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TEFL Program - Teaching your students to understand spoken English

Page history last edited by Martin Warters 13 years, 3 months ago






Before we start this module, take a minute or two to reflect on these following questions:


1.       Reflection on current practice/key questions


Think of all the different types of listening you do everyday... 

What are some of the problems that you can encounter...


Think of all the different types of listening that your students will do in English...

What are some of the problems they will encounter...


How similar are your lists... 

What problems can a teacher have in teaching listening?

What is your definition of a capable listener?

How do you help your students achieve this in class?

What is your current technique for teaching listening? 


Full feedback on these questions can be found in Listening Extra


2.       General approach from TWB 


A huge amount of anxiety can be caused by listening lessons. This can be made worse when listening lessons reflect a testing session rather than a way of obtaining this vital skill. Your students will need strategies that will help them become better listeners. Both inside and outside of your classroom. This lesson plan is an example of how you can help your students develop this ability.  You may have mentioned in the introductory task that some students can answer basic questions about a listening extract but not actually understand the text! While others, perhaps only get a few questions correct, but understand a lot.  This lesson is to help your students develop strategies that will boost their listening comprehension, and also to piece together any missing information and formulate likely conclusions from the listening extract. It will also provide you with information about where your students may have problems so you can devise follow up remedial activities accordingly. It also shows individual students the specific problems that they have. 


One problem that you may have is a lack of Audio equipment. This is not a problem! You are a vital resource in the classroom, and you reading the tapescripts of the listening exercises can be just as useful as the actual recording. Likewise, more capable and confident students can read the tapescript to the rest of the class. Should you have a listening exercise that has two people, you can use the following activity to let your students see the different speakers. On the board write the names of the speakers from the extract. To show that different people are speaking, simply move below the name of the person, as shown below. 













The following plan can be used with virtually any listening materials that you have (it even works very well with songs, or even a dictation). This plan can  then you can move on to focus on further comprehension questions, vocabulary related to a topic, a grammar point, or a discussion.




           Listening Lesson Plan 


1. Aim To improve your students listening skills and to infer meaning. 

2. Warmer: as required from list 

3. Lead-In (i) Raise interest, awareness of topic 

(ii) Pre-teach key vocab if required.(not needed for this lesson)


Your students will probably need help to tune into the recording after the lead-in. To help them do this start by putting up 2 or three very simple and basic questions on the board for the students to focus on. E.g. How many speakers are there? Where are they? Who speaks the most? Are they male or female? 

You can then play a short extract from the full listening text to get feedback on these questions. This will allow your students to become familiar with the accents, rhythm and intonation of the speakers, without having to do any difficult comprehension questions. 


For songs or monologues, similar questions you can use are: what kind of music is it? How does it make you feel? Is the singer a man or a woman? 


Now that the students are familiar with the speakers you can start the listening skills development work. On the board, put the headings Certain & uncertain. Get your students to copy this into their notebooks. Alternatively you could do this as a percentage, with 0% 25% 50% 75% 100% This would provide the potential for greater comprehension analysis and this might be something that you do once your students are comfortable with this procedure. 


Explain that you will play the full recording now, and that the students should take notes of any words or phrases that they hear, and that they should writer them in their notebooks under the heading that correspondences to how certain they are about what they actually heard and any other information they can get from the extract . E.g., if your students were using the %scale their notebook would be something like this 


I am

0% certain that 

25% certain that I heard the man say £230 

50% certain that they are in a bank 

75% certain that 

100% certain that there are three people 




Give your students time to compare what they have written in small groups or pairs. After this, you can start recording their ideas on the board. Do not correct anything at this stage. Let the students know that you are just going to be recording everything that comes up. If your students disagree with each other about a response, make sure that you record both possibilities, but again, do not say if this is correct or incorrect information! This feedback will be left on the board for the remainder of the lesson. Based on what you have written on the board, you can then facilitate an open feedback session on the listening. E.g. Why do you think they are at the bank? How do you know this? 


Now tell the students that that they are going to complete an exercise based on this listening extract. You can use the original coursebook exercise or something that you have prepared yourself. Hand out the exercises and ask students to answer any of the questions that they can remember from the first time of listening. 


Play the recording again, and ask students to compare their answers in pairs or small groups. Then go through the answers as a class putting up the answers on the board. 

In small groups students can now analyse their performance in this activity, using all the information from the board. What didn't they hear, and why not? Was it vocabulary; was it pronunciation; was it a problem with the content/context? This activity can be reinforced with an additional listen with the tapescript.  



follow up 


This lesson can be concluded at this point. If you wish to extend it, you can now go on to focus on some of the problematic language areas that came up in the previous discussion. You could also use this for teaching pronunciation. 



General tips 


Some guidelines specific to listening exercises:


- keep the text relatively short (can be very short - just a few words)

- read transcript (play tape) sufficient no. of times (once or twice is often not enough - students are not used to listening and can find exercises very difficult)

- let students discuss answers (pairs/small groups)

- throw answers back to students ('What do you think of X's answer?")

- don't be led by one strong students - have they all got it?

- play/read little bits of tape/transcript until it's clear to all

- give help if students completely stuck, but use questions/clues - don't just tell them



On listening tasks:


- grade the task rather than the text (a difficult text, may be possible for low level students if the task is easy enough - eg. identify topic, how many people are mentioned, where are they, etc.)

- can ask for gist or for specific points or for specific language (skim & scan)

- can start simple and become more difficult

- can use listening task as springboard for other language work



Some different types of listening text:


- conversations/dialogues

- teacher-talk, teacher reading tape transcript

- teacher-led dictation

- students reading - transcript, own texts

- authentic - radio, TV

- sounds

- words

- sentences

- music (eg songs)



Types of listening task:


- identify speakers, place, topic

- match pics & words

- follow instructions from tape, inc dictation

- complete sentences/phrases/lyrics

- rearrange dialogue sentences having listened to text

- correct info on worksheet having listened to text

- complete info chart/grid from text (eg. opening & closing times, costs, etc.)
















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