TOEFL® Listening Practice

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In this question, you'll listen to a lecture, then answer questions related to that lecture. Answer the questions based on what is stated or implied by the speakers.

You may take notes while you listen. You may use your notes to help you answer the questions.

We recommend you practice taking notes with a pen and paper like you will during your TOEFL exam.

Today's Topic:

Topic: 
The flight of the Bumblebee

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  • library_books Audio Script

    Okay! So, today I am going to talk about the flight of the bumblebee. Many years ago scientists believed that the flight of the bumblebee defied the law of physics. They took the weight of a bumblebee and its wing area into account and did some calculations. They found from an aerodynamic point of the view, the way a bumblebee flies doesn’t make any sense. In fact, scientists believed that bumblebees couldn’t even fly. That’s why there is a famous quote, “Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway”.

    Now you must be wondering how come we still see bumblebees flying around amidst the flowers. It turned out that scientists were wrong. The big misconception about bumblebee flight is the belief that bumblebees flap their wings up and down. In addition, the fluid dynamics behind the flight of a bumblebee are different from those that allow a plane to fly. An airplane's wing forces air down, which in turn pushes its wing upward. For bumblebees, it isn't so simple.They flap their wings back and forth.

    As a bumblebee takes flight, the angle to the wing creates vortices in the air like small hurricanes.The eyes of those vortices have lower pressure than the surrounding air and suck the wing upwards. This is what gives the bumblebee the extra bit of lift it needs to buzz around from flower to flower. It’s just like if you move a spoon through a cup of coffee; you’ll see the flow swirl around the sharp edge. If you move the spoon quickly, you’ll actually see a dimple at the center of the vortex caused by the lower pressure.

    Amazing, right? But this is not what amazes me the most. What I am most intrigued by is how these bees are able to find the most efficient route between flowers.You see bumblebees foraging for nectar in flowers are like salesmen traveling between towns. Both seek the optimal route to minimize their travel costs. In order to find out how they achieve this, a team of researchers conducted an experiment.

    They trained the bees to forage nectar from five blue artificial flowers. Each artificial flower had a yellow landing platform and a single drop of sucrose, just enough to fill one-fifth of a bumblebee's tank capacity. This ensured that the bees would visit all five flowers on each foraging route. The researchers arranged the flowers in a pentagon and spaced them 50 meters apart. This distance is more than three times as far as bumblebees can see, so the bees must actively fly around to locate their next target. A motion-triggered Webcam was attached to each flower to record the bees' visits. Then, every day for a month, each bee was freed to forage for 7 hours.

    At first, the bumblebees visited the flower nearest to their nest, and then the next closest flower. It appeared that the bees kept track—that is, they remembered—the total distance traveled on each foraging trip. They tried new routes to increase their efficiency, and if a route was shorter, they used this route instead. If not, they abandoned it. As their experience increased, the bumblebees were able to select the most efficient path to visit the flowers.

Listening Script Vocabulary

Okay! So, today I am going to talk about the flight of the bumblebee. Many years ago scientists believed that the flight of the bumblebee defied the law of physics. They took the weight of a bumblebee and its wing area into account and did some calculations. They found from an aerodynamic point of the view, the way a bumblebee flies doesn’t make any sense. In fact, scientists believed that bumblebees couldn’t even fly. That’s why there is a famous quote, “Aerodynamically, the bumblebee shouldn't be able to fly, but the bumblebee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway”.

Now you must be wondering how come we still see bumblebees flying around amidst the flowers. It turned out that scientists were wrong. The big misconception about bumblebee flight is the belief that bumblebees flap their wings up and down. In addition, the fluid dynamics behind the flight of a bumblebee are different from those that allow a plane to fly. An airplane's wing forces air down, which in turn pushes its wing upward. For bumblebees, it isn't so simple.They flap their wings back and forth.

As a bumblebee takes flight, the angle to the wing creates vortices in the air like small hurricanes.The eyes of those vortices have lower pressure than the surrounding air and suck the wing upwards. This is what gives the bumblebee the extra bit of lift it needs to buzz around from flower to flower. It’s just like if you move a spoon through a cup of coffee; you’ll see the flow swirl around the sharp edge. If you move the spoon quickly, you’ll actually see a dimple at the center of the vortex caused by the lower pressure.

Amazing, right? But this is not what amazes me the most. What I am most intrigued by is how these bees are able to find the most efficient route between flowers.You see bumblebees foraging for nectar in flowers are like salesmen traveling between towns. Both seek the optimal route to minimize their travel costs. In order to find out how they achieve this, a team of researchers conducted an experiment.

They trained the bees to forage nectar from five blue artificial flowers. Each artificial flower had a yellow landing platform and a single drop of sucrose, just enough to fill one-fifth of a bumblebee's tank capacity. This ensured that the bees would visit all five flowers on each foraging route. The researchers arranged the flowers in a pentagon and spaced them 50 meters apart. This distance is more than three times as far as bumblebees can see, so the bees must actively fly around to locate their next target. A motion-triggered Webcam was attached to each flower to record the bees' visits. Then, every day for a month, each bee was freed to forage for 7 hours.

