Watching or listening to the news in another language is not easy - especially if you are listening to the "real thing," rather than a more slowly-spoken ESL version.
|News Inverted Pyramid|
Often the most recent version of what is happening on that particular story will include a short summary of the older events. If you watch the news regularly, you will already have some background on the story. The "new" content will not seem so strange if you are familiar with the general story itself.
- WHEN did this story happen?
- WHERE did it happen?
- WHO or WHAT is or was involved in the story? (This can often mean more than one individual or organization. Unless the person is famous or extremely well known, the name is not really important. The title of the group or organization, issue or cause that person represents is more important.
- WHAT happened in the story. This is usually the longest part and usually involves more than one thing. Usually all of the events relate to the main story or topic, but there will be details. What is important is sorting out the important details from the small details.
- HOW did it happen. Sometimes this is not importantly. Other times, it adds to the details. For example, if the story is about a mass murder, and the police know how, it will be mentioned.
- WHY did something happen, is something happening, or will it happen? What is the reason for the problem, meeting, discussion, disagreement, solution etc.? Why is one person agreeing and another one disagreeing.
- Do NOT try to listen to or understand every single word you hear. Even native speakers can't do this on one listening, or even two, so why should you think you should be able to. If you make the mistake of trying to do this, you will immediately find it much too difficult and give up almost immediately.
- Listen with a purpose. Have a piece of paper ready before you listen. Write out numbers or words such as Story #1, Story # 2, Story #3, and leave space so that you can write down words or phrases.
- Listen to or watch the newscast, or podcast several times. In listening tests, you are only allowed to listen once, but right now you are trying to practice and improve, so listen more than once.
- On your first listening, listen to the entire newscast all the way though in order to get a general idea of what each news item is about. If it a video podcast, or simply a video, try closing your eyes and listening carefully without the distraction of pictures.
- Concentrate on and pay attention to listening for key words. These are important content words that can help you figure out the content. Examples of these words are: negotiations,. contract, economic recession, convicted, sentenced, military skirmish, attack, retreat etc.
- Write key words as soon as you hear them. Also write down new vocabulary you have not heard before. Don't worry about the spelling yet.
- After you have listened all the way through once, write the number of stories you watched or heard, and what you think the main topic is for each story. Don't try to write sentences. Keep it to words and phrases. Write down any extra words you can remember.
- Before you listen for the second time, write out WHEN, WHERE, WHO, WHAT. WHY AND HOW under each story and its topic ( if you have one). See if you can remember enough to add information on any of the WH categories. Leave space for your next listening.
- On your second listening, listen to one story at a time and try the following activities.
- Listen to the entire story. Then stop the player. In this listening, you are trying to catch some of the important details. As you are listening, try to add additional key words and details to your who, what, when, where, why categories.
- Use short forms of words That YOU you can understand. For example, for money, you write $. For the word conference, you could write conf. For "captured", you could write capt.
- As soon as you stop the recording, write out the complete word for your shortened words or symbols. Add any other details you can remember and didn't have time to write down. Remember DO NOT need to understand every word, or remember every detail.
- Try to guess the meaning of new words you wrote down based on the topic and the context of the story. Then, look them up in the dictionary to see if you are correct. If you are not, write the definition.
- It would be useful for you to have a vocabulary notebook divided into topics areas, for example, economy, weather, disasters, crime etc. That way you can add the word and the definition in the specific category it belongs to.
- After your second listening of each story, try to write a one or two sentence summary of what the story is about based on what you have already written about the topic key words and answers to the WH questions.
- Work with one story at a time. When you finish the first story, listen to the entire second story and follow the same procedure. Continue until you have finished all the stories.
- If you need to listen to the story a third time, listen to the entire story again and repeat the same procedure as you did in the previous step.
Listening Comprehension Activity
Follow a lightly different method for the following listening comprehension activity because I have added some comprehension questions. These questions will help you to focus on listening for specific information.
1. Watch today's edition of The News on Demand. and follow the procedures in step 1
BEFORE you look at the comprehension questions. Write down key words and the
topic of each story .
2.; Then, look at the questions for each story, and try to answer the questions. if you can
2. What do you think the word "vandalize" means?
1 What negotiations has Canadian Prime Minister Steven Harper been asked to join?