Facts and figures

Listen to the lecturer giving some facts and figures to practise and improve your listening skills.

Do the preparation task first. Then listen to the audio and do the exercises.


… and the next part of this talk is on the Panama Canal. It's amazing how this one small section of a small country can be so important to the world. Let's learn a little bit about the canal itself, before we look at how it connects to everything else.

The Panama Canal is an artificial waterway in the Central American country of Panama that connects the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. It is only 82 kilometres long. If you go around South America by ship then you need to travel another 15,000 kilometres. So the canal saves a lot of travel time. It takes around 8 to 10 hours to cross the canal.

The French started building the canal in 1881, but they couldn't finish it. The project was started again in 1904 by the United States and the canal was finally finished in 1914. Many people died while they were building the canal, some say up to 25,000. For the rest of the 20th century, the United States controlled the canal, but gave control back to Panama in 2000.

Every year, around 40,000 ships come through the canal. These are mostly commercial ships. They transport goods for trade between Asia and America, or Europe. In 2016 the government of Panama made the canal bigger, so that now 99 per cent of ships can pass through it.

Let's now turn to the role of the Panama Canal in the global economy …

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Worksheet78.61 KB

Language level

A2 English level (pre-intermediate)

Submitted by Asadi on Wed, 07/09/2022 - 01:10


Nice exercise. I like it

Submitted by Nandar Su Hlaing on Tue, 23/08/2022 - 08:36


I think I am quite good. I don't need to see the phone numbers if I always call that and I calculate some figures in my mind not calculator. I prefer calculating like that.

Submitted by mamalirezaenglish on Thu, 04/08/2022 - 16:15


I used to run away from working with numbers. but when I started my career as digital marketing specialist, realized that working with numbers is a must and I should become comfortable with them.

Submitted by phamthuphuong on Sun, 10/07/2022 - 15:05


How do I use and understand numbers as a natural reflex? I usually translate it into my native language, so I understand it very slowly.

Submitted by dennishrf on Fri, 27/05/2022 - 14:34


I like numbers and I don't find it difficult to use them in English. But I need to pay more attention to what is being said 'cause I didn't notice when he said the quantity of ships that cross the Canal. :(

Submitted by Bmorales on Thu, 26/05/2022 - 12:38


yes, but in english not :(

Submitted by Andres Cuchimaque on Fri, 06/05/2022 - 19:31


Yes, I am. I love the numbers. I'm Mecatronich Enginner, also, I love the trading.

Submitted by ICM2 on Tue, 12/04/2022 - 22:56


I enjoyed that particular story. Refresh the memory and remember the dates and figures full of the truths and not always happy events.

Submitted by Ehsan on Tue, 22/02/2022 - 05:36


No, when I listen to a English speech, I have a little problem understanding them. I work on it and it is getting better.

Submitted by jmajo on Thu, 10/02/2022 - 12:44


Well, I guess I'm good with them when I need to but I don't really enjoy work with them. At my work I have to do some maths and I don't like it very much, I get my job well done though. Although I'm not really good remembering numbers about facts, I do like to read about history related to facts and figures of mega constructions.

Thanks for the lesson.
Great site!

Submitted by ghada abk on Wed, 12/01/2022 - 02:19


yes I am good at numbers

Submitted by zehrizer on Wed, 22/12/2021 - 12:14


unfortunately not. ı skip the numbers even when ı read a research paper. ı dont care about dates.

Submitted by ANOUAR on Thu, 25/11/2021 - 10:00


Yes I am good at numbers because I love Mathematics and I enjoy solving problems .

Submitted by LamVanPhuong on Fri, 19/11/2021 - 09:33


I think not because my worst subject is math when I was a high school student

Submitted by azharbgskr on Wed, 17/11/2021 - 15:56


Yeah, I'm good with numbers. I have loved math since elementary school. For me, numbers are things that can represent anything logically.

Submitted by KyawMinThu on Sat, 06/11/2021 - 14:38


When I was a child between 7 to 14 years, I had learned about the numbers from our school. But I felt I am not good enough at numbers.

Submitted by vuhoap on Sat, 30/10/2021 - 03:32


No, I think that I am not good with numbers. Because my mental math ability is very poor without using the calculator.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Wed, 06/10/2021 - 02:06


No, I'm not best in numbers. I'm trying to master in numbers.

Submitted by KATIELLE RAIAN… on Tue, 20/07/2021 - 12:30

No! Unfortunately, I suck at numbers.

Submitted by Veronikka on Sat, 05/06/2021 - 22:23

Weel I'm little good with the numbers.

Submitted by karinaelizabeth on Fri, 07/05/2021 - 22:26

Not at all, I'm no good for numbers that's why I chose to be an English teacher because in this career we don't have to do with numbers. It was an excellent option for me.

