English Challenge 06

I.  Article

A. Neuroscience Says Listening to This Song will instantly make you more creative and focused – Link / Excerpt and Questions /

B. Excerpt to Read and Record

1.    Ludwig van Beethoven was of the opinion that “Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”  So music can reveal more than either wisdom or philosophy, but can it reveal creativity?  And if it could, what music would that be?  Would it be the drawn-out rhythms of Blues, the soothing, mood-elevating sounds of New Age music, or the energizing beats of rock and roll?

2.    It takes extraordinary creativity to compose a piece of music, but does merely listening to music make you more creative?  This is the question that researchers Simone Ritter from Radboud University, The Netherlands, and Sam Ferguson from the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia, set out to answer.  They asked whether listening to music can facilitate creative cognition—the ability to come up with creative ideas, problem solutions, and products.  Previous studies have shown that listening to certain music has a beneficial effect on the intellect, but the effect of music listening on creativity has not been explored much.

3.    To investigate the effect of music on creative cognition, researchers divided 155 participants into five groups and asked them to complete questionnaires.  Each group listened to one of four different types of music that were categorized as calm, happy, sad, or anxious, depending on their emotional valence (positive, negative) and arousal (high, low), while the control group listened to silence.  As the music started playing, participants performed various cognitive tasks that tested their divergent and convergent creative thinking.

4.    The researchers define divergent thinking as the production of multiple answers from available information by making unexpected combinations, recognizing links among remote associates, or transforming information into unexpected forms.  Convergent thinking emphasizes accuracy and logic, and applies conventional search, recognition, and decision-making strategies.  Participants who came up with the most original and useful solutions to a task scored higher in divergent creativity, while participants who came up with the single best possible solution to a task scored higher in convergent creativity.

5.    The researchers chose music pieces that have been validated by earlier research to promote a particular mood.  Based on these validations, they refer to the four pieces of music as calm (positive valence, low arousal), happy (positive valence, high arousal), sad (negative valence, low arousal) and anxious (negative valence, high arousal).

6.    These are the four pieces of music that were elected:

·         The Swan by Saint-Saens (calm).
·         The Planets: Mars, The Bringer of War by Gustav Holst (anxious).
·         Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber (sad).
·         The Four Seasons: Spring by Vivaldi; (upbeat and happy).

7.    So which piece of music would you guess was the best facilitator of creativity?  The answer is the upbeat and happy sounds of Vivaldi’s Spring section of his Four Seasons.  The researchers concluded that listening to ‘happy music’ (i.e., classical music that elicits positive mood and is high on arousal) is associated with an increase in divergent thinking.  Listen to it for few minutes and see what creative ideas you can come up with.

D. Comprehension Questions

  1. What were the researchers in this article trying to prove or determine?
  2. In Paragraph 3, five groups were created.  Explain the difference between these five groups.
  3. What do you think “valence” means in this context?
  4. What do you think “arousal” means in this context?
  5. What was the conclusion of the research in this article?

E. Grammar Questions and Notes

  1. In Paragraph 1, what word or phrase could you use to replace the underlined phrase without changing the meaning?
  2. What is the relationship between the words “convergent” and “divergent”?
  3. What does the phrasal verb “to come up with” mean?  (You can look it up.)
  4. In Paragraph 4, what word could be used to replace “while”?
  5. In Paragraph 5, what do you think “promote” means?
  6. In Paragraph 7, what is the direct object of the verb “see”?
  7. In the context of Paragraph 7, what does “see” mean?

II.  Song

A. I’ve Never Been to Me – Link / Lyrics and Questions /

B. Story

This song tells the story of a young woman who seeks adventure and thrills, who wants to get the most out of life.  She spends much of her life traveling the world and engaging in all kinds of outlandish adventures, such as gambling, forbidden sex, drinking, partying on yachts with rich people, etc., hoping to find happiness in paradise.  However, as her life progresses, she finds one day that she is unmarried, old, childless, friendless, and lonely.  She sees married women walking by her with loving husbands and precious, adorable children at their sides – people who have lived in one place all their lives and traveled very little.  She compares her situation to theirs and feels pangs of regret; she suddenly has an epiphany.  She realizes that paradise is a lie, and the real truth is that happiness and fulfillment lie closer to home and can be found within oneself.

