American English listening practice: How to interpret news stories about science

For those of you who would like to improve your ability to understand spoken American English, here is a story from National Public Radio with a recording and transcript: “How to be a savvy consumer of science news.” 

Listening to spoken language while following a written transcript (is that a pleonasm?) is an excellent way to improve your oral comprehension skills.  For those of you who would like to improve your ability to understand spoken American English, here is a story from National Public Radio, with a recording and transcript: How to be a savvy consumer of science news.  To get you off to a good start with the material, here are some of the vocabulary items that you will come across:

savvy: an adjective meaning something like “understanding practical things.”  How it appears in the recording: Our friend from the world of astrophysics, Adam Frank, has offered to provide some tools to help make us all savvier consumers of science news.

to feel like: this expression can have at least a couple of different meanings.  In this case, it means something like to think that.  Here is how it appears in the recording: Adam, why did you feel like this guidance was especially important right now?

Another possible use shows up as to feel like + noun.  For example, to feel like shit means either to feel sick or to feel sorry or sad/upset about something:

  • I drank a LOT of beer last night–I feel like shit this morning.  (the feel-sick meaning)
  • I must’ve eaten something rotten–I feel like death warmed over.  (the feel-sick meaning)
  • I was a real asshole yesterday, and I feel like shit about it now.  (the feel-sorry)
  • I feel like shit about what happened to you in the meeting–it was COMPLETELY wrong.

Another possible use is to feel like + present participle, meaning to have a desire to do something.  For example:

  • I feel like having cereal for dinner–whaddya you think?
  • I really don’t feel like seeing anyone this evening–I’m just gonna stay home.
  • Do you feel like going to the party?

such a: an intensifier.  How it appears in the recording:  Science is such a part of our lives.   That means something like “science is very much a part of our lives.”  Some examples:

  • Trump is such an asshole.
  • I’m gonna give you such a smack.  


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