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IELTS Listening Section 1
Man: Hello ‘Paragliders’ Paradise’. How can I help you?
Maria: Oh hi. I’m interested in doing a course in paragliding.
Man: Which course are you interested in?
Maria: Well, I’m not sure. What’s available?
Man: Well … we’ve got the introductory course which lasts for two days.
Man: Or there’s the 4-day beginners’ course which is what most people do first. I’d tend to recommend that one. And there’s also the elementary pilot course which takes five to six days depending on conditions.
Maria: We might try the beginner’s course. What sort of prices are we looking at?
Man: The introductory is $190; the beginner’s course, which is what you’d probably be looking at, is $320 – no, sorry 330 – it’s just gone up – and the pilot course is $430.
Man: And you also have to become a member of our club so that you’re insured. That’ll cost you $12 a day. Everyone has to take out insurance, you see.
Maria: Does that cover me if I break a leg?
Man: No, I’m afraid not – it’s only 3rd party and covers you against damage to other people or their belongings , but not theft or injury, You would need to take out your own personal accident insurance.
Maria: I see! And what’s the best way to get to your place? By public transport or could we come by bike? We’re pretty keen cyclists  .
Man: It’s difficult by public transport although there is a bus from Newcastle; most people get here by car, though, ‘cos we’re a little off the beaten track. But you could ride here OK. I’ll send you a map. Just let me take down a few details. What’s your name?
Maria: Maria Gentle.
Man: And your address, Maria?
Maria: Well, I’m a student staying with a family in Newcastle.
Man: So it’s care of …
Maria: Care of Mr. and Mrs. McDonald  .
Man: Like the hamburgers!
Maria: Yes, exactly.
Man: McDonald …
Maria: The post office box address is probably best. It’s PO Box 676 . Newcastle.
Man: Is there a fax number there, because I could fax you the information?
Maria: Yes, actually, there is. It’s 0249 that’s for Newcastle and then double seven five four three one .
Man: OK. Now if you decide to do one of our courses, you’ll need to book in advance and to pay when you book. How would you be paying?
Maria: By credit card , if that’s OK. Do you take Visa? 
Man: Yes, fine. We take all major cards, including Visa.
Maria: OK then. Thanks very much.
Maria: Hi, Pauline.
Pauline: Hi, Maria! What’s that you’re reading?
Maria: Just some information from a paragliding school – it looks really good fun. Do you fancy a go at paragliding?
Pauline: Sure! Do you have to buy lots of equipment and stuff?
Maria: Not really. The school provides the equipment but we’d have to take a few things along.
Pauline: Such as?
Maria: Well it says here. Clothes: wear stout boots, so no sneakers or sandals I suppose, and clothes suitable for an active day in the hills, preferably a long-sleeved t-shirt  . That’s probably in case you land in the stinging nettles! It also says we should bring a packed lunch. We do not recommend soft drinks or flasks of coffee. Water is really the best thing to drink. We’d also need to bring suntan lotion and something to protect your head from the sun! 
Pauline: OK that sounds reasonable. And where would we stay?
Maria: Well look! They seem to operate a campsite too , because it says here that it’s only $10 a day to pitch a tent . That’d be fine, wouldn’t it? And that way we’d save quite a bit because even a cheap hotel would cost money.
Pauline: Urn..or perhaps we could stay in a bed and breakfast nearby . It gives a couple of names here we could ring. I think I might prefer that. Hotels and youth hostels would all be miles away from the farm and I don’t fancy a caravan.
Maria: No, I agree. But let’s take a tent and pray for good weather.
Pauline: OK – let’s do it. What about next
Maria: No, I can’t – I’m going on a geography field trip.
Pauline: ….and then it’s the weekend before the exams and I really need to study.
Maria: OK, then. Let’s make it the one after the exams .
Pauline: Fine – we’ll need a break by then. Can you ring and …
IELTS Listening Section 2
Reporter: The Goodwood Museum is currently celebrating some of the most extravagant types of car design in its festival of speed. Here’s our reporter Vincent Freed, who’s on site, to tell us about some of the cars on display.
Well, here I am, standing in front of one of the most prestigious cars ever built, the Duesenberg, a fantastically expensive, luxurious car built in the early part of the 20th century and bearing all the glamorous qualities of the jazz age. How many were there? Well, only 473 Duesenberg J-types were ever built  and the model here is one of the rarest.
