The Physical World Quiz

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Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. You can find a transcript of this podcast on There’s a page for this podcast with the transcript, an activity and a task for you to do in the comments section.

OK – I know I’m in the middle of a series of podcasts on talking about people with language you can use in the speaking part of an IELTS test, but I’ve had a couple of comments from learners who say they don’t understand so I’m going to do an A2 podcast. I’ll get back to the IELTS language after this and I’ll do a podcast or two on science after that, but today I’m going to do a quiz. Well, you’re going to do a quiz. I’m going to describe a feature of the physical world, this might be something you can find on a map or perhaps a geological feature. I think these will be quite easy so this will be revision for most people. If there is much new language here for you, then you should check out the transcript on the Learn English Vocabulary website.

OK … The Physical World – Question 1

The first word I’m looking for means a lot of water. It’s really the biggest measure of water there is, even bigger than a sea. There are 5 of these on the planet. I’m not really sure how geographers decide what makes one of these, but it has something to do with currents that is the movements of water. Do you know the word I’m looking for?

The five of these are the southern, the arctic, the Indian, the Atlantic and the Pacific. 

OK … I’m sure you know now. The answer is ocean. This is slightly tricky because it’s written o c e a n and I’ve heard some people try to pronounce it osee an – but we just say oh shun. 

The Physical World – Question 2

The word I am looking for this time is used to describe something that you might find in an ocean. Australia is a really big one of these. Indonesia is an archipelago made up of thousands, over 17,000 of these. I have read about some spectacularly beautiful places in Vietnam and would love to visit Cat Ba, I’m probably saying that horribly which has some amazing examples of this word.

Have you worked out what word I am looking for? The answer is island. This also has a tricky spelling that might be difficult for beginners and A2 learners. It’s I land, but it’s written is land. Was that too easy? How about something a bit more difficult?

The Physical World – Question 3

The word I’m looking for now describes a large area of land. There are seven of these on the planet. The largest is Asia, then Africa, then North America, then South America, then Antarctica, then Europe – I didn’t know Antarctica is larger than Europe, then Australia. I think if you include Newzealand with Australia and some of the other islands, you can refer to the area as Oceania, but I’m not sure if that still counts as one of the word I’m looking for. Do you know the word I’m looking for? The answer is continent. The stress is on the first syllable so it’s con te nent – normally continent.

The Physical World – Question 4 

This next word is a place. A hot place where it never rains. I think the geographical definition of this place describes the amount of rain that falls there. When most people think of these places, they think of sand dunes, big piles of sand arranged like waves, but most of these places are dry scratchy landscapes with stones and not a lot else. Also, you get camels in these places. Have you worked it out? Was this one too easy?

The answer is desert. The only thing to be careful about with this word is the stress. It’s on the first syllable. DESert. If you say the word with the stress on the second syllable dessert, then it means the sweet course you sometimes eat at the end of a meal. The Sahara Desert is one of the hottest places on the planet. The Sahara dessert is probably something with figs and yoghurt. 

The Physical World – Question 5

This is an easy one. It’s a natural channel of water that runs from the land to the sea. The Nile is the longest of these. The Amazon is longer as a system, that is, if you include all the tributaries and … well the other channels of water that flow into it. This word commonly goes with the verb flow. The Thames flows through London, for example.

What word am I describing? The answer is river. 

The Physical World – Question 6

This time I’m looking for a word for a tropical forest. When I was younger, I watched a documentary about a woman who was in a plane crash in the Amazon which is a massive one of these. This woman had to walk for days and was attacked by horrible insects and I swore to myself that I would never go to one of these places. And then, I was working in Medan in Indonesia and could ride up to a wildlife reserve which was basically one of these places and the animals and birds and the plants were amazing. I loved it – it really was one of the best places I’ve ever visited. 

OK – this time I really spoke about me more than the place, but have you worked out what physical world word I am looking for ?

The answer is jungle. Jungle is a lovely word to say – it sounds like something from a children’s story. The jungle. 

The Physical World – Question 7

This is an easy one. This is a big hill. A really big hill. I’m not sure what the difference is between a really big hill and one of these. I think some of it depends on where you’re from. We don’t really have many of these in the UK. I just did some research and in lots of places, a peak above 2,500 metres is one of these. In the UK, the highest peak is Ben Nevis in Scotland which is only 1,345 metres so we start using this word to talk about hills that are taller than 600 metres. When I was 19, I visited Nepal and got to see the himalayas which was amazing and I always swore I would go back. Maybe next year…

Have you worked out what I am describing? The answer is mountain.

The Physical World – Question 8

OK … The last word I’m looking for today is similar to mountain. It’s like an angry mountain. Actually, it’s like a smelly angry mountain. The first one of these I saw was in Sicily. It’s called Mount Etna and I first saw it when I was on a train and it was amazing. It looked just like a drawing in a book. I climbed up the side of one of these in Indonesia and the smell was amazing. You could actually taste the sulfur in the air. When these mountains get really angry, they erupt. Sometimes this means they spill out some hot melted rock or lava. We can actually use the adjective molten for rock or metal. Lava is molten rock. When one of these erupts violently, you can get an explosion and the mountain is completely blown up and all you are left with is a crater like the one in Santorini in Greece.

OK … have you worked out the last physical world word that I am looking for today? 

The answer is volcano. 

For listeners who are newer to English, I hope you understood more of the podcast today. For more advanced learners, I hope you enjoyed the quiz all the same and had some listening practice. The next podcast will include more advanced language as I’m going back to the 5 main personality traits and will be talking about language related to openness to experience and words like inventive and curious.

I hope you have enjoyed this podcast. If there are any topics or songs or scenes from a film that you would like me to talk about or anything else you would like to hear, I would be delighted to make a podcast for you. So please visit and say hello.

Thanks for listening.

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