Language Center
The Hong Kong University
of Science and Technology
English Advice Sheets
LISTENING TO THE NEWS
L2

  1. Who is this for?


  2. The aim of this leaflet


  3. Useful materials (accessible from the SAC)
 
  1. Learning tips


  2. Evaluating your progress


  3. Need help or advice?

1. Who is this for?

This leaflet is for anyone who wants to understand TV, radio or Internet broadcasts of news reports better.

2. The aim of this leaflet

The aim of this leaflet is to give you suggestions about what you can do to support your news listening. These include what you can do before, during and after listening. It also tells you about materials available in or accessible from the SAC, your own TV, radio or Internet-connected computer that can help you develop useful listening skills and build up your knowledge of words that are commonly used in the news.

3. Useful materials (accessible from the SAC)

  • Live news broadcasts

Remember the opening hours of the SAC (http://lc.ust.hk/~sac/sacguide.html#contacts)

TV and Radio stations in Hong Kong

TVB Pearl

This TV station is available everywhere in Hong Kong including on channel 1 in the SAC.

A full weekly programme guide can be found in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper.

THESE PROGRAMMES are the ones most recommended for learners of English (video recordings of the first one are available for the previous week, and the rest of them dating back to December 1999 are also available in the SAC - see below).

ATV World

This TV station is available everywhere in Hong Kong including on channel 3 in the SAC.

A full weekly programme guide can be found in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper.

THESE PROGRAMMES are the ones most recommended for learners of English (video recordings of most of them dating back to December 1999 are also available in the SAC - see below).

RTHK Radio 3

Live broadcasts of HK radio programmes in English can be found either on a conventional radio at 567 MW or 97.9 and 106.8 FM in most parts of Hong Kong.

Alternatively, audio files can be sent as a continuous stream to your PC from http://www.rthk.org.hk/channel/radio3/ or you can download them and listen to them in your own time and at your own pace.

A programme guide can be found at
http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/schedule/radio3/20000419.htm or in every daily newspaper.

In addition to various documentary series and special programmes (mainly at weekends), CLICK HERE for the best times to tune into Radio 3 to listen to programmes most recommended for learners of English.

RTHK Radio 6

See below

TV and Radio stations outside Hong Kong

BBC (UK)

This can be divided into BBC World Service Radio (including the special Learning English area) and BBC World TV.

Live broadcasts of BBC radio programmes in English can be found either on a conventional radio at 675 MW (in Hong Kong this is sometimes called Radio 6)

You can even choose to listen to news programmes only if you prefer (the advantage is that they are repeated at regular intervals throughout the day). If you wish you can download them and listen to them in your own time and at your own pace.

A monthly programme guide can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/schedules/

and can be downloaded in Excel spreadsheet format or as html pages. If you prefer you can subscribe to the monthly BBC On Air magazine which gives descriptions as well as the schedules of every programme by visiting http://www.bbconair.com/subscribe (price is £2 or about HK$290/year).

A programme of world news can be heard every hour, and The World Today / Newshour - an hour of current affairs - at 12pm and 9pm every weekday. In addition, THESE PROGRAMMES are the ones most recommended for learners of English.

BBC World TV is available on the cable channel and also at http://www.bbcworld.com if you have Real One installed on your computer.

A full weekly programme guide can be found by clicking on TV listings on the menu bar. And also in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper. Links to programmes according to topic are available at http://www.bbcworld.com/content/highlights/highlights.asp

A programme of world news can be heard every hour. In addition, THESE PROGRAMMES are the ones most recommended for learners of English which are broadcast when the SAC is open.

CNN International (USA)

This TV station is available on the cable channel in the SAC and also at http://www.cnn.com/ as part of CNN's Internet Newsroom. From the main CNN site, there is a link to the programming schedule page http://www.cnn.com/CNNI/schedules/schedule.6.html. There is a very useful feature of continually updated transcripts for most of the programmes available by clicking on Transcripts at the bottom of any CNN webpage.

