Today, we are going to look at a short video from TED, by Jennifer Lee. This is not a typical TED Talk and I think you will probably find it a little easier. However, this is the sort of language and pacing that you would more commonly encounter during the IELTS listening test, so I think it is suitable.

In this lesson, you will be challenged to do some practice listening questions.


First of all, it’s worth learning a little vocabulary about food and cooking. You can find some detailed lessons here and here. They will give you some advanced vocabulary for those two topics.

From this video, however, we are going to look at eight words.

  • utensil
  • no-no
  • echo
  • sphere
  • commonplace
  • diplomatic
  • energy-efficient
  • communal

Now, try to match the words to their definitions:

  1. requiring the expenditure of less effort or power
  2. not unusual; ordinary
  3. shared by all members of a community; for common use
  4. a sound or series of sounds caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface back to the listener
  5. a thing that is not possible or acceptable
  6. an area of activity, interest, or expertise
  7. concerning the profession, activity, or skill of managing international relations
  8. an implement, container, or other article, especially for household use

Note: Answers are at the bottom of the page.

Listening Practice

First of all, you can watch the video. It is very short, so it won’t take you long. Don’t worry about understanding everything… it’s not important. Just get a sense of the main idea.

Answering Questions

Let’s do some very general listening practice first. I would like you to listen from 0:14 to about 0:34. These are not real IELTS questions, so don’t worry about writing a certain number of words. By the way, you can find the answers at the bottom of the page.

  1. What materials are chopsticks made from?
  2. What can you eat with chopsticks?
  3. What things shouldn’t you do with them?

Fill the Gap

Ok, let’s do some more realistic IELTS-style listening questions. Fill in the blanks on the passage below. Pay attention to spelling and do not write more than three words and/or a number. Start listening at about 0:57.

Chopsticks are used in a ____1____ of the world, across much of Asia, about ____2____ are covered in the chopsticks sphere. Different cultures have slightly different _____3_____. Chinese chopsticks will tend to be long and round, Korean chopsticks are ____4____ and often made of metal and Japanese chopsticks tend to be round and ______5______.
While chopsticks are actually really _____6_____ in American society today, there was definitely a time in ______7_____ where this idea that Asian men, because they ate rice with sticks, were of a different quality than American men, who ate proper meat with a ______8_____. But when China and the United States began their ______9______ in the 1970s, Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, had to practice eating with chopsticks. What’s been really interesting to see is that as _______10______ has moved from the East into the West, chopsticks have become part of the experience.

True or False?

Let’s now do some typical true or false questions. Listen from 01:53 to the end of the passage and decide whether these statements are true or false:

  1. Chopsticks are known to have been used 5,000 years ago.
  2. They were used in cooking to avoid people getting hurt.
  3. Asian food is normally presented in big pieces.
  4. Chopsticks influence the size of food that is cooked.
  5. There is a communal style of dining in Asia.
  6. It is said that in hell, everyone has to feed each other.



  1. energy-efficient
  2. commonplace
  3. communal
  4. echo
  5. no-no
  6. sphere
  7. diplomatic
  8. utensils

Listening – first general questions

  1. Wood, plastic, bamboo, jade, gold, silver, ivory
  2. Small bits of food, noodles, rice, dumplings, meat
  3. Hold them like drumsticks; put them facing up in a bowl

Fill in the Gaps

  1. huge portion
  2. 1.5 billion people
  3. variations of chopsticks
  4. flatter
  5. very, very pointy
  6. commonplace
  7. the late 1800s
  8. knife and fork
  9. diplomatic engagement
  10. Asian cuisine


  1. False
  2. True
  3. False
  4. True
  5. True
  6. False