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Teaching Listening Comprehension to Speakers of English as a Second Language
Natalya Al. Dudkovskaya
Thesis Advisor: Oxana V. Pikhota
Example 1. Decision – making activity
It is famous for posting the first stamp in the world. It happened in this historic building on 2 May, 1840. The stamp`s name was Penny Black. In the museum there is an old post office, a collection of stamps, a film room, a tea room and a children`s activity room.
Student A: Let`s go to the Postal Museum. There is a collection of a stamps there.
Student B: Yes, let`s. That`s good idea. I love stamps. / Oh no, it`s boring. Let`s go to the….
Example 2. Pre – reading activity
«Flip the frame»
Step 1. Give Text A out to half students and Text B to the other half.
Step 2. They read their stories without talking to people who have the other story.
Pair Text A and Text B people. They tell their stories orally and then compare the written texts.
Text A: The Master
A man was married to a shrew who ordered him around the livelong day. Once, when she had several women friends calling on her, she wanted to show off before them what absolute control she had over her husband:
«Francis!» she ordered, «get under the table!» Without a word the man climbed under the table. «Now, Francis, come out! » she again commanded. «I won`t, I won`t» he defied her angrily. «I`ll show you that I`m still a master in this house!»
Text B: The Mistress
A woman was married to a bully who ordered her around the livelong day. Once, when he had several of his friends calling on him, he wanted to show off before them what absolute control he had over his wife: «Frances! » he ordered, «get under the table!» Without a word the woman crawled under the table. «Now, Frances, come out!» he again commanded. «I won`t, I won`t! » she defied him angrily. «I`ll show you that I`m still a mistress in this house! »
Example 3. Pre – writing activity
This activity begins with students hearing a poem. As they recall the vocabulary of the poem, they will also recall associations, personal memories, and other texts they have read or heard, and so on. These recollections form the basis of dialogues they then construct.
«Dialogue from a poem»
The sea and the sky.
A sailing boat and a star.
What else do you need in life?
A little more courage perhaps.
Step 1. Read the poem once. Afterwards, students write down any words they remember.
Step 2. Students look at each other`s world lists. If they see a world they recall hearing but didn`t write, they add it to their list now.
Step 3. Form groups of three or so. Ask the students to produce a single sheet on which the words they heard are put either under the heading «he» or under the heading «she».
Step 4. Using only words and phrases from these two pools, each group composes a «he» – «she» dialogue that expresses what they understood of mood, feelings and relationship. Each group member makes a copy.
Step 5. Form pairs and swap papers around.
Step 6. Each pair has two copies of a dialogue they had no part in composing, or:
Step 7. Each member of each pair has a copy of the dialogue by their earlier group. The pairs rehearse reading their dialogues aloud. Circulate and coach.
Step 8. Pairs perform before the whole class or, in large classes, before halves or quarters of the class.
Six main principles behind the teaching of listening:
The tape recorder is just as important as the tape
Preparation is vital
Once will not be enough
Students should be encouraged to respond to the content of a listening, not just to the language
Different listening stages demand different listening skills
Good teachers exploit listening texts to the full
Effective strategies in teaching listening:
Top –down strategy
Bottom – up strategy
Listening for meaning
Playing the tape without sound
Freezing the picture
Playing the tape but covering the picture
Top – down strategy include:
Listening for the main idea
Bottom – up strategies include:
Listening for specific details
Recognizing word – order patterns
Listening for meaning. Four basic steps:
Step 1. Figure out the purpose for listening
Step 2. Attend to the parts of the listening input that are relevant to the identified purpose and ignore the rest
Step 3. Select top – down and bottom – up strategies that are appropriate to the listening task and use them flexibly and interactively.
Step 4. Check comprehension while listening and when the listening task is over.
Special techniques for video:
Playing the tape without sound: students and teacher discuss what they see, what clues it gives them and then they guess what the characters are actually saying. Once they have predicted the conversation, the teacher rewinds the video and plays it with sound. Were they right?
