Texts for listening comprehension and oral translation

Unit 1. Computer Applications

You are now going to hear a lecturer describing to students how a computer may be useful to them.


Well, you'll notice that I've drawn a computer in the centre, and radiating out from it are lines leading to some of the subjects that we teach here. Let’s have a look at each one in turn.

First, Languages. Well, you'll be submitting quite a lot of written work and we encourage you to use a word processor. This is much like using a typewriter except it's more forgiving when you make a mistake. In fact, editing text can be quite enjoyable when you use a word processor.

Secondly, History. Essays again, of course, but also we'll expect you to gain some familiarity with historical databases.

What about Engineering? Well, you must learn to use our Computer Aided Design software, both for producing technical drawings and for helping with the design process generally.

Financial packages are very important for Business Studies. But also, we set great store by the use of simulations. Uh, you can think of these, in your case, as computerized business games where a group of you manage the finances and so on of an imaginary company. You'll also need to know about databases and spreadsheets. A spreadsheet, by the way, is a sort of super-calculator, except you can enter formulae as well as numbers — it's ideal for financial planning.

Social scientists — you'll find yourselves using the computer to analyse the results of surveys, and there are several statistical packages designed for this purpose.

Scientists in general are likely to want to learn programming. Sometimes you'll be able to buy software off the shelf, but very often you'll have your own requirements and then you'll have to program the computer yourself.

Last, but not least — Computer Science . . . If you're studying to be a computer scientist then you need some familiarity with all the things I've just mentioned. In addition, you'll have to learn in detail about things like operating systems and so on . . .

Well, that's all for this session but there's one application you're all likely to find useful, and that's Desk Top Publishing. For example. Figure 1 that you've been looking at, took me a few minutes to produce, using a desk top publishing package. The result's much neater than I could've achieved by hand.

Unit 2. Computer Languages

You are now going to hear a conversation between two friends. One of them has been studying computers for some time. The other is a beginner.

Unit 3. Understanding a lecture: Artificial Intelligence

One huge advantage of robots is that they can work in dirty or dangerous conditions. It is obviously much easier to replace a robot than a human life. The army use robots to investigate bombs and make them safe. Cars are often left filled with explosives and booby trapped. A moving robot can be steered by remote control and used to view the inside of the car. Robots can also be used under water where they can work for a much longer time than a human being would be able to. They are used for inspecting underwater structures such as drilling platforms and can be very useful in recovering ships which have sunk or aircraft that have crashed into the sea. I have here a film I thought you might like to see . . .

Unit 4. Operating systems

1. Understanding a lecture

So, just a final word to recap on operating systems. There are at least six different operating systems available for use with microcomputers. As we said, it is the operating system that determines which software can be run on the computer. For example, a system with a CP/M operating system will not be able to run the software written for an MS/DOS based system. This is because these operating systems are different.

However, operating systems themselves are not compatible with every computer. They are generally designed for specific computers and certain CPUs. In addition, just because a program is a CPU/M does not mean that it will run on any CP/M system. Programs have to be formatted for a specific computer. As you know, programs are stored on disk in the form of files, and a disk formatted (or initialised) for one system cannot usually be used on another computer. When a disk is formatted it becomes dedicated to that system. Any programs or data files stored on that disk are therefore not transferable to another system without the use of additional software called file transfer programs. Hardware in the form of a connecting (interface) cable is also required to link the machines. Fortunately the ports on the CPUs for connecting these cables have been standardised and most systems come equipped with such a port, generally called an RS-232 port.

2. Understanding discourse: Mysterious Letters

Telephone ringing

K. Hello, 725255.

T. Kaleni, hi, it’s Tariq. Sorry I can’t come to the Caribbean restaurant. I’m behind with my notes so I’ll have to stay in and try to catch up. Tell the others I’m sorry.

