World's Fastest Reader?
The inspiration for the Scary Story Essay Contest

Ready for a super challenging listening comprehension exercise? If you can understand what this young woman is saying then your English is definitely better than mine!

So don't worry if you don't understand anything! It's just a fun exercise.

I thought it was so fun that it was the inspiration for my October 2013 essay contest. Who knows, it may give you some ideas for writing your own essay.

Background about the video

Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian and talk show host. She invited a few people with interesting talents to come to her show. Trish's talent is that she can read really fast out loud.

It's hard to believe, but Trish is reading something brand new (that is, something she hasn't read before). It's a passage from one of Ellen's books (My point… and I do have one). In her book, Ellen talks about the scariest things she can think of happening. All of the things she imagines are ridiculous (really silly).

To get the most from this exercise:

  1. First, watch the entire video clip.
  2. Second, replay the video and listen while reading the transcript (below).



ELLEN:   What do you do?
TRISH:    I read.
ELLEN:   Ok. So do I.
TRISH:    I know, I read kinda fast. You know, like yeah.
ELLEN:   Oh, you read, that's your, your ...
TRISH:    I read, that's my talent.
ELLEN:   But what do you do for a living?
TRISH:   Oh, I'm a, I'm a waitress.
ELLEN:   Uh huh, ok.
TRISH:    In Sherman Oaks.
ELLEN:   Ok, alright.... God you're... You're so happy, aren't you?
TRISH:   You’re so pretty. It's like looking in a mirror.
ELLEN:   Uh, yeah, yeah.
TRISH:   Not because you’re pretty, because you’re blonde.... I'm really happy.
ELLEN:  Wow... you’re fantastic. Alright, Um.
TRISH:   [Reaching over touching Ellen’s arm] I shouldn't touch you.
ELLEN:  You're gonna read really fast?
TRISH:   Yeah, I need a book or something though.
ELLEN:  Ok, I have a... I have a... oh, there’s my book right there.  You can have my book. Shall I hold this for you? 
TRISH:    Umm.
ELLEN:   Ah, you’re mic’d. Okay great. [Note: She's saying Trish is wearing a microphone, which we often call a "mic" (pronounced "Mike") in English].
TRISH:   Alright
ELLEN:  Okay.


Reading from, My point… and I do have one (a book by Ellen DeGeneres)

“Stepping on a spider has to be the scariest thing in the world. Actually, do you know what would be scarier? If, after putting on the one shoe I then recklessly put my foot in the other only to discover that it was teeming with … hundreds of spiders!

All the babies were in there, a whole—let’s see, it’s a gaggle of gees, a school of fish, what is a group of spiders called? Oh, no I remember: a whole snorkel of spiders. That would be the scariest thing ever.

Unless, let’s say you’re out camping in the woods, or not even camping, or even in the woods; you’re sleeping in your backyard. I don’t know why. Maybe you like the great outdoors, but you want to be close to home in case somebody calls.

Or maybe you had a fight with the person you live with, and you ended up yelling, “Okay, that does it. I’m sleeping in the backyard tonight!” It’s only when you get back there that you realize it wasn’t much of a threat.

But you have too much pride to go and sleep inside (even though your dogs look at you from inside through the picture window with an expression that’s a mixture of pity and confusion).

So (and this is the scary part), you’re in the backyard and you’re just about to doze off when you start feeling something kind of funny—not ha ha funny, but creepy, weird funny. So you look inside your sleep bag and there’s … a snake crawling up your let. Aghhhhhh

That just blows the spider thing away. It’s not possible for there to be anything scarier than that…."


In Ellen’s book, the chapter continues as Ellen writes:  “Wait, I just thought of something more frightening.” In the book, she writes another 5-6 scary stories, each one more ridiculous than the next.

And thus, the inspiration for the October 2013 Scary Story contest.”

Now, it’s your turn.

Sorry this contest is now over. The contest asked entrants to write a story about something scary. I could be real or imaginary and the essay had to be between 250-500 words.

Writing is one of the hardest skills for ESL learners. These contests are a great chance for learners to practice their writing and possibly win a cool prize.

For information about other contests, please click here.

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