Transcript | TOEFL listening practice test 2018 | Test 20

Transcript | TOEFL listening practice test 2018 | Test 20


Narrator: Listen to a conversation between a student and a library employee.

Student: Excuse me, I received a letter that I am supposed to return a book that I checked out back in September,

it’s called Modern Social Problems.

But I am writing my senior thesis, so I thought I was allowed to keep the book for the whole academic year.

Librarian: So you signed up for extended borrowing privileges?

Student: Yeah.

Librarian: And we are still asking you to bring the book back?

Student: Uh-huh. Do I really have to?

Librarian: Well, let me check the computer. The title was … Modern Social Problems?

Student: Yeah.

Librarian: Eh… Ok, yeah. It’s been recalled.

You can keep it all year as long as no one else requests it,

but someone else has, it looks like one of the professors in the sociology department.

So you have to bring it back. You can check it out again when it is returned in a couple of weeks.

Student: What if the person renews it? And I really need it right now.

Librarian: All of it? Or is there a certain section or chapter you are working with?

Student: Well, there’s one chapter in particular I am working with, but why?

Librarian: Well, we normally don’t do this, but because of the circumstances we can photocopy up to one chapter for you.

Why don’t you do that for the one you are working with right now?

And by the time you need the rest of the book, maybe it’ll have been returned.

Student: Oh, that would be great.

Librarian: Do you have it with you?

Student: Eh… no, it’s in my dorm room. These are books I want to check out today.

Is it OK if I bring that one by in a couple of days?

Librarian: Actually, the due day is tomorrow.

After that, there’ll be a two dollar per day fine.

But you need to return it today if you want to check out any books today. That’s our policy.

Student: Oh, I see.

Librarian: Yeah, not a lot of people realize that.

In fact, every semester we get a few students who would Have their borrowing privileges suspended completely because they haven’t returned books.

They are allowed to use books only in the library.

They are not allowed to check anything out because of unreturned books.

Student: That’s not good. I guess I should head back to the dorm right now.

Librarian: But before you go, what you should do is fill out a form requesting the book back in two weeks.

Then the person who requested it won’t be able to renew it. You’ll get it back quickly.

Student: I’ll do that right now.


Narrator: Listen to a conversation between a student and a professor.

Student: Professor Jennings, I hope I am not interrupting, but you wanted to see me?

Professor: Oh, hello, Suzane. Yes, yes, come right in. How are you doing?

Student: All right.

Professor: Well, good. The reason I wanted to talk to you was that while you were presenting you linguistics project in class the other day,

well, you know, I was thinking you are a perfect candidate for the dean’s undergraduate research fund.

Student: Um … Professor, I am really sure what the… um … dean….

Professor: Undergraduate research fund is … It is a mouthful I suppose.

  1. Here’s the thing. Every year the school has a pool of money to fund a number of research projects of undergraduate students.

Because as you can imagine, in-depth research often requires monetary support.

Student: I would like to expand on my research.

Professor: Good. First a panel of professors reviews the applications for the grant.

And then they decide which project should be funded.

The allotted money could be used for travel expenses, to attend a conference for example,

or things like supplies, research equipment, resources that are necessary to conduct the research.

Student: I see.

Professor: Right. And I think you should apply for this grant.

Your project is definitely eligible.

And you can expand it if you have the necessary resources.

So, does it sound like something you would be interested in?

Student: Oh, yeah, sounds great.

I thought the topic I work on was very interesting,

and it is certainly relevant to my linguistics major.

I assume it will also look good when I try to get into graduate school.

But how do I apply for the grant?

Professor: It is pretty straightforward.

A brief description of your proposed project, and an estimated budget.

How much you need to spend and what you intend to spend it on.

Also a glowing letter of recommendation from a linguistics professor wouldn’t hurt,

which I’d be more than happy to write up for you.

Student: OK. Cool. I am pretty clear on how to carry out my project,

but I am not sure where I can find more information on the subject.

Professor: Well, I have already thought of that.

There’s this private library at a university in Boston.

By the way, because I graduated from that school, I can get you access to it, no problem.

You see the library houses lots of unpublished documents that are relevant to your topic.

Student: So I can put that on the application for the grant,

that I plan on using material from that library for my research and figure a trip to Boston into my budget?

Professor: Exactly. I really think judging from your work in class,

and the relevance and clarity of this project, you really have a good chance of getting the funding.

Student: OK. I’ll definitely apply then.

Professor: The sooner the better. It is due in a few weeks. Gook Luck! And I’ll get that letter written up right away.


Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a linguistics class.

Professor: Ok, the conventions or assumptions that govern conversation,

these may vary from one culture to another,

but basically, for people to communicate there is a …

they have to follow certain rules.

