English Listening Exercises for B1 – Poetry in motion

1. Complete the sentences with the words and phrases below.

apathetic      era      foolish       lethargic      the norm

peers      quick fix      straight

1) She was feeling ________, so she spent the afternoon watching DVDs.

2) She loves classical music, though most of her ________. prefer pop.

3) Unfortunately, there is no ________. for the problem of homelessness.

4) Some people complete their degree in four years, though three years is ________.

5) It’s easy to become ________. about your future when there don’t seem to be many opportunities on offer.

6) We need to get these things ________. to avoid similar misunderstandings in future.

7) It’s quite an interesting play, but it isn’t very relevant to our ________.

8) I felt ________. when I realised that I had sent the email to the wrong person.

Show answers

1) lethargic   2) peers   3) quick fix   4) the norm

5) apathetic   6) straight   7) era   8) foolish

Listening Strategy

Sometimes the information you need for a listening task is implied rather than stated directly. For example, if somebody says ‘I wish I was back home’, it implies they are not happy with their current situation.

2. Read the Listening Strategy. Then listen to four monologues and circle the correct implication for each speaker.

Monologue 1

a Josh enjoyed the modern dance performance a lot.

b Josh didn’t really enjoy the modern dance performance.

Monologue 2

a Hannah expected to get a part in the show.

b Hannah didn’t expect to get a part in the show.

Monologue 3

a Ben is a big fan of modern art.

b Ben is not very keen on modern art.

Monologue 4

a Fatima prefers modern pop to 1980s pop.

b Fatima prefers 1980s pop to modern pop.

Show answers

1) b   2) b   3) b   4) a



Josh I went to see a modern dance performance with Katy last night. She’s a big fan of dance shows. What did I think of it? Well ___ let’s just say this: I’m glad Katy liked it.


Hannah I went for a part in Cats, the musical. I didn’t get it, though. That was no big surprise – there was one only part, and nearly 200 people went to the audition! Anyway, I’ve got two other auditions next week, for different shows.


Ben I went to an art exhibition last weekend. It was all modern art. With a lot of the pictures, it was hard to see the point. I just looked at them and thought, ‘I could do that’. That’s how I always react when I see modern art, really.


Fatima dad and I often disagree about what music to play in the car. He says he likes pop music, but all his CDs are really ancient – from the 1980s! He claims it’s much better than today’s pop music, but that’s ridiculous. I reckon it just reminds him of his youth.

3. Listen again and complete the sentences from the monologues. Use them to help check your answers to exercise 2.

1) Let’s ____________ this: I’m glad Katy liked it!

2) That was ____________ surprise – there was only one part.

3) With a lot of the pictures, it was ____________ ____________ the point.

4) He claims it’s much better than today’s pop music, but ____________

Show answers

1) just say   2) no big   3) hard to see

4) that’s ridiculous 


See exercise 2.

4. Read the poem and listen to three speakers talking about poetry. Which speaker is talking about the poem below?

Our Meetings


As in the Underground there’s no mistaking the train’s approach, it pushes air ahead, whirls paper, the line sings, a sort-of dread suffusing longing and platform shaking – so it is before our every meeting, till you arrive. Hear how heart is beating.

Speaker ________. is talking about this poem.

Show answers




uncle knew a lot of poems by heart, and he used to recite them to us sometimes. sister and I loved them, although I’m not sure we understood them very well. One of them began ‘There’s a one-eyed yellow idol to the north of Kathmandu’ – that was favourite. But I didn’t know what any of the words meant really – except for ‘yellow’. Actually, now that I’m an adult, I’ve learned a couple of poems that I can recite from memory, and own children love hearing them.


I was in London about a year ago, and had to get the Tube from Westminster to London Bridge. I was in seat, and when I looked up, I noticed a poster on the wall of the carriage with a poem on it. So I read it aloud – it was short, only a few lines. A very romantic poem, about what it feels like to be in love. And this girl opposite me said, ‘That was beautiful. Did you write it?’ She didn’t know I was reading it from a poster! Anyway, we started chatting and ended up swapping phone numbers. We see each other quite often now.


When I was about ten years old, I had a big argument with best friend, Louise. I can’t remember what it was about. I just remember we fell out badly and weren’t talking to each other. I felt terrible. So I wrote her this poem. It was all about why I liked her and why I was sorry that I had upset her. I wanted to stay best friends with her. I wrote it on a piece of paper and put it through her door. That evening, she called me and said, ‘Do you want to come round and play?’ And that was it – everything was OK again. It was probably a terrible poem, but it worked! And of course, I meant it.

5. Listen again. Match speakers 1-3 with sentences A-F. There are two extra sentences.

The speaker:

a wanted a career in poetry.

b used a poem to apologise to somebody.

c made a new friend as the result of reading a poem.

d tried to persuade somebody to like a particular poem, but failed.

e enjoyed poems without really understanding them.

Show answers

1) A   2) C   3) B


See exercise 4.