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University Language Centre

Understanding the news

Get the most out of watching or listening to the news on TV, online or on the radio.

Before viewing

Make a note of what stories you expect to find included in this bulletin. Think about what is going on in that country at the moment, or of the major international stories you would expect to see covered. When you watch/listen to the news you can check how far you were right. Make sure you make a note of the channel and broadcast date.

Viewing

Initially just watch/listen to the headlines. They tend to go very fast and might be difficult to grasp. Stop and replay at the end of the headlines and listen to them several times before moving on to the main news stories.

Using the News Grid

Complete it vertically, filling in one or two columns for each time of viewing. Work on the headlines first and then on the full stories to complete the final columns, i.e. watching news headlines only:

  • fill in Type and Who column for each story;
  • repeat for Where and When etc;
  • What, Why, How and Comments will need further viewing including the main stories.

You will find that you understand the material better by following this process of scanning for particular information each time rather than trying to understand it all at once.

Then choose one of the headlines which has caught your imagination and speculate as to the content of the full report. Write notes (in the foreign language, of course).

Watch the rest of the bulletin, replaying as necessary to better understand each story. Concentrate particularly on the story you chose at point 1, and note as much information as you can.

After viewing

  • Re-write your chosen story as if for a newspaper/magazine, including a headline. Take into account the type of newspaper you are writing for, target readership etc.
  • Make some general comments about the news presentation by the anchor person, correspondents, interviewers etc., comparing them to news presentation in your own language/country.
  • Write your own script for your chosen story. With a friend/friends, borrow a digital camera or digital voice recorder and record yourselves acting as newscasters. If your course requires you to produce evidence of independent learning, the DVD/audio CD could be included with your dossier.

See also