Here we are to talk about education and the new challenges in this field

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

How to integrate listening in your lessons

This time I would like to write a little bit about listening. Many teachers consider that listening is not very important, as long as students have to listen to their teacher during the whole class. Things are different. It's true, they have to listen to us, but as long as we (the non-native speakers) speak mainly Englishes, not English, we should do something and expose our students to authentic listening materials. I am against the CDs and the tapes accompanying our textbooks. They are artificial: the texts are read by British actors / actresses, who sometimes speak with American / Canadian / Australian accent. They are not authentic. I had better find some authentic materials online. My idea is that listening is important.

We should integrate listening in our lessons. It's nothing more boring than telling students: "And now, you will listen to a fragment... ". That moment we lose our students' attention and interest. They consider it just another chore... But, we can avoid it! I will give you an example. One day, one of my lessons had as objectives enabling students to speak about personal details. After reading a short text, after speaking, they had to solve an exercise based on a text. I made the transition in the most natural way possible. I asked students if they thought the person presented in the text is real or not. Some of them said she was real, some others said she wasn't. I congratulated those who said she was real and I gave them the proof: they could listen to her voice.

When students listen to a text, they must do something: find a figure, answer a question, solve an exercise. Otherwise, they don't pay attention to the listening activity, and they get bored and uninterested. And, don't forget about the golden rule: listen - check with a partner - listen again.

A listening text should be played up to 4 times - at the maximum. If the students' level is poor, it's better  to stop after every single sequence having the information they need. In this way they will get used to listening and their English will improve.

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