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Tightrope Walker Breaks World Record (30th August, 2010)


 

A death defying feat took place on August 28 more than 26 stories above the ground in the Bahamas. Nik Wallenda, 31, a.k.a. The King of The High Wire, broke the Guinness World Record for the highest bicycle ride without a safety net. Crowds watched with their hearts in their mouths 79 metres below as Nik cycled 31 metres between two towers of the luxury Atlantis resort. As if this wasn’t enough of an adrenalin rush for him, he also decided to go for a 610-metre, 20-minute walk along the high wire, a dizzying 76 metres up. This broke his own personal best distance. Nik described it after as “the longest walk of my life”. He decided to make the walk just a little scarier by walking above an enclosed ocean pool full of sharks and piranhas.


Mr Wallenda is a seventh generation high wire star. He comes from a long line of aerial trapeze performers and acrobats that dates back to 1780. He is the great-grandson of the legendary Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death during a high wire walk in Puerto Rico in 1978 aged 73. Nik told reporters: "Against all odds I walked on that wire today. There was lightning in the area, high winds, and it was the first walk without my father. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life…But my family history and my family tradition is that the show must go on." He also spoke about his future plans: "I want to be the first person in the world to walk across the Grand Canyon, and I have the permit to do it," he said.


 
 

WARM-UPS

1. WORLD RECORDS: Walk around the class and talk to other students about world records. Change partners often. Sit with your first partner(s) and share your findings.

2. CHAT: In pairs / groups, decide which of these topics or words from the article are most interesting and which are most boring.

 

death defying / high wire / world records / safety net / adrenalin / personal best / generations / performers / acrobats / lightning / against all odds / decisions / plans

Have a chat about the topics you liked. Change topics and partners frequently.

3. DEATH DEFYING FEATS: Think of some. Complete this table with your partner(s). Change partners and share what you wrote. Change and share again.

Feat involving…

The feat is

The (imaginary) record is…

water

 

 

curry

 

 

mice

 

 

a mountain

 

 

the cold

 

 

a mobile phone

 

 

4. HIGH WIRE: Students A strongly believe being a high wire tightrope walker would be a great job; Students B strongly disagree.  Change partners again and talk about your conversations.

5. CIRCUS: Which of these would you do? Rank them and share your rankings with your partner. Put the best at the top. Change partners and share your rankings again.

  • Tightrope walker
  • Trapeze artist
  • Lion tamer
  • Clown
  • Fire eater
  • Magician
  • Human cannonball
  • Escapologist

6. TIGHTROPE: Spend one minute writing down all of the different words you associate with the word ‘tightrope’. Share your words with your partner(s) and talk about them. Together, put the words into different categories.


 
 

BEFORE READING / LISTENING

1. TRUE / FALSE: Read the headline. Guess if  a-h  below are true (T) or false (F).

a.

A tightrope artist broke a world record over 26 floors up in the air.

T / F

b.

The man rode a bicycle on a tightrope between two hotels.

T / F

c.

The man also broke the world record for the longest tightrope walk.

T / F

d.

The man walked 76 metres above sharks and piranha fish.

T / F

e.

The man’s family started performing in the 18th century.

T / F

f.

His grandfather fell to his death from a high wire when he was 73.

T / F

g.

The high wire artist said to go for the record was an easy decision.

T / F

h.

The man has authorization to walk the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.

T / F

2. SYNONYM MATCH: Match the following synonyms from the article.

1.

feat

a.

length

2

stories

b.

license

3.

rush

c.

achievement

4.

distance

d.

artists

5.

enclosed

e.

high

6.

performers

f.

vicinity

7.

legendary

g.

custom

8.

area

h.

floors

9.

tradition

i.

famous

10.

permit

j.

shut in

3. PHRASE MATCH:  (Sometimes more than one choice is possible.)

1.

A death defying

a.

all odds

2

watched with their hearts

b.

pool full of sharks

3.

an adrenalin

c.

best distance

4.

This broke his own personal

d.

back to 1780

5.

an enclosed ocean

e.

in their mouths

6.

a seventh

f.

must go on

7.

dates

g.

feat took place on August 28

8.

Against

h.

decisions I ever made

9.

one of the hardest

i.

generation high wire star

10.

the show

j.

rush

 

WHILE READING / LISTENING

GAP FILL: Put the words into the gaps in the text.

A death ____________ feat took place on August 28 more than 26 ____________ above the ground in the Bahamas. Nik Wallenda, 31, a.k.a. The King of The High Wire, broke the Guinness World Record for the highest bicycle ride without a ____________ net. Crowds watched with their hearts in their mouths 79 metres below as Nik cycled 31 metres between two towers of the ____________ Atlantis resort. As if this wasn’t enough of an ____________ rush for him, he also decided to go for a 610-metre, 20-minute walk along the high wire, a ____________ 76 metres up. This broke his own ____________ best distance. Nik described it after as “the longest walk of my life”. He decided to make the walk just a little ____________ by walking above an enclosed ocean pool full of sharks and piranhas.

