English Listening Exercises for B2 – Hashtag activism


‘I’m Charlotte. I’m seventeen and I live in Bristol, which is, 1) __ , one of the coolest cities in the south-west of England. friends and I saw reports of the national anti-austerity demonstration in London – 2) __ , where people were protesting against the threatened cuts in welfare from the new government. It was too far for us to travel, but 3) __ we wished we could have been there. And then one of friends said, ‘4) __ , why don’t we organise one here?’ We put up an invitation on Facebook to all of our friends. 5) __ , we hadn’t done anything like it before so we didn’t know what to expect. But it just grew from there, and on the day, five thousand people turned up to demonstrate! It was a completely amazing experience.

6) __ , a lot of great things have come out of that one Facebook page. 7) __ , we are now collecting food for local food banks and women’s shelters. We’re only young, but 8) __ , with Facebook, we’re effective!’

1. Choose the correct linkers (a-c) to complete the text.

1)  a all the same  b incidentally   c  for instance

2)  a you know  b nevertheless   c  well

3)  a all the same  b by the way   c  for instance

4)  a Well  b Nevertheless   c  As I was saying

5)  a Mind you  b For instance   c  Taking of which

6)  a All the same  b By the way   c  However

7)  a Still  b Incidentally   c  For instance.

8)  a even so  b for instance   c  by the way

Show answers

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

2. Listen and check your answers to exercise 1.

Listening Strategy

As you listen, pay special attention to discourse markers (linking phrases), which connect pieces of information to each other. For example, however introduces a contrast, whereas for instance introduces an example.

3. Read the Listening Strategy and match the sentence halves.

1) I am not sure who to vote for.

2) We couldn’t go to London to demonstrate.

3) I don’t really understand how Twitter works.

4) sister went on a protest march at the weekend.

5) Scientists say it will be difficult to reverse global warming.

6) Journalists are sometimes difficult to trust.

a Nevertheless, I will try to use it.

b Even so, that’s no excuse not to do it at all.

c Still, we managed to protest effectively in other ways.

d Talking of protests, did you sign that petition about equal rights?

e By the way, did you know that Matt is studying journalism at university?

f All the same, it would be better to try to do something about it.

Show answers

1) b   2) c   3) a   4) d   5) f   6) e

4. Listen and check your answers.

Show answers


1) I am not sure who to vote for. Even so, that’s no excuse not to do it at all.

2) We couldn’t go to London to demonstrate. Still, we managed to protest effectively in other ways.

3) I don’t really understand how Twitter works. Nevertheless, I will try to use it.

4) sister went on a protest march at the weekend. Talking of protests, did you sign that petition about equal rights?

5) Scientists say it will be difficult to reverse global warming. All the same, it would be better to try to do something about it.

6) Journalists are sometimes difficult to trust. By the way, did you know that Matt is studying journalism at university?

5. Listen and match speakers 1-4 with sentences A-E. There is one extra sentence.

This speaker:

a talks about a particular online protest and how it evolved into something else.

b explains that the perceived lack of interest in politics in the young is not accurate.

c took action to encourage young people’s interest in politics.

d proves that social media is essential in political campaigns.

e feels that there is no division between social media campaigning and other forms of protest.

Show answers

1) C   2) B   3) E   4) A


1) Talking of politics, I was fed up with the lack of political education at school, especially with the general election coming up, so I decided I would try to do something about it. I went to the head teacher and asked if I could stage a mock election in the school. I thought I would have trouble persuading him, but he was all for it. So I invited students to put themselves forward as candidates, then organised a speech day and a polling day, and guess what? The turnout was 85%! Students went home and researched the different political parties in our electoral system and what they stood for. I was delighted!

