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Listening activity: New York

“Concrete jungle where dreams are made of” is how the city of New York is described in the hit song by Alicia Keys. Its presence in countless movies, songs, shows and stories has made New York City a dream destination for people from all around the world.

Two yellow  taxicabs in New York. Photo.
Two yellow taxicabs in New York

Pre-listening activities

  1. Write down a list of all of the things you associate with New York City. Compare and contrast your list with one of your classmates.
  2. Listen to the song “Empire State of Mind Part II” by Alicia Keys and pay close attention to the words of the chorus. How does this description of New York compare to what you associate with this city?

Even if it ain't all it seems, I got a pocketful of dreams
Baby I'm from New York!
Concrete jungle where dreams are made of
There's nothing you can't do
Now you're in New York!
These streets will make you feel brand new
Big lights will inspire you
Hear it for New York, New York, New Yooork!

Task

Listen to the following dialogue between Carlos and his friends Caleb and Sofia. You can choose between listening to it with or without the below transcript.

Two different approaches:

  1. Check your understanding: Listen to the dialogue and answer the questions provided.
  2. Practice for the first part of the oral exam: Listen to the dialogue several times and take notes in order to be able to give a detailed summary of what the text is about.
The Statue of Liberty. Photo.
The Statue of Liberty

New York – A Colorful Metropolis

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New York – A Colorful Metropolis

Transcript of the dialogue

Files

Carlos: Hi there Norwegian guys and girls. My name is Carlos and I live in New York. Did you know that it is the most linguistically diverse city in the world? You can hear 800 different languages spoken here. That is so cool, right? So, if you ever go to the United States of America, come visit New York City.

There are many reasons to explore this metropolis. One of them is that you will always feel at home here due to all the films and TV-series made here. The second is to explore the five boroughs here and the third reason is yellow cabs. You would also like to see the Statue of Liberty. However if there is one reason to go there, this is to feel, smell, listen to and taste the multicultural vibes that are so unique for the largest city in the USA. The best way to explore the city, is either by foot or by the subway.

I live in the borough called Queens, but before I head home, I’m meeting up with my friends Caleb and Sofia. They live in different areas of New York, so we will have to use one of the largest subways in the world- the New York Subway to transport us around. Please join us for a trip in this city of 8.6 million people. We’ve made plans to meet in the borough of Manhattan, which consists of Lower, Mid-town and Up-town. I see them standing outside of Grand Central station, near the green lung of New York City’s Central Park.

Carlos: Hi guys, so cool to catch up here today. Are you ready to show our city, its highlights and your neighbourhoods?

All: Yeah, sure.

Sofia: Sorry I’m a bit late, my route on the subway from The Bronx was delayed. There was an accident in one of the gateways at 56th street.

Caleb: yeah, right Sofia- or could it be that you have this talent of always being fashionably late… I mean, you are an Italian American after all. He, he.

Sofia: Hey you - don’t be rude. He, he. What’s up in your life in “da ghetto”?

Caleb: Well ya’ know, in Up-Town NYC in Harlem, there is always somethin’ cool goin’ on.

Carlos: OK guys, be serious. Sofia, will you take us to your place on Staten Island? It will give us a chance to show the Norwegians some of the attractions on Middle and Lower Manhattan.

Sofia: Sure, I’ll be happy to guide you all on a tour of this peninsula we love and call the borough of Manhattan where 36% of the population is foreign born. We are a multicultural melting pot of all kinds of races.

Carlos: Hmm, I guess the term ‘race’ might sound weird and uncomfortable to a Norwegian, Amy. I prefer the word ‘ethnicity’. ‘Race’ refers to our skin colour and facial features, but the term ‘ethnicity’ has to do with where a person’s ancestors came from. It is associated with cultural traditions like language, food, clothing, social norms, and perhaps religion. It is about “who you are.”

Sofia: Thanks, Carlos. I agree with you. Let us widen our horizon and embrace all the wonderful, colourful cultures and heritages this city has to offer! The three of us represent this salad bowl of ethnic diversity. In a salad, you are able to see, taste and smell each ingredient. This is why I think “salad bowl” is a more positive metaphor to describe the New York City vibe.

Carlos: Okay, okay, all this interesting talk about terms and stuff, is making me both hungry and ready to see some famous sights here. What about you, Caleb? Are you with me?

Caleb: Sure! Maybe the most famous landmark of them all is the Statue of Liberty. We could take a ferry out to Liberty Island, as it is called, on the Hudson river. But the tickets are quite expensive and I don’t know if most people know this, but you have to go through airport style security screenings both before you get on the ferry and before entering the statue. That usually means looooong queues.

Sofia: I have a much better idea! The Staten Island Ferry runs from Manhattan 24 hours a day, it gives you a fantastic view of the Statue of Liberty and the famous New York skyline and it’s a free service! However, I can’t promise no queues...

Carlos: Well, I’m convinced. And anyway, queues and traffic are just something you have to accept in one of the world’s biggest cities.

Caleb: Hey you guys, can we grab something to eat first? This mobile truck on the corner sells cronuts - have you heard of them? They are a cross between a croissant and a doughnut - they’re delicious.

Sofia: Oh, I work with someone who’s obsessed with them. I definitely want to try one!

Carlos: Yes, New York will impress you with all its flavours. I hope you guys overseas in Norway come and visit us someday. You are welcome to do so any time!

Check your understanding:

  1. In the introduction, Carlos mentions a lot of things that are typical of New York. Which ones can you remember?
  2. Why was Sofia late?
  3. In what way can the city of New York be described as a ‘salad bowl’?
  4. What are the benefits of taking the Staten Island Ferry?
  5. What is a cronut?

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