 

 

 

dizzying
luxury
stories
scarier
adrenalin
defying
personal
safety

Mr Wallenda is a seventh ____________ high wire star. He comes from a long line of ____________ trapeze performers and acrobats that dates back to 1780. He is the great-grandson of the ____________ Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death during a high wire walk in Puerto Rico in 1978 aged 73. Nik told reporters: "Against all ____________ I walked on that wire today. There was lightning in the ____________, high winds, and it was the first walk without my father. It was one of the hardest ____________ I ever made in my life…But my family history and my family ____________ is that the show must go on." He also spoke about his future plans: "I want to be the first person in the world to walk across the Grand Canyon, and I have the ____________ to do it," he said.

 

 

area
legendary
permit
odds
generation
tradition
aerial
decisions

LISTENING – Listen and fill in the gaps

A death ________________________ on August 28 more than 26 stories above the ground in the Bahamas. Nik Wallenda, 31, a.k.a. The ______________________, broke the Guinness World Record for the highest bicycle ride without a safety net. Crowds watched with ______________________ 79 metres below as Nik cycled 31 metres between two towers of the luxury Atlantis resort. As if this wasn’t ______________________ rush for him, he also decided to go for a 610-metre, 20-minute walk along the high wire, a dizzying 76 metres up. This broke ______________________ distance. Nik described it after as “the longest walk of my life”. He decided to make the walk just a little scarier by walking ______________________ pool full of sharks and piranhas.

Mr Wallenda ______________________ high wire star. He comes from a long line of aerial trapeze performers and acrobats ______________________ 1780. He is the great-grandson of the legendary Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death during a high wire walk in Puerto Rico in 1978 aged 73. Nik told reporters: "______________________ walked on that wire today. There was ______________________, high winds, and it was the first walk without my father. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life…But my family history and my family tradition is that ______________________." He also spoke about his future plans: "I want to be the first person in the world to walk across the Grand Canyon, and I ______________________," he said.


 
 

AFTER READING / LISTENING

1. WORD SEARCH: Look in your dictionary / computer to find collocates, other meanings, information, synonyms … for the words ‘tight’ and ‘rope’.

tight

rope

 

 

 

  • Share your findings with your partners.
  • Make questions using the words you found.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

2. ARTICLE QUESTIONS: Look back at the article and write down some questions you would like to ask the class about the text.

  • Share your questions with other classmates / groups.
  • Ask your partner / group your questions.

3. GAP FILL: In pairs / groups, compare your answers to this exercise. Check your answers. Talk about the words from the activity. Were they new, interesting, worth learning…?

4. VOCABULARY: Circle any words you do not understand. In groups, pool unknown words and use dictionaries to find their meanings.

5. TEST EACH OTHER: Look at the words below. With your partner, try to recall how they were used in the text:

  • feat
  • net
  • mouths
  • rush
  • personal
  • pool
  • star
  • legendary
  • odds
  • area
  • show
  • permit

STUDENT DEATH DEFYING FEATS SURVEY

Write five GOOD questions about death defying feats in the table. Do this in pairs. Each student must write the questions on his / her own paper.

When you have finished, interview other students. Write down their answers.

 

STUDENT 1

_____________

STUDENT 2

_____________

STUDENT 3

_____________

Q.1.

 

 

 

 

Q.2.

 

 

 

 

Q.3.

 

 

 

 

Q.4.

 

 

 

 

Q.5.

 

 

 

 

  • Now return to your original partner and share and talk about what you found out. Change partners often.
  • Make mini-presentations to other groups on your findings.

DISCUSSION

STUDENT A’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student B)

a)

What did you think when you read the headline?

b)

What springs to mind when you hear the word ‘tightrope’?

c)

Why do you think people like tightrope walking?

d)

Have you ever tried a death defying feat?

e)

When was the last time your heart was in your mouth?

f)

Do you have a head for heights?

g)

What was the longest walk of your life?

h)

What’s the scariest thing you’ve ever done?

i)

What do you do to get an adrenalin rush?

j)

What do you think of Nik Wallenda?

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

STUDENT B’s QUESTIONS (Do not show these to student A)

a)

Did you like reading this article?

b)

How far does your family go back?

c)

What do you think life is like as a high wire star?

d)

Have you ever done something against all odds?

e)

What do you think went through Nik’s mind when he was on the high wire?

f)

What would you do if one of your family took up the high wire?

g)

What’s the hardest decision you’ve made in your life?

h)

What is there in your family history that could shape your future?

i)

Do you think he’ll walk across the Grand Canyon?

j)

What questions would you like to ask Nik Wallenda?

LANGUAGE – MULTIPLE CHOICE

A death defying (1) ____ took place on August 28 more than 26 stories above the ground in the Bahamas. Nik Wallenda, 31, a.k.a. The King of The High Wire, broke the Guinness World Record (2) ____ the highest bicycle ride without a safety net. Crowds watched with their hearts in their (3) ____ 79 metres below as Nik cycled 31 metres between two towers of the luxury Atlantis resort. As if this wasn’t enough of an adrenalin (4) ____ for him, he also decided to go for a 610-metre, 20-minute walk along the high wire, a (5) ____ 76 metres up. This broke his own personal best distance. Nik described it after as “the longest walk of my life”. He decided to make the walk just a little scarier (6) ____ walking above an enclosed ocean pool full of sharks and piranhas.

