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TEXT 1: From “Important Questions Answered: Is Belgium Still the Chocolate Capital of the World?”

By: Laura Beck, Jezebel, 2012

The BBC reports that countries such as Australia and Japan are rising up through the chocosphere. In fact, the next World Chocolate Masters is happening in Paris in November 2013 and entrants are coming from 20 different countries. Also, how do we all secure tickets to this immediately? My inner Augustus Gloop is literally bursting at the seams with excitement.

As far as the Belgian's packing up their candy thermometers and going back to a time without chocolate, Veerle de Pooter, a magazine writer who has also worked as a chef for the country's federal government, says "Just because one [non-Belgian] chef happens to win a few prizes, sponsored by a chocolate brand, I don't think Belgian chocolatiers should start to quake in their boots." Since only Germany sells more chocolate abroad, I think de Pooter is probably right.

Of course, while Belgium is still Queen de Chocolat, their association with chocolate has terrible roots — cocoa was first shipped from the Congo, one of their African colonies. Not to be a super downer, but as we all know, chocolate can come from some incredibly human-rights-violating sources. When I binge on the good stuff, I stick to the Food Empowerment Project's list of fair-trade chocolatiers that don't fund child slavery. Well, this story took a turn for the worse.

Point is, nobody is the boss when it comes to chocolate, but everyone else is gonna have to really pop-off to officially take the chocolate crown from Belgium. Personally, I hope it's somewhere on the continents of Africa or South America because, you know, that's where the heart of the delicious product comes from.

DO NOT WRITE IN THIS BOOKLET.

Statements 1 through 10 (on your answer sheet circle + if the statement is true, - if it is false)

  1. The World Chocolate Masters is a competition in which chocolatiers compete for international prestige.

  2. This year the World Chocolate Masters will take place in France.

  3. Veerle de Pooter is a French writer and chef.

  4. de Pooter is worried that Belgium is losing its place in the chocolate-making world.

  5. Germany sells the most chocolate internationally.

  6. The cocoa that Belgium uses to make its chocolate comes from South America.

  7. The cocoa used to make chocolate can be controversial because of how the laborers in those countries are treated.

  8. The Food Empowerment Project condemns chocolatiers that don’t fund child slavery.

  9. The author of this article thinks that other countries will have to try very hard to surpass Belgium in its chocolate-making expertise.

  10. The author hopes that Mexico wins the World Chocolate Masters competition this year.

TEXT 2: “The Science and Art of Listening”, The New York Times, Seth S. Horowitz, 2012

Here’s a trick question. What do you hear right now? If your home is like mine, you hear the humming sound of a printer, the low throbbing of traffic from the nearby highway and the clatter of plastic followed by the muffled impact of paws landing on linoleum — meaning that the cat has once again tried to open the catnip container atop the fridge and succeeded only in knocking it to the kitchen floor.

The slight trick in the question is that, by asking you what you were hearing, I prompted your brain to take control of the sensory experience — and made you listen rather than just hear. That, in effect, is what happens when an event jumps out of the background enough to be perceived consciously rather than just being part of your auditory surroundings. The difference between the sense of hearing and the skill of listening is attention.

Hearing is a vastly underrated sense. We tend to think of the world as a place that we see, interacting with things and people based on how they look. Studies have shown that conscious thought takes place at about the same rate as visual recognition, requiring a significant fraction of a second per event. But hearing is a quantitatively faster sense. While it might take you a full second to notice something out of the corner of your eye, turn your head toward it, recognize it and respond to it, the same reaction to a new or sudden sound happens at least 10 times as fast.

This is because hearing has evolved as our alarm system — it operates out of line of sight and works even while you are asleep. And because there is no place in the universe that is totally silent, your auditory system has evolved a complex and automatic “volume control,” fine-tuned by development and experience, to keep most sounds off your cognitive radar unless they might be of use as a signal that something dangerous or wonderful is somewhere within the kilometer or so that your ears can detect.

DO NOT WRITE IN THIS BOOKLET.

Questions 11 through 15 (on your answer sheet circle the correct letter A, B, C, or D)

  1. What does the phrase “hearing has evolved as our alarm system” imply?

A. Hearing can wake us in the morning so we aren’t late to work or school.

B. Hearing allows us to know if there is a burglar in our homes, even if we are not there.

C. Hearing serves to warn humans of danger.

D. Early in human history, humans could not hear well and, as a result, were more relaxed.

  1. Which of the following words does NOT

describe a type of sound?

