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Module Five: How to Teach Listening Aims  To ensure we expose students to as many listening situations as possible.  To actually teach listening skills and help students to develop these.  To make listening in the classroom as naturalistic as possible without making it too challenging.  To be conscious as teachers of accent and pronunciation.  To make listening and related activities a regular and enjoyable part of the class.

The Importance of Listening For a long time, possibly half a century, many language learners followed a system called audiolingualism. The teaching equivalent of a phrase book, learners would sit with a headset learning “essential expressions” and repeating them back into the microphone where a teacher would listen in and correct pronunciation. These language learners would venture out into the world armed with such useful tidbits as “Je voudrais un tarte de pommes s'il vous plait” (I would like an apple pie please). They would go into a cafe in Normandy full of confidence, ask for their pie with a hearty smile and a self satisfaction at their language skills to be greeted by “je suis desole, nous n'avez tarte de pommes monsieur” at which point the foreigner's smile would freeze and he would repeat himself several times. The French waiter would realise quickly that the stupid man did not understand and would resort to demonstrations, the foreigner becomes flustered and sits quietly fuming with a small mineral water and a pastry before making a speedy exit. The lesson here is that learning only expressions does not arm students with the necessary skills to survive in an English only environment. They need to be exposed to language that will be helpful in multiple situations and learn to anticipate what they will hear and what will be expected of them. The SLE books introduce many different types of listening situation to go along with the topic of the class and shouldn't be skipped over, if you don't like the activity supplement it with another. Many of your students may have no real exposure to listening in English in any constructive fashion outside of the class so it's vital that we give them as many opportunities IN the class.

Listening is a very difficult skill to develop outside of a country that speaks that language, as soon as they leave the class students often revert naturally to their own language. This means they may only spend a very limited number of hours a week listening in English. ESL students living in countries such as the U.S. Or the U.K. develop much faster due to the immersion environment and survival need for English. Here in Korea it must be taught and nurtured.


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening EXAMPLES

Read through the following four examples of teachers presenting a listening activity in their SLE classes Number One: SLE 1C Teacher: Now my young Paduins, I want you to listen and tell me what they are talking about. AUDIO: blah, blah blah, blah deathstar, blah blah blah blah gold bikini, blah blah blah blah jarjar binks blah blah blah blah force Teacher:So can anyone tell me what they were talking about? Students: (silence) erm...... Teacher: Use the force, what were they talking about? Student 1: Deathstar, JarJar Binks, gold bikini? Teacher: Good, good....as for the rest of you (lightening and screams) Number Two: SLE 2B Teacher: You are going to hear people in a restaurant ordering food, what do they not decide to have? AUDIO: Good evening Sir/Madam, what would you like, well what are your specials? We have many on offer including spaghetti, tagliatelle, a light tarentella, ooh that sounds nice, yes it does, would you like a side dish with that, what do you have, chips, dips, chains or whips, oh the second one please, very good and to drink, no alcohol dear, you're driving. Ok dear, just a bucket of gin for me please, very well, thank you, thank you Teacher: So what did they not have? Student: Spaghetti? Number Three: SLE 3C Teacher: Ok class, you are going to hear American Environmentalist Iaema Banger, talking about the best ways to save energy in a modern house filled with technology. She will mention 5 products and how to efficiently use them. So write down 1 – 5 on your sheets and note down which product and her top tip. AUDIO: Well Hi yall, I'm here to talk to you about my top 5 ways to help save mother earth while enjoying state of the art gadgets and technology. We all have homes filled with wonderful little devices such as laptops, but how many of you just close the lid at night and don't turn it off? Well, let me tell you about a little feature called sleep mode.....


