Transcript | TOEFL listening practice test 2018 | Test 4

Transcript | TOEFL listening practice test 2018 | Test 4


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

Librarian: Can I help you?

Student: Yeah, I need to find a review. It’s for my English class. We have to find reviews of the play we are reading. But they have to be from when the play was first performed,

so I need to know when that was and I suppose I should start with newspaper reviews and…

Librarian: Contemporary reviews.

Student: Sorry?

Librarian: You want contemporary reviews. What’s the name of the play?

Student: It’s Happy Strangers. It was written in 1962 and we are supposed to write about its influence on American theatre and show why it’s been so important.

Librarian: Well, that certainly explains why your professor wants you to read some of those old reviews. The critiques really tore the play to pieces when it opened.

It’s so controversial. Nobody had ever seen anything like it on the stage.

Student: Really? Is that a big deal?

Librarian: Oh, sure. Of course the critiques’ reaction made some people kind of curious about it. They wanted to see what’s causing all the fuss. In fact, we were on vacation in New York.

Oh, I had to be, eh, around 16 or so, and my parents took me to see it. That would’ve been about 1965.

Student: So that was the year premier, great, but eh, newspaper from back then weren’t online, so, how do I…

Librarian: Well, we have copies of all the newspapers in the basement, and all the major papers publish reference guides to their articles reviews, etc.

You will find them in the reference stacks in the back. But I start with 1964, so I think the play had been running for a little while when I saw it.

Student: How do you like it? I mean just two characters on the stage hanging around and basically doing nothing.

Librarian: Well, I was impressed. The actors were famous, and besides it was my first time in a real theatre. But you are right.

It was definitely different from many plays that we read in high school. Of course, in a small town the assignments are pretty traditional.

Student: Yeah, I’ve only read it but it doesn’t seem like it would be much fun to watch. The story doesn’t progress in any sort of logical matter, doesn’t have real ending either, just stops.

Honestly, you know, I thought it was kind of slow and boring.

Librarian: Oh, well I guess you might think that. But when I saw it back then it was anything but boring. Some parts were really funny, but I remember crying too.

But I’m not sure just reading it. You know, they’ve done this play at least once on campus. I’m sure there is a tape of the play in our video library. You might want to borrow it.

Student: That’s a good idea. I’ll have a better idea of what I really think of it before I read those reviews.

Librarian: I’m sure you will be surprised that anyone ever found it radical. But you will see why it is still powerful, dramatically speaking.

Student: Yeah, it must be something about it, or the professor wouldn’t have assigned it. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.


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

Professor: Hey, Jane, you look like you are in a hurry.

Student: Yeah, things are a little crazy.

Professor: Oh yeah? What’s going on?

Student: Oh, it’s nothing. Well, since it’s your class, I guess it’s OK. It’s, it’s just I am having trouble with my group project.

Professor: Ah, yes, due next week. What’s your group doing again?

Student: It’s about United States Supreme Court Decisions. We are looking at the impact of recent cases on property rights, municipal land use cases, owning disputes.

Professor: Right, OK. And it’s not going well?

Student: Not really. I’m worried about other two people in my group. They are just sitting back, not really doing their fair share of the work and waiting for an A.

It’s kind of stressing me out, because we are getting close to the deadline and I feel like I’m doing everything for this project.

Professor: Ah, the good old free writer problem.

Student: Free writer?

Professor: Ah, it’s just a term that describes this situation, when people in the group seek to get the benefits of being in a group without contributing to the work.

Anyway, what exactly do you mean when you say they just sit back? I mean, they’ve been following the weekly progress repots with me.

Student: Yes, but I feel like I’m doing 90% of the work. I hate to sound so negative here, but honestly, they are taking credit for things they shouldn’t take credit for.

Like last week in the library, we decided to split up the research into 3 parts and each of us was supposed to find sources in the library for our parts.

I went off to the stack and found some really good material for my part, but when I got back to our table, they were just goofing off and talking.

So I went and got materials for their sections as well.

Professor: Um…you know you shouldn’t do that.

Student: I know, but I didn’t want to risk the project going down the drain.

Professor: I know Teresa and Kevin. I had both of them on other courses. So, I’m familiar with the work and work habits.

Student: I know, me too. That’s why this has really surprised me.

Professor: Do you…does your group like your topic?

Student: Well, I think we’d all rather focus on cases that deal with personal liberties, questions about freedom of speech, things like that. But I chose property rights.

Professor: You chose the topic?

Student: Yeah, I thought it would be good for us, all of us to try something new.

Professor: Um…maybe that’s part of the problem.