A. Throbbing

B. Humming

C. Landing

D. Clatter

  1. You pay more attention to sounds when

you are:

A. Hearing.

B. Listening.

C. Thinking.

D. Watching.

14. The word “underrated” means:

A. Not often used.

B. Not appreciated.

C. Not valuable.

D. Not interesting.

15. People can hear sounds:

A. Only when they pay attention.

B. Only when there is danger.

C. Only when they are awake.

D. Even when they are asleep.

TEXT 3: from “Philadelphia”

Source: http://www.englishforeveryone.org/PDFs/Level_8_Passage_3.pdf

Philadelphia is a city known for many things. It is where the Declaration of Independence was signed in 1776, and it was also the first capital of the United States. But one fact about Philadelphia is not so well-known: it is home to nearly 3,000 murals painted on the sides of homes and buildings around the city. In fact, it is said that Philadelphia has more murals than any other city in the world, with the exception of Rome. How did this come to be?

More than 20 years ago, a New Jersey artist named Jane Golden started a program pairing troubled youth with artists to paint murals on a few buildings around the city. From this small project, something magical happened. The young people involved helped to create magnificent pieces of art, but there were other, perhaps more important benefits. The young people learned to collaborate and get along with many different kinds of people during the various steps required to paint and design a mural. They learned to be responsible, because they needed to follow a schedule to make sure the murals were completed. They also learned to take pride in their community. It is hard for any resident to see the spectacular designs and not feel proud to be a part of Philadelphia.

Take a walk around some of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia, neighborhoods full of broken windows and littered front steps, and you will find beautiful works of art on the sides and fronts of buildings. Of course the murals are not just in poor neighborhoods, but more affluent ones as well. Special buses take tourists to different parts of the city to see the various murals, which range from huge portraits of historical heroes, to cityscapes, to scenes depicting the diverse ethnic groups that call Philadelphia home. As a result of its success, the mural program has now become the nation’s largest public art program and a model for other cities throughout the country seeking to help troubled youth.

DO NOT WRITE IN THIS BOOKLET.

Questions 16 through 20 (on your answer sheet circle the correct letter A, B, C, or D)

  1. In the passage, “collaborate” means:

A. To work alone.

B. To work hard.

C. To be creative.

D. To work together.

  1. What was the most important thing this project taught the participants?

A. Painting skills and techniques

B. Responsibility and pride in the city

C. Key historical events and figures

D. The geography of Philadelphia

  1. What is the nationwide impact of this program?

A. There are similar programs in other countries.

B. There are similar programs in other cities.

C. Crime rates are decreasing.

D. There is no nationwide impact.

  1. What is the main idea of the passage?

A. An art program that helps troubled youth

B. Encouraging youth to participate in community service

C. Improving Philadelphia’s tourist industry

D. Inexpensive city beautification

  1. Why did the author describe the “broken steps and littered front steps”?

A. To discourage people from visiting Philadelphia

B. To create a sense of contrast between Rome and Philadelphia

C. To illustrate the contrast of the poorer and wealthier neighborhoods

D. To illustrate the contrast between the beautiful mural and its surrounding

TEXT 4: From “On the Open Road” by Ralph Waldo Trine

Source: http://www.livinglifefully.com/flo/flobeontheopenroad.htm

Our complex modern life, especially in our larger centers, gets us running so many times into grooves that we are prone to miss the all-around, completer life.  We are led at times almost to forget that the stars come nightly to the sky, or even that there is a sky; that there are hedgerows and groves where the birds are always singing and where we can lie on our backs and watch the treetops swaying above us and the clouds floating by an hour or hours at a time; where one can live with his or her soul or, as Whitman has put it, where one can loaf and invite one's soul.

We need changes from the duties and the cares of our accustomed everyday life.  They are necessary for healthy, normal living.  We need occasionally to be away from our friends, our relatives, from the members of our immediate households.  Such changes are good for us; they are good for them.  We appreciate them better, they us, when we are away from them for a period, or they from us.

We need these changes occasionally in order to find new relations.  By such changes there come to our minds more clearly the better qualities of those with whom we are in constant association; we lose sight of the little frictions and irritations that arise; we see how we can be more considerate, appreciative, kind.

DO NOT WRITE IN THIS BOOKLET.

