Listening to the radio gives good practice in interpreting "real" American speech.
We all adjust our speech to our listeners. We don't speak to a child as we would an adult. When
we speak to English language learners, we unconsciously slow down a little, articulate more carefully, and avoid slang.
This is fine, and useful and necessary, but it's a little like training wheels on your first bicycle. You don't learn
to lean until they are removed.
Once a week, I download a podcast of NPR's 7 a.m. news. This podcast is only six minutes
long. I play the news through once, and we talk about each item a bit. Sometimes, most of the students get most
of an item, and I skip lightly over that one. If many of the students don't have a clue, I'll explain it and answer
questions and put unfamiliar words on the board, then play it again. I may play an item two or three
times before everyone is satisfied. At first, I didn't think that most were enjoying this exercise, but when I do end-of-semester
satisfaction surveys, a clear majority of students want the same or more time spent on this exercise.
Click here to go to the NPR home page. Enter your zip code to find the NPR station nearest you.