You can also watch CNN live on the internet by clicking under the Real icon and then on the Top Story you wish to see at http://www.cnn.com/videoselect/

A full weekly programme guide can also be found in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper.

In addition to the news stories the programmes available at this site (Burden of Proof, Larry King Live, Crossfire) are all recommended for learners of English.

ATV International (Australia)

This TV station is available via satellite on channel 4 in the SAC. Since it broadcasts selections from a number of terrestrial Australian TV channels, you can expect to see a wide variety of programmes at different times of the day, e.g. sports, cartoons as well as hourly news bulletins.

A full weekly programme guide can also be found in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper.

THESE PROGRAMMES are the ones most recommended for learners of English which are broadcast when the SAC is open.

CNBC Asia (Singapore)

This TV station is available on the cable channel in the SAC. A programme guide with links to all the programmes (mostly about business in Asia with some about the USA, Europe and Australia) can be found by selecting "Hong Kong" at http://www.cnbcasia.com/showtimes/programme_showtimes.asp

A full weekly programme guide can be found in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper.

THESE PROGRAMMES are the ones most recommended for learners of English which are broadcast when the SAC is open.

Discovery Channel (USA)

This TV station with programmes mainly about travel, adventure and wildlife is available on the cable channel.

A full weekly programme guide can be found in the Sunday magazine of the South China Morning Post or Hong Kong Standard and daily schedules are listed in every daily newspaper.

Other cable channels

Details of the programmes shown on all the cable channels in the SAC, including the above, can also be found by selecting 25 on the cable channel 14.

The SAC records the 7:30pm news - and weather - from TVB Pearl every night and keeps the recordings for one week. Videotapes of the previous week's news can be found in the Multimedia Area. One way of using them is to plan to watch the news in Cantonese (6:30pm - TVB Jade) or Putonghua (6:30pm - TVB Pearl) first, then the following day use the videotape of the previous day to watch the same news in English (on Monday you can watch the news from both Saturday and Sunday). In this way you will know the content in advance and will be able to focus on the vocabulary used in the news broadcasts.

The SAC also records the 4 recommended TV programmes Inside Story, Hong Kong Connection, The Pearl Report and Newsline. Videotapes of these programmes dating from December 1999 - with a brief description of each - can be found in the Multimedia Area.

ITN World News (Multimedia Area) is a very good video pack compiled from real ITN news reports from London. The accompanying Activity Book takes you through many useful skills applicable to viewing any news reports.

Listening to the News (Multimedia Area) is a set of 6 videotaped recordings of the 7:30pm news from Hong Kong TV stations with accompanying worksheets and keys to practise intensive listening and check your comprehension.

Key Words in the Media ('Vocabulary' shelf in the SAC Area A) explains words and expressions that frequently occur in the news media. It is a useful vocabulary learning book to supplement your news viewing.

All these materials can be used before, during or after watching live or more recently-recorded or archived news broadcasts.

RTHK Radio 3 (Hong Kong)

The easiest way to listen to Radio 3 is from the RTHK website at http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/radio3/hongkongtoday/ There you can listen to the radio programmes as they're being aired live, or listen - at any time - to all the hourly news broadcasts dating back to 1st April 2000 at http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/archive/ and to the archived audio news programme Hong Kong Today or the weekly Letter to Hong Kong (both with transcripts) or to any of 13 other programmes dating back to 18th April 2000 at "http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/archive/#progarchive". You could also, of course, compare stories in English and Cantonese.

The resources below are the ones most recommended for learners of English:

Tonight at Six + hourly news summaries:

Audio version

http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/news/engbulletin/

Hong Kong Today:

Audio version

http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/radio3/hongkongtoday/

Text version

http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/radio3/hongkongtoday/

Letter to Hong Kong:

Audio version

http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/radio3/hongkongtoday/

Text version

http://www.rthk.org.hk/rthk/radio3/lettertohongkong/

VOA (Voice of America)

The VOA newsroom website has live video feeds of the news and archives of some current affairs programmes at http://www.voanews.com/tvnews/ It also has a Putonghua site at http://www.voa.gov/chinese/

The following 9 programmes are the ones most recommended for learners of English:

