Teaching Listening From The Yemen Times And An ELT Notebook

hear.JPGSometimes I feel like I am idea-d out on new classroom tips and activities to post, having shared many of them here already. So I’m always glad to see the practical tips of others, especially when they appear in my inbox thanks to Google News Alerts. The latest catch is an article about Teaching Listening from the Yemen Times, by Kalyani Samantrya, a professor of English at SB Women’s College in India.

She mostly focuses on the importance of letting students know that it’s okay if they don’t catch everything the first few times around. Learners who hold themselves to incredibly high standards can more easily get thrown off when they reach a part they don’t understand,and then, instead of waiting it out and catching what they can, they give up in disappointment or frustration. She also suggests a number of practical tips – listening for key words and guessing from the context – which students can use to increase their overall comprehension.

I think this makes a lot of sense, and it’s something I make an effort to convey to my students. But students do sometimes become frustrated when it seems all they can do is practice – isn’t there anything else to help them understand more?

Sue at An ELT Notebook addresses this topic thoroughly in a series of posts on listening. I really can’t capture her advice in a short post here, but a few random comments I found straightforward but useful were:

  • To improve comprehension, you can of course practice specific sounds that learners tend to confuse or just not hear. [I think this often comes up in the context of pronunciation, but it may help students if you make it explicit that this is related to listening – something you work on in another area will contribute to your comprehension; it’s not true that you are only ever practicing].
  • Listening to the passage yourself – without the tapescript – and remind yourself that if you have comprehension problems or can’t retain various details, it’s unrealistic to expect your students to. Also keep in mind that understanding and retention are two different things.
  • You can’t do everything every single time. There will be vocabulary or other items that you just leave out.
  • Head on over to An ELT Notebook to get the lowdown on Teaching Listening: Top Down or Bottom Up and much more.