Tag Archives: methodology

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! 🙂

Messy Words: a Vocabulary, Writing and Speaking Activity

It is October and autumn has officially hit. I am just beginning to come to terms with the fact that days are getting shorter and warm days are saying their goodbyes. Well, welcome autumn! I am all here for you!

Let’s kick it off this new season with a vocabulary revision activity that aims at reinforcing vocabulary while at the same time providing an opportunity for students to stretch their legs and interact with other students in the classroom. Gallery-walks, my favourite!

Aim: 

  • to reinforce the vocabulary of the lesson
  •  Use the vocabulary in context by
  1. writing an open-ended question containing the target word/expression
  2. answering the question by using the gallery-walk class dynamics

Procedure:

Before the class

  • Choose a few words you want to revise. I suggest 8-10 words. 
  • Fold a regular sheet of paper horizontally and cut it in half. You will get two slips of paper. This is a good opportunity to recycle the back of spare photocopies from other courses.
  • Write the letters of each word/expression you want to revise in random order. Number each of the slips of paper for easier reference.

During the class:

Step 1. Slips of paper on the walls

Put up the slips of paper on the walls of the class and ask students in pairs or in threes to stand up and work out what the hidden word on each slip of paper is. Ask them to number them as displayed on the walls. The first pair to have all the words, rings the bell (needless to say, there should be one on my table) and the rest of the class has one extra minute to finish this part.

Ask students to sit down.

Step 2. Writing open-ended questions

  • Students continue working in their pairs. Assign the pairs two of the words/expressions on the walls and ask them to write two open-ended questions –one per term related to “education” (this is the topic this week) containing the word or expression. 

For example, one of the words was “state-funded school” and one of the questions was “Would you send your children to a state-funded school? Why (not)?”

  • Give them small cards to write their questions and, using sellotape, place them next to the term the question refers to.  Ask them to write their names at the back of the card so that you know who has written the question and to give feedback.
  • Quickly correct the questions on the walls, and if there is more than one per word, choose the best one, which will remain displayed together with the slip containing the word in random order. Give the discarded questions back to their owners and allow them some time to focus on their possible mistakes.

Step 3. Speaking. Gallery walks

With the words and the questions displayed on the walls, ask students in pairs to stand up and choose a station (slip+card).

Instruct them to answer the question elaborating on the answer. Allow 5 minutes/station and then ask them to move clockwise to the next station. Repeat procedure.

Until next post! 🙂