At first, the bumblebees visited the flower nearest to their nest, and then the next closest flower. It appeared that the bees kept track—that is, they remembered—the total distance traveled on each foraging trip. They tried new routes to increase their efficiency, and if a route was shorter, they used this route instead. If not, they abandoned it. As their experience increased, the bumblebees were able to select the most efficient path to visit the flowers.

TOEFL Listening Tips for Success
These are general tips that will appear on all listening questions.

Listening Tips
Listen for the main idea
In most cases, the first question after each lecture is a main idea question also known as a gist question. At the beginning of a listening lecture, the professor usually mentions what the main topic of the lecture will be about, but sometimes the topic might be branched into something more specific. Please note the topic can change, so always be prepared to note down any new topics.

Listen to the speaker's tone of voice
Sometimes you'll be asked questions regarding the speaker's attitude or opinion. To answer these questions correctly, tone of voice matters. For example, does the speaker sound excited, confused, sad...etc?

Listen to how ideas are connected throughout the lecture
When listening to a lecture, make note of the way the ideas in the lecture are connected. In other words, how the professor organized the lecture. When you encounter a question asking you how the lecture is organized, you can refer back to your notes. Some of the main relationships between ideas include cause/effect, compare/contrast, and steps in a process.

Listen for key points not specific details
TOEFL listening questions will not test you on small details. For example, you won't see questions that are about a specific year, name, or location. Instead, questions will test your understanding of key points mentioned in the lecture.

Listen for signal words that indicate different parts of the lecture
To help you capture key points in the lecture, you need to learn to listen for signal words or transition words. These words are like the road signs that tell you what is coming next. Signal words can tell you the beginning or the end of a topic. They can also help you move through the middle of the lecture by introducing topics.

Signal words
"Okay", "Well", "Now", "But", and "So"

1. "Okay" and "Now" are usually used to transition into a different topic or a different key point.
2. "Well" is usually used before answering a question.
3. "But" and "So" are usually followed by a key point.
Examples

All right folks, let’s continue our discussion of alternative energy sources and move on to what’s probably the most well-known alternative energy source--- solar energy. The sun basically provides earth with virtually unlimited source of energy every day, but the problem has always been how do we tap this source of energy. Can anyone think of why it’s so difficult to make use of solar energy?

OK. Another ancient Greek philosopher we need to discuss is Aristotle—Aristotle’s ethical theory. What Aristotle’s ethical theory is all about is this: he’s trying to show you how to be happy—what true happiness is. Now, why is he interested in human happiness? It’s not just because it’s something that all people want to aim for. It’s more than that. But to get there we need to first make a very important distinction. Let me introduce a couple of technical terms: extrinsic value and intrinsic value.

All right, so far we have been looking at some of the core areas of linguistics, like syntax, phonology, semantics. Now I’d like to talk about the branch of historical linguistics, and the comparison of several different languages, or the comparison of different stages of a single language. Now, if you are comparing different languages, and you notice that they have a lot in common. Maybe they have similar sounds and words that correspond to one another that have the same meaning and that sound similar.


Signal words
Let's move on to ...
This brings me to my next point, which is….
So far we have have been looking at…. Now I'd like to….
So now that we've covered…
What … is all about is this…
Examples

All right folks, let's continue our discussion of alternative energy sources and move on to what's probably the most well-known alternative energy source--- solar energy. The sun basically provides earth with virtually unlimited source of energy every day, but the problem has always been how do we tap this source of energy. Can anyone think of why it's so difficult to make use of solar energy?

OK. Another ancient Greek philosopher we need to discuss is Aristotle—Aristotle's ethical theory. What Aristotle's ethical theory is all about is this: he's trying to show you how to be happy—what true happiness is. Now, why is he interested in human happiness? It's not just because it's something that all people want to aim for. It's more than that. But to get there we need to first make a very important distinction. Let me introduce a couple of technical terms: extrinsic value and intrinsic value.

All right, so far we have been looking at some of the core areas of linguistics, like syntax, phonology, semantics. Now I'd like to talk about the branch of historical linguistics, and the comparison of several different languages, or the comparison of different stages of a single language.   Now, if you are comparing different languages, and you notice that they have a lot in common. Maybe they have similar sounds and words that correspond to one another that have the same meaning and that sound similar.   


Signal words
(opinion) I think, It appears that, It is thought that
(theory) In theory, the hypothesis is that
Examples

You have an advertising budget to spend, but how do you to spend it wisely. Again, research is the key. Good research gives you facts, facts that can help you decide, well, as we already mentioned, decide the right market to target, and the best media to use. But also: When to advertise? or…or how to get the best rates? Like, maybe you're advertising Sport equipment, and you have been spending most of your budget during the holiday season when people buy gifts for each other. Now, in theory, that would seem a great time to advertise, but maybe a research shows you're wrong, that the customers who buy sports equipment tend not to give it as a holiday gift, but want to use it themselves. In that case, advertising during a different season of the year might give you better results.

