Do’s and don’ts

1. Listen to this lecturer give some advice to her students on taking notes in class. Make a note of the advice she gives in the chart below.



decide what is important 

note everything


Do: decide what is important; use abbreviations/symbols/numbers; organize your notes effectively; try and predict what you will hear; listen for the main ideas; rewrite your notes asap

Don’t: note everything; write everything in full; panic if you miss something

2. Look at the questions below. Answer as many as you can from memory, then listen again and check.

a   What does she say a lecture is not?


b   What should you do to be an active listener …?

      before the lecture


     during the lecture


c   In what two ways do lecturers often repeat themselves?


d   What four things should you do when you review you notes?


e   What two advantages does she mention of reviewing notes?


Answer & Transcript

a   She says a lecture is not a dictation.

b   Before the lecture you should ask yourself what you already know about the topic. During the lecture you need to think about where the talk might be heading.

 By paraphrasing and summarizing.

 To review notes effectively you need to rewrite them, reorganize them, highlight the main points and add you own thoughts/comments.

e   The two advantages she mentions are that this will help everything sink in and also provide a useful study aid.


Now, I’d like to begin by giving you a few pointers on taking notes in lectures. This is a vital skill, so listen up! Most important of all is that you shouldn’t try to make a note of everything you hear. A lecture is not a dictation. You have to listen and decide what is important and what isn’t.

Second, when you make notes, don’t write everything in full. Use abbreviations, symbols, numbers … anything to help keep pace. Also, try to organize your notes effectively. Furthermore, you should try to be an active listener. By that, I mean you need to try and predict what the speaker is going to say … so before the lecture ask yourself what you already know about the topic, and during the lecture think about where the talk might be heading.

Another useful tip is if you miss something then don’t panic. Lecturers usually repeat themselves … certainly, the important information … for example by paraphrasing or in summary. Something else you should be sure to do is listen for the main ideas, as well as the details, otherwise you won’t be able to see the wood for the trees.

And finally, after the lecture, you should review your notes as soon as possible. That means basically writing them out again, but this time reorganize them, highlight the main points, and even add your own thoughts and comments in the margin. Reviewing your notes in this way will help everything sink in, and make a useful study aid. So, now I’ve covered that I’ll start with the register.

Note taking

1. Listen to an extract from a lecture on the Chinese economy. After each section, pause the recording and choose the most suitable heading.

1 a   China 40 years ago

   b   Background to economic success

2 a   Influence of the US

   b   Growth statistics

3 a   A growing population

   b   A population on the move

4 a   Economic deficiencies

   b   Labour costs

5 a   More growth ahead

   b   Future challenges


1 b   2 b   3 b   4 b   5 b

2. Write each heading in place in the notepad. Then listen again and make notes under each heading. Be concise, numbering points, and using arrows, symbols or abbreviations where you can.

China’s economy










Answer & Transcript

Your own answers. Possible answers:

Background to economic success

Mass. econ growth / last 40 yrs / most sign if geopol event 21stC. late 70s (econ rfms)

Growth statistics

Grown av. 10% pa / Exports

Ind prod 17% pa.

>2001, 2x glob. Man. output.

No. 2, but will overtake US nt 10yrs.

A population on the move

Pop. 1.3bn.

200m people rural -> urban areas

middle class

Economic deficiencies

many manufac. comps


wages poss.

Future challenges

must investment in skills + training

must produce own experts + entrepreneurs


Now, most people would agree that the massive economic growth China has enjoyed in the last forty years represents perhaps the most significant geopolitical event of the 21st century. It started with the economic reforms back in the late 1970s, before which time China’s economy was largely rural.

Since the 1970s China’s economy has grown on average 10% a year. Exports have soared and industrial production is growing at 17% per annum. Since 2001, China has doubled its share of global manufacturing output. In fact, China is second only to the US, and most forecasts suggest it will overtake the American economy within the next ten years.

