Teaching listening – example lesson and reflection

This post was inspired by a listening lesson I did twice with two different elementary level 1-1 students last week. It is based on the listening from Breaking News English which you can find here. I decided to do something different from what the lesson plan on the website suggested, and devise my own procedure, taking into account the 15 listening tips I wrote about last month: “Planning a listening lesson – 15 tips”, which try to take you beyond the standard CELTA approach.

Listening devices

First, please read through the lesson plan below and identify which of the 15 listening tips I used when designing the lesson procedure. Afterwards, you can check with my comments and reflections below the lesson plan.

Lesson procedure

Lead-in:

  1. Are you enjoying the World Cup? Why (not)?
  2. What were the best/worst moments so far?
  3. Did any of the results surprise you? Why (not)?
  4. Which teams and players impressed you most?

2014 FIFA World Cup

Listening for gist:

Don’t worry about understanding every single word. Does the speaker like the World Cup so far? Which games does he mention? (listening text)

Speaking:

Do you share the speaker’s opinion? Did you enjoy the games he mentioned as well?

Relistening:

What was difficult about the first listening? Which parts would you like to listen to again? Write at least one question/doubt you have:

Speaking:

What new information did you learn after the second listening? Were any parts still difficult to understand?

Vocabulary:

What words do you associate with football and the World Cup? Prepare a mind map. You can use a dictionary. Don’t write individual words, but try to focus on phrases, e.g. score a goal

Listening 3: vocabulary

Listen and tick the words on the mind map that you hear.

Speaking:

Use the words you ticked above to retell the text.

Reading: vocabulary

Read the text and underline any other phrases connected to the World Cup. Remember to underline whole phrases (2 – 3 words), not single words.

Speaking:

Use the words and phrases to prepare some questions about the World Cup for your partner.

Reflection:

  • How did the first exercise prepare you for the listening text?
  • Was the first listening about details or the general meaning? Why?
  • Do you need to understand all the words to understand the general meaning?
  • Why is the Relistening stage important? Should you listen to the whole text again?
  • How did we prepare for the difficult vocabulary in the text?
  • What did we do with the new words? Why?

Homework:

Find a news item on the Internet and use the tips from this class to listen to it.

My reflection and comments:8bf41-ca_029_calvin_hobbes_ponder__65012

  1. Why this text? Both of the students I did the lesson with are keen on football, and are very likely to discuss the World Cup with friends in English, but had limited language to do so. As a result, I knew the topic would be engaging, relevant and current (Tip 1), catering at once to the students immediate needs, lacks and wants.
  2. The lead-in. At this stage I tried to both engage the student in the topic (Tip 2), as well as activate their topic and language schema to prepare them for what they might hear, as the questions in the Lead-in roughly correspond to what the speaker is going to talk about.
  3. The gist task: it is important the task is achievable in one listening and that it prompts a natural and personal response to the text (Tip 4). Both students managed to identify the speakers feelings towards the World Cup and most of the games mentioned although they did not understand everything. The short speaking that followed prompted a personal reaction from the student, which is the most natural thing after a short news item (i.e. we usually comment on the news with our friends). And all too often this is left until the very end of the class and not given enough prominence.
  4. Knowing the task (Tip 5): it might sound obvious, but the student should know what is expected of them, especially if you want them to do the task correctly. A good idea is to ICQ: Is it important to understand everything? Are you going to focus on difficult words or global meaning?
  5. TAPE: Task-oriented, Authentic, Purposeful and Engaging – more on this here.
  6. Relestining: I very rarely nowadays prepare more specific questions for the second listening, but let the students do it themselves by deciding on the parts they would like to listen to again (Tip 10), or responding to the queries they have (Tip 12). They might need guidance the first time round, and writing down specific questions or doubts might help them be more specific. The aim is to do some micro teaching here, rather than listening to the whole text again (Tip 9).
  7. Anticipating difficulties (Tip 7): I decided to focus on football-related vocabulary, because I knew from previous classes that both students lacked it. They also expressed a keen interest in learning more as they wanted to talk to their friends about the World Cup. Consequently, if you were to design your lesson around the same text (or a different one), you should ask yourself what the students might find difficult about it, and how you can tackle these issues through the task design.
  8. Solving the anticipated problems (Tip 14): since my students were quite low-level, I scaffolded the work on lexis through a mind map and some dictionary work (which is an important self-study skill in itself), listening, and then reading. A more challenging alternative would be to first listen and to write down the phrases.
  9. Why chunks? both of my students have got into the habit of translating phrases word by word from their L1, so I wanted to emphasise the importance of learning chunks, which we had already talked about in previous classes.
  10. Reflection stage (Tip 8): since doing the DELTA, I’ve realised how important it is to reflect with students on the purpose of the tasks and the learning process. If you really want them to use the sub-skills you practise in class to improve their listening, it is essential to discuss them. Otherwise, the students are unlikely to realise what and why has been done in class as the results of teaching receptive skills are much less tangible than those of teaching lexis or grammar.
  11. Going beyond the class: for me the ultimate aim of teaching is equipping the students with skills and language they can use outside the class. That’s why it is crucial to set a meaningful homework task, which will encourage students to use the skills practised in class to better tackle similar listening texts (Tip 15). Lizzy Pinnard wrote a series of fantastic posts on the development of autonomous listening skills which you can read here.

Final thoughts

When planning your next listening lesson, ask yourself and think about:

Thinking

  • what is difficult about this particular listening?
  • how would you listen to this text? (e.g. as an eavesdropper, participant, general vs detailed understanding)
  • how can I design the tasks to reflect the above?
  • how can I develop learners’ ability with this particular text (e.g. informal chat) or way of listening (e.g. note–taking) beyond the class?

As always, I’d love to hear what you think in the comments section.

Read up on listening:

  1. Planning a listening lesson – 15 tips
  2. Let’s bring back the TAPEs – on making your listening lessons Task-oriented, Authentic, Purposeful and Engagning
  3. The Real Deal -on authentic materials and tasks
  4. Autonomous listening skill development by Lizzie Pinnard – on helping students improve their listening outside the class

 

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11 thoughts on “Teaching listening – example lesson and reflection

  1. Very useful thanks, I’m doing some listening tomorrow with a business english class and I’m going to try to take the lesson beyond what is suggested in the materials by using some of your ideas.

      1. Your tips made a difference, thanks! By making the gist questions quite simple and achievable the learners seemed to have more confidence when we progressed to listening for a second time.

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