Category Archives: Listening

Don’t Just Ask them to Listen. Strategies for Better Understanding

Let’s talk about listening!

Do you or your students struggle with listening? If we are going to come clean here, I have to confess that I do not like listening comprehension tests. I think that most of the times, they are so tricky that even though the student understands pretty well what is being said, very often they cannot guess the right answer, and this happens especially in Multiple Choice listening tests.  So, dear students, listening comprehension questions can be hard to answer but know that you are not the only ones suffering. I have heard native speakers teaching their own native language confess to being unable to guess the right answer.

 

On the bright side, there are some things that we, as teachers, can do to help students understand better, but one that is essential is to encourage the correct pronunciation of words in every lesson and to do exercises on connected speech often. Isn’t it true that you cannot expect a student to understand a word if they are mispronouncing it?

On the other hand, I  firmly believe that in order to get better at listening you need to become an active listener and there are a number of things that we can do to encourage this active listening.

These last weeks, I have been teaching about Education and obviously the listening comprehension exercises are all about education. The listening I am going to give them today is in their course books and the instructions read like this

You are going to hear five people talking about how they study for exams.

Nice topic, isn’t it?

Well, the idea is to not just play the listening and ask them to do the task but to introduce the topic and do some short activities that will prepare them for what they are going to hear.

IDEA 1. Focusing on the title

Ask a student to read aloud the introduction to the listening task in their course books and on the board write

 Studying  for an exam

Ask students to brainstorm in pairs vocabulary that might be said by the speakers in the listening activity. Write the words they come up with on the board. Don’t clean the board yet.

IDEA 2. Speaking

Using visuals is always a great idea and it never fails to spark a discussion. Ask the question: How do you revise for exams? and show them the two gifs below. Hopefully, you will, at least, get a smile from them.  Ask them to identify themselves with a gif and in pairs talk about the question. Get feedback.

IDEA  3. Play the listening the first time.

Remember the words on the board? Play the listening once and ask students to stand up every time they hear one of the words on the board. I guarantee they will be completely focused.

Thanks for reading. Enjoy! 🙂

A Wonderful Website to Practise Natural Spoken English: 1-2 minutes Audios

First of all, let me tell you that this is not a sponsored post. In fact, I have never been paid to feature a website or an app. I just write about what I find interesting to me or my students.

I bumped into High Level Listening quite by chance. Feeling a bit lazy myself but still wanting to offer my students the best, I did a web search hoping Google would do the work for me and find me vocabulary related to the media. Disappointingly, I couldn’t find anything I really, really liked (I apologize if you are reading this and you have published something wonderful. I am sorry,  I have probably missed it).

Fortunately, the search was not in vain and in fact, ended up being quite fruitful as I found this wonderful website owned by two teachers, Pat from America and Mark from the Uk, who record natural conversations (1-2 minutes long) on common topics introducing relevant vocabulary in a natural way.

The audios are perfect for note-taking listening activities activating the vocabulary featured in the conversations. In most cases, there is no transcript for the audio but there is a glossary of terms students can benefit from. Also, in some cases,  you can also request the transcript for free.

In my case, I am going to be focusing on Social Media vocabulary and to my delight, there are 5 posts dedicated to this topic. Check them out here

High Level Listening is perfect for B1 and B2 students who want to learn natural spoken English. I just hope they keep adding new topics.