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University Language Centre


In the activities in this section you will consider some different ways of producing effective notes. You will learn to recognise and use some note-taking techniques and practise taking notes on a number of different paragraphs.

Note-taking strategies

Introduction to note-taking

You will consider some commonly used techniques and strategies for taking notes when you are reading.

Using spidergrams for note-taking

You will practise using a spidergram to complete notes taken from a short text and then compare using a spidergram with using linear notes.

The importance of making notes

You will identify some useful strategies to use in lectures when note-taking and/or listening to a talk.

Note-taking practice

Selecting the main points from notes

This is a short practice exercise in which you will look at some notes that a student has produced from a paragraph and distinguish the main points from the supporting points.

Making notes on the main points

In this learning object you will read a text and consider how best to make notes on the main points that it contains. You will also practise distinguishing main and supporting points in the text.

Comparing notes

You will compare three sets of notes on the same paragraph. You will evaluate them and decide which are the most effective.

Abbreviations and symbols

You will learn to recognise some common abbreviations and symbols.

Expanding notes

You will consider how to make sure that notes are clear enough to interpret when you read them later. You will practise expanding some notes made from a paragraph and make brief but clear notes on the paragraph yourself.

Note-taking practice

You will practise identifying main points in a short text and reducing them to note form.

Recognising the effect of modal verbs

You will study the importance of modal verbs when you are taking notes and you will categorise examples of modal verbs according to their use.

Reporting the work of other writers

You will work on a text, note down the main points, then write a short report, using reporting verbs.

Listening and note-taking activities

Listening to a short talk

You will predict the content of a short talk. You will then practise listening to the talk and complete a set of notes with some guidance.

Making comparisons

You will do a guided listening and note-taking activity using a talk which focuses on a comparison. You will also use the audio to review the language of comparison.

Describing a process

In this learning object you will review and practise some of the language associated with process description and then identify examples of this kind of language in a short talk. You will use a talk about a process for listening practice.

The oral and written uses of reporting verbs

You will compare the way in which reporting verbs are used in a short extract from a talk and in an extract from an essay. This learning object includes some listening and note-taking practice.

Listening and taking notes

You will listen to the first part of an interview with two computer scientists about open source and proprietary software, and make notes. Then you will annotate your notes to guide further listening's.

Using a note-taking template

You will listen to a further extract from the discussion in the previous listening activity and take notes using a template. 

Extended listening

You will listen to a longer extract from the discussion above and add to your notes.