Like if I am talking with you and I start saying things that are not true,

if you can’t tell when I am lying and when I am telling the truth, well,

we are not going to have a very satisfactory conversation, are we? Why?

Because it violates one of the Gricean Maxims,

that’s a set of rules or maxims a philosopher name H.P.Grice came up with in 1970s.

One of these Gricean Maxims is…well, I’ve already given you a hint.

Student: Oh, you just can’t go around telling lies.

Professor: Right, or as Grice put it, Do not say what you believe to be false.

That’s one of Grice’s Maxims of Quality as he called it. So that’s pretty obvious.

But there are others just as important.

Like, eh… suppose you would ask me what time it was and I replied my sister just got married, what would you think?

Student: You are not really answering my question.

Professor: No, I am not, am I?

There is no connection at all, which feels wrong because you generally expect to find one.

So one important maxim is simply: be relevant.

And using the so-called Maxim of Relevance we can infer things as well,

or rather the speaker can imply things and the listener can make inferences.

For instance, suppose you say you would really love to have a cup of coffee right now,

and I say  there’s a shop around the corner’.

Now, what can you infer from what I said?

Student: Well, the shop sells coffee for one thing.

Professor: Right, and that I believe it is open now.

Because if I won’t implying those things, my response would not be relevant.

It’d have no connection with what you said before. But according to the maxim,

my response should be relevant to your statement, meaning,

we should assume some connection between the statement and the response.

And this maxim of relevance is quite efficient to use.

Even if I don’t spell out all the details, you can still make some useful logical inferences, namely, the shop is open and it sells coffee.

If we actually have to explain all these details, conversations would move along pretty slowly, wouldn’t they?

OK, then there’s the maxims of manner, including things like be clear, and avoid ambiguity.

And another more interesting maxims is one of the so-called maxims of quantity, quantities of information, that is.

It says, to give as much as is required in the situation.

So suppose you asked me what I did yesterday and I say went to the Art Museum.

You would likely infer that I saw some works of art.

Suppose, though, that I did not go inside the museum, I just walked up to it then left.

Then I violated the quantity maxim by not giving enough information.

So you can see how important implications are to our ability to carry on a conversation.

But there are times when people will violate these maxims on purpose.

Let’s say a boss is asked to write a letter of recommendation for a former employee seeking an engineering job.

The letter he writes is quite brief. Something like, uh, Mr. X is polite and always dresses quite neatly.

So what does this really mean?

Student: Oh, I see. By not mentioning any important qualities related to the job, the boss is …

like, implying that this is best that can be said about Mr. X that he is really not qualified.

Professor: Exactly. It’s a written letter not a conversation, but the principle is the same.

The boss is conveying a negative impression of Mr. X without actually saying negative about him.

So, by violating the maxims, we …eh… but … it can be a way to be subtle or polite, or to convey humor through sarcasm or irony.

Sometimes though people will violate maxims for another purpose: to deceive. Now, can you imagine who might do such a thing?

Student: Some politicians.

Student: Or advertisers.

Professor: Right. Anyone who may see an advantage in implying certain things that are untrue without explicitly saying something untrue.

They think, hey, don’t blame us if our audience happens to draw inferences that are simply not true.

So next time you see an advertisement saying some product could be up to 20% more effective,

think of these maxims of quantity and relevance, and ask yourself what inferences you are being led to draw.

Think, more effective than what exactly? And why do they use those little phrases could be and up to’?

These claims give us a lot less information than they seem to.



Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in an environmental science class.

Professor: I’d like to take you back about 11 thousand years ago when Earth entered the latest interglacial period.

Interglacial periods are, typically periods of time between Ice Ages,

when the climate warms, and the glacial ice retreats for a time,

before things cool off again and another Ice Age begins.

And for over the past several million years,

Earth’s sort of default climate has actually been Ice Age,

but we have experienced periodic regular thaws, and the last one,

the one we are in now, started about 11 thousand years ago.

Now, the typical pattern for an interglacial period,

and we have studied several, is that the concentration of carbon dioxide and methane gas actually reaches it… its peak,

that is, there is the most carbon dioxide and methane gas,

uh, greenhouse gases in the atmosphere just after the Beginning of the interglacial period.

And then, for reasons which are not entirely clear, the concentration of greenhouse gases gradually goes down.

Now, the climate continues to warm for a while because there is a lag effect.

But uh, gradually as the concentration of greenhouse gases goes down,

Earth starts to cool again, and eventually you slip back into an Ice Age.

Um, however, for the latest interglacial period, the one we are in now, this pattern did not hold,

that is, the concentration of carbon dioxide and methane dipped a little bit after,

uh, uh, after peaking at the beginning, near the beginning of the interglacial period,

but then it began to rise again. Um …

What was different about this interglacial period than the other ones?

