Writing for the ear quiz
1. Read the passages below and select which one is best written for the ear.
a. Farmers attended the meeting to learn about the participatory action research project that was being proposed by the University.
b. Farmers attended the meeting to learn about a project proposed by the University.
b. Yes. In passage (a), listeners might not understand the term “participatory action research” and tune out. Also, “that was being” are extra words that aren’t necessary.
2. Read the passages below and select which one is best written for the ear.
a. Alioune was devastated to learn that his corn field, which was almost ready to harvest, was destroyed by locusts.
b. Alioune was devastated when his corn field was destroyed by locusts. The corn was almost ready to harvest.
b. Yes. In passage (a), “which” creates a subordinate clause. It is better to separate the information into two sentences so listeners can more easily absorb the information. Also, the sentence is simplified by replacing “to learn that” with “when.”
3. Read the passages below and select which one is best written for the ear.
a. More than one million people heard the story on the radio.
b. 1,243,000 people heard the story on the radio.
a. Yes. Listeners would have trouble following the story if they heard someone say “one million two hundred and forty three thousand people.” It is better to simplify it to “more than one million.”
4. Read the passages below and select which one is best written for the ear.
a. The last time Mr. Garba spoke with us was in June 2004.
b. Mr. Garba last spoke with us 5 years ago.
b. Yes. If listeners hear passage (a) they will try to work out in their heads how many years back June 2004 was. By that time they will likely have missed the next few words of the broadcast and might stop listening as a result. Also, the second sentence has a simpler structure, mostly because the subject or the “doer” of the action – Mr. Garba - is mentioned immediately
5. Read the radio program introductions below and select which one is best written for the ear and why.
a. It’s the beginning of the dry season in Makombe village. The sun is scorching down on the small fields below. A farmer stands proudly next to her plot. As other farmers gather, she points to a new crop growing. The object of their attention is not the maize growing tall in the field. It’s the grass growing alongside. The farmer has planted Vetiver grass – a deep rooting grass that helps to prevent soil erosion.
b. A farmer from Makombe village in Malawi proudly shows off her maize crop. It has grown tall because she planted Vetiver grass, which helps to prevent soil erosion.
Introduction (a). Yes! This introduction creates a vivid mental picture of the scene. It also creates suspense because you wonder what the farmers are looking at. Introduction (b) does not paint a mental picture as well as introduction (a). It also includes a subordinate clause.
6. Read the passages below and select which one is best written for the ear.
a. It is the beginning of the rainy season, and the deep soil of the river delta is being tilled by numerous farmers.
b. The rainy season is beginning. Many farmers are tilling the deep soil of the river delta.
b. Yes. The passage is broken up into two simple sentences. Also, in (b), the subject is introduced immediately at the beginning of the sentence. The second half of passage (a) is in passive rather than active voice, “the deep soil … is being tilled.” In passage (b), the second sentence is in active voice: “Many farmers are tilling…” On the radio, active voice is easier to understand and follow than passive voice. Finally, the word “numerous” is replaced with an easier word – “many.”
7. Read the passages from the mini-drama below and select which one is best written for the ear.
a. Ismaila: Don’t you dare walk out that door! Will you abandon your wife and children?
b. Ismaila: Do not exit our family home, my husband, because we will have no appropriate means for surviving our difficulties.
a. Yes. Beyond the fact that (a) is more dramatic, it also breaks up the passage into two simple sentences and uses simpler words. Also, (a) uses a contraction (can’t), which is reflects common rather than written language.