I have finally got round to posting a selection of the remedial activities I use when my students find listening exercises difficult, although they are all great activities we can use in their own right to try and teach our learners to listen better.
I didn’t know the vocabulary…
Activity 1: Listen again with the tapescript and underline any new words. Sometimes learners understand the words on paper but don’t recognize the pronunciation.
– New vocabulary can be taught, or difficult pronunciation practised.
Activity 2: An alternative activity is to read the tapescript.
Both activities above could easily continue into roleplays or pronunciation practice.
The speaker(s) didn’t speak clearly, The speakers spoke very quickly……
Activity 1 (Not using the tapescript):
– Listen for key vocabulary/stressed words.
– Then try to answer the questions.
– After this, learners could try to add the unstressed words.
This should help them recognize the content words in the sentences and to notice that unstressed words are grammar words.
This activity could also be even used instead of the standard listening procedure in the coursebook.
Activity 2: Use the tapescript to underline stressed words.
– After demonstrating that content words are stressed, this can be done as a predicting activity and listen to check.
A logical follow up here would be to do pronunciation practice.
I couldn’t hear where the words started and finished …….
Activity 1: Listen for words which are connected and elicit when and how native speakers connect words.
Activity 2: The activities described above could also be useful in addressing this problem.
I couldn’t answer the questions correctly
Check again that they understand the questions. Listen again. Any better?
Ask them to describe what they heard…..
The speaker(s) had a horrible accent……….
After discussing this problem further, activity choices can be made. Any of the above may be beneficial, or a focus on sounds can be carried out. This could also be useful for other problems too.
A couple of example activities of this kind:
– Identify all ‘ɑː’ sounds (while using the tapescript).
– Learner listens and circles or underlines all occasions of that sound (while using the tapescript).
(These could also be done as prediction activities)
– Is the pronunciation standard? Or does the speaker have a regional accent? I believe it is very important to raise awareness of this
– Listen together, stopping as necessary and practising.
– Read out loud and practise pronunciation.
Activities focussing on intonation may also be beneficial here.
The activities listed above are not activities I have invented myself, but what I have picked up over the years from a range of sources. If you are unfamiliar with any of them, please let me know and I would be happy to go into more detail….
Below are some useful references and resources for further reading on listening and pronunciation:
Hedge, T. (2000) Teaching and Learning in the Language Classroom. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lewis, M. (1993) The Lexical Approach. Heinle.
Ridgeway, T. (2000) Listening Strategies- I beg your pardon? ELT Journal April 2000, 54/2: 179-185
Underhill, A. (2011a) Introducing the pronunciation chart to your class. Retrieved 8 October, 2012, from: http://adrianpronchart.wordpress.com/2011/01/31/how-to-introduce-the-pron-chart-to-your-class/
Underhill, A. (2011b) Introduction to Teaching Pronunciation Workshop. Macmillan Education. Retrieved 5 October, 2012, from: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1kAPHyHd7Lo
Underhill, A. (2005) Sound Foundations. Learning and teaching pronunciation. Macmillan Publishers Limited.
Ur, P. (2011) A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
White, G. (1998) Listening. Oxford: Oxford