Each had a short 125-inch chassis or framework and the body was always in the form of an open two-seater  .
The technology behind the car’s 6.9-litre engine was extraordinary. It featured capsules of mercury in the engines to absorb vibration and provide an incredibly smooth ride .
In fact, these cars offered unparalleled performance, in an age when 160 kilometres per hour was considered very fast, the Duesenberg promised a top speed of 180 kilometres per hour  and could do 140 kilometres per hour in second gear.
Duesenberg, who designed the car, sold it as a frame and engine  … this was typical of the age again and many prestige manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce did exactly the same. Owners able to afford the hefty $9,000 price tag for the basic car would then commission a coachwork company to build a body tailored to their own individual requirements.
The Duesenberg’s great attraction for the driver was its instrument panel which offered all the usual features but also several others including a stop-watch .
It was the Duesenberg’s technology that lay behind its success as a racing car and they dominated the American racing scene in the 1920s winning the Indianapolis Grand Prix in 1924, ’25 and ’27.
On to another celebrity, the 1922 Leyat Helica. Only 30 of these French propeller cars were built  and the model here at Goodwood, which was the fourth to be made, is thought to be the only surviving example still capable of running.
The brains behind this car was Marcel Leyat who was an aviation pioneer first and foremost, and the influence of flying is quite apparent in the car. The Leyat very strongly resembles a light aircraft  with its front propeller but in this case it’s minus any wings  of course!
It’s quite odd to think that this car was whirring through France, just as the Duesenberg was blasting down roads at 160 kilometres per hour across the Atlantic. The Leyats were used regularly in France in the 1920s and were even produced in saloon and van form, as well as two-seater. The Leyat matched its propeller drive with its equally bizarre steering which used the rear rather than the front wheels ! But despite looking rather frail, it was a tough machine. In fact, when troops tried to steal it during the Second World War, the car’s baffling design was clearly beyond the would-be thieves and it ended up being driven into a tree, breaking the propeller.
IELTS Listening Section 3
Tutor: Good morning everyone. Well I think we can start straightaway by getting Rosie and Mike to do their presentation. Would you like to start, Rosie?
Rosie: Yes, well, urn, we’ve done a survey on local entertainment. Basically, we tried to find out how students feel about the entertainment in the town and how much they use it.
Mike: Yes, so we’ve called our project ‘Out and About’  Mind the capitalisation as it is a title.
Tutor: Yes, that’s a good title! ‘Out and About’.
Rosie: We wanted to find out how well students use the entertainment facilities in town … whether they get to see the latest plays, films … that kind of thing.
Tutor: Now, we have our own facilities on campus of course …
Rosie: Yes, we deliberately omitted those as we really wanted to examine outside entertainment in the town as opposed to on the university campus. 
Mike: Actually there were a lot of areas to choose from but in the end we limited ourselves to looking at three general categories: cinema, theatre and music.
Rosie: OK. Well, first of all cinema. In the town, there are three main places where you can see films. There’s the new multi-screen cinema complex, the old Park cinema, and a late-night Odeon.
Mike: So if you look at this chart … in terms of audience size, the multi-screen complex accounts for 75% of all cinema seats , the Park Cinema, accounts for 20% of seats and the late-night Odeon has just 5% of seats .
Rosie: As you probably know, the Complex and the Park show all the latest films, while the late-night cinema tends to show cult films. So, when we interviewed the students, we thought the Complex would be the most popular choice of cinema … but surprisingly it was the late-night Odeon  .
Mike: Yeah, and most students said that if they wanted to see a new film, they waited for it to show at the Park because the complex is more expensive and further out of town so you have to pay more to get there as well.
Tutor: Yes, and that adds to the cost, of course, and detracts from the popularity , evidently .
Rosie: Well, next, we looked at theatres. The results here were interesting because, as you know, there’s a theatre on campus, which is popular. But there’s also the Stage Theatre in town, which is very old and architecturally quite beautiful. And there’s the large, modern theatre, the Ashtop, that has recently been built.
Tutor: So you just looked at the two theatres in town?
Mike: Yes. But the thing about the theatres is that there’s a whole variety of seat prices. Also, the types of performance vary … so students tend to buy seats at both and like using both for different reasons  and if they want cheap seats at the Ashtop, they can just sit further from the front.
