Updated: Oct 3, 2020

This post looks at a video that is a TedTalk from a woman named Dawn who grew up in a cult. She talks about her experience and her opinion of cults now. This video is 16 minutes and 48 seconds long. This video is a great chance for intermediate level learners to practice understanding North American sarcasm. 

I’ve split this video into two sections for you. First, start by looking up the vocabulary words I provide you for section one, then watch part one of the video. Try to answer the comprehension questions. If you are struggling, watch part one again! Then do the same for part two. At the end you will find the answers for the comprehension questions and some more discussion questions to get you thinking in English! Feel free to answer one of the discussion questions in the comment box below! 

Video link: *

PART ONE (beginning - 9:00 minutes)


  • Angst 

  • Light-hearted 

  • Pin-stripes 

  • Surefire 

  • Confrontation 

  • Fringe group 

  • Pathological liar 

  • To recruit

  • Ecstatic 

  • Appalled 

Comprehension Questions

  1. What was one forbidden thing Dawn loved as a child?

  2. What did the stranger say to Dawn? 

  3. Who was in charge of the cult? What were they like? 

  4. Did women have equal rights?

  5. What was forbidden in the cult?

  6. What could they enjoy?

  7. What happened when Dawn was sent to get her haircut? 

PART TWO (9:00 minutes - end)


  • Burden

  • All-consuming 

  • A refuge 

  • To be shunned

  • Staunch loyalty 

  • Rated – R movie 

Comprehension Questions

  1. What happened when Dawn wore lipstick to church?

  2. Where did she live in college?

  3. What did she realize at college?  

  4. What did she do when she found out her cousin was being abused?

  5. Was it easy to leave the cult? 

  6. What did she do when she left?

  7. What did she tell the little girl on the street who was yelling the gospel at people ? 


  1. Why do you think Dawn was able to laugh about her experience?

  2. Do you know any cults or anyone who is in one?

  3. What is your opinion of cults? 

  4. Have you seen any good movies or TV shows about cults?


Part One

  1. Nailpolish 

  2. “One day you will grow up and you will realize you can leave all of this.” 

  3. Her grandparents George and Betty. He was a charismatic leader and an abusive narcissistic pathological liar. 

  4. Men and women did not have equal rights. 

  5. Dating, TV, science, ambitious females, clapping loudly (after a performance), psychiatry, dancing, happiness, freedom, adorable baby puppies.

  6. Kale, creepy men, climate change denial, pyramid schemes, weird diets, anxiety, sorrow, depression. 

  7. She got a very short haircut. Short hair was only for men. 

Part Two

  1. She had distracted an Elder the entire meeting with her lipstick. 

  2. She lived in a training home, with an Elder and his wife and kids. This was done to make sure she had no free time. 

  3. She realized there was a place for her if she wanted it. Women were in the arts and sciences. 

  4. She told her dad and he said he would take care of it. The abuse didn’t stop, it was covered up.

  5. It was very difficult. She left with her sister. But has a complicated relationship with her parents. She no longer speaks to her grandparents. 

  6. She went to therapy. She watched every rated - R movie, cut her hair short, painted her nails, pierced her ears. She decided to have a career and became a feminist. She started writing comedy. 

  7. “One day you will grow up and you will realize you can leave all of this.”

* Disclaimer: This video content is linked and intended for educational purposes only. The views or opinions of the content are that of the original creator and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Habit Language Lab.

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