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Ping Pong

Ping Pong

Date: Aug 29 2008

Themes: News, Sports


1. Learn Vocabulary - Learn some new vocabulary before you start the lesson.

2. Read and Prepare - Read the introduction and prepare to hear the audio.

The sport called both ping pong and table tennis has one identity for each name. It’s a game played in bars and by children in basements with a funny, onomatopoetic name. And it is also a fast-paced, serious sport that’s sort of like tennis, only smaller.

Table tennis was especially exciting at this year’s Olympics because China loves the sport and is very good at it. In fact, the Chinese swept the medals in both men’s and women’s table tennis.

Many Americans, however, think of ping pong as a children’s game or something to do for fun. So, much to the surprise of many of his friends, Jason bought tickets to see a round of table tennis at the Olympics. Listen to him talk about it with Mason.


1. Listen and Read - Listen to the audio and read the dialog at the same time.

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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.





Jason:  So the one event at the Olympics that I made sure to see, the only event that I got tickets in advance for, was table tennis.

Mason:  Pong?

Jason:  Yeah. The thing I like about it is it’s a game you can play in bars and that almost anyone can play, but then there’s…

Mason:  There’s like a different level to it. There’s, like, people who are crazy good and take it way more serious than you’d think it could be taken.

Jason:  Exactly. And a lot of the athletes have incredibly muscular bodies and look like they could be basketball players or cyclists or any other sport…and lightning quick reflexes. It’s kind of crazy that it’s this whole game around this one-inch, tiny little ball, you know?

Mason:  Mm-hm. So being that you were there, how far do they actually stand away from the table? It looks like they’re actually standing as far away from the table as the table is long.

Jason:  I saw this really interesting moment. There was Japan playing against Nigeria and the Nigerian guy just kept slamming the ball and the Japanese guy would lob it, and he was further than the table is long away from the table, just lobbing it back and eventually, that guy won which is weird because it seemed like a really defensive position.

Mason:  So what about, I mean, I call holding the paddle upside down “Chinese style,” so it’s like ping pong is China.

Jason:  That’s right. The Chinese invented that style and that’s how they began to dominate the sport. It was the Swedes who dominated it before about 15 years ago.

Mason:  Yeah? Until someone was like, “I can hold this upside down!”

Jason:  Yeah, and then it became…I heard on the news in China someone called it “the national sport of China.” So it’s now officially their favorite sport.



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Jason arrived in Beijing with tickets for only one event: table tennis. He wanted to see the game he’s been playing for fun for years played by some of the world’s best athletes (read more about his experience here).

One big difference between Olympic ping pong and the game you play in your basement is how far the players stand from the table. Mason has seen Olympic ping pong on TV and asked Jason if the players stand as far back as it appears on the screen. He says that sometimes they do and that he watched a Japanese player win doing that.

Mason has also heard how popular ping pong is in China. Jason tells him that the Chinese invented the current style of playing and that he heard someone on Chinese TV call table tennis the country’s official sport.

What’s your country’s official sport? What barroom game would you like to see in the Olympics? Shuffleboard? Darts?



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Iran, Islamic Republic Of

my country`s official sport is weightlifting & wrestling,

in my country also we see Ping Pong as a game for fun, and not to take it serious , but it`s really a hard sport but it doesnt seem , i had this sport for my sport class this semester , it was really a good class, i had an excellent coach , :)

12:26 PM Jan 04 2013 |




We usually prefer that the name is "table tennis" for this sport, not "ping pong".I like table tennis, where we play this sport is school, at the lesson break. 

10:50 PM Sep 04 2008 |



United States

My country's offical sport is table tennis, but I would like to watch swimming match in all the olmpic games because my current role modle is Micheal Phelps. HE IS AMAZING!! He broke the world's swimming record by winning 8 olmpic medial. And he's also the greatest olmpian in the history. I don't know how he did it but I know that he has the strength and he has put a lot of effort into swimming and yeah, he did it. It was unbelievable how he wins the medal is like a piece of cake to him. He inspired many young ones to take swimming classes for defence such as me. I am currently taking swiming lessons. Smile

05:54 AM Sep 04 2008 |



I love ping pong,but I cant`t play it well.When I play it with my friend,it is me who often pick up the ball.Cry

10:33 AM Sep 03 2008 |




I think all Chinese's people likes to play Pingpong. And I think the foreign sporter should to come to China improve their skills.Laughing

03:00 AM Sep 03 2008 |


VOLTSSuper Member!


Football is the most popular sport in Brazil

12:13 AM Sep 03 2008 |




I like playing ping pong very much. and it's very good for our eyes, a good way to prevent myopy :-)

12:43 PM Sep 02 2008 |



i love to play ping pong because it was fun and i really enjoy it


03:40 AM Sep 02 2008 |




i also like to playing basketball,

06:57 AM Sep 01 2008 |




i have played ping pongbut not well

i like basketball,and i love nba player ,they like  superman in my heart~

06:45 AM Sep 01 2008 |




i love to playing it in my spare time!hope we can playing together!

02:19 AM Sep 01 2008 |




i’m a chinese boy ,i like playing pingpong,i hope can playing with you or anyone frome other country!

02:17 AM Sep 01 2008 |



Syrian Arab Republic

i don't like this game at all.. it cause me a kind of headache…..... i prefer basketball…football…or anything else ….

07:01 PM Aug 31 2008 |




Ping pong is very popular game. I just love it. people you know who is the no. 1 player in this ping pong or Tennis? he is one Spanish guy his name is Rafeal Nadal. he is very keen in Tennis. IN Beijing Olympic 2008 , he won gold medal. he is the king of US open tennis,

06:00 PM Aug 31 2008 |



I like working out.

08:12 AM Aug 31 2008 |



Ping Pong is our official sport.Most of us would like play it,from the time a very small beginning.so far,I am also very like it.

07:23 AM Aug 31 2008 |




I love the game,too.IN Beijing Olimpic Games ,China takes on four gold metals and lays out her charm to all the world again.

07:13 AM Aug 31 2008 |



i like all the games about ball.i like sports very much,but now i nearly have no time for play games.

i also like sing with friends crazily!it realy relax me .

run, tomorrow

03:30 PM Aug 30 2008 |



Viet Nam

Thanks for your interesting lesson

02:35 PM Aug 30 2008 |




i'm chinese,too. i like PingPong not only it is our national ball,but also it's my favorit sport.when i'm a little girl, i began to play PingPong.it can makes me happy. Smile

at last,I propose that all the   friends who love  table tennis sport continue to love .

10:59 AM Aug 30 2008 |

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