I spent Saturday reading all about listening in preparation for my second LSA (Language Skills Assignment). While working through Penny Ur’s Teaching Listening Comprehension, I came across a few ideas which I’d like to try out. From both that and Listening (Anderson/Lynch), I’ve realised how little ‘natural’ English our learners generally hear. They often hear scripted things from the CD/mp3/films, or ‘teacher’ English from us, but not a lot of false starts, stuttering, repetition, and all of the other features of a normal English conversation. This was my variation on a grid activity suggested by Ur which I did with pre-intermediate students.
- I introduced a few adventure sports using pictures.
- Students drew a grid in their books (sorry for it’s a bit of a mess!):
like | would like
- I had a similar grid on my paper, where I had listed a few of the adventure sports:
like / would like
√ skydiving /climbing
x skiing /snowboarding
. rollerskating /
- I monologued about the sports above, telling the students what I like/don’t like doing and what I would (not) like to try. I made it into a kind of story, mixing up the sports: “When I lived in the Czech Republic, I went skiing, and I really didn’t like it because…” The first time they listened, all the students had to do was count how many sports were in each box.
- After students had compared in pairs (in true CELTA fashion!), I then monologued again, in a different order, but with roughly similar elements to my story. This time, students had to write down which sports were in each box. We then checked it on the board.
- Finally, students created their own tables, and did the same two-step process – listening and counting, then listening and writing.
Did it work?
Mostly, yes. One of the students even said it was much more useful doing listening like this. I ended up doing the monologue four times, as the first time students thought they were counting sports for themselves – they didn’t realise it was about me! Once they got the hang of it though, they seemed to be motivated, and were concentrating hard to try and get the right answers. They also enjoyed the chance to do it themselves afterwards.
It also served as a useful basis for looking at ‘like + ing’ and ‘would like to + infinitive’ which was the main focus of the lesson.
Doing it again
I’d pull out a few more phrases from my own monologue to help students build their own stories. I also needed to make it clearer that it was a listening exercise when I started! Apart from that, I’d follow a very similar procedure again.