Listening Strategy

Speakers often use intonation to express their opinion or attitude about the statements they make. Pay attention to the speaker’s tone of voice and the intonation they use to find out how they feel about their subject.

1. Read the Listening Strategy. Then listen to the sentences and choose the tone of voice (a or b) each speaker uses.

 Is that letter for me?



 No, that’s not right. Let me show you.



 This is my seat.



 That makes me feel much better.



 That didn’t hurt at all.



 The film’s quite good.

a   unsure

b   enthusiastic

7   He’s never on time.

a   angry

b   patient

8   This party’s brilliant.

a   sarcastic

b   enthusiastic


1 a   2 b   3 b   4 a   5 a   6 a   7 a   8 b


 Is that letter for me?

2   No, that’s not right. Let me show you.

3   This is my seat.

4   That makes me feel much better.

 That didn’t hurt at all.

 The film’s quite good.

7   He’s never on time.

8   This party’s brilliant.

2. Listen again and repeat the sentences, copying the tone of voice.

3. Now try saying the sentences in exercise 1 in the other tone of voice.

4. Listen and repeat the different intonation patterns for statements.

5. Listen to these statements being said in two different ways. Number them 1 and 2 in the order you hear them. Practise saying them.

1   You like this kind of story.

a   certain

b   uncertain

2   This is just what I wanted.

a   certain

b   sarcastic

3   This isn’t quite what I was expecting.

a   qualifying

b   certain

4   He thinks it’s a reasonable price.

a   qualifying

b   uncertain

5   This steak is the best I’ve ever eaten.

a   sarcastic

b   certain

6   That’s really nice of him.

a   uncertain

b   sarcastic


1 a, b   2 b, a   3 a, b   4 b, a   5 b, a   6 a, b

6. Listen to the conversation. Choose the correct answers (a-d).

1   How does Max feel when he starts telling his story?

 Reluctant to tell it.

b   Impatient with interruptions.

 Unsure how the story goes.

d   Worried that it is too scary.

2   What is the story about?

 A ghost

b   A student who is lost.

 What to do in bad weather.

d   The inhabitants of a village in Ireland.

3   What do the people listening think of the story?

 It’s gripping.

b   It’s hilarious throughout.

 It’s annoying.

d   It’s too similar to the first one.

4   What does Caro think of Max’s comment about her?

 She’s really annoyed.

b   She admits that Max’s comment could be right.

 She criticises Max in self-defence.

d   She does not trust his opinion of her.

5   What does Max agree with Jill about?

a   That Caro is easily fooled.

b   That Caro is more good-natured than he is.

c   That Ian’s story is better than his.

d   That Ian should buy the coffees.


1 b   2 d   3 a   4 b   5 b


Max   Right, you lot. I have a horror story of my own for you. It won’t be as good as Ian’s, of course.

Ian   Of course it won’t, Max! But anyway, let’s hear it.

Jill   Fantastic! Is it as scary as the first one?

Caro   Hope not …

Ian   Don’t worry, Caro.

Max   Are you going to listen or what?

Ian   We’re all ears …

Caro   I hope it isn’t true …

Max   Shhh, Caro. Well, this story takes place on a cold, stormy night deep in the Irish countryside. John, a student, was by the side of the road, hitch-hiking. The storm was so strong that he could hardly see anything at all. He was desperate. Suddenly, he saw a car coming towards him very slowly …

Ian   Oh, it’s a bit like my story …

Caro   Oh, dear. I don’t like this story, either.

Max   Shh, Caro! It’s nothing like your story, Ian! Can I continue?

Jill   Please do. I’m listening, at least …

Max   Anyway, John was desperate for shelter so, without thinking about it, he jumped into the car … only to realise that there was nobody behind the wheel … ! Then the car started moving slowly off! The rain was lashing down and the storm was howling. John tried the door handle, but it wouldn’t open! He began to panic …

Jill   Good grief …

Max   The car started to pick up a little speed. Frightened, John peered out of the window and could just make out a bend in the road. He was terrified and thought he was going to die.

Caro   Oh no!

Max   Shh … Then, just before the car hit the trees on the curve, a ghostly hand appeared through the window and turned the wheel. John was frozen with fear.

Ian   Is it a ghost story … ?

Max   The car was gathering speed now down the hill through the furious storm. John clung on in terror … Finally, he could make out a light in the distance. People! Gathering all his strength he pushed the car door open, fell out into the night, and ran for his life towards the lights of the pub on the roadside.

Caro   Phew … Thank goodness for that …

Max   Shhh … Soaking wet and exhausted, John staggered into the pub, dazed and shaking, and started telling the few people there about the terrible experience he’d just had.

Jill   I bet.

Max   Suddenly, the pub doors burst open again …

Caro   Oh no …

Max   Two men came into the room … like John, they were wet to the skin and out of breath … They looked around the room, and spotted John crying in the corner. One man said to the other … All What?

Max   He said, ‘Look, there’s that idiot that got into the car while we were pushing it!’

Ian   Brilliant, Max! That’s hilarious. You had us on the edge of our seats, thinking something horrible was going to happen.

Jill   Yes, very clever!

Caro   Now, I do like that story! What a relief!

Max   Always happy to entertain … Well, there are plenty of funny urban legends as well as the horror ones.

Ian   True. And it was better than my story!

Max   Nah, mate. Anyway, Caro, you make a good listener. You believe anything anybody tells you!

Caro   That’s not fair! Well, actually, you may have a point there, Max. I can’t help it if I’m naturally trusting, can I?

Jill   It just means you’re a very nice person, Caro. Much nicer than Max.

Max   Hey! But Jill’s right. You are nicer than me, Caro. Come on, you lot. I’ll buy you all a coffee.

Ian   Well, that’s unexpectedly nice of you, Max! Let’s go, guys, before he changes his mind!

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