Well, one of the big differences is human activity.

People began to raise crops and animals for food instead of hunting for them.

This is the agricultural revolution.

And it began to happen in the earliest stages about 11 thousand years ago.

Now, scientists have tended to regard … the …

uh … agricultural revolution as a beneficiary of the …

uh … fortuitous shift in climate.

However, some new theories of climate,

new theorists of climate have proposed that perhaps humanity was having an effect on the climate as far back as the beginnings of the agricultural revolution.

When you grow crops and uh, pasture your animals,

one of the things you do is you cut down the forests.

If you cut down the forests, when you burn the trees for fuel and don’t replace them with other trees,

or when you just leave them to rot and don’t allow other trees to grow,

you end up with a lot more carbon in the form of carbon dioxide getting into the atmosphere.

Um … another gas associated with the spread of agriculture is methane.

Methane forms in large concentration above wetlands, and as it turns out,

the cultivation of certain grains creates vast areas of artificial wetlands,

and probably drastically increases the amount of methane getting into the atmosphere,

over and above what would be there.

So, um… agriculture, the … the spread of agriculture,

you know we are talking over thousands of Years,

um… but this could very well had a profound effect on the composition of Earth’s atmosphere.

It’s kind of ironic to think that absent that effect,

it maybe that we would be heading into an Ice Age again.

In fact, back in the 1970s, a lot of theorists were predicting that, you know,

the climate would start to cool and we’d slowly enter into the new Ice Age.

And then they were puzzled as to why it didn’t seem to be happening.

Umm… now, what are the implications for the future?

Well, um… it is a little tricky.

I mean, you could say, well, here is an example of …

um … human activity, the agricultural revolution which actually was beneficial;

we altered the climate for the better, perhaps, by preventing an Ice Age.

But then industrialization, of course,

has drastically increased the amount of carbon dioxide that humans are putting into the atmosphere,

the burning of fossil fuels tends to put a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Um… so we are entering into uncharted territory now, in terms of the amount of carbon dioxide,

the concentrations of carbon dioxide that are now being put into the atmosphere as a result of industrialization and the use of fossil fuels.


Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a literature class.

Professor: All right, so now we’ve talked about folk legends and seen that their …

one of their key features is there’s usually some real history behind them.

They are often about real people, so you can identify with the characters,

and that’s what engages us in them.

The particular stories might not be true and some of the characters or events might be made up.

But there’s still a sense that the story could have been true since it is about a real person.

That’s distinct contrast from the other main branch of popular storytelling, which is folk tales.

Folk tales are imaginative stories that … um … like folk legends,

they have been passed down orally, from storyteller to storyteller for … since ancient times.

But with folk tales you don’t ever really get the sense that the story might have been true.

They are purely imaginative and so quite revealing,

I think anyway, about the culture and the connection between folk tales and culture,

which we’ll talk about.

But first let’s go over the various types of folk tale and focus specifically on Norwegian folk tales since they illustrate the variety pretty well.

There are in general three main types of Norwegian folk tales.

One is animal stories, where animals are the main characters.

They can be wild animals or domestic, and a lot of times they can talk and behave like humans,

but at the same time, they retain their animal characteristics too.

They tend to involve animals like bears, wolves and foxes.

The point of these stories, their, their internal objectives,

so the speak, is usually to explain some feature of the animal,

how it arose. So there’s one about a fox who fools a bear into going ice fishing with his tail.

When the bear puts his tail into the water through a hole in the ice, to try and catch a fish,

the ice freezes around it, and he ends up pulling his tail off.

So that’s why bears to this day have such short tails.

The second category of Norwegian folk tale is the supernatural.

Eh … stories about giants and dragons and trolls, and humans with supernatural powers or gifts, like invisibility cloaks.

Or where people are turned into animals and back again into a person, those are called transformation stories.

There’s a well-known Norwegian supernatural folk tale,

a transformation story called east of the Sun and West of the Moon,

which we’ll read. It involves a prince who is a white bear by night and a human by day.

And he lives in the castle that’s east of the Sun and west of the Moon,

which the heroine in the story has to try to find.

Besides being a good example of a transformation story,

this one also has a lot of the common things that tend to show up in folk tales.

You will find the standard opening, once upon a time ….

And it has stock characters like a prince, and a poor but beautiful peasant girl,

she is the heroine I mentioned. And … um … it has a very conventional form.

So no more than two characters are involved in any one scene.

And it has a happy ending. And it’s … the story is presented as though …

well, even though a lot of the actions that occurred are pretty fantastic,

so you’d never think of it as realistic. The characters still act like …

they resemble real people. They are not real or even based on historical figures.

But you might have a supernatural story involving a king,

and he’d act like you’d expect a Norwegian king to act.

