Exercise 1   

These conversations are about famous people. Listen and circle each famous person’s job.

1.  a.  political leader

     b.  actress

2.  a.  political leader

     b.  actor

3.  a.  actor

     b.  writer

4.  a.  painter

     b.  athlete

5.  a.  actor

     b.  singer

6.  a.  singer

     b.  scientist

Answer & Transcript


A:   Hey, Lisa, are you free Thursday night? Some friends and I are going to see the new Halle Berry movie.

B:   Oh, I didn’t know she had a new one. She’s so beautiful. Didn’t she win a bunch of beauty pageants when she was younger?

A:   Yeah, she did. And she’s so talented, too. She’s the first African American woman to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.

B:   Yeah! That was really exciting.


A:   Tony! How’s it going?

B:   Not bad. I’ve been reading about Gandhi.

A:   Oh, yeah? He helped India become independent, right?

B:   Right. It’s interesting stuff. He inspired so many people. But did you know he started out as a lawyer?

A:   No, I had no idea. So when did he become such an important leader in India?

B:   Not until he was in his 40s.

A:   That’s amazing.


A:   You look tired today, Nick.

B:   I know. I was up all night reading the new Stephen King novel.

A:   He’s the one who writes those horror stories, right?

B:   That’s right.

A:   And haven’t they made a lot of his books into movies?

B:   Yeah, like Carrie and The Shining. They’re really good, and the books are even better. And really scary, too. This new book is giving me nightmares!


A:   How’s it going, Amy?

B:   All right. I’m writing a research paper on Leonardo da Vinci, so I’ve been spending a lot of time in the library.

A:   Oh, yeah, I know him. Isn’t he that guy who painted the Mona Lisa?

B:   Right. He also did a lot of other great paintings. And he was a scientist and an inventor, too!


A:   Hey, Josh! Is that a Bob Marley poster?

B:   Yeah. Do you like his music?

A:   I sure do. He made reggae music famous all over the world. I love that song of his called “No Woman No Cry.” Have you heard that one?

B:   Yeah. I’ve got a great version of it on this concert video. Do you want to watch it some time?


A:   Hey, Jen, do you know where Albert Einstein was from? I need it for this crossword puzzle I’m doing.

B:   Well, he’s from Germany, originally. That’s where he discovered the Theory of Relativity. It completely changed the study of physics.

A:   Yeah, I know. I just thought he was American.

B:   No, but he lived in the United States for a long time. He taught science at Princeton University.

Exercise 2

Task 1

People are discussing the life of the actor James Dean. Did these events in Dean’s life happen in Indiana, California, or New York? Listen and check the correct answer.

  Indiana California New York

1.  He was born.

2.  His mother passed away.

3.  He lived with his aunt and uncle.

4.  He went to college.

5.  He did more stage acting.

6.  He died in a car crash.

Task 2

Listen again. How did James Bean become famous? Number the events from 1 to 6.

He won an award as “Most Promising Newcomer.” ….

He had a starring role in East of Eden. ….

He acted in school plays. ….

He went to college. ….

Rebel Without a Cause made him famous. ….

He did modeling for advertisements. ….

Answer & Transcript

A:   Good evening and welcome to tonight’s edition of Legendary Lives. Our subject this evening is James Dean, actor and hero for the young people of his time. Edward Murray is the author of a new biography of Dean. Good evening, Edward.

B:   Hello, Tina.

A:   Edward, tell us what you know about Dean’s early life.

B:   He was born in Indiana in 1931, but his parents moved to California when he was live. He wasn’t there long, though, because his mother passed away just four years later. Jimmy’s father sent him back to Indiana after that to live with his aunt and uncle. He was pretty active there. He played baseball and basketball, rode horses, and played ice hockey. He used to ride his motorcycle all over the farmers’ fields, speeding and chasing cows.

A:   So, how did he get into acting?

B:   Well, first, he acted in school plays at his high school, where he won a drama award. He also won art and sports awards in high school, and a speech contest, too. He went to college in California and that’s when he got seriously into acting. He did modeling for advertisements and appeared in some TV shows. In 1951, he moved to New York to do more stage acting. In fact, he won an award as “Most Promising Newcomer” for 1954.

A:   Well, when did the movie career really start, then?

B:   1955. His first starring role was in East of Eden. It was fabulous. James Dean became a huge success. But the movie that really made him famous was his second one, Rebel Without a Cause. That was about teenagers who felt like they didn’t fit into society.

A:   So, how many more movies did he make?

B:   Just one more. Then he died in that car crash in California, in 1955. He loved driving fast. In fact, he was driving his Porsche on his way to take part in a car race when he died.

A:   What a tragedy. He only made three movies, so what made him the legend he still is today?

