Say you don’t have time for English homework? What about one minute a day..?
Some of my students + clients listen to BBC news when they come in to work in the morning or when they put their feet up at home, and it’s a great way to start getting more English into your lifestyle. The idea is to create a new learning habit, to ‘switch over’ some things you do in your first language to the language you are trying to learn.
But if you are ‘just listening’ you might not be making the most of your time in English. Even if it’s just for a few minutes, you can be more effective!
What to do?
Active learning is the idea that you’re interacting with the language, even if the interaction is connected to an article you’re reading or a programme on the radio. It’s going from simply ‘just listening’ or ‘just reading’ to actively doing something in the target language.
In short, active, targeted learning.
For example, the BBC has a nice one-minute summary of the hour’s main news headlines here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/video_and_audio/
The news headlines involve 3 or 4 stories, developing or changing as the day goes on.
I’d like one of my own students to do this worksheet at home and report back to me in class. And you can too either on your own or with an American friend. Download the worksheet below, and see if you can fill in the information asked.
If you’re Intermediate, then getting the main idea (the gist) is a very good start. The higher your level, the more you can look for specific vocabulary, including collocations and idiomatic expressions, and the more you can listen for specific information.
Ok, you’ll need more than a minute 😉 See what you can achieve in 10-20 minutes by listening to it twice for the headlines and specific information of the story, and a third time to listen out for some collocations.
If the link doesn’t work, this one below should do it:
The Latest Headlines
Today’s first story concerns the problems with the US Government budget deficit and the issue of raising the debt ceiling.
Some vocabulary items you hear in just 15 seconds include:
the US Congress has cut a deal
agreeing in principle
agreeing in principle to raise the country’s debt ceiling [agree to do something]
neither party has got what it wants
the agreement still has to pass a vote
A springboard for discussion
On a heavy news day this can be a good way to start a conversation class. In addition, doing this kind of activity regularly can be excellent practice for the Cambridge ESOL Exams (eg FCE, CAE, BEC Vantage and BEC Higher) and help improve your confidence with interacting in English.
And you don’t need to pay a single cent for it. Pretty cool, huh 😉