Michelle's independent resources for ESL Students at Vancouver Community College

This is a Canadian ESL blog for Intermediate and Advanced Students who want to learn and improve their English. Each PAGE above contains thousands of free English lessons, tutorials and practice exercises to help you learn and improve your English grammar, reading, listening, pronunciation, speaking, writing and editing. Some of the resources are Canadian. Others are from around the world.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Three Reasons to Watch News Podcasts

Are you looking for a new and easier way to  find out what is going on around the world?

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or CBC, is now broadcasting a 10 minute TV news podcast called The National on Demand.

Only available as a podcast on the Internet from Monday to Friday, the 10 minute newscast features the most important national and international stories of the day. 

Why Watch the National on Demand?    

It Can Help Improve your Ability to Make "Small Talk" 

Watching these short newscasts gives you with the opportunity to keep up with current events " in English. Many of you, especially immigrants who actually want to try,  have problems making small talk with people at work or in other situations. Often this is because you don't know what to talk about. If you live in an English speaking country, it is always an advantage to be able to talk about what is going on. 

Watching short newscasts and being aware of events happening around the world gives you an automatic opening, or even long lasting topic to speak about when you are trying to make small talk. 

It Can Improve your Understanding of "Fast English"

Regular listening and watching can also help you to understand "fast English" One of the most common complaints I hear from students is " that they can't understand the real news because the announcer speaks too fast. 

I believe it.  But, this will continue to be true forever unless you do something to help yourself understand " fast" English. Listening to or watching programs such The National on Demand, or Six Minute News on  BBC is an excellent way to train your ear to become familiar with "fast English,", particularly fast English news. The more you listen to fast English, the more your gets used to the stress, rhythm and intonation of  the way English speakers speak. Keep in mind, this may be fast English, but is correctly spoken  English.  

One of the terrific features of the News on Demand is that it has a library of hundreds of previous newscasts. This means you can listen to a variety of different newscasts over and over again as often as you want. 

It Can Help Improve Your Topic Based Vocabulary  
Finally, regularly listening to and watching a program such as News on Demand  can help you to increase your topic based vocabulary.  News programs usually use the same vocabulary for topics such as the environment, economic issues, international conflicts, labour issues, crime etc. So, the more you hear and pay attention to specific words, the easier it will be to remember them.

Remember, one of the most important aspects about learning and remembering vocabulary is familiarity. If you keep hearing a word or an expression like " the government has banned banned smoking, drinking, eating,( prohibited, will not allow, not permit),  or  contract talks have fallen through, or broken down ( they have failed) 10 times or more, you are much more likely to remember what they mean than if you have only heard it once. The word banned means prohibited, or not allowed. 

To watch the 10 minute podcast go to The National on Demand .   You can also subscribe to the newscast and receive it every day as an  itunes podcast   or through an RSS subscription feed.

For information on how to get the most out of watching an English news program, read my 
next post: Tips for on How to Watch or Listen to the News. 


  1. Hi Michelle,

    We really enjoyed these tips! Thanks for sharing!


  2. I'm glad you enjoyed it Sarah. Are there any other topics you would like to read about?


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