B:   Well, I guess his looks, his acting ability, his short life and maybe the type of character he played in his movies. Many young people saw him as a symbol of American youth.

Exercise 3

Task 1

This person is talking about the life of the South African leader Nelson Mandela. When did these events happen? Listen and write the years.

1.  He was born. ….

2.  He joined the ANC. ….

3.  He became deputy president of the ANC. ….

4.  He was sentenced to life in prison. ….

5.  He was released from prison. ….

6.  He became State President. ….

7.  He retired. ….

Task 2

Listen again. Are these statements true or false? Check the correct answer.

  True False
1.  Mandela’s father was an assistant to a chief.
2.  Mandela studied law.
3.  The ANC encouraged people to be violent.
4.  Mandela helped poor people stay on the land where they lived.
5.  Even while he was in prison, he inspired people.
6.  As soon as he was released from prison, he retired.

Answer & Transcript

Nelson Mandela, the first African president to South Africa, was born in 1918. Both his elementary and high school education took place at schools run by a church. His father was an assistant to an important African chief, and as a young boy, Nelson often helped his father. While he listened to people telling the chief about their problems, Mandela decided he wanted to become a lawyer so that he could help his people with their struggle for freedom.

After high school, he studied for a bachelor’s degree in law. In 1942, he started his political life by joining an organization called the ANC. “ANC” stands for African National Congress. Over the next few years, he and other members of the organization worked hard, and the ANC became a powerful national movement. It fought against the laws of the South African government, because these laws made life difficult for black people. Even though most of the country’s population was black, the people who ran the government and had all of the power were white. The ANC encouraged people to resist the government in a peaceful and non-violent way.

Mandela became deputy president of the ANC in 1952. He was now an important leader of black South Africans. As a lawyer, he helped poor people stay on the land where they lived, instead of being forced to move to areas where the government wanted them to live. He also fought against laws that said that black and white people could not live in the same areas or go to the same schools.

During the early 1960s, the government began watching Mandela carefully, and he was soon arrested. He was sentenced to life in prison in 1964. He was not released from prison until 1990. Even while he was in prison, he inspired people in his own country and others all over the world.

After he was released, Mandela continued to try to achieve the goals he had set almost forty years earlier. In 1994, he became the first democratically elected State President of South Africa. He remained president until he retired in 1999. Today, the world remembers him as South Africa’s best known and best loved hero.

Exercise 4

Listen to a report on the Latina writer Sandra Cisneros. How did she become famous? Number the sentences.

a.   She published her first collection of poetry.   …….

b.   She took her first creative writing class.   …….

c.   She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship.   …….

d.   She was born in Chicago.   …….

e.   She published her first novel.   …….

Answer & Transcript

a 3   b 2   c 5   d 1   e 4


Sandra Cisneros was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1954. Her father was Mexican, and her mother was Mexican American. She had six brothers and the family was very poor.

She attended Loyola University in Chicago and took her first creative writing class there in 1974. After graduating from college in 1976, she attended the writing program at the University of Iowa.

In 1980, she published her first collection of poetry, Bad Boys. And in 1984, she published her first novel, The House on Mango Street. This book made her famous, and many more books followed. In 1995, she won a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, often called the “genius grant.” She had come a long way.

Exercise 5

People are talking about the anthropologist Mary Leakey. When did these events happen? Listen and write the years.

1. She was born.   …….…….

2. She married the archeologist Louis Leakey.   …….…….

3. She made her first important discovery.   …….…….

4. She left her husband.   …….…….

5. She discovered the footprints of ancient humans.   …….…….

Answer & Transcript

1   1913     2   1936     3   1948     4   1968     5   1978


A:   I’ve been researching Mary Leakey for a school project.

B:   Mary Leakey? Who’s that?

A:   She was a famous anthropologist who made important discoveries about the very first people. She was born in 1913 and had a pretty ordinary life, until she married the archeologist, Louis Leakey, in 1936.

B:   How did that change her life?

A:   She began working with him in Africa, searching for evidence of the earliest humans. In 1948, on an island in Lake Victoria, she made her first important discovery. She uncovered a bone from an apelike creature that lived 25 million years ago. But over the next 10 years she had conflicts with her husband.

B:   What did they fight about?

A:   It seemed like Louis always wanted all the attention. He loved being famous, but Mary just loved doing the work. In 1968 she left Louis, and she started her own research in Tanzania. Several years later, in 1978, Mary made a discovery that captured the world’s attention.

B:   What was that?

A:   She discovered footprints that were 3.75 million years old. They’d been made by three early members of the human family. She became very famous-more famous than her husband.

B:   Wow. Is she still alive today?

A:   No. She died in 1996.

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