Most coursebooks have a listening component, a CD of audio tracks to help students improve their listening skills. In this portion of a four-part series on extending coursebook material, I will give you a number of suggestions for using the listening tracks.
Repeat What You Just Heard
You can preview a listening track by playing a very brief section chosen at random, then asking your students to tell you what they heard. Do this 5 or 6 times, each time covering a different part of the listening track. Then ask students to speculate about the topic of the audio track. Can anyone guess what it’s about?
What Comes Next?
After students have heard a listening track several times, and done a few listening tasks, you can give them another chance to see what they picked up (perhaps later on in the lesson or even a few days later). Tell the class you are going to play the listening track and stop it somewhere in the middle. Each time you stop it, call on a student to guess what word or words come next. Then continue the track and repeat this procedure until you reach the end.
Listening With A Transcript
For this activity, you will need to prepare copies of the transcript for a listening track. Some coursebooks provide transcripts in the students’ books, while others have the transcripts in the teacher’s book only. In a few cases, you will need to write out your own transcript. Play the listening track once for your students. Then give them a couple of minutes to read the transcript and see what they missed. Now ask them to put the transcript away as you play the listening track a second time. Finally, ask students to re-read the transcript and circle 3 phrases they want to remember and use.
Grab The Phrases
Before class, write or print out 10 to 15 short phrases from the listening activity on cards (the phrases should be written/typed extra large), one phrase per card. Put a small piece of tape on the back of each card and put them up on the board. They should be scattered all over the board, and they shouldn’t follow the same order as in the listening. Arrange your class into two teams. Ask the teams to stand on different sides of the board. Tell everyone that they are about to hear a listening track and if they hear a phrase that is up on the board, they should grab it and bring it back to their team. Play the listening track and watch as students leap forward to tear the cards off the board. Once the listening track is over, award a small prize to the team with the most cards. Variation: you can make this a little more challenging by adding two or three cards with phrases that don’t appear in the listening. This activity comes from Nick Bilbrough’s incredible book, Dialogue Activities (Cambridge University Press).
Before class, take a transcript of a listening track that students have not listened to yet, and divide it into two roughly equal parts. Make enough copies so that half the class can get a copy of part one and half the class can get a copy of part two. In class, put the class into two groups. Tell each group that you are going to give them a different section of the transcript, and they need to write 3 comprehension questions about it. Pass out the transcripts to each group. Insist that each group keep their eyes off the other group’s section. When both groups have finished writing, ask them to put their questions on the board. Next, tell students they need to listen carefully as you play the listening track. You will play it twice, and then each group will have 5 minutes to write the answers to the other group’s questions on the board. When each group has written up their answers, play the listening track again, and go over the answers with the class. You might wish to provide a complete transcript for the whole class at the end of the activity.
Listening Without Distractions
At the end of class, tell your students that you would like to give them a chance to review the listening practice one last time. Ask everyone to put their heads on their desks and close their eyes. Look around the classroom to see if they are following your instructions. Then turn off the lights and play the audio. When you turn the lights on, you can ask several students to tell you a word or a sentence they remember from the listening.
Hall Houston teaches at Kainan University in Taoyuan County, Taiwan. His articles have been published in periodicals such as It's for Teachers, Modern English Teacher and English Teaching Professional. He has written 3 books: The Creative Classroom: Teaching Languages Outside the Box, Provoking Thought: Memory and Thinking in ELT, and The ELT Daily Journal: Learning to Teach ESL/EFL.