Today I would like to test your listening skills with an interesting video from TED. I picked this one because it is actually pretty similar to some of the content in the IELTS listening test. I have written some questions to go along with it. These will help you deal with some of the important skills necessary for IELTS listening success.

First, though, we will learn some vocabulary.

Vocabulary for the Video

innocuouslyAdverb – not harmful or offensive.It began innocuously but before long the virus morphed into something more worrying.
topographyNoun – the arrangement of the natural and artificial physical features of an areaThe map made it look like an easy walk of about five minutes, but that’s because it didn’t show us the topography, which included several huge hills.
apronNoun – a protective garment worn over the front of one’s clothes and tied at the backI always wear an apron when working in the kitchen so that I don’t ruin my clothes.
doughNoun – a thick, malleable mixture of flour and liquid, used for baking into bread or pastryLet’s make pizza dough now and we can roll it out and put the toppings on later when we’re hungry.
squirmingVerb – wriggle or twist the body from side to side, especially as a result of nervousness or discomfortIt’s hard to change a baby when it won’t stop squirming.
proteinNoun – one of the many substances found in foodYou need to eat lots of protein if you want to gain muscle.
squishyAdjective – soft and moistI like cookies when they’re squishy and chewy rather than crunchy.

Watch the Video

Here’s the video. You can listen to it while answering the questions below.

True or False Questions

Listen to the recording and choose whether the following statements are TRUE or FALSE.

  1. When you bake cookies in an oven, you are performing one single chemical reaction.
  2. An emulsion is when you put two substances together that want to be separate.
  3. 142,000 Americans get salmonella each month.
  4. Egg contains several kinds of proteins.
  5. When water evaporates, it leaves holes in the cookie.
  6. Sugar can break apart at high temperatures, causing complex tastes.

Table Completion

Listen again and complete the gaps in this table. Use ONE WORD OR NUMBER from the recording.

92 degrees FahrenheitButter ___7____, making the dough spread. Trapped ____8____ is released.
__9__ degrees FahrenheitSalmonella die off.
144 degrees FahrenheitChanges start to happen with the ____10____, which most comes from eggs.
212 degrees Fahrenheit___11___ boils, causing cracks in the cookie’s surface. Steam makes air pockets that make the cookie ___12___ and flaky.
310 degrees FahrenheitThe Maillard Reaction occurs, making proteins and ___13___ combine.
350 degrees FahrenheitThis is the temperature that your cookie ___14____ may call for.
___15___ degrees FahrenheitCaramelisation begins.

Fill in the Blanks

Start listening from 02:50 and fill in the blanks for this section. Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS OR A NUMBER from the recording.

An estimated ____16_____ Americans are infected this way each year. Though salmonella can live ___17___ outside a living body and even survive freezing, 136 degrees is too hot for them. When your ____18____ reaches that temperature, they die off. You’ll live to test your fate with a bite of raw dough you sneak from your ____19____. At 144 degrees, changes begin in the proteins, which come mostly from the eggs in your dough. Eggs are ____20____ dozens of different kinds of proteins, each sensitive to a different temperature. In an egg fresh from the hen, these proteins look like coiled up ____21____. When they’re exposed to heat energy, the protein strings unfold and get tangled up with their ____22___. This linked structure makes the runny egg nearly solid, giving substance to squishy dough.



  1. F – it is “a series of chemical reactions,” not just one
  2. T -it is a “mixture of two substances that don’t want to stay together”
  3. F – this is the estimated number per year
  4. F – they contain “dozens of different kinds of proteins”
  5. T – it causes “airy pockets”
  6. T – he said that “sugar molecules break down under high heat, forming the sweet, nutty, and slightly bitter flavor compounds”

Table Completion

  • melts
  • water
  • 136
  • protein
  • water
  • light
  • sugars
  • recipe
  • 356

Fill in the Blanks

  1. 142,000
  2. for weeks
  3. dough
  4. next batch
  5. composed of
  6. balls of string
  7. neighbors


You can learn how to talk about cooking in this video:

There’s also a lesson on cooking here.