03Taking Notes...on TV?

by Danny K. Howard, EAP Associate Director

For hundreds of students each year, note taking offers a new and challenging experience. This very important skill for college and university schoolwork is difficult because you must do two things at the same time:

  1. Understand the main ideas and details of the listening
  2. Neatly write down the main ideas and details you hear into organized notes

While watching TV we naturally do the first point above, but the other one has to be acquired through the practice of note taking. At NIC, teachers advise students on how to write effective notes just like they do in colleges & universities. In a year at NIC, students will listen to over 30 lectures on various topics such as biology, sociology, business, psychology, computers and many others. Imagine how much your note taking will improve in your year at NIC!!

Until then, here’s a great idea to practice note taking for new students.

TV/Radio Note taking

This is really fun to do. Most teachers suggest that students get used to taking notes by using TV and radio broadcasts.

When you take notes, there are 5 main things that you should remember:

  1. Try to write what you hear into short phrases (avoid writing words like a, an, the, and prepositions like in, at, of etc. and avoid writing complete sentences)
  2. Try to get the main idea and some details if you can
  3. Try to organize information as you write
  4. Try to write neatly because you will have read them later
  5. Try to use symbols and abbreviations when you write
    use & instead of and
    use ppl instead of people

Materials needed

One B5 notebook and one pair of ears & eyes (smile)

Step One

Find an English broadcast and listen to it. It can be a documentary on TV, a radio interview, a TV or radio news program, or even a television comedy or movie!

Step Two

Listen/watch and take notes. Remember the 5 points above when you do this.
Try to take notes on what you see and/or hear. For movies and TV programs, watch a scene. After it finishes, quickly write down what happened in your own brief words. Remember, no complete sentences! This is note taking! Of course, the hard part is you will have to keep watching it as you do this! That’s just like real note taking because teachers never stop talking to give you time to write your notes.

Step Three

After you finish, rewrite & reorganize what you have watched or heard. At NIC, students have to rewrite their notes after they take them. When you rewrite them, try to improve the organization.

Try to do this at least two times a week. Of course, when you come to NIC you will get more practice doing this. However, until then, the TV/Radio Note taking idea is great for students to improve both their listening & note taking skills.

So...get ready to record what you see and hear!