Friday, December 18, 2009

Six Minute English: Talent Shows

Hello everyone. You have probably seen those TV 'talent shows' in which people who are totally unknown have a chance to become famous singers. Six Minute English explores talent shows, the organisers and the participants.

Read the questions and then listen to the programme:

1. How old was the oldest contestant?
(a) 49 (b) 84 (c) 101

2. What exactly are 'talent shows'?

3. Why do people participate in talent shows?

4. What does Neil think of the music in talent shows?

5. What does Pete Waterman think of the contest organiser, Simon Cowell?

6. What's the difference between a 'single' and an 'album'?

7. What usually happens to singers who appear on a talent show after the show has ended?

Now listen to Six Minute English.

Write your answers on the Tag Board, or in the Comments section below this post.

Honourable mentions to people who have recently participated in this Blog: Kannan from India, Savina, Mario, Anna, Giovanni, Claudia and Marianna. Thank you all very much for your answers to Listening exercises, and your other comments.

Marianna wonders whether listening to Six Minute English is the best way to practise listening. I would say that this is just one way to practise. There are many other methods. Here are some of them:
  • listening to the radio;
  • listening to songs in English;
  • watching films in English: audio combined with video;
  • trying out as many of the links in the 'Listening and Video Sites' section on this Blog. Elementary Video, Randall's Cyber-Listening Lab and English Language Listening Online should be on your priority list.
  • listening to English speaking visitors in some of the bars round Campo dei Fiori. How much can you understand?
These are just a few suggestions. Never forget that developing your listening skills in English needs regular practice by you. In this respect it is no different from any other skill, such as learning to play a musical instrument or becoming an expert footballer.

Marianna is also concerned by the fact that she had to repeat Six Minute English several times before she felt able to answer the questions. This is absolutely normal, and is one of the great advantages of the Internet. Of course in real life you cannot always obtain a repeat. This is all the more reason for regular practice.

Notice that I have rearranged the list of sites on the right-hand column of this blog. And I have added a special section dedicated to the BBC's Learning English site. This is an enormously important resource for you. I urge you to visit it as often as you can.

So if you can visit this Blog two or three times a week, trying out a different listening site each time, you should begin to notice an improvement in your listening abilities after two or three weeks. You will find that you will understand more words and especially more phrases. You should find that the questions in Six Minute English become easier.

And if you can manage a few visits during the Christmas and New Year break, you'll find it much easier to return to classes after the holiday is over.

Which brings me to conclude: Season's Greetings, a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Next post: in January 2010.
 - Mike

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