One of the biggest problems that overseas students face at university is in lectures. Why do the lecturers speak so quickly?! Why do they jump about all over the place, why don’t they carefully follow the points on the slide? Well, lecturers are humans (I think!) and they get distracted, they suddenly think about things to say, and most of their students are native speakers! It’s fair to say that most lecturers aren’t thinking about the overseas students in their lecture room when they are talking – that means they are thinking just about the content of their lectures and not about their language, or how they are talking.
What can you do to make things easier? You can give yourself more listening practice. You need to practise listening to real university lecturers giving real lectures. Today I am going to show you a site at Newcastle University where you can do that. This site has lots of videos of lecturers talking on a range of different topics. When you follow the link you can see the topic and the lecturer and the course that the lecture comes from. Click on the catalogue number on the left to get to the topic and the video clips. The only thing we can’t do is access the classroom materials. However, we can access the tapescript for the lectures and that means we can listen, and when we can’t understand, we can read and listen to what the lecturer says. The Newcastle Academic Listening Exercises are here.