Listen&Learn: Alan Turing

Jaksyn Peacock
Learn about the mathematician whose ideas led to the modern computer.

Pre-listening vocabulary

  • foundation: an idea that other ideas are built on
  • hypothetical: potential, not currently real
  • instruction: an explanation of what to do and how to do it
  • decode: to find the hidden meaning of a coded message
  • shun: to reject someone
  • pardon: to forgive someone for a crime

Listening activity

Gapfill exercise

Alan Turing was a British mathematician. He was born in 1912 in London, England. His ideas are considered to be the early foundations for modern . In 1936, he described a hypothetical device that could read and follow instructions. He also developed the Turing test, which was meant to determine if a could think like a human. During World War II, Turing built a machine that helped the Allied forces decode Nazi . His work helped Britain and the Allies win the war. However, the government later arrested and shunned him for being gay, which was at the time. Turing died in 1954, two years after his conviction. The Queen officially pardoned him in 2013.

Comprehension questions

See answers below

  1. Turing was a
    a. mathematician
    b. physicist
    c. military leader
  2. The purpose of the Turing test is
    a. to determine how fast a machine can work
    b. to determine how well a machine can follow instructions
    c. to determine if a machine can think like a human
  3. During World War II, Turing helped the Allies by
    a. inventing new technology for weapons
    b. creating a machine that could break Nazi codes
    c. analyzing Nazi military plans

Discussion/essay questions

  1. Alan Turing’s accomplishments were disregarded for many years. Do you know any other important historical figures who were dismissed in their time?
  2. Do you think it is possible for a machine to think like a human?

Transcript

Alan Turing was a British mathematician. He was born in 1912 in London, England. His ideas are considered to be the early foundations for modern computers. In 1936, he described a hypothetical device that could read and follow written instructions. He also developed the Turing test, which was meant to determine if a machine could think like a human. During World War II, Turing built a machine that helped the Allied forces decode Nazi messages. His work helped Britain and the Allies win the war. However, the government later arrested and shunned him for being gay, which was illegal at the time. Turing died in 1954, two years after his conviction. The Queen officially pardoned him in 2013.

Answers to comprehension questions

1a 2c 3b

Written and recorded by Jaksyn Peacock for EnglishClub
© EnglishClub.com

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