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening

In Practice: critique of the above methods Activity Number One: The teacher in no way sets up the activity. He merely tells the students that they are going to listen to something and that they should tell him what it is about, how many speakers there will be or what they are listening for. Consequently during the activity the students only manage to pull out a few random words or phrases that they cannot connect together or explain in any way. The teacher assumes one student has understood because he wrote down these unconnected phrases. Much better to have structured the activity, given a definite task and anticipated the vocabulary the students should have been listening for. Activity Number Two: Here, while good that the teacher introduces what the listening is about, which will certainly help the students, he needs to give more information. How many people are speaking will certainly help reduce any confusion about two male voices and also some clues about the type of language they should expect to hear (polite vs impolite). The teacher does set them a particular task but it is quite a vague question to answer on the first listening as the students haven't heard the dialogue yet, there could also be new vocabulary that students at 2B may not know such as the names of dishes in a western style restaurant. Activity Number Three: The teacher here has a higher level of class who will be able to understand much more, however he still begins with an introduction to the text to enure the students have as much information as possible beforehand so that they can concentrate on the task that they are given. The task itself is very clear and well-instructed, possibly the teacher could have given them an example of what they are going to gear but again at this level the teacher would be more confident that the students should be able to follow this. Conclusion: Listening Activities need to be organized, not simply pressing the play button.  What is the listening about?  What are the students listening for?  Will it help improve their listening skill?  Is there preliminary teaching required?

 How will I ensure comprehension?


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening

Listening Situations Listening is a huge part of communication and one that students find difficult, especially when dealing with native speakers who don't always choose their words carefully. Many people find dealing with second language speakers much easier. In the classroom we have to take this into consideration and also how can we make sure that our students will cope in many different types of situation. Not all situations are the same in many cases the listener will have the opportunity to interact with the speaker and clarify or repeat information (L.R), in other cases they can only listen and act upon what they have heard without the opportunity to clarify. (L.O.) Talking on the phone – always difficult as you lose any visual cues and must rely on language alone.

L.R

Watching TV, listening to the radio, L.O. seeing a movie – until technology catches up, normally a one sided activity.

Transport Announcements – Bus, train, subway, planes. Important to listen for numbers, platforms, changes etc

L.O

Job Interview – requiring understanding of often very formal language and knowing how to respond.

Going into a shop / RestaurantWhile a certain amount of gesture and pointing might get you something it might not be what you want.

L.R

Giving / receiving directions – L.R works both ways you or someone else needs quite specific help. If you don't understand the first person you need to ask someone else.

Conversation / gossip – may feel one sided sometimes but you will have to contribute at some point

L.R

Lecture / Seminar – A lot of information to digest and most lecturers don't appreciate being interrupted.

L.R

L.O

You should aim to introduce the students to as many different situations where comprehension of the speaker is crucial and if you think it useful for your students introduce a few different accents to give them practice they might not always get. Remember any pedantic snobs out there; correct pronunciation is that which can be understood by any native speaker whether he is from the frozen wastes of Sasquatchvilleburg or the elegant tea rooms of Galway


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening

The Structure of a Listening activity

Pre-Listening Before starting it's important that the students are given as much information as possible to remove the most difficult challenges of the listening. Usually this would include:  The type of listening; dialogue, lecture, announcement etc  Where does it take place; public place, on the phone, train station, the radio etc  How many people are speaking; monologue, dialogue, multiple voices  Is there any key vocabulary they need to know in order to understand what is happening.  Get them interested in what they about to hear, rather than frustrated over something that appears to be difficult or confusing. Listening What you want the students to focus on during the activity, there needs to be a definite task for them to complete otherwise it becomes too difficult. These could include;  Summarizing the main idea of the piece, topic, overall message etc  Listening out for specific details, names, numbers etc  Answering questions using information in the listening (these should be given beforehand)  From an opinion piece do they agree with the speaker's opinion. (for further discussion) Post-Listening First and foremost to check comprehension of the piece, check for any specific difficulties and develop the topic and themes further, many listening activities will lead into discussion pieces. These could include;  Checking the answers to the the predictive questions and going back to the listening if they missed any.  Study of any new vocabulary, phrasal verbs, expressions etc that may have come up.  Checking pronunciation of certain words (especially if stronger accents were involved)  Giving opinions / thoughts on what happened during the text.

Having a definite structure to the activity gives students more chances to get it right and feel more confident about their listening skill.