Communications World (3-month archive of audio/transcripts at
http://www.wrn.org/ondemand/communicationsworld.html and transcripts only searchable back to 1998 at http://www.trsc.com/cw/)


Talk to America (transcripts archived every week since 1998 at http://www.voa.gov/talk/archive/index.html)


NewsNow (live news in audio only at http://www.voa.gov/newsnow/ and a 7-day archive of transcripts at http://www.voa.gov/newsnow/)


Millennium Moments (audio/transcripts archived every weekday since April 1999 at http://www.voa.gov/moments/)

Special English programmes (30-minute audio broadcasts of the news and two features read at a slower speed and using a simplified vocabulary of about 1500 words) from the previous day can be found at http://www.voanews.com/specialenglish/index.cfm Programmes are broadcast live between 7:30-8:00am, 8:30-9:00am and 11:30-12:00pm but can be accessed at any time.


If you wish you can download them and listen to them in your own time and at your own pace. CLICK HERE for the schedule of daily features.

If you want to listen with a radio to any of the above programmes, schedules and frequencies can be found at http://www.voa.gov/index.cfm?sectionTitle=Shortwave%20Frequencies

CBS TV (USA)

Archived excerpts of the previous week's news and links to 7 news "programs" (documentaries) are available at http://cbsnews.cbs.com/ Look out for the audio and video symbols which appear after a description of each programme.

Archives of some 40 CBS TV shows (some of them currently being shown on TVB Pearl or ATV World) can also be found at http://cbs.com/

PBS Online (USA)

America's Public Broadcast Service Online NewsHour. Today's and yesterday's news and interviews with Jim Lehrer are available - usually with transcripts - in Real Audio format and text-only archives are searchable back to 1997. PBS provides audio mainly about American politics, but features interviews, so you get used to more conversational-type English as well as 'newsreader' English, and you can search for stories on certain topics, e.g. "Asia" (plenty on USA/China, human rights etc.) at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/

CBC Radio (Canada)

This is the website of Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's radio station. The site uses real audio so you can listen live or check out today's news by scrolling down the right-hand side to Daily Highlights can be found at http://cbc.ca/

Radio Australia

Radio Australia's Asia Pacific programme is broadcast live on Saturdays at 6:05am, 8:05am, 4:30pm and 6:05pm. Audio Archives at http://www.abc.net.au/ra/asiapac/listen.htm date back to April 1998. There's a useful link to Regional Extra which has a list of articles related to the archived radio programmes.

BBC World Service Radio and for Learning English (UK)

The website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/index.shtml features a number of useful resources including the following 8 programmes:

  1. Don't Hang Up!: A telephoning skills section (with words and sound)
  2. Open for Business: An online business English course (listening gap-fill and dictation exercises)
  3. Learn it!: a study skills section and in the Science & Technology section -
  4. Compuspeak: Learn the language of your computer with quizzes and explanations in RealAudio
  5. Network: Find out about learning and teaching English on the Internet, both now and in the future
  6. Everyday Science: Improve your scientific English with glossaries, stories and audio interviews about communication, water, energy and nutrition!
  7. Down to Earth: Learn the English of the environment through audio interviews and expand your vocabulary using the glossaries provided
  8. The Net Result: How the Internet has brought people together

One of the best features of this BBC site (which is easy to navigate, features both audio and video news, but has no transcripts) is that it also has news stories in Cantonese and Putonghua. Your starting-point to help you learn English using BBC World Service radio gives some great tips too at
http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/index.shtml

4. Learning tips

Getting ready for news listening ...

To improve your ability to understand news reports, consider these preparatory steps:

  • Find out which news report you want to listen to, when and on what channel.
  • Decide whether you want to listen to the news live or make use of video-recorded or archived materials on the WWW. The SAC records the TVB Pearl 7:30pm news every evening on weekdays and keeps them for a week and 5 current affairs programmes (Inside Story, Hong Kong Connection, Video Letters, The Pearl Report and Newsline) dating from December 1999. Working with a videotape is easier than watching the news live as it allows you to replay news reports as often as you like. Using archived materials on the web can be even more convenient
  • Just watch the report for a few days first, before requiring yourself to understand the stories. Give yourself time to get familiar with the newsreaders and their accents. You should also get an idea of the structure of the entire report as well as the structure of a typical news story.