Maybe Teresa and Kevin aren’t that excited about the topic? And since you picked it, have you thought…talk to them at all about picking a different topic?

Student: But we’ve got all the sources and it’s due next week. We don’t have time to start from scratch.

Professor: OK, I will let you go ’cause I know you are so busy. But you might consider talking to your group about your topic choice.

Student: I will think about it. Got to run, see you in class.



Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a biology class. The class is discussing animal behavior.

Professor: Ok, the next kind of animal behavior I want to talk about might be familiar to you. You may have seen, for example, a bird that’s in the middle of a mating ritual,

and suddenly it stops and preens, you know, takes a few moments to straighten its feathers, and then returns to the mating ritual. This kind of behavior,

this doing something that seems completely out of place, is what we call a ‘Displacement Activity’.

Displacement activities are activities that animal’s engaging in when they have conflicting drives.

If we take our example from a minute ago, if the bird is afraid of its mate, it’s conflicted. It wants to mate but it’s also afraid and wants to run away.

So, instead, it starts grooming itself. So, the displacement activity, the grooming, the straightening of its feathers, seems to be an irrelevant behavior.

So, what do you think another example of a displacement activity might be?

Karl: How about an animal that, um, instead of fighting its enemy or running away, it attacks a plant or a bush?

Professor: That’s really good suggestion, Karl. But that’s called ‘redirecting’. The animal is redirecting its behavior to another object, in this case, the plant or the bush.

But that’s not an irrelevant or inappropriate behavior. The behavior makes sense. It’s appropriate under the circumstances.

But what doesn’t make sense is the object the behavior’s directed towards. Ok, who else? Carol?

Carol: I think I read in another class about an experiment where an object that the animal was afraid of was put next to its food – next to the animal’s food.

And the animal, it was conflicted between confronting the object and eating the food, so instead, it just fell asleep. Like that?

Professor: That’s exactly what I mean. Displacement occurs because the animal’s got two conflicting drives – two competing urges, in this case, fear and hunger.

And what happens is, they inhibit each other, they cancel each other out in a way, and a third seemingly irrelevant behavior surfaces through a process that we call ‘Disinhibition’.

Now in disinhibition, the basic idea is that two drives that seem to inhibit, to hold back, a third drive.

Or, well, they’re getting in a way of each in a… in a conflict situation and somehow lose control, lose their inhibiting effect on that third behavior,

which means that the third drive surfaces, it’s expressed in the animal’s behavior. Now, these displacement activities can include feeding, drinking, grooming, even sleeping.

These are what we call ‘Comfort Behavior’. So why do you think displacement activities are so often comfort behaviors, such as grooming?

Karl: Maybe because it’s easy for them to do? I mean, grooming is like one of the most accessible things an animal can do. It’s something they do all the time,

and they have the stimulus right there on the outside of their bodies in order to do the grooming, or if food is right in front of them. Basically,

they don’t have to think very much about those behaviors.

Carol:Professor, isn’t it possible that animals groom because they’ve got messed up a little from fighting or mating?

I mean if a bird’s feathers get ruffled or an animal’s fur, maybe it’s not so strange for them to stop and tidy themselves up at that point.

Professor: That’s another possible reason although it doesn’t necessarily explain other behaviors such as eating, drinking or sleeping.

What’s interesting is that studies have been done that suggest that the animal’s environment may play a part in determining what kind of behavior it displays.

For example, there’s a  bird, the ‘wood thrush’, anyway, when the ‘wood thrush’ is in an attack-escape conflict,

that is, it’s caught between the two urges to escape from or to attack an enemy, if it’s sitting on a horizontal branch, it’ll wipe its beak on its perch.

If it’s sitting on a vertical branch, it’ll groom its breast feathers. The immediate environment of the bird, its immediate, um,

its relationship to its immediate environment seems to play a part in which behavior will display.



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

Professor: All right, so let me close today’s class with some thoughts to keep in mind while you are doing tonight’s assignment.

You will be reading one of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s best-known essays ‘Self-Reliance’ and comparing it with his poems and other works.

I think this essay has the potential to be quite meaningful for all of you as young people

who probably wonder about things like truth and where your lives are going – all sorts of profound questions.

Knowing something about Emerson’s philosophies will help you when you read ‘Self-Reliance’. And basically, one of the main beliefs that he had was about truth.

Not that it’s something that we can be taught, Emerson says it’s found within ourselves.

So this truth, the idea that it’s in each one of us, is one of the first points that you’ll see Emerson making in this essay.

It’s a bit abstract but he’s very into…ah… into each person believing his or her own thought, believing in yourself, the thought or conviction that’s true for you.

But actually, he ties that in with a sort of ‘universal truth’ – something that everyone knows but doesn’t realize they know.

