Esl Short Stories For Adults Mysteries Of The Titanic Ep 227

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📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2309 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 12 min

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Esl Short Stories For Adults

If you have listened to some of my other ESL story based English listening lessons, you know that listening to a native English speaker is great for learning and remembering new English vocabulary, picking up English grammar automatically and practicing listening to English.

Today we talk about the Titanic, some mysteries and coincidences involved in the tragic sinking of this huge passenger ship. To keep you on your toes I’ve put in a questions and answers section, the answers are in the lesson transcript and the full lesson article on 

Now I really need to nip out and vote as today is bizarrely the European Elections in the UK. So we will probably elect 71 UK European Members of Parliament who will unlikely ever take their seats on July 1st. Another example of the crazy Brexit process we are still in (it has been 3 years since the UK voted to leave Europe and we are still in) 

Still Democracy is a privilege. You should always vote.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 2 word phrases:

the Titanic20
the ship11
short stories8
for adults8
ESL short7

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: ESL Short Stories For Adults Mysteries Of The Titanic

Hi and welcome to this short podcast from Adept English. How about today we do one of those ESL short stories for adults? ESL means English as a Second Language and short stories are good to listen to for practice and for testing your understanding, especially if I ask you questions at the end to test your understanding. So how about I tell you a story, part of which you probably already know.

But then I’ll tell you some extra bits, some extra parts of the story, which you probably don’t know. And then I’ll ask you questions. I’ve also got some news about our podcasts – so listen for that halfway through. Here goes - ELS short stories for adults.

A well-known film and true story

You’ve probably heard of the film Titanic, that’s T-I-T-A-N-I-C about the ship which sails from England, bound for America and which hits an iceberg and sinks? Well, it’s a really good film, if a bit long – and it’s got Leonardo DiCaprio in it – looking very lovely – and Kate Winslet as well. You may have seen this film, but even if you haven’t, you may have heard of the story of the Titanic. It’s a true story, this really did happen. The Titanic was huge passenger ship – that means built to carry people. It was a luxury ocean liner, in the days before flying was common – and it was built in Britain. The Titanic was intended to sail the Atlantic, between Britain and America and her passengers enjoyed luxury travel and the promise of a new life. She (and yes, notice that we say ‘she’ for ships!,) she set sail from Southampton on the south coast of England on 10th April 1912, bound for New York. The Titanic sailed for four days and nights in calm waters, but on the night of 14th April 1912, she hit an iceberg – that is a huge piece of ice – and nearly four hours later, she sank off the coast of Newfoundland, off the coast of Canada. 1,513 people died and only 705 people were saved.


A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.

©️ Adept English 2019

The wreck of the Titanic – the word ‘wreck’, W-R-E-C-K means what is left, what remains of the ship – the wreck was discovered in 1985, and still rests on the seabed to this day. Lots of objects from the ship have been brought to the surface and are displayed in museums.


A strange fact

What you may not know is that 14 years earlier in 1898, a man called Morgan Robertson wrote a book, a short novel, about a fantastic ocean liner, a luxury ship, which also sailed from Southampton to America. It too carried rich passengers, but also on its maiden voyage – so like the Titanic on its first ever journey – it hit an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland and sank. The ship in the book carried roughly the same number of passengers, it was roughly the same size as the Titanic and it too didn’t have enough life boats to save people in the event of disaster. Like the Titanic, the ship in Morgan Robertson’s book was called ‘unsinkable’ - that means a ship which cannot sink. Now the name of this novel, this book by Morgan Robertson, is ‘Futility’. But remember, the book was written 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic. And the name of the ship in the book? The ship was called The Titan.

A strange account

If that wasn’t weird enough, there was an account from 1935 of a young seaman – that’s a sailor – called William Reeve, who was on board a ship, sailing from the north of England to Canada. It was April 1935 and Reeve was the watchman, at night – watching out for dangerous icebergs as they were nearing the coast of Canada. William Reeve had been worrying about the possibility of a ship wreck and some accounts say that he’d been reading the novel Futility. All of a sudden in the middle of the night, he was struck by a terrible coincidence. He realised that the date of the sinking of the Titanic, 14th April 1912, was the date of his birth. He immediately sounded the alarm – and the ship came slowly to a halt – just a few metres from a giant iceberg that had been impossible to see. So the ship was saved, and apparently it took nine days for the Newfoundland icebreaker ships to clear a way for William Reeve’s ship to reach shore. So there were a lot of icebergs. And the name of this ship? Well, this one was called The Titanian. That’s a bit spooky!