Submitted by Kunthea on Sat, 01/05/2021 - 08:38

For the simple numbers, I am good with them. I'm teaching grade 5 students with math, however, I'm really bad with phone number. I can't remember my family's phone number even my wife's.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Mon, 12/04/2021 - 04:26

I'm good at numbers. I'm doing graduation in economics and math so I have not feel difficult. If you want to master in number then you would have to practice regularly. Then you find that you are good in number.

Submitted by TIa vinaka on Thu, 08/04/2021 - 03:15

I'm terrible with numbers. I didn't like maths when I was a student. still I can't calculate things smoothly. when I listen numbers in English I can't understand it quickly. first I have to think it well. then I understand.

Submitted by MikhailZatopliaev on Wed, 07/04/2021 - 23:08

I don't understood what clear it mean. If it is about how I am in English numbers, than is not good enough, but if about numbers at all, I am Economist, so my knowledge of numbers is pretty well.

Submitted by Minh on Sat, 20/03/2021 - 03:12

Numbers it was a amazing when you can remember clearly it is wonderful thing. For example, if you can remember their phone numbers, you just press the number on your cell phone and call them. Whenever your friends call you, you are easy to recognize who call you. It is helpful to practice your brain that always think. Experts say that your brain work like that it is the best way to improve the brain. When you are older than you can not lose your memory.

Submitted by Samaneh on Tue, 16/03/2021 - 14:13

Hi. I have some questions about the phrase "the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean" in the transcript. 1. Why "the" has not been used before Pacific since we use "the" before the names of oceans? 2. Why mentioned phrase has not been told this way: " the Atlantic and "the" pacific ocean"s"?

Hello Samaneh,

People sometimes leave out words that can be understood from the context, and that's why the speaker says 'the Atlantic and Pacific' here. But you are right -- in its full form, the word 'the' should be used before 'Pacific'.

As you observe, it would really be better to say 'oceans' instead of 'ocean' here. But since we're not able to change the recording and wanted the transcript to reflect the recording, we left it as it is now.

Sorry for the confusion.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Syafiqah on Thu, 18/02/2021 - 02:02

I like how it pronounce and confusing me with number..it's a bit difficult..but I tryy

Submitted by In on Wed, 17/02/2021 - 03:11

I think that I`m good when I listen to the numbers, but my pronunciation of them is not proper.

Submitted by jdcorrea on Thu, 14/01/2021 - 22:37

Thanks alot, very interesting audio.

Submitted by fariba on Sat, 09/01/2021 - 10:30

yes i like numbers they show realities.

Submitted by Minh on Thu, 07/01/2021 - 12:55

Hi everyone ! I'm interested the number that show me exactly figures about the issue. With number can provide the information which we need to solve. On the other hand, it's so amazing something that anybody surprises.

Submitted by ThihaHtetAung on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 04:16

This section is so beneficial for me.My listening skill is increase after a section and a section.And I also gained more knowledge.Pls forgive me if I had made mistakes in my comment. I'm just practising:)

Submitted by Rabia Syed on Sat, 02/01/2021 - 14:18

I don't know about panama canal. But It's Amazing in listening. That why repeat listing audio again and again.

Submitted by Suraj paliwal on Sat, 02/01/2021 - 04:51

I'm not good with numbers. If anyone want to practice with me English then reply me. This is most effectively way to learn, understand anything.
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Submitted by Khin Yee Mon Khaing on Fri, 01/01/2021 - 00:55

I am bad with numbers. Thus the lesson teaches me a lot. Thanks a million.
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Submitted by susanavali on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 16:43

It's difficult to know the differences between some numbers like 14 and 40. How can we find the right numbers?

Hello susanvali,

There are differences in the sound of 'teen' and 'ty' and in the stress patterns here.


'14' has the stress on the second syllable (fourTEEN) and the sound of 'teen' is long - the same sound as in three, tree and eat.


'40' has the stress on the first syllable (FORty) and the sound of 'ty' is shorter.


You can hear the pronunciation in dictionary entries:

> https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/forty

> https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/fourteen



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sergio1994 on Mon, 30/11/2020 - 16:01

Thank you for the lessons on the history of the Panama Canal, this helped me a lot to practice my English and keep learning.

Submitted by TalhaÖzkan on Thu, 26/11/2020 - 20:38

I do not like Math, but while I was preparing for the university entrance exam, I studied hard Math. So I am good with numbers.

Submitted by GabrielaE on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 23:23

I'm not good with numbers, and that's the reason why I'm studying maketing because of course we always going to need numbers, but in this particular profession we used it a little less.

Submitted by Pola on Thu, 12/11/2020 - 14:30

No, I'm not good to save numbers, but I know I hear it very well.

Submitted by loveiseverything on Sat, 07/11/2020 - 09:06

I may need 2s to react to the numbers after I hear them. I am not good at numbers . But practice makes perfect. I just need some more time.
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Submitted by Ana Luisa Sanc… on Wed, 04/11/2020 - 23:20

I am not good with numbers, but I like to know the places history, and if its involve hard data, is usually a information parameter for get several references.