The history of U2 or: What was a U2? (Intermediate or Advanced English lesson.)

Essas aulas de inglês são para alunos intermediários e avançados de inglês como segunda língua. Eles incluem “Ler”, “Ouvir” e “Escrever”. Basta seguir a lição respondendo às perguntas à medida que as encontra.

Todas as vagas em negrito devem ser traduzidas para seu próprio idioma para ajudar na compreensão do novo vocabulário.

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BAND MEMBERS:  Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. Ivan McCormick, Dick Evans

U2 are an Irish rock band from Dublin, formed in 1976.  But do you know what “U2” actually means? What was a U2?

LISTENING EXERCISE:  Listen to this popular U2 song and answer the questions below.


First:  make a note and correct any punctuation and spelling mistakes you find in the lyrics of this song.

Second:  Answer the following questions about the expressions used in this song.

            1. What is     ‘A stone set in your eyes? ‘
            2. What is     ‘A thorn twisted in your side?’
            3. What is a      ‘A sleight of hand?’
            4. What is a     ‘A twist of fate?’
            5. What is a     ‘A bed of nails?’

Explain the five expressions above please.

The origin of a ‘U2’


            1. What was a U2 and what was it used for?
            2. How high could a U2 fly?
            3. What could the cameras on the plane photograph and from what height?

The U2 History

The USA / USSR incident. 

The U-2 Incident was a confrontation in 1960 between the United States and the Soviet Union that began with the shooting down of a U.S. U-2 reconnaissance plane over the Soviet Union and caused the collapse of a summit conference in Paris.

VOCABULARY: confrontation, shooting down, summit



The late 1940s and 1950s were trying times for America. The emerging Cold War escalated the risk of a confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union involving use of atomic weapons, including hydrogen bombs. In 1957, the USSR launched Sputnik, the world’s first sat-ellite, tested the world’s first ICBM, and began conducting flights with new advanced bomber aircraft. When these surprising events occurred, there was increasing alarm that the USSR had surpassed the US in both nuclear arms and bomber capability. The US accelerated its development of launch vehicles and combat aircraft. On the home front, the Office of Civil Defense was initiated, Americans started building fallout shelters, and school children began practicing “Drop Drills.” 

VOCABULARY: the cold war, sputnik, fallout, shelters, drop drills
A U2 spy plane
If in the face of these threats, it became clear that the US had limited intelligence about actual Soviet capabilities, especially in terms of operational bomber and ICBM advances and their ability to produce such weapon systems. There was much speculation about these capabilities, but a paucity of “hard” intelligence data.  As early as 1950, the Soviets had begun conducting threatening intercepts against all aircraft approaching its borders. Our existing US reconnaissance aircraft, the RB-47 and RB-57D, were vulnerable to their missiles and fighters and thus were unable to acquire the needed intelligence. Given the compelling need for aerial photographs of the USSR, and the fact that space borne surveillance was not yet available, the only solution was to develop a high flying spy plane that could operate beyond the reach of Soviet weapons systems.
VOCABULARY: in the face of these threats, a paucity, reconnaissance, space borne surveilance
In 1953, the USAF released a study contract, termed Bald Eagle, for a surveillance aircraft that could reach 70,000 ft (beyond the estimated range of USSR fighters, missiles and radars), and fly 3,000 miles. The aircraft would be tasked to carry cameras that could image ground targets with a resolution of 2.5 feet.
Lockheed submitted a proposed design crafted by Kelly Johnson, Lockheed’s renowned Chief Engineer and head of their “Skunk Works” division.  Kelly’s already famous accomplishments included the P-38, P-80 and F-104 fighter aircraft, and would later include the famous SR-71 Blackbird spy plane.
VOCABULARY: USAF, resolution, crafted by, renowned
Lockheed’s proposed design was based on a modified version of the XF-104 fuselage, the use of a single engine of an existing design, jettisonable wheels and a landing skid, and long glider-like wings (in essence, a jet powered glider). The Lockheed proposal was rejected by USAF evalua-tors since they preferred a twin engine design and did not approve of the unconventional landing gear feature.
VOCABULARY: fuselage, jettisonable, a glider, landing gear
The project was essentially suspended until a group of notable scientists, who favored the Lock-heed design, presented their findings and recommendations to the CIA’s leader, Allen Dulles, and to President Eisenhower. Eisenhower, eager to find a solution to the intelligence gathering dilemma,  recommended that a new reconnaissance program be initiated and that it be controlled by the CIA instead of the Air Force. Lockheed’s design was then covertly funded by the CIA under the banner Project “Aquatone.” Kelly Johnson’s team, racing in the face of urgent need, delivered the first aircraft in July of 1955, only eight months after contract start!
VOCABULARY: notable, intelligence gathering, covertly, funded, CIA
Section One:
Q1 What was the COLD WAR?
Q2 What was the SPUTNIK?
Q4 What is a  DROP DRILL?
Section Two:
Q1 What does it mean:  ‘In the face of’
Q2 What is a ‘a paucity?’
Q3 What is ‘reconnaissance?’
Q4 What is ‘ space borne surveillance?’
Section Three:
Q1 What is ‘surveillance?’
Q2 What is ‘resolution ?’
Q3 What does ‘ crafted by’ mean?
Q4 What does ‘ renowned’ mean?
Section Four:
Q1 What is a ‘ fuselage,’?
Q2 What does ‘jettisonable’ mean?
Q3 What is ‘landing gear’ ?
Section Five:
Q1 What does ‘notable’ mean ?
Q2 What is ‘ intelligence gathering’ ?
Q3 What  does ‘ covertly funded by the CIA’ mean ?
Write 150 words onthe following subject: Do you think that The United States and Britains imperialistic approach and influence over the world in this last 200 years has been a positive or a negative thing for the world.
Use the following grammar concent in your text:  PAST PROGRESSIVE and PAST PERFECT see the two revision videos below.
  1. What is ‘A stone set in your eyes? ‘     This means ‘to make a strong / firm decision’.
  2. What is ‘A thorn twisted in your side?’  This means ‘a person or thing that repeatedly annoys someone or something or causes problems
  3. What is a ‘A sleight of hand?’  This means ‘The noun phrase sleight of hand is defined as “a cleverly executed trick or deception” or “a conjuring trick requiring manual dexterity,” as well as skill or adroitness in doing these things. For example magic.
  4. What is a ‘A twist of fate?’  This means ‘An unfortunate, often ironic turn of events.’
  5. What is a ‘A bed of nails?’ This means ‘. a difficult situation or way of life. Difficult situations and unpleasant experiences’.







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