Playing the tape but covering the picture: this reverses the previous procedure. While the students listen, they try to judge where the speakers are, what they look like, what`s going on etc. When they have predicted this, they listen again, this time with the visual images as well. Were they correct?
Freezing the picture: the teacher presses the pause button and asks the students what`s going to happen next. Can they predict?
Dividing the class in half: half the class face the screen. The other half sit with their backs to it. The «screen» half describe the visual images to the «wall» half.
Types of listening activities:
Continue a story text
Solve a problem
Perform a similar task with a classmate after listening to a model
Listening aided by visuals, pictures, diagrams, guessing definitions, answer questions, summarizing, interpretation
Example 4. Guessing definitions
Teacher reads –«an agreement with a bank that allows you to keep your money there»;
Learners write down – «bank account». Teacher reads or says –«to use something such as money very carefully, so that you waste as little as possible»; learners write down – «to economize». Teacher says – «to plan the way you will spend the money you have». Learners write down – «to budget»
Example 5. Answer questions
Where does Computery live?
What games does he play?
How often does he play?
When does he start?
Why does he play chess?
I`m Computery. I`ve got a brother Compi and a sister Compa. We live in Computertown. Compi and Compa like playing computer games and darts. I like playing computer games and chess. I play them every day. I usually start at 9. Computer games are interesting and chess makes me clever.
Example 6. Paraphrasing and translating
Original: After we'd seen the film, we felt so disturbed we just couldn't go to bed.
Paraphrase : That film was so exciting we couldn't sleep after it.
Original: So we sat up talking about it until 3.0 a.m.
Paraphrase: We went on discussing it until three in the morning
Original: I mean, makes you wonder, a film like that.
Paraphrase : Films like that make you think about things.
Original: Jackie, what's the time?
Paraphrase: He asked Jackie what the time was.
Original: Five, I think.
Paraphrase: She said she thought it was five o'clock.
Original: Well, come on then, let's go.
Paraphrase: He said they had to go.
Original: Where to?
Paraphrase: She asked where they had to go to.
Example 7. Interpretation
Take a skipping rope. Skip!
Oh! You can`t skip!
Run to your aunt/uncle/granny.
Oh, she can skip!
Well done, granny! Clap your hands.
Listening Comprehension: Ways of Assessing
Three main approaches to assessing listening:
The discrete – point approach
The most common listening – testing activities:
Multiple – choice
True – false format
Cloze – test format
Open – ended question format
Example 8. Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) Test – takers look at a picture and hear four statements. They choose the one that best describes the picture.
A) the translation has been completed.
B) they`re filling out the forms by hand.
C) the woman is using the keyboard.
D) they`re watching a programme on television.
Example 9 Test – takers look at a picture of a woman cutting another woman`s hair
A) her work hours have been cut.
B) she`s finished clipping out the article.
C) there`s not much air in this room.
D) she`s giving the person a haircut.
Example 10. Test of English as a Foreign Language ( TOEFL)
Test – takers see a male and female student talking to each other just inside a door.
M: How are you?
F: Okay. I guess, but the wind is so strong i could hardly make it here from the bus stop
M: Thank goodness, it isn’t a cold day.
Example 11. Test – takers hear and read the question, read the options, and reply.
Q 1. What does the man imply?
(a)The woman should not be out of breath.
(b)The weather could be worse.
(c) The bus must have been late.
(d) He is glad the woman’s cold is not severe.
Example 12. Test – takers see a picture of a male and female student sitting in a lounge.
M: Tina’s doing much better in her biology class isn’t she
F: Yes she’s really come a long way.
Example 13. Test – takers hear and read the question, read the options, and reply.
Q 2. What does the man say about Tina?
(a) She has made a lot of progress.
(b) She was always good in biology
(c) She travels a long distance to class.
(d) She has been studying biology for hours.