Rosie: What we did find that was very interesting is that there are periods during the year when students seem to go to the theatre and periods when they go to the cinema and we really think that’s to do with budget. If you look at this graph, you can see that there’s a peak around November/December when they go to the theatre more and then a period in April/May when neither is particularly popular  and then theatre viewing seems to trail off virtually while the cinema becomes quite popular in June/July  .
Tutor: Hmm. I think you’re probably right about your conclusions.
Mike: Well, lastly we looked at music. And this time we were really investigating the sort of small music clubs that offer things like folk or specialise in local bands.
Tutor: So not musicals as such.
Mike: That’s right.
Rosie: We looked at three small music venues and we examined the quality of the entertainment and venue and gave a ranking for these: a cross meaning that the quality was poor, a tick meaning it was OK and two ticks for excellent. First of all, The Blues Club, which obviously specialises in blues music. This was a pretty small place and the seating was minimal so we didn’t give that a very good rating. 
Mike: No! We don’t recommend that one really.
Rosie: Then The Sansue which plays a lot of South American music was a big place, very lively, good performers so two ticks for that one .
The Pier Hotel is a folk venue … a good place for local and up-and-coming folk artists to play. Not the best of venues as it’s in a basement and a bit dark but the quality of the entertainment was reasonable and the lighting was very warm so we felt it deserved an average rating. 
Finally, there’s the Baldrock Cafe which features big rock bands and is pretty popular with students and we enjoyed ourselves there as well, so top marks for that one. 
IELTS Listening Section 4
Lecturer: In the last lecture, we looked at the adverse effects of desert dust on global climate. Today we’re going to examine more closely what causes dust storms and what other effects they can have. As you know, dust storms have always been a feature of desert climates, but what we want to focus on today is the extent to which human activity is causing them . And it is this trend that I want to look at, because it has wide-ranging implications.
So – what are these human activities ? Well, there are two main types that affect the wind erosion process, and thus the frequency of dust storms. There are activities that break up naturally wind-resistant surfaces such as off-road vehicle use and construction and there are those that remove protective vegetation cover from soils, for example, mainly farming and drainage.  In many cases the two effects occur simultaneously which adds to the problem.
Let’s look at some real examples and see what I’m talking about. Perhaps the best-known example of agricultural impact on desert dust is the creation of the USA’s ‘dust bowl’ in the 1930s. The dramatic rise in the number of dust storms during the latter part of that decade was the result of farmers mismanaging their land. In fact, choking dust storms became so commonplace that the decade became known as the ‘Dirty Thirties’. 
Researchers observed a similar, but more prolonged, increase in dustiness in West Africa between the 1960s and the 1980s when the frequency of the storms rose to 80 a year and the dust was so thick that visibility was reduced to 1,0 metres. This was a hazard to pilots and road users.
In places like Arizona, the most dangerous dust clouds are those generated by dry thunderstorms.  Here, this type of storm is so common that the problem inspired officials to develop an alert system to warn people of oncoming thunderstorms. When this dust is deposited it causes all sorts of problems for machine operators.  It can penetrate the smallest nooks and crannies and play havoc with the way things operate because most of the dust is made up of quartz which is very hard.
Another example – the concentration of dust originating from the Sahara has risen steadily since the mid-1960s.
This increase in wind erosion has coincided with a prolonged drought,  which has gripped the Sahara’s southern fringe. Drought is commonly associated with an increase in dust-raising activity but it’s actually caused by low rainfall which results in vegetation dying off.
One of the foremost examples of modern human-induced environmental degradation is the drying up of the Aral Sea in Central Asia. Its ecological demise dates from the 1950s when intensive irrigation began in the then Central Asian  republics of the USSR. This produced a dramatic decline in the volume of water entering the sea from its two major tributaries. In 1960, the Aral Sea was the fourth-largest lake in the world, but since that time it has lost two-thirds of its volume , its surface area has halved and its water level has dropped by more than 216 metres. A knock-on effect of this ecological disaster has been the release of significant new sources of wind-blown material, as the water level has dropped.
And the problems don’t stop there. The salinity of the lake has increased  so that it is now virtually the same as sea water. This means that the material that is blown from the dry bed of the Aral Sea is highly saline. Scientists believe it is adversely affecting crops  around the sea because salts are toxic to plants.