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Receptive Skills

Following a session on Receptive Skills, we had to teach from either a reading or listening section of a coursebook and consider a variety of questions. This was the result:

Class: Level 7, Pre-Advanced (A7ucA)

Coursebook: New English File Advanced, SB p22-23, Exercises 4a-f (listening)

Topic: Childhood memories

Analysis of the exercises

  • Is the text authentic or graded?
    There are three texts. The first consists of five different people speaking about their earliest memories. The second and third are both taken from the same interview discussing scientific research into memory. None of the texts are graded, which is only to be expected at this level, as students should be able to understand the majority of utterances.
  • What is the purpose of the listening?
    The listening is part of an overall unit about childhood memories. Students use it as a prompt for speaking about their own memories, which should use be discussed using ‘used to’, ‘would’ and narrative tenses, the grammar focus for the unit.
  • Is the text being used for skills or language practice?
    The text is mainly being used for skills practice (discussed below), although it also re-exposes students to the narrative tenses studied during the previous lesson.
  • What are the sub-skills that are being practised?
    Ex a: Identify inferences of meaning conveyed through both intonation and choice of lexis.
    Ex b: Intensive listening.
    Ex c-d: Prediction.
    Ex e: Note-taking, intensive listening.
    Ex f:  Responding appropriately to a text.

Lesson plan and notes [ ]

  • Talk about the pictures on the page. [activate schemata before listening]
  • SB p22 Ex 4a: Listen to people talking about their earliest memory. Match them to their emotion. [SS could do this with no problems.]
  • Ex 4b: Listen again. How old was each person? What was their memory? Answer the questions using a table drawn in their books (Speaker / Age / Memory) [Two of the memories were difficult for students to pinpoint accurately as they were not aware of the meaning of the following items of lexis: ‘to be a penny short’, ‘to pine’. We discussed them and listened again, after which students had no more problems understanding.]
  • Ex 4c: Discuss the questions with your partner. [Served to activate schemata in preparation for the listening.]
  • Ex 4d: Listen and check your answers. Was there anything surprising? [SS confirmed their predictions, thereby becoming engaged with the text.]
  • Ex 4e: Write down the key words for the memory. [SS only wanted to listen once, although the book recommended doing so twice. This is a more life-like situation, as it would be unusual to hear exactly the same piece of text more than once.]
  • Retell the story. [SS were motivated and engaged. They rebuilt the text by activating a range of grammatical and lexical knowledge.]
  • Listen and check. [SS discovered how accurate their rebuilt text was. Most of the new versions were quite different from the original, helping students to understand the benefit of being able to listen to a text more than once when in class.]
  • Ex 4f: Do you have any early memories about any of these things? [Using the listening texts for inspiration, students had a long and spirited discussion about their early memories.]


The variety of activities and sub-skills practised meant that students were engaged with the listening throughout the lesson.

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