What’s in Today’s Episode?

You’re going to learn about the words adulation, arduous, indispensable, intrigue, locale, lofty, navigation, option, prejudice and utilize in the context of a story about the great arctic explorer Mathew Henson. So if you’re interested, join me in this new Word Power episode from English Plus Podcast.

Audio Episode

Matthew Henson, Arctic Explorer

Matthew Henson was born in 1866 on a Maryland farm. As an African American, Henson had few options for earning a livelihood. Therefore, when he was 13 years old, he decided to run away and hire himself out as a cabin boy on a vessel bound for France and the Philippines. The ship’s captain liked Henson and urged him to utilize the ship’s library to learn navigation. Henson studied hard and applied what he learned as the ship traveled from one exotic locale to another.

After the captain died, Henson tried to make a life for himself on land, but racial prejudice discouraged African Americans from seeking lofty positions, so Henson took whatever lowly work he was offered. This included a job as a stock boy in a naval supply store. That job, however, was a turning point, for it was there that Henson met Robert E. Peary, a civil engineer for the United States Navy. Henson was intrigued by Peary and asked to accompany him on his next voyage.

Over the next 20 years, Peary made seven trips to the Arctic. Henson became an invaluable member of Peary’s crew, acting mainly as Peary’s personal attendant. Henson also learned the Inuit language and helped establish a solid working relationship between the native people of the Arctic region and Peary’s crew.

It was on the 1908-1909 voyage that Peary decided to locate the North Pole. The journey was arduous. Peary sent back all the members of his party except for Henson and four Inuit guides. Henson’s ability to communicate with the guides in their own language and his knowledge of navigation made him indispensable. Suffering from exhaustion and frostbite, Peary left Henson the task of discovering the Pole. On April 6,1909, the former cabin boy became the first person to stand on the North Pole. Peary could barely lift his arm as Henson placed an American flag on the northernmost spot on Earth. Upon their return, Peary and his crew were honored with medals and adulation. Henson did not receive any glory until more than 30 years later. In 1944, 11 years before he died, Henson was finally awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.


An option is something that you can choose to do in preference to one or more alternatives.

If you keep your options open or leave your options open, you delay making a decision about something. If you take the soft option, you do the thing that is easiest or least likely to cause trouble in a particular

If you utilize something, you use it.

use, employ, deploy, take advantage of

to make practical or worthwhile use of

You can refer to the movement of ships as navigation.

sailing, cruising, steering, maneuvering

the skill or process of plotting a route and directing a ship, aircraft, etc., along it

A locale is a small area, for example the place where something happens or where the action of a book or film is set.

site, place, setting, position

a place or area, esp. with reference to events connected with it

Prejudice is an unreasonable dislike of a particular group of people or things, or a preference for one group of people or things over another.

If you prejudice someone or something, you influence them so that they are unfair in some way.

If you take an action without prejudice to an existing situation, your action does not change or harm that situation.

A lofty ideal or ambition is noble, important, and admirable.

noble, grand, distinguished, superior

If you say that someone behaves in a lofty way, you are critical of them for behaving in a proud and rather unpleasant way, as if they think they are very important.

If something, especially something strange, intrigues you, it interests you and you want to know more about it.

interest, fascinate, arouse the curiosity of, attract

intrigue is the making of secret plans to harm or deceive people.

Something that is arduous is difficult and tiring and involves a lot of effort.

difficult, trying, hard, tough

requiring great physical or mental effort; difficult to accomplish; strenuous

If you say that someone or something is indispensable, you mean that they are absolutely essential and other people or things cannot function without them.

essential, necessary, needed, key

not to be disregarded or escaped

adulation is uncritical admiration and praise of someone or something.

extravagant flattery, worship, fawning, sycophancy

obsequious flattery or praise; extreme admiration

Interactive Activities



Spelling Practice



More Practice (Downloadable Practice Worksheet-PDF)

Episode 478 | Word Power | Mathew Henson by English Plus Podcast on Scribd

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