International English Language Testing System ( IELTS)
Section 1 is a conversation between two people set in an everyday social context (e.g. a conversation in an accommodation agency).
Section 2 is a monologue set in an everyday social context (e.g. a speech about local facilities or a talk about the arrangements for meals during a conference).
Section 3 is a conversation between up to four people set in an educational or training context (e.g. a university tutor and a student discussing an assignment, or a group of students planning a research project).
Section 4 is a monologue on an academic subject (e.g. a university lecture). The first three sections have a break in the middle allowing candidates to look at the remaining questions. It is heard only once.
The First Certificate in English (FCE)
Part Task type Task description
1 Comprehension questions on short texts Test – takers listen to monologues or interactions, about 30 sec long, and answer three – option multiple – choice questions
2 Note taking or blank filling Test – takers listen to a monologue or interactions, approximately 3 min long, and complete statements or fill in missing information
3 Multiple matching Test – takers listen to a series of short monologues or interactions, about 30 sec long, and select a short summary from a list of summary statements
4 Comprehension questions on a longer text Test – takers listen to a 3 min monologue, or interaction, and then answer multiple – choice questions
Example 14. Unified State Exam ( EGE)
Match the statements of each speaker's 1- 6 and the statements given in the list of A-G.
I'm trying to get back on track again with healthy food. I've been really bad this couple of months, resulting in a horrible weight gain. I still go to the gym 3-4 times a week, but I eat a lot of unhealthy snacks between meals. I somehow thought it's my reward for going to the gym, but it certainly made me gain more weight rather than lose it. I figure if I can replace my dinner with fruits, I will achieve weight loss easily and in a healthy way. But the problem is, after the gym when I feel really hungry the first thing I look for is something savoury.
Speaker2 My name is Jenna and I'm 17 years old. I'd never had weight issues until last year. I had some problems that made me very depressed, so I ate all the time and watched TV because I didn't want to leave the house. I know that's not an excuse for eating so unhealthily, but I was in my own little world, you could say. I'm a very athletic person and I still have all my muscle, but I've just gained weight. I've decided to start my diet on Wednesday and work out Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays with one of my friends…..
Example 14. Unified State Exam (EGE)
A. I eat a lot trying to forget my problems.
B. I cannot lose weight as I combine exercising and eating unhealthy food.
C. I have gained weight after changing my habits.
D. I would like to lose weight without changing my habits radically.
E. I feel very unhappy because I cannot help eating unhealthy food.
F. I expected to gain weight but in fact I haven't.
G. I don't have any weight problems in spite of eating whatever I want.
Example 15. Unified State Exam (EGE)
In tasks A8 - A14 circle the number 1, 2 or 3, corresponding to their chosen answer choice.
Again, I'm not sure how this works in any other part of the world. At my university we have a student-elected body of representatives called «The Union». It is a quasi-political body, elected from the student body and meant to represent the student body as a whole. However, I have doubts about their ability to represent me, and any other mature student at that university.
Let me begin by saying that this year's President likes to be called «Gravy». The behavior of the Union on the whole reflects this level of maturity. This year I ran for the office, I promised someone that I would run. A random meeting with next year's President and a rant about how ineffectual I thought the Union was brought this about, and I must say, my mates gave me a lot of support. However, I did not make the effort to canvass, I did not want the position…..
Example 15. Unified State Exam (EGE)
A8. The narrator says that the Union is a body which
1) includes both - the students and the teachers.
2) is of a political character.
3) does not represent all groups of students.
A9. According to the narrator the behavior of the Union members shows
1) a high level of intellect.
2) a lack of maturity.
3) a sense of responsibility.
A10. The narrator ran for the office because
1) he had supporters.
2) he wanted the position.
3) he was sure he would make it…
Teaching Listening Comprehension to Speakers of English as a Second Language
Natalya Al. Dudkovskaya
Thesis Advisor: Oksana V. Pikhota
for your attention!