  1. The third main kind of folk tale is the comical story.

We’ll say more later about these, but for now, just be aware of the category and that they can contain supernatural aspects,

but they are usually more playful and amusing overall than supernatural stories.

Now, as I said, traditionally, folk tales were just passed down orally.

Each generation of storytellers had their own style of telling a story.

But … um … in Norway, before the 19 century, folk tales were just for kids.

They weren’t seen as worthy of analysis or academic attention.

But this changed when the Romantic Movement spread throughout Europe in the mid-19th century.

Romantics looked at folk tales as sort of a reflection of the soul of the people.

So there was something distinctly Norwegian in folk tales from Norway.

And there was renewed pride in the literature and art forms of individual countries.

As a result, the first collection of Norwegian folk tales is published in 1852.

And there have been many new editions published since then.

For the people of Norway, these stories are now an important part of what it means to be Norwegian.


Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a biology class.

Professor: Now, James, you said you had been to the State of Maine, right?

Student: Yeah, actually I lived in western Maine until I was about sixteen.

Professor: Great. So why don’t you tell everybody what is like there in the winter?

Student: The winter? Well, it’s cold. And there’s lots of snow, you wouldn’t believe how much snow we used to get.

Professor: Actually I would. I did field research up there a couple of winters.

And it really is an incredible environment. And to survive in that sort of environment,

animals have to adapt, to evolve in response to their surroundings.

As you recall, an adaptation is any feature,

um… physical or behavioral feature of a species that helps it survive and reproduce.

And in adapting to extreme climates, like Maine in the winter time, animals can evolve in pretty interesting ways.

Take, for example, the snowshoe hare.

Ok, the snowshoe hare, and of course, that’s H-A-R-E, like a rabbit.

Although I probably should mention that technically a hare is not exactly the same as a rabbit, even though it is very similar.

The primary difference is that a rabbit’s young are born blind and without fur,

while a hare’s babies are born with a full coat and able to see.

Now, the snowshoe hare, tell me, what sort of adaptations do you think it has developed that help it survive the Maine winters?

I’ll give you a hint. Food isn’t an issue. The hare actually has abundant food in the small twigs it finds.

Student: Well, I don’t know. I mean, I know we used to try to look for these rabbits,

eh… hares, when we went hiking in the winter, but it was often hard to find them in the snow.

Professor: Yes. That’s exactly right. The major concern of the snowshoe hare in the winter is predators.

And now that includes humans. So one of its  daptations is basically camouflage.

In other words, its coat, its fur, turns from brown in the summer to white in the winter,

which makes it harder for the hare’s predators to see it against the white snow.

Student Yeah, but I could swear I remembered seeing rabbits in the snow a couple of times, I means hares, that were brown.

Professor: Well, you may very well have. Timing is really important,

but the snowshoe hare doesn’t always get it exactly right.

Its chances for survival are best if it turns white about the time of the first snowfall.

And it’s the amount of daylight that triggers the changing of the hare’s coat.

As the days get shorter, that is, as the Sun is up for a shorter and shorter time each day,

the snowshoe hare starts growing white fur and shedding its brown fur.

The hare does a pretty good job with its timing, but sometimes when there’s a really early or late snow,

it stands out. Plus, it takes about a month for the snowshoe hare’s coat to completely change color.

So if there’s a particularly early snowfall, it’s very likely that the hare’s fur would not yet be totally white.

And that would make this a particularly dangerous time for the hare. OK. What else? Other adaptations? Susan?

Student: Well, it’s called the snowshoe hare, so are its feet somehow protect it from the cold?

Professor: Well, this animal’s name does have to do with an adaptation of its feet.

Uh… though, not like it has warm furry boots or something to keep its feet from getting cold.

You’ve probably never needed to wear snowshoes.

But, well, snowshoes are not like thick furry shoes designed to keep the feet warm,

they are actually quite thin, but very wide.

What they do is spread out the weight of the foot coming down on the snow.

See, the problem with walking on snow is that you sink in with every step.

But with snowshoes, you don’t sink in; you walk on top of the snow.

It makes walking through the Maine countryside in the winter much easier.

Anyway, the snowshoe hare has an adaptation that plays on the same idea.

It has hind feet that act like snowshoes.

I mean, its paws are wide and they allow the hare to hop and run just at the surface of deep snow.

And this is a huge advantage for the snowshoe hare since by contrast;

the feet of its predators usually sink right down into the snow.

Now, another advantage related to this is that unlike many animals in winter,

snowshoe hares can stay lean and light weight.

They accumulate essentially no body fat. Can anyone guess why this is so?

Student: They don’t eat very much?

Professor: Well, yes. But not because there isn’t enough food around.

It’s because, like I said, food is almost always within reach,

and they don’t have to store up a lot of food energy for the harsh winters.


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