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening

Example Listening Activity

SLE 3A: Perfect World. Materials: John Lennon's Imagine & Lyrics sheet Pre-Listening: During the class the students have been discussing what they would like to change about the world. I will extend this in the pre-listening to ask them what do they think a perfect world would look like. What would we need to add and what should we take away. They will do this in pairs for 3 minutes and then we will share with the class. I will then ask the class if they think a perfect world is possible or just a dream. I will then ask them about John Lennon a famous “dreamer” who wrote a very famous song about a perfect world “Imagine” and write this word on the board, explaining here that the word means 'to hope', Listening: I will instruct the students to write 1 - 9 on their paper, in the song John Lennon mentions 9 nouns that he believes the world needs or needs to get rid of to make it better. They must listen out for these first. The song will be played twice. Once everyone has their answers we will check it against the lyrics sheet and sing the song together. Post-Listening: For comprehension I will put three questions on the board about the positive and negative aspects of the song and end on an opinion question “ Do you believe any of these ideas are possible? Why or why not?” the students will answer these in pairs and then discuss as a class. As a follow up activity the students must write one more verse in the same style as John Lennon but they can add whatever nouns they want, they are told to be as creative as possible and then we will sing them as a class. SLE 2B: Would you like fries with that? Material: Menu from the book & pictures. Pre-Listening: Students will be given the 3 pictures, one of McDonalds, one of a western style family restaurant and one of a 5 star restaurant. They will discuss the differences between them, the food you would find in each and how you would behave in each. Key vocabulary (food will be put on board) Listening: I will give the students the dialogue between two customers (husband & wife) and a waiter in a nice restaurant. They must listen out for the food, from the given menu, that they order and fill in the blanks. We will listen twice and then the students will read in pairs. Post-Listening: We will check the answers, then students will discuss whether they would order the same food and drinks or something different and why. I will have put up some questions on the board about the way the couple asked questions to each other and to the waiter which will lead them to the polite and semi-polite requests ( Can I have/ Could I have / I would like) this will then lead onto the language study and practice. Later the students will use the listening dialogue and the menu to make their own role play.


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening

Common Mistakes and How to avoid them.  The CD sticks, the MP3 won't play, the tape gets chewed up. Teachers have suffered this for a long time, never rely entirely on technology no matter how primitive or advanced it is. Always have the script on hand so that you can read it out aloud if necessary, better this than to abandon the activity and suffer a frustrated class.  The listening is too fast or too difficult for the students to follow. Firstly, apart from very advanced classes, avoid any audio that was designed for native speakers as almost inevitably it will contain a lot of language that could be extremely difficult to follow. Try to always choose something designed for English learners or if you like the topic consider re-recording or adapting it on your computer or a Dictaphone to make it easier.  When I give the students the questions they only ever seem to answer one or two or none at all. Think about it, if your students are listening to something looking to answer question number one and the text has moved on to number three already they are going to miss everything. Always pay attention to this type of activity, if they are struggling it would be pointless to just continue to the end. The students see they have heard none of the answers and feel deflated. Pause where the answer should be, rewind guide them to the answers.  Students struggle to answer questions or infer a lot from the listening, even the main idea. Then you must vary the activity that you are using, if the questions in the book are too difficult then rewrite them. If you feel the activity itself is too difficult then replace it completely. There is a world of listening resources out there that will be better suited to your students. Replace single sentence answers with multiple choice, or replace a summary activity with a fill in the blank. Nowadays the internet has made life very easy for those willing to invest a bit of research.

Students must show comprehension of the text itself, watch a Czech movie without subtitles and see how much you can decipher!


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Module Five: How to Teach Listening Types of Listening Activity

No Overt response required, students listen to understand, watch facial expressions  Teacher tells story, joke, anecdote.  A text is read from another source (e.g. a book)  Useful as students should show enjoyment if the teacher tells it well.  Songs: stimulating as many famous English language singers known already, although the content of the song should be taken into consideration and lyric sheet at hand.  Videos, youtube, movie clips, your DVD collection can all be useful.  Following Instructions, directions around the classroom, blind man's bluff etc  Find the mistake, fill in the blanks, cloze, listen and circle the word. Longer Response Required, tests a higher skill level and involves more creativity.  Students must listen and answer questions in full.  Note taking based on a short lecture or advice slot.  Summarizing the listening in one or more sentences.  Extended fill in the blank with expressions not just words. Extended Response Required, a much higher level required, often leading onto other activities.  Problem solving, students listen to a dilemma or moral issue and offer advice, solutions  Opinion, students must understand a stated point of view and discuss their thoughts, do they agree or disagree, can be used to lead onto debate.  Very useful for testing student's understanding of stress, tone, intonation etc.

Useful links for Audio files www.itunes.org www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish www.youtube.com www.abc.com.au www.cnn.com www.cbs.com www.soundbites.org www.spotify.org www.teachersfile.com/mp3files www.123listening.com/audio Happy teaching, we will be listening!

Uber teaching module 5 listening