Listening to Accented English

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  • 0:01 Accented English
  • 1:05 Passage 1
  • 3:00 Questions
  • 6:11 Quiz Passage
  • 7:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

In real life and on standardized English tests, you'll have to work with listening passages read by speakers with non-American accents. Watch this lesson to get some hands-on practice.

Accented English

American English isn't the only English around! Even if you're planning to live or study in the United States, you'll still probably come across other English accents - and if you're headed to a school in the United Kingdom, Australia, or New Zealand, you'll definitely need some practice with native accents! Some tests of English proficiency, like the TOEFL, also include listening passages read by speakers with non-American accents.

This shouldn't throw you too hard - the words are mostly the same. But it can be a little off-putting, so in this lesson, you'll get some practice listening to English spoken by native speakers who aren't from the United States. First, a few tips:

  • Try not to get hung up on unfamiliar words. For example, if a speaker from the UK says 'beef mince' instead of 'ground beef,' listen for the overall meaning of a sentence, not individual words.
  • If you're watching this lesson for test prep, take notes on the passage. Get up and get some notepaper now if you don't have any.

All right, ready for the passage?

Passage 1

PROFESSOR: Good morning, class. We're starting on Marx today, so, uh…how did you like the reading?

STUDENT: It was really hard. Really hard.

PROFESSOR: Yes, Marx is hard to read. Was there, um, anything - any concepts in particular that confused you?

STUDENT: Well, um, the difference between use-value and exchange-value?

PROFESSOR: Did anyone else have trouble with that?

STUDENT 2: Yes, I did.

PROFESSOR: All right, well, let's start from the beginning, shall we? Let's first take an example of a commodity - that's just a thing that we make in order to put it on the market or exchange it for something else. All right, so our commodity, let's say it's a jacket. Our jacket has two kinds of value, according to Marx: use-value and exchange-value.

The use-value is what you can actually use the jacket for, or, um, what it does that meets someone's need. So the use-value of a jacket is that it keeps you warm in the cold; maybe it keeps you dry in the rain. Then there's exchange-value: that's a way of measuring what kinds of other commodities you can trade for the jacket. Because to, uh, to trade one thing for another thing, you have to have some kind of abstract idea of what the thing is worth.

For example, let's say I have two jackets but no boots. Maybe I'll trade one of my jackets for a pair of boots, so we could say that the exchange-value of the jacket and the exchange-value of the boots are the same, so we can trade them for each other. On the other hand, I probably wouldn't trade a whole jacket for just one glove. That's because the exchange-value of the glove is less than the exchange-value of the jacket.

STUDENT: So, exchange-value is basically price?

PROFESSOR: No, not exactly. Because you can - you can measure exchange-value in ways other than money if you want to. You don't have to use money. All right?

STUDENT: All right, I get it


Now for the questions. If you took notes, keep your notes out as you answer because you'll have them on the test.

1. What are the professor and the students mainly discussing in this lecture?

a. The value of jackets, boots, and gloves.

b. The concepts of use-value and exchange-value.

c. The price of commodities.

d. The difference between value and price.

The correct answer is b. The professor starts off the lecture by saying he's going to explain use-value and exchange-value, and then goes through each of them.

2. According to the professor, which of the following describes the use-value of a jacket?

a. It keeps you warm and dry.

b. It is worth as much as a pair of boots.

c. It is worth more than a glove.

d. It can be exchanged for another commodity without using money.

The correct answer here is a. The professor says that 'the use-value of a jacket is that it keeps you warm in the cold; maybe it keeps you dry in the rain.'

3. Listen to the following portion of the passage again.

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