Most of us aren’t in touch with ourselves in a way, so we just aren’t capable of recognizing profound truth.

It takes geniuses, people like, say, Shakespeare, who’re unique because when they have a glimpse at this truth,

this universal truth, they pay attention to it and express it and don’t just dismiss it like most people do.

So Emerson is really into each individual believing in and trusting him or herself. You’ll see that he writes about, well, first, conformity.

He criticizes that people of his time for abandoning their own minds and their own wills for the sake of conformity and consistency.

They try to fit in with the rest of the world even though it’s at odds with their beliefs and their identities.

Therefore, it’s best to be a non-conformist – to do your own thing, not worrying about what other people think. That’s an important point.

He really drives this argument home throughout the essay. When you are reading, I want you to think about that and why that kind of thought would be relevant to the readers of his time.

Remember this is 1838, ‘Self-Reliance’ was a novel idea at the time and the United State’s citizens were less secure about themselves as individuals and as Americans.

The country as a whole was trying to define itself. Emerson wanted to give people something to really think about, help them find their own way and what it meant to be who they were.

So that’s something that I think is definitely as relevant today as it was then, probably, um, especially among young adults like yourselves, you know,

uh, college being a time to sort of really think about who you are and where you’re going. Now we already said that Emerson really emphasizes non-conformity, right,

as a way to sort of not lose your own self and identity in the world, to have your own truth and not be afraid to listen to it. Well, he takes this a step further.

Not conforming also means, uh, not conforming with yourself or your past. What does that mean? Well, if you’ve always been a certain way or done a certain thing,

but it’s not working for you any more, or you’re not content, Emerson says that it’d be foolish to be consistent even with our own past.

‘Focus on the future,’ he says, “That’s what matters more. Inconsistency is good.”

He talks about a ship’s voyage and this is one of the most famous bits of the essay – how the best voyage is made up of zigzag lines.

Up close, it seems a little all over the place, but from farther away, the true path shows and in the end it justifies all the turns along the way.

So, don’t worry if you are not sure where you’re headed or what your long-term goals are. Stay true to yourself and it’ll make sense in the end. I mean, I can attest to that.

Before I was a literature professor, I was an accountant. Before that, I was a newspaper reporter.

My life is taking some pretty interesting turns and here I am, very happy with my experiences and where they’ve brought me.

If you rely on yourself and trust your own talents, your own interest, don’t worry, your path will make sense in the end.


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

Professor: Now we’ve got a few minutes before we leave for today. So I’ll just touch on an interesting subject that I think makes an important point.

We’ve been covering rocks and different types of rocks for the last several weeks. But next week we are going to do something a bit different.

And to get started I thought I’d mention something that shows how uh…as a geologist,

you need to know about more than just rocks and the structure of solid matter, moving rocks, you may have heard about them. It’s quite a mystery.

Death valley is this desert plane, a dry lake bed in California surrounded by mountains and on the desert floor these huge rocks, some of them hundreds of pounds.

And they move. They leave long trails behind them, tracks you might say as they move from one point to another.

But nobody has been able to figure out how they are moving because no one has ever seen it happen.

Now there are a lot of theories, but all we know for sure is that people aren’t’ moving the rocks.

There are no footprints, no tyre tracks and no heavy machinery like a bulldozer…uh, nothing was ever brought in to move these heavy rocks.

So what’s going on? Theory NO.1 —Wind? Some researchers think powerful uh…windstorms might move the rocks.

Most of the rocks move in the same direction as the dominant wind pattern from southwest to northeast. But some, and this is interesting,

move straight west while some zigzag or even move in large circles. Um…How can that be? How about wind combined with rain? The ground of this desert is made of clay.

It’s a desert, so it’s dry. But when there is the occasional rain, the clay ground becomes extremely slippery. It’s hard for anyone to stand on, walk on.

Some scientists theorized that perhaps when the ground is slippery the high winds can then move the rocks. There’s a problem with this theory.

One team of scientists flooded an area of the desert with water, then try to establish how much wind force would be necessary to move the rocks.

And guess this, you need winds of at least five hundred miles an hour to move just the smallest rocks. And winds that strong have never been recorded.

Ever! Not on this planet. So I think it’s safe to say that that issues has been settled. Here is another possibility – ice.

It’s possible that rain on the desert floor could turn to thin sheets of ice when temperatures drop at night. So if rocks…uh becoming better than ice,

uh … OK, could a piece of ice with rocks in it be pushed around by the wind? But there’s a problem with this theory, too.

Rocks trapped in ice together would have moved together when the ice moved. But that doesn’t always happen. The rocks seem to take separate routes.