China’s population of 1.3 billion makes it a staggering one fifth of the world’s population. This huge population resource means not only is China the world’s largest market, but it also underpins the main reason for its economic rise – a large workforce. This incredible economic growth in China has meant huge changes for the workforce. For example, it is estimated that about 200 million people have moved from rural areas to urban areas to find work, resulting in the biggest mass migration in history. Employment in agriculture has been replaced for millions by jobs in manufacturing and industry, which, for many people, has meant having to retrain, acquire new skills, and adapt to a new way of life. Many would argue that the growing middle class is the backbone of China’s success.

However, some economists see weaknesses in China’s economy. They point, for example, to the fact that many of the manufacturing companies that produce goods in China are in fact foreign. These foreign companies, they argue, will continue to invest in China while labour costs are low, but if wages start to rise too much, they may move their production to other parts of the world where rates of pay have remained lower.

China has come a long way since the 1970s, but it would seem that, for China to continue its economic success story, the country must not rely on outside investment and expertise, but must invest more in skills and training in order to produce its own experts and entrepreneurs of the future.


1. Listen to two summaries of the talk you heard. Which one (a or b) do you think is better? …………….


Summary a is better.

2. Listen again and make a note of the strengths and weaknesses of each summary.

Summary a




Summary b




Answer & Transcript

Your own answers. Possible answers:

Summary a

Strengths: This covers all the main points. It is well-organized and accurate, and uses a variety of appropriate signposts (words like: Then …, Finally etc.), including some useful detail.

Weaknesses: There are no specific statistics, and the speaker does not explain why dependence on foreign companies may be a problem in the future.

Summary b

Strengths: Some useful information covered, together with the main points. Signposts are OK.

Weaknesses: It misses a lot of information, e.g. background and fails to mention relevant details, e.g. says China’s economy is still not the biggest, rather than is second behind the US, which is more informative. It is vague, e.g. millions rather than 200 million. There is nothing on the challenges for the future.



The talk was about China’s economy. The speaker began by talking about the emergence of China as a major economic power, which started with economic reforms in the late 1970s. Then she gave some statistics about China’s economy today. It’s the second largest in the world, and should overtake the US in a few years. She went on to talk about China’s huge population, and how large numbers of people have moved from rural to urban areas to find work. Then she mentioned some potential weaknesses in the Chinese economy, such as a dependence on foreign companies. Finally, she talked about the challenges for the future, especially the need for China to invest more in skills and training.


The talk was about the growth of China’s economy. The speaker began by saying it was the most significant event of the 21st Century, growing 10% a year although it’s still not the biggest economy. After that she said that millions of people in rural areas had moved from the countryside to the city, and this was the biggest mass migration in history, which I thought was amazing. I think she said something about wages going up there, but basically her idea is that the Chinese economy will continue to grow.

Time for questions

1. Listen to four people each ask a question at then end of a lecture. Note the key point that each person (a-d) is asking about.

a   ……………………


c   ……………………


Answer & Transcript

a   mass migration

b   cost of labour

c   middle class = ‘backbone of China’s success’

d   impact of China’s economic growth


a   Could you explain what you mean by the biggest mass migration in history?

b   Can you go into a bit more detail on the cost of labour in China?

 What exactly are you getting at when you refer to the middle class as the ‘backbone of China’s success’?

d   Would you expand a little on the impact of China’s economic growth?

2. Now listen to the replies (1-4). Match each reply (1-4) with a question (a-d).

1 ……      2 ……      3 ……      4 ……


1 c   2 a   3 b   4 d

3. Listen again to the replies and complete the expressions that the lecturer uses to clarify what she means.

a   Basically, what I want ……………….. is …

b   I suppose what I’m ……………….. is …

c   The point I’m ……………….. is …

d   In other words, what I’m ……………….. is …

Answer & Transcript

a   to say

 driving at

c   trying to make



1   Basically, what I want to say is that the purchasing power of this new class is helping to support the domestic economy.

2   I suppose what I’m driving at is that never before has such a huge movement of people from rural to urban areas taken place over such a short period of time.

3   Yes, an average factory worker in a coastal city in China earns up to $350 a month these days, while in some other countries it can be as low as $100. The point I’m trying to make is that rising wage costs could make China less attractive for foreign companies.

4   Well, I think it’s a necessary factor for global economic development. In other words, what I’m saying is that without China as the economic powerhouse in the world, all our economies would be worse off.

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