Getting Ready

Are you afraid of any of the things below? Check (✓) your answers and compare them with a partner.





riding roller coasters






small spaces

scuba diving

flying on airplanes

driving on freeways

other: ………………….


your own answers

Listening 1

What is happening in these pictures? Listen and number the pictures.

Answer & Transcript

A 4   B 3   C 1   D 6   E 5   F 2



A:   Are you sure you don’t want me to drive? Look at the traffic!

B:   Hey, don’t worry. I’m fine. Whoops!

A:   Careful. Not so fast.

B:   Don’t worry. I’m fine. Now what’s this thing again?

A:   The brake! I said. “Brake!”

B:   Oh, yeah.


A:   I think there’s someone in the house.

B:   Are you sure?

A:   Yes, the lights were off when we left.

B:   That’s funny. Oh, I’m sure it’s okay.

A:   Be careful.


A:   Look – over there in the garden.

B:   Where?

A:   There. Oh, do something quick. Oh, I’m so frightened of those things.

B:   It’s okay. I’ve got it. Are you really frightened of this? It’s the garden hose.


A:   Quick! Look in the kitchen.

B:   Where?

A:   There, behind the door. Oh, I hate those things. Can you do something?

B:   It’s just a little mouse. Nothing to be afraid of.

A:   Oh, I can’t stand mice. Do something!

B:   Go get it, Fluffy.


A:   I’m sure I saw a big, black spider under the bed.

B:   A spider? Are you sure? Let me check.

A:   Did you get it?

B:   Ah, yes here it is. The missing button from my coat. I’ve been looking for it for days.


A:   Listen. I can hear someone downstairs.

B:   Are you sure?

A:   Yes, listen to that noise.

B:   Let me check.

A:   Be careful!

B:   Don’t worry. Everything is all right. We forgot to turn off the TV.

Listening 2

Task 1

People are describing fears. Has each speaker’s fear decreased over the years? Listen and check (✓) the correct answer.

1   yes


2   yes


3   yes


4   yes


5   yes


6   yes



1 yes   2 no   3 yes   4 yes   5 no   6 yes

Task 2

Listen again. Circle the correct statement.

1   a   She loved going to the zoo when she was a kid.

     b   She was given a kitten for her birthday.

2   a   A snake tried to bite her while she was hiking.

     b   A snake bit her at the zoo.

3   a   His friend hated spiders.

     b   He studied spiders in college.

4   a   He learned how to swim.

     b   He went to the beach often when he was a kid.

5   a   His friend was in a car accident.

     b   He was in a car accident.

6   a   She learned to fly a plane.

     b   An airplane engineer explained how planes stay in the air.

Answer & Transcript

1 b   2 a   3 b   4 a   5 6 b



I was so afraid of animals when I was younger – all kinds of animals – cats, horses, you name it. I didn’t like the way they felt when I touched them, and I was sure they were going to bite me. I even hated going to the zoo. That all changed when I turned 13, and my mom gave me a kitten for my birthday. He was so cute and friendly that I realized an animal can really be your best friend.


I was afraid of snakes when I was a kid. I remember going to the zoo and seeing them there, and I thought they were kind of cute. But once, when I was out hiking, I nearly stepped on one, and it tried to bite me. It was really ugly and I’m sure it was poisonous. Since then, I’ve been pretty terrified of them. I could never touch one now!


Some people hate spiders. They think they’re really creepy. I guess I felt like that when I was a kid. I used to scream if I saw a spider, on the wall. My friend had a pet spider and I couldn’t go near it. Then when I went to college, we had a spider collection in our biology lab. When we studied them, I decided they were interesting and intelligent, too. I kind of like them now.


I was always afraid of the water as a kid. I would never go into the pool or swim at the beach. I was sure I would drown. Then I took swimming lessons in high school. Once I learned how to swim, I felt different. Now I love the water and especially the beach. I feel totally safe because now I know how to take care of myself in the water.


I don’t really like driving on the freeway. I guess it’s because the traffic moves so fast. I didn’t use to be so nervous. I used to travel all over using the freeways. But one day, I was in a car accident and I lost all my confidence. So nowadays, I only use the freeway when it’s really necessary.


