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Listening for Details & Information

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  • 0:03 Listening for Details…
  • 1:05 Use Key Words
  • 2:19 Take Helpful Notes
  • 2:55 Practice Rephrasing
  • 4:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth has been involved with tutoring since high school and has a B.A. in Classics.

If you struggle with picking out specific details from a listening passage, this lesson is for you. Learn about strategies for using key words, taking notes, and practicing your listening and rephrasing skills.

Listening for Details and Information

When you're listening to a speaker or a recording, sometimes you just want to know some specific information or a particular detail. For example, you might be listening to a recorded phone message for a business and all you really want to know is the hours the store will be open tomorrow. You don't care about the rest of it. Some tests will also measure your ability to listen for particular details or pieces of information in a passage. Listening for details in spoken English can be pretty tough. Sometimes it can feel like the listening passage goes by too fast or that it has too many details to keep track of all of them. Other times, it can be hard to pick specific details out of the passage, especially when they're phrased differently in the passage than they are in the questions. In this lesson, you'll learn how to tackle those problems:

  • Use key words and phrases as alerts to help you find information, but don't rely only on that.
  • Take bullet-point notes to help you remember everything.
  • Practice rephrasing information so you won't be thrown off by different phrasing.

Use Key Words

If you're listening for specific information or details you can use key words or phrases in the question to help you know what to listen for. Key words are important words relevant to the thing you're listening for. For example, let's say you're listening to a passage about different dog breeds. You're listening for a specific piece of information: what breed of dog won Best in Show at the 2017 Westminster Dog Show? Can you think of some key words that you might listen for in the passage? Maybe you said something, like 'Best in Show' or 'Westminster Dog Show.'

Those are key words that will alert you that you might be coming up on the information you want, but don't rely just on that. For example, you might be listening and hear, 'The first Best in Show award at the Westminster Dog Show wasn't given until 1907. The lucky winner that year was a Smooth Fox Terrier.' This passage has all your key words, but it doesn't have the information you're looking for. This passage tells you the first winner, not the 2017 winner, so it's not the information you want. That's why you can't rely only on key words. Use key words to help you, but remember: they can't think for you. (If you're wondering, the 2017 winner was a German Shepherd.)

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