Online Listening Practice: Can Chicago be Fixed?

English Listening Practice

Listening level: 5
Audio file: 2:30 min
Story length: 305 words


Here is the listening file for this lesson.


Can Chicago be Fixed?

With 2.7 million people, Chicago is America’s third largest city. It’s famous for deep dish pizza and spectacular attractions.

It’s also famous for violence.

Chicago has a history of social turbulence, but the problems seem to be getting worse. In 2016, there were about 700 murders.

That’s more than all of Canada or the UK in 2015. In addition to homicides, about 4000 people were shot. That’s almost 80 people per week.

Why is the city so violent? There are many ideas about root causes. Guns, gangs and drugs are common reasons along with poverty and unemployment.

Can anything be done to curb urban violence? With insufficient funding, deep corruption and shocking income gaps, the answer might be no.

The city is billions of dollars in debt. Even if someone had a great idea to fix Chicago’s massive problems, there really isn’t much money available to implement solutions.

Corruption runs deep in Chicago politics. Bribery, fraud and graft are all bad because they influence government spending.

According to one study, corrupt governments spend more on construction projects and police and less on education, health and welfare. In other words, the services that low income people need to improve their lives don’t receive enough support.

Finally, Chicago is a divided city. The northern part is wealthy and beautiful. The southern and western parts are poor and run down. The contrasts are stark. Museums and murder. Galleries and ghettoes.

Whatever the cause, one thing seems clear. The old ways of improving a society – economic growth that produces benefits for all coupled with government spending – don’t seem to work anymore.

If practical solutions can’t be found for Chicago, what then lies ahead for similar cities in America and around the world where entire classes of people are left to struggle on their own while small groups profit?

More Practice

Here’s a gap fill exercise. Download the Chicago printable worksheet (pdf file). Listen to the story and fill in the blanks.

Learn English Online with More Listening Practice

Ready for another lesson? Try this free online listening comprehension lesson which has a food quiz.

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