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Small Talk, Big Talk

In this lesson we’re looking at some subjects of conversation in English.

We’re going to look at a texts and audio about modern wonders in this lesson, and study some new vocabulary.

Have fun with the lesson, and don’t forget to try the quizzes.

– James.

Lesson Contents

Text: Modern wonders of the world

Let’s look at a few short texts about modern wonders. Read through them, and look up any words that you don’t understand.

The Internet

It’s connected to almost everything in our lives. We use it to work, play, read, do research. It is so accessible that there’s even a little box in our pocket that gives us unlimited access to it. The internet is now used by over 50% of the planet, that’s about 4 billion people with access to nearly 2 billion websites! Now with speech recognition and fibre optic cables, the internet is becoming faster, and easier to use.

Space Exploration

The Russians were the first into space, the Americans the first to the Moon. Since then there have been probes sent to Mars, Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, and even to the Sun. But what is the next step? Well, scientists from over twenty countries are preparing to actually colonise other planets. Perhaps your grandchildren will one day have holiday homes on the Red Planet!

Smart Homes

Technology in the home has advanced greatly over the last thirty years. Now it is possible to actually talk to your house! Personal assistants like Siri or Alexa are now able to communicate with your home’s lights, heating, doors and thousands of other appliances! So when you come home loaded with shopping bags, simply tell the door to open, command the lights to switch on, and order your coffee machine to make a relaxing cappuccino. 

Environmentally Friendly Travel

The aeroplane is the most poplar means of international travel right now. In fact, over three billion passengers enjoy air travel every year. However, more flights means more pollution, and we are always looking for a more environmental way to travel. Ideas like magnetic trains, or depressurised tunnels are currently being researched, and with the current energy crisis, it looks like we will have no choice but to change our travel habits. 

Socialised Medicine

The average life expectancy has increased suddenly over the last fifty years, and this is party thanks to more accessible healthcare. In fact, the countries that have social medicine have the best averages. European countries are at the top of the list, with Italy having an average life expectancy of eighty-four! If quality of life is a good way to measure happiness, then social medicine is probably the greatest human achievement in history.

Modern Agriculture

Thomas Jefferson once said “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will lead to real wealth, good morals and happiness”, and it is true that many scientists have made it their priority to combat hunger. In Western countries, we are able to feed the entire population thanks to mechanisation and genetic research. Compare that to only three hundred years ago, when entire villages in Europe were dying of hunger.

Now philanthropists are exporting these techniques and technologies to poorer countries. In fact, world hunger has dropped from 15% in 2000 to 10% in 2015.

World Peace

The last wonder of the modern world is peace. There were fewer wars in the 20th century than any other century in recorded history. The number of nuclear weapons worldwide has dropped from 65,000 in 1985, to 10,000 in 2014. It is true that that the world is becoming a more peaceful place. Some people don’t realise that only 100 years ago, war was a part of life. Nowadays the majority of Earth’s population will never have to touch a weapon.

Have a quick look at the texts again, and select a suitible heading.

Have a look at the numbers below and decide what the refer to.

Audio: Modern wonders of the world

Listen to the conversation between Brian and Jennifer about their ideas about modern wonders.

Organise the vocabulary into the categories, use the dictionary link if you need to look some words up.

All Quizzes