CNN, the Cable News Network, provides a source of information about important or simply interesting national and international stories, along with national weather and sports.
Besides furnishing news, CNN supports useful listening practice. And the more you listen to it, the better you will get at understanding the stories themselves. This is especially true for CNN’s Headline News. CNN Headline stories tend to be short: few last longer than five minutes and many are less than a minute. This means that if you record the story (even by audiotape), you can look at it in depth, trying to pick out new vocabulary, taking detailed notes, and even doing a dictation of it.
There are two additional advantages to CNN Headline News. First, the material is cyclic: much of it repeats every half hour or hour, but the repetition often includes new material blended with the old. This aids both comprehension and the learning of new vocabulary. Second, you can read about the top stories on the web at http://cnn.com. By reading before you listen and then thinking about that material, you prepare yourself to comprehend and retain the new material better. You can also see a print version of some CNN shows making it easier to recognize and look up new vocabulary. Check the transcript list at www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/.
Keep in mind that CNN does not generally provide in-depth coverage, nor support developing the skills in listening to longer pieces (like university lectures) that some other news programs do. For more in-depth news, try the News Hour with Jim Lehrer, which comes on at 6:00 PM on Channel 9. The News Hour only does a few stories each night and spends a lot more time on them.
Besides CNN, there are other network, national news shows on in the early evening. These include ABC News (Channel 7 @ 5:00), CBS News (Channel 5 @ 5:30), and NBC News (Channel 11 @ 5:30). There are also a number of local television stations who have news programs. To get all the information on what TV shows are on what stations, go to www.tvguide.com.
Of course you can also find clips of TV news shows on the web. www.cnn.com and www.newshour.org are good sources—the News Hour site has transcripts with the video
Early morning news broadcasts in the S.F. Bay area begin at 5:00 a.m. and end at 7:00 a.m. These news broadcasts include traffic information, the weather report, as well as local news and information about local activities/festivities. The main stories and updates are repeated about every half hour. Beginning at 7:00 a.m – 9 a.m.. many Americans watch the so-called “morning shows,” including the following programs: “Mornings on 2” (Channel 2); “Good Morning, America (ABC), “Today” (NBC) (Channels 8/11); “The Early Show” (CBS). These shows include segments for local news, national news and weather, plus interviews with a variety of guests.
A number of local television stations also have news programs around dinner time and later in the evening. In general each news show is a little different, but the local news shows have some points in common that make them interesting for listening practice. First, like local newspapers, they cover national and world news of importance along local news. Besides “straight news,” the local programs are more likely to have what are called “human interest” stories, sometimes with a happy ending.
The format is often like a panel, with three or four people together at a desk, taking turns presenting stories. One is usually a specialist in sports, another in weather. They talk to one another from time to time, giving you an opportunity to observe conversational English.
The longer you live in the area, and the more you get to know about the people and places here the more you will understand and appreciate the local stories. Conversely, the more you watch and understand the local stories, the more you will get to know the local people and places.
If you decide to watch local news, I suggest you select a single channel and watch it regularly for a while. Watch at a time and place where you will not be distracted. One strategy is to sit in front of the TV and try to note the main idea of each story. If you have a closed-caption option, keep it turned off during this time. Listen, don’t read. If you decide to record, you can turn on the captions for review.
A TECHNIQUE FOR DEEP LISTENING
Listen to (and record) a news show or find a clip on the web.
Find a single story, 2-5 minutes long. Listen to it once for meaning. Pause and write down a summary. (recall)
Listen again for meaning. Add details below your summary as you listen. (note taking)
Listen again, and this time try to notice any parts you don’t understand. Note the areas you’re having trouble with.
Listen again, and this time pause the tape when you don’t understand something, or when you hear something new even if you do understand it. Take note of new vocabulary. Rewind as needed.
Do (5) again. And again if needed. Turn on captioning or check the transcript if available just for parts you can't get after three tries.