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My Poland Vacation (English Listening and Reading Comprehension Practice)



Recommended level: Upper intermediate / Advanced


This resource can be used for English listening or reading comprehension practice, or both. The choice is yours. You can find the vocabulary list, comprehension questions, and discussion questions at the bottom of this resource. If you are a teacher using this text in a classroom, pre-teaching the vocabulary is recommended. Now, let's listen.


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Listening and Reading Text


This summer, my family and I went on a three-week vacation to the country of my birth, Poland. It was my first time there in seven years. The reason for the vacation? My grandma was turning 90 years old, and I couldn't miss that. I also still have lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins living there, and it's always nice to check in with family you haven't seen or talked to in a long time.


Anyway, while my time with my family members was great, and my grandma's birthday party was a success, I will also remember the little things from my vacation. For one thing, because I was staying in a small village in the southern part of the country, there were wild flowers growing everywhere. The one wild flower that I will forever associate with my time there is the poppy. I don't see a lot of poppies where I live in Canada, so this red flower really stood out to me when I was exploring around the neighbourhood. Later, I found out that the red poppy is actually the national flower of Poland!


Another thing that I will remember from this vacation is the forests. The trees in the forests are so tall! But that's not the only thing that left an impression on me. I have a vivid memory of walking to one of my cousins' houses. Part of the road to the house ran through a small part of a forest. I remember entering this section of the road and only hearing the sounds of birds and the wind rustling through the high branches above. There were no sounds of cars or other machines. It was serene, and it left an impression on me because I live in a suburb in Canada, where it's hard to find that level of peace and quiet.


Oh! Speaking of things I don't usually see, I won't forget the storks that I saw in Poland. We have a lot of different birds where I live in Canada, but we definitely don't have storks, at least not in my area. Apparently, a quarter of the world's white stork population flies to Poland every year. They don't deliver babies like they do in children's stories, but they do look majestic, whether they are standing in a field or soaring through the air.


Finally, my family and I visited several touristic places on our vacation, but the one we will probably remember most is the city of Krakow. This is a city which is rich in history and which has some of the most breathtaking architecture and scenery in the whole country. Not to mention a famous dragon statue that actually breathes fire! Krakow, and Poland in general, also has the most delicious ice cream I've ever had. If you're ever in Krakow, I recommend going to the Old Town and looking for any place that serves świderki, which are tall, twisted ice cream treats that are popular in many parts of Europe.


To be honest, I definitely ate more ice cream than I should have while I was in Poland, but I don't regret it at all, and I can't wait to go back as soon as possible. The only downside of taking a three-week vacation in a country that has a six-hour time difference? The jetlag. I'm still tired even though I've been home for over a week. Even so, jetlag is a small price to pay for creating so many memories.


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Vocabulary


check in [with someone] (phrasal verb) - to meet and/or talk to someone to get new information from them about something, or to learn how they are doing

"I haven't talked to Silvia in three weeks. I should check in to see how she's doing."


the little things (noun phrase) - things that don't seem important, but which leave an impression or which are actually important

"He's not a good boss because he always forgets to do the little things like send an email to congratulate someone."


wild flowers (n.) - flowers which grow freely without human intervention

"Their town has a lot of beautiful wild flowers growing everywhere."


poppy (n.) - a red flower from which opium can be extracted

"The national flower of Poland is the poppy."


leave an impression [on someone] (collocation) - to be memorable; to cause someone to remember someone or something because of a particular quality or experience someone had with someone or something (also: "make an impression [on someone]")

"She got the job because she left a really positive impression on me after her interview."

run through [somewhere] (phrasal verb) - to move, flow, or cut through or across a particular place

"The river runs through the entire country."


rustle (v.) - to make a soft, crackling sound, like dry leaves on paper

"The leaves rustled gently in the wind."


serene (adj.) - calm, quiet, peaceful

"The atmosphere inside the yoga studio was serene."


a suburb (n.) - a residential district that is just outside a city; a place where people live that is close to a major city

"I don't live downtown. I live in a suburb to the west of the city."


stork (n.) - a type of bird with a long beak. In children's stories, it delivers babies

"You can find a variety of storks in Africa, Asia, and Europe."


a quarter (n.) - 25 percent; one-fourth

"The government takes more than a quarter of my annual salary."


majestic (adj.) - having great beauty and/or dignity

"Elephants are some of the most majestic animals on earth."


soar (v.) - to fly high in the air

"We saw a bunch of birds soar over the building."


breathtaking (adj.) - astonishing; incredible; impressive in a way that takes a person's breath away

"When we got to the top of the mountain, we could look down and see the entire city. It was breathtaking."


dragon (n.) - a large, lizard-like creature popularized by fantasy literature and fairy tales

"If I ever saw a dragon in real life, I'd probably run for my life."


twisted (adj.) - turned or bent; forced out of its natural shape

"I twisted my arm in the car crash."


downside (n.) - a negative aspect of something

"One of the downsides of living here is that it's very expensive."


jetlag (n.) - a sleep problem that occurs because of switching time zones; fatigue caused by switching time zones

"I'm still dealing with jetlag. I hope it doesn't last much longer."


a small price to pay (noun phrase) - an insignificant cost for a greater benefit

"Moving to another country and learning a new language is a small price to pay for personal peace."


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Comprehension


1. How long was the vacation?

a) One week.

b) Two weeks.

c) Three weeks.

3) Four weeks.


2. What was the main reason for the vacation?

a) To vote in an election.

b) To celebrate a birthday.

c) To visit an old friend.

d) To look for a house to buy.


3. Where did Alex stay while he was in Poland?

a) In a city in the west.

b) In a village in the south.

c) In a city in the center of the country.

d) In a village in the north.


4. Which wild flowers are mentioned?

a) Chamomile.

b) Poppies.

c) Daisies.

d) Lavender.


5. What did Alex hear in the forest?

a) Birds.

b) Squirrels.

c) Cars.

d) Deer.


6. According to what Alex has read, what percentage of the world's white stork population flies to Poland every year?

a) 50%

b) 33%

c) 75%

d) 25%


7. What does the dragon statue do in Krakow?

a) It breathes fire.

b) It roars.

c) It moves its arms.

d) Nothing.


8. What was the only downside of Alex's vacation?

a) The price of plane tickets.

b) Losing his luggage.

c) The jetlag after returning home.

d) Eating too much ice cream.


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Answers

1. c

2. b

3. b

4. b

5. a

6. d

7. a

8. c


Discussion questions


Think about a place you have traveled to. What small thing(s) left an impression on you from that place?


How do you feel about the idea of traveling alone to another country? Would you ever do it? Have you done it before?


What's one of the best travel experiences you've ever had? What's one of the worst? What happened?


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