The Periodic Table

Published: 2.06.2019
Level 4   |   Time: 2:09
Accent: American
BBC Global News Podcast (1.26.2019)

TOEFL: A short history on the development and the importance of the periodic table.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio above.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • an element [n] - a substance that is made from only one type of atom (hydrogen, oxygen, gold)
  • a brain child [n] - a discovery, invention or idea
  • a chemist [n] - a scientist who works in chemistry
  • draw (something) up [phv] - create, design
  • properties [n] - characteristics or behaviors of a substance (density, color, smell, melting point)
  • cast (your mind) back [phv] - think back, remember
  • the day of [exp] - the time in history of
  • a leap of ingenuity [exp] - a great new idea
  • gaps [n] - empty spaces
  • slot in [phv] - put in
  • the atom [n] - the basic unit of matter
  • rote learning [n] - learning through memorization
  • a column [n] - a vertical group on a chart or table (row vs. column)

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Comprehension Questions

  1. What does the periodic table contain?

  2. Where was Mendeleev from?

  3. When did he create the periodic table?
    In the 1500s
    In the 1800s
    In the 1950s

  4. What information does the periodic table show?
    The beauty of elements
    The use of elements
    The properties of elements

  5. How many elements were known when Mendeleev made the periodic table?
    About six
    About sixty
    More than one hundred

  6. How many elements are known today?
    About six
    About sixty
    More than one hundred

  7. How are the elements arranged in the periodic tables?
    By their atomic mass
    By their color
    By their size

  8. What was unique about how Mendeleev created the periodic table?
    He grouped elements by their properties.
    He left gaps in the table.
    It was easy for school children to use.
    It had rows and columns.

  9. How does the modern periodic table compare to the periodic table Mendeleev first created?
    They are exactly the same.
    They are mostly the same.
    They are very different.

  10. Who has had to learn the periodic table?
    School children in England
    School children today
    School children for many generations

  11. How many periods are there in the periodic table?

triangle TOEFL Questions

  1. What is the discussion mainly about?
    (A) The history of the periodic table
    (B) How the periodic table has changed
    (C) The problems with the periodic table
    (D) How the periodic table is used today

  2. According to the woman, why is the periodic table useful?
    (A) Because it is beautiful
    (B) Because it is simple
    (C) Because it shows the atomic mass of elements
    (D) Because it shows the properties of elements

  3. What are some things we know about Mendeleev?
    [Click two answers.]
    (A) He was from Russia.
    (B) He was the only person trying to arrange elements at his time.
    (C) He discovered 60 elements.
    (D) He made his periodic table about 150 years ago.

  4. How are the elements in the periodic table arranged?
    (A) By their atomic mass
    (B) By their discovery date
    (C) By their color
    (D) By their size

  5. Which is NOT a feature of Mendeleev's periodic table?
    (A) It was arranged in periods.
    (B) It had gaps.
    (C) It contained over 100 elements.
    (D) It had several columns.

  6. What does the "2" correspond to on the chart below?
    (A) A full period
    (B) An element
    (C) A property
    (D) A gap

  7. Why does the woman say this?

    (A) To show who uses the periodic table most often
    (B) To show the importance of the periodic table
    (C) To show how difficult it is to understand the periodic table
    (D) To show how easy it is to understand the periodic table

triangle Script

Now let's celebrate the elements. As many will remember from school chemistry lessons, the elements are all neatly set out in the periodic table - rhe brainchild of the Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev, who first drew it up 150 years ago. Our science correspondent Helen Briggs told me more about the periodic table and why it's special.

Chemists see this periodic table as a thing of beauty and also a thing of usefulness because by reading it you can understand the properties of different elements. But if you cast your mind back to the day of Mendeleev 150 years ago, there were only about 60 known elements. There are now more than 100.

And people have been trying to arrange them for some time. But he had this leap of ingenuity in that he arranged them in a table mainly by their atomic mass. But he put them in groups in terms of those with similar properties, and he left gaps for new elements to be slotted in. And this was before we knew anything about the structure of the atom and all of these things that we now know.

So it was an amazing development. He wasn't the first to do it but he had this leap of ingenuity. And the periodic table today, it has changed but it's still really the same basis from a 150 years ago.

And I looked at the periodic table when I was at school. My son is doing that at the moment. It's still used to teach millions of people across the world, isn't it?

That's right. Generations of schoolchildren have had to learn this periodic table and understand. And it's not really just about rote learning, it's about understanding what's the basis behind it.

And now we've got 118 elements, and they're arranged in these in groups. The vertical columns but also in period - so seven periods. So we've got now seven periods complete and there could be more.

That was Helen Briggs our science correspondent. And if you go to the UNESCO website, you can watch a whole lot of talks and debates about that periodic table including a lecture by Ben Bringa, the 2019 Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.

Our Depressed Society