Questions 21 through 25 (on your answer sheet circle the correct letter A, B, C, or D)

  1. The phrase “loaf and invite one’s soul” means:

    1. Relax and get to know yourself.

    2. Allow yourself to be lazy.

    3. Invite your soul over.

    4. Lie around and talk to others.

  1. According to the text, which of these could be an example of “the little frictions and irritations that arise?”

  1. Looking at the stars at night

  2. Taking an exam at school

  3. Disputes at home

  4. Barking dogs

  1. Which statement best summarizes the first paragraph?

  1. People often forget that the stars come out at night, and there are birds always singing.

  2. Our busy lives lead us to forget about the small things and ourselves.

  3. We sometimes forget we have a soul.

  4. Our complex lives are not always as healthy and fulfilling as we think they are.

  1. Which statement best summarizes the second paragraph?

  1. Change helps us to forget what irritates us.

  2. Change helps us find new friends.

  3. We need change to stay healthy and happy.

  4. We need change occasionally to remind us what we appreciate in our everyday lives.

  1. Which statement best summarizes the text?

  1. We need changes from the duties and the cares of our accustomed everyday life.

  2. We need to learn to be more considerate, appreciative, and kind.

  3. By living every day the same we miss everyday things and the opportunity for change.

  4. We need to learn to meet new people and listen to ourselves.

TEXT 5: “Second Languages Slow Brain Decline”

Source: http://news.discovery.com/human/bilingualism-protects-brain-into-old-age-130108.html

A growing number of studies in recent years have pointed to the benefits of bilingualism. There is research to suggest, for example, that people who speak multiple languages are better at other kinds of multi-tasking, too, with the greatest differences showing up youth and in old age. The idea is that, by learning to switch easily between languages, the brain becomes skilled at taking control over the tasks it’s working on at any given moment and at suppressing information it doesn’t need. This sort of cognitive flexibility is important in many areas of life, but it tends to decline with age.

To figure out how exactly bilingualism might boost brain functioning, Gold and colleagues put 80 people in an MRI machine that showed patterns of oxygen flow in their brains as they performed a basic task: While looking at a circle or square that was red or blue, participants pressed a button in response to a question about the object’s shape or color. Participants were split equally between bilinguals and single-language speakers. Half were young adults. The other half were in their 60s.

At first, people answered questions in clusters about an object's shape or its color. When the category switched unpredictably between shape and color, though, it took people longer to react. And, as in previous studies that used this kind of protocol, older people slowed the most. But when the researchers compared the performance of the seniors in the experiment, they found that older people who spoke two languages fluently were faster than their only-English speaking peers at switching from one category to another.

In the brains of the older bilinguals, there was also less activity in the prefontal cortex and anterior cingular cortex -- two areas involved in controlling what the brain is doing, not just regarding language but in general. In other words, the older bilingual brain appears to function more efficiently than the older monolingual brain -- using less energy to complete the same kinds of brain processing tasks. When it came to speed, performance for older bilinguals fell in between that of younger bilinguals and older monolinguals. And the same was true for brain activity, suggesting that speaking two languages doesn’t stop aging-related declines but might help slow down the process.

DO NOT WRITE IN THIS BOOKLET.

Questions 26 through 30 (on your answer sheet circle the correct letter A, B, C, or D)

  1. According to the text, all of these are benefits of bilingualism EXCEPT:

A. You become better at multi-tasking.

B. Your brain uses energy more efficiently

C. The decline of cognitive aging slows down

D. Your memory is improved

  1. What is the function of an MRI machine in the context of this experiment?

A. To record how performing tasks affects oxygen flow to the brain.

B. To show pictures of circles and squares in certain colors representing brain activity.

C. To improve brain function by allowing more oxygen to the brain.

D. To record patterns of electrical activity in the brain.

  1. Why is cognitive flexibility important?

A. It helps us to remember information easier.

B. It helps us perform tasks faster and more efficiently.

C. It helps us differentiate between right and wrong.

D. It helps us be more creative in solving problems.

  1. What are the implications of this study for future generations?

A. The study implies that second languages increase brain activity.

B. The study implies that second languages stop age-related brain decline.

C. The study implies that second languages slow age-related brain decline.

D. There are no implications from this study.

  1. What is true about bilingual brains?

A. There was less activity in the two areas of the brain involved in controlling what the brain is doing.

B. Speaking two languages stops aging related decline.

C. The monolingual brain uses less energy than the bilingual brain to complete the same tasks.

D. Both A and B are true about bilingual brains.

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