While contemplating her feelings, regrets, and poor choices in life, she comes upon a stranger, a lady who reminds her of her younger self – looking bedraggled and unhappy and clearing wishing she could break free from her regimented life to roam the world seeking that illusion called paradise.  Empathizing with this lady’s yearnings, she feels the need to warn the lady not to make the same mistakes in life that she has made, to waste her life away chasing a lie.  But the lady dismisses her as a nut case and turns away and leaves – dooming herself to go down the same soul-sucking path that the speaker has taken.  The unhappy cycle of life continues….

C. Lyrics

01    Hey lady, you, lady, cursin’ at your life.
02    You’re a discontented mother and a regimented wife.
03    I’ve no doubt you dream about the things you’ll never do,
04    But I wish someone had a talked to me like I wanna talk to you.

05    Ooh I’ve been to Georgia and California, and anywhere I could run.
06    Took the hand of a preacher man and we made love in the sun.
07    But I ran out of places and friendly faces because I had to be free.
08    I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.

09    Please lady, please, lady, don’t just walk away,
10    Cause I have this need to tell you why I’m all alone today.
11    I can see so much of me still living in your eyes.
12    Won’t you share a part of a weary heart that has lived a million lies?

13    Oh I’ve been to Nice and the isle of Greece,
14    While I sipped champagne on a yacht.
15    I moved like Harlow in Monte Carlo and showed ’em what I’ve got.
16    I’ve been undressed by kings and I’ve seen some things
17    That a woman ain’t s’posed to see.
18    I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.

19    Hey, you know what paradise is? It’s a lie. A fantasy we create about
20    People and places as we’d like them to be.  But you know what truth is?
21    It’s that little baby you’re holding, and it’s that man you fought with
22    This morning, the same one you’re going to make love with tonight.
23    That’s truth, that’s love…

24    Sometimes I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children
25    That might have made me complete,
26    But I, I took the sweet life and never knew I’d be bitter from the sweet.
27    I spent my life exploring the subtle whoring that costs too much to be free.
28    Hey lady, I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.

29    I’ve been to paradise, never been to me.
30    (I’ve been to Georgia and California, and anywhere I could run.)
31    I’ve been to paradise, never been to me.
32    (I’ve been to Nice and the isle of Greece
33    While I sipped champagne on a yacht)
34    I’ve been to paradise, never been to me.
35    (I’ve been to cryin’ for unborn children…)

Questions for the Students

  1. How did this woman spend her life?
  2. Is she happy that she did this? Why or why not?
  3. Explain what the title of the song means.
  4. If you were her, which choice would you have made?
  5. Why is this woman talking to another lady?
  6. What was that lady’s reaction to the woman’s plea?
  7. What is paradise, according to this woman?
  8. What is truth, according to this woman?
  9. In Line 15, what is “Monte Carlo” and what is it famous for? (You can look it up.)
  10. What is the warning or message in the refrain line — I’ve been to paradise, never been to me?
  11. What do you think Line 11 means?

Grammar Questions

  1. In Line 01, why does the word “cursin’ ” have an apostrophe symbol in it?
  2. In Line 02, what does “regimented” mean? (You can look it up.)
  3. In Line 12, what does “share a part of a weary heart” mean?
  4. In Line 12, what does “lived a million lies” mean?
  5. In Line 14, what does “sipped” mean?
  6. In Line 22, what does the phrase “to make love” mean?
  7. In Line 27, what does “subtle whoring” mean?
  8. In Line 35, what do you think she means by “unborn children”?


