Listen&Learn: The Dog Who Knows 1,000 Words

Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about Chaser, the border collie known as the smartest dog in the world.

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • command: an order to do something
  • border collie: a specific dog breed
  • psychologist: a scientist who studies the mind
  • distinct: separate; different
  • identify: to recognize what something is
  • insist: to claim something persistently

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Most dogs are enough to understand some important commands from their owners. They may even know the names of a few different toys, or recognize when their owners are offering them . However, a border collie named Chaser is known as the world’s smartest dog. Throughout Chaser’s life, a psychologist named Dr. Pilley trained her every day to recognize the names of her toys. Eventually, she proved that she could understand the of over 1,000 distinct words. She could even recognize if a word was unfamiliar, and use that information to identify toys she’d never seen before. Her ability to learn and language seemed unique, but researchers involved in Chaser’s insisted that any dog could be taught the same thing. Chaser died in 2019 at 15 years old, but her life helped scientists learn more about how dogs think.

Comprehension questions

1. The person who trained Chaser was a

Correct! Wrong!

The person who trained Chaser was a psychologist.

2. The number of words that Chaser could understand was

Correct! Wrong!

The number of words that Chaser could understand was over 1,000.

3. The researchers who worked with Chaser insisted that

Correct! Wrong!

The researchers who worked with Chaser insisted that any dog could be trained to learn words like Chaser.

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Do you have a pet? If so, how do you train your pet to follow commands?
  2. Do you agree that all dogs are capable of learning language just like Chaser? Why or why not?

Transcript

Most dogs are intelligent enough to understand some important commands from their owners. They may even know the names of a few different toys, or recognize when their owners are offering them treats.  However, a border collie named Chaser is known as the world’s smartest dog. Throughout Chaser’s life, a psychologist named Dr. Pilley trained her every day to recognize the names of her toys. Eventually, she proved that she could understand the meanings of over 1,000 distinct words.  She could even recognize if a word was unfamiliar, and use that information to identify toys she’d never seen before. Her ability to learn and understand language seemed unique, but researchers involved in Chaser’s training insisted that any dog could be taught the same thing. Chaser died in 2019 at 15 years old, but her life helped scientists learn more about how dogs think. 

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub

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