• English Listening Exercises: Are You a Psychopath?

    When students ask me about good sources to practice their English listening skills, I always refer them to This American Life (at least my upper-intermediate to advanced students).

    It is one of the most interesting English language podcasts available, it’s free, and it has transcripts that you can use for the hard parts. There’s a huge catalog of past episodes, and new ones are constantly being made. The general style of the podcast is very conversational… i.e. even the scripted parts sound like normal spoken English, and there are a lot of interviews, so you’ll get to hear English as it is typically spoken in real life.

    It’s hard to choose just one episode to listen to, but here’s a recent one titled “The Psychopath Test.” It’s about the history and use of an actual test used to determine whether someone is a psychopath. You’ll find the audio embedded below. You can get the transcript here. Download the episode here. You’ll find some reading questions below.

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    1. What is Ira’s (the host’s) joke at the beginning?

    2. Now, __ __ _____, Dr. Bernstein gave us the shorter version of the psychopath test, and he was not as ________ as he would have been with real potential psychopaths.

    3. What does the missing phrase above mean?

    4. Yeah, to where I quit, __________, because I was failing all of my classes, and I didn’t want to be there ______.

    5. What do the missing words above mean in the context?

    6. What is grammatically incorrect about this sentence? “He said to me, he says, hey, let’s see what this guy got.”

    7. There is no way to _________ this.

    8. What does the missing word above mean?

    9. What was Hare looking for when he invented the test?

    10. How did they determine that the test was accurate?

    11. Why were the researchers worried about using the test in the criminal justice system? What do you think about it?

    12. Why do you think CEOs are more likely to be psychopaths?

    13. What was different about Al Dunlap?

    14. What was the first think Jon notices about Dunlap’s home?

    15. How do you think you would score on the test?

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