Reading ESL stories and readings in English for ESL learners

a view of Machu Picchu stone buildings and stone walls around the terraces.  A mountain peak is in the background

A view of Machu Picchu.

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is on a mountain peak in the Andes Mountains in Peru. It was built almost six hundred years ago by the Incas. The Inca people did not live there very long. They abandoned the site around 1550 when the Spanish arrived in the area. The Spanish conquered the Incas but they never discovered Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu lay hidden in the mountains for hundreds of years. An American, Hiram Bingham, discovered it in 1911. At that time it was overgrown with vegetation.

The buildings in Machu Picchu are built of stone. The blocks of stone were cut to fit together tightly and no mortar was needed to hold the stones in place. The sides of the mountain were made into flat terraces. The flat land could then be used for growing food. Llamas and alpacas lived there too. These are animals found in South America.

Machu Picchu is no longer overgrown with vegetation. The walls, temples, and other buildings have been restored. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a popular tourist attraction. Many people visit it. There are about one million visitors each year. You can hike the Inca Trail through the mountains to Machu Picchu. The walk is 43 km long and it takes about 4 days. If you don't want to hike, you can take a train to the nearest town, Aguas Calientes. From there it is a short bus ride to Machu Picchu.

What tourist attractions have you seen?

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. Machu Picchu is in Peru. True or false?

2. The Spanish lived in Machu Picchu for about 100 years. True or false?

3. About a million people visit Machu Picchu each year. True or false?

4. The Inca Trail is thirty four kilometres long. True or false?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. Machu Picchu is in the _________________ Mountains.

6. Machu Picchu was _____________________ by the Incas in the 1400's.

7. When Hiram Bingham discovered Machu Picchu it was _______________ with plants and trees.

8. Machu Picchu is a ____________ bus ride from Agua Calientes.

9. Some people ___________ the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

>> Answers
men cleaning the outside of the windows on a very tall building in Shanghai China

photo by Maja Karaklajic

One Hundred Storeys High

Even the tallest buildings need to have their windows washed! The men in this picture are 474m up in the air! They are cleaning the windows of the highest observation deck of the Shanghai World Financial Center in Shanghai China. This building is the second tallest building in the world. It is 492 m tall and has 101 storeys. Construction started on the building in August 1997 but the building wasn’t finished until August 2008.

The Shanghai World Financial Center has three observation decks at different levels. You can take an elevator to the top floors and look out the large windows. The highest view is from the 100th floor which is at 474m above street level. From the observation deck you can see the Jin Mao Tower which is 88 storeys tall. You can also see the Shanghai Tower that is being constructed next to these buildings. It is going to be even taller! It is going to have 128 storeys.

NOTE: In British English: one storey, two storeys

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

Did you understand the story? Are these sentences true?

1. The Shanghai World Financial Center is 88 stories tall. True or false?

2. The Shanghai World Financial Center is the tallest building in the world. True or false?

3. Shanghai is in China. True or false?

4. The Shanghai World Financial Center took 11 years to build. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. The Shanghai Tower is going to be _________________ than the Shanghai World Financial Center.

6. The Shanghai World Financial Center has _____________________ observation decks.

7. The Shanghai World Financial Center has _______________ storeys and is ____________m tall.

8. ______________________ on the Shanghai World Financial Center finished in 2008.

9. The _____________________ observation deck is on the 100th floor.

>> Answers
the leaning tower of pisa

 

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

The Tower of Pisa is a bell tower of the cathedral in Pisa Italy.  The top of the tower is home to seven large bells. The tower has 8 storeys and is 58 metres tall.

Construction on the Leaning Tower of Pisa began in 1178 and it has been leaning ever since! Because it is built on unstable soil, the tower began sinking by the time construction began on the third floor of the tower. Because of the tilt of the building, the upper floors were built with one side taller than the other. If you look carefully at the picture of the tower, you will see that the tower is curved. Although the tower was slowly sinking for a very long time, it never leaned too far over. It never fell over.

Starting in 1990 a lot of work was done on the tower and the ground around it. The work was done to stop the tower from sinking any more. In 2008 it was announced that the Tower was stabilized. Although it still leans, the tower has stopped moving.

 

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

1. The Tower of Pisa doesn't lean any more. Yes or no?

2. In 2008 it was announced that the Tower of Pisa has been stabilized. Yes or no?

3. Building start on the Tower of Pisa in 1178. Yes or no?

4. The Tower of Pisa fell over in 1990. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a ____________ tower.

6. Starting in 1990 a lot of work was done and the tower and the ____________ around it.

7. The _____________ floors were built with one side taller than the other.

8. The Tower is leaning because one of the tower was ________________.

9. Pisa is a city in ______________.

10. The soil that the tower is built on is ___________________.

Answers
a bride haveing her wedding pics taken at the Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China stretches for 6000 km across the northern part of China. It is not one long wall. It is a number of stone walls and earthen fortifications. Many centuries ago, around the 4th and 5th century BC, the first earthen walls were built.  They were usually built during time of war to keep invaders out. The first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, built the first large wall between 220 BC and 206 BC - more than 2000 years ago!. He connected numerous walls which had been built earlier.  He also added to the wall and made it longer.

Most of these ancient walls no longer exist because dirt and mud were used to build them. Some parts of the ancient wall were rebuilt in later centuries. Most of the Great Wall of China that exists today was built of brick and stone during the 15th century. Around 1440 to 1460 the Chinese were at war with the Mongolians who lived to the north of China.

In the past the wall helped defend China from invaders. Today the Great Wall is a tourist attraction especially the parts of the wall that are north of Beijing.  Here the wall has been renovated and fixed up. Many people visit the wall and walk on it. Other parts of the wall are in disrepair. At the western end, the wall was made of mud and it is being eroded by sandstorms

Vocabulary help:

More vocabulary?  Click on the icon that looks like a book, to the left

Comprehension Check:

1. The stone parts of the Great Wall were built more than 2000 years ago. Yes or no?

2. The Great Wall is in the northern part of China. Yes or no?

3. Part of the western end of the Great Wall is being eroded by sandstorms. Yes or no?

4. The first Emperor of China ruled during the 15th century. Yes or no?


Fill in the Blanks:

5. Most of the _____________ walls no longer exist because they were made of dirt.

6. The Great Wall was built to ___________ China from invaders from the north.

7. Parts of the wall have been _______________ and fixed up. Today they are tourist attractions.

8. Qin Shi Huang was the first ______________ of China.

9. The Great Wall of China is more than ________________ km long.

10. The wall was usually built during times of _____________.

Answers

Answers:


Machu Picchu

1. true, 2. false, 3. true, 4. false,

5. Andes, 6. built, 7. overgrown, 8. short, 9. hike,

Back ^


One Hundred Storeys High

1. no, 2. no, 3. yes, 4. yes,

5. taller, 6. three, 7. 101/492, 8. construction, 9. highest,

Back ^


The Leaning Tower of Pisa

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no,

5. bell, 6. ground, 7. upper, 8. sinking, 9. Italy, 10. unstable,

Back ^


The Great Wall of China

1. no, 2. yes, 3. yes, 4. no,

5. ancient, 6. defend, 7. rebuilt (or renovated), 8. emperor, 9. 6000, 10. war,

Back ^