give it back, and have the students speak the following week about their opinions based on the essays they have revised and reprinted.

Students with great mastery of English

Students who are near fluent or at least speak correctly may well take to this list of controversial issues. These are ideas that the media (most of all controversial Internet websites) have tried to make us believe. Students may come up with similar topics affecting their own countries.

For a debate on a controversial subject with advanced students:

PDF - 104.4 kb
Your English 35 What medias make us believe

Great success with this theme

I have always had great success with this theme of "How the media influence our ideas and behavior," which today seems just as valid and up-to-date as in the past. With the lesson plan mentioned above, all the students will be participating actively and will wind up expressing their ideas far more than when the teacher asks them to answer a factual question or to express their personal opinion (unprepared) in front of everyone else.

Feedback is welcomed

I would enjoy getting some feedback from teachers using these podcasts and worksheets. Just write to Marianne Raynaud. You can also contact me if you have any questions.

All the files on this page available in MS Word

All the files mentioned on this page are available in MS Word in my digital book, which is much more than an e-book. If you purchase this digital book QualityTime-ESL: The Digital Resource Book 2.0 in 3 zips, which includes the video documents), you will get more than 1,500 files (MS Word, MP3, PPT, and video). To buy it, go to the store.

With the MS DOC files, you’ll be able to customize the worksheets, i.e., add definitions in your students’ native language, additional explanations or instructions like the due date of the essay assignment. Teachers who buy the book say they are overwhelmed by the number of excellent materials that they can adapt to their needs.

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