The first time I got on an airplane, I was terrified. I just couldn’t understand how a big, heavy thing like a plane could stay up in the air. After we were in the air for a while, I spoke to the man next to me. He was an airplane engineer and explained how airplanes stay in the air. That really helped because I understand how planes work. I was still a little nervous on the next few flights, but now I really love flying.

Listening 3

Task 1

People are talking about their fears. Is each statement true or false? Listen and check (✓) the correct answer.




1   a   He has never had bad experiences in elevators.

     b   He doesn’t like the feeling of not being able to get out.

2   a   She is afraid of waves.

     b   She likes pools because there are lots of people around.

3   a   She is afraid of cats.

     b   She has been chased by birds.

4   a   He doesn’t mind looking out of windows on high floors.

     b   He doesn’t like flying.


1 False, True     2 True, False

3 False, True     4 False, True

Task 2

Listen again. What problem does the fear cause for each person? Circle the correct answer.

1   a   He can never use elevators.

     b   He hates using stairs.

     c   He has to use the elevator with someone else.

2   a   She can’t swim in a pool

     b   She can’t swim in the ocean.

     c   She can’t be in crowds.

3   a   She can’t visit her friend with a bird.

     b   She can’t visit her friend with a cat.

     c   She can’t visit the beach with her friends.

4   a   He can’t work in a tall building.

     b   He never travels.

     c   He can’t do some fun things with his kids.

Answer & Transcript

1 c   2 b   3 c   4 c



When I was a kid, I got stuck in an elevator when the electricity went out, and since then, I’ve always been afraid of elevators. I was all alone, and there was no way to get out of the elevator. I hated that feeling. Now I almost never use elevators. I take the stairs instead. If I have to take an elevator – for example, if I’m in a really tall building – I make sure there’s someone else in the elevator with me. The only problem is, sometimes I have to wait a long time until another person comes along.


I don’t like swimming in the ocean because the waves are so dangerous. They always knock me over. I also hate the way that seaweed touches me when I swim in the ocean. I always think it’s some animal that’s going to bite me – you know, like a shark or a jellyfish. That’s why I only swim in the swimming pool. The only problem is that the pool in my neighborhood is always crowded.


Birds are the only animals I’m really afraid of. But not all birds. Just seagulls, like at the beach. I don’t mind most little birds because they leave you alone. But seagulls? That’s a different story. I’m sure it’s because of the time a bunch of seagulls chased me when I was a kid. They didn’t hurt me, but I’ve been really scared of them ever since. That’s a real problem, because a lot of my friends enjoy going to the beach, but I stay home to avoid the birds.


I don’t know why, but I’m really afraid of heights. I work in a tall building, and I can’t even stand to look out my office window. Right away, I get this feeling like I’m suddenly going to fall. I’m really afraid. Of course, airplanes are the worst. I’m really nervous when I have to fly. The biggest problem is that there are some fun things I can’t do with my kids. The other weekend, I took them to an amusement park. They were excited about going on the roller coasters, but I was too afraid to take them. My kids were really disappointed. I felt terrible about letting them down.

Conversation Corner: Describing fears

Task 1

Listen to the conversation. Write the missing words.

A:   Are you afraid of anything?

B:   Yes. I’m afraid of elevators. Once, when I was a kid, I got stuck in ……………. ……………. .

A:   So what do you do when you have to take an elevator?

B:   I try to ……………. ……………. …………….! How about you?

A:   I was afraid of insects when I was a kid.

B:   How did you stop being ……………. ……………. insects?

A:   When I was in college, I studied insects in a ……………. ……………. . Now, I’m not afraid at all. In fact, I think ……………. ……………. …………….!

Task 2

Practice the conversation with a partner. Be sure to stress the correct words and syllables.

Answer & Transcript

A:   Are you afraid of anything?

B:   Yes. I’m afraid of elevators. Once, when I was a kid, I got stuck in an elevator.

A:   So what do you do when you have to take an elevator?

B:   I try to take the stairs! How about you?

A:   I was afraid of insects when I was a kid.

B:   How did you stop being afraid of insects?

A:   When I was in college, I studied insects in a biology class. Now, I’m not afraid at all. In fact, I think insects are fascinating!

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