Real Life Listening Lesson 1

Level: Intermediate
Time Commitment: 30-45 minutes

This 3 minute story from National Public Radio (NPR) discusses why the trend of eating alone (versus eating with others) is increasing.

The presenter interviews a market research firm and people she finds eating at Washington DC's Union Station. The title of this story is Party Of 1: We Are Eating A Lot Of Meals Alone.

Here are instructions about how to complete the Real Life Listening Lessons.
View this guide in pdf format.


Step 1: Before Listening Questions

What meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) do you eat alone?

What meals do you eat with others?

Do you snack (eat small things like fruit or energy bars) during the day?

Do you like eating alone? What things do you like doing alone (by yourself)?

Step 2: Review the Vocabulary

Here are some vocabulary words from this story. Review them before listening.

Step 3: Read the After Listening Questions (Step 6)

Step 4: Listen

While listening to this segment, write the new words that you hear.
Follow this link to listen to the story on the NPR website. Click the play button.

Step 5: Review the Transcript

Follow this link to read the text of this story.
If you would like to, you can listen to the story again and read the transcript at the same time.
Try to find the new words that you wrote down in Step 4 in the transcript.

Step 6: After Listening Questions

1.) What's one possibility mentioned about why people may eat alone?

a) people are unfriendly b) food is expensive c) more people live alone

2.) What reason does the mother and daughter interviewed in Union Station give for having a quick meal?

a) They are hungry. b) They missed lunch. c) They overslept.

3.) What were the group of twenty something business consultants eating?

a) sushi b) burgers and hot dogs c) shrimp

4.) In the phrase “twenty somethings” does twenty refer to their age or the number of people?

5.) What are the different meanings of the words party?
The title of this segment is Party Of 1: We Are Eating A Lot Of Meals Alone.
Does party mean a celebration or the number of people dining together (as a group) at a restaurant?

Check your answers by looking at the comments or by looking at the bottom of page 2 on the pdf

What do you think about the information presented in this story?
What new words did you learn?

Share your ideas, words and questions in the comment section. I look forward to hearing your ideas!

Photo taken by me at Wildflour Bakery and Cafe in Agoura Hills, CA

Real Life Listening Lessons: 6 Steps

Here is an overview about how to use and complete about each Listening Lesson.
(Learn why you should use the Real Life Listening Lessons to practice English.)

1.) Read and think about the Before Listening Questions

This first step is important because it gets you thinking about the topic, which will help you recall the information and vocabulary that you already know about the topic.

If you are completing this listening exercise by yourself, write down your answers to the questions (it's not important to write perfectly...don't worry about grammar or spelling).  If you are listening with others, you can discuss these questions.


2.) Review the Vocabulary

If you don't understand or know the words, you should look them up.

3.) Read the After Listening Questions

This step helps you prepare because you'll know the information and words that you should listen for.

4.) Listen

If you hear new words while you're listening, try to write them down (don't worry about spelling).

5.) Review the transcript

Every listening program also includes a link to a transcript (when the transcript is available).
Read the transcript after you listen. You can also listen to the story again while reading the transcript.  Try to find the new words your heard in the transcript.

6.) Answer the After Listening Questions

Check your answers.

That's it...
Happy listening!

Photo taken by my husband in Hangzhou, China.

Real Life Listening Overview

Why listening to podcasts, radio programs and lectures is a great way to practice your English listening skills...

I'm continually creating Listening Lessons based on a variety of real-life podcasts, videos and radio programs.

Each Listening Lesson is based on programs that native English speakers, myself included, listen to on a regular basis.

In my opinion, listening to real life programs is important for students learning English because the listening exercises for English students can sometimes be unrealistic and cheesy with unnatural language.

But, of course, it's important to listen to different kinds of programs, both real life programs and listening exercises for English language students.

In addition to watching movies and TV shows, it's important to listen to podcasts, radio programs and lectures because you'll have to focus on the words to understand the meaning, instead of catching clues by watching the body language.

Start here: 6 Steps of the Real Life Listening Lessons.

Then move onto the regularly updated series, Real Life Listening Lessons.

What type of programs do you like listening to in English?
Do you have a recommendation for a Real Life Listening Guide?  Share it in the comments below.

Happy listening!

Image found here.