We recently noticed an increase in cloud cover over an area of the ocean waters around Antarctica. An increased area of low thick clouds, the type that reflects a large portion of solar energy back to space and cools the Earth. Well, the reason for this increased cloud cover, it turns out, is the exceptionally large amount of microscopic marine plants. Well, the current hypothesis is that these microorganisms produce a chemical that interacts with the oxygen in the air, creating conditions that lead to the formation of the low thick clouds we observed. Well, that's true. It could have huge implications. So, maybe we are talking about controlling the weather. Perhaps, if the microorganisms near Antarctica really are responsible, perhaps we can accelerate the process somehow.


Pay attention to the following transition words which can help you capture the main ideas and examples:
Type of connection Transition words
These words show the order of ideas. First/Second/Third
Firstly (or "First of all")/Secondly/Thirdly (or "Lastly")
For one thing/For another thing/Finally (or "Lastly")
In the first place/in the second place/Finally (or "Lastly")
These words show the addition of information In addition, furthermore, additionally, also, next, moreover, what's more, on top of that
These words shows conclusions. To sum up, in summary, in conclusion, to conclude, all in all, all things considered ,overall, taking everything into consideration, in a nutshell
These words demonstrate contrast Conversely, on the contrary, by contrast, by way of contrast, on one hand/on the other hand
These words compare or demonstrate similarity Similarly, likewise, by the same token, along similar lines
These words show result. As a result, as a consequence, consequently, therefore
These words state a generalization. Generally, on the whole, in most cases, in general
These words clarify a point. That is, in other words, to put it simply, That is to say, just to reiterate
These words give examples. For example, for instance, take something, for example, to give a clear example
These words state an alternative. Alternatively, as another possibility
Tips to Improve TOEFL listening score
NO SKIPPING ANSWERS
Unlike the reading section, in the listening section you CANNOT skip answers and come back. If you skip a question, you will not be able to go back and answer it.

Make an educated guess on questions you are unsure of
When you don't know the answer, try to figure out which choice is most consistent with the main idea of the conversation or lecture. Another way is to eliminate obvious wrong answers.

Don't take more than two minutes to answer a question.
If you spend more than two minutes on a question, you might run out of time. It is not worth it. Leave time for other questions that you have more confidence on. It's better to have an educated guess and move on than it is to miss out on potential easy questions because you ran out of time.
Note-taking tips
Here are symbols you can use in your notes:
SymbolMeaningExamples
=refer to, occur, ..etc A concept that people make choices to describe a situation in a positive or negative way is referred to as word framing
Word framing = ppl describe a situation in ✓ or X way.
Because, as a result of, due to, because, owing to Due to the increasing popularity of e-books, there has been a fall in paper book sales.
∵↑e-books, paper books $↓
Therefore Element 43 has radioactive decay, therefore element 43 doesn't last very long, which means if that ever had been present on earth, it would have decayed ages ago.
Elem43 has radioa. decay ∴ it ≠ last long
=>result in, lead to, contribute to, give rise to, cause Carbon dioxide significantly contributes to global warming.
CO => global warming
isn't, doesn't, don't, can't etc. Element 43 has radioactive decay, therefore element 43 doesn't last very long, which means if that ever had been present on earth, it would decayed ages ago.
Elem43 has radioa. decay ∴ it ≠ last long
+many, lots of, a great deal of, etc. Because potatoes have the ability to provide abundant and extremely nutritious food crop, no other crop grew in Northern Europe. As a result, the nutrition of the general population improved tremendously and population soared in the early 1800s.
∵ potatoes /nutri crop/+vitamins => popul↑ in Europe 1800s
++Comparatives Older and more experienced birds who nest in the high density shrub areas have significantly more offspring than those in low density areas, which suggests the choice of where to nest does have an impact on the number of chicks they have.
older birds /nest in high shrub ++offsprings birds/nest in low shrub
+++Superlatives What was even more surprising were all the large organisms that lived down there. The most distinctive of these was something called the tube worm. Here, let me show you a picture. The tube of the tube worm is really, really long. They can be up to one and half meters long, and these tubes are attached to the ocean floor, pretty weird looking, huh?
! +++special = tube warm /long/tubes attached to ocean floor
-Little, few, lack ,in short of/ be in shortage of, etc. As I said the monsoon migrated itself, so there was less rain in the Sahara. The land started to get drier, which in turn caused huge decreases in the amount of vegetation, because vegetation doesn't grow as well in dry soil, right? And then, less vegetation means the soil can't hold water and the soil loses its ability to retain water when it does rain. So then you have less moisture to help clouds form, nothing to evaporate for cloud formation.
- rain in Sahara
land ++dry => vegetation↓
--vegetation => soil ≠ hold water => -water to form cloud
!Important, interesting But what's particularly interesting about these volcanoes is that most of the volcanoes here on Earth are not shield volcanoes. Instead, they are other volcano types, like strata volcanoes, for example, which are a result of tectonic plate movement.
! volcanoes on earth ≠ shield volcanoes = strata volcanoes
tectonic plate => volcanoes on earth

Other symbols:
SymbolMeaning
&And, also, in addition, etc.
~ about/around, approximately, etc.
...And so on
$Sales, money, cost
e.g.For example
i.e.That is
xWrong, incorrect, bad, detrimental, negative, etc.
Right, good, positive, etc.
 
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