So there you have it – one of those ESL short stories for adults. And in a minute, there will be some questions, so that you can test your understanding. If you’re not sure – you may want to listen to the short story again, before you try the questions.


Some news about Adept English podcasts

First of all, some news on our podcasts. There are now more and more of you, listening to our podcasts every month and doing downloads of our podcasts. This is great and exactly what we want to happen! But it means that our download bandwidth - it’s huge 850Gb plus a month. Oh my goodness – this is a bit big to manage! So we’ve had to take some action.

  1. So we've had to reduce the number of recent podcasts we can stream to you from 200 down to 75
  2. This means, iTunes and Google Podcasts, TuneIn and Podbean and all the other players will now only show a list of the latest 75 podcasts – so that’s still 75, that’s a huge selection of lessons! And our own statistics tell us that most of you are interested in listening to the latest 50 podcasts
  3. All of our podcasts, that’s the whole 227 - they’re still available FOR FREE on our website, with the pdf transcripts – and they always will be FREE!
  4. But some of our listeners have asked how to get easy access to old podcasts, so you can now download groups of 50 for a small fee. There is a charge – but I think that some of you will really like this service – it means you’ve got an easy way of downloading 50 podcasts at a time, easily onto your phone or your mobile device. It would take you a long time to do this one podcast at a time and it’s a lot of listening hours for the fee. And do remember you can still get then all free individually.

Buy an Adept English Podcast Bundle

I’ll talk about this again next week in our podcasts. Now for the questions on the ESL short stories for adults – for you to answer in English, of course! This will test your understanding.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Questions to test your understanding of this ESL short story for adults

  1. Can you say the date that the Titanic sank?
  2. What does the word ‘wreck’, W-R-E-C-K mean?
  3. Where is the wreck of the Titanic now?
  4. What is strange about the book called ‘Futility’ by Morgan Robertson?
  5. Can you explain what the word ‘iceberg’ means?
  6. When William Reeve was watching for icebergs on the ship called the Titanian in 1935, what connection did he suddenly make with the date of the sinking of Titanic? (That’s a long question, I’ll say it again….)
  7. Explain the word ‘coincidence’.

OK - you’re doing well! Don’t worry if you takes you a few listens to this podcast, before you can understand well enough to answer the questions. If you want to see the answers to these questions, you’ll find them in the transcript on our website, at I’ve done it like this because it may take you more than one listen to get all of the answers, so you don’t want to hear them in the podcast!


Let us know whether you like this – and if you do, we’ll do some more ESL short stories for adults.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Answers to the seven test questions

  1. The date of the sinking of the Titanic was 14th April 1912. More precisely, the collision happened 14th April – and the ship sank in the early hours of 15th April, 1912.
  2. Wreck generally means anything, which has been left to deteriorate. But a ship wreck, means the remains of a ship, usually that is to be found still resting underwater.
  3. The wreck of the Titanic is still at the bottom of the sea.
  4. The strange thing about the book Futility by Morgan Robertson is that it seems to foretell, with uncanny accuracy, the true story of the Titanic.
  5. An iceberg is a huge piece of ice, floating in the sea. To be an iceberg, the piece of ice, must be above a certain size – for example, at least 16 feet tall.
  6. William Reeve suddenly realised that the date of the sinking of the Titanic was the date of his birth. This sounds far-fetched now, but remember, this is in pre-internet days, so this type of information would have been harder to find out!
  7. A coincidence means two or more events, or circumstances, which appear to have a link, but which are in fact nothing to do with one another. Sometimes coincidences are so strange that they make us question things!

PS: Podcast Ideas

I will explain how I got to this weeks podcast, it’s a quick peek into why my podcasts are different to traditional English lessons.

This weeks podcast idea came from listening to a friend talk about the Titanic in combination with seeing a YouTube video titled which “ESL Story For Children”. The funny thing is, the story of the Titanic was incorrect and the ESL story for children made little sense as most of the people watching that video would have been adults! (The audience for that video was tiny children, almost a lullaby for babies!) So I needed to fix these two problems and help normal "Adult” English language learners at the same time.

I don’t have a problem using simple stories (like Rapunzel) to help people learn English vocabulary, but the English vocabulary in any story I use, needs to be relevant, challenging and interesting enough to engage listeners. Remember, it has to be good enough for repeat listening.

So then I needed a title, and I just couldn't avoid using the word adult (I supposed I could have said grown up but it's too long and two words!) The problem with using “Adult” is often its associated with the sex industry (especially online). 

If you're reading the PS (post scriptum) I just thought the process of creating a podcast might interest you.



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