K. Fine, I’ll do that. But it’s a pity. Anyway, what’s the problem now?

T. Well, I seem to have the numbers under control, now it’s the mysterious letters.

K. What???

T. You Know, ROM and RAM and COM and CAM, it’s like a foreign language!

K. They’re acronyms – words made out of the initial letters of something.

T. I know that, but it’s the spelling that really bothers me. I know ROM is read only memory. How do you spell memory?

K. M-E-M-O- R- Y.


K. Computer Aided Manufacture. That’s spelt …

T. How about DOS?

K. Disk Operating System. That’s D-I-S-K…

T. Have you come across EAROM?

K. Oh yes. That’s Electronically Alterable ROM.

T. How about GIGO?

K. Something you certainly need to know – Garbage in – garbage out.

T. Oh, nicecompliment. Now, today I came across MISP. Any idea? Oh Kaleni, the pips are going and I haven’t any m…

K. Microelectronics Industry Support Programme (pip pip pip…)

Unit 5. New Online Trading Information System Sees Early Successes

The rise of the Internet has transformed the markets of the world.

Long gone are the days of frantic floor-trading. In their place are the days of cyber-trading. Ukrainian traders are also doing business in cyber-space.

Under the direction of an American company called Unistar LLC, Ukraine’s Epsilon Corporation launched http://www.wallstreet.com.ua, an online trading system, in November 1999. In a few short months, the use of their system in the Ukrainian trading market has sky-rocketed.

“Shares in all the big companies, including the oblenergos and the Mykolayiv Alumina Plant, are traded via our system,” said Wallstreet.com.ua director Valery Baberza.

Unlike Western online trading sites, Wallstreet.com.ua is merely an information-based Web site allowing traders to post their offers and bids.

“For now, our Web site is only an information system,” Baberza said. “It’s not a full-fledged trading system as of yet. Most people in Ukraine don’t have the money yet to pay for such a system.”

Another problem is the high cost of an Internet connection in Ukraine. Unlike in many Western countries, in Ukraine, in addition to paying the Internet provider for basic services, you also end up paying for local phone calls when connecting to a server.

Unit 6. Smart House

Computers and sensors linked by miles of wire and electronic adapters, enable the smart house to control security systems, entertainment centers, appliances, lights, blinds, heating and cooling systems, swimming pool systems, and other systems that can be activated by electrical apparatus. The goal of a smart house is to coordinate all domestic systems to minimize the expenditure of energy and maximize the comfort of its occupants. The central computer, called a controller, ties everything together. We

interact with the home automation system via telephone, hand-held remotes, keypads, touch screen televisions, and voice commands.

Do you want your home warm and cozy when you return from a trip? Just head for the nearest phone booth, call your smart house’s controller, and tell it to turn up the heat. Do you want your washing machine to turn itself on at a time when electricity costs less? Just tell the controller when you want it to start.

In Japan, an experimental smart house has been built that seems warm and inviting — anything but technological. It, in fact, is filled with dozens of hidden sensors monitoring temperature, humidity, airflow, carbon dioxide, and even human presence in the house. Its sensors are part of a network linking three PCs with appliances, motor-driven windows and blinds, humidifiers, and so on.

There are lots of possibilities with a smart house. If the homeowner selects the “going out” mode on the master panel, the computer can arm the security system and adjust the lighting and ventilation systems. If it’s time to celebrate at home instead of going out, the “party” setting might close the drapes, adjust the lighting, and tune in background music — all from one switch in the living room. The controller can be programmed to create whatever mood you want.

Research in Holland reflects environmental concerns. On the roof of a smart house, a tunnel-like structure collects rainwater, which is sent to a holding tank. The water collected is used to flush the toilets and water the garden. It reduces the need to use costly drinking-quality water when rainwater is more appropriate.

A solar boiler heats washing and bath water in the smart house, and a row of photo-voltaic panels collects solar energy to change batteries for emergency power. Gas, electricity, and water meters are integrated with the controller so that utilities and homeowners can monitor consumption.

Smart house technology isn’t just a luxury for the wealthy. Those who are energy savers and environmentally minded will probably end up using at least some smart house features in their own homes.

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