Academic English


Level: Topic: Speakers: Length:
difficult homelessness man 02:58

Pre-Listening Exercise

Describe the homeless situation in your community, city, or country? Where do they live, and what kinds of homeless assistance programs exist to serve this population? What are some possible solutions to the problem from an individual or government standpoint?


“be short on cash” = have very little money
Many people are so short on cash that they become homeless and live on the streets.”

“be hard up” = have little or no money
I’m really hard up right now, and I don’t have enough money to rent an apartment or live on my own.”

Listening Exercise

A. Listen to the recording and answer the questions.

What sometimes affects our ability to have compassion for the homeless?

Unfortunately, as human beings, we often come up with overly-simplistic reasons why people live on the streets or in homeless shelters, and this perception often limits our abilities to have real compassion for others.

About ______ people are homeless in the United States.

In just the United States alone, over half a million people are homeless, with about a third of those being children.

About _____ percent of people who are homeless suffer from a mental health issue.

Number two, about one if five people suffer from a mental health issue.

Even though 25% of the homeless have jobs, they ______.

And number four, around a quarter of the homeless are employed, but, unfortunately, the cost of living for many people is just beyond their means and current income.

Randall talks about a time when he and his wife _____.

One time, my wife and I were about to enter a restaurant when a homeless man approached us for money. Trying to set aside any prejudice or preconceived feeling about his intentions, my wife simply invited him to join us for dinner. As it turned out, it was a nice evening. The man shared with us his hopes and dreams, and when our meal was over, we expressed well wishes to him and went home, not really knowing if he had a home to return to as well.

Post-Listening Exercise

What are some ways in which everyday citizens can help meet the needs of the homeless in their area?

Online Investigation

Use the Internet to find the answers to these questions:

  • What local organizations in your area serve the poor and/or homeless?
  • What kinds of services do they provide (e.g., emergency shelter, free meals, food pantries, clothing, and other personal care items, and/or addiction recovery services)?
  • In what ways can people volunteer their time and money to such organizations?