Audio Texts

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Big Ideas: Intermediate Variety Pack



The following free, downloadable MP3 recordings have been read by three Carnegie Theatre actors in slowed down English. Each module has two readings followed by a discussion between two of the actors about a topic related to the texts.

These audio texts are adapted from the graded reader Big Ideas Intermediate: Variety Pack, Readers’ Choice published by Wayzgoose Press and can be used for listening practice in several ways. Here are just a few examples.


Intermediate learners can

  • listen to the passages alone as a way to improve skills for comprehending content. This can include listening for main ideas or details, listening to different sides of an issue, to take a position, to summarize, to compare, or listening to prepare for a conversation or writing task.
  • listen while reading the book, Big Ideas Intermediate: Variety Pack, Readers’ Choice as a way to work on decoding sound and meaning.  This can include listening to develop skills at hearing specific words in thought groups, as well as identifying linking, reductions, stress patterns and other elements of spoken English.*
  • listen to the pragmatics focused conversation at the end and take notes on or discuss the social signals, cues, and language that people use in natural back and forth native speaker discussions.

*Note: The audio files do not reflect updates to the published book, so there may be slight differences between the written and spoken text.

Unit 1: Public Conversations

  1. Introduction
  2. Neighbor’s neighbor’s nasty note goes viral  The speaker explores what happens on social media when a neighbor attempts to shame a family.
  3. Who owns the streets?  An incident between a driver and a group of bicycle riders turns violent raising questions about the future of city streets.
  4. Conversation  Jackson and Vivi discuss the politics of city streets.

Unit 2: Mind Control

  1. The Zeigarnik Effect  Sometimes just getting started is a way to finish, and sometimes taking a break is a way to get a better result.
  2. Is your mindset holding you back?  The way we think about ourselves might determine success or failure. Can we change our luck by changing the way we think?

There is no conversation in this file.

Unit 3: Art Appreciation

  1. Do we need music?  The need for language is obvious, but music also seems to be important to human beings, and we invest a lot in it. Why is this so?
  2. The art of getting dressed  Some people believe fashion is a story that we tell the public about ourselves, but is it an art form?
  3. Conversation   Vivi and Jackson compare notes about their own personal fashion stories and how their clothing choices might influence other people’s perceptions of them.

Unit 4: Robots Among Us

  1. Looking into the eyes of a robot   This text explains how human reactions to talking machines affects how roboticists design them.
  2. Should we worry about artificial intelligence?  The age of the electronic personal assistant has arrived. Our devices anticipate our needs and wants and they seem eager to help us, but is this always a good thing?
  3. Conversation   Cyrus and Vivi discuss the AI in their own lives. Their descriptions  make their devices almost seem like humans with personalities.

Unit 5: Nature Fix

  1. Climbing without a rope   Who would risk his or her life to climb up a verticle cliff without the protection of safety gear. Alex Honnold, that’s who.
  2. How I became adventurous   In this short story, a shy young man finds himself on a wilderness adventure that he did not expect.
  3. Conversation   Jackson and Cyrus compare notes on how they see themselves as risk-takers.

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