Mr Wallenda is a (7) ____ generation high wire star. He comes from a long line of aerial trapeze performers and acrobats that (8) ____ back to 1780. He is the great-grandson of the legendary Karl Wallenda, who fell (9) ____ his death during a high wire walk in Puerto Rico in 1978 aged 73. Nik told reporters: "Against all (10) ____ I walked on that wire today. There was lightning in the area, high winds, and it was the first walk without my father. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life…But my family history and my family tradition is that the (11) ____ must go on." He also spoke about his future plans: "I want to be the first person in the world to walk across the Grand Canyon, and I have the (12) ____ to do it," he said.

Put the correct words from the table below in the above article.

1.

(a)

feet

(b)

fate

(c)

fete

(d)

feat

2.

(a)

at

(b)

by

(c)

for

(d)

with

3.

(a)

lungs

(b)

mouths

(c)

hands

(d)

backpacks

4.

(a)

rush

(b)

hurry

(c)

speed

(d)

quick

5.

(a)

busying

(b)

fizzing

(c)

dizzying

(d)

whizzing

6.

(a)

try

(b)

why

(c)

shy

(d)

by

7.

(a)

seven

(b)

seventh

(c)

sevens

(d)

seventy

8.

(a)

dates

(b)

months

(c)

days

(d)

times

9.

(a)

on

(b)

to

(c)

over

(d)

in

10.

(a)

evens

(b)

wires

(c)

odds

(d)

highs

11.

(a)

show

(b)

shown

(c)

showed

(d)

shower

12.

(a)

hermit

(b)

termite

(c)

permanent

(d)

permit

WRITING

Write about Nik Wallenda for 10 minutes. Correct your partner’s paper.

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

_____________________________________________________________________________

HOMEWORK

1. VOCABULARY EXTENSION: Choose several of the words from the text. Use a dictionary or Google’s search field (or another search engine) to build up more associations / collocations of each word.

2. INTERNET: Search the Internet and find out more about this record. Share what you discover with your partner(s) in the next lesson.

3. DEATH DEFYING FEATS: Make a poster about death defying feats. Show your work to your classmates in the next lesson. Did you all have similar things?

4. NIK WALLENDA: Write a magazine article about Nik Wallenda. Include imaginary interviews with him and someone who always worries about him.

Read what you wrote to your classmates in the next lesson. Write down any new words and expressions you hear from your partner(s).

5. LETTER: Write a letter to Nik Wallenda. Ask him three questions about tightrope walking. Suggest three alternative pastimes he might prefer. Read your letter to your partner(s) in your next lesson. Your partner(s) will answer your questions.

ANSWERS

TRUE / FALSE:

a.

T

b.

F

c.

F

d.

T

e.

T

f.

F

g.

F

h.

T

SYNONYM MATCH:

1.

feat

a.

achievement

2

stories

b.

floors

3.

rush

c.

high

4.

distance

d.

length

5.

enclosed

e.

shut in

6.

performers

f.

artists

7.

legendary

g.

famous

8.

area

h.

vicinity

9.

tradition

i.

custom

10.

permit

j.

license

PHRASE MATCH:

1.

A death defying

a.

feat took place on August 28

2

watched with their hearts

b.

in their mouths

3.

an adrenalin

c.

rush

4.

This broke his own personal

d.

best distance

5.

an enclosed ocean

e.

pool full of sharks

6.

a seventh

f.

generation high wire star

7.

dates

g.

back to 1780

8.

Against

h.

all odds

9.

one of the hardest

i.

decisions I ever made

10.

the show

j.

must go on

GAP FILL:

Tightrope walker breaks world record

A death defying feat took place on August 28 more than 26 stories above the ground in the Bahamas. Nik Wallenda, 31, a.k.a. The King of The High Wire, broke the Guinness World Record for the highest bicycle ride without a safety net. Crowds watched with their hearts in their mouths 79 metres below as Nik cycled 31 metres between two towers of the luxury Atlantis resort. As if this wasn’t enough of an adrenalin rush for him, he also decided to go for a 610-metre, 20-minute walk along the high wire, a dizzying 76 metres up. This broke his own personal best distance. Nik described it after as “the longest walk of my life”. He decided to make the walk just a little scarier by walking above an enclosed ocean pool full of sharks and piranhas.

Mr Wallenda is a seventh generation high wire star. He comes from a long line of aerial trapeze performers and acrobats that dates back to 1780. He is the great-grandson of the legendary Karl Wallenda, who fell to his death during a high wire walk in Puerto Rico in 1978 aged 73. Nik told reporters: "Against all odds I walked on that wire today. There was lightning in the area, high winds, and it was the first walk without my father. It was one of the hardest decisions I ever made in my life…But my family history and my family tradition is that the show must go on." He also spoke about his future plans: "I want to be the first person in the world to walk across the Grand Canyon, and I have the permit to do it," he said.

LANGUAGE WORK

1 - d

2 - c

3 - b

4 - a

5 - c

6 - d

7 - b

8 - a

9 - b

10 - c

11 - a

12 - d

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