Listening for specific information, inferring relationships and inferring meaning.

Photo of two people chatting, or speaking over the phone updating each other.

Source: Petar Chernaev, Getty Images

Accents Speed Activity type Time
American Slow note taking 30 minutes


Theme: Catching up on news
Skills: Listening for specific information, inferring relationships, inferring meaning
Level: Intermediate
Grammar focus: Present perfect
Vocabulary: news, argument, competition, driving test, engaged, golf, kids, serious, surprise, upset.
Preparation: Download the worksheet and make one copy for every two students. Cut each copy as shown by the lines.


  1. Tell students they are going to hear a telephone conversation between an American man and woman. Tell them to put their pens down and simply listen. When students are ready, play the recording.
  2. Ask students to call out all the names they can remember. Write them on the board:
    Answers: Kevin, Anne, Dennis, Becky, Kate.
  3. Put students into pairs. Write these questions on the board and tell them to guess the answers:

    a. What’s the relationship between Kevin and Anne?
    b. Who is Dennis?
    c. Who are Becky and Kate?

  4. After a few moments, review the answers with the class.
    Answers: a. They are friends, perhaps brother and sister, b. Anne’s husband, c. Anne and Dennis’ children
  5. Tell students you are going to play the recording again. Explain they should make notes on what news Anne gives about Dennis, Becky and Kate. Tell them also to note Kevin’s news. Give them a few moments to try to remember any information they can, then play the recording.
  6. Tell students to compare their notes, then go through the answers with the class. You may wish to write these down on the board and review the form and use of the Present perfect tense. Answers: Dennis has won a golf competition, Becky has had an argument with her boyfriend, Kate has passed her driving test Kevin: has got (gotten) engaged
  7. Ask students if they can remember when each of these things happened? Tell students you will play the recording once more and they must shout ‘Stop!’ when they hear when each thing happened. Play the recording, stopping whenever students call out ‘Stop!’. Answers: Dennis: last Saturday, Becky: this morning, Kate: on Friday, Kevin: last week
  8. Give each student a question sheet from Worksheet 1 and allow them time to read the statements and check their answers. Then play the recording as they listen and check. Answers: 1. F, 2. DK, 3. F, 4. DK, 5. F, 6. F, 7. DK, 8. T

Post-listening tasks

Put students into pairs and give each pair a copy of the recording script. Tell them to practice the conversation with their partner.

Put students into pairs and tell them to prepare a similar conversation. Explain they should be two friends catching up on news with each other over the phone. Give them time to prepare their ideas, then tell them to role play their conversation to the class.