2) Did you know that in the last general election, turnout among 18–24-year-olds was poor – only 43%? Teenagers are accused of being politically apathetic, but that isn’t altogether true. For instance, in Scotland, 16- and 17-year-olds were allowed to vote for the first time in the Scottish referendum – you know, when the Scots were voting whether to be independent from Britain. And what was interesting was that young people were inspired and galvanised to think about politics and the future of Scotland – and the voting turnout among the young was incredibly high – 80%! So it just goes to show that when teenagers are included in the political system, they can act responsibly and go to the polling station.

3) As a journalist I can say that that hashtag activism is here to stay. In the past few years, a solid Twitter presence has become essential for any good protest movement. For instance, a hashtag slogan links all posts together into a debating forum, so that people can easily find and join in the discussions. Incidentally, for those of us who work in the media, news is more and more often made on Twitter than through official channels. So I don’t think it makes sense to distinguish between online and offline activism any more. Social media is not a substitute for actual demonstrations, but a complement to them. Demonstrations are organised on Facebook. Then people go on protest marches with hashtag slogans on their banners. Therefore other people can see them, go online and join the protest. Digital and traditional activism feed into one another. That’s real life today.

4) A rather interesting reaction happened with teenagers a while ago in the States. Thousands of teens wanting to make a point against the perfect bodies found in magazines started posting photos and videos of themselves with acne, body fat, etc. They used the hashtag ‘Don’t Judge Challenge’. You know, the hashtag was used over two million times! However, some teenagers then started making themselves intentionally unattractive. For instance, they painted on spots, big eyebrows, big glasses or missing teeth and took photos, then slowly changed themselves to show that they were attractive after all. Then a backlash started, with thousands of other teenagers criticising it on Twitter, saying that the videos didn’t empower teenagers, but gave the message that people who naturally have bad skin, wear glasses, or that sort of thing can never be attractive. So then a new hashtag was formed called ‘Beauty In All Challenge’, encouraging people to embrace their individual, personal beauty.

Extra exercises


Before you do a true or false task, look at the statements and underline the key words. Predict three words that you expect to hear in the recording.

1. Read the Strategy and look at the statement below. Underline the key words and choose the group of words you would expect to hear in the recording. What situations do the other groups refer to?

The speakers are at a rally.

a musicians, singer, stage

b crowd, pitch, players

c microphone, placard, speech

Show answers

rally, C

A concert, B sports match

2. You will hear three texts twice. Are the statements true (T) or false (F)?

Text 1

1) The speakers are teachers. _________

2) They are both in favour of the new reform. _________

Text 2

3) The speaker describes a natural disaster that was nearly as bad as the last one the country suffered. _________

4) The speaker’s intention is to appeal for money to help the victims of the disaster. _________

Text 3

5) It is a fact that other European countries have offered more help to refugees than the UK. _________

6) The speaker thinks that British people need to be convinced to welcome more refugees into the country. _________

Show answers

1) T   2) F   3) F   4) T   5) T   6) F



Sarah What do you think about the new reform, Mike?

Mike I don’t agree with it at all.

Sarah I’m not happy about it either. I mean, who has time to do all of that assessment and evaluation at the end of the day?

Mike Exactly. I’d rather be planning what I’m going to do in class the next day than filling out all that paperwork.

Sarah I know. It’s going to take ages. Oh well, I don’t suppose there’s anything we can do about it.

Mike Haven’t you heard about the demonstration?

Sarah No ___

Mike There’s a demonstration against the new reform next weekend. I’m going and some of our colleagues are going too. You should come.

Sarah I might well do that.


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Interviewer Hello. I’m here at the Solidarity for Refugees march with Jonathan Robbins, one of the organisers. Jonathan, why do you think this march is necessary? Protester Basically because of the lack of help being offered to refugees by the government. So far, the UK has welcomed just over 20,000 refugees while other countries have done much more – Germany has accepted over 800,000 and Sweden has offered permanent residence to asylum seekers. I believe that there are many people who would welcome more refugees in the country. In opinion, British people are no less generous than Germans or Swedes, but we need to prove that to the rest of the world. Interviewer Thank you Jonathan for that.

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