Listening and watching news

Here's another news clip with questions from my favourite student news show in Australia.  

This week the story is about asthma.  Asthma is something lots of people suffer from in Istanbul so I thought it might be interesting.  What is more, as the weather is warmer now there is probably lots of dust, pollen and higher pollution levels which can cause asthma attacks for these people.

Click here for video

Click here for questions

Record your speaking

Here's a reminder from last week's lesson....

If you want to improve your speaking you should record yourself using your mp3 player or mobile phone.  
Then listen and analyse yourself. 

But what should you listen for?

  • Are your verb tenses correct?
  • Is your sentence structure (subject, verb, object) OK?
  • Do you use prepositions correctly?
  • Are you using Articles correctly?
  • Are all your sentences simple, or do you use complex grammar (such as first conditional, reported speech, passive etc)?


  • Can you find the words you need when you speak?
  • Do you only use simple words?  Can you use some new words from class?
  • Do you connect your ideas together? (using firstly, after that, while, so, and then etc.)

There are so many things you can check.  It will help you to understand what your speaking problems are.

To help you start here are some topics for you to talk about.  And then I'm sure you can think of some other topics yourself.

You can record yourself again and again with the same topic.  Hopefully each time you can better and include more complex grammar and vocabulary.

And with all this practice your speaking level should match your class level!

Happy speaking!

Correct your speaking mistakes

So here are the mistakes I wrote down from class last week - remember when you had your discussion about competitive sports.  
Can you remember what was wrong?  
Don't look at your notes and see if you can correct these sentences.

Download the sentences here

Problems with USED TO, BE/GET USED TO

I've found a teaching video which should help you with these problems.

You Tube has some great videos for listening practice!

What I really like about this story is that foreign university students in London set up the project.  

And the result was so simple, but it completely changed the lives of people in Rwanda, Africa.  

Watch the video and see how much you can generally understand - you don't need to focus on every word as the pictures are very helpful.

Listening for details

In class we focus on listening to understand the general story, and listening for specific information.
Sometimes it helps to listen very carefully to every word and try to write down what you hear.  So this is what you are going to do in these activities.

Activity A - First of all play the recording below to listen to these sentences, and decide which you hear first - a or b.  You may need to listen several times to check you have the correct answer. 

1. a)  She's made it.                                  b)  She made it.
2. a)  He'd started it.                                  b)  He started it.
3. a)  You're taught it.                                b)  You taught it.
4. a)  I've lost it.                                         b)  I lost it.
5. a)  We'll watch it.                                   b)  We watch it.
6. a)  I won't buy it.                                    b)  I want to buy it.
Activity B - Now play the recording below to listen to some different sentences, and write down what you can hear.  You will hear each sentence twice.  However, you may need to listen several times to help you write down all the words.
Click here to check all your answers.

If you think this helps your listening, why don't you record some speaking from the TV or internet videos (news programs are good) and try to write down everything.  It doesn't matter if you don't understand every word because you can still guess the general meaning.  It will also help you to learn new words.

Why don't you listen and analyse your own speaking?

Well done!

This was your first debate in class and you only had 10 minutes to prepare, so I think you did very well.  Also it's very difficult to speak when you know it is being recorded, so I think you may have felt a little nervous at the start.

I managed to write down some of the "typical" speaking mistakes that students make, and we can go through those in the next class.  However, you might find it useful to listen to yourselves, and think about your fluency and accuracy.  Notice where you make mistakes or what you would like to improve, and see if you can work on that.  

Click here to listen to the debate

Unfortunately, with all the pressure of the recording and the excitement of the congestion charge(!) you didn't have time to work on using those great "discussion phrases" that we looked at in class.  Perhaps you could listen and think about which phrases you could have used. 

Recording your own speaking every few days or every week is a very good idea as it helps you to focus on your mistakes at home.  Then you can try to avoid these mistakes when speaking in class. 

A fun way to improve your listening

National Geographic has an interesting education website.  

You can watch videos on various subjects and answer questions about them.  To get you started I've included a link here to watch a video about earthquakes.  If you enjoyed this then take a look at some of the other videos they have on their page.

Click here to watch the video and answer questions
((If the link doesn't work then open it in a new window)


How can I improve my reading?

When we study a reading text in class I always give you a time limit to find the answers.  This means you need to focus on the words you understand and guess the meaning of words you don't know.  This can be quite difficult so it is a good idea to practice the process often.  

You can click here to read a recent news story  about the earthquake in Japan and practice this process.  The text will probably be difficult for you but that means you need to use the tactics you learn about in class.  
  • Please don't use a dictionary as this won't help you develop this skill.
  • Try to read and focus on the words you understand to help you generally understand the text.
  • If there are one or two words that you don't understand try to work out the grammar of these words (eg. are they verbs, nouns, adjectives etc.?)
  • If there are too many difficult words then try to read a different sentence.  (When you read a long text you don't need to understand every sentence.)
  • Then try to guess what these words might mean in this sentence - you don't need to be perfect.
  • If you think any of the words may be useful for you in the future then write them down.  You can check their exact meaning in a dictionary, after you have finished the reading activity.  Plan to use these words in class next week.  You can get bonus points if I notice you have used a new word from this text!!!!!
You don't need to read everything - remember 10 to 15 minutes a day is best.  The more you practice this process with different texts the easier it will become.  

This ability to work out language is necessary if you want to use English at work or take exams, such as IELTS or TOEFL, in the future.  Also, all your future reading exams in English will test this ability.

Reading newspapers for IC2

Reading newspapers not only improves your reading, but it all helps you to:

> learn new and useful words
> notice grammar in a real situation and improve your understanding of grammar
> learn new grammar
> improve your writing 

Why don't you try reading a short article once or twice a week from the Hurriyet Daily News.  You can choose articles about world news or Turkish news.  It might feel really difficult at first, but just spend 5 to 10 minutes trying to understand the general information.  With practice this gets easier.  

And it's all free!

Click here to go the news website