Online Listening
Life as a Spy

This is one of my free online listening lessons for students who want to improve their English.... and it's about being a spy.

I would like to dedicate this lesson to my wonderful grandfather, Frank Charles Hunnibell (1917-2010), who worked for the British Secret Service (MI6). He always claimed to have an unimportant role in MI6, merely making the tea for others...but would he ever tell us WHO he made tea for, WHERE he made it, or HOW he made it? No, he did not! He remained true to the Official Secrets Act to the end.

Free Lesson Plan

Have you ever wondered what it must be like to be a spy? Do you think it's still necessary to have spies? Is the life of James Bond anywhere close to reality?

This lesson is based on interviews with 2 people who have admitted to working as spies for their countries. Hank Crumpton, who worked for the CIA, and Mosab Hassan Yousef (The Son of Hamas), who worked for the Shin Bet (the Israeli Secret Service). Listen to the interviews yourself, and decide if they are telling the truth, or if they are telling the full story.....

Free Downloadable Lesson Plan


This online listening is suitable for you if you are at upper-intermediate, advanced or proficiency level English (B2, C1 and C2)

Language Focus

In this online listening lesson, there is some vocabulary to learn that is specific to the world of espionage (for a vocabulary list of words and idioms without the lesson plan, go to Spy Vocabulary). There is a link to the interview between CBS News: 60 minutes and Hank Crumpton with some comprehension questions for you to answer. There are also vocabulary collocations for you to learn taken from the video clip.

There is then another listening and comprehension exercise with Mosab Hassan Youssef, the 'Son of Hamas', and then there are idioms to learn.....but in order to keep a low profile, I will now hold my tongue. This was all off the record, so please keep a lid on it J

If you enjoyed this lesson, you would probably enjoy reading the biography of Osama bin Laden, 'Growing up Bin Laden', written by his first wife and fourth son. Have a look at my review in Best Books.

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