Conversation Lesson 49
Lesson 49 - Operation Spy!

In this lesson Ms. Weaver has asked Anna to help with Operation Spy. Her mission is to learn all she can about spying. She learns by going to the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.
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Lesson Video

Watch the video and then do the activities on this page.
Video Script

Anna: It is no secret that Washington, D.C. has spies. Well, it should be a secret because spying is secret. But it’s not a secret. There’s even a spy museum! The International Spy Museum has created an amazing collection of spy things! And today, we will see them! My boss, Ms. Weaver, has sent me here … on a mission!
Ms. Weaver: Hello, Anna, are you there?
Anna: That’s her. Yes, Agent Peacock. This is Agent Flamingo, reporting for duty.
Ms. Weaver: Agent what? Look, Anna … I mean, Agent Flamingo, I want you to learn all you can about spying.
Anna: You mean, collect intelligence?
Ms. Weaver: Yeah, it’s for our new show -- “D.C. Secrets.”
Anna: You've got it, Agent Peacock. The mission is safe with me.
Ms. Weaver: Oh, okay, great. Just be back by noon.
Anna: Agent Peacock, I’m at an air duct!
Ms. Weaver: Yes, spies sometimes sneak down air ducts.
Anna: I have never snuck down an air duct. It’s dark and small. I’m afraid of dark, small places.
Ms. Weaver: You can do it, Agent Flamingo. You know, spies aren’t afraid of a little darkness.
Anna: Right. It’s just an air duct -- a dark, small air duct. Okay. I’m doing it, Agent Peacock! I am sneaking down a long, dark, small air duct. I’m having a little trouble breathing.
Ms. Weaver: Just keep going, Agent Flamingo. Think of the team!
Anna: Okay, I will think of the team. I’m thinking of the team, Agent Peacock! I did it! I did it! I sneaked down an air duct. That was a little uncomfortable.
Ms. Weaver: Good!
Anna: What's the next mission?
Ms. Weaver: Umm … have you ever cracked a code?
Anna: No.
Ms. Weaver: Well, go learn. Spies use their brains.
Anna: Got it! I’ve never cracked a code before. Let’s try, Agent Flamingo! This is really hard. I'm still trying to crack the code. I've cracked the code! I've cracked the code, Agent Peacock! My brain really hurts.
Ms. Weaver: Great. Umm, Agent Flamingo, now answer this question: Do spies have to be in good shape?
Anna: “Yes,” Agent Peacock! Spies have to be in really good shape! Can you hear me?
Ms. Weaver: You’re breaking up, Flamingo.
Anna: The International Spy Museum is awesome! Agent Peacock, I completed the mission!
Ms. Weaver: Great. Great. Now, I have another very important mission for you.
Anna: Got it. See you back at H.Q.!
Ms. Weaver: Yummy! You brought my lunch! Thanks, Agent Flamingo!
Anna: Mission completed. Agent Peacock!
(Amelia makes a face.)
Ms. Weaver: Don't ask.

Special thanks go out to the International Spy Museum for letting us film in the museum!

Now practice listening to only the audio portion of the conversation.

In this video, learn how to say the new words. Then compare the present perfect, present, and past verb tenses.

Use this video to learn about how Americans pronounce the reduced forms of "has" and "have' in the present perfect verb tense.
New Words
  • agent - n. a person who tries to get secret information about another country or government
  • air duct - n. a duct or pipe for air to flow through to the rooms of a building
  • brain - n. the organ of the body in the head that controls functions, movements, sensations, and thoughts
  • breathe - v. to move air into and out of your lungs
  • code - n. a set of letters, numbers or symbols that is used to secretly send messages to someone
  • collection - n. a group of interesting or beautiful objects brought together in order to show or study them
  • complete - v. to finish making or doing (something)
  • crack - v. to find an answer or solution to (something)
  • duty - n. something that is done as part of a job
  • flamingo - n. a tall wading bird with mainly pink or scarlet plumage and long legs and neck
  • H.Q. - abbrev. headquarters - n. a place from which something (such as a business or a military action) is controlled or directed
  • intelligence - n. secret information that a government collects about an enemy or possible enemy
  • mission - n. a task or job that someone is given to do
  • operation - n. a set of planned actions for a particular purpose
  • peacock - n. a male peafowl, which has very long tail feathers that it can spread like a fan
  • secret - n. a fact or piece of information that is kept hidden from other people
  • shape - n. a physically strong and healthy condition
  • sneak - v. to move quietly and secretly in order to avoid being noticed
  • spy - n. a person who tries secretly to get information about a country or organization for another country or organization

In this lesson, Anna learns about a job that many people think is exciting. Have you ever thought about doing a job that is different from the one you have now, or the one you think you will have when you finish school? Would it be more fun or more exciting? Tell us about the job. Write about it in the Facebook Comments section below. Then practice three verb tenses and learn about how your friends practice speaking English. Click lesson activity to get the printable PDF version. The page opens to a new window.
Source: Voice of America
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