A. ET Is (probably) Out There – Get Ready – Link / Excerpt & Questions /

B. Read and Record – Excerpt

1.    All right, so the bottom line is this:  Because of the increase in speed, and because of the vast amount of habitable real estate in the cosmos, I figure we’re going to pick up a signal within two dozen years.  And I feel strongly enough about that to make a bet with you: Either we’re going to find ET in the next two dozen years, or I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.  So that’s not so bad.  I mean, even with two dozen years, you open up your browser and there’s news of a signal, or you get a cup of coffee.  Now, let me tell you about some aspect of this that people don’t think about, and that is, what happens? Suppose that what I say is true.  I mean, who knows, but suppose it happens.  Suppose sometime in the next two dozen years, we pick up a faint line that tells us we have some cosmic company.  What is the effect? What’s the consequence? Now, I might be at ground zero for this.

2.    I happen to know what the consequence for me would be, because we’ve had false alarms.  This is 1997, and this is a photo I made at about 3 o’clock in the morning in Mountain View here, when we were watching the computer monitors because we had picked up a signal that we thought, “This is the real deal. ” All right? And I kept waiting for the Men in Black to show up.  Right? I kept waiting for — I kept waiting for my mom to call, somebody to call, the government to call.  Nobody called.  Nobody called.  I was so nervous that I couldn’t sit down.  I just wandered around taking photos like this one, just for something to do.  Well, at 9:30 in the morning, with my head down on my desk because I obviously hadn’t slept all night, the phone rings and it’s The New York Times.  And I think there’s a lesson in that, and that lesson is that if we pick up a signal, the media, the media will be on it faster than a weasel on ball bearings.  It’s going to be fast.  You can be sure of that.  No secrecy.  That’s what happens to me.  It kind of ruins my whole week, because whatever I’ve got planned that week is kind of out the window.

3.    But what about you? What’s it going to do to you? And the answer is that we don’t know the answer.  We don’t know what that’s going to do to you, not in the long term, and not even very much in the short term.  I mean, that would be a bit like asking Chris Columbus in 1491, “Hey Chris, you know, what happens if it turns out that there’s a continent between here and Japan, where you’re sailing to, what will be the consequences for humanity if that turns out to be the case?”  And I think Chris would probably offer you some answer that you might not have understood, but it probably wouldn’t have been right, and I think that to predict what finding ET’s going to mean, we can’t predict that either.

4.    But here are a couple things I can say.  To begin with, it’s going to be a society that’s way in advance of our own.  You’re not going to hear from alien Neanderthals.  They’re not building transmitters.  They’re going to be ahead of us, maybe by a few thousand years, maybe by a few million years, but substantially ahead of us, and that means, if you can understand anything that they’re going to say, then you might be able to short-circuit history by getting information from a society that’s way beyond our own.  Now, you might find that a bit hyperbolic, and maybe it is, but nonetheless, it’s conceivable that this will happen, and, you know, you could consider this like, I don’t know, giving Julius Caesar English lessons and the key to the library of Congress.  It would change his day, all right?

5.    That’s one thing.  Another thing that’s for sure going to happen is that it will calibrate us.  We will know that we’re not that miracle, right, that we’re just another duck in a row, we’re not the only kids on the block, and I think that that’s philosophically a very profound thing to learn.  We’re not a miracle, okay?

D. Comprehension Questions

  1. When does the speaker figure we’ll pick up (hear) a signal from an extraterrestrial species?
  2. If we were to discover an extraterrestrial species, how does the speaker think that will affect you and me?
  3. If we were to discover an extraterrestrial species, how does the speaker think that will affect the human race?
  4. If we were to discover an extraterrestrial species, does the speaker think their technology level will be less than, equal to, or greater than ours?
  5. Who is Chris(topher) Columbus and why is he mentioned in this article?

E. Grammar Questions and Notes

  1. In Paragraph 1, what does “pick up a signal” mean?
  2. In Paragraph 1, what does “the bottom line” mean?
  3. In Paragraph 1, there is a sentence that uses the “either…or” construction.  Explain what this structure does for us.
  4. Paragraph 1 has this sentence:  “Suppose that what I say is true.”

a. What is the subject?

b. What is the verb?

c. What is the direct object?

d. What is the function of the word “that”?

e. What is the subject of “is true”?

5. List at least two examples of “tag questions”.

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