Warm Up

Helpful Words and Phrases

Listen and repeat.

    • ex. I learned to tune out my baby brother’s cries at night.
    • ex. I couldn’t hear my friend because of the background noise at the club.
    • ex. I was worried because I heard a lot of yells, but my neighbors were just practicing a play.
    • ex. He turned up the radio’s volume to hear the music better.
    • ex. Jenny can’t process what she’s reading because the topic is too difficult.


Read the article below and answer your tutor's questions.

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Researchers from Northwestern University analyzed the brain activity of about 1,000 male and female athletes and non-athletes. While the study participants listened to sounds, the researchers examined how they tune out background noise to hear the sounds.

Results showed that athletes tune out background noise better than non-athletes do. According to the researchers, athletes are good at tuning out background noise because they can win games if they react to sounds faster. When athletes tune out background noise, they can focus on their teammates’ yells and hear their coach calling them from the sidelines.

Similar to athletes, musicians and bilingual people also have better hearing. However, the researchers found that these people don’t tune out background noise. Instead, they increase the volume of sounds to process them better. For example, when listening to a DJ, musicians and bilingual people increase the volume of the DJ’s voice in their heads.


Choose a topic and discuss the questions with your tutor.


  • Do you think listening is difficult for most people? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Is listening more important than speaking? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • What makes a good listener (ex. always paying attention, nodding your head)? Why? Discuss.


  • Is your area too noisy? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Is it easy to tune out noise around you? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • Should there be laws to control noise? Why or why not? Discuss.