C1+ AdvancedC2+ ProficiencyAuthentic ListeningSoundbitesUsing Soundbites for Extensive Listening Practice

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Soundbites is a collection of news bulletins from a wide range of authentic sources such as CNN and BBC. These give a taste of the kind of language used by native speakers around the world today and can be used as extensive listening practice for advanced learners. You can create a variety of short multiple-choice or comprehension exercises to encourage preliminary reactions and language awareness. Ask students to share their views with others (e.g. whether they agree or disagree), pick out arguments and respond to them.

Dictation is another useful activity, with the focus on the differences between spoken and written language. Students practise expressing the same ideas in a more formal written style. There may also be a short, semi-controlled piece of writing where students add some language of their own (e.g. note taking and summary writing).

Below are some suggestions for using soundbites from My English Tribe.

Step 1

Use the headlines (and visuals) to understand the context and activate your knowledge and language about the topic. For example, try answering the following questions:
  • What do you think the news bulletin is about?
  • What genre does it belong to (e.g. politics, international relations, environment, space technology, entertainment)?
  • What are the roles of the key people involved?
  • What is the name of the country or region in which the event occurred (if any)?
  • What key language is used in the headline and its meaning?
  • What specific language do you think you are likely to encounter afterwards?
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Step 2

  • Decode/Recognise the actual words the reporter uses by noting down keywords or transcribing the whole news bulletin. Remember you’re not testing yourselves, so you can replay the recording as many times as you need.
  • Unlike common listening comprehension practice, when you have to focus on the stressed content words, transcribing helps you to recognise lexical and grammatical words which are already part of your active vocabulary, but which are pronounced less clearly due to assimilation, elision, lack of stress, and so on.
  • Correct your work using the provided transcript. Don’t worry if there are a lot of words you can’t understand or recognise. Again, this is not a test.
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Step 3

Learn important language and phonological features from the news. Below are some suggestions:
  • What kind of language did the reporter use, its contextual meaning, how was it used and why? Highlight the lexical chains, paraphrases, etc.
  • Was the language strong, soft, or moderate? Was it consistent throughout?
  • What was the tone of the reporter? What did the tone of voice reflect? Accent, word stress, sentence stress, rhythm, etc.
  • Vowel and consonant reductions or any features of connected speech: weak forms, elision, linking, assimilation, etc. (any unclear word boundaries?)
  • Examples of colloquial expressions, false starts, loose referencing, exclusive referencing, fillers, etc.
  • What effect did these aspects have on the audience?
Try to apply what you've learnt by shadowing practice.
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Follow-Up

Complete the list below with information from the news item (where applicable):
  • Issue:
  • Government involvement:
  • Public involvement:
  • Expert opinion:
  • Public opinion
  • Reporter opinion:
Answer the questions below:
  • Do you think the news item has been adequately presented?
  • Are the views of all parties concerned addressed in it?
  • What is the angle of story? Is there an obvious bias to one side?
  • What are your feelings about what you have just heard?
Other suggestions:
  • In one sentence, summarise the news item.
  • Write a new headline for the news item.
  • Find and read similar articles online.
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References
Acknowledgements

All authors must admit to a dependence on the work of others. We are no exception. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the publications and reference sources that we have consulted and adapted for educational purposes. It would also have been quite impossible to have produced the material on this website without adapting a variety of authentic resources that we have regularly referred to. While every effort has been made, it has not always been possible to identify and cite the sources of all the material used or to trace all copyright holders. We will be happy to omit any contents or include any appropriate acknowledgements when they are brought to our notice.

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