Based on D. Crystal and D. Davy Advanced Conversational English (Longman, 1975). Used with the permission of Pearson Education, publishers.
This material is designed to give advanced learners practice in listening to authentic, unscripted conversation between English people in an informal setting. As many teachers are now aware, there are great differences between this type of conversation and the dialogues found in most language courses. It is only by studying samples of authentic material that students can become familiar with the way in which English people use the language to converse, and can develop the skills needed to interpret it.
The recordings on which these Units are based were gathered by D. Crystal and D. Davy for their book Advanced Conversational English (Longman, 1975), which isolates and analyses from a linguistic point of view certain features of conversational English. Starting from the same taped conversations, the aim of this book is rather different; it sets out to teach not about these features, but rather how a foreign learner should recognise and interpret them. To this end, a number of the more interesting Units from Crystal and Davy's tape have been selected and exercises have been developed around them.
The emphasis throughout is on recognition and interpretation i.e. it is the receptive element of communication which is stressed. In many cases the language presented does not represent the type of model which a foreign learner should imitate. However, it is precisely because this language is non-idealised, and thus non-ideal as a model, that it presents difficulties for the learner confronted with it.
There are five parts to this Unit:
A short introduction setting the scene of the conversation and giving any relevant information about the participants. Read this first to establish who the characters are and their relationship to each other. In some cases your attention will be drawn to features ofthe language which are characteristic of the age, sex or class of the speaker or else the type of setting in which these conversations take place.
Question 1 is a set of comprehension questions based on the text to which you must answer YES, NO or DON'T KNOW (the last if the information needed to answer the question is not given in the text). These questions can be used in either oftwo ways. Firstly they may be used as conventional general comprehension questions, to check how well you have understood the main points of the conversation. To use them like this, play the tape right through once or twice and then try to answer the questions. Alternatively, they may be used as a guide to the content ofthe passage, to give you some help before you come into contactwith the recording. To use themlike this, first study the questions and then listen to the tape, stopping as and when you want to, in order to listen again. The answers to the questions are given in the answer key at the back of the book, but don't look at them until you have completed all four questions.
Question 2 takes the form of a cloze test. An extract from the conversation is printed in your book with blanks instead of certain words. Each blank represents one missing word. This exercise has two aims. First it is designed to improve your general language competence by making you think about the words which might be used to complete the blanks. Try to do this without listening to the tape. When you have done this, or if there are any that you cannot work out, play the tape through and check the words used by the speaker. This has the function ofpractising your intensive listening skills.
The next part (Question 3) is a word test. The definitions of a number of words from the passage studied in the previous Questions are presented and you have to listen to the tape to find the word which is defined. Again this has two aims. It both explains certain words from the doze test which may be unfamiliar to you, and gives practice in another listening skill-that of listening to a passage for confirmation of information when you know the type of information required, but not the precise words by which it will be expressed.
The main part of the Unit is the programmed exploitation (Question 4). This may seem rather complicated at first, but it will not take you long to get used to it. It is intended to provide practice in intensive listening and to provide explanation and clarification of some features ofthe tape.
Look at the first box and note the words at the top of the box which are written in red. Play the recording until you hear these words and then stop it.
Then look at the words in the box. Normally you are asked a question to which you have to write down the answer. Sometimes you have to choose one of the possible answers given in the box.
In the bottom right hand corner you will find a number. This tells you the number of the box you should look at next. Click on the link. When you turn to this box you will find the answer to the question asked in box 1 and further questions or explanations about the passage. In every case, play the recording when you have located the words at the top of the next box (in red)you are to study, and stop it when you hear them.
When you have completed the programme, check your answers to Questions 1, 2 and 3 in the tapescript at the end. Then listen to the recording once more all the way through noting the features you have studied in the earlier parts. This is important, otherwise you will be left with an impression of the conversation as a series of isolated phrases and will have no practice in relating them to each other. As a final step, you might find it useful to listen to the tape while reading the transcription.
Go to the exercise.