This lesson is designed to build your critical-thinking skills in English as you read, listen, and answer different types of comprehension and discussion questions.
Although these questions are related to classroom instruction, independent learners can reflect on the ideas and topic to prepare for the listening portion of the lesson.
Horses on a Farm
Listen and read the story and answer the questions. Key vocabulary words are marked in bold.
A language activity at Randall’s ESL Cyber Listening Lab.
There was a young man named Paul from Paris, whose idea of a wild night out involved strolling the vibrant streets of Paris and sipping espresso at a trendy cafe. But destiny had other plans for him when he signed up for a language program at a small community college in Wyoming in the United States.
Little did he know that his adventure would take him to a ranch in the heart of cowboy country, far away from the bustling nightlife he was used to.
When Paul arrived at the ranch, he was greeted by the warm hospitality of the Smith family, his host family for the duration of his language program. The Smiths were true Wyoming ranchers, with boots worn from years of hard work, and a ranch dog named Buck that greeted Paul with a slobbery, enthusiastic welcome.
As Paul settled into his new surroundings, he couldn’t help but be stunned by the vast expanse of the Wyoming landscape. No chic boutiques, no Eiffel Tower, just endless prairies and the towering Rocky Mountains. It was a far cry from the Parisian streets he knew so well.
During his first night, as Paul stared out at the vast starlit sky, he realized that there was no light pollution to obscure the beauty of the constellations. He was so used to the city lights that the sheer brilliance of the night sky overwhelmed him. The Milky Way seemed to stretch across the heavens like a river of diamonds, and Paul couldn’t help but feel small amidst the grandeur of nature.
Over the next few days, Paul discovered that life on the ranch was very different from his urban lifestyle. He was taught how to ride horses by Mr. Smith, and though Paul fancied himself quite the equestrian in his mind, he quickly learned that staying on a horse’s back was far trickier than he’d imagined. Paul held on for dear life each time the horse trotted, looking like a bobblehead doll on a wild ride.
The Smiths introduced Paul to their ranch chores, which included feeding the animals, mending fences, and even milking cows. Paul’s attempts at milking were both comical and disastrous as he struggled to find the rhythm, and the cow seemed to give him skeptical looks.
One evening, as the Smiths gathered around the campfire to swap stories and sing cowboy songs, Paul attempted to teach them a bit of French culture. He taught them a few basic French phrases, and they were amused by his attempts at a Wyoming-French accent fusion. Soon enough, they were all laughing heartily, bonding over their differences and shared experiences.
As the days turned into weeks, Paul gradually adapted to ranch life. He began to appreciate the simplicity of the countryside, the genuine friendships he had formed, and the slower pace of life that allowed him to savor each moment.
One night, under a sky filled with twinkling stars, Paul had an epiphany. He realized that amidst the cows and horses, the wide-open spaces, and endless skies, he had discovered a part of himself that he never knew existed.- He discovered that he could embrace a different way of life and find joy in the simplicity of ranch chores and starry nights.
As his time at the ranch came to an end, Paul bid farewell to the Smith family with a heavy heart. He promised to return one day, bringing his newfound appreciation for cowboy culture back to Paris.
When Paul returned to Paris, his friends and family couldn’t believe the transformation. Gone was the city slicker who was afraid to get his hands dirty. In his place was a man who had learned to find humor and joy in the most unexpected places.
And so, the tale of Paul from Paris and his Wyoming ranch adventure became a legend among his friends. They would often gather at cafes, sipping espresso and listening to Paul’s wild and humorous stories of the cowboy life he had once lived.
And while Paris would always hold a special place in his heart, a part of him would forever belong to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming and the Smith family, who taught him that sometimes, the best discoveries are the ones you never knew existed, in many ways, right before your eyes.
1: What was Paul’s hometown before he came to Wyoming?
A) New York City
2: What was the dog’s name that greeted Paul at the ranch?
3: What activity did Paul struggle with during his time at the ranch?
A) Milking cows
B) Riding horses
C) Mending fences
D) Feeding the animals
4: What did Paul discover about himself while on the ranch?
A) He had a fear of horses.
B) He missed the city life of Paris.
C) He was a skilled equestrian.
D) He could appreciate the simplicity of ranch life.
5: What did Paul promise to do after his time on the ranch?
A) Teach the Smiths French phrases
B) Never return to Wyoming
C) Bring his newfound appreciation for cowboy culture back to Paris
D) Learn how to ride horses professionally
Question 1: What was Paul’s hometown before he came to Wyoming?
Answer: B) Paris
Explanation: In the story, Paul is introduced as a young man from Paris who finds himself on a ranch in Wyoming, far away from his bustling city life.
Question 2: What was the dog’s name that greeted Paul at the ranch?
Answer: B) Buck
Explanation: The story mentions that Paul was greeted by a slobbery, enthusiastic welcome from a ranch dog named Buck.
Question 3: What activity did Paul struggle with during his time at the ranch?
Answer: A) Milking cows
Explanation: Paul’s attempts at milking cows were described as both comical and disastrous as he struggled to find the rhythm, making it clear that this was the activity he had difficulty with.
Question 4: What did Paul discover about himself while on the ranch?
Answer: D) He could appreciate the simplicity of ranch life
Explanation: As the days turned into weeks, Paul found himself gradually adapting to ranch life and appreciating the countryside, forming genuine friendships, and embracing the slower pace of life. He discovered a part of himself that he never knew existed.
Question 5: What did Paul promise to do after his time on the ranch?
Answer: C) Bring his newfound appreciation for cowboy culture back to Paris
Explanation: Upon bidding farewell to the Smith family, Paul promised to return one day, bringing back his newfound appreciation for cowboy culture to share with his friends and family in Paris.
Throughout his Wyoming adventure, Paul went through a transformative experience, learning to embrace and appreciate the simplicity of ranch life and forming genuine connections with the Smith family and their cowboy culture. His time on the ranch allowed him to discover a side of himself that he never knew existed, making his journey from Paris to Wyoming a humorous and heartwarming tale of personal growth and cultural exchange.
Intermediate (Analyze and Interpret):
Difficult (Analyze and Interpret):
Interpersonal Learning Activity – Cultural Exchange Panel Discussion:
Objective: Students will engage in a panel discussion to explore the significance of cultural exchange and its impact on personal growth.
a) Form a panel consisting of students who will represent different characters from the story, including Paul, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Paul’s friends in Paris.
b) Facilitate a discussion where the panelists share their perspectives on cultural exchange and its effect on Paul’s character development.
c) Encourage the rest of the class to ask questions and engage in the discussion by raising cultural awareness and drawing parallels to real-life situations.
d) After the panel discussion, lead a class reflection on the importance of embracing different cultures and experiences.