In January 2009, the former U.S. Ambassador to Russia John Beyrle appeared on highly respected Vladimir Posner’s news interview and talk show. In this episode we hear him telling about himself and his father. You can see English subtitles so you can understand what’s being said in the video. After you have advanced a bit, turn the subtitles off to really test your listening ability.

This video material presents typical features of real talk, where natural language, pauses, backtracking, false starts, digressions, recapping, filler words, stalling, and other hallmarks of one-way communication are all vividly and realistically depicted.

An ongoing task for you is to expand your listening ability and stretch your vocabulary. For this you need (a) practice listening to difficult material, (b) take notes effectively, c) build your vocabulary.

A) It is usually best to focus on ideas or key points, rather than on details. For example, you may remember a funny story the speaker told to make a point; but you missed the point. Make sure that you listen to the right things. To be prepared for this you should ask yourself these questions: What point is the speaker trying to make? What main ideas should I remember? How does this information relate to what I already know?

B) Taking notes will not only help you remember, it will help you organize what the speaker is saying. And it may even aid your understanding and retention. There are many different ways to take notes; for example, linear outlining, mindmapping, and key word methodology.

C) Listen to this material that contains challenging words. Learn the meanings of new words and acronyms. Jot them down as you listen so you can look up the meanings later, and keep a dictionary nearby to look up new words.


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