There are a few other theories. Maybe the ground vibrates, or maybe the ground itself is shifting, tilting. Maybe the rocks are moved by a magnetic force.

But sadly all these ideas have been eliminated as possibilities. There’s just no evidence. I bet you are saying to yourself well,

why don’t scientists just set up video cameras to record what actually happens? Thing is this is a protective wilderness area.

So by law that type of research isn’t allowed. Besides, in powerful windstorms, sensitive camera equipment would be destroyed.

So why can’t researchers just live there for a while until they observe the rocks’ moving? Same reason. So where are we now? Well, right now we still don’t have any answers.

So all this leads back to my main point – you need to know about more than just rocks as geologists.

The researchers studying moving rocks, well, they combine their knowledge of rocks with knowledge of wind, ice and such…um

not successfully, not yet. But you know, they would even have been able to get started without uh… earth science understanding –

knowledge about wind, storms, you know, meteorology. You need to understand physics.

So for several weeks like I said we’ll be addressing geology from a wider prospective.

I guess that’s all for today. See you next time.


Narrator: Listen to part of a lecture in a United States government class.

Professor: OK, last time we were talking about government support for the arts. Who can Sum up some of the main points? Frank?

Frank: Well, I guess there wasn’t really any, you know, official government support for the arts until the twentieth century.

But the first attempt the United States government made to, you know, to support the arts was the Federal Art Project.

Professor: Right, so what can you say about the project?

Frank: Um…it was started during the Depression, um…in the 1930s to employ out-of-work artists.

Professor: So was it successful? Janet? What do you say?

Janet: Yeah, sure, it was successful. I mean, for one thing, the project established a lot of…uh like community art centers and galleries and places like rural areas where people hadn’t really had access to the arts.

Professor: Right.

Frank: Yeah. But didn’t the government end up wasting a lot of money for art that wasn’t even very good?

Professor : Uh…some people might say that. But wasn’t the primary objective of the Federal Art Project to provide jobs?

Frank: That’s true. I mean…it did provide jobs for thousands of unemployed artists.

Professor: Right. But then when the United States became involved in the Second World War, unemployment was down and it seems that these programs weren’t really necessary any longer.

So, moving on, we don’t actually see any govern…well any real government involvement in the arts again until the early 1960s, when President Kennedy and other politicians started to push for major funding to support and promote the arts.

It was felt by a number of politicians that …well that the government had a responsibility to support the arts as sort of… oh, what can we say?…the the soul…or spirit of the country.

The idea was that there be a federal subsidy…um…uh…financial assistance to artists and artistic or cultural institutions. And for just those reasons, in 1965, the National Endowment for the Arts was created.

So it was through the NEA, the National Endowment for the Arts, um…that the arts would develop, would be promoted throughout the nation.

And then individual states throughout the country started to establish their own state arts councils to help support the arts. There was kind of uh…cultural explosion.

And by the mid 1970s, by 1974 I think, all fifty states had their own arts agencies, their own state arts councils that work with the federal government with corporations, artists, performers, you name it.

Frank: Did you just say corporations? How are they involved?

Professor: Well, you see, corporations aren’t always altruistic. They might not support the arts unless…well, unless the government made it attractive for them to do so,

by offering corporations tax incentives to support the arts, that is, by letting corporations pay less in taxes if they were patrons of the arts.

Um, the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C. , you may uh…maybe you’ve been there, or Lincoln Centre in New York.

Both of these were built with substantial financial support from corporations. And the Kennedy and Lincoln centres aren’t the only examples.

Many of your cultural establishments in the United States will have a plaque somewhere acknowledging the support – the money they received from whatever corporation.

Oh, yes, Janet?

Janet: But aren’t there a lot of people who don’t think it’s the government’s role to support the arts?

Professor: Well, as a matter of fact, a lot of politicians who did not believe in government support for the arts, they wanted to do away with the agency entirely,  for that very reason, to get rid of governmental support.

But they only succeeded in taking away about half the annual budget. And as far as the public goes, well…there are about as many individuals who disagree with the government support as there are those who agree.

In fact, with artists in particular, you have lots of artists who support and who have benefited from this agency, although it seems that just as many artists suppose a government agency being involved in the arts,

for many different reasons, reasons like they don’t want the government to control what they create.

In other words, the arguments both for and against government funding of the arts are as many and, and as varied as the individual styles of the artists who hold them.




One thought on “Transcript | TOEFL listening practice test 2018 | Test 4

  1. Thank you so much Daniel, these listening TOEFL materials are really helpful. I wish I will get the same in all other sections, especially reading and writing. Thank you .

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