While you are listening ...

A news report is often packed with information. So do not require yourself to understand everything. Set realistic targets. Stop and review a story if necessary to check understanding or to predict what is to follow. Here are a few things that you may try to do:

  • You can aim at just getting what a story is about. Give a one-to-two-sentence description after each story.
  • You can just focus on the latest development of a story to add to what you already know about it. In this way, you can reduce the listening load substantially and focus better. This strategy is especially useful if the event has been in the news over a period of time.
  • Put forward a few questions to yourself about a story, and then seek to answer them from your listening. You can do this by stopping the tape as soon as the headline is read to you. Certain questions are typical of different kinds of stories. You will find many examples of these questions in the book ITN World News.
  • You may write a full transcript of a story to practise intensive listening. This may bring to notice listening problems that have skipped your attention when you only concentrate on the content.
  • When you feel that you can cope with a certain news report, try to broaden your capability by listening to a different accent, or by watching other kinds of news programmes (e.g. Pearl Report).

After you have listened ...

Even though the listening part is over, some follow-up activities will help you reinforce your learning:

  • Keep a record book for note-taking, vocabulary, or just scribbling. This gives a physical shape to the work that you're done, and motivates you to continue.
  • Learn new words and try your best to make them stay learned. (See the advice sheet Learning vocabulary by reading or listening - V7)
  • You may write about the news. For example, you can produce a summary or express your thoughts in a brief article.
  • You may talk about the news with one or more friends. This provides an opportunity to clarify what has not been understood in the listening and to express personal opinions.

Equip yourself better for news listening

Vocabulary can be a big problem when you?e trying to understand the news. It pays to make extra effort to learn those words that occur frequently in the news. These include:

  • Names of people and places

    Pay attention to names in the news and jot them down in your record book if necessary. Take an active role to find out in English names that you know well in Chinese. Use a pronouncing dictionary (such as The American Heritage Dictionary, or the Longman Interactive Dictionary in the SAC) or ask a fluent or native speaker how they are pronounced.

  • Jargon

    The media use special words (e.g. regime, junta, hardliner are common in political news). They also use words in special ways (e.g. the territory for Hong Kong, the island for Taiwan). Try to build up your knowledge of these usages. A book like Longman's Key Words in the Media (see above) will be a valuable guide.

5. Evaluating your progress

It is hard to measure improvement of listening ability precisely. Nevertheless, the following may give you some indication of whether you are making progress:

  • Reflect on your general ability to cope with the news at a regular interval, say every two weeks. Compare this to how you felt at an earlier time.
  • Play a news story in short sections. Stop after each section to re-tell the content. Assess how many times you need to rewind the tape to get the story accurately.
  • If you have a partner watching the same report, you can quiz each other after viewing.
  • Assess your knowledge of words that are commonly used in the news. This should be growing gradually. You should not stumble over the same words again and again.

6. And Now...

  • If you would like any help or advice, or just a chat about your progress, please get in touch - we are here to support your independent learning ! To contact us:
  • see an Adviser, on duty at the SAC Advice Desk (for details of advisers and their availability, please go to http://lc.ust.hk/~sac/sacadviser.html)
  • e-mail lcsac (lccommons@ust.hk) with your query;
  • ask at the reception counter of the SAC — if the receptionist cannot help you directly, s/he will pass your query on to one of the SAC advisers.


Note
The introductory leaflet in this series is the leaflet Improving your listening (L1).

This advice sheet is part of the Listening series of leaflets supporting independent learning, produced by the HKUST Center for Language Education SAC team. This leaflet was written by Mark Hopkins and Joyce Lee, 1999, Version 2. If you copy from this leaflet, please acknowledge the source. Thanks.

©Copyright 2004 Center for Language Education, HKUST. All rights reserved.